July 05, 2013

Rod Dreher channels his inner racism apologia for #PaulaDeen

I'm pretty tired of Paula Deen myself, but, when a "crunchy con" like Rod Dreher (think a bit more southern-fried Ross Douthat if you're not familiar with Dreher) pulls the "Southern heritage" card to try to defend Deen, well, we have to fire back.

First:
Every younger white Southerner who holds enlightened opinions on race knows that you have to allow for the cultural deformation of older white Southerners.
Really? Hey, Rod, Selma was nearly 50 years ago. The lunch-counter sit-ins started before she hit adulthood.

Beyond that, there's the assumption, unspoken here, but voiced more later, that this is something that's just at the edges of her personality. Just an occasional slip. Not something ingrained from someone young enough to be in high school herself when Little Rock was integrated.

Speaking of past as prologue, or better yet, history repeating itself, now as farce, trotting out a 56-year-old letter from Walker Percy qualifies:
In a 1957 letter, the Southern Catholic novelist Walker Percy, who openly opposed segregation when that wasn't easy for a white Southerner to do, conceded the wickedness of the peculiar institution, but warned that anti-racists could not win if they attacked "not only segregation, but (the Southerner), his people, and his past." 

"Perhaps the best imaginable society is not a countrywide Levittown in which everyone is a good liberal ashamed of his past, but a pluralistic society, rich in regional memories and usages," Percy wrote. "I sincerely believe that the worst fate that could overtake the struggle against segregation would be its capture by a political orthodoxy of the left." 
Uhh, Rod, Percy was expecting more enlightenment by 1980, I'm sure, and definitely by 2013.

Dreher then finishes with the "damn Yankees" defense.
These militant culture warriors are placing abstract ideals over flesh and blood reality. That too reflects an impoverished moral imagination. But then, Southerners have long considered that to be the graceless Yankee way. If this Deen episode reinforces odious Northern stereotypes of Southerners, then I assure you the feeling is mutual.  
The likes of Dreher provide fertile seeds for a new stereotype to start: "The conservative side of New South as Old South — don't get fooled again."

It's always been this way among Southerners of Dreher's ilk, whether 1923, 1963, or 2013 — that is, the claim of "just give us more time."

Rather, with using zoning, private schools and more, many a conservative Southerner's idea of "more time" is turning the clock further back.

But, given that Mr. Dreher's let the mask slip before on gay issues, this is no surprise to come from him.

(Update, July 9: A Facebook commenter said that, before the person finished reading through the first graf of Rod's anti-gay rant, they were convinced he was gay. And, per the link immediately above, it kind of makes sense. Only a self-repressing gay, I think, would worry so much about this issue without worrying so much about the kids being scarred and damaged.)

Another mask-slipping is for the formerly Catholic Dreher to claim that the Catholic church's pedophile priest plague is all driven by said priests being gay. His rant about a "lavender mafia" and more really sound like someone self-repressing.  

Anyway and basically, the shorter Dreher is saying: Gays need to show personal growth, racists don't.

Having lived in Dallas most the previous decade, and being a suburban newspaper editor, I actually happened to meet Dreher in person once, when he was promoting his first book at a civic event in my suburb. He was certainly affable enough. But, then again, I'm a white male, and don't look like a stereotypical gay person. And, he had no idea then of how liberal I am. (He does now, of course, since I Tweeted this to him; I have no idea if he remembers me, or exactly what is the incident he references.)

And, of course, in his own way, because of this, he IS a next-generation Paula Deen, of sorts. Now, even in narrower circles, unless he was absolutely sure of said circle, if he has any personal racism or racialism bones in his body, rather than just being a defender of others, he wouldn't say "nigger" (let's not euphemize it) with anyone else to hear, unlike "Crazy Aunt Paula."

But, would he say "faggot" in the right circle? Or "queer"? Given what's on the record, sure.

And, 20-30 years from now, he might hope that the intellectual scion of him and Crazy Aunt Paula wandered down the road, and said:

Every younger straight Southerner who holds enlightened opinions on gay issues knows that you have to allow for the cultural deformation of older straight Southerners.
Dreher won't change. That we know. No more than his praying for Chris Hitchens' conversion (what else would healing of an atheist's "soul" be?) was going to change Hitch.

