Date ►►► March 26, 2013

The Supremes Greatest Hit

Hatched by Korso

So there I was, innocently perusing Facebook, when all these red Equal sign avatars start popping up as profile pictures. Silly me, at first I thought it might be Artificial Sweetner Appreciation Day and I had just missed the memo -- but then I remembered that the Supreme Court of These Here United States was hearing arguments over California's citizen-approved ban on same-sex marriage (yes, that California). I guess those avatars are just a way of people expressing their solidarity on "marriage eqality," however loosely defined.

Which is all fine and dandy by me. I love it when folks express their opinions heartily. The First Amendment, may she remain forever blessed, only gets healthier the more she flexes her muscles. I am, however, curious about certain aspects of the equal-sign argument. The crux of it was nicely illustrated by an accompanying graphic, with those bathroom-door style stick figures depicting familial arrangements:

Batman, heh! That was brilliant.

Anyway, I'm guessing the gist of it is that it doesn't matter if Heather has a mommy and a daddy, or two mommies or two daddies, or just a single parent in the picture -- they're all perfectly equal, and to think otherwise, why that would be discriminatory. That's why California's law is bad, bad, bad, and must be overturned immediately. Sound about right? Fair enough.

Problem is, the argument (while it sounds good and makes people feel good) isn't borne out by the facts. Let's start with single parenting. While many single parents make a Herculean effort to do right by their kids, and many do a fine job under the most dire of circumstances, studies have repeatedly shown that children do much better in a home with a mother and a father who are married. So as far as single parent homes being equal to homes with a married couple, you can pretty much scratch that one off.

That leaves us with the two-parent household. And since studies have shown that kids do better with two parents, doesn't that bolster the case for allowing same-sex marriage? Well, that depends. So far, there haven't been very many long-term studies into how children fare being raised by same-sex couples -- mostly because the subject is highly radioactive, and the ones that do show kids doing better with heterosexual couples tend to be pilloried by the social science community (which skews heavily to the left, go figure).

However, even that point is rather moot (to quote Rick Springfield), because the arguments being used to advance the same-sex marriage agenda largely ignore the concept of marriage as a procreative union. And with good reason: same-sex couples can't procreate on their own. Marriage, therefore, becomes more about personal gratification and self-actualization. Who are we to deny two people who are in love the right to marry?

Again, this argument undercuts itself. While the public, through its elected lawmakers, does indeed have a vested interest in promoting marriage as a procreative union (continuation of the culture, turning kids into productive, law-abiding taxpayers, making sure kids don't end up on the dole, etc.), the public doesn't -- or at least shouldn't -- give a flip about anybody's personal happiness. After all, that's a personal matter. It's also the reason we don't subsidize dating services with taxpayer dollars. Why should the government poke its big bazoo into something that does nothing to further the public interest? There are far more modest measures that it can take (such as codfying civil unions) that would be far less disruptive.

So what does that leave us with? A whole big can of worms, really. Take the helpful infographic above: Why does it only depict two parents? I mean, if two parents are good, then why not three? Or four? Hell, why not an even baker's dozen? It seems to me that only two-parent bigotry holds that polygamous or polyandrous unions cannot be equally as valid family structures in which to raise children or pursue personal satisfaction. Unless you're Mick Jagger, in which case you can't get none though you try and try and try and try.

Yeah, it's a big mess -- and it used to be so simple. One man, one woman.

So. . .why are we doing this again?

Hatched by Korso on this day, March 26, 2013, at the time of 1:32 PM | Comments (2)

Date ►►► March 25, 2013

I Guess We'll Soon Find Out

Hatched by Dafydd

Ten months ago, Chief Justice John Roberts shocked the nation by first finding that ObamaCare was unconstitutional under the Commerce clause -- but then ruling that it was nevertheless constitutional under a "new construction," by which its enforcement mechanism was deemed a tax: Thus ObamaCare was allowed under the federal government's taxing power. Heavy, man.

Roberts explained that he labored to find a way to uphold ObamaCare because he wanted to give all possible deference to to the "democratic" organs of government, in this case the administration of Barack "Skeets" Obama. (Though it's a tough play to argue that an act democratically voted upon, but whose purpose is to crush democracy, is actually a "democratic" act. It's kind of like tolerating the intolerant, no?)

