Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘metadebate

Sunday Links for the Sunday Reader

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* This president delivers compassion with a kind face and from a decorous and understated height. And that seems to be the role he prefers to play in the world too. It was doubtless the posture from which he would have liked to address the Arab Spring, and for that matter the civil war in Syria, if only Assad had obeyed when Obama said he must go. Obama has a larger-spirited wish to help people than any of his predecessors since Jimmy Carter; though caution bordering on timidity has kept him from speaking with Carter even once in the last five years. Obama roots for the good cause but often ends up endorsing the acceptable evil on which the political class or the satisfied classes in society have agreed. He watches the world as its most important spectator.

* Meanwhile: Obama Steps Up Efforts To Deport Unaccompanied Children Crossing The Border. And all at the low, low cost of just $2 billion!

* Local news:  Wisconsin second only to Alabama in cuts to education funding, study shows.

* On college debate, race, and the very idea of rules.

* You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

* …the only definitive statement I can make about Game of Thrones has less to do with what was happening on screen, and more with the popular and critical reaction to it, the fact that the fourth season was the one in which a critical mass of people suddenly noticed just how rapey this show is.

The point is that Godzilla is not an external menace. Godzilla is built into the system. Godzilla is our way of life.

* Whoa if true.

* The secret world of oil.

* Academia and disability: Why Are Huge Numbers of Disabled Students Dropping Out of College?

* The New York Times has a followup Q&A on its controversial piece about student debt from last week.

* “Far from being complacent about higher education, America is the site of a perpetual crisis narrative about our colleges.”

* In November 2012, when Kamel’s lawyers showed the video evidence to the assistant district attorney handling his case, the prosecutor dropped the charges immediately, motioning for a dismissal. The case was built on police testimony that was clearly false. But though Perez’s untrue statement had forced Kamel to endure months of anxiety and trial preparation, and sent prosecutors most of the way towards trying him, the officer suffered no consequence for his actions. On police perjury.

* Arizona State Universities takes the side of a cop abusing one of its own professors on video. Arizona Professor Body Slammed By Police During Jaywalking Stop, Now Charged With Assaulting Officer.

* Today, the UCPD is, as the university told me in a statement, “a highly professional police force,” and one of the largest private security forces in the country. Hyde Park “remains one of the safest neighborhoods in the city,” according to the statement sent to me by the University, and, “All of the neighborhoods patrolled by the University of Chicago benefit from the extra service.”

* Three Ways (Two Good, One Bad) to Fight Campus Rape.

* It Took Studying 25,782,500 Kids To Begin To Undo The Damage Caused By 1 Doctor.

* An illustrated history of Westeros.

* Independent Weekly catches Counting Crows phoning it in in Raleigh.

* Poor whites and the left.

* Advocacy in the Age of Colorblindness.

* This is a land of peace, love, justice, and no mercy: Hate Crimes Against The Homeless Jumped 24 Percent Last Year.

U.S. Pledges To Stop Producing New Landmines. The dream of the 1990s is alive.

* Mexico tried giving poor people cash instead of food. It worked.

* How Sci Fi Visionary Octavia Butler Influenced This Detroit Revolutionary.

* Britain’s Nuke-Proof Underground City.

* When the Amish get rich.

* “Can anyone say no to this?”

* The Golden Gate Bridge will get suicide nets.

* Against the Fermi Paradox.

Psychologists Find that Nice People Are More Likely to Hurt You. I knew those dicks were hiding something.

* On Facebook science: The real scandal, then, is what’s considered “ethical.”

* Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?

* Ripped from the pages of the Colbert Report: NC General Assembly Allows Possum Drop Exception.

* And Martin Freeman says no more new Sherlock until December 2015.

The Paranoid Style

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Tim Wise: …while Loughner would never have likely contemplated political assassination in a culture where the most pressing issue was, say, a simple philosophical disagreement over tax policy, or the proper balance between interest rates and full employment, or the percentage of GDP dedicated to debt service as opposed to long-term infrastructure investment, that is not the culture in which he (or any of us) lives. Rather, we live in a nation in which it is commonplace, and considered completely rational, for elected officials to believe the President is a foreign interloper. We live in a culture where the nation’s most powerful Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, cannot bring himself to condemn the maniacal derangement that is birtherism, but is reduced instead to a mere acknowledgement that since Hawaii says the President is a citizen, that’s “good enough for him.”

We live in a culture in which it is utterly normal, to a degree that has sadly made it nearly banal, to hear multi-million dollar, best-selling authors and talk show hosts suggest that the nation is on the verge of total fascism, death panels for the elderly, door-to-door gun confiscation, and the reconquest of the American southwest by Latinos bent on ethnic war. In short, in a society where paranoia is the daily currency of mainstream commentators, and pseudo-schizophrenic ramblings are elevated to the level of persuasive argument, we ought not be surprised that such a tragedy as occurred on Saturday might happen.

[…]

It is not necessary to show that Loughner is a follower of Glenn Beck, or Michael Savage, or any of a hundred or more local variants of the same. It is not, in the end, all that important whether he spent time on right-wing websites, or is (as a Department of Homeland Security memo seems to suggest) a follower of the white nationalist group, American Renaissance, or whether he believes (as some of his internet postings hint) that the Constitution is being usurped by the current government because of its reliance on paper money: a prominent meme among the far-right. What matters is that Loughner, like all of us, has been exposed day in and day out, for several years, to the unhinged and paranoiac ravings of persons who believe America is in its “end days,” and that the sky is falling, at least metaphorically — and not because of global warming, which is just one more piece of the left-wing conspiratorial plot to confiscate all wealth in the name of nature-worship — but because of the communist / socialist / fascist / Marxist / Nazi / Muslim / Kenyan / terrorist / anti-Christ who occupies the White House.

It is that daily stream of poisonous vitriol from which it is nearly impossible to escape.

In a culture where Glenn Beck plays “Six Degrees of Chairman Mao” every night on his chalkboard, uncannily managing to convince his flock that even the most moderate of Democrats likely hums the Internationale to his or her children rather than regaling them with bedtime stories, we can truly say that paranoia has become not only the prelude to something deadly, but sadly a form of pedantry so everyday in its appearance that we write it off as entertainment, rather than the poison it truly is.

In a culture where political rallies attended by thousands feature prominent speakers who suggest the President might well be Satan in the flesh, and marchers who carry signs suggesting “Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s Ovens,” or that the President intends to put whites into slavery, nothing should surprise us anymore.

In a media environment where highly paid commentators can keep their jobs even as they insist that those who call for the shooting of government agents so as to stop a world government takeover are “beginning to have a case,” or that a national service initiative is just a run-up to the implementation of a literal stormtrooper corps like the Nazi SS, or that “multicultural people” are “destroying the culture of this country,” or that Latino migrants are an “invasive species,” that seeks to undermine the nation, or that the President is intentionally “destroying the economy” so as to pay white people back for slavery, or that, worse, he and other Democrats are vampires, the only solution for which is a “stake through the heart,” to feign shock at the acts of a Jared Loughner is a precious and naive conceit that we can no longer afford.

Via Pandagon, which notes succinctly, “Keeping people in a permanent state of fantasy is an excellent way to push them towards violence.”

A few related links:

* The solution to gun violence is always more guns.

* Some rules for debating debate.

* Gun control for me, but not for thee.

* Nate Silver tries to get empirical.

* And these “You Lie!” bullets could be intended for anyone. It’s not a call for violence. Stop whining.