Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sticks, Stones, and Conservative Insults

Until recently, I was scared of words.  Specifically, insults frightened me.  And when patriotic conservatives bravely confront my openly anti-American nihilism by calling me "the enemy" and a "brain dead libtard," I pee myself a little.  Yeah, I'm self-loathing enough to admit to that publicly.  But then I did some research online and discovered that, to my great relief, my bones can only be broken by "sticks and stones," and that the words I feared so much could "never hurt me."  And yeah, whew!  I feel a lot safer now.

And that's just a joke, of course, because I've never been "scared" of insults, but rather find them to be quite humorous.  A properly placed insult can actually take the heat off of a tough debate and make things a bit more lighthearted.  Thus said, many conservatives actually use them as substitutes for debate, and this is when they become a problem.  But I find their misuse of insults to also be funny, particular when they combine it with whines about how mean us "libtards" have been to them.  Wah!

And recently, I wrote about a Mark Harvey, a conservative who made a pseudo-threat against Obama, Sotomayor, Congressional Democrats, and half the GOP; saying that he wanted to make "damn sure" that they were "scared to death" of him, because they're the enemies, similar to the enemies he killed in Iraq.  And I thought my point was clear: The implied threat was too much and he needed to tone things down.  But I assumed good faith on his part, and refrained from insulting him or suggesting that he was a crazy who was going to assassinate Obama.

But as usual, this good-faith effort was not rewarded in kind.  Rather, he completely smeared me as "the poor troglodyte at brain dead in person."  And wow, I'm not even sure what that means.  And somehow, he thought I was offended because he labeled me "the enemy," rather than because his comment was an implied assassination threat.  And that's the extent of his rant against me: It's just a series of insults which insist that I'm scared of him.  And just to keep you in on part of the joke: I'm a big enough guy that I never get threatened in person.  And if he tried this shit in person, I'd laugh at him just as much as I'm laughing at him now.

And the funniest part is that he seems to believe that liberals are winning because we insult them more.  And by insulting us, we're now "scared" and need to "get used to it and keep looking over your shoulders."  But I'm not scared of this bozo's words.  Who would be?  He can call me a braindead liberal all he wants, as long as he keeps the assassination threats to a minimum.  And of course, I didn't insult him.  Yet, he keeps insisting that he's just returning fire while venomously insulting me for being scared of his insults.  How weird.

BTW: He never backed down from his implied assassination threat or suggest I was wrong.  I had expected him to insist that I had smeared him by reading his comment as a threat, but no.  He ignored the point completely and insisted that I was scared of his insults.  Again, weird.

Timothy McVeigh as Jihadist

And one other point: My post referenced Dave's aggressive attitude as to being similar to why Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building.  But of course, this dude dismisses this by saying that "the Oklahoma City bombing was a Jihadi operation" and that "McVeigh was the scapegoat and was a tool of the Leftinistra to cover up the Act Of War upon this Nation."  

But of course, McVeigh confessed to the bombing, going as far as to explain why he did it, bragging about how after his execution, the score would be 168 to 1, and that his only regret was that he couldn't have killed more people.  And sorry, Dave, but you're saying much of the same stuff McVeigh said before he was executed.  You're not the only one who sees us as "the enemy," and linking McVeigh to your side is entirely appropriate.  We didn't do that.  He did.  He was one of you; conspiracy theories notwithstanding.  

But to bolster his claim, he cites an irrefutable source: Another post he wrote on the bombing.  Wow, I'll never be able to dispute that.  And in that one, he went ahead with the standard conservative line that Clinton "did nothing" after the first WTC bombing.  And as I pointed out to him, we convicted four of the bombers the year after the attack, and two more in 1997; including the mastermind, who is serving a life sentence in Supermax at Colorado.  

How do they not know this stuff?  But of course, he imagines that I'm the "numbskull" that he's educating; simply because I don't believe in conspiracy theories that completely defy known reality.  The ignorance is as scary as it is amazing.  But as long as I keep reminding myself that words can never hurt me, I'll feel a lot safer.

Why Conservatives Don't Want to Know More About Sotomayor

Damn, I'm posting a lot lately. But while researching that last post, I happened to stumble upon a post by PJ Media that asserted that Sotomayor is "an anti-gun radical who will affirm full-on gun prohibitions and believes that you have no right to own a firearm, even for the most basic right of defending your family in your own home." And I thought that seemed like a fairly bold statement, but hey, it had a link, so I had to click through.

And that led me to this court decision, in which Sotomayor ruled that states have the right to ban weapons. And I found the thing absolutely hilarious, due to the cognitive dissonance it must cause any conservative who reads it. It's about an illegal alien crack dealer named Jose Sanchez-Villar who was arrested after police saw that he had an illegal gun, which gave them probable cause to bust him and find the drugs. He was trying to have his conviction thrown out on a technicality, because his lawyer was incompetent and didn't try to dispute the warrantless search.

And come on, it's got to be awfully tough for any conservative to side against Sotomayor on this one. Sure, she ruled against the 2nd Amendment's applicability to state laws, but...she helped keep a crack dealing illegal alien in jail after he tried to get out on a technicality. A guy that wouldn't even have been caught, had it not been for the gun laws that gave them probable cause to bust him. So if conservatives had their way, Mr. Sanchez-Villar would still be on the streets, selling crack; rather than serving his twenty year sentence...after which, he'll be deported.

And does it need to be pointed out that Sotomayor supported the police on this one, rather than the illegal with the Hispanic name? I guess this is conclusive proof of her pro-cop bigotry, huh?

Sotomayor's Bigoted Statistics

Via Donald "Arlon" Douglas, I found Sotomayor's Damned Statistics at Legal Insurrection, which purports to discredit the research by Tom Goldstein at SCOTUS Blog that showed that Sonia Sotomayor denied discrimination claims far more than she supported them. And William Jacobson at Insurrection begins his post with the cliche "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics," which excludes the fourth thing: People who trot out that tired cliche whenever they see statistics they don't like.

And sure enough, that's what Jacobson's up to. Because for as much as he'd like us to believe that Goldstein's stats are worse than damned lies, he fails entirely to do so. Because first off, he doesn't even seriously attempt to undermine them. Rather, the strongest attack he can muster is that they're "part of the evidence, but not conclusive." And well, duh. Nobody said they're "conclusive" and at best, Jacobson quotes people who said that Goldstein's analysis was "the best evidence" and "convincing evidence." But to my knowledge, neither of those phrases means "conclusive."

And that's as far as he went towards actually debunking Goldstein's supposed lies, which Jacobson also labeled as "meaningless" and "emptiness;" which I can only guess was simply more hyperbole to pretend as if his takedown was somehow stronger than it really was.

Alito and Sotomayor: Secret Activists

But even worse, the actual bit that Jacobson spends all his time contesting is simply wrong. He points to an analysis of Samuel Alito's decisions on individual rights, which showed that Alito decided against individuals 84% of the time. And he cites a quote from Ted Kennedy who suggested that this demonstrates that "average Americans have had a hard time getting a fair shake in his courtroom."

And I agree with Jacobson's logic here. He says that, unless we look into the details of these cases, we can't really know why he ruled against the individual. Perhaps it's because he hates individuals, or perhaps he was following the law; we can't really say based on these statistics. But...we can determine one thing: Alito didn't ignore the law to favor individuals. And unfortunately, Jacobson seems oblivious to this. The statistics weren't meaningless, they just didn't necessarily mean what Kennedy suggested they meant.

And in order to demonstrate that Kennedy's interpretation was faulty, he pointed out that Sotomayor's stats don't demonstrate that her dismissal of discrimination claims was evidence that she was hostile to minorities. And again, I agree with this. But as with before, the numbers do point to one thing: She didn't ignore the law to favor minorities. And seeing as how conservatives continue to attack Sotomayor as a judicial activist bigot who favors minorities, these statistics are entirely germane to the discussion.

While the statistics don't tell us why Alito ruled against individual rights or why Sotomayor ruled against minority rights, they clearly demonstrate that neither of them were activists who ignored the law in favor of these rights. Somehow, Jacobson entirely missed this point, even though it was sitting right in front of him.

