Archive for July, 2010

Seductive and gullible: reports on energy and climate

Warmest on record! Cheaper than nuclear! Professor says, science says, report affirms, — headlines like these seem popular. More than anything else, they illustrate a gullibility based on a seductive affirmation of a desire rather than a truthful report of reality. Rod Adams describes a case in Gullible Reporting By New York Times On the Cost of Solar Electricity Versus Nuclear Electricity.

The paper is seductively titled Solar and Nuclear Costs — The Historic Crossover: Solar Energy is Now the Better Buy. The paper’s cover has a dramatic and colorful graph that shows ever increasing costs for nuclear and ever decreasing costs for solar.

Everyone wants free energy, or at least energy that has no environmental impact. Sometimes that desire gets a bit out of hand. This was just one example.

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How did we get here?

Ted Nugent says It is us. The people are looking for the easy way out whether that way is to let the government do it or to just vote for whatever sounds good. The results repeat history and they are not good. Those who do question the authorities have a tough row to hoe.

I have been damned as being a radical extremist my entire adult life for simply standing up and relentlessly promoting and celebrating self-evident truth, logic and common sense. The devil brigade acting upon the Saul Alinsky deception playbook has made its mark by lying, cheating and attacking with the very hate that it accuses everybody else of harboring. With an overall complicit media to bullhorn the brigade’s agenda, a nation of sheep has taken the pill and swallowed it whole.

Those who don’t think that there is a difference, those who are looking for personal benefit from government, those who don’t seem to mind a lack of integrity – it is us – they are the ones who will wonder what happened (and continue to try to blame it on someone else).

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Detecting self deception

The Leading Blog describes 7 Signs You Might Be In Denial. The focus is on leaders who need an accurate assessment of a situation in order to make good business decisions. Here are some indications that your decision making may not have an accurate assessment as a basis.

1) you think you know all you need to know

2) you don’t make it a point to listen to understand other sides of the issues truthfully

3) your thinking is short term

4) you trash talk those who dismiss competitors and people with irritating questions

5) you relabel actions rather than change them

6) you don’t tell the truth

7) you deny denial is a problem you may have

You can find many of these behaviors in the dialog about current issues such as racism, climate change, creationism, vaccinations, immigration and more. A key to keep in mind when you think you see denial behavior is to consider it a mirror because what you see first is often your own self.

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Issues 29 July 2010: state’s rights

Judge Bolton has roiled the politics in her injunction against parts of Arizona’s immigration law. Andy McCarthy has a synopsis of the rationales used at the corner. A key is the idea that it isn’t federal law but rather enforcement practice and policy that preempt state’s rights. Bolton provides some other interesting ideas such as the requirement for aliens to carry, and show on demand, their green cards as being anti-American. Such lack of integrity is judicial activism and will feed the wrong fires.

Also on the matter of state’s rights is the number of states giving them away. Arnold Ahlert describes it as The United Cities of America. There are now six states that have decided the votes of their citizens and their presence as a state are to be subjugated to popular vote in Presidential elections. It may feel good to have your state in the winner’s column in such elections but there are issues that the electoral college was created to solve that are being ignored.

Then there’s how governmental funding works as When Funding Battles Trump Mission. This example is one where the noisy interests flavor how governmental entities adjust their mission in order to better rationalize their need for funds. Whether it is the Forest Service jumping on the climate change bandwagon, the space agency going for Muslim self esteem, or the whole issue of climate research funding itself, government shows that the votes that count are not always the votes at the ballot box.

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Reaction to change: Reid on Angle

With attack ads that cite Angle as “dangerous,” there is another message: that of fear of change. It is like an unintentional double entendre where the current administration’s “hope and change” becomes something to fear if real change is suggested. Angle is suggesting real change and Reid’s message is an appeal to the status guo.

Marc Thiessen describes Harry Reid’s strategy, and Sharron Angle’s path to victory:

Reid needs to drive as many voters as he can away from Angle and toward these alternatives. He plans to do this in two ways. The fake Tea Party attacks are designed to siphon off as many conservative and libertarian votes as possible — and in an election that could be decided by a few hundred votes, even a small number of defections on the right could be devastating. Meanwhile, Reid intends to push moderates into the “none of the above” category by portraying Angle as “a full-time resident of the paranoid alternate universe.”

