Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Breaking: Global Warming and Climate Change Smoking Gun

The Official News Agency is reporting a link between Global Warming and Climate Change. Interviewed for the story, researchers noted

We found that as the temperature rises world-wide due to global warming, it rises equally around the Earth due to climate change. We were astounded.
It should be noted that no causal link between Global Warming and Climate Change has been found, but this new research brings that closer.

I think I'll add a news scroller here for the Official News Agency, to avoid missing stories like this in the future.

h/t Classical Values

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Playing to Win in Iraq

A lot has been written over the last four years about winning in Iraq, what it means, and whether it was even possible. A key ingredient identified by sages and pundits has been the willingness of the Iraqis themselves to "stand up". Some have assumed the Iraqis to be playing a waiting game, biding their time until our Left succeeds in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I have always thought the Iraqis wanted to join the modern world as a free nation, but were unsure whether they were allowed.

But can a culture built on extended families, tribal loyalty, and submission to authority produce such a result?

Another kind of winning may provide the answer. Iraq the Model gives the delirious Iraqi reaction to winning the Asia Cup Soccer championship, and has this to say:

Our players, tonight our heroes, learned that only with team work they had a chance to win.
May our politicians learn from the players and from the fans who are painting a glorious image of unity and national pride, and let the terrorists know that nothing can kill the spirit of the sons of the immortal Tigris and Euphrates.
The soccer victory comes at a time when Iraqis are also beginning to trust that their American liberators are not out to permanently rule over them, but also are not going to abandon them to the extremists. As Mike DeVine explains at Redstate:

I don't think I have to explain what a sea change this is in Iraqi thinking, especially given our abandonment of them in 1991 and the 24/7 promise to al Qaeda calls for abandonment for the last 3 years by the leadership of the Democratic Party and most elected DC Democrats.

What I may need to remind some here of is who is most responsible for this sea change.

President George W. "the Liberator" Bush is responsible. He has never wavered in his commitment to keep faith with the millions of Iraqis that voted and that risk their lives daily fighting with our American and Coalition forces against al Qaeda and other forces of extremism that desire to defeat us and the forces of moderation in the Middle East.

While I am not a big fan of the President, neither do I hold for him the unreasoning hatred that some do. His instincts and foreign policy idealism, so demonized by his detractors, are bearing fruit now in Iraq. He has from the beginning played to win the long war, which is the establishment of freedom in the Middle East. As Ben Franklin said of America, to explain why he was printing and circulating copies of our founding documents in France (before its revolution):
Tyranny is so generally established in the rest of the world that the prospect of an asylum in America for those who love liberty gives general joy, and our cause is esteemed the cause of all mankind.

The prospect of an asylum for freedom in the Middle East is one the jihadists cannot abide. Yet the Iraqi people, seeing for themselves the military power freedom can create, and seeing the athletic prowess of the "sons of the Tigress and Euphrates", are standing up to the jihadists, distancing themselves from tyranny, and playing to win.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Lunactivism Kills Bambi

As usual, Eric at Classical Values provokes thought with his post on deer in the headlights and the lunactivists who keep them there. Commenting, I noted

It is difficult to engage in rational discussion with people for whom humans and non-humans have equal (or comparable and in within an order of magnitude) value.

If you ask people which would be a greater crime, killing 10 deer or killing one human, most would answer that killing one human is worse. The "stop the killing" lunactivist in your post would have to ponder it, and probably come up with the wrong answer.

I really don't know how to stop them, or even how to engage them. They derive tremendous emotional and even spiritual value from standing against the status quo, shaking their little fists against what they see as the teeming hordes of Evil, those of us who draw a value distinction between human and non-human.

To me, the value of animal life and human life is not comparable. (Yes, I know humans are animals, too; unless I specify, you can be assured that I always use "animal" to mean non-human animal, or those aspects of biology which distinguish humans and non-humans from spinach or quartz. ) What I mean is that other things being equal, I would accept the immediate extinction of deer (or any non-human species) if it meant saving one human life, even for a moment.

Of course, things are not equal, and the extinction of even one species of deer would have a cost in human life, and an impact on ecosystems that would in turn have unknown, and largely negative, effects on humans. So, the pathologically absurd situation I posed above would at some point involve a dilemma in which human life could be balanced against human life.

