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Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.
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Monday, September 28, 2009
Niceguy Eddie's 36 Principles
This was inspired by that subhuman gasbag, Rush Limbaugh's 35 Undeniable Truths. If you've never heard of them, google it. They're basically "principles" that drive his "philosophy." (Notice the quotes?) Some are just humorous, a few are surprisingly reasonable, and a rather a few are completely ludicrous. (And not a one of them is really an "Undeniable Truth.")
But it got me thinking that I should try and draw up 35 "undeniable truths" (or principals) that sum up my life's philosophy. I ended up with 36 because IMHO, you're basically barely even a human being if you don't operate with more principles than Rush Limbaugh!
So here are mine. Just as with his the order is not important and each one is as equally true and as important as the next. These are all points that I hold as true. But for now I'll just state them simply and not elaborate. If you have any questions, or want to debate any in greater detail, just let me know. I'll always oblige. :)
1) There is no sin worse than hypocrisy.
2) As Corporate Taxes are always a portion/fraction of profit, it is mathematically impossible to tax a company into the red.
3) The separation of church and state is necessary for the protection of both. (And inherently good for all.)
4) Sustainability is inherently good. (4a - Sustainability is required for any idea to be "good".)
5) Having choices is inherently good. (Not every choice will always be a good one, however!)
6) Accurate information and data is inherently good.
7) The scientific method is inherently good.
8) In a secular society, people of goodwill will do good in accordance with their better nature, and evil people will act according to their vices. But to make an inherently good person do truly evil things, you must first make them religious. (Stolen from Christopher Hitchens.)
9) Individual freedom and liberty is inherently good.
10) There can be no crime committed without demonstrable harm. The minimum threshold of demonstrable harm is defined as the usurpation of a choice belonging to another. (And I will elaborate on my 'doctrine of choice' at a later time, for sure!)
11) Movies, music, video games, popular culture, pornography, etc… do not make people do bad things. People have choices. Hold them accountable and stop trying to ban or censor all of my favorite movies, music, video games, pornography, etc…
12) Japanese animation is superior to American animation. (And pretty much all American Television for that matter.) Addendum: Akira Kurosawa is the greatest filmmaker that ever lived. (Hey, Rush had one about the Steelers in the late 1970's being the greatest football team ever, so I can have this one!)
13) Even the most vile, evil people, books and ideas should not be banned. They should be studied, so that evil is easier to recognize. Mein Kampf should be required reading for every high school student in America – so that we are better able to identify Fascism and bigotry when it tries to disguise itself.
14) "Hate Speech" should not even be discouraged. This is the easiest way to identify the ignorant.
15) All forms of magical thinking, including religious dogma, are inherently bad.
16) All of the truths we cling to are dependent on our point of view.
17) It is not hypocrisy to judge intolerance harshly. Nor is it hypocrisy to wish someone to get a taste of their own medicine.
18) Zero-Tolerance policies are always inherently bad. (That's the only one that isn't!)
19) Fines, penalties, etc… should never be viewed as "revenue streams." The purpose of these should only ever be to discourage the behavior that leads to them. Speeding Tickets, Late Fees, etc... should never be viewed as a "good thing" by anyone, even those collecting them.
20) The purpose of the U.S. Supreme Court is to act as a counterbalance to legislative and executive power by striking down laws that are too harsh, or unnecessarily curtail our freedom. A liberal supreme court will usually do this. A conservative supreme court will almost never do this.
21) We elect presidents, we do not serve kings. Politicians answer to the people.
22) It is immoral for a business to operate at a loss. (You read it right! Let me know if you need this one explained.) ;)
23) It is immoral to make a profit without either assuming some risk or contributing some intrinsic value.
24) It is inherently immoral to accept (or pursue) a power you would not give to your rival, or to enact a restriction on them that you would not accept placed upon yourself. (And yes, this includes the [Democratic] Massachusetts State Legislature who took the power to appoint replacement senators AWAY from Governor Mitt Romney (R) when Senator Kerry (D) won the 2004 nomination, but Restored it to Governor Duval Patrick (D) upon the death of Senator Kennedy (D) just recently. The two acts, taken together, violate this BIG TIME. And no, it ain't cool.)
25) If it's bad when "they" do it, then it's bad when you do it.
26) There is wisdom in pacifism… but it won't win in a fight.
27)Criminal drug laws need only apply to substances that are (1) synthetic and (2) physically addictive. Because (1) you can't outlaw what God/nature created, only what man creates. And (2) addiction is a usurpation of choice. (See (10)) (And don't tell me about "habit forming." Snicker bars are "habit forming" for Christ's sake! I could (hypothetically) easily give up pot before I could give up Snicker bars!)
28) All rules of logic apply to all arguments. Know them, or you'll sound like an idiot to anyone who knows the difference.
29) Life is not fair, because chance is involved. All man-made systems, however, should be designed to be as fair as possible.
30) Peaceful coexistence is inherently good.
31) ALL resources are limited.
32) In business (and in many other situations in life) there are three things you can choose from: GOOD, FAST and CHEAP. The thing is: YOU CAN ONLY EVER PICK TWO!
33) You can't cheat the law of conservation of energy / first law of thermodynamics.
34) Play and fun are inherently good.
35) True competition (meaning FAIR competition) is inherently good.
36) These statements (and all others like them) are opinions, not facts. And they cannot be elevated to fact regardless of how widely they are held, or how deeply they are believed.
I'm sure there are more, but I'm feeling lazy and really only wanted to one-up Limbaugh. But if you're ever in a debate with me and want to really stick it to me, find me violating one of these principles. Either I'll be forced to concede the point, or I'll be doing some serious spin, baby! LOL!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
To understand fully, first you have to read THIS. Don't worry it's only about 3 or 4 pages, with illustrations, and it's a really fun read anyway. If you want to skip to the part that's relevant to this discussion, go to the THIRD (AND GOLDEN) BASIC LAW section. Read at least that, and maybe the FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION part as well.
Now... There are four quadrants: Intelligent, Helpless, Bandit and Stupid. Here's how I see the political spectrum breaking down...
At their best, Liberals are intelligent. They pursue policies that benefit others and do so because they recognize that it will come back to benefit themselves. This is why, for example, they support labor unions and minimum wage increases. Other people benefit will make better wages, which in turn supports consumption, which in turn benefits everyone else. (This is the basic idea behind Keynesian Economics, which I'll have to explain at some point, because it's fascinating stuff, and most 'fiscal conservatives' have absolutely no idea how any of [macroeconomics] works.)
At their worst, one could say that the Liberal might act helplessly. After all, he might accept higher taxes (hurts himself) and the benefit (of increased spending) just might not work it way back to him. While this does not follow the laws of economics, we're assuming the worst case.
Now take the Conservative. The rich conservative clearly belongs in the Bandit quadrant. Between tax cuts for the rich, destroying labor unions, their desire to deregulate industries that act like THIS... it's clear that the rich conservative is in it for himself, and cares little how much others are harmed. The motto of these guys is, "I've got mine, screw the rest of you." Grab the money and run.
So why would I conclude that the working class conservative/Republican would be in the 'stupid' quadrant? (Besides process of elimination! LOL) Well first off, he support polices - the very ones I named above - that screw him over financially. Free trade, no unions, no minimum wage, lax labor laws, lax regulatory policies, no social safety nets... There's really nothing in the conservative agenda that helps the workin' man. So why do all these salty white guys keep voting Republican?! (No, it's not racism!) (Shame on you!) It's for the sake of SOCIAL conservatism. Basically? Religion. No abortions, no gay marriage, and for that matter no right to die, no legalized pot, no porn, no heavy metal/rap/rock-n-roll/dancing/etc, no this, no that... They vote that way because they think Republicans will force everyone to pray and live a good, clean Christian life, and eliminate all manner of harmless vice in the name of family values. (Now excuse me while I go vomit.)
