Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pro-Choice, or Anti-Vaxxer?

One of the battle cries of the pro-choice movement is, "keep your government out of my body!" Nevermind that one of the legitimate functions of government is to protect the rights of every citizen (of course, the preborn may not be citizens). Still, I'm pretty sure murder is illegal, even if no citizen is involved. Nevertheless, the concern about how much jurisdiction government has over one's own body is legitimate.

Which brings us to mandatory vaccination. Sure, it's a public health issue. Unvaccinated people may pose a greater risk to the general population. On the other hand, can government literally inject pathogens, dead or alive (attenuated), directly into our bodies, with the intention of modifying our immune systems without our consent? That is just about as invasive as you can get. 

Having handily survived chickenpox, mumps and both kinds of measles as a child, I can tell you that a full infection of those diseases is quite survivable, and could provide better lifelong immunity. Though there is risk, it is certainly nothing like pertussis, smallpox and polio, for which I was immunized. 

I think it is probably best to be immunized against certain killers. It may be better to be immunized against the less severe diseases as well. I can accept the idea of mandatory immunization in order to be admitted into various public and private institutions, such as schools, as long as conscientious objectors still have alternatives (such as home schooling). 

This is not anti-science: I have been a lifelong student of science, and I know perhaps better than most, that although modern science and technology is nothing short of miraculous in many respects, science still doesn't have everything figured out. Biological systems, including our immune systems, are not well understood. Vaccines are not without risk. We don't have long term data for the newer vaccines. By definition, that won't happen until the vaccines have existed for one average human lifetime. Our immune systems are unpredictable, and can be triggered to react violently and badly. Autoimmune diseases are difficult to treat. It is not irrational to not want to risk it. But it is tyrannical to mandate the exchange of one risk for another. We should have a choice.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

When In The Course of Human Events ...

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article entitled, America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President. Now, maybe you're not a Christian, and maybe you're not even religious. That's beside the point. The thing that struck me about this article is the similarity to another document. See if you can guess what it is.
When one observes President Obama’s unwillingness to accommodate America’s four-century long religious conscience protection through his attempts to require Catholics to go against their own doctrines and beliefs, one is tempted to say that he is anti-Catholic. But that characterization would not be correct. Although he has recently singled out Catholics, he has equally targeted traditional Protestant beliefs over the past four years. So since he has attacked Catholics and Protestants, one is tempted to say that he is anti-Christian. But that, too, would be inaccurate. He has been equally disrespectful in his appalling treatment of religious Jews in general and Israel in particular. So perhaps the most accurate description of his antipathy toward Catholics, Protestants, religious Jews, and the Jewish nation would be to characterize him as anti-Biblical. And then when his hostility toward Biblical people of faith is contrasted with his preferential treatment of Muslims and Muslim nations, it further strengthens the accuracy of the anti-Biblical descriptor. In fact, there have been numerous clearly documented times when his pro-Islam positions have been the cause of his anti-Biblical actions. 
Listed below in chronological order are (1) numerous records of his attacks on Biblical persons or organizations; (2) examples of the hostility toward Biblical faith that have become evident in the past three years in the Obama-led military; (3) a listing of his open attacks on Biblical values; and finally (4) a listing of numerous incidents of his preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions, including letting his Islamic advisors guide and influence his hostility toward people of Biblical faith. 
1. Acts of hostility toward people of Biblical faith:
  • December 2009-Present - The annual White House Christmas cards, rather than focusing on Christmas or faith, instead highlight things such as the family dogs. And the White House Christmas tree ornaments include figures such as Mao Tse-Tung and a drag queen.
  • June 2013 – The Obama Department of Justice defunds a Young Marines chapter in Louisiana because their oath mentioned God, and another youth program because it permits a voluntary student-led prayer.
TL;DR, you can go here to see the rest. Now, here's the comparison. 
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
TL;DR, you can go here to see the rest.  Now, the list of grievances against the present King of Great Britain President Barack Obama is limited to religious freedom and an attitude, but the real list goes all the way back to the Great Imprognation, starting over 100 years ago, ca. 1913. And that list is much, much longer than the list enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, and spans more than one president.

I will re-iterate: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. 

My question is, what is our new breaking point? How much shall we endure? Are evils still sufferable? We are supposed to be a free country, but from my perspective of almost 60 years, I can see a very monotonic diminution of our freedoms. I can no longer do a great many things that we used to do without thinking 40 years ago. I could make a list of what those things are. They would take a form very similar to the two lists I just presented. GHUA.

