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QUOTE (Bearster @ Aug 5 2004 @ 10:20 PM)

I don't see either one as possible -- at least not in America -- for the reasons given by Ayn Rand:

Betsy, the context was quite clear. I was talking about what happens *after* a catastrophic, cataclysmic, terrorist holocaust. I was talking about America in the aftermath of a terrorist nuclear strike against the largest US cities in the same instant.

Your cite isn't relevant--and you know it. I don't believe that you lost track of the context I was addressing. You cited Rand by rote, because who could argue with Ayn Rand herself, right?

The fact is, Rand was talking about the US in the what, 1960's? That was a different culture than what will be if the terrorists nuke 100,000,000 Americans. Don't you agree?

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Second, a dictatorship would emerge. People would not understand the cause of their woes, and a slick-talking Hitler type of man would emerge with strong rhetoric.

Maybe a theocracy would emerge?

I don't see either one as possible -- at least not in America -- for the reasons given by Ayn Rand:

Betsy, the context was quite clear.  I was talking about what happens *after* a catastrophic, cataclysmic, terrorist holocaust. I was talking about America in the aftermath of a terrorist nuclear strike against the largest US cities in the same instant.

So was I.

Your cite isn't relevant--and you know it.
I do?? Can you read my mind better than I can? How do you manage to do that? :P

I don't believe that you lost track of the context I was addressing.  You cited Rand by rote, because who could argue with Ayn Rand herself, right?

I cited that particular quotation from Ayn Rand because she gave reasons why a dictatorship was unlikely to take over in the US which was the point under discussion. Observe that I cited "the REASONS given by Ayn Rand" and not simply that Ayn Rand said it. The purpose was to direct the discussion to those reasons and not to chastise anyone for disagreeing with Ayn Rand.

The fact is, Rand was talking about the US in the what, 1960's?  That was a different culture than what will be if the terrorists nuke 100,000,000 Americans.  Don't you agree?

NO!

In fact, I think the American culture is BETTER now than in the 1960's due to the growing influence of Objectivism and Objectivists. The reasons Ayn Rand gave for believing that a dictatorship is not possible are as true as ever -- maybe moreso.

If you disagree with Ayn Rand or hold that her arguments and reasons are no longer relevant, please explain WHY. Deal with the message and not the messenger. Accusing me of context dropping, having devious motives, or quoting "by rote" is no substitute for a rational argument.

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What might a rational morality be?

Objectivism, of course.

Religion is not predicated on reason and as such it cannot be affected by it.
Religion is predicated on the fact that men need values in order to live. Up until now, religion has been the sole supplier or values.

Where ever we find humans who think that emotions are most or all that matters then religion is here to stay. I would venture to say that that is the disposition of most human beings.

I wouldn't.

I know many, many people who accept religion as the only way they know to defend values and be good people. I show them how to defend values with facts instead of faith and win them over for Objectivism. It's a very easy sell if you pick the right people.

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Betsy and others:

The issue of censorship alone is why I would not vote for Bush. (I am Canadian so I can't vote anyway)

Once freedom of speech goes (see how the FCC has been empowered and expanded under Bush's watch), then a free nation is really under threat. Objectivism and therefore positive social change has a chance only when freedom of speech exists. Bush means religious business. He is not a pragmatist like most US Presidents over the years but a fundamantalist Christian who is on an ideological mission to reshape America.

The concrete effects of his ideas and those of the religious right slowly are emerging: FCC, stemcell restrictions, corporate restictions, proposals to ban same-sex marriage etc.

If the Ann Couters or David Frums were indeed running the world, I would not be too concerned--as they share many valid ideas about the fundamentals of a free society. But Bush is no Neo-Con--he is a religious zelot with censorship as his major weapon against anything non Christian. Sounds alot like theocracies like Iran or dictarships like North Korea?

America is not a theocracy yet but with a strong religious base empowered by Bush and his regulators, the first freedom to go will be censorship and THEN we are down a slippery slope that America has NEVER travelled before. I am afraid that in the years to come under Bush, America is under threat to become a christanized state. In US history, secularism has always won out over Christianity despite the wide acceptance and practice of Christianity by its leaders and people. The American "sprit" of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has endured Christrian altruism in part because US institutions were established based on reason and rights--institutions that reinforced philosophical ideas that ran contrary to Christianity and were supported by its leaders. But for the first time, those very institutions are under direct attack by the commander and chief and his staff. And for the first time, I support the democrats.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I must first say that I hate Kerry like I've never hated another person in all of my life. I am a Viet Nam vet. I served almost two tours in Viet Nam as Navy nurse. I also lost my first husband in that war.

