Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pro Publica:: FAQ: What You Need To Know About NSA Surveillance Programs ( + Inchoate Thoughts)


Nothing new there, but a good summary, IMHO.

I still don't know what to think about all this. Input requested...

My hazy inclinations are similar to what they've been for awhile now, and can sorta be summarized as follows:

1. I don't like this excrement one bit.

2. I am not at all surprised by it; in fact, this is a foreseeable consequence of the "Patriot" Act, isn't it?

3. And, in fact, I expected it to be worse. (see 4)

4. I'm am far, far less concerned about metadata collection than I would be about actual spying on the content of communications. (But see 1)

5. I don't think we really know what's going on yet. The NSA has lied about what it's doing, and Greenwald is largely unreliable, and has misrepresented what's going on at crucial points. We know enough to be worried, but not enough to draw firm conclusions. Or at least I don't... (Note: I expect Greenwald to distort things if it make the U.S. and/or Obama look bad; I don't see any reason to tolerate this from the NSA, however.)

6. It's good that this is now a matter of public discussion. However, it seems to me that this could have been done without making the U.S. look worse than may be warranted vis-a-vis countries like, e.g., Russia...  But these thoughts are garbled in my wee noggin...

7. We need reliable cost-benefit analysis here. In the absence of really big benefits, there is no way I can see myself acquiescing to programs like these. I think Americans have a strong prima facie opposition to such programs. And we're right about that. The NSA has a very weighty burden of proof. Has this program, for example, prevented New York from being disintegrated? Well, New York... Has it prevented D.C. from being disintegrated? Is it likely to do so? If not, I'm still against it.

8. I'm not outraged in part because I have no doubt that these programs were put in place by well-intentioned people. It seems clear that there are lots of solid protections in place. It seems to me to be a plausible, if misguided, attempt to respond to the fact that we are at odds with some murderous psychopaths. Don't freak out. This is not an evil government plot. Just walk it back. Or so I'm currently inclined to think.

8'. I'm not outraged also because I'm not surprised. (see 2). But if these types of surveillance are permitted by the "Patriot" Act, and they are impermissible, then we have yet another fine argument for the repeal of the "Patriot" Act.

9. It actually sounds to me like the current privacy protections are great. But I'm still inclined against the program, largely because of the danger of abuse by a rogue future government. I trust the government we now have--even the lunatic Republicans, for the most part. But I don't trust every plausible future government. So I don't want this easily-abused capacity in place. That may not be a good reason, or it may not be the best reason...but to the extent that the reason is good, it has some pretty significant consequences. For example, it seems to constitute an argument against having a large military as well--talk about something ripe for abuse by a rogue government...  This coheres with my long-standing reason for wanting a smaller government army...though perhaps I'm confused on that score already.

For the lova God, somebody straighten me out on all this...it hurts my head...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Silva's Second Freakish Loss to Weidman

Wow, that was awful.

Both losses look a lot like flukes. It's too bad that we didn't get to see a full fight in which Silva was taking Weidman seriously, and it's really gut-wrenching that Silva's career will end like this. Weidman looks good, and he seems like a great guy. Of course he'll never be an Anderson Silva--who has a strong claim to being the GOAT--but he'll be interesting to watch. it seems that some people are asserting that the was good technique rather than luck...meh...seems very unlikely to me. Leg checks are perfectly legitimate techniques, of course, and Weidman might have reasonably aimed to minimize the effectiveness of Silva's leg kicks...but a broken leg is a fluke almost no matter how you look at it. (And I say this as someone who's not a fan of round kicks...)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hoops: No Reinstatement for Hairston

Bye bye PJ

Ugh. A likely-to-be-tough season (despite the 3 big wins thus far) just got a lot, lot tougher.

Nobody knows the story yet, but, given Hairston's recent history, the part of me that doesn't care that much about winning is rather happy to see him go. I agree with Roy that, when a kid makes a mistake, it's not a good idea to summarily take away the one thing he's good at...but that point only goes so far.

