Monday, July 30, 2012

When it gets down to an appeal to morality you know they have nothing but bluff

Stupider than Britain and France guaranteeing Poland in 1938.

And far more dangerous, in a world of nukes and fanatical terrorists.

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney told an audience of supporters here Sunday that the United States has a "solemn duty and a moral imperative" to do whatever necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could threaten the existence of Israel, a vital American ally.

Romney focused on the specter of a nuclear-capable Iran and pledged the U.S. would never forget past horrors or turn its back on Israel.

"When Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this nation off the map, only the naïve – or worse – will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric. Make no mistake: The ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses," Romney said. "They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way. My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: We will not look away, and nor will my country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

64 years after the proclamation of the State of Israel the surrounding peoples have not accepted its legitimacy.

And far from there being signs of diminishing hostility there are signs of increased danger, mostly from the Arab Spring.

The most sensible thing would be for the US to gradually slacken its commitments - military, diplomatic, and financial - to Israel until it became clear to everyone we are no longer holding their coats.

If you seriously believe the Holocaust entitles Israel to some sort of special protection from some Western country I suggest you take it up with Germany.

But our two major candidates are who and what they are, and of them the most sane and least likely to get us into another horrific war in the Middle East is Barack Obama.

And I don’t think Romney is doing it for the votes.

Scalia on democracy and the court

Scalia brushed off Obama's comments aimed at the court regarding the healthcare law and a campaign finance ruling.

"What can he do to me? Or to any of us?" Scalia said. "We have life tenure and we have it precisely so that we will not be influenced by politics, by threats from anybody."

Yes, that’s so much better.

"So yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed," he said. "I mean, obviously, the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried. It's to 'keep and bear' (arms).

So, it doesn't apply to cannons. But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to be ... decided."

Not by us, reader.

He means it will have to be decided by the Supremes.

How do you like your democracy, now?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Henry James on steroids

A hundred and sixty pages into it and nothing has happened.

Well, his mother put him to bed.

He ate a madeleine dipped in “decoction of lime flowers.”

Leonie passed away.

All that subordination makes you feel as though an entirely different part of your brain is doing the reading.

Different from the part used when you read something like this, I mean.

And much more so than even in James.

Has anyone ever checked that, empirically?

Beautiful writing about absolutely nothing in the most unutterably boring detail.

No chance I'll finish this.

. . . but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

People who lament they haven’t totally silenced their political enemies or utterly destroyed their livelihoods ought not to be called "liberals."

But they are.

And, please.

Skip the eyewash about the First Amendment prohibiting only government interference with free speech.

Are we supposed to be OK with employers or other non-governmental agents punishing us for voting “the wrong way” so long as the government doesn't?

Why the secret ballot, then?

And what a mockery of freedom it is when you can be crushed financially and have your career ruined for what you say by the selfish, the hateful, or the politically vengeful so long as they aren’t acting for the government!

As if no one else could squash us under foot!

Update. The war by liberal public officials on Chick-fil-A over the conservative politics of its owners is even more deplorable.

Update two. That is not to say I will ever again eat at Chick-fil-A, or that I accept employers dominating the lives of their employees the way this employer does.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The tired, old Anglo-Saxonism of the “real American" conservatives

Lots of bickering about these reports.

Coinciding with Mitt Romney's arrival in London for a six day foreign trip, The Telegraph reported two Romney advisers, later characterized as members of "the foreign policy advisory team," said President Obama could not fully understand the "Anglo-Saxon heritage" between the U.S. and Britain.

"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he [Romney] feels that the special relationship is special," a second Romney adviser told the newspaper. "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."

Had Alan Dershowitz been in the White House this piece of snooty conservative Anglo-Saxonism, directly descended from old-time Nativism and altogether routine for American conservatives like Gingrich, Buchanan, and endless others many of whom are not even WASPS, would have been equally offensive and the left would be screaming about anti-Semitism.

Had Mario Lemieux been in the White House they might have been yelling about the common American Francophobia that insists French Fries be called “Freedom Fries” and lies that solidly Germanic English words like “shit” and “cunt” are filthy French that one has to ask pardon for.

