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George Bush's First Veto
As I said when I voted for that worm John Kerry: "I loathe John Kerry, but I'd vote for an autistic monkey before I'd vote for that fundamentalist, anti-science George Bush."

This summer, the biggest big Democrat we've had in office since FDR, George "Spendalot" Bush, finally put an end to his veto virginity thanks to a bill funding embryonic stem cell research. Not surprisingly, Bush and his fellow fundies are ill-informed about science. Richard Dawkins has a few corrective harsh words for them on MachinesLikeUs:

The moral objection to killing blastocysts, then, cannot be based on suffering. So, what is it based on? Religion, almost always. It is partly a mystical reverence for humanness, as though all cells of Homo sapiens are suffused with a divine essence, some sort of sacred juice called Homsap, which no other species possesses.* Such a notion is fundamentally un-evolutionary. At what point in the line of descent from the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees, was the divine essence first injected? If you set aside what it will eventually grow into, there is no important difference between a human blastocyst and that of any other mammal. So we are left with the fact that human blastocysts, which can feel nothing now, have the future potential eventually to develop into beings that are capable of human suffering, human loves, hates and fears, human consciousness. It seems to me an inadequate basis for an ethical decision. Even if you disagree, you should surely at least consider the relative moral status of an Iraqi or Lebanese whose capacity to suffer is not just potential in the future, but here and now in the present.

If you ask me whether I care more about the destruction of a blastocyst, which theoretically has the potential to develop into a conscious human being, or the painful killing of an adult cow in an abattoir which has already reached its full potential, my answer is not in doubt. If I see a terrified cow about to have its throat cut by a Jewish or Muslim slaughterman who insists, purely for religious reasons, that it must be fully conscious when the knife hits, I want to intervene on its behalf. If I see a human blastocyst the size of a pinhead about to be flushed down the drain, do I want to intervene on its behalf? Oh come on, get real.

Posted by aalkon at October 13, 2006 11:47 AM

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Comments

"Homosap"-- HAHAHA! I love that man.

Posted by: Melissa at October 13, 2006 10:28 AM

He makes a great point, too, about the barbaric ritual slaughter practices of Islam and Judaism.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 13, 2006 11:19 AM

Indeed. I had no idea the animals had to be conscious!!! That's really awful. I wonder how everyone who keeps kosher would react if fully informed of what it entails? I'm sure some wouldn't care, but I bet a lot would. (In fact, I'm probably going to be an asshole and ask some kosher-keeping friends about it.)

By the way, I would so DO Richard Dawkins!

(Yes, I will probably say that every time his name comes up.)

Posted by: Melissa at October 13, 2006 2:36 PM

Don't be so fucking smug!

First of all, everybody hates smug. Secondly, it's impractical:

> purely for religious reasons, that it must
> be fully conscious

As Rumsfeld tried to explain a few years ago, we know things we don't know we know. Once you've made the decision to kill something to eat, what's the next most important decision? Being certain that it's good for you, and not addled with tuberculosis or worse. If it's an animal, you want it athletic and attentive. This is why cats fuck with mice.

Bush is an asshole, but give him credit: He's servicing his base. He'd never have been elected in 2004 (and certainly not in 2000) if the hardcore religious freakoids hadn't decided he was the best he could do. This veto is a minimally costly (and minimally meaningful) way to express his gratitude. The real action's happening in the private sector anyway. If you're counting on government to give you health in your senior years, you're going to have a rough ride no matter what.

Quit clucking at the little people. You look stupid when you do that.

Posted by: Crid at October 13, 2006 8:26 PM

Hey campers. Got a wife with parkinsons. U gotta live with it to know it. Wake up in the middle of the night and carry my wife to the bathroom. I'm 70 and keep in shape 'cause I gotta carry my partner to the bathroom, or in and out of the restraunt, or up the stairs, or in and out of Home Depot.
We're all in this together. How come GB and we can't get this together.

Amy, keep up the good work

Bill

Posted by: Bill at October 13, 2006 8:37 PM

"Once you've made the decision to kill something to eat, what's the next most important decision? Being certain that it's good for you, and not addled with tuberculosis or worse. If it's an animal, you want it athletic and attentive."

Or, there's this wonderful new innovation called USDA inspectors-- Maybe you've heard of them?

