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    • It’s Not OK To Think Everything Is OK Or Getting Better and Better
      I’ve discussed the better than ever world argument before. I find it questionable, for a number of reasons and if that interests you read the linked article and the articles it links to. What I’ve been watching is WHO likes and buys the argument. They fall into two groups: the first are techies; the second […]
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Fox News viewers are perfectly OK with being lied to; they really just hate non-conservatives

In the morning, he’ll be talking in word salads and punching the unemployed.

That’s really what this comes down to.

According to Gawker, Fox News doesn’t feel it needs to defend Bill O’Reilly anymore:

Update, 5:40 p.m.: Two hours after this post was published, Fox provided the following statement to Mediaite (without addressing the substance of the Media Matters report):

Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. FOX News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.

Bill has addressed the lies about the Falklands, although there are new lies now about his involvement in the JFK assassination conspiracy. Plus, he claims he witnessed nuns being executed in El Salvador when records show he wasn’t even in the country at the time the events happened.

It’s more important to fling poo at those institutions that are trying to keep Bill O’Reilly honest than to force Bill O’Reilly to actually be honest.

But no matter. I never expected Fox would censure O’Reilly in the same way that NBC disciplined Brian Williams. Part of this is because NBC still clings tenaciously to the concept of being a news organization while Fox News does not.

Come to think of it, wasn’t it Fox News that won a Supreme Court victory several years back that made it Ok for it to lie? Yeah, it was something like, it doesn’t have to tell the truth. There’s nothing in the constitution that says that a media outlet that purports to report the news has to do so honestly or something to that effect. They all might lie but Fox News takes pride in being audaciously dishonest and getting away with it. It’s that audacity to flout the rules, while demanding everyone else adhere to some purity test, that I suspect is the real attraction for the Fox News viewer. It’s the thrill of making everyone else march to Fox’s drummer.

So, it doesn’t really matter what you throw at Bill O’Reilly, Fox is going to stand by him and they’ll pretend that they have addressed all of the accusations adequately and it’s only the left wing media and enemies that are going for Bill.

But it would be wrong to assume that it’s only MMFA or some radical Decembrist faction of a commie left that wants to bring down Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. Hey, I didn’t vote for Obama-twice! I have been called a racist for not sticking with my tribe when what *I* saw in 2008 was an inexperienced but ruthlessly ambitious opportunist hired to carry out the wishes of the financial services industry that was about to lose its shirt in the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s. My objection to Obama is he is really a country club moderately conservative Republican and he’s governed like one. So, how does the Fox News conditioned viewer handle people like me? I’ve seen the confusion in their eyes when they try to reconcile what they’ve been told with the fact that I am standing there saying I am a liberal who loathes Obama for purely non-racial reasons. It’s like watching Fembots about to explode. They can’t quite grasp it.

(Now that I think of it, I’ve seen some lefties have the same reaction. There’s a nugget of a problem there that the left has not accepted about its own side.)

No, the fighters against Fox extend beyond the usual suspects. It includes anyone who has to sit with brain dead relatives at dinner who have become mean spirited, crotchety, vile, bigots robotically spitting ultra-conservative nonsense in a garbled illogical word salad. Those people go out and vote, because they’re angry, and they don’t sound like they know what they’re supposed to be angry about. Nothing they say makes any damn sense. And it’s very difficult to want to be around them because they behave as if they’ve had a lobotomy. You can’t construct a logical argument with people who have had conditioned responses and thought-stopping reactions to anything you say. Seriously, they can contradict themselves several times in the same sentence and never even realize it. They are operating in pure fearful, emotional, enraged mode, thinking there is a child molester behind the potted plants and that the Muslims are going to kill them in their beds while they unknowingly support the most regressive economic theories the conservative right has to offer because God, or something.

The John Birch Society ain’t got nothing on Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. John Birch was fringe until Fox came along. And Bill has a single talent. He is extremely effective at turning perfectly ordinary people into obnoxious right wing Archie Bunker types who actively celebrate their willful ignorance and call themselves holy. That is a gift to the ultra wealthy. The rich and powerful will fight tooth and nail to protect Bill O’Reilly. He is their golden goose. His distortions and ability to provoke irrational anger keeps his audience in a state of poised suspension, ready to hurl themselves like zombies at the first fresh brains O’Reilly shakes in front of them. As informed citizens, they’re useless to the rest of us and, in most cases, actively harm their families and friends by their inability to see when they’ve been flimflammed. It’s pure gold to the small evil group that runs the world and to whom no one we know belongs.