PJ seems to have some pretty bad judgment, and he's brought shame on the program. Given that he was our leading scorer, this probably means another year of mediocrity... But, not yet knowing the whole story, I'm guessing that the university and the NCAA made the right call on this one.

Carolina's Free Throw Woes

As my buddy from grad school Earl "The Squirrel" used to say: It's immoral to miss your free throws.

Carolina in the past has, not that infrequently, averaged making more free throws than their opponents took. Not so this year...

Here's some advice for the Heels. My shot mechanics are shit, so it could be wrong for all I know...make of it what you will...

We've now beaten the numbers 1, 2 and 3 teams as ranked in pre-season polls, and lost to three unranked teams. We've got LMac back, which is something, but it's not at all clear what will happen with PJ. I'm happy to accept whatever the NCAA rules, since both those guys acted like idiots.

At any rate, it's likely to be a long year even under the best possible circumstances...  But hope springs eternal...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reason: "Rape Crisis Feminism, "Rape Culture" and the Vassar Case

"Guilty Until Proven Innocent"

You may have heard about the following scary case:
One evening in February 2012, Vassar College students Xialou "Peter" Yu and Mary Claire Walker, both members of the school's rowing team, had a few drinks at a team gathering and left together as the party wound down. After a make-out session at a campus nightspot, they went to Yu's dorm room, where, by his account, they had sex that was not only consensual but mainly initiated by Walker, who reassured her inexperienced partner that she knew what to do. At some point, Yu's roommate walked in on them; after he was gone, Yu says, Walker decided she wanted to stop, telling him it was too soon after her breakup with her previous boyfriend. She got dressed and left.  
The next day, according to documents in an unusual complaint that Yu filed against Vassar last June, Yu's resident adviser told him some students had seen him and the young woman on their way to the dorm. They had been so concerned by Walker's apparently inebriated state that they called campus security. Alarmed, Yu contacted Walker on Facebook to make sure everything was all right. She replied that she had had a "wonderful time" and that he had done "nothing wrong"-indeed, that she was sorry for having "led [him] on" when she wasn't ready for a relationship. A month later Walker messaged Yu herself, again apologizing for the incident and expressing hope that it would not affect their friendship. There were more exchanges during the next months, with Walker at one point inviting Yu to dinner at her place. (In a response to Yu's complaint in October, attorneys for Vassar acknowledged most of these facts but asserted that Walker had been too intoxicated to consent to sex and had been "in denial," scared, and in shock when she wrote the messages.) 
Last February, one year after the encounter, the other shoe dropped: Yu was informed that Walker had filed charges of "nonconsensual sexual contact" against him through the college disciplinary system. Two and a half weeks later, a hearing was held before a panel of three faculty members. Yu was not allowed an attorney; his request to call his roommate and Walker's roommate as witnesses was denied after the campus "gender equity compliance investigator" said that the roommates had emailed him but had "nothing useful" to offer. While the records from the hearing are sealed, Yu claims his attempts to cross-examine his accuser were repeatedly stymied. Many of his questions (including ones about Walker's friendly messages, which she had earlier told the investigator she sent out of "fear") were barred as "irrelevant"; he says that when he was allowed to question Walker, she would start crying and give evasive or nonresponsive answers. Yu was found guilty and summarily expelled from Vassar.
If we're getting the straight story here, this sounds like a completely unremarkable case of consensual sex between adults. Vassar has a rather bad reputation for being a bastion of the loony academic left, and contemporary "rape crisis feminism" is one of the most central components of that toxic stew.

In my more cynical/pessimistic moments, I think:  it's proven fairly hard to catch and convict actual rapists and those who commit sexual assault...so the academic left has settled for convicting innocent people; hey, maybe that't not ideal, but it'll do in a pinch...

