Friday, March 13, 2009

Stewart busts Cramer for ethics violations, wingnuts claim foul.

Did you see John Stewart's interview of Jim Cramer? If you didn't, here's the links for the United States and Canada.

Reactions to the digg threads on this and other, far more important issues reveal a tremendous disturbance in the zeitgeist, one that I've been feeling for some time, warning about for some time and which contributed significantly to my wife and I deciding to relocate to Canada, where sanity has largely prevailed.

Really, it should not be up to John Stewart to do the ethics policing for the MSM and the financial community. That's bad enough. But Stewart literally pulled out a smoking gun proving that Cramer was guilty of stock manipulation, that his fortune and reputation is on barely firmer ground than Bernie Madoff's - and the wingnuts come out in force, either to defend it as somehow 'unfair,' or, to celebrate it because, since Cramer votes democrat, it's somehow all about "Democrats eating their own."

That's not just stupid. It's Schedule 1, pharmaceutical grade, undiluted, clear quill bugfuck! And yet, the Powers That Wish To Remain continue to beat the drums of fratricidal stupidity.

The wisdom - or at least the rational aspect to my paranoia - is sharply underlined by Glenn Beck's assertion that "political correctness" is such an offensive thing that it is a perfectly reasonable thing to expect good old boys to pop off with semiautomatic fire.

BECK: But as I’m listening to him. I’m thinking about the American people that feel disenfranchised right now. That feel like nobody’s hearing their voice. The government isn’t hearing their voice. Even if you call, they don’t listen to you on both sides. If you’re a conservative, you’re called a racist. You want to starve children.


BECK: Yada yada yada. And every time they do speak out, they’re shut down by political correctness. How do you not have those people turn into that guy?
To O'Rielly's credit, he tries to reel Beck in, but Beck won't take the hint. O'Rielly has to be the voice of reason. Something of a novel sensation, I'm sure.

O’REILLY: Well, look, nobody, even if they’re frustrated, is going to hurt another human being unless they’re mentally ill. I think.

BECK: I think pushed to the wall, you don’t think people get pushed to the wall?

O’REILLY: Nah, I don’t believe in this snap thing. I think that that kind of violence is inside you and it’s a personality disorder. But I do understand the frustration of people. But it’s called fighting the good fight. That’s what it’s called, fighting the good fight. You stand up for your belief system, you tell people what you believe, you take the slings and arrows — both you do, I do, we have to take it. But you fight. You fight for your country. You fight for your family. You fight for your dignity. And that’s it. And you don’t hurt other people in the process. You just fight the good fight.
Holy crap on a cracker - how the hell did that make it to air? Beck, of course, has every personal right to have any personal peckerwood idea he likes. He can even set up his own Internet "samizdat" site to promulgate his increasingly batshit wisdom. However, he's being paid to promote this point of view. We must assume that Rupert Murdoch - and the full weight of his fortune - is behind this culture war. And furthermore, we must presume that he's capable of seeing the logical outcome of beating the war drums in this way.

War. Quite literal warfare, if something is not done. Or at least, he's perfectly willing to encourage a great deal of civil unrest in order to achieve his political goals.

It's becoming increasingly clear that those goals are incompatible with the free expression of values Rupert Murdoch considers "liberal," and that generally means anyone who is not a batshit wingnut koolaid drinker. If you don't think Obama is a commie sleeper agent, a "sekrit muslin" with a direct line to Osama's cave hidden on his Blackberry, why, you aren't a Real American.

He is a Muslim and a tool for the Saudis. I know people who do business in Africa at a high level and the execs and govt people in Africa all have he is a Muslim.
The Saudi money bought him the election.

Yes he is an enemy of the state. A traitor within the white house. Feeding agitprop to the world to justify a continued jihad against the US. And this from the Commander in Chief.

Traitors. I want justice, and now I want revenge against these traitors.
There was no rational reason to release these documents.
Obama and the dems must completely fail.... for America to survive.

He will let 25 million capitalists be killed.. That is the plan per Ayers..

I might add, he is willing to sacrifice all Americans on the global altar.
He must be stopped. Impeach him now for sedition.

It must be said and said repeatedly:
It is obvious to anyone who is paying attention: They are doing this INTENTIONALLY.
They are INTENTIONALLY destroying our nation.
With Malice and Forethought.

On a more serious note, I think that these moves by the illegal 0bamunist regime are specifically intended to provoke a radical response from conservatives, and I would say they are hoping to precisely trigger one or more maniacs (and we've got some at our end of the political spectrum, there's no denying that) into doing something violent which would then provide justification for invoking all of those executive orders which are on the shelf, ready for use, martial law is declared, and all the rest of that noise.

