Various and Sundry, 12/13/10

I managed to already write pay copy by 9am, go me, so I’ll take a few moments here to catch up on various things passing through my brain at the moment, which people have asked me my thoughts about.

* I was asked why I wasn’t commenting on the various shenanigans going on in Washington these days, and asked about it with a hint of that where’s your hope and change now? schadenfreude some conservative folks are engaging in at the moment, because, well, why shouldn’t they. The answer is I haven’t been commenting on it mostly because I want to see it play out, it in this case being the tax fight. It seems like one of those things that will be better discussed when it’s done.

That said, two current thoughts I’m willing to share are a) I think it’s convenient for the congressional Democrats to grow a spine in December, venting at the President who is the head of their party, instead of having grown it at any other point in the last two years, when the GOP and its media minions were wacking at them like they were pinatas and the Democrats were apologizing for being in the way of the bats, and b) it’s clear that no one in Washington is even trying to pretend anymore that money is anything other than a highly abstract, non-real, fungible agreed-upon social construct. In one sense it’s freeing, I suppose, and I look forward to the planetary jubilee year in which every nation on the planet agrees to make all the debt everyone owes everyone disappear in a puff of glitter. I’m looking rather less forward to what we’ll eventually have to go through in order to get there.

* I was also asked about my thoughts on Wikileaks. My highly superficial list of thoughts on the matter are:

1. Nice to know which US politicians are woefully ignorant about what the definition of “treason” is;

2. Julian Assange strikes me a bit of a preening cock, and you can take that phrase however you like;

3. If a government wants to keep secrets, it probably should have better thumb drive security;

4. I hope we still have the Internet as we currently understand it at the end of 2011.

I do have more and better thoughts on the matter, but they would take time to organize into a coherent structure, so that will wait for another time. I know you’re excited about that.

* On the Columbia professor allegedly having sex with his daughter: Eeeeeeew. Apparently, adult daughter, and allegedly consensual. Don’t care. Still very much eeeeeeew. The professor was charged with a felony count of incest, which in a (no pun intended) academic sense makes me wonder how one makes that stick in the case of adults in a consensual relationship, squick-inducing as it might be. But you know what? I’m going to let someone else make the argument for that one. Because, you know, eeeeeeeew.

And some of you might say, but, John, you’re an admirer of Robert Heinlein and he had entire books mostly about people having sex with their parents or children! Well, folks, I know this may be confusing to some of you, but science fiction books aren’t real life. It’s implicit in that part of the phrase which says “fiction.” In real life, a middle-aged man allegedly sexing up his early-20s daughter is all sorts of creepy. Also, Heinlein having one of his characters travel 2,000 years backwards in time to boink his mom, plus all those other parent/child couplings? That’s his thing, and I’m going to let him have it.

* I have to say I imagine the comment thread for this particular entry is going to be a pain in my ass. But, oh well.

124 thoughts on “Various and Sundry, 12/13/10

  1. Agreed on the democrats being a bunch of wusses. If they get elected out, they’ll have earned it. It’s just a shame the rest of us have to live with the consequences as well.

    I’ve got to hand it to republicans, though. They know how to run an opposition party. “Block any and all legislation designed to improve conditions and then crow about how things haven’t improved” has worked hugely in their favor.

  2. May I borrow your Mallet and take it to Washington, DC? I promise I will clean it thoroughly before I return it.

    I have another question: do you think Mr. Boehner and Mr. Beck practice crying together? Do they have a crying coach?

    Is there school today? Yesterday I was sad because I could not watch the Bears-Patriots game on the television (because I have no cable). There is nothing quite so fun as watching professional tackle football in a blizzard. As long as I am not also in the blizzard.

    Finally: I concur. Eeew.

  3. You know that this Columbia affair is going to make certain groups in our society say, “See! This is what happens when you let the gays legalize perversion! We told you so!”

    Expect such a statement from Pat Robertson by the end of the week.

  4. JJS:

    What do you mean “is going to”? They’re already doing it.

    Which is fine; nice to have nutbags conveniently labeled.

    And just to be clear for upcoming future reference for those who might try to come here and do it: any attempt to equate incest to same-sex marriage here (or to put them on the same “slippery slope”) will be summarily deleted because it’s stupid and you have to be stupid to think it and I don’t want to have that sort of stupid “debate” here. So, don’t bother.

  5. So, given the slowly coalescing belief that our paper money doesn’t have any intrinsic value, regardless of how pretty it may be, has anyone here actually started buying chunks of metal for their future bartering needs?

  6. Serge,
    I suspect that for bartering purposes, the only pieces of metal that will have any intrinsic value are those metals wrapped around food.

    K

  7. Love the Jubilee reference! One of my favorite biblical concepts that you never hear anyone talk about. Every 7 sets of 7 years, all debts are cleared, all slaves freed, all sold land goes back to the original owners. The idea that no one can permanently change the ownership from what God originally described. Certainly does NOT fit in with modern property ownership rights, and even ancient rabbinical scholars came up with convenient loopholes to keep from having to fulfill it. I think they said that since the original Jews never captured all of the land designated by God as Israel, then all of the original ownership set forth by God was not fulfilled, thus none of the Jubilee rules had to be applied. Very convenient.

    Anyway, nice to say a heathen such as yourself dropping the OT street lingo. Very cool.

  8. Gold’s value, IMO, is from its rarity and that it’s generally immune to corrosion. One can’t just print up another million units of gold; it must be found, dug up, smelted, assayed, and formed.

    Some of that value is traditional – primitive cultures could find and smelt gold more easily than, say, iridium, so we’ve gotten used to the notion that gold has a certain value by simply being what it is.

  9. I agree with the eeeeew of incest, but also with the idea that a consenting adult relationship is just that and not the business of the law.

    I have had the “slippery slope” argument far too many times on many a forum out there. “If Same sex marriage is legalized then what is to stop polygamy and incest?” Well to be honest…who really cares? If all parties are consenting adults who are you to tell them they can’t live that way? You want 5 wives or 3 wives and two husbands or 5 husbands…good for you. You want to boink mom…um…sssssure…go ahead (eeeeew).

    I am always amused by the idea that Republicans are all about the government staying out of your life until I want to marry my partner and then they are all like “Oh no that’s immoral and illegal and the government must put a stop to it now.”

    meh.

  10. Re: Assange – my thinking is that he is actually a conduit of disinformation serving the ultimate goal of giving the powers-that-be the excuse they’ve been wishing for (SECURITY!!) to finally shut down the anarchic pain-in-their-asses that the internet surely must be.

    Viewed through this filter, the relative lack of real surprises in the leaked docs, and Assange’s ego-driven asshat behavior make a lot more sense.

