Still can’t focus.

I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out whether I was more like Harry Kalas (speaking) or Chris Wheeler (you’ll see) last night.

The Phillies won the World Series, so there’s an obvious choice among the two behaviors.

I spent $34 to fill my car’s gas tank.

I have about $15 free to spend on other things now that I wouldn’t have had in August. I should be punished because I now have money that Shell should have. Wouldn’t Shell be justified in demanding a tax on that windfall gain, if we’re to believe politicians (i.e. economic illiterates)?

I assume Shell would demand the proceeds of that tax rather than the more generous gesture consistently implied by The People’s representatives, which is that the Treasury can keep the punishment for the brazen theft from consumers perpetuated by the greedy capitalist oil companies. They are greedy capitalists, after all.

Headlines can be misleading.

Reading USA Today I encountered this headline:

Majority of economists in USA TODAY survey back 2nd stimulus

I was skeptical, so I skimmed the article to figure out how the paper got to such an unlikely conclusion. Will you be surprised that the headline derives from this?

Congress should pass a second economic stimulus bill that could include tax cuts, an extension of unemployment benefits, or funds for roads and bridges, say a majority of economists polled recently by USA TODAY.

Thirty-two of the 43 economists (74%) who answered the question last week in a survey by USA TODAY said lawmakers should pass a stimulus bill to soften the blow. “It won’t keep us from going into recession,” PMI Group chief economist David Berson says. “But it may make the difference in preventing a worse recession.”

“Majority of economists who responded to USA Today Survey back 2nd stimulus” is not quite the same, is it? It loses a little punch. At the expense of some truth, since self-selected responses to a politically charged question is hardly objective. But the news isn’t about the objective, I suppose.

Note: Every blog entry can’t be a winner. I’m distracted by the World Series, so I needed to flex my blogging muscles.

Stealing from another is not compassionate to the robbed.

I didn’t watch the debate on Wed. night, so I have little background to understand the context of Senator McCain’s discussion of abortion beyond what I read from various people who live-blogged the debate. That is admittedly incomplete. From what I can piece together, this blog entry at Flotsam (link via Dooce) is an excellent rebuttal to McCain’s attitude. But I wish to point out one flaw in the entry:

McCain states that he would deal with the issue of abortion with “courage and compassion.” I quote: “the courage of a pregnant mother to bring her child into the world and the compassion of civil society to meet her needs and those of her newborn baby.” As if terminating my pregnancy would be the easy way out, the way not requiring his precious “courage.” As if dictating my medical care based upon his religious beliefs is compassionate. And I find it interesting to note that his “compassion” for this newborn does not extend to guaranteeing it health insurance.

First, McCain is pandering on abortion. I do not believe he cares. He’s trying to secure the Republican base with a few well-rehearsed lies. That makes him a scumbag, but for his pandering, not his position.

More importantly, the issue at stake is the right to control one’s own body, an issue I care deeply about. As much as I personally do not like abortion, I recognize that this is the issue involved. That matters as a principle of individual liberty. I believe it’s incomplete as an absolute when considering abortion, but not in a self-evident, attack-proof manner. It’s a complicated issue that will never be clear enough for a definitive policy. Therefore, we must err on the side of the individual with the clearer claim. Restrictions based on science are not abhorrent, but abortion should be legal, generally.

I do not get how that right to control one’s own body creates a right to have someone else provide material support (i.e. money for medical insurance) to care for the child. If a woman and her partner make the choice to have a child, it’s their obligation to support the child. In not guaranteeing health insurance, McCain is correct. His stated position is more logically consistent in that he’s saying people choosing to have children are responsible for everything involved, from start to finish, which is different from this blogger’s apparent belief that individual’s are responsible for the good (children, yay!), while society is responsible for at least some of the bad (health care expenses, boo!). No. This is a cheap straw man.

McCain is wrong on abortion. Attack that. He is cruel because he uses air quotes where compassion and understanding are necessary. Attack that. But he is not cruel because he won’t offer “free” health insurance.

Finland should legalize honor killings, too, since the individual doesn’t matter.

I don’t know the intricacies of Finnish law. I don’t need to know them to know that this is obscene.

A circumcision performed on a Muslim boy in Finland was not a penal offence, Finland’s Supreme Court (KKO) decided Friday in a precedent setting case.

However, according to the Supreme Court a circumcision done for religious reasons helped the son in the development of his identity. The operation also helped him to become attached to his religious and social community.

How does the court know it helped him in his identity? What they mean is that they assume it will help him develop his identity as a Muslim because Muslim’s circumcise. That is an appeal to subjugating the individual to the group. It is anti-liberty. At some point, preferably sooner, tradition must be analyzed for what it is, not how long it has been around, or which non-legally-binding books demand it.

It gets much, much worse:

The court decided that the child’s parent was allowed to decide on the operation as it was not against the interests of the child. The boy’s bodily integrity was violated only a little and as the operation was conducted under local anaesthetic, it did not cause the child unnecessary suffering.

Why not say it’s okay to rape women, as long as the rapist wears a condom? I mean, it’s not like he’ll get her pregnant or give her a disease. It only violates her bodily integrity a little. Some counseling, a bit of time, and voila, the problem disappears.

Just like circumcision only removes a few thousand nerve endings and some tissue. So what if he’s healthy and surgery imposes objective risks. He¹ will be thankful, as long as his parents’ subjective opinion demands it. It’s minor, really. It’s not for the individual to complain. It’s merely his body, and what is that, really?

The only valid precedent set by the Finnish Supreme Court is that its judges are insane anti-liberty cretins. Demonstrated by Finland’s existing prohibition on female genital mutilation, they’re also disgusting hypocrites.

¹ Or she? Her opinion is also irrelevant, subject to whatever whim her parents hold, right?

Which Atlas Shrugged character is he?

I’ve been wrapped up in playoff baseball for the majority of the last three weeks. Much of the world is passing through my filter with scant attention. But Senator Obama managed to poke through that filter with a loooooong commercial about taxes. I sat dumbfounded through the second minute because I couldn’t believe he’d use such an obvious pander. From the ad:

On taxes, John McCain and I have very different ideas. Instead of giving hundreds of billions in new tax breaks to big corporations and oil companies, I’ll cut taxes for small and startup businesses that are the backbone of our economy.

Instead of more tax breaks for corporations that outsource American jobs, I’ll give them to companies who create jobs here. Instead of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest — I’ll focus on you.

If he is speaking to all Americans, as he clearly wants us to believe, who are the non-“you” taxpayers he is speaking about rather than to? Has there ever been a clumsier example of creating a “Them” for “Us” to despise?

Senator Obama may think he can pass off his class warfare bribe as an enlightened, good-for-society measure. Given the unthinking, partisan nature of much of America, he’ll probably pull it off with his half of the electorate. That does not change the undeniable fact that there is a group – consisting of “all men are created equal” Americans – he thinks he can harm because a) they have something he wants and b) they’re a minority of the population to be demagogued into submission. How very progressive.