Friday, October 16, 2009

Good Facts Gone Bad

In my previous post, I mocked Josh Fulton, a "liberal" blogger who created a list of 50 reasons why Obama should NOT have won the Nobel, which apparently contained fifty-three reasons.  And looking over the list, it became quite obvious that the reason it was so long was because it was meant to overwhelm us with the immensity of all the horrible things Obama had done, so much so, that we wouldn't notice that it was just a random list of complaints; few of which had anything to do with Peace, and many of which were deceptively incorrect and not supported by the links attached to them.

And in my typical fashion, I was fairly irreverent of this guy's opinions, as is my wont, and downright disrespectable when it came to certain theories of his which I found ridiculous.  Like the suggestion that Attorney General Eric Holder believes in the principle of death squads.  And as is typical of these sort of people who imagine that anyone who disagrees with them is evil, he didn't take kindly to my irreverancy and has now established comment moderation; lest I continue to disrespect his authority. 

Ironically, the people who most fiercely attack their opponents for oppressing dissent are most likely to oppress dissent, which is often why they were complaining in the first place.  And no, this isn't the first anti-Obama leftie who has banned me from their site for criticizing their position.  Nor is he the first to suggest that liberals who don't agree with them aren't "liberals."  Apparently, it's not enough to support big government anymore.

And this affliction of his was entirely fitting with why I was there.  After all, his list of reasons Obama didn't deserve the prize included such oddball items like the hiring of Eric Holder and Rahm Emanuel.  Holder's offense was that he supported the ban on D.C. handguns, as well as having represented Chiquita when they pled guilty to paying Columbian death squads.  Rahm's offense was in suggesting that Senator Kyl didn't want stimulus funds after he attacked the stimulus funds, as well as having suggested in 2007 that we ban the sales of guns to people on the no-fly list.  And yes, apparently gun control is now the pro-war position.

And while I can respect the difference of opinion on why Josh wouldn't agree with Holder or Emanuel on these issues, I found it inexplicable that anyone would seriously suggest that these are such horrid deeds that they disquailify Obama from deserving a peace prize, merely for hiring people who had committed them.  And since I suggested that these deeds didn't taint Obama, it meant that I support the no-fly list, violations of the 2nd Amendment, and death squads. 

The Recap

And trust me when I tell you that, for as disrespectful as I was of reading this stuff, my original comments were much, much worse.  And because this guy doesn't know me, he actually imagined that I wouldn't have said these things to his face.  But I assure you, I'm just like this in person, except louder.  And so he effectively banned me, unless I repented my irreverent sins and respected his opinions more.  And as that's not going to happen, I'm going to post my response here.

And to recap this portion of the argument, I had written that his list contained "outright deceptions," and because I used the plural, he insisted that I needed to list multiple deceptions or retract that precious "s".  And while I could have picked bones with almost everything on the list, as the entire thing was written to maximize shock value, I picked the following items:

* Hypocritical on the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell.

* Continues to spy on peace groups through "fusion centers."
* Supports the growing trend of police militarization.

I'll take these one at a time.
Hypocritical on the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell

This one involved him linking to his own post remarking that the DOJ had "finally" argued against DOMA, and presumably, Obama's offense was that he opposed DOMA while the DOJ continued to defend it in court.  But of course, it had to defend DOMA, as it's the law and Obama has to uphold the law, even if he doesn't approve.  Same goes for DADT.

So that's what I said, pointing out that the Constitution dictates that Obama support these laws.  And his reponse was to note that Rachel Maddow and Howard Dean didn't like the legal brief on DOMA which had been submitted in June.  June.  Yet, we were talking about the August legal brief the DOJ had just submitted.  And while the June brief was an embarrassment that sounded like it was written by a Bushie, the August one sounded good and Obama was on record at the time saying that he wanted Congress to overturn it because it was discrimintory against gays.

And again, this was the event Josh linked to and I had written about.  And even his link suggested that he was happy that Obama had "finally" done this.  Yet all the same, this is used as proof that Obama is a hypocrite and Josh refuses to back down.  Now, if you want to say that Obama isn't putting enough pressure on Congress to overturn DOMA and DADT, I can understand that.  But all the same, I fail to see how that's a reason to withhold a peace prize from someone.

