Archive for Issues

Bigotry or faith? Confusing and obscuring the issue is a tactic

Tammy Bruce notes that the assault is on the small guy, it is a tactic of attrition where victories over those less able to defend themselves sets precedent and defines the battlefield. It’s Why the veto of Arizona’s religious freedom bill is alarming – Houses of worship now vulnerable to ‘Gay Gestapo’

“Under these rules, freedom of conscience is squashed under the jackboot of liberals, all in the Orwellian name of “equality and fairness.” Here we are dealing with not just forcing someone to do something for you, but forcing them in the process to violate a sacrament of their faith as well. If we are able to coerce someone, via the threat of lawsuit and personal destruction, to provide a service, how is that not slavery? If we insist that you must violate your faith specifically in that slavish action, how is that not abject tyranny?”

The law of the land (U.S. Constitution – Amendment 1) is supposed to be:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yet the campaign is tearing this to shreds. The new ‘state sponsored’ religion doesn’t have a solid name nor a formal church nor formal leadership but it does exist and laws are being passed to promote its establishment, prohibit competitors, and supress any objection to its practices.

Worried yet? You might be next.

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Inductive fallacies

Interesting. In the blog he notes that logical fallacy claims are becoming more prominent. Then he (Stephen Downes) asserts that the observations of logical fallacies are wrong and that awareness of such fallacies should be for personal feedback and not a part of dialog or discussion. He then cites his web site on logical fallacies. One should examine the section he titles Inductive Fallacies and compare and contrast to his own assertions. The ‘missing the point’ section might also be of interest.

The fact is that an observation can be a misperception and that can lead to a spurious accusation. That is why care is needed in describing what one observes. It is also why one needs to consider one’s own behavior when observing others. It doesn’t mean finding fault and then illustrating the fault in one’s own behavior and that is what the author of this fallacy dictionary seems to have done.

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Silence speaks volumens but sometimes time is needed to hear the word

“One might almost think that the antiwar movement was all about politics, not principle. That it was really an anti-Bush, anti-Republican movement. And that once a Democrat was in the White House, its purpose had been served and the protest signs went into the trash. There is precedent for this, as we have written before. The anti-Vietnam war movement, which also was celebrated by the press, wasn’t really a movement against the Vietnam war. It was led mostly by people who were not at all opposed to the war, but wanted the other side to win. The rank and file were not so much anti-war as they were anti-draft. On the day the draft was abolished, the anti-Vietnam war movement ended. Whatever you think of the merits of the Vietnam war, there never was anything noble or idealistic about the anti-war movement.

History may, perhaps, say the same thing about those who protested the Iraq war so passionately, but have been so strangely silent about Afghanistan.”

John Hinderaker is wondering what happened to the antiwar movement? He observes that these ‘anti-war’ movements aren’t really that at all but rather a ‘pro-enemy anti-U.S.’ political expression. Hidden agendas, socialism oriented terror and violence, and much misery and death, over and over again. When will we ever learn?

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Blame shifting, the California Drought, and the climate bogeyman

The IBD says California’s Drought Isn’t Due To Global Warming, But Politics. The President illustrates the point.

“His aim, however, is not a long-term solution for California’s now-constant water shortages that have hit its $45 billion agricultural industry, but to preach about global warming. Instead of blaming the man-made political causes of California’s worst water shortage, he’s come with $2 billion in “relief” that’s nothing but a tired effort to divert attention from fellow Democrats’ dereliction of duty in using the state’s water infrastructure.”

The fact is that a system of aqueducts and storage was designed long ago to take care of normal droughts and water cycles. Recent ‘environmental’ policy has been to set aside that system to promote a more ‘natural’ state. That results in misery and poverty as the $45 billion California agricultural business is laid to waste. That, in turns, leads to seeking out a bogeyman to blame the misery on. Human caused climate catastrophe is a much more comfortable excuse than ignorance and stupidity.

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Little (useless) cuts

One tactic for the phalanx of advocacy groups is that of death via a thousand small cuts. The 2nd ammendment brouhaha illustrates this. A Washington Times FoIA request reveals that Current background checks stop very few firearm purchases. Another recent story is about how minor cosmetic changes to an ‘assault rifle’ made it comply with New York law. Then there’s the recent 9th Circuit ruling against San Diego in regards to the rights to carry as well as own firearms.

