Thursday, December 23, 2004

Massive dumping of links

It's the Newspeak, stupid! Bill O'Reilly explains how respecting the fact that not everyone is exactly like him is actually fascism.

Incoherent defenses of social security privatization are apparently the new modus operandi. Sort of like how all those "Let's get rid of the Department of Education and suddenly everyone will be super-educated by the invisible hand of the free market! I should know, the free market is giving me an invisible handjob right now!" arguments.

Except with fewer references to sex.

The Daily Howler, if nothing else, is focused with laser-like precision...

And here my parents were worried that all those games i play/all that anime i watch will destroy my ability to discern fantasy from reality. Pfah! If only i were so lucky!

Orcinus, meanwhile, discusses revisionist history with respect to the actual fascists. Hey, who was it that said that the only reason they denied the past was so that National Socialism would be seen as a viable form of governance again? Oh yeah, that's right: Neo Nazis.

Moving right along, or not moving along at all as the case may be, gays are the new jews. Only, not. It's just that the jews have been kinda-sorta let off the hook for the present time because butchering them by the millions is not very popular these days. But that doesn't mean the gays and the jews didn't (and "don't", for that matter) get discriminated against together.

As an aside, i want to discuss something more or less related.

A lot of "conservatives" or whatever the fuck they're calling themselves these days take a "pro-Israel" stance. They say, in response to criticism such as mine, that they're VERY pro-Israel and the mere suggestion that they might harbor some ugly anti-semitic sentiment (their own words and actions to the contrary be damned, isn't that right Miss Ann "There is a constitutional right to hate" Coulter?) provokes an extreme and emotionally violent reaction from them along the lines above.


Notice how this isn't "pro-Jewish" or anything like that. In fact, the only reasonable thing this position could be taken to encompass is that these people are supportive of Israel's continued existence as a nation.

But of course, many of these people are also rabid fundamentalist crocks. And according to their so-called literal interpretations of Revalations the end of the world won't come until two conditions are met:

One is that Israel must be a nation.

This is where much of their "pro-Israel" stance comes from. Makes you feel all warm and cuddly inside, don't it?

The second is that there can't be any Jews left alive. They all have to have converted to Christianity.

That's the part that people don't see from the "pro-Israel" slogan.

Now i'm sure that these same people who object to my intimations they might not have the noblest of desires for the Jewish people in their hearts would... well, object to this characterization.

Funny thing about that, though.

You can't tell the crazies (who say they're "pro-Jewish" and silently tack on "and also all Jews have to be dead or converted before The Lord will come down from Heaven and make with the ending of all life on earth, a day whose arrival I pray for constantly.") from the ones who are just supportive of the continuance of Israel as a state for other, less totally fucking insane, reasons.

Nonetheless, both types use the same phrase to explain their position: "I support Israel".

So i have a message out there to all those who "support Israel" but who don't support using Israel as a pawn in some sort of cynical global politico-religious chess game to stand up and be counted. Until then i don't really give a God damn whether you're offended or not. The crazies are counting on your silence in order to hijack your (relatively sane) position and try to make their own palatable while simultaneously obscuring their true objectives by regularly omitting half their position. They are furthermore counting on your (perhaps well-meaning) offense at being considered a part of an "extremist" group in order to maintain plausible deniability while still dreaming for a world in which Judaism has been utterly wiped off the face of the earth.

But hey, whenever i make personal attacks on Bill Oh Really i make baby Jesus cry. You see, Bill himself told me. He's an important person, and baby Jesus cares for Bill O'Reilly more than baby Jesus cares for you or me. Oh sure, he might call up his producers and sexually harass them while pleasuring himself with a vibrator. Or whatever it was. But he's not gay and that's all that really matters, isn't it?

I don't even know what to make of this. Were i less worn down by the constant, sanity-crushing reality that is United States politics then perhaps i would comment. I might say something about how it not mattering whether a reporter asked the question or not, and in fact how a primary problem with reporters these days is that they aren't asking such questions. I might wonder if this didn't fit into some larger assault on freedom of the media through poisoning-the-well. But no, for my mind could not sustain within it such primal truths. The knowledge of such evil and chaos was not meant for this world. And other hyperbole.

Also: Google is down. Coincidence, or another sign of the horrifying end times yet to come?

Conservatives really think the American public is too stupid to notice that "intelligent design" requires an intelligent creator that exists beyond human observation. Side note to everyone else: if you don't notice this i'm going to smack you with a rolled up newspaper.

Seriously, people. Christianity was once the cultural leader of the Western world. Now you (for i certainly cannot envision myself as a part of this movement, no matter my own beliefs) are trying to wage a passive-aggressive war on the last one to two hundred years of reality? How the mighty have fallen.

On a similar note, i'm thinking about teaching a logic/philosophy/critical thinking/etc class at my father's church to some elementary/high school kids. I'm already drafting up, in my head mind you, the waiver i'm going to make parents sign before their kids enter the class. It goes something like this "I'm putting my kid in here with the expectation that you will teach him/her to think for him/her self and not that you will espouse one 'party line' or another. Subsequently, I understand I may not be happy with the resulting critical inquiries. I have the right to withdraw my child at any time, but do recognize that this class's stated goal is to teach my child to actually use what's in between those ears for a change."

Or something.

My father was more receptive to the idea than last time.

No-facts is apparently the standard go-to man for "balanced" "reporting" these days.

Don't you just love scare quotes? I don't know how many footnotes i'd have to make in order to get my point across without them.

Gallup poll claims "Moral Values" (there're those scare quotes again!) fourth, not first, on voters' minds.

The Democrats' position on abortion is invconvenient, so conservatives decide to attack the position they wish Democrats held instead of the actual one. Remember that talk about well-poisoning? Well this is technically known as straw man burning.

And with that, i'm going to write another editorial. I'll post it once it's finished.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Republicans' problem with minorities...

You know what cracks me up? When minorities don't vote Republican the Republicans don't say "Hey, maybe we have to make an appeal to them", or "Hey, maybe they're a bit leery of the party that still features most of the unreformed segregationists/anti-abolitionsts and we ought to set their mind at ease". No, the Republican party says "It's all their fault they're not voting for us."

I can't even understand the mindset that results in this sort of thinking.

I mean, i am as usual exaggerating a position for effect and clarity of argument... but nonetheless. But i was just listening to Bill Kristol say, in effect, that he doesn't know what's wrong with all those African Americans and if only they'd just give up their pointless party allegiance they'd vote Republican and we could move on.

Uh huh. Right, Bill. I'm sure they're very convinced.

Maybe the reason minorities don't vote for Republicans is that Republicans, or at least the Republican leadership, doesn't know a "minority" from a bookshelf.

