Sunday, August 29, 2010

The AP Hearts Beckapoolza

To hear the Associated Press tell it, yesterday's Glenn Beck Ego Rally in D.C. is proof positive Tea Party forces are part of an epic movement in American politics which threatens to change the status quo in the next election.  Forget about the fact that these people are actually fighting for the status quo, as it was before the 2008 elections; this is about a revolution.

The article was titled "Beck Rally Signals Election Troubles for Dems," and describes "voter unrest" at this "nonpolitical rally" which they say "illustrated voters' exasperation" at the people in charge.  It described the Tea Party thusly:
The tea party is essentially a loosely organized band of anti-tax, libertarian-leaning political newcomers who are fed up with Washington
Political newcomers?  Is there some sort of evidence of this, besides that this is how these people sometimes describe themselves?  Because I've got another way of describing these people: The same a-holes who hated Bill Clinton, fervently defended George W, and insisted throughout 2008 that Obama was a Muslim traitor socialist who planned to destroy America. 

In other words, they're the sore losers on the far-far-right who attack anyone who attempts to deny them power.  How anyone can look at these people and imagine that they're some sort of bipartisan uprising of recently frustrated voters is absolutely amazing.  That might make a better news story, but it's complete and total fiction. 

When Sarah Palin whips them into an anti-Obama frenzy, it's the same frenzy she whipped them into before her epic defeat in 2008.  Or are we to forget the "paling around with terrorists" stuff and pretend as if these people were somehow fair-minded about Obama before he destroyed America?

Likely Voters Skew Angry

And what did the AP not mention in this story?  That this "voter uprising" was estimated to be a relatively miniscule 87,000 people.  And while that's at least 86,980 more people than I could probably get at a Biobrain rally, in the grand scheme of things, that's not particularly impressive.  I mean, hell, that's only 0.15% of the people who voted for McCain in 2008.  And if 53 million votes won't win them an election, why should we take Beck's angry 87,000 to be some sort of threat?

And overall, one of the big fallacies too many people are making regarding the upcoming election is that angry votes somehow count more than non-angry ones.  That's why the "likely voter" scenarios the pollsters create are skewing Republican, because angry people tell pollsters they're more likely to vote.  But this far ahead of the election, that's still an iffy proposition, no matter how much us politicos want to be able to predict the future.

As a reminder, in August 2008, McCain and Obama were often neck-and-neck.  As Polling Report shows, while some polls of likely voters had Obama in a sizeable lead at this point, CNN had it at 48-49 Obama, well within the margin of error.  In fact, for the first part of September, McCain was winning in more polls than Obama.  It wasn't until October that polls consistently showed Obama with a break-out lead,  Yet Obama went on to win by seven points, a landslide by modern standards.

And that's just to be expected.  I mean, like it or not, even a majority of voters only care enough about politics to start having real opinions once the election approaches.  And the people who have established opinions are going to be the people who are involved, but that really doesn't mean much.  Because again, angry votes don't count more than tepid ones and there will always be more tepid voters than angry ones.

And that means that all this can change by November.  To suggest otherwise is to play silly headgames with ourselves.  The desire for certainty is no assurance that it exists.

Angry Still Angry

And back to the point, Beck's angry 87,000 is much fury about nothing.  These people were angry in 2008, 2006, 2001, 1996, and every other election for the last twenty years.  These aren't political newcomers who have banded together to form a new movement.  This is an angry mob that latched onto a cutsie name to describe themselves, as a way of associating themselves with a history they refuse to understand. 

Them referring to themselves as a Tea Party is just more evidence that they're ego-driven fools who are angry that America isn't designed exactly the way they want it; whatever that is.  As Carpetbagger continues to point out, this "movement" has no real agenda, beyond ambigious goals like freedom, liberty, and truth; without any real comprehension of what those ideas mean or how we can apply them in practice.  And the whole thing falls apart once they actually start trying to say what they're going to do.  They want freedom and power.  Beyond that, it's every jerk for themselves.

