Thursday, February 28, 2008

I should thank NASA for my guitars?

That's odd. To think that for all of these years, I have wasted time thanking, among others, people like Les Paul, Leo Fender, Jim Marshall, Ted McCarty and Seymour Duncan (there are many others as well) for their contributions towards guitars, especially with the contributions over the last 50 to 60 years which are too numerous to list.

I read about this over at Kip's blog. Because I am a bit of a guitar aficionado (and an admitted snob), so I went on over to the NASA site to check things out.

I guess the good news is that I do learn something new every day. I was not aware that guitars manufactured under the Ovation brand did have a link to NASA. How interesting. However, all the aeronautical engineering, fiberglass bodies and broken windows* that may have went into this so-called NASA contribution does not change the fact that the best tones come from quality woods (mahogany, koa, rosewood).

Despite my tone snobbery, let us not lose sight of the big picture that Kip explains so well:

- NASA is not a public good, nor will it ever be...

- Because NASA is funded via taxation, every dollar that is used to fund NASA is a dollar forcibly removed from private individuals, making it more difficult for the Leo Fenders, Les Pauls and Jim Marshalls of the world to create/invent/modify something that a market for that product may call "neat-o".

* if you do not understand the meaning of the title used in Kip's post, it is worth following the link he provides.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not about the truth, huh?

I was in a bit of an evolution-creationism discussion earlier today, which is somewhat funny since my scientific knowledge on these matters is not close to what it should be. In the context of that discussion, here is a comment that was in a response to me:

Us Christians are ONLY told to SHARE the Gospel NOT CONVINCE anyone that it is true.

While people can hold whatever religious views they wish to hold so long as they are not violating the rights of other individuals, in the context of the discussion at hand, I responded:

Yet, you seek to "disprove" science by pointing out its gaps, which, if such a futile tactic actually worked, would leave only one default explanation for the origins of the world. You're right though. You are not out to convince that your version of things is true, only every other possible explanation is false. Gee, sleazy telemarketers are more subtle than that.

I thought God hated liars and hypocrites, or is your kind of hypocrite somehow exempt from His wrath?

Even in the broader context, I do not believe this statement to be true. I spent fourteen years living in the Midwest and my dealings with fundamentalist Christians were such that everything about religion was about seeing the truth as they see it. My experiences were more inline with what Andrew Sullivan discussed in The Conservative Soul and the fundamentalist mindset than a friendly, cordial exchange of ideas.* As I said, sleazy telemarketers are more subtle.

I was also smeared (at least I believe I was) as an anti-Christian bigot, which is funny because I always thought that the difference between people like the person I was having the discussion with and myself is that I am more than capable of leaving well enough alone and not using the force of government to soothe my aching feelings. I'm sure my gay friends will know exactly what I'm referring to, although I wish they didn't have to.

* For what it's worth, I recognize that there exceptions.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Be Back to Blogging Soon...

I have a million things going on so my blogging will be a bit sporadic for the near-term. Hope all is well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Pot Calling the Kettle Deranged Indeed...

Americaneocon over at American Power attempts to pillory Andrew McCarthy's recent article "McCain Estrangement Syndrome". He never addresses any of the substantive points of McCarthy's legal arguments, criticizes McCarthy for "having an easy out" and, in general, proves McCarthy's point in the third paragraph about not only the pot calling the kettle deranged, but the fact that such attempts in doing so are futile.

Rather than fisk the McCarthy article, I will summarize his three main points below:

First, McCarthy explains his discomfort towards McCain as being capable of appointing conservative judges. McCarthy correctly notes that McCain has been at odds with judicial conservatives on a number of different issues (the First Amendment and the Geneva Conventions being two of them - as one can gather by reviewing the relevant case law). On the second page of McCarthy's article, there is a whole litany of other items that are addressed.

Second, McCarthy suggests that there is a valid conservative case to rejecting John McCain as a presidential nominee by suggesting a Republican-controlled Congress would fare better if set against a Democrat president. That issue, however is moot since McCarthy himself rejects this argument on the grounds that McCain would serve far better as commander-in-chief than a President Obama or a President Clinton could. Given that this carries more weight (barely) than his other concerns, it is obvious to me that he would support McCain in November.

