Radley Balko: A Few Questions for Barack Obama

I enjoy Radley Balko's articles in Reason about threats to civil liberties. Today in his FOXNews.com column, Balko presents a list of 11 questions he'd like to ask Barack Obama.

Here are three of those questions:

-- You continue to support ethanol subsidies despite the fact that corn-based ethanol is inefficient, environmentally unfriendly, and part of the cause of rising food prices. Even liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls ethanol "[b]ad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet." Perhaps your support stems from you representing a corn producing state. But is supporting a wasteful policy to win votes "change we can believe in," or is it a good sign that you're just another politician?

-- In your autobiography, you admit to using marijuana and cocaine in high school and college. Yet you largely support the federal drug war -- a change from several years ago when you said you'd be open to decriminalizing marijuana. Would Barack Obama be where he is today if he had been arrested in college for using drugs? Doesn't the fact that you and our current president (who has all but admitted to prior drug use) have risen to such high stature suggest that the worst thing about illicit drugs is not the drugs themselves, but what the government will do to you if you're caught?

-- In a speech to Cuban-Americans in Miami, you called the Cuban trade embargo "an important inducement for change," a 180-degree shift from your prior position. The trade embargo has been in place for 46 years. Did denying an entire generation of Cubans access to American goods, culture, and ideas induce any actual change? Wasn't the real effect just to keep Cubans poor and isolated? In communist countries like Vietnam and China, trade with the U.S. has ushered in economic reform, and vastly improved the standard of living. Why wouldn't it be the same if we were to start trading with Cuba?

A Few Questions for Barack Obama (FoxNews.com)

101

  1. I support Obama, but I’d like to ask these questions too. Well-written, well-thought out; sometimes, Fox delivers.

  2. Mostly great questions.

    I’m not sure that I support the Cuban Embargo (a change from my old position of supporting it), but I think that saying that the embargo has “kept Cubans poor and isolated” is nonsense.

    Cuba can trade freely with 194 of the 195 states on the planet.

    The reasons that Cubans are poor and isolated is that they live in a totalitarian state that arrests people for reading certain books, arrests people for writing certain letters, arrests people for starting businesses, arrests people who try to leave the country without permission from the government, arrests people who’s relatives say bad things about the government, etc., etc., etc.

  3. I’m a little confused why those questions are aimed at Obama, rather than politicians and Washington in general. For example, didn’t Bush have drug problems? Didn’t the FOX News ignore exactly these types of questions when Bush was running? Oh, right – this is FOX News isn’t it?

  4. I don’t appreciate this post, because it puts me in the odd position of agreeing with something that appeared on FoxNews.com..

  5. This isn’t a Wonderful Thing — the tone of these questions is really insulting. Even if this Fox guy means well (hard to believe, but even if), copping an attitude isn’t the best way to get anything but boilerplate responses to questions. And where are the questions for McCain? Fair point about drug laws, though.

  6. TJIC @2: that’s valid.

    BC2 @3: while no fan of Fox News, please not that Balko did indeed address the current president’s illegal drug use.

  7. The way things work, Obama will HAVE to lie and cheat his way IN. All you can do is pray he will be better than the others AFTER he gets in.

  8. Silkox @6: “And where are the questions for McCain?”

    I’m not even interested in how McCain would answer these questions. I lost all respect for him when he started courting the fundamentalist right wing.

  9. Some questions for John McCain:

    1. You’ve repeatedly said that this election is about judgment. What does your support for the invasion of Iraq say about your judgment?

    2. You promised that you would run a clean campaign. Your latest ads accuse Obama of only visiting troops when the cameras are running. Isn’t it, in fact, true that Obama visited the troops in Iraq and at Walter Reed when the cameras were off? How does lying about Obama constitue a clean campaign?

    3. What is your position on the adoption of orphans by gay parents? Why does it keep changing?

    4. You claim to be a foreign policy expert. Why don’t you know: (a) the difference between Sunni and Shiite, (b) that there is no such country as Czechoslovakia, and (c) that there is no such thing as the “Iraq-Pakistani” border?

  10. Wow, something intelligent from Fox News. This may be a first?

    I think that corn subsidies question should be asked to ALL candidates , for ALL federal offices. It is simply insane that we’re wasting grains on ethanol.

