27 October 2005

Actually it's, "Qué linda!"

Jennifer Garner is taking a little bit of flack for the weight she has put on during her pregnancy. Take as one example, the caption, accompanying this photo of her at Gypsies, Tramps and Theives: "Jennifer Garner is seen here walking into her baby shower. I hope she loses this weight quick!"

I mean this in the best sense in which a happily married man can: I think Jennifer Garner is a beautiful woman. (Note: I did not say, "Hot.") Only someone who has little idea what a woman is for can look at this picture and see only a woman who needs to "lose this weight quick!" Perhaps, to someone like this, a woman is fit for little else but oggling and fantasizing about; she exists for sexual gratification alone--and the viewing public's at that, not only her husband's. And she must lose this weight quickly so that we can all get back to the business of lusting for her, I suppose. (Now, I make no claim to know where this blogger is coming from, but that doesn't affect what I'm presently blogging about in the slightest.)

No one who claims to have any idea what the universe is for can fail to think that Jennifer may never have looked as lovely as she does in this photograph. In the economy of God--whether she believes in Him or not--He has granted to women to bear children. She may not acknowledge it, but this is a photograph of her glorifying the God who made her, as a function of that work we Calvinists call common grace. When you take away her acting career and everything that accompanies it, Jennifer Garner is just a woman. Women, occasionally, get pregnant; sometimes they remain that way until they give birth. When women get pregnant they often put on weight, some of which is a necessity--for the baby. Get over it. Heck, I could almost envy her husband, not because I can't have sex with his wife (God forbid!) but because my wife and I can't have children. (Hey, Jen, have a couple more for my wife and I. Okay?)

Now, guys like this could say two things. First, I'm just being a prude. The first thing to notice about this is that it's ad hominem. It says something about me, not my argument; so it doesn't work as a refutation of anything I've said. More importantly, I am applying an entire worldview here, not merely any prudish notions of "womanhood." Specifically, I am applying the Christian anthropology. What is a woman? Well, like a man, she is an image-bearer of God. Any appropriate appraisal of a woman must begin by taking that fact into account. A woman is a female man. And like a man, a woman exists to glorify God, not to serve as--among other things--eye candy. Besides, I did not become a Christian until I was 23; and the life I led before that--well, let's just say that my eyes have seen so much that it is way too late for me to be prudish about much, if anything.

Second, I'm really making too much of a photo, aren't I? Are there not other more important matters to blog about? After all, at least in this one Jennifer is fully dressed. But I'm not addressing the photo. I'm addressing the attitude that accompanies the photo, an attitude--toward women--that really is important enough to blog about. And it is an attitude which a Calvinist must assert differs only in degree from that of a sexual predator: females exist primarily to pleasure males in some form or fashion. That's what I do here--address issues from a Calvinist-Christian perspective.
21 October 2005

Obfuscation by (intelligent) design

I was listening to the Mike Rosen Show yesterday. Rosen was interviewing Dr. Henry I. Miller, of the Hoover Institution, about the spread of the avian flu. During the course of the interview, Rosen asked Dr. Miller about virus mutations and what it says about intelligent design versus evolution. Miller said he thought ID requires a leap of faith. He admitted that someone could say the same for evolution, but(unlike intelligent design) he could see the effects of evolution all around him. His dog, you see, was bred to kill rats. Dogs are probably descended from a common ancestral wolf. So, evolution is not the leap of faith that intelligent design is. (Mike Rosen Show, KOA-AM Radio, 20 October 2005, 3d hour.)

1. To me this is just further evidence of the fact that evolutionists just are not listening to ID people. Dr. Miller can only make such remarks by insisting on using Intelligent Design as a synonymn for Creationism. ID adherents do not deny any and all evolution. Some deny macro-evolution, but not micro-evolution. Some deny neither micro- nor macro-evolution. Unike creationists, some ID adherents are not truly theists. They are deists; as such they deny special (biblical) creation.

2. Notice that he can only see the effects of evolution if, in fact, evolution has taken place. It's unbelievable: he denies that accepting evolution over Intelligent Design is a leap of faith, but in making his case he argues in a circle. Evolution, he says, is not a leap of faith because there is evidence for it. And this evidence for evolution is precisely that we can see the evidence of evolution. (Consider this: if a theist claimed that his belief in God was not a leap of faith because he can see the evidence of God all around him we would have to admit that he, too, was arguing in a circle--or at least begging the question. And I suspect that Mike Rosen would take great joy in pointing that out to our hypothetical theist.)