It is not likely that this resistance to change illustrated by fear mongering attack ads is an effective public strategy. That makes it a reasonable approach for Reid. Thiessen says Angle is biding her time, developing her plan, and doing what she can to minimize gaffs that can be used as ammunition against her. That was a month ago. Robert Cost says Sharron Angle Can Smile today and describes the response.

To fight back against the growing tide of criticism, Angle has made a $330,000 television buy this week to air her first series of positive ads, beginning with the spot below. In the ad, Angle talks about “liberty and freedom” and about the problem of the debt and deficits. “That’s why you and I have an opportunity right now to change the direction of our country,” she says, before ending the spot with a grin. Unlike her first ad, with its network-drama gloom music, the new ad does not even mention Reid.

Reid has now been caught in two major deceptive campaign tactics, the web site theft and the fake Tea Party attacks. He has gone negative with ads to leverage fear of change to castigate his opponent. Angle provides voters an alternative to this method of doing business. There has been a lot of words that say they want it. The question is whether the votes will support this desire.

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The rise of the ad hominem

Two examples in the headlines illustrate the use of ad hominmem in debate about important issues: Climate Change: Personal Attacks Continue Instead Of Dealing With The Science and New Emails: Journalists Coordinated Defense Of Obama, Calling For Accusations Of Racism Against Conservatives.

The degree to which those in official climate science are incapable is illustrated by the reaction. The answer is in the reaction the whitewash has triggered; an orchestrated attack on the skeptics, those who dare to perform science by proving the hypothesis wrong, to ask questions or demand debate. Why? The obvious answer is because the public was increasingly skeptical as evidence accumulated that the hypothesis was wrong.

A lot of effort is going into attacking those who question the preferred meme. In Great Britain it appears that it might be made criminal to question anthropogenic global warming.

The racism assertions have come to the fore because of the NAACP labeling the Tea Party racists despite its not being a nationally organized group and despite lack of evidence. That is only the most recent episode in a rather long history of such labeling. Recent revelations show that prominent journalists were discussing using the tactic of labeling those not in line with their views as racist as a means to protect the President from the antics of the minister of his church.

These efforts are not going into answering the questions raised or other constructive effort. Labels such as racism can be useful if they reflect a fundamental truth by bundling a clear set of behaviors that do reflect underlying values and beliefs. They are false and deceitful if used to distract or impugn without proper basis. In order to determine if there is a proper basis takes some effort and that effort may require confronting personal preferences often avoided by insisting there is an equivalence between sides or minimizing differences or exaggerating fringes. That brings the matter of integrity to a personal basis.

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Fear based fault finding

The latest ‘car out of control’ scare has resulted in yet another investigation that can’t support the allegations. From the looks of it, the ‘unintended acceleration cases that blamed Toyota occurred without any brakes applied and the throttle fully depressed – i.e. driver error.

So too, Broadband Performance Maybe Not So Bad After All reports Dr. Dobb’s journal.

The FCC provides the example in its effort to take over control of the I’net. It had reported that US broadband connections were half or less of advertised speed. A recently released MIT Internet Traffic Analysis Study (MITAS) suggests otherwise.

In each case that the study examined, the underestimation of the access networks’ speed had a different cause. The study that the FCC relied upon, for instance, analyzed data for broadband subscribers with different “tiers of service”… they assumed that the subscription tier could be inferred from the maximum measured rate. The MITAS researchers show that, in fact, the subscribers in lower tiers sometimes ended up getting higher data rates than they had paid for. In the study cited by the FCC, exceptionally good service for a low tier may have been misclassified as exceptionally bad service for a higher tier.

As with climate research, there is a pattern of bias that seems to fit ideologically oriented goals. Skepticism is warranted.

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The cost of green

The Las Vegas Review Journal has been asking questions and the answers indicate that Going green not cheap for NV Energy.

everyone acknowledges what the contracts show: Green power costs more than its fossil fuel-generated counterparts. Just how much more has been the question. Based on NV Energy’s filings, wind, geothermal and waste heat-recapturing come closest to current power-purchasing prices, while solar projects cost the most.