  11. Re: Assange
    Who do we think is going to be tapped to play Assange in the inevitable movie?
    Bonus Question: What is the title going to be?

  12. Rest assured that if the Jubilee comes to the US, it will be limited to corporations and high-level financial wizards. We lowly humans will still have our mortgages, medical debts, etc to deal with.

    God wants it that way, you know.

  13. I question the definition of “consent” in this instance. She may have technically agreed to it, but I’d imagine there’s a strong possibility of either some kind of mental illness or, more likely, grooming through her teenage years. Psychologically healthy, not-abused women don’t suddenly decide to sleep with their fathers.

  14. An interesting collection of subjects for a Monday morning.

    Incest, oh yes – the game the whole family can play. Sorry, still eeeeeew even between consenting adults.

    Paper money has, in reality, no value. Truly not worth the paper it’s printed on. The entire fiscal system is a elaborate consensual hallucination. Just try not to wake up.

    Assange is interesting at best but, for better or worse he is not WikiLeaks, just a public face. Thw idea will survive the person, as it should.

  15. I was hoping that when the anonymous guys did the DDOS attack on Mastercard, they might actually erase my debt records, but no such luck.

    Maybe Tyler Durden will do a better job next time blowing up the corporate headquarters.

  16. #12 by GL2814:

    I occasionally note that someone who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “meaningful adult consent” — like those who compare same-sex relationships to bestiality and pedophilia — is quite possibly not a safe person to date. Or even just be alone with.

  17. #13 by COOP:

    Re: Assange – my thinking is that he is actually a conduit of disinformation

    You’re a bit behind the curve. There was already speculation weeks ago that much of the presentation of information about Assange was designed to make him look like a conduit of disinformation. No doubt there are people already speculating several levels farther along into that maze of mirrors.

  18. Speaking of hope and change, but hell just froze over…

    Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration’s health- care overhaul is unconstitutional because it forces individuals to buy insurance, a federal judge said, striking down the linchpin of the president’s plan.

    U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, ruled today that the insurance requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid that are unrelated to the insurance mandate. He held off from ordering the government to stop work on putting the law into effect.

  19. MasterThief @ #22:

    Sounds like judicial activism to me. Or does that only happen when a judge takes a “liberal” viewpoint?

  20. Incest as a form of sex abuse is common. On the plus side (?) and not relevant to this case, incest pedophiles have the lowest rates of recidivism. Anyway, legally, the girl could consent. In reality? Probably not.

    (Yes, I practice in a very upbeat area of law.)

  21. EH:

    Yeah, the daughter being in the age of majority here doesn’t mean it wasn’t still very likely an egregious manipulation of the power balance between them in their relationship (this is also, incidentally, probably why he’s charged and she’s not; the belief that the alleged perpetrator was the one in the relationship with the power).

  22. Considering there are coyotes are running around the Columbia campus stalking squirrels and drunk undergraduates, I hope they team and pull down that professor and devour him like a Thanksgiving turkey.

  23. Nathan @21 – “All the reports I’ve seen assert that the incestuous relationship was consensual. Any idea why the daughter hasn’t been charged?”

    Slate addressed the question you are asking.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2277681/

    Money quote:
    “Because she’s seen as the victim. Prosecutors could have made a case against the daughter, but when it comes to incest, the authorities tend to focus on one party. In this situation, “consent” is irrelevant, since it’s the act itself that constitutes the crime; and blame tends to fall on whichever half of the incestuous couple has more control.”
    Also interesting:
    “What happens in cases in which the power dynamic is less clear—as between similarly aged siblings? As a general rule, an older sibling will be in greater legal jeopardy than a younger one, and a brother gets more blame than a sister.”

  24. COOP: The idea of “value” itself is a matter of social negotiation. Paper money is just a set of tokens to keep track of it.

    I wouldn’t put my faith in gold or silver either, as (1) there’s a lot more in circulation than there was even a century ago; (2) there are an awful lot of stockpiles scattered around, and if enough of those get opened, it’s going to mess with the market, and (3) As KevinQ points out, you can’t actually eat gold. If we do get to the point of total economic collapse, it’s going to be “back to basics” in a hurry. Food, shelter, weaponry, fuel, maybe medicine. (Not particularly in that order.) The first underlying “currency” to re-emerge would probably be labor itself, as the machine power goes out and fuel gets conserved for heating and cooking.

    Lanta: Yeah, but at some point, you still have to grant people responsibility for their own actions, even if you do think they’ve been “played”.

  25. Serge@6,

    I know a bunch of guys that collect shotgun shells and bullets and call them “food storage”. Does that count?

  26. Well I for one am not surprised about the silence here concern Obama and the Democrats failures and lack of promised “change”. After all the owner of the site is very much left wing and has every right to discuss or not discuss what he wants. Many of my left sided friends are more focused now on other things and trying to see the bright side of life.

  27. Irene @ 29 – That’s an interesting article. I’d like to see John tackle that in another thread if he is interested. Not the incest part, but the concept of supposed censorship and Amazon’s rights as a distributor to carry the products they want to carry. Is it really censorship to say you are not comfortable distributing a specific book? Where does the line get drawn? Etc..

  28. “very much left wing”
    It is interesting to look in at American political labels from the outside. As a Canadian I view Mr. Scalzi as a very moderate centrist. He would fit into the right side of mainstream political option up here in the Great Right North.

  29. @KevinQ, Doug
    You’re both right, a piece of metal is just a piece of metal. Some of it can be put to good use by clever people – iron can be hammered into nails, copper can be drawn into wire, and gold makes pretty jewelery that my wife would say has quite a bit of value.

    My five dollar bill today can buy me a sandwich. Tomorrow (with a ludicrous amount of inflation), maybe only a coffee. And a few years from now, maybe I’ll be making paper airplanes out of them. Pieces of metal I buy today will probably cost me less in terms of my daily productivity (salary) than they will in the future, which is I why I think they have value.

    @A.J. I would agree, though it takes more skill than I have to make clever use of these particular metal bits.

  30. MPAVictoria
    It might help your understanding to know that, very often in this country, people at the farther edges of the right consider anything to their left to be crazy left wing. This happens to some degree with the far left as well, but it’s not as pronounced.

  31. “the GOP and its media minions…”
    Plural? Really? The right has Fox News and the left has…well, everything else. Or were you referring to the nine people who still read print news? Oh wait–radio. Never mind.

  32. 37:
    I am sure you are correct. I just find it interesting the the political spectrum is that different. For example I am far to the left of the Democratic Party but consider myself a centrist, albeit a left leaning one, by Canadian standards.

  33. #23 by Kevin Williams:

    Sounds like judicial activism to me. Or does that only happen when a judge takes a “liberal” viewpoint?

