Archive for September, 2005

Destruction of debate

The latest example of how to destroy debate was stimulated by former Education Secretary Bill Bennett on his radio show Wednesday. Neal Boortz has a nice summary of the fracas.

those complaining the loudest actually agree with Bennett. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Teddy Kennedy, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and others from showing their ignorance and complaining about his remarks.

What did Bill say? He took a hypothetical on abortion and crime in the observation to the point that if there were no black youth, crime would go down.

The outrage is constructed on the dishonesty of moving a hypothetical (reduce to the absurd debate tactic) to being a literal expression. Never mind the reality or accuracy of what was said, it was politically incorrect and therefore horrendous.

This is a dumbing down of debate. When those techniques used to clarify and educate are taken out of context and re-wrapped to suit a paradigm the debate no longer can serve as a learning tool. The individual words become the target rather than the message being conveyed. Productive outcome of debate is destroyed by a lack of intellectual integrity.

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Block

What do you do when confronted by “activists” whose assumptions have become beliefs.

“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal

“War makes the rights of women completely erased, and poverty comes after war — and women pay the price,” said Fatma Nevin Vargun

“War is not necessary for peace,” shot back Feray Salman

Tuksal said she was “feeling myself wounded, feeling myself insulted here” by Hughes’s response. “In every photograph that comes from Iraq, there is that look of fear in the eyes of women and children. . . . This needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”

[Turks Challenge Hughes On Iraq: Female Activists Decry U.S. Policy by Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer (05sp29)]

The fact that someone would feel wounded or insulted by someone else’s presence describes the filtering that blinds. The fact that this statement is then followed by a photographic description that misses just about every child and women picture from current Iraq is also telling. What is seen is only what is desired and the self deception involved that is illustrated here is staggering.

It seems that these folks prefer government sponsored rape rooms, family who dissapear in the night, and the other atrocities of what was overturned. The are fixated on the idea that war “is not necessary” despite the lessons of history.

There is no dialog. There is no reason. There is no room for learning, for seeing through another’s eyes, for those parts of the real world that do not fit within the desired paradigm.

What can you do to bring such folks back to reality?

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ad hominem

If anything disqualifies much of the discontent that is so prominently displayed by the MSM, it is the ad hominem nature of their unity. Byron York notes this Inside the Antiwar Demo.

Indeed, if anything, the weekend showed that the antiwar movement remains constitutionally unable to focus its protests sharply — and exclusively — on the war, and not personally on the president or on all the sideshow causes. There seems little question that the aggressive anti-Bushism, along with the side causes — which were often not on the side at all, but center-stage — diminish the credibility of the antiwar movement and alienate moderate Americans who might have serious misgivings about the war but would never align themselves with the likes of International ANSWER. Yet the protests continue.

David Limbaugh notes this same phenomena

Gen. Honore’s metaphor perfectly fits the behavior of Democratic politicians in Washington and caterwauling liberal loons since 2000 — that’s right, the entire millennium, so far. In their singular obsession with George W. Bush — “hatred” is probably more accurate — they have been “stuck on stupid.”

And, don’t forget Krauthammer’s Bush Derangement Syndrome. This has gone to the Demoncrat’s Bull Conner extremity. Next up: judicial fillibustering, again?

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Culpability

The cover has been coming off the hysteria that was an immediate aftermath of Katrina. Powerline calls for an investigation.

The media’s enthusiastic mis-reporting of falsehood as fact seriously damaged the rescue effort:

Compass conceded that rumor had overtaken, and often crippled, authorities’ response to reported lawlessness, sending badly needed resources to situations that turned out not to exist. [LA Times]

It’s time for some accountability here. The conventional wisdom is that no one performed particularly well in the aftermath of Katrina–not local, state or federal authorities, and not considerable numbers of private citizens. But it now appears clear that the worse performance of all was turned in by the mainstream media.

GIGO is the term that computer people use: Garbage In means Garbage Out. In this case, it appears that the garbage being fed into the maw of rumor and news had many reasons for its existance than error. The question that is now on the table is whether the initial conclusions, allegations, and accusations that were based on this false and incorrect and misleading information will be exposed for what they are and whether the public will learn the lesson that it should not jump to conclusions based on what used to be a reliable source of information.

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Reid: matters of deference

Laer describes words that Reid Will Regret using the Washington Post as a source.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) made a remarkable statement: “The president is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary.”

if the presidential election means anything in this arena, it must mean that the president’s choice has a heavy presumption of confirmation. That is the way the system works.