His last point is a point that some of the more rational and reasonable McCain supporters have made: without the so-called "irrational right", it is uncertain that McCain can win a general election. I am not going to predict whether or not McCarthy is correct here, but it seems like winning elections does require a bit of coalition building.

What does McCarthy get for his troubles? Well, let us start with the subject of McCain's deviations from the principles held by judicial conservatives as a matter of constitutional law:

But who does this help? Certainly not Mike Huckebee, who was the target of the irrational right around the time of his big win in the Iowa caucuses. Remember, Huck's the governor who wanted illegal aliens to attend college. Aghast, an open-borders recidivist!!

So what's McCarthy doing? He's turning the psychological tables.

Obviously, the arguments elucidating McCain Derangement Syndrome have been compelling, so the Malkin-tents and the Rush-bots need to fight fire with fire.

McCarthy all but states in the article that he would support McCain in an election against Obama or Clinton so he is not trying to help Huckabee (in fact, he criticizes Huckabee). Turning the psychological tables? How? Dr. Sanity's link, while interesting, certainly would not apply to arguments like the ones made by McCarthy because McCarthy has not, anywhere (and I dare anyone to show me otherwise), taken anything close to the more absurd positions taken by conservative pundits like Hannity, Levin, Malkin, Limbaugh, etc.

All of the ranting and raving about psychological ploys does not change the fact that this is a major issue amongst legal conservatives, who for decades have building a sizable legal establishment and wish not to see their efforts tossed aside as easily as McCain tossed aside the First Amendment. (Slate's Dahlia Lithwich has more here) It strains any and all credibility to suggest that the arguments made by legal conservatives, who understand the stakes if more moderate or liberal nominees are appointed to the Court, are a defense against the highly persuasive arguments for "McCain Derangement Syndrome". There are consequences here that will outlast a McCain presidency, in the event there is one. Of course, if I was a legal conservative (I'm not), I don't think that response would have done anything to placate my own concerns.

Going on to the next part, McCarthy suggests that he would vote for McCain for reasons explained above. Americaneocon's response?

So, that it? It's a no brainer that conservatives have a rational, principled position to take in continued oppostion of McCain? But in the next breath they have the easy out in backing the Arizona Senator because of the war.

Aha!! There it is, the Holy Grail!!

Base conservatives can continue to rail away at McCain's apostasies, while simultaneously they can concede that things must be resolved in favor of the war!

This is not estrangement, but further derangement. There's no such thing as the perfect Republican presidential candidate.

Reagan certainly wasn't.

Aha!!! There it is, the Holy Strawman...

McCarthy never once speaks of the perfect candidate (Reagan is neither mentioned nor implied), never claims that he would take his ball and go home if John McCain was the nominee for the GOP (as others have) and appears to do what many people have, in perhaps their own peculiar ways, have wanted conservatives critical of McCain to do: support him.

Obviously, that's not good enough. One must not only be committed to voting for him, but also committed to his form of conservatism and view it as a "great" form of conservatism:

But maybe there's hope here, as McCarthy perhaps reveals the seeds of clarity in his argument. Perchance, with this prompt, anti-McCainiacs can start pumping up the benefits of a McCain presidency, while realizing that his conservative bona fides are just a strong as many of his great Republican predecessors.

McCarthy's argument is as clear as day: 1) there are reasons to believe McCain is faithful to the legal principles of judicial conservatism; 2) there are principled and rational reasons to oppose voting for McCain in a general election; 3) it would be unwise to engage in (2) because McCain is arguably the best suited candidate to address the national security concerns with respect to the war on terror.

Has Americaneocon addressed McCarthy's arguments? Not at all. He dismisses him as deranged. He sets up strawman to refute arguments McCarthy does not make. He goes on to rant and rave about Anthony Kennedy, movement conservatives who are completely and utterly irrelevant to the topic of constitutional law and judicial appointments, which centered on conservative interpretations of law as opposed to movement conservatism (and succeeding to lump McCarthy in with that group).

