Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Aromatherapy by any other name still prob'ly stinks. Pt. 2.

To return, then, to our discussion of complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM.

Not by coincidence is CAM most avidly touted in the broad culture by a loose alliance of touchy-feely New Age types—Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra—and veteran hucksters like Kevin Trudeau. Trudeau, whom we've met before, is an interesting case study. Labeled "King Con" by John Stossel and ABC News, he's been sued for deceptive business practices numerous times by
the Federal Trade Commission; in 2004 the FTC deemed his sins so egregious that the agency not only fined him $500,000, but imposed what some have called its "direct-marketer's death penalty"—barring Trudeau from "appearing in, producing, or disseminating future infomercials that advertise any type of product, service, or program to the public." But the FTC left him a loophole, allowing him to pursue his First Amendment right to disseminate "informational publications." Give a worm a loophole and he'll slither right through it. So the following year Trudeau reinvented himself as a healthcare expert and author, publishing the runaway best-seller Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About. It tells you something about the market's appetite for this stuff that the book continued to sell briskly even after the New York State Consumer Protection Board warned that it "does not contain the 'natural cures' for cancer and other diseases that Trudeau is promising." This past October the FTC again fined Trudeau, this time a hefty $5 million for making fraudulent claims in a more recent book about weight loss. Such is the sorry vanguard of the CAM revolution.

Meanwhile, alternative medicine has secured its own beachhead within the august National Institutes of Health (NIH)—in the form of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Wallace Sampson, a director of the National Council Against Health Fraud, is blunt: "Special commercial interests and irrational, wishful thinking created NCCAM. It is the only entity in the NIH devoted to an ideological approach to health." Lobbyists for makers of vitamins and "nutraceuticals" were instrumental in getting NCCAM off the ground. Sen. Tom Harkin—who loves his bee pollen, he does—was single-handedly responsible for the $2 million earmark that provided seed money for the agency (chartered in 1992 as the Office of Alternative Medicine). In the ensuing years NCCAM's budget soared, with a notable assist from CAM-friendly Bill Clinton, who wrought a tripling in the agency's budget in one year alone, 1999. Nonetheless, in its 16-year lifespan, and despite a cumulative outlay exceeding $1 billion, NCCAM has failed to validate a single therapy that can withstand the rigors of traditional science. Which is why Sampson and Dr. Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch.com have called for NCCAM to be defunded.

As George D. Lundberg, former editor of JAMA, once put it, "There's no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data." We'd do well to keep that in mind as we plot the future of American healthcare, especially if a large part of the burden is to be borne by government. It's not like we've got billions to waste.

Read part 1.

90 comments:

Dimension Skipper said...

It's a real shame that healthcare is in the state it's in as I would submit that there may be nothing more important in life than one's health.

Yes, quackery and fraud abound, but it's not always a black and white thing. Sometimes even the assumed scientific stuff may not be as scientific as we think. Though these may not necessarily be surprises (especially the first one), here are some cases in point...

Quack Health Foods Are Big Business

Vitamins C and E Get an F

Are Antidepressant Drugs Actually Worth Taking?

Drug Companies Keep Quiet On Drugs That Don’t Work

On a side note... I remember when Harris Wofford ran for senator (from PA) and won based largely on his vague promise of reforming healthcare. (Was that back in the 80s? 90s?) I said at the time that he would be just one senator, so how could he possibly deliver on such a promise?... Answer: He couldn't and (if I recall correctly) was soundly defeated in his re-election bid for the next term.

Healthcare and quackery and the whole ball o' wax has been an issue for a long time and will continue to be, especially in sub-fields where it is as much or more market-driven as it is science-driven.

Anonymous said...

I can't get healh insurance due to a preexisting condition and self-employment. Rather than sit around sniffing lilac and jasmine scented candles in the evening, I'm on the treadmill with my pulse at 160 beats-per-minute. And I keep my Body Mass Index around 17 by eating more fiber than sweets.

All of this is done in an effort not to turn over my life's savings to a hospital. If I had insurance, I'm pretty sure I would be a fat slob. Fear of personal bankruptcy keeps me fit.

If we all paid our medical bills directly the way I do, then I'm sure more of us would pay attention to science in order to improve our health and not rely on "hope".

Government shopuld not be in the health care industry. Or the hope industry. It's not helping anyone.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize at least how you oppose progress each and every time? In effect your knee jerk reaction to anything new and different is to oppose it and tear it down. Just as you oppose and tear down everything that gives people hope. What does that say about you, I wonder?

RevRon's Rants said...

Who says aromatherapy has no measurable benefits? I dare anyone to sit through the day in a home where Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared and not notice a measurable surge in their appetite! And for those who simply insist upon hard, documentable data, I challenge you to weigh each of your guests before the meal, then again afterward. I have no doubt you'll find that each "subject" is measurably heavier after that second helping of pumpkin pie (complete with whipped heavy cream, of course) than they were before knife was taken to bird. And for those of you outside the Imperial Realm, you will just have to await publication of (belch!) the findings.

To all in the US, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are mindful of all you have for which to be thankful. And to the rest of you, feel free to join in the spirit of the Holiday. But never mind all those inconvenient details about the origins. Ya' know... genocide of indigenous peoples, slave labor, and all that other depressing rot. Today is a day for gluttony, not remorse (Remorse comes tomorrow, when you can't zip your favorite jeans as you strive to join the frantic rush to the mall).

RevRon's Rants said...

I forgot to mention... You might want to offer to weigh only those guests who are both smaller that yourself and pathologically laid back. Unless, of course, you *enjoy* a pre-game boxing match and don't value the furniture in your home very highly.

Elizabeth said...

Wallace Sampson, a director of the National Council Against Health Fraud, is blunt: "Special commercial interests and irrational, wishful thinking created NCCAM. It is the only entity in the NIH devoted to an ideological approach to health."

Well, one could turn it around and say the very same thing about the staunch and irrational opponents of CAM -- that their objections are, by and large, motivated by an ideological approach to health (aka knee-jerk skepticism) and serve largely to protect entrenched political and financial interests of special groups. Because it is one thing to withhold a conclusion before one has studied a subject in depth and amassed a sufficient amount of data prior to declaring whether there is a there there, and another to dismiss something off-hand with extreme prejudice. The latter is, I'm afraid, the attitude of hard-core CAM (and not only CAM) skeptics.

As to aromatherapy... Sigh. While it may not "cure" anything, again dismissing its usefulness off-hand strikes me as prejudicial. Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful orienting factors in our interactions with the world. At the very basic level, it protects our health by warning us against spoiled or unsavory foods, and other environmental dangers. There is evidence that it may help us select mates, and that it influences our bonding with others. The sense of smell is closely related to our affective memory, and different scents can influences our mood in different ways. Is it really so far-fetched to assume that there may be something to aromatherapy, especially when its claims are modest and we do not have evidence categorically disproving them?

Elizabeth said...

Alright, Steve, not that it matters here (or anywhere, LOL), but since you've mentioned him: I can't stand John Stossel. I can't think of anyone else on network TV that would so uniquely qualify for The Pompous Ass Award as JS, Mr. Smugness Personified.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 pm, a lot of fat slobs do not have health insurance. Obesity is now replacing cigarette smoke as the leading cause of cancer.

I believe the U.S. must figure out what type of country it wants to be regarding healthcare. Either we adopt China's "pay or die" model or healthcare will become socialized. The U.S. cannot economically keep up the pretense of caring about its citizens' health. Either it will be about money or it will be about being humane.

As far as "quackery"goes, let us not forgot people have choices. I understand the importance of smell, but I do not believe it will cure cancer. Maybe a whiff of lilacs can remind me of my fifth birthday playing in the garden, but I don't think smelling a candle can replace chemotherapy. Now gene therapy might! A doctor cannot make a patient see the light.

This post reminds me of bubbleheaded Jenny McCarthy who thinks feeding her son gluten and dairy free food cured him of autism. Do you know how many children's parents are refusing to have their children immunized due to this drivel? It is getting scary.

It is not just about smelling candles.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz, if you notice, I don't debate people in the comments section nearly as much as I used to; I tend more to say my piece in the original post (or at least put certain thoughts "out there"), and then for the most part I let our contributors have their say. In this case, however, I have to say that I'm surprised at you on two counts.

First of all, I am most surprised that you'd trot out that hoary argument that attempts to posit some equivalence between (a) the people who oppose lunacy and (b) the people who oppose science. To accuse both groups of being equally "didactic" or "ideological" or however you want to say it is one of the oldest canards on record. I remember interviewing this guy (I forget his name) who offered something called "raindrop therapy" (he was later indicted and prosecuted), and he said to me, "It's my opponents who are the ones who are being rigid and unreasonable in their thinking! After all, I'm willing to consider the merit in conventional medicine...so why aren't they willing to consider the merit in my medicine?" Uh, simple...because your "medicine" is absurd. It is based on nothing. It is quackery. That's why. It goes back to what I've already said on SHAMblog any number of times: If you make a claim for something, then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that it works. It's not on me to prove that it doesn't work.

But speaking of being ideological, I think your opposition to Stossel, who has done some excellent, against-the-grain reporting, must also be ideological in nature. I could cite many cases where Stossel was the first to the mic with reporting that was considered eyebrow-raising at first, but later became the conventional wisdom. One classic case in point was his defense of Dow Chemical when the company was first hit with that rash of claims for leaking silicone breast implants. The resulting mood of public hysteria drove the company into insolvency--even though Stossel pointed out that there was very little actual science behind the women's heart-rending contentions. He took a lot of heat for that, but was vindicated by subsequent research. Of course, it's way too late for Dow to recover the sums paid out in undeserved settlements.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Hasselback or that guy who has this smug smile on his face when he is interviewing murder victims'family members on NBC (I can't think of his name)is much worse than John Stossel! I like John Stossel. I think he is a great digger and generally very good.

