Monday, October 20, 2008

California voting

This post is merely a transplant of a discussion begun in another forum concerning arguments of voting in California. The discussion begins as follows, and follow up comments and points can be made in the Comments section. Comments will not be moderated or deleted, provided basic standards of civility are maintained. Names have been truncated for privacy of those who have not yet consented for their comments to be made public. All comments from the other forum have been pasted word verbatim, with no editing (including spelling errors) or censorship. Hopefully I got all the "... Read More"s out. Enjoy!

Nate just received my voting packet for California. Now he'd better decide on how to vote. Any persuasive arguments?

Mike: Do you like socialist health care? Do you want to be conscripted for mandatory "Volunteer" political activism? Do you enjoy paying taxes? Do you think the Government knows how to run the economy better than individuals and business owners do? Do you think scary looking guns that almost never get used in crimes should be banned? Do you think it's okay for the courts to shove gay marriage down our throats? If you like all those things, vote Obama.

If you think having a leftist Democrat president and a Democrat super majority in Congress, under the current leadership (which currently enjoys about a 6% approval rating) is a scary proposition, vote McCain.

Mike: Whatever you do, since you're voting in CA, vote YES on Prop 8. Nobody's exaggerating when we say this decision is probably MORE important than the presidential election.

Katie: Vote yes for proposition 8!!!
Oh and vote for Palin. I mean, McCain. ;)

Shirin: does voting yes for prop 8 mean that you are admiting that you are homophobic? and is that as bad as being racist, sexist, and a biggot?

Mike: Nope. It simply means that you wish marriage to mean the same thing it has meant since the dawn of time, and that you don't want some judge that thinks he's smarter than the entirety of human history and civilization to change that.

Shirin: hmm... what ever happened to separation of church and state? and should we keep things like slavery too.. since we had that at the dawn of time?

Mike: Separation of church and state is irrelevant here. Even if it were a strictly religious issue, it still does not violate the Establishment Clause, because EVERY religious tradition of any consequence both now and in ancient times has agreed that marriage is between man and woman. Some have allowed polygamy or polyandry, but even those instances are in the minority, and fundamentally, a marriage was defined between man and woman, NEVER man and man, or woman and woman.

Additionally, EVERY civilization in history also defines marriage as between man and woman. No, the Greeks did not practice gay marriage. Homosexual activity in that culture, to the extent that it existed, was recreational, non-binding, and co-existed with "marriage" which was one man and one woman.

Slavery is irrelevant to this discussion.

Craig: i would ague that you should find out how that first guy is voting, then do the exact opposite

Mike: And I thought liberals were supposed to be champions of independent thought? What is independent or thoughtful about simply doing the opposite of someone else? A childish display of rebellion that ultimately leaves the actor a slave to someone else's decisions. Nate is a thoughtful guy, and will make up his own mind about what he believes is right according to his values. I'm sure he would be appreciative if you contributed something of value to the discussion, Craig.

Craig: everything you argued for is the opposite of what i would tell thoughtful nate. i was just trying to be concise.

Mike: So let's hear it. I provided specific points, details, reasons, and examples, and I have plenty more to back up what I already wrote. Let's hear what you have. Stand behind something and back it up. I'm happy to have a discussion, but simple opposition requires no thought and is never taken seriously by serious people.

Mike: Point of order though, it might be more prudent to point the discussion to an alternate location such as a blog or actual message board, where space and formatting are not so constrained.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Campus concealed carry and my response

In responding to the comments on this article, I posted the following:
"Gun Regulation or GUN freedom is not the issue...The issue is the PEOPLE committing the crimes"

It is true that the people are the problem. People commit crimes. People kill people. HOWEVER! Simply saying that neither total gun regulation or total freedom will fix the problem is stupid. The notion that the only acceptable course of action is the perfect solution simply ensures nothing gets done. It takes no courage or wisdom to say "Everyone's wrong, now let's all be nice to each other and find a better way." That's what we call Utopian Idealism. It didn't work in Kindergarten, and it doesn't work in the real world either.

Policies, actions, etc, can be divided into four categories:

1. Things which produce good results
2. Things which do NOT produce good results
3. Things which produce negative results
4. Things which do NOT produce negative results

Notice that 1 and 4 are not the same thing, nor are 2 and 3. Some items MAY occupy multiple categories, but not necessarily.

