Fallibility

At first I did blame him. You should say there is no loyalty if someone commits crime, but if someone didn’t, then you should not lie about people. Then one day I was so angry when they told me that a detainee lied about me. When I was tortured, I did not blame them anymore, because I was saying, “Wow. This is one way for Allah to show me that I am a weak person too.”

Mohamedou Slahi

Not weakness. Fallibility. Choosing life over death isn’t a weakness. He lied to save himself. He’s human.

Radiolab – The Other Latif: Episode 4 – February 25, 2020

This is episode four in a series from WNYC and Radiolab. Like most of my long-term listening podcasts, I’ve listened to every episode, even some that aren’t on the current podcast list. Since they don’t link the other episodes in the series, I will link them here.

If the only other person that had my name that I could find on Google had been a detainee at Guantanamo, I would have wanted to understand that RAnthony the way that Latif wants to understand this guy. There is a American football player who uses RAnthony the way I do. I wondered who that guy was who was more popular than me.

In the first four episodes we discover just how little evidence existed for why we took him prisoner in the first place. In episode five we go into the Upside Down (is it a movie reference instead of a Stranger Things reference? I wonder) and discover the other side of Abdul Latif Nassir. What did we do to him? What have we done to him in the eighteen years we have kept him locked up. Locked up without trial. Without charges. Without a justifiable reason other than that we wanted to hide away what we had done to him, and to the other detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

There will be an episode six as well.

Insanity Personified

There was a time in history when I was a devoted Dilbert follower. The Wife had just gotten a job at a local computer manufacturer, trapped in a cube farm, and Dilbert documented the problems of corporate workers trapped in cube farms everywhere. Working in an architecture firm that employed more than a few draftsman was itself much like corporate cube-farm dwelling, so I could identify with the comic about as well as she did.

Time moved on and we moved on, but Dilbert remained pretty much the same. Until it wasn’t the same. It was a gradual change, I had noticed that Dogbert seemed to speak with the author’s voice from early on in the comic’s run. This in itself wasn’t a problem, but, the character of Dogbert seemed to do it pretty frequently; and what Dogbert said was generally despicable, not the kinds of things that one is comfortable agreeing with whether they are true observations or not. But the real change to the comic occurred about the time that Scott Adams decided to update the look of the comic and took away Dilbert’s signature white shirt and tie. He started taking a lot of time off allowing guest artists to draw for him, and the humor of these artists definitely wasn’t the kind of humor I was willing to laugh at. So I gradually stopped reading the comic, finally ending my subscription about the time that he applauded the Orange Hate-Monkey’s (OHM) emergence on the presidential field. I really had no intention of polluting my mental sphere with someone so delusional as to think that Donald Trump needed to be anywhere near power.

Then the OHM won the presidency on a technicality. Three million more votes for Hillary Clinton couldn’t be legitimized as meaning that more Americans wanted her as president than wanted the OHM as president. The electoral college so painstakingly negotiated into the U.S. Constitution more than 200 years ago utterly failed to do the job intended, as I took pains to write about in The Electoral College Explained. Failed to respect the will of the majority of the American people for the second time in twenty years and advanced a demonstrably unfit man to lead the government of the United States. In November of 2016 Scott Adams penned this blog post,

You can still expect Trump to ignore any facts that don’t matter, such as the exact number of non-citizens that voted for Clinton. In that case he was making the press think past the sale (that non-citizens voted) and forcing them to spend time talking about the exact number until our brains uncritically accept his central premise that lots of non-citizens voted for Clinton. That is pure persuasion. He won’t change the methods that work. Watch and learn.

Scott Adams

In which he crystallizes the sentiment I expressed above. It doesn’t matter to Scott Adams that three million more people wanted Hillary Clinton as president because taking those discarded voices into account makes him wrong on the issue of the OHM, and he’s staked his reputation and persona on the OHM and his clever strategery that we average humans just can’t see. I wrote a reply at the time essentially accusing him of Kowtowing to power because he doesn’t want to end up in Gitmo, a reply that he promptly deleted, and I forgot all about it and him.