Had it been a Kennedy every Irishman in the country – except the Republicans – would be yelling “Don’t even go there you stinking Limey bastard!” and writing checks to the IRA.

As it is, Barack Obama is there and liberal bloggers are yelling about racism.

But it is what it is, the traditional and obtuse Anglo-Saxonism of America that got us into the two greatest of European wars, both of which were none of our affair.

You know.

Like the man said.

"The wogs begin at Calais."

Yes, yes.

I know Romney didn't say it.

But still, this is just way too characteristic of contemporary conservatism not to rejoice in the flap.

Even though the White House seems to be insisting on taking these remarks as some sort of clumsy, out-of-bounds (Why?) effort to point out differences between the two candidates and even the two parties on matters of foreign affairs.

"Differences end at the water's edge?"


Mr. Above-it-All checks in for a bit of gun control

Still moving left as Romney is still moving right.

Gay marriage, immigration, and now this.

Three liberal agenda items he ignored for his entire first term he finally gets to just when he is supposed to be drifting quietly toward the middle.

So he and his handlers must have realized he was already too much in the middle and he needed to do something for the liberals of the party.

Meanwhile, the senate seems to be getting ready to vote to let the Bush tax cuts finally expire except on income under a quarter million.

The Republicans hate it but, it seems, will let it pass by simple majority rather than filibustering this as they have filibustered pretty much everything else the Democrats wanted or would agree to. 

House Republicans say they will not even bring it to the floor for a vote.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Steal this foreign policy

Lord knows that Romney, upon whom it is urged (pro forma, I think), has no use for it.

Romney is a neoliberal and he intends to do for America what Bain did for all those companies it bought and ran into the ground.

He is among the worst of the vampire capitalists whom Buchanan has characterized as economic traitors to the US, wrecking our economy and using our bloated military to make the world safe for a borderless globo-capitalism too big to fail and way too big for hollowed-out nation states ever to control.

This, for example, is a sample of Romney.

Buchanan is a nationalist relic who was abandoned by his own party and his supposed conservative allies when he was driven out of MSNBC for racism.

Truth to tell, had this been his foreign policy message throughout his career he would never have had one.

Neither Nixon nor (much less) Reagan ever came within a light year of non-interventionism.

Nor did Buchanan, in those days.

And even so Nixon thought him not interventionist enough.

Today he is a voice crying in the wilderness with a three-part nationalist message that interests neither party: an end to high volume immigration, economic protectionism for US producers and jobs, and withdrawal from the militaristic globalism that has driven US foreign policy for decades.

On the right this conflicts with the post-Communist neoliberalism that promises the plutocracy power and wealth on an unprecedented world scale.

On the left it conflicts with a moralistic globalism indistinguishable from the attitude that, in the 70s and 80s, put a liberal imprimatur on the hemorrhage of jobs and factories from high-wage union states in the US North to low-wage, anti-union states in the US South.

His speech will earn Romney points not only with Republicans but with many others.

Generally speaking, you can't go wrong appealing to American national vanity, and talk of "an American Century" will go over big, right along with insisting we have the world's biggest stick and that we live up to the role of "leader of the free world," it being understood that the job also makes us "leader" of all the rest of the world.

He sounds just like Pat Buchanan did, back when Reagan was in the White House.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get rid of the 2nd Amendment

It was intended in the 18th Century to defend republican institutions against resurgent monarchy and aristocracy and to prevent the great and rich from trampling the rights of the people.

In our time it has become a public safety disaster, a weapon of the unscrupulous plutocracy, and a threat to republicanism and democracy.

I posted the below in answer to this post of BooMan’s with which I mostly agree. 

Indeed, much of what I write repeats what he writes.

But not all, and we don't agree on quite everything.

Considerable research has been done on the intentions behind the Bill of Rights as a whole and the 2nd Amendment in particular, mirrored in the constitutions of several other states at the time and since.