Much of this insanity is pulled along by various crazy aspects of contemporary radical feminist theory, include the astounding confused concept "*rape culture*". As with so many confused concepts, "rape culture" survives on vagueness, the passing reference, and the force of shrill dogmatism. It's common to see claims roughly of the form "Problems of x kind make it harder to combat rape culture, and this has led us to focus on blah blah solutions to these problems." "Rape culture" gets invoked in passing, and the claim that, for example, contemporary American culture is a so-called "rape culture" is simply assumed to be true without proof, nor even any clear explanation of what that phrase is supposed to mean.

But what makes culture C a rape culture? If C is a rape culture if and only if the rape-relevant aspects of the culture mostly or largely condone rape, then it is the most obvious thing in the world that e.g. contemporary American culture is not a "rape culture." The vast, overwhelming, almost exclusive attitude toward rape in the culture is that it s not only wrong but a heinous crime, often thought of as worse than murder. The only thing worse than rape is pedophilia...which is, of course, a form of rape... So no "rape culture" there.

OTOH, the idea might be that C is a "rape culture" if and only if there are some elements or other in the culture that condone rape. This would be an extremely uninteresting/unimportant concept...and, furthermore, if this is what the phrase means, then it's typically used by feminists in highly misleading ways... However it might be worth thinking about. Rape is primarily an act that hinges on individual choice and the individual moral responsibility of the rapist (though the lefter-than-liberal left tends to detest those notions)...but there may very well be minor aspects of the culture that are insufficiently anti-rape. For example, it used to be a common view that women often said 'no' when they meant 'yes.' Obviously that is sometimes true, or at least used to be, but the very fact that this was passed down as an aspect of conventional wisdom might very well be an aspect of the culture which--though in no way explicitly pro-rape in content--tended to promote sexual assault and rape. Certain sub-cultures, such as some fraternity "cultures" may very well promote rape. And so-called "pick-up artist" (PUA) culture clearly endorses actions which are largely indistinguishable from rape. So, in this extremely permissive sense of "rape culture," the U.S. might be said to have/be one.

However, the phrase is obviously highly misleading, suggesting as it does that the promotion of rape is a central feature of the culture, and/or that the culture condones rape more than it condemns it. Look we cannot call American culture an "intellectual culture" because there are some minor aspects of the culture that could be called intellectual; we cannot call it a "Hispanic culture" because there are Hispanic subcultures; we cannot call it a "cancer culture" because there are some common practices (e.g. smoking) that cause cancer. Any reasonable way you look at it, "rape culture" does not accurately describe American culture.

Bad theory and faulty concepts seem to be far from the more poignant practical concerns of people being falsely accused of rape, but I think it's fairly clear that bad theory is driving bad practice in cases such as this. Another bad contemporary feminist idea is that women can decide that they have been raped even if they apparenlty consented at the time, enjoyed the experience, continued to have contact (or even sex) with the alleged attacker, and gave no sign whatsoever during the encounter that they were unwilling to have sex. This is the sort of madness that generates policies like Vassar's. These are insane policies built on insane theories, and that is why they should be eliminated. However, even those who don't care about justice and reason should oppose the policies. Even those feminist who only care about (as some say) "power for women" should at least care that such policies infantilize women by treating them like perpetual, inveterate minors, people who are not sufficiently rational and autonomous to make their own decisions, take responsibility for their free actions,and live with the consequences. This view of women is the antithesis of everything old-school, admirable feminism fought against.

If we're getting the straight story about Mr. Yu and Ms. Walker, I sincerely hope that Yu sues both Vassar and Walker for a gigantic truckload of money.

Obenshain Concedes, McDonnell To Be Charged In Gifts Scandal

The good news: Herring wins, clean sweep for the Dems. 

The bad news: one of those Dems was Terry McAuliffe...

The other news: apparently McDonnell is going to be charged in the Star Scientific gifts scandal by the DOJ.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

False Equivalence Watch: Bush and Obama

Ed Kilgore is on it.