The system is the US Constitution. It clearly provides the President with significant “deference” in the nominations of judges requiring only “advice and consent” of the Senate.

Reid has taken the politics of nominee confirmation to a whole new low. The Demoncrats in general have lately superceded anything the Republicans did in the 90′s with techniques such as the fillibuster. Claiming supremacy in the nomination process while loosing the vote and simultaneously complaining the the President isn’t meeting his promise of being a uniter and not a divider sets on the table an amazing set of behaviors. It should make one wonder just how far it will go before it becomes as ridiculed as innapropriate as it really is.

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The distorting lense

LTC Tim Ryan describes how the Media Coverage Distorts Iraq Reality from his personal experience.

The key to the enemy’s success is use of his limited assets to gain the greatest influence over the masses. The media serves as the glass through which a relatively small event can be magnified to international proportions, and the enemy is exploiting this with incredible ease.

Ironically, the press freedom that we have brought to this part of the world is providing support for the enemy we fight. I obviously think it’s a disgrace when many on whom the world relies for news paint such an incomplete picture of what actually has happened. Much too much is ignored or omitted. I am confident that history will prove our cause right in this war, but by the time that happens, the world might be so steeped in the gloom of ignorance we won’t recognize victory when we achieve it.

The distortions of the whole picture in Iraq is a stew that has been simmering for some time. Similar distortions in the reporting of the Katrina event have further illustrated just how false and misleading major media reports can be. These distortions, or even outright falsehoods such as Dan Rather’s memos, are being exposed and discussed. This may be why newspapers such as the New York Times are suffering significant staff reductions and other budgetary conservation measures. People may indeed be turning to sources of information that provide a more accurate picture of the whole truth and not just a soda straw view of a selected truth.

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Standards of reference

One disingenuous means of argument is that of the false binary, the ‘black or white’ and no other consideration. Paul Shlichta describes an example of this using the case ofAdmiral Byng and President Bush.

in ordinary human activities, such as politics and law, a certain amount of human error and inconsistency must be tolerated. Therefore, it is most unseemly that, in preparation for the present nominations and approvals of Supreme Court justices, the liberals among us should be frantically combing the files of the nominees for any hint of inconsistancy, political incorrectness, or misplaced commas. By the standards that the liberals want to use for John Roberts, we would have to retroactively impeach all the Supreme Court justices in the last two centuries. Let’s play fair, as we definitely did not do with Bork, and refrain from viciously nit-picking at a candidate’s record as a pretext for rejecting all candidates that don’t embrace our particular social philosophy.

Another example is given at Protein Wisdom.

allow me to wax analagous here and point out that in Shearer’s response, we find clear indications of the same flawed arguments, couched as protestations, we hear from progressives with regard to the Iraq war: in this case, Shearer’s implicit argument that because not everyone who remained behind in NOLA could have been safely evacuated, attempts to evacuate some or most of those left behind could (should?) not have taken place clearly echoes the anti-war argument that because the US can’t simultaneously overthrow every tyrannical dictator in the world, it is somehow indelicate to rid the world of one (even if doing so jibes with our national interests)—and, in the process, frees 25 million people from a murderous Ba’athist rule.

Which, its sad seeing the perfect made the enemy of the good—in New Orleans, and on the global stage. After all, isn’t this an example of the very kind of unnuanced binary thinking the Bushies are routinely accused of engaging in?

An example of where this leads is from Strategy Page.

The Information Warriors also point out that misleading details, of how U.S. troops pulled some operations off, could be released, in order to confuse the enemy. This suggestion gets Pentagon lawyers and political advisors a tad hysterical. We can’t have the Pentagon feeding the enemy deceptive information via the mass media. This, despite the fact that the enemy does it all the time, and that the practice has been in use for thousands of years. It works. The downside exists in some mythical world that no one has ever lived in. But the political problems are real, so you have to deal with it and step very carefully when it comes to military deceptions involving the mass media.

The issue here is the argument that any dishonesty is total dishonesty. The US military, being faced with serious disingenuous assaults on its credibility due to other minor errors or misdeeds of individuals, is very cautious about what it does intentionally. This impairs its ability to conduct its mission.

