28 May 2009

Can Sotomayor be borked?

As the in-fighting among Republicans continues, the moderates think conservatives should capitulate and permit the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor without a fight. This, because it will harm the party to be seen objecting to the appointment of a hispanic woman to the Supreme Court.

Conservatives seem to think she should be borked for these offending remarks (among others):



H/T: Althouse

Much more informative, however, is the fuller clip:



A lot has been made of the fact that she says courts of appeals are where policy is made. There is really a much, much more important, much more revelatory comment here. It is the part (about 1:25 minutes in) where she outlines the role of the court of appeals in determining the next step in the development of the law. In other words, we are talking legal trendline analysis, probably not too different, as a conception, of Justice Holmes' notion that law is simply a prediction of what courts will decide. I'm going to post on the subject of historical trends, in the near future. (In fact, I've been working on that post for over a week now.) But for now let us note that the whole business of Obama's desire for justices with empathy and the importance -- to some -- that she is both hispanic and female is not quite as important as this statement of the nature of jurisprudence. At the court of appeals, the law is not being applied; it's "percolating". At that level of adjudication, the law has no being (if you will); the law is becoming. Indeed, it is always becoming. The question is, as Sotomayor says, what is the law becoming.

It is important to understand this, because, as Ann Alhouse says, conservatives should use this time to teach conservative interpretive principles, which means setting forth clearly what liberal interpretive principles are:

Here's what I think conservatives should do: Accept that she will be confirmed, but use the occasion to sharpen the definition of conservative judicial values and to argue to the American people that these are the better values. ~ Here, emphasis mine.
In a subsequent posting, responding to something Rush Limbaugh said on his show, she says:

If confirmation is about agreeing with the ideology, then Republicans might want to vote against Sotomayor. But confirmation should not be about ideology, and conservatives ought to want to prove that principle by their votes. Use the confirmation hearings to delineate what liberal judicial ideology is and why people ought to reject it. Then get a good presidential candidate for 2012 and make Supreme Court nominations an issue. Is that too hard? Does that take too long? Too bad! You say you want a Justice who will tell the truth about what the Constitution means. But here's something about what the Constitution means: The President has the appointment power.
It will be difficult for conservatives to follow Althouse's advice (which they should do) without understanding the crucial conception of historical trends. It might also help if conservatives better understood the difference in conceptions of rights (and therefore of justice) between left and right. They both use the words "rights" and "justice"; but they really do not mean the same thing by these words. And that's why I really can't fully agree with Althouse that confirmation should not be about ideology. (She'd be so disappointed to know that, I'm sure.)

Speaking of Limbaugh, and, more importantly, of conceptions of "rights", he has a transcript of 2001 radio interview in which Obama, discussing redistribution of wealth and how the Supreme Court's never gotten into it, complains of the Constitution's "negative" liberties.

OBAMA: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I'd be okay. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

[...]

As radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution at least as its been interpreted and the Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted, and one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.
Most conservatives, Limbaugh among them, will likely focus on His Beatitude's talk of "redistributive change". But that is really not the most important thing; it's not the element needing attention. What needs attention is the notion of "positive" rights, because there is little point in arguing for "redistributive change" unless one first presupposes that there are "positive" rights.

Also important is Obama's clear indication, in 2001, that he had no interest in presiding over the government created by the Constitution -- the government created by the States. Note his assertion that "the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, [which] says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but...doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf." That's true, because the Constitution didn't create a government which had duties to do anything, or at least much of anything, on our behalf. He wanted, and wants, a government other than the one created by the Constitution he affirmed to protect and defend. The nomination of Sotomayor is less about her being a woman, even less about her being hispanic, than it is about His Beatitude's desire to preside over a government with a constitution which protects "positive" rights.

But her being a woman, and her being hispanic, is useful. It is useful because in objecting to her appointment on ideological grounds it will still also be true that Republicans, though not technically, object to the appointment of a hispanic woman to the Supreme Court. It just won't be true that they object to her appointment because she's a hispanic woman. Despite the Democrats' borking, on ideological grounds, of Miguel Estrada.