The fundamental assumption that gun ownership is positively correlated with crime has been shown to be faulty but that doesn’t seem to have any impact on the phalanx. Making it difficult to own a firearm on the pretext of keeping the felons and insane from owning guns also appears to be a worthless effort – unless you consider hassling citizens in expressing Constitutional freedoms a plus. The assault weapons ban has repeatedly been shown to be meaningless, but that doesn’t stop renewed efforts time and again as in New York.

Then there is efforts to restrict ammunition types and access. On and On it goes. Results don’t seem to matter. Neither do effects or implications. That should be the biggest worry.

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The evil demon. Really?

Thomas Lifson takes a look at the Stuff Bush didn’t do.

“In the face of five years of Obama failure, the American Left still invokes the specter of George W. Bush as the all-purpose explanation for everything that has gone wrong. Yet the 43rd president is steadily climbing in public esteem, as his sunny disposition and serious demeanor toward the duties of office sit well in the public memory. So, too, his dignified behavior as ex-president brings credit.

“One good way to force the Left to confront President Obama’s own responsibility for his conduct in office is to compare his abuses of office with the record of President Bush 43, who was reviled by by his opposition as a dictator-wannabe, Constitution-abusing, moronic ogre straddling the line between simian and human. Doug Ross of Director Blue has produced an amusing comic-book approach toward explaining the differences between the two men:

This particular phenomena exposes the ‘both sides do it’ fallacy. The extremes are to place complete blame on one side or the other with the ‘both equally culpable’ as a supposed moderate, in the middle position. Integrity demands a better placement of responsibility for behavior and evaluation of the consequences and implications.

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The green war on the poor

“Before around 1960, anybody other than a crank would have been flabbergasted at such suicidal stupidity and policies one would expect from an enemy or a rival. An illiterate farmer in the 19th century knew you had to husband natural resources and protect them for the future, but he would never have idealized a harsh natural world that only stubbornly and by dint of hard labor produces sustenance for humans. But that was before environmentalism evolved into a cult for an affluent society of people so rich that they can take for granted their protection from nature by technology and industrialism, all the while it demonizes a modern world those same people couldn’t live without for five seconds.”

Bruce Thornton: The Costs of the Environmentalism Cult. To deprive farmers of the water they need to grow fruits and vegetables, to deprive people of the fuel they need to keep warm in the winter, these sorts of actions are a war of the wealthy on the poor.

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Must call the lie out

“Nasty, brutish – and false – as was the Progressive assault on George W. Bush: e.g. “Bush lied, people died,” Michael Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11,” etc., was very much part of a free society, in which people freely contest each other’ view of reality. Alas, the Progressive ruling class is instituting a regime in which no one may contest what it knows full well to be false without suffering consequences.”

“This is the sort of thing that one expects from the North Korean regime”

“For ordinary Americans, calling the regime’s lies by their name, deviating from political correctness, carries far stiffer penalties, because the regime has labeled each such deviation as an antisocial pathology: racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, “denialism,”etc., any of which mark you as an opponent of those who count. They may fire you, pass you over, or just exclude you from that to which you wish to be included.

This is new and incomplete. But only in America. It is the very routine, the very constitution, of totalitarian society.”

Angelo M. Codevilla says to Live Not by Lies, quotes Solzhenitsyn as one who ‘been there, done that’ and has seen the consequences. The message is that dishonesty cannot be excused, ignored, or let to be without disasterous consequences.

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Recognizing the fight

Rick Moran: Dems Trying to Blame IRS IG for Targeting Scandal

“The Obama administration has well-documented problems with assertive inspector generals, so this kind of pushback is to be expected from Hill Democrats. It’s an attempt to smear the IRS inspector general and only shows how desperate the Democrats have become. It’s a hail mary pass that is going to fall incomplete in the end zone.”

John Hinderaker: America’s Latest Heroine Fights Back. The heroine is Catherine Engelbrecht, President of Engelbrecht Manufacturing, founder of the King Street Patriots, and chair of True the Vote. In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, she described what she experienced after filing for nonprofit status for the King Street Patriots and True the Vote organizations.

“The more we learn about the rot and corruption in the Obama administration, the deeper it goes. Obama’s misuse of federal agencies to target and intimidate citizens who disagree with him politically is the worst abuse of executive power in my lifetime, by a wide margin. We all need to fight back, at every opportunity.”

