Friday, August 31, 2007

Quote of the day

"Each day he grew older and learned something new." - Solon, speaking of himself in the third person

That might sound like egotistical boasting, but it is apparently true that Solon was one of the wisest political figures in world history .

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The legacy of the CIA

Jim Lippard has been reading Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA and has written a somewhat extensive outline of the agency's work from 1953 - 1961 that is quite informative.

For more on the book, here's an audio interview with the author and the New York Times review.

See no evil, hear no evil, call your political opponent evil

In the post of Dave Neiwert's that I mentioned on Tuesday Mr. Neiwert links to Tim Grieve at Salon who wonders what Sean Hannity would have to say if some left-leaning singer said the sort of comments that Ted Nugent made.

Well, Grieve doesn't have to speculate because, as one of the commenters at Dispatches from the Culture Wars pointed out, on the May 2, 2007 edition of Hannity & Colmes the show featured commentary on Rage Against the Machine lead singer Zach de la Rocha saying on stage that the current administration "should be hung (sic), tried, and shot" for being war criminals. And guess who was one of the guests that was appalled by the comments ... yep, Ted "suck on my machine gun" Nugent.

Now, before I go on let me take a moment and make something clear. I think that calling for the execution of the President (or anyone for that matter) is extremist behavior that deserves to be denounced. At the same time, however, I'm not going to throw away my Rage Against the Machine cds (I've got 'em all), just like I'm not going to throw away my Damn Yankees cds - that's right ... cds ... I own all two albums that were released by that wuss rock supergroup. What bothers me is the double standard and hypocrisy of Sean Hannity who uses incidents like de la Rocha's to demonize his political opponents while defending as harmless the comments of his good friend Nugent.

Again, let me clarify. Double standard and hypocrisy in and of themselves don't upset me all that much. What really gets me is that the double standard and hypocrisy are part of what Neiwert has termed a projection strategy of folks like Coulter, Hannity, Malkin, O'Reilly, et all who demonize their political opponents as extremist thugs while providing cognitive cover for their own extremist ranks which they manage not to ever realize exists by accusing their enemies of what they themselves are guilty of.

As I noted quite awhile back, projection from the right has become such a common
phenomenon that it's now a very useful gauge in guessing where the right is taking us next:

Indeed, one of the lessons I've gleaned from carefully observing the behavior of the American right over the years is that the best indicator of its agenda can be found in the very things of which it accuses the left.
Whether it's sexual improprieties, slander, treason, or unhinged behavior, it doesn't matter: if the right is jumping up and down accusing the left of it, you can bet they're busy engaging in it themselves by an exponential factor of a hundred.

For a long time, I really believed that this was simply the right acting out on its own psychological predisposition. But as it's gathered volume and momentum -- especially as the right has avidly accused the left of the very thuggishness, both rhetorical and real, in which it is increasingly indulging -- a disturbing trend began to emerge:

What is particularly interesting about this kind of projection by conservatives is that it then (as the comments indicate) becomes a pretext for even further eliminationist rhetoric against liberals -- and eventually, for exactly the kind of "acting out" of rhetoric that Van Der Leun foresees from liberals.
In other words, for a number of the right's leading rhetoricians, the projection appears to be perfectly conscious: it is a strategy, designed to marginalize their opposition and open the field to nearly any behavior it chooses.
While I imagine that there are some figures in the conservative movement who consciously make an effort to use such "projections strategy," it seems to me that most do so as a consequence of the arrested mental development that has resulted from their authoritarian mindset. If you remember in Chapter 3 of the The Authoritarians, Altemeyer points out that massive doses of double standard, hypocrisy, and self-blindness are norms of everyday life for authoritarians.

Before we go on to look at the transcript, it might be a good idea to pause to re-read Chapter 3 as it will help provide a framework in which to view the remarkable behavior that we are going to witness in said transcript. In addition, it also applies to the display (also see here) that Greenwald documented in regards to Senator Larry Craig (perhaps more so in regards to compartmentalized thinking). Go ahead, I'll wait ...

Allright, then. Ready to take a look at the transcript? I hate to introduce another digression, but let's take a quick moment and recall Hannity's reaction to Ted Nugent standing on stage with machine guns saying that "piece of shit" Barack Obamana, Hillary Clinton, and Barbara Boxer can suck on them or ride them into the sunset while also stating that Dianne Feinstein is a "worthless whore."

Ok, then. On to the transcript (bolded emphasis of double-standard mine)

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Jane, here's the bigger question. If you say ever that you want to shoot the president of the United States, I view that as a threat. And I think, for that reason alone, that the Secret Service should investigate. Is it right or wrong?

FLEMING: It will be interesting to see if the Secret Service actually does that. Somebody posed that question on a blog. And so we'll see what happens.

HANNITY: But wouldn't you want that? I mean, if it's Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton? No, no, that will never happen.
This is quite remarkable. Nugent threatened shooting Hillary Clinton and yet Hannity violated his own previous remark and didn't care. The self-blindness it takes to accomplish this on national television without being embarrased to the point of quitting one's job is staggering. Yet Hannity has no shame whatsoever. As Neiwert pointed out in his post on this subject, Hannity went so far as to defensively insult Bob Beckel by insinuating that he's somehow more of an outrageous figure that Nugent when Beckel told Hannity that he should never have Nugent on his show again.

But it gets worse.

HANNITY: All right, Ted Nugent, look, I'm with you, Ted, about free speech. And, by the way, welcome back, my friend.

NUGENT: Thank you. We have some lightning here.

HANNITY: But you can't say — you can't threaten the president of the United States. I would think you agree with that.

NUGENT: You think? Yes, you know, we disagreed with a lot of administrations in the past, but none of our rhetoric included, you know, threatening lives. These guys are over the top. But they're lunatic fringe that even your average Democrat liberal doesn't agree with. But, unfortunately, nobody is silencing these guys, or not necessarily silencing, but condemning this outrageous violence that they're recommending.

HANNITY: Look, that's the point. If you threaten the president of the United States, I think that's a pretty — that's over the line. And the bottom line is, this is the president. Ann Coulter, this is the president of our country. You threaten to shoot the president, you're going to get under investigation, and you are going to, perhaps, get arrested. That's a terroristic threat.

COULTER: Right, right. No, and for good reason...
First, you have Nugent for the second time self-righteously pontificating about not engaging in violent rhetoric (the other time - and it's in Neiwert's post - being his response that a blogger who made comments about shooting Rush Limbaugh and Nugent should be arrested). Secondly, you have the queen of mean Coulter aggreeing with Hannity that such people should be investigated and possibly arrested. That's pretty damn bold of Coulter to agree with Hannity about anyone threatening the life of the President needing to be investigated and possibly arrested given that she had previously said that the US needed to decide whether to impeach or assasinate President Bill Clinton.

But even when Colmes pointed this out to Coulter she still managed to be blind to her own hypocrisy.

COLMES: Should you have been investigated when you said about Bill Clinton, "The only issue is whether to impeach or assassinate"? Should you have been investigated for that?

COULTER: No, that was a serious legal point…

COLMES: ... where he should be impeached or assassinated? You should not have been investigated for that?

COULTER: If this were a civilized country, that would be the question.
The worst bit from the transcript, however, is Hannity saying the following:

I would argue this is coming from the Harry Reids and the Democrats in Washington, that it's building an atmosphere where it's acceptable to push this language to the point where now we have bands on stage talking about shooting the president?
A little background info: Rage Against the Machine is a band with left-wing politics that has been super critical of the United States for as long as the group has been together (since the early 90s) and they have a history of romantacizing extremist figures such as Che Guevara and Huey Newton. To suggest that Harry Reid and Congressional Democrats somehow influenced the politics of RATM is 100 percent absurd.

