12 October 2008

Bloody Hell

So it turns out a lot of the "paedophiles" everyone was panicking/laughing at a few years back are completely innocent and that the police are a shower of idiots and liars. The police were handed a list of credit cards which had been used by a portal to, among others, child porn sites. They then arrested over seven thousand people and leaked a few high profile names to the press. For some reason an organisation whose only job is dealing with crime didn't think of the possibility of credit card fraud. Of course, 39 of the "paedophiles" are innocent and dead.

Tell everyone.

PS: Here's a nice story to go with it.

05 October 2008

Say What You Want About Palin, She's Not Stupid

Some fantastic unspeaking from Sarah Palin in a speech to supporters in Colorado and Los Angeles (incidentally, Biased-BBC fans may notice the heavy incidence of the “t-word” in the story). Now bear in mind I’m not accusing her of lying, what Palin is up to is much, much cleverer.
“Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?”
Of course, “palling around” simply involves going to the same meetings a few times, and the “terrorist” involved stopped bombing before her opponent even had hair on his balls. But nevertheless, palling around is a tough activity to define, and could quite easily include a brief chat by the coffee machine, and if you have ever committed an act of terror, “terrorist” is an appropriate description. Only the plural may be spurious, though he may well have mumbled something friendly to Mrs. Ayers as well, you never know.

However, what Sarah Palin is really good at is the pronoun game:
“Turns out one of Barack’s earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and US Capitol. Wow.”

Here’s the first clever bit – switching subject and object: We are not talking about who Obama supports. We are talking about who supports Obama. This blatant reversal of causality is buried under the shock value of her statement. Although she in no way says that Obama has ever supported terrorism, she manages to get “Barack” “supporter” “terrorist”, “bombings”, “Pentagon and US Capitol” all squashed neatly into one fully referenced sentence. Wow. Shout those at your reflection a few times, and see how much you fancy voting for the Muslim candidate.
These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes. Remember that’s what Joe Biden said.”

Now here’s a funny one. Who are the same guys? Obama/Biden, I’m assuming, however the ambiguity of the phrase makes it seem as if there is some kind of direct ideological link between Ayers ideas about patriotism and taxes and those Obama shares with Biden. The inclusion of “these are the same guys” cements the imaginary links without actually saying anything other than “now, let’s change the subject back to my opponent and his running mate”.
“Now this is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as a force for good in this world.

By this point, I am completely stumped as to who she means. And note the non-sequitur – at no point does she say that Obama, Biden or even Ayers sees America as anything but a force for good. She simply claims that one of the three men she has previously mentioned does not see America in the same light as her, and then mentions one aspect of her vision. Of course it is implied that this supposed “man” does not see America as a force for good. Even assuming this is what she means, she at no point claims it is Obama who holds this view – the mystery man is far more likely to be Ayers. But it really does sound like Obama thinks America is evil.

Basically, what Palin is doing is creating a network of associations in the mind of the audience, or rather adding to an existing one, without actually making any real recourse to logic or causality. Her facts are solid, and the actual nature of these associations is left up to the listener to imagine, so one rhetorical plural aside, nothing could possibly be construed as a falsehood. Yet an unwary floating voter will come away with the impression that Obama is far more anti-American and pro-terrorist (aged 8) than Palin ever claimed. And this tactic can work. American media is particularly prone to these Pavlovian reactions – note the lipstick incident – Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” remark was pounced on as an attack on Palin based on the fact that she had already compared herself to an animal in lipstick. In this case, when dealing with a man whose name sounds like not one but two of America’s great Arab bogeymen, who, even after scandals about his Church, 13% of Americans still think is a Muslim, hammering “support” and “terrorism” into voters’ heads is a particularly dirty, and particularly clever tactic.