    I think that was pretty clearly settled in Bush v. Gore.

  34. “Epstein is apparently well-liked, and fairly well-known—he’s frequently quoted in the political press, has authored several books, and, uh, two articles for The Huffington Post,..”

    OMG, I’m sure we’ll be hearing about “The Huffing Post writer who’s been molesting his daughter” all over certain segments of the media.

  35. #38 by J:

    “the GOP and its media minions…”
    Plural? Really? The right has Fox News and the left has…well, everything else.

    Ah yes, the so-called “liberal media” … a term largely made popular via the media.

    The term stems in part from a couple of surveys done many years ago that showed that most journalists held personal opinions on a few specific topics that mostly resembled the “left” sides of those topics. Later, similar studies that showed that most news media editors, producers, and owners hold personal opinions that tended toward the “right” sides of those topics. Curiously, those studies never became as widely known.

    I wonder who has a bigger impact on any bias the media might have: the writers of a story, or the people who hire writers, assign stories, and decide whether or not to publish / broadcast any result.

  36. As far as the left-leaning journalists… well, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” – Stephen Colbert

  37. In the interests of “ewww” and anecdotes, I used to work summers in a saw mill, and there was a machinist there who was arrested for having sex with his daughter. It was awkward because I just showed up one summer and he wasn’t there and no one wanted to say what happened.

    He also received all of his medical treatment from a local witch who told him the best way to stay healthy was to eat hard-boiled eggs every day. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for his family to have been financially dependent on him.

  38. On the subject of the Columbia Professor (prefratory: EEEEEEWWW) and his daughter, I have to wonder that even if the “relationship” (and yes, that should be in the quotes usually used by homophobic bigots for same-sex couples) was consensual and only took place while the young woman was of age, I think it’s very reasonable to suspect that some form of abuse was going on in that household while she was a child.

    I speak with all the powers of an internet speculator when I say that something was very broken in that family long before…well…EEEEEWWWW.

  39. #39 by MPAVictoria:

    It’s pretty common in most of Western Europe for the major conservative party platform in a country to roughly match — or generally be somewhat left of — the platform of the Democratic Party in the US. To find the equivalent of the US Republican Party platform in Europe, you mostly have to go to the nationalists and/or strict Christians of a certain bent. Bernie Sanders would be considered an unremarkable member of any major liberal party.

    The rea$on$ for thi$ are left a$ an exerci$e for the reader.

  40. #49 by Bearpaw:

    P.S. I should emphasize that this is in respect to the current Democratic and Republican parties in the US. Twasn’t always so, of course.

  41. Bearpaw:
    It does make you wonder why Canada and the United States have such different political climates though. Canada and the US are probably two of the most broadly similar countries in the world in almost every way but politics.

  42. 52:
    Of course but the similarities far outweigh the differences by my measure. Both countries are large,wealthy, English speaking, capitalist democracies yet they have very different political cultures. So different in fact that I sometimes have great difficulty understanding the arguments/positions of right wing Americans. (No offense meant by this, I am sure they have the same difficulty from the other side.)

  43. no one in Washington is even trying to pretend anymore that money is anything other than a highly abstract, non-real, fungible agreed-upon social construct

    Haven’t mainstream economists spent the last eighty years or so trying to explain this?

  44. I noticed this comment:

    Nice to know which US politicians are woefully ignorant about what the definition of “treason” is;

    I wondered it if should have read:

    Nice to know which US politicians are woefully ignorant about what the definition of “insert just about any arbitrary topic here” is;

    Then I started thinking it should really read like this:

    Nice to know which US politicians are NOT woefully ignorant about what the definition of “insert just about any arbitrary topic here” is;

    Seems like this would be an easier list to compile. Much shorter…

  45. Serge (@36) Annual CPI in the US was 1.2% in the year from October 2009. That’s the latest set of numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The present rate is significantly lower than it was for most of the Bush presidency. Probably much lower than during the Clinton years, too. If you see ludicrous inflation looming in the present circumstances (and it’s not clear from your post whether you do or not) you must have been awfully, terribly worried long about 2004-05.

  46. As others note, when you’re all the way over to the right, everything looks left. Of course, everyone thinks their positions are centrist, too.

    This is actually a well-known phenomenon in psychology, the technical name for which I no longer remember. The more absolute and ‘extreme’ one’s position is, the greater the perception of ‘extremism’ in opposing views. (This is true without regard to modern political definitions of ‘left’ or ‘right’.) Anything outside of an extremely narrow and close-in band of opinions is, to the wingnut, simply one giant morass of indistinguishable and oppositional Wrong.

  47. MPAVictoria – same here. I’m British, and when I hear/read American right wing viewpoints on quite a number of issues I find them really hard to comprehend.

    For reference – I’m very left wing even by British standards on most issues (our whole political system more or less is basically left wing of the US Democrats as far as I can tell!) except for being anti-abortion.

  48. Hey John,

    I’ve been trying to figure out the Julian Assange thing myself and it just doesn’t make any sense. I am pretty conservative and disagree with you on most of your political posts, but on Assange I agree with you 100%.

    1. How do you prosecute someone who isn’t American for un-American activity? If he punked out Russia the same politicians would want to give him a medal (like Putin does now).

    2. He is pretty damn proud of himself for a pasty-faced little dweeb.

    3. When 3 million people have access to your “secret” computer files, you may have a problem.

    4. If the government uses Wikileaks to crack down on internet freedom, it’s bad for all of us, liberal and conservative.

  49. Thank you, John. I am now going to enjoy a brain sanitizing romp over at I Can Haz Cheezburger and relegate this blog post to the same part of my brain in which lives the first fifty or so pages of To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

  50. I, too, am interested in seeing how this all plays out. I work in politics in Washington, and I do not understand why the Democrats didn’t choose to have the exact debate we’re seeing unfold right now before the election.

    While I have no doubt that the “deal” that has been cut is better than (read: closer to their announced priorities) what could be achieved after the Rs take control of the House next year, I do not understand why they think that by essentially kicking the tax cut can two years down the road they’ll be in a better position to make the argument then.

    It is interesting to me that they’ll be letting unemployment expire in January, 2012, but the tax cuts on January 2013. If the Administration had shown more tactical savvy before now, I’d think that they had some scheme in mind to take advantage of this disparity. As it stands, I think they went for what they could get, and this is it.

  51. I agree completely with your assessment of Assange. There’s a bunch of maroons all over the internet going on about how he’s a hero. I’m pretty sure that’s precisely what he was after. I get the vibe that for him that it’s more of an “As I command it, so shall it be done” sort of thing than any pursuit of truth and justice. Plus, if he actually cared about doing good, he’d redact the names of the innocent. He doesn’t so he won’t. What a great guy.

