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Claire McCaskill, four others targeted by 60 Plus Association ads

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 9:40 a.m. CDT

LANSING, Mich. — Democratic senators up for re-election in five states are being targeted by issue ads run by the conservative 60 Plus Association, but one senator being hit says the ads are full of false claims already debunked by independent fact-checkers.

The 60-second ads feature singer Pat Boone warning senior citizens about portions of the federal health care law he says could harm their Medicare benefits and are identical to an ad run last November in Ohio targeting Sen. Sherrod Brown.

This time the ads are also aimed at Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. All are Democratic incumbents running for re-election this year, and all except Tester are in battleground states that could prove crucial to President Barack Obama's re-election chances in November.

The Virginia-based 60 Plus Association bills itself as the conservative alternative to the AARP. Founder and chairman Jim Martin said the organization is spending $3.5 million to run the ads for two weeks in the five states and plans to spend "substantially more" on future issue ads in the senators' home states.

"They're up for re-election, and we're trying to get their attention with this vote on Obamacare," he said of the senators in a phone interview Tuesday.

He added that he expects the health care law "will be a major issue, certainly for seniors" in this year's elections. The association is co-sponsoring a March 27 "Hands Off My Health Care" rally in Washington, D.C., with Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group founded by conservative billionaire David Koch.

Stabenow's campaign called the association "an out-of-state special interest front group" and noted that it has supported privatizing a portion of Social Security benefits and recently run ads promoting a plan promoted by Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that would move from Medicare to private health insurance for future retirees, two changes Stabenow opposes.

"It's no wonder a special interest front group that wants to end Medicare would run these ads in Michigan," campaign spokesman Nate Byer said in a release. "Unfortunately in politics these days, when you stand up to powerful special interests, they run false ads about you to mislead voters."

In reviewing the ad run only against Brown last November, nonpartisan FactCheck.org said it misled seniors "by making false claims about the (health care) law's effect on Medicare."

"We've been over some of the assertions that Boone makes more times than we care to count. But our fact-checking persistence hasn't stopped groups like 60 Plus from repeating the claims. And repeating them, and repeating them," the ad analysis said.

The ads began running Monday and will run through March 25. They're airing on broadcast stations in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri and on broadcast and cable stations in Florida and Montana at a cost of $1.1 million in Florida, $850,000 in Michigan, $720,000 in Ohio, $450,000 in Missouri and $350,000 in Montana, a 60 Plus spokeswoman said.


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Comments

Ed Lane March 14, 2012 | 11:56 a.m.

I wonder how they can comment on obozo's health care program, according to pelosi nobody's read it yet.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble March 14, 2012 | 2:39 p.m.

Sadly, misinformation and propaganda are still the norm. The connection to Koch and use of the phrase "Obamacare" tells any sensible person how to evaluate the seriousness and legitimacy of this organization and its messaging.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 14, 2012 | 4:01 p.m.

The horror... The horror...

I can't believe a liberal was subjected to false claims and empty promises. I feel so horrible... That must mean some conservatives are lowering themselves so low as to equate themselves with the majority of liberals. They certainly have no shame in their game when it comes to lying, and also have the lamestream media on their side to regularly let their lies go unchallenged...

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 14, 2012 | 4:21 p.m.

These days, Mike, no one side has a monopoly on false claims and empty promises. It's that whole "hyperbole" thing. It's important to do your own fact checking before believing any media products, especially partisan commentary.

DK

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 14, 2012 | 4:35 p.m.

""We've been over some of the assertions that Boone makes more times than we care to count. But our fact-checking persistence hasn't stopped groups like 60 Plus from repeating the claims."

What does that mean?

"Sadly, misinformation and propaganda are still the norm."

The "norm" for these people is continued baseless factless general accusation of some dishonesty they can't prove or even identify.

Here is a note on Sen. McCaskill easy to check out. To stop a Senate attempt with an amendment to go around Him and get the Keystone Pipeline installed, Obama called several Democrat Senators. McCaskill was among them and it worked. She voted with Obama, killed the amendment and we are still looking for ways to get this needed new energy source moving. Remember this!

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 14, 2012 | 4:43 p.m.

@Mark
Yes, I give you credit for noticing it goes both ways. You have proven yourself to not be one of the regular cult members that drinks the kool aid and knows of nothing else.

Even though we are usually at opposite ends of the spectrum, I think we could have a few good laughs about what the other side is selling on a pretty regular basis...

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2012 | 5:07 p.m.

Oh, if only the story included the alleged falsehoods so we could investigate them ourselves...

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 14, 2012 | 8:55 p.m.

"I think we could have a few good laughs about what the other side is selling on a pretty regular basis..."

In my opinion, anyone that thinks anything about this coming election or it's outcome is laughable has to be into some sort of cool aid. And anyone who blames the literary crap that I have above discussed, as "that whole "hyperbole" thing.", must be into something better than "cool aid" as well.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 15, 2012 | 7:54 a.m.

Frank wrote:

"Here is a note on Sen. McCaskill easy to check out. To stop a Senate attempt with an amendment to go around Him and get the Keystone Pipeline installed, Obama called several Democrat Senators. McCaskill was among them and it worked."

It's actually not the way you're slanting it. Frank.

http://www.fuelingus.org/senate-rejects-...

"Obama rejected a cross-border permit for the Keystone pipeline in January.

