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ENOUGH Already!!!

Good grief… ENOUGH of the inane drivel populating my Facebook page.  This is simply verbal instragrams on steriods.  If political discussion of a serious nature, the kind designed to really help inform others and allow for the fires of a real discussion to burn away the dross and leave enough salient data from which educated and informed choices can be made, then this moronic, childish, simpleton level of posting needs to be replaced with a level that would indicate the posters’ intelligence is anywhere near what they would have the readers believe.  But none are appearing.

We are facing a set of choices unlike any in recent history:  they are clear and diametrically opposite in their philosophical bases.  People of intelligence have, over time, championed both sides but few of them or that intelligence are in evidence.  Facing this country are major issues on a wide variety of fronts, many of which go to the core structure of our society and some of which may go to the future existence of it.  Getting lost in side issues or cartoon level thinking is simply to avoid reality and admit to mental dwarfism.  Pretending to be somewhere in the middle is to demonstrate abject cowardice.  Getting lost in the fear of oligarchies and holding that there is no difference between the candidates is ignorance gone to seed.

The choices and actions and policies of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush or any of their predecessors is a red herring since none of them are running and the two candidates, if we are honest (hey, there is a concept) are different from any of them in their experiences, resumes, attitudes, and visions for the country. Blaming the past does not fix the future.. it usually just accelerates the worst potentials.  Whoever brought us to this point, we are here, now, and cannot go back to change it; we can only go forward and deal with the realities facing us now not the screw-ups of the past that will make for interesting reading in years to come.  There will be plenty of time to play the recriminations and blame game but for now, we face a deadly serious reality and we need to give THAT our attention while we still can.  Getting high centered on issues that should be private matters and for which government should not be involved, either to prohibit or facilitate, takes us away from issues that can destroy the country both from without and from within.

So what IS facing us?  On the geopolitical front we have Russia wanting to re-constitute the USSR, Iran wanting to reconstitute Persia, and China wanting to corral world energy resources.  Any of those, much less all of them, pose challenges for our future and our future place in the world… and none of them bode well for us if achieved under the current players or regimes.  Against that complex world, such side issues as who can marry who — or what – or how many of them, serves only to distract from the issues that, depending on how they play out, could render such questions pointless.

We have a mind numbing national debt and a crippling deficit that says to anyone with a calculator who is willing to review numbers honestly that we are spending and leveraging money for which we have no revenue source.  Simple math and a review of IRS data shows clearly that taxing the entire tax base at 100% (much less the 10% that pay 70% of our revenue already) will not solve it.  Our solutions are limited.  Since we stupidly have a “fiat” currency we can always print more money thereby increasing inflation, devaluing the dollar, and as the great God Keynes himself said, destroy the country by debauching the currency.

Or, we can make profoundly painful cuts in entitlements until we get back on track along with reasonable and temporary tax hikes that do not drive off businesses and thereby lose the employees whose taxes we need.  But as any household knows, what we cannot do is continue to spend more money than we take in or CAN take in.  The results are always, without exception in the home or in the State (think California) or Country (think Greece) economic catastrophe and that renders issues of how and when can we kill our progeny pointless since it will not much matter if the country and its economy actually do go over the cliff.

We know, or should know if we are honest, that in an election cycle the candidates on both sides will play loose and fast with the truth in order to sway the greater number of the population to vote for them.  Blind partisans will eat up their guy’s most outlandish claims and, at the same time, ignore or castigate those on the other side who cry fowl and “shenanigans.”  But it is the blind partisans on both sides who got us into this mess and who will not now admit to it.  So we know that we cannot rely on speeches, PACs, or other shills and hacks spewing the latest greatest clever sound bite.  We can only look to the experiences, policies, records, and visions of the candidates to draw some informed and hopefully reasonable conclusions.  Where DO they stand and how WILL they likely act on the REAL major issues?  Those are the questions and debate intelligent folks are having, not the claptrap spewed out on Facebook from those unable or unwilling to participate in the discussions of real issues.

Here, to help us decide, Obama gives us an advantage: he has written books clearly spelling out his vision and naming his mentors who inspired it.  He pulls no punches and neither do his mentors.  Romney has no books and we have only his record as governor and businessman to look back to.

Based on those criteria however, we have candidates with two virulently different views as to where American should go in the future.  And it is upon those views and those views only that we can draw some conclusions and pit those conclusions against our own views and visions for where we would like to see this country progress or even exist.  One follows pretty closely the philosophical line from Rousseau, Godwin, through Marx and Engles and desires  worker’s paradise filled with social justice as defined by the ruling hierarchy of enlightened thinkers du jour.  The other has a cloudier more convoluted evolution of political thought and is nowhere nearly as clear as the incumbent, but roughly and generally follows the philosophical line of Locke, Burke, through Jefferson and desires a world of self-reliance and government whose role is simply to aid citizens to prosper by mostly getting out of their way and intervening only in cases of abuse.

One sees the Constitution as an impediment, at best a rough guideline when it serves and at worse an obsolete document to be circumvented when it conflicts with the vision and has given us a record to demonstrate that view.  The other asserts an adherence to the Constitution, but we have yet no real record to indicate the truth of that statement so we have simply a known against an unknown.

