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Friday, December 24, 2010

Politics: A Critique Deconstructed (Part Three)

(Part One and Part Two)

The third and final part of my long-winded political nonsense is here.  You can read the post that I am responding to here.

Now for part three:

VIII.  Creationism
No matter what you call it, it's not a scientific theory.  It's religion.  Creationism/intelligent design has never become a scientific theory, since nothing, short of theoretical/experimental physics, becomes a theory in science without following the scientific method (and I have a huge problem with theoretical physics using the term "theory" for every crackpot hypothesis that proposes an answer to life, the universe, and everything).  This means that evolution has gone from a hypothesis (a guess or a series of guesses based on evidence) to a theory (an established scientific fact) by means of providing evidence (mountains of it) and proving its case time and time again
to the scientific community through peer review, research/experiments, and so forth.
Creationism, however, has never met the burden of proof that evolution has.  Evolution is proven.  Not only that, it has even been observed in the lab (more than once).  Creationism, on the other hand, has zero observable evidence for a designer.  In fact, most of what Creationism and ID call for is directly refuted by well-established scientific practices.  The fact that creationists and IDers claim that such practices are wrong is more paranoia than anything else.
So it's not a matter of squashing a "scientific theory," as Wrighton seems to suggest.  It's about preventing fake science from being taught in a classroom, on top of preventing religion from being used as a basis for scientific education.  Evolution is irrefutable unless you live in a bubble.  Creationism and ID are simply attempts on the part of the radical religious community to assume more power for themselves.  Why?  Because we can see what happens in other western nations that have accepted science for what it is (a logical, observable explanation for the world around us); such nations have become rapidly secular.  They have a problem with that because a secular nation (even if its members believe in God, as a great deal of secularists in secular nations do) is a nation that can't be controlled by religious dogma, and some people have a hard time letting go of that control (humanity has a history of it)
But this is a well-worn argument, and we're not going to convince each other of anything by debating it.  The facts speak for themselves.

IV.  The First Amendment Ain't Truz
This particular point makes me laugh.  He accuses me of not knowing my history, but then cites Wikipedia as if it is the most accurate database in the world.

In any case, it doesn't matter if government has changed how it interprets an amendment.  What matters is that the federal government supersedes state and local government, and so its application of the First Amendment to protection for and from religion applies universally, particularly to those places that receive federal funding (which is almost everywhere).  Since schools are partly supported by the federal government, they are also subject to federal law.  As such, public schools cannot teach religion, though there isn't any reason why a public school cannot have a course about religion as a concept (i.e. a historical examination of religions--yes, plural).  But Wrighton seems to think that it's a-ok for public schools to have a Christian class.  The problem is that it would violate the Constitution by extension of public schools being protected and funded partly by the federal government.
It's also really awesome...
But then there's the fun part:  namely, that since states are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and, thus, funded in part by it, they are, as a whole, subject to the laws of the fed.  Like I said:  the fed supersedes state and local governments.
Yeah, that's what I feel about it...
Wrighton, of course, simply disagrees with the interpretation of the Amendment as applying to anyone beyond Congress.  There's not much I can do to change his mind on that, except to point out that a number of Amendments have been interpreted this way, and that by his logic, he would have to suggest that the Constitution must not apply universally in such cases.  But then there's that tricky part about the 8th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 24th, and 25th Amendments, all of which pretty much suggest that Congress has a lot of authority when it comes to applicability.

X.  Lies and Misdirection and Other Things Politicians Do
Wrighton finally asks some important questions about my request that Republicans stop lying or misinforming the public and to stop taking campaign contributions from corporations and protecting them from persecution (or from making it legal for them to hide where they get their money from).  The problem?  While his questions are good, they don't address the key point in my original argument:  I wasn't talking about all corporations; instead, I was referring only to situations in which protecting or taking money from corporations is not in the best interests of the majority of the people.  The problem is that Republicans are notorious for doing this.  When they protect businesses, they do so when such protection isn't actually good for the rest of us.  Take BP as a prime example of this.  A number of Republicans went to great lengths to defend and protect BP, even though the company not only failed miserably to deal with a crisis situation, but was also responsible for it.  Instead of paying attention to the devastation and the complete ruin of the Gulf economy, Republicans continued to take money from oil companies and continued to support policies that would protect oil companies from government regulation and so forth.  How exactly is that in the best interests of most Americans?  We're talking about an industry that is notorious for violating federal regulations and has a history of destroying ecosystems and economies.  The fact of the matter is that we need clean oceans to eke out an existence, and oil companies, for the most part, aren't particularly interested in that.  Republicans are traditionally in the same boat.
If only it weren't true...
But, as I said, Wrighton does ask some important questions:
First off, there are politicians on both sides of the aisle lie, misinform and misdirect every time they open their mouths. Sadly, those lies, misinformation and misdirections are not always purposefully or maliciously done. Sometimes they are "honest" in the sense that the politician either truly believes in what they're stating or they don't know better. Next, why single out corporations as not being an acceptable source of campaign contributions? Why not talk about other forms of businesses? Why not talk about lobbies? Why not talk about Think Tanks? Why not talk about PACs? Why not talk about Unions? Why not talk about individuals? All of those things given money to politician's campaigns for the purpose of getting specific people into power. To stop one of them, you must stop them all.
I can't speak for Wrighton, but he and I likely differ on one crucial thing:  I hold politicians to higher standards than regular citizens.  Why?  Because they are people who have power; as such, I expect them to know what they are talking about and to represent the interests of citizens, rather than corporate interests.  They're there for "the people," not for "the corporations."  Corporations don't vote them in.  We do (yes, corporations are made of people, but that's not the point).  So, for me, if a politician lies, misinforms, or misdirects, even if it was unintentional, they are immediately thrown in my box of undesirable people.  You can get out of that box, but that depends on one's integrity.  Some politicians can admit when they are wrong.  Most can't.
I'm not so sure he was smart enough to be a liar...
As for the rest:  well, when I was talking about Republicans and corporate funding, I was talking a lot about corporate lobbyists.  The problem is that Wrighton is again missing my primary point:  it's not about everyone, but about those who are giving money to push politicians to vote for things that don't represent the best interests of Americans.  But even if we ignore that and go along a different logical track, there are other problems.  If politicians are supposed to represent "the people," and "the people" aren't the ones largely funding politicians, then it doesn't seem very likely that politicians will represent "the people" when they push legislation.  Historically, this is true.  Outsourcing, healthcare discussions, and so on.  Corporations have largely controlled these debates, and Republicans have done a damn good job trying to keep such contributions secret (they've even gone so far as to support legislation that will make it legal to keep such things confidential).
Then again...he did say this...
Now, that's not to say that Democrats are innocent.  A number of them have taken corporate funding too, and there are plenty of iffy organizations, past and present, that have supported both political parties.  Millions and millions of dollars have been poured into politicians from body-less entities.  I'm more for a political arena that is even.  I would even advocate for the removal of all public funding if I thought that was legal (I would opt for a system where everyone gets the same amount of money from a central source, and where corporate and lobbyist contributions were illegal, even if that meant places I support couldn't donate).  The problem for me is that our political system is oriented towards money, rather than who is best for the job.  I want a system that isn't controlled by the rich.  We'll never get there, but I can always hope.


And that's that.  A long freaking critique, but so be it.  If you want to contribute to the discussion, the comments are all yours.

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