Archive for the 'Sophistry' Category

Our post-Constitutional era.

Nov 30, 2011 in Abortion, Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Constitution, Disappointing Dems, Politics, Religion, Sophistry, Straight-up madness, teh gay, Torture, War on Terra, Where's the outrage?!?!

This is becoming inevitable, as the Republican Party, while ever ready to say the word, “Constitution,” is a complete and udder fraud on the subject, and has categorically dismissed most of the Amendments and the underlying philosophy behind the Constitution’s writing.

Now, I know it is required that I disclose the presence of a certain contingent of chickenshit Democrats who regularly cave whenever Republicans get hot and bothered, but they’re never the driving force, and they’re a minority within the Democrat Party, so there. It’s the wholly unbridled unified army of the Republican Order that drives an agenda that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, except as their protections pertain to white Christian heterosexual males.

1. They’re actively pro-torture, even though they square that by declaring any form of torture they like to not be torture. Simple, right? Not only is the Constitution unambiguously against cruel or unusual punishment, i.e. torture, but the entire history of the country at war has hewn to the same principles. Ronald Reagan was explicit in his condemnation of torture. The Republican Party today is best represented by Rick Santorum telling John McCain that he doesn’t understand torture.

2. They’re consistently against or dismissive of the religious freedom of gays, gay-supporting straights, Wiccans, atheists, Muslims. That the First Amendment ever be read in context with a world of varying beliefs is verboten. It’s about the Christian right to inject Christianity into anything they do, even and especially as a public employee. But when it comes to gays, the Christian right directly posits its beliefs as important enough to cancel out those of gays and to directly affect how gays live their lives by forbidding them marriage. The thought that Jesus might look kindly upon a loving gay couple cannot be entertained.

3. Search and seizure, forget it! Everything is open, up for grabs, ready to be peeped upon by Uncle Sam whenever he wants. The Drug War paved the way, the War on Terror planted the settlement and opened shop. Merely being suspected of having drugs can result in asset forfeiture, meaning your property rights are violated without due process, the police department acting as judge and jury. The burden of proof is often reversed onto suspects in such cases, and property is rarely returned regardless of charges.

Every phone and internet conversation has been opened up, and siphons through the NSA’s data miners.

Binney, for his part, believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the N.S.A. has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and Utah. Binney says that an N.S.A. e-mail database can be searched with “dictionary selection,” in the manner of Google. After 9/11, he says, “General Hayden reassured everyone that the N.S.A. didn’t put out dragnets, and that was true. It had no need—it was getting every fish in the sea.”
Binney considers himself a conservative, and, as an opponent of big government, he worries that the N.S.A.’s data-mining program is so extensive that it could help “create an Orwellian state.” Whereas wiretap surveillance requires trained human operators, data mining is automated, meaning that the entire country can be watched. Conceivably, U.S. officials could “monitor the Tea Party, or reporters, whatever group or organization you want to target,” he says. “It’s exactly what the Founding Fathers never wanted.”

Power creeps, as the Founders realized, and always, always had to be balanced.

4. While ever ready to claim that rights not spelled out in the Constitution aren’t really rights, directly contradicting the Ninth Amendment, the Republican Party has declared that money equals speech. Why then should I be punished for bribing a police officer or judge? I’m merely talking to the them.

No, anybody knows exactly what money in politics means, it means buying politicians, period. Money buys politicians, it buys media outlets, it pays people to spout theories that testify to the greatness of the wealthy, and it’s all done for the sake of ever more money. As Danny DeVito said in The Heist, “That’s why they call it money.” It’s not the same as speaking your mind, it’s engaging in a transaction. There’s a reason “money talks” is a cliche. With money, speech isn’t so important anymore. It becomes the pretty envelope on a fat wad of cash.

5. Nor does it say anywhere in the Constitution that corporations constitute distinct immortal citizens with full rights. The very construction of a corporation is a legal designation, a product of government legislation. Who ever talks about it in those terms? Certainly not Republicans. Apparently God made corporations?

