Pharyngula

Blanch, you delicate souls, blanch. Somebody else finally gets it.

I’d like to suggest a very simple strategy for American liberals: Get mean. Stop policing the language and start using it to hurt our enemies. American liberals are so busy purging their speech of any words that might offend anyone that they have no notion of using language to cause some salutary pain.

I wish I knew where Americans got this idea that being a liberal meant being Mr and Mrs Milquetoast.

Comments

  1. #1 Tyler DiPietro
    March 26, 2008

    American liberals have assimilated as dogma the belief that dialogue and conciliation are always the way to go. As time has progressed it has become obvious that such isn’t true unless you have adversaries that are prepared to argue in good faith. That certainly hasn’t been true of the Republican right for a good while.

  2. #2 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “Conservatives are corrupt and inept.” Define conservative. I think part of the problem is that there is a fairly broad range of the definition conservative and liberal. IE

    I like gun and want to own as much fire power as possible but I have no problem what so ever with waiting periods and complete background checks.

    I hate getting ass raped taxes but have no problem if the money is used to boost the economy and help feed an cloth the poor.

    I’m pro choice but think the third trimester abortions without medical need are wrong.

    I eat meat but do so from quality farms the treat their animals well.

    I don’t mind national health-care as a concept but can’t see it ever actually being applied properly. The rich areas would simply implement for pay hospitals and the middle class would get boned for paying higher taxes and having to use “free hospitals” because they can’t afford private insurance.

    I was against the Iraq war but feel that if we just pull out without stabilizing the nation we are going to be hugely screwed in the end. Russians in Afghanistan anyone.

    So what does that make me?

  3. #3 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “Besides, is your goal to change the world or feel better by letting off some steam?” Mean gets people attention if used properly. Polite is generally ignored unless you at least give off the aura of the ability to be mean.

  4. #4 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    March 26, 2008

    John Dolan tells it straight. Attack until the enemy cry uncle and are prepared to listen to reason. The fundamentalist, the creationist, the illiberal are either scum, or suckers, or both, and we should be unafraid of letting them know so.

    What was that great American aphorism? Oh yes, “never give a sucker an even break”.

    Amen.

  5. #5 eleanor
    March 26, 2008

    You read Hitchen’s screed today in Slate.com and National Post? Woo-hoo!! Your GREAT friend Omaba gets reamed. So make your choice. Hitchens or Obama? You can’t agree with both thom them, can you?

  6. #6 zoltan
    March 26, 2008

    Yeah, I can’t wait until liberals amass enough power-via-meanness to assrape me through overtaxation, because the conservatives aren’t doing enough of that already.

  7. #7 woody, tokin librul
    March 26, 2008

    Has nobody learned ANYTHING in these last 30 years?

    There is no “good faith” anymore. If the torture ‘debate’ proves nothing at all else, it conclusively demonstrates that, in public policy, the ends justify the means. It’s the Triumph of Instrumentalism. Once gone down that track, there has never been a turning back; not a voluntary one, at any rate.

    “WE” the People are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Fucked, that the extent, and the permanence, and the utter corruption of it all has yet to sink in…

    Johnny McStain’s gonna lead the way into the new “reality”–see the paragraph immediately preceding this one for details…

  8. #8 Moses
    March 26, 2008

    I’ve been saying that for years. When Gingrich was still in the House, I read a study on communication styles and audiences that came to the conclusion that “conservatives” tended to react much more to the emotional content of a message than the intellectual content of a message. Whereas, “liberals” tended to go the other way – toward the rational/intellectual side.

    The study suggested that “liberals” communicate more like the conservatives to get a broader appeal. Ironically, I see Obama doing some of that and it creeps me out. But I think it explains much of his appeal – his rhetoric is more feeling-based than Clinton’s.

    In other words, speak from the fire in your heart. Rule with your head.

  9. #9 jsn
    March 26, 2008

    Any suggestions on what to say to the Jehova’s Witnesses who showed up at my door 5 minutes ago?

  10. #10 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    March 26, 2008

    1. It antagonizes the people you’re mean to, encouraging them to respond in kind.

    True, but at the same time it forces them to fight, and it exhausts them. Which is exactly what you want to happen. You make them pay a price for their fuckwititude. People only have so much energy to engage in a donnybrook, verbal or otherwise. If you engage them and wear them down there is a greater likelihood that they will learn from this and be more civil, or sensible, next time around. Only the most obtuse feckers can keep ploughing on indefinitely. And frankly they are not the minority we are targeting.

    2. It suggests to bystanders that you’re a barbarian, thereby discrediting your cause. 9/11 did NOT help the cause of Islam.

    What a crock! We are hardly advocating flying airplanes into skyscrapers. “The rude boys are like unto Jihadist terrorists!” Is a claim like this not a modern variant of Godwin?

    No, this is a war with words. Pugnaciousness suggests to bystanders that your cause is worth fighting for and that there are lines they should be wary of crossing. It suggests they can’t walk all over you.

    Of course, they may conclude you are an arsehole, but frankly if you are in this to win popularity contests you are going to be sorely disappointed. Because the only way you will succeed at that is to act like a doormat. And they still won’t respect you.

  11. #11 Alex
    March 26, 2008

    Norman@23, that’s just fucking stupid. /sarcasm

  12. #12 Mena
    March 26, 2008

    I always equate “conservative” with “bully”. The people on Fox are bullies, Ann Coulter is a bully, etc. The dumbest of the dumb like bullies because it makes them feel powerful too. They then think that they have the right to be bullies too, and that the rest of us will allow them to push us around. That’s the main reason to fight back, although the guy that the so-called True Conservatives TM claim to be in ultimate obedience to once allegedly said ” Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” We tried that method but they managed to destroy the country. Something has to be done now so that it doesn’t get any worse.