OK... first off, YEAH RIGHT! Secondly, there's that whole 1st amendment, church and state, thing. Thirdly, of course, is their asinine assumption that anyone outside of their particular brand of medieval superstition actually thinks that everyone living that kind of life would even be a good thing; that anyone else would actually want to live in such an uptight, boring world.
But just look at from the standpoint of the stupidity argument laid out in Dr. Cipolla's article: They support economic policies that harms themselves, just so they can take away rights and freedoms from other people, thus harming them.
My friends? That's the DEFINITION of stupid.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
And, OK... not the most original post title, I'll admit it.
Ever since then Senator Obama won the nomination, we've been hearing a lot about ACORN. And, for the most part, what we've heard is nonsense from the Right trying to convince us that Acorn is a dangerous, subversive, criminal, fraudulent, traitorous, communist/socialist/fascist/etc... organization who's primary goal is to destroy America.
So... What's the deal?
OK. First off, it is important to understand that the Right has hated Acorn for YEARS. Why? Well, among other ways that they try to help the poor (and the Right HATES it when people help the poor) they REGISTER them to VOTE. And the Right, HATES is when poor people vote. That's about it. It's a ridiculous accusation, though rather fitting with all the conservative "up-is-downism" that we've seen recently, to say that they even have an Anti-Republican agenda, let alone an anti-American one! Registering people to vote - PERIOD - should ALWAYS be considered a good thing. That they happen to focus on registering the urban poor... well they might vote overwhelmingly Democratic, but does that make Acorn anti-republican? More likely it makes the Republicans Anti-City, Anti-Poor and Anti-Minority (after all, poor whites tend to vote Republican, though I'll never understand why.) (OK I know why, but the reasons are STUPID, and I'll probably explain why in my next post - so stay tuned, you're gonna LOVE it!)
So, basically... few things will get you to the top of the Republican's shit-list faster than HELPING POOR PEOPLE.
The next question: If they hate them so much (and if they were such a threat to God, America and Apple Pie) why I have I never heard of them before now?
It's related to the fact that you never heard the words "community organizer" on TV before. And thus there was no rational way to tie the organization to a candidate, even by the conservative's lax standards of rationality. But then Senator Obama made much about the fact the he once worked as a COMMUNITY ORGANIZER! Ah! So now, we have a connection! (Becuase that's sort of what they do!) And all we have to do is CONNECT THE TWO, and we can get the benefit of smearing Senator Obama, when we smear Acorn! Kill two birds with one stone!
So from then on you heard how Obama and Acorn were like Bacon and Eggs. They probably spent more hours on television driving this message home than Obama ever spent working for Acorn. But whatever, the two must be linked! (Or else.... this won't work! So LINK THEM!)
Now that they're LINKED, it's time to smear! What to use, what to use, what to use... I KNOW! VOTER FRAUD! We'll accuse them of trying to steal the election! Just like those damned liberals have been accusing US of doing for the past eight years! (I mean... putting aside that, you know... we actually DID and all!) So they did some digging and found that, OMG!, there were some irregularities amongst the tens of thousands of registrations they submitted! NOW WE GOT 'EM!
Well... not quite. In the minds of the brainless zombies who have no reason to vote republican but do anyway, and the rich folks who pretty much don't care about the truth if the lie will help them get a tax break, perhaps... But back in th ereal world, "voter fraud" requires... oh, um... what's the word I'm looking for... um... oh, yeah:
Now, was it ever demonstrated that so much as a single fraudulent vote was cast in this last election as the result of an irregular registration by Acorn? No. It hasn't. In fact ACTUAL voter fraud in this country is extremely rare. If you took every proven fraudulent vote ever cast in the history of presidential elections in this country and gave them all to McCain in the state tat he lost by the narrowest margin, it would not be nearly enough to flip even that one state. (And let's not forget: He lost by about 10 states!)
What some Acorn employees WERE accused of was the crime of Voter REGISTRATION Fraud. The thing is... real crimes should have a victim. Did this one? YES. Who was the victim? ACORN ITSELF! Don't believe me? Don't buy that? Consider this scenario:
Let's say the "New Life Baptist Church" has raised some money and wants to have a voter registration drive. They know their community leans heavily Republican and each Registration means a likely vote. And since they support the Republican agenda, they want to create as many votes as they can. So they get all the necessities lined up: They recruit people to go door, they ordered all the forms, they put the word out... Time and money are spent. They even paid the volunteers $100 each for their work if they turned in, say, at least 100 registrations. The thing is.... they've got this... one guy. He's kind of lazy, and a bit of a drunk. He turns his 100 forms in, and takes his $100 (and probably goes to buy booze.) But when the Church reviews the forms, they find that almost all of them are bogus: I.P.Freely, Coca Roach, G.I.Lovemoney, etc... Now, the law requires them to turn in ALL forms (that foiled their plan to just throw away all of the ones registered as 'Democrat') but being good citizens they put this one guy's forms aside and notified the registration board that they were suspect.
At this point, I think it's clear that the town drunk has basically stolen from the church, right? He took his hundy, and at the end of the day, not a single vote will be generated. So the church's money was wasted, and their candidate harmed - or at least... he'll come up 100 votes shorter than he would have if their money was spent on someone who actually did their job! Now... is anyone reading this and thinking that the CHURCH is the bad guy here? No?
Switch "New Life Baptist Church" with "Acorn" and switch "Republican" and "Democrat" around and you'll have the EXACT thing that happened to Acorn. And YES, it was in fact ACORN that alerted the authorities to the bogus forms in the first place - even a recent FOX piece admits this. (Thought they do so in the very last paragraph, almost as an afterthought. I mean, why let the facts get in the way of good right-wing propaganda, right?)
Fast forward to this past week. Video's coming out about Acorn employees helping pimps and hookers get homes! OMG! I'm not going to let THIS PASS, am I?
Well, I got this real moron thing I do, it's called thinking? So let's think for a moment.
Again, what crime was committed, exactly? Someone was going to help a Pimp get a house. Wow. That's it? So if I want to sell my house, and the higehst offer was from a pimp, I can't take it? Don't pimps and hookers need housing too? OK, obviously I'm joking a but here, but seriously: we're talking about four or five (and I don't care if it's FIFTY, and I'll get to why in a sec) employees who helped these clowns (BTW, paid Right-Wing undercover sting operatives, mind you) with some paperwork, even though they said they were a Pimp and a Hooker. (I guess it's not much of a stretch for a couple of conservatives to pose as Pimps and Whores!) It looks bad, sure, and makes good play on Fox. But there's really no substance here.
Do the acton of these individuals mean that ACORN is a CRIMINAL organization? WTF? Hell NO! These people were FIRED. FIRED because the organization DOES NOT WANT their employees helping pimps and hookers! DUH! If they came out and defended them? FINE, I'd be right with you saying, "WTF?" But those people are GONE. Out on there asses. And the one girl who, after saying on taped that she murder her husband (and no, she didn't!) said, "[She] was just playing along, because [she] knew these two bozo's were bogus?" Well, if that's true, she should consider suing from wrongful termination. She probably won't win, but either way, if anything Acorn overreacted. Otherwise they did what ANY organization would do if a few of it's employees were accessories to crimes. THEY. FIRED. THEM.
