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November 3, 2004

Four More Years

Bush Pumpkin

The people have spoken and, by a margin of 3.7 million or so, have chosen their pumpkin. Yes, it’s a bit soft, slightly smelly, and should have been put out at the kerb by now. But there it is.

Kerry could still win Ohio (and hence the election) in a count of provisional ballots 10 days from now1. But that would be almost worse. Both Houses of Congress are firmly in Republican control and the popular vote is unmistakably against him. Governing under such circumstances would be nigh on impossible.

This way, at least, a second Bush Administration will have to face up to the ballooning Budget deficit, the anæmic economy and the disaster they have created in Iraq. They, alone, will face responsibility for the mess.

Some discern hopeful signs that sanity (fiscal, diplomatic or strategic) will return in a 2nd Bush term. I don’t see it. Inhale deeply; we’re headed for four very smelly years…


1 By mid-day, it was clear that even that was impossible, and Kerry conceded.

Posted by distler at November 3, 2004 9:22 AM

TrackBack URL for this Entry:   http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/cgi-bin/MT-3.0/dxy-tb.fcgi/466

41 Comments & 2 Trackbacks

Re: Four More Years

Well-said.

About the only upside to this is that it is indeed the Republicans who will have to pay the price for all of Bush’s mistakes and disasters of the past 4 years. The Reps will be taking the blame of the giant deficit (which will probably be even worse in 4 years time), the Reps will be taking the blame for alienating the world and, should such an unfortunate thing happen, new terrorist attacks, etc.

Real question is, though, can 85% of this world hold their breath for 4 years without choking?

Btw, your CSS for all form fields and buttons is painfully lacking a color:#000; specification. Specifying a background color without specifying a color == warning on CSS validation page, sadly not an error because right now I can hardly read anything in the fields or on the buttons…. (just a heads up)

Posted by: Faruk Ates on November 3, 2004 11:16 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

CSS

Btw, your CSS for all form fields and buttons is painfully lacking a color:#000; specification. Specifying a background color without specifying a color == warning on CSS validation page, sadly not an error because right now I can hardly read anything in the fields or on the buttons… (just a heads up)

Very strange. First, because the color specification should be inherited (and does get inherited, in every browser I’ve tested). Second, because you are using Mozilla, the same browser I use.

Also, I don’t get any warnings from the CSS Validator. Perhaps that’s an oversight on their part…

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 3, 2004 5:07 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: CSS

Whoops!

Faruk was talking specifically about form field elements: <input>, <textarea>, <select>,... which should inherit their foreground color property, like everything else, but which, apparently don’t.

Anyway, the problem is now fixed, hereabouts.

Thanks, Faruk!

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 4, 2004 10:02 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

See Party Down, Washington Monthly, October 2004.

Posted by: Chris W. on November 3, 2004 6:28 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

As I was in the US for some time as a student, I thought I had a better understanding than most in the rest of the world about the way people think in the US. But the clean sweep has left me speechless.

This is a blank check, and I am sure GWB will use it to the hilt.

First, all the tax cuts will be made permanent, making the fiscal situation even worse. Then any financial/national emergency will be used to gut social security and medicare.

Secondly, 3 or 4 SC justice appointments which will tilt the court decisively.

Thirdly, some other countries to ‘take care of’.

And that is just the beginning….

Posted by: mfa on November 3, 2004 11:54 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

But the clean sweep has left me speechless.

It’s not exactly a clean sweep.

Bush got 51% of the popular vote. And the gap between him and Kerry (3.5 million, as of tonight) will narrow in the coming days, as the absentee ballots (5 million of them from California, alone) are counted.

This is a blank check, and I am sure GWB will use it to the hilt.

That he will take it as a decisive mandate is a foregone conclusion.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 3, 2004 10:15 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years


You are right, it is not really a clean sweep for Bush. I had not realized there were so many absentee ballots still to be counted. But it is so for the GOP. Only thing worse would have been a 2/3rd majority which would enable constitutional amendments.


Most people outside the US, including myself, are certainly very frightened by this. I do not recall ever when the US was
feared/despised so much. The damage caused
by the next four years will be immense and
last for decades, I think.

I am thinking of the British experience in 50s when they had to give up their imperial ambitions when fiscal realities finally woke them up. But they were giving up colonies not “fighting terror”: the former is a finite endeavour, the latter not. Plus, Britain did not have such a strong evangelical Christian component; seems like the 42% (?) evangelical vote is pretty much in GOPs bag, thanks to Rove et al. And any further terrorist attacks will only increase the support for the “resolute” GOP.

I hope I am wrong.

Posted by: mfa on November 4, 2004 3:45 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Why do you think Republicans will have to accept the blame for their mistakes and disasters, when they will always be able to blame them on a man hiding in a cave somewhere in the middle east, and on homosexuals.

We as the american people, on the other hand, can no longer say “don’t blame us, we didn’t elect him”.

Posted by: Kuas on November 3, 2004 12:14 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

You should listen to Kerry, your candidate. He may be the most left-wing senator, but he is still a mainstream reasonable guy compared to all of you.

He said, for example,

“In the days ahead, we must find common cause.”

Bush said similar things in his speech. So you should follow Kerry’s words, and help your president Bush to lower taxes, stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq, simplify the tax code and other laws, and help to strengthen the moral values in the society, and to help him unify the society.

Don’t you think that the elections should force you to consider the possibility that something is wrong with the way how YOU think?

