Jun 252011

Hands up all who agree with me that Akismet is the best comment-spam trapper ever. I wouldn’t even have pegged this as spam without interrogating the email address:

What a load of liberal claptrap! The reason economy has problems is because of the liberal elite Clinton machine turning an open, freedom loving market economy into a communist/socialist give away society that panders to the lay about, self-indulgent mongrols of lower humanity. I say get a job you bums! And leave the complexities of high finance to your superiors.

I guess I fail the Turing test.

Jun 252011

Normally I have lot of time for Cranmer, and it’s not that I disagree with the thrusts of this post generally, but this sentence flabbered my gast:

If the sanctity of the uterus is to be guarded and preserved, the profanity of the EUterus must be abated and bound. The uterus brings forth life; the EUterus is the harbinger of death.

The sanctity of the uterus?

The uterus is an incubator for humans. In its capacity as bringer-forth of life, it is a muscular organ which, in tandem with the vagina, pushes something alive through a very tiny space and into the exterior world.

It is no more sacred than my colon, which also pushes forth something alive through a very tiny space and into the exterior world.

I’m quite happy to accept the argument that a human being is categorically different from poop, but at no point do I accept that this theorem confers any kind of sanctity on my incubation organ. Especially when that organ more frequently brings forth biological waste than human beings.

The uterus doesn’t even provide the biological matter that becomes a human; that would be the ovary and the testicle, which supply the egg and the sperm. It’s not even the uterus where sperm and egg join to create the zygote: that would be the fallopian tube.

As long as people continue in this way to fly in the face of both sense and biological fact, the abortion debate will never reach any meaningful decision. And as long as people persist in sanctifying a single female reproductive organ above and beyond the sanctity of full female self-ownership, women will never achieve true liberty in this world, let alone before God, for whom these people purport to speak.

Women have, since the Neolithic era, been accorded propertarian status by men because they happen to be the sex who incubate future offspring, despite the fact that the uterus is simply the place where the offspring grows, while the offspring itself is generated by the equal participation of both sexes. The offspring, while it grows in the uterus, is without question parasitic: it is a separate living thing that leeches nutrients from its host. Bringing it forth from the uterus is statistically the most dangerous thing most women will ever do. Women must then sustain this life by breast-feeding, further depleting the body’s resources. The evolutionary reward for this risk and ruination of one’s body is the propagation of a 50% share of one’s genetic material for, hopefully, at least a single generation.

Men, of course, are uniquely qualified to comment on the sanctity of the uterus, since their part in the bringing forth of that most sacred of human life is to shoot a broad fusillade of genetic ammunition into a hostile environment and hope some of it hits the bullseye. They are then free to go about their usual business, unbothered by parasitical leeching, physical mutilation, or the necessity of contributing further to the sustenance of that life through the provision of yet further nutrients. A not insignificant proportion of the time, they don’t even contribute to the offspring through their labour or material resources.

So by all means, let us have men debating the ownership of others’ internal organs by resorting to spurious arguments about sanctity. I’m sure that will guarantee a sensible resolution to the question of abortion. Women will surely realise that the imputed holiness of their uteri means they have no right to seek the termination of physically ruinous processes, let alone achieve unquestioned ownership of their uteri in the same way they own their colons or spleens, which don’t happen to incubate humans.

Good grief.

If men with moral and religious conscience are so determined to prevent abortion, let them turn their engineering genius (which, we are assured, is much more prevalent in men than in women) to perfecting the artificial uterus. It won’t be as sacred as a real one, obviously, but it would be a lot more effective at stopping abortions than using legislation to declare state ownership of female body parts.

Jun 192011

Guest post by Trixy

We’re still fighting in Libya, still racking up the costs, still insisting we’re doing it to protect civilians and not for regime change. No, definitely not regime change, because that’s what Tony Blair did, the war monger, and this coalition is nothing like him, right?

