Saturday, January 31, 2009

Asshat of the Day - January 31st, 2009

Today's Asshats of the Day, collectively, are... the CHP! I've been putting them off for a while, on the basis of "really, really easy targets are unsporting", but their time has come.

Their full title, the Christian Heritage Party (and their sub-nom de plume, "The Right Conservatives!") should give you an idea what this party is about from the get-go, but let's pick apart the asshattery in detail, shall we?

First, there's the tagline present on every page of their site:
The CHP is Canada's only pro-Life, pro-family federal political party, and the only federal party that endorses the principles of the Preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution, which says:

"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law..."

Now, off the bat, they make a really arrogant statement. I'm sure the neoRhinos would claim to be both pro-life and pro-family. In the sense that they are pro-people having a life, and pro-people having a family. Of course, they're also likely to claim to be strawberry jello or figments of your imagination, so I suppose they don't count. Even so, they imply - as most "pro-life, pro-family" types do - that all the other parties want to break up families and kill people (specifically, helpless babies).

Leaving that aside for a moment, let's go into a few more of their more general pages.

Alright, how about here? "Biblical Principles that Guide the Christian Heritage Party of Canada". Yikes. Well, let's have a look:

  • There is one Creator God, eternally existent in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Well, there's probably not. I mean, these guys make some pretty solid counter-apologist arguments against the existence of the Abrahamic God, these guys have a whole index debunking myths about a Creator, and these guys went through that book of yours, pointing out contradictions or blatant falsehoods.

If you want to believe in the Lordship of a dead and possibly mythical figure, feel free - but don't expect sane people to swear fealty to you if you're swearing fealty to ghosts above all others.

  • The Holy Bible to be the inspired, inerrant written Word of God and the final authority above all man's laws and government.

Er, aside from the link above above all man's laws? The shady, patriarchal bible-language aside, Leviticus is a nightmare, if you go by its laws. Also, there's the ever-popular Leviticus 11:10, "And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you." So no shrimp. If you want to throw Leviticus out, because, well, gee, that was the old testament, I'm just fine with that - but you'd better be ready to welcome in the homosexual community, because guess where all the rules about gay folks are? So either give up shrimp, pork, and rabbit, or give up gay bashing. You can't have it both ways.

  • Civil government to be under the authority of God.

You know, on the whole, I'm alright with this, if it doesn't involve the bible or speaking in tongues. The guy hasn't stuck his head in to ask how things are going in going on two thousand years now, and I don't think he's likely to start, so if they want to make a big beard in the sky the authority over the Supreme Court, they can go ahead. They just can't use the Bible, nor can priests of any description claim to have heard from Him unless they have a notarized affidavit attesting to the conversation.

The remainder of that page, though tainted with some "biblical principles" this and "Biblical ethics" that, is largely inoffensive. Which is good, given the content of the rest of the site!

Going through their Policy at length would be an essay in itself, so I'll just pick and choose some of the most horrendous verbiage.

  1. The Canadian Nation
    • 1.0.1 NATIONAL IDENTITY - "In the interests of national identity and stability, we believe it is wise to enhance public appreciation for God’s role in Canada's unique history, laws, freedoms, political structure, resources, economic opportunities, all of which reflect Canada’s Christian heritage."

      Er, sorry, what? Our laws, freedoms, and economic opportunities are in no way the providence of some Creator - that is what was achieved by labour and effort, over years. The resources, I'll leave - I've already expressed my skepticism as to the role of your God in any great act of Creation.

      Look, guys, I realize you're a one-trick pony as a party, but seriously, this is embarrassing.

  2. National Sovereignty
    • 2.1.6 RECRUITMENT - "In general, admission to Canada's armed forces should be open to all applicants who are of the age of eighteen (18) years and who are resident in Canada, in sound physical health and not practicing either unnatural or immoral lifestyles. Recruitment should be on a voluntary basis in time of peace, encouragement being given to those wishing to make a career of the service. Conscription in time of war should make provision for conscientious objectors (on religious grounds) to serve their nation in non -combat roles."