Ruling in Citizens United that not only could these corporations donate unlimited funds to candidates, but do so anonymously? Does anybody on this planet think the politicians don’t know exactly who donated? It merely creates a gigantic firewall against the public, keeping them out of the process, refusing to tell them who’s bought their supposed representative.

Jesus declared that the rich would not easily find their way into Heaven. He said no such thing about those with lots of opinions. Yet a party built on Judeo-Christian superiority delivers the sentiment, “money equals speech,” to us with deeply sincere faces, even strident faces. Add to that, “a corporation is a person,” whereas one soulless legal entity is equated to a human being, and the conundrum deepens. How do these people maintain such cognitive dissonance? With great strain.

6. Indefinite detention. Like torture, it is the complete and utter opposite of each and every plank, nail, and window in the Constitution’s house. It is the Gulag. It is the dungeon. It is the concentration camp. And now one of the two major parties has not merely let it fly under their radar, but made it their agenda. Take a few Dem politican scalps if you will, but only lefties and a few libertarians (where are you guys when we need you?) are going to bring this fight at all. Lesson from 2010: Letting more Republicans get into office is not a solution.

7. General Welfare: Abolishing the EPA? YHGTBFKM (You have got to be fucking kidding me). The Koch brothers need to dump more poison in our groundwater, Michele, won’t you help them?

The entire concept of the general welfare of the country has completely evacuated the Republican Party. In their eyes, fuck the general welfare. People get what they deserve, and if your life sucks, blame yourself. Of course, if everybody did a lot more looking in the mirror at themselves, we wouldn’t have many Republicans left. Instead, they survey only the oily shell of the individual, and perceive nothing of the complex lattice-work of society that supports their existence.

If you don’t fund schools, you end up living in a world of noisy uneducated people giving you rotten service, and you can only keep moving to new suburbs so long. If you don’t fund police departments, you end up with high crime rates and decreased property values. If you fund prisons while not funding rehab clinics, your Drug War will result in financial incentives that outweigh regular crime prevention. A Drug War waged primarily on minorities will turn jail into a martyrdom ritual, and your children will revere felons as heroes.

President Obama turned the health care system into a universal program, for which he is reviled by the right (not to ignore the political convenience…had there perhaps been a President Romney in 2008, his Massachusetts plan would be considered to be a rightful and just conservative blueprint to accomplish the goals of liberals through free-market means). The rather explicit permission of the Commerce Clause gives the government more than fair leeway to point out that uninsured people merely transfer the cost of their care to others. A mandate is really little more than a distribution of that cost among all citizens. You might not like it, but who’s going to be there for you if you have a stroke in twenty minutes and spend your remaining decades fully paralyzed?

8. Abortion. The government should enter the womb and put up a sign telling the mother to keep providing the nutrients but she’s not in charge anymore? That assertion of domain over the entirety of her body and its natural processes isn’t listed in the Constitution as a specific right, thus it does not exist?

As I mentioned, this is in direct violation of the Ninth Amendment, which explicitly states that the enumeration of certain rights is not meant to disparage the others. The Constitution is not a finite list of rights, and it says so clearly! And it certainly grants the government no power over a woman’s reproductive process. Anti-abortion sentiments were rare at the time of the writing of the Constitution, unfit for a special extension of government powers. And yet as the subject has become a crusade for religious fundamentalists, attempts to justify its Constitutionality have naturally occurred. Their crowing is as predictable as a rooster.

______

Republicans have in many cases not merely gone passive about certain rights, they’ve turned outright aggressive against them. Such a republic facing this prospect would rightly be deemed to be in or near its death throes, about to face a civil war. No matter how casually Republicans treat the Constitution, they’re emphatic about it, often moreso than Democrats. And that should just never be the case, because the only people I see left standing up for the Constitution anymore are left. And if libertarians were to be believed for half the things they say about liberty, there wouldn’t be Republican majorities anywhere.

-hw

The smug self-satisfaction of False Equivalence Monkeys.