Roberts also fretted about "predictability" and "stability," as well as inter-governmental harmony. Too, he didn't want to create law, so he had to find any constitutional excuse, however convoluted or implausible, to uphold a law that was duly enacted by Congress.

Flash forward to tomorrow, when the Chief Justice and the other eight robed masters will hear oral arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act and on California's Proposition 8:

  • The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was democratically enacted in September of 1996; it has remained on the books for the last seventeen years despite repeated efforts to repeal or gut it. It confines marriage, for federal purposes, to a union between one man and one woman and protects states that do not recognize same-sex marriage (SSM) from having to recognize SSMs performed in other states. Despite numerous federal challenges over the years, the Supreme Court has so far refrained from striking DOMA down.
  • Proposition 8 was a vote to rebuke the California Supreme Court, which struck down the original version of the same law, Proposition 22; its operative clause reads, in its entirety, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Prop 22 passed back in March of 2000. The citizen initiative was approved by a margin of 61.4% to 38.6%. The California Supreme Court subsequently struck down the initiative, ruling that the California state constitution -- which does not mention same-sex marriage at all -- actually mandates it. (Perhaps I should have used a different word than "mandate.")

As quickly as possible, the same fourteen-word initiative was relaunched as an initiative constitutional amendment; despite being on the same ballot as Barack Obama's 2008 election -- a banner year for Democrats! -- and despite shenanigans by state officials, who tarred it with the tendentious and risible title, "Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" (as if that was a traditional right of long standing, enshrined in our hearts, and a vital part of the golden thread of Western civilization), the traditional-marriage amendment won again, this time by 52.2% to 47.8%... not bad, considering the headwinds in this second liberal landslide. ("The headwinds of a landslide" is almost as good as "the foothills of the headlands.")

After it passed the second time, a single federal judge, Vaughn R. Walker -- who was secretly in a long-term gay relationship himself, thus standing to benefit from his own decision -- struck down Prop 8, declaring that the United States Constitution, as written in 1787 and amended various times since, in fact mandates requires same-sex marriage.

These cases hand us the perfect shibboleth to tell whether Roberts spoke true as he upheld ObamaCare: that he only wanted to show deference to democratic votes, maintain settled law, and refrain from making new law. Here we have two bills, both democratically voted: one by Congress confining SSM to states that have actually approved SSM, the other enacted by a more direct democracy, the people of California voting (twice!) to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Each of these democratic laws has been settled law for some time: In DOMA's case, seventeen years; in Prop 8's case, California has never recognized SSM except for the brief period between the California Supreme Court striking down Prop 22 and the passage of Prop 8... and even that was due to a panel of judges, not a vote of the people or the legislature!

Additionally, the Supreme Court has had many previous opportunities to strike down DOMA, yet failed to do so; and the citizens of the Golden Leaden State have repeatedly voted against SSM and in favor of tradtional marriage every chance they have had -- more than twice, as pro-SSM initiatives were also shot down several times. Thus stability and predictability are on the side of traditional-marriage.

So if Roberts finds a way to land on the leftist side this time, he has no excuse, no explanation, no justification other than the obvious: He will have "grown in office," and we must then consider him a full-fledged Obamunist. To strike down either of these two laws, Roberts must contradict every principle he claimed anent ObamaCare.

But I take the optimistic side; I think Roberts will vote to uphold both. I also believe, contra several mordant and pessimistic conservative commentators, that both will be upheld by the Court by a (suprise!) 5-4 decision; that is, I believe Justice Anthony Kennedy will join the four conservative justices -- Roberts (let us hope), Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito -- in holding that the U.S. Constitution does not demand that all states immediately implement same-sex marriage, per the express understanding of the Founding Fathers and Mothers.

But whether my prediction eventuates or goes awry, we'll soon discover the answer to the burning question of whether CJ Roberts was giving us the truth -- or giving us the business.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 25, 2013, at the time of 3:29 PM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► March 24, 2013

How Is an Illegal Alien? (Part 2)

Hatched by Dafydd

For obvious reasons, lawyers tend to be overly legalistic -- that is, substituting "legal" and "illegal" for "right" and "wrong." If a law has been adjudicated and upheld, lawyers either tend to take that as the final answer, or else they argue that it was wrongly decided; rarely do attorneys argue, even in the political arena, that law is by nature an imperfect guide, and that morality precedes and supercedes it. That's why it's so dangerous to have a Congress and presidency largely controlled by members of the bar: Too many legalistic policies.

