Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dr. Helen, Malkin, GOP Get It Wrong on "Going John Galt"

I noticed a post recently at No Silence Here on the rather dubious and sadly empty-headed Defeated Conservative Conference - I mean the CPAC - where MIchelle Malkin and Dr. Helen called for their faithful followers to adopt a new catchphrase taken from character named John Galt in an Ayn Rand book called "Atlas Shrugged" published in 1957. Until recently, it was best known for prompting this review from writer Dorothy Parker: "This book should not be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force".

The CPAC panel's collective misunderstanding of so many topics and especially of the character of John Galt was staggering and rather typically shrill.

Hilzoy lays out their failure to understand the character and has links to the video as well posted at Washington Monthly today:

Dr. Helen has put up a video about 'Going John Galt' on PJTV, in which she interviews three people who claim to be Going Galt. (To see the relevant bit, follow the link, click the arrow to the right of the blue segment bar just below the video, and click on 'People Who Are Going John Galt'.) What's odd is that the people Dr. Helen interviews don't really seem to understand what 'Going Galt' means. Two of the people Dr. Helen interviews are trying to reduce their taxable income, and the third is trying to "follow Ayn Rand's morality as much as I can, and spread her philosophy as far as I can."

That's not what Rand meant by Going Galt at all. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt decides to withdraw his creative and productive efforts from society. He is going on strike, and he convinces other creative, productive people to follow him. Here's what happens when someone Goes Galt in Rand's novel:

"He's quit! Gone! Gone like all the others! Left his mills, his bank accounts, his property, everything! Just vanished! Took some clothing and whatever he had in the safe in his apartment -- they found a safe left open in his bedroom, open and empty -- that's all! No word, no note, no explanation! They called me from Washington, but it's all over town! The news, I mean, the story! They can't keep it quiet! They've tried to, but...Nobody knows how it got out, but it went through the mills like one of those furnace break-outs, the word that he'd gone, and then...before anyone could stop it, a whole bunch of them vanished! The superintendent, the chief metallurgist, the chief engineer, Rearden's secretary, even the bastards! Deserting us, in spite of all the penalties we've set up! He's quit and the rest are quitting and those mills are just left there, standing still! Do you understand what that means?"

Rearden and his associates will not be paying a lot of taxes now that they've left. But that's not the point. Withdrawing their creative efforts is. In Rand's novel, it is they who keep the mills running, and without them, everything grinds to a halt and the world is plunged into crisis.

None of the people Dr. Helen interviews is actually Going Galt. More to the point, neither is Dr. Helen. She claims to be "mulling over ways that she can "go Galt". Allow me to help her out (along with Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, et al.) To Go Galt, she should:

(a) Identify those things that she does that are genuinely creative and productive. If there aren't any, then the fact that it will be difficult for her to Go Galt is the least of her problems.

(b) Refuse to do those things in any way that allows society at large, as opposed to a small circle of like-minded individualists, to benefit from them.

It really is that simple. If she and the other bloggers who are calling on people to "Go Galt" don't do this, the only explanations are that they don't have the guts to do what they are encouraging others to do, or that they recognize that nothing they do counts as creative or productive, or that they just aren't thinking about what they write.

They might respond by saying: we are doing something genuinely useful by making the case that people ought to Go Galt. So long as we are doing that, we can't Go Galt! But while this accords with Ayn Rand's actual practice, it does not accord with her views as expressed in Atlas Shrugged. John Galt did not need to go on the air to make his point. He made his case in private, to creative and productive people like himself. They went on strike, and as a result the world was plunged into crisis.

That's not a minor point. It's essential to Rand's entire view. Here's why Galt says that he decided to withdraw:

"Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality -- and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that evil was impotent-that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real -- and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it. Just as the parasites around me were proclaiming their helpless dependence on my mind and were expecting me voluntarily to accept a slavery they had no power to enforce, just as they were counting on my self-immolation to provide them with the means of their plan -- so throughout the world and throughout men's history, in every version and form, from the extortions of loafing relatives to the atrocities of collective countries, it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers, who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and for their own values -- the impotence of death. I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win -- and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was 'No.'"

By withdrawing, Galt was, essentially, testing this view. If he was right to think that an inverted morality could triumph only with his sanction, and that the parasites around him were helplessly dependent on his mind, and could survive only with the aid of his self-immolation, then once he and others like him withdrew, that fact would become clear. If not, not.

If Dr. Helen, Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of the bloggers who are talking up the idea of Going Galt had the courage of their convictions, they would make the same experiment. If they don't, it's worth asking why not.

As I said above, the three most obvious answers are: (1) they do not believe that anything they do is in fact creative or productive, or (2) they are urging other people to do something they don't have the guts to do themselves, like scam artists who convince people to invest their money in schemes they themselves steer clear of, or (3) they have not bothered to think about what they are saying, even to the limited extent required to see that there's a conflict between their words and their actions.

In a review of the book from the National Review from 1957 by Whittaker Chambers, he writes this book espouses class war in a purely political novel, and adds:

"Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why Not Just Require A State License For Sexual Activity?