But that doesn't matter, as Hannity is working from the ideological Truth that liberals are Evil the United States must be delivered from, thus the extremist comments of the left-wing de la Rocha are a consequence of moderate centrist figures in Congress not being conservative movement loyalists to President Bush.

Here we have the projection strategy in full effect. Joining in on the fun, Coulter soon after in the transcript states that she's sick of the "both sides" do it response because "liberals" are clearly worse.

Again, it is difficult to wrap one's head around just how detached from reality the comments of Coulter and Hannity are, as they indeed are doing precisely what they are accusing their political opponents of. I could literally do a post the length of my current entire blog front page with nothing of examples of those two demonizing "liberals," but I'm just going to throw out the first examples from the top of my head.

How about Hannity doing a segment on his Sunday show where he equates Hollywood celebs with dictators and ominously names them "Enemy of the State"* which has traditionally been a term used by dictators to target political opponents for elimination or Coulter writing in Godless

Liberals are not demanding that tax payer money be used for research on toenail clipping. That would not advance their governing principle, which is to always kill human life (unless the human life being killed is likely to fly a plane into American skyscrapers, in which case, it is wrong to kill it.)"
Or better yet, how about any of this stuff? How about this, then? Does any of that count against "conservatives"? Of course not, not in Fox News world. In that alternate dimension "conservatives" are Good and "liberals" are Evil and that's that.

Returning to Newiert's post, he mentions that one of the seminal texts of conservative movement projection is Michelle Malkin's Unhinged. I concur, and have written previously about Malkin's bizarro world reaction to Ann Coulter's hate-mongering.

One of the primary reasons that Malkin feels justified in demonizing "liberals" as unhinged is that she receives hate mail. It seems to have never occurred to Mrs. Malkin that figures whom she considers "liberals" might also receive hate mail and that it possibly is typical that public figures - especially polarizing public figures such as herself - get hate mail.

So Malkin gets hate mail and that means "the left" is unhinged. Contrast that with the response of this prominent self-described liberal.

The last time I appeared on C-SPAN I did a call-in show in which I talked about Saturday Night Live and political humor for about half an hour. A few days later, I received this letter:

To the Jew Franken:
I saw you on C-SPAN, and I always knew you were a fag Jew. You fucking faggot. I know you spend all your faggot time on your hands and knees getting fucked in the ass by fellow Jew faggot Barney Frank while you suck off that faggot Gerry Studds.
And I thought to myself, "He could tell all this from one little interview?"
See, the reality is that there are jerks out there across the political spectrum who will respond with hate to people they disagree with. But what the Fox News crowd does is legitimize the hate that is directed towards "liberals" by pretending that it does not exist or that is an abberation when it occurs. They maintain the belief that "liberals" are uniquely unhinged even when their fans send hate mail and death threats and fake anthrax letters to targets of their ire. They maintain these beliefs even when, as in the Greenwald posts that Neiwert links to, one of Malkin's blogroll members calls for the death of Supreme Court justices or provides satellite photos of the home address of an employee of the New York Times.

Yet, in the face of that happening you get someone like Bill O'Reilly telling his audience of millions that Media Matters is dangerous because it is hypothetically capable of doing what his go-to guest host's pet blogs are already doing in actuality.

The program Fox and Friends - which if you can remember the old Will Ferrel Chery Oteri skits about vapid and inane morning programs is like that but with the zombie hosts mindlessly shilling for a political agenda - itself went out of its way to attempt to white-wash Nugent's comments out of existence. If you watch the video clip provided at that link, you'll notice host Greg Kelly saying multiple times that he couldn't tell what Nugent was saying on stage but got the impression that he was angry with Obama and Clinton for some reason. This is difficult to believe given that the audio is plainly understandable; besides that, a transcript is readily available. Kelly is so emphatic about it that one is left with the sneaking suspicion that he was acting on orders from the producers.

To get an idea of how disengenuous all these Fox News folks are, imagine for a moment what would the network's reaction be if Rosie O'Donnell said that Rudy Guliani should suck on a machine gun and that Condoleeza Rice was a whore. Do you think they would buy the defense that she's a comedian? That is after all, the defense that Nugent is giving for his remarks.

No, hell no they wouldn't.

As I've said repeatedly, the self-blindness of these folks is unbelievable. And that's what troubles me. I find myself wondering where the threshold for them is - at what point would they not be able to rationalize anymore double-think. I'm sorry, but if I'm being honest I look at Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh and Malkin and imagine that they could easily become the sort of people that turn into apologists for tyrannical rule, kind of like the characters in It Can't Happen Here who were apologists for the fascist regime of Buzz Windrip who went around saying you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, except instead of saying that they'd be saying the Constitution isn't a suicide pact.

Christopher Hitchens, while appearing with Coulter on Hardball was left with the same impression: "I’m appalled to see what kind of model citizen you’d make in a banana republic, Ms. Coulter. I mean, you’re just saying in advance that your credulity with respect to the president is infinite."

I'm not interested in testing whether or not that is so. Which means that it's vitally important to start building a coalition of people across the political spectrum who are not going to allow democracy to be voted away. I'll give Professor Altemeyer the last word

The biggest problem we have now, in my view, is authoritarianism. It has placed America at one of those historic cross-roads that will profoundly affect the rest of its history, and the future of our planet. The world deserves a much better America than the one it has seen lately. And so do Americans.

So what’s to be done right now? The social dominators and high RWAs presently marshaling their forces for the next election in your county, state and country, are perfectly entitled to do what they’re doing. They have the right to organize, they have the right to proselytize, they have the right to select and work for candidates they like, they have the right to vote, they have the right to make sure folks who agree with them also vote. The late Jerry Falwell declared in 2006, “We absolutely are going to deliver this nation back to God in 2008!”

If the people who are not social dominators and right-wing authoritarians want to have those same rights in the future, they, you, had better do those same things too, now. You do have the right to remain silent, but you’ll do so at everyone’s peril. You can’t sit these elections out and say “Politics is dirty; I’ll not be part of it,” or “Nothing can change the way things are done now.”The social dominators want you to be disgusted with politics, they want you to feel hopeless, they want you out of their way. They want democracy to fail, they want your freedoms stricken, they want equality destroyed as a value, they want to control everything and everybody, they want it all. And they have an army of authoritarian followers marching with the militancy of “that old-time religion” on a crusade that will make it happen, if you let them.

Research shows most people are not in this army. However Americans have, for the most part, been standing on the sidewalk quietly staring at this authoritarian parade as it marches on, becoming more and more dismayed. Polls confirm that the great majority of Americans feel the country has been going in the wrong direction. People know “the room is filling up with smoke,” but most are just watching it happen.

You can watch the authoritarians tear democracy apart, bit by bit, bite by bite. Or you can exercise your rights too, while you still have them, and get just as concerned, active, and giving to protect yourself and your country. If you, and other liberals, other moderates, other conservatives with conscience do, then everything can turn out all right.
*The segment has since been renamed "Enemy of the Week."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time for an adversarial Congress

As Glenn Greenwald noted, with the resignation of Bush loyalist Alberto Gonzales from the position of Attorney General, Congressional Democrats have an opportunity and an obligation to help put an end to the lawlessness of the current administration and change our Department of Justice back into an agency that enforces the laws of this nation as opposed to being a political arm of the White House.

Mr. Greenwald seemed to take it for granted that Republican members of Congress would rubber stamp whatever replacement nominee Bush names, and rightly so, since they most likely will unless Bush nominates a candidate as transparent as Harriet Miers.