  11. Questions to those who would be president should be tough, cutting and direct. I don’t think any of them are insulting, unless you consider being taken to task for questionable behavior to be an insult. Journalists should -all- be asking these, and tougher questions of -all- our elected (and appointed) officials. All the time. And we should not put up with not getting answers.

    Oh, and to answer in part question number 1 – of course he’s just another politician, he just happens to be very good at it. You don’t get to that level of national politics unless you can lie through your teeth and are clever enough to make it look like you didn’t. People don’t become major party candidates for President without being connsumate bullshitters, nor without a certain snake-like flexibility of priniciple – the system is just too tight and twisty to allow it. The choice is -always- the lesser of two evils, because politics filters out anyone who isn’t evil down at the city or state level. Those who lionized Obama are already learning these hard lessons.

    Personally, I’d like to ask him if he intends to reverse -any- of the erosion of civil rights that has taken place over the last decade or two – not because I think he will (after all, his job as Politician it to obtain and accumulate power, and every right we don’t have is more power that he does) but because I would enjoy having the soundbite where he promises to fix everything playing on the Daily Show when he does something that erodes them further in a year or so.

    Oh, sorry, did that come off as cynical? I’m sure all work out fine, really.

  12. once i found out that obama was a card carrying member of the CFR, i kinda lost all hope. i suppose he is the lesser of two evils, and our country always seems to do better when we have a younger more vibrant leader ( ever read ‘the wasteland?), but, basically his policies will be tainted with that edge.

  13. #3: Err, because Obama is running for POTUS? “Politicians in general” aren’t running for President.

  14. Obama is just another politician. That makes him 1000 times better than the Mafia crime family in charge now (no, that’s not hyperbole).

    If Obama is elected he will need to be pushed for those things people want. He’s just an employee, not your daddy. Further, in order to get most of the things that progressive liberals want he will need a filibuster proof majority because the GOP is going to fight tooth and nail every inch of the way.

    Fuck Kumbaya, go for the jugular.

  15. Please note that while Radley Balko does occasionally write pieces for FoxNews.com, he is primarily a senior editor for the libertarian magazine, Reason, concentrating on civil liberties issues that ought to find wide appeal on BoingBoing. He has a great blog, TheAgitator.com, and he is perhaps the premier muckracking journalist on the issues of the militarization of police forces (and police overreach in general). If you care about freedom in the United States, you should check out his work on Cory Maye. It is not an exaggeration to say that Balko’s heroic pieces on Maye saved a man from death row.

  16. Agreed with #12 that questions to presidential candidates shouldn’t be sugar-coated. It isn’t rude to call someone out on questionable behavior, nor is it rude to ask for clarification.

    He’s asking about political stance, future policy, what appears to be wishy-washy behavior, etc., not what Michelle’s like in the bedroom.

  17. While I think Obama is wrong on ethanol, it’s bogus to refer to “even liberal Paul Krugman”. Krugman was a strong Clinton supporter and never misses an opportunity to take shots at Obama, whether deserved or not.

    Also, while I wish Obama would dump the embargo completely, at least he promised to get rid of Bush’s restrictions on travel by family members to Cuba.

    Obama’s basically middle-of-the-road, not a liberal champion by any means. The main argument for him is the horror that is John McCain.

  18. CFR=Council on Foreign Relations.

    And to those who have cognitive dissonance caused by agreeing with something on Foxnews.com, shame on you. Stop acting like closed minded douches that demonize the ‘opposing side’.

  19. For those of you who don’t know Balko, his blog might be worth a look. He writes from a left-libertarian perspective and has done some impressive work analyzing the militarization of American police departments and arguing against paramilitary tactics in drug raids.

  20. @ Joe, 22

    Not even close to middle-of-the-road… just pandering to the middle. At least until after the election.

  21. Of course questions for politicians, especially a candidate for POTUS should be direct and hard-hitting.

    But failing to resist snarky comments (“Perhaps your support stems from you representing a corn producing state.” “Even…Paul Krugman….”) suggests the questioner is interested in showing up the questionee, rather than in getting a real answer. That’s all I meant.

    Interest in real answers aside, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that snarky=rude, especially when talking to someone (even McCain) running for POTUS. The current President may not deserve respect, but the office still does.

  22. So yeah, Radley Balko is the libertarian guy who probably is coming from a “I want to defend civil liberties” standpoint. But I think it’s pretty obvious that the reason Fox “News” picked this up is because of its challenging overtones that cast Obama as that conservative republican buzz-word: a “flip-flopper”.

