2013-12-27

You Coexist

"A woman with the message “I AM GOD” painted on her body jumped up on the altar and screamed in the middle of a Mass on Christmas at Cologne Cathedral." [link to article]






coexist

2013-12-26

Derision Is Not Discourse

While commenting about the pleasures of cigars, Jonah made the following comment:
I am a conservative in large part because I believe that politics should intrude on life as little as possible. Conservatives surely believe that there are times when the government should meddle in the daily affairs of the people, but they normally reserve those times for large questions of right and wrong, good and evil. Most conservatives, for instance, may want to restrict abortion on grounds rooted in the Decalogue, but few want the government to stop you from drinking raw milk.
Both the left and the right likely share basic understandings about ethical issues such as feeding the poor, loving your neighbor as yourself, forgiveness, compassion, envy, lying, etc. More often than not, the major differences are bound up in their notions about the issue that Jonah touched on – the purpose, scope, size and role of government. As he notes, conservatives seek to limit the role of government. They do this for various reasons, not least of which is an effort to combat the loss of liberty that comes with a statist social order. But they do not seek to eliminate government. The general agreement among conservatives is that less government is better government. They are not anarchists.

Resisting big government necessarily means resisting the temptation to have government perform some incontrovertibly noble efforts such as feeding the poor. But preferring that government not be the primary purveyor of charity does not therefore mean that conservatives are opposed to all charity or even all government sponsored charity as some would have you believe – a safety net is part of everyone's thinking. Mostly, the discussion tends to circle around the size and scope of the safety net.

An atheist might oppose religious symbolism associated with government. This does not therefore mean that that atheist is opposed to morality. There is no need to transmogrify his opposition to the display of religious symbols on government property into hatred of moral people or ethics. But that is often how those who support limited government are treated:
  • To support lower tax rates rather than higher rates is not hatred of the poor;
  • To see negative societal ramifications with and to question the continued usefulness of affirmative action programs a half century on from their inception is not hatred of blacks;
  • To support controlled and lawful immigration is not hatred of Mexicans;
  • To make note of perceived societal benefits that customary marriage affords, especially to women and children, is not hatred of gays;
  • To ponder and debate the meaning of epochs of temperature data is not science denial;
  • To debate how to fund birth control or to oppose partial birth abortion is not warring against, hatred of or denying healthcare to women nor is it misogynistic;
  • To support choice in school is not hatred of teachers, minorities or the poor;
  • To support gun ownership is not hatred of children or supporting murder;
  • To disagree with the policy prescriptions of the current occupant of the White House is not racist.

Although it is easier and politically expedient to just dismiss opponents as moral inferiors, uneducated dunces and cave dwellers, it is anything but intelligent, compassionate, respectful, decent, fair, responsible or kind. It could be that those who hold opposing views are decent people who are very interested in those affected by smaller government. It could be that they have significant moral and ethical struggles when considering the trade-offs inherent in life and politics. They may even have the best interests of others in mind when considering policies.

Each side strives for ideological conformity and none so willingly and gleefully makes use of derogatory language as the left. Those interested in power and the imposition of their values understand that it’s quicker and more effective to silence those with whom they disagree than to debate. It is just easier to liken successful women to whores and crudely titter about hate-f***ing them (it is hard to think of a more sexist/misogynistic notion), assume bad motives on behalf of those with wealth (it is hard to think of a more classist notion), compare the inquisitive to Holocaust deniers (it is hard to think of a more irrational/unscientific notion) and attack the racial bona fides (it is hard to think of a more racist notion) of those with a different opinion than to thoughtfully consider and address anything they might have to say.

So how about let's all do our best to avoid character assassination by slur as the replacement for discussion. Rather, let's rely on thoughtful deliberation for the defense of our values.

Derision is not discourse. Ridicule is not refutation.

2013-10-12

Obama Then and Now - Debt Ceiling


Obama debt ceiling
Obama Then and Now - Debt Ceiling

[The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.]

Obama Then and Now - Gay Marriage


Obama Gay Marriage flip flop evolve
Obama Then and Now - Gay Marriage

[The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.]

2013-10-11

Obama Then and Now - Debt Ceiling



Obama logo debt crisis ceiling America bankrupt
Obama Then and Now - Debt Ceiling


The first quote would be cause for celebration if raising the debt limit hadn't been followed by the largest one-day bump in history back in 2011.

And why shouldn't we believe that this too is a political stunt?

[The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.]

2013-10-05

Re-import Prescription Drugs?

Buying prescription drugs in other countries and reimportation seems to be mostly a tricky sleight of hand that only benefits the end user. Do we really believe that putting drugs in a shipping container, shipping them off to some other country and then bringing them back somehow magically reduce its cost? Many foreign markets threaten to confiscate the drug company's patents as extortion to force the companies to sell at lower prices. The company has patents to protect their investment in research and development. If a generic company can 'steal' the patented formula because another country invalidates a patent, then the generic company can produce and sell a drug for dirt cheap while avoiding the cost of R&D. And since many of the world's governments have gone the socialized medicine route, the US is one of the lonely protectors of patent protection that fuels private investment into R&D.

And then there is the question of safety. Are those cheap-o knock offs whipped up in outer Slobovia going to be up to the FDA standards? Are concerns about purity and safety legitimate? BTW, do all those protections enforced by the FDA drive up costs in the US?

