Archive for March, 2005

The decline of debate

Framing the argument, hubris, emotion, … when there is no learning on either side of a debate it becomes an argument.

Every time I argue with a Liberal, I’m reminded of quarrels I used to have with my parents. The battles never seemed fair because my folks decided what the rules were and what was out of bounds. In addition, because they were parents, they could threaten me in ways I couldn’t threaten them, and they could say things I could never say. …

They tend to do things like accusing members of the Right of sowing the seeds of hatred while, at the same time, comparing them to mass murderers. And they do this while completely missing the irony.

The moral superiority they bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side. …

I thought it insulting to hear those “red state” voters caricatured as red-necked rubes. My friend asked, “Well, don’t you think that people who live in large urban areas, who travel and read and speak other languages are better able to make informed choices?” It turns out it is superiority, not familiarity, which breeds contempt.

The rhetoric has become so super-heated that, sadly, I find myself having fewer and fewer political discussions these days. And while I miss the spirited give-and-take, when Supreme Court Justices become worse than Hitler and when those who vote a certain way do so because they’re idiots, it’s time to talk about the weather.

[Pat Sajak; Why I’ve Stopped Arguing with Liberals; Human Events Online; 28mr05]

We have a recent case that shows that this approach to differences of opinion is not restricted to the left. When the Limbaugh brothers, Hannity, Savage, Coulter et al climb into bed with Jackson you know that only time will tell. Jumping up and down and frothing at the mouth is no way to indicate an ability for reason to govern emotion. And what makes a human more than the ability to apply reason to govern instinct and emotion?

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Boom and bust in governmental revenue

There are a variety of concerns about the real estate boom. Some involve the increasing value of property and others concern growth and suburban blight. Either way, local governments are seeing greatly increased revenue from property taxes.

What are local governments in doing with all the extra property tax revenue they are taking in due to the unprecedented rise in housing prices? Where I live, they’re wasting it, and there is going to be hell to pay when the bubble bursts, tax revenues stagnate or even decrease, and prudent fiscal policy has long been thrown out the window. [David Bernstein. That Great Sucking Sound is Your Tax Money Vacuumed into the Public Schools. Volokh Conspiracy. 05mr21]

There seems to be no means to even out the highs and lows in government receipts. The goal seems to be to collect as much as possible and then spend everything collected. There are always things to spend money on. But why make it a habit?

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Detecting differences as a means towards honesty

There is this rationalization about the equivalence of rhetoric. Hanson notes the lack of intellectual integrity in trying to pretend that the rhetoric on both sides is equivalent in tone and manner.

The flood of the Hitler similes is also a sign of the extremism of the times. If there was an era when the extreme Right was more likely to slander a liberal as a communist than a leftist was to smear a conservative as a fascist, those days are long past. True, Bill Clinton brought the deductive haters out of the woodwork, but for all their cruel caricature, few compared him to a mass-murdering Mao or Stalin for his embrace of tax hikes and more government. “Slick Willie” was not quite “Adolf Hitler” or “Joseph Stalin.”

Is there a danger to all this? Plenty. The slander not only brings a president down to the level of an evil murderer, but — as worried Jewish leaders have pointed out — elevates the architect of genocide to the level of an American president.
[Victor Davis Hanson. “Little Eichmanns” and “Digital Brownshirts” Deconstructing the Hitlerian slur. NRO 18mr05]

This particular form of obfuscation was made famous in a debate about the definition of the word ‘is.’ Words mean things. Arguing about nuance of meaning can be a method of coming to grips with an ugly reality by changing the lens through which it is seen.

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The gray in peace and violence

One of the holdovers from the flowerchild sixties is the inability to make even basic discriminations in certain areas. The military, for instance, is seen only as baby killers and not as defenders of freedom. Guns are seen as instruments of offensive power and not as the great equalizer of wild west fame.

Seems to me that the court got it right, and that the school officials got it wrong. And they got it wrong because they made a basic error that’s unfortunately far too common: They confused violence with wrongful violence.

