Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Global Warming Cancelled

In case you missed it, I've got a nihilist post up at American Nihilist which cancels Global Warming. Turns out God was one step ahead of us and already undermined the basic premise of all manmade existential threats. Shit! This one had such promise, too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Answers to Reader Questions

Yes, I'm dead. No, it didn't hurt. Yes, I am glad that Hendrix is here. No, I'm not glad that he hates me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Deep Thought

If you expect to be kicked in the teeth all the time, it's not such a big surprise when it actually happens. But you got kicked in the teeth all the same.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Typical RedState Day

In case you hadn't noticed yet, I haven't gotten back to blogging after Spring Break. Yeah, it was that much fun. I still haven't even gotten around to checking my email in over a week. But I figured I better write something so you wouldn't think I was dead, and knew that there's no better place for easy material than RedState.

And I wasn't disappointed. Here's a post entitled Note to Jim Moran (D-VA): People who want to kill themselves to kill you don’t care about your ‘reputation’, which was based upon a quote from Moran who was talking about closing down Gitmo and said "It will enhance our reputation to close it down and to apply our system of justice to all of these detainees." And in the little mind of Jeff Emanuel, the only people who know about what goes on at Gitmo are the terrorists we put there. Note to Jeff Emanuel: Gitmo is a recruiting tool that encourages people to want to kill themselves to kill you.

And sure, he could have just written "Terrorists don't care about your reputation" or even "Suicide bombers don't care about your reputation." But no, conservatives hit those rhetorical devices far too many times and now all their weight has been lost. It's time to put the euphamisms aside and really try to grab their attention. And so they're reduced to writing morbid phrases like "People who want to kill themselves to kill you," as if spelling it out for us would finally make us "get it." Yes, Jeff. We get it. They're bad fucking dudes. Now it's time we stop treating them like super villains and come up with a longterm strategy for dealing with the problem.

But apparently, our reputation in the European Union is now very important. Maybe we'll be allowed to eat French cheese soon, too!

And lastly we have National Service - Soviet Style (Part II in a series that you can’t possibly make up), and in case you were wondering, yes, they made it up. For a similar post with a better title, try Obama plans to force your children into work programs with mandatory service, uniforms and an oath. And the idea is that there's apparently a bill that just passed which will authorize a commission to look into having a manditory volunteerism program to make people fulfill their civic duties, as well as including volunteerism in public school curriculum.

Interesting. The same people who hated Bill Clinton for avoiding the draft now insist that mandatory civic activity is a denial of their rights. And while I haven't heard about this elsewhere, just based upon the description they gave, it really doesn't sound so bad; though it was seriously lacking in details.

Yet the RedStaters are clearly preparing for the worst, and either talk about how they're buying more guns or leaving the country. One doofus mentions how he's going to go to "a free part of the world" but then realizes that there are no such places that he'd want to live in and suggests that he might go to Dubai. And I support him in that, particularly over his other plan to "buy a bunch of guns." In fact, I wish all the RedStaters many great happinesses in Dubai. That'd be awesome.

And there you have it: Proof that I'm not dead. And sure, none of these stories are really "new" so it's possible that I just took a guess at what RedState would be going with, but really, I'm not sure it makes a difference in any case.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Break, Bitches!

Hey y'all, in case you hadn't realized, it's Spring Break in Austin, so I'm out of town for most of the week. Light posting, as usual. And yeah, it is nice to be self-employed and decide to take Spring Break off. I think everyone should do it. It wouldn't have to be all at once. We'd all take turns. Maybe it'd be done alphabetically. Or maybe it'd be a contest, where the most beautiful people got to Spring Break first, followed by the moderately attractive people. And on the third week, once all the charm and glitz has worn off, the ugly people get to party for the week while the rest of us recuperiate.

So in honor of that, you need to break out the pen and paper, my friend. It's time for a quiz!


1) In twenty-five words or less, explain why transubstiantiated wine is just as likely to get you f-ed up as the wine before it was transubstianted. Extra points if your answer includes the latest research on antioxidents.

2) Why tadpoles?

3) If you could play god for a day, what are the first five things you'd fix? And remember, this is not a hypothetical.

4) Explain why all the other people are crazy besides you.
Give examples.

Bonus Question:
Why are all the assholes doing better than you?

2nd Bonus Question:
At the parties in Heaven, does Jesus transubstiate the wine in order to gross people out? Why or why not?

3rd Bonus Question:
If Hendrix, Lennon, and Morrison all hated each other in Heaven and you had to pick which one you'd get to hang out with, who do you pick? And if this happened, could you be truly sure you were in Heaven? And what about Einstein? If you truly learn all knowledge once you enter Heaven, isn't a guy like him fairly useless?

4th Bonus Question:
Can you ever truly "know" you're in Heaven? What if you're actually in Hell and the Devil is tricking you into believing that you're in Heaven. And he continues to allow you to believe that you were in Heaven, until exactly ten thousand years pass (Earth Time). And then he gathers all your heavenly friends around you and then exposes that they had been playing a trick on you the entire time, and all your "friends" turn out to be demons who mock you for your idiocies and overall boringness. And then they spend the next ten thousand years torturing you relentlessly, forcing you to grovel endlessly for having ever dared imagine that you were worthy enough to enter Heaven. And then after the ten thousand years of torment, an angel appears and asks you if you still believe in Heaven. And you nod yes, because the angel's beauty is enough to convince you that God truly did exist. And then the angel lifts you above and brings you to the "true" Heaven, where you spend one thousand years basking in the joy of God and the "real" way you spend your time in Heaven, which involves lots of moping about and pontificating on whatever subject comes up. Yeah, it sounds boring, but there really isn't much else to do when you don't have a body. And then after the one thousand years, all your fellow matterless souls gang up on you and turn out to be the same demons who tortured you the first time. And then they spend the next one hundred thousand years tormenting you and making you truly sorry for having ever been alive. And at this point, when the Arcangel Gabriel comes down to you and tells you that this was all a test of your faith and that if you take his hand, you'll be escorted into the real "real" Heaven, where God, the son, and the Holy Ghost are waiting to shake your hand and have a beer with you: Do you take his hand? And if you do, at what point would you truly believe that you were in the real Heaven?