But back in the real world, burgeoning deer populations spill over into areas occupied by people and their vehicles. Deer, lacking the evolutionary foresight to be constructed from sturdier materials, meet their inevitable end more quickly than either their Creator or we their predators would have liked. In the process they do a great amount of damage to property, and indeed, cost human lives.

So the overabundance of deer, as well as their total absence, would be a net negative for humans. Deer are good, when their numbers are great enough to be stable but not so great as to cause problems for themselves (by the lack of food and space) or us (by trying to use ours).

But the animal rights crowd will have nothing of that, because they don't see the distinction between humans and animals. Despite efforts to deny it, the notion that non-humans have their own innate rights, rather than drawing their protection from our need to regulate our behavior, leads inexorably to devaluing humans. So instead of stopping at criticizing those who engage in the cruelty of dog-fighting or other ways to have fun hurting animals, they engender overpopulation, disease, and harm to the creatures they ostensibly wish to help.

Like all attempts to deny reality, attempting to keep people from using animals for food is doomed to failure.

Stay tuned here for more on lunactivists, their antics, and their intractable nature.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Latest Protected Minority

In the case of Lazano, et al v Hazleton (pdf), a new protected minority has been declared. It isn't Mexican Americans, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, or people with a certain look to them. This protected class is much harder to spot, and certainly includes people who are far more dangerous than the average Central American here to find work.

While I have no wish to attack Judge Munley personally or to impugn his character, I think he's made a mistake. Whether the Clinton appointee did so out of dispassionate legal reasoning or from some philosophical conviction is unclear to me. The judge has ruled that while local law enforcement officials can enforce Federal laws, local laws can't make it more difficult for people to skirt them.

Analyzing a judge's attitude from a decision is difficult, because it's easy to read in bias where none exists. And I'm not a lawyer, so I may be naively, ineptly, and completely wrong in a dozen different ways. But in the first footnote of the decision, the judge says

1The parties vary in their use of the terms “illegal alien,” “unauthorized alien,” “illegal immigrant” and “undocumented alien.” We will use the terms interchangeably.

The judge soon afterward notes that the ordinance defined "illegal alien" as someone having an "unlawful presence" in the country as defined by 8 USC §1101. But that section defines "immigrant" as a certain kind of alien, rather than specifically saying which kind of alien is present lawfully and which is not.

So he summarize immigration law, concluding:

A third category of aliens present in the country are “undocumented aliens” who lack lawful immigration status. These aliens may have overstayed their time in the United States or entered the country illegally. (Id. at 113). The number of these individuals is approximately twelve million. (Id.). Hazleton’s use of the term “illegal alien” evidently is aimed at these individuals.

Perhaps this conflict in terminology is just an artifact of the judge doing the low-level work at one time and the footnotes at another, but he seems to show a definite preference for the term "undocumented".

And of what use is mentioning the "12 million" number?

He then assesses the standing of each plaintiff (some of whom were illegals, some not). He does so by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for standing, which he summarizes. However, for each of the defendants (though I skimmed some here) he assumes that it was the Hazleton ordinance that caused the injury to the plaintiffs, not the Federal law in which they or their prospective customers were in violation.

The judge appears to have adduced from the evidence at trial that the Hazleton ordinance "created a climate of fear" among legitimate businesses and legal aliens. He returns to that again and again in reasoning that the ordinance, not the Federal law, is to blame for the plaintiff's troubles. He does so in part because:

... The business-owner plaintiffs do not complain that the ordinances limit their ability to sell products to and hire illegal aliens. They complain that the City’s ordinances damage them by hindering the operation of their businesses and by requiring them to seek immigration information from employees in a way that violates federal law.

And there is the nugget of it: he agrees with the plaintiffs that the locality can't have an ordinance which discriminates based on compliance with Federal law.

So we have a new protected class: Federal lawbreakers.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Planet is Underpopulated

Is the problem with the world that we have too many people?

Many liberals would be surprised that there is even a question: population should be reduced to medieval levels to fix everything from African Hunger to Global Warming. But rather than battle that particular straw man, let me restate my counterthesis by positing rather weakly that many of our problems, to the liberal way of thinking, are caused by overpopulation.

