Thursday, April 24, 2008

What the Demos' superdelegates should do


Should the Democrats' superdelegates accede to the majority of Democratic primary voters?

Both Clinton and Obama say so--only Clinton says it should be everyone who voted, while Obama says it should only be voters whose votes were accepted by the Democratic Party's rulegivers.

By some amazing coincidence, each would win if we counted the votes the way each of their quest for impartial justice would dictate.

But there's a problem. Some states nominated by caucus, others by conventional voting, others by some arcane combination. Some primaries were limited to registered Democrats, others were open.

So it's not a level playing field, and just what the majority is...is open to considerable question. And the two candidates' statements are too self-serving to count for much.

And remember, the next president won't be determined by the popular vote. It will be determined by a winner take all system (in most states) funnelled through the electoral college, which means that in most states even if 49.9% of the voters voted Democrat their votes would count for exactly nothing, as long as the Republican got 50.1%--and vice versa.

Here's how I'd figure out how to vote if I were a superdelegate:

1. If I were a legislator, I'd see how my district voted. That wouldn't be determinative, but at least if I went against my district's vote I'd know I had some serious explaining to do.

2. I wouldn't take into account the votes in all states that will for sure vote for one party regardless--those overwhelmingly Red and Blue states. If all 400 Democrats in Utah picked Obama, so what? Utah's electors will all go for McCain. Period.

3. Only consider the votes in the s0-called battleground states that could go either way. If either candidate turns out to have a strong advantage after all the primaries are over, I'd vote for that one.

4. I wouldn't take into account the sulky vote--those who say they'd never vote for Clinton or Obama if they couldn't get Obama or Clinton.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NYTimes editorializes about Clinton campaign tactics

According to www.factcheck.org (the Annenberg Foundation's rigorously nonpartisan campaign watchdog website), both Clinton and Obama have repeatedly slandered each other. FactCheck details this minutely. So why single out Clinton?

The Left calls Clinton a Republican--the vilest epithet they can imagine. The Right calls her a socialist--their worst epithet. Both view her pragmatism as lack of principle. I view their whirly eyes with horror.

Meanwhile, the NYTimes Editorial Board carps about Clinton's campaign tactics while it totally ignores key reasons why both Clinton AND Obama could lose the centrist/independent vote--and thus the election:

1. Neither has vowed to veto pork-laden, earmark-marked-up spending bills. McCain has.

Of course it doesn't take courage for a Republican to oppose a Democratic Congress (or vice versa). Still, centrists see a lot in electing a chief executive of a different party than the one running the legislature.

That's why here in California, about as blue a state as they come, we keep sending Republican governators to Sacramento--they're a check on the Democratic legislature.

Both parties have proven that they can't govern themselves. They throw money into projects that will help them get re-elected, not into things we actually need, like repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

2. The other key reason centrists look askance at both Clinton and Obama is their desertion of blue-collar workers--the traditional core of the Democratic Party.

Over the last several decades blue-collar workers' earnings have sagged 5-25%, depending on industry and region, as a direct result of competition from citizens of other countries (90% from Mexico & thereabouts) working here illegally.

They take jobs from Americans, push down wages for the rest, and suck up the social services in blue collar neighborhoods--especially in the ERs and in the schools.

Of course if Clinton and Obama defended American workers they'd incur the wrath of powerful special interest groups: the Chamber of Commerce, racialist organizations such as The Race (AKA La Raza), the Catholic Church, and academic leftists.

Everyone knows most Republican voters oppose illegal immigration (while the GOP leadership favors it). Fewer realize that 40% of Democrats do too, and even 25% of Latino Americans.

The Democratic Party has long been accused of pandering to special interest groups at the expense of its core constituency. This is an example of where that accusation sticks.

Dirty campaign tactics? The NYTimes is obsessing about how the game is being played but losing sight of the goals.

I don't want to see McCain 2008 in office (McCain 2000 was a different story, but he appears to have died & been replaced by his evil twin). I want universal health care. I want something approaching a sane approach to the Islamofascists' campaign against us.

But I also don't want to see the American Southwest turned into a Mexican ghetto. Do you realize that even today the most-watched TV station in our third largest city only broadcasts in Spanish? The Southwest is turning into a Mexican ghetto that's displacing American multiculturalism with a Hispanic monoculture.

None of this affects the NYTimes Editorial Board, nor its family, friends, or neighbors. You love working stiffs...at a comfortable distance. And you'll have to give up some comfortable misconceptions if you really want to help put a Democrat in the White House.

Ehkzu www.blogzu.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bush, global warming, NYTimes, nuclear power



NYT editorial:


Empty Promises on Warming

President Bush’s Rose Garden speech last week seemed cynically designed to prevent others from showing the leadership he refuses to provide.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/opinion/22tue1.html
It garnered over 100 comments. None said this:

Granted, Bush has never met any opportunity he could profit by today that he wouldn't sacrifice his children's future for. And he faithfully mirrors the beliefs of a majority of folks who ironically call themselves "conservative."

OTOH it takes little courage for the New York Times editorial board to criticize a Republican.

You all could show great courage by going to bat for building nuclear powerplants--something opposed by a majority of those whose politics match those of the NYT editorial board.

Your peeps would be enraged. But you'd be right. You could point out to them that nuclear waste storage in dry casks is vastly safer than continuing to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from coal-fired powerplants. You could point out that other advanced countries have been using nuclear power for decades safely and cleanly--that their fears are based on outdated information and shibboleths.

You could also point out that power from wind, sun, waves and geothermal vents are all great but insufficient to our needs by orders of magnitude.

Don't just pander to people's primitive fears and ignorance like the far right does. Show that you're better.

I look forward to your pro-nuclear campaign.

Lying about illegal immigration with statistics


















On public opinion re: illegal immigration

Amnestyites constantly state that a majority of Americans favor granting ammnesty to Mexican citizens (plus Guatemalans, Salvadoreans, & others) living here illegally.

One of the things I learned on the way to getting a degree in sociology from UCLA was how you could skew polling to get the results you want.

For example, you can use the false choice trick.

If I ask "Do you favor giving undocumented workers a path to citizenship, or do you favor turning America into a police state, declaring martial law and sending the Army into American cities to round up and deport anyone who has a brown skin and talks with an accent?" ...guess what answer you'll get from most people?

This kind of bias is aided greatly by the mainstream media & leading politicians like Senator Obama reiterating the false choice of accommodation vs. roundup. Obama, who surely knows better, gave a long talk on how economically impossible it would be to round up 12 million "undocumented workers." Never did he mention the alternative of making it so hard for them to make money here that they'd trickle back to Mexico the same way they came--on their own hook.

So after being indoctrinated by the press & pols that you only can choose between accommodation and deportation, a majority of Americans choose accommodation.

Yet another proof that ever more skillful propagandizing is the greatest threat to democracy.

However, none of this means that Americans approve of illegal immigration or are happy with that false choice, even when they can't see through it.

Here in California, one of the bluest of blue states, ballot initiatives denying many social services to illegal aliens & making English our official language passed with huge majorities that included 25% of Latin Americans & 40% of Democrats.

