Comments: "Obama's Star Wars"

I thought from the title Obama had changed his mind about the missile defense agency, the one he calls "unproven" and wants to cut. Of course, its Aegis BMD has knocked down 35 of 43 missiles, so it's batting above 80%, which is more proven than Obama's knowledge of US geography.

As to the actual article, I don't think McCain should campaign in any conservative state. By the time he gets done talking about his past stands on immigration and climate change, conservatives will either be asleep or heading for the door. The only conservatives who will vote for him don't care anything about him except his war record. And the only other conservatives voting will be against Mr. criminalize the defensive use of handguns, so it doesn't do Obama any good to campaign in conservative states either, because he'll just alienate voters too.

Of course, he may want to stay out of California to keep him from asking inconvenient questions about how they built it back so well after it was destroyed during the filming of Earthquake.

Posted by Morris at June 7, 2008 09:25 PM | PERMALINK

So how many missiles has it hit that were fired without a month of warning and planning, how many surprise drills, how many hits in bad weather? It's still just a videogame until it can succeed under the only conditions that are relevant to more than a press conference.

I'd be entirely content to have McCain take marginal red states and purple states for granted, so at least we agree on that.

Posted by moon at June 8, 2008 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Moon writes: So how many missiles has it hit that were fired without a month of warning and planning, how many surprise drills, how many hits in bad weather? It's still just a videogame until it can succeed under the only conditions that are relevant to more than a press conference.

Via Jerusalem Post: "In the face of Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, the Israel Air Force successfully conducted its 15th test of the Arrow missile defense system Sunday night, which officials said was capable of intercepting an Iranian nuclear missile.

"Defense officials explained that the test, which was conducted for the first time at night and was held less than two weeks after Syria tested an advanced model of its Scud missile, was unique since it was conducted under extreme circumstances and was meant to 'meet future threats to the State of Israel.'"

The Arrow is the joint Israeli-American missile defense system. But I do know what you're trying to do, typical of post classical liberals, set some enormous benchmark for immediate success of a military program, with no intention of any benchmarks ever for anti-poverty programs no matter their success. Think about what we're doing. We're trying to shoot down missiles, which outside of stealth is the most modern warfighting technology. ICBMs are barely 50 years old, if you count Sputnik as the first.

And, to answer your response, we haven't had the apparatus in place, a fielded battery of the terminal high altitude air defense, until it was activated last week. So now we can see tests involving surprise situations. Your response loses its disguise because it's not about whether it will work. You won't support it when it does work because you think it's provocative. You think we should be spending less on the military, building less weapons, not more. You think the American military is a bigger threat to world peace than terrorists or rogue states.

Posted by Morris at June 8, 2008 09:04 PM | PERMALINK


Morris: pick one missile defense system, and we can argue about it. You have four choices: (1) the US land-based system (the one installed in Alaska; the one they are trying to install in Poland and the Czech Republic) that has as it's mission to shoot down ICBMs; (2) the Navy's AEGIS-based SM2-Block III (modified) systems that have limited anti-missile capability (used most recently to shoot down a US satellite under odd circumstances); (3) the US Army's Patriot missile system, which has limited ability to shoot down theater-based IRBMs (possibly MRBMs; that's unknown) and was used to hit SCUDs in Gulf War I (it could hit them, but didn't always stop the warheads from impacting); or (4) the Israeli Arrow system, but isn't a US missile system, and wouldn't be anything any American president would have much control over.

Pick one of those, and we can argue about it. You can't, however, complain about Obama's position on one (system (1); the big one) and use evidence from a different one (system (4); the Israeli one) as evidence that Obama's opposition to a different missile system is invalid. That's logically invalid.

I don't know much about the Israeli Arrow system (not ours); according to Wikipedia (yeah, I know, but it's mostly right) it's a theater-based system. That's an easier job than one that supposed to work against ICBMs. In any event, I'd love to see what "extreme circumstances" means (the article does not say; most military tests don't really test the system these days).

I don't think we should spend less on the military; I think we should spend the money on other things (more soldiers; less F22s).

Oh, and what's a "post classical liberal"? I know what a classical liberal is (Adam Smith, Ricardo, etc.), but I have no idea what a post-classical liberal is.

Posted by baltar at June 8, 2008 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

"You can't, however, complain about Obama's position on one (system (1); the big one) and use evidence from a different one (system (4); the Israeli one) as evidence that Obama's opposition to a different missile system is invalid. That's logically invalid."

The trouble is Obama's word, "unproven." If his intention is to say it is beyond our missile defense agency's technology to hit something at night, then he's just wrong. The Arrow is a cooperative project (as I said above between the US and Israel).

Via Boeing: "Israeli Ministry of Defense in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a successful flight test of the first coproduced Arrow II interceptor in February 2007. And in March 2007, the second successful flight test of a coproduced Arrow II interceptor took place."

What Obama wants to imply is that we're spending all this money on a system that will never work. The trouble is, if somehow a system was built with the Israelis that works in adverse conditions like at night, the only possible way for him to make that case is they're holding out on technology from us, which would be consistent with anti-Semitic fear baiting coming from Obama's church, so maybe he'd throw in something about them being behind the AIDS technology too.

Post classical liberals are the ones who give up on liberalism out of impatience, because the steady upward trend under classical liberalism's economic policies isn't fast enough, so they turn to the government, as if that takes human greed out of the equation rather than giving more power to greedy elites in government, a la Hayek's obervations about Europe (Hitler, Stalin) and America (FDR) before WWII. This impatience is readily apparent with Obama who despite seeing great progress in missile defense says it isn't fast enough, so military programs should be cut to give millions of dollars to the victims of racial inequality, or rather to churches like Wright's and Flaherty's who can do AIDS education programs about how it's all a plot by entitled whites in our government. To quote Obama's spiritual advisor #2, "I'm white! I'm entitled!"

Posted by Morris at June 9, 2008 09:07 AM | PERMALINK

"You think we should be spending less on the military, building less weapons, not more. You think the American military is a bigger threat to world peace than terrorists or rogue states."

I'm fine with our military at this size or bigger, given valid reasons that don't begin with drumming up threats to levels that far exceed their real magnitude to hoodwink American taxpayers into spending money far in excess of what should be required to buy the wrong weapons for the wrong jobs to line the pockets of former government flunkies who fetched up on the board of Acme Defense Contractor.

I'd think you sneeze a lot from all the strawmen you knock over -- like dummy missiles you know are coming for a month and still hit only sometimes.

Oh, and presently I do think the American military is a bigger threat to world peace than terrorists, since when the currend administration refers to world peace, it means no one farting out of line in this country even if it means sundering the bill of rights, and is entirely indifferent to peace or the absence thereof in pretty much every other country in the world. As for rogue states -- well, we know when arguing with you we have to first ask you to define your terms, since "rogue states" to this administration means any state that messes with our oil supply, but doesn't include incredibly repressive trade partners (China), or genocidal regimes in countries that don't have much of anything we want (passim).

Al Qaeda (the real one; but the same is true for "AQ in Iraq")hasn't done half of what this country has in the last ten years to destabilize the world, unless you want to count goading a marshal president hunting for an excuse into doing, well, whatever you call everything our military is up to outside of Afghanistan (and even that should have done quite a while ago, and probably would have been if we hadn't been dicking around in Iraq at the same time) against them. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to hold the president responsible for being goaded, since when you're sitting on the biggest pile of military might the world has ever known, you can afford to be more sanguine than to go off half-cocked every time some tin horn pissant thumbs his nose at you.

