Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Odds and ends 11/5/2014

“Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague, and famine.” (Jeremiah 34:17)

Parental rights will be legally redefined because of the parentage problem we’ve introduced through artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. The UK Guardian reports:

In written rulings, he said the two couples – who can be identified only as Father 1 and Father 2, and Mother 1 and Mother 2 – had begun as friends. Two girls – known to the court only as A and B – were born, both the “biological children” of Father 1 and Mother 1.

Then, in a case that the judge said showed the potential problems of “known-donor fertilisation”, the legal wrangling began. The “fathers” applied to have contact with the children, but found the mothers opposed to the move.

Why should there be only two parents? Modernity has yet to provide an answer. This rabbit hole leads to Brave New World, wherein parenthood is viewed much as we now view most things 30 or 50 years in the past: with airy condescension.

A British judge gives euthanasia of the disabled the green light. Here’s the takeaway:

The judge ruled that she had no quality of life anymore, and therefore, she should be killed by refusing to give her any food or water until she died.

At the Institute for Ethics and & Emerging Technologies, Rick Searle writes a fascinating review of Tyler Cowen’s The Average is Over. Don’t miss the point about social conservatism’s value to the poor at the end.

The world of work presented in Cowen’s Average is Over is almost exclusively that of the middle class and higher who find their way with ease around the Infosphere, or whatever we want to call this shell of information and knowledge we’ve built around ourselves. Either that or those who thrive economically will be those able to successfully pitch whatever it is they’re selling to wealthy or well off buyers, sometimes even with the help of AI that is able to read human emotions.

I wish Cowen had focused more on what it will be like to be poor in such a world. One thing is certain, it will not be fun. For one, he sees further contraction rather than expansion of the social safety net, and widespread conservatism, rather than any attempts at radically new ways of organizing our economy, society and politics. Himself a libertarian conservative, Cowen sees such conservatism baked into the demographic cake of our aging societies. The old do not lead revolutions and given enough of them they can prevent the young from forcing any deep structural changes to society.

Cowen also has a thing for so-called “moral enhancement” though he doesn’t call it that. Moral enhancement need not only come from conservative forces, as the extensive work on the subject by the progressive James Hughes shows, but in the hands of both [Adrian] Hon and Cowen, moral enhancement is a bulwark of conservative societies, where the world of middle class work and the social safety net no longer function, or even exist, in the ways they had in the 20th century.

Hon with his neuroscience background sees moral enhancement leveraging off of our increasing mastery over the brain, but manifesting itself in a revival of religious longings related to meaning, a meaning that was for a long time provided by work, callings and occupations that he projects will become less and less available as we roll through the 21st century with human workers replaced by increasingly intelligent machines. Cowen, on the other hand, sees moral enhancement as the only way the poor will survive in an increasingly competitive and stingy environment, though his enhancement is to take place by more traditional means, the return of strict schools that inculcate victorian era morals such as self-control and above all conscientiousness in the young. Cowen is far from alone in thinking that in an era when machines are capable of much of the physical and intellectual labor once done by human beings what will matter most to individual success is ancient virtues.

I wrote this about the so-called “end of work” a year ago. I stand by my claims, but I’m more scared of a post-human technological singularity than I was before.

Commenter “Gutenberg” quibbles with my criticism of libertarians:

There’s a big miscommunication here, you’re talking about autonomy, the libertarians are talking about liberty. Autonomy is the greatest possible scope to human action, which can be increased through the welfare state, whereas liberty is choice so long as you deal with the consequences. I would argue that liberty is actually naturally conservative, because when you have to deal with the consequences of your actions, you tend to be more prudent.

Are legal weed and marriage whatever-ism prudent, or are they destructive? Tell me whether the transparently ill effects of these two developments has made people more personally responsible, or less.

It’s articles like this one that assured I never would become a libertarian.

“My own stance on gay marriage can be summed as: ‘whatever.’”–Robert Tracinski

Someone I respect personally said the Republican candidates for Texas attorney general and lieutenant governor will do more to destroy the Republican Party than the Democrats, and therefore he wouldn’t vote for them. This strikes me as the tail wagging the dog. You don’t sacrifice the state to preserve the party. When I think of the trouble liberals can cause the rest of us, voting for unlikable, incompetent, unprincipled Republicans is easy.

