Absolute Power

Well, reading this will pretty much tell you why Samuel Alito will be confirmed as the next justice of the Supreme Court. In short, he's really the ideal candidate, whether you're a Republican or Democrat politician in DC. Why's that? 'Cause he's going to rubber stamp your every grab at government power. If the analysis and reportage I'm seeing is anywhere close to accurate, this is the worst-possible sort of justice. I'd rather take my chances with a lefty that's skeptical of government and its motives.

(Link: Balko, who excerpts all the important parts)

The “New” Navy

Unfortunately for Black, among the midshipmen was at least one sensitive female. He also made some other equally spicy comments about his ex-wife, of whom he apparently is no longer fond, that were overheard by, but not spoken in front of, female midshipmen.

Now he faces a special court-martial and three criminal charges.

Oh, you bet. Glad I got out in 1992, when it was still predominately a man's Navy. Not any more, apparently. Well, at least it made me think of Kim's infamous essay, The Pussification of the Western Male.

(link: Cruse)

Billy’s Notes

Billy Beck has up a pretty lengthy post, wherein he takes note of a lot--to include the Alito hearings, national security in the face of terrorism, and the role of the church in history and present.

And that institution is never going to "hold together" people who -- for good reasons -- just about instinctively reject the claim over the authority of their own minds, and this the important part to bear in mind in this: I'm talking about people like me, who know what the Right Thing is, without the Church. Again: we're talking about a body of ethics that I maintain is both correct (if we're talking about success of human life on the scale that America has illustrated as possible) and identifiable independently of religion. If we can talk about that ethics as something distinct from religion -- which I say we can, and should -- then your "together" starts coming into view.

Indeed. Like Billy, I can acknowledge the role of the church as an ethical force in history, just as--really--I can acknowledge the role of government institutions, democracy, etc., in establishing peaceful and organized means of handling most disputes.

But I do so in the absolute perfect clarity of knowing that all this was and is merely a small, primitive step. There is no more need for religion, the church, or government today than we have need of driving Model T's because they were so necessary and successful in our development of human transportation.

The bottom line is that the human mind has been proved competent; long ago. It has no need whatsoever of pontificators on high. But, alas, it remains an individual's task to fulfill. The fundamental route to advancement as a civilization is for individuals to come to the realization that they do not require false external authorities. Not even a little.

They require neither preachers nor presidents. They have minds; minds that are competent to discern right from wrong.

It's all anyone has ever needed.

Naming Names

The WWW is the closest thing we've got to a Public Ostracism Database. This is why I believe in boldly naming names whenever really warranted. So, how about when a guy sits on death row, waiting to be executed, because a bunch of G.I. Joe Wannabes broke down his door one night and he shot and killed on of them in self-defense? How about when city officials fire his public defender legal counsel (one government service my tax money goes toward that I don't begrudge) because he has the nerve to represent the accused?

Yea, those are names that should be named. Next time, Radley, do it in bold; woudja?

My first call was to the mayor, Charles Dumas. One thing to keep in mind about Dumas -- he's very close to the family of the late Officer Ron Jones. In fact, in one December 28, 2001 article from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Dumas is described as spokesperson "on behalf of the Jones family."


So I called the board. Aldermen Terry Brinson and Robert G. Miller didn't answer their phones, and had no answering machine or voicemail. I left messages on the answering machines of Aldermen Danny L. Daniels and Willie Davis.

The only alderman I was able to get in touch with was Sylvia Ward. Ward told me that she didn't feel comfortable telling me why the Board fired Evans, and that if I really wanted to know, I'd have to come down to Mississippi and ask the board "as a whole." I told her that the Mayor told me only the board could tell me why Evans was fired, but that I had reason to believe it was because he was serving as counsel for Cory Maye. Again, she said, I'd either need to request a copy of the minutes from Prentiss Town Hall or come down to Mississippi and make my request in person.


George Will just won't let up on those utter and contemptible frauds who call themselves conservative and Republicans.

Liberals practice "K Street liberalism" with an easy conscience because they believe government should do as much as possible for as many interests as possible. But "K Street conservatism" compounds unseemliness with hypocrisy. Until the Bush administration, with its incontinent spending, unleashed an especially conscienceless Republican control of both political branches, conservatives pretended to believe in limited government. The past five years, during which the number of registered lobbyists more than doubled, have proved that, for some Republicans, conservative virtue was merely the absence of opportunity for vice.

You just go right ahead and keep at it, Mr. Will.

(via Balko)


I always like to have my print copy of Reason Magazine in the car so that when I stop at a cafe to have breakfast on the way to the office, which I frequently do, I can read an article or two. The other day, I read this piece, which has to do with radical human enhancement and such. You know, humans improving upon God's rather insipid creation, as they've always done and will continue to do--manipulative promoters of irrational fear, and parasitic prophesier's of doom and judgment notwithstanding.