  13. #13 woody, tokin librul
    March 26, 2008

    “Is there some reason I should consider the possibility that your statement is not as moronic as it seems to be? I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here.”

    just doesn’t have the punch of “Eat shit and die, cully.” Too many polysyllables (“consider,” “possibility,” “statement,” etc)…i used to try to suggest fools “imbibe your own excrement and expire…” but i think the effect is lost ehn thhey have to think about it, in that drooling, eye-rolling, nose-picking way they have…

  14. #14 woody, tokin librul
    March 26, 2008

    Any suggestions on what to say to the Jehova’s Witnesses who showed up at my door 5 minutes ago?

    Posted by: jsn | March 26, 2008 7:55 PM

    i have always found that suggesting, very politely, that we all get naked and lie in a heap and fuck is effective.

  15. #15 spurge
    March 26, 2008

    That is what is best in life Lee.

  16. #16 MelM
    March 26, 2008

    I suggest that the term “crackpot” be used against the creationists. It summarizes their ideas and mentality. I think it will sting because of the evasions and self-deception involved and “crackpot” succinctly catches it all. “Crackpot” may make them visible to themselves and to anyone looking on; people do not like to be associated with crackpots nor believe they are duped by them. Using “crackpot” makes the battle line and the issue fully clear using just one word.

  17. #17 Chris Crawford
    March 26, 2008

    Lee suggests that the value of antagonizing conservatives is that it wears them down. This sounds like the strategy used at Verdun in World War I.

    ” Pugnaciousness suggests to bystanders that your cause is worth fighting for and that there are lines they should be wary of crossing. It suggests they can’t walk all over you.”

    I disagree. I don’t know what motivates you, but I will warn you that, if you allow your anger to affect your judgement, you will surely fail. I do see a lot of anger being expressed in these comments, and that anger, while justified, is our enemy. Success does not go to those who lose their heads.

  18. #18 Not Dukakis
    March 26, 2008

    Michael Dukakis
    nuff said

  19. #19 Longtime Lurker
    March 26, 2008

    “Any suggestions on what to say to the Jehova’s Witnesses who showed up at my door 5 minutes ago?”

    Simple, say, “Huh? The agency usually sends the same strippers, but you’ll do!”

    Now, all you tough-but-smart liberals out there, go out and obtain “No Rest for the Wicked” by the New Model Army, select the track “My Country”, turn it up to the proverbial eleven, go out, and rip anyone to the right of Nancy Pelosi a new one. The bridge is a neat little set of words to roll up and smack a right-winger’s snout with:

    “No rights were ever given to us by the grace of god, no rights were ever given by a United Nations clause, no rights were ever given by some nice guy at the top, our rights, they were bought by all the blood and all the tears of all our grandmothers and grandfathers before.”

    It is the anthem of the kick-ass liberal. Also, the next time some dumbass sends you an e-mail about the only two “defining forces” that died for you, ask them, “What about all the labor and civil rights activists who gave their lives for our ability to make a decent living without undue harassment and exploitation?”

  20. #20 Tristan I Croll
    March 26, 2008

    RE: #13

    You read Hitchen’s screed today in Slate.com and National Post? Woo-hoo!! Your GREAT friend Omaba gets reamed. So make your choice. Hitchens or Obama? You can’t agree with both thom them, can you?

    This, I think, illustrates perfectly the way the conservative mind works. At the root, it’s not about ideas, or facts – it’s about people. They will pick figureheads – the person or people they consider the strongest, the most likely to win, and then get back that person 100%, no matter what. They expect us to do the same thing, which is why you get attacks like this – to that mindset, this would be a telling blow. To the intended recipients, however, it’s just bemusing, and a little sad.

  21. #21 dave
    March 26, 2008

    “Those who fight monsters should take care that they never become one. For when you stand and look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

  22. #22 ndt
    March 26, 2008

    Fucking right on.

  23. #23 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    March 26, 2008

    It’s gone midnight in Eng-er-land and papa Brimmicombe-Wood needs his sleep.

    Goodnight, Smurfs and Smurfettes!

  24. #24 Chris Crawford
    March 26, 2008

    Lee, when you write that the tactics used a Verdun sound like something that works, well… you’re very, very wrong. Verdun is archetypical of the worst kind of military operation, a huge bloodbath that accomplished absolutely nothing.

    The tactics you propose are debating tactics, nothing more. They might permit you to feel that you have emerged victorious from some childish blog battle, but if you think that they convince anybody else, you’re horribly wrong. You are not smarter than the bystanders and they can see a debater’s trick a mile away.

    And whether you call it aggression or anger, it’s still ugly and bystanders are still put off by it.

    If you want to convince people, you just stick with the facts, avoid chest-beating, and speak gently.

  25. #25 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
    March 26, 2008

    In the (fictionalized) words of President John Adams:

    “This is a revolution, damn it! We’re going to have to offend somebody!”

    Clip here

  26. #26 Stogoe
    March 26, 2008

    Great hair, Chris Crawford.

  27. #27 ice9
    March 26, 2008

    Y’all are working way too hard.

