Thursday, June 2, 2016

I Am Floored

Not a major post, but I am just stunned at what I found. I was going through Politifact, looking at their various ratings to see what seemed relatively fair and where they indulged in a bit of partisan hair-splitting (and there certainly was some of the latter), when I found something absolutely unexpected.

Now, I am have long been a bit put off by Anne Coulter, at least in part by the same sort of infantile crudeness that I dislike in Trump, the tendency to confuse shocking for daring -- oddly a trait most conservatives denounce in celebrities of the left, but praise in Coulter for reasons I can't comprehend -- but I do still read her from time to time, if only to see upon whom she is currently heaping abuse (or more recently to track her seeming schoolgirl crush on Trump). But I was curious to see how Politifact dealt with her. and, for the most part, I was not surprised. A lot of what Coulter writes is relatively contentious, with interpretations even I could argue are pretty shaky, and I am often (though far from always) sympathetic with the points she is making. So I was not surprised to see a lot of her claims rated half-true at best, and most false.

But then I saw this:

In fact, experts we spoke to agreed that it's unlikely that the terrorists and alleged terrorists in question even gave any thought to who was serving as president when planning their attacks. Someone who takes the fateful step of starting to plan a deadly attack against U.S. citizens isn't likely to be swayed in their views by mere changes in partisan control; they have become fundamentally opposed to the underlying foundation of American society. 
"Islamist terrorism exists not because of what we do but because of what its practitioners believe and because of the policies of the states that support it," said Ted Bromund, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Bromund called it "solipsism" -- that is, extreme self-centeredness -- for any American to assume that our own short- to medium-term actions will have much of an impact on jihadist recruiting. "Islamists have their own ideology, and states like Iran have their own interests, which are not simply a mirror reflection of us and our actions," Bromund said. "Therefore, we should carry out policies that are in accord with our interests and values and not fall into the habit of believing that the problems of the world are really all about us." 
This view actually fits pretty well with the broader point Coulter was trying to make, which is that individual incidents and events aren't likely to have much of an impact on terrorist recruiting.

Granted, the overall point she made was still rated only half-true as the way she phrased her specific point was rather jesuitical (even I could see that), but to see Politifact almost saying Coulter was right was quite a shock. Granted, they pulled back from recognizing that their own experts had actually said Coulter's overall point was entirely correct, which, while true, was probably a bit much for them to swallow, but to even go this far stunned me.

Will wonders never cease?

POSTSCRIPT

I need to mention my spell check again, as it is starting to annoy me. Not only did it flag jesuitical (with or without capital), it also dislikes largesse. Apparently, if a word does not appear regularly in the text of your average eighth grader's blog, Chrome does not think it is worth knowing. I know I complained frequently about oddities in Firefox's spell check (eg not recognizing indices, or accepting only one spelling of Mohammad and Hammas), but it looks positively brilliant compared to the sparse lexicon of words recognized by Chrome. Then again, having dealt with Google's APIs and documentation at work,I am not shocked to find half-assed work. All I can say is Google is very lucky it won the search engine wars and got massive funds when the going was good, as they have very slipshod practices when it comes to both programming and documentation. (And their support is actually put to shame by government help lines, if you can believe that.)

By the way, if my blog stops displaying new posts, rest assured I was rubbed out by a Google hit squad for daring to denounce them. "Don't be evil" my ass. Just ask anyone using a search engine in China.

(For any who took that seriously, I am joking! Not about slipshod Google practices, their naming conventions alone make those of Java look brilliant and crystal clear, but about the hit squad. We all know only Facebook rubs out critics. And Microsoft.... Kidding again. Have to say that, as some people seem to think all conservatives really buy into nonsensical conspiracy theories. And Trump is not doing us any favors in that regard...)

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