So what? Here's what: Excessive gun control at BEST falls into category number 2. There is no good that comes of it in terms of reducing crime. I don't think I need to be specific here in the interest of space, but I'll back this claim up to anyone who challenges it. Apart from doing no good, it is fairly easy to make the case that gun control DOES HARM to the effort of reducing crime. Numerous interviews of felons in and out of prison confirm this: Unarmed victims are targeted because it's easier to do whatever to them. Criminals prey SPECIFICALLY on the weak,
un-armed, and otherwise vulnerable.

On the other hand, allowing good people (we'll restrict this to Concealed Carry Permit -CCP- holders for now) to have access to guns falls into one or more of the other two categories: 4. This does no harm because it doesn't actually effect the criminal population at all. When is the last time someone with criminal intent bothered to get a CCP? And category 1: This actually makes the situation better (note I didn't say SOLVE or FIX. The emphasis is on improvement, positive difference. Not perfection) by creating uncertainty and doubt in the mind of would-be criminals. It also gives the responsible CCP holder something besides a textbook or a chair to throw at an active gunman. No guarantee, no, that's true. But the odds of a positive outcome are greater. Without opposition (CCP holder), there IS however, a guarantee that the crowd is at the gunman's mercy or lack-thereof. The choices here are "Line up to be shot" or "Let's fight it out and maybe the good guys
will win". NOBODY is saying the second option is desirable in and of itself. We don't want people shooting each other. That said, what the pro-freedom folks are arguing is that no matter now messy the second option is, it's still night and day better than the first one because it offers the OPPORTUNITY for a better outcome.

By all means, continue trying to address the root causes and start clubs and get students involved. Get police and security up to snuff on what to do, make disaster plans, teach people what to do. These are GOOD things.. But ALSO allow those who choose to take responsibility for their own lives do so. These are two options that are most definitely NOT either/or.

EDIT: 23:47

In listing the four categories for policies and actions. Notice that intent has nothing to do with it. It doesn't matter what you intended when you supported an idea, or set a policy. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, after all. What matters is the RESULTS. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16) The only question that matters is "Does this accomplish good?" If not, strike it out.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Assumptions of Intention

I had an exchange with an old friend (We'll call him Joe. Not his real name) that made me think. I was responding to the following comment:
Joe is upset that the republicans think it is ok to use palin's daughter and her baby-daddy for their own political gain. All of a sudden teen pregnancy is cool.
As a Palin supporter, naturally, I took exception to this. I responded,
It doesn't have anything to do with political gain or scoring points. They only made the announcement when they did to head off some nasty lying accusations that her 5-month old son was really her grandson. Besides, the knowledge would have become public soon enough anyway with all the attention (good and bad) the family is getting right now. Nobody's saying directly or indirectly that teen pregnancy is cool. You may not like Palin, but at least dislike her for honest reasons.

I was mostly content to leave it at that, I neglected the inherent cynicism involved in such a statement:
I am not saying in any way that it should, or should not have been released. Oh no, I'm saying that they are using this pregnancy for their own political gain, all the way to the teenage father of her baby being glad-handed by a presidential candidate right in front of a staged media event.

