Archive for May, 2009

Tax irritation

Governor Gibbons’ statement with his veto of budget and tax legislation is ‘Tea Party’ material.

I ask every legislator to consider this, before they vote. Do the people of the state of Nevada, hardworking people, deserve your devastating tax hikes at a time when they are struggling to get by with less? With food prices up, gas prices up, energy prices up, virtually all the basic necessities of life costing more, will your vote help the people you represent? Or will your vote lead to more taxes, layoffs, more foreclosures, and more misery for the people relying on you to help them?

But it doesn’t look like the legislators think much of these ideas. The Nevada Senate voted 17-4 to override the tax veto. The viewpoint for more taxes is typical.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said without the tax increase the state’s essential services would be left in tatters.

Both sides here are talking about things “left in tatters” only from different points of view. That does not bode well for either finding a solution or comity.

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The name of the game: tenacity, distortion, skill

TCS Daily looks at The Subversion of Capital Punishment, What death penalty foes don’t want you to know and provides an example of the modern methods of carrying forward a cause.

What they lack in popular support, death penalty opponents more than make up in tenacity, skill – and success. … The United States Supreme Court and other courts have played a major role, enormously aided by the media in suppressing critical information.

While laying claim to superlative morality, dishonesty, especially half-truth, is central to those who deem themselves merciful by bestowing mercy upon the merciless. There have been knowingly false claims of innocence. Moreover, in myriad cases, most recently on April 28, death sentences have been set aside or banned when guilt is not even disputed. This is achieved by focusing upon the alleged plight of brutal murderers, while callously withholding compassion, information and even thought about the massive suffering they inflict upon innocent law-abiding victims.

The tactics are there. One is the presumed basis of a moral superiority used to motivate the activism. That is supported by a court system that feels its role is to set policy rather than rule on law. That, in turn is supported by a mass media propaganda campaign supported by telling only a part of the story.

Any decisions made by the public are not accepted and continually contested. The creativity is focused on obstructing the end result and not on trying to educate the populace to share the view. It is very difficult to educate with misinformation and dishonest argument so the interference becomes the easiest path.

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Limbaugh points of the day

Rush is at the latest Supreme Court nominee today. He offers a lot for his critics to twist for their ends: those who do not want to pay attention to the points he is trying to make.

A first point is about comparison and contrast by looking at previous nominees and how they were treated.

Another point is about who can be offended and who can do the offending. It is OK to go after Republicans but not after Democrats.

A third point is that of using the nomination to learn about the President’s values and methods.

Limbaugh has a lot of material to demonstrate these points. There are patterns and correlations and specific circumstances that need connection and proper emphasis to help educate. He has such a large listening audience because he does this so well.

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Feeding studied ignorance

Respectful Insolence wonders The anti-vaccine movement: Is it too late for scientists to bridge the gap between evidence and fear?

Unfortunately it’s still going strong, fueled by a toxic brew of pseudoscience, quackery, and celebrity know-nothings like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey dancing on their strings according to the will of their puppetmasters in the antivaccine movement. But the real question is why? Why is this myth so resistant to science, data, and reason?

It doesn’t take much. One example is that the rationale and moderate authority can send a mixed message just by the proper lack of absolute certainty.

To this day, this is one of the most spectacular examples of the law of unintended consequences that I’ve ever seen, and I can’t believe that anyone would think that a line like “the current levels of thimerosal will not hurt children, but reducing those levels will make safe vaccines even safer” would do anything other than what it did: spark a panic. Talk about your classic case of mixed messages! On the one hand, the government was saying that thimerosal was safe, but on the other hand it was removing thimerosal from vaccines. The discordant messages fed the worst aspects of the conspiracy-minded

Some of the other factors suggested include a lay persons’ inability to evaluate risk, qualify sources effectively, the lack of visibility of proper outcomes, and an inability to qualify the issue in the scheme of context. If your child demonstrates autism then you can go after whatever medical personnel did something to him but if he gets measles or whooping cough, who do you blame?

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Distinguishing the ‘Moral High Ground’ from personal problems

David Bueche makes several good points in his discussion of Water Boarding: The View from the Moral High Ground at the American Thinker.

First is about the problem of binary arguments for things that exist in a continuum.

The use of the word “torture” as a catch-all phrase which makes no distinction to severity, intent, or other context is a smokescreen meant to end the conversation and stifle any meaningful dissent or perception of legitimate moral ambiguity.