National polls reflect this fact, contrary to what wishful thinkers in this thread might claim.

Some examples:

* 55% consider illegal immigration a “very serious problem.” (Roper ASW for Negative Population Growth, March 2003)
* 65% disagree with granting amnesty to illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. (Zogby Intl., May 2002)
* 55% think granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is a bad idea. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)
* 65% believe granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would encourage further illegal immigration, & that for this reason amnesty should not be granted. (Harris Interactive for FAIR, August 2001)
* 67% think the U.S. shouldn't make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. (Gallup, August 2001)
---
A Rasmussen Report Poll conducted last October 24-25th of 800 likely voters found that:
* 51% opposed the DREAM Act (a form of amnesty for former & present illegal alien students) concept
* 68% believe passing the bill would encourage more illegal immigration in the future.
* 71% believe illegal immigrants shouldn't qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges & universities.
* 77 % oppose making drivers' licenses available to illegal immigrants.
---
* 89% of Americans think illegal immigration is a problem (30% "extremely serious," 33% "very serious," and 26% "somewhat serious." (Time Magazine, Jan. 2006)
* 82% think that not enough is being done along the borders to keep illegal immigrants out. (New York Times/CBS May 2007)
* 68% feel the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”. (Polling Company, Sept. 2006)
* 62% oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. (Quinnipiac Univ., Feb. 2006)
[thanks to FAIR for this compilation]
---
And just two years ago our Republican Congress was all set to enact an amnesty bill that our Amnestyite in Chief Bush II said he was eager to sign--but they were stopped dead in their tracks by the public outcry.

The Republican Party's patrons told their Congress and Presidency to pass this bill, since Chamber of Commerce types are the primary beneficiaries of illegal immigration of peasants, via union busting & driving down wages for blue-collar workers. The Republican leadership was hell-bent on ramming this through.

A few cranks sending emails wouldn't have stopped them. A few organizations with orchestrated email campaigns wouldn't have stopped them. Congressmen long ago learned they can safely ignore 10,000 identical letters.

What stopped them was innumerable outraged individuals communicating with their representatives in Congress, despite every major newspaper editorial board telling them this was a Good Thing, despite the unified approbation for amnesty from both Democratic & GOP leadership, despite Bush's endless tub-thumping.

Of course the amnestyites learned nothing from this experience, & still claim they speak for Americans.

Partisans don't think. They work from their beliefs back towards the facts, selecting & discarding to fit their preconceptions. This is but one example.

response to WaPo editorial "Arizona's Immigration 2-Step"


Arizona's Immigration Two-Step
PHOENIX -- Traumatized by a tidal wave of illegal immigrants, Arizona last year enacted the nation's most pitiless law to punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Now state lawmakers, having proved that they mean business -- even if it means killing off businesses -- are reconnecting with ...

By Lee Hockstader
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
2008/04/20/AR2008042001755.html


Comments



ehkzu wrote:

This article isn't bad journalism. It's an op-ed piece--an opinion piece. It's not required to be fair, balanced, or factual. It's required to advocate something forcefully and skilfully.

For bad journalism, look at the article "Researchers Fear Southern Fence Will Endanger Species Further" in yesterday's Post. That article--not an editorial--argues that we shouldn't build a border fence because it gets in the way of wildlife.

However, the writer failed to note that her argument applies equally to ALL fences EVERYWHERE--along with roads, cities, suburbs, farms, shipping, and air traffic.

Nearly all the Post's articles on immigration are equally one-sided propaganda pieces.

But even though Hockstader's screed isn't bad journalism, it is bad editorializing.

It substitutes cheap shots (mainly namecalling) throughout in lieu of making actual arguments for his unstated but clear premise: that Mexico's ruling elite should be allowed to outsource its overpopulation crisis to America, along with its entire social welfare system.

Oh, and that anyone who objects to this invasion is such a knuckle-dragger that one needn't bother to even argue with him. A few put-downs like "nativist" or "racist" will suffice.

Propaganda differs from editorials in using emotional arguments instead of sweet reason.

I could teach a class on underhanded demagoguery using this article as an example.

Aside from the pervasive namecalling, some less obvious dirty tricks appear in this piece:

a. Hockstader only makes sense if this were the first amnesty. Instead it will be the third, the last one being in 1986.

Only now it's up to 20M illegals instead of 3M. The result of that real amnesty combined with fake enforcement was that even more Mexican citizens made themselves at home here. Nothing he says in this editorial would change that consequence.

And then what? HALF of Mexico's 100+M population wants to move here. In Hockstader's mental universe, is ANY number of Mexicans too much? And if there is a too-much number, what do we do when we finally reach it?

b. Hockstader's writing embodies the contempt for mainstream American culture common to the academic Left. America bad, Mexico good. That's why he speaks of opposition to illegal immigration so contemptuously.

It seems that for him American culture has no intrinsic value. So massively altering it across California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas is just fine.

OTOH Mexican culture is to be revered and celebrated (never mind that Mexican-American high school dropout rates and incidence of teen pregnancy are the highest of any sizeable socioethnic group in America).

Of course these are inexpensive attitudes for Hockstader to sport. He doesn't live here in the Southwest, where Mexicans are invading in such large numbers that they're supplanting multicultural communities with monolithic Spanish-speaking ones. Then again, if American culture is to be disdained, who cares? Not the media elites living around the Beltway.

And of course he doesn't move in the social circles of folks who have lost 5-20% of their earning power due to competition from illegals. His childrens' schools aren't crumbling under the weight of hordes of kids who don't even speak or write good Spanish, much less Ingles.

He can wish this plague of peasants on working-class Americans in the Southwest without spilling his mocha latte.

This illegal immigration by millions of Mexicans has no historical precedent, either for the sheer numbers or for its all coming from one other culture. The last big wave (around the turn of the 20th century) came from many countries--though they too brought down wages.

In fact, precious few Mexicans lived in America in large numbers until recently.

In 1940 Mexican-Americans represented .5% of the population--and Mexico's population was 20 million. Now they're, what, 14% of our population--more than blacks--and in Mexico the population has exploded to over 100 million.

News flash: we didn't do that. They did it to themselves, looong before NAFTA. They did it partly because Mexican society is dominated by a stuck-in-the-19th century religion that says even condoms are murder--much less IUDs or morning after pills.

The irony of ironies is that the liberal establishment used to love America's working poor. But the liberal establishment is a fickle lot. Now not even blacks--who have been most impacted by illegal alien labor--can divert Hockstader's adoring gaze from Los Mexicanos.

Not that I have anything against Mexicans myself. I speak Spanish and have studied the anthropology of Mexico's Indians. I just happen to like having my culture and my language in my country.

By Hockstader's principles I should be able to move to Mexico with a million other Americans and demand our rights to get Mexican citizenship but not learn Spanish--even to vote...because it's our right to impose our culture on theirs.

Why?

Beats me. Ask him.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A border fence blocks wildlife! Quelle domage!