As an aside #2, i listened to Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy talk about the second amendment on MSNBC today.

Why does he get to talk on MSNBC anyway? He's not that special, and his arguments were silly. (Though they would require a bit of set-up to refute, they involved totally ignoring the cognitive dissonance involved in two separate positions that Professor Volokh was espousing and explaining cognitive dissonance on live TV would likely be tricky to do.) Sure, he's a college professor. Big deal, he still can't argue his way out of a paper bag.

But then again, i guess nobody else in this God-forsaken country can either...

It's not even that his position was terribly stupid, either. It wasn't that bad. It's just that he was pretending his position was reality when it clearly wasn't. In fact, he was pretending his position was reality and then using that pretense to argue that his position was reality. But of course, explaining circular logic on live TV isn't much easier than explaining cognitive dissonance...

(Edit: Volokh was on MSNBC, not CNN. I had originally claimed i saw him on CNN, but he was on MSNBC and not CNN. So clearly i couldn't have seen him on CNN.)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Reponse to Novak

(Now with updates!)

So "Novakula", a man who compares unfavorably with the man from whom that moniker was fashioned, wrote a column about Howard Dean.

Seeing as how i'm a shiftless college student with a weblog i feel it's only fair that i dismantle it.

Let's get started...

WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) -- Practical Democratic politicians, intent on reversing a decade of decline, feel trapped in a bad dream with Howard Dean as the most prominent prospect to be the party's national chairman.

This may as well read "Spineless DLC losers (in the most literal sense of the word) fear the loss of political power represented by Dean's rise within the party". I could even be more cynical if i wanted, but let's not go there.

The mere thought of picking the 2004 presidential candidate who campaigned furthest to the left and was soundly repudiated by Democratic voters suggests inability to cope with political reality.

Wait, this is an article on Dennis Kucinich now? C'mon, Novak. Stay on topic. We're talking Dean, not Kucinich. Also: Kucinich isn't running for party Chairman, last i checked. Get your facts straight, yo!

Dean has toned himself down, no longer resembling the screamer in Des Moines or the radical populist on the campaign trail.

Considering the first image was never reality, but was instead entirely invented by the so-called Liberal Media, i'm not surprised that you might think Dean has "toned himself down". But that's a discussion for a different time.

And as far as the second description: since when did he stop being a populist? Radical no, but again: he was never radical. Some of his followers were certainly radical. Also: some of George Bush's followers are kard-karrying members of the KKK. Does Novak really want to play that game? Dean himself is a "centrist"/"moderate" and has a record over a decade long of public service in this mold. I'm sure Novak knows all of these things, but it's surely convenient for him to ignore them when writing his column.

His Sunday interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" was so polite that it instantly was labeled the "unscream." Nevertheless, Dean as national chairman would identify Democrats as the party of the Left, more interested in purity than victory.

Uh, hello? Novak? This is reality speaking, can I talk to Bob Novak? He's not in? Can I leave a message? Yes? Tell Mr. Novak "Dude, the Democrats are the 'party of the left'! By definition! Where have you been the last two hundred years?"

And more interested in purity than victory? Since when was it a choice between the two?

The DLC has tried to choose victory over purity for a long time and, as we can see, has really ended up with neither. Dean isn't "purity over victory" but rather "victory through embracing the values shared by Liberals/Democrats/Leftists/whatever and the majority of the United States". The DLC's "ten state strategy", or whatever you want to call it, has consistently failed. Dean might not be a sure bet, but at least he's a change.

Many Democrats I contacted entirely agree with me, but not publicly. Only former Sen. Bob Kerrey, out of office and virtually out of politics, states openly that Dean as Democratic National Committee chairman could be disastrous.

I find this amusing. "Many Democrats agree". You mean some don't? Considering the kind of Democrats who i suspect are willing to talk with Bob "Plame's a spy!" Novak that quite honestly surprises me.

And as far as disastrous, you wanna know what else could be disastrous? Four more years of Bush. Yet here we are, walking into Disaster City.

I mean, is this guy living on the same planet? You want to know what "disaster" is? How about a President who swears to bring the full force of American military might, the unchallenged primarch of military power on this planet, around on a single man who is still delivering his fanatical ramblings through TV three years later. That sounds like disaster.

But oh, it gets worse! Not only that, but this same President leads us into war with faults so obvious and numerous i'm not even going to bother describing them. He does this while listening to Rumsfeld, who i now suspect had to be taking LSD while drawing up the plans for Iraq, and ignoring the advice of various people with actual military knowledge.

Oh yeah, and did you hear about the US Dollar's value going all to hell? Yeah.

But Dean being a candidate for chairman of the Democratic Party? Oh, that "could be disastrous". Uh huh. Let's get some perspective, here. Dean is an experienced and capable politician. He, or his campaign at least, basically invented the way political campaigns make use of the internet. But Iowa voted for Kerry so now everything Dean says is valueless?

By the way, Iowa voted Bush over Kerry. Just so you (and i'm talking to the DLC, here) know.

Others do not want to offend Dean's legions, hoping a white knight will lead the party of Jefferson and Jackson.

And this is just bizarre. Apparently some shiftless college students (or soccer moms or [insert "Dean legions" here]) are now some sort of fascist lynch mob? Sorry, but i'm not buying it. They can keep on hoping, too. Or maybe they can step up to the plate themselves. But the fact of the matter is that unless they put a better candidate up for the office then they're going to get the best man who ran. (In theory, of course...)

I'm hard on the DLC and friends? You're damn right i am. I mean, i'm not going to start suggesting that Novak is just writing this column as some sort of cynical political ploy (that may or may not be the truth, but it isn't very interesting to discuss) but really. Part of the reason these people get no respect from me is because they're afraid of me. It isn't about their politics. If i were voting based on which politics most represented my position i'd have to run for President myself or just not vote. It's about the Democrats being a legitimate opposition party. Part of being an "opposition party" is the opposition. I'm not the only one who believes this...

If these Democrats are afraid of opinions that contradict their own, and i'm seeing nothing out of the Dean camp that goes beyond that even if some of it is strong opinions, then do you want to know what i think is also potentially disastrous? Those people getting chairmanship.

If they're not willing to stand up for their beliefs then why the hell would we want them in a leadership position? But i guess everyone wants to use the "Rumsfeld/Cheney/Bush" definition of "leadership" these days...

It's almost as if, after George McGovern carried but one state as 1972 Democratic nominee for president, he started running for national chairman...

Obligatory, vaguely related, reference to McGovern's failed 1972 Presidential run: Check.

Can't write a column about Howard Dean without referencing McGovern, can you?