      Okay, I have a few issues here. For one thing, we all know what you mean by "unnatural" lifestyles - and despite what your read-along-with-Father book might say, they're every bit as natural as you or I. Second, the only valid conscientious objection is one based on religious grounds?!? While I would willingly defend my country against an aggressor, what about a moral objection to an unjust war that isn't founded in religious twaddle?

    • 2.1.9 - ROLE OF WOMEN - "Without diminishing the worth of the individual, government should respect the inherent God-given differences (physical and psychological) between men and women within the context of national defense. The role of women in the armed forces should be restricted to non-combat roles."

      So, to summarize, "No offense intended, but we're just going to keep you away from any real fighting for your own safety. Not because you're necessarily weaker or less capable with a weapon than our other recruits, but because of your gender." I'm not a huge supporter of the military, but if a person can do a job, where in the hell does gender come in as a consideration?

  3. National Prosperity. This section has so many bible-reference footnotes, I'm not even going to try.

  4. National Finances. This section hardly mentions God at all, and is broadly in line with my own fiscal conservatism. Except, of course, one of their precepts is getting more money into the hands of the taxpayer by means of tax breaks - and we all know how well that works. However, aside from that, very little objectionable here.

  5. Resource Management
    • 5.0.3. GREENHOUSE GASES - "Both water vapour and carbon dioxide at all historical levels be recognized as beneficial greenhouse gases..."

      Water vapour, being mostly a magnifying effect, I'm willing to cede as a neutral greenhouse gas. But beneficial? Are you guys nuts? Oh, wait...

  6. The Law

    Now, there's way too much for me to list here, so I'll just hit the highlights:

    • Original Sin under the law.

    • Consultation of the Bible before making legislation.

    • The Bible's rules are beyond reproach in Parliament.

    • Special government protection for Christian institutions. Not religious, mind you. Just Christian.

    • No euthanasia.

    • Abortions are bad and should never be performed. Not in the event of rape, or hazard to the mother's health. Never.

    • Pornography? Illegal.

    • In-vitro fertilization, sperm donors, and pregnant lesbians? Right out.

    • Gay marriage? Please.

    • One that I have to quote in its entirety, just to emphasize the asshattedness of the policy: "It should be beyond the power of any legislative or administrative body to recognize, affirm, condone, or discriminate in favor of, identifiable sexually aberrant individuals or groups." (Emphasis added.) So not beyond the power of the government to discriminate against. They just can't recognize them publicly. Hm.

    • Mothers should be encouraged to stay home. Not "caregivers", mind. Mothers.

    • Banning the teaching of positive viewpoints on abortion, homosexuality, and the occult, among others.

    • No laws banning hate speech.

    • To reiterate: Porn == Bad.

    • Capital punishment. But not abortion!

    • Laws based on the Bible, rather than current events.


  7. Civil Government

    • 7.0.2. CHURCH AND STATE
      We affirm that government and some belief system are inextricably intertwined, and that faith and government, therefore, cannot be segregated. Though the mandate of church and state are different, we deny that God and His Word should be separate from either institution.

      Seriously. WHAT THE HELL?

    • You know what? It keeps getting worse. So again, I'll try to hit the highlights.

    • Human rights come secondary to the rule of the Bible.

    • Human beings are human beings from conception onwards!

    • Proportional representation. Gee, I wonder why?

    • Want to be a Supreme Court Justice? Then you'd better be a God-fearin' Christian!

  8. The Public Service

    Pretty inoffensive. No mention of God, or of the moral decrepitude that is clearly overwhelming our country.

  9. Welfare Services

    Quick summary: Fewer welfare cases, sex should only be in marriage, because that would stop the spread of STDs.

  10. Arts and Communication


      In view of the awesome power of the media and entertainment industries to shape public sentiment and attitudes, we favor the adoption of national codes of ethics to restore objectivity and to uphold wholesome traditional values. In the past, censorship implied the suppression of legitimate view-points or facts. In our own time 'censorship' is necessary to protect the weak and gullible from the avaricious. Therefore, a code of ethics incumbent on the mass media and entertainment industries, both printed and electronic, is necessary to halt the debauching of public morals, particularly those of the young.

