Rant of the Week

HuffPo’s Jason Linkins puts the Smack-o-Matic 3000 with optional Sarcasm Boost. I had to share with you all.

Stupid statement:

Via Media Monitor LaRay B., comes video of a segment between Phil Musser and Lawrence O’Donnell, hosted by Norah O’Donnell on MSNBC. The discussion centered on the torture memos, with Lawrence O’Donnell explaining how the pursuit of al Qaeda-Iraq links is a classic example of the sorts of fallacies that underpin the logic of those who think torture is effective. Musser, for his part, defended the leadership and judgment of Dick Cheney. And then, Musser’s line of thought veered very sharply into the scarily phrenological.


MUSSER: The bottom line is he’s a guy that I watched up close in action and I have great respect for his judgment and wisdom in this regard. And having seen the face of terror, you know I’ve walked through Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay when I was serving in the government, and it changes your nature of the threat to look at the people an the other sides of those fences.

Masterful takedown:

My question is this: while Phil Musser was wandering around Camp Zero, just gazing at folks with his super-powered Eyeballs of Guilt Discernment, why didn’t he stand up, right then and there, and demand that the five prisoners of Uighur descent, who the Pentagon says are a threat to no one, be released? Why couldn’t he have trained his all-knowing Peepers of Justice on Abassin Roshan, who was mistakenly placed into U.S. custody in Afghanstan, and insist that he be let go? CBS News even reports that there is a ninety year old man imprisoned there! I don’t need Musser’s magical goddamn powers to know that is plainly ridiculous.

Smackdown of an absolute ass, scathing indictment of our indefinite detentions, all in one short paragraph. Outstanding.

Oh, and Lawrence O’Donnell got in a good whack himself:

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: I think we just got a real window into the Bush administration’s view of how to approach these problems. Just by walking through Guantanamo bay and looking at prisoners, I could tell! And we didn’t get a full answer to what you could tell. But that is very similar to President Bush saying I looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw an honest man that I could deal with.

The best response Musser could muster? “That’s not fair.”

That, my friends, is the pathetic whine of someone who just got his ass soundly beaten.

The Necessity of Knowledge

It’s cliché time at the cantina, my darlings, because I want to talk about a simple truth: knowledge is power.

In observing politics and religion, you soon notice a distinct abundance of stupidity. And I call it stupidity, not ignorance, because refusing knowledge is stupid. Everyone at times refuses knowledge, but some people raise it to an art form. It’s a constant in their lives. They can’t be bothered to think.

I thought of it watching the teabaggers get manipulated by the corporate lobbyists. These people were tools, and they were too stupid to realize it. It’s not that they were ignorant of what was going on – the information was out there in abundance. They had it in their own hands.

There’s a tradition in religion and conservatism that says, “Don’t question authority. Trust received pronouncements.” Therefore, you get people who can be told that Obama’s leading the country into socialism. They know this not because they’ve seen evidence, not because they know what socialism is, but because they’ve been told Obama’s a socialist, socialism is bad, and therefore Obama is bad:


A little bit of knowledge would’ve gone a long way, there. Knowing what these social programs are, how they can work, and why being a selfish stupid git isn’t the best survival strategy would completely disarm GOP attacks.

If people bothered to gain a bit of knowledge, they wouldn’t be snookered by Newtie’s latest “green coal” blabbering. They wouldn’t elect ignorant fools like Michele Bachmann and John Boehner who don’t know the difference between necessary and toxic levels of carbon dioxide, and exactly which greenhouse gas it is that cows emit. Note to Boehner: it’s not CO2.

A little bit of knowledge combined with an ocean of ignorance is a dangerous thing. Michele Bachmann’s statement that carbon dioxide is a vital part of life on earth may sound persuasive if all you know is that CO2 is what plants eat. If you didn’t know other things, such as what happens when too much of a good thing gets into the atmosphere, then you’d think she had a good point. Alas, too many ignorant and willfully stupid people do. And so the planet boils.

Speaking of global warming, Sen. James Inhofe has “a list of 700 prominent scientists who oppose global warming.” Wow! With that many scientists saying global warming doesn’t exist, there must really be doubts, right? Here’s where knowledge gives us the power to resist fake science, though, because knowing who those “scientists” are changes everything:

Like the Discovery Institute’s similar list involving evolution, there are some real laughers on the list. Like this one:
One of the listed prominent scientists is Chris Allen, who holds no college degree, believes in creationism and belongs to a Southern Baptist church.

Allen is a weatherman at the FOX-affiliated TV station in Bowling Green, Ky.