And so not only did Jacobson fail to attack an actual person's argument, he couldn't even defeat the strawman argument he created. And instead of Jacobson taking apart Goldstein's post, as "Arlon" Douglas suggested he had, his comparison with Alito's statisics only help us better understand the usefulness of these statistics.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Charade of Liberal Bigotry

I suppose the main reason I like conservatives so much is because I'm an absurdist.  I love the absurd.  It's what I live for, as evidenced by my ridiculous name.  While I decided long ago that I'd probably do better if I wasn't "Doctor Biobrain," it's my thing and I'm sticking with it.  And while there is an underlying seriousness to most of what I write, I just think life is far too sucky for us to not have a little fun with the absurdity of it all.  It's not enough to compensate for all the suffering in the world, but it helps.

And conservatives are about as absurd as you can get while still being alive.  I mean it.  These guys are complete jokers and the more we laugh at them, the more they imagine they must be scoring some serious points; which just makes us laugh more.  And one of the most absurd things I've ever seen is them trying to spin liberals as racists.  That's just so ridiculous that I'm finding myself pushing some real boundaries with my nihilist posts on the subject.  But I just can't help it.  The absurd is my oyster.

And really, one of the more absurdist aspects of it is how transparently juvenile the whole thing is.  For as much as they really want people to believe that liberals are bigots, it's entirely obvious that they're just throwing the label at us as a political ruse.  It's just part of the game, which they pretend is serious, while winking at each other; completely unaware that we're watching them wink and laughing at them for imagining they're being clever

The Left Attacks

And so I'm reading Donald Douglas chastising a fellow conservative because that conservative had the audacity to suggest that conservatives stop acting so ridiculous.  And he writes:
I only disagree to the extent that I don't think hammering Sotomayor on her race-consciousness is "over the top." So what, don't call her a racist? Fine, we can then just sit back and oppose her on ideas while THE LEFT ATTACKS US as racist. Yep, that ought to work! That's what it's all about nowadays, you know?. Racist this, racist that ... pretty soon we're all racists!
And thusly, he just gave the game away and exposes himself as a fake.  Because his argument essentially amounts to "We need to call them racists because otherwise, they'll keep calling us racists."  And no, this makes no sense to me.  I fail to see how this inoculates them against being called racists, particularly not when they seem to be making such a big deal about attacking Sotomayor on the basis of her race and gender.

And frankly, I can't even understand the logic here.  Because calling her a racist isn't helping.  It's making them all look like deranged loons.  And if they wanted to stop her, they need to "sit back" (whatever that means) and "oppose her on ideas."  But no, Donald's sick of being called a racist, so he insists upon flinging the poop right back on us.  And he doesn't care if the charges of racism might be true.  All he cares about is winning a battle, which he is delusional enough to believe can be won by acting ridiculous.  

Racist is as Racist Does

Oh, and Donald, if you're reading this, a piece of advice: If you don't want to be called a racist, perhaps you shouldn't be acting like a racist.  And that would entail, I don't know, maybe not talking about her race all the damn time.  

And sure, I know you're arguing that Obama and Sotomayor talked about it first, but so what?  The point is that you keep attacking her for being a "Latina bigot" and that just won't go over well for you.  Similarly, I doubt you'd have a problem with me referring to you as being "white," though you'd probably be offended if I called you a "white bigot."  People are just funny that way, I guess.  Reference their race, no problem.  Reference their race and insult them, they think you're being racist.  And whether or not you were going to be called racist for opposing her judicial opinions (a doubtful proposition), I can guarantee you that you'll be called a racist when you keep referencing her race with personal attacks. 

And again, this is why I enjoy reading conservatives so much: They're absolutely absurd and I love them for it.  Hell, I normally don't even read Donald's blog as it's all so mundane with over reliance on cut-and-paste, but to see him plunge deeper and deeper into Loontown over Sotomayor really does warm my absurdist heart.  Now if only I could get rid of my nagging paranoia that tells me he's going to gun me down someday for all the crap I give him.  Oh well, even nihilists like me have to have their pessimism.

The Strategy Cried Wolf

At Donald Douglas' blog, I got smeared by a commenter who suggested that I would have called John Roberts "controversial" because he was confirmed 78-22.  And I thought this was terribly unfair, as I'm totally not that guy.  I'm not the sort of person to split hairs and look for some excuse to make an attack.  My targets are good targets.  

But moreover, far from declaring Roberts "controversial," I seemed to recall that I thought he'd be confirmed with ease.  Not because I thought he was moderate or mainstream, but merely because I thought he was far too intelligent to ever be pinned down for being particular conservative or controversial.  And so I looked back at my blog, to see what I wrote about Roberts at the time, and came up with this nugget:
Overall, I think our best bet in all this is to not threaten the filibuster at all, or even suggest a strong opposition. Instead, we need to claim him to be respectably moderate, especially in regards to Roe; while stalling his nomination in the hopes that the far-right will learn to detest him. A quickie nomination can't do that, but if he says enough things to calm liberals and moderates, he should burn enough bridges with Bush's base. But if we scream filibuster on this one, it'll burn the bridges for future attempts. We'll be like the party who cries "wolf", and it will reduce our ability to use it when we really need it.
And what's funny is that this is the exact sort of strategy Republicans should have gone with.  They should have checked her record, seen that it wasn't particularly radical, and then declared that she was a good moderate that would be welcome to the court; all the while, stalling long enough for the liberal shitstorm to develop.  And I can guarantee you, quite a few libs would have gotten damn suspicious if Limbaugh and Gingrich had welcomed her as a moderate they could accept.  Not that this would stop her, but they're not going to stop her anyway.  So they might at least try to get set-up for the next play.

But no.  They're screaming bloody murder and are tripping over themselves to see who can throw the most outrageous attacks at her.  It's just a few days in, and she's already a bigot who menstruates.  They should be bringing out the big guns next week; possibly going as far as accusing her of (gasp!) socialism.  And the Whitehouse has got to love this.  Seriously, they get two birds with one stone.  They get to defend an Hispanic woman while having the liberal base rally around them, while their opponents look like shrieking turds going apeshit with bigotry.

And it's been like this all year.  No strategy at all.  They're just attacking anything set in front of them.  And while it'd be nice if the media weren't so stupid that they make Republican attacks look slightly less crazy, it still doesn't do much to help.  And the longer they shriek, the less effective their shrieks will be the next time Obama nominates someone.  They're destroying the Republican brand further with every attack.  Obama couldn't have planned this better if he tried.

Compassionate Hackery: Redux

Back in the day, I did a takedown of a book by conservative author Arthur Brooks, who imagined his research proved that conservatives were more compassionate than liberals. But upon reflection, that post was much too long and meandering, so I'm reposting the meat of it here. Enjoy!

The book was Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, which had been thrown at me as conclusive proof that conservatives were more compassionate than liberals. And in it, Brooks set out to prove that "the common stereotype that conservatives are less compassionate than liberals" was incorrect, by studying charitable donations of time and money.

And the idea was that he was going to show that because conservatives give more to charity, this implicitly proves that they're more compassionate. And while that point is easily debatable, as its based upon a child-like understanding of compassion, let's see what he found.

News Flash: Conservative Researcher Proves Own Premise

And lo and behold, Brooks did the research and it turned out that liberals really were more compassionate than conservatives and the stereotypes were correct. Ha ha, just joking. Naturally, his premise was ultimately confirmed; even if it required him to ignore reality to do so. Because as it turns out, the real distinction he found in charitable giving was between religious and non-religious people; regardless of ideology.

And that's largely because religious people give more to their church. Case closed. That explains almost everything. Religious people on the right and left gave far more than non-religious of either side gave. Moreover, for the year Brooks cited, religious people on average gave $2210 to charity, as opposed to non-religious people, who only gave $642. But...when religious giving is excluded, religious people only gave $88 more on average than non-religious people. That's right, he wrote an entire book on the premise of charitable giving, based upon an $88 difference.

But worst of all, the group that gave the least to charity were non-religious conservatives! And that completely undermines Brooks' case in its entirety! That's it. Game over, dude. Brooks loses. This wasn't a right-left disparity. This was about religion, and if you remove religion from the picture, Brooks' argument vanishes. Secular liberals gave more than secular conservatives. Case closed. And honestly, did anyone ever doubt that religious conservatives gave lots of dough to their church? I don't think so.

Data Problems

Beyond that, there were obvious flaws in his methodology, which certainly undermines the conclusiveness that Brooks' imagined he had.

Because first off, much of the underlying research was done by surveys, which are notoriously unreliable. Particularly when you're asking someone how much they give to charity. And according to this liberal blogger, the underlying data actually says the opposite of Brooks' message, and claims that Brooks says he "adjusted" the numbers to correct for things like age and income. And so it's quite possible that Brooks just pulled this stuff out of his rear.