Contrariwise, ordinary civilians (non-lawyers) look first and foremost to the issues actually at stake, and little to none at the history of litigation on some arcane point of law. Civilians understand that the right of "jury nullification" is fundamental and vital under the rule of law; most lawyers literally cannot even comprehend the concept: The law is the law!

In the real world, policy schisms must ultimately be fought and decided in the arena of culture, not in the courts (though they are of course important); the culture-war has always been, and will always be more decisive than mere legal rulings.

When I look at the mass influx of refugees from socialism, religious fanaticism, and political chaos, I see a continuity of desperation, comprising both legal and illegal immigrants. I see the great majority of them not as "alien" to us, but reflecting universal revulsion against kleptocracy and theocracy plus universal parental hope of a better life for their children.

The lawyerly mind tends to see the same mass influx as criminals who broke the law and must be severely punished, as if they were nothing but bank robbers, con men, and cutpurses. And certainly not humanized so far as to allow them ever to become citizens!

Cultural forces will decide the issue, not Congress nor the courts. That is why the "anti-legalizers" who oppose any form of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- even one that includes paying a fine, paying back taxes, waiting many years, and so forth -- consistently use the emotionally charged word "amnesty": The activists are trying to crush the cultural meme that says "moving your kids from cosmic horror to something approaching normalcy is a good and decent thing to do, even if it breaks somebody's law."

The anti-legalizers strive to introduce a new meme: "Illegal immigrants are a virus whose only purpose is to destroy America, steal your car, burn down your house, and rape your daughters."

It's a futile attempt; it simply won't work for one very powerful reason: There are so many illegal immigrants in America today that nearly everybody "knows" one (or a former one) within only two or three degrees of separation. And the ones they "know" don't fit the mold of parasite or vampire. Often employer or friend isn't even aware that the immigrant is actually illegal until he or she is outed. The outing rarely induces friends to turn on the illegal; far more likely that friends become allies -- and enemies of those they perceive as trying to throw their pal out of the country for no good reason.

And another conservative conversion bites the dust.

Contrariwise, nearly everybody is familiar with government intrusion, government overreach, government perversity, government theft, and government tyranny. Very few Americans like Congress or the courts, and only about half like any given president (and even that half are mostly tribalists).

Therefore, there is much more sympathy towards illegal immigrants than there is towards the Republican conference that is trying to interdict and deport them.

It's a losing battle; the only question is whether we find a functional compromise of immigration reform that makes future illegal immigration less likely... or whether we make this the last stand of republicanism, and watch ourselves go the way of the Federalists, the Democratic-Republicans, and the Whigs.

I do not want conservatives to usher in another six-decade era like Woodrow Wilson through Jimmy Carter, in which we established the permanent, floating, socialist Leviathan. But if we fight to the death for a losing cause on the wrong side of culture -- immigration is in our national blood -- we may very well live to see President Hillary, President Godfather Rahm, and ultimately President Gavin Newsom. Or we might see the repeal (or ignoring) of the 22nd Amendment, and Barack "Skeets" Obama might be elected to a third and fourth term.

We have already found a workable compromise for gays who want to have the protections of marriage: allowing for domestic partnership but not same-sex marriage, coupled with allowing some form of covenant marriage for those who wish it. It isn't perfect, and it doesn't stop either side from pushing, but that center will probably hold.

We cannot achieve total victory -- but the Left can, if we make it a steel-cage deathmatch. So now is the time for the GOP to offer a real and working compromise... because the alternative to a negotiated compromise is certain defeat.

Defeat is never glorious. Defeat is always ignominious. And defeat has very real and very harsh consequences that can long outlive both losers and victors.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 24, 2013, at the time of 3:08 PM | Comments (2)

Date ►►► March 22, 2013

How Ya Like Them Apples?

Hatched by Korso

Before we begin, I think it's only fair to say that I'm a bit of an Apple aficionado. Not a fanboy, mind you -- I don't spend my evenings trolling the tech sites looking to throw down with Android evangelists over who has the better mobile OS -- but I've certainly got my share of Apple products running in the Korso household. So it's been with great interest that I've followed the rise of Apple, admiring the way the company resurrected itself after the business world had declared it all but dead. The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad -- all of these products have become iconic, because they managed to accomplish something that none of Apple's competitors have been able to replicate: they made technology exciting and sexy, and left people breathless wondering what would come next.

