Friday, May 23, 2008

Voting Advice You Can Live Without

"Icahn Says Obama Would Be 'Terrible' U.S. President".

Yes, because when I decided who to vote for in an election, nothing sways me more than the judgment of corporate raiders and evangelical nutjobs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dinesh D'Souza's D'Shonest D'rivel

Dinesh D'Souza is an arrogant prick. He is also ignorant. And did I mention dishonest?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Less English

On TBS, I am not kidding: "More movie, less commercials." Really? Not fewer commercials, "less commercials"? Well I guess that's what I get for having "The Replacements" on.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Blog?

Different people blog for different reasons. Some blog because they have some genuine knowledge to contribute to society. Some blog because they want to have a forum for the discussion of ideas they are interested in. Some do because they like the idea of having a pulpit to preach from. Such is the case of The Constructive Curmudgeon, a blog run by Dr. Groothuis, a professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary. Its "mission statement" reads:
This is a forum for reflection on culture, ethics, philosophy, and theology. The views posted by me here are my own, and do not represent any institution with which I may be affiliated. Being a curmudgeon has nothing to do with rudeness or incivility, but means the willingness to sniff out the truth and expose lies and spin as best one can in humility.

Considering that Dr. Groothuis's stated aim is "to sniff out the truth and expose lies and spin as best one can in humility", it is hard to understand both why he chooses to disable comments on a growing number of his posts (up to and including deleting whole threads), and also why he insists on levelling baseless accusations against those he disagrees with (one might say despises). Take, as an example, Dr. Groothuis's list of ten reasons against voting for Sen. Obama in the November election (IF Obama is the candidate):

1. Far more abortions, and your tax dollars paying for it.
2. Defeat in Iraq and Afganistan [sic].
3. Coddling terrorists.
4. "Talking" to dictators.
5. Race based politics at every level.
6. Another 9/11 attack in the US.
7. Further legitimation of homosexual "unions."
8. More state spending and bigger national debt.
9. Unlimited support for embryonic stem cell research.
10. No securing of the national borders.

(You can find this list, if the post has not been deleted, here.)*
Keep in mind that the above list was posted by Dr. Groothuis in a thread he opened, which ended with the following quote:
America, wake up! Romantic and irrational idealism is not the stuff of American politics in a post-9/11 world. Don't take a leap of political faith. Think through all the issues rationally. Pursue political knowledge.

How ironic, eh?

This was my reply to the list:

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10 are baseless accusations, an example of reptilian logic. You either know it and are willfully misleading readers who are predisposed to take anything you say as "law", or don't know it and are inexcusably misinformed. Or maybe they are based on biblical prophecy, in which case you might want to illuminate your claims with examples.

4. Why the quotes on "Talking"? Reagan, Bush father and Bush son all talked to dictators. In foreign policy, you don't only talk to those who share your world view.

7. If you truly believe that gay marriages are going to bring down society as we know it, go to Holland, Belgium or Canada, then report back. I won't even dignify the thought of the slippery slope argument, because it is a ridiculous one.

8. a) In the wake of a president who has given us the biggest national debt in history, that is some accusation! b) In a time of financial crisis one might actually need to expand the national debt, to invest money and revive a floundering economy. Think New Deal.

So, expanding the national debt is not necessarily evil. It depends on whom it benefits (the nation at large or your cronies), and why you do it.

9. I can think of much worse uses of public money (for example, faith-based initiatives).

P.S. McCain WOULD actually speak to terrorists.

I post my reply to Dr. Groothuis's list here because, you guessed it, Dr. Groothuis saw it fit to delete it, and it alone among the responses to the original thread. Perhaps he did so because he objected to my use of the word reptilian (defined by Merriam Webster as "cold-bloodedly treacherous"), or perhaps it was my suggestion that Dr. Groothuis is either willfully deceiving his readers or that he is guiltily misinformed. Either way, it seems pretty thin-skinned to delete a response just because it highlights the baselessness of statements one made previously.

Some, no doubt, will defend Dr. Groothuis's decision, holding that my response was of the ad hominem kind or perhaps that I have crossed some line of respect or decency. In that case, I would like to ask them what standard of decency they are upholding when they fail to challenge Dr. Groothuis for saying that voting for Obama will lead to "another 9/11 attack in the US." I think reptilian is a more accurate description than decent for that kind of statement.

