Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

3/19/2005

Pro-life or anti-sex?

Yesterday, I mentioned that a number of those advocating for Terri Schiavo's being kept alive via feeding tube seem to be almost as outraged at the fact that her husband Michael has gone on to have children with another woman as they are that he is trying to have her life support removed. Here are some examples of this:

The virtually complete silence from women's and victims' rights activists--particularly in a society that claims to abhor spousal abuse--is mind boggling. Where is the National Organization for Women? Why haven't they condemned Michael Schiavo as a philandering pig who has fathered two children to a mistress while Terri--the woman he is married to--is denied her most basic civil and human rights? (Renew America)


you have commited criminal acts AGAINST TERRI (poligamy, adultery), and no matter what your lawyer tells you, no matter what the judges tell you, and because of your criminal acts against terri, you have NO RIGHT to kill her. (Modblog)


her unfaithful husband wants her dead so he can marry his gf that he has had children with already. what an asshole. he won't divorce her because he is "devout catholic". yea well if he was devout he wouldn't be sleeping with other women ... her husband needs to rot in hell for not keeping his balls in his pants. (Hello World)

Her family has offered the adulterous bastard a divorce. He won't accept it. He claims he needs to get on with his life (his mistress and his not one but TWO children born since would suggest he's already done so, Terri notwithstanding) and that he's doing what Terri would want. He even tried to cite Terri's religious beliefs -- Catholicism -- as a reason why he wouldn't divorce her. He doesn't seem to care what the church thinks about feeding tubes NOT being removed even from the comatose (and Terri is definitley not comatose) or what the church thinks about adultery and illegitimate children. (Original Musings)

technically, it probably is not murder -- unless the law is changed. It appears the Florida legislature is in the process of doing exactly that. However, Michael, you DO live with another woman, and you DO have two children by that woman ... you ARE an adulterer. (Random Thoughts)

Schiavo's totally in the bag with the middlemen of death, including financially. "No amount of money anyone can offer will cause him to turn his back on his wife," Felos says. Nothing but the previous hundreds of thousands he's already received and spent. Nothing other than the little lady he's living with and the two illegitimate children he's had through adultery with her. (Baylyblog)

Isn't this exactly the sort of case that prompted repeal of adultery laws? How cruel and heartless of society (it was said) to make it a crime for a man whose wife is permanently incapacitated to seek a little satisfaction elsewhere. Yet the effect is that a man in a sexual relationship with another woman can still claim the rights of a husband with respect to his legal wife. I have long found it curious that so few conservatives publicly call for the reinstatement of adultery laws, because to me there is a clear "seamless garment" argument to be made connecting the legalization of adultery with the decline of marriage (indeed it's more obvious than the problem with "gay" marriage). Personally I would favor making adultery a low-grade misdemeanor. (Carnage and culture)

Michael stands to gain something when Terri dies, right? I mean, beyond the ability to marry his shack-up floozy who gave birth to their bastard children? (Catholic Light)


I suppose you all would rather that Michael continued to have sex with Terri in her current state? That's kind of sick, don't you think?

I'm not saying that this anti-sex sentiment is the motive behind anyone who wants Terri kept alive; I'm sure there are any number of well-intentioned individuals who couldn't care less about her husband's "adultery" and just sincerely believe that removing her feeding tube would be wrong. But it seems clear that there are just as many whose motivation is biblical, not moral.

(By the way, note that the idea of outlawing sex outside of marriage is advocated by many of the Religious Right. Republican-voting libertarians: this is who you have allied yourselves with!)

Creationists: you are worthless

Via World O' Crap, this Washington Post article confirms what we already knew: that the "intelligent design" movement is an attempt to advance the social agenda of Christian right-wing fundamentalism:


Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America's political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.

...

The growing trend has alarmed scientists and educators who consider it a masked effort to replace science with theology. But 80 years after the Scopes "monkey" trial -- in which a Tennessee man was prosecuted for violating state law by teaching evolution -- it is the anti-evolutionary scientists and Christian activists who say they are the ones being persecuted, by a liberal establishment.

They are acting now because they feel emboldened by the country's conservative currents and by President Bush, who angered many scientists and teachers by declaring that the jury is still out on evolution. Sharing strong convictions, deep pockets and impressive political credentials -- if not always the same goals -- the activists are building a sizable network.


Okay, that's scary.


A prominent effort is underway in Kansas, where the state Board of Education intends to revise teaching standards. That would be progress, Southern Baptist minister Terry Fox said, because "most people in Kansas don't think we came from monkeys."



Well ... they're in luck, then, because evolution says no such thing! Problem solved, right?


The movement is "steadily growing," said Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution. "The energy level is new. The religious right has had an effect nationally. Now, by golly, they want to call in the chits."



Okay, what the fuck are 'chits'?


The efforts are not limited to schools. From offices overlooking Puget Sound, Meyer is waging a careful campaign to change the way Americans think about the natural world ...

Meyer said the institute accepts money from such wealthy conservatives as Howard Ahmanson Jr., who once said his goal is "the total integration of biblical law into our lives," and the Maclellan Foundation, which commits itself to "the infallibility of the Scripture."

...

To fundamentalist Christians, Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance.

"If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."



