I’m not sure “medical evacuees” is on the approved list of phrases.

I groaned when I read the subtitle to this article on wounded soldiers returning to the United States through Andrews Air Force base.

At Andrews Air Force Base, medical evacuees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make their first stop in the homeland.

Can we please reject adopting this nationalistic nonsense? When we accept it, we hinder our ability to fight the next, inevitable wave of nationalistic nonsense. I know our government thinks it’s wonderful, but that does not mean it is, in fact, wonderful. It’s not. It’s designed to make Us&#153 hate Them&#153, which makes Us&#153 much more pliable to the hysterical whims of ignorant politicians who are only smart enough to understand that they can change the definition of Them&#153 without significant feedback on the truth or implications of such othering.

Spite: Another Argument Against Majoritarianism

We’re all hearing how Sen. Clinton’s supporters may protest and either refuse to vote for Sen. Obama or go the extra step and vote for Sen. McCain in November. I don’t think that’s too realistic on a large scale because I think most people realize how ridiculous that logic is. The latter, especially. I didn’t doubt that it will occur on some scale before yesterday, but I overhead confirmation.

While in Whole Foods yesterday, a man talked on his phone (loudly) to a friend about Clinton. He was clearly a Clinton supporter, but had enough sense to understand that Obama basically matched his policy hopes. His friend, not so much. He eventually asked his friend if he was seriously going to vote for McCain because Clinton didn’t win the nomination. (I got the impression his friend holds the “stolen nomination” view.) The friend clearly indicated yes. Are people really this stupid and spiteful?

To his credit the man in Whole Foods responded to his friend’s answer with “three words: John Paul Stevens”. Indeed.

Sixteen years teaches many lessons.

If I suddenly became my 19-year-old self from 1992 again, I’d be ecstatic that Senator Barack Obama is now the Democratic nominee for president. The message of hope change would resonate, and I’d be ready to cast my ballot in his favor. The idea of adapting to changing realities and discarded discredited ideas would appeal to me. My actual 19-year-old self from 1992 supported Jerry Brown (ah, the joy of idealism), but once Bill Clinton became the nominee, it was easy to rally behind him. Sen. Obama is no different.

My almost-35-year-old self in 2008 knows better. I’ve come to loathe Bill Clinton. He was, is, and always will be nothing more than a politician. He has very little redeemable character that he’s shown to the public. After sixteen years, I suspect that’s solely because there’s nothing redeemable to show. It doesn’t matter. I’m no longer interested in the freak show spectacle necessary to find out. I’ve become more cynical aware.

I won’t pretend that, should he win the presidency, Sen. Obama will eventually devolve into the mess that is Bill Clinton. I think Sen. Obama is little more than a politician, but Bill Clinton is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I hope. Still, Sen. Obama is not a political messiah. I doubt he is a statesman-incarnation of the founding fathers. Leadership is advocating for facts. Sen. Obama demonstrated earlier this year that rhetoric allegedly necessary to win in an election about change and truth is not beyond his arsenal. I don’t respect that. If he’s disappointing my reasonable expectations now, I can’t act as though he’s qualified to be president. He will disappoint if/when he’s president. Even the parts of that that are preferable also happen to be inevitable. Things are inevitably going to change stay the same.

In his defense, I think Sen. Obama is less unqualified to be president than Senator John McCain. If I planned to vote for one of these two men, it would be Sen. Obama. I hope he wins. But it won’t make a difference. Our national two-party partisan psychodrama isn’t going anywhere. I will retract if I’m wrong, but Senator Obama will play a part in that over the next 4, 8, or more years.

Advocating logic is undesirable, like practicing unsafe sex and sexually assaulting women.

Still catching up from the last two weeks, this was in the first draft of my last entry. It got a bit too long, so it became a stand-alone entry.

Via Andrew Sullivan, this quote from UNAIDS on travel restrictions placed on HIV-positive individuals by the United States (pdf):

UNAIDS recognizes that States impose immigration and visa restrictions as a valid exercise of their national sovereignty. However, in imposing any restrictions on entry and stay relating to HIV or health, UNAIDS calls upon States to adopt non-discriminatory laws and regulations which rationally achieve valid objectives through the least restrictive means possible.

UNAIDS would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that HIV-related travel restrictions have no public health justification. It is also our view that, where such restrictions are based on HIV status alone, they are discriminatory. There is no need to single out HIV for specific consideration as an exclusion criterion. …

Etc, etc. Exactly how much hypocrisy is allowed before principled becomes merely a mish-mash of preferred outcomes? How long ago did UNAIDS pass that point? A non-discriminatory recognition of human rights would be an excellent start, as opposed to something like this (pdf):

7.3 Since neonatal circumcision is a less complicated and risky procedure than circumcision performed in young boys, adolescents or adults, such countries should consider how to promote neonatal circumcision in a safe, culturally acceptable and sustainable manner.

Now compare with this, from the same link:

The message that male circumcision is very different from female genital mutilation also needs to be emphasized.

Or this:

Female genital mutilation, also called female genital cutting and female genital mutilation/cutting, violates the rights of women and girls to health, protection and even life as the procedure sometimes results in death.