So what happened?

A look at Apple's stock price would tell you that something is horribly wrong. From a high of over $700 a share, the price has tumbled down to around $450. The financial media constantly fret about how Apple has lost its magic and its ability to innovate. Analysts lament the loss of Steve Jobs, and how things just haven't been the same since he died. Where are the new breakthroughs? Where are the game-changing products?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Problem is, it's mostly poppycock.

What we have here is yet another media narrative, willed into reality by the constant harping of reporters, pundits and a smattering of other business interests who all have their own agenda. In a way it's not surprising: the cult that Steve Jobs built for himself was the result of his very canny manipulation of the media, which grew to worship him like some Svengali who could do no wrong (I guess they forgot all about the G4 Cube and MobileMe). After building him up so high, it only stood to reason that the media would respond to Jobs' death by posing the question of whether or not Apple could continue its unprecedented string of successes without him.

And what could be more dramatic than a plunge from greatness?

So that's what the media decided to manufacture. Never mind the facts on the ground. Apple revenues? Their last quarter pulled in more money than any publicly traded company -- in all of history. Demand for products? New iMac orders had wait times of several weeks. How about revenue streams? Between apps, music and videos sold on iTunes, it's around $1.5 billion per year. Oh, and let's not forget the $150 billion of cash the company has in reserves.

But Apple is in trouble. Seriously.

Well, at least that's what the talking heads would like you to believe. Because it's not about objective truth -- I mean, what the hell is truth, really, but an abstract construct -- it's all about the narrative, the story that they want to tell. Never mind that this stuff has real world consequences (lost jobs, lost wealth, human misey, etc.). That only ratchets up the drama -- and if there happens to be a camera crew nearby to catch all the suffering in high-def, so much the better.

The reason I make this point is that the whole concept of objective reporting -- once considered the standard all reporters aspired to -- largely doesn't exist anymore. Pretty much anything you see on the "news" these days may or may not necessarily be true; even worse, however, is that it doesn't seem to even matter. Whether it's hyping Hurricane Sandy to advance the narrative of global warming or selectively editing the audio of a 911 call to make George Zimmerman sound like a racist, the truth has become irrelevant. And the scary part is how few people nary bat an eye.

It's one of the ironies of the digital age that we have so much access to knowledge, and yet the universe of what we actually know gets smaller and smaller. Call it informational relativism: one truth is equally as valid as any other. Aldous Huxley was more precient than he could have imagined.

Hatched by Korso on this day, March 22, 2013, at the time of 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

Forlorn Furloughs

Hatched by Dafydd

Surprise, surprise, on the Jungle Riverboat Cruise tonight: The Pentagon has announced that it's "delaying" furloughs of civilian DoD workers for two weeks, while they reevaluate whether it's really feasible to blame Republicans for the unnecessary pain, impoverishment, and fear.

I believe the conclusion of that evaluation will be No; the Obamunists have already discovered that the American electorate blames Barack "Skeets" Obama and his lapdog Senate Democrats much more than they blame out-of-power Republicans.

Besides, by now I think everybody has found out that "sequestration" was Obama's own idea, which he insisted upon inserting into last year's debt-ceiling deal. Even the "plantation media" are reluctantly reporting that by now!

In fact, even the specific means of implementing sequestration via furloughing federal employees -- using the "Washington Monument" strategy of making the cuts as painful and visible as possible -- is entirely under Obama's discretion: Senate Republicans tried to pass a bill a couple-three weeks ago that would give President B.O. total control over how he implements the $43 billion in Defense cuts mandated... but he personally threatened that he would veto any bill that gave him that authority. "Don't call my bluff! Don't call my bluff!"

Since Obama cannot successfully "pin the tail on the elephant," I predict this is the beginning of the end of furloughs. He will push Senate Democrats to join House Republicans in terminating one or two of the big and useless weapons projects that are years late and billions overbudget, and which the Pentagon never asked for in the first place, and cannot use even if they miraculously finished redesigning them, put them into production, and then deployed them in the theater. I think chopping one or two would easily cough up the necessary bullion in spending cuts required by sequestration.