For Christ's sake. I cannot believe this battle even has to be fought. As World O' Crap said:


And once you get rid of the scientific method, we can all live happily in the Dark Ages again! You didn't see many liberals there, did you?


Yeah, but just wait until they have to suffer through another plague. Then they'll be coming to all us liberals and scienticians wanting help. "Cure us!" they'll say. "We have the plague!"

Sorry, Jack. Why don't you just say a prayer instead?

Oh yeah, I know why. I learned all about God and prayer and stuff from a self-help book by one Oswald T. Pratt. His words of wisdom on the subject of religion include:


When you pray, no one is listening. Furthermore, you look ridiculous.

Attention, Christians: In the Gospel According to Luke, Jesus promises his followers that he will return from the dead during their lifetimes and bring God's kingdom to Earth. He's running a little late. But keep waiting, he's sure to come any day now.

Every time someone says, "Thank you, God, for answering my prayer," there are a lot more people saying, "God, where were you when I needed you?"

When the chips are down, and you really need God's help, He's not going to be there for you, because He doesn't exist. But hey, maybe Santa will show up.


And perhaps most relevantly:


If it weren't for science, the pope would probably still be torturing people who thought the earth revolved around the sun.


Careful ... don't give them any ideas.


Oh, by the way, in case anyone was wondering whether the theory of "Intelligent Design" has any merit--you can see a decisive refutation of ID here. (WARNING: Not for the squeamish.)

3/18/2005

Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is supposed to be removed today. GOP members of Congress are trying to avoid this by doing something bizarre--subpoenaing her to testify:

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida court cleared the way to remove the feeding tube that sustains a severely brain-damaged woman on Friday after U.S. lawmakers tried to prolong her life by subpoenaing her to appear before Congress.

...

Schiavo has been kept alive since a heart attack starved her brain of oxygen in 1990, leaving her in what the courts declared was a permanent vegetative state.

Her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, says she would not have wanted to be kept alive in that condition. In a bitterly contested seven-year court case, Michael Schiavo won permission to remove the feeding tube after 1 p.m. EST on Friday, which would bring his wife's death in seven to 14 days.

Republican congressional leaders made a last-minute bid to stave that off by subpoenaing Terri Schiavo to appear before hearings and committees later in the month, a move that would grant her protection as a witness in a congressional inquiry.

...

Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said the U.S. Congress has no authority in the case.

"The state does not own Mrs. Schiavo's body and Congress cannot simply order her to remain alive contrary to her medical treatment wishes and court order," Felos said.

...

President Bush, who was in Florida on Friday to talk about Social Security, backed efforts to prolong Schiavo's life.

"The president will continue to stand on the side of defending life," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said aboard Air Force One on the way to Florida.

As the legal drama played out, police were stationed near the Woodside Hospice caring for Terri Schiavo in Pinellas Park, Florida, keeping the entry clear and checking the identities of those trying to enter.

A couple of dozen demonstrators stood outside, praying aloud to prevent removal of the feeding tube. Some carried signs reading "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

...

Schiavo was 26 when she became ill and had no "living will" or written directive about what end-of-life care she might want.

After hearing testimony from doctors and neurologists, the Florida courts ruled that the cardiac arrest robbed her brain of "all but the most instinctive of neurological functions" and that there was no hope of her regaining consciousness.

It ruled that she would not have wanted continued life support based on relatives' testimony that when her husband's grandmother was being kept alive by a respirator, Terri Schiavo had said, "If I ever go like that, just let me go … I don't want to be kept alive on a machine."


What a mess.

I have a question for 'social conservatives' who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide partly on the grounds that it creates a "culture of death." Assuming that Terri Schiavo does eventually have her feeding tube removed for good, if you think that she is still conscious on some level, wouldn't it be better to simply euthanize her, allowing her to die immediately, than to just remove her source of food and starve her to death? Given that she is going to die one way or the other, wouldn't it be better to make it quick and painless (if indeed she can feel pain, which the 'defending life' side thinks she can)?



UPDATE: Apprently the GOP's ploy is not going to work.

Also, has anyone else noticed that more than a few right-wingers seem to be taking issue not only with Michael Schiavo's efforts to remove Terri's feeding tube, but also with the fact that he has gone on to have a couple of children with another woman? Here is one example; there are more, but I don't feel like tracking them down.

So what is this about--the 'sanctity of life' or someone putting his pecker where you think he shouldn't?

3/17/2005

Hell on Earth

Eugene Volokh finds something to like about the Iranian government--namely, the way they execute murderers:

I particularly like the involvement of the victims' relatives in the killing of the monster; I think that if he'd killed one of my relatives, I would have wanted to play a role in killing him ... I am especially pleased that the killing ... was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging ...

I am being perfectly serious, by the way. I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness. I think it slights the burning injustice of the murders, and the pain of the families, to react in any other way.

... such a punishment would probably violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. I'm not an expert on the history of the clause, but my point is that the punishment is proper because it's cruel (i.e., because it involves the deliberate infliction of pain as part of the punishment), so it may well be unconstitutional. I would therefore endorse amending the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause to expressly exclude punishment for some sorts of mass murders.



