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Silent3's Journal
Silent3's Journal
September 3, 2021

While I would still strongly disagree with "pro-life" people, it would be with a bit more sympathy..

...if there were any consistency in their so-called "pro-life" position.

With rare exceptions, however, most of the same people who like to claim a fetus or an embryo is "sacred", are:

* Pro-death penalty
* Just loves 'em some wildly unregulated firearms. (Many clearly fantasize about the day they finally get to shoot an intruder. Yee hah!)
* Are very casual about "collateral damage" when eager to carpet bomb a perceived enemy.
* Don't care much when cops kill people, especially white cops killing black people (a black cop killing a white person -- that might get them riled up).
* Are against free universal healthcare.
* Don't want to pay a dime in taxes for the well-being of a baby after it's born - you're on your own, kid!
* In the age of COVID are vehemently anti-vax and even anti-mask, as if even a piece of cloth on your face is way too much of a burden for protecting other people's lives.

Find me that rare pro-life person who is against the death penalty, pro gun control, pacifist, pro police reform, pro universal healthcare, is willing to use public funds to make life for a child better after being born, gets vaxxed, and will wear a mask... I'll still disagree with them, but, as I said, with a bit more sympathy for their point of view.

Why am I pro-choice? It's not that I'm an absolutist about "a woman's right to choose", which is the formulaic response for a lot of people here on DU.

Like all rights, no right is absolute when it bumps up against other rights. If (and only if) a freshly-fertilized human egg cell had the same right to live that a post-natal person has, it would not be a slam-dunk that "a woman's right to choose" always exceeds an embryo's or a fetus's supposed right to live.

I'm pro-choice because I don't believe a fertilized human egg cell should be granted full equivalency to a born human being. I believe it has a developing, growing value as birth approaches and viability outside the womb increases.

If my only criteria for my pro-choice position were "a woman's right to choose", I couldn't be self-consistent and support, as I do, vaccination mandates. I clearly think there's a point where a person's choices, be they female or male, about what they do with their own bodies, run up against countervailing public health concerns.

June 17, 2021

You're listing a lot of acts of aggression and greed

No matter how much you associate those things with capitalism, they aren't capitalism. They can certainly help greedy capitalists get rich, but they aren't in and of themselves capitalism. Aggression and greed have a long and colorful history from thousands of years before Adam Smith was born.

Here are the basic conditions I'm talking about:

1) A relatively broad concept of personal property. This exists in many cultures, particular anything agrarian or industrial. Less so in hunter-gatherer societies perhaps, but even those societies aren't always completely devoid of the idea.

If you started telling people it was illegal to own personal property, I think you'd find yourself very unpopular. Even ruling out certain categories of personal property like land and buildings and machines and tools would be highly unpopular.

2) A willingness and ability among the population to trade property or labor for other property or labor.

Again, try to put significant restrictions on who can buy what from whom, who can work for or hire another person, and you'll have an unpopular outcome that would require oppressive means to enforce.

Simply combine the conditions where both 1 and 2 exist, et voilà, you have markets and you have the means of production.

Capitalism of some form simply happens given these circumstances. The supercharging of capitalism takes a bit more work, like creating monetary policy, banking systems, stock markets, the concept of incorporation, etc.

What annoys me about the way so many people talk about capitalism is they talk about it not only as a system, but as an imposed system, as if a bunch of mustache-twirling fiends gathered together in smoke-filled rooms to create and impose capitalism on everyone else.

I see capitalism much more as a natural outcome of common conditions. Given those conditions, capitalism is simply what happens unless you specifically and consciously create rules that severely limit what people can own and what people can do.

This said, I am certainly in favor of many laws to curb the excesses of capitalism, but there's a whole lot that can be done to curb those excesses which is popular and fair and not gratuitously intrusive, like environmental regulation, workplace safety standards, minimum wage, etc.

April 29, 2021

"Woke", "cancel culture", and the meaning of words

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

There's been a lot of heated discussion around here about what James Carville said about "wokeness", and similarly, about "cancel culture", and if it even exists or not.

It's important to realize in such discussions that words mean different things to different people. Meanings of words and phrases shift and evolve, and, whether some people like it or not, changes happen to the general understanding of what words mean that aren't to everyone's liking. Meanings seldom completely settle down either, so the same words mean different things in different contexts.

It's one thing to insist on what you believe is the "correct" meaning for certain words. It's quite another, however, to impose your own meaning on a word or phrase and then act as if what someone else has said, no matter how they might have actually meant it, must be treated as if their words bear your preferred meaning.

