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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,869

Journal Archives

No. It's irrational to reduce violence to statistics.

We don't lump every societal ill into one bucket. Many people die in car crashes, but we need cars, and therefore accept that risk. Or, to counter the latest pro-gun propaganda, we need doctors, and therefore accept that some of them will make lethal mistakes.

To reduce the problem with gun violence or mass murder to the "likelihood" of it happening to one particular person is a specious variety of "pragmatism" accepted by virtually no one, because we make qualitative distinctions in our civilization. The same logic would say that any social ill is irrelevant, compared to natural causes.

Why worry about murder at all, when cars and heart disease are vastly more "likely" to hurt people?

Because we have zero need for heavily armed paranoid people shooting up our neighborhoods, schools, and shopping malls.

Because we have no use for stupid men with rifles meandering around fast food restaurants.

Because we do not accept the risk that people will absorb so much rightwing propaganda that they will actually murder a pair of cops eating pizza "for freedom."

Because we have zero need for mass murder, and it does harm beyond the immediate list of casualties.

There is no tradeoff for these things. They are the selfish and stupid results of the worst of human impulses.

And of course, none of this is just a question of the "number" of deaths. It is the atmosphere of rage and senseless violence, and the poisonous, rationality-killing rhetoric that goes into supporting it.

You don't end up with a horrible culture because you have a lot of cars, and a corresponding number of auto accidents. You get a horrible culture when people do horrible things.

Every risk is not the same. Every death is not the same. Life and culture and society are not a set of numbers.

We know better than this.

We embrace anti-intellectualism more than other

developed countries. Check the statistics on how many people in other developed countries doubt evolution or climate change. We're way up there. Or down there, as the case may be.

Edit: Here's one. In 2006, we were second to worst in terms of doubting evolution. Just above Turkey.


I bet we haven't improved since then.

Other countries have hateful rhetoric, racism; religious bigotry. General ignorance and tribalism are pretty universal.

But I don't see people in France or Denmark gaining nationwide constituencies based on the idea that scientists are lying to us about the age of the Earth or evolution.

It's a useful political tool -- holding the idea of hewing to completely irrational beliefs as a right. I think we're seeing it more and more because the things American conservatives want are harder and harder to justify.

If you can just throw out the entire notion of reason, you can justify anything you want. Like murdering cops in a pizza joint because government itself is some kind of evil conspiracy. It's not that big a leap from claiming tax cuts for the rich "pay for themselves" or that healthcare reform is a conspiracy to "kill Grandma."

Others do irrational, sure. But we're better at it than most.

Have you noticed how sparse are the mentions of the Gadsden Flag?

When it started it cropping up, here and there, yesterday, I noticed the headlines for (politically opinionated) blogs and so forth put that fact up front. Networks not only kept it out of the headlines, but barely mentioned it all.

I'm not much for bashing the reliability of "main stream media" in general -- blogs and so forth can be even worse -- but the fact that a the signature symbol for a public, vocal, U.S. political faction was invoked by terroristic spree killers targeting cops seems worth mentioning to me.

Can you imagine if they'd left an anarchy symbol or a peace sign or a rainbow flag on the bodies of their victims?

At what point does the automatic conservative entitlement to the benefit of the doubt fail? When do we get to talk about the problem with their entire point of view, not with a few "lone nuts?"

Not when they talk about "Second Amendment remedies, or when they bring guns to rallies, apparently. Not when they aim rifles at federal officials. Not when they claim the right to waltz into the Gas 'n Sip with rifles and laugh at anyone who feels "uncomfortable with that."

And now, not when they drape their f'ing FLAG over people murdered in cold blood?

How long, I wonder

... before groups of people concerned about the intentions of open-carriers take up their own weapons and shadow them as they go about their Taco-purchasing and mother-mocking activities?

If all of this is Constitutionally protected, we should arrive shortly at competing groups of heavily armed "good guys" stalking each other around shopping malls and fast food joints.

Which would suit the NRA / gun manufacturing lobby perfectly. Eventually everyone will be hauling their military-style weapons and body armor with them everywhere, on constant alert for whichever of their fellow Armed Citizens might have ill intent.

Sales will be spectacular.

Should go well.