Extra Bonus Question:
Name three religions that you would most hate to be correct. And they have to be real religions.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The End of Religion

The Christian Science Monitor has a piece entitled The coming evangelical collapse:
We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. [....]

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.
And while I agree with some of the general predictions, I think there are some fundamental flaws with the reasoning here, due to bias on the part of the author.  He got many of the symptoms right, but the true prognosis is much more dire than he'd like to believe.  I mean, if Christianity is on the wane due to growing anti-religious intolerance, where could the intolerance have originated from?  It's like if the chicken and egg created each other simultaneously.

Because intolerance of Christianity isn't what he's describing, but rather, intolerance of Christian intolerance.  People are sick of Christians who stick their nose in our business and tell us how to live our lives.  And that has nothing to do with Christianity.  The real problem is that Christianity has been on the wane for centuries and what we call "Christianity" have been a series of substitutes, with each incarnation getting further from original.  And we're slowly reaching the point that we won't be calling it Christianity at all.

Flag, Family, and Jesus

As a seminarian at Carpetbagger's wrote:
I agree with the comment that the number of "Christians" is overstated unless you equate Christianity with the common "folk religion" of the U.S. and espcially the south and otherwise rural areas. That is the religion that is flag first, family second, Jesus third and maybe God and Bible in there somwhere as well. Oh yeah, and condemnation of how other people conduct their sex lives (that's definately ahead of God).
And that's the real reason why these groups are going down: Because it's not really about religion any more.  This isn't Christianity.  It's about the culture war.  It's about the megachurch.  It's not about Christianity; it's about the Christian identity.  This is a group of people who are lost in modern society and found an island of sanity that they can believe in.  "Christian" is who they are and "church" is where their friends are.

Not that all Christians are like this, as I've known many Christians who have a deep understanding with their religion.  But for too many, their religiousness is restricted to very specific areas of their lives.  For them, religion is a person, a place, a set of actions.  But it's not an overarching belief system that extends to everyday life.  They might pray for rain, but they still understand weather patterns.  They'll nod in approval at the Sermon on the Mount, but they'll obey the tenants of "tough love" that satisfies their moral code.  

And honestly, how many of them truly act like death is a great reward, rather than a horrible event to avoid?  None that I know of.  They might say that their Uncle Joe is in Heaven, but they rarely celebrate the idea or seem eager to join him.  Nor have I seen conservatives trumpeting the number of American soldiers they sent to Heaven.  They might find comfort in the concept of Heaven, but they rarely act as if it's real.

The Beginning of the End

And the reality is that God is Dead.  And the people who "killed" him are the ones who imagine they're keeping him alive.  They've made religion "real."  They've given practical solutions to eternal questions, as well as a complete set of political beliefs.  And they've given it charisma and a self-help mentality to woo the masses.  Gone is the suffering Jesus of the Middle Ages.  It's all about the power of positive thinking these days, and figuring out how to make God work for us.

And by doing these things, they took the immaterial and made it material.  God now has a price tag and the only "mystery" left is how much praying we have to do before He gives us that big promotion.  God for them is little more than the anthropomorphic version of their own desires.  And before long, they'll set the god aside and just reach for what they desire.  But of course, the only difference is that they'll have to justify these desires on their merits, rather than attributing them to a supernatural power.  They'll say that God is too mysterious to understand, but that never stops them from insisting that he supports their actions.

But these aren't variations on an ageless theme.  These are short-term bandaids that mask the effects that our expanded worldview of have given us.  The old school religions are only hanging on due to habitual attendees who feel obligated to remain faithful, while the newer incarnations will only last until the charismatic preacher dies or the culture battle wears thin.  And for as much as people hold on to this "faith," it's really only their identity as The Faithful that they so desperately cling to.  They made God in their own self-image and refuse to relinquish the authority they imagine He gave them.  But even that will fade over time.

And I should add that I don't say any of this to be antagonistic towards religion.  I'm not anti-religious and think that if a belief system helps someone become a better person, I'm all for it.  I'm not trying to push for the death of religion.  I'm just giving a better explanation for the phenomenon that was described in that Christian Science article.  And much of it actually came from that article, though I obviously have a more pessimistic conclusion from it all (or more optimistic from my POV, I suppose).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Religious Party Power

Carpetbagger's got a post about the religious right and how obviously impotent they have become. But this shouldn't be a surprise. The surprise is that they ever officially tried to get power and that anyone assumed they had it. Because they never did. It was always smoke & mirrors.

For as much as the Christian conservatives had power, it was because Republicans aligned their message with the evangelicals in order to get more foot soldiers on the campaign trail. But the party wasn't doing this because they were being forced to by the evangelicals. Rather, the Republicans were taking advantage of them. They saw how their message could be piggybacked onto the religious message and sent out together.

Somehow, we were to imagine that a group that wanted a strong government to rid the country of abortions, porn, drugs, and violent entertainment meshed perfectly with anti-government libertarianism. But at the end of the day, the Republican Party stood for the Republican Party and they'll do whatever it takes to stay in power. Everything else was a sham.

Party People

And the religious right's big mistake was in ever becoming part of the party. They were supposed to be agitators from the outside who applied light pressure on a like-minded ally. They weren't supposed to be part of the same group. Yet before they knew it, they were giving church directories to the RNC and attacking church members for supporting Democrats. Rather than being a group pressuring from the outside, they effectively turned their religion into an arm of the Republican Party.