Elizabeth said...

If you make a claim for something, then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that it works. It's not on me to prove that it doesn't work.

No, it isn't. We should always base our conclusions on available evidence. When something it completely outlandish (i.e. there is not a shred of evidence to support it), then, by all means, we have the right, if not an obligation, to dismiss it as unreal.

But I think it would behoove one to control one's knee-jerk rejection of a phenomenon for which there is some evidence (anecdotal and other) just because it does not fit the parameters of one's mindset. This is just a general observation, not one directed at you, Steve, or anyone on the blog. (And, for the record, we are not talking about little green men lurking in your closet, but phenomena that have an aura of plausibility and/or are supported by some anecdotal evidence, as many, but not all, CAM methods are.)

A skeptic, as the original definition of the term instructs us, is someone who, after examining relevant evidence, withholds his/her conclusion as to the causes/origins of the phenomena in question, not someone who off-hand rejects anything that does not conform to his worldview. Unfortunately, American popular science, at least its certain corners, have been hijacked by the professional skeptics who use the term to prettify their arrogant and narrow-minded stance on various issues. (Here James Randy comes to mind, for example; did you know that ESP is the most extensively and rigorously researched area of the whole human psychology? With tightly conducted studies that confirm, beyond reasonable doubt, the existence of ESP, or at least blow out of the water the argument that ESP phenomena can be result of chance or trickery? I did not know that, until, prompted by a colleague -- a respectable quantum physicist, no less, LOL -- I looked into the subject with a more objective eye and was able to get beyond the Randy-ism in my own thinking.) But I digress. I think I have made my point as it applies to CAM here and my previous post.

BTW, you may be surprised by my post(s) in part because I have experienced a change of mind on assorted topics recently (in the past two months), not in a small measure thanks to the influences of the above mentioned physicist colleague of mine (and/or simply getting older). Nowadays I am much less inclined to dismiss ideas/phenomena for which I (or science) do not have solid explanations, but for which there exists some evidence.

As to Stossel, I don't object to him on ideological grounds. I simply don't like him and his smug self-assuredness. But I do not opine here on the truthfulness of his ideas and discoveries -- that is beside my point, which was, as you have no doubt noticed, a pure and personal cheap shot at the guy.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:11, aromatherapy does not promise to cure cancer or autism. Such glibly dismissive and uninformed opinions only contribute to ignorance surrounding this topic.

Elizabeth said...

Anon at 10:12, you make several good points -- on obesity and lack of medical care, for example, the choice we have to make in regards to our healthcare system, or the importance of not believing in outlandish claims.

I think you (I, we, anyone) should never believe anything just because someone says we should, and even less so when that someone is trying to sell us something. Unless you are in church and it (religious belief) happens to be "your thing." :)

You (I, anyone) should always evaluate any claims based on the existing evidence and form your own conclusions, whenever possible. Even if those claims come from such venerable entities like scientists. Science is very much a human pursuit with all the frailties it entails,* and, as my favorite physicist states, if scientists as a whole denounce an idea, this should not necessarily be taken as proof that the said idea is absurd; rather, one should examine carefully the alleged grounds for such opinions and judge how well these stand up to detailed scrutiny.**

So you are right, curing cancer is not about smelling candles. Luckily, nobody says it is -- at least I have not heard such claims coming from any aromatherapy proponents (but I don't know many, I admit). While I'm far from being an expert here -- or even an interested party -- it seems to me that aromatherapy claims to the "therapy" aspect of its existence are much more modest. As far as I can tell, they center on temporarily improving one's mood, alleviating assorted minor aches and soothing run-of-the-mill indispositions. I have never heard of anyone trying to cure cancer (or autism, or any serious disorder or disease) by "smelling candles" -- or smelling anything else, and if I did, I would tend to question them and demand evidence for their claims. Which, I would posit, is a reasonable approach to most things in life.

At the risk of being redundant, I would like to stress that I do not oppose science and/or draw equivalence between science and "lunacy," as Steve seemed to suggest (if I'm not mistaken). I've merely observed that many (not all) of most vocal critics of CAM engage in ideological opposition to it -- they reject CAM's claims wholesale, without even considering available evidence, showing in the process their own prejudice and a lack of genuine curiosity about this subject.

*I am not dissing science here.

**The guy has won Nobel Prize in physics, so I think he knows a thing or two. His name is Brian Josephson.

P.S. With Stossel, it just may be ideological after all, my dislike of him. It's that (Saddam-worthy) mustache. I have a thing -- a very negative thing -- about guys with mustaches. Especially guys with mustaches who happen to be smugly self-satisfied. Oh, what can I say -- my ideology woefully shows. ;)

The Crack Emcee said...

It's truly incredible:

Adults buying into ideas any 5-year old can see through.

Supposedly-educated people are blowing billions of dollars "studying" if water has a memory and if people can shoot mystic fire through their fingers. And the majority of people who are "open-minded" to those unlikely ideas are the same ones who rail like nobody's business against a belief in Jesus - while registering no sense of hypocrisy what-so-ever. They even have the nerve to demand respect as they do so. It's all very weird to me, because I can't be touched by this stuff - except to be surrounded by people who believe in some facet of it - which is a sort of Hell because any hope for a nice, normal, sane conversation (with people who hold no standards for proof) is impossible.

I'll never forget the chill that ran down my spine after telling my ex-wife a quack had killed her mother, and she replied, "You're just saying that because you don't believe." That's how insanity strikes me: like a shock to my nervous system. (I've hardly been able to play music since I discovered this stuff.) It's a physical sensation that really makes me dislike certain people, which I never hear the believers mention as they discuss their "positive" need to cause it. It's just all about them and what they get out of it: no one else counts. Now my ex-wife and that quack are being investigated for two more murders. And for nothing at all. Nothing. Just a bunch of "beliefs" that led them to kill people. I get letters from their supporters, but they, too, steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the dead, or the pain it's caused me. It's all about them and their anecdotal evidence - "It worked for me!" - with no concern for reason, the waste of resources, the deadly con that transpired, or the victim's families.

As the Western World appears to be going to Hell in a handbasket, I can't help but deduce it's because the previous generation (which was huge) started a process that is best defined by the phrase, "garbage in, garbage out." Someone convinced them to "question everything" and, somehow, they seem to have gotten permanently locked into that phase every three year old goes through where they endlessly repeat "Why?" - totally missing what every adult discovers when encountering a scamp in that precocious period: asking questions is easy while endlessly coming up with answers is hard.

And anyone who's been through that experience knows an adult will eventually get really sick of that kid.

So what to do? I don't know. I've tried screaming "Grow up!" but my older brothers and sisters are convinced they don't have to - even after raising kids of their own. My guess is watching an entire generation of spiteful troublemakers insist on dying pathetically, like Elizabeth Targ, will be enough to show those who follow them the error of their ways. Maybe not.

Personally, I'm just happy to know, one day, they'll be gone, and things can get back to some semblance of normalcy around here.

Elizabeth said...

It's James Randi, of course. My apologies.

Elizabeth said...

And the majority of people who are "open-minded" to those unlikely ideas are the same ones who rail like nobody's business against a belief in Jesus - while registering no sense of hypocrisy what-so-ever.

I hear ya, CMC. But what about those who are open-minded to "those unlikely ideas" of religion (y'know, resurrection, virgin birth, blood into wine, etc.) but rail like nobody's business against CAM, while registering no sense of hypocrisy whatsoever, huh?

I tell ya, so many hypocrites, so little time. ;)

(OK, please forgive me. I'm just being facetious in tone -- but still making a point, I hope.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:11 pm I was making a joke about linking smell and curing cancer, but there are a lot of ideas with no scientific basis about cancer. I was pointing that out. As far as autism goes, there many parents trying unsubstantiated methods on that children and I find that scary. Also, as a parent, I am fearful of my children going to school with unvaccinated children due to their crazy parents listening to celebrities instead of scientists and doctors.

RevRon's Rants said...

Elizabeth, you really hit on a point that is too often and easily overlooked - that many (but certainly not all) self-proclaimed "skeptics" misinterpret the meaning of true "critical thinking." To embrace as "truth" those outlandish and implausible claims for which there is no supporting evidence is a mark of ignorance. By the same token, accepting as gospel the findings produced by a research method that is tainted - or dismissing out of hand a vast amount of anecdotal data - is no better.

"Critical thinking" is supposed to imply a process that evaluates *all* available data before passing judgment, yet still being willing to change one's mind if compelling new information becomes available. Just as many in the "woo" crowd tends to plant their feet firmly in a "hoped for" reality, while dismissing anything inconsistent with that "reality," many who consider themselves "critical thinkers" seem to think that so long as they are finding fault, they are being astute in their reasoning. There is a dramatic difference, however, between being astute and striving to dismiss. All too often, such striving is borne of the need to alienate one's self from or even punish those who hold to different perspectives, which is certainly no more reasoned than is the acceptance of an idea based in the notion that "it would be nice if..."

It's not too difficult to discern the intellectual "skeptic" from the emotional skeptic, although being able to do so requires that one listen closely.

Certainly, application of the scientific method should represent the ultimate in discerning the validity of an idea or the efficacy of a treatment. The weak link in the process is that the scientific method has been badly tinted by the economic and/or professional agendas of those who sanction and perform the research.