After which, Obama will parade around the press room patting himself on the back for his magnificent display of compassion. Thank goodness we have a president who cares about the peons little people!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 22, 2013, at the time of 4:47 AM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► March 21, 2013

How Is an Illegal Alien?

Hatched by Dafydd

Get yer huge, irritating, enraging defense of illegal aliens right here!

I use words with clarity and precision. To avoid lexical misunderstandings, here are four definitions of what I, personally mean by certain hot-button words:

  • Immigrant: A person who moves from one country to another intending to live there permanently.
  • Alien: A person (human or otherwise) who is so different from the local population that assimilation or even interaction is virtually impossible.
  • Criminal: A person who habitually engages in unlawful, immoral, or extremely anti-social behavior for disreputable purposes.
  • Lawbreaker, illegal: A person who violates any law, ordinance, regulation, or rule, regardless of motive or reason, and without consideration of the morality or even sanity of the regulation being violated.

Note that under these definitions, an alien need not be an immigrant or criminal, nor is an immigrant required to be criminal or alien.

Not only that, but by my definitions, necessary or moral lawbreaking is not criminal; and a person living under perverse law can obey that law to the letter, yet still be a criminal nevertheless. Think of those who operated the "underground railroad," helping black slaves escape to free states in the North -- illegal but not criminal; and contrariwise, the law-enforcement officials who hunted down escaped slaves and abolitionists and threw them in prison -- morally criminal but perfectly legal.

The four definitions are independent of each other.

All right, admin stuff out of the way; let's jump in...

For a great many conservatives, when they look at illegal aliens they see nothing but criminals.

They certainly are lawbreakers: Having "broken the law," they are subject to arrest and trial. But by the same reasoning, so were the abolitionists.

But the vast majority of illegal aliens are not "criminals" in the sense in which anybody but a lawyer would mean that word: The vast majority are not thieves, nor assassins, nor rapists; they are not arsonists, kidnappers, robbers, nor intruders; they are not traitors, nor terrorists, nor even check kiters.

Yes, they broke American law; but motive matters: And in most cases, their motive was to save their families from being murdered, raped, or robbed... or worse, to prevent their children from being recruited -- oft by force -- into drug cartels or radical-Islamist terrorist cells, thus turning these brainwashed or frightened kids into monsters themselves.

At least, that is likely the perception of the illegal-alien parent or young adult: They wanted to flee a land whose only patrimony was poverty, disease, and hopelessness, in favor of the land of liberty, upward mobility, and rational hope. Maybe their perception is wrong, maybe exaggerated; but even if their fear is overblown and unreasonable, that still doesn't make them criminals -- overwrought, perhaps, or hypersensitive, or just plain mistaken.

If we had a properly functioning legal-immigration policy, one that gave everyone a fair shake and didn't play favorites based upon race or country of origin, then those who incessantly decry "amnesty!" might have a legitimate point. Suppose applicants for residency and citizenship had a real path to follow:

  • Where decisions are made on the basis of assimilability and Americanism;
  • Where all applicants are processed equally under the law;
  • Where every immigration requirement is rational and achievable;
  • Where no decision is arbitrary or capricious, corrupt, random, or perverse;
  • Where no applicant is "timed out" by delays no fault of his own, forcing him to start over from scratch on an administrative whim;
  • Where applicants know at any point in the process what they need to do (and refrain from doing) to keep moving towards their goal;
  • And which is predictable, so that the same inputs yielded the same outputs.

Under such circumstances, those who would be a net asset to the United States would be admitted; while those who would be disruptive, criminal, parasitical, or useless would be rejected. If that was the case, then it's reasonable to say illegals who sneak in are bums who should all be rounded up and deported.

Alas, we don't such a system or even a close approximation. We never have had. Instead, we have a system that is irrational, unpredictable, arbitrary, and perverse. So what are would-be immigrants supposed to do, facing such a broken systme? What would you do, if you and your family lived in day-to-day dread in Venezuela, Angola, Iran, or Juarez, Mexico?

This is not a rhetorical question: What would you, personally, do if you applied several times to immigrate into the United States, and they repeatedly rejected you without explanation? But at the same time, you see USCIS admitting thieves, terrorists, and welfare-sucking layabouts. Would you simply resign yourself to seeing your kids raped or murdered, see them become beasts you don't even recognize anymore -- because to spirit your family across the border is breaking the law?