Someone posted that there "Ain't no such thing as 'too woke'". Well, if you insist that the only possible meaning of "woke" is a good one, meaning being conscious of privilege, and seeking and demanding justice and fairness, you'd be right. You can't have too much of that.

But do you really imagine Carville is saying, "Too many Democrats are too concerned with fairness and justice. They need dull their awareness of privilege, and let some nasty shit slip by, if they want to win elections"?

I think it's pretty obvious that Carville is talking about issues like obnoxious levels of word policing, or insisting that everyone must admit they're a racist, or be an even worse racist for not admitting to being one at all. Let's not pretend their aren't people out there in this world who get fucking annoying about trying to one-up each other in performative wokeness.

You might still disagree with Carville, but then get to the real disagreement rather than arguing against a straw-man Carville of your own creation. Try giving Carville the benefit of the doubt about meaning something where he might, just might, have a point, and see where that takes you.

If you want to argue for what words do mean, or should mean, fine. But don't stupidly act as if other people must mean their words way you mean those same words, and then tar them with all that goes along with imposing your meanings.
April 8, 2021

My letter to Senator Joe Manchin

I am deeply frustrated by what I'm hearing about your opposition to eliminating, or even mildly reforming, the filibuster.

There is no "new era of bipartisanship" coming. It is not going to happen. You must know this. Republicans in the Senate are interested in one thing, and one thing only: retaining and regaining Republican power. Period. End of story.

Hurting Biden's presidency, and damaging general public opinion of Democratic politicians, is their principal goal. Given the choice between passing legislation that helps the American people, or hurting Biden and other Democrats by stymieing progress, they will choose stymieing progress every time.

Republicans most certainly do not want to help with anything that protects voters' rights. Suppressing votes is their other main strategy for retaining and regaining power.

Again, I am certain you must be aware of this. So what good does it do to pretend you are promoting a fanciful "new era of bipartisanship"?

Our very democracy is at stake here. If Democrats don't both impress the voters of this country with tangible progress over the next two years, and ensure that Democratic votes will be properly counted two years from now, we could lose everything to Republicans who have lost all reluctance in displaying naked disrespect for, and opposition to, democracy itself. If and when such Republicans regain control, you can be certain they will have no respect for any Democratic minority which remains. Your preservation of the filibuster for use by future Democrats will be for naught.

The only reason Republicans have not already destroyed the filibuster is that they haven't needed to. The only things Mitch McConnell wanted to do for the past four years were pass tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and stuff the courts with extremist right-wing judges. Between using budget reconciliation, and filibuster exceptions for confirming judges, Republicans had all they needed. You can be certain that if they regain power, and want to do more, they'll again do whatever they have to do to bypass Democrats, and they will not respect your previous preservation of the filibuster in the least.

Please, wake up, and help Biden and your fellow Democrats save our country. Even at the possible cost of your own re-election in your one state, please help pave the way for Democratic victories in many other states.

A day may come when there is a "loyal opposition" party Democrats can work with and compromise with for the good of the country, a day when Democratic Party defeat can be viewed as a temporary setback, and not an existential risk. But that day is at the very least years away. The current Republican party has become completely radicalized, unprincipled, and unmoored from democratic norms. Please do not abandon the hopes of our nation to an unrealistic pipe dream of near-term bipartisanship.

February 12, 2021

I'm afraid I've also lost my faith in "decent Americans" to save us

Trump's supporters are MOTIVATED. They turn out reliably to vote in primaries, and I'm pretty sure Trumpist-crazies like MTG will continue to win primary elections.

When general elections come around, our fate is often decided by the so-called "independents" who aren't the judicious non-partisans many hope for them to be. Far too many of them are married to that stupid idea that "there's not a dime of difference" between Democrats and Republicans.

They have terrible memories for even recent political history, and vote based on rough general impressions (easily manipulated by propaganda) of the particular candidates personalities, naively believing individual character is the most important quality in a politician, blissfully unaware of how party affiliation controls which party runs the agenda in legislative bodies.

Think of how, although we managed to elect Biden, Republicans picked up seats in the House, and we won the Senate by the narrowest of margins. Why? Many Biden voters either didn't bother to fill in Senate/House votes, which Republican voters were clearly more motivated to do, or stupidly thought that splitting their votes was actually a good idea, for "balance".

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Gender: Male
Hometown: New Hampshire
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Member since: Sun Oct 3, 2004, 04:16 PM
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