My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy Senator who knows this kid who’s going with the girl major network journalist who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night some secret Benghazi emails. I guess it’s pretty serious.
Might I just add that this rightwing obsession with Benghazi where Benghazi has grown to become 9/11 times the Holocaust plus the Rape of Nanking, is the most amazing wingnut freakout that I’ve seen since Hillary murdered her lesbian lover, Vince Foster, in Fort Marcy Park with a candlestick.
Here is Pollack’s theory: Christie is praising Obama because Mitt Romney is so far ahead that it doesn’t matter.
“But the truth about Christie’s outreach to Obama is blindingly obvious: Mitt Romney is now running away with this election, freeing Christie to praise the president without fear that doing so will tip the scales.”
I was equally parts busy today as well as being on my best behavior so I did not wade into this post where I might of accidentally trampled some sand castles and knocked over some sparkle ponies, but it seems a heapin’ helpin’ of our brethren and sistren have a new neon idol in Matt Stoller ( who seems to be polishing up his resume since Pat Caddell can’t live forever … can he?) and they are rising to Matt’s defense because, who better to lead them out of the wilderness than a guy who policy advised Alan Grayson to a one and out congressional term, right? Anyway, they are planning on destroying the village in order to save it and, as a bonus if you act now, drone-kill capitalism, reform the electoral process, turn water into wine with THEIR GOODNESS, and set up “Welcome Komradez!” tables up to process the masses who will see the light of sweet reason just like they did when they went through a similar cultural upheaval back in 2000:
Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke 2,882,000 votes
Which created the Great Gratitude Groundswell that led to the Green Revolution of 2004:
David Cobb and Pat LaMarche 119,859 votes
If I remember correctly this was followed by harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding, no more falsehoods or derisions, only golden living dreams of visions as well as a mystic crystal revelation of the mind’s true liberation.
Your mileage may have varied.
I should note that, with only a few days left, I’ve pretty much given up on trying to reason with people who treat a quadrennial election as “practice for crisis moments”. I think my time might be better spent with chatting amiably with people who think the moon landing was faked. They seem so much more grounded.
Vote for whomever, but just vote, okay?
§ § §
To recap Matt Boyle’s game-changing sex-scandal (MUST CREDIT DAILY CALLER!): Divorced New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez may or may not have sex with two very shy, but ‘beautiful’ prostitutes in the Dominican Republic where prostitution is legal.
Coming up; Matt Boyle’s 7-part investigation into allegations that gambling and prostitution is going on this very moment in Harry Reid’s home state and REID TOTALLY KNOWS ABOUT IT!!!!!
§ § §
Lastly, going out on a limb and presuming that Barack Obama somehow manages to eke out an electoral college win over Dr. Mrs. St. Jill Stein, as well as keeping in mind that Hillary Clinton has already declared her intention to step down as Secretary of State, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more speculation that Obama might make her his next Supreme Court nominee as payment for not only for services rendered for the past four years but also for the Big Dog’s yeoman work on the campaign these past few months. Given Hillary’s stint in the Senate where she seems to have acquired many Republican admirers, it would be gamesmanship of the highest order and hella fun to watch. You may argue below.
As with almost all of the big questions Obama and Romney both have rotten politics when it comes to the environmental causes of global warming.
Obama and Romney support the polluters who policies create global warming and the megastorms that have caused havoc. from hurricanes like Andrew, Katrina, Sandy (they should be named for BP, Obama, Romney, Chevron etc.) and the two outbreaks of killer tornadoes last April 14-16 that killed 38 people in 16 states and the April 27-28 outbreak that destroyed Joplin, Mo., produced 305 tornadoes in half a dozen states and killed over 300 people.
“WASHINGTON — In a dramatic reversal, President Barack Obama on Friday scrubbed a clean-air regulation that aimed to reduce health-threatening smog, yielding to bitterly protesting businesses and congressional Republicans who complained the rule would kill jobs in America’s ailing economy.