Cluck, cluck, cluck.

Posted by: Melissa at October 14, 2006 6:55 AM

So when the gummint staffs a new office of fuckwitted technocrats, we should rewrite the Bible? When you see an oblivious GS-9 tooling down the freeway behind the wheel of a Ford Taurus, are you reassured about the morality underpinnings of modern society?

> w onderful new innovation called
> USDA inspectors

Pass the spinach.

> how everyone who keeps
> kosher would react

They're the ones who seem less squeamish about these processes, and are ready to look the animal square in the eye.

Posted by: Crid at October 14, 2006 8:49 AM

Bush is an asshole, but give him credit: He's servicing his base.

Well said, Crid.

Posted by: justin case at October 14, 2006 9:21 AM

Out here in the Southeast, where America has provided the whitetail deer with unbelievably large food crops, we sometimes have a debate about hunting. The first that appears is usually that the protestor doesn't know anything about deer. The next thing is that they don't know anything about the slaughterhouse.

Nobody politely asks either animal what they want. The cow is penned all its life with other cows, fed hormones, fattened and killed with a hammer, and the 'house packages everything but the "Moo!". Keen tip: cook your food. Not everything in the market is "Grade A".

Meanwhile, even the densest hunter has observed the process of collecting dinner - at every stage. It's the responsible thing to do, if you decide to go hunting.

Posted by: Radwaste at October 14, 2006 1:43 PM

It's off the original topic, and responding to a point no-one has made yet, but why do some people insist that if you eat meat you should be willing to hunt, kill, gut it etc yourself? I've hunted for the pot, and the more I did it, the less I liked doing it. It was clear that these animals had different plans for their bodies than I had. I stopped hunting, but I still eat meat. The point is, I don't butcher my own meat, but I also don't carry out my own surgical operations or grow my own vegetables or repair my own roof or mine my own coal. Some of these things make me feel ill. I pay other people to do them for me. Why is butchery singled out for moral censure?

Posted by: Norman at October 15, 2006 2:45 AM

> Why is butchery singled out
> for moral censure?

Because it involves killing, and killing can readily get out of hand.

Posted by: Crid at October 15, 2006 6:54 AM

... killing can readily get out of hand ...


It's more likely to get out of hand if everyone has to go around shooting cows when they want a steak, than if we leave it to farmers and butchers.

Posted by: Norman at October 15, 2006 10:03 AM

While not a religious historian, it's my understanding that Judaism gave us the belief that each of us has a personal relationship to God, and that we can't answer the big moral challenges by leaving them to others.

Posted by: Crid at October 15, 2006 2:39 PM

If only Judaism had given us the belief that each of us has a personal responsibility to reason, and that we can't answer the big moral or rational challenges by leaving them to others.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 15, 2006 2:42 PM

I'm not a religious historian either, but I don't share your view of what Judaism gave us. God chose a whole people, not individuals. We didn't get individualism until much later - say the Enlightenment, when the grip of Judaism's descendants had weakened. But what the hell do I know? My speciality's computing.

Posted by: Norman at October 15, 2006 3:03 PM

You may have a different take on it, but I'm reminded of the movie "Yentl" in which a young woman infiltrates a Jewish study program for young men. They study discussion and argument, techniques of diputation and analogy. I was raised a Christian and never credited it as advocating rational analysis. But then, I never went to seminary either.

Posted by: opit at October 15, 2006 10:24 PM

"> w onderful new innovation called
> USDA inspectors

Pass the spinach."

And I'll gladly eat it, Crid, (1) 'cause they tracked down the source of infection pretty damn quickly, and (2) the probabilities are against me getting hold of an infected batch anyway.

"> how everyone who keeps
> kosher would react

They're the ones who seem less squeamish about these processes, and are ready to look the animal square in the eye."

Wrong-- the ones who perform the killings are the ones looking the animal squarely in the eye. I don't think one can generalize that kosher consumers as a whole know as much about the process as you give them credit. The last Temple service I attended, *I* knew more Hebrew than the regulars seated around me, judging from the way they responded to the Cantor (and I ain't Jewish). I'm inclined to doubt these particular folks are significantly more informed about the way their food is prepared than they are about their regular services.

(I forgot to be an asshole and ask my friends how much they knew about kosher meat whe I saw them on Saturday-- my rigorous poll with a sample size N=2 will have to wait another week.)

