Monday, December 31, 2012

The verbal river of gold begins :-D

Please kindly direct your attention to "Perfectivism: An Introduction" (dated today), a new, definitive, one-page presentation of this soon-to-be-revolutionary philosophy.

And a Happy New Year to you all, as well! :-)

P.S. An "Occupy 4/20" kind of deal ought to be a cinch to pull off, shouldn't it?  Only 5 days after Tax Day and all?  Budmageddon? :-D  (All of you reading this, repeat after me: You can't refute Perfectivism. :-)

An item in the queue: an Ultimate Dialectic concerning classic theism, panentheism, pantheism, deism, atheism, agnosticism, fideism, naturalism, humanism, teleology, Intelligent Design, the Fine-Tuning of Cosmological Constants Argument, the Problem of Unnecessary Suffering, Necessary-Existence as a Predicate, Alvin Plantinga, (neo-)Aristotelian metaphysics and epistemology, Hegelian idealism, process philosophy and theology, Charles Hartshorne, Antony Flew, J. L. Mackie, Charles Taylor, Robert Nozick, Daniel Dennett, George H. Smith, Mark Johnston, and related concepts and people.  (Teaser: panentheism appears to be a very strong contender, followed in approximate order by atheism, deism, agnosticism/undecided, pantheism and (mayhaps) a modally-necessarily-existing deity.  All but the last one listed are, to their credit, naturalistic; a neo-Aristotelian dialectical resolution probably comes down to a 3-way showdown between three naturalisms: panentheism, deism, and atheism; the idea of a modally-necessarily-existing deity involves the notion of a completely perfect being, which arguably has no cognitive content, within a perfectivist conceptual framework or otherwise. Spinozist pantheism is a bit of a tough nut to crack: it is a naturalism which treats the world as the material mode or expression of God [I think], while treating God as synonymous with all of reality or existence - hence, "pan"-theism.  There might be a methodologically-flawed rationalistic castle in the sky having been erected here; it could collapse into panentheism upon further inspection; or mayhaps both, which might also indict panentheism as rationalistic castle-in-the-sky-building, or "floating abstractions" untethered, Aristotelian-style, to empirical observation of nature.  Is there room in a (neo-)Aristotelian metaphysics for a being of pure actuality or form, or is that, as with the notion of a completely perfect being, rationalistic and/or arguably devoid of cognitive content?  Finally, what are the conceptual interrelations between panentheism, the cosmological fine-tuning argument, and the problem of unnecessary suffering?  Does the ultimate dialectical showdown among these three concepts evolve into a probabilistic "what seems more likely than not?" question weighing naturally-observed-fine-tuning-with-perfect-divine-foreknowledge against naturally-observed morally-pointless suffering, or does it involve (or require?) some dialectically-necessary synthesis of these key concepts into an integral and seamless unity, as is typical of Aristotelian method?  If panentheism doesn't work to reconcile these concerns, and short of remaining agnostic/undecided, then we seem to be left with either a fideistic leap to God-plus-an-afterlife-where-all-wrongs-are-righted, or a godless physical world or nature.  For an Aristotelian naturalist, then, process of elimination appears to bring it down to a choice between panentheism succeeding in non-rationalistic fashion, or accepting a godless metaphysics and epistemology.  Processes of elimination are a key element of perfective human cognition, BTW.)

Also in the queue: Our moral obligations toward animals (SPOILER: factory farming is a moral abomination and should be ended ASAFP); The Israel-Palestine situation (Something Something even Dershowitz and Chomsky agree on the merits of Taba, criminy gee whiz goshdarnit would you look at that...); Solving the "problem of induction": the interrelations between induction, integration, unit-economy, hierarchy, organization of mental content, induction as a perfective process, and later findings (using strictly modern-scientific or perfective methods of thinking) as always building upon and never contradicting earlier findings.  ("The earth is flat" is not a modern-scientifically-established finding; such examples of pre-modern scientific fallibility furnish no good case against induction on epistemic or scientific grounds nowadays.  There's also an implicit "stolen-concept" fallacy at work in standard undergraduate-mystifying efforts to undermine inductive method: appealing to inductively-very-well-established findings - e.g., the earth most definitely not being flat - to impugn the epistemic authority of those very findings.  Or something to that effect.  Such would appear, then, to be a variant on some more pervasive fallacy that rears its ugly head in undergraduate-mystifying efforts to undermine the axiomatic reliability of sense-data.  Mayhaps perfective induction bears axiom-like self-defense characteristics as well, hence the evident stolen-concept character of induction-denial?)  Okay, I'm spent for now.  Damn [EDIT: damned?] completism....

