7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.14)

7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.14) August 14, 2013

1. Stephanie Banister, a candidate for Australia’s anti-immigrant “One Nation” party, dropped out of the race after a TV interview revealed that, despite Banister’s fearing and hating Muslims, she didn’t seem to know anything about them (and the little she did “know” wasn’t so).

The interview is astonishing — and not just because she refers to Islam as “a country,” or because she says that Jews “have their own religion, which follows Jesus Christ.” It’s also astonishing, for American viewers, because Banister’s glib falsehoods are not allowed to go unchallenged by the TV news. The report corrects Banister’s wildly inaccurate statements immediately after she makes them. American “journalists” don’t usually do that. This is why zombie lies shamble on in America. And it’s why instead of having to withdraw from campaigns, people here who share Banister’s “unique understanding of the big issues” often wind up in Congress.

See also: John Oliver on Australia’s elections.

2. Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry.

3. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus: “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.”

What Priebus means by “I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction” is, roughly: “We’ve done such a good job lying about the meaning of that word that you idiots who vote for us don’t like it. You actually think, “You can’t tolerate my intolerance” is a meaningful statement rather than a soggy handful of semantic goo. I’m pleased that you morons continue to support us no matter how often we screw you over, but it is inconvenient, sometimes, that you’re so divorced from reality that I’m not able to use words that mean things when I talk to you.”

4. When you find yourself fighting in court for the right to lie in your advertisements, then you’re probably on shaky moral ground. When you vow to fight all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to lie in your advertisements, then you’re probably a lost cause, morally speaking.

I suppose an alternative approach for those folks would be to try not lying in their ads. But I suppose they figure it’s all they have.

5. FloridaFloridaFloridaFloridaFloridaFloridaFloridaFlorida. (That last one is not thoroughly depressing.)

6. If you suspect there’s a scam going on, but you can’t figure out who the mark is, then most likely you’re the mark: “Erick Erickson’s Endorsement of ‘Instant Millionaires’ Plan Is Lifted From Old Ann Coulter Emails.”

Steve Benen sums it up:

What we have here is an apparent scheme in which Erickson sends a paid letter to his supporters about someone else’s investment newsletter. That the letter was plagiarized adds insult to injury, but that’s hardly the most offensive part — people who choose to rely on Erickson were sent an ad masquerading as an endorsement, along with a link that sends readers to a page promising a “secret retirement plan” that “can make you America’s Next Millionaire!”

The ethos of this “Instant Millionaire” scam completely contradicts the hard-working, self-reliant values to which the conservative movement pays lip service — showcasing instead it’s highest actual value: money. “Instant Millionaire” cons work because they appeal to shameful motives — greed and the promise of great gain without effort due to some dubious, rule-bending loophole. People who get ripped off by such schemes are victims, but they’re less likely to report the rip-off because they are — appropriately — ashamed to have displayed such greed and amorality.

The scam promoted by Erick Erickson and Ann Coulter thus has quite a bit in common with the surprisingly effective “Let’s Have Sex on a Big Pile of Cash” scam.

7. RIP Jean Bethke Elshtain. I had the privilege of driving Dr. Elshtain to and from the airport a couple of times. She was gracious, charming and indisputably brilliant. Before reading Elshtain, I had harbored a sneaking suspicion that just-war theory was often just an after-the-fact rationalization employed by those seeking a semi-plausible moral fig leaf to justify their pre-existing decision to employ lethal violence for reasons of self interest. Reading Elshtain back in the 1990s helped convince me that this need not be the case. I’m still influenced by a profound panel discussion I heard in which Elshtain and Miroslav Volf contemplated the competing and corresponding demands of forgiveness and justice

Alas, reading Elshtain on just war post-9/11 reaffirmed my earlier suspicion about just-war theory. But before support for the Bush agenda detached her from her moorings — leading to her unconvincing attempts to recruit Augustine and Niebuhr as agents for Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz — Elshtain was an insightful, fearsomely learned thinker. This was not a small mistake for a political ethicist. It was an epic, defining mistake and it was sad to see unfold. So I am saddened by Dr. Elshtain’s passing, but I’ve also felt that way since about 2002.

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  • GuestPoster

    I hate to admit it, but I agree with the deputees in the Escambia shooting: assuming they’re not flat out lying, anyways, the followed a man they believed armed and dangerous, thought he had run into that house after finding the bucket and open window, tried to get someone in the house to respond, entered when nobody did, and shot a threat to themselves.