It is ugly. It is persistent. It is dishonest. And it is a broad front. Perhaps some are beginning to understand what they are up against, what we are up against, what the country is up against.

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From entertainment media you’d think the entire population was mostly gay and black

Alan Caruba says it’s The Gay Attack on American Values. It would be one thing to ‘live and let live’ but that just isn’t enough for the minority.

“It is 3% of the population demanding that 97% toss aside their faith and their values to accommodate the aberration called homosexuality. And, yes, it is an aberration because homosexuality cannot be interpreted as “normal” in any species.

MassResistance correctly says “This is madness and should not have any legal leg to stand on.”

If the homosexual assault on values and practices that have existed for centuries in the Catholic Church and in other religious faiths succeeds, the whole of our society will suffer for it.”

It is a campaign of lawsuits and selective targeting. The persistence in these efforts is enough to make one wonder what would happen if that effort was turned towards more productive ends.

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A tale of compounding droughts

“The wages of both nature’s drought and human folly are coming due. Unless it rains or snows in biblical fashion in the next 60 days, we could see surreal things in California — towns without water, farms reverting to scrub, majestic parks with dead landscaping — fit for Hollywood’s disaster movies.

Instead of an adult state with millions of acre-feet stored in new reservoirs, California is still an adolescent culture that thinks it has the right to live as if it were the age of the romantic 19th-century naturalist John Muir — amid a teeming 40-million-person 21st-century megalopolis.

The California disease is characteristic of comfortable postmodern societies that forget the sources of their original wealth. The state may have the most extensive reserves of gas and oil in the nation, the largest number of cars on the road — and the greatest resistance to drilling for fuel beneath its collective feet.”

HANSON: A tale of two California droughts – water for everything but people, farming and commerce, it seems. The natural climate cycle and anti-human ideology make for two droughts.

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Reduce to the absurd and create a straw man

Rick Moran wonders: Is It Possible to Love the Artist, but Hate His Politics? in regards to “the culture clash over Pete Seeger’s legacy.”

“Communist activist and troubadour Pete Seeger is dead. The outpouring of vitriol on the right and hagiography on the left is entirely predictable and, with few exceptions, entirely banal. Turning Seeger’s death into another clash in the culture wars somehow seems tiresome, like two old boxers coming out of their corners for the 12th round. Battered, beaten, bloody, all they have left is the instinct to try to destroy each other. Whatever art and artifice they possessed disappeared long before the bell clanged for the last round.

Must we reduce everything in America to a right vs. left Armageddon? One longs for a more complicated, less knee-jerk combative analysis of people like Pete Seeger. Actually, there has been no one like Pete Seeger, and future historians will brush aside most of the shallow, venomous assaults on his memory — as well as the one-dimensional paeans that whitewash his execrable politics — and look at the totality of his life and judge his monumental contributions to American society.”

What is the ‘reduce to the absurd?” That is what you do when you assert a generality about an “outpouring of vitriol on the right and hagiography on the left.” Yes, vitriol does exist and so do hagiographies but that does not mean that those characteristics are symptomatic of the sides in the culture debate.

What is the ‘straw man?’ That is the creating of a battle where the outcome is a desire to “try to destroy” the other side with the “battered, beaten, bloody” boxer standing in for the straw man.

There is a call for context of the times but then there is a judgment — “at a time when companies were still hiring thugs and sometimes working with local police to physically assault strikers and labor organizers” — offered to ‘excuse’ communist leanings.

“His was an immensely consequential life. But what does it say about us that we judge that life based solely on the fact that we violently disagree with his politics? If a man is made up of many layers, do we, when the time comes to judge him, strip away the facade layer by layer and judge him in all his marvelous complexity and contradiction? Or do we take the one-dimensional track and declare him a failure based on his political beliefs?”

That assumes the extreme, that disagreement is violent and that political ideology trumps any other consideration for the general populace. There is no evidence that Seeger is considered a failure as failure is not the topic under discussion.

The need is for discussion that is not laced with logical fallacies. There is a need to balance the image of heroes with their own integrity and honesty in their ideologies – especially in matters of how belief and practice fit together. The tale of the Pied Piper is one caution about this. If we cannot examine modern day’s Pied Pipers without being accused of extremism, vitriol, and intemperance, it will be difficult to shed any light on avoiding the same fate as the childrem of Hamelin.

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Why would anyone be a diehard Stalinist?