And it's the same mistake that Limbaugh made. By taking too aggressive a stand in controlling the party, they become liabilities to each other. No longer can Limbaugh or the evanglicals be interested parties pushing from the outside. Now, they represent the party. And their interests are expected to coincide. And even worse for them, they can be taken for granted. Limbaugh and the evangalicals still have a stranglehold on Republican messaging, but have almost no influence over actual policies.

And when the party goes against them, by nominating McCain for example, then they have no choice but to suck it up and toe the line. But of course, neither Limbaugh or the evangelical leaders ever represented anything more than a sizeable minority and couldn't have possibly delivered elections or primaries singlehandedly. And they continue to make that abundantly clear.

That's why they should have stayed at arm's length from the party, rather than becoming outright party leaders. Instead of being able to pick their fights, they're stuck slogging through every battle that comes along. And every time they don't prevail, they become that much weaker. They were much better off posing as a victimized voiceless minority than as bullying power players. And the more they force the Republican Party into adopting their positions, the less sense there is for there to be a Republican Party.

Conservative Dogma on Welfare

I'm currently in an on-going debate with a few conservatives over Obama's supposed expansion of "Welfare Handouts." And let me tell you, the whole thing is ludicrous. It's a bit hard to tie any of them down on what specific programs they're even complaining about, but it sure does seem like they're complaining about everything the government does. But I suspect the vagueness is a necessary ruse to hide the fact that they have no idea what they're talking about. Big surprise.

And it really is absurd, as they seem to be including Social Security and Medicare as "handouts," despite the fact that these are programs that recipients paid to be a part of. And unemployment is an insurance program that your employer pays into and can be seen as a sort of employee perk. And again, you don't get it unless you worked. And so they're lumping in these popular programs as "welfare handouts" and attacking them as if they discourage work.

And they're also attacking public education, job training programs, and even drug rehab. These are programs which have a specific intent to turn people into productive members of society and make them self-sufficient. Yet I'm told that these liberal programs are:

"removing more and more of the individual's ability to live free and pursue happiness, be that through taxation, regulation, and/or degradation of
economic and educational opportunity..."

Huh? That's nonsense of the highest order. This is a guy hyping "educational opportunity" who has directly attacked spending on education. And that's not to mention that they ignore the $288 billion in tax cuts that were in the stimulus bill. Somehow, that's not nearly as important as the $3 billion in Welfare.

Stimulating Handouts

But that's not even the stupidest part of this debate. The stupidest part is that we're even discussing this end of the issue at all.

Because sure, I can understand why people might think Welfare was a mistake. I myself always thought it should have been considered a quickie bandaid on the way towards finding real solutions. And I can understand why they might disagree with food stamps and Medicaid, even if these programs go to working people, too. And hey, I can even understand why they don't like any of these programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and job training programs. For whatever reason, they don't think the government should try to be the safety net that doesn't exist in nature. And I suppose that does make some sense, assuming you were an idiot who enjoyed human suffering.

But what I don't understand is why they think this matters in this particular debate. It was a STIMULUS bill. The purpose of this was to stimulate the economy. And whether or not you agree with the wisdom of giving poor people free money, food, healthcare, and training; they're an excellent way of stimulating the economy. This stuff spends just the same as if an employer gave it and that's all the economy cares about. Conservatives might not like food stamps, but you can bet your local grocery store does.

And so they're entirely missing the boat on this. Republican leaders told these people that the stimulus bill was just a spending bill solely designed to expand the government, and so they imagine this is the only way to look at it. They won't even consider the spending side of it. It's all about how giving "handouts" to lazy people will only make them more dependent on the government, even if many of these "handouts" were earned privileges like Social Security and Unemployment.

But again, it's obvious they have no clue what they're talking about. They won't name the specific programs they're denouncing or provide their supposed evidence of the failure of these programs. They won't give the price tag of these programs. Nor will they even consider the idea that they could stimulate the economy. They've been told that these programs suck and that's good enough for them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Compromise That Always Was

Conservatives were already such weird people and now that they've gone past their "wilderness" phase and have decided to Go Galt, they've gotten a whole lot weirder. Rather than try to find some rational strategy to oppose the tidal wave crushing them, they've turned inwards and are plumbing the depths of their inner-paranoid, unaware of what a bad trip it's taking them on.

Here's Redstate's Mark Impomeni who takes one phrase from a NY Times article on Obama's stem cell policy and uses it to connect a conspiracy between the "liberal" media, the Democratic Party, the Obama Administration, and the abortion "industry." And it's all based upon a NY Times article which referred to Bush's stem cell policy as "a careful compromise." That's it. The use of this one phrase helped Impomeni connect the dot to uncover our hyper-secret conspiracy to do exactly what we kept saying Bush should do. And there are no better conspiracies than the ones that everyone knows about.

You see, while "rational" people "knew" that Bush's stem cell policy was scientific and ethical; Democrats decided to use it to score political points by pretending that Bush's policy was bad. But now that Democrats are in charge, the media is providing political cover to Obama by suggesting that Bush's policy was good. That way, when Obama does what Democrats have always attacked Bush for not doing, then...uh, well...I'm not sure exactly where Impomeni was going with this part. But I'm sure it involves something dastardly and deceitful.

He goes on to write about how he knows that Obama isn't interested in science or ethics because he choose to do what Democrats always said Bush should do, instead of modifying Bush's approach, which they opposed. And he's doing this to give "political payback" to the "Abortion Industry" because they supported him because he's "the most radically pro-abortion president in history."

Yes, for you see, if people act exactly as you'd expect them to act, what else could it be than a secret plot? And sure, Occam's Razor would suggest that Impomeni is completely nutshit bonkers, but what's the fun in that? Besides, the NY Times called Bush's policy a "careful compromise." Surely that must mean something, right?