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Jerkoff-in-Chief

(and his intellectual enablers)

The stated policy of the current President on "marijuana" (cannabis) legalization can be found here.  If you want an Official Government line that uses every lawyerly (actually, outright dishonest) weasel-worded tactic available to justify the unjustifiable, it can be found there.  (The Catch-22 type of argumentation is the best part! :-)  At this point in history, a point-by-point refutation of this garbage would be kind of pointless seeing as nobody outside the beltway with a lick of common sense buys into this horseshit - certainly not as sufficient grounds to deny consenting adults their nature/God-given rights to toke up seeing as it's they as individuals (and certainly not the fuckers in D.C.) who are in the best position to decide for themselves whether cannabis use is for them.  See?  Common sense.  (The point-by-point refutations have already been done hundreds if not thousands of times already, so I won't waste my precious time reiterating them all when it's the reader's responsibility to be aware of the myriad refutations available by now.)  The President's point-by-point excuse for justifying a continued War on Weed flies right in the face of common sense by obfuscating the real issue, which is freedom, goddammit.

Now, what makes this even more infuriating is the current President's pathetic attempt to Please Everyone as usual.  (Worked out really nicely for his "look forward, not backward" approach to accountability for this government's acts of torture, hasn't it?  [Read: no accountability.])  This is his standard tactic of Leading from Behind because he doesn't have the nuts to take a clear stand at this time so that his positions and policies can be pummeled into the ground.  He has (apparently) adopted a "wait and see" approach to the new Washington and Colorado state laws aiming to end the insanity.  Well, that's only a Jerkoff move; is he going to enforce the "marijuana" policy stated on his website, or not?  Are we in some kind of postmodernist legal limbo, or what?  What the fuck is going on here, and what the fuck does the President/Jerkoff intend to do?  If he's got the nuts, why doesn't he stick to his federal enforcement powers in adherence to his oath of office, rather than send mixed signals like this?

This is a political maneuver in which the Jerkoff is trying to have it both A and not-A at the same time and in the same respect.  Legally, he's still within his ostensible constitutional authority to enforce the ridiculously insane federal drug laws.  (The term "ostensible" triggered in my mind an association with Orson Welles's adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Trial, where the court painter Titarelli (sp?) explains to Joseph K. in classic Trial fashion how an acquittal from the unknown charges leveled against him would make him only "ostensibly free," as he could come home only to be arrested and processed all over again.)  Politically, his game-playing - the result of which is that we don't really know at this time what policy he intends to enforce - has succeeded so far in distracting the public from his officially-stated policy.  Looks like a state of A-and-not-A jerkoff limbo to this here philosopher if there ever was such a thing; how about for you, reader?

What this President hasn't done, is to do the courageous thing, i.e., what a President Jefferson would have done, and that's to speak out clearly against the madness that is the drug war, and propose serious revisions if not downright legalization (for cannabis, at the very least).  That's what common sense and backbone would dictate.  Instead, we have a "leader" more in the mold of a Mr. Thompson, the Head of State in Atlas Shrugged: a pathological pragmatist engulfed in a "Heraclitean Flux" of Non-Principle.  The President pulled this same shit with his transparently dishonest "evolving views on same-sex marriage" shtick, when he could have nutted up like a real leader and stood up all along for what he knew to be right and just.  (Miss Rand's comment on the character of Mr. Thompson as described here is precious.)  Meanwhile, intellectually-deficient but influential pundits such as our fellow blogger Andrew Sullivan are reduced to groveling before the President, entreating him to "please not use your ostensibly-duly-established constitutional powers to interfere with States' Rights, and follow reason instead," or some such A-and-not-A excuse for an argument that hardly even merit the status of a fallback.  Do recall that this very same Andrew Sullivan said not more than two weeks ago that, quote, "the public has every right to legislate morals," unquote.  (That's why, apparently, he thinks cannabis policy is a matter for States' Rights rather than individual, Ninth-Amendment-style rights.)  Do keep in mind that the federal government's executive branch has the power to enforce laws enacted by Congress, to crack down on any and all pot whether it's legal under a given state's laws or not.  Is the federal government going to be treating citizens of the different states differently just because majorities in some states enacted legalization initiatives?  We just don't know right now.

Sullivan's weary and ineffectual last appeal for the President not to enforce the federal drug laws amounts to nothing more than, quote, "...if they [i.e., the current Administration] decide that opposing a near majority of Americans in continuing to prosecute the drug war on marijuana, even when the core of their own supporters want an end to Prohibition, and even when that Prohibition makes no sense ... then we will give them hell."  Say what?  You mean, the American people aren't giving them hell already?  What makes anyone think that continuing the status quo at the federal level will change anything?  Then again, maybe it would be some sort of last straw for the People.  How do we know at this point?

You begin to see the problem when objectivity and identity are replaced in the public discourse by ambiguity, obfuscation, limbo, flux and short, non-integrative attention spans.  Where are the Professional Philosophers in all this?  Why is the task of pleading before the President in the mainstream media left to some intellectually-muddled blogger who gives away the case in the very act of presenting it?

