Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Rusty Nails, 2/2/05…

From Bush' speech tonight,
Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.
Heh. ########## Do you know what this is a picture of? It’s a 6 ½ week old fetus… well, it’s a 6 ½ week, plus 16 months, old fetus. The fetus, strangely enough, has a mother who has named her (yes, the fetus’ gender can be identified) Elora. Per the NY Times, Church Groups Turn to Sonogram to Turn Women From Abortions, Elora’s mother Andrea called on the Bowie Crofton Pregnancy Center and Medical Clinic to seek out an abortion 16 months ago. She was told that the clinic did not perform abortions but that she could come in for an ultrasound. She did. Andrea says, “When I had the sonogram and heard the heartbeat - and for me a heartbeat symbolizes life - after that there was no way I could do it.” Interestingly enough, representatives from Planned Parenthood have something to say about clinics such as the Bowie Crofton Pregnancy Center and Medical Clinic. From the article,
"Generally, their treatment of women who come in is coercive," said Susanne Martinez, vice president of public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "From the time they walk in to these centers, they are inundated with information that is propaganda and that has one goal in mind. And that is to have women continue with their pregnancies." (emphasis added)
Imagine that - the audacity of wanting women to continue with their pregnancies. Pro-Choice philosophy at its finest. HT: Laura Ingraham ########## Bill Wallo has additional thoughts on the aspect of sensual worship in his post More Love. He also plugs my photo-blog Imago Articulus here. ########## More on the topic of neo-Darwinism hijacking design arguments: Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. - Richard Dawkins; Ward & Brownlee discussing, in Rare Earth, the complexity difference between building a toyboat and an ocean liner (as compared to life); using nails, bolts, and screws to mimic how species are classified through a cladogram ( Cladistics is a way of sorting organisms based on characteristics that were derived from a common ancestor.); etc., etc., etc. ########## Recently, we and others have identified two human endogenous retroviruses that entered the primate lineage 25–40 million years ago and that encode highly fusogenic retroviral envelope proteins (syncytin-1 and -2), possibly involved in the formation of the placenta syncytiotrophoblast layer generated by trophoblast cell fusion at the materno–fetal interface. (emphasis added) Huh? Endogenous Retroviruses (ERVs) are considered by neo-Darwinists to be strong evidence for common descent. Their “junk” status, as well as a commonality between related species (e.g., chimps and humans), renders the argument that chimps and humans once shared a common ancestor. However, there are some creationists arguing that the so-called junk-DNA sequences are not so junky after all. Scholars at Reasons to Believe posit that junk-DNA sequences really do have function, and continued research is proving them right. The study referenced above notes that there were two human ERVs that entered into the primate lineage at the same time and currently perform the same function. The abstract concludes with,
Together, these data strongly argue for a critical role of syncytin-A and -B in murine syncytiotrophoblast formation, thus unraveling a rather unique situation where two pairs of endogenous retroviruses, independently acquired by the primate and rodent lineages, would have been positively selected for a convergent physiological role. (emphasis added)
The neo-Darwinist is currently left with explaining away how two ERVs evolved independently, within the placental arena, to produce the same function (not junk) that we see today. This is known as convergent evolution and the neo-Darwinist typically responds to it not by trying to explain it, but by simply stating, “Wow! What a coincidence!” Listen to a report at RTB (about 30 minutes into the show)


Paul said...

On the quote from Bush's speech. We should set aside the fact that he had people out after his inauguration speech explaining that when he said we would oppose dictatorships, he didn't mean that we would oppose *all* dictatorships, just, you know, the particularly dictatorial ones. Instead we should think about the fact that he lied in his speech last night:

"Our society has changed in ways the founders of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today's world, people are living longer and therefore drawing benefits longer - and those benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades."

Yet the founders of Social Security foresaw *exactly* that. They predicted that by 1990 12.65% of Americans would be over 65. The figure turned out to be 12.49%, so if anything they were overly cautious in the foreseeing.

Of course, he could just have been lying about that part, not the important stuff like defending marriage against people who love each other the wrong way.


