She doesn’t know the difference between carnivore and omnivore.

From various sources, I’d seen this article on Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, titled “The 247 lb. Vegan”. Now that I’ve read it, one fact is clear: Tony Gonzalez is not a vegan. I’m not sure that he specifically calls himself a vegan now, although the article makes clear that he has in the past. But the presence of meat in his diet demonstrates that he is an omnivore, however limited his consumption of animal products may be.

Contrary to what some want to believe, I don’t care. So we “lost” one. I don’t judge the worth of my veganism on its popular acceptance. Having celebrities among our numbers is momentarily fascinating but ultimately irrelevant. Save the glee over Tony Gonzalez.

And the excuses for meat. From Debbie Schlussel:

Lots of vegan, vegetarian, and animal rights sites around the Net are buzzing about today’s Wall Street Journal feature, “The 247 Lb. Vegan*”. They’re claiming that this article, about the diet of 247 lb. Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Tony Gonzalez, proves that an animal products-free diet is sustainable for anyone regardless of the lifestyle, physique, or profession.

But it’s a lie. There’s a reason there is an asterisk in the title of the article. Gonzalez’s diet includes 1,120 calories of broiled salmon for dinner. …

Ooooooh, we are so busted. Or as Schlussel points out with the title of her entry:

Weekend Read: Can a 247 lb. NFL Lineman Be a Vegan?
(Subtitle: Vegans Are Lying)

Presumably she’s referring to the “lots of vegan, vegetarian, and animal rights sites around the Net” that are “buzzing” about the article’s claim. Strangely, she doesn’t link to a single site – vegan, vegetarian, animal rights, or otherwise – that discusses this article. She merely makes her unsupported statement, excerpts a bit from the article from one expert about the non-viability of a vegan diet for an elite athlete, and offers a “suck it” to vegans because we’re allegedly too stupid to realize that chicken is meat and fish oil is an animal-based product. They are? For real? Wow, I learn something new every day.

Allow me to demonstrate a little logic and honesty by going one step further. In the video associated with the article, Mr. Gonzalez makes a smoothie. He states (at 3:08):

You put, uh, your rice milk on there. Or almond milk or, or regular milk.

I think he means cow’s milk, which is not vegan. There is your definitive proof that I lie about my diet. Tony Gonzalez calls himself a vegan, but he eats meat and maybe milk. I call myself a vegan because I don’t eat meat or milk. The label matters; the action does not. We are both lying.

I’m not surprised by her thinking, having read Schlussel’s entry. She offers this in response to her question in her title:

So, the answer is no. One cannot be an NFL lineman and be a vegan. You need animal protein to maintain the weight. And looking at the photo of Gonzalez, he looks on the small and thin side for an NFL lineman. He’d probably be much bigger and stronge [sic]–a prized advantage in an NFL line–if he ate meat and protein and drank cow’s or goat’s milk. …

Before ridiculing her scientific method, it should be noted that 247 pounds is not an atypical size for an NFL tight end. A tight end is not a lineman in the traditional sense, so he is not as big as the guards, tackles, and center. For example, Redskins Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley is 6′ 3″ and 249 pounds. This year’s Pro Bowl starters at tight end are Jason Witten (6′ 5″, 266) and Antonio Gates (6′ 4″, 260). Schlussel’s reasoning, if it can be called that, is empty of any knowledge of her subject matter. But there’s no need to let that be an impediment, I suppose.

But to the proof of her thesis statement, the first reported attempt by an NFL player to be a vegan “failed”. There’s no question of whether he received incorrect advice from his nutritionists. There’s no examination of how an actual vegan might approach a dietary need for more than 3,000 calories per day. This one example of a player who may not actually self-identify (I think he does) as vegan is enough. This is definitive; it’s impossible to be a vegan lineman in the NFL. Next up, her proof that God exists.

If Mr. Gonzalez calls himself a vegan, he is mistaken. If Mr. Gonzalez does not call himself a vegan, the article is mistaken. One of those two statement is fact. The answer is not clear, so The Wall Street Journal reporter (and/or editor) botched the article by not clarifying this point. That, and maybe Debbie Schlussel’s disregard for facts, is the only takeaway from the article.