Then there is the narcissistic nature of the pacifist as an example of the person who thinks he is on a moral high ground.

At this point in the conversation the pacifist usually says something like, “No – I don’t support either thing. They’re both bad!” This statement reveals the ultimately narcissistic nature of extreme pacifism – If I believe something strongly, I define the rules. In reality any interaction with another, by definition, is not unilateral. Even if you don’t believe in mugging people, the mugger defines your relationship, (usually at the point of knife), and you are confronted with the choice of accepting or rejecting this definition. His knife makes your “perfect world” irrelevant.

The key is that you can evaluate the quality of an argument as a first step in determining its worth. If the argument uses absolutes about something that has gray areas or if the argument is based on idealistic principles without regard to circumstances and consequences, then it is probably the wrong argument for the issue and belongs in a different kind of discussion.

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Whose reality?

The issue of reality and observable fact is a meme that carries weight. As such, it can be picked up and used in a way that should raise questions about whose reality is real, anyway? Eugene Robinson says it is As Different As Day (Obama) & Night (Cheney). His examples provide clues about how to distinguish between someone in an alternate reality and someone in the world as it actually does exist.

Which reality do you inhabit, Obama World or Cheney World? If it’s the latter, remember that storm clouds are always gathering. Don’t forget your umbrella.

In Obama World, it’s always morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the pollen count is low. In Cheney World, it’s perpetual twilight. Somewhere in the distance, a lone wolf howls at the rising moon.

This lead should raise some questions. They are answered later in Robinson’s essay.

In Obama World, objective fact matters. The failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is significant. The absence of any link whatsoever between Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is relevant.

In Cheney World, facts are based more on conviction than evidence. If it’s possible to imagine “nuclear-armed terrorists,” as Cheney did in his speech the other day, then they “exist” at least as a concept — and this conceptual existence justifies torture, among other abuses.

The issues presented have a history. They are distortions created for political convenience. They have been repeatedly deconstructed. The reality espoused by Robinson is contradicted by such things as the Congressional resolution to engage Iraq (no longer posted on the White House website). The events of 9/11 are not matters of conviction but rather matters of 3,000 dead and several buildings destroyed. Both the previous and the current administration have supported the view that there was no torture by legal definition.

Yet, despite written record and observed events, the alternate reality is presented as the existing one.

The adage that “seeing is believing” should be a warning. What you see in politics is what politicians want you to see. You believe it at your own risk – and at greater risks to the country. [Sowell]

How can you tell?

There are some characteristic patterns shown by Robinson. One is the matter of judgment of the person (day versus night). Another is the generalizations that delve into motivation and intent (“it’s fun to scare people”). Then there is the unsupported dismissal of such things as “nuclear armed terrorists.” These are the sorts of things that Dr, Santy registered in her listening and she notes some others.

Next time you listen to the Obamessiah’s speeches, listen to what he doesn’t say. Listen to the vagueness, the vacuity. Listen to the lack of specifics and the blatant emotional manipulation. Listen to the cognitive dissonance between what he is saying in his seductive, sedating style; and what he is doing with his deliberate, statist national policies and his foreign policy that not only demeans America by apologizing for her very existence; but severly handicaps her ability to act in the future. Watch how he badmouths the previous Administration, then surrepticiously implements the same policies that kept us safe over the last 8 years. The only problem with this last is that by simultaneously denouncing the security policies he is embracing, he is making schizophrenics of all the honorable people who are working hard to keep this country safe.[Dr. Santy]

What is worrisome is the natural tendency of people to believe and to trust; the natural tendency not to listen carefully to what is being said and how that is influenced by feelings and circumstances to create perception. These natural tendencies create an opportunity to sell. If you don’t want to be the sucker, then consider:

For one thing, it is much easier to know that you are uninformed than to know that you are being misled. [Sowell]

It is, or should be, indeed scary that so many are creating rationalizations and distortions of reality as far fetched as the Robinson example here.

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Words versus deeds

Reading list, May22 – The comparison and contrast between recent Obama and Cheney speeches is getting a lot of comment. If you check the headlines at Slate or US News you can find assertions that Cheney lied a lot. If you check the actual facts and reality, you’ll find different. That creates pressures and that gives commentators things to say. Some of the more rational, tied to reality, commentary include the following.

Commentary Magazine by Arthur Herman. The Gitmo Myth and the Torture Canard – in light of well established fact, “one may be permitted to wonder why, exactly, the pressure to close the prison facility has been so intense and long-lasting.”