But all the same, the AP is in love with the idea that they've got a new story to pimp, so pimp it they will.  Yes, they're angry, but they've always been angry and a small group consisting of less than 1% of angry Republicans isn't going to make a difference in November.  As much as these people can hurt anyone, it's Republicans in Republican primaries who have to worry.  But these people weren't going to vote for Democrats in any case, and their vote isn't any stronger than it was going to be no matter how angry they are.

As I've always said, the Tea Party is a splinter group that is as much a threat to Democrats as Ralph Nader is to Republicans.  Somehow, the media acknowledges Nader as being a thorn in the side of Democrats, yet refuses to understand how the Tea Party plays the same part.  But perhaps that's just because they listen too much to their confused rhetoric, rather than the practical implications of what they're saying.  So far this year, the only people who have been hurt by the Tea Party were conservative Republicans who weren't conservative enough.  I fail to see how that's a threat to anyone else.

The Limits of Obamascare and the Douchebag Strategy

As I've been saying since Republicans made their anti-Obama "strategy" obvious last year, it's all for nothing.  All they were going to be able to achieve with it is to get the people who already hate Obama to continue to hate Obama, while losing any chance of winning over anyone else.  Obama and Democratic fortunes rested almost entirely on the economy, and as much as Republicans might have been able to implement a strategy to win new converts, they threw that right out the window when they decided to reflexively attack everything Obama did.

But that's not to say that Republicans wouldn't have ANY impact on Obama's future, as they could certainly undermine his plans in order to make him less effective.  Sure, they could have more easily done that with bi-partisan negotiating, but they could still have an impact even by attacking everything from the outside. 

And we saw a lot of that with the healthcare debate.  By attacking Obama's healthcare plan, it made it harder for him to get what we needed, and we ended up with an imperfect bill.  But...once the bill passed, it was time to move on.  Especially as their best trick was to attack things that weren't in the bill, which got a lot harder once there was a real bill to talk about.  If anything, it was the unknown that scared most voters, with only diehard Republicans hating the actual bill. 

Yet Republicans once again believed their own hype and imagined they could continue to use "Obamacare" to attack Democrats, even if it meant attacking a bill that would help people and contained lots of popular policies that were already being enacted.

Even Republicans Don't Care

And via Carpetbagger, it looks like we've got some results on this, at least as far as Republican Attorney Generals trying to score points with Republicans.  The end result: Not much.  Not that it can be argued that the anti-Obamacare position hurt these AG's, but it doesn't seem to have done anything.  And remember, these were Republican primaries, yet there wasn't any pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.  General Election results could be a negative, assuming voters even remember.

And that's just not good enough in politics.  You really shouldn't take a high profile stance on an issue unless there's a good chance you can score real points with it.  And had "Obamacare" been filled with Death Panels and other assorted evil-doing, that would have been possible.  But as it was, Republicans were stuck trying to repeal good policies that people support, and you really can't make something your key issue if you can't mention any of the actual details you're attacking.

But Republicans are too dumb to have thought this through.  Their position is to attack Obama as much as possible, and as far as denying him victories, it's worked; though with a huge cost (they currently have no policies or mandate of any kind, beyond denying Obama victories, and are less popular than Democrats).  But once he has his victory, it's time to move on. 

Even among Republicans, they list healthcare reform in their litany of Obama abuses, but they're far more concerned with stopping the next Obama abuse; and aren't going to reward people for repealing the policy battles they already lost.  And in a general election, the results could only get worse.

But of course, their "strategy" had little to do with politics at all.  The reality is that these people opposed everything Obama did because it was the easiest thing for them to do, as it required no actual thinking and was what Limbaugh and the other talking heads told them to do.  Just because your son teases your daughter all the time doesn't necessarily mean he's got some strategy to defeat her.  He might just be a douchebag.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Right to be Offensive

One of the biggest mistakes conservatives make is listening to conservatives. Well, that’s the biggest mistake anyone can make, but generally, it’s only conservatives who are at risk of this. And the reason that’s such a mistake is because conservatives are so results-oriented. It’s not about weighing the options and determining the best position. Conservatives determine what result they’re wanting, and then find ways to rationalize that position. And for as much as that position differs from the one they should have gotten, it’s naturally going to be wrong.