Assuming arguendo that all (or most) of the world's problems are caused by having too many people, is the prospect of having too many people one we have to address? That is, how should we address the threat of overpopulation?

Hopefully all of the answers to that will involve attrition this time, not mass slaughter as they did in the 20th century. Now, that wasn't fair. Sorry. Just because every Communist who has ever gained power has been a world-class mass murderer doesn't mean that the next one will be. And that all communists are liberals doesn't imply that all liberals are communists of the mass-murdering persuasion.

But people are writing (and purchasing) books about how wonderful the planet would be without us. What if Man were to be wiped off the face of the Earth? I've thought about that. Seeing the weeds that grow in the cracks in the driveway, it seems obvious that in a few short years, they would overgrow it. The roof of the house would soon start to leak, the leaks would lead to rot, and soon trees would take root in the attic. No, wait, that's how it is now. I really should patch those holes soon.

There is an undercurrent in progressivism that holds Man to be a locust, destructively feeding on The Planet to the misfortune of all other living, and non-living, things. Obviously, if there weren't so many people the damage would not be so great. Mankind (and by unavoidable extension, individual people) are parasites, an unpleasant blight on an otherwise perfect world.

But even without considering the damage to the planet, overpopulation (and of the "wrong" type of people) has been the left's bogeyman since Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood to do something about it. The efforts continued, branching from the eugenics movement to encompass the horrors of World War II. And it continues unabated.

According to a 1994 study at the site dieoff.org (yes, really), "U.S. agricultural productivity is already unsustainable". That quote is, fortunately, not supported very well by the study. A key logical error interposed itself, wherein the study notes that population growth is primarily due to immigration, but concludes that individuals must exercise family planning or the entire population will be at the mercy of nature. Nowhere in that study did they actually look at U.S. agricultural productivity due to technological advances over time, except noting in the conclusion

Given the fact that the supply of natural resources is finite and that the ability of technology to replace many of these resources is limited, we are left with the necessity of controlling population numbers. Certainly, diminishing consumption levels by stringent conservation programs will help slow depletion. But individual responsibility on the part of men and women to control family size is vital to control population numbers and maintain a high standard of living, otherwise the harsh realities of nature will impose its control on the population.
Another flaw in the logic employs the fallacy of Division: just because the whole population will suffer if everyone doesn't exercise "individual responsibility", that doesn't imply that anyone in particular will suffer, whether or not they choose to exercise "individual responsibility".

But a more basic problem with the logic is the assumption that resources are finite. New resources, and new uses for old resources, and new ways to avoid using resources altogether are found with a regularity and pace which blows that assumption out of the water. It's a case of failing to understand that what appears to be a constant is actually a curve that changes in ways we don't understand.

In a piece from 2005, Jeff Lindsay wrote
How can the "obvious" logic of the population control lobby be wrong? Because the resources of the planet are not a fixed pie that dwindle with each birth. The resources are whatever we can make of this planet - or solar system - and it takes the work of human beings to transform raw materials and energy into useful resources. Humans are not a liability, but a resource that we need!
Population growth is only a problem if your basis vectors are skewed. I look at population growth as the goal, and the lack of place to put the people as a problem to overcome. I want the human race to dominate the universe. That goal is unattainable at our current population numbers.

I am for any plan or technology that allows continued, sustainable population growth, and I reject any plan to artificially limit that growth. Even if the population growth curve is exponential, it doesn't mean we can't sustain it.

If the people are hungry, figure a way they can feed themselves. If that means skyscraper farms (beware the popup), or floating farms over the 70% of the Earth that's covered in seawater, then that's what it means.

Unrestricted population growth should be our goal not only because we want growth itself, but because the restrictions are worse than the growth. Artificially restricting growth is saying "I've got life, but you can't have it.", which is akin to stomping waterlogged hands from the rails of the lifeboat.

Furthermore, it has been shown that the populations of prosperous, industrialized societies naturally level off, all by themselves. Or perhaps that's all Margaret Sanger's doing, by birth control and abortion.

Humans have the right to procreate. Whether they do it well enough to suit us is irrelevant, because it isn't our call. To fret and bother about where we will get the food to feed their children is equally silly, because that is certainly not our problem, it is theirs. Is that irresponsible? No, it's simply practical. Responsibility is taking possession of the effects of your actions. Someone else's actions are not part of that.

