Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top Five Stupid Beliefs in 2010 - Part Two

The first part of this article can be found here:
http://riskinghemlock.blogspot.com/2010/12/top-five-stupid-beliefs-in-2010.html

After the conclusion of this debate, Dan Reagan sent me a personal e-mail continuing the dialogue. While normally I would have been reluctant to post the contents of that discussion on this blog (given its inherently private nature), the fact that so much of it contained attacks on various other participants in the original discussion made me feel rather disgusted at Dan's cowardice; if there is one thing I despise, its people who will only fight a target when it can't strike back.

Here, then, is the entirety of my exchange with Dan Reagan:

Matt,

On one hand I broke my own rule about Facebook..I responded to one of your posts simply by posting a link to an article. What then happened? Your "fan club" of like minded group think other 20%ers led by this little snot nose Sean, jumps in and A) calls me asinine, B) calls me ignorant at least once if not twice.

This after I supplied him with data. True, one of my numbers was a little off (which I'll get back to in a moment) but never the less, other than quoting Jack Nicholson in a very famous movie after supplying said data, and referring to him as a lib when doing so, I was not rude to him in any way. I asked him to go and look stuff up rather than sit there and hurl bombs and insults like some snot nose punk!

For all of that, you at the end of a 1500 word or so post (give or take a few hundred words) have the utter audacity to lecture me about civility towards that PUNK!! Go back and read the thread again. It was he that was rude to me! He said he was going to sip hot chocolate and I said seriously "don't burn your tongue." If I had said, "Hope you burn your tongue!" You could say something to me about civility. But for that shithead to call my posts asinine, and ignorant and for YOU to say I was not civil to HIM is FLAT OUT WRONG!!!

NOW...now that that's out of the way..as I said in the first line of this email, I kind of broke my own rule (sort of) about Facebook by even acknowledging your farce of a post! Yes, it is a farce in my book. Let's face it Matt, you and I live on different planets politically...no make that different solar systems. We'll never agree on anything I don't think. We are 180 degrees out of phase which is fine. So I probably shouldn't have even dropped that American Thinker article on you because I should have known it would open up Pandora's box for little obnoxious creeps like Sean to jump in an act like he did.

In the world you live in, Barack Obama is moderate I guess and has done some moderate things during his presidency. I see him as a radical ideologue, with strong Marxist beliefs. He has learned at the feet of Saul Alinsky, (he even taught from Alinsky's book at Harvard) and he's learned Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" well. (So said Alinsky's son himself).

The first part of your post was an absolute testament to the old saying "If you can't dazzle em with footwork, you baffle em with bullshit." Here, presented by a mountain of statistical data going back almost a decade, covering a wide range of topics from Wall Street, to Bank Foreclosures, to unemployment, to the National Debt...it was all lined up for you column A and column B Democratic controlled Congress and Republican controlled... and because the numbers were so overwhelmingly against your position, on EVERY issue, what do you do? You make this 200 word theory that sounds something like this..

"For example, if I point out that breast cancer mortality has significantly decreased since 1997 and that Bill Clinton was president in 1997, does that mean that Bill Clinton is responsible for that decline? If I observe that obesity rates spiked in 1976 and that that was the year in which Jimmy Carter was elected president, does this prove that Carter's impending ascent to the White House caused Americans to gorge on the contents of their cupboards?"

Comparing Breast Cancer rates, or obesity rates to whom was in office as opposed to the spending policies of the national government over a 2 or a 4 year period is comparing apples to watermelons! It's beyond ludicrous!! You're taking societal, scientific, and genetic issues that presidents have no control over and comparing them to how the government spends our tax dollars which the president DOES have a say in! If you can't see that, then I'm speechless! There is no relevancy to your argument whatsoever.

