Wednesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. The irrationality of Peter Singer.
  2. Earthquake “fallout”.
  3. Libya half a century ago.
  4. Medals of Freedom and two Presidents.
  5. Heh.
  6. A problem noted.
  7. 4G warfare in a nutshell.
  8. Considering the Theotokos.
  9. Prejudices.
  10. A question for the President’s backers. And a question about tactics.
  11. A film.
  12. Practical consequences of Christian eschatology.

9 responses to “Wednesday Highlights

  1. The irrationality of Peter Singer.

    What irrational about him? He’s arguing that it would be more moral to save 150 children who could live healthy and normal lives rather than extending the life of one child who has a terrible quality of life for the same amount of money. It’s something that you may disagree with, but I don’t see how it’s “irrational.”

    If anything, Singer’s flaw is that he is “too” rational — that he ignores the emotional side of human life and makes purely rational suggestions that horrify us emotionally.

    I think a point that Singer isn’t making explicit but that I would like to make is that these people seem to be using this child as some kind of mascot or abstraction rather than a human being. They’re so worried about extending life at all costs that they don’t care about quality of life. I mean, the poor kid is in a persistent vegetative state and will need to be on a respirator for the rest of his life. I can understand parents letting their emotions get the better of them and prolonging his life regardless of the futility or pointlessness of it, but these religious hangers-on who are using the kid to prove to themselves and each other how great they are? It’s kind of gross.

    Prejudices.

    LOL, seriously?

    A question for the President’s backers. And a question about tactics.

    I’ve noticed that you haven’t said or linked to a single approving word about Obama going into Libya, whereas previously when Palin suggested it, you linked to that and not to criticism of her. Do you care at all about the subject as something other than a way to score points for your team?

  2. Mark, of course, wants to have it both ways. Either Obama doesn’t do enough with the military or he does too little….and this all happens at exactly the same time! If he doesn’t take a position on Lybia he can bash Obama for either getting involved (if, say, the rebels turn out to be assholes) or for not getting involved sooner (if all turns out well) or for not doing enough (if the rebels end up getting slaughtered anyway)

    I do think it’s fair to criticize him for taking a the view in the Senate that Presidential power was highly limited and now he seems to take the opposite view. That’s not exactly unusual, though. Depending on which team you’re playing, it’s easy to always see the rules as written in its favor rather than against.

  3. Singer is written out of the tent of respectable discourse yet Ayn Randians still get a place at the table, esp. on the right yet their morality is little different. Ayn Rand came right out and said that those who suffer severe handicaps must either survive on the voluntary charity of individuals or die. Even if a trival tax that caused a trivial amount of hardship for a great number of people could save a person from horrible suffering, it is theft and immoral and must be opposed come hell or high water……

    Now if everyone ‘did what Singer wanted’ they would contribute around 1/4 of their income to charity and apply marginal utility analysis to making sure the money gets to where it goes best. Maybe the boy wouldn’t be saved in a world of people more like Singers but millions of people who perish in todays world would. On the other hand, if we had more Randians we’d see many who are in fact saved today perishing.

  4. JA,
    Singer’s an ass. He doesn’t follow his own advice. He advices the “coldly rational” solutions, yet doesn’t follow it in his own family life, e.g., the care for his elderly parents. And I think you missed Lydia’s point against Mr Singer or at the very least what I took from it was way different from you. This seems the crux of the objection to me

    How dare people give their own money to the wrong charity to help the wrong child? How dare Priests for Life solicit their money for this purpose? How dare they use their money in a way that Peter Singer wouldn’t use it? Perhaps we need a “charity czar” to make sure charity dollars are all spent according to Singer’s utilitarian calculus.

    The objection is he has no place offering objections to how other people choose to allocate their own money for charity.

    About “prejudices” … uhm no not seriously, but exactly the opposite. It’s meant to be humor.

    Palin suggested going in, or setting no fly zones a month ago, when Qaddaffyi (whatever/however that’s spelled) was using AA guns on crowds. Now a month later Obama is tentatively going in with no stated mission plan, no objective and an org chart designed for failure. But because Palin suggested doing something I’m now supposed to applaud Obama’s current efforts, and to do otherwise is just “point scoring for my team.”

    Do you support his actions, i.., going into Libya? Why? What distinguishes this from the Bush/Iraq venture in your view?

  5. The objection is he has no place offering objections to how other people choose to allocate their own money for charity.

    WTF, why not? If he thinks they’re allocating it stupidly, why shouldn’t he say so? He’s not advocating anybody force them to change, is he?

    Palin suggested going in, or setting no fly zones a month ago, when Qaddaffyi (whatever/however that’s spelled) was using AA guns on crowds. Now a month later Obama is tentatively going in with no stated mission plan, no objective and an org chart designed for failure. But because Palin suggested doing something I’m now supposed to applaud Obama’s current efforts, and to do otherwise is just “point scoring for my team.”

    Honest question: If Bush were still president and had literally done the exact same thing in the exact same timeframe as Obama, would your links look the same? Or would you be linking to criticisms of his critics instead?

    Do you support his actions, i.., going into Libya? Why? What distinguishes this from the Bush/Iraq venture in your view?

    I tentatively support, with great reservation, as I did when Palin suggested it. (That’s intellectual honesty, btw — taking a stance no matter who agrees or disagrees, not waiting to see who says what before being coy about your stance and attacking the people on the other team.)