Oct 03, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics, Science, Sophistry

Fer fuck’s sake:

But as I commented at scienceprogress, the way I see the ledger, the religious Right gets a handful of anti-science points for views on evolution (and related rationalizations about the age of the earth, etc.), and for some dismissal of climate change theory, but the Left gets many more anti-science points for exaggerating the health and ecological risks of POPs; DDT; GMOs; plastics and plasticizers; pesticide residues; conventional agriculture; low-dose EM radiation; high-tension powerlines; climate change; population growth; resource depletion; chemical sweeteners; species extinction rates; biodiversity decline; and I’m sure the list could go on.

Many more anti-science points! Not just a few, they lap the Republicans on anti-science points. Again: Fer. Fuck’s. Sake.

First of all, those stances do a good job of summing up the mush-headed girl I dated before the brilliant Mrs. Whistler, but hardly any other liberals I know or read, and almost no political leaders or other important media figures. Jenny McCarthy, I concede…

And if we get to include New Agers worried about power lines, then we get to include Republicans who think Obama is the Anti-Christ (a quarter…good grief, click the link for the stupid things they think about him, disgusting).

Next, Mr. Green’s logic is deficient. It isn’t so much that liberals believe things that aren’t scientific, but that they “exaggerate the risks” of certain things, which prefaces his entire list. That’s a nice way of sweeping up any liberal who’s concerned about the possible risks of something like climate change that itself is not scientifically questionable. Get your numbers wrong about the rate of ocean level rising and you’re the same as somebody who thinks women were created out of a man’s rib. Or if you’re concerned that humanity is basically engaging in an ongoing experiment with GMOs, chemical exposure, cell phone use, etc. and would like more research done before we plunge ahead with certain ventures, you’re somehow against scientific research? I’ve met some people pretty strict about wanting to eat organic food, but the most I’ve seen them ask for is fair laws on labeling so massive corporations can’t bribe federal agencies into letting just anybody slap “organic” on their food. Doesn’t everybody without a financial stake in the matter want objective and informative labeling of foods?

No, this sophist isn’t about to claim that species extinction isn’t real, or that population growth doesn’t threaten earth’s natural resources. This allows him to not actually go out on any limbs and smear a whole lot of people at the same time, hiding behind the amorphous charge of “exaggeration.” Meanwhile, rightwingers are actually gearing up to go after the EPA. Does Kenneth Green think they’re going to present a lot of good science behind doing so?

This guy auditioning for Beltway attention by proving he can say LIBERALS DO IT TOO no matter what shouldn’t fool anybody, but he surely will.

-hw

Victory for religious liberty, equality, and reason.

Aug 05, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives, Sophistry, teh gay

To anybody who actually followed the court case over Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California, it should be gobsmacking to anybody that Judge Walker could have ruled any other way. The plaintiff lawyers, both Republican and Democrat, methodically and rigorously dismantled the case for Prop 8. You can read Walker’s judgment here. It’s watertight. The case for Prop 8 had no evidence and no sound argument…because there is no evidence and there is no sound argument.

Surprisingly, that has no effect on Prop 8 supporters on the right. I mean, reason ordinarily works so well on them…

Worth a giggle is Newt Gingrich, “intellectual” of the right:

“Judge Walker’s ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they’ve affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy. Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.”

Among rightwingers, it be merely sufficient to say the word, “Constitution.” No explanation necessary. No awareness that the Constitution exists in order to protect individual rights, and thus will often be at odds with the public. No particular explanation of how the judiciary is supposed to have any function at all if it exists merely to rubber-stamp whatever “the people” want. Yes, ladies and gents, this is what passes for big brains on the right. Newt may sound smart in a party led by people like Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin, but there are actual standards out there, and real conservatives should be standing up for them.

In reality, it’s a bunch of emotional, irrational noise. People may indeed be emotional, irrational creatures, and may react angrily and defensively when this is pointed out to them, but so it goes. Our Constitution was authored by Enlightenment thinkers, rationalists, men who engaged in one of the greatest intellectual experiments in governance in all of history, designing a document carefully that would allow the country to circumvent ugly whims and angry mobs.