And thus it is with the race issue. Not all conservatives are racist. Far from it. Nor are only white people racist. But…if you’re going to be a white racist, you’re going to be a conservative. It’s simply a conservative position, while the liberal position is to oppose white racism. Not that liberals support any racism, but it’s generally racism from whites that they push back against, as that’s clearly the more serious problem.

And the odd thing about conservative racism is that it was initially the explicit position, with liberals taking the opposite stance. But now, much of conservative racism is actually a pushback against liberal opposition to racism.  As if it's somehow ok to support an offensive position, just as long as you don't like the people who oppose it. And unfortunately for the entire conservative movement, this has pulled even non-racist conservatives onto the racist team; not because they’re racist, but because they oppose all liberalism.  But really, if your position supports racism, then you're a racist, whether or not you personally hate people of other races. 

And conservatives understand this when it comes to terrorism, as anyone who defends Bin Laden's right to kill Americans, ipso facto, is on Bin Laden's team.  Yet somehow, they imagine that they can defend the right to be racist without actually being racist.  But...if your policy forces blacks to the back of the bus, you're just as bad as the people who actually force them there.

It's the Context, Stupid

And this gets me around to my point: Laura Schlessinger and the N-Word. I have no idea if Laura Schlessinger is a racist. For all I know, some of her best friends could be n-words, and they're totally comfortable with her telling them that.  Frankly, the lady totally creeps me out and I never want to know Dr. Laura enough to find out what she really thinks about black people. 

But...her rant about how white people should get to use the n-word certainly would put her on Team Racist.  It's bad enough that she used the word eleven times, but by actually attacking someone who was offended by it, she certainly showed which side she's on.  And unfortunately, far too many conservatives agree that they should have the right to use that word, simply because some black people use it.

And the concept that conservatives are having so much trouble here is context. Context is everything, as it gives people an idea of what you're talking about.  The same words spoken by two different people can have wildly different meanings.  It's assumed that a black person isn't racist against blacks, so if a black person uses the n-word, it's assumed that weren't insulting blacks.  But...if a black person uses the word while insisting that blacks are stupid and lazy, then they'll be attacked just as much as if a white person said it; possibly more.

Similarly, if I, as a white person said “White people really need to be more sensitive towards the feelings of black people,” it’d be different than if Obama said it.  That's just common sense.  And the point isn't that people get to insult people of their own race or that black people get to use certain words white people can't.  It's that the context of the situation tells people what the words mean. 

PC For Me, Not for Thee

Conservatives know this, except for when it comes to them defending their right to insult minorities.  For them, not only do they feel they have the right to insult minorities, but they also feel they have the right to attack anyone who's offended by these insults.  That's what Dr. Laura was doing, as well as anyone else who attacks "political correctness."  Unsurprisingly, they don't seem to feel the same way when people insult Christianity.  It's all fun and games until someone disses Yahweh.

And that's what made Dr. Laura's remarks so wrong.  Not that she was using it directly to insult anyone, but that she was trying to mainstream the word in order to make it so black people should feel ashamed if they're offended by it.  It's like someone reporting a burglary and the police tell them to shut up and stop being so materialistic.  Not only are racists allowed to be racists, but their victims have no right to complain.

For as much as "political correctness" is a horrible thing for conservatives to endure, it really just amounts to basic human kindness.  Just because we have the right to offend people doesn't mean that people should be forced to accept offensive remarks.  If you have the right to make a remark, I have the right to complain about it.  And that's the part of free speech that conservatives have trouble grasping, as they truly want to believe it only applies to them.  Everyone else just needs to learn to shut up and suck it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

When Destroying America is Pro-American

One of the more mind-boggling aspects of conservatives is their insistence that they're not racist, while all the while defending the South's right to secession during the Civil War; as if contining to fight battles for dead racists doesn't reflect badly on you.  Fortunately, many conservatives don't see things this way, but all too many do.  And they'll assure you that their arguments are not in support of slavery, but support for the right of states to leave America.  As if we're to imagine that if California, New York, and Massachussetts chose to leave America to protest the Iraq War, these people would support such claims.

And so I'm reading about how a conservative pollster polled conservative bloggers regarding The 25 Worst Figures In American History, eighteen of which were liberals; most of whom are still living.  Either American history has gotten a whole lot worse in recent years or conservatives have very short memories.  And someone commenting on that noted that none of the people listed were Civil War Confederates, which should be odd, seeing as how the Civil War was surely the most perilous time in our history. 