Now, what these two clowns with their dad's video camera did was NOT journalism, any more than it was law enforcement, or time-travel for that matter. If they had wanted to practice journalism, this kind of investigation may have taken a year or more. They would have had to go to nearly ALL of the Acorn offices. They would have had to divulge how many places turned them away. They would have to have interviews with Acorn officials, show them the tapes, get an official explanation... They would have had to gather WAAAY more evidence to show that this was a sytsemic problem, something that Acorn was doing as a matter of policy, and not just the incompetence of four or five (or fifty) employees. That kind of investigation takes detetive work, and research, and hours and hours of interviews, and finally some solid write-up presenting ALL the evidence. These idiots just don't have the chops for it. They're ameteurs, and they should have been laughed of the set for such shoddy work. But hey, this was Fox, who never lets a proper investigation get in the way of good right-wing propaganda.
Now, ACORN has over 1200 offices, and THOUSANDS of employees and volunteers. So the actions of four or five, or even FIFTY, at different offices does not mean that we simply disband the whole organization. At least... If you're a conservative, you REALLY don't what to start applying that logic with any consistency. (But then when have conservatives ever had consistent logic?)
Why not? Well... THIS, for a start.
Give it a GOOD, LONG READ. It'll take some time, it's quite a list.
I guess if you've got an organization with so many swindlers, thieves, criminals, and deviants in it, it's just got. to. go. Right? Hey, I'm all for it, just say the word. I've got no use for any of these scumbags anyway.
And my favorite part? Just to answer the inevitable question from some con who doesn't bother reading down very far for himself...
Why not a list of Democrat Offenders?
(from the site:)
I promise, if you’re a Republican, you don’t want a list of Democratic Offenders. Without it you are able to protest a valid point. I agree, without a comparable list, there’s no comprehensive way to judge. I prefer the list to speak for itself. These are prominent Republicans. I did not make a list of every republican criminal. These are the leaders of the Republican party.
During my research the Justice Department provided a great resource for all federal offenders and I could easily observe that prominent Republicans produce 3 to 5 times more federal indictments than Dems. It may be higher. But that’s not the embarrassing part for conservatives. So far, I have only found a few prominent democrats that are pedophiles. It’s a huge discrepancy. If I had enough time to research specific clergymen and examine their political affiliations, the numbers of republican pedophiles would skyrocket. If you haven’t looked into clergy and sexual abuse, do a few dozen google searches and take the time to open your eyes to the problem. It’s not just the Catholic church.
Even a short poll of prominent sexual deviants shows a strikingly large number of Republicans of all religious denomination breaking the law. If you doubt me, please, by all means, do the research yourself. It’s not difficult. I did all of my work with Google and caffeine.
So conservatives, look... it's very simple. Two principles really, that I think you'll find helpful in your day to day lives...
1) Treat others the way that you wish to be treated, or treat yourself. If you don't think that the Church did anything wrong in the above scenario, stop saying that Acorn did.
2) If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones. (Or walk around naked.) Bottom live? You're like people living in thatched huts, made out of shit, complaining about a few cookie-crumbs on the kitchen counter in the modest suburban home of a few Democratic supporters.
Oh yeah... and one more thing:
About the sadly bi-partisan vote last week to cut of all of Acorns funding and federal projects? Every democrat who voted for that was a traitorous, cowardly, unprincipled COWARD. They were every bit the SCUMBAGS that every Republican was who voted for it. Only thing is, I expected better of the Democrats.
In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have though...
The problem of this country can be summed up in eleven words:
The Republicans have no brains
the Democrats have no balls.
Monday, September 21, 2009
There is a lot of controversy over whether or not to prosecute those responsible for torturing terror suspects as part of the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, rest assured, that, for me, it would be unthinkable to prosecute the low-ranking grunts that actually carried out the 'enhanced interrogations.' Liberal though I may be, I firmly believe that soldiers in the battlefield must follow the orders given by their superiors, and that it should not be up to the soldier to figure out whether a given order is legal or not. If you tolerate that, you will have chaos in the battlefield, people will die, and ANY war effort will crumble. No, soldiers and low ranking intelligence agents MUST carry out their orders, as given. It therefore falls onto the officers and the executive branch of our civilian government to GIVE THEM LEGAL ORDERS, and to be held accountable when they do not. It is therefore the limit of the scope of this discussion as to whether on not to prosecute the high ranking officers, CIA directer George Tenet (and any high ranking subordinates who were the architects of this policy), Attourney General Alberto Gonzalez for crafting the Administration's pseudo-legal reasoning on torture and both former President George W. Bush and former Vice-President Dick Cheney.
And (surprise, surprise) to me there is no question. These men MUST stand trial. The use of torture is both illegal and immoral and profoundly un-American. Is this just my own personal opinion? Hardly. This position is informed by two clear statements in our founding documents:
The Sixth ammendment to our Constitution guarantees a speedy public trial for criminal offenses. It requires trial by a jury, guarantees the right to legal counsel for the accused, and guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused. It also guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against him. It is clear that the terror suspects have had these rights denied them.
The Eighth Amendment to our Constitution forbids excessive bail or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. If TORTURE is not "cruel and unusual" then the words have no meaning.
It is therefore pretty hard for anyone to argue that picking someone up, imprisoning them indefinitely without trial or due process and torturing them, is somehow "Pro-American" when these acts are expressively forbidden by our founding document.
"But Eddie," says the bed-wetting Right-Winger, "These rights only apply to Americans! The terrorists aren't Americans!"
You're WRONG, but nice try. First off, there HAVE been American Citizens who have become victims of these circumstances. Second, how, pray tell, DOES the Constitution protect OUR rights? It does this by limiting the actions that our Government may take; by limiting its authority. Its authority is further limited in these matters by the Geneva Convention. And neither that treaty nor the Constitution of the United States gives any exceptions to the limits placed on our government that they should not apply to non-U.S. citizens. And if any court should say they do, I will find this a profoundly un-American interpretation. Only by PROHIBITING these practices are our rights defended. For, once you allow loopholes, those in power need only find a way to apply the loop hole to anyone they deem inconvenient and YOUR rights are GONE. We mustn't allow this. We mustn't tolerate this at all! (Come on Conservatives! Why do you try actually sticking to your principle of 'limiting' the 'power' of government for a change?!)
"But Eddie," continues the cowardly right-winger, "The enemy is so savage! They BEHEAD people! Without trial! They give no quarter! They offer no rights! They're BRUTAL!"
To which I ask, "If they're so horrible, why on earth should we aspire to become MORE like them?"
"But, but, but Eddie," continues the now trembling Conservative, "Those people (Bush/Cheney & co.) Were trying to save America! They were trying to save YOU!"
OK. First things last. This argument is utter bullshit, and I'll explain why. There is simply no way that Al-Quaeda can destroy AMERICA. In their single biggest battlefield victory, the killed 3000 civilians, and knocked down a few buildings. Not bad, but it cost them their entire air capability a the time do it, and in return we overthrew two sovereign governments within 18 months of the attack. Bottom line? Al-Quaeda poses no threat to my COUNTRY.
You want to know who poses a threat to America? To the American way of life? To American values? Cowardly conservative who, out of either fear or a lust for power or vengeance, will destroy the Constitution, and destroy the very values that made America worth defending in the first place. They're not saving the COUNTRY! OUR GOVERNMENT is the only real threat to this COUNTRY! And only by letting them set aside those values that make US the GOOD GUYS. By setting aside those quintessential American values in order to... what? Save some buildings and save a few lives.
Now... I don't want to seem callous about the loss of life. It's tragic, and I truly mourn every American civilian and every American soldier lost to this enemy. But the bitter fact remains that we will all eventually die. And nothing can stop this. You will die. I will die. (Hopefully later, rather than sooner!) But we WILL all DIE. Period. What must LIVE ON... What must outlive us and our great-grandchildren by centuries and more are the freedoms and liberties that made American the greatest country in the history of the world. It is our FREEDOM that makes us great. And Al-Quaeda can simply NOT take that away. Only OUR GOVERNMENT can. And only if we, in our fear, let them. And this is the ONLY thing worth defending, the only thing worth fighting for in the first place.
