Who IS this guy?!
Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)
Friday, April 30, 2010
The Mickey Cochrane Gold Star #15: Think Progress
What an incredible collection of articles and posts skewering the Republican talking point or gaffe du jour and hammering home that gold old fashined liberal common sense and informed opinion! They're more tagreted than HuffPo, heavier hitting than The American Prospect and show far less restraint that Media Matters. A defintie must-favorite for any serious liberal. The comments section is good, but they don't nest. So there's not as much spirited back-and-forth as we get over on MMFA. That's probably their only flaw. I've been posting there FAR more than HuffPo lately.
The Frankie Frisch Gold Star #16: People for the American Way
These guys have been around, fighting for Liberal causes for a LONG time. They led the fight against Supreme Court nomine Robert Bork back in 1987, and the "court watch" section of thier web site is, not surprisingly, the biggest draw for me. (Note to Duta: You couldn't be more wrong about FREEDOM and LIBERTY. Check out their Supreme Court section!)
The Lefty Grove Gold Star #17: Politifact
I'm prone to a bit of irony here, giving LEFTY Grove's Start to a RIGHT-Leaning site, but Politifact is objective enough ot fully warrent consideration here. You'll notice that their rival, FactCheck, was honored months ago, and I'm just now getting around to this one, but I think FactCheck's that much better. One thing I like about Politifact is that the recognize half truths, flip-flops etc, raher than just saying "true" or "flase" so some things that are subject ot interpretation get that benefit. Of course... you've got to READ their interpretations sometimes, as they do tend to favor a Conservative framework for most issues, but if anything that makes them even more useful for refuting Right-Wingers when they're called out as "Pant-on-fire."
The Carl Hubbel Gold Star #18: Crooks and Liars
OK, I'm new to this site, so there's not much I can say here. I've seen it cited so often, I'm sure that you are all already very familiar with it and can do a far better job than I can of reviewing it. If you're not? Hard hitting, progressive opinions exposing the worst scumbaggery of the Republicans and Conservatives. The title really says it all. Defintiely my cup of tea.
There you go! Hope you all had a great April and look forward to an even better May.
I'm STILL in the process of adding my HOF to the main page of the blog, but, for reference, previous inductees include:
Ty Cobb's GOLD STAR #1: Media Matters for America
Babe Ruth's GOLD STAR #2: The Skeptic's Dictionary
Honus Wagner's GOLD STAR #3: Snopes
Walter Johnson GOLD STAR #4: Armchair Subversive
Christy Mathewson GOLD STAR #5: Humanism by Joe
Cy Young's GOLD STAR #6: The American Prospect
Nap Lajoie's GOLD STAR #7: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Tris Speaker's GOLD STAR #8: Rational Wiki
Pete Alexander's GOLD STAR #9: Republican Offenders
George Sisler's GOLD STAR #10: Newshounds
Willie Keeler's GOLD STAR #11: Newscorpse
Eddie Collins' GOLD STAR #12: Wikipedia
Lou Gehrig's GOLD STAR #13: FactCheck.org
Rogers Hornsly's GOLD STAR #14: Election-Projection
- and -
Hoss Radbourne's SILVER STAR #1: FAILBlog
Cap Anson's SILVER STAR #2: Some Grey Bloke
Buck Ewing's SILVER STAR #3: Sore Thumbs
Roger Bresnahan's SILVER STAR #4: The Dictatorship.com
Dan Brouthers' SILVER STAR #5: Seanbaby's Super Friends Page
Fred Clarke's SILVER STAR #6: Item Not as Described
Jimmy Collins' SILVER STAR #7: I-am-bored.com
Ed Delahanty's SILVER STAR #8: Baseball-Reference.com
Hugh Duffy's SILVER STAR #9: Menage a 3
Hughie Jennings' SILVER STAR #10: YU&ME: Dream
King Kelly's SILVER STAR #11: Anime News Network
Jessie Burkett's SILVER STAR #11: Ugliest Tattoos, A Gallery of Regret.
Frank Chance's SILVER STAR #13: Netflix
Johnny Evers' SILVER STAR #14: Very Demotivational
Joe McGinnity's SILVER STAR #16: Runescape
Joe Tinker's SILVER STAR #17: Baseball Almanac
Rube Waddell's SILVER STAR #18: Sporcle
Ed Walsh's SILVER STAR #19: Cracked
Jim O'Rourke's TIN STAR : Conservapedia
Jack Chesbro's CARBON STAR: The Global Warming Petition Project
Eddie Plank's LEAD STAR: FoxNation
Tommy McCarthy's PYRITE STAR #15: The Drudge Report
Thursday, April 29, 2010
There are three basic reason to want immigration reform, if you're already an American Citizen: (1) Racism, Xenophobia and Religious Bigotry. (2) Concerns about jobs. Someone may also say, "and resources" but I'll explain why that's nonsense. (3) Concerns about security.
I shouldn't have to explain the bigotry angle, especially in light of my last two posts. And it's not just Mexicans either. How about those Muslims? I've actually heard people say we shouldn't give them student visas! In the words of Gorobei Katayama, "Are you kidding me?" How else do you expect the Middle East to progress and modernize and (dare we say it?) WESTERNIZE if they're young people are not given an opportunity to see first hand what the West and Modern Life has to offer? But bigotry is not a motivation most people are willing to admit to. So let;s give them the benefit of the doubt for now and I'll show you why this IS in fact the primary motivation.
The second reason is JOBS, and more specifically WAGES. Now this is the one area where elements of the Left actually get on board. Unions and Labor advocates would rather see these jobs pay higher, and go to American labor. But the Left's opposition to immigration reform is relatively modest compared to the full-on rant-like fear mongering of the Right. Which is funny, because it seems that this is about the only argument the Right EVER makes in favor of American Labor. Remember: Thea re the people who hate union, fight minimum age increase, outsource jobs to china, put profit ahead of safety (Massey, I'm looking at YOU!) It seems the only time they give a shit about American Labor is when a Mexican comes looking for an opportunity to work hard, send his kids to school and make a better life for his family. Seeing as how every WHITE person's family did that at one point, I'd say this is, at best, despicably hypocritical and at worst... well... see reason number one.
As for them 'draining our resources'? Look: This cheap labor? It IS a resource. It's a resource that every single one of us benefits from. Sure... we could force the farm owner to pay market wages for American Labor. They'd pay several; times as much and it would certainly cut into their profits, even as it made the bulk of our produce skyrocket in price! Would more Americans be employed? Maybe. And that can be good. But does it really HELP if everything costs more and the industry that feeds us is no longer profitable? Those people put food on your table. You think you do, because you PAY for it? Cry me a river. Without them there wouldn't be enough food to BUY. At least until those good ol' market forces kicked in and drive the price high enough to justify the production and increase the supply. And THEN you'd be complaining about how much it cost! So rather than bitching about your kid sitting next a Mexican in the classroom (see reason #1) maybe you should try THANKING those people who busted their asses, getting paid shit, with no benefits, for helping YOU make a better life for YOURSELF.
Now the final reason might be the most principled one. In a post 9/11 world (doesn't it seem like every Right-Wing argument starts out that way?) we can't risk having a loosey-goosey border because a terrorist could sneak in and steal our cheese. Now... I can get behind that REASONING... But as most of you have figured out by now, I have kin of an upside-down way of looking at things and I draw a completely different conclusion from it. I say, "Let them [pretty much] ALL in." Here's why:
Consider what you need for security, especially knowing that we're talking about people who can just WALK here. You need to know WHO they are, WHERE they are and you need the ability to do a BACKGROUND CHECK to look for... Terrorists, yes, but also Drug Dealers, Fugitives, Bandidtos, etc... (Yeah, I'm kidding about the Bandidtos.) And in order to GET this information, you need people to be WILLING to give it. And if you keep telling people, "No, you can't come in" and "If we find you we'll you to jail or back to Mexico" then they have no reason to comply. Especially since it's so hard to keep track of them anyway! So thank about the result of having a system that tries to keep people out (IOW: Panders to reason #1): In doing so, you INCREASE the opportunity for a terrorist to sneak in and hide amongst the millions of undocumented folks.
So what would I do? Simple. I let anyone in who passed a simple background check, provided they registered and kept us informed of their address. I'd let them work, they'd pay taxes (as almost all do anyway) and Id let them make a life for themselves. They can't vote, until they're citizens, but that's their choice. As long as they obey the law? I'd leave them be.