Continues to spy on peace groups through "fusion centers."

On this one, Josh once again posted to his own blog, which failed to mention "fusion centers" or explain exactly how Obama is spying on peace groups.  So I clicked on the source for that post, which also failed to mention "fusion centers" or explain how Obama is spying on peace groups.  In fact, it actually said that the spy was spying on the military.  And I was confused about that, so Josh had to post another link, which involved a long interview explaining everything.

And here's the recap for you:
The ACLU filed a public information request on behalf of several anarchist groups which wanted to disrupt military operations on a base in Washington state by peacfully preventing military vehicles from being repaired and sent back to Iraq.  An email they uncovered indicated that a member who had joined in 2007 was a spy working for the base.  The leader of one of the groups confronted the spy and says that the spy told them that he was a civilian working on the base and was spying on them, along with other spies.  He insisted that he was pressured to do it, wasn't paid to spy, and only reported to the local police.  And that's it.  That's all they know, with the rest being conjecture.  And from this, we're to know that Obama is fully aware of this operation and approves of it. 

And sure, this was clearly a program from before Obama's presidency and involved a guy who was so low-level that he confessed to everything, including the existence of other spies.  And it certainly appears that the local police assumed these groups were far shadier, as they asked the spy to report about "bombs and explosives and drugs and guns," which would suggest that they thought they were dealing with dangerous terrorist groups.  And again, this was all easily uncovered with a public information request and nothing horrible happened to any of the people involved.

In other words, this sounds on-par with the typical Barney Fife sting operation many small towns operate, and nothing like a major military "fusion center" operation we should all fear; but still, Obama clearly approves, so it's yet another reason he shouldn't have received a peace prize.  Right. 

Supports the growing trend of police militarization

And this last one might be the best.  First, the second link he provided for this was to his own blog and involved overly aggresive police operations, which have nothing to do with the military or Obama.  And this link was provided because...I have no idea.  Apparently, police used to be really nice until recently.  Someone needs to tell that to the 60's

And the first link was to a cellphone video which showed two guys in camo at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh shoving someone into an unmarked car and driving off.  Or so it seemed to my untrained eye.  To Josh, this was a military operation.  After snarking at me for having referred to it as a "shakey video", he writes:
Yes, I do think that a video showing military abducting someone off the street in a protest shows me the military abducting someone off the street in a protest. I'm sorry that because the video is "shaky" it doesn't show you the same thing. I guess the truth will just have to carry a stabilizer from now on. By the way, this isn't disputed. As of a week ago or so, that guy was still being held by the military.
Except, well...none of that was true.  As it turns out, those weren't military troops.  They were G20 security guys who happened to be wearing camo. And he wasn't "abducted."  He was apparently driven fifty feet from the crowd, brought out of the car, and then properly arrested.  Apparently, the security guys didn't want to arrest someone in the middle of a riot.  Go figure.  And he wasn't arrested for protesting, but rather, for vandalism.  And needless to say, he wasn't still being held by the military a week later.  Rather, he was immediately brought to the Allegheny Jail and arraigned, along with the other protesters arrested.  And news of this was posted the day after it happened.

But besides that, this is a clear example of Obama approving of using the military against American citizens, based upon the fact that he was at the summit and didn't complain about it.  And because he didn't complain about military abductions that never occured, he isn't worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.  And again, this is someone who complained that I was too disrespectful, while even now, I consider my response to be understated to the point of comedy gold.

Blinded by Opinion

And these examples were symptomatic of his entire list.  It was all about taking facts, factoids, and anything else he could find and hinting at some nefarious intent on Obama's part, even if he wasn't involved.  And as with this last one, nothing was too ridculous to include and to even suggest that this guy was mistaken was to undermine your credibility.  He saw what he wanted to see and he'd be damned if he let you talk him out of it.