And from there on the column dissolves from normal-level Novak rambling into totally incoherent Newspeak that, as near as i can tell, has no meaning whatsoever. Let's take a look, just for the hell of it:

Speaking in Washington last week, Dean sounded more like a candidate for president than chairman. Under the rubric of "reform," he proposed greatly expanded governmental activity. "We are what we believe, and the American people know it," he declared.

Just take it backward for a minute: "We are what we believe..." equates to "reform". "We are what we believe..." equates to a proposal for "greatly expanded governmental activity". "We are what we believe..." sounds "more like a candidate for president than chairman". (How can he tell? "Novak-brand magical mind reading fine grain white powder"?)

I agree that saying "We are what we believe, and the American people know it" is a bit radical in politics and it's probably a statement with some reform hinted in it. But... seriously. "He proposed greatly expanded governmental activity"? I bet if you gave Novak a Rorschach test he'd be all "Evil Liberal demons", "Evil Liberals in my houseplants", "Evil Liberal government", etc.

Of course, Dean may have actually done one or more of those things Novak referenced. (Or he may not have: see the Wellstone memorial service and how it was hijacked by Republican (let me emphasize that so nobody gets confused: Republican) politicians with their own personal axes to grind.) But if so, Novak doesn't discuss it here.

It's sort of like Novak wanted to write a column about Dean "failing the Russert test", then deciding Dean didn't really "fail the Russert test", then decided the "Russert test" itself sucked, and then forgetting he wrote any of that and just writing about how Dean is Das Uber Liberal.

Let's see... what else...

Rumsfeld doesn't sign letters to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, which i'm sure comes as a shock to everyone. Right. Anyway.

But Bush chief of staff Andrew Card said Rumsfeld enjoys the president's confidence, and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Rumsfeld's dismissal would be "a gift to the jihadists and the insurgents" in Iraq.

Catch that? "If Bush fires Rumsfeld then the terrorists will have won!"

Actual defense of Rumsfeld or his actions in office over the last four years: missing from that quote.

And hey, again, i'm not the only one who feels that way. Let's take a look at an article that got sent to me by my father, a dedicated Republican of something like 30+ years (who has been switching over under the Bush administration) which was sent to him by another life-long Republican Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army who attends my father's church.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
December 9, 2004

Rumsfeld Can't Wriggle Off The Hook

By Jay Bookman

After the Atlanta Falcons were humiliated 27-0 last week by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Falcons coach Jim Mora reacted like a true leader: He took the blame himself so that none would fall on his players, attributing the loss to his own inexperience in preparing teams for Sunday in the NFL.

"What the heck," he told a news conference. "I'm a rookie head coach, man."

Mora also declined an invitation to identify specific players who contributed to the embarrassing defeat.

"Let's just say that we don't air our dirty laundry in public," he said. "It does happen [privately], but it doesn't happen for everyone to see because it doesn't need to."

The contrast between that stand-up leadership style and that of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could not be more stark.

It has become crystal clear to all but the willfully blind that the failure to commit enough troops to the occupation of Iraq contributed significantly to the rising chaos in that country. However things turn out, history will record that decision as a fundamental mistake that endangered the success of the mission and led to increased casualties.

But in recent interviews, Rumsfeld has tried to wash his hands of any responsibility for that mistake.

"The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that's really out of my control," Rumsfeld said recently. "I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person, and I guess that's fine. But the number of troops we had for the invasion was the number of troops that General [Tommy] Franks and General [John] Abizaid wanted, the number of troops we have had every day since has been the number of troops that the field commander thought appropriate."

In other words, Rumsfeld's defense is that he was just following orders . . . from his subordinates.

That's reprehensible, for a couple of reasons. First, a good leader does not dump public blame on those who have no opportunity or, in the case of uniformed officers, even the right to defend themselves. That's particularly true when the people involved are soldiers in the field watching their own subordinates fight and die.

But the worst thing about Rumsfeld's denial of responsibility is that it is a blatant lie. He was without doubt the driving force behind the decision to keep the invading and occupying forces as lean as possible, and any effort to dump that responsibility on others amounts to cowardice on his part.

According to the former head of U.S. Central Command, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the Pentagon plan for invading and occupying Iraq when Rumsfeld took office had just been updated in 2000 and called for a force of roughly 400,000 troops. It was Rumsfeld, enamored with the possibility of using technology to do more with less, who ordered that plan redrawn time and again to dramatically reduce the number of troops involved.

A month before the invasion, when Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was asked by Congress how many troops it would take to occupy Iraq, he told the truth: hundreds of thousands of troops. Almost immediately, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz memorably proclaimed that estimate "wildly off the mark," with Rumsfeld concurring it was "far off the mark." The two made it clear that Shinseki had disgraced himself, a point driven home when Army Secretary Thomas White was forced from office after coming to Shinseki's defense.

By those actions, Rumsfeld made it as clear as possible to officers down the line that he did not want to hear a word about needing more troops and that to argue otherwise would affect careers. In fact, in the months before the invasion and in the immediate afterglow of its success, Rumsfeld basked in his role as architect of the remarkably small force that took Iraq, dismissing concern about the resulting chaos as "henny-penny the sky is falling . . . just unbelievable."

Rumsfeld and his colleagues should have been fired long ago for incompetence and bad judgment. He should be fired now for poor leadership. The fact that he has been asked to stay on bodes poorly for the second Bush administration --- and for the country.

Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor. His column appears Thursdays and Mondays.

Dean and the Democratic Party isn't the only thing changing.


Media Matters has your hookup:

Sinclair admits it's a Republican mouthpiece, still pretends otherwise to The Public.

Bill O'Reilly is a coward. Really.

Congresswoman Lowey responds to some other comments by O'Reilly.

O'Reilly says "you don't see prominent conservatives cursing out Democratic members of Congress". Silly, untrue. MMFA says "Oh really?"

Swift Boat Vets say they're going away and not going away on the same day. It is, after all, their modus operandi.

Lou Dobbs, of all people, jumps on the "anyone with less than gushing praise for Chrismas is an evil atheist baby eater" bandwagon. Just for the record, Santa Claus is a "pagan" (read: non-Christian) part of "Christmas". Maybe i'm splitting hairs, but anyway...

The Bush administration provides a helpful definition of "Nepotism".

Media Matters catches something that's worth pointing out. Specifically: in certain media groups trying to pretend they've been hard on Rumsfeld for being a total fuckup. Sounds like the seven stages of grieving, or whatever.

Rationalization ("Rumsfeld was right, honest!"), then denial ("We're not spineless Republican mouthpieces, honest!"), then what comes next? Bargaining?

Hannity lies (basically) about the political orientation of James Madison WRT religion. Not that Republicans haven't been trying to co-opt the "founding fathers" especially on this issue since... basically forever.