Who would I keep out? Only convicted criminals, wonted men, people of the FBI's terror list, etc... Now, you might think that THESE people wouldn't bother to register. Well, yeah, they probably wouldn't. But if you have someone here, who's NOT in your database, who you CAN'T confirm the status off, they'd pretty much STAND OUT, at least as compared to now, where they're one of MILLIONS. And under a system that GIVES THEM what they want, rather than tries to DENY THEM, I 9and most people) would have a lot less sympathy for those who break the rules. And hey: If every legitimate migrant worker is registered, you can bet far more confidently that the one dude that ISN'T really does have something to hide. In any case, it would make the authorities jobs a LOT easier, if for no other reason than they have about 0.1% of their current caseload,, and THAT would make us more secure.
As for the background check? Shoot. They're not applying for security clearance. It don;t take more than a few days to (1) confirm their identity, (2) Check for warrants and (3) Check for convictions. Clean sheet? Come on in. But we can only do those checks if people are WILLING to cooperate. And there's no reason to expect them to if we make them wait for YEARS, and always tell them NO, and threaten to jail or deport them. Not when then can just walk around.
If you really want to know the difference between reason 1 and reason 3, just ask yourself : Are we trying to keep out Muslim Terrorists or Migrant Farmhands. It an both nearly impossible and completely unnecessary to TRULY secure our southern border and let NO ONE in. Just ain't going to happen, and I don;t know why you'd want to. Your taxes would go up to pay for it, and your grocery bill would go up because of it. We only need to know WHO and WHERE people are. And anyone who;'s NOT a terrorist or a drug-dealer will gladly tell you that, if you're helping them get what they want.
If anyone wants to argue these points, please review your argument against reason #1 before doing so. ;)
So why do these racist stereotypes persist? The way I see it, it’s a special form of Magical Thinking strongly reinforced by Confirmation Bias. Those links will connect you to arguably the BEST material available on those subjects, but I think my claim of ‘Magical Thinking’ might require some explanation.
First of all, ‘Magical Thinking’ is basically non-scientific causal reasoning. In other words: It’s where superstitions come from. Here’s a completely non-partisan example of what I talking about. My Das is an avid golfer. He also had a bad back, and occasionally this affects his game. For many years he swore by the medicinal (magical) power of wearing a copper bracelet. He swore this improved his game, and he had the data to back it up! He put on the bracelet… his game improved. He took it off… it got worse! How could I argue with that?! Well, I might cite the regressive fallacy. You see, chronic pain comes and goes. It gets worse, then it gets better, then it gets worse again. And it’s reasonable to conclude that when it’s BAD, it would affect your golf game. Now… ask yourself this: When are you MOST LIKELY to put that bracelet on? Probably after a few days of bad pain that have started to affect your game. And when would you be most likely to take it off? Probably when you’ve felt pretty good for a few days, and don’t have that nagging reminder in your back to put it back on. If you think about that for a moment, you’ll realize that when you have a condition that waxes and wanes, and you’re sort of being tricked here: You’ll try your magical solution when it’s bad, and then credit it for the inevitable improvement – one that would have happened anyway! And you’ll take it off, and then BLAME THAT for the pain inevitably coming back! Now, this same fallacy is why we have superstitions, religious ritual, alternative medicine, 'as seen on TV' products and any number of other bullshit things that people swear WORK.
So… how does this apply to racism? One of the most common arguments I hear, living in Southeast Michigan, is, “Just look at Detroit.” It's 98% Black, and they’ve ruined it! Now, I will grant you that there IS a connection between Detroit’s Blackness and its state of urban decline, but I hope that I don’t have to explain to most of you why this is not a simple, causal connection. The number of economic factors that lead (and are caused by) to urban decline, the relative impoverishment of minorities, white flight, crime, corruption, etc, etc… Are far too numerous to describe here. But white people left, black people moved in, and the place went to hell. What more proof do you need?!
Correlation is mistaken for causality all the time. And a justification for racist sentiment such as this one is no exception. The logic here is the same as with magical thinking, and it ignores every factor except our desire to blame all the world’s problems on that other tribe while exonerating our own. But it’s not superstitious thinking alone that perpetuates it. There’s also a heavy dose of confirmation bias.
This fallacy basically describes how we are far more likely to remember, and place far more value and emphasis upon, those incidents that reinforce what we already believe than those that contradict it. A man who thinks women are lousy drivers, for example, will remember every woman who ever cut him off, or paused when the light turned green, or lost her way and had to bang a euie, forget about every MAN who ever did the same, and feel that he has more than sufficient data to conclude that women are the inferior drivers. And no amount of auto-insurance industry data that shows that MEN make more at-fault accident claims than women will convince him that what he saw with his own eyes is somehow an incomplete picture. I’m sure you can find numerous parallel examples like this one that support SEXISM, but the same is true of RACISM.
How many people, when discussing immigration, will tell you about all the crimes that these ‘filthy, lazy, uneducated Mexicans, who come in here and drain all our resources’ have caused? Now… first of all, you already know that they’re filtering out most all crimes committed by whites from their minds. And if they DO acknowledge any 'white crimes,' they’ll still BLAME them on the influence of minorities. (After all: We had NO CRIME before all these damned Mexicans moved in, right?) It's like mixing coloreds and whites in the laundry: The whites just get more colored, the coloreds don't get more white now, do they? Now, one only has to consider what was going on in Boston and Chicago and New York in the early 20th centry, for example, back when these cities were almost completely white and yet riddled with violent crime and political corruption, to realize just how much bullshit this conclusion really is. (And if you want to blame the (white) immigrants of the day, I’ll remind you that Tammany Hall was hardly staffed by anyone fresh off the boat!)
I discussed in my last post what my experience with Mexico and with Mexicans has been, and I’ll add that I’ve never worked with, or gotten to know a Black that I could respect and get along with either. And I’m not ignoring the crimes committed by minorities. I’m merely also not ignoring crimes committed by whites. Hey: Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay, and Jeff Skilling, and Goldmann-Sacks and Bernie Ebbers… THESE crimes are 100% White, and each has caused more harm to our country and our economy, and cost us more, than every crime ever committed by a Mexican or a Black in this country combined. But hey: They wear the BLUE face-paint instead of the RED face-paint, so they’re in OUR TRIBE. So it’s only natural that we forget about them, and forgive them, even though they’ve wiped out the life’s saving of millions of people, and the average Black or Mexican can only steal your car or what’s in your wallet. Wrong face paint? We’re just going to fear you more, and we're just more incluined to remember your crimes.
The other reason I think we are naturally drawn to negative stereotypes is our own fragile egos. We can’t stand the thought that we might be inferior in some way, any way, and so we slander the other in what amounts to a defense of our own egos. Mexican’s are lazy? Every one of the hundreds of Mexicans I’ve met make the average American look like a outright bum. And it’s not just negative stereotypes that work this way: Ostensibly positive ones work this way as well.
Take for example, ‘Asians are good at math.’ Well, I went to go to an 80% Asian high school, and I can tell you quite clearly that Asians are NOT ‘better at math’ (or science) on the whole, as a people than the Americans or Europeans are. Do you want to know why they get good grades in these subjects? THEY WORK GOD-DAMNED HARD FOR THEM! And that’s why ‘Asians are good at math’ is in fact a NEGATIVE stereotype: It deprives them of credit for the great effort they put into their studies, dismissing it instead as merely a genetic superiority. And we’d rather do THAT than just admit we’re lazy or try to match their work ethic. (And the more we see how hard we have to work to match them, the more we'd like to think - hope, relly - that they do have sort of genetic advantage. Again: we'd rather make an excuse that admit defeat and give credit where it's due.
Also, one also has to realize that the average American only sees the BEST of what, say, China or Japan has to offer. Many Americans have gone to school with the son or daughter of a Asian-American engineer or businessman or entreprenuer. How many have met a typical Chinese subsistence farmer? And I’m not denigrating them either. There are plenty of illiterate, uneducated white people as well, right in this very country. Hey: Every country has their share of people like this. But to claim that this is ALL that’s in say, Mexico, or to deny that there are any in Japan, is every bit as harmful and insulting to both groups, and to every individual within each group.
And I don’t want anyone to think I’m claiming to be any better here! I still check my door locks when a group of black people walk by my car. And I would still feel more comfortable if I was carrying a gun when I’m in Mexico. And as I’m not ignorant of the dangers that certain situations pose, I’m also not completely immune to the irrational thoughts that something comes with from those situations, into other areas of our lives. Also, I have to say that I LOVE IT when I catch a Japanese or German engineer (both of whom I've worked with in my career) really screw something up. In my experience these groups both look down on American engineers, the way Americans look down on Mexican labor. So I love it when they accidentally reveal a little bit of good old fashioned HUMANITY. You can call it schadenfreude, but I take it as a reminder that these people are not machines; that they are, in fact, perfectly imperfect HUMAN BEINGS. And I’d love to say or think that I’m perfect, but I know the fact is that I’m not. The only advantage I have is that I realize this and that I want to be better than that.
