Rand Paul for President

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William quoted Ayn Rand as writing:

An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn) . . . . Abortion is a moral rightwhich should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?

end quote

I will briefly respond to keep this thread on topic. By definition a human embryo is always alive. It is always human. But it is not always a thinking person. Therefore it is not a citizen with legal rights. My views are not faith based. They are shaped by my human ability to reason. For personal, legal and Constitutional reasons I would not classify an unthinking embryo as a person or a citizen. The consequences of endowing a "conceived, one second old embryo" with rights would mean that if harm were done to the mother then legally there would be harm done to two "people" or four people if the mother were having triplets, and that is not right.

So I think my philosophical agreement with William and Ayn Rand would be that I do not think "a person" exists at conception. Rather a *person* with rights exists when a person is actually there, which is when the embryo starts to think around the 24th to 28th week after conception. Paraphrasing Aristotles Logic, this represents the law of identity, or *A is A.* Birth and separation matter but birth does not define an entity.

Also it is important to realize that even a child after birth is not granted the exercise of all its rights. A child needs to be taken care of. A child by its nature cannot be responsible enough to drive a car, or to do a myriad of things without adult supervision. That does not mean that it does not have all the rights of an adult, it simply means that a parent or guardian exercises its rights FOR the child.

I also think that the nature of an unthinking human embryo endows it with more importance than any other life form and if it is to be aborted at any time, I think the abortion should be given the utmost consideration. (Growing up in a military family we always referred to such an absolute as "due consideration," and it is not a frivolous term. From the instant after fertilization a human embryo should be given more consideration than inanimate matter and more consideration than all other creatures in the vast, animal kingdom.)

As a fail safe, I would say it is totally a woman's and her doctor's decision up to the point when significant HUMAN brain activity begins . . . even in the womb . . . and then the baby should be, constitutionally and practically, protected.

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I'll not make another comment on abortion until one of OL's women weigh in. Can you imagine Rand's reaction to the conservative evangelical obsession with the ability of women to make their own decisions in life?

Bill, I think it's time for you to stop being pissed off at me.

Try to see this in another frame, Brant. Discussion can raise heat, and it can raise light -- if you disagree strongly with some point or other someone has made here, your posted reaction doesn't necessitate being angry with a person. It doesn't necessitate being angry at all. Think of the times you have attempted to refute a line of thought -- say with Greg's endless aphorisms -- it is the unreason that you react to, the cheap psychologizing, the ignorance, the arrogance. You may be like me, annoyed that such a bad-faith poster clots up the mix with his essentialist murk.

In any case, anger can be a righteous emotion. It can propel an argument, supply the motive power to do work, intellectual work.

Do I get 'angry' with unreason or with slack thinking? Perhaps sometimes, but I try to let a post remain in drydock until I have managed to approach issues with a cooler head. If the only impression I leave is that I am Angered, I have failed. I'd rather my annoyance led to some rational argument.

You are right that disagreement can sometimes seem mere aggression built on personal antipathy. But it is an error, I believe, to ground a discussion in the personal. It's not what I am doing (or mean to do) in my post answering your comments above.

You have a point about my one-liners and it's hard to stand up to my ability to stick a knife between the ribs, but anyone's ribs is not the target but the substance and content. That's ego bruising.

Substance in an argument is what we both want, no? We want to use the best tools of reason in our kit, we disdain sloppy, biased and knee-jerk rhetoric, we prefer an argument that is not built of prejudice.

One-liners can be effective, pithy commentary -- well-placed, well-crafted, simmering with sense. At other times they can appear to be nothing but a poke at the keyboard: little content, little substance. A lazy effort, a dog-squirt on the fence-post.

It's hard to do the same to me--but hardly impossible (I'm human, all too human too)--for a lot of my ego is not in my ego but existential so I'm continually correctable while immune to most bitch-slapping. Ironically it makes me quite socialable if that orientation is mutual. It seems that's rare in a tribal context of wanting to trade and share bullshit never mind what's really going on or advocated.

This is hard to parse. I take it that you consider yourself amenable to correction, given time and thought and facts in hand. In which case, I think I do you a good service by checking or attempting to verify fact-claims you put forward.

Quite a few people seem to read this site compared to how many post even if that in turn is really not a lot. You come in in the morning and Brant's already there with five posts and likely all one-liners. I guess that gets old fast. Alternatively for some it may appear I'm a wood chipper for their pre-conceived preciousnesses, unless they parachute in blind as dead wood thinking they are Prometheus to hoi polloi. If they do--yeah, I'm a wood chipper or whatever is appropriate.