I love the argument along this line that goes "See, the only religion there was back then was Christianity so by definition, 'freedom of religion' means 'freedom to be Christian'. The amendment says you're free to be as Christian as you want, but anything else isn't okay." Or the argument that goes "Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion!" when people are trying to attack atheists. Great stuff, guys. Hopefully it'll get used in an "Introduction to Logic" or "Ethics 101" class some day down the road.

Tax rate grossly over-stated by Brit Hume guest, rest of world unsurprised by overstatement.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Well then!

In 1990, Dean was convicted of first-degree theft in King County for 23 counts of embezzlement of more than $385,000 from a law firm, where he was “a computer systems and accountant consultant,” according to Superior Court records. Dean’s thefts at the law firm, the records state, “occurred over a 21/2 -year period of time . . . The crimes and their cover-up involved a high degree of sophistication and planning in the use and alteration of records in the computerized accounting system that defendant maintained for the victim. . . . ” Dean served just under four years for his crime and was released in 1995. His sentence spelled out the following condition: “Defendant shall be required to notify anyone for whom he works either as an employee or an independent contractor of his convictions. . . . ”

Yep, that's just the kind of guy i would hire if i were writing software that would count votes in the election for United States President. Oh yes, he sounds so reliable. And even more on the same geniuses.

You know, there was a time in my life when i didn't think our nation was run by total fucking sleazebag crooks, convicted or otherwise, but these days it's just hard to believe the opposite. I dunno, maybe i'll do like Wonkette and start drinking heavily. That sounds good right about now.

Oh yeah, as an aside, i just can't resist taking a couple swipes at this social security thing again. Is it just me, or is the fact that you have to give "private savings accounts" a two trillion dollar head start on social security to make it even competetive a sign that maybe we should... you know, scrap it for something that actually works?

But no, that's the point. Not to make social security work, but rather: to break it.

Onto Media Matters for America!


The Liberal who stole Christmas.

Frankly, fine. Take it. Take the whole damn season. Am i a Grinch, or perhaps a Scrooge, because i hate the commercialization of Christmas? Maybe, but i don't care. Oh, and you can take your Christmas music out and never, ever play it again. Please.

Let me celebrate Christmas in my way. My celebration is in no way hampered by not having a gazillion dollars spent promoting the holidaze. Just because some store says "season's greetings" instead of "merry Christmas" in no way prevents me from celebrating as i see fit. Take your "merry Christmas" and your "season's greetings" and shove them both.

"Lalala, look at me! I'm the mainstream media! A single soldier who stands to lose a whole fucking lot puts me to shame, so then I try to cover my own ass by lying for the guilty party!"

Oh, but it's the liberals who are supposedly treasonous bastards who kill our troops with their doubt. Yes, questioning St. George's War directly results in dead soldiers, but a physical lack of actual armor plating that can actually protect soldiers in an actual war with actual bullets (not to mention 380 tons of actual high explosives)? Heavens no!

Oh look! Coulter switched back into pro-minority mode again! Seriously! This is the person who once defended murdering a black man by tying him to a truck and then dragging him to death with "...there is a constitutional right to hate."


I mean, if she wants to become a defender of minority rights then she's free to do it. This isn't where i would start, though. I would start by apologizing for the remark referenced above--among others.

Of course, there's also the Thug Basketball Association. Yeah, don't ask me.

Anyway, i might do a bit more on the D&D front later. I'm not sure yet, though.

A break from the usual...

Just so you people don't think i'm an unceasing stream of political commentary (really, i'm not) i'm going to talk about Dungeons and Dragons.

I could do some Planescape proselytizing, but nawwe.

Speaking of Planescape, i advise everyone to go pick up Eberron. It isn't Planescape, but it's the best setting i've seen in D&D barring Planescape. It's really quite good. Slightly on the steampunk edge of things, but that's okay. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, as far as i'm concerned. Furthermore, i haven't once said "yeah right!" out loud to the Eberron manual. Sure, the Eberron planar layout made me eye-twitch a little... but that's not because it was bad. Well, not objectively bad. Not really, at least.

Anyway, that might seem like a small thing, but really: you should have seen me reading the Forgotten Realms book when it was released. I was actually asked by the owner of the store i was reading it in to please not complain so loudly for fear it would depress sales. I resisted the urge to say "I notice you're not taking objection to the substance of my criticism..." as there's only really one game store near me and getting blacklisted would be kinda not so good.

Anyway, that was an aside.

Table of Contents

Yes, you read that right. I'm gonna be nice to you people and give you some context here.

  1. The Monster Party of Doom

  2. Shamanist, Spontaneous Divine Caster


The Monster Party of Doom.

All PCs need a good foil. (Note: this is a lie. Not all PCs need a good foil.) Some DMs use world-spanning demigods, ultra-powerful mages, or decadent despots as foils. All of those have their places. But that's not what i'm going to be talking about here.

You see, i'm going to be talking about how to make the party afraid of half-orcs.

"But Winter," the less observant among you might say, "half-orcs aren't that scary..."

(The more observant of you will notice my strategic use of emphasis tags, of course.)

Ah, but these are no ordinary half-orcs! And really, when i said "half-orcs" i meant "one half orc, a kobold, an ogre mage, a gnoll, their cohorts, and a hundred or so minions." Really, you can do it with just half orcs, but with all the monsters out there you can get some really brutal parties going.

For those of you (well, the one of you) who have been in extended campaigns of mine before (especially in second edition) you'll remember i often like to throw pumped up orcs at parties. In third edition mostly all that's changed is that the orc shouts "SNEAK ATTACK!" when he kicks the door to the party's room in and drops the party mage to negative HP in one hit. Not that he actually gets to roll sneak attack dice, mind you.

First off: the genesis.

A good motivation to get this thing rolling can provide for a lot of payoff later. As the DM you don't need to hope the dice will go your way. Just be prepared to insert a motivation into this battle or that. As long as you don't plan too much that can be ruined by a dice roll (and i don't mean that as "DM-God-Mode/railroad the bastards!") you can do a lot of things. Be patient. For example, let's do a motivation:

The party encountered some orcs and promptly slaughtered them. Perhaps they were justified, or perhaps they just went into "Green skin, lots of strength modifiers, look uncivilized... KILL THEM ALL!" mode. Either way works, although the motivations of our nemesis-to-be will be different depending on the circumstances.

Anyway now, these things don't happen in a void. Let's say this was a hypothetical party of warriors, perhaps leaders, of a local orc tribe. Let's say that the chief was among them (you might want to include an orc chief monster in the pile) and that since the chief is now dead the leadership of the tribe falls to the chief's half-orc son. Who promptly swears revenge, of course.