Conversely, he cited state-by-state numbers to show that Red States gave more than Blue States as a percentage of wealth, but failed to adjust for Cost of Living. He was basing this on total income, not discretionary income. So an NY resident who makes $100k and pays $25k in rent and $10k in donations looks more stingy than a GA resident who makes $85k and pays $10k in rent and $9k in donations; even though the NY guy paid more with the same amount of discretionary income. Any normal person would find an obvious flaw in this logic.

And if you adjust for Cost of Living, eight out of the top ten states were blue, not red; the opposite of Brooks' claim. When confronted with this, Brooks dismisses it saying "there are lots of ways to look at geography and giving, and the question is far from settled." Yes, there's the way that makes sense, and then there's Brooks' way, which was the only way his argument could work. This is the problem when you start with your answer and work your way backwards.

Missing the Forest for the Trees

And the final nail in the coffin (as if one was needed), Brooks was using charitable giving as proof of "compassion." Yet, his definition of charity is anything the IRS considers charity; which includes universities, museums, hospitals, civic groups, public radio, etc. And while those are good causes, they're not necessarily about compassion. I like museums and public radio, but I fail to see how they involve helping people in need; and that's what compassion is all about.

And even worse, Brooks purposefully excluded government spending in his analysis, because it's not voluntary. And is compassionate. When I demand that Congress finance free lunches and Medicaid. That's compassion. And when conservatives insist that taxes are theft and that unemployment benefits are "handouts" which undermine personal freedom, that's uncompassionate. And the amount the government gives to help the poor far exceeds the paltry charity that people give voluntarily. It's not even close.

And this isn't a side issue that can be ignored. That's the whole point of these programs: People would suffer without them. And that's the bottom line. That's what it's all about. Liberals are "compassionate" because we want to take care of people in need. And conservatives are jerkoffs because they don't give a damn about these people (or as Brooks once put it, "conservatives are optimists" who "believe the American economy provides private opportunities to succeed.")

And so Brooks screws around with numbers, hides the truth about what they show, and then completely ignores the liberal side of the discussion, which focuses on using the tools of government to be compassionate. And yet, Arthur Brooks wrote a book that probably made him a decent amount of money; while I still blog for free. Life's a bitch.

Enemy Identified

This is the reason I would prefer that liberals and/or Democrats took things a little more carefully and avoided any more talk of "steamrolling" Republicans. From a comment an Iraq War vet left at Donald Douglas' blog:

When I had Haji in my sights, it was POP POP. NEXT! I didn't run up to them, get on my knees and offer them my WileyX glasses as a peace offering so they wouldn't talk bad about me.

I could care less what the enemy thinks of me. I want my enemies SCARED TO DEATH of me and I made DAMN sure they were. I don't want to go along to get along with anyone.

Thanks for sharing.

Sonia Sotomayor IS the enemy.

Barack Hussein IS the enemy.

Tye DCN and half the GOP IS the enemy.


Sonia is a racist. Enemy identified.

Sonia is a bigot. Enemy identified.

Sonia holds unconstitutional "values". Enemy identified.


And to be fair, the guy wrote back immediately, realizing that he had been "over the top" and would be fine if his comment was deleted. But all the same, wow. This is not a good place for us to be. And while I suspect (hope) he was using rhetorical effect to exaggerate his case and was perhaps just letting off steam, I'm sure there are others like him that won't write this at a blog; but they think it and they infect others with this sort of thinking. And even if this guy would never go through with it, he could easily infect someone else who is unstable enough to do so.

After all, this is how the Federal Building in Oklahoma got blown up. And while I don't think this was meant as a direct threat of Obama or Sotomayor, it kind of sort of was. I mean, when you say you want to make "damn sure" that your enemies are "scared to death" of you and then list your enemies, including the president, a federal judge, and a large majority of our politicians...I don't know. I'm a bit creeped out by that. Particularly in the context of having just mentioned killing enemies in combat, without making a distinction between those enemies and these enemies. Not good.

And so while I don't want to be making tooooo big a deal out of this one comment, I just wanted to highlight this sort of thing; as a warning. When people don't feel the system works for them, they work outside the system. That's the basis of terrorism: To demonstrate that there are such alternate methods and that even weaker parties need to be respected. And while Democrats are both dominate and popular, we need to understand that we shouldn't attempt to steamroll our opponents or back them into a corner.

Desperate people do crazy things. We need to make sure that everyone feels they have a say in what's going on in our country. Not just for their good, but for the good of all of us. And with any luck, the over-the-top rhetoric won't be quite this far over the top.

Remember when Clinton was a mass murdering Soviet? I do.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun with Wingnut Insanity

One of my favorite parts about Wikipedia are the Talk pages, in which Wiki editors fight over what gets to be in the official articles.  And while writing my last post, I happened to check out the Talk page for Sonia Sotomayor, and it had plenty of fun stuff in it.

Here are some highlights:
There are a few conservatives who insist that the NY Times is to the left as the National Review is to the right, and defending the National Review as "a mainstream conservative publication."  And while I agree that they're fairly mainstream as far as conservatives go, they don't even pretend to be engaging in the type of journalism the NY Times does.  One person suggested that calling them "reactionary" is the same as calling the NY Times "revolutionary."  Apparently, conservatives haven't yet realized that most liberals don't consider it to be liberal.

And then there's a nutjob named "Yardleyman" who actually suggests that Sotomayor was heavily editing her own page under the name JRtx, and suggests those edits should be "watched closely."  And this ties in well with the general paranoia and delusions of grandeur seen in many conservatives, who like to imagine that they're actually combatting the forces of evil they pretend to oppose.  And it's also part of their projectionism, as they'd edit their own page if they were ever important enough to have one, and can only imagine that everyone else would do the same.  And as the funny conclusion, Yardleyman himself was eventually blocked.

And you might want to check out the lengthy battles as to whether Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic justice (she will be), as well as whether Puerto Ricans are immigrants (they're not).  But because conservatives just have to discredit their opponents at every turn, they just can't let even the tiniest point go.  One person goes as far as to suggest that an Oregonian in New York would be considered an "immigrant," simply as a way of saying that Sotomayor's parents were immigrants.  Wow.

And then there are those who insist that Sotomayor is provably "far-left" due to the same out-of-context quotes that conservatives keep tossing around.  When it's pointed out that this is personal opinion, you get responses like "Stop lying and calling her a "centrist". She said it. You can't deny it."  Sadly, conservatives are so wrapped into their own little world that they can't separate factual statements from the opinions they form from those statements; and anyone who has a different opinion is "lying."  

And finally, the funniest bit is when some conservative changed the words in a specific quote from Sotomayor, in order to reflect their personal word choices on the abortion issue.  Specifically, they changed the quote "the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds" into "the government is free to favor the pro-life position over the anti-life position, and can do so with public funds" and then removed the quotes.  And oddly, this was a case in which she favored the conservative position on abortion.

And unless I'm mistaken, the fun will continue until August, when the actual confirmation will be.  Looks like this is going to be one crazy summer.

All Minorities Are Unworthy

Conservative parody really is much too difficult these days, as they're such over-the-top parodies of themselves that you can't successfully parody them without going too far.  And that's why I moved into doing a sort of reverse-parody at the American Nihilist website, which takes things a step further by pretending to be the evil liberal strawman that conservatives keep attacking.  But it's obvious that even that isn't enough anymore; as the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor has made them completely bonkers.

And so yet again I see that what I wrote in my nihilist award to Sotomayor is being used by actual conservatives.  In that post, I insisted that Sotomayor's great success is a sign of how powerful Affirmative Action is, with the idea being that a non-white could never be successful otherwise.  And sure enough, Fred Barnes is outright making the case that even her Summa Cum Laude from Yale was meaningless.
BARNES: I think you can make the case that she's one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously.
BARNES: I guess it is, but you know, there's some schools and maybe Princeton's not one of them, where if you don't get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you're a D+ student.
Really??  There are places that give top honors to C students?  That's nonsense.  Hell, I graduated Summa at a school far less prestigious than Princeton, and still think it was a big f-ing deal.  And Barnes' Wiki doesn't mention that he graduated with honors from the University of Virgina; so should it be assumed he was a D+ student?

And geez, she was Valedictorian at her high school, won a very prestigious award for her grades at Princeton, and got into Yale Law.  And yet still Barnes has questions about her intelligence.  And sure, maybe he didn't know this stuff.  But you'd think he would have had time to learn more by now, particularly if he's going to be speaking publicly about her.  