In principle, I often have a lot of problems with Reason Mag because they usually stand against effects rather than causes, which is what everyone does. Everyone is against this or that effect. Nobody, however, is against the common cause: government, i.e., the legitimized initiation of force. Nonetheless, their articles are often interesting, and after all, it's not as though it's a bad thing to know why certain things are "impractical" as well as being morally wrong.

In reading that article cited above, I was struck by the banality of it, particularly in the predictable cautions and admonishments from those who believe it their place to dictate my values in life and how I would pursue them. Let me state for the record, then, that Eric Cohen is one of the "typical and predictable."

It wasn't until I got to the very end of the article that I rejoiced in a couple of interesting observations, one of which I've made before, and one of which is new to me.

Ronald Bailey: I’ve suggested to my wife that we’ll have children when we’re younger. In any case, with regard to treasuring every embryo, nature certainly doesn’t do that; 80 percent of all naturally conceived embryos, as far as we know, are not implanted and never become people or babies or anything else. In fact, the results of IVF are better than those of nature.

Questioner 3: In terms of consenting to genetic treatments, do embryos—or children, for that matter—have the ability to give their consent?

Ronald Bailey: I want to remind everybody in the audience that you did not give consent to be born. In fact, you did not give consent to be born with any of the genes that you have. So any embryos that parents decide to modify stand in exactly the same relation that all previous embryos have stood in.

If you think about what people are apt to do, this isn’t really an issue. Would you want the person-to-be to be smarter? Well, yeah, that’d be good. Forty IQ points would be good too. Would they like to have a good immune system? Yeah, they’d like that. What about athletic ability? Yeah, OK. I think you can presume consent for most of the things that parents are going to do for their children because they’re not going to try to make them worse. They’re going to try to make them better.

So, the first observation is that Ronald Bailey's mention of the observed fact that 80% of embryos are destroyed naturally puts the religious who believe that "embryos are babies" in a difficult predicament. Either God is the biggest murderer in all of human history by many, many factors over our most evil recitation, or, God is exempt from right and wrong. Neither seems to be an enviable position so far as I can tell.

The second observation is a new one for me. Ronald Bailey argues, correctly, that nobody gave consent for their current genetic makeup, or indeed, consent to having been born at all. What this really means is that you have no standing at all. For instance, had your father not furnished genetic material to your mother at roughly the exact moment it was furnished, you would not exist. Had he furnished it to someone other than your mother, or at a different time to your mother, then either there would be a different egg, or a different sperm with your mother's egg. In either case, we might be dealing with someone smarter, better looking, more talented, or less of all those things, but we would most definitely not be dealing with you.

So, if you have no standing as to whether you will exist or not, at all, it's difficult to see how you would have any standing if, once fertilized, parents decided to make enhancements of various kinds. In essence, they are making you into a different person with a different genetic makeup, and the only difference between that and the random way of getting to a different person described in the foregoing paragraph is that it's not random. It is a conscious, deliberate process.

Just remember that when someone objects to what human beings do on the basis of interfering in the divine, that we're talking about injecting human purpose, consciousness, value, thought, deliberation, and all those things that represent humanity, vs. a process by which 80% of potential is literally flushed down the toilet.

An interesting dilemma, eh? God disposes of inferior embryos by killing them outright. Humans intend to preserve inferior embryos and modify their genes to not only make them viable, but better. Enhanced. So, you tell me: who's evil and who's meciful and benevolent, huh?

Fundamental Distinctions

I find that I tend to draw my distinctions a lot deeper than most folks. This is why--for instance--I have a difficult time finding important differences between the federal government and an organized mob controlling an area or neighborhood. I could list dozens of important parallels, but it's not the point of this post.

It's true that in government, I tend to prefer conservatives to liberals and those religious to those secular, even though I'm personally more liberal than conservative (in the classical sense), as well as an atheist who loves to ridicule beliefs in "Santa for Adults" (see, I just can't let go an opportunity). My reasons for this are wholly pragmatic: we can count on conservatives, out of blind faith, to believe in the evils of communism and hedonism (they are, but require no faith to come to such conclusions) and thus strive to enact public policy accordingly, which, at worst, sends us down the river at a slower pace than the commie dems, or, at best, creates utter gridlock (something sorely missing in the last 5 years or so).

Along these lines, Radley Balko demonstrates how Supreme Court nominee Alito is fundamentally no different from Justice Ginsburg, and he is right on the money about that.

The real ideological split these days is between judges who are skeptical of government power, and justices who embrace it. In that vein, Scalia and Ginsberg, et al. are one and the same. Brown, Thomas, Rehnquist, and O'Connor (to a lesser extent) are the good guys.