    “Once you said this… now you say THIS. What’s wrong with you?” The overall feeling is that Balcko has somehow “caught” Obama in some misstep, etc.

    I agree with #28, that Obama shouldn’t be beyond hardhitting and tough questions, but conservative propaganda on Fox news isn’t where it should come from, no matter WHO wrote it.

  23. @ #11 – question #5 for McCain:

    How is inviting a group of establishment campaign journalists over to your ranch estate for a BBQ “social event” even remotely appropriate?

  24. #3 posted by BC2:
    I’m a little confused why those questions are aimed at Obama, rather than politicians and Washington in general.

    #15 posted by trr:
    #3: Err, because Obama is running for POTUS? “Politicians in general” aren’t running for President.

    Oh right – they’re *running for office* and not running for president, and therefore, exempt from questions. (In other words: how is your response a rebuttal at all to what I said?)

  25. Adoption of orphans by gay “parents” is a states rights issue, not federal.

    So was slavery. Your argument is specious.

  26. Adoption of orphans by gay “parents” is a states rights issue, not federal.

    I take offense to your mocking quotations. Is there a need to be quite so rude?

  27. It’s a statement of fact though isn’t it?

    one of the candidates thinks we have more than 57 states

    He made a mental error in a grueling schedule. There are something like 57 caucuses he has had to go through.

  28. Please excuse a foreigner’s ignorance but what is the significance of the council on foreign relations, what kind of positions do they support? Their wikipedia page seems more interested in their inner workings than the result

  29. Anyone else notice how soft his questions for McCain were? “What do you think about this concept? This one?”

    Versus how all of his q’s on Obama are straight-up gotcha stuff. And a lot of it is BS gotcha. For example, as a grad student who’s gone very, very deep in the empirical economics education literature, the statement

    “you said you might support vouchers and charter schools if empirical data showed that they improve education (it does).”

    is such a pack of lies that it might have well been

    “you said you would think about stronger moves against Iran if strong evidence had emerged that Ahmadinejad drinks the blood of baby Christians (it has).”

    It’s a hit piece masquerading as objective discourse, plain and simple. And that, @25 above, is why perfectly normal people are immediately suspicious of anything that comes from Fox News.

  30. Yes, the War on Drugs is a big mess and needs a major overhaul before we see a crisis (see: Mexican drug wars in border cities; see also: current drug possession laws).

    Yes, farm subsidies are grossly outdated (the Dust Bowl is OVER), unfair to the global food market, and ALWAYS rife with pork projects.

    Yes, the Cuban embargo has to go.

    Yes, Obama is a career politician meaning he has to take centrist positions despite his inane “Change” rhetoric. Yes, the system is designed this way and, yes, its f*cked.

    Yes, he still has my vote.

  31. Yeah, but will they ask McCain these “thorough” questions? Why not be fair and balanced and have them in the same article?

  32. You really shouldn’t tell your girl friend she’s fat. There’s zero chance that she doesn’t already know it, and she knows that you know it, so it is assumed that the only reason why you would bring it up is to hurt her feelings. If you risk it, you may as well break up with her because irreparable damage will be caused to the relationship. In this case, just as with politics, you are not at liberty to speak a simple truth given the volatile context in which it exists.

    Unfortunately, owing to bent American attitudes which might be said to represent the deepest hypocrisy imaginable, politicians are not at liberty to speak the truth to the American people.

    Because of the way politics is set up in the U.S., the majority can be held hostage to a minority view. Those in power only pay lip service to Democracy and democratic ideals. How else could you explain the fact that there is overwhelming public disapproval of the drug laws in the U.S.? Sensible policy is tantamount to political suicide.

    It’s not that Obama is two faced. It is, rather, that he has to become elected first. If you espouse sense on most of the major issues that everyday people deal with in America, you would never get elected.

  33. ‘C.F.R.’ is the council of foreign relations, a washington ‘think-tank’ run mostly by the rockefeller family, david rockefeller in particular. CFR members include the likes of rummy, zabignew breszinsky, kissinger, among many others. he (obama) will be following the advise of these folk, and five ‘ll get ya twenny that his pick for v.p. will be a member as well.

  34. Helen Thomas is who we need. She is still one of the few true journalist. She doesn’t even pull punches with the current president, that’s why she lost her front row seat at the White House press corps.