    Victory in politics is patience plus consistency. Clausewitz, or maybe that japanese feller, they had it right. Holding your ground is the easiest, most efficient means of combat, and of political victory.
    The conservatives are energetic, and they have a fund of momentum from history–it’s a Christian nation, and a scientifically foolish one, and a nation with a history of violent overreaction, and so on. But we have progressed, by fits and starts but we have. Conservatism by definition hopes to turn the clock back, or at least stop it, and all occasions do inform against them. They’re not mean; they’re furious, because fury is contagious, and effective, but short-lived.
    The creotards and Intelligent Design smoothies, the in-the-closet homophobes, the Wolfowitz crusaders, the home-schoolers, the no-new-tax and starve-the-beast fiscalists, the Minutemen, all of the phenomenal movement politicians are susceptible to patient, smiling, polite, dogged, determined argument. It’s not overpoliteness, or intellectual constipation; it’s confident patience, the four-corners offense, the Napoleonic creed of short internal lines of supply and communication.
    Take our own Michelle Bachman, a brittle glass dish of a Bushie, the perfect Christer for America, a blueprint for the modern conservative our brain-dead trailerians elect to plan for a future they think will end in rapture any minute. Bachman is elected, and will likely stay elected, but she can’t sit still. If she just takes that empty grin to Washington and votes the way Uncle Dick says she should, all will be well and whatever reptilian hypocrisy she’s hiding (I’m betting she’s been to a certain Greek island myself) would stay hidden forever and she’d become one of the fossilized minority.
    but no, she can’t. She’s too stupid, too dedicated to the antithesis of public service and government that is the bold thesis of modern conservatism. So she sponsors a Lightbulb Freedom of Choice bill, which is all about scoring silly little points off of science and government. She and her ilk are so sure, so absolutely true-believer, that they will destroy themselves sure as you’re born. They were educated to one standard: underestimating other people in the process of overestimating themselves. Hence the hubris of the hypocritical moralists–too many to mention; the grotesque fiction of the “fiscal conservatives,” Laffering all the way to the bank; the pathetic sagging depletion of the Religious Wing, crowned by raving Robertson or flap-jowled Falwell and his comical university.
    Left alone, the Bush administration would collapse into a zoological park of comical absurdity: Jeff Gannon, Alberto Gonzalez, Harriet Miers (though I for one would have kind of enjoyed that one–imagine the girl-talk with Bader Ginsberg–Harriet would flee the Court knock kneed and pale some night, howling like Kitty Genovese.)Etc ad nauseum.
    Hang tight. Stand your ground. Refute those posts. Cite those logical fallacies. Keep reading and studying. Stay patient.

    ice

  28. #28 Jim
    March 26, 2008

    Like they said on B5, you can get more with a kind word and a two-by-four that you can with just a kind word.

  29. #29 Sue Laris
    March 26, 2008

    Also, remember that “lib’rls” generally have, as they say, a fuckin’ LIFE, while the high point of a Bushite’s week is going to church to be told that heaven won’t be as shitty as his/her earth existance is.
    Bush-”republican” polotics is the organizing of the viciously unhappy in the interest of the leaders seeking to perfect the banality of Evil.

  30. #30 Bill
    March 26, 2008

    Woody – We are defending freedom of thought. The right for our minds to be free of religous dogma. The right to not be bullied into bowing before a lie. The right to not have our souls held hostage so that others may gain more power. The right to search for the truth of the universe in our own way and someday find a way off this God forsaken rock and get away from all these damned crackpots!

  31. #31 Kagehi
    March 26, 2008

    The peace vigils against this war have been very “peaceful,” lighting candles, singing “Give Peace a Chance,” marching on sidewalks to avoid disrupting traffic.

    Yeah Mike, it hasn’t done much and they get called hippies. There is a good reason too. There is **no** valid reason to think that just because we stop shooting people, peace is going to break out, so rational people look at that slogan and suffer a long moment of WTF every time they hear it? Its what I stated on another post at a different blog. You want to solve a problem, you need to suggest a solution. Leaving the areas, after you helped screw things up, and pretending you don’t see the consequences of doing so, is ***not*** a solution. The people that use that phrase are either a) not considering the consequences and how to *really* solve the problem, or b) they actually really believe that it would work, somehow, and should go back to their hemp farms and eat more funny leaf salad. Its denial of either reality, or that someone, someplace, might, if anyone bothered to listen to them, instead of the war mongers, have some solution that could, maybe, salvage something from the situation.

    Both sides deny this possibility, one by ignoring the fact that they don’t have a damn clue what to do, and never did, and the other by insisting that the only other option is to do the equivalent of sitting back and watching the house burn down, because, well, buckets didn’t work, and no one wants to listen to the joker who keeps babbling something about “fire trucks”. I mean, how silly can you be. Such a thing, if it existed, couldn’t *unburn* the other buildings that already collapsed, right, or repair the damage to the one that’s burning? Glad I at least have Vlad here too, who also finds this logic completely ridiculous.

  32. #32 A non-ideological independent
    March 26, 2008

    Absolutely LOL!

    “We need to get mean!”

    “How do we do that?”

    “Say ‘fuck’ more!”

    “Fuck, yeah! That’ll work!”

    You guys are so utterly fucked. With the Obama/Clinton schism, you’re going to give us a McCain presidency, and the USA going to war in about a dozen more places. Thanks, losers!

  33. #33 Alex
    March 26, 2008

    So young males want to be offensive just because they’re young and male? Not to provide more evidence for the author of that article’s argument, but fuck him. Living for a shorter period of time and being born with an XY chromosome does not make one want to offend others instead of making rational, civil arguments. That said, I have many “liberal” ideas because they’re good ideas. I don’t hold them based on whether or not those who call themselves liberals attempt to humiliate those who oppose them. In fact, I might even be less likely to hold my views if that was the case. Trying to be nice is a positive thing, and if this guy disagrees, then he can become a conservative for all I care and insult everyone he wants without making any actual arguments. I agree that sometimes insulting others might make be helpful to a cause sometimes, but it’s not something that people should go out of their way to encourage like this asshole.