The Washington Post published an article--not an editorial--arguing that a border fence would be an ecological disaster.

It took me a full day to realize the implication of this article's premise that we shouldn't build a border fence because it gets in the way of animal migration.

Um, doesn't this apply to ALL fences EVERWHERE? And roads (animals walk onto the roads and get smacked)? And cities? And suburbs? And farms? And shipping? And air traffic?

The only logical conclusion to the "logic" of this article is that all human civilization must vacate the Earth forthwith, because everywhere we build something we get in the way of the wildlife that was there.

Of course in all human endeavors we should try to be good Earth citizens. But to single out our southern border as the only place to abstain from construction...now doesn't that seem non-logical?

Meaning the article is pure propaganda. The writer doesn't love the Southwest border fauna. She loves Mexicans. But not so much Americans.

Note to fellow opponents of this illegal alien invasion: we all need to pay more attention to these bozos' premises. I've read through the comments, and I don't think any of us caught this fundamental logic gaposis.

Note to illegal immigration proponents: fight fair. Both sides should fight fair. When either side resorts to slimy tricks like this it only makes the slimer look slimy. You don't to look slimy, do you?

You won't unless you think your ends are so doggone wonderful they justify the means--in this case, the tunnel vision trick.

Taking offense at the border fence

Many fence opposers bring up valid issues.

For example, a border fence will certainly ruin riverfront properties and boating life where that exists.

I sympathize. I wish it wasn't necessary to protect our border.

I also regret that we need a national biometric ID. Our lives will be less private.

But we have to adapt. We didn't create Mexico's overpopulation problem. We didn't install Mexico's corrupt, heartless ruling class. We didn't create its well-meaning but ecocidally wrongheaded dominant religion.

We didn't invent Arab Islamofascism either.

Nor do we benefit from the illegals' presence. Corporate owners do; then they outsource all the social burden to the taxpayer.

Yes, many illegals pay taxes. But that barely dents the costs they add to law enforcement, education, medical services, and more. We don't even benefit from their spending, since they send so much back to their own countries. That's personally virtuous but bad for us.

And of course a small but significant percentage of those hordes of trespassers come here to prey. The average gangbanger in LA is now a transational criminal. Perhaps a million illegal aliens now reside on our dime in county jails, state and federal prisons.

Also, one commentor questioned why we'd build a fence between us and a friendly country.

How do you define friendly? Is it friendly to export--on the downlow, to be sure--a million Mexicans a year here illegally?

Is it friendly to export Mexico's social services infrastructure to America?

Is it friendly to disseminate pamphlets showing Mexicans how to thwart law enforcement here?

Is it friendly to set up a system of consulates across America dedicated to helping Mexican illegals get away with it?

Is it friendly to tell your citizens that a big chunk of a neighboring country actually belongs to your country?

Mexico profits from parasitizing America. Illegals send billions of dollars to Mexico each year--so their government is incentivized to lubricate this process.

And Mexico's government aggressively intervenes in all attempts to deter illegal immigration.

And Mexican law enforcement officers moonlighting for the drug cartels have crossed the border repeatedly, protecting drug shipments, and have been involved in confrontations with border patrol agents, who always retreat in the face of superior firepower.

It's a pacifist's dream come true.

There are many gradations between being at war with another country and being its BFF. Mexico is somewhere in between, and needs to be treated as such.

Shakespeare's dotty old character Polonius advised his son Laertes to be slow to get into a quarrel--but, once in, to make sure the other guy never wanted to quarrel with you again.

We're not doing that, because our beloved "decider" turns out to believe you should "speak loudly but carry an undersized stick."

Right now there's so much violent crime being committed against Americans across Mexico that our State Dept. should issue a travel warning, as it has done for many other equally perilous countries.

But with Mexico...the State Dept. says ...nada. If I were cynical I'd say the fix is in.

Another commentor assumed all of us who want strict border controls are Bush-loving Republicans.

It's not that simple. True, at least 80% of GOP rank and file want strict border control and workplace enforcement. But the GOP leadership in Washington wants lots of illegals here, to drive down wages for unskilled labor and bust unions.

Bush has been a cheerleader for letting in gobs of illegals, in total opposition to the GOP rank and file.

Moreover, around 40% of Democrats also oppose illegal immigration.

In fact, if you analyze exit polls from several California elections that contained anti-illegal immigrant initiatives, you'll find that around 25% of American Latinos voted for those initiatives.

They were voting in their self-interest. Many legal Latinos compete with illegals for work. They're often bear the brunt of illegal immigration--and illegals who are violent criminals prey on American Latinos more than most other groups (and on blacks, too, even ethnically cleansing mixed neighborhoods in the LA area).

Here a question for people who take offence at the fence:

Why shouldn't America get to choose who lives here? I vote for educated, middle class people who speak good English and whose families and offspring won't be a burden on society.

Consider all those college-educated, middle class Iraqi refugees--including a million Christians--now huddled in Syria & Lebanon due, to our government's extreme blunderosity. Then start working down that looong list of applicants for LEGAL immigration.

You do remember all the qualified people who've been waiting for years trying enter our country legally? All the PhDs in important fields here on student visas that we're sending home now?

How about more of them, fewer semiliterate peasants? We have plenty of homegrown high school dropouts who need work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

And here are yet more responses of mine to the comments on the WaPo's border fence article:

ehkzu wrote:
gkam excuses using inflammatory rhetoric because of the rants of the other side.

Well, partisans of both sides rant. We are, after all, 98% genetically identical to a chimp--and we prove it every day.

I do realize that it's almost overwhelmingly hard to stay calm when you're wiping spittle off your face. As a centrist I get it from both sides so I'm doubly aware of this problem. So to speak.

gkam asks what magical remedy I'd propose to solve our illegal immigration problem.

I'd start by admitting that not all problems have solutions of any sort, much less magical ones.

The perfect is the enemy of the good, right?

Let me also add a personal disclaimer: my ox isn't gored by illegal immigration, even though I live in its epicenter--California. I make my living in high tech, so I don't face job competition. I speak Spanish, have lived in Mexico, and am familiar with Mexican folkways, and love hot spicy Mexican food. So no xenophobic problems.

And I'm old, so I'll be dead before Calfornia becomes America's Quebec.

So I'm only arguing against illegal immigration out of the goodness of my heart.

Getting back to solutions...

We have to admit that every choice we make--including doing nothing and thus voting for the status quo--is going to hurt innocent people. The only choice is which innocent people get hurt, and how much.

I also admit that illegal immigrants shouldn't be the focus of our wrath, even though I do advocate getting them out of the country. The true focus of our wrath should be the greedy rich people of both America and Mexico who primarily profit from the status quo, along with the primitive religion whose Mexican members put a lot more in the collection plate and toe the Vatican line a lot more faithfully than most American Catholics do.

And even there I give the Catholic Church credit for good intentions--however hellish the results of those good intentions are.

But all that said, I propose that we have to gain control of our borders, stop illegals' working here, and get most of those living here to self deport, while offering Mexico and parts south help in reforming their economies--as long as our help actually helps.