I mean, imagine if Al Qaeda could even remove one state from the Union, and you can begin to understand why having a bunch of them leave at once might be a problem.  But apparently, it'd only be a problem if terrorists or liberals did such a thing.  But if REAL Americans want to destroy America, it's an American thing to do.  Or something like that.

Hardly Shocking

And here's the comment you've been waiting for, in response to the mention of Confederates as "worst figures."
Hardly shocking since the leaders of the Confederacy simply took their states out the Union as would be presumed since those states voluntarily joined. Their dispute was entirely political over an unfortunate system that was entirely legal in the US until the Union outlawed slavery in the states outside of Union control to avoid a negotiated settlement.
Of course.  They were just exercising their right to end their voluntary cooperation with the other states, so naturally that's not a bad thing for America at all.  But of course, it was.  I mean, even if it can be argued that these states were within their rights to secede (they weren't), that should still put them on the American history shit list.

But no.  Apparently, it's perfectly acceptable to destroy half of America, if you're having a political dispute with a group that won't negotiate.  Oh, and as a correction, in case you needed one: The Union HADN'T outlawed slavery prior to secession.  In fact, seven states had withdrawn from the Union before Lincoln even took office. 

This wasn't a reaction to imperious federalism.  This was a powerplay by people upset that they had lost an election.  (Huh, I wonder why that sounds so familiar.)

Involuntary Contracts

And the big joke is his "voluntarily joined" nonsense.  Just because you voluntarily signed a contract doesn't mean you get to unilaterially get out of it, and there was no provision in the Constitution to withdraw from it.  Once they signed in, they were stuck with it.  And if that wasn't the case, then the states wouldn't have been so wary of joining.  If it had been assumed that they could withdraw whenever they liked, there wouldn't have been a problem.  And hell, if anyone gets into a contract involuntarily, they have more right to invalidate it than if they get into it voluntarily.  I fail to see why it should be assumed that the Constitution has an escape clause.

And the southern states knew that, as their argument for leaving wasn't that their participation was voluntary, but rather, that America had failed to uphold their part of the contract; thus voiding the contract.  And that IS a valid reason to get out of a contract.  You can read South Carolina's Declaration of Secession, which lays out their case that that by creating laws that opposed slavery, Northern states were infringing upon the Southern state's rights by not enforcing slavery in Northern states. 

So basically, if Southern states weren't allowed to subvert laws in Northern states, this somehow violated the rights of Southern states.  And again, this "victimhood by not permitting me to victimize others" somehow rings a bell for me.

I was going to finish this post, but screw it.  I have too many of these unfinished posts lying around, so I figure it's best just to submit it unfinished than to let it die.  You can just fill in the rest by giving a recap of the opening, and imagining that I've tied it all back together with some pithy phrase that shows how stupid it is for conservatives to continue to defend secession.

Oh, and I also forgot to include a section on the second half of his comment, in which he explains that treason by the Confederates is comparable to FDR creating Social Security and regulations.  Yet oddly, Roosevelt really WAS on the list, while no Confederates were.  Conservatives are very weird people.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We're All Illegal Now

Saw the headline: .14th Amendment: Is Birthright Citizenship Really in the Constitution?  And I thought, "uh oh, better get the Maalox."

And I was kind of hoping this would be some sort of slamdunk against the "anti-baby anchor" crowd who insists that illegals are bad because they're illegal, and that applies to their kids born here who are legal.  But no, the article was really just an anti-Birthright fluff piece that didn't really take the topic seriously, which meant giving the anti-immigrant position while glossing over the reality.

And here's the meat in the article, explaining why Birthright Citizenship might not be required of us:
Section 1 of the 14th Amendment begins this way: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

The key phrase here is "subject to the jurisdiction thereof."

Illegal immigrants are not subject to US jurisdiction, in the sense that they cannot be drafted into the US military or tried for treason against the US, said John Eastman, a professor at the Chapman University School of Law, in a media conference call Monday. Their children would share that status, via citizenship in their parents’ nation or nations of birth – and so would not be eligible for a US passport, even if born on US soil, according to Dr. Eastman.
Uhhh, what?  Illegal immigrants aren't subject to US jurisdiction?  Really?  Whose jurisdiction are they under and why do we keep arresting them if they're not in our jurisdiction? 

