Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

1/29/2005

Who's to blame?

Normally I find Kos to be sort of toolish, but with this post he's dead on:

Glenn Reynolds joins a long list of 101st Fighting Keyboarders who, rather than question the bullshit rationales for war, and rather than question the incompetent waging of the war by this administration, would rather lash out at the "Left" for calling bullshit what it is.

Expect more of this. This war is long past lost. Time to pack it in, and save the lives of our men and women in uniform that will otherwise face a barrage of bullets and RPG rounds during their extended stay in the desert.

In the feverish minds of the war apologists, it doesn't matter that no WMDs were found, that torture chambers are still open for business, that this war is now rivaling Saddam's brutality for sheer number of Iraqis killed ... that most of Iraq is not under government control, that terrorists are now using the lawlessness in Iraq to recruit and train a whole new generation of terrorists ... that the world hates the United States ... that tens of thousands of our soldiers are coming home physically and mentally maimed.

None of that matters to them.

But they see the war getting out of hand. They've see our chances of victory go from little to nothing. And they've got to blame someone. Anyone. And of course, it can't be Saint George, because he's perfect and can do no wrong. So blame Kennedy. Blame Boxer. Blame France. Blame Canada. Blame anti-war bloggers. Because it is they who have botched up the Iraqi campaign to the point of no hope. If it wasn't for them, our troops would still be basking in a flood of rose petals.


The full entry is here.


More right-wing delusions

The gap between the way the Right believes the world to be and the way the world actually is continues to widen. Instapundit illustrates just how far removed he is from reality in his response to an email from a reader, a supposed "lefty" who writes:
You rightly point out that we liberals must do our best to shout down, disassociate ourselves, do everything we can to make ourselves no longer the party of Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, et al.

...

You've got a big pulpit. Help show us Dems how to make a party that's sane.
Insta's response:

I confess that I don't know how to save the Dems. I think that the "silent majority" -- those genuine moderate Democrats/Liberals that I keep hearing about, but don't hear a lot from on the national stage -- needs to realize the damage that the kooks do -- as the Republicans figured out -- and quit regarding extremism as evidence of "commitment" or "passion."

...

The alternative is for the Democratic party to get smaller as it gets angrier, and angrier as it gets smaller, until it just doesn't matter anymore. At some point the Republican Party will then likely split into a social-conservative wing and a libertarian wing, and I can join the latter, I guess. I'm not ready to call the Democrats the new Whigs, but it's not impossible for me to imagine.

I would like to know two things. First of all, I would like conservatives to offer me some examples of Democratic Party platforms are policies that they find so extreme and "kooky". Not something Michael Moore said, not some ridiculous lies about Noam Chomsky supporting the USSR (I'm looking at you, Andrew Sullivan). Actual positions taken by the actual Democratic Party.

When they are done answering that question, they can begin to explain how, exactly, they take the results of the Nov. 2 election as an indication that the Democratic party is getting smaller and smaller, on its way to complete electoral irrelevance, to being the new Whigs. Bush was re-elected with 51% of the vote to Kerry's 48%, the smallest margin of victory for an incumbent president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

I didn't hear anyone talking about the Republicans turning into the new Whigs after Clinton won re-election in 1996. I don't even remember anyone saying that about the Democrats after Mondale lost every state (save Minnesota) in '84.* So again: what evidence to the right-wingers have for the imminent irrelevance of the Democratic party?

Sounds like wishful thinking to me. Democrats would be well-advised not to listen to any of the Right's "advice" for saving their party.






* I don't remember off the top of my head. It is possible, of course, that this idea was suggested at the time. If so, it would be an even stronger indication of the foolishness of Instapundit's comment, as obviously the Democratic Party did not fade into the irrelevance of permanent minority status even after Mondale's crushing loss.

Sullivan: 199 murders = success!

Andrew Sullivan details the conditions that must be met if the Iraq elections are to be considered a success.

1/28/2005

Damn nice conservatives

Why is it that every time I actually engage in a conversation with a conservative, he/she always ends up coming across as a pretty decent person? Don't they realize that this inhibits my attempts to demonize them?

Earlier, I accused Anal /Conservative Philosopher Keith Burgess-Jackson of being high from smoking some sort of drug, and of being an asshole for putting his degrees (J.D., Ph.D.) after his name.

Then, I go and comment on the post in question, and the guy actually ends up being polite and reasonable! The bastard.