Withdrawal of the proposed regulation marked the latest in a string of retreats by the president in the face of GOP opposition, and it drew quick criticism from liberals. Environmentalists, a key Obama constituency, accused him of caving to corporate polluters…”Huffington Post 09 12 11
“In a broad appeal to U.S. voters, President Obama said Tuesday that he will open more than 75% of potential offshore oil and gas resources to exploration and, at the same time, produce enough clean energy on public land to power 3 million homes.” Greenhouse 01 24 2012 “Clean” energy is politicspeak for “I’m taking bribes from Big Oil and Big Coal.”
Romney is just as bad. ” After raising nearly $10 million in Texas oil money in two days, Mitt Romney announces an energy plan on the Texas-New Mexico border later today that includes billions of dollars in giveaways to industry contributors. Romney will call for extensive expansion of oil and gas drilling – including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas – and eliminating most federal safety and environmental standards that govern the development of energy resources on our public lands. This corporate polluter agenda should come as no surprise, as the Washington Post noted: “Romney’s plan caters heavily to oil and coal interests, and oil executives are some of his biggest benefactors.”Think Progress 08 23 2012
Vote socialist, write in Brad Manning or sit it out. We don’t have a horse in this race.
It appears there are two universes operating here in the blogosphere.
One universe is the world of rational debate, in which people test each other's arguments with reasons. This is the universe in which the phenomenon Jurgen Habermas called the "rationalization of the lifeworld" is allowed to exist, with the potential in hand for what Habermas called "communicative action." In this universe, arguments are respectfully tested to see if their claims measure up to reality, to the moral standards of individuals and of society, and to human beings' inner longings for satisfaction. This is a universe of human beings working with words to discern truth, through the vehicles of credibility. We can call this universe the universe of communicative action, or the public sphere.
In the other universe, the bandwagon effect rules, and argument isn't worth anything. This universe seems to pop up with greater ferocity in the mass panic that attends the run-up to elections — without regard to the inappropriateness of such a universe to the situation which it confronts, or for that matter to any social situation. What matters in this other universe is cheerleading, and conformity of advocacy. This is the universe of the sacred and the profane. Among the sacred are those who defend what's good and true, and among the profane are those who dare to question. Testing assertions is sacrilege in this universe.
There is a certain futility to this universe: if argument isn't worth anything, then any sort of "public sphere" or even a semi-public, semi-private sphere such as, say, DailyKos.com, becomes a mere echo chamber:
Without a doubt the two universes, the universe of communicative action and the universe of the sacred and the profane, coexist in the Internet because of the dual public/ private character of the Internet. The Internet offers a public sphere, in which individuals of different persuasions may at times exchange opinions. Oh, sure, there is a sort of "mailed in" character to Internet exchanges — words on the Internet are just pixels on the screen, and these pixels are already pre-selected for your consumption. So people select the pixels with which they already agree. This is backed up by research:
Research has confirmed that the Internet exerts a polarizing force on the electorate. In his 2011 book The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser writes about how search engines and social networks filter out dissenting opinions and offer users only what they want to see. Google and Yahoo draw on a user’s past search preferences when responding to queries, meaning that over time a liberal and a conservative might receive ideologically opposite search results having entered identical information. (Pariser recounts how a conservative entering the letters “BP” into Google received stock tips, whereas a liberal was linked to news stories on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.)
Similar work by Cass Sunstein, the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, shows how the Internet creates “echo chambers” where users surround themselves only with the like-minded.
So, to be sure, there is this echo chamber thing going on with the Internet. The Internet separates out into separate universes of sacred and profane, where the various true believers congregate in the echo chambers. But occasionally Internet site owners will allow differences of opinion, and exchanges of these differences, to be voiced. Usually these exchanges end badly: what you get is combative interaction, and nobody really learns anything. Sometimes, however, you get instructive exchanges on the Internet. These exchanges were something our society once called "genuine debate."
One thing that can promote instructive exchange on the Internet are open discussions of how to argue. We can promote the universe of communicative action by spelling out the difference between an exchange of opinion that merely ends up in combative interaction, and one that is actually productive of some greater truth that opposing sides can accept. Only more promotion of the universe of communicative action will, ultimately, persuade people to one's way of thinking.