Had enough yet?  I haven't.  (This is Philosophical Boot Camp and I'm the senior drill instructor; we haven't had enough until I say we've had enough.)  In his groveling appeal to the President, Sullivan writes that "the federal War on Marijuana is racist in its enforcement."  Certainly it is de facto and substantively if not procedurally racist in its enforcement, one of the eminently sensible reasons to end this War.  One might think that this President would be responsive to this, or that he should be given his race.  (Meanwhile, Sullivan quotes another author, Pete Guither, who makes the sensible matter-of-fact observation that the President appears to have floated a "blatant political trial balloon using the New York Times."  See?  Leadership.)  Anyway, that the Drug War is de facto racist is one of the several matters of fact that Sullivan gets right, and proud we are of all of him for that, but in missing the real point and target, he essentially gives away the case to the goddamned statists.  To wit:
Let's have this debate openly and honestly. Let the government prove that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin and should be treated as such. The very process will reveal the anachronism of the provision itself and the racial and cultural panic that created it. The very discussion will point to an inevitable, scientific conclusion that the current federal policy is based on nothing. 
So do nothing, Mr president, with respect to these states and their legitimate decisions. Set the DEA's priorities so that this trivial, medically useful, pleasure is not in any way a priority for law enforcement. Let the states figure this out, as they are on marriage equality. 
Lead from behind. An entire generation is ahead of you.
Yes, the mainstream national discourse has fallen just this low, given oh-so-much intellectual bankruptcy as its background context.  (Isn't this what Miss Rand would say about the present situation were she around now?  Something tells me that were she around now and commanding national attention as she did in her prime, things would be getting shaken up a lot more.  So I can only do my best to emulate her style of cultural and political commentary in my own unique way.)  We have Andrew Sullivan, the nation's leading political blogger, asking the President to "lead from behind" and "do nothing" even though the White House's official statement of drug policy indicates that it doesn't accept that "doing nothing" is the right thing to be doing.  (To reiterate: we're getting mixed signals on this from the White House and its political trial balloons.)  In addition, Sullivan didn't waste an opportunity to leave the matter of marriage equality up to the states rather than up to sound interpretation of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.

With "friends of freedom" like this, who needs enemies?  If this is the best critical voice out there in Mainstream Public Opinion today, this President needn't worry about truly serious challenges to his doings.  (Actually, the best critical voices in that context would be Greenwald and Chomsky, but as long as the Public remains largely ignorant of what these two are saying, the President still needn't worry.  My point is, even if/though the public isn't largely ignorant of Sullivan, the President needn't have much to worry about in the way of intellectually serious and credible opposition.  After all, the public has "every right" to legislate morals 'n' all that, and decent and intelligent Catholics and others can find only "puerile cruelty" in the works of Ayn Rand.  The President himself, in typically un-Jefferson-like, philosophically-vacant fashion, doesn't understand jackshit about Rand, either, so the circle of ignorance [EDIT: or, how about . . . epistemic closure?  Booyah, score one for the UP!] is complete.)  And as long as the public remains largely ignorant of philosophy - thanks in part to the failure of the Professional Philosophers to serve as the guardians and integrators of human knowledge - we will continue to get lousy, non-identity, Orwellian "leadership" like this.

This feels like shooting fish in a barrel, a task for which Perfectivism seems particularly well-suited, I'll point out.  (Praise due to Ayn Rand for establishing precedent in this area with her Objectivism.)  So you're welcome, or something.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