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 4, 2004 9:30 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

For the rest of you non-Americans, here’s a translation into plain English.

lower taxes
Balloon the Deficit.
stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq
“We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”
simplify the tax code
Make the tax code more regressive.
and other laws
Gut environmental and Worker-Safety regulations.
strengthen the moral values in the society
Ban gay marriage.
unify the society
Support our agenda, or be labeled “unpatriotic.”

Luboš missed a few of the more popular Bush talking points, but this gives the flavour.

Don’t you think that the elections should force you to consider the possibility that something is wrong with the way how YOU think?

Even if it were true that 51% of the electorate disagreed with me on the issues, would that really imply that I am wrong?

What’s quite interesting is that the polls still indicate that, by a wide margin, the electorate agreed with Kerry’s positions on the issues. But they voted for Bush anyway (on “personality”, “leadership,” or “moral values” grounds).

That certainly is cause for those of us in the “Reality-based Community” to do some hard re-evaluation, but not for the reasons you think.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 4, 2004 11:41 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Yes, one should recommend them to try to avoid the growth of the deficit (the growth of the economy will eventually fill the holes in the budge), and think twice before a terrorist village is destroyed, but otherwise I think that the plans are more good than bad, and this is a good sub-list of the things that Bush has a mandate to do in his second term.

Yes, of course that by simplifying the tax code, it’s meant that this “progressive” nature of these 60,000 pages of the tax code will be reduced. You might like the idea that the poor pay 3 times smaller percentage of taxes than others, but others like me think that it is wrong.

Of course that simplifying other laws means eliminating a lot of irrational and inefficient regulations of the environmental and worker-safety character.

Of course that a unified society means that the society supports the agenda of its government.

Of course that banning gay marriages is a part of the moral reconstruction.

Of course that 51% of America being against you does not prove that you wrong; but it proves that in a democratic society, there exists mandate to promote the policies that you dislike so much.

Incidentally, something must be wrong with your polls that bring you results that seem to contradict the hard data obtained by summing up the votes. Media polls have no constitutionally guaranteed political consequences.

Elections is what counts, and you’ve lost these elections.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 4, 2004 5:10 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Gay-bashing

Of course that banning gay marriages is a part of the moral reconstruction.

And, indeed, it all comes down to that. The GOP won Ohio by dint of a huge (and hugely successful) get-out-the-vote effort among Christian Evangelicals.

They turned out in droves to vote to ban not just gay marriages, or civil unions, but even to prevent public universities (and other public institutions) from giving health care benefits to domestic partners.

That is what tipped the balance in Ohio, and hence the election. (It also boosted the GOP vote in 10 other states which passed similar ballot measures.)

Sorry, but I am not going to rethink my position on homophobia.

Just because there are millions of Evangelicals, who happen to hold some pretty reprehensible views, does not make them right.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 4, 2004 5:29 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Gay-bashing

You can say the same thing backwards.

Just because there are millions of gays, who happen to like …. , does not make them right.

Why do you exactly think that the evangelical beliefs are so much worse than other human acts, such as the homosexual intercourse?

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 4, 2004 7:49 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Icky

I have no problem with the beliefs of the religious in general, or of the Evangelicals in particular.

I do have a problem when they attempt to legislate those beliefs on the rest of us, whether mandating prayer in schools, banning the teaching of Evolution, banning abortion, or discriminating against gays.

Why do you exactly think that the evangelical beliefs are so much worse than other human acts, such as the homosexual intercourse?

I’m sorry you find the mere thought of gay sex so icky that legislation against it is required. Perhaps you will get lucky, and Bush’s Supreme Court appointees will decide to revisit Lawrence & Garner v. State of Texas.

Really, Luboš, you are smarter than this.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 4, 2004 9:00 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Lubos, it is just a common convention in the US that the losing presidential candidate says something conciliatory and pleasant, just as it is a convention that the president-elect says he will govern for the rather large number of people who didn’t vote for him. Neither of them mean it.

If we remember what happened before 9/11, Bush was intent on enabling federal funding to go to religious organizations, and given the large turnout of evangelical/fundamentalists now, I don’t doubt that he will try again to bring religion into the structure of government.

And if we further consider that many Bush voters have been shown in more than one survey to have remarkably inaccurate beliefs about the state of the world, it is not surprising that they should vote the way they do. The predominance of ill-informed and ignorant people does not indicate that the less ignorant minority must re-examine its beliefs.

Finally I would like Lubos to explain what he means by moral values.

Posted by: Thomas Dent on November 4, 2004 1:46 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

I know that it is a common convention in the USA for both candidates to say conciliatory remarks after the elections. Moreover, unlike you, I also know that this statement is a serious thing that makes America work and essentially unified - and only more or less antisocial elements are really out of this reconciliation after the elections.

As far as I remember, my problems with the religious people in the USA have so far been exactly equal to zero, so you hopefully don’t expect that your “threats” will make impression on me.

Your statement that Bush’s voters are more stupid than Kerry’s voters shows that you are disconnected from reality. A large percentage of Kerry’s voters can’t read, others can’t get decent jobs, and their average salary is definitely smaller than Bush’s voters.

Then there is a huge amount of left-wing intellectual voters who have very little idea about reality.

It’s mostly the left wing that relies on the (wrong) idea that the percentage of the people whose plan is to get money from the richer ones is large enough.

In other countries, it may be larger, but the USA is a successful country and the cheap left-wing rubbish and protection of the “working class” or “middle class” or however you call it and similar stuff has a very little value in American politics.