For a more humorous take on stereotypes, please see Cracked.com's skewering of the five most statistically full of shit national stereotypes.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Now… it should go without say for any of my regular readers that I am completely opposed to this new law. It’s beyond racist – it’s downright fascist. It’s the kind of thing the Nazi’s did to root out suspected Jews and that we did in our country, prior to the civil war, to Blacks and Freedmen and escaped slaves living in the North, who, lacking the proper paperwork, faced deportation and enslavement to the south. There is such a long, dark and despicable history of this kind of nonsense that I fail to see how “Show me your papers” can be remotely acceptable to ANY American.
Or, as the Mexican-American driver who picked us up and drove us to the plant said, “You can be pulled over now for driving with a sun-tan.”
I was a bit surprised that there was not MORE venom, to be honest, but perhaps he figured he should keep things polite in mixed company. That and this particular gentleman is also one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, so maybe that's just not his way. Seriously, it’s like taking a ride with Cheech Marin. He even looks and sounds a bit like him. But I digress.
The other thing that surprised me at first was that I saw no support, at all, from ANYONE, regarding this law. And you’d think in a border town, you’d have a considerable amount of support. I mean… if there’s a THREAT, it’s going to hit them first, right? But I as talked to more people, I found over and over that the people in border towns have a unique perspective on the issue: To them, the issue of immigration has a HUMAN face to it. They invariably have friends and co-workers on both sides of the border. To them, these people that will now face this unreasonable harassment are their friends and their neighbors and co-workers and in some cases employees. They LIVE with and WORK with and PLAY with these PEOPLE. And thus they see them as PEOPLE. And when you put a human face on a problem, it becomes a lot harder to look another human in the eye and say, “No. I will not help you. I will not protect you. I will not respect your rights, or your humanity.” The only people who can look at someone and say that, who can look as some, living and breathing right in front of them and feel nothing but fear and hatred, are racists.
Now, I’m not suggesting that those living farther from the border, who feel this same fear, and who support the law, are racist. Not at all. If you’ve never MET a Mexican, then there’s no reason to expect your opinion of them to be educated by more than stereotypes, and the imagery that Fox News shows you, with the intention of feeding that fear. The racist is merely the person who, upon meeting someone who doesn’t FIT the stereotype, refuses to let go of it. I’ve met precious few people who have actually gotten to actually know Mexicans, who still buy into the stereotypes afterwards. And those that do? Well, they’re either cops or racists. And I say cops, because police officers are another group that have unique perspective on humanity: They typically only ever see the worst of it. So while I don’t excuse a cop who’s racist, in that case, I can at least understand where it comes from. All the [name your racial subgroup]’s that s/he’s interacts with are usually being arrested and charged with crimes. And while they should recognize this fact, I can’t fault someone as much who’s merely reaching the conclusion that the data they have supports. Although… as my relatively racially insensitive cousin would attest to, even after going on a fairly racist tirade about all the various immigrant groups he’s had to deal with: There’s no trash like white trash. Even in his Right-Wing eyes, they’re STIILL the worst. He still dreads the trailer-park call more than any other. I find that oddly and ironically amusing. But I digress.
As for the stereotype? Let me tell you something about Mexicans: These people work hard. They work like dogs and get paid SHIT. And I’ve met no shortage of Mexican managers and engineers that are smart as whips, and work harder than I even try to. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent (if you’d gathered that yet) but I’ve stood awestruck at some of the things these guys have come up with, and the production lines they’ve designed and built. No way I could ever do that. No way in hell. And I’m an engineer! And the line operators? Oh my god, break neck speed, with many, many steps in each operation, and yet this plant has won quality awards! So these people should be the poster children for hard work and ingenuity, and instead they’re described as lazy and stupid. And do you know what they’re paid for this, including the cost of benefits? $65 dollars a WEEK. For a 40-hour shift! Now, I do realize that $65 dollars goes a little farther in Mexico than it does here, but still! For $65 a week, you’d be lucky to get me to even show up! Let alone give a shit about the job, or do it well! And the ones that DO come here? Those hardened criminals, who’s only crime is walking across an arbitrary line in the sand as the sought a better life for themselves and their family? These people work the SHITTIEST jobs available, again get paid SHIT, and in this country get NO benefits for doing so. These people work hard in a way that puts most Americans to shame.
I thought we were a country that valued hard work? I thought we were a country that valued entreprenuerial spirit? That valued that drive to excel, to build a better life for yourself and your family? That celebrated a person who, like my father and so many of our parents, the first in their family to go to college? Well… apparently only if your brown skin really did come from the sun, and wasn’t something you were born with.
Well, these people are my colleagues and co-workers and many have become my friends. And I’ve had a human face put on that stereotype and on the "problem" of immigration, and I can no longer abide the racial sentiments of those who have experienced no more of the Mexican culture than what Taco Bell has to offer. I CARE about these people, because I KNOW these people. And I won’t stand by while their hard work and talent and ingenuity are slandered.
As far as I’m concerned, Governor Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain are unfit to serve the public, for giving into to this fear and xenophobia.
I plan to do a separate post on stereotypes before doing one on immigration.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
(For the record, I was absolutely fine with the choice of Justice Sotomayor, and while their may have been more Liberal choices available, she has so far been on the side of freedom and liberty in the only 5-4 decision thus far, and I'm willing to bet that she'll never be to the Right of Justice Kennedy nor join the Facist wing in any 6-3 decisions. In any case I don't see any reason to believe that Justice Wood would VOTE any farther to the Right than Justive Stevens did, and that's good enough for me.
What the 'Times article highlights is what I see as the single most important attribute for the nomonee to posses: The ability to influence those who might disagree with her. She has a record of being able to influnce and win over the two conservatives she worked with on the appeals court, and by extension, should be able to pursuade Justice Kennedy. That fact that she does not alienate her opponents (I'm talking on the BENCH now, not in congress or in the public!) is critical, because Justice Kennedy is, for better or worse, the most powerful man in the free world right now, and in any contentious case involving civil liberty, it will be HIS VOTE ALONE that decides the fate of those freedoms and liberties. And we cannot allow the Right wing to take anything else away from us! We are already well beyond the point at which I say, "THIS FAR, NO FARTHER!"
The President's choice must not be chosen as a 'consensus builder' in Congress, or even in the public's eye. But they should absolutely be a 'consesus builder' in the COURT. (Although admittedly by 'consensus,' I mean the four liberals, plus Kennedy.) So from that POV, at this point I'll go out on a limb and name Judge Wood as my front running pick as well.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Limbaugh is now beyond all redemption in my book. He's called for a memorial for Koresh and he's rationalized, even sympathized with McVeigh. He's now apologizing for psychoaths and terrorists and traitors. These men are not Patriorts and niether is he. If you cannot unequivocably condemn either Koresh or McVeigh, then clearly NOTHING will qualify as "too far" or "too extreme" in your warped view. The man is traitorous, sociopathic scum.
Now, that may sound strange coming on the heals of three posts about censorship, but don't get me wrong. I wouldn't, for a minute, think of having the Government pull him from the air, or punish him in any way that wouldn't pass full Constitutional muster. But I can't for the life of me figure out why people continue to listen to this scumbag. Are there really THAT MANY people who sympathize THAT MUCH with Koresh and McVeigh?
In the words of Gorobei Katayama, "Are you kidding me?"
Now... Aside from Limbaugh it's been just over a year since the Right Wing completely lost their fucking minds. And as much as I'd love to elaborate on that, I just don't think I could come close to doing as good a job as one of my favorite bloggers, philosophers and authors, Professor Bob Carroll.
Please check that out. All I can do for this beautiful piece of work is to pay it the highest compliment I can and say "I wish I'd written it!"
Now, pornography in general has precious few allies in politics. And that's not really all that surprising: The Christians [claim to] hate it on the Right, the Feminists hate it on the Left and no one in the middle really wants to stand up and declare, "Hey, I LIKE PORNOGRAPHY!"
So if you're going to take on censorship, Porn is a pretty good place to start. And kiddie-porn might be the least sympathetic issue of them all.
No, I'm not going to defend kiddie porn!
But awhile back I heard about some software that a company was developing that could recognize and track innappropriate or illegal images on the 'Net. They were selling it as a tool to comabt kiddie-porn, but in theory it could be used for pretty much ANYTHING deemed inappropriate. They way it was described, the way it would work is that you could flag an image, and the get a record of everyone who clicked on, and/or downloaded that image and you could then go after that person (for example) for possession of child pornography.
And I thought, not only "What a terrifying idea," but also, "What a stupid way to address the problem!"
Let's assume for the moment that I have a clearly inappropriate or illegal image - perhaps the picture of a women in a public restroom taken without her knowledge or consent. Now, let's take computers out of the equation for the moment, because people just get stupid when they are involved in anything law-related. So let's say I do the old-world equivalent of posting said picture on the 'Net: Let's say I blow it up to 100 feet tall and hang it up in the town square.
