Election 2012

Pick Your Constitutional Poison

Obama and Romney share a disdain for civil liberties.

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During the final presidential debate, the moderator asked Mitt Romney about President Obama's policy of killing suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, with missiles fired from unmanned aircraft. "I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world," Romney replied. "I support that entirely." 

In other words, Romney has no qualms about trusting one man with the power to order the summary execution of anyone, anywhere in the world, whom he deems "a threat to us." This bipartisan disregard for civil liberties is the rule rather than the exception for the two major presidential candidates, who are about equally bad when it comes to respecting constitutional rights, although in somewhat different ways. 

Both candidates find certain kinds of speech intolerable. Romney's campaign has signaled that he, unlike Obama, will waste Justice Department resources on prosecuting people for pornography made by and for consenting adults. Then again, Romney supports Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that lifted restrictions on political speech by unions and corporations, which Obama condemns

Both candidates also are inconsistent in their fidelity to the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. During the 2010 controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque, Obama defended "the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan," while Romney demanded "rejection of this site." By contrast, Romney defended religious liberty in this year's dispute over the Obama administration's mandate requiring Catholic institutions to provide health coverage for contraceptives. 

Although Obama and Romney both say they support the right to keep and bear arms, both have backed arbitrary, ignorance-driven bans on "assault weapons." Obama has gone further, claiming local handgun bans are consistent with the Second Amendment. 

Moving to the never-ending War on Terror, the differences between Obama and Romney are even smaller. The two candidates agree that the president may detain terrorism suspects indefinitely as well as kill them at a distance. Obama never delivered on his promise to close the symbol of that policy, the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, while Romney has said "we ought to double Guantanamo."   

Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which "affirms" the legality of military detention "without trial" for people the president believes have joined or assisted Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or "associated forces." Romney says he would have signed the bill too, because "people who join Al Qaeda are not entitled to rights of due process." That formulation begs the question of how we know that terrorism suspects are in fact terrorists, which is the sort of issue due process is supposed to resolve. 

Obama and Romney, both of whom support the PATRIOT Act, likewise see eye to eye on warrantless surveillance of international communications involving people in the U.S., which Obama voted to authorize in 2008 after calling it "unconstitutional" in a 2007 Boston Globe questionnaire. Responding to the same survey, Romney, who at the time was seeking the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, dodged the question of whether the president has "inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes." 

Romney's response to that question reflects his general disdain for civil libertarian criticism of counterterrorism policies: "Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive, and the President should not hesitate to use every legal tool at his disposal to keep America safe." For Romney, who endorses "enhanced interrogation techniques," one such tool seems to be waterboarding, which he, unlike Obama (and John McCain, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee), refuses to describe as torture. 

Back in 2008, condemning the excesses of the Bush administration, Obama sounded better on civil liberties than Romney. Except for waterboarding, however, Obama's counterterrorism policies have been essentially the same as his predecessor's, but with more extrajudicial killings. Don't get fooled again.

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  1. Since we know that President Obama does the exact opposite of what candidate Obama says, maybe in his second term he will find civil libertarian Jesus? (Or the Muslim equivalent to Jesus, whoever that is.) Or maybe Romney will have one of his trademark changes of heart and go all constitutional on us.

    1. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery.

  2. I am no fan of Obama, but one thing is for certain. If Romneys lips are moving, he is lying lol. Fact.

    http://www.ok-anon.tk

  3. Perhaps I missed it – but in the above article I did not see where Jacob Sullum mentions, even off handedly, that there are more than two candidates for President of the United States. I voted early (I live in Florida) and I did not vote for either Obama or his clone from Massachusetts.

    Why waste your vote on the candidates from the two major parties? Voting for Romney is voting for Obama. Voting for Obama is voting for Romney.

    1. I’m afraid marking a third party candidate for president might get me red-flagged by DHS.

      1. The DHS has probably already branded me a terrorist because I donated to antiwar.com. You know how much of a terrorist threat the folks at antiwar.com are. If you oppose war you are obviously someone who advocates violence.

        1. Yet if you donate to Greenpeace or some other group with a demonstrable history of violence and intimidation, they will probably give you a medal.