When I was managing a research facility some years ago, I was astounded at the degree to which researchers were willing to structure their studies in order to reinforce the claims of underwriters. Data that was inconsistent with desired findings was - and is - routinely disqualified, for any number of reasons conveniently written into the study parameters. And this was no an isolated case. As a matter of fact, I attended a few workshops wherein statisticians were instructed in the most effective means of manipulating study results.

I've previously discussed the sham FDA evaluation process for silicone and saline breast implants, but there are a multitude of other examples of supposedly objective studies that were anything but. One has only to watch television or pick up a copy of Prevention or even Reader's Digest to have reason to doubt the accuracy and motivation of studies performed. How many drugs, "proven" effective and safe in extensive studies, make it to market, where they are heavily promoted and dispensed, only to be taken off the market after a significant number of patients are sickened or killed? For crying out loud, there is even a fat substitute available in snack products that has been found to frequently cause "rectal leakage!" Of course, the warning appears in tiny print on the packaging, if at all. Kinda makes you want to run out and get some of those potato chips, doesn't it? :-)

I am certainly not suggesting that research studies on the whole are unbelievable, or that we should ignore the information they provide. That would make no more sense than accepting the fairy tale claims made by the New Wage hustlers. However, if we are to be truly "critical" thinkers, we must recognize and acknowledge the influence of personal, professional, and economic bias as it exists on *both* sides of the argument. A sensible, reasoned individual should always take an emotionally-charged assessment, or one developed and offered by someone who has a vested professional or economic interest in the results with not a grain of salt, but with several pounds.

roger o'keefe said...

Ron, I'm sure you're going to think I insist on taking you on for whatever you say so I'm doing it again here. I just have to be honest. That long-winded explanation isn't very convincing to me. It sounds like a contrived rationalization an intelligent person uses to justify his belief in something he knows he shouldn't believe in but he believes in it anyway. In other words it sounds like a story you tell *yourself* as much as you tell it to others. Is it possible that for your own "emotional" reasons you're unable to be skeptical of what you already believe in, because you're too close to it? I think we all fall into that trap. It just sounds implausible to me that someone who is so critical of new age bs would backtrack on that same level of critical thinking when it comes to a favored topic.

Steve Salerno said...

If I may step in here--and I sincerely hope I don't sound too teacherly or patronizing in doing so, because that's the last thing I seek--I think that Roger's comment here is a good example of how one might attack another person's rhetoric/argument/thinking (and in fairly strong fashion) without directly attacking the person himself in an ad hominem way. At least that's how it strikes me. I bring it up only because we've (obviously) had our problems in this area in the past.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Ron, I'm sure you're going to think I insist on taking you on for whatever you say..."

Well Roger, I hate to disrupt your certainty with fact, but I haven't felt that you were ever "lying in wait" for me to say something with which you could take exception. I'll go a step further and suggest that you are applying motives to my other comments that are equally inaccurate. Something to consider...

"I just have to be honest. That long-winded explanation isn't very convincing to me."

I'll be honest, as well... I would never expect it to be convincing to you, since we obviously have very different perspectives. I can live with that. :-)

"It sounds like a contrived rationalization an intelligent person uses to justify his belief in something he knows he shouldn't believe in but he believes in it anyway."

Of course, the fact that you don't share my reasoning wouldn't be coloring *your* assessment, would it?

"In other words it sounds like a story you tell *yourself* as much as you tell it to others.

It is part of the "story" that I have lived. I genuinely appreciate another's willingness to offer ideas different from my own, and feel that the sharing of what makes us different is the cornerstone of intellectual knowledge as well as emotional connection. I certainly have no problem with someone challenging and testing the soundness of my ideas and reasoning. However, when the "challenge" amounts to negative aspersions to and dismissal of my own intelligence or integrity, it becomes clear that the real basis of that challenge lies as much in the other person's agenda as it does in the quest for understanding and truth. That's when the fun - and the learning - grinds to a halt.

"Is it possible that for your own "emotional" reasons you're unable to be skeptical of what you already believe in, because you're too close to it? I think we all fall into that trap."

Possible? Certainly. But I am acutely aware of how easy it could be to fall into the trap of defending rather than learning, and challenge my own ideas as much as anyone else could - perhaps more. I do find it refreshing that you acknowledge your own vulnerability to falling into that kind of trap... if that's what you are really doing.

"It just sounds implausible to me that someone who is so critical of new age bs would backtrack on that same level of critical thinking when it comes to a favored topic."

Well, perhaps you might find this more plausible: I am and will remain critical of BS, but I'm not so aligned with one "group" or the other that I will blindly accept something that fails to pass my smell test. Neither will I summarily reject something that seems plausible, simply because I'm "not supposed to" consider it. Striving for balance is what keeps me away from the fringe elements who wage war from their particular side of an argument.

Hope this wasn't too "long-winded" for you. :-)

Steve Salerno said...

See (he muses wistfully), if we could've all engaged at this level during election season, rather than building and fortifying our respective enclaves... OK, I'm not sure we would've ever reached consensus, but we would've avoided much of the acrimony. And we might have at least reached a higher level of understanding about politics, life and--just perhaps?--ourselves.

Elizabeth said...

It sounds like a contrived rationalization an intelligent person uses to justify his belief in something he knows he shouldn't believe in but he believes in it anyway.

You mean, like religion, Roger? :)

Is it possible that for your own "emotional" reasons you're unable to be skeptical of what you already believe in, because you're too close to it? I think we all fall into that trap. It just sounds implausible to me that someone who is so critical of new age bs would backtrack on that same level of critical thinking when it comes to a favored topic.

Alright, I'm obviously no Rev, but I'd like to respond. Roger, skepticism implies withholding conclusions after examining relevant evidence. Skepticism is not rejecting something without considering the available evidence just because it sounds implausible to you. I find Ron's post well-reasoned and measured.

I've read and re-read it and see no evidence there of it being a rationalization, as you state. I wonder on what basis you assume that it is? Is it because you simply disagree with Ron? But that's no evidence of him being wrong and you being right -- which of course you know.

(And it's not, after all, as if Rev were defending religious beliefs here, for which indeed there is no evidence. If he did that, then I would surely see how you would and should take him to task for that -- because you surely would take him to task for defending religious beliefs, no? ;))

(Roger, I am pulling your leg just a bit, as you notice. But only a bit.)

Elizabeth said...

BTW, shouldn't we all be out shopping today? We are idling here, arguing esoterics, while good citizens brave the hostile conditions and risk their lives saving our tanking economy.

I hear another poor soul lost his life at Wal-Mart this morning, in the mad stampede to get a few bucks off some useless gadget. That's the real reason they call it Black Friday, I suppose...

RevRon's Rants said...

"OK, I'm not sure we would've ever reached consensus, but we would've avoided much of the acrimony."

Steve, the only way we'll ever reach anything resembling an intellectual consensus is if all involved parties subjected themselves to a collective lobotimization. Furthermore, such a consensus would be inconsistent with a quest for learning. We *need* to disagree if we are to think at all. And while the acrimony isn't pleasant, it does serve a valid purpose: Those whose arguments are dependent upon acrimony do a pretty good job of diminishing the validity of their own arguments, while leaving those they deride virtually intact. Wheat & chaff... :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Yes (re the Walmart unfortunate), I was just about to comment on that. Trampled for a Samsung. How sad.

Ron: You mean...we can't even reach a consensus about the quest for consensus? Sadder still. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

"Ron: You mean...we can't even reach a consensus about the quest for consensus? Sadder still. ;)

Consensus about the quest is cool, Steve. About the achievability - or even the advisability - of reaching that consensus is something else entirely! If we are unable to agree, yet we can agree to disagree, we remain civilized. It's when we become unwilling or unable to disagree that we're in real trouble!

The Crack Emcee said...

I'll take a moment here and point out that - while, I agree, you're all very "civilized" in your own view of things - all I see is nothing being accomplished, no one is being convinced of anything (including the need to be self-reflective) and those who are wrong will continue to go on their way, smug in their own sense of superiority (because they have "defended" their (non-existant) position against attackers who never really do so) and, thus, able to spread their nonsense to others as they see fit.

Which is exactly the cultural environment that allowed my ex-wife to kill three people, including her own mother.

See, I had this (apparently old-fashioned) idea that when a (apparently former) credible person said "my wife is being taken advantage of" and "these people killed my mother-in-law" that person would be taken seriously, and others would become - at the very least - a bit agitated at the thought. At this point, I figure it must be because I'm one of those "unhappy" people, who (apparently) watches too much TV and had never seen a murder mystery where the cops (or anyone else for that matter) said such things as "you're not being open-minded enough", or "try looking at this way", or "you're a man who must have done *something*", or "it's just your attitude". No, on that evil TV, murder, adultery, and the odd con, are pretty much always taken as reasons for folks to get angry and choose sides. Those are subjects that - on Lifetime, at least - keeps the ratings up.

But just not in my case.

Of course I'm a "jumpy" black man - who was married to a, oh so soothing, white NewAge woman - and (Heavens!) a conservative to boot. Lots of room for error, there, depending on who's looking. And no one wants to be "judgmental", since NewAge, and alternative medicine, must be seen as occupying a 'grey area" in society - whatever you do, don't call it "fraud" or a "crime" - and, for goodness sake, don't you dare look on "marriage" as anything special: people can just "do whatever they want to do" within it's bounds, right? No harm done, even if one partner is cuckolded after 20 years. Why that, alone, is probably proof they must be guilty of *something*. We can't be sure until we hear from the believer in "homeopathy" and U.F.O.s.

No, no, instead we'll always state an open-and-shut case that puts an emphasis on "open" (as in "open-minded") so no one has a clue what anything actually is anymore. Because - as that great fan of Ken Wilber told us - that, of course, "depends on what your definition of 'is' is", right? Only if "we are the ones we've been waiting for".