By all indications, Alito is in the former group. Which is why I think libertarians -- and principled conservatives, come to think of it -- ought to oppose his nomination.

Exactly. I loathe Ginsberg because she believes in the primacy of the government over individuals, and I loathe Alito and [usually] Scalia for the same reason. Thomas is really the only decent person left on that bench. Not much comfort, I'm afraid.

Just as with the dingbat Meiers, Bush seeks a puppet for the bench. This is what the commie dems have been doing for decades, which is: when the government asserts a power and someone challenges it, affirm the government's power. Conservatives, seeing how successful this has been in making the government all powerful all of the time, have unabashedly embraced the same strategy.

As a final point, conservatives, owing to their blind faith, have not recognized what else they share in common with the left: a strong sense of morality. Listen: a sense of morality is the very last of our concerns, as conservative George Will--who seems to be getting a clue, lately--points out:

Really stern social conservatives probably favor explicitly proscribing government assistance to lots of things, most of them somehow involving sex. Government could preen about being too moral to subsidize, with tax-preferred bonds, economic projects that include bookstores that sell Judy Blume novels, or hotels that offer in-room pornography. And wouldn't it be fun to find the words "lap dance" in the nation's tax code?

As strongly as social conservatives deplore commercialized sex, liberals deplore cigarettes, Big Macs, firearms, fur coats, SUVs, pornography not printed on recycled paper, pornographic movies produced by nonunion studios, holiday trees provocatively labeled "Christmas trees" and much more.

These things all represent moral values to people. In other words, the battle, right now, is not about morality vs. amorality, it's about one side's perceived morality vs. the other side's immorality, and vice versa.

What ties it all together and ensures its indefinite continuation is putting people like Roberts and Alito on the bench. Sure, it might result in a few "moral" victories for the right--up until the pendulum swings the other way and the left starts getting their "moral" victories once again.

But nowhere will the source of morality ever be considered. Nowhere will anyone come to understand that man's fundamental and unalienable freedom to choose to live or die gives rise to morality and all objective moral standards must logically correspond to that first principle. Moral positions that do not are objectively immoral, which is why both the right and left are fundamentally immoral--at every level--as they continue to assert the government's power to enforce their pet moral codes.

Looking Back

Via Hit & Run, I get a link over to this WSJ Editorial that minimally has the virtue of telling a decent bit of the truth about who republican politicians really are.

More broadly, however, the Abramoff scandal wouldn't resonate nearly as much with the public if it didn't fit a GOP pattern of becoming cozy with Beltway mores. The party that swept to power on term limits, spending restraint and reform has become the party of incumbency, 6,371 highway-bill "earmarks," and K Street. And it's no defense to say that Democrats would do the same. Of course Democrats would, but then they've always claimed to be the party of government. If that's what voters want, they'll choose the real thing.

After admittedly being seduced by the whole '1994 thing,' it didn't really take long to understand that nothing was materially going to change. It was perhaps a year, at most. Two years ago, I blogged an entry that I think is pretty apropos today, really going to the fundamental reasons why the Republicans did not and will not change anything. (Reading it now also makes me think that my writing is getting worse.) That entry concludes as follows, but please do go and read the whole thing.

What else is there to conclude but that the Republicans have perpetuated a big fraud? They have never really stood for what they have claimed to stand for. And it’s not that they simply lack the political will, it is that they lack the necessary and imperative moral convictions entirely, but go about fraudulently promising to do what cannot be done within the framework of the premises they do hold.

They deserve no one’s support.

At least the Democrats are “trustworthy.” They promise to increase the size, scope, and cost of government, and they deliver on that promise consistently and unabashedly. Their problem is one of simple dishonesty in demonizing the virtuous while canonizing scoundrels—within an overall framework of foisting guilt upon the most productive and cultivating an esprit of entitlement and victimhood on the moochers.

So, take your pick, the fraud of the Republicans or the manipulative dishonesty of the Democrats. There is a third, principled option, which is to not participate at all and just jeer from the stands. That’s where you’ll find me.

G.I. Joe Report

Radley Balko reports on more limp-dick, G.I. Joe wannabes who like to dress up in assault gear, break down doors, point automatic assault rifles, and generally terrorize people in possession of a little weed. And, sometimes (often), they even get the wrong house.

You know, I just have a difficult time understanding how a person--a so-called man--can live a life like that; terrorizing people who aren't harming anyone. It's an objective fact that nobody of genuine self-esteem could do that for a single day. I can only imagine what sorts of ego-crushing experiences these guys must have had at the hands of parents, or perhaps women at some point in their lives. No excuse, of course, but I'm forever astonished at how so many people seem to be so concerned about what other people think of them.

Why is that?

Update: Well, Christ, I might as well add this link here too, about SWAT teams preventing people from committing suicide: by shooting and killing them first. Can anyone fathom the depth of my hatred, here?

