Tears of a Clown

April 22, 2009
What's the matter?  Don't ya like clowns?

What's the matter? Don't ya like clowns?

I don’t blog to be liked.

I didn’t come here because I was lonely and wanted to make new friends.  I started blogging because I have strong opinions and a compulsive need to inflict them on other people.

I intentionally cultivated an obnoxious online persona and chose an ugly homicidal clown as my avatar because I want my arguments to stand on their own.  I don’t want people to agree with me because they like me, I want them to agree with me because they think I’m right.

If Person A says 2 + 2 = 4 and Person B says 2 + 2 = 3 then I will say that Person A is right and Person B is wrong, even if Person A is a jerk and Person B is a saint and a friend.  And I’m not going to change my position even if all my other friends side with Person B.  It’s not about how I feel about Person A or Person B, it’s about what I think is true.

Last year we saw people we liked and respected fall victim to Kool-aid logic.  They liked Obama and wanted to be part of the “in” crowd so suddenly they had no problem believing that Hillary was a racist bitch and that it was okay to call Sarah Palin a stupid c*nt.  They turned on Hillary supporters like rabid chihuahuas and attacked us as Republican ratf*ckers despite the years we spent advocating liberal causes and beliefs.

I’m not claiming to be infallible but if I have to choose between being right and being liked then I will never be popular, and I’ll never get to sit with the kewl kidz.

I can live with that.


Getting back to those tea parties . . .

April 20, 2009

(I never heard of Cody Willard before but I had a haircut like that back in 1978)

There’s something wrong when we edit people’s words in a way that changes their meaning.  Distorting the views of our opponents for shitzengiggles doesn’t help fix anything.


Natalie Merchant – Ophelia

April 19, 2009

Just because


Ad Hominem – A Logical Fallacy

April 6, 2009

Apparently I hurt the tender feelings of our poor pathetic blogstalkers, but they can’t find fault with my argument so they resort to logical fallacy.  From Wikipedia:

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the source making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.

[…]

Ad hominem argument is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or attacking the person who proposed the argument (personal attack) in an attempt to discredit the argument. It is also used when an opponent is unable to find fault with an argument, yet for various reasons, the opponent disagrees with it.

Other common subtypes of the ad hominem include the ad hominem circumstantial, or ad hominem circumstantiae, an attack which is directed at the circumstances or situation of the arguer; and the ad hominem tu quoque, which objects to an argument by characterizing the arguer as acting or arguing in accordance with the view that he is arguing against.

Ad hominem arguments are always invalid in syllogistic logic, since the truth value of premises is taken as given, and the validity of a logical inference is independent of the source making the inference. However, ad hominem arguments are rarely presented as formal syllogisms, and their assessment lies in the domain of informal logic and the theory of evidence.[1] The theory of evidence depends to a large degree on assessments of the credibility of witnesses, including eyewitness evidence and expert witness evidence. Evidence that a purported eyewitness is unreliable, or has a motive for lying, or that a purported expert witness lacks the claimed expertise can play a major role in making judgements from evidence.

Argumentum ad hominem is the inverse of argumentum ad verecundiam, in which the arguer bases the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the source asserting it. Hence, while an ad hominem argument may make an assertion less compelling, by showing that the source making the assertion does not have the authority, knowledge or position it claims, or has made mistaken assertions on similar topics in the past, it cannot provide an infallible counterargument.

An ad hominem fallacy is a genetic fallacy and red herring, and is most often (but not always) an appeal to emotion.

[…]

A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:

Source A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Source A
Therefore claim X is false

Let me repeat the money quote:

Ad hominem arguments are always invalid in syllogistic logic, since the truth value of premises is taken as given, and the validity of a logical inference is independent of the source making the inference.

I freely admit that I am a semi-civilized guy with a raunchy and politically incorrect sense of humor and that I’ve said things from time to time that were inappropriate. With Google and the obsessive focus of a blogstalker you can find some of them. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a flaming liberal and that when it matters my heart’s in the right place.  It also doesn’t disprove anything I said about Obama or any of his cult followers.

Kreepy Kevin and the internet vermin that hang out with him can kiss my ass.

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Where Blogstalkers come from:

UPDATE:

Just so there is no misunderstanding, by “internet vermin” I am specifically including a certain two-faced, talentless bullshitter who scammed some people out of their money and then betrayed their trust.  To that person I say:

FUCK YOU TOO


Let them eat cake

April 5, 2009

bankers

From The Guardian:

Bankers rage at G20 “witch hunt”

Bankers and hedge fund managers were furious yesterday at attempts by the G20 to cap their pay and regulate them for the first time, calling it a “witch hunt” by world leaders.