Throkk U'Grokk, Half-Orc Warchief

Of course, titles like that don't come for free. Our friend Throkk, who is of course the same half-orc referred to above, has stats like... just for instance, str 14 dex 12 con 14 int 12 wis 10 cha 15 (in other words, a 32 point buy with +1 cha from levels- modify as desired). He's a half-orc bard. Notice his fairly decent mental stats (quite above average for a half-orc, top-end for full-blooded orc) and you can see where i'm going here. For added fun, you can give him a barbarian level. Or make him a full barbarian. Or something else. It doesn't really matter

In any case, Throkk here swears vengeance. Let's say he's fairly decent level... say, level 6. He has the leadership feat, so he takes his cohorts out and says "Okay peeps, we're gonna get revenge for the honor of our tribe!" He doesn't actually need to be evil, but being good-aligned would probably not fit so much. Anyway, outfit him as per usual. Pay close attention to spells that buff a large number of people. (3.5 haste is great for this, way better than 3.0 haste even!) Bardic music helps here, too.

Oh yeah, Throkk's musical instrument would be drums. War drums. Feel the rhythm. Fear the rhythm. Throkk should have a clerical cohort. Resist the urge to go evil-for-evil's-sake. Throkk's minions are barbarians. Give the slightly larger ones bows. Yes, bows. Give the biggest ones barbarian levels.

Tip, Kobold Sorcerer

So Throkk goes out with his minions and does some of the introspection thing. "Throkk," he says to himself, "You're a smart half-orc. You're a strong half-orc. But you're not strong enough. Not by yourself. See, your father was killed not just by some random guards or something but by adventurers. You need some magical assistance."

So Throkk goes and recruits Tip. Tip has stats something like 6, 16, 12, 11, 10, 18 (32 point buy, +1 cha from levels). Tip also has the Leadership feat. And kobold friends. Throkk all-out and buys them nets and spears. Throkk's orcish minions complain about this expenditure, but Throkk assures them it's only because kobolds are puny and weak and they need nets to be effective in battle. Then he buys them some armor. Technically, Tip buys the nets and spears. But that's a minor detail. Tip takes two types of spells: spells that can quickly disable enemies (for example, charm person) and spells that can buff a bunch of friends. Haste comes to mind here, also. For higher levels, Tip should become a counterspell master. For really high levels, Tip should scare the fuck out of the PCs by taking archmage levels and Mastery of Counterspelling. Yes, fear the kobold.

But the multicultural parade hasn't ended yet!

Yeebugh, Gnoll Ranger

You know the drill. Throkk manages to convince a Gnoll to come along for the ride (i suggest giving Throkk lots of ranks in Diplomacy) and do some dual wielding. Perhaps the PCs have a similar run-in with some Gnolls with similar results. Just remember not to tip your hand and let the PCs know what is coming in advance. I suggest axes, but just about anything works. Morningstar/light axe is fun, too.

Stats should be something along the lines of 20, 14, 18, 10, 10, 6. Yeebugh might want to invest in some Iron Will. Enemy mages love to go for the big, mean, dual wield machine with things that just so happen to target Will saves. Being buffed up by the rest of the party helps, too. In fact, along with the next monster in the list, Yeebugh should be the primary slice-and-dice character. A level of barbarian (for the extra movement) probably wouldn't hurt. Haste is always helpful. For higher levels, try taking something that lets you get a full attack with a charge action.

For best effect, Yeebugh should be a girl gnoll. No, don't ask why. Trust me.

Arhkan, Ogre Mage Monk

Oh yeah, this is the other beast. A monster of a monster. A tank of a tank. Not to mention that Arhkan has a number of powerful spell-like abilities. Learn them, love them. Think like a player. If a player was suddenly surrounded by a number of enemies wielding sharp, pointy sticks would the player give in and just make those to-hit rolls? No! Arhkan is a large creature, giving him extra Monk damage. Trick him out like a PC. Oh yeah, give him Leadership too. Give his minions bows. His cohort should be a rogue of some flavor; a non-monster-race rogue.

Arhkan's stats, on a separate line because they're impressive: 22, 20, 14, 16, 20, 16

That's my suggestion. Make Arhkan a bit defensive. Give him some Con boosting items. He has regeneration, so one of the casters will probably want to cast protection from elements on him (later he can have items to help him out). He has regeneration 5. Don't hesitate to let him mix it up a little. Arhkan's job is to jump in there and tie up the biggest, baddest ass in the party. He does this by mugging the wizards and other casters (stay away from uber-buffed clerics as they can maybe beat him in hand to hand... no joke). Did you know that large creatures gain +4 to grapple checks? Be careful later, though, as grappling the mages to distract the fighters becomes a less good tactic. Anyway, if things get ugly go gaseous form and get out of there. In fact, that should be everyone's cue to retreat. Have a retreat path planned before the encounter even begins. Write it down.

Putting It Together

The basic strategy is to have everyone attack from a position of strategic superiority. Arhkan may be a monk, but he also has an intelligence score that rivals smaller wizards.

Arhkan and Yeebugh get buffed up a lot. Use that bardic inspiration. Use those buffing spells. Give them magic items that can save their hides. PCs have a remarkable way of fucking up your plans. Don't leave them hanging out there on a die roll. I'll say it again: have an escape planned.

My tactic of choice would be to invade a small town for the first encounter. This has the added benefit, from the DM's perspective, of letting the PCs have some friendly town guards. You will probably underestimate the amount of damage this party can do. They're best in the 6-10 level range. They can beat a level 15 party if you're careful about it. Nets are marvellous things. Nets and arrow fire are even better.

Mix the tactics up. Arhkan is no slouch mentally, and Throkk is smart enough to pay attention. Write tactics down. Look over the abilities of everyone. Consider new and interesting uses for them. You know Arhkan's followers? Station them on higher ground and use them to cover retreats. Even if the PCs are going to chase these people down you should have the big ones hasted (the "monster-PCs", so to speak, and their cohorts). That should be the first action of the battle. Have the rogue investigate the PCs. Have this war band run into an innocent town somewhere and burn it to the ground. Have Tip (and Arhkan) use charm effects to build a small, expendable army. Be creative. Think like players.

Most importantly: don't just Total Party Kill the PCs the first run through. You've put far more effort into these guys than to just TPK them right off the bat. That would be no fun. Let them have a taste of the evil. Also, once the PCs are high enough, beware the Scry-->Teleport sneak attacks. And the usual PC nonsense.