    That said, I get a kick out of Sarah Palin saying what a terrible American he is. Newsflash: He’s not American. Oh well, it’s truthy enough for her to go with it, I guess.

  52. One thing that annoys me about wikileaks is that many seem to be operating on the following theory.

    Wikileaks giving The New York Times classified data -> Treason worthy of execution
    The New York Times printing the classified data -> Journalism

    (The other thing being the idea that something 500k people know is going to stay secret.)

  53. political spectrum:
    I saw a thing in the news a few years ago about a survey taken of people’s opinions on various subjects, that weren’t labeled as to who supports what, no dem/rep leaning anything, and on the individual issues, a large majority of Americans supported basically all of Dennis Kucinich’s positions on everything. But he’ll still never be elected as President. *shrug*

    metal and money:
    This is where watching lots of zombie movies pays off. Whether it’s zombies, biological outbreak, economic collapse, End Times, whatever, most of the same rules apply. Weaponry FIRST. And as the movie says, “Rule 1: Cardio.”

  54. American conservatives didn’t get more conservative – European (and Canadian) conservatives got less so. The reason? WWII.

    During WWII, Europe was ravaged. Bombs fell on the manor house and the poor house, fighting occurred in the good part of town and the bad part, and pretty much everybody had some taste of what it would be like to be poor and helpless. At the end of the war and during the long rebuilding, saying things like “your health is not my problem” became socially unacceptable. It had always been un-Christian and of questionable morality, but it became simply beyond the pale.

    This was obviously not the case in the USA. Sacrifices were made, but actual fighting was “over there” in sparsely-populated Alaska and one day’s bombing in Hawaii. Even then, American conservatives could comfort themselves that “Mister Roosevelt’s War” could have been avoided and the sacrifices would not have been needed. In Allied Europe, this was not the case – the war was clearly forced on to them. In Germany and Italy, popular politicians, supported by the traditional conservative power base, had started the war.

    After WWII, any attempt to rebuild European conservatism had an additional handicap. In Europe, conservatives looked to kings and the upper classes. We get the classic “conservative equals right” from the Constituent Assembly of the French Revolution – the one that led to Louis XVII’s brother loosing his head. WWI had not been good to kings, and WWII was even worse. Federalism wasn’t even on the European radar screen. The only ideological base to argue for European conservatism was Christian, and it’s hard to call yourself a “Christian Democrat” and not be for somebody’s ability to see a doctor.

    In America, conservatives could fall back on a different base, the small government federalism of the Constitution. Now, at the time of the American Revolution, this idea was radical in the extreme. It was even too radical for many revolutionary Americans; Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers, was heavily in favor of the French Revolution, and he was considered so radical that only six people attended his funeral in America in 1809.

    But after a few centuries, this liberal idea was now “classical liberalism” and could be used to support a conservative movement. Now, don’t get me wrong – I like small government and Federalism is a good idea. But carried to extremes, small government can get you a nation that says child labor laws are a violation of the right of contract. Federalism? Well, imagine if you needed a passport to fly from Chicago to Atlanta.

  55. political spectrum@65,

    Really? “A large majority of American’s supported basically all of Dennis Kucinich’s positions on everything.”

    Really?

    I guess that would be because like a “large majority of Americans” he is a vegan who authored a bill to create a Department of Peace, is 100% behind government controlled health-care, repealing the death penalty, cap and trade legislation, and all that other stuff that both conservatives and liberals can agree on.

    Although he has been frequently seen on both sides of the abortion issue, so I guess at one point or another everyone has agreed with him on that, even though he doesn’t agree with himself all of the time.

  56. #60 by Billy Quiets:

    3. When 3 million people have access to your “secret” computer files, you may have a problem.

    3 million people can keep a secret if 2,999,999 of them are dead.

    4. If the government uses Wikileaks to crack down on internet freedom, it’s bad for all of us, liberal and conservative.

    What’s bizarre (though predictable) is that many people are preemptively blaming Assange/WikiLeaks for this. Because you totally shouldn’t put freedom at risk by using it, or something like that. “Don’t rock the boat! You may piss off the insane captain, and then it’ll be your fault if he shoots someone and tosses their corpse to the sharks!”

    Gods forbid that someone’s access to music video satires on YouTube might be threatened because someone shed a little bit of light on a secretive and powerful organization with access to the biggest pile of weapons on the planet and far more financial resources than the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and George Soros combined.

  57. political spectrum @65: yes, an online survey put out by the Kucinich campaign, which asked people about their opinion on 25 different issues, and found that slightly over half the people responding matched Kucinich’s opinions (that is, if they were asked to pick a candidate solely based on ‘answers the same as you’ they would have elected Kucinich).

    I have some doubts, myself, about the accuracy and neutrality of this result. YMMV, though.

  58. On an even more ewwwwww note, a family from my deep rural part of cali-o-for-nia lost momma to an accident. Papa moved the oldest daughter into the master suite, and continued popping out babies. Four before the authorities caught on.
    Ewwwwwww.

  59. #63 by Eridani:

    Plus, if he actually cared about doing good, he’d redact the names of the innocent. He doesn’t so he won’t. What a great guy.

    Actually, WikiLeaks does redact the “names of the innocent”, though they don’t have a perfect record. Which is pretty unsurprising, considering.

    Also, it’s quite impressive how many people seem to be at least partly basing their response to the actions of WikiLeaks on their impression of one of the people in it, much of which they’re getting via the “professional” news media. Whose reaction in part sounds like they’re trying to distract people from how much the WikiLeaks information makes it obvious that most of them suck as journalists. (Though they are undoubtedly very accomplished stenographers.)

  60. Re: Why the US and Canada are so different politically.

    My theory is that it has a lot to do with religion. The top two Protestant denominations there are Anglican and the United Church. There’s next to none of the evangelical and pentecostal stuff that plagues politics here. You get some of that in the prairies, but they don’t have nearly the same political/cultural sway nationwide that, say, the Southern Baptists have here.

  61. I think Scalzi should have led with mentioning Sir Terry Pratchett’s post about Alzheimer’s disease; maybe I missed it in an earlier posting. He did post it over at the SFWA page, which was where I found it, and I thank you, John, for doing so.

    Other topics:
    Eeeewwwww: Yes, eeeewwww. I can imagine cases where there’s technical legal and biological incest that might not be eeeewwww inducing (boy boinks girl, they break up, they move apart, taken by parents, girl gives up daughter for adoption without informing boy, thirty years later boy and daughter meet, fall in love … ) but that’s not this case. I sometimes wonder if RAH was trying to point out that mankind is not the rational animal by having his characters act as if they were absolutely rational. Man is the rationalizing animal. If that hypothetical ever actually happened, think about the nightmares the two of them would have. Should they be prosecuted?