And so he absolutely insisted he saw a military operation, when my initial impression was that there wasn't anything military about this beyond their outfits.  Why would a military operation involve three guys, an unmarked car, and one protester?  That made no sense.  Admittedly, my experience of military operations is limited to what I've seen in television and movies, but all the same, the whole thing struck me as an amatuer group trying to grab one particular guy.  And now we know why.

And sure, maybe all that was a lie and the military really was interested in grabbing one protester and holding him indefinitely.  And maybe Obama's lying about withdrawing from Iraq, and supporting the repeal of DOMA, and maybe the bailout truly was some evil plot to rob American citizens.  But why stop there?  Maybe Ralph Nader is an alien invader, and maybe anarchists really want to destroy America, and maybe Fox News is telling the truth.  That's why belief isn't enough.  That's why opinions are untrustworthy.  That's why we need facts.  And no, it's not good enough to merely link your statement to a fact if that fact doesn't directly support your statement.

Not that opinions and beliefs are inherently wrong, but merely that facts need to be at the basis of those opinions.  And if all you've got supporting your opinions are more opinions, you're going to say a lot of dumb things and be subject to much ridicule.  And for god's sake, make sure that your sources actually say what you think they said.  For as much as this guy insisted that I needed to research all his claims, most of what I found was that he really didn't know what he was talking about.  And no amount of comment moderation will save you from the embarrassment of that.


Josh said...

Dr. Biobrain,

I would have easily published your comment, but then the second half of it is filled with personal insults. I'm sorry that you don't see how these can denigrate the worth of a blog and mar a discussion, but that's not the kind of thing I want my name attached to.

I'm actually just going to respond to what you submitted in last original comment on my blog, although I see you've taken the opportunity to summarize my arguments on your blog.

I haven't read over it in-depth (I really don't have much time for this fruitless rehashing of old issues), but I see you mentioned my comments about DOMA and fusion centers. You didn't respond to either one of these things on my page, so I thought that I had actually penetrated your curtain of willful stubbornness with my arguments.

Just as to the fusion centers, I don't understand what your issue is? I'm sorry you're not aware of these things, but I provided you with four links, I believe, to explain exactly what was going on. I don't understand what your issue is? That you didn't know? If you don't understand why they're a problem, that's something for you and your therapist.

I think the rest of this argument comes down to what you and I find acceptable. You're willing to say "Sure Holder and Rahm might have done or said some bad things, but does that make them so bad? Does that mean they shouldn't be in their positions?" This completely minimizes what they've done, and makes it seem like they will have no effect on the country. I gave 7 examples of the Obama administration being hypocritical on torture. We're do you think those arguments, the legal "justifications" come from?! The DOJ! I'm sorry that you don't see how having a completely unprincipled person at the helm can be a bad thing, but it can.

I've already mentioned how DC vs. Heller was a ridiculous case. And the court agreed with me! I don't understand what points you want me to make. I said it was extreme, totalitarian, and unconstitutional. Well, from what I can tell, the court ruling supports that position. If you want to completely ban individuals, then you have to justify it, because it's your opinion that's out of the norm. Also, you'd have to justify how that provides some sort of protection that our current laws don't already provide.

Good luck on your "Democratic" blog. Come to my blog if you ever want to read the news.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Josh - Wow, way to ignore everything I wrote. Instead, you merely re-asserted your original assertions, and brought up issues we weren't debating (ie, fusion centers and torture), while ignoring issues we WERE debating (ie, spying on peace groups and the "military abduction" of the protester.) As a reminder, you asked me to highlight “outright deceptions,” yet have ignored what I wrote.

So getting back to those deceptions, you still need to respond as to why your original link proved that Obama was “hypocritical” on DOMA, when that link was regarding an August legal brief that suggested you were wrong. And no, citing remarks by Maddow and Dean in regards to the June legal brief doesn’t help your case when we were discussing the August brief that had replaced it.

You could also explain how one amateur spy who confessed and said he only worked with local police is proof that Obama “continues to spy on peace groups through ‘fusion centers.’” And just so you realize, I wasn’t doubting the existence of fusion centers. I was pointing out that your original link didn’t even mention the phrase; which would suggest that it WASN’T a good source for that point.