    I don’t think it could have been avoided, really, except by the owners answering the doors. It’s a terrible event, and the town should make reparations, but I honestly think they did what was right – look at a suspicious situation, try to determine if the homeowners are safe in a possible hostage scenario, and enter when unable to do so. They probably should have called in for backup, rather than making a raid, but if your job is to keep people safe, and you think they’re in danger, what do you do?

  • 3. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus:
    “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care
    for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it
    has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.”

    Well, that IS a change from “YOU MUST TOLERATE MY INTOLERANCE”.

  • MikeJ

    Regarding the depressingness or not of the baby sea turtle story: Newly hatched sea turtles have for millennia known that the moon and stars reflect off the sea, so heading towards the brightest light they can see gets them to safety. Light pollution is actually killing turtles by making them head towards parking lots. That’s pretty depressing.

    But it was good to read about somebody saving them.

  • P J Evans

    The ‘Susan B Anthony list’ people are lying even with their group’s name.

  • CeeQ

    Stephanie Bannister really had no chance. Aussies can’t let one pass – especially something as easy as “Jews believe in Jesus Christ.” I mean come ON. That’s too beautiful not to point and laugh. After politely correcting, of course.

    But one of the favourite moments in national politics, I believe, still includes One Nation party founder, Pauline Hanson, being interviewed on 60 Minutes regarding her bigoted views on Asian immigrants.

    60 Minutes: “Are you xenophobic?”
    Hanson: *silence. stares at interviewer for 5 seconds* – “Please explain?”

    The sheer irony of an obvious bigot not having a freaking clue what the term “xenophobic” meant was…..well….delicious. I’m pretty sure I heard a collective snort from the Aussie audience.

    Then in 2008, the reboot:

    Couric: “What do you read….which newspapers….(paraphrasing)?”
    Palin: *silence. stares at interviewer for 5 seconds* – “Any of ’em….all of ’em…..that’s been put in front of me all these years….”

    BAM! Nothing is new under the sun.

  • Antigone10

    Black people do not need tanning salons, therefore tanning salon taxes are racist….


    I mean seriously, what? And the argument “I asked some randon non-white person, and he said there was no need for them.” I’m as white as fresh milk, and I would say the exact same thing.

  • Lori

    So, Ted Yoho talked to the 007 of Hezbollah and this guy confessed that he had brought 1500 people into the country illegally who want to kill Americans and Ted’s response, as an elected official, is to do nothing other than use the story as a campaign talking point.

    Well sure, that totally happened and Yoho’s response makes perfect sense. [eyeroll]

  • rrhersh

    “before support for the Bush agenda detached her from her moorings —
    leading to her unconvincing attempts to recruit Augustine and Niebuhr as
    agents for Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz — Elshtain was an insightful,
    fearsomely learned thinker.”

    I am sincerely bewildered by how common this phenomenon is. It was transparently obvious at the time that Rumsfeld et al. were blatantly lying. I can understand people who were politically predisposed to believe them. I can understand uninformed people being scared by them. I cannot understand an intelligent and informed person being persuaded by them.

  • ohiolibrarian

    I’ve read of so many scientists/philosophers/writers/assorted other people who after a distinguished career displaying high level intelligence and critical thinking, end their careers by espousing some damn-fool nonsense and sometimes ruining their reputations. It’s sad.

  • Pam

    What really highlights the gulf between Australia and the USA is that Stephanie Banister was being interviewed on a news program that we’d consider fairly conservative, and yet even THEY openly made fun of her in their report.

  • Sometimes I think they do it on purpose, so no one will look them up and bother them later in life. At least, that’s my fervent hope when it comes to James “Africans are just naturally less intelligent than white people” Watson.

  • Mark Z.

    if your job is to keep people safe, and you think they’re in danger, what do you do?

    shot a threat to themselves.

    And thus they demonstrate which people their job is to keep safe.

  • GuestPoster

    To be fair, Watson didn’t say that. He said that there were no scientific studies to demonstrate the factuality of the statement one way or another. And, to the best of his knowledge (and, admittedly, mine) that is true.

    Now, I think that reality itself is a pretty grand experiment, and that African have more than proven themselves, on average, to be the equal of any other race, on average, and to have highs and lows on par with any other race. But reality, for all its value, is admittedly not a controlled, in the lab experiment in a peer-reviewed journal, and that is quite clearly what Watson was suggesting did not exist.

