Archive for August, 2009

The matter of distortion, distorted

Palin’s “death panels” really has some folks twisted. KevinMD carries a post by Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP on Health care reform: The uncivil war dividing America that illustrates the point.

First is the plattitude

The unfettered debate about ideas that characterizes the democratic process in the United States operates best when there is a truthful presentation of the issues, and when the process is civil and respectful.

Then there is the ‘misperception’ stated as an axion.

when facts about reform proposals are distorted beyond recognition in an attempt to fuel civil unrest, and when that unrest translates to unruly disruption of town hall meetings, then reasoned debate has transformed itself into an uncivil war.

Then the case study,

The idea that the House bill, HR 3200, is proposing “death panels” is perhaps the most egregious misrepresentation of the reform proposal, but it is certainly not the only one.

The ‘errors’ are many. For one, the “civil unrest” has been isolated and mostly traced to the advocates side. The townhall meetings have been quite civil, especially considering those that we have seen in the recent past. Another error is that of tying the “death panel” idea strictly to the end of life counseling sections of the proposed bill. This is a form of the straw man fallacy as the “death panel” was a much broader allegory related to government decisions regarding the allocation of resources.

This seems to be rather typical lately. Decry various terrible things happening in the debate with the presumption that it is the other side doing it when it is really your own side that has got the problem. What Dr. Weinberger and his ilk need to realize is that honesty and integrity start at home.

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Food and pseudoscience

Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice:

In recent years, nutrition research and practice have lagged behind many other biological and medical fields. In part, this lag is due to many pseudoscientific beliefs and practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific methods. … My purpose here is to definitively (wherever possible) or tentatively (where the data are incomplete or nonexistent) answer a series of key questions about adult human nutrition using relevant rigorous scientific principles and methods. The data clearly show that much current advice about dietary pyramids, food supplements, megavitamins, and weight loss regimens is frequently unproven, erroneous, or even harmful and is often based on pseudoscience or derivative incorrect professorial opinion.

Beliefs prosper when evidence is weak or difficult to interpret. Food and nutrition hit many needs from enjoyment of intake to the efforts for better health. Another axis is that of guilt and envy and hubris. The motivations are of a strength that they can easily bend perceptions.

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About predictions of doom and gloom

While Scott Adams uses the principle to predict that the current administration will be held in great esteem, a more serious example is described by Carpe Diem in New Age of Cheap Energy Approaches: A Tribute to the Virtues of Markets, Free Trade and Capitalism. The principle is that human ingenuity and creativity can solve problems if given time.

How come natural gas prices have fallen so much? To understand why, you need to get up to speed on the exciting phenomenon of so-called tight gas. This, after coal, could perhaps be the world’s most prolific energy source. Hitherto, we have relied on conventional deposits of natural gas. But tight gas is locked into difficult rock formations, such as shale, and in the past couple of years the industry has found low-cost ways of fragmenting those rocks in order to get at the gas, particularly in America.

Predicting doom and gloom is a favorite hobby of many and the source idea for many novels. In the latter part of the 20th century, such predicting has taken on a scientific aura with linear extrapolations predicting gloom from excess population or global climate changes or energy depletions. The problem is that using a linear extrapolation where humans are involved is exceedingly simplistic. From the land grant institutions of the 19th century and the resulting boom in agricultural productivity to the integration of electronic devices which has resulted in much lower cost automation and control that, in turn, significantly increases efficiencies of producing nearly everything, linear extrapolation just doesn’t reflect reality.

Petroleum based energy reserves were predicted to dry up by now yet they continue to show increases every decade. Tight gas recovery is but one example of why this is so. Whether one can depend upon social innovation such as Scott Adams predicts remains a question but there is little doubt that technological innovation does have positive impact in solving the needs of humans given time and opportunity.

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Hidden motives in education

philosophy and food is a confession.