And let's face it: all the speculation about 0bama being the actual Antichrist will either be confirmed or denied if someone gets off a lucky shot at the SOB.

I'm not just calling bullshit, I'm calling batshit!

It's become increasingly clear that very powerful elements in our shared culture - in particular, the media - are perfectly willing to sponsor and pay for speech that is clearly intended to encourage the racist, ant-intellectual, authoritarian, neo-Luddite social conservatives; the pretend Christians that think that being told to mind their own business is an assault on their faith.

But it's not really a left/right divide at all. The divide is between the extraordinarily powerful in alliance with the unbelievably stupid against everybody else in the whole damn world.

This is easily seen on discussion threads, where the divide on every hot button issue is not so much between Liberals and Conservatives as it is between people trying to discuss real issues with an eye to doing something useful and dangerously stupid, verbally violent people in absolute denial of reality, people who are so easily led and comprehensively deluded that they think, variously, that Rush IS the genuine voice of the Republican party, that the mortgage crisis is all the fault of black people who somehow knowingly chose to take bad loans and that it's unfair to pick on MSNBC for knowingly and obviously choosing to avoid asking any awkward questions of people like Bernie Madoff.

I don't need to cite Glenn Grenwald to underline, at this moment in history, why that's a supremely bad idea - but I feel merciless. So Go Read It. Go Read It Now.

Identically, The Washington Post's David Ignatius actually praised the media's failure to object to pre-war Bush lies as a reflection of what Ignatius said is the media's supreme "professionalism":

In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own. And because major news organizations knew the war was coming, we spent a lot of energy in the last three months before the war preparing to cover it.

It's fine to praise Jon Stewart for the great interview he conducted and to mock and scoff at Jim Cramer and CNBC. That's absolutely warranted. But just as was true for Judy Miller (and her still-celebrated cohort, Michael Gordon), Jim Cramer isn't an aberration. What he did and the excuses he offered are ones that are embraced as gospel to this day by most of our establishment press corps, and to know that this is true, just look at what they do and say about their roles. But at least Cramer wants to appear to be contrite for the complicit role he played in disseminating incredibly destructive and false claims from the politically powerful. That stands in stark contrast to David Gregory, Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, David Ignatius and most of their friends, who continue to be defiantly and pompously proud of the exact same role they play.

Professional propagandists - at best. Certainly not journalists. Journalists check facts. They may not comfort the afflicted, but they surely do afflict the comfortable. And that IS the job.

Now, the really sad thing about people stupid enough to descend into wingnuttery, with it's climate change denial, anti-choice/pro-slaughter stance and it's increasingly shrill and mindless defense of drug prohibition in the face of the very literal carnage it causes is that they honestly think they really do know better than everyone else. Furthermore, since they know themselves to be right, and therefore deserving to be an authority, they think it perfectly reasonable to react violently to anyone or anything they see as being "enemies."

And yet, they are not very intelligent. They are - quite obviously - easily manipulated, both by those who wish to use them against political foes and by those smart enough to see that letting that great tidal wave of stupid free is not a stroke of political brilliance. I sincerely pray that what I consider to be obvious sedition and outright hate speech against those trying to deal sanely with complex social issues will result in some serious, personal consequences. [Source cited is reported to be an FBI agent and combat vet]
The number of threats to Obama as an individual, not the office, since election day is unprecedented. The Secret Service typically handles this stuff exclusively, but has had to look elsewhere for help.

The FBI monitors and investigates all the white supremacist groups and websites and the guy I know in NY told me that Obama's election has turned into the best recruiting tool they have ever used. Membership is up for the first time in I don't know how long, and new hate websites are emerging every week. Some of the websites actually call for Obama's assassination in their title!

There are limits to free speech. And in the end, those limits are defined when speech leads to violence - and the violent discover that the 2nd amendment is not just for social conservatives, nor just for US citizens. It speaks to the inherent, inalienable, human right to defend one's self, one's family and one's chosen fellows from oppression. While most people toward the left of center see that right best exercised by delegation should not be taken as "cowardliness", much less blind adherence to some particular ideology.

There's a quite remarkable lack of conspicuous ideological rehetoric to the left of wingnuttia; the situations that focus our immediate attention are technical, economic and scientific; while implementation of solutions surely do have political implications, there is certainly no rational argument against the necessity for short and medium term government involvement in directing funds, attention and information toward possible solutions, even by those who would be ideally opposed to such a thing under normal circumstances. SANE people do not argue about how a house should be heated while it's still on fire, much less complain that the fire chief is not qualifed because he's black, or liberal, or "too tall."

There is a conspicuous lessening of patience for those who see all this "firefighting" as being the fault of some "fascist-liberal commie conspiracy" to take away their right to try and derail the administration's attempt to govern.