The other race I was watching was Bexar County judge. To candidate Carlton Soules I rewarded my vote for his stalwart opposition to the narcissist ordinance and the absurdly expensive streetcar plan. He lost, and Prop 1 passed.

“Colonel Dan” swallows the red pill:

Reviewing some concepts of the opposing philosophies, traditionalists generally believe in the former while statists generally believe in the latter: Individual freedom vs. societal control; Limited government vs. expansive government; Independence vs. dependence; Self-reliance and personal responsibility vs. government reliance and “shared” responsibility; Freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion; Equal opportunity vs. equal outcome; Private property vs. public property; National sovereignty vs. world government; States rights vs. federal rights; The money you earn is yours vs. the money you earn is ours; “Shall not be infringed” pertains to the right to keep and bear arms vs. pertaining to political ambition.

This country is now so divided in basic values and polarized in philosophy that I see no clear path to a reconciliation of these two opposing camps.

Continued coexistence would require not compromise, but submission, because this confrontation involves diametrically opposed principles and I don’t cotton to compromising principles. As I’ve written before, compromise of principle is no compromise—it’s surrender and traditionalists are unwilling to surrender their principles.

“… in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” ~ Thomas Jefferson ~

Attacks on our Constitutional principles are clearly an attack on the country because it seeks to obliterate many of those principles and goes against the very foundation upon which we’ve built our lives. I sense dark clouds on America’s horizon regarding philosophical unification vs. separation and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. We faced separation issues in our past so why should our future be any different? As Jefferson did in the Declaration of his day, I believe causes that impel separation, are being unmistakably declared today by these opposing ideological camps and some form of separation is becoming more of a possibility than it has been in 150 years.

Heather Wilhelm goes off on Millennials and their Boomer/Generation X parents:

A friend of mine who teaches at an affluent, competitive high school on Chicago’s North Shore says that many parents have simply checked out. “These kids act like they’re 23, but they have the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old. They can hold doors open for people, but they can’t cope with even minimal conflict in their life. Their parents have made sure that they don’t feel any awkwardness, ever.” When it comes to things like SAT scores, he notes, parents are on top of it like Yogi Bear with a stolen picnic basket. When it comes to moral questions, they’re happy to let technology—like, say, the $600 phone with unlimited access to porn—take the lead.

In American culture, there are a few basic, commonly accepted commandments, and “Thou Shalt Not Judge Other Parents (Except When It Comes to the Issue of Breastfeeding)” is way up there in the pantheon. Well, buckle your seatbelts, amigos, because I’m about to open a big can of judge. If you forget to tell your teenager that drunken sex with a complete stranger is a bad idea, you are likely doing a bad job. If your child’s entire sense of morality and ethics is learned in the first week of freshman orientation, you might be failing as a parent. And if your 14-year-old—many apologies, as this one might be controversial—cannot make it through dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse without their iPad, you’ve probably earned those dirty looks from the waitress.

That last one may seem off-topic, but it’s true. For a child, dinner at a restaurant without constant entertainment teaches self-control, communication skills, and delayed gratification—all skills many privileged, sophisticated college students seem to lack. Social dysfunction is not created overnight, and parenting, it’s worth remembering, involves tiny little lessons taught over and over. That’s probably why it’s so exhausting.

Who would you rather have: Trotsky or Mussolini?

She doesn’t leave Democrats off the hook either. In an interview with Salon, she said of Obama, when “the going got tough, his economic team picked Wall Street... Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education...”

Pronouncements like that keep Warren’s name in the mix of potential White House candidates, which she insists is of no interest to her. Yet the super-liberal wing of the Democratic Party revels in the Wall Street-rigging gospel according to Warren, and sees her as an alternative to Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post reports on the jihad in Canada:

One of two Canadian soldiers hit by a car in a city near Montreal has died and authorities are examining whether the driver’s links to radical Islam had spurred the attack. Neighbors said he was a recent convert.


The suspect, Martin Couture Rouleau, 25, was shot by police following a car chase and later died.

An official familiar with the case confirmed the suspect’s name and that he had fallen under the influence of radical Islam.

Talk about driving under the influence!