The generally accepted conclusion has been that protection of an individual right was intended and that the reasons it was thought necessary to protect that right were three: the need for self-defense in a frontier society, the need to hunt for food, and a popular – not an upper class – concern to enable resistance to tyranny at a time when the American synonyms for "tyranny" were “monarchy” and “aristocracy” rather than “socialism” or “Marxism.”

Madison and the men of Philadelphia had not included a Bill of Rights in the Constitution and he thought it both unwise and unnecessary to do so.

But, under pressure from many others including Jefferson, Madison drafted a list of amendments the then congress boiled down to the familiar ten.

When he did so he included in what became the second as a reason for its importance an allusion to the republican notion of the time that “a well-regulated militia” – as opposed to such a dangerous tool of tyranny, again meaning monarchy and aristocracy, as a standing army – is the “best security for a free state.”

At the time, a militia was just a somewhat drilled, trained, armed, and disciplined body of ordinary people.

Just the kind of thing the people could, it was felt, spontaneously organize among themselves to resist threatened impositions of monarchy or aristocracy if they owned their own weapons, though such spontaneously self-organized rebellion did not do well against George Washington’s troops during the Whiskey Rebellion.

All the same, that political reason was not the only reason for writing directly into the Constitution a guarantee of the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Something like the above understanding first became the conservative theory of the 2nd Amendment some decades ago.

It was accepted as early as 2008 by Barack Obama and has since through decisions of the Supremes been incorporated in the reigning jurisprudence of the land.

It is worth emphasizing, I think, that the tyranny this right was intended to enable the people to resist was embodied in monarchy and aristocracy, the then nearly universal forms of tyranny that America had just thrown off and that Ben Franklin alluded to in his famous statement of what sort of government the Constitution set up, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

And these forms of tyranny, of course, were emphatically defended by that modern conservative hero and vigorous enemy of republicanism and revolution, Edmund Burke, in his “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” a book of such infamous and black reaction that had it been written in America during our own revolution it would have been the deepest treason and well worth a hanging.

And it is also worth noting that the threat of a monarchist counterrevolution is past while nowadays having too many weapons in the wrong hands has become a major threat to public safety and itself dangerously subversive of our republican and constitutional government owing to the rise and spread of right wing political violence and intimidation.

And last, it is also worth noting, I suppose, that hunting is no longer one of life’s necessities for the majority of Americans and that any legitimate concerns for self-defense are addressed by small capacity pistols and shotguns.

So it’s time to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

Don’t you think?

Sorry, I should have included that it was felt when the Bill of Rights was adopted that the militia could defend the states and the Union against attack and invasion by another country while an army was organized and that this was preferable to reliance on a standing army because the latter could easily be used against the people and their liberties by the great and the powerful while the former could not and could even enable the people to deter, if not overcome, such attempts.

Of course, Washington's easy success against the Whiskey Rebellion made mincemeat of that idea, too.


And then there was that war of 1812 in which the Brits used regulars and the Americans mostly used militia on short term enlistments.

The Brits cleaned our clocks.

The target is Democrats

The target is not old people, students, young people, or minorities.

The target of these denials of the right to vote is people likely to vote for Democrats.

The Republicans are stealing the election of 2012 under a pretense of clumsy but well-intended efforts to cope with voter impersonation, a problem of small scope so far as anyone can tell and certainly not to be dealt with by knowingly denying over 700,000 eligible citizens in a single state their voting rights.

How do you write a law to stop this in future?

What can anyone do to stop it this year?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Time to abolish the 2nd Amendment

Colorado Movie Theater Shooting

Time and past time.

When do we agree the price in public safety and in subversion of democracy through right-wing political violence and intimidation is too high?

Meanwhile, the Republicans really have no choice, do they?

The can’t win without tens of millions of votes from jackasses, bigots, and crackpots.

They can no more abandon the 2nd Amendment than get soft on abortion and gay marriage, stop worrying about where Obama was really born, or urge that the US cut Israel loose.

If they weren’t also the party of appalling stupidity the party of  the plutocracy wouldn’t win one more election.

With any luck, they still might not.