And will you acknowledge that you were completely wrong about the “military abduction” you imagined you saw in that video?

How about removing your claim of 50,000 troops being in Iraq after “military operations” end, when the proper phrase was that their “combat mission” was ending? And yes, there IS a difference, as they’ll still be doing military operations until 2012, but will have ceased their combat mission in the prior year.

And while this wasn’t one of my “deceptions” claims, what about the “one million Americans” you thought were on the no-fly list? Would you like to post a proper source for the claim that this was one million citizens? I should add that I don’t approve of the no-fly list, but was merely correcting your faulty claim.

Again, you asked me to point out deceptions and these are the ones I picked. Changing the subject only suggests that you’re unable to defend your claims; just as I suggested. Feel free to prove me wrong. Or, you can continue to insult me as a stubborn totalitarian who needs therapy. I don’t mind. Your condescending attitude doesn’t hurt me in the least.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Because this Holder stuff is different from the “deceptions” stuff, I’m putting it in a separate comment. For clarity’s sake, I would prefer to keep this discussion apart from the other one, so we don’t confuse these two issues.

Just so it’s clear on the Heller case: The Supreme Court agreed with you on a 5-4 decision, with ultra-conservatives like Scalia, Roberts, and Alito on your side, and the four liberal justices on the “ridiculous,” “extreme,” and “totalitarian” side. And because Holder agrees with the four liberals on the court, as well as most liberals, he’s a bad person who shouldn’t run the DOJ?

And as a reminder, we’re talking about a guy who worked for the government for over TWO DECADES, and was Deputy Attorney General under Clinton and acting Attorney General until Ashcroft was sworn in. Yet we’re to imagine that representing Chiquita in this one case proves that he’s “completely unprincipled” and tarnishes Obama’s entire presidency? Right.

And no, I DON’T think I’ve minimized what Rahm or Holder did, as I don’t think they did anything wrong. Do I agree with Rahm’s no-fly list gun ban? No. But I don’t believe in punishing people merely for disagreeing with me. And no, you haven’t actually explained why these were such unpardonable sins, other than to assert that it’s true.

And hell, if Chiquita would have paid me big bucks to represent them, I probably would have; assuming they didn’t mind having a non-lawyer making things worse for them. As I keep saying, defending murderers isn’t the same as defending murder. It is immoral to commit immoral acts. It isn’t immoral to give immoral people legal representation. And if you think that it’s wrong to defend guilty people in court, you don’t understand justice.

Law is an amoral profession. It’s not a lawyer’s job to judge guilt or innocence, but to do their best in representing their client. Thus said, lawyers who advise clients in how to commit immoral deeds are most definitely immoral, as they’re helping perpetuate the immorality. But the lawyer who defends their deeds after the fact cannot be held responsible for the deeds. To do so would betray our justice system.

For example, the court-appointed lawyer for Cameron Todd Willingham insists that Willingham was guilty and agreed with the verdict; which would explain why he gave such a crappy defense of Willingham, allowing him to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. He also insisted that most of his clients are “guilty as sin” and tried to convince Willingham’s parents that he was a horrible person. But it’s not a lawyer’s job to only defend innocent people. Our justice system is premised on the idea that everyone is entitled to a proper defense, and that means we shouldn’t punish lawyers for the clients they take.

Am I suggesting that it’s GREAT that Holder made lots of money in private practice before returning to the DOJ? No. Am I suggesting that he’s as principled as a lawyer who only defends poor people, or works for the ACLU? Of course not. But to suggest that because he chose to profit from his profession that this proves he’s “completely unprincipled” is absolutely ridiculous. Again, had he advised Chiquita to pay death squads to kill people, I would totally agree with your position. But helping negotiate their guilty plea just isn’t the same thing.

And finally, attacking my “liberal” credentials is absurd in this debate, as the only “liberal” issue we’ve discussed is gun control and you’re on the conservative side of that one. Overall, I suspect that you’re confusing liberalism with libertarianism. Yes, this is a Democratic blog, but it’s also a liberal blog, as I support liberal issues, like gun control, regulatory oversight, and healthcare reform. I fail to see how I’ve betrayed any liberal principles.