Far, FAR Fetched

Radley Balko has some very far-fetched predictions for 2006 in his latest Fox column.

Post Hoc, Ergo, Propter Hoc

Which completely sums up what sort of idiot Pat Robertson is. Those who require exorcism of their similar idiocies can begin right here. And make sure to "see also," and follow "external links." Such begins your path to redemption as a human being with a mind.

Parliament of Whores

First things first: the title is ripped off from P.J. O'Roarke, who wrote a book by the same title.

Jim Bovard has a rather humorous post up about the Abramoff "lobbying" scandal. Here's one, quoting the NYT quoting some former republican aide:

“There’s a lot of talk coming out of various quarters that the Justice Department is going to pursue a different definition of bribery, meaning that if somebody were to give a gift or a campaign contribution in the same time period as a member took an official action, that in and of itself would constitute bribery. That scares the bejesus out of people.”

Oh, you mean they're going to use a definition of bribery close to the actual meaning of the word?

It astounds me. I hear virtually nothing but lies on both sides of the political debate virtually all of the time. Yea, they call it "spin." Euphemism for outright, boldface lying. Look: the only reason that the truth needs to be spun into a lie is that the truth is uncomfortable. Why is it uncomfortable? Well, in this case, because virtually every last one of them, on both sides--top to bottom and wall to wall--are whores on the take. They take bribes every day, and among the other euphemisms we engage, "campaign contributions" come to mind.

And I wouldn't give a hoot about it, except that what's going on is that white-collar-hoax "business" quislings seeking new regulations and fraudster activists that send out millions of mailers to dopes who actually believe that the world as they know it is coming to an end because of [insert favorite fad hysteria here], are bribing these whores to steal from me in one or more of myriad ways.

Let's boil it down. This is practical politics, and the game is that the State has absolute power over your life. Politicians are agents of the State, and what they do is rent out that agency to the highest bidders, to do their bidding.

I think Jim is being a bit overly-optimistic, though. I'll be surprised if even one politician goes down, although the prospect of a sacrificial lamb or two doesn't seem too far fetched. But if you think that there is going to be any real exercise of justice or deliberate recognition of ethical principles of right and wrong, you're fantasizing. It's simple. If you are to employ the true meaning of bribery, they all go down. Of course, that would be impractical, and the only time principles are touted is when the prerequisite practicalities have already been fully satisfied.

Look at it this way: if each and every member of the House and Senate were caught with a smoking gun in their hand and dead body on the floor, we would find a way to change the definition of murder. That is a reality the implications of which are not grasped by one in a million people.

It’s the Power, Stupid

Do you have any idea how hysterically I laugh at most of you all; and in particular, currently, at Republicans bending over backwards to defend "abuses of power" they would not have tolerated for an instant in the previous administration of the office of the chief executive? They wouldn't tolerate lying about a blow-job (and they shouldn't), but they will tolerate just about whatever from the guy who heads the other team (and they shouldn't).

Let me clue you in on something: when the government does something you don't like, it uses the exact same power it used to do something you do like. Another clue: government is the abuse of power.

What's my point? Simply this: I know very well and good how things are done around here. I understand that there are imperatives, such as killing primitives who have vowed and continue to vow to kill us. I understand that the power of the State is the only way that's going to happen, now, and whether it is or is not the power of the State that got us into this and all of the many murderous predicaments of the past is immaterial. Things have to get done--today.

But I'm certainly not going to delude myself into thinking that the State is "abusing power," or isn't "abusing power." The State is absolute power, absolutely all of the time. When it doesn't exercise it fully, it's merely a convenient pretense. It's more efficient. You know, even Hitler had "sense" enough to feed the Jews he was later to gas and cremate. He even boosted "morale," from time to time. It was more efficient. You can't exterminate and dispose of six millions all at once, you know.

The Republicans are right about one thing. This wiretapping business is not unprecedented. Of course it's not. Look: killing the primitives that need to be killed is not a precise business. Innocent Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII. That was the State freely exercising more of its absolute power because it was the most efficient way to deal with the real Japanese spy risk. Was it unjust? Of course it was, but it's wasn't for a second unprecedented or unusual. Read the sorts of abuses of innocent people that went on during the U.S. Civil War.

It's all just government doing what it does, and nobody ought to be surprised by it. Someday, when people finally learn that they don't need the State or God any more than they need their wisdom teeth or appendix, things will change, en masse. In the meantime, there's nothing interesting or surprising going on.

Back to Work

I think that right up there with the wonder and enjoyment of all the festivities surrounding the general Holiday Season, that begins really with Thanksgiving, continues to Christmas, and ended yesterday, is the enjoyment of getting back to work with a renewed and fresh sense of purpose.

Man I'm glad to be back.