Using guns to kill innocent classmates is obviously a heinous crime. Using a gun to defend yourself is perfectly proper. An American marine’s using guns to kill the enemy is a necessary (though sometimes regrettable) duty. And while we should generally want to create a culture of law-abidingness, a culture of pacifism — or a culture in which the Marine Creed is treated as the equivalent of gangsta rap — is a recipe for national disaster. [Eugene Volokh 16mr05]

The symbols seem to be an obsession in these situations. A military uniform, a national flag, or an ‘assault’ rifle are all put on the pedestal to spit at. The person in the uniform, the country waving the flag, or the citizen using the weapon for self defense are ignored and set outside of view.

What gets really interesting is that those who wave around such symbols and eschew the individuals behind them are those who proclaim their respect and honor for people and self worth. Yet pride, and honor, and a willingness to defend self and others from depredation are impugned.

What gives?

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Schiavo decisions are consistent

NRO (22mr05) Primary Document: Federal judge rules against the Schindlers.

The rhetoric “murder,” “kill,” “execution,” “starve to death,” “torture;” the slander against Judge Greer and husband Schiavo; the bland and confident (apparently false) assertions that cast doubt about what has really happened; the ‘saving the life” and “protecting” assertions;

What the ruling says is that there is a process defined by the state legislature that anticipated the controvery, that this process is a proper means to uphold and respect the rights of the invalid, and that the process was properly followed.

The AP story on the judgment tends to refute what was asserted on Scarborough Country 21 March:

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly. Her collapse was later linked to a potassium imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder. A successful malpractice lawsuit argued that doctors had failed to diagnose the eating disorder. She can breathe on her own, but has relied on the feeding tube to keep her alive.

and also highlighted on of the core issues

Court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery, while her parents insist she could recover with treatment.

One of the assertions to the federal judge was that these “court-appointed” either didn’t exist or were biased. The judge did not find either assertion to have any merit.

The editorials and opinions continue the paradigm that this is something being done to Schiavo rather than respecting her desires to not having something done to her. It is a case of putting oneself into another’s shoes but forgetting or avoiding or denying the circumstances of those shoes. The result is a confused context and misplaced conclusions.

There are contradictory assertions being made. How can one tell which are true and which are not? Is the CAT scan in a previous link real? What is a proper interpretation? Is the explanation offered in a previous link true or is the Scarborough guest right?

In a case like this, we are forced to delegate responsibility to the systems we have in place that the federal judge ruled were appropriate and properly carried out. We have to delegate responsibility to that system to determine which medical experts are to be given most weight. This judgment is just one more to a long chain of such that have all been consistent. To toss them aside as many have done is to assert a conspiracy of vast proportions.

But then, anyone with a discerning ear can hear enough to know that the first wrong is the emotional loading of the argument that says the parent’s view is suffering from logic and reason. Even Limbaugh went overboard on this one citing the seriousness of life and death and then ridiculing his opponents and their ideas rather than countering them with reason as is his usual want.

It is just this blowing of smoke, emotionally laden argument, conspiracy ethos, and FUD mongering that needs attention. Normally these are methods of the left. But, in this circumstance, it is the right that is providing a very clear cut example of a very human behavior that each of us needs to control in ourselves in order to move towards a higher standard of intellectual integrity.

Update: Poliblogger provides links to A Dispassionate View on Schiavo

In regards to the first issue, one can go here (PDF) to see the report of Jay Wolfson, DrPH, JD, Guardian Ad Litem for Theresa Marie Schiavo (1 December 2003) (h/t: Kevin Alyward). Many seem to think that there has been insufficient fact-finding in this case, but if one does some research, one discovers that this is not the case.

The Guardian Ad Litem report is on the Orlando Sentinal site and appears to be an authentic report of the person designated to review the case. It provides a complete history and background that appears to be accurate.

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Viewpoints on the Schiavo case

About the living will issue and due process.

