Friday, March 29, 2013

Life is fair.

Life is fair.

There, I said it, and I’m somebody. Somebody has just said life is fair. Let me go on record as saying life is fair. Let me say it multiple times, in multiple tenses, just to make sure:

Life is fair. Life was fair. Life is going to be fair.

This is how I’m going to become famous. By uttering that one sentence, I can now become a household name, because in writing that one sentence I have destroyed a giant cliché. The cliché is “No one ever said that life is fair.” Now, anyone who reads my blog will be able to say that’s not true, because I said it. You can quote me, give the URL, print out this blog entry, give the date and time, you name it, there’s proof.

Same thing with “Where is it written that life is supposed to be fair?” Right here: Life is supposed to be fair. Life is supposed to be fair. It's written right here on this obscure blog.

Now if you’re really clever or want to forget reading this or don’t want to stoke my ego, you could of course offer your own individual rebuttal whenever anyone says the cliché. For example:

Trite Idiot: “No one ever said life is fair.”
You: “Life is fair. Now you can’t say that anymore.”

I’m not saying I believe that life is fair. I recognize the mountain of counterevidence against the idea of the inherent fairness of human existence. However, the trite proverb is that no one ever said it, not that no one ever believed it. I am perfectly capable of saying something or writing something online that I don’t really believe. I’m clearly not alone in that ability. You can disagree with me all you want, but you can never say that no one ever said it.

There is one major flaw in all this, which is that my attempt can be thwarted by the logical fallacy of equivocation, which (as I understand it) includes changing the definition of a word in the middle of a debate in order to prove the original statement. It’s extremely common and it’s a total no-no as far as rational discussion goes, but a lot of people fall for it or are tempted to use it. So, for example:

Trite Idiot: “Nobody ever said life was fair.”
Smartass: “Temujin said it just last week on his blog.”
Trite Idiot: “Who’s Temujin?”
Smartass: “Nobody.”
Trite Idiot: “See, I was right. Nobody said life was fair.”

P.S. I'm a trite idiot myself sometimes, so please don't anyone take that as a total insult. I don't use that phrase to suggest I'm a better person.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Radical Centrist Idea #3: Second Amendment Abortion Rights

Another Reason Why I’m Completely Unelectable

Totally Fair, Totally Offensive Idea #3:

Bridge the liberal/conservative divide by treating abortion as a gun rights issue.

What American partisan politics needs is more outside-the-box thinking. For example, American politics could end much of the nasty wrangling over abortion if someone could create a clever way to use firearms technology. If someone could perfect a procedure in which a doctor could perform an abortion using a handgun, terminating the fetus without unduly harming the pregnant woman, then much of the conservative criticism of abortion rights should evaporate overnight.

Perform a pregnancy termination using a firearm, and this would make abortion clearly protected by the Second Amendment. The NRA would have to take a pro-choice stance. It would be a simple matter of redefining the procedure as “standing your ground against a dangerous intruder.” Declare the fetus to be a burglar, claim you were afraid for your life, and the NRA has to support your right of self-defense. Any time a woman dies in childbirth, Second Amendment gun-rights activists could then say, “if only she had a gun on her, that wouldn’t have happened.” And, people against gun control can then say with great conviction, “when abortion is outlawed, only outlaws will have abortions.”

Meanwhile, in the absence of such technology, we’ll just have to make do with what we have. So, if Second Amendment truthers are willing to define “arms” broadly enough to include just about anything, then I wish to include every abortion instrument under the definition of “arms.” I hereby declare the razor-tipped curette as my self-defense weapon of choice. If abortion is murder, then that means there was a weapon used. Something used as a weapon can be used in self-defense. Something used in self-defense is in principle protected under the Second Amendment. I hereby declare all abortion instruments to be part of my national heritage, and I am within the spirit of America to resist any attempt by my government to restrict my use of it. You can take away reproductive rights from my cold, dead fingers.

Here's my vision: the NRA merges with NARA and become a political powerhouse covering the entire political spectrum. They already use the same letters. They can call it N(A)RA.