Once upon a time, back in July of 2010, I wrote a diary that attempted to provide such an open discussion, and by extension the universe of communicative action. This was a very popular diary, making the Rec List, and receiving 400 tips in the "tip jar," and a diary which explored the extent to which DailyKos.com itself was part of the universe of communicative action. It was written in the context of the controversy surrounding Obama administration policy. This diary was called "On the Ad Hominem Argument," and I wrote it largely in defense of critics of Barack Obama. Its relevance continues to this day.
In this piece, I choose to focus upon ad hominem attacks. The problem was this: instead of discussing actual arguments for and against Obama policies, participants in DailyKos.com (and other Internet sites) adopted a cheap routine of blaming the sources of these arguments. Here's how I phrased it:
…just because Cenk Uygur or Jane Hamsher or David Sirota or Rachel Maddow or Ed Schulz (or for that matter Grover Norquist or Joe Lieberman or Rand Paul) makes a particular argument ("claim X") does not mean that "claim X" can be dismissed outright because Cenk Uygur or Jane Hamsher or David Sirota or Rachel Maddow or Ed Schulz or Grover Norquist or Joe Lieberman or Rand Paul is a "tool" or "stupid" or "self-aggrandizing" or "mendacious" or whatever insult one might apply to anyone who makes an argument.
Or, put more simply:
Arguments do not count as "true" or "untrue" merely by virtue of whomever said them.
There is, I argued, an antidote to the ad hominem argument. Here's how I phrased it:
The way around the ad hominem argument, the ONLY way around it, is to EXAMINE THE ARGUMENT ITSELF.
"Examining the argument itself," my proposed solution to ad hominem combative interaction, is of course the heart and soul of the universe of communicative action. It's good against all sorts of dismissals (and not just ad hominem dismissals). This is important to remember. The universe of communicative action is enriched when people examine arguments, rather than engaging dismissive squabbles. This doesn't mean that you have to accept everyone's argument as valid. It does, however, mean that if you want to promote the universe of communicative action, you should test the arguments of others with reasons, rather than dismissing them outright. Many arguments will doubtless fail your tests. But you will at least have granted them a hearing.
My diary, then, was an appeal to the universe of communicative action in a place which (given the reactions I got) was very much open to that universe. Well, that was DailyKos.com, back then.
Nowadays DailyKos.com appears to have drifted into the universe of the sacred and the profane. It provides a fertile environment for diaries such as this one:
I don't expect to see another democratic candidate like Barack Obama in my lifetime.
Here is one of my favorite passages from this diiary:
This Barack Obama is smarter than this country will let him be. Make no mistake about it, this president is a prisoner of US—our collective reluctance to catch up to him.
This writer considers herself a "democratic socialist" — which stylizes the appeal to the sacred here. You can "disagree with" Obama's policies, all you want, over at DailyKos.com — as long as you write nice love letters to him, and preserve the division of sacred and profane that site owner Markos Moulitsas is determined to enforce upon contributors to his site. Also, site participants are warned: don't get too deeply into those disagreements — the idea of not voting for Barack Obama next Tuesday is now something that you don't want to "go there" over at DailyKos.com
The diary I've cited is also interesting as a site of recent bannings –the site owner kicked a number of people off of DailyKos.com for having ventured into the land of the profane. So, for instance, this commenter has been banned:
This "love letter" to a man who has done much the same evil as did George W. Bush.
Anyone who wants to play the "no difference" card can go fuck themselves.
Now, a well-documented argumentative journey into the land of what site owner Markos Moulitsas considers the profane has in fact been made — and it was cited by this now-banned comment author:
And now Matt Stoller has made an equally devastating socioeconomic case against Obama in Salon.
Now, in my opinion Matt Stoller makes a meaningful case for not voting for Obama that 1) avoids the desultory, self-contradictory, and ultimately racist arguments against Obama made by Republicans, while 2) suggesting reasons why a vote for Obama will neither accomplish anything significant for any "progressive" cause, nor will it effectively prevent anything onerous which the Republicans might propose. Markos Moulitsas' counter-offer: "Anyone who wants to play the 'no difference' card can go fuck themselves." Were you persuaded by this?