Dems bork. Republicans capitulate. What a joke.

Can she be successfully borked? No. Republicans, especially the conservative kind, just are not as good at it as Democrats; and they shouldn't try to be, either. They should press her -- hard -- on those ideological matters. She should be grilled on the task of the appellate judge, anticipating the next step in the development of the (judge-made) law. She should be asked questions the answers to which will elucidate the nature of "positive" rights, especially that fact that "positive" rights mean involuntary servitude. She should be asked a lot of questions, questions about the law and its application, jurisprudential questions. But I hope we don't have any of that "In-Sonia-Sotomayor's-America" crap that Ted "Splash" Kennedy dumped on Judge Bork. Please, ye gods and goddesses, not that. (Well, not on the floor of the Senate anyway.)
21 May 2009

Don't applaud California just yet

Well, you can applaud the voters, but in the end they will be ignored.

So, California voters have said "No" to new taxes. (According to the LA Times, this vote was an improper exercise of voter power.) On hearing the news yesterday morning, I was tempted to celebrate. I was listening to two bankers who have a brief (ten minutes) radio show talk about the California vote. One of the two is from California and called it a fiscally conservative, though socially liberal, state.

Is it a fiscally conservative state? I don't know. Whether it is, it is definitely a bankrupt state. And the vote may have more to do with that, than with any fiscal conservatism. One supposes that even a liberal knows when he's run out of money -- even other people's money.

The idea of bankruptcy should give us a clue. While they may be out of money, I doubt a sufficient number of Californians want to give up all those government programs supported by those taxes. Heck they've just about asked for them. And what do we now do when it comes to bankruptcy? Ask someone for a bailout, of course.

California will no doubt be bailed out by states that are not bankrupt. Actually, it will be a bail-out of California unions, like the auto company bail-outs were. That's how His Beatitude will become, in addition to Government Motors, Governor of California.
19 May 2009

It's only the latest unfederal regulatory whip

In the bad old days of private slavery, the overseers used whips to keep those slaves in line. Now in the good old days of public slavery the overseer uses fiat regulation to keep us in line. In the bad old days, if the overseer had wanted a slave to drive less, he'd give the slave a whippin'. Now, when they want us to drive less they give us a regulation.

There is a bit of common ground. In both cases, the overseers know it's all for the slaves' own good. After all, no one (no one in his right mind) can object to a clean energy economy, or saving the planet, or whatever they think is best for us all.

Yes, it will be good for us. Of course it will. Never mind that immigrants -- legal and otherwise -- seem not to share that conviction:

[E]conomic opportunities are universal. If you feel them and sense them, so do others outside the border — and they want to be part of it. If they don't feel them and sense them, maybe it is time to wake up and realize that they don't exist as they used to.

Time was when shelters just across the border, where people lived until they saw an opportunity for safe passage, were filled and overflowing. Now they are empty. Time was when the border-patrol vans and buses hauled people here and there, whereas now they just drive around on day trips, looking for some sign of life.

To have an "immigration problem" is enormously flattering for a country. For that problem to go away is a dark cloud, a bad omen, a sign that something is going terribly wrong. The absence of an immigration problem can quickly turn into an emigration problem.

[...]

Emigration out of the United States has been growing every year since 1991, from 252,000 in 1991 to 311,000 in 2005. I couldn't find data past that point, but can there be any doubt where we are heading with this? Low-skilled employees want nothing to do with us. High-skilled employees are not allowed in. Enterprise is being killed at every turn. It won't be long now before larger and larger numbers of people vote with their feet.

A final insult is how US tax law treats its emigrants from this country. It continues to tax them as if they were lifetime slaves. Wherever you go, the force is with you.

The heck of it is that all of this could be turned around today. A social consensus against tyranny can form and strengthen. It only takes political will to let freedom reign. ~ Lew Rockwell, here.