Josh said...

How has Obama been hypocritical on Defense of Marriage?

He said he was going to work to repeal it. He hasn't. The DOJ hasn't sued to challenge its constitutionality. Instead it argues for it using the same arguments for it that the Bush DOJ used.

I don't understand why you're stuck on an August brief vs. June brief. I just looked through my blog for examples. He still did it, and things still haven't changed, not in substance.

"One amateur spy." Like the wikipedia link to fusion centers states, I believe, there are 72 fusion centers in this country. The MIAC report mentioned how one was going after political groups. That's just one that had its internal documents leaked. Watch the Democracy Now story. It's about more than just one 'rogue' military member. It's an entire system. Just do a google search for military integration or something, or military help out police.

The other aspect of police militarization is exactly what I said: police getting military weapons, using more and more force, etc. I saw that you mentioned that video I posted didn't show military abducting someone, and used shoddy, and I mean shoddy, proof to say that those people: a) weren't military, and b) the guy abducted was realized fifty yards away, etc.

a.) You can make the argument they're not military. I don't know. They're wearing military uniforms. I don't know why someone would wear a military uniform if they're not military. They're clearly trying to pass themselves off as military if they're not.

b.) The "proof" that guy was released a few yards down is shoddy. I can't believe you would even consider that adequate. It's from some random blog of a girl who claims to be there, and puts up a picture that doesn't even show the guy's face! It barely shows anything of the person on the ground!

Josh said...

Look, it might be, but even so, as flimsy as that evidence seems to be, it still doesn't change the fact that you've got these people in military uniforms kidnapping people. That was literally the word they use to describe it, kidnapping, and it goes unmentioned by you. Apparently, people dressed in military uniforms can literally kidnap people, and you prefer to use very questionable evidence in my eyes to argue that they're: not military, and the guy wasn't really even abducted. You seem to be missing the forest for the trees!

In the best case scenario, you have absurd security guards dressed in military fatigues abducting someone, handcuffing him 50 yards down the road, then releasing him a few days later, which is itself an example of the police state! How is that tolerable!? How is a peaceful protest allowed to be treated like that!? All these questions go unasked and unanswered by you.

I don't even understand what your distinction between "military operations" and "combat mission." I don't particularly care either.

"Over 1,000,000 entries on the no-fly this." Oh, I'm so sorry. This was such a deliberate deception on my part, when it's exactly how it was described in the story and other stories I had read. You're right that does say 400,000 people, but it was written over 2 years ago (over the two years prior the number had ballooned) and it doesn't account for all the people who have been harassed because their name is the same as someone on there. So, I don't feel a need to amend it since by now 1,000,000 is actually probably closer to the real number of people who have been bothered by it than 400,000. I might change it to entries. I don't know. I'm sure if I really wanted to dig I could bust balls on it just like you're busting balls, but it's not in my interest.

"Holder has worked for the DOJ for over two decades." And how long have Kissinger, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked for the government? You want them back in their old positions?

"I don't think they've done anything wrong. Do I agree with Rahm's no-fly list gun list ban? No." I leave you to tease through that yourself.

"And if Chiquita had paid me big bucks to represent them, I probably would have." Enough said.

Law is not an amoral profession, because we don't live in an amoral world. Everything has moral consequences. It's inescapable. Everyone is definitely entitled to a defense, but that doesn't mean defending them is moral if you don't agree with them. We live in a free enough society that hopefully there will be someone who can take a job because they believe in the client. Otherwise, it's just doing it for the money. That's different from saying people don't deserve a defense attorney who will argue their case to the best of their ability if no one else will represent them.

Look, I'm not having this argument again. I've explained everything. If you choose to understand it, that's your own choice. I can't change your principles, especially when your core principle seems to be: "Stay in the same position. Support Obama."

Doctor Biobrain said...

Josh - I went ahead and posted my reply to your response here:
Delusions of an Obama Hater

And no, it wasn't terribly respectful of you, so you probably better get the hankies ready. You might need to institute comment moderation here, too. Ain't it a shame that you're not allowed to smear public officials in peace? Have I no shame?

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