The lifeboat metaphor fails in several ways, not least in that there is a very good chance that one extra person in the boat could drown everyone, and that is wholly unlike the effects of increased population. One extra person could be the one who saves the rest of us.

But all in all, it seems better to work on how best to keep the boat afloat, rather than telling anyone they need to swim ashore.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the Proper Use of Sledgehammers

Apparently, sites across the blogosphere agree that the proper use of rhetorical sledgehammers is in the swatting of flies. Or maybe it's just a slow news day.

John Bambenek, with whom I am usually pleased to be acquainted, delivered a well-reasoned but ill-informed complaint to the FEC about DailyKos, a popular liberal blog. Bambenek's complaint alleged that DKos is playing on the FEC's regulatory turf.

In response to public debate, the FEC last year issued a rule (pdf) concerning how Internet sites in general and blogs in particular should be treated. They read the very large amount of public comment on the matter and understood that web sites are fundamentally different from other media, those differences making them less in need of regulation. As I said at the time (Google cache),

Reading the rule, it was clear that the FEC was not just posturing in their attempt to defend free speech and apply a minimalist approach to regulation, of the blogosphere but of campaign speech in general. Their words have the ring of truth to them.

I wrote last week on this that the standard ought to be transmission, that if you cause something to appear that a person wasn't expecting and can't avoid, then you may need to be regulated. It seems the FEC, in looking at the comments people made to them, realized that while that would exclude web sites from regulation, that it didn't quite hit the mark; the standard ought to be money changing hands.

Given that there is regulation of any campaign ads, that's probably the best way to do it.

However, it isn't just money changing hands, but money changing hands causing people to stumble onto the content without wanting it. That doesn't fit DailyKos or any other web site, because in the end they are at the mercy of the mouse, which is under the control of a person.

So until Kos starts taking money for the purpose of forcing people to read his (poorly considered and generally incorrect) posts, there is no way the FEC needs to regulate his site. Bambenek is wasting everyone's time at best, and even if successful would be fouling his own portion of the commons.

But it's one thing for me, or even IlliniPundit, to say that. It's quite another for the blog heavyweights such as Mike Krempasky or NRO to bother with this sort of thing, and certainly to don sackcloth amid ashes for the crisis such a complaint portends. Now that is a real waste of time.

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Helicopters Don't Kill People

Anti-War Activists Kill People

In the wake of our withdrawal from Viet Nam, millions died at the hands of Vietnamese communists and of those of the regimes that soon entered the power vacuum created by our departure.

To believe that Al-Qaida would be less efficient is a nice gamble to take with other people's lives ... especially if you believe we caused the mess.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Tagged, eh?

Eric at Classical Values has tagged me. Thanks, Eric, 'preciate it. May your server go dark.

But I guess I'll play along. The rules of this tagging are in bold.

Let others know who tagged you.


Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.

Randomness is at once intuitively obvious yet very deep mathematically. There are several definitions for it: a function whose output bears no discernible relation to its input, the result of some process which defies prediction, etc. All of the definitions have in common that things appear random when we don't know what to expect from them, making any outcome as likely as another (yielding uniformity over time). Stated differently, a random process is one for which we don't understand all of the factors, or even know what those factors are. Ok, I think I'm done geeking out. Back to this tagging business.

I assume I am randomly to choose 8 facts about me, not to supply 8 facts about me that have to do with randomness or have a random air about them. How am I to perform the random selection -- should I list many, many facts and do random sampling (without replacement) to select from among them?

[... Interlude ...]

Having now considered the question at length, and since there may not even be 8 facts about me from which to choose, I think I will assume a loose definition of "random" and attempt to come up with 8 facts about me which vaguely have to do with randomness, listed in mostly the order I thought of them (along with other ordering factors I don't understand).

  1. I'm married to a wonderful woman who deserves better than I give her (we met by chance...)
  2. I drive a diesel Jetta, except for the odd occasion when it needs repair.
  3. I run between 20 and 30 miles per week, depending on the weather.
  4. I like the weather best with temperatures above 80°F, and the more humid the better.
  5. I have a congenitally deaf dog who understands and sometimes chooses to acknowledge understanding several signs (dog, stay, go, sit, lay, stand, do biz, speak, toy, eat), in American Sign Language
  6. I've never played the Lottery, because the odds are too good for the house
  7. When I play poker, I sometimes try to act as if I'm not pretending to think I'm better than I am
  8. I got a Bachelor's in Mathematics and Computer Science (which involved three Statistics courses)

Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.


Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

That will be tricky, since I don't know 8 people well enough to risk the permanent damage to their reputations, or at least, to their interest in me, that my tagging them will no doubt render. But here goes my, as it were, disordered list:

Now I am supposed to contact them all, since like everyone else in the world, they don't read this blog.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

SusieQ, Where Are You?

Andrew Sullivan (via Ramesh Pannuru (via IMAO)) has fallen for a Moby attack, it looks to me. SusieQ doesn't have an overtly Republican or conservative name, like "JoeBibleThumper" or "NukeTheWhales", but that's about the only Moby Point she missed in the FrontPageMag comment Sullivan reposted.

I was very reluctant to write this letter because it is so negative, but I've reached the point in which I can no longer stay silent. With your last column, I've decided to stop reading WorldNetDaily. That fact probably means nothing to you since I've never been able to support you financially. But it means something to me. For over eight years I have faithfully read WND every day. I trusted you. I believed you.
I've never read WorldNetDaily, as far as I can remember, so I don't know if SusieQ is a commenter there. It's possible she could have been a long-term reader there, but if so it's very unlikely, given her later points, that she were ever anything but a troll. In fact, the entire comment has markings of having been cut and pasted from earlier work.
To suggest that the press coverage of Abu Ghraib and the reduction of "interrogation" has caused us to "lose" (support for) the war is nonsense. We are losing in Iraq because we haven't defined the enemy and we aren't there to "win." What would winning look like, anyway? This undeclared "war" was never meant to be "won," but to secure a large American presence in Iraq. And why do you and all of the other so-called "conservative" news media ignore the president of Iraq's statement that they are ready for us to leave?
I'm not sure why SusieQ brought up Abu Ghraib and interrogation except as a red herring, since neither were mentioned in the article to which she responded. That is also one sign that the letter is paste-work. Playing on the ambiguity between losing support for the war and losing the war, she then presumes that we are losing in Iraq, even though she cannot even define "winning". With no definition for winning, she can no more claim defeat than victory.

But she follows that with the signature liberal tactic: the argument by adjective and scare quote. With the phrase "This undeclared 'war'", she seeks to label the war illegitimate. Like all failures to establish premises properly, it serves only to annoy. Unfortunately, we are not even rewarded with the pleasure of a reasoned point, because she uses her time to declare (without support) that the war in Iraq was intended to "secure a large American presence" in Iraq. This, despite the universal support by every human being, and even among Congress, for an eventual US withdrawal from that country.

The classic loaded question "Why do you [and all others] ignore..." would be better used if it were factual. Iraqi President Nouri Al-Maliki said the Iraqis can keep the country secure if the US were to leave "any time they want". Clearly he is expressing confidence born of hope, not of reason, and is readying his people for resolve in the event that our Congress forces a withdrawal, and telling the terrorists not to expect the sheep to be shorn willingly. From that well-known Bush mouthpiece CBS News on Al-Maliki:
"We need time and effort, particularly since the political process is facing security, economic and services pressures, as well as regional and international interference," he told reporters at a Baghdad press conference, without giving a timeframe.
Maliki is not claiming that the Iraqis are "ready for us to leave", but rather, that they would get by if we did. However, if we take Mr. Maliki's words at face value and give them the interpretation SusieQ does, we're winning. Either SusieQ doesn't believe al-Maliki is correct, or she understands that victory in Iraq is in fact achieving conditions such that we can leave.
You and others who claim to stand for conservative Christians have gone down that terrible road of endorsing deception, violence and fiscal irresponsibility to justify the actions of a president (whom I voted for twice) who is not only out of touch with his country, but close to becoming our first dictator.
Disregard the last clause for a moment. Is any more evidence needed before that clause to show that whatever SusieQ is, a conservative she is not? Irrespective of any particular policy position, she displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the conservative world view. The tone is all wrong. Conservative Christians do not look to FrontPageMag or "conservative media" for someone to stand for them, nor do pundits who claim to "stand for" conservative Christians last out the week. Conservatives stand for ideas, not movements or constituent groups. But she says that those who support the war in Iraq do so from loyalty to President Bush, a mistake no conservative would make.