The reads to comments ratio usually hovers around one to ten. I think the reads may be inflated somewhat by visits by search engine 'bots and spiders like Yahoo, Google, Bing, etc. Once in a while I click the "Last Click" short cut to see who is looking at what and when.

Over time sites like OL, like everything essentially organic, get old, whither and die. At the root reality itself may be essentially an organic but mostly incomprehensible construct seemingly a perpetual motion machine, but doesn't energy feed in from somewhere?

This is mostly wrong, to my eyes. OL is not essentially organic. It is an internet forum. The metaphor you suggest could just as easily mean that OL is in its tenth year of slow, continuous growth and importance. Michael has been clear and persistent in letting us know that he is not devoted to increasing readership of OL by any other but 'natural' means. Compared to the other two 'sisterly' sites, RoR and SOLO, OL marches on while they dwindle in readership and freshness. If you have visited Lindsay's manic shithole lately, you will know what I mean by dwindling.

That might be a sub-atomic sub atomic particle we set up huge machines to discover--a futile search?--or some string theory mega-reality we can only passionately infer never observe. (Science and God converge.)

Yikes. We are into cosmology, the Large Hadron Collider, theoretical physics -- and the mysteries of existence. Oh, and gods. In a sandwich. Each of these brief notions worthy of applied effort and thought ... in an Objectivish OL context.

Living is a constant struggle against dying--acts of creation as the ultimate end-all and be-all of human existence with passivity and destruction at the other end of the human continuum. But in the universe at large all the destruction seems to be mindless necessity for mindless creation itself.

Living, human living is a whole lot more than a 'struggle' to keep Death from our doors, I'd say. I find it hard to think of a be-all and end-all summary of humanity. You may be looking for the effect of a sweeping statement. It is not clear how the universe writ large pertains to human life -- except that at the moment, we don't know of any other civilized intelligence anywhere else but here.

If you mean to underline the staggering distances in space and time when we compare the human Earth to the universe, I agree entirely. This is awe-inspiring and sublime.

In economics we have creative destruction. Quite a different kind of destruction than flying an airplane into a building out of a death wish to fuck virgins in paradise wish. (I wonder how the virgins enjoy being part of a dehumanized rape fantasy?

And now we have economics, 9/11, heavenly rewards for religious martyrdom, virgins, Islam, rape ... all worthy of discussion. I take it you are segueing into ISIS. Here's an exceptionally well-researched article in Der Spiegel by Christof Reuter: The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State. The article is good reading for those who wonder how ISIS was able to expand 'out of nowhere,' and how that expansion was part of a rigorous plan.

I wonder how a female jihadist--a virgin--feels about going to paradise to be screwed? And if not a virgin will she find 72 virgin men waiting for her? Back on earth there's good if perhaps inadequate reason for dad to take his teenage son to a whorehouse and not his daughter.)

Have a gander at an article at the Daily Mail that speaks to the roles and expectations that draw female jihadists to ISIS lands. In a nutshell, they go to get married, and/or to take up jobs in the caliphate: Three London schoolgirls who fled to Syria 'have joined fearsome all-female ISIS militia renowned for savage beatings and forcing children as young as nine to marry'

Yep. Most everybody is looking for God. The universal source of energy. But what makes the perpetual motion of existence possible is epistemological not metaphysical, not to be found as such.

Yikes encore. I am not looking for gods. And I doubt there is anyone here who is 'looking.' Even such

a dreary feminized conservative Christophile as Greg has already 'found' god. The looking is over.

But hey, add to the list of topics. The universal source of energy. Perpetual motion. Epistemology. Metaphysics. Existence. All good stuff, good first steps, good initial indicators. Off the top of my head, I'd say that there is no such thing as perpetual motion in the universal context. The universe as I understand it has an end-point in heat-death. The stars will cease burning. The interstellar clouds of dust will cease to become stars. The source of our earthly energy -- the Sun -- will die.

It's simple: there is no such thing as non-existence. Existence is the only thing that exists. It feeds on itself in constant transmogrification for everything moves, only the speed changes depending on particulars.

Cool. I agree there is no such thing as non-existence. Except for in death. Add to the discussibles some pure sweet concepts. Existence exists. Existence feeds. Everything moves. Speed changes. Bada boom.

I have no idea how these multiple notions could be expanded into a single article, though I think you should try. But maybe not in the Rand Paul thread.

A granite rock held in your hand is just another expression of energy. Everything is organic, except in the supermarket (joke), for energy is organic. You're energy. I'm energy. Energy cannot stop being energy. All it can do is roil.

