Losing to Libya

Perhaps the sordid conclusion of this military adventure will finally begin to convince conservative supporters of the neocon’s democracy crusade that half-hearted attacks, invasions, and occupations are a way to weaken the military and increase the risk to American national security, not strengthen either:

Libyan rebels said on Friday they had repulsed a government assault on the besieged western city of Misrata but prospects faded that Muammar Gaddafi would be ousted by the armed revolt.

NATO leaders acknowledged the limits of their air power, which has caused rather than broken a military stalemate, and analysts predicted a long-drawn out conflict that could end in the partition of the North African oil producer.

Alliance officials expressed frustration that Gaddafi’s tactics of sheltering his armor in civilian areas had reduced the impact of air supremacy and apologized for a “friendly fire” incident on Thursday that rebels said killed five fighters.

Ah yes, if only the enemy would fight the way we would like them to fight, then we would win easily, just like the clowns in uniform drew it up. The USA lost in Somalia. It’s losing in Libya… and Libya lost to Chad! It’s probably time to hang up the “only world superpower” and “global policeman” titles and consider seeing if the military is still even capable of stopping the ongoing invasion of the southern border.

Mailvox: this should be amusing

Like Sam Harris, DK claims to have solved the ought vs is problem:

I suspect you’re not interested in the fact that I’ve solved the ought-from-is problem,* but I figure I shouldn’t make the decision on your behalf. You call the project ‘futile’ which is to say you have some very good reasons to be uninterested in any particular instance of it. I would
like to know what those reasons are. Especially, is there some reason you shouldn’t be interested, even if I’m right?

As it is true I’ve solved the problem, I should be able to contradict these reasons, except possibly that last reason.

*(More precisely, there’s an irrefutable definition which, when called ‘ought,’ leads to system that looks like morality, based entirely on unmistakable facts like that people have preferences.)

Given the fact that DK wrongly derived “very good reasons to be uninterested” from “belief in futility, this doesn’t bode well for the likelihood that his solution is correct. But, as per my policy of giving everyone, however crazy, a shot, I emailed him back as follows.

I’m not interested because it hasn’t been solved. The solution isn’t a fact, it is simply your opinion at this point, and I doubt your opinion is any more founded in fact than Sam Harris’s opinion that he solved the problem. But if you wish me to dismantle whatever crackpot solution you’ve proposed and illustrate why it is incorrect, I will be happy to do so. Based on the weasel words in your description, I suspect you are simply playing the same sort of logically illegitimate semantic games that Harris does.

“If I irrefutably define “3” as “2”, then I have proven that 2+3=4!”

Brilliant stuff. Anyhow, go ahead and send me the link. I’ll take a look at it.

I’m sure you will all join me in eagerly awaiting our introduction to the first major philosophical breakthrough of the 21st century.

WL Craig indulges in immorality

For did he not purposefully injure Sam Harris’s sense of well-being last night at Notre Dame? Based on the various summaries I’ve read, William Lane Craig had about as much trouble in his debate with Sam Harris as I thought he would, which is to say none at all. Unfortunately, as is all too often the case with Christian apologists, Craig didn’t go for the kill when Harris gave him the opening. I think it’s a mistake to refrain from destroying the credibility of the opponent in these circumstances, because whenever the atheist debater is not completely humiliated in an outright and undeniable manner, all of his little fans who are incapable of following the debate will inevitably declare their hero has triumphed.

But for those who are cognitively capable of following and comprehending the discourse, it was apparent that the outcome of the debate was settled as soon as both men made their initial points. As I expected on the basis of his most recent book, Harris lost the debate almost as soon as he opened his mouth.

Craig: If God exists, then we have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties, if God does not exist, then we do not have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties.

Harris: Good means maximizing human well-being for the largest number of people. Religion is not necessary for a “universal” morality. Religion is a bad foundation for “universal” morality

As I pointed out in my column last November in which I reviewed The Moral Landscape, “Harris simply ignores the way in which his case falls completely apart when it is answered in the negative. No, we cannot simply accept that “moral” can reasonably be considered “well-being” because it is not true to say that which is “of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong” is more than remotely synonymous with “that which fosters well-being in one or more human beings.” One might as reasonably substitute “wealth” or “physical attractiveness” for “well-being”.

Desperate appeals to science won’t suffice to paper over the well-known holes in utilitarian philosophy. Harris is so eminently predictable that he not only threw away the debate by basing his case upon his illegitimate redefinition of “good”, as expected, but he also twice engaged in his customary complaints about being misunderstood despite being directly quoted. Possible Worlds took notes and provided a summary of the debate:

Harris’ rebuttal was a strange, 12-minute diatribe where he offered literally zero arguments for his position. I do not mean he offered zero arguments which I found compelling or good. Just zero arguments altogether. He spent the time presenting the problem of evil and criticizing Christian particularism, both of which were irrelevant to the debate. Harris started to look angry during this portion of the debate. He also seemed to have given up the actual debate topic from here on out.