Virtually every single day across this country decisions are made to discontinue extraordinary medical intervention and people are allowed to proceed with the process of dying. In some cases feeding tubes are removed. More often ventilators are turned off. In one case a person starves to death, in another they are suffocated. It happens every day … but you don’t hear politicians screaming about murder. And why? Because those cases don’t generate the media heat that this one has. [Neil Boortz. Shameless Grandstanding. 21mr05]

About the issue of federalism and rights

Surely, many of those who oppose what Congress did in the Schiavo case do generally approve of intruding on the state to impose a higher standard of individual rights – including the rights for the disabled. They would not normally stand back and allow the states to innovate and experiment with the narrowing of individual rights. Certain matters have traditionally belonged to the states, but there is a long modern trend of re-visualizing these matters in terms of the rights of the individual. Whether one agrees with the conception of rights reflected in Congress’s Schiavo law, one should not deny that Congress has an important, well-established role enforcing the rights of the individual and displacing choices made at the state level. And who does deny this role? The disagreement is about what rights are, not what federalism is. [Ann Althouse. Terri Schiavo and federalism. 21mr05]

and musing on implications

As Congress and the President rushed into their exploitation of Terri Schiavo, they set off a bomb that will have considerable fallout, I think: … This is not the result of deliberative government and the rule of law. This is the result of the fog of media and cynical politics. [Jeff Jarvis. Schiavo fallout Buzz Machine. 21mr05]

Jeff mentions the fear of lawsuits, the implications of costs, and the mess in the legal and judiciary systems. He also ponders the starve, choke, kill, and murder ideas in contrast to the Oregon assisted suicide law. What he misses is palliative care that is a normal part of the end of life in the ‘failure to thrive’ cause of death.

President Bush used the “fog of media” as a rationale to support the emergency act for federal judicial overview. Considering the rhetoric being bandied about, this may be a reasonable position to take. We need to make sure that the ‘due process’ did indeed properly consider the rights of the parties involved and, if it didn’t, to fix that due process.

Update: Jeff provides some good links to help understand the medical and ethical issues involved.

Matthew Yglesias sends us to a good post by Rivka on the medical claims in the case; see another on the ethical issues. And Rivka recommends a post by Hilzoy, which includes a picture of a scan of Terri Schiavo’s brain.

It makes the media fog appear to be even more obfuscating and the brouhaha even more poorly based.

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Making a mountain out of a molehill

Creating issues that don’t really exist – making a mountain out of a mole hill – is a common technique, related to the straw man technique, of dishonest argument.

Perhaps Barstow and Stein have stumbled upon an effective new technique for demonizing political opponents when there’s nothing of substance about which to complain: find a routine activity or program not generally understood by the public, and paint it as some form of the Devil’s work. [Richard N. Weltz; Ask the man in the street; American Thinker 16mr05 ]

In this case, it is attempting to show that the current administration is full of little ‘Joseph Goebbels’ by taking something the government has done, is supposed to do, needs to do, and painting it as some monstrosity.

The lesson is that you need to be careful taking news reports at face value.

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Majority rule?

When in a group there are certain accomodations that need to be made for the benefit of all.

Long before I ever knew much about Republicans and Democrats I remember gangs of kids deciding all sorts of arguments with a show of hands and the phrase “majority rules.” It would seem, that’s an unheard of concept in many corners of our world today, and most specifically in the US Senate and SCOTUS. For the Dems the world view is “We Rule.” [rspostal; Majority Rules? Poor Robert; 16mr05]

There has been a lot of discussion about mandate since the 2004 national elections. There are folks who are absolutely certain the election was rigged, that money bought the votes that the other side used to win, or that some other reason can be used to deny the outcome of the election.

In corporate governance, is it called the findamental duty of loyalty. Once the decision has been made then it is the duty of all of those in the group to accept, implement, and own the decision.

Some are worried, and probably rightfully so, when there is such a loud minority who refuse to accept the decisions made. The behavior of opposition has exceeded bounds of loyalty in the manner of a civil divide and not a part of the whole seeking change. We’ve been there, done that. Let’s not do it again.

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The myths of the Schiavo case

There are myths and obfuscations enough to fill the pot on this one. It touches the heart and opens many wounds.

Schiavo’s uphill battle to live has been too depressing for me to write much about. It seems inevitable that later today her feeding tube will be removed, and she’ll begin her painful path toward her heavenly Father. I’m saddened that our culture has produced misguided men like Michael Schiavo and Judge George Greer who fail to put the benefit of the doubt on human life. We now learn that minimal testing has been done to determine Terri’s injuries. [Sean Hackbarth; Culture of Death 05mr18]

Hugh Hewitt provides some links

Many great posts on the effort to save Terri Schiavo’s life around the blogopshere, including What’sTheRumpus and OkieontheLaminLA.  Be sure to read this as well.  And this is the article that really stunned many people this week.  TerrisFight is here, and LordofthePeeps has a touching and inspiring post as well. [Hugh Hewitt]

and then there is this observation.

