Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thinking About Turning Up the Heat

As some of you probably know, I didn't exactly have high expectations of Obama when I voted for him, only that he'd be better than McCain. Had some conversations in meatspace on the topic. Most of us were expecting him more about Gitmo, Blackwater, and such.

My counselor is hoping he's just biding his time so that the wingnuts can't claim he messed everything up by strong arming in his first year. With any other Democratic president, I could see the logic in that. With the current attitude the Republicans have with "Barack Hussein Obama," I have a hard time believing anything will get them to calm down. You know, kind of like fundies have with even the tiniest concessions to science.

So, naturally, I'm more cynical than my counselor, so I'll eventually write up a post about all the things we wanted Obama to get over with. I'm mostly speaking of the stuff we'd consider no-brainers. So, please drop by and post issues and links. I don't want to end up forgetting anything as a result of the red herrings tossed out by the fringe about his alleged religion or birthplace.

49 comments:

Joshua said...

I suspect it's not so much biding time to calm down the wingnuts so much as biding time in the hope that Washington's Compulsive Centrists might wake up to the fact that the only people who actually support torture are fucking wackaloons whose opinion doesn't matter.

Whether or not that will actually work is another matter entirely. I have my doubts. Like Nismoonschenbaum, most Deeply Serious People like the current crop of obstructivist Blue Dogs in Congress are far more set in their ways -- out of sheer intellectual laziness and venality -- than even the most rabid zealot.

djfav said...

You might want to check the recent archives of Dispatches from the Cultures Wars. I'll see if I can round up some links, but not tonight. I've got some gaming to do.

Pew pew pew...

James K said...

I'm a regular reader of Ed's blog as well and I have to say there is little room for optimism here. At the end of the day, Democrat or Republican he's still a politician.

The fact is, these don't appear to be issues he cares much about, so he's focusing his effort and political capital on stuff he does care about, like rewarding the constituencies that put him in power.

If I can riff of Joshua's point for a minute, there seems to be a bizare tendency in US politics to run to the edges of the political spectrum, as oppoed to the centre, which is what happens in every other country. Why is that, don't your politicians realise the median voter determines the election result?

Valhar2000 said...

What if he is pandering to "the center"? What if his actions are in line with the professed interests of the Average American Idiot?

James K said...

Possible, and I can get behind a low estimation of the median voter, but I was actually thinking more of the Republicans. Surely they realise that their puff up the base strategy can't work. I expect politicians to have stupid policy beliefs because good policy doesn't get you elected. But bad election strategy? That just doesn't make sense.

Valhar2000 said...

Well, it's probably a cyclic thing.

Say at first both parties pander to separate constituencies, and then realize that there are people in the center who are not voting for either who might be reeled in with the appropriate rhetoric. When one party tries this and succeeds, the other one will follow suit, as we have seen.

However, eventually, both parties are competing fiercely for the center, until one of them realizes that they have a lot of people in the fringe who could be reeled in my cranking the rhetoric up a notch, with the added advantage that the other party will never be able to touch them.

The latter is what I think we have seen with the GOP and the Fundies since Reagan, and it has worked extremely well for them. It may be backfiring now, but one cannot fault them for trying to maintain what has for 2 decades been such an effective system.

Dunc said...

I'm quite a bit more cynical - pols don't pander to voters, they pander to their financial backers. They're far more concerned about the "investor class" than mere proles like us.

Then there's the fact that people tend to relate much better to the concerns of people in their own social stratum / in-group than other people. Think of it as the "Country Club effect" - if you are a member of the same club (or a very similar one), you're part of the in-group, and your concerns are regarded as important. So pols inevitably relate better to the so-called "great and the good" (i.e. the guys with private jets and lots of staff) than ordinary working folks.

All else is just campaign rhetoric. They'll say anything if they think people will fall for it.

djfav said...

Well, that was easy. Just go to Dispatches and search for "Obama administration". That should get you started. Happy hunting.

James K said...

Dunc:

I'm not so sure about that, in The Myth of the Rational Voter economist Bryan Caplan provides some reasonable evidence that popular opinion does drive policy.

Dunc said...

OK, yeah, it's a bit more complicated than that... Whaddya expect in a blog comment? ;)

Although I have my doubts about this "popular opinion" thing... Who's popular opinion? Assessed how, exactly? Over here in the UK, the phrase "popular opinion" generally means "the opinions of the editors of the major tabloid newspapers". I'm not entirely convinced that anybody really knows what the real "popular opinions" actually are.