Well, okay. So it's about a campaign move? Showing off for the cameras? Fair enough. Campaigns can be slimy things, but I don't think that's what this is:
Eh. Maybe. I don't read into it too much, and like to give people the benefit of the doubt. If you get cynical, it's possible to make the argument that everything that happens on a campaign is a calculated political move. And that road goes both ways. I'd rather concentrate on stuff that matters instead of nitpicking and over-analyzing what may very well be irrelevant, or assuming meaning where there is none. Life's too short to worry about conspiracies and manipulation under EVERY rock.
And then a response so simplistic that I actually found it hard to respond to. I can see a certain truth to it, but as a way of thinking of things, I believe unhelpful at best because it completely reduces a complex issue to a worthless platitude, effectively dismissing further discussion:
Everything in a campaign is a calculated political move, regardless of sides.
Barring of course complete and actual knowledge of what went on behind the scenes, which frankly, I doubt is ever going to be public knowledge. After all, how could it? We don't know the private family discussions leading up to and discussing the announcement, or the arrangements for the fiance to be included in public appearances. How arrogant to assume there was not family discussion and consent, especially with how proactive McCain/Palin were in this. The teenage daughter and fiance were NOT dragged into the spotlight by the media. Although there is little doubt they would have been exposed and attacked eventually anyway, given the flood of slash and slander aimed at the Palins in recent days. My final response thusfar:
Even if true, that doesn't mean "everything" is significant or relevant to everybody or anybody, or that actual intentions are immediately clear, or correctly reported. "Political gain" is too generic; a useless platitude, being that it doesn't really tell us anything without being supported with additional information including an explanation of why it's a good or bad thing. Also, you have to consider what factors, attitudes, and circumstances unknown to you are driving decisions. Was the announcement and subsequent inclusion done with the express and sole intention of gaining political favor? That seems to be the assumption you're working from. Is that fair? Or is it also likely that both the announcement and the appearance at the convention more a statement of "You're going to find out anyway, so you might as well find out from us that we have nothing to hide. Here we are. This is what we are. Come what may."? Two completely different but valid outlooks on the same events.
That response actually went through a couple revisions. At first I included a couple sentences about needing to analyze cause/effect relationships. I removed it partly because of space constraints (I think I was limited to 250 characters or something), but mostly because I didn't think it was a very good way to say what I wanted to get across, and that was the need to think about driving motivations behind a decision. Similar idea to cause effect, which tied in like this: Did the political advantage cause the release of the information? Or did the release of the information for other reasons ALSO happen to have some political impact? My argument is the latter, but trying to frame the question in those terms is awkward at best, because the bit of truth in Joe's statement of "everything in a campaign is a calculated political move..." is that it is likely that whatever the McCain/Palin campaign's reasons for the actions they took, rest assured that they did NOT ignore the political ramifications of those actions.

So while it's true that just about everything a candidate does, and says (at least the stuff that's planned ahead of time) is calculated and analyzed, it does NOT mean that the results of that analysis are the primary decision drivers behind the actions. For instance, John McCain knows that politically, promoting campaign finance reform is harmful to him among the conservative base, he still does it. Case in point right there. Not all decisions are purely politically driven.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Baby Boomer Generation... The root

The reason the baby boomer generation is so spoiled... the baby boom generation itself tends to come from people who just recently endured both the Great Depression and World War 2.

Wouldn't it stand to reason that during the following years, from about 1947 on, that those who had experienced those terrible things would have realized that the source of happiness in the world lies in family life? This explains two things... one being how very much family and socially centered society was in the 50's, as a direct response to the horror of the previous 20 years. The parents raising children in this time would have gone to great lengths to make sure their kids never went through what they did...

But the push was too hard, too far... the spring was pulled too far by the depression/war, now the oscillation went the other way, too far... to the point of TV ads where, "Remember, the woman's place is in the home and dinner should be on by 5" (this could also be a direct backlash from the very necessary period during the war when all the men were off fighting, so the women manned the factories and shipyards).

This gave children two things... an overly protected, idealized childhood, encouraged by a society that, fresh out of war, was rightly determined to do their own personal part to give their children a peaceful life.

Second, by going too far in advertising and pushing family ideals, this paved the way for a NEW backlash, this time going the other way. The modern women's movement being one product (of many).

Except instead of going away or scaling back when it's perfectly good and respectable goals were accomplished, it unleashed, combined with the pampered, self-absorbed generation who never knew sacrifice or true evil in the world, an irresponsible fury that we now see manifest in the modern race, gender and sexuality "leaders" (Think Maureen Dowd, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson)

Friday, January 25, 2008

As it should be

Watch the whole thing:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Editorials: Our View: Guns give meaning to protection | year, old, shot -

Editorials: Our View: Guns give meaning to protection | year, old, shot -

One of those rare newspaper editorials that supports and affirms an individual's right to use force defensively. Note that this was NOT picked up in the NYT or any other major newspaper for that matter. (H/T: Alphecca)

Colorado Springs deserves an award. In three consecutive months, private citizens have taken responsibility to stop violent crime in its tracks, shooting five violent predators. They've sent a powerful message to criminals everywhere, and it goes like this: There's no easy prey in Colorado Springs.