It’s not a lie, really. I plan the lessons carefully around the reading and writing skills as stated on our state standards. It’s just that, as we read, it’s never about the skills. It’s about fast food and how it redefines us. Every lesson is a philosophy lesson (whether it is epistimology, ethics, personal philosophy)

It’s about the changing forces in labor, politics, social institutions and human interaction. It’s about globalization and imperialism and the monolithic culture created by the golden arches. It’s about the deeper questions of how to treat people, what makes us happy, the dangers of ambition and effeciency, who should have control over public space and whatever else emerges.

Notice the key words: “imperialism” and “monolithic culture” and “dangers of ambition and effeciency”

“It’s not a lie, really” – it’s just indoctrination into failed social constructions. no wonder education suffers such a bad reputation.

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Cherrypicking and the naked emporer

Stephen Hays provides another example how the tortured the debate has become in “Comically Dishonest”. The issue is the IG report on CIA interrogation techniques. There have been a number of reports and opinions that have taken the a priori point of view that the CIA used illegal torture in its interrogations and these efforts did not produce result. What Hayes illustrates is the degree to which some will go to adhere to their point of view.

Apparently Sargent did not read my posts or the IG report very carefully. In my original post about his work I not only quoted the passage he accuses me of omitting, I quoted it twice.

It is indeed comically dishonest but the real tragedy is that the emperor without clothes just doesn’t realize he might be parading around naked.

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Fantasy is no substitute for analysis

Jefferey Miron provides an example of improper assumption and trying to make a case by fantasizing reality.

Yet the case for torture is not convincing. The crucial issue is that the public has zero evidence that torture has in fact reduced terrorism. Those who defend torture have claimed it helps foil terrorist plots, but they have not provided hard data.

The issue here is the effervescent definition of “hard data” in a social and psychological context. The report recently released is an adult measure of the “hard data” that does not attempt to confuse correlation with causation. It understands the sample size was very small and that the cause of noted changes in behavior could not be determined in the same manner as measuring the length of a board. It should also be noted that the CIA does not engage in the sort of behavior that Miron envisions:

If the CIA had convincingly foiled terrorists acts based on information from harsh interrogations, the temptation to shout it from the highest rooftops would have been overwhelming.

There is also the presumption that the ‘torture techniques’ involved “imposing pain, suffering, and even the risk of death” and it is very clear from the reports and investigations that this was not the case as a matter of policy.

Miron’s conclusion is that it was the interrogation techniques that created an “inflaming antipathy to the U.S” and that there were “no benefits” resulting from the efforts. Neither hold water in the real world but both show the degree and extent to which some go these days to pursue their fantasies and desires.

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How do you back your ideals?

A number of stories have surfaced that highlight the matter of tactics in ideological debate. Hot Air takes a look at the Townhall article: What really happened in the Franken-Coleman recount, Lorie Byrd says Of Course CBS Knew Bush Volunteered to Fly Combat Missions in Vietnam, and then there’s the CIA interrogation flap.

Gone are the days when Congressional and especially Senate recounts will get conducted as a collegial effort between two candidates who want to act as referees as well as litigants. Both sides had better be prepared for a process that looks a lot more like a lawsuit — or maybe a divorce — than anything else. … Coleman acted in the spirit of the law while Franken acted to the letter of the law. It’s hard to criticize the former approach, but one has to recognize when the opposition will use the latter approach and adjust accordingly.

This may get into the discussion at Volokh recently about why lawyers have such a bad image. As many comments noted, it isn’t truth and justice that seem to matter to lawyers but rather using the letter of the law to their client’s advantage to the point that the end justifies nearly any means.

In the Senate race recount, it does not appear things went over the edge. In another case it did.

The Rathergate scandal should be taught in journalism schools, if it is not already. What is really scary is that we will never know how many stories have been run in the media that were based on equally flimsy and even fraudulent information.

The issue here is that of creating a story that just happens to align with political ideology despite knowing its basis was false. It may be that the basis of this creation was delusion rather than conspiracy but the end result still stands as a deceitful fraud attempted on the public.