I wonder if that "jmwtex" guy (whom I mentioned just below) would favor abolishing the expatriation tax law on the grounds that it, like a woman being forced to carry a baby to term, is a form of slavery? I'll have to ask him.

18 May 2009

Slavery is Freedom

There are some comments on His Beatitude's Notre Dame speech, posted here.

To His Beatitude's certainty that there is some common ground shared by "pro-life" and "pro-choice" position, one "Lou Dignazio" offers this retort:

The trouble with slavery was the idea that Blacks were not "human".
The trouble with abortion is the idea that an unborn baby is not "human"

There is no common ground here...

Slavery is wrong, killing an unborn baby is wrong. The arguments for their acceptance all come from selfish interests. (Here.)
To which a "jmwtex" responds:

Sorry, wrong there. There are seriously valid arguements that unborn babies are not humans. Slaves could breath on their own and survive without a surrogate. Unborn babies do not. Slaves are one single, self sustaining life, unborn babies are not. Slaves do not require the giving of part of another's life to keep them alive.

I do grant that abortion many times is selfish. But there are lots of things in this world that are selfish. The law does not require us to be good and not be selfish. This is the only area were we are arguing that people should not be selfish and make it illegal to be selfish. (Here.)
One "PrincipalDad" also retorts to Gidnazio:

Telling a woman that she is not allowed control of her own body and must carry a baby to term (even if that may kiII her or that pregnancy was not her choice) is a form of slavery. (Here .)
You see a common theme here: slavery, being made to do something against your will.

Bear that in mind as you ponder own of the most amusing of the comments coming from "amiri", here:

One good result of the Obama appearing at the 2009 graduating class of Notre Dame's commencement ceremony protest was the President's opportunity to share his beliefs on the need for us all to assist in ensuring a better quality of life for all Americans from the embryo to the grave.

He so eloquently brings out the hypocrisy of the overemphasis of protecting life in its gestation phase but the failure of society to sustain a protective involvement in every phase of each others lives.

If we could sustain that fervent devotion of ensuring the survival of the seed of life throught all phases of life we would create a just society founded on the value of true brotherly love. Help you neighbor from the infancy of your relationship until it is time for him to lay down his head. Love is sustainable if we allow it to be.
We must all "assist in ensuring a better quality of life for all Americans from the embryo to the grave." We must all help our neighbor from infancy "until it is time for him to lay down his head." Let us note that we shall be made to do this whether we want to or not. We shall also be made to create a "just society" whether we want one or not (or, at the very least, whether we want someone else's conception of a "just" society). That strikes me as very like a woman being made to carry a baby to term whether she wants to or not, which, as "PrincipalDad" informs us, is a form of slavery.

"jmwtex" is actually wrong. It must be illegal to be selfish. That must be why the government takes one's money from him and gives it to another. What was it he said about giving part of another's life to keep someone alive?

My favorite of all comments was this one by "Annieke":

What surprises me in this debate is the fact that the people that are pro-life, are also pro-gun and pro-death penalty. (Here .)
In case you don't know: When the question is, Where do you stand on the abortion issue? "pro-life" means you oppose abortion. It means one has chosen to side with the life in the womb, nothing more. "Pro-life" is the position on abortion, not the reason for the position.

After all, I note that many people who are supposedly "pro-choice" are actually anti-choice. They oppose school vouchers, which would give the poor a real choice about the education of their children. They oppose letting business owners choose whether to permit smoking in their establishments. They oppose letting broadcast station owners decide how much or little conservative and/or liberal content there shall be. They oppose letting gun owners choose whether to own assault weapons. They oppose letting the people paying the wages decide how much to pay in wages. They oppose letting the people who pay the bonuses decide how much to pay in bonuses. They oppose letting people choose for themselves how much of their income they distribute to others, and who, precisely, those others will be.

You know, when it comes to things other than abortion, they're not very "pro-choice". They are "pro-choice" only when they do not care about the choices others may make.