And...huh?  I thought the whole point to this amendment was to determine who was a citizen.  Yet, this guy's arguing that they're not citizens because they're illegal, and they're illegal because they're...illegal.  Yet, all we'd have to do is make them legal from birth, which is what we currently do, and then they're not only subject to our jurisdiction, but we can also draft them in the military and try them for treason.  In fact, that'd be a great answer to ALL illegals: We make them legal and then they're legal.  I have yet to see some reason why we need to make it so difficult for them to become citizens.

And hell, just as easily this rationale could be used to deny citizenship to ALL of us.  If you can't be a citizen unless you were already a citizen, and you're not a citizen until we determine that you're a citizen, then nobody can be a citizen.  It's that simple.

One Legal Scholar Agrees

Just to show what a joke the article is, the writer says:
Many legal scholars believe that changing the policy would require changing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, on which birthright citizenship is based. But “many” legal scholars is not the same thing as “all.”
Yuk, yuk.  How hilarious.  He found one crazy law professor who said a crazy thing, and that becomes the basis for an entire article.  And even worse, the article has a "Crazy said, Sane said" air about, emphasizing the crazy side yet not labeling it as crazy.  The reality-based position is relegated to the last three paragraphs, and only cites one person making the claim. 

I'm sure this was because the writer really wasn't taking it seriously, and didn't see the need in actually emphasizing the reality-based position.  But still, by treating it seriously and acting like both sides have a valid case, it helps legitimize the crazy position.  And that's absolutely something that real journalism shouldn't do.

BTW, of the things I learned in the comments section there is that 100% of an "anchor babies" don't complete college and 90% don't complete high school, and they're all criminals and drug smugglers.  I also read all about how they're only interested in getting free handouts and stealing our jobs.  But hey, these people aren't racists.  They're just telling it like it is.  Ugh...I really need to learn to avoid Yahoo messageboards.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A-Hole Atheists

Over on Facebook, I've got a "friend" that's an ok guy.  In fact, I only put "friend" in quotes to distinguish him from real friends, as I just don't consider sharing a few thoughts with someone on a website enough to form a true friendship (though I do have a few actual friends online).

And he's part of the atheist community I've found myself in there, which mostly consists of the same sixty or so people who all seem to be friends with one another.  (This guy, for example, has sixty-two friends in common with me; and they're mostly the same sixty-two friends I have in common with the rest of his sixty-two atheist friends.)  And I suppose I don't mind that at all.  Sure, I don't necessarily "like" all of these people, but they're like-minded enough that I don't dislike them; unlike the Facebook bigot I mentioned in my last post.

But of course, one of the big issues I have with many of these atheists is their hardcore anti-Christianity.  Because, I just don't get it.  I mean, why bother?  If someone's set in their beliefs about something, why bother spending your time attacking them for it?  Atheism should be about a lack of religion, not attacks on religion.  Similarly, I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I don't attack the guy either.  And frankly, I don't like how my atheism is besmirched by anti-Christian a-holes who always have to make a point of attacking Christianity, making it so that I'm a bit embarrassed to tell Christians that I'm an atheist, for fear of being lumped in with the anti-Christian atheists. 

Honestly, I'm a live and let live sort of guy and really don't appreciate it when these a-hole atheists screw things up for me and make people assume I'm hostile towards them simply because I don't have a religion.  While I enjoy religious debates, I don't really want to take a side in it and would rather be left out completely if it means anyone's feelings are going to get hurt.  Life's just too short to needlessly make people angry.

Funny Death: Still Not Funny

Now, I should mention that I don't actually find this "friend" to be an a-hole, but really kind of wonder about someone who can read a story about human suffering and immediately make a biting criticism about religion with it.  Specifically, he read a story about someone who was trying to park their car after a church service and accidentally killed two people, and his initial reaction was to write:
god works in mysterious ways huh!