As the state of Tennessee ponders passage of a whole slew of laws removing/altering women's rights and their ability to decide on whether to be a mother or not, it seems that what they are really seeking is a Sexually Activity License.

Liberadio(!) has been tracking the list of legislation (her full post follows and I hope like me, you do contact by phone or email the list of representatives included):

Wednesday, March 11, at 3:00 pm, in room 16 of Legislative Plaza, the conversation will continue at a Public Hearing [pdf] in front of House Health and Human Resources Committee. Please consider attending the hearing so you can both stand against the most cynical of legislators and their divisive bills and support women’s reproductive health advocates.

The bills to be discussed are as follows:

HJR 0061 JUDICIARY: Constitution - right to abortion. Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion except in cases involving rape, incest, or health of the mother. (H: Fincher)

HJR 0066 JUDICIARY: Constitution - right to abortion. Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. (H: Maggart)

HJR 0088 JUDICIARY: Constitutional amendment - right to or funding of abortion. Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects the right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. Gives the legislature the authority to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother. (H: Curtiss)

HJR 0132 HEALTH CARE: Constitutional amendment - vasectomy rights of married men. Adds new provision to Article I of the state constitution to provide that nothing in the constitution secures or protects right to a vasectomy. (H: Camper)

HB0025 - FAMILY LAW: Paternity testing for birth certificates. Requires paternity testing before a father can be listed on a birth certificate. Requires department of human services to pay the costs of the paternity tests for parties who are financially unable to pay. Broadly captioned. (S: Jackson; H: Hardaway)

HB0436 - HEALTH CARE: Standards for ambulatory surgical treatment centers. Requires that any physician’s office that performs abortions be classified as an as ambulatory surgical treatment centers. Requires the department of health, through the board for licensing health care facilities, to promulgate rules and regulations that contain certain minimum standards for the maintenance and operation of ambulatory surgical treatment centers. (S: Beavers; H: Shipley)

HB0445 - CRIMINAL LAW: Informed consent for abortions. Requires that the informed written consent of the woman be obtained prior to an abortion, providing for 24-hour period of reflection after the woman receives the information needed for an informed consent. Establishes requirements for a physician or other health care professional to follow in order to obtain informed consent from the woman. Establishes an exception to informed consent and waiting period requirements when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman. (S: Herron; H: Maddox)

HB0638 - FAMILY LAW: Viable human fetus as victim of child abuse. Revised definition of “child” to include a viable fetus of a human being for purposes of child abuse and aggravated child abuse offenses. (S: Burchett; H: Maggart)

HB0807 - HEALTH CARE: Stillborn deaths to be placed in vital records. Requires each fetal death, 500 or more grams or 22 or more completed weeks of gestation, to be placed in vital records. Gives parents the option of naming the stillborn child on such records. (S: Bunch; H: Campfield)

HB0819 - HEALTH CARE: Death certificate to be issued for abortions. Requires a death certificate to be filed with the office of vital records for each abortion performed in the state. Requires death certificate to state that the fetal death was due to an abortion. (S: Bunch; H: Campfield)

HB0862 - FAMILY LAW: Inception of human life. Defines “inception of human life” to mean the moment of human conception. (S: Gresham; H: Mumpower)

HB2106 - FAMILY LAW: Tennessee Pregnant Women Support Act. Authorizes the department of health to apply for federal grants to fund the collection of data regarding the number of abortions performed in this state, the characteristics of those seeking abortions, the reasons why women choose abortion, or any other information applicable to supporting pregnant women in this state who may be seeking an abortion. Requires the department of health to create a hotline as well as pamphlets for doctors’ offices to provide interested women with information about public and private health care services available to women during and after the birth of a child. (S: Herron; H: Fincher)

HB1756 - FAMILY LAW: Disposition of Family Planning Funds. As introduced, establishes a new methodology for disposition of family planning funds that disburses funds to public women’s health services programs before other providers are funded. - Amends TCA Section 68-34-105. (S: Johnson; H: Hensley)

Any legislation, including SJR127, HJR61 and HJR66, which attempts to begin the process of amending the State Constitution would be doing so in historical violation of the document’s purpose to expand rights, not take them away.

In addition, there are already a number of Tennessee laws which already regulate abortion, including parental consent, a ban on late-term abortions and patient informed consent. You can read about the effects of these laws in an open letter to Rep. Debra Maggart that was written by one broken-hearted Tennessee woman.

And, as I stated earlier, with the number of abortions in Tennessee is declining the focus of our legislature should be on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies by providing education and resources.

Before 3:00 PM tomorrow, please contact by phone or email each committee member. This is especially important if your representative is on the committee. You can find out who your Rep is at the Capitol website. Don’t forget to put your zip code in the subject line of your email.