And, of course, they can't be, because, like "pro-life", "pro-choice" isn't a position on everything. It's a position on the abortion question.
17 May 2009

So also to your wife -- Wisdom Sunday

"Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the Church: being Himself the Savior of the body. But as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything." ~ Ephesians 5.22-24.

It is a well known fact that the Scriptures teach submission of wives to husbands, an overwhelming number of husbands seem to know it; and it seems to be their favorite teaching. Women, especially after the rise of feminism, don't like it very well. That's understandable, especially since "submission" is also used to describe the master-servant relationship.

But context is everything when it comes to the meaning of words. As James Barr taught, the basic unit of meaning is not the word, but the sentence. But I digress.

St. John Chrysostom, preaching on this passage, says to husbands:

Wouldest thou have thy wife obedient unto thee, as the Church is to Christ? Take then thyself the same provident care for her, as Christ takes for the Church. Yea, even if it shall be needful for thee to give thy life for her, yea, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yea, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever,—refuse it not. Though thou shouldest undergo all this, yet wilt thou not, no, not even then, have done anything like Christ. For thou indeed art doing it for one to whom thou art already knit; but He for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way then as He laid at His feet her who turned her back on Him, who hated, and spurned, and disdained Him, not by menaces, nor by violence, nor by terror, nor by anything else of the kind, but by his unwearied affection; so also do thou behave thyself toward thy wife. Yea, though thou see her looking down upon thee, and disdaining, and scorning thee, yet by thy great thoughtfulness for her, by affection, by kindness, thou wilt be able to lay her at thy feet. For there is nothing more powerful to sway than these bonds, and especially for husband and wife. A servant, indeed, one will be able, perhaps, to bind down by fear; nay not even him, for he will soon start away and be gone. But the partner of one’s life, the mother of one’s children, the foundation of one’s every joy, one ought never to chain down by fear and menaces, but with love and good temper. For what sort of union is that, where the wife trembles at her husband? And what sort of pleasure will the husband himself enjoy, if he dwells with his wife as with a slave, and not as with a free-woman? Yea, though thou shouldest suffer anything on her account, do not upbraid her; for neither did Christ do this.

[...]

So then she was unclean! So then she had blemishes, so then she was unsightly, so then she was worthless! Whatsoever kind of wife thou shalt take, yet shalt thou never take such a bride as the Church, when Christ took her, nor one so far removed from thee as the Church was from Christ. And yet for all that, He did not abhor her, nor loathe her for her surpassing deformity. Wouldest thou hear her deformity described? Hear what Paul saith, “For ye were once darkness.” [Eph. v. 8.] Didst thou see the blackness of her hue? What blacker than darkness? But look again at her boldness, “living,” saith he, “in malice and envy.” [Tit. iii. 3.] Look again at her impurity; “disobedient, foolish.” But what am I saying? She was both foolish, and of an evil tongue; and yet notwithstanding, though so many were her blemishes, yet did He give Himself up for her in her deformity, as for one in the bloom of youth, as for one dearly be loved, as for one of wonderful beauty. And it was in admiration of this that Paul said, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die [Rom. v. 7.]; and again, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Rom. v. 8.] And though such as this, He took her, He arrayed her in beauty, and washed her, and refused not even this, to give Himself for her. (Emphasis mine.)~ On The Epistle to the Ephesians, Homily 20.
A man may swagger around, treating his wife as if it is her role in life to serve his needs, sexual and otherwise. And he may behave as if he has done her a favor by marrying her. (As if!) But he's going to be judged by how well his love for her compares with Christ's love for His church.

As Mr T. used to say, I pity the fool.
15 May 2009

The Case Against Carrie Prejean

There are two elements of the Carrie Prejean matter that I found fascinating, from an ethical perspective. First, because she said she believed, on biblical grounds, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, she has received attention because of some photos taken while modeling. It is fascinating because her position is based on an explicit prohibition in Scripture. She is vilified, on the other hand, in the absence -- arguably -- of an explicit prohibition. (There is some debate about what the Bible's requirements for modesty really entail, not so much about the prohibition of same sex relations.) In other words, the Scripture explicitly states that a man shall not lie with another man as he might do with a woman, which, at the very least, is a prohibition of homosexual pair-bonding, or, at most, a prohibition of any and all sexual encounters between members of the same sex. Her position is based upon that explicit prohibition.