He said the decision was not based on the merits of the project, but instead in response to a 60-day permit decision deadline that Republicans demanded in a December payroll tax cut bill. Obama said the deadline would short-circuit review.

The administration has invited TransCanada to reapply for a cross-border permit, which the company plans to do, and is also blessing TransCanada’s plan to proceed with a portion of the project to bring U.S oil from Oklahoma to Gulf Coast refineries."

This was simply partisan, election year politics at its worst. I suspect if the pipeline had come up for consideration a year before it did, Obama would have signed off on it and it would be in pre-construction now.

TransCanada would very much like to NOT build a pipeline over the Rockies, for technical reasons. They'll be back.

Domestic oil production is higher now than it was in 2003 under Bush, but not because of any regulation or lack of them. It's simply market forces - $100/barrel oil encourages production. It doesn't bring down prices at the pump, of course, but you can have your gasoline cheap, abundant, or environmentally responsible. Pick any two. Like it or not, a lot of people are concerned about the impact of oil drilling and consumption (a lot of them live along the Gulf Coast, for example).

Does this sound like a guy who is trying to obstruct energy production any way he can? That's what I mean by "hyperbole".

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/scienc...

DK

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 15, 2012 | 10:13 a.m.

MF - First, you did not touch the apparent error I've made about McCaskill's vote. For the first time ever I may have relayed erroneous information received from Fox News. Brett Baier pointed to McCaskill as one urged by Obama to vote against the amendment, did so even tho a vote against the popular pipeline would be detrimental to her re-election efforts. Now I read that she opposed BO and voted for it. Sometimes legislators change votes when it is convenient, but with no proof that that is the case here I must apologize for the inaccuracy.

"It's actually not the way you're slanting it. Frank."

Then we get "I suspect" and the NYT. What does 2003 oil production have to do? Our increase in oil production is from recovery from drilling on Private land. Oil production is reportedly down 30% in the Gulf and 70% in the Rocky Mountain public areas.
http://naturalresources.house.gov/News/D...

You repeat what this "guy" Says, with no examples of what he does, then site others examples of "that whole "hyperbole" thing."
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?i...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 15, 2012 | 10:21 a.m.

@Frank
The kool aid I am on is called life. I hate to break it to you, but not being able to carry on a meaningful conversation with someone that disagrees with you without getting mad is not their problem... I have hopes and dreams that someday we will kick the other half of the country out of the nest and stop coddling them, but I don't walk around perpetually frustrated because it hasn't happened yet. I hope one day that we stop sending billions of dollars to criminals by keeping drugs like pot illegal, but I am not so worn down that I can't have a civilized conversation about it with someone that disagrees. Being that wound tight all the time would be bad for my health. Maybe you should try watching a little Jon Stewart. If you don't have a heart attack after the first episode, you may eventually find some humor in how clownish the extremists from both sides look. Or maybe just get a dog...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 15, 2012 | 12:06 p.m.

mike mentor: "That must mean some conservatives are lowering themselves so low as to equate themselves with the majority of liberals."

Indeed. Rush Limbaugh said so himself when he "apologized" for embarrassing himself yet again.

"They certainly have no shame in their game when it comes to lying, and also have the lamestream media on their side to regularly let their lies go unchallenged..."

Yeah, like Obama's--what was it?--$2 billion-a-day vacation tour around Europe accompanied by a huge fleet of destroyers and aircraft carriers? Oh wait...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 15, 2012 | 12:12 p.m.

"I have hopes and dreams that someday we will kick the other half of the country out of the nest and stop coddling them"

I have hopes and dreams too, one of them being that someday people will realize the idea of "the other half the country" is idiotic on its face--and this goes for everyone, regardless of whichever "half" they think they belong to.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 15, 2012 | 2:06 p.m.

mike m. - I hate to spoil your day, but must advise that tho I expected you to object, I was neither mad nor frustrated when addressing you after we all witnessed the most flagrant spin cast containing liberal bias and fictitious writing, seen in recent memory. Then you join friendly old Mark in usual chant from the left, Yeah they all do it!

I understand that as libertarian you must show your differences with conservatives and thus jump right in the boat with Mark Foecking who I've debated the liberal issues since at Trib, he was constantly asserting that our energy problems can only be remedied with a "severe" tax on fossil fuels, assume the simpler lifestyle that He prefers (apparently whether there are children or not) and save our insignificant reserve of oil for future when we will "really need it". Mark sounding neutral always proclaims who runs our Government has nothing to do with our problems. Problems just "occur" and our only hope is provide whatever funds from taxation, gov't next requires.

Imo and I'm sure most would agree, even you, that there is a fight for the control and continued existence of our country as a free one. It is not a matter of being "that wound tight all the time." Just the ability to decide which side is right and which is wrong. Are all libertarians so left handed? I ain't touchin' your reference to Jon Stewart.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 15, 2012 | 2:10 p.m.

I was referring to the half that don't pay fed income tax. Are those that are able to contribute, but choose not to, really deserving of citizenship? Why should they get to vote for more hand outs for themselves when they don't have any skin in the game? How 'bout them apples? Only those that pay fed income tax (or have a legitimate disability) get to vote. I am a victim of taxation without representation if I only get half of my money's worth when it comes time to vote. That seems reasonable to me... Taxation without representation was already involved in one revolutionary war in our history. What actually started the fighting is when the gubment (which were redcoats at the time) went to take away arms the citizens had stockpiled at Concord.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Jon, see there. I was trying to play nice for a min and you just woke up the sleeping giant ;-)

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 15, 2012 | 3:10 p.m.

