Friday, February 29, 2008

A case in point of why I detest doctrinaire Libertarianism

Via Crooks and Liars

Hoenig: Snacky dog is property. If I want to take Snacky’s head and smash it against a brick wall (I’d never do that to you) it’s my right to do it!
I'll make Hoenig a deal. He has the "right" to smash his pet's head into a brick wall if I can have the "right" to smash my fist into his face afterwards.

Hoenig is the ideological equivalent of a communist, as far as I'm concerned.

Perhaps he might benefit from brushing up on his great literature.

Queen: I will try the forces Of these thy compounds on such creatures as We count not worth the hanging, but none human, To try the vigour of them and apply Allayments to their act, and by them gather Their several virtues and effects.

Cornelius: Your highness Shall from this practice but make hard your heart
--Shakespeare, Cymbeline Act 1 Scene V

Update: Regarding the communist ideologue comparison:

In Stalin's USSR, Darwinian evolution was rejected because it conflicted with Marxist ideology. Genetics was considered "fascist" propaganda.

Here's Hoenig on global warming explaining why it's "bogus."

There’s no scientific proof that global warming even exists. To be honest, it’s a bogus consensus dreamed up by Greens because they hate industry. They hate advancement. They hate technology…Greens will lead us back to the stone ages.
Notice the similarity?

Utterly amazing

Virtually every single time that Bill O'Reilly attacks someone the very next day he goes out and does something that makes it very difficult not to suspect that he's waging somekind of elaborate deep undercover Sokal Hoax to demonstrate that Fox News has no professional standards.

Two days ago, O'Reilly said that he could see "no difference" between Arianna Huffington and Nazis because a some commenters - since deleted - said hateful things about not caring if (or even hoping that) Nancy Reagan died in response to this posting of a news wire report about Nancy Reagan being hospitalized.

When an obviously uncomfortable Mary Katherine Ham disagreed with O'Reilly's demonization of Huffington, O'Reilly said that Huffington and the Nazis are the same because "they both want people to die."

Ok, got that? If a commenter at HuffingtonPost says (s)he hopes Nancy Reagan dies that makes Arianna Huffington an extremist indistinguishable from the Nazis.

Fast foward to last night. O'Reilly had Melanie Morgan on his program to promote her Move America Foward organization. That's the same Melanie Morgan who is fine with sending New York Times editor Bill Keller "to the gas chamber" for treason. And the same Melanie Morgan who said that Iraq war veteran Jon Soltz "is ... 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 the same Morgan who said that "We've got a bull's-eye painted on [Nancy Pelosi's] big, wide laughing eyes."

So Arianna Huffington having some unsolicited, unpromoted, since deleted hateful comments about Nancy Reagan on one of the posts of her website makes Huffington the same as Nazis and the KKK. But an unrepetant and unapologetic Melanie Morgan can advocate sending journalists who report uncomfortable truths about politicians she supports to gas chambers, can equate political opponents with cockroaches that need to be exterminated, and can mock and caricature the physical appearance of members of an opposition political party and joke about them being targets for assasination and she's still a perfectly fine and respectable person who is fit to be a recurring guest on the O'Reilly Factor.

O'Reilly's greatest enemy is not Keith Olberman or Media Matters or the S-P boogeyman. O'Reilly's greatest enemy is his own friggin' mouth.

Écrasez l’infâme!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Arianna Huffington is no different than the KKK?

"Écrasez l’infâme!" - Voltaire

Crush the infamous thing was Voltaire's motto. The infamous thing he desired to see crushed was superstition. It's now my motto; the infamous thing I desire to see crushed is the conservative movement. If I write a post towards that end, I may include that tagline. Hence the explanation.

Now before the Michelle Malkin's of the world throw theirselves into a fit of indignant rage at my suggesting the need to "crush" the movement I will point out that I mean that in the same sense that Voltaire did: not in the sense of oppressing believers but in the sense of changing people's minds (via the pen) so that belief seems absurd.

With that out of the way, onto some infamous thing crushing.

Lately, Bill O'Reilly has been saying that Arianna Huffington isn't "a respectable" woman because he says that there are hateful comments on her website. The HuffingtonPost is a vile far left hate site and what not.

The comments O'Reilly is speaking of were indeed hateful comments about Nancy Reagan. But they were COMMENTS - and a handful out of thousands at that. Criticizing a website that receives hundreds of thousands of comments on the grounds that it hasn't sufficiently policed commenter feedback for mean-spirited or hateful comments is asinine. It could be the case that the comments slipped through or it could be the case that the site believes that allowing feedback regardless of it being negative is in the best interest of open discussion.

Personally, I have a very high threshold for what I'll allow to be said here. A white supremacist posted a death threat against me and I didn't delete it ... does that mean I'm transitively a hater who wants to see myself killed by a white supremacist? On the other hand, when someone posted the home address of a conservative commentator I deleted it immediately.

Now, if O'Reilly simply wanted to criticize the hateful comments or argue that the HuffingtonPost should be stricter about the comments it allows I would not have an issue. But that's not all he's doing.

"I don't see a difference between (Arianna) Huffington and the Nazis."
"What's the difference between the Ku Klux Klan and Arianna Huffington?"
"There's no difference between what Huffington and Nazis do."

The difference between Arianna Huffington and the KKK/Nazis is that she isn't a white supremacist who advocates for authoritarian rule and believes it acceptable to kill people. Just a minor difference in O'Reilly World, I suppose.

This is a bit of insanity that's difficult to understand unless you realize the real reason O'Reilly can't tell the difference between Arianna Huffington and the KKK or Nazis: remember, when it comes to O'Reilly, all roads lead to his ego.

O'Reilly hates HuffingtonPost because it allows commenters (and writers) to say critical things about O'Reilly. And it's a well known fact that it is Bill O'Reilly's greatest fear that someone, somewhere will say something critical about him. He will not rest until there is no spot in the entire universe where ever a word is said that might hurt his delicate feelings. Demonizing Arianna Huffington is part of that campaign.

Because if Arrianna Huffington is no different than a Nazi because of those comments, what does it make O'Reilly when he works for a network that continues to promote and defend the bigoted/racist attacks on Barack Obama from radio host Bill Cunningham? For that matter, there are racist remarks from commenters* about "B. Hussein Obama" in the O'Reilly Townhall column I linked to earlier in the post. But, as always, nothing tops O'Reilly continuing to have Ann Coulter on as a guest despite her career long history of hate-mongering.

And while O'Reilly continues to call HuffingtonPost and Daily Kos hate sites no different from the KKK or Nazis because of the mean things some of the commenters say, World Net Daily - a site which features O'Reilly's columns - has commenters talking about how Jared Taylor isn't a racist and about how it's unGodly for races to mix.

As always, hypocrisy and double standard follows in the wake of O'Reilly's ego.

And regarding Ham's tired assertion that hateful comments are typical of "left-wing" blogs but not "right-wing" ones, Steve Young points out that in the same thread O'Reilly is using to say that Huffington is no different than the Nazis and KKK there was this comment:

You sick fuck liberal wing nuts always shame yourselves when someone is in crisis. I hope you all die screaming. sick fuck you wouldn't know class if it bit you on the ass, class you mean like the most cheated on former 1st lady. Class you mean like president blow job, democrats can't have class it comes with the D tag
Update: Here's a link for Ham that I just remembered from a previous post.