Imagine ways to combine the various pieces of the party. Throw Bull's Strength, Bear's Endurance, Cat's Grace, and Owl's Wisdom on Ahrkan. Along with protection from the elements to keep the fire/acid damage away. Pump up Yeebugh's to-hit. Throw out smaller buffs on all the minions. Invent tactics, study strategies. Write them down. Review them. Make them better. Don't forget: monsters can (occassionally) use Ressurection too.

Finally, keep it simple. I know, i just went through what like a thousand words (well, if you want to get technical: over 2,000 words) of party design but that's not the kind of simple i'm talking about. Don't have plans that rely on dice landing in certain positions. You are the DM, but don't abuse that. Your players will (maybe correctly) claim you're more interested in the monsters than in them. You should also, of course, actually be interested in your PCs more than in the monsters. Remember, you're putting a lot of work into them up-front so you'll have a challenging encounter you can throw at them without a lot of work later. It's an investment.

The Shamanist Class, A Spontaneous Divine Caster

This one is less well-thoguht out than the Monster Party of Dooooom.

Basically: it works like this.

Divine caster, probably Wis or Cha powered. Has a spell list like clerics, but casts spells like sorcerers. Clearly the spell list is going to be much more limited than the cleric's. My advice is to expand on the various Clerical domains and let the Shaman have some nature/elemental/spirit/etc themed ones. Sorcerers have something like 55 known spells. That's approximately 4 per spell level. Or 2 per domain. Slightly more than 2 per domain. Maybe some "universal" spells fit in somewhere. Give them domain powers, too.

Presto, new class1

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Another question about social security...

So the Bush plan is to scrap the current social security and replace it with a privatized account version. In order to do this an estimated $2 trillion dollars will need to be pumped into the system over sixty years or so.

Here's the question

The reason we're doing this, or so the proponents of this plan claim, is that social security is going to go "bankrupt" in about fifty years time. Of course, as has been pointed out in my other posts, no such bankruptcy will or even can occur. What's going to happen is the backup funds are going to run out and the system will shift back to all the money coming entirely from those paying into social security, which will in fact require some reduction in benefits, etc.

Now, the proponents of the above plan say that plan is necessary because the current system is going to collapse. Here's my question: why are they unwilling to pay a single cent into the current system, but they are willing to pay two trillion dollars into their proposal? Consider, if you will, what will happen if that money is instead payed into the present system. I suspect any social security "crisis" will vanish in a puff of smoke.

So the question is: what possible advantage does the privatization scam have over the current setup? Sure, privatization looks like a replacement--not a good replacement, but an actual one. Assuming you first pump $2 trillion dollars into it that you don't pump into the current social security system!

I'll let you think about that one for a bit.

The US "okays" evidence gained through torture.

Does nobody in the White House remember why we didn't allow this in the past? No, not for humanitarian concerns (we're not so noble...) but rather because evidence gained through torture is horribly unreliable!

Most people who support torturing people for evidence (it's fucking unsettling typing that phrase...) paint a scare scenario as something like "What happens if we have evidence of a 'nuclear 9/11' that is going to be carried out tomorrow and the only person who knows the details isn't talking to us? Would you allow torture then?" What a stupid argument. Of course not. The guy is going to lie to us, possibly putting us in a worse situation than we began in. How is this not obvious? He's willing to withold information that could potentially save hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of lives but he's not willing to lie to us???


Frist admits "abstinence only" sex non-education programs need review.

Follow-up question that didn't get asked: "Mr. Frist, if the review indicates 'abstience only' programs are ineffective will you oppose them?"

In case anyone was wondering, here is a map of the (incomplete) exit poll data. Here's something funny: you know Zogby's election prediction? The exit poll data matches that pretty closely.

Very curious.

Also, the recounts in Ohio are complete. Bush won the recounts by 119,000 votes. Some lawsuits are still pending. Etc.


A lowly soldier does what thousands of highly paid journalists and over five hundred elected representatives haven't: asks Donald Rumsfeld "What the fuck is wrong with you, man?"

Okay, i embellished on the question. But if you read between the lines...

The Howler has a similar take.

99.8% of complaints to the FCC about That Certain Football Commercial came from the same source.

Color me unsurprised.

The Five Basic Traits of Fundamentalism.

Oh, and while we're talking about fundamentalism...

Boo hoo, one of your profs said something you didn't like? I cry for you. Really.

I failed a political science class for disagreeing with my professor (he was a die-hard moral relativist/libertarian of the intensely stupid kind, i pointed this out repeatedly) but you don't see me posting his name on the internet and nor do you see me on Faux News (or whatever) pretending as though this is some vast libertarian scheme to brainwash America's youth. But i guess since i'm not a Republican i don't count.

TPM discusses why the DLC is a problem. I'll give you the short version: you know what they took away from the last Presidentiall election? That there are (to borrow from TPM: get this) too many Democrats in the Democratic Party.

Uh huuuuuuuh...

Go watch the Republicans pretend they're die-hard defenders of minority rights in America! It's so cute!

You know all those stories about "banning the US Constitution/Declaration of Independence because it mentions God"? Well, as it turns out, none of it is true. It's not the case at all.

Color me unsurprised, take 2.

Bill Oh Really continues his crusade against anyone who dares call him on his nonsense.

Hey Bill, when are you going to start your windmill tilts at me? C'mon, i wanna be a big bad evil liberal too!

Speaking of Mediamatters, have some meta-commentary: MMFA demands retraction from CBS over false statements made by CBS relating to MMFA.

This is a good one to pass around, people. Can we get some e-buzz going on it perhaps?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Clarity of Vision

Boy, the Republicans sure know how to pick them!

(And yes, it's the same guy.)

Informal web poll time! Go vote for who you think would be the best leader of the Democratic party!

Social Security isn't going "bankrupt" because it literally can't go bankrupt. It can collapse in other ways, but it certainly can't go "bankrupt". This is another line in the Republican framing/rhetorical attack on Social Security in which they pretend it is a savings account or something.

Social security isn't a savings account. It's a funds transfer program. You don't pay Social Security into a fund, you pay it directly to the recipients of today.

This is the key to the second part, which has the esteemed Howler stumped. The part is that in order to switch SS into a "privatized" system you suddenly stop having payment into the system. Once people stop paying into the system the benefits stop. Here's where the two trillion dollar figure comes from: that's how much it would take to fund an entire generation of social security benefits. So we pay two trillion dollars so the people who ought to recieve SS do get their benefits. Then once that's payed the people who got into the whole "privatized" version of SS have their retirement benefits that were self-funded, essentially.

Here's the problem: the Republicans say this means there's a net cost of zero because now the "new generation" has approximately two trillion dollars worth of savings. Except it doesn't work that way. This is why the Howler is confused. There's no real way to get two trillion out of that, it's just imaginary money that has been invented because it's convenient.