And that means that an issue worthy of debate is the status of the Constitution itself and whether or not you or I believe in it and believe in its value.  But to serve our own philosophies honestly we have to be honest about this issue.  Our choices of action vis-à-vis the Constitution are incredibly straight forward: ignore it at will and render it meaningless or accept it in whole and, if in disagreement, work via the process spelled out in it to change it more to our modern liking but retain the structure.

Following their views of the Constitution we have a clear divergence of thinking on the structure of government itself and the roles and powers of its parts.  One sees the executive branch as monarchical and able to annunciate laws and edicts or create at will agencies to promulgate and promote their wishes in spite of or in avoidance of Congress.  We know that from actions and the record.  The other claims to believe in the sanctity of the checks and balances spelled out in the Constitution but we have no real record from which to judge the honesty of those claims.  Again, we are left with a known against an unknown; a known who has spelled out their vision and worked tirelessly and consistently to achieve it opposed to someone who has simply talked about theirs but sometimes vacillated in action.  What a horrid choice and at perhaps the worst time in history to be reduced to it.

But known or not, honest or not, both sides represent a very divergent set of views about the proper role of government.  If you truly prefer the side that would trash the foundations and start over, i.e. to, as Obama said, “fundamentally transform” us then be honest about it,  spell out your ideal policies, plans, and rationales so we can openly, publically, seriously, discuss them and see which candidate best expresses or embraces them.  But you, the voter, have to make them fit into the broader reality of history (and what has worked and what has not), the likelihood of acceptance by the country at large, and the impact on the future of the country and the future of us on the world stage.  If the issues that make you vote for one person or the other do not rise to those levels of national impact then in my opinion you have no right going to the polls or opening your mouth.

Don’t regurgitate someone ELSE’S ideas like the vomit from a drunken politician with mixed chunks of various origins; tell us the issues that YOU think are formative and critical to the country’s future and then give us your thinking on them so we can chat intelligently and honestly.  If you prefer the vision of Marx and Engles then have the guts and integrity to say so and support it intelligently.  That can foment a good discussion.  But supporting that vision while trying to pretend it is something else so muddies the waters as to render a logical and meaningful debate impossible.  Or, is that what you want?

To do less reveals clearly not any manner of political or philosophical brilliance but a mind bereft of depth and displaying a paucity of cognitive ability.  Someone who, had they an ounce of shame, would make sure their name never appeared next to the shared cartoons and posts that demonstrate for all the lack of thinking and adherence to blind, slobbering partisanship unburdened by the demands of sober review and evaluation of issues that are critical to our future.

I understand that I served in the military along with all of the other veterans, in no small part to guarantee your rights to be morons.  But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy having it come back to slap me in the face.  I walk with a limp because of that service, the country therefore has a sufficiently deep meaning to me that it makes me cringe to think that people who buy into those cartoons and cutesy quotes, none of which they could originate themselves, as having attached to them even the most trivial amount of intelligence or relevance are going to the polls and voting.

With citizens like that we have scant need of outside enemies.

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Informed Citizen vs. Facebook

San Diego — Oh dear God, I am hard put to express my disgust over the level of verbal offal passing for political brilliance now increasingly posted on Facebook.  I am going on to Facebook less and less because I want to NOT read it due to the diminished respect I will have for anyone who would post it.

And upon being questioned on openly invalid assertions of quotes or taken to task for blatant lies is simply shrugged off as if the jist of it was accurate (in the eyes of the poster) so any fabrications to support that underlying truth are justified.  Let me be as clear as I can about how I feel…

In a context as important as our upcoming elections, the use of fabrications and open lies, the refusal to find the truth or the proclivity to take individual facts out of context and from that weave vast and demonic conclusions is not only the act of someone coming into a battle of wits completely UNARMED but also of someone, in my opinion, treading on the edges of treasonous activity for so damaging our system at its core as to give aid and comfort to the nations enemies. 

To be blunt, since I do not want to fire any big words over your heads, if this includes you, I think that readily accepting any third party’s scurrilous, defamatory demonization of someone trying to offer a solution to the nation’s ills, is the work of a mental midget and moral deviate; and if you read this blog post but are unable to restrain your continuingly using Facebook to post little cartoons and links to equally insipid sites, please “unfriend” me on Facebook and no longer assault my space, my eyes, or my brain with your stupid, moronic drivel and no longer insult me by implying that we are friends of any kind.

You do not have to agree with the proposed resolutions of issues by those whose major crime is belonging to the other party or at least, not yours.  Further,  if you disagree then I think you owe the country your best efforts to properly, even passionately counter them by presenting YOUR solutions for review as well.  But to lower the debate to the bumper sticker level, draw vast negative conclusions from a complete void of real data while relying on innuendo or the spin of others, is cowardly and beneath contempt for me.  Do it anonymously, please, so I do not know that I even know who you are.

Meantime I do have real friends who are interested in trying to find the truths from which to make an informed decision in the upcoming elections.  One great friend of long standing sent me this email…

——————————

David –

I have tried to gather some websites that might help me determine the truth or fiction of so much of the rhetoric being thrown around lately. Research is such a pain!!! Anyway, the below listed sites are some that I visit, and was wondering if you know anything about these, or can recommend some that would be reliable:

    www.loc.gov

    www.politifact.com

    www.factcheck.org

    www.truthorfiction.com

    www.straightdope.com

    www.factorfictionblog.com

    www.snopes.com

    www.stephenfraiser.com/blog

If any of these are not worthwhile, let me know and I’ll delete them. Any good ones that you could recommend would be appreciated. 