These false standards are created to impugn and castigate. Success in Iraq means it will be just like the US is now except that there will be no crime whatsoever. And it will happen right now and not over time. Those in charge of governmental departments must be raised from birth for their positions and have no hint of any political connection – performance be dammed (e.g. Brown at FEMA). The government response to a disaster must be so immediate that no disaster will happen and no person will be seen to suffer in any way.

What is troubling is that this absurdity of reference is easily visible yet that doesn’t seem to cause anyone to pause and think about reality. At least it hasn’t. It appears that there are some who note the absurdity and, maybe, are now getting the word to others to reconsider the standards they are using in evaluating what is happening in the world.

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Restore Scientific Integrity?

Cosmic Variance describes the Union of Concerned Scientists pushing a bill by Senator Durbin that assumes guilt and corruption on the part of government and assumes that any influence is improper.

There has been a lot of whining and complaining in certain circles that the Bush administration has politicized science and corrupted scientific values in government. This bill may be a response that supports that view.

The problem with such bills is that they assume malfeasance in certain areas and add significant overhead that does not either address the underlying problem nor provide any means to generate desirable outcomes.

The fact is that this bill is an attempt to cover policy disagreements as science disagreements. And that obfuscation is where the community of scientists should have the real concern.

There is significant transparency in government science affairs. That is why there is so much whining. There is debate as many of the issues involve budgetary or other legislative lawmaking decision. Just because you don’t like the result of the debate and its succeeding vote does not mean that the result is wrong.

A proper scientific approach would be to educate – not legislate. That education, it should be noted, goes both ways. A scientist learns from debate as well as teaches in it. This effort shows a scientific community stuck in ideological stasis with an inability to use its established values in a productive manner.

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Deconstructing 200 years of loyalty to country first

John at Powerline notes a disturbing pattern of behavior that is new in national politics.

In recent years, the Democrats have violated many of the tacit conventions of civility that have enabled our political system to work for more than two centuries. Yesterday another barrier fell, and once again, we entered uncharted waters: former President Bill Clinton launched a vicious attack on President Bush on ABC’s “This Week” program.

This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. …

Again and again, President Bush has tried to work with the Democrats as if they were loyal Americans first, and partisans second. He has treated Bill Clinton with a friendship and respect that, candidly, is disproportionate to Clinton’s meager accomplishments. Again and again, the Democrats have rebuffed Bush’s overtures and taken advantage of his patriotism and good faith. Clinton’s politically-motivated tissue of lies and distortions is just the latest example out of many. But it is unprecedented, coming from a former President. That is a sad thing: the latest wound inflicted on the body politic by the Democratic Party.

Fillibustering judicial nominees, slander on the floor of the Senate, these are some of the other tacit conventions that have fallen by the wayside. There is need to question the patriotism of people who participate in a vote and then do not accept the outcome. Whether it is a vote of the people or a vote of the legislature, once the decision is made it is a duty of loyalty to support that decision. The Demoncrats have made it very clear that this duty is no longer considered by them of any significant import.

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Media Storm: a self created fantasy

Victor Davis Hanson describes how the Media cooked up a storm over Katrina (also in Washington Times)

the media’s coverage turned out to be almost as disturbing as the natural calamity and initial bureaucratic ineptness — in both the falsehood it spread and the truth it ignored. Political commentators proved more disturbing, seeking to turn death to partisan advantage.

The public was given few facts about what really happened among those trapped, especially the human mayhem that took place. Most would appreciate evidence before sweeping cultural analysis of half-reported stories that were not followed up because they were either untrue or politically incorrect.

Too many of the hysterical pronouncements of ill-informed officials were reported as gospel truth — and then forgotten — in 24-hour bursts. So “25,000 body bags!” and “10,000 dead” beneath the muck of a submerged city were quietly superseded by the matter-of-fact news reports that the airport would open shortly.

Now we are also told that Mardi Gras may be back on schedule. How could such radical improvement happen at ground zero in a city of corpses that supposedly would not recover for decades?

The soda straw analogy: only a very small part of the story was made visible. Think Superdome. Why that and not where the storm hit hardest?

Sometimes the best lie is that of providing only a part of the truth. That can be rationalized later when the whole truth becomes visible, sorta’. But the hysterical ravings about death and destruction are another matter. Floods of major cities have ‘been there, done that’ mayors but Grand Rapids only got a little airtime. The fact that as much as a fifth of the casualties occured due to failures of caregivers in hospitals and residential homes is another item that is quite anomolous but hasn’t received much attention.