    Democrats and Republicans. Briefly, yes, eeeeewww.

    Wikileaks: Well, by the oaths I took many years ago, both Manning and Assange should be facing treason charges (… or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.) They’re not the only ones, though. There are a lot of folk in D.C. who seem to get away with a lot of things that their minions do not, minions are charged and convicted while their “superiors” — of both parties are not. That strikes me as backwards; those in charge are supposed to know more and act better than the minions.

  62. #69 by mythago:

    political spectrum @65: yes, an online survey put out by the Kucinich campaign

    Online surveys suck, inherently.

    That said, there are no end of real surveys that show that public opinion on various topics pretty consistently tends to the left of most politicians and media pundits.

    For instance, throughout the health “reform” “debate”, multiple polls showed there was strong support for a “public option”. Even among Republican voters, more people supported the idea than opposed it. But those poll results generally sank without a ripple and politicos and pundits simply continued talking about how “controversial” the idea was.

    (Heck, some polls have indicated strong majority support for a single-payer system … which of course is never even mentioned by any Serious People.)

  63. I should point out that those of us with experience in the USA’s existing single-payer health systems (Indian, military, VA) are not exactly thrilled with the results. If they could/would fix those systems’ problems, I’d be much less skeptical of a federal system that allowed no alternative or escape from its determinations, decisions, and treatments.

  64. #73 by htom:

    Wikileaks: Well, by the oaths I took many years ago, both Manning and Assange should be facing treason charges

    Please note that Assange is not a US citizen. Therefore, it makes zero sense to try him for treason for his part in revealing US gov’t secrets. Perhaps he has revealed Australian secrets that have given aid and comfort to their enemies, though I haven’t heard that.

    IANAL, but it is my understanding that the US gov’t might be able to charge him with espionage, though I doubt it. Well, I don’t doubt that they’d try him for it, but I suspect that making it stick would be tough. (These days, of course, getting a guilty conviction would be nice but not necessary as far as our freedom-loving country is concerned. If we get our hands on him, we could just continue to hold him indefinitely anyway.)

  65. #76 by htom:

    I should point out that those of us with experience in the USA’s existing single-payer health systems (Indian, military, VA) are not exactly thrilled with the results.

    While the Veteran’s Administration certainly has its flaws, it scores satisfaction ratings that are consistently higher than private sector health care gets.

    As far as the Indian Health Service, from what I know, its problems have less to do with the fact that it’s a gov’t run health service and more to do with the fact that they serve a population that most folks don’t give a frak about. If they didn’t have the IHS, such as it is, they wouldn’t have any health care at all. Comparing what they get with what most of us probably get rather misses the point.

    It’s also worth pointing out that most of the countries who have single-payer systems or full-blown national health care spend far less per capita on health and by multiple measures get better results. I realize that it’s anathema among many people to admit that the US could learn a thing or two from other countries, but I’d like to think we’re smart enough to make an exception.

  66. I realize that it’s anathema among many people to admit that the US could learn a thing or two from other countries,

    That’s a downright un-American attitude in my book.

    If something works, take a look, take it apart and learn enough to do it better.

  67. Actually the person who leaked to Assange used a CD-Rom (or CD-RW) because USB ports have been shut down on those classified systems for the last few years due to infected thumb drives.

    Now in the wake of this leak, even CD/DVD drives are shut off and only a very select few are allowed to burn data when necessary.

  68. Re: Why the US and Canada are so different politically.

    As a Canadian now living in the US who sees the best of both countries, I have another explanation for why we’re so similar but so different – populations numbers, both the sheer numerical difference and the density.

    The US, despite it’s large size, had plenty of people filling it up, many large population centers that organically expanded. The American experience led to and supported a spirit of individualism.

    Canada was an even larger country geographically, with a significantly smaller population that was strung out thinly and had to artificially push it’s expansion in order to keep the territory between the colonies/provinces in the East and West from being swallowed up as the US expanded. This led to a much stronger reliance on and familiarity with large institutions (governmental, commerical, religious).

  69. Since this kind of turned into a Health Care debate I’d like to add my two cents given the single payer model. I don’t think it’d work for us due to our sheer size but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn anything from the Europeans as singlepayer is but one of many types used on the continent. The German system of non-profit insurers negotiating with the state and subsidized med school/college could work wonders in the US if we were willing to pay the tax burden it requires. It’s regrettable that we’re forced into a viewpoint where the system has to either be A: All government or B: No government intervention and neither the twain should meet.

    Concerning Wikileaks: I’m not thrilled about it but it doesn’t look like Assange has broken any law(although the leakers most certainly have) as the main espy charge was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1971.

  70. Thanks so very much for your eeeeeeeew from a daughter who was told she was being over-sensitive when her father thought she should take her mother’s place when Mother died. He “needed a woman’s body to hold next to his.” Definitely too creepy!

  71. I’ve been thinking about the “intrinsic value of pieces of metal” thing lately, and come to the conclusion that too many apocalypticists are collecting either bullion or guns.

    Me? I vote for nails and self-tapping screws…

  72. I tend to think of Julian Assange as a self-important little weasel with a vastly overinflated ego, and I really don’t think my opinion of him is that vastly different from yours.

  73. So getting back on topic, I am certainly one of those conservatives feeling a morose delectation at the growing rift in the hope and change coalition. Although I had the grace not to ask our host about it, I’m glad to see his comments.

    What I find fascinating is the now universal consensus that raising taxes will hurt the already badly damaged economy.

    Well, yes? That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you for years. Raising taxes eventually LOWERS revenue, kills stimulus, inhibits hiring, and stifles new business startups. Now finally, when the economy is circling the bowl the Washington insider liberals admit that in order to save the economy -Gasp!- they may have to leave the tax rate the same. Which somehow they keep mislabeling as a “tax break”

  74. #73 DailyMail.co.uk recently did a few articles about a man and woman who met, hit it off, 2 yrs later got pregnant and moved in together, got engaged — then found out they had the same father.

    They managed somehow to get married and are emigrating to an unnamed country.

    I’ve read too much RAH. While I have the expected Ewww reaction at the thought of having sex with any of my family members, the thought of other people having sex with other adults they’re related to simply evokes a “how odd” reaction. I assume those people would have the same visceral response that makes sex with a relative seem really icky so I find it odd they don’t have that.

