Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment

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  • Russell Brown,

    This guy has based his whole blog around pulling apart arguments made by denialists of many stripes

    Good comments too. The first one for this post explains the Ron Paul thing quite well:

    Ron Paul is a paleoconservative, the most mainstream American political tendency ideologically closest to neofascism. Other paleocons include Pat Buchanan, Lew Rockwell, Joseph Sobran, Justin Raimondo, Samuel Francis. They are not themselves neofascists, but there is a continuum of paleocons with white nationalists. (I want to be very careful with this, because "fascism" often gets thrown around imprecisely and incorrectly as a political weapon.) Paleocons, like neofascists, tend to be anti-Zionist, isolationist, antiglobalization, economically populist, and extremely culturally conservative. They also are prone to conspiracy theorizing. Both paleocons and neofascists identify neocons, as well as "Zionist" Democrats, as their main enemies on the American political landscape. There is a lot of heterogeneity within paleoconservatism, or within neofascism for that matter. Again, I don't mean to imply that Ron Paul himself is a fascist (even less so than some paleocons); rather, several of his policy positions are attractive to fascists.

    Paleoconservatives can sound very appealing to many on the left of center when they talk about US foreign policy, US-Israel relations, economic populism, and globalization.

    Although the economic populism thing doesn't really apply to Paul. Or perhaps it does, in a different, the-government-is-robbing-you way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wow. That Orcinus blog that's been tracking Ron Paul is awesome.

    This astonishing (and possibly unreliable) "outing" of Paul as a regular in white nationalist circles by a fellow traveller is amazing (read the comments!).

    And there's a bundle in Ron Paul vs. the New World Order.

    He's a John Birch (or Zenith Applied Philosophy/Trevor Loudon) paranoid crazy from way back.

    But returning to the idea of the essential unity of all conspiracy theory, couldn't the following, from an interview Paul gave to Conspiracy Planet, have equally come from any number of characters on the radical Left?

    RP - Well, just everything they've done. Everything the U.N. does from day one, you give up a certain amount of your sovereignty. And, the worst giving up is this notion of going to war under U.N. resolutions, which we did very quickly after we got in the United Nations. There was a U.N. resolution and we sent off all those men to get killed in Korea.

    Whether it's that, or the WTO that manages trade, or the IMF that we subsidize with our taxpayers' money and then they go off and play games with their special interests. They rarely ever help poor countries. The World Bank isn't any better. That's an international welfare scheme. It's sold as a scheme that's going to help poor people in poor countries. But, all these programs end up helping the very wealthy, connected corporations and banks.

    Gotta love those global banking elites ...

    In other news, one of the New Hampshire polls has Paul coming third.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Steve: "Does this guy know how that life-sustaining ball of fire in the sky works?"

    Philip: "Well yes. Last I looked at the science, Big Yella is supposed to be kitted with a nuclear FUSION reactor under the hood, runs on hydrogen, and burps helium out the tail pipe. Very green and trendy. Gets a 5 five eco-star rating.

    By contrast all the nulcear power station technologies currently in use (and for the foreseeable future) use FISSION reactors which, for a whole bunch of reasons are environmentally like running the kids to school in a Hummer that runs on a distillate of humpback whale oil. No eco-stars at all."

    I understand the difference between fission & fusion. The response that you quoted is a reaction to someone saying nuclear power (no qualification) is intrinsically evil. Even if we were just referring to nuclear fission, that would be absurd enough. The idea that deriving power from atomic interactions is inherently “evil” is dopey, especially in light (no pun intended) of the sun being a big nuclear reaction.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    <quote>RB: James is funny, leave him be.

    Wot, no telling off for me? Are all my efforts in vain?</quote>

    Sorry K-dog. You da man, but your posts have too much going for them for me to even hint you should ease up. I feel your pain regarding Hoagland, badastronomy.com being my lead on that nonsense.


    And hey, who's bad mouthing FISSION, it's what powers the plate tectonics and Rotorua, dude. The core heat's not all that big, but we'd not be here without it.
    Shame about the nuclear waste though, DU does indeed have a seriously long half-life, and does bad things to the birth defect rates in Iraq and amongst returned servicemen in the US.

    But returning to the idea of the essential unity of all conspiracy theory, couldn't the following [...] have equally come from any number of characters on the radical Left?

