Roger Bissell

Is It Time to Shrug?

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Dragonfly,

Indeed they do. That's why you can totally ignore context, but have to use words like "suggest" to try to get some plausibility into that ridiculous point.

Thanks for the laugh, anyway. I needed some comic relief after last night.

Michael

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Then I'll spell it out for you:

Well, name for me any other predominantly white Western nation that would have selected a black man as its leader in a free and open election.

The meaning is blatantly clear: there is no predominantly white Western nation that would have selected a black man as its leader in a free and open election. Note that he doesn't say "there is no white Western nation that has selected a black man as its leader". The latter might be true, but is irrelevant, unless you think that they should select a black man as its leader, which is pure racism. But it becomes even worse: Bidinotto even claims that in contrast to America, no predominantly white Western nation would select a black man as its leader. How does he know? Is he an expert in the sociology of all western countries? He says in effect: "America is good, the rest of the world is bad, we have overcome racist prejudices but other countries have not". This is just pig ignorant chauvinism and his argument is racist.

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Dragonfly,

What a bunch of malarkey. You are uncharacteristically reading so much into Robert's rhetoric that I am highly amused (in a benevolent fashion).

Give it up. You are not going to paint Robert Bidinotto as a racist and make it stick.

Ever.

It just ain't gonna happen.

A is A after all. The man does have a past to look at when you judge who he is.

This is hairsplitting Objectivism-subculture la-la land logic that I am getting so weary of.

Michael

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Yeah sure, Bidinotto is an Objectivist Saint, so if he says something blatantly stupid we just pretend it is the greatest wisdom in the world. And then we recite our daily prayer "A is A", that proves everything of course.

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I have opened this thread back. I hope I made my point, but just in case it is not made, here it is explicitly.

Disagree with Robert or anybody if you must. Do not call them racists or engage in any other form of hate speech.

There are hate sites for that. OL is not one and I will not have it here.

Michael

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Disagree with Robert or anybody if you must. Do not call them racists or engage in any other form of hate speech.

There is a big difference between being racist and attributing racism to others. Bidinotto's claim in my view was that there is -- unlike the U.S -- too much racism in other Western countries to elect a black president. I did not read Dragonfly to say Bidinotto is a racist, but that Bidinotto unjustifiably attributed racism to others.

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Disagree with Robert or anybody if you must. Do not call them racists or engage in any other form of hate speech.

I've never called Bidinotto a racist, I've called him to task for making a racist and insulting statement. I'll object against such statements, no matter who is uttering them. Whatever the qualities of the person are who makes such a statement, it can never be an excuse for making it. On the contrary: noblesse oblige.

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I think Bidinotto would have done better to simply note that the United States elected a black man President after a long, ugly racist history. Personally, I think the racism got sublimated this election by the economy. Generally speaking money and trade tends to trumph racism. The racism runs deeper but money is sweeter.

--Brant

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Folks, this is a to-whom-it-may-concern or if-the-shoe-fits comment:

There is a fundamental difference between attributing X to a person's character and attributing X to one of his actions or statements. In other words, it's very important to distinguish between "the person" and one of his actions.

Michael, you seem to blur this distinction and to think that Dragonfly's and others' saying that Robert B. made a racist argument is tantamount to their saying Robert B. is a racist. Though I can't back it up with specific references, I know I've seen you (and others) make this error before. It really polarizes and causes unnecessary anger. I usually take it as the sign of a person who is fighting dirty, though sometimes it's just folks who don't know better. I'll let you decide which category you fit in.

But most importantly, Dragonfly did NOT engage in "hate speech." Characterizing an argument or statement as racist or socialist or mystic or Attila or whatever is NOT "hate speech." It may reflect anger or disgust at what the person is saying, but it is NOT the attempt to smear them as belong to some category of immoral or evil persons.

We may not be able to get the rest of the culture to understand this, but surely we can start here "at home" to weed it out of our discussions. OK? [EDIT: I mean, specifically, to allow someone to label a statement or argument as "racist" or whatever, without escalating to the claim that he is labeling the person doing the stating or arguing as "racist.")

REB

P.S. -- Back in the 1970s, when I first engaged in the seemingly life-long enterprise of child-rearing, I read some very good books which stressed the above point on distinguish between the person and the behavior. The best, as I recall, were by Haim Ginott and Mazlich and Faber (spelling?).

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Here is something on a happier note.

I will not shrug.

We saw the beginning of an economic meltdown, but the effects have not reached most normal people yet. They will. This will be devastating to many folks.

I have been studying Internet marketing hard and, of course, I understand the Objectivist mentality. I believe there are some adjustments an Objectivist has to make in order to succeed at this and make money, so I am putting together an IM course for beginners aimed at people who get stuck in manners I believe Objectivists typically do.

I will be providing it for free.