The AG deciding to resurrect an old issue to go after CIA employees also fits this mold. The circumstances had been investigated and appropriate actions taken but are now drug up again for re-examination. As one pundit noted, the AG has decided that Black Panthers intimidating voters with clubs (as seen in video) is OK but CIA interrogators intimidating self proclaimed terrorists with cigar smoke is not. There is a dissonance here.

Similar tactical extremism can be seen in the August 2009 Town Hall brouhaha. Citizens who are attending and speaking out are being accused of all sorts of things and of false organization. Meanwhile, it is the accusers who are implementing large scale organization, attempting to inhibit discussion of ideas, promulgating logical fallacies, and otherwise mirroring the behavior the claim dismays them.

These examples show why those involved in the debate cannot assume “bi-partisan” or collegiality or any shared goal to be sought in a civil fashion. For many it is a blood sport. The end becomes so important that sometimes the means to achieve it exceed civil or ethical or moral or even legal bounds.

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Not understanding and you can see why

James Hrynyshyn illustrates why an inability to understand is likely to stand in his post What the climate campaign can tell us about health care (and vice versa). Consider his view of those who do not see things his way.

The irrational, anti-intellectual, conspiracy-mongering response of climate change denialists and pseudoskeptics have long puzzled me. I just don’t understand why so many people would choose to reject the expertise of those who have devoted their professional lives to the study of a subject that doesn’t lend itself to armchair quarterbacking.

… the opposition to public health insurance makes even less sense to me. I’ve found my Canadian-raised self explaining to true blue Americans why a single-payer public system ends up costing a country less and produces superior results (longer lifespans, healthier citizens, fewer dead newborn and mothers, etc.). For some reason they just can’t accept that private health insurance will always cost more because you have to add a profit margin to the bottom line.

It’s not brain surgery. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even high-school math. It’s axiomatic.

ACES, or Waxman-Markey, is the result of the same modern-America pathological fear of meddling with the status quo.

millions are uninsured and people are dying because insurance companies are spending fortunes on the salaries of employees whose sole job it is to find legal ways to deny coverage to deathly sick subscribers.

There are two items to note. One is the characterizations of those who disagree as denialists and pseudoskeptics. The other is the upgrading of measures with broad distribution to an axiomatic status.

It is entirely appropriate for an intelligent and well educated persons to be skeptical. Science does not stand on the authority of persons, especially those who call themselves scientists or claim expertise in some area. Instead, it is the ideas and conclusions and the support for them that is the source of authority. See C-P-R from the previous post.

The lesson for anyone is basic science. First is to understand one’s own bias and the impact it has on personal observation. The second is to be aware of the accuracy and precision of the measurements and observations one uses in forming conclusions in order to qualify those conclusions. It is the assumption that anyone who doesn’t see things that you do is an idiot (or worse) that is, perhaps, doing the most harm to those who advocate man caused global warming or socialistic medicine.

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Can’t argue, flail.

The perils and pitfalls of doing a “vaccinated versus unvaccinated” study describes the problem of trying to ‘debate’ those who have won’t. All of the measure and reality that can be observed is of no value to those who believe to the point that they can’t argue. All such reality does is to cause the believers to flail in seeking new ways to rationalize what they want to be.

However, there is one trait of the anti-vaccine movement that, however its camouflaging plumage may evolve, never, ever changes. … at its core it is always about the vaccines. Always. No matter how often science fails to find a link between vaccines and autism or vaccines and whatever other horreur du jour the anti-vaccine movement tries to pin on vaccines, no matter how many studies do not support the viewpoint that vaccines cause autism, no matter how much the anti-vaccine movement tries to deny and obfuscate by saying that it is not “anti-vaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine,” at its core the anti-vaccine movement is about fear and loathing of vaccines. Always.

The same blog defines an acronym that can be used to evaluate consideration of studies and hypothesis.

And so as we conclude this series, I hope that you now feel well equipped to perform CPR (credibility, plausibility, reproducibility checks) on health news. A little healthy skepticism can protect your brain from all the mixed health messages that barrage us each day. At the very least, now you’ll appreciate why most health news reports include an expert quote stating something to the effect of “it’s too early to know for sure if these findings are relevant.” That statement may be the most trustworthy of the entire report.