      I am, somehow, unsurprised.

      ... [I]f the media and arts are unable to regulate, by a self-imposed code of decency, those things which are calculated not to inform but to titillate or disinform, then censorship by authority becomes essential.

      Again, I'd like to say I'm surprised that they want to slap a muzzle on media. I'd like to.

      Government support of the arts should continue, but it must not be left aimless -- a condition in which it is susceptible to misuse or abuse by anti-social, anti-religious, immoral or unpatriotic ideologues. Instead, government funding should be targeted to works that ennoble the human spirit, educate, preserve and transmit the values of our culture and the Christian principles upon which they are based, encourage the aspiration to be better human beings, and glorify the Creator.
      (Emphasis added.)

      So, we'll keep paying for the arts - but only the arts that we want the people to see. And yet this is the group who says totalitarian regimes are a bad thing.

      The National Film Board should be reduced to an archival facility with a limited budget to purchase Canadian-made productions which document Canada's culture, history, natural history, and educational standards.

      And as a last bitter stab, we'll go and gut a prominent Canadian institution.

There are hundreds of pages of stuff, which may be revisited in the future, if there's a slow day, but the long and the short of it is that the whole party's insane. They want to turn the clock back to 1920, legally and socially.

News flash, CHP. It's not a lack of proportional representation that's meant your party's never landed a seat in Parliament. It's the fact that your policies are thinly-veiled bigotry, sexism, and theocratic mutterings. It's the fact that you're clearly hypocritical and, frankly, apparently unstable. It is, more than anything else, the fact that you purport to know what everyone needs better than they themselves do.

You want to evangelize? Take a lesson from what happened to the smokers, and so it in the privacy of your own home. Don't take it into a political forum.

Addendum - this is just too juicy.

So, get this. The CHP posted a bit about climate change, the danger of the UN, and the IPCC. If I had an irony meter, it would probably have exploded - take a gander:

Thousands of respected climatologists have raised their voices (and signed a document) in vain to warn that the "science" behind the IPCC's fear-mongering is in fact woefully unscientific: it tolerates no questioning of its basic premise, which is not a scientific orthodoxy but a religious dogma: "Human activity is altering the world's climate, and disaster portends." Saints Gore and Suzuki have uttered the decrees, and doubts are heretical and sinful.

Is it possible that they miss the massive cognitive dissonance involved in a party which defines itself by religion using a comparison with religious dogma to throw science into a negative light?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Asshat of the Day - January 30th, 2009

Today's candidate - fellow blogger Big Blue Wave.

Now, granted, she's a staunch Conservative supporter, but we won't let that count against her - not when she does so well on her own. I know some otherwise quite sane Conservative supporters - but Suzanne here is emphatically not one of them.

Her primary cause is that of the anti-abortionist - but, as is the wont of those people involved in disputes of this nature, she categorizes her viewpoint as "pro-life", and that of her opponents on this field of battle as either "pro-abortion" or "non-pro-life" (making them, perhaps, pro-death?). She's also one of those who believes that a new human being is formed the moment a sperm and an egg kiss.

Well, I have some issues with that viewpoint. First, it means a lot of human beings are dying every day. A LOT. It means that instead of the six billion deaths we think occurred in human history, it's actually more like eighteen billion. Second, it means that a woman who is barren due to uterine scarring who then (having no reason to worry about pregnancy) engages in unprotected sex with her partner a murderer. Third - what then of twins? Are they forced to share the same human-beingness, as they came from the same union of sperm and egg? Or is that definition suddenly flexible enough to allow it to be assigned to two?