          1. Isn’t it ironic that Greenpeace, an organization with the word peace in its name has committed acts of violence and intimidation? They may be “green” but they are certainly not peaceful.

            1. It’s like rain on your wedding day.

            2. “Greenwar” doesn’t sound as nice and and touchy feely to sensitive little proggie snowflake’s ears.

              1. “”Greenwar” doesn’t sound as nice and and touchy feely to sensitive little proggie snowflake’s ears.”

                Greenwar – I like it – I think I will use that.

  4. “Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which “affirms” the legality of military detention “without trial” for people the president believes have joined or assisted Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.””

    I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I have a question for someone with a law degree. Is it possible for a law to “affirm” something which is clearly not the case or clearly not Constitutional? If Florida were to pass a law that “affirms” that all fish are dogs would that make it the case in a court of law?

    1. You don’t use a law to say that fish are dogs, you simply foster a slight alteration to the dictionary. See also: right, privilege, free, equality, regulation (viz. of nonexistent commerce), etc.

      As for affirms, this is generally fine, so long as it has been preceded by a sufficient number of asserts (that number being not less than zero). In this case, the two are interchangeable, with no need for differentiation, until one day the issue is taken up by a court. At which point, the distinction likely becomes superfluous.

      (btw: /sarc, in case it is necessary)

      1. (btw: /sarc, in case it is necessary)

        You did a very good job – but thanks for the clarrification. There are times – in the mornings especially before I have had my first cup of coffee that sarcasm is not always apparent. đŸ™‚

    2. Legislation is already being used to redefine marriage from “husband and wife” to “genderless spouse and genderless spouse”, with public accommodation law right there to punish anyone with a business who thinks differently.

      So why can’t the law be used to redefine “fish” to mean “dog”, or “penis” to mean “potato chip”?

      1. Gives a whole new meaning to going to get a can of dog flavored penises.

      2. There is a huge difference. At one time in history it was not at all uncommon for human beings to be defined as “The only tool-making animal.” This definition had to change after Jane Goodall witnessed tool use among chimpanzees.

        Likewise, with regard to marriage, marriage was once in history thought of in very different terms. Marriage was often arranged in the past, polygammy was common, in some cultures even polyandry was not unheard of. The Roman Catholic Church forbids divorce except under limited circumstances. Marriage has taken many forms throughout history. This is not a “radical redefinition” despite what some may claim.

        1. In all cases throughout history, marriage has been defined in terms of reproduction.

          Now marriage is being redefined as two people regardless of their ability to reproduce.

          I’m ignoring exceptions such as a veteran who left his junk in the desert or a woman who has gone through menopause.

          This is redefining marriage from couples with the potential to further the human race to, well, Pat and Pat.

          Seems pretty radical to me.

          Would you care for a dog flavored penis?

          1. “In all cases throughout history, marriage has been defined in terms of reproduction.”

            You are incorrect, until the late 1500’s Marriage had always been something practiced by the Nobility and was entirely about defining inheritance and creating political alliances. Even to the extent that it was practiced among the commoners prior to that it was almost always to expand the plot of land the family had a heriditary claim to.

            Starting in the 1500’s however the church started using marriage as a tool to ensure that men were held responsible for caring for the children they fathered and that is when it started being about reproduction and less about politics and inheritance.

            In other words, the modern concept of marriage is less than 500 years old and only became widespread even in Europe about 350 years ago.

            1. How is there an inheritance or a hereditary claim without reproduction?

              1. Leanord Peikoff “inherrited” Ayn Rand’s estate even though he is not her son. All you need to do is write a will.

                1. Then the marriage was not about inheritance. Move the goalposts much?

                  1. “Then the marriage was not about inheritance. Move the goalposts much?”

                    I have moved no goalpoasts – Leanord Peikoff was not even married to Ayn Rand – they were not relatives of any kind.

                    1. So you’re building upon Rasilio’s post while ignoring it at the same time.

                      Nifty.

                    2. “So you’re building upon Rasilio’s post while ignoring it at the same time.”

                      Do you even understand the point I am making?

              2. Because you can have kids without the marriage part. In fact in a world with no contraceptives kids were pretty much a guarantee.