Now, clearly this woman is being vicvtiminzed, and something must be done.
Now... According to the logic behind this software, no action would be taken against the person who took the photograph or the person who hung it up. Also the photo would not be taken down. Instead the police would just stand by and arrest everybody who happened to walk by and LOOK AT IT.
Does that seem backwards to anyone else?
If there is a website that's distrubuting kidde-porn, SHUT IT DOWN and ARREST THE WEBMASTER for distribution of child pornography. It is painfully obvious to me that THAT is the appropriate response, and that it punnishes those who are actually reponsible for victimizing the child and/or other victim. Go after the producer and distributer for Pete's sake! Why the hell do I even CARE about some guy who downloaded it?! How (unless they are PAYING) are they really committing a CRIME here?
What's more, and I'll admit that I'm not altogether up on the latest laws, but at one point it was illegal to bring in Japanese Hentai that featured under-aged sex. Now, without attacking or defending the tastes of those who might watch such a thing, let's consider what it means to OUTLAW CARTOONS that feature under-aged sex. This means that I could sit in a room, by myself, with nothing but a pad of paper and a couple of pencils... and commit a crime.
Does THAT seem just a little bit absurd to anyone else? Who's the victim of this crime, I wonder? Because the only victim I see, the only person who is being wronged there, would be the guy who's being arrested for DRAWING A PICTURE.
Now, I said this was non-partisan, and it IS, because like I said, It's not like PORN has a whole lot of allies, politically speaking. But why do we always say "I'll defender the KKK" when we talk about free speech? Personally? I think Larry Flynt has done more than any other American to defend our freedom of expression. And while there are still the feminists on the Left, we know who really has the heft when trying to fight these freedoms. (Family Values sound familiar to anyone?) And while we'll defend the KKK's right to speak, or so we claim, it's pretty clear to me that "freedom of speech" only matter to a Republican if you're saying something s/he wants to hear.
A couple of points, for historical perspective, brought to you by the Political Party that opposes Net Neutrality and the Fairness act on the absurd grounds that allowing people to speak somehow constitutes censorship.
From 1930 to 1968, the motion picture industry was subject to the Motion Picture Production Code. This was a series of guidelines that clearly outlined what could, and what could not be put in a movie. And unlike todaysrating system - which merely that audiences be of a certain age and that they be advised as to the overall content, this system was absolute and could not deviated from. It WAS cencorship, textbook censorship, and no serious argument can be made otherwise.
Now why is this relevant? Simple: It was created and written by REPUBLICAN William Harrison Hays. So don't think for a minute that the Right's penchant for manipulating the media is anything NEW.
There another example that I'd like to offer: The Comics Code Authority. This triumpgh of decency pandering over artistic freedom came into effect in 1954 - smack in the middle of the good ol' days, according to today's conservatives. Now... the Comics Code, which still exists, is a voluntary regulatory board formed by the industry. Now... WHY would an industry voluntarily adopt standard that would made their stories REALLY SUCK? (And for anyone who disputes that I offer the first guidline: Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal [or] to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice. Great. So I can't have a sympathetic villain or a conflicted hero. NO WONDER comic books were always seen as purile and juvenile: They HAD TO BE, under regulations!) Again: WHY would an industry voluntarily adopt such constraining standards? Simple: the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency was focusing on, and threatening to censor, COMIC BOOKS of all things. What a time that must have been - COMIC BOOKS, rather than guns and drugs were the cause of all the world's ills!
And who called this absurd circus into existance? Why REPUBLICAN Senator Robert Hendrickson of New York. Apparently Werewolves and Vampires and veiled references to masturbation were the biggest issues the Senator felt needed tackling in the country. No wonder the Russians beat us to space.
And while it has nothing to do with CENSORSHIP - the Volstead Act (better know as Prohibition) was also a Republican meausre, vetoed by DEMOCRATIC President Wilson, who was then overruled by the REPUBLICAN Congress.
The Republicans have been censoring and suppressing freedom for almost a hundred years now.
Add Joe McCarthy to the mix?
Why are we still LISTENING to these fools?!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
In a fairly recent discussion about Net Neutrality, I was presented with the absolutely absurd point by RW poster Seahawks123, that Net Neutrality was somehow tantamount to censorship. He likened it to the fairness doctrine, another vastly overated "threat" to "free speech" that the Right loves to fear monger about.
Now, first of all, regarding the fairness doctrine:
1) The Democrats are NOT trying to reinstate it. I don't know why not. It could only help civil discourse and foster more open and honest political debate at this point. (And the fact that the Right isn't advocating for a required rebutal, sort of puts a stake, once and for all, in the idea that the media leans to the left, no?) But, for better or worse, there are no serious proposal pending to re-instate it.
2) In arguing against it, as is par for the course, the Right can't help but distort what it represents. All it requires is that the opposition be allowed to say their piece. WHAT'S SO WRONG WITH THAT?! It does not (and never did) require equal time. After three hours of Rush Limbaugh, Clear Channel would have been in perfect compliance just to give some token liberal 10 seconds to quote Joe Peschi from My Cousin Vinny and say, "Everything that guy just said was bullshit."
3) They always say that it impinges on free speech, and thus that's it tantamount to censorship. But for the life of me, I'll just never understand how making sure someone has the chance to speak somehow constitutes a LIMIT on free speech! Seems to me that only a coward who KNOWS HE'S WRONG or KNOWS HE'S LYING would fear hearing (or having people hear) what his opponent might say. Personally, I wouldn't dream of editing out (or moderating) a conseravtive's resonse to anything I've posted here. If it were thoughtful, I'd just deal with it, and if it were absurd and abusive I'd simply say, "Look at what I have to deal with!" But, if you're as intellectualy bankrupt as Rush Limbaugh / Glenn Beck / Sean Hannity / Mike Savage / Ann Coulter / etc... I can see why being forced to give even 10 seconds to an opposition voice would cause you to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
ANYWAY, the really goofy thing here is that Net Neutrality doesn't work at all like the fairness doctrine. And it doesn't stop anyone from saying anything or force anyone to give time or space to let anyone else say something. What it DOES DO is guarentee everyone an equal opportunity to speak. It says that NO ONE can be cut out. Well, that's pretty much EXACTLY what free speech is all about, isn't it?! But the bulk of the Right (as usual) can't wrap their tiny little brains aorund even so simple a concept as this. This becuase:
1) The Democrats support it. Therefore they MUST oppose it. Doesn't matter what it is. Which is just fucking stupid.
2) The Right Wing Talking heads (who are all paid by the corporations who would lose power and influence under Net Neutrality) oppose it. Therefore the MUST oppose it. Doesn't matter what the implications are for US, the prviate citizens. Which is, again, just fucking stupid.
3) Per their talking points, ANYTHING a private, for-profit corporation does is GOOD, and ANYTHING and EVERYTHING the Government does is BAD. (Which might just be the MOST fucking stupid mentality of all!)
And the sad thing is that I honestly do not believe I am distorting their position here! As far as I can tell, and I would LOVE for someone to explain to me how I'm wrong, letting private, for profit corporations decide which messages get priority and which messeges get to be access at dial-up speeds is NOT censorship, but a law saying that ALL SITES, regardless of their message, get the same bandwith somehow IS.
IOW: Making censorship illegal, is censorship.
I'll say it one more time: That is just fucking stupid. There is simply no other conclusion that can be reached. by a sentient, free-thinking life form.
So let me make this crystal clear: I'm an 100%, unequivocably in favor of Net Neutrality. And that means that Matt Drudge and Fox Nation and Conservapedia and all the other RW propaganda sites will all have the same opportunity to put their ideas out their as I do. And I'm fine with that. A-OK, in fact. Because THAT is what free speech, no... that is what AMERICA is all about, and that is what makes America great. To oppose Net Neutrality is to oppose free speech itself. So... it's really no surprise that the Right opposes it: If they can't silence thier opposition, and dominate ever corner of a debate, they can't WIN. And they KNOW this. So of course they want the power to stick the opposition sites on dial-up speed!
But we, as liberals, know that (1) We have nothing to fear from these clowns in a open and honest debate and (2) that if we were put on EQUAL footing, that we'd actually have MORE of a say than we do now. We know what a rude awakening it will be for the bulk of the Right to discover just how much in their favor even the parts of the media that are relativly critcial of them really are. So yeah: To me it's no suprise that they find the idea of REAL free speech terrifying. It would only make them look like stupid, uneducated hypocrites - something their complicit corporate media has thus far been unwilling to do, even though it's about as difficult as putting on a hat.
(There's a PART TWO to this, but it's late, and I've got sh...tuff to do. So I'll do that part tomorrow.)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I’m getting a little tired of hearing about miracles lately. And I’d like to share two particularly egregious uses of this term lately that really irked me in this regard.