Or would you say, "I'll get my wife and kids into America no matter what it takes, because I want them to live in freedom, security, and the rule of law!"

Most of those people you call "criminals" are really just -- parents.

Are these illegals really so "alien" to us? Are they so different, so bizarre, that we cannot interact with them, and they can never assimilate into our culture? Are they really any different than the millions who entered this country before any of us was even born?

Some of my immigrant relatives came from shtetls across Russia, Germany, and Poland; others came from Welsh coal miners and English nobility. None had much if anything in common with the Americans already in the country -- nothing but a love of liberty (to the extent they even understood it), the willingness to work hard and support themselves and their families, and a sense that America was different, unique, exceptional. And that was enough.

Now we have different groups trying to immigrate here. And if we were to focus on assimilability and degree of Americanism, they would give the same benefit to our country as did those immigrating from Europe, China, and Japan.

I maintain that an illegal immigrant who --

  • Has lived many years in the United States --
  • Speaks English --
  • Is not a criminal --
  • Has consistently supported himself and his family by honest employment --
  • And has invested in America by buying a house, starting a business, and sending his kids to school, and participating in his community --
  • -- is a better prospect for assimilation than a young, single adult without work experience, without much English, and evincing no burning desire to become an American... even if the latter entered the country completely legally.

    Some illegal immigrants are "alien" to the United States, but I am quite certain most are no more alien than the legal immigrants who get lucky with the one-armed bandit of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 21, 2013, at the time of 7:17 PM | Comments (17)

    Date ►►► March 18, 2013

    The Worm Turns

    Hatched by Dafydd

    I see that Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham (as Rich Galen of Mullings dubs her) has reversed herself on same-sex marriage: Before, she was for it before she was against it; but now she was against it before she was for it. Or something like that. Regardless of twisty turns, in her doomed 2008 run for president, she opposed it; but in her equally doomed 2016 presidential run, she supports it.

    She has to: All the other Democrats do, and supporting traditional marriage (with which she has little experience anyway) would be apostasy.

    Do you suppose anybody will ever have the guts to ask Ms. Rodham whether her rejection of Moslem-style polygamy and Pharaonic-style sibling marriage are as rock-solid and heartfelt as her previous rejection of same-sex marriage? After all, those are a couple of special-interest groups still untapped even by the endorsement-obsessed Obama administration!

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 18, 2013, at the time of 1:11 PM | Comments (0)

    Date ►►► March 12, 2013

    Praise the Lord and Pass the Coca-Cola

    Hatched by Korso

    Set aside yesterday's court decision striking down Hizzoner Nanny Bloomberg's Gargantuan Gulp ban as that rare triumph of common sense in an increasingly inexplicable world. To me, it's worth cash money that the judge who made it is named Milton A. Tingling -- a truly epic nom de famille if there ever was one. It's a pity Tom Wolfe never used that for a character in one of his books.

    Basically, the judge -- who shall be known henceforth with the greatest amount of affection as "The Tingler" -- slapped Bloomberg down pretty hard, calling the soda ban "arbitrary and capricious," which is legalese for bat-guano stupid. He rightfully pointed out that the rule, as written, had so many carveouts and exceptions that couldn't even be uniformly applied across the same block, much less across the entire city. More than that, however, the Tingler went even further when he declared that it wasn't up to New York's Board of Health to save citizens from their own nasty eating and drinking habits. If thou chooseth the death of a thousand Mountain Dew Code Reds, then so be it. The government has no compelling interest to stand in your way.

    Bloomberg, of course, has vowed to appeal the decision. In his mind, and in the minds of his minions, sugary drinks lead to obesity and obesity is a public health hazard, because obese people end up suffering from all kinds of preventable diseases that result from their condition. Taxpayers, natch, end up footing large chunks of the bill (no pun intended) through Medicare and Medicaid -- so therefore the government does indeed have an interest in keeping you healthy. After all, we're only being responsible stewards of the public dime, right?

    Ah, if only leftists felt that way about all spending. But I digress...

    For the moment, let's accept Bloomberg's logic as sound. Toward that end, I say let's go all-out and take a real stand for public health -- starting with STDs. We all know the terrible toll HIV has taken on society, not to mention the scourge that is herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia. I submit it's simply too dangerous to allow New Yorkers to make decisions about sex for themselves. And just like sugar, sexual activity needs to be regulated in order to prevent its abuse:

    No sex shall be permitted without the use of a condom.