    All valid questions.

    He still doesn’t have my vote, and neither do any of these other idiots.

    Don’t vote for a “lesser evil” or the “better of what is available”.

    Hell, vote for a higher evil if you’re going to do that, may as well go Cthulhu. I mean hell, he couldn’t screw us much worse than the regular politicians do.

  35. The drug question is just stupid. He uses anecdotal evidence about Obama and Bush to imply that the worst thing about drugs is how the govt treats you if you get caught using them.

    He is ignoring the huge societal costs of addiction, including deaths, crime, health care, unemployment, families destroyed, etc.

  36. vote for a higher evil if you’re going to do that, may as well go Cthulhu. I mean hell, he couldn’t screw us much worse than the regular politicians do.

    Actually, I think he could.

  37. NOEN: What, you think tentacles make sex *worse*?

    @52 – That’s a whole can of worms. We could comment the night away with the back and forth weighing of the issue. The US handles drugs on the whole in a poor manner. Addiction management, recovery, education, these things may as well not exist at all in the US. It’s cliche to use the alcohol comparison, so why not something else? How about over the counter drugs that are comparable to illegal ones? No, not the ephedra based ones. How about caffeine… No-Doz/Jet-Allert. (From Wikipedia:)”Some may use caffeine pills for recreational purposes, typically to the point of caffeine intoxication (which normally requires 400mg+). It is either crushed up and insufflated or taken orally. The effects can be similar to illegal stimulants, but with practically no euphoria.” Now there’s also debate about these new “replacement” drugs. Salvia. It’s sold, fully legal, in shops all across the US. I’ve spoken with users of it who say it beats the hell out of marijuana and is very similar in effect to psilocybin. Where is the logic in that? So you can legally buy and use a noted psychoactive compound, but not marijuana? Which one sounds more dangerous to you?

    As per your “deaths” and “families destroyed”, I will in fact refer you back to alcohol and the DWI accident numbers.

  38. ‘C.F.R.’ is the council of foreign relations, a washington ‘think-tank’ run mostly by the rockefeller family, david rockefeller in particular. CFR members include the likes of rummy, zabignew breszinsky, kissinger, among many others. he (obama) will be following the advise of these folk, and five ‘ll get ya twenny that his pick for v.p. will be a member as well.

    Right wing groups like the John Birch Society *hate* the CFR. It’s not a right wing think tank like some here seem to suggest. Read some issues of Foreign Affairs. It’s pretty balanced.

  39. A man is either himself, or he’s hiding behind a mask, and you have no idea what he is.

    How many skins does a snake have to shed before you get to the real snake?

    @#9:
    “The way things work, Obama will HAVE to lie and cheat his way IN. ”

    So long as we accept that. That’s how we got the cowboy asshole we’ve suffered 8 years with.

  40. BoingBoing, meet shark. Jump.

    I came here this early AM thinking to myself (not exactly, but along the lines of) “Perhaps there will be something redeeming tonight on Boing Boing that will rejuvenate my excitement for this blog.”

    And I find a post in support of gotcha-style journalism presented as a series of strawman arguments wrapped in thinly veneered ad-hominem attacks on a news site that I have no interest in supporting.

    Hrm.

  41. some of these seem a little unfair. along the lines of ‘your favourite colour is red, do you believe that people who don’t like red are filthy degenerates?’

  42. #25 posted by kgb:

    to those who have cognitive dissonance caused by agreeing with something on Foxnews.com, shame on you. Stop acting like closed minded douches that demonize the ‘opposing side’.

    Yeah, it’s not like Fox has any massive credibility issues or anything…

    &#9658 No douchery to see here

    kgb, just stay comfy in your dreamworld… the rest of us will handle the challenges of dealing with reality.

  43. I’m not a US Citizen, and I sorta wish I was – the next guy has to really do something. It’s frustrating siting back and watching.

    The right to vote is… one that shouldn’t be dismissed. I live in Australia and it’s compulsory , so that’s shaped my attitudes towards it a lot. But I think everyone should vote, crazy not to when so much is at stake. Even if it is settling for the lesser of two evils.

    #2 TJIC: You say:
    that arrests people for reading certain books, arrests people for writing certain letters, arrests people for starting businesses, arrests people who try to leave the country without permission from the government, arrests people who’s relatives say bad things about the government,

    Could you say all those things about China? I reckon you could. Include heavy censorship and torture while we’re there.