I say "almost two tours" because I was sent back to the states to be medically discharged during the last half of my second tour. I got back to the states in April of 1971 -- just in time to see Mr. Kerry pretend to toss his medals and offer his "testimony" to the American people. That he lied is a fact. That he gave aid and comfort to the enemy is a fact. That he gave the enemy a propaganda coup that won them the war (though he didn't do this alone, of course), is a fact. That he caused untold misery to his "band of brothers" (including me) is a fact. After spending almost two years helping to put young men back together both physically and mentally, I came home to hear those same young men accused of atrocities and war crimes. I watched as they were spat upon and called baby killers and worse. (This is already happening again, by the way.) John Kerry and his fellow traitors did what no one else was able to do in the history of this country -- lose a war.

He did it all for political expediency.

Now he uses the war once again for political expediency, having his cake while eating it.

There is nothing in this man's career that tells me that he's changed. If we have a weak intelligence community, it is because he and others like him did everything in their power (which, as a Senator is considerable) to weaken it. If we don't have as strong a military as we need, and must therefore use our reserves as front line troops, it is because he and those like him decimated it. If we have half of our population standing up making ridiculous anti-American protests, we have John Kerry and those like him to thank for their philosophy and their example and their nostalgia. If we have a large portion of our population so uneducated that they cannot understand the issues, we have John Kerry and those like him to thank.

Now I see people here seriously proposing to put John Kerry and those like him into the White House while we are at war. It is the half of the population that KNOWS we are at war who are for Bush. Look at the other half, those who favor Kerry, those who deny that this is even a war and equate Bush to Hitler. These are the people whose voice you would have in the office of President of the United States. Those who spit on America and damn us for defending ourselves because we are too evil to defend. They blame the victims, you and I, for the murder of our fellow citizens.

I have always had a problem when discussing the ethics of Christianity and socialism because the only difference between the two is the stated beneficiary of all the sacrifice demanded. Both are altruistic and both are, thus equally evil philosophically. The one thing that has always definded American Christianity, however, is how fundamentally unserious most American Christians are about it. They go to church on Sunday and give lip service to it the rest of the week. They are vulnerable to the siren call of socialist policies because they are Christians, but this has always been dampened by the basic American virtues of self-reliance and personal freedom. Both of these virtues have been eroded considerably since the 1930's. During times of national emergency, Americans have voiced their religion louder than usual. (It's always easier if God is on your side. (Heh)) I know that there is a more concentrated effort these days to change, but I see it the same way that I see the socialists, as a power grab. The movement has arisen in the face of increased socialist policies, with the money and power each involves, we have endured since the 1930s. They would do nothing fundamentally different than the left has done, but they see the left as "godless" and prefer the money to be in their own "godly" hands, to be dispenced as they see fit. They are dangerous, but no more so than the other varying schools of socialism that rule thought in this country right now. The only thing that will kill all of them dead in their tracks is Objectvism.

The best way to give the fundamentalists (both Christian and Islamic) a boost they could never get otherwise is to put John Kerry, and those like him, in charge of this war. Which direction do you think the country will take after Kerry allows the level of carnage to rise as he takes the terrorists to court?

Bush has made very many mistakes. I disagree with the way in which he has handled the war, both aboard and (even more importantly) here at home. I do see the overall strategy that is being used, however. You can too, just by looking at a map. But I constantly hear people speak as though all George Bush has to do is breath an edict and his minions would scurry to do his bidding. The POTUS is not a dictator. He is the leader of a contentious, irresolute, divided people, everyone of whom thinks they have the answer to this problem. His administration is as divided as the rest of the country and he hasn't cleaned house so that we have a consistent policy.