See, I am trying to be informed! 

Thanks, friend

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Here is my answer (with a few edits).

Like all good research over controversial topics, you will find the sources vary a little since no one is completely objective.  The specific facts are whatever they are unless someone decides to simply lie about them (which is increasingly common) but thus far I’ve not caught any of these sources in an out-and-out lie.  Nevertheless, the lack of pure objectivity shows up in a couple of subtle — sometimes not-so-sublte — ways:

  1. There is the usual ‘spin’ based on how one site or the other might attempt to “interpret” the facts to conclude one thing or another especially if the context is a little vague.  This is the most common problem.
  2. The other is in doing what is sometimes called “selective documentation” which is to tell SOME of the facts involved in the question or event, but not ALL of them.  Like taking quotes out of context or cherry picking facts, especially out of a complex multi-fact containing event, this can lead to a wide variety of interpretations and conclusions, may wrong, even though the “reporter” can say accurately that their facts are correct.

Rarely do these sites (or any of them) come to a question with a complete lack of bias.  Some of them, like Snopes, is extensive but politically quite biased (in their case, liberal).  To be fair, I’ve never found a blatant lie but have seen some selective documentation.  And, regardless of any intitial bias, if it involves some historical event they then have to do their OWN research into already biased or editorialized material unless they can quote the entire relevant sections written by eye witness authors and historians.  So you can see it is a huge problem even if you are trying very hard to be accurate.

Don’t be too hard on them.  It is impossible to fully grasp and comprehend some of the incredibly complex events of history and certainly of our modern times.  To make sense of it, we all, ALL, will tend to filter it through our own perspective and grasp on to parts that make sense and discard those that do not.  It is a natural human response to things we cannot fully deal with.  However, if, as it is here, it is important to find the truth of or behind some particular events in order to ascertain who might best represent your own positions and views for the country, then it is unfortunately incombant upon you to take the trouble to check every source possible and from every perspective available to be able to ferret out that core truth.

Often you will find it does not well support EITHER of the opposing positions and then, alas, it forces you to come to grips with it and work out other possible solutions and wonder why the candidates or legislators are not doing the same thing. Too often when a partisan runs headlong into such a complexity, they simply cherry pick the parts that fit their preconceptions and go on from their citing perhaps accurate but misleading “facts” to support their positions.

The only way to try to get a good grip on the “reality” involved is, unfortunately, to read as many of the resources as possible and compare them.  Sometimes I’ll keep a notebook handy or create a comparison table on the computer as I’m readying resources.  If they ALL recount a fact it is probably true.  But if other “facts” appear in other versions, then the interpretive fun begins.  And as noted, a “Fact” even if true, is not the end of it.

There is no reliable second hand source that can match exposure to the real event, i.e. watching the actual or replayed event or listening to the actual or recorded speech in their entirety or reading the original letters, journals, or books.  And by the time the report is third hand ( a person telling you what they heard from someone who themselves read about or even saw the event — what the legal professional calls “hearsay” and properly rejects it as evidence — all bets are off.  Too many chances for spin and interpretation have intervened.

The good news is that many such “current” or modern events are on the web somewhere and many of the old writings are also available to help. Places like U-Tube has an incredible collection of taped events and speeches.  Be aware however that in many cases these are edited by the poster.

What also helps is to know in advance through what philosophical/political filters a given resource will view events; that helps to identify the little twists and tweaks in their narrative for what they are.  What tends NEVER to be honest, objective, or accurate, is overt hyperbole and demonization.  Those are ALWAYS the tactics of speakers who have stepped out beyond their actual knowledge and understanding of a subject and will not or cannot admit it.  And it is almost always wrong except now and then by sheer coincidence.

Individuals from all sides occasionally do it so it is not a unilateral tactic.  Blind partisans don’t care and in this case and point in time that seems to better define the left.  But some on the right are not beyond it either.

As a nation, culture, and society, we are, more than ever I think, at the mercy of truly educated and informed voters and perhaps less than ever in possession of enough of them to save us.  I’m impressed, pleased and glad to count you among them but being so informed is tough work.  Even blind partisans who draw revenue as pundits for one side or the other spend all their time on it and they generally only listen to sources from their own side.  I doubt Hannity reads the Huffington Post or Daily Kos and I doubt Maddow reads the Heritage Foundation newsletters or Newsmax.  I try to at least skim all of them and watch as many of them as time permits.  Sometimes I have to turn it off because the sheer lunacy makes me ill but I do try.

To add some sport to it all, few politicians, made up mostly of lawyers, are quite as in command of the language as they would like to pretend.  They have their legalese down but regionalizations and otherwise limited vocabulary sometimes lead to slips that are unintentional as they grasp for the right word and in the heat of a speech or debate, settle on one that sounds right.

This happens to both sides and in all cases the other side will, with the help of media who generally is more in command of the language as a necessary job skill, be used as a bludgeon and hammered on as if the word used was the word intended.  With the exceptions of William Buckley on the right and, farther back, Adlai Stephenson on the left, we’ve had but rare political individuals who were able to spontaneously and unscripted or unprompted, hold forth in passionate debate without an occasional gaffe or missuse of a word.