Hat tip to Elaine Vigneault for the heads up on Schlussel’s nonsense.

Thanks for contributing.

Jan. 29th Update: I want to clarify that this entry – and DK’s at The Kvetcher – is based on an educated guess. I’ve seen nothing explicitly confirming that PEPFAR (i.e. you and me) will be paying for infant circumcisions in Rwanda. But it defies logic to assume that the United States government will not fund at least a portion of this. We’ve already funded circumcision in Africa in the past, and the Bush Administration only halted that nonsense temporarily.

Regardless, the statistics on HIV and circumcision in Rwanda stand independent of my guesswork. End Update.

Via The Kvetcher, I’m sure you’ll join me in being not surprised to discover who is paying for the new mass circumcision plan in Rwanda that explicitly includes children: you and me, as taxpayers, through PEPFAR.

Additional Funding: In June 2007, an additional $10,600,000 was allocated to further strengthen activities in HIV/TB, PMTCT, Treatment, OVC, SI and Care. The additional funds will also support innovative wrap-around programs targeting PLWHA in the areas of food, micro-economic activities and safe water, as well as new medical male circumcision activities.

Remember how PEPFAR designed its plan to spend money our money?

President Bush’s $15 billion anti-AIDS program will begin investing [SIC!] significant money in making circumcision available to African men seeking to protect themselves from HIV, top U.S. health officials said Sunday.

I’m sure I was just being hysterical when I wrote:

The worst part of this is easy to predict. This money will be used to fund infant circumcisions, regardless of what the parties involved are now claiming. That’s just the inevitable line of (non-)thinking from public health officials. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have seen the push for infant circumcision six days after the latest findings on voluntary, adult circumcision were released in December. Voluntary and adult always get lost. Always.

Look at the plan in Rwanda. Even where they remembered adult (soldiers and police officers), they dumped voluntary. The desire to “help” here is wrapped in control, fuzzy feelings, and the spread of one specific American custom to future generations. There is no concern for individual rights, the single most important American custom worth spreading.

And about that public health help… From MEASURE DHS, a statistic, which the report¹ provides the conclusion in a neat summary. (Found via the first comment to The Kvetcher’s post.)

15.3.6 HIV Prevalence and Male Circumcision

The RDHS-III included questions on whether men had been circumcised. These data can be used to examine possible relationships between HIV prevalence and male circumcision. Among men age 15 to 59 who were tested for HIV, 9 percent had been circumcised.

Table 15.11 indicates higher prevalence of HIV among circumcised males (3.5 percent) than among uncircumcised males (2.1 percent). This pattern is found for all sociodemographic variables, except urban residence, where prevalence among circumcised men (5.0 percent) is slightly lower than among uncircumcised men (5.7 percent).

The facts, although interesting, are clearly irrelevant. When one can appear to act logically, there is no need to worry whether or not that act is logical. Thus always with public policy. Infants be damned.

¹ Institut National de la Statistique du Rwanda (INSR) and ORC Macro. 2006. Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2005. Calverton, Maryland, U.S.A.: INSR and ORC Macro.

Nothing is too big to fail.¹

Sebastian Mallaby expands on Robert Samuelson’s mess from last week.

Surveying the world’s financial chaos, my colleague Robert J. Samuelson declared last week that “capitalism’s most dangerous enemies are capitalists.” This is the truth, but not the whole truth: There are constructive capitalists as well as dangerous ones. If election-year pressure for a clampdown on Wall Street starts rising, it will be vital not to lump the whole financial world together. A policy response has to distinguish between stabilizing players and destabilizing ones.

“Capitalism’s most dangerous enemies are capitalists” is not truth. Not the whole truth, not the partial truth. It has never been true. It will never be true. Capitalism’s most dangerous enemies are politicians.

Capitalists try to exploit the capitalist system through various techniques. Politicians try to exploit their own system by replacing capitalism with something else. Generally this is a form of centralized planning in specific, “important” areas of an economy. The argument is something like “We need food. We can’t trust people to understand that they need food without help from the government. Capitalism can’t provide it because it’s short-sighted.”

In more troubling cases, politicians attempt to subvert capitalism en masse and replace it with socialism. Our current election demonstrates this on both sides of the political divide.

