Libertarian position: 1,200 people had so much LIB3RTY!!11!! yesterday.
Reality: 1,200 people die every day because of smoking.
In a phone conversation that a prankster recorded, Republican Governor Scott Walker suggested he hoped to lure to the Capitol the 14 Democratic Senators who fled to Illinois to stall his proposed legislation, which they say will cripple the unions.
A transcript of the call, posted on a website, also showed Walker had said he had “thought about” hiring outside agitators to disrupt the two weeks of demonstrations by thousands of union members against the bill.
In the call, Walker believed he was speaking with billionaire conservative David Koch. Walker’s campaign received $43,000 last year from the Political Action Committee of Koch Industries, owned by Koch and his family. Koch is known for contributions to conservative causes.
You got that? If you’re middle class and only willing to help solve the, ya know, real problems of Wisconsin, not the ideological ones, Walker won’t talk to you. But if you’ve got billions of dollars and want nothing more than to see victory for FREEEEEEEDDOOOOOOMMM!!!!11!!!, then sure, he’s all ears.
Oh. And by “freedom” I mean “greedy fucking corporate whims”.
Given that the act is legally and morally indefensible, this makes sense.
Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus” the Constitution is designed to guard against.
Also, take note of this:
Holder’s statement said, “Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed” the Defense of Marriage Act. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The highlighted portion references Lawrence v. Texas. Political Justice Scalia, being purely political and all, made his biggest objection to overturning the anti-gay laws in Texas on the basis that the decision could lead to the legalization of gay marriage. He also says that it’s important to abide by the past decisions of the Court less there be an overwhelming reason for change. That means – logically – that he will likely support overturning anti-gay marriage laws. Key word “logically”. So don’t expect him to care about that. Just watch. The guy is a joke, the worst legal mind the nation. He will vote to uphold every anti-gay law that comes his way, no matter the constitution or previous rulings of the Court.
Remember that scene from the movie Porky’s in the boy’s locker room? There’s the one kid who hates Jews, just hates them. So after gym or practice, he starts calling the one Jew in the group a “kite”. Naturally, the high flying kid made of light material attached to a string says, “It’s kike, not kite. You aren’t even smart enough to be a good bigot.” It’s the one funny line in an otherwise ugly scene of ignorance.
So that brings me to Maine governor Paul LePage (R):
In his comments last week, LePage said he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems. LePage said until scientists can prove BPA is harmful, the state should not rush to restrict its use.
“Quite frankly, the science that I’m looking at says there is no [problem],” LePage said. “There hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem.”
LePage then added: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”
This is such a huge facepalm. I mean, wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Not only is LePage overtly ignoring the huge mass of evidence on the dangers of BPA, but he’s also making moronic claims about estrogen and what it does. The guy doesn’t know a damn thing about science. We should never listen to this guy on these sort of issues (or, really, any other issue). He’s as ignorant about science as the character in Porky’s was about Jews; a bigot to science, if you will.
So let’s summarize what we know about LePage so far: he believes the NAACP is a special interest but anti-abortion groups aren’t, he thinks it’s okay to teach creationism in schools, he wants to tell Obama to “go to hell”, he and his wife purchased a home in Florida so they could save money on tuition for their kids and then they lied about it, he thinks BPA is just a fine chemical, and he believes estrogen grows male traits.
As most people know by this point, the top Google search result for Rick Santorum is an obscene sex term assigned to him by Dan Savage.
After Santorum compared man-on-man sex in 2003 to man-on-dog sex, Savage told his readers to “Google bomb” Santorum, so the top search result for his name would be a graphic sex term. (If you want to know what it is, just Google it).
The Google bomb worked, and Rick Santorum has been complaining lately about how this is the cross he must bear.
But Santorum complaining about it is only making the problem worse, and last week his name was one of the hottest search terms on Google.
“By now the only people who haven’t heard about this are the Amish,” said [Stephen] Colbert [on The Colbert Report]. “He’ll do well with the Pennsylvania Dutch.”
Fear not for there is no need to head all the way over to what is probably most people’s homepage. I’ve got the definition right here.
santorum (san-TOR-um) n.
