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Mourning Joe Fatigue [sic]

Posted by Robert G. PIelke on November 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

“Mourning Joe Fatigue”


Are you getting mightily irritated with “Morning Joe” and yet you still watch the program? I am and I do, and I’m betting there are lots of you out there like me.


My increasing irritation has nothing to do with my political and/or social beliefs, which span the whole gamut of Morning Joe ideologues: I favor the smallest government possible, only necessary wars, a fiscally sound economy, a women’s right to choose, marriage equality for all, mandatory government supported health coverage for everyone, First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights with rigid national registration, and the full and complete legalization of marijuana. So my views are scattered hither and thither among the assorted “Joes of the Morning.” Further, I appreciate the varying opinionated (not a bad word) guests and the banter generated among all of them about these and other issues.


Further, I’m not a “furtive Fox Fiend” lurking frantically in the foliage waiting to feed on the journalistic entrails my more famous foe. In my long-ago past I considered myself a Republican. (I garnered support from my elementary school classmates for our mock election of Eisenhower vs. Stevenson. The poor schmuck that made similar overtures to our assemblage on behalf of Adlai managed only a meager ten to fifteen percent of the vote. But that Republican Party has ceased to exist.)


And I have always appreciated the attempt made by the show’s production staff to match the topics and issues with thought-provokingly and cleverly relevant musical selections. (The Ramones’s “I Wanna Be Sedated” comes to mind as apt for more than one of them.)


What I don’t like, and what irritates the hell out of me, is the “family” scenario that provides the context for the show. Why? Because it’s an infuriatingly dysfunctional family which calls attention to itself at the expense of the issues. The issues of the day are complex and provocative and we, as a people, need to deal with them. MJ makes only a scanty attempt to assist us.


There’s the pompous “father” who demands attention from all the others while he proclaims over and over again news items which were repeated tiresomely the day before and the days before that. (Yes, the “Obama-care” website is a disaster. I get it. I got it. I’ll get it again. But where is, for example, the follow up news about the specific alternatives being considered?) When others make an attempt to move on to another topic, the “father” raises his voice as if to slap his rowdy relatives back in their place.


The petulant “mother” reacts to the “father” with little more than repeated muggings for the camera. Her contributions to the discussions (when there are discussions) essentially boil down to “I agree” or “I disagree.” (One need only contrast her notions with those of her father whose thought provoking ideas make his appearances worth the effort of watching.)


Then there are the other “family members”: genial Uncle Mike, the rascally yet obedient sons (Harold and Willie), the suspiciously smiling son (Sam), the avuncular in-laws (Jonathan and Eugene), and the somewhat beguiled neighbors who squeeze in their various pairs of pennies as contributory observations (Donny, Mark , John, Steve and Jeffery). Oh sure there are the visitors who arrive to make additional comments which varying degrees of feigned seriousness (Peggy, Richard, Tina, Katty and “the ever Screeching Chris”). Then there are the lost souls who knock at the door and find themselves even more bemused than they were in their directionless wanderings which led them to the show in the first place (Michael, Andrea, and Chuck).


The family’s raison d’etre seems to be no more and no less than to provide an audience for the pomposity and petulance of their foster parents. In actual fact each one needs the other. The family without the parents would most closely resemble the lost boys in Lord of the Flies – with no one to control the conch. (I wouldn’t carry this any further, trying to decide who would be Ralph and Piggy, to say nothing of Jack. The general analogy is sufficient.) Analogizing the parents without the family brings to mind a whole host of candidates, but what occurs to me initially are older, more classic couples especially Fibber McGee and Molly, the Bickersons far less so. (If neither of these extremely popular radio shows is stored somewhere in your memory coils, a short visit to that infamous “web” will rectify this omission.)


Yet I watch, religiously, every morning. And so do you, my fellow sufferers from “Morning Joe-itis.” But do we watch it for the same essential reasons why people watch Survivor, American Idol and Kitchen Nightmares? Do we relish disfuctionality in human affairs? Maybe we watch because they occasionally make us laugh, and that’s important. It’s kind of nice in the world we live in that we can find a group of miscreants who, on occasion, bring out a chortle.


Onward, Erotica!

Posted by Robert G. PIelke on January 29, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Haven’t we pretty much heard it all, by now? What more is to be said about the “legal battles” to protect and preserve our First Amendment rights to express ourselves as we wish and to associate with whomever we wish? I don’t mean to suggest that legal battles are unimportant or should in any way be curtailed! Oh no! For the foreseeable future, they are absolute necessity.