But of course, knowledge is a detriment to conservatives and to learn more about Sotomayor would prevent them from making the attacks they're making.  All they care about is knowing enough to be dangerous.  Anything more would only undermine their case.

Affirmative Action Works

And the funny thing is that Sotomayor's story should be considered a good thing for conservatives.  They insist that people can rise up out of poverty and be successful without the help of Affirmative Action, which is why they think it's not necessary.  And one reason they rail against Affirmative Action is that it puts people in schools they can't compete in.  Yet Sotomayor's success at Princeton can't be in doubt, which is why they should insist that she's not an Affirmative Action success story.  

Yet, they can't do that, because they want her stopped.  And so instead, they're actually touting the success of Affirmative Action, in a situation in which it probably didn't apply.  And there can be no doubt that, were Sotomayor a conservative, they'd be completely hyping her success and insisting that Affirmative Action wasn't required.  It's only because they're looking for an excuse to oppose her that they're actually betraying one of their key issues; just to oppose a nominee they are idiots for opposing.

And that's one of the weirdest thing about conservatives: They get so caught-up in the needs of the moment, they completely lose sight of their long-term goals.  But of course, their long-term goal is really just to win every battle and to stuff Democrats as much as they can.  And that leads them to do totally stupid things, like opposing Sotomayor.  And so yet again, they pass up the opportunity to earn some good-faith points in order to go ballistic on an issue they most surely will lose. And until that changes, they won't have much of a chance to become relevant again.

Breaking News: AOL Still Exists

I was always of the opinion that the AOL-Time Warner thing was a really dumb idea. The reason being: What the hell did AOL have to offer? They had nothing but over-valued stock and a shrinking market base with no real future. For Time Warner to purchase AOL was a dumb, dumb idea. But that's not what happened. Per the absurdist rules of the day, AOL purchased Time Warner; a real company with real assets. This seemed particularly stupid to me at the time and only seems dumber now.

And while I don't normally obsess on this point, I happened to be at Time Magazine's website and saw the headline Why AOL–Time Warner Wasn't Doomed to Failure. But having read the article, I can't imagine what the logic here is. It makes no sense. Yeah, sure, it didn't have to fail; but why did it even happen? What did AOL have to offer besides a high stock price that was based on fantasy numbers? And the author even goes as far as to mock people who think "synergy" is a bad word. Wow. I can't believe I just witnessed someone using that word in a non-ironic context.

And at the end of the article, they offer the only hint as to what AOL could be good at: Buying undervalued internet start-ups. Huh? Did I just enter a timewarp and we're all partying yet again as if it were 1999? Honestly, I just went and checked the timestamp on this article, just to make sure I wasn't reading old news. But no, someone at Time was actually paid to write an article suggesting that AOL purchasing Time Warner was a good idea, and seems to think that AOL has some magical ability to buy start-up companies. Simply amazing.

Some day, this country will have a group of journalists that actually knows what the hell they're talking about; and when that happens, all the blogs will shutdown, as we won't have anything to write about anymore. Until then, I'll have posts like this one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Taint of Blago

Wow.  The most remarkable thing about Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris was that it hinged entirely on it being an untainted deal.  It was a dumb move on Blago's part, as it only made him look like a bigger jerk than he already was; but for as much as it was "genius," that was because Burris was so clean.  And now it's quite apparent that even that part of the deal was f-ed up.

TPM's Zachary Roth asks How Damning Is The Burris Transcript?, and seems to be caught-up in the "gray" areas that Burris imagined he was playing in.  But I'm sorry, I see no gray areas here.  It's obvious that Burris thought he was walking a fine line, but the light of day shows that he had fallen off a long time ago.  After all, if during Blago's announcement of his selection of Burris, they had mentioned any of this conversation, it is entirely inconceivable that Burris would have been seated.  And in terms of Blago's past, there were no gray areas.  Either Burris was entirely clean, or he's tainted; and that's that.

Because the main thing about taint is that you should, as much as possible, avoid even the appearance of it.  And if you're offering to write a check and hold a fundraiser for someone who's offering you something, it has all the appearance of corruption.  Particularly if the person you're dealing with is already tied up in a similar scandal.  And if you're still willing to fully adopt the appearance of corruption, going so far as to talk about how you're going to hide the nature of the money; you're corrupt.  That's all there is to it.

Knowing the Score

But my favorite part of the transcript is Blago's brother's reaction to Burris' offer.  While Burris clearly imagined he was skirting around the pay-to-play issue, Blago's bro seemed to have no such illusions.  He knew the score, and said as little as possible; letting Burris go further and further into outright scandal.  

And here's a recap of Rob Blagojevich's part of that conversation:

BLAGOJEVICH: I hear ya. No, I hear ya.

This is clearly a guy letting Burris buy the rope, tie the noose, and put it around his own neck.  He says as little as possible as Burris just keeps going further into the outright purchase of his Senate seat.  

And yeah, it seems Burris didn't actually do any of this.  But it's quite obvious that he was wanting Blago to know that he would.  And the fact that it didn't happen is yet more evidence of how ungray all this was.  Otherwise, he would not only have gone ahead with it, but would have announced that he was doing so.  The only purpose for deception was because it was so blatantly wrong.

The Art of Bribery

And it's truly sad knowing that the Blagos were in no way discreet about their corruption.  Bribery is an art, with it's own subtle rules and etiquette; and the Blago Bros really didn't seem aware of them.  Instead, their style had all the subtlety of a Smash & Grab thief who steals from window displays and runs off while the alarm sounds.  But they looked like true pros compared with Burris, who they let stumble his way into bribery and deception.  

And in that regard, I suppose it makes Burris look better; in that he doesn't seem aware that he had walked fully into corruption territory.  His naiveté is somewhat refreshing, and is evidence that he isn't accustomed to bribing people.  But all the same, it's obvious that he was attempting to buy the Senate seat; and whether or not he actually did is beside the point.  The point is that his Senate seat is entirely tainted and he needs to step down.  

Again, there were no gray areas here.  And the more Burris holds onto the illusion that there were, the more apparent it is that he was up to no good.  An honest man would admit that he totally screwed up and step down; not because he did something wrong, but because it looks so bad.  The fact that he insists he did nothing wrong is just more evidence suggesting that he's guilty.  And the longer he holds on, the worse he looks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The War on Empathy

I've got a post at The American Nihilist in which I suggest that Sonia Sotomayor is a huge nihilist because she has empathy and feelings; which is in contrast to those who have principles and values.  And that was a big joke, not only because empathy and feelings generally aren't associated with nihilism, but also because empathy is generally considered a positive trait that is part of one's value system.

And that's what makes the Republican War on Empathy such a mind-blowing effort.  I mean, they're attacking empathy?  Really??  Empathy??  What's next?  A War on Sympathy Cards?  A "Down with Compassion" teabag rally in every town square?  Because that's even the weirder thing: They're not even referring to empathy.  They're attacking compassion, caring, and warmth and insist that this disqualifies her from being on the Supreme Court.  What planet are these people from?

And this all shows how completely out-of-touch these bozos are.  They've grown so accustomed to believing that any attack is a good attack that they're attacking extraordinarily positive characteristics that most people would want in a judge.  As Carpetbagger suggests, most folks aren't going to see this as a code word for "Unfair Judge," but rather the opposite.  They'd have better luck attacking her love of bunny rabbits or denouncing her for liking Puerto Rican food (oh wait, they did that).

But then again, I suppose if they were empathetic, they couldn't be conservatives.  And lacking empathy, it just doesn't occur to them that the rest of us just aren't like them.  And that could explain why they imagine the political dynamite they're holding is somehow going to hurt their opponents instead of blowing up in their faces.  And again, all this shows is how insulated they are within their own shrinking bubble.  

They don't care if Sotomayor is qualified or not; they're just looking for something to attack her for.  And in this case, they're attacking her for a human trait that normal folks find appealing.  Weird, weird people.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Did You Know...Global Warming Edition

Did you know that if you choose the roof color that minimizes your heating and cooling cost, everything else will take care of itself?

Did you know that if we increase Earth's albedo we'll all go back to using, cutting and breaking down anything that burns because we'll need lots of fuel for heating in the new ice age such idiotic measures would bring?

Did you know we were really living in the stone ages with no innovation or good ideas for several millenium until Barack showed us all the way?

Did you know that Global Warming is stupid?