So I guess I have to take back what I said. He's probably not high, or at least not on crack or anything like that (I mean, for all I know he could be toking some ganj, but that's nothing to be ashamed of), and I guess he's not an asshole either.

Dammit! I'm losing my edge.

If this keeps up, I don't know how I will sustain the heretofore shrill, hysterical tone of this blog.

I still think it's kinda pretentious to put your degree letters after your name, though. Although, I guess if you spend God knows how many years (and/or how much money) getting those degrees, you might be warranted in wanting to show them off.

Shit! I must stop all this ... civility, before it's too late.

Boycott Proctor and Gamble

This whole issue is sad.

Libertarian Girl wonders about the morality of the recently-announced acquisition of Gillette by Proctor and Gamble:
This big deal raises two questions. (1) Is the deal good for shareholders? (2) Is the deal good for society?

I couldn't exactly make out what her answer to (1) is, but she answers (2) in surprisingly leftish fashion:
The theoretical synergy behind the deal is to increase the combined company's bargaining power with respect to its customers. This is a motivation that's not in the best interests of society because it's merely a zero sum game. The new company wins at the expense of its customers ... Society is harmed.

Wow! Maybe Lib Girl is coming around! Unless, that is, she's already "been around", as the Salty Pig declares, calling her "a numbskull who espouses shallow, leftist dogma under a libertarian umbrella". Salty pig does, however, seem to have a soft spot for Lib Girl:
i confess to being fascinated by "Libertarian Girl" ... she's very cute. gorgeous, full lips. nice face and eyes. looks fit.

Being a piece of sculpture, and not a horny (nor salty) pig, I do not have similar lustful urges towards Libertarian Girl. I have no biological urges whatsoever. But I must confess, it is more difficult for me to work up a good fit of hatred toward her like I used to. To paraphrase Johnny Depp, she is kind of like a dumb puppy. Every once in a while, you have to smack her in the nose with a rolled-up magazine, but you do it without heat, and even with maybe a bit of affection.

Anyway, she might be right about the P & G buyout of Gillette. My concerns with this move lie in a different area. Gillette, finally, under pressure from animal-rights organizations, had stopped doing animal testing. P & G, however, is one of the worst offenders in this area. Truly an evil company. So add Gillette back to the list of products not to buy.

What the hell is Keith Burgess-Jackson smoking?

Anal/Conservative "Philosopher" Keith Burgess-Jackson, J.D., Ph.D. (which is how he displays his name, so you know he's an asshole) takes issue with Paul Krugman's latest column, completely misrepresenting it in the process. Burgess-Jackson, J.D., Ph.D. writes:

Any philosopher will tell you that there can be more than one rationale (justification) for a given action or policy. An act of promise-keeping, for example, can be justified on both consequentialist and deontological grounds—because of the kind of act it is and because of its consequences. So why does Paul Krugman consider it morally problematic for President Bush to have—and assert—more than one rationale for Social Security reform?

So, the Krugman column is about how bad it is for Bush to offer multiple rationalizations for his Social Security "reform", right? Nope. Krugman makes exactly one reference to the mulitplicity issue:

Social Security privatization really is like tax cuts, or the Iraq war: the administration keeps on coming up with new rationales, but the plan remains the same. President Bush's claim that we must privatize Social Security to avert an imminent crisis has evidently fallen flat. So now he's playing the race card.

Krugman then uses the rest of the column to make a detailed refutation of the rationale in question -- i.e., that Social Security as it is is somehow unfair to African-Americans. Nowhere does Krugman assert that it is "morally problematic" for Bush to offer more than one rationale for his plan.

To the extent that the above quote implies a criticism of Bush for using multiple rationales, it does so in light of the further implication that, as with the Iraq war, none of the offered reasons for his plan is truly the motivation behind it.

Which in and of itself doesn't mean the plan is bad; the motivation would be irrelevant, if the reasons given to the public really were convincing. However, as Krugman's column demonstrates, the "unfair to blacks" reason won't fly, and neither has the "social security is in crisis" reason. What we have is clearly an administration that decides what it wants to do and then flails about trying to find a rationale.

If Burgess-Jackson, J.D., Ph.D is going to criticize Krugman, he should do it in an intellectually honest way.


UPDATE: Sigh. I am forced to retract these comments somewhat. See here for details.

