Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The failure of scientism in an Orwellian world

I was recently teaching George Orwell's 1984. Near the beginning, Winston Smith is thinking about how the Party is able to control history by constantly rewriting it. He himself works for the Ministry of Truth, and his job is to destroy literature that has gone out of favor with the Party and to rewrite historical accounts to reflect the Party's current dogmas. He wonders how this affects reality.

What happens when you are the only one who remembers what actually happened and everyone else believes the rewritten version of history? For that matter, what would happen (Winston doesn't take it quite this far) if no one existed who remembered the true account of things?

Would the Party's version of history then be reality? Is reality actually changed through this process? Is the Party, in other words, actually able to control reality?

I am thinking that just about everybody would say "No": No matter how history is rewritten or revised, there is a reality of which the records of it is only an approximation--a better or worse approximation depending on the extent to which it is in accord with "reality."

I thought about this in connection with all those people (some of whom frequent my comments section) who think that the only way to detect reality is by empirical evidence. If you lived in a world in which all the records had been changed--all of the empirical evidence--then your method would yield the exact reality that those who changed the records chose to portray and, if you believed in "reality," would only lead you astray.

In other words, according to the kind of scientism I hear so much of, the answer to Winston's question would be "Yes": Reality could be changed by the Party merely through the process of historical revision. An analysis of the "evidence" would yield exactly what the Party had revised it to be. The "reality" would then be only a metaphysical abstraction of the kind for which scientism has no patience.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I will be on KET debating the New Intolerance tonight

I will be on KET tonight. The stated topic is "LGBT Rights." At least their not using the loaded term "fairness," which kind of begs the question. Other guests include:

Richard Nelson, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Policy Center
Chris Hartman, Executive irector of The Kentucky Fairness Alliance
Enid Trucios-Haynes, President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ky Gov. Beshear hires campaign donors to defend KY marriage law

The latest press release from The Family Foundation:

March 14, 2014

LEXINGTON, KY—"The fox is in full control of the henhouse," said The Family Foundation’s spokesman today after it was revealed that Gov. Steve Beshear had hired a law firm whose partners are big donors to Democratic campaigns to defend Kentucky's Marriage Amendment.

"The opponents of the Kentucky Marriage Amendment like to talk about being fair, but there has been nothing fair about the defense of the right of Kentucky voters to define marriage so far," said Martin Cothran. "First, we have an Attorney General who was charged with defending the rights of Kentucky's voters on this issue and waited until after a judge ruled against him to reveal that he agreed with the other side. Now, we have the Governor appointing a law firm whose partners donated to his campaign."

"The venue for deciding the fate of Kentucky's Marriage Amendment is now officially a kangaroo court," said Cothran.

Cothran said he hoped the firm taking the case would not follow the path of Attorney General Jack Conway, who filed a weakly-argued brief in the case, failed to show up for meetings with the judge and refused to sign motions in the case.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Facebook now has 51 different "gender options"

Facebook now offers 51 different "gender options." I wonder if all of them are genetic.

And by the way, if I can choose my gender, can I choose my race too?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Jack Conway: The Pope made him do it

Where is the outrage!!! Where are the finger-wagging lectures on the separation between church and state?!!! Where are the indignant looks and upturned noses?!!!

We all know what would have happened if a conservative attorney general had gone before the camera's yesterday in Frankfort and announced that he was going to appeal the ruling striking down part of the state's marriage law and then told a national magazine that he did it partly for religious reasons.

Liberals would have choked on their vegetarian lunches. Volvos on the state's highways would have gone careening out of control. Sensitivity training would have been called for to cleanse him of his ideological sickness.

But for a liberal attorney general to announce that he was not going to appeal and to then say that he did it partly for religious reasons ... well now, that's another thing entirely.

Here's Jack Conway told Time Magazine yesterday:
A Catholic and a Democrat considering running for governor in 2015, Conway said he knew the decision could put him at odds with voters and with church leaders in his hometown. His thinking was shaped partly by statements from Pope Francis that encouraged openness toward gays. “Our new pope recently said on an airplane ‘Who am I to judge.’ The new pope has said a lot of things that Catholics like me really like. I have, as someone who grew up as a Catholic listened to some of the words of the new pope and found them inspirational.”
The liberal reaction? Crickets chirping.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

More injustice from the forces of fairness: Gov to hire cheap attorney

WAVE3-TV is reporting that Gov. Steve Beshear is planning on hiring a cheap lawyer to take up the case for Kentucky's now disenfranchised voters. According to WAVE3, the posting for the position says it will pay $125 per hour.

$125 an hour? Whuuuut!!!

That may sound like a lot to some people, but $125 per hour won't buy you a paralegal in this day and age. No wonder we can't win in court anymore: the government that is responsible for defending these laws are against them, their representatives (e.g. Jack Conway) pretend they're for you while their trying to spike the case, and then they go to Budget Rent-An-Attorney to replace the guy who quit on you and who wasn't trying real hard in the first place.