Update 2: Another link and another for Ham.

*Edited March 1, 2008. Originally, that read "racist remarks in the O'Reilly Townhall column ..." which I realized might create the impression that I was referring to the the actual content of O'Reilly's column rather than the comments to it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life almost here

Previously, I identified the unfinished Encyclopedia of Life website as the coolest Cool Site of the Day. Carl Zimmer has an article in the New York Times updating us on the project.

Imagine the Book of All Species: a single volume made up of one-page descriptions of every species known to science. On one page is the blue-footed booby. On another, the Douglas fir. Another, the oyster mushroom. If you owned the Book of All Species, you would need quite a bookshelf to hold it. Just to cover the 1.8 million known species, the book would have to be more than 300 feet long. And you’d have to be ready to expand the bookshelf strikingly, because scientists estimate there are 10 times more species waiting to be discovered.

It sounds surreal, and yet scientists are writing the Book of All Species. Or to be more precise, they are building a Web site called the Encyclopedia of Life ( On Thursday its authors, an international team of scientists, will introduce the first 30,000 pages, and within a decade, they predict, they will have the other 1.77 million.

While many of those pages may be sparse at first, the authors hope that the world’s scientific community will pool all of its knowledge on the pages. Unlike a page of paper, a page of the Encyclopedia of Life can hold as much information as scientists can upload. “It’s going to have everything known on it, and everything new is going to be added as we go along,” said Edward O. Wilson, the Harvard biologist who spearheaded the Encyclopedia of Life and now serves as its honorary chairman.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cartoon conservatism revisited

"I have always made one prayer for God, a very short one. Here it is: 'My God, make our enemies very ridiculous!' God has granted it to me." - Voltaire

The other day I was listening to a rebroadcast of a Neal Boortz radio show. Boortz was again engaging in conspiracy theory regarding the death of Vince Foster who killed himself in Fort Macy Park in Virginia. Boortz does not believe that Foster died in the park, but all the same, he said that if he was Barack Obama he wouldn't take a walk through Fort Macy anytime soon. Yes, you heard me correctly: Neal Boortz believes that Hillary Clinton might attempt to kill Obama.

There are few things that upset me more than noise machine conspiracists alleging that the Clintons were involved in the death of Vince Foster. Vince Foster, a man who was suffering from clinical depression, was driven to suicide, at the least in part, by the endless bullshit character attacks that people like Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity - all Foster death conspiracists - traffic in. Foster's suicide note read "The Wall Street Journal editors lie without consequence." Yet these same cretins, lacking any shame at helping to drive a man to suicide, turn around and blame his death on the Clintons.

In a perfect world these sorts of views would be considered the deranged rantings of individuals having serious deficiencies in their ability to reason critically and ethically. But that's not the case. These are figures who enjoy a great deal of popularity with audiences of millions. Neal Boortz is on the air 33+ hours a week here and his books fly off the shelves.

Jonah Goldberg releases a book which - as far as I can tell - makes the case that anyone who advocates for any level of goverment action other than that which Goldberg approves is a fascist or is suffering from "totalitarian temptation." Here's another review pointing out how intellectually bankrupt Goldberg's book is.

And yet Goldberg is a columnist for the LA Times. Why? Because his opinions and views are granted legitimacy by the media by virtue of his conviction, not because of any necessary connection to reality.

It's the same story with so many pundits and figures within the noise machine. CNN hires the cartoon that is Glenn Beck. The New York Times hires serially wrong opinionist William Kristol and in one of his first columns he plugs Michelle Malkin erroneously. That's the same Michelle Malkin who previously fabricated a confession of treason from Times editor Bill Keller.

When are the folks in the media going to wake up and realize that no matter how many of these hacks they hire, nor how often they repeat their nonsense character attacks, the conservative movement is still going to hate the "liberal media." It has to, it must. Someone must be blamed for reality failing to conform itself to the will of the movement.

Witness Michael Reagan, who despite previously advocating for the execution of Howard Dean for expressing the thought that we are not going to win in Iraq with current policy still is someone featured at prominent conservative webiste. Take a look at this lunatic article from Reagan.

Where the Times editorialized that Republican presidential candidates have committed themselves to krank economic theory Reagan translated that to mean "non socialist." Look, that's not a point up for debate, not a difference of opinion or perspective. It's crazy. Crazy to say that anyone who doesn't support the Underpants Gnomes Economic Theory of this administration:

Step 1 - Cut taxes for the megawealthy/reduce government revenue + increase government spending

Step 2 - ???????

Step 3 - Profit

That anyone - such as Alan Greenspan or Paul O'Neal - who are opposed to that are socialists.

Reagan soldiers on, in a conspiratorial ecstasy that would impress Richard Hofstadter, that "the Marxist New York Times" endorsed McCain over Romney because it wanted to throw the election to the Democrats. Is it possible to respond to Reagan here? My response to anyone who believes the paper to be Marxist would be to hand that person a copy of the paper, much like I'd simply present an apple to anyone who accused an apple of being a grenade. This is so ridiculous that it doesn't merit any attention, except that Reagan has 5 million daily listeners.

Political scientists could start responding to this sort of gibberish the way biologists respond to creationists, but I'm not certain that would do much good. These folks would just do what they always do to anything or anyone who challenges their ideological beliefs - call them "liberally biased."

It's hard to believe that the article isn't actually a spoof. Bill Keller worships Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro .... are you kidding? Who can write passages like this with a straight face?

... this virulently anti-American house organ for every enemy of the United States, a newspaper that routinely betrays vital national security secrets by publishing them on its front pages, and makes no secret of their undying hatred for Republicans and patriots ...
and this

Time after time, The New York Times has shown itself to be the Typhoid Mary of American journalism, and as such should be quarantined to prevent its viruses from further infecting our body politic and endangering both our national security and the safety of the American people.
And Jonah Goldberg wonders why so many people mistake this sort of rhetoric for fascism?

In the world of the conservative movement, Hillary Clinton is a fascist and a socialist and a communist. Callers to talk radio shows compare her to Lenin or Hitler. Obama is secretly a Muslim. And since he is an engaging public speaker he's a fascist like Hitler. And he's probably a communist. And since he doesn't wear a flag pin he hates America.

Unlike Voltaire, I don't pray that God will grant me ridiculous enemies - he's done that.* I pray that he'll grant us a media that is willing to call bullshit on all this bullshit.