Posted by: Melissa at October 16, 2006 12:22 PM

> Wrong--

*Nevah!*

> I don't think one can generalize

One does!

> kosher consumers as a whole
> know as much about the process

I'm content knowing that they're somewhat protected by the process, and that human history and survival generally have been improved by it. You & Amy are in such a hurry to do the Jetsons...

Allright Melissa, you're Thoroughly Modern Millie. And Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City! You are plugged in and electrified, you are stylin' with the latest hits from MTV on your Ipod as you buy skirts at Kitson and tofu at Whole Foods. Kinda young, kinda wow!

Food processing and morality are two things that wouldn't be where they are today without religion. It's juvenile, absolutely infantile to pretend that civilization would be better if no one had ever believed in things incoherent with our modern outlook. More to the point, religion is not going away. You don't have to participate, but if ridicule is your first and best response to this broad human impulse, you shouldn't be surprised if the masses don't line up behind you. Nor does their rejection mean you're elite.

> I forgot to be an
> asshole

?

Posted by: Crid at October 16, 2006 5:31 PM

(The asshole comment was from an earlier post-- I said I was going to be an asshole and ask my kosher-keeping friends how familiar they were with the process, but I forgot.)

It's juvenile, absolutely infantile to pretend that civilization would be better if no one had ever believed in things incoherent with our modern outlook."

And once again, Crid, you've hand-crafted a beautiful straw man from what I actually said. I never said or even implied that, nor do I believe it. But now that it has progressed to a point wherein we know people can be moral without relying on Santa Claus, isn't it time for civilization to grow up already?

I'm definitely not expecting the masses to forego their opiate in order to line up behind me-- my ass is cute and all, but not that cute! But ridicule the religious mindsest is what I choose to do. I've been steeped in religion for too long-- hand me a towel, my skin's all pruny.

No, rejection of the masses does not make me elite. T4lkin lyk 4 h4xx0r m4ks m3 l33t!!!1one1!!! ;)

Can I be Judy Jetson? She's hawt! Eep opp ork ah-ah!

Posted by: Melissa at October 17, 2006 1:13 PM

> you've hand-crafted a beautiful
> straw man

It's a talent, a special gift. A few others in the family have it, but we never discuss it. Not even in private.

> now that it has progressed to a
> point wherein we know people
> can be moral without relying on
> Santa Claus

Maybe they can, but do you think that they *will*? Without a thunderclap of trans-cosmic righteousness, the only reason to be good is because it's your opinion to do so. That happens to be mine as well as yours. But we're investing in outcomes here, and I like the idea that people in moderate churches are told to mind their p's & q's, or else.

When a Melissa or an Amy talks about how much we've "progressed," it looks like you're patting yourselves on the back, and just trying to look down on others. We haven't progressed. Human nature is not, not, not in transition. It's exactly where it was twenty thousand years ago, as is the evolution of the human foot. In this very year, the two-thousand sixth year of Britney Spears, there are women who are willingly submitting to sharia law. Is that progress?

Religious fervor is not going to go away any more than less popular trends, like homosexuality... And I'd presume you'd get upset if people mocked the gays. Time to learn to deal.

My favorite l33t h4x0r is Lala. Download this:

http://tinyurl.com/yj3vxa

Posted by: Crid at October 17, 2006 4:08 PM

Eeeeeeeeeee, I LOVE Tiki Bar! :) Lala is teh r0xx0rz! (Crid, just out of curiosity, you don't happen to attend the PhreakNIC convention, do you?)

You're misrepresenting, or perhaps misinterpreting, again. I never, never, never said human nature has progressed. I said society has progressed. We can craft laws based on rationality rather than superstition. Impossible, you say, to make the entire population accept rational, human-made laws over the dictates of their so-called holy books? Well, the obvious solution is to make me Empress Of Everything. See? Simple.

Seriously, though, I understand what you're saying about average people and their dependence upon superstition, and it's true that humans 're bastard-people, but when does human self-reliance ever get better unless we take steps toward educating the next generation? I take this stand, and I hold it. (Heroic of me, no? Someone carve an equestrian statue of me right quick.) Education in the sciences must become a priority, and good science should be the determining factor in making laws about things like stem cell research, not politicians pandering to superstition-based interest groups. (Ah-- *there's* that pesky topic!)