                In fact when you look at the actual records our mediaval ancestors (sorry, not too many written records detailing the lives of the commoners prior to that) had LOTS of sex and made LOTS of babies outside of the bounds of marriage. This was true of both the commoners and the Nobles and it made the task of deciding which of those children inherited what rather complex which was why the church recognized marriage was considered so important, it gave the legal definition of who could inherit and who could not.

                Marriage was never about the reproduction, that was always a given, at least until the 1960’s. It was always about forming political alliances and determining lines of succession and inheritance.

                1. It was always about forming political alliances and determining lines of succession and inheritance.

                  Which you can’t have without reproduction.

                  1. But you can have reproduction without marriage

                  2. “Which you can’t have without reproduction.”

                    But you can easily have reproduction without marriage. Marriage is entirely unnecessary in order to fertilize eggs. All you need are functional sperm.

                  3. Sure you can. I’ve no biological kids of my own (nor will I ever have any); nor am I married; but I certainly have inheritors.

                    The mechanism at play here is long established, and has nothing to do with marriage, just lawyers and contract law.

                    Which tells you that the reproduction involved has absolutely nothing to do with marriage either.

            2. Uhhhhhhh, bullshit?

              I think I read somewhere in the Bible, a pretty old book, I’m told, that people were getting married a lot waaaaay back then.

          2. “Now marriage is being redefined as two people regardless of their ability to reproduce. I’m ignoring exceptions such as a veteran who left his junk in the desert or a woman who has gone through menopause.”

            Why are you ignoring cases like these? Seems rather convenient doncha think? All cats have tails. I am ignoring cases like the Manx or cats that have had their tails surgically amputated.

            1. Basic logic.
              Some opposite sex couples cannot reproduce.
              All same sex couples cannot reproduce.
              Some is not all.

              1. Actually, I have heard of lesbian couples where at least one of them has a brother and they have asked the brother to donate sperm – it is used to fertilize the non-genetically related partner. In the case of gay men it is a little more complicated and expensive but sometimes surrogate mothers are used.

                There is also this thing called adoption. As many children there are out there in need of a loving home I think gay marriage would be a great opportunity to provide stable homes for many of these children.

                1. insemination and adoption != reproduction

                  1. Before you go all pedantic on me, by “not equals reproduction” it was implied that there were no third parties involved.

                    1. “Before you go all pedantic on me, by “not equals reproduction” it was implied that there were no third parties involved.”

                      Tell me, if you consider reproduction as a social good that should be promoted (as do I) do you not also see a social good to providing loving homes to the end results of such reproduction? And if, for whatever reason, a young child is left without such a home would not a stable loving gay couple be preferable to a government bureaucracy?

                  2. Um – insimination is usually how reproduction works among animals. Perhaps you need to look at a biology textbook again.

                    1. Pedants are pedantic.

                    2. “Pedants are pedantic.”

                      Tell me, if you consider reproduction as a social good that should be promoted (as do I) do you not also see a social good to providing loving homes to the end results of such reproduction? And if, for whatever reason, a young child is left without such a home would not a stable loving gay couple be preferable to a government bureaucracy?

                    3. Using force of government to redefine words that have a commonly understood meaning, for the purpose of social engineering, does not seem very libertarian to me.

                      That’s all.

                    4. “Using force of government to redefine words that have a commonly understood meaning, for the purpose of social engineering, does not seem very libertarian to me.”

                      Who is advocating using force? I would prefer government to get out of the marriage business (as well as every other business).

                    5. Who is advocating using force?

                      Are you serious? What is government other than force? What does it mean to change the legal definition of marriage other than to put force behind that definition?

                      I would prefer government to get out of the marriage business (as well as every other business).

                      Me too. I see the problems that same sex couples face and agree that they exist, but I do not support redefining marriage as the proper solution.

                      I’m done with this conversation. Have a nice day.

                    6. “Me too. I see the problems that same sex couples face and agree that they exist, but I do not support redefining marriage as the proper solution.”

                      Who is redefining marriage? Marriage is not being redefined at all ? merely expanded.

                      “I’m done with this conversation. Have a nice day.”

                      So then you admit you have lost – good. Have a nice day.