    But Watson was also factually accurate (at least, again, to the best of his knowledge). Of course, it was also a bloody stupid thing to say, especially in front of a big audience where at least one person was almost guaranteed to take it poorly and spread it in an out-of-context, slightly-reworded manner. And it did thrash his career, not that he had much left to it.

    Which, as is so often the case, really just goes to show: if people want to take what you said poorly, they’ll do it no matter what stands in their way.

  • GuestPoster

    Part of their job IS protecting themselves, yes. They can’t very well catch the crook if they die, can they?

    I suppose it comes down to this: where do you think the line should be drawn? If it was you, and there actually WAS a criminal in your house, and he actually was about to kill you, or your daughter, or the neighbor from next door who happened to stop by to return your pipe wrench… would you want the cop to investigate when nobody answered the door, knowing it would result in the 50% chance of a fatal shooting of the family dog? Or would you want to take your chances with the criminal?

    Police are, at least in that state, specifically allowed to invade a house, without warrant, if they reasonably suspect that a criminal has entered there. And, again assuming that they are not flat-out lying, they reasonably suspected this. The reasons such laws exist is because society has, by and large, leaned in on the side of letting the cop possibly shoot a dog to possibly catch a criminal.

    If you disagree, try to change the laws. But blatant unsupported rhetoric won’t help your campaign much.

  • He said that there were no scientific studies to demonstrate the factuality of the statement one way or another.

    “[I am] inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa [because] all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really.

  • caryjamesbond

    If only there was some naturally occurring way to tan. Possibly if we put some sort of giant tanning bulb in the sky, and made it shine on half the world at a time, for a period of 8 hours a day or more, it MIGHT, MIGHT be possible that tanning salons were pointless money traps for idiots.

    But alas, no such device exists.

  • I certainly have never heard of such a thing. :D

  • GuestPoster

    Yup. Interestingly, the exact quote you chose COULD be interpreted to mean that Africans had SUPERIOR intelligence. Now, I won’t even pretend that that’s what he meant… but you really are fighting an uphill battle if you’re going to quote ambiguous text out of context and pretend that it’s utterly definitive.

    Now, if we want to be REALLY smart, we could stop using out-of-context quotes (after all, all *I* can find is a handful of one-liners from outraged sources, not a full transcript of his speech), and try looking at a full document of what he DID say, right after the fact: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/james-watson-to-question-genetic-intelligence-is-not-racism-397250.html.

    Check the bottom of the second paragraph: “That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.” Note that this is what I claimed in the first place: he EXPLICITLY says that there is no scientific basis for what you claim he said. Which you’ve been unable to supply evidence of him actually having said, of course.

    He also said:
    “There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”

    which also sounds terrible… yet is entirely true (and also rather supports MY claim, since if he thought there was valid science to the contrary, he might easily have reshaped the quote to suggest that). There is no reason at all to suspect that, because we haven’t done the tests. And wanting something badly enough doesn’t make it so, unless you act on that want.

    Frankly, I think he puts vastly too much emphasis upon nature, and not nearly enough upon nurture. But he is right: the science hasn’t been done. And Watson isn’t the greatest guy on earth by a long shot. But I won’t pretend that he’s a monstrous racist just because an out-of-context quote provided by a bunch of outraged moralists could possibly be interpreted in several ways, one of which could mean he was calling Africans genetically less intelligent than others. Heck, I won’t even pretend he said that, unless actual proof can be supplied.

  • Perhaps a full transcript would clear this up, but I’m having no better luck than you are. If anyone’s able to get through the paywall, the original article is apparently here: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/books/article73186.ece

    (Another thing for which we can thank Rupert Murdoch!)

  • Antigone10

    Yes, but if SUCH a thing existed, it might be dangerous. As opposed to getting yourself baked at an always-hygenic, safe environment like a tanning salon.

  • LL

    I have a degree in journalism. The way most people in this country (America) practice journalism makes my degree seem like (kind of) a waste of time.

    For those who wonder how journalism is actually supposed to be practiced, go to spj.org. And esp check out the section “Code of Ethics” (it’s buried under the Journalist’s Resources menu).

    Journalists are actually supposed to challenge ignorance, not aid and abet it. By this standard, most of the people drawing a salary for journalism in the U.S. today are not journalists, or at least not the ones on TV. They’re closer to my line of work, PR and marketing.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Black people do not need tanning salons, therefore tanning salon taxes are racist…


  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Yo Ho, Yo Ho,
    A politician’s life for me!”

  • Carstonio

    I think of tanning salons as human hot dog warmers.