March 28, 2016 § 57 Comments
Suppose we have four groups of moderately pluralistic ‘live and let live’ painters.
Group A thinks that it is really important to paint doors red. Otherwise they are content with beige or gray for fences, walls, and driveways. They don’t feel particularly strongly about it: in fact they don’t really give it much thought at all. Doors are the important thing. But other than doors people should be free to paint as they please. Even when people are wrong or show bad taste it is important to have restraint and demonstrate good manners. Those fundamentalists who keep screaming that all driveways should be painted yellow really ought to be a bit more tolerant: they should adopt a more ‘live and let live’ attitude like Group A.
Group B thinks that it is really important to paint driveways yellow. Otherwise they are content with beige or gray for fences, walls, and doors.
Group C thinks that it is really important to paint fences white. Otherwise they are content with beige or gray for driveways, walls, and doors.
Group D thinks that it is really important to paint walls blue. Otherwise they are content with beige or gray for fences, doors, and driveways.
They all vote on what color to paint doors, fences, walls, and driveways. Oddly, the society in which they live is all beige and gray. A few of the folks who felt especially strongly about other colors are in prison, or are at least unemployable and ostracized. They don’t really grasp what happened, because they really are sincerely live-and-let-live kinds of folk: they just start to draw some lines when it comes to important things like yellow driveways. And where did all of these social justice warriors come from, anyway?
February 26, 2016 § 9 Comments
Let me say something, as a notoriously intransigent non-voter. Nobody has more non-voter cred in the blogosphere than yours truly.
Democracy is not the core problem with our politics.
Democracy is a symptom of the core problem. The core problem is that the pervasive political philosophy of the ruling class – of really all classes of society other than a few freaks and nutcases wandering around raving in the darkness outside the padded walls – is liberalism.
Structure is at best a tertiary concern, a symptom not a pathogen. Political philosophy and structure do tend to reflect and reinforce each other (lex orandi, lex credendi). But suggesting that the fundamental problem with our politics is democracy is like saying that the fundamental problem with Islam is the Salat ritual, or that the fundamental problem with Twitter is its organizational structure.
February 5, 2016 § 11 Comments
This is just a theoretical exercise, so the specific numbers aren’t all that important: I’m just spitballing here. Basically what I am proposing is (say) a $1000 tax per voter, paid by the voter, to cover the carbon footprint of that person voting.
Suppose 100 million voters average 2 miles to get to the polls each at 20 miles per gallon. That is 10 million gallons of gas.
Polling places consume another 5 million gallons of gas or equivalent keeping facilities open, setting up and tearing down, running computer equipment, and the like.
The politicians these voters elect consume about 1 billion gallons of gas or equivalent in the process of providing for their own facilities, transportation, perks, interns, hookers, bribes, kickbacks, drugs, and alcohol.
Elected politicians also consume the equivalent of about 1 trillion gallons of gas in the process of providing goodies back to the voters, who elected them in order to receive those goodies.
Again I am just spitballing here, but I think is it pretty easy to see how a $1000+ carbon tax on everyone who votes could be straightforwardly justified.
February 4, 2016 § 37 Comments
Lying about one’s commitments also objectively disqualifies a candidate for public office.
All candidates for notable public office in the United States are either genuinely committed to liberal principles or must lie about being committed to liberal principles in order to be electable.
Therefore, no electable candidates for notable public office in the Unites States are objectively qualified.
February 4, 2016 § 33 Comments
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy famously wrote, in his opinion on Planned Parenthood vs Casey:
At the heart of [political] liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
This statement is correct.
I have explained in many different ways how and why liberalism simultaneously
- Is rationally incoherent, and therefore logically implies everything and its opposite all at once; but in a way which is not immediately transparent.
- Affirms individuals in their expectations and exalts what individuals happen to desire or will over reality: cafeteria realism.
One of the interesting functions of the Supreme Court in the American political system is that it gives conservatives a strange attractor for hope and blame: a political sink to absorb their resentments, hopes, and fears while stopping short of repudiating liberalism. Authentic political freedom and republican democracy would work if only those tyrants in the Supreme Court would stop legislating from the bench. Certainly (goes the argument) it is unfair to blame democracy and liberalism – authentic classical liberalism – for the tyrannies of the Court.
The Supreme Court keeps everyone on the reservation by playing the roles of referee and tyrant. Part of the problem with populism is that sometimes people decide that liberalism isn’t what they really want: subsidiary authorities and electoral majorities will sometimes violate liberal principles if someone doesn’t keep the electorate and subordinate government bodies in line. So social conservatives end up simultaneously excoriating the Court and hoping to gain control of it, so that their truly authentic vision of freedom and equal rights can be achieved.