So, people blog for different reasons. The Constructive Curmudgeon looks more and more like a pulpit. The Daily Fuel is a forum. I will publish anything, short of spamming and obscenities, and I will respond to as much as I possibly can.

Perhaps I will be banned from The Constructive Curmudgeon. If so, I wouldn't be the first. But I do have one question for evangelical Christians like Dr. Groothuis: what specific teachings of Jesus are they promoting to the world when they censor or delete the speech of those who disagree with them?

* By the way, if you are interested in finding out what Obama actually thinks on some of the topics that Dr. Groothuis accuses him about, follow the links below. (I reserve the right to add to the list as time allows).

Obama on gay marriage
Obama on Iraq
Obama's fiscal policy (Contrast this with Republican fiscal policy, which has given us the largest deficits in U.S. history. The best "deficit" years since 1980? Under the lone Democratic president: Bill Clinton. See another interesting chart here.)
Obama on race
Obama on border security/immigration
And while it is impossible to judge Obama's performance on abortion until after he becomes President (one would hope), abortions have steadily declined in the United States since peaking in 1989 (under the other President Bush), including under President Clinton. While it is not clear how, Dr. Groothuis's truth sniffing nose, as is often the case, seems to have malfunctioned in service of the preconceived Rushdoonyist/Norquistian view of how society should work that he peddles on his blog.

Parroting Points

Someone in the Republican camp comes up with the talking points, and the minions parrot them. Sometimes they get caught doing so. Kudos to Chris Matthews (never thought I'd say that) for a job well done. Four more years of this crap, and I will choke on my own vomit.

Oh, How I Wish I Had The Wit

The Discoveryless Institute. (The folks who brought you Creationism in disguise, without the scientific research). Way to call a spade a spade!

(Only 9 hits on google so far, but I hope it becomes hugely popular, really fast!)

Was It Judicial Activism?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of California struck down a ban on marriages between homosexuals. Immediately, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council decried the decision as a typical case of judicial activism in which the court overrode the will of the people. Too bad, the Family Research Council actually fought to have the will of the majority overturned when "the people of Oregon passed a law authorizing voluntary assisted suicide for the terminally ill." (I know, the hypocrisy is stunning, but then we are talking about the Family Research Council and Tony Perkins.) You can read a perfectly scathing and brief account of the FRC's duplicity in this article, courtesy of Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Keep in mind that if the will of the people were the law of the land, with no regard for the principle of equality between human beings written into U.S. law by people more enlightened than most Founding Fathers (ooh, sacrilege!), segregation would likely be alive and well in this country, not to mention child labor, no vote for women, etc. (And don't be fooled, that is exactly what the Rehnquist and the Roberts courts, with abominable Justices like Scalia and Thomas, stand for when they reject legal principles that have brought us equal rights for women, blacks, and homosexuals.)

Unlike most of the people who will come out to criticize the SCC's decision in the blogosphere, I actually had the good fortune of hearing the arguments made by both sides as C-Span broadcast the recorded SCC sessions a couple of months ago (and between 1 and 4 am, on a working day). I knew I needed to sleep, but the arguments presented were so fascinating that I was glued to the TV set. The line of questioning by the members of the *predominantly conservative* court and the arguments presented by the attorneys (particularly those by Therese Stewart) were riveting. Having heard the arguments, and the many references to other landmark cases in California's history, particularly those on interracial marriages (see references to Perez v. Sharp in the Court's opinion), the Court's decision seems right on the mark.

Finally, to preempt the claim that this decision should/will be reversed because it was rendered by a rather divided court (three of the seven justices concurring with Justice George, with two more both concurring and dissenting), let me quote one very important reference in the opinion to the Court's decision in the Perez case: "The decision in Perez, although rendered by a deeply divided court, is a judicial opinion whose legitimacy and constitutional soundness are by now universally recognized."

If you are interested, you can view the pdf here.

P.S. For the record: I am happily married (to a woman), have no stake in this fight (other than the fact that I would like to see fellow human beings be treated equally) and do not think that churches should be forced to marry homosexuals. May the unequal treatment of homosexuals, at least in the eyes of California law, rest in peace.
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