“Regulation is generally bad. You should let the market decide what the people will get paid,” said Matthew Prest, managing director at Close Brothers investment bank. “Sometimes regulation has the opposite effect of what you want and I think bankers’ salaries regulation would fall under that category. I don’t hear anybody calling for Hollywood star salary caps. This is a trendy, fashionable thing to do, it will have bad consequences.”

The m****r-f*****g sons of whores are upset??? Why don’t they just say “Let them eat cake” and get it over with?

These f**ksticks are obviously so far removed from the rest of us that they have no clue how enraged we are.  People aren’t peeved or miffed, they are apoplectic with fury.  Normally law-abiding citizens are seriously talking about violence – and others just nod their heads in agreement.  The last time people were this pissed off we invaded a couple countries.

Serenity now!  Serenity now!

Serenity now! Serenity now!

Compare and contrast:

Teddy Roosevelt:

Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country.

Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

Barack Obama:

I, I, would say that, er … if you look at … the, the sources of this crisis … the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to . . . a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that have taken place in the global financial system … I think what is also true is that … here in Great Britain … … here in continental Europe … around the world. We were seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and er … the highly integrated, er, global capital markets that have emerged … . So at this point, I’m less interested in … identifying blame than fixing the problem. I think we’ve taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so, not just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring banks are adequately capitalized, er, dealing with the enormous, er … drop-off in demand and contraction that has taken place. More importantly, for the long term, making sure that we’ve got a set of, er, er, regulations that are up to the task, er, and that includes, er, a number that will be discussed at this summit. I think there’s a lot of convergence between all the parties involved about the need, for example, to focus not on the legal form that a particular financial product takes or the institution it emerges from, but rather what’s the risk involved, what’s the function of this product and how do we regulate that adequately, much more effective coordination, er, between countries so we can, er, anticipate the risks that are involved there. Dealing with the, er, problem of derivatives markets, making sure we have set up systems, er, that can reduce some of the risks there. So, I actually think … there’s enormous consensus that has emerged in terms of what we need to do now and, er … I’m a great believer in looking forwards than looking backwards.

From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration is engineering its new bailout initiatives in a way that it believes will allow firms benefiting from the programs to avoid restrictions imposed by Congress, including limits on lavish executive pay, according to government officials.

We needed a hero.  We got a ZERO.

angry-mob


Un-Enlightened Obots

April 4, 2009
Obama Bloggers

Obama Bloggers

My post yesterday “What’s so special about Sarah” brought out the trolls like bailout money brings out the CEO’s.  I was struck by the fact that all their criticism of her is based on lies.  This comment is typical:

lauren, on April 4th, 2009 at 11:27 pm Said:

I hate her because she’s murdering wolves from airplanes, and encouraging that behavior…because she’s rabidly anti-choice, and loss of our freedom is terrifying to me.

The wolves are being killed for what’s called “predator control.” It’s part of wildlife management so that the moose and caribou herds flourish. The wolves are hunted from airplanes because that’s the efficient way to do it. The wolves are not killed for sport.

Sarah Palin is pro-life but has never taken a single action as governor to restrict abortion – in fact she just recently appointed a pro-choice woman to the Alaska Supreme Court.

There are plenty of reasons why a liberal or progressive Democrat would not support Sarah Palin – she’s a moderately conservative Republican and opposes gay marriage for instance.  But Obots keep citing lies to justify their “hatred” of her, including the ones about banning books and charging for rape kits.  Are Obots stupid or just stupid liars?

Over at The Daily Howler the incomparable Bob Somerby writes:

Several centuries ago, the western world had its ballyhooed Enlightenment. From now on, facts would rule, we said—facts and their consort, logic. From now on, we’d play by the rules, we all swore! No more saying “X is right” just because it feels so good—or because the king says X is right.

That was the pledge—but that ideal has faded. Enlightenment values lie in tatters, as you can see when you scan your newspapers. (Or when you watch your “progressive” TV shows.) We thought we’d advanced—but that was a dream. Those very lofty Enlightenment values are routinely observed in the breach.

Bob Somerby has been a voice crying in the wilderness since 1998 – back when nobody knew what a “blog” was.  Two years ago he  was required reading for anyone in the blogosphere who considered him or herself a member of the reality-based community.  Then the Kool-aid epidemic started and the proggers lost their minds.  Now they are rapidly turning on old Bob.