The true Fox News watcher will joyfully accept their role as a minion to the corrupt. They will tell you that there is nothing you can do to change a corrupt system except pray for the second coming. How this justifies joining the army of corruption, I’ll never understand, unless it is to bask in the glory of being on the side of the powerful, especially those corrupt powerful who masquerade as godly. It sort of reminds me of the people who are flocking to the middle east to join ISIS. We all know ISIS is brutal, totalitarian and mindless but some people are attracted to that. Fox News only beheads people metaphorically. Its enemies still suffer the same fate, and the meanness, misogyny and cruelty is still there, but there’s less blood.

Oh sure, things were different when the typical Fox News view was younger. People were more helpful, there was a real sense of community, labor was stronger and public education was better and well funded. But they seem incapable of figuring out how we got to this place where we have gone back to the economic conditions that lead to the Great Depression. They do not see the role of Fox News in the process.

And that’s just the way Fox likes it. So, no need to draw further attention to itself. Defending Bill is just going to make it look like it needs to defend Bill and that’s not the kind of face Fox wants to present to the world. That shows a sense of vulnerability. The Fox News viewer doesn’t want to feel vulnerable. Fox wants to look impregnable, a mighty fortress against the commie left even if it’s more like a prison for the gullible.

Ok, we all know it. There are things we can not change in this world. So we must continually chant the serenity prayer as we watch Fox, and media like it, tear the fabric of our country apart. There’s nothing we can do about Fox News and it’s ability to lie, distort, mislead and destroy. We can only wait until the vulnerable reduce in numbers and the younger, less religiously motivated internet era demographic matures. Fox News will just become another niche channel for the unhinged. Then we will start the long, hard slog to recovery, reversing all the crap it has flung at us.

Bryan Fischer: Who is this manipulator?

There’s a new guy in town for the fundamentalist evangelicals.  His name is Bryan Fischer and he has a gig with American Family Radio.  If the fundagelicals you know have become rabidly homophobic lately and shrieking about fisting (in other words, they know more about gay sex than you do and think you want to hear about it for hours while you’re trapped in a car together), you might be able to trace their current mental state back to Bryan Fischer.

Jane Meyer wrote a profile on Fischer for the New Yorker for its July-August edition.  Unfortunately, the New Yorker wants money to read past the abstract, which is a shame because it’s not in my budget.  But you can get the abridged version from an interview that Meyer did with Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Fischer is pretty awful from what I’ve been able to find on him.  To make matters worse, he’s a Stanford graduate.  Given his views on evolution and AIDS, it’s a little disconcerting to say the least.  It sounds to me like he’s manipulating his audience to make money or it could be Stanford wasn’t that picky back when Fischer applied.  But the fact that he’s a graduate of a prestigious school is problematic because it gives Fischer a kind of authority.  He’s seen what the elitists have to offer, he’s even been considered one of them, and he’s rejected it.  This is part of his schtick.

See his argument against evolution if you want to know how he works.  He knows his audience and knows they like absolute certainty.  All he has to do to knock evolution down is skillfully use language to imply that there is nothing certain about a theory.  And he’s right.  A theory is just a theory until something better comes along.  But science doesn’t stick with theories that have no evidence to back them up.  A theory is an interpretation of evidence.  The evidence is real.  The theory is just a working model.  Fischer knows this because he is very precise with his words in this argument.  But he appears to think his audience is as dumb as a box of rocks.

My own personal view on this is that you can believe in creationism if you want but you’re better off not trying to argue with those of us who understand and accept evolution.  There’s nothing you can possibly say that would make us change our minds because your arguments don’t make any damn sense. The person you are trying to convince is yourself. The rest of us are perfectly content and have peace of mind with evolution. We are not tormented by uncertainty. (And here’s some handy advice for religious people who are trying to convert non-believers.)

Homophobia is not his only fault.  His views on women are so extreme that his ultra fundamentalist church kicked him out.  Anyway, keep an ear out for this blowhard because he knows what he’s doing and he makes Glenn Beck look like an amateur.

********************************

Speaking of the gullible, the AARP has a post about why people fall for those incredible Nigerian scam emails.  Wouldn’t it be better for the scam artist to use a more believable story?  Nope.  It turns out the beauty of the scam is that it is so outlandish:

Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical,” writes study author Cormac Herley. “Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage…By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select.”

[…]

“The scam involves an initial email campaign which has almost zero cost per recipient,” notes Herley’s study. “Only when potential victims respond does the labor-intensive and costly effort of following up by email (and sometimes phone) begin.” So the scammers want only the unshakeably clueless to respond; they don’t want to waste time on people who are going to get wise after the gang’s invested hours of one-on-one contact. It’s not exactly what they may teach at business school, but it makes dollars and sense: For the best chance of closing a deal, focus on customers most likely to buy (into a lie, in this case).

But why specifically mention Nigeria? “A less outlandish wording that did not mention Nigeria would almost certainly gather more total responses…but would yield lower overall profit,” notes Herley. That’s because respondents would include more people who would ultimately yield not a single dollar.

