Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I received this email from my dad this morning:


I find the "agreement" reached by Senate "moderates" disgusting. The Democrats gave up everything they were fighting for in return for a promise by the Republicans not to invoke the nuclear option this time. The Republicans reserve the right to invoke it the next time they feel like it.

The closest parallel I can think of is Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich on September 30, 1938, waving a piece of paper signed by Hitler and proclaiming "Peace in our time." Chamberlain and Daladier had given Hitler half of Czechoslovakia in return for a promise not to demand more. 6 months later he took the rest of Czechoslovakia, and 6 months after that he invaded Poland, starting WWII.


Disregarding the fact that my dad has already invoked Godwin's Law, I'm torn about this subject. On the one hand, compromise is good. It's what reasonable people do. On the other hand, the judges who were waved through are all major assholes.

For instance, let me remind you who Bill Pryor is:
"The American experiment is not a theocracy. It does not establish an official religion," Pryor stated. "But the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man.

"The challenge of the next millennium," Pryor continued, "will be to preserve the American experiment by restoring its Christian perspective."

Schumer castigated Pryor for his characterization of the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion-on-demand during all nine months of pregnancy, as "the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law."

The problem with compromise is it works well only if both parties believe in compromise. It reminds me of a favorite joke:

Two street urchins find a cake in a dumpster and argue about how to divide it up. One of them demands to have the whole cake, while the other says, "That's not fair, we should cut it in half and each get half."

As they argue, a mathematician wanders by and asks if he can help. When they explain the situation, the mathematician says "Gentlemen, the answer to your problem is compromise! I know exactly what you should do: give this one three quarters of the cake."

I know the right wing bloggers were griping loudly this morning about how betrayed they feel, but this is complaining by the kid who got only three quarters of the cake when he wanted the whole thing.

Paradox: the only way to have a fair society is to make sure that everyone can be reasonable. But when a reasonable person meets an unreasonable person, the reasonable one often gets the worse end of the deal.

Another paradox: in a free society, people are even free to support political agendas that go against other people's freedom. When you have a group that is determined to strip other people of rights, the only way to stop them is to limit their right to impose their agenda. I wonder, is "freedom" inherently a self-destroying concept?

Finally, I'm reminded of a great bit of dialogue from Life, The Universe, and Everything. I'm snipping out some really funny lines, so go read the whole chapter.

In this book, there are a bunch of insane religious fanatics who decide that their ultimate mission in life is to obliterate all other life in the universe. Slartibartfast wants to save the universe, whereas Ford is much more interested in going to a party and getting drunk. Slartibartfast asks Ford, haven't you understood the stakes?

"Yes," said Ford, with a sudden and unexpected fierceness, "I've understood it all perfectly well. That's why I want to have as many drinks and dance with as many girls as possible while there are still any left. If everything you've shown us is true ..."

"True? Of course it's true."

"... then we don't stand a chance. The point is that people like you and me, Slartibartfast, and Arthur - particularly and especially Arthur - are just dilletantes, eccentrics, layabouts, fartarounds if you like."

Slartibartfast frowned, partly in puzzlement and partly in umbrage. He started to speak.

"- ..." is as far as he got.

"We're not obsessed by anything, you see," insisted Ford.


"And that's the deciding factor. We can't win against obsession. They care, we don't. They win."

"I care about lots of things," said Slartibartfast, his voice trembling partly with annoyance, but partly also with uncertainty.

"Such as?"

"Well," said the old man, "life, the Universe. Everything, really. Fjords."

"Would you die for them?"

"Fjords?" blinked Slartibartfast in surprise. "No."

"Well then."

"Wouldn't see the point, to be honest."
While I disagree with Ford's philosophy, it's hard to deny that there's a major problem with the fact that they're fanatics and we aren't. We don't WANT to be fanatics, that would make us just as evil as they are. But fanatics hold the upper hand, it seems.

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