3. Even if I wanted to grant that his circular argument could count as a refutation of the assertion that evolution requires a leap of faith, I cannot accept his rat-killing dog as evidence of evolution. He says that his dog is evidence of evolution because he was bred to kill rats. But that is artificial selection, not natural selection. When we talk about evolution we normally use it as a short hand for natural selection, which Darwin distinguished from artificial selection. Indeed, artificial selection made natural selection seem stronger. Darwin believed that the fact that men could select for certain traits when breeding animals ought to induce in us the belief that nature, being superior to men, could do an even better job. So artificial selection cannot be treated as synonymous with natural selection. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I have read the Origin of Species.)

So let's take stock of the logical fallacies Dr. Miller employed here: (1) circular reasoning (i.e., the effects of evolution constitute evidence for it); (2) question begging (i.e., there is evidence for evolution in the effects of it, so evolution is not a leap of faith like ID); (3) persuasive definition (i.e., "intelligent design" is "biblical creationsism").

What galls me most about dogmatic evolutionists is not so much that they don't "buy" intelligent design. What bothers me is that they won't be honest about what ID asserts and what it does not assert. What also bothers me is that while they deny ID because of it's inability to be tested, they pretend that natural selection is testable. By definition, natural selection cannot be testable--not even in principle. It isn't even falsifiable in principle. And asserting that it is so, is to engage in philosophy anyway, not science. And enaging in philosophy rather than science is what evolutionists say that ID adherents do.
20 October 2005

I'm no lawyer, but...

Congress-woman Cynthia McKinney wants to know: Since the owners of the nursing home where so many people died are being charged with negligent homicide, should not Michael Chertoff also be so charged?

The answer: that depends on (a) whether she thinks he ought to be charged under federal or (Louisiana) state law; and (b) what the law is in these respective jurisdictions.

Louisiana state law (RS 14.32, amended by Acts 1980, No. 708, §1; Acts 1991, No. 864, §1.) defines negligent homicide as
"the killing of a human being by criminal negligence," and criminal negligence as "exist[ing] when, although neither specific nor general criminal intent is present, there is such disregard of the interest of others that the offender's conduct amounts to a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonably careful man under like circumstances" (RS 14.12).

Federal law looks a bit trickier. Federal law (18 U.S.C. sec 1111) defines murder as
"the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed, is murder in the first degree.

Any other murder is murder in the second degree."

Federal law, so far as I can tell, does not provide for "negligent homicide." If she wants to see him charged under federal law, McKinney would probably like to see him charged with murder in the first degree, asserting that the deaths in New Orleans resulted from "a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed." Given the difficulty (I hope) of proving "premeditated design", and given McKinney's specific use of the phrase "negligent homicide" I gather that she would see him charged under Louisiana state law. It seems to me that in order to do that, one would have to show (a) that Chertoff's relation to the deceased is relevantly similar to that of the nursing home owners to those who died in their nursing homes and/or (b) that Chertoff had a duty which he failed to perform, no doubt, by"premeditated design," and which failure resulted in the deaths in New Orleans. (And let's be clear: this duty, it seems to me, must be prescribed by state law, which, I think, does not apply to federal agents. So I guess she'll have to turn back to the U.S. Code.) Demonstrating (a) and/or (b) strikes me as bordering on the impossible.

I have a question for McKinney: Given their closer proximity to the events; given their ostensible mis-managment of federal funds; given their failures to declare a state of emergency in a timely manner--are Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco also to be charged with negligent homicide?

More takings

As I mentioned in my previous post, takings through use of eminent domain are on the rise. D.C. want a professional baseball park and they are going to get it. Read all about it, here.

A few more examples:

1. In Pittsburgh, the Mayor is threatening to use eminent domain to take more than 60 buildings and 125 local businesses in a historic downtown area to give the property to developer who will build a mall with a Gap and a Tiffany’s. (Dana Berliner, "Pittsburgh’s ‘land grabs’," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 19, 2000.)

2. Boston is using eminent domain to build a new ballpark for the Red Sox. (Brian C. Mooney, "The Mismatch of the Century," The Boston Globe, August 9, 2000, p. B3)

3. In Richfield, Minnesota, a car dealership is being threatened to make way for a new headquarters for the Best Buy electronics chain. (Jim McCartney, "Richfield, Minn., May Start Plans to Get Car Dealership Out, Move Best Buy In," St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 5, 2000.

4. And outside of Cincinnati, the city of Norwood wants to condemn a number of small businesses so that a nearby Walgreens can move its current store to a new corner one block away. (Ken Alltucker, "Corner braces for Walgreens; Businesses prepare to be booted," Cincinnnati Enquirer, August 10, 2000, p. C3.)

(Anyone notice a trend here? These things are taking place in states dominated by liberals.)

And you will just love this story.
18 October 2005

Ransom thougths on a few current events

1. It occurs to me that one bad argument against Miers is the one that goes something like this: Shumer and Reid are for her; therefore I should be against her. It's a logically fallacious argument; specifically, it's ad hominem. It's an argument against her that has nothing to do with her, since it asserts nothing about her.