Rusty said...

Hi Paul,

What do dictatorships have to do with a marriage amendment?

Interesting link (and posts) but someone is really scraping the bottom of the barrel to equate Bush' general statement regarding SS founder's knowledge of our current, real, SS crisis with a cherry-picked stat of an estimate they made re: the % of population that would be over 65 in 1990. What about the estimated population of the U.S. in 1990? the inflation rate? the cost of medical care? the life expectancy? retirement costs? income tax rates? average incomes? C'mon. Provide that data and then maybe we can address whether or not Bush "lied."

Besides... what does any of that have to do with my post?

Paul said...

My reason for including it was to demonstrate not necessarily that Bush lies (though he clearly does), but that he is very comfortable with saying things that are either lies or meaningless, depending on how carefully you parse them.

I can't find an estimate of the population in 1990 from 1934. But population growth was slower after 1934 than it was before then, so I'm guessing that today's population wouldn't be unexpected. Inflation has been wildly variable since 1934, just as it was before 1934. As to the rest of the data you mention - I'm positive that even if I could find the predictions from that time some of them would be wrong, and knowing predictions all of them would have been. But the point is that Bush said these things could not have been foreseen, when clearly they could.

So we have two choices: One is that he's lying to make a political point. The other is that he threw in a statement that doesn't actually mean anything (of course society has changed in ways that couldn't be foreseen - who would have thought of the Playstation in '34, or the Jetstream, or Viagra spam? That has nothing to do with Social Security, or their ability to plan for it.

Given that propensity, then, the fact that he supports a marriage amendment to suppress the acceptibility of homosexuality, at the same time he's talking about freedom (21 times) and liberty (8 times) is neither contradictory in his mind, nor in any sense binding.

Incidentally, I didn't say dictatorships have anything to do with marriage amendments. Unless perhaps you were actually asking a question - so, I don't know, what *do* dictatorships have to do with marriage amendments?

Rusty said...

To claim that the statement Our society has changed in ways the founders of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today's world, people are living longer and therefore drawing benefits longer - and those benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades. is a lie, because an estimate of the percentage of Americans over 65 in 1990 was correct, borders on the ridiculous. Does anyone in their right mind really believe that the founders of Social Security would have rightly foreseen what America would be like in 2005? Does anyone really believe that the founders would have even attempted to do so? Is it really so difficult to simply say, "yes, our situation today is very different from that of 1935"? Can't you see that that was the point of the statement? That Social Security needs to be reformed?

But that's really the issue isn't it? Not whether Bush lied about some obscure fact (that he didn't even refer to), but whether the Dems want Social Security messed with. Professor Bainbridge quotes Bob Kerry as saying, The late Pat Moynihan used to joke when I asked him why liberals were so reluctant to consider changing Social Security so that it guaranteed wealth as well as income: "It's because they worry that wealth will turn Democrats into Republicans."You said, Given that propensity, then, the fact that he supports a marriage amendment to suppress the acceptibility of homosexuality, at the same time he's talking about freedom (21 times) and liberty (8 times) is neither contradictory in his mind, nor in any sense binding.

Your premise is false. The purpose of a marriage amendment is to protect the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. To posit that it would somehow suppress the acceptance of homosexuality would be to ignore virtually every aspect of our culture at large. Homosexuality is already accepted by our culture... what the same-sex marriage proponents want is not acceptance, but respect. And they're not afraid to have it imposed by judicial activism.

So much for the idea of tolerance.

I asked what dictatorships had to do with marriage because you posted a comment on dicatatorships (when my post was on marriage).

Paul said...

The point is that they did expect it to be like this - not in every detail, or even in any specific detail (though they were pretty good on the population forecast) - but they expected more people, living longer. Saying they couldn't have foreseen it doesn't make it true, however much you might like.

I was highlighting the dictatorship thing because Bush is telling lies, and one of them he *may* be telling is that he supports the marriage amendment, when in fact he's not really bothered (as a president that is; he may care deeply as an individual).