To the objection that taking part in such cruelty would diminish one's humanity, he responds:

Why would my humanity be diminished by participating in the killing of a monster (he had sexually abused and then murdered at least about 20 children), or even by deliberately inflicting pain on him? It seems to me that this is the reaction to a natural, understandable, and laudable human impulse to avenge (even if in a ridiculously inadequate way) the abuse and death of so many innocents. Why shouldn't one say that our humanity is diminished if this monster is allowed to live on, or even to die a painless death, when his victims and their families endured unimaginable pain?


Though he wouldn't approve of the needless suffering, Kant would say that it is precisely in order to respect a murderer's humanity (and our own) that we must put him to death, and that it is our duty to do so:

Even if a civil society resolved to dissolve itself with the consent of all its members — as might be supposed in the case of a people inhabiting an island resolving to separate and scatter themselves throughout the whole world — the last murderer lying in the prison ought to be executed before the resolution was carried out. This ought to be done in order that every one may realize the desert of his deeds, and that blood-guiltiness may not remain upon the people; for otherwise they might all be regarded as participators in the murder as a public violation of justice.


I don't know if I agree with Volokh or not, but unlike some other bloggers, I can see the appeal of treating murderers the Iranian way. It's hard for me to muster any sympathy for someone who brutalizes innocents, like the man who raped and killed 11-year old Carlie Brucia. I just can't bring myself to care even one tiny bit about their suffering. I'm not sure I would promote their suffering ... but I'm not sure I wouldn't, either.

Frankly, I don't know how to respond to these crimes--not just to the evilness of them, not just to the perpetrators of them, but just to the sheer fact of them. Just the fact that things like this happen.

What a wretched place this planet can be. Christians preach about Hell--who's going there, how you can avoid it. Did it ever occur to these folks that we are already in Hell?

Two perspectives on the U.S. occupation of Iraq

Charles Krauthammer (a.k.a. Skeletor):

What really changed in the Middle East? The Iraqi elections vindicated the two central propositions of the Bush doctrine. First, that the will to freedom is indeed universal and not the private preserve of Westerners. And second, that American intentions were sincere. Contrary to the cynics, Arab and European and American, the U.S. did not go into Iraq for oil or hegemony, after all, but for liberation--a truth that on Jan. 31 even al-Jazeera had to televise.


First of all, what is this "will to freedom"? Is that anything like the Will to Power? Would that make George W. Bush an ubermensch?

As for the U.S.'s "sincere" motives in Iraq, Krauthammer seems to think this sincerety was proven by the fact that the election took place. But is this really evidence of good American intentions? Another perspective is given by Noam Chomsky (a.k.a. the World's Greatest Living Philosopher) (emphasis mine):

In many respects, the elections were successful. The main success, however, is being mentioned only marginally, by a few reporters: the US was compelled to allow them to take place.

That is a real triumph of non-violent resistance, for which Sistani has been the symbol. The US sought in every possible way to avoid elections, but has been compelled to back down, step-by-step. First, it tried to ram through a US-written constitution. That was barred by a Sistani fatwa. Then it tried to impose one or another device (caucuses, etc.) that could be controlled completely. Also blocked by non-violent resistance. It continued until finally the US (and UK, trailing obediently behind) had no recourse but to allow an election—and of course, the doctrinal system went into high gear to present it as a US initiative, once it could no longer be avoided. The US also sought to undermine it as much as possible, e.g., by driving independent media out of the country (notably al-Jazeera, the most important), by ensuring that its own candidates, particularly Allawi, would be the only ones to have access to state resources to reach the public (most candidates had to remain unidentified), etc. But the US-UK couldn’t block the elections, greatly to the distress of Washington and London. The question now is whether they can be compelled to accept the outcome. There’s little doubt, even from the more serious mainstream press as well as from polls and from properly hawkish experts (like Anthony Cordesman) that people voted with the hope that it would end the occupation. Blair announced at once, loud and clear, that the prospect is not even being contemplated, clearly articulating his usual contempt for democracy.

Washington also announced that the US military forces would stay at least into 2007, whatever Iraqis want. The more serious press, like the Wall St Journal, is reporting that the US is attempting to secure some kind of agreement on a “vague promise” to withdraw eventually.


The rest of Chomsky's comments here.

Another question for libertarians

NOTE: This post is from last Wednesday. I wanted to move it to the front because over the last week or so there has been some very interesting and enlightening posts in the comments section, most of them the result of back-and-forth between Micha Ghertner of Catallarchy and my favorite Marx-reading teddy bear Bensonbear in which they attempt to sort out some of the issues raised in this post. If you're interested in this stuff, you should definitely check it out.

*********


In a previous post, I created a fictional scenario that I thought posed something of a puzzle for those who espouse libertarianism. In it, my followers and I moved to Wyoming to begin a small community that we called Dadaland. In our community, we had certain rules that had to be obeyed; if you didn't want to play by the rules, so to speak, you were told that Dadaland is not for you. Only people who agreed to obey would come to Dadaland, and even then, if they changed their minds, they were free to leave. But if they stayed, they had to do what our system of rules said they did.

I asked libertarians two questions about this scenario:


1. Would you have any objection to I, and the other Dadalanders, conducting ourselves in the manner described above? That is, in establishing our small community, have we violated anyone's rights or in any way trespassed such that even a libertarian would say we have acted unlawfully? Keep in mind that we forced no one to join us, and we force no one to stay with us.

