Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good quote from Sonia Sotomayor

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care.
This is from a speech Sotomayor gave in 2002, one which is giving her a bit of grief, as a quote from it is taken out of context.
I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Within context it is still a bit overstated, although the meaning is clear; there is some value to having minorities and women serving on the bench; they bring something that their white male counterparts don't have. You might disagree with that, particularly if you believe that the law is always clear and easy to interpret.

At any rate, I advise reading the speech as a whole.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Childish Conservatives

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayer has really brought out the childish side of Conservatives, as they try to pretend something that just manifestly isn't true. Take David Limbaugh's latest article.
Obama said a Supreme Court nominee's two most important qualities are her rigorous intellect and mastery of the law and her recognition of the limits of the judicial role -- that a judge's job is to interpret law, not to make it.

Then came the "but," the exception that imperceptibly swallowed the rule. He quoted former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying, "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience." In other words: "Forget what I just said about how judges should interpret, not make, the law. I want my judges to have empathy. And don't tell anyone, but when I say 'empathy,' that's code for bending the law to achieve the results I want based on the selective empathy I have for certain victimized groups."
Or Thomas Sowell's latest article.
"Empathy" for particular groups can be reconciled with "equal justice under law"-- the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court-- only with smooth words. But not in reality.
Here's the childishness; the assessment that the law has basically one honest interpretation. When a judge rules, there is one right answer, clearly stated in the laws. If Sotomayer fails to apply the clearly self evident law, because of empathy or reverse racism or anything, she is unfit to serve. Conveniently the law, if properly applied, is always conservative.

But of course that is childish. If the law were so self evident, as Anonymous Liberal points out, well, Courts of Appeal and Supreme Courts wouldn't really be necessary.
But in Simplistic Republican World, none of this actually happens. Good conservative judges don't "make policy," they simply enforce the law. The law is apparently always clear. Indeed it's a wonder that lawyers even bother to appeal cases in the Fourth Circuit. After all, they should know that the conservative jurists in that circuit will simply "enforce the law" (because they wouldn't dream of "making policy"), so the outcome should be very predictable.
And, finally, it goes without saying that it wouldn't matter who Obama put up, they were always going to be the most liberal person ever nominated to the supreme court.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on Liberals Vs. Conservatives

I meant to publish that Adams piece yesterday by the way.

Anyway today's analysis of Liberals comes from John Hawkins who is somewhat less nuanced than Adams.
Liberals love to think of themselves as sophisticated, nuanced intellectuals, but the truth is they have a kindergartner’s view of the world. If it has been defined as "nice" to people they like, they're for it. If it has been defined as "mean" to people they like, they’re against it -- and that is about as deep as it gets.
Hilarious. Untrue, but hilarious.

I will note that he echoes Adams from yesterday on one point.
There is no dream more eternal in the liberal heart than completely remaking human nature. If we could all just care about the person across the world as much as we do our families, we could live in a utopia! Unfortunately, in practice, human nature tends to be quite a bit more difficult to subvert than in the liberal imagination. That's why, despite more than 5,000 years of human civilization, very little progress has been made in this area – but, oh, the Left is still trying.
I like the phrase remaking human nature - it kind of puts a creepy mind control spin on the idea people react to their environments. If people live in a crummy environment that they see little hope of getting out of, they will turn to almost anything that promises a way out or at least some dignity. If we can make people's environments less miserable and hopeless, the Osama Bin Ladin's of the world will not be quite so persuasive.

But wait, it turns out that thanks to conservatisms more accurate view of human nature, terrorists would be come terrorists no matter what, because they are just evil inside. So trying to make the world less crummy is a waste of time. Yeah, that's the more adult way of looking at things.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Human Nature

Mike S. Adams takes a break from complaining about how hard it is to be a conservative on campus to write about the differences between liberals and conservatives. He does correctly state that we see human nature differently.
The conservative sees man as born in a broken state. This tragic view of human nature sees man as selfish and hedonistic by design. Given his nature, it is no wonder a man chooses crime. It is a wonder he ever chooses conformity.

. . . the liberal sees things differently. Everyone is born “good” with a blank slate. To the extent that people become “bad” it is because “society” corrupted them. Nowhere does the liberal explain how combining many good people makes a bad society.
Fair enough as far as it goes; except that Adams misses a key factor in his analysis; Liberals see humans as changeable. If a human is mistreated or abused he might turn more towards extreme or evil ways of expressing himself. If a human is treated with respect or kindness he might turn more positive or good.

