Bigotry: Not so bad

San Francisco Appeal: SF Chronicle Columnist: Bigotry Not So Bad.

The Chron startled the Appeal today when their columnist Chip Johnson defended a bigot in Oakland. The situation is this: Lorenzo Hoopes, a Mormon, donated $26,000 in support of Prop 8, more than any individual in Oakland, a city with one of the country’s largest lesbian populations. (Really!) Hoopes faces re-appointment to the Board of Directors of the Paramount theater; but now that he’s shown himself to be an anti-gay supremacist, some community leaders are opposed to his continued presence.

After all, as we’ve seen during this week’s Prop 8 trial, discrimination against gays has real consequences — to society, to individuals, and to families.

But Chronicle writer and Oakland resident Chip Johnson is outraged! In an piece that might as well have been titled, “Aw, Give the Old Bigot a Break, He’s Probably Real Nice,” he lamented that anyone would actually dare hold Hoopes accountable for his actions.

Unlike many of our respected friends in the San Francisco news space, The San Francisco Appeal does not practice advocacy journalism. We have no dogs in fights, and do our best to report as objectively as we can without being totally boring and cheesy. However, we are, indeed “anti Prop-8 cheerleaders.” This is because we are not fucking bigots! Therefore, we called on Oakland resident Jip Chonson to provide us with a rebuttal to the Chronicle’s piece.

And then “Chonson” goes and re-writes the Chronicle‘s piece by doing a s/gay/Jew/ on it. Go ahead, feel uncomfortable. You’re supposed to.

I stole this link from jwz’s LJ. A commenter there writes, “Isn’t it interesting what happens to all of these initiatives and talking points when you take the word, “homosexual” and replace it with, “negro” or “Jew”? Why, you get the very bigotted language we used to hear back a century ago! Who’d have ever thought?”

Bigotry is bigotry. It is not an unfortunate social habit, nor is it in bad taste — it’s just wrong. This isn’t really complicated, yet the ability of a great many people to fully miss the point is sad.

Raw, unfiltered joy

The defining moment of Campaign 2008, for me: standing in the lobby of the Rio in Las Vegas, having just gotten out from Penn and Teller, watching mobs of people surge through the hallways, some of them crying, some of them laughing, some of them hugging, all of them chanting, in one voice, with the force and joy and certainty of the vindicated: “Yes we did.”

20-odd hours later, it still rings in my ears. “Yes we did.”

I could be cynical about this. I’m cynical by nature. But I can’t be cynical about this.

Some kinda wonderful

Here’s a little flashback for fans of humorous Canadian music from the early 1990s:


Often on the weekend I’ll jump in my car
I won’t fill up the tank although I’m going far
And if somebody asks me if I’m going to a bar
I’ll say I’m shopping ‘cross the border in the USA

I don’t go down there to buy my groceries
I respect our farmers and our factories
I don’t believe that “local” means it’s poor in quality
It’s just our goddamn prices are too high

If he stays away for just two days
I’ll get one hundred dollars duty-free
If it adds to more I won’t claim it for
(He won’t declare the products if they’re in his trunk)

Although it is Canada that I call home
I don’t cheer for the Yankees when I’m in the Dome
I didn’t swell with pride during the Desert Storm
It’s just that I don’t want to pay the tax
(It’s just that he’s too cheap to pay the tax)

Yes, it’s just like this, he’s a loyalist
I’ll only shop at malls that fly our flag
(And he’ll tell Bob Rae that he just won’t pay)
Unless I need my unemployment benefits

(Get a job, get a job, get a job)

Now everyone is doing the same thing as me
They’re doing what they can to beat the GST
They’re lining up for miles at the Duty-Free
So I bought a JC Penny’s store in Buffalo
(So everybody come on down to Buffalo)

(Cause if you stay away for just two days)
You’ll get one hundred dollars duty-free
Though it’s not at par it’ll still go far
And it ends up in the pockets of a country man
(It ends up in the pockets of a country man)

Oh, Canada!
–The Arrogant Worms, “The Canadian Crisis Song”

We should, as a nation, celebrate today.