Another example is the story Why key military units weren’t mobilized early by Drew Brown, Seth Borenstein and Alison Young that doesn’t even answer the question posed in its title. This story tries to suggest that it is only the Armed Forces that have the wherewithal to respond to emergencies. It presumes a truth that is questionable at best. It is trying to support a meme via selective reporting.

Or, consider the CNN story Clinton: FEMA chief should be experienced which attempts to discredit the FEMA director by ignoring the experience in the Florida hurricanes last year in favor of selected resume items. Again, trying to support a meme via selective reporting.

It is clear for anyone who pays attention that the original reporting painted a picture that was woefully out of line with reality. From this it is logical to conclude that the analysis of “failures” and such things that depend upon the original reporting must also be flawed. Is this simple basic observation and logical inference really so difficult that many in the MSM still don’t get the message? Or are there other forces at work that cause a blindness or an unwillingness to accept reality?

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Being a bad guy in Iraq

Strategy Page has an entry on why it is getting to be tough to be a bad guy in Iraq. You may have heard about the mid September mahem. There is a suggestion that this might be something other than a lead to terrorizing October’s election.

Apparently it was a case of “use it or lose it,” with al Qaeda fearing that the continuing operations along the Syrian border and in western Iraq, would lead to more bomb workshops, and completed car bombs, being captured.

The violence does not appear to have generated its desired outcomes.

Even though the intended targets are Shia Arabs, and government employees, many Sunni Arabs are getting hurt, and al Qaeda has become the most hated organization in the country. Even Sunni Arabs are now reporting terrorist operations to the police. … There is growing fear in many Sunni Arab neighborhoods, as they see the Iraqi police grow more competent, and numerous. … While the illusion of Sunni Arab superiority, and right-to-rule, dies hard, the fear of revenge attacks against the Sunni Arabs grows daily. Many Sunni Arabs have blood on their hands, Shia, Kurdish, and now American blood. Worse, many of these Sunni Arabs are known by name to their victims families. …

the government is using a similar tactic that is weakening the terrorist organizations. Thousands of local civilians are being hired for reconstruction jobs … Workers are paid daily, and given one more reason to stay away from the terrorist organizations …

The Americans have those damn little planes in the sky, the ones with cameras, making it difficult for attackers to hide or get away. It’s much easier to attack Iraqi police or soldiers. But these guys are now wearing body armor, and will counter-attack as well. Worse, the Iraqi police will start questioning people in the area, put up roadblocks, and hunt you down. It’s getting so hard to be a bad guy in Iraq.

There are, of course, those who dispute these observations. O’Reilly on Fox comes to mind when he claims that Iraq is a chaotic mess and a failure. But those on the ground, those with first hand experience seem to corroborate these views that “It’s getting so hard to be a bad guy in Iraq.”

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The real wealth of a nation

The real wealth of nation lies with its people, who are forged in part by the expectations we hold of them. The Left has expected so little of those they’ve named as victims: they will not be disappointed.

Wretchard makes this observation after looking at stories about how Palestinians destroyed Greenhouses built with over $14m in donations that could have provided 3,500 jobs and significant income.

Any pictures from the mideast nearly always show healthy and well clothed Jews in civilized settings and Palestinians looking ragged and unkempt in digs that do not appear fit for living.

Teachers know that their expectations will often be the factor in a student’s success. Cities and other governments might find similar expectations of those in their care may reap benefits as well.

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Economic forces. Loathing. Targeting

Dr. Whelan clearly expressed, the nobility of medicine does not immunize it from the effects of economic forces, and indeed medicinal innovations occur far more rapidly when medicine is under the influence of economic forces. [LGK]

Attending a book party and trying to engage in polite conversation became an example for the president of the American Council on Science and Health.

Out of the blue, Joe made a passionate statement: “I despise pharmaceutical companies.” … “That is fascinating,” I responded. “I actually greatly admire pharmaceutical companies.”[Pharma and Loathing in New York City by Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H. ]

You see, these corporate giants are greedy and don’t care about people. They kill people by not providing the product of their research for free. They have the gall to make a profit they can re-invest into research to find even more miracle drugs that they then won’t give away causing people to suffer and die. Those awful, greedy, uncaring pharmaceutical companies!