                    7. Why don’t we “expand” the definition of citrus fruit to include apples? That would make it more inclusive. Sure, an apple is not a citrus fruit, but if we pass a law that says it is then I can take you to court if you say different! All I’m doing is being inclusive. Why do you hate apples so much? You’re just a hater. The only possible excuse you could have for not wanting to expand citrus fruit is a deep prejudice against apples. Damn apple hating bigot. You think oranges are superior, don’t you? You don’t want to include apples because you think they’re somehow inferior. Fuck you. I hope you die in a fire with Dunphy.

                    8. “Why don’t we “expand” the definition of citrus fruit to include apples?”

                      Apples are not sentient beings ? they do not act on their own. What an apple is and how it is defined is not dependent upon the actions of the apple but rather by we who act upon the apple and use it for our own purposes. An example of what I mean is this: take the tomato. How one defines “tomato” depends upon whether you are a chef or a botanist. If you are a botanist it is a fruit ? biologically it fits all of the scientific definitions of “fruit”. But to a chef the biological definitions of things are not always useful. A chef cares about taste, texture and whether or not something is edible. Biologically deadly nightshade is a “fruit” but most people don’t want a chef to cook a meal with it. A chef is more likely to define a tomato as a vegetable ? from a culinary perspective that is what it is.

                      “Fuck you. I hope you die in a fire with Dunphy.”

                      You have answered one of my earlier questions ? it is YOU who are the one who is advocating force. I have no desire to force my beliefs upon others ? I simply want people to make their own decisions.

                    9. That last part was sarcasm. Perhaps you forgot my handle.

                      I have no desire to force my beliefs upon others

                      Except that you want to change the legal definition of marriage from “husband and wife” to “spouse and spouse”, which will, thanks to the freedom of association nulling abomination known as public accommodations law, result in force of government being used against people and businesses who commit the crime of acting on their belief that marriage is a “husband and wife”.

                      How long before insensitive terms like “husband and wife” or “mother and father” become hate speech?
                      Only a bigot who hates homosexuals would use such offensive language, right? The proper terminology is “spouse and spouse” or “parent and parent”. Those quaint gender specific terms are relics of an intolerant past, right?

                      Perhaps that is not your intent, but it will be the result.

                      Not very libertarian to me.

                    10. Auban wins.

                      Sarcasmic, you are the one advocating using force to prevent couples from getting into a relationship, and from churches from defining that relationship.

                      If a church wants to call marriage as one between a husband and wife. There are churches that are willing to marry same sex couples. It is *your* advocacy of force that you prevent those churches from doing so.

                      And your whole thing about “husband and wife” and “mother and father” becoming hate speech is just overboard. I hope you were being “sarcasmic”, but I doubt it.

                    11. Moe. You are a Tony-class idiot. Hope that helps.

                    12. “Moe. You are a Tony-class idiot. Hope that helps.”

                      If you expected this statement to convince anyone of anything I don’t think you have succeded. I hope that helps.

                    13. Waah waah waah.

                      Thanks Sarcasmic.

                    14. “Except that you want to change the legal definition of marriage from “husband and wife” to “spouse and spouse””

                      I am an anarcho-capitalist and support private legal systems. People should be able to find the legal services that best meet their needs and beliefs. I see no contraction in saying that if you want to define marriage as X I can define marriage as Y and my neighbor can define it as Z.

                      “which will, thanks to the freedom of association nulling abomination known as public accommodations law, result in force of government being used against people and businesses who commit the crime of acting on their belief that marriage is a “husband and wife”.”
                      And I oppose “public accommodations law” so on that part I agree. By the way, I love Chick-Fil-A breakfast sandwiches ? especially the minis. I don’t think a business should be prevented in opening in Chicago or anywhere else because of its view on a political or social issue. I also will not boycott a business simply because of the views of its owner.

                      “How long before insensitive terms like “husband and wife” or “mother and father” become hate speech?”

                      Never. I hope this answers your question.

                      “Perhaps that is not your intent, but it will be the result.”

                      Based upon what actual evidence?