What about all the hand wringing over outsourcing? Where is all the concern for American jobs and a 'living wage' from the let's-buy-foreign-drugs crowd? Keeping these jobs here and charging high prices certainly must help the 'living wage' situation, right? But apparently that's not so great for low prices. There is no free lunch.

And as one of the richest countries on the planet, shouldn't we feel good that we, the global 1%'ers, are carrying the load and helping out our global brothers and sisters? Isn't the world justified in pointing their finger of judgment towards us and telling us we are not paying our fair share? Is this just a global tax of our obscene wealth? Aren't higher prices for us just a progressive payment structure that allows those less fortunate than us to share in the pharmaceutical bounty? Just spreading the wealth around a bit? Can we say that those who are trying to get out of their prescription drug fair share hate the world's poor?

The same crowd that condemns Walmart's evil importation offshore goods in order to lower costs seems to have no problem with the Walmart-ization of medicine. Providing goods at lower costs that allows the poor to enjoy a much higher cost of living is moral outrage when Walmart does it, but when the reimport drugs crowd proposes a similar model for prescription drugs, in order to do an end run around pharmaceutical companies and their high domestic costs, it is a moral necessity.

I guess it all depends on who's wallet is being gored. Or whose vote you are looking for.

2013-10-03

The Washington Monument Gambit

Washington Monument Gambit 2013 federal shutdown
Washington Monument Gambit
Encountered this shutdown screen at the USGS site. Apparently I underestimated the manpower requirements for website links.

2013-09-05

Bypass

It should be something more than a mere curiosity that on matters foreign the President reluctantly defers to Congress in order to share the wealth of blame while he brags about bypassing Congress, and therefore the Constitution, on matters domestic.

2013-07-01

Gay Marriage, SCOTUS & Initiatives

California voters desired the ballot initiative concept to allow the people to place issues on the ballot that wouldn't get there through the normal legislative process. Initiatives allow the will of the people to be expressed if the legislature is unwilling to express that will.

California passed Proposition 8 and it modified the California constitution. The people's will was expressed and the Supreme Court of California (SCOCA) upheld Prop 8 because it amended the California constitution.

Then plaintiffs brought suit against the State of California in federal district court and argued that Prop 8 was unconstitutional under the US Constitution. A single judge, Justice Vaughn Walker, found the law unconstitutional because, as he divined, the majority of Californians could only have voted for such a law because of their animus toward gays. It is not clear how he could know the motives of the voters. Even though it is not the judge's role, nor is it possible, to determine the motive of the people, Judge Walker did just that. It is similar to when others say that the only reason anybody opposes President Obama's policies is because of racism. There is no way for those doing the judging of other's motives to know this, but apparently they are sufficiently confident in their judging of other's hearts to make legislative and judicial decisions based on it. So in this way, these oracles might just as easily conclude that your vote can be thrown out at the ballot box if you voted for someone other than Obama because the only reason you would cast such a vote is because you have animus toward a black man which means you are a racist and racist's votes should not be counted because that is not a proper basis upon which to cast a vote. This is essentially what Judge Walker's ruling based on his unfounded augury did. (It will be interesting to see whether those opposed to bigamy, polygamy, incestuous marriage, open marriage, et al. will argue something other than what Walker identified as "not a proper basis on which to legislate," that is, "moral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest" and "animus" towards these groups.) To Walker's defense, even if there were compelling societal reasons to support Prop 8, the defense of those reasons may have been so weak or ineffectual that Walker may have had no recourse but to conclude that animus was the only reason that remained.

As a matter of process, it is the Governor's job to defend the laws of the state. This is why you often see court cases with the Governor's name as one of the parties in the suit. The state's Attorney General enters the court on behalf of the people and defends the law that the people through an initiative or the legislature has enacted. However, in California both Gov. Schwarzenegger and Brown refused to do their duty and defend the people's will in court. They decided that their feelings on the matter overruled the majority vote of the people.

If the Governor decides to not enter the court to defend the laws that the people have willed via the democratic process, he/she is in effect nullifying the law and ignoring the initiative process because the people automatically lose the case because nobody shows up to defend their side. (This is called a default judgment and is similar to when an arresting officer does not show up at a traffic violation court hearing, the case is forfeited, or lost, by the party that does not appear in court.) In this case, Gov. Schwarzenegger and Brown both refused to represent the people of California in court as they were required to do.

Fortunately, it just so happens that California has a law that allows somebody else to defend a proposition if the elected officials refuse to. The SCOCA has affirmed this process wherein the proposition supporters are able to come forward to defend the law if the elected representatives won't and acknowledged that the whole point of an initiative is to allow the people to overrule representatives that are unwilling to legislate the people's will by allowing the people to legislate from the ballot box.

Because a gay couple brought the case and since they are the ones harmed by Prop 8 they have standing. However, the appeal to the Ninth Circuit and ultimately on to the SCOTUS were brought by the supporters of Prop 8 because California governor did not step forward to defend the law. As discussed earlier, the private supporters have standing in California because of their law that allows supporters to defend the proposition when the Governor/AG refuses to. But there is no federal allowance for surrogate defense when the state government refuses to defend its own laws. It was for this reason that the SCOTUS decided that the Prop 8 supporters had no standing and that the last legitimate action, whether correct or not, was the decision of the federal district court.

So who are the winners? Gay marriage supporters and by extension any other type of marriage supporters. The loser? The initiative process.