P.S. I've come to the realization that, his having put several decades of deeply-Rand-influenced thought into the subject, Leonard Peikoff is (in a just world) our current leading authority on the philosophy of history, his The DIM Hypothesis (2012) being the culmination of his investigations.  (Note that I say philosophy of history, not history of philosophy.  In the latter department, Peikoff suffers from many of the very same problems Rand had.  His latest statements about Kant in The DIM Hypothesis bear no resemblance to recent Kant scholarship, such as Korsgaard's.  You might as well have jerkoff academic "philosophy" bloggers commenting on Ayn Rand in complete obliviousness to, say, Peikoff's interpretive work, and get precisely the same embarrassing effect.  You have to have the analytical skills - as Aristotle did - to separate out the wheat from the chaff in Peikoff and Rand's expositions, or you're going to fail miserably at getting their essential core message, something about focus vs. evasion and the role of the mind in human existence [EDIT: and the vital importance of mental integration], I believe.)  Few people alive are as keenly aware as Peikoff is, of the central role of integration (or lack thereof, or misapplication thereof) in the course of human life and history.  His latest work requires serious attention from philosophers of history, if any (besides Peikoff and those on his wavelength) are even around today.  I mean, if I were asked where serious philosophy of history is being done these days, the only name that pops into mind is Peikoff's - and there's no good reason to think anyone has put in nearly the kind and level of analysis that he has put in over some 60 years of thought and study, half of them under the tutelage of a fucking grandmaster of integration.  The Professional Philosophers ignore Peikoff's work in this area (as well as his two books on Objectivism now in publication) at their own peril.  Arguably, they've done so for so long as it is that a Point of No Return has been passed, probably in the last decade or so.  They can ignore the well-researched Rand scholarship for only so long before their intellectual credibility begins swirling around toward the bottom of the shitter.  Tara Smith's 2006 book was the final litmus test of what these so-called philosophers are really made of, and of whether they could make themselves useful to the public discourse for a change; many of them failed that test miserably.  So fuck 'em.  Let their departmental funding get cut and market principles encroach further into their insulated bubble of security, and let them whine incessantly about capitalism in their blogs.  The whiners had their final opportunity in 2006 to close the massive gap between themselves and the Real World (where Ayn Rand matters - a lot), and they blew it big-time; the more ignoble bastards among them have resorted instead to vicious, savage, smears pertaining to Rand's youthful (and irrelevant, and not-admiring) comments about a serial killer, and other such intellectually-reckless or negligent tactics for which their pathological groupie-colleague-enablers hold them not at all accountable.  To see these fucks get their comeuppance - it's not a matter of if, but when - will be a particular pleasure of mine to behold.  So the current situation is that we have this national discourse where Rand looms as a major presence and influence on people's ideas, and instead of participating in that national dialogue on a level field of play the Professional Philosophers gratuitously dropped the ball and retreated ever-further into their Ivory Towers.  ("Cowards!  Weaklings!  Bums!")  So, again, until they get their act together: Fuck 'em.  In the meantime, I'll be reading DIM, and integrating, of course.

P.P.S. Sign of a/the verbal river of gold to come?  Merry Fucking Christmas. :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Human rights court: CIA 'tortured, sodomized' terror suspect.

Also: 4/20/2013, a Cannabis Cliff?

The CIA torture-'n'-sodomizing news item.

In a society where words and ideas get twisted in Orwellian ways, the term "terror suspect" is equated in the mind of the average sheep/boob with "terrorist."  What else could explain how the American People rationalize or plainly ignore morally outrageous actions committed by their own government?  There's a cognitive bias - I forget what it's called right off-hand - in which people will condone actions by their in-group which they condemn when committed by the out-group.  The psychologists apparently have a tendency to reduce massive cognitive deficits such as this to "cognitive bias," though as a philosopher and moralist I leave open the very real possibility that this can be reduced to willful evasion or malice in many instances.  Some of the more vile right-wing nationalist types will chant "American exceptionalism" and "God bless America!" while all this goes on; a God-blessed America wouldn't dare torture, now, would it?  Hence the (willful?) cognitive blinders when the evidence pops up and stares them right in the face.  Many others would rather just not be inconvenienced with facing up to this reality and doing something about it.

However you cut it, it's fucking disgusting.  What would Jefferson think?

On a related note, Greenwald breaks down the new film directed by Katheryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) about the CIA's (Orwellian obfuscation coming) Enhanced Interrogation Program.  What an inconvenient time for this human rights court to issue its ruling!  The fucks in Washington are thinking, "Okay, how do we go into damage control?" and not "How do we hold our leaders and officials accountable for their acts of torture?"  That's just how fucks in Washington think these days.

Meanwhile, the fucks in Congress keep cannabis illegal and DOMA the law of the land, for no good reason whatsoever in both instances.  We've got crazy ignorant fucks from a gerrymandered majority (of course, the honest and common sense thing to do about drawing up congressional districts would be to assign that responsibility to an independent entity) running the House science committee.  We've got yet another stupid "fiscal cliff" coming in good part because the Republicans are being dishonest fucks about the economic effects of their preferred tax policies, and refuse to take a hint from the fact that voters rejected the plutocrats' open and unabashed efforts to buy the presidency outright.  (Can you just imagine how fucks like Hannity and the rest of the talking heads at the official propaganda outlet of the GOP would react if Dems suppressed a study like that?)  Isn't it high time the fucks were run out of town, or something?  Who the fuck keeps electing these fucks, anyway?

Reader, what do you think?  What does your conscience tell you ought to be done?