To add to the confusion, the old true liberals on the left such as Stephenson and John Kennedy, would be tossed out of the modern left.  Remember Ronald Reagan was a Kennedy democrat and if you follow his positions honestly he never changed… what changed was the party’s platform.  By the same token, the true old conservatives would have a hard time recognizing what has happened to their party as well. It was not, for example, the democratic party but the republicans who supported civil rights in the 50s but both have changed.  It was republican THeodore Rooseveldt that really did more to champion environment issues of his day and voer the objections of his political opponents.  But times and platforms have changed and more than once.

Johnson did virtually everything Goldwater has proposed but after calling Goldwater a fanatic that would lead us to WWIII.  Geopolitically a President’s position is generally meaningless since no matter who they are they will be driven by world events not drive those events themselves though they can accelerate or decelerate them a little.  They can certainly act in such a way as to ignite wars they cannot control the other actors on the world stage no matter how sincere their desires to do so.  Just ask Carter and Obama.  THey can take advantage of openings and mistakes of other world leaders or they can let opportunities slip through their fingers but that is all utterly reactive not proactive.  It is nice but irrelevant to know what they want; what is essential is to know how they will react.  Knowing the former is easy, just listen to them.  Knowing the latter is hard since you ahve to do your homework and it has to be done accurately anf objectively.

In a way currently both are now delusional.  The hard left looks forward a world that has failed at every attempt to work and the hard right looks back fondly to a world that never existed.

With both sides coming from foundations based on political hallucinations they are both so vulnerable to guidance from vastly smarter individuals from without as to give rise to a wondrous set of “conspiracy” theories about oligarchies from illuminati and Bildergergers.  One cannot easily follow the thread of logic from either side because, in fact, there does not seem to be one.  No wonder in the midst of such confusion misspeaking is becoming an art.  Equally easy to explain is the rise of a whole new army of “useful idiots” to parrot talking points, selected quotes and actions, and draw the most inane and unlikely conclusions that will be swallowed and embraced by those other useful idiots on their side of the fence.  In a world increasingly dedicated to instant gratification, thinking and research takes to long; too many simply want to be told what to think just as they want to be handed goodies at the government trough.

The raw “facts” will always be that they said what they said. Period. The objective researcher’s tough role is then to figure out what they really meant to say and that can be done by examining the evidences of their philosophy and how rigidly it is held to on a personal basis.  But it also opens the floodgates to spin.

Sometimes words of art from the individual’s life come out and are misunderstood out of the context not just of that “speech” but of their life and history.  In a studio I tell students to use a slave to fire the mono-lights.  I’ve had a lighting director yell to the gaffer crew to “throw out the babies and bring in the broads.”  But I was referring to the optical slave units in those lights and the director was referring to different sizes of Mole-Richards lighting instruments.  Reporting on our word usage alone though could lead to some ugly conclusions.

To report honestly on those occasions would require delving into the lives of the speakers as well as the context.  It takes some doing to get to the truth.  So much so that anyone wanting to hurt either of us would assume, correctly, very few others would do, take our words, accurately but out of context, to draw conclusions about our beliefs.

I also think it important to include hearing the “other side.”  For one thing it sometimes adds important “facts” left out in the spin from one’s own side.  Those additional facts may not change a conclusion but they are another piece of armor in a debate and without them you are left speechless when hit with a unknown weapon but sense it probably is, as far as it goes, accurate.  And they may, if you are truly open and objective as opposed to one of those brain dead useful idiots, make you think differently about things.  I do not want anyone ever to vote based on my opinion alone.  I want them to do the deep research for themselves and let it take them wherever it may.  If they happen to arrive at the position I have, great, but if not I prefer them to be honest to their own research.  I don’t want them to vote based on someone ELSE’s opinion either… just their own following their own deep, insightful research.

But, in the end, comes the ultimate question and only careful and constant research and diligence will be able to answer it and fix it if necessary.  And that is this… does what they say, even if accurately reported, really matter?  Could they do what they propose even if they really wanted to without, as is currently being done, doing perhaps permanent violence to the Constitution.  And if they could would you want them to?

And while you are grappling with that answer, take out your copy of the Consitution.  If you claim a standing to vote in a federal election you of course will have one and be familiar with it since you are voting for people who swear an oath to uphold it as their first duty.  How dare you claim your right to vote when you do not intimately know the groundrules your candidate will swear to uphold?  And if they swear a sacred oath to uphold that document but do not, why would you believe you could trust their word on anything?

So open it and look for the terms “executive order” or any other means by which the executive branch can, by personal fiat, override laws made by the legislative branch or create agencies that can do the same thing. Read again the very specific powers that are enumerated for both the executive and for congress.  And then think very carefully about what YOU say in your discourse to follow and whether or not you want what the founders created. i.e. a republic run under the guidance of our existing Constitution, or would prefer a country run under some other system under the guidance of a completely different foundational document.

And then be honest about it and support your arguments as the debaters of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers did.  Otherwise, please, I beg you, shut up and stay away from the polls.  Having an opinion, especially a rehashed opinion of someone else, does not equate automatically to having an informed opinion. Facebook and the web have proven beyond doubt that an infinite number of monkeys typing away will not manage to write the great books… If we end up with a country run by individuals whose political brilliance is indicated by the posts i see on Facebook, then we are in trouble so deeply I am not sure we can ever recover.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Some Advice for The Silly Season for my Facebook(tm) “friends.”