The code words continue with "deception", implicitly allying herself with Joe Wilson and the BushLied™ No-WMD subculture. Decrying "violence" in defense of freedom is drawing equivalence between military action and terrorism. And she then adds "fiscal irresponsibility", which is an exercise in question-begging: things are fiscally irresponsible if they are not important enough for the amount of funds they require versus the amount available. But she is trying to show that the war is not important, so to do so by claiming it's irresponsible is circular.

And if Mr. Bush is close to becoming our first dictator, his tactics to achieve it are really awful.
Now the drumbeats are calling for us to "take care of" Iran next. Hitler had his scapegoat in the Jews and Bush has his in the Muslims. And my fellow Christians are happily following him down a terrible path laced with lies, torture, violence and genocide. After it is all over and the dust has cleared, what will we do when they tell the world that the Christians are now the enemy? Haven't we learned anything from history? When we condemn and entire group of people for the actions of a few, we are no better than those who have turned away from God.
Out comes the Hitler card. The sheer historical ignorance, and the naivety of those who have never lived under true totalitarianism, never ceases to amaze. Even without that, however, there are several differences between the "scapegoats": the Jews never flew airplanes into German skyscrapers, never called for Germany's destruction, never said they wanted to create a Jewish nation out of the whole world, and never blew themselves up at bus stops to get on the news. They were, relatively speaking, innocent. President Bush has never called for any action against Muslims as a group, but instead always carefully and zealously distinguishes between radical Islamic terrorists and ordinary Muslims. The two situations are in wholly dissimilar.
You and the others who support the evolution of our political process into essentially a one-party system are guilty of contributing to the destruction of our beloved republic. I am so sorry that you of all people bought into this madness. I really used to enjoy reading WND, but now I've deleted it from my database because you have become like the rest of the people who claim to follow Jesus: You lust for war, violence, torture and injustice. You will say anything to justify these things, which you know go against the teachings of Jesus. Which Jesus supports these things? Not the Jesus I follow, and I have been a Bible-believing traditional conservative Christian for 24 years. Go ahead and rationalize it all you want. We all have to answer to God for our actions, and I will no longer stand with my fellow Christians and endorse this insanity because after four years, I have come to the conclusion that we were deceived right from the start."

There is a vast difference between opposing a particular party (e.g. the Democrats) because of the policies they espouse, even (hypothetically) desiring the total destruction of that party on the one hand, and desiring a one-party system on the other. To expect that the Democrats will fall so far out of favor that they are forced to disband when they are currently the majority party in two houses of Congress is a bit silly, but to believe that anyone is actively planning such an outcome is really nutty. However, should that unlikely fantasy ever materialize, it takes another leap of imagination to believe that Republicans would either seek or achieve one-party rule thereafter.

As for the charges that the WND folks (and the rest of the people who claim to follow Jesus) are bloodthirsty warmongers, I can only say that I don't know anyone like that. Many Christians do recognize, however, that there is evil in the world which must be stopped, and that there may be some evils better dispatched with force of arms than by prayer and fasting. And they know, at bottom, that even though America is a great place to be a Christian, to expect the non-Christians among us to accept faith as our only defense wanders down a theocratic road I would rather leave untrammeled.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

I Hate Stupid Laws

Nate Nelson has a post over at Redstate about the latest hate crime law Congress is trying to pass. The bill is unconstitutional on its face, being an attempt to intrude Federal power into State and local matters. Nate does a good job of listing the reasons why it's such a bad bill, and why hate crimes laws are so bad in general.

But Nate misses the point of hate crime legislation. It isn't to punish those who commit the crimes per se, even though that is how the laws are written. The purpose of hate crime legislation is to legislate morality.

The illogic of passing laws with the expressed purpose of punishing people who break other laws is transparent. If the haters in question were going to obey the new law, they would have obeyed the old one.

It's a truism that 'you can't legislate morality', but of course the law does affect morality. What you cannot do is pass a law and expect a given person to be moral because of it. What you can expect is for society as a whole to tend to internalize as moral what the law says. How many politicians excuse or even justify their behavior with "I have done nothing illegal"? And so for ordinary folks, as well, especially the young and the shallow.