But I still have to wonder, is there not some since of civic responsibility left in the Republican Senate? Is there not some small corner of their mind that still cares about American democracy more than partisan political advantage? (and one can even wonder what advantage there is in sticking with such an unpopular president.)

Upon leaving, Gonzales said that, "Public service is honorable and noble. I am profoundly grateful to President Bush for his friendship and for the many opportunities he has given me to serve the American people."

For this torture white-washing political lackey who would be J.P. Morgan's dream come true to say such a thing is an insult and a mockery to public service ... Gonzales never served the American people ... he served as a private vassal to President Bush. That is where his fealty lied, and that is the reason why Bush stood behind him no matter how many times it has been demonstrated that Gonzales lied to Congress about some scandal or another.

Really, what we have seen is the accelerated transformation of government under the "compassionate conservative" rule of President Bush from a democratic system back into a kind of quasi neo-feudal system with federal employees expected to behave as if they are partisans of a Royal court, as evidenced by Gonzales orchestrating the firing of DOJ officials for not being sufficiently loyal to the White House rather than any performace related problems.

Yet as bad as the parting comments of Gonzales were, they are nothing compared to those offered by President Bush

After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision. It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.
How can anyone in Congress - Democrat or Republican - take this hubris from the President? It is clear from these comments that he holds our entire system of government in contempt, that he holds Congress in contempt, and that he holds the American people in contempt.

These are the words not of the highest ranking public servant in the nation, but of a spoiled tyrant, angered that his will is not being carried out to his satisfaction. There was bipartisan frustration in Congress with the lies and politicization of the Justice Department by Gonzales, yet Bush has the audacity to suggest that those who quesiton the corruption of our Executive branch are creating a "harmful distraction" and preventing Gonzales from doing "good work."

What is so insulting about the President's words is that he has absolutely no shame. No matter how corrupt or wrong he is demonstrated to be he still accuses anyone who questions him of being partisan. This President cares not at all what anyone, be it the public, or Congress, or the Judiciary think ... whatever he personally wants is right and anyone who stands in the way of that is just being political. Laws don't matter, the Constitution doesn't matter - nothing matters except that people do what our infallible demi-god-in-Chief George W. Bush wants.

And why shouldn't he think like that? He has lived his whole life getting by on his father's name and wealth and the wealth of family friends. He has had the benefit of a servile Congress for almost the entirety of his presidency no matter how many lies he tells or how many scandals occur (the fraudulent case for war with Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, Katrina, failure to prevent 9/11, NSA spying, DOJ firings, leaking of Plame's identity, billions of dollars gone unaccounted for in Iraq, global warming reports being rewritten by shill for the oil industy, etc.) the President still more of less gets his way and continues to act as if this nation owes him blind allegiance.

This nation's founding fathers held an Enlightenment belief that government could be shaped so as to draw out from man's vices (e.g. ambition, jealousy, pride, lust for power, and such) democratic virtues. But for that to happen those in government must be held accountable for their actions and the system of checks and balances must be maintained.

Perhaps this Congress could benefit from reading what was one of the greatest influences on the founders - Cato's Letters, particularly, #33 "Cautions Against the Natural Encroachment of Power"

Power, without control, appertains to God alone; and no man ought to be trusted with what no man is equal to. In truth there are so many passions, and inconsistencies, and so much selfishness, belonging to human nature, that we can scarce be too much upon our guard against each other. The only security which we can have that men will be honest, is to make it their interest to be honest; and the best defence which we can have against their being knaves, is to make it terrible to them to be knaves. As there are many men wicked in some stations, who would be innocent in others; the best way is to make wickedness unsafe in any station.
Congress needs to make it terrible for President Bush to continue acting like a knave. It's time for an adversarial Congress.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To preserve the union, we must wage war against the liberals (and everyone who doesn't support Bush)

When we last checked in with Mark Noonan, he was musing about how "liberals" don't breed enough to sustain themselves and thus must import other people's kids (Mexicans?) to be brainwashed into liberalism; and was also trying to make up his mind who should be battled and defeated first: Islamofascists or liberals. He believes that these two enemies are "two fires" working towards the destruction of the Judeo-Christian West.

Now Noonan has written that he expects that fighting the Islamofascists (World War IV) will constitute Civil War II here at home.

Over at Orcinus, Dave Neiwert has written a post about this and Ted Nugen't recent machine gun rant. If you click the comments you'll notice that I added some backgroud info.

The post that I mentioned earlier today that is related to authoritarian hypocrisy is actually about Nugent's comments and Hannity's reaction to them, but Neiwert's post works so well as a complimentary piece that I think I'm going to hold mine back 'till tomorrow. Another reason I'm going to hold off on it is that I've got several other posts I think I'm going to put up today. Nevermind, I'm done for today.

The authoritarian mind at work

Read Glenn Greenwald's take on the conservative movement reaction to Senator Larry Craig - who supported the Defense of Marriage Act and favored impeaching Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual relation with his intern - being arrested for soliciting homosexual sex in a bathroom stall to see the authoritarian mind in action.

Glenn's post compliments nicely a post that I'll have up later today on a related subject.

I will say this, though. Setting aside the indignance I have over the rank hypocrisy of this man setting himself up a champion of "family values" while attacking individuals like Bill Clinton for private sexual affairs, I do find this episode somewhat sad.

Its sad that someone would be so determined to deny who they are that they turn their life into a mockery ... into a fraud. Perhaps Craig wouldn't be driven to cheat on his wife by seeking secret sex with men in bathrooms if he just acknowledged that he has an affinity for men. But the conservative Christian worldview he espouses doesn't allow for that, so he has to pretend to be something he's not.

That's just sad.

Update: Commenter El Cid at Greenwald's sums the mental gymnastics of the conservative movement perfectly

Then [when a reporter wrote a story about Craig's homosexual adultery], with an election to win, the Republican idiot machine geared up to denounce such truthful reports of the hypocritically homosexually adulterous Craig because that was what they felt would best help The Right.

Now, with Craig in office, the Republican idiot machine has received the hive-mind command that it is in their best interest to feign disapproval at Craig's bathroom forays.Two months from now they can spin on a dime, change their hive-mind, and come out against any criticism of Craig and no we have never ever said what he did was really that wrong, as long as it seems to advantage The Right.

For The Right, there simply is NO SUCH THING as hypocrisy or irony. None.

What they harshly condemn today they will proudly embody tomorrow. They don't care.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Trivia of the Day

Question: Where did the saying hope springs eternal come from?

Answer: Alexander Pope's Essay on Man (1733)

"Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore.
What future bliss He gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be, blest.
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Secularists are illegal aliens in America

I'm working on some longer posts that I'll be posting this week, but in the meantime I'd like to make sure everyone took a second to read this post by Sara Robinson at Orcinus about a preacher featured in Christiane Amanpour's Gods Warriors who stated that non-fundamentalists aren't real Americans.

She writes

Asserting that non-fundamentalists are "illegal aliens" in their own country -- the one that our own ancestors fought, paid taxes, and worked all their lives to build; or risked everything to get to and start over in -- is a potent statement of that exact kind of purity crusade thinking. It's the same libel Nazis told the Germans about their native Jews: We are something other, something less than, something not-American (and thus potentially treasonous), and perhaps not even quite human. We are not like the good volk of the heartland; we are decadent urban intellectuals who seek to corrupt all that is good. Our very presence desecrates the pure soul of the nation. We have been ejected, in their minds, from the protection of American law and the community of American citizens.