I'd also revise the 14th amendment to exclude anchor babies, patrol our southern border with the National Guard deployed there to guard our nation, and institute a biometric national ID, with SSA/INS/ICE cross-checking. And declare English our national language and require prospective citizens to be able to understand ballot materials in English.

I realize these sound harsh. I just urge readers to consider the plight not of themselves of but American blue-collar workers. They're the ones getting shafted,
not us educated types. They're the ones whose schools are getting resource-drained trying to accommodate kids who don't even read/write Spanish well, much less English.

They're the ones who can't get seen in an ER due to Mexicans using it as their primary care facility.

They're the ones whose multicultural American neighborhoods in the Southwest are getting replaced by monocultural Mexican ones.

Not us. I realize it's hard to empathize with these people. I grew up in blue collar neighborhoods, and I was the smart kid they picked on constantly.

I had to overcome my own remembered hurts to advocate for the joe lunchbuckets of America. But it's the right thing to do.

And yes, a fence is needed. Big and elaborate near the cities, less out in the open, and in some areas maybe towers and UAVs will suffice--along with the aforementioned National Guard. But we have to do it if we want our country to remain our country.

comments on comments about WaPo's border fence article

I went through the comments on the Washington Post border fence articleI referenced in the last post. Here are my responses to several of the comments:

Let's take a look at the logic/facts of some recent posts.

1. OpenBorders 1:51:53PM
...accurately observes that fence opponents talk about ecodamage from a fence but not about ecodamage by illegal immigrants/drug traffickers/terrorists etc.

However, we should acknowledge that some animals may have their ox gored by a fence. But there are ways to mitigate such damage. Look at how the California condor has been brought back from the brink of extinction.

I still advocate building a fence--but with mitigation efforts for threatened wildlife where it's deemed most necessary.


2. starsandstripeshaha 1:51:31 PM
...claims we're all (illegal) immigrants except for a group he/she calls "Native Americans."

This is factually inaccurate. First, most Americans are descended from legal immigrants. It's not illegal to immigrate to a place that has no immigration laws, as was the case for a long time. Then, after we did institute immigration laws, immigrants would get off the boat and be processed by immigration officials.

If you examine our history you'll see few Americans are descended from illegal immigrants except for Latinos who were anchor babies taking advantage of the loophole accidentally written into the 14th Amendment, which was intended to protect the children of slaves from Southern disenfranchisement legislation.

And as for "Native Americans." Um, their ancestors immigrated here just like everyone else's who was born here. I was born here. My spouse was born here. So we are EXACTLY as "native" as any American Indian.

In the sense of this writer's interpretation of "native" the only Native Anythings on Earth are current inhabitants of the highlands of East Africa, where our species originated. Everyone anywhere else is an immigrant or a descendant of same.

Not to mention the small irony that Mexicans who aren't Indios treat the Indios on both sides of the border like dirt. Mexico is an intensely racist society, where social status is largely equated with % of Euro blood in one's veins.

I'd guess that if you asked most American Indians (for want of a better term, since the most genetically accurate would be "Asian Americans" or perhaps "Earlier Americans") what they think of their lands being invaded by Mexican peasants and their traffickers, making it actively dangerous for the locals to be out and about at night, and blighting the landscape with their trash and feces.

And BTW calling a border fence "ludricrous" when 80% of Americans want it built immediately is just the kind of patronizing, condescending language that has parted the American Left from the working class Americans they claim to cherish so much.

4. gkam 1:49:36
...first gratuitously insults all who might dare to disagree with him/her/it/them as being scientifically unqualified to get in the ring with gkam.

Then gkam deigns to answer a point made that if the fence will be so riddled with holes doesn't that obviate concerns about wildlife? gkam's point is that the holes won't match up with animal migration trails.

Well, no doubt. However, I've had a lot of experience observing wildlife, from ants in our kitchen to coral reef ecosystems off New Guinea, and it's obvious that even ants will seek a different path if the one they'd been using gets blocked. Humans aren't the only animals capable of learning. You think they just sit down and die if they encounter an obstacle? Good grief.

Kind of ironic to be so condescending about the other side's grasp of science...& then make such an elementary error about animal ethology.

Not that I favor holes in said fence.

5. sunnyday1 1:33:54PM
...blames NAFTA.

Well, not to defend NAFTA, which needs renegotiating--or, better yet, just eliminate agricultural subsidies to huge, highly profitable agribusinesses in just a handful of crop categories--the real problem preceeds NAFTA by decades and has NOTHING to do with America:

Namely, in 1940 Mexico's population was 20 million. Now it's over 100 million, of which half or more live in poverty.

There's no way Mexico's corrupt, inefficient economy can absorb so many new Mexicans. No wonder Mexico makes illegal immigration to Mexico a felony.

And why so many Mexicans? Easy. The country is dominated by a primitive religion that calls condoms murder (I'm not exaggerating--look it up on the Catholic Church's official website; I did to make sure). Couple that to adopting some of the advanced countries' medical advances and voila--five times as many Mexicans as Mexico can handle.

Which means fence opponents believe, in effect, that Mexico's ruling elites and dominant church should get to determine America's demographic composition and overall population size--along with outsourcing Mexico's overpopulation problem here, as well as outsourcing Mexico's social welfare infrastructure here.

If you want more ways to counter partisans' arguments from either extreme, see my blog at
www.blogzu.blogspot.com

Yesterday the Washington Post published an article predicting that a border fence would be an ecological disaster. See it at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/19/AR2008041900942_Comments.html#

I wrote this comment:


There are valid ecological concerns about a border fence. Those concerns should be taken into account.

There are also valid ecological concerns about not having a border fence. Those concerns should be taken into account.

There are also other concerns--for example, what would be the ecological implications of Arab terrorists smuggling a dirty bomb over the border and setting it off in, say, Houston?

A good article could be written about the intersection of illegal immigration and ecology, weighing the different aspects and interviewing the appropriate experts.

Instead we get lazy, partisan journalism.
You'd expect more from one of the nation's leading newspapers.

For example, the article keeps mentioning how a border fence would harm birds and bats. Um, can't birds and bats...fly?

And the article even disses watchtowers for disturbing sensitive critters. But if that's so, surely hordes of illegals coming through on foot and in vehicles every night would disturb the local fauna and flora more.

And the quotes are weighted 90% in favor of, well, fence-o-phobia.

It's fair for an article to come down on one side of an issue--after all, there is such a thing as truth, and it's dishonest just to quote opposing sides without coming to a conclusion about who's telling the truth.

But it's also dishonest to get there by cherrypicking the evidence, throwing in red herrings, and suppressing valid opposing facts and arguments.

Unfortunately, that's what we've got here.

For example, the article pays lip service to the problem of illegal immigrant trash, but so briefly as to make it seem like a red herring, not a real ecological concern. And of course when we say "trash" we don't mean just water bottles and backpacks. We also mean enough biological waste to pollute streams and other areas.