  34. #34 Art
    March 26, 2008

    “American liberals have assimilated as dogma the belief that dialogue and conciliation are always the way to go. As time has progressed it has become obvious that such isn’t true unless you have adversaries that are prepared to argue in good faith. That certainly hasn’t been true of the Republican right for a good while. – Tyler DiPietro ”

    An astute observation. One of the things that worries me about Obama and the call to ‘change’, understood as a more cooperative bipartisan atmosphere on the national scene, is that it takes two to cooperate, or tango.

    I wish Bill Clinton would stand up and clearly state that his campaign was largely about ‘change’ and bipartisan cooperation. He entered office and made strong efforts to find common ground. This despite the vicious attacks he endured on while running. It was not to be. The attacks and slurs were pressed harder and only lightened up years after he had left office.

    Obama wants to take the high road a nice goal but one that that can be gained unilaterally. His followers get bent out of shape at anything even slightly negative. Do they think the Republicans are going to hold their tongues and passively let a new day of cooperation dawn? If the Obama campaign can’t stand up to criticism, even justified criticism, what are they going to do when the GOP rolls out the ‘Southern Strategy’ from the 70s and the Muslim card. Complete with threats of riots and fear of black men with odd names. All backed by Limbaugh, thrice weekly attack editorials and well financed swiftboaters.

    The high road is a fine path. Until someone mugs you on it.

  35. #35 Tom
    March 27, 2008

    Bumper Sticker:

    Godless Liberal
    Proud & Patriotic

    Got me a few fingers from old farts in Caddys. I would laugh at them. I should get that reprinted.

  36. #36 Abyss
    March 27, 2008

    Being ‘mean’ is worthless. It’s just being petty and petulant to your opponents for the sake of it.

    Don’t be mean, be SAVAGE, be RUTHLESS.

    Rip everything they say apart, every flaw in their argument, every skeleton in their closet, every instance of cowardice, failure, and hypocrisy. Shed them so completely that they have nothing left to stand on. Leave them a huddling mass of crap on the floor. When they finally try to stand up, hit them with a heavy stick and call them hippies.

    Then, after the dust has settled and everyone forgets what they stood for, offer them a hand so that the country will call you compassionate.

    That’s how they beat us. It’s time to return the favor.

  37. #37 Thomas Howard
    March 27, 2008

    jsn:

    “Any suggestions on what to say to the Jehova’s Witnesses who showed up at my door 5 minutes ago?”

    Well, it’s a bit late now, but you could do what my paternal grandfather did. He let the guy maunder on until he got to the whole 144,000 co-rulers bit, then asked “Well, how do you know one of them will be you?” Apparently, that possibility hadn’t yet occurred to the poor guy. He stopped dead, said “I never thought about that..” and just walked off the porch and down the street to who knows where.

  38. #38 Keith
    March 27, 2008

    Being liberal does not mean you have to “elevate” yourself above the fray, particularly in rhetoric. If someone is full of shit, call them on it. Call out the hypocrisy, and any unfounded opinions, and call them out hard.

    Precisely. That’s not to say you should do it often, but can you imagine the response at, say, a debate, if one candidate suggested something like staying in Iraq for 100 years and the other looked at them incredulously and asked:

    “Excuse me, but are you insane? The majority of the American people don’t want us there, the majority of Iraqis don’t want us there…come to think of it, about the only people who think we should stay there are people using our presence as a recruiting tool for terrorism, and you.”

    Whatever hits a candidate would take would be overshadowed by the number of people going “Hell, yeah.”

  39. #39 Autumn
    March 27, 2008

    Aggressiveness and anger are able (holy assonance, batman) to be conveyed in a very cool, calm, and rational way. Before I got married and had actual responsibilities, I took great pride in my ability to very calmly find out what I would have to say in order to turn an interlocutor into a seething bag of unintelligible hatred.
    Not only is it possible, but I have done it in front of audiences who later were certain that a person I had -with malice aforethought- verbally goaded into physical violence, or the threat thereof, was the aggressor.
    It needs to be learned by anyone arguing from a position considered out of the mainstream, and in today’s America, that means anyone who values reality and rationalism.
    Yes, by the way, I am an asshole, and I have never apologized for that (which I guess makes me that much more of an asshole).

  40. #40 Jim Battle
    March 27, 2008

    The thing that makes PZ’s loud, unrelenting, righteous indignation work is that he backs it up with reasoning and evidence. Sure, he let’s some steam go (huge vapor clouds sometimes), but in the context of the full article, he usually backs that sentiment with specific, (ir)refutable evidence.

    But reading through this thread, I have to think that some of the posters only have the insult part mastered, without anything of weight behind it.

    “Hey, PZ said it is OK to be obnoxious! Great, I’m good at that … I can’t wait to post!” Comment #4 is just stupid; comment #3, while a sentiment shared widely here, isn’t the type of insults that are likely to convert anyone. #2 is patently false — there are plenty of conservatives who aren’t corrupt and inept; if conservatives are so inept, why do they wield so much power?

    The point is to be obnoxious and correct, not just obnoxious. Going back to the original article, where it suggests the bumper sticker: it isn’t just an insult (eg, “Repuglicans can lick my crack!”), it is pointedly accusing the republican reading it of being dupes. With luck some of them will really question what benefit they get from being republican, and others will, after enough exposure, be more hesitant to identify as republicans simply out of tarnished name brand.