I know two things for sure: 1) I wouldn’t want to be kept alive under similar conditionds and 2) the politicization of the entire thing have been distateful. [Dr. Steven Taylor; On Schiavo and Congress 05mr18]

One source of difficulty is the difference between coma and brain dead. This seems to be the source of the allegations about misdiagnosis and insufficient testing as well as the conspiracy or incompetence or malpractice allegations and innuendo regarding the medical profession in this case.

Comments about cruelty and torture in regard to death by starvation are more a case of projection rather than reality. What with anorexia and similar syndromes as well as the experience of anyone who has spent time with the near death in nursing homes, the idea of a painful suffering from starvation is a known myth.

There there are the problems with the idea of a living will, death with dignity, and the rights of parents versus spouse in custody.

This case has been beat to death yet even that resolution is not accepted. There are people who insist that Ms. Schiavo is as alive as anyone who can read this message. That conclusion is probably the crux of the issue. If indeed the medical personnel who have made their diagnosis were incompetent or a part of a conspiracy then they should indeed be held accountable. But, if those medical personnel and the many courts who have not found them irresponsible are correct, then the verdict should be accepted. To do otherwise indicates that it is not the tragedy of Ms. Schiavo that is at issue but rather other person’s emotional fixations and inability to deal with reality. It may be that their own fears about death or other emotional burdens overwhelm their respect for another person’s desires or the current established practice in these matters.

The fact that, in this case, many of those who want to continue the care for Ms. Schiavo are not being honest in their positions is perhaps the greatest argument against them. There is a horror in death, certainly. But the assertions about starvation that are made are short of intellectual integrity. The allegations about care and diagnosis are also important. But one is left to wonder why they have not been clarified after more than ten years of confrontation and court battle. Then there are the cases of coma resurrected after many years being used in a case of brain death to garner hope.

As Limbaugh did 18 March in essentially calling the husband a liar because Limbaugh did not care for the result otherwise. the “little voice nagging” should be nagging about rationalization of desired outcomes that are not in line with the evidence.

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What is the priority?

There is what people say and there is what people do. The priority in understanding them has to be on what they do. It is their behavior that shows their priorities. What gets done first is what is most important.

To all appearances, it is far more important to the Left to condemn the Bush Administration than it is to promote democracy in a region that has not heretofore known it. There’s plenty of interest in castigating the Bush Administration for its “immoral and ilegal” war in the Mideast, but none, apparently, for celebrating or supporting what appears to be a nascent flowering of demands for democratic governance by the people of the region. Nor does it appear to have occured to them that recent events indicate that there may be some shortcomings to the idea that democracy cannot be imposed by force. [Dale Franks; Marching against war…and democracy; Q&O 15mr05]

Sometimes an immediate priority takes on such importance that its implications for the longer term get overlooked. Then the behavior becomes dishonest to values and stated goals. This can create a problem that must be rationalized away. It becomes a slippery slope that leads one farther and farther from what they really want to happen. Or it can reveal a hidden agenda – one that is hidden because of its ugliness.

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What happens when you really don’t know the rules?

The fact that there are so many cases in the courts where the outcome is not clear inidcates a severe problem exists. How can anyone tell if they are doing the right thing when the definition of the right thing is not clear and subject to argument? This is in addition to the problem of complexity where there is so much rule and regulation that knowing them all becomes near impossible. And, on top of all this, there is the problem of judicial hubris.

Once judges start disregarding the written law in favor of their own notions, ordinary citizens have no way of knowing in advance what decisions to expect from a given situation. We can read the written law but we cannot read judges’ minds. So there is a large and growing gray area around our laws. [T. Sowell. High noon for judges: Part III. Washington Times. 12mr05]

Problems with ambiguity, complexity, and interpretation mean that the legal system becomes a game. Winning or losing is not a matter of what is right but rather an interpersonal game of salesmanship and slick. The game becomes one that people can play for its own sake for reasons other than right or wrong as well. We see this in the use of lawsuits to hinder, obstruct, or obfuscate – especially in areas populated by fringe minorities such as environmentalism.