Hate crime laws put the people on notice that the government doesn't like people being picked on for their skin color, religion, etc. The biggest problem is their failure to generalize: if you're going to have hate crime laws, make it double-extra-illegal to victimize someone based on their group membership, period, and quit trying to make lists. Everyone would be covered equally by the law, then.

But that would not fulfill the other purpose, which is to let Democrats act like they're doing something to advance the cause of their current crop of victims.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Whence This Hysteria?

Dr. Sanity likes to refer to the Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) as displacement: unable to attack Islamic fascism because to do so would violate Tolerance, Multiculturalism, and their anti-jingoism, the Western Left instead turns their ire against George Bush.

But what of these memes:

  • American elections are rife with fraud
  • Americans soldiers are torturers
  • Global Warming will kill us
  • Safe Sex
  • Better single parenthood than a bad marriage
  • Embryonic Stem Cells will save us
  • Impeach!
How did these get to be such popular notions on the left?

I have a theory, which like all such theories do, simplifies a complex subject into a simplistic model.

When there is a societal consensus on some topic, such as "Marriage is between a man and a woman" or "Terrorists and those who support them are bad", there is always a tiny splinter group on the left that opposes that consensus.

This group "tells truth to power", standing bravely against the gale-force winds of cultural norms, and disagrees with the consensus. From high moral indignation, or sometimes simply to get attention, the group inserts itself under the fingernails of society.

Then a logically fallacious but no less powerful cultural identification occurs between that splinter group under our fingernails and the Pilgrims, Boston Tea Party braves, homesteaders, and cowboys, the lone individual or tiny group fighting for its beliefs against the odds, an iconic American hero. They believe it, so it must be true.

The group attracts fellow travelers, who often even claim personal danger for holding their idea, pointing to an isolated incident here or there in which someone was 'attacked' for holding the idea, where an 'attack' ranges from being dragged by a moving vehicle to perceiving raised eyebrows at the mall. Whether the target of the attack was targeted specifically because of the issue at hand, or even whether the attack is ever actually carried out, is irrelevant to the cohesive power of the shared feeling of danger.

As the idea spreads, it retains its counter-cultural tag long after it has ceased being "dangerous", and it is in fact advantageous for those who adopt it that others believe they hold it. More and more people hop on the bandwagon, lest they be left out of the movement and seen as backward, or not fully liberal.

If there is sufficient fuel in the form of demagoguery, displacement, or simple partisanship, the idea can take on hysterical (pun intended) proportions. It doesn't take long, unless something else takes its place, for the particular bit of madness to embed itself in the canon of leftist ideology.

And I am given cause now to wonder whether all leftist ideology arrived that way.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dependence Day, Part II

What is it about Liberals that makes them see an apple fall from a tree and think that apples have learned to fly?

That's a metaphor.

Rather than recognize that men are capable of evil, calling evil what it is, and insisting that those who engage in it be punished, liberals believe that if only the tools by which we commit our acts of evil were removed, we would no longer commit the evil.

Liberals like Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich want to take guns away from people. Why? Because people use them against each other. Pointing out the children who are hurt by gunfire, Blagojevich ignores the one who pulled the trigger and goes after the trigger, instead. In doing so he seeks to increase the power of government, a government he happens to head.

And yet men (and women) in prison fashion weapons from paperclips and toothbrushes, turning their creativity and copious free time to the manufacture of weapons. How is it that we can expect men and women in a supposedly free society to be any less creative in their pursuit of wickedness? And that is just to address the committed lawbreakers. When the otherwise law-abiding citizen is asked to choose between obeying a law that restricts his freedom of self-defense and breaking that law to defend himself and his family, he will often, thankfully, choose the latter.

Because people use nations against each other, liberals like Howard Zinn [edited 20070711, striking "\nLiberals"] want to take nations away from people. Pointing to the atrocities of men who inhabit nations, and even acts committed on behalf of nations, Zinn pleads that we forgo loyalty to mere nations and adopt it for all mankind. As if no evil was done before the advent of the nation, nor would ever be done on behalf of all mankind. Such evil will be much worse for its sanctimony.