Speaking of political cliffs, should 4/20/2013 be designated as the Cannabis Cliff, I wonder?  The scenario churning in my mind for a while now has involved massive crowd of stoners showing up at all the major monuments in D.C., paying tribute to the real patriots who founded this nation, and lighting up en masse.  Wouldn't fucking matter whether the rascals in Congress got around to doing the sensible thing by then, or not.  It would just be a deadline playing upon the Cliff theme - a favorite in D.C., as we know too well - and then, on 4/20, no matter what, a shit-ton of cannabis goes up in smoke right across the street from the rascals.  Maybe the cool political leaders would join their fellow patriots out on the smoking areas.  (An alternative scenario is playing upon that same Cliff theme by setting that as the legalization deadline and then let the political brinksmanship ensue; the threat to light up en masse would be the pro-freedom side's bargaining chip in that case.  But why not light up even if it's legalized, in celebration?  Yet another alternative scenario - if this idea cannot be implemented in that time - is for various people around the country to smoke out in front of their local federal courthouses and turn it into a legal spectacle in which the outrageous drug laws are challenged on Ninth Amendment grounds.  Then the drug laws can be unequivocally exposed as the travesty that they are in the full light and court of public opinion.)  Can you just imagine the glorious spectacle of a massive billowing cloud of fragrant, aromatic dank smoke engulfing the Washington Monument?  4/20/2013 is a weekend day, by the way.  And it could be observed and celebrated as a national holiday every 4/20 weekend thereafter (perhaps as an adults-only event since a sound legalization policy would involve a responsible-cannabis-use educational program; yes, one day out of 365 the kiddies wouldn't get to access the monuments but they would learn an unbelievably valuable lesson in freedom and citizen action, and they could always plan around that day; perhaps even better yet: leave it up to the parents whether to bring their kids along?).  National Dank Day it could be called.  Free fucking country and all that.  Now the question is whether Jon Stewart, the Hollywood Crowd, true 'tea party' patriots, and sympathetic supporters could get on board with arranging this very thing to happen.  The cynical cable news networks could make a huge theatrical production out of it, don't you think?  I think the scenario would be fucking AWESOME.  Anyway, just throwing some ideas out there for the time being.  Maybe the good guys in the game of 4/20 chicken could throw in other eminently reasonable demands, like having CIA torturers and sodomizers, and their enablers, actually being held accountable for their actions.  Nice idea regardless, innit?

(Obviously I have way too much time on my hands sitting around and thinking up shit like this.  The availability of trees doesn't help any, either.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sullivan (and broken culture) again

[For some context, the last blog entry about Sullivan is here.  One could alternately refer to this here blog entry as Exhibit B.]

So, the subject of Justice (sic) Scalia's very recent bout of imbecility regarding gay rights came up on Andrew Sullivan's 'The Dish.'  Here's Sullivan's substantive take on the issue:
So lets challenge Scalia on "legislating morals". The public has every right to legislate morals but not to do so arbitrarily to punish and stigmatize a minority for doing the exact same things that the majority does all the time, i.e., sodomy. If the court has already determined that mass murderers have an inviolable right to marry, how is allowing gay people to marry somehow a sign of moral decline? If the court has already made non-procreative sex constitutionally protected for straight people, how is it that the very same thing, condemned for the very same reasons by Scalia's and my own hierarchy, is obviously immoral when it comes to homosexuals? 
It's that discrepancy that suggests that this argument is not about legislating morals, as Scalia insists. It is about legislating them unequally, and treating a tiny minority differently for no rational reason. This issue has been settled, as Scalia himself declared in his dissent in Lawrence vs Texas. He rightly said there that that decision essentially made gay marriage a constitutional inevitability. He was right. And he should uphold that precedent in these cases, if it comes to that. Or is he going to contradict himself?
Got all that?  Just in case you didn't:

He starts with, "So lets challenge Scalia on "legislating morals"."  Great!  After all, the whole notion of government "legislating morals" is so fucking offensive to genuine-liberal sensibilities that Scalia should be toast.  But wait!  Instead, Sullivan says:
The public has every right to legislate morals but not to do so arbitrarily to punish and stigmatize a minority for doing the exact same things that the majority does all the time, i.e., sodomy.
Is this what Jefferson had in mind when authoring the Declaration of Independence?  Is this what Thomas Paine had in mind when writing The Rights of Man?  Where does a supposed right of the public to do this-and-that come from?  Does "the public" have rights, or is it only individuals that have them?  If the public has rights, can they not be only the rights delegated to it by individuals?  That's the whole idea of civil government in Lockean-liberal terms: the individuals give up to the government rights of enforcement of the Law of Nature, in exchange for a much more effective, just, and stable system of securing and protecting their rights.  This is a goddamned no-brainer if you just read the opening part of the Declaration.

What is the just exchange of rights and responsibilities, benefits and burdens, involved when "the public" decides to punish a victimless crime?  The peaceful people doing their private consensual things give up their freedom to do so in exchange for . . . what?  Jack shit, that's what.

Let's call "legislating morals" that do not serve the end of protecting individual rights what it is: violations of individual rights by a majority that has no fucking business whatsoever interfering with victimless activity.  This whole notion of "legislating morals" is a "conservative" (read: right-wing) fantasy that may have held sway back in the day, but it's neanderthalism at this point in history.