Experience has provided one answer to the ‘how much?’ question. Proposals to meet legislative requirements is providing another.

New filings from the company show that it plans to pay 8.6 cents to 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour to buy electricity from seven renewable-power projects included in the 20-year integrated-resource proposal it has pending before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

That price runs two to four times higher than the 4 cents or so per kilowatt hour that the utility paid over the past 18 months for its wholesale power, which comes mostly from natural-gas generation.

This information is about only one part of the cost equation, the part a citizen pays for energy directly. They don’t include the government subsidies that are paid via taxes, for instance.

What is also becoming clear is that the benefit of these costs is not as clear as the burden. There are generic rationalizations about ‘saving the environment’ and sometimes even specific measures (like CO2) that are conveyed with implied impact. The reality is, though, that energy rates are multiples of what a free market could provide and that additional cost of energy over free market costs does not have any clear benefit being purchased.

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Media hubris on parade

Robert Schlesinger provides an insight into why ‘professional’ journalism in the old school is suffering. He looks at what he calls The Palin Effect and the Death of Political Journalism.

Hating the media is trendy, especially when the Internet allows anyone to become a pundit. Too often, people confuse reporting with transcription. But journalism isn’t stenography. It involves probing, context, nonsense detection and, sometimes, pointed interaction which can be so easily avoided on Twitter and Facebook. … You may not like political reporters, but you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

There are some things to note. One is that he takes after Governor Palin. “Since her sudden departure from office, the former half-term governor of Alaska has managed a political feat that is audacious and a bit startling.” Look at the emphasis being used as in the words “sudden,” “half term,” and “startling.” Then there is the reference to Fox News with a bit of snark. When Sharon Angle is added as a second example, the indications of inordinate bias raise significant question about the integrity of the essay.

Another meme provided is that of avoiding serious questions as if reporters are necessary for this. The assertions and implications ignore the idea that the questioning by reporters has been judged inane or inappropriate by much of their market. It also ignores the ‘tea party’ town hall phenomena where many representatives have been faced with direct accountability to the voters. Many of these representatives were caught surprised at the town hall meetings because their reference was the ‘professional’ media who questions were sympathetic and not probing.

The death of any journalism is not the subject to be reported nor is it competing avenues of communication. It is in the integrity and quality of the journalists. As has been recently discussed about Walter Cronkite’s role in the Vietnam war and as seen in Dan Rather’s TANG fabrications, even the top tier in professional journalism is suffering.

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About disasters, compare and contrast

Technology’s disasters share long trail of hubris says Borenstein. Climategate and the Need For Greater Scientific Openness is the story at Slashdot to see a disaster in action.

One is an example of the other.

The ‘technology disaster’ being considered isn’t, of course, climate change but rather about those bit evil, greedy, careless oil companies and the idea that “Unfortunately, safety costs money, so it’s usually not a priority.”

The common thread – which the new presidential oil spill commission will be looking for – often is technological arrogance and hubris. It’s the belief by those in charge that they’re the experts, that they know what they’re doing is safe. Add to that the human weaknesses of avoidance, greed and sloppiness, say academics who study disasters.

Those human weaknesses are given example in the climate brouhaha.

The Guardian follows up on the recent news that CRU climate scientists were cleared of scientific misconduct with an article that focuses on how the controversy could have been avoided, and public trust retained, had the scientists made more of an effort to be open about their research.

Much of that controversy centers on the messages about “hide the decline” and ‘We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?’

Engineering disasters happen because there is sometimes overreach in trying to build something new. It is a matter of estimating what is not known and missing the estimates. The arrogance, greed, and ignorance of human costs is not in the engineering realm but rather by those who purchase the design, cut corners building it due to buyer pressures, or use what is built outside of its design realm. That contrasts to climate research where the pressure is to obtain public grant funding by pleasing the political constituency.