San Diego –– Ah yes, as is exemplified by the posts on Facebook, the silly season of hysterical partisanship has arrived with a vengeance.  So here is some advice for you who simply cannot control your urges to post and repost cutesy and clever little cartoons and sound bites posing as profundity.  If you will not or cannot take the time to read the full text of the document you are supporting or trashing (for example, bills before congress or existing law or propositions, etc.) and/or if you will not take the time to listen to the complete speeches or interviews of those you support or oppose, then understand this: venomous or adoring comment  and hare-brained conclusions about them do you no credit except to equally simple minded folks in lock step with your own positions.  But they do not make your creditable, eridute, or help support your positions, instead leaving you looking stupid and silly.

When you attempt to fill in the holes of your knowledge with a narrative spun from your own fantasy and hopes as to what might be there, good or bad, then any conclusions you attempt to draw from such fatally flawed premises paints you in an intellectually impoverished light.

If you wish to support or oppose a candidate or a position or policy based on what they really stand for and have really said and meant based on the whole context, then that is what our country is all about.  Testing the truth in the crucible of serious and honest debate most often burns off the dross and leaves only the good stuff.  But slinging virulent slurs and demonization as well as fawning and genuflecting in unquestioning adulation, is something very, very different.  And very very negative as well as detrimental to our system and culture.

Perhaps more importantly than any election in a century, it is vitally important that we elect representatives based on their specified plans to deal with the economic crisis we are experiencing.  To deny its existence to support a candidate is no wiser or smarter than to make it out to be worse than it is to support another candidate.  Neither of those positions allows a perspective that is conducive to real solutions.

 Now I understand clearly that such advice will require efforts beyond the intellectual capabilities of many of my so-called friends who paste the latest “gotcha” comment without a clue as to whether it is truly representative of a position or, for that matter, ever actually happened.  For them it does not matter.  Personally it is my opinion that should disqualify them from voting since they really have no clue what they are voting about.  More realistically, it simply paints them as dolts and gullible idiots to me especially when they insist on reinforcing it with a string of equally non-contextual silliness and especially if I have actually read the document or listened to the entire speech or interview and know they either did not hear it all or else cherry picked a phrase that suited their purpose and implied that was the thrust and burden of the whole.  That is hypocritical, disingenuous, and beneath contempt.  I expected it of entrenched politicians; I expect more of anyone of my acquaintances who is a true friend.  

I have solid, long standing friends from all parts of the political spectrum and we can debate the issues based on our various philosophical views of the likely outcome of actions and behaviors and never reduce our discourse to the pathetic level of labels, name-calling, personalities, or bumper-sticker levels of intellectual prowess.

 Because I was willing to answer my country’s call even when I disagreed with her policies, I walk with a limp and am recovering from more surgery for injuries stemming from those times and events.  I believe I fought for, and others died for, each citizen’s right to be a moron if they chose.  There is, unfortunately, no civics testing for the privilege of voting though I wish there were.  But if you are going to do that type of continual idiotic posting then please be aware that you are just supporting, embracing, facilitating, and perhaps perpetuating the level of idiocy you probably decry.

 But know this: I’m not impressed and I believe that in the end it is YOU that are the problem and the reason for the decline of our culture and society.   

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Hate is Hate… No Matter Who is Hating and Who is Being Hated

San Diego — In the last post I mentioned how Limbaugh had stupidly given the Obama people the red herring they needed to turn the discussion away from a question of governmental authority over private matters to the entirely bogus issue of health care and the completely fabricated idea of a war on women and women’s health.  Not that real and pressing issues of women’s health are bogus; to the contrary they are real and need to be front and center in our discussions.

But in this case, it is the insertion or spin of a very different issue trying to turn the discussion away from the real problem (whether or not government has the authority to tell ANYONE much less religious institutions that they must buy or contribute to purchasing things or services which they deem morally reprehensible) into one of women’s health that is bogus.  And only a day or two after what should have been the quickly forgotten event of a young woman being brought in front of congress to argue that we, the people, should contribute to paying for her (or anyone else’s) promiscuity, thanks to a talk show host’s thoughtless diatribe, the issue has, sure enough, taken on a new and completely spurious face.

Oh come on, this is not the same thing or the same issue as when a doctor prescribes medicine for a true medical condition that just happens to also be used as a contraception.  Title X, a currently existing law, mandates that such medications for such medical conditions be provided by insurance.  And even if it did not, those medications are available at virtually ANY Planned Parenthood for about $10 per month’s prescription.  So it cannot be argued honestly that women are currently in such a state that they cannot either get insurance coverage for medicines needed for medical issues or that even to facilitate sex the medicine cannot be obtained readily and inexpensively.

So why the flap?  Because Obama desperately needs it.  His economic record is pathetic and his ability to lie about it is becoming more and more obvious.  In the face of CBO numbers just released, he went public with a retelling of those numbers that bore no relationship to the government’s own figures.  His disciples, of course, listen only to him and probably never even hear the other side so he gets away with it and keeps his fawning followers.  But for the rest of us, he needs issues that resonate with the normal folks and this new take, a perspective of women’s health, is about as perfect as one can get.