Iraq had WMDs. Colin Powell can apologize for his apology for lying at the UN. C. Edmund Wright summarizes:

The WMD issue was one of the major public relations snafus of the Bush Administration, and the whole effort in the War on Terror. And the costs of these mistakes are catastrophic and still mounting. Those include, but are not limited to the 2006 midterms, the 2008 Presidential election, the 2012 Presidential election—and oh, the development of a little outfit known as ISIS / ISIL / IS etc. The costs are incalculable. The electorate, over the course of the years of Bush being hammered about lying on the issue of WMDs, hardened toward Bush—and by extension—all Republicans and even all conservatives. We still have this hangover today! Ask a man named Romney.

So what is [Karl] Rove’s part? He was the mastermind and chief proponent of the “new tone” White House communications strategy—a strategy of never engaging the other side in a public debate. This unfortunately was the theory that carried the day in 2005-06 on WMDs as well. Consider this from The Daily Beast article:

From the perspective of Rick Santorum...the weapons of mass destruction President Bush promised would be in Iraq...began turning up as early as 2004. Santorum said he and his staff began receiving photographs of discarded sarin and mustard-gas shells from U.S. soldiers in 2004. Two years later, when he was up for re-election, Santorum even went public with some of this information in a press conference disclosing a Pentagon report that found 500 chemical-weapons shells had been found in Iraq.

So, in Santorum’s mind, exonerating Bush on the issue of WMDs would be a good thing to do, especially in a campaign season. Of course it would. But what did “the architect” say about this?

The Bush White House wasn’t interested. “We don’t want to look back,” Santorum recalled Rove as saying (though Santorum stressed he was paraphrasing). “I will say that the gist of the comments from the president’s senior people was ‘We don’t want to look back, we want to look forward.’”

Pete Hoekstra, who was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, corroborated Santorum’s story in an interview with [American Thinker] Monday. “As we’re (Santorum and Hoekstra) trying to help the Administration, the harshest critics we have are from the Administration. There’s no doubt to me there’s a cover up—the vast majority of the information we have now is stuff we were asking about in 2005 and 2006 and they never told us about it.”

A senior advisor to Dick Cheney, Dave Wurmser, confirmed, saying “in 2005-06, Karl Rove and his team blocked public disclosure of these (findings) and said ‘Let these sleeping dogs lie; we have lost that fight so better not to remind anyone of it.’”

So there you go. Let sleeping dogs lie.

“It takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance—this Court does not venture an answer here—to interpret Windsor’s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.” –Juan Pérez-Giménez

Noble sentiments from his honor, but we know in what direction judicial logic flows.

My comments on the Windsor case here.

Allen West, or someone writing for him, asks familiar questions re: same-sex marriage:

I just have to ask a simple question — how is it that the 14th Amendment of equal protection under the law is extended to include behavioral choices? Yep, I hear all the progressive socialist and radical gay agenda groups just fuming, but I’m asking a serious question. Sexuality is a behavior, not a race, nor a creed, not a gender — albeit in the war of refining language that is the goal — how do you make law regarding behavior? How does behavior become a protected class? Don’t give me the ol’ states used to have bans on interracial marriage argument because that’s not a valid comparison — that involved discrimination based upon race.

How does an entire country give preferences to a group — a small but vocal minority — based upon the choice of sexuality? It is rather hard for me to change my race, but if gay people decide to be bisexual, then do they receive different equal protections under the law? Or what happens if a gay person decides to be heterosexual — what gay rights do they lose and how are they unequally protected under the law?

Red McCombs, one of the biggest Raiders boosters in San Antonio, lets the cat out of the bag:

McCombs says it might not be the Raiders who move to San Antonio, with the NFL pushing the team to move back to Los Angeles if it moves anywhere. But McCombs has laid out a plan for an AFL franchise to start playing in the Alamodome, which has already been vetted by Raiders officials and found to be satisfactory.

“Five years, you stay there, we will find a place between here and Austin and build you a stadium,” he said. “I think that’s what’s gonna happen.”

By “we,” he means taxpayers.

San Antonio can’t support arena football, let alone an NFL franchise. The Talons formerly of Tulsa lasted two seasons here before folding. Let’s hope this fact weighs heavily on Mark Davis’s mind as he ponders moving.

By the way, the Raiders are the NFL’s worst franchise. Even by California standards, they have terrible fans. And, at 0-8, they’re already statistically eliminated from the playoffs. Why would any San Antonian without a financial stake in the endeavor want them?

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