Get over yourself. Millions of voters, many of whom will have a wide range of disagreements with the man on the issues and on whether or not he represents the sort of bonafides that voters want to see in a conservative candidate, will vote for him. They will not now, if ever, view McCain in the same mold as Reagan (who is not held as perfect - another strawman). The best you can possibly do is get those people to vote for McCain and hash out the disagreements later. If you don't like McCarthy's legal arguments, try a substantive response. Simple as that.

Of course, going Lew Rockwell on people and attacking them for not seeing the ideological greatness of your own preferred candidate (a page out of the paleolibertarian playbook when dealing with us Ron Paul critics - I will not provide links) proves McCarthy right.

It is almost ironic that this neoconservative, who has skewered Paul for months and taken a couple of less-than-impressive cheap shots towards libertarians, has taken a page out of the paleolibertarian playbook and attempts to excorciate someone who all but said he would support McCain for not being supportive enough. It's enough to make Justin Raimondo proud.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. If you'll excuse me, I must go and get fitted for a straightjacket. I hope they have them in black.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Michael Medved on McCain and Free Speech

Oh boy. McCain Derangement Syndrome may be a bug irritating the backside of some of McCain's supporters, but it hardly is a worthwhile excuse to explain unbridled stupidity.

Micheal Medved does not disappoint (via Sparks from the Anvil). Here's an excerpt. The whole thing is in his post.

TRUTH: McCain-Feingold was a piece of useless, misguided legislation but it’s done no serious damage to the country, the constitution or the conservative pro-life cause. After nearly seven years on the books, robust and impassioned discussion of political issues and candidates is more vibrant and free-wheeling than ever. The pro-life movement (with McCain’s enthusiastic support) has made substantial progress in the last seven years, changing minds and hearts and driving abortion rates to their lowest point in 29 years—unimpeded by McCain-Feingold.

I can boil Medved's analysis down to the following theme using a crude utiltarianism: McCain-Feingold - stupid but not so bad. Broadcaster Freedom Act - Great because the Fairness Doctrine is bad. Net-net, he is a protector of free speech.

From a political point of view, the world is full of idiots who can rationalize their to whatever policy position they prefer. Perhaps I have been guilty of that from time to time.

That said, "no law" means "no law". That is how the law works. It is no less illegal for some illegal alien to cross over the Rio Grande in our country in violation of the laws of our country than it is for Congress to pass a law that clearly abridges political speech. McCain (and a whole lot of others including the idiot President who signed it) crossed that line. All the excuse making and rationalization will not change the fact that it disrespects the Constitution. If that does not bother you, then so be it. I will strongly disagree with that position but at least be honest about it.

Furthermore, Medved's shameless shilling really got awful:

It’s important to me as a talk show host and as an American that John McCain has already stood up to defend conservative talk radio even while its most prominent practitioners used their microphones to defame the man every day. A lesser politician might easily succumb to the temptation to deploy government power – or even the threat of government power – to silence the chorus of hysterically strident voices raised against him. McCain’s refusal to do so says something powerful about his character.

Defamation is a crime. You want to clear that hurdle by criticizing a politican? Good luck. (see NY Times v Sullivan). Furthermore, am I to believe that is a testament to a morally defective politician's character that, despite criticism that "defames him" that he is strong enough to turn away the urge to use the power of government against those critics? Please. First and foremost, it would be political suicide to do so and even a half-wit can figure that out. Second, such an act would certainly run into a brick wall with the First Amendment, that is, if the political process did not derail it first. Who is he kidding?

If conservative supporters of John McCain find this so-called McCain Derangement Syndrome a bit of a pain in the ass, so be it. I'm no fan of the Coulters, Malkins, Levins and Limbaughs of the world so their histrionics will not have a sympathetic ear on this end. However, I would urge a bit of caution. Putting lipstick on a pig won't turn that pig into the supermodel of your dreams or some other creation in your own image. All you have is the same nasty, smelly pig with lipstick on it.

Medved's analysis lacks substance. The merits of his arguments are weak and resemble the sort of excuse making and crude consequentialism relativists use to justify their own preferred positions on issues. Call me unconvinced.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Any Call of Duty 4 Players?

Any of my readers?

PC or XBox?

I just got hooked on the PC version and have played the multiplayer rather extensively over the past two nights. Lots of fun!

Just saying...