Craig pointed out that not only were no arguments offered for the naturalistic hypothesis, but that no criticisms of any of his arguments were offered as well! Craig did refer the audience to look into the critiques of Harris through Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster?. Craig contended the point of Christianity was not eternal well-being, as Harris alleged earlier. Rather, the point is to worship God on account of who he is! Harris had mentioned in his diatribe that Christians are lunatics, and Craig dismissed this as “stupid and insulting.” I don’t know that I would have said it was “stupid,” but Craig did not come off very mean-spirited (but rather annoyed).

In Harris’ second rebuttal, he accused Craig of misrepresenting him, but did not offer any explanation. Harris defaulted to claiming that if you grant him certain axioms, then his account of morality is true, in much the same way as logic or math. The problem is that people generally don’t view morality to be transcendently true based on “nothing;” further note what this is asking the audience to do: just take his word for it. Take it on faith. He relies on objective morality’s being true, but then his argument just begs the question!

However, I suspect the most succinct summary was provided by a commenter at Wintery Knight’s detailed account of the debate: Sam Harris has spent an hour and a half talking about everything except the topic at hand. I’m not sure I’ve heard such a mix of red herrings and ad hominems before.

Rush makes excuses

Limbaugh appears to be surprised that many Republicans blame him and other Republican leaders for failing to investigate Obama’s birth certificate scandal. But why shouldn’t they be blamed? Not a single one of them had the balls to do what Joseph Farah and now Donald Trump have done in pointing out that the president has no birth certificate.

Caller: “The fact of the matter is that his citizenship has been a suspicious issue from the very beginning, and not one high Republican or you has ever really tried to nail him on this issue, and if it does turn out that he is not a true citizen, then I think all of you should hang your heads in shame because of all the destruction our country has had to suffer ever since he was elected, in spite of being the fraud that we know he probably really is.”

Limbaugh: “So you’re mad at me?”

Caller: “I am furious. I wanted you and anybody else to go after him on this issue before he was elected. It would have been the easiest way to have stopped him. It would have been a no-brainer. But nobody would. And so he was elected and everything was just hidden under the rug. And now look what we have had ever since. … If it does turn out that he’s not a citizen, I think you should hang your head in shame, because our country has suffered so much….”

Rush: “OK, if you want to focus, Angela, on what should have happened before the election, we can do that, and I can focus on the stupidity of half the country that voted for the guy, and I can talk about all the stupid things the media said and all the tricks that were played to convince people that he’s not who he was. But today it’s 2011 and those days are over and we are living in the midst of this guy destroying the economy and going back and talking about a birth certificate right now is not the most effective way of stopping this guy. I would love nothing more than for this guy to be proven a fraud. I would love nothing more than for all of this to have been a giant trick. I would love nothing more than for him to get nabbed at this, but there isn’t any evidence of it yet. I would love nothing more to see what happens when it’s proven, if it could be, that he’s not a citizen. What happens with legislation when everything he’s done is unqualified, everything he’s done is illegal. Everything he’s done has gotta be wiped clean. Can you imagine that battle? I would love to see that.

You’ve got me pegged wrong here. But I deal with what is. I don’t deal with what-ifs. “If” is for children. And we’ve got certain things that are the reality of the day that have to be dealt with, pure and simple, and that’s where I am on this. No more and no less. There’s no magic wand that can get Obama unelected. You can hope and you can dream but you are locked in a fantasy if that’s what you’re waiting for. That isn’t gonna happen. The focus needs to be on making sure he’s not reelected. But there is no way to unelect the guy. It isn’t going to happen.”

Limbaugh has somehow managed to miss the point in his attempt to defend his past and present failures to show up on the issue here. No one is talking about getting Obama “unelected” by belatedly unearthing the facts about his probable ineligibility for the elected office he presently holds. First and foremost, they just want the truth. Everyone with even half a brain smells a rat, but smelling one is not tantamount to conclusively identifying one. Perhaps it’s just a mouse, perhaps it’s nothing. No one truly knows except Obama and possibly some of his innermost circle. Second, it should be obvious that if Limbaugh is really serious about how the focus needs to be on making sure Obama is not reelected, then the most realistic and effective way to do that is for him to actively support the proposed presidential eligibility laws in the 13 states that are presently considering them. The unexpected poll strength shown by Donald Trump proves that focusing on the birth certificate is not only an effective approach in legally cutting out the legs from under Obama, it may be a vote-winner as well because most Americans aren’t drinking the Hope and Change-flavored Kool-Aid anymore.

Rush and the conservative media were afraid to look out of the mainstream in 2008. What they haven’t realized yet is that doubts about Obama’s legitimacy are now the mainstream position, which is why Jerome Corsi’s new book on the subject is all but guaranteed to become a #1 New York Times bestseller when it is released this month.

So, Limbaugh’s caller was correct to be furious with him. Like McCain and Palin, Rush simply refused to do what many of his fans perceived to be his duty in 2008 and he’s not doing it now. Instead, he’s left it to the likes of Trump to call Obama to account, who despite being more of a reality TV candidate than a real one, would almost certainly make for a less disastrous Republican president than anyone but Ron Paul.