For that reason, we don't belong here; and this country does not belong to us. And, underlying it all, there's the hint of a threat that as soon as the theocrats consolidate their grip on power and finish dismantling those pesky rights (they're oh, so close now), they will be fully justified in putting us behind barbed wire, removing us from "their" country by force, or simply dispatching us on sight like the vermin we are.
Putting aside whatever quibbles one might have about what level of alarmism is appropriate to how close or not Christian nationalists are to achieving their goal (I don't think they're close but I think they're far closer than they should be and also think that its not overt violence that we need to worry about but rather the slow and subtle erorison of democracy), the analysis that such out-group thinking is part of a foundation for totalitarian logic is dead on.

And to further add to that, I'd again reiterate than in pre-Nazi Germany the idea of being a "real" German was inseparable from the notion of being a Christian German; which is part of why it was so easy for so many Germans to see Jews as "aliens" in their midst.

Whistle-blower on war profiteering = terrorist?

In George Bush's America, apparently it does.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Crimes against history

"The most striking difference between the ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, where as the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality. In other words, one destroyed the dignity of human thought where as the modern manipulators of facts stand in the way of the historian. For history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility ... is in danger, whenever facts are no longer held to be part and parcel of the past and present world, and are misused to prove this or that opinion" - Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

"The Denial of Genocide is a form of aggression. It continues the process of genocide. It strives to reshape history in order to rehabilitate the perpetrators and demonize the victims. It prevents healing of the wounds inflicted by genocide. Denying genocide is the final stage of genocide--it murders the dignity of the survivors and destroys the remembrance of the crime. The Turkish government's denial of the Armenian Genocide encourages--by its very nature--the current Neo-Nazi programs that deny the Jewish Holocaust,current Cambodian policies which seek to deny the genocide there in the 1970s,and every other program which seeks to deny genocide; and it threatens the meaning of the genocidal episodes that are currently occurring in Africa and the Balkans. The Turkish government's tactics pave the way for state-sponsored Holocaust and Genocide denial tactics in the future." - Statement issued by scholars and writers in regards to Turkey's efforts to deny the Armenian genocide (h/t Deborah Lipstadt's Blog)

Rush Limbaugh: champion of apartheid

How is it that in this day and age there are millions of Americans who worship this miserable, racist excuse of a human being as some kind of hero?

LIMBAUGH: There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur?
CALLER: Uh, yeah.
LIMBAUGH: It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in trouble.
CALLER: Yes. Yes. The black population.
LIMBAUGH: Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela -- who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.
What kind of cynical bigoted asshole thinks that opposing genocide in Darfur or apartheid in South Africa is a Communist ploy and/or a plot to get black people to vote for Democrats?

This is who key members of this administration run to when they want to get some favorable media coverage. This modern day Father Coughlin.

Truth stranger than fiction

Remember that episode of South Park in which the town is thrown into a fit of hysteria because they're afraid an episode of Family Guy will offend Muslims?

At least 25 newspapers decided not to run today's Opus out of fear of offending Muslims.

First they came for our cartoon penguins ...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No profit in patriotism

From "The Great Iraq Swindle" at Rolling Stone

According to the most reliable ­estimates, we have doled out more than $500 billion for the war, as well as $44 billion for the Iraqi reconstruction effort. And what did America's contractors give us for that money? They built big steaming shit piles, set brand-new trucks on fire, drove back and forth across the desert for no reason at all and dumped bags of nails in ditches. For the most part, nobody at home cared, because war on some level is always a waste. But what happened in Iraq went beyond inefficiency, beyond fraud even. This was about the business of government being corrupted by the profit motive to such an extraordinary degree that now we all have to wonder how we will ever be able to depend on the state to do its job in the future. If catastrophic failure is worth billions, where's the incentive to deliver success? There's no profit in patriotism, no cost-plus angle on common decency. Sixty years after America liberated Europe, those are just words, and words don't pay the bills.
Col. Ted Westhusing - a man who futilely tried to put a stop to such corruption -commit suicide because there was no profit in patriotism. The LA Times reported that a military psychologist told them that Westhusing's flaw was that he "struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war."

No profit in patriotism. It makes me sick to even think it.

And what makes me even sicker is thinking of all the times this administration and/or its defenders have acted as if anything other than blind allegiance to President Bush will result with the United States of America becoming an Islamofascist state.

Especially when stuff like this is the reality.

Pork and waste. Six years after the fall of the Twin Towers, the devastating blow to the Pentagon, and the inspiring courage of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, anti-terrorism funding is an exercise in pork-barrel spending and high-profile projects of dubious value.

He's mad (and damn well should be, i.m.o.)

Via Crooked Timber, John Cole on the Bush administration and the Malkin-sphere

I am firmly convinced it is only going to get worse from this administration and the nutjobs at the Weekly Standard. That is, unfortunately, a given, as we know how low they will go- as low as they possibly can. The only interesting question for me is how far will the lunatic fringe 28% crowd in the blogosphere go? How outrageous will the rhetoric have to get before the Malkins, the Hewitts, and all the rest of them say “Wait a minute- that crosses the line?”

I am betting they will never find a line they will not cross- this is not about Iraq or domestic politics anymore. This isn’t about the soldiers and it isn’t about the prospect of Democracy in Iraq. This is about being “right” in the face of evil leftists. This is about “winning.” This is not about what these policies and this vile rhetoric are doing to this nation and our standing- this is about saving face and their own personal stake in what they have attached themselves to in the course of achieving “victory.” My guess is Bush and his speechwriters and Kristol and those mutants at the Weekly Standard and other rags feel comfortable saying this stuff because they know that out there in the blogosphere and the world there are ample knuckledraggers willing and happy to cover for them.

Sadly, they are probably right. It doesn’t matter what type of filth you churn out- The Powerline will have your back. Remember- the Democrats are worse.


I’m mad. Plain and simple.

I am mad my party has descended into a swirling vortex of madness in which no one is accountable for anything, everyone is a hypocrite, and that no one cares if a policy or position is good or beneficial to the country, but whether or not there is some short term political advantage.

I am mad that the good aspects of the Republican party (respect for individual liberty, the belief in balanced budgets and sensible tax policy, free trade, etc.- you may not agree with those being good aspects, but I thought they were there) have been drowned out and been discredited for the next half century by the ramblings of mad men and religious nuts.

I am mad at myself for not listening to people prior to the war and instead followed this administration and the pigheaded cheerleaders in the press and the blogosphere. I should have known better. Read some of my old posts(pre-2004)- they are truly atrocious and really embarrassing.

I am mad that I defended the indefensible for too long.

I am mad that the Republican party now stands for torture, domestic surveillance, government secrecy, permanent detention, and the imperial presidency.

I am mad that political debate in the Republican party now amounts to little more than calling your opposition traitors and accusing them of treason.

I am mad that for the GOP, admitting a mistake and dealing with it is seen as weak, or cowardly, and that fixing mistakes are less of a priority than winning short-term political victories.

I am mad at a whole host of things, but most of all I am mad at myself. When I look at these folks, the right blogosphere in general, the Hewitts, the Malkins, the Powerline, the NRO, the Weekly Standard in particular, what I see are people who either have not learned a damned thing in the past few years or whose loyalty to a political party is so great that they don’t care.I think a little shrill is warranted, and I think anything less than shrill is not adequate attonement for my past transgressions. These folks need to be stopped. They need to be discredited, the Republican Party needs to be completely and wholly destroyed and built back up from the bottom up.

My only concern regarding the complete destruction of the Republican Party is the chance that the Democrats might become just as arrogant and corrupt as the Republicans are currently. The only thing that assuages these concerns are the historical record of the Democratic Party being the biggest enemy the Democratic party has, and that I have a hard time believing the Democrats can become as bad as the Republicans. They will turn on themselves before it gets to that point.

I know this little rant does not explain the underlying question you were asking, but it might help to explain where I am now politically. I am mad at myself and the GOP, and I think I have every right to be.