  41. #41 Ian
    March 27, 2008

    You wilting flowers are the problem. Grow a spine.

    Odd…I thought the Republicans were the problem.

  42. #42 J Myers (no relation)
    March 27, 2008

    #94: A study in irony, or idiocy?

  43. #43 Ebo Tebo
    March 27, 2008

    As the master of tact and diplomacy, I find that the word “cocksucker” used infrequently, helps immeasurably in a heated debate!

  44. #44 LisaJ
    March 27, 2008

    Damn right, we need to say what we mean more. This is something that I do alot of now – although I’m still trying to find the right formula to be effective – it’s tough when society has always told you that you are not a nice person unless you are quietly repsectful of everyone else’s beliefs and viewpoints. I strongly agree with the semtiment that the immense religious idiocy that is so prevalent today has alot to do with the fact that the sane and intelligent people are just too nice to say anything. Come on people – be ‘mean’! And all that is really meant by ‘mean’ here is speak your mind… surely there is nothing wrong with that.

  45. #45 car
    March 27, 2008

    It’s not like this is a new thing. If you go back to the early days of the country and read speeches and news reports, politicians were not above smearing each other with every name in the book (of the time) during debates, along with calling them out for every infraction. I’m not sure when it changed into being “nice” and not calling a spade a spade, but it’s not like there’s a beautiful original golden age that we’ve drifted away from.
    I also don’t see where “civility” means not addressing bad behavior. If we simply politely ignore every time someone in power abuses it, then we end up, well, here where we are now.

  46. #46 John
    March 27, 2008

    Here’s a question: what is more effective? Opposing the invasion of Iraq, and denouncing it as aggressive war? Or thinking up appropriate punishments for the leaders who invaded? There was a time when I was gleefully thinking up grizzly punishments for the likes of Colonel North, or wrongful executioners. I’ve gotten a bit out of practice, I’m sorry to say.

  47. #47 vlad
    March 27, 2008

    “A misogynistic homophobe with some sort of tiny dick complex ?” No you nutless jackass. I use blunt euphemisms that require no interpretations as to my meaning. Ass raping is as I’m told an unpleasant experience which regardless of your orientation is something one doesn’t like. As far as tiny dick sure absolutely but I prefer a small dick and a big wallet to a huge dick and an empty bank account. Big dicks don’t change anything but a big wallet can do a shit load. The misogynistic aspect I have no fucking idea where that comes from. You have had 6 fucking months to decide to abort or not so unless there is medical need I see no reason to terminate. Also you sheep fucker there are a shit load of moderate conservatives who while are pro choice but get very cagey when these come up. So they tend to swing in the opposite direction. Homophobe? Oh I fucking wish, that would normally mean I’m gay. I get a shit load more attention from guys then women, if I was gay life would be a lot easier for me.

    P.S. Mean enough?

  48. #48 AllanW
    March 27, 2008

    Re; comment #148 Lilly de Lure

    Entirely agree; I was, of course, referring to the tendency to avoid any conflict (the reflex to be seen as polite) rather than the urge to fisticuffs.

  49. #49 spurge
    March 27, 2008

    “The Republicans have demostrated, over-time, that they’re NOT INTERESTED in good governence. Just power.”

    This is because they constantly claim government can’t work.

    A self fulfilling prophecy.

  50. #50 Lilly de Lure
    March 27, 2008

    Vlad said:

    First the government is basically, dumb as a bag of warm dog shit, now they master minded this massive plan to hijack 2 planes (there were people on board) via remote control and fly them from Boston to NY via remote control, and crash them into the towers.

    Ah, but you forget that they then revert back to dumb when it comes to framing the right type of terrorists. After all, they can mastermind such a fiendishly ingenious (not to mention needlessly complicated) plot but are apparently incapable of finding some actual Iraqis to pin the crime on. It’s like some James Bond villian came up with the “perfect” plan and then let Dubya loose to scribble all over it before handing it over to his operatives.

  51. #51 John
    March 27, 2008

    John (9/11 twoofer): Explain this one to me oh wise and noble nut case. If this is all a conspiracy for the invasion of Iraq then why were the hijackers from Afghanistan and not Iraq.

    Eh? Where did you get the idea that the hijackers were from Afghanistan? According to the official story, they were mostly from Saudi Arabia.

    Second, where the heck did I say that 9/11 was a conspiracy for the invasion of Iraq?

    Vlad: Read. Read what I say, not what I didn’t say.

  52. #52 Sonja
    March 27, 2008

    Would John Kerry defend himself when attacked by bullies?

    This drives me crazy. No, John Kerry was not supposed to defend himself — his job, as the candidate was to look and act presidential at all times. It is the job of the machine to defend him. The fact that the Democratic machine is not as well-oiled as the Republican machine is the problem. President (or candidate) Bush never got down into the dirt — he didn’t have to and therefore he saved himself from drawing the fire of petty attacks.

    Will you ever hear John McCain talk about sniper fire in Bosnia or Rev. Wright? No, he lets other people do that.

    Hillary is doing the dirty work herself and making petty snipes at Obama — this will be her undoing. She looks petty and like a politician.

    Obama continues to look and act like our next president. And that is his job right now. For example, he sends out Bill Richardson to call for Hillary to get out of the race — this is the way to do it.

    Yes, WE need to be aggressive and mean — throw the dirt on the other candidate and protect our own by leaving him/her out of it.