But surely, you might say if you are one that actually reads and hears all sides, no one could be falling for this?  And surely in the day and age of extraordinarily foul mouthed so-called humorists, spewing scatological and gynological “jokes” using the ugliest and most hurtful of terms on a daily basis, some of whom purposefully direct such insults at women simply because they disagree with their political philosophies, no one would really get upset over a slur as innocuous as to call someone a “slut,” you might say.  And to call them a prostitute?  Good grief, it is legal in some places, common in all others, the name of the game in congress where selling virtue for profit is a near mandate, and a name so meaningless it is sometimes even applied to artists who have the nerve to want to sell their work by others who seem unable to sell theirs.  It is a word that has long ago lost its sting.

Unless…

Unless one of those demon conservatives does it to a liberal.  You will note that ALL of the so-called humorists calling politically active women demeaning, denigrating names are liberals aiming at conservatives.  And they suffer not a peep of blowback for it.  But when a conservative, lowering himself to the same stupid level that liberals adopt as their signature stance, does the same thing… wow…Armageddon has just been unleashed.

Don’t think so?  Let me copy you in on a conversation (so-called) on Facebook.  Now I have a truly love-hate relationship with Facebook.  It is sometimes an easy way to keep up on what some of my real friends are doing.  But it is also the host to some of the most infantile, inane, self-indulgent material in the universe.  And now that we are in the silly season of a presidential election and I am “friended” mostly by people inhabiting academia, the avoidance of reflective thinking is readily on display.  Here indeed are the people Arthur C. Clarke described in Academia as individuals, “…whose education has surpassed their intellects.”

They are sometimes monumentally narrow minded and unreceptive to any thoughts not bearing the liberal-progressive stamp of approval.  Immediately they picked up on the drum beat against Limbaugh in post after post after post all using the same rhetoric having obviously had their thoughts formed for them by the same sources.

I had planned on doing what I have always done: shake my head at the display of well honed, perhaps nearly perfected blindness to any ideas except those pre-approved by the party inquisitors, but the rampant hypocrisy was simply more than I could quietly bear.

So here is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.  It started as usual, with one of them “sharing” some ugly screed that was supposed to indicate wit and insight via the shorthand of denigrating and demeaning epithets.  And then the ‘shared’ post was joined in with comments from the poster and friends…

JTThis buffoon [talking about Limbaugh – dk] just doesn’t know when or how to keep his mouth shut and stop the string of non-stop profoundly offensive utterances even in a supposed apology. I cannot believe to find out who used to advertise (AOL, Sleep Train, Quicken Loans, Legal Zoom…) on his network show.

Regardless of pulling their ads, these panderers to his poison should be boycotted for supporting him in the first place.

Now here is an early hint to the author’s perspective.  The views expressed that ran counter to the poster’s own views were ‘profoundly offensive’ and consisted of ‘poison’ and any business who believed in allowing speech of the other side to exist (as opposed to “free speech which means speech from the liberal side), should be boycotted.

TS — I think this guy needs to engage his brain and its filter before he opens his mouth…

JT — What brain?…i think the years of prescription drug abuse have numbed whatever decency he may have ever had, if any.

Of course had this been Alan Colmes or Al Franken or Jon Stewart or some other liberal talk show host, those years of pain medication for a back problem would have been wonderful, shown the need for socialized medicine so that they would not have had to resort to extra legal means of obtaining them, and in any case, freeing them from the pain would have probably been seen as sharpening their wit.  So it is amazing to note the apparently liberal medical opinion that pain medication effects conservatives differently and negatively. Don’t think so?  Go back and read about JFK or even FDR and the wonders of medication that helped control their pain.

But then it got even more off the rails.

JP — I can’t believe that Americans have let him come this far! Any of the candidates…I really wanna move to a more progressive country somewhere in Europe. It’s ridiculous how rights such as marriage, birth control, even breast feeding in public are questioned.

It was at this point that after following this thread and several others parroting the same talking points with various degrees of coherency, I simply had heard enough and decided to jump in.  I was curious as to how sincere their apparent indignation over a general use of such hateful language really was and the easy way to test that was to see if that indignation was widely applied or only selectively.

David KingYou know I agree with you on this JT, what he said was uncalled for, inappropriate and intolerable. But when Bill Maher called one conservative woman a c**t and another a t**t, [words studies have shown virtually every woman finds deeply offensive – DK] or when Ed Schultze called several of them sluts, I don’t recall hearing a peep of indignation about it.  When Olberman goes off his meds and calls conservative women a slut or, my favorite, a “mashed up bag of meat with lipstick” that is apparently just dandy. How come?

 Or is it that it is quite OK to slander women with whom you disagree but inexcusable to hear a slander toward one with whom you do agree? I just want to get this straight so I’ll know how to react and how to interpret reactions in the future…

Am I to understand that according to liberal ethics, women can be separated and categorized as to who can be disparaged in the foulest of language and who cannot based primarily on their political orientation?

This elicited an almost immediate response from another reader…

JG — Sarah Palin is a dumb twat. Maher hit that one on the head.