*Voltaire's quip I quoted was actually directed at Jean Jaques Rousseau. Replying to Rousseau in regards to his belief that civilization had spoiled man and that feeling should have supremacy over reason Voltaire wrote to Rousseau, "I have received, monsieur, your new book against the human race. No one has ever employed so much intellect to persuade men to be beasts."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sarcastic post of the day

From disenchanted (former) Republican John Cole at Balloon Juice

Captain Ed joins the crew at Hot Air:

Today brings exciting news and an end to a time in my life that has proven far more successful than I ever dreamed. Beginning on March 1, I will begin working for Michelle Malkin, a friend, mentor, and writer I have long admired. She has offered me a position as writer at Hot Air, and my blogging will appear exclusively there.
Personally, I think this is great news. The more we can consolidate these folks, the better. Hopefully Red State, the Weekly Standard, and some other fruity right-wing bloggers will also join the staff at Hot Air. Then, come January 2009, the Hitlery/Hussein Obama administration can use their newfound executive powers to quickly round up these pockets of dissidents and we can all move forward into a glorious period of liberal fascism, where the abortions are fast and plentiful and government mandated and so are the womyn.

What he said

As Greenwald notes, I don't know how anyone can go on Fox and not make this observation. And I'm still trying to figure out how Alan Colmes rationalizes lending legitimacy to Sean Hannity's career.

Not incidentally, please note the first story Greenwald wrote about in that post regarding recently hired Fox News analyst Karl Rove.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cartoon conservatives

Did you know that the cartoon Captain Planet was fascist propaganda? Thanks to watching the Liberal Fascism infomercial on Glenn Beck's CNN HN show the other day I learned that. Also, democratic philosopher John Dewey was a fascist. And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and anyone who thinks we ought to take any regulatory steps to confront global warming - all fascists. Woodrow Wilson was the world's first fascist dictator ... apparently Jonah Goldberg knows something that apparently every historian on the planet doesn't about Wilson being a dictator.

The above has a surreal quality to it. If you didn't know better you'd think this was some kind of Saturday Night Live sketch or something. But a better parallel is that of the late night infomercial. The format is instantly familiar: some hack comes on to sell a quack product and a captivated host "questions" him/her about the product with the questions actually being product selling points. Indeed, see if you can tell the difference between the above video and huckster extraordinaire Kevin Trudeau.

What is it about these fools that allows them to retain employment despite lacking intellectual merit? What Goldberg and Beck have in common, along with so many other conservative movement pundits, is an ability to mock and scorn reality and those that acknowledge it with no sense of embarrassment. It's like watching creationists laugh at people who think that the universe is billions of years old.

For a critique of Liberal Fascism, see this review by Scott Horton.

Update: Another case in point of a cartoon conservative disconnected from reality.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quote of the day

"Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not." - Samuel Johnson

An easy sentiment to admire, yet not as easy to act upon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What can you get for $3.00$9.00

The New Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry, from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings by Martin Gardner - HC $1

The Libertarian Reader: Classic and Contemporary Writings from Lao Tzu to Milton Friedman edited by David Boaz - HC $1

Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer - PB $.50

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut - PB $.50

Another clearance sale at the "government" library. Obviously, the sale of these books at the library was part of the Marxist plot to takeover America. See here to place the sarcasm.

Update: I made a return trip to the sale and picked up:

Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick - HC $1.00

Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential by James Moore and Wayne Slater - HC $1.00

Lincoln: A Novel by Gore Vidal - HC $1.00

The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade by Joseph Stiglitz - HC $1.00

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan - HC $1.00

Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other by Nat Hentoff - HC $1.00

The dumbest thing said about public school education ever?

You know, just when I start to feel guilty for demonizing Neal Boortz by calling his belief that public school education is child abuse crazy I listen into his show and hear something that is, well, crazy.

Yesterday on Boortz's radio program he told a caller that when he meets children at book signings he can tell which ones are homeschooled or attend private school versus those that attend public school because when he looks into the eyes of the non-public school students it appears as if their souls are still alive.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great moments in pro-war punditry

"The election [in Iraq in 2005] meant that the forces of democracy would almost surely prevail." - Fred Barnes, in his hero-cult hagiography of President Bush

Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard, co-host of The Beltway Boys on Fox News, and a regular panelist on Special Report with Brit Hume on Fox News.

In contrast, here's what I said about the election(s) in Iraq.

I don't comment on the elections because it doesn't mean anything new to me (and I've been trying to blog less about politics.) The Iraqi people voted, again, which does show they want a stable gov't., although I'm not sure how much democracy they'll have if they vote in an Islamic gov't. But that desire means nothing if we and the world can't deliver on helping them build the infrastructure necessary to achieve whatever form of gov't they ultimately decide on. So, yes, I do think such a higher voter turn out is a positive sign. But until voting can be translated into results I'm not ready to celebrate.But I agree, we should support and encourage democracy whenever we can. I'm just at a loss for how to do that in Iraq. Where's Tom Paine when you need him?

I am not an executive editor of The Weekly Standard, not a cohost of The Beltway Boys on Fox News, and not a regular panelist on Special Report with Brit Hume on Fox News.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What do you even say to this?

From today's Neal's Nuze

You Clayton County parents committed America's most pervasive form of child abuse when you took the most precious things in your lives, your children, and handed them over to the government to be educated.
Is it possible to argue with this level of crazy?

Neal Boortz believes that allowing your children to attend public school - which he will only refer to as "government school" - is child abuse.

This is the sort of person that wins a private audience with our president.

Update: I was remiss in not pointing out the form of Boortz's anti-government extremism. Boortz is a libertarian ideologue who considers public education to be part of a Marxist communist plot. Since public schools are not commercial enterprises they are Evil and thus were created with the purpose of brainwashing children into being slaves to the (nascent?) communist government.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Featured reading

In this article from Richard Carrier he rebuts the common Islamic claim that the Koran is full of scientific knowledge that only could have been divinely revealed.

Incidentally, I've got On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura) sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read.


Why I hate Benny Hinn.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Michelle Malkin the moderate

"[C]onservatives zealously police their own ranks to exclude extremists ..." - Michelle Malkin

So is it safe to assume that Mrs. Malkin does not consider fantasizing about the United States Marines doing to the University of Berkeley what it did to Fallujah extreme?

It really is staggering watching someone like Bill O'Reilly going on and on about how extreme and evil Daily Kos is while his former guest host (who would still be the regular guest host if she hadn't quit in protest over a dispute with Geraldo Rivera) is fine with listing an American college campus as a legitimate military target for the US Marines.

Remember O'Reilly going nuts because he found a handful of comments at Daily Kos that he found objectionable? Here's one from the Malkin link: "MM, Please post updated photo when the Marines place a check in the Berkley box."

Har. Har. Very funny, almost as funny as when Stop The ACLU posted its rope + tree + ACLU lawyer = pinata joke. Nothing funnier than jokes about lynching and military strikes against people who don't share your politics.

Greenwald has more to say on this psuedo-fanatical behavior.

Those who disparage wars fought by the U.S. military Mohammed are threatened with violence. Those who organize protests against the U.S. Government publish anti-Islamic cartoons have fatwas issued against them, threatening their welfare. Any public dissent from sacred military orthodoxies sacred Islamic dogma subjects one to deranged, dissent-intolerant and freedom-hating "warnings." We have to dismantle our Constitution and begin once and for all to "get our hands dirty" with silencing our Enemies because we're at War with those who want to do violence against those whose values diverge from their own.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quote of the day

"No character in human society is more dangerous than that of the fanatic; because, if attended with weak judgement, he is exposed to the suggestions of others; if supported by more discernment, he is entirely governed by his own illusions, which sanctify his most selfish views and passions." - David Hume, The History of England

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Manichean hate

Fox News radio host compares Obama to Hitler.

