Category Archives: Government

Taking in Syrian Immigrants Immoral?

Recently, I was trying to find non-xenophobic arguments against the US taking in Syrian immigrants. I found a potential case in National Review (assuming the numbers truly are reliable). Two writers from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argue that it costs an estimated $12,874 per year (for the first 5 years) to resettle Middle-Eastern Refugees in the US while it may cost around $1,057 per year to move them to relative — if temporary — safety in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Again, if this is true, we could assist roughly twelve times the humans by helping resettle Syrians into neighboring countries with the same resource investment.

But, should we be concerned about this study’s impartiality? Maybe. The same authors published a study last year for CIS warning that immigration in general is a problem, partly because Muslims (who, incidentally, make up less than 1% of the US population) pose a significant security threat. These immigrants will, undoubtedly, “board an airliner and blow it up” according to one co-author*.

The person who said that, Steven Camarota, has remarked on another even more serious immigrant threat very concisely in the past: “[E]ach 10 percent increase in the immigrant share of the county’s population reduced the Republican vote by about six percentage points [over the last 30 years]”*.

Of course, we can’t discount this study/argument simply because the writers may be generally biased against immigration. Hopefully, PolitiFact will have a look at their figures.

Agree or not, there are still solid ways to try to help out the thousands of Syrian civilians in need. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch highly rate American Refugee Committee International as an effective charity. GiveWell recommends Doctors Without Borders.

Excerpt of Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr

Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, & the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

You will naturally examine first the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c.

But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth’s motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities?

You will next read the new testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions 1. of those who say he was begotten by god, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven: and 2. of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition by being gibbeted according to the Roman law which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile or death in furcâ. […]

These questions are examined in the books I have mentioned under the head of religion, & several others. They will assist you in your inquiries, but keep your reason firmly on the watch in reading them all. Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no god you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort & pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a god, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love.

In fine, I repeat you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, & neither believe nor reject anything because any other persons, or description of persons have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness but uprightness of the decision.

I forgot to observe when speaking of the new testament that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, & not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some however still extant, collected by Fabricius which I will endeavor to get & send you.

[]

Jefferson, T. (1787, August 10). Letter to Peter Carr. Retrieved from teachingamericanhistory.org September 9, 2015.

Voter ID

A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent.

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The court’s opinion said that among residents who lack other forms of acceptable identification, the burden of obtaining a state voter-ID certificate would weigh disproportionately on minorities living in poverty, with many having to travel as much as 200 to 250 miles round trip.

On Tuesday, a separate panel threw out Texas’s redistricting plans, saying the maps drawn by the legislature undermined the political rights of minorities who are responsible for the state’s population growth.

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Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

Clifton 
The cosmos is about 13.8 billion years old.
The human is about 200,000 years old.
The first recorded marriage involving a human occurred about 2,674 years ago.

Marriage contracts were first recorded in the Late Period (661-332 BC), and continued until the first century AD. They were often drawn up by the husband to establish the rights of both parties to maintenance and possessions. The law did not require a marriage to be recorded.

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Appeal to Tradition

Description:
The argument supports a position by appealing to long-standing or traditional opinion, as if the past itself were a kind of authority.

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Marie  I suppose you don’t consider Adam and Eve to’ve been married?
Mark  Did you snope this already? j/k
Joseph  Whoa whoa whoa … I thought everything was only 6,000 years old. Check your facts, heathen.
Clifton  Marie, this hadn’t actually occurred to me. From what I can gather, the thinking behind such a position is that Eve was "wed" to Adam because she was taken from a part of his body and then added back to him to complete him. If that is what it takes, then I would imagine that no marriage since has been valid. No?

Mark, I didn’t. As always, I am open to contradiction. I claim no expertise. Incidentally, Snopes generally does an excellent job of avoiding the argument from authority, which seems to me to be one of the human’s most abused fallacies.

Joseph, I’m glad you responded. I always wonder why my irreligious friends get married. Perhaps you can explain it to me. From my perspective, if you want to be with somebody, you will do that. Fidelity shouldn’t be a problem because you both agree to certain terms prior to formally entering into your relationship. Continue reading Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

American Presidents Mnemonic

When a joke makes men afraid
Just be happy that past thoughts fade
Post bail, leave jail, go home
Great Asian cars have chrome
Machines rule the world; humans compare huts
Roast the Earth! Kick Johnson’s nuts!

  1. Washington
  2. Adams
  3. Jefferson
  4. Madison
  5. Monroe
  6. Adams
  7. Jackson
  8. Van Buren
  9. Harrison
  10. Tyler
  11. Polk
  12. Taylor
  13. Fillmore
  14. Pierce
  15. Buchanan
  16. Johnson
  17. Lincoln
  18. Grant
  19. Hayes
  20. Garfield
  21. Arthur
  22. Cleveland
  23. Harrison
  24. Cleveland
  25. McKinley
  26. Roosevelt
  27. Taft
  28. Wilson
  29. Harding
  30. Coolidge
  31. Hoover
  32. Roosevelt
  33. Truman
  34. Eisenhower
  35. Kennedy
  36. Johnson
  37. Nixon
  38. Ford
  39. Carter
  40. Reagan
  41. Bush
  42. Clinton
  43. Bush
  44. Obama

Gen. Banks

Gen. Banks’s antecedents were unfavorable to him when he landed in New Orleans. True, he was from Massachusetts, and was a Republican: but he belonged to the conservative portion of the party. The word “white” in the militia law, which had so long offended the good taste and better judgment of the majority of the people, was stricken out during the last term of Gov. Banks’s administration, but failed to receive his sanction. In his message vetoing the bill, he resorted to a laborious effort of special pleading to prove that the negro was not a citizen. The fact is, he was a Democrat dressed up in Republican garments. Gen. Butler had brought the whites and blacks nearly to a level with each other as citizens of New Orleans, when he was succeeded by Gen. Banks. The latter at once began a system of treatment to the colored people, which showed that his feelings were with the whites, and against the blacks. The old slave-law, requiring colored persons to be provided with passes to enable them to be out from their homes after half-past eight o’clock at night was revived by Gen. Banks’s understrappers…

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Cover of Henley/Hornsby’s “The End of the Innocence, Rick Perry Edition

ZD YouTube FLV Player

 

I was revisiting this song by Bruce Hornsby and Don Henley recently when word was circulating that Texas governor Rick Perry might end up with the Republican nomination for president.

If you investigate the lyrics a bit, you encounter lines like,

O beautiful for spacious skies
Now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales

If these lines are a bit too opaque, you might be tempted, as I was, to look into what Henley thinks they mean. I turned up the following, from “The White Paper: Don Henley’s ‘Inside Job,’ ” Billboard Magazine, April 8, 2000:

What do you think of [the album] The End of the Innocence from 1989?

I still love the song “New York Minute,” and “The Last Worthless Evening” is just straight-ahead pop, but it’s good. And of course, “The End of the Innocence”: that song is very fixed in time. I think it has enough universality that it could still apply to today, but it was about the whole Reagan era.”

Continue reading Cover of Henley/Hornsby’s “The End of the Innocence, Rick Perry Edition