Er, not quite, on all counts. Energy can transform into matter and matter can become energy. A granite rock is a piece of history (to geologists, archaeologists, paleontologists). The piece of granite was at one time not a piece of granite, but grains of minerals. Studying it can tell us things about physical processes on the earth, not so much about energy, to my understanding, though granite's composition includes quartz, which has interesting energetic properties under stress.

So even as OL waxes and wanes, comes and goes, as long as there are people there will be conversations; never mind me the "thread killer." I don't fly airplanes into buildings.

I had suspected you do not fly airplanes into buildings. Thanks for clearing that up.

Edited by william.scherk

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Greg has great value if you want to refine it. If you don't do that you'll choke on what he eats.

I might fuck up with my one-liners once in a while, but often they can lance a wound or redirect a conversation or are too good and funny to pass up. In any case neither you nor I do things with much overlap. Even if I were to try to use your approach in an ad hoc way, I've not the time. You recently invited me to join you, not un-reasonably, in what you do as in a conversation, but we are complimentary, not supplementary, so I declined. That's not to say I haven't substituted wisdom for brains after seven decades of life. I remember being too ignorant to sound smart. I was likely smarter but sounded dumber when I was 20. Now I'm just grateful, considering my genes, not to have to worry too much about dementia. I'm given pause, however, for it made no difference for hair, what little I have left. Fortunately, no one but me cares about my hair and when I understood that I stopped caring too. No, it wasn't social metaphysics.

Above all people need to have fun here on OL. Super-duper serious? Write that book!

Most of what you put out is good objectification of an issue, but like me you can come a cropper. It's the price of production and we aren't lawyers crossing every "t" and dotting every "i" to the satisfaction of a magistrate.


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I missed quoting this bit somehow (perhaps I copied an earlier pre-edit paragraph):

Existence is the only thing that exists. It feeds on itself in constant transmogrification for everything moves, only the speed changes depending on particulars. This must be why Barbara Branden once said (wrote), "There is no first cause." The first cause would have to be something from nothing and there is no nothing; that's a contradiction. (Isn't it interesting how you can use logic to explore the unknown--even unknowable if that be so--sans data, empiricism and research?

The divan or comfy chair or couch is a place ripe with discovery -- in a philosophical sense. You are, I think, mistaken to attribute the 'first cause' counterargument to Barbara. See "First cause" is existence, not God" by Nathaniel Branden

The fallacy of humans unable to get their heads around reality is the fallacy of having to know God as if Man, being made in His own image, might be godlike enough to step outside reality and take it all in.

I can almost sense what you mean here -- Humankind cannot 'step outside' of reality, since it is so deeply implicated in it. But, on the other hand, some of our human sciences seek to remove the subjective from the enterprise; by this I mean such things as astrobiology, paleo-astronomy, and any of the experimental work being done to confirm/disconfirm the Standard Model in physics.

In this sense, the Objective Reality is something apart from our wishes and hopes and god-bothered mythology. And in this sense, human efforts to better understand fundamentals of existence (via sub-atomic particles and their interactions) lead us to fantastic knowledge. As with the quantum revolution in physics, it is trivially true to claim that we humans cannot step outside of reality -- but it is not equally true that we cannot achieve an impressive 'godlike' knowledge and understanding.

Me, I get hopelessly confused when I venture into cosmology, the big bang, dark matter, dark energy, the Higgs boson, and so on. But my confusion and lack of understanding does not mean that science cannot proceed amassing knowledge beyond my ken.

As for Branden's argument, it is an argument against the necessity of god. It might make assertions about 'first cause/s' in the realm of physics, but these are not bullet-proof. The oddity of such processes as the Big Bang can baffle and frighten us -- how could something come from what appears to be essentially nothing? -- but it is not as if one can dispose of scientific hypotheses from the comfy couch. I mean, the couch remains comfy but the work marches on ... Branden's article from the 1962 Newsletter has had no effect on the cosmological 'special sciences' enterprise.

That's not the way it works. We know--can know--reality for we are in reality. If we could be outside it we'd be oblivious to it except perhaps as a blob. (Maybe we'd put it into an accelerator to see what pops out.)

It's not clear to me what you are arguing for and against.