Seems Like Old Times

Wrong. As it turns out, the NY Times has been using the phrase "compromise" to describe Bush's policy since before he officially announced it. And Impomeni would have known this if he had bothered checking a little thing called Google.

Here's a story from July 2001 entitled Bush Aides Seek Compromise On Embryonic Cell Research. And yes, that's a month before the policy was officially announced. And here's one from September 2001 which refers to it as "a careful compromise" as well as a "delicate stem cell compromise." And lest we believe this was language quickly dropped once Dems developed their evil strategy, we have an article in March 2004 which referred to it as a "a political compromise." And here's an article from July 2006 which again refers to it as a "careful compromise."

And how long did it take me to find these? About 10 seconds. And note, those selections included two uses of the exact phrase "careful compromise" which Impomeni insists is a shift in rhetoric. And in case you're wondering about the odds of this specific phrase being used, check it out: Three of those four articles were written by the same reporter who wrote the current article that Mark's complaining about. She's been using the same "careful compromise" for over seven years!

What a joke! Impomeni's entire premise is undermined by a quick search in Google. But that's what hard times they've hit on. They used to at least pretend to have policy differences with us. Now they're relegated to hunting for key phrases which can be used to uncover preposterous conspiracies that wouldn't even make sense if they were true. He could have written a post about why Obama's policy was wrong. But instead we got yet another Liberal Bogeyman piece insisting that we're all one giant enemy set to destroy them.

At a guess, I'd say last November's "upset" election has got them so freaked that paranoia is the only thing they trust anymore. It's obvious that hubris didn't do them any favors, but it'd be nice if they tried picking up a third thought process.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Attention Biobrain Readers: Bonus Time

After over four years of blogging without a salary and much anguished deliberation, it has been decided that I receive some sort of compensation for my services and have approved for myself a one-time annual bonus of $1.2 billion.  And why not?  I work hard.  I post almost once a day.  And dammit, my numbers look pretty darn good, particularly with this downturn in the economy and everything.  If anyone deserves a bonus, it's me.

And so I just wanted to inform you that you should be receiving a bill shortly for your portion of my bonus, based upon the total number of people who read this post.  So if 100 people read this post, your portion will be $12 million.  But...if only 50 people read this, you get to chip in $24 million.  So, the fewer people who read this, the bigger chunk of me that you own.  And I'm sure that's got to make you feel pretty damn good inside.  

Invoices will be issued by the end of the week.  You can promptly drop your checks in the mail or simply wait for a few of my hired goons to accept your remittance with a personal touch.  That's just the kind of service you can expect from a blogger worth $1.2 billion.  After all, I wouldn't have asked for it, if I didn't deserve it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

More Nihilism

For your reading pleasure I have two nihilist posts to link to:

Great stuff you can find only at The American Nihilist, the blog for all your anti-American needs.

The Party of Bush

For as much as I disagree with conservative direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie, I definitely think he's got good political instincts and knows which way the winds blow. And so I found it no surprise to see that he has the same opinion I do regarding the GOP's current woes.

Via Politico:

"The 'Rushification' of the GOP is the natural and inevitable result of the fact that those who are supposed to provide leadership -- Republican elected officials and party officers -- are doing little to bring the party back. Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is no vacuum in nature as empty as the leadership of the Republican Party today."
And that's exactly what's happened. It's not that Republicans have all gone to Rush. It's just that since nobody else is as influential as him, he's the biggest guy they've got (both figuratively and literally). He didn't gain in popularity. It's just that all the others shrank away.

The Ghost Presidency

But their problem is deeper than that. This isn't a short-term vacuum created by our current financial woes. Or even one that goes only as far as the Bush self-destruction. This goes all the way down to their core: They haven't had a real leader since Ronald Reagan, and even he really didn't have such a strong hold on things.

The best they had was Bush and he was a total joke. But they were told to worship him and they did. Not just because they were told to, but because they wanted to. They wanted a leader they could believe in. So the party belonged to him. Congress was nothing more than his rubberstamp and the conservative movement relegated all power to him. And each and every one of them sold their soul to this man, who they were told was the Next Ronald Reagan. And that's exactly what they needed.

And now he's gone. But really, he was gone all of last year too. As well as 2007. In fact, it was hard to tell at the time, but I'd guess he had been coasting since the re-election. Campaigning was what he liked best and after he didn't need to worry about another campaign, the wheels fell off the wagon. We can also point to Katrina, and Social Security Reform, and other issues which undermined him. But really, once his last election was over with, he just wasn't there.

Fulltime Vacancy

And it all goes back to the basic problem: They're authoritarians. They believe in a top-down model of doing business, but once the head gets cut off, the body flails around helplessly. And even worse, Republicans require a puppet president because they're always up to no good. That was Nixon's downfall, that he actually knew what the hell was going on in his administration and had no plausible deniability.

And so their leaders must be people who command respect and look authoritative, but don't care if they're kept in the dark as to what's going on under them. And that's a damn near impossible thing to get. And hell, Bush NEVER pulled it off. He always acted jackass retarded from beginning to end and it took a miraculous level of self-delusion for anyone to imagine he was the bold leader they pretended he was. And people just saw what they wanted to see. The establishment knew his name and who his handlers were. The media liked the fratboy charm. The "intellectuals" knew he was an Ivy League man with an MBA. And the base heard that fakey Texas accent, religious talk, and liked his ranch. And a great marketing campaign filled in the details.

But he wasn't the beginning of a new wave of idiot presidents. He was the only one they had who was dumb enough to be a Republican president, without being too meritless to be president. And he was only the puppet anyway and had he lost the 2000 election, would never have been their leader. And that's what we're seeing now. This isn't a temporary setback. They pinned all their hopes on Bush because he was all they had. And there is no successor. They should have filled Bush's VP slot with someone to hand the torch to, but they got a puppetmaster instead.

