Around the Web: Vigorous Nodding Edition

John Cole assesses the Senate’s asinine behavior in passing the anti-liberty FISA bill with telecom immunity and pursuing the NFL over Spygate perfectly:

There is a very real and perverse possibility that the NFL will face tougher sanctions for spying on practice squads and covering it up than the telecoms and this President will face for spying on the citizenry and lying about it.

That the Democrats caved so easily on the former is another reason to ignore them as a party of leadership.

Next, Jacob Sullum dissects the problem with too many science journalists and editors:

Any journalist who doesn’t feel comfortable going beyond what appears in a medical journal to put a study’s findings in context and offer caveats where appropriate has no business writing about science. Reporters can’t be experts on everything, but they can ask smart questions and seek informed comments regarding a study’s potential weaknesses. If news organizations refuse to do so on the grounds that the study was peer reviewed and therefore must be faultless, they might as well just reprint researchers’ press releases. Which is pretty much what they do, all too often.

This is essentially every bit of “journalism” in America regarding circumcision over the last 125 2½ years. For example.

Finally, Colman McCarthy wrote in yesterday’s Washington Post on the current steroids brouhaha in Congress:

This is the second time members of Congress have posed as drug-busters cleaning up the great American pastime. Except that drug use — whether involving legal or illegal drugs — already is the American pastime, and it is far bigger than baseball.

I’m hoping that Roger Clemens polls the members of Waxman’s committee on their use of performance-enhancing drugs. Start with Viagra. Or Cialis, ready for action “when the moment is right” — say, a congressman stumbling home after a late-night floor vote on an earmark bill. Clemens might ask the members how many need shots of caffeine drugs to get themselves up and out every morning. He might ask the members how often they reach for another shot of Jack Daniels to enhance their performance while grubbing for bucks from lobbyists at fundraisers. And before leaving Capitol Hill, he should grill the allegedly clean-living baseball reporters on how many of them sit in the press box enhancing their bodies with alcohol, nicotine and caffeine drugs. And a blunt or two when night games go extra innings and deadline nerves need steadying.

My stance remains unchanged. McCarthy’s essay holds up a mirror to the hypocrisy of today’s moralizers, both inside and outside of government.

I came, I saw, I got the sticker.

As I said I would, I voted for Sen. Obama today. I don’t feel better about the world. I’m not relieved that change is on the way. My teeth aren’t straighter. My hair isn’t shinier. I didn’t win the lottery. Is that because I don’t believe enough?

For what it’s worth, I’m standing by my refusal to vote for either party’s candidate in November. Having already judged Sen. Obama the least problematic, relatively speaking, I’ll ignore Senators McCain and Clinton until another day. But this misguided enthusiasm for Obama because of his promises of help with college tuition from a voter¹ looking for a vending machine candidate and Radley Balko’s concise rebuttal of the stupidity of such an offer sum up my antipathy to registering a general election vote for even this least problematic candidate. Barring a stunning development or a good third party candidate (i.e. not Bloomberg), I’m voting for myself for president in November. I already have three votes lined up. Join the parade early. (I’d add often, but that’s the modus operandi of the two major parties.)

I’ll leave you with a scene from my voting experience today. When the woman in front of me walked to the check-in table when it was her turn, she countered any optimism I’m supposed to have about democracy (in the naked, majoritarian sense) with the following:

Volunteer: What’s your name?

Woman: <states name>

Volunteer: <after verifying name> Which primary would you like to vote in?

Woman: I don’t know.

Volunteer: You have to pick one.

Woman: What are the choices?

Volunteer: <pointing> There are the sample ballots.

Woman: <slowly reads the two ballots, then points> This one.

She chose the Republican ballot. I’m stereotyping guessing she voted for Huckabee because of his affiliation and his opposition to teh gay. That’s probably not fair, but I’m trying to gauge my world – my neighbors – with incomplete information. My theory fits my district, unfortunately.

Any dissenters from that theory, with only the limited information I gave?

¹ Via Andrew Sullivan.

There are exceptions to “Always Be Closing.”

I don’t write about work here because it’s not that interesting, you don’t care, and it’s not a good idea. Some combination of those three is always in effect, so I leave it out. But I want to pull back the curtain once for a specific purpose.

Yesterday’s entry that I might miss voting on Tuesday referred to a contract I was negotiating that involved traveling. It was to start Monday, but I rejected it this morning. That’s not particularly useful to you, but the experience reminded me of a key lesson I’ve learned, whether in my negotiating class in business school or through experience. When you have the sale closed, shut up.

