Seeing Trees, But No Forests

In one of his latest Slate article, Christopher Hitchens discusses the mutual (negative) influence Iraq and Iran are having on each other. Once again, he tries to shift the blame for the mess in Iraq from the United States to Iran. The level to which Hitchens has become deluded is summed up in his last sentence, in which he says the following about Iran:
Whatever the case, it cannot be that such a despotic and arrogant regime feels that it can meddle everywhere without any cost to itself.
Hey Chris, can you think of any other countries to which this line of reasoning could be applied?


For La Patria, and Other Thoughts on Dear Leader Bush

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as
I'm the dictator..." - George W. Bush

Well, we might well be on our way there.

In case you’ve been too wrapped up in the holidays, errr, I mean Christmas, to notice, it has been revealed that our president has ordered the NSA to spy on U.S. Citizens without any sort of court warrant. At the least, this probably consists of tapping phones and intercepting emails, at the worst full-on data mining on individuals. Now, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillence Act prohibits the government from spying on U.S. Citizens, UNLESS a warrant to do so is obtained. Recognizing the importance of preventing crime (and especially nowadays, terrorism), getting such warrants is pretty damn easy, and very rarely are they denied (19,000 approved, 4 rejected since FISA was established). In fact, to make the process quick, you can even begin wiretapping immediately as long as you get the warrant within 72 hours. Some argue that the FISA court itself is just a rubber stamp to get around Fourth Amendment protections.

See, we’re a country with laws. We respect the right to privacy, but we realize that to protect citizens, sometimes we have to snoop, and therefore the legal means to do so are available. The government chose to ignore the legal requirements. Their rationalization blows my mind. Here’s what Dick Cheney said:

“Especially in the day and age we live in … the president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy.”

What struck me the most is how this resembles the justifications used by South American militaries and leaders when they want to consolidate power or to justify a military coup. They cite the constitution.

When I was in graduate school, this was sort of my area. My favorite professor was Brian Loveman. Dr. Loveman is one of the leading experts on civil-military relations. He has an excellent book, The Constitution of Tyranny, which maps out phrases in the Constitutions of various Latin American countries which allow for “regimes of exception” under which civil liberties are curtailed and martial law is imposed. The constitution itself allows the constitution to be suspended. Invariable, regimes of exception are invoked after citing terrorist threats, domestic enemies, and internal instability, whether or not the threat is credible or not. They usually refer to their Constitutional duty to protect La Patria (fatherland). Actually, For La Patria is another book written by Dr. Loveman on the subject.

I’m not saying we’re there yet. But the latest course of events has me worried. The President and his defenders tell us they are eavesdropping on terrorists, but without a court order, why should we believe them? Conservative bloggers certainly have no insight on the issue, they're just guessing on whos privacy is being invaded. If no court orders are required, what was to stop Bush from eavesdropping on John Kerry during the last election campaign? How do we know he didn't?

The President has gone so far over the line on this that a credible argument for it does not exist. Yet, there they are, the Bush brigade, defending it and calling us who oppose traitors. It makes me wonder what Bush has to do to gain their ire. I think David Cross had it right: Bush will need to eat a Jewish baby on live TV before people wake up to this shit. "That’s the only crazy evil thing for Bush left to do … ‘Mmm, that’s good Jew-baby heart! What’re ya gonna do, Grandma, vote for Kucinich?’”

Six To Eight Black Men

Davis Sedaris is one of the funniest writers I have ever had the pleasure to read. He especially enjoys writing about Christmas, and his best Christmas story ever is “Six To Eight Black Men”. Yes, I realize it’s copyrighted and trademarks, and blah, blah blah. I don’t care. This story should be deemed a national treasure, and re-read every single Christmas by everyone. I highly doubt Mr. Sedaris would object, but I bet his Grinch publishers would. Hopefully I don't get sued. In this story, Sedaris compares our Santa to Holland’s Saint Nicholaus, aka St. Nick. Merry Christmas!
I've never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my
bearings in a strange American city, I normally start by asking the
cabdriver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest
census figures. I say silly because I don't really care how many
people live in Olympia, Washington, or Columbus, Ohio. They're
nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second
question might have to do with average annual rainfall, which,
again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen
to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a
concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What's the
waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were
recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from
experience that it's best to lead into this subject as delicately
as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and
enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and
you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've heard, for
example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and
Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but
still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn't want a blind person
driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What
sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of
my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state.
In a country that's become so homogenous, I'm reassured by these
last touches of regionalism.

Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling
abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals.
"What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country
has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow
vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets
the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a-
kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one
of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label.
When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my
hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good
conversation starter as it explains a lot about national character.
People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit
more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas
morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return
to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to
eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for
children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing
I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer
food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while
in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in
celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until
I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the
details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully
thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall
hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is
a carryover from his former career, when he served as a bishop in

One doesn’t want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this
seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn’t use to
do anything. He’s not retired, and, more important, he has
nothing to do with Turkey. The climate’s all wrong, and people
wouldn’t appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the
North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint
Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not
true. While he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose
the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No
one can spy on him, and he doesn’t have to worry about people
coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in
that outfit, he’d most certainly be recognized. On top of that,
aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesn’t speak Spanish. He
knows enough to get by, but he’s not fluent, and he certainly
doesn’t eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, Saint Nicholas arrives by boat
and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and
great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I’m not sure
if there’s a set date, but he generally docks in late November and
spends a few weeks hanging out and asking people what they want.

“Is it just him alone?” I asked. “Or does he come with backup?”

Oscar’s English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a
term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

“Helpers,” I said. “Does he have any elves?”

Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but I couldn’t help but feel
personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque
and unrealistic. “Elves,” he said. “They’re just so silly.”

The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that
Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as “six
to eight black men.” I asked several Dutch people to narrow it
down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always
“six to eight,” which seems strange, seeing as they’ve had hundreds
of years to get a decent count.

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves
until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it
was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good
friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes
between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by
cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and
mutual hostility. They have such violence in Holland, but rather
than duking it out among themselves, Santa and his former slaves
decided to take it out on the public. In the early years, if a
child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men
would beat him with what Oscar described as “the small branch of
a tree.”

“A switch?”

“Yes,” he said. “That’s it. They’d kick him and beat him with a
switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they’d put him in
a sack and take him back to Spain.”

“Saint Nicholas would kick you?”

“Well, not anymore,” Oscar said. “Now he just pretends to kick

“And the six to eight black men?”

“Them, too.”

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it’s
almost more perverse than the original punishment. “I’m going to
hurt you, but not really.” How many times have we fallen for that
line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements
of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain, old-
fashioned fear. What kind of Santa spends his time pretending to
kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of
course, you’ve got the six to eight former slaves who could
potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest
difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of
our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if
you told the average white American that six to eight nameless
black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the
night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever
he could get his hands on.

“Six to eight, did you say?”

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave
their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they
planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint
Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs
with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping,
it’s not much different from hanging your stockings from the
mantel. Now that so few people have a working fireplace, Dutch
children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator,
furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black
men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At
this point, I guess, they either jump back down and use the door,
or they stay put and vaporize through the pipes and electrical
wires. Oscar wasn’t too clear about the particulars, but, really,
who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He’s
supposed to use the chimney, but if you don’t have one, he still
manages to come through. It’s best not to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our
Christmas story remains relatively simple. Santa lives with his
wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year
traveling around the world. If you’re bad, he leaves you coal. If
you’re good and live in America, he’ll give you just about anything
you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed,
where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch
parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his
children, “Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things
together before you go to bed. The former bishop from Turkey will
be coming along with six to eight black men. They might put some
candy in your shoes, they might stuff you in a sack and take you
to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don’t know
for sure, but we want you to be prepared.”