Can "we" make sense of that? "Yes We Can!" We just don't have a clue how to explain it to anyone who owns, and honors, a dictionary - or critical thinking - but, never mind, as long as such conventional thinking (which we know is always right) can be forced down others throats, they'll have to "get it" sooner or later. Werner Erhard told us that.

But in the meantime, I'll have to stick to the tried-and-true old school American method, of calling idiots "idiots", and their ideas "stupid", and - if those "idiots" bunch up in groups around those "stupid" ideas - the word "cults" will do me just fine. I know, I'm out of step, but it won't be the first time this lowly rap artist has been known to march to the beat of his own drum machine. But, despite the disapproving stares at my unorthodox gait, I choose to look at it this way:

Except for stomping on a few other's NewAge "feelings" - which, over the last few decades, have become fine crystal sensitive and precious as a baby - this particular ogre will certainly never find myself on the wrong side of anything so undeniably brutal as getting anybody killed.

Steve Salerno said...

Crack, I'll tell you why I approved this for the blog (which I don't think I would, normally, anymore these days). Because you don't even see it, man. You don't see it at all. And you never gave us a better illustration of that than with your last line.

You'll never be a part of getting anyone killed?

Aren't you--by self-definition--"conservative"? Hasn't your party (and in particular, your branch of the party) killed--to date--at least 4200 GIs (and any number of civilian Iraqis) via a grand and remarkably inept boondoggle in which we never should've involved ourselves in the first place? How many others have died as a result of social policies (or social devastation) wrought--at least in part--by GOP types being asleep at the switch?

We are all blind to our own failings and hypocrisies, Crack. If I can accomplish nothing else with this blog, it would be to imbue each of us with just a tiny dose of humility in our sense of having the world "all figured out."

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve,

I'm a veteran - and I approve of what's happened in Iraq - so I don't know what "boondoggle" you're talking about. I know exactly what led up to Iraq, understand what went into it, mistakes and all (which are to be expected, not something to grow hysterical over because it wasn't fixed in a half-an-hour, like on TV). I've never had any illusions about what it means for the soldiers and their families because I, too, have lost friends - and that was back when no one "loved the troops" or cared. As a matter of fact, when I served (1979-83) the first place I was sent was the Persian Gulf, so none of this is weird to me but a continuation of the world as it has always been.

What I mostly see is a bunch of people (supposedly Americans) who have become so soft, and wooly headed, they no longer have the critical faculties (or stomach) to assess real politiks. That leaves them continually screaming (like a bunch of 5 year olds) about crimes that don't exist, when real ones are occuring - which is a crime against us all - because they're so "open-minded" they can't recognize anything for what it is anymore.

Which, I think, was the point of my post.

The Crack Emcee said...

One more thing:

Your desire - to "imbue each of us with just a tiny dose of humility in our sense of having the world 'all figured out' - is part of the problem, as I see it, because what you're actually saying is "no one can ever be correct about anything" and that's a huge heaping load of BS - and, yea, I'm proud to say it.

I don't want to go racial on you but my people didn't march all this way just so some white Baby Boomer can stand before us and say "you don't know anything." Educated or not, my people know a lot, and what we know has got nothing to do with that post-60's nonsense so many hippies want to "imbue" us with. You feeling unsure of yourself? Then keep it to yourself - I'm an American - and I know my culture is better than others. It's that unsure attitude that's dragging us down, and making us the punching bag to the world, because I've been all over this planet and I certainly don't see anyone else as unsure of their ambitions to best us. They're not singing "Kumbaya" and hoping to hold hands: they want our spot at the top - a place we hold because our parents (people I know some of you haver grown to despise) put us there - and they did it confidently.

I don't know what's happened to some of you but it's certainly not good. It's even dangerous - to you, the country, and the Western World. You've lost your way, man.

That's all I'm saying.

Steve Salerno said...

Crack, see, you're still not engaging on the issue I hoped to engage on: the question of whether you could "find yourself on the wrong side" of something that resulted in death. We're not talking about whether you feel that you're on the wrong side; we're talking about whether you could find yourself on the wrong side, which is a determination that you, yourself, don't get to make. I'm spending a lot of time on this distinction because it's important, and goes back--again--to the difference between what we (personally) perceive as reality (which is one thing) and what may actually be reality (which is something else again). If you're willing to concede that there are many millions of Americans who believe that Iraq has gone awry--and/or was the wrong thing to do in the first place, at least once we learned the facts about the WMDs, etc.--then quite clearly you have "found yourself" on the wrong side of an issue that has caused massive death. That's all I'm trying to say. The world exists apart from Crack's (and Steve's, and Ron's, and everyone else's) perception of it. And sometimes the difference between our subjective reality and at least a more solid sense of objective reality (which is still subjective, of course, but at least there's more consensus on it) comes up and smacks us in the face.

Steve Salerno said...

As to your second comment: No freakin' way, Crack. Slavery was not objectively wrong. (Nor was it right. It just...was. Now, I found it loathsome, just as I found Hitler's persecution and murder of Jews loathsome. But that didn't make it wrong in some cosmic, supra-moral sense, b/c we humans don't get to decide what's ultimately right or wrong. Yes, we get to "decide" it in a pragmatic sense, in terms of the way we live our lives and the rules we enforce. It's just that our rules don't mean squat in a cosmic sense. The Sharia is a bunch of rules, too.) Bin Laden, today, is not objectively wrong to want to kill every single American, including my precious grandkids--and if you're going to say he is, then on what basis? By invoking Bush, or Patrick Henry? Or even by quoting Christ? I ask-- irony fully intended--who made Christ God? Why is Christ a more valid God than Allah (in the most radical interpretations)?

There is no right or wrong. There is only what we see. And there is no contradiction between this here, and what I said a moment ago about finding yourself on "the wrong side" of an issue, because that's a question of perception.

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't find myself on the wrong side because I don't engage in delusion - I'm an atheist - so this nonsense you (sorta) "believe in" ain't my problem. It's yours. Don't project. If you're "cosmic" then you're lost.

The facts about the WMDs didn't mean squat because confirming they aren't there is a plus as well (and, if they had been there and the president had done nothing, you'd still be crying about that:) you guys can't admit it's just a Boomer trait to whine, waaay too much, about government. Meanwhile, like this was going down - a perfect example of some black people who were dumb enough to listen to such foolishness - and you ignore and excuse yourselves for the delusional BS you unleash. And back to this:

"We humans don't get to decide what's ultimately right or wrong. Yes, we get to 'decide' it in a pragmatic sense, in terms of the way we live our lives and the rules we enforce."

Exactly - in a pragmatic sense - so let's (finally) be pragmatic and forget all that '60's "cosmic" nonsense, just forget it.

It's baby talk.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across this:

"To the Left and the antiwar activists, the very entry into the war and the toppling of Saddam Hussein was unnecessary, wrong and immoral. Evidently, leaving one of the greatest contemporary tyrants and butchers of his own people in office was not a problem. And although intelligence turned out to be deeply flawed, the spurious charge that “Bush lied us into war” has no mettle. Virtually every major Democrat saw the same intelligence as the Bush administration, and made the point over and over that Saddam had violated all United Nations sanctions, and was set to put WMD’s into operation in the near future.

As Professor [Alexander Moens, a political scientist] points out, Bush’s “ability to actually stay convinced that Iraq had to be won, when nobody else in the world agreed with him…is an aspect of his strong leadership that people will respect more over time.”  One can argue that when Bush leaves office, Iraq will be on the way to forging an actual democracy;  the war will have been effectively over and Al-Qaeda will have been defeated.

...Future generations will have to assess the final outcome...Whatever their conclusions turn out to be, I have one prediction:  Bush’s position in the rankings of American Presidents will have risen at least close to the center, if not higher."


-- Ron Radosh, adding a dose of reality to what has to be one of the worst cases of Leftist mass hysteria (otherwise known as Bush Derangement Syndrome) I've ever seen in my lifetime, for Pajamas media.

CMC

Steve Salerno said...

Well, I'm glad you've got it all figured out, Crack. Trouble is, America itself has a say in all this, and the nation has decided--"pragmatically"--that it wants Obama to lead us out of this mess.

So then let me cut to the chase: Are you saying that you know The Truth? And that your truth is THE Truth? Yes or no. That's what I'd like to hear.

Elizabeth said...

CMC, to Steve's question at 1:14, I'd like to add mine (speaking of "being on the wrong side of something so undeniably brutal as getting anybody killed"):

Do you think it is OK to kill those who disagree with your truth (or THE Truth, as the case here may be)?

I'm thinking about your explicitly expressed wish to kill Democrats (i.e. people you disagree with).

http://tinyurl.com/6luqxa

Steve Salerno said...

I'm sure Crack would justify that by saying it's righteous killing, and therefore doesn't count.

RevRon's Rants said...

Oh, brother! To quote Yogi Berra, "It's deja vu all over again!"

I think I'll just go in the living room and try to convince the cat that he's not really supreme ruler of the known universe. Better odds of success, ya' know. :-)

The Crack Emcee said...

"Are you saying that you know The Truth? And that your truth is THE Truth? Yes or no. That's what I'd like to hear."

No, I'm saying I'm closer to it than you are - or will probably ever be.

RevRon's Rants said...

Sigh... Where to even begin...

"Evidently, leaving one of the greatest contemporary tyrants and butchers of his own people in office was not a problem."

There were and are plenty of other tyrants who have committed greater atrocities, but whom we chose to leave alone. Of course, the fact that they had no oil resources, and posed a lesser defensive threat to invasion were factors, as well. Perhaps if we hadn't provided Saddam with those WMD's in the first place...