And the numbers are staggering, with around a MILLION illegal immigrants are coming across the border every year drop a nontrivial amount of trash and human waste. Also, as scientists have discovered from studying the impact of human travel in desert regions, just walking across an area in huge numbers can impact the environment.

I conclude that the writer of this article started with a conclusion--illegal immigration good, fences bad--then proceeded backwards towards the facts, presenting what's needed to support the foregone conclusion, with only enough coverage of opposing--or simply complicating--considerations to give the writer "plausible deniability" when accused of bias.

Unlike many of the commentators on this piece, I don't think this sort of bias is limited to one side of the political spectrum. It's the way partisans of the right and left operate, treating truth as instrumental rather than having intrinsic merit.

I'd hoped for better from the Post.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Discrimination


Blacks gripe about racism, women about sexism, old coots about ageism...yet the three current candidates with a clear chance of becoming President of the United States are a self-identified Black, a woman, and an old coot (not self identified, but the guy's in his 70s).

No one in politics complains about religionism.

Okay, I made that word up. Because political discrimination against people who aren't religious is so pervasive, so much a given, that there's no need for a word to describe it in the public discourse.

Instead, many religious people constantly claim that they're being discriminated against.

I'll answer that simply. Does anyone claim that a professed atheist could become President of the United States, regardless of his or her qualifications? How about a Senator from any state? How about a Congressman from anywhere but a few urban/college town districts?

Our President could be a woman, a Black, an old guy--but not an atheist.

Nonreligious people amount to some 4-10% of America's population. And not one of them could run for president.

I think you could make a plausible argument that that's the largest minority in America which is categorically excluded from the highest office, not by law, but by practice--a practice that a majority of Americans find not just acceptable but mandatory.

So tell me why again that I should concern myself with discrimination against Blacks, women, etc. when they can be President...but I can't?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The NY Times weighs in on illegal immigration again


Good grief, another New York Times' shortsighted editorial pandering to every special interest group but working class American citizens. See it at:

http://www.nytimes
.com/2008/04/17/
opinion/17thu1.html
?ref=opinion


My comment:

The NYT editorial board members surely don't think they dwell in an ivory tower, spooling out lofty proposals utterly divorced from gritty reality. No ivory tower thinker does, after all. They all imagine themselves veritable cynosures of sound thinking.

Yet nowhere in this anti-anti-immigration screed did they note the havoc being wrought in the Social Security Administration by illegals' rampant identity theft. People retiring today are discovering they can't start collecting until the SSA figures out who they are when there are several--sometimes many--people claiming to be you.

I can assure you that for people ensnarled by others' theft of their identity, this isn't a problem that can wait for endless committee meetings to hash things out. Meanwhile a MILLION illegal aliens flood across our borders every year--in part because our gummint has given them hope of yet another amnesty, like the one in 1986.

Imperfect as things are, doing nothing while we strive for perfection has a huge downside for the American workers the NYT board puports to adore: Chamber of Commerce types are using the availability of innumerable illegals to drive down blue-collar wages and strangle the unions.

The NYT board usse Orwellian GoodSpeak throughout, of course, referring to illegal aliens as "undocumented workers," and all opponents of illegal immigration as "Minutemen."

In their tower, I suppose they think that these illegals just dropped out of the sky, and that every single one of them is a worker.

Neither is true, but it's effective propaganda, hiding the indisputable fact that every single person in the United States is a citizen of a country. I'm a citizen of the United States. The vast majority of illegal aliens are perfectly documented citizens of Mexico, with smaller but still substantial numbers from parts south, such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras etc.

And for every hard-working person there's a passel of relatives collecting welfare, stuffing the schools with children who aren't even literate in Spanish, and stuffing the ERs with patients, since they don't have doctors...all on the taxpayers' dime. Meanwhile they send much of what they make out of the country--which also hurts our economy.

The only people who profit from their presence are the bosses and the Catholic Church, which brazenly interferes with our society and our laws in order to fill its churches with far more doctrinaire, obedient members than most American Catholics have proven to be.

Of course these illegals aren't stuffing the schools or hospitals or churches that the NYT editorial board member use.

Out of sight, out of mind.

And the board dismisses out of hand the supposed argument that illegal aliens will self-deport en masse if they can't find work here. This is a hyperbolic straw man argument, since nobody has said they would. We've said that if they can't work here they'll leave our country no faster than they came, one by one, very reluctantly.

Of course it would go a lot faster if we adopted a universal biometric ID, as one advanced country after another is discovering it must do.

Underlying the NYT editboard aguments seems to be the philosophy that if it's hard to enforce a law you should just surrender. It would sure simplify our burdened court system if we applied that principle to a raft of crimes.

Anyone liking that school of thought needs to spend some quality time in a country with little or no rule of law. Nigeria, perhaps. Or Somalia.

Worse yet, the NYT editboard seems to live purely in the now. It wants amnesty for the illegals already here. Many claim that's 10 or 12 million people. But nobody knows, since we don't have a universal biometric ID yet. It could be 20 million, as some are now estimating.

And then what? Same as in 1986--millions upon millions of Mexicans and others will start moving to El Norte. That's how America's Latino population zoomed from .5% in 1940 to over 14% today: through illegal immigration and a succession of amnesties, along with a stunning birthrate--highest by unmarried teens of any ethnic group BTW.

And once more, with the NYT's help, Mexico's ruling elites will continue to dictate America's demographic composition and overall population size, as well as continuing to outsource their home-grown population crisis to America, along with outsourcing their social services infrastructure to us.

So how did a left-wing outfit like the NYT edit board become a tool of America's and Mexico's ruling classes?

I look forward to an editorial on THAT subject.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

HUD secretary resigns under fire for alleged corruption/incompetence


One thing you actually can say for Bush--he isn't racially prejudiced. Seriously. He'll appoint self-aggrandizing, sycophantic mediocrities of every race and ethnicity to do the bidding of the GOP's patrons. From Condi Rice to Professor Woo (or whatever's the name of the White House lawyer whose briefs justified torture and the doctrine of President-as-King), Bush has certainly been an equal opportunity employer.

Now class prejudice is another matter entirely. That's why Kanye West had it all wrong. It's not that Bush doesn't care about black people. He doesn't care about ANYONE but rich people. If your income's under $1M/yr. he doesn't even despise you, because he'd have to notice you to despise you.

The irony is all those working stiffs who staunchly defend him to this day because they think he's conservative like them.

Guess what? He isn't a conservative at all. He's a high roller. Always has been.
He never betrayed us Democrats. He betrayed the Republican rank and file. They're the ones he lied to, pretending he was one of them.

Q. How many Harvard MBAs does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Just one. He holds the bulb and waits for the world to revolve around him.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Iraq's refugees--moral challenge for both left & right

Neither the "out now" nor the "victory at all deferred costs" crowds have said what we should do about the millions of Iraqis who no longer have a country, due to our government's grotesque miscalculations and actions.

We can shirk our responsibility for these people's plight, just as we did in Vietnam. But if the "go now" or the "stay indefinitely" crowds EITHER had a moral center, they'd acknowledge this responsibility.