Our blogstalkers detest him because he refuses to participate in their delusions.  I won’t link to any of their places because they’re biohazards, but here’s a couple representative samples:

Bob Somerby jumped the shark a few years back.  If he peddled half as much reason or logic as he does sanctimony and mind-reading, he might almost be readable again.

and

My guess is that after Eric Boehlert gave him a generous mention in Lapdogs, he didn’t receive the kind of recognition he was expecting. He was ignored in favor of TPM, Atrios, and the Kos community, among others.

Bob Somerby didn’t change – they did, when they traded truth for truthiness.  The Obots hate Bob, PUMA and anyone else that insists their emperor has no clothes.  These are the same people that hated Hillary for her AUMF vote and her ties to the DLC – but didn’t hate Joe Biden and Rahm Emmanuel for the same reasons.  They watch Teh Precious betray them on issue after issue and claim he’s playing “11th Dimension Chess” that no one else is capable of understanding.

They drank the Kool-aid and became un-Enlightened, and now they can believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

alice-with-queen-of-hearts


At least he didn’t pat the Queen on the ass and call her “sweetie”

April 3, 2009

I’ve been watching Ma and Pa Kettle Go To London and the laughs have been non-stop.  Not only did the most powerful man in the free world bow and scrape to a filthy rich oil monarch but his wife got overly familiar with the Queen of England.

huggermugger

Yes, these foo paws are minor gaffes and G-Dub was a putz too, but when will we finally get a POTUS that don’t embarrass us?

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Pa and Pa Kettle


Offensive vs. Racist

April 2, 2009

someoneiswrong

During the past week vast numbers of blogospheric pixels have been spent in posts and comments about a editorial cartoon by Pat Oliphant.  Critics of the cartoon say it is offensive and I agree with them.  In fact, I believe that Mr. Oliphant intended it to be offensive.  The cartoon was a strong political statement and such statements are always offensive to someone.

“Offensive” as used in this context is defined as an adjective meaning “causing displeasure or resentment.”  The problem is that there is no objective standard for what is offensive – it is always in the eye of the beholder.  Pretty much everything will be offensive to someone, but only an idiot would deny that certain words, phrases and ideas are far more likely to cause offense than others.  The question is whether something can be too offensive to be considered part of legitimate discourse and, if so, where the line should be drawn.

There is an overwhelming (but unfortunately not universal) consensus that racism is too offensive to be considered legitimate – we can talk about it but anyone supporting it would be treated as a pariah.  However while we agree that racism is bad we don’t always agree on what is or isn’t racist – racism is often “in the eye of the beholder” as well.

Merriam-Webster defines racism as:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

As we saw last year, some eyes behold racism in strange places.  The words “fairy tale” and “presumptuous” were alleged to be racist, and even the timing of a candidate’s tears was cited.  But we could all agree that the use of derogatory racial stereotypes and racial epithets is racist, right?

Have you ever seen comedians Dave Chappelle or Katt Williams perform?  They and many other black comics use lots of derogatory racial stereotypes and racial epithets in their acts.  What’s that you say?  It’s okay for them to do that because they are performing before black audiences?

The audiences that view the performances live may be mostly black, but the far larger audiences watching on HBO, Comedy Central and DVD are mostly white. To be fair I will point out that white comics like Jeff Foxworthy use derogatory racial stereotypes and racial epithets too, they just use different ones.  But imagine the outrage if Foxworthy (or Michael Richards) got up and told the same jokes as Williams and Chappelle.

My point is that sometimes it’s not just what’s being said but who is saying it as well as the context in which it is being said that determines whether we deem something offensive or racist.  If there are contexts in which the use of something as odious as the “N-word” is acceptable then how do we objectively define the boundaries?

Who makes the rules?  Do we need a majority consensus, a super-majority or just a substantial minority?  How many people need to be offended before the rest of us ought to defer to their feelings?  Does each racial group have exclusive rights to determine what is racist in regards to themselves or does everyone get to participate in the decisions?

Unfortunately we too often see an approach that goes “We think it’s racist.  If you don’t agree with us then you’re racist too!”  As we saw last year that approach tends to inhibit rather than enhance discussions.  But can something be deeply offensive to a racial group without being racist?

This brings us back to Mr. Oliphant’s cartoon.  It’s definitely offensive to a lot of people – very offensive to some.  How many?  I have no idea, but does that matter?  It’s a very strong political statement condemning the nation of Israel for its policy and conduct towards the Palestinian people in Gaza.

It clearly compares Israel to a brutal and oppressive fascist regime, probably but not necessarily the Nazis.  Whether that comparison is accurate and justified is hotly disputed but the “brutal and oppressive” part is not entirely baseless because there is a body of evidence that, if believed, would support it.