Along with the mad fever with which the right has recently opposed religious liberty via the building of a mosque near the WTC site, the growing outrage over the 14th amendment, and the continued non-apologetic stance towards Bush’s jettisoning of the Constitution it’s amazing anybody can take this Constitution talk seriously for a second. With the right, the Constitution’s text means nothing. They want what they want, and no damn piece of paper, as George W. put it, is going to get in their way.

Today is a great day for America.

-hw

Scientology sinking?

Mar 07, 2010 in Religion, Sophistry

This good NYT piece on Scientology, a cult of shysters that openly fleeces its members for everything they have, reveals that the membership in the US has dropped by fifty percent since 2001, down from 55,000 to 25,000.

And hey, it’s America…you can get 25,000 people to believe anything. Proof? Scientology has 25,000 members! These guys make Mormons look normal. Their “religion” was concocted by a bad science fiction author (Hubbard’s Wikipedia page has a lot on his shocking criminality) who started it bragging to other sci-fi authors that it was a get-rich-quick scheme, their mythology sounds like bad science fiction, and being a member is like going to a college where the tuition is however much you got, except at the end instead of a certificate in honor of your intelligence and hard work, you receive a head full of patently absurd shite. Oh, plus there’s no end! You just keep paying.

Sadly, they’re even worse than that. The article, which focuses on defectors, gives us another look at the controlling tactics, beatings, and shunnings that are part of life for Scientologists. Not to mention the pressure placed on some members to have abortions…

Scientology seems to have some basic self-help foundation that incorporates a lot of strategies for successful living, much like what you’d get from a Tony Robbins book (or thousands of other books clogging the bookstore). Some of the defectors profiled have actually continued some of the practices of the church independently.

Of course, when asked for comment, the Scientologist asshole crooks themselves say that you can’t be a Scientologist if you don’t belong to the church, because obviously they aren’t getting your money if you’re out there on your own. Virtually every quote from the Scientology reps sounds like Newspeak, Rovian-style big lies that are too absurd to be believed…except by 25,000 people.

-hw

Evolutionary scientists tend to be smarter than rightwinger talk radio buffoons.

Oct 23, 2009 in Science, Sophistry

Hugh Hewitt demonstrates why he’s better at being a hack radio host than a lawyer, trying to get some kind of win on Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is remarkably patient with Hewitt’s constant attempts to find holes in evolutionary theory. At one point, Hewitt suggests that the fact that evolutionary evidence is harder to understand than, say, evidence of the Holocaust, could cause other people to conclude that Dawkins is radical for suggesting both evolution and the Holocaust are indisputable. Of course, rightwinger listeners who don’t understand evolutionary theory would lap this up, but under no circumstances can the complexity of evidence be seen as undermining said evidence. The world is complex. Life is complex. A simple stone is more complex than most people are really capable of comprehending. Evolutionary theory peels back the surfaces of our world and explores the inner workings. Of course the science is astoundingly complicated, but failure to understand it is not a failure of science.

-jb

Chris Matthews touches greatness.

Aug 12, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Media, Politics, Sophistry

[youtube Jz5ho75qnX4]

Definitely a highlight reel moment for him. Matthews’ bullshit detector has been getting better over the years. Then again, the GOP base is drunk on its own fumes, so outrageously detached from reality that people are forced out of their “six of one, half dozen of the other!” comfort zones.

I say this now: The health care reform movement needs to simply not give up in order to win. If “Death panels” hasn’t convinced you that Republicans are clean out of arguments, then nothing will. The rage is the impotence of Grandpa not being able to figure out the DVD player. The world asked their opinion, and then moved on.

But then one day we will have health care reform, and we’ll be able to quantify the improvements in health. And Republicans will be lining up for their health care benefits right next to Democrats. This noisome racket will be long forgotten.

-jb

This deserves its own post.

May 25, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics, Sophistry, War Crimes

I mentioned in comments the other day that Sharon had linked to us, trying to chortle like we just blather about torture without knowing what we’re talking about. I quickly delivered a smackdown that had her spewing fallacies instantly, but those who know Sharon know that being wrong is the last thing that will shut her up.