And to be clear even further: "Legislating morals" and "protecting rights" cannot - in a rational system of government based on individual rights - be mashed together such that when government punishes a murderer, it is "legislating morals."  Only imbeciles - Justice (sic!) Scalia, for example - would run them together like that.  (See, once again, Spooner.)  (Here's Spooner again.)  (Lysander Spooner, "Vices are not Crimes.")

Spooner already refuted this bullshit well over a century ago.  Why "the morals-legislating public" isn't intimately familiar with this essay is a very good question.  I'll provide some hints to an answer in just a moment.

(In case you missed it: Spooner.)

(And there's no good argument that homosexual sodomy per se is even a vice!  Double imbecility from Scalia!  You know what is a vice, a deficiency, in an objective, Aristotelian/perfectivist code of ethics?  Willful imbecility on the part of those who should goddamn well know better.  Plato wrote The Republic, after all, with the idea in mind that imbeciles shouldn't be in positions of political power.  Remember the Athenians' "right to legislate morality" by sentencing Socrates to death?  Q.E.D., motherfuckers.)

To continue: What Sullivan turns this into is a case for "legislating morals" but not to do so "arbitrarily" and "unequally."  So it comes down to a Fourteenth Amendment issue, which is the primary basis (under present, corrupted jurisprudence) on which to strike down sodomy laws as unconstitutional.  How exactly does one distinguish between equal protection and equal rights-violation given this framing of things, praytell?  (Anyone else think of this question before I did?  Of course, it came to me at mind at the very first but I just forgot to ask or mention it in first drafit; hadn't yet perfected this subject in my mind till now.  [UP asks: how exactly do you figure out what "now" this is referring to?  Did you think of the question for yourself before, or after, seeing UP ask it above?  If it's "before," you're in a small minority of intellectually-well-informed people who happened upon this blog "early," making you well ahead of the rest of internet users and the "general public" in a very significant sense.  What results this fact will have, sociologically speaking, I guess I have to predict via my understanding of praxeology, memetics, moral theory, and so forth, to come to some overhelmingly amazing conclusion I haven't reached yet?  Whoa. :-D  So, what is "now" in UP's context?  In yours?  In the minds of those you love?  An exercise not just for present readers but for all of us, it appears....] serious and pensive Sagan face.)

Sullivan is correct that Scalia was not such an imbecile as to fail to recognize that striking down laws against sodomy would pave the way for marriage equality.  (He was an imbecile for being concerned about striking down sodomy laws on that basis, hence his morally obscene dissent in Lawrence.)  But all this misses the point, given Spooner.

As I pointed out in my previous blog entry, all of this intellectual and jurisprudential corruption can be circumvented by appeal to the Ninth Amendment, that is, to natural law, or to what Paine termed common sense.  If we want to be "originalists" (as Scalia supposedly is) in our interpretation of the Constitution, which involves reference to the intent of the Framers, then what other intent is there behind the Ninth Amendment than just what Jefferson and Paine referred to as The Rights of Man?  We can prattle on all we like about the intent of the more statist Framers - like those, for instance, who never intended for African-American slaves to have rights - but that doesn't do a fucking thing to negate the meaning and intent of the Ninth Amendment (which could also have been invoked to strike down slavery as unconstitutional, under a rational jurisprudence).

Well, I've gone on at some length already here, and the gist of the matter is plenty clear.  Having once been an avid reader of Sullivan's 'Dish', I'm disgusted by him these days.  I don't know if his brand of so-called conservatism inspired by Hayek and Oakeshott is undermined by the 'British' way of approaching governance post-Locke (see: J.S. Mill and utilitarianism) with which he was bombarded as a youth in the UK, but it isn't what American originalists like Jefferson and Paine - and, later, Spooner, and later still, Rand, Rothbard and Nozick - had in mind.  (There is also the matter of Sullivan's "dialectical" sensibility in trying to carve out some territory of reconciliation between different factions in today's politics, to reach some ostensibly reasonable and practical common ground of overlapping consensus; the primary problem here is the underlying corruption of the whole discourse as such today, which Sullivan does not address at its core [a matter for the discipline of philosophy to address].  A better term for Sullivan's "dialectical" sensibility here is pragmatism, with all the baggage that carries.)  But more disgusting still is what is revealed by this paragraph of Sullivan's article:
But the exchange also brought back something in my own past. Well over a decade ago (I can't remember when), one of the professors I taught students for at Harvard, Michael Sandel, invited me to debate my former dissertation adviser, Harvey C Mansfield, on marriage equality. It was for Sandel's legendarily popular course, "Justice". The fact that Harvey and I both agreed to do it and debated with civility and mutual respect (I revere Harvey as a scholar and as a human being) was, for me, somewhat moving, if also a little personally awkward.
Cutting to the chase: what the fuck is going on at Harvard that someone who teaches for Prof. Sandel doesn't understand the principles of rights underlying the Declaration of Independence?  Moreover, how the fuck does it happen that a former teacher of students at Harvard can so ignorantly blast Ayn Rand in the most extreme of terms?  (For that matter, what the fuck is going on in academia generally that a leading academic "philosophy" blogger does the same thing?)  Is it any surprise that Harvard is turning out so many statists along with so many morally and aesthetically vacuous Wall Street financiers and intellectually vacuous politicians (see: 2012 presidential election)?  Just what the fuck does a credential from Harvard signify, anyway?  Raw smarts can go only so far, after all, and Gates and Zuckerberg didn't need the credential to prove their economic worth.

