The ONLY Radical Idea

Republicans are, predictably, screaming that impeaching Trump is a Bad Idea™ because excuses go here. Pence literally left Pelosi on hold for 25 minutes before having an aide say that he wouldn’t talk to her. He knew she wanted to talk about the 25th. Not only had he decided he did not want to invoke the 25th, but he didn’t want to talk to anyone about invoking the 25th. Commentators, of course, are complaining that the country doesn’t need the divisiveness of removing Trump from office before his term expires.

But here’s the thing: there’s nothing Trump (or any President that aspires to dictatorship) could do that would be worse, or more desperately requiring impeachment or punishment, that could ever result in impeachment or punishment.

Think it through: Trump has engaged in a failed, violent coup. The only thing “worse” is a successful, violent coup – and that’s not worse because of presidential behavior. It’s only worse in terms of its impact on us. But in a successful coup, impeachment or arrest would (by definition) be unavailable as remedies.

So this is it: Trump conspires with a mob to kill a cop and nullify democracy itself so that he can hold executive power for (at least) four more years. Why would the Republicans & commentators be against using impeachment or the 25th for literally the worst presidential conduct that could possibly be available as a basis for impeachment or removal?

It comes down to what I have said many times. I honestly can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that this isn’t a well known aphorism invented 200 years ago, but it seems to still be something that only I say. So at the risk of self-aggrandizement I’m gonna scream it out loud yet again:

The ONLY radical idea is accountability for people with power. All else is mere reform. 

Impunity is a core value of rulers and people who think of themselves as the ruling class. But we must reject this. If we must wait until a president launches a successful coup before impeachment becomes available as a remedy, then we have, with invisible but indelible ink, rewritten the constitution to erase all possibility of presidential  impeachment, now and in the future. If we do that, the doctrine of impunity has won. The details of dictatorship may change in the following years or decades, but having relinquished the possibility of accountability for those with power, we relegate all future efforts to nothing more than reform.

We must, in this moment, demand accountability, or we have lost ourselves and the republic of the United States of America.

25th THE FUCKER NOW. IMPEACH THE FUCKER MONDAY. JAIL THE FUCKER WITHOUT BAIL.

First Amendment Fuck Off!

Section 2 also, too!

Wait, what?

This post exists because there’s yet another FREEZE PEACH! discussion ongoing over at Pharyngula and I realize I’m tired of making the same points over and over again. So I’m going to write up a few thoughts and then leave myself the option of either linking back to this or quoting it in the future so I don’t have to keep saying the same damn things over and over.

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Logic and trolling and blogs, oh my!

Someone is attempting to play logic games in the comments. Set up to require approval for the 1st comment by any account or e-mail address, my comment filter asked me for permission to post this bit of text from a new commenter named “Path”:

This is a lie.

The comment was intended for my post I’m a Nazi, Says Nazi. World Topples in Not-Shock. There’s always the possibility that they actually had a coherent comment in mind, but as they did not quote what they thought was actually a lie or make any argument at all in support of their assertion, all I could think of was the reliability problems of Harcourt Fenton Mudd:

Try again, Path. If you have a thoughtful comment, it’s almost certainly welcome, but this was so vague I honestly couldn’t tell if you were attempting to add to the conversation, attempting to troll me or one of my commenters, or just babbling. Make an effort and so long as you’re not trolling, twisting others words dishonestly, pushing hatred, or issuing threats you can probably comment here indefinitely.

 

The Atheists For Liberty and Enlightenment Values

PZ has a new post up about a group Atheists for Liberty which proudly announces its embrace of Enlightenment values. Turns out it is a creature of Peter Boghossian, someone whose work I’ve criticized harshly in the past right here on this blog and whose ethics, clearly, are lacking.

Let’s be clear. “Enlightenment values” suck. Sure, Enlightenment philosophers actually move epistemology forward quite a bit. They also provided hugely important arguments for more widespread literacy and education on diverse topics. They developed a contractarianism sufficiently complete to found a country from Hobbes’ proto-contractarianism where “consent of the governed” had more Machiavellian meanings almost entirely limiting it to the practical advice to rulers not to encourage the masses to take up torches and pitchforks because those torches and pitchforks, in addition to being official notice of revocation of consent, were also a bit dangerous to the ruling class.

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Riffing on Reprobate Spreadsheet: Womanhood Edition

So, you should read RS for the new post up on the incoherence of TERF philosophy and/or ideology, it’s well done. But I want to single out and emphasize one particular bit. HJ Hornbeck excerpts a Medium article credited to a number of folks1 and proceeds to challenge it on a number of points. While I don’t have more than a few quibbles with what HJ wrote, HJ acknowledges that there is much more that could be challenged than was covered in the Reprobate Spreadsheet analysis. This is a place where a bit more of that challenging will happen.