My adversary did not heed this lesson. (I would not normally use adversary in this context, but that’s what he wanted to be.) As I prepared to say “yes”, he interrupted me to question my decision-making process in an insulting manner, implicating my personal life as questionable. Thinking he was proving to me why I had to say “yes” and forcing me to appreciate his understanding while I was being unreasonable, he talked me out of the deal. I would have to work with him for the length of the contract. If he won’t trust my judgment now on my personal decision, I will not risk trusting him to trust me later on professional decisions.

As a blogger, I rarely practice this, but sometimes it’s important to keep one’s opinion quiet.

Addendum: Danielle and I ordered Chinese food last night. My fortune was: Any decision you have to make tomorrow is a good decision. It’s great knowing I couldn’t screw up.

Is the act the crime?

Is this disgusting act criminal because the man assaulted the children or because he practiced medicine¹ without a license:

A Gaston County man, who is the father of a dozen kids by two different women, is now facing even more child abuse charges in Caldwell County.

Marlowe and his two wives lived in Lenoir for several years and during that time Amber says he delivered and then circumcised two of his youngest sons.

Police reports indicate that Marlowe used a utility knife and one of the boys even bled extensively.

I understand what most people will argue is the difference between this story and common American practice. I reject such arguments outright. If you think that an operating room and training would be sufficient to overcome the clear assault, you’re ignoring that ritual male genital cutting takes place outside of a sterile surgical environment. You’re ignoring that training is required because the act is surgery. You’re ignoring that surgery was not indicated in the circumcision of these two boys, just as it isn’t in more than one million American male infants circumcised every year. You’re also ignoring that female genital cutting could pass the same low test, yet we understand that the location and training is indicative only of the person’s sense within the confines of insanity. The physical act is assault.

Anyone outraged by the circumcisions in this story who does not object to circumcision as it is commonly practiced in America is a hypocrite.

¹ To the extent that this is “medicine” in its common form, an objectionable claim.

Virginia Primary Endorsement

I may not get to vote in next week’s primary in Virginia. That would be a shame because I’d decided against my own objections to every candidate running to cast a vote against Hillary Clinton. As I’ve written, I don’t buy into Obama’s marketing plan of “Change, rah rah”. I just don’t care, and the cynical part of me hates the unquestioning pep rally feel of this quest for a Dear Leader. I want specifics, and since those specifics I want are what the politician will stop doing, I’m not interested in Senator Obama’s progressive gobbledygook. But Hillary Clinton must be stopped.

I’ve thought about the reasons why, as I’ve come to this conclusion recently. Megan McArdle almost summed it up yesterday:

Barack Obama. No surprise here. He’s slightly to the left of Hillary on goals, but he’s well to the right of her on process. His goal is not more government so that we can all be caught up in some giant, expressive excercise of collectively enforcing our collective will on all the other people standing around us in the collective; his goal is improving transparency and minimizing government intrusion, while rectifying specific outcomes. His economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, is brilliant. Plus, he doesn’t have Hillary Clinton’s deep administrative ties, which means two good things: less capture by the bureaucracy, and arguably less ability to get things done. And frankly, I’m creeped out by the notion of a presidential succession that goes Bush . . . Clinton . . . Bush . . . Clinton.

Again, I don’t like what Sen. Obama is proposing in his never-discussed agenda. I will not vote for him in November if he’s the nominee because he is offering us what he thinks we need. But he needs to be the nominee because Clinton is offering us what she knows we need. Her potential to change her course in the face of contrary evidence is on par with George W. Bush’s mastery of that skill.

I don’t like the short-term if Senator Obama is elected. The chance is too great that there will be a kumbaya grace period for his agenda with the Democratic Congress, but long-term, yeah, I think he will display a lesser ability to get things done. It’s a point made by a friend in another conversation recently; it’s a good one.

Since Virginia doesn’t require party affiliation to vote in a primary, I could vote in the Republican race. But why would I bother? As soulless and unpalatable as he is, I like the idea that Romney would have very little political capital to get things done. However, I also think he would sell any one of us out to another if he thought it would help him. Soulless is as soulless does. But he also has no chance of defeating McCain here, so I’m not interested in wasting my vote. Vote None of the Above.

No right to digital television exists in the Constitution.

While watching television last night, Fox subjected me to a commercial about digital television from the National Association of Broadcasters’ digital television (DTV) transition campaign. Normally I could phase out and not care. But in the middle of the commercial, this:

That’s an interesting claim. Am I to take from this the idea that Congress is smart enough to know what’s good and what isn’t good? It’s marketing, yes, but people showed up to vote in multiple states yesterday where a primary won’t be held for at least a week. Anything that further cements in anyone’s mind that Congress’ central planning is wise and informed can only be considered detrimental. It shouldn’t be too hard to make the correct connection based on the commercial’s mention of the converter box coupon, a giveaway that most people don’t need and no one deserves.

Does religion permit you to increase risk to patients?