2013-05-26

QOTD

There is this new intolerance that people are cheer leading about. They phrase this new intolerance as enlightenment and then in the name of this faux enlightenment, they are quite totalitarian. This intellectual vanity - excessive self-regard. A belief that because [they] think [they're] right, mere process ought not to get in the way. In fact it is something that can be swept aside with a clear conscience because, after all, they know that they are the virtuous party.
~ Mona Charen

2013-05-19

I Don't Know

The White House is about to get hit by the biggest tsunami since the Iran-Contra affair, maybe since Watergate. [The President] is trapped, immobilized by his own stay-the-course campaign strategy. Can he escape the massive tidal waves? Maybe. But at this point, it's not clear how.

If today's investigative shockers are true, it's hard to avoid concluding that responsibility goes straight to the top, both in the [agency involved] and the White House, and that varying degrees of blame can be ascribed to officials up and down the chain of command.
That was how the reporting went for Abu Ghraib. But now we are in a brave new world when the buck stops anywhere but at the President's desk.

When the story is targeting political opposition with the heavy hand of the IRS, blame it on Bush because it was the guy he appointed that was in charge when the IRS targeted people aligned with Bush (seems like Bush would be praised for appointing such a bipartisan 'company man' who was willing to cross political lines, but who can understand this logic?).

When the story is misleading the American people about Benghazi, it is just a witch hunt by a vast right-wing conspiracy. But when others get information from intelligence agencies and act on it, it is a war crime. Apparently it is no longer fashionable to ask, "What did the President know and when did he know it?" There was a time when Ms. Clinton was very interested in just this sort of question. She also noted that "The goal of such an examination should not be to assign blame, but to find out all of the facts." But what difference does it make now?

When the story is the President's Justice Department doing illegal wire taps, it is justified because of national security. No problems with Patriot Act style intrusions here. Too bad Holder wasn't a Bush appointee; the assignment of blame would be over. (Make that 'undocumented' wire tap since illegal is somewhat out of fashion these days.  And maybe we should go with 'domestic contingency operation' instead of wire tapping while we're at it.)

That Bush appointee should have just said, "I don't know."  Come to think of it, Donald Rumsfeld might have been well served to use Holder's tactic when pressed about Abu Ghraib:



But it is hard to hold the President accountable for any of this. After all, he only just heard about it in the paper. As Steyn wrote:
...the Internal Revenue Service had spent two years targeting his political enemies until he "learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this." Like you, all he knows is what he reads in the papers. Which is odd, because his Justice Department is bugging those same papers, so you’d think he’d at least get a bit of a heads-up. But no doubt the fact that he’s wiretapping the Associated Press was also entirely unknown to him until he read about it in the Associated Press.
How is it that the most intelligent, smartest, most caring, "articulate, bright, clean, nice-looking" President only finds out about scandals in his administration by reading about them in the paper? One recalls that the former "Presi-dunce" held to account for every bad thing that happened on the planet up to and including hatred of America.

One can only imagine if Obama had been the one reading to school children on morning of 9/11 2001. I wonder how much time would have elapsed until he finally read about that day's events in the evening edition.

2013-05-16

Does Capitalism Work?

Excerpts (with minor edits for clarity) of an interview that Mike Rosen had with Kevin Williams about his book "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure":
When talking to students, I often like to use a visual from the movie "Wall Street". Remember Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko? In the movie he's talking on a cell phone; a Motorola cinder block, that when adjusted for inflation, cost about $10,000 and about $1,000 a month to operate with 30 minutes of talk time. You couldn't give the thing away.

So I ask students to pull out their phones and show me what's in their pocket. They've got iPhones, Droids and whatnot. Rich kids, middle class kids, working class kids, they pretty much all have cell phones. Some have nicer ones; some less nice ones. Compare what you have in your pocket to what Michael Douglas had in that movie 25 years ago – and you had to be a millionaire to have that. Now everybody has one.

This thing has gotten better and cheaper, better and cheaper, better and cheaper. Now what do your schools look like? You can see the little light bulbs coming on over their heads. If you can figure out why your cell phone has gotten so much better and so much cheaper over time but your school still looks like something that was from the 1950s, 1960s – or in many cases the 1930s – then you'll have an idea about why this system doesn't work.

The problem with education is that we are a country of 300 plus million people. We are an extraordinarily diverse and complex country with an extraordinarily diverse and complex economy. We've got basically one model of K-12 education that comes from 19th century Prussia and Otto von Bismark. It’s a kind of factory model of education where the students are widgets and the schools are factories; they turn them out and they fit into various places in the economy. That is not a model for the 21st century.

The question isn't what kind of system to we replace our current education system with, it is what kind of systems, plural, do we replace it with.

Profit can act as a catalyst for advancement and is not necessarily evil.  As with most things, in and of itself, it is morally benign. Much like a gun, profits can be used for good or evil.

The audio of this portion of the interview:


The entire interview can be found at Mike Rosen's webpage.

2013-05-14

Dishonoring Others With Lies


It is amazing that Cheney was even able to speak, what with that file in his mouth to sharpen his teeth and all. I mean he is unmitigated evil, so this really shouldn't be surprising, right?

Well, hold on. I went to a Americans Against the Tea Party to see what all the fuss was all about. A left wing site like this should give me the unvarnished scoop on this most recent utterance of horror from the evil one.