For Conservatives, it seems, the only salvation is that offered by Christianity; only Christ can purify a heart to make it good. Hence there's no point to trying to clean up slums and help poor inner city kids get into college. Unless they have been cleansed by Christ, such efforts accomplish nothing other than giving an already wicked and corrupt person more tools to pursue his wickedness and corruption.

Now when it comes to ultimate salvation, Christian Conservatives might be right. But when it comes to the here and now, they couldn't be more wrong or destructive in their beliefs. Because the assumption that bad people can't change leads to, as mentioned above, no reason to make life better for those struggling (of course when you combine it with the theory that those who are wealthy must have earned deserved their wealth and those who are poor are condemned by God or their own laziness, than you have twice the reason not to care about the poor).

Beyond that he specifically notes that Conservatives believe diplomacy to be a stupid waste of time. People who are our enemies are going to stay our enemies until we crush them (some how defeating our enemies and conquering their countries will make them our buddies).

At any rate it's not hard headed and rational to assume that humans cannot change; it's childish. The only constant in human nature is change. That change can be for better or worse, but it's only logical to figure out ways to encourage positive change.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Should we be Civil to One Another?

Yes! No! Maybe!

Just read Michael Gerson's latest article at Townhall in which he says that liberals in particular should be nicer to conservatives.
America doesn't need another scolding lecture on the importance of civility. Well, apparently it does. So here goes.
Well, only if you are really sure.

This is in relation to Wanda Sykes appearance at the White House Correspondents dinner. Frankly she had some funny bits, but the bit about Rush Limbaugh isn't funny. Or it's funny in the same way that Ann Coulter is funny; if you already hate the person she's talking about, it seems pretty plausible.

Once again it seems necessary to point out that Wanda Sykes isn't setting policy and has little power within the Democratic party - contrast to Rush Limbaugh who apparently does have considerable influence on his fellow conservatoids.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Find myself a City to live in

Having a hard time plowing through conservatoid writing today, so thought I would point you to this interesting article at Commondreams about redesigning our cities. The author has some alarmism in it, as most environmental articles do, but the basic ideas are really interesting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mordently funny

It's humorous to read Ben Shapiro's latest article in which he warns that attempts to shame critics of the Obama Administration are an early warning sign of Nazism or Leninism. Of course such attempts are far more unorganized and sporadic than they were under President Bush, attempts with Shapiro happily supported. Such as these lines from an article in 2006.
Americans may be unhappy with Republicans, but Republicans must make clear that the alternative is a country run by those who consistently side with enemies of the American people.
It is fairly simple though - to conservatives like Shapiro the conservative point of view is worth defending and the liberal viewpoint is to be stamped out if possible. So freedom of speech is great when a conservative is talking. When a liberal is talking? Well, it's at best a necessary evil.

There's No More Magic

So what makes absinthe absinthe? Essentially it is a neutral spirit infused with myriad herbs and botanicals, centering around anise, fennel and a specific type of wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, from which absinthe takes its name. This wormwood contains small amounts of thujone, a compound once thought to affect the mind. It’s understood now that hallucinations and other health issues attributed to overindulging in absinthe were more a result of alcohol poisoning due to the high alcohol content, typically 50 to 70 percent.
So much for the green fairy - this depressing news from the New York Times.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is Conservatism?

I suppose after doing this blog for so long I should know the answer, but Conservatives keep confusing me. The latest is John Hawkins who encourages Republicans to take up the banner of "No" proudly.
The GOP has spent eight years fudging the differences between the Republican and Democrat parties. In large part, that's why the American people tossed the Republican Party out on its collective behind: given a choice between Democrats and Democrat-lite, they chose the real thing.

Now, after being referred to as "The Party of No," the GOP should embrace that label instead of running from it. Yes, we have plenty of solutions, but before they can be implemented, Barack Obama has to be stopped -- he has to fail. Wanting Barack Obama to fail is like wanting someone who's trying to beat your child to death with a shovel to fail. You want him to fail because you love your child and we want Barack Obama to fail because we love this country.
Pretty grim language there, incidentally. Obama's governance is like beating a child with a shovel? Yeah that might be beyond the pale.

But what I find baffling is the theory that Republicans haven't been conservative enough. I kind of get where they are coming from on the budget; Republicans spent money pretty good in their years. But then the very first issue Hawkins brings up for Republicans to say no to is the closing of Gitmo - aren't Republicans the party of Gitmo?

At any rate, with Cheney, Limbaugh, and articles like these, we have no shortage of conservatives encouraging Republicans to go all out on principles.

