1408 - The Exception to the Rule

Most of the horror films that I haven't seen are marked "not interested" on Flixster; that's because I have a tendency, when scared, to scream and run in place. Ask me if I want to endure this in advance, and you'll get a not interested from me, pretty much every time.

This film was a notable exception. I like both the leads in this film, and the story of the writer driven to seek out haunted places as part of dealing with his personal demons struck a cord with me.

I was not disappointed. While not long on plot, the pacing of the film was fast enough to keep me interested, and the twists, in general, kept me guessing. Yes, I did scream, duck and run in place at least 4 or 5 times during the film. Still, it was worth it.

When Does Life Begin?

Reposted here from the FTL forum.

Always, when discussing Abortion (as I have a few times) the question of whether an abortion is murder or not revolves around when life begins; after all, a civilization does not condone murder of the innocent and still remain a civilization in anything but name. So inevitably, the concerned individual asks these questions of himself. Does life begin at conception? (the typical religious answer) When the brain shows activity complex enough to signal consciousness? When the child is born? When the individual develops? (2 or 3 years of age) When does life begin?

How about the missing option? That life has no beginning point. Living tissues from the parents combine to make a living creature that grows in independence until one day it borrows the car keys and crashes the family car, moves out on it's own and doesn't call except when it needs something, and eventually confines you to an old-folks home. C'est la vie.

Well, if life doesn't have a hard and fast beginning point (as the argument usually evolves) when does interrupting the process of growth constitute muder? That is a tricky question. I think we can afford limited legal protection of the fetus sometime in the third trimester, because that is when limited consciousness occurs.

A parent who kills their own child under a certain age (2 or 3) should not be guilty of murder in the normal sense. Psychologically, they are killing a part of themselves, and this changes the crime from the normal homicide to something else. Sterilization of those types of people should be a punishment option. People who kill children should not have more children that they can then also abuse.

A person is entitled to be free from aggression against his or her life.

"Free from aggression" is a dangerous phrase. What about punishment? Time-out? Every method for modifying behavior at a parents disposal can and will be seen as aggression by the child. I know that you mean aggression in a life or death sense, but the best of intentions can be perverted to the worst of uses.

Children remain emotionally and mentally attached to their parents long past the point when they can realistically be called children. (I really hate it when people refer to 16-18 year olds as 'children'. They aren't. In the same sense, I know plenty of 20 year olds who don't deserve the label 'adult'. Hence the phrase...) Young adults should be able to declare themselves emancipated when they deem that the time has arrived. Until that point they remain tied to their parents in some form, and so cannot be "Free from aggression" in the normal child rearing sense.

Although you may argue that the woman has the right to rescind her consent to carry the baby, once the fetus has reached the level of consciousness required to qualify as a person, then the child’s rights must also be considered.

In a theoretical/legal sense, perhaps. Realistically, I have to fall back on the "How do you protect children from their own parents" point that always seems to get overlooked. Unless you are willing to separate parent and child forcefully, you really can't. Someone else mentioned an outreach program designed to intervene in late term unwanted pregnancy cases. A program designed to reimburse the mother-to-be for agreeing to carry the child to term and then adopt it out.

...That sounds like a good solution on the surface. I would still object to labeling a woman who had a late term abortion (or the doctor who performed it) a 'murderer'. There are plenty of medically valid reasons why a pregnancy cannot be carried full term; reasons that might not be detectable until late in the pregnancy. If you have to make a choice, better to save one life than loose both.

Who's a Libertarian?

A post I circulated during the mini-tempest concerning the speaker at the 2004 Libertarian convention. This was the beginning of my dissatisfaction with sharing air with Anarchists.

The tempest in a teapot concerning Boortz speaking at the National Conference isn't about Boortz; It isn't even about war vs. antiwar. If you go back and read all of T.L. Knapp's "Life of the Party" series, it becomes plainly clear that the issue goes much deeper than that. It's why the "Boot Boortz" camp have the audacity to suggest that those in agreement with Boortz should "...be shown the door".

The issue ladies and gentlemen is this: is gov't necessary or not? Does the structure we call gov't serve a legitimate function in a truly libertarian society; or is each individual capable of governing themselves sufficiently to render gov't as we know it useless? Let me explain why IMO, this is what is being argued about.

Libertarians don't agree on whether or not gov't should exist. On the one hand you have those who believe that gov't is not necessary, and they offer suggestions for it's eventual replacement by voluntary structures. Generally those that offer these types of arguments are known as 'anarchists'. On the other hand you have Objectivists, and others who believe that gov't serves a vital albiet limited function, and it should be maintained in some minimal fashion so as to preserve liberty. The label that has been generally applied to these types is 'minarchist'. Not everyone accepts the above labels, and the current LP membership includes views, like those of Constitutionalists, that don't fit in either camp.

The anarchist/minarchist schism has existed within the party nearly since it's inception. There have been various attempts to settle disputes between the factions, none of them very successful. The most successful was the "Dallas Accord" in which the libertarians of the time agreed that they would not discuss whether or not gov't was necessary, and focus on the more important issue of personal liberty. The agreement has worked until recently.