So, let's go back to the beginning sort of speak....liberals like you, always resort to the old playbook which is Page 1...Play the race card! Did you do that here? No, not directly but if you look at number 2 I believe in your merry little list, you took your weekly (it seems) incorrect shot at teapartiers calling them racists. So yes, in a way you did

Page 2 in the liberal playbook Blame Bush!! AH....a Golden Oldie that really truly never gets old! You guys use it so much that it stays number one really on the charts with a bullet now since 2001! You blame Bush for everything from global warming, to Iraq, Afghanistan, taxes (more on that in a moment) oil, (another favorite of the radical left) and of course blame Bush for being not smart enough, even though, our current "Commander in Chief" can't say "Hi I'm Barrack Obama" if it isn't written down on 3 teleprompters (or idiot boards as Walter Mondale so aptly named them).

Page 3 in the playbook..excoriate the rich! Which of course you did by blaming Wall street in your long winded, left wing rant (got to feed your fans and keep them left wingers happy...I know..good job!) And last but not least in the playbook...there's always DEMONIZE Palin or whoever the flavor of the month is.....Can't wait until Paul Ryan starts really carving up the budget when the Adults take over in January to see what the Lamestream press starts writing and saying about him! Or will they just keep piling on Boehner? They've already taken out the spears and started putting it into him...

"The fundamental premise behind Keynesian "pump priming" theory is that, when a recession or depression takes place, you use the government to bring about the recovery that the private market is no longer capable of providing by injecting a stimulus into the economy equivalent with what has been lost in GDP. "

Thus started your explanation on Keynesian (proven failure just look at Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, ) economics which I really don't have the time to go into a detailed rebuttal on now. The government doesn't create jobs, nor does it help create wealth for anyone. All it does is take wealth away. The government doesn't create jobs!! Look at it's track record...The postal service...broker than broke..a proven failure...BILLIONS of red ink! Amtrak...ditto!

I traveled all day yesterday and have to hop in the shower to go to work now...so I have no time to expound more or get back to other things like I'd like to (like taxes for one).

I wrote this E-MAIL to you because I WILL NOT engage in ANY LONG WINDED discussions on FB!! I've told you that before. If you dare drop another 1500 word missive on me again like you did yesterday...I will de-friend forever!
I love you but this is my preferred method of communication. We clear? Facebook is basically a WASTE OF TIME!!

Dan

Dear Dan,

I am going to respond to what you wrote point by point:

- Even though you open your letter by acknowledging that posting your comments on Facebook opens you up to external criticism, you proceed to spend the next three paragraphs complaining that Sean Davis and my friends (in this case I assume you mean Christina Cruz, since she was the only other friend who contributed to this conversation) spoke out against you. The reality is that, if you post your comments in a public forum, anyone who has access to that forum has the ability and right to respond to them. Even though you may say that this is why you don't like to post responses on Facebook, the reality is that regardless of your normal preferences, on this occasion you DID post your reply on Facebook. As such, it is downright petulant to complain that others who saw that post chose to read and react to it.

- I find it amusing that you refer to Sean and Christina as being a "fan club" of "like-minded group thinkers" for three reasons:
- They can and do disagree with me on many issues. It just so happens that, on every occasion in which you and I have debated, they wind up believing I am correct, just as you no doubt believed Tucker Carlson was correct whenever he debated Paul Begala. The fact that Sean and Christina have shared my position when I've debated you doesn't mean that they don't diverge from me - or from each other - on other occasions.
- You have a very convenient habit of accusing liberals of "group think" whenever they express opinions that you dislike. While this would be a legitimate position if you supported it with evidence, the fact that you invariably fail to do so makes it clear that your real motive for making this claim is that you simply don't like what liberals have to say and - rather than taking them seriously on their own terms - find it easier to disparage their motives and dismiss them accordingly.
- You have proudly referred to yourself as a "dittohead" follower of Rush Limbaugh. As such, hearing you accuse others of group think would be a bit like me calling other people fat.