Police can't be the only plan. It's not their primary role to enjoin crimes in progress — an unreasonable expectation of the public. Most cops would like to interrupt violent crime, but it's impossible in almost every case. What if the only hope of congregants at New Life had been the police? Many more could have died — even though the first police units arrived quickly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Good YouTube clip about the Clinton AR ban

The music may be a little over-done, but there's nothing factually incorrect or misleading about the clip. Well worth a watch, especially if you think the Assault Weapons Ban, commonly refered to as the Brady Bill, was a good idea and should be revived.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Manufacturing Hate Crimes

I liked this passage from this Mike Adams Column about people who try to get offended or make up hate crimes...
In 1999, after a UNCW faculty member falsely accused a chair of sexual harassment, she too tried to invoke the language of hate crimes to garner sympathy from the university community. I tried to convince one of my liberal colleagues in the Faculty Senate to press for the punishment of faculty who manufacture false claims of harassment and “hate criminality.” This fell on deaf ears as he suspected that such measures would deter people from making real claims when actually victimized. I stopped short of asking him whether counterfeiting U.S. currency should be made legal lest it deter people from doing their jobs at the U.S. Treasury Department.

A small sampling from one source

Crime did not fall in England after handguns were banned in 1997. Quite the contrary, crime rose sharply. In May, the British government reported that gun crime in England and Wales nearly doubled in the last four years. Serious violent crime rates from 1997 to 2002 averaged 29% higher than 1996; robbery was 24% higher; murders 27% higher. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned, the armed robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels. The violent crime rate in England is now double that in the United States.


Pasted from <>


FBI Crime statistics:


Canada Statistics for last 5 years:


John Lott's website: Author of "More guns, less crime" and "The Bias against guns"

Current Issues Blog:


Academic Papers:


Monday, December 03, 2007

Confessions of a political junkie: How often do candidates do stuff like this without the press around?

Here's an interesting story I came across today:
Today I got an email via my dad that he got from an old high school friend of his. This friend, from Murray, Utah, was forwarding an email from her friend in California, specifically San Diego where fires raged just a short while ago. Apparently, a certain Reed Fisher, whose home and property were damaged by the fire, got a call from someone in the local LDS Church offering to help clean up. After telling them about a burnt tree with 20 year old roots that he had been unable to remove, the brother showed up at 7 AM on a Wednesday morning, along with his father, who turned out to be none other than Mitt Romney...minus the press corp.

Here's the link to the original story:
Confessions of a political junkie: How often do candidates do stuff like this without the press around?

Friday, August 31, 2007

The right to vote. Specifically in Florida

Another placeholder post. I just wanted to capture this thought. Hopefully I'll come back to write more later...

Updated Link -- It's right this time...
"The Voting Rights Act... merely sets forth criteria that cannot be used to deny a vote to certain people if and when the state decides that a vote is going to be held. "

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Time Traveler and the Century War

I wanted to post this, not because I know what I want to do with it or say about it, but I don't want to lose the reference, because I still think about the story occasionally. Heck, I may have already posted it. I'm not sure. I'll figure it out later.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Saw the following comment on This editorial involving women using guns for self defense. I haven't laughed so hard all week. Enjoy!
"Stop, I've got a gun",no,no

What should be said is something to the effect of:

"I've got a gun, keep coming."

"I've got a gun, make my day."

"What part of gun don't you understand."

"Put your fingers in your ears, this thing makes a hell of a racket"

"Which part do you want me to blow off first"

"The next flash you see will be followed by your arrival in hell"

"Let's see, at fifty cents per shot, you're soon going to be worth three dollars"

"Oh boy, a live target for a change"

My advice to all is shoot first and ask for more ammunition. I know, easy for me to say, but scumbag criminals are deserving of a dose of justice also, and since the courts are clogged with future POTUS candidates/lawyers filing frivilous lawsuits, its every citizen's duty to help lessen the backlog.Plan ahead, know that your home is your castle and NO ONE has the right to invade. Protect yourself because the police and courts aren't there when the scumbag is breaking in.Good luck and good shooting!I'm thankful three women are safe today, no thanks to the anti-gun 2A jerks.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bill of non-rights

"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt
ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always willbe.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes. (This one is my pet peeve...get an education and go to
work....don't expect everyone else to take care of you!)

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful. (AMEN!)

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from! (lastly....)

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006



A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Governmentium." Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected because it impedes every action with which it comes into contact. A second's worth of exposure to Governmentium will cause any action to take four hundred times longer to complete, and cost five times as much.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass."