It would be unwise to discount the level of impatience out there, regarding such foolishness. But then, that's the problem.

Aside: Speaking for all Canadian fans of the Daily Show, I wish Comedy Central and The Comedy Network would grow the hell up. I can embed the Canadian video - but I bet that's just as annoying for US readers as a US linked embed would be for me. Can't you sort out an automatic redirect, or maybe just, you know, design a common page that detects my origin based on my browser settings?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tired of Chromefishtians fleecing your flock?

Some ideas are simple enough to fit on a bumper-sticker. This is one of them.

I don't usually think in social terms. I'm on the autistic spectrum, I do not like crowds, I have few friends and honestly prefer it that way. But every once in a while, it occurs to me that I'm rather unusual in that regard, that social networking is important - and that the networks you use sharply influence what we are capable of accomplishing - for good or ill.

Churches have been becoming less and less likely to achieve good things because real christians - those who define themselves in terms of the words in red attributed to Christ - have become more and more marginalized by Dominionist and Prosperity Gospel ... oh, not to put too fine a point on it, heresies.

I belong to no church, myself, and while I try to live according to those words in red, don't feel the need to assume, much less assert the divinity of Christ in order to think them important. Heck, if he didn't feel the need to make an inarguable, definitive statement, one way or the other, perhaps that was the point. Read the words. The words are the point. Said by anyone else, they would mean just the same thing.

I feel that if you need divine authority for something to be believable, then your God-given facility of reason and critical thinking has been sinfully neglected! I've read those red words a fair bit, and they are pretty plain words speaking to obvious truths, couched in words accessible to plain folks. It takes a lot of theology to get in the way of them, so I prefer to abstain from that particular vice.

But as I said, I don't network much and I can afford to be an iconoclastic freethinker. I don't need to put up with folks who disagree with me, or differ about things I consider essential.

But others do, and the more they do differ, the less likely they are to notice to what degree the context they are in gets in the way of doing things in a classically Christian way. I'm not speaking from a "moral high ground" but rather from a varient perspective enforced upon me by my brain's odd wiring. If I could fit in, I would be just as strongly affected by groupthink. Actually, looking back on life, it would be more strongly - I've never perfected boundary skills to the extent that most have.

So I offer ideas, thoughts and tools - like the bumpersticker above - to benefit the likeminded faithful. Now, while I'd prefer you paid my markup - it's about the idea. Ask me nice, tell me what you are about and I'm likely to donate my work to you.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Them librul city slickers jus' cain't get good redneck irony laik this.

When Hammerskins pinup star "Joe the Plumber" complains that the black leader of the RNC is trying to redefine conservatism, he may actually believe he's saying something sensible about Conservatism - but almost nobody else does, regardless of their politics or racial bias. The cognitive dissonance is so damn loud that it drowns everything out.

TPMDC | Talking Points Memo | Joe The Plumber Blasts Michael Steele's "Hip Hop" Ambitions: "'You can't sell principles; either you have them or you don't,'"

Exactly. And whatever principles people say they have, you can figure out the ones they actually use by the way they go about doing things. Since Joe's whole gig revolves around being a shamelessly opportunistic phony, and since we have seen what the policies he's pimping lead to, there's really only one conclusion to make; to the extent you find yourself in agreement, it's time to rethink the principles you thought you had.

You know, kinda like the banks. When you dilute your principles in order to maximize interest, bad things happen.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pat Buchanan Says We Must Consider Legalizing Drugs

Best Comment: You know change is coming when you are agreeing with Pat Buchanan.There are two ways to end the war: Milton's way and Mao's way. Mao's communists killed users and suppliers alike as social parasites. Milton Friedman's way is to call off the war. Americans are never going to adopt the Maoist solution. For the users of drugs are all too often classmates, colleagues, friends, family, and event three U.S. presidents.

read more | digg story

Social Science + Common Sense = Legalize Drugs

Yes, folks - you can think of The War On Drugs as lives and money going up in smoke - lives and money that could be doing something useful. That's one hell of a stupidity tax.

There are a great many reasons to object to current drug laws, both from an inherent, civil libertarian point of view and for their unintended consequences. Some of these objections are ideological and conjectural - but there is nothing more concrete than the increased risk of being caught in gangland crossfire, and the reality that legalization will take that kind of player out of the game.

CN ON: Column: How to Get Me to Shut Up About Drugs:

If prohibition is causing violence, countries that are less strict in enforcing the law should see less violence, while those that take a harder law should see more. Changes in law enforcement over time should be correlated with violence as well.