Appalling stupidity, after all, really is, after a while, just appalling.

Fat fracking chance

I can’t find a single word about it anywhere on the web, but over the weekend I was out of town and heard Chris Hayes on UP tell us Bill McKibben had calculated that to stave off global warming disaster some 80% of the currently know fossil fuel reserves of the whole world had to stay unused in the ground.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is dishonesty the best policy?

There are and have always been atheists who think it is prudent to use religious beliefs to advance their political aims and inculcate their political values.

Though it may be equally false that God hates slavery and that he loves it, it may be prudent to ensure the people think he hates it.

Similarly, “Slavery is profoundly wicked” and “Slavery is not at all wicked” may be equally meaningless, but . . . .

Politics, they say, is war with less, or less organized, violence.

And if all’s fair short of that . . . .

And, anyway, it will certainly seem prudent to most parents that their little children believe "Shoplifting is wicked" and "Punching your brother in the arm is wicked."

And maybe even that God disapproves of such things quite severely.

Or at least that Santa Claus does.

There is only taboo morality.

The thing about taboo is that “taboo” doesn’t actually mean anything, though those whose lives it dominates don’t quite, or anyway don’t openly, see that.

There is no trait of actions, things, people, or institutions to which “taboo” refers.

Much less any trait of the importance believers attribute to the one falsely supposed to be denoted by “taboo.”

[Update, 08082017.


Bit of a de re / de dictu confusion, there.

There is no property such that the Islanders believer, of it, that it is denoted by "taboo," though they do believe, with whatever degree of confidence, of "taboo," that there is some property it denotes.

Not at all the same thing.

My bad.]

The same is true of “wrong” when used with moral intent, or “unjust,” or “vicious” as well as “right,” “just,” “righteous,” or “virtuous.”

Just as, strictly speaking, “sex with a menstruating woman is taboo” is nether true nor false because “taboo” doesn’t mean anything, so “sex with a menstruating woman is wrong” is neither true nor false because “wrong” used with moral intent has no meaning.

Further, “It is taboo to eat escargot with red wine” fails to express a reason not to eat escargot with red wine.

And this is not because it is silly or false but because it is meaningless, neither true nor false, and hence cannot express a reason for or against anything.

And the same is true of the sentence, “It is wrong to eat escargot with red wine.”

And of “Justice demands democracy” and “Confiscatory taxation is unjust.”

But just as people are raised to take seriously such nonsense as “It is taboo to eat asparagus with butter,” they are raised to take seriously claptrap like “It is wicked to tell discreditable lies about your political opponent.”

And given that the relevant delusions are already established in the societies around them, people find such talk useful in acculturating children, in controlling adults, or in justifying – or condemning! – coercion and violence.

None of which is to say I mean to discourage eating asparagus with butter or encourage telling slanderous lies in politics.

I approve the former and often do it, myself.

I disapprove the latter, though I make no promises about special cases.

[Update 12262015.


I enjoy eating asparagus, and that is not the same as approving it.

And I am put off by people telling slanderous lies, though that is not the same as disapproving.


The enduring disgrace of the Republican Party

Tomasky raises the interesting possibility that this is the fate of the Republican Party until the plutocrats running the conservative movement realize the consequences of their choice to wager so heavily on the coarsest American stupidity.

The nominee can’t personally be a true-blue conservative since that would spell inevitable doom.

But the nominee has to do what McCain and Romney have done and betray his own political past to please the rabble the conservative plutocrats have made so strong.

And worse, he has to pick a running mate who is, if not one of their own like Sarah Palin, then someone very close to that.

And that, too, spells doom.

Matt Yglesias has pointed out for years that if the economy is in good shape or improving the incumbent wins and if it’s not the incumbent loses.

This is as close to an iron rule as you will find in American politics.

By that rule, Obama hasn’t a prayer.

That is part of the reason why Republicans have espoused a politics of austerity guaranteed to keep things bad and maybe make them worse for all of us who are not plutocrats or their specially favored minions.