And should I die because our government refuse to torture, will my death be taken bitterly? Not at all. In the extremely unlikely event, the utterly minuscule chance that I should be killed in a terrorist plot that could have been prevented if only were we willing to trash our values, then I will have dies in defense of those values, in defense of FREEDOM, every bit as much as those Soldiers dying in the fields of Afghanistan, and arguably MORE so than the Soldiers dying in Iraq.
We must not let our FEAR allow us to permit our government to do the unconscionable. We must not betray our values, or sacrifice our freedoms, just to save our skin. To do so is both cowardly and traitorous. To do so is to give in to fear and hate and to lose sight of what it is we are actually fighting for.
America stands for human rights, the due process of law and, above, all for the freedoms laid out in our Constitution. These are what make us the 'good guys' in this fight. These are what make this land and our way of life worth defending. If we, in our fear and in expediency, allow those things which make this country great to die, then we are no better than our enemy. And THIS liberal will not sit idly and watch his country brought so low. No one who would can do so and still call themselves PATRIOT.
You may notice that my argument focuses entirely on the MORAL and PATRIOTIC implications of allowing torture. The opposing arguments might carry some weight IF torture was ever shown to be effective, but it hasn't. It fails every common sense test under every scenario. I may take up the more PRACTICAL arguments against torture at a later date, though I personally find them to be moot. Regardless of the [largely imagined] results, torture remains illegal, immoral and Un-American.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I've heard of a tea-cup poodle. What's this, a tea-bag chihuahua?
I believe this was made by a conservative, but I find it hilarious, because it's a near perfect metaphor for what President Obama is up against these days. Not all dogs are conservative, but all conservatives are THIS DOG!
(Also, yes, I realize it's a min-pin, but tea-bag chihuahua just sounds funnier!)
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I've already laid out how the media is in fact conservatively biased. Regular MMFA readers already knew this, but maybe someone else needed convincing. I want to show you now how brilliant the Republicans are in manipulating this media. (It shouldn't be that hard to manipulate a media that's already carrying water for you, but check this out...)
It's been the strategy of the far right to hammer home the myth of LIBERAL BIAS in the media for decades now. AM Talk Radio and Fox News have repeated this lie so many times that most moderates (and even a few liberals) have just come to accept it as the truth. And look at how devious this is: When the mainstream media AGREES with Fox/Talk Radio on something, people see this as giving them legitimacy. When the MSM calls them out on their bullshit, it's liberal bias showing! Once you get the public to accept the liberal bias myth, you will never have to worry about your credibility again! Now let's see what they've been doing with that power...
You may recall a lot of talk about Nazi's in the first half of this year. That was mostly coming from the right. To be fair, the big talkers didn't say "Nazi." Fascist was their politically correct term. (Put aside for now how utterly absurd it is to call someone a fascist just a week after trying to convince everyone they were socialist! You also don't need to worry about your credability when your base audience couldn't find their own ass on the political spectrum with two hands and a flashlight.) The REAL Nazi stuff was coming from the Right-Wing protesters. The teabaggers. (Another term that, because it was self-adopted, further shows the right doesn't really have a really broad vocabulary. Or, you know... know what words actually mean.) Most of them held up signs saying things like "NO FASCISM" with Swastikas in red circles with lines through them. Now... IF our President was 'Barack Obama (N)' or 'Barack Obama (F)' that sign would qualify as mere political opposition. Since he's 'Barack Obama (D),' it's clearly an insinuation of Fascism or Nazism. But when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called out the protesters for inappropriate signs, swastikas etc... How did the right react? They played the victim, suggesting that the SPEAKER was accusing THEM of being Nazi's. So here was their strategy:
1) Call the Democrats Nazi's until one of them calls you out on your bullshit.
2) When they do, play the victim, saying how inappropriate it was for THEM to call YOU a Nazi.
3) Go back to calling the Democrats Nazi's.
Nice pattern, huh? Somehow this simple trap was completely invisible to the media who walked into it time and time and time again.
NOW the strategy has changed a bit. THANK GOODNESS. But it's a little worse this time around. NOW they're all crying about being called racists whenever they criticize the President or his policies. Up until the other day, WHO was actually doing this? Um... that would be frickin' NO ONE! Once again it was all bullshit. It works kind of like the "liberal media" myth. Anyone who agrees with you validates your position, and anyone who doesn't is calling you a racist. Whether or not they are, or whether or not it would even be relevant doesn't matter. It's like a reverse-ad hominen. If I call you racist, that may or may not be true, but it also may not be a valid counter point to your argument. I'm just trying to win over the audience by making you look bad. That's the ad hominen fallacy. But if I MAKE a counter-argument and it's VALID and YOU accuse ME of calling you racist (whether I did or didn't) it suddenly makes ME look bad, and totally takes the attention of my argument. It's a perfect ad hominen result, except that you didn't actually attack me! You just accused me of attacking you! Brilliant! BULLSHIT, of course, but BRILLIANT all the same!
Now remember line 1 of the Nazi strategy? It ends with "until they call you out!" See, the more people did call them out, the weaker it got. THIS time around, it's different. If they get called outit makes THEM look even BETTER.
This time around, you've got a bunch of (let's face it) RACISTS. If I still need to prove that point, I'll simply refer you back to MMFA. But they're PREEMPTING the counter-attack by playing the VICTIM prematurely, saying how they can't speak freely because they're being accused of racism! Of course... they ARE making racist attacks, and they really don't have much of any substance to say about the actual issues anyway (what else is new?) and their claims of being attacked with the 'racist' card were (again) all BULLSHIT. Their glaring lack of any substantive evidence may have eventually taken the wind out that sail...
...Until President Jimmy Carter opened his big fat mouth, walked right into their trap, and CALLED THEM OUT on it! Now... normally I'd applaud some good old-fashioned truth-telling, especially from a politican. I'd like to think that's exactly what I'm doing here! I'd like to think there's a lot of that in those five websites I highlighted yesterday! But let's consider the result of President Carter's ill-timed honesty...
Until yesterday, the lies about being accused of racism were just that: LIES. NOW they have, on record, a prominent Democrat, arguably a Democratic Icon, doing exactly what they've been crying about falsely for the past month: He accused them of racism. NOW DON'T GET ME WRONG: I do believe that his statement was accurate! But that one statement will now give the Right all they ammo they need to play the victim, and distract public attention from the real issues from now until the mid-terms.
You may ask, "If they're going to lie anyway, what does it matter? Just call them out!" The problem with that is this: Before they were at least HAVING to lie! And they were plenty of moderates (you now, those people who actually WIN election for you?) who weren't buying it. NOW that stupid quote of President Carter's will be repeated ad nauseum and the left-leaning moderates will start to believe this bit of Right Wing bullshit, just like they swallowed the tripe about Liberal media Bias. Now, WE can't disagree with THEM because, if we do, that means we're calling them racists! As much as that may actually be the case, and as accurate as it may be, they've been playing the victim for several months now, and they're primed the pump of public sympathy. Suddenly WE'RE the ones who's arguments are being silenced!
I guess my overall point is this: President Obama was in a much better position BEFORE President Carter made his remarks. Now everyone will be talking about racism, sympathetically towards the right to boot, instead of the ISSUES. Which is what the Right want, because the Republicans CAN'T WIN on the issues. Never could. But oh boy, can they win on Bullshit! With Bullshit and a few video clips and/or quotes and smears and propaganda, they can take over the world.