  75. My take on the incest, without having read too far into the comments:

    If it truly is an adult, consenting relationship? Get the authorities out of it. BUT. It may not have been. Let him go for now. He’s not going anywhere. Counsel the daughter. Get her carefully planned help. Find out if she really did just want to nail daddy, or if she was manipulated. If the former, well, hey, two adults. If the latter, prosecute.
    I’ve seen a television special on a father/daughter relationship. They’re very much in love, but they have to hide their location and all of that, because of what they are and all of that. But here’s the thing: he was never in her life growing up. She never even knew who he was until she was in her early twenties, I believe. She found him then as her father, and discovered her attraction to him, and it was mutual. That’s one thing. That’s unfortunate, but hey, that’s two consenting adults doing something rather squicky. But that professor, from what I can tell, RAISED his daughter. That puts the power dynamic into all sorts of nasty places and why she needs help and the authorities need to find out if this poor woman was manipulated or not. That’s the difference.

    I seem to recall that in Florida, which is my location, that incest between consenting adults is only prosecutable if the union produces children. It’s been prosecuted when first cousins have had mentally disabled children, IIRC, but I can’t recall any others off the top of my head. Seems that in Florida, you can screw all you want, just keep it wrapped and do not reproduce.

  76. Well, yes? That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you for years. Raising taxes eventually LOWERS revenue, kills stimulus, inhibits hiring, and stifles new business startups.

    Not even Laffer believes that.

    The Laffer curve posits a sweet spot where you balance lower taxes and higher revenue—but it’s a BROAD sweet spot (has to be; way too many factors contribute to the curve). And there’s certainly a part of the curve where taxes can be TOO low. You’re gonna have to show me the math on that.

  77. I agree that Assanage comes across as a preening cock, appearance and manner wise, and I had the same impression before I saw him on the Colbert Report just before the Wikileaks thing went gangbusters and his convictions and attitude were pretty impressive. He seems more nervous but willful than preening cock.

    I think he’s been made out to be far more arrogant and self rightous than he actually is by a huffy media (if I conspiracy minded I’d even suggest government directed) trying to poison the well by defaming the bucket.

    Equally a shame is the fact he looks and sounds like a bad guy from a sci fi TV show.

  78. Heinlein having one of his characters travel 2,000 years backwards in time to boink his mom, plus all those other parent/child couplings? That’s his thing, and I’m going to let him have it.

    Also, Time Enough for Love is openly about Freudian psychoanalysis (with even a couple of characters named Dora, etc.). Hard to address it without considering Oedipus ! (and Heinlein does quite a thorough job, considering variations never dreamt of, which only SF could bring up…)

  79. Well, by the oaths I took many years ago, both Manning and Assange should be facing treason charges

    The oaths you took… but not oaths Assange took. He’s an Australian citizen, not an American one nor is he an American resident and therefore simply by the definition of treason he can not have committed treason against the government of the USA. Manning may well have done so (I’m not a suitably qualified lawyer to decide if he is guilty) since he is an American citizen, and additionally presumably promised when he was granted security clearance to not go blabbing top secret stuff on the internet.

    US/Canada differences and population density> I don’t think so, but then I’m in the UK where our population density is much higher than that of the USA and we are miles to the left politically – thus I conclude “sparse population” –> “big government” isn’t true in general. Although maybe that is the case in Canada.

    Incest> she’s a grown up, if she was coerced then that’s rape; and if she wasn’t I don’t see why it would be illegal. Kinda icky, sure; but lots of people think my relationship choices are kind icky and I’d rather they weren’t made illegal on those grounds.

  80. Aaron @ 91: in the right lighting, I always thought he looked like Mr. Humphries from Are You Being Served?

    Tal @ 72: I’m from the prairies of Canada, and never noticed nearly that kind of sway of religion. The foundation of the United Church came from people, while settling the prairies, realizing that there weren’t enough people to make it worthwhile to have four different churches, so they merged. The result is one of the most inclusive and non-judgmental churches in the world.

  81. It has long been a fantasy of mine that we would just burn the whole institutional debt structure to the ground and start over. However, I do like your image much better! The numbers we deal in on a daily basis have become so large as to be meaningless and really, does any of it EVER get paid back? No. So why pretend any longer when every country has so much debt that the daily business of governing is consumed by discussions of increasing the debt.
    Just draw a line and call it even. Start over.

    Unfortunately, like the health insurance program for all, everyone has to participate or it doesn’t work. Sigh.

  82. You don’t have to be an American citizen to be subject to US law, although it can make you harder to catch. For example, Manuel Noriega, former dictator of Panama, served a seventeen-year sentence for drug trafficking, racketeering, and money-laundering, and was then extradited to France, where he is now serving a seven-year sentence for money laundering.

  83. Well I think it would be fun if someone in Iran or Russia would leak their diplomatic cables to Assange. France would be fun too.

    Do you think he would if he could?

  84. As to the various comments about our kindly host being “left-wing”: here in Florida, which has been becoming increasingly deeper Red over the last few years (when I started voting, Republicans were a generally ignored lunatic fringe, even though most Democrats in the Panhandle were quite conservative and helped Reagan out in his day; now they run the asylum) one of the new guys running the Senate, quite the right-winger himself, declared that the Senate in the last session, extremely conservative by just about everyone else’s standards, was “liberal” (mainly because they couldn’t override Gov. Christ’s veto of a number of bills the extreme Righties wanted passed and which will certaily be re-introduced this year and signed by our new multi-millionaire Gov. Scott).

    It’s all a matter of one’s perspective, I suppose.

  85. @Julia We should all remember from health class that the only 100% effective way to not have a baby with your daughter is not to have sex with her. This is one of the few cases where I am OK with the government interfering in the bedroom. Now for the coincidental ewwww moment, my daughter’s name is Julia.

  86. #97 by Frank:

    So far, WikiLeaks has released secrets involving the governments of: Somalia, Kenya, the United States, Britain, Peru, Iran, and Germany. They have alluded to an upcoming leak involving Russia.

    They have also handled leaks about the Swiss Bank Julius Baer, the Barclays Bank: Kaupthing Bank, and Trafigura,

    I may have missed some subjects.

  87. #96 by Seth Gordon:

    You do have to be a US citizen to be subjected to legal charges of treason by the US government. (Possibly a non-citizen legal resident could be charged with treason too, I don’t know.) This is one of those times when the legal definition of a term and the dictionary definition are rather similar.

    Calls for the US government to charge Assange with treason are nonsensical. Espionage, maybe, though at least some legal experts seem dubious. Treason, no.

  88. Bearpaw @100

    Really. Nothing in the Iranian cables was newsworthy? Or did I just miss something?

    Chris S @99

    This is one of the few cases where I am OK with the government interfering in the bedroom.

    I guess I’m not understanding how it is that Lawrence v. Texas can apply to Gays but not to this as a matter of law. Not that I’m defending incest, but just sayin’….