Another 60′s hero is gone and the hagiographies populate the media. As with many of these heroes of the left, not all is pretty and peaceful. There is a dark side of Peter Seeger, too, and it is yet another story to make you wonder.

“Seeger popularized folk music and used it as a tool to effect political and social change in America. … Seeger in many cases was at forefront of the civil rights movement and a dedicated advocate for American labor.

“However, there is a dark side to Pete Seeger, one that is airbrushed out of all the effusive hagiography. Seeger was a dedicated Stalinist and has not renounced his devotion to communism, a political ideology, which according to the Black Book of Communism, responsible for the murder of over 94 million people. When you speak out against communism you get booed, when you’re a cheerleader for its mass murderers you get a Kennedy Center tribute and presidential praise.”

Seeger rationalized his anti U.S. views with “White people in the U.S.A. could consider apologizing for stealing land from Native Americans and enslaving blacks.” Human history be-damned, it seems.

“Some would argue that these inconvenient truths are peripheral to Seeger’s musical achievements and altruistic fight for civil rights. However, that argument ignores the fact that communism, and for a very long part of his life, support of the Soviet Union were central to Seeger’s politics and worldview.”

A wordsmith to fall for words is perhaps understandable, but a famous songwriter ignorant of the human condition is a puzzle. May Seeger rest in peace.

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Which is the lesser evil?

“This left-wing obsession with a non-evil exemplifies the left’s moral universe. That universe is preoccupied with lesser evils while nearly always ignoring the greatest evils.

“Preoccupation with real evil is the greatest difference between right and left. The right was preoccupied with fighting Communism while the left (not liberals such as JFK, but the left) was preoccupied with fighting anti-Communists.”

Dennis Prager makes a list to answer the question: What Preoccupies the Left? What Preoccupies the Right?

Consider: Compare and contrast the Washington Redskins to North Korea, Islamism to Islamophobia, Protecting to protesting Israel, … “Only a conservative leader would have the moral courage to say that. Because while the right fights evil, the left fights the Redskins.

Why? What can or should be done? How?

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Inequality: good or bad

Steve Cichon dug up a 1991 Radio Shack newspaper advertisement and found that 13 electronic products for $5k (and 500 hrs. work) can now be replaced with a $200 iPhone (10 hrs.).

“The comparison above is an example of the “invisible hand” at work, giving us more goods, better goods, and cheaper goods over time. And the poor and middle class benefit the most. While only the wealthy might have been able to afford the bundle of 13 electronic products costing $5,000 in 1991, almost anybody today can afford an iPhone with features that far exceed the 13 products in 1991.

“Instead of spending so much time obsessing about income inequality, the “top 1%,” the “decline of the middle class,” and generally criticizing and blaming the free market for every woe, maybe we should devote more time to celebrating how the “miracle of the marketplace” has brought about rising living standards for all income groups in America, especially low-income households. Falling prices of manufactured goods like food, cars, clothing, household appliances, computers and electronics have probably given low-income households in the US greater access to the “good life” than all of the government programs and safety nets that are part of the trillion dollars of spending on America’s “War on Poverty.””

Then there’s the story about people in San Francisco ‘outing’ a Google engineer in anti-technology protests. Being poor just ain’t what it used to be … but then, many facets stay the same – see Appalachia: The big white ghetto for an insight into the new ‘Pepsi’ generation.

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There’s more free-speech defending to do

In Wisconsin, the politics got ugly. The WSJ has an update on judge who stopped one effort at trolling the opposition for something to label as criminal.

“John Doe probes operate much like grand juries, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches while gag orders require the targets to keep quiet. We wrote about the kitchen-sink subpoenas and morning raids by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz that targeted dozens of conservative groups that participated in the battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker (“Wisconsin Political Speech Raid,” Nov. 16, 2013).

“Now we learn that Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled on Friday that at least some of those subpoenas were improper. They “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws,” he wrote. His opinion remains under seal but we obtained a copy.”

“Democrats would love to intimidate and muzzle the local activists who rallied to Mr. Walker’s recall defense. And the subpoenas all but shut down these activists, forcing them to hire lawyers and defend themselves rather than contribute to the political debate in an election year.”

“The John Doe process has become a political weapon intended to serve partisan ends regardless of the law. Kudos to a judge who was brave enough to read the law and stop it, but there’s more free-speech defending to do.”