@Frank
Jon Stewart would actually be a good mention in this discussion. I very rarely agree with him. However, unlike Billy the pig on HBO, Jon('s show) is funny. I tape (dvr) the show every day even though I don't always find time to watch. If someone makes a joke about me or those I identify with, I can laugh at it and enjoy it for the humor, even though I disagree with the message. They better be able to take a joke themselves though... Mark seems to be of this same ilk. Someone who has his beliefs, but does not take himself so seriously as to take it as a personal affront when someone espouses differing views. That was my point. You jumped me a little bit for having a lighthearted moment with the dark side and I jumped you back a little for being "an 'ol stick in the mud" ;-)

Rest assured, I would vote for you over Mark if those were my choices for president...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 15, 2012 | 8:00 p.m.

@mike mentor:

The thing is, I can't really argue my point without making it sound like a personal attack over arbitrary political differences, but it isn't. As I've said over and over again, I make an effort to base my arguments on facts, because facts trump opinion.

And here's where the apparent personal attack comes in: The conservative worldview is fundamentally wrong about a lot of things. You're more than welcome to provide your own definition of conservatism, or add on to/fix this one if you think it's incomplete/wrong, but generally speaking, conservatives value some combination of the following to various degress:

1. Tradition/stability/aversion to change
2. Respect for authority
3. Individualism/self-reliance

The first two are flawed because clearly they're situation-dependent. Conservatives only bemoan the loss of "good" traditions, after all, not such things as, say, slavery (what makes some traditions good and others bad?). Apparently, we're also supposed to give unconditional respect to the police, the military, our parents, etc., but not our government (again, why?).

If these arguments had any kind of consistency it would be one thing, but they don't, aka a decent chunk of the conservative worldview boils down to "it's true because I said it's true." That argument holds no water in any context, and it's definitely not a good foundation for one's outlook on life.

The third is flawed because none of us are self-made, period. This aspect of conservatism is based on the idea that we have free will and are thus entirely reponsible for our (mis)fortunes. Neither is true. Most of our life is dictated by circumstances beyond our control, and free will is an illusion.

p.s. On that last note, I'm curious as to how you define "legitimate disability."
p.p.s. To reiterate, this is not a personal attack. Yeah, I used the word "conservative(s)" big time, but that's only because it makes for easier writing/reading. I'm criticizing the concept, not the people who believe it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 15, 2012 | 8:44 p.m.

Indeed, I think liberals have conservatives beat when it comes to resistance to change.

PS: If life is dictated by circumstances beyond personal control, and it's all just luck, why behave responsibly? Why even try? For me, those concepts are in opposition.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 15, 2012 | 9:16 p.m.

"I think liberals have conservatives beat when it comes to resistance to change."

Doesn't it depend upon the nature of the change? Conservatives generally try to stick to the truth. Liberals will do whatever they deem necessary to achieve change. Note Lindsey Berger and Taylor Dankmyer. They both seem to be trying to effect change as they strive to inform us of our impending doom, with separate quotes from the same form letter.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 15, 2012 | 9:38 p.m.

Frank: Jon ascribed "aversion to change" to conservatives, and then said such an aversion was situational. The same is true of liberals; the only difference is the situation wherein one wishes change.
_______________________

I do think Jon hurled a real hair ball when he said, "Conservatives only bemoan the loss of "good" traditions, after all, not such things as, say, slavery...."

This is a horrible, gross insult and is categorically wrong; I can't imagine a knowledgeable person like Jon writing this, or that he believes it. Perhaps he was just trolling.......in which case it worked because I responded. But, if he does believe it, I have no further use for him.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 16, 2012 | 2:07 a.m.

I won't derail this over things I've already discussed, but the recent dip in oil production in the Gulf was caused by the largest offshore oil spill in US history. It's coming back. The moratorium has been lifted and drilling is up:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/busine...

What do you expect any administration to do? It's OK, they'll fix it, what's a little oil in the water? Who needs fish and shrimp and beaches anyway, when we've got cars to fuel?

Understand that even if the federal moratorium is lifted, offshore drilling will be opposed by many states, notably ones with high tourist revenues related to beaches. Again, it's not just Obama and Democrats.

These accidents happen because our demand for petroleum is so high. Restricted offshore areas contain about two years of oil at current rates of consumption. ANWR contains about a year and a half. Drilling them, or not, will not change our basic import pattern. Only demand mangement can do that.

DK

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 16, 2012 | 2:20 a.m.

Jonathan wrote:

"Most of our life is dictated by circumstances beyond our control, and free will is an illusion."

I would conditionally agree with you in one context, and that is one does not have truly free will outside of one's knowledge and experience, and yes, there are many things outside of our control. However:

How we react to bumps in the road of life has everything to do with outcomes. I've known a lot of people in chronic poverty, and one of the common characteristics I notice is they don't make a plan and stick to it. Life just happens, they have no control, they live in the moment and let the future take care of itself. If things get too rough, they change direction, move, quit, basically do anything but push back and overcome whatever it is that's giving them problems. They escape untril the next problem comes up.