So, what's changed? 9/11, that is what has changed. The foriegn policy blunders that the federal gov't has committed for the last hundred years have come home to roost with a vengence. The 'terrorists' have declared war on us, and we are under threat. We are now faced with a situation that must be dealt with, and all of the effective options involve the use of gov't power. The problem is this: If you acknowledge that gov't has a reason to exist, then that reason will most likely include defensive measures designed to secure us from the agressive actions of others. No matter how you slice it, 9/11 comes under "attacks against the territory of the United States", and we have the obligation to make sure that any more threats of that type are dealt with, and the guilty parties that conspired to conduct the attacks are hunted down and exterminated.

To further extend the logic chain, one can extrapolate several strategic reasons for a large ground force in the area that the attackers called home (the Middle East) and the benefit of soundly defeating the 'biggest bully on the block'. Whether you agree with the strategy or not, it makes sense from a military standpoint... If you acknowledge that gov't has a reason to exist.

However, if you don't believe that gov't should exist, then any action of the gov't is damnable from the outset; and any action which benefits the gov't directly (such as a war) is the worst kind of evil imaginable, and therefore must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

...and that ladies and gentlemen is why the disagreement over Boortz speaking has taken on a life of it's own. He has had the audacity to apply logic to the situation and determine from his own perspective that the threat posed by the 'terrorists' is sufficient to require actions against other countries. ...and to further determine that the largest most vocal segment of the antiwar movement are also anti-american. To add insult to injury he speaks his mind about his beliefs to an audience of thousands, and categorizes himself a libertarian. As others have pointed out, on every other issue other than the war, Boortz is solidly libertarian. But because of this one issue, his belief that gov't has a reason to exist, he can't be a libertarian.

Now the anarchists are regretting ever 'letting' non-anarchists into their club; and some of them would like to institute a purity test so that the membership can be limited to those who profess correct beliefs. To hell with them. This is the reason why everyone who has an interest in furthering the LP NEEDS to go to the convention and actively participate in the sessions. The core of the party has been controlled by too few for too long. If we are going to succeed in changing the policies of the current gov't, we are going to have to include more people, and gain influence. You don't do that by kicking out those you disagree with.

For my part, I wouldn't mind if they asked Rush Limbaugh to speak at the convention; it might make for some interesting conversation. It doesn't even offend me when Bill Maher calls himself a 'libertarian'. He just makes himself look like a fool to those who know better. To take exception to Neal Boortz speaking at the convention is more than a waste of time; it is the equivalent of picking the scab off of a festering sore. It will only delay the time it takes for the underlying disagreements to recede into the background where they belong...


"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
- Charles Darwin

9-11 Truth & Pyromaniacs in the Reichstag

Stepping back from the previous posts on the subject of 9-11 (well, other than the rebuild 'em post, that is. The effort to get the twin towers rebuilt may or may not be going anywhere, but it remains the right thing to do) The latest alert from Downsize DC says it all:
Here is the truth, with a little "t," about 9-11: It was a day of massive government failure. No one in government, and no institution of the government, was held accountable, or paid any price, for this failure. The federal government, and the people who run it, were actually rewarded for their failure on 9-11, instead of being held accountable.
...And most importantly:
It makes zero sense that the Bush administration would have been capable of such a massive crime, but incapable, a few months later, of planting WMD's in Iraq. On this basis alone, most of the 9-11 conspiracy theories are non-starters.
read more | digg story

Which sums up the argument against the popular conspiracy theories quite nicely, while at the same time pointing out the governments possible/probable duplicity in allowing the attacks to occur in the first place.

Day of Deceit outlines, in various forms, how the Pearl Harbor attacks were allowed to occur despite several warning signs that should have been evident; and that the attacks were even desired and encouraged, leaving the pacific fleet out as bait for the attacks, while FDR and the Naval department put it's 8 point plan into action, luring the Japanese into committing the aggression so that we could enter the war with public support. Whether or not you buy into all of the claims in the book, these hard facts are beyond dispute.

Why then is it so hard to believe that something similar occurred on 9-11?

Which brings me to the film that I should have promoted when I instead blogged on the subject of Loose Change.

9-11 Press for Truth. I have yet to see the entire film, but if the trailer is truly an example of the film's content, then it's something I want to see, and most Americans need to see.

read more | digg story

This subject dovetails nicely with the latest offering from Dan Carlin. If Pearl Harbor lead the way for our entry into WWII, then 9-11 leads directly to Bush granting himself near dictatorial powers in the event of an emergency, as was discussed in Dan Carlin's podcast.

From WorldnetDaily:

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.
The "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive," with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.
That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for "National Essential Functions" of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president's directives in the event of a national emergency.
The directive loosely defines "catastrophic emergency" as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

Which means the sitting president can declare an emergency pretty much anytime he wants.

Don't hold your breath, because this isn't the end of the problem. The next terrorist attack is just around the corner (all the pundits agree on this fact) and the next terrorist attack will most likely result in the end of the US as we know it, although imperial Washington may continue stumbling along for quite some time afterwards.

At what point does freedom cease to exist? How long can we continue to insist that we are a 'free people', when every day some other limitation on our freedoms is established by a government that only "wants to keep us safe"?

Time to fall back on that other Franklin quote about Security and Freedom. I'm sure you've heard it.

I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  If you didn't come here from this post, you probably should go check that one out before drawing any conclusions. Resisting the urge to press delete on this entire post. The stupidity.  It hurts.