Archive for April 3rd, 2009

April 3, 2009

Cornell Law professor Sherry Colb compares fetus to a rapist

Thanks to the Creative Minority for pointing out this professor’s atrocity-by-analogy:

Particularly at the later stages of pregnancy, the right to abortion does not protect an interest in killing a fetus as such. What it protects instead is the woman’s interest in not being physically, internally occupied by another creature against her will, the same interest that explains the right to use deadly force, if necessary, to stop a rapist. Though the fetus is innocent of any intentional wrongdoing and the rapist is not, the woman’s interest in repelling an unwanted physical intrusion is quite similar.

Right. Merely by not wanting the baby, a woman empowers herself to use deadly force. Her will alone is sovereign, and all other considerations must yield. Professor Colb, how do you sleep?

UPDATE: Linked at Sundries Shack.

UPDATE II: Linked by Pundette (a mother of 7).

UPDATE III: Linked by Daily Gator.

April 3, 2009

She sure fills out her brackets!

My wife (and sister-in-law, who also reads the blog) can blame Smitty for sending me the link to “Hottest Girls of the Final Four.” I’m picking the North Carolina Tarheels, especially this coed who looks so sweet in Carolina Blue:

Yeah, I know what you’re saying: This Carolina girl is probably about the same age as my own redheaded collegiate daughter. Shut up, Dr. Freud! Rule 5 is a commercial principle and I am a professional blogger. Readers grateful for the high-quality entertainment can ease my conscience by hitting the tip jar. (This includes my brother-in-law, Donovan. Help me out here, buddy.)

April 3, 2009

Amazing Grace, How Hilarious The Read

by Smitty (hat tip: Fausta)

When you need a palate cleanser, check John Grace’s demolition of BHO unplugged, i.e. sans TOTUS. The climactic sentence of the transcript should win BHO a Great Moments in Nebulousness award:

I’m a great believer in looking forwards than looking backwards.

While I don’t think anyone will ever succeed in making George W. Bush look a genius as a public speaker, Barak Obama’s efforts in this regard are certainly worthy of respect.

April 3, 2009

Will Rossy D. set down his teacup on 15 April?

By Smitty
Ross Douthat is sniffing in a self-congratulatory way about ‘A Coming Tax Revolt’. He responds to a Jonah Goldberg tidbit saying that the death knell on tax cuts as a winning issue for Republicans may have been premature:

Speaking as one of those conservative reformers, I’d make two points. First, nobody was saying that tax cuts couldn’t potentially become politically salient again if the Republicans got clobbered repeatedly at the polls and a sizable Democratic majority enacted large tax increases. The point – which Reihan and I started making in 2005, back when the GOP’s hold on government still seemed reasonably strong – was that it would be nice to prevent that sort of thing from happening, and that an anti-tax message alone was insufficient to the task of forestalling a Republican collapse. In this regard, I don’t feel like our obituary was premature; I think it’s been largely vindicated by events.

Amidst this self congratulatory talk, what were you and Reihan peddling in ’05? (emphasis mine)

The third possibility–and the best, both for the party and the country as a whole–would be to take the “big-government conservatism” vision that George W. Bush and Karl Rove have hinted at but failed to develop, and give it coherence and sustainability. This wouldn’t mean an abandonment of small-government objectives, but it would mean recognizing that these objectives–individual initiative, social mobility, economic freedom–seem to be slipping away from many less-well-off Americans, and that serving the interests of these voters means talking about economic insecurity as well as about self-reliance. It would mean recognizing that you can’t have an “ownership society” in a nation where too many Americans owe far more than they own. It would mean matching the culture war rhetoric of family values with an economic policy that places the two-parent family–the institution best capable of providing cultural stability and economic security–at the heart of the GOP agenda.

Ross, are you one of those Conservatives Unusally Neighborly Towards Socialism? A RINO, as it were? If you have Conservative hair #1 where it matters, tell me how you interpret the 10th Amendment, and whether any of the CBO charts so conveniently hosted by Mr. Perot mean anything to you. If the citizens of a state want their government ‘serving the[ir] interests’, that may be fine. But the Freddie/Fannie nonsense cannot be seen as something the Framers would support.