I will add here some paragraphs from Branden's article. He has disposed of the god-cause fallacy and now moves on:

This leads to the second and more fundamental fallacy in this argument: the assumption that the universe as a whole requires a causal explanation. It does not. The universe is the total of that which exists. Within the universe, the emergence of new entities can be explained in terms of the actions of entities that already exist: The cause of a tree is the seed of the parent tree; the cause of a machine is the purposeful reshaping of matter by men. All actions presuppose the existence of entities -- and all emergences of new entities presuppose the existence of entities that caused their emergence. All causality presupposes the existence of something that acts as a cause. To demand a cause for all of existence is to demand a contradiction: if the cause exists, it is part of existence; if it does _not_ exist, it cannot be a cause. Nothing cannot be the cause of_something. Nothing does not exist. Causality presupposes existence; existence does not presuppose causality. There can be no cause "outside" of existence or "anterior" to it. The forms of existence may change and evolve, but the fact of existence is the irreducible primary at the base of all causal chains. Existence -- not "god" -- is the First Cause.

Just as the concept of a causality applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole -- so the concept of time applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole. The universe did not "begin" -- it did not, at some point in time, "spring into being." Time is a measurement of motion. Motion presupposes entities that move. If nothing existed, there could be no time. Time is "in" the universe; the universe is not "in" time.

The man who asks: "Where did existence come from?" or "What caused it?" is the man who has never grasped that existence_exists. This is the mentality of a savage or a mystic who regards existence as some sort of incomprehensible miracle -- and seeks to "explain" it by reference to non existence.

Existence is all that exists, the nonexistent does not exist; there is nothing for existence to have come out of --and nothing means nothing. If you are tempted to ask: "What's outside the universe?" -- recognize that you are asking: "What's outside of existence?" and that the idea of "something outside of existence" is a contradiction in terms; nothing is outside of existence, and "nothing" is not just another kind of "something" -- it is nothing. Existence exists; you cannot go outside it; you cannot get under it, on top of it, or behind it. Existence exists -- and only existence exists: There is nowhere else to go.

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I need to reread the early Nathaniel Branden. They were all at the top of their intellectual game and interacting with each other in the early 1960s. Ayn Rand turned out multi-paragraph philosophical explanations that got much shorter after ITOE. For pure intellectual power, Branden never exceeded the 1960s though he still had the sheer brains to speak at length as if he were writing a book with his mouth in 1978, with little if any diminution for the next +20 years. This in spite of the fact he was always a poor researcher, unlike you (Internet?). His practical psychological knowledge came from hands on work. You see this by considering the differences and changes and growth between his Breaking Free and The Disowned Self. From what I read he did with therapy in the 1960s--I doubt he had many clients then--pre-break, it was suffused with ideological-moral crap which he completely dropped when he moved to California. I came with a calculation based on what he was doing in any week in the mid-seventies and his statement he had seen over 3000 clients by then, that he ended up with over 10,000 not including any of the "Intensives" he once ran beginning in 1977. In my experience he was more than good, he was great, but maybe that was because I was a great client that well meshed with the kind of work he did and his "great" may not have been so great for others. (That said, he did not work with seriously disturbed clients but referred them elsewhere.)


I suggest spiking these digressions so the thread can revert to Rand Paul for President

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I just got a big envelope from Rand and on the front it asks, "Are you with me?" I want to see Rand move/prove the polls before I groove to the beat.

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Frankly, I follow a line similar to Ayn Rand's position on abortion: it is a matter for the woman and her doctor, a matter of professional ethics and care. It is not a matter for a third-party to decide, in my opinion. Rand might sound like Wasserman Schultz, but she said it straight:

An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?


I take issue with Rand here.

I do not hold that an embryo is "potential" human life. To call it that is a mis-identification. An embryo is actual human life.

Rand makes a whopper of a premise mistake here. And, surprise, surprise, her abortion argument only appeals to the already convinced.

The real point is sovereignty. Who controls and protects the rights of the unborn?

Now here I do agree with Rand. It's the mother, not the government.

In my concept, so long as the mother is providing the unborn individual with basic biological survival, the government has no voice in the matter. You can't alter a womb by vote, decree or regulation. There is no such thing as womb inspection or fining/punishing someone for a womb regulation infringement.

I gotta go right now, but I can elaborate on this idea. In fact, I might after I can get back to my computer.


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If you start with a woman has a right to get an abortion then I'll discuss such things that cloud the picture deeper and deeper into the pregnancy one goes. This is an ideological premise. That premise goes more and more off the tracks the deeper into human creation with the denial of ambiguity.

The right to lifers say there is no such thing as a right to an abortion. Many of them extend that to contraception. They call this right to life. As if that were the only right, real or imagined, worth talking about. So, a two-celled organism--call it that--has a right to life but not an adult woman. Pretty much this "right to life" stops at birth, just the point rights are supposed to begin without the above mentioned ambiguity.


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