Which can be said about male genital cutting. Still, UNAIDS doesn’t discriminate because it puts this in its report on “Safe, Voluntary, Informed Male Circumcision and Comprehensive HIV Prevention Programming” pdf:

Governments that introduce or expand services for male circumcision will have a responsibility to
launch public health campaigns that:

(iii) emphasize the voluntariness of male circumcision;

(iv) clearly distinguish male circumcision from female genital mutilation, which is a violation of the human rights of women and girls, is illegal in most countries where it still takes place, has no health benefits and carries considerable physical and psychosocial risks for girls and women;

The male genital cutting UNAIDS pushes is hardly voluntary, which makes it a violation of the human rights of men and boys. But we can’t say that because then we’d have to question what’s been done to so many. Instead, UNAIDS needs to silence criticism by drawing odd, strained attention to only the outcomes that fit its narrative. (It is hardly alone in this, of course.) For example:

How is male circumcision different from female genital mutilation?

While both male circumcision and female genital mutilation are steeped in culture and tradition, the health consequences of each are drastically different. Female genital cutting or mutilation comprises all surgical procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia (type I) or other injuries to the female genital organs. …

And on it goes, willfully missing the obvious truth that the more than one million cases of “voluntary” male genital cutting or mutilation performed each year on infant males in the United States comprise surgical procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the male genital organs. The inherent human right to be free from that without consent does not disappear simply because cutting a boy’s genitals might reduce his risk of HIV in the future if he has unprotected sex with an HIV-positive female.

Infant male circumcision: ethical, legal and human rights considerations

Studies have shown that the circumcision of infants is simpler and carries fewer medical risks than circumcision of older people. Parents considering circumcision of an infant boy should be provided with all the facts so they can determine the best interest of the child. In these cases, determining the best interests of the child should include diverse factors—the positive and negative health, religious, cultural and social benefits. Because the HIV-related benefits of circumcision only arise in the context of sexual activity, and because male circumcision is an irreversible procedure, parents may consider that the child should be given the option to decide for himself when he has the capacity to do so.

And given the irreversible nature of circumcision, what happens when a male decides that having his normal, healthy foreskin would be in his best interests? Setting aside the topic of (potential) health benefits for the moment, parents may argue for positive religious, cultural, and social benefits for female genital cutting. UNAIDS recognizes that none of those are legitimate, so it rightly dismisses them. Yet, because it’s a penis, those same religious, cultural, and social benefits, as determined dictated by the parents suddenly matter? No.

So, yeah, UNAIDS is right on the U.S. denial of entry to HIV-positive individuals. But UNAIDS does not practice what it preaches.

Post Script: See the section of the report titled “Protecting Women in the Context of Male Circumcision” for an understanding of this entry’s title.

Returning with a bit of this and a bit of that.

My schedule’s been a bit chaotic over the last two weeks. It’s too late to start any in depth blogging tonight, so instead, here are a few quick recaps of the news items I’ve logged as interesting over the last week or so.


First, I know nothing of the legal argument involved in the recent case of Major League Baseball and “its” statistics. I don’t doubt that the Supreme Court was correct to reject the case because there’s just no property right there to describing what happens during a game. The recap from a specific service provided would easily meet a licensing requirement, but I’m not paying a fee for saying that Chase Utley has a home run in five straight games or that he was 3-4 with a homer and two singles last night.

That said, anything that gives Commissioner Bud Selig a figurative black eye is good. He had “good enough”, which was more than the owners could legitimately claim. Yet they let greed at the expense of fans interfere with basic long-term business sense. Again. More than any other sport, statistics dominate baseball. Let fans have that and they’ll continue to demonstrate their love for the game by buying tickets and jerseys and the $200 television package. This is not complicated.


I haven’t paid enough attention to the FLDS case in Texas to remark on the judge’s ruling that the State must return the children to their parents. However, this is not proof for those libertarians who believe that the state has no role in parent-child relationships. An anecdote makes a strained theory, at best. Many libertarians have made convincing arguments that the state has a legitimate role in the parent-child relationship, principally in protecting the rights of the child.


Sebastian Mallaby misses on “pro-growth”:

… Given the yawning budget deficit and the coming demographic crunch, tax cuts aren’t affordable anyway.

The same goes for deregulation. Getting the nanny government out of trucking and airlines yielded huge benefits in the 1970s and 1980s. But the “price-and-entry” regulations that used to cosset such industries have long since gone, and remaining regulation is harder to demonize. We are left with government rules to protect the environment, check the safety of medicines and prevent systemic financial crises. These rules are generally helpful. There’s nothing “pro-growth” about bashing them.

“Generally helpful” is enough? Is Sarbane-Oxley hard to demonize for being only generally helpful? On what criteria may we base future decisions to cause just a little, allegedly inconsequential harm?


Like extending movie franchises 20 years later, old habits die hard:

Members of the Russian Communist party have called for the new Indiana Jones film to be banned in the country because they say it distorts history.

St Petersburg Communist Party chief Sergei Malinkovich told the Reuters news agency it was “rubbish”.

“Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?”

He said many Russian cinemagoers were teenagers who would be “completely unaware of what happened in 1957”, when the film is set.

Good thing the censoring communists are no longer in charge in Russia. Oh, wait.

(I liked last year’s Die Hard movie, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new Indiana Jones movie.)