Saturday, August 15, 2009

Don't Piss On The Crazy Bush

By the way: I am to some degree suggesting that we can use "Crazy" in the clinical sense. As in, should be under the care of a mental health professional.

In responding to a comment below, I was reminded of this story: Why the Right's 'Astroturfing' Propaganda Is Textbook Psychopathic.

Here's a quick test, a sort of free-association game: What do egocentrism, deceitfulness and aggressive criminality have in common?

If you guessed that they are characteristics of disturbed behavior, you're half right. They are in fact features of the Psychopathy Checklist Revised, a template for diagnosing psychopaths, designed by Canadian psychologist Robert D. Hare.

But what's more interesting about this triumvirate is the fact that it's being employed in the recent slew of corporate-backed, faux grassroots outbursts (also known as "astroturfing" campaigns) across the country.

Perhaps that might make the following make more sense. It's not "crazy" to disagree about political differences. It IS crazy to lie, cheat and threaten people, particularly in ways that show that you are completely unable to foresee the possibility of being caught, or what that will do to your cause.

Now, when you are confronted with a crazy person, realize that you simply cannot deal with them as if you were dealing with a rational, predictable person with a sense of right and wrong. At the same time, you cannot simply crotchpunch them. I know, it seems wrong to me too, but there it is; for some reason, only the police get to crotchpunch disagreeable people.

But you have absolutely no reason to treat them with the respect, consideration and forbearance due rational people. Keep an eye on them and wait for them to do something foolish enough to take them out of play. For they will, surely they will. But there's no reason for YOU to be the victim of their hard-earned karma!

The thing about us cosmopolitan elitists is that we have learned that taking crazy people seriously can make you crazy. They USED to teach people in Journo 101 that you don't give credence to the incredible.

It is fun at times to ridicule the ridiculous - but some things are so fucking INHERENTLY ridiculous that pointing it out amounts to insulting the intelligence of any audience worth having.

Rick Perlstein -- Birthers, Health Care Hecklers and the Rise of Right-Wing Rage - "So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are 'either' the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests."

Never mind watering the Tree of Liberty. Stop pissing on the Crazy Bush!

That's how you deal with crazy people. You firmly tell them that the shit in their heads is their shit, and they have to own it.

At the very least, before inviting others into the private regions of your head, you should pick up the trash and do the laundry. There's a perfect example of that right here.

People who behave like that in public should be treated in the same way as a five year old who has yet to learn that public masturbation is inappropriate.

Renegade Evolution quotes the crazy in full, and mistakenly attempts to respond to the crazy as if she were talking to a rational person who was attacking her for sane, if malicious reasons. A mistake, I fear. I have a stock t-shirt for just such occasions.

While it may have worth citing as a textbook example of disastrously flawed rhetoric or to feature as an example of what happens when you roll a double zero on your critical thinking skill table, one only had to read three paragraphs down to realize that any deeper consideration would be entirely misplaced.

The signers of the letter say they are “members of the academic community.” The media quickly converted that into “50 professors.” In fact, quite a few are not full-time professors or administrators at these institutions; rather, some are adjunct faculty, graduate students, or retired. At least one signer seems to be an undergraduate.
You see, the nutball letter states that these persons who claim to be "members of the academic community" are, indeed, members of the academic community, precisely as they claimed. Citing that media has failed to correctly cite their credentials is not a valid criticism of the credentials they claim, if anything, it more firmly establishes their proper credentials - as representing the entire range of the academic community, that is to say, people who's primary qualification is to think about stuff and derive useful insights that may advise others who may, though no fault of their own, have less time to devote to such matters.

Such as, Margaret Brooks and Donna M. Huges of Citizens Against Trafficking the co-authors of the above paragraph.

See, having established that they cannot think, one may cease to be concerned with what they think regarding any appareant mutual concerns, because any response amounts to Pissing on the Crazy Bush.

Any discussion of any topic of any importance (say, human trafficing and slavery) will be degraded into incoherence by dealing with the sort of people who insist on their right to be heard because of what the insects in their heads tell them is Too Important To Be Ignored.

This advice does not merely apply to such people speaking out against you. It's far more humiliating to have such people thinking they have a place in your "posse."