More advanced stuff will be paid, of course. But my initial effort will be to provide free tools and systems so that anyone who wants to learn and work will make it through the economic slump with food on their table and their bills paid. I am convinced that the Internet provides the best overall opportunity for this and it is not rocket science.

The course is in outline stage right now and should get kicked off in about a month. It will include PDF files, audio and video.

More later. Good things coming...

Michael

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I stand by what I wrote. If Dragonfly thinks Robert "suggested" racism and can call him on it, I think Dragonfly "suggested" some really crappy untrue stuff about Robert and I am calling him on that. Why is there a double standard all of a sudden?

Robert is my friend and I will not see him insulted in that "suggested" manner for a "suggested" disagreement.

I suggest getting off this finger-pointing crap and get onto something less embarrassing for an Objectivist culture. I swear I am getting fed up.

The world goes to pot, but what is important to Objectivists (and similar)? Is it to build something? To produce something?

Nooooooooooooooo...

I can't be wrong.

That's what is important.

I call that vanity and insecurity, not reason.

Please, let's move on.

Michael

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I stand by what I wrote. If Dragonfly thinks Robert "suggested" racism and can call him on it, I think Dragonfly "suggested" some really crappy untrue stuff about Robert and I am calling him on that. Why is there a double standard all of a sudden?

Robert is my friend and I will not see him insulted in that "suggested" manner for a "suggested" disagreement.

I suggest getting off this finger-pointing crap and get onto something less embarrassing for an Objectivist culture. I swear I am getting fed up.

The world goes to pot, but what is important to Objectivists (and similar)? Is it to build something? To produce something?

Nooooooooooooooo...

I can't be wrong.

That's what is important.

I call that vanity and insecurity, not reason.

Please, let's move on.

Michael

You're embarrassed? I'm embarrassed that "some of us" are still confused between calling an argument "racist" and calling the person making the argument "racist." If we could ALL "move on" from -- i.e., get past -- ~that~ confusion, it would be wonderful!

And dammit, there is NO ONE so sacred or revered that their comments are immune from criticism. And that criticism is NOT tantamount to characterizing THEM as bad or evil. How DARE you confuse this issue so thoroughly and STUBBORNLY.

The "crappy untrue" stuff -- if that is accurate -- was NOT about Robert, but about his comments. Can you not get that distinction clear in your mind?

And for your information, I am NOT stuck in side-issues. I AM being productive and getting things done. I just make the mistake occasionally of reading this forum and seeing comments made that I cannot let pass. Such as yours.

REB

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Umm,.....meanwhile, I regret to have to point this out: :poke:

Someone is following our bus...... :o

they have a banner waving, "Change you WILL believe in!"..... :mellow:

they are in a tank. They're armed..... :sick:

they are not smiling.... :cry:

and they don't like "selfish" people. :bye:

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I found this article floating out there in the M(ain) S(tream) M(edia):

http://jewishworldreview.com/1108/tracinski110508.php3

Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2008

Joe the Plumber and Ayn the Philosopher: The Road Back for the Right

By Robert Tracinski

Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election, combined with congressional gains for Democrats, will prompt a wave of soul-searching on the right. Among other things, we will be asking: What is the road back from the political wilderness? Where can we look for hope that the next four years will be a temporary lurch to the left from which America will soon recover?

Fortunately, a long search is not really necessary. The past few weeks have provided-too late, alas-two clear answers, from two seemingly different sources.

In the past week, Ayn Rand has been injected into the presidential race by Barack Obama, of all people, with his comment about opposition to high taxes coming from those who believe in the "virtue of selfishness" -- which is the title of Rand's book on moral philosophy.

More recently, several readers have alerted me to a discussion on the right about the prospect of "going John Galt," a thread started by "Dr. Helen," the wife of famed Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds. The phrase refers to the idea of highly productive people going "on strike" -- as they do in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged-to protest their exploitation under the higher taxes and meddling regulations that we all expect to face under an Obama administration.

The point isn't that people on the right will actually quit working. This is the right's equivalent of all the leftists who vowed to move to Canada after the 2004 election. Very few actually did so, because life in the United States is still far too good to give up-and because we still live in a free society, giving people of every political persuasion plenty of opportunity to pursue their goals through persuasion and activism.

So the point of all of this discussion is not that right-leaning voters are going to disappear to a valley somewhere in Colorado. The point is that Ayn Rand and her ideas are spontaneously coming to their minds as an answer to the financial crisis, to the panicked lurch toward statism, and to the prospect of an even bigger turn to the left under President Obama.

I have argued that a major source of our current problems is that the right has neglected to focus on the case for free markets, and particularly on the moral foundations of the free market. Well, they could not find a better place to start than with Ayn Rand's celebration of the independent achiever as the source of all values, and her defense of rational self-interest -- the drive toward achievement and success-as the "motive power" of civilization.