2. If not, then how is Dadaland relevantly different than the U.S.? That is, why is it okay for Dadalanders to dictate that everyone must share, and look out for one another, etc., but not for the U.S. government to create programs like welfare, or Social Security, or to regulate business?



Most libertarians seemed to have no objection to Dadaland, but denied that the situation with regard to the U.S. was the same.

The most relevant difference, it seems, is the way in which I acquired the territory that became known as Dadaland and the way in which the U.S. came to occupy its territory. Noting that in my scenario I had bought the land, Micha Ghertner of Catallarchy said:


The key word here is "bought." The U.S. government never legitimately acquired the land it claims dominion over, neither through sale nor squatting. Nor did it ever gain unanimous consent from those it claims dominion over. Therefore, it is the government that must justify itself to us, and not the other way around.


I argued that my buying the land wasn't particularly crucial to the scenario; I could have inherited it, or just claimed it (if it was not being used), or whatever. Micha responded:


However you legitimately acquire your land is fine, so long as legitimacy is met. The U.S. government does not enjoy such legitimacy and never did.


Fair enough. But is this really what the entire libertarian philosophy comes down to--the claim that the U.S. government didn't acquire the land legitimately?

David Killoren, who is the author of the excellent philosophy-oriented blog E.G., points out that this principle produces bizarre conclusions:


Your view, I take it, is that the way in which the government originally acquired the land has bearing on the rights of the people who presently occupy the land. Is there a statute of limitations here? Would this still be the case 500 or 1000 years after the original acquisition of the land?

Consider two scenarios:

1. Dada and his followers build a community on unoccupied land. 1000 years pass.

2. Schmada, a Dada-imitator, and his followers chase a farmer off his land and build a community very similar to the one Dada and his followers build. 1000 years pass.

It is now the year 3005. Dadaland and Schmadaland are virtually identical communities. Taxes are collected in the same way; services are provided in the same way; etc. The *only* difference between Dadaland and Schmadaland is that 1000 years ago, the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the present citizens of Dadaland acquired the land legitimately, whereas the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the present citizens of Schmadaland did not.

Do you believe that the people who live in Dadaland have different rights than the people who live in Schmadaland? ... The answer has got to be no. It would be extremely implausible to say that such a huge difference between persons' rights can obtain solely in virtue of the misdeeds of a bunch of commune-builders 1000 years ago.


Micha responded:


It does seem strange, but this conclusion directly follows from the definition of legitimacy and private property ownership. Legitimacy requires consent and justified acquisition of resources. Private property ownership entails the right to exclude. The length of time should have no bearing on either of these issues, and the Dadaland and Schmadaland societies must be distinguished, no matter how similar they may be in other respects, if the concepts of legitimacy and private property are to have any meaning.



So the libertarian has to bite the bullet and accept the consequences that David drew out? Micha seems not to want to bite this particular bullet, and thus would rather find something else to ground libertarianism other than strictly rights-based reasons:


I agree with part of Dada's criticism and believe that it is one of the major flaws in natural-rights libertarianism. And it is also one of many reasons why I have moved closer to consequentialism over time.


So an alternative grounding for libertarianism, and one which would avoid the strange conclusions of the Dadaland/Schmadaland scenario, would be on consequentialist grounds: i.e., libertarianism is the correct political philosophy, but it is not so as a direct consequence of natural rights, and is thus not true a priori; rather, it is correct because a society that followed libertarian principles would be an overall happier or better one than a society that was constructed according to the norms of another ideology. Thus the superiority of libertarianism is wholly contingent; it just happens to be the philosophy that works out best for us.

This is at the same time a more plausible argument than the a priori one, and also one that is going to be very difficult to make. So my question is: What basis do we have for concluding that libertarian societies produce all around better consequences than other types of societies? If libertarianism is to be justified on utilitarian / consequentialist arguments, we must have some reason to think that its enactment would make human life a more pleasant experience. So what reason do we have to think that this is so?



P.S. Sorry to David and Micha for using so much of their comments in this post; your stuff was just too interesting to leave in the comments section. I hope you don't mind.

3/16/2005

Common sense ain't so damn sensible

(With apologies to The Onion.)

Over at Right Reason, the new blog for conservative philosophers, our friend Max Goss complains about what he calls a widespread "disregard -- in some cases a contempt -- for the deliverances of common sense" among intellectual-types:

Suppose one is considering two competing claims, one newfangled, the other expressing a belief common to most people at most times. Suppose further that the old belief allows one to navigate the world successfully and that the newfangled belief, if adopted, would make little difference to how one gets about. Shouldn't one maintain the old belief ... [o]r isn't it at least reasonable that he do so? Man's common stock of wisdom has been tested in ways that one's individual experience has not.

...

[Some philosophers] hold common sense suspect. Like many intellectuals of our time, I suspect they would emphasize the things common sense has gotten wrong -- the shape of the earth, for instance, or the distance of the stars -- while ignoring the many, many things it has gotten right.

...