Successful people persevere. They overcome. They graduate, they save, they look to the future with the idea that they can accomplish their goals. And while it think it's important to know when to quit, it's also important to deal with adversity rather than letting it deal with you.

So we may not have much control over things that happen to us, but we certainly have control over how we react to them. That can make all the difference in the world.

DK

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 16, 2012 | 2:47 a.m.

Michael:

1. We have no control over natural disasters either. Does this mean we don't or shouldn't do anything to prevent/alleviate suffering when they occur? Same thing here. It doesn't matter if who we are is due to events beyond our control, those events still define us. Some of these events reliably produce bad results (aka lazy/evil people), and if we have the ability to prevent this from happening, there's no reason not to.

2. Again, this has nothing to do with partisan politics. Liberals may be less wrong about certain things, but they certainly don't deserve credit for merely stumbling upon the right answer. Ask around and I'm sure most liberals will agree with you in this respect, not with me: "Well, if free will is an illusion and we don't have any control over our lives, then doing anything is pointless. So yeah, dude, you're totally wrong and I totally have free will."

3. Maybe I could've done a better job with the wording, but I'm pretty sure you misread my comment on conservatives and slavery. I'll try to clarify:

-Conservatives are big on tradition, and they waste no time reminding us all that we've "lost our way," that society is now a festering morass of debauchery, etc. (yes, there's a degree of hyperbole there)
-But, if you ask them about our tradition with slavery, even the staunchest conservative (who isn't an idiot) will agree that abolishing slavery was a great idea.
-So, now we have to figure out why some traditions are good and worth keeping while others aren't. The obvious answer is that tradition has nothing to do with it, but that's not the answer you'll get from a conservative. It doesn't matter if the tradition argument is full of gaping holes, to a lot of conservatives it's almost blasphemy to suggest that some of our traditions are nonsense and that we're better off getting rid of 'em. (hyperbole again with the word "blasphemy," btw).

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 16, 2012 | 3:27 a.m.

Mark:

How we react to these events is also not in our control. I'm pretty sure all of you know what it's like to be sad/unhappy/depressed, and yet unable to "will" yourselves back to happiness (say, after losing a loved one). If we had the kind of free will we usually attribute to ourselves, we would be able to do that with no effort whatsoever.

I've tried to quit smoking a few times and failed miserably. Maybe some day I'll actually quit, but if that ever happens, I'll have no explanation for why I succeeded that time and not in any of my previous attempts. Most would say, "well you just REALLY tried that time," but again, I won't know why I REALLY tried then and not the dozens of times before.

Or even easier: Just ask yourself why you prefer some foods over others--or women, music, sports, intellectual pursuits, etc. You can try to weasel in as many steps as you like, but if you repeat the process enough times, you will always get to a point where the answer is simply, "I don't know."

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 16, 2012 | 4:04 a.m.

Jonathan wrote:

"How we react to these events is also not in our control. I'm pretty sure all of you know what it's like to be sad/unhappy/depressed, and yet unable to "will" yourselves back to happiness (say, after losing a loved one)."

I would say our emotional reaction to such is not in our control, but how we deal with such is certainly in our control. Everyone will understand grieving for a lost love for a reasonable time. However, letting said grieving significantly impact important aspects of your life for a long time is less understandable. Seeking the support of friends and family, professional counseling, or other behavior modification therapy is far better than letting a random event destroy your life. I would say that someone that becomes a recluse or an alcoholic because their wife died has no one to blame but himself. He made a bad choice.

Loss of a job, or a house, can be made less likely by choices. One can often make oneself more essential at one's job, and lessen the likelihood that they'll be laid off. A family can foreego eating out, or vacations, so they can put away some money to pay the mortgage if hard times happen. Etc.

As far as quitting smoking, I did it by trying a lot of different methods, and finally found one that worked (the nicotine gum). In my case it WAS perseverance, and I have a pretty good idea of why I succeeded that time. I also didn't try it at high stress times of my life (like going to grad school at night while working a demanding full-time+ job). Just keep at it.

Preference for foods and the like mean much less in the grand scheme of things than making good life decisions in the face of adversity. Good decisions are not accidents, and are typically in our control (whether we know that at the time or not).

DK

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 16, 2012 | 7:56 a.m.

Jon, you said, "Most of our life is dictated by circumstances beyond our control, and free will is an illusion."

That means you believe in luck. A lot of it, good and bad.

Yet, you then say, "...and if we have the ability to prevent this from happening, there's no reason not to."

"Luck" implies a complete lack of control; "prevent" implies direct control. These two beliefs are in opposition.

After all, how can you prevent or cause "luck"?

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub March 16, 2012 | 10:45 a.m.

Jonathon, Everything is always subject to outside influences however, how one deals with them is free will. When a tornado hits a community, no one can keep that from happening but how can some feel that there life is lost and there is no more hope, while another with the same circumstance say it's ok we are still alive and we can fix this, this is - as Mark says- choice and choice is free will. Willing things to happen is magic, not free will. It is all about choice. You will never quit smoking until you make that choice... with no qualifiers.