It is amusing to note that the controversy about the photos proceeds upon the notion that, in saying that she believes, on biblical grounds, that marriage is to be between a man and a woman, she was also saying that she, Carrie Prejean is a paragon of Christian virtue, or, as they put it at TMZ, "biblically correct." This is the behavior of people who have no arguments for their positions, as if gay marriage really is okay because someone who says it isn't is, arguably, guilty of some moral turpitude in some area of his life. In other words, if you're not morally perfect then you have no business making any assertions regarding moral issues, even if you are asked. Given this, I wonder if Perez Hilton perfectly obeys traffic laws. If he doesn't I wonder if he would assert that stealing is wrong. I mean, if perfect obedience is the qualification for making assertions about correct behavior then I hope, if he has any beliefs about correct behavior -- and we know he does (for example: don't say you disagree with same-sex marriage) -- that he perfectly obeys the law. Otherwise, he wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on if he were ever robbed.

For all that, however, there may be something to their ire. Look at the reasoning she employs in defending the photos:

"I am a Christian, and I am a model.... Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos." ~ Here.
There you have it. Her appearing in the photos is justified by her job description. The job description of a model includes posing for lingerie and swimwear photos. I am a model. Therefore I pose for lingerie and swimwear photos. (Models also pose for topless and nude photos, but never mind that just now.)

It's ethical because in my profession it's an accepted practice. Carrie Prejean is not the only Christian who reasons through ethical issues in this slip-shod, fast food fashion. I suspect many of her critics are angry with her not just because of her stance on same-sex marriage but because of her elementary school level justifications for the photos. They probably think a job description is not the place to go to answer questions about whether certain elements of your work are ethical.

Look at it from their perspective. When it comes to the ethics of same-sex marriage, she relies upon the Bible. Fine. But then when it comes to the ethics of certain photos for which she posed, she relies upon her job description. Gee, I wonder why they're upset.

I suspect her critics also, speaking of the Bible to which she alluded in her reply, understand that the Bible calls Christians to eschew sensuality. And I think they understand all too well the amount of sensuality involved in beauty pageants, lingerie and swim-wear.

Self-examination and ethical thinking is hard for some Christians. They've been fighting the culture war for so long that, while they are well practiced at comparing the culture to the Scriptures, they don't have much experience comparing themselves to it with the same microscopic attention to detail. And if we slow down and really think it through, perhaps we can see that, while not entirely correct, Carrie Prejean's critics do have something of a case against her. Yes, she is a bit of a hypocrite; but that's not all. When confronted with questionable photos she shrugs her shoulders and says, "I never claimed to be perfect".

Great. She's not perfect. But she still gets to do her job. Gays still don't get to marry. She seems, to her critics anyway, to be more bothered by the imperfections of gays -- and gay marriage -- than by her own imperfections. I'm sure they believe that she can spell out, with great eloquence, the harms to society created by gays and their marriages, but not as eloquently on the harms to society of her own, surely less important imperfections. No, she doesn't want to redefine marriage. But, one could argue, her profession, among others, has been in the business of redefining several other things (like modesty) for the last several decades.

Not that I really care, but I am glad she gets to keep her crown.
13 May 2009

Released Documents can be a study in contrasts

I'm not on the His-Beatitude-is-not-a-natural-born-American bandwagon, but it is interesting to note something about his response to "quo warranto" requests that he prove his citizenship and, thus, his fitness for office.

While he will release "torture" memos, and contemplate releasing "torture" photos, he won't take the simple measure of releasing his birth certificate:

As Jerome Corsi, WND senior staff writer, explained, "The main reason doubts persist regarding Obama's birth certificate is this question: If an original Hawaii-doctor-generated and Hawaii-hospital-released Obama birth certificate exists, why wouldn't the senator and his campaign simply order the document released and end the controversy.