Stoller won't, of course, get a hearing over at DailyKos.com . Nor can I say for sure that Stoller is entirely correct and Moulitsas entirely wrong. But Markos Moulitsas just isn't going to make a persuasive case for Barack Obama by shutting down the universe of communicative action, through outright dismissals of those who make a case for voting for someone else.
How does actual persuasion work, in real life? This topic is too broad for exposition here — but let me suggest a metaphor here that might provide some insight into the process. One of my favorite metaphors for actual persuasion is the "Chair Theory of arguing." This comes from Jack Rawlins, author of a writing textbook titled The Writer's Way:
The Chair Theory of arguing says imagine your reader sitting in a room full of chairs, each chair representing an argumentative position. She is sitting in the chair that represents her opinion. You're sitting in your own chair, some distance away. Your goal as arguer is to convince her to get out of her chair and move to the chair next to you. What makes a person willing to move toward someone? Does a person come toward you if you tell her, "You're an idiot for sitting in that chair…"
Does that help any?
Meanwhile, we can count on being exposed, throughout the political Internet to another week of the Fish Good Guys/ Bad Guys Cheer. The power! The glory! Feh. Real argumentation actually persuades. Dismissals, cheerleading, and other appeals to the sacred/ profane only appeal to already-converted true believers.
You and I are getting ready to tape a debate on the question of whether to vote for Obama (in “swing states”). It will air on Lila Garrett’s “Connect the Dots” show on KPFK next Monday. I’m looking forward to it, if for no other reason, because I think our public discourse lacks much serious debate between people who respect each other’s intentions. I have nothing but respect for you and believe you mean nothing but the best in advocating votes for Obama. You honestly believe I was catastrophically wrong to vote for Jill Stein in Virginia, as I’ve done, and I honestly believe you are horrendously misguided to be expending your valuable energy trying to get others to vote for Obama. And yet we’ll be friends through this and regardless of whether one or both of us ever change our minds.
An hour debate will also be a refreshing change from the usual sound byte simplification of the media, and yet not necessarily sufficient. So, let me tell you a couple of stories.
I wandered over to the Obama campaign office here in Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was scheduled to visit. She showed up, in fact, and told everyone how terrific Obama is.
I asked Albright whether she still believed that killing a half a million young Iraqi children was “worth it.” She said that she very much regretted having made that remark. But did she regret having enacted the sanctions that killed those children? I asked if she opposed the current “crippling sanctions” on Iran, and she said that she did not.
I’m not so much troubled by Albright’s sanctioning of mass murder, as by the agreement with her on the part of the many people gathered to applaud her comments. Not a single person present expressed the slightest concern over Albright’s having taken part in the murder of so many young lives and many more older ones. Not a single person expressed an interest in learning about a history they were perhaps ignorant of. Not a single person offered an argument for what the positive “it” was that could have made such slaughter “worth it.” Not a single person offered a claim that George Bush Sr. or Bob Dole would have killed even more children.
I don’t mean to give the impression that Albright’s audience was comatose. On the contrary, numerous individuals began grabbing me, shouting at me, pushing me, grabbing my camera, twisting my arm, and spitting out the most vicious hatred. In theory they would all, no doubt, agree that in a system of self-governance people should be able to question their elected officials, former elected officials, and at-large mass-murdering former elected officials. But in this case, this official was playing for the Good Team. The proper role, they believed, therefore, was that of cheerleaders, the highest value deferential respect.
If you live in California, thanks to the Electoral College system, the box you check next Tuesday in the section of your ballot for the two presidential candidates won’t make an iota of difference to the outcome of the election. But further down the ballot is the second (if not first) most important vote in the country: Proposition 32.
That’s no exaggeration. If Prop 32 passes, it will warp the landscape of California politics dramatically and permanently, by outlawing voluntary payroll deduction for political spending. That sounds technical and mundane, but the upshot is that Prop 32 would effectively silence the political voice of the labor movement while leaving the lobbying power of big corporations untouched.
That matters whether you care about workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT equality, environmental protections, healthcare access, public education or any number of other issues: unions have fought for them all. And if Prop 32 passes in the bluest state in the nation, there’s no question that the Koch Brothers and the measure’s other right-wing corporate funders will make sure copycat measures appear on ballots all over the country in the next few years.