I expect that when a Democrat becomes president the dam is going to break and we're going to see full-blast the ugly rotten heart of movement conservatism unleashed.

[Edit - Meaning that we're going to see this sort of hateful rhetoric amped up beyond even what was experienced during the Clinton presidency.]

Update: Dave Newiert comments on the developing Obama as Hitler meme. As I said there, if movement conservatives consider "liberals" to be Nazis and fascists, maybe that makes it easier for them to justify all the horrendous things movement conservative pundits keep saying we ought to do to the Liberal.

Just ask Mike Gallagher, a case study in self-blindness:

You know, it’s a little bit ridiculous that we continue to watch these TV stars and movie stars who smear our leaders. I just wonder, Rob, if you’ll think for a moment what our enemies think of seeing TV personalities compare the outgoing defense secretary to Adolph Hitler. I mean, you know, conservatives never get a pass. Strom Thurmond is wished a happy birthday by Trent Lott and the sky falls in on Trent Lott. But Joy Behar goes on national TV and compares a good man like Rumsfeld to the evilest man in the world and nobody, you know, there’s no repercussions for Joy Behar. I think we should round up all of these folks. Round up Joy Behar. Round up Matt Damon, who last night on MSNBC attacked George Bush and Dick Cheney. Round up Olbermann. Take the whole bunch of them and put them in a detention camp until this war is over because they’re a bunch of traitors.
Recap: Mike Gallagher is outraged that someone would compare "our leaders" to fascists. Mike Gallagher thinks an appropriate response would be to "round up" critics of "our leaders" and put them in a concentration camp indefinitely.

It might also be important to note that by our leaders Gallagher means Republican "leaders," given the fact that Gallagher himself thought a political ad in 2004 comparing Al Gore to Hitler was "brilliantly done."

As Greenwald concludes (in the link above from which I'm borrowing):

By including advocates of these views in what is considered to be acceptable political discourse -- given forums by the likes of Fox News and treated with respect -- the scope of acceptable and mainstream viewpoints expands outwards towards its most authortarian fringes, until it squarely includes full-blown advocacy of tyranny. As but one example, by including pro-concentration-camp arguments from Gallagher and Reagan in our mainstream discourse, Fox renders the recent, repeated and truly radical calls from Newt Gingrich for a so-called "debate" on what the First Amendment "should protect" as moderate and mild.

The fact that one can turn on Fox News and regularly hear people who advocate the hanging or imprisonment of mainstream Bush critics for the opinions they express is a far more notable development than passive acceptance of it would suggest.
Meanwhile, Valentine Day hate from another "far left ideologue" who contributes to MSNBC

In a February 12 entry on her website,, right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel posted "Valentines," in the form of candy hearts, about Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The hearts for Obama were black instead of the usual pastel colors and referenced widely debunked allegations that Obama is, or has been, a Muslim; Schlussel also posted one black candy heart for Clinton. A number of the other candy hearts Schlussel posted for Clinton referenced MSNBC correspondent David Shuster's February 7 remark about Chelsea Clinton's work for her mother's campaign: "But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?" Shuster subsequently apologized and has been suspended by MSNBC for the comments.

All of the candy hearts Schlussel displayed for Obama were black, including some with the following messages: "White House mosque," "obama & islam forever!" "islam hearts obama," and "barack HUSSEIN obama." Schlussel included one black candy heart that read, "cankles 4 prez," and posted a purple-colored candy heart that read, "hillary rodham cankles '08." Schlussel wrote of the black hearts, "[T]he black hearts are goth and are considered signs of hate, not love." Schlussel has highlighted Obama's middle name before, asking if "Barack Hussein Obama" is "a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?"

In addition to the "cankles" hearts, for Clinton, Schlussel displayed candy hearts that read "Pimp My Chelsea," "chelsea = pimped," and "Bill 4 First Pimp," referring to Shuster's remark about Chelsea Clinton. Schlussel also posted a heart for Hillary Clinton that read: "The Bitch is BAAACK '08."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Towards a banana republic

Another day, another case of the Bush adminsitration's efforts to put an end to the open society which is neccessary for a vital and functioning democracy.

Thankfully, Congress is busy berating Roger Clemens for potentially using steroid and/or HGH.

You know, if Congress must find something to occupy itself with to pretend to still be relevant, could they at least go after something like the amoral vultures that are the paparazzi? Let baseball deal with steroids ... how about doing something to put an end to swarms of stalkers following celebrities around, invading their privacy and stealing every moment of their life with thousands of camera clicks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The transformation is complete: Bill O'Reilly is Joseph McCarthy

Hopefully either Crooks and Liars or Media Matters will post an audio clip later on so that I might update this, but if you happened to listen to the Radio Factor today you heard Bill O'Reilly assert that totalitarian anti-democratic communist/socialist extremists (aka Daily Kos and now have a foothold in the Democratic Party. The clip needs to be heard to be believed.

He went on to state that while there are some extremist elements on the right, such as talk radio's hate campaign against John McCain, these elements do not have sway with the Republican Party. Which is why, of course, extremists such as Neil Boortz, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh who have promoted conspiracies about the Clintons having murdered Vince Foster get private audiences with the president. It's also why a woman who has lamented the fact that Timothy McVeigh did not bomb the New York Times building can get a warm introduction from Mitt Rommney at CPAC and then go on to call John Edwards a "faggot."

Last night, O'Reilly called David Shuster a "a far left ideologue." Apparently, making an offensive comment about Chelsea Clinton means you are a communist now. Which means Rush Limbaugh, who called a 13 year old Chelsea the White House dog, is also a far left ideologue.

Every time I've seen Shuster he has struck me as a typical bland tv journalist, but apparently I've happened to miss all the times that he's ranted about the need for the proletariat to throw off their capitalist masters and what not. Obviously, his remark about Chelsea Clinton being "pimped out" to the Clinton campaign is derived from Marxist dogma.

O'Reilly also stated that Shuster "shouldn't be working in the news business period" because he's an ideologue. Unlike, say, former regular O'Reilly Factor guest host Michelle Malkin. You know, the one who thinks that the placement of American citizens in concentration camps on the basis of their ethnicity was justified.

One can also take for granted that O'Reilly also considers regular Factor guest Ann Coulter less of a "partisan ideologue" than Shuster and the bloggers at Daily Kos. You know the Coulter whose hero is Joseph McCarthy and believes that the government should be torturing the "liberals" that it doesn't kill (because it can) in Guantanamo.

The death of the idea of America

"America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way around. Human rights invented America." - Jimmy Carter

The US Senate just decided to legalize the warrantless surveillance of American citizens as a reward for the President having broken the existing law which had been passed as a result of Congress having uncovered grave civil liberties violations resulting from warrantless surveillance of American citizens, not least of which being the FBI attempting to blackmail Martin Luther King Jr into committing suicide. Also, the Senate gave retroactive immunity to telecom companies - companies whose lobbyists poured money into the "debate" that civil rights groups like the ACLU are unable to match - for assisting the government in spying on US citizens in violation of the law.