Most people don’t like this junk.

What moral values I find important? People are moral if they don’t kill and don’t steal; if they say the truth; if one can rely on their promises; if they try to help others; if they get married because of love, and not because of economical advantages (which is what I am often told is the justification of gay “marriages”); yes, also partly if they avoid physical acts that look “dirty” to others, or as evidence of their small self-control.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 4, 2004 5:23 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

the cheap left-wing rubbish and protection of the “working class” or “middle class” or however you call it and similar stuff has a very little value in American politics.

So the working class doesn’t need protection? We should roll back their gains over the past 100 years (minimum wage, the eight hour day)? Bush and co already rolled back overtime, what next, repeal the minimum wage? Or child labour laws?

if they say the truth

Where are those WMDs again?

if they try to help others; if they get married because of love, and not because of economical advantages (which is what I am often told is the justification of gay “marriages”);

You’ve been told wrong. And I speak from experiance, having just come from a vastly more enlightened place, where gay marriage is allowed (Canada). And, by the way, society didn’t collapse when they legalized gay marriage, things seemed to go just fine.

yes, also partly if they avoid physical acts that look “dirty” to others, or as evidence of their small self-control.

Proof positive that one can be a Harvard Professor, and a homophobic bigot, all at the same time.

Posted by: Matthew on November 4, 2004 8:31 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Exactly, Matthew. In a country which is not a communist country, there should be a minimum of rules that are meant to protect a chosen “class” only.

The workers are citizens like others, and their bosses are also citizens, and all of the people should be protected against wrong - and consequently illegal - behavior of others.

If someone talks about the protection of the working class only, then he’s most likely a communist which may be a great position in other countries, but it will not be appreciated in America.

Bush is, or at least tries to be, a president of all Americans.

Yes, I might be the only person who holds the same job and is not a gay activist. That only proves that the gay activists and similar stuff have been able to “filter” the faculty and make the lives for people like me virtually unbearable, and of course, it is conceivable that this terror from left-wing Nazis will just become a bit too much for me, too.

However, what I say represents the opinion of majority, while what you say represents minority. If you respected the rules of democracy, you would now shut up for some time, and you would definitely avoid attacking people with opinions like mine. The only reason why you may think that your minority opinion is superior is if you’re a pompous fool. Regular fools are OK, but pompous fools is something I can’t stand.

Incidentally:

This screwed interface declared my comment “invalid” because I wrote my first name properly. It’s sort of embarassing for Jacques that his posting system does not quite work even though 1/3 of his articles on his blog try to promote his standards of writing blogs, HTML, and math in HTML.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 6:17 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

If someone talks about the protection of the working class only, then he’s most likely a communist which may be a great position in other countries, but it will not be appreciated in America.

There was once this guy, his name was Roosevelt (first name began with an F, I can’t quite remember it… Franklin maybe). I seem to recall he was president once, and enacted a lot of measures to help the working class. Don’t rightly recall if he was a communist or not, but I don’t think so.

But seriously Lubos, you’re not reading what I write. I didn’t say “only protect the working class” I said “the working class needs some protections”. There *is* a difference, and if you cannot see it, may I politly suggest that I’m not the fool in this exchange.

Yes, I might be the only person who holds the same job and is not a gay activist. That only proves that the gay activists and similar stuff have been able to “filter” the faculty and make the lives for people like me virtually unbearable

Yes, that’s what it proves. The “gay mafia” is out to get you. I’m sure life in Cambridge is neverending torture for you.

it is conceivable that this terror from left-wing Nazis will just become a bit too much for me, too.

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

However, what I say represents the opinion of majority, while what you say represents minority. If you respected the rules of democracy, you would now shut up for some time,

Lubos, in 1960 a majority of people in the deep south believed that segregation based on skin colour was fine. Should those who opposed this have kept their mouths shut?

you would definitely avoid attacking people with opinions like mine

Sorry, I’ll point out bigotry and intolerance wherever I see it, I don’t give a damn what the “majority” thinks.

The only reason why you may think that your minority opinion is superior is if you’re a pompous fool.

It’s not an opinion, bigot. It’s a question of *equal*rights*. Again, were those that fought for civil rights in the south “pompous fools”? The majority is not “always right”.

Regular fools are OK, but pompous fools is something I can’t stand.

Well we’re even then, homophobic bigots are people I can’t stand.

I’ll bow out here, feel free to have the last word, you’re hanging yourself with your own words far more effectivly than I ever could.

Posted by: Matthew on November 5, 2004 7:41 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

I’ll confine myself to two points, and let Matthew handle the rest, if he hasn’t tired of you.

If you respected the rules of democracy, you would now shut up for some time, and you would definitely avoid attacking people with opinions like mine.

No, that’s not how Democracy works, Luboš. Democracy is not simply a synonym for “Majority Rules.” I know you never got to sit through a High School Civics class, much less a serious class on Political Theory, like Gov 10. But, really, surely you know that the theorists of Democracy (upon whose thoughts our system is based) worried as much about the “tyranny of the majority” as they did about the dangers of “faction.”

This screwed interface declared my comment ‘invalid’ because I wrote my first name properly. It’s sort of embarassing for Jacques that his posting system does not quite work even though 1/3 of his articles on his blog try to promote his standards of writing blogs, HTML, and math in HTML.