Surely an Ivy League graduate must realize that getting serviced in one chamber by Barney Frank, with Chris Dodd in the other is not the kind of servicing many find acceptable. How do you refer to yourself as conservative without denouncing this kind of crap, and the federal taxation you seem to welcome, with every breath, sir?

Are you going to be at a Tea Party on the 15th? We need you to set down the tea cup and to avoid being an I-told-you-so sycophant if there is going to be any “conservative reform”.

April 3, 2009

Iowa gay ruling: Power to the elites!

The news:

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Friday finding that the state’s same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making Iowa the third state where gay marriage is legal.
In its decision, the court upheld a 2007 district court judge’s ruling that the law violates the state constitution. It strikes the language from Iowa code limiting marriage to only between a man a woman.

The court’s ruling begins, bizarrely, by praising the character of the plaintiffs:

Like most Iowans, they are responsible, caring, and productive individuals. They maintain important jobs, or are retired, and are contributing, benevolent members of their communities.

Can you say “non sequitur,” boys and girls? Whether they were drug addicts or unemployed truck drivers, this is no measure of their rights. Will update with more.

UPDATE: This goes back to something I blogged about yesterday, when Debra Dickerson wrote:

Enjoy the last few years left of discriminating against gays ‘cuz them days is almost gone. . . . Homophobia is on a short list of acceptable bigotries. But it’s fading fast.

This is the attitude of an elite that is about to impose its will on the reluctant masses. Debra Dickerson sees that her opinion — that pathological “homophobia” is the only reason why gay marriage is not legal — is shared by her fellow members of the elite, including the legal establishment. They have the power to make their opinion law, and Dickerson’s scoffing at the masses is the elite exulting in its own power: “Hahaha, you ignorant rubes can’t stop us!”

Notice how the rainbow armband accentuates their brown shirts. Splendid!

UPDATE II: More elitism from the Iowa court’s ruling:

Many leading organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Child Welfare League of America, weighed the available research and supported the conclusion that gay and lesbian parents are as effective as heterosexual parents in raising children.

Argumentum ad verecundiam — the appeal to authority, in this case the authority of “many leading organizations” in the social sciences. One of the dirty little secrets of social science is that it is possible to “prove” anything, if you’re willing to accept shoddy methodology.

We need only ask what “many leading organizations” said about homosexuality circa 1920 or 1950 to see that there is no fixed and permanent truth in social science. And again this returns us to the fallacy of “progress”: Because elite opinion has changed in recent decades, this change becomes synonymous with progress, and skeptics find themselves excluded from the argument because their opposition to “progress” represents an attack on the prestige of the elite.

UPDATE III: To judge by the Memeorandum thread, as of 11:55 a.m., only liberal bloggers are commenting on the Iowa court decision.

UPDATE IV: Allow me now to put on my “top Hayekian public intellectual” hat, and explain a bit of why my Austrian-influenced views don’t send me trotting into the camp of the left-libertarians on this issue. To be as concise as possibly, the gay marriage issue is not about liberty. It’s about equality, as Andrew Sullivan makes explicit:

As always, there is a backlash against civil equality. But the process of removing basic constitutional rights by amending the constitution to strip a specified minority of such rights is, understandably, an onerous process.

“Civil equality” — what a heavy freight Sully wishes those two little words to carry! He refers to proposals by conservatives to pass a state constitutional amendment to prevent the court from imposing its will on Iowans.

No one can plausibly argue that the authors of the Iowa state constitution, or the people who ratified that constitution, intended to make sodomy — which the same people and their representatives proscribed as a crime, in accordance with venerable Anglo-American common law tradition — a “right” of the citizen. And yet, because the state constitution also speaks of “equality,” the trick of the litigious sophists is to argue that the equality clause negates the right of the people to define marriage.

“Equality” is not a libertarian maxim, and yet many people who have wandered into the libertarian camp have brought with them this smuggled cargo of egalitarianism. The principle of liberty dos not require that we treat different things as if they were equal, or to pretend that differences do not exist.

The crusade for same-sex marriage is a consequence of a prior crusade to convince us that there are no meaningful differences between men and women. As a certain Hayekian public intellectual wrote in January:

Are men and women equal in the fullest sense of the word? If so, then equality implies fungibility — the two things are interchangeable and one may be substituted for the other in any circumstance whatsoever. (La mort à la différence!) Therefore, it is of no consequence whether I marry a woman or a man. . . .
This is why so many of those who would defend traditional marriage find themselves unable to form a coherent argument, because traditional marriage is based on the assumption that men and women are fundamentally different, and hence, unequal. Traditional marriage assumes a complementarity of the sexes that becomes absurd if you deny that “man” and “woman” define intrinsic traits, functions, roles.