We can, perhaps, hope that Paula Deen Drehers will indeed be few and far between when that 20 or 30 years comes, though.

And, as a sidebar, let's note the hypocrisy of Dreher accusing Rush Limbaugh of racism, even though the linked post at Beliefnet is no longer there. (The Hitch one, obviously, is, so I linked it instead of my blog post. I call shenanigans on Dreher, Beliefnet, or both.)

We also know the hypocrisy of "crunchy cons." If they're religiously driven ones, at all, the granola stays on the straight side of the table. And, black folks only get their hands on it by serving it to white folks.

July 04, 2013

An extra special Fourth of July this year

150 years ago today, "The Father of the Waters once again flowed unvexed to the sea."

If you're a Civil War buff, you know the quote, the author, and its significance. If not, go use teh Google.

Unfortunately, Vicksburg and the eventual end of the Civil War weren't followed with an adequate Reconstruction, namely due to the worst president in American history. Yes, fellow libs, Shrub is bad, and in my bottom five, but Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan, bookending the Civil War, are the bottom two.

Whether Lincoln in Reconstruction would have remained as "rosewater" as Spielberg tried to paint him in his movie is open to debate. About anything he did, though, would have been far better than the obstinate inaction of a racist alcoholic who believed (like Bush) that he had been divinely chosen for his position.

Certainly, when the Klan arose in early 1866, Lincoln would not have remained idle, and would have had federal troops act. And, in light of something like that, might have been less rosewater than Spielberg presents.

And, that's why April 14, 1865, far, far more than Nov. 22, 1963, is arguably the most tragic day in American history. We arguably had a decent chance to actually reconstruct the country. Lincoln would have held the worst of Radical Republicanism at bay, but with him rather than Andy Johnson in charge, the worst never would have arisen. And, contra Spielberg, Lincoln would have been tougher. He would have accepted that, per the Constitution, the Republicans had a right to refuse to seat Democratic Congressmen and Senators until they met certain preconditions.

Vicksburg was arguably more important than Gettysburg in several ways, too.

First, it was a total victory.

Second, it boosted Grant's reputation to a new level, setting him on what would soon be an inevitable military trajectory, then political one.

Third, it was the first hint at a more total war that the North would wage, a message that should and could have been, in a veiled way, carried over into Reconstruction.

As an example of the intransigence that the North faced, post-Reconstruction, and that ties directly to this history? Vickburg refused to officially celebrate the Fourth of July again until 1945.

July 03, 2013

Where is the "real left"? Why isn't it in the mainstream media more?

At Slate, Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick rhetorically ask those very questions, and have a follow-up asking for ideas. And, then, at Balkinization, Frank Pasquale has charged that they're looking for liberals in all the wrong places.

First, on where Pasquale is all wet.

If Mother Jones is an example of true liberalism, rather than, in general, left neoliberalism of some sort, I'll eat my hat. Kevin Drum has long been a neolib squish as its chief blogger, back to when he was at Washington Monthly, and even before. Chief investigative reporter David Corn has shown an increasing willingness to write Obamiac blank checks on snooping-related issues.

Don't get me wrong, MoJo is further left than Washington Monthly. But that doesn't say a lot. Hell, The Nation, as long as it continues to give short shrift to the Greens, or even Rocky Barker's Justice Party, isn't as left at times as it could be, that's for sure.

And, anything to the right of The Nation is almost guaranteed to have a David Corn stance on Obama's snooping. IOKIYAO.

But, back to that "left neoliberalism." That's who runs the Democratic Party today, overall — a slightly nuanced version of neoliberals. And so, Friedman and Lithwick rightly are concerned that real liberalism isn't on the pages of major newspapers, because it's largely undefended.

Now, the likes of Wendy Davis show that some of their concerns about reproductive choice support may be somewhat overblown. Still, that may not be total.