- Your attitude toward Sean was extremely condescending from beginning to end, and he merely responded in kind. I find it remarkably lacking in self-awareness that you can gloss over your own patronizing attitude toward him but find it objectionable that he referred to your arguments as "asinine" and "ignorant." This refers back to your overall complaint about people disagreeing with you on Facebook; YOU, and only you, made the decision to post your thoughts in a public forum. When someone expressed passionate disagreement with you, YOU and only made the choice to respond in kind. For you to gripe about all of this now reminds me of Harry Truman's famous adage, "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."

- For the record, having known Sean for many years, he is neither a "punk" nor an "obnoxious creep." I can't really say whether he's a "snotnose," since in this weather he may very well have a cold, but I assure you that even if his sinuses are congested, the rest of his head is quite clear.

- Saying that Barack Obama is a moderate is NOT my opinion; it is an objective reality. Indeed, the very fact that you think this could simply be dismissed as "Matt Rozsa's opinion" strikes at the heart of one of the major problems in modern American politics - i.e., the fact that we tend to throw around terms without having the slightest idea as to what they mean. If you want further proof that Obama is not a Marxist, see this blog article I wrote nearly two months ago: http://riskinghemlock.blogspot.com/2010/10/miltons-letter-or-my-thoughts-on-morons.html

- Incidentally, Saul Alinsky also wasn't a Communist. If you read about his life's work (which I have done), you will see that Alinsky was a pragmatic community organizer, one who placed the importance of getting results on various social issues (ending the war in Vietnam, fighting for affordable housing in inner cities, attaining civil rights in the South, etc.) over subscribing to any ideology. Indeed, when asked about his ideological persuasion, Alinsky offered a response that both of us would be wise to take to heart:

"I've never joined any organization—not even the ones I've organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it's Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as 'that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right.' If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide."


- Your response to my first paragraph is a classic example of what logicians refer to as "the straw man fallacy," which is defined by The Nizkor Project (an organization dedicated to debunking Holocaust denial) as:

The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of "reasoning" has the following pattern:

  1. Person A has position X.
  2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
  3. Person B attacks position Y.
  4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person.

Your response to my main point against you was a blatant example of the straw man fallacy. The opening paragraph that you quote was clearly written as a way of illustrating my point, not (as you falsely depict it) as the actual point itself.

Here was what I argued:

"It (your article) commits the classic "post hoc" logical fallacy, i.e., one in which the arguer assumes that establishing correlation automatically proves causation... Establishing correlation is merely the first step to making a sound argument; once you have done so, the evidentiary burden falls on you to demonstrate a causal as well as correlative relationship. An unwillingness and/or inability to do so reveals that your argument is without merit. This brings me back to the article you posted. Although it attempts to argue that Democrats and/or liberals (not the same thing) are responsible for our current economic plight, the only way it backs that up is by providing (extremely selective) statistics that show how various negative occurrences seemingly corresponded with Democratic control of Congress and/or the White House. This argument is inherently incomplete unless it also proves that those events were caused by Democratic policies. Not only does Yossi Gestetner (the article's author) fail to meet that requirement, but in fact he doesn't even try to do so, making his position logically unsupportable and anyone who parrots him as intellectually lazy as they are irrational."

Until you have addressed my claim that Gestetner's argument is a post hoc fallacy, any and all statistics you throw out regarding correlation between pre-and-post 2007 economic indicators and Democratic control of Congress is logically moot.

- Oh, and Sean also made an excellent point which you conveniently neglected to address: Gostetner and you both take for granted that Democratic control of Congress automatically meant that they had control of "the purse strings." This, of course, ignores the fact that George W. Bush was president during the first two years of Democratic rule and that liberals spent the vast majority of their time fighting his policies rather than attempting to implement any new ones of their own.

- It's interesting that you suddenly have taken an interest in the point on my list where I criticize Tea Party racism, since that has nothing to do with our original argument. That said, I can more than back up my assertion that they are bigoted. See: http://riskinghemlock.blogspot.com/2010/10/tea-party-racism.html

Incidentally, I am only guilty of "playing the race card" if what I'm identifying isn't really racism. Since the Tea Party is actually racist, I am not playing the race card with them.