From the UK:

Women training in several hospitals in England have raised objections to removing their arm coverings in theatre and to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands, because it is regarded as immodest in Islam.

Dr Mark Enright, professor of microbiology at Imperial College London, said: “To wash your hands properly, and reduce the risks of MRSA and C.difficile, you have to be able to wash the whole area around the wrist.

“I don’t think it would be right to make an exemption for people on any grounds. The policy of bare below the elbows has to be applied universally.”

U.K. health officials want to apply this universally to all health care practitioners, individuals who enter into voluntary employment contracts. This is, of course, the proper decision because it’s based in science and objectively applied. No one has a right to put others at risk to satisfy your religion.

For consideration: how is that view compatible with a belief that parents have the right to impose the risks and negatives of medically unnecessary circumcision on their healthy children, as long as their religion requires it? Is the patient’s health and welfare relevant, as it clearly is in the example above?

Mirrors create pornographic images. Ban mirrors!

Police in Virginia Beach, after pursuing obscenity charges against the manager of an Abercrombie & Fitch store for two in-store displays, have reacted to public ridicule come to their senses:

Deputy City Attorney Mark Stiles said that, while the images might be technically in breach of the nudity section of the city’s local code, they were in line with the other standards upheld by the law. For prosecution the images would have to appeal to “prurient interests”, lack any redeeming artistic merit and be offensive to “prevailing community standards”.

First, allow me to remind you that the First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. (There are limited exceptions that do not apply here, as Kip explains in his analysis of the case before today’s announcement.) But within Stiles’ convoluted excuse for the city’s nudity clause, consider the actual images:


Like, OMG! The bottom of a female breast! The top of a male butt! My eyes, my eyes! And OMG! The Children!

Rather than admit that the officer(s) screwed up, Stiles crouched:

“So Abercrombie and Fitch, part of their marketing plans is to get as close to the line as they can get and then make it a judgement call for the officer on the street. I think that’s what’s happened here,” he said.

IF Abercrombie & Fitch planned this, it still requires an idiot with a badge and a gun to ignore the law. It’s probably safe to assume that one would arrive on the scene somewhere, but the officer’s central role as the deciding factor in the success of this (allegedly) orchestrated marketing campaign is key. Without that public servant’s lack of judgment, the whole idea is a waste of money. Thanks to the officer’s incompetence, this campaign is money well spent.

Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t need any more discretion, because it’s nowhere close to the limited exceptions to the First Amendment that require conflicting rights. There is no conflicting right to press charges because you’re offended.

We are not a civilized society.

From Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi Ritchie Moss:

QUESTION: A friend asked the other day why we have a bris (circumcision). I rambled on about health, tradition, 8 days, pain and a whole lot of other nonsense before leaving this one to you.

ANSWER: The bris is a physical symbol of the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. It is a constant reminder of what the Jewish mission entails.

I do not care if an adult uses these reasons or no reason to have himself circumcised. I think faith is as valid as any other subjective reason for choosing elective surgery, if that’s what the individual values.

Everything that follows in the Rabbi’s answer is applied to infants. For that reason alone, all of it is objectionable because they can’t express how they’d like to practice their religion (permanently) on their physical bodies. This particular bit is also immoral [italics mine]:

Why on earth would G-d choose circumcision to represent something sacred?

Jewish spirituality is about making the physical world holy. The way we eat, sleep, work and procreate should be imbued with the same holiness as the way we pray our homes should be as sanctified as our synagogues.

We find G-d on earth just as much (and perhaps more) than in the heavens. So we put a sign on the most physical and potentially lowly organ, to say that it can and should be used in a holy way.

In fact, it is in sexuality that we can touch the deepest part of our soul, when we approach it with holiness.

Rabbi Ritchie Moss is possibly expressing his own interpretation. I have no idea how widely this is held. It doesn’t matter. When people say that male genital cutting does not occur to affect male sexuality, they are either ignornant or lying.

“Potentially lowly organ”. Remember that he is referring to the penis of a male child who is eight days old. (Female sexuality can’t be “lowly” and unholy?) The mere presence of his natural penis suggests not only his lack of future sexual purity, but also the punishment for his conviction. That is fucked up. No civilized society would allow that.

I wonder how much they’ll sell their candidate for on eBay.

Who wants majoritarianism? Some voters – I’m already shuddering – in Wisconsin showed up at their polling places this morning to vote in the Super Tuesday primaries. At some polling stations, they lined up as early as 6:30 this morning. The article failed to mention whether or not these voters brought sufficient supplies to last them until Wisconsin’s primary on February 19th.

If you can’t even figure out the right day to show up to vote, why should I ever agree to subject my rights to your opinion? I’ll continue to trust only in limited government rather than the alternatives offered in today’s American political landscape desert.

Link via To the People.