SteveG's blog

A Modest Proposal for Richard Cohen


Richard Cohen has written a column asking that we have an open-minded fair consideration of torture. sure, he admits, Cheney has been a liar. But what if he was right?

"If Cheney is right, then let the debate begin: What to do about enhanced interrogation methods? Should they be banned across the board, always and forever? Can we talk about what is and not just what ought to be?"

The First Amendment and The Ambiguity of Marriage

This is an interesting post that came several days ago. I meant to front-page it but somehow it got overlooked, so I am rectifying the omission, carol. Originally posted 2009-03-19 06:50:18 -0500.

Some marriages in Pennsylvania are being annulled. Not because of domestic strife, but because of over-zealous county clerks with political agendas.

In 2004, Michelle and Marc planned to marry in Philadelphia and get their license in Bucks County - a decision influenced only by the office's proximity to their home in Hatboro.

They were acting within the law, of course. Couples can buy their marriage licenses in any one of Pennsylvania's 67 counties and hold their ceremonies in any other.

So how, the Toths now wonder, is their marriage considered legal in Montgomery County, but possibly null and void in Bucks?

The short answer is that the people responsible for issuing marriage licenses - the 67 elected clerks of Orphans Court - are at odds with one another. And the growing ranks of couples using a nontraditional officiant or no officiant at all are getting caught in the conflict.

On one side are clerks, such as those in Bucks and Delaware counties, who want the state marriage-license law tightened. They say the institution of marriage is being sullied, if not undermined, by nontraditional ministers and those who they believe are irreligious, liberal couples seeking to stretch the law.

On the other side are clerks, including those in Philadelphia, Chester, and Montgomery counties, who say the law is clear as long as it is read without bias. Their position has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union. (This issue does not exist in New Jersey.)

Drill Here, Drill Now: Return of Cage and Frame

promoted -- cho

As a philosopher concerned with logic and language, political speech provides ready to hand examples of standard fallacies from opponent caricaturing ad hominem attacks to position misconstruing strawman arguments. But we should take note of a intricate rhetorical ploy that has that is dominating the discourse from the McCain campaign recently, specifically in the cases of off-shore drilling and the efficacy of the surge. We can call this trick the "cage and frame" strategy.

Every politician has subjects he or she wants to keep from discussing and tries to keep them hidden away safely out of view in a rhetorical cage. Candidates usually take their cue from magicians by employing a tactic of misdirection – hey, look over there, it’s someone burning a flag while taking the Ten Commandments from a courthouse. This move, what logicians call a "red herring," is generally effective. But if the topic is urgent, a more sophisticated bit of sophistry is required.

In Praise of Ralph Nader and Obama's Hope

Let me begin by saying that I understand that if Nader had not run in 2000, Bush would not have been made President, there would be no war in Iraq, torture would not be a live issue, the economy would be in better shape,... That being said, Ralph Nader has long been a hero of mine for good reason and his place in American politics is a good and necessary one.

On Clintocracy

promoted - roxy

One misunderstanding that leads to the easy polution of our political discourse surrounding the Presidential race is that we seem not to realize is that the President is not a person. We have this leftover monarchic picture of the lone ruler sitting in a throne in the Oval Office dictating the way the country runs. The fact is the President is a team, a group of individuals performing a number of roles all needed to keep a very large government operating. This team is made up of close friends and trusted advisers of the team captain whose name appears on the ballot, but by pulling that lever, pushing that electronic touch-screen button, or hanging that chad, what you are really voting for is the team as a whole.

When you understand it that way, Obama's skin color, Hillary's ovaries, McCain's time as a POW, Edward's father's occupation, Romney's Mormonism, and the rest of the nonsense we are given to concentrate on is nothing but a distraction. The real question is what is the team, as a team, going to do for the country. In the case of the Clintons, we've already seen who the team is, how they work, and what happens when you let that team do what they do...and the results are not pretty.