    But the Chinese are being held up to more and more scrutiny because of trade and economic ties to so many democracies, but only to a certain extent now that we’re so utterly reliant on them.

  44. Thanks but I won’t be visiting FOXNEWS.COM and you shouldn’t be linking to it.

    Really, are you that naive? Your enemy is your enemy, 100% of the time. This is why liberals always lose.

  45. I elaborate:

    Fox thrives on the undying arrogance of liberals. You scoff at Fox and call them a bunch of idiots, and that’s exactly what the masterminds behind the scenes want you to think. Arrogance leads to overconfidence. Well WAKE UP! Every single thing Fox does is calculated. This story is calculated to raise talking points among Obama’s supporters, to bring doubt to people on the fence, and to make conservatives hate him more.

    Take this nugget: “you called the Cuban trade embargo “an important inducement for change,” a 180-degree shift from your prior position.”

    In fact, Obama has not shifted position, and still supports changing policy in Cuba. This is a tiny sound bite taken out of context. But in this finely crafted form, you link to it and help spread the propaganda. Liberals will hate the new position, conservatives will hate the old position and the flip flopping, and undecideds will see him as a flip-flopper.

    This finely crafted article is smart, raises seemingly valid points, and is full of propaganda. Remove the link to it and label it as propaganda. Do not accept every trojan horse you receive from your enemy.

  46. The current realistic choices are Obama and McCain. And given those two choices, I’ll go with Obama.

    As far as the “questions” go, I’m less interested in what the candidates say and more interested in what they do, and comparing the actions of the two candidates over the years, Obama is the far better candidate imo. Not ideal, but far far better.

  47. Rgs:

    HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Tl.

  48. @65 Santa’s Knee:

    Regis:

    HaHaHaHaHaHa….!!!!!!!!!!

    Tool.

    So glad you could contribute to the discussion.

    Let us know when your book comes out.

    See?! I can contribute less, too!

  49. Am I the only one who thinks the article is a bit naive, being that it was apparently written in the expectation of a politician giving a straight answer if he were asked this sort of question? :P

  50. #63: I was just thinking about that, the fact that you’d never see questions to McCain on this level from FN, and then I got out my tinfoil hat.

    But I think you have a pretty valid point.

  51. So, watching Fox news will open my mind and make me less of a douche? Why am I just finding out about this?

  52. #55: I just deleted a 200 plus (that long!) tirade worthy of absolute disemvowelment, as you typed so eloquently in response to 52.

    It takes a long time, even as a drug user myself, to be able to acknowledge that no, you’re quite fine, it IS the system that is utterly broken.

    And quite savagely beaks people, too.

  53. ethanol is not synonymous with Corn, google cellulosic for example, and don’t get people confused with beavers

    legalizing marijuana has nothing to do with heroin and the ilk

    cuba?

    In general, WTF? I thought more of the readers here at boingboing

  54. Pyros (@45): It’s not that Obama is two faced. It is, rather, that he has to become elected first. If you espouse sense on most of the major issues that everyday people deal with in America, you would never get elected.

    I hear this all the time, and I just don’t know that it is true. Show me a candidate that has actually tried to espouse sense and reason rather than go with popularity contest viewpoints and empty, vague rhetoric! I’m going to get flamed for saying this, but I think in many ways Obama’s campaign embodies the worst of our system.

    I want Obama (not BB posters!) to explain, for example, how raising capital gains taxes will help our economy. I know it sounds good and is popular to talk about unfairness and the mean ol’ rich, but put sentiment aside and talk to me rationally. What will the impact be? Most of his emotional messages appeal to everyone. I want him to appeal to reason.

  55. On the gay “parents” issue… speaking as a parent and a native speaker of American English, I feel eminently qualified to state that sexual orientation is not grounds for putting quotation marks around the word “parent” when composing American English text.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scare_quotes

    I believe the gay parents I know (some biological, some adoptive) and their children would strongly agree with me on this issue. Hold on, I’ll spot-check… yeah, at least one fellow I know says his mom is his parent and not his “parent”. Sorry that took so long.

    Children of gay people and gay persons who are supporting the society they live in by adopting parentless children are welcome to disagree, but all others should probably confine their hateful opinions to their withered, black little “hearts”.