"That Obama has not ordered Hawaii officials to release the document," Corsi writes, "leaves doubts as to whether an authentic Hawaii birth certificate exists for Obama." (Here.)

I wonder why.

H/T: Seaspook

I wonder if any of these people voted

Ten thousand dead people have received stimulus checks.

I bet a lot of them voted, too.
12 May 2009

Obama's Economic Plan Will Cost Nothing, Really

There is a way of looking at the Messiah's economic plan, which should allay all our fears about the costs. It is an explicitly Marxist way of looking at it: Money isn't real.

That's what someone should tell Rush Limbaugh. Maybe then, he'll stop worrying about the $1.8 trillion budget deficit and the $9 trillion dollar national debt. As the saying goes, "Freedom isn't free." And the best kind of freedom -- freedom from necessity and fear -- is going to cost a lot.

[T]he realm of freedom...begins only where labour which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases.... Freedom...can only consist in socialised man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achieving this...under conditions most favourable to... their human nature. But it nonetheless still remains a realm of necessity. Beyond [the realm of necessity] begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom.... ~ Karl Marx, Capital, vol. III (emphases mine).
In the furor over His Beatitude's stimulus organ, many of the complaints have stemmed not merely from the unconstitutional nature of many of the measures (e.g., government virtual take-over of banks, actual take-over of car companies, incremental dismantling of Wall Street, sending lynch mobs to executives' homes) but from the increase in the national debt, as well as the deficit spending entailed. The cost will, they assert, be staggering.

Actually it isn't going to cost anything. Nothing at all. You see, the reason stuff costs anything at all is because the parasitic exploiters among us attach a price to their wares. And, in fact, this price is exploitative precisely because it is higher than the cost of production. When His Beatitude and his genuflecting courtiers have finished redesigning the economy, exploitation, costs and prices will be things of the past.

When you have a right to what you need, you should receive what you require at no cost. Some object because this means that others will bear the costs. But one day this will not be the case: nothing to which we have a right should have any cost at all. Price, a blind force of nature to which we must no longer be enslaved, will be abolished. Besides, money is a legal fiction anyway. And even if it isn't, gold and silver certainly are not monies, any more than the means of production transformed into capital is really capital (see Capital, Ch. 48, I, here). Capital isn't a thing; it's a relation. And money isn't a thing either. In reality, then, none of this is really going to cost anyone anything! Complaints about the costs of all this are part of the economy which His Beatitude is redesigning for us, an economy which "does no more than interpret, systematise and defend in doctrinaire fashion the conceptions of the agents of bourgeois production who are entrapped in bourgeois production relations" (Capital, Ch. 48, III). When he, has finished his great labors there will be no costs associated with anything, and, therefore, no deficit and no national debt.

Pardon me while I break spontaneously into doxology:

O, happy day, happy day.
He'll wash our debts away.
O, happy day, happy day.
We'll never be in need.
Forever we'll be free.


Ah. I feel so much better.

More important than the costs associated with His Beatitude's organ, however, is the assault on freedom which some of believe is entailed. The actual fact of the matter is this (and it makes sense when you understand the leftists' conception of rights). The left simply have a completely different view of freedom. This explains why right and left often sound like they are talking past each other. It also explains how leftists, with their speech codes and all, can assert their love of freedom with a straight face. Ultimately the left's conception of freedom is a whole lot like Marx's conception, oddly enough.

The most important freedoms must be from want and fear. It entails man's control over his environment and so controlling it -- centrally, of course -- that man shall have every need supplied with the least amount of labor. Labor will continue, of course, but for reasons other than bleeding and sweating for the basic necessities of life; and it shall also be distributed equally to all. We'll be living like they do in Star Trek, where things cost "credits" not "dollars" -- to the extent that anything has a cost in that silly universe.

