Saturday, July 22, 2006
But the atheists' position in many of their legal fights has been grossly intolerant of those who, like myself, firmly do believe in a God, including some ideas that might actually be loosely subsumed under the heading "intelligent design." So I find it uncomfortable to be allied with them. And when we look at the most recent Pledge fight, in which an atheist father sued on behalf of a daughter who did not share his beliefs, it seems to me that the atheists on their part are equally coercive as their religious counterparts, and I cannot accept that.
Is there some way to civilly and rationally discuss this issue? Even more importantly, is there some way of settling this issue that will respect the rights of all people involved?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Certainly the stem cell veto has nothing to do with "conservatism" vs. "liberalism": Nancy Reagan, certainly one of the most conservative people in recent politics (it is she who turned Ronald Reagan into a conservative, after all! He'd been a pro-FDR union leader in the forties, if you don't know it), supported the bill strongly, as she was aware of the technological gains that could derive from stem cell research. No, what it does have to do with is the religious right's attempt to conform all of us to their ideas of what is moral and what isn't. And that is the way of the Taliban.
If you go back to the very first post on this blog, I said I believed that "[n]o person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs." And I believe this firmly. One thing that needs to be done is to reclaim the Republican Party from the religious right. It can't be done by voting for Democrats, who have their own agenda which is even more harmful to the nation. But it needs to be done by moving within the Republican Party to support those who are willing to take on the religious right.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
So it is nice to see that a book was recently published by David DeWolf, John West, Casey Luskin, and Jonathan Witt which discusses the difference between the two. I haven't yet read the book, but I've read an interview given by one of the authors in a local Washington, D. C. paper, and it looks like something worth reading.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I've already said what I think about Giuliani -- he'd make a great President, but I doubt he can get the GOP nomination. I still think the same, though it is beginning to look as if he's becoming a serious candidate. This blog is not ready to endorse him as candidate for the nomination, but if he's nominated, I'd be happy to endorse him for election, and if Condi Rice (or someone else I like equally) doesn't turn into a competing candidate for the nomination, I will endorse him for the nomination.
Monday, July 03, 2006
But as I read the chapter in question, it became clear that Podhoretz does not understand what makes Giuliani the person he is. Podhoretz makes the mistake that a lot of dogmatic conservatives (and, in mirror image, a lot of dogmatic liberals) do: he assumes that a person who shares many of his ideas with the conservative (or liberal) dogma agrees with all of that point of view. And thus, Podhoretz thinks that Giuliani’s ideas on such topics as abortion and gay rights are not what he has stated, but are in fact the conservative ideas that Podhoretz would like them to be. He seems to think that Giuliani only proclaimed himself on the so-called “liberal” side of those issues to get elected in liberal New York City. And Podhoretz is wrong.
If Giuliani were to take a position opposed to his real beliefs on any issue for the sake of election, it would be on an economic issue, not a social one. New York City is dominated by organized labor, and Giuliani’s real courage was shown by his taking on the city’s unions. That he was willing to do so shows that he really has the courage of his convictions. I think that part of Podhoretz’s error is in his thinking that, because Giuliani took on an “anti-Catholic” exhibit by the Brooklyn Museum, his loyal Catholicism would not permit him to take a position opposed to that of the Catholic Church on those issues just mentioned. And a Giuliani who is willing to fight the labor unions in New York City is certainly strong enough to have his own opinions on social issues, even when they run counter to Catholic doctrine.
Certainly, it is the opinion of this blogger that Giuliani would make a good President. But Podhoretz’s book misstates the case for him.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
"Why is it when Republicans are all for reducing the federal government's impact on people's lives until it comes to these stinging litmus test issues, whether gay marriage or end of life, they suddenly want the federal government to intervene?"
One must give credit where credit is due; Sen. Feinstein is absolutely right here. But if she is accusing the Republicans of a sort of hypocrisy in their action on this sort of issues, let's look at her own Democratic Party. The Democrats are all for helping the poor, so they say, but if making things more affordable, so that the poor can afford them, means hurting their organized-labor constituency, then suddenly the Democrats can't bring themselves to do what would help poor people immensely. Each party has its own acts of hypocrisy. The Republicans sometimes kowtow to religious bigots, and the Democrats kowtow to labor barons who can control the economy to a greater extent than any corporate baron ever did.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
People opposed to abortions call themselves “pro-life,” and their position seems to rest on a number of fallacies. I think some of these need to be made explicit.
First, one point they continuously make is that “life begins at conception.” Actually, it doesn’t. A sperm cell and an egg cell are “alive,” no less than is a fertilized egg. Biology points out that life comes only from life, and spontaneous generation was disproved many decades ago, even centuries ago.
But even if life began at conception, is it always improper to take a life? We eat meat, which comes from killed animals, and even vegetarians eat food which was produced by killing plants (which are certainly “alive” in any sense of the word)! So the question boils down to whether the taking of a human life is involved. And then the question arises as to what is a human being.