Right now most of these refugees are huddled in Syria and Jordan, but they're not allowed to work there and their money is running out.

These refugees comprise much of Iraq's middle class, who have been under siege since we decapitated Saddam's government, making anyone with money an inviting target for both jihadists and criminal gangs.

Ironically, most of these people had been safe under Saddam as long as they didn't oppose him. Women could walk down the street in western garb safely, except for the few that caught Saddam's psychopath son's eye. Christians were safe. They had safety without freedom, by and large.

Now they have freedom without safety. Few of them think that's much of a trade-off. We invaded a secular dictatorship and turned it into an Islamist state with no religious freedom--particularly as regards its Christians, many of whose families have been in Iraq for thousands of years.

Morally the least we should do is take in Iraq's million-odd Christians, who are now in mortal danger throughout Iraq, in both Sunni and Shiite-dominated regions. And we're obligated to take in the translators and other Iraqos who worked for us.

We could profit greatly by taking in such immigrants, along with many other middle class Iraqis. These are educated people with skills we could benefit from--far more than the million-odd semi-literate peasants flooding over our own border each year from Mexico, to whom we owe exactly nothing, and who cost this country's taxpayers far more than the small amount they contribute to Americans other than wealthy business owners (remember, the Mexicans send many billions of dollars back home, taking that money out of the American economy).

Strict border enforcement and prosecution of large businesses that hire illegals, thorough social security number cross-checking, prohibition of wiring money out of the country by illegals, and a biometric ID system would cause many of these Mexican citizens to self-deport.

Meanwhile we could be acquiring a cohort of college-educated, productive workers who could be distributed across the country instead of being allowed to clump in huge ghettos in the Southwest where you can spend your whole life without integrating into American society--as do most Mexican citizens who are here illegally.

Where are the bleeding heart liberals when this issue is broached? Where are the Honor Above All conservatives?

Both are hypocrites unless they man up and propose something other than Bush's "let them eat cake" attitude. Yes, some who came over would be terrorists. We'd have to root them out. That fact is no excuse for straight-arming all the rest, who we owe big time.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Netiquette and Chelsea Clinton


Comment on WashingtonPost forum discussing Netiquette on WaPo forums--specifically, the vicious slanders posted as comments on an article about Chelsea Clinton: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/dot.comments/ 2008/04/chelsea.html

You don't necessarily have to screen postings beforehand, and I hope you don't ban noms de Web. But you should certainly blip outright slander and vicious diatribes of the sort I see here all too often. I keep wanting to say to such posters "You kiss your momma with that mouth?"

And as some other posters have hinted, I've seen some unhinged sorts simply flood a thread with one long posting after another, none even relevant to the site's topic.

I remember on a NYTimes forum (since closed) one far-left poster started cutting and pasting the lyrics to some political song over and over and over after someone criticized her for spamming the forum. It got downright bizarre.

And another guy kept posting the name, address, license plate number and phone number of some woman he had it in for, and did so in one forum after another, over and over. The guy was obviously a psycho. You'd have to be nuts NOT to deny nutcases like this a forum for their obsessions, up to and including blocking them.

My wife's on a forum for people with a certain medical condition, and one poster got banned for constantly posting pitches for an herbal "cure" she was selling.

This is the WaPo's website, and the WaPo has every right to require more or less civil discourse on it. If anybody doesn't like it they're free to set up their own Website, aren't they?

----------------------

As for Chelsea Clinton--I'm kind of dumbfounded by the vileness of some posters' messages. I've concluded that some people have become addicted to hate. It's a kind of high for them to send out this stuff. It's what a shrink would call "negative intimacy." Such people are terrified of normal human relationships because there you have to make yourself vulnerable to another person. They're too scared to risk that, but they want relationships, as do we all. So by hating with a blind fury they get a sense of relationship that risks nothing. Of course it's unsatisfactory, but it beats nothing in their minds.

These people go through life dealing out distress to everyone they touch. They're both pitable and dangerous. Most would probably do everyone a favor by going for a Darwin Award.

Chelsea Clinton herself probably has gotten a leg up by being a Clinton. But her command of intricate policy issues and rapidly growing aplomb in public forums are undeniable--this lady is really intelligent.

And I'm not saying this because I favor her mother. I don't, actually.

But even though I despise Bush the 2nd, I'm impressed by the career path his daughter Jenna is taking. She's obviously a good, genuine person, and her life reflects well on her parents, despite Bush II being one of the worst presidents in American history.

Amazing that ideologues (left AND right) become so flooded with hate that they can't give the devil his due. Or accord earned respect to the daughter of someone they dislike.

Hate junkies...

Ahmadinejad's BFF: Bush the 2nd


Reaction to an Andres Martinez WaPo column about the candidates' Iraq solutions:

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/stumped/2008/04/
the_democrats_iraq_dilemma.html

Let me add a few items I haven't noticed in Martinez' column or in other comments.

1. Did you know that Iraq had around a million Christians before our invasion? Many came from families that had been there for thousands of years. Most were middle class. Now the men have been mostly murdered by both Shiite and Sunni militias and the women and children driven into exile in Syria and Jordan, where they have no future.

This makes GOPers like Bush and Martinez the worst enemies of Christians on Earth today. Pretty ironic, huh?

2. Did you know that most of Iraq's middle class--Sunni, Shiite and Christian (and Turkomen and several other smaller groups) have also been driven out of Iraq and are refugees in Jordan and Syria? They're been driven out because the Islamofascists hate anyone with education (remember, Pol Pot's fanatics murdered Cambodia's middle class en masse as their first order of business).
The middle class has also been targeted by robbers and kidnappers.

3. Did you know that the Bush administration has told all the translators and other Iraqis who have worked for us "You're on you're own, pal." --even though all have been marked for death by the militias (Shiite and Sunni), along with their families.

Regardless of how well the war goes in Iraq, the Republican leadership has transformed that country permanently from a secular dictatorship into a quasidemocratic Islamist state that won't be safe for Christians and "collaborators" ever again, and not for its doctors and professors and other middle class people for many, many years.

Democrats and Republicans alike should recognize our moral responsibility to these 2-3 million Iraqis. If we took them in that would match two or three years' illegal immigration from Mexico and parts south--which we could staunch if we actually enforced existing laws on employers of illegals and enforced our borders.

Then instead of getting semiliterate peasants we'd get an educated workforce vastly more able to contribute to America and not just consuming social services while lining bosses' pockets.

We'd also get some Al Qaeda sleeper agents, probably. But no solution's perfect. And we'd at least do the honorable thing. Like the GOP keeps saying we should do, only they don't mention dealing with Iraq's refugee problem. That would be...well inconvenient. Next time some GOPer starts talking at you about Honor and Iraq--ask him what he proposes to do about the refugee crisis we created. Then you'll know whether he's actually honorable or just funnin' ya.

Even apart from the refugee issue--we all, Democrats and Republicans alike--have to face one fact: there is no simple, satisfactory solution in Iraq. To quote an old punk rock song:

Should we stay or should we go?
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da
Should we stay or should we go?
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da
If we go there will be trouble...
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da
If we stay there will double...
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da
All I really wanna know:
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da
Should we stay or should we go?