Let's run the numbers:

Cost for Social Security over the next (say) sixty years: $2 trillion dollars worth of benefits payed out to retirees from now to 2064.

Private Social Security funds built up over the next sixty years: estimated $2 trillion dollars worth of money saved.

Now, the way things currently work, the people who pay money into the system pay to the normal SS $2 trillion.

However, under the Republican plan they pay into the second and then we take $2 trillion dollars worth of debt to continue paying benefits. Then, this is the part the Republicans are lying about, the Republicans say that at the end of this since the benefits are still there for the private SS group even though they're no longer paying money into the system they gain $2 trillion dollars.

But all that's doing is counting the second number (the money paid into a private SS plan) twice.

In other words, this is precisely another "free money" scam.

Now, the Republicans are right about one thing: the $2 trillion in the second option (paid into personal, private savings accounts) does earn interest and other things and as such can accumulate and grow into even more money. This is a big deal. Of course, with that interest comes risk: it could also be wiped out totally and, here's the part that hurts, you're suddenly faced with ten, fifteen, or twenty years left to live, no employment, no money, and you still have costs.

So personally, that doesn't sound like a good replacement for the SS "safety net" even though i'm certainly going to be saving money myself to take advantage of compounding interest and other fun things.

Okay, onto something else now...

Alabama votes to keep segregation as part of their state constitution.

No, this isn't 1964: it's 2004.

As an aside, Judge Roy Moore is the same one who violated a federal court order in order to (temporarily) keep a big ass granite statue of the Ten Commandments in his courthouse, IIRC.

Orcinus discusses the way Liberals view the war on terror, minus the DLC of course.

Chris Matthews doesn't understand the difference between an editorial page and actual journalism. Not that i expected anything more from him.

How to hold a Presidential news conference.

I notice that doesn't appear to deal with one of the biggest problems with the Bush administration: if you ask the wrong question, you never get to come to a Bush news conference again.

Republicans continue on the oil-for-food scandal message.

Horowitz continues the "I know you are, but what am I?" defense over the charges of racism.

O'Reilly continues his anti-semitism ranting. At least some Jewish people are bothering him about it.

But that wasn’t the point, was it? The point was not just to hurl a pie in the face of morals and good taste but also of white racial and cultural identity. The message of the ad was that white women are eager to have sex with black men, that they should be eager, and that black men should take them up on it.

You got it, another Football Ad Scandal line!

"OHNOES! Black men with our white womens!!!"

David Brock asks the Creators Syndicate what the hell they're doing giving publishing this guy, all nice-nice of course.

Finally, like the ultra-right-wing Fundamentalists who support Israel because it fits in with their vision of ending all life on the planet through apocalypse, the Republicans pushing the Hispanic vote might have their own agendas as well.

Side note...

From here.

...[the Republican Party] claims family values, yet red states have higher divorce rates, teen pregnacies, crime rates, and just about every other social problem, and to top it off are net federal dollar recipients.

I realize the author of this quote is not campaigning for anything.

For those who are (yeah, you're probably not reading this--big deal): there's a reason for this, i think, that can be figured out from the above line alone. Why are the people with the "worst family values" (or whatever you're calling it) voting for the party with the most "pro-family-value" rhetoric? Because they feel like they ought to vote for someone who is "pro-family-values" in order to fix their lack of family values.

Of course, when the "pro-family-values" position consists of "scapegoat queers and blacks" there isn't going to be much real improvement.

The Republicans talk big and the Democrats don't. It's as simple as that. Furthermore, the Republicans say the Democrats are the source of all evil on the "family-values" front and the Democrats do nothing to counteract this impression.

Democratic Leadership Council: I'm talking to you!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Wheeee! (Now with update!)

So, i finished with one hell of a week in school. Lots of stuff. Kept me busy.

But now i'm not so busy!

Al Franken on why Caldwell is not a good replacement for Safire:

I said, "Where did you see [the Paul Wellstone memorial]? Did you see the thing?" He said, "Yes, I did." I said, "What, a tape of it?" And he goes, "No." "So you saw it on C-SPAN, like a repeat? Did you see it live?" "No. no. no." "Where did you see it?" "Well, I saw it on TV." "What does that mean?" "I saw it on TV." "What does that mean?" "I saw some clips of it." He saw, like, whatever Hannity & Colmes had pulled.

Ken Starr and revisionist history.

Hey! Hey you! Yeah, you! I'm talking to you, you scum-sucking media faux-news outlets! Aren't you supposed to be all about this sort of thing?

Christ, it really is 1984+20...

Speaking of 1984-like commentary, it's not three minutes hate yet--but it's at least one minute.

Also, why Novak is one of those scum-suckers.

Who is it, really, that is "out of the mainstream"?
"I begin the chapter on [Grover Cleavland], called “Constitution be damned:” “Grover Cleveland once killed a man. Two, actually. Of course, they`d already been sentenced to death. As sheriff of Erie County, New York, to avoid wasting government money on a hiring a hangman, he simply hanged the men himself.”

“You know, I just love that story,” the inspired author ghoulishly said.

Speaking of which, the Daily Howler gives you the lowdown on who wrote the New York Times' glowing review of the Bush Social Security Privatization scam scheme.

Attack, attack, attack!

But that's not all!

Jerry Falwell (yes, that one) hosted Crossfire just recently. What the bloody hell Falwell was doing hosting Crossfire i do not know. But he surely didn't dissapoint! Far from being a host, he was there to inject pro-Bush analysis into the show. Choice quotes include that the war in Iraq "...goes pretty well if you watch it on FOX"

No further commentary is needed on that point.

And lets not leave out Bill "Even Jewish people like Christmas" O'Reilly!

Brave, brave Bill O'Reilly point blank denied he had said words that he had said ten minutes earlier.

Of course, on the other hand: Bill O'Reilly has taken to defending Dan Rather for which he is getting jumped on by just about everybody. Some people are claiming "Nobody asserts that Dan Rather intentionally included false information in his story, the claims are that he was just stupid and Bill's defense sure is nice except that he's defending Dan against something nobody is accusing him of."

But of course, people like that (and they do exist) apparently missed the entire debacle and, instead, are just pretending that nobody would make such claims. (As a side note, i simply love the Orwellian name of that article as well as the "TRUEISFALSE" keyword identifying it. Though certainly not for the same reason as the author.)

Then on the other hand, there are the people who claim precisely that: that Dan Rather is a Democratic Party mouthpiece or that Bill O'Reilly is merely frightened at the speed with which bloggers dissected Dan Rather's "documents".

Of course, they should say "document". Singular. As only one out of all of Rather's documents has been even called into question. But like the good, compliant media whores they are most of our news sources know not to say such things.