Reality has a way of defeating hubris. Those who actually build things and stake their reputation on the result are humbled by reality, sometimes to suicide, That is engineering, not research. It is researchers who can pontificate about how great their efforts are until someone starts wondering about how that research fits reality. That is much of the story of the climate scandal. The researchers showed hubris in avoiding questions and in squashing unpleasant dissent. The efforts to maintain this hubris, the whitewash reports by friends and colleagues, are raising more questions than they answer in an attempt to maintain the self image.

What PhysOrg illustrates is also hubris. It is in the focus on the “disaster” side of learning and blaming that on a hubris that could better be seen if the author looked in the mirror, the one that shows him and the climate scandal researchers and much of the academic community standing in plain view in the reflection.

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Living, breathing – growin – bureaucracy

Why does government keep getting bigger and more obnoxious? Make a simple law, hire a bureaucrat to implement, and that invests the bureaucrat with the need to keep busy so he looks for how to apply his hammer to anything he thinks might be a nail. Culberson: FCC Can’t Regulate the Internet describes one of the more egregious examples currently in play.

The FCC cannot regulate the Internet without clear and unambiguous statutory authority from Congress, which it does not have. But instead of coming to Congress and asking for it, the FCC lawyered up and attempted to bend the rules to its liking.

Note the use of lawfare to seek goals rather than appropriate political process.

Rep. Culberson notes that there does need to be someone like the FCC to go after cybercrime. What is not described is that the FCC efforts are towards social enforcements such as broadband access that have nothing to do with child pornography, fraud, or libel. That is another indicator of misplaced priorities. It is towards goals that are for redistribution of assets rather than a protection of assets. That is another trend that seems to correlate well with the living, breathing, and growing bureaucracy and government.

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The Army: a blunt massive instrument?

Many seem to see the armed forces as a blunt force whose job is the awful “kill people and break things” (see Hal O’Brien’s McChrystal and Pournelle). This simplified image of the purpose of the armed forces is used to disparage the use of violence in achieving national goals by some and as a satire of those with the anti-violence views by others. Strategy Page describes the dilemma from a different point of view as it posits whether The Past Bites The U.S. Army In The Ass.

For the Army, it in the vision of big battles such as in the major wars where the objective was massed forces tasked with destroying the enemy. This is contrasted to actual experience in small wars fighting guerillas.

U.S. troops have been defeating guerilla movements for centuries. Through all that time, COIN has been the most frequent form of warfare American troops have been involved with. But COIN has always been viewed as a minor, secondary, military role. It never got any respect.

The basic truth is that COIN tactics and techniques have not changed for thousands of years. What has also not changed is the professional soldiers disdain for COIN operations. This sort of thing has never been considered “real soldiering.” But the U.S. Army and Marines have finally come to accept that COIN is a major job, something that U.S. troops have always been good at, and something that you have to pay attention to. So when you see more news stories about the COIN manual, keep in mind the history of that kind of warfare, and how long, and successfully, Americans have been doing it.

As O’Brien points out, the purpose of the nation’s armed forces is to fight and win the nation’s wars (FM-3, Operations). That may indeed mean killing people and breaking things but, historically, it has meant selective destruction couple with significant construction. That is construction of social entities and the infrastructure needed to support them that will create allies that strengthen national interests. Winning a war does not mean leaving desolation but rather leaving a people freed from oppression and terror and corruption who can join forces in extending and strengthening national interests.

The image of war and warriors being despicable destroyers and killers fits a ‘peace, love, and harmony’ fantasy that so enthralls so many, It doesn’t fit reality. That difference is a danger when it comes to deciding whether to use the armed forces as a blunt instrument for destruction and death or to use it as a fine tuned and sharp tool for the expression of national interests on an international state. The Army has it figured. The question is whether their boss does.

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Regressive taxation creeping in under the blanket

The pressure to obtain income to match state government spending has legislatures demonstrating significant creativity. That money has to come from the masses but how it is collected needs to avoid notice if at all possible. Sometimes people do notice. Nevada recently passed a law to raise funds that has generated some notice. Fact Checker: Registration tax triples on 9-year-old vehicles describes a case.

The increase in sales tax and the tax on vehicle registration are both regressive taxes. Those who spend most of their money on supplies and have older vehicles are going to feel the taxes more than those who spend their money on services and have newer vehicles.