From everything I’ve read the arguments that the cartoon is anti-semitic are:

1.  The cartoon is similar to past and present depictions of Jews by antisemitic groups like the Nazis that are/were used to incite hated of Jews.

2.  The comparison of Israel to the Nazis is itself so vile and hurtful that it demonstrates hatred of Jews.

3.  The allegation that Israel is brutal and oppressive to the Palestinians is obviously untrue and is intended to incite hatred of Jews.

Whether it is anti-semitic or not, the cartoon has provoked such a strong reaction that we are discussing it instead of the issues it addresses.  Although “discussing” probably isn’t the right word, the blogosphere is divided into several camps that aren’t talking to each other.  Emotions are running high.  Some people are so outraged over the cartoon that they are angry that everyone isn’t outraged.

As for myself, my outrage is reserved for more important things than a stupid cartoon about events in another country that I can’t do anything about.  People are dying from violence and the lack of healthcare in this country.  Americans are losing their jobs, homes and life savings.  I’m not defending Mr. Oliphant or his cartoon, I’m saying they aren’t important.

Not to me anyway – YMMV


The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

April 1, 2009
Harvesting Pasta

Harvesting Pasta

The Museum of Hoaxes lists the top 100 April Fools jokes of all time.  Here’s their number one:

1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Other April Fools hoaxes include a rookie pitcher who could allegedly throw a 165 mph fastball, the sale of the Liberty Bell to Taco Bell and Nixon returning from retirement to run for President again.  My personal favorite is number 7:

1998: The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0. Soon the article made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly spread around the world, forwarded by email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist Mark Boslough.

The museum rates hoaxes on “notoriety, creativity, and number of people duped.”  Not all hoaxes are April Fools jokes.  The second biggest hoax in history is probably the October 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast which was an inadvertent hoax.  Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater decided on the day before Halloween to present a dramatized version of the H. G. Wells classic and many people mistook it for a real newscast and thought New Jersey had been invaded by martians.

The biggest hoax in history is currently in London at the G20 Summit.


Suicide or Self-defense?

April 1, 2009

straitjacket_new1

It’s long been known that attacking Iran is a neoconservative wet-dream.  Many people believe that Dick Cheney was the “senior Bush administration official” who shortly after the invasion of Iraq uttered the statement “Anyone can go to Baghdad; real men go to Tehran and in February 2007 Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian reported that:

Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney.

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran (pdf) that came out later that year put the kibosh on Darth Cheney’s plans when it stated:

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.

Jump forward to early this past January and then President-elect Barack Obama’s  interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:

Iran is going to be one of our biggest challenges and as I said during the campaign we have a situation in which not only is Iran exporting terrorism through Hamas, through Hezbollah but they are pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race.

I guess Teh Precious was too busy running for President to read the NIE.  Now adding fuel to the fire is Benjamin Netanyahu as Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic reports:

In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.

Oh great!  As if we didn’t have enough on our plates right now between Iraq, Afganistan and the financial meltdown.  Not to mention what Russia and China might do while we have our hands full.  MJ Rosenberg at TPM writes:

An Israeli attack on Iran would jeopardize a myriad of American interests in the region, starting with 130,000 US troops but Netanyahu talks as if he can call the shots without any regard for our interests. The fact is that, in the eyes of Iran (and the world), there is essentially no difference between an Israeli attack and one by us. Israel is viewed as our client. In other words, any blowback from an Israeli attack is as likely to be against us as against Israel. Americans in Iraq, or here at home, could pay the ultimate price.

Unless they use some of the nuclear weapons that they won’t admit they have I seriously doubt that Israel can do more than piss Iran off with air strikes.  I can think of several possible outcomes to an unprovoked attack, all of them bad.  Netanyahu reminds me of a little guy who picks fights at parties knowing that his bigger friends will back him up.

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As Steve Hynd at Newshoggers points out:

Any strike by Israel on Iran would have to pass through US-controlled airspace (the Persian Gulf or Iraq) or through the airspace of America’s NATO ally Turkey (also patrolled by U.S. warplanes). An Israeli strike on Iran would either be contested by American air defenses or seen as carried out with American complicity if it was allowed to proceed unchallenged.

I just hope TOTUS doesn’t have the bright idea that a war would be good for the economy based on the myth that World War II ended the Great Depression.  Remember Joe Biden’s warning that Obama would be tested by an international crisis?  If President Hopenchange gets us in another war then every goddamn kossack and member of MoveOn that bashed Hillary for her AUMF vote should be handed a rifle and sent to fight.  The head Cheeto can lead them.

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