"And although intelligence turned out to be deeply flawed, the spurious charge that “Bush lied us into war” has no mettle. Virtually every major Democrat saw the same intelligence as the Bush administration,"

Well, they had the intel which had been manipulated sufficiently to support Bush's agenda. Of course, the excuse can be offered - erroneously - that *all* of the intelligence analysts who stated that they had been pressured to do so were all just disruntled employees. Uh huh.

"Saddam had violated all United Nations sanctions..."

He was in good company, and far from the top of the list. Had the US not held veto power, we'd be right up there near the top, alongside Israel.

"As Professor [Alexander Moens, a political scientist] points out, Bush’s “ability to actually stay convinced that Iraq had to be won, when nobody else in the world agreed with him…is an aspect of his strong leadership that people will respect more over time.”

Leadership? No more so than your average marionette. The Bush presidency was little more than a payback for his father's associates for having bailed 43 out of every one of his screw-ups throughout his life.

"One can argue that when Bush leaves office, Iraq will be on the way to forging an actual democracy; the war will have been effectively over and Al-Qaeda will have been defeated."

One can also argue for the existence of the tooth fairy, so long as one is willing to suspend common sense and discard all the pertinent facts.

"I have one prediction: Bush’s position in the rankings of American Presidents will have risen at least close to the center, if not higher."

And *I* have a prediction with a much higher probability of coming to fruition: that the vast majority of intelligent people who somehow stumble on this guy's prediction in the future will get a good laugh out of it, and wonder what planet he came from.

Anonymous said...

From Crack's post, quoting Ron Radosh:

"One can argue that when Bush leaves office, Iraq will be on the way to forging an actual democracy; the war will have been effectively over and Al-Qaeda will have been defeated."

I suppose one "can argue" all this if one wants to be met with a bewildered WTF?! response. Man, what has he been drinking? And if you, Crack, believe it too, then you have greater problems than meeting with unfriendly blog reactions. (By the way, I'll contact you off-line--I have a bridge to sell you, in Brooklyn.)

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve,

The only thing the nation has said it wants Obama to lead us out of is the economic mess - our values are still firmly in place - which is what this thread has veered into. You, on the other hand, seem to have a different set of values: frankly, a more confused idea of what's what. You're willing to go all the way into the farthest reaches of the cosmos to determine there's no such thing as right and wrong - while admitting those of us living here on earth have to determine these things as they are. Not what I was expecting from the man who wrote SHAM.

Elizabeth,

You keep trotting out that statement of frustration as though it's some damning outburst, when I've made it clear it's been Democrats who have (repeatedly) confided to me they wanted to start a Civil War if they didn't get their way in this election. They also caused our country a lot of strife over the last 8 years and, on a personal note, turned on me once I switched parties - because I switched parties. One woman threw me into the street because, as she told my friend - her roommate - "He's a conservative, what did he expect?" So excuse me if I stopped buying into the BS about tolerance, or anything else, after that.

How so many people can admit they're not sure of anything, but be willing to violently defend their cluelessness, boggles the mind. What do you people think you're fighting for? Is the open media bias that helped get Obama elected? Are you proud of that? Was it his lies to get into office? Are you proud of that? Was it the voter fraud of ACORN, or his ties to racists, or terrorists, or his wife's lack of pride in the country if they didn't get their way? Or, maybe, it was his comments about his grandmother being a "typical white person" that made you swoon - before he ran to her deathbed? Whatever it was - just like the 8 years of nastiness that got us here - it says much more about his supporters than anything about him. It speaks to their ends-justifies-the-means mentality; their venality, and lack of ethics. It speaks to statements like "anything goes" and "we don't care" - both of which I heard a lot of, here, in this most Democrat of all Democratic places. I ask you, Elizabeth, what's to like?

You guys got a 6% win and are now declaring it a landslide. Reagan won by 18% - that's a landslide. Bush won by 8% and you still kicked up a storm, but expect a person like me to keep quiet because - what? Nobody can question "The One"? The "Lightworker" (AKA Satan)? All you so-called anti-NewAge types and you went for it anyway, ignoring anything and everything, until you're now discussing having a new Clinton era because (this is rich:) there's no one else who can do it. There's so many layers of angry confusion here it's hard to keep up.

Ultimately, I think what you both (all?) hate is anyone who can keep it straight. Who can follow your thinking and point out where the wires cross, where you fool yourselves, or where you try to hide. You screamed "Scooter Libby" long after Richard Armitage confessed because, let's face it, he didn't work for Dick Cheney did he? You screamed "Bush lied, people died" long after it was proven nothing of the kind happened because you couldn't admit that if he lied, then the people you backed lied as well - but you were more than willing to go along with their lies of innocence, after that, weren't you? You pushed Kanye West to the top of the charts after his racist, and hurtful, comments about the president - the same president who put blacks in the highest echelons of power and did more for Africa than anyone before him - long before the Democrats had to almost be dragged across the finish line this year. And weren't the "racist" Republicans trying to get that a-hole, Colin Powell, to run long before anybody else thought such a thing was possible? Now how did that happen?

Yes, folks, I'm watching and keeping track of the whole ugly sordid mess you call a political party - and you hate it. I think the fact that I'm black even makes it worse because, lets face it, I'm supposed to be resting in your pocket.

Sorry guys, but I don't practice "spin" as you do. I don't look at murder and say "it's all about how you look at it." I don't hear Democrats saying they want to drag the United States through a Civil War - unknowingly saying the want me killed and the nation destroyed (because they're racists, against whites, who thought a black person is "safe") and just turn the other cheek. Would it be a "righteous killing" to get them first?

You're damn skippy.

And yea, Steve, it would count - big time - just not in any way you would understand. But, then, I wonder if you can understand anything at all at this point. It's all just a bunch of questions to you, but as I said recently in a post, asking questions is easy - any three year old will start in with "why?" - but it's coming up with answers that's hard. Didn't your old man ever tell you that? I wonder what he'd make of the stuff you're saying - and "defending" - now?

I think he'd be mighty disappointed.

Elizabeth said...

CMC, so your answer to my question...

Do you think it is OK to kill those who disagree with your truth (or THE Truth, as the case here may be)?

...is YES (unless I missed something in your wordy response).

Is that correct? (Simple yes or no will suffice.)

RevRon's Rants said...

"The only thing the nation has said it wants Obama to lead us out of is the economic mess - our values are still firmly in place"

Actually, the nation has said it wants a president who is competent, intelligent, and capable of working for the country, rather than his patrons... something we haven't had in some time. And those highly-touted but rarely manifest "values" have been exposed for the sham that they are, and replaced with *real* values. You just can't see it yet.

"Sorry guys, but I don't practice "spin" as you do."

Obviously! You definitely have your own way of practicing "spin." Unfortunately, it would appear you've been spinning a bit too long. Reminds me of a game we used to play as kids, where we'd whirl around until we got so dizzy we'd fall down. I guess the game never lost its appeal for some folks. :-)

BTW - Your frequent attempts to make race a pertinent factor are ludicrous - an obvious last-ditch effort to manipulate agreement with a perspective not supported by logic and facts. Race wasn't a factor in the vast majority of voters' decisions. Competence and integrity were. But Jesse and Al would be proud of you for striving to keep their struggle (read: meal ticket) alive.

ver word: unsabl :-)

The Crack Emcee said...

Elizabeth:

A simple yes or no would be accepting your premise - that I'd advocate death for merely disagreeing with me - which ain't what I said. There were a whole slew of confused and ugly ideas thrown out by Democrats in this last election - many that they want others to forget (like all the lying and threats) as they try to spin their way to looking noble now - but it's all part of a whole, if you're not part of the cultish mindset, so:

If Democrats are saying openly - along with all their other nonsense - they wanted to kill Republicans (in a Civil War, etc.) then yes, it's O.K. to kill them first. That's what war is about, isn't it? And the rest of us are supposed to do *what* in the face of that? Tell you how wonderful you are?

I ask you, again, in siding with such a jumble of nastiness - what's to like?

Elizabeth said...

Sorry, CMC, but it seems to me that you are backpedaling a bit here. In that TMR post I quoted, you advocate lining "us" (i.e. SHAMblog posters who disagreed with you) against the wall and shooting us.

You say this is an expression of your frustration. I get that, that you were frustrated. But if one's expressed response to frustration is the wish to kill people who disagree with him, then what does that say about the person? No, really?

I think 6-year-olds arguing over a toy may say, "I'll kill you!" and not really mean it -- and they can be forgiven for it; but when a grown man says that he wants to personally execute people who disagree with him, and, what's more, announces it publicly, it has a different weight, as I'm sure you can imagine. (And if you can't, then put these words in the mouth, oh, I don't know, maybe Bill Clinton, and see what reaction you'd experience in response.)

I dunno, CMC, I've been trying to see merit in your arguments -- and there may be merit in them still -- but all I hear from you lately is hatred and bitterness.

I'm sure you'll say your bitterness is justified, for you've been so wronged, by your wife, by her "doctor," your (and her) ex-friends, etc. I get that. I really do.

What I don't get -- and what puts me off, immensely -- is the hatred in your words. (And no, not everyone reacts with hatred to being wronged. Especially such hatred that spills over onto people who have had nothing to do with inflicting those personal wounds on you.) It is poisonous, to others, but most clearly to you (which I'm sure you'll disagree with). And you not only seem oblivious to it, but appear to relish and cultivate it. I don't know why, I don't understand it (and your "explanations" do not make it any more clear, to be sure). But I know that it is too much for me personally to absorb, and this is the reason why I think I'll have to excuse myself from these exchanges, especially when they veer toward politics (at least until the hatred you express goes down).