    No person shall be allowed more than one (1) sexual partner within a twelve month period of time. Dispensations may be granted if both prospective partners submit to a full health screening prior to any sexual contact, with no more than two (2) dispensations to be granted in any calendar year.

    In those limited circumstances in which sex will be used for the purposes of procreation, an exception to the condom rule can be granted by sending a written request to the Department of Health no less than three (3) weeks before the intended sexual encounters are to commence.

    I'm sure that if New York mandates these rules for its citizens, we'll see a huge decline in STDs and a commensurate drop in the expenses related to treating these diseases. So how about it? Is New York ready to change from Sex and the City to No Sex in the City? After all, it's for the public good.

    I'm sure Bloomberg will get right back to us on that.

    Hatched by Korso on this day, March 12, 2013, at the time of 8:30 AM | Comments (2)

    Date ►►► March 9, 2013

    Early Warning Censor

    Hatched by Dafydd

    Scratch a leftist, find a bluenose censor.

    Progressivists love to pose as avant-garde, post-partisan worshippers of free speech; but to the Left, that has always meant only one thing: That everybody has the freedom to espouse leftist positions.

    The moment the sinistrosphere captures majority control of any institution, all speech that contradicts the current Party catechism is immediately suppressed, and the speakers assailed as violently as the Left can manage. The Weathermen, the Morituri, ELF, ALF, Greenpeace, Fink Progress, La Raza, the Rainbow Coalition, the CBC, and Eric Holder's Department of Injustice -- none of these is a fluke. To a Progressivist, throttling dissent is just one of those eggs that needs to be broken to make the liberal omlet.

    This applies not only to overt speech (always suspect to lefties), but even in the realm of "non-speech" freedom of speech -- everything from dance as speech, to flag-burning, to occupiers, strippers, and every other mechanism of nonverbal communication that leftists normally exalt: The purpose is never to give people of opposing viewpoints any liberty or forum to express their cockamamie opinions; its use is restricted to furthering world socialism.

    Nothing could make this clearer than the Left's war on pornography: When Progressivist protesters want to strip naked to demonstrate against fracking, against voter-ID laws, against school choice, and in favor of unfettered abortion right up until a year after the baby is born, that display of naked rage is a sacred right that shall not be infringed. But woe betide models or porn actors who voluntarily choose to display themselves for profit, in print, video, or online; for the Left will clamp down viciously on such unauthorized (and unenlightened) exposure of one's own body.

    That is why the Demi Moore vehicle Striptease (1996) was lauded by Hollywood in an overflow of praise, while the superficially similar Showgirls was lambasted, and many associated with it blacklisted and later forced to recant and make public apologies (a favorite punishment imposed by Progressivists; cf. Josef Stalin). Here is the distinction that makes all the difference: Demi Moore's character has lost her daughter in a custody fight following a divorce from her crooked and abusive husband; she's a victim of patriarchy! All the nudity and erotic dance is in service to showing how women are exploited and held down by sexism, racism, and homophobia.

    But Elizabeth Berkeley's character in Showgirls (1995) freely chose to be a stripper, then a Vegas showgirl; she is tough, determined, knows what she wants in life, and allows nobody to exploit her. She owns herself and calls all the shots. She is no victim; therefore, nudity and sexual content are anathema when the woman has exercised her freedom of choice voluntarily. She's wandered off the victimhood plantation!

    Berkeley has barely worked since then. The writer, Joe Eszterhas, as more or less disappeared from the scene as well. The director of Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven, after being savaged in the industry press for his "sick" and "debasing" movie, eventually tried to expiate his sins by directing -- and deliberately trashing -- Starship Troopers (1997). He turned Robert A. Heinlein's tour de force paean to individual freedom into what the movie's own pitch package described as a "glorious celebration of fascism."

    (Verhoeven famously bragged that he hated the Heinlein novel so much, he never got past the second chapter; n.b. fewer than thirty-five pages of the paperback. He inverted everything in the book to make it appear as though it advocaed xenophobic racism and a fascist state -- take that, Heinlein! The attacks on Verhoeven ceased, but his career still seems more or less over.)