  53. #53 Epikt
    March 27, 2008

    People, it doesn’t matter whether you want to make nice with the right. By the simple act of disagreeing with them, you’re setting yourself up to be smeared, and you’d better be equipped to deal with it. A high-minded hand-wringing proclamation that your position is supported by the facts is going to get you precisely nothing. You need to be willing to go toe-to-toe with these clowns. You need to be willing to show that you’re passionate about what you believe. You need to demonstrate to them that their parroting of right-wing talking points will not go unchallenged.

    Remember the “angry liberal” meme the right was trying out last year? You don’t hear much about it any more. Given the way the right operates, you can be reasonably certain that if the meme were effective, we’d still be hearing about it. So at the very least, “angry liberal” is not turning off people, and it may even be a positive.

  54. #54 Steve_C
    March 27, 2008

    Ann Coulter is a liar. Liberals no matter how “angry”,(I prefer outspoken) don’t resort to lying. The republican’s are so damn irresponsible, lazy and corrupt that there’s no need lie about them.

  55. #55 student_b
    March 27, 2008

    by John Dolan, AlterNet.

    And this, of course, brings up a big issue: At some point liberal writers are going to have to decide if it’s OK to be young and male at all. For better or for worse, millions of American men hold on to playground ethics long after they leave elementary school.

    If you want male voters’ respect, stop patronizing them.

    John Dolan, fuck you.

  56. #56 Aquaria
    March 27, 2008

    Would John Kerry defend himself when attacked by bullies?

    Actually, Kerry has defended himself against bullies. When Tom Delay impugned Kerry’s patriotism, the Senator publicly responded with, “I don’t need any lessons in patriotism from the likes of Tom Delay.”

    And good for Kerry for calling Delay on his lies and hypocrisy that way. If only he’d been more willing to stand up for something, even himself, when he was running for President…

  57. #57 Quentin Long
    March 27, 2008

    In the context of American politics, liberals are regarded as ineffectual for one simple reason: Liberals are ineffectual. Liberals couldn’t stop Chimpy McFlightsuit from being elected; liberals couldn’t stop Chimpy from getting re-elected; liberals couldn’t stop the current senseless war; liberals couldn’t stop that ridiculous, Constitution-shredding “faith-based initiatives” nonsense; liberals couldn’t stop the Orwellian PATRIOT Act; and so on, on down a long, long list of failures. Hell, even PZ himself has acknowledged the Democratic Party’s penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!
    At this point, I’m sure that some of the people reading this are thinking, “Yeah, but what about all the things liberals have achieved in the past?” My reply: What about all those things? Does anybody seriously think that past liberal successes mean a damn thing for today’s problems? “Yeah, you guys let BushCo get away with raping the Treasury, scribbling over inconvenient bits of the Constitution, and turning America into a global pariah… but gosh, that’s okay because you sure used to be something!”
    The BushCo crowd may be a bunch of moral vacuums… but good Lord, do they ever know how to get mass quantities of people to buy into things that should, by rights, repulse anyone with two functioning brain cells to rub together.
    Bottom line: Liberals don’t know how to do politics — not any more, they don’t. And until they re-learn how to do politics, liberals are, and will continue to be, ineffectual.

  58. #58 Interrobang
    March 27, 2008

    Pete upthread at #85 wins the Internet today. George Lakoff FTW. (For those of you out there who haven’t been playing along at home, people like me were studying Lakoff about ten years ago, before he became all cool and political and stuff, and he was saying pretty much the same things then.)

    Stop using their words that reinforce their worldview. It’s not a “tax burden,” it’s “paying for the privilege of being an American” (for those of you in the US; I get healthcare for my membership fees!). They’re not “pro-life,” they’re “pro-forced-birth” or “anti-woman.” They’re not “values voters,” they’re “special interest voters.” (I like that one especially because it turns the right-wing phrase back on itself.) Conversely, if someone hits you with the “special interest” meme, you say, “I didn’t realise civil rights were a ‘special interest’. Don’t you support civil rights?” And so on.

    I’ve been saying pretty much the same thing as John Dolan (the author of the AlterNet piece) for years, except I don’t say it so it reeks of nasty sexism. The issue is not about a goddam cult of masculinity; in fact, I’d wager the goddam cult of masculinity is about 7/8 of your cultural problem. It’s about refusing to back down when bullies are after your hide, and that’s a universal problem not confined to the males of the species, as this recent thread on the feminist blog Pandagon amply demonstrates.

    Interestingly, in that Pandagon thread, the nearly-universal consensus was that the way to get a bully to stop wasn’t to be nice to them, ignore them and hope they’ll stop, or blame yourself, it’s to use force, usually physical. As someone who discovered that tromping on a groper’s foot or slugging a bully in the gut works wonders, I noticed the same rule applies in verbal sparring.

  59. #59 Azkyroth
    March 27, 2008

    We need a bathroom wall and some crayons for the children.

    And a few rounds of pity-applause for people with an immature need to show off their “maturity.”

  60. #60 Mathew Wilder
    March 27, 2008

    Well, then, let’s find a word for an inept performer of fellatio. “Chokedrooler” maybe?

    I’m going to have to start using that.

    I use blunt euphemisms that require no interpretations as to my meaning.

    Isn’t “blunt euphemism” sort of contradictory?

  61. #61 Tim
    March 27, 2008

    “I wish I knew where Americans got this idea that being a liberal meant being Mr and Mrs Milquetoast.”

    If we replace “Milquetoast” with “politely rational” I suggest that the answer may be Canada. Perhaps that is why we have had a Liberal (admittedly somewhat to the left of most American liberals) government for the majority of the last century (for better or for worse).