Whether it is the tax code, the criminal code, or the civil code, the rules need to be clarified, simplified, and subject to objective evaluation. Otherwise we are bent towards a path that leads to corruption.

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What you get when you cry wolf too often

Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times is cited by Posted by Steven Hayward [Environmentalism Dead? No Left Turns 12mr05 ] talking about environmentalists

“The fundamental problem, as I see it, is that environmental groups are too often alarmists. They have an awful track record, so they’ve lost credibility with the public. . .”
” I was once an environmental groupie, and I still share the movement’s broad aims, but I’m now skeptical of the movement’s “I Have a Nightmare” speeches. . .”
“This record [of badly mistaken predictions] should teach environmentalists some humility. . . Jared Diamond argues that if we accept false alarms for fires, then why not for the health of our planet? But environmental alarms have been screeching for so long that, like car alarms, they are now just an irritating background noise. . .”
“There are many sensible environmentalists, of course, but overzealous ones have tarred the entire field. . . So it’s critical to have a credible, nuanced, highly respected environmental movement. And right now, I’m afraid we don’t have one.

An example of something similar provided by a person with a philosophy that often correlates with the environmentalist extremists.

Giuliana Sgrena has changed her story yet again,

After the shooting, she said: “A soldier opened the door on the right-hand side. When he saw us, I had the impression that he was upset. I seem to remember him saying, ‘Oh shit!’ And when more turned up in an armoured car, I had the sensation that they were unhappy about what had happened.”

[The Never Ending Story Changes … Again Captain Ed. 12mr07]

In this latest story it is obvious that the soldiers at the checkpoint were not, as the report initially asserted, out to kill her.

After having listened to the reporter from the Communist newspaper Il Manifesto spout contradictory stories and hysterical conspiracy-mongering, even the Italian government has had enough of Giuliana Sgrena. In their first direct criticism of the former hostage, the justice minister publicly scolded Sgrena for her ever-changing accusations: [Italy To Sgrena: You Can Shut Up Any Time Now; Captain Ed; 11mr07]

We can learn from our children’s fables. Whether it is the story of Chicken Little and the ‘sky is falling’ or the boy who tantalized a community about the appearance of a wolf once too often, there are things we can learn.

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After Action means constructive criticism

The after action report is a leader’s tool. In the military, it is a responsibility of leaders at all levels to describe what they learned in action so that the organization can become more effective at what it does.

Constructive criticism should be encouraged. Every Marine debriefs each other, telling good and bad observations. The squad leader will also be critiqued by his Marines in an appropriate fashion. The criticism is not meant to undermine the squad leaders’ authority. It is to allow the squad leader to instruct the Marines on why he chose to run the squad the way he did. Young Marines will gain knowledge about squad tactics that they may never have figured out if the squad leader did not tell them. It will prepare them for leadership billets. It will also give them confidence in their squad leader because they will trust him and his knowledge. [Blackfive 8mr07]

There are, of course, problems to overcome. The focus of an after action report must be on behaviors and events and things that can be changed and improved – not on individuals and their personalities, attitudes, or attributes. Criticism must be objective and contructive rather than just judgmental and destructive. An after action report is not the place for 20/20 hindsight like we see in so much of the MSM reporting and political harangues.

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Paying the price of terror

Allen E Brain noted an Iraq the Model post that contrasted with a BBC report on the ransom paid for Ms. Sgrena. The conclusion is that the Italians provided money for another 30,000 attack payments on Iraqi citizens, police, and national guard.

Iraqi TV has been doing a reality type TV show featuring confessions of the terrorists they have caught. It seems they are paid a bit under $200 US for each attack. The ransom paid appears to have been near $8M.

Story on Command Post

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Reich provides an example where he should know to be more honest

One of the big problems in current political debate is that of the intellectual integrity behind the arguments presented. The opposition to Social Security reform contrasts to the claims about “crisis” or “WMD” in a pattern that should make one wonder.