Radical Centrist Rule #2: Take the Whole Country

You can file this next to my previous immigration compromise, which liberals and conservatives can both hate in equal measure:

Whatever country in the world the U.S. should take as its model for national health care, the U.S. should also take as a model for immigration policy.

You want Switzerland's very solid universal health care? Then you take Switzerland's very restrictive immigration laws. You want China's really cheap universal health care coverage? Then you have to take China's incredibly stringent immigration laws.

(In order to get a visa to work in China as a teacher, I was required by the Chinese government to have a full physical exam, complete with an HIV test, TB screen, and an EKG. No one with a heart condition is allowed to immigrate to China to work. I had to demonstrate to the government of China that someone in the government of China had officially invited me. Now THAT is a tough immigration policy. China won't even let overweight people adopt babies from China. Definitely hard core.)

Let liberals import another country's health care system, and let conservatives import the immigration policies. Unless we're saying that not everything Europeans do should be emulated.....


My Radical Centrist Proposal -- Something for Everyone to Love and Hate

How a Fetus is Like an Illegal Immigrant
In American today, liberals and conservatives are both inconsistent in their politics. They’re both hypocritical in some ways. What I propose is the perfect political compromise, which will force both sides to be consistent. It is such a perfectly balanced compromise that it will never happen. (This  idea seems so obvious to me now that I can't possibly be the first one to think of this. I have to assume that someone else has come up with this before, probably Bill Maher or Dennis Miller).

So, here’s my new rule for American law:

Anything you can do to a terror suspect or illegal immigrant you can do to an embryo/fetus, and anything you can do to an embryo/fetus you can do to a terror suspect or illegal immigrant.
You can’t be a conservative who argues that non-citizens are people when the people are unborn but then treat non-citizens like non-people when they’re immigrants. You can’t be a liberal who says that non-citizens are people too no matter where they're born and then deny non-citizens rights just because they aren’t born yet. One side wants to deny equality for those not born in a particular place, and others want to deny equality for those not born.
Because, basically, a fetus is an undocumented alien. It’s not a citizen, because under current law a citizen has to be literally born in order to be a citizen. There’s an actual “place of birth” on all the forms, whether it’s a birth certificate, passport application, etc. Being born in a particular location requires that you are actually born.

If a fetus is to be treated as a citizen, then you will have the really awkward legal situation of one citizen living entirely inside another citizen. When you look at how the U.S. government treats “Indian nations,” which are officially nations living inside another nation, you get some idea about how well that one-inside-another works out in practice. Not so great. Those reservations are great foreign countries, aren’t they?
Then there's the really tricky scenario for anti-immigration and anti-abortion conservatives -- what do you do about pregnant illegal immigrants in the U.S.? Being born in the U.S. automatically makes a person a U.S. citizen, so does that mean all immigrant fetuses are also citizens? Or, are conservatives suggesting that some fetuses need protection and others do not? Tough call.

The federal government has done nothing to formally approve the existence of any particular fetus in America. There is no visa for it, and it doesn’t exist in any government records anywhere – no Social Security number, no citizenship status, no eligibility to get a job, and no driver’s license (the ultrasound ID photos tend to be really hazy). No paper trail at all, just here without anyone in authority giving it permission to be in this country. So, why not treat all fetuses the same way America treats *all* undocumented aliens?

Just declare your fetus an “enemy combatant,” and conservatives have to let you do whatever the hell you want with it. If conservatives protest, just tell them that they have to take your word for it, that for reasons of national security you can’t explain why your fetus is a risk to the entire country, because telling them all the details would compromise intelligence sources. Just refer to abortion as “enhanced interrogation of a terrorist suspect,” and conservatives should stop asking you questions about what you’re doing. Ask them if they're willing to risk a repeat of 9/11 by refusing to give the "good guys" all the tools they need to fight the "bad guys."
If they protest that the aborted fetus is innocent, just tell them you had to strike in a pre-emptive military action because the fetus was clearly showing the intent to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction. Call it the Uterine Corollary of the Bush Doctrine. Call them bleeding hearts and suggest that they are giving aid and comfort to the enemies of freedom. They're pretty big on that whole "enemies of freedom" schtick.