Saturday, January 28, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

Haven't we learned anything?

Good grief-o-ramus, Americans really are a bunch of morons:

"Despite persistent disillusionment with the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans supports taking military action against Iran if that country continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found."

Could someone explain to me why it's OK for us to bomb other countries who want to develop nukes, but not OK for other countries to bomb us for already having done so?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Justice for a justice

A group of New Hampshire activists is trying to get the state to take over Supreme Court Justive David Souter's house so they can convert it into a hotel under the auspices of the new eminent domain doctrine that Souter voted to support. Under the new doctrine, eminent domain can be used to take private property not only for public use but also for private development.

I hope they succeed in taking Souter's house away. Justice would be well served.

Capitalism in action

I have mixed feelings upon learning that capitalism is apparently stepping up to the plate to solve the oil shortage. The price of oil has gotten high enough to make it possible to make a profit from Canadian oil sands. This means that oil will be expensive from here on, but we won't actually run out for a very long time. That gives civilization a little breathing room until we figure out how to make cold fusion work.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we'll have to put up with all the traffic, noise, exhaust fumes and greenhouse gasses for long, long time. But I guess that's better than having civilization collapse.

A salute to Clarence Thomas

Ishakamusa wrote:

Justice Clarence Thomas is amazingly consistent and logical.

I was skeptical of this until I finally got around to reading his opinion in Gonzales vs. Raich, the California medical marijuana case. I was certain that Thomas would vote to uphold the federal government's power to override and state's attempt to legalize marijuana use, and thus reveal himself to be just as hypocritical as all the rest of the conservatives on the court.

I was wrong. Thomas dissented. Wow.

So here's something I never thought I'd say: Justice Thomas, I salute you.

If a fetus is a person...

On what appears might be the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade it seems like a good occasion to ask...

If a fetus is a person, why do we wait until someone is born before we count them in the census or allow people to claim them as dependents on their tax returns?

Why do we measure their age from their birthday instead of their conception day?

Why do we not issue a death certificate or hold a funeral after a miscarriage?

Would it be OK for an art museum to charge a pregnant woman for two tickets?

Why do we generally wait until after someone is born to give them a name?

Should we start to make heroic efforts to save babies born with anencephaly? And if your answer is yes, should we dispense with the concept of "brain death" in adult humans?

Why is so much time and effort being spent trying to save unwanted fetuses, when thousands of fully fledged human children die every day from a lack of clean drinking water and basic medical care?

Why does there seem to be almost universal consensus that abortion ought to be legal to preserve the health of the mother, and in cases of rape or incest? After all, if a fetus really is a person whose moral standing is no different than a fully fledged baby, then abortion is murder then there is no moral difference between performing an abortion and committing infanticide. Surely infanticide should not be legal under any circumstances?

Why did it take the Catholic church almost 1800 years before it decided that a fetus was a person?

The answer to all these appearent dilemmas is so crystal clear it just makes me want to tear my hair out. What makes somone a person is not a full complement of human DNA, but a functioning brain. It is not always easy to draw the line of where brain function begins and ends, but that has never stopped us from doing do in many, many circumstances, without the moral histrionics associated with abortion.

Which brings me to the most puzzling question of all: why do so many women continue to vote Republican?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Right result, wrong reason

Once again I find myself, to my neverending astonishment, agreeing with Clarence Thomas, who observes in his dissent in Gonzales vs Oregon that the majority's opinion is diametrically opposed to their ruling just seven months ago in Gonzales vs Raich, a medical marijuana case. If you decide that Congress has the power to make it a crime for someone to cultivate a marijuana plant in their back yard with a doctor's prescription, there is just no way that you can then turn around and say that they don't have the same power to make it a crime for a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of morphine and still retain any semblance of logical consistency. (I don't have time to look up the Raich opinion right now. I wonder on which side Thomas came down on that one.)

The Right Answer, it seems to me, is that Congress doesn't have the power to outlaw either one. The idea that someone growing a marijuana plant in their back yard for their own personal use necessarily has something to do with interstate commerce seems to me absurd on its face. But, of course, conservatives have long since abandoned the notion of limited government, especially when it comes time to legislate morality.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A clear sign

Pasadena was dry (albeit cold and grey) until about 2 PM today. Tomorrow's chance of rain is 100%.

Clearly, God is sending a message that He wants the Rose Parade to happen on New Year's Day even if it does happen to fall on a Sunday.


It's 9:18 AM on parade day. I live about ten miles from the parade route and it is raining cats out here. I watched about half an hour of the parade on TV. My hat is off to all the participants. It's about as miserable out there as it ever gets here in SoCal, but somehow they're still managing to have fun -- or at least putting on a pretty convincing act. Either way, it's inspiring.

The floats look like they're holding up surprisingly well too, at least on TV.