I have seen it claimed that what is created at conception is an “independent genotype.” And certainly it is true that the fertilized egg is different, genetically, from either sperm or egg, and also different, genetically, from either father or mother. But if what makes a separate person is an “independent genotype,” you are denying the personhood of an identical twin! This would mean that killing one of a pair of identical twins is no worse than amputating a leg. I cannot see any argument based on genotypic identity that would differentiate the two. So there is no way that this basis for characterizing personhood can fly.
It is to me quite obvious that the only way to define “a new human being” is to ask if it is capable of surviving without being connected to the mother’s body through a placenta. This is the “viability criterion,” and no other definition makes sense. So let the anti-abortion group assert that the fetus can be delivered and survive, and if this is so, it would be unethical to abort it.
The argument has been made that “what modern medicine can keep alive” continually changes. I do not deny this. But just as we do not try to keep alive someone who is incurably ill when he has passed a certain point, and this point changes as modern medicine improves, the point at which abortion is foreclosed by viability can change with time. This is not inconsistent.
Some people wish to impose their beliefs on others. Whether these are Catholics who want others to deny abortions based on Catholic definitions of “a human life” or others who want Catholic doctors to abort when it violates their scruples, this is wrong. But let the individuals involved make the decisions.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The libertarian credo is that everything should be legal unless it harms another person. Guns have no purpose except to kill, and so I cannot see any reason that a normal person could have a use for a gun. I would restrict gun ownership to two groups of people: the police and the military. Both of these have a need to be able to kill as part of their official duty, and so they need guns.
Some people say, "When guns are illegal, only outlaws will have guns." Of course; by definition, because those with guns will be outlaws, and mere possession could be an excuse for their arrest and confiscation of the guns. So criminals could be deprived of their guns before they could use them to do anything harmful. Why would an honest person have anything to fear?
Again, some people say, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Certainly true -- I've never seen a gun go off and kill someone without someone touching it. But guns make it easier for people to kill people. If you have to use your own personal strength, or at least a knife, and you have to get to a position of physical contact with a victim, you'll have a harder time accomplishing this deed.
So this is my case for gun control, no matter how much of a libertarian I am.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Too bad. I think either one would make a better candidate than the ones likely to be nominated. I'd once had a healthy respect for Bill Frist, a heart surgeon, not a lawyer, and definitely a person with some intelligence that even the Democrats (who have thought Eisenhower, Reagan, and the current president were dunces) could not denigrate -- but he lost all my respect in the Terri Schiavo episode. For him to go counter to everything that medical evidence dictates really showed that he'd become such a pure politician that he'd do something idiotic just to gain the votes of the right wing of the GOP. And McCain is trying to take up the left flank of the GOP, partnering with Teddy Kennedy on immigration reform as he did with Russ Feingold on campaign reform, even though his actual background is rather conservative. There aren't enough people on the left in the GOP to nominate him, as he should have realized from 2004. Only in states where non-Republicans could vote in GOP primaries did he do well. And this is a small part of the 50 states that will elect delegates to the convention.
Besides Frist and McCain, nobody else seems to even be considered as a GOP candidate for 2008. Perhaps it'll be someone nobody's talking about, the way Jimmy Carter did it on the Democratic side?
But this seems to be as impossible an issue to compromise on as abortion. Heaven knows why.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Perhaps some technical reason will be found to deny certiorari after lower courts (that are bound by Roe v. Wade) kill the South Dakota law, but that doesn't look to be in the cards. We really need to watch this one.
Friday, February 10, 2006
This being said, it is probably correct to keep ID out of biology classrooms. Speculation on the cause of all this variety of life, which cannot be supported by actual scientific evidence, is not science. But then, the random-variation ideas of Darwin are really speculative too; this raises an interesting question.
Since bad taste is not illegal, the Danish government cannot and should not punish the newspaper publishers and staff. But the newspaper people themselves never should have done it.
This is the start of my new blog, "Opinions and More." I don't know how many people will discover it -- whether it will become too busy for me to handle, or so lonely that I'll be talking only to myself -- but here we go.
Why another new blog? There must be thousands of blogs around, so why another? Well, it just seems that I never see anyone express the ideas that I think make sense, so I thought I'd try.
Some people seen to feel that you have to be a liberal or a conservative; I find myself uncomfortable with both labels, though I'm with the conservatives on most of what I call the important issues. But while I think I can agree with conservatives on economic and foreign-policy issues most of the time, I can't stand the typical conservatives' attitude that they must be able to impose their opinions on religious and social issues on everyone else, and I usually find myself agreeing with the liberals on those religious and social issues anyway. But even if you divide the issues into economic on the one hand and religious and social on the other, I can't go along with either completely. So I give up on a label.
Perhaps you might call me a libertarian. Well, I'm more comfortable with that label than the others. But many people who call themselves libertarians seem to me to be anarchists, saying that even things like schools and police forces should be totally private. I can't agree. The government is necessary to provide those things that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford. Nobody ought to go without an education or protection from crime, even if they are penniless.
So, I'll begin by stating a few principles that will govern my thoughts, and if anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist. Here are my fundamental ideas:
- Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
- Government, as I said earlier, is necessary prmarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
- No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.
Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)