Valhar2000 said...

Well, public policy must be tailored to the electorate in order for politicians to be re-elected. It is not tailored in the way that we would like, of course, since it seems to be very easy to use psychological tricks to get people to vote against their own self-interest, but the fact remains that elected officials have to give their constituencies something.

An good example of this is how the GOP attempts to put conservative loons in the Supreme Court, the Faith Based initiatives, the National Day of prayer, etc.

These things are far less important than the favors they do for the large business interests that support them, obviously, but they are nonetheless big and showy, and they get the fundies to come back.

In a similar vein, Barack Obama attempts to push through a Health Care reform, and talks about hope, change, and unity (all things his voters want to hear), all the while working in the background to maintain and even extend that unconstitutional powers that Dubya gave the presidential office. If Obama tried to extend the power of his office directly, he wouldn't be voted for again, so he does give his voters something back.

Gabriel said...

So you prefer our great nation to be run by a negro ape rather then a white war hero? Thats just glorious, see what our nation turns into now, more violence and crime and 'special treatment' for his fellow blackies no doubt.

King of Ferrets said...

Mmmm, racism!

By the way, I might be remembering wrong, but didn't the "war hero" give massive amounts of information to someone or other after getting captured? Or am I thinking of someone else?

Gabriel said...

racist racist racist.

Is that the only word you can use? Instead od debating and 'show proof' that I am 'wrong', just call him a racist and leave it. You are tragic dude.

White peopel built this nation, and yes, we did use negros as LABOURER, as that is what they where good for, but they did not 'create' our nation, we USED them, just as we use other animals, sheep, horses dogs etc. Some even can (almost) compete with whites in education, if they are trained enough. Look at that negro guy that playes golf? Ok, its golf, he hits a white ball, but still, he is good at it, he cant do anything else but he is good at that, good for him, because he lives in AMERICA and we give him a chance.

Stop the racist bullshit and if you want to criticize, do so but dont do ad hominem, thats tragic and weak.

James K said...

Dunc:

I don't know how it works in the UK (or the US for that matter), but in New Zealand politicians are always commissioning polls and focus groups to find out what people want. For that matter, public consultation is a big part of most regulatory initiatives.

After reading Caplan's book I became convinced the reasons so much of our economic policy is stupid is that the electorate (or the median voter at least) wants it that way.

Kinda depressing really.

Bronze Dog said...

Seems like the troll couldn't just stick to the Pharyngula thread.

Judging people by different standards based on skin color is racism.

And, of course, the absence of a difference is a null hypothesis. The burden of proof is on the people who say there is a difference. If you'd like to demonstrate such a difference, please bear in mind you'll need to include a fair number of controls, otherwise it's no better than anecdote.

As for McCain versus Obama, McCain was just horrible-looking for policy. There's a reason he was nicknamed "McSame." We certainly didn't need four more years of fundie insanity. I voted for Obama because he was both A) better qualified and B) stood a chance at winning.

King of Ferrets said...

Yes, white people built this nation. Yes, they did use black people as laborers.

You're a racist if you think that means that's all blacks can do, because that doesn't mean that labor is all that blacks are good at. In fact, the most likely reason for that was because the white people at that time didn't let the blacks do anything else!

Since you haven't provided some actual, y'know, evidence that the mere fact that he has darker skin means that he's automatically less capable as a leader, I think I'm fully justified in dismissing criticisms that are based solely on that fact.

St.B said...

Lol, Doggie got himself a PZ troll.

@ Gabriel- it’s you that needs to show proof. First off, you spell as a canuck or resident of the UK, not American standardized. So buddy don’t be calling yourself “WE” when referring to Americans unless you have some pompous glitch to be all fancified with your linguistics. (Which attempting to seem intelligent with the spew your vomiting… well… it’s a veritable oxymoron.)

Secondly, please show your proof and verifiable data that supports your contention that the actions of white colonists/early Americans, within America, in the last 300 plus years is a conclusion to evolutionary “racial” superiority. (Emmhmm, you’re the one that pigeon holed yourself in that nice tight corner.)

Third, your feeble attempt to play dense by naming Tiger Woods “that negro that plays golf”, well this is a pretty sharp crowd, we could have concluded your density level without the help. Nice try sunshine but you have too many loopholes in your troll technique, go back to MySpace.


Now to the original post… Obama was the only choice where I could justify a vote. I am one of those mentioned centrist types. I tend to look with skepticism at any extremes. I prefer my nice little niche here in the middle with the options to glean the best of all views. Swinging left and right of center has the benefits of being allowed to make better choices for society in general and myself specifically.

