Sep 2, 2008

I'M some sense

Well, I'm back blogging at least. Only, not here anymore.

Don't get me wrong, blogger has served me well these past few years. But I felt it was time for a change, and have much preferred working with Wordpress of late. And so, from now on, I intend to blog at the new PFLD site, which can be found at:

This link.

I think I have moved most links and things over. All the old posts are still there, except some of the stupid ones I decided to prune. But if I have missed anyone while moving over, holla, and I'll be sure to fix it. This site will remain as an archive and spam bot collection facility.

Hope to see you over at the new place.

Aug 28, 2008


I'm not going to be around much until Monday. No, I haven't got a job yet, I'm just going to busy and not really have the time to be online much. But hopefully by Monday I will be back in action. And yes, I will deal with Tim Montogomerie's ridiculous website, as promised.

Brown is mad?

Liberal Conspiracy discusses the "Brown is insane" meme.

I think that we should learn to love, cherish and adopt the term "concern trolling".

Aug 24, 2008

When will Tim Montgomerie stop beating his wife?

No srsly.

I mean, if we're gonna play that game it would be, lets at least do it properly. Going by the site, pretty much everyone who is not at least centre-right hates America.

And while it would be both amusing, and very easy, to make fun of Montgomerie's almost sycophantic website, instead I am putting on my "Internet Is SRS BUSINESS" had and I'm going to have some fun with his sources. Because his sources for some of the anti-Americanism briefings are some of the most disgusting and divisive Americans in recent history, whose absolute hatred at anyone with a worldview that differs from theirs is far more hateful of the Americans who hold those views than many of the descriptions of anti-Americanism on the site.

Firstly, I'm reading about Anti-Americanism and Hollywood, a delightful little playbook taken from the American right, about how Hollywood is undermining all that is good and true about America. And whose name should I see, but Michael Medved.

Medved is not what I would call a good source. In fact, he is a terrible source. This article here, I think, sums up everything that is wrong with his worldview. Historical inaccuracy and naievete are the hallmarks of his thinking. Taking it apart would be a lengthy work for a historian, there is so much wrong with it. Furthermore, his cultural conservativism shows in his contempt for liberal, homosexual and non Judeo-Christian Americans, which is the main point of pretty much every article he writes.

Medved will go to nearly any length to smear liberal, gay or non-Jewish or Christian Americans (in fact, he will smear them too, if they are too liberal for his liking). Why does Medved's contempt for his fellow citizens not disqualify him as a source? Because Montgomerie's site is not about anti-Americanism, its about using anti-Americanism, the concept, as a foil to attack left-wingers with.

This pattern repeats itself with some of his other non-political/NGO sources, who are invariably the worst examples of right-wing Americans, that conflate everything which isn't in line with their worldview as anti-American. As such, it becomes all too easy to claim that everything except one's own worldview is not filled with secret hatred and disgust for the USA. How convienient.

Next on the list is Michelle Malkin. Ah, the Malkin Monster. Where do we start with her? Ezra Klein probably says it best:

To visit Michelle Malkin’s cave is to see politics at its most savage, its most ferocious, its most rageful. They say they’ve spent the past week smearing a child and his family because that child was fair game — he and his family spoke of their experience receiving health care through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. For this, right wingers travel to their home to inspect its worth, they insinuate that the family is engaged in large-scale fraud to receive government benefits, they make threatening phone calls to the family.

Lovely, right? There is plenty more to hold against Michelle Malkin as well. Hold on tight, because its a nasty and sordid little trip we will be taking.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon goes one further:

On a daily basis, Michelle Malkin's hate sites promote violence, rank bigotry, jihad against Muslim Americans, imprisonment of Democratic Party leaders. The comments are not deleted and are virtually never opposed. Her hate sites traffic in content which is the hallmark of white supremacism and violent groups targeting Muslims. And once she is done promoting that, she goes on Fox News and demands that corporate sponsors cut their ties with Daily Kos due to the comments left on that site.

And it gets better (or worse):

David Neiwert does a take down of her book, Liberals Unhinged, her pathetic whining about how American liberals are out of control radicals trying to destroy the country and intimidate conservatives. As David points out:

The only people who will find this book useful are blinkered ideologues who just want more grist for their liberal-hating mills, the facts be damned. Certainly, it will be of little to use for any serious-minded person who is concerned about the state of the national dialogue -- except, perhaps, as Exhibit A regarding the source of the problem.

There is also her book on internment, accurately described throughout much of the American media as historical revisionism and little more than a screed to justify racial profiling against American Arabs, and their possible internment without trial. A full takedown, by two historians with expertise in the case of Japanese internment, can be read here.

We could go into her tedious hatred of illegal immigrants. Or how she enables the harassment of people who she disagrees with. Or her conspiracy theorism. But I simply do not have the time to document all of Malkin's insanity.