I forgot all about it and him until Sam Harris interviewed him for Waking up. Sam Harris titled that conversation Triggered, and I certainly was as well. I couldn’t finish listening to it, it bothered me so much. It was at that point that I started writing this article, resigning myself to having to listen to and then parse every single nutty-assed thing that Scott Adams said. About the time I was mentally ready to take on that task, Josh Zepps interviewed him for We The People Live! I’ve been following Josh’s work since discovering him hosting Point of Inquiry for the Center for Inquiry. Both Sam and Josh are interesting interviewers to listen to, and one of the reasons this is true is because they approach a conversation with their shields down. The downside of this approach is that they are frequently real-life examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect, in that they attempt to apply critical thinking on the fly in a discussion that they by definition know less about than the person they are talking to. Because of this they are sometimes lead down the proverbial garden path by their guests, and it takes a bit of critical thinking on the part of the listener to parse out just how the hosts have been fooled.

So now I’m on the hook for two interviews. Two interviews to parse and dissect and spend precious hours listening to carefully and doing the legwork to illustrate just how nuts Scott Adams is on display as being. That’s when the procrastination set in. July turned to August and then September. Now it’s November and I just can’t bring myself to spend that kind of time dissecting the thoughts of someone I quit caring about several years ago, and dismissed as irrelevant last year at about this time.

Lucky for me, I don’t have to spend that time after all. When I deleted the two podcasts from my queue and resolved to delete this post unfinished, I took a few minutes to look around and see if anyone else had noticed the insanity on display that I had noticed, and I stumbled across this article over on The Atlantic. The Atlantic is a publication that I only discovered recently, sad to say. It is sad because their authorship is top notch and their research generally in-depth and unimpeachable. The author of the article hits the nail on the head when he dismisses the defense of the OHM thusly,

“If Adams truly is the most formidable defender of the Trump presidency, then the best defense of the president is grounded in corrosive moral nihilism.”

The Atlantic

 He has a lot more to say about the Waking Up interview, but I’ll just point you to the article and leave it at that. I have family I have to reason with on this subject, plenty of real people to practice on without having to dissect the thinking of a total stranger. Procrastination does pay off on occasion and this is one of those occasions.

FFrF Radio: Webster Cook; Archive: Brian Flemming & George Daly

Podcast Link. July 19, 2008Webster Cook, student senator and non-eater of communion wafers

Sarah Braasch returns to talk about prayer imposed on senior citizens. If I was restricted to use of federally funded services, I think I’d take exception to being forced to pray in order to eat. Which is what Sarah’s report was about. FAQ at FFrF.org

Dan waxes poetic on the subject of reincarnation.

Webster Cook attended a mass recently because a friend was curious about what actually occurs during a Catholic mass. During the mass, he received communion but failed to eat the wafer (he was, in fact, raised Catholic) He’s now being charged with a hate crime, and possible expulsion from school. Go figure. It’s hard to imagine how anything more ridiculous could have evolved out of this situation.

Excuse me if I find this entire subject laughable. I’ve talked to several Catholics over the years who have told me that they never eat the communion wafers. “You never know where those things have been”.


2007 Archive episode. July 21, 2007The God Who Wasn’t There

The episode opens with a tribute to the Harry Potter stories. The seventh Harry Potter book was released at midnight the day of the broadcast. I was out there with the rest of the fans, myself.

Theocracy alert deals with a disruption during the Senate invocation prayer. (Why we as taxpayers pay for Senate chaplains is beyond me. I thought they were all sworn to poverty?) and a discussion of the sad state of affairs when it comes to Catholic priests and child abuse.

(Why not advertise Trojans on TV? Can’t be any worse than ED treatments or female hygiene products)

Brian Flemming produced “The God Who Wasn’t There“.

