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An HBL Member on the Election
|News Flash !!!|
Trump to Build Death Camp for
Political Opponents(AP)Obscure national park in southern California already surveyed.Bulldozers and cement trucks in staging area.Zyklon B to be manufactured on site.Trump tweets: “Executions by shooting will be livestreamed. YOU’RE FIRED! Ha Ha Ha.”
Well, I made that up. But to hear the folks at the Ayn Rand Institute tell it Trump might as well be on site supervising construction. I know, straw man, but if they can set up straw men I can set up a bigger one.
In “Trump Good and Bad” we got some idea of the hard facts of reality.  Here we leave the real world and enter the world of Harry Binswanger. He hosts HBL, “a moderated discussion list for Objectivists” (quoting its website). Members submit remarks or short essays to the HBL forum which all members can view. Binswanger then chooses those he considers interesting and emails them to members in a daily batch. On 22 September 2020 a member contributed an essay that Binswanger chose to send out, and which his assistant accidentally made public on Facebook. The essay quickly got loose in the wild. 
Binswanger has expressed neither agreement nor disagreement with the essay, but because it says in forthright language what several upper-echelon people at ARI have said more obscurely – see “Shysters”  – and because it shows the attitude that ARI fosters and helps create, we believe it is worth reviewing here.
ARI people tend to use superlatives – excessive, exaggerated language – when attacking Trump and his deplorable supporters. The author of the essay may have picked up the habit from them. After an introductory sentence:
“A vote for Trump sends the message that it is OK to jettison rational discourse in American politics.”
Rational political discourse is out the window; Trump and/or his supporters are incapable of making a sensible statement. After saying that the same applies to Democrats and we should not imitate them, the author explains:
“To jettison rational discourse – that is, reason and reality – means that we break into two tribes that cannot cooperate and communicate.”
Why would we want to cooperate with the left? The author takes a new tack:
“We could survive four years of a Democrat president ...”
He doesn’t say how we could, or why Biden is limited to four years, or why someone like Kamala or AOC would not succeed him.
The author then lists a grab bag of things we surely cannot survive. He chooses what he apparently thinks are the worst of Trump’s characteristics, never admitting anything good, leaving you to conclude that everything about Trump is bad. We can survive Biden and Kamala et al, we cannot survive (we omit our external quote marks):
In other words Trump’s standard of discourse is make-believe – another ridiculous superlative like the one the essay started with.
make-believe as the standard of political discourse.
“Lock her up” means that Hillary Clinton has committed felonies and should be indicted for them. What it entails is that the law applies to everyone.Clinton is promoted by the Deep State – rogue elements within government partly in league with non-governmental actors. ARI people deny its existence.The fantasy news item we began with may not be a straw man after all. The author seems to think Trump will set up concentration camps for his opponents:
“lock her up” – and all that it entails.
We address this at length in “Shysters.” As with shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, TDS-afflicted people always take Trump literally. [3 again]
presidents who openly admire totalitarian dictators and openly signal that they would like to stay in power without limits.
The truth is that Jeff Sessions was, and William Barr has been, far too weak defending Trump. In Barr’s case it should come as no surprise (see “Trump Good and Bad” [1 again]).
U.S. attorneys general who merely serve the personal interests of the president, and facts and justice be damned.
Oracle won the TikTok U.S. contract in a bidding contest; it was not a sale or merger. A China-controlled TikTok is indeed a security threat. China is known for industrial and military espionage. Think of China possessing a massive personal database on teenagers who then grow into adults and have careers. Think long-range. China could mine the data for blackmailable people in high places. Furthermore China has a lot of experience using social media to track the Chinese. Software from China on your cell phone is a bad idea whose time Trump cut short.Which is it: Trump is a monster for schmoozing with dictators, even though in action he opposes them, or it is OK to engage in free trade with dictatorships and install their software on your cell phone?
“shotgun mergers” of major companies for the benefit of the president’s friends – and all that that entails. (No, there was no security threat from TikTok. What American teenagers do on their phones has no intelligence value to the Chinese.)