That is precisely where some of them are beginning to turn. Of course, just about every conservative has long been aware of Ayn Rand and her ideas. Now perhaps they are starting to realize just how much they need her.

But is there an audience for these ideas? With the nation apparently turning to the left, what about the sense of life of the American people?

That, I can assure you, is still healthy. The final weeks of the election have introduced us to three men who remind us that, whatever horrible mistakes the American people have made in this election, the distinctive American outlook is not dead. Not remotely.

Those three men are Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, and Cory the Well Driller.

Joe the Plumber is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber whose chance encounter with Barack Obama induced Obama to admit that he intends to "spread the wealth." The incident made Wurzelbacher a minor celebrity, appearing on talk show interviews to explain why he opposes being punished for pursuing success and the "American dream." Wurzelbacher's example has been followed by Tito the Builder: Tito Munoz, a Colombian immigrant and naturalized US citizen who owns a construction company in Virginia, and who has become a featured guest at Sarah Palin's campaign rallies. And now there is Cory the Well Driller: Cory Miller of C. Miller Drilling Co., who wrote an eloquent open letter to Barack Obama that has circulated widely on the Internet and earned him at least one television interview.

These men represent the best of the American "common man," whose salient characteristic is that he does not regard himself as "common" -- not in the sense of being a helpless nobody who requires government help to survive. That is why Obama's answer to Joe the Plumber so completely missed the point. Asked about the higher taxes Joe would pay if he buys the plumbing firm he works for and expands it, Obama replied that "there are two ways of looking at it -- I mean one way of looking at it is, now that you've become more successful through hard work, you don't want to be taxed as much." To which Wurzelbacher replied "exactly." Obama continued:

But another way of looking at it is 95% of folks who are making less than $250 [thousand], they may be working hard, too, but they're being taxed at a higher rate than they would be under [my plan]. So what I'm doing is, put yourself back 10 years ago when you were only making whatever, 60 or 70. Under my tax plan you would be keeping more of your paycheck, you'd be paying lower taxes.

It was clear that something Obama was saying just didn't connect with Joe the Plumber, and this is why. Obama was asking Joe to imagine all of the benefits that would come to him if he were not successful. But the whole key to guys like Joe is that they do not view themselves as being unsuccessful and do not focus on what would be best for them if they fail. They view themselves as successful -- and they focus on how to achieve and improve on that success.

This is true of the American common man in general. Even when he is not (yet) successful, he thinks of himself as a potential success, as someone who is ambitious and hardworking and on the road to achievement. For him, self-reliance and success is the norm. The sign-off to Cory Miller's letter says it all; he describes himself as "just an ordinary, extraordinary American, the way most Americans used to be." Success and achievement -- which Obama views as some kind of extraordinary luck -- is viewed by these men as an ordinary product of hard work and dedication.

Note also that these manual workers -- men without college educations -- are surprisingly articulate. Now let me be clear: it is not a surprise to me that they are well-spoken. I am not among those snobbish elites who view anyone with a blue-collar job as someone who must have been too dumb to get into college. What is surprising to me is how much better these amateurs tend to be at explaining themselves than the hapless professional politicians.

In this regard, Cory Miller is the most interesting. The brief overview he gives of his career reads like the biography of one of Ayn Rand's self-made industrialists. He describes how he worked his way up from a single truck and a homemade rig to build the most respected well-drilling business in East Texas. He is a self-taught inventor who designed a new well screen service machine and a new mud pump, and he is an indefatigable entrepreneur who took on the crushing financial risks and impossible work demands of starting four businesses. He is clear about what made all of this possible.

I didn't get any help from the government, nor did I look for any. My businesses did not start as a result of privilege. They are the result of my personal drive, personal ambition, self discipline, self reliance, and a determination to treat my customers fairly.

As a guy who has signed the front of a paycheck, he also knows how many worthless louts and malingerers there are among the people to whom Barack Obama wants to spread his wealth.

I know because I've had them work for me before. Hundreds of them over these 25 years. People who simply will not show up to work on time. People who just will not work 5 days in a week, much less 6 days. People always looking for a way to put less effort out. People who actually tell me that they would do more if I just would first pay them more. People who take off work to sit in government offices to apply to get free government handouts.

While plumbers and builders and well drillers may seem very different from a high-brow novelist and philosopher, there really is a connection between them. Joe and Tito and Cory are exactly the kind of people Ayn Rand wrote about; they were her heroes in Atlas Shrugged, the inventors and achievers who hold the world on their shoulders. And Ayn Rand is the intellectual who gave full voice to the creed they have lived by. She defined what makes the ordinary American extraordinary.

