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The Standard for Terrorism: Fatalities – Paris, November 13, 130+ dead. Oregon…zero.

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Oregon Terror?  In Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, 130 people died. In Oregon, a bunch of fools have killed or harmed…zero. Yet some journalists are outraged that not enough in the media deem Oregon “terror.”

Last year, when I wrote about the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims for The Express Tribune Blogs, I revisited the definition of terrorism because the term is oft misused.

Victim of Terror – Bataclan, November 13, 2015

From my Chapel Hill article:  “Here’s the FBI’s definition of terrorism: ‘To intimidate or coerce a civilian population (or) influence the policy of a government./Violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, carried out for political purposes.’…”

Threat of Violence:  A case can be made that the Oregon folk are terrorists because they have threatened violence under the guise of self defense. This is a very liberal interpretation, all inclusive, and thus meaningless. Civilians are not involved, and there have been no victims.

Where are the victims?

My take at Express Tribune:  “Use of corrupted words relates to poor journalism and exhibit one is how the coverage of domestic controversy in the United States lacks rigid examination of facts, a fair analysis of both sides and proper context.

This is not only unique to underground blogs, but endemic in mainstream media as well, where the focus excessively becomes about the race and religion of those involved. While identity is important, it’s as important to adhere to a standard of objectivity when reporting on these issues.

This is evident in the first drama du jour of 2016 where Caucasian armed protestors have occupied a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon to protest government laws concerning land use and the incarceration of two farmers for setting fire to state-owned land.

The polemics are about the dynamics of controlled burns, property rights, and conservation laws, tied in with militia movements. Yet too many articles entail soft demagoguery, framing the issue as definitely one of race and terrorism. This creates a Sisyphean need to perpetually educate the public, proving to be a burden for journalists. Jesse Walker, dissecting Malheur at the Los Angeles Times, writes,…more

Written by Caleb Powell

January 18, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Tag, You’re Racist! Sir Charles Barkley vs. Ferguson

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Charles Barkley, Joe Scarborough, Louis Farrakhan, New Orleans Saint Benjamin Watson, witnesses, protestors, conservative and liberal journalists, the nation and world, even North Korea weigh in on Ferguson.

Who’s Right?

WORTHWHILE CAUSE: In 1955 Emmett Till, after flirting with a white woman, was abducted and burned. His murderers were acquitted.

Worthwhile Causes:  Racism used to be about slavery, Jim Crow, Rosa Parks, Emmet Tills, the Alabama church bombing, Civil Rights. However, looking at the Ferguson aftermath, it’s become a game of Tag, You’re Racist, it’s about “F the po-lice” and “burn this bitch down.”

Sheriff David Clarke: “But then some groups began to converge of the small town of Ferguson, Missouri, like vultures on a roadside carcass. Groups like the New Black Panther Party. People like Al Sharpton.”

The Left Splits:  Recently we had Bill Maher vs. Ben Affleck; now it’s Ferguson. We should agree rule of law, fairness, and justice are universal and worth fighting for. But Ferguson? Really? Charles Barkley’s independent voice has reason, and as to the left? Despite (or because of) the Al Sharpton-like jackbobs (check out Sheriff Clarke’s take), the left isn’t united:

Joe Scarborough (MSNBC):  “There are so many great people to embrace as heroes in the black community that deciding you’re going to embrace a guy who knocked over a convenience store, and then according to grand jury testimony, acted in ways that would get my children shot … that’s your hero? That’s the reason you want to burn down black businesses?”

WORTHWHILE CAUSE: Alabama – In 1963 four girls were murdered after white supremacists bombed their church.  In July of 2001, Thomas Blanton, Jr. (one of four accused) was sentenced to life in prison for the bombing.

Charles Barkley:  “There is no excuse for people to be out there burning down people’s businesses, burning down police cars. …We can’t pick out certain incidentals that don’t go our way and act like the cops are all bad…. Do you know how bad some of these neighborhoods would be if it wasn’t for the cops?”

CAUSE FOR OUTRAGE? A shoplifter and bully? A guy who, according to testimony before a Grand Jury, had gone after a cop?