And that's just what Miron and two colleagues found in a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Examining data spanning countries and decades, Miron and his colleagues found things like arrest rates, capital punishment and gun laws didn't explain the numbers. But "the hypothesis that drug prohibition generates violence," they concluded, "is generally consistent with the long time-series and cross-country facts."

Miron's conclusion is sobering: If governments respond to gang violence with tougher laws and crackdowns, they will ultimately produce more violence.

Among western nations, none has fought the drug trade harder than the United States. And none has a murder rate close to that of the U.S. Miron thinks that's not a coincidence. "I have one set of estimates that maybe 50 per cent of homicides in the U.S. are due to the prohibition of drugs."

The best way to make a significant and lasting reduction in gang violence, Miron contends, is to remove drugs from the black market. They can be strictly regulated using any of a hundred different policy models. But they must be legalized.

Of course, the police scoff at this. Legalization wouldn't hurt organized crime, they say. Gangsters would just move on to some other lucrative enterprise.

But this assumes there are lucrative enterprises available to organized crime that gangsters are not now exploiting -- in defiance of economic theory and common sense.

It's also contrary to historical experience. "We definitely see crime fall when we make things legal," Miron says. "

Now, add into the mix all the economic benefits that we abandon due to the most direct consequences of drug policy - the loss of an entire, green, sustainable and very important agricultural sector, in favor of petroleum based alternatives. There are very few crops out there that have as many uses per plant. Canada's relatively sane approach to exploring hemp production for fiber, oils and other uses promises to grow into a huge new economic sector in a relatively short period. It's fairly obvious that there is significant potential for an entire range of pharmaceutical applications.

Combine the dramatic cost savings with the potential and proven economic benefits and it's easy to see how we can afford to deal rationally with the people who's drug abuse IS a problem for them and those around them. And perhaps we can then also talk rationally about what drug abuse is, why it happens, and what makes the most sense, generally and individually.

One of the most critical undiscussed topics in that range is why people think using is better than not using. Usually this relates to either an inherent mental health issue - and making crazy illegal is obviously silly - or to social stresses that we might well be able to do something about if we were to speak openly about it.

One more reason to loudly ignore people who predict the immenent collapse of Society As They Wish It Was if we "permit" people to use the drugs they will use in any case. Because, well, that is the problem. Not pot. Not even heroin. It's busybodies and bad social policy. We can afford neither in our rapidly changing world.

Oh, look, a really stupid DEMOCRAT!

Rep. Conyers wants science to be secret… or you will pay | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

Recently, government-sponsored agencies like NIH have moved toward open access of scientific findings. That is, the results are published where anyone can see them, and in fact (for the NIH) after 12 months the papers must be publicly accessible. This is, in my opinion (and that of a lot of others, including a pile of Nobel laureates) a good thing. Astronomers, for example, almost always post their papers on Astro-ph, a place where journal-accepted papers can be accessed before they are published.

John Conyers (D-MI) apparently has a problem with this. He is pushing a bill through Congress that will literally ban the open access of these papers, forcing scientists to only publish in journals. This may not sound like a big deal, but journals are very expensive. They can cost a fortune: The Astrophysical Journal costs over $2000/year, and they charge scientists to publish in them! So this bill would force scientists to spend money to publish, and force you to spend money to read them.

Why would Conyers do this? Interestingly, if you look at the bill sponsors, you find that they received twice as much money on average in donations from journal publishers than Congresscritters who don’t sponsor the bill — though to be fair, the total amount is not large. Still, Conyers got 4 times as much.


This amounts to a huge "science tax." It also forces everyone through editorial choke points. I'm all for peer-reviewed science - but not at all for a journal getting to decide whether or not an idea deserves peer review. Considering how often science, business and government become entangled, it is to be assumed that editors will have inherent conflicts of interest - aside from purely disciplinary biasas - that put the question to objectivity.

Therefore, a rich variety of alternate means of discussion is vital to a vibrant and productive scientific community, particularly in areas where political interference is not just possible, but probable.

Frankly, I see no particular way in which traditional journal publication is inherently superior to simply dumping an article onto the web for open examination - and the reaction there will certainly refine anything worth refining.

Let us also remember that science is not the exclusive province of the purely academic community. Anyone willing to do the work to accepted standards and present results so that they may be reviewed and replicated should be able to do so. After all, the costs of internet publication are negligible - as opposed to traditional journals - which are anything but. Indeed, the costs of the literature is one of the most significant barriers to participation in any given field, limiting it to the wealthy or those with access to a good academic library.

There is a great deal of science that is not being done because there is no money to do it- and some evident reluctance to allow anything done outside of accepted circles to be granted any attention.

I concur with the author that this is a damn stupid idea - and one that will impose obvious disincentives to people wishing to do serious science in the United States.


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