Philosophers of mind like to speak of folk psychology, the collection of concepts (mind, will, desire, etc.) by which ordinary people explain and predict the behavior of others. We can generalize this point by speaking of folk ontology, the collection of concepts by which ordinary people explain and predict the workings of the natural world. The conservative generally accepts the deliverances of folk ontology -- for instance, the belief in mind-independent physical matter -- unless he has good reason to reject them. Though he acknowledges that the common man's intuitions can lead us astray, he also emphasizes mankind's cognitive successes.

These successes are too numerous to list . . . I simply ask skeptical readers to consider the following question: How could people get about in the world as well as they do if the majority of their received beliefs were false? ... our common sense beliefs, though not unassailable, are a generally reliable guide to our world.


I think Max's confidence in the information delivered to us via "common sense" is misplaced. Time and time again, it has not held up well in the face of increasing scientific knowledge. There are the obvious examples: common sense told us the Earth was flat, that humans were different in origin than other animals, that dead relatives visited us in dreams, etc. And there are the less obvious examples: the belief that matter and objects are continuous, that space and time are distinct, etc. In general, there is no particular reason to suppose that our common sense concepts will survive the transition to a scientific understanding of the phenomena they purport to describe.

Max acknowledges these mistaken common sense beliefs, but asks us to consider the "many successes" of common sense. He poses the question: "How could people get about in the world as well as they do if the majority of their received beliefs were false?" But usefulness is not necessarily a guide to truthfulness. In fact, it is often the case that falsehoods are more useful than truths. The beliefs that help us "get about in the world" do not necessarily have a greater overlap with beliefs that accurately describe the world. Often we are best served by forming beliefs that misdescribe things. (This was a point that Nietzsche often made.)

The idea of a distinct object is foreign to microphysics, yet it is crucial for maneuvering the physical world. This is because humans have evolved a conceptual apparatus that places great emphasis on the separateness of things--presumably because this type of conceptual scheme was beneficial. But we can imagine a creature for which a similar conceptual apparatus would be disastrous, and for which a very different "common sense" will be necessary to get about in the world. Neither creature is justified in supposing that his common sense beliefs--the concepts that are useful for him--are particularly reflective of the actual structure of reality.

Humans and other animals have not been designed to understand "deep" truths about the universe--they are not built to apprehend the true physical and ontological principles that govern the workings of reality. Thus the conservative faith in common sense is ill-advised, for most of the time common sense is, at best, a crude approximation of the way things really are, and at worst a complete misrepresentation.

Mark Noonan is a hypocrite

In the comments section of my earlier post criticizing Mark Noonan of GOP Bloggers for hypocritically bitching about anti-smoking laws while supporting laws against sodomy and the use of illicit narcotics, bensonbear points out that Noonan does in fact express a similar "hands-off" attitude toward homosexuality and drug use. Benson points to Noonan's comment elsewhere on the page that I linked above:

"If you are of the opinion that any conservative has a complaint about what homosexuals do in the privacy of their own homes, then you are astoundingly ignorant of conservatism.

As for me; I don't care what sexual activities consenting adults engage in provided I can't see it; I am in favor of complete drug legalization"

So do I owe Mark an apology?

I don't think so. How could anyone take a libertarian stand on these issues and still support the GOP with the enthusiasm that Noonan does?

This is an astounding hypocrisy. He says that as a conservative he has "no complaint" with the private activity of adults. But anti-gay sentiment is a mainstay of the Republican Party. Take a look at the language in the platforms of the national and state parties:


Texas:

The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should ‘family’ be redefined to include homosexual ‘couples.’


California:

Recognizing the traditional model of monogamous heterosexual marriage as the only stable relationship upon which to build a society, we believe that homosexuality should not be presented as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle in public education and policy.


Iowa:


We support a landlord’s right to refuse leasing property to cohabiting homosexuals based on moral grounds.”

We oppose the teaching of homosexual behavior as a normal, acceptable or alternative lifestyle, and believe that sex education must emphasize traditional heterosexual lifestyles.

We oppose Governor Vilsack's scholarship program for self-declared homosexual students


Oregon:

We oppose the Children and Families Division practice of adoption and foster parenting by homosexuals as a moral transgression against the child.

We believe all forms of homosexuality and the so-called homosexual agenda are morally wrong and damaging to society in the long term.


From the national GOP platform:

We affirm traditional military culture, and we affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.


Tell me again, Mark, how conservatism is unconcerned with what people do in private?

As for drug use, here's what pro-legalization-Mark's party has to say:


California:

Drug users must face stiffer penalties for contributing to the demand that makes the drug trade profitable. We support increased mandatory sentences for drug traffickers and dealers.


Texas:

We encourage the state and federal governments to prosecute illegal drug dealers and manufacturers to the fullest extent of the law and we call on Congress to use all means possible to discourage the foreign manufacture and export of such drugs into our country ... We oppose the movement toward the legalization of illicit drugs.


North Carolina:


We call for stiffer punishment for drivers who drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. We oppose decriminalizing or legalizing drugs that are currently illegal. Drug users must face stiffer penalties for contributing to the supply of these poisonous products. We applaud new laws that have lengthened prison terms for persons convicted of selling illegal drugs.


And then the national platform:

We encourage the state and federal governments to prosecute illegal drug dealers and manufacturers to the fullest extent of the law and we call on Congress to use all means possible to discourage the foreign manufacture and export of such drugs into our country. Because of their higher proven rate of success, faith-based drug rehabilitation programs should be utilized in place of incarceration whenever possible. We oppose the movement toward the legalization of illicit drugs.