Monday, May 11, 2009

We're Doomed

According to Doug Giles, in his latest article, the ancient prophets of the Old Testament were like "Rush, Beck, Coulter, Miller or O’Reilly on steroids."

I think I just lost my religion.

He also says that we are pretty much screwed.
I’m guessin’ God hasn’t had an extreme makeover and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, which could mean in our current culture—where evil is good and good is evil—that we might be in line for grave negative sanctions because, apparently, America’s new favorite pastime is whizzing on that which is holy, just and good.
Our new favorite pastime is whizzing on that which his holy just and good? Oh I see, kind of like comparing Old Testament prophets to Ann Coulter - yeah I guess that would get under God's skin.

It's possible that Doug Giles isn't really a theologian you should trust.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sex Doesn't Sell

At least when it comes to computer games, according to an article at the Guardian. The article reviews the history of sexy video games, and notes that oddly, a number of games that feature prominent breasts (or boobies if you will), don't sell quite as well as you would expect them too.
Far from the porn-crazed sex ghouls they're frequently portrayed as, male videogame players appear to be developing quite a potent resistance to exploitative, sex-based marketing practices.
I think the key question is not whether or not a game is sexy or not but whether or not a game is fun or not. If a game is fun, well, the design sense, whether fun and light, heavy and dark, or, well, overly sexualized is icing on the cake. If the game is not fun, well, all the breasts in the world (which I calculate to be 6,722 million) won't make it fun.

What he said

Call me an alarmist, but we are witnessing the beginning of the most frightening period of government tyranny in our nation's history.
OK, you're an alarmist.

This is from David Limbaugh's latest article, in which he reviews Obama's mythical hatred of capitalism. To conservatives of Limbaugh's stripe, Capitalism is like virginity; the moment it is compromised through regulation or taxation, it is gone. It begs the question of whether or not we've had capitalism since the 1800s, but I gather they would say that we have had, at best, an incomplete capitalism since then.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

All over the Map

David Limbaugh's latest article reads almost like a stream of consciousness. He starts out explaining that America is still, all signs to the contrary, a conservative nation. In order to win the Republicans need to be more Conservative. Fair enough, if a bit dependent on what I like to call "wishful thinking."

Limbaugh then moves to attack Obama in the standard way; familiar if you were around in the Clinton Era. Obama is a super liberal but pretends to be a moderate.
Obama tells us he's a disciple of capitalism while he gobbles up big chunks of the private sector and refuses to allow them out from under his government thumb when they try to refund their TARP money. He declares an end to earmarks as he signs a bill bloated with almost 9,000 of them. He boasts of his fiscal responsibility as he schemes to quadruple the deficit.
Yeah that's pretty familiar. But don't worry, Limbaugh sees hope on the horizon in the battle over the Supreme Court. After they trash the character of any candidate for the Supreme Court Obama puts up, well, they can paint Obama as a crazy liberal for having put him up in the first place.

We'll have to see how that works.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Obama's First Justice

Well Conservatives have already started working on Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court - a nomination he hasn't made yet, but one they know will be just awful. Carol Platt Liebau decries the possibility of Obama picking an empathetic justice, which she takes to me empathetic to unwed mothers and accused criminals. From this (and ignoring the rest of Obama's statement, she concludes that Obama wants a super legislator on the bench running roughshod over the constitution and decent Americans.
Instead, Obama wants a policymaker sitting on the Supreme Court – in fact, a super-lawmaker on steroids. He’s looking for a judge willing to engage in an enterprise that has nothing to do with the actual process of adjudication – that is, interpreting the laws that have been passed by a legislature and signed by an executive.
Of course the assumption Liebau makes here is that the conservative interpretation of the laws is the only reasonable one; the only way that a justice would rule in agreement with Kennedy or Ginsburg is if they were being essentially unreasonable. Empathy clouds their minds and they vote by something other than the law.

Poppycock. While I might strongly disagree with an Alito or a Scalia, I'm not going to pretend like they don't know the law. Nor am I going to pretend like they don't have legal rationales for why they vote the way they do; I simply disagree with their interpretation (or to be more precise, I agree with people who know far more about such issues than I do).

In other news, Kevin James suggests Daffy Duck as the ideal candidate for the Surpreme Court; largely because he is a minority, black, handicapped (speech impediment), and a perpetual victim. Because the only thing we liberals are looking for is minorities, not qualifications. Clearly this must be so because if we were interested in a qualified candidate we would select another White guy.