Archive for August, 2006


August 31, 2006 6 comments

About that term. It’s really nice to see the right co-opting the far left’s inaccurate use of the term as a general pejorative for any sort of anti-liberal policy and adding a dash of clash of civilizations rhetoric. I can’t think of anything more useful.

Categories: The Right


August 31, 2006 Leave a comment

Shane of Wrong Dog has moved over to Left in the West. At least his political writing, anyway. Jeez, the big dog of the Montana lefty blogosphere absorbs a small, unique blog and has him working for poor pay, no benefits, and no control over the direction of the blog. It’s Wal-mart-esqe, if you ask me. It’s only a matter of time before Matt expands his empire and takes over the server space of some ancient ruins.

Seriously though, Matt has brought another fantastic writer on board and I have to go to one less blog for excellent commentary on Montana politics. So congrats to both of you.

The Independent’s blogging article is out. The usual sites have commentary. What I got out of it:

a) Aside from the bloggers I’ve met (or seen pictures of), no one looked like I expected.
b) Rob will come to my apartment and strangle me with piano wire if I disagree with the Democratic party.
c) All of us Montana bloggers are Tester supporters, except for Coobs. I think we’re slightly more diverse than that.

Categories: Blogging, Montana

More debate

August 30, 2006 1 comment

Once again, my substantial thoughts are over here. The fact that this is rather exhausting is one of the reasons I’m not going to do this consistently. It’s also why we need more people. You could argue with Spreta about India and nukes or with Colby about Kyoto. And of course, you can argue with me about affirmative action. Or you can agree with us. It’ll be fun either way.

Categories: Montana

Debate! (2)

August 29, 2006 Leave a comment

My substantive post for the day is over at the debate forum. Colby has already replied, I see. The fun will continue tomorrow.

Categories: Montana


August 28, 2006 Leave a comment

Incarnation two of Colby’s debate site idea is up. So go register, post, start a topic, etc. It looks like Colby and I will be debating affirmative action in the next couple days to try and kick things off.

Don’t think you have to become a regular contributor to start a debate. Find an issue you’re interested in and someone who disagrees with you and go for it, even if you just want to debate that one issue.

Categories: Montana

Oh, E-brief

August 28, 2006 Leave a comment

It never ends. The MT GOP E-brief seems to be stuck on one tactic: guilt by association. You see, arguing for Burns’s reelection is just too boring. They need to spice things up a bit. For a while they were smearing Tester for associating with Kos and company. Very scary, indeed. Then of course there’s your garden variety “OMG he’s appearing with liberals!” nonsense. Curiously, the current E-brief has a very specific “associate” in mind:

Hosted by Strategies 360, this fundraiser lets Jon grip and grin with some of Seattle’s liberal elite. It’s the type of place Jon can open his mouth and some of those liberals can open their wallets.

As the left’s new sweetheart Jon Tester might even get the chance to rub elbows with one of the Democrat’s finest Senators, the State of Washington’s Maria Cantwell. Make sure you take good notes Jon, she could probably give you a few pointers.

O…k. Why do we care about Maria Cantwell? Well, they don’t explain that. In fact, I have no idea why they devote most of the email to her. Apparently, she said recently that knowing what we know now, she wouldn’t have voted for the Iraq war. Sounds fine to me. The MT GOP doesn’t think so, I guess. It’s very strange. I don’t see any actual contradictions. For example:

Senator Cantwell Now: “If I knew then everything that I know today and the Republican leadership still brought it up for a vote, I would have voted no.” (Northwest Progressive Institute Weblog, “Sen. Cantwell Clarifies Her Position On Iraq ,” Posted August 15, 2006 )

Senator Cantwell Then: “Saddam Hussein is a global menace that we cannot simply wish away. By doing nothing the world is not only failing to enforce the terms of a cease-fire that we fought for; but it is allowing a dangerous threat to grow that deserves renewed immediacy.” (Senator Maria Cantwell, Congressional Record, October 10, 2002 )

Senator Cantwell Then: “But I have seen over the last 11 years, Saddam Hussein has consistently failed to live up to the 1991 cease-fire agreement, and his noncompliance is a dangerous failure that this body must address. This problem is not going away. If anything, it will grow increasingly more dangerous as Saddam Hussein increases his chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons stockpile.” (Senator Maria Cantwell, Congressional Record, October 10, 2002 )

Well, gee, considering that the reason we though Hussein was a threat was WMDs and he was quite lacking in those, I’d say she’s justified based on information gathered after the invasion. Seems sort of rational to change your mind in the face of that information, actually. Perhaps that explains the MT GOP’s problem.