- Similarly, accusing liberals of using "Blame Bush!" as a tactic only works if Bush does indeed not deserve to be blamed. That said, he did exacerbate global warming by rejecting the Kyoto Treaty and refusing to tighten emission standards, he did engage us in military quagmires in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he did explode our budget deficit and increase income inequality by cutting taxes on the wealthy, and he did allow oil interests to control our government. Saying that liberals are simply using a tactic when they "Blame Bush!" is like saying that Baltimore residents in the 1980s were simply using a tactic when they "Blame Bob Irsay!" We're not wrong for blaming someone if our accusations against them are founded.

- Barack Obama does indeed use teleprompters, much as Richard Nixon used notes on yellow legal pads, John Kennedy used detailed scripts, and countless other presidents have used other resources to remember their speeches. The Republican obsession with claiming that Obama's use of teleprompters somehow constitutes an insult against his intellect is ridiculous; the only thing that separates him from presidents like Kennedy and Nixon is that he uses modern technology to remember his speeches instead of paper, which hardly qualifies him as an intellectual lightweight.

- Your paragraph on "Page 3" from my playbook follows the same trend as its predecessors - i.e., it blasts me for blaming a certain group without providing one shred of evidence to suggest that I'm actually WRONG for blaming that group. In the case of my "excoriate the rich" claim, can you prove that even one of the assertions which I made against them was inaccurate? Am I wrong when I claim that the tax cuts demanded by so many of them caused our budget deficit to explode under George W. Bush? Am I wrong in saying the decimation of labor unions and other pro-corporate policies demanded by wealthy interest groups have contributed to the growing income disparity which afflicts America today, causing the drop in consumer spending that led to the Great Recession in December 2007? Am I wrong in pointing out that deregulation of Wall Street resulted in the reckless financial practices that culminated in the financial meltdown of September 2008?

I wouldn't know if I was right or wrong based on what you've written, since you don't address any of these points. All you do is bring up Sarah Palin (which I never did in my post), the media (also not something I broached), and Congressmen Paul Ryan and John Boehner (once again, not because I broached them). In short, you didn't rebut anything I wrote; you just threw a bunch of non sequiturs in my face.

- Greece, Great Britain, and Ireland did not collapse because of Keynesianism, but rather because the IMF has been preying on weaker countries to improve its liquidity ever since this crisis began.

- Although that point was brief, it deserved its own tab because, out of the ENTIRE economics argument that I posted from my "Humanity vs. Vanity" article, this was the ONLY one that you actually addressed. As for the rest... well, I hate to paraphrase Sharron Angle, but you wimped out. Saying that you "really don't have the time" to answer it is an extraordinarily lame excuse, considering that you clearly had more than enough time to write the rest of that enormous letter and to bring up dozens of other completely irrelevant observations.

- The rest of what you wrote ("the government doesn't create jobs", "all it does is take wealth away", "the postal service", "Amtrak") astonishes me in its incoherency. It's not even an argument; it's just a collection of right-wing platitudes and talking points thrown together without any structure or internal logic to connect them. It's like you wrote down random conservative claims on tiny slips of paper, threw them into a hat, grabbed a handful, and then typed them out without any regard as to how they wound up reading.

Whew! Now that I've responded to every point you raised, let me identify the points from my post that you failed to address (this will include the ones that I alluded to earlier in this e-mail):

1) You didn't address my claim that your article was nothing but a giant "post hoc" fallacy.

2) You didn't address the fact that your statistic regarding unemployment figures when Obama took office was egregiously inaccurate... and you can't even chalk that one up to "I just forgot", since you openly acknowledged the error in the beginning of your e-mail (albeit by saying that you were a "little off," which is like saying Bernie Madoff stole a few bucks) and even assured me that you would explain yourself later on, which you never did.

3) You didn't address my arguments as to what caused the Great Recession (i.e., the decline in aggregate consumer demand due to growing income disparity causing unemployment as of December 2007 AND financial deregulation causing the Wall Street crisis in September 2008).