Incremental sales tax increases often fly under the radar as they will be hidden in the noise of nominal price fluctuations. The key for legislatures is the slow and sure approach. Once you get people used to paying the tax and get the infrastructure set up to collect it, you can make occasional small increases over the years that are sized to avoid notice. Since it such a broad tax, a small increase can generate significant revenue. The impact of that tax on economic activity is difficult to pin down so arguments against it are difficult.

The vehicle registration tax could also be incremental but the legislature may have overstepped on this one. As in the RGJ column, owners of older vehicles may have seen a threefold increase in their annual fee. That tends to cause one to sit up and take notice. “Officials hoped that it would bring in expected revenue of $94 million. … as of the end of May, the DMV had transferred about $46 million this fiscal year to the General Fund.”

These taxes plus another few taxes and fees, especially on small businesses, were “expected to raise $781 million in taxes to help fill the state’s $3 billion revenue shortfall.” That’s only a quarter of the needed money which means a significant squeeze. What is the legislature to do to close the gap? Their constituents demand services yet the money to provide those services is not there. And this is only for the state. Local and federal levels face a similar squeeze. The natural tendency is to just raise taxes. This is like a novice entrepreneur deciding to raise the price of his merchandise to increase income. That natural tendency has been shown to be questionable. Raise the price, or the tax rate, above a certain point and it will reduce sales to the point that overall income decreases. Make it too low and and the profit margin reduces to an inefficient level. The challenge both for the entrepreneur and for the state is to set their prices or tax rates to just the right place so as to maximize healthy activity and optimize revenue. That is not as easy a task as it sounds.

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Be careful around cornered bureaucrats

It is when you can’t tell what they are going to do that they become dangerous. The July 4 camping weekend provided a case in point.

In the camping business, July 4 is the busiest day of the year. This year, on July 3, I got a call from one of my managers saying that the County health department had tested 20 ground squirrels in the area and found one with the plague. … in the past, we have usually been required to post warnings in the area giving safety tips to campers to avoid these animals, what to do if one is bitten, etc. At the same time, we then begin a program of poisoning all the lairs we can find. … This time the health department marched out and closed the campground on July 4 weekend, kicking out campers from all 70 sites.

It is hard to imagine that, given the whole year to test, they just suddenly happened to find a problem at one of the busiest sites in the LA area on the busiest weekend of the year, particularly since they simultaneously changed their mitigation approach from notification to closure.

Well, it made a splash. A lot of families had to change their plans for a vacation weekend and a management company had a lot of unexpected work to do. But that is what happens when there is a lack of accountability and pressures to communicate. Like threating to reduce fire and police services in a budget crunch, propaganda comes in many forms.

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Teachers, cops, and janitors, oh my!

“Armed with knowledge about California’s three public-union heavyweights, one can start to understand how the state found itself in its nightmarish fiscal situation.” Certainly, employees desire better wages and benefits and that is a proper market pressure. The problem comes in when the distance between employer and employee becomes larger and more obtuse as then the responsibility for decisions becomes less clear. Create a situation where both only meet via representatives and you have a recipe for disaster. Unions and elected representatives make the case. Steven Malanga describes how public-sector unions broke California with a history lesson.

The rise of the white-collar CTA provides a good example of a fundamental political shift that took place everywhere in the labor movement. In the aftermath of World War II, at the height of its influence, organized labor was dominated by private workers; as a result, union members were often culturally conservative and economically pro-growth. But as government workers have come to dominate the movement, it has moved left. By the mid-nineties, the CTA was supporting causes well beyond its purview as a collective bargaining agent for teachers.

The lesson is one of feedback and checks and balances in governance. Diligence of the citizenry is one component that has been lacking else the unions would not have their political clout. The ‘running out of other people’s money’ is another but one that tells you all others have failed. The challenge for California and many other governments from municipal to national is to take heed of the need to make corrections before they repeat what has happened to the Soviet Union and other socialist oriented states.

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What’s up July 8 2010

Scott says it’s In a silent way citing York’s notice of a story that didn’t make it to the Big Voices, the NASA Muslim self esteem goal. He notes that “The silent treatment accorded York’s story is not uncommon. Much the same occurred with the widely reported story of the phantom n-word supposedly shouted at black congressmen by Obamacare protesters on Capitol Hill on March 20.”