And now they've got no one. They didn't train any successors, not by mistake, but because their system can only have one Big Boss. Free-thinkers always do poorly in authoritarian regimes, as authoritarianism only rewards yes-men. And that's what Congress is full of: Dopey yes-men who only know how to follow orders. And all the smart ones rigged the system and got booted out. And now they've got no one. They've been the party of Bush for ten years now and they still have no one to replace him. While it's possible they find one, I wouldn't bet on it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

More Abortions, Please!

Just wanted to mention that I'll be out for the rest of the afternoon, as I whimsically decided to get a partial-birth abortion and wanted to be back before traffic hit.  So light posting until my return and I'll make sure to have plenty of pics to upload for your amusement.

Update: Oh well, never mind.  Apparently, they won't let you get a partial-birth abortion if you're a dude.  This is insanity!  First I can't marry my sexbot and now I'm denied the right to an abortion?  Is this what I voted for last November?  This is the gravest of discriminations since they censored Pee Jesus!  I guess there really is no difference between the two parties.

Where's the ACLU when I need them most?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Admitting Defeat on Class Warfare

Wow, when Doctor Biobrain is wrong, Doctor Biobrain is wrong.  And it looks like I got totally skunked on this one.  In my on-going debate with conservative blogger Donald Douglas, which began with my quickie post arguing that "Republicans don't actually know what the phrase 'class warfare' means," I was just trying to use my deceptive nihilism to thwart objective reality by denying self-evident assumptions that are too self-evident to be proven.  

And I thought I was winning this debate.  I really did.  But Donald played the trump card that undermined my entire argument: He quoted conservative columnist David Brooks.  And that can only mean that the jig is up and I might as well surrender.  Once Brooks is evoked in a debate, you better pray he's on your side or you might as well just slit your wrists and call it a life.  And sure enough, Republican David Brooks asserted that Obama's tax plan is class warfare.  Damn.  That's game, set, and match.

And here's the money quote Douglas provided:
The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment. Yet the Obama budget is predicated on a class divide. The president issued a read-my-lips pledge that no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people. All the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward.
So I guess that's it.  With a moderate conservative like Brooks against me, I must be wrong.  This debate is over.

The Great and Powerful Brooks

And sure, it could be pointed out that Brooks is merely reciting the same tired assumption that I had already exposed as fraudulent from the start.  Or it could be argued that folks who make less than $250k also pay federal taxes, which would obviously mean that Brooks was wrong when he suggested that "all the costs will be borne by the rich."  And it could also be argued that the rich also benefit greatly from the budget, which would refute the idea that "all benefits are redistributed downward."  And maybe I could point out that Brooks already believes that the rich should pay more than the poor, which would mean that either he's engaging in class warfare or he's wrong for suggesting such tax theories are class warfare.  

And it could even be argued that this is the exact tax plan Obama used as a key platform during an election that he handily won; which would suggest that people agree with it.  Or in fact, it could be pointed out that Obama is doing exactly what he said he'd do, involving policies that Brooks says he supports; and that Brooks never explains specifically what Obama is doing wrong, but instead relies upon meaningless accusations of "unchecked liberalism."  And without further explanation, it could be argued that Brooks is a total sap whose attack on Obama consists of little more than the need to attack Obama.

But what'd be the point?  It's obvious I've lost.  Not because Donald refuted my point.  But merely because he was able to quote yet another conservative who was making the same stupid assumption he was making, and that conservative was David Brooks.  As Douglas points out, Brooks isn't a far-rightie like Rush Limbaugh, but rather is a moderate "intellectual" conservative.  So there's no possible way I could claim this is "wingnuttery."  And gee, I was planning to pin my whole argument on this exact ad hominem attack.

So I guess this is it.  I lost the debate.  Merely because he can quote David Brooks making the same empty assertion that every other conservative relies upon, and which I had been attacking.  And there's just no way I can possibly argue against such a heavyweight moderate like David Brooks.  If only David Brooks was a liberal, we might finally win an argument.

UPDATE: I was just informed by a very reliable source that David Brooks is not, in fact, God; and therefore his assertions are not superior to anyone else's.  And that means that, rather than irreparably refuting my point, Donald Douglas has yet again helped establish my initial premise that conservatives don't even understand what class warfare is.  

Perhaps if he'd bother explaining his point rather than asserting that it is too self-evident to explain, he might score a point.  Or if he'd even address any point I actually made, rather than relying entirely on an argument I had already destroyed.  But until then, my argument stands and I win.

Honestly, I keep waiting for Douglas to make some valid point, as I'd like to take this debate out of neutral and really put my brains to the test.  But it appears the best he can do is perform victory laps from the sidelines; never having touched my argument.  How disappointing.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Regarding My Inadvertent Comments on Rush Limbaugh

I just wanted to take a moment to mention that a few readers have misconstrued my recent comments regarding Rush Limbaugh as being some sort of criticism of the work Rush has been doing.  And nothing could be further from the truth.  So I just wanted to set the record straight on a few of these so-called "criticisms" in order to clear the air.