Pasquale's mention of certain Twitter accounts is interesting. Yes, there are individual bloggers out there fighting for labor rights and other social issues. But, how many of them are inside the Democratic Party, or inside the Party-connected apparatus of think tanks like the Center for American Progress, which has already shown its left neoliberal colors over chained CPI.

And, so, Pasquale's missing the point of Friedman and Lithwick. Sure, there's true liberals "out there." That's the whole problem; they're out there, and outside the circle of today's Democratic Party and its connected policy, public relations and rainmaking apparatus.

Why? As I've said in many ways before, what Friedman and Lithwick are too polite to say: Today's Democratic national leaders have no balls. Or, to repackage Teddy Roosevelt's comment about William McKinley, directed at Obama: "He has all the backbone of a chocolate eclair."

That includes Democratic senators like Ron Wyden who refuse to hold Team Obama officials to account for known lies.

And, if you have ideas for the two of them, email them here.

Mr. Pasquale submitted an excellent one, namely, a massive expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act, beyond home loans, and to far more types of financial organizations than banks.

July 02, 2013

#Obamacare just fell flat on its fucking face

For those of us true liberals, not neoliberals, who wanted Dear Leader to present, or at least seriously and honestly consider, a single-payer healthcare plan, we at least hoped (at least on the surface) that what he actually got passed would be a reasonable substitute.

We held our collective breath wondering how the Supreme Court would rule on the individual mandate. We accepted the ruling that it was a tax, even as many of us recognized that Chief Justice John Roberts had just inserted a T. Rex-sized Trojan horse into large chunks of the modern federal regulatory state and the Commerce Clause.

And, since then, we've watched a royal clusterfuck.

First, reports that electronic patient records were, if not saving much money (or time) for patients and hospitals, generating plenty of dinero for companies that wrote the software for them.

While proponents say new record-keeping technologies will one day reduce costs and improve care, profits and sales are soaring now across the records industry. At Allscripts, annual sales have more than doubled from $548 million in 2009 to an estimated $1.44 billion last year.

Gee, what a shock.

"Shock" No. 2 — how this happened, including the revolving government-industry door of "the most transparent administration in history.

None of that would have happened without the health records legislation that was included in the 2009 economic stimulus bill — and the lobbying that helped produce it. Along the way, the records industry made hundreds of thousands of dollars of political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. In some cases, the ties went deeper. Glen E. Tullman, until recently the chief executive of Allscripts, was health technology adviser to the 2008 Obama campaign. As C.E.O. of Allscripts, he visited the White House no fewer than seven times after President Obama took office in 2009, according to White House records.  
So, as more and more of Obamacare gets implemented, let's be prepared for more and more real shocks of how it doesn't save so much money after all, and more and more fake "shocks" of how that came to be.  Second, we saw Dear Leader rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite, the birth control coverage portion of the employer mandate on levels of coverage, shrinking more and more each time what was required, to the point that that portion of the law has become highly vulnerable to legal challenge.

Result? Hobby Lobby is "beating the rap" on fines, and the appellate course hearing the case says the whole provision could be junked.

And, now, we have the breaking point.

Dear Leader has pushed back the actual employer mandate — cover your employees or pay fines — until 2015. Shock me that that can-kicking goes past the 2014 midterm elections. Here's the explainer:
“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” Mark J. Mazur, an assistant Treasury secretary, wrote on the department’s Web site in disclosing the delay. “We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.” 
And, here's the problem behind the problem: those magical, mythical exchanges:
The change does not affect other central provisions of the law, in particular those establishing health care marketplaces in the states — known as exchanges — where individual Americans without health insurance can shop from a menu of insurance policies. Under those provisions, subsidies are available for lower-income individuals who qualify. 

However, without being able to confirm whether employers are offering insurance to their employees, it will be difficult for the exchanges to know who is entitled to subsidies to help pay for insurance. Enrollment in the exchanges is to begin Oct. 1, and they are to take effect on Jan. 1. 
Yes, yes, I know wingnuts in Congress have fought tooth and claw funding to educate Americans about these exchanges. But, as I said in another blogpost, isn't this what Organizing for Action, the rebranding of Organizing for America, is for? Or do we need to be more nakedly honest about how it's for Obama shaking down neoliberal donors to help preserve his "legacy"?