This is the reward for living in Holland. As a child you get to
hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat
it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs
and prostitution-so what’s not to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was
a polite and interesting guy-very good company-but when he offered
to wait until my train arrived, I begged off, saying I had some
calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast terminal, surrounded by
other polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldn’t help
but feel second-rate. Yes, it was a small country, but it had six
to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly
competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter, and was edging
toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off
into the Michigan forest. He might bag a deer, or he might happily
shoot his sighted companion in the stomach. He may find his way
back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before
stumbling through your front door. We don’t know for sure, but in
pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of
narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.


Tookie Politics

So, last night Tookie Williams was put death by the State of California. Every time there is an execution scheduled in California we get to have a big debate on the death penalty. My position on the issue sways back and forth (whenever I'm against it, I end up thinking of Polly Klass' killer, then I'm for it again), and doesn’t always make sense, but I respect both views on the issue. It is a legitimate debate on a serious issue. I cannot stand it when the debate gets infantilized and turns into “murderers” versus “sissies”. It’s a complex, tragic issue all around. Whatever side of the issue you fall on, an execution should be a somber event, and a chance to reflect upon who we are.

So, after the execution, on more than one network, the debate turned to how this affects Arnold Schwarzenegger politically. Will his popularity go up or down? Will it help or hurt his bid for reelection?


A man was just put to death by the government. A bad man, yes, but still, have we lost all sense of decency? Can we take a moment to reflect or is life all politics, all the time now? Are decisions over whether a human being is put to death being determined by opinion polls? This is all grotesque. It furthers my belief that the United States has become the shallowest, most superficial society that has ever walked the face of the Earth.


1. Five minutes after writing this a co-worker comes in cracking Tookie jokes. God Bless the USA.

2. This hardens my belief that executions should be televised. If you support it, you should have no problem watching it.


Johnny Cash, Punk Rock, And Emo Pussies

I have a desk job, and my work is pretty solitary. I can go a whole day without saying a word to anyone. So, my lifesaver is my Dell DJ (think iPod, but made by Dell). Well, the other day, good ole Johnny Cash popped up on the playlist, and a strange thing happened. I got really emotional. I had to actually hold back tears. For the life of me I could not understand why.

See, I think of Johnny Cash as one of the first punk rockers. To me, punk is pretty much anything that says Fuck You to the status quo. I don’t mean in an ignorant, mohawk, anarchy type way, either. I mean those who passionately speak for the underdog, the poor, and the disaffected. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I know it when I see it. Johnny has too many songs to list about prisoners, workers, racism, war, take your pick. As you can see, I don’t necessarily define punk by the sound. So in my punk worldview, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Public Enemy are punk rock, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Fall Out Boy, and New Found Glory are definitely not. In fact, they are the opposite of punk, whatever that is. You may disagree with me, but you shouldn’t, because I am right.

I should also mention that I truly do love Johnny Cash. It’s become quite cliché lately to love Johnny Cash. I mean who doesn’t, right? The same thing happened a couple of years ago with Sinatra. But my love goes beyond the later American Recordings albums and “Ring of Fire”, and I’ll love him when the hipsters move on to the next retro-cool artist. I’m not trying to be elitist; it’s just a simple fact that a large percentage of Johnny Cash fans have only probably heard a few songs, but they know they should like him, so they say they do.

What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah, so how does this old school punker Johnny Cash get me weepy?

I’m still trying to figure that out. So far, I have three theories.

Theory Number One is that this guy I love is dead. And hearing him reminds me of that, same as when I listen to the Ramones or The Clash. It reminds me of my own mortality, and that’s not exactly a cheery notion.

Theory Number Two has to do with my parents. My mom and dad listening to “I Walk The Line” on the record player is my earliest memory involving music. They, like Johnny, are both now gone. You do the math.