My peeve is that such legal dances are all defensive! They are really not making any progress toward total and complete social, political, legal and, yes, moral acceptance. A pipe dream, you say? Why? With this kind attitude, you might as well concede everything to our opponents. It would imply giving up any pretense that what we are doing is not only legally our right, but morally our right as well. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to concede the “high moral ground”! Aren’t you sick and tired of "eroticists" being called “smut peddlers,” “merchants of trash,” “pornographers” and the like? The appellation “Adult material,” is hardly better! [Most movies are “adult material” too, regardless of their rating.

It’s time to move beyond the mere protection of our position to the attack! Erotica is just as morally worthy as any other facet of life. It belongs in the list that includes esthetics [with which it is often confused], education, religion, entertainment [another phenomenon with which it is often confused,] and yes, damnit, the family!

Everyone, and I do mean everyone quite literally, has their own notion as to the erotic and there should be no shame associated with such preferences. And, of course, they are all quite different. The often unexpressed hopes and desires of each of us is to find others who share the same general erotic outlook as we do.

Of course most of us are offended by tastes that differ from our own. But, that's life, and the First Amendment gives us -- or recognizes -- our right to offend. [Note: This no way should be understood to be a right to harm. That's a different critter and another discussion.]

War Without End: The Misuse of Metaphor

Posted by Robert G. PIelke on November 14, 2012 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Once upon a time the United States of America used to go to war. We did this several times. They were wars, like all wars, that pitted our nation against other nations. It was always all of “us” against all of “them.” These “Thems” have included England (two tmees0, Mexico, the Confederacy (a nation-wanna-be), Indian nations (actually more of a genocide than a war), Spain, Germany (two times), Japan, North Korea and North Viet Nam. And once upon a time we won most of these wars. (There’s one war in the list we didn’t quite win and another we sort of lost….but who’s counting?) Nevertheless, we usually won. How did we know this? Well, those other nations gave up or surrendered…simple! To be honest, not all of these wars were popular wars or good wars or even nice wars, but they all had the virtue of eventually coming to an end.

Since the Sixties (the nineteen sixties), however, our United States of America has often decided to go to war against some enemies that weren’t nations at all, like “poverty” and “crime” and “drugs.” No question about it: these were, and are, nasty enemies, and they all deserve to be destroyed. These wars were good wars, no question. But no one was deceived. These weren’t “real” enemies…not flesh and blood villains coming at us with fixed bayonets. They were metaphorical enemies! And neither were we fooled by calling them “wars.” Congress wasn’t called into special session, troops weren’t mobilized, and diplomats weren’t recalled from a foreign land. They were metaphorical wars! They were like real wars but not real wars. We knew this, and we weren’t being told otherwise. Most of all, we knew that, unlike a real war, these metaphorical wars would never come to an end. They weren’t supposed to. These enemies are “things” endemic to modern society and have to be dealt in one way or another…forever!

Just think what would happen, however, if someone were to confuse using “war” as a metaphor with the reality of war!? And suppose for a moment that this “someone” were in a position to act on this confusion! What would be “up with that”?

Wait a minute! Aren’t we “now engaged in a great…war…testing whether this nation…can long endure.”? And our new enemy is “terrorism,” right? But we’re not fooled, “Terrorism” isn’t a literal enemy, and there’s no literal nation to sally forth against, our “terrible swift swords” at the ready. It’s like all those other “wars” that continuously engage our attention and recourses – metaphorical wars that never end.

So if this “great war” is a metaphorical war, why are we literally contending against another actual nation? What happened to the metaphor? Did someone misunderstand what we’re supposed to be doing? After all, we never actually declared war on Iraq. In fact, we invaded Iraq to save Iraq! So clearly there was no nation that we are literally at war with. But if this is so, how can we tell when we win? Who’s going to surrender to us? Someone “in charge” is always telling us that “it will end…but after a long struggle.” But only real wars “end”; metaphorical wars don’t! They’re not supposed to end because the “enemy” is always with us.

In those “once upon a time” wars, we could always look forward to “living happily ever after” when the enemy surrendered and peace [a state of “non war”?] would be restored. And that’s pretty much what we’re being promised now. But Iraq isn’t going to surrender? Iraq is our friend! We’re not at war with Iraq – we’re at war with “terrorism”! Is “terrorism” going to surrender? I don’t think so…I don’t even know what that means.

So why do these people ‘in charge” keep taking about “Iraq” and “terrorism” and “winning” and “losing”? Are they talking about a real war or a metaphorical war? Somebody is confused. I know I am!



Media, Stop Giggling! Marijuana Law Reform Is A Serious Issue

Posted by Robert G. PIelke on November 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

[I copied this -- alrealdy republished several times]


Mason Tvert, co-director of the campaign that legalized marijuana in Colorado, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher for the opening one-on-one discussion with the host. Bill Maher essentially guaranteed campaign funding for marijuana legalization in 2014 in California if Mason would move there and direct the campaign. Visit THE Weed Blog article here to watch the whole clip.