Red Herrings:  The dog chases the fox, and someone throws a stinky fish to fool the dog. Generalities that divert from specifics, like this article, are red herrings: “What I did in Kenosha after the police killed my son” The wise dog ignores the misleading smell. Yes, racism has been part of society. Yes, racism is not over. Yes, police must be responsible. Yes, the big picture matters. But. As with media, society is addicted to red herrings. Ferguson is primarily about Wilson vs. Brown.

BENJAMIN WATSON:  “At some point while playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke out about the Ferguson decision…”

What We Know:  In August of 2014 Michael Brown shoplifts cigars, bullies a man, does not obey a cop, and is shot.

What the Grand Jury Heard:  Both sides. Black and white witnesses, forensics including 21 feet of blood splatter and bullet entry wounds.

BARKLEY:  “Scumbags.”

Crime: If Brown survived, he would have been charged with a felony.

What the Grand Jury Decided:  Not to indict.

The Media Fuels Ping-pong Prejudice:  If the media had shown both sides, this case would have died. Processing Ferguson incorrectly incites prejudice, giving bigots false reasons to hate the police, and giving bigots false reasons to perpetuate racism, and there are no good reasons to be prejudice. No one wins.

Agreement:  We should be against racism, police brutality, and mob violence. We should be for fairness. The media has failed, and so have many individuals. We must choose just causes, and the tragedy of Michael Brown is not one.

Department of Justice – DOJ Report on Shooting of Michael Brown
Washington Post – ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’ Was Built on a Lie
Washington Post – Testimony of witness 10
White Police Chief Indicted
Al Sharpton Hurting African Americans Nigel Innis, Black man who grew up in Harlem and saw two of his brothers murdered.
115 Police officers killed in line of duty in 2014
NYTimes – Surprising Evidence of Police Bias
Charles Mudede vs. Ben Shapiro
WSJ – The Myth of the Racist Cop

Written by Caleb Powell

December 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Notes: AWP in Seattle, Facebook Censorship, Londonistan, Prohibiting Homosexuality,and Mental Health Quacks

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Above Photo and site censored by Facebook (There are worse examples)

 “In the past 30 years, officials of the Iranian regime and its apologists have labeled criticism, especially with regard to women’s rights, as anti-Islamic and pro-Western, justifying its brutalities by ascribing them to Islam and Iran’s culture.”Azar Nafisi

Kenan Malik vs. Melanie Phillips:  U.K. journalist Melanie Phillips, in Londonistan, writes, “Britain’s capital had turned into ‘Londonistan’ – a mocking play on the name of such state sponsors of terrorism as Afghanistan.” Thanks, Melanie, for making that clear.

Despite Phillips redundant over explanations (how’s that for a tautology?), she makes points, but her argument pushes the reader toward absolutist anti-Muslim bias. Keenan Malik, on the other hand, in From Fatwa to Jihad, avoids condescension and cogently warns about the dangers of coddling fundamentalists. WINNER – Malik

The Definition of Cowardice:  1) Absence of the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action. 2) Failure to act out of conviction because of fear.

The Danish Government and Mainstream Media are Riddled by Cowardice:  A while ago I posted Firoozeh Bazrafkan Convicted for Insulting Islam…in Denamrk? about the Iranian artist fined for “racism” by the Danish government, an act epitomizing intellectual cowardice.

Nick Cohen countered: Why can’t we admit we’re scared of Islamism? Let’s face it — we only challenge religions that won’t hurt us, and governments that won’t arrest us. He writes:  “I have argued many times that censorship is at its most effective when no one admits it exists. The first step to freeing yourself from oppressive power is to find the courage to admit that you are afraid. The more people confess to being afraid, the less reason there is to fear and the easier it is to isolate repressive forces.”

Exactly. It’s time for courage:  Abrahamaic religions all condemn homosexuality, but only a few advocate capital punishment:  There are 10 Countries Where Homosexuality is Punished by Death, including Yemen, Sudan, and Iran, but watch the West reduce Shariah influenced countries to footnotes as they focus on Uganda:  President Museveni signs controversial anti-gay law. Go after every country with the same vehemence, or go after  none.

A Reason to Question Mental Health “Experts”: This Seattle Times article Mom Gets 10 Years for Killing Infant: “Defense attorney Anna Woods asked for a 5-year sentence, saying the 22-year-old client suffers from a condition called Neonaticide Syndrome.”