There's other issues beyond that, though, that Dear Leader won't tell you.

First is, as Doug Henwood stated, that many businesses were going to opt out. The penalties were cheaper than the insurance coverage. A lot cheaper.

The $2,000 per employee penalty is less than half their annual per-employee cost for their share of health insurance, on average.
Ah, vindication. Financial Times has has a front-page piece (“US business hits out at ‘Obamacare’ costs”) confirming the central point of the (2011) McKinsey survey: for many employers, it will be much cheaper to pay the penalties than cover full-time workers, and cut the hours for others so they fall under the definition of full-time and then don’t have to be covered. Retailers and fast-food chains are the most likely to do that, but there’s no reason that many other employers wouldn’t join in.
CEOs of Kroger, Dunkin Donuts and other companies go on the record about this and more. Henwood, though he's not gloating now, predicted this outcome nearly two full years ago.

Next issue with the exchanges? Their complexity, and how, even with Dear Leader having "insurance whisperers" to try to explain this all to currently uninsured, how major insurers (and contributors to Obama's campaigns) were going to use this to snow people with paperwork, as CJR reported.

That's the same insurance industry that's the hassle from hell, post-event, even for well-educated people. Even for newspaper editors who can write about it.

There's yet more problems.

Here's another: Some families may not be able to afford employer-based care, depending on co-pay levels, but may not qualify for subsidies on the exchanges, either.

Doesn't a lot of this sound like the same problems that were voices about "Hillarycare" 20 years ago? Absolutely so, in my book. And, folks, that's just from 10 minutes of going through my blog archive and looking at previous posts with the Obamacare tag.

And, yes, many of those people 20 years ago were conservatives, despite the outlines of this type of program being supported at that time, as well all know, by Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation. In foresight, let alone hindsight, that's probably about the best reason in the world any non-neoliberal true liberal should have run from hell from something like this.

And, this last straw is is the bottom-line example on how poorly this law was written, how poorly it was thought out, how poorly its unfolding has been planned, and ultimately, "legacy" aside, how poorly Obama himself has handled all of this. I don't want to hear a lot of naysayers talking about Republican obstructionism on implementation. Obama could have dodged a fair amount of that. And, he could have dodged ALL of that with a single-payer system.

Nor do I want to hear from Obamiacs that this is the best that could be done. Given that Obama let Max Baucus write this bill, and in highly dilatory fashion until Scott Brown won the Senate special election in Massachusetts to replace Ted Kennedy, I've only scratched the surface of his political and legislative mismanagement. Anybody who's read my glowing review of Ron Suskind's book, which offers more detail on that, knows that.

At what point are we going to go beyond saying Obama is "nonconfrontational," too? At what point are we even going to go beyond repackaging Teddy Roosevelt's comment about William McKinley that "he has the backbone of a chocolate eclair"?

At what point are more people going to be more honest about how much Obama is a neoliberal sellout to hypercapitalism, with a certain amount of political cowardice on top?

That's also why it's either stupidity or naïvete to claim that Obamacare has a "bomb" of some sort that will radically change how private insurers are forced to operate.

And, I've only started with what's wrong with Obamacare. Here's one other one, that I've repeatedly noted: the lack of a federal bureau for insurance regulation. Given how toothless state ones are, the fact that Obamacare didn't even address this is another big black mark.

#MichaelHastings and conspiracy theories

First, let me state that in general, I reject conspiracy theories under Occam's Razor and related simple logic.

So, let's look at the death of the Rolling Stone reporter.

First, counterintelligence guru Richard Clarke says Hastings' car computer system could have been hacked. Ahh, one big problemo. Even on a fancy Mercedes, I don't think the power steering is computerized. Ditto for the brakes. Sure, a hack could, in some theoretical way, overaccelerate the engine or kill the ignition. Even then, with extra foot force, the car could be braked, unless the brake lines had a cell-phone activated razor blade system to cut them 50 miles after Hastings started the car.

