Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, April 07, 2017

Editor's Note: I am taking next week (and possibly some change) off from blogging. Expect me back here on the seventeenth at the earliest and on the nineteenth at the latest.

Three Things

1. In the face of assertions by the likes of Dennis Prager that morality is impossible without God, Craig Biddle of the Objective Standard has written a rebuttal. This takes the form of an easily-understood outline of how the philosophy of Objectivism derives morality from facts. Indeed, his conclusion is so inescapable that I think he is perfectly justified to end his piece in the following manner:

People are free to continue claiming, "If there is no God, there is no objective morality." But they are not free to do so honestly. Ayn Rand's derivation of morality from reality is too clear and too accessible for anyone interested in this subject responsibly to neglect. If people think her reasoning is in error, they should point out where and how they think she erred. But to ignore the existence of Rand's ideas while asserting, "If there is no God, anything goes," is to engage in evasion: the refusal to think, the refusal to see, the refusal to know. Such evasion is akin to the Church's refusal to acknowledge Galileo's proof that the Earth orbits the Sun -- except that those who evade Rand's proof have much more knowledge and, consequently, much less excuse.

It is time for everyone who cares about human life, happiness, and freedom to repudiate the nonsense that objective morality depends on God. Objective morality depends on reason -- and, if we're willing to look, we can see that it does.
I will also echo the sentiments of several of the other members of HBL, where I first learned of this essay: This would make an excellent pamphlet.

2. At Check Your Premises is a good piece regarding the latest academic to have leveled an unjustified attack on Ayn Rand:
[R.P.] Wolff does not seem to want to seriously critique Rand. He wants to tarnish her by association with Ryan and tarnish Ryan by association with a caricature of her. Apoplexy over the current "administration" is scarcely avoidable for any one with sense, but it in no way excuses shoddy thinking. The problem is that we diminish ourselves and the quality of our public discourse when we throw out intellectual standards for the cheap thrill of thrashing a straw man. [bold added]
Regarding the excerpt, one could replace "Wolff" with any other name from a long list of people from the intelligentsia and politics here, and not just from the left. Perhaps that is why the people who do this do not seem to know enough to be embarrassed by what they are doing. In any event, the above points could stand widespread dissemination.

3. Probably through Hacker News, I got wind of what it takes to start a sports league in the CIA. Muckrock breezily translates some of a declassified memo on the subject as follows:
To cope with these rather unique challenges, the Agency formed the Employee Activity Association (EAA), which, in exchange for membership dues, would ensure that next weekend's fishing trip would have a plausible cover story.
The agency classified activities according to "plausible deniability to CIA affiliation."

Weekend Reading

"Until or unless we get coercion out of health care, there will be no art of the deal or anything close to it." -- Michael Hurd, in "Why There's No 'Art of the Deal' for Healthcare" at Newsmax

"[I]f you want to get a point across, don't engage in vague feel-good speak that ultimately says nothing." -- Michael Hurd, in "Let's Replace Psycho-Speak With Real-Speak" at The Delaware Wave

"Rather than making it easier for the government to pick our pockets, we should work towards not having it pick our pockets at all." -- Gus Van Horn, in "Simplifying Tax Filing May Just Be Too Easy for Government" at RealClear Markets

"[T]here's a lot we can do diplomatically and financially to press the regime to take steps toward protecting free speech and rule of law, while publicly shaming it for flouting those principles." -- Elan Journo, in "Trump Should Break the American Tradition of Ignoring Egypt's Abuse of Its People" at The Hill

A Word of Thanks

I thank Mrs. Van Horn and reader Steve D. for their comments on an earlier version of the op-ed linked above.

-- CAV

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