This is the party of pro-legalization, pro-sexual-freedom Mark Noonan?

Note that Mark Noonan is not just a blogger who happens to be conservative and thus happens to support the Republicans most of the time. GOP Bloggers describes itself as an

online grassroots community with the goal of keeping a Republican majority in Congress, and a Republican President in the White House ... Our plan is to get the GOP's message out and organize as many bloggers as we can to create the biggest internet grassroots community for a political party.


In other words, Noonan is not just an independent blogger expressing his thoughts. He is actively (and admittedly) involved in promoting the agenda of the GOP. So while he might say that he supports laissez-faire policies with regard to private activities, Mark's own behavior--i.e., aggressively advocating for the GOP's vision of America--would seem to indicate otherwise.

Actions speak louder than words, Noonan, you corrupt Republican party hack.

3/15/2005

Are you there God? It's me, Nino

Supreme Court Justice (and possible future Chief Justice) Antonin "Nino" Scalia apparently believes that the U.S. government rules by divine right. In a recent case on the Texas Legislature's displaying of the Ten Commandments, Scalia said the following:

... when somebody goes by that monument, I don't think they're studying each one of the commandments. It's a symbol of the fact that government comes — derives its authority from God. And that is, it seems to me, an appropriate symbol to be on State grounds.

This bothers even Don Herzog at Left2Right, himself a conservative, apparently:


There's a lot to say about what's right and wrong with the Court's current establishment clause jurisprudence, on which everything hangs on whether the government is endorsing religion. But there's no room in constitutional law for Justice Scalia's claim that political authority descends from God. He may believe it off the bench, and you may believe it too if you like. But our constitution and our constitutional law do not proceed on those terms.

...

It would be good if all of us — left and right, secular and religious — could agree that Justice Scalia, whose work on and off the bench I much admire, pulled a blooper.


Brad DeLong's response is much more hostile:

Nino Scalia's views on this are profoundly--there is no other word for it--UnAmerican. Here in the United States, we are all children of Thomas Jefferson. God does not give us rulers. Instead, God gives us rights: to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We then institute governments to secure these rights, and they derive their just powers from our consent, not from God's decree. Moreover, it is not the YHWH of Revealed Religion but instead "Nature's God" and Nature itself that are the source of these rights.

...

In his speech "God's Justice and Ours," Scalia says that God hates not just crime and open revolt but peaceful campaigns of civil disobedience which are, in Scalia's view, based on the false assumption that "what the individual citizen considers an unjust law... need not be obeyed."

Thus from Scalia's point of view for Blacks to sit at an all-White lunch counter when the law decrees they shall not--that is not just a crime but a sin. And the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday--a celebration of his civil disobedience campaigns--is blasphemous: hateful to God, because it teaches people that there are circumstances in which they should disobey those whom God has commanded them to obey.

...does such a guy have any business being a Justice of the Supreme Court of a free country? No.


Damn straight.

But none of this is particularly surprising coming from Scalia, whose defining characteristic is his tendency towards fascistic reasoning. In 2002 he said:

The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible.


Another doozy from Nino:

Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.


And then there was a speech he gave in 2003:

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday night that government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution.

"The Constitution just sets minimums," Scalia said at John Carroll University. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires."

...

He said that in wartime or other situations where lawbreaking is rampant, government sometimes has to scale back individual rights of suspects.

Scalia said the constitutional rights are minimums adding that society has extended protections for individuals that go far beyond that.

He said that in wartime, one can expect "the protections will be ratcheted right down to the constitutional minimum. I won't let it go beyond the constitutional minimum."


(Well, at least he's letting us keep the "constitutional minimum." What a nice guy! Nino's really just a big lovable teddy bear when you get to know him.)

In Lawrence v. Texas, he claimed that "a person has no constitutional right to engage in sexual intercourse, at least outside of marriage" and that there and that there is "no general right of privacy" that American citizens can expect.

The man despises democracy and civil rights. That he is on the Supreme Court at all is shameful enough; that he is considered by some to be an "intellectual" whose prejudices are worth taking seriously is absurd.

I challenge Noah McCullough to a fight

To prove to all of you that I am not some kind of coward who picks cyber-fights only, I am offering to have it out with a real, live member of the enemy forces. The only way these Bushies will learn is if we start kicking their asses in a literal, as well as metaphorical, sense. Thus I make this challenge to the newest shill for the Bush administration's Social Security "reform" plan.

If you haven't heard of Noah McCullough, he is a nine-year-old who the Bush administration has enlisted to travel around the country to convince everyone of the wisdom of Bush's SS plan. Here is a picture of Noah:








Noah has his own website here (apparently he asked for it for Christmas, along with his own business cards. Precious, no?). The header at this site reads "Noah McCullough For President in 2032." To get a feel for what kind of Commander-in-Chief Noah would make, here are a few choice quotes:

About Bush's SS plan:

what will happen is when you do these personal accounts and all that.. what it's going to do is it'll pump it back up. Like when you take medicine, it doesn't work immediately, it works over time ... A lot of Americans didn’t support President Roosevelt’s effort to create Social Security at first. Now it will take a while for everyone to be fully educated about what President Bush wants to do to strengthen it.