    The political spectrum's a circle, man. Or a donut. Maybe a sphere. Either way, people who don't like the NWO, they don't have to agree on everything.

    I'm still stuck on Huckabee's idea that angels grab the bullets that come out of his rifle barrel and direct them into the hearts of the deer he shoots. I mean, how do they do that when it's spinning so fast? 8]

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    What, I can't put a quote in a quote now? Pfft. It's bad enough the comments don't thread, but now I discover I can't even pretend they do. Ah well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    </aside>

    I heard on RadioLive news today speculation that Nandor may 'step down' at the next election. (It sounded like double-speak ie they are trying to push him out to make way for the new co-leader) Are the Greens crazy? Unless he's now on P, why would they not want/convince him to stay?

    There's a whole demographic that love the idea of a dope smoking rasta MP, and I doubt the Greens could retain those votes without him.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Wilkie,

    The response that you quoted is a reaction to someone saying nuclear power (no qualification) is intrinsically evil.

    Nuclear fusion is a wholly different process to nuclear fission, and one with a completely different hazard profile. There are no fusion reactors generating power at present, and there will likely be none resulting from the current main line of research, for decades into the future.

    Context is everything buddy. ALL nuclear power generation, both current and foreseeable, is a fission reaction. The original quote can only reasonably be taken in that context.

    Yes they both involve atomic interactions, but that is about where the similarities end. Failing to "qualify" between the two is a spurious and hypothetical argument, akin to worrying about how many reactors can meltdown on the head of pin... or something.

    Look, what you attempted was a slightly sophisticated version of the old "the Greenies are Luddites" smear, which usually crumples up and crawls away when exposed to even the most rudimentary facts. But please feel free to have another go at resurrecting it; opportunity is everything too.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Nuclear fusion is a wholly different process to nuclear fission, and one with a completely different hazard profile.

    Does its hazard profile include being intrinsically evil?

    Yes they [fission & fusion] both involve atomic interactions, but that is about where the similarities end. Failing to "qualify" between the two is a spurious and hypothetical argument,

    The guy was describing a form of energy as “intrinsically evil”. I very much doubt he was meaning to say: “nuclear fission power is intrinsically evil. Though let me be clear, that fusion power... much respect. I’ve gots me a lot of time for that fusion.”
    He was displaying an irrational fear of the power of the atom - that’s the salient point here.

    Look, what you attempted was a slightly sophisticated version of the old "the Greenies are Luddites" smear, which usually crumples up and crawls away when exposed to even the most rudimentary facts.

    “Usually”, but not always? That’s good enough for me. The statement “The Greenies are luddites” is too generic to be of use, but I do think Greenies can demonstrate an over-attachment to an idea they’ve embraced, at the expense of science.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Could the Herald possibly get someone with some credibility to write on this issue?

    Why? They're doing a fabulous job as the PR wing of the National party.

    That's what they are, right? A party political organ?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Why? They're doing a fabulous job as the PR wing of the National party.

    That's what they are, right? A party political organ?

    And it would have worked too... if it weren't for those pesky kids! And Scooby-Doobie-Doooooo Too!

    I'mm sure the more excitable Kiwiblog regulars would agree with you 100%, though they might have a small difference over whose organ Tim Murphy strokes six nights a week. I'm sure it would be vastly amusing, though be warned - I find The Exorcist piss-your-pants funny.

    Now, a more useful question would be this: Are basic numeracy and statistical and scientific literacy considered important skills in the contemporary newsroom? And if not, why not?

    I'm not saying (for example) you can't be a perfectly competent and scrupulous health reporter without a ladle of alphabet soup after your name. Just a few more hacks and editors who understand why the phrase "correlation does not imply causation" actually matters would be a start.

    And I don't think political bias has anything to do with it, rodgerd, unless indulging confirmation bias is more important than piss-poor non-journalism that veers from the asinine to the outright sinister (like the PR puffery disguised as current affairs surrounding Sensing Murder)..

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The guy was describing a form of energy as “intrinsically evil”. I very much doubt he was meaning to say: “nuclear fission power is intrinsically evil. Though let me be clear, that fusion power... much respect. I’ve gots me a lot of time for that fusion.”
    He was displaying an irrational fear of the power of the atom - that’s the salient point here.

    I don't know where the original quote came from, or indeed if it was an actual quote, or just something someone made up to poke fun at greenies. I don't particularly care either way about the statement and whether it makes the quot-ee, or quot-or look silly.