As an aside to those who insist that we ought to nuke the enemy and be done with it: Aside from the fact that the economy of the world would tank if we destroyed the countries of the Middle East, this country would not stand for the destruction of all those people. You can talk about the ethics of collateral damage all you want, the people of this country would not allow it, or allow anyone who did it to remain in office. At this point. You may come to the (correct, as far as I'm concerned) ethical determination that this is the proper thing to do, but without the citizenry behind you, you would murder this country for all time by such an act. We may not have to ask for permission to protect outselves, but we do live in this world and the world would condemn us completely if we used nuclear weapons, and they would have most of the American people with them. If you think that the anti-Americanism and America hatred within this country is bad now, what do you think it would be after the destruction of Iran, for instance, whose government is as corrupt as it gets, but whose people are actively seeking freedom. Personally, I think it will take more than we have suffered for the country to get behind a more aggressive war. We may have been able to do so in the beginning, but the government and its bureaucracy was (and still is) unprepared to commit to the proper level of aggression. Bush is only part of the government, remember. He works within a certain framework. Even now the greatest part of that framework is more concerned with doing the politically correct thing, as opposed to fighting and winning a war. (Giving just one example: the farce now being enacted at Gitmo, on orders from the Court.)

To close, I would like to ask you all a question (which is, unfortunately, not merely rhetorical): If this country is attacked before the election, a la Spain, would it effect your vote? In what way?

(I'm sorry if this has been incoherent. I haven't been well lately so I haven't been posting. The idea that anyone could even think of voting for that bastard prompted me to do so now. I have the greatest respect for Dr. Peikoff, but that respect will never override my memories of John Kerry calling my husband and "my boys" rapists, torturers and war criminals. If he had apologized and admitted he lied, I might feel differently. But, when confronted with a video of his allegations from 1972 (?), he said only that they were a little over the top -- after commenting about the fact that he had more hair back then.)

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Janet,

Thank you for your very coherent, most interesting, and justifiably impassioned post. You've made many excellent points to consider.

And thank you for your own heroic efforts to protect America and her "boys" during the Vietnam War.

I am sorry for the loss of your first husband in that war. I hope that the years since that war have been good to and for you.

I hope you the best of health.

John

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The issue of censorship alone is why I would not vote for Bush. (I am Canadian so I can't vote anyway)

Once freedom of speech goes (see how the FCC has been empowered and expanded under Bush's watch), then a free nation is really under threat.

Then observe that the Fairness Doctrine, which Ayn Rand railed against, was abolished by Reagan. This lead to the rise of (almost entirely Right-Wing) Talk Radio that successfully challenged the Liberal media monopoly over all three TV networks and all the major metropolitan newspapers.

Observe that while religious conservatives may get upset about Janet Jackson's boob or Howard Stern's language, the real move toward censoring IDEAS -- the "Hush Rush" bills and calls for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine -- are coming from the Democrats.

Objectivism and therefore positive social change has a chance only when freedom of speech exists. Bush means religious business. He is not a pragmatist like most US Presidents over the years but a fundamentalist Christian who is on an ideological mission to reshape America.
I don't see evidence for that, and if you have it, I'd like to see it. But even if it were true, there is no general support for censorship from either the Right or the Left and plenty of people who would holler bloody murder when someone tries it. Besides the separation of powers in our Constitution would not allow a President to do that.

The concrete effects of his ideas and those of the religious right slowly are emerging: FCC, stemcell restrictions, corporate restrictions, proposals to ban same-sex marriage etc.

Like I said, it is the Democrats who want to censor ideas using the FCC.

If stem cell research cannot get government funding, that isn't good, but if I can't get a doctor because of Democrats promoting socialized medicine, it's a greater threat to my health.

Observe that almost ALL the anti-corporate rhetoric is coming from the Left.

Ask yourself which is the greater threat: the inability of gay couples to call their partnerships and other contractual arrangements "marriage" or the inability for our country to defend itself against terrorism because France does not approve?

I am afraid that in the years to come under Bush, America is under threat to become a christanized state.
HOW??

In US history, secularism has always won out over Christianity despite the wide acceptance and practice of Christianity by its leaders and people. The American "spirit" of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has endured Christian altruism in part because US institutions were established based on  reason and rights--institutions that reinforced philosophical ideas that ran contrary to Christianity and were supported by its leaders.

Ask yourself why secularism has always won out -- even when the US was much more religious, in general, than it is now.

Observe that those institutions based on reason and right are almost all still there.

And if you think George Bush's religious ideas are bad, look at the ideas (if you could even call them that) coming out of Kerry and his supporters.

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Then observe that the Fairness Doctrine, which Ayn Rand railed against, was abolished by Reagan. This lead to the rise of (almost entirely Right-Wing) Talk Radio that successfully challenged the Liberal media monopoly over all three TV networks and all the major metropolitan newspapers.