Theory Number Three is the sheer beauty and simplicity of the music and lyrics. Today’s lame emo bands try as hard as they can to come up with a clever metaphor for their pain and/or feelings (sample retarded lyric from Fall Out Boy: “We’re making out inside crashed cars, We’re sleeping through all our memories, I used to waste my time dreaming of being alive”, man, I’m gonna be sick.) My friend eats up that bullshit like candy, and I tease her mercilessly about it. It’s just complete stupidity, and the fact that they try that hard to be clever but end up sounding like seventh grade poetry makes me doubt their sincerity all together. Johnny was different. How does a guarded soul with a penchant for doing the wrong thing express his devotion to the woman he loves? Not with stupid metaphors about guarding doors like goalies in the playoffs or making out in crashed cars. “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

I guess it’s a little bit of all of these theories. That, or deep down, I’m just an emo pussy myself.


Richard Pryor, R.I.P.

Extremely troubled, extremely funny, and extremely influential. A sad day for comedy.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, has died, his ex-wife said Saturday. He was 65.

Pryor died of a heart attack at his home in the San Fernando Valley sometime late Friday or early Saturday, Flyn Pryor said. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

The comedian was regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, but he gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

His audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, including Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damon Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others.

A series of hit comedies in the '70s and '80s, as well as filmed versions of his concert performances, helped make him Pryor one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He was one of the first black performers to have enough leverage to cut his own Hollywood deals. In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

His films included "Stir Crazy," "Silver Streak," "Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip."


Bill O'Reilly & Don Quixote, Hunting Windmills

I can't believe millions of Americans watch and trust this nuerotic, paranoid motherfucker Bill O'Reilly. Lately he's been on his yearly "War On Christmas" crusade, insisting that there is a plot to take away Christmas. His evidence? Hold on to your seats....some stores are actually, get this, saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". I KNOW!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! THOSE ANTI-CHRISTMAS, HOMOSEXUAL, JEW LOVING "STORES", KILL THEM ALL!!!

I hate to break it to Bill, but there is no "war" on Christmas and there never was. He made it up. I do not know of one person who is offended by the word Christmas, or a store using it. It's a fake crusade. Sure, there are a few examples of schools and other places going a bit overboard, but a few examples do not a war make. If stores prefer to use "holidays" over "Christmas", they are thinking about dollars. They want Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Athiests, Devil Worshippers, Wiccans, EVERYBODY, to start spending this time of year. Now if you are a good Christian, and you are helping the poor, going to church, turning the other cheek, being a good person, whatever you people do, and you are sure that you will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven when your days are done, does it seriously bother you that Big Lots says "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas"? Apparently it bothers Big Bad Bill, cable TV toughguy and egomaniac. Do these sound like the words of a sane man?
I am not going to let oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country diminish and denigrate the holiday and the celebration. I am not going to let it happen. I'm gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that.
Keith Olbermann: "Bill, just remember, to bring horror into this world, all you have to do is open your mouth."
And we have succeeded. You know we've succeeded. They are on the run in corporations, in the media, everywhere. They are on the run, because I will put their face and their name on television, and I will talk about them on the radio if they do it. There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together.
That's right. No better way to celebrate generosity, peace, and love than threatening and bringing "horror" to those who happen to disagree with your fucked-up outlook.
There is no reason on the earth that we can't do that. So we are going to do it. And anyone who tries to stop us from doing it is gonna face me.
Oh yeah, Bill? Me and you, after school, between the bike racks and the tetherball courts. You're dead meat.


Fuck Bats

National Geographic:
Bats eaten by people in central Africa may host the deadly Ebola virus, according to new research...Researchers have now found evidence of Ebola infection in three species of fruit bats. The bats show no symptoms of the disease, indicating that they might be spreading it.
The likely source of the respiratory disease Sars is the horseshoe bat, a new study suggests. Researchers found a virus closely related to the Sars coronavirus in bats from three regions of China.
I'm starting to think that George Bush is actually a bat.