You see, right now, the work involved in living is performed by the many. The many are poor. Those who do the least labor are the few, the wealthy. You see the unfairness. The many work the most, and have the least. The few work the least (if you can even call it work), and have the most.

To experience true freedom, man must be free from having his work determined for him by "necessity and mundane considerations." This includes even those necessities and "mundane considerations" caused by recessions, which have to be done away as well, by doing away with the boom in the first place, which, as Timothy Geithner told Charlie Rose on 6 May (from about 21:25 to 25:00, specifically at 24:02) is what the Obama administration is trying to do. No other freedom really matters. And the desire for such freedoms is really, when you think about it from the Marxist perspective, a desire to commit crimes against humanity.

So, one simply has to disagree with Michael Maiello's argument that Obama is simply an oligarch, not a socialist. It's not as if the two are mutually exclusive. Better informed is Zac Bissonette, who argues that Obama is a Russian-style oligarch. That's a little more like it.

I think Maiello doesn't understand how socialism works during that period of time before it is fully realized. If he did, he'd know why I still favor the Obama-as-socialist thesis. In the long run -- which is the more relevant perspective, when dealing with socialists -- I think it true that he is a socialist, regardless who benefits immediately from his largesse. But these "benefits" will only continue while money is treated as if it is something real, which it isn't. (I could be wrong. Maiello may understand. But, at this point, I'm disinclined to believe he does.)

Actually, since the choice is not really between Obama the Oligarch and Obama the Socialist, I'm still inclined to stay with my assertion that, like his predecessor, he is a Keynesian.

Note: I think the Charlie Rose interview with Timothy Geithner makes clearer than almost anything else could, that one of the other purposes of His Beatitude's policies is to increase confidence not to the market (as if!), but to increase confidence in government. Moreover, it will be interesting to watch them prevent the next boom. After all, how do they know where in the market it will take place? Clearly, they don't. Not only that, they can't tell the difference between a legitimate boom, led by entrepreneurs in response to real, unmolested interest rates (and less devastating than the typical, artificial booms created by money supply inflateion and credit expansion) and fed-created, artificial booms. I guess Geithner means they want to prevent the next fed-created boom. Yeah. Right.
06 May 2009

One man's justice is another man's torture

Hip-hop is not torture, but that's something completely different.

John Demjanjuk is supposed to be extradited to Germany. He objects to the extradition on the grounds that he is going to be tortured. German authorities say no, he's not going to be tortured.

Now, the "torture" in this case is, according to Demjanjuk, the simple act of being transported to Germany at all, because his health is so bad, including pre-leukemia, kidney problems, spinal problems and gout (see here and here).

One can only believe that, for some people, justice sometimes requires a little torture:

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center found irony in Broadley's argument for his client.

"He wants to plead the sense of fairness that he regularly denied all of the victims at Sobibor," Hier said.

He called Demjanjuk's comparison of his planned deportation to torture "preposterous coming from a person that served the S.S. in a death camp. It is a preposterous argument and insulting to the survivors of the Holocaust."

Hier said that 250,000 Jews were killed at the camp and that none of the guards who worked there was blameless.

"You were there for one job: kill the Jews," he said. "And that's what they did full-time."

He called the evidence against Demjanjuk "overwhelming" (here).

Demjanjuk says it's torture. Hier says it isn't. Golly gee, Wally. What should we do?

Oh! I know! Let's ask His Beatitude -- may he live forever. He'll tell us what torture is.