Bryan Fischer operates along these lines as well.

Wednesday: What’s wrong with EJ Dionneism?

I realize that I am about 36 hours late to this party.  But did you ever have a topic that has been swishing around in the brain for a couple of weeks but didn’t quite know how to write it?  It’s not that the topic doesn’t have a theme song or plenty of examples.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  This topic has so much material to work with it’s hard to know where to start.  Sort of like cleaning a very cluttered and dirty house, but I’ll get to that at the end.

So, EJ Dionne, one of the few ostensibly “liberal” bloggers wrote a silly, misguided, male-centric column the other day in the Washington Post about the campaign year decision that the Obama administration made to enforce the “free contraception for all!” rule for women with insurance regardless of who was providing the insurance, including the Catholic church.  The red beanie guys have been on Obama’s case for months now trying to get him to back off on this.  But Obama, smelling an opportunity to get back in the good graces of women, has decided to make this a campaign issue.  You can bet that this will be cited in the campaign literature delivered to the houses of women between the ages of 17-52 who have been data mined with pin-point accuracy as caring about these kind of things.

For Dionne, the Catholic schoolboy, this was an unwise decision for the president to have made.  If Obama wants to increase his chances of winning this year, he should have appealed more to the religious right.  Never mind that women requiring birth control outnumber Catholic bishops and cardinals, it is much more important to the Dionnes out there that we not upset the beanie boys.  In actuality, Obama tried to work out a deal with the bishops so that they didn’t have to provide the contraception but they would have to inform their female enrollees how they could get it.  They wouldn’t budge.  So, the administration told the church there would be no exceptions.  I don’t know why this is a praiseworthy act.  It should be so routine that none of us should even be aware of it.  Birth control is good.  Free birth control even better.  No one would have batted an eyelash about this in the 70’s.  But that was before the religious had to be appeased.

Here’s the part of Dionne’s column that bugged me the most:

Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.

Yeah, you know, as an American liberal, I don’t see it this way at all.  I don’t think religious pluralism imposes ANY obligations on government.  The only rights that religion imposes on government is the right to exist without having anyone shoving stuff down the gullets of the individual members of that religion.  For example, the church must offer contraceptive coverage.  The individual members of that church don’t have to use it.  No one can force you to  prevent pregnancy in this country.  But EJ has it backwards.  EJ thinks that it’s OK for the religious to force certain people, specifically women, to obey its proscriptions whether they are Catholic or not or even whether they believe in God at all.  When did the Constitution allow for the 4th century thinking of a collection of men in a different country to direct the lives of women here in the US against their own consciences?

It is unacceptable for any religion to direct the consciences and behavior of American women against their will.  It is especially egregious when the fallout of this coercion affects their ability to choose the number and timing of their family.  It violates their first amendment rights of freedom of religion.  It probably violates their civil rights as well.  It’s just wrong, EJ.  The Catholic church has a right to exist in this country and conduct worship services that are open to the public and that’s it.  I don’t remember any other parts of the constitution where it was allowed to impose any other obligations on government.

But let’s take EJ’s theory to its logical conclusion.  Let’s say that religion is allowed to impose obligations on government.  We’re not talking Taliban or Wahabbi territory here where there is only one flavor of religion.  This is America after all and we still have a religiously plural society.  Let’s think of another example where there is religious pluralism where the fundamentalists have been pandered to in the manner that EJ suggests.  How about Israel?  Recently, the ultra orthodox fundamentalist Jews have been having a field day in Israel screaming and spitting at little girls, having fits over women singing in public and denying female scientists the right to receive professional awards at ceremonies or speaking about their expertise.  These last two examples were the decisions of the governmental minister of health.  All of the ugly details about what Israeli women are experiencing even though most of them are not ultra orthodox, can be found in this NYTimes article, Israel Faces Crisis over Role of Ultra Orthodox in Society.  And here’s the money quote that shows just how wrong EJ is:

They have generally stayed out of the normal Israeli politics of war and peace, often staying neutral on the Palestinian question and focusing their deal-making on the material and spiritual needs of their constituents. Politically they have edged rightward in recent years.

In other words, while rejecting the state, the ultra-Orthodox have survived by making deals with it. And while dismissing the group, successive governments — whether run by the left or the right — have survived by trading subsidies for its votes. Now each has to live with the other, and the resulting friction is hard to contain.

In other words, if you start making deals with the religious right for votes, they’re going to want something in return.  And this *something* tends to bite women in the ass. Give them an inch and they’ll start humiliating female scientists at professional conferences. The reason why the religious right have been able to get away with it for some time now is because of men like EJ and Chris Matthews types who never have to live with the results of those deals.