For those of you who have read Ayn Rand, see if this passage from Cory Miller sounds in the least bit familiar:

You see, Mr. Obama, I'm the guy you intend to raise taxes on. I'm the guy who has spent 25 years toiling and sweating, fretting and fighting, stressing and risking, to build a business and get ahead. I'm the guy who has been on the very edge of bankruptcy more than a dozen times over the last 25 years, and all the while creating more and more jobs for East Texans who didn't want to take a risk, and would not demand from themselves what I have demanded from myself. I'm the guy you characterize as "the Americans who can afford it the most" that you believe should be taxed more to provide income redistribution "to spread the wealth" to those who have never toiled, sweated, fretted, fought, stressed, or risked anything.

Has this man read Atlas Shrugged? As far as I can tell, no. But he has lived it.

So as the right considers how to rebuild a political movement, all of the materials are already there in front of us. For future leaders and spokesmen, forget Sarah Palin. I suggest looking for people like Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, and Cory the Well Driller. As for future intellectual direction, I suggest Ayn the Philosopher.

JWR contributor Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com.

© 2008, Robert Tracinski

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> Are you done, Roger? Can we move on? [MSK]

Michael, you have now had several people on this board...including Roger and with this post, myself...explain to you the difference between criticizing someone of **being** a racist and criticizing someone for once having **once let slip** a racist remark.

Roger explained it carefully, logically, and with crystal clarity.

Yet, what is troubling is that you continue to slip, slide, and dodge away from allowing yourself to focus carefully and grasp this simple logical truth. And it is not even a difficult issue.

Lindsay Perigo proved to be a big man by recanting an error, even if it embarrassed him.

Are you capable of doing the same? Or will you continue to "stand by" your position?

[note that this does NOT require that one -agree- with Dragonfly's view of RB's statement as suggesting racism. Dragonfly says lots of rash or foolish things. He is one of the posters who I find myself most often in disagreement with. He was as wrong on that as you were to speak of it as though DF were doing anything even remotely parallel to engaging in "hate speech" which one would not allow on a discussion board.]

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Phil,

You see what the priority problem is? Your focus is on controlling others, not on producing nor admiring producers. This is what is wrong with the Objectivist world. All this finger-pointing to keep each other in line.

Another thing. I don't care much for your definition of man if it includes Perigo. But then again, I have little use for thugs and hate mongers.

You have your priorities and values, and apparently mine are vastly different. Let's not even pretend they are similar. I despise everything Perigo stands for. I can't make it any clearer than that.

Finally, I am tired of people trashing Robert Bidinotto on this forum. Put trashing Bidinotto on the table and maybe I'll start listening (but maybe I won't, since that is my decision, not yours—you will just have to pay to play if you want to see).

Robert, at least, produces something of high quality in the Objectivist world with regularity. I admire that, even when I disagree with him.

btw - I stand by what I wrote. I didn't like the "suggestion" in the suggested meaning Drasgonfly attributed to Bidinotto (which was about as wrong as wrong could get).

Michael

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> Are you done, Roger? Can we move on? [MSK]

Michael, you have now had several people on this board...including Roger and with this post, myself...explain to you the difference between criticizing someone of **being** a racist and criticizing someone for once having **once let slip** a racist remark.

Roger explained it carefully, logically, and with crystal clarity.

Yet, what is troubling is that you continue to slip, slide, and dodge away from allowing yourself to focus carefully and grasp this simple logical truth. And it is not even a difficult issue.

Lindsay Perigo proved to be a big man by recanting an error, even if it embarrassed him.

Are you capable of doing the same? Or will you continue to "stand by" your position?

[note that this does NOT require that one -agree- with Dragonfly's view of RB's statement as suggesting racism. Dragonfly says lots of rash or foolish things. He is one of the posters who I find myself most often in disagreement with. He was as wrong on that as you were to speak of it as though DF were doing anything even remotely parallel to engaging in "hate speech" which one would not allow on a discussion board.]

Acusing someone of making racist statementrs is close enough to calling him a racist that Michael is more right than wrong on this. The proper approach is to go to Bidinotto's Web site and ask him if maybe he mis-spoke, not start off by making him walk the plank. Dragonfly needed a little grace here, but I understand why he was pissed off. But fer heaven's sake, Bob washed his hands of this place last February because of Michael's position about Perigo's Web site--or was it just Perigo?

Perigo recanted because he suddenly realized he came too close to committing a US Federal felony. And maybe he did. It's the first time I recall he's ever recanted anything. Just by little more than a flick of the switch the powers-that-be can keep him out of this country the rest of his life. No grand jury. No indictment. No trial. And that's being nice. I still can't believe he made his original statement. When you publicly hope someone is killed that's like saying go kill that someone, Mr. Nutty Fruit Cake. It's at least an incitement to violence. When I suggested he leave by way of Mexico, I wasn't kidding. It's a good thing for him he's from New Zealand and not Iraq.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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