Neonaticide is a syndrome? Next there will be Homicidal Tendency Syndrome and Rape Disorder Syndrome. Shrinks that come up with this crap should be banished, and lawyers who use the defense disbarred. But it gets worse: Affluenza Defense.

Seattle’s AWP Feb. 26 – March 1:  Controversy lurked as headlines ripped “AWP Bookfair not open to public.” Imagine paying $120 for the right to buy books. The AWP received complaints and diplomacy reigned:  Bookfair Opened. I’ll be making two AWP off-site events with David Shields discussing I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, at Hugo House Feb. 26 after 8 p.m., and Sole Repair Shop March 1 at 2 p.m.

Written by Caleb Powell

February 24, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Obama & Romney, Save Me from Your Followers!

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An acquaintance w/spouse who live in Hawaii sent a group Email this last weekend. Here goes:

Hi Guys,

Check out this interview with Penn JilletteI know some of you’ve watched his BS [Bullsh*t] series and he makes some interesting points.  He says there’s not much difference between Obama and Romney.  Also here’s a link to Gary Johnson’s website.  He was a two term republican governor of New Mexico now running as President under the Libertarian ticket.  To quote his website, “He has been an outspoken advocate for efficient government, lower taxes, winning the war on drug abuse, protection of civil liberties, revitalization of the economy and promoting entrepreneurship and privatization.”  His track record proves this.  Read on…

Hawaii doesn’t allow write-in candidates so we can vote for one of four or vote for no one.  So we researched the other candidates and Gary seems like a strong choice.  Sorry for bringing up politics but it’s hard to stay silent with such an important election Tuesday…

My response? Well, to quote Penn, “Bullshit!” Brief point/counterpoint analysis:

BS Point 1. “…there’s not much difference between Obama & Romney.”

BS Point 2.  “…we researched the other candidates. and Gary seems like a strong choice.”

BS Point 3.  “…Sorry for bringing up politics but it’s hard to stay silent…”

Counterpointing:  1.  Don’t tell me Obama and Romney are “the same.” Penn qualified this statement in the video, but some of his fans aren’t so sophisticated. Dems & Reps are polar way-the-fuck opposite on so many issues, and their candidates tilt toward their bases.  2.  Thank you very much for your expert “research.” Or better: “expert” research. 3.  We’re sorry, too.

Part of the game is trying to persuade others to vote for the person whom you feel is the strongest candidate. People sign up for social media, or vent on blogs, or message boards, and this is where polemics thrive. But geeeeez. Don’t forgive my “proselytizing” tone, but don’t be a proselytizing caterpillar and then apologize for it.

Should you vote Third Party? Maybe in Hawaii, where Obama’s victory is certain, but no 3rd Party candidate will garner over one percent of the vote this election. There’s a good reason for this. Voting 3rd Party gives voice to other philosophies, fair enough. However, there are only two choices…thus:

Obama & Romney, please save me from your followers. I think Obama and Romney are decent men, they mean well for the country, and have pros and cons. Yet I can’t understand how one side paints the other as evil. Obama is not a Muslim communist who wants to take your money and give it to heroin addicts. Romney is not a racist misogynist who only loves kleptocrats and billionaires.

My opinion? The Economist articulates a lot. Vote Republican or Democrat or even Third Party, make a respectable choice. This  sentiment underlies elections and democracy.

Intellectual Triage: Arguments Not Worth Having

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Intellectual Triage – Conspiracy theories waste thought. Usually ignorance is harmless, but not always. I’m curious and love polemics, but there must be triage when seeking new views. Here are some that should be quashed before considered.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories – This Popular Mechanic article nails it, dozens of the people cited have advanced degrees, knowledge of engineering, physics, chemistry, science; and authority. To sum up, 9/11 happened because assdumb terrorists led by Osama bin Laden and cohorts hijacked airplanes. To believe, say, in a Truther conspiracy, you need to explain how hundreds of necessary participants kept silent afterward. Not one whistleblower. Sure, there are complexities and incompetence, but 9/11 Truthers, whether they are the Saudi population (80% think the Jews did it), Militia Survivalists, or Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, should be ignored.

