Finally, some non-political links! Three of em!
Finally, some non-political links! Three of em!
Sorry. All politics today.
I don’t think much of this site. I posted three different excerpts from my novel and found out I write either like Athur C. Clark, Jane Austen or J. D. Salinger.
Joe Posnanski lists his picks as the 100 best movies he’s seen. Since that post went up a week ago, I’ve been mulling over a post of my own on this subject. I’m still deciding whether to go with my 100 favorite or the 100 best. The difference is subtle but important. By “100 favorite movies” I mean 100 I’d want with me on a desert island (I mean, besides “How to build a raft out of a palm trees and fingernail clippings”). By “100 best movies”, I mean the 100 I’d give to aliens if they said they were going to destroy our civilization and that would be all the remained.
I’ll mull this over and maybe put up a post once week on the subject. I have a deep love of movies, I like lists and I like talking about myself — hence the blog. So this sounds like it’s right up my alley.
Numerous conservatives, to their credit, are coming out and apologizing to Shirley Sherrod and admitting they were wrong. Morrissey has done so; as has Jonah Goldberg and others.
I post this not because of any I told you so mentality because I’m hoping — maybe against hope — that this incident will inject a little bit of skepticism into the Right (and Left) Wing Outrage Machines. Character assassination is just too easy in the Age of the Internet.
(I also note on the Hot Air link that more than half the readers think Sherrod should get her job back. For Sherrod to get that much support from a blog as right wing as Hot Air is remarkable. And encouraging.)
God-damn it, I am sick of this shit.
It show you how cynical I’ve gotten that when I heard of a supposedly racist story from Shirley Sherrod, my alarm bells went off. I assumed that we weren’t seeing the whole story.
God damn it, I hate being right all the time.
The wife of the white farmer allegedly discriminated against by the USDA’s rural development director for Georgia said Shirley Sherrod “kept us out of bankruptcy.”
Eloise Spooner, 82, awoke Tuesday to discover that Sherrod had lost her job after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web.
Sherrod, who is black, told the crowd she didn’t do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.
“What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him,” Sherrod said in the video, recorded March 27 in Douglas in southeast Georgia.
But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a “friend for life,” said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.
Read the whole thing.
This is not the first time, this is not the second time, this is not the 871st time this has happened. Conservatives are constantly bombarded with the Outrage of the Day from right wing media whores who will saying anything, distort anything and never fact check if it gets them page views, viewers or listeners. Right now, we have this ridiculous controversy over the “ground zero mosque”, a small mosque in a larger building that is two blocks away from Ground Zero and has no view of it. And don’t even get me started on Climategate and global warming.
My skepticism over these dog whistle stories — skepticism that is proving again and again to be warranted — is born of my fundamental conservatism. When a story plays to my pre-conceived ideas, I question it. I’ve been fooled too many times to just jump in and start screaming. Blogging, incidentally, has stimulated my skepticism because if I get burned by a bad story, I get burned publicly.
One of the reasons I shied away from liberalism was precisely this sort of thing. In the 80′s and 90′s, liberals would distort stories or simply make them up to score political points. Mitch Snyder made up three million homeless, for example.
Conservatives, at that time, tended to stick a little closer to facts, the odd welfare queen hysteria not withstanding. This is no longer the case, it would seem.
This has to stop. Conservatives can not be taken seriously when they howl a the moon every time Andrew Breitbart of Matt Drudge or Sarah Palin say “werewolf”.
Update: Just to be clear: I’m not happy about what Sherrod said or apparently did. And I thought her speech kept circling back to the race question. My point here, however, is that no one bothered to dig up the entire story; they just screamed with outrage. The conservatives like to play the “if it happened to us” game all the time. If a conservative told a story about overcoming bigotry, would they be denounced like this?
Update: The NAACP has the full video and has apologized for supporting Sherrod’s resignation. Apparently, she was talking about overcoming racism in the context of USDA’s ongoing efforts to settle past discrimination.
The NAACP are showing a lot of class here. The thing for conservatives to do now is to admit they were snookered and participated in a smear job.