Their headline shouted out the disturbing wickedness: "Dick Cheney Tells Fox News That Benghazi Is Worst Disaster In His Lifetime (Video)." They embedded the video and even kindly posted a transcript of Darth Cheney's words. Let's watch what the portal to hell actually said:



Huh? He didn't say it was the worst disaster. Maybe, as the AATTP so kindly informs, Cheney "mumbles through" this so it was hard to understand. Let's look at their own transcript of the screeching weasel of Hades:
It’s one of the worst .. incidents in frankly that I can recall in my career.
Either they can't read, they can't hear or they are liars. Take your pick. They have no problem misrepresenting what was actually said even after they post the video and the transcript that contradicts their statements - now that's chutzpah. I wonder how often this occurs in the name of partisan zeal? (Rhetorical question.) I guess they don't share the President's feeling that "We dishonor them when we turn things like this into a political circus."? Apparently telling lies is neither dishonoring nor political big top material but calling attention to lies is.

One of the joys of being on the left is never having to say you're sorry. You can misquote somebody you disagree with and attach video and written evidence that you have misquoted them without suffering any shame or embarrassment. Anything for political gain. Destroy the opposition at all costs.

But at least Cheney couldn't say that the Benghazi bacchanal was the “Most Audacious Plan” In 500 Years. That honorific has already been doled out.

2013-05-13

QOTD

On this issue, Barack Obama very vehemently disagrees with the President of the United States and should discuss it with him.  [Regarding the President's actions vis-à-vis his rhetoric on Gitmo.]
~Cliff May - 13 May 2013, Mike Rosen Show, Hr3

2013-05-12

Impeach Obama, Maybe Not

Mike Huckabee, the Fox News host, said that the Benghazi hearings would lead to the downfall of Barack Obama, that when the facts came out Mr. Obama would not be able to finish his presidency.
Two reasons it may not advisable:
  1. The imagery that will be used against Republicans if the first African American president is run out of town. Undoubtedly there will be political cartoons depicting Obama in shackles. And that will only be the beginning.
  2. Joe Biden.

2013-05-11

If The Right Argued Like the Left

From Maddow:
As Krugman explained a while back, "Arguably the most important thing we can do to limit the growth in health care costs is learning to say no."
What it would sound like if the right argued like the left does:

This is just more obstruction and denial from the party of "no". This is discriminatory and picks on the elderly. Denying procedures for the elderly is unfair. How in good conscience can they deny healthcare to the elderly? Next thing you know, they'll be preying on the young, poor, minorities and women. Why can't the rich just pay their fair share so that women, children, minorities, the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed, the disabled, college students, LBGTQI, the abused, inmates, veterans, the mentally ill, refugees, the under-housed and Vietnamese fishermen can get decent, comprehensive, affordable access to healthcare?

People are hurtin', man.

We all know that doctors are cutting off limbs and taking out tonsils just to fill their filthy, blood-soaked wallets, and maybe we should say "no" to that, but where will it end? I hope that in their heartless, greedy rush to deny all medical procedures, the party of "no" doesn't deny assisted suicide. Sure, suicide should be safe, legal and rare, but denying it altogether is extremist.

Apparently the Krugmans of the world think that "poor people have too much access to affordable health care" and we should deny as much care as we can – that the greedy blood-suckers who gorge themselves on healthcare need to cut back. This is just more austerity that doesn't work. They want to cut corners and refuse to allow procedures as part of a strategy of greed over consumer benefit. Deny, deny, deny. I guess if we could just be a little more considerate by knowing when to say "no" and die, we could save tons of money. Our moral values, in contradistinction to this ass-hat, is we don't think healthcare should be denied to anybody. These people hate everyone.


BTW, denying healthcare isn't, per chance, the task of the oft-maligned death panel is it?

2013-05-10

Pro Choice: Transgender

The LA Times reports that transgendered could be switching it up in the future.
He cited the case of Eli Erlick, a high school student in Mendocino County who was born male but identifies as female. He said Erlick was prohibited from participating in girls' gym classes while in middle school and noted that Erlick's parents testified in favor of the bill.

He acknowledged that parents may be uncomfortable about their children sharing bathrooms with students of a different sex, but he said, 'It's also important to protect our children from prejudice.'
How long until whites self-identify as black? Before you go and get all snooty, hasn't this been the point made by same-sex marriage supporters? That denying marriage to gays is the same as denying marriage to blacks? I guess Elizabeth Warren was ahead of the curve when she identified as Fauxcahontis based on the incontrovertible evidence that "My grandfather had high cheekbones like all the Indians do," and a few purloined recipes in the "Pow Wow Chow" cookbook.

Watch out Olympics, you're next. Oops, never mind. Been there done that.


Transgendered bathroom use news:
Oregon HS
State of California
Massachusetts
Colorado

2013-05-09

Benghazi Cover

"The White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community." And because of this, Bush lied and people died. Oops. Wait. That quote was from an ABC News report about the Benghazi movie review gone bad. Does this mean Obama lied and people died? Is this cover-up the transparency we were promised? And didn't Ms. Clinton promise us that she would be a better 3 AM phone hen than Obama? Christopher Stevens called.

But, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

Maybe they did all they could do. Foreign affairs is a messy business; things go wrong. They were trying to manage a crisis consistent with their beliefs, agendas and ideology. There are no right answers. And I'm not sure any other response would have ended any better. 

But the double standard is dangerous.



2013-04-06

Same Sex Marriage Double Standard

HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps interviewed Jeremy Irons and one of the topics hit upon was gay marriage.



















The lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. That Zepps is not able to self-reflect on his rejoinder that "Uh, well there are laws against incest" is stupefying. There are laws against all kinds of things and those laws can be changed. The presence of a law does not ensure that the law is just. I don't suppose he would support sodomy laws. Aren't the same sex marriage (SSM) supporters trying to undo laws that they perceive are unjust?  The reason the SCOTUS is considering SSM cases is precisely because certain laws and changes to a state's constitution is thought to be unjust.

You would think that that would be enough unconscious opining for one interview, but no, he doubles down.

Zepps: "No, that sounds like a total red herring. I'm sure that incest law would still cover same sex marriages."

Irons: "Really? Why?"

Zepps: "Because I don't think the incest law is only justified on the basis of the consequences of procreation. I think there's also a moral approbation that's associated with incest."

Astounding.

Zepps seems to be completely unaware of his own statements. Is he really making the case for moral approbation (I suppose he meant prohibition) of a behavior? Really? Tap, tap, tap. Hello Mr. Zepps. Are you aware that the moral prohibition argument is exactly what has been used to prevent SSM and the very activity that leads to SSM? Are you not aware of what the SSM crowd is fighting against?!?!?!?!?

Since the whole point of legalizing SSM is to remove the moral prohibition therof, what is the argument that can be made to prevent the removal of other moral prohibitions? Furthermore, to borrow the arguments on behalf of removing the moral prohibition of SSM, how does incest or polygamy or any number of other arrangements hurt the gay's marriage? Incest or polygamy wouldn't hurt their marriage or affect them in any way. And who are the gays to look down their nose and dictate who somebody can love? Why can't the polygamist and incest-amist (I know of no noun for those who commit incest...) love whom they want to love? Cannot a loving poly-amorous unit raise good and decent citizens just like hetero or gay couples? Why the bigotry?

But I get the "You can't expect me to believe that society would lift the moral prohibition of incest just because we want to lift a moral prohibition" argument all the time. You would think the self-reflective person would stop after hearing the double-standard and the absurdity of the argument and for the sake of intellectual honesty concede the point.

Of course, none of this argues for or against SSM. And conceding this obvious point does not necessarily negate other aspects of the argument. Discussion of such issues is just an honest, open examination of the penumbra of consequences that may result from this change. A good-willed gay or lesbian interested in open discussion rather than forcible imposition of dogma could just as easily conclude these things.

The honest broker would say, "Of course we intend to discriminate against certain of our fellow citizens and declare their behavior to be morally objectionable. We just want to move the fence far enough for us to get in while keeping those we disagree with out." And based upon what? At least polygamy and incest have the advantage of actually having been tried throughout history. SSM on the other hand is uncharted. Does that put those who support SSM on the wrong side of history?

What is ignored is that if these sea changes are based on the current social eros ethos, upon what are the guardrails for society based? The response is always a version of, "Well, you don't have to be religious to be moral." Sure. Just as being religious is no guarantee that one will be moral. But let's be honest, there is no discernible distinction between the one who allows SSM into the assemblage of morally acceptable behaviors while excluding polygamy, incest and many other variations on the theme and the one who disallows SSM for doctrinal reasons or because 'God told him so'. Your placement of the societal fencing to include SSM is no different than their placement to exclude it. It is belief based on a mysticism and current social doctrine. It is morality by committee and is about as good an example of arbitrary and capricious as one can find.

At the end of the day, the supporter of redefining the moral boundaries to include SSM is left with the identical argument as the religious person for why one activity is moral and another isn't: "Because I say so." The religious says that God informs his doctrine while the irreligious says that nature, his conscience or some other ethereal phenomenon is the source of morality and informs his doctrine. The religious are mocked for relying on their buddy in the sky by those who can identify no better moral source or even a reason for the existence of morality. The mockers like to believe that a dianoetic journey leads them to their conclusions about morality. But in the end they are left with the curt response of the religious – "Because God said so" – replacing the notion of God with logic or their version of a buddy in the sky. They are as powerless to prove the parameters of morality or the reason for its existence as the religious are to prove the existence of God. As with Zepps, it is almost as though they cannot hear themselves speak.

2013-04-04

Do As I Say

So what do we learn from an article such as this entitled, "Cheney's Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War"?
  • "Despite promises by President Barack Obama to reel in this habit, the trend toward granting favored companies federal contracts without considering competing bids continued to grow, by 9 percent last year, according to the Washington Post." And yet no pictures or headline likening Obama to Darth Vader or verbal depictions of him as a money grubbing war satyr. If Cheney is Satan come to earth, then Obama is 9% worse. I won't hold my breath for The Nation, Halliburton Watch and Kos to mock and disparage President Obama for enriching his oil buddies.
  • "The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade,..." Does the author think that the $39.5 B was just stuck into Cheney's (and now Obama's) bank account? Halliburton purchased no materials and provided no service? Some portion of that was profit, but it is presented as if the whole wad was just handed over in a sack and that's that. But not so fast...
  • "...such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg." a) so they did provide something for all that money. b) who was it again that was in the White House in '10?
  • Even though many prosecutions for misconduct occurred against KBR and Halliburton employees during the Bush administration, this article refers to it as "Cheney's Halliburton"? Apparently that didn't help shield them from scrutiny.
  • Will we now hear about Obama's Monsanto and his corn profiteers? (Ha ha, that was just a joke. Of course we won't.)