Not surprisingly, Michelle Malkin, defender of placing American citizens in concentration camps, is thrilled. "America wins" she cheers - the Leader will not have to be bothered by such hindrances as the 4th amendment or the rule of law.

When a commenter asked why anyone would be proud of retroactive immunity for illegal surveillance of US citizens another commenter replied:

Because I have nothing to hide or of which I should be ashamed that I do or have done on my phone. Do you?

In other words, the commenter is being accused of being a terrorist because he thinks that America should be a Constitutional republic and not a Leader-cult banana republic.

That comment reveals a stupidity that is staggering. Did Martin Luther King jr. have something to hide? Should he have had reason to be bothered by the gov't spying on him?

The other option is that the commenter isn't stupid and understands that warrantless surveillance is bound to be abused, but supports such abuse since he believes it will be used against people whom he considers to be anti-American, aka the Liberals.

Monday, February 11, 2008

On global warming denial

Naomi Oreskes is the researcher who sampled 928 published papers on climate change and found that zero challenged the scientific consense that anthropogenic global warming is occurring. In the lecture featured above - "The American Denial of Global Warming" - Oreskes explains in the first half of the video the science of global warming. In the second half she covers how energy industry funded think-tanks seek to use propaganda tactics to obfuscate the issue. Running time is about an hour.

h/t Deltoid

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The road to hell

Is paved with George W. Bush's intentions.

This vision of executive power is that the law not only emanates from the president but also ebbs and flows with his hunches, hopes, and speculations, on a moment-to-moment basis. What we are hearing now from senior Bush administration officials is that if the president thinks someone looks kinda like a terrorist and the information sought from him seems kinda worth getting, it will be legal to torture him. And it's legal no matter who justified it, regardless of the supporting legal doctrine, because, well, the president just had a feeling that the information would prove valuable.

That's not an imperial presidency. That's the kind of presidency Yahweh might establish. I'm sure there's some law professor out there who can make the legal argument that executive power in wartime encompasses even the reckless guesses and impressionistic whims of a single man, as they arise. At which point, that too will become an "open question" on which "reasonable people will differ." And the dance will begin again.
We have a sitting president hundred of times now defying laws duly passed by the representatives of this nation's citizens while citing a rationale that is grounded in a totalitarian logic that sounds like something out of Nazi Germany. And yet Congress does nothing. And the media does nothing.

It's nearly impossible to even keep up with the scandals and corruptions of this putrid administration. While our press works tirelessly to inform us if Britney will retain custody of her children or power of attorney over her estate, the Center for Public Integrity quitely revealed that the Bush adminsitration has blocked for the last seven months the release of a report finding that

more than nine million people who live in the more than two dozen “areas of concern”—including such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee—may face elevated health risks from being exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants.

In many of the geographic areas studied, researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
Congress passes a law regulating commerce with the genocidal government in Sudan and Bush signs it into law while magically overturning it at the same time with a signing statement. The Constitution obligates the president to veto legislation he finds unconstitutional, but it does not grant him the power to strike laws from existence by fiat. Yet, as Charlie Savage points out, "Bush has frequently used signing statements to advance aggressive theories about executive power. He has challenged more laws in the past seven years than all previous presidents combined."

This nation was founded by people who fought a revolution over exactly this sort of behavior. Anyone remember what the first grievance listed in the Declaration of Independence against King George III is?

"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

President Bush has "refused his Assent to Laws" nearly 1000 times now. But when our Congress finds out they either beg permission to be allowed to vote to legalize it or they do little more than nothing. We have a president with historically low approval ratings and whose party suffered an historic defeat in '06 elections and yet this adminsitration is able to continue foward ripping the Constitution to shreds.

Just last month Bush decided he could refuse his assent to four more laws passed by Congress.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is busy threatening to place a journalist who disclosed that President Bush had authorized the Pentagon to illegally spy on US citizens in prison while madmen cheer the move with a mantra that sounds like it was lifted from a book of totalitarian aphorisms: "Like the Constitution itself, the First Amendment's protections of freedom of the press are not a suicide pact."

Whenever I hear that noxious phrase I can't help but be reminded of the equally sickening you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, which was used by characters in Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here to justify an American fascist regime and in real life by Walter Duranty to excuse the murderous purges of Stalinist Russia.

If I ever hear that 'can't make an omelet' phrase again, I'll start doing a little murder myself! It's used to justify every atrocity under every despotism, Fascist or Nazi or Communist or American labor war. Omelet! Eggs! By God, sir, men's souls and blood are not eggshells for tyrants to break!
Was what the character Doremus Jessup answered in It Can't Happen Here (and he was speaking figuratively about the murder ... even after fascism took over the country his weapon of choice remained the pen.)

Likewise, who but a dog looking for a Master considers the Constitution and the civil liberties it guarantees to be a suicide pact? Our freedom was won with the battle cry Give me liberty or give me death, yet now are freedoms are to be a casualty to the fear of those who whimper Please keep me alive and you can have my liberty.

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?", asked Patrick Henry. The modern GOP answers yes: "you have no civil liberties if you are dead."

I'm not sure whether it is a comfort or not to realize that democracy has been faced with this human temptation for thousands of years. As Paul Woodruff explains in First Democracy

In our frustration with law, we forget too easily that law is all we have between us and tyranny. Aesop has a fable to illustrate the point. Long ago, the frogs lived without any form of government. Feeling the need for some sort of authority, they prayed to Zeus and asked for a king. He sent them a piece of wood. To understand the story, you need to know that ancient Greek laws were written on wooden tablets, set up for all to see. The frogs were illiterate, of course, and missed the point:

The frogs were unhappy with the anarchy in which they lived, so they sent representatives to Zeus asking him to provide them with a king. He saw how simple they were and set up a piece of wood in their pond. At first the frogs were frightened by the noise Zeus had made, and they hid themselves in the depths of the pond; but later, since the wood did not move, they came up and were so contemptous of it that they climbed up on it and sat there. Feeling that they did not deserve such a king, they went to Zeus a second time and insisted that he give them a different ruler, as the first one was too lazy. This made Zeus angry, and he sent them a water-snake who caught and ate them up.
And so it was - and still is - when people are frustrated with the law's stupidities or delays or inconveniences. If they wish for a ruler who will rise above the law, they are offering themselves to be devoured.

Overused song on tv of the day

Precious - by Depeche Mode

This song has been used in an episode of Smallville, CSI, Bones, and Cold Case as far as I can tell. Great video, though. The translucent fish-mobile is very cool.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Correction: Hillary Clinton has signed the Freedom Pledge

Yesterday, I erroneously claimed that Hillary Clinton had not signed the American Freedom Pledge. If I had bothered to check, I would have found out that although she hasn't signed the pledge, she did send this signed letter pledging support to the campaign (which is essentially the same thing.)

I apologize for my carelessness.