C-P-R can be applied to a lot of claims in a useful way – but only if your beliefs are open to being adjusted by reality.

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What you (may) pay for an opinion

It’s a sad state of affairs when those who make the greatest claims of constitutional rights for their own behavior are the least willing to grant them to others.

IBD looks at Free Speech And Yoo as an example of the price that is extracted for the simple matter of offering an opinion.

The campaign of harassment and intimidation against Yoo is sickening. Yoo and his family have been verbally assaulted, spat upon and threatened. … Yoo’s case shows how those on the extreme left deal with free speech that isn’t their own. As blogger Andrew Breitbart noted, it comes straight out of radical organizer Saul Alinsky’s playbook: “Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Yoo isn’t the only one. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is another current case mentioned. Others include the Glen Beck advertiser’s boycott and, of course, Sarah Palin.

You can find a similar ethos of disagreement in much more benign quarters as well. Do a search at Airforums.com for “first amendment” and you’ll get more than 100 hits from find people ranting about free speech in an RV social club. Not only are the comments totally irrelevant as a voluntary leisure association is not a U.S. government political venue but many of the comments are nasty, vile, personal, and well outside the scope of the forum’s terms of service. That lack of, or selective, enforcement of the agreed upon terms of service in a voluntary association is just another example of the depth of the issue.

There are patterns and correlations in these attacks. York interviewed Sheehan about how her anti-war protest efforts have been treated in the media and found that she has noted the pattern there, too. The town hall meetings are also bringing the matters of civility in disagreement to the attention of many as well. Awareness of the reality is a first step and the denials are becoming more and more strained. Let us hope they don’t break catastrophically.

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Why the global warming alarmists are earning contempt

James’ Empty Blog provides several examples in Evidence for bias in atmospheric temperature trends. The post is a rebuttal to a paper about bias in surface temperature measurement. Here are some examples of the wording that turn off scientists and engineers and create skepticism about the rebuttal itself and AGW in general.

“including two Pielkes and a Christy” – “despite three gratuitous plugs of Watt’s photography site” – “Not that I expect the Pielkes to like that particular interpretation” – “but I can see why he might be perturbed” – “being the political scientist that he is”

In other words, nearly every paragraph has an ad hominem slur. The post reeks contempt and hubris. It addresses the authors of the paper it is rebutting as much as it attempts to address the topic. Go over to “Watt’s photography site” and use the content not only to verify the description but also for comparison and contrast of tone. Look for comments such as those quoted above.

It does seem to be the general method these days to attack the person and not the argument. Just look at the Town Hall brouhaha and health care debate. It is bad enough for politics to devolve to this but scientists should probably cultivate habits of expression that minimize it. To see so much in even an informal blog should make one wonder about the focus on more serious publications of the author.

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Astroturf swiftboaters on death panels

There is a lot of talk about “Republican Astroturfers” (Robert Reich) swiftboating the health care debate. Palin’s “death panels” is one of the topics. In all of these there is a distortion and even downright dishonesty.

The Swiftboat Veterans were a group of peers of a candidate who did not think he was fit to lead. They specified their reasons. Some were admitted and none were shown to be off base. Yet the opposed candidate’s friends use swiftboating as a pejorative with the assumption that the reasons and charges of the peer veterans were false and slanderous. It is easy to see that it is those slandering the swiftboat veterans are the ones that should be held in contempt but that doesn’t get through the muck.

Astroturfing is a term applied to what the administration and its friends are doing in the health care debate. That is a technique of advertising, or even hiring, people to show up at citizen’s meetings to present a point of view. Astroturf is fake grass and the idea is that the people that show up at town hall meetings are not the ‘grass roots’ expressing their political views but rather paid partisans with no real stake in the issue. Again, those using the “astroturfing” label are clearly wrong but that also doesn’t seem to get past the muck that they are in.