I’m still laughing my ever loving tush off that the boy followed the Dog home. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Heh.

Gabriel said...

Well, I've lived in United Kingdom and the U.S so my linguistics is slightly skewed and not 'true american', correct. I do find it ironic that I get 'bashed' for proper use of words mindyou, I, as an American, consider most americans spelling to be horrid, not to mention most of my friends and people I know, highly educated, have a very very limited limited vocabulary, whiles my English friends, even the lowest of 'classes' are far more articulate.

Okay, overkill with my spewing, got busted, fine fine, but let me ask a question here regarding this, especially considering both our racist white supremacist friends and creationist crowd;

Where does this line Go? And talking about it in a none racist manner, with no bias, wouldn't you have to refer to 'superior' and 'inferior' classes somehow?

Look, what I am curious about, in a way of study, is that we as Humans, evolved from our ancestors whom came from Africa, now these same people had ancestors that where, in OUR definition, inferior to us (Evolution has nothing to do with inferior superior, remember, so this is subjective to the human species), so where is the line?

Africans are, by definition, more 'closely' related to our ancestors, our ancestors are, in our own human perception, inferior to us, and therefore wouldn't africans by nature be inferior to 'less' african people? If you understand what I mean here?

Skip the racial side of this, what do you guys think? Whiles we evolved, and skin color is because of the enviroment, but as people we volved similarly, but yet differently.... Or are you missing what I am trying to say here?

St.B said...

Well well, hello Gabe, welcome to the world of open dialogue and idea sharing. You should apologize to Mr. Dog and PZ for pooping on their pages though. Lol. You ornery little prat. I do love it when people surprise me.

In my opinion, and simply my opinion, “inferior” and “superior” is best left to describing inanimate objects. As far as using those terms in light of evolutionary concepts, it would be regarded as specious. When looking at evolution try to see it as compartmentalized, each level is based upon but independent of the one before it. Evolutionary changes happen subjectively due to environments etc., not as specifics of actual advancement towards a superior status. I am not an anthropologist nor any science mind. I’m sure you will get many appropriate replies to your question.

Bronze Dog said...

Well, that's a better tone. This might get interesting sooner than I expected.

...wouldn't you have to refer to 'superior' and 'inferior' classes somehow?

In evolution, I would think those terms would be "existent" and "extinct." That's about the closest evolution comes to those. Of course, the difference between those things is largely a matter of circumstance.

Look, what I am curious about, in a way of study, is that we as Humans, evolved from our ancestors whom came from Africa, now these same people had ancestors that where, in OUR definition, inferior to us (Evolution has nothing to do with inferior superior, remember, so this is subjective to the human species), so where is the line?

Define "superior" and "inferior" as you're using them. Can't answer a question when it's indistinct.

Africans are, by definition, more 'closely' related to our ancestors, our ancestors are, in our own human perception, inferior to us, and therefore wouldn't africans by nature be inferior to 'less' african people? If you understand what I mean here?

That doesn't make sense unless you assume that precisely nothing has changed in Africa since the emigrating population left. Even if you did, however, I see no reason to think that anything other than a few climate adaptations separate non-Africans from Africans. Said changes only confer advantages under circumstances that are nearly moot thanks to technology.

It's the fallacy of "evolutionary levels."

Skip the racial side of this, what do you guys think? Whiles we evolved, and skin color is because of the enviroment, but as people we volved similarly, but yet differently.... Or are you missing what I am trying to say here?

Non-Africans went some different directions, and Africans continued in a relatively similar one. Though IIRC, the Africans have higher overall genetic diversity because they didn't have migrating groups to bottleneck their mating choices.

St.B said...

Lollers Doggie. Heh.

djfav said...

Racist troll is racist.

And seems to be asking "Why are there still monkeys".

What a fucking moron.

Gabriel said...

Yes, I apologize for previous trolling, I was bored :(


You said:
"Define "superior" and "inferior" as you're using them. Can't answer a question when it's indistinct."

And here comes the issue, its so hard to even talk about this because of our wonderful history of racism and oppression, so I need to really be careful how to formulate it :)

In human eyes, I assume intellect and understanding is what makes us 'superior' in this sense. Highly subjective of course, but speaking of the human race and any differences we may have between eachother. As stated earlier, Evolution is not a ladder as our Creationist friends think, and I do not consider humans 'superior' to chimpanzees for example, we evolved differently.

