02.07.11

Dead blog

Posted in General at 10:54 pm by Clay

My web-related energy has gone more into making checkoutthemes.com and its related themes than thinking about content for here. I also know that my audience is small, and my righteous indignation over some illogical / factually incorrect thing hasn’t been enough to make it worth the time to make up a decent post.

So, at this point this is a dead blog. I may revive this blog in the future, but I’d have to have a solid reason to regularly put new content up.

If you’ve enjoyed the content on here, send me an e-mail — I love political discussion, so long as it’s civil and respectful.

08.27.10

Steve Chapman is Against Organ Donation

Posted in General at 1:36 pm by Clay

…or so I’d have to assume.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan is reputed to have said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

I like this quote, as I try as hard as possible to be fair and accurate with my opinions. I also try to respect the opinions of others when the difference is because of some basic belief, rather than a factual difference. So, for instance, I tend to respect both sides of the abortion debate because it’s a clash of different belief systems.

Stem cell research, on the other hand, has arguments like the one put forward today by Steve Chapman, which included:

What’s wrong with destroying a 5-day-old embryo that would be discarded anyway? Nothing, unless you think there is something wrong with killing a human embryo ostensibly for some greater good.

This is directly equivalent to saying, “What’s wrong with killing a 25-year-old car crash victim who’s now brain dead and will be completely dead in a few hours? Nothing, unless you think there is something wrong with killing a 25-year-old for some greater good.” Well, yes, some(if not most) people are squeamish about organ donation, but almost everyone believes that organs are better used than rotting in the ground.

In other words, you’re not choosing between killing or not killing a human embryo, you’re choosing whether you think its life should consist of being thrown in the trash or possibly saving someone else’s life.

He continues:

If there is nothing wrong with that, though, it’s hard to see what’s wrong with destroying an embryo that is 5 weeks old or 5 months old, if its tissue could be used to help people who are seriously ill. In that case, why limit research to leftover embryos? It would make more sense to let scientists create embryos and let them gestate for months, for the sole purpose of destroying them for their stem cells.

This quote, on the other hand, is factually wrong(or unfair) for a couple of reasons. An embryo has pluripotent stem cells, meaning that the cells can become any type of body tissue. At 5 weeks old, the embryo has stem cells that have already differentiated, and are much less likely to be helpful. So far as I understand, there isn’t much of a difference between those and adult stem cells.

The second reason is that the research he describes would intentionally create fetuses for the express purpose of scientific research, which is a wildly different moral question. Hypothetically, it might still be justifiable research, but it’s not the much easier moral question that stem-cell research is.

04.16.10

Enemy of Freedom: Obama Administration

Posted in Privacy at 1:44 pm by Clay

Continuing my over-the-top characterization of political figures being an enemy of freedom because they’d gladly take away basic rights in order to further their goals, I’d like to point my finger at the Obama Administration for effectively saying that, because the internet makes it easier to get information from citizens, it should be legally easier to get said information.

In this particular case, the government would like to look at people’s e-mail on Yahoo without a search warrant.

Now, as this Slashdot post points out, it’s the internet, so it’s totally different, but how isn’t this covered in the fourth amendment?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Rather, even if there’s some legal loophole or some friendly judge who deems it okay, why would any reasonable person think that e-mails deserve less protection than “papers” left in, oh, a safe-deposit box?

I understand that the Obama administration wants to protect us from the terrorists, but there should be a legally bright line or two that says, “No, the government should not have this power in pursuit of terrorists.”, if only because the definition of terrorist might get overly broad. And one of the most obvious bright lines to set is to say that the executive branch has to get the go ahead from the judicial branch before spying on people. Is it really that onerous of a condition?

04.13.10

Partial Logic

Posted in General at 9:24 am by Clay

Recently, Mike Huckabee said a few things that reasonably offended gay people(that gay marriage is comparable to incest) and atheists(that they have no moral grounding).

I’m not going to argue either of those things, since a reasoned individual should already understand where Huckabee is coming from, and why gay people and atheists would have reason to take offense.

What I’d like to point out is Huckabee’s reasoning with this quote:

“You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal,” he said of same-sex marriage. “That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”

Okay, so pretty much everyone would agree that some “behavioral patterns that (are) against the ideal” should never be accommodated. He points out same-sex marriage, drugs, incest, and polygamy. I’d add murder, violence of most types, most theft, and most things that put others in danger.

Okay, great; we all agree on at least most of those. Now, why? Why should the force of the government be put behind stopping such things? Well, for the ones I brought up, we have the fact that one person’s whims are likely to cause someone else’s injury.

The harm principle applies to incest, and even to polygamy, as as surplus of males often leads to violence.

Drugs? Well, drug addicts have done their share of damage to society. I’m not certain it’s any worse than the damage alcoholics have done, but I see the point.

Gay marriage? No one is directly harmed.

So, opposition to gay marriage must come from something else. Therefore it is not a directly comparable issue.