    –Charlie

  56. The people who say politicians must lie to be successful are wrong. There is nothing requiring a politician to lie to win an election. Just because people vote for politicians that do lie, DOES NOT mean that somehow being a politician or running for a political position means you have to lie.

    The fact that Bush (and maybe Obama) lie to their constituents shows how lame some voters are when it comes to choosing a political candidate.

  57. “#38 POSTED BY LINDS , JULY 28, 2008 7:50 PM
    Please excuse a foreigner’s ignorance but what is the significance of the council on foreign relations, what kind of positions do they support? Their wikipedia page seems more interested in their inner workings than the result”

    More informative CFR background here:
    http://www.cuttingedge.org/news/n1191.cfm

    For a little bit of context on WHY his links to CFR are important read below:
    http://www.deepjournal.com/p/7/a/en/1497.html

  58. Please ignore the end-of-days Christian babble on the above link; focus on the CFR info instead; I picked that link purely due to the concise history on the organization, and names involved with it.

  59. deviant: Show me a candidate that has actually tried to espouse sense and reason rather than go with popularity contest viewpoints

    Democracy is a popularity contest.

    The judicial branch doesn’t have direct elections and is meant to act as a stop gap against democracy turning into mob rule.

    I’m going to get flamed for saying this, but I think in many ways Obama’s campaign embodies the worst of our system.

    If by “worst” you mean “not perfect, but better than McCain”, then, OK, sure, whatever.

  60. #60 and #25: Anyone who consistently watches Fox is a dupe. Anyone who consistently watches ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN/MSNBC is *also* a dupe. I find it amusing, though, how the left-dupes are so incensed at Fox after so many decades of dominating broadcast media with leftist propaganda and lies.
    It’s rather narrow-minded to think that your side is always right, or that the other side never has a valid point. Such people are either deceiving themselves or are sheep.
    The best thing that these questions might do–since neither candidate will have the balls to answer them–is get people to consider reading Reason. And to question what they read in Reason, too. “Free minds,” indeed.

  61. Greglondon: If by “worst” you mean “not perfect, but better than McCain”, then, OK, sure, whatever.

    I’m not talking about their relative merits as potential commanders in chief, I’m talking about their campaigns. McCain’s campaign seems inept. Inept campaigns are not dangerous, because they are easily recognizable. Obama’s campaign, on the other hand, looks like a brilliant Madison Avenue creation, which is what bothers me. It could still have style, but the lack of substance seems highly calculated.

  62. Question #1 employs the fallacy of the false dichotomy (Fallacy of many questions), and question #2 employs the fallacy of the false dichotomy and a regressive fallacy.

    Question #3 also employs the fallacy of many questions, but I suspect that one of the choices put forward is the correct one.

  63. In case anyone’s actually interested in CFR positions rather than pages written by lunatics comparing them to Freemasons and occult groups, you can actually, you know, go to their site and see what position papers they’ve written.

    http://www.cfr.org/issue/

  64. Cowicide: kgb, just stay comfy in your dreamworld… the rest of us will handle the challenges of dealing with reality.

    The only dreamworld I may be in is that I feel it is arrogance to believe one side has all the right answers. A corollary is that I do not have the arrogance to believe that a news source is entirely worthless. Sure, they vary in how much good information they produce but that is entirely different from being of the mindset that you feel embarrassed when you agree with news source X.

    Jesse: And that, @25 above, is why perfectly normal people are immediately suspicious of anything that comes from Fox News.

    That may very well be true but that’s an entirely different stance than claiming that you feel cognitive dissonance in agreeing with something FoxNews has put out. This only happens* if you believe that it is somehow impossible for them to produce something of value, no matter how rare that occurs. But too often people become too uncritical of information which conforms to/confirms their current worldview, so that tendency needs to be balanced by not wasting your time consuming virtually worthless news.

    *Technically, cognitive dissonance could occur if you believe their good news to bad news ratio is say 1/10000 and it turns out to be say 1/9900. But I highly doubt they were making this sort of claim, and if they were then I sincerely apologize.

    Jonathan Badger: In case anyone’s actually interested in CFR positions rather than pages written by lunatics comparing them to Freemasons and occult groups, you can actually, you know, go to their site and see what position papers they’ve written.

    If they already believe that the CFR is involved in conspiracy theories then why would they ever believe that the CFR’s stated positions have any relation to their real goals?