It's like hearing "Chemtrails" in conversation - it's a signal to switch to meaningless small talk. Trust me, they will not notice the difference, and you won't feel the need to crotch-punch them, so it's a win-win.

Some things are so awesomely, majestically, comprehensively stupid as to be worthy of standing alone in all their awful majesty. I understand why Ren takes this nasty little screed personally, but she's mistaken in doing so.

It's not that I'm saying that she should "understand" their position. She shouldn't even try. You don't encourage people to rationalize a phobic response. You either accept it or you do not, and that reaction depends entirely upon whether the irrational spasms pose any danger.

Likewise, as a responsible person, you cope with your phobia or you do not, and arrange your life accordingly. A phobic has no reasonable expectation that people should accommodate their irrational fears, much less enable them in oppressing the people they are phobic about.

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this."
"Well, then, stop DOING that!"

I may squish a spider in order to keep my wife's brains from leaking out of her head. I will not harm a person because she reacts to them in the same way; I'll take her to the mental health clinic. We both understand that distinction, and she would do the same for/to me. There is a limit to which reasonable people expect their irrationality to be accommodated.

Sane public policy cannot possibly accommodate all irrational fears and phobias, nor may it advantage personality disorders over civility and long persist. Government, along with every other human activity, cannot sacrifice outcome in the name of process.

Bring facts, bring reason, bring a coherent argument with, you know, facts and stuff, or stay home.

From this elitist bastard's perspective, you may just as well. I'm not going to waste precious, publicly funded photons on arguing with crazy.

(Should I forget, do feel free to remind me.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Speech and it's consequences.

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Update! And, no, wingtards, it's NOT "sensorship" to refuse to store or forward terror threats. It's entirely sensible.

Of late, I've been noting the bury brigades over on digg and the #tcot twits twittering; in those abrupt contexts, a rather pervasive misunderstanding of the First Amendment is often painfully illustrated.

The view is that a person has the right to say whatever they like about anyone with the presumption that there should be no consequence for that speech, legal or otherwise, if you are a REAL American. Of course, if you are NOT a "Real American," a substantially different standard applies, and on occasion tips over into direct threats of violence.

This even extends to those who will passionately assert things that are completely, obviously and provably untrue; these folk seem to be genuinely offended that their words are not given equal weight to those who advocate positions ballasted with actual facts, genuine documents, logical reasoning and historical evidence.

You do have the right to believe a lie. You don't have the right to demand that your belief be accorded the slightest respect. The only respect you might be allowed is the presumption that you are a conscious liar, and not a deluded thrall - but frankly, the expectation of such charity is SO 2004.

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, I found that Eugene Volokh has taken on an interesting Pro-Bono case, in which the ACLU has filed an Amicus brief in support of his idiot client's right to say patently offensive things to a public official. I concur with Eugine and the ACLU that it's an abuse of power to use the law to "correct" the disrespectful address of our "betters." Frankly, as an anti-authoritarian, I encourage an entirely conditional respect for authorities.

I expect an authority to be competent and authoritative. They should be able to demonstrate their qualifications on demand and welcome the opportunity. And, as opportunities go, this one is a slow pitch. Such "critics" are to be treasured, such "dissent" tends to discredit other critics by example.

So, when a public official uses the law to punish such "dissent", it doesn't speak to me of their skill or qualifications. To the contrary.

Nonetheless, behaving like a dick tends to bring out that response in human beings with hind brains and limbic systems. Nor should anyone expect to speak to anyone in the manner cited below and expect to escape unscathed. Perhaps once, perhaps twice - but as a lifestyle choice, it's doomed to an abrupt and painful end.

I have a friend in Iraq that I told all about you and he referred to you as a Benedict Arnold. I told him that fit you very well. . . . I’d like to puke all over you. People like you should be forced out of this country. Hey, I have a great idea!!!! . . . Let’s do nothing to Iran, let them get nukes, and then let them bomb U.S. cities and after that, we will just keep turning the other cheek. Remember that Libs like yourself are the lowest form of life on this planet[.]
I would like to think that I'd be capable of "rising above" such a situation. I can think of times that I have succeeded. I can think of other examples when I have failed. In practice, I think that any response short of a slap across the face and an offer to exchange seconds is a gift.