On Will Anti-Americanism End if Barack Obama becomes President, I see Robert Kagan, of the infamous Kagan family, making an appearance. Robert, like many of his relatives who, inexplicably are listened to by the American media and foreign policy establishment, was one of those pushing most strongly for the Iraq war, and has continued to support it strongly. As Greenwald points out:

No rational person would believe a word Robert Kagan says about anything. He has been spewing out one falsehood after the next for the last four years in order to blind Americans about the real state of affairs concerning the invasion which he and his comrade and writing partner, Bill Kristol, did as much as anyone else to sell to the American public.

In April, 2003, Kagan declared the war over and said we won. Since then, he has continuously claimed that things were getting better in Iraq. He is completely liberated from any obligation to tell the truth and is a highly destructive propagandist whose public record of commentary about Iraq ought to disqualify him from decent company, let alone some sort of pretense to expertise about this war.

And we should take his word on American foreign policy at face value? I think not.

David Frum gets a mention on the topic of Strategies to Combat Anti-Americanism. Frum is of course most well known as the man who helped coin the phrase Axis of Evil, but there is a lot more to him.

For example, we have his (obvious) implication that those who blame Feith and Michael Leeden for forging evidence to help the case for the Iraq war are anti-Semites. Gary Kayima also has an enlightening review of the book he co-wrote with Richard Perle:

Here are some of the authors' policy recommendations:
  • Preparing to launch a preemptive attack on North Korea, after moving our troops out of range of their artillery and missiles.
  • Taking direct action to topple the regime in Iran, by providing aid to Iranian dissidents.
  • Being prepared to invade Syria, of whom the authors write, "Really, there is only one question to ask about Syria: Why have we put up with it as long as we have?"
  • Being prepared to invade Libya. "The illusion that Muammar al-Qaddafi is 'moderating' should be treated as what it is: a symptom of the seemingly incurable wishful delusions that afflict the accommodationists in the foreign policy establishment." (Now that those accommodationists in State have been proven right, don't expect an apology from the authors: They'll claim Qaddafi got rid of his WMD programs only because Bush invaded Iraq. All other answers, no matter if they're true, don't fit with their Manichaean, evildoers-respond-only-to-force worldview. Besides, those who are always right must never apologize. It is a sign of weakness, which our evil Muslim terrorist enemies (TM) will exploit with evil terror.)
  • Taking a superconfrontational line with Saudi Arabia, including letting them know that if they don't reform we would look with favor upon a Shiite uprising in their oil-rich Eastern Province.
  • Abandoning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process altogether. In a radical departure from U.S. policy, they say the Palestinians should not be given a state. Creating a Palestinian state out of the West Bank and Gaza, they write, will not bring peace to the region, because the Palestinians and other Arabs are only interested in vengeance, not justice. Instead, the Palestinians should "let go of the past" and content themselves with becoming citizens of the Arab countries in which they now live. The authors do not say what should happen to the 3.9 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories: Presumably they should either agree to become second-class citizens like the other Israeli Arabs, or leave.

Their domestic policies are equally arresting:
  • Requiring all residents to carry a national identity card that includes "biometric data, like fingerprints or retinal scans or DNA," and empowering all law enforcement officers to enforce immigration laws. The authors admit that such a card "could be used in abusive ways," but reassure us by saying that victims of "executive branch abuse will be able to sue." Those who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear!
  • Encouraging Americans to "report suspicious activity." Apparently alone among Americans, the authors lament the demise of the TIPS program.
  • Changing immigration policy so that the U.S. can bar all would-be visitors who have "terrorist sympathies." The authors define "terrorist sympathies" so broadly that this would rule out a high percentage of visitors from Muslim or Arab countries.
  • Reforming the CIA to make it more hard-line on the Middle East.

Fascinating stuff. But should we really be taking advice from frothing militarists on how to make people hate America less?

Here is another insight into Frum's worldview, this time in his own words, quoted handily by John Holbo:

The great, overwhelming fact of a capitalist economy is risk. Everyone is at constant risk of the loss of his job, or of the destruction of his business by a competitor, or of the crash of his investment portfolio. Risk makes people circumspect. It disciplines them and teaches them self-control. Without a safety net, people won’t try to vault across the big top.

In short, capitalism is good because it keeps people in their place. It makes them easily controlled, because they are in constant fear of losing everything. It creates social order, by threatening people with losing their jobs, investments and businesses, and thus making sure they do not try and make it too big. Well I'm certainly feeling the love in that argument.

I'll deal with some of the claims actually made another day. I just wanted to point out that anyone using the above people is probably not the sort of person who wants to make a serious effort, and instead is interesting in shutting down debate with accusations of being an irrational hater.

Aug 23, 2008

Oh, this is beautiful

My favouritest Pagan website on the planet, MysticPricks, has sunk to a new low. Not content with promoting woolly thinking, historical inaccuracy, superstitious dogma, sectarian hatred and allowing cryto-racists to have the run of the site, they've now stooped to the level of pimping The Church of Scientology!