  65. @ DEVIANT:

    Show me a candidate that has actually tried to espouse sense and reason rather than go with popularity contest viewpoints and empty, vague rhetoric!

    Dennis Kucinich. Boy, do people ever flock to him! Wow.

  66. #24 “They also show a very anti-public service libertarian slant.”

    Libertarians aren’t against public service. They’re against FORCED public service. One example would be a draft. That’s slavery pure and simple.

    This is why Ayn Rand is so misunderstood. Objectivism isn’t against helping people anymore than Libertarianism is against public service. So long as it’s not forced service by The State, it’s all good.

  67. #81 posted by jlangr:

    #60 and #25: Anyone who consistently watches Fox is a dupe. Anyone who consistently watches ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN/MSNBC is *also* a dupe. I find it amusing, though, how the left-dupes are so incensed at Fox after so many decades of dominating broadcast media with leftist propaganda and lies.

    You guys keep making wild assumptions that people who don’t trust FOX news must be “left-dupe” assholes who consistently watch all the other MSM for their monolithic info diet. Well, I’ll speak for myself… guess who else I don’t trust? ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC (among many udders).

    I consistently trust no one and I consistently cross-reference everyone… do you? And when I cross-reference Fox News they come out as one the most untrustworthy full of shit propaganda machines barely worthy of anything but a good laugh. Why do you have a problem with that? Do you have some better research that I need to see?

    Now, what about when we cross-reference all those “leftist propaganda” machines you speak of?

    Every single last one of those “liberal” stations you mention (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC) that are “so full of leftist propaganda and lies” also happen to be the very same organizations who were outright CHEERLEADERS for the fucking invasion of Iraq. That sure wasn’t very “leftist” of them, now was it? LOL I witnessed firsthand CNN (in our first invasion of Iraq) outright lie to the American public in order to push forward a military-industrial complex agenda. Boy, that sure was “leftist” of them… wow…

    jlangr, the sad truth is that you’ve been brainwashed to believe that all the media you speak of is leftist propaganda machines when, in fact… overall, they are very much vehicles for the corporate right. Do a little research and look at the major defense contractors that OWN these guys! Damn dude, open your eyes… leftists??? Hahahahaha… get fucking real!!! Leftist war machines… how quaint.

    The “Liberal Media” mantra is just another hollow talking point not based on fact that’s been drilled into your skull over and over (and over) until you actually start to believe the horseshit… and, ironically (and hilariously), it’s often parroted by the very same MSM to help reinforce it. Quit inhaling talking points, do some actual outside research on the matter and you’ll find out how terribly deceived you are.

    I read right-wing shit, left-wing shit and every-wing shit and then I sort nuggets out with FAIR.org (I keep in mind they are left-wing shit influenced to say the least so I do counter-research on them as well). DemocracyNow.org does leave out details on issues that makes them full of shit about 5-10% of the time, but God bless ’em.. that sure beats the hell out of vetting out the corporate media agenda that’s so full of shit 90-95% of the time that it makes me fucking sick. Also, I’m sorry to tell you that when I vet out the details of many right-wing sources (Drudge, etc.) they are full of shit at least 60-80% of the time. They love to tell many half-truths. Half-truths to me are 100% bullshit. Call me crazy, but I want ALL the facts… not your asshole agenda.

    So… where do you get your information from? Don’t be shy. Do you listen to Fair.org’s Counterspin once every couple a weeks or so and vet them out to see if they are accurate? Do tell! DO TELL. Have you even ever heard of Counterspin? What do you think of them, media expert? Please quantify your liberal media assertion.

    The truth of the matter is, most journalists sway to “the left”. “The Left” is just another word the corporate media gives to average Americans that seek truth beyond their propaganda. The problem is that most of the corporate controlled editors are right-wing and edit the shit out of the truth accordingly and/or many journalists are pressured not to write the complete truth because the corporate bosses will make life miserable for them… and/or fire them, of course.

    Dude, haven’t you researched anything of the build-up to the Iraq war and where journalists were constantly being censored? Why did the “leftist propaganda” machine cancel Phil Donahue’s anti-war show when it was climbing massively in ratings? (C’mon.. I’d just LOVE to hear your answer on that one — sigh, c’mon… why did a “leftist propaganda” machine cancel his show at that point??)

