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Saturday the 24th of June 2017 @ 08:04am
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Filed Under: Opinion

The word is out that those responsible for the leak of information from within the administration and those receiving without may face soon be legal repercussions. I'm impressed at how naked a use of force this is, but I can't say I'm really surprised. Just consider for a moment, how totalitarian this really is.

Recently we've had the leak of illegal wiretapping, Katrina mishandling and Abu Ghraib. In all three cases the information leaked has been a poignant reminder that the government is a) not perfect and b) potentially very, very corrupt. In the face of these scandals how does the administration react? Internal Investigations? Policy reform? No? No. The administration is setting out the put in prison the people who let the public know what illegal and incompetent things they happen to be doing.

I can't even fabricate a more terrifying, totalitarian thing for the administration to be doing. Quite honestly this is the kind of policy that one would expect out of China. I mean, at this point the arrested politicians and reporters would be big news, and there would be a big political hubub about it, but the administration has already established that enemies of the state (sorry, terrorists) can be whisked away to Guantanamo Bay for less. I'll remind you that I'm not exaggerating for the sake of satire. People are regularly (not frequently, but it's no longer unheard of) taken from their homes and held in a foreign nation with no charge for months or possibly years at a time. Why would we expect political enemies of the state to be any better treated than enemy combatants?

This, quite frankly, is terrifying. What's most terrifying is that, and I'll say this again to be very clear, none of this is made up or satire. It's all demonstrably true. The only connection left to be made is for a political enemy to be "announced" as a combatant and removed. I also fully recognize that this may have already happened, it's clear that the administration wouldn't tell us and soon no one in that administration could blow the whistle without fear of vanishing themselves. Even assuming they did, the press has no hope of anonymity so they would clearly not want to publish information that could get them in trouble with the state for the same reason.

It's worth repeating that now that the administration is setting up informants and the press as criminals for disclosing information it considers sensitive the ONLY step left is to further assert that those disclosures are seditious, an assertion that I'm sure the likes of O'Reilly, Hannity and Coulter have already made. They'll become the echoing resonance chamber through which public approval is solidified. The pieces are moving.

If there is a difference between this and the old Soviet Union or China it's only in the degree at which it takes place, which is clearly accelerating. I'll say it again: terrifying.

Welcome to the United States of America.

After the fact...

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Filed Under: Opinion

Bill O'Reilly has been doing as Bill O'Reillly does and this time seems to have veered further out of reality than normal. On March 2nd basically threatened a caller that the police would be paying him a visit for saying something on the air that O'Reilly didn't like. This is crazy. It's crazy and it's, quite honestly, as fascist as anything I've seen in quite some time. I mean, it's one thing to yell at someone and talk over their points on your own opinion show but it's a completely different thing to imply that that the police will come lock you up for having a different opinion.

However it is well known that O'Reilly is crazy, so for once I'm here to defend him, of sorts. Actually, it's less a matter of defending him and more a matter of chiding Olbermann and even Media Matters for intentionally misrepresenting the facts to make O'Reilly look worse than he should. This is known as fighting fire with fire, and it sucks. Olbermann's commentary is clearly intended more for the comedic value than actually to report anything of detailed substance, so I'm willing to give him a partial pass, but Media Matters should know better. Specifically, I'm talking about the name of, and this section of their article: O'Reilly threatened radio show caller with "a little visit" from "Fox security" for mentioning Olbermann's name on the air

The caller began by telling O'Reilly, "I like to listen to you during the day." Continuing, the caller stated, "I think Keith Olbermann's show," at which point O'Reilly disconnected the call, proclaiming: "Mike is -- he's a gone guy. You know, we have his -- we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit."

The details here are the problem, however. O'Reilly didn't disconnect the call where Media Matters, and Olbermann imply he did. Nor is he necessarily reacting to the callers statements which hit the air. As Olbermann admits in his own commentary what hit the air is whatever survived from an (up to, or possibly longer than) 7 second dump of call. Clearly O'Reilly is reacting to the contents of those 7 or more seconds, not to the utterance of Olbermann's name.

Shame Media Matters, shame. This is exactly the kind of misrepresentation that you're supposed to be illuminating, not creating. As unlikely as I find it, it is entirely possible that those 7 seconds contain threats of physical violence, or extremely obscene content which justify the response O'Reilly aired. Again, I'll say that I personally REALLY doubt that. Really, really doubt it. In any case, certainly the highroad would have been a better position for O'Reilly to take given the offending comments had been dumped, but this is O'Reillly, so what do you expect? That doesn't change the fact, however, that neither Olbermann or Media Matters (or the countless others reporting on this) have any proof as to what was actually said, and pretending that the second of audio before the dump is what O'Reilly was responding to is exactly the kind of biased reporting that O'Reilly is fantastic at.