Of course, if corruption is happening it should be prosecuted. But Obama is given a pass on being a corrupt politician because he SAYS that some are too rich, that he doesn't bend to special interests, that lobbyists don't touch him, that Wall Street is filled with fat cats, that he puts poor and middle-class Americans first, etc. He also said, "I don’t take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am president, they won’t find a job in my White House." But that doesn't square well with his habit of appointing lobbyists, fat cats, tax cheats, the rich and banking tycoons to government positions and taking money from lobbyists, agribusiness, Wall Street, etc.

A brief list of the kind of people Obama said would not find a job in the White House:

[Name, Obama position, former employment]

  • Jack Lew, Chief of Staff, Citigroup fat cat (offshores money in the Caymen Islands)
  • Bill Daley, Chief of Staff, JPMorgan Chase lobbyist
  • Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff, Wasserstein & Company ($18.5 million in 3 yrs. Hasn't he made enough?)
  • Peter Orzag, Office of Management and Budget, Citigroup fat cat
  • Robert Wolf, Obama bff, Swiss bank UBS tax cheat
  • Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for the FDA, Monsanto VP
  • Roger Beachy, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center
  • Islam Siddiqui, Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative, Vice President of the Monsanto and Dupont-funded pesticide-promoting lobbying group, CropLife
  • Ramona Romero, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corporate counsel to DuPont

What is amazing is his followers on the left that fall for his anti-lobbyist/Wall Street/fat cat money juking while he does the very thing he said he wouldn't do.  But one of the greatest benefits of being on the left is never having to say you are sorry because nobody in the press will hold you to account.

(Source: http://themoderatevoice.com/136653/the-washington-wall-street-revolving-door-just-keeps-spinning-along-guest-voice/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronnie-cummins/the-unholy-alliance-monsa_b_642385.html)

2013-03-19

Maddow, Maher and High Taxes



Maddow is loathsome with her meanness and purposeful misrepresentation. Of course, "the big problems in America right now are that rich people do not have enough money," and that "poor people have too much access to affordable health care." What a despicably demagogic representation of those she disagrees with. Can you imagine so misrepresenting those you disagree with? And that many applauded her is shameful. Is fear of discussing the real issues what causes her to set up her fantastical straw men and knock them down?

Wouldn't this be like saying that because the left supports largely unrestricted abortion and because blacks abort at a rate 5 times greater than whites, that the left hates blacks, are afraid of them and is engaging in genocide to control their numbers?

I struggle to know if it is rank hatred, a who-cares-what-I-say-about-them-win-at-all-costs mentality or complete derangement that motivates her distortions. I normally don't waste any time listening to her degeneracy.

But what follows is priceless. Bill Maher concedes that the rich do 'pay the freight'. This isn't remarkable; anyone who can read knows that. But what is remarkable is that he said, "I just saw these statistics. I mean, something like 70 percent."

Really? Just now saw these statistics? Is he willfully ignorant? How is it possible that a man who has a political commentary show had not absorbed this before now?

I guess Diana Mutz, professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, was correct when she concluded that those with the highest levels of education have the lowest levels of exposure to people with conflicting points of view. This is because universities are largely leftist seminaries and intellectual ghettos. The left lives in an insular cocoon where they only listen to each other and just dismiss those with whom they disagree with mockery, name calling and the sort of trite, twisted deceit that Ms Maddow demonstrates here.

I won't hold my breath for the Maddows of the world to jeer, mock and deride Maher as a mean old rich white guy who thinks America's problem is that he doesn't have enough money or that the poor have too much access to affordable health care.

Intellectual honesty would demand it. But that's precisely why it won't happen.

2013-03-17

Ever Has It Been

The badgering and opprobrium showered on the Catholic church in many ways is a study in lack of self-awareness. Those old men in Rome are lectured that they need to get with it and adopt new values and standards and to quit thinking they know better than the rest of us by a crowd that is certain that they know better.

As Taranto notes:
If you judge it by the standard of contemporary feminism and sexual liberationism, of course it will seem lacking. But these fashionable dogmas have yet to prove their worth, either for understanding human nature or sustaining a society over the long term. Their adherents fancy themselves sophisticated, but in fact they frequently are too simple-minded--or perhaps fearful--even to consider a different way of looking at the world.
I suppose the Jews were similarly mocked for their stodgy prudence by the followers of Baal because of their reluctance to engage in sex worship, commanded religious prostitution, human sacrifice and burying sacrificed babies in the cornerstone of a house.

My experience is that most religious peoples are constantly questioning and reevaluating their dogmas. Remember Mother Teresa's confessions of doubt-filled angst? I wonder if those mocking the Catholic church ever do.

2013-03-06

Venezuela Cleans Up After Hugo

On the heels of Rodman schmoozing with the warden of the world's largest prison colony, we have some good news from the third world.  But one of the left's favorite sons did not receive a glowing obit from the left's paper of record.  The NYT (I repeat, the NYT, friend of the left) description of Chávez:
  • visceral connection with the poor, tapping into their resentments
  • his followers called him Comandante
  • had no qualms about using weapons to seize power
  • used oil revenues to finance his desires
  • nationaliz(ed) dozens of foreign-owned assets, including oil projects controlled by Exxon Mobil
  • social welfare programs could be corrupt and inefficient, but they made the poor feel included in a society
  • determined to hold onto and enhance his power

The WSJ who does not share ideology with this guy also notes:
  • he stripped independent TV and radio stations of their licenses
  • opposition politicians were limited to three minutes of advertising a day, while Chávez could commandeer the airwaves at any time
  • he permitted no debates
  • public workers risked being fired if they voted against him.

