A refresher in basic logic

I have been gratified that this blog seems to attract a sophisticated and knowledgeable commentariat, people who add greatly to the information and quality of the discourse. I have learned a lot from them. Hence it is surprising and a little jarring to once in a way find comments that seem to display a level of argument that is well below the norm. I usually treat them as momentary aberrations and ignore them but there has been one recurring theme that perhaps needs to be addressed. [Read more…]

The importance of journalists being adversarial

Many people in the US do not realize the extent to which the government has gone to instill fear in journalists. One way they have done this by threatening to cut off access to them. This should not be a serious problem if journalists were doing their jobs the proper way, which is to investigate those things that governments want to keep secret. But so many of them have become dependent on insider gossip provided by anonymous high level sources that being cut off can be a career-ender. They have become content with becoming part of the government propaganda machine. [Read more…]

Give this man a prize

This interview with Reza Aslan about his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has been all over the internet but I got to watch it only today. The scholar of religions amazingly keeps his cool with what has to be one of the most obtuse interviewers I have ever seen. Even though he ends up explaining basic things about the nature of academic studies to Lauren Green like she was a child, she still does not seem to get it. [Read more…]

“The ‘peace process’ is whatever the US supports”

Via Juan Cole, I came across this clip from 1990 in which Noam Chomsky talks about how in the propaganda model, words have technical meanings in addition to their normal meanings. In the US media it is the technical meanings that are used because they provide justification for anything that the US government does. What Chomsky said then still holds up, including the examples he gives of this practice, especially as it pertains to the Middle East ‘peace process’ that is back in the news. [Read more…]

Cue the two-minute hate on Edward Snowden’s father

Lon Snowden has had the nerve to say that his son is better off in Russia than in the US.

[I]n a telephone interview with the Associated Press, the elder Snowden said he had lost faith in recent weeks that his son would be treated fairly by the justice department. He now thinks his 30-year-old son is better off avoiding the US if possible until an administration that respects the constitution comes into office. [Read more…]

Making sure the poor are also miserable

Most if us live within our means and keep some sort of rough budget of what we can afford and it usually works to keep spending in check. It is tempting to think that that is what keeps us out of debt, and one of the easiest traps that those of us who are not poor can fall into is thinking that the poor get into financial trouble because they suffer from a lack of that kind of planning. [Read more…]

More explosive NSA revelations to come soon

In an interview today on the ABC TV’s This Week, Glenn Greenwald says that this coming week will see the release of yet another story that backs up one of Edward Snowden’s most explosive allegations that has been vigorously denied by the government, that low-level people in the NSA could, if they wished, search through all the records they have collected and listen in to the stored phone calls of anyone at all, including the president. [Read more…]