Which group, capitalists or politicians, has a better chance at success in his chosen endeavor? In case you answered incorrectly, which group has the guns? Also, notice that Mr. Mallaby couldn’t make it out of the first paragraph before he argued for a policy response.

Stabilizing financial institutions have sensible incentives. People get paid to earn profits and manage risk at the same time. Despite how they are vilified, the majority of hedge funds are in this category.

Destabilizing financial institutions have skewed incentives. People discount risk and pursue profit recklessly because of their reward structure. Despite their reputation as the grown-ups in the system, the big investment banks suffer particularly from this skewing of incentives.

Ignore the big investment bank charge. It’s anecdotal to the larger point he is claiming. (It’s worth noting the critical nature of his questionable assumption that investment banks accurately knew the extent of the risk from a specific subset of recent subprime mortgages.) Destabilizing financial institutions (i.e. capitalists) mess up our economy. But nowhere does he note that capitalism’s response is to let those irresponsible, incompetent organizations die. The policy response is that any organization judged sufficiently important must be propped up.

Generally this involves taxpayer funding. Politicians deem the appearance of ability more vital than the presence of ability, as if this will solve the crisis. Also embedded in this irrational response is the belief that no other organization could or would immediately seize the portions of the deceased organizations business worth saving.

Essentially, if Apple went bankrupt tomorrow, politicians assume the portable music player would disappear from existence.

He concludes:

The right lesson from the turmoil is that banks must reward bankers who earn profits on a multi-year horizon. They must reform their incentives so that they become more like hedge funds. Politicians can call for this, and regulators can prod helpfully. But the banks’ big shareholders will have to drive the process. The rejuvenation of capitalism must come from the capitalists themselves.

Again, capitalism is as healthy today as it’s ever been. Even in failure by capitalists, capitalism hums along just fine, doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s the “calls” from politicians and the “prodding” from regulators – where do regulators get the authority to “prod” – that cause problems. Shareholders are excellent at figuring out that, if the risky² businesses they invest in are deemed essential to the economy, their investment will largely be bailed out. They’ll get a free shot (or shots) at redemption, courtesy of politicians and purchased by the coerced generosity of United States taxpayers.

Perhaps banks have bad incentives. But so do shareholders, when they know that capitalism capitalists can be manipulated by incentives from politicians.

¹ The United States government is included in nothing.

² Risky being merely a term to indicate that risk exists for every business. It assumes no assessment as to quantity of risk in any specific business, or how much or how little is acceptable.

Is there a market for contraband in communist countries?

Much is being made of the nonsensical, fact-free attack on libertarianism in this article by Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey on John McCain and virtue. Those arguments are valid, but I’m stopped by this:

The main current of opposition to McCain faults him for departures from strict free-market ideology. McCain’s decisions about tax cuts, campaign finance, and greenhouse gas caps may be prudent or imprudent, and it is important to debate their practical effects on our economy and on our nation’s well-being. Nonetheless, if conservatives succeed in marginalizing anyone who does not toe the doctrinaire line of their free market ideology, they will lose an important–indeed the most central and precious–aspect of their creed: the faith in the virtue of individuals to make a good society for themselves, rather than the faith in an ideology to make a good society for us.

Faith in the virtue of individuals to make a good society for themselves… is not free-market “ideology”? What am I missing? That’s exactly the point of free-market economics. Rather than some central decision-maker, even someone as “virtuous” as John McCain, each person working with and against¹ each other can will make a better society.

The article continues with a defense of free markets. The authors seem to get stuck on ideology, as if a commitment to free markets implies some specific outcome. Other than the commonly known fact that the iPod’s planned appearance, granted by decree to Apple, was on page 347 of Milton Freedman’s The Free-Market Ideologue’s Complete Guide to Acceptable Progress and The Organizations Granted Such Opportunities², I’m not sure how any thinking person can come to such a conclusion. Economic progress is almost by definition unexpected and devastating to the old ways. An ideologue wouldn’t accept such reckless change to his status. But then, I’m also invested heavily in buggy technology. We’re going to run out of oil someday, since the free market has no idea what to do about the situation.