And don’t get me started on the gay bashing, the cronyism and hideous appointments to the bureaucracy and the fact that these guys blame EVERYTHING on the “liberal media.”
Welcome to the club, Mr. Cole.

Jesus Christ attacks Fox News

Upon hearing:

  1. Sean Hannity attempt to use his friend Ted Nugent's joke about killing Democrats with a machine gun as evidence that "liberals" are hypocrites
  2. Ann Coulter - author of Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right - suggest during a guest appearance on Hannity & Colmes that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster and then framed it to look like a suicide
  3. Michelle 'my columns appear at VDARE' Malkin while guest hosting the O'Reilly Factor say that New York Times op-ed writer Paul Krugman is "a hate-driven demagogue" and an "open borders extremist."
  4. Bill 'Pat Robertson is a "traditional" American' O'Reilly say that Democrats should not legitimize the KKK/Nazi "hate" of Daily Kos
Jesus Christ, son of God and our Savior (according to Hannity, Coulter, Malkin, and O'Reilly) had this to say in response to them:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
No doubt far left unhinged bombthrower smear merchant moonbat Bush Derangement Sydrome infected Jesus has received some kind of funding from S-P mastermind/international financier George Soros.

Sean Hannity is an unprincipled hypocritical hack

You know, I couldn't care less about what Ted Nugent said (about wanting to kill some prominent Democrats.) I don't take him seriously and think he has a right to be a lunatic and a moron, and even a hypocrite for having previously said that someone who says on the internet that Rush Limbaugh should be shot should be investigated. But everyone who isn't a brain-dead zombie knows that were any "liberal" to say the exact same things about any "conservative" or Republican Sean Hannity would be leading the outrage brigade along with Michelle Malkin and O'Reilly and all the rest while saying how uncivil and unhinged "liberals" are.

Fox News, were it actually a news network, would be embarassed to have such a pathetic minded individual on their pay roll. Yet it is not. In point of fact, this is what it pays Hannity to do.

Sean Hannity is a bigot. The first thing he says to Bob Beckel is "... I see you liberals." That's telling. Hannity doesn't see Bob Beckel, individual. He sees "you liberals".

And as we know, Hannity believes "liberals" are Evil that the United States needs to be delivered from. Which might go a ways towards explaining why he thinks joking about shooting Hillary Clinton with a machine gun is so funny.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Iraq as Vietnam: history repeats

See if this excerpt from The March of Folly doesn't give meaning to the saying that those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Ignorance was not a factor in the American endeavor in Vietnam pursued through five successive presidencies, although it was to become an excuse. Ignorance of country and culture there may have been, but not ignorance of the contra-indications, even the barriers, to achieving the objectives of American policy. All the conditions and reasons precluding a successful outcome were recognized or foreseen at one time or another during the thirty years of our involvement. American intervention was not a progress sucked step by step into an unsuspected quagmire. At no time were policy-makers unaware of the hazards, obstacles and negative developments. American intelligence was adequate, informed observation flowed steadily from the field to the capital, special investigative missions were repeatedly sent out, independent reportage to balance professional optimism - when that prevailed - was never lacking. The folly consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in persistance in the pursuit despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable, and the effect disproportionate to the American interest and eventually damaging to American society, reputation and disposable power in the world.

The question raised is why did the policy-makers close their minds to the evidence and its implications? This is the classic symptom of folly: refusal to draw conclusions from the evidence, addiction to the counter-productive.

President Bush versus reality

Nov. 2002 - An award winning historian writes an op-ed saying that it is unlikely that the United States will be able to do in Iraq what it was able to do in post-war Japan while listing ten key differences between Iraq and Japan.

Aug. 2007 - President Bush cites said historian as evidence that we can build a democracy in Iraq.

Historian responds (via Think Progress).

They [war supporters] keep on doing this. They keep on hitting it and hitting it and hitting it and it’s always more and more implausible, strange and in a fantasy world. They’re desperately groping for a historical analogy, and their uses of history are really perverse. … I have always said as a historian that the use of Japan [in arguing for the likelihood of successfully bringing democracy to Iraq] is a misuse of history.
I'd certainly say this qualifies for the designation wooden-headedness ... the intellectual bankruptcy of our President could not be on fuller display.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The original Kid Nation

The clip ends too soon. What happens next is that Jamie Kennedy asks if any parents are willing to let their kids go on the program at which point several raise their hands.

Edit - Oops. This might make more sense if I link to this article. (h/t ERV)

Children who participated in “Kid Nation,” a CBS reality show that has come under fire over questions of whether it violated child safety and labor laws, were required to do whatever they were told by the show’s producers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or risk expulsion from the show, according to a copy of the contract signed by the children and their parents.


The 22-page agreement leaves little room for parents to argue that they did not know what their children might encounter. As is standard in such agreements, the parents and the children agreed not to hold the producers and CBS responsible if their children died or were injured, if they received inadequate medical care, or if their housing was unsafe and caused injury.

But while such agreements might be standard for adult participants in a reality show, it also takes on a different tone when the minor and the parent are being held
solely responsible for any “emotional distress, illness, sexually transmitted diseases, H.I.V. and pregnancy” that might occur if the child “chooses to enter into an intimate relationship of any nature with another participant or any other person.”

The March of Bush

In honor of President Bush saying that the Vietnam war teaches us that we must blindly accept his Iraq war decisions and forever I went out and got a copy of The March of Folly by historian Barbara Tuchman, and will be blogging bits of it as I go along in order to help draw out the Iraq-Vietnam comparison for the President.

To get an idea of how easily the Bush administration would fit into the book (and no doubt would be included if the book were written today) take a look at this

Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts. It is epitomized in a historian's statement about Philip II of Spain, the surpassing wooden-head of all sovereigns: "No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence."
Hm, that sounds vaguely familiar.

Bush is fixated on Iraq, according to friends and advisers. One former aide went to see him recently to discuss various matters, only to find Bush turning the conversation back to Iraq again and again. He recognizes that his presidency hinges on whether Iraq can be turned around in 18 months. "Nothing matters except the war," said one person close to Bush. "That's all that matters. The whole thing rides on that."

And yet Bush does not come across like a man lamenting his plight. In public and in private, according to intimates, he exhibits an inexorable upbeat energy that defies the political storms. Even when he convenes philosophical discussions with scholars, he avoids second-guessing his actions. He still acts as if he were master of the universe, even if the rest of Washington no longer sees him that way.

"You don't get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker," said Irwin M. Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who was part of one group of scholars who met with Bush. "This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can't tell you which."

Baleful quote of the day

"[T]he Chief Executive will on occasion feel duty bound to assert monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit him to exceed the laws." - 1987 Congressional minority report on the Iran-Contra scandal

Guess who was one of the Congressional champions of this view. Vice President Dick Cheney.

To the Americans who somehow have managed to forget, this nation happens to have been founded as a result of colonial Americans explicitly rejecting the notion of a chief executive exercising his monarchical prerogative to exceed the laws.

Triple H for President

Karl Rove said the following during his appearance on Rush Limbaugh's radio show:

"The people that I see criticizing [President Bush] are the sort of elite, effete snobs who can't hold a candle to this guy [intellectually.]"

Translating that out of movement conservative speak, Rove is saying that Bush critics are "liberals," which is to say, that Bush critics are girly sissy men/borderline homosexuals (see the applause Coulter got when she called John Edwards a "faggot" at CPAC) who are also pseudo intellectuals.

Conservative movement morons who have had their brains rotted out by listening to too much Rush Limbaugh and co. propaganda eat up this kind of stuff. Case in point.

Limbaugh himself calls "liberals" Newcastrati and has a habit of speaking in a lispy, high-pitched effiminate voice whenever he impersonates a "liberal."

