Thursday, October 30, 2008

Someone explain

Why this would end up in moderation!

I disagree strongly on one point. While Obama might be somewhat satisfied with the National Security team that's currently in place, he is certainly going to have to make an assertive move on arrival if for no other reason than to remove all doubt that HE'S in charge. The last thing we're going to need is for any second guessing along the chain of command, especially if some of his strategic decisions happen to be unpopular with the troops themselves

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In response to


Powell's finest moment was when he told Tom Brokaw that what really bothered him about the sinister rumors labeling Obama a secert Muslim wasn't that they were a lie; it was the suggestion that there was something un-American about being a Muslim.

There's a very good reason the Founders thought it necessary to include Freedom of Worship in the Bill of Rights. They knew first hand that religious conflict was among the most emotionally engaging variety and that a properly formed Government has no business inserting itself into it.

Almost everything in the Bill of Rights is there because the things it prohibits are exceedingly tempting. If coercive interrogation weren't a real temptation then there would be no need for a rule against self-incrimination. If intrusive searches weren't a real temptation, then there would be no need to spell out warrant requirements. And if there weren't a real temptation to impose a particular faith on people against their will, then there would have been no necessity to explicitly prohibit it.

It is therefore unsurprising that the battle to preserve our rights is ongoing. In that sense they are unnatural and require positive effort to keep them intact.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Re: EO Wilson

The subject of an EO Wilson article came up at Washington Monthly;

Here's what I had to say on the subject:

if we can hold both that morality is a human contrivance and that biology is not relevant to answering moral questions

I feel compeled to point out that biology is an inescapable part of moral reasoning. After all, how can we possibly speak of 'suffering' or 'pleasure' or otherwise describe the results of our choices except upon the substrate of bodies and minds that feel pain and hunger or triumph. We can certainly think of such things at a hiogher level of absraction but without biology, we would be nothing more than rocks.


Wilson, Dawkins and Dennett among others all struggle against the question, "Why in spite of all my efforts, do people insist on continuing to be religious?" They then go on to argue (convincingly in my view) that religious feeling is actually a selected adaptation that has among its effects, the potential to motivate people into fatal acts in defense of their tribe (and hence their fellow gene-carriers) What they fail to consider is that the resolute absence of religious feeling is an effect of precisely the same force.

Certainly a congregation of athiest is capable of creating the same sense of belonging and community that churchgoers enjoy and at its fringes is capable of fomenting actual hatred against those who insist on viewing the Universe differently.

I might say the above in the shorter form. "Even atheists are capable of religious intolerance."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just a quick note

To say that I agree with this wholeheartedly.

Paying The Piper

The biggest problem with the widening gap between the wealthy and the middle class is that the reduced spending power of the middle class eventually results in reduced consumer spending that affects everyone.

Call it the Trickle-up theory.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Posted on a Joe Klein Thread:


Both your article and Michael Scherer's post-debate post seem to address the same point. Neither candidtae is willing to give the public any bad news about the limits of what the Government can do to help. This is the bad news.

The good news is that are able to reopen all the philosophical underpinnings that led in a straight line from Johnson to Reagan and allowed Americans to believe that corporations were somehow inherently superior to government agencies.

The basic assumption that has now been become frozen into the public consciousness is that because businesses are motivated by profit, that they are better than government at operating efficiently and NOT wasting money. This is true, as far as it goes, but the sad fact is that if the object of the game is to provide for the minimum basic needs of all Americans, the cheapest way is unquestionably unacceptable. It's taken almost 20 years for this realization to sink in.

The problem as I see it now however, is because these arguments are have all been internalized and simplified into slogans, we're no longer able to discuss them reasonably. All someone has to do is say "redistribution" or "socialist" and an otherwise open mind curls up into a tight little ball of Reaganomic true-belief.

I happen to be well aware of the limits of Government's ability to solve problems. I have sympathies toward Republican economic thinking. I'm a huge fan of balanced budgets and limited borrowing. But we have to be willing to take a systematic look at ALL our institutions and ask themselves "Are these designed in such away that blind self-interest nevertheless creates desirable results?"

The beauty of our Constitutional system is that it turns the self-interest of the Branches of government against each other in order to limit the excessive concentration of power. If only we were half as clever in designing our economic system.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A recent Palin quote:

"We see America as a force for good in this world. We see America as a force for exceptionalism..."

It's exceedingly interesting that A: she doesn't seem to have a clue about what "exceptionalism" means in that context and B: she seems to be promoting precisely the moral blindness that actually IS referred to by the word 'exceptionalism'

Whenever being "a force for good" is assumed by your identity rather than strived for by your ideals, then you are well on your way toward ceasing to be a force for good. This is the number one failure of the current Republican playbook. As soon as you are unable to evaluate your own actions or stated another way, as soon as the suggestion that your own actions might be wrong becomes taboo, then evil follows as assuredly as night follows day.

Even if they weren't taking the Obama quote out of context, the refusal to consider that we ourselves may doing harm is not only harmful, it's morally bankrupt.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More on Mediocracy


And they deserved it. They are the people, after all, who wrote garbage like that above for years and nursed the belief in the Republican base that the only thing required for world leadership is being as mediocre as possible. What did they expect?

Pulled Directly from AmericaBlog


Obama has noted this before, as has Jon Stewart - the fact that Republican politicians admire stupidity and ignorance. They wear their lack of education, their incompetence, their failure as a badge of honor. And it's certainly an American tradition, having disdain for intellectuals. But when push comes to shove, do you really want bubba, or bubba with lipstick, in charge of your 401k and your life savings? At some point America has got to get over its love affair with stupid. Or the mistakes of the last eight years, when we elected stupid to an art form, will continue to repeat themselves.

This is a theme that's been close to my heart ever since March. If you google the word 'elite' I'm sure you will find page after page extolling the virtues of mediocrity.

I find the whole thing - dare I say it - stupid!