BeyondBeliefMedia“The God Who Wasn’t There” – Trailer – Apr 29, 2006

I’ve seen it (and I won’t go see the Passion of the Christ. Talk about Torture Porn) I hate to say this, but I think the interview was better than the film. I haven’t had the chance to watch the entire DVD, but I understand that there is more information on the DVD than is included in the film itself.

The film inspired the Blasphemy Challenge (I first heard about this on FTL) which has 1509 video responses as of this writing; 508 of whom signed a ticket to hell (unless they have one of these; I have a whole box of them) and didn’t even get a DVD.



2006 Archive episode. July 22, 2006“Gideons and Guantanamo”

For legal buffs, George Daly represented FFrF in their objection to a bible distribution day. He has also represented clients held at Gitmo.

It’s frightening to think this was two years ago, and they have just now granted that these prisoners have a right to a hearing under US law. These prisoners will be waiting at least another year before they even get their hearing, and it could be another couple of years before any of them could be released. That’s over a decade of imprisonment for some of these guys, some of them simply swept up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 3650 days versus one day for a US citizen accused of a real crime. What a joke our laws are.

Pagan pulpit and Dan’s Battle of Church and State close out the episode.

Sick(o) in America

John Stossel picks up the gauntlet that Michael Moore threw down, and slaps him silly with it; in less time than it takes to watch the overrated ‘documentary’ Sicko. Here’s a quote from the online article,

There are many problems with health insurance, but that doesn’t mean we should put the government in control. If it’s decided that health care should be paid for with tax dollars, then it’s up to the government to decide how that money should be spent. There’s only so much money to go around, so the inevitable result is rationing.

It’s just the law of supply and demand. Lowering prices increases demand. Lowering the price to nothing pushes demand through the roof. Author P.J. O’Rourke said it best: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”

When health care is free, governments deal with all that increased demand by limiting what’s available.

20/20 – StosselAmerican Health Care in Critical Condition

I have watched both Sicko and Stossel’s 20/20 special. While the interviews with the individuals struggling with the problems of the healthcare system were emotionally compelling in Sicko; as usual, the emotional argument is used to blind the viewer to the real culprit in the problem.

Sick in America, John Stossel’s response to Sicko, lacks none of the passion that Micheal Moore pours into his film, and yet deals in clear truths and verifiable facts. He discovers the real culprit behind the healthcare crisis. The real culprit is government.

The Canadians lamenting the lack of insurance coverage in the US is a classic example of using emotion to obscure the real problem. Why doesn’t the Canadian socialized system pay for services rendered in the US? Or any other country? If it was truly free service for their citizens, it would be free wherever the need arose. This is true of all the socialized healthcare systems across the world. There is no charge to the end user, provided he goes to a funded provider; and that’s the catch. The government pays for the service through taxes, and rations the healthcare that is available based on the funds that are provided.

This is also why drugs are cheaper in other countries. Prices are artificially lowered through agreements with those countries single payer systems. This should explain why the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to you to import Canadian drugs into the US. At some point they will simply stop providing the medication at reduced prices, since they can no longer profit from it’s production. Profit is why anyone engages in business in the first place, and healthcare is a business.

The one thing Moore got correct in Sicko was the scathing criticism of the current health insurance system. Once again, he missed the real culprit. Government regulation has created the current health insurance system. HMO, PPO, etc. Just more three letter acronyms for government created systems. If you agree to be covered by an HMO, then they, like the government in other countries, tell you who can treat you and for what.

I love the fact that he spent so much time in Europe. What a beacon of economic health France and the other European economies are. I also love the way he never addresses how much they pay in taxes for the lavish services provided. Sadly, it’s not that much more than we do here in the US for the lack of services that we have. That doesn’t mean we should pay more for better service. Logic should dictate that we demand to pay less, and provide our own ‘safety net’.