These two were "specially" selected to go to their cloud condo in the SuperMagicLand in the sky! Or...
Uhm...that's disgusting.  I mean, I like making jokes and everything, but see nothing funny about two people dying, whether or not it happened after a church service.  Human suffering just isn't on my comedy menu.  Particularly in this case, as there wasn't anything even remotely ironic or humorous about this.  Not that I ever think it's so great to laugh about someone dying, but this doesn't even approach any sort of joke.  It was just mean.
Senseless Humor
And for what?  What purpose did it serve to mock this senseless death?  Is some Christian going to see this snarky remark about God's mysterious ways and decide that they were wrong about God?  Of course not.  If anything, they'll get upset and get even FIRMER in their belief of God, just to spite the mean atheists who'd mock the death of these two people.  That's just human nature.  You get more flies with honey, and all that.
And I once saw the same thing from another atheist on Facebook, who thought it was clever to point to a Holocaust poster which suggested that God had gone on vacation during that period.  And so they were making a petty joke about a human catastrophe in order to make atheists feel a little more smug about their atheism.  I tried explaining that at the time, but was told that I was being too sensitive, as if it's perfectly ok to score points against Christians by making unfunny jokes about human suffering.  After all, it was just a joke.
And of course, why bother fighting the "mysterious ways" meme?  After all, it's a perfect argument.  All circular logic is.  It simply can't be defeated from the outside, because the arguments support themselves.  And the only criticism of a circular argument is that you can't logically use an argument to support itself.  But Christians don't have that problem, as they have faith, and faith is enough support for anything.  Logical arguments simply can't penetrate something that views logic as a fallacy.
So, why bother?  Why attack people who aren't necessarily doing anything against you?  If someone's doing something that hurts me or stifles my freedom, I'll stand up against that.  But if someone insists upon believing something that doesn't hurt me, I see no reason why I should bother fighting it.  If they're wanting to hear my arguments, that's fine.  I'd love to convert someone who was open to it.  But I see no purpose in feeding a fire that wouldn't hurt me if I leave it alone. 
And I definitely side with someone who'd mourn a senseless death over someone who insists upon using it to score a senseless victory.  Hell, I'd mock a senseless death if it meant I could prevent another.  But even a funny joke isn't a good enough reason to mock human suffering.  And too often, the jokes aren't even funny at all.  Their only purpose is to make us feel smug in our self-righteousness.  And that's just not something I can believe in.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Befriending Bigots

I just read of a story of five guys in England who robbed a convenience store and killed the owner by bludgeoning him with a hammer.  And while the specific implement of death is a bit unusual, this sort of story is all too common.  And now these five guys have been caught and are likely to get the most severe punishment, and so it's a sad story all around.  A familyman shopkeeper suffered a bad death, and five youths who might have done something with their lives have now thrown it all away.

And the story would end there, except one thing...the five guys were Muslim.  And somehow, that changes everything.  And I read about this from a Facebook "friend" who I've slowly been learning is an anti-Muslim bigot who specializes in reposting stories about Muslim evil-doers causing atrocities to non-Muslims.  And that means that any offensive event becomes more fuel on the fire because Muslims are involved.  No longer are these unrelated stories of evil-doing and sadness.  Now, they're all part of the Muslim experience.

(Similarly, a story involving a drunk driver killing a nun would normally be an anti-drunk driving story, but became an anti-immigrant story because an illegal immigrant was involved.)

A Steady Anti-Infidel Diet

Here's the post from my Facebook "friend" that accompanied the link to that story:
According to sharia law in some places, it is likely that these murderers would never be arrested - were these children fed a steady diet of anti-infidel hate speech in their local mosque? How long before this type of crime is no longer prosecuted in the U.K.?
And really??  There is some chance that the UK might make it legal for people to rob and murder if the killers are Muslim?  I mean, I guess I'm not totally current with modern legal theory in England, but I'm really having a hard time believing that such a law has any possibility of getting passed.

And I should mention, the person writing this post doesn't even know if these dudes are Muslim.  They have Muslim names, and from there, it's considered fair to not only assume they're Muslim, but to assume they're hardcore Muslims who only did this because their victim was an infidel.  There are also hints that politically correctness is to blame for the newspaper not highlighting their Muslimness.