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (aka Bureaucratium) - an element which radiates as much energy as the Governmentium, but has half as many peons and twice as many morons.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rise and fall of a master

Reason: Stand and Deliver Revisited: The untold story behind the famous rise -- and shameful fall -- of Jaime Escalante, America�s master math teacher.

If any of you are familiar with the movie, or perhaps have heard of Escalante's fabulous work, read this.

Monday, March 06, 2006

'Long war' is breaking down into tedium

'Long war' is breaking down into tedium: "Europeans -- if not yet their political class -- are fed up with switching on the TV and seeing Muslim men jumping up and down and threatening death followed by commentators patiently explaining that the 'vast majority' of Muslims are, of course, impeccably 'moderate.' So what? There were millions of 'moderate' Germans in the 1930s, and a fat lot of good they did us or them."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 :: Columns :: Bogus rights by Walter E. Williams - Feb 8, 2006

In a wonderful column by Walter E. Williams, he explains a few things about rights and why things like food, housing, and healthcare are not rights and thus cannot be found anywhere in the constitution.

Let's start with what defines a right:
The way our Constitution's framers used the term, a right is something that exists simultaneously among people and imposes no obligation on another.

Going on,
Contrast that vision of a right to so-called rights to medical care, food or decent housing...If it is said that a person has rights to medical care, food and housing, and has no means of paying, how does he enjoy them? ...So-called rights to medical care, food and decent housing impose an obligation on some other American who, through the tax code, must be denied his right to his earnings. In other words, when Congress gives one American a right to something he didn't earn, it takes away the right of another American to something he did earn.

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don't have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 :: Columns :: What Hamas teaches us about Islam, Iraq, and democracy by Ben Shapiro - Feb 1, 2006 :: Columns :: What Hamas teaches us about Islam, Iraq, and democracy by Ben Shapiro - Feb 1, 2006

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hypocricy of life

Haven't you noticed it's usually the same group of people who "mourn" every american soldier killed and obsess over the body count....the same people who will defend to the death the "right" of a pregnant woman to have her baby slaughtered for any reason whatsoever. Which is it?


Monday, November 21, 2005

Abstinence -- The final solution

It is indisputable that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Therefore, I submit that this is where the majority of the effort should be spent in education.

Consider the following as logical consequences of a widespread total embrace of abstinence, even without any moral considerations:

Primary effects:

1. Unwed pregnancy and births would drop to zero (rape excepted, but we'll address that in a minute)
2. Because of #1, abortions would decline by 99+%
3. Within two generations (if not sooner) STD's would be all but eradicated

Secondary effects:

4. The pornography industry would all but die
5. Due to 4, the incidence of rape per capita would be reduced by 99+%
6. Due to 3, money currently being spent on STD research could be diverted into other endeavors, such as cancer research or refunded as tax cuts. The positive economic impact would be profound.
7. Health care costs across the board would decrease slightly, as doctors, specialists, funds, and resources currently tied up in treating victims of irresponsibility could be distributed back through the medical field and automatically we would have an upsurge in the supply side of medicine and healthcare.
8. Due to 1,2,3 overall quality of living for everybody (but especially the poor, who are hit hardest by the associated problems) would rise dramatically, relieving them almost completely of the burdens associated with single mother households and abusive family situations.
9. Due to 4, overall sadistic crime (sexual assault, murder, domestic abuse) would drop drastically, further contributing to a higher standard of living for all groups of people.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but it is all directly derivative of a simple concept that everybody already knows, but few are willing to accept.

Who's lying about Iraq?

Lots of great references in this piece. It's long but well worth the read.


GM Cuts 30,000 jobs - Business - GM to Close Nine Plants, Lay Off 30,000: "GM has been grappling with high health-care and commodities costs, loss of U.S. market share to foreign rivals, and slumping sales of large sport utility vehicles that used to be its profit centers, but have now lost popularity due to high gasoline prices."


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Vonnegut talks about Terrorists - Updated

Kurt Vonnegut, prominent author and anti-war commentator, has some rather inflammatory comments about terrorists...Or does he?

Upon reading this post at Espella Humanzee, I got to thinking about some of the knee jerk opposition to statements like Vonnegut's: Here's an example from E.H.
"He praised terrorists as "very brave people". I suppose he supports the murder of innocent men, women, and children, too?