Live rates at 2007.05.30 23:38:16 UTC

1.00 CAD = 0.931553 USD

I drew out $200 USD from the ATM this afternoon and was shocked to discover the exchange rate was this favorable for Canadians. Like, truly, completely shocked. I knew it was good — I don’t live in a cave, after all– but “flabbergast” might be one way to put it when confronted with the receipt in your hand. K. and I worked it out on the way home from the bank: If you live in BC and are visiting Washington this weekend, for instance, you “premium” for buying and spending US dollars is essentially $1 for every $100 you spend. The sales tax difference between here and Washington almost, but not quite, cancels out the cost of changing money. Which is still a whole heap better than paying the friggin’ prices in this province/country. (He cackled, planning on buying cheap gas, booze, and cigars while away this weekend.)

Still, as a keen student of Canadian history, I can’t help but wonder how long it’s going to take before the politicians begin once again to freak out over the high value of the Canadian dollar again, how long it will take Canadians who live in border communities to begin buying basic things across the border again, and how long it will be before someone (most likely Carol Skelton) begins to mutter darkly about cutting down on the ol’ shop n’ smuggle. Again, as though that needed saying.

I’m also eagerly awaiting the first major media complaint about the high dollar affecting our export industry — you know, because a weak dollar actually helps by allowing us to slut away our natural resources more efficiently…

Update: Whoops, too late.

    “We’re devastated by their monetary policy, their tax policy and their terrible trade negotiations,” said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, which organized the demonstration.

    While Georgetti’s words were met with cheers, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion was booed loudly when he addressed the workers, many of whom take issue with the Liberals’ opposition to anti-scab legislation.

    As protesters rallied outside, members of Parliament from all three opposition parties attacked the Conservative government in the House of Commons for not taking a more active role in saving jobs.

    “The fact is we’re losing 150 jobs in the manufacturing sector every single day,” Layton said, his voice rising as he pointed his finger at Conservatives in the House.

    “And yet we have no action on foreign takeovers, no action on the high dollar, no action on fair trade that would protect Canadian jobs … We’ve got no policy at all.”

Um. Yeah. “Protect Canadian jobs.” I guess that “lowest unemployment levels in 40 years” isn’t really protecting Canadian jobs, is it? (I’m hardly a friend of PC fiscal policy — I took a serious bath last fall on the income trust thing and am disinclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on this stuff — but let’s be real: We do not suck.)

Updating the list

I note, in the wake of Monday’s carnage, that there are a number of things the Blogosphere has magically become an expert on:

  • Wound ballistics
  • Weapon performance
  • Urban/close-quarters battle tactics
  • Unarmed self-defense against armed maniacs

Will wonders never cease? I have this image in my head of Dick Cheney having another jammer and the merits of the various treatment options suddenly becoming politicized and everyone having an opinion on whether primary PCI is better than facilitated PCI is better than a thrombolytic strategy alone, with certain blogs who shall remain unidentified talking about the economics of each and..

Oh, screw it. This makes my head hurt.

On related notes:

  1. Anyone who says that a .22 is a nothing gun

    And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren’t bad.

    — is a total idiot and knows absolutely nothing about wound ballistics. I know that the .22 LR is not anything near a sexy round, nor does it possess anything close to the ideal amount of that mythical thing called stopping power, but unless you’ve had to chase one of those projectiles around the body, you don’t get to say that “your chances aren’t bad.” A .22 that gets into the body is in there for the grand tour, unlike a 9mm that’s likely to mushroom and expand, or a rifle round that’s going to go flying through leaving a nice, clean wound track. Projectiles are projectiles — throw it fast enough and it’s dangerous. Guess what, kids? .22 is plenty dangerous. (I should hope that the fact that a .22 needs to find something important to do damage crossed with the fact that the round is in there for the grand tour is not something you would take solace in, but that’s just me.)

