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Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 01:09 PM PDT

Suckers and Shills (Repost)

by Empty Vessel

The following is a repost of a diary I wrote a few years back.  It seems relevant for today's events.

Poll

Can you identify a skilled shill?

30%4 votes
23%3 votes
46%6 votes

| 13 votes | Vote | Results

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For many years now, our middle class has been hammered. People feel like the system is rigged against them. And they're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies take billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than the poor. Wall Street Banksters who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs walk around Congress acting like they own the joint.

More below the fold.

Poll

Am I an apologist?

58%25 votes
41%18 votes

| 43 votes | Vote | Results

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At what point are we going to have to accept that all this may actually be about Edward Snowden?

Just asking.

Poll

What's it about

42%9 votes
19%4 votes
38%8 votes

| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 11:42 AM PDT

Rox/Sux Explained

by Empty Vessel

As many have noticed, we have long had a Dems rox/sux debate here at DKos.  This is not an attempt to resolve that debate.  Rather, this diary is an attempt to explain (partially) the differing viewpoints people bring to the debate, and why these different viewpoints lead to different views of the Democrats.

In some sense, it all boils down to how different people view the primacy of economic and cultural issues.  Those who think economics (e.g., economic inequality) are most important are most critical of the democrats.  Those who think cultural issues (e.g., civil rights) are most important are more favorably inclined to the democrats.

Follow me below the fold for my explanation for all of this.

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Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM PDT

Tr**tor and Tr**son

by Empty Vessel

I have always hated the words traitor and treason. When I think of them, I see military firing squads and bodies dangling from the gallows. I see Joe McCarthy sitting in a wood paneled room on Capitol Hill. I see bodies in mass burials. I see faces hollowed out by torture. I see shuffling dissidents exiled to the margins of society. There is no way to speak traitor and treason without venom in the voice, for the simple reason that the punishments for either are so high.

Traitor and treason are words favored totalitarians, tin pot dictators and vicious bureaucrats because they are so vague.  They require only the demonstration of "aid and comfort to the enemy" whatever comfort means and whoever determines the enemy. Traitor and treason are lazy words that allow hatred and distrust to become a force of tyranny. Traitor and treason are institutionalized guilt by association--they are the words used to erect walls between people, preventing us from ever gaining an understanding of those we disagree with.

Traitor and treason are the blunt tools of nationalism and exclusion. How can anyone betray their nation or their cause unless it was first demanded that they follow their nation or cause exclusively? Traitor makes others into enemies, and dialogue into into treason.

At some point, when misused repeatedly, we must ask ourselves if a term or a concept is partly to blame--that the words traitor and treason are enabling our worst selves--legitimizing our hatreds and fears in veil of misplaced justice

Traitor and treason are the enemies of reason, justice and peace.

Discuss

Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:26 PM PDT

Some NSA Meta(data)

by Empty Vessel

Many people on DKos are justifiably pissed off about the recent revelations about the NSA, leaked by Edward Snowden.  Others here have called for Snowden to be jailed, and consider his revelations to have harmed the USA.  To be clear from the outset, I am already on record as seeing the widespread collection of phone and computer metadata as a serious infringement of civil rights and tentatively (until more facts are known) Snowden as a hero.

All that said, I feel that the rhetoric of the NSA debate has gotten out of hand.  So here goes the statement that will get me flamed.

The recent disclosures about the NSA are critically important and damning of the Obama administration...but they are not even close to the most important political, economic or social issues of our time. At a minimum, I would place Afghanistan, the war on terror, gun control, universal health care, social security, global warming and reproductive rights ahead of the recent disclosures.  I rank these issues by a simple standard, being alive is more important than maintaining privacy.  None of this is to suggest that privacy is unimportant, but it is less important than the things that kill people.
I'll explain below the squiggle.
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Two days ago, I published a diary asking how Jason Richwine could 'earn' a PhD from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government based on a dissertation arguing that the low IQ of Hispanics is reason to deny them immigration to the US.  

My question was not why this douche wrote such obviously bigoted trash, but rather why his committee signed off on it...why they legitimized it? Bigots will be bigots, but there is something different when it is legitimized by a leading University.

Richwine's dissertation committee consisted of...