What doesn’t work, exactly? Using nothing more than a standard American keyboard, you can produce an š by typing &scaron; or &#353;. If you have a Central-Europeen keyboard, you can type an š directly. Since my form sports an accept-charset ="iso-8859-1" attribute, your š will be converted to &#353; (or &#x161;, depending on your browser) automatically when the form is POSTed.

I just tested inputting a raw š into the form, under Windows XP and IE/6.0 (yes, I stooped so low). It worked fine for me. It’s not working for you? Why?

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 5, 2004 8:10 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

I also worry about the tyranny of the majority. The problem is that the tyrannic ones are you.

Matthew has even explicitly stated his incredible point that he believes that it is inappropriate for a Harvard professor to oppose gay marriages.

It’s not the worst shock of this type that happened to me during the last week - the other, worse thing, looks so incredible that I can’t even tell you what it was.

I believe that people like Matthew are very dangerous for the very basics of democracy.

My central european š is not accepted in the “Name” field, and your scripts return “your posting is invalid” and refuse to post it.

This is sort of in agreement with your approach to politics - there should be infinitely many rules that decide whether my posting is HTML@#R%Y(*@$*Y@* valid, and zillions of other rules that are meant to protect the working class, give homosexuals tax advantages for having sex with one another, and all these things that you promote so intensely.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 1:26 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

I also worry about the tyranny of the majority. The problem is that the tyrannic ones are you.

Amazing that you feel tyrannized, given that your side just won a “crushing” majority.

I have no patience with right-wingers whining about how “oppressed” they are. They control the White House, both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, AM talk-radio and most of Cable TV news. It appears that your sense of oppression won’t be lifted until all opposing voices are squelched.

Matthew has even explicitly stated his incredible point that he believes that it is inappropriate for a Harvard professor to oppose gay marriages.

John Kerry opposes gay marriage. From what you’ve said above, it’s clear that your issues with gay people run far deeper.

My central european š is not accepted in the “Name” field, and your scripts return “your posting is invalid” and refuse to post it.

Worked just fine for me. Presumably, you forgot the trailing “;” on &scaron;.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 5, 2004 1:49 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

I also find it amazing and unbelievable how can I be so tyrannized even though my side just seems to have won the elections in all directions.

Nevertheless, it is reality. I write something on my blog, and the left-wing movement just can’t stand it. The same thing occurs if I answer some of your questions here.

Sure, I find it more important and reasonable to have 50% Republicans at the physics departments than 50% of women or 50% of homosexuals. Nevertheless, there seems to be a huge desire in the left-wing movement to reduce the percentage of the conservatives and Republicans - no doubt, the most vulnerable minority at the US universities - to become zero.

Ask Matthew. Ask Maire. Ask Maureen. Ask all these left-wing radicals. All of them will tell you the same thing.

I’ve never had any issues with gay people. I am just saying that avoiding homosexual contacts seems to be the more moral choice according to my moral values, and I find it irrelevant what John Kerry says about it. Sure that my opinions on these issues don’t mimick the most left-wing senator, should they? I am a conservative person, so be sure that my opinions will be closer to some people in the conservative base.

I insist that your blog never accepts my š in the Name field if I write it using my CE keyboard.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 7:37 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Sigh. I’m not going to argue with you anymore, but I do want to clear up one point, since you’re misrepresenting what I said. I would appreciate a retraction, but I’m not hopeful.


Matthew has even explicitly stated his incredible point that he believes that it is inappropriate for a Harvard professor to oppose gay marriages.

No, what “Matthew explicitly stated” was the following:

“Proof positive that one can be a Harvard Professor, and a homophobic bigot, all at the same time.”

I never once suggested that you shouldn’t be a Harvard professor, since you’re being a Harvard professor is tied to your (obvious) skill as a theorectial physicist.

Your statements in this discussion, on the other hand, also illustrate that you are a homophobe. One is related to the other only in that I would expect Harvard professors in 2004 to be more enlightened than Cotton Mather. I was, sadly, wrong.

Hope that clears this up. I hate to repeat myself, but please do try to read what I write. That way you’ll be responding to what I actually believe, and not to what you think I believe.

Posted by: Matthew on November 5, 2004 1:52 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

While I share the views of JD and Mathew in this discussion, I actually understand where LM is coming from. Apologies in advance if I misinterpret anyone’s views.

No, I don’t think LM is a *homophobe*; no one who dedicates his thesis to people who suffered under totalitarianism and fascism is a bigot. It is clear he does not like the idea of homosexual sex,but I don’t think he would want those people to end up in jail for that or get hanged for that (correct me if I am wrong, LM). I think a lot of the argument is really lack of “cultural understanding” on his part of what his words mean in the American context. Let me explain in greater detail below.

What LM does not realize is that people in the US holding bigoted thoughts don’t openly come out and say bigoted things. They use “code words” like “state’s rights”, which on the surface to an outsider seems reasonable (what is so bad about more autonomy?), but to the racists in the south really means the good old days of slavery. Likewise, words like “quotas” and “affirmative action” are really code words for putting women and minorities back in the “golden” pre-Civil Rights era.

However, if someone, *ESPECIALLY*, in a position of authority, openly comes out and says something like “homosexuality is immoral”, at least in the American context, it does not merely mean it is “icky”; it means people should be punished (flogged/hanged) for that “deviant” behaviour. Imagine a headline in conservative publication headlined “Harvard Prof agrees gays are deviant and immoral”… Thus, people in position of prestige and power have to be extra careful.


That is why what LM said regarding gays and gay marriage *frightened* me and others.