The reason that Reich’s article grates, is that as a former Secretary of Labor, Reich knows the history and economic forces which caused the Depression of the 1930s, and he knows full well, that those conditions have been addressed and the Federal oversight of stocks structured in such a way, that although a bear market or even a depression cannot be mathematically prevented, the example he cites has been reasonably excluded from possibility. For Reich to conjure up the 1929 Stock Market as a factor in the current Social Security debate, is about as rational as for the FAA to consider the Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster in a review of commercial airline safety. It’s simply dishonest from the start. [DJ Drummond. Left : Lies, Lunacy, & Liberal Loutness; Polipundit; 11mr05]

Detecting the problem means listening and learning

I launched into a particularly good rant/sermon from the pulpit of the Church of the Painful Truth earlier this week .. a sermon about the most dangerous epidemic sweeping this country, the epidemic of stupidity. Actually, it’s more of an epidemic of ignorance. Stupidity means you can’t learn. Ignorance means you haven’t.

Why can’t people see through the Democrats on this one? How in the world do you garner so much public support for the idea that in a free country it is better for you to turn over your hard-earned bucks to the government on a vague and breakable promise that some of that money will be returned to you at some time in the future .. as agreed to by politicians? How in the world can people accept this premise over the idea that your money should remain in an account owned and, to an extent, controlled by you where there is a guarantee that either you or your heirs will eventually get it all back .. with interest? Why can’t people see through this? Because they’re ignorant, that’s why. Economically brain-dead.
[Neil Boortz. Just what is the problem with private accounts? 11mr05]

The knee jerk opposition to personal accounts (which are an effort to transition pension ownership from the government to the individual) provides another case in point. The argument created to oppose these accounts is based on FUD mongering (spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt) as Secretary Reich was doing. The real question is about where the money being removed from payrolls is currently being invested. Then a proper comparison can be made between options.

No responsible person advocates stuffing money for savings in a mattress. Since the 1929 brouhaha, FDIC has provided insurance to provide security of deposits against bank collapse. Money can also be lent to the government in terms of bonds and these are backed by the solvency of that government. Money can also be invested in partial ownership of private companies in the form of stocks and will have a value based on the success of those companies.

Another place money can be stashed is in a legislative promise of Congress. This is only secure insofar as Congress decides it is. And this is where current social security taxes are being placed.

Banks are a safe place to put your money nowadays but the yield is rather low. Government bonds are also very safe and also provide low yields. Stocks are a bit more risky and have historically provided long term good yield. With stocks, there is enough flexibility to estimate a risk and yield balance that best serves various investment goals.

Legislative promises do not have the history of reliability that banks, bonds, or stocks have been shown to have. For instance, social security benefits have already been subject to trimming by legislative action. There is every reason to believe that even more trimming will occur as the population demographics and other factors stress the legislative promise. And this is the reason why Social Security has a long history of being the ‘third rail of politics’ that responsible politicians try to put on the table for discussion.

When it comes to money woes, a good general guideline is that putting off the inevitable only makes the outcome worse. It is better to bite the bullet early. This is what is being advocated for Social Security. What can we do now to reduce the legislative promise before the legislature has to break that promise (again)? The President has said he is open to any and all serious suggestions. The Democrats have demanded that shifting ownership to the individual be removed from consideration.

The public has to determine whether limiting options, especially with the kind of rationale Reich is using, is a road to follow.

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Flame wars present problems to schools and parents

It used to be that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

School officials walk a tightrope to protect victims without trampling the free-speech rights of bullies — many of whom operate anonymously.

Experts in face-to-face bullying, meanwhile, are devising new strategies to cope with the Internet’s impact. They advocate workshops for education and community leaders to detect and respond to the problem, tutorials on how technology influences behavior, and a grounding in legal issues.

Ultimately, they say, kids need to be sensitized to the sting of being bullied. “There are ongoing ways for kids to hurt each other,” says folk singer Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, and founder of Operation Respect, a non-profit that teaches tolerance in schools. “If it isn’t the Internet, it’s reality TV or something else.”

The best advice for cyberbully victims is to get parents and school officials involved as soon as possible and not suffer in silence, NOVA’s Worthington says. Fighting back only engages bullies, who want a reaction. “Handling bullying online is different than staring down someone in the schoolyard and asking them to stop,” she says.