As for the rest, I'm incorporating Baltar's comments by reference. I mistakenly thought you were talking about Alaska (as opposed to some imaginary composite), and as to Alaska I stand on what I said. As far as the data show right now, Alaska might pick off a few of the dozens of nukes North Korea is just about ready to lob over the ocean at us (or wait, its Iran this month isn't it?), which will be a comfort to whichever west coast cities are slightly less obliterated the morning after.

Posted by moon at June 9, 2008 09:45 AM | PERMALINK

Morris, let's see, you are making up a reading of Obama's comments on SDI in your 2nd and last paragraphs of your last post, you are plain making shit up about him in your last paragraph, and you are making up stuff about "liberals" in that paragraph too - just defining them as you elect to, and in your earlier comment deciding that Moon is one based on ... his desire for competence and/or cost effectiveness?

Do those have no place in your plans for the DOD?

And personally, I wouldn't go looking to Boening for unbiased assessments in this matter.

Posted by Armand at June 9, 2008 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Morris, Obama is talking about National Missile Defense (NMD; what I was calling choice (1)); you are citing evidence from another system. That isn't valid. The two systems are both missile systems, but are designed with completely different parameters. You cannot compare them.

And "adverse conditions" does not include darkness. These systems (either one) don't use visual sensors; daytime or nighttime is irrelevant. The jab about Obama's antisemitism is beneath you and certainly beneath coherent debate.

The technical challenges facing NMD are significantly more difficult than the ones facing the Israeli system. The fact that the Israeli system works has no real bearing on NMD. Obama's criticism (which wasn't part of the original blog post, so I have no idea where you saw it or what it said) is likely based in (1) the idea that NMD hasn't worked very well in very simple tests (suggesting that it won't stop missiles), (2) the fact that there are no states that possess missiles that can hit us (other than China and Russia, and we have explicitly assured them that the system isn't aimed at them) and (3) the problems of security externalities (if we build it, what will our opponents do to get around it?).

Overall, I've generally been unconvinced that NMD is very effective or politically smart. But I guess I'm some sort of "post-classical liberal" or something.

Your definition of "post-classical liberal" is one that I haven't seen anywhere else. Can you cite a source?

Posted by baltar at June 9, 2008 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Morris, let's see, you are making up a reading of Obama's comments on SDI in your 2nd and last paragraphs of your last post"

Okay, what does unproven mean? Given Baltar's response, it seemed likely that they get turnips off the same truck. The fact is, any weapon system that is capable of knocking down 3 out of 4 missiles in any circumstances is worth investigating, considering the damage to LA would make WTC look like a mountain of beans. If he's not skeptical of their success, and he's not impatient that it isn't coming fast enough, what could Obama's word "unproven" mean?

"you are plain making shit up about him in your last paragraph"

You're right, it's spelled Phleger, not Flaherty:
Friends and advisers, such as the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in the Auburn- Gresham community on the South Side, who has known Obama for the better part of 20 years, help him keep that compass set, he says."

And Obama got him a couple hundred grand in white guilt money. And we've all heard Obama's Rev's comments on AIDS being a government conspiracy, so I'm obviously not making shit up there (depending on what a Democrat's interpretation of "not" is), but maybe you haven't heard about his Trinity church receiving $15 million in grant money:

"Records show this money supported a variety of outreach: everything from low income housing to nutritional programs for needy kids to money for HIV/AIDS education."

And of course Mr. Change isn't Mr. Responsibility, so he won't take credit for making bad judgments, he just speaks of a need for reform, to take away from people their individual power to make mistakes. My favorite program of his is the zero to five, that way people can't make mistakes in raising their kids because the government will do it for them, and people from the government never make mistakes when taking care of children (that foster child program in California that was allowing sex predators to live with kids was a fluke).

"and you are making up stuff about "liberals" in that paragraph too - just defining them as you elect to"

Actually, that's Hayek's description from The Road to Serfdom:

"Because of the growing impatience with the slow advance of liberal policy, the just impatience with those who used liberal phraseology in defense of antisocial privileges, and the boundless ambition seemingly justified by the material improvements already achieved, it came to pass that toward the turn of the century the belief in the basic tenets of liberalism was more and more relinquished.

"...the hope of the new generation came to be centered on something completely new, interest in and understanding of the functioning of the existing society rapidly declined; and, with the decline of the understanding of the way in which the free system worked, our awareness of what depended on its existence also decreased."

"Do those have no place in your plans for the DOD?"

As I've said before, the government is a provider of last resort, that's why Boeing and so many other defense contractors are used, because the private sector has more incentive to innovate than beaurocrats who get paid only if they don't invent something new that could by increased efficiency cut down their number of reimbursable hours so they get paid less.

"And personally, I wouldn't go looking to Boening for unbiased assessments in this matter."

Great illustration! You think PEOPLE in the private sector are so corrupt that they can't even be trusted not to lie about who's partners with Israel, but somehow PEOPLE in government are so noble that they would never do anything sordid to retain their apparatchik status, despite numerous land deals with Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi's husband, Hillary Clinton, etc. To quote the 80's, "People are people."

I love how you attack Bush for picking fights and then slam him for ignoring genocide. You do realize that Saddam killed a few hundred thousand Shiites in Iraq, right? You do realize that when Congress drafted the reasons to go into Iraq, the use of WMD against Shiites was included, right? (As well as a mention of the pre-Bush 1998 resolution instructing the President to change the Iraqi regime and install a democracy because he was in violation of sections prohibiting development and possession of WMDs, but we're not supposed to mention that.)

The second to worst thing about the 90's Republican Congress is that they turned against Clinton over Yugoslavia, but this decade's Democrats have been just as mendacious over Iraq. You want America to intervene only when there is no discernable American interest which could be perceived as corrupting our ideals. But if American interest is our ideal, it's tough to see how it's corrupted by seeking out American interests. At least you didn't dodge your beliefs about the American military being a great threat to world peace, I suppose that counts for something.

Posted by Morris at June 10, 2008 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

"At least you didn't dodge your beliefs about the American military being a great threat to world peace, I suppose that counts for something."

Nor did you refute them. Chalk one up for honest debate. If Saddam had been gasing his people in 2001, I'd have been first in line to suggest intervention. Let's argue about the world we had then, the one in which sanctions and oversight had crippled his ability to massacre his people, rather than the one in which the lies the government told us would have been truths, and the distortions at all resembled reality.

I continue to be flabbergasted by anyone on the right with the audacity to impugn Obama with his associations with various clerics. Give a gun, a quiet room, and a thousand Jews and gays restrained, and, if they are true to their words, a whole bevy of McCain-supporting clerics, only two of whom have been expressly repudiated (and only once called out on it) by Mr. Straight Talk, would pull the trigger and gleefully. Don't worry; it's not your fault: the sad fact of it is that white hate-mongering doesn't bother white people, only the black hate-mongering. But in any event, if Obama's categorical repudiation of a cleric whose endorsement he never expressly sought isn't good enough for you, than McCain's tepid rejection of clerics whose hatred has been far more widely reported, is just as ugly, and whose support he actively sought in an effort to convince the worst of the right (d/b/a "the base") that, no, really, he hates the jews and the gays too, really, ought to be an outrage to you.

But evidently it's not, and that's your call. But as opposed to dissimulation and rhetoric, to which I usually ascribe your bullshit, on this one you're a hypocrite, straight up, unless you call McCain out for the whore that he is -- or, alternatively, you do your small part to resist hypocrisy by refusing to bash a man by the clerical company he's kept, and try sticking to the stuff that actually bears on how he will run the country.