An example of a label that does seem to penetrate the muck is Palin’s “death panel” label. She highlighted a fundamental truth in government based health care as an only option. When you remove health decisions from the individual, you get into the ugly business of making decisions about life and death for others. An individual can decide that some health care option is more important to him than, say, a new house. He can put out a plea for others to help him as well. If the government undertakes responsibility for all health care, though, it will have to make that decision about how far to go in medical treatments for what circumstances. Those decisions are life and death decisions and will have to be made by some form of committee or panel. That is the fundamental truth behind Palin’s “death panel” that is as clear as sharp steel. The efforts to blunt that edge and the sharp contrast with the muck are telling in themselves. All the techniques are there for anyone to observe and they say reams about the nature of the debate.

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Judicial oligarchy and power grabs

Lee A. Casey and David B. Rivkin, Jr. talk about Judges who would be king at Slate. It is a good rundown on the history and consequences of lawfare and hubris in the judicial branch of government.

The problem with this view is obvious. If there is no aspect of
government over which the courts do not have the final say, then under
the guise of saying “what the law is,” as the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison
put it, judges become the little kings they so often remind the
president he is not. This is especially the case today because a number
of the traditional constraints on judicial power have been severely
eroded.

Over the past 60 years, however, both the requirement that a litigant
must have standing and the political question doctrine have lost much
of their force.

The Constitution’s Framers did not design the judiciary as the “first
among equals” in our tripartite system, ultimately responsible for
determining whether Congress or the president have properly exercised
their own discretionary functions.

What will check the judiciary’s contemporary expansion? We can hope
that the other two branches will realize that, however expedient it is
to have the courts decide politically difficult issues, in time
judicial supervision will make it impossible for them to perform their
own constitutional duties—such as protecting the population from future
attacks. Similarly, the courts may discover that ultimate power carries
ultimate responsibility. That should be a daunting prospect for a
branch that lacks the legitimate power of the purse or sword. In the
meantime, anyone who cares about limited government, and the individual
liberty it is designed to protect, should ask themselves who now checks
and balances the judges.

One of the most difficult tasks an individual encounters is that of defining one’s limits. Organizations have this problem as mission creep. In many ways taking note of governmental mission creep is what is behind the Town Hall fracas currently in the media headlines.

When it comes to branches of government, the first enforcement against mission creep is the other branches defending their turf. Lately, it seems, Legislative has been going after Executive and using Judicial as a weapon. In that process, the growing scope of the Judicial mission is creeping out of its original scope out of much notice. There are reasons to be concerned and Casey and Rivkin provide a good synopsis.

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Is it real grassroots?

Peter takes a look at some of the allegations going back and forth on healthcare in Obamacare, ‘grassroots support’ and ‘astroturfing’. Find out what astroturfing is all about and how it is being used in this debate.

Friends, when organizations such as big-business pharmaceuticals, community ‘organizations’ such as ACORN, far-left-wing politicians who can’t tell the truth to save their own lives, and trades union thugs, all end up pushing the same agenda – and beating up, both verbally and physically, on those who oppose it – great big flashing warning lights should be going on in our minds.

There are reasons people are getting suspicious and angry. Find out why. Peter provides a first step.

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The Palin death panel

Every now and then, someone comes up with a label that sticks. Ms. Palen did that when she described a necessary part of any government health care decision making process as a “death panel.” Of course, this got those in favor of government run health care up in arms defending their ideas and pointing out that the legislation currently under consideration does not say anything about death panels. Dr. Clouthier (chiropractor) describes how Sarah Palin Defines the Health Care Debate.

Once again, Sarah Palin brings the essence of a disputed policy into sharp focus. With dramatic flourish she illustrated average Americans’ concerns with her own in a post on her Facebook fan page. … Sarah Palin rightfully notes at the end that a government involved with health care issues will be involved in life and death decisions. … The majority of health care expenses occur at the end of life. Right now, doctors and family members struggle with the ethical decisions individually. A way to cut costs would be to make central decisions — a “death panel,” if you will. … Sarah Palin rightly sees the debate in philosophical terms.

