Tag Archives: abortion

Libertarians and conservatives…

24 Feb

Earlier today I got a nasty comment from someone bashing me and my blog without attempting to put forth and real ideas or counter arguments so I deleted it. What struck me afterwards was that the person called themselves a libertarian and in the post they were bashing me for I was decrying big government’s involvement in people’s personal lives. This really puzzled me because the supposed difference between libertarians and conservatives is that libertarians don’t want big government controlling what you do with your body, who you marry, and when you have children while conservatives will gleefully enforce their version of morality on the rest of the population through big government.

Politically I consider myself a liberal with libertarian leanings. As a general rule I do not like big government dictating what its citizens can do. I’m pro gun, pro choice, pro gay marriage, pro drugs, and against the death penalty. However, I do recognize that community is important and that there is a need for government to provide things that support the public good like schools, healthcare, a fire department, libraries, highways, food/water/building/car safety, etc. I recognize that the “free market” is not a perfect system for producing a happy, healthy society. The pure libertarian idea of a free market is too idealistic and makes various assumptions about the players in the market that are unrealistic. America was very libertarian at the turn of the 20th century and the problems we had with robber barons, monopolies, tycoons, tainted food, snake oil salesmen, etc led to the development of protective regulatory agencies.

I also recognize that big government is a tool for ensuring legal equality. Oppressed and disenfranchised minorities in a small community can appeal to bigger government for protection. A small town of racist white supremacists in the south cannot oppress and deny blacks the right to vote because such rights are on a bigger scale than the small southern town. Big government at a federal level incorporates so many diverse people from different parts of the country that it dilutes out discrimination that would be practiced on a smaller homogeneous scale.

So I guess you can call me libertarian lite.

What really puzzles me about the other libertarians I see is just how easily they associate with conservatives. Many of the libertarians I know you would not know they were libertarians and not conservative unless you asked them. They post very conservative posts up on facebook or their blogs, they like very conservative speakers and authors, and they watch Fox “news.”

Why do I never see them railing against anti-gay marriage laws, or abortion laws, the jailing of journalists, or bills like the Patriot Act that strip us of our personal liberties guaranteed in the Constitution? The only explaination I can think of is pretty sickening:

Money is more important than social equality.

If they were concerned with the social equality of all people they’d stay well away from conservatives. I’d see them hanging out with liberals but grumbling when economics came up. Instead they’re hanging out with conservatives and staying silent when social issues come up.

What is your “better world”?

23 Feb

Everyone, be they liberal or conservative, want a better world for their children, they just disagree on how to go about achieving that. At least that’s what everyone says, but I feel there is a fundamental semantics issue here. What exactly does one mean by “a better world”? That saying assumes we both want the same thing in the end and that we just differ on the paths, but I think that is a wrong assumption to make.

What do I mean by a “better world” coming from my liberal atheist point of view? Well my better world would be a world where people don’t tolerate corrupt politicians who lie to them, where war truly is the last resort and not the first option. In my perfect world people’s lives would not be dictated by their neighbor’s religion. The government would not institutionalize bigotry, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, or impose religious doctrine. My perfect world would be a place where race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, etc would not matter. Sure if people wanted to take pride in some aspect of their identity that would be fine, but discriminating against someone for that identity would not be tolerated. My perfect world would be a world in which people were guaranteed the things needed to survive, like food, water, shelter, clean air, and medical attention, but where the safety net was not so comfortable as to encourage living off of it. My perfect world would be a world where people were able to speak their minds without censorship. My perfect world would be a world where the government did not try to control your body, be it what drugs you put into it, or when you decide to start a family. In my perfect world the government would work towards improving the lives of its citizens through a strong public education system and strong environmental protection. In my perfect world the rich would not be punished for being rich, but the poor would not be left to die either.

Those are some of the things I have in mind when I think of a “better world”.

Yet when I listen to conservatives, their “better world” seems so….evil to me. I know it’s not nice to paint it like that, but it just honestly does feel like the antithesis to everything I hold to be good and right.

The trickiest part is how they will often use the same words I do when trying to describe a better world, but by observing their actions and how they vote, I’ve come to understand that there is at the very best a serious semantics issue.