(Or at least they could, if they had any competent leadership left! So there's hope yet... Palin/Bachman 2012! One only hopes! A chick-tick no woman will vote for!)
I seriously hope I'm wrong here. I hope I'm just being paranoid. The trouble is? Whenever I'd be HAPPY to be wrong... I'm usually right!
Good night and good luck indeed!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Now, because (1) I tend to do things over the top and (2) I am a HUGE baseball fan, I'm going to try and do this about once a month, and make it parallel the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Each month, I'll put up (or try to put up) as many sites as the number of players elected to the Hall of Fame in the parallel year. A GOLD STAR site is one of my absolute fav's. A site that, to me, was either life-altering or life-affirming. One of these will be named for ever member elected by the Baseball Writer's Association fo America. A Silver Star will be given to a site I like in a lesser, probably just amusing way. Some great time-waster or something that just really makes me laugh. A Star of lesser metal will be given to sites that I find more infamous or notorious that good, but that stand out in my mind. And Silver (or lesser) Star will be awarded for each member elected by the Veterans Committee.
So we'll start in year one. In 1936, five members were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BWAA: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. None were elected by the Veterans Committee. So this month, I need to award five Gold Stars.
For the Ty Cobb GOLD STAR #1: Media Matters for America
Not really surprising. I've already linked to them as many times as I've posted. Media Matters is a not-for-profit research organization dedicated to monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. They are one of the best sources of information out there primarily because they do such a good job researching their items and citing their references. Every item which is not part of their [Country Fair] editorial section includes either a transcript, audio or full video of the misinformation and typically links to the source material that contradicts it.
The Conservatives will whine about how they're funded by George Soros. Of course, they never can get around to explaining why that significant. (Or ever truly proving it.) And they'll cry about their "liberal bias," which MMFA makes no effort to deny. But, you see, "liberal bias" only gives one the motivation to go out and FIND the information. It does nothing to devalue the evidence itself.
That logical error is called the "ad hominen" fallacy, which brings me to...
The Babe Ruth GOLD STAR #2: The Skeptic's Dictionary
This is my bible. (The irony of that statement is intentional, and once you've read it, you'll understand.) I have never encountered a work of this depth in which I was able to read the entire thing and walk away having agreed with, heck, been inspired by, every single word. Professor Carroll does an excellent job researching and debunking various pseudo-scientific phenomenon, but the real gold here are the sections on logic, reasoning, perception, various logical fallacies, critical thinking and the scientific method. He also addresses such modern controversies as the autism-vaccine link, and mankind's contribution to global warming. In both cases he's right on the money - there's none, and it's huge. But this is not a work that's intended to TELL you WHAT to think. It's a meant to TEACH you HOW to think. From a philosophical standpoint, all I can say is it this is 100% aligned with what my life's philosophy has always been, but until I found this iste I had never seen it spelled out so perfectly! As I read this I kept thinking, I could have WRITTEN this! (If, you know... I was as well studied and as good a writer as Bob Carroll is!)
The Honus Wagner GOLD STAR #3: Snopes
Using many of the principles described in the Skeptic's Dictionary, Snopes.com examines and attemptsd to classify the veracity of 'urban legends.' Like MMFA, their research is meticulous and all of their sources cited. As they've had to spend a lot of time over the past few years debunking a lot of the crap that Right-Wingers have been sending aroundn via email, they've aquired a bit of a reputation for liberal bias. The way I see it, if you're conservtaive and someone prooves you're lying, that makes YOU WRONG. It does not make THEM liberally biased. But what all three of these sites have in common is their passion to find the objective truth, based on proovable, demonstrable facts. But it doesn't matter anyway, because what I've learned so far is that both FACTS and the TRUTH seem to have a fairly well established liberal bias.
The Walter Johnson GOLD STAR #4: ArmchairSubversive
I've linked to this site in my MediaMatters posts probably more often than any other site combined. Nothing tickles me more than seeing the utter hypocrisy of some hard-core, right-wing, conservative, christian funny-mentalist revealed for all to see. Ok... right up front, let me say that there IS a bit of BULLSHIT and a few really CHEAP SHOTS in this site. They don't have nearly the academic rigor of the three sites above. But if you go through the list, you will find no less than FIFTY convictions of Republicans for some form of child molestation, pedophilia or child pornography. That's after you take out every item that's merely an "arrested for," "accused of," "sued for," "indighted for," etc... That's also, of course, leaving out out the cheap shots and easily debunked stuff. And even then, I'm only counting the convictions where they provide links to out-side sources, usually the local newspaper where it happened. Gotta love those FAMILY VALUES, huh?
The Christy Mathewson GOLD STAR #5: Humanism by Joe
I'm not a religious man, as many of you may have already guessed. I was raised in the Catholic Church, am educated in church doctrine, and have recieved all the Sacriments. That being said, I don't practice. At all. While I'm not an atheist per se** - I believe that to clonclude that God does not exsist is as philosophically arrogant as assuming that he not only does but that you know what he wants - when it comes to politics, eductation, science and reasoning I am firmly in the camp of the new-atheists. Those militant anti-theists who firmly believe that organized religion does far more harm than good and has no place in any public institution; that it's laws and principles should only be granted any power at all to govern the voluntary membership of any given church. A memebership, which BTW, that has the inalienable right to walk away from said church whenever they come to the conlcusion that it's all a bunch of nonsense.
While I can't say that I am as closely aligned with every word of Humanism by Joe as I was with the Skeptic's Dictionary, I must say that I have never found a more complete, yet succint, case made against the mingling of church and state, or the use of the Bible as a moral guide. It's very readable, and quite enlightening; especially if you're one of those secular humanists that Bill O'Rielly fears so much. It's includes MANY quotes form the founding fathers, as well as from both Democratic and Republican presidents down through history regarding the importance of the seperation of church and state, which this country was founded upon. It's well worth a full read.
So there they are. The five inaugural memebers of my internet Hall of Fame.
** Philosophically speaking I'm a pragmatic agnostic - to me God could exsist, but it hardly matters, becasue we will simply never know one way of the other and making up a bunch of bullshit about him isn't going to get any clsoer to him. The most learned theologian in all the word knows no more aboug God than I do. All he knows is a heck of a lot more about what man has believed about God. In most things I am the ultimate pragmatist: Relative to Religion, I'm a philosopher. Relative to philosophy, I'm a scientist. And relative to Science, I'm an engineer!)
OK. We all know two things here...
1) That Glenn Beck's absolutely batshit insane.
2) That conservatives are not known for their tolerance of cognitive dissonance
So... Knowing that he's already teetering on the brink, how can Mister Beck possibly hold both of the above thoughts in his head at the same time?
How does one man reasonably accuse the President of the United States of racism...
...And then turn around and declare that "false accusations" of "racism" are "dangerous"?
I see three possible reasons...
1) In the mind of the Right Wingers, you can pretty much say anything you want about liberals or Democrats. And if you do so on a Right Wing show, you pretty much know that NO ONE will ever ask you to back it up. But the "false accusation" was made against Joe "You Lie!" Wilson (R), so... well... you just KNOW that's gotta be false!
2) Since making the statement, he's had a crisis of conscience and decided that you can't just throw the term "racist" around willy-nilly. It's a serious accusation and requires some serious evidence to not be considered slander. And... It's just a coincidence that the first beneficiary of these new-found principles just happens to be a Republican who, both loudly and baselessly, accused the [Racist] President of lying, right in the middle of his televised address to a special joint session of congress.
Yeah, I supposed that's possible...