  89. #102 by Frank:

    It wasn’t diplomatic cables that WikiLeak provided re Iran, it was documents related to a nuclear accident that had occurred at the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility. That was in July, 2009, when there was less focus on WikiLeaks itself, so you may have read about the accident without knowing that WikiLeaks was how the media got the story.

    There seems to be a common assumption in the US that our government is the only subject of WikiLeaks. Not true. Certainly the US government is a major focus, but all things considered that makes sense. Even if we were always a totally friendly, helpful, and housebroken 800-pound gorilla, it’d make sense to pay a little extra attention to us.

  90. Bearpaw @ 104

    It wasn’t diplomatic cables that WikiLeak provided re Iran…

    Oh what fun is that. Tell me you don’t wanna know what these guys think of Hillary, Obama, Bush, Cheney the Left, the Right, all of it.

    Get with the program Assange!

    ibid @ 103

    Definitely fewer guns and more nails.

    Well you don’t need as many guns as you do nails, duh!

    You may need as many bullets as you do nails however.

    I say, guns, nails, and skills. Gold is gonna be worth bupkis. Useful stuff will be worth alot and will need to be defended.

    I always thought Larry and Jerry’s book “Lucifer’s Hammer” was pretty well thought out. Didn’t seem to be much need for a TV news anchor in their scenario.

  91. I’m pretty much with Julia at #89. I’m the last person to suggest anyone stop theorizing in advance of the facts (it’s just too damned interesting, and also, we are not charged with being the factfinders here). But there’s a lot about the incest case we don’t know. Since we don’t know, I’m all in favor of a thorough investigation. It’s too important. You don’t have sex with your children. Even if the child is not biologically related to you. If I could be convinced that such a relationship was truly consensual, I’d walk away without prosecuting it.

    But it’s my understanding that this father helped raise his baby girl. That means he took pictures of her when she first learned to walk, held her while she got vaccinated, put the quarters under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy, helped her learn to ride a bike, picked her up after swim practices…and then she turns 18, and they both suddenly say to each other, “Ooh, you’re the one for me!” – no. No, no, no. That requires depravity. Mom and dad are supposed to protect you from exploitation. It’s parenting, not animal husbandry.

  92. @Frank:

    “I guess I’m not understanding how it is that Lawrence v. Texas can apply to Gays but not to this as a matter of law. Not that I’m defending incest, but just sayin’….”

    Because the law being struck down only applies to gay people doing the nasty while if a hetero couple was doing the same thing they wouldn’t have been charged and probably wouldn’t have been convicted. If gay people have incest, they can be charged under the same statute as straight people.

  93. I have a different take on relationships in fiction and how they relate to relationships in reality. Relationships based on an imbalance of power are all the rage today. With the rising popularity of the twilight and similar vampire romance stories targeting young ladies at the point in which they are becoming part of sexual society. In these stories it is true love for a 1000 year old vampire to sex up a teen girl. My girlfriend, an acolyte of this literature, is enraptured also by the TV show Life Unexpected, in which the main character a 16 or so year old girl is pursuing a romantic relationship with one of her high school teachers. It is presented in the light of “True Love”

    I feel like there is a natural progression from teenagers in fiction dating 1,000 vampires to teenagers in fiction dating high school teachers to teenagers in real life sexualizing high school teachers or other authority figures. Such a dramatic shift in cultural taboos bother me and make me wonder if we aren’t going to see alot more “Ewww” inducing stories of power differential sexual relationships. Perhaps the cultural taboos will make a resurgence as the teen/vampire relationship fad subsides.

  94. mythago @108

    have you read Lawrence v. Texas

    Why yes! I have. And I recall that Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the court pointed out

    “The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.”

    In fact the Court’s legal reasoning included that it was necessary to overturn Bowers v. Hardwick and they did so specifically by saying that they should only consider the close personal intimate contact not whether or not the act itself was an historically condemned practice, the line of reasoning upon which Bowers rested.

    And I know of at least one case where Lawrence was invoked as a defense in an incest case: State of Ohion v. Lowe. I should not the defendant lost but clearly it is not unreasonable to use Lawrence in this matter considering that the reason the Ohio Supreme Court didn’t allow the defense was because it said that “Lawrence failed to announce a fundamental right or apply heightened scrutiny, making it easier to sustain other state laws governing consensual sexual activity”.

  95. My highly superficial list of thoughts on the matter are:

    Wikileaks first came to national attention when they posted the apache video, showing an american apache helicopter in Iraq gun down an unarmed camera man, two unarmed men carrying a wounded man to a car, and riddling the car with bullets killing two children inside.

    They have come back to national attention because they have posted a bunch of information. True information. For instance, the US is currently waging what had been a SECRET WAR IN YEMEN. Some people had been saying the US was doing military operations in Yemen, but wikileaks posted government documents that prove it, and prove the the government had lied to reporters when asked whether the US was involved in Yemen.

    The thing about Yemen is that everyone in Yemen knows its the US military. The only people to whom its actually a “secret” that the US is in Yemen, is to the American people. Those saying this should be kept secret are sayign nothing more than sayign the americna people should be kept in the dark about its own government and its own military, about something that all the other players (the people we’re going after and the people we’re working with, in Yemen) know.

    This isn’t “we need to keep the location of our nuclear sub a secret as it operates under the artic ice so the Soviets don’t destroy it and then launch a nuclear first strike” argument. This isn’t a “we need to keep the identity of our secret agents in al queda secret so they can remain in al queda and keep telling us what’s goign on” argument. This is a “we need to keep this war secret because if the American people know about it, they will try to stop it” kind of argument.

    It is the most blatantly undemocratic argument there is.

    Unfortunately, we have been shifting more and more (and much more since 9/11) from being “a people who come together and form a constitutional democracy that empowers a government to create laws that reflect our will and enforce those laws” to being “subjects under an empire where the rule of law is whatever the emporer says it is”. The last decade or so of lying about our wars, lying about our torture, our war crimes, our illegal imprisonment of thousands of innocent people in black sites, the known murder of hundreds of innocent people at black sites, wire tapping, domestic spying, loss of rights, loss of the rule of law, is nothing more than America shifting from constitutional democracy based on rule of law to Empire based on the rule of the Emporer.

    In all of this, the people doing the killing, the torturing, the war crimes, the raping of the constitution, are the people in Assange’s videos, cables, documents, and papers.

    Assange hasn’t murdered anyone. No one has been harmed by his information release. He didn’t break any laws releasing this information.

    And yet, its those who support the murder, the violence, the torture, the end to the rule of law, who are most adamant to scream about how much blood Assange has on his hands, how many lives Assange has killed, how many laws Assange has broken.