Fox "News"

This is the second time that Fox News has "accidentally" identified a Republican the conservative movement does not like as a Democrat (the first being Arlen Specter.) This is truly sinister. And after watching John McCain get booed at CPAC yesterday, it's hard to escape the realization that the Republican party has been captured by ideological zealots who seek to impose an orthodoxy on the party that borders on theological rigidity. The only thing I can think of that compares to this kind of in-party paranoid hatred is the old John Birch Society thinking that Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist agent.
Having surfed on a regular basis blogs on which commenters express their desire to see RINOS (Republicans in Name Only) hanged to death for treason, it is utterly troubling to see something that is supposed to be a news network helping to perpetuate that kind of extremism.

Resolved: Bill O'Reilly is demented

I had asked before if Bill O'Reilly is demented. I think we have an answer.

From Media Matters

On February 7, the "O'Round the World: Stories from the 'No-Spin' News Desk" section of, Fox News anchor and conservative radio talk-show host Bill O'Reilly's website, featured a link titled "Those weren't veterans John Edwards, they were sex offenders." The phrase referred to a recent back-and-forth between O'Reilly and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) over homelessness and homeless veterans, which began when O'Reilly responded to Edwards' January 3 remark that "tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates," by stating in part: "The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy's brain."

The link directed visitors to a February 6 Associated Press article on Florida's attempts "to dissolve a community of sex offenders living under a bridge" in Miami "that includes a gym, kitchen, living room and two dogs."

In a January 30 speech in which Edwards announced the suspension of his presidential campaign, he discussed visiting a New Orleans homeless encampment "under a bridge that carried the interstate where 100 to 200 homeless Americans sleep every night."
See, in O'Reilly's warped version of reality, Edwards was lying about homeless vets under a bridge in New Orleans because the city of Miami had sex offenders living under a bridge. Therefore, by the transitive property of O'Reilly's insanity, the homeless vets in New Orleans are magically turned into sex offenders.

Shorter Glenn Beck

If you didn't happen to catch Glenn Beck's discussion of global warming this morning, I'll give you the gist of it: global warming is to liberals what the Reichstag fire was to Nazis. He didn't use that analogy, but that was the gist.

Good job CNN and ABC on snapping up this brilliant mind.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

For the record

I received an e-mail from the Center for Public Integrity in response to the post I wrote about attacks on the Iraq: The War Card project based on the assertion that it was nothing but George Soros funded propaganda.

The last grant that they recieved from the George Soros founded Open Society Institute was in 2004. Iraq: The War Card project received "absolutely no funding" from George Soros.

Additionally, the Center for Public Integrity "does not and has never endorsed any legislation, political candidate, party or organization."

Hillary hatred analogous to rabid antisemitism

Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt concurs that the insane personal hatred the conservative movement has for Hillary Clinton is analogous to the demonized conception of Jews that hard core anti-semites hold.

While Professor Lipstadt was making the more measured observation that both forms of hatred are based in irrational prejudice discconnected from reality, I would go further and suggest that the Clintons play a role in movement conservative lore that "the Jews" play in the world-view of antisemite extremists; i.e. being the Hofstadter-eque Enemy controlling the world. The similarity even extends to the paranoid conspiracies about her being out to control America (and the planet through a one world government.)

Hillary Clinton has not signed the American Freedom Pledge

Making her unique among leading Democrats, but consistent with all the Republicans with the exception of Ron Paul.

Brayton has the details. I would suggest that anyone who does not support the pledge has no business becoming president.

If Hillary Clinton is your candidate, I would urge you to contact the campaign and express the importance of restoring Constitutional balance.

Update: Brayton has updated his post to read:

This story is wrong. I picked it up from another source and neglected to check the date. The story at the Nation was from October and a week or so later, Hillary Clinton did pledge her support for this campaign. Mea culpa. Please ignore this story.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Arlen Specter takes a stand against a grave threat to American democracy

Via the New York Times

Specter wants to meet with N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss why the leaguge destroyed all evidence of the Patriots’ videotaping incident in the season opener against the Jets. During his Friday news conference, Goodell said he would meet with Specter, but he played down the evidence of spying on the tapes.
And from ABC News

It could go to hearings," Specter said. "This is a matter to be considered by the [Senate Judiciary] Committee. I don't want to make any broad assertions or elevate it beyond what I have a factual basis for doing, We're going to follow the facts and if warranted, there could be hearings."

Specter told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that after hearing Goodell's depiction of why evidence provided by the Patriots was destroyed, he wanted more answers.

"The commissioner's explanation as to why he destroyed the tapes does not ring true," Specter said.
Oh my god! The NFL destroyed evidence of the Patriots spying on the Jets ... could their possibly be any more pressing issue for Congress to investigate? Certainly not the CIA destroying evidence of illegal interrogation tactics.

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
Nor are the destroyed e-mails more important.

House investigators have learned that the Bush administration’s use of Republican National Committee email accounts is far greater than previously disclosed — 140,216 emails sent or received by Karl Rove alone — and that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of many of the emails, including all email records for 51 White House officials.

See, when the Patriots spy on another NFL football team the U.S. Congress will step in and take decisive action. When the President of the U.S and his administration are in the process of "hastening a constitutional crisis" Congress will give lipservice to opposing it and then roll-over and allow it to continue.

How dare he? How dare Arlen Specter say anything about the seriousness of the NFL destroying evidence that one team watched another team practice while our goverment destroyed evidence that it illegally tortured people. But you want to see outrage? Specter actually put these things on the same level.

"That requires an explanation,” Specter said. “The N.F.L. has a very preferred status in our country with their antitrust exemption. The American people are entitled to be sure about the integrity of the game. It’s analogous to the C.I.A. destruction of tapes. Or any time you have records destroyed.”
What is it about serving in Congress that turns people into this? Into people pathetically trying to find something for themselves to do to look important rather than doing what actually is important. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I don't want to hear about how the NFL destroying spy tapes is analogous to the current administration systematically dismantling American democracy while Congress plays the fiddle. I want to hear about how Congress is going to put a stop to a lawless presidency. But more importantly, I want to see it happen.

Blogger's Note - I just re-read this and noticed that this post might create the impression that Congress has not been investigating the destroyed e-mails and destroyed CIA tapes. It has and still is as far as I know, but the point is that this should be an urgent priority for Congress; comparing the NFL "scandal" to this trivializes what is being done to the Constitution. Even if Congress gets to the bottom of these issues, I have little confidence that they'll actually do anything about it. As Gleen Greenwald put it

Mukasey can go and casually tell [the Senate Judiciary Committee which Arlen Specter is on] to their faces that the President has the right to violate their laws and that Congress has no power to do anything about it. And nothing is going to happen. And everyone -- the Senators, Bush officials, the country -- knows that nothing is going to happen. There is nothing too extreme that Mukasey could say to those Senators that would prompt any consequences greater than some sighing and sorrowful expressions of disapproval. We now live in a country where the President -- and those acting at his behest (see Lewis Libby, AT&T, and Verizon)-- have the power to break the law and ignore Congress and every other aspect of government, and can do so with impunity.


...Congress, when they learn of Bush lawbreaking, ends up doing nothing other than voting after the fact to legalize it. They learn Bush has been illegally spying on Americans with no warrants and they enact The Protect America Act to legalize it. They learn Bush has been systematically torturing detainees and imprisoning people with no process and they enact the Military Commissions Act to legalize it.

