Tuesday, October 16, 2012

But...But...But...We're In A Financial Crisis, Right?

Anytime anyone in a position of claims a "financial crisis" as the reason they're doing something, it's generally safe to assume they're full of shit. Or, if not completely full of shit, at least covering for some other priorities that aren't quite as palatable.

Take, for instance, the University of Minnesota.

Sorry, class sizes are going to have to increase. We're in a financial crisis.

Sorry, tuition's going to go up yet again. We're in a financial crisis.

Sorry, we can't recognize a union. We're in a financial crisis.

Sorry, we have to hire part-time adjuncts instead of actual faculty. We're in a financial crisis.

Oh, we need to pay out $800,000 to avoid playing a football team that might make out football team not look very good? No worries. Here's your money.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Conservative Hypocrisy and Social Science

Social sciences are something most conservatives don't like. Well, mostly they ignore them and all of the conclusions reached, probably because the scientific evidence is inconvenient to their worldview. Fair enough. We all do that to some extent. Though conservatives tend to go a bit further when actually discussing the social sciences, arguing either they should be defunded and discontinued, they're just bastions of liberal brainwashing, or they don't count as actual science because they can't be used to build missiles and the only point of science is to find better ways to kill people.

Put simply, most conservatives, and especially conservative politicians, are not big fans of the social sciences.

But what kills me about the conservative hatred of the social sciences is the rank hypocrisy of it. It reaches a level of "virulently anti-gay politician caught with meth-dealing gay prostitute" hypocrisy that conservatives don't have an exclusive claim to, but sure seem to have perfected.

You see, the conservative hatred of social sciences is actually quite akin to the conservative hatred of evolution -- they say they hate it, but they use it all the time when it actually applies to them. For example, I'm assuming most all of them are up-to-date on their vaccinations. But if you've ever been vaccinated, you believe in evolution (at least as it applies to your health). Because diseases change and mutate (dare I say, evolve?) and so too do the vaccinations and various drugs used to combat them. So if you truly didn't believe in evolution, you'd have to reject most of modern medical science.

But, you know, if you were to do that, it might actually effect you personally, so you just hypocritically ignore that.

Well, their attitude toward the social sciences is the exact same. If you've got the time, go read this awesome deadspin piece on how Frank Lutz, the top Republican innovator of social science, is helping the NHL owners attempt to control the story surrounding their lockout of players. Or read this piece about how Romney is using the ol' "dog whistle" racist terms conservative strategists long ago discovered had the power to let you make racist statements with enough plausible deniability built into them that you can claim you're not racist when people call you out about it.

The piece on Lutz is really the most informative, as it's such a great example of how conservatives claim to hate the social sciences, but will gladly spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on social scientific research if it will benefit them personally. In fact, the greatest irony of this is that conservative spin-masters like Lutz (muthafucka coined the term "death panels" so you know he's good) are not only using the social sciences, but innovating them in countless (albeit highly problematic) ways. Lutz and his counterparts more-or-less invented the concept of focus-group testing specific words and phrases to radically reshape public opinion, especially when conservatives need to sell the public on something they don't want.

And that's really the dictionary definition of hypocrisy -- saying something is horrible and backward and should be done away with, while privately using it yourself, because you know it works.

tl;dr: Conservatives are really hypocritical about this thing I care about and that's annoying.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How To Build Yourself An Enemy

You may have heard a few weeks ago about how some idiot made a crappy movie on youtube that insulted the prophet Muhammed. And then in reaction to that, a bunch of people in Libya rioted, attacked an embassy, and killed several people.

All over a crappy youtube movie. What savages.

Except that narrative is utter and complete bullshit.

You see, if you pay attention to the date the attacks occurred, you might notice a date of some import. September 11th, to be exact. You know, a day which has been used a justification for the on-going slaughter of now in the millions of people in the Middle East. It's been used to justify killing people in Iraq (not at all responsible for the 9/11 attacks), Pakistan (not at all responsible for the 9/11 attacks), Syria (not at al responsible for the 9/11 attacks), Libya (not at al responsible for the 9/11 attacks), and  Afghanistan (marginally responsible for the 9/11 attacks at best).

Do you notice a theme there? Now suppose you lived in one of those nations. Do you think that maybe you might be a little upset over how the 9/11 attacks are being used as justification to murder and terrorize you, your family, your friends, and your countrymen? Especially since, you know, neither you, anyone you know, or even your government was in any way responsible for those attacks.

But this is a narrative that doesn't work in America. Because to understand this version of events (you know, the actual version of events), you have to be willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, the United States is in the wrong here. You'd have to admit that maybe, just maybe, people are right to be upset about seeing their families murdered and terrorized for no reason.

But this is something we absolutely cannot acknowledge in America, because America is right about everything ever all the time. So instead we desperately search for a why? Why could anyone be mad at us, the lovable dictator of the world?!? Everyone loves someone who constantly tells them do what to do and threatens to kill them (or actually does) for no particular reason, right? Right?!?

So we search for some proximal cause, no matter how ridiculous it is. So instead of being upset over the decade plus of terror, death, and destruction wrought by the war on terror, these savage idiots are upset over a movie.

Ha! What backward savages! They have no real complaints, they're just all blood-thirsty murderers who can't be reasoned with! 

Thus even people who normally don't care for murder or war will throw up their hands and say "what can you do? We need to fight them, because if they're insane enough to kill people over a movie, obviously they're too insane to be reasoned with."

Now, granted, the Obama administration has finally come clear, somewhat admitting they made up the whole story. But it doesn't matter, because the narrative is already out there, and we all know how effective back-page retractions are at pushing a good narrative out of the public imagination...

So, in case you missed it, a nice reminder that We're the good guys who have peace and reason on our side and are regrettably sometimes drawn into fighting because ignorant savages can't be reason with. They, on the other hand, are such ignorant savages that they kill people over an internet movie. Good riddance.