About the conservative thing and change: you say they wouldn't want to keep slavery, and on the surface that is true, but we all know what is in the background is the reality. IE: Put on a good face. Most, as there are no absolutes except change, conservatives believe it that is a good thing for companies to move overseas to cut costs. Below the surface the ugly face of reality tries to hide, or ignore that many of those jobs are 100 hours a week for a few cents an hour. People locked in a warehouse forced to fill quotas that only reward those on top. Or, on the immigrant front; they cry about how "illegal aliens" are destroying our country, but say nothing about those that hire them for the lowest of wages, and often threaten them with deportation to make them work for even less. Sounds like a form of slavery to me.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 16, 2012 | 2:19 p.m.

Mark & Gary:

The brain is an organ, and conscious awareness is only a tiny fraction of what our brains are doing at any moment. This is virtually the exact opposite of how we tend to view ourselves--which is apparently some kind of incorporeal entity residing somewhere behind the eyes, surrounded by a shell known as the human body.

The kind of free will people ascribe to themselves suggests that we have the ability to act and react irrespective of our physiology, which is simply untrue. Neuroscience is still in diapers, but we already know that shutting down specific parts of the brain will predictably affect specific body functions. Therefore, we have every reason to think that whatever "we" are is merely an artifact in our brains, not the governor thereof. The brain runs the show, and our (re)actions are essentially the manifestation of certain brain processes, none of which we have control over, and only a few of which we're even aware of.

At this point people usually respond with, "well, my brain is a part of me, therefore it's still me doing all this stuff." That argument gets the whole thing backwards, though. Your brain is not a part of you, you're a part of your brain. And, just as it would make no sense to hold someone responsible for having leukemia, it makes no sense to hold someone responsible for what amounts to faulty brain wiring.

Thoughts always precede actions, and we don't control our thoughts. Any thoughts in your head right now basically appeared in front of you. Furthermore, whatever actions you can perform at any moment are constrained by whatever you're thinking of. (If you suddenly did something you weren't thinking about, it wouldn't feel as if it was you who did it, now would it? "I dunno man, something just came over me.")

Where's the free will in someone with Split-Brain Syndrome?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-brain...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 16, 2012 | 2:54 p.m.

Michael said: "'Luck' implies a complete lack of control; 'prevent' implies direct control. These two beliefs are in opposition.

After all, how can you prevent or cause 'luck'?"

You "cause" luck by having fire trucks and trained response teams ready to react at a moment's notice and extricate you from the building before you suffocate/burn to death. If you survive a house fire, you are lucky. And yet, there's no question that your chances of being lucky are way better now than they were just a few decades ago. We've come a long way from having to put out fires a bucket of water at a time.

Plus, if your argument were true, there would be no such thing as professional poker players. They're professionals because they play the odds and do it well, despite the fact that they have no control over the hand they're dealt. Life is and has always been about playing the odds.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 16, 2012 | 4:34 p.m.

Jon, my question "How can you prevent or cause 'luck'?" is answered.....You can't. Your example of professional pokers is not an argument against my comment; in fact, it supports it.

Luck is probability-based. Unless the cards are marked or the dealer is dishonest, the dealt hands are completely random. This is the very definition of "luck", and there is no cause or prevention of the outcome (i.e., the hand). Your hand (i.e., your luck) is outside of your control (and everyone else's, if the game is honest).

After the player is in possession of his/her hand, however, luck mainly disappears and skill comes into play. I believe that the play of that hand involves "free will", although you will probably disagree. I submit, however, that playing the odds as modified by knowledge of other players involves a great deal of skill and much less luck.

If I'm reading your correctly, you believe "events" are completely based upon "luck" (all random occurrences), and the response to those events only modifies the outcome (the odds). I don't agree.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub March 16, 2012 | 5:28 p.m.

Jonathon, No one said there is no such thing as chance, coincidences, or physical damage. I am saying that they are all part of a much larger picture, one that is still being interpreted but painted eons ago. People are not manufactured and there are many manifestations, so we must communicate in averages. Since evolution or creation whichever or both that you may believe forgot to leave us a manual, we all have to wing it. How we do this is free will. Our brain can no more function without a body than a body can function without a brain, neither are "us", but like most things, together they can make a whole. One of the things that differentiate us from other animals, is that we pretty much start from scratch and have to learn the most basic actions, like moving our hands and feet. While other animals hit the ground running.

You keep mixing free will with magic. To use your analogy, we are all dealt a hand, some are good some are bad but most are just in between. Free will is not the dealer, but the player. Out of body experiences are real, although rare, but never does the body or brain travel in that realm. It seems that we have another part that people have been arguing and fighting about forever. Let's just call it spirit. The aboriginals of the world had a much better understanding of this than modern man probably ever will, and it is not the brain.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 16, 2012 | 5:42 p.m.

Michael: Just as I explained how you can indeed "cause" luck, the same is true about "preventing" it. Polio used to be a huge problem back in the day, and to my knowledge it has since been eradicated in the US (or at least it's listed as such). A lot of people in decades past had bad luck and contracted polio, but that is no longer a problem today and no one has to suffer the same fate.

And while you would be an idiot to help others in a poker game, in "real life" those of us who are lucky stand to benefit from helping those who aren't. Newton, Edison, Einstein, Leibniz, etc. were lucky to be born geniuses. They were also lucky to have the drive to put their genius to good use. Thanks to their stroke of luck, we now have calculus and all kinds of other goodies, which we've continued to build upon and put to use such that we are all better for it.