The first one was a story that we heard this past weekend. We were hanging around with some conservative, religious friends of ours. (Nothing extreme mind you, they’re good people and a great family with wonderful kids – just decidedly conservative and definitely religious.) ANYWAY, they were telling us a story about a friend of theirs who’s child recently had a heart transplant. Now, we’re talking about a YOUNG CHILD here – 8 or 9 years old? He’s on their son’s baseball team. Last year he couldn’t even run the bases due to his heart problems. (They let him hit, but let someone else pinch run for him.) And just recently, after the transplant, and after the recovery, etc… he hits a home run and runs the bases by himself.
Now is that an AMAZING STORY? Yes. MOVING? Yes. Bring a grown man to tears? YES. And this kid met Tiger infielder Brandon Inge while he in the hospital, and Inge, after hitting a home run himself in a game for the kid himself, WAS brought to tears in the dugout. So it DID, in fact, bring a grown man to tears! Hey: It’s a truly inspiration story! To go from planning the kid’s funeral arrangements to watching him hit a home run a run the bases and living a good, strong, healthy life? It’s amazing. I’m still floored by it, even as I write this. But something she said has stuck in my craw every since: “You just don’t see miracles all that often.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve said many times that I respect people’s faith and this time was no different. I have no problem with people having FAITH, but in saying this was a MIRACLE, she was effectively crediting God with his survival. But the REAL reason this child is alive today is because DOCTORS went to school, DOCTORS learned how to perform this procedure, DOCTORS did research to develop the procedure, PATIENTS died when the procedure was still in it’s infancy… What I’m saying is, that MANY, MANY people hade HUGE sacrifices of their time, their money, their talent and in some case their very lives, in order to make this moment possible. That this child was even alive, let alone thriving, was an amazing HUMAN accomplishment. So please pardon me if I’m not bending over backwards to thank God for it. The only hand that God played, if any, was in giving that poor kid a bum ticker in the first place. If anything, HUMANS intervened to either defy God’s conscious will, or else fix what he failed to get right. To “thank god for the miracle” is to dismiss all the WORK and SACRIFICE that so many HUMANS did to make it happen.
Now… you might think that I’d be more accepting of the invocation of the word “miracle” as it relates to THIS STORY, about an 11 year old girl with Asberger’s Syndrome, lost for 4 days in a snake infested Florida swamp being found and rescued alive and well, save for some scratches and bug bites. And it was just dumb luck that the guy who found her even did so! So that was LUCKY. And it was LUCKY she wasn’t bitten by a snake. And it was LUCKY that she wasn’t eaten by an alligator. And it was LUCKY she didn’t fall and break her leg, or hit her head, or drown. And in [Obi-Wan’s] experience: There’s no such thing as LUCK. So why can’t I concede this one? With all that LUCK (or random chance working out in her favor) leading to her survival, why can’t I concede that God intervened? Why can’t I call this a MIRACLE?
Simple. Because in doing so I would have to conclude that God is evil.
How do I reach that judgment? Simple. Where was God a few months ago in Haiti? Where was God every time a child DOESN’T survive something? Where was God when my children were born with Autism? Where is God when all these children die as their idiot parents try PRAYING and FAITH HEALING in rejection of MODERN MEDICINE? Where was God back when our species’ infant mortality rate was 50% in the first year of life? Where was God’s guidance when the Church was deciding what to do with pedophile Priests? Where was God when my Grandfather died of esophageal cancer six months after retired, after busting his ass his whole life to provide for his family? Where was God two years ago when my very dear friend – a regular churchgoer, I might add - from a brain tumor? If that’s God’s work? FUCK God.
To credit God with ACTING in any one case, is to say the he consciously chose not to act in every other case. And if we accept this, I would find it very odd that God seems to favor us more and more as a species as MEDICAL SCIENCE improves, even as we become LESS RELIGIOUS. Does God just like babies more now than he did a century ago? Is a 0.1% (or whatever it is now) infant mortality rate do to GOD’S work – or HUMANITY’S? (I think the answer is there is obvious, and I’m going to punch you if you conclude otherwise!) Not only does God show seem to favor us more and more (sarcasm) as medical science improves, but he even seems to favor CONUTRIES these days that do more medical research, regardless of their native religion or level of belief. One’s faith, one’s religion, has nothing to do with it. Antibiotics don’t wok any better or any worse in Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s, Buddhists or Atheists. And no group is any more or less likely to get a disease or survive a disaster. The only factors than make any difference all – modern infrastructure, medical science, civilized society, etc… – are all the result of purely HUMAN endeavor.
And what’s more, I see this all as a SERIOUS indictment of intelligent design as well. As I look around, as I learn (and realize) more about how both our species and our societies evolved, I can not help but reach the conclusion that this DID in fact all come about randomly. I can see and accept NO OTHER explanation. Between all the things that go wrong with our bodies and minds in terms of disease, all the peril we face from the natural world, and how we destroy each other with war and poison each other with pollution… I’m sorry but this is just not the work of an INTELLIGENT designer.
The “I” in ID, if anything, stands for INCOMPETENT.
If there IS a God, or some other form of DESIGNER, either he’s stupid, or he’s evil. No one would deliberately design such a weak, vulnerable, irrational species like ours, and put it a world as fraught with danger as this one, unless they were either C-Students, or Psychopaths.
And THAT’S why the above examples aren’t miracles. These kids didn’t survive BECAUSE of God’s work. If he’s up there at all, they survived despite his capriciousness and/or incompetence. (Evil or Stupid – take your pick.) Believing otherwise is no more than a comfortable delusion that dismisses the work of the flech and blood HUMAN BEINGS that REALLY made these “miracles” happen.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
2) I have a theory that wildly fluctcating, and especially really HIGH ($4.25/gallon?) gas prices are the cause, and especially the TRIGGER, of many of our worst economic problems. Now, at some point I'll get around to explaining that, but if you ACCEPT it for now, you can see one of the differences between how a conservtive and a liberal think: A conservative concludes that this is a reason to DRILL MORE, while a Liberal concludes that this is a reason to develop alternative energy and stop relying so much on oil.
3) Another difference between liberals and conservatives...
When I was getting my MBA, I had this real libertarian, free-market loving Professor for two semesters of Business Strategy. He claimed to have "an almost religous belief in the power of the free market to solve all the world's problems." And he really was a brilliant man. His name was Karmalash Kumar and 99% of Graduates in my lcass would have named him as the one professor they respected the most; including me, despite our political differences. I really, truly respected him. But one day in class he was citing a study that purported to show that the idea that a company that acted "socially responsibly" did NOT in fact see any increase in profit for this, as the 'liberal' conventional wisdom would believe. The study tracked [something like] 100 companies, half of which were considered 'socially responsible' or 'admired' and half considered 'despised' or 'socially irresponsible.' And it tracked their stock prices over a ten year time period. And do you know what? The results were exactly the same! So he concluded that the was no pay-off to acting resposibly.
And which point I raised my hand and asked, "But... if you're going to make exactly the same amount of money either way, why wouldn't you just want to do the right thing? Especially since it, apparently, doesn't cost you anything to do so?"
He was floored. And his only reply was, "Gee, I... never thought about it like that."
I'm really PROUD of that.
(And it just goes to show how two people can completely agree on the FACTS yet reach wildly different conclusions in their JUDGEMENT.)
4) I just saw 'Inglourious Basterds' a couple of weeks ago. That is a kick-ass fucking movie, and possibly the best writing job Quentin Taratino has ever done. And that's saying something.
5) I'm trying to teach myself how to draw [better.] What do you think?
6) In the Case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled such that Corporations would no longer be limitied as to how much money the could spend trying to influence elections. Now... putting aside that it's basically self-evident how despicable and indefensible that decision IS, in their opinion the majority claimed that "the first amendment was written in terms of speech, not speakers" and that "Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker."
So... my question is... How the FUCK do you square that "logic" with those same justices' opinion in Morse v. Frederick (aka: Bong Hits for Jesus) where not only the fact that the "speaker" was STUDENT was particularly significant, but the fact thay his MESSAGE, one that the felt was 'obscene' or 'offensive' or whatever, was also somehow significant?!
I was under the impression, mistaken apparently, that it was most most important to defend "FREE SPEECH" when the speaker or the message was one that you DISAGREED with. I guess that's just a bunch of academic bullshit to these clowns. I so hate the Reactionaty Wing of the SCOTUS.
6) "Thank you" to ClassicLiberal, BTW, for giving me that term to call them!
7) Why is it that my web brower only ever responds really quickly when I mistype the URL I want?