I cannot wait for the morally bankrupt sixties generation and their "anti-heros" to pass away into the nothingness that spawned them.

While Vonnegut does add some anti-American, anti-Capitalist statements, I'm more interested in only his statements about the terrorists themselves, and not about the terrorists' reaction to the US, or their supposed purpose. For instance,
"I regard them as very brave people, yes."

Vonnegut suggested suicide bombers must feel an "amazing high". He said: "You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation - it must be an amazing high."

"They are dying for their own self-respect,"

I don't think those comments all by themselves signify support of terrorists...Think of it this way: Adolf Hitler, for as terrible as he was...He really was a great leader. He had a natural talent for stirring up excitement and passion in large crowds. That doesn't mean I support, admire, or condone anything about him, it's a statement of facts.

Any open, intellectually honest discussion must necessarily include a discussion of objective traits, and an honest evaluation. That said, however, I don't think Vonnegut is completely neutral, given his record of strong anti-bush, anti-war. Even still though, even in condemning terrorism, it's okay to recognize and understand some of the things Vonnegut talks about, maybe the anticipation of death, the "high"...Stuff like that...With the caveat that it cannot be allowed to alter the important conclusions of, "these people must not be allowed to do these things". It's all about recognizing what's important and what isn't, and separating what is significant from what is not.

The other parallel I can think of is using Nazi medical knowledge captured after liberating the death camps where these horrible experiments were performed. A good civilization would never perform those experiments, and, having knowledge of them, would move heaven, earth and hell to stop them...But after all efforts have been made, upon discovery of the completed work...There should be no reason not to integrate the knowledge into modern science. The simple mind believes that the method of collection dictates the use, but in reality, the method of collection and the data itself are unrelated.

Back to Vonnegut and objective characteristics of terrorists, there are three questions, "what motivates them?", "what do they do?", and "what should we do about them?". The first question is irrelevant to the other two, which are actionable.

Additionally, Vonnegut's statement, "They are dying for their own self-respect," I believe is true, but not for the reasons he cites. Ultimately all people are driven by a need to feel important, or respected. This is always variable depending on that person's hierarchy of values. For the suicide bomber, they're out to define themselves as dying for a cause they believe in. It doesn't matter if the cause is good, bad, or indifferent... The important thing to them is they believe it is, and derive their worth, self-respect and mission from it. Where I disagree with Vonnegut is in his assertion that it has been the USA corporations that have deprived these people of their self-respect. Nobody can take away another person's self respect without the consent of that person.

Update 11/21 10:46: I want to add comments and discussion directly to the original to get more exposure, because there is more to understand.

Comment from Espella Humanzee
I don't understand how blowing up an innocent Iraqi child into dozens of bloody pieces can be termed a brave act.
I can't comprehend how any human being can derive their self respect by exploding a bomb in the midst of joyous wedding party.
I won't explain away the act of beheading a young man as he is bound and screaming for his life.
Vonnegut uses methods and madness of the left to excuse barbaric inhuman behavior. These monsters don't need to be explained or understood. They need to be stopped.

Bravery and honor should not be used interchangeably. Usually they are used together, but when you stop and think about it, they are fundamentally different concepts. Blowing up a busload of children is evil, barbaric, and sadistic. I think "brave" would need more examination. The use of language is a delicate art, really. I think when we throw around words too much, they lose their real meaning. Such as the left calling everything they disagree with "hate speech". It has become so that the word "hate" has lost all real meaning. Similarly, bravery and honor are used together so often and so completely that when one is used, the other is assumed to be implied. Such is not always the case.
Keep in mind, I'm not "explaining away" or supporting Vonnegut or any of the left's defenses of terrorism, merely using them as a springboard for discussion on the use of language and precise definitions. Even when those definitions have connotations usually reserved for contradictory ideas.
One definition of bravery is, "a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger of pain without showing fear."
By a strict definition, could the bombers be exhibiting bravery by facing death without fear? On a personal level (personal to the individual bomber), I think that could be an accurate descriptor. Does this imply honor or any form of goodness? Most certainly not. Perhaps as a general strategy (as applied to a group, the terrorists), bravery would have no application at all. As we know, the majority of the actual suicide bombers are young, naive recruits who are invigorated by rhetoric and indoctrination, who then show up at a camp and say, "I want to die for the glory of Allah." The USE of these young men has no shred of bravery, but does that necessarily mean bravery cannot be exhibited on an individual level?
On self respect, are not these same young men taught that it is respectful to die killing infidels? Few humans will act voluntarily in a manner inconsistent with their value systems, from which they decide what they feel is good and respectful and what is not. The fact that these people have horribly wrong, twisted, purely evil views, does not negate the fact that they feel what they are doing is good.
The important difference in analysis is in the belief that not all value systems are of equal value. Those who use this same language to excuse immoral behavior (or more accurately to demonize those who they mutually disagree with) believe that there is no such thing as good and evil, or that the feelings they are explaining are justified because of actions taken against the group in question. Whereas a different world view states that it even with an understanding of evil behavior, this behavior is still evil, and to come to the conclusion, "we are right and they are wrong", or more generally, "This behavior is evil and other behavior is good in and of itself, independent of the motivations behind it".