When I referred to Rush Limbaugh as "a drug-addled sex tourist with an appetite for third-world jailbait equaled only by his gluttonous eating habits," I was merely stating a common smear often spewed by leftwing vermin and other undeserving creatures who hate America and want us to fail.  And my statement referencing Limbaugh's "coward-based fascism which has thoughtlessly wasted the lives of thousands of Americans, for no other purpose than to satisfy Limbaugh's ego-driven bloodlust" was simply a way of playing devil's advocate and by no means represented any actual thoughts I've ever had regarding Rush Limbaugh or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

And finally, when I wrote that Limbaugh was a "blindingly blubberous blowhard whose only concern is to line his own pockets by throwing incendiary and ugly remarks to his braindead listeners at the expense of America's future," well, I just, I don't know.  I don't know where that came from.  Those words were certainly not what was going through my head at the time.  In fact, while I was writing that, I distinctly recall thinking about what a wonderful guy Rush is and how even his farts smell like rainbows.  And I have no idea why that's not what came out and am just as perplexed as you guys are.  Yes, I wrote it, but, you know, these things happen.  And I'm very, very, very, very, very, very sorry and can assure all of you that it will never ever never ever never never happen again.

Oh, and did I mention that Rush has a really big wang?  It's true.  Really manly piece of meat he's got there.  Not that I've seen it, mind you.  Because that would be gay.  But you can just tell from his demeanor that he's packing some real heat in those Sansabelt slacks of his.  And you can tell that all the ladies want a piece of him.  I almost feel like a lady myself just thinking about it.  Not that I'm gay or anything.  That's just how much of a pure man Rush is, that even straight men want to have sex with him.  Am I gushing?  I think I'm gushing.  And my childhood stutter is coming back.  I'll just shutup now and wait to see what awesome thing Rush tells me to do next.  Whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be great!

Rush Limbaugh as Party Elder

In regards to the powerstruggle between Republican politicians and Rush Limbaugh, which Limbaugh is clearly winning; I'd just like mention that I totally predicted this two weeks ago.  Not only that, but I stated why it behooved Republicans to ignore Limbaugh and pretend to work with Obama, and how Limbaugh wasn't acting in their best interests.

The post was The Opposition Party Myth, and here are a few key passages:
As Carpetbagger points out, Arlon Specter says that many of his colleagues wanted to join him, but realized that doing so would make their Republican primaries hard to win. And so they went against their better judgment because Limbaugh gave them no other choice.

Of course, the solution to that would have been for these politicians to stop lying about the stimulus and explain that it's a good idea. Which, as I already mentioned, everyone already agrees with. But that'd require them to face-off against Limbaugh and the other talkers, who clearly are more influential with the base. So Limbaugh is essentially holding the Republican Party hostage, solely for the benefit of his ratings.

For as much as Congressional Republicans are in a power struggle, it's entirely against Limbaugh and his ilk; and they're clearly losing. And because of that, Congressional Repubs have forfeited the power struggle against Obama.
I also went on to explain that over-emphasis on partisan politics was anti-democratic, as the whole purpose of democracy is to give voice to the people; before saying:
But Limbaugh doesn't want that to happen. He doesn't want his fans to think Obama is listening to them. He wants them to feel powerless against Obama and that Limbaugh is the only outlet of power they have. And that means he has to make Republican politicians powerless. He doesn't want them making the stimulus bill better, or any other Democratic bill better. He wants them to abstain completely. If they're not working to make the bills better, they might as well not even be in Congress.

So effectively, the people these congressmen represent don't have representatives in Congress. No one is sticking up for them but Limbaugh. Limbaugh is the only voice they have. They have been effectively disenfranchised. And that's the way the Limbaughs want it. Republicans aren't functioning as an opposition party. They're a non-existent party, which doesn't function at all.
And that's exactly what we're getting now.  Limbaugh wants to be the only voice for these people, which is why he's threatening to hurt the party if they don't go along with him.  This isn't about ideological purity anymore.  This is about Limbaugh being a power-hungry idiot.

Limbaugh Blows His Schtick

And he is an idiot for doing this.  His whole schtick was that he was "The Voice of America."  He wasn't supposed to be a party hack.  He was supposed to be a patriotic purist who used the Republican Party to advance the cause of America.  Sure, that was a complete load of bullshit, but that was his gimmick.  Similarly, Bill O'Reilly is an "Independent" and Fox News is "Fair and Balance."  Yeah, we all knew that was a load of bull, but the rubes needed to believe it.  

Their supporters honestly see Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Fox as telling them the unvarnished truth and are incredulous when we suggest that they're partisan hacks.  Sure, they realize there's a conservative slant, but they're conservatives so they think that's alright.  Plus, it makes up for the liberal slant they imagine they're getting elsewhere.  I'm sure they assume it's just about framing things in certain ways and don't realize they're being straight-up lied to.

And they certainly don't realize they're being fed Republican talking points.  So for Limbaugh to openly make the Republican Party his bitch just takes things too far.  He always was a party hack, but now that it's become his party, the whole charade ends.  Before, there was a sort of plausible deniability between the two.  He wasn't responsible for their compromises and corruption, and they weren't responsible for his offensive idiocies.  

But now, that's all gone.  With even the head of the party publicly bowing before Rush's alter, they've given up all pretenses of a separation.  Now they're responsible for one another's actions and are a big liability to each other.  I honestly thought Steele might have been playing some scripted game when he criticized Limbaugh, in an effort to return to the fictional separation they always had.  But now, all they've done is sealed it irreparably.  And we have Limbaugh's ego to thank for it.

Upper-Class Idiots

Media Matters and TNR have posts on the ABC story about idiotic rich people who plan to reduce their business profits below the $250k threshold, so as to avoid a slightly higher tax rate.  And that corresponds with these idiots that TBogg cites from Malkin's website, who insist they too will be cutting income to deal with this.  Apparently, the top 2% of earners have nothing better to do than congregate at rightwing websites and bitch about how little work they'll do once Obama repeals Bush's tax cuts.  With workers like these, it's no wonder we're in a recession.

And as MM and TNR point out, these people are idiots.  The only part of income subject to the higher rate is the amount over the $250k threshold; not the entire amount.  So the difference between taxes on $249k and $255k is very slim.  They'll pay the same amount for the portion under $249k, and the $6k over that will have a slightly higher rate; which my back of the envelope figure says couldn't be more than $300, and that's a generously high figure.  And this, we're told, is the government taking "all their money."  