The encouraging news is that more students, parents and administrators are learning about — and coping with — the newest form of bullying.

“Maybe we’re less tolerant of people being pushed around,” O’Brien says. “We used to tell kids to get over it, that boys will be boys. But there can be long-lasting scars that sometimes result in violence if we ignore this.”
[Jon Swartz; Schoolyard bullies get nastier online; USA Today; 7mr05]

At times it seems that we are in the age of aggrieved offense. People take offense at a cop eating a banana, the Ten Commandments anywhere within sight of public property, the pledge of alliegance, and Lord knows what else.

But there is always a matter of responsibility to go with the right of free speech. It appears that electronic communications provide a distancing or an anonymity that seems to free people to loose sight of civility and brings out the worst.

Children need to be taught the old wisdom to learn tolerance and to learn that their feelings are their own. But then, we cannot ignore the damage done by indiscriminate yelling ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater or other asocial behavior.

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Mad Cow Breeds Conspiracy Imagination

People are always looking for ways to explain things. Sometimes they even find things that sound omninous that need really serious explaining.

What we don’t know is why no one–including the Canadian government–seems to be looking into how BSE cows keep cropping up on Canadian soil, coincidental to timelines that happen to be crucial. [Judi McLeod; Canada’s Mad Cow Mystery;; 7mr05 ]

Is it correlation or is it causation? Is it true that no one is looking into the matter? Where’s my tin foil hat?

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The Bush insight into 9/11

As things settled down after the 9/11/01 tragedy, the regression to the old trendline of the short stimulus/response ethos began to reasert itself. This was the idea that the terrorist acts were simple matters of expedient response to some easily understood stimulus. The Prof (but not Ph.D.) Churchill’s “little Eichmans” is an example of this mode of thinking.

The scope of the problem has caused some countries to investigate with a bit more integrity and thoroughness. What they are finding is leading to learning that the Islam problem is not as simple as might be desired.

Many Germans blame the United States for all of this, feeling that it Iraq had not been invaded, the Moslem community would not have become so pro-terrorist. However, as the police dig more deeply into Islamic radical activities in Germany, they find much of it predates 2003, and September 11, 2001 as well. [Strategy Page INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS: Germans Build Cases. 7mr05]

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Pinnochio’s nose

“Mr. Byrd not only was inaccurate; the senior senator’s own voting record runs contrary to his partisan parsing that appeared in The Post. ”
[Byrd on filibuster-busting. Washington Times. 7Mr05]

An occasional misstatement is one thing. A real whopper or a pattern should create skepticism about the positions being expressed.

“It’s yet another sign of the lengths to which some Senate Democrats will go to obstruct the president’s judicial nominations. ” [ibid]

There are comparisons and contrasts to be made. The same folks who line up with Senator Byrd are those who maintain that WMD was the premier cause and rationale for war in Iraq and that this cause was a fraud. Then there is the same group who have now done a 180 on social security reform.

What to do is the question. Exposure is always a good start but the cause of war fraud claim is a cautionary tale here. Elections may set a sentence if the populace does get the story straight (remember the Swift Vets). But, if that also succumbs, then it is the state of the country that will demonstrate the results – as we are seeing in Europe and Canada right now.

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Who makes the rules and how?

Thomas Sowell (Believing the true believers 1mr05) asks

Back in the days of the divine rights of kings, it might be understandable why a given monarch might think that what he wanted was all that mattered. But, in an age of democracy, how can millions of people live together if each one asserts a divine right to impose his or her will on others?

This came about from noting a student who demanded that military recruiters not be allowed on a campus. It is a phenomena related to the censorship cries, gay marriage issues, sentencing, and judicial legislation.

Sowell’s conclusion:

The time is long overdue for our media and our educational institutions to start presenting both sides of issues — and for our schools and colleges to start teaching students how to think, instead of telling them what to think.

It seems that there are some people who make being offended a cause to celebrate and a reason to silence those who offend them. Perhaps a bit of tolerance might be a good thing. Let’s reserve the demands to not being offended to things like sedition, treason, abrogation of basic responsibilities, deceit, dishonesty, and so on rather than a distaste for others or their reasoned opinions.

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