  62. #62 Kevin
    March 27, 2008

    to be rude..

    Partisanship is when I fuck YOU up the ass.

    Bipartisanship is when YOU give ME a blowjob.

    Yep that covers it.

    Steny….

  63. #63 Azkyroth
    March 28, 2008

    I don’t see how liberalism can be advanced if everyone becomes a supercilious asshole like PZ Myers.

    Better than it’s been advanced by people internalizing the concern trolling that tries to label being outspoken and assertive as being “a supercilious asshole.”

  64. #64 Nick Gotts
    March 29, 2008

    Re #191 [John].
    John, you’re wasting your time. Everyone here is either extremely stupid, or is part of the great 9-11 cover-up conspiracy. Take your great insights to somewhere they stand a chance of being appreciated. Please.

  65. #65 ambulocetus
    March 29, 2008

    Norman, For a long time I used the “Is there some reason I should consider the possibility etc.” tactic, and all it does make them think you are a sissy. Just look at some of the ill-mannered comments I got on this video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PJEK8Y3-ok
    I’ve decided to give as good as I get and they seem to hate that more. In addition, I’ve decided to offer free kungfu lessons to any atheist in the 219 or 708 area codes. I feel it’s just a matter of time before the nuts in this country start getting violent.

  66. #66 John
    March 30, 2008

    Gosh! Like, there just isn’t any possible other explanations. Its not like the damn things struck… I don’t know, glass windows or something, which in shattering could have reflected light, in broad daylight. And that is just one of them.

    Finally, someone actually addresses the video clip. The problem is that light from shattering glass windows doesn’t fit the distribution. The bursts of bright light match the pod, the two jet engines, and nothing else. (Okay, there’s a fourth much smaller one that appears when the right wingtip penetrates the wall.) Shattering glass (like friction, other impact, fuel in the fuel tanks) produces literally zero light everywhere else. With all these causes, we would see light distributed continuously around the aircraft.

    Instead we see three individual bursts of light — two that match the jet engines, and a third that matches nothing on an ordinary commercial 767, but matches the apparent pod in the video. And as I’ve repeatedly said, stepping through the frames, it appears that the pod produces the middle bright dot.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if shattered glass and reflected light were involved, but the cause has to be connected with the jet engines and the pod. Elsewhere around the airplane, shattered glass does literally nothing during the first tenth of a second.

    Any plausible cause of the bright dots has to fit the distribution, at least approximately. Causes that are distributed uniformly around the airplane don’t match apparent single discrete lightbursts. The jet engines have an immediate obvious cause for the lightbursts — fuel (a gallon or so) being transported to the engines.

  67. #67 Kagehi
    March 30, 2008

    I was using it as an example of “one” possible explanation John, not as a certain refutation of your claim. Besides, all you have is a statement that you “don’t think” such a distribution makes sense. That means jack. Ghost hunters and others play that stupid game all the time too. Take 500 videos with odd lights, floating globes, etc., all of which could be camera glitches, floating specks of dust, etc., then insist that 498 of them are nothing, but that *2* of them “look like they are acting with purpose”, therefor = ghost.

    The problem is, you don’t know what the damn distribution is yourself. You are presuming to, based on how you *think* something should act, which may be absolutely dead wrong. The biggest one being the completely absurd idea that **real world** explosions look like the ones you see in fracking movies, where there is *uniform* distributions of effects over the entire object. The real world doesn’t produce spectacular effects, huge fireballs, etc., **unless** you put more explosives into it than you have on a normal aircraft. What you are seeing is what I would *expect* to see. What you are looking for is what prop makers for “Diehard: 9/11 The Movie” might come up with.

    Oh, and just to be clear. One program on TV a while back showed a damn good example, if less explosive, of why stepping through frames in useless on a standard camera. The put a small balloon inside a larger one, then plunged a ice pick through them both, filming it with two cameras, a *standard* 30 frame/second camera, and a high speed 300+ frame/second camera. The entire popping happened in the moments **between** two frames of the 30/sec one, and only 6-7 frames out of the other one showed the popping, of which you could see the other balloon in only **two**.

    What you have is 30f/s, with ***all*** of the critical details needed to determine what happened some place between two frames, and worse, due to the way motion is blurred at extreme high speeds, you can’t even say how many frames of additional light might have been captured by accident *during* the few moments the shutter opened to take the supposedly “incriminating” shot. You might as well be filming the sky at stop motion speeds and then claiming that clouds just “poofed” into being between one frame and the next.

    The fact is, all you have is a blurry frame, which contains “more” than one frames worth of data, given the speed of the object and explosion, and a wacky theory for why you think it “looks” like something happened between those fractions of a second. The experts could barely capture a second balloon popping between frames on a standard camera, while *using* a high speed one that too 10 times the number of shots in the same time, yet you actually think you have irrefutable evidence of conspiracy, taken in the *same* span of time that the hight speed would have taken 10 shots….

    Simple truth is, you don’t have shit. The frames are worthless, possibly even if you have the other missing 10 a faster camera would have given, and your entire claim is based on imagining what you *think* the reason for it had to be, not one *any* facts, or, apparently, even a basic understanding of how camera film, frame rates, or motion blur work.

  68. #68 John
    April 1, 2008

    > I was using it as an example of “one” possible
    > explanation John, not as a certain refutation of your
    > claim.

    And my reply is the kind that must be considered for every possible cause of the bursts of light. Would it produce a light burst at the middle? And would it produce no light whatsoever elsewhere?

    > Besides, all you have is a statement that you “don’t
    > think” such a distribution makes sense. That means
    > jack.