Did you know that if the earth was meant to be destroyed by Global Warming, we shouldn't stop it?

Did you know that Liberals are the one's always behind these retared environmental experiments?

Did you know that the reflective properties of colors is junk science that is ignorant and fallacious?

Did you know that California's debt is due to stupid ideas like painting roofs white?

Did you know that they have never-ending raising taxes in California?

I learned all this and more in the comments section of an article recommending white roofs. Simply amazing.

No Knock-Out Blow on Sotomayor

A big mistake with the Republican "All-Attacks, All-the-Time" strategy is that, unless they get a knock-out blow, their early attacks actually inoculate their target.  It serves as a sort of vetting process and the attacks just become part of the background noise.  Because the attacks don't start off super strong, it almost serves as a practice round for their victims and as the attacks slowly notch-up, the victim becomes stronger.

And Republicans generally know this.  After all, it's the whole point of the "October Surprise," as well as last minute smears the day before the election.  It's all about putting something out there that is so outrageous or scandalous that the target doesn't have time to fight back.  But the rest of the time, Republicans use the opposite strategy, which is to keep repeating the same attacks for such a long period of time that it stops being outrageous or scandalous.

And sure, there are times when this works; but only when their target flubs the defense and goes down without a proper fight.  But in the Obama era, that looks to be happening less and less.  Democrats are learning that Republican attacks wear no clothes and that their supposedly withering attacks hold no real power at all.  They huff and they puff, but just end up winded and impotent.

And so all that grand work of laying down the groundwork against Sonia Sotomayor not only won't derail her, but is likely to have backfired.  Particularly as the attacks on her were so early that it just exposed the fraudulent nature of the attacks and her attackers.  They needed to keep the attacks at bay until they found something real to attack her with.  And for god's sake, they needed to not cite her gender or race as an issue.

But perhaps they never thought they could properly derail her and were just hoping to scare the Whitehouse into picking a weaker candidate.  But once again, Obama didn't blink and now he's in a much stronger position because they shot too early.  Sotomayor is now inoculated against most of the basic smears against her, and unless some giant skeleton appears in her closet, it looks like the early Republican attacks only made her confirmation all the more likely.  

And since Republicans have committed themselves to opposing her, it'll just make them look worse in the process.   I'm not sure why anyone ever feared these fools, but it's quite obvious that their bark was far worse than their bite.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I'm outsourcing my Memorial Day post to my nihilist self at The American Nihilist: A Very Nihilist Memorial.

And don't forget to drink too much.  That's what holidays are for.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Your Nihilist Reading List

You want liberal nihilism? I've got more of it for you at The American Nihilist, your one stop shop for all the denialist rejectionist relativist nihilism you can possibly handle and more.

My latest:

Nihilists of the Month: The Newburgh Four

Nihilist Drug of the Year: Liberalism

Comrade Obama: Pro-Lifers are Agents of Hate


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Irrelevants Never Forget

One of the oddest things about Republican attacks on Obama is how they still seem to be based on the idea that the election isn't over. It's as if their drubbing last November still hasn't quite sunk-in yet and they're hoping that one last rehash of the attacks that were ignored last November might finally begin to pay dividends.

And nothing was more absurd than their attacks on him for associating with Bill Ayers. That, along with Reverend Wright were issues that Hillary brought up during the primaries, and McCain brought up during the general; and nothing. People just didn't give a damn. Nor do I understand why they would have been expected to.

While the charge of socialism also ranked pretty high on the Stupid Scale, that term at least had some salience at one time...a few decades ago. Attacking him for associating with a dude most folks hadn't heard of was just dumb. After all, the whole point of a smear is to use public ignorance to attack someone, as your opponent will have to spend all their time trying to educate the voters as to why the smear isn't true. But if your smear requires a lengthy history lesson to be understood, then it just backfired on you.

Dreams of Nightmare Absurdity

And so I find it hilarious that the Washington Times is still trying to link-up Bill Ayers to Obama, including suggesting to Ayers that he co-wrote Dreams From My Father. And seriously, that had to be the kookiest political attack on anyone, anywhere.

Because first off, it was completely insane. There was never any evidence whatsoever to suggest that Ayers wrote Obama's book, or that Obama would have needed a ghostwriter, or even that Obama knew Ayers well enough to have him write the damn thing. It was absolute fantasy based solely on the already absurd idea that Obama and Ayers were secret BFF's.

But what made this ghostwriter story even dumber was that it wasn't a very good attack even if it were true. So what if Ayers wrote the book? Does that make Obama or the book more radical? No. If anything, all it would do would be to provide evidence of the Obama-Ayers BFF myth. And because no one was suggesting that the book was wildly radical, it would suggest that Ayers was less radical for having written in. And where's the harm in that?

And while I suppose it would undermine Obama's intellectual credibility to not have written the book, so what? Lots of autobiographies are ghostwritten. Karen Hughes supposedly wrote Bush's. McCain's "alter-ego," Mark Salter "co-wrote" all five of McCain's books. It happens. Not everyone's got mad writing skillz like me and Obama. And so if Obama were yet another non-author, could that really be the negative attack that finally turned everyone away from him? I can't imagine how.

And so the whole thing was just a big zero. It was an absolutely ludicrous claim based upon bizarro assertions which wouldn't have been particularly damning even if true; and which was completely ignored by voters. And yet conservatives are still so desperate to believe in it that a reporter for the WaTimes disgraced himself by asking Ayers about it. And the best plan conservatives can come up with to gain relevance is to double-down on their attacks and pray they finally start working. They won't.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Republican Civil War Continues

The selection of Michael Steele as RNC chair was clearly a dumb, dumb idea based almost entirely on some lame-brained effort to put a black face on a white party.  And at this point, I'm not exactly sure it wouldn't have been better to just have sent out the standard RNC nut and put him in blackface.  Because Steele has been an even worse PR man than he's been a party chairman.

And so I'm reading in the conservative Washington Times about how Steele hired friends to work for the RNC and paid them double or triple what their predecessors made.  And that's just not a smart thing to do.  You can hire friends and pay them the same, or hire competence and pay them double; but you really shouldn't do both.  Particularly not when you're working for an organization that relies upon donations and you have no real metrics to judge success with.  

And Steele really should have been ready for this.  Of course there was going to be pushback when it became known that he did this.  I mean, this is politics.  So anything that looks a little iffy can always be used against you, so you've got to be prepared with a good response.  And that's what makes it all the more startling to read this sort of response from the RNC's Communications Director:
"Salaries aren't secret, just something that we're not going to talk about outside of our [Federal Election Commission] filings."
Wait, that's your final answer?  Holy shit, why not just come out with a cliched "no comment" and be done with it.  Now granted, the whole story has the markings of a hit-piece intended to make Steele look bad; and so perhaps this dude actually said something decent which just didn't make it in the article.  I don't know.

But that really doesn't matter, as that "defense" shouldn't have been said ever.  Because it only makes it look like Steele's got something to hide.  A proper response would have been something like: The Republican image is really in the toilet and so it just made sense for us to hire the best people, which requires the best wages.  Or words to that effect.  Sure, it would have sounded sketchy, seeing as how cronyism generally isn't synonymous with competence.  But sometimes it is.  And his argument could be that he knows these cronies were worth it, which is why he brought them along with him.

But no.  Instead, we're treated to a "I don't want to talk about it" defense that only makes Steele look worse.  And the fact that it came from the Washington Times and is labeled an "exclusive" shows that his Republican enemies have the long knives out for him.  And frankly, I'm torn about the whole thing.  Michael Steele is a huge joke that only keeps getting funnier, but internal Republican squabbles are pretty funny too.  

Overall, I'm just hoping that his enemies are strong enough to keep crippling him, but not able to muster the strength to topple him; due partly to the conservative inability to admit to mistake.  And so the old-guard will continue to undermine the new-guard's efforts to save the party, which will make the entire team increasingly weaker as time goes by.  Honestly, I predicted the eventual civil war between the various Republican factions for many years now, but I never realized it could be this much fun.


Most people really don't know what they're doing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Michael Steele: Marriage is Bad for Business

Wow, I've always considered RNC Chair Michael Steele to be the absolute doofiest politician I've ever known of.  Someone who not only couldn't argue his way out of a paperbag, but would actually lose to the paperbag; and probably owe it a big apology by the end.  But no longer.  I've been a big supporter of marriage for most of my life, but upon hearing Steele's arguments against it, I've definitely got to count myself into Steele's Down with Marriage Movement. 

Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.
"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for.  So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money."
And wow, that's a really good point.  Gay marriage would burden small businesses who would need to spend more on healthcare and other benefits.  But of course, that's not limited to gay marriage, as all marriages do the same thing.  And this would be an argument against allowing employees of small businesses to get married.  And of course, since straight couples are more likely to have the added expense of children (including maternity leave); it would seem obvious that gay marriage is the cheaper alternative.

And without a doubt, a potential employee's marriage status plays a big part of this, so employers should certainly be allowed to ask the employee if they're married or ever plan on getting married; to weed out the more expensive employees.  And if an employee ever decides to get married, that should be a fireable offense.  I mean, why should an employer be saddled with extra expenses solely due to decisions an employee made in their personal life?  

Of course, someone else might suggest that a big "out" for all this would be universal healthcare, so we could finally get employers out of the healthcare business.  But we all know that's crazy socialism which will only undermine our country and destroy the fabric of society.  Much better to just oppose marriage and be done with it.  Way to think this through, Steele.

On a separate note, Steele claims that he first developed this argument while talking to a college student on an airplane, and I can only assume that Steele imagines he won or he wouldn't be proudly repeating this asinine argument.  

And so I'd like to nominate this as the absolute Worst Debate on a Plane Ever.  I'm just hoping that Steele has mistaken the student's mind-blown silence as a concession of defeat.  That's often the only sort of "victory" conservatives can ever claim.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Desperation of the Powerless

Carpetbagger has a post about how panicky James Dobson sounds about losing the culture war. As Dobson says:
"I want to tell you up front that we're not going to ask you to do anything, to make a phone call or to write a letter or anything. There is nothing you can do at this time about what is taking place because there is simply no limit to what the left can do at this time. Anything they want, they get and so we can't stop them."

But for as much as Carpetbagger sounds like he's gloating, I've got to say that this scares me much more than all their hubris when they thought they controlled the world. This not only has a wounded animal quality to it, but worse, it will panic the flock and make them feel desperate. And desperate people do desperate things.

People turn to terrorism when they feel they no longer have any legitimate outlet to express themselves in; which is exactly why the Federal Building in Oklahoma was blown up. McVeigh was convinced that our "socialist" government was going to take our guns and enslave us, and that by attacking a government building, he was fighting back and teaching them that we won't be bullied. He insisted that his attack was self-defense and that he was in imminent danger from the government, and died believing that his terrorism had properly taught the government a lesson.

Back then, I knew a few people who believed the same kind of stuff, including a co-worker who insisted that the government was going to make us "chattel," which he explained meant "human cattle." (I shit you not.) I tried explaining to him that we're worth much more to these anonymous Powers That Be in our current occupations than out in the fields picking cotton (and yes, he thought we'd be picking cotton for our overlords); but he just wouldn't listen. Needless to say, I tried to avoid talking politics with him as much as possible.

Thus far, it doesn't look like it's taking nearly as long for conservatives to go crazy over our "socialist" government taking our guns and liberties.

Re-Enfranchising the Right

As much as possible, we need for these people to feel like the system can still work for them and they're not voiceless. Dobson, Limbaugh, and many others on the right don't want that, which is why they're so eager to make their flock feel powerless.

At least with Limbaugh, he's such a manipulator that he's trying to make his listeners feel like he's the only voice they have; which empowers him. Dobson sounds like he really means all this and is refusing to be their voice. This is the sort of thing we need to be afraid of. That's not to say that conservative leaders are trying to encourage domestic terrorism, but rather, this is an unintended consequence for a situation they don't fully understand.

And btw, this is why I always supported Obama's bipartisan approach. Yes, Republicans weren't going to play nice, but the more we looked like we were steamrolling them, the more voiceless these people would be. Even as it is, conservatives feel like they need to work outside the system to be heard (hence the "tea parties"). As much as possible, we need for them to feel like they're being heard, even if they're not being obeyed. Not because we're nice guys who need to be bipartisan, but because we don't want these people blowing shit up. Desperate people do desperate things.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Faith-Based Politics

Carpetbagger has a post discussing why Republicans seem like such "Big Babies" when they lose presidential elections, while Democrats just act like pathetic losers. But frankly, I'm not sure that there really is that much of a difference between the two sides and that, as CB suggests, the main difference is that Republicans always act like Big Babies.

But for as much as there is a difference, I think part of it is that conservatives believe firmly in a Grand Narrative, which is a morality tale based upon their own faithfulness. The righteous and pure will win and the corrupt sinners will lose. As long as you have faith and stay true, you'll prevail.

And much of this stems from the bible, which has similar tales; to the point that large sections of the Old Testament fell victim to historical revisionism to make it seem as if Israel and Judah always prospered when the people were faithful to God and suffered when they went against God's will. And in some cases, strong kings who were faithless got ignored, while weak kings who were faithful were over-hyped.

And somehow, the fact that these good and bad times had anything to do with larger historical events which were happening throughout the region is largely forgotten about. And so the rise and fall of power in Egypt, Babylon, and Rome were just background events in the morality tale told in the bible. It's as if a flea imagined that it caused a great flood just because the dog jumped into the pool. And the reality is that Israel and Judah only had "kingdoms" due to a brief power vacuum in the region, and their faith had nothing to do with it at all.

Losing the Faith

And that sort of morality tale has carried true to now, which is why so many Republicans were absolutely convinced that McCain would pull a miracle upset in November. To them, their strong faith was enough to win the election. And when they didn't win, reality just didn't make sense to them and they felt betrayed. It'd be like turning the page in your Harry Potter novel and suddenly finding yourself in the middle of War and Peace. Their Grand Narrative stopped making sense.

And now, they see this as a challenge and believe they need to work harder to smite their enemies. And if they acknowledge reality and admit that Obama is popular and they're in the minority, it'd show their lack of faith and they'd just lose more. And so their loss could only be because they didn't fight hard enough and weren't pure enough to the cause of conservativism. And they've gone as far as to rewrite history, showing their weak leader George Bush as a faithless moderate who betrayed the cause.

These people are truly small-minded and imagine that the world revolves around them and their beliefs. The tides of history are nothing compared with the demands of their bruised egos.

Dick Cheney: Bullshitter Extraordinaire

Carpetbagger has a post referring to Cheney as The Dems' New Best Friend, and suggests that the DNC needs to give Dick an Employee of the Month award for how much he's helping to remind people why they like Obama so much. And I agree completely. Cheney has always been an unpopular joke, outside of the Beltway at least, and the more people see him out there, the better things are for us.

But not all Dems agree. Apparently, there are still lots of folks who still fear Cheney (Rove too, apparently), and they think we're making a big mistake by mocking him. Here are two separate commenters on the subject:
"Maybe there is a ghost in the political machine that is actually the seat of power, maybe the Star Chamber is not entirely fictional. Cheney and his crowd make me nervous. The question to ask is this: Is Cheney really out of power? Is he really as marginalized among the villagers as you would like to believe? I don't think so, and it is no laughing matter."

"You people keep making the same dangerous mistake over and over. "Oh, Cheney, he's so stupid. He's great for the Democrats. Keep it comin', Dick." Wake up. This guy is on major news 2-3 times a week, along with the right wing 24/7 radiobots, selling the country on the necessity and justification of torture like they sold, successfully, invading Iraq, WMD's, Swift-boating, etc."
But I just couldn't disagree more. Because as with Rove, there is no greater proponent of the Evil Genius theory behind Cheney than Cheney himself. And that's because he's a master bullshitter. Truly one of our country's best. The rest of this is a modified version of the comment I wrote in response.

My Comment on Dick

Dick Cheney's not some evil mastermind with super-secret connections. He's an incompetent boob who happens to be an awesome bullshit artist. And one of the biggest weaknesses of bullshit artists is that they never learn how to be actually good at anything, because they're so good at bullshitting everyone. Trying to obtain actual expertise would hinder their ability to lie, because the first person a bullshitter bullshits is himself. Expertise would only get in the way of that.

If Cheney truly had power, he wouldn't be on the TV trying to save his skin. He'd be pulling the strings behind the scenes, which is how he prefers to do things. But he no longer has the president's ear to whisper into, so he's stuck going to the only forum he can work in: The media. None of this is good for him, as he himself must realize that he's now the public face for torture. But he has no choice, as he's just a bullshitter and the only influence he can have is bullshitting people. And so that's what he's doing.