                    15. Based upon what actual evidence?

                      Show me evidence that an perfect anarcho capitalist libertopia would work. Where does it exist? The fact that it doesn’t exist in perfect form is proof that it could never ever happen.

                      What? You mean that based upon principles and logic that it would work?

                      But that’s not actual evidence, now is it. So I’ve proven that it can’t work by demanding hard evidence.

                      Sorry, but taking something to its logical conclusion is not evidence. It is meaningless. Gobbledygook.

                      Therefore you are wrong. Libertarianism is a farce, as is the Austrian school of economics.

                      A lack of actual evidence is proof.

                    16. “Show me evidence that an perfect anarcho capitalist libertopia would work. Where does it exist? ”

                      Actually you are using one piece of evidence right now – this place called the Internet. Who “polices” the internet – private companies and organizations for the most part. Try to get a law enforcement agency to do something about your Nigerian Scam letter – they will laugh in your face. It is only when the results enter into the physical world – and only if it is the physical world in their jurisdiction that they give a damn. Pre-Internet? How about Medieval Iceland or ancient Ireland?
                      If you believe libertarianism to be a farce, then why did you write above that something “Doesn’t seem very libertarian to me.”? Why would you give a damn if something seems libertarian if you believe libertarianism to be a farce?

                    17. Talk about missing the point.

                    18. “Talk about missing the point.”

                      You had a point? If so what is it?

                    19. sarcasmic, the argument that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry because public accommodations laws could be expanded to outlaw private discrimination against them could just as easily have been used to argue against legalizing interracial marriage

                    20. The flaw in your logic is that the term Marriage has no meaning outside of the legal sphere. Sure people have some common conception of what it means but they are frequently wrong.

                      This is similar to the term Murder. The literal definition of the term murder is unlawful killing. If the law were to define killing gays as legal then it would be impossible to Murder a gay person regardless of what individuals felt about the term.

                      Similarly with marriage, it is a legally sanctioned union between individuals. If the law defines it as between a man and a man then that is what it means regardless of what peoples individual feelings about the term are.

                      So if the law says it is between a man and a woman that is what it is, if the law says it is between any 2 consenting individuals then that is what it is, if the law allows more than 2 individuals then that is what it is. Whatever the current state of the law is defines marriage just as it defines murder.

                    21. The flaw in your logic is that the term Marriage has no meaning outside of the legal sphere.

                      So marriage means absolutely nothing to you outside what the government says it means?

                      Nothing exists unless the government says it exists?

                      Good statist. Have a cookie.

                    22. “So marriage means absolutely nothing to you outside what the government says it means?”

                      Marriage has two or for most three components. One is the personal component between two individuals who love one another, the state cannot regulate feelings even if it wants to. The second (for those who are religious) is a religious rite (note the spelling and look it up if you don’t understand the difference between a right and a rite). Thirdly, in our current nation-state paradigm, is the legal component. So long as we have religious freedom the state cannot force a church, temple, or mosque to recognize a marriage it finds abhorrent. My evidence of this is the fact that, even today, the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize many marriages between people with previous marriages that have not been annulled by the Church. This is the church’s right (note the spelling) under the 1st Amendment regardless of whether the state would recognize that marriage or not. It is this third and ONLY this third component that would be changed with legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

                    23. So long as we have religious freedom the state cannot force a church, temple, or mosque to recognize a marriage it finds abhorrent.

                      Freedom of thought only exists for religious institutions?

                      What about an individual or a business owner?

                      Can’t they be sued if a same sex couple is “denied” (oh the horror! denying things is so terrible!) something based upon the thoughtcrime of disagreeing with the State’s definition of marriage?

                      Even if these lawsuits don’t happen, it will still have a chilling effect on speech as people find that voicing their beliefs can result in outright hostility.

                      It’s OK to believe that marriage is between a husband and a wife.

                      Just make sure to keep it to yourself.

                      Yay freedom!

                    24. “Even if these lawsuits don’t happen, it will still have a chilling effect on speech as people find that voicing their beliefs can result in outright hostility.”

                      A chilling effect based upon the possibility of something happening that will probably never happen? Someone that meek and mousy probably would probably be afraid of many things. Why should we base our language upon the desires of people who are so easily intimidated they change their speech based upon what MIGHT (but probably won’t) happen?