The NSA is supposed to serve "national security."

It's right there in the name. The NSA does not have a mandate to just generally spy on the entire world.


1) The OP is wrong about routers not being made in the U.S.

When Greenwald revealed Snowden's alleged evidence of NSA spying, it turned the tables on the U.S., with network buyers in some countries avoiding U.S.-made gear. Cisco Systems, the world's biggest seller of networks, has said worries about the NSA affected its business in China.

2) The OP is wrong that Greenwald's report is nutty conspiracy theory. The actual nutty conspiracy theory here is that his reporting is some fiendish libertarian attack on President Obama.

3) The NSA was caught in a large public hypocrisy after warning Americans about Chinese made routers being compromised, while simultaneously engaging in that exact activity itself.

And of course, we already know that more than routers have been tapped. NSA reports indicate it tapped directly into Google's network.

The new charge vastly expands the scope of alleged NSA spying beyond the interception of traffic across the Internet, said Ranga Krishnan, a technology fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As an example, he pointed to reports from the Snowden documents that the NSA had tapped into Google's own fiber network among its data centers, where the company hadn't encrypted the traffic at all.

"That's how most organizations function," Krishnan said. "So once you're within the company's router, you have access to all that data that's unencrypted."

Moreover, compromising random systems all over the world impacts security generally everywhere.

"That's how most organizations function," Krishnan said. "So once you're within the company's router, you have access to all that data that's unencrypted."

In addition, any security hole that a government installs could open up the network to attacks by others, he added.

We're well beyond anyone credibly claiming there's nothing to see here, or that the NSA scandal is some kind of marginal conspiracy theory or partisan hyperventilating.

On the contrary, the continued attempts by a few to dismiss very important revelations about the way our National Security Agency is conducting itself is partisan hackery of the most absurd kind. No serious person, Democrat or not, is buying the idea that everything is fine and Greenwald, the Guardian, the NY Times, et al. are all in engaged in a massive libertarian conspiracy to attack the Obama administration.

"Privilege" makes sense in discussing point of view.

The core point that I see is that it is theoretically impossible for a member of a more empowered cultural subgroup to fully appreciate the obstacles faced by those outside of it. It's a good thing to keep in mind, but it's susceptible to abuse in the usual stupid ways.

It's most useful as a concept where someone objects to a complaint regarding inequality of opportunity or treatment on the basis they, having never suffered it directly, "don't see it."

Obvious examples would be men who say they'd welcome "catcalls" or other aggressive sexual advances from women, and therefore women should not complain about such things, even though men face an entirely different set of risks and attitudes. Men are not likely to get raped, not likely to face contempt for being promiscuous, etc. They "don't see" the problems with sexual aggression not because it doesn't exist, but because they don't suffer its effects.

Or someone who grew up with ample education, encouragement, and respect, wondering aloud while someone who grew up in poverty, with few opportunities, and subject to discrimination based on their ethnicity, gender, etc., doesn't just get a job with their father's law firm.

Or someone who doesn't understand viewing law enforcement with suspicion, never having been pulled over for being the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.

That kind of thing.

On the other hand, some people, given a valid rhetorical / sociological concept, can't help using it as a cudgel to simply denigrate others, or demand that they be silent in order to "win" some argument. The notion that only whites can be "racist" because we're going to redefine racism to mean "effective society-wide race-based oppression," instead of what it actually means, which is any kind of racial animus, is an example of this kind of silliness.

So we get stupid things like the young Mexican-American organizer who recently ranted at a friend of mine, a white woman in her, 40s, ill and exhausted after a cross-country trip, back issues, and a furious three days of constant work, and under pressure to get back to the airport, about how white people need to stop using their "privilege" to complain about being tired. In that case, he was actually speaking from the point of view of his own privilege: Young, strong, male, in good health, and not 2,000 miles from home. He could not grasp, and did not care to, that women or people older than himself, or with health issues, might actually BE tired under circumstances that did not bother him.

As progressives, we pride ourselves on spotting and calling out inequality, unfair treatment, and the like. But we are as susceptible as anyone else to petty conceits of personal superiority and desire to shut others down on the basis of who they are without sufficient attention to context or nuance or just plain clear thinking.