I don't believe that the evangelical right will have much to do with how McCain governsm, and I'm confident that Rev. Wright et al. will have nothing to do with how Obama governs. (Yes, there's an asymmetry in that formulation, but recent history shows that Presidents dance with the ones what brung 'em, and the extreme Christian right has far more to do with getting a Republican president elected than is true on the left with their equivalents; Bush welcomed far more millenarian antisemites to the White House than Clinton did, and I'm sure the same dissimilarity will characterize putative Obama and McCain presidencies.) Similarly, I don't believe that Obama hates white people, or is even a devout liberation theologist, especially, any more than I think McCain is an anti-semite who believes the end times are nigh, and is willing to do his part to hasten them.

I do believe that McCain is bellicose, ill-informed with respect to the economy, and out of step on topic after topic. I do believe that under McCain we will lose another 4,000 troops in Iraq and still face the problem that any departure is likely to leave violence in its wake. And I do suspect that McCain will choose as a running mate someone I find far more odious, and a person who is at least as likely to end up Commander in Chief as Obama's choice is, albeit for different reasons.

These are interesting issues. What minister one or another associates, or more to the point has associated, with interests me very little, albeit marginally more when they are given audiences at the White House.

But don't hurl anti-semitism or hate-mongering at Obama's associates unless you're prepared to say you're not voting or voting for an alternative candidate, because your stalking horse is knee deep in precisely the sort of hatred you pretend to have a problem with. And it's ever so much worse in his case, because he knows what it is, called it out as such when it suited his political strategy, and now he's on his knees begging for those same people to rally to his side. Which is just pathetic. Straight Talk my ass.

Posted by moon at June 10, 2008 08:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Let's argue about the world we had then, the one in which sanctions and oversight had crippled his ability to massacre his people, rather than the one in which the lies the government told us would have been truths, and the distortions at all resembled reality."

Right. The Duelfer report describes Saddam as working to bring down sanctions via Oil for Food bribes. But of course, all the European countries implicated never take any heat because they're sophisticated, they're never attacked for trading world peace for cheap oil. The great lie of the left has convinced America that this was Bush's war when in fact the US government ordered regime change under Clinton, when Clinton's administration believed Iraq was developing WMDs.

"Don't worry; it's not your fault: the sad fact of it is that white hate-mongering doesn't bother white people, only the black hate-mongering."

Where is the vast white violence against blacks? It's not in South Africa where blacks are butchering immigrants. It's not in Zimbabwe where their leader ordered white owned farms looted, their economy crumbled, he blamed America, then justified seizing windfall profits from white owned businesses. What party does that sound like to you, Democrats or Republicans? Who wants to make things more fair with the same policies that have entrenched the racial divide and by teaching helplessness have entrenched racial economic disparity for four decades? In the words of Booker T. Washington:

“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs….There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”

That was a hundred years ago. And you believe Barrack is going to be different than the last hundred years despite everyone he's been hanging out with for the last twenty years, the terrorist William Ayers and the liberation theologists like Wright and Phleger. I don't like McCain either, but bellicose is better than agreeing with our enemies about how bad America is, and ill informed is better than puppet of liberation theologists. Why couldn't Gen. Powell run?

Posted by Morris at June 10, 2008 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Morris: Of course Saddam was working to bring down sanctions. Did you expect him to behave any differently? It was in his (personal and state) interest to remove the sanctions regime. You can't blame him for that. Additionally, you describe Saddam as a "threat to world peace" (as in: the Europeans, who were willing to weaken the sanctions, ignored Saddam's threats). I don't think Saddam was a threat to world peace. I think he was a threat to American interests in that region, but his actions never threatened European interests or power in anything resembling the way they threatened us. Given that Europe didn't see him as a serious threat, why shouldn't they have a different policy (targeted sanctions instead of blanket sanctions)?

So, yes, let's please talk about the world we had then. And it isn't as you describe.

Posted by baltar at June 10, 2008 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Morris, you are aware that Obama is running for president and not Wright of Phleger, right? Perhaps it's shocking, but they aren't the same people. Nor do they have the same views. And I don't see what any of this has to do with Star Wars. But if you are going to insist on that - ummm, funding AIDS education and assistance to needy children are bad things?

And why in the world do you think the private sector is so innovative? There's loads of evidence that it isn't. But if you want one word - Detroit. Boening has its money invested in status quo projects that it will pursue for its own interest, whether or not they are the best for the government (look at the recent tanker deal that Boening is whining over b/c it lost). But in any event, who says I don't think politicians can't be corrupt? Of course they can - but that hardly makes firms like Boening, dependent as they are on taxpayers' dollars, free from corruption too. And there are loads and loads and loads of examples of defense firms misleading the public and in some cases breaking the law to bilk the treasury out of funds for their own benefit.

As to my complaints about you making shit up, that would apply to "If his intention is to say it is beyond our missile defense agency's technology to hit something at night, then he's just wrong" & "Obama who despite seeing great progress in missile defense says it isn't fast enough, so military programs should be cut to give millions of dollars to the victims of racial inequality".

And I don't see what any of this missile-defense-has-shown-progess and Iraq-was-bad stuff has to do with actually policy moves. Just because X is true doesn't mean there's only 1 way to respond to it. You aren't leaving the slightest variation possible in appropriate policy moves. You are noting X, and then saying Obama's wrong b/c he didn't do Y, even though Y isn't necessarily the only way to benefit from or solve the problem.

And as to this not being Bush's war - are you high? So the Clinton administration favored regime change. Having a commitment to goal X certainly doesn't mean you favor every single possible policy Y to achieve that goal. Bush invaded Iraq, Clinton didn't. Of course it was Bush's war (though Clinton felt no need to oppose Bush's choice).

And as far as you equating Democrats with racist butchers and looters ... ummm, wow.

Posted by Armand at June 10, 2008 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

So much to say, really.

But since we're off topic, I'll leave it with this:

It's telling that you hadn't a word to say about McCain's associations. Or a word in refutation of the notion that applying to the goose what one applies to the gander, Obama at least looks sincere (and, n.b., has shown nothing in his entire professional life to suggest he shares Wright's extreme views or is the sort of black man Washington bemoaned; indeed, Obama has never injected race into this campaign that it wasn't insisted upon by some politician or talking head), while McCain looks like the only thing worse than a hate-monger: someone who co-opts hate-mongering just enough to curry favor with the ugliest forces in our society.

Posted by moon at June 10, 2008 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

You say because it was in Iraq's interest to subvert sanctions, Saddam was justified. But if it was in America's interest to subvert Saddam, why wasn't Bush justified? If Saddam can do anything and everything including gas his countrymen and it's justified because it's in his interest, then why the tough stance on Bush for a few dozen FISA warrants? Or are you making the case that even if we believe a state with an interest in suberting American influence is developing nukes, we shouldn't stop them?

What you're doing is saying Iraq can engage in realistic politics, but we are limited to moral politics. Saddam could do whatever he wanted, but we must act only in ways we'd be okay with other nations acting. The Europeans and Saddam can be Machiavelli ("You can't blame him for that"), we must be Kant. The only self valuing reason for acting in moral ways is if there is an expectation the other party will follow suit, but you start from the point that we have no right to expect Saddam or the Europeans to act morally.

That is moral loving and self (America) hating. What we stand for won't survive unless we're around long enough that we can write the history books. In fact, it isn't even moral loving, because someone who loved morals would be interested in their advancement, and how can we advance morality if we never expect others should adopt our morality.

"funding AIDS education and assistance to needy children are bad things?"

Do you really think a man who believes AIDS is a government conspiracy should be teaching people about AIDS? What does he teach? Maybe: "Condoms don't prevent AIDS, because AIDS is transmitted whenever one black's skin touches another black's skin, it was engineered that way by Jewish scientists."