The fact that you were born in the US alone makes you luckier than a vast majority of people. The fact that you're a man makes you even luckier. The fact that you're driven to work hard and succeed makes you even luckier still. Plenty of people have no such luck, and yet you're basically telling them "get over it" as if they should be able to just wipe out everything that made them who they are.

Even if you're already a pro at poker, you would rather not be dealt a bad hand. Other people get dealt crappy cards, and on top of that they're terrible at poker, or don't even know the rules of the game. How much blame to they deserve for being dropped into a game they have no idea how to play?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 16, 2012 | 6:46 p.m.

How much blame to they deserve for being dropped into a game they have no idea how to play?
____________________

No blame. They were just unlucky.

My daughter would quibble with you on how lucky I was to be born a man. She will soon be a doctor doctor, but I only got 50%.

As for the "get over it" part, I have never included those unfortunates with physical or mental disabilities in my criticisms. Not even once. These folks need society's help (although since my government decided it was better than me at charity, I did slow down considerably...only a church gets my dough.).

My comments have always been directed at those fully capable in body/mind with two good eyes to observe with and two good ears to hear with, yet choose...yes, choose...to make chronic bad decisions. My lack of sympathy is reserved for them.

PS; Your comments regarding "Conservatives only bemoan the loss of "good" traditions, after all, not such things as, say, slavery...." were unconvincing. It certainly wasn't a retraction at all. Should be, tho.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 17, 2012 | 8:28 p.m.

Michael:

Those who "choose" to make chronic bad decisions are not responsible for that, just as you don't deserve credit for your desire to make good decisions.

I asked Mark earlier to think about why he likes certain foods, music, etc., and not others. Maybe you should do the same, and then realize that you DON'T know why and that you never made any of these decisions yourself--at least not consciously. Did you will yourself to find the taste of, say, anchovies, respulsive? Or were you immediately repulsed by the taste the second they entered your mouth?

So, if none of us know where our personal (in this case arguably trivial) preferences come from and neither can we control this, what makes you think that we're all endowed with the ability and desire to make good decisions but simply refuse to?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 17, 2012 | 9:24 p.m.

Jon, You said, "Those who "choose" to make chronic bad decisions are not responsible for that, just as you don't deserve credit for your desire to make good decisions.

I might remind you that on March 9, 2012 @ 5:02 p.m. in this newspaper forum, you posted, ".....but I'm also big on personal responsibility and making smart choices."
___________________________

Now, I want to know how in the hell you can be big on personal responsibility and making smart choices, yet be not responsible for those very efforts? Plus, deserve NO credit for those efforts? You essentially believe in "luck" and "predestination", yet you think you have control over whether you make smart choices and have personal responsibility?

Can you be more inconsistent? I think you need to make up your mind.

Or you're just arguing to be arguing, changing who you are from day-to-day?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 17, 2012 | 10:14 p.m.

I also guess that Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch's advice (in a companion Missourian article today) to all those kids was just blowin' hot air. After all, she advised kids to make good choices and not make excuses for doing poorly and to take responsibility for their lives.

But, for you, those kids are either going to make it, or they are doomed; they are lucky, or not lucky. They have no choice in the matter at all.

After all, you're the one who said, "Those who "choose" to make chronic bad decisions are not responsible for that, just as you don't deserve credit for your desire to make good decisions."

Sorry, Consuelo.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 18, 2012 | 3:02 a.m.

Michael said:

"Now, I want to know how in the hell you can be big on personal responsibility and making smart choices, yet be not responsible for those very efforts? Plus, deserve NO credit for those efforts?"

Maybe I should go with a more obvious example:

Could you realistically imagine yourself in a long-term, romantic relationship with another man? Could you love a man the same way you love your wife? If the answer is no, then there you have it. You did not choose to not be interested in a homosexual relationship. It doesn't matter if you have the ability and opportunity to have sex with men, you cannot make yourself WANT to do it if you flat-out just don't want to. Likewise, I can force myself to eat anchovies, but I can't force myself to want to eat 'em--I certainly could end up liking them in the future, but that will not have been because I chose to do so either.

With that in mind, the reason why I'm big on personal responsibility is because I cringe at the thought of making stupid decisions--similar to how a homophobe cringes at the mere utterance of the word "homosexuality." If and when I do make a stupid decision, the event plays out in my head over and over and I obsess about all the things I could've and should've done differently. It would actually be awesome if this DIDN'T happen to me, because then I might be able to get good sleep for a change. Unfortunately, though, I can't just tell my brain to shut up (hmmmn...where's the free will in that?).

So yeah, how much credit do I deserve for the way I react instinctively?

"But, for you, those kids are either going to make it, or they are doomed; they are lucky, or not lucky. They have no choice in the matter at all."

They may not have a choice, but their brains do, if you want to think of it that way. Not having a choice does not mean that our brains are immune to outside stimuli, and Consuelo's article is an example of such a stimulus. Most kids will probably read it and think nothing of it, but it could also trigger something in their brains that'll make them go, "good point," in which case the article will have done precisely what it set out to do.

Up until a few years ago I was a staunch advocate of free will myself. But then I came across articles that said otherwise, thought "good point," and now I'm not. Do you choose to find an argument compelling, or does something just "click" inside your head?

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 18, 2012 | 3:24 a.m.

Frankly, any organization that would have Pat Boone as a spokesperson is an organization that is rightist astroturf.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 18, 2012 | 3:26 a.m.