Soda is the latest enemy of the food grabbers. Having been so successful in first forcing us to use trans fats, then forcing us to abandon them; having had their triumph of adding calorie counts to menus and seeing calorie consumption go up; having pushed non-fat foods that load us up with carbs; they are building on the spectacular record of utter complete failure by going to war with soda. If it were not for the vile bubbly, we would all look like Victoria’s Secret models, or something. San Francisco has banned it from public buildings; NYC’s Nanny State mayor is attacking it and everyone wants to tax it.
This is typical of those who love government. Every failure is met not with a reconsideration of their view but with a call for more action. They utterly refuse to believe that government is incapable of making people live good lives.
(And it’s also typical of tax policy. Politicians always want more revenue. An easy way to get it is to tax whatever is unpopular at the moment. Cigarettes were a good target for a while, but they’re maxed out.)
Jonah Lehrer does a good job with the case for, citing a DOA study that claims a soda tax would reduce calorie consumption by 20-40 calories a day. But even his post is being selectively quoted by supporters. He notes that people may make up the calories in other places. He further notes that diet sodas have a tendency to increase calorie consumption.
The scientists argue that fake sugar is dangerous because it subverts a crucial homeostatic mechanism, as the the brain uses the sweetness of a food to keep track of its intake. More sugar implies more calories; the tongue is a natural energy detector. The problem with diet sodas is that they make this system unreliable, so that the presence of of intense sweetness no longer means anything. (And it’s not just rodents: a similar effect has been observed in humans.) The hypothalamus gets confused. The end result is that we lose touch with the energetic needs of our body. Instead of eating to sate a hunger, we just eat. And eat.
Lehrer says this make the case for a complete ban, but I’m not convinced.
Making the case against is Cato. They note five problems with the soda ban:
1) The scientific evidence that soda is making us fat is tenuous at best.
2) Taxes would have to be pretty extreme to measurably cut soda consumption.
3) Past experience is that poor people tend to make up the calories elsewhere and eat even less healthily. In short, the side effect of a soda ban might be doritos at dinner in place of peas.
4) A soda tax is massively regressive. This is true of all “sin” taxes. In another post, they note that rich guy indulgences — Starbucks, for example — are actually worse than soda. So there’s a certain amount of snobbery here in depriving the masses of their opiate while letting the elites keep theirs.
5) It threatens individual choice.
I’m not opposed to sin taxes on alcohol or cigarettes since the link between those and bad health is conclusive. However, obesity is such a complex issue with such nebulous cause, I’m reluctant to have the all-wise all-knowing government jump in and decree what people can and can not consume. As I say all the time — they do not have the track record to earn the benefit of a doubt here.
So should government do nothing? Actually, I somewhat agree with Sullivans’ readers. The best thing the government could do is lift trade restrictions on sugar and stop corn subsidies. The heavy use of HFCS in our diet may not be having an effect on us (studies are inconclusive). But a market distortion that large has to have some negative consequences, no?
Sarah Palin recently put up a facebook note that is being hailed in some quarters as her first brilliant foray into foreign policy.
Bullshit. It’s nothing but slogans and talking points nailed and glued together. Clever quips that mean nothing and Right Wing dog whiste blowing. She doesn’t say anything original or, indeed, accurate. This is what the GOP has come to: a speech that Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t open his show with on a bad day shows someone is a serious politico.
Going into this, I should say that while I think Sarah Palin is ignorant on the issues, I don’t think she’s stupid. I just don’t think she cares about the issues enough to look into the subtleties and trade-offs (see a point here about her criticism of fruit fly research). She speaks entirely in talk radio bullet points and has no interest in facts, details or philosophy. Indeed, the only time she had a chance to get involved in policy, as a governor, she quit to get a job spouting talking points on Fox News and the talk circuit.
This is all a game to her, a game of Celebrity. The goal is to get attention, adulation and money, not to actually solve problems or help the country. (Politicians who want to help their state don’t generally quit the second it gets tough). And this “brilliant” facebook note is a perfect example — a diatribe so thin even a third rate blogger can take it apart.