The manner of ‘debate’ against this revealing label is telling. One tactic is to call for more civility and to imply that the label was out of line, hyperbolic, and inflammatory. Another is in the ‘reduce to the absurd’ category. “Many of the punditry on both sides get lost in the minutiae of the bill.” Yet another is to discredit any opposition.

The Democrats don’t like the answers the American people are giving and thus have upped the rhetoric and resorted to name calling. In the last week, opponents of government-run health care have been compared to Nazis by the speaker of the House. They have also been called “un-American,” “terrorists,” “the mob,” and more. That’s a sign Democrats have lost the philosophical debate.

Instead of calling out Sarah Palin, critics need to realize she’s defining the health care debate philosophically. Really, she’s doing the same thing President Barack Obama is doing. It isn’t like he’s been discussing specifics. He’s been trying to convince people that the government can provide more coverage at less cost than the private sector. He’s been trying to convince people that health care is a right. He has not been mentioning the trade-offs people make when giving the government that much power. Sarah Palin is doing that. She is acting as a clear voice in opposition to a powerful government.

It is an important debate. Palin has provided an insight in a way that many can understand whether or not they like it or can even accept it.

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A great awakening?

It seems there is a longing for people to wake up and smell the history. Scott describes a new book by Paul Rahe that gets into some of the history.

In the early 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited Jacksonian America, he was taken aback by much of what he encountered. Nothing impressed him more, however, than the demonstrated capacity of the Americans to form private associations for public purposes.

Now, as citizens flock to town meetings all over the country to confront their Senators and Congressmen, we can see the consequences. And the White House and the Democratic Party have responded to the spontaneous organization of opposition to their endeavors in a manner that is reminiscent of the governments in Tocqueville’s France – by insulting their fellow citizens, by charging them with conspiracy, by locking citizens out of putatively public meetings, by bringing in union toughs to intimidate the opposition, and by illegally collecting the names and contact information of those who have exercised their First Amendment rights in a manner unfriendly to the proposals advanced by the current administration – apparently with an eye to future retribution. [Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect]

Mark Steyn reviews the book in the Criterion and a more pithy take is the column in the OC Register. Mark Steyn: Conformity is now the new dissent: Community Organizer wants to organize us all.

Then there’s Jonah Goldberg about how the Democrats’ Fear Is Showing on Health Care and Michelle Malking about Tea party bashers gone wild.

What this brings to mind is Godwin’s Law.A few years ago, dissent was patriotic. Those being complained about did not protest the protest. There is a contrast now. Dissent is no longer patriotic but rather evil. Those on the receiving end have mounted a counter attack and are hurling epithets and worse at those who dare to raise questions.

Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation coined by Mike Godwin in 1990, and which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

The question of concern is what happens next and that is what Scott, Mark, and Paul are talking about.

MORE: Dale Franks says A Fork In the Road is Coming at Q&O.

Frankly, Americans resent authority. We accept some measure of it as a necessary evil most times, but there are limits. We can be pushed, often quite far, but when we reach a certain tipping point, enmity quickly flares. We can have quite heated arguments as equals, then knock off and have a drink. But once we have a heated argument, then are forced to do something we don’t want to do…well, we don’t like it.

Maybe enough have been pushed as far as they will accept.

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Propadanda is best served subtle


Subtlety is the most destructive weapon of biased journalists. It is the intellectual equivalent of a shot to the casual reader’s head from a sniper’s gun hundreds of yards away. The unsuspecting victim never knows what hit him.

The Town Hall and Citizen’s Meetings are a bit warmer than usual this August. There is “truth to power’ going on that is causing ripples in the force. What is worse, just pasting a disgusting label on the disturbing behavior has not created the desired result. That means a more subtle approach is necessary to bring the public in line. That is what Daniel Glover is describing in The Media Take Aim At ‘The Mob’ at Accuracy in Media.

But that subtle approach is just the tactic of the media. Others include evasion, disruption, and ongoing misrepresentation. Look for these tactics to better understand what is really going on.