This former teacher of students for Michael Sandel at Harvard concludes by quoting without comment the following from another author, one Paul Campos:
Scalia’s tactless fulminations are, at bottom, a reminder of why life tenure for Supremes is a bad idea, the badness of which increases in direct proportion to our average life expectancy. Put another way, someone who was in law school at a time when 96 percent of the public disapproved of interracial marriage should be considered too old to sit on the Supreme Court.
How is this asinine and irrelevant opinion worthy of so much as a quotation in the given context?

Something something Jefferson, Franklin and Paine appalled and aghast, etc.  Q.E.F.D.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scalia vs. principles of liberty

UPDATED below.

I was going to title this blog entry "Scalia vs. liberty," but I suppose he sometimes - incidentally - comes out in favor of liberty.  But the issue here is principle: is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a principled advocate of liberty?

No, he is not.

[EDIT: On second thought, the best headline for this entry might very well be "Scalia vs. rights."  Let's each of us chew on that one.]

This item came to my attention today.  Rush Limbaugh is on record for saying for saying, at least a couple times, that if he could switch out his brain with someone else's, it would be Scalia's.  Given Limbaugh's gradual, sad descent into intellectual dementia, I can see why.  One of the "best legal minds of our time" responded to a student's sensible question regarding his comparison between laws banning sodomy and laws banning bestiality and murder:

“If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said in response to the question, according to The Daily Princetonian. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective.” 
Scalia told Princeton student Duncan Hosie that he is not equating sodomy with bestiality or murder, but drawing parallels between the bans. 
Scalia added dryly, “I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded,”  the student newspaper reported.

Oh, good lord.  Does this even merit comment?

Where does this guy live, under a fucking rock?

This is the second decade of the 21st century, after all, where gay ivy-league college students aren't going to find persuasive some asinine comparison of sodomy laws to bestiality laws, and yet Scalia finds himself "surprised" by their not being so persuaded.  He's got to have been living under a fucking rock.

But, more importantly, here's the article's description of Scalia's legal reasoning (sic) used in the landmark case, Lawrence v. Texas (2003), in which the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws as unconstitutional:

Scalia had dissented in the case; in his dissent, he makes a couple of comparisons to laws against bestiality and declares, "nowhere does the Court’s opinion declare that homosexual sodomy is a 'fundamental right.'"

I'll go ahead and state it in plain, simple and blunt terms:

There is most definitely a natural right to engage in homosexual sodomy.

This comes from the reality-based observation that (a) people have the right to engage in private consensual activities with one another, and (b) private and consensual homosexual sodomy poses no credible threat to the security and well-being of society's members.  (This is also why people have a natural right to use cannabis responsibly.)  As to where one can find this right - implicitly - in the Constitution, Justice (sic) Scalia cannot fail to be unaware of the libertarian implications of the Ninth Amendment which refers to un-enumerated rights retained by the people, and of the illiberal implications of laws banning sodomy, pornography, birth control, victimless drug use, and so on.

(EDIT: Stupidity - Scalia's, for example - does in fact pose a credible threat to the security and well-being of society's members.  Maybe stupidity, intellectual laziness, ignorance, or plain old kookery should be made illegal?  I wonder why right-wing politicians, pundits and bloggers don't fanatically go after that real threat wherever it lurks (or, hell, is openly broadcast)?  Where's Michele Bachmann when we need her to protect us from this manifestly obvious threat to American Values?  Why the fuck is she spending her time focusing on a non-existent problem such as sharia law emerging in America?  Just because it's the brand of illiberal batshit-crazy theocracy-ism that she doesn't like, doesn't mean that it's anywhere near the threat that someone like, say, Antonin Scalia or his doppelganger John Yoo poses to our liberties.  Is down up in the right-wing mindset?  Good lord!  It's just so absurd, I don't know how people can endure such blatantly irrational idiocy with a straight face.... [Don't worry, proudly-ignorant left-wing socialism-embracers and Rand-haters, you're next up on my Shit List, beginning with the fact that I received not one single fucking answer in the affirmative to the question I posed here.  Just you wait till I'm in full intellectual-rampage mode, 'cause you ain't seen nuttin' yet, you fucking amateurs.])