Remember, even as a power player in the Whitehouse he wasn't one to go out front and bully everyone. That's not his style. He's the guy who sits quiet and makes everyone nervous, asking only a few cryptic questions to put you on the spot; which makes you even more nervous. And his gimmick is that you get so scare of him that he psychs you out. And his main strength was being able to go directly to Bush, who himself is a bullshit artist and easily swayed by the superior bullshitter. That's his style and it obviously worked very well for him.

Going Public

So for him to be going public and defending his actions like this is the strongest indication that he has no real power. I'm sure he realizes that the more he talks, the less fear he can instill in people. It's obvious that he feels he has no other choice, or he wouldn't be doing it. And so the best thing we can do is laugh at Cheney and call him on his bullshit. He can smell your fear, but is completely helpless against mockery.

And really, the Star Chamber? This guy had to cherrypick the few points of cooked info that he himself used all his power to pressure into the CIA intel reports; and even that was laughable. Even as the most powerful man in DC, he had trouble getting the supposedly evil CIA to cooperate in selling war. And a real evil genius would have made sure we "found" WMD's in Iraq; god knows we've got enough of them around here.

Dick didn't have super-powers when he worked in the Whitehouse and he certainly doesn't have any now. Dick Cheney is a joke and the only mistake we can make is not laughing loud enough at him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Argument by Character Assassination.

Conservative Donald Douglas is much too funny. He's got this idea that he's some intellectual master-debater who resides above the right-left fray, as an impartial judge of the combatants; yet beneath the very thin veneer of faux elitism resides a third-grader who never got over the verbal drubbing that the other kids gave him on the playground each day. And that's too bad, as I've always wanted to debate the guy that Donald imagines he is, yet the more I try to pull that Donald out, the more I get the third-grader.

And so Donald has a post in reply to John Hawkins' suggestion that conservatives have been too virtuous and Christian when dealing with liberals, and finally need to take the gloves off and fight as dirty as we do. And it's Donald's opinion that Conservatives Can Finish First. And this post showcases the typical lack of self-awareness seen by conservatives, in which liberals are attacked for the negative behavior that Donald thinks conservatives should engage in.

And you know what? That's fine. If you think insults are acceptable, then they're acceptable. But don't try to pretend that throwing insults is a serious character flaw, while throwing insults. I myself have great fun in insulting conservatives, and you'll never hear me suggest that insults are inherently inappropriate. But with Donald, you get a hypocrite who insists that liberals are dastardly name-callers, yet has very rarely used my name without including absurd attacks (or perhaps he really thinks my name is Dr. Biowackadoodle and Dr. Biohoplesslylamemaster).

And so we get whining about a silly Photoshop job from a guy who dismisses every liberal as America-hating rejectionist, denialist, nihilist leftists. But beyond the pointless insults, he has no trouble smearing our positions too, like when he refers to our stance on abortion and writes:
"Leftists don't care about freedom. Or, if they do, it's freedom to kill, including killing human infants irrespective of stages of gestational development."
Because yes, that's the only possible way to refer to our position: The only freedom we believe in is the freedom to kill human infants. Way to avoid those character assassinations, Don. And hey, he didn't jokingly name a perverted moose after us, so it's obvious that he's keeping things on the intellectual tip.

Argument v. Insult

But all this misses the truly funny part of this discussion: Who in god's name thinks that Democrats took the Whitehouse and gained seats in both houses of Congress due to Photoshop? Is it that we're winning because we insult them better? Who could really think that?

A man-child still living in the third-grade, that's who. But it's not just Donald. Most conservatives really get their feelings hurt over this stuff and think that more insults are the way to go. But what they don't get is that the insults aren't our arguments. When I refer to Donald as a "nutjob" (as is my wont), it's to give context to my readers, so they understand that they're reading something about a guy I think is a nutjob. And the reason I think he's a nutjob will be explained afterwards. The arguments are the meat of our material, and the insults are just the dessert.

But for conservatives, the insult is all you really get. You're told that the person is a "leftist" and that's pretty much the end of it. You're told that the person's idea of freedom is killing babies. And that's it. That's the whole argument. And you're supposed to end up thinking "Yeah, they do like killing babies." It's argument by assertion and they're not even particularly good at it. And if you even attempt to refute the assertion, for example, explaining that you think human life is more than just a blob of fertilized cells, then you're a slimy polecat denialist who wants to kill babies. That's all there is to it. Ask for an explanation and you just get more insults.

And the irony is that that's the reason they're losing debates! That's why the president is a liberalish Democrat and Democrats control Congress. Partly, it's because their positions are intolerant and out of whack with the general population, but partly, it's because they can't even explain what their positions are. Because all of their "arguments" are little more than dressed-up attacks on liberals. That's all they've got. And that's all they really care about.

But of course, that leads back to the first point: These people are intolerant and out of whack. People want the government to help them, and all they can do is scream about socialist leftists making people dependent on the government. And call me crazy, but I don't think that's the sort of help people had in mind.

Babies v. Eggs

And who knows, maybe when Donald sees a fertilized egg, it looks just as human to him as a real baby. Perhaps he can't tell which of the pictures in this post is the egg and which is the baby (Donald, the one up top is your precious fertilized egg). But by insisting on labeling his opponents as baby killers, the only people who will listen to him are the ones who already call us baby killers. To everyone else, it just makes him look like a nutjob.

And so they smear Obama as a socialist fascist baby killer, and can't understand why nobody takes them seriously. And their only solution is to throw more insults, not understanding how that only makes things worse. Obama didn't win because he pulled out a funny photo of McCain and call him "gramps" on the campaign trail. He won because he sounded like he knew what the hell he was talking about and had real answers to real problems. And all McCain could do was to try to scare everyone into thinking that Obama was a socialist with scary friends.

And for people like Donald, this worked. Because he likes insults. For as much as he imagines himself the intellectual, insults are really all he does. Nobody reading his blog will be convinced of anything. That's just not the point of his blog. Nor are any conservative blogs meant to convince anyone. They're all about one-upping each other into how scary Obama is and how evil liberals are, so they grow more and more upset with each passing day.

And so Donald imagines he's writing some intellectual post on liberals and abortion, but all he's really doing is taking Ross Douthat's almost interesting column on Obama's plans on abortion and squeezing out an attack on liberals that Douthat didn't make. And so we get this long piece that merely asserts that Dems are wrong on when life begins, which makes them all baby killers. And this might be news to Donald, but I've been reading that garbage on the internet for over fifteen years now. His big conclusion was written for him before he even started blogging and it didn't gain anything from his umpteenth recitation of it.

And that's just par for the course. Donald isn't making an argument, he's just looking for another way to smear liberals. And what's sad is that if Donald reads this, he won't see the points I made and attempt to rebut them. And he definitely won't take my advice and write posts with real substance. Instead, he'll insist upon defending his characterization of us as leftist baby killers by pretending that these are objective terms which properly describe who we are. And he'll see all the times I called him a "nutjob" and use the famous Rubber v. Glue maneuver. For him, this is a winning argument.

Because that's all he'll really see: Name-calling and insults. And while he might refer to me as "Arlon" for the hundredth time (due to a simple misspelling I made on more than one occasion), he's not going to see any of the substance I wrote. Sure, my point was to explain what a silly hypocrite he is, as well as pointing out how wrong he is for imagining that Photoshop lost them the Whitehouse; but all he'll understand are the insults.

And that's the real reason conservatives are losing: Not because they don't insult enough, but because they don't do anything else.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And Colin Heaves a Big Sigh of Relief

Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, "If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."
And the only question that remains about Cheney's future is, will he ever use his reverse-Midas touch to finally start helping his allies, or has he been doing that already?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Everyone's Racist, But the Racists

Apparently, I'm a racist.  Why?  Because I wrote a post mocking conservative racism.  And yes, that's how skewed things are on the right: It's racist to mock racists.  It stemmed from my mockery of an idiotic post at RedState, which was premised on the theory that black people support Democrats because they've been too stupid, immature, lazy, and ungrateful to vote Republican.  And the fact that the author somehow imagined that his post wasn't racist is the greatest racial insensitivity at all.  You can claim to be my friend all you want, but if that involves you talking to me like a spoiled child, I'm going to have my doubts.

And so I wrote my post from the perspective that conservatives were right and that Democrats really hate black people and are purposefully keeping them down.  But it was all a big joke, which even conservatives couldn't take seriously.  And that's actually a big part of my nihilist posts: They're intended as object lessons in what a liberal would say, if the rightwing smears against us were true. 

