Friday, January 30, 2009

It's called post hoc ergo propter hoc...

"Whatever else he did or didn't do, at least George W. Bush kept us safe from terrorists. (Except on 9/11/2001 when he was ignoring the strident warnings that bin Ladin was determined to attack inside the US and who doesn't make teensy mistakes from time to time?)"

And folks know this because he's said he was working to keep us safe from terrorists. Cool.

And I'm keeping the Pacific Northwest safe from hurricanes. I mean, I'm here, right? And there hasn't been a hurricane affecting the Pacific Northwest for a long, long time, right? I see one from 1975, but while I was alive then, I was living in Philadelphia. (And note: during my time of living in Philadelphia, there weren't any hurricanes there, either. We got hit by the side arm of Belle one year, but that was just a nasty thunderstorm with high winds; the actual hurricane struck New Jersey.)

Of course, there are hateful partisans suffering from Weirdo Derangement Syndrome, who will insist I had nothing to do with this. They'll say that, even if I hadn't been here (or in Philadelphia), it's stuff that's beyond my control that causes hurricanes. Which is ridiculous. A great deal of what I do to prevent hurricanes is classified. They aren't privy to this knowledge.

What's that?

Oh, great. Now I have to put on my hurt-feelings look. You don't believe me either!

It's not fair. Just saying something is true works for an incompetent oaf like George W. Bush, but it doesn't work for me.

Well... maybe the unfairness is that people shouldn't believe that Bush kept us safe. Maybe they should grant that, sure, Al Qaeda didn't attack us on the US mainland again, but we have no idea if that was because of anything that George W. Bush did or didn't do.

He may have been lucky. Or, Al Qaeda might have thought it was better to go after US soldiers and try to damage expensive military equipment rather than attack the US again. Or, he might have thought that the US was doing plenty of damage to itself in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, so he had nothing else to worry about.

So let's modify that first sentence: "whatever else he did or didn't do, at least George W. Bush wasn't so blindingly incompetent that al Qaeda could hit us again on the US mainland, along with any other attacks they may have made against US targets."

It's not very catchy, but it does have the benefit of greater accuracy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A too-obvious connection

So, there's been this set of complaints about the original version of the stimulus plan. It included money to allow states to cover family planning under Medicaid.

And what kind of complaints have been voiced? "It sounds like China" with their one-child policy, and it's an attempt to reduce the number of children. Nancy Pelosi can't have any more children, so now she doesn't want anyone else to have them. And, of course, it's an attempt to keep "those people" from reproducing.

Folks... they can't be that stupid.

No, no, you don't understand. I mean, they can't be that stupid.

They can't. And they're not.

They're lying. Saying whatever hateful thing they can to create a controversy to try to slam the Obama administration and the new Democratic controlled Congress.

And I can kinda deal with that. It's the nature of the beast. People will lie if that's what they need to do to make their opponents look bad. But there's no need to do that with the Republicans today.

In order to score political points, they were willing to axe funds that would let lower income folks have sex without fear of pregnancy. The one accessible pleasure that is available to all lovers, and they're willing to throw a wrench into the works, making it harder for them to avoid pregnancy (assuming they want to, of course).

And they're doing it at a time when lower income folks are already hurting because the Republicans weren't up to the task of governing.

I suppose that's a bit of a cheap shot, but the connection is pretty obvious. They're willing to throw away help that could be given to people who could really use it, just so they can make up hateful lies and score political points. You think that maybe there's a connection between that, and their appalling inability to govern well?

Maybe if they were the kind of party that would not allow their spokespeople to tell such hateful lies about such obviously beneficial programs, maybe they'd be up to the task of good governance.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brownback embraces his inner coward

What else can you call this, other than an embrace of cowardice?

To say that any wrong can be committed, that any violation of human rights can be allowed, to protect the safety and security of the American people is to say that it's acceptable to let fear drive you into doing something evil and wrong. And it's not.

It's a very human failing, mind you... lots of people do stupid or evil things out of fear. But the answer to that is not to say "well, I was afraid so that makes it all right". The answer to that is to assess the fear in a rational manner, and do better next time.

Is that what Brownback is doing? No, he thinks the Bushies didn't do enough!

The president must convince the American people that releasing detainees or placing them in other facilities will improve the level of security they enjoyed under pre-existing policies


He wants even greater security; he's scared of a bunch of people (most of whom are innocent of wrongdoing) who are kept in a lockup (a great many in solitary) and he wants Obama to convince him that he'll be even safer in the future.

It's idiotic, as well as cowardly.

Or, maybe it's not. Maybe he's just feigning these concerns to try to hamstring the Obama administration. It's possible.

I guess, if so, it would make him better than a cowardly idiot; we could violate standard English noun formation, and grant him the title of "Cowardly Lyin'".

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stupid or lying?

So, the latest, and hopefully last, rendition of "Is he stupid, or is he lying?" by George W. Bush happened last night.

I found his one claim to be a particularly delicious example of something that proves he's either an idiot or a liar. There's good and evil, he said. And between them, there can be no compromise.