No one should apologize for or disclaim being feminist. Or liberal.

Just because the knuckledraggers achieved a level of knuckle-dragging success with their endless demonizing of anyone who disagreed with them doesn't mean any of US should be fighting amongst ourselves about it.

Feminists are RIGHT.

Liberals are RIGHT.

The hippies were RIGHT.

All of those things have degrees and variations and exceptions and addendums. None of them are shameful or embarrassing or wrong, except to stupid people.

Maybe stupid people should be embarrassed and ashamed and worried about people criticizing them, instead of the rest of us worrying about offending the stupid people.

No. There's no danger in finding points of agreement.

That is a specious proposal, like blackballing playwrights for being Commie sympathizers.

"Look out! That person's dogma is unclean!"


No one is an ideological robot with secret programming you can uncover. And no ideology is 100% clear or consistent across the board.

So the whole game of shooting something down because a Paul family member agrees with it, on the theory that the Paul family has a lot of stupid ideas, or the mangled vision of Libertarianism some people claim to embrace is terrible, is a disingenuous premise from the beginning.

There are Republicans that are occasionally right about something across ideological lines. There are Democrats who are wrong.

No one's magically correct or incorrect because of the supposed point of view they may or may not fully embrace, which people may or may not even agree upon in the first place.

This has been applied in a particularly putrid way with the Snowden / NSA battles here on DU, and I notice the cross-posted material goes out of its way to bring that up.

The only thing that makes sense is to discuss the viability of ideas and policy on their own. No one is the Keeper of the True Faith. No one is an apostate or heretic.

No one is wrong about one thing because they're wrong about something else.

Sorry, Rand and Ron can be racists, and free-market morons, and crypto-anti-reproductive rights-ians, and still be right that the NSA overstepped its bounds or that the U.S. should stay of out needless wars in the Middle East. No one has to embrace the rest of their bullshit to clock them or anyone else being right about something.

If you don't acknowledge that, you're just asking people to engage in mindless partisan head-butting until the the end of time. We'd be stuck agreeing with every Democrat who's wrong and fighting everyone else, no matter what.

Yes. No one else thinks that guns = freedom.

That is not what the Second Amendment was about. It was not the way things were in the past. It is not the way other freedom-loving democracies think about weaponry. NO ONE thinks guns are supposed to be a hedge against government you don't like or cultural influences that frighten you. A religion has been created in our country for the express purpose of selling huge amounts of firearms. It is a fundamentalist religion, and it recognizes no moderation and brooks no dissent.

And already we are seeing what the practitioners envision for our future. You can stalk and harass a kid until he fights you, and shoot him. You can fight about cellphones in the theater, leave, get a gun, come back, and shoot the person if they shake their popcorn too "threateningly." Rap music too loud? Gun. You can get a bunch of friends together and draw down on federal law enforcement from sniper positions, and set up checkpoints, over some COWS.

We have a crazy cult of violence and death brewing here, and at some point we're going to need to do something about it.

Sooner would probably be better than later.

This is what the NRA stands for now.

Edgy, entitled white guys, strutting around armed, saying "What are you afraid of, haw haw?"

Liberals use protests and argument and peaceful resistance to apply political pressure. Rightwingers and corporations want to use guns. It's not anything other than that. It's not personal responsibility or home defense or what the founding fathers intended.

It's a scheme to sell more guns and to reclaim power by a dwindling minority, and it has the full support of interests which believe their money, along with the these dipshits' guns, should run the country.

They want to reel in civilization a few hundred years; make everyone question whether we really have a government and the rule of law. Maybe no one has to pay taxes, if there are enough guns. Maybe just people without guns need to pay.

Maybe a rancher or a mine owner gets to say what the law is. And hey, maybe slavery isn't completely off the table either. Did we really settle that, if you can set up armed camps and checkpoints, and dare "the feds" to do something over some COWS?

Next time maybe they'll rally around some poor mine owner defending his right to pollute from the commies in the EPA.

The NRA is selling this. Not target shooting or hunting or "responsible gun ownership." They are selling a paramilitary fantasy of physical threats to "government," which they have painted as the enemy. They are winding up some very confused, agitated people into a violent frenzy, for fun and profit.

And we are letting them.

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