1. The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.
It’s too nice.
When most people hear the word rhetoric, they think it’s all just empty baloney. It isn’t. Most of the rhetoric we experience of which we are aware comes from our politics, and sure, it isn’t always the best, but there’s some good stuff out there. I could literally offer millions of examples, but I want to focus on two that I think are especially good (in terms of being good rhetoric).
The first is the “Is Obama a U.S. citizen?” question out there. The number of Republicans who don’t think he is fluctuates between 30-55%. That’s amazing for such a stupid question, but there’s good reason for it. Pay attention to what the Republicans keep saying. Even when they agree that President Obama is from Hawaii, they sneak in a little bit of doubt. “Yeah, I take the President at his word.” Sure, you do. And even when they don’t fiddle with weasel words and phrases, it’s still great rhetoric. By simply bringing the issue up again and again they convey that there is doubt out there; by denying the point they actually bolster it.
Another great example is with Dubya. I know, I know. He wasn’t exactly known for eloquent speech, but that’s part of his rhetoric, purposeful or not. He would routinely repeat phrases about safety and strength and courage, even when he wasn’t making any grammatical sense. All that mattered was that people heard a few key words; I did something similar when I kept repeating “boy-rape” in a recent post (though my sentence structure stands up). Or when Dubya spoke to Evangelicals, he would begin most of his sentences with “and”, reflecting Biblical writings (“And the Lord said it was good”). He knew his audience. His rhetoric there was no accident.
But there’s bad rhetoric out there, too. And lo, not just the political variety. (Okay, maybe appealing to a religious audience isn’t going to be useful on this blog.) This classic is one we’ve all heard:
Junior: But Billy and everyone else is doing it!
Mom: If Billy and everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you? You aren’t going.
Now, the proper logical response would be to point out that this is a reductio ad absurdum. Just because Junior wants to do some of the same things as his friends does not mean he would also want to jump off a bridge. Mom has committed a logical fallacy. Junior might appeal to emotion and point out how left out he’s going to be when he goes to school Monday morning and everyone is talking about what they did Saturday afternoon. He probably won’t win, but it’s his best shot using rhetoric. He could also try pointing out the logical fallacy, but that might be a bit over his head, methinks. Besides, superior logic from children isn’t usually received well. Junior needs to know his audience: Mom.
I think the fairest way to frame my relationship with rhetoric is that it’s love-hate. I love to see its effective use, even if it sometimes ends up in people believing dumb things. But at the same time, what makes rhetoric effective isn’t whether or not it’s true; what matters is if it convinces one’s audience. That means something like this blog or The God Delusion will probably fail to change the hearts and minds of any hardcore theist, but the people out there on the fence who value logos might find one or both persuasive, or the atheists who feel religion deserves a gentle hand may become uncomfortable with continuing with any undue respect. It is those people who are the primary audience and so it is by them that the rhetoric here or in The God Delusion must be measured.
What I find especially unfortunate about rhetoric (this is the big hate part of the relationship) is that people just aren’t very good at using it. Take a look at the comment Nate deleted from his blog.
By reading your blog I have learned that Kirk Cameron is not the dumbest Christian on earth.
Congratulations. Sorry there’s no prize money.
This is simply bad. This person is making a comment on a blog that will be viewed by an audience that will likely agree with Nate more than disagree. There is no appeal in issuing an insult, especially when it is devoid of any substance around it. Okay, great, some guy on the Internet thinks someone else is dumb. Does that knowledge get us anywhere? It’s this sort of garbage that makes people think negative things when they even hear the word “rhetoric”; it rises to the level of “Yo Mama” jokes. Anyone offended by those jokes is an idiot. Anyone impressed with that rhetoric is a mook.
Rhetoric is an art form. It is there to persuade a particular audience to think one way (or at least not think the other way). When it’s empty, it’s ugly. When it’s abused, it’s offensive. When it’s noticed, it’s appreciated.
I find it absolutely appropriate that Yahoo! News places its Supreme Court section under Politics.