4) You didn't address my point about unemployment exploding well before Obama took office.

5) You didn't address my claims that the income disparity and financial deregulation were caused by policies from Reagan and his successors rather than from Obama.

6) You didn't address my observation that the stimulus package did cause unemployment to plateau once it took effect in May 2009.

7) You didn't address my point about how it's impossible to determine whether liberal economic policies can work unless they are fully implemented and that, because Obama didn't fully implement them, claiming that his initiatives discredit liberalism is ridiculous.

8) You didn't address my point about how you took Obama's quote about the lack of "shovel-ready jobs" out of context.

9) You didn't address my point about how our catastrophic national debt was caused by policy initiatives begun by Ronald Reagan.

10) You didn't address my point about how there are ways to reduce our national debt without slashing liberal social programs.

For what it's worth, I do not buy the excuse that the length of my post (which you described as a "1500 word missive") lets you off the hook for dodging the different rebuttals it made against your position. I took the arguments you posted on my Facebook wall very seriously, and it would have been intellectually negligent of me to not respond to them as thoroughly as possible, just as it is intellectually negligent of you now to not do likewise.

In this letter, I decided to provide you with a comprehensive response in spite of your evasiveness. I will not do that again. If your true goal is to determine who is right and not merely to "win," then you
will have no objections to my expectation that you respond to each of the major points that I made against your position. That said, if you decide to doggedly avoid accountability for your opinions, then I will not waste my time replying to your next e-mail. Such a maneuver will show that you are interested not in having an intelligent debate, but rather in dogmatically clinging to your ideas regardless of the logic and facts that can be presented against them.

- Matt


"I traveled all day yesterday and have to hop in the shower to go to work now...so I have no time to expound more or get back to other things like I'd like to (like taxes for one)."

Matt,

This is what I wrote at the end of my email to you. I have a grand total of 3-4 minutes to answer your typically condescending response...

You see what want to see, and hear what you want to hear. At the beginning of my email I also stated that we're on different solar systems politically and probably won't agree on anything.

Here's something for you to chew on...

I have...

A) A wife I dearly love who has health issues

B) a job that requires me to travel 3, 4, sometimes 5 days a week (I'm in Bloomington, IN right now)

C) 2 wonderful boys I love more than life itself that I don't get to spend as much time with as I would like

Having said A, B, and C...I don't have the time, nor the inclination to sit down for 2-3 hours and respond to your emails, or Facebook posts. Discussing things with you is extremely frustrating because you go point for point... with each point you take 400-500 words... Instead of condensing your points into 80- 100 words. I skimmed your email because of it's lack of brevity, and because I'm at work. But it's tone was as I said typically condescending, which makes me say, "Why bother at all? I've got a life!" I've got far more important things to spend my time on (see A, B, and C above) not to mention I have to deliver a 20 minute talk in 2 weeks and haven't put one word down yet...WAY MORE important than trying to discuss anything with you via email.

If you'd like to have a discussion lasting not more than 25-30 minutes with me...in which you can have me answer all of your points, my phone number is below. Otherwise, PLEASE, PLEASE, NEVER bother me with these 3,000 word essays again and have the BALLS to excuse of me of not answering any of your claims! I think I just did. If this doesn't satisfy you then...farewell...but my wife and sons and job are WAAAAAAAY more important than any of this pap!

Happy New Year!

Dan

Dan,

You decided to post your political views in a public forum and, as soon as they were challenged, bragged that you could back them up to the hilt with facts. It is downright whiny and hypocritical for you to complain when someone (a) comprehensively challenges your views on a logical and factual basis and (b) demands that you either address every point they made about your position or else concede that what you argued was without merit. Even though you claim that you "don't have time" to respond, you always seem to have a surplus of time when it comes to posting your initial arguments in the first place or complaining about the character of my friends. Time only seems to become a problem for you whenever the people you debate demand that you be held accountable for your arguments.