Let’s make something clear here; we are not Kaiser Permanente (Moore’s whipping boy of choice) In fact, the healthcare industry itself is not Kaiser Permanente. Based on the criminal behavior documented concerning Kaiser Permanente, I would think there would be charges filed somewhere against them. But then, their behavior is regulated and endorsed by the government. The same government that Moore thinks we should hand over the rest of healthcare to.

Only a dedicated socialist, like Micheal Moore, would consider it an indictment that we provide healthcare to prisoners, people held against their will (and as far as Gitmo detainees are concerned, held without charges) prisoners have no ability to provide for themselves, while citizens of the US do without healthcare; and, of course, the Cuban government bent over backward at Moore’s request to treat his boatload of sick people. What a media coup that is. Cuba heals the sick overlooked by America’s evil capitalist system. Especially the neglected Ground Zero workers.

My sister spent several years at Ground Zero, helping with the clean up effort. She, along with thousands of others still suffer from the after effects of being exposed to the air around Ground Zero. Health problems that the government still denies has anything to do with working at Ground Zero. The government has lead the way towards disenfranchising those heroes of Ground Zero. The insurance companies are simply following the government’s lead, just like they always have.

Except that the system might be evil, but it most certainly isn’t capitalist. All of the government managed systems are no different from the fascist corporatism of Il Duce‘s Italy; just another variant of socialism. Yes, the system currently in place is already a compromise. See how well it’s working? Don’t you want more of the same?

I’d like to speak for a significant portion of America’s uninsured. We don’t want universal health care. Some of us are uninsured by choice. The cost of insurance outweighs the benefit provided by insurance. (The only way the cost is justifiable is if a family member has some long term expensive-to-treat disease, and then the insurance company disallows coverage based on some obscure clause in the policy. I have seen this happen before) Forcing us to contribute to a universal system through a greater tax burden will simply drive us further into poverty. We want the freedom to choose what we want insured, and to get the same tax benefits as any other insurance provider. We want to negotiate prices directly with our doctors and hospitals, and we want the choice to remain uninsured if we deem it necessary.

Let charity provide the ‘free’ services. Only charity really can. All other arrangements involve the use of force on one or another of various groups. This is unacceptable to those of us who believe force should not be involved in normal social relationships.

It’s worth mentioning that I followed the sentiment of Michael Moore in his film, and refused to pay for the privilege of viewing his film, just as he does not wish to pay for the privilege of getting healthcare service. Instead I found an alternative source for the material. Anybody with access to a torrent program may do the same. I don’t reward thieves for promoting government as their method of choice.

John Stossel’s special has been broken into segments and is available on YouTube. Let him know you support his views by contacting him at ABC. There’s also a blog entry over at Downsize DC on the subject of the healthcare system, as well as an entire section of the website over at CATO.

CATO Weekly Video on the subject of “Sicko”

There really is no excuse to be uninformed on the subject.


Editor’s note, 2019. Hard to believe that the guy who wrote this was applying for disability while he was typing it. Most of my early writings on the subject of government programs have proven to be misguided at best, hypocritical at worst. Hypocritical, like the above post. Another one of those posts that I’d rather hit the delete button on than write an apology for. Oh well. The Bowl of Crow covers this too.

I still don’t think much of Michael Moore or his documentaries. It just so happens that his opponents are even more jaded and hypocritical than he is. Just watch anything by Stossel since joining FOX news and you will see just how dishonest his presentations have become. Possibly always were.

To use the phrase socialized medicine is to repeat oneself needlessly. All medicine contains costs borne by the public at large. All of it. It is a classic case of an economic externality, which is why businesses toss the cost of healthcare around like a hot potato. No one wants to foot the bill, therefore everyone must be forced to foot the bill. How that cost is paid equitably, while providing access to limited facilities equitably? How can these costs and benefits be spread across the world, granting every living person access? Those are the really hard and important questions. Questions that I am finally fully cognizant of lacking the knowledge and expertise to solve. It’s about fucking time, if I do say so myself.