Well, one thing’s for sure, and that’s that neither of them have or had a legal mandate from the United Nations Security Council to invade another country. Blair and his team may insist that they did, but for those of us who can, and who chose to, read the documents from the Security Council at that time, we know he was pulling a fast one. The US Ambassador John Negroponte insisted that UNSCRs 687 and 1441 were sufficient for war, and yet the Council were told by others that the latter was ‘not a smoking gun,’ and another resolution would be required before military action could legally occur.

UNSCR 1973 was for the protection of civilians and to maintain peace and security in the region. The latter is the reason that force can be used, under Chapter VII articles in the UN Charter. So is the bombing and killing of Gaddafi necessary to achieve this, without capture and a trial? Airstrikes destroy in a way that a crack team of soldiers performing a raid don’t. Sophisticated missiles can target but not so well as an SA80 MkII or an M16. So will Gaddafi find himself the victim of yet another airstrike in the name of supporting a group of his opponents whom we know nothing about, with whom senior figures in the Ministry of Defence are nervous of being involved? Will Gaddafi’s final moments be as a non-speaking extra in Pirates of the Caribbean: ‘The Naughty Dictator’ as his body is dumped into Davy Jones’ locker?

The details of what is going on and what will happen are being discussed in COBRA and the bowels of the MoD.

And what we’re hearing about now is Syria.

Hague has ruled out military action, yet the UK and France last week presented a draft UN resolution condemning Syria’s suppression of protests. China and Russia fear, understandably given recent history, that this is the first step towards yet more international intervention by the men in Disruptive Pattern Material. And certainly the calls for the end to violence must ring hollow in the ears of not only the Syrians, who see another group of civilians appearing worthy of ‘protection,’ but also those relatives of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre who had heard such platitudes before.

For whilst Mladic faces trial for genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity after 16 years of evading discovery, we are reminded of what peacekeeping forces not only allowed, but were forced to allow to happen. And we should remind ourselves of why the murder of 8000 Muslim men and boys occurred in this ‘safe area.’

The answer comes down to our rules of engagement, which did not permit the use of weapons to protect civilians. And Mladic and his men knew that, and thus made a mockery of any ‘peacekeeping’ which UN forces were supposed to be undertaking.

So what I am expecting from William Hague, if he does go back on his promise of no military intervention (something few would be surprised about if he did, I suspect), is fewer words and more action. It’s a tough call for the international community not to look like hypocrites, and if we know one thing about politicians, it’s that they value their reputations/egos very highly.

What we need, if we are going to shoulder the cost of more troop deployments and continue to view ourselves as being in the company of World Policemen, is more permissive rules of engagement. Otherwise Hague, Cameron and their successors are simply offering false hopes and empty posturing to a scared population. And we are wasting our money.

Of course, given MoD cuts, farcical procurement policy, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, whether we should be getting involved in Syria is a question for another day. But another day soon.

Jun 162011

From the Mail, I can confirm that this statement:

It is understood a neighbour or member of staff at the apartment block called police after the woman tearfully asked for help just after 1am

Is true. The call to the police was made not by the woman in question, but by the building concierge, who saw the state she was in.

Jun 152011

Ann Coulter is probably one of the most hated political figures in the United States, just behind George Bush and just ahead of Rush Limbaugh. In her ideology she exudes what the Republican Party probably ought to be if it ever wants to be credible again, and is a bone fide conservative, and in her contempt for left-wingers she is inflammatory and scathing. She is therefore loathed by left and right.

I love reading her stuff. So do some surprising other people—’the right-wing Judy Garland‘ is not an accidental handle.

I love her even though she sometimes takes a shot at libertarians, as in her most recent column. And even though I love her, I’ve gotta fisk her.

She takes issue with Ron Paul for advocating that the government ‘get out of’ marriage but carry on with providing health and social care benefits for ‘children and the elderly’ because so many of them are currently ‘dependent on the government.’