But, see, now we're in la-la land! More proof of that is this statement by Clarke:
"I'm not a conspiracy guy. In fact, I've spent most of my life knocking down conspiracy theories," said Clarke, who ran afoul of the second Bush administration when he criticized the decision to invade Iraq after 9/11. "But my rule has always been you don't knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it [wrong]. And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack. And the problem with that is you can't prove it."
Wrong. Definitely wrong under traditional logic, and even, in some way, under things like modal logic.

One cannot prove the nonexistence of anything, a point I regularly make to Gnu Atheists. Plus, there's the old phrase, "Absense of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence." Extend that to "missing information" in the typical conspiracy theory and you get the point.

Second, as for his famous, or infamous, email shortly before the accident? Had Hastings been exhibiting other signs of anxiety or depression before this? Did he have some sort of mental health history?

Third, as for the feds wanting to kill him? James Bamford has written far more about the national security state than Chambers, and he's still living, breathing and writing as of this moment.

Fourth, as for witness claims that Hastings' engine flew 50-60 feet? Puhleeze. We know how inaccurate (and at times, deliberately sexed-up) eyewitness testimony can be. And, the distance the engine was found is sometimes 50-60 feet, other times 100 feet.

Fifth, even if it was that far away? Depending on exact angle of striking the tree, etc., all that does is demonstrate the law of conservation of momentum in action.

Sixth, the more Alex Jones beats the drums about a particular conspiracy theory, the less likely it is to be true. Call that a corollary to Occam's Razor. And, no, I'm not linking to him.
Simplest way to prove Alex Jones is a 116 percent gold plated BSer? If all of these bullshit claims he spouts are true, why hasn't HE been killed? 
That said, Richard Clarke just dropped another peg in my estimation.

July 01, 2013

Gnu Atheism — the Gnu Fundamentalism?

The more and more I look at Gnu Atheism (trying to keep myself protected as I can) and its offshoots within "movement atheism" such as Atheism Plus, the more and more I think the title of my header is true.

Of course, I'm not alone. Frans de Waal, in a well-publicized selection from his new book, has made just such a claim. (And, for a quasi-Gnu like James Croft to accuse him of lack of nuance is "rich." I say quasi-Gnu because, while I see Croft as a leader of some sort in what I reference as "movement atheism" for lack of a better phrase, I don't see him as a full-blown Gnu by any means.)

That said, fundamentalisms generally have a core of intolerance.

With Gnus, especially the Atheism Plus generation, a fair degree of this intolerance isn't actually directed at its fundamentalist mirrors in the world of religion. Rather, it's at anybody who can't accept nth-wave feminism as the only correct expression of feminism.

And, I've personally run up against that one, from one of the high priestesses of nth-wave feminism, Stephanie Zvan.

It started with a back-and-forth on a Patheos blog post by somebody else. Here's the comment in the thread by Zvan:
Well, Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, since no one else can be assed [sic] to step up and say this, no matter how much me being harassed "pisses them off", no matter how much they'll stand up for JT, fuck off, you putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime. It is not anything but vilely anti-social to spend two and half years after a woman tells you that rape allegations need to be taken seriously popping up any time she and the man on whose blog you were schooled are mentioned together to say that this woman is controlling this man's behavior by having sex with him.  
Bit of background on that.

We first really tangled over Julian Assange and the Swedish rape allegations. The take of not only me, but others, was ... nuanced. I can't remember exactly what I said, but I said the charges were a matter of serious concern. At the same time, I said it was legitimate to ask about Swedish political motivations for ... for reopening what had been a legally closed case, in essence. Given that we already knew then that Sweden had been a willing participant in more than one of the CIA's "renditions," and given the scenario of Edward Snowden now, I, and many others, said that Assange's request of the Swedish government that it offer an in-advance guarantee it wouldn't extradite him to the US was reasonable, at least.

Zvan's take on any "nuance" like that? It's siding with a rapist. Not even an alleged rapist, but a rapist. At least that's how I remember it at the time.