“Power-lusting” is a popular Objectivist slur. One can only guess what the author refers to here. Perhaps it is Trump trying to reverse what Ross Perot called the post-NAFTA (now post-WTO) “giant sucking sound” of U.S. factories moving to Mexico and China. Unrestricted free trade has, for example, led to practically all our medicines and medical equipment being manufactured in China. 
irrational, power-lusting bullies masquerading as pro-American, pro-rule-of-law capitalists.
The author then calls Trump a “wolf in sheep’s clothing ... far more dangerous than the wolf.” Trump, he says, fools Americans into thinking they are supporting capitalism (the clothing) when instead they are helping him (the wolf) destroy the American spirit. The solution is to elect Biden! – while Kamala and AOC wait in the wings, unacknowledged by the author.
“I see no reason to think a Biden victory would leave a lasting mark on the Democrat party or American political discourse more broadly.”
I think the author’s vision is nearsighted but let him have his argument:
“During and after a Biden presidency, the good Americans will still be here to oppose socialism, BLM, the Green New Deal, AOC, and so on.”
They will still be here! You might be in prison but you’ll still be around. What kind of an argument is that?
The author begins to wind down (paragraphs silently combined):
“... this election is fundamentally a referendum on Trump and, more abstractly and importantly, on what Trump represents. What does Trump represent? Clearly, it’s not ideas.”
Though it’s absurd to say Trump “jettisons rational discourse,” it is true that he is not an intellectual. Winning elections requires different skills and a different personality from those of a typical intellectual. No president since perhaps Woodrow Wilson (in his early days) has been much of an intellectual. In lieu of being a philosopher-statesman what matters is that Trump represents positions on many issues that the better American public wants. In the parade of political discourse the public isn’t following Trump, Trump stepped in front of the parade and began twirling a baton.
“What he represents is embodied in the way he acts, speaks, and thinks, as a political actor. I have provided several examples.”
Cherry-picked examples. We provided a selection of both positive and negative ones in “Trump Good and Bad.” [1 again] ARI people attach no importance whatever to the positives, to them they’re hardly worth mentioning.
“Because Trump jettisons rational discourse, he—”
Hold the phone. If you begin with the premise “Trump jettisons rational discourse” you can prove anything. And so the author does:
“[Trump], not Biden, is the candidate that disempowers good Americans to fight the left in the long run.”
You good Americans should work for the left so it wins in the short run. Then you’ll be able to struggle with the left you empowered and (possibly) defeat them in the long run. Without the destruction of Trump no fight is possible.
This is Objectivism at work?
One important consideration to anyone who buys into ARI’s view of man as Homo economicus would be which candidate is the more capitalist, or the least non-capitalist. Clearly it is Trump, inconsistent though he might be. The truth is that Biden and Kamala would be bad for America in the long run as well as the short – and Kamala needs emphasizing because Biden is 77 and looks 80 something.
“A Trump win would be a tactical victory for the right; the next four years would be materially better. But it would be a strategic loss.”
Spare us the tactic-strategy distinction. Trump is the only Trump we’ve got. For now this flawed, inconsistent individual is the only thing between us and a left-dominated future. Though Biden may just be a “social democrat” he comes with extreme leftwing hangers-on making him the thin edge of a wedge with AOC and friends at the other end. If Biden becomes president, and after two years and a day steps down (voluntarily or not), Kamala alone could be president for 2 + 4 + 4 = 10 years.
Don’t think, just accept. Repeat it again and again: A vote for Biden is a vote for the USA.
1 Trump Good and Bad.
2 The leak made quite a splash. Sunny Lohmann and her co-host at the House of Sunny podcast reviewed the essay on 23 September 2020 and uploaded to YouTube the next day. The review is introduced briefly at 27:00 but after a digression doesn’t start until 33:26
In 2016 Binswanger was urging us to vote for Hillary Clinton. See Contra Trump, part 1 and part 2.
4 In some cases by slave labor. See
“15 Percent of Tibet’s Population Transferred to Chinese Training Centers as Mass Labor Program Expands”
by Emily Czachor, 22 September 2020
Labor program? It sounds like race-based slavery.