    Liberals, leftists, etc. is just another way to label and marginalize the section of the American public that actually educates themselves on issues beyond the normal MSM talking points. Why is it almost all the most numerous and most popular blogs in the world are “liberal”? Is that some conspiracy from God? Why are most teachers and professors “liberal”? Why are most scientists “liberal”? Could it be they are NOT liberal? They are just more well-read and educated and therefore a god damn threat to the status quo and therefore need some fucking demeaning labels to keep them down?

    The MSM pushes a right-wing corporate military agenda overall. This has been proven over and over throughout time, but to know this… you have to be one of those wacky “leftists” that reads and researches issues a lot without hoping for a predetermined outcome. I find out uncomfortable truths all the time that make me have to rethink my stances on issues, but I’ve learned to condition my brain over time to accept these challenges as strength conditioning and not flaws. That makes me dangerous to the status quo… and the status quo is right.. I want to rape and kill it.

    Have you noticed that the overwhelming majority of the blogosphere is composed of what you would call “leftists”? It’s hilarious watching the corporate right-wingers try to demonize bloggers and act like there is some conspiracy while the entire time the internet is wide open to anyone who wants to start a blog. The sad truth for you guys is that once the playing field is leveled and money from corporations are taken mostly out of the picture, you end up with… “leftists” running the show. In other words, a majority of Americans who don’t have their heads up the ass of a corporate media machine parroting talking points.

    #89 posted by kgb:

    The only dreamworld I may be in is that I feel it is arrogance to believe one side has all the right answers. A corollary is that I do not have the arrogance to believe that a news source is entirely worthless. Sure, they vary in how much good information they produce but that is entirely different from being of the mindset that you feel embarrassed when you agree with news source X.

    Um… did you bother to read the link I included about Fox earlier? Did that slide past your skull, there? FOX isn’t a news source, they are almost entirely a propaganda machine. So, please explain how being wary of an organization so incredibly untrustworthy is acting like a closed-minded douche that demonizes the ‘opposing side’?

    kgb, it is you that really needs to pull off the close-minded blinders and take a hard look at FOX and their very obvious propaganda mission. Have you researched FOX at all, I wonder?? Are you clueless to all the constant public manipulation they try to propagate? Why is it regular viewers of FOX news tend to be so misinformed on issues that sway them to support Bush policy time and time again? Coincidence?? LOL.. yeah, keep dreaming.

    I don’t know, I guess some people just aren’t wired with enough critical thinking skills to see something that is so incredibly blatant. I’m sorry that reality makes you uncomfortable. But, it’s not my job to throw truth out the window in the name of bullshit “balance”.

    FOX news has a horrific track record for all to see (if you are willing to see it)… there’s no need to “demonize” a demon.

  68. All that said, I commend Mark Frauenfelder for shaking up the tree and bringing in some unexpected FOXNews.com angles. Helps keep us on our collective toes, I think.

  69. Crap, I forgot to add this quote in #93

    “Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” – Aldous Huxley

  70. Oh, for pete’s sake. You mean I went to all that trouble to write a long comment yesterday in this thread, and it never posted?

    I’m having a bad, bad day.

  71. nope Ken: you’re still wrong, it’s all about context:

    #33 posted by Ken Hansen , July 28, 2008 7:10 PM

    RE: #9 posted by Takuan:

    The way things work, Obama will HAVE to lie and cheat his way IN. All you can do is pray he will be better than the others AFTER he gets in.

    What a tremendous rationalization… Is that really a “Change you can believe in”?

    no rationalizing there, just observation.

  72. the reason I put the word “parent” in quotes is simple – until you have a child, you aren’t a parent.

    Oy. What you said was not that, but this:

    Adoption of orphans by gay “parents” is a states rights issue

    And defending the use of scare quotes based on your own internal assumptions doesn’t fly. If you want to argue from a strictly biological point of view, being gay doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant. But you assume no one who is gay and adopting couldn’t possibly already have children.

    Would you equally assume that a hetero couple who is adopting also does not have any children of their own?

    If you made that assumption, and people nailed you on it, would you defend it with weird legalisms and language tricks?

    Were the debate to be about some adoption restriction around some other subject besides orientation, for example an age restriction, would you resort to scare quotes when talking about potential adoptive “parents” being too old?

    If someone pointed out that old parents might already have biological children and therefore your use of scare quoted “parents” is off, would you keep pushing it?

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