2. Certain SCOTUS justices think that foreign law should be applied against us--at the Court's sole discretion, of course. But the Consititution says:

"This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land..." (U.S. CONST.Art. 6, sec.2).

If this is the case, then what is the state of the union, if the Supreme Court applies against a state the laws of another nation? What do we call it when one nation is made subservient to the will of another nation (as expressed in that nation's laws)?

3. Anyone keeping up with the issue of takings, since Kelo, knows that the number of takings--and the excuses for them--are multiplying. I've been thinking a lot about this and it occurs to me that there is another problem with the logic of Kelo: Kelo applies, today, only to real property. But real property is only one species of property. Once you accept that government may seize real property and transfer it to someone else, what prevents government from doing that to every species of property? Like, say, intellectual property. Patents? Copyrights? Gone!

4. Hillary Clinton, speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus recently, said she attended Sunday School as a child, but must have missed the lesson on taking care of the rich rather than the poor. Yes? Well, I also missed several lessons, apparently. I missed the lesson on patting yourself on the back for taking care of the poor with money that isn't yours, and in fact was stolen from rich people. I also missed the lesson that taking care of the poor is the government's responsibility and not mine.

ATTENTION LIBERALS: Don't tell me that I fulfill my obligation to the poor through actions taken--on my behalf--by my government. You may as well try to tell me that I can fulfill my sexual obligations to my wife through some actions taken--on my behalf--by my government. In both cases, I flatter myself to think I can do a better job! (There is a logical fallacy [i.e., composition] involved in this liberal assertion, but I don't want to trouble them about logic. Many of them just can't--and wont--be bothered with it, anyway.)
11 October 2005

IN RE Harriet Miers

Like most conservatives, I would like to have seen either J. Michael Luttig or Janice Rogers Brown be nominated to the Supreme Court. Some conservatives seem to have given up. This is it. They are quitting. Caution! The reason the left has been so successful is that they have been far more patient than conservatives have shown themselves to be. It took almost 60 years for the left to screw this nation up. Did anyone really think that George Bush was going to undo it all in two terms? Or with two supreme court nominees?

So, I'm disappointed. But we need to be honest about a few things.

Many conservatives who are opposed to her nomination are thinking in terms of her "light-weight-ness." She is not an Antonin Scalia. So be it. But she is a bit of a Clarence Thomas, who had little more than a year's experience as a jugde.

It is this lack of judicial experience that seems to concern most conservatives. But look (as I mentioned in my previous post): you don't have to be a judge to be on the Supreme Court; and you don't even have to be a lawyer to be on the Court. Let's ask ourselves what we really need right now.

Think of the problem. Those appointed to the Court have a tendency to drift leftward. Why is this so? I think that Michael Medved summed it up perfectly. Judges drift left because they succumb to the temptation to acquire more power. If you want power and you are a judge you must head left. If we really want to battle judicial activism we do not necessarily need people on the court who are brilliant legal minds or even judges. (And I increasingly find myself wondering if we should even want lawyers. After all, the military are under the control of civilians. Why shouldn't the courts be under the control of non-lawyers? But I digress.)

The left's number one concern, judicially speaking, is to have judges who are willing to arrogate power. It seems to me that our number one concern, as originalists, ought to be having judges who are committed to the proposition that judges say what the law is, not what it should be. In a republic, we must insist that character matters, yes sometimes even more than intellectual preparation (we don't want elites, do we?) or previous judicial experience. We ought to insist, above all else, that all our leaders--including judges--be commited to the principles of federalism. A commitment not to seek to garner more power for oneself is a matter of character. (And with respect to the whole "brillian legal mind" business. There has never been anyone on the left whom I have considered a brilliant mind at all, much less legally.)

I tend to believe that the President has ascertained that Harriet Miers is committed to judical restraint, the proposition that judges say what the law is, not what it should be. I tend also to believe that the President has ascertained whether or not she is the kind of person who would seek to arrogate power to herself. For too long we have asked the wrong questions of our judges. We have asked their views on civil rights, abortion, the environment, gay marriage, and the like. The real question really is whether they can be trusted with even a little power--and be content with having only a little power.

Now, we might all have the nominations we want if we could have a filibuster-proof nominee. For the fact that we do not, blame JOHN ONE-OF-THE-GANG-OF-FOURTEEN MCCAIN.

Of course, there might, as some suggest, have been something to having that fight in the Senate that we might like to see. And it is a fight that must, arguably, finally take place. But what we need right now is someone who, at the very least, would vote with Scalia, Thomas and, hopefully, Roberts. And, if nothing else, the appointment of Harriet Miers would give us something almost as wonderful as victory itself: the chance to live and fight another day, after we have spent a few more years pushing back "the frontiers of ignorance" and arguing the superiority of federalism.