    I’m going to totally ignore the rest of that masturbatory post. The crack about the .22 is enough.

  2. The comments from Old Jarhead need to be tattooed on everyone’s eyelids. I like guns. I’ve owned guns. I’ve fired a lot of rounds in my life. I feel very comfortable around firearms. I do not want a concealed carry permit and I do not want a firearm for defensive purposes in my house because of this fundamental truth: I am not 100% convinced I could drop the hammer. That makes me a liability, not an asset, when it comes to dealing with armed maniacs. It’s not manly of me, but it is who I am, and I’m not willing to lie to myself to say otherwise. What’s the point? We all want to be Rambo; almost none of us are. There’s no shame in this.
  3. I think the whole gun issue would be a lot saner and less idiotic if the people who were seriously trying to argue one position or the other had been to the Lethal Force Institute, or at least read about Massad Ayoob. Chris Wright wrote a fantastic article about LFI and Ayoob for the Boston Phoenix a few years back, and some of Ayoob’s ideas about guns and self defense seem far too rational to come from this world:

    The 51-year-old Ayoob is something of a celebrity in the gun community. In 1980, he published In the Gravest Extreme, a book that quickly came to be known as the definitive study on the tactical, legal, and ethical issues surrounding the use of lethal force by civilians. Twenty years after its publication, the book has sold about 300,000 copies.

    In all, Ayoob has written a dozen books — The Truth About Self-Protection, Stressfire, Hit the White Part — plus countless articles for gun periodicals. He has been an expert witness in about 70 criminal trials. He has taught in Switzerland and South America, England and Africa. He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the National Enquirer. He has appeared on Frontline, 20/20, and the Today show.

    “He’s a celebrity among thinking gun owners,” says Miami criminal-defense lawyer Jeffrey Weiner, former president of the National Association of Criminal Lawyers and an LFI grad. “He’s not a celebrity among macho types.” …

    Following another burst of laughter, Ayoob’s deadly serious again. “There are no first-place winners in a shooting situation,” he warns us. “When it’s over, believe me, you haven’t won. Deterrence is the only victory.”

    In many ways, LFI isn’t a class in killing people. It’s a class in not killing them. Ayoob finds himself in the curious position of believing the best way to prevent gun violence is to teach people how to commit it. His entire lethal-force philosophy hinges on a single principle: the more prepared you are to kill an assailant, the less likely you are to have to.

    This may sound a bit nutty at first, but perhaps the only way to get to the heart of a matter as complex as gun ownership is through paradox. In an issue that many people view in black-and-white terms, Ayoob’s pacifism-through-violence philosophy has made him as many enemies as it has friends.

    “I’ve found myself caught in the middle of a very polarized debate,” he says. “On one side I’ve got the hard-core anti-gunners. To them I’m a crypto-fascist because I tell women that if a rapist attacks you, killing the son of a bitch is absolutely one of your options — legally and morally. On the other side there’s the hard-core right-wing ultra-gunnies, who consider me a crypto-commie because I tell them, ‘No, as a matter of fact, you don’t have a God-given right to carry a loaded gun in shopping malls where there are kids walking around. It’s a privilege, and you need to be able show society that you know how to use it and when to use it. That you’re not going to shoot at a perpetrator and hit a kid by mistake.’ I think that’s a reasonable request.

    “In the history of polarized debates,” he adds, “anybody in the middle find himself in a very lonely place.” …

    “Civilians chasing criminals are like dogs chasing cars: they have no idea what to do with them when they catch them.” That is: if they run, let them go. If it’s a robbery, give them the money. If you’re armed and someone comes up and spits in your face, walk away. If you hear a noise in your house, hide yourself in a safe room and call the police — never go looking for intruders.

    When in doubt, don’t shoot.

    “I can’t believe I spent $600 for that ugly little Ay-rab to tell me I can’t shoot anyone,” says Ayoob.