"And why in the world do you think the private sector is so innovative? There's loads of evidence that it isn't. But if you want one word - Detroit."

And what happened to Detroit? Loads of regulation thanks to Nader, combined with union influence that says we get paid for twisting a screw without regard for how innovative we are, combined with Japanese private sector competition from Toyota et al. Detroit sank when it became like government, a beaurocracy.

And I completely agree that people try to bilk the government out of money in the private sector, just as they do in the public sector. The difference is, there is no difference. So giving power and money over to government with the expectation that it's going to be spent better or used more efficiently is blind, because all it does is collect money and power in fewer hands, and those hands don't get paid a cent more for doing it better, unlike people in the private sector who can increase their profits if they do it better.

What divine message is Obama sending out with his silence? Obviously you have some mystic Obama decoder because you're absolutely sure what he's not saying, but you don't tell me what he is saying. So I'm going to need to see that decoder ring, or I'm going to have to call shenanigans.

And you make my point. Clinton said that we should change the regime in Iraq because Saddam's a threat. But he didn't take responsibility, he didn't follow it up. Now Obama's going along the same train. Whenever his friends screw up, he doesn't take responsibility for poor judgment. Either he should admit he knew who these guys were and stuck by them for political profit, or he should admit that he acted like he was a spiritual man and claimed them as his spiritual advisors to look spiritually credible even though he doesn't have a spiritual bone in his body. He's the one who called them his spiritual advisors, but you want to blame me for asking the question about it. No responsibility.

"And as far as you equating Democrats with racist butchers and looters ... ummm, wow."

Mugabe has the same platform as the Democrats: more taxes, less responsibility for consequences. He doesn't care any more about what his people think than the Democratic election committee that took the votes away from Hillary supporters in Florida and Michigan for no fault of their own. It's all about putting power into the hands of the few, and the easiest way to do that is to play the victim game.

Would you like to give me, you know, some quote about McCain co-opting hate mongering, or are you just (as is the favorite phrase of the blog) "making shit up"? You keep wanting to talk about McCain after I've made a strong case against him, but I know there's a stronger case against Obama. McCain never called Hagee his spiritual advisor, he never got him earmarks, and he never made a land deal with him that profited him a bunch of moolah while telling voting stiffs they should give up their quest for wealth and power and spend their lives in civil service.

Posted by Morris at June 11, 2008 01:51 AM | PERMALINK

"What you're doing is saying Iraq can engage in realistic politics, but we are limited to moral politics. Saddam could do whatever he wanted, but we must act only in ways we'd be okay with other nations acting. * * * The only self valuing reason for acting in moral ways is if there is an expectation the other party will follow suit, but you start from the point that we have no right to expect Saddam or the Europeans to act morally. "

I'm sure Baltar can handle this fine, but, um, wow? By what authority do we purport to tell the world how to choose its leaders and how to behave if not by moral authority? And what moral authority do we have if we'll race to the bottom with every petty dictator? If we would commend our example to the world, would we not set it? I'm sorry, but "Behave like we'll behave once you've started to behave like we want you to behave" doesn't have much of a ring to it, and as a matter of realpolitik will convince countries we invade to, well, act like countries we've invaded are acting. And whether you identify with Christianity or not, an awful lot of our decisionmakers do; the notion that we should set a positive example, not sink to the level of our enemies, well, I can think of nothing more Christian than that. You're the psychologist in the room -- shall we rehearse the data that invariably indicate the effectiveness of positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement? Do you have an argument that the latter works on a national scale, even though it works on no other scale?

As for McCain, start here. Finish here.

If you want about a thousand more instances, do your own Googling since you so seem to enjoy it. So tell me, on what did McCain and Falwell agree to disagree on -- was it the rampant anti-semitism? Openly Christian schools as an American given? The blaming of 9/11 on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America?" The elimination -- literally; with the concomitant celebration in heaven -- of the gays?

And pray tell, Morris, if praying for (and calling for, or prophesying, whatever) the extermination of the gays is the equivalent of Ahmanenijad calling for the eradication of the Jews (which, it would seem, Falwell wouldn't lose sleep over in any event) -- and I'd say calling for the extermination of millions of people for inherent traits is all of a piece -- then why was McCain negotiating with terrorists.

He knew exactly what Falwell was in 2000, when it was clear the man had thrown in with Dubya, and he called it like he saw it, Straight Talk Express and all that. And he knew exactly what Falwell was when he changed course at the outset of this political season. He embraced Falwell -- and all of his horrid horrid rhetoric and, ahem, "theology -- strictly because he calculated that it improved his electoral prospects. And sadly, he's probably right. But that kind of shit is the beam in the right's eye every time they try to beat Obama with the Wright silly stick.

Has McCain called for the extermination of gays? Blamed 9/11 on the forces of secularism, physicians, civil libertarians? No more than Obama has ever espoused anything that the Reverand Wright is pilloried for saying. So if you're going to absolve McCain, absolve Obama and move on. If not, they get smeared with the same brush, except for this fact: Obama clearly has had a long, complex relationship with Rev. Wright, who has presided over important moments in Obama's private life. So at least Obama's affiliation with a man who has some warts, to say the least, appears to have been sincere, uncalculated, personal, and almost certainly arose from an appreciation of Rev. Wright that no one is ever going to get from three minutes of culled excerpts on YouTube. Either Obama really did know about the ugly stuff, in which case, whatever positives he found despite it outweighed what he could have seen twenty years ago would have been problematic in any future political effort. Alternatively, the fact of his ongoing assocation with Wright reflected the truth of what he has claimed: that he didn't realize the extremity of some of Wright's views, or found them marginal to the man's larger theology. Either way, Obama looks honest, human, searching, like most of us.

By contrast, McCain claimed to dislike Falwell like all peace-loving, comity-seeking people do when his best bet for securing the nomination was to portray himself as centrist and reasonable to Bush's far right evangelical alternative. Then in 2006 threw in with him, in a most Machiavellian gesture, when moderacy was no longer the political real estate he was seeking to stake out and he needed to pander to the base.

You can call it like you see it, Morris, but I think McCain's end of this comparison is far slimier and more suspect, far more cynical, than anything Obama has done.

Posted by moon at June 11, 2008 09:47 AM | PERMALINK

You're ignoring my argument whether you realize it or not. My argument is, if we're going to act as though we have a moral agenda to advance, then we need to act as though other countries must follow suit. If we don't expect other countries to act morally, we've already devalued our own moral beliefs by not believing they're good enough for others. The Left wants us to act morally without expecting others to act morally which is nonsensical.

Because if we have a moral system that is important for us and only us, then it isn't a moral system at all, it's convenience. We could however individually have an aesthetic approach. But if our aesthetic is valuable enough to act on then it is valuable enough for us to preserve, and acting out of our own self interest is justified as a way of preserving that beauty. As I've said before, value is in the heart of the one who values, and if we value neither a moral nor aesthetic approach, only then do we consider others have a right to destroy us out of their own self interest.

I'm going to assume given our past discussion that you're confusing (as is common for non-psychology types) negative reinforcement with punishment (negative reinforcement is taking away something painful). If you looked at the moral development research by Jerome Kagan, you'd see that punishment is necessary to create uncertainty by which people learn to make choices. People who are always punished and people who are never punished don't learn how to make choices in uncertain circumstances. So in a real way reasonable punishment is necessary for freedom.

So when we exert our national will and punish those attacking us, we are giving them a choice, making them aware that there's more in this than their own desires, letting them decide whether they show us and our allies consideration. Iran made their choice, and it is only the inflated self types who think we shouldn't change how we treat Iran because of their choice, that we shouldn't acknowledge our true relationship as enemies which they've chosen by supplying our enemies like Hezbollah.