                    25. A chilling effect based upon the possibility of something happening that will probably never happen?

                      It is an emotional issue for many. I won’t talk about it because, being on the “wrong” side, I am immediately attacked if I disagree with the ones on the “right” side. By attacked I mean all the usual accusations of being a religious bigot, hating gays, blah blah blah, and now I’m put into a position of proving my innocence to a bunch of emotional twits before I can even explain where I actually stand.

                      What will happen when these people have the law on their side as well?

                      I’m guessing it will all play out in court. That or others, like me, will keep their politically incorrect thoughtcrimes to themselves.

                    26. “I won’t talk about it because, being on the “wrong” side, I am immediately attacked if I disagree with the ones on the “right” side.”

                      Your cowardice is not my problem ? nor is it the problem of gay people who want to get married. From your own statement you appear to be far more cowardly than gay teens who come out to potentially hostile parents or gay soldiers who come out while serving in uniform.Think about that.

                    27. It’s not cowardice. It’s conflict avoidance.

                      If I had a duty to engage these people then it would be cowardice. But I have no such duty.

                      Your willful ignorance of the meaning of words is not my problem.

                    28. “It’s not cowardice. It’s conflict avoidance. If I had a duty to engage these people then it would be cowardice. But I have no such duty.”

                      The fact that you have engaged for as long as you have on this topic in this forum indicates to me that you believe it to be an important topic. If it is so important to you why do you not see a duty to engage? Not wearing a blue Michigan t-shirt on the campus of OSU is conflict avoidance. What you are describing is cowardice. Your willful ignorance of the meaning of words is not my problem.

                    29. The fact that you have engaged for as long as you have on this topic in this forum indicates to me that you believe it to be an important topic.

                      Or maybe my feckless boss gets mad when I ask him for shit to do, and I’m just helping time go by until I can blow this joint for the day.

                    30. “Or maybe my feckless boss gets mad when I ask him for shit to do, and I’m just helping time go by until I can blow this joint for the day.”

                      So fine, you don’t find it an important topic. If you don’t find it an important topic then why do you care how marriage is defined? Just a whim?

                    31. Not important enough engage in avoidable conflict. Important enough to go vote.

                      I actually started out supporting same sex marriage. But then I saw the dishonest arguments being used, and couldn’t support it.

                      Now I try to point out that there are two issues: the word and the legal aspect.

                      The proponents are after putting government force behind the definition of a word while selling it as an issue of legal rights.

                      That is dishonest, so I will not support it.

                      Looks like you don’t care. And that is fine.

                    32. “The proponents are after putting government force behind the definition of a word while selling it as an issue of legal rights.”

                      If the government did not discriminate against couples who are not married it would not be an issue of legal rights. But they do, so it is.

                    33. Redefining marriage is being sold as the only solution. It is not.

                    34. “Redefining marriage is being sold as the only solution. It is not.”

                      I will agree it is not the only possible solution but the liklihood of the nation-state peacefully disolving itself or butting out of our personal lives entirely is not very high. If the state is going to discriminate against unmarried couples it needs to expand the group of people who can get married.

                    35. You’ll see how important this is when my posts suddenly cease as I leave work, and do not continue when I get home.

                      When the phone don’t ring you’ll know it’s me.

                    36. Even if these lawsuits don’t happen, it will still have a chilling effect on speech as people find that voicing their beliefs can result in outright hostility.

                      Go tell that to the fundamentalist mormoms who practice polygamy in the NV/UT border.

                    37. Go tell that to the fundamentalist mormoms…

                      Blah blah blah when I want your opinion I’ll go take a shit.

                    38. No not really.

                      I lived with my wife for almost 3 years and we had 2 kids before we ever got married and the only reason we did is because she wanted it.

                      I had no need or desire to have a priest or bureaucrat bless our preexisting relationship and as far as I am concerned the fact that they did so is utterly meaningless to me. Our relationship exists regardless of the official blessing and if for whatever reason our relationship dies at some point in the future the fact that it was officially blessed will be similarly irrelivant to me.