Call it what you must, but I have only a limited supply of energy to get me through the day, and using it on deflecting (disarming, absorbing, whatever) other people's hatreds is not the best strategy for its (already problematic) management. Pragmatically speaking.

roger o'keefe said...

Can I just ask quickly in the midst of a busy Monday, who is demonizing who here? I see a tendency once again to attack Crack for his tone rather than dealing with the substance of what he writes. That's an easy way out and an unattractive one for this crowd.

Anonymous said...

Roger, do you actually read what the man writes or do you merely sympathize because his politics are in line with yours? There's a difference between a real idea and raw fury that's dressed up as an idea. It's like the difference between Martin Luther King and the Black Panther Party. They may share some goals that sound similar but one is sincere while the other is seething with racial hatred. Or looking at it the other way, it's the same reason why so many NASCAR fans support conservative causes, because those causes also happen to fall inline with the racism that drives a lot of rednecks. They may say the same things but you have to look at the motivations behind them.

The Crack Emcee said...

Roger,

That's been a peeve of mine for some time:

NewAgers have adopted a wonderful "tone" to advocate for the ugliest ideas I've ever encountered - and, let me tell you, I've encountered some pretty ugly stuff in my life.

It may be hard to believe, but I don't throw words like "cultism" or "fascism" around lightly. But these are at the root of what certain groups are demanding - and NewAge is a collection of groups, working Al Qaeda-like, both together and independently - and it's their capacity to ignore rational arguments that's the core of their power. As long as they focus on delivery - and demanding everyone adopt their behavior is part of the process of cultish control - then they think they can disarm others. That's part of why (no matter how I may behave offline) I've adopted The Macho Response as my handle online: behavior that's just as ruthless as theirs - even more so, actually - seems like all they respect. So I will not be nice, kind, gracious - whatever - because any sign of that is taken as weakness. And they prey on the weak - especially the weak-minded. I think they do it that way because that's what worked on them, if they ever put up a fight at all.

BTW - I'm happy to report I was just contacted by the French authorities and things don't look good for my ex-wife and her "Homeopathic Doctor". They tried to get the charges dropped and were denied in a manner that indicates they'll probably get the book thrown at them.

The next hearing takes place in mid-December.

Anonymous said...

'I see a tendency once again to attack Crack for his tone rather than dealing with the substance of what he writes.'

Substance? What substance?

Anyone looking for substance in these personal and paranoid rantings will be putting their own sanity in jeopardy.

The Crack Emcee said...

Anon 1:07:

I've met my share of "rednecks" and it's funny but, for a bunch of racists, we almost always end up sharing beers. I'd say the reason for that is because I'm not a Leftist - I'm not on the side of the Black Panthers nor choose to see them as the other - I'm an American and they get that. I think it's Leftists, by not being willing to examine their beliefs, that can allow themselves to say such racist things about other Americans. I mean, I like MLK and all, but let's be honest: he liked white girls as much as he did public speaking - so did the Panthers - so, yea, they certainly did "share some goals" but, ultimately (as with much of Leftist ideology) it was rooted in hypocrisy - with a lot of adultery, and other assorted socially-destructive BS thrown in. From where I sit, when Coretta Scott King died in a Mexican quack's "alternative medicine" clinic (that may have been suggested by Oprah) it was just frosting on the whole under-baked cake.

I'm the one left wondering about the motivations of people who are willing to throw away their ideals - and common sense - to adopt such a ends-justifies-the-means mentality as the NewAge Left does. It's positively ruthless, and yet (this is the amazing part:) they actually think it'll, somehow, come off as attractive to everyone if they only dress it up in pastels. Remember: my introduction, to the true flavor of all this, started in murder. Now here you come with racism against whites you don't agree with - which fits *perfectly* with the bogus racial charges that propelled Obama into the White House. Why, the way I see it, every aspect of this era (alternative medicine, racial obsessions, political hypocrisy, etc.) can find parallels in Nazi Germany.

So I say, if you're going to be fascists, then be fascists - but take note, hippies, because there's one aspect you're missing in the making-world-domination-attractive canon:

The Nazis knew how to dress.

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger - Please explain how calling people who disagree "idiots" or "children" (as opposed to crack's self-proclaimed maturity) is an example of tone, as opposed to substance. Or how rationalizing the desire to kill anyone who frightens him or longing for the day when an entire generation dies is acceptable behavior. Perhaps it would serve you well to read - and actually consider Anon 1:07's take on your responses. Or Elizabeth's on-the-money comment at 12:11.

Crack's comments are consistent with those of a social contrarian - especially given his choice to participate so aggressively in a forum that focuses upon reasoned discussion such as this one. Not to exchange ideas, mind you, but to preach, berate, and to vent his hatred. I would suggest that the negative responses he gets are exactly what he's seeking.

The Crack Emcee said...

Anon 1:32:

"Anyone looking for substance in these personal and paranoid rantings will be putting their own sanity in jeopardy."

You forget - Leftists are arguing there's nothing that can be really known - so it's actually insanity that's being put in jeopardy.

And I'd say being crazy is a pretty decent thing to give up.

Steve Salerno said...

It occurs to me that there's a genuine question here that we're dancing around (and that Roger overlooks altogether), concerning whether tone is substance in some very basic, McLuhanistic way. The most handy example here is that even some of George W.'s most tireless defenders recently have confessed that they regretted the overtones of such early post-9/11 Bushisms as "bring it on," "smoke 'em out" and that whole gunslinger dialect/dialectic. It was simply too provocative and "we're the effin-United States of America"-ish (for want of a better descriptor). And anyone who has raised kids knows that they often respond to you more in terms of the way you say something than in terms of the literal meanings of the words you use. (At the same time, if you constantly scream at kids, especially without following up, after a while it doesn't matter what you actually say: They've learned to tune you out, and your words henceforth have no meaning at all.)

Point being, I think it's a mistake to set up any bright-shining-line dichotomy between tone and substance, especially when dealing with provocative issues. Humans--being human--are never going to interpret language solely as if they were optical scanners, absorbing only the purest word meanings without noting the subtext or larger emotional context. Right?

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve,

You miss the point:

What I'm saying is never addressed at all - it always comes back to tone here. I can give you arguments, links - anything - and it always comes back to how I say it. If I wasn't so used to that approach it would be one thing but I was married to a NewAger so I know it too well.

Roger makes the correct argument: address the issues. Did Barack Obama lie in this election? Yes. Then why are you supporting him? Did he have Oprah Winfrey as his biggest supporter (who you have a kind of "Oprah Watch" thingy on your site about?) Yes. Then how can you support him? Was there massive media bias in this election? Yes. Then, as a journalist, how can you join it - or keep quiet about it?

Pointing a finger at anyone who sees the (rampant) hypocrisy doesn't make it go away.

Anonymous said...

Crack, people have repeatedly addressed your questions and comments in their substance. Many times over. Unfortunately, unless someone agrees with your ideas, you do not acknowledge legitimacy of their views and continue to press your points more aggressively and complain then that people ignore you or your substance.

In reality, people can address your points until they are blue in the face, but if you do not agree with their POVs, you feel like they ignored you. Apparently you are only going to be satisfied when others admit you are right.

Let me tell you: We, as much as I can speak for some bloggers here, do hear you, loud and clear. We just disagree with you. Can you understand that?

Elizabeth said...

Tone is substance, you're right, Steve.

And it's a no-brainer, IMO. Tell somebody
I love you through clenched teeth and with clenched fists and see how they respond. Or better yet, imagine someone saying it to you in such a way.

OTOH, you can call someone a moron with a twinkle in your eye and they will not be offended.

Our tone, and other non-verbal behaviors, show our real attitudes, despite our efforts to deny, mask or minimize them. That's the first thing we notice and the last (and usually the only) thing we remember about any interactions with other human beings.

Many of those non-verbal cues are lost in e-mails, but that's perhaps an added reason to choose our words with greater care.

As a friend of mine said, "I don't remember now, in my 60's, what people said to me throughout the years, but I remember how they treated me."

Anonymous said...

"Roger, do you actually read what the man writes or do you merely sympathize because his politics are in line with yours?"

Anon 1:07 you hit the nail on the head!

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 2:57: That is a very wise comment; I dare say, one of more succinctly wise comments to appear on the blog in a while. I also have to say, it has much wider relevance than you probably intended. It's something that each of us should read several times and reflect on, not just with respect to Crack, or even our larger discourse on SHAMblog, but life as a whole.

Many a failed marriage could've been saved...

Anonymous said...

"Anon 2:57: That is a very wise comment; I dare say, one of more succinctly wise comments to appear on the blog in a while. I also have to say, it has much wider relevance than you probably intended. It's something that each of us should read several times and reflect on, not just with respect to Crack, or even our larger discourse on SHAMblog, but life as a whole."

I agree Steve, but ironically enough, that succinct comment will be lost on the very audience it could help.

The Crack Emcee said...

It certainly will because saying it doesn't make it so - it doesn't to me or Roger. Are we both, as different as we are, insane? Or are you guys - who are arguing that no one can know anything?

Take this bit from Elizabeth:

"And the majority of people who are "open-minded" to those unlikely ideas are the same ones who rail like nobody's business against a belief in Jesus - while registering no sense of hypocrisy what-so-ever.

I hear ya, CMC. But what about those who are open-minded to "those unlikely ideas" of religion (y'know, resurrection, virgin birth, blood into wine, etc.) but rail like nobody's business against CAM, while registering no sense of hypocrisy whatsoever, huh?"