Observe that while religious conservatives may get upset about Janet Jackson's boob or Howard Stern's language, the real move toward censoring IDEAS -- the "Hush Rush" bills and calls for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine -- are coming from the Democrats.

Actually talk radio is under attack by the Right. The Howard Sterns of the world are being threatened by proposed FCC regulations that would personally fine talk show hosts for indiscretions. The right is more than upset over what they consider non-Christian media, they are doing something about it under Bush. Note the unequal treatment by the FCC against Howard Stern vs. Oprah.

And Bush is no Regan who I consider the best president in my life time. The religious right under Bush is a totally different animal than

the Regan administration.

there is no general support for censorship from either the Right or the Left and plenty of people who would holler bloody murder when someone tries it. Besides the separation of powers in our Constitution would not allow a President to do that.

I totally disagree. While there is no call yet for wide spread censorship, freedom of speech has always been under attack from the religious right and now, more than ever, they have a "voice" through Bush and the FCC. The constitution could not withstand and does not withstand, philosophical assults against its principles. There are many examples of the erosion of freedom of speech--you cited the Fairness Doctrine--that run contrary to the Constitution. I do not think the FCC regulators are worried about their jobs these days.

If stem cell research cannot get government funding, that isn't good..
.

It is not a question of government funding but a wholesale ban on the practice that I am worried about. The private sector can do just fine in funding its own research.

Observe that almost ALL the anti-corporate rhetoric is coming from the Left.

But an unprecedented amount of corporate regulation has been passed under the present right wing administration.

And if you think George Bush's religious ideas are bad, look at the ideas (if you could even call them that) coming out of Kerry and his supporters

That is my point. I never claimed Kerry had any ideas. It is Bush who is the idealist which is more dangerous than a pragmatist, flip-flopper like Kerry. Rather let the American public opinion (which is still semi rational) dictate government policy than have a bible-thumper dictate American public opinion.

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That is my point. I never claimed Kerry had any ideas. It is Bush who is the idealist which is more dangerous than a pragmatist, flip-flopper like Kerry. Rather let the American public opinion (which is still semi rational) dictate government policy than have a bible-thumper dictate American public opinion.

NOBODY dictates American public opinion, least of all the President. Observe all the criticism and hate-mongering directed toward Bush by the Left -- usually for his virtues and not his faults. Observe the criticism of Bush coming from the Right when he is wussy in prosecuting the War on Terrorism or when he supported the expansion of Medicare.

There is absolutely NO danger of a Bush-led theocracy ever happening.

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Betsy, I agree with EVERY WORD you've typed. Bush is without a doubt the clear choice. John Kerry, his lovely wife, and ambulance chaser Edwards are nothing short of MONSTERS. The moral relativst left is infinitely more dangerous than the religious right could ever be. They are complete and utter socialists and nihilists on the level of Toohey.

Peikoff's reasoning for voting for Kerry was unbelievably jumbled and irrational; it was a disgrace.

This is shades of Ayn Rand supporting Jimmy Carter, the worst POTUS ever, over Ronald Reagan, one of the best.

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This is shades of Ayn Rand supporting Jimmy Carter, the worst POTUS ever, over Ronald Reagan, one of the best.

Ayn Rand DIDN'T support Jimmy Carter. In the 1980 election, she didn't vote for anyone. See her speech "The Sanction of the Victim" reprinted in The Voice of Reason.

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I honestly cannot see how people like AR or Peikoff who are so monumentally smart can be so monumentally stupid on something so obvious.

"Monumentally stupid" is not the expression I would use--I think it's more appropriate to say "terribly mistaken"--but otherwise I agree, it's very puzzling.

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I just listened to the Peikoff clip and I think he made some good arguments. I have also read through the five pages of this thread and I feel that those supporting Bush as a better alternative have also made some good arguments. I am at this point more than a little depressed. As an Objectivist, I am supposed to have intellectual certainty and yet on this issue I honestly don't know who is the better choice.

It seems to me that this vote comes down to an attempt to forecast the next 4 years and as a professional speculator I can tell you that that is no easy thing. It also seems that a rational, well informed person can make either decision for good reasons.

I haven't made up my mind allthough I grant great defference to Peikoff. I have to think more about his M2 versus D1 hypothesis. Even if I were to grant that Bush is that "apocolyptically bad" I still don't know if psychologically I could ever pull the lever for a liberal.

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Bush caved a long time ago.