So these people are talking about cutting $6000 in income to avoid less than $300 in extra taxes than what they're paying right now, and we're supposed to imagine they're clever businesspeople who actually know what they're talking about.  Dumb.

Here's some painful stupid:
Anonymous Lawyer
"We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00.  We have to find a way out where we can make just what we need to just under the line so we can benefit from Obama's tax plan.  Why kill yourself working if you're going to give it all away to people who aren't working as hard?  This means I'll have to tell some of my clients we can't help them and being more selective in general about who we help.  I hate to do it."
Dr. Poczatek - A Dentist
"I've put thought into how to get under $250,000.  It would mean working fewer days which means having fewer employees, seeing fewer patients and taking time off.  Generally it means being less productive.  The motivation for a lot of people like me – dentists, entrepreneurs, lawyers – is that the more you work the more money you make.  But if I'm going to be working just to give it back to the government -- it's de-motivating and demoralizing."
Or hey, I've got another solution: Hire MORE employees.  Upgrade your equipment and computers.  Or better yet, hire a fucking accountant who can explain all this to you.  Because none of this is based upon any business sense.  These are just morons who listen to talk radio spew garbage about how Obama's socialist policies are destroying the greed motive.  

So even if they were right about needing to get under $250k, and they're not, then it would make more sense to invest it in their business, rather than cut back on services.  They could use this as an opportunity to expand their businesses, but instead imagine that they'll need to cut back.  And all based on lies they were fed.

Conservative Class Warfare

And let's not forget, the group of people the lawyer said "Aren't working so hard" includes you and me and her employees and probably some of her clients.  Essentially, she's attacking everyone who doesn't make as much money as she does and uses that as an excuse for making less money.  And they dare accuse us of class warfare.

And I myself have debated briefly with some dude claiming that he was already cutting back on clients to avoid losing all his hard-earned money, and insisted he'd have to fire lots of employees.  I explained to him how firing employees would make his profits go UP and that hiring more employees would give him the lower profits he desired.  But he absolutely refused to understand that logic and insisted that I didn't understand how his business worked.  And based upon the jumbled explanation he gave for his supposed business, I'd say he didn't understand it either.

And again, the biggest outrage for him wasn't just that he'd be paying more, but the bitter realization that lazy people who earned less would benefit more than he would.  Honestly, these people are accusing people who make $100k of being "lazy" and undeserving of money.  As if they'd be perfectly happy paying more taxes, if only it wasn't going to lazy people.  And again, this is class warfare.  Rightwing talkers are stoking moral outrage at 98% of the country, demonizing them as lazy and undeserving.  By contrast, all Obama is doing is repealing some of Bush's tax cuts.

Even the ABC article quoted a dude saying Obama's plan pitted the rich against the poor, as if someone making $50k a year is poor.  And that's just how skewed the debate has become.  The media is so intent at finding class warfare that even full-time professionals are akin to welfare queens.  But while the media believes it, most Americans surely have a better concept of their place in society.  Oddly, I suspect that a large majority of those outraged at lazy folks taking their money actually fit into the lazy category they deride.

Implied Obama Support

And it's interesting that so many of these people need to believe absurdist lies in order to oppose Obama's plans.  It's all about how he's stealing all your hardwork and destroying small businesses, and insist that Obama's tax plans will go far deeper than he says they will.  Similarly, their opposition to Obama during the election were lies about him being a Muslim extremist and worries about his associations with terrorists and socialists.

And what's sad is that, it seems fairly obviously that these people don't actually oppose Obama.  Not the real Obama, anyway.  I'm sure that if they could set their partisan fears aside, they'd agree that his tax proposal isn't bad.  And it's quite obvious that Republican politicians understand the stimulating effects of government spending.  And if the reason they fear Obama is because they think he's some radical extremist, then they don't fear the real Obama.

And so by relying upon bogus rhetoric to oppose an invented Obama, it's obvious that they implicitly support the real Obama.  Because he HASN'T proposed any plan to take all their money.  He's NOT going to take all their guns or books away.  He's got them all hysterical because he's repealing Bush's tax cuts for those making over $250k.  And so by getting hysterical over obviously bogus rhetoric, he's making them all look like fools, which only makes our job easier.  For as much as Republicans require outrage to stoke their hatred of evil liberals, it just turns off everyone else.

And that's the odd thing about Obama's strategy: For as radical as the far-righties imagine it is, all he's doing is going back to some of the old ways of doing things, before the radical righties screwed everything up. And their only response to this is to rant about how this isn't what's happening.  Not because they have any evidence that Obama's a radical, but merely because their opposition to him makes no sense if he wasn't one.  And because he's not one, their opposition doesn't make any sense.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Reagan Myth

Carpetbagger's got a post about how Limbaugh thinks Republicans are making a mistake by trying to find new policy ideas, and how they'd be better off if they just repeated Reagan's success; because as we all know, there's no better way to move into the future than using thirty year old ideas. But in a sense, they are following in Reagan's footsteps. Just as Reagan appealed to a 1950's American ideal that never existed, modern Republicans are appealing to a Reagan that never existed.

For as much as conservatives imagine Reagan to be some perfect ideal of the popular conservative, the reality is that Reagan is a huge curse for Republicans; primarily because they've created such a cartoonish myth around the guy that never approached reality. By taking their most popular leader and instilling him posthumously with a hardcore conservativism that he never had, they essentially have created an unattainable goal which continues to lead them astray.

Republicans now seriously believe that Reagan was a small government tax-cutter with balls of steel who defeated America's enemies with unwavering strength. So they naturally assume they just need to find the right guy who can embody the principles of Reagan and be their knight in shining armor. And sure, that's even the ideal that Reagan was purported to be at the time. But one can only believe that if you ignore what actually happened.