"Up until a few years ago I was a staunch advocate of free will myself. But then I came across articles that said otherwise, thought "good point," and now I'm not. Do you choose to find an argument compelling, or does something just "click" inside your head?"

So you once believed in free will until you chose not to do so?

Okay...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 18, 2012 | 3:28 a.m.

(To further elaborate my point: After re-reading my previous post, I realized that I don't like the way I phrased that last question. So, why didn't I phrase it well the first time around? I have no idea. Nothing better occurred to me at the time, and I felt that I had done a good job with the phrasing. And yet, not ~5 minutes later I find myself disagreeing with my original choice. Was I free to like my original choice, and was I free to change my mind after the fact? No.)

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 18, 2012 | 3:36 a.m.

Bob:

"So you once believed in free will until you chose not to do so?

Okay..."

Uh, no. I once believed in free will until I read an article that turned everything I thought I knew on its head. I didn't choose to react that way, it simply...happened. So yeah, how does one go about choosing to have an epiphany?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 18, 2012 | 6:33 a.m.

Jonathan wrote:

"It doesn't matter if you have the ability and opportunity to have sex with men, you cannot make yourself WANT to do it if you flat-out just don't want to."

I'd imagine there are men in prison who never thought they could have sex with another man, but faced with the choice between having what sex is available vs doing it themselves, chose to have sex with another man. They may never do it again once they get out either. It's taking advantage of what is available.

You cannot choose to have fundamental desires and needs (food, water, sexual outlet, etc.) but you can certainly choose what to do about them. I think it's important to make that distinction.

DK

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 18, 2012 | 9:12 a.m.

Jon, if you believe in "luck" and "predestination", there is no such thing as a stupid decision. Or a good decision. Indeed, there is no such thing as a decision at all. Everything is simply a "happening" or "event" beyond your control.

If luck is paramount and predestination ordained, why do you note that you cringe and lose sleep over a stupid decision? After all, in your own words, you had no choice in the matter. You were simply unlucky and bear no responsibility at all. Indeed, you are not responsible for the inconsistencies and rhetorical gymnastics in your 3:02 a.m. post so, for heaven's sake, go get some sleep.......
____________________

You did make one other interesting statement: "So yeah, how does one go about choosing to have an epiphany?"

Did you choose to stay interested in this thing called "free will", enough to keep learning about it? Is your curiosity a choice or a predestined form of behavior such that the article you read just happened along and you were lucky enough to read it? Or maybe choosing to have an epiphany is simply a probability-based event, in which case we should make a law with criminal penalties that every human must remain in school all their life so as to increase the probability for multiple epiphanies on how not to make stupid decisions.

I agree with Mark: "You cannot choose to have fundamental desires and needs....but you can certainly choose what to do about them." Big difference, imo.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 18, 2012 | 10:16 p.m.

Mark:

I asked Michael if he could choose to WANT to have sex with men--and actually, I first asked him if he could choose to love a man in the same way he loves his wife, which goes way beyond just sex. If he said yes to either of these questions, he would be lying.

Settling for whatever is available (such in the example you gave) is not the same thing. If I was stranded on a desert island and all I had to eat was anchovies, I would eat them, but I still wouldn't want to eat them.

While our ability to do different things may make it seem like we have the ability to make free choices, this superficial observation disappears the moment we notice that we are not in control of what we want--and what we want is what governs what we do.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 18, 2012 | 10:23 p.m.

Michael said: "If luck is paramount and predestination ordained, why do you note that you cringe and lose sleep over a stupid decision? After all, in your own words, you had no choice in the matter. You were simply unlucky and bear no responsibility at all."

Uh, that's the whole point. Despite the fact that I know all this stuff, I can't not care, aka I don't have the ability to make myself not feel guilty when I do something that I think is stupid (the definition of which I do not control either).

You've mentioned before that you hate "cowards" who wouldn't instantly run to the aid of someone who desperately needed it. Well, if you saw a woman being raped, could you choose not to help her? More importantly, could you choose not to care about the fact that you didn't?

In our self-defense/home-invasion discussion, you said that you couldn't ever abandon your family to go call the police. So, why not? It sure didn't sound like this decision was based on your fear of being judged by others, nor did you care that abandoning them made logical sense. You said you would commit suicide if you left your kid behind and he died as a result...why? Apparently I can just turn off whatever makes me feel guilty about making dumb decisions, so why can't you turn off whatever would make you feel guilty about leaving your family behind?

"Did you choose to stay interested in this thing called "free will", enough to keep learning about it? Is your curiosity a choice or a predestined form of behavior such that the article you read just happened along and you were lucky enough to read it?"

No, I didn't choose to have an interest in it, in the same way you didn't choose to loathe "socialism."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 18, 2012 | 11:01 p.m.

Jon: There is no such thing as "making dumb decisions" (your words) if luck dictates outcomes, as you believe. You can't "make" anything happen, there is no "dumb" because no judgment can come from luck, and there are no decisions in luck....only outcomes. Verbiage such as "making dumb decisions" is an unlucky choice of words for a true believer in luck because it highlights inconsistency or, at best, a 9.5 on the rhetorical gymnastics scale.

Further, I could not turn off my guilt because, unlike you, I CHOSE to make a bad decision, and I own that choice. You, on the other hand, can feel bad and sleepless about a poor outcome (I won't say "choice" because in your world there is no such thing), but you feel no particular responsibility for it.