[snip]

The list also includes a retired professor with no training in climate science who says that the earth “couldn’t be more than 10,000 years old.” And these names were listed as “prominent scientists” in an actual Senate report.

Outrageous fucktards can get away with this shit only because people don’t know any better. They haven’t bothered to learn. They don’t know how to verify claims. They don’t know how to think critically. If all of us had knowledge and knew how to apply it, the Senate wouldn’t be disgraced by idiots like Inhofe, because they wouldn’t get voted in there in the first place.

Given enough knowledge, people wouldn’t fall prey to vitamin pushers. They wouldn’t get taken in by fake medicine. And they sure as shit wouldn’t get snookered by priests trying to use science to shore up their homophobia. No wonder the powerful religious, political and corporate interests hate knowledge so.

Knowledge is necessary to keep us from falling prey. Knowledge is our power. I suggest that as Elitist Bastards, we teach a lot more folks how to use it.

The Stalker Becomes the Stalked

Isn’t it fun to see Bill O’s attack dog getting a hefty dose of his own medicine?

Gawker has some questions for Jesse B. Watters, the Fox News producer that Bill O’Reilly likes to send out to ambush his enemies. So we’re outside his building in Long Island. Right now. (Hi, Jesse!)

[snip]

If you see him, snap a camera phone picture and send it to us. Or better yet, ask him why he stalks and ambushes people that his boss disagrees with, and tell us what he says. Two years ago, during an on-air celebration of Watters’ ambushes, O’Reilly had this to say about his young charge: “Jesse Watters, everybody. He’s becoming a big star all over the world.”

Let’s make that happen.

Heh heh, gorgeous. And if you want a rundown of Watters’s infamous ambushes and all the reasons why turnabout’s glorious fair play, that Gawker article does a stellar job.

Then, if you’re appetite’s whetted for more Bill Bashing, head on over to C & L, where they’re enjoying themselves immensely at his expense.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Congratulations Rep. Scott Murphy! Norm Coleman take note: when the votes don’t go your way, it’s generally a good idea to gracefully concede.

There are times when I seriously wonder if the Cons are ingesting some sort of toxins that cause acute stupidity, insanity and hypocrisy. Today’s one of those days.

There’s been a lot of talk about Cons going to war lately (rather than merely sending soldiers to live out their fantasies for them). They’ve talked about becoming an insurgency like the Taliban. They’ve threatened to go nuclear over various and sundry nominations, the budget reconciliation process, and formed a mob demanding the head of Janet Napolitano. Now they’re threatening war over war crimes prosecutions:

New York Republican Rep. Peter King thinks his party needs to go nuke if Bush era officials are prosecuted on torture charges.

King, the outspoken ranking member of the House homeland security committee, said Republicans should “shut down [legislative] activity across the board” if any Bush-era officials are hauled into court.

“We would need to have a scorched-earth policy and use procedural means to bring the place to a halt — go to war,” he told POLITICO.

Is it just me, or do these fucktards seem to be starting more wars than they have the troops to fight? They’ve got a rather bad habit of doing that.

Rep. King didn’t just stop there, though. He’s decided Jay “Torture Memo” Bybee doesn’t deserve impeachment, but a medal.

Cons have a funny way of thinking about war crimes. Now, apparently, if we prosecute officials for war crimes, we’ll be turning America into a banana republic. Cons have been so delighted with this meme that it’s filtered up to Sens. Bond and McCain, forcing Steve Benen to school them on the true meaning of “banana republic:

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a “Banana Republic” is an unaccountable chief executive who ignores the rule of law when it suits his/her purposes. The ruling junta in a “Banana Republic” eschews accountability, commits heinous acts in secret, tolerates widespread corruption, and generally embraces a totalitarian attitude in which the leader can break laws whenever he/she feels it’s justified to protect the state.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Rove, McCain, Bond, Hannity, Beck, et al are so caught up in their partisan rage, they’ve failed to realize they have the story backwards. They’re so far gone, they’re so blinded by their rigid ideology, they have no idea that they’re projecting. It’s genuinely pathetic.

If our goal is to avoid looking like a “Banana Republic,” then we would investigate those responsible for torture, which is, not incidentally, illegal. The accused would enjoy the presumption of innocence and due process rights. The process would be transparent, and those who act (and have acted) in our name would be held accountable.

It’s the hallmark of a great and stable democracy: we honor the rule of law, even when it’s inconvenient, and even when it meets the cries of small men with sad ideas.

To do otherwise, to retreat because a right-wing minority whines incessantly, would do more to make us look like a “Banana Republic” than anything else.