Courtesy is a requirement for human beings who wish to participate in civil society, and the lack of courtesy will be often be met with cuffs and spittle, regardless of the pure merit of that reaction under law, or our expectation that those in power rise above the standards expected of the common man. That is a presumptive ideal; we should demand it of ourselves, but it should be considered foolish in the Darwinian sense to so sharply test the forbearance of others.

So, while I applaud Eugene and the ACLU for protesting the actions of the state against an odious arsewipe, I wish to state for whatever record that the defense itself is a consequence.

First Amendment cases do tend to be illustrated with the pain of those who have somehow earned the wrath of others, justly or unjustly. It's a rather perverse form of public service, that one has somehow managed to be such a conspicuous pain in the ass that it's merits as critical speech, redeeming social value and where it lies within the boundaries of free and unfettered speech must be discussed by the Supremes.

Should I ever find myself involved in a free speech case I want to be compared to George Carlin, not the KKK. And frankly, this fellow's speech does not rise to the standard of the KKK asserting their right to march in Skokie. This is simply a jerkwad, being used to demonstrate that even fucking jerks saying things that only a drunken jerk would say are protected by the first amendment. It's a principle well worth establishing. And yet it should be observed that it's a consideration that goes to the principle, it says nothing about the worth of the idea or the respect that it is due.

We choose to preclude a violent response to speech this deliberately offensive because we wish to preclude the right of those in power to prevent criticism.

But we must at the same time recognize that if you said this in a bar to someone else, nobody would be even slightly surprised if the response was a punch in the face, and you might well be held liable for any consequential damages or injuries.

The thing about pointlessly offensive speech is that it offends people, who tend respond by correction or avoidance. And they don't always distinguish between you, the offensive fucking jerk, and you, the offensive fucking jerk speaking in support of what you touchingly think to be "conservative values."

It often bears indirect, personal consequence in terms of lost opportunity and diminished respect, in direct proportion to the target and the wit displayed. Witlessly, mindlessly, patently offensive speech, then, bears it's own consequence and reward, for the speaker - and anyone standing next to them.

We need no state or church to tell us what we should be offended by, or what speech should have greater legal consequence than others, short of batshit insane exhortations to violent actions, or provable, malicious slanders and libels.

In almost every case of batshit insanity, even if it does exhort fools to violence we can say this: "Res Ipsa Loquitor," The Thing Speaks For Itself.

If such a speaker could convince you to violent acts - well, so could any random combination of sounds, or the invisible pink unicorn that lives in your lunchpail. If you can't consider this source - you are incapable of critical thought to a degree that amounts to a diagnosable handicap.

If you are thinking that hanging out with people that are that stupid gives you a shot at some influence and power ... well, the workman is known by the quality of their tools.

Speaking of whory aphorisms, there's another precept that predates any modern understanding of the terms "Liberal" and "Conservative," and it goes like this: "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

Sarah Palin has made it impossible for anyone to defend her as a responsible, ethical, intelligent, informed and capable leader. Hell, she's made it impossible for anyone to think her capable of forming an intelligible sentence. I don't know what the hell she's trying to say here; I doubt she is entirely sure herself, but I doubt it deserves more deference than a chocolate-covered five-year old's assertion that an invisible friend ate all the cookies.

Oh, and Sarah, don't call yourself a "Conservative." Fucking up state Medicaid to the extent that federal intervention is required is not the hallmark of Conservative leadership, not socially nor fiscally. It's irresponsible at best, corrupt at worst, and absolutely disqualifies you from talking of yourself as politically and idealistically motivated.

Political philosophy speaks about how you go about fulfilling the duties you are elected to discharge according to law.
This speaks to being indifferent to responsibility entirely. "Malfeasance" is not an ideology. It's a character flaw.

The only people who still consider her to be an authority - on anything - are doing so in willful suspension of disbelief. She's an authority because she says she is, they elected her because she said she was and continue to support her because she asserts competence in the face of stark evidence to the contrary.

She is the chosen icon - or perhaps the boobalicious bubo - of the near terminal case of Authoritarian Personality Disorder that has stricken the GOP. The Republican Party has squandered it's right to leadership by pandering only to those who would blindly follow any tall figure on a pale horse.

Aside from being utterly cynical, it's moronic. At most 30 percent of the population falls into this category, and they are a promiscuous lot; as likely to follow Charles Manson as Sarah Palin. Their support says nothing good at all about the quality of the leadership or the causes it stands for.