Maybe right-wingers aren't all bad

Finally, a right-wing idea I can get on board with. From Max at In Hoc Signo Vinces:

Handguns -- don't tend your store without one

Handguns continue to even the odds. Earlier this month you read about Ngoc Le, the Camden shopkeeper who gunned down a local rapist who was accosting his wife. This week, citizens in Georgia and Texas used their guns to defend themselves and get more scumbags off the street.


Yes, people! Arm yourselves! Be ready to defend yourself and your family. Don't count on someone else to do it, because no one will.

Well, you can always call the police. They'll do a good job cleaning your brains off the floor.

Or, you can just shoot the bastard in the head. Bang! -- one less lowlife! And a fucking cool story to tell the grandkids.

1/27/2005

Does the CIA blog?

Jeff Jarvis and Instashitforbrains are in a tizzy over the comments made by "rabid liberal Eric Alterman" speculating that pro-American "Iraqi" bloggers might very well be the U.S.'s own intelligence agents. (Yes, that's the same "rabid liberal" Eric Alterman who once said "it’s kind of pathetic that so many people on the left become so tied into hero worship—Nader, Dean, Chomsky, (and dare I say it, Stalin)". What an incredible asshole.)

Jarvis:

I told Alterman on the air that that was irresponsible and dangerous. I said he had not one shred of evidence or reporting or fact to back up his speculation. I said that he could end up getting these men, whom I've met and whom I know, harmed.

That's responsible journalism? Not in any universe I know. That's the worst of tabloid, tin-hat, anti-intellectual, ammoral rumor-mongering. That's Eric, the rumor monger.

and Instaunholydischargefromsatansass:

JEFF JARVIS GIVES ERIC ALTERMAN BOTH BARRELS for speculating that pro-American Iraqi bloggers must be CIA plants.

Of course, Jeff's double-barrel assault is figurative; if Eric's irresponsible comments inspire one, it will be literal.

Now, I'm not entirely clear on how, exactly, Alterman's speculation is "dangerous", or how it could get somebody hurt, exactly.

But more importantly, I'm not sure why his speculation is so outlandish. Blogging is basically an anonymous venture; you can make your identity known (as I have), but just like in a chat room, there's really no way to be sure that you're telling the truth. So far all we know, a supposed Iraqi blogger could be some 17-year-old kid from Florida. We don't have any particular reason to suppose this is the case (except for what is apparently an over-representation of pro-American sentiment; but then again anybody in Iraq with an internet connection ain't doing too bad under the occupation), but there's nothing wrong with engaging in pure speculation, as I assume Alterman was doing.

(I like to engage in pure speculation from time to time myself. For instance, I speculate that at this very moment, Instadingleberry is feasting on a meal of live puppies. It just seems like the kind of thing he would do.)

Just to reiterate, Eric Alterman is a giant, giant tool. I mean, really, the guy is just an enormous prick. I mean, just look at him.


1/26/2005

Let's get metaphysical

Via The Raving Atheist, Steve Esser has an interesting post on the theistic consequences of a panexperientialist metaphysic. A lot of good stuff there, but I thought this point was particularly important:
most atheists ... subscribe to a false worldview in thinking the universe is a machine made of inert matter moving without purpose in space and time.

Materialism is a theory whose sell-by date is long past. And it is very important to understand that a rejection of materialism in no way entails an acceptance of theism or any religious tradition. One of the most prominent philosophers today, David Chalmers (who also has a significant presence on the web) is a basically atheistic non-materialist.

If there is any doubt that atheism and anti-materialism are perfectly compatible, note that perhaps the best argument against materialism comes from Nietzsche:

"Science" as a prejudice.—It follows from the laws of the order of rank that scholars, insofar as they belong to the spiritual middle class, can never catch sight of the really great problems and question marks; moreover, their courage and their eyes simply do not reach that far …

It is no different with the faith with which so many materialist natural scientists rest content nowadays, the faith in a world that is supposed to have its equivalent and its measure in human thought and human valuations—a "world of truth" that can be mastered completely and forever with the aid of our square little reason. What? Do we really want to permit existence to be degraded for us like this—reduced to a mere exercise for a calculator and an indoor diversion for mathematicians? Above all, one should not wish to divest existence of its rich ambiguity; that is a dictate of good taste, gentlemen, the taste of reverence for everything that lies beyond your horizon. That the only justifiable interpretation of the world should be one in which you are justified because one can continue to work and do research scientifically in your sense (you really mean, mechanistically?)—an interpretation that permits counting, calculating, weighing, seeing, and touching, and nothing more—that is a crudity and naiveté, assuming that it is not a mental illness, an idiocy.