(via Sullivan)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Night Film, Marisha Pessl

I'm a little less than halfway through this book, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it. It's creepy as hell and it really pulls you along. I've been staying up too late because I can't put the damn thing down. Sadly, I'm not that smart about literature, and pretty poorly-educated about it, so I can rarely say anything that goes very far beyond "I like it"...but I like it. Well-written, paced well, interesting characters that are developed in a way that kind of sneaks up on you...just a damn cool book IMHO.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Facebook "Hot Mom" Has Account Suspended on Bogus Charge of "Fat Shaming"

I really can't believe how damn stupid people seem to be getting about this sort of thing. Facebook, I'm looking at you.

Here's what she wrote:
The popular and unrelenting support received to those who are borderline obese (not just 30-40lbs overweight) frustrates me as a fitness advocate who intimately understands how poor health negatively effects
I have no patience for anybody who is an asshole to people on the basis of physical characteristics that they have little or no control over. But there is absolutely nothing in what this person wrote that can justify the suspension of her account. This kind of totalitarianism with respect to anything that might possibly hurt someone's fee-fees is absurd and people shouldn't tolerate it. I think that what she wrote is incorrect, but it obviously does not in any way approach anything that can justify the suspension of her account.

This is political correctness/"SJW" nonsense infecting organizations that ought to know better.

(h/t /r/TumblrInAction)

(Also: Ms. H. Mom is, indeed, super hot.)

[Update: Apparently Ms. Mom got her account reinstated.]

Carolina 82, Kentucky 77

The Heels have now beaten the #1, #2 and #3 teams in the preseason polls.

It's still likely to be a tough year, as I don't expect Hairston to return. But after the losses to UAB and Belmont early on, these big wins over MSU, Louisville and UK are welcome indeed.

3/4 TX Lt. Governor Candidates Advocate Creationism In Schools

All four men in the race said religion should play a larger role in public education when asked where they stood on the issue during the event hosted by the McClennan County Republican Party and broadcast by KCEN-TV. But only one, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, stopped short of endorsing creationism in the state’s curriculum.

C+=: A Feminist Programming Language and the Resulting Blacklist + Whining

Here's what seems to have got it started, a really, really dumb idea about writing a feminist programming language. This is mostly po-mo-inspired gibberish.

Here's the parody of that nonsense.

Here's a site associated with blacklisting anyone who follows the parody project. They've already had the parody removed from one site my whining about it.

Here's some puling and whining about the parody, including, of course, the de rigueur assertions that the parody is sexist, misogynistic, "transphobic," blah blah blah "rape culture" (an absurdly confused concept), blah blah blah how dare you mock "social justice warriors," etc.


It was a dumb idea. There is no such thing as an interesting or important "feminist critique of logic" on which to base "feminist programming." If anything ever deserved a parody, this did. In response, we get the typical types of responses that we have come to expect from humorless feminists and vindictive "SJW"s.

Normal, sane, rational, liberal feminists ought not to be putting up with this sort of nonsense. There's a reason that the vast majority of American's no longer identify themselves as feminists, despite the fact that most of them do identify themselves as egalitarians with respect to sex. And it's not "false consciousness" as a result of brainwashing by the "patriarchy," nor any other such nonsense that aims at deflecting the plain fact that too much feminist has moved too far left and too far down the po-mo rabbit hole. Extremist feminism is in a tailspin. It's a movement that deserves to be thought of contemptuously by reasonable people. And, though that should be enough to prompt outrage, as an added bonus, it's threatening to drag the remnants of sane, reasonable feminism down with it.

(via /r/TumblrInAction)

Social Construction Follies: Sex is a Social Construct

Wow, what a disaster.

You really can't have a serious discussion about this sort of thing if you use the term 'socially constructed', which is used to mean so many different things at different times that any claim involving it is too vague, ambiguous and otherwise unclear and slippery to evaluate.