So, Huckabee’s “partial logic” is that his statement is perfectly reasonable, but only if there were some common, underlying reason. As far as I can tell, the underlying reason is Huckabee’s moral code.

I doubt that an argument coming from a moral code would ever be convincing to someone who doesn’t share that particular moral code.

10.04.09

Enemy of Freedom: Glenn Beck

Posted in Freedom of Speech at 5:29 pm by Clay

Congratulations, Glenn Beck — I now think of you as an enemy of freedom because you’ll try almost anything to shut down those who disagree with you.

Lacking expanded-basic cable, I was mostly unaware of Glenn Beck until recently. Perhaps you don’t know of him, either.

Well, evidently he’s a political talk show host who will make or repeat allegations, then expect a person to prove their innocence.

Someone evidently objected to his methods, and launched glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com discussing the allegations against Glenn Beck.

Now, this is an obvious parody site ripping into Beck because of the alleged damage Beck does to political speech.

Notice the key words “parody” and “political speech”? Either of those things would make it very difficult to overcome first-amendment concerns.

So, what was the seemingly obvious answer for Glenn Beck? Ask the World Intellectual Property Organization to give him the domain because people might think that Glenn Beck put up such a website.

The legal response to that claim is amusing on its own, and I’ll admit I don’t really have much to add — I’m just hoping to help Glen Beck out a bit with his personal Streisand Effect.

01.09.09

Is it possible to emerge repeatedly?

Posted in General at 12:38 am by Clay

From Politico:

Sen. Kit Bond, the senior Republican from Missouri who sits on powerful Senate committees, announced Thursday that he will not run for reelection in 2010, giving Democrats a shot to pick up a seat in a state that has emerged as a major battleground.

While Missouri had the closest vote of any state in the 2008 US Presidential election, it managed to send its electoral votes to McCain.  Missouri last voted for the losing candidate in 1956, and before that, in 1900.  Since the United States hasn’t had terribly long strings of single-party presidential rule, I’m inclined to think that Missouri emerged as a major battleground in 1904.

Disclaimer: an officeholder deciding not to run again almost always makes an election more of a battleground.  I have to assume that Missouri’s senate election in 2010 will be significantly more competitive than the election of 2004.

01.08.09

Post comments without logging in

Posted in General at 11:51 pm by site admin

I’m not sure if this’ll bring more spammers in, but it is now possible to post a comment without logging in.

Edit:  It brought more spammers in, and the feature has been turned off.  I may turn it on for short periods of time after posting, though.

09.13.08

Conceivable Answers

Posted in Letters to the Editor at 6:20 pm by Clay

Since the presidential election is coming up shortly, I figured I should get back to writing a few things at Moderate Wacko. Oddly enough, it’s harder to write during this time period, as I keep absorbing an absolutely massive quantity of news stories — by the time I get annoyed by a story, there are three more that are just as annoying. So I keep reading and not blogging.

Well, time for me to add to the noise of the internet again.

Here is a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, September 10th. Considering how short it is, I’ll quote the entire thing:

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s discussion of Gov. Sarah Palin “actually pushing the combination of professional and personal ambitions beyond the sensibilities of this generation of working moms,” raises a question I had wonder about as well (“Let’s Talk About Palin’s Family Challenges,” op-ed, Sept. 6).

Why in the world would she subject herself to such horrible treatment by the press particularly when she had a fantastic life in Alaska?

While recently reading “John Adams,” “founding Brothers,” “1776,” “Team of Rivals,” etc., I asked myself the same question about those people who chose to push themselves beyond comfortable and meaningful lives to endure excruciating discomfort for the purest of political endeavors.

The only conceivable answer is that there are special people who are compelled to make a difference for their country — they cannot refuse.
Jacquie Woodward
Harrodsburg, Ky

Evidently it’s inconceivable that there are some people who are so power hungry that they’ll put their families through anything in the quest for power and a form of immortality.

01.22.08

Subconscious Race

Posted in General at 10:36 pm by Clay

On page D3 in the local section of today’s Wisconsin State Journal was an article about a Blackhawk Technical College brochure. Its cover featured a photograph of adults and two children with a caption that originally said, “A Family Affair: BTC is the perfect fit for the White family.”

This, quite reasonably, drew some complaints as being a rather poor choice of phrasing. The State Journal asked an expert:

Bob Baldwin, a diversity specialist for the Janesville School District, who is black, said most black people would have a problem with the wording.

“That’s kind of a natural thing — when you’re white, you don’t think about these things,” Baldwin said. “And people need to start thinking about these things beyond their own comfort level — you know, what about the other folks?”

There’s nothing quite like a generalization about white people to help illustrate his point.

01.04.08

Ron Paul Decimates the Vote

Posted in General at 4:25 pm by Clay

I’d like to mention that Ron Paul decimated the Republican Iowa caucus vote last night.

By which, of course, I mean that he took ten percent.

Hopefully enough people have heard the controversy about the usage of “decimate” to not think I’ve completely lost it.

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