Naturally, as an ideologue, I’m required to ignore the helping hand of government in trying to make us free from dependence on foreign oil. And those reports of rising food prices as an unintended consequence of government’s well-thought-out subsidies to turn America’s corn into gas? Those reports are shoveled from the stables where I’m keeping the horses that will pull my buggy.

Now I’m bored³. Prudent leadership is a euphemism for central planning. It doesn’t matter if the Dear Leader is John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Stalin, or Jesus Christ. Any will imposed on another for his own alleged benefit without his consent is not liberty. In the absence of liberty, political and/or economic mandate is not virtuous.


As for the “critique” of libertarianism, aside from my suggestion that the authors invest in a dictionary of political terms, kudos are in order to Matt Welch at reason for getting to the point:

Turns out there’s a pretty important difference between wishing the government out of people’s free transactions, and assuming those transactions are wonderful (let alone wanting to force them upon the rest of society).

But I’m partial to Will Wilkinson’s pitch-perfect dismissal:

National Greatness Conservatism is like a grotesque wood-paneled den stuffed with animal heads, mounted swords, garish carpets, and a giant roaring fire. Only the most vulgar tuck in next to that fire, light a fat cigar, and think they’ve really got it all figured out.

I hate wood-paneling.

¹ The two are not mutually-exclusive or counter-productive.

² Freedman’s companion volume, How to Oppress the Proletariat, is a great read.

³ If I chose to continue, I’d remark that “greed is good” advocacy in the free market is distinctly different from the irrational belief that “greed is good” has a place among our “prudent leaders”.

Every broadcast is indecent.

Free speech be damned darned:

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue.

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted “multiple, close-up views” of the woman’s “nude buttocks” according to an agency order issued late Friday.

The FCC is only attempting to fine ABC stations in the Central and Mountain time zones because they aired the show before 10 p.m. Even that logic violates the First Amendment’s “Congress shall make no law”, but okay, fine, at least the FCC is following one rule limiting its reach. But allow me to play semantics for a moment.

The agency said the show was indecent because “it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs _ specifically an adult woman’s buttocks.”


Function of the skin

The skin has several important functions, including:

  • Waste disposal. The skin is a minor source of waste disposal. Sweat glands located in the skin excrete waste products such as urea (a byproduct of protein metabolism) therefore eliminating them from the body.

Every actor on television violates the letter of the law by revealing an excretory organ. And every athlete during the Super Bowl next Sunday will presumably cause Fox liability by sweating, thereby engaging in an excretory activity. I will be complaining.

I’m engaging in hyperbole, but I’m not joking.

In an obscene requirement, ABC defended the artistic merit of showing a woman’s buttock, generating this response:

“The law is simple,” FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate wrote in a statement yesterday. “If a broadcaster makes the decision to show indecent programming, it must air between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This is neither difficult to understand nor burdensome to implement.”

But it is an unconstitutional burden. Apparently “Congress shall make no law…” is difficult to understand. I’m not sure how, since it’s only five words, and only the first has more than one syllable. Perhaps that’s the trouble. Our leaders representatives do not understand the word Congress because it is too complicated. Idiots, every one of them.

Take joy until Congress and the FCC catch on. Any time you flip on your television, you’re being exposed to indecent material. Naughty, naughty.

Liberty has age and gender restrictions.

This will probably be long; please humor me. Also, there are many issues of custody that I’m ignoring. I’m specifically focusing on how the Oregon Supreme Court addressed male genital cutting (i.e. circumcision) in its decision. Lest you decide from my last entry that I’m happy with the outcome, I’ll spoil the conclusion now and tell you that I am not. The decision is terrible in its dismissal of the clear violation of forced circumcision. I predict that the boy will eventually be circumcised, regardless of his wish. If he says no, the court will decide that the custodial father retains the “right” to impose elective surgery.

With that, the Court’s opinion in detail:

We allowed mother’s petition for review and on de novo review we now conclude that the trial court erred in failing to determine whether M desired the circumcision as father contended or opposed the circumcision as mother alleged. (1) Because we view that finding as a necessary predicate to determining whether mother alleged a change in circumstance sufficient to trigger a custody hearing, we reverse the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the trial court and remand the case to the trial court.