From LM’s point of view, he was merely stating an opinion. He does not see why his display of free speech should be condemned. He sees people mostly in academia, most of them ‘liberal’. So he sees it is an “oppressive” liberal majority, that has different views on issues like that.

What Lubos *genuinely* does not realize is that this frightens people like Mathew and myself precisely because we are interpreting that he is in agreement with Delay, Falwell and the like. Although the Repubs use rhetoric like “compassionate conservatism” and the like, watch their actions.

Just one of many examples (from http://www.thenation.com/blogs/outrage?bid=13): “A Republican’s campaign employed the “Southern Strategy” by sending out mailings reading “The dogs are lining up to vote for Tom Daschle,”–a reference to old racist store signs that used to say “No Dogs or Indians Allowed.” As if blatant racism wasn’t enough, Republicans sent out “Vote for Daschle and Vote for Sodomy” stickers to churches across the state.”

Tell me LM, is that decent? Do you really want to be associated with them?

As Jacques pointed out, the right-wingers already “control the White House, both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, AM talk-radio and most of Cable TV news”. In these times, it is hard not to feel defensive and afraid.

Yes, there is a place for free speech of all types, including the ‘liberals’ who are now definitely on the defensive. When the liberals were in the ascendant, they allowed people like Rush Limbaugh spout right-wing nonsense. Do you think the right-wing will allow such courtesy to the left? No!

As Bush said in his speech:
“We’ve worked hard and gained many new friends, and the result is now clear – a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory.” Yeah, “broad, nationawide victory” indeed.

And “I will reach out to every one who shares our goals.” really means “My way or the highway.” or
“You’re either with us or against us.” Don’t believe us? Just watch what he does.

These are not pleasant times.

“I think a large part of the public likes the conservatives’ theme music. Now they will be tested on whether they like the lyrics.”
– Barney Frank, Brookline TAB, Nov. 4th, 2004.

Posted by: mfa on November 5, 2004 3:41 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Hi mfa,

I understand what you’re getting at, but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Look at what he said in this discussion, most notably the following:


People are moral […] if they get married because of love, and not because of economical advantages (which is what I am often told is the justification of gay “marriages”); yes, also partly if they avoid physical acts that look “dirty” to others, or as evidence of their small self-control.

That is the position of a homophobe: Gays want to get married not because thef love each other, but for “economical advantage”; they should avoid acts that look “dirty” and show they lack self-control.

One does not have to want to see homosexuals jailed for them to be a homophobe. The segregationists didn’t want to jail blacks, yet racists they were. While I don’t think opposition to gay marriage is homophobic (though opposition to full rights civil unions is), I do think that the position that somebody must “avoid acts that look dirty” in order to be moral is.

My apolgies if I misinterpreted your position. But from where I sit, Lubos is a homophobe.

Posted by: Matthew on November 5, 2004 4:22 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Otherwise, Matthew, I was not talking about the homosexual acts only when I was defining what is moral.

I also meant drinking alcohole, taking drugs, having sex with tens of different girls, and so on - all these things, including homosexual sex, have negative moral flavor in my eyes. The ability to resist is a part of my moral values as I understand them.

I also think that it is wrong if someone has sex with girls under 14 years - and this is probably a part of the law in most countries. There can also be pedophile human right activists who insist that it is OK to have a sex with small girls if they agree (after they get a gift), and the government should give the man tax breaks. ;-)

I have no idea what you think about this proposal, Matthew - because your opinions seem to a random combination of undefendable extremist viewpoints. The only thing I am sure about is that your opinion about this thing will also be extreme. You will either think that the pedophiles have the full right to have sex with children who agree, and all the advantages associated with marriage, or you will think that the pedophiles must be executed because they totally violate the rights of all others, even if all of them agree.

You just seem uncapable to understand the subtle differences and many different arguments and counter-arguments in all these contexts, which is why your opinion does not seem justified at all to rationally thinking people. It is just a collection of irrational fundamentalist extreme positions.

I am absolutely sure that it is a legal and legitimate approach to think that it is more moral to avoid an explicit homosexual intercourse, and I don’t care whether it’s called homophobia or not. Depending on the details, I may be or may not be counted as a homophobe. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophobe

At any rate, I am pretty sure that I am not violating any law - not even moral rules of the Church. ;-)

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 5:39 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

I don’t want to argue about this anymore, but so long as you keep putting words in my mouth, I will respond. And I’ll continue to ask for a retraction.


I have no idea what you think about this proposal, Matthew - because your opinions seem to a random combination of undefendable extremist viewpoints. The only thing I am sure about is that your opinion about this thing will also be extreme. You will either think that the pedophiles have the full right to have sex with children who agree, and all the advantages associated with marriage, or you will think that the pedophiles must be executed because they totally violate the rights of all others, even if all of them agree.

Could you please stop putting words in my mouth? For the record, I think pedophiles should be put in prison for lengthy jail terms, which I don’t suppose is extreme in any way shape or form.


You just seem uncapable to understand the subtle differences and many different arguments and counter-arguments in all these contexts,

Yes Lubos, that’s it. You’re arguements are just so subtle and nuanced. That must be why you have to resort to putting words in my mouth, and makeing up strawmen. When it doubt, claim your opponant is soft on child rapers, that always works.


which is why your opinion does not seem justified at all to rationally thinking people

Well, I don’t presume to speak for Jacques , but I’m reasonably sure that his opinion on this issue (the rights of gays) is roughly the same as mine. I’d consider him a “rationally thinking person”. Of course, he’s free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Posted by: Matthew on November 5, 2004 7:01 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Of course that your position is extreme, exactly as I expected in one of these two scenarios.