    Of course, that applies to anyone who makes any assertion whatsoever — he thinks that what he asserts is true. So a random Sunday-School teacher says about physicist Richard Feynman’s telling us that tachyons don’t exist: “That’s just his opinion.”

    In any case, it’s patently obvious that glass shattered by an entering aircraft shatters in all directions on all sides of the aircraft — not in three discrete spots (or one, given that the other two were obviously caused by the two jet engines).

    > Ghost hunters and others play that stupid game all the
    > time too.

    So do nuclear physicists, high-energy physicists, analysts of data from spacecraft, forensic analysts, etc. It’s called data analysis. In this case, the analysis is particularly simple because except for the three bursts of light (and the fourth wingtip burst, and reflection from the aircraft — these are easily identified) there is literally no other light from the collision in the first few frames to mess up the signal.

    Richard Feynman, in “What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?”, tells us (regarding the Space Shuttle Challenger investigation) that investigators in an earlier rocket accident were able deduce considerable information from a particular dot of light that appeared in a video.

    > Take 500 videos with odd lights, floating globes, etc.,
    > all of which could be camera glitches, floating specks
    > of dust, etc., then insist that 498 of them are nothing,
    > but that *2* of them “look like they are acting with
    > purpose”, therefor = ghost.

    I hope you can tell the difference between two out of 500, and bursts of light that obviously came from the collision and are far from any kind of digital artifact.

    But then you probably dismiss the identification of Cepheid variable stars in a Hubble Space Telescope photograph of a galaxy over 100 million light-years away.

    > The problem is, you don’t know what the damn
    > distribution is yourself. You are presuming to, based on
    > how you *think* something should act, which may be
    > absolutely dead wrong.

    Oh, poppycock. Shattered glass doesn’t coalesce into a single burst. You don’t need a physics degree to figure that one out. At it has to be clear that any plausible cause of the bursts of light has to fit where they occur, or at least has to plausibly predict a very few bright discrete bursts of light.

    > The biggest one being the completely absurd idea that
    > **real world** explosions look like the ones you see in
    > fracking movies, where there is *uniform* distributions
    > of effects over the entire object. The real world
    > doesn’t produce spectacular effects, huge fireballs,
    > etc., **unless** you put more explosives into it than
    > you have on a normal aircraft. What you are seeing is
    > what I would *expect* to see. What you are looking for
    > is what prop makers for “Diehard: 9/11 The Movie” might
    > come up with.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I was expecting something like movie special effects. Read what I write; don’t read what I don’t write. I have no problem with the fact that the fireball doesn’t begin to appear for about a fifth of second after the wings enter the wall — it takes time for sufficient oxygen to mix in with the fuel in the fuel tank.

    I have no problem with shattered glass producing light scattered about the aircraft. I have no problem with shattered glass not producing light scattered about the aircraft. The problem is with shattered glass producing a bright burst of light underneath the right wing-fuselage junction and nowhere else.

    The same is true for all other ostensible causes of the middle light burst. The jet engines produced the two outer light bursts. The middle light burst appears to be caused by the “pod,” but has no plausible cause unique to that spot on an ordinary commercial 767. A basic knowledge of physics limits the cause of lightbursts to impact, friction, reflected light, and fuel. Shattered glass independent of the others is a remote possibility. None of those exists in any unique form to the right underside of the fuselage where the wing attaches.

    > Oh, and just to be clear. One program on TV a while back
    > showed a damn good example, if less explosive, of why
    > stepping through frames in useless on a standard
    > camera. The put a small balloon inside a larger one,
    > then plunged a ice pick through them both, filming it
    > with two cameras, a *standard* 30 frame/second camera,
    > and a high speed 300+ frame/second camera. The entire
    > popping happened in the moments **between** two frames
    > of the 30/sec one, and only 6-7 frames out of the other
    > one showed the popping, of which you could see the other
    > balloon in only **two**.

    Okay, so 30 frame/sec doesn’t catch the details of the balloon popping. It does catch the fact that the balloon popped, and it probably catches a couple frames of the instrument that popped the balloon. It records the position of the balloon, as well as the timing of the pop to within a tenth of a second (and that accounts for blurring and coding issues).

    In the video, we see one frame with the jet engines visible. The next frame, the engines have just entered the wall. The third frame, a burst of light appears where each jet engine was. The obvious conclusion: the jet engines caused those two light bursts.

    > What you have is 30f/s, with ***all*** of the critical
    > details needed to determine what happened some place
    > between two frames, and worse, due to the way motion is

    Those “critical details” aren’t needed to establish that the jet engines caused the light bursts. Those critical details aren’t needed to establish that a third light burst appeared, and approximately where it appeared.

    Perhaps I’m just assuming basic physics, basic knowledge about how a commercial 767 is designed, and basic probability — knowledge you appear to lack.

    > Simple truth is, you don’t have shit. The frames are
    > worthless, possibly even if you have the other missing
    > 10 a faster camera would have given, and your entire

    On the contrary. My analysis stands. The three light bursts match the two jet engines and the pod. The clip clearly shows the jet engines producing the outer lights, and (not clearly) shows the pod producing the middle light. A commercial 767 has nothing comparable to a jet engine there, and nothing unique about that position that would produce a comparable light burst while producing absolutely no light elsewhere.

    > claim is based on imagining what you *think* the reason
    > for it had to be, not one *any* facts, or, apparently,
    > even a basic understanding of how camera film, frame
    > rates, or motion blur work.

    Hah! From that statement, you couldn’t figure out what kind of film a digital camera uses.