This seems so fundamental that I question how the Oregon Supreme Court can be blind to the issues surrounding circumcision. Obviously the proposed patient should be consulted. Indeed, barring medical need, his decision is all that matters. As we’ll see in a moment, all other considerations are extraneous. (Again, I am ignoring the custodial questions here.)

In the normal course, religious and medical decisions such as the one in this case, are considered private family matters determined by the parents or between parents and child, without resort to the courts. Unfortunately, however, these parties cannot or will not resolve this matter without court intervention.

As I’ve written before, normal and common have different meanings. They are not synonyms. The Court is correct that we commonly misbehave this way, but that is not normal. Just like having a foreskin is normal, while being circumcised is common.

Oregon does not allow parents the decision to cut the genitals of their daughters for any reason other than medical need. They cannot claim a deity’s commandment. They cannot claim a potential benefit. Without medical need, the state applies an absolute prohibition. As our society is built on individual rights, proxy consent must have strict rational bounds. Non-medical elective surgery is outside those bounds. Gender is not a valid basis for distinction.

Father also argued that the court lacked authority to grant mother’s motions because (1) granting the motions would violate father’s freedom of religion under the religion clauses of the United States and Oregon constitutions; …

The First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom is an individual right. By practicing your religion on the body of another, you have negated his individual right through substitution. That violates the spirit and letter of our Constitution. Any claim to the contrary is a mistaken display of ego.

… (4) the circumcision was medically advisable independent of the religious reasons for it; …

Doubtful. I’ll explain more on this in a moment.

… and (5) although M’s wishes were “legally irrelevant,” …

A child does not possess the option to fully exercise his (her) rights while still a minor. That is a reasonable acknowledgement that minors do not possess the mental ability to comprehend their actions. That does not mean they are the property of their parents until reaching the age of majority.

We would not permit parents to surgically amputate a child’s finger without medical need. There is no valid distinction that the foreskin from the same protection given to the pinky. Or the labia and clitoris. The father’s claim here is absurd bordering on obscene. The Court should’ve rejected it.

[M’s urologist Dr.]Ellen also stated that there was evidence of “glandular adhesions” on M’s penis that should have disappeared by age three, and that that fact alone was cause for recommendation for the procedure.

Again, this is normal versus common. It is normal for the foreskin to adhere to the glans at birth. This adhesion commonly breaks by an early age, but it is possible for the adhesions to remain into the teen years. The presence of adhesions does not automatically indicate medical need, just as an absence of adhesions does not automatically indicate medical health.

As the boy ages, the presence of adhesions merely raises the question of whether penile functioning is being restricted. If he can urinate successfully and normal erections are not hindered, there is no reason to hurry nature. If he cannot urinate successfully and/or normal erections are hindered, that is medical need requiring intervention. (Such intervention does not automatically mean circumcision.)

It matters that this case began three years ago when M was 9. There is a difference between 9 and 12. Also, irregular readhesions will occur if the foreskin is forcibly separated from the glans before the adhesion naturally breaks. This is common among the children of parents who are ignorant of proper care of the normal (i.e. intact) penis.

Under no circumstances is it normal to break this adhesion at birth on a healthy foreskin and penis, as the bond must be forcibly broken to circumcise. The results can be bad, beyond the guarantee of scarring and loss of erogenous tissue.

Ellen averred that circumcision is a safe procedure, that there would be some minor discomfort for about three days that would not prevent M from carrying on normal activities, and that M’s circumcision would greatly reduce M’s risk of penile cancer and certain infections.

It is a safe procedure that causes injury to every male circumcised, as evidenced by the scarring, and occasionally leads to more serious complications, up to and including death. Who is the best judge of whether or not this inherent risk is acceptable in the complete absence of medical need?

The doctor’s statement that circumcision would cause minor discomfort and a short healing period should be noted. The actual post-operative constraints from adult circumcision are little different, contrary to the scare tactics generally offered as an excuse to push the surgery onto children. This doesn’t have a direct connection to this case, but Dr. Ellen is using standard arguments to treat a specific case, so it warrants mentioning.

Of course, no circumcision advocate’s argument would be complete without the grand reliance on potential benefits against extremely minor risks. Remember, too, that those risks are almost universally based on behavior (e.g. smoking, promiscuity, lack of hygiene) rather than anatomy.