You’ve got that right. I wonder if any of them will ever wake up to that little fact? Nah, you’re right. They can’t even understand simple concepts, such as “the dose is the poison:”

On the House floor on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) argued that threat of manmade global warming doesn’t make any sense because “carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature“:

Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature. Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that’s on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that — that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.

That’s right, Michele. It is fundamental. So is water, but people drown if there’s too much. The dose is the poison. Thinking like yours is what leads people to give themselves vitamin toxcity and destroy their organs with overdoses of herbal supplements because “it’s necessary to life/it’s natural, therefore we should take as much of it as possible.”

Morons.

Cherrypicking facts and evidence has become something of a Con specialty. You’ve got people like Bachmann latching on to the fact that CO2 is a necessary gas while ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence that says too much of a good thing is bad. And you’ve got Cons like Dick Cheney requesting proof that torture works – all two documents’ worth:

Two things that are immediately striking about the request Dick Cheney submitted for classified documents that would allegedly prove that torture worked:

(1) He only asked for a total of two documents, a total of 21 pages — meaning this is likely the grand total of proof Cheney himself is able to point to supporting his claims about the torture program.

(2) Despite the charge that Obama cherry-picked from the torture memos, it seems pretty clear that Cheney himself did some serious cherry-picking from the intel files.

This, at least, is the immediate takeaway of ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer, who’s been following this stuff as closely as anyone.

Something tells me that if torture were truly effective, there’d be more than two documents proving it so. This also conveniently ignores the fact that whether or not torture’s effective, it’s completely fucking illegal. Look at it this way: I could claim that shooting my neighbor is an efficient, effective way to get them to stop playing loud music. Even if we ignored the messy clean-up, the wailing of relatives, and the fact that the apartment complex may be a little upset at losing a paying tenant in this manner, we’d still be SOL advocating shooting as an effective method to enforce the hours of quiet rules because
murder is morally and legally wrong
.

Cons in general yawp loudly about morality, but let’s just look at one final bit of Con thinking to see how moral they might be:

I predicted a freak-out about Plan B, but I didn’t think it would be this funny:

So guys, if you screw a 17-year-old and “forget” to use a condom, remember: Nothing says “thanks a lot, you cheap whore” like the gift of Plan B!

Alternately, your readers could stop screwing minors.

Striking that never occurred to them, innit? I’d like to offer a word of advice: whatever Cons are ingesting that’s causing this rampant dumbfuckery, it’s probably time they started rehab for it.

Woozle and Mike Debate Thread

It’s a banner day, my darlings. This is the first time on this blog that a thread’s filled up to the point where it has to be closed and a new one opened. They’ve requested a new forum, and their wish is my command.

Of course, I’m sure neither of them will object if anyone else wishes to join the debate. They’re currently discussing reality vs. fantasy in sex ed.

Enjoy!

Poem o’ the Day

Every once in a while, synchronicity happens.

I’ve got a scene coalescing in my head for this current story, in which the stark contrasts between beauty and horror come up. My folks are warriors. They see the worst. But they’ve also seen extraordinary beauty, which just about makes the ugliness they have to deal with worthwhile.

Today, looking for Zen poems to post, I ended up on A View on Buddhism, and found this wonderful one by Ryokan:

Where beauty is, then there is ugliness;
where right is, also there is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent;
delusion and enlightenment condition each other.
Since olden times it has been so.
How could it be otherwise now?
Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other
is merely realizing a scene of stupidity.
Even if you speak of the wonder of it all,
how do you deal with each thing changing?

And that just about sums it up right there. It’s utterly perfect for that scene.

One of the things I adore about Zen is the acceptance of the world as it is. Another thing I like is the acceptance of change. Layman P’ang, one of my absolute favorite Zen sages, put it like this:

The past is already past.
Don’t try to regain it.
The present does not stay.
Don’t try to touch it.

From moment to moment.
The future has not come;
Don’t think about it
Beforehand.

Whatever comes to the eye,
Leave it be.
There are no commandments
To be kept;
There’s no filth to be cleansed.

With empty mind really
Penetrated, the dharmas
Have no life.
When you can be like this,
You’ve completed
The ultimate attainment.

With a philosophy like that – basically saying the scriptures are meaningless – even an atheist can practice Zen.

After all, this Zen poem by Master Seung Sahn just about could’ve been written by one of us:

Good and evil have no self nature;
Holy and unholy are empty names;
In front of the door is the land of stillness and quiet;
Spring comes, grass grows by itself.