Ah, don't you just love it? Fat, pasty,middle-aged self-admitted nerd who couldn't get a girl and who has never played a sport and has never set foot in a gym in his life and dodged the Vietnam draft Karl Rove talking about the "effete" Bush critics with fat, out of shape, draft dodging idiot Rush Limbaugh who thinks carrots are deadlier than cigarettes. I, for one, know when I think of manliness - I think of Limbaugh and Rove and our ex-cheerleader* ivy league educated rich boy draft dodging legacy President.

And then the elite-ness of the critics. Yep, the 70% elite of the country that disapproves of the President.

The buzz in the Rush-Hannity-Drudge axis of the noise machine is that John Edwards looks like too much of a sissy to be President (Rush calls him the "Breck girl.") That if he was our President terrorists would be emboldened to attack us because Edwards doesn't look tough enough.

Of course, in conservative movement world, "toughness" is a function of performance. Its being able to act like you're tough and being willing to send other people to act tough for you. However, its not just the Limbaughs and Roves of the political pundit class that worships this kind "manliness" - witness Chris Mathews drooling over proffesional actor Fred Thompson.

Which is why I think Triple H will make the perfect conservative movement presidential candidate of the United States of America. I mean, just watch the video below. It doesn't get more manly than that! Plus, its acting so its just the kind of imaginary fantasy manliness that seems to be popular. What about his politics?, you ask. Well, he's conservative obviously. I mean, just look at how manly he looks - by definition he must be conservative. Just ask Ann Coulter.

Sure, he might not have have that much experience ... but all you need to do is stack his cabinet with war-mongering ideologues from AEI and PNAC who hate liberal democracy and set-him up with Karl Rove - the greatest political mind to ever live - and you've got the makings of the greatest American President in the history of the universe. And just look at him - there's no way in hell any terrorist attacks would happen on his watch ... the terrorists would be too scared of getting put in a Pedigree (the finishing move you see in the video.) Plus, he's already got his own conservative manly kick ass theme music that would be a perfect replacement to Hail to the Chief.

*Actually, I don't think being a cheerleader in college is an aspersion on anyone's "manliness" but you know good and well that if any Democrat was a former male cheerleader the likes of Rove and Limbaugh would be using that information to characterize said Democrat as an effiminate sissy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Corrupting democracy

Its tedious to have to say over and over again that the Bush administration has used the American federal government as a spoils system to reward its campaign financers at the expense of American democracy.

With the recent focus on mining disasters we witness another example of that process in action, as highlighted by Mr. Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. As it turns out, Richard Stickler, the former mining executive chosen by President Bush to head the Mining Safety and Health Administration, had a history of running unsafe mines and was rejected twice by the Senate, at which point Bush got him the job via recess appointment.

Take it away, Ed.

So not only do we have a guy with a terrible safety record in mine safety running the government's mine safety program, but he was snuck in to the job after being rejected by the Senate not once but twice. Bush went out of his way to appoint someone clearly unqualified, someone rejected twice by a Republican-controlled Senate, when it would have been easier - and obviously better for the country - to find someone who was qualified to pass the Senate confirmation.

The arrogance of this administration never ceases to amaze me. They really do seem to think that they are omniscient and omnipotent, that there's no possible way they could ever be wrong about anything. Even when faced with his own party's rejection of a nominee who is clearly unqualified for the job, does it even occur to them that perhaps they should change course and find another person for the job? Of course not. They just wait until Congress leaves town and slide them in under the radar. Staggering arrogance.
Hey, it's par for the course.

Impeach him now before he can do anymore damage

I'm with Bruce Fein ... President Bush needs to be impeached. Not only is he lawless ... he's delusional. Those two don't mix well.

The LA Times reports that President Bush believes that Vietnam teaches us that we can't withdraw troops from Iraq. First, consider that the administration has been saying for years now that Iraq isn't Vietnam but is now saying that Iraq IS Vietnam. Then, after that sinks in, consider the insanity of using that comparison to say we should stay in Iraq.

Yes, the withdrawal from Vietnam was painful and difficult. That was the price that had to be paid for our mission failure. We will eventually have to pay a similar price in Iraq, as military historian Martin van Creveld already pointed out about three years ago.

Maybe instead of inviting talk radio hosts who are as disconnected from reality as he is to the White House the President should spend some time with a real student of history like maybe Barbara Tuchman.

For more commentary on our President's craziness, see Joshua Marshall.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Battling not with monsters

At Discover, social psychologist Philip Zimbardo draws parallels between the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib and the Stanford Prisoner Experiment (also see here) he designed and ran back in '71 and warns us to avoid the situational factors that dehumanize not just "the enemy" but ourselves.

A blog recommendation (with the quote of the day)

I originally found this blog (in another incarnation) from a comment left here in response to a post I wrote about the history of life but had quit reading while I was gone from blogging. I remembered the blog today and did a track back to add it back into my bookmarks and see that the quality of the blogging is still there but the site has been upgraded with a cool new name and a great new quote ... I'm a sucker for that intro format I guess ...

So here it is:

The Infinite Sphere

"Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere." - Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670)

As you might be able to guess from the quote, it's a nature blog.

TV reminder

Christiane Amanpour's 6 hour documentary - God's Warriors - about political religious extremism begins tonight at 9 PM (ET) on CNN.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pitfalls of procrastination

I've been meaning for a good while now to write a review of The Assault on Reason by Al Gore. I've actually already got a couple of pages done but haven't gotten around to finalizing it.

Now I see that Michelle Goldberg has already beat me to the punch and used Gore's new book as a jumping off point about the postmodernism/nihilistic relativism of the conservative movement (which I had intended to do myself.)

With the indispensable help of the [Christian Nationalist] movement I'm talking about, the Right has created a climate in which the popular understanding of empirical reality is subject to political pressure, and in which the findings of science are trumped by ideology. The Right likes to rant on about postmodernism and relativism. But really, theirs is the ultimate relativistic movement, claiming that there is no reality, that nothing can be known, and that everything is a function of power.

In her seminal book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Hannah Arendt writes:

Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lives, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of the man who can fabricate it.
Although I'm certainly not comparing Christian nationalism or the current administration to the Nazis or to Stalin, they do share elements of totalitarian movements in their embryonic stages; the first step in the erosion of a liberal democracy is often this kind of subversion of truth combined with the creation of an alternative reality and an attempt to impose this alternative reality on everyone.
Of course, the movement uses Newspeak to code its assault on reality. It calls its reality revision "politcally incorrect" in an Orwellian effort to depict truth and factuality as matters of p.c. (read: liberal) orthodoxy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

O'Reilly's inverted reality

I've already written at length about the way that Bill O'Reilly inverts reality by projecting onto his enemies the character traits of the extremists that he himself pals around with and transmits the ideas of, so consider this post part of the ongoing appendix that is the hypocrisy of O'Reilly demanding that anyone not legitimize by associating with or appearing at any function of the alleged KKK/Nazi style "hate" of Daily Kos.

In this instance of double standard, it has come to my attention that O'Reilly Factor guest (see here, here, and here) Tony Perkins - head of the James Dobson associated Family Research Council - purchased the mailing list of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke in 1996 for over 80,000 dollars and in 2001 Perkins addressed the Lousiana chapter of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.