I also have issue with the propaganda photos on her site. Given her viewpoint, she should be more vociferous about IUDs and the Morning-After pill than the controversy of late-term abortions, given that the former, beyond a doubt, "kill" far more "pre-born human beings" than the latter. (250 000 Canadian women use IUDs, 8% of Canadian women use the morning-after pill annually; a vanishing 0.4% of all surgically/medically induced abortions in Canada are late-term (potentially viable fetuses), or about 200 annually.) Why then the focus on late-term abortion? Because it's photogenic. Show people pictures of cells dividing and then being washed away, and you're not going to get anyone to identify. Late-term fetuses look sufficiently like infants that abortions (particularly using the most popular method in the US, DX (Dilation and Extraction)) produce the kind of images shown on her site. (Here in Canada, late-term abortions are performed by inducing labour. Since the reason for a late-term abortion is almost always for the health of the mother or due to a critical birth defect in the child, the result is almost always a stillbirth. This is not a "partial birth" abortion, as the term has been coined in the States.

She also directs a lot of her ire towards "feminists". Apparently, "[g]irls are secretly dying for [gentlemanly behaviour]. I know. They might seem liberated. Most girls aren't." That's a pretty sweeping statement. Now, if you define "gentlemanly" behaviour as polite behaviour... well, you'll find a lot of guys dying for that too! Most (I'd almost go so far as to say "all") the girls I know are very much liberated. They don't need a guy to open doors for them, they don't need a man to make their life feel complete, they aren't eagerly awaiting the day they can be a mother. They have a healthy sense of their own sexuality and sex drive, and can communicate their desires to their partners, rather than slavishly kow-towing to their needs. They may want children, but it is not the acme of their existence. Once they have children, that will not be viewed as their final worthwhile accomplishment. Suzanne paints a picture suggesting that every abortion performed is a victory for the feminists, who celebrate in their conspiratorial black chambers and drink the blood of infants. Well... perhaps not quite that extreme. But pretty close.

Finally, we come to faith. Now, this clearly nails down where her "an embryo is a person from the moment of conception" malarkey comes from. Clearly, God waits eagerly for the moment an egg and a sperm meet, and *bam!* soulifies it then and there. But... what about the stuff I wrote earlier? Doesn't that mean for every soul that winds up in a human walking about on the earth, one (or more!) gets kicked back out of what might have one day been a body and sent to heaven or hell off the bat? (Hell, by the way, if you believe in Original Sin. No chance to get baptized or saved there. Straight to hell.) That would be... well, for one thing, incredibly wasteful, but for another, profoundly unfair, which is not really what one would expect from a "just and loving god". Mind you, the guy really is a jerk. He's the one who makes the rules, and yet heaven is barred to those who don't believe in him? Talk about insecure!

Now, that aside, she goes on to say that the word of the Pope on matters of morality and faith is infallible. I'm sorry, you're going to let someone else dictate to you what is moral and what is not? How you should worship? How you should pray? This despite Jesus, the guy who's sorta important to Christianity, saying "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." (Matthew 6:7). And you trust a man who looks like Emperor Palpatine in a funny hat to be this guiding light?

You know, come to it, Suzanne, I think I understand why you say the things you do. I just need to work on why you are the way you are. Someone failed you, at some point. It just must've been pretty early.

*sighs* Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the AotD.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No, no, no, no, NO! BAD Harper!

An $85 Billion deficit?!? Are you insane?!

You DON'T want to be a second Mulroney. Chretien and Martin executed a spectacular turnaround, and it's taken you all of four years (not even!) to return to debt inflation the likes of which we haven't seen since the mid-nineties.

Now, I'm not saying these aren't difficult times. Markets are weaker, and we're definitely in what counts as a recession these days (growth in single digits, or no growth at all). This, you had no control over. So it's possible we might have run a minor deficit as government spending was curbed. But what I can (and do) blame you for is what you did in times of plenty. Tax cuts galore, to the rich, to businesses - and, worst of all, to the GST.

I grant you, the GST is a minor annoyance when buying luxuries. But it doesn't apply to staples, so it's a sales tax that doesn't hurt the poor. How perfect is that?