On one hand, you find it totally OK if people have homosexual contacts, that you want to upgrade to the same status as marriage, quoting that their orientation (well, and the intercourse, too, right) deserves the same respect as the straight orientation, and all this stuff.

On the other hand, the people who apparently have yet another orientation - namely pedophilia - are total losers in your eyes. What is exactly the difference that makes pedophiles total losers while the homosexuals are the total winners who should get extra tax breaks?

It’s just nonsense. The difference is not that large, these are just different points on the colorful spectrum of possible sexual orientations and deviations and whatever else, and I don’t think that you have ever thought about these things rationally for more than 30 seconds if you propose “lengthy jail terms” for one group of people, and “tax advantages” for other group of people that is doing a very similar thing based on a very similar minority sexual orientation.

All of you are horrible fundamentalists.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 7:44 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Off the deep end

I go out for dinner, and look what happens…

On the other hand, the people who apparently have yet another orientation - namely pedophilia - are total losers in your eyes. What is exactly the difference that makes pedophiles total losers while the homosexuals are the total winners who should get extra tax breaks?

You’re not seriously attempting to equate homosexual sex (between consenting adults) with pædophilia (the sexual exploitation of children)?

That is really, really weird.

If you can’t figure out the difference for yourself, I think you pretty much disqualify yourself from discussing “morality and civil society.”

C’mon Luboš you really are smarter than this.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 5, 2004 8:38 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Off the deep end

First of all, you should try to read more carefully. I was explicitly defining the situation so that everyone else agreed, especially the child. The child has another orientation, namely (s)he is attracted to Mickey Mouse, Michael Jackson, and old people.

Second, pedophilia is not crime. Pedophilia is a sexual orientation based on attraction to children as potential under-aged sexual partners, much like homosexuality is sexual attraction to the people of the same sex.

If you think that there is some totally revolutionary difference between these two orientations, or deviations, or however we call them, you must be doing something very, very wrong. The old religions captured the relations between these phenomena in better agreement with science than your new religion.

Third, if you think that I should be eliminated from debates, it by no means suggests that my critical importance in these debates is smaller than it is before your statement. It is just your totalitarian instinct - the instinct of *every* left-wing radical - that you want to eliminate everyone who disagrees with you.

Your comrades have done it many times, and they’ve tried to make it unsuccessfully hundreds of times afterwards. Every society based on radical left-wing ideas is *inevitably* totalitarian, and all of you are proving it in every sentence.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 9:23 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Off the deep end

First of all, you should try to read more carefully. I was explicitly defining the situation so that everyone else agreed, especially the child. The child has another orientation, namely (s)he is attracted to Mickey Mouse, Michael Jackson, and old people.

If you think that a child can give meaningful consent, then there is something quite seriously wrong.

There’s a reason why children are not allowed to vote. There’s a reason why children are treated more leniently than adults when they are accused of committing a crime. And there’s a reason why pædophilia is a crime in every society I know of.

Second, pedophilia is not crime.

It sure is.

If you think that there is some totally revolutionary difference between these two orientations, or deviations, or however we call them, you must be doing something very, very wrong.

Since you’ve already said that you don’t believe that homosexuality should be a crime, and you now claim a complete moral equivalence between homosexuality and pædophilia, should we conclude that you also believe that pædophilia should be decriminalized?

I guess we should, as you seem to think that it already has been.

Look, this is getting really, really weird. Please think about what you are saying before posting again.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 5, 2004 9:44 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Off the deep end

Are you so dumb, Jacques? This just looks incredible.

I said that pedophilia is not crime.

Pedophilia is the condition of people whose primary sexual attraction is toward prepubescent children.

This is an encyclopedic definition of Pedophilia, see e.g.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia

I encourage you to learn what it is.

Why I raised this issue is because all of you are feeding us with the crap that every person has to right to marry whatever other individual or object he or she loves.

If you really mean this, then it means that pedophiles should be allowed to marry children, too.

It’s nonsense, even if the children agreed, simply because this would be viewed as very sick, and spiritually devastating, especially for the kid.

In the same way, having sex with a person of the same sex is not viewed as equivalent to the acts that nature has designed to reproduce the mammals.

You’re just not willing to see that what is acceptable and what is not acceptable depends on the society, and if you in particular appreciate homosexual intercourse, it by no means mean that others must do the same thing.

At the end, you even say that pedophilia - which is just a different, but equally atypical, form of homosexual orientation is even a “crime” - which of course is not. Underage sex is a crime, but underage sex is something very different from pedophilia.

Homosexuality is something different from homosexual intercourse, too. It would be great if you were willing to learn how to distinguish these two.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 6, 2004 6:17 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Off the deep end

Why I raised this issue is because all of you are feeding us with the crap that every person has to right to marry whatever other individual or object he or she loves.

If you really mean this, then it means that pedophiles should be allowed to marry children, too.

That was a complete non sequitur before, and remains a complete non sequitur, now that you have explained yourself.

Since you’ve made clear that you already understand why this is a non sequitur, maybe you could just apologize to Matt and we can drop this whole ridiculous discussion.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 6, 2004 8:59 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years


Hi Matt,

I understand (and agree) with what you wrote regarding your label.