That's "fairness" for you folks, liberal style: "What's fair for me is what what's fair for me and what's fair for you is what's fair for me."

Got that?

WAVE-3 Louisville coverage of Conway caving on the marriage case

wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather

"Court ruling moves conservatives to the back of the bus" in today's Courier-Journal

Today's Courier-Journal carries my editorial on how the legal doctrines being spun out of thin air by liberal judges are moving issues out of the reach of voters and into the hands of unelected judges and how conservative reasons for laws are now automatically considered unconstitutional. For those who are not subscribers, here it is.

Politics is a messy business. Thankfully, we have the federal courts to deliver us from it.

On Feb. 12, a federal judge struck down a part of Kentucky’s marriage amendment and in the process partially nullified the votes of 1,222,125 Kentuckians who voted in 2004 in favor of the traditional view of marriage — more than voted for and against any previous amendment on a Kentucky ballot.

In the ruling, Bourke v. Beshear, Justice John G. Heyburn struck down the part of Kentucky’s marriage law that allows Kentucky to determine its own marriage policy by not having to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

The decision is one of an increasing number of court cases that nullify democratically enacted laws and referenda — or, as in this case, constitutional amendments — that had been placed on the ballot and ratified by voters.

The Bourke case, like similar cases which are systematically invalidating marriage laws in other states, forcibly takes marriage policy out of the hands of voters and their elected representatives and places it in the hands of unelected federal judges whose political opinions differ starkly from those of the general public.

In fact, on almost every social issue, from marriage to school prayer to abortion, policy is now being made in the least democratic of our branches of government: the federal courts.

Of course, the judges now deciding our policy issues for us claim constitutional warrant for their decisions. The trouble is that there is nothing in the Constitution they can actually point to. So they point to earlier decisions by earlier judges who claimed such warrant in an infinite regress that never arrives at any actual constitutional language that justifies their ruling.

In reality, the views of current courts are the result of an accretion of judicial doctrines with little relation to the Constitution they claim to interpret that has grown like barnacles on a ship. In cases such as those related to same-sex marriage, the judicial ship is now almost all barnacles.

Liberals have cheered this development and understandingly so: It largely benefits them. As issues are more and more frequently taken out of the democratic process and appropriated by judges, the findings of courts almost necessarily end up reflecting the views of the class from which its members are drawn. With liberal judges now in control of social issues, liberals don’t even have to argue their case anymore.

Social liberals, their views now determined by the prescriptive power of the courts, can pretty much do as they please. Conservatives, on the other hand, must go to the back of the bus.

So much for “fairness.”

All this has been accomplished by appointing to the courts people who have accepted the liberal conception of what can be counted reasonable and what cannot. The “rational basis” test, which several courts have at least claimed is the basis for their decisions on same-sex marriage, automatically counts out anything a conservative would recognize as a legitimate reason.

According to recent court rulings, tradition, custom, religion and morality itself cannot count as rational. This is something that is itself not argued for, but simply asserted. There is, in other words, no rational basis for the rational basis test as it is currently imposed by the courts

The decision in Bourke — and the decision in the Windsor v. The United States that struck down DOMA — are basically declarations that laws can only be justified for liberal reasons. Conservative reasons simply don’t count.

And complicating the situation is that those whose constitutional obligation it is to defend these laws and the rights of the voters who passed them are shirking their oaths of office. In Kentucky, Attorney General Jack Conway, after a period of reflection on whether he should do his job, decided to leave voters in the lurch by not appealing the Bourke case. His decision came despite the fact that the marriage amendment was part of the Constitution when he took the oath.

Judge Heyburn in an unusual part of his ruling — and Jack Conway in his press conference yesterday — addressed the very citizens they were complicit in disenfranchising, patted them patronizingly on the head and told them that they may not like it, but they must live with this new regime in which their views no longer matter.

And what of consequence can these citizens say, now that their power of saying anything of consequence has been taken away?

Stupid argument of the day

Get this: Dan Canon, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Bourke v. Beshear--the case that Jack Conway bailed on today, is criticizing Beshear for continuing the appeal of the case on the grounds that it will cost the state money.

Uh, if state spending is what he is worried about, then why did he sue the state in the first place? Wouldn't it have cost the state less money if it didn't have to defend itself from a suit by his clients?


So if Conway can refuse to defend Kentucky's marriage law, then ...

So if it's okay for Conway to refuse to perform his constitutional obligation and defend Kentucky's marriage law because he conscientiously objects to it, is it okay for a Christian baker or florist not to provide a cake or flowers at a gay wedding because they conscientiously object to it?

NEWS: Conway refuses to appeal marriage case, bails on voters

Today's Family Foundation's press release:

LEXINGTON, KY--"Jack Conway announced today that he is not going to defend the state's Constitution and the rights of Kentucky voters despite the fact that he took an oath of office to do exactly that," said a spokesman for The Family Foundation, the group which pushed for the Marriage Amendment in 2004.