                      Marriage exists solely for determining who gets a predetermined set of legal privleges and and restrictions. Loving (or even not so loving) pair bond relationships exist both within and outside of that contract and will continue to do so regardless of the legal term.

                      Oh I should also point out that mentioning that Marriage’s only meaningful definition is it’s legal one is in no way shape or form claiming that nothing exists unless the government says it does.

                      A citrus fruit has a set of characteristics that are observably true regardless of the observer, these characteristics can be used for classification purposes and they would exclude apples from the set. However Marriage is not like this, it is intangible and only exists by arbitrary definition and the only meaningful set of characteristics are the ones the guys with the guns say matter, everyone elses, including yours are mere personal opinion.

                    39. Marriage exists solely for determining who gets a predetermined set of legal privleges and and restrictions.

                      I’m sure marriage existed before the legal stuff came along.

                      The definition of the word and the legal stuff are two distinct things.

                      I support the legal stuff for same sex couples.

                      I disagree with redefining marriage as the means.

                    40. Why should the government be defining marriage in the first place?

                    41. Why should the government be defining marriage in the first place?

                      It shouldn’t.

                    42. Then it seems your outrage should be aimed at government defining marriage, rather than redefining it. As long as government’s defining marriage, I don’t really care who it includes, but I do want it to end.

                    43. Then it seems your outrage should be aimed at government defining marriage, rather than redefining it.

                      There is no ballot initiative to get government out of the marriage business, but as soon as there is I’ll sign.

                      As it is, two wrongs don’t make a right.

                    44. However Marriage is not like this

                      Actually, it is. A marriage is a husband and a wife. That is the major observable defining characteristic.

                      Though, given enough time, that will be considered to be hate speech.

                    45. “A marriage is a husband and a wife.”

                      Or a husband and many wives. Or a wife and many husbands. In some Muslim cultures marriages can be temporary and simply for the purpose of allowing a woman to remove her veil.

                      Oh – and it can also be between two consenting adults of the same sex.

                    46. I’m afraid that the majority does not agree with you.

                      As I’ve said before, I’d like government out of the marriage business. But as long as it is, then marriage should remain defined as between one man and one woman.

                      Because that’s what it is.

                    47. “I’m afraid that the majority does not agree with you.”

                      I have never cared what the majority thinks about anything. In the past the majority has included polygamy in that definition. And if two women can be married to the same man why can’t they get married to one another?

                    48. I have never cared what the majority thinks about anything.

                      When it comes to what words mean, it helps to care what the majority thinks.

                      That’s what makes communication possible.

                      Using government force to change what words mean, especially something as fundamental as marriage, is social engineering at its finest.

                      Not very libertarian.

                    49. “Using government force to change what words mean, especially something as fundamental as marriage, is social engineering at its finest.”

                      If marriage is so fundamental why do you care what the government’s stance is on it? Shouldn’t you care more about getting government out of the marriage business? Maybe, if gay marriage is as detrimental as you seem to imply it would cause government involvement to eventually end.

                    50. If marriage is so fundamental why do you care what the government’s stance is on it?

                      You’re heading into Derpville.

                      Shouldn’t you care more about getting government out of the marriage business?

                      That’s not on the ballot right now. When I have the opportunity to sign a petition to put it on the ballot I will.

                      if gay marriage is as detrimental

                      I never said that. More “you stand accused, now prove your innocence” tripe.

                      If I haven’t made myself clear by now, I guess I never will.

                    51. “If I haven’t made myself clear by now, I guess I never will.”

                      Probably not since you understand neither the meaning of marriage nor the meaning of cowardice. It is hard for you to communicate with such a poor understanding of the English language.

                    52. Ad hominem fallacy FTW!

                    53. “Ad hominem fallacy FTW!”

                      Sarcasmic, I was merely throwing back at you a few of the claims you made about me. So think about that.

          3. I’m ignoring exceptions such as a veteran who left his junk in the desert or a woman who has gone through menopause.

            Well, that’s handy.

            In all cases throughout history, marriage has been defined in terms of reproduction.

            In all cases throughout history, man has been subjugated to other men’s will through violence.

            If ANYTHING is true in ALL CASES THROUGHOUT HISTORY, we should examine it very closely. History started with violent sociopathic super-apes who thought storms came because the Gods needed virgin blood.

