Thursday, September 28, 2006

Free at Last!

From the BBC:
Armed robbers have stolen the iconic Edvard Munch painting, The Scream, from the Munch Museum in Norway.
Despite this traumatic experience, according to the Onion, “The Scream Returns From Two-Year Vacation Relaxed.”

Before: Image Hosted by

After: Image Hosted by

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bad News!

Check out the McCain-Feingold Iron Curtain Roundup. Remember McCain-Feingold, aka the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002? It’s that lovely little law that once threatened to silence the political blogosphere 60 days prior to an election and does prohibit “broadcast advertising that contains criticism of members of Congress seeking re-election in November.”

[h/t Coyote Blog]

Good News!

Well, it looks as though Radly Balko’s relentless coverage of a horrible miscarriage of justice has finally paid off:
“Cory Maye will not sleep on death row tonight. Nor, for that matter, any night for the foreseeable future.”
A while back, I mentioned Maye’s story (here), with more links to others’ thoughts on the subject.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The problem with moral arguments…

Moral arguments invoke a worldview. Consequently, most moral arguments attempt to demonstrate that the worldview is internally consistent and valid. This is deep philosophical territory, and so most moral arguments try to get mileage by being simple. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of simplification is that the arguer is dismissed from questioning his worldview. Consequently, the argument's premises are often challenged by the opponent. [quote via BC Skeptics]
Scott Scheule proves the point above as he attempts to debunk utilitarianism: the concept that maximizing the good for the most people is a moral priority. But I, like Scott, favor a natural rights-based moral philosophy.
Many people do indeed agree that some pleasure is good, but utilitarianism goes further than that: not only is pleasure good, but all pleasure is good, and it is to be maximized. And that view enjoys something far less than unanimity. I think most people would also agree that not only do women have a right not to be raped, but that that right exists no matter how much utility the rapist gets from the rape. And the idea that the pleasure from raping a woman is a good thing is quite controversial indeed. Mill appealed to commonly held intuitions… but so did Nozick.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fuzzy Immigration Math

According to a Washington Post article, the Republican-dominated Congress is ignoring a CBO study on the economic impact of immigration.
Would offering undocumented immigrants a path to legalization bust the federal budget? Critics of the Senate immigration bill, which seeks to crack down on illegal immigration while giving many currently undocumented workers a chance to work legally in this country, tout a Congressional Budget Office study that they say shows the bill would cost a whopping $126 billion over 10 years. A fair reading of that study, however, suggests that the bill's actual impact on the deficit would be close to zero and that it could even be beneficial.


So how did critics of the Senate bill arrive at the sensational $126 billion figure, which appears nowhere in the CBO report? First, they counted all of the bill's spending increases while ignoring all of its increases in revenue. For example, they counted the increased costs of Social Security and Medicare benefits for those additional immigrants who would qualify for them, while ignoring the increased Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes the immigrants would pay to qualify for those benefits.
My position on immigration is outlined here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hillary Clinton: not a liberal?

Lindsay Beyerstein, of Majikthise, apparently thinks that Hillary Clinton isn’t “a real liberal”.
Clinton's anonymous friends seem to know her much better than the public at large. She's a center-right Democrat who gets along really well with Republicans. The right wing noise machine has convinced the public that Hillary is some kind of liberal firebrand.

If we're going to nominate a candidate who will be perceived as a liberal, we might as well run a real liberal candidate.
More “liberal” than Hillary, they don’t come. For instance:

"We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society." [Hillary Clinton, 1993]

"We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans ..." [President Bill Clinton, 'USA Today' March 11, 1993: Page 2A]

"Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all." [Nikita Khrushchev, February 25, 1956 20th Congress of the Communist Party]

There is the great, silent, continuous struggle: the struggle between the State and the Individual; between the State which demands and the individual who attempts to evade such demands. Because the individual, left to himself, unless he be a saint or hero, always refuses to pay taxes, obey laws, or go to war. [Benito Mussolini]

Actually, in light of Hillary’s dim view of individual rights (and those of her strange bed fellows), she’s more like a socialist. After all, classical liberals are the “real liberals”.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Leary on Gibson

If you’re a fan of Denis Leary, normblog is the place to go for a fix. One of Norm’s posts about Leary, which first appeared a couple of years ago, quoted Leary:
That's what they do, man. They go into rehab and they come out and they blame everybody except themselves. They blame their parents, right? That's the way. Everybody comes from a dysfunctional family all of [a] sudden, huh? Rosanne Barr comes from a dysfunctional family? Not Rosanne! She seems so normal to me! The Jacksons were dysfunctional!? Not the Jacksons! These people give each other new heads for Christmas for Christ's sake!
Recently, Norm linked to this: Leary and Rescue Me co-star Lenny Clarke taking Mel Gibson to task for his anti-Semitic remarks.

[If you’re missing Rescue Me, you’re missing a great show.]