The single most telling and persuasive rebuttal to Sarah Palin is ... Sarah Palin. She is also one of the most visceral emotional arguments against the social and economic policies of the GOP. That is to say, "You have to be THAT stupid to be a Republican?"

"Never argue with fools; people might not be able to tell the difference." And if you seem to be agreeing with fools, much less exploiting fools... well, again, the conclusions are inescapable.

This leads directly into the concept of "Free Speech" and the Freely Earned Consequences Of It. A free society neither needs nor desires any restriction on free speech or association, other than the natural rewards for good and bad choices.

If you utter bigoted and hateful words, it is inevitable and natural that people will realize that you are a bigoted and hateful person, and that your support of a position comes because you ARE that sort of person. If you speak in ways that reveal you to be stupid, shallow, opportunistic and self-serving, it's doubtful that it will impress those who hold the key to the opportunity for larger responsibilities that you might seek. Again, yes, I'm thinking of Sarah Palin - but it is a target-rich environment.

There are consequences to inviting obnoxious idiots to your Party. All the smart people finish their beers and leave via the back door, while blocking your phone number on their Blackberries.
And for the GOP, I'd have to say that started around 2004. I expect that the Blue Dog Dems will become the next party of the Right.

It's not because principled conservatives do not exist - it's because their speech has been driven out of the marketplace of ideas. If they speak as conservatives, or at least Republican Conservatives their ideas will be dismissed as either idiotic by definition, or simply a string of jingoistic keywords to provoke the freepers into another Pavlovian spasm. They will have to wait until the idiots are gone before they can be heard; and there's no real conservative principle that says there's great moral value in delaying the inevitable consequences of antisocial behavior.

Those witnessing the show can easily come to the conclusion that the Republican brand of Conservatism is inherently unethical, idiotic, selfish, inhumane, reactionary, authoritarian, judgmental and utterly incapable of critical thought. And it may well be that this has come to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's certainly accurate enough regarding those Republicans who happen to be in positions of influence. I could state many examples, but one is so definitive that it trumps all others. The public defense of torture as necessary for the security of the State? The sanction of state terrorism, in violation of the Constitution and what the Deceleration states to be "inalienable" rights to life and liberty? Anyone who could say that thing aloud cannot call themselves a Republican. The concept does not stretch that far.

I consider those who advocate the use of torture to be ... well, I consider them to be persons worthy of no regard. And by "no regard," I mean that quite literally. They have renounced any reasonable expectation of regard for their human rights. Due process under law is not justice, for such people. It's merciful forbearance granted for the greater good, not because they deserve it, any more than any other terrorist does.

Those who have advocated torture, much less participated in the process deserve nothing more than that which they have excused, demanded or participated in. Torture is terrorism.

It would be ILLEGAL to shoot you in the nuts and laugh at your pain. I'm not absolutely sure that it would be wrong, and it's laughable to suggest it would be undeserved. It would be madness to rely on your moral or ethical insight and guidance. If that was not evident from first principles - and it WAS - it's certainly been brutally and effectively illustrated by the distinct and consistent inability of those who think and act in this way to achieve the results they predict. "Six Months." Greeted with flowers. Cakewalk. Mission Accomplished.

Words that will go down in history in comparison with "Peace In Our Time."

Since the GOP has insisted that torture is a legitimate tool of state interest and that it can and will detain and torture anyone it damn well pleases for any reason it damn well wants and sees no need to excuse or defend it - well, there you go. Now that you lost the election, how does it feel to be looking at the other end of those lovingly crafted testicle crushers? What argument do you have against them being tried out on you?

Those who have treated Constitution and Citizenry with contempt deserve nothing but contempt. And I certainly do not respect any assertion of political piety or rational justifications for inherently inexcusable positions, much less permit them to associate their sort of Conservatism with my own.

If you will not do as you would be done by, you will be done by as you did. It's not a moral precept. It's not even a statement of an ethical ideal. It's an observation of cause and effect.

UPDATE: Screengrab link to threat will not work. A Mad American Explains:

I expect there will be an impromptu First Amendment Seminar sponsored by the Department of Justice in A_Mad_American's immediate future. Perhaps the fine, somewhat academic distinction between "Free Speech" and "Uttering Terrorist Threats" will be clearer to him subsequent to having to pay for legal council.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why I don't read "Conservative" media.