I suppose what I was really trying to get at was that labels (like stalinists, homophobe etc) can sometimes be unhelpful for discussions as they can be misinterpreted, which gets some people defensive and the discourse goes downhill from then on ;)

Sorry for the confusion!

Anyway, greetings from a Canuck (as you know, where the judges sanctioned gay marriage, some loudly complained but most people simply shrugged and moved on and the one party that made it a big issue lost in the recent election).

mfa

Posted by: mfa on November 6, 2004 3:34 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Hey mfa, I think it was decent what you wrote.

I’ve never wanted to open the topic of gay marriage because it’s a sensitive topic on one hand, but on the other hand it does not seem as a controversial topic in most of the US society, for example. It was started by someone else here, and I was automatically accused from many things.

Some people believe that the gay marriage is the civil right topic for the next decade, and they create the feeling that it is immoral to consider homosexual intercourse as less important and holy than the usual one.

Well, in a democratic society, declaring moral value as parts of the law requires some direct or indirect support from the majority of the people. Such a change of the US constitution has not occured for 216 years or so, and I don’t believe it will.

You can ask me what I think about homosexuality. None has done so yet.

I have no serious problem with the idea that some other people have sex with people of the same gender - as long as they don’t show me what they’re doing. Yes, I would still view it as more moral if the people avoided - much like I find it more moral if people are able to avoid drugs and alcohole.

Much like Bush, I sort of feel compassionate about the gays, and on the other hand, I am sure that they can be doing everything else just like the straight people, and they should not have any problems to keep their composure and self-confidence.

If a gay tries to pick me, of course that he is doomed to fail, but on the other hand, I am not insulted by it - it is flattering even though less fortunate than a similar case from women. ;-)

But if someone proposes that the homosexual relations should be rewarded e.g. by tax advantages - advantages that we, single straight people, don’t even have ourselves - then my answer is quite a resolute No, even though, of course, I would survive if someone introduced it.

The family is a unit important for the society and its future. Families can be childrenless, but they’re still created with the purpose to create the environment for raising new children - especially in an emotionally positive atmosphere, if it is possible. If someone says that the purpose of the family is to f**k anyone or anything, depending on one’s tastes, and this f**king is what justifies various types of support from the country, then he or she has really very different moral values than I do.

Otherwise, I don’t care about your code words. In my opinion it must be absolutely clear that what I am saying, if interpreted correctly without some undefinable codes, is manifestly legal, moral, and plausible, and the accusations of bigotry are just not satisfied.

I don’t believe that the question today is about putting gays in the prison - this may have been relevant during Hitler’s era in Germany, but not later. The issue today is definitely whether gay relations should be put on equal footing as marriage and family relations, and my answer, much like the answer of majority of America, is No.

I don’t believe that the South or someone else important in the USA (large groups of people) want to put women or minorities to the pre-civil era. This may be your polarized interpretation, but it is completely wrong. The people who believe that women should be banned from universities, for example, are irrelevant in the USA. It’s only for the left-wing extremists, who believe that any deviation from the statistically predicted percentage (50% of women, 10% of blacks, etc.) in any field indicates that something is wrong with the field.

This is a left-wing form of Nazism, and it is not surprising that the people with these extreme opinions view all mainstream people, with a balanced common sense approach, as right-wing bigots. It’s simply because EVERYONE who is not an extremist of the same type looks like a bigot from the extremist’s viewpoint.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 5:20 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years


Hi Lubos,

I agree labels are counterproductive. However, saying someone is Stalinist is not helpful either.

Looks like you are actually quite reasonable, despite some of the things you wrote.

As far as I can make out, your problem with gay marriage/civil union stems from tax disadvantages for singles relative to married couples. Well that is a whole different story. Would your opposition to gay marriage (I know you don’t like it) disappear if singles got the same tax benefits as couples (of any kind)?

You *greatly underestimate* the level of bigotry in parts of the US. There definitely was bigotry before the 60s, and it did not disappear overnight. Otherwise, there would be no “Southern strategy”.

(Please watch “To Kill a Mockingbird” sometime. You will see an example of what is truly “moral”, what makes (well, used to, at any rate) people the world over truly admire America.)

Having lived in US and Canada, I can tell you that there is a lot more tension between blacks and whites in the US than is there in Canada. American blacks who visit Canada of tell that they are much less harassed in Canada than in the US. And blacks in Canada have NEVER complained (at least in recent times) that they were being harassed when casting their vote, as they do even now in the US.

And I have also met/seen a few Southern/Midwestern whites who were extremely charming and friendly (one of them ended up in Yale law school) who sometimes would casually say things like “blacks are lazy and always complaining” and “things were actually quite good for the blacks before the 1960s” etc.

Similar things can be said about discrimination of gays, women and other minorities. And no, they are not all Stalinists.

So *please* don’t dismiss lightly concerns about discrimination and need for laws to protect them.

And *please* do not make the error of accepting only those things as facts that fit your pre-conceived notions. I have often changed my opinions (such as whether or not women/blacks are really discriminated against) when I saw the facts. Sometimes, those facts are subtle and harder to find, but they are out there if one is willing to listen.

All the best,

mfa

Posted by: mfa on November 6, 2004 4:36 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Your attempts to pretend that you have some traces of respect to the freedom of speech are simply too late, Matthew.

Imagine how unthinkable it would be if a statement like yours were applied not to a minority that “is allowed to be attacked” - as you believe - namely the right-wing scholars, but instead would be referring to someone from a minority that “cannot be touched”.