On something the BV does like, try fear of technology. Bruce Schneier says the Threat of ‘cyberwar’ has been hugely hyped. Take note that he does not minimize the problem with fraud but rather says it is “within the context of normal life” just as fraud has always been. It is a matter for individuals and not for armies.

We surely need to improve our cybersecurity. But words have meaning, and metaphors matter. There’s a power struggle going on for control of our nation’s cybersecurity strategy, and the NSA and DoD are winning. If we frame the debate in terms of war, if we accept the military’s expansive cyberspace definition of “war,” we feed our fears.

We reinforce the notion that we’re helpless — what person or organization can defend itself in a war? — and others need to protect us. We invite the military to take over security, and to ignore the limits on power that often get jettisoned during wartime.

If, on the other hand, we use the more measured language of cybercrime, we change the debate. Crime fighting requires both resolve and resources, but it’s done within the context of normal life. We willingly give our police extraordinary powers of investigation and arrest, but we temper these powers with a judicial system and legal protections for citizens.

Dr. Ball takes on the latest climate whitewash taking note of just how obvious it is.

But the omissions are more basic and ones everyone can understand. For example, why didn’t they trace the source of the leaks? Why were only some of the emails leaked? Russell’s report chastises CRU for failing to provide data on request and for being secretive or refusing Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. What drove them to do this with information obtained and produced by public funding? It doesn’t matter how much climate science you understand, the level and extent of avoidance goes beyond laziness, time consumption as they tried to claim or any other excuse.

That should be contrasted to Monbiot’s column in the Guardian where he whines about the awful email he gets and cites some very ugly words. The contrast is that the skeptic, in this case Dr. Ball, addresses the substance with known sources while the defender cites unknown extreme sources that even he qualifies as incompetent. Another skeptic, Dr. McIntyre, also shows how logic and the values of science can be applied to strengthen this contrast.

These investigations should be considered in context of the problems with peer review and how it is presented as what it is not. Megan McArdle says Peer Review is No Panacea.

This is not to say that the peer review system is worthless. But it’s limited. Peer review doesn’t prove that a paper is right; it doesn’t even prove that the paper is any good (and it may serve as a gatekeeper that shuts out good, correct papers that don’t sit well with the field’s current establishment for one reason or another). All it proves is that the paper has passed the most basic hurdles required to get published–that it be potentially interesting, and not obviously false. This may commend it to our attention–but not to our instant belief.

The DoJ problems continue to be discussed. People are wondering why the feds are going after Arizona and not Rhode Island or the ‘sanctuary cities.’ The Adams testimony about the DoJ dropping an almost settled case of blatant voter discrimination is getting into other related issues. John Fund describes this as Another voter fraud scandal involving the Justice Department.

Mr. Adams’ allegations would seem to call for the senior management of Justice to be compelled to testify under oath to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. But Justice is making none of its officials available and is refusing to enforce subpoenas issued by the commission. The more this story develops, the more it appears Justice is engaged in a massive coverup of its politicization of voting rights cases.

Dr. Hanson reminds us that American Decline Is a State of Mind and not a historical inevitability.

The United States still remains the most racially diverse, stable, free, productive, and militarily strong country in the world. Its current crises are largely the political and cultural creations of the most affluent and leisured generation in civilization’s history — not due to longstanding civil unrest, structural weakness, or a sudden shortage of natural resources.

Where the US goes from here will be where it chooses to go and that direction is set by its state of mind.

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Doomsayers: here’s what you find when you look at reality

Down with Doom: How the World Keeps Defying the Predictions of Pessimists is the tale of a student from the 1970s who found that many of the prophets of doom were false prophets. Things just didn’t turn out the way that the doomsayers feared

Not only are human beings wealthier, they are also healthier, wiser, happier, more tolerant, less violent, more equal. Check it out – the data is clear.

The problem is that when you question the doomsayer, whether it be regarding human caused climate change or other doom and gloom, the response is not rational nor honest.