At every crossroads our Republican administration made the one choice that would make it as hard for us as possible in the future--and help Iran as much as possible in the present.

First we took out the major check to Iranian power. Then we ensured that it would have the same relationship to Iran that Lebanon has to Syria. Then we tied up all our military resources in Iraq (with a tad left over for the country that the attack on America actually came from), so if Iraq actually does something we couldn't do anything but drop bombs on them.

Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out Bush were actually an Iranian mole?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Double Standard

From today's Washington Post:

Navy Officer Says She Was Call Girl for Palfrey in 2004


A Navy officer testified in federal court today that she moonlighted as a call girl for Deborah Jeane Palfrey's escort service in 2004, when the military says she was assigned to the Naval Academy as a supply officer.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/10/
AR2008041002274.html

My comment:

Certainly she should get a dishonorable discharge--AFTER the Navy roots out and discharges every single member of the Navy who has ever paid for sex.

Yes, let's spend lots of taxpayer resources hunting down all these naughty people. After all, we've solved global warming, the Islamofascists' war on us, corporate corruption, political corruption, overpopulation, the biggest species die-off since the asteroid hit that took out the dinosaurs, illegal immigration, and street crime...

Oh, we haven't? Well, we've sure got our priorities all stiff and erect, don't we?

China vs. Tibet


Yesterday's Washington Post published an article about the Olympic torch hoo-raw and the whole China vs. Tibet issue:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/09/AR2008040900591.html

It engendered lots of reader comments--including one from me:

I just read through all the comments, which were as fascinating--and revealing--as the article itself. Three observations:

1. You can't refute an argument by changing the subject. The most common form of changing the subject is to impeach your opponent's motives--i.e., "How dare you accuse China of mistreating Tibet when you (America) mistreat Iraq."

But my motives are only relevant if my argument rests on my character (i.e., "trust me"). It has nothing to do with the facts I reference or the logic I use. Changing the subject to the accuser's motives may be the single most common fallacy used to stifle dissent.

Christ did say to adultress's accusers "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." It's a point well taken--that we shouldn't put ourselves on a pedestal unless we've earned it.

For example, it is true that America invaded, colonized and assimilated Hawaii around 1900 much as China invaded and colonized Tibet in 1950, and has been assimilating it ever since.

But that doesn't mean China didn't invade Tibet, now, does it? Nor does it mean that China isn't gradually replacing Tibetans with Han Chinese. And it doesn't mean that I can't point that out. I just can't do it from a pedestal.

Nor can I assert that all demographic changes and national boundaries should be rolled back to some arbitrarily chosen point in time. After all, the only place on Earth where humans are truly indigenous is the highlands of East Africa.

But I can assert that all humans should be treated at least as fairly has America has proven possible. We are, faults notwithstanding, the most successfully assimilated multicultural nation on Earth.
China is one of the least, with all non-Han Chinese minorities brutally suppressed if they call for any kind of regional autonomy. Sure, China has all sorts of nice-sounding laws on the books. But in a system with no system of checks and balances those laws are enforced at the whim of the ruling communist autocracy.

And you can see from the Tibetans' actions what they think of the communist Chinese imperial rule.

2. I observe with these letters how some Americans honestly hate their own country, and take an article about China and Tibet to go off on America, when America has never played even a minor role in the subject at hand. I can only assume, given the inappropriateness of their remarks, that these people had tyrannical parents and have transferred their seething resentment to all other authority figures, including their nation. I feel sorry for them.

3. I also observe how many Chinese respondents have a major chip on their shoulder. If only their regard for "face" extended to anyone else. I know from personal experience that Chinese tourists in Indonesia are among the most disliked there. They treat the locals like dirt, and only think a bargain is "fair" if they win and the poor shopkeeper loses. They have no concept of "win-win." And after they leave a shop it takes the shopkeeper an hour to clean up, because they toss the merchandise around so much. They show zero respect for local culture and customs--just as they show no respect for Tibetan culture and customs.

At least they're consistent.

As to China having any sort of legitimate claim to sovereignty over Tibet--that's pure Han Chinese propaganda. Look it up. The Tibetans are racially, culturally, linguistically, historically, and geographically distinct. They've put up with Chinese imperialism for the same reason that countries like Hungary put up with Soviet imperialism. Because they had to. But they always tried to play off their big neighbors--China, India, and the British Raj--off against each other, trying to preserve their country.

Communist China invaded and occupied Tibet in 1950. Don't let any Chinese apologist try to tell you otherwise, or try to rewrite history to give their Han imperialism any legitimacy beyond "might makes right."

And yes, Tibet was a backward, autocratic country. Now it's more modern, but the Han settlers there are the main beneficiaries of that modernism, as actual Tibetans get pushed aside. That's why they're so angry.

At the very least the Tibetans wanted to get the advantages of being part of a big, powerful country, as the Hawaiians and Puerto Ricans have. Instead they've gotten butkas. People don't riot in the face of overwhelming, brutal force for nothing. They only do so if the powers that be make their lives intolerable.

In Han Chinese culture family, friends, and country are everything. Everyone and everything else is nothing. The Tibetans know it. Now the rest of the world is learning it. If you think America is an imperfect superpower, wait 'till you see what China will be like.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Loaded language and the unspoken opposite

Every political label delivers its opposite silently.

If I'm pro-choice, you're anti-choice. If I'm pro-life, you're pro-death. If I'm a "person of color" you're either a colorless person or, if "colored," a traitor to your, um, color. If I'm pro-immigrant, you're anti-immigrant, even if you're only anti-illegal immigrant, even if you're really only against the ultrarich who benefit from illegal alien labor.

I don't have to say it in so many words. It's a stealth attack on the other side's honor and integrity--and it also preloads the argument in favor of your side's loaded questions and proposals.

These labels extend to dressing up bills and initiatives with similarly loaded terms. If my bill is called "No child left behind" then you want to leave children behind.

The only honest response is to not allow your opponent to use these terms that stack the deck, even if those terms are now in common parlance. "Master race" was in common parlance in Germany in the 1930s. That didn't make it right. Moreover, you have to give up whatever advantage you may get from using your own side's loaded words. If you do feel you must use some of these loaded terms, tack "so-called" in front of them like Malcolm X did.

This use of loaded terms is so common, so pervasive, that it's tempting--really, really, tempting--to just give in. All I can say to that is it's actually fun to challenge them all the time--as long as you show your willingness to give up your side's loaded terms as well.

One caveat: not all political terms are loaded, but most are. You could argue that "pro-choice" and it's unspoken antonym "anti-choice" are accurate and thus defensible. But an anti-abortion activist would argue that you're against the "unborn child" having a choice. But then you can challenge "unborn child" which is an oxymoron actually, since if a fetus gets "born" too soon you just get a dead fetus, not a born child. That's what a "miscarriage" is. Which is another loaded term, by the way, because there's nothing "mis-" about it. It's usually a woman spontaneously aborting a nonviable fetus. Period.