Now, is she actually addressing my point of hypocrisy by libs as they attack religious folk (other than to say "I hear ya") or is she just turning it into another platform for her, a liberal, to once again attack religious folk? She's not dealing with my point. She's highjacked it to act out the very thing I'm complaining about: liberals not dealing with their hypocrisy. There is absolutely no reason for her to say what she's said. But, being a liberal, she feels no need to do what a respectful person would do: analyze her own biases. She'd rather be disrespectful and ignore me to do it again.

That's not dealing with anything I said - that's bypassing it for her agenda. As Joe Biden famously said:

That's not change - it's more of the same.

And the fact the rest of you can't see that - and actually think that IS addressing my issues - shows you're just as blind. That's why I use the word "cult" so much: you guys are your own cheer leaders. It doesn't matter if you make any sense or not - because YOU DON'T CARE if you make sense. You care about the safety of the group.

And, like a cult, you'll do anything to protect that. Roger, who comes across as a pretty reasonable guy, tells you you're acting unseemly - even without my histronics (sp) - and how do you react? By continuing to act unseemly. It's like reflection is beyond the liberal mind. It's like talking with The Borg. Nothing can get through. You can talk nice - nothing. You can scream - nothing. Youn refuse to entertain any idea other than "Don't you dare, Crack, talk like YOU can know anything!"

I got news for you guys:

We put two probes on Mars, and it took a lot of knowledge to put 'em there, too. Not only did they put them there, but they pin-pointed where they would land and everything, millions of miles away. So don't go telling me we can't, or don't, know stuff - for sure - because everything that went into that happening: from getting up and brushing their teeth to blast-off and beyond is the result of what we know, for sure, so far.

It's an undeniable fact: we know things, for sure, and we don't have to be "humble" about it.

Steve Salerno said...

You know, Crack, I would've spiked this comment--and just so you also know, it's doubtful that I'll run any further comments from you that spew more of that same (projected?) tripe about cults and such, as if we're some monolithic blogosphere analog of the Taliban who's just trying to "keep the man down" (to trot out another expression from my 70s heritage in NYC). But I decided to approve this comment because once again, it is remarkably effective at illustrating how reliable and diligent you are at (a) missing the point and (b) overlooking your own faults and foibles.

You know damned well that when I talk about the ambiguity of life, I'm talking about moral truths, not apparent clinical-level facts. Let us remember that this post began as an argument against healthcare that's based on spirituality rather than documented medical fact.

Yes, we put probes on Mars. That same technical wherewithal developed nuclear weapons. Those are facts, or appear to be, so far as we can ascertain with the sensory apparatus we've been given.

But are those good things? Is it good to have nuclear weapons and probes on Mars? Was that the most judicious use of the funds that went into those projects? Don't tell me you have a hard-and-fast answer to those questions, Crack, because no one does. No one knows whether even the most seemingly unambiguous moral "truths" are truths at all. Example: An adorable little boy on his way to school is kidnapped, thrown in the back of a van and chopped to pieces while he's still wide awake and alert. Is that a tragedy? Are you sure? What if the little boy is named Adolph and it's turn-of-the-century Germany? And here's the thing: That case will be prosecuted with outrage and great moral fervor, and the perpetrator will be vilified forevermore, because no one realizes that the little boy, had he grown up, was destined to cause unimaginable suffering.

Which is not to say World War II was an unambiguously bad thing, either. We simply don't know. Would World War III be a bad thing if it wiped out 90% of the human race and we had to start over? Who knows? Is something bad just because it hurts you and the people you love? That's awfully short-sighted.

When bad things happen, we are going to react as humans, or maybe even at the reptilian-core level, as subhumans. If someone hurts the people I care about--despite all I've said here--I am going to react as a man and be furious, homicidal. I am probably even going to find or fabricate reasons why--in this one case of the person who hurt my family--all of this philosophizing doesn't apply. But big-picture, it is wrong, I think, to take such emotional, personal reactions and elevate them to the level of universal truths. The anger I feel at the person who hurts me and my family is not--morally and intellectually--justified. That won't stop me from feeling it and perhaps even acting on it. But it should stop me from arguing for its intellectual validity.

Anonymous said...

I'll wade here at the end, if I may, just to ask Steve, how he thinks about Anon 2.57's comment in terms of SHAM. How do you feel writinf reams to show people how silly they are in believing nonsense only to be told "that's nice but I don't believe you" or "yes,but you just don't get it". Doesn't it make you want to scream? I guess thats what CMC and Roger feel.

Anonymous said...

"feels no need to do what a respectful person would do: analyze her own biases"

That's priceless, coming from you, Crack. Have you *ever* analyzed your biases? There no evidence of it on this blog. Before you start lecturing people on respectful behavior, you need to take a good look at your own. And don't use Roger as your crutch and savior. Speak for yourself, without resorting to splitting others into hostile groups.

To Steve: this is disturbing. I wonder if there is a point in turning your blog into a forum for paranoid rants of evidently disturbed individuals?

Steve Salerno said...

But see, Anon (7:20), I reject the equivalence you seem to be proposing. Anon 2:57 was simply saying, "We have the right to disagree with what Crack and Roger are saying, and that doesn't make us monsters or imbeciles." Anon 2:57 was not insisting that Crack and Roger embrace what (most of) the rest of us have come to believe; he (or she) simply wanted to be granted the right to believe differently from them. I'm reminded of the folks who propose an equivalence between us and Al Qaeda. Now, I don't know who's right or wrong in the larger sense, but I do know that from a pragmatic, why-can't-we-all-get-along sense, there is one very important difference between us and them: We say, "You can believe whatever you want to believe as long as you don't hurt others." They say, "Believe what we believe...or we'll kill you." Maybe it's just me, but that strikes me as meaningful.

As for my book, look, I knew going in that I wasn't going to sway very many people. The commitment to SHAM (and that kind of thinking) runs very deep; it's part of people at a level that even they can't really identify or isolate. But at least, if nothing else, I had evidence on my side. I compiled lots of facts in writing my book, and though there were places where I couldn't connect all the dots and had to "reach" for my conclusions, I think I'd win any debate that was rooted in facts and not sentiment or artifice. Notwithstanding my truly crappy performance on Anderson Cooper than one time....

Steve Salerno said...

To Anon 7:21: Normally I would have censored your comment, but you speak for a number of individuals who have contacted me off-blog as well. I thought I was doing a decent job of keeping the conversation "civil" this time around (within the context of some very heated feelings here on both sides). I'll be rethinking that today.

RevRon's Rants said...

"How do you feel writinf reams to show people how silly they are in believing nonsense..."

I can only speak for myself, but if I offer an idea and its logic and premise is pretty universally dismissed, I would at least consider that those dissenting perspectives just might have some validity worthy of my consideration. Even if I feel defensive in the face of such feedback, I would hope that I'm not so delusional as to cling to a belief that I am 100% right while everyone else is 100% wrong, or so megalomaniacal or threatened by challenge that I would feel the need to deride those who challenge my opinions.

Bottom line is that this forum is much like any other gathering, provided as a place where people are able to exchange ideas and perspectives in an effort to share and learn. When a participant's primary motivation is to teach everyone else the error of their ways and to belittle anyone who disagrees, learning becomes impossible, and as Steve has previously said, the well becomes poisoned.

Elizabeth said...

Doesn't it make you want to scream?

It certainly can be frustrating when you believe that you possess The Truth and others don't see it this way. So scream if you must, why not. But screaming any louder will not accomplish your goal (if your goal is to convince others of your truth). And screaming more aggressively will certainly accomplish the opposite -- turn others away and off to your POV.

There is a point in a debate between adults when one has to recognize the right of the other to see things differently, as stunning as it may be to acknowledge. And, as Steve has mentioned, seeing things differently does not make you an idiot or a monster. You may even be wrong, by a number of measurable criteria (ignoring tangible evidence, etc.), but it does not make you a monster.

What does, however (or comes dangerously close to making one a monster), is the egocentric fundamentalism of perception and thought that makes you believe that it is MY WAY -- or annihilation, for those who do not accept MY WAY as THE WAY.

It is an interesting development here, on SHAMblog, of all places, that we hear such fundamentalist voices, advocating death to those who disagree with the speaker's agenda. Cultish is as cultish does -- and it does not get any more dangerously cultish than insisting on obliterating, physically, those who do not agree with you. It smacks of the worst examples of fundamentalism from our history (Stalin, and al-Qaeda come to mind, to mention just two).

And yes, to tie in with Steve's next (next) post (on two wrongs not making a right), Stalin was firmly convinced that he did all the right things. So are the members of al-Qaeda and any other terrorist groups. That kind of certitude is a hallmark fundamentalist terror.

RevRon's Rants said...

"There is a point in a debate between adults when one has to recognize the right of the other to see things differently..."

Eliz, I'd take it a step further and state that it isn't merely a "point" in a debate between adults, but an essential element. Refusing to acknowledge that element, one ceases to be an adult. Eliminating that element ends the debate. Believing that such an approach will actually sway others to one's viewpoint is a true sign of idiocy.

I've disagreed with Steve - strongly - on any number of occasions, yet don't think him any more unbalanced than when I first arrived at his blog (We won't get into that Determinism thing). :-) And you & I have butted heads a number of times as well, but it would never occur to me to think of you as an idiot, much less, call you one. Of course, it goes against both my hard-wiring and my upbringing to call a lady - especially an attractive one - derogatory names (unless that's what she likes, of course!) :-)

Anonymous said...

Stalin was firmly convinced that he did all the right things. So are the members of al-Qaeda and any other terrorist groups. That kind of certitude is a hallmark fundamentalist terror."

As did Hitler, so CMC is not alone in believing his ideology is the only one that matters.