But nevermind.  Women already know this.  And they know it will get worse the more politicians pander.  Now it’s birth control, pretty soon, it will be allowing employers to discriminate against women without cover.  They do it now anyway and I could swear it got worse after the 2008 election because after all, the president and his party got away with vicious misogyny and discrimination without being held accountable.  What women in the private sector is going to be able to successfully challenge the old boys club now?  Party on, boys!  That’s why the layoffs initially hit men hardest but spared women in public sector, education and health care jobs, but when it comes to hiring back in the corporations, it’s helpful to have a penis and a male supervisor or director who lunches only with other males and doesn’t see the women in his groups as real people needing real jobs.  That’s why it is not uncommon for the majority the women in a department to lose their jobs in a layoff but not the men.  Yes, this really happens.  I have witnessed it myself.   That’s why men get internal job interviews and not women.  I thought I was crazy until the company doctor told me that she heard the same complaint from many, many women in my company.  They are passed over, shoved out, laid off and never heard from again.  It’s partially because no one challenged the shit that happened in 2008 or laid down the law in subsequent years or formed an exploratory committee to find out why it’s happening.  No one gives a shit.  It’s just women.

And why doesn’t anyone give a shit?  Have you seen how many male column writers we have in major American newspapers compared to females?  Have you ever read the evening round up on The Plum Line when male blogger after male blogger is cited with a bare sprinkling of female opinion thrown in as a garnish?  We hear mens’ opinions 24/7 ad nauseum.  And their stupid, clueless opinions usually give a pass to the religious right and their stubborn insistance that we all obey the writings of another bunch of male columnists  from the end of the fricking Bronze Age who swear, without any proof at all, that they were taking dictation from God himself.

Enough, already.  There are many of us who no longer believe in the god of the bible.  There is a growing movement of non-believers, atheists, panentheists, freethinkers, skeptics and agnostics who do not agree that the religious impose ANY obligations on government outside of the right to exist.  At the very least, the religious should have to prove to everyone that what they believe is real and rational beyond a shadow of a doubt before they impose any obligation on anyone.

So, until the red beanie guys can show conclusively, incontrovertibly and with all of the tools of the scientific method at their disposal that there is an actual God  and that this God actually cares and does not want women to put substances in her body to prevent the conception of children, they should keep their unfounded, harmful, discriminatory impositions to themselves.  At the very least, God should be required to make an appearance in a form other than a talking herbaceous wildfire hazard before we are forced to pay any more attention to the religious right or any politician who panders to them.

Including Obama.

Wednesday: Feminism first

I’ve got some stuff to do today and will be checking in periodically.  In the meantime, here are two videoclips by Australian writer, Jane Caro.  I’ve been checking out a lot of freethinker videos lately, particularly because the speakers represent the other end of the religio-socio spectrum.  Most people fall into the middle of a gaussian distribution when it comes to religion.  At one end of the spectrum, let’s call it the “right” end, there are people who feel religion very intensely.  The fundamentalists are a subset of this group.  The other end of the spectrum is composed of people who look at everyone to the right of them and say, “Um, I don’t get it”.  These people just put a lot more emphasis on logic and reason.  Those people are starting to come out of the closet.  They now have global conferences, they write books and they’re speaking out. Dan Barker, who I mentioned the other day, says he thinks that American culture is evolving to become more like European culture.  Europe burned itself out on religious wars and now most Europeans do not profess a faith.  What we’re seeing in American is the last shrieks of a group that is losing its fight with modernity.

By the way, after I watched some of these clips and the way people all around the world make fun of super religious Americans, I find it enormously embarrassing.  There is a perception out there that Americans are all religious freaks who joyfully embrace ignorance and aren’t afraid to stuff it down your throat.  That’s the way the world sees us.  Next time you go to Europe on vacation (I’m assuming that’s something everyone has on their bucket lists whether they’ve gotten there yet or not), just remember that everytime you open your mouth, the rest of the continent is going to immediately think you’re the equivalent of Tammy Faye Baker without the dripping eyeliner who doesn’t understand something as simple and elegant as evolution.  We have a lot of work to do to reclaim our reputations as an enlightened, modern people.

Anyway, Jane Caro says feminism is more important than atheism and she makes a couple of very compelling arguments. She skewers everyone, even Buddhists. Enjoy the humor and insight of these two videos and ask yourself how female Obama voters got it so wrong.  *Real* feminists do not vote for guys like Obama.  That would be like being a female suicide bomber for Al Qaeda.  No matter how much you do for the cause, your paradise is not going to involve deflowering 72 virgins.

Real feminists look after their own sex first.

Jane Caro- Intelligence Squared Debate clip

Jane Caro- Global Atheist Convention 2010, Melbourne, Australia