A similar ethic was recently seen in the accusations of gouging in regard to gasoline prices or necessary supplies in the regions devastated by the hurricane. How dare those uncaring greedy inhuman corporations and businessmen use pricing to help determine who gets their product or service? They should provide those products and services for free to anyone who asks and should never run out or have any shortage.

This may be the same ethic behind the looting in New Orleans or the Palestinian looting of greenhouses that destroyed significant effort and investment in the future health and vitality of those people.

Judge Roberts was grilled on the idea of privacy rights in the U.S. Constitution. One of the rights is to the idea that ‘what I own you don’t and you can’t take it away from me.’ In the economic realm this is the idea of patents and copyright. A key ingredient in the wealth of the United States is that property, whether real or intellectual, is not taken from people. Instead, their ownership is protected and they are encouraged to develop what they have to build better for themselves and better for society.

Karl Marx wrote about the appeal of the nobility and purity of communism and socialism – to each according to his need and from each according to what he can provide. The 20th century is a monument to the failures of these ideals. Instead, we are seeing again and again that it is the greedy. corporate, inhuman capitalism that generates the wealth and the knowhow that has the promise to provide to each according to his need. It is the wealth that allows for the health care of the most needy, the ability to protect the environment, and the ability to provide comfort and safety for everyone.

New Orleans after the hurricane also provides a good case study of what happens when there is excessive dependance upon others. When the needy become greedy; when they expect to be recipients of largess. This is where crime ran rampant; where the trash pile up everywhere; where waste was not managed; where people were shoved aside in the mob.

It was where people were encouraged to take initiative that civil order was restored. But those didn’t attract the MSM so you don’t see much of it. Just as you don’t see much of what Dr. Whelan described as to the benefit of those despised pharmaceutical companies. The loathing and hatred was ignorant. That is not a good basis for rationale social decision making.

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My People – Our People

Michelle Malkin asks Who are my people? in noting a collection of celebrities talking about “my people.”

It’s not just minority celebrities and leaders using it. Here’s a column from a black columnist who received a nasty message from a reader referring to “your people.”

And just in from the AP: Communities Help Their Own After Katrina

I don’t know about you, but when we donate to Katrina victims and say prayers for them in our home, every one of them is “our people.”

The idea that MSM reporting has been like looking through a straw is getting some attention. The focus on the Superdome, a refuge of last resort that happened to be populated almost entirely by “my people” was a source of many stories and images. The plight of the citizens of Mississippi or event the parishes surrounding New Orleans was nearly ignored. Apparently they weren’t “my people.”

The meme that President Bush was out to kill, maim and murder “my people” has surfaced with other vile racism. As seems typical of such racism in the modern era, this is almost entirely from the racial group that is claiming victimhood – “my people.”

The contrast Michelle makes is with those who talk about “our people.” This is a contrast with narcissism of “my.” “My” is exclusive and “our” is inclusive.

The United States is based on an “our people” mentality and morality. It is being attacked from the inside by a “my people” ethos. Those who want to set themselves apart by such things as the color of their skin, for whatever reason, must be made visible for the destructive force they really are. How to respectfully treat such people is a major delimma in the respect for divergence in opinion and view that must be trimmed to the need to work and live together as “our people.”

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Deception by omission

Strategy page defines one of the more insidious forms of propaganda.

The term “deception by omission” might sound harsh, but it is accurate. Deception does not need the active misrepresentation of facts, it can occur when someone fails to reveal something relevant to the situation – particularly when the people leaving out some of the facts are advocating a specific course of action (such as withdrawal from Iraq ).

From in the Jewish World Review there are two stories about a media report in the Palestinian terror war against Israel and where pictures did not tell the story. Caroline B. Glick on The image of the truth:

The intifada and Katrina — seeing is not necessarily believing when propagandists pose as objective chroniclers

and David Gelernter on When pictures lie:

Yet the truth of what happened on Sept. 30, 2000, is critical to the way the world works, the way people behave. The pictures we were shown and the story we were told is true or false, not both. Enderlin, France 2 and the larger media establishment have an obligation to tell us which it is. Because lies can kill. Lies do kill.

We now have the Katrina Disaster to serve as a laboratory to use in investigating this deception by omission. One current story has to do with the effort to find links between huge construction companies doing restoration work and the Bush administration, but omitting any note of more significant links between those companies and the state government. Or there is the omission of any referent in judging FEMA or the Bush administration response to the disaster. Or there is the omission of the state and local disaster plans in considering what happened. Or there is omission of the pictures of heroism or doing what must be done for those of the whiners, the complainers, and the accusers.

