Monday, June 11, 2007

Couple of things

- Wow. Nate Pulliam? I felt they'd go with James Marlow, so this is quite shocking. It's sorta like them endorsing Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. You have to wonder how this affects the race, and by that I mean if any moderate Republicans that Marlow and Jim Whitehead were fighting over would take a new look at Pulliam. Or, knowing that Athens-Clarke County is going to turn out strong for Marlow, perhaps it's an intentional effort to steer those moderate-to-conservative voters away from Whitehead. Hence this fabulous final paragraph ...

There's really not much substance in the Whitehead platform, which relies on tired bromides like the convenient shorthand that this country should fight the war on terror in Iraq so that we don't have to fight it over here. He seems over-handled, under-prepared and generally empty of solid ideas for our future.

- Also, the Athens Banner-Herald has put up a handy audio and video guide to the 10th Congressional District Candidates. Looks like it's pretty useful, but let me quibble with one minor thing ... the two presumed frontrunners, Whitehead and Marlow, appear to be the only ones with negative statements in their written summaries while the remaining candidates (including Bill Greene who could probably have several witty remarks in his if they're playing this game across the board) don't. Now, seeing how it's for a Republican and Democrat one can't say it's partisan, but it does seem to be a little unfair in my opinion.

UPDATE: Through looking at the actual bios and some conversations with folks in the know, the summaries only show the criticism by their opponents, which would explain why three candidates feature 'negative' comments as those three - Whitehead, Marlow and Paul Broun - are the presumed frontrunners. It wasn't an intentional act or form of commentary, which makes sense. I still contend it would be better to avoid the 'negative' criticism all across the board, but there is a dramatic difference between intentionally inserting this and merely restating existing opponent criticism.

- This story is ridiculous and is a small example of everything wrong with the pro-life movement, and I say this as someone who considers himself pro-life. First off, can I say how stupid it is to shout at cars whizzing by you on Highway 441? Second, it's offensive to show those images to small children (note those quoted in the story who sympathize with Kevin Whitman's beliefs, but are appalled by his tactics). Third, I don't think it's a rather effective way of ministering to folks. Fourth, way to go out a limb and go to such 'hostile' environments like Commerce, Jefferson or Hendersonville, N.C. ... is it just me, or would you bet that he's doing more harm than good since the majority of the folks in those communities probably share his beliefs and are now outraged with his actions?

- I'll have to go into this a bit later, but it's actually quite simple ... more competition equals more choices and more options for the consumer, while local governments still have the ability to negotiate and secure their public access channels. These providers understand that offering these channels are important, and I think that will be realized once this gets going. Furthermore, I don't see how this harms customer service standards. Rather than rely on the government for a fine (who does this by the way ... I always called Charter directly), the consumer now has increased options and the ability to move to a different provider (you'd be surprised how fast Charter would address my problem when I dropped the line 'well, I'm thinking about switching to the Dish ...').

- Since I'm Capt. Contrarian today, let me also say that I think Jason Winders' column on the Clarke Central school ranking raised some interesting issues, but missed the larger point of the Newsweek rankings ... which is that this particular school, which gets criticized by so many, actually does offer a strong, well-rounded academic foundation for all of its students. The problem isn't with the school's academic offerings, but with a variety of other factors which are probably more societal in their roots.


Blogger Nicki said...

Agreed 100%. I, too, am shocked by the lack of negativity ascribed to Greene -- the man is at best an extremist and at worst mentally ill. And his campaign represents a completely paranoid and negative view of america.

As to the pro-life movement, I question the efficacy of waving bloody fetus photos at passing cars. Though, personally, I don't have an opinion on whether it is legal or not. It is unpleasant, yes, but is it wrong or is it in the interest of the public good that it be curtailed?

Re: The Clarke Central article, shame on Jason Winders. ALL rankings are somewhat arbitrary and pretty damned inaccurate as far as predicting the quality an individual student might encounter at any given school. Clarke Central is the victim of countless tales of its inadequacy, and this ranking is a small indicator of the opposite -- its quality in some aspects. It should be shouted from the rooftops. Also, Winders asks what good it does Clarke Central. It would be better if he asked what good it does Athens, because we often hear that the schools are a major reason why people prefer to locate in Oconee.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pulliam was far and away the class of the GOP field in last week's debate.

I think JMac pretty much acknowledged as much.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Indeed I did my good anonymous friend. He was respectful, thoughtful and open-minded. That isn't to say that I agreed with him, but he had his stuff together.

I still like Marlow for a variety of reasons.

And, Nicki, while I don't dispute what you're saying about Clarke Central - in fact I agree with it 100 percent - I would say that I don't think Winders tried to poormouth the school. I disagreed with him regarding whether or not touting its success was a good thing for the school, but he was questioning the methodology.

I like the notion that we evaluate our schools based on something other than standardized test scores.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous C said...

You're pro life? Wow I would not have suspected that. Congrats.