But speaking from a purely biased human perspective, we can claim that we are 'superior' to all other animals that do not share certain traits with us, this is just what our religious friends do, and then intellect and understanding, as we conceive it, the main issue.


Now, my wonderings here is, and I am not very knowledgeable in the area of anthropology; 1. When during our evolution did we become what we today would define as 'human', this being with our 'higher intellect' and self-awareness and such?

And the highly controversial part:

2. If we then evolved, -> in human perspective <-, 'upwards', becoming more intelligent, wouldn't that mean that we are continuing this evolutionary trait, whiles our previous ancestor, 5k, 10k or 50k years ago, are 'inferior' in this sense?

djfav said...

Translation: White people are superior.

Die in a fire, you racist piece of shit.

djfav said...

"...I’m sure you will get many appropriate replies to your question."

See above.

djfav said...

Where'd you go, racist fucktard?

"Stop the racist bullshit..."

No, you stop the racist bullshit.

"...and if you want to criticize, do so but dont do ad hominem, thats tragic and weak.

You, sir, are tragic and weak.

Bronze Dog said...

Well, I guess I'll continue in my calmer tone, since I'm enjoying flexing my memory and thinking about this sort of stuff.

Now, my wonderings here is, and I am not very knowledgeable in the area of anthropology; 1. When during our evolution did we become what we today would define as 'human', this being with our 'higher intellect' and self-awareness and such?

The answer to that, I imagine, isn't based on genes so much as memes: The ideas we use: Inventions, philosophy, science, and so forth. The trait that allowed us to develop such things was our plasticity: We survive by learning about our environment. We've done so to the point that many people living in developed nations consider death by old age for granted.

Many key inventions dealing with communication of memes accelerated human development as a civilized species: Writing, the printing press, reliable methods of storing and accessing information.

But before you can have people devoted to inventing memes, you need to give them stability and spare time: You need food staples that allow people to settle in one location without worrying about where their next meal will come from. Some places don't have the climate for that, or sources of food that encourage nomadic lifestyles.

Put simply, some people were in the right places at the right time for certain developments. Genetics doesn't have influence over that sort of "luck."

2. If we then evolved, -> in human perspective <-, 'upwards', becoming more intelligent, wouldn't that mean that we are continuing this evolutionary trait, whiles our previous ancestor, 5k, 10k or 50k years ago, are 'inferior' in this sense?

Since we're talking about memes, rather than genes, it's entirely possible to kill off the inferior memes a person has, if you can get to him while he's still willing to have new ideas impressed upon him.

Take the current instability in Africa, though I'm not versed in the fine details: There are a lot of people born in poverty, threatened by various forces, and raised to oppose them violently. We can say they're being raised in barbarism, but that's got nothing to do with genetic supremacy: I see no reason to believe that if an African from an unstable nation were adopted in infancy and raised by a caring, stable family in a first world country, he'd be any better or worse than a native under those circumstances, aside from artificial discrimination. One example with sexism: Women are catching up to men in terms of math ability, suggesting it's dominantly a cultural phenomenon that kept them back, not a genetic one.

In developed nations, though, there are some remaining shades of discrimination and cultural problems that are causing some instability in minorities' lives. Reducing discrimination based on skin phenotype and insuring equality of opportunity is the best thing to do: Those who have better abilities will naturally excel on their own, and don't need any sort of help imposed on them. Those who do manage to develop improved abilities from "inferior" stock due to mutation or helpful combination of recessive genes won't need to overcome artificial hurdles planted by myopic eugenicists.

In short, give everyone an equal chance to find their niche in society and prosper or fail on their own merits or lack thereof. A level playing field would serve as a better control than sifting through all the political, historical, and geographic kerfuffles that muddy the picture today.

I don't expect Utopia to ever happen, but we might as well smooth out as many unnecessary hills and valleys as we can.

Bronze Dog said...

Minor tweak: Should have put that comment about sex and math ability into a different spot for clarity.

djfav said...

I wouldn't bother correcting anything. I doubt he'll even read it. I have it on good authority that racists are illiterate dumbshits. It's in their genes.

Bronze Dog said...

Understandable, given pattern recognition with other racist trolls I've encountered.

But I can't remember if I've encountered one like this who can improve his tone so fast and actually ask questions, so I'm having fun.

Getting back on my Vyvanse after a few days without also helps with enjoying the process, rather than let the frustration take out a chunk of the amusement during my ambivalence... You know, I'm not a pharma shill, but I think I could do a good job as one for this stuff right now if I wanted to.