Andrew Sullivan is as free to marry a woman as I am, and I am prohibited (at least by the laws of my state) from marrying a man just as Sullivan is. We are, therefore, fully equal under the law, the only difference being that he desires to be married to a man and I do not. His desire for legal endorsement of his preference is thwarted, although his civil liberty is uninfringed.

Sullivan may own property, execute contracts, serve on juries, vote, drive, own firearms, etc., the same as anyone. Yet he makes a great show of his martyrdom to homophobia, so as to elicit pity, to qualify for the victim status that is so coveted in contemporary culture. And if you call bullshit on his histrionic display, you are a bigoted homophobe (since Sully arrogates to himself the power to decide who is or is not a homophobe).

This entire way of thinking is contrary to the Anglo-American tradition that Hayek praised. Hayek understood that knowledge is diffuse, scattered widely throughout society, and that the traditions of a successful society represent the collection of useful knowledge that the society has gained through experienced. The arrogance of the elite, desirous to impose their own modernist experiments upon the society, is based on the fallacy that the elite’s modernism is more “scientific” than the traditions of the society.

This is why the elite always advocate centralization of authority, so that their projects will be universal in scope, allowing no alternatives, no diversity whereby ordinary people may evaluate by comparison to the two regimes. The Soviets wanted to abolish free societies, because the prosperity of free societies stood as a rebuke to the misery of the victims of socialism. But within the sphere of their own influence, the Bolshevik commissars insisted upon a centralized regime of universal scope: Everything was subject to the rule of the commissars, and the fact that their authority was total is where we get the word “totalitarian.”

Sully speaks the language of “civil equality,” but it has a meaning quite opposite of what such terms meant to Hayek. Sully’s “equality” is one imposed with authority of an elite, a regime that is fundamentally hostile to the rights secured by the victors at Runnymede.

Excuse me if I’ve offended any of my fellow Hayekians. There is a huge chasm between Sully’s totalitarian “must” and Hayek’s libertarian “may.” We ought not encourage Christians and other traditionalists to believe that “libertarians” would require them to endorse policies that their conscience requires them to oppose. The denizens of Castro Street and Provincetown are at liberty to do as they wish, but the friend of liberty should be skeptical of the proposition that every street must be Castro Street or that every town must be Provincetown.

UPDATE V: In the comments we hear from Professor Donald Douglas — who yesterday elaborated on my examination of nihilism in the gay rights movement — and who today congratulates me on “getting over to the social conservative side of things.”

Well, Professor, I’ve never been anywhere else, really. The crisis of the moment has required me to focus on promoting opposition to the Obamanomics agenda (IT WON’T WORK), and in that cause we’ll take every ally we can get. There are plenty of gay men and lesbians (including Cynthia and Tammy) who share my respect for sturdy economic truth, however much we disagree as to their “rights.”

Without economic freedom, there is no freedom. The captives in the gulag did not spend their time arguing about gay rights, eh? (Solzhenitsyn was a devout, conservative Christian who condemned the decadence of the West with as much vehemence as he denounced Soviet tyrrany.) Let me remind my Christian conservative friends of a passage of Revelation that gets too little scrutiny:

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Rev. 13:16-17

The infamous anti-Christ, whose name is the mystery number “666,” is exercises religious, political and economic authority. Either you worship and obey the Beast, or you will be denied even the right to buy and sell. Therefore I conceive it the duty of every faithful Christian to oppose every expansion of governmental economic power.

The Book of Revelation has often been twisted into pretzels by self-appointed prophets who claim to know the identity of the Beast. I am sufficiently modest in my theology that I would not dare claim any such knowledge. However, we have seen many times in history tyrannies that resembled this final apocalyptic tyrant: The Jacobins of revolutionary France, Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mao in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

We know how these bestial tyrannies operate, and we know that centralization of economic authority is fundamental to their power. As the passage says, the anti-Christ wields power over “small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,” and we might as well add “gay and straight,” for centralized tyranny is ironically equal in its evil. Study how Stalin sent his own henchmen to their deaths and you see that it is often more dangerous to be a supporter of evil than to be an outspoken opponent of evil. Read the Koestler quote I use as the blog motto:

“One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up.”