The Christie Traffic Jam is being compared to the NPS shutdown’s in October. Those activities are mild stuff when compared to political prosecutions and prosecutorial abuse. The use of the legal system to harass, intimidate, and distract seems to have no end. Even McD’s is being sued — again — for having coffee that is too hot. The long term implications for the legal system are not good.

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Veteran’s benefits v Senator Reid

Did you know?

“It is remarkable that on a day when our news media are consumed by a lane closure on a bridge, the Democrats’ support for billions of dollars in fraud by illegal aliens isn’t even a news story.”

John Hinderaker describes the news that gets buried but tells the story: Once Again, Democrats Vote to Cut Veterans’ Benefits in Order to Enable Fraud By Illegal Aliens

Both sides are the same, you say?

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The balance isn’t even. There is a difference

Russ Vaughn provides an update on the status of the Knockout Game also known as Polar Bear Hunting as The Holder Effect. “Liberals who do acknowledge the existence of the Knockout Game and who its perpetrators are, trot out all the old chestnuts about racist white America being responsible for troubled black youth.” A key point here is that the only federal prosecution for a hate crime in these assaults is of a white guy in Houston – it took the DoJ quite a while to find an example to fit the proper definition of what they want to be.

Kyle Becker describes 24 Underreported Democrat Scandals That Make News Media’s ‘Bridgegate Mania’ Look Like a Joke as a perspective on the latest New Jersey Bridge brouhaha.

Perspective and reality don’t quite fit the ‘both sides do it’ fallacy. It is hard to say which is more tragic: holding the belief that both sides are exactly the same or the denial behavior in trying to maintain that fantasy.

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Inequality in honesty

A. Barton Hinkle posts on The Great Inequality Debate with some good insight but some rather glaring dishonesty.

“The abstract notion of equality is the lodestar of the American left, just as the abstract notion of liberty is the lodestar of the right. Or at least some liberty: Most conservatives care greatly about the economic kind, and the sight of an entrepreneur caught up in red tape enrages them. But certain conservatives care less about other kinds of liberty, such as the freedom of gays and lesbians to pursue their own happiness as they define it, or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted.”

The distinction between left and right could be useful but the references maligning the right are dishonest. The “freedom of gays and lesbians” is a matter of the limits of libertarianism and the fundamental requirement that rights (freedoms) have responsibilities. The comment about “unaccosted” probably refers to the Zimmerman case and misrepresents the facts of that case as determined by trial.

“Focusing only on inequalities of result also ignores another important dimension to the question. Again, Wilkinson: “It’s not enough to identify a mechanism of rising inequality. An additional argument is required to show that there is some kind of injustice or wrongdoing involved.”

This gets to the matter that the left is presuming a guilt without evidence of a crime much less a proper connection between cause and effect. The whole ‘income inequality’ idea has very little to do with its purported aim – to reduce poverty or provide credibility to questionable behavior – and much more to do with such things as envy.

Efforts to force equality where it does not exist can lead to an unintended suffering. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. took the effort for equality to its limit in his 1961 “satirical and dystopian short story Harrison Bergeron. Governance efforts based on the ‘forced equality by government idea’ have failed and often expressed significant human suffering in the process of doing so.

Yet here we go again. The quote attributed to Albert Einstein on insanity comes to mind.

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Scary times (but its us, not them)

Hansen wonders about 2017 and the End of Ethics

“We have become inured to the press as an adjunct Ministry of Truth and to the notion that the president feels that he can do whatever he wishes without much worry over public audit. Such obsequiousness and exemption are now institutionalized, just as, after the divine Emperor Augustus, there was little accountability for the emperors or free speech allowed in criticizing them. So we are entering a new period in presidential history, and it may be difficult to go back to the status quo ante 2009, when reporters were not state megaphones and the president paid a price for not telling the truth.

More likely, the members of the national press corps do not even now quite get it that they have been completely discredited.”

“So we are living in scary times. The nation has grown used to the idea that what the president says is probably either untrue or irrelevant — and yet it does not really any more care which.”

The focus is on the first level media and their role as auditors of political behavior. In many respects, this is like those who point to a political party or even all politicians as the source for what is wrong in the country. This is simply a means to avoid something much more pernicious. The accountability for public and political behavior depends upon the citizens – each one of us – in our votes and in our acceptance of lies, deceit, and corruption. When we honor muggers and despise those who defend themselves lawfully, it’s us and not them that need examination.

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