Missing The Point On Murtha

Christoper Hitchens, Bill O'Reilly, and everyone else attacking Jack Murtha are missing the major point of him speaking out. He didn’t on a whim decide to call for a strategic withdrawal from Iraq. Murtha, a decorated Marine and Vietnam vet, has extremely close ties with military leaders. It is very safe to say that his proposals echo those of the military commanders in Iraq. It’s no great leap of imagination to think that Murtha went forward at their urging. Commanders in the field are not able to simply spout their opinions publicy, so they need a credible proxy like Jack Murtha. To wit:
Because he is known as a friend and champion of officers at the Pentagon and in the war zone, it is widely believed in Congress that Murtha often speaks for those in uniform and could be echoing what U.S. commanders in the field and in the Pentagon are saying privately about the conflict.
Whenever you read a criticism of Jack Murtha, just mentally substitute “military commanders” for Murtha’s name. You’ll see how ridiculous and arrogant the argument becomes.

So, if Hitchens and his ilk want to attack the commanders actually fighting, they should say so, and maybe give them some suggestions on how to fight and tell them what is going on on the ground. After all, they're much smarter than the commanders, right?

Fuck David H. Brooks

Read this story:
DHB Industries Inc., which principally operates in the field of body armor, announced today that its subsidiary, Point Blank Body Armor has received a new delivery order for $30.1 million from the United States Army for its Interceptor(TM) OTV (Outer Tactical Vests) System
Now read this one:
The Marine Corps is recalling 5,277 combat vests issued to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti after a newspaper article raised concerns that they failed a test to determine whether they could stop a bullet...The armor in question is called the "Outer Tactical Vest" and it is part of the Interceptor body armor package issued to troops in combat zones. The vest, when combined with protective plates, is designed to stop a rifle round.
Time to get pissed. Now read this one:
For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith.

I hear it was garish display of rock 'n' roll idol worship for which the famously irascible CEO of DHB Industries, a Westbury-based manufacturer of bulletproof vests, sent his company jet to retrieve Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their Saturday gig in Pittsburgh...The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate jets to ferry the performers to and from.

Don't you love it?. The CEO of a company which sells faulty combat vests to the U.S. military has $10 million just laying around for a bar mitvah? Do you pay taxes? Yes? Guess what? YOU PAID FOR THIS.

Immoral and disgusting war profiteering, plain and simple.

Oh, Christopher

It’s sort of embarrassing to admit that I used to be a big fan of Christopher Hitchens. How could you not love someone who attacked Mother Theresa? But his odd way of arguing against those who think the war in Iraq is a mistake makes me wonder if I overlooked his dishonest method of argument when he was on “my” side.

So, if you want to argue like Hitchens, here’s what you do:

1) Simplify your opposition into an easy-target metaphor, like Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, (or as of late Jack Murtha). Therefore, if you oppose the war, you’re in Cindy Sheehan’s camp, and you now believe everything Cindy believes. You now are against the war in Afghanistan, even if you aren’t, because Cindy is. Remember, you are now Cindy Sheehan.

2) Casually dismiss this group you've created and have conveniently given a uniform worldview with idiotic terms like “sinister piffle” and “kerfuffle”, which make you sound like the arrogant, elitist asshole you are. You are required to use at least one of those terms, or a similarly retarded one, in everything argument you make.

3) You must make it sound like no one could possibly know the things you do, even though volumes have been written about it. Remember, you are providing insight no one else has ever thought of, even though every expert in the field has already thought of it. No one but you has ever been to Iraq, no one else has Kurdish friends, and no one else realizes that ethnic political split in Iraq is much more complicated than Kurd-Sunni-Shi’ite.

4) You must cast your lot with the scruffy “underdogs”. This makes you sound like some sort of hero; a hero who says "piffle" a lot. Mention a lot of people in this group that know one has ever heard of; it gives you street cred. You must also ignore or minimize the heinous past of those on your side (coughAhmedChalabicough), but not of those who don’t agree with you, they must be crucified with their misdeeds.

5) You must make false analogies between two things which aren’t alike (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan), and then disprove one, thereby disproving the other. In other words, you must argue like a twelve-year-old, but hide your arguments in scholarly, elitist jargon so they get lost in mumbo jumbo.

I used to buy into this crap. Thank God my bullshit detector has gotten better since then.