In the Overtime segment that airs only on, Mason takes one of the questions from the internet that asks, “Do you have a timeline in mind for winning national legalization and regulation of marijuana?” (around 9:11)


Mason points to Colorado as the great example, as the state repealed alcohol prohibition prior to the federal government’s repeal. He explained how the states decided if the federal government wasn’t serious about enforcing the law, why should they put their time and resources into it?


“We need to stop talking about it as if it is funny,” said Andrew Sullivan, editor at The Daily Beast. “The right to save your own life is not that funny. The right to do with your own body as you please is not a subject of humor. It is a serious issue.”


Ep. 266 November 9, 2012 – Overtime

Samuel L. Jackson wonders if we’d have put the resources into the War on Poverty as we had the War on Drugs and Sullivan runs with it. “The criminalization of marijuana is essentially a war against black men in urban cities in a horribly racist way. It’s a serious matter!”


Add this to the excellent point Jon Stewart made on The Daily Show about news media deriding the legalization issue. The days of President Obama laughing off the marijuana issue are over – winning changes everything.


Republished with the special permission of the National Cannabis Coalition

Evolution vs. Stupidism

Posted by Robert G. PIelke on November 12, 2012 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

We seem now to be engaged in a great civil struggle, testing whether this movement or that movement – so conceived – can long endure.

Just as the above referenced contest of the mid nineteenth century pitted one just cause against a patently unjust cause, so also are we now in the midst of a struggle between science and stupidism. Lest ye think that I used this latter term lightly, let me reassure you: I intend it quite laterally. So I suppose I should begin with a few definitions.

First, let’s be clear about “science.” It’s not a set of beliefs or theories; it’s a procedure, a way of acquiring information about our universe. It’s an empirical procedure dedicated to developing hypotheses about reality and testing them – allowing the evidence to “speak for itself,” so to speak. No current empirical description is sacrosanct. Everything is subject to a constant critical engagement, and thus subject to revision or abandonment.

Now, let’s talk about “evolution.” Here is where a careful distinction has to be made between the general, abstract theory of evolution proper and various, specific hypotheses about how evolution actually works. One such, historically significant “theory” is “Darwin’s.” Another one was developed by a guy named Alfred Wallace [a theist, by the way]. Both theories have been fundamentally critiqued and either thoroughly revised [Darwin – especially after Gregor Mendel’s genetic theory helped explain the process more fully] or abandoned [Wallace]. No one – let me emphasize that – no one any longer questions the general theory of evolution. Yes, I mean no one!! The specific hypothetical theories, of course, are always being questioned, by science, and always will be.

What about “stupidity?” Good question....glad you asked. I’ll propose the following as a working definition, but I think it’s a pretty good one. “Stupidity” is simply the refusal to accept one’s ignorance when it is perfectly easy and rational to do so. Keep in mind that “being ignorant” is not a bad think. In fact we are all “ignorant” – about virtually everything. There are many things we don’t know – and know we don’t know! We are, in other words, aware of our ignorance. Before Copernicus, most people were genuinely unaware of the fact that the sun was the center of the solar system, and most of them had no way of knowing...that they didn’t know. They were ignorant...with no way to know that they were ignorant. When Galileo Galilei [yes, that’s his full name, in case you were ignorant of this!] made the world aware of the fact that Copernicus was right, they then became aware of their ignorance – gradually, of course, since the Roman Catholic Church had his books burned and had him imprisoned]. But, and here’s the telling point: the Papacy knew Galileo was right! Yet they persisted in “believing” that the earth was at the center of the universe. This persistence...the refusal to accept their a paradigm of “stupidity.” “teach” others to believe something to be true, when you know it to be untrue…is to practice “stupidism.”

So, are there people who “believe” in the “Creationist” account of human origins, when they fully well know it not to be true? Of course there are!! A prime example of this is the people who invented the Creationist-inspired “Dinosaur Adventure Land” in Pensacola, Florida, where dinosaurs supposedly frolicked with humans. [Remember, according to creationism, the world is only about 6000 years old [a la Bishop Ussher]. Naturally [dare I use this word!?] they would protest the authenticity of their beliefs, but all this means is that they may have talked themselves into believing it. Blaise Pascal advised Christians in the 17th century to undertake this very kind of self-deception....just in case! Can they know the truth? Of course! Do they choose to ignore their ignorance? Obviously!

Hence, we have a struggle in our time between the general notion of evolution and stupidism! What can be done about this, you ask. Another good question. Most important, it is for us, the “ignorant,” to be dedicated to the unfinished work which Darin and Mendel have so nobly advanced, the cause of science, and to the great task remaining before us – to rid humanity of stupidism.