 Yes, I know, that instantly made my case for me but I could not resist commenting even though now it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

David KingThank you JG; in the classiest of language and the most erudite, deeply analytical, and profoundly insightful exhibition of intellectual engagement, you just answered my question… along with a few unasked ones. It brings to mind an old cliche about mutually accusatory communications between pots and kettles. You have admirable demonstrated that they are both right. Thanks again!

I confess I thought the irony expressed would jolt him into realizing how he had sounded.  But I was wrong — and pointedly so — as shown by his response.

JG — Glad I could answer all your questions by merely stating the obvious.

Now here was someone coming into a battle of wits completely unarmed and shielded only by the cleverness existing only in their own mind. Napolean said that when an opposing general seemed bent on their own destruction the thing to do was get out of their way.   But for some of the other readers who might have missed the real point I decided perhaps if I restated it that would help.  After all, who, with half a brain and a shred of ethics, is really going to support the type of discourse I was attacking?  Maybe if I helped them by giving a clearer, stronger example of what I believed was the “high road” they would see it and try to get on it before they all looked somewhat less than erudite.  So I tried again.

David KingIn my opinion, a world in which pretending to demonstrate wit or insight by using foul, personal, ugly invective, much less using hurtful, demeaning, denigrating words to describe anyone based on philosophical disagreement, but especially women, is “obvious,” is a sleaze ridden world of galactic level hypocrisy and not in a position to cast stones at anyone for pretty much anything.

It was stupid and unacceptable when Limbaugh did it, but it is no less so when some opponent of his does it.  If that is the disgusting level of civil discourse appropriate on one side of the debate then I am only too happy to be on the other side.   And I will happily excoriate them as well if they lower themselves to the level of the crass side as Limbaugh moronically did here. That is language and a level of intelligence best reserved for Maher’s side where they can do it with impunity apparently because insufficient ethics can be found in the whole collective to call such behavior into account. And, I admit, you are correct… that does seem to be obvious.

It turns out however that I was overestimating the audience…  And at the same time I was underestimating their devotion to ignoring the bigger issue and high centering on their own side.

JT — Whoa….Flame Wars…back to potty mouth Rush…did you actually listen to his entire rant…he thinks she needs so much sex for her birth control pills she should post videos of her sex acts on YouTube in return for Obama Care contraception!

Do any conservatives actually aligns themselves with this sort of crazy talk…it’s sad that political discourse has degraded into a “Lucha Libre” style of performance ideology porn.

Clearly I was not getting through.  So, now a touch frustrated, once again I restated…

David KingWithout resorting to sophomoric, immature, illiterate monosyllabic “potty mouth” rhetoric to match his, I think I’ve been pretty clear that I think what Limbaugh said was inexcusable, stupid, and open for condemnation.  I have no interest in defending or trying to excuse that sort of discourse from him.  What appears to be different about my position is that I do not believe it excusable when ANYone does it; and yet it appears that some believe it is OK when those on their side do it but not OK when those on the side opposing them do it.  I think that is hypocrisy gone to seed; I don’t think it is OK when ANYONE does it.

I also think Limbaugh was stupid to do it because he should have realized what a gift it was to the other side to allow them, based on his lapse of brain activity, to move the discussion off of the limits of governmental power and into the arena of women’s health care and if he had half of the intellect he claims for himself he would not have provided that barn-door-sized opening for them to toss out such a monumental red herring and take the discussion far away from any real issues that might be at play.

 So I think he was stupid on so many different levels it is mind boggling. But neither his stupidity nor his crass insensitivity excuse equally, perhaps even more egregious behavior coming from the other side. Two wrongs never equal a right. At least not to me, not ever.

 Perhaps that is OK for you but I think this discussion is important because it goes to the very core of who we, the people who will be deciding the outcome of the election, are. It reveals clearly, “obviously” to use James’s term, what the values and what the degree of analysis and insight is going into decisions by those on the various sides and I think that is worth letting this social community see for themselves.

 By now this thread is so far down the page of posts it takes longer to scroll down to find it than it does to read or respond and it appears settled that the individuals who follow that particular set of “friends” are sufficiently indoctrinated in their views they can admit of no other.   Not a single person had a positive thing to say on the side of seeking greater civility in this debate.  No one was bothered that the social community, in that case, Facebook, could see by their responses where they stood and so they are apparently OK with it. I am truly saddened by that.

Then it occurred to me (some trains run late…) Does this not seem like a replay of the exchange of the past few posts? This can accomplish nothing and go nowhere productive.  So my remaining question is simple:  JT asked if any conservative allied themselves with such language as spoken by Limbaugh re the female law student.  The unfortunate and ugly truth is that I’m sure there are some that do.  But I’m not one of them and have said so both here and elsewhere about as clearly as I know how.  And I believe I am representative of the majority of people whose political, ethical, and moral views are in the same ball park as mine.

But how about the reverse, do liberals, or to be more specific, do you, if you are liberal, ally yourself with the use of such language and think it is OK when aimed at women so long as they are on the other side of the political fence from you?

And if so, please tell me how is it exactly that this elevates the level of political debate and delves into the complex issues facing our country and our world to better prepare us to make reasonable and rational decisions for ourselves as to what directions we ought to be taking?  How does hiding behind labels of any kind, much less this kind, help us to understand the world around us?  Or is that not the objective in the first place and it is rather to simply get you to see the opposition not for what they really believe but simply as the demonizedm, dehumanized enemy to be defeated at all costs?  And even then, given the nature of the political arena at the federal level, what does being a slut or any of those other ugly female degrading terms have to do with their positions and likely votes?  Where is the tie in between label and reality?