And yet, the repulsiveness of the white trash conservatism to which first McCain and then Romney have sacrificed their pasts and their honor and that his running mate must convincingly incarnate may keep Obama in the White House, all the same.

And then there will be 2016, and 2020, and when will it end? 

Political blogs are for preaching to the choir, like political magazines and their websites. Preaching is a form of propaganda.

David Atkins is right, I think, about there being significant differences between the parties having to do with their roles in the class war, though of course not only that.

But he writes at Hullabaloo,

"Even if the choices aren't necessarily between good and evil, non-participation in the process is inexcusable when it's so abundantly clear which side is the far greater evil."

Though I expect I will vote this fall for Obama if I vote at all, I must demur.

And I would have had to do so even in Germany in 1932 when it was the Nazis, the Communists, and the Social Democrats competing for power.

The reason is that, after all, I control only one vote, my own, and no other.

I don’t even influence other votes in any degree.

If I went into a coma in October and came out of it in December the outcome of the election would not be different for any federal, state, or local office.

Things would be otherwise if I could sway, say, hundreds of thousands of votes in a lightly populated swing state.

But I can't.

In fact, Atkins knows that is very likely true of all his readers.

But even if Atkins, like me, can’t personally sway hundreds of thousands of votes in lightly populated swing states, it is likely the major liberal blogs taken together may very well be able to do that.

No conspiracy is necessary, though there probably is one in the sense that all the major players are openly agreed in a common effort.

And that is an effort of propaganda to goad the mass of their readership and anyone else they may somehow influence into showing up and voting for the Democrats.

And an integral part of that propaganda is endless repetition that the outcome depends on each of us doing his part, that we are each responsible, that every vote is crucial, etc.

Right alongside the annoyingly stupid saw that no one who does not vote is entitled to complain of an adverse outcome.

Still, I am open to the suggestion to make voting mandatory.

Do we dare?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

People have done worse and never even resigned.

Anthony Weiner's comeback: our long national nightmares are getting shorter

Done worse by way of sexually scandalous behavior, I mean.

People in both parties and one person too painfully recently in the White House.

Personally, I think Weiner’s been so good in congress on other things that I look forward to seeing him back there, even though he’s way too Zionist for me.

Actually, I was sorry he left.

Of course, he’s by no means unique in his excessive Zionism.

Hillary is way too Zionist for me.

Heck, Pat Buchanan is too Zionist for me.

Diplomatic and some other support from the US for Israel I can see.

But I was very upset when, prodded by Krauthammer, Hillary and Barack – and Hillary more dangerously – agreed to let Israel take shelter from Iranian nukes behind my granddaughters’ skirts.

That is, I was very upset when Krauthammer demanded and got a pledge from the then two leading Democratic candidates for the nomination to make all Americans into human shields for the Israelis.

McCain, of course, was even more extravagant, no doubt excessively influenced by his compadre, Liebermann.

A "doctored" quotation is not a quotation.

Journalists who allow quote approval become complicit in political spin

What they wish they had said cleansed of what they wish they had not said is not what they said.

"They" being those reported on.

But then they just make stuff up, anyway, don’t they?

"They" being the journos.

Historians, too.

What are they, after all?

Journos retailing older news with less reliable and many fewer sources.

So what’s to stop them?

CNN on the Iran threat -

Greenwald writes an entire post mocking a CNN claim that “Iran already has a missile that could reach the U.S. if it could put it on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline.”

G, whose career is devoted to writing anti-American propaganda on behalf of Islamists, terrorists, and Jihader lunatics around the world, here gives vent to his usual faux outrage at such a ludicrous claim, so transparently intended to frighten Americans.

But it could well be true.

And Iran has a deep-water navy, though not a large one.

And the Iranian regime hates America almost as much as it hates Israel; it hates Americans almost as much as it hates Jews.

And some people fear Iran is working at getting nukes.

For half a century, the US deterred a Soviet attack with missiles, bombers, and submarines all stationed just off Russia’s borders.

Might Iran want to deter us, for some reason?

What do you suppose they might intend, perhaps for Israel or perhaps elsewhere?