And how blind can you be? McCain makes a piss poor political calculation to get support from Fallwell, and then you go on for three paragraphs about being nothing but an Obama apologist. How original he is, oh my, he went searching and didn't realize Rev Wright was his Darth Vader trying to seduce him to the dark side, but he still found the good in Darth Wright, just like Luke Skywalker did in his father. Puke. If you know somebody for 20 years, and that person is comfortable enough with their racism to spew it in front of thousands of people, then you know they're a racist, or you're blinding yourself.

And it may be Obama is blinding himself, I can believe that he's blinding himself to the worse parts of Rev Wright because he's blinding himself to the worse parts of America's enemies abroad. But I can also believe that if Obama calls his own grandmother a typical white woman because she's racist, then maybe Obama thinks racism is typical, and that sure does fit with the people around him.

Posted by Morris at June 12, 2008 01:01 AM | PERMALINK

"But if our aesthetic is valuable enough to act on then it is valuable enough for us to preserve, and acting out of our own self interest is justified as a way of preserving that beauty."

So if our aesthetic is valuable enough, we will literally forever defer it, if need be, to ensure that, should it ever come to pass, it'll have our stamp on it? My aesthetic is found in the bill of rights. My aesthetic upholds those rights against all intrusions, even at grave personal cost. My aesthetic holds that the sacrifice for our way of life should be borne by all who enjoy its privileges, not just the disadvantaged who enjoy the least privileges of all. And I don't know where in the American aesthetic it says, "We'll bring you what CNN can call "freedom" in 30 words or less even if we have to ram it down your throat." And then: "What, you're not grateful?"

I'm honestly not sure what you're even saying about McCain / Obama, but until you acknowledge that Falwell and his ilk, the darlings not just of a poorly calculating McCain but of the pulsing black heart of the evangelical right, are not one iota better than Wright as he has been portrayed, we're not having a meaningful discussion, because either you're applying a blatantly racist double standard or you're ignorant.

And frankly, I'll add, I don't know Wright beyond his three-minutes of fame and his recent NPC screed, and neither do you. I could easily cull ten sentences out of your comments from the last few years and turn you into a lunatic militiamen just looking for the next federal building to take down. And I'm sure you could do something comparable with my comments. It doesn't make it true.

But you and I both know more about Falwell and his ilk, that the quotes do reflect the sum and substance of their worldview, that denying people who disagree with them agency and conscience is a driving force in their mission, and the fact remains that McCain embracing them is a nakedly cynical and opportunistic gesture.

If there's a sincere bone in his body, we're never going to see it. He's the beaten dog of the Republican party: he's learned what not to do, and right there at the top of the list is manifesting anything of substance reflecting the supposed independent streak, which he so obviously sacrificed at the altar of personal ambition this time around. For cheap political advantage McCain has embraced anti-semites and venomous theological thugs masquerading as Christians.

Posted by moon at June 12, 2008 09:22 AM | PERMALINK

If you're aesthetic is the Constitution and it should not be trod on, then why elect someone who equates the second ammendment with a psychological defense mechanism (to his ignorance of Freud)? Why elect someone who voted against a law that would allow people who defended their homes with guns not to be prosecuted?

And I'm confused that when the top five percent of all taxpayers pay most of our country's taxes, how are they not sharing the sacrifice? Are you saying you'd rather our armed forces be compulsory, like Israel's, so it hits everyone equally?

Are you saying that having a share in your own country's freedom is not consistent with our Constitution and what it upholds? If the Constitution is your aesthetic, what about what CNN calls freedom do you find repulsive? Do you, like Obama, think that our government needs to reform such that it takes away from people the power to make mistakes?

Posted by Morris at June 12, 2008 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Wow I really don't want to get into this - but good freakin' lord Mo. What in the hell are you talking about? Why on Earth do you think Obama is blind to the worst parts of America's enemies abroad? Why on Earth do you think Democrats don't want others to behave morally? Is it b/c Bush and Co. have happily joined hands (literally and figuratively) with the Saudis and Chinese? Last I checked, they weren't Democrats. I think Obama and most Democrats would like others to behave morally. That's certainly what you see in their voting behavior, be it on sanctioning oppressive states, or expecting that other countries respect workers rights. And it's what you see in their language. You can draw all the straw men you want, but that doesn't make it true.

And as far as that power of people to make mistakes nonsense - last I heard no one was proposing to do that. Though, sensibly, the Democrats would like to make fewer than Bush, Rummy and Heckuva Job Brownie have made. And presumably the American people would prefer that too.

Posted by Armand at June 12, 2008 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Re the Second Amendment, more courts have held the right to be collective than individual, so one or another view of that amendment is not indicative of one's view of the Bill of Rights, and the demonization of those who take what we call in the law "the majority view" (i.e., that embraced by the majority of cases in a pile of disparate caselaw) is tantamount to reject the notion of rational debate about a questionable point.

No American law proposed that I know of ever has denied people the right to use deadly force to protect themselves when they have a reasonable belief that deadly injury to their person or those of their family is in the offing. But if a law says you can kill a dude for stealing your TV, I'm all for it. Again, leading by example instead of racing one's opponent to the bottom of the barrel is my moral framework. A human life, even one that's broken down and misanthropic and destructive, is worth more than any piece of property I will ever own. How's that for morality?

As for taxes equalling sacrifice, people bought their ways out of the Civil War, too. That's not the point. Any engagement calling for six figure troop commitments ought to require an ironclad draft of all able-bodied men and women with absolutely no loopholes. I don't suggest that idly, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that we wouldn't have 4000 dead in Iraq if those were the rules. So yes, in a word: I absolutely embrace mandatory service, provided it follows upon a proper, textually faithful declaration of war by a congress with the balls to put its imprimatur and its milk-fed, privately educated children where their mouths are.

I don't find CNN's notion of freedom repulsive, I find it unsophisticated. And I find politicians who at least in part dictate their policy decisions by what can play in 30 words or less to be repulsive. I also find compelling the many many studies that have suggested that utterly unstable povery-stricken, and destroyed countries don't ever emerge into stable democracies. Prosperity and opportunity precedes democracy, and that happens organically with diplomatic and commercial engagement. Which is why I'm basically okay with how we deal with China, and loathe what we have done with Cuba and Iraq, and what Bush would surely do with Iran given a little more time to drum up some pretext (especially with hometown fans like you all too credulous and willing to propose them).

Tell me, Morris, who in Iraq or Afghanistan has a share in our freedom? And is it a share of the freedom we had before Bush eviscerated constitutional privacy protections or after?

And no, trucking out to the polls to participate in elections that are rigged in one way or another is not freedom. Ducking and running every time a helicopter from American Outsourced Wars, Inc., appears overhead carrying a bunch of unaccountable, trigger-happy thugs is not freedom.

My American freedom is opportunity and the ability to choose. Last I checked, that's not what we're importing. Indeed, last I checked, that's only barely what we're offering our own people.

Posted by moon at June 12, 2008 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's taken me almost two hours to find Obama's record, thanks in part to numerous pages that won't display, articles that have been removed, etc. Curious. So I'll get to the rest later, but this is his vote against Illinois' 2004 SB 2165, a law drafted in response to Hale Demar being cited by Wilmette, IL for violating a gun registration law after using his gun against a home invader who'd stolen his car, his house keys, electronics, and who knows what else the night before. Obama voted to punish Hale Demar for defending himself the second time his home was invaded, and every time it ever happens in the future.

Posted by Morris at June 13, 2008 01:10 AM | PERMALINK

"And as far as that power of people to make mistakes nonsense - last I heard no one was proposing to do that."