But as she said in a later comment, "the article didn't say anything about their mosque, which is why I framed my remark as a question."  And yeah, that changes everything.  Because it was just a question.

No Stereotype Here

When someone wrote that we shouldn't stereotype about these guys just because they had Muslim names, my "friend" responded:
Yes, of course, other than identifying them as Muslim, there is no "stereotype" here - being aware of what ideology might be driving a group of youngsters is not "stereotyping," especially when one knows a great deal about that ideology and its history. Not bringing it up would be egregious - and what would be another reason they could be so heartless? Are they just natural-born killers? So, labeling them as such is fine, so long as we don't blame the ideology that might have driven them!
And yeah, it's not stereotyping Muslims to assume that these guys were trained to kill infidels by their religion, if you know that Muslims are just like that.  It'd be "egregious" to not assume that their religion taught them to be heartless and cruel.  They might have been driven by their ideology, so it's best to assume that that's the case and add it to the pile of Muslim atrocity stories that all normal people collect.

But of course, that's the definition of stereotyping.  I mean, if there was evidence that these guys were hardcore Muslims who were taught that it was ok to kill infidels, that'd be one thing.  But this person is basing her assumptions purely on their names.  She doesn't even know if they're practicing Muslims.  Yet, we should assume they are, because Muslim "ideology and history" shows that to be the likely case. 

And what is the basis of her "great deal" of knowledge" of Muslim's ideology and history?  What else: Fellow bigots who highlight these stories with the emphasis on how Muslims always do violent, horrible things; creating a vast fever swamp of Muslim bashing stories.  Somehow, they fail to grasp how easy it would be to find all the murderers, rapists, and thieves in our prisons who were raised as Christians and pin this on Christianity. 

If the only stories you notice of a certain religion or race are the negative ones, then it's easy to imagine that everyone in those groups are bad people.  But it's not about whether you can find some bad people in a group, but whether those people represent the group as a whole.  And if you focus solely on the negative and insist that these attitudes reflect the group as a whole, while ignoring all the good people in that group, then you're a bigot.  There's simply no other way about it.

Post Script: I confronted this bigot by telling her that she's a bigot and explaining what makes her a bigot (something I've almost never done) and was immediately unfriended.  No argument.  No explanation.  It was over.  And thank god.  While I really did have some slight hope that I might be able to get through to her and convince her to stop hating Muslims, I truly was sickened by her ignorance and hatred, which only grew the more I read her material.

This all happened awhile ago and I never finished this post or another that I wrote about her (which I might post soon), because the topic was so upsetting for me.  I should also add that I have no idea how I became "friends" with her, and had no encounters with her outside of seeing her disgusting bigotry appear on my screen. 

While there are very few "friends" on Facebook that I actually consider to be friends, this person clearly belonged in the "cockroach" category.  I had forgotten all about this until I started looking through my unfinished posts for something to post, and am now quite happy to have gotten rid of this person from my life.  While I generally believe in giving everyone a chance, in hopes of building a bridge between us; there are always exceptions.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Dork Patriots Strike Back

Terrorism is the last refuge of the powerless.  It's what you use if you believe the system is rigged against you and you have no other option for protecting what you value.  But apparently, there's a much safer option if you want to take control of your life by bonding with allies and smiting your enemies: The Internet.

While I've long witnessed conservatives waging hard-fought battles from the confines of their living rooms on websites like RedState and FreeRepublic, where they imagine they're giving liberal traitors a thorough thrashing with their strong rhetoric and truth-loving patriotism; we've now uncovered a new battlefront conservatives have adopted in order to fool themselves into believing that they're actually accomplishing something with their meaningless lives. 

They're now using Digg to popularize conservative stories and depopularize liberal stories, by grouping together and blindly supporting/burying whatever stories their fellow conservative Diggers tell them to support/bury.  And one of the biggest of these groups: The Digg Patriots.

Influencing the Wind by Spitting

And really, the whole thing's just sad.  Seriously sad.  Because these aren't truly dumb people.  They mean well.  They want to have an impact on life.  But, for whatever reason, they're relegated to spending large amounts of time trying to influence the world by clicking on buttons on their computers, as if that's some sort of substitute for actually doing something with their lives. 