It was bad enough dealing for so long with such a threat from the Russians, whose secular delusions about the inevitable goal of history were never much of a motive for national martyrdom.

But what about a nation ruled by Islamist crackpots whose religion is daily proved to move believers to suicidal attacks for those 72 virgins?

Even Mao’s publicly expressed and entirely believable indifference to the loss of tens of millions of Chinese lives in a possible nuclear exchange was not quite so alarming.

Though of course it was very alarming.

Josephine Baker, French war hero

Alan Riding says Josephine Baker had dual French and American citizenship when, having lived in Paris for more than a decade, she worked as a valued spy for the Free French.

After the US joined the war she volunteered to entertain the GIs across North Africa, always insisting she was there as a representative of the Free French.

Who knew?

Well, I didn’t, anyway.

Monday, July 16, 2012

When need exceeds supply

It’s a safe bet when we have either universal Medicare or National Health the Republicans will ensure it is drastically underfunded so long as the rich are allowed to use their private means to seek help outside the system.

And that means hard choices.

And that’s a truth that can’t be discussed in front of a public that thinks like a panicky eight year old.

The impunity of power

No one who knows anything about the power and perversity of the jock culture is surprised.

There is a slight chance some of the leading powers at Penn State who knew all along and just covered up will stand trial and be convicted.

There is a slight chance that football at Penn State will be shut down for a few years.

We already know what happens when the abusers are priests and the coverup extends not only to the American bishops but all the way back to the Vatican.

A bare handful of small fry are punished.

Reminds you of Abu Ghraib, doesn’t it?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Greed TV and deep propaganda


Fox News

The Home Shopping Network

Greed TV and the popularity of low-tax and no-tax conservatism have risen together in America.

Not a coincidence, I think.

The self-emptying liberal churches

Those who don’t accept “supernatural religion” have little reason to go to church or pay for the upkeep of the hall.

And, anyway, if they want to they can always migrate to the nearest UU outpost where the "services" and talk are sure to be more congenial.

On the other hand, it is exactly the “old time religion” that is the best-selling product of the successful, Evangelical denominations.

And Doubthat is right about the past of progressive Christianity and the power of the Social Gospel.

Think of William Jennings Bryan.

Those Christians, like today’s Catholic clerics, combined the most stubborn theological and moral conservatism with political progressivism as regards its core economic agenda.

But in our time among the Protestants it looks pretty much like the theological conservatives have formed a permanent alliance with the Wall Street, bare-knuckle capitalist wing of the Republican Party and left the old progressive agenda to the self-emptying, theologically liberal churches.

All the worse for progressives.

The struggle for the conscience of the nation

What if someone stole your engagement photos?

The culture war in America is in large part a clash of two competing political and social alliances for control of America’s conscience.

The sexual revolution has gone a long way toward freeing up American law from domination by the churches and the clericalist politicians who, on their behalf, had imposed the traditional Christian morality on America through the power of government.

It has done so in the name of a liberal though not entirely secular alternative morality that in many ways praises or at any rate allows what the Christian morality blames and blames much of what the Christian morality praises or allows.

For the clericalists, for example, homosexuality, though tolerated in the form of priestly pedophilia, is severely condemned as immoral whenever encountered among lay adults or adolescents.

It is something they have always sought to cause society to hate, suppress, outlaw, and persecute.

For the liberals, in contrast, homosexuality – though not pedophilia – is morally allowable and condemnation of it is itself morally wrong.

That is to say, moral condemnation of homosexuality, labeled “homophobia,” is itself something the liberals want to cause society to hate, suppress, and perhaps ultimately outlaw and persecute.

As an amoralist, I do not deplore either homosexuality or those who so condemn it for moral reasons, convinced as I am that there are no such things.

But what of the arguments so commonly advanced on the one side or the other?

For example, what of the argument that in homosexuality nature’s evident purpose is frustrated?

We need not take the idea of natural purposes literally in order to see the point.