Prior to that, the vast majority of non-unanimous case lined up with Rehnquist, Thomas and Scalia on one side, Breyer, Souter, Stevens and Ginsberg on the other and both O'Connor and Kennedy as swing votes. And O'Connor sided with the liberal wing more often than Kennedy did. By the time Bush was done The Right had Roberts, Thomas, Scalia and ALITO voting reliably in one four-vote block, Breyer, Souter, Stevens and Ginsberg reliably voting in the other... and suddenly Justice Anthony Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world. (Honestly? Looking at how things worked out? At this point, I'd have strongly preferred Harriet Myers! File that under, "Be careful what you wish for!")
So Obama has now replaced the retiring Justice Souter with Justice Sotomayor, and will soon have to nominate a replacement for Stevens. And not to be morbid, but givien Justice Ginsberg's health issues, I'll give you even odds that he'll be facing a third vacancy within this term, and I'll guarantee you he'll be filling her seat if he wins reelection! Now just imagine for a moment what the prospect for our civil liberties going forward would look like if JOHN McCAIN (with Sarah Palin whispering in his ear ala Greema Wormtounge) had the opportunity to replace 3/4 of the court’s liberal wing! The ACLU might as well close up shop right now! And I have to tell you, knowing that the three of the four memebers of the "liberal wing" were also the three oldest members of the court made another conservtaive presidency a truly terrifying prospect for me. How this wouldn't scare the crap out of ANY freedom loving American, I'll just never understand.
Anyway, that's all I really wanted to say. As for who Obama chooses? I'm not all that concerned. I'm sure it will be someone, like the other three members of the Liberal Block that reliable VOTE liberally. But that's not really the problem. The problem is that whomever he chooses will probably not have the charisma and influence that Stevens had, and thus will almost certainly not have the level of skill in persuading Justice Kennedy that Justice Stevens had. So while we'll still have our FOUR reliable votes, we'll inevitably be less able and likely to get that fifth vote. Can't be helped, but if McCain had won, it wouldn't even be a issue.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
First off all, I hope that everyone who’s read my blog, visited some of the sites I’ve linked to or seen me go after the climate deniers on MMFA, understands that Global Warming is an issue that I take very seriously. I’m certainly no climate denier and pollution in general is also something that I really take to heart. But I’m also an ENGINEER. And I tend to look at energy issue through those eyes and NOT political ones.
It should go without saying that I’m all for Solar, Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, and any other form of energy generation that does not consume fuel. And personally I don’t buy the statement that SOLAR TECHNOLOGY is not “ready” to generate our electricity. The Solar technology is FINE. The REAL problem is with our electric grid. A century ago we went with WESTINGHOUSE’s model instead of EDISON’s. You see... Edison bascially envisioned everyone having there own, small, household (DC) power source. Westinghouse envisioned huge, centralized power stations that sent (AC) electricity to the surrounding areas. And that, of course, is the model that won out. And if you think about it, Solar power (at least at the consumer level) is closer to Edison’s model. And our “grid” just wasn’t designed with that in mind.
The other problem is one of initial cost. You always hear, from big oil, big coal, etc… that fossil fuels generate the cheapest electricity. That’s true, from a certain point of view, but it’s also complete bullshit. Solar energy is FREE. Wind energy is FREE. You don’t pay for the wind any more that you pay for the sun. Neither consumes any fuel, so how can it cost ANYTHING per kilowatt hour? It’s per usage cost is… NOTHING. Now, sure, there’s a setup cost. You have to BUILD THE DAMNED THING first. (Unlike coal mines, oil fields and power plants, which I guess just grow naturally out of the ground, right?) So whenever you hear the “cost” of Solar, Wind, etc… stated on a per kilowatt basis, you’d better ask over what amount of time they are allocating the initial setup costs. Considering that a solar panel has no moving parts, and thus won’t “wear out,” it can essentially last indefinitely. Thus any attempt to depreciate it over just a year or two, is completely intellectually dishonest.
Personally, if had to design an electrical system from the ground up NOW, I would go with about a 90% Edison model and about 10% Westinghouse. Because if you turned every ROOF in America into an equally sized Solar panel, you could EASILY generate enough power for residential use, without a doubt. And sure, each house would also need a big battery or two to store excess energy in case you get a cloudy week or two (like we’re having in Michigan right now) and your solar source is just not up to snuff. After that just connect everyone, similar to how we are now except that each house is a GENERATOR of power, rather than a recipient.
Now… it IS likely that we’ll need some additional power for INDUSTIAL centers – assembly plants, steel plants, etc… and for one OTHER thing that it’s high time we switched over to: ELECTRIC CARS. There are only two things that are needed to make the electric car practical for personal use. (1) GET RID OF THE IC ENGINE! It’s 800 pounds of unnecessary steel that would serve no purpose at all if… (2) make the batteries interchangeable, so that I can pull into a service station, drop off my old battery and pick up a new one. (They’d recharge my battery and give it to the next guy.) For this, they could charge, say… in the $10-$20 range to cover the CHARGE and the depreciation of the actual battery. (Batteries would have to be replaced after a couple of years, anyway.) Do THIS? And the only thing we’d need ANY gas/diesel/dino-fuel for is LARGE Freight carriers: Namely: Trucks, Trains, Planes and Ships. I’ll admit that I don’t see our battery technology being up to the task of moving huge amounts of mass over great distances anytime soon. But if the only things on the road burning gas were the already highly efficient diesel trucks? That would be HUGE in terms of pollution reduction.
Now…question is: How would I generate that extra power (for plants and cars) and also, how would I generate power in the mean time until we get to the point of what I’m describing? Coal? No fucking way. We should NEVER build another Coal burning plant ever again. Period. You can’t burn it cleanly. Believing anything to the contrary is nonsense. Even if you could, you can’t MINE it cleanly: It destroys mountains, levels forests and pollute rivers and water supplies with all manner of assorted nastiness. And finally: You can’t store the LEFT OVER ASH cleanly either. Coal is dirty, vile, nasty disgusting stuff, and it’s HIGH TIME we started weaning off of it. Natural Gas? Not bad, but you still have a significant contribution to Global Warming to deal with. You see: You simply cannot BURN a HYDROCARBON without producing CARBON DIOXIDE. It’s a chemical impossibility. Hydro-electric is cleans, but DAMS have some of the largest ecological footprints you can imagine. They alter entire ecosystems. So while they’re CLEAN, they’re not really clean. So what short- to near-term solution do I favor? (And this is where I break with Liberals BIG TIME…)
Nuclear power is the only currently feasible source of energy that can generates anywhere nears the amount of energy we need, without production ANY greenhouse gases. Now… I know there are concerned with safety. If you have those, I suggest you learn about the pebble-bed reactor design. Perfectly safe. And that’s coming from a liberal. Also… I am not ignoring that nuclear power produces some of the single nastiest pollutants one can imagine. But it is specifically BECAUSE of those pollutants that I choose Nuclear over the [Burning Stuff] model. And this is where I stop thinking politically, and start thinking like an engineer:
Although I certainly wouldn't want that shit in my back yard, if I had to chose between having to find a technical solution to safely storing 100,000 tons of uranium, versus 100,000 tons of CO2, I’d pick the Uranium any day. Why? Simple: It’s a dense solid. 100,000 tons of Uranium is about the size of a house. 100,000 tons of gaseous CO2 is about the size of ALASKA. What the fuck are you going to do with that much STUFF? Where the hell would you put it? How would you compress it down into a manageable form? (Hint: You’d run compressors that use MORE energy, thus creating MORE of what it is you’re trying to manage! Oy vey!) But we can do something with a SOLID. Compared to a GAS? The technical problem is almost trivial. I agree that we really do need to do a much better job than we do NOW… But I don’t think we can just throw a switch and change our whole power system overnight either. So in the meantime, Nuclear is the ready option, that meets the need, and that pollutes the planet the LEAST.
So, after all that… We come down to it: How do I feel about Obama opening up the East Coast to OIL DRILLING? You know what? I’m actually OK with it. Not HAPPY, but it’s not yet a deal-breaker for me, even after all I’ve said here. Right now? I’m inclined to view it as one of the same ‘necessary evils’ in energy legislation that I saw in the effort for health care reform: One of those things that might not be popular, but just may be necessary to get something done. And before anyone jumps on me for that statement alone, let me qualify it:
1) I’m very glad that many regions are still off limits, including some of the more fragile, as yet untouched ecosystems. (Like ANWR, for example.)
2) Increased drilling was a part of his energy plan, even on the campaign trail, if you recall, so it’s something I expected anyway.
3) I’m also hearing about CAFE standard being raised to 35 mpg for ALL VEHICLES. I really like that idea, but even so I’d be ecstatic even if it were only 30 mpg.
4) I’m really reserving judgment until I see what role alternative energy and green energy will play in the overall policy moving forward and how serious he is about investing in it.