UPDATE: see also Average American Derangement Syndrome for more examples of the propaganda campaign in effect.

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What do you believe in the “Photoshop era”

The Birthers movement has surfaced a Kenyan birth certificate issued before Kenya existed. This was to refute the testimony and documentation of Hawaii government officials and newspapers. Who do you believe?

The truth is that it is extremely easy to create fake documentation these days, Just ask Dan Rather who still thinks he had official National Guard documents despite the modern fonts. Jamais Cascio describes Five New Rules for the Photoshop Era that an put a perspective on how to consider the authenticity of documentation you may encounter that is offered to support some position or other.

hacks don’t have to convince skeptics–they only need to strengthen believers. Faked materials just need to be convincing enough to cause doubt in the minds of people already inclined to believe a lie. For people trying to undermine political opponents, uncertainty is both easy and useful.

What the five rules boil down to is that you should look at sources, provenance and redundancy as criteria to judge the authenticity of documentation. Anonymous and single source documents, such as with the Kenyan birth certificate and the National Guard memos, should be highly suspect. Multiple sources are better such as the newspaper notices of a birth or the Swiftboat veterans’ testimony. The old newspaper accounts have an additional benefit as they had no axe to grind in publishing their notices at that time.

This all relates to why you may need to show an ID or provide certain special information in using credit card payment methods. The issue isn’t the documentation as much as it is some assurance that it is you that is making to deal. Much of business works this way. The documentation such as contracts and agreements are fine but it is the deal between people face to face that really counts.

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Big brother in politics

It’s all about privacy and whether you have any. Strategy Page mentions amnesia and the effort to prevent terrorism.

It’s not just that a lot more people have been hired to seek out terrorists. The big change is the technology. More and more, its robots that are looking for the terrorists. This approach has raised some interesting legal questions. … Privacy rights have become a growing issue since World War II. But, since September 11, 2001, it’s become obvious that protecting those rights can get people killed. … Privacy in the modern world is a misunderstood concept.

Then Michael Laprarie wonders about the response to the heated response Congressional representatives are receiving in their August vacations.

Am I just waking up from a bad dream? Because I distinctly remember dissent being the highest form of patriotism. I remember liberals flipping out over the Patriot Act, to the extent that they tried to kill it. I remember liberals going nuts when President Bush suggested that Americans report suspicious activity in the wake of 9/11. [Wizbang: Protest-loving liberals now advocate snitch campaigns and investigations of protesters - and I'm loving it!]

Mary Katherine Ham takes a look at the tactics that are involved in the propaganda campaign to discredit the public expression in Think Progress, MSNBC ‘Manufacture’ a Story With Putative Smoking Gun ‘Mob’ Memo.

When the “manufactured” outrage the Left is trying to demonize lines up so inconveniently with public polling, it’s sometimes necessary to create evidence for the “manufactured” storyline.

This effort to minimize and demonize the opposition can also be seen in the Speaker’s claim that the opposition displayed prominent Nazi symbolism and in the efforts to elevate the Birthers fringe to the maintstream. Following that tactic is a White House effort to ‘correct’ false information, such as a recently republished interview of the President as a Senator, by asking citizens to report “fishy” behavior. Byron York has more on that program and its issues in Obama’s dissident database could be secret — and permanent at the Washington Examiner.

On Monday, White House director of new media Macon Phillips posted a note on the White House web site complaining of “disinformation about health insurance reform.” “These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation,” Phillips wrote. “Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

In a letter to Obama Tuesday, Republican Sen. John Cornyn wrote that, given Phillips’ request, “it is inevitable that the names, email address, IP addresses, and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House.” Cornyn warned the president that “these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program.”

As with many administration actions taken these days, there is a clear comparison and contrast to immediate precedent available. That often means that there is also a scramble to rationalize something now that was protested vehemently then. That rationalization is of interest in itself but it is what follows that is also important. When people paint themselves into a corner and then find they are trapped, they tend to escalate irrational behavior. In politics that can be dangerous when it is the behavior of those in charge of governance.

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