About Bush himself:

He's a good Christian man ... I plan to pattern myself after him.


On his favorite president:

It's a tie between Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and George W. Bush.

On why he decided to travel around the country stumping for Bush's SS plan:

I know that it's a major problem that has to be fixed. And I don't want to have to deal with it my first day in office.


On how many times he has visited George H.W. Bush's presidential library in Houston:

Twenty-seven times.


I think these quotes make clear that Noah is in desperate need of a good ass-kicking, for his own good as well as that of the country. But apparently, no one has yet bothered to give it to him. This got me to thinking: what has become of our society?!? Noah goes to school, presumably--you're telling me that visiting a presidential library 27 times isn't good for at least a weekly thrashing? What's wrong with the youth of America?

Well, I have decided to pick up the slack, to do the duty that Noah's classmates have so irresponsibly shirked. I am going to kick Noah's ass.

I know what you're thinking--how can you kick his ass? You're only a head!

And you're right. It will not be easy for me to kick his ass. But I still think I can take him. I have to try--for the sake of the greater good.

So I officially challenge Noah McCullough to a fight. You pick the time and place, Noah, and I'll be there to give you the ass-stomping of a lifetime. Boy, do you have it coming.


UPDATE: Noah is scared of me and is being a huge pussy. See here for details.

GOP Nannies

More hypocrisy from GOP Bloggers. Mark Noonan, pissed about a potential New Jersey law which would ban smoking inside private organizations, says that the "Nanny State" has struck again:

You can't have half of liberty; we are either free, or we are not free. The arguments for bans on activities in places you don't have to go in are all nonsense from start to finish. You can say that you have a right to not breath cigarette smoke; and, you're right...but your rights do not include the ability to tell your fellow citizens what things they may or may not do in a place you don't have to go in.


That's interesting. I can only assume that Mark would feel the same way about bans on sodomy, drug use, etc.

Seriously, how the fuck does someone live with this kind of cognitive dissonance? You'd think the guy's brain would explode or something. (We should be so lucky.)

Next on GOP Bloggers: "Welfare is bad; poor people shouldn't rely on government handouts. On an unrelated note: Congress--can we get some more corporate subsidies and tax breaks, people?"

3/14/2005

Corporate guilt

The Unrepentant Individual is upset that anyone would take umbrage at the recent comments of a Nestle executive, which were the subject of a recent Boston Herald article entitled "Nestle chief rejects the need to 'give back' to communities":

In a stunning broadside to corporate citizenship as Bostonians have come to know it, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe - head of Nestle S.A. - said companies should only pursue charitable endeavors with an underlying intention of making money for investors.

"I think there is good reason for corporate philanthropy," Brabeck-Letmathe said, speaking to Boston College's Chief Executives' Club. "But as managers, we need to be very careful, because it is not our money we're handing out, but the money of shareholders."


The Unrepentant One thinks this is perfectly reasonable:

It is often that corporations are made to feel guilty for being profitable and successful ... Nestle is a successful corporation that employs a lot of people, provides many products at decent prices, and as a result, rewards those shareholders who have chosen to invest in Nestle.

...

It's high time someone actually stands up and explains that successful corporations, by their very existence, are part of the lifeblood of this country. Corporations are not de facto evil, and thus should not be forced to feel guilty for their success.


It's doubtful that very many corporations "feel guilty" about anything, but it is true that corporations are not necessarily evil; their evil is wholly contingent, though perhaps practically inevitable. If you dig deep enough -- and you usually don't have to dig all that deep -- you will find that almost every single major corporation engages in morally irresponsible behavior in order to maximize profits. Nestle may not need to feel guilty for its success, but there are plenty of other things for Nestle to feel guilty about.

Nestle aggressively markets its infant formula in third world countries, even giving samples away to maternity hospitals to give to newborns. The problem is, the newborns often become dependent on the formula -- apparently, the don't learn to suckle well, and thus breastfeeding becomes impossible. But after they're home from the hospital, the free formula stops flowing, and the parents often cannot afford to buy it. As a result, the child dies from various malnutrition-related diseases. See here, here, and here for more information.

Nestle was also criticized over its insistence that the government of famine-stricken Ethiopia pay Nestle some $6 million in compensation for the nationalization of a Nestle subsidiary in the 1970s. Eventually, in the face of negative p.r., Nestle gave in and settled for a mere $1.6 million.

And just for good measure, Nestle has also been accused of violating workers' rights to a safe workplace and doing business with various oppressive governments, and the cosmetics company L'Oreal, which Nestle owns, is known to engage in cruel animal testing.

So you'll have to excuse me if I can't work up much sympathy for multinationals like Nestle. Corporations may not be intrinsically evil, but left to their own devices -- which means absent government regulation -- they tend to get their hands exceedingly dirty.

Al From gets bitch-slapped

Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a self-proclaimed "centrist" or "New Democrat" group, is perhaps second only to Joe Lieberman on the list of Democrats that most other Democrats hate. From consistently bashes the party's left-wing, insisting that the Democrats are in danger of being taken over by leftist radicals, and that the key to electoral success for the Democrats is to move further to the Right.