So again, the MT GOP argument: you shouldn’t vote for Jon Tester because Maria Cantwell changed her mind. You can’t argue with that logic!

College? I remember that

August 27, 2006 2 comments

It’s a bit weird that I don’t have to start back to college again tomorrow. At least it’s stopped feeling strange to have a real full-time job. It’s also encouraging that I didn’t really miss having a summer vacation. I was a little worried about that. It’s still nice not to have homework. And if I do have homework, it’s something fun like learning shell scripting (which reminds me, I need to grab a book on that).

In any case, I can still be amused by certain other people starting to school here and figuring out what the hell is going on.

Categories: Personal


August 24, 2006 2 comments

We do not have souls. Briefly,

1. There is no evidence for a soul.
2. The mind appears to depend on the brain (i.e. trauma leading to odd characteristics). Adding a soul to this (soul is expressed through the brain, so the brain being damaged inhibits the expression of the soul) is purely ad hoc.
3. No coherent mechanism for interaction between the physical brain and an immaterial soul.

There’s more here, if you’re interested.

This leaves our mental functions wholly dependent on natural factors. The precise weighting of the influence of genes and environment is irrelevent here. What genes we have are outside of our control. The environment in which our mind is shaped is also out of our control until a certain age. By this time, our character has been shaped to a significant degree. We have only limited control over our environment as an adult.

So, we have no control of the factors that make us who we are for all intents and purposes. This includes everything: intelligence, work ethic, physical qualities, moral values, etc. What about “overcoming” deficits in such areas? Your ability to “overcome” other mental or physical limitations is itself a mental feature and is determined by factors outside of your control.

Seeing as such limitations are outside of any person’s control, it is wrong to base moral judgements about such a person on them. For example, if someone murders another, it was not wrong under any circumstances for that person to do so. The action was not controllable in any sense, as the urges and decision to act on them were wholly determined by factors outside the control of any one person. Murder itself may be wrong, but the murderer bears no responsibility.

Read more…

Categories: Social issues


August 23, 2006 Leave a comment

AgapePress is not happy about self-proclaimed “red letter Christians.”

And why would they be? Those red letters often lack the fire and brimstone, socially conservative message they promote. The author cites this passage to play gotcha with those damn liberal Christians:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Much that does not appear in red letters in the minds of the Campolo crowd seems to be present in this red-letter passage. Law. Prophets. Old Testament. Commandments. Pharisees. Teachers of law.

I’m a bit unsure of the point Friedeman wants to make. I haven’t known Christians to follow the Old Testament laws, so the interpretation of this passage doesn’t seem to be the one Friedeman wants. In fact, I’ve seen it interpreted as only referring to the Ten Commandments. That doesn’t have anything objectionable to liberal political ideology, as far as I know. Nor do I believe Friedeman really wants to step into the abyss that is OT law. Stoning for everyone!

Friedeman is right about the picking and choosing liberal Christians partake in. Then again, those red letter passages in the Bible are red for a reason. The folks at AgapePress spend far more time worrying about gays and premarital sex than poverty or kindness. Arbitrary picking and choosing or fucked up priorities? I’m going to say the people with their priorities in line are the winners here.

Categories: General

Good ol' boy

August 23, 2006 Leave a comment

That’s my interpretation of Burns’s comments about his house painter. I don’t take them as racist as much as I see them as part of Burns’s back slappin’ good ol’ boy schtick. It strikes me as a redneck attitude, but not as racist. It’s embarrassing, coming from someone who’s supposed to represent my state.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. I have a feeling most people will see it that way, too.

Categories: 2006 elections, Montana

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