The Great Imprognation

The Great Imprognation is the process starting over 100 years ago, ca. 1913, when 'progressive' ideas began infiltrating the American Republic. The year the Constitution was sullied with the 16th amendment (progressive income tax), the 17th amendment (direct election of senators), and the 18th amendment (prohibition). Prohibition was the only one that we repealed. I guess we're more worried about protecting our booze than protecting our freedom.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

That Which Shall Not Be Named

The White House refuses to call Islamic terrorism "Islamic terrorism", on the (convoluted) grounds that it isn't "accurate". As their story goes, "These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam in their own deviant view of it."

Well, sort of. Actually, there are only two possibilities:
  1. These terrorists are taking the name of Allah in vain, and in so doing, besmirching an entire religion, and their God. 
  2. The Islamic doctrine really does teach that violence in the creation of a worldwide caliphate is justified. 
I don't think it is too illogical to assume that someone taking the name of someone's God in vain ("Allahu ackbar!") and besmirching their entire religion would make the devoted followers of that religion rise up in great anger, denouncing these barbarians. The fact that there is no such blowback suggests to me that option 2 is more likely. This is consistent with what I have learned about Islam and the Koran in the years following 9/11/2001. 

Islam has no concept of the separation of church and state. Islam is more like the Holy Roman Empire, where the Catholic church ruled most of Europe in the Middle Ages and died out in early part of the Age of Enlightenment. The key word is "enlightenment". Clearly, the Obama Administration is unaware of this detail. A political movement doesn't need to justify its actions by invoking a religion when the religion is the political movement!

The founders of the American form of government included the non-establishment clause in the Bill of Rights, to avoid something like the Holy Roman Empire, or even the Church of England from ever occurring in America. Simultaneously, they also provided the free exercise clause, subject to the non-establishment clause. This makes Islam fundamentally incompatible with the Constitution of the United States, because to freely exercise Islam requires Shariah law, which would be an establishment of Islam, in much the same way that prayer in schools has been deemed unconstitutional. 

We westerners are hesitant to judge other people, races, cultures and religions, although self-loathing is a national pastime. There's a big difference between judging a person or race, and identifying flawed doctrines in a culture or religion. Even a non-religious person can make an objective decision about which religion he would rather associate with. Even a non-believer can compare the life and lifestyle of Mohammad vs. Jesus; the Koran vs. the Bible; Allah vs. Yahweh. Atheists tend to think Allah and Yahweh are basically interchangeable. Nope. They're polar opposites*. Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged." However, Jesus certainly expected us to recognize the difference between good and evil. We absolutely must call evil by its real name. We cannot defend against an enemy we cannot name. 

Now, am I saying that 1.6 billion people in the world are murderous monsters? No. I think they simply are not devout Muslims, just as a great many people in America who call themselves Christians have no real personal attachment to any Christian denomination. They just think it's good to be a Christian, so they say they are one. They've never really read or studied the Bible. Muslims are probably no different. But the fundamentalists are a different story. It is rare for Christian fundamentalists to go on a murderous rampage (it does happen rarely). It is quite common for Muslim fundamentalists to go on a murderous rampage. So much so that it is a worldwide problem. We absolutely must call evil by its real name.

Please Let Freedom Ring

The World Wide Web took off in the early '90s, and caught the government off guard. Our government is just now becoming aware that this great big genie is out of the bottle, and things are just too free. There may be inequalities. It needs to be regulated. Or taxed. Or both. I received the following letter from Senator Mike Lee (R), Utah:
Dear Friends, 
Obamacare, the VA scandal, the IRS scandal--these are just a few examples of what happens when we give government huge power without oversight.

It's about to happen again--the Obama Administration is fighting for a government takeover of the Internet and the Federal Communications Commission is going to vote on it February 26th. That's why I am writing you today--I need your help to stop this.
President Obama came out a few weeks ago urging the FCC to vote to regulate the Internet the same way that it regulates public utilities under Title II. What this means is that, for the first time, billions of dollars in fees will be attached to Internet service just like they are to telephone service.

You see, under Title II if someone wants to own a telephone company, there are fees baked into the law--fees companies pass on to customers.

Now, under this new regulatory regime, Internet service providers will be subject to these fees as well, and then pass them on to you, the consumer.

This is essentially a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on.

The Internet is built on speed and dynamism, it’s always changing, there are always new and better ideas that are exploding onto the scene, and part of the reason for that is that innovators are not having to go ask Washington, DC for permission every time they want to do something new.

What this really comes down to is a fundamental question:

Who do you want in charge of the direction of the Internet: people at dot-com startups that brought us game changing companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Uber; or nameless, faceless, unelected bureaucrats in our nation’s capital?

There is another aspect of this that gets overlooked: the Internet is an incredibly important force for freedom, for liberty, and the rights of free speech that we hold dear. It is an existential threat to tyrants in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia who seek to keep information from their people.