The 100% analogy of your statement (let’s simply copy and paste your sentence and modify 6 letters) would be:

Matthew^{-1}: “Proof positive that one can be a Harvard Professor, and a homosexual faggot, all at the same time.”

I think that if this Matthew^{-1} wrote something like that, they would probably fire him. Well, obviously, conservatives don’t have even 1% of this protection.

Posted by: Lubos Motl on November 5, 2004 9:28 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Lubos: ‘my problems with the religious people in the USA have so far been exactly equal to zero, so you hopefully don’t expect that your “threats” will make impression on me.’

Of course, living in college towns, and now Harvard, where gay civil unions are now legal, you will not see anything. And not being let us say a single mother or a homosexual you would probably not be affected wherever you are. But, many people living in small towns in the Republican-dominated areas *do* have big problems with religious bigots. You will not hear any threats. But if you are a gay person living in Oklahoma you may hear some threats.

I did not say that Bush voters were more stupid. I said they tended to believe things about the world and about the candidates which were incorrect. This has been shown by more than one survey, the statistical details of which you can easily find.

Your survey of moral values is quite irrelevant to the choice between the two candidates. Government cannot enforce morality without depriving people of freedom, and therefore should not.

Killing and stealing don’t seem to be a reason for voting for Bush over Kerry.

Truth-telling and reliability are not reliable methods to distinguish between politicians: you always believe that the guy you like tells the truth and the other guy lied.

I am really flabbergasted that you think that a person’s reason for marrying another person is something on which the state should intervene. If there is one subject on which it is impossible for the government to enforce anything, it is love. Therefore, it is rather creepy that you think the issue of whether people marry for love is a reason to prefer one candidate to another.

It is much more creepy if you think one candidate can enforce any policy with respect to people who ‘lack self-control’ or do ‘physical acts which look dirty to others’ -(by the way, who are these others who are looking??). What can the government do on this count? Only prosecuting people for doing things in private which do not harm anyone. This is against freedom.

You are also deceived about any correlation between sexuality and self-control, which is pure prejudice.

Posted by: Thomas Dent on November 5, 2004 7:38 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Yes, the people have chosen their pumpkin alright–the one with all the intra-cranial pulpy matter scooped out. The next 4 years can only get worse as this shady administration tightens its grip.

If you are not convinced then lets briefly reviews GWBs track record so far:
he has squandered a governemnt surplus and looted the treasury running up the largest Federal Budget deficit in history; he has presided over the largest number of personal bankrupcies ever recorded; billions of $ have been given to the ultra rich via unbalanced tax cuts; his largest campaign contributer and personal friend was the architect behind the largest corporate swindle in history, without being punished in any way for ruining the finances of thousands of Enron investers and employees; he has trashed environmental protection policies; his policy decisions are always such that they favour special interest groups over the American people;he has created more beaurocracy and government machinary; he presided over the worst ever failure in national security on 9/11; the Patriot Act, a serious threat to civil liberties and the Constitution, has enabled John Ashcroft–the sort of shady man Agent Mulder might meet in a dark park in the x-files–to arrest over 5000 people on “charges of suspected terrorism” holding them for indefinite periods without a conviction or access to a lawyer.

He has the American people in the grip of fear and paranoia making them believe they are in grave peril and that only he can save them from inevitable “terra attacks”. And of course there is the “war on terra”, which is going very badly indeed. He said he was going to “git” Bin Laden and bring him to justice no matter what. Failing to “git” BL he instead started a war/invasion of Iraq, opening a veritable Pandora’s Box, on the grounds that S. Hussain was somehow behind 9/11 and had WMDs and was going to use them. These were proven totally false beyond any doubt. (Incidently, how difficult is it to find a guy who is 7 feet tall with a 3-foot beard and turban, who is supposed to need dialysis and who regularly sends tapes to tv stations in the Middle East??). So far we have 100,000 dead Iraqis and over 1,100 dead US troops, and counting, plus the horror of regular kidnappings and beheadings. I could go on and on but you get the picture. These are facts. It is a total mess on both domestic and foreign fronts.

So what of the next 4 years?
I assume the middle class will take a bigger tax burden; the budget deficit will become comparable to the possible number of string vacuua; services for the poor and middle class will evaporate and Evangelical Christainity will become the official state religion; and there could even be a draft. Maybe I exaggerate but anything is possible now that he has a “mandate from the people”. We already have an unending war on an unseen enemy just like in Orwell’s 1984. I have Jewish friends in the US who have been particularly disturbed by the “Patriot Act” and I know people whose lives have gotton much harder these past 3 years. Sadly we have Tony Blair over here who is GWB’s poodle. Only the Beagle2 Mars probe has ever had to depend on a more useless and unreliable airbag. Anyway my 2c on the matter. Sorry to rant on but it does’nt look too good from over here.

Posted by: Steve M on November 5, 2004 2:24 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Four More Years

Lubos,

Just curious – exactly which moral principle is it that implies that two people who love each other deeply should be denied the right to get married and enjoy the usual rights of marriage just because they happen to be both men or both women?

We were reading your comments here and were wondering what the source of your deep moral disgust was. There were some interesting (pop-psychology-obvious) speculations, but we figured it would be best to ask you directly.

Posted by: f on November 5, 2004 10:06 PM | Permalink | Reply to this
Read the post Unretouched
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Excerpt: Halloween pumpkin, 2008.
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Read the post Happy Halloween تحرير ليبيا
Weblog: Musings
Excerpt: Pumpkin 2011
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