As Colbert would say, you guys are "On Notice".

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Filed Under: Opinion

I'm not even saying it is accurate, just that it was fun to make.

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Considering the 7 Things You Didn't Know About PETA, it's attack on animal rights, and where the line between PETA and animal rights should be drawn.

It is clear that PETA is a lightning-rod for debate about animal rights, and I find that all too often I find that arguments against animal rights in general become PETA specific. I thought I'd, pretty much at random, do a little criticism of one such piece and see what I could see with respect to the points raised by The Center For Consumer Freedom.

The following quotes are from the previously mentioned article, 7 Things You Didn't Know About PETA, in complete or incomplete form. I've shown edits in short form with the conventional "...". I've tried to leave in damning statements as much as any other point. I'm just writing stuff as it comes to me, so don't expect a tonne of cohesion here.

Alright, off we go!

1) PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk has described her group's overall goal as `total animal liberation.' This means no meat, no milk, no zoos, no circuses, no wool, no leather, no hunting, no fishing, and no pets (not even seeing-eye dogs). PETA is also against all medical research that requires the use of animals.

I'm unclear why this is a bad thing, other than the rather underhanded addition of seeing eye dogs to invoke cruelty to blind people. This stated goal seems a great deal, to me, like a reading foundation's goal to reduce illiteracy to 0%. Perhaps not a particularly achievable goal, but as with any good mission statement it isn't bogged down with provisos, exceptions, exemptions and ethical quandary. That is, no where in the mission statement (I'm assuming) does it feel necessary to write: "We endorse the total liberation of animals, unless say, the incarceration and exploitation of one dog would result in the freedom of 5000 dogs, in which case obviously one would have to consider the ethical ramifications of such a position", and so on.

Regardless of oversimplification and misrepresentation, it is unclear to me how this mission is even a negative thing. They enumerate "This means no meat, no milk, no zoos, no circuses...", expressing incredulously that the absence of such things as circuses and zoos would be a batty idea. I think the morality of these institutions, along with other listed hobbies such as hunting and fishing, is well and completely in dispute still. The inclusion of a list like this to stand as an argument just goes to show that the author already expects the readers to be on board before starting to read, at which point, what was the point except to incite?

2) Despite its constant moralizing about the `unethical' treatment of animals by restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans, PETA has killed over 10,000 dogs and cats at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. During 2003, PETA put to death over 85 percent of the animals it collected from members of the public.

Legitimate gripe. PETA isn't perfect by a long-shot. This is somewhat of a distortion from the limited research I've done, but clearly PETA has serious issues to address internally, not even limited to this particular point. To the best of my knowledge this doesn't dilute the cause or debate in any meaningful way, however, and since I'm guessing all you readers can see an Ad Hominem attack when you see one, we'll move on.

3) PETA has given tens of thousands of dollars to convicted arsonists and other violent criminals. This includes a 2001 donation of $1,500 to the North American Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an FBI-certified `domestic terrorist' group responsible for dozens of firebombs and death threats. ... And PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich told an animal rights convention in 2001 that `blowing stuff up and smashing windows' is `a great way to bring about animal liberation.'

Another legitimate gripe. See refute to point number 2, it applies to this point word for word exactly as it above.

4) PETA activists regularly target children as young as six years old with anti-meat and anti-milk propaganda, often waiting outside their schools to intercept them as they walk to and from class-without notifying parents. One piece of kid-targeted PETA literature tells small children: `Your Mommy Kills Animals!' ...

Two points here: First, so what? Targeting children makes a gallon of sense since they're still forming their moral compass and Milk, Mc Donalds, Burger King, the ARMY, toy companies, big tobacco and countless others target children, so as much as it might be a legitimate problem, attacking just PETA for this is pretty insane. Perhaps that isn't a valid defense of the practice, but certainly it has become an accepted behavior in our society and to argue that point needs a whole additional forum. Second, specifically regarding "You Mommy Kills Animals!", well, PETA is crass. This sort of naked assault is pretty disgusting, so I'm not going to say anything other than this is pretty much just attacking the messenger the same way point 2 and 3 do. They say very little about the message and focus entirely on the messenger.

6) PETA runs campaigns seemingly calculated to offend religious believers. ... PETA insists, contrary to centuries of rabbinical teaching, that the Jewish ritual of kosher slaughter shouldn't be allowed. And its infamous `Holocaust on Your Plate' campaign crassly compares the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide with farm animals.

Without being to overtly anti-religion here, I would say it's awfully hard to get out a solid paragraph of opinion without offending a religious believer. PETA is engaging in some smoke and mirrors here by claiming Jesus was a vegetarian, for example. Personally, I think that a mythological caricature is open season for anyone who wants to apply believes and values to them. They do so at the risk of evoking the wrath of others who've assigned different beliefs to that mythological caricature, but hey, religion is all about assigning beliefs and getting pissed at people who've assigned different beliefs, so it seems like the circle of life to me.