Because Reagan wasn't that guy. He raised taxes, had huge deficits, negotiated with terrorists and communists, cut-and-ran from terror attacks, supported evil dictators, and perhaps worst of all, worked with Democrats to pass legislation. And while he had neo-cons working for him, they weren't the powerplayers they became under Reagan-wannabe Bush. And he often adopted pragmatic foreign policies that they found deplorable; like using diplomacy.

And while they've always admired him, it was really only after he died that he became this bigger-than-life conservative caricature that they hold up as their ideal. But had Reagan been the hardcore conservative neo-con they pretend he was, he'd never have been as popular as he was, or as successful. By using him as the ideal leader, they've created a false god that will continually mislead them. They've taped the needle on their ideological compass to always point to "R" and have convinced themselves that faith and propaganda will carry them through to the promised land of their forefathers.

And for as much as they imagine that using an idealized Reagan will help keep them pure and righteous, it only takes them further down the path to Crazytown. They created him in their own self-image and will wait in vain for his second coming.

Again with the Class Warfare

Conservative blogger Donald Douglas has just posted yet another "rebuttal" in our impromptu debate on class warfare and let me tell you, this is really getting sad. I'm sure there's some maxim about how you can tell who's losing the debate based upon who's being the most inflammatory; and that's certainly apt in our debate. Here's Donald's rousing conclusion:
That shouldn't be surprising in Dr. Hussein's case. The man's truly a deviant liar and a despicable partisan malcontent. Excoriating conservatives and Republicans as the scum of the earth makes his world go 'round, and if he has to lie, cheat, steal, and distort to advocate his program of godless postmodern nihilism, that's what he'll do.

As always, don't listen to a word of it. These people have no virtue whatsoever.
Yes, I'm the "Dr. Hussein" he's referring to and no, I have no idea what brought this on. Sure, at the American Nihilist blog, this is the sort of thing I'd say as a complement of myself. But here in the real world, this is just pathetic. I am godless, so he's got me there. But the rest of that sounds like straight-up parody. But honestly, I've yet to meet the conservative who didn't sound like parody.

An ASS of U and ME

But that's really the best Donald's got to offer. The rest of his post essentially consists of him insisting that because it's often assumed that Democrats engage in class warfare, therefore Obama's specific tax plan must be class warfare. And in order to justify this, he cites Isaac Asimov's definition of the word "assumption" to demonstrate that I must accept Donald's assumption as being true.

Yes, it's gotten down to semantic games based on the word "assumption" which, by the way, was never even used in my original post. And first off, Donald's premise isn't an assumption which he can rely upon, because it's the specific topic we're debating. It'd be like if someone tried arguing that the world is flat based upon the assumption that the world is flat. Sorry Donald, but you don't get to use your conclusion as your assumption.

And secondly, while his citation says assumptions shouldn't be considered "true or false," it goes on to say "It is better to consider assumptions as either useful or useless, depending on whether deductions made from them corresponded to reality..."

In other words, Donald's assumption might be useless if it doesn't correspond to reality. And that's exactly the point I was making from the start; that this "assumption" doesn't correspond to reality. But even worse for Donald was the part he failed to include, which went on to say:
"On the other hand, it seems obvious that assumptions are the weak points in any argument, as they have to be accepted on faith in a philosophy of science that prides itself on its rationalism. Since we must start somewhere, we must have assumptions, but at least let us have as few assumptions as possible."
Yet, not only is Donald's argument based upon an assumption, it's the entire argument! All he HAS is the assumption. Because this "assumption" is all we're discussing. Of course, that citation was referring to scientific theories and assumptions, but as long as Donald is relying upon this source, it's important to note how badly it undermines him. Not that it was really applicable in the first place.

And the best he can do to bolster his case is to cite more examples of this assumption; as if conventional wisdom can create reality. Somehow, this gets less convincing every time he does that. People assume things to be true all the time, but that doesn't make them true. And for him to suggest that common assumptions are always true based upon their assumed nature, then he's clearly a bigger nihilist than I.

(Disclaimer: That is not a proper usage of the word "nihilist," no matter how often I mock Donald for using it.)

Obama's Warfare

But even if historical class warfare by Democrats was somehow established fact, and it's not, that still doesn't establish how Obama's specific tax plan is class warfare. What would that argument be? Is Donald suggesting that any tax plan a Democrat makes is class warfare? No, because he cites Clinton as someone who rejected class warfare. Is it that anyone who thinks the rich should pay more than the poor is a class warrior? No, because everyone thinks the rich should pay more than the poor; including Donald himself.

So what is the specific basis that Donald can make to show that Obama's engaging in class warfare? Nothing. He assumes it to be true because he must assume it to be true. Because otherwise, he has no argument and ends up proving my initial point: That this "assumption" is false and/or useless. And again, if Donald wants to admit that he can't defend the basis of his assumption, that's fine. It just means he loses and shouldn't have tried to rebut my argument. Because this was my initial point: That conservatives couldn't defend this premise, and sure enough, Donald seems incapable of doing so.

But conservatives do this all the time. Their ideology makes no sense in reality. And for as much as they rely on assumptions to make their arguments, these assumptions rarely correspond with reality and are therefore useless. You either have to blindly accept the assumptions they give you or it'll never make sense. And that's the reason conservatives don't understand us: Because their assumptions are so ingrained into their thinking that they don't even realize they're making them.

And so poor Donald can only imagine I'm some freaky postmodern denialist, simply because I refuse to accept assumptions that have no basis in reality. To even question these assumptions is to be a lying, cheating, stealing distorter. And that's because the entire conservative ideology is built upon a heap of unexplainable fiction. They believe these things to be true. They just can't explain why they think that.