Meanwhile, even when the judges are appointed by conservatives – Anthony Kennedy was appointed by Ronald Reagan – those judges inevitably find (shocking, I know) that liberal principles imply substantively liberal outcomes for disputes in law.
When Kurt Gödel was applying for US citizenship he almost got his citizenship denied, because he would argue that theoretically the US could vote itself in a king or strongman dictator. His friend Albert Einstein calmed him down and reassured him that this theoretical possibility was not really a practical possibility: whatever the formal structures may theoretically allow, the United States was incorrigibly committed to freedom and equality as bedrock political principles.
I’ll just suggest that conservatives who think that liberal democracy could work out great, if only it weren’t for the tyrannical Supreme Court, are no Einsteins.
February 2, 2016 § 14 Comments
But I will just gently suggest that if the siren song of Donald Trump, of all people, is capable of luring some ‘principled’ non-voters out into the liberal version of bowing toward Mecca, that those particular non-voters probably aren’t really what I would call principled.
That’s no surprise, I guess, because in the land of lies every day is opposite day.
February 1, 2016 § 83 Comments
As a notorious and outspoken non-voter, I definitely plan to not vote for Donald Trump. I have to say that I really, really appreciate what he is doing for American politics.
Once we grant the premise of American politics – that government should represent the people of the United States, should be the political incarnation of the current American zeitgeist – well, I am hard pressed to think of a viable candidate who comes even close to representing the American people in 2016 as well as the Trump. Who could possibly be more appropriate than a crass billionaire reality TV star, a hotel and gambling magnate with a new blonde on his arm every time we see him? His defining political position, his unprincipled exception designed for mass appeal, is just that he will keep America from getting dissolved by the dilutive power of mass immigration, making sure that America stays American by rejecting the ideology of white people. All hail the Donald, archetypical representative of our greatest aspirations!
Folks who think he can’t win are, I think, stuck in the past and do not understand the society in which we live. I don’t predict a win, mind you, but the notion that the Trump cannot win is just ridiculous. Modern effeminate Americans love to look up to a bad boy showman. Even if he slaps them around a bit and cheats on them we know they’ll still end up back with him. He’ll smile at them and say something that makes them all hot and bothered, and then they are his.
Establishment Republicans are so cute, the way they take the political process seriously (for values of ‘seriously’) — unlike the vast majority of voters, who do not have the intellectual resources or the inclination to take it seriously in the same way. For the great majority of people voting is just a signal of allegiance, a doffing of the cap, an expression of emotion, an outlet for frustration. The stereotype of the thoughtful voter on either the left or the right is one of those quaint things that certain people believe despite their lying eyes.
Another thing I appreciate about Trump is that he has introduced us to a new phase in the Hegelian Mambo. All the usual suspects will perceive this new step as the arrival — finally! – of the revolution we’ve really been waiting for! Pay no attention to what gets dropped on the floor as the dance proceeds.
The last few decades of American politics have involved a dialectic between nominally Christian liberals and anti-Christian liberals. In this new phase we can leave Christianity behind entirely, even that pesky nominal Christianity. This new phase ushered in by the Great Salesman with Fantastic Hair and Lots of Money will be one of nationalist liberalism versus globalist liberalism. Just watch that dowdy old religion disappear without a whimper!
And this could be a good thing for at least some, perhaps some small number, of even modestly serious Christians who have been stuck up until now, lured by the siren song of supposed personal relevance into lighting a pinch of incense. Though I suppose if decades of abortion rope-a-dope with the Republican party hasn’t cut the cord yet it must be a pretty thick cord.
November 3, 2015 § 16 Comments
Ah, election day, that grand American tradition.
The day the air is filled with the smell of incense burning to Caesar, as Americans stream out to the high schools and fire stations to make their personal, concrete, ritual acts of endorsement of our liberal ruling class and their governing philosophy.
November 26, 2012 § 5 Comments
Calumny is when someone tells falsehoods about a person in a way damaging to that person’s reputation or standing in the community. In the case of the Todd Akin affair, many people have told lies about what he actually said. I’ve said my piece about that here, here, here, and here; but one thing I haven’t done is explicitly give examples of the lies.
There are far too many to document, in truth, and in any case I’m not interested in making accusations against particular individuals. But to the extent that my thesis has been resisted it has mainly been by those who object by characterizing lies as not lies: by claiming some right to uncharitable interpretation, such that one may licitly assert that Akin said something when he actually didn’t say it, contributing to the pile-on damage to his reputation in the process, without committing calumny.
It has also been suggested that if a lot of the lies told about what Todd Akin said really are lies then a significant amount of political speech and blogging is immoral. With this latter I agree. I’ve suggested before that things like voting and blogging provide plenty of vicarious opportunities to do evil; and where there are pervasive opportunities for fallen human beings to do evil we usually see lots of fallen human beings doing evil.