This person wants to say--apparently, but God knows--that sex is real but created by society. This is, of course, false. Her reasons are of two types, basically: (i) there are several different, real biological distinctions that map onto sex, and (ii) male and female are vague categories admitting of borderline cases. It follows from neither of these that sex is a social creation. The universe generally and biology in particular is clumpy. That is, it is made up of natural kinds. Individuals strongly tend to fall into these kinds, but the kinds are fuzzy. As Peirce points out: it is characteristic of real kinds to admit of borderline cases. There are borderline cases of stars, for example (in which gas clouds have not yet become dense enough to generate fusion a their cores, though they're headed in that direction); and biology is permeated by borderline cases: borderline cases of life (e.g. viruses), borderline cases of species (e.g. ligers), borderline cases of organs (in which cells have just begun to differentiate into organs in fetuses), and so on.

The thing about real kinds is that you can make scientifically important generalizations about them. There is simply no doubt that this can be done with respect to male and female. As a matter of fact, there's a fair bit of science that you can't do unless you recognize these categories. Ideological blathering isn't going to change this.

Furthermore, real kinds can be identified by multiple different criteria. Dinosaurs, for example, are archosaurs with their limbs held erect underneath their bodies--and the criteria for belonging to archosauria is complex and multi-criterial.

Unsurprisingly, none of the arguments in this piece in any way show that sex--i.e. the distinction between male and female--is something we made up. Nor is it unreal. Nor is it any fuzzier than the other real biological categories and distinctions upon which the science of biology is built.

The real problem, however, is that no serious discussion can be conducted in which the central term "socially constructed." The term is not even close to being precise enough for serious inquiry. Any time you find yourself inclined to use that term, you should ask yourself what you really mean and what claim you are actually trying to make.

Delicate Flower Watch: Matthew Salesses, Racism in the Classroom

Wow, is this ever bad.

It's basically the story of how one kid said a rather mildly indelicate thing about the pronunciation of Hispanic surnames in a college class on day. This is supposed to show "racism in higher education."

The mind, it boggles.

Then we're treated to some whinging about the fact that some adoptive parents use the term "Gotcha Day" to refer to the day they adopted their adoptive kid(s). This, you see, is a horrific crime against humanity because it contains a word in common with 'gotcha journalism.'

Fortunately, most commenters on Salon seem to be calling out this bullshit.

This should go without saying: I'm not a fan of hurting people's feelings gratuitously or thoughtlessly.

However: for the love of God, toughen the fuck up. These sorts of minor incidents are the sorts of things that grownups just get over. Mr. Salesses, however, tells us that he has been:
...repeating this story to everyone I know, or everyone I know who doesn’t share this other student’s opinion—which, in truth, is everyone I know well enough to tell. And I have tried to own the story, too. I have tried to make it slightly different than it was, a story where we would all be outraged, where we would all have time to process and examine what happened. But in the classroom, this comment went otherwise unchallenged, and I left the class feeling completely undone, and blaming, no doubt unfairly, the entire state of Texas.
One really does have to wonder whether this is some kind of joke. How does this person get through life? This sort of thing wouldn't even register on my outrage meter. He was "undone" by this? He blamed the entire state of Texas? What madness is this?

But wait, there's more:
I didn’t know how to respond. I knew how I would have questioned this conversation as a teacher, how I would have shut it down before ownership of someone’s name was denied and then talked about the importance and implications of such a conversation, but I was not the instructor. I did not hold power in that classroom. What I did, which I hope was the right thing to do, was to say that “on the record”—I made a point of this—what this student had said made me extremely uncomfortable. I hoped that the instructor would take it from there, but he did not.
Jeez I hope this person never "holds power in the classroom." First, there is no such thing as "ownership" of your bloody name. But aside with that. Making someone "uncomfortable" is an insufficient reason for an instructor to shut down a conversation. A few sentences, in the case in question, would have probably been enough to make the student in question see that his point was fairly ridiculous. But if you think that an instructor should "shut down" a conversation because of such a peccadillo, you really don't belong in academia. 