    It’s weird and it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and yet it makes all kinds of sense. Help me out here.

The War for Terra

There has got to be something wrong with me.

For the past year or so, I’ve been finding that I’ve been paying a lot more attention to stories about climate change — and then trying to act on the ideas in them. I bought a much more fuel efficient car, for instance. I don’t drive nearly as much as I used to. I turn down the heat (not that this matters much, since I have electric heating, and electricity in BC is essentially carbon-neutral). Elizabeth Kolbert’s magnificent reporting for the New Yorker has been a powerful tool for influencing me, but I think the real credit belongs to Terri Schiavo.

L’affaire Schiavo demonstrated many things, among them the depths of depravity some politicians will sink, but the one that really stuck in my craw was the absolute certainty of people who have no idea what they’re talking about. It was galling — truly, madly, infuriatingly galling — to watch non-physicians, non-neurologists, and people who’d never once cared for a PVS patient (or anyone else that was comatose, for that matter) explain how Terri was clearly not brain dead, and how she could wake up under some circumstances. I think this exchange captures it quite nicely; I’m not going to re-hash it again, because it will just make me very very sad.

You saw a lot of this with the Schiavo case, but you see it everywhere else science comes into conflict with articles of faith: Parents who think thiomersal (or the MMR vaccine, or anything else) gave their kids autism will never, ever listen to the evidence that said it doesn’t cause problems; anti-vaccination activists will kick and scream and cry bloody murder before they ever admit that maybe vaccines are useful. Creationists will shout to the heavens that something created the universe and that evolutionary biology is bunk, despite not knowing the first thing about evolutionary biology. It goes on and on and on, and every single time, I end up siding with the people who have the data to support their position, and not just random accusations of conspiracies. Laypeople (a polite word, really, for “idiots”) arguing with experts over expert subject matter makes me want to tear my hair out; we’ve reached a point where the fact that you know a lot about something no longer grants you special status in discussions about that thing; you are now subject to argument from people whose knowledge may range from zero to near-parity, and you are expected to take them all seriously. (See my comment in the above-linked Schiavo journalism story about Buzz Aldrin arguing with moon-landing skeptics.)

Which brings us to climate change.

For many years, I was in deep denial about climate change. I didn’t think it was real, didn’t find the evidence persuasive. I argued that it was too early to suggest that human behavior was causing all these weird things. I pointed at solar output variation, at the fear of global cooling as recently as 30 years ago (the causes of and cures for which were essentially the same as today’s proposed causes and solutions), at the dramatic effects Earth itself has on its own atmosphere. Part of this was a reaction to the hippies that dominated the environmental movement in the later 1980s and early 1990s, but part of it was my own healthy skepticism of certainty — or so I told myself.

And then, one day, about a year and a half ago, I found myself staring at a joint position statement from the national academies and societies of the G8 that explicitly endorsed the idea that anthropogenic climate change was occurring, and that we needed to do something about it. I started to argue in my head, and then I stopped. “Wait a minute. I am arguing with the Royal Society of Canada, among others. These are supposed to be the best and brightest scientific minds of our era. They know more about this subject than I do. Who the hell am I to argue with them?” Just as I would be annoyed with a climatologist who decided he knew what the best management strategy is for STEMI patients, I was getting annoyed with myself for arguing in opposition to people who, quite simply, know more than I do. There is, in other words, such a thing as expert opinion. It has spoken, and who am I to argue with it? I don’t have standing to argue.

With that realization I turned 180 degrees and started worrying about it. And today I took another small step: I bought myself and my 5.1L/100km Acura a TerraPass, I bought enough credits to cover all the flying I’ve done in the last twelve months, and I’ve vowed that I’m going to make sure I buy credits to offset the future air travel I do. (I’d buy one for the house but virtually all of the heating is electric and, as I said, electricity in BC is almost entirely hydro-generated, so it’s not making the climate problem worse.) I’m not fooling myself: This by itself is not going to save the planet.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

And for me, personally, it’s a kind of penance.