Like others who have tried to draw attention to improving living standards – notably Julian Simon and Bjorn Lomborg – I am beginning to be subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification by the pessimists. They distort my argument, impugn my motives and attack me for saying things I never said. They say I think the world is perfect when I could not be clearer that I advocate progress precisely because we should be ambitious to put right so much that is still wrong. They say that I am a conservative, when it is the reactionary mistrust of change that I am attacking. They say that I am defending the rich, when it is the enrichment of the poor that I argue for. They say that I am complacent, when the opposite is true. I knew this would happen, and I take it as a back-handed compliment, but the ferocity is still startling. They are desperate to shut down the debate rather than have it.

Sound familiar? What is surprising is that the phenomena goes way back, it is a common facet of human civilization. With modern values and communications, skepticism and transparency tend to put pressure on the veracity of these prophets of doom. That pressure creates a strain which seems to show as a more strident expression.

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Arizona immigration enforcement

The feds filed their lawsuit against Arizona. Kris Kobach has a good description of the issues at hand in Defending Arizona.

“A law that basically makes a few small, carefully considered changes in police procedure, Arizona’s S.B. 1070, has inspired a vastly disproportionate response. Few laws have ever been so grossly mischaracterized by so many leaders on the left.”

Rich Lowry also thinks deceit is at play but is on the ‘both sides do it’ position. “The legal fight between the federal government and Arizona will be a case of dueling insincere arguments.” It is interesting to compare Lowry to Kobach because it tends to support the view that the ‘both sides do it’ view is a lazy way to rationalize the debate.

There are differences and it important to distinguish between them. The differences can be seen both in a careful examination of the points involved in a specific issue, as in this Arizona case, as well as in patterns. Another issue that sets another point in a pattern is the Christian Adams DOJ race problem (see BREAKING: A Third Former DOJ Official Steps Forward to Support J. Christian Adams (Updated)).

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Who to believe? How to know.

There are two events today that tell stories about the media. One, noted by Byron York, is how the NASA goal for Muslim self esteem has not been determined newsworthy and the other is the report about the latest climate research whitewash. Both tell you a lot about what people with big voices want you to know and how they want you to know it. Without ‘alternative’ media, you’d never be aware of the attempts to manipulate your perceptions.

In the new goals for space exploration, it seems that the Muslim world’s contributions to math and science a thousand years ago are to be featured to help develop self esteem despite that world now being rather backwards. Some have suggested that NASA might achieve this goal by providing ‘how to through stuff at Isreal’ tempatations.

The latest climate research behavior report encounters some of the same problems the earlier ones do. You can look at the raw data yourself and compare to the report conclusions. More than anything else, that makes for an interesting study of caveats, context specifying, and qualification that you can find in the report if you read it carefully. Otherwise you’ll be struck by the contrast of your own witness to that of the community trying to exculpate itself. The reporting indicates a significant big voice interest in aiding the process. The basic value of skepticism is nowhere to be found.

Then there’s Levi’s Mea Culpa as yet another example. Interesting here because a British newspaper even cited Governor Palin as an example of deranged climate “denialist” in its report of the climate research report. The Palins seem to be a ‘big voice’ obsession, even if the basis is only a teen aged kid.

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The science facade

John takes note (More on the Kagan Partial Birth Abortion Scandal)of an interpretation of Kagan’s role in the partial birth abortion fracas by William Saletan at Slate. Saletan looks beyond the scandal to the problem of the courts and their acceptance of science.

Saletan cites our analysis of the scandal, but argues that Kagan was just doing her job as a White House political operative. The real lesson, he says, is that courts should stop being naive about the provenance of “scientific” reports. I think he has a point

Saletan concludes:

All of us should be embarrassed that a sentence written by a White House aide now stands enshrined in the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, erroneously credited with scientific authorship and rigor. Kagan should be most chastened of all. She fooled the nation’s highest judges. As one of them, she had better make sure they aren’t fooled again.

The politicization of science was a recent campaign issue. For the most part, it was a trumped up charge with a deceitful base. What that charge tends to do, though, is to diminish cases such as Kagan’s ‘reframing’ of the summary statements of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which were then used by SCOTUS in creating law via the judiciary.

Such a tangled web tends to entrap us all.

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