Torture should be legal, safe, but rare

Miguel Guanipa, here, describes "a federally sanctioned procedure that is performed on a daily basis in one of the most vibrant democracies on earth, and which has been in place for almost forty years." The procedure he describes is, in fact, part of the required curriculum at medical schools and executed by highly skilled, and highly compensated, professionals. It is also executed solely upon human beings who have committed no crime, a procedure liberals positively love and demand conservatives to embrace:

[I]magine for a moment that you have been assigned a couple of prisoners whom you have been given complete freedom to torture. Neither prisoner is aware of the fate that awaits them. You enter the room of the first prisoner and begin by tearing off one of his limbs. The prisoner -- who is not privy to the reasons why you have committed such a dastardly act against his person -- writhes in agony. You then proceed to systematically sever other vital organs. The prisoner tries to flee in desperation, but you have blocked the only exit through which he may entertain any hopes of escaping his torturer. What the prisoner doesn't know is that prior to the moment you entered the scene you had already planned for him to die before being eventually removed from this chamber.

After the job is finished, you enter the next room in which your next hapless victim waits. He is also unaware that you are about to inflict intolerable pain upon him. But this time you decide to employ a more effective method. You bind this prisoner, and then dip him in a tank full of a corrosive solution that will gradually eat at his flesh, obstruct his breathing, and bring about a slow but certain demise. Within minutes of being submerged in this tank the prisoner expires. You could argue that his death was somewhat more merciful than that of the first prisoner. Now imagine that you had been asked to torture these men, not because they were withholding actionable intelligence that could potentially save the lives of thousands of innocents threatened with imminent peril. It was not because they were active members of an itinerant terrorist organization responsible for wreaking havoc around the world. In fact, both these men were innocent human beings, physically incapable of defending themselves, who had been placed in these rooms through no choice of their own. To make matters worse, their painful deaths were commissioned by and discharged at the full behest of their closest family member.
Happens every day. Liberal Democrats and Moderate Republicans love it.
04 May 2009

Say good-bye to the university

Mark C. Taylor, of Columbia University, argues that we should End the University as We Know It.

David Koyzis, of Redeemer University College, has this to say of it:

While he may be guilty of a certain degree of rhetorical overkill, I heartily approve of his emphasis on what might be called interdisciplinary renewal within the university

And quotes this passage from Taylor's article:

There can be no adequate understanding of the most important issues we face when disciplines are cloistered from one another and operate on their own premises. It would be far more effective to bring together people working on questions of religion, politics, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, religion and philosophy to engage in comparative analysis of common problems. As the curriculum is restructured, fields of inquiry and methods of investigation will be transformed.

Taylor describes, in significant bullet points, what's wrong with graduate education. For example, our conception of the university is rooted in Kant's notion "that universities should 'handle the entire content of learning by mass production, so to speak, by a division of labor, so that for every branch of the sciences there would be a public teacher or professor appointed as its trustee.' "

Unfortunately this mass-production university model has led to separation where there ought to be collaboration and to ever-increasing specialization.... And as departments fragment, research and publication become more and more about less and less. Each academic becomes the trustee not of a branch of the sciences, but of limited knowledge that all too often is irrelevant for genuinely important problems. A colleague recently boasted to me that his best student was doing his dissertation on how the medieval theologian Duns Scotus used citations.

How Duns Scotus used citations. Interesting, perhaps. The subject of a Time Magazine article maybe. But important enough to show up someday in a peer-reviewed journal article?

Of course, as a libertarian, I can't agree with some of his solutions, especially as they entail bringing about the sort of university he wants by (more) government fiat decisions. But that's another matter. I'd prefer to see interdisciplinary studies universities popping up like.... I was going to say, "Like McDonald's". But the fast food connotation is thoroughly objectionable.

In another interesting article, Stanley Fish writes on God Talk.
01 May 2009

Obama's likely SCOTUS picks: Gird Your Loins

Michelle Malkin's legal sources have compiled sketches of Obama’s top three likely picks and their records. She advises: "Gird your loins."

Good advice. Wait til you get a load of them.

Or, as Jim Carey said in "Mask": "Hold on to your lug nuts! It's time for an over-haul!"

Here's a clip. The line I quoted is about 2 minutes and 30 seconds in.



Could Specter's defection make it harder to confirm His Beatitude's judicial nominees?

Michael Dorf thinks it is at least possible, citing a more detailed explanation, here. Fuller, subsequent discussion, here.

About Me

James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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