Sunday, March 29, 2009

America's Half-Blood Prince Review

I always enjoy Steve Sailer’s movie reviews in The American Conservative. Although some find his “reductionist” method of analyzing movies to be rather dull, I find it fascinating to deal with the topic of why things happen in movies the way that they do, and how an actor or director’s experiences and background affect the message they send. Certainly, a boring, confusing, or otherwise annoying movie can be made much more interesting in my opinion by describing why some of the annoying conventions exist, rather than simply looking at them as blemishes on the movie. In addition, this often allows Sailer to bring out facts about human nature and to connect everything to everything else, allowing for some beautiful explicatory analogies.

Another of Mr. Sailer’s talents is his mastery of the written deadpan snark. He will often shoot off a phrase in his blog that, when reading it, you can just hear the “aside” tone being used as he puts down some ridiculous pretension.

All of these things can be found in his recently published work, America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance”. In this book, he writes what is essentially an extended “Sailer-style” review of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.

What Sailer lays out in AHBP (as it is now commonly abbreviated), is the thesis that Barack Obama, far from being a uniting postracial figure like Tiger Woods, has actually spent much of his life worrying about being “authentically black.” Moreover, he seems to aspire to all of the traits that have made it difficult for many black politicians to rise to prominence outside of the black community, namely, a desire to take from whitey and give to the black community, a resentment of the white community, and a failure to seriously consider that any of the problems of the black community are self-inflicted.

What makes this book a good read is that it continuously references back to its original thesis, and it keeps on topic with the terse efficiency that teachers ask for most written essays. Reading AHBP, one does not get lost in a lot of irrelevant tangents, and the biographical backbone moves forward in time relentlessly, allowing one to see Obama as he develops.

Surprisingly to those who do not know Sailer, and unsurprisingly to those who do, Sailer shows little animosity toward Obama, despite a great deal of skepticism about his claims. Saile even acknowledges the possibility that Obama has mellowed over the years, although he also points out Obama’s tendency to shy away from being too explicit about his philosophy and its obvious implication: that Obama is not being entirely forthright with his Presidential campaign rhetoric. Moreover, Sailer does not blame Obama’s issues on his race itself, rather, as much as anything they are the products of his white, racially self-loathing hippy mother.

Sailer also manages to bring in a lot of issues about which he has previously discussed in his blog, in much the same way that person writing his final paper for a class will refer back to various individual lessons from the class. This effect beautifully demonstrates the relevance of various social facts with which his readers are familiar. These include: African “big man” syndrome, the effects of welfare, white “anti-racist” pretensions, the social implications of interracial relationships, and much, much more.

Finally, here are two quotes, one demonstrating Sailer’s his ability to use analogies, and the other his deadpan sarcasm.

“In contrast to John McCain, who is at his best shooting the breeze off the top of his head with the reporters privileged enough to travel on his campaign bus, but whose formal speeches are strained affairs, Obama’s strong suit is delivering carefully rewritten and rehearsed orations. Obama is Daniel Day‐Lewis, making one monumental film every few years, to McCain‘s Regis Philbin, winging it on TV daily for decades.”

“Of course, ever since he left community organizing in the slums of Chicago for Harvard Law School, Obama’s solution to his failing to solve racial challenges he has set himself has been to get himself promoted.”

This book is excellent. Everyone should buy a copy.

That is all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Three Chances to Help Improve Ballot Access!

Oklahoma, West Virginia, and North Carolina all have groups which are attempting to improve ballot access laws in those states. If you can donate, it would be appreciated. If you live in any of these states, please contact your legislators and ask them to support these bills. If you know anyone in those states you might try to call them and ask if they will call their legislators and encourage them to support these measures. Please spread the word.

From Ballot Access News:

(HB 1072 in Oklahoma)

As has been noted previously, the Oklahoma House recently passed HB 1072, which eases ballot access for previously unqualified parties in midterm years, but does not help them in presidential years. OBAR (Oklahoma Ballot Access Reform) has been paying a professional lobbyist $2,500 per month to advance and to improve this bill. The lobbyist has been paid through the end of March 2009. He is working on getting the bill amended in the Senate, so that it makes more significant improvements. Unfortunately, OBAR has exhausted its funds, and cannot pay for April work. Any contributions to OBAR will not be wasted, and will be used for his April work. Other organizations that assist ballot access, such as COFOE and Free & Equal, are likely to help. But if you wish to help, please send a check to OBAR, PO Box 14042, Tulsa Ok 74159-1042. Even small amounts are worthwhile and very much needed. UPDATE: COFOE has just voted to donate $500 for the April lobbyist bill.

If you are interested in donating to this effort, go here and print out the second page. You'll need to donate by mail by check.

(SB 731 in North Carolina)

On March 19, North Carolina Senator Jim Jacumin (R-Connelly Springs) introduced SB 731. It lowers the petition for a previously unqualified party from 2% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 10,000 signatures. It lowers the statewide independent petition from 2% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 5,000 signatures. It lowers the district independent petitions from 4% of the number of registered voters, to 3%. The Constitution Party of North Carolina deserves the credit for getting this bill introduced.