The Corner

Peter Wehner: Obama and the Constitution – “President Obama not only selectively invokes the Constitution to advance his ideological aims; he does so in all the wrong ways. It is an astonishing, and worrisome, thing to behold.”

Andy McCarthy: Re: Obama and the Constitution – “After only 120 days, the Obama style is all too apparent: the more earnestness he exhibits in his rhetoric … the less likely it is that his actions will comport with that rhetoric.”

Cliff May: Worth Stressing – “Attorney General Eric Holder’s old firm has represented at least 18 enemy combatants. Because of the thick web of relationships between terrorism suspects, Holder, and other like-minded lawyers he has recruited, the Justice Department has been forced to set up elaborate protocols for recusing prosecutors, including the attorney general himself, from various national-security cases.”

Andy McCarthy: Re: Jack Goldsmith on Obama – “Yesterday, Ramesh pointed out Jack’s TNR essay, which argues that Obama’s policies have made us safer. (David Brooks makes much the same claim, not nearly as well, in his NYTimes column today.) At Powerline, there has been in depth and characteristically thoughtful commentary about Jack’s piece from Paul Mirengoff (here and here) and Scott Johnson (here).”


John: Dueling Speeches Part II – “I wrote earlier today that President Obama’s speech today was deeply dishonest. Here’s the first reason why.”

Part IV – “For Barack Obama to repeat the canard that the Bush administration shredded the Constitution, operated outside the law, etc., is false and dishonorable. It is also damaging to our country. Barack Obama is slandering his own government–his own nation, really–for political advantage. This is one more in a growing list of contemptible actions by our new President.”

Scott: Obama’s Crock – “In his speech at the National Archives yesterday, Barack Obama gave a full-throated, campaign-style version of the left-wing critique of the Bush administration’s national security policies. As John pointed out in his excellent dueling speeches series of posts, the speech cannot withstand serious scrutiny. It is a crock.”

Wizbang -Lorie Byrd: Embracing Cheney – “Here is what it comes down to — Cheney is talking about the enemies we face and they are American-hating jihadists determined to destroy our way of life. Obama is talking about the enemy he faces — a previous administration that was successful in keeping the country safe beyond what any of us could have imagined on September 12, 2001. And those on the left are surprised those of us concerned about national security would embrace Cheney?”

Redstate – Caleb: History Is (Re)Written By The Winners – “The irony in the slogan of the campaign is rich. For this is how history is actually written of late; Memes are echoed between mass media, blogs, left-wing activists, and back again, both here and abroad. … But in this case, the numbers aren’t remotely accurate.”

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An example of “just don’t get it”

This is one is from Heather Mac Donald at NRO. Yosemite Sam National Park?. The title is a good clue is it is an ad hominem ridicule effort and that is usually an indication of a problem. It continues:

Call me a sissified urban wuss, but I’m having a hard time figuring out why someone would absolutely need to take his gun to a national park.

This assigns name calling to those straw men created in the title. That veers from reality into a fantasy.

It is entirely reasonable to have a hard time figuring out someone else’s viewpoint. There is no reason to brag about it. The challenge is to rise to the occasion and find out what things look like from someone else’s point of view.

But, rather than make a serious attempt to understand, more satire and cynicism is heaped on the stinking pile.

You can’t just leave your gun at home? So I have to possibly give up my frequent flyer miles bonus points in order to subsidize some lousy credit risk, just so the NRA can beat its chest in victory.

The fact is that it is normal business for Congress to tack on unrelated amendments to bills and pretending otherwise is ignorant or dishonest. It is also dishonest in such issues to harp on victory dances or other unseemly behavior in those with whom you disagree.

Such a diatribe as Mac Donald offers is the poison in today’s discussion of issues. It does not even attempt to find out why the issue is on the table much less address its factors in an honest way. Instead it impugns and ridicules. Whether or not you agree with the gun laws, you should be able to agree that a discussion should have intellectual integrity not shown in this example.

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Do you still believe the news?

AJ Strata is getting frustrated. Chicken Little Cries Over GPS From Technology Challenged GAO & News Media – Updated describes just how off base the recent reporting about GPS has been.

You know it is really hard to tolerate rank amateurs when they go around screaming ‘fire’ because they don’t have a clue what a fire actually is. Case in point, the alarm bells being rung over a supposedly failing GPS network

What a pile of horse-hockey. What this is a prime example of reporting on a mildly complex subject with a massive amount of ignorance and incompetence. The GPS service is not really all the complicated to grasp, but apparently it was too much for these fools.