St.B said...

Ok dj, lol, go ahead, I can hear your mental “told ya so”. I’m a Polly Anna and still hoping it’s just an issue of semantics and the questions are legitimate. If someone wants to actually learn we can’t always fault them for the knowledge they arrive with, you can just attempt to help them advance their concepts to more modern science or information.

Gabe, you need to try to see evolution as not so linear, it’s more of a 3 dimensional hodgepodge. Once you can let go of the concept of higher, lower, inferior, superior, it will click for you.

Gabe-“Evolution is not a ladder as our Creationist friends think, and I do not consider humans 'superior' to chimpanzees for example, we evolved differently.
But speaking from a purely biased human perspective, we can claim that we are 'superior' to all other animals that do not share certain traits with us, this is just what our religious friends do, and then intellect and understanding, as we conceive it, the main issue.”

If you do understand that we are not “superior” to chimps, then you already negated your secondary sentence. Bias is generally the way into the darkness, lol, come back little Gabetroll, come back into the light.

Dog, I like stalking this page, woohoo, good times.

St.B said...

Are we going to get spanked for helping your blog train go off the tracks? HEEEEEEEEEE

djfav said...

Woooossssaaaahhhhhh!

Anyway, I have a very low tolerance for this shit right now. I recently threw my best friend of 6 years out of my apartment for being a closeted racist, xenophobic, eugenics monger.

Who knew?

Bronze Dog said...

Feel free to stick around for future posts, St.B [Saint Bernard? ;)]. I've been getting a bit of inspiration, lately.

And yeah, I often disregard my own comment policy if I'm enjoying myself. I am, so this derail's a-okay. I may attempt to rerail this onto a new post.

St.B said...

LMAO Saint Bernard, haaaaa. It’s St. Brat. WOOF. Your fault anyway, I stalked you from PZ’s page, I couldn’t resist. Dj seems pretty tough, I think we could handle it if you dump us off on some lonesome thread waiting to lambaste trolls and idiots.

Bronze Dog said...

I'll put something up tomorrow along with a redirecting comment.

djfav said...

Yay! Troll roast! Like in the good ol' days!

St.B said...

I shall now commence stalking Dj's page also. Everyone should benefit from a little St. Brat pooh on their page.

djfav said...

Stalk me, baby. Stalk me.

I just hope Gabriel doesn't tag along.

DM said...

nothing you liars ever say or do means anything:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/640-million-dollar-challenge-update-its-not-ending.html

HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=264

the objective was simple:

1) to reveal that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet who could predict
the future with 100% accuracy;

2) to demonstrate that prophecy and atheism are not compatible with
each other and are mutually exclusive;

3) therefore dawkins, pz, randi and their skeptic atheist followers
were deluded liars...

and we achieved our MISSION 100%...

http://www.zerotime.com/lostbook/nospre.htm

"For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment
is complete. Then *****SEVERAL TIMES***** in the course of the doleful
tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and
show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods
and continual rain of which I have written more fully in my other
prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence,
in prose, limiting the places and times and ****EXACT DATES**** so
that future generations will see, while experiencing these
****INEVITABLE EVENTS****, how I have listed others in clearer
language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be
understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the
matter will be clearer still."

UNDERSTAND?

Bronze Dog said...

Ah, a more familiar troll.

So, why don't you show us your application for the million, Dave? How about telling us the mutually agreed on test protocols?

djfav said...

We got a live one!

St.B said...

Ohh, goody, Troll the Sequel! DJ! to the bratmobile.

Bronze Dog said...

Don't get your hopes too high. Dave's usually just copypasta.

djfav said...

Look out! Drive-by troll!

St.B said...

You're right Dog, I'm checking out the links he provided. I didn't think I could laugh anymore for one day, but I was WRONG. Dave your pasta is limp, but thanks for some smiles, at your expense. ^5

MWchase said...

Ugh... late to the party... was going to ask Gabe if he was judging by education-related stuff, and, if so, whether he'd accept that Asian immigrants are superior to whites.

Anyway, spilled milk and all.

Random thought: somebody should have a spider follow all of Mabus's links to generate a graph of his copypastacity.

Not much to say on the original topic, sadly. I mean, if you're not already, you might want to have a look at http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/

Bronze Dog said...

Okay, I've set up some rails for Gabriel's fun derail. Continue the discussion of race and memetic evolution in this linked thread.

I don't expect Dave Mabus to respond, but I've already set up a thread for him.

Continue discussion of stuff I should criticize Obama about here.