Yet somehow, the obvious satire wasn't enough, and conservative stalker Donald Douglas has now cited that post as an example of leftwing racism.  Here's a quote from Donald:
What we find is that genuine, widespread, and MAINSTREAM bigotry in contemporary American politics is on the radical left end of the spectrum. See more of this at American Nihilist, "Impending Arrival of BlackState."
Yet, how can he possibly cite me as a source of "genuine" bigotry, when there wasn't anything genuine about the post?  For god's sake, I actually wrote that we had analysts in the Klan who had predicted that black people would kill 65% of white Democrats in three hours.  Only a complete nutjob would ever refer to this as being "genuine."  

Oh, and how can "mainstream bigotry" reside on the "radical left end of the spectrum"?  Either this is mainstream or it's radical.  But of course, seeing as how his post implicitly attacked black people and women for engaging in "the most disgusting racism and sexism in decades" for having supported Obama or Hillary in the primaries, I'd guess that Donald's definition of "radical left end" is really quite large.

Acting Racist

Now don't get me wrong.  I seriously doubt Donald's a racist.  He's just an anti-liberal weirdo who loves hearing any and all attacks on liberals.  And so he adopts whatever anti-liberal garbage he's fed and begs for more.  In fact, I really don't think there are many true racists on the right.  While they exist, I'm sure, I suspect most of this is misplaced antagonism towards liberals and support for their own team; ignorant of the fact that there are still true racists on their team.

But in any case, racist is as racist does, and if you write a post based upon the premise that black people are stupid and lazy, well, you wrote a racist post no matter how well intentioned you imagined you were.  And conservatives like poor Donald don't understand how any of this works.  They see TBogg displaying a racist image in order to mock racism, and insist that this makes TBogg racist.  They hear liberals call black Republicans "Uncle Tom" for behaving in ways traditionally associated with that phrase, and immediately proclaim it racist.  (For the record, I'm not sure that phrase was ever racist and believe this is yet another misunderstanding by conservatives.)

And perhaps they've got a point.  But if they do, they've failed to make it every time.  They're generally not good at dealing with arguments beyond the level of broad assertion, so even if they had a point, I'd never know what it is.  And while it's possible that their brains just can't comprehend the idea of argumentation, a better explanation would be that they can't explain themselves because they just don't know what the hell they're talking about.  

Even with this post, the best Donald could do to "refute" what I just wrote will be to focus on the insults I gave him, and insist that he doesn't need to explain himself because all his arguments are "self-evident."  And again, that's what you do when you can't explain yourself because you don't know what the hell you're talking about.  And yes, Donald has used "self-evidence" as the source for his arguments and proclaimed himself the winner of the debate.  And yes, that debate was exactly as sad as it sounds like it'd be.

Not Getting It

And it's quite shocking to see how convinced conservatives are of liberal evil-doing, without even the slightest understanding of what we were saying to begin with.  For example, TBogg's post couldn't possibly be considered racist, yet Donald accuses him of it all the same.  Why?  Because TBogg used an image that Donald didn't understand.  

To Donald, the image is racist no matter what context it's being used in.  Who cares what TBogg was trying to say; all that matters is the image.  Curiously, Donald attacked TBogg for this, writing "If any conservative blogger or columnist were to post a black Sambo eating a watermelon the entire netroots would erupt in feigned outrage at the modern day lynching."  

Yet, Donald did post the image, and in a larger version than TBogg's.  I find that fairly mind-boggling.  And I could understand if Donald was attempting to defend someone who had used a racial image in a similar context, by citing TBogg's usage in defense.  But he's not.  He's outright proclaiming TBogg to be a racist, simply for having used the image; even if the point of TBogg's usage was to mock racism.  In other words, TBogg's a racist for using the image to attack someone he thought was racist, yet Donald's a hero for having used the same image to attack someone he thought was racist.  The lack of self-awareness here is simply astonishing.

And that's the biggest problems conservatives have: They have absolutely no clue what the hell we're talking about.  And so they give everything the worst possible spin and attack us for doing the opposite of what we did.  Context is meaningless to them.  But again, they don't want to understand us.  Nor do they care about racism.  It's all about supporting their team and attacking us, and that's all they see.  

And in the end, seeing as how the basis of racism is blind prejudice in support of one's own team, we really haven't seen much of a shift here at all.  They might give backhanded compliments to black people in order to openly insult liberals; but it all pretty much amounts to the same thing.  They're the best and we all suck, and it doesn't matter what color we are; they hate us all equally.  And lost in all this is that one big reason conservatives hate liberals is because we insisted upon equal opportunity for black people.  That's irony, my friends.

And now we've come full circle and they're attempting to woo black people in order to defeat us.  Well...just as long as those black people stop expecting free cars and finally grow up and start listening to what Republicans have to say.  Somehow, I don't see that happening just yet.

Defining Welfare Success

By no means would I consider the programs designed to help minorities in our country to be a complete success.  But I'm not even sure how to define success.  I mean, the point of a program like welfare wasn't to make self-sufficient people, but merely to prevent people who weren't self-sufficient from suffering.  And more importantly, to insure that the children of non-self-sufficient people wouldn't be too negatively impacted by their parents' insufficiencies.  

And in that regard, these programs can be considered successful.  But programs like welfare and food stamps were nothing more than bandaids for a much bigger problem that they couldn't possibly have solved.  But rather than realize that these were short-term fixes that required long-term answers, too many people washed their hands of the whole thing and considered their job done.  The woes of poverty were lessened, and now it's time to get back to enjoying life, guilt-free.  They cured the worst symptoms of poverty, but failed to address the more complicated causes of it.

But for as difficult as it may be to define what "success" means for these programs, it's quite idiotic to suggest that the purpose of these programs was malevolent.  Unless, of course, you're a conservative.  Apparently, conservatives have somehow conjured up some evil plot in which liberals created a poverty situation that they then "solved" in order to woo black people to vote for them.  And the black people continue to vote for them in order to avoid going back to the old ways of doing things, which, in conservative minds, was somehow better for black people than the current system. 

History Never Happened

But this is utterly retarded.  I mean, we know what the old system was and that things were worse for people.  We know this.  Programs like Welfare and Affirmative Action were designed specifically because the "free market" wasn't doing the job; nor could it.  And a big part of this was that the "free market" wasn't really allowed to work, because racism blinded people and prejudiced them against giving equal treatment to black people.  Not only did racists not want to hire a qualified black person, they didn't want minorities to obtain the education necessary to become qualified. And so liberals created these programs in order to combat these problems.  

And conservatives do this sort of thing with all liberal programs.  We're to imagine that environmental laws and labor laws and SEC regulations were created to solve problems that didn't exist.  To conservatives, polluted rivers, child labor, and financial fraud never happened.   They were just bogeymen that liberals conjured up because we love government so much.  And this is all batshit crazy, yet they insist that this is the case.  

And the only "proof" they have is that this is the only way their arguments make any sense.  Because if these liberal programs were created to solve real problems, then the conservative solution is just wrong.  And that's most definitely the case.  America knows what happens when the "free market" is allowed to have free rein and we don't like it.  But of course, conservatives don't really want "free" markets.  They want markets they can manipulate using the methods that government regulations outlaw, which is the main reason they're against these regulations.  
Promoting Equality

The government acts as a referee so we all get a fair shake, and conservatives can't stand that.  And getting back to the point at hand, it bugs the hell out of them that a poor kid doesn't have to pay for the lunch that a rich kid's parents pay for.  And they have no problem when a kid is given special treatment by Yale because his dad is a rich alum, but are outraged when a kid is given special treatment to promote cultural diversity.  

Because even Affirmative Action programs weren't meant to be the "final" answer to these problems, but yet another bandaid to fix a problem requiring a long-term solution.  And the long-term solution is to finally fix the inequities that created the need for Affirmative Action.  But conservatives oppose those solutions too.  They want the "market" to be the final arbiter of justice, not because they understand how the market works, but merely because they imagine that it'll help them win.  And that's what this is really all about.

None of this is to suggest that liberals have all the right answers, but so far, conservatives still refuse to acknowledge that the problems even exist.  Some day, this country will be divided between two parties that offer real solutions to our problems, but until then, we're stuck with willfully blind conservatives and their "free market solution," which consists of ignoring all problems.  They'll scream bloody murder that liberals don't have the right answer, but until they start offering solutions, we'll continue as the only game in town.

I actually had an entirely different point to make on this subject, but this is already too long, and so it ends.  Maybe I'll write the real point later tonight.