In one sense I agree with her; I think Ron Paul is being a bit weird here in the context she points out. Marriage, says Coulter, is a contract on which many, many legal attributes depend. Adoption, child custody, health insurance, inheritance, medical proxy, etc etc. Fair enough.

On the other hand, she’s missing the point and tilting at a massive straw man. I can’t speak for Ron Paul, but I do know a good bit about what libertarians think, and that tends to go something like this:

Contracts, and the ability to enforce them, are a basic pillar of civilised society. In the absence of Rothbardian private justice, one of the legitimate functions of government is to arbitrate and enforce contracts. Marriage, whilst for many people religious in nature, is just a particular type of contract in the eyes of the state. It carries implicit agreements about child custody, insurance, inheritance, and so forth. There is nothing special about marriage that should make it any different to any other type of contract—in the eyes of the state.

Except that in the US, for some reason, there is a strange moral attribute to the marriage contract. Homosexuals cannot enter into this contract with each other. They are specifically and specially debarred, in a way that is utterly exceptional in a country that usually only refuses to recognise your right to contract if you are (a) a child, or (b) non compos mentis. There is nothing, even, to stop a gay person from marrying someone of the opposite sex. It’s only each other they can’t contract with in this way.

The state is not there to enshrine the religious or moral connotations of marriage; in fact it doesn’t do so for straight people at all. Straight people can contract marriage in front of the state without ever getting close enough to sniff a priest or a rabbi or an imam.

So why should gay people be denied this same legal status? The US government isn’t trying to pretend that gay people are as incapable of consenting to agreements as children or the mad; it isn’t trying to pretend that straight marriages always and everywhere carry a moral or religious weight. It’s either (a) bowing stupidly to pressures from people who would use the government to impose a moral sanction, or more worryingly (b) sees nothing wrong with making arbitrary exceptions to normal jurisprudence when it suits.

The exceptional treatment homosexuals receive in the context of this one contract is not only hypocritical and wrong, it is dangerous to the body politic.

I would guess that this sort of thing is really what Ron Paul is getting at.

However, obviously in Coulter’s mind he is some kind of pansy jackass for saying, essentially, ‘It’s not the state’s place to disbar consenting mindful adults from entering voluntarily into contracts with one another, but I don’t think at this stage I would eliminate Medicare and Social Security at a stroke, because it’s some old folks’ only income and some children’s only health insurance. I’d sort of prefer a different approach.’

The idea that Ron Paul is ‘pretending to be [a] Randian purist, but [is] perfectly comfortable issuing politically expedient answers’ is ridiculous. So is that idea that all libertarians are like that. I know a lot of libertarians but not many who even pretend to be Randian purists.

Furthermore, this?

I make the case that liberals, and never conservatives, appeal to irrational mobs to attain power. There is, I now recall, one group of people who look like conservatives, but also appeal to the mob. They’re called “libertarians.”

Is hilarious. The mob? Please. There is no irrational mob in this universe that finds libertarians appealing. There isn’t even such a thing as a libertarian mob. When libertarians gather together, they don’t chant slogans together or march in unison. At the Rally Against Debt, as large a gathering of libertarians as I personally have witnessed, someone tried to start the slogan-chanting thing. About 3 people joined in for a round, then got bored. The speakers, far from being cheered like messiahs, received polite applause. The closest thing to a mob was the three ‘anarchists’ (left-wingers) chanting in the pen, where the police had put them in case a fight started. They needn’t have worried. Libertarians don’t fight with left-wingers, they fight with each other. It’s the only ‘mob’ you’ll ever see where the crowd hears a rousing speech and says to one another, ‘You know, I’m not sure I agree with him. He misses Friedman’s point about the fact that…’ and then argues all the way to the pub, where they’d all much rather be anyway.

As much as I like Ann Coulter, she doesn’t seem to understand the libertarian perspective at all. And it’s a shame, not because I think she should agree, but because I think if she could be as accurately nasty about us as she is about left-wingers, her occasional potshots would be a lot more entertaining.