As with the eye it is nature’s intention that we see with the male and female sexual organs it is nature’s intention that we reproduce, moved to do so by that other gift of nature, the blind lust that the clericalists also condemn.

All the same, nature fluffs it from time to time, and if this is no reason to punish people with astigmatism or subject them to social opprobrium it is no reason to do either to homosexuals.

As for the arguments that legalized and tolerated homosexual conduct, or anyway homosexual marriage, pose a threat to society, the nation, the institution of marriage, or civilization itself, these claims are too transparently false, vacuous, or both to be worth a moment's attention.

Last we have the religious argument that God, Allah, or the gods hate fags.

And to that I say there are no gods.

And the arguments on the other side aimed at showing homophobia is wrong and to be resisted and suppressed?

Well, here as well there is a religious argument.

It is alleged, sometimes, that God loves homosexuals as he loves us all. And so we should, too.

But, again, there are no gods.

On the other hand, the non-religious reasons aimed at showing homophobia to be wrong all come to the claim that it is nothing but gratuitous cruelty cloaked in stupid or transparently false, and often egregiously fraudulent, justifications.

And that seems to be true, doesn’t it?

And that fact – the fact that, like racism, it is a form of gratuitous cruelty – leads me to prefer to see it suppressed – though not cruelly – and wither away.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stage Coach


Hollywood’s best year, ever, some people say.

Funny, exciting, beautifully photographed.

The focus, of course, is on settler life.

The Indians are of no account except when they are a threat.

America’s vision of itself and its past, the year Europe would start to tear itself apart with its greatest war.

The Banker, an embezzler and living satire of political conservatism, is a constant source of amusement.

Oh, how many people could you fit in one of those coaches?

Seven, apparently.

And one of them John Wayne and another John Carradine.

About the "differently abled"

The author writes, quoting the PTT secretary, George Broadhead, “This is a very important verdict. Treatments that attempt to ‘cure’ homosexuality are morally objectionable because they imply that homosexuality is a disease.”

The reader will recall that I do not believe moral claims such as “Treatments that attempt to ‘cure’ homosexuality are morally objectionable” are any of them true.

No more than I believe such nonsense as “God hates fags.”

Do I think attempts to cure homosexuality deplorable?

Well, yes, just as I think that of attempts to exorcise devils or contact the dead at séances, though for different reasons.

The latter are generally financial exploitations of desperation, grief, and stupidity and it would probably be better if society took a more responsible and protective attitude toward such things.

The former I take to be harmful in other ways, even when not actually physically harmful.

Faith healing is pretty bad, too, yes, in the same ways as ordinary medical quackery.

But what if one day a real cure was found?

People are strange.

They make psychological adjustments to their disabilities, deformities, or incapacities and then actually become attached to them.

Especially when the adjustments have included a kind of self-brainwashing, seconded by society, in the belief that, say, having no legs, being deaf as a stone, or being wholly infertile is no disability at all.

Or being gay.

A man without convictions

What would you say if I told that not only do I have no religious beliefs, I also have no moral beliefs?

People can and do live their lives without shaping their conduct to suit a god, though that is not to say they don't shape their conduct to suit laws or customs or their neighbors' preferences predicated on the supposed will of some supposed god.

Nor is it to say they don't lie about it. Perhaps, sometimes, even to themselves.

Similarly, people can and do live their lives without shaping their conduct to suit moral truths, though that is not to say they don't shape their conduct to suit laws or customs or their neighbors' preferences predicated on such supposed things.

And ditto about lying.

"Live according to the customs of the country" is an ancient maxim of the skeptics.

Too, just as people can and do have and express preferences about the conduct of others, about laws, about the shapes of states, about international relations, about the structure and workings of the economy, or about the details of constitutions for entirely secular reasons or motives, they can do all those things for reasons or motives both secular and non-moral.

Sometimes these reasons will resemble the reasons offered in support of moral claims like "democracy is more just than any alternative" or "it is unjust to prohibit gay marriage."

But one takes them to be reasons in favor of democracy or permitting gay marriage rather than in favor of any moral claim.

And that is all.

So, almost a man without convictions.