Instead we get stuff about the youthful genius of Whizbang and friends.

One problem, though, is that the bloggers' arguments against Dan Rather were totally unconvincing. What happened was that somebody decided the document was false and then provided evidence to show this to be the case. For the first week of this whole scandal (read: basically the entire scandal) i saw not a single argument from the anti-Rather crowd that stood up to promote that withstood anything more than a cursory glance. The font wasn't "obviously" Times New Roman--it may well be Press Roman, Typewriter, or some other Times Roman variant. Typewriters of the time certainly could do superscripted characters. The more expensive ones could even do automatic variable height lines and kerning (two features which the CBS memo does not exhibit, despite claims that it does and that this means the memo is obviously faked). That's not to say i believe the memo to be legitimate. I believe the memo is unverifiable and thus essentially inadmissable to any serious discussion of President Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War.

Can we talk about the entire rest of Dan Rather's fucking sixty minute expose on Bush's national guard service now? Please?

But of course, in defending Dan Rather, O'Reilly calls down the wrath of just about every partisan hack on both sides of the aisle. I'm no fan of Mr. Oh Really, but of all the ridiculous things he has said this surely doesn't even go on the top one hundred list. Probably not the top thousand.

So is this a David Brock moment out of Bill O'Reilly or is he just covering his own ass? I don't know.

(I really wanted to put "I report, you decide" on the end of there, but the risk that someone might actually take me seriously was too great. Some day i'll have to explain why "We report, you decide" implies slanted news but today is not that day. I'll give some hints, though. The media, contrary to conventional wisdom, has an obligation to "decide" on the truth of the matter. If they can't decide (for example, if the facts don't warrant a decision) then they have an obligation to not decide. This "We report, you decide" bullshit is all about misleading the viewers and not at all about "fair" and/or "balanced" journalism. Let me further explain: if i were to treat two stories as equally true (by not "deciding" and leaving any decisions to be made up to the viewers) when they were not in fact equally true (let's say one was unverifiable due to missing information and the second was easily verifiable and, barring some massive revelation, obviously true or false) i would be effectively slanting the news. By "deciding" the media claims that a story can be decided, and furthermore in a specific direction. By not deciding (within the context of a legitimate journalistic model) the media is saying "we can't make a decision on this story at this time, so be careful". In contrast, the "we report, you decide" model implies that this never happens and that every story the news organization "reports" on can be "decided" on with the information presented within the report. Since this is obviously not the case (the world is a complex place...) the news organization in question is in reality slanting the news they present in one direction or another. Through selective reporting this can give a totally untrue picture of the world. For example, a picture in which Saddam Hussein pulled the metaphorical trigger on the September 11 WTC attacks.

Whew. That was longer than i had expected.)

In any case, this whole "memogate" thingy is reminiscent of the torch-and-pitchfork-mob crowd of the last century. Whether or not the mob is lynching someone who is actually guilty or not they're still a bloodthirsty mob on a partisan witchhunt!

Anyway, while i'm on the topic of "conservative media bias"...

Man, i really should stop linking Media Matters For America. They're probably getting like sixty links from me out of this article alone. Ah well, if the rest of the internet would stop being so bloody stupid...

Anyway, i knew Coulter couldn't keep up the pretense of being honestly concerned about racism in America for very long. Call me bitter or a "phony liberal" if you want--i was right.

Speaking of which, i was talking with someone the other day about how Canada would probably be nuked-from-orbit if they ever actually pulled a stunt like this (Note: this story is, to the best of my knowledge, a fake; whether or not CNN realizes this... it apparently originated here) Coulter provides some evidence for my case.

Back on the topic of racism:

David Horowitz has had some problems on this front. Pretty much entirely, as i understand it, of his own making.

But this time i don't want to just link to something David Brock wrote. I also want to quote a comment from a story in which Horowitz's best response to Al Franken's charge that he (Horowitz) was making racist arguments is "I know you are, but what am I?"

Statistics show that white and black people commit drug crimes at the same rates, however, black people are more often arrested and convicted. This is readily known fact based on statistics in universities. That is why people say that the disproportionate amount of blacks in prisons constitutes racism.

If Horowitz were truly interested in making a valid point, he would go through the trouble to dig up all of the current facts and statistics before spouting his opinions. The fact that he, instead, reacts by blaming black families for not raising law-abiding citizens is a prejudiced maneuver, whether he realizes it or not.

Also, in reading his article, I am aware that Horowitz, like many Americans, confuses racism with personal prejudice. He seems to be saying that he is not biased against blacks therefore what he writes is not racist. Some of Horowitz's statements, like the one I talked about above, show that he is personally prejudiced against blacks, though perhaps unconsciously, but lets say for the sake of argument that he wasn't. That wouldn't preclude any of his statements from being racist, since racism is a social dynamic in our culture that each of us learns as we live our lives. We internalize the same stereotypes we see around us daily. The trick is to become aware of those internalizations, learn to evaluate them critically, and stay conscious of how what we do and say perpetuates or fights against those streotypes.

In the end of his article, he alludes to Bill Cosby's past statements that were made in the same reacitionary vein as his, as if because a black man said it, and some black people applauded it (many did not and let Cosby know it), it is no longer racist. The Cosby example kind of proves my point - Is Cosby personally prejudiced? Or is he ignorant to how racism works as a social dynamic? Or both? He could be any of those things and all of those things, regardless of his skin color.

But of course, we all know it's really the evil liberals like Bill Clinton who are the real racists.. err... wait...

Anyway, what do you do when you're a highly politicized character assassin and the person who you attempted (more or less successfully) was not elected and so now your organization doesn't need you anymore? You beg for handouts. "Wellfare state" my ass.


First off, *ahem*, i accidentally managed to delete this post once.

Don't worry, though, i had the whole thing saved.

Anyway, here's more random stuff:

Penguins are bad at logic.

So are a certain politicians.

Therefore, certain politicians are penguins.



Sorry about that.

Seriously, though.

The Rockridge Institute discusses how to talk to conservatives. And no, it isn't with a baseball bat*. You can sum it up in the title of the book they're pimping: know your values (and use them) and frame the debate.

A quick discussion of why nuclear missile defense shields (and similar sci-fi technology) is utterly useless in the modern climate (isn't Don Rumsfeld all about "modernizing the army for the new terrorist threat?) can be found here.

I, on the other hand, talk with some Republican nutcases on why internet filtering in libraries is a bad idea. I don't have high hopes for the conversation. However, this might be useful if this discussion dissolves.

Finally, Orcinus discusses hate crimes. Also, the continuing decline in federal support for civil rights.

Ann Coulter once famously said that the best way to talk to liberals, "if you must", is with a baseball bat.