Liberals target not only weapons and nations, but money. Knowing in their hearts that ordinary people are far less able to decide what to do with money than liberals are, naturally the ordinary folks should not be burdened with it. And the great evil done by wealthy people is manifest, for how otherwise did they gather wealth but by acts of evil? Therefore, liberals need to take all the money and use it as they see fit.

When will they learn? People are evil, sometimes more than others. That evil expresses itself without regard to the tools we have at our disposal, whether the tool be a pistol, an army, or a fat bank account. Guns, nations, and money are not intrinsically evil. But disarming people, disallowing the right to self-determination, and redistribution of wealth are.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dependence Day, part 1

This was supposed to be my July 4 post, when I started writing it in May, but I took a few days off from blogging to have a life. Well, a little.

"Nationalism" is a bit of a dirty word, conjuring as it does images of Mussolini, Hirohito, and that other fellow.

But along comes Howard Zinn to decry nationalism on the 4th of July, telling us to put away the flags and love for country, and instead to embrace the whole world with loyalty and good will for all.

There is nothing like competition to keep people honest, and so it goes with governments, too. Without any competition, the United Nations is an appalling quag of incompetence, corruption and waste. With no way to measure its success or failure, failure is assured, and achieved with ease.

But can we point to the United Nations as the model for all future transnational organizations? The mind reels with possibilities for a New United Nations. Perhaps all matters great and small could be decided by direct Internet plebiscite. Or if a region is underserved by Internet providers, because it is underserved by electricity providers, delegates could be selected to vote by proxy for the people.

In a world run by opinion polls, the demagogues would have a tall platform from which to spread their phony message of the day, whether it's to the ruin of the economy as in U.N. economic guru Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, or in Al Gore's equally disastrous policies over global warming as he screeches his demands for reason by fiat.

If one of these fools were to gain power over the economic and political life of the whole world, he would institute controls (for our own good) that would make Josef Stalin green with envy. In such a world, to where does one escape? To climb a mountain and would draw accusation of spoiling the air and melting glaciers; to sail the seas one would be endangering dolphins, causing hurricanes, and otherwise destroying the planet. There would be no hiding from a world government.

All of that could change if the human race figures out a way to spread to more than one planet, or to have a population which could survive without Earth's assistance. In such a far-flung fantasy world, in which escape off-world were equivalent to hopping a bus for Pittsburgh for us today, a world government would not be as scary.

But we are not there, and untill such a time as we are, I'll keep my flag, and the country that goes with it.

Howard Zinn and all.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Who Supports Discrimination?

One of the enemies of Justice is institutional racism. A governmental body that uses its power to discriminate is differentiating among people not on the basis of anything they have done, but on who they are, which is by definition unjust.

In the wake of the SCOTUS decision in Parents Involved v. Seattle School District (pdf), some are making a Federalist argument that the States should have the right to discriminate in order to rectify their earlier segregation, or in the Seattle case, some societal problem not explicitly caused by the government or the school.

Unfortunately for that line of thinking, one of the few things that the Federal government is Constitutionally mandated to enforce is equality before the law. Specifically, the Fourteenth Amendment and its equal protection guarantee is not up to the States to enforce -- there having been a war between the States over the matter, so to speak.

So it is the actual Constitution, rather than the fantasy one that the diversity activists believe in, which must be followed.

Congress is on very firm ground when they apply the Fourteenth Amendment. So is the Court. Equal protection of the law ought to mean that the laws apply equally to everyone, not that everyone is discriminated against equally.

There is a huge, and the Court says dispositive difference between implementing a policy of diversity to fix a problem caused by the government segregation, and implementing a policy of diversity to get racial diversity for its own sake. The Court has "repeatedly" declared racial balancing to be illegal, so any diversity plan must be more than just a race test, and must be clearly designed to reach some educational goal.

What most conservatives and I think all libertarians want is for the government (to the degree possible) to ignore a person's race when dealing with that person. And now I know why I always feel so uncomfortable with Census takers and other busybodies ask my race.

Because it's none of their business.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Why No Posts?

I've been busy doing other things, such as a "What To Do With..." series on my apolitical blog. I'm exploring various reuses for things that would otherwise go into a landfill or be troublesome to discard.

I'm also working on yet-another-logic-site, with a different organization that I think will make a handy learning tool and even handier reference.

Watch this space for more details as they become available.

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