I will put this bluntly. Based off of my observations their “better world” appears as follows:

A place world where only landowners have the right to vote, a world where everyone is assigned strict gender roles and forced to conform to them, a world where white men dominate and control every aspect of society, a world where the power of big government is used to police your bedroom and your body. A “better world” where minorities and women know their place, serving white men; a world where the government is the tool of the rich and powerful and where the poor are left to starve off and die for lack of medical attention, shelter, food and water. A world where public education is non-existent and where all the taxpayer’s money is spent buying bigger guns with which to kill people different from the white men. A world of order, control, and conformity, not diversity, change, and uncertainty.  A world where superstition and religion reign supreme, where the existence of fact is denied. A world rife with sexual repression and discrimination. A world where the environment existed solely to be exploited for profit until it was destroyed.

I’ve acquired this impression of conservatives after having watched them fight tooth and nail against promoting equality among the sexes, races, and genders. Throughout history they have always stood against anything that gave power to people other than straight rich white protestant men. They always vote to cut funding for schools and art and to use that money to make bombs. They fight any legislation that would prevent businesses from raping the environment that we all must live in. They fight against anything that would give aid and comfort to the poor who desperately need it, yet they will die defending the richest millionaires in the country. They always seem to fight against immigrants and anyone who is not white. They fight to enforce and institutionalize discrimination, they fight to enable big government to tell you who to love, who to have sex with, when to have children, where to go to church, what to read/watch/listen to in the media, and what to put into your body. They do all this while chanting “personal liberties” with a straight face. They claim to love democracy and yet they cheer people like Joyce Kaufman when they say “If ballots don’t work, bullets will!” and people like Ann Coulter when they say “We need to put more journalists in jail!” A better world would be one where people resorted to murder if they lost an election; where freedom of speech was non-existent and journalists who disagreed with you were thrown in jail??? Sure Kaufman and Coulter are just two people, but they do not exist in a vacuum. Their ideas have sway with a large group of people in the conservative party.

It just feels evil to me, pure evil. I’m not saying that conservatives are evil, I know plenty who are honest genuinely nice people, but I’m very puzzled as to why they think this would be a “better world”. I feel like I’d end up trying to argue axioms with them like suffering is bad.

Conservatives and cognitive dissonance

22 Feb

Long ago I came to the conclusion that by in large many conservatives have no problem with cognitive dissonance. It’s like hypocrisy is the new black.

Some examples?

Conservatives love to claim they’re all about personal liberty and defending the constitution. You would expect that following that they would be staunch opponents of anyone who sought to violate the constitution…right? That would make logical sense.

Well the other Saturday Ann Coulter, the darling of the right, spoke at CPAC, a huge right wing convention where she said “there should be more jailed journalists.” Now, one would expect a crowd of staunch personal liberty/constitution supporters to have shouted her off stage. Right? That would make sense. After all, jailing journalists is antithetical to the first amendment freedom of speech and just reeks of a totalitarian regime where personal liberty doesn’t exist. But you guessed it, and like you can see from the video, they gave her a roaring applause.

Or how about the conservative stance on personal liberty and how it relates to abortion, healthcare, and the death penalty? When liberals wanted a public option to create more competition in the market of healthcare (another thing conservatives claim to be all in favor of) the right went ballistic. They invented out of whole cloth the idea that the government would be making people’s health decisions for them, and boy how their blood did boil. They stood there with their stupid signs screaming about government intervention in their private health and then would turn around and tell you with s a straight face that they wanted big government to control women’s bodies and what a healthcare procedures a woman would have access to.

Abortion is one of their favorite topics. Ignoring the obvious hypocrisy of wanting big government to control women, they want to force the woman to have an unwanted child. They froth at the mouth about making the woman have the child, but they’re nowhere to be found when she finally does have the baby. They’re exactly like the dead beat boyfriends or rapists who got the women pregnant in the first place. When it comes time to be financially responsible for the upbringing of this child, they skip town.

Instead, the unwanted child grows up in a broken and unloving home where they inevitably turn to a life of crime. The conservatives then spend even more money on the prison system to jail the criminals they fought so hard to make sure were born. If they do anything really bad, the conservatives then want big government to step in and execute a private citizen. They’ve now gone full circle from wanting small government and life to wanting big government and death.  Just keep in mind, hypocrisy is the new black.