This sort of nonsense seems epidemic to me. It's not just one or two people with overly-delicate feelings here or there. Rather, I think, it's a couple of theories, widely accepted on the lefter edges of liberalism and beyond. First, that being "offended" is a horrible injustice. And, second, that words matter a lot more than they actually do. This kind of nonsense is fairly widespread, and IMO it really ought to be addressed in a more systematic fashion, though I don't have any great suggestions about how to do so.

Friday, December 13, 2013

IPCC: Climate Change 2013

The summary for policymakers.

One major conclusion:
It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Douthat on Obama's "Failed" Presidency

He can barely contain himself at the thought.

(via Sullivan)

Can Obama Finally Close Gitmo?


(via Sullivan)

Truman: Nixon a "Shifty-Eyed Goddamned Liar"

Hoo hoo!

Give 'em you-know-what, Harry.

Turns out you were right.

(via Reddit)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Decline and Fall of College Debate

I debated in high school, and was pretty obsessive about it. I did it for a while in college, too, but quickly realized that it was pretty loathsome. Debate is, in general, a two-edge sword in my view. It can help you gain certain intellectual skills--e.g. it can make you better at sticking to the point and relentlessly pursuing individual lines of argument. But it can also corrupt your mind by making you more sophistical, encouraging you to think in terms of winning or losing a contest instead of inquiring cooperatively in order to find the truth. I quit debate in college when it became clear that, even as a kind of contest, it had become a joke. Teams had prepared canned arguments that would purport to show, through long, improbable chains of "reasoning, that, basically, no matter what anyone did, it would lead to "GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR!!!111". I spent so much time arguing against the same patent nonsense over and over again that it stopped being interesting. (This only goes for certain types of debate...there's still Lincoln-Douglas, which is more sane. We used to make fun of it for being "soft" ("LD"--learning deficient LOL). But we were wrong...  Ah well...)

Furthermore, the activity become pretty repellent in other ways as well. I discovered that cheating (in the form of making up evidence) was, apparently, pretty common. And the participants would often speak so rapidly that they'd ostentatiously spit all over the podium. Bleh. I was fond of the rapid-fire style, but when I came to see how foolish it looked, that basically tore it.

Anyway, things have gotten rather worse since then. Here's some folks shrieking at each other in a championship debate about ten years ago... And, worse, apparently since then all sorts of postmodernist nonsense has creeped in, so that the long, canned, nonsense arguments now include a lot of fashionable quasi-philosophical nonsense to go along with the policy nonsense.

Ugh. I hear this has infected high school debate as well, which is too bad, since I have no doubt that high school debate was good for me. (Once, that is, I got over the asshole attitude that it can foster...)

Monday, December 09, 2013

Carol Hay: A Feminist Kant

Hey, this is pretty good.

I'm not sure why these are supposed to be particularly feminist points...but nevermind.

Hay seems to suggest disagreement with DFW's claim that "...on the East Coast, politico-sexual indignation is the fun." But he actually hit the nail pretty much on the head there...though I'm not sure how geographical that problem actually is. It's the fun on the leftier reaches of the left, that's for sure. So there's that.

There's no doubt that the carnies in the story are asking for a punch in the nose, and it's a sad story in that they didn't get one...but not every injustice gets its due...

Hay's point--not an esoteric one by any stretch of the imagination, but a good one--is that we can make the liberal/egalitarian/feminist points we need to make with Kant's conceptual apparatus.

And I'd add: there's no need for Continental/po-mo/Foucauldian/Judith-Butlerian gobbledygook. If the point is respectable, and in this case it is, we'll be able to make it without resorting to the buzzword salad so popular on the lefty-left.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Fever Swamps Watch: LGF on Breitbart.com On Obama Attending Mandela's Funeral


Well, Ben Shapiro is a nut, and nuts read him...I know that the web just allows crazies to congregate...  But some of this crap is still hard to believe.