And, if she wants to up the ante, as she now has, that's fine. (A friend sent me the link, and no, I haven't read the whole thing, and am not likely to, not even a week later.)

And, to fire back? Wikileaks had an FBI mole inside its ranks. Putting aside the issue of how Assange didn't suspect him, it underscores how right he has been to be suspicious in general. Thordarson  at one point, before the FBI got to him, contacted LulzSec, unaware that the FBI had already turned its head.
“It’s a sign that the FBI views WikiLeaks as a suspected criminal organization rather than a news organization,” says Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. “WikiLeaks was something new, so I think the FBI had to make a choice at some point as to how to evaluate it: Is this The New York Times, or is this something else? And they clearly decided it was something else.”
Given how the FBI has manufactured cases of semi-phony "terrorism plots," which Trevor Aaronson has well documented, Assange unknowingly had even more reason to be leery than he was. (That said, he also had more reason to button himself up, both metaphorically and literally, more than he did. That's not to say he's guilty of anything in Sweden, though optics aren't fantastic.)

And, speaking of that, on the issue at hand, Ms. Zvan simply would not extend the idea of "innocent until proven guilty," which holds true in Continental as well as Anglo-American legal systems, to Mr. Assange. That was on top of refusing to look at why Assange had good reason to be wary of a re-opened case.

(It gets richer yet; now I'm stalking her. Will I do a separate post about nth-wave feminism and apparent paranoia? Stay tuned.)

If you want another example of not extending the concept of innocent until proven guilty, also from an nth-wave feminist, read what Amanda Marcotte said about the Duke lacrosse team.

Or, you can get the lowdown on Zvan's "flirting advice," where she never, ever mentions the repeated issues of nth-wave feminist darling Rebecca Watson flirting with men, then getting huffy when they actually respond.

I didn't mention Watson by name, but we'll see if this nice, polite comment:
Let's also not forget that women can do "unrequited flirting" or whatever the hell you want to call it, with men. And do. And one gay man can do it with another gay man. Or one lesbian woman with another lesbian woman.
Gets posted. No, Zvan didn't mention this specifically as being only a heterosexual male wrongly coming onto a heterosexual female problem, but she sure left the implication that was her angle.

And, this is why, even for the "fun" of shooting fish in a barrel who refuse to admit they're dead, this is why I rarely do that in the Gnu Atheist drained pool, the Atheism Plusers' kiddie pool, or anything else. Or in the nth-wave feminist pool, either.

Beyond that, almost none of the folks in question, not just nth-wave feminists, but leaders of various sects and denominations within Gnu Atheism, seems to have much of a sense of humor. To me, that's another clear sign of fundamentalism. Has been ever since Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote "The Scarlet Letter."

A lot of folks "over there" either don't know how to laugh at themselves, or deliberately refuse ever to do so. And that includes Gnu Atheists in general and nth-wave feminists in general, even in the non-Venn-overlapping areas.

Besides, per a recent study, you Gnus are the least common of six main types of atheists. Stop stealing the oxygen of the rest of us.

"Technically private property" doesn't exist

Nope, something's either private property or it ain't. Whether voiced by (in this case) Gnu Atheists or fundamentalist religious people to justify disrupting an event on private property, there is no such thing as "technically private property."
Selective interpretation of laws can always be used against oneself as well as for oneself. You know, you (Gnu Atheists here) and a lot of others really need to read/see "A Man for All Seasons," namely how More demolishes Roper's somewhat analogous attempt to selectively apply the law.
You may not like fundamentalist (or even non-fundamentalist) Muslims, but you disrupt Friday prayers, or whatever, on their private property, whether in Sweden, or some future case in the US, or any other Western(-ized) country with the "rule of law," and you will be liable to arrest and criminal charges. It's that simple. And not "technically simple," it's just that simple.
And, this is yet another reason I'm not a Gnu Atheist. The movement has a selective and self-centered interaction with both facts and with logical reasoning.