You people!

From the “Some People Will Complain About Absolutely Everything” file… CBC: BC school yoga classes slammed:

A school program to fight childhood obesity that includes yoga is drawing complaints from some Christian parents in the Quesnel area in B.C.’s Cariboo region.

They say yoga is a religion, and shouldn’t be taught in public schools.

Chelsea Brears, who has two children in the school system, said her son was asked to do different poses and “to put his hands together.”

Brears, a Christian, said she doesn’t want her children exposed to another religion during class time.

“It’s not fair to take prayer out, and yet they’re allowing yoga, which is religion, in our schools.”

Local rancher Audrey Cummings doesn’t believe Christian children should be doing yoga at all.

“There’s God and there’s the devil, and the devil’s not a gentleman. If you give him any kind of an opening, he will take that.”

The two women have complained to the education minister and the Quesnel school board.

But school board chair Caroline Neilsen said the yoga is being taught as a stretching exercise, not as a spiritual practice.

Neilsen also noted that children who don’t want to practise yoga can do different exercises or leave the classroom.

In other news: Hey! There’s 4 cm of snow on the ground!

Roots

From a comment over at this blagh here:

Seriously, I hear Libertarians talk all the time about how they’re socially liberal (so to speak), but it never seems to matter come vote time. In that way, I see no chance of a large “bloc” of Libertarians doing anything that moves the Republican party towards what they claims it the Libertarian agenda. If Libertarians truly had an intellectually consistent bone in their bodies, they’d have stopped voting Republican years ago.

Here’s the thing about libertarians and this US electoral cycle. I know I promised I was going to stop talking about politics (“stop talking about politics! more sad plane videos!”), but I can’t help myself here.

Libertarians are going to have to make a very painful choice here. Specifically, they’re going to have to decide whether or not they want to be rich, or whether they want to be free. If they want to be rich they can keep voting Republican and shut the fuck up about lost civil liberties. Or they can embrace the idea that maybe, just maybe the documents they claim to venerate, and the principles of limited government they claim to hold dear, are worth something — and that you can actually measure that amount in terms of real dollars. If you assume a Democratic Congress is going to cost you more money, and yet might give you some of those personal and social freedoms you hold so dear, you get to decide whether you’d rather have the extra cash or the extra freedom.

The choice is only painful if you’re an idiot. The idea that everything comes down to economics, or that happiness can be expressed solely in terms of money is as brainless when it comes from a libertarian as it does when it comes from a Marxist. I don’t have a lot of patience for people who stamp their feet and argue that, while the Republicans are bad, the Democrats must surely be worse — who the hell are you kidding with that kind of logic? Why, ’cause they’ll undo the tax cuts? Gimme a break. Freedom-fans who argue that the tax cut was more important than, I dunno, the war on drugs, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, fucking habeas corpus… I’m sorry, you’re big on freedom why, precisely?

Jim Henley (who, along with Glenn Greenwald, should start a blahg called “For Good or For Awesome”), wrote way back when:

You don’t like it, my neo friends, and that’s to your credit, but in your small way you helped to bring it about. You did this by imagining that the likes of Robert Fisk were a bigger danger to you than John Poindexter. You did it by imagining that somehow the part you liked about the Bush administration – war on your target of choice – was separate and distinct from the part you didn’t like – HSD, IAO, the brute-force linkage of the War on Drugs to the War on Terror, USA-PATRIOT. You put more energy into refuting “idiotarian” claims that our liberties had already been taken away than into fighting the people who were, right out in front of god and everybody, working to take them away in earnest. You imagined that war and repression somehow don’t go together, even that war could function to inoculate against repression. You forgot or never saw a very important adage of Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s:

    Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.