Friday, December 06, 2013

College Football and Rape

MoJo has a sobering list of rapes and other sexual assaults (and some allegations) here.

WTF is going on?

Of course it's consistent with this list that college football players are no more prone to this sort of thing than the non-football-playing population of college males...though that would be even worse... I also don't know how many football players there are in D-IA (looks like the list is limited to major programs...), so there's no easy way to identify percentages here...and that's important information. (Though it's gut-wrenching to think of trying to put such acts "in perspective" with percentages, still, we'd need to know them to know whether this is something specific to football.)

This catches my eye in part because my own institution is thinking of moving to D-IA (or FBS, as I guess it's not called...I'm not a football fan...). This is probably a bad move financially, of course. College sports is a money-losing proposition for almost everyone. Unless you're up in the stratosphere near the Carolinas (in hoops) or Michigan (in football), you're losing money. But there are, of course, many other considerations that. Should an institution choose to support an activity that generates so many brain injuries, for example? If there's some link between football and assault, that'd, of course, matter a lot... One the one hand, you might think that football promotes aggression... On the other hand, such intuitive hypotheses are often (usually?) false. On the other other hand, it isn't at all clear that we should expect football to be that much worse than other sports...nor for DI-A status to make much difference as compared to DI-AA...

Well, that's all just babbling. I have nothing cogent to add to the MoJo piece.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

Important to the world, of course, but that goes without saying. What I have to say is that he was significant to me personally, as a prominent figure in my moral/political/intellectual development. Were I in his place, I would not have had the moral fortitude to push for the truth and reconciliation commission. There is simply no doubt about that.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Impeachment Fever--Catch It!

These people are, perhaps literally, insane:

In recent days, Rep. Steve Stockman (Tex.), one of the more exotic members of the Republican caucus, has distributed proposed Articles of Impeachment to his colleagues. Last month, 20 House Republicans filed Articles of Impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder. Around that time, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) accused Obama of “impeachable offenses.”
Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.), before his cocaine arrest and guilty plea, invoked the prospect of impeaching Obama over gun policy. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) raised the specter of impeachment over Obama’s threat to bomb Syria without congressional approval. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) said it would be his “dream come true” to write the Articles of Impeachment, and Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tex.) said that if “the House had an impeachment vote it would probably impeach the president.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe said Obama could be impeached over the attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, while fellow Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said in August that Obama was “getting perilously close” to meeting the standard for impeachment (though he called Obama a “personal friend”). Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) thought it would have been an impeachable offense if Obama unilaterally raised the debt ceiling. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) branded Obama “lawless.”
On the House Judiciary panel, impeachment has been floated by GOP Reps. Jason Chaffetz (over Benghazi), Louie Gohmert and King (default on the debt), Darrell Issa (presidential patronage), Trent Franks (Defense of Marriage Act enforcement) and Lamar Smith (who said Obama’s record on immigration comes “awfully close” to violating the oath of office). Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) gets creativity points for proposing the impeachment of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Click through to Milbank's piece for all the links.

And remember: no Democratic president can ever be legitimate...

Stealing the 2016 Election: The GOP Is Already At Work

Last winter, shortly after President Obama won his second term in office, many Republicans rallied behind a pair of election-rigging plans to make it virtually impossible for a Democrat to win White House again. Though the two plans differ in important ways, the crux of both plans is to rig the Electoral College by requiring blue states to award a significant portion of their electoral votes to Republican presidential candidates — all while ensuring that red states will award 100 percent of their electoral votes to the Republican as well. Though these election-rigging plans appeared dead after a wave of Republican officials came out against them, one of them has just returned to life in California.
Props, incidentally, to Republicans who have opposed such efforts.

My view, FWIW, is:

We need to fight hard against this sort of thing now. If we wait until another election 2000 happens, it'll be too late. No matter how unfair the rules, the GOP will argue that they can't be changed retroactively. And they'll kind of have a point...

Marcotte on Bloom on Objectification


Oops, sorry, didn't mean to post this. This was just a reminder to myself to post on this.