June 30, 2013

#PZMyers channels his #GnuAtheist #FTB Watergate concern trolling


Ron Lindsay, CFI CEO
For those of you who don't keep up with the ins and outs of modern atheism, and its subgroup of Gnu Atheism, the flip side of at least conservative evangelical Christianity if not of hardcore fundamentalism, you can just skip this post.

That said, a recent brouhaha over a leading secular humanist organization, which has been slouching more toward Gnu Atheist Gomorrah, or Bethlehem, under its current executive director, Ron Lindsay, has now spilled out into the world of modern skepticism and leading light and fair-haired boy Chris Mooney. (Mooney's quite overrated in my book, including at least skirting the edges of scientism, but that's a matter for another blog post; in fact, it's the matter for more than one other blog post, and I've written them!)

Anyway, Mooney cohosts the popular Point of Inquiry skeptical podcast. Or, he did, until just a couple of days ago.

But, because of what Lindsay said at a recent Women in Skepticism conference, he and PoI cohost Indre Viskontas have resigned their positions with Center for Inquiry. Popular science and Gnu Atheist blogger P.Z. Myers channels his inner Woodstein, or Gerald Ford, by noting "CFI's Nightmare."

So, how did we get to this point?

First, here's a link to what Lindsay said. In summary, he criticized some nth-wave feminists, including Rebecca Watson by name, in part for abusing the word "privilege."

Shorter take by me? Nth-wave feminism exists. Watson, Stephanie Zvan ("wife" of Greg Laden) and others DO abuse the idea of "privilege." Maybe Lindsay could have put it more politely, and fired a gun smaller than a 12-gauge with both barrels. But he did what he did.

And, Watson (among others who are nth-wave feminists, and members of the Young Jacobins within Gnu Atheism, calling themselves Atheism+) responded. Largely wrongly.

Like this:
To summarize, Lindsay spends a good deal of time arguing against the idea that feminism as a movement has no significant internal disagreements, an absurd idea I have never actually heard expressed by any feminists, but I suppose Lindsay and I travel in different circles. Lindsay doesn’t mention who exactly has argued this point so I can’t check to see why on Earth they’d think something so obviously contradictory to reality. It seems impossible to me that a person could be involved in modern day feminism in any way without noticing the lively and occasionally contentious debates among feminists about topics like intersectionality, particularly with regards to the fringe radical feminists who hold openly transphobic beliefs.
Actually, from what I've read from various schools of feminism, and individuals within them, this actually is an issue. Unless one school things that by not discussing the differences, they can self-privilege? This ignores the convoluted writing, where RW does not make it clear at first whether she thinks Lindsay is denying significant internal disagreements in feminism, or denying the deniers of that. OK, she thinks he's denying that, she finally makes clear.

And, here's how she's wrong. Lindsay says:
But are there truly no significant divisions currently within the feminist movement? It would be surprising if that were the case b/c the feminist movement has had sharp divisions in the past. ...

Also if there were no divisions among feminists, that would arguably make feminism unique among social movements; the secularist movement has significant divisions.
Yeesh. Watson can't be much wronger than that.

I gave Watson a partial kudo, in another recent blog post, for pointing out some Pop Ev Psych errors by Ed Clint, though even there, her thinking was discombobulated.

Here?

She's a moron, and nothing more, on this part of Lindsay's talk.

As for him, the "White CEO," giving the introductory welcome/speech? What if he had sent CFI's top female employee instead? Would Watson have then accused him of tokenism?

That said, Lindsay then labeled her response to him thus:
“It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.”
Lindsay, who led a palace coup inside CFI against founder Paul Kurtz, still hasn't cracked the spine on "How to Win Friends and Influence People," should have kept his mouth, if not shut, at least more tightly monitored. And, per the Watergate part of the theme, apparently needs a lawyer's lawyer, or something.

Watson's piece had its degrees of dishonesty. I've just shown you one huge one. Was it 110 percent dishonest, though? No, probably not.

Did it deserve that much attention? No, certainly not.