To learn the details of the initiative, its funders and its heinous likely consequences, check out Frying Pan News’ special investigative series on the measure. Or, if you’re short on time, just hit play on the short nature documentary video at the top of this post, brought to you by the Courage Campaign (and produced – full disclosure – by my own production house, Dog Park Media).
Hello everyone! Phoenix here, enjoying a nice dry Samhain and thinking about the things that go bump in the night as they search for beef chow mein. (Which, by the way, you really can get at Lee Ho Fook’s. Seriously.)
A-hoooooooo! (Or as Jesse Ventura would say, A-HOOOOOOO!) I’d better make sure the Fluffy White Couch Dogs stay inside tonight!
There is a hint of a chill in the air as the leaves of the trees bleed out their spectrum colors, fall is culminating and succumbing. The Hallows Eve approaches, as the land of mythical and magical, fearsome and fanciful. I was shown something special, something of which I can only share a part of.
Hollywood couldn’t make up such a story as this. A ways off in the woods, not too far from here, lost in an urban wilderness there in an obscurity, a curiosity, an item left behind and almost forgotten. A historical relic, like a civil war belt buckle, only this belt buckle covers many acres. Traversing the grounds we would find the odd bits and pieces of a buried past, sleeping covered by a moss, and pine straw blanket, old red bricks mixed in with cob rough pieces of mortar and concrete.
But first, you must first drive up the hill about a half a mile on an old brick road. A road laced with red brick pavers which should more rightly be painted yellow for they lead up to a ridge of fantasy, mayhem and magic. When you reach the end of this brick service road, there is an aging rusted steel guard rail separating yesterday from today, signifying the beginning and the end of our realm. The forest canopy was lush when I first saw it, turning a bright sunny afternoon to the light of shaded overcast. It was dark, with just a hint of moisture in the air, some how just enough, to let you know that this story is going to involve water.
Climbing up to the top of the ridge you can see we are surrounded by water on three sides, bordered by a steep terrain. To me at least, this says, that whatever the purpose of this facility, confinement was at least a peripheral issue. Stepping beyond the rusting monument and into the deep foliage, in a near ten steps she stands before you in all her raging glory. She is a crumbling concrete bridge, fancy, with all the trimmings. She’s at least a hundred feet long spanning in an arc pattern with concrete sconces build onto alternating arched bridge pilings. [cont’d.]
Preserve Marriage Washington, the group opposing approval of Referendum 74 and Washington’s freedom to marry law, has for the first time responded to reports of their apparent purchase of fake Facebook “likes”, saying:
RE: “PMW Facebook Scam”
PMW maintains its own Facebook page. We have told our vendors explicitly, ‘Do not buy likes.’ We are investigating these claims.
Yeah, sure they’ll investigate these claims. I’m holding my breath.
PMW had plenty of prior notice that this was happening, from month-old blog posts to comments on their own Facebook page. Convenient that PMW only pretends to care when the campaign is almost over. So much for honest online community engagement.
I wonder: if PMW maintains its own Facebook page, as they claim, then why do they need to confer with vendors?
“Virtual communities and causes that appear on social media platforms such as Facebook demand the same commitment to authenticity as place-based communities,” said Anita Verna Crofts, associate director of University of Washington’s Master of Communication in Digital Media program. “The practice of buying Facebook likes erodes trust with the public and in the case of advocacy-oriented initiatives, undermines the organization’s message.”
“Buying social media audiences is not difficult,” said Beth Becker, the owner and strategist for Progressive PST, which consults with clients on online engagement. “The problem is it’s fake, it’s inauthentic. People engage in social media to engage with people they know, people they’d like to know and organizations they support. At the end of the day, the number of likes a page has on Facebook is a pretty empty number. I call it the numbers fallacy. It has to be social, it has to be authentic and if an organization is not doing it, and creating a false environment, it’s simply not real.”
Starting Monday I’ve been politicizing #Sandy. Specifically I tweeted.
I can almost hear in my head the right wing radio blowhards responding to this comment with their mocking strawman “The left want you to believe that WE are responsible for hurricane Sandy! Preposterous! It’s like when they blamed Bush for Katrina! My friends, these are “Acts of God! We had nothing to do with it!”