I would defend "illegal alien." It's the legal term, for one thing. And its antonym is "legal alien," the correct term for someone who's in this country legally. And that isn't pejorative. So this one doesn't fit the model of a term that carries a stealth load of propaganda against the other side.

Who's discriminated against more--blacks or chicks?


Today there are 43 self-identified blacks in Congress and 86 women. Given the numbers of so-called blacks and women citizens in America, that means women have HALF as much representation in Congress as blacks do.

Moreover, blacks got the vote in 1865 (OK, 1965 in the South), while women didn't get the vote anywhere in the United States until 1920 (women got the vote earlier in Utah before it was a state, but had to disenfranchise them in order to join the Union).

Lastly, if you look at all the talk about Clinton and Obama and filter out actual political commentary, you'll find vastly more invective aimed at Clinton based on her gender than you'll find aimed at Obama based on his putative race.

And no, I'm not saying any of this because I favor Clinton over Obama. I do, however, favor reality over fantasy--and I do believe that identity politics has greatly harmed our country's politics, both from Republicans and Democrats. They just pander to different identity groups, then blame the other side for practising identity politics. This is how tribal minds work.

Let's start thinking about tomorrow sez the GOP


Main GOP talking points include denying that the past matters. Whenever critics point to the massive failures in judgment that led to the Iraq war and occupation, they say that's all water under the bridge and a diversion from facing what we have to do now.

That's the same as telling a trucking company manager not to look at prospective employees' driving records. He should just ask them how they propose to drive a big rig, and whether they believe truckers should avoid making stupid decisions.

And journalists fall for this time after time. Of course with all the major news outlets firmly in the control of major corporations, it's no wonder. Not that the journalists are being told to pander to the pols. Not necessary. You just create a work environment based on the principle that "If it bleeds it leads. If it thinks it stinks." That's enough.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dear Abby falls for Multiple Personality Disorder hoax


Yesterday's Dear Abby personal advice column dealt with people suffering from "Multiple Personality Disorder," now tarted up with the new moniker "Dissociative Identity Disorder." Here's the letter I sent her:

Today's column discusses Dissociative Identity Disorder. But nowhere did you mention that many mental health professionals believe DID is just the latest in a long string of disorders that originate in the therapist's office, not in patients' real lives.

The symptoms feel real to sufferers, and may even continue to feel real long after sufferers learn that they have been hoodwinked.

You can see a good discussion in Scientific American Magazine--a reputable mainstream publication written for educated lay readers.

The article is titled
"Brain Stains: Traumatic therapies can have long-lasting effects on mental health."
See it at:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=brain-stains&print=true

The article shows how people who feel very troubled--and who are very suggestible--go to a therapist for help and come out more troubled than they were before they came in.

The therapist gives them a narrative that's internally consistent, even if it's at war with reality. But we humans are suckers for a coherent narrative, as every defense attorney--and every prosecutor--knows.

Many innocent people have suffered greatly because of hoaxes like DID.

One other cause for concern: if DID weren't a "fad disorder" it would be distributed evenly around the globe. Instead it's reported in the U.S. and Canada at least 10 times as often as anywhere else, and was only reported here after several movies were made popularizing it ("Sybil" and "Three Faces of Eve").

--sign me
"More than Skeptical"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Abortion, once more, the GOP's lifeline in stormy seas


The Washington Post's columnist Gershon (ex-Bush White House staffer) wrote an editorial today slamming anyone supporting Obama who opposes abortion. I entered this comment:

Don't let radical ideologues like Gerson get away with calling their position "pro-life."
If you don't agree with this position and let him call it "pro-life," then he's succeeded in labeling you as "pro-death." He doesn't have to say it in so many words. It just hangs in the air. Whenever you let someone frame the debate this way, you've lost before you began. You have to challenge the propagandists' assumptions and don't let them get into their talking points, which this essay provides in a textbook case of building a McMansion on a foundation of quicksand.

You have to ask "Hey there. Why are you calling me pro-death." He'll say "I didn't." You say "Oh yes you did. Unless you accept that I'm pro-life too. And of course I am. I'm pro-actually-alive people. Calling a dependent organism "alive" is just as true as calling your gall bladder alive. And just like a blastoplast, it has organic functions but can't live on its own.

"Moreover, you're being deceitful. When you say a fertilized ovum is "alive" in some way different from how a gall bladder is "alive," you mean to say that the fertilized ovum is a potential human being. This if false. Some are indeed potential human beings. But others are not, because they're so genetically defective that they can't even come to term. What lay people call "miscarriage" is usually the body spontaneously aborting a non-viable fetus. A non-viable fetus is not a potential human being.

Absent modern medical technology you can't know whether a fetilized ovum is a "potential human being" until it's born. Before then you're guessing, and in many, many cases you're guessing wrong.

"What you're really trying to get your listeners to think without you having to say it is that you believe that God sticks a soul in an egg at the exact instant that a sperm cell penetrates the egg's cell wall.

Only that's nonsense. First, it's based on a 19th century Catholic Pope's interpretation of early 19th century scientific understanding. It's not based on the Bible, which says exactly nothing about abortion, and only implies that fetuses have souls in a few isolated passages, and those only apply to fetuses that are well along in development--enough for the mother to feel the child moving inside her--the so-called "quickening."

21st century science proves that the Catholic Church's position is impossible even if you do believe in God, souls, the Bible etc. Because neither identical twins nor Chimeras occur at the moment of conception, nor, as far as we know, are their existences mandated by the condition of the fertilized egg, either entirely or in part. Sometimes an egg will divide into two organisms that later become identical twins. If the Pope and Gerson are correct, then identical twins either have half a soul each or one of them has no soul at all. Chimeras form even later, when two fertilized eggs merge and become a single fetus with a mosaic of DNA / organs from the two donor blastoplasts. Does someone who's a Chimera then have two souls? And what about ectopic pregnancies? Would a loving God park a soul in an ovum that not only has zero chance of coming to term but will--absent medical intervention--probably kill the mother in the process? Or anencephalic fetuses that a mother can bring to term but when born are unable to even breathe on their own and never will?

It was an amazingly effective piece of propaganda that the Catholic Church managed to convince Protestant fundamentalists that we get a soul at the instant of conception. And it's amazingly that fundies buy this when they say they strictly adhere to the words in the Bible, when this believe is patently non-Biblical.

So: don't let them call themselves pro-life, and don't let them call fetuses "unborn people" or anything like that.

And make them come out in the open about the basis of their beliefs: Catholic dogma based on obsolete and incomplete understanding of the morphology of reproduction.

Lastly, you can point out that Gershon and his ilk are direct hypocrites for not opposing the in vitro fertilization, which produces many thousands of destroyed embryos every year. Be sure to add that his stance, if applied logically, calls the parents holding their in vitro babies in their arms...baby killers. And if he doesn't, he's applying his own "logic" selectively. Which means it's partisan propaganda pure and simple, and nothing resembling the advocacy of life per se.