If you imagine yourselves as part of some coalition, ask yourself what you’re getting for your trouble. You lost HSD. You lost USA-PATRIOT. You get IAO. An independent 9/11 commission? Gone. A lot of you favor liberal rules on therapeutic cloning. Think you’ll get that from this Congress? Is there anything whatsoever that neolibertarians favor that the rest of the Republican coalition does not where you have gotten or expect to get your way? Any case where the Administration said “We’ve got to give the libertarians this?” Or where you can imagine them saying it? Remember, the war doesn’t count. The neocons want it and the Christian Coalition wants it. They matter. Ditto for the tax cut. I’m talking about something that neolibertarians hold dear that neocons and/or the Christian Right oppose, where the will of the neolibertarians prevails.

I’m here every day. You can get back to me.

A proposition: Neolibertarians are to the Republican Party what African-Americans are to the Democratic Party – taken for granted because they have nowhere else to go.

We really weren’t kidding, guys. War is the health of the state. It’s time to stop imagining that this government will give you a generation-long war and occupation of however many countries without piling up the internal security measures, time to stop pretending that you have a box over here marked Good! that contains Don and Condi and a box over here marked Bad! that contains Ashcroft and Ridge and Mineta and that you get to pick one and not the other.

That needs to be tattooed on peoples’ necks. I realize it’s a long block of text to tattoo. I’m OK with that. Anybody who doesn’t like they pain they’ll suffer in the experience can complain about the torture they, indirectly, helped to bring about.

I hung my head

If this doesn’t sum up too much of the last five years, I don’t know what else will:

This mindless, authoritarian belief in Presidential Infallibility repeats itself in almost every debate we are having. Those who favor greater protections for accused terrorists for military commissions are labelled by Bush followers as advocating for “terrorist rights” even though the whole point is that we can’t know they are terrorists until we give them a fair trial. But to Bush followers, the Leader’s decision to detain them and accuse them is all we need to know. We can place blind faith in the Leader’s judgment. Thus, to be accused by the Bush administration of terrorism is the same as being a Terrorist. Those detained at Guantanamo, or by the U.S. military, or anyone accused by the President of being an “enemy combatant,” is guilty for that reason alone. And thus anyone who advocates rights for those so accused is, by definition, advocating rights for Terrorists.

The same irrational, zombified mental process dominates the debate over warrantless eavesdropping. According to the administration, it is only eavesdropping on individuals whom it suspects are involved in some way with Terrorists. But to the administration and its followers, to be suspected of terrorism by the administration is to be a Terrorist. Hence, they will say that the Bush administration is only eavesdropping on terrorists because they recognize no distinction between being accused by the administration of terrorism and being a Terrorist. Thus, anyone opposed to warrantless eavesdropping is, to them, opposed to eavesdropping on Terrorists (rather than objecting to the administration’s ability to eavesdrop without first demonstrating that there is reason to believe they are a terrorist).

(On a totally unrelated note, I love Glenn Greenwald and want to have his babies. I think if Glenn Greenwald and Jim Henley started a group blog, they should call it “For Good or For Awesome” because it would either be good, or it would be awesome, or it would be good and awesome, and either way it would kick so much serious ass that it would probably implode upon itself revealing only a pure, dense core of amazing awesome which would probably blast away the outer shell of the blogging universe, which would be ultra-amazing awesome. Ahem.)

Glenn’s right. It is irrational. But can that many people really be crazy? Or is it just that a crazy minority of people have a really loud megaphone? Or is it that a crazy minority of people control all the branches of government in the United States so it doesn’t really mater what the non-crazy majority think? I dunno. But that doesn’t explain why the citizens are so happy to let their government do bad things. So let’s consider the rational reasons:

