Thursday, March 29, 2007

One of my better efforts...

In response to a discussion of unalienable rights over at Glenn Greenwald.

We of course are playing word games here, but I'll give it a shot. Our rights come from the consensus we created when we asserted that we had them. That we put them in our founding documents for easy reference adds to their value. If you doubt the power of consensus then I suggest you burn all the money in your wallet because it has no value save what has been assigned to it by the power of consensus.

You make a valid point about how the lack of ownership of our own bodies is evidence that we have rights that are currently being violated, but if you had no rights beyond what the government grants, then you would have no basis to complain!

When Jefferson wrote the declaration of independence, he did indeed invoke the diety and referred to it as the source of the rights asserted. But he also said, "we hold these truths to be self evident" meaning that he had no reason to think that anyone in his audience wouldn't know exactly what he was talking about.

He also used the phrase "goverments are institued by men". When you refer abstractly to "not having any rights except what are granted by government" then you are allowing 1 useful fiction to trump another useful fiction. Government is nothing more than a collection of people, many of whom are armed, who assert the right to control the behavior of others.

No wonder, when designing a system of government, the framers were very careful to design it in such a way that the ambitions of its participants are set against each other so that the power of law wouldn't become an instrument of abuse.

Opinions vary on how well they did, but it certainly highlights why its important to continue to assert our rights, even when we are among those who would sacrifice them for expedience or safety.

Spin in action.

This quote is from a story concerning Kyle Sampson's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

"The distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial," Sampson said.

"Some were asked to resign because they were not carrying out the president's and the attorney general's priorities," he said. "In some sense that may be described as political by some people."

Pretty mealy mouthed right? Yea, I thought so too.

Here's how it translates as a headline in the San Luis Obispo Tribune's website...

Sampson denies, under oath, U.S. attorneys fired for political reasons

I'm in the wrong line of work.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Does anybody remember how important civil liberities were to Republicans when Janet Reno was AG.?

The administrations interest in all e-mail is a wholly unhealthy precedent, especially given this administrations track record on FBI files and IRS snooping. Every medium by which people communicate can be subject to exploitation by those with illegal intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records, read our medical records, or translate our international communications. --John Ashcroft October 1997

Read It All

Freedom isnt free.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The point to keep in mind is that the fundamental difference between the two parties is that Democrats believe America can be decent and strong at the same time and Republicans believe that those are mutually exclusive concepts


Rosa Brooks via Kevin Drum

To paraphrase Zbigniew Brzezinksi, we need to resist efforts to frame policy debates in terms of strong versus weak, or hard versus soft power: the real question is whether we're going to be smart, or stupid. I don't know about Joe, but I'll take smart over stupid any day of the week.



Monday, March 19, 2007

From Kevin Drum

The biggest role -- assuming we actually want to win, that is -- will be played by programs and policies that work to convince the Muslim world that we're not at war with them. Policies and programs aimed at winning them over and persuading them to stop supporting or tolerating terrorism in their midst. In the long run, short of turning the Middle East into a glassy plain, it's simply the only way to win.


Judging from what goes on over at LGF and similar sites, it would appear that there's a faction within this country for whom the glassy plain IS the only solution.

Friday, March 09, 2007