This from a President who has authorized torture and kidnapping. He clearly has compromised between good and evil, and either is too stupid to realize that he's capable of evil, or lying to himself and us about it.

But which is it?

I'm more inclined to think it's stupidity, keeping in mind that people can be painfully stupid in some ways, while being intelligent in others. And it's the kind of stupidity that he's being supported in by his pals and fellow Republicans.

I mean, look around. You'll see Republicans insisting that Bush "kept us safe".

How would they know? Are they members of Al Qaeda, and know that all attacks that had been planned were thwarted? Because the other option is that Al Qaeda chose to attack us in Afghanistan and Iraq instead of in the US.

You'll see Republicans insisting that there were only three instances of water-boarding, because that's all the CIA would admit to... as if the CIA is incapable of lying.

(A spy agency? Lying? Say it isn't so!)

You'll see them talk about American values while ignoring that American values are rooted in the notion that all people, not just Americans, have certain inalienable rights.

I'm not capable of believing that they're all lying, but I'm perfectly capable of believing that they've all gone stupid in the face of their own inane repetitions of pro-Bush talking points.

There's even a term for it... cognitive dissonance. It's the kind of thing you get when you talk about good and turn around and ignore what you've just said, and do evil things. The brain strains to reconcile the two, and it makes you stupid.

Which hearkens back to Bush's speech, doesn't it? You can't compromise between good and evil.

If you try, it makes you stupid. Case in point.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Looking forward...

I've seen yet another mention of the Obama administration-to-be talking about "looking forward, not backward" on issues like illegal detentions, illegal interrogation techniques, and otherwise using American values like toilet paper.

I agree, we should look forward. It's more important to consider the future than the past.

And if those who ordered this atrocities are not, at the very least, publicly shamed and punished, then, in the future, the next time we have an incompetent President, there will be cheerleaders who push us back into doing such things.

Look: I sympathize greatly with those who followed unlawful orders, and if there are any folks who can be shown to have followed lawful-seeming orders in good faith, I'm more than willing to see them walk away with a slap on the wrist and the derailing of their careers. (What? Ruin a person's career? Well, yes, keeping in mind that people change careers all the time. I'm sorry, but but you don't earn rewards by doing the wrong thing.)

But as for those who formulated the policies, who gave the illegal orders? Hey, they chose to go "dark side", and they should have considered the consequences. Goldsmith reported that they were afraid of future legal prosecutions, so it's not like the possibility didn't occur to them. Sometimes, when told to do something that's both stupid and illegal, the proper response is to refuse.

I know... this is what most people mean when they talk about "looking backwards," but this isn't a matter of petty revenge seeking. This is a matter of protecting the next guys who come up with such terrible ideas from trying to implement them. This is looking forward.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Talking about sex (and partners)

Dennis Prager isn't too bright, but sometimes, dimness inspires the shining of a bit of light. So, let's do that.

Recently, Prager decided to talk about how women should "give up the goods" - whoops,I mean, "not deny sex to their husbands" based upon their mood. You know, unless their husbands are real jerks, or if they're suffering badly enough that only a real jerk would try to push sex on them. He even pulls out the whole "what if your husband didn't go to work just because he didn't feel like it?" as if providing sex was the job description of a wife. But "provide sex on demand" is more in line with the job description of "prostitute", which is why, as I said before, Prager isn't too bright.

But that's an idea that comes up a lot. Does a person in a sexual relationship owe their partner sex?

It's a complicated question. On the one hand, if you're in a sexual relationship with someone, and you keep refusing to have sex with them, you're not living up to your side of the bargain. On the other hand, what that means is, they may want to modify, or end, the relationship. So, yes, there's a reasonable expectation, and you could even say a responsibility, to have sex with your partner on a regular basis, insofar as you value that relationship.

But there's a huge difference between trying to keep your partner happy and sexually fulfilled, and having a responsibility to have sex on demand.

The way I think of it is, if there's a problem with one partner requesting sex, and the other making repeated refusals, then it's an issue that must be confronted. It should not be ignored. This is a point that Prager touches on, but misses. He says that if a man meets repeated refusals for sex, he might end up feeling unloved, or even loathing his own sexuality. That's true... but it's not the lack of sex that makes a person feel unloved, or leads them to despise their sexuality. If you can't give your partner sex, you have to find some way to fill the gap, and give them hope that it's a temporary situation, that you're aware of it, and trying to fix it, insofar as you can. You need to express your love, and your regrets at the lack of sex, and find ways to show that you still find them desirable (even if there's no current desire). Because that is what will keep a partner from feeling rejected and awful.

It might not be enough to save a relationship where there's enough imbalance in desire. But it does tend to make for a much more amicable breakup, if and when.

I'll grant that, sometimes, being a good partner or spouse means having sex when you'd really rather not, because you want your partner to feel desired and loved. Relationships take work and sacrifice, and sometimes that means having sex when you'd really rather not. But sex should always be a gift, even if given a bit grudgingly. If it can't be that much, then I tend to think it's better not done at all.

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