Animal souls, stem cells, & embryos

31 Oct

Do animals have souls?

The majority of theologians say no. The bible is clear that animals are beneath humans and not made in god’s image; thus they do not contain souls and will not be waiting for you in heaven or hell.

But what about those who believe their pets DO have souls?

Are animals able to sin? Does sin require consciously making the choice to disobey god? If so then small children and animals can’t sin because they are physically incapable of the brain functions needed to understand that what they are doing is a sin.

However, the doctrine of original sin dictates that everyone is born damned because of what Adam and Eve did generations ago. (For centuries the infallible catholic church felt it was imperative to baptize children as soon as possible to wash away original sin so they could enter heaven if they died, which was a real possibility. They only recently changed their mind on this because they realized “unbaptized babies in hell” was bad PR) John Wesley (one of the fathers of Methodism) felt that even animals were cursed when sin entered the garden of Eden. Furthermore, he believed that when Jesus died on the cross, he was also dying for all the animals. Francis of Assisi (founder of the Franciscan order) gave a famous sermon titled “Sermon to the birds,” where he literally preached to a flock of birds in a tree, warning them against committing the sin of ingratitude. (So lets see where this line of thought leads, shall we?)

Despite not having the brain capacity to understand the concept of sin, there are those who believe animals are capable of sinning; and thus going to hell (“for the wages of sin are death” Romans 6:23). This begs the question then: do animals have free will? If they don’t have the brain capacity to understand sin or the ability to decide whether to commit it or not, then they can’t have free will. Yet despite not having free will they are still capable of sin. Furthermore, you must believe in Jesus to be cleansed of this sin and enter heaven (John 3:16). If animals are unable to even comprehend sin, they definitely can’t comprehend Jesus. Therefore, since animals are born guilty with sin and capable of unknowingly sinning further and are physically incapable of understanding their actions or accepting Jesus;  god is condemning billions of animals to hell without any chance of appeal.

Lets step away from this conclusion and go back to the original question of “do animals have souls.”  Well what exactly is a soul? The eminent wikipedia  has this to say about the soul: The soul has often been deemed integral or essential to consciousness and personality, and soul sometimes functions as a synonym for spirit, mind or self, although the soul is said to function in a distinct enough way from both the spirit and the psyche that the terms should not be treated interchangeably.

“Essential to consciousness and personality,” so that is pretty much exclusively mammals. Fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and most birds would not have souls.

Here is where stem cells and abortion come in. If we operate under the definition of a soul that requires consciousness, then embryos, stem cells, and fetuses do not have souls. They are an unconscious mass of cells.

But what if we went back to the notion that all living things have souls? (Isn’t this borderline Animism?) This way stem cells, embryos, and fetuses would have souls, but so would fish, spiders, frogs, and crocodiles. So would plants! Under this logic vegetarians would be far more guilty of genocide for the number of plants that died to make their salad than compared to the 1 bull that died to make a bunch of steaks. If you look even closer at this line of thinking it becomes even more absurd. When talking about things the size of stem cells or embryos, it would be better to compare them to something similar in scale and complexity. Animals and plants are far too large and complex. Bacteria and viruses would be more appropriate. They are living things too; do they not have souls as well? What about this example? A human embryo 4 days after fertilization is a blastocyst with 100 cells. Some christians would say this tiny blastocyst has a soul and that it would be murder to destroy it, even in the pursuit of medical advances that could save the lives of millions. By comparison the brain of the common house fly, just the brain, has 100,000 cells.

A conceivable (no pun intended) counter to this argument might be: “Oh, but only human cells have souls because only we were made in god’s image.”  Here’s a mind-blowing little fact for you: There are 1 billion cells for every gram of body weight. If you weigh 70 kilos (154lbs) then there are 70 trillion cells in your body. All of these cells die off and are replaced over the course of 7 years. 7 years, 10 trillion cells a year, 27 billion cells a day, 18.75 million cells a minute.  Every 19 seconds more cells die in your body than people died in the holocaust. If you scratch your arm you kill millions. Here’s a possible retort: “Oh GP don’t be ridiculous! The difference between the cells on your arm and the cells in a blastocyst is that the cells in the blastocyst have the potential for creating new life.” Ah! But that argument fails as well because the very stem cell research that some christians seek to block holds the key to enabling us to transform those cells into anything we can imagine. If the mere “potential” for life is what you care about, then standing in the way of stem cell research that would unlock the secrets to creating that life is in effect denying an unfathomable number of cells the potential of life.