We must preserve the high ground for the United States to stand up to these countries and tell them to keep the Internet free and preserve free speech on the Internet throughout the world. We cannot do that if we are regulating the Internet in a similar manner ourselves.

I am not accusing anyone of sinister motives here, but I am deeply concerned about the idea of any government bureaucrat having the power to tell companies what they can and cannot do. In the long term, this could have a chilling effect on political speech, in ways that today we could not even begin to imagine.

We do not have much time left to stop this gigantic government takeover of the Internet. The FCC is voting on February 26th and the Left is mobilizing to support their effort to do so. We cannot let the conversation be totally one-sided. The FCC needs to hear from us today--not tomorrow or next week or next month. Today. Please join me and go sign the petition to keep the Internet free. We must stand for liberty and preserve the Internet free of government interference.

Thank you for standing for Internet freedom.

Sincerely,
Senator Mike Lee
Republican-Utah
The Internet has unleashed a wave of political thought and diversity that rivals the invention of the printing press. Citizen journalism has replaced the monopoly of the leftstream media. Once government gets its meat-hooks into the Internet, licensing and regulation won't be far behind. Read what is happening in China. The article is about how censorship and oppression of the Chinese people, and the attendant bureaucratic mismanagement of the equipment to implement it, caused network outages all over the world. Think it can't happen here? Think the US government won't do that? Don't bet on it. We've already seen the IRS being weaponized against wrong-thinking Americans. After a government becomes tyrannical, it's too late. We have to act now. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Climate Change Deniers Are Completely Insane

There's an interesting article over at The Blaze, called Climate Change Deniers Are Completely Insane.
I’m wondering if you have the guts to address something and actually force your right wing readers to think for themselves. I’m getting really tired of seeing these idiots on Facebook who every time it gets cold or snows start gloating about how it “proves” there is no climate change. You’ve never outed yourself as a climate denier, and I know you like to consider yourself a logical person, so I’m hoping this is one area where you differ from your cohorts. These morons need to be put in their place. Colder temperatures and blizzards ARE CONSISTENT WITH THE SCIENTIFIC MODEL FOR CLIMATE CHANGE. This is why I could never be a republican. I can’t be a part of a group of anti-science climate deniers who would kill this planet if they were given free reign. Prove you’re really “controversial,” Matt, and call your people to task here.
Of course, he means "climate change denier", not "climate denier", as the article explains. But enough about them This my blog, and this is all about my opinions.

I'm not a denier. I'm a skeptic. Huge difference. Climate change may or may not be happening. We have, or can get incontrovertible data that will confirm or deny it (although it seems rather inconclusive and open to interpretation at the moment. And it depends heavily on what you choose as initial conditions -- a very common concern for anyone who has ever even dabbled in science).

The thing that I am skeptical about is the hypothesis that there is a strong causal link between human activity and whatever is happening in the climate today. Hear me now and believe me later: The burden of proof is on the ones making the claim. As I see it, the burden of proof is nearly overwhelming, because there isn't even any real consensus about where the data is trending. Until that is sorted out, all we have is some weak correlation, which is a huge leap from establishing a cause.

Reproducible experiments are most likely impractical, which means anything we do to counteract whatever it is, would have to be based solely on faith. Without scientific evidence, the watermelons want to invoke the precautionary principle. But without reproducible experimental results, we have no clue what will really work. Whatever random straws we grasp would be no more predictable than religious incantations.

According to Wikipedia,
The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.
Notice the use of the word "consensus". I always wondered where that came from. Science is based on experimental evidence and proof, not consensus. Now we have a deeper understanding of the narrative. Oh, and see what they did there? Look at the convenient shift of the burden of proof! Welcome to the Church of Our Lady of Anthropogenic Global Whatever.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

People seem to think that criticizing another religion or culture is bigoted, and therefore, politically incorrect. But religion is not race. Culture is not race. These people have a choice. We can evaluate the fairness and justice of a religion's or a culture's value systems, and draw objective conclusions about how fair and how prosperous it will be.

We have a serious culture clash between Islam and the West going on right now, and maybe it is best not to allow these two cultures to interact, or even touch each other, if the outcome is always violence. Unless ... one culture or the other wants to adapt.

Should the West adapt? Would we like to treat women as property? Do we want to force women to cover themselves, and not become educated, or go out on the street without a male escort? I think Western women would have something to say about that.

Would we like to stone homosexuals to death? Virtually no Westerner, even those who prefer not to celebrate the gay lifestyle or promote the gay agenda, support the idea that homosexuals should be executed.

"One man's religion is another man's belly laugh" ~ Robert Heinlein

Funny, I'm not laughing.