And I'm sorry, while I'm a bit unfamiliar with Digg (never having used it), I just can't see how this could have any real impact on things.  I mean, most people don't even read the news, let alone get influenced by it.  Hell, you've got real conservatives making real news every damn day and even THEY have limited success in influencing anything.  And anyone who gets their news from Digg is likely to be someone who already has their mind made up and isn't going to be influenced by the stories they read.  It's the people who DON'T read news every day that you need to influence, and this isn't going to get through to them at all.

Yet, for these conservatives, it's all they've got.  This is their plan to take control of their lives.  And while I'm sure a majority of the Digg Patriots didn't get too absorbed in it, it's quite obvious that many of these people take this VERY seriously. 

The Bozo Patriots

Here are a few choice quotes that Alternet provides:

“The more liberal stories that were buried the better chance conservative stories have to get to the front page. I’ll continue to bury their submissions until they change their ways and become conservatives.”
-phoenixtx (aka vrayz)

Whether I agree with Bjornski, Anamaly100, PhilPerspective, Novenator, JanineWallace, UncaJoe; a couple others I can’t think of right now, I bury `em anyway. *ACTUALLY* each of them has been “dead-on, balls-accurate” (an industry term) at least once in the past week or so, and it sort-of pains me to be dishonest by burying them anyway, but then I remember . . . I’m not up for re-election!

I personally vote for a complete blackout on lib subs: Bury every comment (including the conservatives “helping” to pop the story). No up-votes (no matter how much you agree).

I’ve been permanently banned 4 or 5 times. You gotta make sure you got a month or so between [accounts]. …The libs make a big deal out of start dates on profiles after one of us returns from getting permanently banned. Maybe we should have 10 or 15 identities created so the next time one of us gets a permanent ban we could come back with an identity that was created weeks or months before. Kind of like Jeff came back as Benthedog and they had no clue.
And seriously, whether or not you think gaming Digg is a problem, this is just pathetic.  Because you know these people think they're actually accomplishing something here.  This is their power.  This is their glory.  This is just sad.  Really, there are so many problems to solve and prizes to win in the world, and for these people to waste their time supporting/attacking news all day instead of doing something useful really bothers me on a fundamental level.

But...they've found an outlet for their powerlessness that doesn't involve blowing people up, so I guess I shouldn't complain.  Perhaps we should think about creating covert Digg groups for potential terrorists to join and give them a sense of power to their otherwise impotent lives.  That's all most of them were after anyway.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bad Science Strikes Again

Yes, I've been a huge bum lately and haven't posted anything, and this really isn't much better.  But it's something.  Here's a post I made on Facebook, regarding an experiment that showed that pancreatic cancer cells LOVE fructose.  Enjoy!

While this study is interesting, I definitely have issues with the statement the main researcher made, suggesting that this study means we should act to restrict high fructose corn syrup.
I think this paper has a lot of public health implications. Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back on the amount of high fructose corn syrup in our diets.
A real researcher would naturally be cautious and understand that this one study doesn't prove anything, as that's just not how science works. Science works by building a knowledge base in order to understand why these things are happening. One study, or even a handful of studies, doesn't prove anything. This study is just a building block of science, not an end result which demands immediate action.

The fact that they think we should take active steps based upon one study that didn't explain why this is happening would indicate that the researchers were biased and were attempting to find this exact result, in order to give us this exact conclusion. And that's just a bad way to do science, as it's too easy to devise a study to fit what you're looking for; even if that's not what you're intending to do.

Unfortunately, there's very little pure research done these days, as the easiest way to get funding is to set-out to prove a specific thing. If the sugar industry is funding you, it's because you were attempting to prove that sugar is safe. If an anti-diabetes group funds you, it was because you're proving sugar isn't safe. That's just how it works. That's not to say that these people are necessarily corrupt or anything, it's just that it's a perversion of science. Even well-meaning people can fool themselves into performing bad science, and if these researchers actually imagine that this one study should dictate public policy, they've probably engaged in bad science.

I mean, seriously, if their experiment showed that glucose cells grew more than fructose cells, would they have told us to drink more soda? I don't think so. They got the result they were looking for, and that's never a good thing.