[...]

I don't see why the terrorists could possibly want Kerry in the White House, when Bush practically hands them soldiers to sacrifice and land to conquer.

Whoa, man, that was one bitter rant! This is what you get from using pessimism as an epistemological method.

The war effort is far from going as well as it could, that's true. We are making much less progress than would be possible. But we are making progress.

We are going at 20 MPH in a car that could do 150. That's frustrating for sure, but it's no reason for claiming that we aren't moving or that we are going backwards--not to mention jumping over into another car that is speeding in the opposite direction at 100 MPH!

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As an Objectivist, I am supposed to have intellectual certainty and yet on this issue I honestly don't know who is the better choice.

"As an Objectivist, I am supposed to have intellectual certainty?" Sez WHO?

That is downright false and totally unjust to yourself. An Objectivist isn't always certain and SHOULDN'T be.

Certainty requires knowledge and when it comes to judging the character of other men, we often have incomplete knowledge. We can and should judge their words and deeds, but we can't read minds to access the causes of their behavior. Thus we must work with inferences only and never have direct perception of any minds other than our own.

That's why Ayn Rand underscored the Wet Nurse's epistemological errors by saying

He spoke in flat assertions. He would say about people, "He's old-fashioned," "He's unreconstructed," "He's unadjusted," without hesitation or explanation; he would also say, while being a graduate in metallurgy, "Iron smelting, I think, seems to require a high temperature." He uttered nothing but uncertain opinions about physical nature—and nothing but categorical imperatives about men.

In contrast, a rational man is often certain about physical nature, which he can directly perceive, and uncertain about the character of other men, which he can only infer.

A good Objectivist doesn't always know it all, but he does know, and is honest with himself and others about, what he does know with certainty, what he knows with varying degrees of probability, and what he doesn't know at all.

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You are quite right. What I meant by "support" was AR saying that Carter was a better choice than Reagan. 

Where did she say that? Cite please.

I honestly cannot see how people like AR or Peikoff who are so monumentally smart can be so monumentally stupid on something so obvious.

Because we can't read minds and must infer a person's character from his actions, judging people is the most difficult and inherently error-prone intellectual activity there is. For that reason, misjudging people is common and intelligent, rational people do it all the time.

For those who judge carefully and rationally, evaluating people is rarely "so obvious."

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A good Objectivist doesn't always know it all, but he does know, and is honest with himself and others about, what he does know with certainty, what he knows with varying degrees of probability, and what he doesn't know at all.

You're a good and decent person Betsy. I appreciate your remarks.

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I am quite certain that John Kerry and his lawyer friend are not what America needs right now. The thing that concerns me is that Peikoff is supposedly using Objectivist principles to come to the conclusion that Bush is the worst choice of them all. Am I wrong? I also think this is why Argive made the following statement:

As an Objectivist, I am supposed to have intellectual certainty and yet on this issue I honestly don't know who is the better choice.

The fact remains that we are to choose between two evils. The only certainty possible is that America is going to be worst off either way. All the while Peikoff is telling us that we have no other rational choice but to vote. Ayn Rand said that to speak of evil while implying one's neutrality is wrong. If I don't want to vote but loudly proclaim that I have no reason to vote given the evil that is before me what is wrong with that?

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The thing that concerns me is that Peikoff is supposedly using Objectivist principles to come to the conclusion that Bush is the worst choice of them all. Am I wrong?

Peikoff is using Objectivist principles and other Objectivists are also using Objectivist principles when they disagree with him.

This year's vote is controversial among Objectivists becuase the relevant facts are not all known and clear-cut. There are strong opinions on both sides -- on this forum, on Harry Binswanger's List, at Objectivist gatherings, and elsewhere.

On another thread you were asserting, without evidence, that ARI and OAC forbid dissent and spread dogma. Here's evidence that they don't.

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If I don't want to vote but loudly proclaim that I have no reason to vote given the evil that is before me what is wrong with that?

I think this depends on what your reason for abstaining is. Either Kerry is more evil or he isn't. Either Bush is more evil or he isn't. It is a choice between two evils, but they do not represent the same degree of evil. I may end up not voting for either. But my reason would be that I couldn't figure out in time which of them will do the greatest harm, NOT because I am engaging in some sort of protest against evil.

I think it is this type of protest that Peikoff is denouncing, since it represents a type of moral agnostacism: a refusal to find out which of the candidates is more evil.

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