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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: August 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Survival of the Hottest?

There are a variety of ways species continue to pass genes through natural selection to the next generation. Among these survival traits are beauty, brawn, and/or brains. Without at least one of these traits, natural selection eventually selects a gene line which will become extinct. Similarly, those who possess strength in any of these traits (if not all these traits) dramatically increase their chances of survival and their odds that their genes will be passed to another generation.

This brings me to the third runner up in the 2007 Miss Teen U.S.A. contestant from South Carolina. Watch the video below and decide which of these traits will help aid her in possibly not only survival, but likely prosperity and the ability to pass her genes on to her offspring.

That was painful to listen to wasn’t it? Clearly, Miss South Carolina finds herself in the very shallow end of the gene pool when it comes to intelligence. But Miss SC shouldn’t worry about such things as uttering a coherent thought because let’s face it: she’s smokin’ hot! All she needs to do to ensure her long term survival and pass her genes another generation is to visit any upper scale nightclub in any city in America, find a man with money, get herself knocked up, and she’s set. If she wants to set her sights a little higher, she can find a willing professional athlete or celebrity to prey upon. She doesn’t need to go to college; she doesn’t need to find a high paying job. The only thing required for her is to stay fit and pretty until that day comes.

Of course maintaining beauty may be a lot more difficult than it appears and there is no guarantee she will keep her looks for long. What would happen if she had the misfortune of being disfigured somehow from a fire or car accident? These unfortunate things happen everyday. What would her prospects be then?

I’m not trying to be mean and I hope Miss SC is able to make her dreams a reality; I’m just trying to make a point. Maybe those of us who were not lucky enough to inherit the genes to make us beautiful or handsome should be thankful that through natural selection we were forced to find other means for survival. Most of us have the mental capacity to exercise our brains through reading and making the most of our education. I suspect that Miss SC also has the same mental capacity but has failed to develop her mental abilities.

The scary thing for me is that natural selection not only applies to the individual but to populations. The idea that there could be hundreds or thousands of adult voters who have the same (apparent) level of intelligence as Miss SC is frightening. Miss SC has the same right to vote as the rest of us. What’s her thought process going to be if she decides to vote in the next presidential election? “I’m going to like totally vote for Hillary because it would be like so totally awesome to have a woman president!” Let’s hope she and others like her need a makeover on Election Day.

Hat tip: Boortz

This is too good: Someone has taken the time to draw a map in an attempt to follow Miss SC's answer.
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Friday, August 24, 2007

Intelligence Squared

I’ve never been a fan of NPR for a variety of reasons, but one of the blogs I read on a regular basis, Possummomma (a.k.a. Atheist in a Minivan) turned me onto an Oxford style debate series sponsored by NPR called Intelligence Squared. If you are one who enjoys a good debate but actually wants to hear both sides (meaning the debaters do not shout and talk over each other), then you will enjoy this series.

The debates are held in New York City at the Asia Society. Each debate has a moderator, three panelists who propose a motion in an opening statement, three panelists who oppose the motion who make a counter argument in an opening statement, discussion with questions from the moderator and the audience, and closing statements from each panelist. The audience is polled about the issue before and after the debate to determine which team wins. Every debate has different panelists who are experts on the issue being proposed. Among the panelists are Michael Crichton, Richard Lindzen (MIT professor and global warming skeptic), Christopher Hitchens, and William Kristal (editor of The Weekly Standard). Each debate runs about 1½ hours and podcasts can be listened to here.

After listening to these debates, the political debates sound juvenile. Among the topics for debate: global warming, free speech, religion and government, and whether or not the U.S. should tolerate a nuclear Iran. I enjoyed the free speech debate the most; I also liked the global warming debate but much of the discussion was over my head. If nothing else, it’s a great way to know what the issues are and what each side’s arguments are.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Fair Tax Gains Momentum in Iowa Straw Poll

There have been some very encouraging developments regarding the Fair Tax movement. Brad Warbiany noted in this post that much of Mike Huckabee’s second place showing in the Iowa Straw Poll can be attributed to his support of the Fair Tax. The Americans for Fair Taxation group had a very large presence in Iowa but did not endorse any candidate in-particular. While the Mitt Romney first place campaign bused in supporters and paid their $35 voting fee, the Americans for Fair Taxation did not pay the fee for their members to vote for candidates who support the Fair Tax but apparently still were a major factor in Huckabee’s second place showing.

It seems that the other candidates have taken notice to the grass roots support for the Fair Tax as well. In my previous post, I had listed Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, and Sam Brownback as “considering other tax reform” (read: on the fence) and Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain among those opposed to the Fair Tax. Since writing that post, I found the updated scorecard for the presidential candidates which show that some have changed position and others I misread their position (Duncan Hunter is a co-sponsor of the legislation, not on the fence). While Huckabee is perhaps the most vocal proponent of the Fair Tax, Ron Paul, John Cox, Tom Tancredo, potential G.O.P candidate Fred Thompson and Mike Gravel (the only Democrat candidate who supports the Fair Tax) either endorse the Fair Tax or have stated would sign it into law if passed by congress. Even John McCain who has been on record as being opposed to the Fair Tax has apparently done a 180 to jump on board with the Fair Tax (a last ditch effort to save his campaign perhaps?). By my count, that’s 8 candidates who now support the Fair Tax!