    But it's certainly possible to say "nuclear power is evil" while knowing that the sun is a form of nuclear power, and actually just mean the nuclear power stations. Personally, if someone was to say "nuclear power" to me I'd assume they meant power sources that plugged into electrical wires, not also those that sent life-giving light.

    In much the same way I'd like to be able to say "guns are dangerous" and have that lead to a sensible debate on whether people should be allowed to carry guns that kill, rather than some brainy sort diverting the conversation into "but BB guns are guns too!" for half an hour.

    As to whether a source of power can be evil... surely there's better things to debate, like whether it's a good or bad thing?

    “Usually”, but not always? That’s good enough for me. The statement “The Greenies are luddites” is too generic to be of use, but I do think Greenies can demonstrate an over-attachment to an idea they’ve embraced, at the expense of science.

    I remember - I think it was an early speaker post by Dave Hayward - where he analysed the energy policies of all the major parties in the leadup to an election, and found, to his surprise, that the Greens had the most sensible, most scientifically based policy which matched what he believed as someone who had worked in the industry. Two quotes: "it takes all sorts", and "it's not easy being green".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    It wasn’t a quote, it was an anecdote. I was agreeing with the sentiment in this comment from Kracklite: “I'm definitely tempted [to vote Green], but I have the feeling that they'd try to ban the Sun if they found out that it was nuclear powered." This also prompted my use of the phrase “nuclear power”. I think he was being a little facetious, and so was I.

    In much the same way I'd like to be able to say "guns are dangerous" and have that lead to a sensible debate on whether people should be allowed to carry guns that kill, rather than some brainy sort diverting the conversation into "but BB guns are guns too!" for half an hour.

    But that diversion would obviously just be pedantry. And “guns are dangerous” is a more sensible starting point for a conversation about guns & gun use than “such-and-such power source is intrinsically evil”.

    As to whether a source of power can be evil... surely there's better things to debate, like whether it's a good or bad thing?

    Agreed. And it’s difficult to debate whether it is a good or bad thing in a particular circumstance with someone whose starting position is that it’s the preferred power source of Satan.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But that diversion would obviously just be pedantry. And “guns are dangerous” is a more sensible starting point for a conversation about guns & gun use than “such-and-such power source is intrinsically evil”.

    Ah, you need to spend some time talking to NRA lobbyists. "Sensible? Guns don't kill people! People kill people!" Or, if you like to remain non-violent and not bash them with the butt of a gun, like me, stay away from them :)

    And it’s difficult to debate whether it is a good or bad thing in a particular circumstance with someone whose starting position is that it’s the preferred power source of Satan.

    Yes true. But I think it'd be fairer on the Greens (or, small-g, greens), if they were fairly represented in terms of their knowledge rather than by stereotypical anecdote. I think we'd probably find that most Greens could give you a pretty good amount of information about the various sorts of energy as it's a particular interest of theirs. Better than members of most other political parties. They'd be pretty biased, but that's what politics is about.

    After all, a sizeable portion of our community portion of our community believes the earth is only six thousand years old and was made in seven days. Which, if it's true, must have some pretty big implications for the energy debate. I'm going to listen to the greenie first I think.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Snowy,

    Russell it's reassuring to see that despite writing for APN's Listener you're still prepared to criticise APN's Herald.
    And good choice of title too, as the country's largest paper focussed primarily on our largest city, the Herald is an embarrassment.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    I remember - I think it was an early speaker post by Dave Hayward - where he analysed the energy policies of all the major parties in the leadup to an election, and found, to his surprise, that the Greens had the most sensible [policies].

    While that was a bit of a straw man (in that I never said the Greens had worse energy policies than another given party), you remember correctly. The article, on Speaker here, is interesting. I thought the righties might get generally low ratings, but boy, he really castigates them! Labour came off good, though. (Btw, his opinion that nuclear power is not for NZ, but might be appropriate for some countries under some circumstances, is pretty much what I think.)

    Ah, you need to spend some time talking to NRA lobbyists. "Sensible? Guns don't kill people! People kill people!" Or, if you like to remain non-violent and not bash them with the butt of a gun, like me, stay away from them :)

    I’d rather aim a stereotypical anecdote or facetious comment the NRA’s way any day, but I’m a little worried what they might aim back.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

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