Bashing Bill

It’s Friday. It’s time to have some fun. And Bill O’Reilly’s just begging for a beating.

I mean, check out what his producer’s been up to lately:

It’s no secret that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly can’t stand MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. In fact, when a caller into his radio show had the gall to mention Olbermann’s name on air in March 2006, O’Reilly threatened to turn his personal information over to “Fox security.”

Yesterday, O’Reilly took his rivalry a step further. He sent his top henchman, producer Jesse Watters, to infiltrate the GE shareholders meeting and press executives on why MSNBC has a “leftward political slant”:

But one of those questions came from Jesse Waters [sic], a producer on “The O’Reilly Factor” whose criticisms were cut short when his microphone was cut off, according to several attendees. Waters apparently did not publicly identify himself as a Fox employee. […]

GE pointed out that Waters had Fox News cameras waiting outside the Orlando meeting.

Attendees who spoke to THR said shareholders asked about 10 politically charged questions concerning MSNBC as well as one about CNBC. […]

Thoroughly unhinged? Behavior unbecoming to a purported news station? I should bloody well think so. Remind me to keep a dart gun loaded with horse tranquilizers handy just in case I can bull-bait the bastard into stalking me.

Hm. Wonder what happens when you mix horse tranqs with capsaicin and hit a douchebag producer in a major vein? But I digress…

Bill O’s a complete prick. We all knew that. We also know he runs his show like his own little totalitarian state and usually only has on guests who are slavering sycophants or easily intimidated. It’s nice to see a dissenter with a backbone of steel slip through sometimes:

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican took on Bill O’Reilly last night to talk about President Obama’s decision to leave the door open for prosecutions of Bush administration officials for creating its now-defunct torture regime.

And frankly, he did as well I’ve ever seen anyone do in the canned, no-win setup that is The O’Reilly Factor. He went toe-to-toe with O’Reilly on the factual points — and in fact started scoring so well that O’Reilly was reduced to blurting out increasingly outrageous pronouncements.

Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript. It’ll warm your heart.

Best. Help. Wanted. Ad. Ever.

If you’re a political junkie with mad blogging skillz and don’t mind living in D.C., I think you’d better take a look at this:

ThinkProgress is hiring a reporter/blogger to join our team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. We’re looking for enthusiastic applicants who slave away at a keyboard have strong research/writing experience, don’t sleep have a desire to consume large amounts of news, beat the media at their own game have a passion for researching and reporting online, and don’t mind being stalked by Bill O’Reilly’s crew.

Glorious. I’d go for it if I were a better researcher and didn’t hate the East coast so (nothing personal, my dear denizens of the east – it’s just not my geography). That’s the greatest want ad in the known universe.*

(I know some wag’s going to come up with something even funnier, so let me qualify that statement: it’s the greatest want ad in the known universe written by staffers at a professional enterprise that I’ve personally seen.)

What the Hell’s Wrong with Texas?

All right, my darlings from Texas, clue me in: what the fuck is wrong with the people in your state?

First we have all these idiots running around yawping about secession:

Last week, a statewide poll in Texas found that 75% of Texans would like to see their state remain in the U.S., while 18% would prefer to secede, and 7% aren’t sure. Whether one considered those numbers encouraging or not was a subjective matter.

But that poll was of Texans in general. How about Texas Republicans? This was more obviously discouraging.

An equal number of Republicans think Texas would be better off as its own country as think it would be better off as part of the United States.

Forty-eight percent of Republicans said they favor secession, the same percentage that said they didn’t in a Research 2000/DailyKos poll released Thursday.

More, a majority of Republicans — 51 percent — approve of Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) recent comments that suggested Texas may need to leave the United States; 44 percent of Republicans disapproved of the remark.

Um, wow. Even as a Texan I find this shocking.

Granted, there were only 234 Republicans who participated in the poll, but the fact that they were split, right down the middle, on the question about staying in the United States is more than a little disturbing.

[snip]

Oh, and did I mention that some Texas legislators are considering issuing a “cease and desist” order to the federal government?

And those things are bizarre enough. But then comes this:

Texas, it’s the land of science! Always has been:

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” was booed in Waco, Texas for suggesting the Moon did not generate its own light, but reflected light from the sun…

At this point, several people in the audience stormed out, including [a] woman with three small children who shouted, “We believe in God!” and left.

Always will be, like yesterday when a Texas congressperson demanded Nobel laureates in physics explain how God put oil in Texas in six seconds or less.

What happened, Texas? Have you always been the dumping ground for right-wing nutcases, or is this a recent development? I think it’s time for the sane people there to stage a revolution.