Or (3) JUST MAYBE these new "principles" have more to do with the SIXTY-TWO advertisers who have decided that they no longer want to have their customers paying this clown's salary, and have pulled their support of Glenn's program, costing the Fox News Channel as much as $1,060,000 at the peak of the boycott, and it's really more about self-preservation rather than any idealistic principle.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I had planned on just doing a quick piece tonight about one of my favorite websites, but I think I'll do that tomorrow instead. I posted the above statement in a Media Matters piece today, and I'd like to expand on it a little bit here. Rush Limbaugh was whining about all the "sensitivity training have we had about racism, starting with the Civil War," to which I thought, well let's see...
In the 1860's we had legalized slavery. That ended with the Civil War.
In the 1960's we had Segregration, Fire Hoses, Attack Dogs, Lynchings, Anti-Miscegeny Laws, and Assassinations. That ended with Civil Rights.
WOW. And that only took A HUNDERED YEARS!!!
At the rate were going, we'll have this whole "racism" thing licked by the 2060's!
And that's when I made the point that "Diversity is not the new racism," as Limbaugh, and his ilk, often claim, but rather "colorblindness is [the new racism.]" And I'm not talking about FAKE colorblindness, now. I don't mean when a scumbag like Limbaugh uses token examples like Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell to prove that he's not racist. (Christ, if those three were the extent of my experience with Black people, I might be inclined to think less of the whole race as well! But I digress...) Basically, there's three kinds of racism.
The first - outward and overt, viscious, agressive 1940's Southern, Conferderate-style Racsim. THAT kind of racism is pretty much dead and gone these days, save for Right Wing corners of the Blogosphere. And even those people wouldn't spew their racist nonsense so boldy if they were face to face with another person, especially a stranger... Even if it were someone of the same race! No, for the most part, almost anyone left with any racial prejudice at all falls into the second type...
Secret Racism. This is the kind of racism that no one will ever admit to, but when you hear them speak and get to know them a bit, you just know they have a chip on their shoulder. Oh, they'll have Black friends, and work well with Black co-workers (or Asian, Hispanic, etc...) and their negative feelings are obviously diminished from the ones described above. These are the people that will say controversial things about race (or miscegeny, affirmative action, racial profiling, etc...) and then feel the need to remind you that "they're not racists." You know what? I talk to people all the time about these things and never feel the need to point that out to them. I once had a Black co-worker who was annoyed at another co-worker (white, Christian and conservative) who had a habbit of using fancy words. (I mean, like, words that no one really uses anymore. Word-of-the-day-calendar type words.) So I asked him, "Is [the other guy] ever a cheapskate?" He said, "Yeah, well, you know [so-n-so], right?" So I said, "The next time you catch him being cheap, tell him not to be such a niggard. See how he reacts to that!" Now, obviously I had to clarify the meaning, spelling and precise pronuciation of the word 'niggard'... But once I did, my co-worker found it hilarious. And at no point did I ever feel the need to tell this man, this 6'4" 220+ pound BLACK man, that I "wasn't a racist." I knew him, he knew me, and we both knew we were all cool with it. Bottom line? If you feel you need to remind people that you're not a racist after you say things? You just might belong somewhere in this category. And there's a spectrum. Some hide it better than others and some simply have more to hide. BUT AT LEAST WE'VE GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE WE REALIZE THAT WE SHOULD HIDE IT! The fact that blatant racism is no longer acceptable counts for progress in my book.
Finally, we have what I believe to be the newest and possibly most common form of racism: colorblindness. Not the colorblindness claimed by people in the above group, but serious, well-intentioned colorblindess possessed by very enlightened people who truly do not believe that any race is inferior to any other. (And the same point can apply to Gender, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Age, etc...) Being BLIND to those things when interacting with someone, THAT'S the 'new racism' (sexism, etc...) in my mind. THAT is the next great social hurdle we have to cross.
Let's say you've got two college applicants. Same SAT's, Same GPA's, similar extra-curriculars, etc... But one's white, with parents making over $100,000 combined, from an middle to upper-middle class suburb with very little crime. The other's black, with parents making under $50,000, combined, from the inner-city where they were faced with crime and drugs and violence every day. To say that these candidates are "equal" is colorblind. It's also horribly unfair and unjust. And THAT'S what I'm calling out here, as the new racism.
To not recognize someone's race, gender, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, etc... to just flatly assume "we're all equal" (and truly act accordingly) despite these things, is to ignore the fact that this person grew up in a world that percieved them according to their [sub-group,] and treated them accordingly. And those perceptions and experiences shaped who they are, every bit as much as our (different) experience shaped us. A white person and a black person; a man and a woman; a muslim, jew, christian, hindu or atheist; a gay or a strait; cannot walk the same path though the same world and come away with the same experience from it. To dismiss that, to not respect that fact, to be truly colorblind, is every bit as damaging to them as simply judging someone for the color of their skin (gender, etc...) When someone decides that, in achieveing colorblindess they have gone far enough, and will progress no farther, they are now among the new racists.
And colorblindness comes faily easily to a lot of people these days. But being colorblind is only the first step. It a place we can START FROM. Wipe the slate clean, sure, but then start to understand how the world's perception and treatment of us shapes who we become. Appreciate that no two people percieve things quite the same way, and when you take a huge factor like RACE (or GENDER, SEXUALITY, RELIGION, etc...) into account, and how that affects how the world percieves and treats THEM, it's almost wrong to say that they're even IN the same world, even if they're standing right next to each other. And doing this is a lot harder, and throughout your life your neverquite done. Because you will always be meeting new people, and you will of course keep changing yourself. We must rid ourselves of the last remants of outright racism, to be sure, and to be sure, we've made tremendous strides in doing that. But we can't stop at colorblindness. We must strive for a greater understanding of one another, and our varied experiences than that.
That's what I believe anyway.
(Hey Joy, I guess I did learn something in your class, huh?)
Monday, September 14, 2009
In reality this is a myth repeated ad nauseam by the like of Rush Limbaugh and the hosts on Fox News (Bill O'Rielly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck & others) in an effort to shield themselves from criticism should the mainstream media ever bother to point out how often these guys mislead, mis-quote, quote out of context (when it actually matters!), make up statistics, misinterpret polls, make up polls (!), host fringe elements as if they were maninstream, and more often than I can count, DEMONSTRABLY LIE. Of course, the mainstream media, being entirely corporate owned is not often wont to do this anyway, but given the commercial success of RUppert Murdoch's empire of right-wing propaganda, and the success that Fox and AM Talk Radio have had in gettig so many viewers and listeners to think they are more conservative than they actually are (I'll get to the 'America is a Right-Wing Country' myth in a future post) the last thing any media outlet wants is to be branded as "Liberally Biased." (Which Fox and Talk Radio will do anyway, so I don't know what they're so worried about!)
But the charge is baseless to the point of absurdity. All one has to do is to take an objective look at how the press (the MAIN STREAM press now, not just Fox) treats comparable topics. If anything, almost ALL media outlets outside of MSNBC lean HEAVILY conservative; And let's not forget: MSNBC gives former Republican Senator and staunch conservative Joe Scarborough his own shown. Find me the liberal counter-balance to Lou Dobbs on CNN, or ANY liberal with his own show on Fox! The one admittedly liberal-leaning outlet has more balance in their hosts than the relatively centrist CNN, or the "Fair and Balanced" Fox News. (Now if you'll excuse me, after have said "Fair and Balanced Fox News" I now need to go vomit...)
...OK, I'm back.
So here is my case that the mainstream media is CONSERVATIVELY biased, using several different stories and people as evidence.