George J. Borjas (chair)
Richard J. Zeckhauser
Christopher Jenks

Today, two of those committee members have spoken.  You can find their weaselly bullshit below the fold...plus the even more weaselly bullshit of the Dean of the Kennedy School, David Ellwood.

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As has already been diaried by Hunter, one of the authors of the discredited Heritage 'study' on immigration turns out to have written a dissertation on the need to exclude Hispanic immigration due to their alleged lower IQs.  Others have already discussed/explained/facepalmed the obvious bigotry of this position.  I am more concerned with another question.

Who the fuck signed off on Richwine's dissertation?

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Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 01:17 PM PST

A New Assault Weapons Ban

by Empty Vessel

With the renewed interest in gun control legislation, there has been increasing interest in bringing back a revised and updated version of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.  The key words here are ‘revised and updated,’ since almost everyone, whether supporting or opposing greater controls on rifles, recognize that significant proportions of the original Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 were deeply flawed.  The primary problem with the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was that it listed specific models to be banned, and established very poor criteria (e.g., bayont mount, grip type, flash suppression, collapsible stock) to define which rifles would be considered assault weapons in the future.  As a result, gun makers were able to make superficial changes to rifles that were specifically banned, remarket them under new names and skirt the law.  Whatever anyone may think of the goal of banning ‘assault weapons,’ the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was a very poorly written law.  Unfortunately, Diane Feinstein is currently proposing a revised assault weapons ban that, while a significant improvement over the 1994 bill, still follows the flawed architecture of the original bill.

Below I will propose another way to write the law, one that I believe will be more effective and less able to be gamed by the gun manufacturers.  At the heart of the plan is a simple goal, to establish a better way to distinguish hunting rifles from ‘assault weapons.’  That is, replace the definition of assault weapons based on their secondary features (e.g., bayonet mount) with a definition that relies on the primary features (e.g., bullet size, muzzle velocity and rate of fire).

Poll

Would you support an ban on rifles using a maximum CIEpM of 25,000 as the metric?

6%18 votes
2%6 votes
3%9 votes
5%13 votes
82%214 votes

| 260 votes | Vote | Results

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Dumb Arguments About Guns is a series devoted to examining the (il)logic of the modern debate over gun rights, gun laws, gun ownership and gun possession.  The purpose of the series is to help people focus their arguments and avoid falling into the many pitfalls of the gun debate in this country.  In the interest of full disclosure, my own position is that current gun laws are far too permissive.  I favor greater restrictions (but not elimination) on the types of guns private citizens should be allowed to own, carry and use.

I ask that people remain polite and on topic in the comments of this diary.  Please ignore overly dickish and/or excessively repetitive comments, we can only be derailed if we let ourselves get derailed.

Previous Diaries in this Series:
Dumb Arguments about Guns 3: RKBA
Dumb Arguments about Guns 2: Bad Comparisons
Dumb Arguments About Guns 1: The 2nd Amendement
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This will be a short diary, but I just want to get something out that I think matters.  As everyone knows, the NRA suggested that every school in America should have armed officers stationed in them.  This is clearly stupid.  As several have noted, Columbine had an armed officer, Fort Hood was full of them, etc., etc., and etc.  Similarly, lots of folks have noted it would cost a bundle, and of course the NRA and Republicans have no intention to pay for it (nor to pay for the national mental health care that would be required to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill for that matter).  This proposal, is very simply bullshit...we all know that.

But there is another problem with the idea of putting police in schools...let's call it mission creep.

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Dumb Arguments About Guns is a series devoted to examining the (il)logic of the modern debate over gun rights, gun laws, gun ownership and gun possession.  The purpose of the series is to help people focus their arguments and avoid falling into the many pitfalls of the gun debate in this country.  In the interest of full disclosure, my own position is that current gun laws are far too permissive.  I favor greater restrictions (but not elimination) on the types of guns private citizens should be allowed to own, carry and use.

I ask that people remain polite and on topic in the comments of this diary.  Please ignore overly dickish and/or excessively repetitive comments, we can only be derailed if we let ourselves get derailed.

Previous Diaries in this Series:
Dumb Arguments about Guns 2: Bad Comparisons
Dumb Arguments About Guns 1: The 2nd Amendement
Continue Reading
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