What Justice (sic) Scalia is, is a "conservative" statist of sorts who only happens sometimes to support freedom.  What he is not, is someone whose occupancy of a Supreme Court seat should be considered a good thing for the country - especially not when he's so homophobic as to be unqualified to adjudicate the marriage-equality issue fairly or justly.  And that issue is, at this point in history, a no-brainer!  (I'll note that since the Prop 8 plaintiff's attorney Theodore Olson wrote his conservative case for gay marriage, no conservative group or publication has managed to produce anything remotely resembling a well-reasoned case against it.  Indisputable fact.  There's a reason why it is an indisputable fact: the overwhelming evidence, logic, and constitutional and natural principles of justice are on the side of marriage-equality.  Duh.)

I will also mention that the "conservative" Scalia sided with the "liberal" majority in Gonzalez v. Raich which upheld the (natural-rights-violating) federal drug laws on the grounds of the ominously-ever-expansive (under twentieth-century, post-Holmes, post-Dewey jurisprudence) Commerce Clause. These laws (wrongly) empower the government to prohibit a citizen from growing pot in his own backyard.  Meanwhile, Justice (sic) Scalia found some way to oppose the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), presumably on the grounds that it would involve an unacceptable expansion of federal power.  What principle drives all of this is some idiosyncratic Scalian jurisprudence that I haven't gotten a grip on, but given how illiberal he is on issues like sodomy and weed, it is a corrupt jurisprudence, no question.

Since I first got interested in politics some decades back, my political sensibilities have always been more or less libertarian, with civil libertarianism on the so-called personal-freedom issues being one of the biggest no-brainers in political philosophy.  Just some good ol' Aristotelian common sense on my part, I suppose.  During this period of time one of the books that readily caught my attention given my areas of study/interest was Peter McWilliams's Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity Of Consensual Crimes In A Free Society (1993).  I have not actually read this book, because it preaches to this choir.  (Given its unusually high rating by standards - 4.48 out of 5 stars with 285 ratings - perhaps it goes into the "must-read" category regardless.)

The story of McWilliam's own death - caused by corrupt jurisprudence (which stems ultimately from corrupt but influential philosophy) - is fucking insane.  Franklin, Paine and Jefferson would be aghast.

Thanks a lot, Justice (sic!) Scalia.


UPDATE: Lysander Spooner, bitches.

"The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics." -some "progressive" asshole in a black robe

"The Ninth Amendment surely enacts Mr. Lysander Spooner's Natural Law." -The Ultimate Philosopher

(I've just been getting warmed up here these past months, mofos.  BTW, did you happen to catch that one ignorantly-Rand-hating asshole who runs a leading "philosophy" blog, whining recently about hedge-fund managers making a lot more than university professors?  It's like he's never heard of the concept of rarity of talents combined with the relative economic importance of skill sets.  Sure, Derek Jeter could probably teach high school classes, but can any high school teachers play shortstop for the New York Yankees?  Does a philosophy professor have the skill set to run a hedge fund or other demanding business venture?  Arguably a hedge-fund manager could have entered the philosophy profession instead, and do a good job at it (which really isn't all that hard if you absorb Aristotelian sensibilities, as way too many philosophy professors have failed so crashingly to do - as evidenced by the quality of students Higher Ed lets loose on the world nowadays), but who would run the hedge funds, then?  Such questions and answers occur as second nature to business-types but apparently never occur to a lot of university professors, especially those in the Humanities who are supposed to be expanding their cognitive horizons for fuck's sake.  I guess Marx-inspired economic value theory never accustomed them to understanding these things?  I'll just leave this here again.  Nozick > bitter whining asshole left-wing "philosophy" prof.  Say, why did Nozick go from leftist to libertarian?  Something something conversation with Murray Rothbard and individualist anarchism, something something Rothbard and Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Mises's Human Action, something something individualist anarchism and Lysander Spooner, something something footnote three to "A Framework for Utopia," something something "On the Randian Argument," something something "Nozick on the Randian Argument," something something "How to Derive Libertarian Rights," something something eudaemonistic egoism, something something "Flourishing Egoism," something something Personal Destinies, something something Aristotle, something something Allan Gotthelf, something something epistemology workshop, something something noble soul, something something man as heroic being, something something role of the mind in human existence (Marxian value-theory and historical materialism, eh?  Something reeks about all that. Class struggles? Like that going on between the darkly-comically entrenched Theory Class and ordinary human beings, for instance?), something something rationality as the fundamental virtue, something something Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, something something Leonard Peikoff, something something Understanding Objectivism, something something Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical . . . wait a second, it's like there's some kind of dialectical progression/convergence/integration/ perfection going on here; anyone else notice that besides moi?  If not, why the hell not?  Also, to that whiny left-wing "philosophy"-prof blogger: Go fuck yourself, asshole. [cue Spaceballs-mog finger gesture and smooching noises] Cheers, UP :-p )