I understand that you think marriage is sacred between a man and a woman. Perhaps surprisingly I don't particularly disagree with you - I don't think government has any business interfering with marriage at all, and should withdraw the countless benefits given to married people. But while it is in the business, and interested in freedom and liberty, then it should be liberty for all.

Rusty said...


I still think it's a big stretch to claim the line from Bush's SOTU speech regarding the founders of SS was a "lie."

I understand you're attempting to connect other so-called lies from Bush with this so-called one on SS. It's an easy tactic to use (I must admit that I used it quite a bit back when Slick Willie was in charge). But you must realize that it only appeals to a form of guilt by association.

There are some (Robert George, The Clash of Orthodoxies) who would argue that the role of government includes giving marriage "special treatment" precisely because of the role marriage plays in producing and maintaining families, which are the bulwark of strong societies. One comment on the "liberty" for all aspect, though... as I've stated, gay couples already enjoy virtually the same benefits as married couples do - they aren't after the benefits, they're after the "respect" (forced, though it may be).

Paul said...

You're right, highlighting Bush's lies in one area of the speech, let alone a pretty insubstantial one, is a pretty cheap trick. It's a documented fact that Bush lies, but then so did Clinton, so I guess that's just what we get in moden politics.

I do object to the idea that homosexual couples enjoy the same benefits as 'conventional' ones - there are something like 1,000 additional benefits that being married gives you, some of them fundamental aspects of personal dignity. I agree that the respect angle may be the most important one, but the practical benefits are hardly negligible.

Rusty said...


Please list some of the 1,000 additional benefits that married couples have over gay couples.

Paul said...

Well, you can download the full list, as prepared by the government's General Accounting Office, from:
But here's one or two to start you off:

Right of access to partner in hospital
Tax-free transfer of funds between partners
Eligibility for assorted educational grants/programs
Eligibility for Medicare and other programs based on partner's status
Immigration right to bring foreign-born partner to US

Rusty said...


Some items listed in the referenced PDF seem to be redundant. So simply stating that there are 1,000+ benefits by having marital status could be misleading. Also, I didn’t see any reference to the aspect of increased tax liability of marital status.

Aren’t many, if not all, of these issues dealt with in already enacted “domestic partner” arrangements? If benefits are the real issue, and I don’t think that benefits are truly the issue at hand, then why not simply push for legislation that enacts domestic partner benefits?

Paul said...

I'm not in a position to defend the report - I'm sure there are some things listed separately that are really two aspects of the same thing. It's still going to be an impressive list. And the 'marriage penalty' does deserve mention, every bit as much as all the other loopholes in the tax code that penalize one group at the expense of another.

Technically I think some of the benefits can be arranged civilly, though for many thousands of dollars. Most, I believe, cannot, principally because they depend on the government that doesn't recognize the need for such an arrangement (kind of a vicious circle).

But I agree, benefits aren't that important in the big scheme of things (though in the not-to-be-wished-for event that your or my spouse ends up seriously ill in hospital, I think we might both rethink that). The real issue I think is the respect, and the denial of mariage rights seems aimed specifically at denying that respect. Tradition isn't a good enough reason on its own for me (traditionally we let poor people starve to death, for example) The often misquoted studies from Scandinavia show that same-sex marriage works broadly on a par with 'normal' marriage. So the only other objection left is religious.

Again, I have no problem with having a form of marriage reserved for religious people (technically perhaps it should be several different forms of marriage, one per religion). Alongside that we should have a civil marriage, with all the same benefits as the religious one (ideally few or none). If you're not religious it would also have the same degree of respect as the religious form, whereas if you're not it would presumably be an object of contempt (or pity, or sadness, depending on your religious viewpoint). And of course, my marriage would fall in the latter category, because I don't believe that I'm entitled to more respect than a homosexual just because I can get married.

Rusty said...

I would wager that the only type of tax that would not “penalize one group at the expense of another” is a 0% tax.

You list the 1,000+ benefits by being married but then concede the SSM issue is really about respect? So, why bring up the benefits issue at all then? Is it because if the benefits issue was addressed through domestic partnership arrangements, then the SSM issue would be moot?

