Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On The Internets 08.31.2010

  • President Obama will be addressing the nation tonight and announcing the official ending to combat operations in Iraq. Though we never should have gone into Iraq in the first place, I think we all can celebrate tonight that we are finally done with that war.
  • This is an unusual thing for me, but I am actually happy about something my Senator, Ben Nelson (D-NE), has done. Nebraska's right wing extremist Governor, Dave Heineman, sent a threatening letter to teachers throughout the state saying that if they did not support Nebraska's effort to repeal the Health Care Reform law passed this year, that he would slash education spending and fire teachers. The governor then cited a study that he himself commissioned that said that Medicare funding would have to be slashed under the new law, and since he wouldn't do that, it was teachers who would get the cuts. But his "facts" are dubious. Under the law, it is the federal government that would be paying the extra Medicare costs, not the states. Finally, for once, Senator Nelson stood up to the right wing misinformation machine and issued a statement that read in part, "It's...troubling that he's using that misinformation to intimidate groups involved in all aspects of our children's health, safety and education, pitting one against the other." Yes, it is troubling, Ben. Especially troubling when the Governor uses made up numbers and made up facts.
  • Do you think an incumbent Democrat could ever get away with refusing to debate an electoral opponent? For eight years? Of course not. But what's that old saying, "different standards for different parties?" Well, that's not really a saying, but in Iowa it is a reality. Right wing flamethrower Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has refused to debate his opponent in every election cycle since he was elected in 2002. He is refusing to debate this year, as well. When his Democratic challenger showed up at one of King's town halls, King didn't even recognize him and called on him for a question! The opponent, Matt Campbell, asked him a very straightforward question, "You have never debated an opponent in eight years since you’ve been in office and I’d like to know whether you this year will participate in a live televised debate for the viewers to be informed as to the decision they are making.” A staffer told King who the questioner was, and King arrogantly answered, "And my answer to that is that, judging by the fashion that you’ve conducted yourself, you have not earned it. Thank you. Next question." He hasn't earned it? WTF!? He is on the ballot you arrogant prick! By any reasonable standard, he has, in fact, earned it. King should be run out of Congress on a rail if his constituents had any brains. But King's district is pretty far to the right, so I guess that answers that.
  • Is being a bully part of being a Christian? I didn't think so, but according to James Dobson's Focus on the Family, yes it is. In an interview with The Denver Post, Focus on the Family's education analyst says that anti-bullying programs are a way to take away rights of Christians. "We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled...In many cases, these politicized bullying policies are being used as tools to undermine parental rights and censor or marginalize students and parents with differing viewpoints." As with everything they see, Focus on the Family contends that anti-bullying programs are a way to "advance the gay agenda." I just wonder why Focus is so obsessed with gay people. Seems a little unhealthy to me, and yet another way religion is used to divide people and advance hate.
  • One of the most well-known climate change deniers, Bjørn Lomborg, has changed his tune. Lomborg, an economist, has long been cited by conservative climate change deniers as the go to source for information, but I guess that will start to change. "But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. 'Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century.' Examining eight methods to reduce or stop global warming, Lomborg and his fellow economists recommend pouring money into researching and developing clean energy sources such as wind, wave, solar and nuclear power, and more work on climate engineering ideas such as 'cloud whitening' to reflect the sun's heat back into the outer atmosphere." How long before he is attacked by the right? I give it a week at the most before he's up on Glenn Beck's chalkboard.
  • Obama is a Muslim! Obama isn't an American! Obama wants to impose sharia law on America! Obama bailed out Wall Street! Where do people get this obviously false information, and why when confronted with facts that refute their claims, do they still believe it? Tunku Varadarajan has an interesting post at Daily Beast describing the psychology behind believing - and continuing to believe when dis-proven - myths that can be very easily shown to be false. "But what does all this stem from? And is the explanation for it as simple as David Brooks suggests, in pinning the blame on 'mental flabbiness' and a national 'metacognition deficit'? And how is the Obama-is-a-Muslim brand of ignorance different from the other sorts of disconnects between perception and reality that are rife in American society, not merely in politics, but in our approaches to science, culture, history and business?"
  • For being fresh out of the big house, Lindsay Lohan sure is looking good. These pictures were snapped of her the other day enjoying her post-jail freedom. She is a mess, but she is a hot mess.