Regarding this guy - free speech is free speech, whether it is unpleasant or wrong or "in the interest of the public good that it be curtailed." Even if it is "in the interest of the public good that it be curtailed," free speech is free speech. Period.

Regarding the substance of the issue itself - I'm not sure that ketchup covered dolls are the vehicle I would have chosen. However, I was head of the group that brought the Genocide Awareness Project to UGA in 2005, and would do it again. My belief is that people will not end abortion until they see abortion.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Right, but not all free speech is free speech. For instance, you can't make threats to someone and there are profane images which are not permitted. Also, certain folks under the age of 17 are not permitted to see movies with a particularl rating.

Whether or not these images constitute a violation of that is another thing.

10:06 PM  
Blogger hillary said...

I like the notion that we evaluate our schools based on something other than standardized test scores.

Sheesh, y'all. There is room between blind boosterism and total negativity. I would be more than happy to send my kids to Clarke Central or to Cedar Shoals. Frankly, I don't believe in school choice. And I think that it's certainly possible to get an excellent education at pretty much any school in the country if you apply yourself. But I don't think the number of AP classes offered is any more accurate a measure of educational quality than test scores. To give you an example, the excellent private high school where I went (Paideia) only offered European History, Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, and maybe one more AP class. Admittedly, this was in the mid-1990s and I'm sure they have more now, but, you know, the point is that it's a stupid measure.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

I think the way to say it, Johnathan, is "Not all speech is free speech." And, as we all know, there are a number of ways in which state and/or social factors work to limit the kinds of speech permissible in public.

Nevertheless, would c have a problem with the graphic depiction of both murdered and killed-in-combat US soldiers? Rather than sanitize their deaths by putting little white crosses in public view, perhaps we need a Martial Awareness Project, to show people what happens when "we take the fight to the enemy." Or, in other words, force our children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, to die in a foreign and unknown place rather than on the soil of their family.

Afterall, it's just a picture.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Fair enough Hillary, but how would you go about proposing if schools are working to meet their children's needs? I think gauging academic diversity as well as academic performance are two useful tools to do so.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

By contrast, Hillary, the public school I was zoned to didn't offer any. Because it was a cruddy school. Paideia, on the other hand, doesn't offer APs because its entire offering is relatively advanced. Paideia is a private school -- and like the high school I attended it wouldn't be assessed in these rankings at all. But for most public schools whether or not APs are offered, and in how many subjects, suggests the extent to which advanced work is being done. It's a useful measure, particularly when you're talking about a school that serves a wide cross-section of the academic population.

C, I completely disagree with you. First, I consider the legality of abortion ('cause that's what we're discussing -- not whether or not women should choose abortion) to be a simple matter of medical privacy. (JMac, did you mean pro-life in the sense that you intend to block access to abortion?) And second, I feel that the purpose of offensive images is not to educate -- it is to shock and disgust. Personally, I've seen all those images. So has just about every person on this planet at some point. But I also used to work for a doctor -- I've seen equally repugnant things which no one wishes to make illegal because they are medically necessary at times and they are in any case to be determined between myself and my physician.

When will the politicians of this world insist that I get permission, view disgusting photos of my deviated septum surgery, and wait 24 hours before I can have it done? When will they insist that if I knew how yucky it was, I wouldn't do it? When will I be treated like a child with regard to the care of my own body in any other case?

11:28 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Nicki, I wouldn't be one of those types of folks, and I have serious disagreements with the majority of the existing pro-life movement and am more sympathetic, though not entirely, to organizations like Democrats for Life.

It's a rather complicated issue for me because I have strong personal beliefs regarding the issue, but also have a legal respect and understanding for things like Roe v. Wade. Thus, the topic is muddy for me.

I don't really want to get sidetracked here on it. Not because I'm averse to discussing it, but because I would need a longer forum to flesh out my thoughts on the matter.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

Nevertheless, would c have a problem with the graphic depiction of both murdered and killed-in-combat US soldiers? Rather than sanitize their deaths by putting little white crosses in public view, perhaps we need a Martial Awareness Project, to show people what happens when "we take the fight to the enemy." Or, in other words, force our children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, to die in a foreign and unknown place rather than on the soil of their family.

Afterall, it's just a picture.

Great point, Charles. Will be interested to hear responses (if any).

11:40 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

I don't mind the number of AP classes being made public, but, as I said, I don't really believe in school choice because I think it promotes disparity. I believe in equal funding for all schools based on a reasonable formula, and, while I may have benefited from it, I'm not really in favor of private education. I hope I don't backslide on that if/when I have a child, but I may. I'm leaving the door to hypocrisy wide open.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous C said...

Ahh so you are one of those lilly-livered people who are "personally pro life, BUT..." In other words, you're pro-abortion. Let's not mince words shall we.

Poulos - your post was an attempt to be personally offensive to me. I shall dismiss it accordingly.