Unfortunately, none of these candidates are considered ‘top tier’ at this point. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, and the entire Democrat field (except for Gravel) are opposed to this bold legislation. But who knows, if John McCain and some of the fence sitters could be convinced that the Fair Tax could be a winning issue, maybe some of these other candidates will also see the light. There is still plenty of time between now and Super Tuesday for them to get the message if the momentum continues to build.
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

G.O.P Candidates Debate the Fair Tax in Iowa

To my delight and surprise, George Stefanopolis asked G.O.P candidates to explain their positions on the Fair Tax and even went on to accurately explain to viewers what the Fair Tax is. Unfortunately, only Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Tom Tancredo, and Sam Brownback had an opportunity to respond. Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, and Tommy Thompson did not have a chance to respond. Of those who did have a chance to respond, Huckabee and Tancredo both made very impressive arguments in favor of the Fair Tax. Giuliani, McCain, and Romney were all skeptical about the plan and Brownback proposed an “optional” flat tax (but has indicated in the past that if congress passed the Fair Tax he would sign it into law). The two frontrunners, Romney and Giuliani are both missing an opportunity by opting to stay with the status quo of our current tax code (which they both admit is flawed). Both seem to want the voters to believe that they are at least open to the idea of the Fair Tax but in reality, neither seem to want to take the risk of supporting such a bold idea.

Here is an update as to where the candidates stand on the Fair Tax:

Support the Fair Tax
Mike Gravel (D)
Mike Huckabee (R)
Tom Tancredo (R)

Consider other tax reform
Ron Paul (R)
Duncan Hunter (R)
Sam Brownback (R)

Opposed to the Fair Tax
Mitt Romney (R)
Rudy Giuliani (R)
John McCain (R)
Barack Obama (D)
Joseph Biden (D)
Hillary Clinton (D)
Dennis Kurcinich (D)

Related Posts:
We Can Make April 15th Just Another Day
End Success-Based Taxation
Dare to be Fair

Learn more about the Fair Tax at
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

One Man’s Freedom of Expression is Another Man’s Hate Crime

We seem to have strayed a long way from our valuing of free speech, perhaps best stated by Voltaire “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” In this age of political correctness, both the Right and the Left has bastardized the idea of free speech to a more politically correct attitude: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it until someone else is offended.”

As I was driving in to work, I caught a couple of segments of The Mike Gallagher Show (a show I do not normally listen to). Gallagher brought up a case which happened at Pace University where a 23 year-old man by the name of Stanislav Shmulevich allegedly threw a Quran in a toilet on two separate occasions. The university originally reported the crime as an act of vandalism but later decided to report the act to the NYPD as a hate crime instead. I assumed that Gallagher would go on to criticize this as political correctness run amok but to my astonishment, he said that treating this act as a “hate crime” was completely appropriate. Gallagher went even further to say that certain acts such as desecrating a “holy book” (regardless of the faith), the American flag, or burning crosses should all be exempt from First Amendment protection. In his view, there are just some things which should be held sacred; those who commit “crimes” against what he or others consider “sacred” should be punished criminally.

Gallagher’s arguments got even weaker from there. Several callers challenged him on this notion and Gallagher would ask questions like (paraphrasing) “Should we consider it free speech when someone paints swastikas on a Jewish person’s home?” and “What about burning a cross in the lawn of an African American, is that free speech?” Perhaps his most absurd example was whether or not a person dressed in Nazi uniform goose stepping in a Jewish neighborhood should be protected by the First Amendment.

All of these questions can be easily answered if only we go back to the basic idea that each individual has the natural rights of life, liberty, and property (“your freedom ends where my nose begins”); nowhere in our Constitution is there a right to not be offended. Painting swastikas on a Jewish person’s home or burning a cross in an African American’s yard are both violations of these individuals’ right to property, and therefore, the perpetrator should be prosecuted on those grounds.

So, what about the racist bastard goose stepping in a Jewish neighborhood? Assuming the idiot does so on public property, s/he is protected by the First Amendment. Being an anti-Semitic moron, while infuriating to most sensible people, is not a crime nor should it be.

One could argue that these above acts would be acts of intimidation and could warrant criminal prosecution (certainly in the first two examples would be prosecutable without “hate crimes” laws, the last example would still be a bit of a stretch) but I fail to see how desecrating a book which some people deem as “holy” even rises to this standard. There’s no question that desecrating a holy book is offensive to a great majority of people, but a crime? Thomas Jefferson found fault with much of the Bible and therefore proceeded to physically cut and paste the portions of the Bible that he found to be authentic to create his own interpretation of the Bible and discarded the rest. References to the virgin birth, the resurrection, angels, and other miracles were all omitted from the Jefferson Bible. Clearly, if someone like Gallagher knew of someone doing something like this today, he would regard this person as a hate criminal.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to protect speech that can be and often is offensive to the sensibilities of a person, a group, or even a majority. Popular speech does not need to be protected nearly as much. I might not like it if someone chooses to burn an American flag, desecrate a copy of Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness, or wishes to write terrible things about me on a post I have written but unless such an individual does these things without threatening my life, liberty, or property, I have to put up with these things. It’s the price I pay for living in a free society and a price I am quite willing to pay.

Cross posted here at The Liberty Papers

Related Posts:
The First Amendment Explained: Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses (Part 1 of 2)
The First Amendment Explained: Free Speech (Part 2 of 2)
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