Exhibit One: Al Gore (D-2000) versus Norm Coleman (R-2008)
When Al Gore retracted his concession in the 2000 presidential election, pending [the deciding state] Florida's official recount, as MANDATED BY STATE LAW, he was rounded branded as a sore loser, a whiner, someone who should just throw it in, someone who's "antics" were hurting the party. Virtually no media outlets at the time bothered to point out that the ruling in Bush v. Gore circumvented state law - I thought the Republicans were all about NOT interfering with states rights?! Or that most of the "brooks brothers" protesters were in fact Republican Staffers! (Many of them now organize these idiotc "grass roots" (vomit) tea parties!) Nor was it highlited very frequently that Gore in fact WON the popular vote and that the decision in Bush v Gore COULD ONLY have the effect of SUPPRESSING votes in Florida. So much for their priciple of making every vote count! Nope. Gore was a loser, and should go away. (This after the media privelidged lie after lie after lie about the former Vice President on the campaign trail. The media made him constantly defend himself for saying thing he never said and making exagerations he never made!)
Contrast that with the treatment Norm Coleman (R-MN) recieved in his hotly contested Senate reellection bid against Democratic challenger Al Franken in 2008. First the facts: Once the recount was done, overseen by a bipartisan commitee and approved by a bipartisan panel, Coleman lost by 312 votes. And while he made appeal after appeal after appeal, all of which were found to be baseless, and none of which were ever taken seriously by any court, did the press call him a sore loser? No sir. Were 'his antics hurting his party'? Are you kidding? He was hailed as being a savy politican! Apparently holding up the certification of an election to make it easier for Republkicans to filibuster pending legislation is savy. (Who knew? He sure seemed like a whiny little bitch to me!) No one in the press called Norm Coleman what he was: A partisan hack, an obstructionist and, most of all, a SORE LOSER WHO SHOULD JUST CONCEDE ALREADY!
Exhibit Two: Al Gore (D-former VP) versus Dick Cheney (R-former VP)
Last one on Gore, I promise! Do you rememebr how many television appearances Al Gore made in the months and year after Bush was elected? That would be almost none. Part of it was out of the traditional respect granted an incoming administration (where the hell did THAT go this time around, huh?) and part of it was NOBODY IN THE MEDIA CARED ABOUT HIM! No one wanted to talk to the former VP of the party that lost not only the presidential election, but most of their contested seats in congress! And remember, the Democrats lost, by a mere FIVE electoral votes, because of five right-wingers on the supreme court, not because of Clinton or of Gore himself. Gore won the popular vote after all, and if anything Clinton would have HELPED. Sadly they were stupid enough to believe that the media was still on their side, even as they portrayed Clinton like some kind of pariah, and Clinton kept a low profile.
Wow, how things have changed. In 2008, the Republican lost the presidential election by ONE-HUNDERED-SEVETY-THREE votes, and lost enough seats that the Democrats, after taking back contorl of congress two years earlier, now held supermajorities in both houses. And how many times have you seen Dick Cheney, former VP of the party that not only lost but got TROUNCED, on TV since President Obama was inaugurated? He's ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! The press can't get enough of him! And he's one of the big reasons McCain LOST! Well... his corruption and Bush's incompetence. Between the two of them, the "Republican" brand was an like an anchor around McCain's neck!
But should Cheney just disappear? Or refrain from criticising the new administrations for some traditional period of time? NO WAY!!! We NEED TO KNOW what this man has to say!!!
Exhibit Three: John Kerry (D-2004) versus John McCain (R-2008)
Much like Gore, Kerry was essentially told ot bug-off after he lost... by a mere 35 electoral votes, the smallest margin of victory in any re-election camapain in history. He was greeted with nothing but the media equivalent of awkward silences. John McCain loses by 173 votes, and he just keeps on truckin'! The media act like he never even ran! Like Sarah Palin was at the top of the ticket or something. Was he treated as shabbily as Kerry was after losing by almost FIVE TIMES the margin? No way! Even supposed liberals like MSNBC's Chris Mathews were as eager to hump McCain's leg as ever.
Exhibit Four: Democrats v. Alito vs. Republican v. Sotomayor
During now Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's, Senate Democrats questioned him about his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group with definitively racist (and sexist) goals for the University. QUESTIONED him. ASKED HIM ABOUT IT. This was apparently enough to send his wife to tears and the media into a tizzy. HOW DARE the Democrats pursue this line of questioning... HOW DARE they imply that he might be racist (or sexist)? Where is their respect?
Fast forward to 2009, and the confirmation of now Justice Sonya Sotomayor. Because of a single remark, made years ago and both taken wildly out of context and blown wildly out of proportion, Republican Senators and their lackies in the press felt it was somehow now acceptable to come right out and CALL Justice Sotomayor a racist! Just like that! "She's a racist."
OK, so let me get this strait... Democrats can't ask a question about a nominee's membership in an openly racist organization, becasue it insinuates that the nomimee is racist.... but Republicans can come right out an CALL a nominee a racist and that's OK with the press. Wow.
Exhibit Four-A: Sotomayor vs. Altio on Ricci
And look at the Ricci case. Much was made of the fact that Justice Sotomayor found for the defendant. Somehow this showed her racial bias, even though some Latino firefighters would not recieve promotions they would have been otherwise entitled to as a result. But very little was said of Samuel Alito or Anotnin Scalia, both Italian Americans, finding for Ricci, an Italian American himself! Now, I'm not saying that they voted based on that fact alone, but both recalled their Italian heritiage, and the empathy they had for what the Italian immigrants faced when coming to this country, during their confirmation hearings. But you saw what happened when Justice Sotomayor spoke proudly of her latina heritage, or President Obama menitioned 'empathy' as one of the many qualities he was looking for in a judge. BTW? Clarence Thomas was also heralded for his empathy, during his confirmation hearings!
Exhibit Five: Nancy Pelosi (D-Speaker) vs. Newt Gingrich (R-former Speaker)
If I were to say "partisan," "divisive," "unpopular," "controverial," "extremist," or "out of touch" which of these people do you think I'm talking about? Well, if you're near the center politically, and think for yourself rather than listen to the media, you might say that it could describe either one. But Former Speaker Gingrich is granted repeated interviews, and treated like a serious analyst or comentator instead of (say it with me) an unpopular, divisive, controversial, partisan, extreme right-wing hack. Meanwhile these descriptors fly all the time with regards to Speaker Pelosi... and you can add "shrill" to the list as well! Now I'm not arguing that Nancy pelosi isn't any of those things: that can be debated. BUT: there is no doubt that Gingrich is at least as far to the Right as Pelosi is to the left, at least as 'controversial' (just not with conservatives), at least as 'divisive' (just not with conservatives) and according to polls taken at the height of Speaker Gingrich's popularity (about a week after he won) statistiaclly LESS popular with the Nation than Speaker Pelosi has EVER polled, based on approval rating.
But Pelosi is treated by the press like she has leprosy, while Gingrich is treated like he's the next Winston Churchill.
Exhibit Six: Reconciliation vs. The Nuclear Option
First of all, let's be clear on the facts. The "Nuclear Option" was a phrase coined by Republicans, but co-opted by Democrats when they found it polled badly, to describe the proposed RULES CHANGES by the majority Republicans at the time to prevent Senate Democrats from filibutsering President Bush's judicial nominees. While nominees are not commonly filibusted, the rules DO allow for it, and it is not without precident. (What's more, it's little different from all the Holds the Republican have put on President Obama's nominees for posts throughout the federal government. You want to know why so many leadership position are unfilled? Because it takes 60 votes to clear a Hold, just like a filibuster, and until Norm Coleman stopped being such a little cry baby, the Democrats didn't HAVE sixty votes. They still don't in fact, at least until a special election is held for the seat of the recently deceased Senator Kennedy. So you can blame the Rebulicans, and their baseless Holds, for so many ships being without a helmsman, even though the media won't.)