Notice what I am not addressing here: I am not addressing Todd Akin as a candidate, politician, pro-life leader, or human being. I am addressing specifically and only what he actually said in his widely disseminated comments about rape and abortion. It is not acceptable to tell lies about what he actually said just because we object to other things about him. To take it all the way to the Godwin asymptote, it is not morally acceptable to lie about Hitler: lying about Hitler in a way which damages Hitler’s reputation is still calumny, and we shouldn’t do it.
Notice also that I am not accusing people who think his actual remarks were untoward or insensitive or whatever of asserting falsehoods. What I am addressing specifically is claims that Akin said X, when in actual fact he did not say X and may have even said the opposite of X. Lying about what someone said in a way that piles on damage to his reputation doesn’t become morally acceptable under some postmodern subjectivist rubric of “interpretation”. Either he said it or he didn’t; and if we claim he said it when he didn’t actually say it, we are liars.
Finally, I am not addressing someone’s intentions or culpability in committing calumny against Akin. I am addressing the behaviour such a person chooses. Someone who commits calumny against Akin may have all sorts of conflicting feelings, rationalizations, or what have you. I don’t care about those things. Someone might even have done so while making a completely non-culpable error in judgement. Again, I don’t care: it is never acceptable to equate evil done, even through a non-culpable error in judgement, with a good act. An evil act is a disorder in relation to the truth about the good, and a calumny against Akin is a calumny against Akin no matter what subjective protestations are raised. What people have actually said matters and cannot be swallowed up in the moral disinfectant of subjectivity. Someone who has committed calumny against Akin should retract it, in at least as public a way as it was initially done, and even if doing so was based on a non-culpable error in judgement (trusting some media paraphrase or seeing only some truncated quote that leaves the impression that he said something different come to mind as possible conditions for such a non-culpable error).
I’ve personally only seen one single person retract and apologize, and good for him. That’s the kind of guy I want in the moral foxhole with me.
So without further ado, here are just a few examples of how ostensible pro lifers have falsely characterized Akin’s words. Maybe I’ll add some more over time; maybe not. I am not going to link or attribute them, because the point is not to call out particular individuals. The point is for people of good will to wake the Hell up to what they are doing and stop doing it:
Akin’s deplorable comments were a psychic re-rape.
… when [the victim is] basically being blamed for being raped, …
… implies she should just get over [rape] or not let it bother her …
So there’s nothing offensive about [Akin’s] notion that pregnancy is proof the rape victim Really Musta Wanted It?
The implied conclusion that a woman seeking to abort a pregnancy resulting from rape may be assumed to be lying…
Akin demonstrated he believed one of the following:
1. Pregnancy from rape is impossible. This would reveal scientific ignorance, and, in my view, be disqualifying.
2. Pregnancy from rape is too rare to require being addressed specifically.
[Notice how this one is set up too. The first is ludicrous and bears no resemblance to what Akin actually said, but it poisons the well to set up the second falsehood to look like it is a reasonable “interpretation” of Akin’s words. In fact Akin not only didn’t say the second, he actually specifically addressed pregnancy in the case of legitimate rape in the very comments under “criticism”.]
November 17, 2012 § 22 Comments
One of the peculiar features of modern society is the extent to which manifestly obvious facts hide in plain sight. Something can be so obviously true that it hits us over the head relentlessly, day in and day out, year in and year out; and yet when we state it out loud we get some combination of outrage and impossible-to-satisfy demands for “proof”. This isn’t a totally new phenomenon, of course: The Emperor’s New Clothes was written in 1837. But political correctness is pervasive in modern society, to the extent that even most pretenses to political incorrectness are just political correctness repackaged.
So it is with the connection between female suffrage and abortion law.
There are really just three basic questions here:
- Does women’s suffrage in itself – that is, the actual voting patterns of women – affect abortion law?
- Does the pervasive view that female suffrage is a matter of basic justice, as opposed to a prudential choice about governance over which reasonable people may disagree, affect abortion law (through everyone’s voting patterns, through judicial and regulatory decisions, and through literally millions of other everyday actions and considerations)?
- If these things do affect abortion law, in what direction do they affect it?
The answers to these questions are obvious; and yet every fibre of the modern being resists acknowledging them. (That in itself, ironically, provides additional evidence of the effects that attitudes about womens’ suffrage are having on our culture and our polity).
The first question, even though it is ultimately the least relevant of the three, is the easiest one to answer in the affirmative: yes, the actual voting patterns of women most certainly have an impact on abortion law. I’ve already made the point that it is women’s actual voting patterns specifically which make it nearly impossible for a pro-life politician to be elected without embracing exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.
I would submit that the answers to all three questions are blindingly obvious.