If throwing the oil industry a bone is what it takes to keep them from eliminating the new CAFE standards, or halting investment in green energy? Fine – let ‘em drill. If the states and the coastal residents want to fight it? Let ‘em. Those people tend to vote Republican, so it’s really their fight anyway. Now… if Obama tosses out that alternative energy investment; opens up the Gulf, the West Coats and ANWR to drilling; kills the new CAFE standards; doesn’t sign any global climate treaties? Fine. I’ll admit I was wrong and gladly join my friend, ClassicLiberal, in the effort to remove him from office. (Assuming there’s a VIABLE alternative and the nomination of a new candidate doesn’t hand the Presidency to Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal. Becasue otherwise: I’ll STILL stick with Obama!)
One final thing…
I never believed in “Drill baby drill.” (I don’t think any thinking person ever really did.) And the best way to break our dependence on foreign oil will be to REDUCE OUR COPNSUMPTION. I know this. I realize that you could drill on every square inch of America and we’d still be buying foreign oil. We simply burn too much of it. BUT, I hate $4.00 a gallon gas as much as anyone. (More so, maybe.) And while I know that this little bit of drilling (or even a LOT of drilling) won’t impact the price of gas more than a nickel or so (at best) I also realize that the market is and IRRATIONAL thing. And if throwing the industry a bone helps STABALIZE gas prices a bit? (Even for no good reason?) I’ll take that. And there’s another thing: MARKET FORCE (high prices) will NEVER get us off Gas by themselves. Reason: Any widely adapted application of green energy will reduce demand for fossil fuels. So the GREENER we get, the CHEAPER Gas (etc…) will get. It will ALWAYS appear cheap compared to the cost of updating our grid, buying an electric car, etc... And it will only get cheaper once we START DOING THESE THINGS! So don’t be fooled into thinking we need high gas prices to get us off gas. It won’t work. As we DO get off gas, the price will only FALL. Going green will take POLITICAL WILL. “The market” won’t care until long after it’s too late to fix anything.
Last week, Bill Donohue – that great defender of Catholicism that the Vatican goes out of their way to disassociate themselves with – comes out and blames the preponderance of pedophile priests on “liberals” who let “gays” in to the church.
That’s the ROMAN CATHOLIC church, now. That great bastion of liberalism that doesn’t allow women to lead mass, that doesn’t allow even contraception, let alone abortion, that doesn’t marry gays, that says they will all go to hell… THAT Roman Catholic Church. The very idea that these guys, as an organization, are liberal AT ALL is laughable on its face to anyone not already brainwashed by the ultra-loony 1930’s era Tent-Revivalism, or Evangelical Funny-Mentalism as I call it, that's infected so much of America over the past 30 years.
Second, it is patently absurd to call a male pedophile “gay” simply because he molests boys. Would this then be a heterosexual issue if he molested girls? Because many did you know! As I understand it, there’s about an 80-20 split. So if there are thousands of male victims, that leaves hundreds of female ones! Pedophilia is pedophilia and homosexuality is homosexuality. Is is no more than religiously motivated superstition and/or politically motivated bigotry to even attempt to link them. A homosexual man is no more likely to like boys than a heterosexual man and a pedophile is no more likely to be homosexual than the general population is. Period. That’s a FACT and you can look it up in any work NOT written by a right-wing bigot under the guise of religious conservatism.
Bill? The problem is neither gays, nor liberals. It's the CURCH and the CLERGY and (now, so it appears) the POPE. It’s their problem, pure and simple. It’s been going on since blacks and white still couldn’t marry and same-sex marriage wasn’t even on anyone’s wildest possible political radar. They had their chance to do the right thing, and instead they did the Right thing. And if you’re still covering for them, then you’re as guilty as they are!
Which brings me to THIS PIECE by Rush Limbaugh, who thinks that the Left is trying to take down the church, as they want to tear down “all institutions that aren’t for big government.” First of all? The church doesn’t give a shit about the size of the government. Why should they? They don’t pay taxes! They lean Republican for two reason: Gays and Abortion. Or really one reason: The Republicans shamelessly pander to them, despite the Constitution’s prohibition of them doing so.
It does make me wonder though, why Rush is picking THIS ISSUE to politicize. I mean… am I going MAD, or is he literally DEFENDING pedophiles here?! Can anyone think of a LESS sympathetic group of people to give the benefit of the doubt to, to sympathize with, and defend against that cruel “left-wing media” than fucking PEDOPHILES?! Pedophiles, BTW, who won’t marry you if you cohabitate – learned THAT the hard way – and who will condemn you if you have sex outside of marriage! Maybe he ADMIRES their hypocrisy? I mean like attracts like. (Not that I’m suggesting that the thrice-divorced guy who brought illegal Viagra on a trip to a Dominican Boys tour is a Pedophile or anything…) But these guys have to be down in “Muslims on 9/12/2001” territory!
So let me use this idiot’s “logic” and turn it around. He thinks the left just wants to tear down the church. (“Any institution that not for big government.”) Personally? I’ve always believed that the Church needed be at least taken down at least a peg or two, and that’s from LONG before this story started to break, all those years ago. But I think that what’s more clear here is this:
There is no amount of EXCESS that the Right won’t TOLERATE or EXCUSE, so long as it’s committed by a Religious person or institution or by a Corporation. As long as it’s in the name of God or Profit, no sin, including PEDO-FUCKING-PHILIA is too great for the Right to forgive...
...So just don’t try to hold the Church or Corporate America ACCOUNTABLE for their sins. That’s leftist! That’s Liberal! That’s EVIL apparently.
You know what? By now it should be clear that I’m hardly a religious man, but every Priest who molested a child or otherwise broke their “holy” vow should go to hell. Every Bishop and every Pope that covered for them should go to hell. And I’m sure there a special fire in hell, being stoked by Satan himself with his DICK, for the likes of Bill Donohue and Rush Limbaugh.
I came accross THIS which was linked to by Skeptic Dictionary (my bible.) It's a fantastic write up absolutely skewring the anti-vaccinemovmenet and their blatant intellectual dishonesty. I'm coming to the realization that one of the reason I like MMFA so much is not just that it's liberal - after all, there are TONS of good, well-written liberals sites and blogs out there, and I don't spend half as much time on all of them put together! But, what MMFA essentially focus on is the Right's intellectual dishonesty. THAT'S at the core of thearguments they make, and that kind of argument really appeals to me.
Now... I don't see the Anti-Vaxxer movement or Alternatve Medicine in General to be a partisan or a poltical problem. In fact there are elements of both Conservtaive Anti-Science (Faith Healing, for example) and Liberal Anti-Science (Product liability, anti-corporate/big-Pharma fears) in all areas of 'Alternative Medicine.' So honestly, I don't give a fig about the politics behind this psudeo-scientific nonsense. Liberal or Conservative, right or left, My feelings on this, as with all matters scientific, are very simple:
"Alternative Medicine" is just another way of saying "Stuff that doesn't pass scientific muster or double-blind clinical testing." IWO: Bullshit. And Skepdic has dozens of articles in it that do a better job tearing down this nonsense down than I even want to try. But whatever, as long as you're not denying your children life saving medicine, opting for prayer instead - which is a nice way of saying, "MURDERING YOUR CHILDREN"- then I really don't care what you waste your money on, as long as you don't try to put into some kind of National Health Plan that MY TAX MONEY pays for. Barring that? Buy all the placebos you want.
But the Anti-Vaxxer movement is DANGEROUS. Hundereds of children have DIED in this country alone and infectuous diseases that were once considered extinct in the developed world are now on the rise again in many countries.
1) As far as I'm concerned, Jenny McCarthy, as the public face (Josesh Goebels) of anti-vaxxer propaganda, shares the same proportion of blame for the 505 deaths that occured between June, 2007 and March 2010 as one might attribute to Goebles for the holocaust. She's facing 505 counts of accessory to MURDER as far as I'm concerned.
2) If you, as a parent, have chosen not to vaccinate your child, and do not have a DIAGNOSABLE, SCIENCE-BASED, MEDICAL REASON for doing so: YOU ARE A BAD PARENT. And if your childeren become ill and/or die, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.
3) As the father of two autistic boys I can say this no more plainly:
- If your autistic child has unvaccinated younger sibilings, YOU ARE A BAD PARENT.
- If you have wasted you money on any number of unproven therapies you are not only a FOOL, you are a BAD PARENT for diverting resources that should have been spent paying for SPEECH THERAPY, and possibly SCIENCE BASED medication.
- If you have exposed your child to RISKY, unproven practices such as Chealation? If I had my druthers I'd take those kids away from you, put you in jail, and put in jail the QUACK and FRAUD of a physician that prescribed and/or carried it out. (And one already has: in PA, for manslaughter. If I had been on that jury, I would have gladly gone as high as 'murder in the first' for anyone carrying out deadly experiments on handicapped children.)