Here, I want to emphasize a point that HJ made briefly that I believe could use more attention, add a couple of points original to me, and then allow you to get more from HJ’s original analysis. Here is the section I wish to reanalyze, a smaller portion of HJ’s first excerpt2:

the view that the category of ‘woman’ is correctly defined as ‘adult human female’. Biological essentialism is a position about whether certain traits of women are biologically produced by sex category membership. Womanhood itself is not a genetic ‘trait’ and no-one on either side of the dispute thinks it is conceivably biologically produced in the way that, arguably, emotional intelligence or maternal instinct is supposed to be.

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What Constitutes A Tool? Orca Are Freuding Amazing Edition

So, apparently some folks have known about this for a long time, but I just came across a reference to orca gathering together several members of a pod who then swim, dive, and surge synchronously to produce a wave displacing several tons of water.

Why would they do that? Well, it turns out it’s a good way for orca to wash prey animals who rest on ice floes – mainly seals – off the safety of their floating islands and into the open water where the orca can eat them.

Here’s one video which culminates in three orca using the strategy:

 

However, there are others. I came across a 45 minute TV program that would be inconvenient to use in demonstrating the tactic. Still if you’re willing to scan through and find it, you can see five orca swimming, diving, & surging synchronously to form a massive wave. While synchronized action isn’t unusual in the animal kingdom (think of birds migrating in V formations or schools of fish turning in near-unison among other things), this involves not only planning, but very possibly also either communicating a plan to one’s companions or, even more spectacularly, a theory of mind where the means to communicate a plan are absent, but other orca recognize what one orca is attempting to achieve in the future, then thinking about how to enhance the success of that other animal’s plan. Thinking from that other animal’s perspective, if that’s what’s happening, is a stupendous intellectual feat.

It would not be the only time one can see theory of mind operating in non-human animals, but the operation of theory of mind is rare.

And yet, the thing that completely disarms me intellectually is the thought that in this instance, the very water in which they swim has probably been rendered into a tool, which would challenge the very definition of the word. Wikipedia’s discussion of tool use by animals has a brief discussion of the difficulties inherent in defining “tool”. The first example they present, though, is sufficient to the point:

The external employment of an unattached or manipulable attached environmental object to alter more efficiently the form, position, or condition of another object, another organism, or the user itself, when the user holds and directly manipulates the tool during or prior to use and is responsible for the proper and effective orientation of the tool.

Is the seawater an “environmental object” or the orca’s environment itself? I’m not sure, but this is an incredible bit of cooperative hunting a raises a great many questions about orca, their intelligence, and even the nature of tool use itself.

 

A Terrible Argument Against The Resurrection

I find this completely bizarre.

Jason Thibodeau has a “new” argument against the resurrection over on The Secular Outpost. I say, “new” because even if the argument hasn’t gotten widespread attention before, I cannot possibly imagine that it has not been previously advanced by someone. JT isn’t vouching for this argument per se, but rather he wanted to “present it [there] and solicit the thoughts of the Secular Outpost community”.

What is this grand argument? I copy it verbatim:

(1) God is completely rational.

Thus,

(2) Any action that God performs is undertaken on the basis of some good reason.

(3) There is no good reason for God to resurrect Jesus from the dead.

Therefore,

(4) God did not resurrect Jesus from the dead.

Premise (1) follows from the fact that God is perfect and (2) is a consequence of (1). Therefore, the soundness of the argument depends on the truth of (3). We can defend (3) by considering possible reasons that God might have for resurrecting Jesus and rejecting them. It is probably impossible to consider all possible factors that might count in favor of God’s resurrecting Jesus. However, that need not undermine the argument. Suppose we are not certain that there is no good reason for God to resurrect Jesus from the dead. We can issue a challenge to any person who believes that God did resurrect Jesus. That challenge would be to provide the good reason for God to resurrect Jesus. In the absence of any such account of God’s reason, we ought to be skeptical that there is such a reason.

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Postmodernism Ain’t Say That

So someone from the UK asked me a question about postmodernism’s relationship to metaethics. I probed a little more deeply, and the question ultimately turned on the assertion that postmodernism denies the existence of truth, including moral truth. When that was probed, it turned out that this person had been listening to reporting people had been doing lately on Aleksandr Dugin.

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Infinite Impotence

So, I’m terribly tired of the Kalam Cosmological argument, as I imagine are many of you. But I’m particularly tired of people who use the Kalam in the service of a larger argument not merely that the universe is caused, but also that the cause of any universe/multiverse/sum-of-existence must be something timeless.

This idea of a timeless god is, in my opinion, too infrequently and too insufficiently challenged. If people accept the Kalam, they should also accept that anything outside of time is infinitely impotent:

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