But courtesy of a little mathematical legwork done by Mike Watkins, we can see that Harper's been engineering this deficit for months now, and only now reveals it to the public. Harper's taking out an extended mortgage on the strength of our future. Leading economists claim that the Conservative strategy is predicated on a "short, sharp" recession, rather than the prolonged one that appears to be taking shape. But for the sake of argument, we'll say that Harper finds the income, in 2013, to start paying down the deficit right away, at eight billion dollars a year. By the time we pay off the debt accumulated in the upcoming few years, it'd be ~$95B, not $85B - assuming, of course, that the Cons stick to that value.

So low interest rates notwithstanding - the price for this newly-acquired debt is ten billion dollars that could be better employed doing... anything.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Smoking Addendum

So, today, on the CBC, in response to this story, one gentleman wrote

Why do non-smokers care?
I don't smoke, and as long as there isn't a cloud of smoke hanging in the air (bad for me or not) what's the difference?
Let people smoke so long as it doesn't affect others.

Now, as you may recall, I had some things to say about smokers. So I couldn't very well let this go by unchallenged:

Well, ordinarily, I'd agree with you, except that in Canada, we've got universal health care. Studies have shown that anywhere from 8-10% of all hospital funding goes to care for individuals with smoking-induced chronic illnesses (emphysema, lung/throat cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia complications, etc.) Now, the two LARGER drains on healthcare are obesity and age. Age... we can't really do anything about. Everyone ages. Obesity, we can work against to some extent, but people can be genetically predisposed to gain weight (granted, not to the extent that some people DO gain weight, but the point stands).

However, there is no reason in the world why anyone should start smoking. Its limited beneficial mental effects are entirely canceled out by the detriment of addiction, and everything else it does is toxic. It creates the concept of the "smoking break", which takes employees away from their desks as often as twice an hour, in some places I've worked. It poisons the user and the air around them as they pass others. It destroys their skin, their clothes, and even any building in which they smoke. Alcohol, in limited doses (particularly red wine) has been shown to have a salutary effect on the health of the imbiber. No such effect has been shown of nicotine - let alone all the other chemicals in cigarette smoke.

So, my stance is this. Smokers can continue to smoke as much as they want, at the cost to their health and their finances - but it has to be out of the public venue, and they have to turn in their health cards. If they're willing to pay for the treatments for the damage they're doing to themselves, damage which is entirely without merit, they can go on smoking. But not on my dollar.

Now, I'm as much for human rights as the next guy - perhaps moreso, depending on who the next guy is. However, I firmly believe that your rights end where my nose begins, and the above was my expression of that. This, of course, led to some angry people shouting back:

I suppose you don't subject yourself to the dangers of automobile travel? Ever flown in an airplane.
Play Hockey

And I bet you eat commercial food laden with sodium and other additives.

If you can truthfully say you don't have any lifestyle issues that may have connections to health costs, then you can speak on this issue.

However, if you are like most smoke nazi's, the term hypocrite may fit.

{name removed}- a proud Ex- smoker


you say that if people smoke they should hand in their health cards...

Do you even know how much money is taken in from cigarette taxes? These taxes fund the province's health-care system, and infrastructure such as roads, water and sewage systems.

IF cigarettes were causing the government to LOSE money, they would ban it, stop selling it.

"The Auditor General (of Ontario) says the province is losing half a billion dollars in tax revenue to the contraband tobacco trade, but we think it's more like $1 billion," said Steve Tennant, vice-president of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association."

So before you want to start taking rights away of those who smoke, maybe you should consider taking a good look at our government. They are making WAY too much money to stop selling them, yet at the same time spend a bunch of money to produce these "quit smoking" programs.

Does anyone here see the contradiction?

Taxes from tobacco pays for the health care portion of those sick and still has left over monies for other things. Its not a question of to smoke or not to smoke. Its a question of "if people stop smoking, what will the government tax next that will produce the revenue tobacco has"?

I do not advocate smoking, nor do I smoke. I just hate when people make comments like "smokers should have no right"....

Soon it will be, "Fat people shouldn't allowed to eat whatever they want, its costing us all TOO MUCH!"