Monday, April 5, 2010
Yes, you read that right.
That I'm a self-proclaimed liberal that likes Obama will not surprise anyone the Right. But they're morons, and they actually BELIEVE the RW media's nonsensical chariciture of him and have no idea what they're talking about. To them it would never occur that Obama even needs a defense from the far more will-informed and principled attacks that come from the Left. Well, Mister President, I'M YOUR MAN. I can only hope that I'm equal to the task.
Two areas in which liberals are feeling a bit, shall we say, betrayed lately are the recently enacted health care reform and the pending (and passed) energy legislation. The common explanations that I come accross that accompuy the liberal head-scratching is that President Obama is a FOOL for doing things like throwing out the public option or opening up [SOME] off-shore drilling without demanding ANYTHING from the Republicans in return for these huge concessions. I've heard every, very legitate, argument that he's pissing away all his negotiating power, and it's in the ultimate of all veign efforts since the Republicans have adopted as their official party-line policy, "Stop all things Obama and all things Democrat at ANY cost." In other words: They're calling him a fool for not only holding out hope for bi-partisanship but also for going about getting it in such an ineffective manner. Now these conclusions and these judgemenbts are perfectly valid and reasonable, except for the one thing they all ignore:
President Barack Hueissein Obama doesn't give a shit about Congressional Republicans or their uneccessary votes. Not. A. Shit. Mark my words that eveything he passes - and a lot will yet pass - under his administration will do so under a pure party-line vote, occasionally excepting Maine's Snowe and Collins. And the President not only knows this, he's counting on it. You see he's not doing ANY of this for the votes of Congressional Republicans...
He doing it for the votes of Moderate Republicans in the general public, for both his beneift and the benefit of the party.
And he's also doing it to get the entreched industries on board. It's one thing to have to deal with Republicans who dig in their heals. But they're irrelevant. They really are. But try passing health care reform if the INSURANCE COMPANIES and the MEDICAL INDUSTRY all dig in their heals; or energy legislation if BIG OIL and BIG NUKE dig in theirs. Liberals my not like the concessions but I for one do believe that they are necessary if ANYTHING is going to get done. And while the individual points and details may cause some legitimate consternation, we ARE still moving in the right direction net and net. And every judgement to the contrary, to me sounds more like someone saying that we're simply not moving in that direction fast enough. But there is a world of difference between moving in the right driection too slowly and goin full tilt in the wrong direction. Anyone who thinks that there's only a subtle difference between an Obama presidency and a hypothetical SARAH PALIN presidency (or the George W. Presdiency) for example, is a fool. In Obama's adminstration there is MORE regulation that before, MORE government involvement than before. More of everything that evcery liberal wants than there would be otherwise. In a Palin presidency, there would only, ever, be LESS, just as we saw with Bush. (And we saw the results.)
And the really beautiful part is that he's doing a lot more than just getting the necessary endorsments from the affected industries in order to got us heading the right way again. By making these concessions, and (to some extent) angering his base, the image that the RW press tries to paint of him (as some radical, communist, socialist, facsist, marxist, etc...) gets increasing incruent with reality. This only make the RW talkers seem more and more irrational, more and more out of touch and farther and farther to the right. This won't change their message of course, they've proven that much, but it will change the preception of some of those right-center moderates who increasingly will realise that these Limbaugh and Beck types simply are no longer observing reality. This will win over many moderates.
Does this win moderates at the risk of alienating his base? Is he rubbing their face in it? No, not really.. He's giving them what he can, and he giving them far more credit than the Republicans are giving the tea-baggers. At some point he must realize that liberals will vote for him, not just as the lesser of two evils, but as the WAY lesser of two evils, and even the bringer of SOME good. Again, if you say he's the same as Bush or Palin (would be), the you're simply not observing reality. And he knows that true liberals will not risk eight years of Sarah Palin over a little bit of oil, or the structure of a health care system that actually delivers. Side by side, one looks the right direction and one looks like lunacy. The left will realize this. The moderats will realize this. And the only people who see thing the other way? Are the lunatics!
Now I've mentioned that I, for one, don't feel betrayed. And I'm not actually the least bit surprised at what's happening actually. In fact, as I remember it, it's exactly the policies that he advocated for on the campaign trail. First off, I never fell for the RW nonsense. But I'm honestly not sure where the liberals got the idea that he'd be all that far to the left either. I listened to his speeches and everything he said, everything he's EVER said, just MADE SENSE to me. It was always EXACTLY what I wanted to hear him say. And what I took away from his speeches, and what I came to expect when I cast my vote for him, is playing out pretty much as I expected, though I underestimated the Republican's will to obstruct.
Obama did NOT. Yes, you read that right.
Remember: He doesn't care about getting their votes. But by giving all of these concessions, and knowing that the Republicans will dig in no matter what, he not only deprives of the ability to take credit for it, but they can't even claim credit for reigning it in. They can't even say, "Well, it worked because we made him do X" or "we stopped him from doing X." They've been the blindfolded party of 'no' from the start, will continue to be, and won't even be able to take credit for the concessions. Everything that happens will be 100% to the credit of both Obama and the Democrats. And depsite the story the press will tell, mark my words that every Democrat in the upcoming election, and in 2012, will be listing their party's accomplishments and finishing their speeches with: "AND MY OPPONENT [or his party] VOTED AGAINST EVERY SIGLE ONE OF THOSE!"
My opponent WANTS you to be denied insurance!
My opponent WANTS you to have your insurance dropped because your sick!
My opponent WANTS insuracne to be priced out of the range of most Americans!
...and, on energy:
My opponent not only wants to ignore the growing problem of climate change, but he didn't even vote to get you cheaper gas!
(Yes, yes, I know, full well, that this little bit of drilling, or indeed A WHOLE LOT of drilling will make little difference in the price of gas... But the average voter doesn't! Drill, baby, drill, remember?)
Now, at this point you may be wondering if I'm allowing Obama to just do what he thinks he needs to to get re-elected. And maybe I am. To be fair, I actually see that as a big part of a polticians JOB. But for eight long years I watched as the country went headlong in the WRONG DIRECTION. And what I FELT I was being promised - what I took away from Obama's speeches - was that the direction would change. We would not be delivered to a liberal's paradise in one term, two terms or even necessarily in my lifetime... but we would be headed in the right direction once again. And, IMHO, we are. And to me, all of the arguments from the left sound like "we're not going fast enough" rather than "we're going the same direction we were." We're not. And you're whitewashing George Bush and Dick Cheney and (hypothetcially) Sarah Palin to say that we are. And the only way we can continue to march in that direction? Is to STAY IN POWER and GET THNGS PASSED. Because one IN, it's harder to take things OUT. It's a lot easier to PASS laws than REPEAL them. And thus, we progress.
As for energy? Hey: He SAID he'd drill. He SAID we need more oil. I remember that specifically! That was IN his speeches on energy policy! It's not his fault that both the Right and the Left took that about as seruiously as they did McCain's
And if anyone still thinks he should have gotten some Republican concessions out of it? Remember: He doesn't need them, and more importnatly: He doesn't even WANT them. We'll get the good stuff he proposing, AND we'll even get some oil resources developed - proving to right-leaning moderates that you don't have to kill the economy to get renewable energy, BTW - and, once again, the Democrats will be able to take all the credit for it. And what he's got now is an oil industry that will resist these changes that much less, and have that much less to go after him with. And if you think that he could have just forced some radical liberal agenda though? (1) You're just not being realistinc about the COUNTRY and how things are done; and (2) you mustn't have heard the same speeches I did, in the same way I did. Because drillign was ALWASY part of his ebnergy plan, and it's one of the reason I LIKED it.
He's no fool, politically speaking. If anything, he's far closer to "evil genius" than Karl Rove ever was. (Except that he's using his powers for GOOD!) And the Republicans are doing EXACTLY what he wants them to.
Now, could I be wrong? Hells yes I could be! And in two years time, I may sound just like those fools who were still defending George Bush well into 2007, saying that everything was going according to some secret grand master plan. Well... WE sure as hell didn't see the plan! And history has shown that there really wasn't one. Rove wasn't a genius and Bush didn't assemble the "dream team." Those were media concoctions. And the policies just plain FAILED, just as we knew they would.
THIS time around? I actually SEE the plan. And I actaully LIKE the policies that are coming out of it, and I look forward to seeing the Democrats USE these while the Republicans keep trying to argue against progress.
NOTE: This is a post about LEADERSHIP, NEGOTIATING and STRATEGY. So PLEASE keep your comments on THAT topic and give me another day to pull together my position piece on energy legislation. You can savage my defense of oil - and NUKE! OMFG! - then.