Chair and Vice Chair of the House Health and Human Resources Committee:
Rep. Joe Armstrong
Rep. Joey Hensley

Members of the House Health and Human Resources Committee:
Rep. Curt Cobb,
Rep. Jim Cobb,
Rep. Charles Curtiss,
Rep. Vince Dean,
Rep. John DeBerry,
Rep. Lois DeBerry,
Rep. Vance Dennis,
Rep. Joshua Evans,
Rep.Dennis Ferguson,
Rep. Dale Ford,
Rep. Curtis.Halford,
Rep. Sherry.Jones,
Rep. Debra.Maggart,
Rep. Jason.Mumpower,
Rep. Gary Odom,
Rep. Mary Pruitt,
Rep. Bob Ramsey,
Rep.Barrett Rich,
Rep. Jeanne Richardson,
Rep. David Shepard,

And at Tiny Cat Pants, Aunt B, minces no words in pointing out that some proponents of legislation seeking to outlaw abortions has no idea what medical procedures even take place between a physician and a patient.

I write to you out of such deep despair I don’t even know where to start. I read Jeff Woods’s post an hour ago and I’m still so angry I’m shaking.

I’ll just quote:

Q: What else?

Fowler: There are other things we could do as well if this resolution passes that we probably could not do under Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist. For example, many states now are requiring doctors to inform women that they’ve performed an ultrasound and that they have the right to see that ultrasound. Many women think it’s just a blog [sic]of cells or tissues. But literally within eight days, I think you can notice the heartbeat on the sonogram and when they begin to understand the truth about what is inside their body, they recognize it as a human being and a child. That kind of law probably would not be constitutional under Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist.

Women of Tennessee, I don’t care where you stand on the abortion issue. I just want you to read that and see it for what it is. Fowler CANNOT EVEN BOTHER TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN A WOMAN AND HER DOCTOR BUT HE THINKS HE SHOULD GET TO SET THE LAWS TO GOVERN IT. Just let that evil sink in. He cannot even bother to get his facts straight, he can’t be bothered to learn about what you might go through if you have an abortion, he can just make shit THAT IS PLAINLY NOT TRUE. Just demonstrably false. LIES, lies, lies.

He can just lie, plain and bald-faced and make shit up and not even be bothered to learn about what you might go through when you go to the gynecologist and he and his buddies are going to win.

He doesn’t even give enough of a shit about you to bother to learn what you go through and he’s going to get laws that affect you passed. He can’t even be bothered to learn basic science, and he gets to govern your body.

Let’s start with the “requiring doctors to inform women that they’ve performed an ultrasound.” Most women have abortions in the first trimester. In order to perform the abortion, her doctor does an ultrasound, at the least, to determine the age of the fetus. In the first trimester, the fetus is so tiny that it cannot be seen using an abdominal ultrasound. As you know, the doctor will therefore almost always perform a vaginal ultrasound on you. There is no way you won’t know that they’re performing the ultrasound. But Fowler doesn’t know that. He’s apparently gotten his information on how doctors work from television, so you’re going to be ruled by laws set by a guy who doesn’t know basic gynecological procedures.

He can’t bother to learn that there’s not a heartbeat until 21 days after conception. So, he just makes up 8 days, because he’s too lazy to learn the truth and anyway, he’s too busy protecting us stupid, stupid cows from ourselves.

And that’s what burns me. He thinks that, if we only had more knowledge–the very knowledge HE CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO EVEN FUCKING ACQUIRE–we wouldn’t have abortions.

But it’s beneath him to worry about the details or the truth of what he wants to force us to know.

And yet, he’s going to get his way. He’s a lazy, condescending liar who can’t even be bothered to learn about the stuff he wants to force on women and he’s going to win.

God damn, that burns me. It insults me so deeply that some man–who will never be faced with this decision and who can’t even bother to learn enough about it to get his facts straight–is going to make the laws we have to live by. Damn it’s insulting to the core.

But then, let’s look at the second half of the problem. There’s not a woman in this state who hasn’t been through one kind of gynecological problem or another, even if she’s never had nor would ever have an abortion, who would hear what Fowler says and not say to herself–”But wouldn’t they have to do a vaginal ultrasound? Um, of course they would. And wouldn’t a doctor already tell her what she’s doing and why? And wouldn’t a woman notice that?”

It’s not Jeff Woods’s fault that he’s not a woman. And it’s not his fault that he didn’t know, so it didn’t sound funny to him. But he’s who Fowler’s sitting down with to spew this bullshit. And he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know to be able to press Fowler about it.

And what do you do in the face of that?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dropping Pencils Brings School Suspension

Some students at Indian Trail Middle School in Johnson City took part in a "prank" by agreeing to dropping their pencils onto the floor at a specific time. The students were then subject to a mass In School Suspension. No parents were notified by the suspension, according to one parent.

School officials deemed this horrific pencil drop act as a coordinated assault on education, saying it violated the school's top policy to maintain order, none shall - "interrupt the educational process". Students involved all had their cell phones confiscated so officials could examine each one to see if text messages were sent to students so they could all enact their nefarious deed to drop pencils at one specific time.

Fortunately, no criminal charges were filed against these students, however one parent says her child was told by a school police officer that: "they could be charged with disorderly conduct." Perhaps that is because the students all laughed out loud when the pencils fell to the ground.

Synchronized pencil dropping must be the first step to starting a meth lab in the school bathroom and that of course is just another short step to becoming heroin dealers.