Now, in short response to the first (longer response to follow) - this is a bit of an ad hominem attack, as my own status is immaterial to the argument I put forth. Notwithstanding, I make efforts to keep myself healthy and do not engage in unnecessarily risky activities.

In response to the second, well, yes, I do know what money is brought in through cigarette taxes. I also know that a 2002 study indicates that the cost to Canada of tobacco use is $17B. To say that this overshadows money brought in by taxation is to understate the fact.

But enough of that - my longer response:

The issue in my mind is not danger - leaving your house is dangerous. It's just that applying your examples to cigarette smoking is a false analogy.

I don't drive for the sake of driving - I drive (sparingly, I might note) to get from one location to another, or to move heavy objects that I cannot carry with me on public transit. I drive as little as possible since I want to minimize my contribution to the pollution that engenders the same chronic lung conditions to which smokers voluntarily expose themselves.

Airplane crashes and skydiving accidents seldom run up hospital bills. Usually, they have one bill. Funerary.

I cook everything I eat at home, and watch my calorie count, weight, and general fitness.

Skiing, playing soccer, etc, can result in injury - but they also promote fitness, which will likely stave off or mitigate the eventual effects of aging. Possibly still a net detriment, but I think that one would have to be called by an actuary. Myself, I prefer cross-country skiing to downhill, so my chance of injury for my preferred method of strapping large planks of pseudo-wood to my feet is somewhat limited.

Now. I do work as a software developer, and therefore my workday is largely sedentary (that is to say, I spend most of it sitting). This, naturally, detracts from my overall health, and may, one day, contribute to the hospital bill my aging self will run up. However, I do my best in my day-to-day life to mitigate the effects of the workday... and while I'm at work, I try to have a good stretch and a brief walk every few hours, when I'm in a lull (as I am now.)

My assertion, however, was not that I am perfect - no one is - but rather that there is NOTHING that can make smoking generally beneficial. The biggest contribution to my eventual demands on the health care system is my job - the means by which I earn the money that I contribute to our health care system. What similar defense can be offered of the insidious cigarette? (Taxation on the purchase of cigarettes, by the way, is orders of magnitude smaller than the costs associated with caring for their victims.)

So yes, I could be better - but I live my life doing my best to contribute to society, rather than take from it. I am acutely aware of hypocrisy, and do my best never to practice it. And I think I am, in fact, entitled to make a comment on those who poison themselves recreationally at the expense of our beleaguered health care system.

Now, in addition to that, there are other costs. The financial cost to a smoker is severalfold: capital loss on the resale value of their house, increased cost of insurance, loss of revenue due to increased recovery time from any injury, and of course, the cost of the cigarettes themselves. This reduction in available funds corresponds directly to decreased taxation on these individuals, further increasing the drain they represent on our economy.

I don't think it's a matter of contention - smoking is an evil that should be forbidden. I think that simply withdrawing health care from those who indulge in it is far too little to do, rather than an overreaction.

Monday, January 5, 2009

50 Reasons Debra Rufini Should Leave Her E-mail Client Closed

Well, if she hadn't recently e-mailed Dr. Myers, I'd never have seen her original post. Low-hanging fruit indeed! One would argue that this loose collection of half-assed attempts to disprove evolution, straw man attacks and similar logical fallacies, misquotations, begging-the-question rhetoric and plain old-fashioned ignorance was ripe for mockery - and it was, back in July.

Now, it's a bit stale - but back when it was fresh-minted, some other people got it into their heads to give it a turn on the Wheel of Systematic Argument Deconstruction. Here are a few of the best.

  • Right to Think - Concise and devastating. Probably my favourite.

  • Iron Chariots - This... this isn't just devastating. This is kill the army, salt the earth, and melt the ground to glass. A little bit of overkill, to be sure... but overkill is the best kind of kill.

  • Zombie Underground - The June 23rd post. Brief answers, but I can't imagine I'd have the patience to exhaustively take it apart unless I had a few cups of caffeine in me.

Idiocy torn bare for all to see. Always a nice read.