When I checked again this morning for any replies, I was hoping that I might have stirred up someone somewhere who realized that ugliness and hate speech should not be OK for either side.  Someone holding true to their liberal philosophies but disclaiming any connection with this type of speech whether uttered by the other side or their side.  But there were none so I assume the exchange is over. A non-answer is itself an answer.  That conclusion so saddened me by what it revealed that I ended my interaction with that Facebook post with this last additional comment.  And with it I will end this blog post as well.

David King — A day has gone by without comment.   Hmmmm.  I confess I thought at least one person, perhaps a woman, might have joined in and said something even to the effect of, “David, I disagree completely with your apparent political view but have to agree that using words like that to demean, belittle, dehumanize and denigrate women are not acceptable, no matter who is doing it.”  But since such a post was never made I have to assume that my initial assertion is correct. 

Blind partisanship is so thoroughly ingrained here that evil is defined as “them” and therefore demonized they are fair game for any form of invective, and since “good” is defined as “us” any such invective hurled our way is, by definition, some form of poison and a sacriledge to our political faith.  But it is precisely that blind “us vs them” attitude that allows for the bigotry you rightly oppose on other issues, it facilitates and perpetuates hate and hate, unfortunately, has no compass; it spews forth in all directions because its real source is internal. 

Many of you know that first hand, many have felt the sting of hatred aimed at you based not on who you are or what kind of person you are but on some single, totally irrelevant characteristic.  It hurts doesn’t it.  It is infuriating and unfair. There is no excuse for it being applied to you and you know it. 

But by the same token there is no excuse for you to apply it, even by implication, to someone else simply because they may have a different view for how the country needs to be headed.  You know that one can like or dislike some single thing a person does without that effecting your overall appraisal of them; any parent knows this effect as does any lover. 

Even intelligent people sometimes do stupid things.  That is the unfortunate byproduct of being human.  But you should be rearing up and shouting out that while it is fair to call one out for stupid things whether friend or foe, it is fair and reasonable to engage in passionate but civil debate over important topics, there is no legitimate reason to let that devolve into hatred based on some single characteristic or belief. 

That no one has written that here, indeed that one of the comments even repeated one of the more hateful labels one can make to a women, is not a sign of simple insensitivity, it is not cute, it is not clever, it is not funny… it is a sign of hatred.  For letting it go unchallenged, some of you, at least those claiming to have a brain and some shred of ethical sensitivities, ought to be ashamed of yourselves. 

I now have the answers I sought so will plague you no more and you can go back to your world of hate-filled invective and I now know how to interpret it and react to it.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Evolving Egyptian “Revolution:” Naivete Gone to Seed

San Diego – We were all told that the “revolution” in Egypt was what Democracy should look like and that it would lead to a proper democracy where the rights of the people, human rights, political rights, freedom, were in the forefront of this twitter and facebook led event.  And I was bashed and flamed a bit because I said that view was factually inaccurate, politically naive, historically ignorant, and an expression of terminal wishful thinking.  There is no point to rehashing my arguments, you can look at them in the older posts on Egypt and then Libya.  But let’s look at what this wonderful Facebook democracy is beginning to look like, shall we, and to make it more real to you we’ll use only information gathered from that bastion of accurate and fair reporting (if you never do your own fact checking, that is) the New York Times.

  • The now ruling army counsel is planning on how to prohibit and stop all future protests and sit-ins.
  • There is now evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood (who was claimed as small, secular, and completely national in outlook) has brokered a deal with the army to expedite elections.  Why?  Because the MB is the only group sufficiently organized to win an election and know how to run a state to their satisfaction.  And they are already helping the military to crack down on suspected anti-muslim behavior.  This from a group we were told hated the military and vice-versa.
  • Women who were protesting were arrested and the non-married women were stripped and checked to prove their virginity (and therefore given a ticket to live a bit longer) by the demoocratic and humane MB.
  • MB has renewed its calls for an Islamic State.
  • MB has openly stated the first order of business will be in canceling the peace treaty with Israel.

Wow, that is going pretty well, don’t you think?  Why was this not seen coming by all of you who said I was way off base?  There are very few alternative explanations.  (1) The NYT could be lying but since this contradicts their own earlier stance I doubt it.  (2) THe first analysis was based on virtually ZERO data since facts are not needed when ideology can supply an answer.  I vote for #2.

It seems that some on the deep left are desperate to finally see ONE social/governmental experiment following in the warm and fuzzy tradition of Godwin, Rousseau, Marx, that will actually lead to the utopia they claim will happen if only given a chance.  That it has not happened in the history of the world bothers them not a bit.  Unfortunately it forces them to embrace events based on seeing the world through ideological blinders rather than based on history, facts, and human nature.  That would simply be funny to watch were it not a time in the world when stability is fragile, and our own country is at a major low point economically and in terms of geopolitical respect.   And since it is a view shared by the administration, it leaves us open to pursuing courses of action based in virtually no part on the realities of the situation.

These are truly frightening times!  If we don’t start seeing the world as it is not as we want it to be, and getting ourselves a leader who is, well, a leader, then we are really in deep trouble.

 

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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