Weren't these the kind elections that Jimmy Carter blessed?  (For those of you not paying attention, the answer is "yes".)  Can anything be learned or concluded about President Carter's ideology from this? Are we allowed to conclude anything based on a man's actions? Or are stated good intentions the only thing that informs our judgment?  Anyway, the list of laudable accomplishments rolls on:
  • despite the populism and government handouts,... the less-fortunate now endure routine food and medicine shortages
  • prices are more than 20 times higher than in 1999
  • the murder rate in Caracas is one of the highest in the world
  • bridges and roads are in disrepair
  • blackouts are routine
  • untreated sewage pollutes drinking water
How on earth does this qualify him to be the "hero to Venezuela's poor" as the LA Times headline barked? These conditions are good for the poor?

What is it exactly that the left so admires about this man and other fellow sojourners like him on the left? Why would Kevin Spacey, Danny Glover, and Sean Penn visit this man? Some of this sounds like the left's fevered imaginary description that justified deep hatred of Bush. But this engenders love and admiration for Chávez? So they share Chávez's ideology or... what? I guess oil money is super nifty when you are a petrol-potentate or it is purchasing a leftist TV station. Remember, the NYT is inclined to print hagiographies of guys like this. But all they could come up with was what a rat he was?
He grew obsessed with changing Venezuela’s laws and regulations to ensure that he could be re-elected indefinitely and become, indeed, a caudillo, able to rule by decree at times.
The NYT could have saved some space on that one.  We have a nice short word for that – dictator.

The NYT continues:
He stacked his government with generals, colonels and majors, drawing inspiration from the leftist military officers who ruled Peru and Panama in the 1970s.
...often in his military uniform and paratrooper’s red beret.
Isn't the left always worried about the militarization of government? Is there no self-awareness? The ends justify the means? Pas d'ennemis à gauche, I guess.

The NYT ended with psychiatrist Dr. Edmundo Chirinos's assessment: “a hyperkinetic and imprudent man, unpunctual, someone who overreacts to criticism, harbors grudges, is politically astute and manipulative, and possesses tremendous stamina, never sleeping more than two or three hours a night.” The WSJ concludes with: "As life stories go, the lesson of Chávez's is to beware charismatic demagogues peddling socialist policies at home and revolution abroad." That is, if we can conclude anything from results and not just intentions.

2013-03-05

Sequester Scare

Thomas Sowell wrote,
Back in my teaching days, many years ago, one of the things I liked to ask the class to consider was this: Imagine a government agency with only two tasks: (1) building statues of Benedict Arnold and (2) providing life-saving medications to children. If this agency’s budget were cut, what would it do?

The answer, of course, is that it would cut back on the medications for children. Why? Because that would be what was most likely to get the budget cuts restored. If they cut back on building statues of Benedict Arnold, people might ask why they were building statues of Benedict Arnold in the first place.

This is a nice illustration of what is known as the Washington Monument Gambit. That is, when making decisions about budget cuts, do the most harm with the most painful cuts possible so that you can reinstate the spending that you want.

The Whitehouse is unleashing WMG on the populous for political gain. And if that wasn't enough, as Sowell continues,
President Obama has said that he would veto legislation to let him choose what to cut. That should tell us everything we need to know about the utter cynicism of this glib man.

He doesn't want to make his own plan (sequestration) work, but wants to inflict pain on the poor and vulnerable in order to get his way. Possibly because that plan was never intended to work budgetarily, but was a political maneuver to check mate the GOP.

Harming the most needy is usually the sort of thing rich Republicans are accused of – whether they have the power to do such things or not – and here the President is actually doing it right before our eyes precisely because he has the power to inflict pain on the electorate.

2013-01-21

If It Saves Just One Life

During his January 16 speech on gun control, President Obama said:

Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.

His first sentiment is accurate, thoughtful and, although regrettable, reflective of reality. It is true that those intent on harming or burgling are not all that interested in laws and the preferences of civilized societies, so in this way the President is merely acknowledging this truth.

The second sentiment regarding the bromide "if it saves one life, isn't it worth it" is depressing. Whenever a politician utters these words, you should be wary. Very wary. The real answer to this question – if we are to be honest – is likely, "No." The statement is often used to stir emotional and populist sentiments in order to forward some legislation that the speaker is favoring. It is used by many on both sides of the aisle and it is troubling no matter who says it. And I can assure you that most of those using it are brimming with good intention.

I am certain that reducing maximum speed limits to 35 mph would save lives – many more than one life and orders of magnitude more than any and all gun control schemes. Banning driving altogether would be even better – if vehicle fatalities were the only consideration. But when the costs are considered, the lives saved must be compared to the costs to society. Societies are constantly counting the costs and determining if the prescription is worse than the disease. Politicians are no more callous when they support higher speed limits that assure more fatlalities than they are when they oppose gun control measures that would do little or nothing to reduce gun violence and/or gun related deaths.

To the individual affected by gun violence, statistics and societal costs are meaningless. The murdered loved one isn't partially dead or statistically insignificant. So for the individual the platitude of saving just one life means everything. But a society must consider things more broadly and cannot make laws based on saving just one life. It is always a trade off between, say, freedom and reducing numbers killed.