And, trust me, as well as Ron, unless you toe the party line, nth-wave feminists have plenty of vitriol. From a vaguely related blog post at Patheos, a comment from Greg Laden's wife, Stephanie Zvan:
Well, Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, since no one else can be assed to step up and say this, no matter how much me being harassed "pisses them off", no matter how much they'll stand up for JT, fuck off, you putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime. It is not anything but vilely anti-social to spend two and half years after a woman tells you that rape allegations need to be taken seriously popping up any time she and the man on whose blog you were schooled are mentioned together to say that this woman is controlling this man's behavior by having sex with him.  
Bit of background on that.

We first really tangled over Julian Assange and the Swedish rape allegations. The take of not only me, but others, was ... nuanced. I can't remember exactly what I said, but I said the charges were a matter of serious concern. At the same time, I said it was legitimate to ask about Swedish political motivations for ... for reopening what had been a legally closed case, in essence. Given that we already knew then that Sweden had been a willing participant in more than one of the CIA's "renditions," and given the scenario of Edward Snowden now, I, and many others, said that Assange's request of the Swedish government that it offer an in-advance guarantee it wouldn't extradite him to the US was reasonable, at least.

Zvan's take on any "nuance" like that? It's siding with a rapist. Not even an alleged rapist, but a rapist. At least that's how I remember it at the time.

And, this is why, even for the "fun" of shooting fish in a barrel who refuse to admit they're dead, this is why I rarely do that in the Gnu Atheist drained pool, the Atheism Plusers' kiddie pool, or anything else.

I did respond to her once on thread there, and somebody, I assume her, has fired back. I didn't open the notification email.

And, if she wants to up the ante, as she now has, that's fine. (A friend sent me the link, and no, I haven't read the whole thing, and am not likely to.)

And, to fire back? Wikileaks had an FBI mole inside its ranks. Putting aside the issue of how Assange didn't suspect him, it underscores how right he has been to be suspicious in general. Thordarson  at one point, before the FBI got to him, contacted LulzSec, unaware that the FBI had already turned its head. But, that's NOT when the FBI turned him. Bottom line is, he appears as unstable as Assange himself.

Beyond all the other "issues" of Gnu Atheism, and even more of Atheism Plusers ....

As for Mooney, et al, leaving Point of Inquiry? Puhleeze, no hand-wringing. More on that below the fold.

Has Bora Zivkovic lost a bit of his science moorings?

Or, instead, is he simply making a move to get more chummy with Gnu Atheists, especially the Atheism Pluser kiddies?

I offer as proof this:

That's Bora, with Pluser kiddie Rebecca Watson.

If you follow modern "movement atheism" issues, and are of sound mind, no matter what you think about Watson's "Elevatorgate" concerns, if you're of sound mind and honest about it, you'll readily admit that she's no more scientifically, or skeptically, literate than the average American layperson.

So, what the hell was up with Bora Zivkovic, Scientific America's PR flak for its in-house and freelance bloggers, doing getting so fuzzy cute with Watson recently, at least per one of his recent Facebook pix? Bora: Really? Is she going to become a Scientific American blogger next? And, no, I'm not directly querying him about it. I'm in for a pound, not a metric ton, and while I like a fair bit of Bora, I suspect cuddling up to Watson is as much about boosting SciAm blog page views as anything else.

(Since Bora's Facebook posting status is not set to "public," I'm not posting the picture here. But, I have downloaded it! And, I have no problem commenting on it, because other people saw the photo being taken, and it's been shared, even if not on "public.")

I like Bora at times, certainly for his own blogging about bodily time rhythms in the animal world.

But, at other times, I'm definitely more critical.

He's way too much in bed with Jay Rosen-type thinking about how Gnu Media can do no wrong and Old Media can do no right. Now, I know his Gnu Media bread and wallet is buttered, but, on things like investigative journalism, as I've blogged before, Gnu Media simply doesn't have the overhead for that.

And, as I blogged a couple of years ago, his own magazine put out an arguably unethical special section about all-electric vehicles. The special section was entirely sponsored by General Motors and it falsely claimed the Chevy Volt was an all-electric, not a hybrid.

But, back to the point at hand.

Did Bora just chunk his critical thinking skills out the window?