What I find interesting here is how clearly the last point of this paragraph draws a line in the sand between animal rights subscribers and pretty much everyone else. I think the most fundamental divide between these groups is simply their calculation of worth for animals in general. In one group we have people who see animals as being different, but more similar than not. This group sees a row of baby chicks having their beaks seared and sheared off in a press and see very little different, ethically speaking, than a human baby having its nose sliced off by red hot shears while crying for his or her mother. If one assumes that all life has equal value regardless of species, this is essentially what is happening. Put in those terms it is a pretty horrific visual and I think its hard to argue with the kind of urgency and venom that members of PETA respond with.

At the same time, Group B sees animals as largely raw material. Those baby chicks could just as easily be ears of corn, only they're "cuter" because of childhood years of stuffed animals and Disney movies. I don't happen to agree with Group B, and believe that their position is one of happy convenience and intellectual laziness, but at least I can understand it. To this group the idea of letting people go inconvenienced, unemployed, hungry or even die because some crazy hippy breast fed too long and never experienced the real world is absolutely insane. It's true that groups like PETA like to come off like elitist, and since there is a built-in sense of unimportance in Group B's beliefs, irrationally idealistic. (Note: This last paragraph reads to me as pretentious but I'm not sure how else to express it. Suggestions welcome.)

Ultimately, however, if one considers Group A's values it is a completely valid and unavoidable to compare the Holocaust with the inarguably horrific living conditions and inarguably horrific dying conditions of 10 billion[1] food animals per year in the US alone. In fact, in those terms the Holocaust is pale in comparison considering that about 1600 times as many food animals die every year in the United States than Jews in the entirety of World War 2. Now before you whip out your torches and pitchforks I'll point out that I'm expressing this comparison as an illumination of PETA's argument. I happen to think that the two are apples and oranges and that both examples are well past the threshold of death and suffering that measurement even any longer has meaning.

7) PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, because they support animal-based research that might uncover cures for birth defects and life-threatening diseases. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has said that `even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it.'

I'll just briefly note that this argument once again focuses on the Group A, Group B issue. In fact, though it serves as much less of a flash-point than the Holocaust ever could, the point is essentially identical. We have a two groups who both likely believe that killing perfectly healthy persons to discover a cure to a disease is a terribly wrong thing to do; and we also have two groups of people with dramatically opposite opinions of what exactly a "person" is. I don't think there is much else to be said here that I haven't already said above.

Thoughts

At least from this particular article I think it's clear that we have one soldier of an army of rephrasing talking points. As with many articles I've read attacking animal rights ideology the same themes appear over and over again, those being that the focus resides on the bad behaviour of activists rather than the message itself and that many arguments are restatements of the core belief being argued as a presumed truth. This often takes the "No zoos? I mean, come on! No zoos?" structure of simply phrasing any contrary idea as outright nonsense without bothering to address them.

Unfortunately, the entire dialog also carries a similar smell to certain school ground arguments I remember having when I was in grade 5. PETA calls meat eaters Nazis and meat eaters need only mention that PETA is calling them Nazis to show the ignorance of both sides. PETA will create child targeted propaganda, the mainstream meat industry will create child targeted propaganda, and then in true gladiatorial style they'll vilify each-other for it.

It all occurs to me to be a blindly ideological war in which both sides have already stopped thinking and are merely charging and swinging. Perhaps PETA has done a good job in forcing the animal industry as a whole to the bargaining table in one form or another, but it seems to me that we will see no peace in our time.

1 - The Food Revolution by John Robbins (2001), Diet for a New America by John Robbins (1987), Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet and the Rainforest Action Network.

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Hal Turner's at it again bringing free, if questionably valuable, speech to the poor and comparably innocent citizens of Kingston. In slightly other news: the poor, disenfranchised, unemployed and *gasp* brownish people of France still really, really hate cars. I mean, they really hate those things.

Finally, news flash allusions in Haiku form:

Because of Darwin
You are going to hell
Unlike K. Malone

Sony sucks a lot
but Costco oddly does not
Wal-Mart still Satan

Wadda' Ya Get When You Mix White Supremacy With Sanity? It Isn't A Schicht-Kuchen, That's For Sure

I'm always happy to have a news post go by where this guy hasn't done something dangerous, scary or crazy but unfortunately it wasn't in the cards in the past couple of weeks. In fact he's gone and done something dangerous, crazy and scary. We might want to slap irresponsible on there too.

I'm regularly stricken with the sheer velocity with which Turner changes his stance on race given his penchant for oscillating between conservative isolationist and outright hating crazy-person, but little compares with the tower of waffles served up by the man in the last few weeks. Among the perpetual masturbatory and high school-ish inner politicking of the various White Supremacist groups Hal Turner has alone stepped forward to raise the torch of intolerance and lead the way to Kingston, New York. He's leaving the pitch-fork wielding to the vivacious "angrywhitewoman", Turner supporter and clearly the holder of several doctorates.