"The voters have been disenfranchised and the Attorney General said today that he is not going to do anything about it," said Martin Cothran. "Jack Conway has raised the white flag after the first shot was fired. He isn't going to win any medals for bravery in the fight to protect Kentucky voters."

Cothran had criticized the Attorney General for "spiking the case" by offering weak arguments, not showing up for meetings with the judge, and, until last Friday, not signing a single motion in the case himself. In response to the Governor's ensuing decision to appoint another attorney to argue the case, Cothran said, "If I were the Governor, I'd get another attorney too."

Conway said he didn't think he would be successful if he appealed. "A good attorney fights harder when the odds are against him. He doesn't just quit."


Monday, March 03, 2014

NEWS: AG spokeswoman says Conway should defend voters’ rights on marriage issue

Today's press release from The Family Foundation:

March 3, 2014

LEXINGTON, KY—Attorney General Jack Conway's own spokesperson told a prominent national news outlet that Kentucky's chief law enforcement official is obligated to defend Kentucky's marriage law, says a spokesman for the group that helped pass Kentucky’s Marriage Protection Amendment. "So far, the Attorney General has been a no-show in the defense of Kentucky voters on the marriage issue," said Martin Cothran of The Family Foundation.

Allison Martin, spokeswoman for Conway told the Daily Beast on Jan. 24, "The Kentucky Attorney General, by statute and oath, is required to defend the Kentucky Constitution. It would be inappropriate to discuss personal views on issues that are pending before the court.”

"We appreciate Ms. Martin's candor," said Cothran. "We hope Jack Conway appreciates it too." Cothran said Conway has an obligation to defend the voters against liberal judges who want to create rights out of thin air rather than interpret the laws their elected lawmakers pass and to do it no matter what his personal views are.

Conway is currently considering whether to appeal the ruling in Bourke v. Beshear, which struck down part of Kentucky's Marriage Amendment, passed by 75 percent of Kentucky voters in 2004.

"That's his job—the one he was elected to do. The Kentucky Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. He was elected knowing that and he knew it when he swore an oath to support it. If he can't defend it, then he needs to step down from the attorney general position and let someone else do it."

"Conway should appeal the case, and when he does, he needs to show up." Cothran has been critical of the handling of the case by Conway's office so far, charging last week that Conway was "spiking the case" by offering weak arguments, not signing motions in the case, and not showing up for meetings with the judge.


Jack Conway Held Hostage: Day 19

The first in a series of reports on the hostage crisis in the Kentucky Attorney General's office between the Attorney General and himself over whether to do his constitutional duty and defend Kentucky's Marriage Amendment:

In an apparent stand-off with himself, Attorney General Jack Conway is holding himself hostage, with his hostage-taker (himself) demanding that he (himself) be relieved of the responsibility of defending a law he is, by constitutional obligation and by his oath of office, sworn to uphold. He is refusing to sign any legal orders with the exception of motions that allow him more time to negotiate with himself over whether he should do his job and appeal the ruling in Bourke vs. Beshear, which struck down part of Kentucky's marriage law which restricts marriages to a relationship between a man and a woman.

Observers had been wondering what had happened to the Attorney General, who, until last Friday, had not put his name to any of the motions in the case and who hasn't shown up for a single meeting called by the judge.

Conway's underlings have had to file the motions and cover the meetings for him, but they have clearly been confused about what to do because, nineteen days after the ruling, the AG has failed to resolve the conflict between the two Jacks. Repeated questions from the judge of assistant attorney generals have been met by indecision and confusion.

In fact, it is unclear, given the quality of briefs and motions filed in the case whether they were even written by someone with a law degree. Some observers suspect the real author of the documents to be the lady who waters the plants in the office—or possibly the janitor.

His office has declined to give any information regarding the hostage's condition other than to say that the AG is "distraught."

We will continue to update readers from Kentucky's Capitol on this developing crisis.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Obama Doctrine

You almost have to try, as the President of the most power country on earth, to make yourself irrelevant in global politics, but this seems to be the chief achievement of Obama's foreign policy. We have observed before on this blog the specifics of Obama's economic policy, which consists of the following principles:

Principle #1: ????????????????????????????
Principle #2: ????????????????????????????

And, last but not least, his most unforgettable economic axiom:

Principle #3: ????????????????????????????

Which leads us to Obama's foreign policy, which contains only one basic rule, which goes as follows:


This is why, in the contest now with Russia over the control of the Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin is hunkered down in the Kremlin, trembling at the very thought of the following action by the United States, aimed right at the heart of Russia's aspirations in Eastern Europe:


Wait. Just a second. That's not trembling. That's ... that's ... Putin ... doubled over laughing at the incompetence of the current administration in Washington.