This isn’t the only current news story of a scientific or technical nature that is causing concern by those who are willing to think. The ‘missing link’ stories about a single two year study of a fossil find that was publicized is another.

The thing is, as AJ so eloquently notes, is that it doesn’t take much learning and thinking to see just how misleading these news reports really are. You don’t have to be a geek or a technical expert but just an educated layman with an appropriate skeptical bent.

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Manipulating markets: energy

IBT describes Canada’s Oil Bonanza and how U.S. policies are making such foreign resources ever more valuable.

The U.S. has taken more than 31 billion barrels of oil, 154 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion tons of coal off the market intentionally through laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, to prospect and produce energy on federal lands. Years from now, people will scratch their heads in wonder at such foolishness.

If people are scratching their heads over this in years to come, they will have plenty of other things to scratch about as well. So perhaps there should be a warning about bald heads to come?

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The race to the bottom

Taxes. Those who say more taxes are needed, especially taxes on the rich, use moral plaints about being able to use that money to help the poor and the needy. When it is suggested that states should tax less, they complain that those states are in a race to the bottom to attract the creme of the crop at the expense of the needy. Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore at the WSJ says “They’re wrong, and New Hampshire is our favorite illustration.”

Or consider the fiasco of New Jersey. In the early 1960s, the state had no state income tax and no state sales tax. It was a rapidly growing state attracting people from everywhere and running budget surpluses. Today its income and sales taxes are among the highest in the nation yet it suffers from perpetual deficits and its schools rank among the worst in the nation — much worse than those in New Hampshire. Most of the massive infusion of tax dollars over the past 40 years has simply enriched the public-employee unions in the Garden State. People are fleeing the state in droves.

One last point: States aren’t simply competing with each other. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently told us, “Our state is competing with Germany, France, Japan and China for business. We’d better have a pro-growth tax system or those American jobs will be out-sourced.” Gov. Perry and Texas have the jobs and prosperity model exactly right. Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined. And Texas is the only state other than Georgia and North Dakota that is cutting taxes this year.

There is a race to the bottom. Europeans are ahead of the U.S. but, lately, the U.S. seems to be in a big hurry to catch up. From this WSJ opinion, it appears that the U.S. is still fortunate in that it has states where a comparison and contrast can show the effect of tax policy. Now the only problem is getting people to see what is in front of their eyes.

Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies — old and new — have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.

Let the rationalizations begin. That is how the race to the bottom proceeds.

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Ethics and moral preening

Dr. Sanity takes a look at Barbarism, torture, and moral compasses. Social functioning has progressed to a new level of testing the sharp edge. No longer is there a transition to a war state with an entirely different set of rules and conditions but rather there is the most of everyone living life as usual with isolated warfare like testing of the values and morals of that life in spectacular ways.

Our uncertainty about our own values is what is destroying us already. Value by value, we are ceding morality to an enemy that joyfully destroys life; laughs at liberty; and mocks our entire historical tradition. Look how willing much of the West has been to compromise our cherished freedoms in order to accommodate the enemy’s threats.

Soon, we will have compromised away all that matters to us; our civilization and all its values chipped away, little by little, as it is taken over by the barbarians who love death more than we love life.

This war is being fought on many fronts. Some is traditional, some is under the covers, but the most worrisome is even more insidious as it shows as a cancer within.

incoherent, outraged indignation and preening self-righteousness are often the weapons of choice for today’s postmodern moral relativists. But please don’t suggest that they follow a moral compass. Their compass always has been and always will be primarily self-serving and spinning wildly, dependent on the political currents of the moment.

What is in the news is a major big city newspaper squashing an election turning story about criminal campaigning, revelations of administration threats involving tax audits and other such weapons, and the character assassination of political opponents. How far is too far?

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Lawfare claims another victim

The effort to find offense was significant.

Farnan spent almost 18 months gathering material against Corbett, compiling a dossier that featured secret recordings of the teacher’s remarks.

Riazat Butt describes the situation at the Guardian: US teacher broke law by describing creationism as ‘superstitious nonsense’ where “Judge rules remark was ‘improper disapproval of religion’ and violated first amendment of US constitution”

It appears that the year and a half effort was to gather enough mudballs to increase odds that at least one of them might stick when tossed at random in court. It appears the effort was successful.