Of course there is one position I haven’t covered yet, and to which there is nothing I can say. It is the position of “Despite what you’ve pointed out, I am going to arbitrarily choose to believe that only my pets, and other animals I like, along with an form of human embryo, has a soul and will be in heaven with me. Now excuse me while I stick my fingers in my ears and go lalalalalalala.”

Tea party craziness

5 Oct

Ok, we  know that the tea party claims to be about smaller government and doesn’t officially take a stance on social issues. We also know that the tea party complains that “the main stream media” maligns them by calling them racist extremists. Maybe the media only showed pictures of a few crazy people with Obama=Hitler signs and the rest of them are calm, rational people who only care about economics. I doubt it, but it’s possible. All that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the tea party says they stand for, and it doesn’t matter how the media portrays them. What does matter is who they elect to office and support. Their actions transcend any superficial image they may or may not be projecting. My interest is in the tea party’s social agenda and whether or not the candidates are sane. I may have some libertarian leanings when it comes to economics, but for me, social issues will always trump economics. So lets look at some of the tea party canidates:

Sarah Palin. I don’t need to say anything. You know. We’ve been talking about her since the 2008 elections. There are posts all over about her draconian social policies, her anti-woman’s rights stances, her end-times theology, and various other scandals. So, moving on.

Christine O’Donnell: “Aka, younger, dumber Palin” This woman is a strong social conservative christian. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about her anti-masturbation stance and seen the old video clips of her talking about masturbation and the bible, along with her claims to have “dabbled in witchcraft”. Back in 2006, while running for another office, she claimed to be privy to secret information obtained by christian missionaries in China that revealed China had an elaborate plan to take over America! Recently Palin advised her not to give any national interviews (gee, I wonder why?), but before she shut her mouth she said that god was keeping her campaign alive. She’s strongly anti-science, thinks mice have human brains, and believes birth control is “anti-human”.Where you got your college education is not overly important when running for office, but O’Donnell has managed to make it a huge issue by repeatedly lying over and over about her education background. She’s claimed to have her college degree for years, yet never graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University until last month. She’s claimed to have done graduate work at Princeton, Oxford, and Claremont. All liesEven Karl Rove thinks she’s insane! Look, I could go on and on about this lady who needs to be put in a straight jacket.

Jim Demint: Another winner. A senator from South Carolina and the tea party’s man in congress, he’s fiercely homophobic and believes unmarried women should not be allowed to teach in schools. He’s also strongly anti-woman’s rights and fits nicely into the conservative christian mold.

Michelle Bachmann. Like Sarah Palin, she’s been around for a while and there are so many posts on just how bat shit insane she is that I needn’t bother. Just google her. Here, if you’re lazy, are 10 quotes from her, only 10, and she’s been at this a long time so there are plenty more.

Chuck Devore: Running in California, not nearly as crazy as the above people, though on legislative score boards he’s received a 0% from Equality for California, 18% from Planned Parenthood, 30% from the California National Organization for Women, and 29% from the Lambda Letters Project (LGBT), so he’s also votes socially conservative.

Trent Frank: Strongly Conservative, Anti-choice, and anti-gay equality. He also believes that current abortion rates in the black community means black people were better off as slaves.

Glen Urquhart: I quote “”The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ASK THEM WHY THEY’RE NAZIS!” He’s running in Delaware like O’Donnell. He is also a strong social conservative and is backed by the anti-woman’s rights group “Concerned women for America”, the National Conservative Fund, and the vehemently homophobic Family Research Council.

Sharron Angle: You might have heard of her. She’s running against Harry Reid and thinks healthcare reform should be replaced with the barter system. She’s also counseled rape victims and women who might die if they carry a pregnancy to term to go ahead and carry the baby. You can find a list of her crazy history here.

Carl Paladino: Thinks housing poor people in prisons is a great idea: “These are beautiful properties with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities!” He also threatened to kill a NY Post reporter. Lately he’s been in the news for a slue of racist e-mails and e-mails containing porn and women having sex with horses.