Today, stuck in the corner, she actually starts citing the Bybee torture memos as her rebuttal. Memos that have earned the laughter, scorn and derision of nearly the entire legal community (barring David Addington, I’m sure) and set up Bybee for disbarment.

Have rightwingers actually gone so far off the reservation? Sharon quotes Victoria Toensing writing in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, one of the few places other than the Weekly Standard or National Review that such apparatchik nonsense can appear with a straight face. The linchpin? “Specific intent.” Namely, that without specific intent to commit torture, there is no torture!

The law on torture actually states there must be specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental pain. How any interrogator could have imagined that he wouldn’t be doing such a thing is clearly undescribable by any human being. Bybee’s attempt at legalese Newspeak puts it this way:

“As a theoretical matter therefore, knowledge alone that a particular result is certain to occur does not constitute specific intent.”

Sharon, however, gave herself up while flailing for an answer:

The people who saw heads off don’t worry about legalities.

Okay, but when you started off bashing us for not knowing what we were talking about, and then it turned out you didn’t know what you were talking about, you don’t get the win by turning around and dismissing the importance of the law.

Slime and slipperiness may get you out of hot spots momentarily, but people will remember that you have no integrity. In rightwingerland, desperate individuals may find ways to keep clapping, but America will remember how these people acted when they had power, and how they continued to defend themselves afterwards. The Party of Cheney (and Limbaugh, as they are becoming interchangeable) is who they are, and we must keep the car keys out of their hands.

-jb

Unambiguous.

Apr 07, 2009 in Middle East, Politics, Sophistry, War Crimes, War on Terra

In one of my recent clashes with the iconic representative of the classic dimwit modern Republican, Brian Pickrell, Iowa’s village idiot, I noted with some awe how bubble-enclosed members of the right-o-sphere are still able to tell themselves and others that we didnt torture.

There’s a simple rejoinder: Every single fact says otherwise.

There’s no debate. Of course, we tortured. Of course, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney made sure we tortured. They seeked legal cover for it, and stooge Republican lawyers like John Yoo and David Addington leapt at the opportunity (fortunately, they were so addled by partisanship that their flimsy legal toilet paper won’t protect them in court).

Now let’s be clear here: Rightwingers and other torture supporters feel little concern about methods like waterboarding. We know their rationale: It’s not cutting off limbs! Yet waterboarding is torture, and always has been. It was for them too, until they realized they didn’t like the implications of admitting George W. Bush authorized torture while telling the public, “We don’t torture.” Legally and politically, it’s bad news.

So, they will keep saying waterboarding isn’t torture. It is, and they know it, but they won’t say it. I expect some to have more balls and at least say, “Well, I support milder forms of torture, the psychological stuff, etc.”

However, as you will see in the Red Cross report, there was far more than that. We tortured. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney authorized it. They are war criminals, as are John Yoo and other enablers who knew very well what they were doing but thought they could get away with it.

May there be a methodical, precise, and accurate reckoning.

-jb

Sophisiticated rightwinger hackery

Nov 07, 2008 in Sophistry

ISCA was useful to me for so long because there are some intelligent Republicans in there who employ lots of chicanery and rhetorical tricks to chew you up if you’re not on your game. When I entered the blogosphere, I was fully prepped for every trick in the book, because I literally had read them all before. I found myself going back to ISCA recently because I wasn’t quite getting enough challenges here at Iowa Liberal to test my limits, but, alas, I mostly get stuff like this:

“Nov 7, 2008 08:27 from Salamano

If lack of qualification was the major driver of antipathy in the case of
Sarah Palin, how does one explain the antipathy displayed by Chuck Schumer
and Vice-President Elect Biden toward Judges Roberts and Alito, when
qualification should have been the sole criterion for evaluation?”

My response was best suited by shorthand:

SOPHISTRY ALERT: insertion of “sole”

RECOMMENDED ACTION: LULZ

-jb