When his Obama's partner Tony Rezko got convicted, Obama didn't say, "Why, what a bad thing Tony Rezko did!" He said that's not the Tony Rezko he knows (back to willfull blindness), and how it speaks to the need for reform. Now, why does Tony Rezko acting like a criminal speak to the need for reform? This is consistent with his zero to five program. He has no expectation that parents should act morally and parent their kids. Instead what he communicates is that there is no responsibility centered in the person, only responsibility in the system for the person. So the solution is to take away individual liberty and power and replace it with the state.

"A human life, even one that's broken down and misanthropic and destructive, is worth more than any piece of property I will ever own. How's that for morality?"

Nihilistic. What you're saying is that property and money is so meaningless that no matter how much someone steals from you, you have no right to stop them if stopping them might mean their injury. This view fits with what Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. He told his supporters to loot anything that wasn't nailed down from white owned farms. He didn't tell them to hurt anyone, just to take their things. The trouble is, these "things" were necessary for these farms to do business, to earn evil profits and pay salaries to workers, so when he did this, he completely f-ed these farms' employees and his tax base. Of course, he still blames white owned businesses for his country's economic failure and takes away their windfall profits.

Money matters. Things matter, because if someone takes my car, I can't get to work to earn a salary. If things really don't matter, then why does the thief seek to collect them? If "Prosperity and opportunity precedes democracy" then why isn't maintaining prosperity important for an individual, when it is for a collection of individuals?

Human beings are hardwired to see people without competence and without warmth as less than human. From a biological evolutionary standpoint, would that not suggest an evolutionary function? That is, because of biological correlates in the opiod system to addiction we say that person is powerless over addiction. If true, then that logic justifies dehumanizing career criminals because we're powerless over it due to deficits in our medial prefrontal cortex when confronted with such people.

I posted last night on Obama's record on gun control, but it hasn't popped up yet, and in case it doesn't I'll briefly mention it again:
"In 2004, Obama Voted Against legislation 'Drafted To Protect Homeowners From Prosecution In Cases Where They Used A Firearm To Halt A Home Invasion.' "[O]bama cast a total of 4 votes in opposition to SB2165. SB2165 was drafted to protect homeowners from prosecution in cases where they used a firearm to halt a home invasion."

Posted by Morris at June 13, 2008 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

your last sentence is meaningless to me unless i know what was voted upon, and the second to last sentence is of no moment to me for the reasons i stated: if he used his gun to remedy, ahem, an invasion that happened the night before, that's not self defense, that's vigilantism. they do a brisk business in that in iraq and other places you'd just as soon destroy; would you have it be like that here? don't get me wrong, i'm impressed you did your homework, but i wasn't interested in proving the fact of his vote (i was willing to take you at your word that he voted against something) -- what interested me was what, precisely, he voted against.

now i'm not clear whether the third reading was the final vote -- my review of the legislative history indicates that the third reading preceded amendments, in which case the vote may not reflect what he ultimately did -- but let's assume he voted against the bill as enacted. here's the text:

Sec. 24‑10. Municipal ordinance regulating firearms; affirmative defense to a violation. It is an affirmative defense to a violation of a municipal ordinance that prohibits, regulates, or restricts the private ownership of firearms if the individual who is charged with the violation used the firearm in an act of self‑defense or defense of another as defined in Sections 7‑1 and 7‑2 of this Code when on his or her land or in his or her abode or fixed place of business.

as inevitably comes up as a key issue to thinking people in discussing legislative votes, there are a million reasons to vote for or against a law, and not all of them count as endorsements or rejections of the basic idea embodied therein. take, for example, republicans voting against extending unemployment benefits to help would-be working people weather the storm precipitated by republican policies. now, i'm sure they believe they have good reasons for bailing out the perpetrators of the widespread market fraud that's caused this mess while leaving out its victims in the breeze, but the vote is the vote, right?

on this bill, there's a perfectly legitimate reason not to vote for it. the bill doesn't vindicate self-defense anew; it's a commonlaw doctrine, is often codified in statutes, and, as i said earlier, no one campaigns against the right of self-defense narrowly understood to involve, you know, defense of self against a legitimate threat of harm.

what the bill does is grants clemency to people who own a gun, in violation of the law of their municipality, in case the cops only get wind of that criminal act because someone intruded on the criminal's abode and got shot for his trouble.

i'm sorry, but if the law says don't own a gun that's what it means. if you genuinely save the life of you or your family using an illegal gun, then you shouldn't go away for murder or manslaughter; on that you and i agree. but that doesn't mean you should be absolved of having broken the law.

imagine this hypothetical, analogous law:

* it shall be a defense to a charge of possession of a controlled substance in the event that the possession is discovered due to the possessor's involvement in an automobile accident caused by a driver who is under the influence of marijuana.

sorry, buddy, but that doesn't compute. note well, a non-habitual criminal found to illegally possess a firearm is probably not going to do time. but i, for one, would like not to incentivize people illegally holding guns by saying it's okay as long as they use them in a righteous shooting, and it's not very law-and-order of you to hold otherwise.

honestly, you just gave me one more reason to vote for Obama: that he's willing to vote against a bullshit bill, even knowing that down the road some right wing hatchet job is going to claim that he voted against the right of self-defense, which is ridiculous on its face to anyone halfway literate with an independent neuron in his head.

Posted by moon at June 13, 2008 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, your litigation is showing. He didn't go gunning for the guy who'd broke in the night before, the guy who'd broke in the night before came back the next night and let himself in again(he'd taken the house keys). What the bill remedies (and it's funny that even someone with a background in law can't find the full text of that bill, curious even) according to its text is the infringement of a person's right to bear arms for the purpose of self defense. He didn't have a so called assault style rifle or pistol, he had a six shot revolver. And the bill of rights doesn't attach a licensing or registration fee, that's poll taxes. That's old Europe, buying a different standard of justice. Or considering the sin that owning a firearm is to the left, it's buying an indulgence.

Posted by Morris at June 13, 2008 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

What in the world are you talking about? I didn't look for the text of a bill at some intermediate stage. I granted for argument's sake your scenario that Obama voted against the bill that, you know, became the law, which I found in about two seconds. Then I read the text for its plain meaning, which, you know, is a very conservative way to read a statute. Now, maybe I'm not as literate as I thought, but the law as enacted says nothing about the second amendment, doesn't say that Municipalities cannot infringe some federal right as construed (non-bindingly) by the state legislature. What it says is that if you break the f*&king law of Illinois you get a free pass as long as your breaking of the law killed a bad guy. The rest was based on your own words, and the only reasonable reading thereof. But in any event, I don't write laws based on individual cases, nor would I have my legislature do so (and in some cases to do so is constitutionally restricted by the prohibition on bills of attainder (look it up)). Policy is policy -- it's not about the exceptional case but about what's fair and right for the general populous, recognizing that a population of many millions is the proverbial infinite monkeys at infinite typewriters.

So Morris, here are your options:

* Provide a reasonable reading of the law that Obama voted on, without psychologizing it, and explain to me, without recourse to what you wish the law said, what reasonable interpretation doesn't involve granting amnesty to criminals under the law of Illinois.

* Show me something that conclusively proves that the text of the law I produced isn't what Obama voted on, with links to some reliable course.

* Or change the subject to something you know something about. This last should be appealing to you; you're constantly changing the subject.

I also note that you haven't yet defended the notion that a human life is worth less than your flat screen TV.