Holocaust Deniers – Enough said.

Aliens – Okay, there might be life on other planets, even advanced life, but to think aliens fly spacecraft with cloaking devices, land on earth, build pyramids, or kidnap humans, is ludicrous. Those who say they have met aliens are equal to those who saw incubus back in the 16th century. (Buy your UFO Detector here at Amazon, or just read the comments for a laugh)

Birthers – Overturn the “natural born citizen” law, then we could stop hearing from these birther doobs. See “Trump Supporters”

Ron Paul Followers –  Think birthers and truthers have a point.

Militia Survivalists – See Ron Paul. Preparing for…whatever.

Moon Landing – Van Allen Belt = Shman Allen Shmelt.

TrumpThe Jews! – People blame the Jews for everything. Geeeeez. As soon as someone mentions Zionist conspiracy et al, walk out of the room.

Trump Supporters:  In 2012 Donald J. Trump ran on the idea that Obama was born in Kenya. In 2016 he has exploited Conspiracy Paranoia and will go down as the Father of the Conspiracy Fuck Nut. (See NY Times:  “Donald J. Trump Pushes Conspiracy Theories

Vaccinations – These people, unfortunately, are not so harmless, because they keep disease alive. Yes, some vaccinations need to be questioned, but I’d rather believe a doctor than an Internet researcher. People should question authority, but sometimes authority means years of research and education. Belief in vaccination conspiracies assumes incredulous faith in anti-science. (See CDC data on pre-vaccination morbidity. Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease)

Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, claims that it takes 10,000 hours to attain expertise. To excel. Most engineers, doctors, etc., have been-there done-that. They understand epidemiology and structural engineering. Conspiracy nuts, on the other hand, do not. They spend minimal hours, say twenty (which to them is a lot), and then repeat thoughts until they become cement. This gives the nut the illusion of expertise. (You may say I’m being condescending to conspiracy nuts, I’d say I’m not being condescending enough.)

Existential questions, as opposed to universal, when they concern morality, should lead to doubt and wisdom. Certainty is possible, but rare. There are some universal moral precepts, and religions and secular humanism cover them: stealing, murder, etc, are wrong/kindness, tolerance, and love are good. But when confronting evil the questions become existential. What to do when a woman is raped and pregnant? Should we execute murderers? When should we go to war? The valid position is to remain uncertain, and this does not mean not to act. Decide with compassion and with foresight. Conspiracy theorists generally do not apply these basics to their reasoning.

Where stupidity flourishes, atrocity reigns. Luckily, in the U.S., most stupidity attains cult-like status, and the violence that results, whether from the Heaven’s Gate Cult, or the FLDS murders, is small scale. But what happens in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, North Korea, Nazi Germany, and beneath the Taliban, is the result of extreme stupidity torched by human indifference, fear, and evil. The 9/11 terrorists acted on similar stupidity and hate. The desire to question 9/11 might originate from a genuine concern to solve questions of suffering, but too often devolve into madness.

Freakspiracy Nuts:  Conspiracy Freaks, or F-Nuts, claim their “experts” know what they’re talking about. Whether “engineers” that validate 9/11, or “doctors” who discredit vaccines, F-Nuts trust these “experts” and pat themselves on the back for being skeptical, even though validated experts outnumber the F-Nut expert at ratios of over 1000 to 1. Skepticism is usually valid, especially when aimed at the F-Nuts.

UPDATE – PBS Documentary 9/11: Explosive Evidence, out soon, offers a sophisticated explanation. Director Richard Gage and his truther crew have had eleven years to find experts that validate their views. How much rehash? Can anyone say Kennedy conspiracy? Their argument will give truthers more juice to chase their dreams and decry world ignorance. Me? Intellectual triage, my friends, intellectual triage.

Seattle Times:  Why you should vaccinate your child / Slate: Unvaccinated People Cause Measles to Triple in 2013  Vox:  This one chart shows that the measles vaccine works Vice:  I Tricked Conspiracy Theorists Express Tribune:  Four vaccinators shot dead in Qetta Onion:  Conspiracy Theorist Has Elaborate Explanation for Why He’s Single

Also check out Metabunk, Gerson Therapy, and NeonNettle