There are two types of Americans contributing to our political discourse today - those who base their opinions (left-wing or right-wing) on reasoned interpretations of fact and those who base them on dogma and undeserved self-confidence. Like the vast majority of Rush Limbaugh supporters, you fall definitively into the latter category. If you genuinely believe that you are making intelligent, logically supportable contributions to our political life, then you are in the midst of an inexcusable delusion.

And that, by the way, is a statement I can back up.

Matt

At this point, the conversation took a turn toward the bizarre. In the name of comprehensiveness, though, I've decided to include the final part anyway...

Matt,
As I said to you in my 5 page letter to you I hate Facebook. As I further stated in my email to you yesterday, I broke my own rule by posting an article from American Thinker in response to what you wrote. I then took approximately 3-4 minutes to mildly debate with your friend Sean in which I supplied him with quotes from Obama and Biden and some stats, albeit, some were a mere 2% off. He supplied none..until later on when he posted an article.
You, on the other hand cannot debate anyone on any topic without going into LONG WINDED, 800-1000 word stem winders because you like to hear yourself talk.

I tried in my letter as I have in the past to be nice to you. I've told you then, as I did in the past that I think you have a great talent for writing. However, you get in your own way by being too wordy and too narrow minded (my own opinion) which will keep you from being open to a more general audience some day. Shame too...instead you, I fear, will continue to write for your own little liberal world and echo chamber and blog. Good luck to you.

In my email, I again tried to reach out to you in friendship by suggesting you call and we talk like MEN, on the phone, instead of this silly email, Facebook crap. I also wrote in that email that you see only what you want to see and hear only what you want to hear...case in point..I wrote that I have:
A) a wife with health issues... Gina has you probably know is a 2 time cancer survivor. We found out only 2 days ago that she needs to have yet another surgery to relieve abdominal pain that she has been experiencing for YEARS now. It is a build up of scar tissue. Thankfully there is no cancer but she has had 5 previous abdominal surgeries. We don't want to face a 6th. DO NOT TELL THIS TO YOUR MOTHER! Nobody knows this!!! I'm only telling this to you to show you what an incredible DICK YOU ARE!!!
LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!! YOU SNOBBISH FUCK!!!! I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH MY LIFE THEN TO DEAL WITH YOUR CHILDISH, IMBECILIC GAMES!!!
MY WIFE, KIDS, AND JOB....MAINLY MY WIFE'S HEALTH MEAN MORE TO ME THAN ANSWERING YOUR CLAIMS THAT BARRACK OBAMA ISN'T SOME SORT OF SOCIALIST!!!
FUCK YOU!!!

Dan

Dear Dan,

Please know that, from the bottom of my heart, I hope Gina makes a full recovery. Regardless of our political differences, I appreciate that there are matters far more important than how either of us feels about President Obama, the economy, or any other host of issues, and this counts as one of them. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Love,

Matt

Thanks Matt..
Please know that I am THRILLED to hear you going to be an uncle, although I know I have to keep it quiet for the time being...that's wonderful news for Liana, Matt, and the Rozsa family!
Peace!
Dan


2 comments:

Lee said...

Matt, Regarding your comments about Alinsky, let me congratulate you as being the one in thousands who has actually read his work and has some understanding about what he's talking about - rather then the great majority who just parrot what other equally unconscious "dittohead" types say.
I can tell you, and your readers from personal experience, that Alinsky never joined any organization - and most assuredly not communism - with the exception of one organization. He was a member of our temple, (KAM at the time) so that I could be confirmed at the age of 13 as a Jewish man and eligible to read from the Torah on Saturday Mornings. And that's it! On that score, if he had not joined the temple, his mother, who was Orthodox Jewish, would never have forgiven him.

Matt Rozsa said...

Incidentally, Dan was a moron for trying to minimize the significance of his error about unemployment statistics. Those two percentage points were the difference between the rate when George W. Bush was reelected in 2004 and the rate at which Jimmy Carter was defeated in 1980. I'm not sure which disgusts me more, even all these months later... his stupidity or his cowardly skirting of accountability.