Posted by moon at June 13, 2008 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I already commented to this, and I'm not going to try to duplicate what I wrote. I don't care what the "bill" remedied, and plainly your mockery of my researching skill is misplaced since I produced precisely what you didn't: the text of the actual law that was enacted -- everything else being process and grandstanding and wholly irrelevant. I was mocking you, for producing the votes without producing the text from which you were arguing, which was either obtuse or evasive. You might as well argue in Swahili for all the interest in honestly debating something you imply when you decline to produce the text.

I vote for evasive, since, as I already adequately explained, the text, which is to say the law on which the lawmakers voted, says exactly what I said it says. It says you get a free pass on breaking local law if you are discovered breaking said law only as a consequence of whipping out your illegal gun to deal with an intruder.

Nothing in the law refers to the second amendment, fundamental individual rights, or any of the other crap you truck out. And as for said irrelevant stuff you truck out, produce it or I have no idea a) what you're talking about, b) whether there is any "what" that you are, in fact, talking about, or c) whether from the depths of your knowledge of psychology, and your previously demonstrably faulty sense of both civics and positive law, you've suddenly miraculously learned how to read law as lawyers and various other people charged with voting on, interpreting, and/or enforcing it.

Legislators don't vote on floor debates and legislative history, and their votes on early drafts of a bill cannot be assumed to reflect substantive views because often those votes are designed to send a message, not espouse a conviction about the topic of the law.

My point -- my only point -- is that Obama appears, if you're correct, to have voted against a law that says, we'll look the other way with respect to your violation of a local law, to which you were bound as a citizen of said locality (and for violation of which you would have been subject to punishment if, e.g., the gun was found in your car during a routine traffic stop), provided that you deployed your contraband in protecting yourself or your loved ones (not, one hopes, for doing so in protecting your TV despite having no reasonable basis to fear for your bodily safety (say, a child who is plainly unarmed and retreats fearfully toward the front door as soon as you see him).

As for your earlier comments about how the second amendment doesn't recognize regulation, what fundamental right does as a matter of constitutional text!? The first amendment, with respect to speech and exercise, says nothing about regulation. So would you be okay with saying that porn ought to be openly shown on network television? Or how about getting rid of requiring permits for demonstrations in urban centers? The Second Amendment says nothing about assault weapons, either, or grenade launchers or shoulder mounted surface to air missiles, and the Framers couldn't possibly have anticipated such advents at the time. Still and all, I don't hear you promoting the view that the constitution cares not a whit about whether you get to have one of these per the Second Amendment. You're not doing much for the war on terror if you believe all of these are encompassed in the Second Amendment.

I note you didn't speak to my marijuana hypothetical. So let's root it in the above: what about grenade launchers. If you believe they shouldn't be freely owned by private citizens, would you give someone who did own one a pass provided he used it against a burglar, threatening or otherwise? What about if the owner chases the burglar into the street and uses said grenade launcher to blow up the intruder's retreating car?

If you're going to argue in absolutes, Morris, take responsibility for them.

Posted by moon at June 14, 2008 05:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's telling that you want me to focus on a hypothetical rather than talking about the actual law based on the actual incident, to wit Obama's vote is brazen and indefensible, yet you accuse me of being evasive. Only a lawyer could argue that a law about guns has nothing to do with the 2nd Ammedment. I do not doubt you are the expert when it comes to positive law, that is to say law without consideration for values, because there is no other way you could argue for Obama's position.

You emphasize this point when you make the case that votes have nothing to do with the topic of the actual law on which the votes are cast. This law is not a Democrat Congress construed law titled something like "save the children" that if a Republican votes against, they can be accused of not wanting to save the children (like the SCHIP law). In allowing an affirmative defense, this law does not guarantee people cannot still be convicted if their violations are flagrant.

And laws take into account specifics all the time. Killing someone is against the law. Killing someone when in fear for your life is not against the law. Statutes incorporate this sort of regulation all the time. Yet you want to argue in extremes, that if we let someone with a six shot pistol defend his family without having to pay a fine for it, then we have to let someone with a grenade launcher blow up their neighborhood. There are no federal restrictions akin to the state licensing and registration requirements in Illinois cities and counties, yet crime in Illinois keeps getting worse.

There is no registration and licensing fee on due process (terrorists at club Gitmo aren't denied rights even when they ignore the Geneva Convention). You don't have to pay a fee to keep a religion from being established by law. This is an extreme cases of deprivation of 2nd ammendment rights, and we don't have to choose between one extreme or the other. I just have to wonder where the ACLU is, because as in your example, if this were something about spreading pornography, they'd be all over it. And Obama supports them 86% of the time, so it's clear they share common interests.

Posted by Morris at June 15, 2008 02:23 PM | PERMALINK

"I do not doubt you are the expert when it comes to positive law, that is to say law without consideration for values, because there is no other way you could argue for Obama's position."

Funny. In most other contexts, were I to interpret positive law with consideration for values, as you put it, I'd be a judicial activist with no regard for the law as enacted. I don't see what about defending your family makes your violation of local gun ordinances less criminal. I'm happy for you that you protected your family, and I'm guessing that afterward you won't care much for the penalty one way or another . . . unless, of course, it's your third or fourth gun violation, in which case why should the guy with the dumb luck to have his house be broken into be treated any less harshly for his serial disregard for the law than a black teenager pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike carrying an illegal firearm, that he may genuinely feel he requires to defend himself?

Hypotheticals are the stuff of law, because legislators and judges, unlike people bitching on a weblog, have to at least aspire to coherence, and if clemency for a crime in the event of an only vaguely related situation is instituted in one context, it's fair to ask why it isn't in another.

My point is only this: the law says what it says, and it says nothing about the Second Amendment. As much as you want to prove otherwise, you're mostly just shouting; even Scalia wouldn't suggest that this has anything to do with the Second Amendment, and if you're more wild-eyed than him, you're pretty far out there.

Oh, and as for no due process registration fees, look up Mathews v. Eldridge, read the multi-factor test for determining "how much process is due," note well the comments about how the amount of process due is "flexible" and circumstance-specific. And when you're done, go looking for another right in the bill of rights that isn't subject to significant regulation, restrictions, and governmental discretion, because due process ain't it.

Posted by moon at June 15, 2008 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

Also, given your rejection of my grenade launcher hypothetical, does that mean you don't think an absolute second amendment encompasses those? HARM missiles? Whatever destructive item you can get your hands on? And if not, where's the line? And if there's a line, how are you deciding where it is?

Of course, you won't answer these questions honestly (or probably at all; I'm guessing I'm about to get blasted with Clinton, or how my party is full of covert communists or some such), but if you were to do so you'd be no different in kind from an average democrat (it's pretty clearly the case that average dems wouldn't deny people the right to have registered handguns and hunting weapons, subject to the same sort of record-keeping as every. other. lethal. item in circulation), only in degree. Which makes all your us vs. them blather pretty silly.

Posted by moon at June 15, 2008 05:02 PM | PERMALINK

You're great at what you do. You construct straw men (the idea that I argue for rights without regulation or exception when it truly something done by the ACLU, who despite your brilliant legal standpoint seems to find connections to Constitutional rights even when they're not mentioned per se in the laws). You accuse me of constructing straw men. You avoid my arguments (when I actually make the case that laws prohibiting killing involve regulation, and you continue to say I must take an exclusive position). And you accuse me of avoiding your arguments.

You know I agreed with you in another post that were it set in stone that Americans had a right to rise up if their guns were ever collected without them being accused of a crime, I would not mind registration. But that doesn't mean that people should have to pay a registration fee to exercise a right guaranteed in the 2nd ammendment. And to require that a person have to pay the government before they can defend their own homes (or face prosecution) is serfdom. The right to life is not guaranteed only to those who can come up with a registration fee. If for law enforcement purposes and creating civil order the people's representatives want to have registration information, then those representatives can agree that people should share the burden through taxes, not a particular fee for one particular right.

