Tuesday, November 19, 2013


1. An Often Overlooked Point.

The defense of Barack Hussein Obama's recent unilateral "fix" to ObamaCare offered by his (remaining) defenders is that he's not altering the law by ukase; he's merely refusing to enforce one of its terms for a stated interval. Therefore, what he's doing is "constitutional." (That little clause in Article II about faithfully enforcing the laws? Don't bother us with trifles; we've got a war to conduct!)

But if the law remains as it was, then for any insurance company to trust the Obama "fix" and offer a "substandard" plan for the coming year is a penalizable offense under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. That the president will deign to ignore such offenses for the next calendar year doesn't wipe them out of history. Therefore, the company would remain prosecutable and penalizable in subsequent years all the way up to the statute of limitations on such offenses...if there is one.

Any insurance company CEO that buys into that bargain should be replaced at once.

2. An Excellent Article With A Wee Oversight.

The following is excerpted from Richard Larson's fine guest article for Doug Ross @ Journal:

An autocrat is one who has absolute power. And that is how our president is acting. The Constitution was written brilliantly with inherent checks and balances on the power of any one of the branches of government. But apparently, when you’re Barack Obama, there’s no perceived limit to your power; you can do as you please, when you please, and when you mess up, claim you never knew about it until you “read it in the press,” like the rest of us. Outside of the fantasy world of the Washington Beltway, such an egocentric and narcissistic attitude would be considered delusional. But that’s what we got when we elected, and then reelected, someone with a messiah complex....

I have long maintained that our republic can only survive if people elected to office honor their oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” Every time Obama spuriously and capriciously changes a law, chooses which he will execute and not execute, he is definitionally acting outside of the law, and he breaks his oath of office anew.

Several years ago Ayn Rand said, “We are fast approaching the stage of ultimate inversion: the stage where government is free to do as it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission.” It seems obvious that we’ve now achieved that state of ultimate inversion of our founding principles. And the inversion is exacerbated by the fact that it’s the arbitrary actions of an autocrat at the helm of the nation that declares that government can do as it pleases, while we paean citizens have our liberty eroded further with every stroke of his pen, and utterance from his lips.

There’s nothing we can do to rein in the autocratic hubris at the head of the country. We can only hope that in three years we may choose someone who respects the law, follows it, and will fervently keep the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

[Emphasis added by FWP.]

"Nothing we can do" -- ? I can think of several things. The one I'd most like to see remains somewhat unlikely, but others -- court challenges on Tenth Amendment grounds; widespread civil disobedience; a wave of recall petitions and counter-candidates -- remain entirely feasible. Moreover, if taken up in concert, they would topple the regime completely.

Unfortunately, to make it all work requires a degree of coordination beyond what currently exists in the patriotic resistance to The Won and his lieutenants. Whence such coordination is to come, I cannot say.

3. Categories And Consensus.

To one who has not studied logic as such, certain aspects of organized reasoning can seem dubious, even opaque. Nevertheless, if you want to think in an organized fashion and produce conclusions you can trust to endure over time, you must master certain distinctions. The inability to grasp such distinctions lies at the base of several of the objections I've received to this screed.

The entire point of that post was to emphasize a bit of understanding that most persons grasp murkily at best: that though we speak of categories in the abstract with great ease, we seldom bother to ponder how so many of them are entirely matters of consensus.

Consider: There are only three ways to define a category:

  1. Intensively: That is, by providing it with a genus and a differentia;
  2. Authoritatively: By nominating a person or agency with absolute authority to decree what is and what is not a member of the category;
  3. Extensively: Also called by tabulation, this method proceeds by gathering examples and amassing a consensus of interested persons about which ones are and are not members of the category.

If you can't formulate an intensive definition of the category in which you're interested, you're compelled to use one of the other methods. In the usual case, we employ the third one: the amassing of a consensus about what is and is not in category X. This is the case with the categories applied to works of fiction.

Science fiction, a category of the third sort, is by some criteria "under attack" by writers who seek to blend "alien" motifs into it -- motifs taken from other categories of the third sort, such as horror and romance. However, as others have pointed out, those motifs are not unknown in SF of a sort that the existing consensus category already accepts. Rather, the argument is about how much horror, or romance, or magic, or what-have-you "should" appear in a novel the consensus "should" accept as SF. Once again, the usual approach is by tabulation: this book, all right; that one, never; this other one...well, maybe.

The key point here is that consensus categories can (and sometimes do) move away from their origins as time passes. That doesn't make anyone "right" or "wrong" about the "definition" of SF; it merely means that while some accept the consensus and would prefer that it not be disturbed, others are attempting to change it.

This is the root of the acrimony that's been stirred up over the influx of SF / romance hybrids -- where the SF motifs and the romantic elements might be balanced in any arbitrary proportion -- that have proliferated in recent years. Some of the folks determined to maintain the previous consensus are unhappy that anyone should dare to try to change it, and have reacted vituperatively toward them.

Few adults react well to being vilified. Still fewer are likely to abandon their positions under such a barrage. And oftentimes, those who thunder maledictions as if they had been granted authority over the subject are eventually sorry they did so.

Verbum sat sapienti.


Mark Alger said...

On 2: I wonder if you might get more traction with this than I have. I would propose that the entire country has standing to oppose Obamacare on the basis that it interferes with a Ninth Amendment right to liberty. Track back through the Declaration of Independence as a statement of original intent to the text of the amendment.

On 3: I can't help thinking that a lot of the persiflage in the Great Genre Food Fight is a sign of fear, panic, uncertainty, and doubt. In these parlous times, when sales are seemingly down across the board, with no relief in sight, the jockeying for the best-advantaged position might reasonably get ... um ... spirited.


Xealot said...

The Progressive Left does not pay attention to whether or not something is legal or morally correct. Their focus is if a thing is possible, which of course is not always the same thing. So in their eyes, Obama has the power to do whatever he wants, provided he gets away with it. This betrays the origins of the Modern Left in Nietzsche's philosophical bunk. It remains to be seen, however, if Obama manages to extricate himself from this mess intact, or if getting caught will be sufficient to ruin his image in the eyes of the Left.

As for the Science Fiction/Romance debate, I can only repeat from my second reply in your earlier thread. Mr. Beale is not an Authoritative figure, able to dictate what is and is not Sci-Fi. In that we agree. And I have nothing with which to refute your statements about changing categories as people and times change. Your points are flawless, your defense of your position is strong and logical.

Yet I still cannot help but think that something is definitely wrong with modern Science Fiction. I am a musician and a professional club DJ, and I see a similar dumbing-down, if you will, in modern Pop music. Once, Mozart and Beethoven were considered musical greats, but the masses throwing their arms around drunkenly in the clubs today, listening to Miley Cyrus and Ylvis, show that musical taste has degraded. Both modern pop and classical are considered music, but one is clearly more intellectual, complex and worthy of remembrance than the other.

When I peruse the aisles of Barnes and Noble, looking for new Science Fiction, I cringe. There are a few gems here and there, and there always will be I suspect, but there is so much more pointless drivel.

And so, while I am unable to refute your points, and can say that yes, categories change as the consensus moves on, I am still left with a sense of emptiness where much of modern Science Fiction is concerned. We have had our Frank Herberts, our Issac Asimovs, just as music had its greats. Now, I'm afraid, we have entered the age of Miley Cyrus Science Fiction.