What is remarkable in this case is that it is not about government establishment of religion but rather a student being offended by a factual remark made by a teacher. The judge ruled that it is illegal for a teacher to say something in a way that might offend the student: and that was after the student went to great lengths to find offense.

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Self loathing: projection?

Joan Swirsky, The Canada Free Press, describes The President Who Hates His Country.

Bizarre and, yes, repugnant as it is to our essentially centrist country, America now has a president who has broken that time-honored tradition. Barack Obama, on the campaign trail and as the leader of the free world is the first U.S. president to proclaim to anyone within earshot that he, like his wife, is not proud of his country, and is all-too-willing to offer serial apologies – for America! – to Americans and foreigners alike.
Scan you[r] memory. Can you think of any other leader in world history who so consistently badmouths his own country, or fails to defend it? I can’t.

Swirsky cites a long list of quotations, citations, and events as well as some of the responses. The focus is a worry about an elected leader who does not show an enthusiasm for what he leads but an additional worry should be how such behavior feeds the response and helps to build and support conspiracy theories and wild exaggerations. The previous administration did not provide anywhere near the stimulus for such things but they were built anyway, even when requiring a complete reversal of positions taken and historical revision. The list provided by Swirsky starts out with a fairly extensive list of incidents that could only be rationalized but never supported as a political will.

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Feedback loops

One of the questions about communism, socialism, and their ilk is “how can it happen?” Dr. Santy gets into the psychology involved but that still begs the question about how major groups of a society can fall into such delusions. Powerline provides another hint in Like Falstaff in reverse, part 2

Ambinder cites Obama’s (erroneous) reference to Churchill in his press conference last week as proof. Ambinder adds that a senior administration official confirms that Obama was citing Sullivan.

This is reference to the President’s severe mischaracterization of Churchill regarding WW II prisoner treatment. It provides an example of reaching out to others to find rationalizations for support. When that reaching out is to false prophets rather than reality, trouble can occur.

The point is one of feedback loops. People seek out others who make them comfortable. This is a process of finding positive feedback loops. Without maturity and discipline, this can be a matter of avoiding unpleasant realities that may cause dissonance or other discomfort. Like the teenager with the wrong friends, it can lead to an ultimate discomfort, but that is off in the cloudy future and more easily dismissed than current realities.

In this model the idea is that you can have a bunch of small malignancies that feed off each other and aggregate as others join the bunch for comfort. If there is no significant effort to correct the malignancies, they will grow and become a festering mass that is a severe social and governmental illness.

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Tough questions, adult thinking

Engram poses a question to examine maturity of thinking – Can Reasonable People Disagree with You about what Constitutes Torture?. The thesis is about defining tough questions.

On the tough questions, reasonable people can disagree. That’s precisely what makes them tough questions

It is a matter of defining that area where people can disagree. If you move towards binary logic and leave a very very small sphere of unimportant issues for honorable disagreement, then it is likely you are avoiding the tough questions. Engram uses both the torture and abortion issues for examples.

On both questions, my mind is sufficiently flexible to appreciate that reasonable people can disagree with me, and I never feel any desire to see my political opponents prosecuted for the crime of not seeing things my way. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t experience prosecutorial fury even if a president’s well-meaning stance against “torture” resulted directly in another tragedy like the one we experienced on 9/11.

If you believe that (a) waterboarding is torture (a defensible position that nevertheless seems quite wrong to me), (b) that reasonable people cannot disagree about this (i.e., that the correctness of your position is so transparently obvious that the details need not even be debated), and (c) that those responsible for the harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA against 3 high-level al Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 should be prosecuted, then I submit that your position is as intellectually primitive and as mentally inflexible as those who want to prosecute doctors for performing abortions. That’s not where you want to be, but that’s where you are.

It is a harsh label but it is an observation of contrasts about methods of argument. When you avoid tough questions by casting judgment on those who disagree, you are no longer in the realm of civility and intellectual integrity.

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Lawfare in modern politics

There was a recent suggestion that the right fight as dirty as the left – coupled with, of course, the argument that both fight dirty. The evidence in the lawfare arena provides one example that there is a difference. Politico, Assailin’ Palin: Complaints deluge gov carries the story of one example.

the number of ethics complaints filed against the governor and her staff — as well as the tortured logic they contain — continue to constitute the most disturbing trend in Alaska politics,” said Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow in a recent statement after one ostensibly confidential complaint was sent to the Anchorage Daily News and other news outlets.