THAT'S a huge difference between you and me.

_____________________________

You said, "You've mentioned before that you hate "cowards"..."

Not once have I used that term on this forum, so please do not put words in my mouth. I did say that I despised gawkers. I also said I would not be pleased if a journalist took notes when they were needed in an emergency. The latter is more of a "I have no respect for you now or ever if you continue" issue, tho.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 19, 2012 | 4:18 a.m.

Michael said: "Further, I could not turn off my guilt because, unlike you, I CHOSE to make a bad decision, and I own that choice."

That's pretty strange logic. "I can choose, therefore I can't choose."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 19, 2012 | 8:28 a.m.

Jon: No more strange than believing luck always applies, and then stating you have the ability to "make dumb decisions".

I'm a blend of nature vs nurture....you're a nature guy exclusively.

Yet both of us seem to believe we have the capacity to "make dumb decisions."

The only apparent difference is that I feel personal responsibility for mine. You feel like a genetically rotten, somewhat sleepless person who got the short end of the luck stick.

I still agree with Mark: "You cannot choose to have fundamental desires and needs....but you can certainly choose what to do about them."
___________________

The really odd thing about all this is your view of human genetics reminds me of those who favor eugenics. Why allow the passage of unlucky genes that are a burden to the rest of us?

But, mainly I find myself looking more favorably upon fellow human brain capacity than you do. I think most anyone can do better, if they so choose.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 19, 2012 | 3:16 p.m.

"The only apparent difference is that I feel personal responsibility for mine. You feel like a genetically rotten, somewhat sleepless person who got the short end of the luck stick."

Obviously that's how I feel, and that's exactly what I meant when I said that I'm big on personal responsibility.

...

"The really odd thing about all this is your view of human genetics reminds me of those who favor eugenics. Why allow the passage of unlucky genes that are a burden to the rest of us?"

Wow, you're really grasping at straws now.

But yeah, I'll play your silly game too: The really odd thing about all this is your view of human beings reminds me of what dogs and countless others less evolved animals do. Why help a person who needs it when we could just leave them to die in a corner and save ourselves some resources in the process? Hell, we could even do the humane thing and put 'em to sleep so as to alleviate their suffering.

"But, mainly I find myself looking more favorably upon fellow human brain capacity than you do. I think most anyone can do better, if they so choose."

So, to look down on all unfortunate people and blame them for their misfortune is to look favorably upon them. Good work there. I think most anyone can do better too, if we help them.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 19, 2012 | 5:23 p.m.

Jon: I think most anyone can do better too, if we help them.
______________________

Why should you help? Those folks are unlucky in your world. Their fate is sealed. Doomed.

I think more highly of their brains than you do, and that's the really weird part of this conversation. Your posture is one of condescension and, if I was a recipient, I'd be offended.

As for your bigness on personal responsibility, there is no personal responsibility when life is determined by luck. After all, do you blame yourself when you roll snake-eyes while hoping for a seven? Me neither. So, since you have no personal responsibility for anything that happens to you, you will no longer be writing posts at 3:02 am.

Sweet dreams.........

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 19, 2012 | 7:14 p.m.

Good job ignoring everything I've said so far--and I'm the one arguing for the sake of arguing...lol.

So, by your logic, the only way it would make sense to help them is if they weren't "doomed" (quoted because, yeah, you ignored everything I said), and yet your position is not to help them anyway because they deserve everything that happened to them.

"I think more highly of their brains than you do, and that's the really weird part of this conversation."

Uh, how highly you think of someone else's brain is meaningless, because their brains (and yours) will do what brains do regardless of your opinion. This is an argument purely out of ignorance.

You may as well be saying, "I think more highly of leukemia patients' bone marrow than you do," which is complete nonsense. If you could simply pep-talk bone marrow into fighting cancer it would be one thing, but the facts tell us otherwise. So yeah, facts trump opinion.

Nevermind that, once again, you claim to think so highly of them and to value their potential, yet out of the two of us you're the one telling them to go screw themselves because their sorry lives are their own fault. Good job with the words of encouragement there, dude. Kicking someone while they're down is clearly the best way to make them aspire to bigger and better things.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 19, 2012 | 11:02 p.m.

Jon, if I took your approach and addressed everything you posted, we'd be in fractal-land. I have to pick and choose from your verbosity.

BTW, bone marrow doesn't think. Brains do.

I'll help those showing signs of helping themselves. I won't help those wallowing in a claimed, chronic case of "bad luck". Those folks are on their own....you, too, if you're one of them.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 20, 2012 | 12:29 a.m.

I don't expect you to respond to everything, but it certainly doesn't look like you're even reading it. I may be verbose for forum standards, but I'm not writing books either. If you were reading my posts, you wouldn't be regurgitating the same nonsense I already addressed earlier.

BTW, the brain is an organ. Congratulations on holding a body part to higher standards than I do, whatever that means. I'm sure that neuroscientists will take your opinions into account when they run their experiments. "Wait a minute, guys. These results can't be right, because they clearly contradict Michael's high expectations of brains."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 20, 2012 | 8:41 a.m.

Jon: If you were reading my posts, you wouldn't be regurgitating the same nonsense I already addressed earlier.
________________________

You addressed, but failed to convince.

Unlucky, I guess.

(Report Comment)

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