Would it not be rather probably that, conversely, precisely the most superficial and external aspect of existence—what is most apparent, its skin and sensualization—would be grasped first—and might even be the only thing that allowed itself to be grasped? A "scientific" interpretation of the world, as you understand it, might therefore still be one of the most stupid of all possible interpretations of the world, meaning that it would be one of the poorest in meaning. This thought is intended for the ears and consciences of our mechanists who nowadays like to pass as philosophers and insist that mechanics is the doctrine of the first and last laws on which all existence must be based as on a ground floor. But an essentially mechanical world would be an essentially meaningless world. Assuming that one estimated the value of a piece of music according to how much of it could be counted, calculated, and expressed in formulas: how absurd would such a "scientific" estimation of music be! What would one have comprehended, understood, grasped of it? Nothing, really nothing of what is "music" in it!

from The Gay Science (373)


1/25/2005

A conservative philosopher is no philosopher at all

Analphilosopher has created a new team-blog called The Conservative Philosopher.

Do I need to pause to let the lunacy of that phrase sink in?

No conservative is a true philosopher.

Conservatism stands for everything that philosophy (and art, for that matter) should stand against.

The Philosopher questions and disobeys authority; the Conservative respects the right of those in charge to tell him what to do.

The Philosopher believes in the urgent necessity of radical reform; the Conservative is more or less happy with the way things are going.

The Philosopher believes it his duty to think critically and rationally about all matters; the Conservative prefers to defer to authority, tradition, or prejudice.

The Philosopher wants to educate and improve the lot of all humanity; the Conservative wishes to confine the spoils of civilization to the realm of a privileged elite.

The Philosopher views the State, if legitimate at all, as the servant of the people; the Conservative sees the State as master.

The Philosopher abhors war; the Conservative revels in it.


This new blog is an insult to all those who love philosophy and do not wish to see its honorable name besmirched by association with quasi-fascists that constitute the Conservative Right.

Conservatism is the worst kind of stupidity--the kind that embraces and celebrates its own stupidness. How dare they try to pass their foolishness off as genuine philosophy?


Dirty tricks work both ways

Conservatives find the taste of their own medicine quite unpleasant, apparently.

Plus de merde!!!!

Via Max:

This is kind of old, but on OrangePhilosophy, they are asking--and answering--the big questions, including the classic dilemma:
If you had to choose, would you rather eat poo-flavored-chocolate or chocolate-flavored-poo?

I don't quite understand the "irony" disclaimer, though. Is the implication that this is not a serious and important question? If so, they could not be more mistaken.

1/24/2005

America the not-so-great?

Is America really "the best country in the world", as so many people mindlessly repeat? I've never really understood what that was supposed to mean -- best by what measure, exactly? Rorschach offers some data that might cast doubt upon the status of the U.S. as top dog. Highlights include:
• The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).
• The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
• The World Health Organization "ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was] ... 37th." In the fairness of health care, we're 54th.

And my personal favorite:

• Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That's six times the number of people killed on 9/11.)

(Tell me again why "fighting terrorism" is such a priority?)

These are important facts to recognize. The myth of American exceptionalism is a very dangerous one, and provides cover for whatever brutality U.S. leaders wish to engage in. The truth about the invasion of Iraq --that it was, without question, a war crime-- will never be heard in the mainstream U.S. press, not because of any grand conspiracy, but because it conflicts with what for so many is an axiomatic belief: that the U.S. is a force for good in the world, indeed is a blessing bestowed upon the world by the Almighty. Unfortunately, like so many other axiomatic beliefs, this is false.

Sinclair Lewis said, "Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know she is better than every other country." Well, maybe it's time to start paying a little less attention to our hearts and a little more to our heads. People are dying because of our unwillingness to look at the actions of the U.S. government objectively, rationally, intellectually. Until we abandon the childish notion of the U.S. as the "good guy" nation of the world, its leaders will continue to do evil in the name of the American people. And the people will continue to be ignorant of the true nature of military adventures like the invasion of Iraq, so long as they are cloaked in the rhetoric of democracy, freedom, and Americanism.

Merde Bush!!

Eschatonian Attaturk, on his blog Rising Hegemon, suggests a unique demonstration of dissent against the Bush junta.

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