  1. They genuinely trust the feds. When the government says, “This is a bad person,” they really believe there’s a bad person on the receiving end of the stern look. You have to be very naive to trust the government this completely; you have to not know anyone who has ever been falsely accused of anything, fallen victim to overaggressive cops, or been jacked around by The System. It seems that in order to believe this, your interaction with the government has to be limited to filing a tax return once a year, and it’s imperative that you’re white, middle class, and don’t do anything that attracts undue government attention. Eventually most people grow out of this phase, usually by 25 or so (the first tax audit seems to do it, or the first time you’re asked for ID by a cop for no good reason).
  2. They don’t trust the feds, but they’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this issue. I think most of us inherently suspicious types were in this camp immediately after 9/11, and most of us hopped out once it became painfully apparent (almost as immediately) that the feds were no better at solving this particular problem than they were at solving, say, the drug problem. In order to be in this camp you don’t have to be quite as naive as people in the first camp, but you do need to avoid asking yourself the question, “If the government can’t deliver the fucking mail, what hope in hell do they have of successfully saving my ass from a terrorist attack?”
  3. They’re so scared that they’re willing to pay any price to not be scared. This is the first of the bad camps, exactly the people Franklin warned about in the apocryphal quote everyone’s waving around these days. 9/11 unhinged the yuppies in such a serious way that they lost control of their critical faculties and need to be slapped silly until they settle down. Exhibit A in this instance is James Lileks, who went faaaaar off the deep end after 9/11 even though the odds of his being killed, specifically, are roughly as good as his being crushed by an asteroid. But there are an awful lot of yuppies out there who are shit-scared of this thing, though weirdly they tend to live in places not actually likely to be attacked by terrorists. I note that New Yorkers, as a general rule, are not running to embrace George or his policies, and, lest we forget, they were the ones getting killed on 9/11, not some doofus in Omaha.
  4. They genuinely like dictatorship. This is the scary option. Sara Robinson has written a series of excellent essays about fundamentalist, authoritarian personality types (start here and keep reading; Kung Fu Monkey sums the series up) and though I don’t agree with her completely, there’s a lot to think about in there, and although she’s not speaking specifically to this point I feel it generalizes nicely. There’s always going to be some segment of the population who believe that it’s OK to be brutal and evil to people sufficiently unlike them, and we’re probably not ever going to be able to get away from that. Woe betide those who find themselves on the other side of the fence; it’s exactly like the Christians arguing in favor of the protection of marriage and the establishment of a state religion — what, precisely, makes you think you’re going to be the ones in control for ever?

The problem, unfortunately, is that at the end of the day the delusions — whatever their source — are ultimately self-reinforcing. If there’s no terrorist attack, that proves that whatever Bush is doing works, so we need more of it. If there is another terrorist attack, well, Bush got his hands tied by the Democrats, so we need more of what he was going to do. So either way, we need more. You would think that this bit of logic would tend to nudge people out of one of their delusional camps — two opposite statements lead to the same conclusion? wtf?! — but logic is apparently not most people’s strong suit. If you’re convinced that you’re going to die when Osama sneaks into your bedroom tomorrow night, and that only Bush can save you.. well, there’s a whole host of false premises there and nothing I can do is going to change your mind. We could do ourselves a big favor by lowering the rhetoric over terrorism and stapling James Fallows’ article from the September Atlantic on people’s foreheads, though given the bloodlust in some people with loud megaphones I doubt it would do much good.

Part of me thinks we should just concede defeat on this issue and move on, but then I realize the outcome is going to be so much worse that it probably isn’t worth thinking about. I fear for the United States and I fear for my world. I don’t think George Bush is going to get us all killed (the same way I thought Reagan was going to get us all killed), but I do think he’s doing an excellent job of fucking the shit up and making things about a thousand times worse than they need to be, which is not exactly an original thought but this is my LJ so shut up.

Frink and I have talked about Outer Context Problems, where your frame of reference is so dramatically different that we can’t hope to bridge the gap and have a meaningful conversation. This feels like one of those OCPs — either you believe that we’re all gonna die, or you have your doubts; if you fall into the former camp, nothing someone from the latter camp can do will change your mind. Unfortunately the conditions for leaving the former are very poorly defined indeed, and so I conclude that we’re going to be stuck with this for a long time to come.

And that’s your depressing thought for the morning.