T. Paine said...

I am glad the Iraq war is over...if it truly is over.

Regarding King, you are right. He owes it to his constituents to debate his challengers. I do not understand his unwillingness to do so. It isn't like a progressive is going to be able to beat him in a debate based on ideas and policies.

Bullying in any form is wrong. Unfortunately most "anti-bullying" rules are put in place for reasons of poltical correctness and to curb free speech. Even a kid, or perhaps especially a kid, should be able to say that something is morally wrong without fear of institutional punishment. I love the fact that the left is for free speech unless something is said with which they disagree.

I feel sorry for Lohan. What a sad life she must lead.

Dave Splash said...

I hope it really is over, as well. I think, though, that after so many years of training that if the Iraqi military cannot stand on its own by now, it may never do so.

RE: King. He is an arrogant SOB. He would likely win no matter who debated him, but I think his refusal shows that he lacks the intellect to be seriously challenged on his wacky ideas. He's like a male Michelle Bachmann.

I don't really understand your argument regarding bullying. Bullys don't have an agenda other than beating you up and (maybe) taking your lunch money. Turning the anti-bullying thing into some baseless argument (like Focus on the Family does) about Christian oppression is crazy. Literally. Does one have the right to beat up another for having a different religion? Is it okay for a bully to beat up a gay kid, just because he's gay? Is that bully being denied his first amendment rights because he can't pummel the crap out of that gay kid?

I think Focus on the Family is going off the deep end with this one. Their views on this issue make even less sense than their views on most things.

T. Paine said...

I think where the confusion lies is this. I absolutely agree with you that a "bully" does not have the right to beat the crap out of or even touch anyone else aggressively.

The problem is that a lot of schools etc are enacting these "anti-bullying" rules that say a child cannot even speak out against another child for doing something they are taught is wrong.

If a high school kid were approached about supporting the schools gay/lesbian/transgender club and spoke up that he thought such a club and its purpose was wrong or immoral, then he could conceivably be persecuted under such rules for his intolerance and thus his being a "bully".

I suspect that is where Focus on the Family is going with this too.

Or do you think that people don't have a right to speak up against things they think are wrong?

Dave Splash said...

In more than one Supreme Court decision, it was ruled that high school kids don't actually have full First Amendment protection while in school. So, technically, no.

And as far as the "right to speak up against things they think are wrong," how far does that go? If a family is against inter-racial dating, does their kid have a right to confront an interracial couple and call them all kinds of hateful names or wear a t-shirt expressing that view?

This issue is mostly about homosexuality. I don't see being gay versus having your religion tell you that gays are evil or sinners or going to hell as on an equal footing from a speech perspective in a public school. One can harbor whatever views one wants to regarding being gay, but I don't think that just because you hold those views it entitles you to confront gay people and give them your unsolicited advice/preaching.

Merely being gay is not, in and of itself, being anti-Christian or Muslim or even Orthodox Jewish. But it seems to me that, according to Focus on the Family, it is. They appear to want the right to "counter" the mere existence of gay students with their anti-gay views. I don't think that is appropriate, since like I said, someone being gay is not an intentional attack or critique of anyone's religion. That's not the case in the reverse.

T. Paine said...

Dave, I understand and to a certain extent even agree with your point.

I don't think it is smart for unsolicited commentary to be espoused towards anyone in a school environment. That is not what I was advocating by the way.

That being said, I also think it is unwise for some schools to facilitate controversial "clubs" such as gay/lesbian clubs that would necessarily invoke a contrary statement as to their purpose or moral propriety, particularly in a school environment.

Dave Splash said...

We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.