As usual, click to view a larger image.

The question is, of course, is what to do with such information? Apparently, the site owner's wife has already stated that to take it down would be to discriminate against Scientologists. You know, in the same way that arresting and incarcerating Al-Qaeda members is discriminating against Muslims. I know only a few weeks ago at least one member on the site made a detailed post listing the wrongs of the Church, so either they didn't read the post (in which case they are bad admins, but then we already knew that), or they just don't give a shit, and are more than willing to promote the Scifag cult because of the filthy lucre it brings in.

Knowing Mol's addictions, I have a good idea of which of those theories I prefer.

Aug 22, 2008

Headlines that don't make sense until after your first coffee #1

Paedophile Glitter arrives in UK

I swear I was thinking "what, glitter for paedophiles? Glitter that attracts paedophiles? Is this a new episode of Brass Eye? WHAT THE HELL IS THE BBC TALKING ABOUT?"

Which just goes to show how necessary coffee is in my life.

Aug 21, 2008

This is not the broken society you were looking for

And thus, Jedi Master Boris Johnson overturns the idea that he may be off message.

I like his style though. It reminds me of a certain fictional lawyer (whose name eludes me), whose tactic was to allege the most preposterous things, then say "withdrawn" before the Judge could punish him, knowing full well that the original statement is out there, and no amount of denial will have the impact of the initial allegation.

Good old Boris.

MI5 state obvious, media goes into shock

The Guardian has the info.

Am I terribly shocked? No. But then again, I studied terrorism using something other than Parliamentary statements and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. You know, with people who have spent their entire lives studying terrorists, mapping personalities, conducting interviews, modelling radicalization etc.

Marc Sageman in particular has been noting and publishing the trends MI5 have produced since the publication of his Understanding Terror Networks, if not before. Nothing in this report is really new from that. Religious novices? Check. Socially excluded or removed second or third generation immigrants? Check. Low incidence of mental illness? Check.

I'm surprised any of this is even considered news. Anyone who has been following the academic terrorism literature knew this stuff a long time ago. We have reports going back to the Red Brigades and UVF that rule out mental illness, or a particular personality type.

Other background details are interesting, highlighting the difference between the old Al-Qaeda (the professionals in their late 20s to 30s, who have families etc) and the new Al-Qaeda, the kids in their late teens or early 20s. The diversity of background, from sober, nearly areligious (until recently) professional family man with no criminal background, to the kid who has been caught taking drugs and possibly served a sentence for a violent crime, who cannot even read Arabic, is enormous.

And those are just two of the many profiles one could come up with. Factor in racial background, gender, educational history, geographical location etc and you quickly lose anything that resembles a useful description of a potential terrorist.

Even worse, terrorists often tailor their recruitment methods to avoid profiles. By concentrating on certain segments on the population, you just increase the evolutionary adaption of an organization. As the 7/7 bombings show, anyone who had been looking for foreign born, or all Pakistani radicals, for example, would have been caught out. And yes, you could argue the converse, that in fact some lives might have been saved, but the true mark of terrorism is targeting weak points, taking advantage of the unexpected and unconsidered. As soon as you focus on one area, and it becomes obvious (and believe me, with the internet, it will), then terrorist groups will regroup and attack from unexpected directions.

The best way, as Sageman notes, is to map the relationships between known violent radicals, facilitators of violent teachings and those who are involved in activity which is linked to terrorism. Target the smugglers (people or otherwise), the money launderers, the radical Imams with links to training camps in Pakistan or Indonesia or the Middle East. That is how you deal with Islamic terrorism.

And lets not overlook the possibility of a resurgence of rightwing, nationalist terrorism either. Its picking up in the USA, currently, and there could be international implications, when we consider how many have adapted themselves to narrative of the War on Terror, and the persistent Eurabia bullshit.

Anyway, a welcome report, and I am glad to see MI5 seem to know what they are doing.

Aug 20, 2008

Reasons to not drink coffee while reading BBC News

Tories 'best' to tackle poverty

George Osborne is set to claim that the Tories are best placed to tackle poverty and create a fair society.

I mean, seriously, are you trying to kill me here? I could have choked...

Oh dear, it looks like Boris is "off message"


Boris Johnson has described David Cameron's claim that Britain is a 'broken society' as 'piffle'.

In an intervention likely to dismay Tory HQ, the London mayor claimed our success at the Olympics proves youngsters are far from 'aimless, feckless and hopeless, addicted to their PlayStations'.

'If you believe the politicians, we have a broken society, in which the courage and morals of young people have been sapped by welfarism and political correctness,' he said.

'And if you look at what is happening at the Beijing Olympics, you can see what piffle that is.'

Oh dear. It would be terrible if this were the start of the unravelling of the Tory party message, and still 2 years from when the election is due. They'd have to come up with a whole new meme to explain why their plans for radical social reform (hang on, I thought it was the left who did the social engineering?) are so necessary.