"Reconciliation," on the other hand, is a LONG ESTABLISHED procedure used to pass budgetary mesaures with a simple majority vote, rather than first requiring a vote of 60 for cloture. It's basically a procedural end-run around the filibuster, that can be used for budgetary items only. Now the Democrats have threatened to use it to pass their budget. The Republicans are crying foul, since their are things in the budget like items for health care. Since those would need to be paid for, I'm not exactly sure why they don't belong in the budget, but whatever. The fact is that Republicans used reconciliation to pass quite a bit of legislation that was tucked into their budgets over the first six years of the Bush administration. (The Bush tax cuts, for example.)
But the press is not only acting like the Democrats are playing unfair, and giving credability to the hypocritical claims of the Republicans, not to mention failing to point out the hypocrisy, but they have, on several occasions, actually called this the Democrat's "nuclear option!"
WTF?! Somehow the Democrats using a long established procedure repeatedly practice by both parties is the same as the Republicans changing the rules so that they can do whatever they want.
Final Exhibit: Anti-Iraq War Protesters vs. Tea-Baggers, Birthers and 9/12'ers
I'll make this short. In 2003, Iraq war protests that drew over 100,000 people were eighth page news, even in the "liberal" New York Times. They were described as "annoying" at best, and "traitorous" at worst. But Saturday's 9/12 rally that drew only a fraction of that amount was FRONT PAGE news! Tea-Parties? Birthers? The 9/12 protets? These people are serious news! You see... When CONSERVTIVES are angry, it's news. When LIBERALS are angry, it's annoying.
Some of the more conservative readers may be looking at this and saying, "Well what's wrong with how the press treated these cases? I think they got it spot on!" Well, any of these things can certainly be debated, and you're certainly entitled to your opinion... But you can't logically hold that opinon, have the media agree with you, and then turn around and accuse the media of liberal bias now, can you?
There IS NO systematic liberal bias in the mainstream media. It is a complete myth. We have a CORPORATE media, owned by Boards that all lean consevative and vote Republican and the resulting conservative bias should be completely transparent to any objective observer.
One last bit. If anyone wants to call me out on any of the items I've mentioned here - to cite sources, give examples, etc... Let me know. Rest assured I can absolutely do that. It's just that I think fast, but type slow and this is a Blog, not a grad-school thesis, so I didn't feel like getting bogged down finding links and citing sources as I flew to get my ideas on the page. I may go back later and add some links, but at this point I think I'd rather move on to other topics. If anyone feels like calling shenanigans on me though, I'll make sure to answer your suspisions! I'm good that way!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
For a free market to really work, I need to KNOW what something costs and be able to compare, or shop around. Now in SOME CASES you might be able to do this, but consider this: You've cut yourself. You're bleeding. You need stitches. There's a hospital a block away, so you go there. Do you know it's going to cost? At best, you might know what % your insurance is supposed to cover, but % of what?! Chances are, none of the doctors you see will even be able to give you an estimate of the cost. And even if they did, that doesn't mean they know what price the hospital negotiated with the insurance company. Bottom line: You have NO IDEA what a trip to the hospital will cost until you get the bill. You. Have. No. Idea.
And if you did, what would you do? SHOP around?! Do you have time for that? Would you drive and hour to save $100? You might if you were buying a sofa, but YOU'RE BLEEDING! (Or having a stroke, heart attack, seizure, etc...) And even if you could shop around, do you have any objective way of determining quality? Not really. Anecdotal evidence, if you're lucky. (Or go online.) And that's about it. Is Dr. Smith better than Dr. Jones? There is basically no way to find that out! None!
So you can't compare quality and you have no idea what it costs. Some efficient market that will make!
A free and efficient market CAN be a beautiful thing. But we don't have one when it comes to health care, and we really never had. Putting aside that many of us have our choice of doctor narrowed down by our insurance company or HMO, most people DO NOT CHOOSE their insurance company. THEIR EMPLOYER DOES! To get a better plan, you have to change jobs.
And that's not the same as saying, "Get a better job." If I want a Mercedes, I very well might need a better job - one that pays MORE. But to get a given health care plan, it's not a function of the money I make, because I'M NOT BUYING IT! I can't buy it! Employers pick up about 80% of the cost of premiums, so THEY are the ones that choose the plan. To get a given plan, I might have to go to a worse job that pays LESS, just because that company might be the only one that offers the plan I want!
There is no other 'market' that operates that way. None. So it's NOT a market. Not for individuals anyway. And getting back to the idea of risk pooling, the only way to get the best care for the lowest price is to get as many people as possible into one plan. That's why even if I could afford what some other company pays for their employees' coverage, I won't be able to get the same price. Insuring one person is extremely expensive. But insuring a whole bunch of people is cheap, at least on a per person basis. So there's no benefit to everyone going around and negotiating their own plan. Risk pooling will always, automatically get you a lower cost than you'll ever be able to find (or negotiate) for yourself. Better coverage too. So a market just won't work, and really doesn't exsist anyway.
If you're still not convinced, I offer this: The micro economic factors that I've already mentioned here and in previous posts worked to make health care so expensive in the first place that being sick became something that we need to insure against. Market forces made that insurance so expensive that the only way to sell it way with employers paying for most of it. NOW insurance is so expensive that HUGE, BILLION DOLLAR corporations can no longer afford it. (GM? Chrysler? Yeah, pretty much killed by health care costs.) And it is not despite market forces, but precisely BECAUSE OF THEM that we have the situation that we do. And this trend is thirty years in teh making. I little deregulation isn't going to reverse it.
The 'free market' just won't work in this case. There are many areas where it will (almost all, in fact) but Health Care is one of the rare exceptions.
I also want to deal with a common talking point: That since medicare is going broke, that means that gov't health care 'doesn't work.' Here's the thing: Everyone's health care costs are going up. There's no denying that. Private companies just raised their rates. And yours went up too, I guarantee it! But what are you going top do? It's not like you had a choice, remember? But for MediCare's budget to go it means MORE TAXES. So while there costs have gone up, they haven't been able to increase their revenue the way insurance companies can. And THAT'S why it's failing. But with my plan, costs can fluctuate. And if, in future, the taxes you pay for gov't health care go up, this is in lieu of your premiums going up: so your still no worse off!
As for the whole government efficiency remember: Insurance companies run it; like contractors. But they won't have the same dysfunctional profit motives that they have now. They can still make money, but it won't be like before. No more huge salaries for CEO's, not generated by health care premiums anyway! They'll want as many new babies as they can get, since that lowers their average cost, and increases their revenue, so they won't risk losing those to their competition by over bidding.
I want to, once and all, eviscerate the idea that Senator McCain (R) proposed on the 2008 campaign trail that we could benefit by eliminating state boundaries. Now... this COULD work, in the short term. I live in Michigan. I have two autistic sons. At the moment, speech theraphy is not covered for Autistics in Michigan. So I could, say, buy from Florida, where it IS covered. Sounds great right? Two problems.
First of all: I'M NOT BUYING IT! It's still going to be up to my employer to buy it. And THEY are likely to choose the cheapest plan, which is likely in the state with the leats regulation and least mandated coverage. So there goes my coverage! What's more, in the long term, if anyone can buy form any state, then the insirance companies will all move their plans to the one state with the least regulations. (So Autism reform, for example, won't happen for ANYONE unless ALL FIFTY states pass it! And when was the last time Alabama and Massachusetts agreed to do anything together?!)
So, Mr McCain, all your plan will do is make it IMPOSSIBLE for a given State to regulate it's insurance industry. And here I thought Republican's were all about states rights. Ha!