You made a point in another comment about how W is an asshole doing a good job representing his constituents, but I think that a President in a democratic society ought to be more than just a tyrant for the majority-- or worse, a tyrant for an extremely vocal minority with deep pockets. There comes a time when evidence and facts have to enter the picture when legislation which could affect the lives and health of millions is on the line.

"> you've hand-crafted a beautiful
> straw man

It's a talent, a special gift. A few others in the family have it, but we never discuss it. Not even in private."

Do you sell them? I need several as Christmas gifts. :)

Posted by: Melissa at October 17, 2006 5:05 PM

> I said society has
> progressed.

In a few happy corners it's coming along nicely, but the North American standards aren't typical, even throughout North America. There are people who think Kofi Annan offers a better deal than George Washington... Go figger.

> I take this stand,
> and I hold it.

Making fun of people isn't necessarily helpful, especially if we pick the wrong ones. Religious people aren't going away, and there's much to admire in the mild and moderate.

Is it at least possible that as a reasonable man, Bush can't muster enough principle for federal (federal! federal!) funding of stem cell research to piss off a constituency to which he feels some admiration as well as gratitude?

> a President in a democratic
> society ought to be more
> than just a tyrant for
> the majority-

I completely disagree. Americans bow to no one. We don't hire these fuckers for leadership, we hire them for service.

> Christmas gifts.

A cousin works at competitive rates, but he's busy until Xmas '08... I'll put in a good word for you at Thanksgiving, but craftsmanship of this caliber takes time!

Posted by: Crid at October 17, 2006 6:04 PM

Making fun of people isn't necessarily helpful, especially if we pick the wrong ones. Religious people aren't going away, and there's much to admire in the mild and moderate.

Waitaminute, waitaminute-- is the crux of your argument, then, "Cant we all just get aloooooooooong?" :) I get along with lots of people, including the religious. I joke around with them, because some of them actually have a sense of humor. Doesn't mean I think they're right, and doesn't mean I'm going to quit shooting off my smartass mouth. I make fun of lots of things, including myself, and I don't expect I'll stop just because some people on the planet don't get it. And I think Richard Dawkins says a lot of things that need to be said, so I will continue to want to do him. And I'm willing to wrestle Lalla Ward naked in a vat of pudding for the privelage. ;)

> a President in a democratic
> society ought to be more
> than just a tyrant for
> the majority-

I completely disagree. Americans bow to no one. We don't hire these fuckers for leadership, we hire them for service.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. "We don't hire these fuckers for leadership, we hire them for service"-- isn't that what I said? He's supposed to look out for the interests of America. How is that not service? How is that "bowing?" I get it not.

Posted by: Melissa at October 18, 2006 10:57 AM

You said there's "a time when evidence and facts have to enter the picture." The American voter is perfectly capable of responding in that moment, and then telling the hired help what to do. Al Gore needn't think he's the only one concerned with the biosphere, though apparently he does.

Posted by: Crid at October 18, 2006 5:05 PM

Ah! Now I see what you mean, thanks.

I guess we just get to try to vote the malingering gits out of office, and I sure hope it works.

I'm just saying, though, that recent national polls show that a majority of Americans disapprove of GW's veto of the federal-funding-for-stem-cell-research bill. (Here's the data from a multitude of national polls compiled by Science and Nature so you can peruse it yourself: http://www.pollingreport.com/science.htm ) So, Crid, you may be right about our Malingering-Git-In-Chief reflecting the will of his fundamentalist constituency, but my point is that he's not doing the will of the American public. I understand what you're saying about the possibility of his wanting to show his thanks to the people that put him in office, but it's my opinion that someone holding the office of President owes it to Americans in general to be informed about the issues over which he presides, and make informed choices about things that affect the public good, of which stem cell research (yes, federally-funded) is an important part. This is why, in my opinion, he is not doing a good job.

Posted by: Melissa at October 19, 2006 8:00 AM

> he's not doing the will

So you're saying he *is* supposed to be tyrant for the majority...

Federal fund in not going to be, and never should be, an essential part of these investigations.

Posted by: Crid at October 19, 2006 4:15 PM

Posted by: moysha at February 17, 2007 8:16 AM

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