    Which brings us, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, back to the international Left and its peculiar love-hate relationship with pornography; for yesterday, we learnt that a strong majority of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) plan to vote to ban all forms of pornography in the European Union, whether print, video, film, or even internet sites.

    This monumental act of censorship is being pushed because of what the EuroLeft calls "a bid to 'eliminate gender stereotypes' that demean women":

    The proposal "calls on the EU and its member states to take concrete action on discrimination against women in advertising... [with] a ban on all forms of pornography in the media".

    Kartika Liotard, a Dutch left-wing feminist MEP, is seeking "statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising and for a ban on advertising for pornographic products and sex tourism", including measures in the "digital field".

    The MEPs are also demanding the establishment of state sex censors with "a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls".

    This particular vote is non-binding; but it's the first step along the road towards legislating an enforceable ban on anything the EuroLeft deems, in its unbiased and nonpartisan wisdom, to be "pornography," "discrimination against women," or "gender stereotypes."

    While many conservatives might wish something could be done about pornography, their desire to censor is inhibited by a respect for freedom of speech, plus the understanding that once the State gains authority to define and ban "pornography," then anything the Left dislikes can be so labeled -- thus banned as well:

    • Al Gore might well believe that climate "denialism" is obscene and needs to be expunged from the world.
    • Michael Bloomberg would be overjoyed to censor all advertising for (or even mention of) products and services he personally disdains, such as sugary drinks, alcohol, or cigarettes.
    • And the scrawny, pasty, lumpy members of the Center for Science in the Public Interest are just itching to be able to ban all fatty cuisines -- Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Jewish, et al -- on the grounds that such foods "discriminate against women," because overweight women are "demeaned" and taunted by sexual predators -- i.e., men.

    Once the State says, "Adult women are not mature enough to handle certain kinds of speech, visual depictions, or the very idea of sexual practices other than those authorized by law," it infantilizes the entire female population... which is far more demeaning and discriminatory than pornography itself. The Left may as well pat women on the head and say, "There, there, don't bother your pretty, little head about such awful things."

    The mind boggles: I just saw a play titled the Deep Throat Sex Scandal in the dying heart of the crumbling city of lost angels; it humorously recounted the making of the most successful porn movie in history (worldwide take in the hundreds of millions of dollars) and the succession of criminal trials that followed in its wake.

    A prosecutor in Memphis, Tennessee filed criminal indictments for obscenity and conspiracy against the producer, director, distributers, and even one of the actors (Harry Reems) in the movie -- which was made entirely in New York City; none of the actors had ever even set foot in Tennessee before being hauled in by indictment or subpoena. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, where the prosecutor argued that if you make a movie in New York, and later someone shows that movie in Tennessee, the New York actors can be prosecuted where they never were for something that is not illegal where they actually were.

    The Court disagreed.

    As I watched the play (it boasted a large amount of full-frontal nudity, which was of course the main reason I bought a ticket), I was thinking that they had it all turned roundabout: They blamed all the porn censorship on rock-ribbed, Bible-thumpin' Baptists and babbittry. But they're behind their times; the New Right supports freedom of speech as against suppression of pornography. It's the New Left that has taken up the silencing man's burden of telling the rest of us what we're allowed to say, allowed to hear, and allowed to think; and it has been the Left for decades.

    The ban does not appear to have much to do with ending the demeaning of women; so far as I can tell from the article, the ban would apply equally to lesbian pornography, even that which is completely empowering to women. And it wouldn't apply to Bill Clinton.

    But I'm quite certain exceptions would be made for works with "redeeming social purposes," which in practice would mean whenever sex is used to sell leftist propaganda, as in Striptease. Or for that matter, as in Starship Troopers, which includes full-frontal nudity in service of slandering one of America's best Capitalist writers and the most successful advocate of liberty and libertarianism in the holy realm of science fiction.

    It's always tempting to censor, control, suppress, silence, and eliminate opposing viewpoints; in our meaner moments, duct-taping their mouths seems so much easier and more satisfying than merely arguing. But to reject the very foundation of Western liberal democracy -- free and open inquiry, freedom of speech, and even freedom to do things that we ourselves may find distasteful and even "demeaning" -- is to fling ourselves from the mild heat of injudicious use of liberty into the roaring hellflames of totalitarianism.

    The Left finds that bargain acceptable. The Right demurs.

    Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 9, 2013, at the time of 4:25 AM | Comments (4)

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