We agree with the trial court that the authority of the custodial parent to make medical decisions for his or her child, including decisions involving elective procedures and decisions that may involve medical risks, is implicit in both our case law and Oregon statutes.

Once again, Oregon already has a statue to forbid parents from imposing genital cutting on their daughters for any of the reasons the Court accepts here for male children. That is wrong. It violates Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution:

Section 1. Natural rights inherent
in people.
We declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right: …

I’m having trouble understanding any exception to that which excludes only the genitals of male minors. I don’t doubt that the law allows it, but where it does, the law is a ass.

Mother, joined by amicus curiae Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC), asserts that there is no more important decision to make for a male child than to require that the child undergo permanent modification to his body, and argues that an evidentiary hearing is required to find out whether M objects to the circumcision. She also contends that an evidentiary hearing is required so that she may present evidence regarding the harmful effects and permanent nature of circumcision. Indeed, mother and DOC assert that, because of the significant medical risks associated with circumcision, M should not be circumcised even if he states that he wants to undergo the procedure.

I agree with the last sentence, although I have written that I will not object in this individual case if M specifically wishes to be circumcised. But the primary logic in that paragraph is so fundamental that every lower court that ignored it should be ashamed. Individual rights, individual rights, individual rights, individual rights. This is not complicated. I’m not an attorney and I can grasp that. No individual is another’s property. It’s elementary, despite attempts to make it appear more complicated and nuanced. Male children are treated as such, but that does not make it legitimate. History will not be kind on our long dalliance with barbarism.

In response, father, joined by amicus curiae American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (collectively, AJC), argues that the trial court did not need to hold an evidentiary hearing, because M’s attitude about whether he wants the circumcision is not legally significant. Father asserts that a child is not the decision-maker on such questions, any more than an infant who is circumcised. If the legislature had wanted a male child to have a say in whether he is circumcised, he contends, it could have adopted a statute to that effect, as it has done in other statutes such as ORS 109.610 (giving minors the right to consent to treatment for venereal disease without parental consent). Father also contends that the health risks associated with male circumcision are de minimus. In any case, father maintains that the affidavits he supplied to the trial court demonstrate that M does want to be circumcised.

Not legally significant. Again, what if a parent wanted to cut off a child’s finger? The child’s opinion would be legally significant then. There is no valid reason for an exception on the genitals of male children. It doesn’t matter if the child is 17 minutes or 17 years old.

The father is an attorney. I have no doubt he is aware of the law against female genital cutting. Firing up the Way Back machine to yesterday, the legislature’s silence on an issue is not the end of the discussion. Whenever the law and the constitution are in conflict, the constitution must wins. In other words, the law loses, legislatures be damned. Oversight does not grant legitimacy. The constitution guarantees equal protection. The law discriminates based on gender. The law is a ass.

For what it’s worth, I doubt the males who suffer complications from the inherent risks of circumcision do not consider them trivial. He can never guarantee that M will not suffer a complication. As such, we’re back to medical need. It is not necessary. Therefore, it is unacceptable to impose it. That is the only debate.

Finally, father and AJC argue that father has a constitutionally protected right to circumcise his son. They maintain that American Jews must be free to practice circumcision because it is and has been one of the most fundamental and sacred parts of the Jewish tradition. Father concludes that, if this court requires the trial court to hold an evidentiary hearing, we would usurp the role of the custodial parent and violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Lifting religious text above a constitution founded on principles of liberty is the way of theocracy. Worse, picking only the preferred requirements of a religious text is the worst possible intellectual dishonesty.

Slavery is in the Bible. We do not allow it. Polygamy is in the Bible. We do not allow it. Vigilante justice is in the Bible. We do not allow it.

And what of other religious texts? Do we start allowing any act that involves one person violating the rights of another, as long as it’s printed in an old book that many people value? Tradition, sacred or not, is a claim made when principles contradict the desired outcome.

We conclude that, although circumcision is an invasive medical procedure that results in permanent physical alteration of a body part and has attendant medical risks, the decision to have a male child circumcised for medical or religious reasons is one that is commonly and historically made by parents in the United States.

What kind of mental gymnastics must one engage in to marry the pre- and post-comma statements into one argument? Liberty demands that we stop at the comma when there is no medical need. Regardless of need, nothing after the comma is valid.