Now, what I believe to be the truth about gay rights may be offensive to some of those who agree with me about economics, but I would forfeit my self-respect if I didn’t write about social issues as ruthlessly as I write everything else. If you are a gay person who thinks that I “hate” or “fear” you because I disagree with you on such issues, you must ask yourself, “Who told me this? Who told me that anyone who disagrees with the gay-rights agenda is a hateful bigot? And if I see evidence to the contrary, should I trust my own experience or should I continue to trust what I have been told?”

As to Christians who endorse economic interventionism, I need merely reference the observation of Ludwig von Mises that a “Christian socialist” is . . . a socialist.

UPDATE VI: Finally, Memeorandum lists comments by NRO’s Ed Whelan (who calls the ruling “gobbledygook”) and the Weekly Standard‘s John McCormack (who calls the decision “preposterous”).

UPDATE VII: Professor Douglas now generously gives me the FMJRA. (NTTAWWT.) Isn’t it kind of ironic, BTW, that one of the most important rules of “How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog” involves this decidely non-“family values” joke?

UPDATE VIII: Dale Carpenter at Volokh Conspiracy analyzes the Iowa decision in a lawyerly context.

UPDATE IX: Tom Maguire:

C’mon – what kind of a country are we if liberals can’t launch another grand social experiment on the backs of the black community?

Meanwhile, a clever variation on the “progress” fallacy in the comments:

As someone said, gay marriage is less a moral issue than a generational one. And you’re on the wrong end of the generational divide.

All the cool kids are for same-sex marriage! This combines the “progress” fallacy with the “bandwagon” fallacy, neither of which is persuasive to sober minds. Even if the syllogism were valid (it’s not), the premise is flawed.

“A majority of voters 18-24 favor progressive Proposition X, which is opposed by a majority of voters over 50.” Ergo, the fool believes, once the old fogeys die off, the progressive views of today’s youth will prevail. Yet youth is fickle and especially subject to trendy suasion, otherwise the death of Archie Bunker and the triumph of the Woodstock Nation would mean, in 2009, we’d all be wallowing naked in the mud to the sound of Canned Heat.

Most of the Baby Boomers sobered up, got jobs, acquired kids, mortgages, minivans and paunchy bellies, and if today’s 60-year-olds are not as staunchly traditional as their parents were in 1969, they nonetheless are more traditional than they themselves were at 20. At 35, I was still a staunch Democrat; sometimes a stubborn fool remains fooled longer than others, but even a stubborn fool need not remain a fool forever.

April 3, 2009

I do owe north of 15 large on a student loan

by Smitty

I have every intention of paying it off, with interest. Actually, I’m overpaying it, and get an occasional note from the creditor saying “you do realize you’re paid ahead”, with the unstated “there is no reason to over-perform on perfectly good loan, you know”.
Now, here is this Walletpop posting about a Facebook group trying to agitate for economic stimulus through student loan forgiveness. This is great:

Founder Robert Applebaum told BusinessWeek that after graduating from law school and earning a salary too low to make payments, his student debt load has grown to $100,000. “Despite having a law degree, I’m middle class and I don’t have any money at all,”

If there’s a real feature in all this economic mess, it’s that we can get past this class warfare by amputating the cash from all wallets. Materialism is a lousy life extender, anyway.
So why should I turn down the opportunity to obtain forgiveness for the student loan debt? I don’t know, something about the moral authority of having paid my own freight remains attractive.
Once upon a time, your humble blogger veered into academia. He saw the surreal interior of the ivory leviathan. For a purely random glance into the belly of the whale, see this. One hopes that the author of “Understanding Information Systems Continuance: An Expectation-Confirmation Model” is doing well. It didn’t seem like such a party. Instead, the blogger punted and now feels that, just as living through the hangover is a component of the tequila drunk, the student loan debt piled up while flaking off on campus must also be paid.
Put another way, I don’t care if your name is Harry Angel or Johnny Favorite: when a guy named Lou Cyphre (i.e. the government) offers to hook you up, the only appropriate response is to flee.