Thus From argues that Democrats have "got to reject Michael Moore and the MoveOn crowd" and characterizes the members of MoveOn as "elites, people who sit in their basements all the time and play on their computers." He says Democrats must "close the national security gap" by "recapturing the muscular, progressive internationalism of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy".

In other words, From thinks that Democrats need to start thinking and acting more like Republicans, and get on board with the project of the American empire. Our refusal to do so, the DLC claims, is costing us elections.

Is this a cogent political analysis, or is it utter horseshit? Steve Gilliard thinks it's the latter:


I'm tired of these losers blaming us for their losses.

In any locker room in America, they would be called whining pussies. It's time to use some locker room talk on these folks, because an intellectual discussion just won't work. This will not be for tender eyes or sensibilities.

Ok, when you have a team, people bring different things to it, but the goal is to fucking win. You don't get anywhere by cutting down your fucking teammates. You don't like Mike Moore and Move On, you bitch about them in a private e-mail, you don't run to those fucking bitches at the WSJ and proclaim them the problem ...

Our problems is that our coaches suck. They not only don't know how to win, they act like they don't want to win...

A lot of you blame John Kerry for losing. Well, that's also horseshit. Even Tucker fucking Carlson thought Kerry had in the bag ... Kerry was saddled with the same losers everyone else had to deal with. Coaches who can't fucking coach and try to win using the old playbook ... They didn't want to win bad enough. They thought there were rules. Our old friend Hunter Thompson knew that politics had one set of rules, do anything to win which you can get away with. The fact that Kerry got close is a miracle, given the team he had ... The DLC should be called the dumbass losing coaches. Al From couldn't coach his way out of a fucking paper bag. His day is done.

...

If you are not with us, you are against us. If Al From wants to suck Wall Street cock, that's fine. If Hillary Clinton wants to make nice with Man on Dog Santorum, that's also fine. But if you step to us, try to blame us for your failures, we will stomp a fucking mudhole in your ass. The GOP wins because we didn't fucking fight back. Now? We fight. And if you don't want to fight to win, we're gonna make you sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. We won't be asking, either. This isn't the hippie left of peace and love. This is a left with money and balls and we're gonna fight. ...

Because it isn't unfair. It's life. It's only unfair if we sit around with our dicks in our hands doing nothing. You want to change this country, you change it. You change the terms of debate, how it's debated and who gets to debate ... The GOP may have started this fight, but we'll be the ones to finish it, if we have the will to.



The rest is here.

(Via Daou Report.)

3/13/2005

True love, Hannity-style

Another sign of the imminent collapse of Western civilization, which had previously escaped my notice, is brought to my attention by the Socialist Swine. Apparently, on Hannity.com -- you know, Sean Hannity of Fox News fame -- there is an unholy dating service for right-wingers called 'Hannidate'. You can post a personal ad there in order to "find your perfect match through Hannity style romance."

Did anyone else shiver when reading that last sentence?

Anyway, as you can imagine, there's a pretty impressive crop of potential lovers on Hannidate. Among them:

  • Jenny, who is a probation officer, a NASCAR fan, and all-around "pretty darn lovely":






  • Scot, who says "I don't know if I want a serious relationship, but it would not hurt just to meet someone":





  • Sharon, who you will be "proud to have on your arm":





  • Eric, who apparently has some sort of jungle fever, is "looking for a woman that is conservative that doesn't smoke and who is not White":





  • And finally, there's Michael, a Mormon who attends church regularly and "tries to live my faith which includes abstaining from pre-marital sex" but is "VERY affectionate and look forward to a VERY healthy sex-life once I am married!" (read: expects anal):







All in all a pretty promising bunch, huh?

Socialist Swine, though, doesn't want to take any chances, and so is, in an effort to "make up for my transgressions against conservatism ... helping a conservative I find over at Hannidate find themselves some fairytale right-wing love." These week the lucky Hannity Head is Jonathan, a college student who likes "studying, watching movies, watching anime, playing video games" and is looking for a woman who "is traditional, so she has to be good at cooking at cleaning".

Socialist Swine sees a few problematic aspects of Jonathan's ad:


You say that you want a woman that is “traditional, so she has to be good at cooking at cleaning.” While you're at it why don't you ask for a woman who would love to wash the skid-marks off your drawers, responds well to cries of “Get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie," and whose goal in life is to be barefoot and pregnant.


With the Swine's help -- read the rest of it here -- Jon should find that special lady in no time.


Redecorating

As promised, I've made a few changes around this shit hole. The most prominent change is that, in an effort to make the blog more visually appealing, I have, a la Libertarian Girl, added a picture of myself at the top of the page.

Also, I have switched the sidebar to the right side, underneath my picture. And the title of the blog is a little bigger now, too.

It's not much, but it's a near miracle that I was able to do it at all. Basically, the design has gone from "hideously monstrous" to "comically primitive," which is at least an improvement.

It looks best on Firefox, but should be decent on IE. But I recommend Firefox anyway.

If anything looks too strange to anyone -- text on top of the picture, perhaps, or sidebar shoved to the bottom of the page -- or if you can't see my picture at all, could you do me a huge favor and just drop me a line? It would be much appreciated.

Also, I guess tell me if this new layout totally sucks. But be gentle.

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