My second tweet was in response to their probably response:
Climate change is an Act of Humans and it contributed to #Sandy therefore #Sandy is no longer just an Act of God.
Was this [hurricane Sandy] an unavoidable act of nature? Or was this something caused directly by changes to Earth’s climate that have happened because we burn fossil fuels which increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
Again, there’s not an easy answer. And, again, part of the problem here is that we’re expecting science to operate on the scale of American media news cycles, which doesn’t really work. We want to talk about this while the storm is raging or, barring that, at least immediately afterwards. But scientists aren’t really going to have anything particularly deep to say about this specific storm for months, if not years. During that time, data will be analyzed and compared, and other events will happen, and that’s really the stuff that we need in order to say much of anything other than, “We don’t know for certain.” In some ways, expecting anything else means forcing scientists to speculate and extrapolate in ways they aren’t usually comfortable with and that aren’t a terribly great way to understand the big picture.
[Emphasis mine because that is a really important insight.]
I was once explaining the American media to a Ph.D. in physics I was working with, he got very annoyed with the way the media worked. “But Spocko, in science things rarely are 100% certain, yes there is a high correlation of this cause with that effect, but it is only one factor in a complex system.” Another creator of high-end technology didn’t like the way his comments about scientific reality got twisted by his competition and picked up by the media. I helped them both find metaphors they felt comfortable with and then helped them switch to teaching mode to educate the different media outlets they were going to talk to. But they both wanted the media to be something it wasn’t and something they wished it was.
She makes the case that weather is complex, “Hurricane Sandy could be both a completely natural occurrence and a product of climate change. Simultaneously. Some of the factors that caused this storm might be nature-made. Others might be man-made. And teasing apart which factors were responsible for which aspect of the storm’s damage is incredibly hard.”
So if scientists can’t tell you whether Sandy, specifically, was caused by climate change does that mean we just wait for the all the data to come out years from now? No. Because in the mean time the people who want to deny that climate change is real and impacts us will exploit anything less than 100% certainty. That’s what they do. That is their job. That is why they are getting paid millions.
If you knew that a group of people – through their attitudes, actions and policies, led to the death of someone you loved would you want to tell people about this group? Would you want to talk about them and what they are doing right now, when you are feeling the anger and pain of loss? Would you demand change? Or would you listen to the same group of people telling you, “Now is not the time for recrimination and blame.”
Anger can change the configuration of your thoughts. If moves people. It gets people to change their attitudes, actions and sometimes their politics. And if you are on the other side of righteous anger you will use all sorts of methods to calm the angry people down. Because angry people demand change.
One of the games the right plays is when something happens that they know could lead to change, “in the heat of the moment” they start screaming.”Let’s not politicize this tragedy!” I see it after every single mass shooting. Why do they do that? Does it really come from their deep feelings of respect for the family of the dead? I’m sure there are some who think this way. But I think it is more about using “respect for the family of the dead” as a shield to prevent change.
The other group of people who worry about talking about the root cause of some event are people who think that change happens only with reasoned debate “in the cold light of day.” They don’t want to be accused of exploiting the tragedy. They believe that it is distasteful and disrespectful or that it dishonors the death of the person. This works out great for the people who want the status quo to continue. Personally, if someone can use my death to make changes so others don’t die I say, “Do it! Make it so! Engage!”
So how can we actually politicize #Sandy? I’m starting by calling them out.
“Hey right wingers who deny climate change, blood from this storm is on your hands. This is not a simple “Act of God”. Men and woman who have your attitudes, have taken your actions and implemented your policies have led to this. Changes need to be made.
Might there have been a hurricane without their involvement? Yes. Might people have died in that hurricane? Yes. Weather is complex, but it is a scientific fact that the human-caused temperature increases have led to intensity of storms. And now it’s time to stop lying and quit blocking policies that lead to climate change.”
If you aren’t the kind of person who gets angry and makes demands for change there is still something you can do. Keep linking climate change to extreme weather events and specifically the human related actions that lead to it. Because as Maggie concludes, climate change is real and we need to care about it. I say, let’s do something about it.