"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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Saturday, February 12, 2005
  Interesting Tribute to Ayn Rand
I was surprised to find the following tribute to Ayn Rand in honor of her centennial, on FrontPage Magazine of all places. It's by no means perfect. But on the whole I was impressed with the amount of praise and credit it gives her - at the beginning it refers to her as "the greatest female thinker in history".
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
  Democracy in Iraq
Many people have been expressing their hopes for the results of the Iraqi elections, and counseling patience before succumbing to pessimism. Some have pointed out that the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in the world, has openly called for a "quietist" role for Islamic clerics, whereby they would have no direct role in politics. Given that he is the spiritual equivalent of the Pope to most Shiites, this would seem to be a positive development, one foretelling possible progress for Iraq.

Although al-Sistani's "quietist" philosophy sounds promising (especially considering that he was a contemporary of Ayatollah Khomeini, the theocratic leader of the Iranian Islamic revolution), I think such optimism is misplaced. I just finished reading an interesting article in Newsweek on al-Sistani, What Sistani Wants. On the whole the article is pessimistic, though not as much as I am. One paragraph in particular caught my eye, though the reporters seem to have missed its significance(emphasis added):
Sistani will take no part in deciding exactly who will make up the government, Shahristani says. "He refuses even to meet with the alliance now," Shahristani says. "He says, 'You were elected, so it's up to you now. Don't drag me into it'." But he has set down some guidelines that will have to be followed. "He rejects any role for the clerics in the governance or administration of the country," says Shahristani. Al-Rubaie, also a member of the United Iraqi Alliance's executive committee, confirmed that. And Sistani will insist that Islam is the national religion, with no laws that contradict Islamic principles. But at the same time, as he once told a Shia politician, "there is nothing written in the Qur'an about elections." For that, he said, he reads textbooks on democracy.
No clerics in the government is a good thing; Islam as the foundation of the government, let alone as the standard of what will be legal (no laws contradicting Islamic principles) is disastrous, and cannot lead to anything approaching freedom, not in the long run.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
  Austrian Economics Forum
I just happened across a new forum for discussing Austrian economics. It's just now getting started, but I'm hoping that it will prove to be as profitable as the Objectivism Online Forum already has. My user name there is the same as Objectivism Online, The General. Hope to see you there.
  The New Right
John Lewis has a new article at Capitalism Magazine that sums up many of my rants and ravings over the last 7 months regarding conservatives.

Interestingly enough, I just came across a quote from Ayn Rand, which shows her prescience on this issue. It is an excerpt from a letter to (former) Senator Barry Goldwater, from 1960!
When a political movement lacks a firm, consistent set of principles, it can be taken over by any minority that knows what it wants. In the nineteen-thirties, the Liberals were thus overtaken by the Communists. According, I believe, to the FBI, two percent of the membership was sufficient to turn a Liberal organization into a Communist front. In any group of men, those who formulate basic principles will direct those who don't, and will determine the practical policy of the group. I am convinced that what the Communists did to the Liberals, the professional religionists are now attempting to do to the Conservatives.

--Letters of Ayn Rand, pg. 571
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