They learn that telecoms have deliberately broken the law for years -- laws which the Congress passed specifically to make it illegal for telecoms to cooperate with warrantless government spying on Americans -- and they are about to provide full retroactive immunity for the lawbreakers. When they do pretend to investigate, they meekly allow the administration literally to ignore their Subpoeans. Congress does that because we live in a system of lawlessness -- we have decided that the President has the power to break the law without consequences -- and because legalizing the President's lawbreaking is the only way they can be relevant.

More "psychic" observations from Sylvia Browne

Whenever I see Sylvia Browne on one of her weekly appearances on the Montel Williams show* I am absolutely amazed that anyone in the audience can take Browne seriously. She's quite transparently just making up complete nonsense, yet people nod and clap and ooh and ahh like she's doing something spectacular.

Here's a few exchanges from my notes that I jotted down. They are paraphrased but indicative of typical "psychic" pronouncements from Browne.**

Q: When will I meet my soulmate?
SB: In about 3 years.

Q: Have I had any past lives?
SB: Yeah. About 37. The last one was in Jerusalem 100 years ago. You were a rabbi.

Q: My sister commit suicide, but we never found the suicide note. What did it say?
SB: It just said she was depressed and wanted to get out of here. She was depressed most of her life. You know we call this bipolarism, it's on the rise.

SB: Do me a favor and get your thyroid checked. [Browne randomly telling that to a questioner for apparently no reason.]

Q: I want to know what I'm going to be, if I'll ever figure it out.
SB: You're going to go into teaching.

Q: My daughter and I have a psychic connection. Did we know each other in a past life?
SB: Yep, several of them. One in Greece, one in ....

Does anyone see anything here that couldn't just be made up by anyone? C'mon! How can something this friggin' obvious be so difficult for so many people to see?

*Thankfully, Williams has been canceled and Browne will have one less forum to bamboozle people in.
**One of the posts I haven't gotten around to finishing yet will take a more systematic approach to Browne appearances.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Falling behind

I've gots lots of posts to put up, but haven't been able to write them up as fast as I can think them up. Blogging will be slow until I can finish up with them and some of my reading.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

George W. Bush is the reason the Founders put impeachment in the Constitution

"The Case for Impeachment" by Scott Horton

[F]ailure to use impeachment has its consequences: it means acceptance of Bush’s transformation of the constitutional order. It means that the careful balance between legislature, executive and judiciary created by the Framers has been undone, and the executive has triumphed as the paramount power. Impeachment may be a painful process, of course, but Americans should consider whether their Constitution is worth saving.

If movement conservatives don't like being called fascists ...

Dave Neiwert is currently writing a series about why the public tends to associate the conservative movement with creeping fascism. Here's my contribution to the conversation:

If movement conservative don't like being called fascists, then maybe their legal theory shouldn't sound a lot like Nazi legal theory. And maybe their conception of a "unitary executive" shouldn't also sound a lot like Nazi legal theory. And maybe the man who came up with the legal rationale for all of President Bush's unilateral authoritarian abrogation of human rights shouldn't seem like he's inspired by the chief Nazi legal theorist. And maybe the threshold for the President to assert his supposed Constitutional right to abrogate the rule of law shouldn't be lower than the threshold for Hitler to become dictator of Germany under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution. And maybe movement conservatives shouldn't use the same euphemism to describe it's use of torture that the Nazis used.

Hillary says: vote for me, I'm a Clinton

I just heard a clip of Hillary Clinton saying that it took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and that it may take another Clinton to clean up after this Bush. Great. Just what American democracy needed, it's own War of the Roses, with a husband-wife team of one party trading the presidency with a father-son of the other party.

This is supposed to be an election, not a restoration. As far as I knew, we were looking to elect leaders based on merit, not on family pedigree. This is still supposed to be a democracy and not an aristocracy, isn't it?

Gary Wills raises another point about a potential Clinton restoration

One problem with the George W. Bush administration is that it has brought a kind of plural presidency in through the back door. Vice President Dick Cheney has run his own executive department, with its own intelligence and military operations, not open to scrutiny, as he hides behind the putative president.

No other vice president in our history has taken on so many presidential prerogatives, with so few checks. He is an example of the very thing James Wilson was trying to prevent by having one locus of authority in the executive. The attempt to escape single responsibility was perfectly exemplified when his counsel argued that Mr. Cheney was not subject to executive rules because he was also part of the legislature.

We have seen in this campaign how former President Clinton rushes to the defense of presidential candidate Clinton. Will that pattern of protection be continued into the new presidency, with not only his defending her but also her defending whatever he might do in his energetic way while she’s in office? It seems likely. And at a time when we should be trying to return to the single-executive system the Constitution prescribes, it does not seem to be a good idea to put another co-president in the White House.
It's hard to take seriously the notion that American politics are meritocratic. If George Bush was not named George Bush and did not have his family's connections to keep him out of prison or bail him out from failed business and to raise inordinate amounts of money for his campaigns he would not be president. If Hillary Clinton was not the wife of a former president she would not be a leading candidate for president and would not be able to run a campaign that is going to total nearly a billion dollars.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Quote of the day

"Some people throw a bit of their personality after their bad arguments, as if that might straighten their path and turn them into right and good arguments - just as a man in a bowling alley, after he has let go of the ball, still tries to direct it with gestures." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, February 01, 2008

Is the conservative movement a cult?

The Center for Public Integrity recently released a report documenting hundreds of false statements from the Bush administrations preceeding the invasion of Iraq. Within minutes movement conservatives knew what to say about that: George Soros!

Is there any information that movement conservatives find ideologically objectionable that can not be dismissed instantly by speaking the name George Soros? I'm finding it difficult to distinguish between this and creationists or 9/11 Truth conspiracists. I'm guessing that most of them had never even heard of the CPI before the report came out, but almost instantly - like some kind of hive mind - hordes of bloggers concluded that the report was untrue because "George Soros funds the Center for Public Integrity."

Well, here's the funders page. As far as I can tell, none of those funders are related to George Soros or the Open Society Institute. Why aren't they all the evil masterminds behind the study? Er, they are Human Events answers. It turns out that "their Supporters Page is a veritable Socialist, Anti-Bush, Anti-War What’s What and Who’s Who." I guess Jim Lippard, whose blog I read regularly, would be surprised to know that he's a socialist and not a libertarian.

"Now that we have established the bias of the organization(s)... ," continues the Human Events author. Um, no. You've established that the Open Society Institute is a donor to the Center for Public Integrity. Those donations are usually tagged for specific programs and what not ... do any of these folks know if OSI money went into this report? Of course not, that would require more than the 3 -5 seconds of thought that passed through their minds before they started writing about how the media has been duped by Soros once again. Have they in anyway, shape, or form explained how OSI money and/or Soros have influenced the report? No. Have they in anyway, shape, or form made an attempt to demonstrate that the CPI has a history of bias or partisanship? No.

Have they entertained the possibility that the Open Society Institute donates money to causes that promote the open society, which is the reason it gave money to an organization dedicated to investigative journalism? No.