But there's something else. I hold to a worldview, Calvinism, which is not the product primarily of pointy-headed intellectuals. The worldview to which I hold is the development of Scots and Dutch, working people, whose worldview arises from the attempt of working people to apply their fundamental religious principles to all of life. So I have a preference against scholars and academics being leaders; I prefer working people.

No, Harriet Miers is not known to be a constitutional scholar. So what? The Constitution was written to be the fundmental law of a land of working people; it is easily read. No, she is not an academic; and she is not a judge. She has, however, spent her life doing something that I can and do respect tremendously: working for a living, as a corporate attorney, and not taking up space in an ivory tower, and coming to the conclusion that because she has done so she now knows more than we what is good for us and our nation. And I would bet that she has now spent enough time in the working world to be rather unimpressed by the nation's elites--in stark contrast with the likes of Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, and Mr. Rogers, I mean Breyer.
10 October 2005

Originalism only requires the ability to read

Sometime ago I was blogging on the Kelo case and I made the comment that "I think we might all be better off if we let six farmers who know how to read just replace the six pin-headed intellectuals who think the reader's job is to assign meaning to the text." ("Is this a republic or an oligarchy," 30 June 2005 here. How gratifying it was today (10 October 2005) to hear Hugh Hewitt say just about the same thing. To be an originalist supreme court judge you only need to know how to read! It is not that complicated.

You know, one does not have to be either a judge or even a lawyer to be on the Supreme Court. Hmmmm. The military is under civilian (i.e., non-military) control); perhaps the Supreme Court, and hence all lower courts, should--following the same principle--be under the control of non-lawyers. After all, how republican is it to have a branch of our government populated only by members of an elite profession?
06 October 2005

If you believe in federalism, act like it!

Speaking of judicial activism, it occurs to me that the present argument before the Supreme Court over assisted suicide (Gonzales v. Oregon, 04-623), shows a glaring inconstistency on the part of many who think that judges ought to interpret and apply the law, not create it. The brilliance of this inconsistency is revealed by the fact that many of these also believe in states' rights.

Here is a simple fact condition. The sovereign state of Oregon passed a law in 1997 permitting physician assisted suicide. Personally, I find this law repugnant and would be opposed to a similar measure here in Colorado. But the people of Oregon have spoken. That's the end of it.

Now the crux of the matter isn't properly a constitutional one. It is, as Gina Holland puts it, a bit of a turf war. "Former Attorney General John Ashcroft...decided in 2001 to pursue doctors who help people die," reasoning that "[h]astening someone's death...violates federal drug laws." ("Supreme Court showdown begins over assisted suicide,"
5 October 2005 [accessed 6 October 2005], here) As a federalist and republican, I believe federal drug laws are, for the most part, unconstitutional--at least insofar as they would not permit physician-assisted suicide in a free state. ("Free State" -- that's how the Constitution refers to them. [See U.S., CONST. Amend. 2]). Of course I also believe that courts do not really have their self-asserted authority to declare legislative acts void because unconstitutional. The Congress should repeal the law, or at least those provisions which curb the freedom of the citizens of a free state to pass such laws as they think necessary.

According to Holland: "Solicitor General Paul Clement, the Bush administration's Supreme Court lawyer, has told justices in a filing that 49 states, centuries of tradition and doctors' groups agree that assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with a physicians role as healer" (internal quotation marks deleted). This is irrelevant to the court. What is relevant is this question: What is the law? The Solicitor General offers, arguably, a good rationale against physician assisted suicide, but the proper place for his argument is either the American Medical Association or the (free) State of Oregon. Of course, as Solicitor General, he is arguing the adminstration's case, not his own, but my point remains the same.

The administration lost this same case at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (the one in San Francisco), which said that former Attorney General Ashcroft's "unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide." I really, really, really hate to say this--and I hope it's the last time I'm put in this postion--but I agree with the 9th Circus--I mean Circuit. (Besides, it is not as if the 9th Circus really cares about anything "historically entrusted to state lawmakers" [i.e., states' rights]--except when, as in the present case, those state lawmakers make laws that fit the left leaning views of said 9th Circus.)

I believe one of the reasons for much of the rejection of federalism is simply that some of its loudest proponents retreat from it when it is clear that federalism will result in free states passing laws that they (these pretended federalists) merely happen not to like. In other words, many so-called federalists are federalist when federalism is convenient for them, or comformable to their passions. But federalism means just this: that a state just may pass laws that we personally do not like.

Let's get real. If the Supreme Court ever does overturn Roe, this will not automatically outlaw abortions nation wide. It will return the issue of abortion to where it truly belongs in a federal republic, the free states. This means that your state may outlaw abortion. It also means that your state may permit abortions. If your state permits abortions and you don't like it, what are you going to do? Take it all the way to the Supreme Court?

About Me

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