Because it bothers O'Reilly

"Akshon (Yeah!)" by Killer Mike

I know how much Bill can't stand "vile" rap.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

About the brain

At Discover magazine, 10 Unsolved Mysteries Of The Brain

Of all the objects in the universe, the human brain is the most complex: There are as many neurons in the brain as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. So it is no surprise that, ­despite the glow from recent advances in the science of the brain and mind, we still find ourselves squinting in the dark somewhat. But we are at least beginning to grasp the crucial mysteries of neuroscience and starting to make headway in addressing them. Even partial answers to these 10 questions could restructure our understanding of the roughly three-pound mass of gray and white matter that defines who we are.
Physics had its Newton, quantum mechanic its Einstein, biology its Darwin, and genetics its Crick, Watson, and Franklin but neuroscience has yet to have such a tipping point style revolution. Click the link to check ten of the most pressing question in cognitive science.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is Melanie Morgan psycho?

You tell me.

"Jon Soltz is acting like a cockroach, frantically scurrying from the spotlight of truth that's shining on him.

Does anyone have a can of bug spray handy?"

That's one quasi call for Jon Soltz's death. For more on his "crime", see this bit from Media Matters.

"Jon Soltz is still a hypocritical cockroach. He needs to be stomped on and neutralized before he and his ilk can silence military support for the mission in Iraq."

And that's two.

Hm. Calling your political opponents cockroaches and asking for them to be stomped out ... now where have I heard that before ...

Oh yeah! I remember.

"You cockroaches must know you are made of flesh. We won't let you kill. We will kill you" - a Hutu Rwandan radio station

Update: I see that I'm not the only one to make the Radio Rwanda comparison. Spocko - the blogger who has been documenting the extremism of Morgan and her KSFO radio pals - noticed the liberals are cockroaches theme of Morgan back in last December. From an audio clip provided by Spocko of a KSFO broadcast

"A cockroach will live nine days without its head before it starves to death"

"That's nothing compared to liberals."

[Everyone yucks it up, Morgan can be heard laughing louder than anyone else.]
Again, this sounds vaguely familiar ...

"We began by saying that a cockroach cannot give birth to a butterfly. It is true. A cockroach gives birth to another cockroach […] The history of Rwanda show us clearly that a Tutsi stays always exactly the same that he has never changed. The malice, the evil are just as we knew them in the history of our country. We are not wrong in saying that a cockroach gives birth to another cockroach." - Hutu newspaper Kangura (March 1993)

Color me not surprised

Walter Williams, the economics professor who alleged that subjects of a study ate 32 ounces of DDT a day for a year and a half and had no negative health consequences (a 1979 World Health Organization study found that a single dose of 1/20 an ounce has toxic effects in humans) will be guest hosting the Rush Limbaugh radio program on August 24. Imagine that.

I also noticed that Williams is the recipient of the John M. Olin Distinguished Professorship grant. For those not aware, the Olin Foundation is one of the chief underwriters of the conservative movement.

Also, Williams has been named as a potential vice presidential candidate by the ultra-ideological libertarian/John Birch Society fan/New World Order conspiracist/Patriot movement sympathist presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two pounds of DDT a day, will keep the doctor away

Speaking of ideological thinking ...

Yesterday, I hear Rush Limbaugh saying carrots are more deadly than second hand smoke and today I come across this post at Deltoid about a column at Townhall in which the author states that volunteers in a study ate TWO POUNDS of DDT a day for a year and a half and suffered no ill effects.

Those that bear false witness and the false witness that they bear

Via Ed Brayton, here's the most dishonest quote-mining I've ever encountered:

"Religion is the basis and foundation of government" - James Madison

Christian fundamentalist Stephen Mansfield cites that in his new book, which is his contribution to the Dominionist cause of rewriting American history in order to lay the ideological foundations for the replacement of our secular liberal democracy with theocracy.

Mansfield took that "quote" from "Memorial and Remonstrance"; he doctored the following passage to get the above lie.

Because finally, "the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his Religion according to the dictates of conscience" is held by the same tenure with all his other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consider the "Declaration of those rights which pertain to the good people of Virginia, as the basis and foundation of government," it is enumerated with equal solemnity, or rather studied emphasis."
No matter how many times one comes across such dishonesty it still ceases to amaze. Among his other lies (and Chris Rodda - the one who found them in the first place - plans on documenting them further) is that Thomas Jefferson wanted the Bible to be part of the curriculum at the University of Virginia. That is the opposite of the reality ... Jefferson established the University of Virginia as one of (if not the, too lazy to look it up at the moment) first secular colleges in America.

Over at Deborah Lipstadt's blog I remarked in her comments section that

What I find interesting is the commonality in methodology ... the quote-mining, the selective use of facts or figures, the emphasis on minor flaws or corrections as if they constitute major challenges to an overall truth, the fabricated "facts", starting from "The Truth" and then revising reality accordingly etc. - of ideological thinking.
That was in response to this post about David Irving stating that Professor Lipstadt is wanted in the UK because some kind of judgement has been passed against her.

Irving has inverted reality similar to what Manfield did with Jefferson. In reality, Irving had sued Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier and lost that case because he IS a Holocaust denier. There are no judgements against Lipstadt, at all.

What you see in both Irving and Mansfield is reality subjugated to ideology.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Deadly stupid

On today's Rush Limbaugh program he was saying that carrots are more deadly than cigarettes or trans fats. Rush's incoherent ramble about carrots came after he had said that second hand smoke being dangerous is "a hoax like global warming." Someone better run and go tell the CDC.

To borrow (and paraphrase) a phrase from Glenn Greenwald, it's things like this that make me despise, rather than merely dislike, Rush Limbaugh.

Assserting that cigarettes or second smoke or trans fats aren't dangerous is inexecusably stupid. There are millions of people that listen to Rush and call themselves "dittoheads" because they take his bullshit seriously. He is sabotaging their health. It is a grave betrayal of trust and responsibility. They should be furious, but instead they love him for it.

This is Rush continuing his long history of helping to get his audience sick or dead.

"It has not been proven that nicotine is addictive, the same with cigarettes causing emphysema [and other diseases]." - Limbaugh, (4-29-94 radio program)

The father of modern philosophy

From Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius by A.C. Grayling

Part of the contribution made by Descartes’ Discourse was to restore human reason to a status which allowed it to address questions until then regarded by religious orthodoxy as dangerous. In this respect Descartes is to the modern world what Thales, the so-called “Father of Philosophy,” was to the ancient world. The comparison is an illuminating one. Thales asked questions about the nature and origins of the world, and formulated answers that relied solely on reason and observation, making no ancient scriptures. He assumed that the world is a place that makes sense, and that the human mind is capable of understanding it. His example unleashed a brilliant epoch of free thought in classical antiquity, which gave birth to the Western tradition.

What Thales achieved for the human mind in ancient times, Descartes contributed to achieving for the human mind at the beginning of the modern age. He is therefore sometimes aptly described as the “Father of Modern Philosophy” to mark the comparison. He played a key role in helping to rescue enquiry about sublunary things from the stifling and long-frozen grip of religious authority. He did it not by rejecting that authority, for by his own testimony he was a devout Catholic all his life, but by separating things of heaven from things of earth, so that scientific reason could investigate the latter without anxieties over orthodoxy. This left the things of heaven untouched and unthreatened – so Descartes thought and hoped – by what scientific enquiry discovered.

Brain teaser

"You find yourself sitting next to a stranger on a plane. The following dialogue occurs:

You: 'How many children do you have?'
She: 'Two.'
You:'Is at least one of them a boy?'
She: 'Yes.'

What is the probality that both are boys?"
- Martin Gardner, quoting himself in Weird Water & Fuzzy Logic*

To see the answer, scroll and highlight the hidden text at the bottom of this post (or select highlight all.)

*Gotta love a library book sale. I got a "used" hardcover copy of this for a dollar. I put quotes around used because although the book is wrapped and marked like a library book it's in mint condition and even has that new book smell ... I doubt it was ever checked out.