    What distinguishes this is that it’s supposed to simply protect civilians from Qaddafi who was at the time murdering them (and that is the extent that my support goes.) It also has legitimate (not coerced) international support. Iraq, on the other hand, came at a time when there was no revolution happening, when Saddam was not firing into crowds, when frankly there was no real reason for it, and we were trying to spread Democracy by force. We also sent a lot more Americans into Iraq, spent a lot more money, and killed a ton more people. And we’re still there.

  6. JA,

    Honest question: If Bush were still president and had literally done the exact same thing in the exact same timeframe as Obama, would your links look the same? Or would you be linking to criticisms of his critics instead?

    Uhm, what does the phrase “loyal opposition” mean to you anyhow? I’m not (as Boonton suggests) having it both ways. Suggesting that Mr Obama is doing it wrong or badly is not to say it shouldn’t be done.

    What distinguishes this is that it’s supposed to simply protect civilians from Qaddafi who was at the time murdering them (and that is the extent that my support goes.

    And all the “we support regime change” talk from the Admin is what? Smokescreen or ignored by you?

  7. Uhm, what does the phrase “loyal opposition” mean to you anyhow? I’m not (as Boonton suggests) having it both ways. Suggesting that Mr Obama is doing it wrong or badly is not to say it shouldn’t be done.

    You didn’t answer my question, unless the first sentence is an admission that you’re just scoring points.

    And all the “we support regime change” talk from the Admin is what? Smokescreen or ignored by you?

    I think they support it but aren’t volunteering to do it. Which is I think the correct stance on most or all dictatorships.

  8. And I think you missed Lydia’s point …

    A point that would only have merit if Singer was advocating gov’t control of charitable giving rather than just criticizing someone for what he thought was foolish or inefficient giving.

    The objection is he has no place offering objections to how other people choose to allocate their own money for charity.

    Why not? People object to other people’s decisions all the time. They object to the clothes they wear, the music they sing or like, the causes they choose to accept or reject. We are social animals and as such we both judge others and see how we are judged. Singer may have no place trying to force others to allocate their money as they please but ‘no place’ to object? Please…… How does he even know about this? No doubt because the outfit made it a point to announce to the media and public that they were doing it!

    If Singer has no place to object, then you have no place to support, take sides with or defend. For that matter, Singer is free to write and say anything he wants? What place do you and Lydia have to object? I guess you want to establish a ‘Writing Czar’ to regulate the opinion writing of all philosophers. Hmmmm?

    Palin suggested going in, or setting no fly zones a month ago, when Qaddaffyi (whatever/however that’s spelled) was using AA guns on crowds.

    As was pointed out by I believe the head of the Joint Chiefs, you don’t just declare a no fly zone. Nearly all interventions have followed this pattern….the President doesn’t come out of the blue doing it but usually the issued has been mulled around among the chattering classes for a while before it actually happens. Somalia under Bush I was like that, Hati & Bosnia under Clinton, even Iraq under Bush II. That’s not to say it happened because Palin called for it (or any other person). It happens because even in this open age of all things digital and wikileaked a lot of stuff still has to happen behind the scenes. The issue gets people in the administration lining up on both sides making their case to the President. Even when action is decided, the groundwork gets laid by having foreign leaders being brought on board (or at least assessing how they are going to react). To date it seems like the US has done a pretty impressive diplomatic job. We have England and France behind it and contributing planes. We have the Arab league asking for it. We have China and Russia not objecting which is impressive because China esp. has been very, very leary of the ‘Arab democratic rebellions’ spreading. Compare and contrast to the Iraq war where we had Bush telling us about how great it was Poland was on our side while most of our Nato allies were hostile.

    As for ‘no plan’….what does that really mean? What plan would you want? It doesn’t seem to me like military interventions are really given to true plans given their inherent unpredictability.

    Uhm, what does the phrase “loyal opposition” mean to you anyhow? I’m not (as Boonton suggests) having it both ways. Suggesting that Mr Obama is doing it wrong or badly is not to say it shouldn’t be done.

    To me it seems saying little of substance. You’re trying to be all things critical of Obama but ending up being not much of anything while others on the right have taken definitive stands. Palin is on record for air strikes. Some at the NR are on record as being against. Depending on how things turn out, some may say fairly that they were vindicated, others would have to take the ignomity of being wrong. You, however, risk nothing. If ten years from now it seems obvious that it would have been better to have let Qaddaffi have his way, you can state you never supported either Obama or Palin’s stand on it. If it seems like Obama’s action worked great, you can claim it would have been better if you had your way. If it seems like ground troops were needed and Obama didn’t do that, well you again can claim that you wanted more but Obama failed. Nothing wagered nothing gained, not guts no glory.

  9. I’m also thinking the existence of a plan is not quite the same as making a plan public. Hypothetically suppose there is a plan to get Quadaffi out of power. If the rebels can’t do it then the US will push for a coalition of ground troops to do so. If this plan exists, should it be made public?

    Well if I were a rebel leader and this was the public plan I would pull back. After all why push with everything I have considering how inefficient my military forces are and how many deaths they will incur forcing the dictator out? I just have to wait, appear to be losing and then let an international coalition do the work for me. On the other hand if the ‘plan’ appears to be nothing more than a no-fly zone with some helpful air strikes, then I should push with everything I got because its now or never.

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