If you are interested in donating, then this is the website to go to.

(HB 2981 in West Virginia )

On March 18, a subcommittee of the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee passed HB 2981, the ballot access improvement bill. The bill is likely to get a hearing in the full Judiciary Committee next week or the week after. The bill moves the non-presidential petition deadline from May to August (so that it matches the presidential petition deadline), and lowers the number of signatures from 2% of the last vote cast, to 1%. West Virginia’s petitions were 1% before 1999, but the 1999 session of the legislature increased it to 2%.

If you are interested in donating, the Libertarian Party of West Virginia is working hard with Delegate Barbara Fleischauer to get the bill passed, and is accepting donations.

That is all.

Monday, March 16, 2009

H.B. 2981 for Easier Ballot Access in West Virginia

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer has proposed H.B. 2981 in West Virginia, a bill that will halve the requirements for a third-party/independent candidate to receive ballot access in that state.

I have been in contact with the West Virginia Libertarian Party, and they are working closely with Fleischauer to get it passed. If you want to support the bill, please donate (generously) to them (there's a donation button on their home page).

It would appear that the Constitution Party of West Virginia is also be lobbying for the bill, as Jeff Becker, who is their contact person, is pushing hard for it (see the first comment on the Ballot Access News article linked at the top of the post). Ths is not surprising, considering how much energy they put into the WV ballot access drive in 2007-2008.

However, I am not certain whether donations to the CPWV will help the lobbying effort or not. I'll tell you more when I know more.

That is all.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Same-Sex Marriage is not Conservative

A recent bit of nonsense from Andrew Sullivan:

If you decouple the notion of "family" from fundamentalist religion, same-sex marriage is revealed as the socially conservative reform it actually is. Wouldn't it be amazing if China got there first?

TranslationL: If you decouple the notion of "family" from conservative, traditional norms, then you can see that modernizing and liberalizing the definition is actually conservative!

I suppose that there are two ways to see this. First, Sullivan thinks that marriage is a traditional, or conservative, institution. Therefore, to expand the institution is to expand conservatism, however much expanding the institution may actually dilute its traditional meaning and thus damage rather than actually expand the institution itself.

Second, Andrew could be basically saying that anythign short of promiscuous bathhouse sex is conservative.

Either way, he is "defining liberalism down," attempting to make liberal ideas appear conservative and shifting the Overton window farther left.

He is not a good conservative.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Neuroscience, Andrew Sullivan and the "Christianists"

I don't think that advances in neuroscience are as threatening to the idea of the human soul as the materialists think they are. After all, even if there is a material aspect to our consciousness, it does not negate the possiblity of an additional amaterial dimension (I think that an analogy to the Trinity can be made here). In fact, I would argue that tactual subjective consciousness requires a material dimension.

Why? Because to have actual consciousness requires identity. And if consciousness is a purely material process, it is simply fungible information, without an identity.

It's like the old question, when Captain Kirk teleports, is he being transported, or is he killed and replaced with an exact copy? When "transhumanists" talk about downloading a person's consciousness into machines, are they really moving his consciousness, or are they killing him and creating a copy? If they can copy his consciousness into a computer without erasing it from his head, then how is "downloading" his consciousness any different from copying it and then killing him.

Take this a step further, and the question becomes, what keeps us us when all of our bodies' materials are constantly being removed and replaced? How can we have continuous consciousness, as opposed to having instantaneous consciosness that is constantly being destroyed and replaced by an exact copy? There has to be some source of identity that keeps us us, unless you are going to argue that consciousness and the self are purely an illusion (which is what some argue).

In any case, it seems to me that consciousness can have an amaterial (even a supernatural) element and still express itself materially and have its amaterial experience affected by the material world (after all, how is infiltrating one's brain with a psychiatric drug different in principle from experiencing material phenomena such as touch and sight? If the existence of senses that see the material world does not logically require one to be a materialist, why should the fact that we can alter our perceptions more directly through chemical stimulation of neurons?)

That being said, Andrew Sullivan's piece on "Neuroscience And The Christianists" seems to quote approvingly the idea that we are nothing but matter, with no attempt whatsoever to qualify that.

The obvious implication is that to believe in a soul is "Christianist" rather than Christian.

Althogether, one starts to wonder what exactly does the non-"Christianist" Christianity in which Andrew Sullivan wishes for Christians to believe consist of?

That is all.

Why Oh Why?

Racist police are apparently also sexist, because they kill a lot more black men than black women.

Exactly why this is is a mystery, but I think it is safe to say that it has nothing to do with the fact that black men are far more likely to be dangerous in a police confrontation involving the use of deadly force than black women (this is true of men vs. women generally). Obviously, they are just racist-sexist jerks who hate black men.

That is all.