The intuitive answer is 50%. That's wrong though. Think of it like this:

The woman has two kids ... call them K1 and K2. According to her answers, there are the following possibilities that fit:

K1 - male, K2 - male
K1 -male, K2 - female
K1 - female, K2 male

This means there is a 1 in 3 chance that both are boys - the answer is thus 33%.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stupid question

"Where are all the atheist hospitals in this country?" - Rep. Bill Salli

There are none, as atheists don't believe in hospitals. It's a well known fact that if it weren't for conservative Christians there wouldn't be any medical care at all in the United States of America.

Salli also apparently thinks our national motto is E pluribus, Christian theocracy.

80s Video of the Day

"True Faith" by New Order

Monday, August 13, 2007

Quote of the day

"America, even if it shifts to the left, will still be a conservative force on the international stage. Mrs Clinton might be portrayed as a communist on talk radio in Kansas, but set her alongside France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's David Cameron or any other supposed European conservative, and on virtually every significant issue Mrs Clinton is the more right-wing. She also mentions God more often than the average European bishop." - The Economist

Not just talk radio in Kansas - talk radio pretty much everywhere in America portrays Hillary Clinton as a communist (or a "fascist socialist" ala Neil Boortz or Mr. "liberal fascism" Jonah Goldberg.) Nevermind the religious right elements that literally believe she's an agent of Satan.

More on 1934

Tim Lambert at his Deltoid blog has more commentary over the nonsense surrounding NASA's revised temperatures for the continental United States.

One thing that I find interesting about this story - from a purely sociologial perspective - is that you can step back and clearly see how the mind of the bullshitter constructs an untruth. Recall that Harry Frankfurt wrote that the bullshitter totally disregards facts and will either pick them out to suit his purposes or will make things up to do the same without ever really caring to know what is true or not.

Now think of that in the context of the revised temperatures. For the planet, 2005 (followed by: 1998, 2002, 2003, and 2004) is the warmest year on record, so how do you make a big deal about the newly modified temperatures which do not change that fact? You seize upon the fact that 1998 went from being the warmest year on record in the states by .01 degrees to be the second warmest by .02 degrees and fail to make a distinction between "warmest year on record" for the planet and "warmest year on record" for the continguous American states while concimitantly failing to mention the trivial difference in temperatures between '98 and '34.

If you go back and look at my original post with the link to the Rush Limbaugh transcript you can see him saying that 1998 is the "warmest year on record" is one of the "central theses" of global warming. Yet, as I've already mentioned, its been known for over a year that 2005 is the hottest temperature on record, but what's more, NASA never hyped the 1998 vs. 1934 difference in the first place, as Lambert explains

Because the 1998 and 1934 numbers were so close, minor adjustments could easily change their ordering. This is what happened with the GISS numbers released this year. In that data set, 1998 was a tiny amount warmer than 1934. This change was not much ballyhooed. Nor was it a little ballyhooed. In fact, it wasn't mentioned by anyone at all. Because it didn't matter. When the data correction made 1998 and 1934 flip back, this change was much-ballyhooed by Steve McIntyre, even though he knew that it didn't matter.
Exactly. The "global warming is a hoax/fraud" crowd seem to have the same bad mental habits that creationists have, including quote-mining, but especially in the tendency to seize at any error or flaw possible as proof that the entire edifice upon which a science rests is faulty. They are quite inable or unwilling to see the forrest for the trees.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Jason Bourne, communist

O'Reilly does movie reviews (of movies he doesn't seem to have actually viewed.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Can we send them to the Gaede home?

After watching the documentary on the white nationalist pop twins I needed to watch something to counter the vileness of the hate the girls are being brainwashed with. If only it was this easy.

Dictator Robert Mugabe reduces civil liberty, cites U.S. example

An alternative title to this post could have been Worst American President Ever Watch. Here's the link about Mugabe.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Testing the 30 Second Rule

The 30 Second Rule: You can tune into Rush Limbaugh's radio program randomly and if he's not already in the process of lying, he'll be lying within 30 seconds.

As I've said before, I've been testing this rule for almost a year now, and I've yet to see it fail. Yesterday I got in my car and turned the radio to Limbaugh. He was in the process of saying that global warming is a hoax and that one of the "central theses" of the hoax - that 1998 was the hottest year on record - has been refuted by mining executive (gee, what a surprise) Steve McIntyre. Here's the transcript.

If you look at the transcript, the place where I stopped listening was at the first break in said transcript - that's about all the Rush I can stomach at a time. But that was enough for me to assume that it was more typical Rush bullshit, and I felt no need to bother looking into it any further.

So today as I'm doing my blog surfing I see that the usual idiot blogs are in a fury over this story. This time I took an additional couple of minutes and looked into the story enough to see that NASA had indeed revised some of its temperature figures. Yet, I was still certain that the story was being over-hyped, especially since I noticed that the revised temp's were just for the United States and not for the entire planet.

Next I checked around the 'net to see if I could find any commentary from anyone who wasn't a global warming denialist ideologue. I couldn't find any, so I e-mailed science journalist James Hrynyshyn about it.

Here's his response. Yep, the 30 Second Rule remains intact.

Sadly, though, some damage has already been done, as you can tell by the Update to Hrynsyhyn's post. Like Alonzo said, it's depressing that its so easy (and even profitable) to lie to the public.

Update: To really get a visual depiction of just how disingenuous (and/or stupid) the exxagerated outrage over the revised temperatures is, take a look at the graphs in this post at Deltoid.

And the award for Worst Mother Ever goes to ...

April Gaede*

*Note for Michelle Malkin - The award for Worst Mother Ever is to be taken figuratively. The Daily Doubter does not literally mean that April Gaede has objectively been identified as the worst mother in the history of the human race (although we - as in I - do believe she is a horrible, horrible mother). I know that you have difficulty understanding this distinction, e.g.
And unhinged propagandist Keith Olbermann misleads whatever viewers he has and names me the World’s Worst Person of the day (click link for video - .WMV file)…on a day when a Palestianian suicide bomber committed a bloody, brutal act of terrorism against innocent civilians at a Tel Aviv restaurant and Hamas officials rallied behind the carnage.
Yet I'm confident you can make the distinction, as evidenced by you calling the student protesters of the Minute Men at Columbia University "monsters"on The O'Reilly Factor.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Book excerpt of the day

From Robots and Empire, by Isaac Asimov

"... Woman, don't speak of kinship to us. You are no kin of mine. You are of those who persecuted and tried to destroy us when you were strong and who come whining to us when you are weak."

There was a stir in the audience - and by no means a friendly one - but Bistervan held his ground firmly.

Gladia said softly, "Do you remember the evil we did when we were strong?"

Bistervan said, "Don't fear that we will forget. It is in our minds every day."

"Good! Because now you know what to avoid. You have learned that when the strong oppress the weak, that is wrong. Therefore, when the table turns and when you are strong and we are weak, you will not be oppressive."

"Ah, yes. I have heard the argument. When you were strong, you never heard of morality, but now that you are weak, you preach it earnestly."

"In your case, though, when you were weak, you knew all about morality and were appalled by the behavior of the strong - and now that you are strong, you forget morality. Surely, it is better that the immoral learn morality through adversity than the moral forget morality in prosperity."

"We will give what we received," said Bistervan, holding up his clenched fist.

"You should give what you would have liked to receive," said Gladia, holding out her arms, as though embracing. "Since everyone can think of some past injustice to avenge, what you are saying, my friend, is that it is right for the strong to oppress the weak. And when you say that, you justify the Spacers of the past and should therefore have no complaint of the present. What I say is that oppression was wrong when we practiced it in the past and that it will be equally wrong when you practice it in the future. We cannot change the past, unfortunately, but we can still decide on what the future shall be."