Steve King: Thinks Al-Qaeda supports Obama and cheered his election. He is also an extremely strong social conservative. Best friends with Bachmann, even shares congressional staff with her.

Louis Gohmert: Wants to overturn the birthright citizenship part of the 14th Amendment, believes there is a secret plot to have terrorists born in America and then trained to attack in 20-30 years.

Lamar Smith: Feels the greatest threat to America is not a recession or terrorists, but the “liberal media”. It’s all a conspiracy you see. He’s also another extreme social conservative.

Joe Miller:  Encourages people to bring guns to rallies, called his female running opponent a prostitute, and believes women should be forced to carry their rapist’s child.

Ken Buck: Also would love to force women to carry their rapist’s baby, opposes birth control, believes a 13 year old girl raped by her 14 year old brother should be barred from the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy, and wants to tear down the wall of separation between church and state. Yet another religious nutter.

Dan Maes: Despite also having resume issues with lying, like O’Donnell, he is best known for revealing what his is certain is a dastardly conspiracy to deliver Colorado to the “Marxist United Nations” by ways of a bicycle sharing program!

Mike Lee: Like Gohmert, also wants to over turn the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship if you’re born in US territory. Also wants to get rid of a woman’s right to control her body, and is against marriage equality.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. It doesn’t matter if the tea party claims to be focused on only economic issues, if and when these people get elected, they will have to deal with those issues. It is important to know where they stand. It doesn’t matter how the tea party started out, if the core founders where socially liberal and economically conservative libertarians or not; what matters is what the tea party has become. It’s been hijacked by people who were so fringe, the republican party didn’t want them. It’s been hijacked by 9/11 truthers, birthers, people who believe Obama’s a secret muslim, and other conspiracy theorists of all stripes. It doesn’t matter what they claim to be, but the people who they put up for election and those already elected whom they support.  The people they have put up so far on the national level have muddied pasts with problems writing factually correct resumes, believe in draconian restrictions on women’s rights, wish to repeal parts of the constitution, view the civil rights movement as a black spot on US history, and support a host of conspiracy theories from Chinese takeovers to Trojan bicycles. While I might like to see a smaller government and less debt, I could never bring myself to vote for a party that tries to shift focus off their barbaric social and religious policies.

Just a few minutes ago I stumbled across this study done by the Pew Research Institute looking at how religion and social values factor into the tea party. Really interesting stuff and confirms my suspicions.

Liberty & Freedom are worthless

24 Apr

Liberty and Freedom are worthless words. The ideas those words used to represent are still invaluable, but we no longer have words to represent those concepts.

In George Orwell’s 1984 there is the important concept of “double speak“. Double speak is the deliberate distortion of language in the hopes of making meaningful discussion impossible. Controlling language, just like controlling history, is an extremely powerful weapon. If you can debase and alter the very language of a debate, you can frame it any way you want. Your opponents will become victims of their own language.

We see this happening in America today. In the past, conservatives successfully altered the connotation  of the word liberal. They turned it into something dirty, a crime, a perversion. What did liberals do? They cowered and switched to progressive. Now the right is hammering away at progressive as hard as they did liberal to try and make that a dirty word too.

Liberty & Freedom have fallen victim to the same war. What do those words mean? I don’t know what they mean now. I see them constantly being used by people who would, if elected, severely restrict who could marry who, what women could do with their bodies, where women and blacks could work and go to school, who could serve in the military, what religion the government would favor, who could enter this country in search of a better life. The people using the words Liberty & Freedom would make a lot of decisions controlling the actions and choices of other people. Is that what Liberty & Freedom mean?

There was a time when those words, like liberal and progressive meant something different. There was a time when Liberty & Freedom meant the lack of control. Liberty and Freedom were words feared by people who sought to coerce and control others. People uttering those words were to be quickly and mercilessly put down by the authorities.

Now those who would take away people’s ability to do what they please use these words to describe their cause. Liberty & Freedom are now worthless words.

Republican hypocrisy on healthcare:Abortion

12 Mar

So I saw this comic yesterday and it really struck me:

Wow, come to think of it, that really makes sense. What constantly gets me is how republicans say they don’t want government in their lives, but then they turn around and demand that government intervene in other people’s lives to enforce their moral code.

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