“In the past several months, we have seen an orchestrated effort by the governor’s opponents to make differences of opinion and ideology almost criminal,” said Mike Nizich, the governor’s chief of staff, in a statement. “Governor Palin has spent a considerable amount of time and money fighting ethics complaints – and no charge has been substantiated. I hope that the publicity-seekers will face a backlash from Alaskans who have a sense of fair play and proportion. I served six previous governors, and I’ve never seen anything like the attacks against Governor Palin.”

Like the assault on Chevron in Africa, this is the use of the legal system in order to harass and impugn political or ideological enemies. Like throwing mud balls at a wall, there is a probability one of them might stick – think Mr. Libby, for instance – and that’s just a bonus. Just the publicity and the cost of defense against these complaints is sufficient and there is no downside.

What is interesting is that the people conducting this lawfare are the same ones who loudly proclaim how ashamed they are of their country and what it does. Integrity runs deep and its absence shows in many parts of the surface.

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Facts cannot trump feelings

Weekend Pundit says It’s Not About Facts, It’s About Feelings and provides several examples to illustrate the futility of trying to discuss issues tightly bound to feelings and emotions.

Somehow facts and truth have become less important than feelings and indoctrination. Never mind that no matter how much one might believe they can fly by merely flapping their arms, the laws of physics and the force of gravity will stand in their way. There’s no getting around either regardless of how much someone says otherwise.

nuclear power, climate change, military related issues,

So “people don’t know what is good for them.” That is one of the more typical beliefs the Left holds, believing they know more about what you or I need than we do. That belief reduces most of the population to the status of children in their eyes. Only the Left are adult enough to tell us what to do.

If you are in an honest – that is attached to rationale thinking, facts, and reality – what is a reasonable view on this? It is that those who use emotion rather than reason

aren’t competent enough to run their own lives because they can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction, particularly when they let their “feelings” decide things for them. None of their decisions can be trusted because they ignore facts when making decisions about their lives and, even worse, our lives.

This should be a worry when so many important life and death and basic health matters are on the table.

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Banana Republic of America?

Now, take that Strategy Page item on The Unexpected Roots Of Modern Terrorism and then John’s discussion of Banana Republic Capitalism at Powerline and start doing some comparison and contrast. If that doesn’t give pause, then read Dr. Santy’s post on Liberal amnesia = hysterical amnesia and look in the mirror.

Engaging in “self-delusion” is the act of deceiving one’s self about some aspect of reality. Self-delusion is probably the most critical cognitive “skill” a prospective political hysteric must cultivate.

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Us or them?

Peter Hitchens talks about On being a gun nut and an ‘I told you so’ moment.

Well, I said I would be misrepresented when I voiced doubts about ‘gun control’, and I duly was, by a contributor who seems keen to legalise a drug that destroys the brains of the young, but regards it as unthinkable to allow individuals to own guns.

That is just another example of behavior to look for in evaluating arguments – twisting and extrapolating another’s viewpoints as anticipated by Hitchens is an indication that honesty is not at play.

But the real point Hitchens brought up is similar to one made by Andrew C. McCarthy in his letter turning down an invitation to participate in a governmental ‘truth squad.’ Here is Hitchens on the point.

The frequent arrests of people for defending themselves or their property are not accidents or quirks. They are the consequence of the Criminal Justice system’s abandonment of old-fashioned ideas of punishment; also of that system’s social democratic belief that crime has ‘social’ causes and the ownership of property isn’t absolute.

and here is McCarthy

For eight years, we have had a robust debate in the United States about how to handle alien terrorists captured during a defensive war authorized by Congress after nearly 3000 of our fellow Americans were annihilated. Essentially, there have been two camps. One calls for prosecution in the civilian criminal justice system, the strategy used throughout the 1990s. The other calls for a military justice approach of combatant detention and war-crimes prosecutions by military commission. Because each theory has its downsides, many commentators, myself included, have proposed a third way: a hybrid system, designed for the realities of modern international terrorism—a new system that would address the needs to protect our classified defense secrets and to assure Americans, as well as our allies, that we are detaining the right people.

The assault is on people defending themselves whether individually or as a society. It seems that there is a lot of pressure to treat terrorists as criminals and criminals as victims. That is related to why the tortured torture debate devolves into defining any sort of discomfort as torture. The behavior of an attacker or criminal is not at issue because he is no different than you. Therefore you have no right to keep him off you and are subject, yourself, to punishment if you dare to separate us from them.

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