A basic concept in observation is that you will never know anything and have to qualify measures by an appropriate estimate of their precision and their accuracy. This also implies that in order to be able to use your observation you need to work at making sure it is as good as possible. It is becoming very clear that using one source for news it not a good way to get an accurate picture of current events. Accepting what is presented at face value is not a good practice, either.

What is troubling is that there are so many cases of blatant deceptions by omission and that they tend to have a clear bias in direction of message.

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Chicken Little on the Katrina Disaster

Jack Kelly notes The federal response to Katrina was not as portrayed [post gazette opinion 05sp11].

It is settled wisdom among journalists that the federal response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was unconscionably slow.

But the conventional wisdom is the opposite of the truth.

Jason van Steenwyk is a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief. He notes that:

“The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne.”

There are gleeful reports that views of the President’s competence are way down, that Britons think even less of the federal competency in the disaster, and that the FEMA head has been removed from direct Katrina disaster control.

The mayor’s anticipated death toll in the tens of thousands and the acquisition of 25,000 body bags is beginning to appear exagerated in the extreme as the death toll a week after things have started to settle down is still well under 500 with no evidence of thousands more to come.

The Sunday talking heads continue their repeated assertions of federal government “failures” without being able to specify any such failures other than out of context anomolies. Any attempt to describe actual events and decisions are repelled as the same as finger pointing or worse. Those who are doing finger pointing are bringing in President Reagan and castigating resumes when there is more recent direct experience to use in assessing qualifications.

People want red tape ripped away and then worry about the massive flow of funds into disaster relief. Some think that some of the FEMA director’s problems may have stemmed from lessons learned in past events about being a bit too loose

Meanwhile, the citizens of the South are getting back to business. The sky isn’t falling. Those that can are doing rescue and restoration. Those who take the Chicken Little approach are becoming more hysterical as it is revealed that the sky isn’t falling and that it remains where it has been.

Chicken Little is accusing “cover-up” and belittles ideas for investigation that do not meet his continually evolving standards. It is time to remember how Able Danger and other revelations are making a farce of the 9-11 commission. Perhaps it is time to turn the focus of attention on the damage being done by Chicken Little.

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Obfuscation: Is finger pointing the same as observation?

The clueless mayor of New Orleans, who initially hesitated over federal requests to evacuate the entire city, was reduced to expletive-filled rants as hundreds of empty public buses sat idle. The teary governor of Louisiana whined mostly about the federal government. Meanwhile Sen. Mary Landrieu railed at the president: “I might likely have to punch him — literally.” [Hansen, Washington Times 05sp10]

From Senator Kennedy who responded that the blame game was not a game to Colmes who couldn’t or wouldn’t make a difference between baseless accusation and allegation, a.k.a. finger pointing, and direct observation of events, there is a dishonest obfuscation being used to ameliorate and excuse culpability.

One of the first clues that something was off base was when the local and state leaders started blaming all of their problems on a favorite target while they were still in the start of the crisis. Cussing and swearing at the hand you want to feed you is not usually considered a good tactic for success. It is also a diversion from the immediate and most pressing need for your attention.

A second clue was in the choice of targets. This was the straw man creation: The President, of course, and his minions. The assault on the FEMA director became especially vicious.

A third clue was the hysteria, lack of referent, and generalizations. Massive failures! Tens of thousands of dead! Fire the FEMA director!

Fourth was in the raising of the canards. Race baiters came out of the woodwork. Funding policies developed over decades became a first response failure.

Finger pointing and the blame game are knee jerk efforts to relieve one’s immediate pain or to avoid culpability and responsibility. The goal is to find another victim – someone who can be sacrificed to make your pain ease.

Observing that the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were not permitted to assist those in the Superdome early in the disaster, that the state and local emergency response plans were not followed, that the federal authorities were held up by delays in state permissions – these are events that happened. They are not finger pointing because they describe events and are not casting judgments such as assigning fault and labeling error.

Pelosi considered the President oblivious because he didn’t accept her idea that the federal government had made many obvious errors and mistakes. The problem is that Pelosi could not detail these errors and mistakes, either. Yes you can find things that did not go as intended but it becoming quite clear that these were anomolies. A Pelosi point of view is insulting to the federal government in that it fails to recognize a near record rapid response despite horrendous barriers. It fails to recognize the courage, committment, and success of the federal effort accomplished by beauracrats, soldiers, national guard, and the many others working together to relieve the suffering of the victims of Katrina.