"I don't see what about defending your family makes your violation of local gun ordinances less criminal."

Then you don't see what about defending one's own life makes killing people less criminal? Should there be no self defense exception to being charged with murder or manslaughter? Officer: "What, you knew he wanted to kill you, and you went out and bought a gun to defend yourself in case he attacked you? Sounds premeditated to me...."

I would be happy to agree that adults of any color who fear for their lives should be able to carry a gun if they haven't been charged with a violent felony. I would make the case that DWI and drug selling are violent because of their reckless disregard for human life and its potential.

"In most other contexts, were I to interpret positive law with consideration for values, as you put it, I'd be a judicial activist with no regard for the law as enacted."

So you agree that the law isn't about a lack of values but about whose values? It's so quaint how liberals argue that they're not letting authorities influence their decisions. But you give them a brain scan, and they show just as much activity in the brain regions involving that kind of decision making as conservatives. You give them neutral questions about Bush and Cheney, and they're just as likely to find fault as a conservative is with Kerry and Edwards. It follows that a liberal on the bench is just as likely to let their own values influence their decisions as a conservative.

Posted by Morris at June 19, 2008 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

I have argued here and elsewhere, serially and without surcease, that both the phrase and the popular concept of "judicial activism" is bunk devoid of all material value, so yes, I'm a legal realist in the proper sense of that term, and I believe that judicial decisionmaking is affected by jurists' values. I don't object to that in and of itself, but I do object to values that run afoul of the clear mandates of the constitution (and by clear mandates I mean judge-inferred concepts as well; despite conservative protestations to the contrary, if the Framers had intended a hide-bound, proscriptive and immutable constitution, they would have written a document, ten times as long, that at least attempted to encompass everything they could imagine; that they didn't reflects their recognition that any meaningful constitutive document for a heterogeneous and free society would have to have play in the joints, and in assigning effectively equal responsibility to the judiciary in the interpretation of that document, a fortiori they expected judges to some creative interpretation as circumstances and culture changede). Ironically, in a move that a real non-Bible-pounding conservative (wherever they've been hiding of late) would respect, I find this critical assymetry in the constitution: where a conflict arises, in interpretating that document, between positive liberty and negative liberty, I think the intent and structure of that document clearly militates in favor of a presumption in favor of positive liberty. Which is to say, I favor my right to choose to watch porn on my television over some prig's right to be free of the horrible prospect of accidentally selecting a channel on their television and seeing something that God tells them they shouldn't see, or that roils their tummies, or whatever.

Regarding your kind, if incomprehensible words about me and my methods, sure, whatever -- the jury's neither you nor me so it's not for me to say, and I'm done trying to keep you on point.

In my view, you are still non-responsive on guns and self-defense, and more importantly on this critical question: obviously, you and a majority of Illinois legislators reasonably have concluded that clemency for violating local laws is called for as long as the bullet goes into the chest of a bad guy. Fine. Got it. I have never, not once, said that is a wholly unreasonable conclusion.

I have, however, strongly suggested that a rational, god-fearing patriot could reach a contrary conclusion -- yes, could disagree with Morris -- couched in traditionally conservative terms that one should not screw with local government absent a truly imminent necessity, since local government is best suited to gauge how to serve its constituents. A rational, god-fearing patriot, one who considered on the one hand the right of self defense, and on the other the right of local constituents to a local government of their choice, and decided that he would not preempt local regulation to make political hay out of the gun issue, choosing instead to leave it to said localities to decide whether the pluses of gun ownership without honoring whatever regulations the locality imposed offset the pluses of, you know, people being governed by their consent.

There is no reason to believe, absolutely none, that the local regulations the state assembly had in mind were worse than simple identification requirements, or application requirements. Nothing on the face of the law expressly suggests that the only violation they were granting clemency for was the payment of registration fees.

And anyway, imposing a fee for owning a particular class of weapon, firearm or otherwise, is no different than the fees one pays to have a permit to conduct a demonstration, to appear in court (unless one is indigent), to enjoy liberty during the pendency of criminal charges, to register a motor vehicle, which facilitates one's entitlement to move freely between the states. Indeed, on your rationale, all travel should be amenable of fully government-subsidized alternatives, being as freedom of movement, under the United States Constitution (as opposed to the one you have in your head), is a right every bit as sanctified as anything else you can come up with, and subject to far less reasonable debate than the substance of the Second Amendment is. You know, I pay, or my employer pays, a good bit of money to keep my legal licensure in order, despite the fact that I have a property right in that license, and a liberty interest in being employed as I choose. Those fascist bastards!

"Then you don't see what about defending one's own life makes killing people less criminal?"

What was that you said about straw men? Come on, Morris -- you're not even trying! I emphasized in the comments you're criticizing the apples-oranges question of excusing gun registration violations or the like. Killing in self-defense, in itself, is absolutely apples-apples, and that's why I haven't questioned in any way the commonlaw right of self defense by use of lethal force when one reasonably fears that he or another faces deadly harm. And self-defense is an absolute defense to any homicide charge anywhere you go, with or without a get out of jail free card from the state legislature. The fact remains, a violation of a firearms law occurred. In, let's say, buying a gun illegally, and thus violating a municipal regulation, the person in question is furthering an illegal gun trade, putting money in the pocket of people every bit as criminal as any burglar (and likely responsible for far more harm), and perpetuating a social disease in the form of illegal trafficking in deadly weapons. Righteously killing a baddie doesn't change any of that. That money still purchased contraband, and still injured the municipality, state, and country, in precisely the way the local lawmakers aimed to prevent. How is it justified that the sanction for that shouldn't be imposed on the mere happenstance of a burglar and a self-defense situation? And why require an actual instance of self-defense? Shouldn't you be entitled to preemptively violate gun laws, assuming you don't qualify for legal possession of a gun (or perhaps just because you don't think you should have to honor the laws because, you know, the laws disagree with you and you're special)? I asked this question earlier as well, and you studiously avoided it: Why can't a teenager be exonerated from violations of gun laws as soon as he says he feared for, or was just a little worried about, his safety? What's the difference, Morris?

For that matter, why should a felon, who's paid his debt to society and is back out and about, be denied the right to defend himself (apparently, one of the few proscriptions you actually favor on gun possession)? Isn't he just as dead if a marauding criminal invades his home cackling like a movie villain if he doesn't have a gun handy? Indeed, if this were all a matter of constitutional law (thankfully, it is only in the land of Morris as yet), there would be a very colorable equal protection argument to be made that denying a felon the right to defend himself equally with a non-felon is unconstitutional.

I get that you're willing to tax and spend to enable a minority of Americans to own $1000 guns without having to pay a red cent for the administrative superstructure that comes with regulating same (frankly, I hope you'd also lobby to have all sin taxes removed as well, but I know you're not terribly consistent), but you still haven't explained to me why a grenade launcher doesn't fall within the ambit of the Second Amendment as you imagine it. So? Does it? And if not, how is your line-drawing better than any liberal's? This is not a straw man, and not an off-point question: I'm hoisting you on your own petard, and you've now refused to engage it at least three times.

Anyway, to return to the point, regarding Obama's vote, you've given me quite a lot on why you disagree with it, and that's fine. Obviously, a majority of the Illinois legislature did as well. What you haven't given me is any reason why his position was untenable, or any material support for the ridiculous inference you draw from this vote that Obama doesn't believe in the right of self-defense. I mean, this from a guy who cites brain scans vis-a-vis ideology? Give me a break, Morris; I've already hit my quota for non sequitur this month.

Posted by moon at June 19, 2008 02:10 PM | PERMALINK
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