            1. “If ANYTHING is true in ALL CASES THROUGHOUT HISTORY, we should examine it very closely. History started with violent sociopathic super-apes who thought storms came because the Gods needed virgin blood.”

              Very good point.

          4. So if a sterile man and a sterile woman get hitched, is calling that “marriage” redefining the word?

            1. One more person who doesn’t understand the difference between “some” and “all”.

              1. Why is that relevant? How is the fact that other heterosexual couples are capable of reproducing relevant to a sterile couple’s right to marry, which according to you, is an institution based on reproduction

                1. Some opposite sex couples cannot reproduce.
                  All same sex couples cannot reproduce.

                  Some is not all.

                  1. Once again, what relevance does the reproductive capacity of other opposite sex couples have to do with a specific sterile couple?

                    1. Okay, so “marriage” is one thing, and “gay marriage” is thought to be another thing. Both are similar (two adults making a formal, legal commitment to each other) – while also different (man-woman vs. man-man or woman-woman). Both are capable of raising kids in a family setting. (And notice I said “raising”, NOT “producing”. The former matters WAY more than the latter.) So there’s no reason that same-sex couples shouldn’t receive the exact same marriage benefits as the hetero couples.

                      And if you want to use a fruit comparison, try this: An apple is one thing. A pineapple is another. Both have “apple” in their name, but they’re way different. However, both are quite edible and can be digested in people for nutritional gain. And that’s the important thing.

      3. “So why can’t the law be used to redefine “fish” to mean “dog”, or “penis” to mean “potato chip”?

        Betcha can’t eat just one?

    3. If there’s a Constitutional prohibition, then no, the President can’t “affirm” it into Constitutionality. Of course, “Constitutionality” is what the Supreme Court says that the Constitution says. SCOTUS has a long and distinguished history of bending over backwards to give the President whatever war powers he wants (Such as locking up seditious protestors or Japs).

      1. And we have recently had the USSC define a law forcing me to purchase spinach as a “tax”.

  5. “Romney demanded “rejection of this site.””. Asking someone not to build something is completely different than using the government to stop them from building it.

    1. I agree, but it is pretty clear from Romney’s full statement that he was calling for government action:

      “Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site.”

      Although that is not as explicit as, say, Newt Gingrich’s demands for forcible intervention, citing “the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda” does not sound like an appeal to the project’s backers, who surely would reject the premise.

      1. Unless you are going to zone the land such that it cannot be used for religious purposes I don’t see how it could be stopped. I would love to see a mosque there if for no other reason than to piss off the Islamophobes.

  6. “Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive

    Emphasis added. Somewhat iffy, Mitt.

    1. “Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive”

      Hmmm, that line of argumentation could be used to justify socialized medicine.

      1. it’s wrong.

        our most basic civil liberty is the right to be left alone (by govt.).

        i’m kind of paraphrasing PJ ORourke in saying that (giving credit where it’s due), but if you read the bill of rights at least, they essentially come down to telling the govt. that , except under very limited circumstances – it is to leave people the fuck alone. don’t search them, don’t seize them. don’t make them testify against themselves. don’t make them quarter soldiers in your their house. don’t disarm them. iow, LEAVE PEOPLE THE FUCK ALONE to go about their lives unless they are committing a crime. and with the strong understanding that “crime” shouldn’t include shit that doesn’t hurt other people, but only (possibly) themselves.

        THAT’s the most basic civil liberty.

        govt. has no burden, nor does anybody else to keep you alive.

        1. ok., well SOME people have a burden to keep you alive. like your parents if you are a minor, etc. but GOVERNMENT certainly has no burden (civil liberties wise) to “keep you alive”. in fact, in many cases, quite the opposite. keeping you alive could mean, for example, monitoring your diet and preventing you from eating X or smoking or…

          it’s not just wrong. it’s totally fucking wrongheadedly bassackwards wrong

        2. I never saw that PJ ORourke quote before! It is perfect! It reminds me of something that George Carlin might say.

  7. Neolib social engineering through legislative and legal action or Neocon social engineering through legislative and legal action?

    Your pick.

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