What Pelosi, Reid, Kennedy and the other finger pointers are doing is perhaps even more destructive to the United States than the hurricane was.

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Issues at stake

The Katrina Catastrophe brings to the surface several governance issues that define the heart and soul of a United States of America.

Federalism and the autonomy of States were major barriers in forming enough of a federal government in the founding days to almost cause the revolution for independance to founder. The same issue was the primary factor in the civil war that Southerners still call ‘the war between the states.’ B. Hume (Fox News) hit this one when he suggested that the President’s biggest fault in the Katrina disaster might have been that he was too deferential to the State Governors.

Individual responsibilities were the topic of a [Washington Times] editorial:

In assessing the events on our Gulf Coast over the past fortnight it is necessary to note that thousands of Americans in News Orleans showed almost no sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility. Some, of course, were sick, infirm or otherwise helpless. But many were not. This malfeasance of citizenship is as damaging as the failures of government officials, and rectification is just as crucial.

How did so many Americans come to such a degraded condition? And what is to be done about it? This is not a matter of race, or class, or innate intelligence. It is largely the product of a mental state of dependency induced by deliberate government policy.

The autonomy of the states and its accompanying responsibilities and the civic responsibilities of individual citizens are being tested by gross examples of malfeasance. The people of the country are being faced with how much they should sacrifice to ameliorate the outcomes of this malfeasance. It is bad enough to pay in terms of blood and money but there is another price. It is in the encroachment of this mental state of dependency and the loss of individual freedoms because the larger society does not want to deal with the result of those who do not properly and responsibly exercise those freedoms.

The issue is not simple. We are now faced with the result of malfeasance mixed into anonimity with the catastrophe of natural disaster as a set of immediate needs. The result of the loss of individual freedoms and state autonomy is much less visible and its costs in pain and suffering amortized over many years. We do have the demise of the Soviet Union to see the counter example to the problems highlighted by Katrina. Will it be seen and be used to learn?

The shrill rhetoric accusing and maligning selected officials before the dust even settled says no. This is why the vague and general lambasting from many on the left including Reid and Pelosi is so dangerous. Calmer heads must prevail or we will all pay the price. It is a responsibility of each of us to find and fix and to shame those who are irresponsible – whether in deed leading to direct tragedy or in careless and thoughtless destructive word.

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Its possible both sides don’t have the same merit

Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne argue that One side can be wrong and that “Accepting ‘intelligent design’ in science classrooms would have disastrous consequences” [The Guardian 05sp01]. The discussion reveals a basic tactic often used in debate when more reputable tactics become untenable.

“When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong.”

The gap means that we lack a complete cinematic record of every step in the evolutionary process. But how incredibly presumptuous to demand a complete record, given that only a minuscule proportion of deaths result in a fossil anyway.

The seductive “let’s teach the controversy” language still conveys the false, and highly pernicious, idea that there really are two sides.

This same presumptuousness can be seen in the New Orleans finger pointing controversy.

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Aunti M and The Narcissistic Underground

Dr. Sanity asks that you “consider this example of Bush Derangement Syndrome” mentioned by K-Lo. The example is used to illustrate reason for concern.

Under normal circumstances, I might feel somewhat sorry for people who think like this, particularly since they are on the path to self-destruction. If they had one iota of self-reflection or insight about their malignancy and the damage they carelessly inflict on all those around them, then maybe I might spare a little sympathy.

The problem is that they want to destroy my country and all that it stands for. They could care less about New Orleans and the terrible situation there. They could care less about any of the destruction they are leaving in their hysterical wake.

We will eventually manage the destruction wrought by Katrina; the people whose lives have been so disruped and broken will slowly get their lives back and things will return to some semblance of normality. But how can we deal with a hatred that seems to know no bounds and threatens to destroy the very fabic of our nation?

At least I can expose the malignant narcissism that permeates their “compassionate” and “loving” behavior.

I, me, mine – the compassion is all about one’s own feelings and the fact that having them stronger and better than someone else’s makes one superior. A foil is found to castigate. But the mirror is never in sight. These are the “it takes a village” folks who are so involved in self they see no other except as a means to salve their own egos. A cure will only come, if it can indeed be cured, by exposure and shame.

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