There's too much to get into here for the moment, but the Kingston Times has this background. Oh, and I'm putting in my early prediction that the Rally slated for Nov 19th at 12 noon will break down into a fully fledged riot some time around 12:15. I mean, if there are Nazi's there (only possibly in uniform) what could possibly go wrong?

Hello Religion, My Old Friend, I've Come to Blame Ignorance On You Again

Because Intelligent Design is softly creeping, Left it's seeds while Dover was sleeping, That's right, the man who brought you "...but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." and that accepting gays might bring God's wrath in various forms of biblical unpleasantness, is now after the Godless heathens in Dover.

Pat Robertson has not too subtly alluded to the fact that should Dover's citizens be struck with, oh I don't know, "possibly a meteor", not to go praying to God for help. Wait, that's not an allusion! "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God..." seems to be pretty darn literal. All of this forces me to wonder what Robertson's stake in this really is. After all, one of the biggest distinguishing features of Intelligent Design from Creationism is that ID doesn't require any specific deity. Hence not quite as obviously supernatural and therefore quite slightly more likely to slip under the pesky logic radar that science professors so childishly cling to. Wait, you don't mean to tell me that Intelligent Design is exactly the same thing as Creationism only in Cool Blue, do you?

Regardless, there seems to be a lot of invoking of wraith, pestilence and general nastiness going around in the press these days. It's good to see, too, I must say. Nothing like a Fair and Balanced judgement from O'Reilly to the tune of:

We're going to say, "look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

Seriously, people, I wish I was making this stuff up. Just to restore the religious balance though, I should mention that hardcore and immoral Muslims are fucktards too, because I don't want to be unduly harsh to only the Christian idiots.

Trivia: Who is 6'9, Weighs 256 Pounds, is My Brand New Hero and Has a Name With Too Many Syllables For a Good Haiku?

If you guessed the man who sidestepped a government stonewall against doing high cost charity work and genuinely helped in the rebuilding of New Orleans then you guessed right! That's right, NBA player Karl Malone used some of his money and properties to do the right thing much to the chagrin of the gouging contractors, and boy-howdy does it ever make me smile every time I think about it.

Want to know something else crazy? It would seem that Costco is a pretty decent company run by a pretty decent guy. When the hell did that happen? We're talking about a retailer paying $17 an hour, good health plans and a CEO who says insanely sane things like "Having an individual who is making 100 or 200 or 300 times more than the average person working on the floor is wrong." about his own salary! In response boorish, elitist assho... sorry, analysts like Emme Kozloff were heard spouting such gems as "He has been too benevolent" about his policies towards his employees; and Douche Bag representative .. oh sorry, Deutsche Bank representative Bill Dreher could be heard vomiting "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder".

What I have to ask here is how our culture has become so nakedly elitist that commentary like the above can come out without so much as a raised eyebrow? Is this actually normal? I know we have mass layoffs by successful companies, record oil profits along side record oil prices and oh yeah, Halliburton is still making a metric googol of money, but do we never hit a point where the pure abrasion of it is just too much to bear? I guess if Wal-Mart (the movie), Wal-Mart (the dehumanizing discrimination) and Wal-Mart (epically corrupt) isn't enough we must have a ways to go.

How About Something Not a Company Behaving Badly? No? Ok!

Sony and DRM. They're like abusive, capricious peas in a pod. Dirty, slimy, insecure peas it would seem since their possibly illegal rootkit has recently made the press when their unwelcome DRM scheme started facilitating the spread of a trojan. Way to make a security enhancing product you misfitted retards. The good news, though, is that their retardation is at least cross platform and will hopefully be causing security holes on the soon Mac too. (Thanks for the lead on this one, pierre)

And Finally, What's Worse Than an Anti-Torture Amendment That Doesn't Pass?

That's simple! One that passes, and then is struck down by what I believe would be Bush's first use of his Veto. For the love of... WHO STRIKES DOWN AN ANTI-TORTURE LAW? I mean, it's torture! Isn't that the presidential equivalent of the drivers test question: "You see a little old lady in the street, do you? a) Stop. b) Speed up, but honk."? Obviously the US President did well on the other questions I don't remember because I clearly remember that you have to at least swerve around the old lady, or flash your lights or something.

Finally, I hate Onyx.

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Opinion

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    - Aaron
    The word is out that those responsible for the leak of information from within the administration and those receiving without may face soon be legal repercussions. I'm impressed at how naked a use o...
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  • I DO Enjoy Myself, From Time To Time

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    I'm not even saying it is accurate, just that it was fun to make.
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