If, however, the trial court finds that M opposes the circumcision, it must then determine whether M’s opposition to the circumcision will affect father’s ability to properly care for M. And, if necessary, the trial court then can determine whether it is in M’s best interests to retain the existing custody arrangement, whether other conditions should be imposed on father’s continued custody of M, or change custody from father to mother.

The qualification here leads me to believe this victory will be pyrrhic. Sure, the court is acknowledging that someone should’ve asked the boy¹ for his opinion on what happens to his body. But it is not saying that the court must deny the father’s desire to circumcise his son. Even if the boy says he does not want his genitals surgically cut², the standard becomes whether or not forced genital cutting on the boy will impair the father’s ability to continue raising his son. The Court is actively embracing the stupidity that, if he doesn’t want it, he may still be treated like property. The Court considers permanent genital modification on a child no different in legitimacy than his father telling him he has to eat Brussels sprouts rather than chocolate. Our society is insane.

¹ His age is irrelevant. We can’t ask infants, but we should. Since they can’t give an answer, the only course of action is no action. Until he can ask for an “invasive medical procedure that results in permanent physical alteration of a body part and has attendant medical risks,” do nothing while he is healthy.

² Some argue that a hospital circumcision is invalid as a Jewish rite because the surgery must be performed by a mohel.

What An Interesting Idea.

The Oregon Supreme Court announced its decision in Boldt and Boldt. I’m currently reading it, not that I can specifically offer anything in the way of legal analysis. But the conclusion is stunning from the perspective of individual rights.

We remand the case to the trial court with instructions to resolve the factual issue whether M agrees or objects to the circumcision.

“M” is the 12-year-old boy in the case. His foreskin, his opinion? What an original idea.

More later.

Update: Andrew Sullivan reaches the same basic conclusion.

Politicians are flawed. Judicial review is valid.

This entry by Timothy Sandefur sums up nicely exactly why the idea that “activist judges” are bad is bunk.

But the principle underlying judicial review is that legislation does not in fact represent the consent of the governed—it represents the consent of their deputies; the consent of a particular legislature at a particular time. It may or may not represent the will of the people, which is expressed in the Constitution. …

I did not, and will not, vote for my representative in the House, Tom Davis. He rarely speaks for me. I’m happy that there are courts to hold him and his cohorts in line with the Constitution. In our current time, rather than “activist judges”, the problem skews more to non-activist judges who accept existing excuses for government excess, or worse, create new excuses.

Clearly our current political discourse has transposed the definitions of active and inactive.

I will have an opinion.

From Oregon:

A divorce dispute over whether to circumcise a 12-year-old boy will be decided Friday by the Oregon Supreme Court.

The nationally-watched case pits a father who converted to Judaism and wants his son to undergo the religious ritual, against his mother, an orthodox Christian who claims the boy doesn’t want to be circumcised.

I’ve written about this in many posts already. I’m curious to discover whether or not the Oregon Supreme Court understands the fallacy of the Circuit judge’s opinion that “the decision of whether or not a child has elective surgery, which this appears to be, is a call that should be made and is reserved to the custodial parent”. Elective surgery is a very large scope. It would certainly be legally strange to continue the irrational stance of applying one standard to the penis and another to the labia and clitoris. But then, Oregon already embraces gender discrimination in its law against the mutilation of a minor’s genitals.

I hope we get a broad precedent-setting ruling protecting males as females are already protected, but I’m not stupid. I am pessimistically cautious that we’ll get a ruling in favor of the mother’s argument. Hopefully the court will have the sense to at least go there, custodial parents “rights” be damned. More tomorrow, after the Court announces its ruling.

Update: My opinion is here.

We’d better spend it well the first time.

What’s the definition of insanity?

“I can’t say that I’m totally pleased with the package, but I do know that it will help stimulate the economy. But if it does not, then there will be more to come,” Pelosi said.

I love that she knows it will help. Oh, but if it doesn’t, which it will, because she knows it will work, she’s going to do the exact same thing again. Because, in the evidence of failure, it will clearly work on the second try.

These are our “leaders”. How does anyone identify as anything other than a libertarian?