As The Mystic points out below, no, Bloom in no way makes the assumption that Marcotte says he does, and, in fact, that was the main point I'd intended on making. I mean...he doesn't even come close to assuming that. That's a radically irresponsible reading. In fact, it borders on just plain making shit up.

It's kind of funny that one of her main points is that Bloom assumes that only women feel sexual desire, and one of her other main points is that you should address what proponents of a given view actually say...

I know I've been busting on feminism a lot, but I seem to just keep running into this stuff, and now it's in my head.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Occasional Johnny Quest Quotes

"I just found a potato chip in my pants!"

This...this is the kind of thing I have to put up with...

Prediction: ACA Website Relaunch Freakout

I haven't looked, but I'm willing to make this prediction:

Right-wing media is going to freak out about what a disaster it is.

That, of course, no matter what it's actually like.

Yeah...not exactly going out on a limb here...

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Robyn Urback: No, Movember Is Not Misogynist


This is so obvious that, instead of discussing it in detail, it really ought to be an occasion for thinking about the derangement of the postmodern left.

More Anti-Movember Mumbo-Jumbo: Arianne Shavis in the New Statesman

Well, again, I think that Movember--and the word 'Movember', for that matter--is/are pretty dopey. No offense intended to anybody, but I just don't like mustaches. Not that that should matter a bit to anyone... Look, I'm pretty slack about shaving, and I'm sure that lots of people think that is pretty heinous-looking. And they're absolutely free to say so...

But anyway...

So I'm not wild about mustaches, though, even if I were, I'd still think that Movember was pretty goofy. However, some of the lefty/feminist/"SJW" responses to the thing are far, far stupider than Movember itself.

I discussed one idiotic criticism here.

Here's another one.

I don't see anything in there that's really worth wasting more time/energy on...though I will say:

It's true that people should think more about the fact that females are subject to greater social pressure to look a certain way than are males.. But that has virtually nothing to do with Movember. It's a separate problem that has only the most tenuous link to "Movember." Complaining about Movember on these grounds would be like complaining about, I dunno, that wedding dress show on cable on the grounds that males can't really get away with wearing dresses. The fact that somebody came up with a dopey group activity in which guys who want to participate grow mustaches has exactly zero "pernicious gendered and racial connotations." Not every activity has to be open to both sexes. If, say, some women wanted to...oh, God knows...have a multiple orgasm month or whatever, that would in no way be sexist. "Walk for the Cure" is in no way prejudiced against those who can't walk. People could round up participants in, say, Tanning Tuesday if they wanted, and this would in now way be "prejudiced" against people who can't tan. Prejudice (or bias) are simply not applicable to such cases. Not everyone needs to be able to participate in every activity. Bar someone from voting on inadequate grounds and there's a problem. But not every goofy activity everyone thinks up needs to be equally open to everyone. Hold a slam dunk contest if you like--I have no grounds for complaint simply because I can't dunk. (Though I used to be able to. Well...you know...almost...) If an activity were permissible only if every human being could participate in it equally, then basically no human activity would be permissible. Even eating--and activities which involve eating--would be impermissible on the grounds that some people must receive nutrients through a tube. Breathing would be out, because some people are in iron lungs. And so on.

But this is all too stupid even to discuss really.

The root of all evil here, really, is the sloppy, hyper-political ways of thinking (and I use the term loosely...) that prevail on what we might call the postmodern left. Influenced by sloppy thinkers like Foucault, Derrida, Lacan et al., the po-mo left has largely abandoned actual reasoning in favor of throwing around half-baked charges of prejudice. Bad theories make you stupid, and bad theories of how you ought to reason make you really, really stupid. And the po-mo left is afflicted by a terrible theory of how one ought to reason. Until the left shakes this stuff and at least tries to start genuinely reasoning again instead of relying on a barrage of  buzzwords and canned accusations of prejudice, it will continue--and deserve--to be a laughingstock.