Steve Salerno said...

yet [I] don't think him any more unbalanced than when I first arrived at his blog....

Hmmm. I'm not sure how to take that, Rev. Are you saying I was nuts when you found me? ;)

Steve Salerno said...

Stalin was firmly convinced that he did all the right things. So are the members of al-Qaeda and any other terrorist groups.

Yes...but let's not fall into the trap of assuming that the people we opposed are--by definition--the misguided ones. We believe what we believe, as Americans. That doesn't make us right--even though I believe it firmly, and would fight to the death to defend my family against terrorism, should it come to that.

Elizabeth said...

Yes...but let's not fall into the trap of assuming that the people we opposed are--by definition--the misguided ones. We believe what we believe, as Americans. That doesn't make us right--even though I believe it firmly, and would fight to the death to defend my family against terrorism, should it come to that.

Steve, I'd say it's not as much about being right or wrong as about allowing others to live with their truth (or idiocy, as it may be). I actually think that some of Stalin's ideas were right, by my standards (and it is possible that some of al-Qaeda's are likely right as well, gasp). But I would strongly object to those people's desires to impose their ideas on others by threat and/or force. It's not as much about being right or wrong, as it is about not killing each other because of our differences.

I think we all are prone to believing that those who espouse values and ideas contrary to our own are misguided. That's the way it is. The problems arise when we decide to impose our beliefs on others: make them see The Truth -- or else. Say, I could consider someone misguided, or an idiot, for believing what they do. And I fully assume others could consider me both (a misguided idiot). And that's OK, as long as we are willing to let each other live with our respective idiocy (and as long as it does not threaten the actual existence of the other).

When, however, we start to call for shooting people who disagree with us, that's a different ballgame, so to speak. Call me an idiot, why not; but do not advocate killing me just because I disagree with you. Is that too much to ask?

P.S. The verif word is "brics"... :)

Elizabeth said...

Eliz, I'd take it a step further and state that it isn't merely a "point" in a debate between adults, but an essential element.

You're right, Rev.

I've disagreed with Steve - strongly - on any number of occasions, yet don't think him any more unbalanced than when I first arrived at his blog.

Reassuringly perhaps (or not!), neither do I.;)

Of course, it goes against both my hard-wiring and my upbringing to call a lady - especially an attractive one - derogatory names (unless that's what she likes, of course!) :-)

Of course. (Thank you kindly, btw.) And of course there is a whole list of names we could call each other, but idiot is not among them, I agree. Unless said with that twinkle in the eye. ;)

Oh, ain't it lovely to agree on something, even just once? Warm fuzzies all around. :)

Elizabeth said...

Hmmm. I'm not sure how to take that, Rev. Are you saying I was nuts when you found me? ;)

Steve, I think, if I may, that Rev is saying that you are not any more nuts than you were in the beginning.;) Which is a decidedly good thing. A very good thing, the way I read it. Not only for you, Steve, but for all of us. Really. :)

P.S. Of course leaving the whole determinism thing aside.

Steve Salerno said...

Well wait a minute, Eliz. Is your "agreement" with Ron rooted in the fact that both of you think you're attractive? ;)

Elizabeth said...

Is your "agreement" with Ron rooted in the fact that both of you think you're attractive?

No, Steve, that's just a given -- yanno, one of those life givens.*

I just happen to agree with Ron's ideas here (strange as it may seem). We actually do agree on many points (but don't tell anyone!). Not a perfect harmony, but, hey, at least we do not advocate shooting each other (I hope).

*LMAO

roger o'keefe said...

For what it's worth I'll add my voice to the chorus singing Elizabeth's praises. I hope you will recall I first brought this up during the other day's discussion of Cheryl Ladd. So I believe I deserve at least a small portion of the credit now being so generously heaped on Ron.

On that same theme, what ever did become of our Alyssa?

My verif word is "ovellate". Discretion demands that I make no further comment.

Anonymous said...

"Yes...but let's not fall into the trap of assuming that the people we opposed are--by definition--the misguided ones. We believe what we believe, as Americans."

I would go a bit further and state that is one of the misconceptions of Bush II. One of his big selling points, of the war in Iraq, was the freeing of its deziens. He wanted to give them democracy and protect us from weapons of mass destruction. Why is democracy being pushed down everyone's throat, except the countries the U.S. likes?

Who states democracy works for everyone? Us (Americans)? If that is the case, why are we not freeing the citizens of Saudi Arabia? They are under a monarchy. Maybe what we have in the United States does not work the world over. Just a thought.

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger - If it makes you feel any better, you did get a pat on the head on a conspicuously absent commenter's blog... unnamed, but clearly implied. :-)

While I didn't sing Connie's praises in this thread, I think I've been pretty clear in my admiration for some time (You can put down that skillet now, darlin'!). And if I complimented Eliz as much as I've disagreed with her, the scuttlebutt would be deafening! :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

"Maybe what we have in the United States does not work the world over. Just a thought."

And a thought that those responsible for crafting US foreign policy would do well to consider. Iraq as a unified nation - much less, a unified one - is a pipe dream of western ideologies, unworkable in a culture steeped in centuries of tribal rivalries and warfare. T. E. Lawrence had keen insight into the Arab mind. Too bad our State Department didn't see fit to learn a thing or two from him.

RevRon's Rants said...

Oops... should have said, "much less, a democratic one."

It's hell getting old...

Elizabeth said...

For what it's worth I'll add my voice to the chorus singing Elizabeth's praises.

Now we're talking! I like where this thread is going. See? Isn't it so much more pleasant than arguing about That One and other unresolvable issues? Let's just turn it into Eliz Worship Blog (not too subtle, no?) -- and my enormous vanity just may be satisfied. For a while. (Talk about Sham-blog then!:)

So I believe I deserve at least a small portion of the credit now being so generously heaped on Ron.

Of course, Rog, you deserve credit here as well. Absolutely. Quite apart of that already bestowed on you on that other blog Rev's has mentioned. ;)

Ah. And now the circle of warm fuzzies is (almost) complete.

All joking aside, you should start a dating site, Steve. Obviously there is a demand. LOL.

Elizabeth said...

Who states democracy works for everyone? Us (Americans)? If that is the case, why are we not freeing the citizens of Saudi Arabia? They are under a monarchy. Maybe what we have in the United States does not work the world over. Just a thought.

Good points, Anon. But I also think that much of our talk about "spreading democracy" is just a pretty cover-up for less noble goals and motives. That's, btw, why we are careful not to "spread democracy" to Saudi Arabia -- because we (i.e. our political establishment) don't really give a damn.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, I think you have to rethink this notion of not shooting anyone who doesn't believe what you believe. I would have no problem shooting a modern day dictator like Mugabe - not because I don't know that another tyrant won't take his place but because if I do nothing then I am silently agreeing with his views and allowing the wholesale destruction of a once beautiful country and starving people to death.

Shooting people because of differing views is a part of life - fortunately - otherwise we would be under dictators.

But I say this under the delusion that I think its wrong to starve people and its not the way it should be - but the truth is that maybe its exactly how it should be.

Who knows?

Elizabeth said...

Anon 8:13, I see your point. And I agree, too.

But there is a difference, I'd say, between attempts to remove a tyrant who wreaks death and destruction on others, and advocating death for people who simply disagree with our ideas but do not harm anyone and go about living their lives in peace (and do not force their views down your throat).

The latter is exactly what makes one a tyrant (or a tyrant-wanna-be, or a terrorist).

RevRon's Rants said...

"Shooting people because of differing views is a part of life - fortunately - otherwise we would be under dictators."

This bears the question of who would be given the responsibility - and the authority - to decide who needs to be shot. Given our obvious inability to be completely objective in our determinations, any decision would inevitably be tainted by individual agendas.

On the other hand... I felt early on that if the government was hell-bent on regime change in Iraq, for instance, it would have been preferable to do so via surgical operations, such as small assassination teams with specific and limited targets, preferably carried out by non-western agents. Still poor policy in my book, but at least the scope of the ops would be limited, and collateral damage kept to a minimum. Regime change effected by not only killing the leaders but destroying the target country's infrastructure is not only immoral, it is profoundly inefficient, laced with long-term, serious repercussions such as we're only now beginning to realize and acknowledge.

Anonymous said...

"small assassination teams with specific and limited targets,"

The obvious solution for the man in the street, i.e. most of us.

As unthinkable for the political classes now as it was for monarchs in history for the simple reason that assasination of heads of state by opposing heads of state cannot be sanctioned because it undermines the perceived sanctity of all heads of state. Every head of state is acutely aware that if he openly sanctions political assassination of another head of state, he will very shortly be having a grisly meeting an assassin himself-----so much safer and more sensible to send thousands of poor young men to die on the battlefield.
Cynical? Moi?

Berko Wills said...

As someone who has been taking a natural-based bee product for over fifteen years with an astounding rate of success, I don't feel inclined to wrassle with the non-believers on this.

I am keenly interested in the debate about objective truth and I do take Crack Emcee's opinions seriously - I admire his pursuit of rationality at all costs - that's what brought me here.

Where CMC is in error, and this defines his blog pretty much, is in equating all Leftists with a morally subjective unaccountable and hypocritical New Age. The reams of newsprint of socialist alliance groups that exhibits not even the whisper of whimsy, it's all to grim purpose, has had no apparent effect on his viewpoint. Nor have the views of various anarcho-syndicalists/pacifists/feminists etc. What exactly was indecisive and postmodern cultist about a "No Nukes" badge?!

That we see things through a different ideological lens only proves there is no moral absolute and it is our duty to dig deeper and at least find a position that brings us relative peace and prosperity.