Update 2 11/21 11:13:

I also don't believe the goals of understanding and eradication are mutually exclusive. They may not be co-dependant, but that doesn't mean some of the characteristics can't be spoken of accurately. No praise is necessary, but I believe accuracy and clarity in describing both actions, and right/wrong is absolutely essential. Any time fact/truth has to be ignored to avoid weaking a popular position, the validity of the position needs to be evaluated, and/or the conclusions drawn from the facts need to be re-examined. Is that not the very concept we try to argue to liberals when they ignore things like the WMDs that have been found in Iraq, or that the senate voted to authorize war?

I'm not saying the conclusions need to change, I'm just saying that accurate description of motivations of terrorists does not affect the validity of the need to eliminate and/or restrain their ability to make the rest of our lives' miserable.

Update 3 11/21 11:44:
An exactly accurate description of something must necessarily agree with a perfect moral judgement. It does everyone a disservice to dismiss all discussion based on a pre-existing moral conclusion or vice versa. This is not to say the pre-existing conclusion is wrong, or that discussion can or should alter the conclusion, but what's wrong with understanding the world? My whole point is that it is possible to simultaneously make a moral judgement and an intellectual evaluation, and have both be 100% valid independent of one another.
The reason this doesn't happen much is because nobody on earth has a perfect knowledge of how to accurately evaluate all things, therefore percieved descrepencies in an objective evaluation vs a moral judgement must necessarily come from an incomplete understanding of one or the other. Or both.

The House thinks we're there to stay

403 - 3.

That's the vote against immediate pullout from Iraq in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is a good thing, and might help undo some of the damage caused by that idiotic vote in the Senate earlier in the week.'

Update: Great commentary from Powerline

More on WMDs and Inspections

Where the WMDs Went is an interview with Bill Tierney, "a former military intelligence officer...also an inspector (1996-1998) for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) for overseeing the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in Iraq. He worked on the most intrusive inspections during this period and either participated in or planned inspections that led to four of the seventeen resolutions against Iraq."

You wanna know what the inspectors "didn't" find? read this article

New Iraq Documents and WMD info

Espella Humanzee | Conservative Man: Playing with Grenades -- He found it first...but the direct link is just below:

Apparently the Iraq Survey Group weapons search team has found some incriminating documents adding to the list of evidence tying Saddam to Al Qaida, and proving that he actively hid WMD.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Political Poseur - Pretending to be a Republican in Blue California. By Richard Rushfield

Political Poseur - Pretending to be a Republican in Blue California. By Richard Rushfield

Wednesday, November 16, 2005



Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good news....if only

Wouldn't it be so nice to have a news channel where, 24/7 they reported good news? I think that would be a real great break from the body counts, the missing children, the murders, the environmental disasters, high gas prices, and all that stuff. I wonder what kind of capital expense it takes to start up a cable news channel? I know Fox News Channel was up and going for years before it ever really gained traction. Would people have to discover it on their own? Would other news networks cover it like everybody did when Air America Radio started up?

I don't know the first thing about creating a news channel, but if I could, I think I would. I'd make one that spent most of it's time on good news...focusing on what is good about America and the world, the successful aspects of the War on Terror, updates on good economic developments, encouragement from our neighbors, etc. I bet it could be done with the right combination of optimistic people, and some investment money.

So, anybody willing to lend me some money and see if it can be done? I'm willing to give it a shot.

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