The issue isn’t limited to that of being a religious objection. Historically, mankind has viewed marriage as between male and female, regardless of the society’s religious persuasions. And I don’t believe that married heterosexuals are entitled to more respect than homosexuals any more than two heterosexuals living together do. It isn’t an issue about getting more respect but, rather, the respect due to the essence of what marriage is. What the SSM issue is about is an attempt to hijack the very essence of marriage and apply it to areas it does not belong. And the reason for this attack is that SSM proponents believe that in getting the blessing of the State, they then will be better able to mandate acceptance of their behavior. If this were not so, then you would see a greater effort for domestic partner arrangements, than that of SSM.

In attempting to redefine what marriage has always been known to be, SSM proponents have left the door open as to what marriage could be defined as. If it is based on benefits and / or loving relationships alone, there is no logical reason to prevent “marriages” between one man, two women, and one man; one man and three men; one man and one 16 year old boy; two women and one man; one woman alone; or virtually any other arrangement you wish to come up with.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul said...

Actually *you* raised the benefits issue when you said "gay couples already enjoy virtually the same benefits as married couples do". I was just pointing out that, as a matter of fact, that statement is wrong. I do think benefits are important, but mainly because they are indicative of the respect denied to gay couples.

Historically marriage has been between men and women, though historically the number of participants has been negotiable depending on your particular religion or culture. Historically women have also been second-class citizens, children have been small adults raised as long-term disability insurance for parents, and killing people for minor offenses has been routine. I don't hold what has been done historically as a great guide to what we should do now, and I would have thought that you wouldn't either (historically Christianity is wrong, because most people haven't believed it).

There is a substantive difference between gay or straight marriage and the other objectionable possibilities that are commonly raised, which is that of informed consent. Non-humans aren't capable of giving informed consent, and neither are children. Marriage involving more than two people *is* amenable to informed consent (though I think it's a pretty complicated issue), which is in part why historically it has been and continues to be so common.

(edited because I messed up an important word!)

Rusty said...


Yes I raised the benefits issue after you alluded to some lack of liberty for SSM. It should be clear that there is no real lack of liberty or benefits... the issue is forced "respect" by hijacking the institution of marriage.

Marriage is defined as between male and female throughout history. Women have not been *defined* as second class citizens throughout history (read the writings of St. Paul). The issue isn't to do what's been done throughout history but to understand that a concept exists within a set of boundaries for a reason.

How does informed consent now enter the mix? I thought it was a loving relationship? Are you going to impose informed consent on what someone else considers a loving relationship? If you prevent a black and a white from marrying you're a racist... SSM, and you're a homophobe... well, between species and you must be guilty of speciesism! (where's Peter Singer?) If a 16 year old can consent, why not a 15 year old? Isn't that teacher Letourneau marrying the kid she slept with when he was something like 13? Consent? Sure sounds like it.

The problem with redefining marriage is that the word will end up losing any coherent meaning whatsoever.

BTW, why argue this at all if there is no right and wrong?

Paul said...

How can you say that? The GAO says there are over 1,000 benefits accorded married couples but not gay couples. Even if it were half that number it would still be ridiculous to class this as "there is no real lack of liberty or benefits." It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of absolute fact.

Nonetheless, I still think the more important thing is the respect. Women weren't accorded respect, whatever St Paul might have said, as is clear from the 2,000 years of history since (and however long beforehand). Sure there might have been talk about respect, and a convenient kind of respect paid "I respect her ability to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen", but taken as a whole it was clearly not respect. A similar concept is playing out for gay couples - we 'respect' your right to a relationship, but you're not like us and should be kept in your place.

Finally about the consent thing. I didn't say 'consent', I said 'informed consent'. A dog can't give informed consent. A child can't, and we create some arbitrary line for convenience that says they can at 16 (or 18, or 14) - not a perfect system, but one that is workable. Three (or more) people could conceivably give informed consent, which is in part why polygamy has been relatively common. And two adults, of whatever combination of genders, certainly can.

I'm sorry, I didn't understand your last line about right/wrong.