Wonkette : Important Editorial: If Stephen Hawking Lived In The U.K., He Would Be Dead

You know where Stephen Hawking has lived for 67 years? England. Again: England. England. And this is why an editorial from the “Investors Business Daily” about Obama trying to kill Trig Palin for having Down Syndrome, one that was cited favorably in a Human Events press release today, has become the stuff from which humor-jokes are made on the Internet: “People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.” [IBD, Atlanta J-C, Ezra Klein]

I have a very simple requirement for my primary sources. I can account for bias, and if one source leaves out an "inconvenient" fact, I'm sure I'll be able to find it somewhere else. But what I absolutely cannot tolerate is being lied to, and if it's done in a way that could easily set me up for personal embarrassment and ridicule for days afterward... well. That source gets roundfiled.

After all, if I have to fact-check every freakin' link before trusting it, what's the point in even reading it?

Just imagine how many thousands of FORMER WND readers were gleefully ambushed at the water-cooler when they plopped out this rhetorical gem to "prove" how "Evil Socialism" would have killed Steven Hawking, had he suffered from Evil Socialist Health Care. In England. Where He Lives.

One fave twitter comment I saw in passing... "But he doesn't have an English accent!"

Let this be an example of why stupidity is so fucking dangerous. Well, if the burning pain of personal humiliation can illustrate WHY you need to have reliable and trustworthy information sources, perhaps it's done some good.

But not the "good" they had in mind. Which, you know, is better known as "evil."

Now, a rhetorical question. This is supposedly a site that gives out financial advice. They are stating as facts a number of lies and distortions that, should you believe it, would tend to be of gigantic financial benefit to the insurance and pharma sectors.

What are the chances that their direct investment advice is more honest, unbiased and truthful?

That's a rhetorical question, by the way. If you have to ask someone that sort of question, there's no point in believing the answer.

Illustration: citation needed by Anisotropy

John Batchelor: Sane Conservative on Radio?

In your heart, you know he's pissed! print

There may be a sane conservative speaking on radio! He has a well-attended blog at The Daily Beast. Here's the quote that captured my attention.
If the Republican Party existed except as a club of groupies and roadies for the rabble-rousers on radio and cable, it would rouse itself from its narcotized self-satisfaction of second best and give a speech that the Turfers, Birthers Tea-Baggers and all the other amateurs of dissent must sit down and listen to the reason of statesmanship or else leave the halls of Congress. The GOP would tell the snipers that this is a somber, modest political party, not a cruise ship to the seventh grade. Somewhere in the outline of this speech, this make-believe worthwhile Republican Party would include the language of liberty and restraint. And then this never to be given speech by a non-existent leader to the never again to be dignified Republicans would build to a quiet conclusion that very much resembles Edmund Burke. "But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”
John Batchelor is radio host of the John Batchelor Show in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Ordinarily, I think of my Zazzles as being illustrations more than products. I have sold a number of these posters, but honestly speaking, they are of interest to a rather narrow range of political junkie. However, if you were planning on attending a health care town meeting as a legitimate conservative who intended to ask real questions in the expectation of getting real answers in return, one of these would help separate you from the swastika-sliming idiots.

I happened to notice they are on sale, so get two and bring a friend.

In your heart, you know he's pissed! by webcarve See more posters at Zazzle

Buy 1 Poster Get 1 FREE! (50% off 2+ posters) Use code: BTSPOSTERS09

T-shirts are available if you find that more convenient. I have one featuring this design on the front with a quote from Goldwater on the reverse that seems trenchantly prophetic:

A Letter From a True Patriot of the Tea Bag Movement

A Letter From a True Patriot of the Tea Bag Movement:

by Rich on 04/23/2009

in Politics

We usually don’t pay attention to people like this, but I think that this guy’s harsh words really represent the current “tea bag” movement and the attitude towards the Obama administration that Fox News pundits have been endorsing. This ever-growing dissatisfaction with the way our government is run can only end one way, as this gentleman clearly demonstrates…"
Title links to site.
Read, Digg, Stumble and include in a chain letter to That Side of the family...


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