Intoxicated driving provides a good example of the trade-offs. One might support stringent restrictions on blood alcohol levels as a way to reduce deaths on the roadways. But all alcohol related driving deaths cannot be prevented by this action alone, so one might think up other ways to 'save just one more life'. Roadside sobriety checkpoints may be a method by which one more life could be spared. However, roadside checkpoints have an element of presumed guilt such that the driver must disprove his guilt via a test administered by the roadside officer.

There are an infinite amount of issues for which some could argue from atop the 'if it saves one life' soapbox. Arguing against abortion, automobiles, energy production, ultraviolet rays, fast-food, drone strikes, cigarettes, and lawn darts would certainly save one or more life. Just as allowing the South to secede, swimming pool bans, peanut based food bans, never going outdoors, guarding embassies and schools resembling prisons would undoubtedly save lives.

And some acts aren’t as clear. And while one could argue that outlawing capital punishment would preserve the life of the convicted, there is ample evidence that ridding the world of some such evildoers would save far more lives in the long run if the evildoer is ever released and then commits more crimes. And weren't there more than a few that thought prohibition would save lives? Good intentions aside, prohibition likely cost many more lives than it saved.

Our society must grapple with whether gun bans or anything else that is promised to save 'one more life' is worth the abridgment of the Constitutional rights and individual liberty. The point is that societies count the cost, and like it or not, saving just one more life is not usually worth the societal cost. The answer to the question, "If it saved one life, wouldn't it be worth it?" is usually "No." And I suspect that would be the President's answer if met with a proposal to arm every citizen based on evidence that innocent lives are spared quite regularly by armed citizens rebuffing the unwanted advances of a criminal or rapist.

2013-01-10

Gun Control v The Patriot Act

So on the one hand the Patriot Act is bad because it delegates far too much discretion and arbitrary power to law enforcement agencies, because it opens the door for abuses by the Administration and is an attack on civil liberties. But when others suggest that similar problems may exist with gun control -- that it delegates far too much discretion and arbitrary power to law enforcement agencies, that it opens the door for abuses by the Administration and is an attack on civil liberties not to mention an actual Amendment -- well, anyone who would suggest such nonsense is a bunch of crazies, clinging to their guns and religion.

Nobody wants unrestricted gun ownership. It is heavily regulated now. Those who think it isn't are ignoring the truth to further their agenda, lying to further their agenda, cannot read or aren't interested in facts. None of the proposed changes would have prevented Sandy Hook and other tragedies. Aren't these studies and facts and data that those who are always lecturing about studies and facts and data should consider? Will changing the color or stock material really prevent lunatics from acting looney? And this from a crowd that is eternally lecturing and mocking the religious for believing in an "invisible friend in the sky" and ignoring facts and science.

Fighting further regulation doesn't mean that gun owners want no regulation just as opposing further taxation doesn't mean one wants no taxation. Those who reduce their ideological opponents to such an extreme position are either lying or are just trying to win an argument. They certainly aren't interested in exploring ideas, "bipartisanship", "compromise" or "negotiating". They are interested in brinkmanship. And this from the side that is quite proud of their capacity for nuance.

The truth is that over the last 30 years, the U.S. homicide rate has declined by 50 percent. As Krauthammer writes, "We’re living not through an epidemic of gun violence but through a historic decline." Does this mean we should be uninterested in doing what we can to improve laws or curbing violence? Of course not. Again, only the silly and unserious paint their ideological opponents in such a way.

Would those who are in favor of gun laws have felt the same if "news"papers published maps that showed where all Muslims live? Of course "news"papers should not publish such lists or maps. All those gun owners are presumably innocent and have committed no crime just as the majority of Muslims are peace lovers and intend no harm. I guess the same crowd who struggles with the distinction between Islam and Islamists is equally puzzled by the distinction between gun owners and mass murderers.

The same group that was very concerned that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft would, in the name of the Patriot Act, jack-boot through every home destroying every conceivable civil liberty on their way to rounding up all peoples of Arab descent are now mysteriously quiet about the abuses of government. "But that was different," they cry. The "Bushies" only wanted to enrich their gun buddies and the left wants to spread peace and love and harmony. I suppose that would be great if it were in any way tethered to reality. There is as much or more cronyism and pocket lining going on these days as ever. In fact, an awful lot of loans have been taken out in the name of environmentalism and defaulted that have enriched a select few. And it has all been done in plain sight. If corporations like Halliburton were involved, would we hear the end of it?

This is why smaller government is better. Corruption and cronyism on both sides is the status quo. And only by limiting the amount of power any group or individual can have can this be checked. Those who are concerned when Bush and Cheney are at the tiller should maintain that suspicion when their side is at the helm. The problem is, they don't. They forget that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Yes, it cuts both ways. Those who look suspiciously at gun control should have as keen a suspicion for things like the Patriot Act. The thing is, they usually do.)

Those who think that larger and larger government can do no wrong often are tilting against their proper suspicion of those in power. They suspend that suspicion when those they agree with are holding the reins. How they manage the cognitive dissonance is a bit of a mystery. Those who think smaller government is a better way acknowledge that power corrupts, no matter who is in charge, so limiting the influence of those in power is a better management practice.

So the one side relies on mankind being good and having better answers and more perfect implementation. The other says all men are frail, mortal and corruptible and therefore institutions that can exercise great power over large groups should be limited. A well armed citizenry is a part of a larger picture that regulates and limits that power.

The Founders understood this. Shouldn't we?