But that didn't stop them. Michelle Malkin declared the report "moonbat briefs" and repeatedly put non-profit in quotations. Does she know something we don't know? Are the organizations in fact for profit? She links to another blogger who states that CPI is funded by far left activists, which apparently means that CPI is some sort of communist front. Another link reiterates and dismisses the report on the grounds that it's bunk and the product of "known political activists."

This is another perfect case study of the nihilistic relativism that lies at the heart of the conservative movement. The basic premise of the hive mind is that because this report was issued by an organization that received grant money from a philanthropy created by a critic of President Bush, the authors of the report are biased and the report itself is nothing but anti-Bush propaganda. Or in other words, they can disbelieve anyone who disagrees with them on some issue on the grounds that the disagreement is the result of "bias" or "partisanship." You either agree with them or you're biased and partisan.

Almost all of the responses are pure genetic fallacy (i.e. study came from Soros therefore study is bunk) but when the content was addressed it was equally as ridiculous. Captain Ed chooses as his example that the study is full of "shopworn quotes taken mostly out of context and misrepresented" the president's 16 words about uranium yellowcake from the 2003 State of the Union speech. That's one of the most blatantly indefensible comments made in the run-up to the invasion, yet the Captain seizes on a former Niger prime minister stating his personal belief that an Iraqi businessman had given him a coded message that Iraq wanted to purchase uranium, ignores the problems with that notion, and then concludes this somehow outweighs all the other evidence demonstrating that the notion of Iraq seeking uranium from Niger is absurd, not least of which being the fact that the main source of the claim were documents that the IAEA determined to be forgeries within minutes of looking at them.

What's more, the standard that these folks are using to dismiss the report is not possibly one than they would expect to be applied universally. Because these are people who exist within a hermetically sealed pseudo-reality operated by partisan ideologues and funded by wealthy "political activists."

Or as Hendrik Hertzberg put it in "Can You Forgive Him", The New Yorker, March, 11 2002

Like the American and other Western Communist parties in their heyday, the American conservative movement has created a kind of alternative intellectual and political universe-a set of institutions parallel to and modeled on the institutions of mainstream society (many of which the movement sees, or imagines, as the organs of a disciplined Liberal Establishment) and dedicated to the single purpose of advancing a predetermined political agenda. There is a kind of Inner Movement, consisting of a few hundred funders, senior organization leaders, lawyers, and prominent media personalities (but only a handful of practicing politicians), and an Outer Movement, consisting of a few thousand staff people, grunt workers, and lower-level operatives of one kind or another. The movement has its own newspapers (the Washington Times, the New York Post, the Journal's editorial page), its own magazines (Weekly Standard, National Review, Policy Review, Commentary, and many more), its own broadcasting operations (Fox News and an array of national and local talk-radio programs and right-wing Christian broadcast outlets), its own publishing houses (Regnery and the Free Press, among others), its own quasiacademic research institutions (the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute), and even its own Popular Front-the Republican Party, important elements of which (the party's congressional and judicial leadership, for example) the movement has successfully commandeered. These closely linked organizations (the vanguard of the conservative revolution, you might say) compose an entire social world with its own rituals, celebrations, and anniversaries, within which it is possible to live one's entire life. It is a world with its own elaborate system of incentives and sanctions, through which - as [David] Brock discovered - energetic conformity is rewarded with honors and promotions while deviations from the movement line, depending on their seriousness, are punished with anything from mild social disapproval to outright excommunication.
If the CPI report is bogus because the CPI has received funding from the OSI does that mean:

- We can ignore everything in the Washington Times because it's owned by Rev. Moon?

- We can ignore everything from Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, and the New York Post because they're owned by Rupert Murdoch?

- We can ignore all the global warming denialists who receive money from Exxon-Mobil?

- We can ignore all the bullshit conspiracies about the Clintons that were funded with money from Richard Mellon Scaife?

- We can ignore all the stuff that comes out of the think-tanks and organizations that receive money from Scaife, Koche, Coors, Olin, Bradley, etc?

- We can ignore all the industry funded "experts" who tell us that toxic sludge is good for us? People like Michael Fumento who has admitted that his livelihood is dependent upon being paid by industry to write about how great industry is.

- We can ignore all the books from Regnery publishing because it has an ideological agenda? That would include the books by Malkin that it has published.

- We can ignore all the folks like Dinesh D'Souza who have spent their entire careers operating within this pseudo-world?

-We can expect to stop hearing about The Bell Curve given that it was written with money received from the racist Pioneer Fund?

- We can ignore everything that comes out of talk radio?

What these movement conservatives seem incapable of understanding is that holding an opinion does not automatically equal bias or partisanship. Objectivity is a matter of methodology and honest open inquiry. Yet for them it's agree with us or you're one of them and we don't have to take you seriously. Then cue ad hoc rationalizations. They're motto seems to be that of Carrol's Red Queen: "Sentence first, verdict after."

Is it any wonder that these folks seem incapable of understanding how a democracy is supposed to function? If you believe that truth is a matter of ideological partisanship then there is no space for the type of public discourse that is the lifeblood of democracy to occur. Maybe that's why so many of these pundits want to eliminate their "liberal" enemies. It's like what Karl Popper said but in reverse: if there's no way to settle things with the pen the only thing left to put your "truth" on top is the sword.

Is Bill O'Reilly demented?

I'm sorry. I no longer know how to consider this man's behavior as anything other than some sort of pathology that requires psychological examination. This is just too much.

Seriously, what the hell? First he mocks John Edwards for accurately citing the number of homeless veterans in America and then demands an apology from Edwards after learning the number is correct. And now he's gone and mocked Edwards - again - for accurately speaking about homeless veterans.

He's gone and done the same exact thing. It's crazy ... it's as if reality has no impact whatsoever on him. Edwards says there are homeless vets, O'Reilly calls him a liar. Edwards turns out to be right, and O'Reilly isn't fazed in the least. When people criticize O'Reilly for doing this he turns around and starts attacking them for being leftists or S-Ps or some such bogeymen. Edwards speaks correctly about homeless veterans again, and O'Reilly, having learned nothing at all from having been dead wrong, calls Edwards a liar again. And we can be sure that O'Reilly will again rationalize this away. I'm not sure it can be said that his mind still resides in the same universe as everyone else ... it's as if he's imprisoned himself in some solipsistic hell of his own making.

If Fox News had an ounce of integrity he would be removed from tv immediately. He is an embarrassment and a disgrace; but worse, protecting his ego is more important than helping homeless veterans.

Bad on anti-torture

Last night on the O'Reilly Factor, Nixon worshipper Monica Crowley was on to discuss talk radio cannibalizing "John Edwards McCain." She is a McCain supporter but noted that as a conservative he is bad on numerous issues which she proceeded to list. One of those issues was anti-torture legislation. Which means that he's "bad" on it because he's for it, i.e. he's against the use of torture. It just struck me as disturbing how casually that phrase - "bad on anti-torture legislation" - rolled off of her tongue. Who would have thought that in this day and age we'd need to be debating why torture is not good.

What kind of upside down universe do these people inhabit?