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May 01, 2010

Obama gives commencement speech at UMich, cautions against anti-government rhetoric

Obama takes direct aim at anti-government rhetoric - Yahoo! News
Obama used his commencement speech at the University of Michigan to respond to foes who portray government as oppressive and tyrannical. He also appealed for a more civil political debate and advised graduates to seek out and consider alternative views on the issues of the day, even if it makes their "blood boil." Just 45 miles from the immense Michigan Stadium, capacity of 106,201, 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin held court in Clarkston, tearing into Obama's policies at a forum hosted by the anti-tax Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The president told students and others in the audience — the school stopping giving out tickets once 80,000 were distributed — that debates about the size and role of government are as old as the republic itself. "But it troubles me when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad," said Obama, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree. "For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us."

A lack of empathy is the root cause of bigtory, stupidity

slacktivist: Empathy and epistemic closure If you've ever wondered why the Tea Partiers are so stupid, why the Arizona government is so monstrously bigoted, well, Fred Clark has an answer for you. Fred Clark is fairly devastating here. Please click through and read the whole thing.
The recent conservative opposition to empathy might seem like a symptom of this epistemic closure, but I think it's more than that. I think it's a cause -- maybe even the root cause. Empathy, at its most basic level, is epistemic. It is sometimes discussed as though it is identical to love, respect or regard for others, but really it precedes that. It is what makes such love, respect or regard for others possible -- what informs it. Empathy is a way of seeing, and therefore a way of knowing. To avoid empathy is to limit one's own perspective to only one's own perspective -- to choose not to see and therefore to choose not to know. Worse than that -- it is to choose not to be able to know. Empathy, in other words, makes you smarter and wiser. Rejecting empathy makes you dumber and more foolish. To choose not to see what empathy shows us is to choose stupidity. Stupidity has become a major, if not wholly acknowledged, theme in recent American politics. From Arizona to Massachusetts, it is a glaringly obvious fact of our political discourse, but one that is rarely spoken of directly. Let's set such timid delicacy aside and state the obvious: The tea partiers are stupid. Look at them, listen to them -- these are stupid people behaving stupidly. They are hideously ill-informed and monstrously unconcerned with the fact of their being so ill-informed. Their stupidity fuels their anger and their anger fuels their stupidity. Spend five minutes listening to them and the overwhelming impression of resentful stupidity will only be reinforced. Spend hours listening to the speakers receiving the cheers at their rallies and hours more listening to Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or any of the other demagogic leaders of this mob of a movement and the conclusion becomes undeniably confirmed: Stupid, stupid, stupid. . . . The stupidity of the tea partiers has nothing to do with innate intelligence or with acquired intelligence. It has nothing to do with smartness or brainpower or where anyone falls on the bell curve of Stanford-Binet test scores. It is, rather, a moral stupidity, a moral imbecilism that produces simple imbecilism -- the inevitable intellectual consequence of a selfish refusal to listen to what empathy is shouting from all sides.

April 30, 2010

More African Sci-Fi

I continue to be excited about sci-fi coming out of...

Some Arizona Sheriffs publicly refusing to obey new racist law

The Dupnik rebellion: Pima's top cop says "no" to SB 1070 - KGUN 9 On Your Side, Tucson News, Weather & Sports
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pima County's top lawman says he has no intention of enforcing Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigration. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik calls SB 1070 "racist," "disgusting," and "unnecessary." Speaking Tuesday morning with KGUN9's Steve Nunez, Dupnik made it clear that while he will not comply with the provisions of the new law, nor will he let illegal immigrants go free. "We're going to keep doing what we've been doing all along," Dupnik said. "We're going to stop and detain these people for the Border Patrol." The sheriff acknowledged that this course of action could get him hauled into court. SB 1070 allows citizens to sue any law enforcement official who doesn't comply with the law. But Dupnik told Nunez that SB 1070 would force his deputies to adopt racial profiling as an enforcement tactic, which Dupnik says could also get him sued. "So we're kind of in a damned if we do, damned if we don't situation. It's just a stupid law." Dupnik had harsh words for anyone who thinks SB 1070 will not lead to racial profiling. "If I tell my people to go out and look for A, B, and C, they're going to do it. They'll find some flimsy excuse like a tail light that's not working as a basis for a stop, which is a bunch of baloney."