    The thing is Assange hasn’t killed or tortured anyone or broken any laws. But what he has been doing is showing the empire and the emporer for what it is. The apache video showed the brutality that is war. Even if the apache crew did everything according to the rules of engagement, what that video shows is that our war in Iraq isn’t clean, bloodless, laser guided bombs killing only bad guys. War is fucking hell. And in war, good peopel will end up killing other good people by accident. If you go to war, you have to go to war for a reason that is so much bigger that some collateral damage and some friendly fire incidents are minor compared to what would happen if you DONT go to war. The emporer has been telling us for a decade that the war in iraq and afhanistan are being won. The surge worked, whatever the fuck that means. And yet, we’ve been in Afghanistan longer than teh Soviets were and we still haven’t won. we haven’t even made a dent of progress there.

    Assange’s only “crime” has been to show the videos and cables and text that documents the fact that we live fully in an empire ruled by emporers and his suckups. And the emporer and his suckups don’t like that.

    More and more, I’m waiting for the sequel to the emporer’s new clothes where the child who speaks the truth is called a murder, a traitor, and whose death is called for by all the people.

  96. Shorter me: Assange hasn’t harmed any person. The thing that Assange has done the most damage to is the Empire itself. And the Empire, and those who think the world should be ruled as empires, don’t like that one bit.

  97. #105 by Frank:

    I always thought Larry and Jerry’s book “Lucifer’s Hammer” was pretty well thought out. Didn’t seem to be much need for a TV news anchor in their scenario.

    Maybe not, but it turned out they did need someone to deliver the mail.

  98. Frank @110: then, of course, you’re aware that Lawrence says nothing about incest, and therefore your ‘question’ at @102 was a lot less a genuine inquiry about the legality of adult incest and a lot more a snide dig at “the Gays”. You know, I’m just sayin.

    BTW, the fact that an opinion was invoked by somebody in their own defense means just about zip. If I had a dime for every time I’ve seen a defendant say “I should get what I want because my position is supported by Smith v. Neeblefritzer” and it turns out the Neeblefritzer decision has nothing whatsoever to do with their argument, other than it had a nice quotation that could be taken out of context…I’d have a metric buttload of dimes. And then some. The question is whether the legal reasoning of case X lends itself to some other result.

  99. mythago @114

    of course, you’re aware that Lawrence says nothing about incest

    No it doesn’t. But clearly the legal line of reasoning in Lawrence is not restricted to gays. As you well know, the scope of a Supreme Court ruling can, and often is, wider than the particulars of the case at hand. The scope of the Citizens United decision applied to more than the non-profit sector even though it was a non-profit that brought the case to the Court.

    a lot less a genuine inquiry about the legality of adult incest and a lot more a snide dig at “the Gays”

    I have nothing against Gays and I was not being snide to Gays. I was simply pointing out the problem of securing rights through the Courts. It is much better to legislate and deal with a specific issue than it is to use the courts and incur the unintended consequences that often occur.

    The question is whether the legal reasoning of case X lends itself to some other result.

    Yes well if you re-read the post, the justices in Lowe did not deem the Lawrence precedent specious, they simply disagreed with the defendent on the level of scrutiny that Lawrence imposed. They found that Lawrence left enough wiggle room so that not all laws against sexual behavior considered deviant have been invalidated by Lawrence

    Another Court might find differently.

  100. Frank @115: As you well know, the scope of a Supreme Court ruling can, and often is, wider than the particulars of the case at hand – certainly. How, in this case, do you believe the reasoning of Lawrence can be applied to cases of consensual incest between adults?

    An actual link to the Lowe case would have been helpful, but I think you are referring to the decision here. Your summary of Lowe is incorrect. Both Lowe and Lawrence applied the same level of Constitutional scrutiny. (Please see paragraphs 21-26.) The Lowe court simply held that there is a rational basis for the government to prohibit incest (whereas there is no rational basis for a “sodomy OK, unless you’re gay” law like the Texas one struck down by Lawrence.)

    I was simply pointing out the problem of securing rights through the Courts.

    You disagree with the holding of Marbury v. Madison? Because if what you’re saying is ‘beware unintended consequences’, that is not limited to the actions of the judicial branch by any means (that’s what all those arguments about legislative intent result from). A law passed by Congress codifying the holding of Lawrence could have been cited by Lowe in exactly the same way.

  101. yes, the legislative branch is better than the judicial. wait, legislative branch legislated Jim Crow. ah, the executive branch is better than legislative because executive can veto. wait, executive suspends rule of law. ah, the judicial branch is better than executive because juducial overturned jim crow.

    hm, maybe checks and balances means no branch is better?

    it would also suggest that anyone saying one branch is better than another, less susceptible to doing the wrong thing, is really just saying that checks and balances are bad.

    certainly, octavius brought about pax romana, the start of the best two centuries of the roman empire. but he was still an emporer. a benevolent dictator is still a dictator. and while pretty much any system of government will function well as long as the people running it are good people, performance severely forks between systems when you add bad actors.

    contrast, just say, Caligula versus McCarthy or Nixon.

    it is in the last couple decades that the checks against executive power has crumbled to the point that the executive that was Shrub could be legitimately compared to someone as bad as Nero. Nero played lyre while Rome burned. Shrub read My Pet Goat on 9/11 and considered a photoop the proper response to katrina.

    so can we please drop this nonsense about one branch being ‘better’ than another and just call it what it is, a call for unchecked power, a call to remove one of the checks and balances from a system, leaving little more than an emporer and an impotant Senate that history already shows what that looks like.

    ‘judicial activism’ really is nothing but code calling for the ‘emporer of america’. and i am just a little tired of hearing it.

  102. I keep reading that Assange has a big ego but I’m yet to come across much in the way of evidence. Am I missing something?

    The best I’ve come across so far is his argument that the rest of the media are doing a pretty poor job if the biggest exposes since the Pentagon Papers are coming from a little activist organisation. To which I can only say:

    a) he has a point, and
    b) it’s not exactly Kanye territory, is it?

    Disclaimer: I only started reading about Assange recently, so there’s a very good chance I’ve missed something damning. But in the interviews I’ve read he seems keen to put the focus on the leaked material and the Wikileaks organisation, not himself.

  103. @Greg: It’s spelled “Emperor.”

    Sorry, that typo really annoys me. Aside from that, I’m inclined to agree with you.

  104. I have to say I imagine the comment thread for this particular entry is going to be a pain in my ass.

    Only if you travel back in time to boink yourself, since we’re speaking of Heinlein…”All You Zombies.”

    Yeah, I know. Eeeeeeeeeeeew.

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