Nicki - a simple surgery, involving your own body, is of an entirely different character than abortion, which does not involve only your body but a child's body also. A child is of an entirely different character than your septum or your femur or any other such body part. I think that is scientifically beyond dispute, is it not?

When will pro-aborts get it through their heads? They keep saying it's my body, it's my body, it's my body. No honey, it's not your body. It's a CHILD's body.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

C, with as much respect as I can muster, we completely disagree.

First, regarding being personally anti-abortion, but publicly for the right of women to privacy and medical care regardless of whether they are pregnant or not (which I am assuming JMac might support), that's a very logical position. In fact, I would argue that many people are personally opposed to having or causing anyone else to have an abortion. That describes me accurately. At the same time, I am completely opposed to the state monitoring women's reproductive status and denying them the right to make decisions regarding their own medical care. Period. Not only am I opposed as a woman, but as a libertarian. I am opposed to unnecessary government intervention.

And who is pro-abortion, exactly? Nobody. The more accurate term would be pro-self-determination, pro-medical-privacy, or merely pro-woman. I favor allowing women and their medical providers to make their own decision -- let's not mince about and pretend that you do, too.

As for your condescending little statement about babies, no, we don't agree, and it is not scientific fact. Neither you nor I are God, and therefore neither of us can know if a child would result from any individual blastocyst. Nor do we know when said blastocyst is certain to become a child.

And it is potentially a child's body, but it is most certainly mine. It is my 9 months of gestation and my up to 18 years of care. And it is my health and well-being. When will the pro-forced-birth crowd get that? Perhaps when the pro-forced-birth crowd stops equating the rights and responsibilities of a 40 year-old woman and a piece of genetic material that cannot even be detected by medical science.

And Jmac, I'm very interested in hearing your personal philosophy at some point. If you wish to put it forth.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous chucky said...

I don't understand this "potential child" business. The child is a human being, the same as you, as soon as the sperm shakes the egg's hand.

I will grant that a spermatozoan or an ovum is a "potential child" and would not be entitled to rights. However, when there IS a child, not a potential child, that child is entitled to rights.

Your right to "privacy" (even if such a thing exists, which is arguable on both sides) does NOT extend to murdering another human being. Eliminating a "potential child", maybe - but once that child is A CHILD and not a "potential child" then he has rights that your "right to privacy" just has to yield to.

"Blastocyst" is just another way of saying tiny child. Scientifically there is no difference. Care you to present scientific evidence showing that the baby is not a human being?

It is interesting that people try to couch the issue in terms of "women's rights." It's an issue of children's rights. Being a woman does not grant anyone special authority to speak on children's rights. (Unless you are submitting that being born with certain biology means that you should not have the right to speak on political issues, which I'm SURE you're not submitting.)

In fact, I would submit that fathers should have just as much say as mothers. The baby is, after all, their child too, and their "up to 18 years of care" as well, is she not?

5:13 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

We both know fathers are perfectly capable of evading 18 years of responsibility and are not responsible for the physical act of gestation. But that's neither here nor there.

And I will not debate scientific fact with someone who asserts that a collection of cells which cannot sustain itself, reason, or make decisions for itself is equal to an adult human. If you wish to assert that it is "just the same" as you or I, then you must prove it.

And finally, the right to self-determination is our most basic right, and it should never be yielded.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous c said...

So let's say I have a child, the child is 6 years old. I decide I don't want the child anymore. Should I be allowed to just kill him? Why not? Certainly I have the right to self-determination, and I have self-determined that my SELF does not want a child anymore. So what's wrong with me killing him?

Of course you will not discuss the scientific aspect. How did I know that even before you typed it? Because you know that biologically, the child is a separate unique human being, with his own separate unique DNA, from the moment of conception. DNA is science.

Regarding your other non-scientific arguments: If the inability to reason meant that one no longer has the right to life, we would only have TWO Athens-Clarke County Corruptioners left. (I'm certainly not suggesting that would be a terribly BAD thing...)

4:07 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Well, was it just an attempt to offend, or did I succeed?

At any rate, chucky, would you consider an acephalic-acardiac twin (reverse arterial perfusion) to be a child who cannot be terminated through abortive means? Either this is a child or she is not. And, is this a decision you will make for other families, or is this a decision that they will make for themselves, or is this a decision that no one can make, since it was already a made decision once conception produced human DNA?

I mean, if a blastocyst is just a "tiny child" and is therefore fully entitled to all of the rights any child, prenatal or neonatal or postnatal, enjoys, then surely there is nothing about the acephalic-acardiac twin that prevents her from also enjoying such rights, since this twin grew from a tiny-child/blastocyst. Not even the fact that she has no nervous system and no heart, and is largely just human tissue.

Which, of course, means that anything which grew once from a blastocyst has childlike rights ("Suffer not the little children..."). Anything that is largely just human tissue.

8:20 AM  

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