Archive for October, 2011

At least a propaganda campaign is rational

From Wall Street to Egypt, we’re getting packaged news that bends reality to fit the liberal spectrum. That’s why alternative sources of news are so crucial to preserving our sanity – and our liberty.

Robert Knight, Washington Times, Massaging the news for the masses.

Liberal press bias has been so stark and the lying by omission so blatant that it’s time to take stock again. Here are some examples culled from the “mainstream media,” a term conditioned with quote marks because the media are seriously out of step with America’s mainstream.

There is the idea that that the Tea Party and the Occupy mobs are equivalent. The contrasts are stark. Knight lists a few. Doesn’t matter as you won’t hear about them unless you ‘alternative’ media, such as the Occupy Exposed website that has been hacked and subject to denial of service attacks and other criminal activities for posting local news clips and other reports about just how despicable the Occupy mob behavior really is.

Then there is the class warfare effort. That one gets to the zero sum game model where the rich only get that way by stealing from the poor .. or is it just pure greed and envy by those who want to riches without having to build and create to earn it?

Religious bigotry is in there, too. It is like castigating Steve Young for Mormon roots while ignoring Harry Reid. Consistency seems to be one of the first victims.

It doesn’t help when the public is faced with a delusional propaganda campaign but it is still within the responsibilities of each individual to step up and realize what is really going on.

There is more …

Ann Coulter says that if she were a liberal, “I wouldn’t acknowledge these facts, or any facts. I would close my eyes, cover my ears, demand that MSNBC fire Pat Buchanan and the FCC pull the plug on Fox, and pretend to believe that taxpayer-funded “green” projects and an ever-increasing supply of public school teachers were the only things that separated us from Armageddon.”

Thomas Sowell talks about the media and ‘bullying’ noting that the group in vogue has special advantages. “Our schools are already too lacking in the basics of education to squander even more time on propaganda for politically correct causes that are in vogue. We do not need to create special privileges in the name of equal rights.”

Patrick Michaels notes how the BEST science is not a press release in the latest example of science for propaganda rather than insight.

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Is rational thinking rare? It often seems so

Nurse Jo says This is why we need basic science education in schools. Oh, wait. That probably wouldn’t help.

Critical thinking and the understanding of basic research is so lacking these days, it nearly makes me despair.

It is amazing that not only do people not consider the implications of what they think is true, the get really upset when called on it.

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fooling one’s self

ars technica illustrates how people try to convince themselves that what they think is true really is. The story is Climate skeptics perform independent analysis, finally convinced Earth is getting warmer. They commit the same mistakes as other media outlets reporting similar ‘news’. The first thing to note is that the issue of the report isn’t about climate change but rather about skeptics. That is the essence of the ad hominem logical fallacy. Note at ars that they also get into the Koch Brothers, a favorite leftist villain and Anthony Watts whose blog has been a major driver of skeptical inquiry in the field. Then you can get into the reality of the story.

First up is that the Berkeley Earth group contains people skeptical of global warming, It doesn’t.

Second is that the disagreement is about climate warming. It isn’t (it is about causes of recent warming trends).

Then you get into the technical problems such as the fact that the report was based only on the same data sets used in previous climate catastrophe predictions and that these data only show warming since 1950 of a minor amount (compared to signal noise).

It should also be noted that the brouhaha is about pre-publication press releases. Publicizing ‘scientific’ papers prior to publication is highly indicative that the effort is about publicity, not scientific knowledge. The effort is to stimulate media reports, such as the one at ars technica that impugn and denigrate those who raise unpleasant questions and try to bring reality into ideological views.

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Put toes in piranha infested water?

Steven Hayward takes note of the wrong apology. The idea offered by Robert J Samuelson was for previous presidents Bush and Clinton to take on an apology tour for their failure to tackle entitlement reform. That sort of thing tends to ignore the fact that the government is a bit more than just a president.

The point is, Samuelson is being a little unfair to both men, though his thought experiment isn’t entirely risible. Instead of an apology tour, it might be interesting for both men to speak candidly about their experience of putting their toe in the reform waters, and having it bit off by the piranha politics of our time.

Hayward notes how the impeachment of Clinton and the Katrina disaster had important contributions to this topic as well. Those events provide examples of unintended consequences in unforeseen events worth keeping in mind as well.

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Modern philosophies have roots

Three stories make a bigger picture when seen together. Pruden describes the sincerity of hype and hope with regards to Steve Jobs. “He was the secular prophet for the secular age, preaching the gospel of the technology that offers salvation, but only a salvation of better and more beautiful machines.”

A contrast is Stephen Wolfram talking about his baby in The Background and Vision of Mathematica. “I started out—in my teens—as a physicist. And doing theoretical physics requires doing lots of mathematical calculation. And I figured: these calculations are kind of mechanical. Why can’t I just get a machine to do them?”

Then there’s David Keene describing how Democrats are slowly abandoning democracy. “As the polls have turned against them, many Democratic liberals are beginning to doubt the wisdom not only of allowing people to make their own decisions, but of letting voters have anything approaching a free hand in electing those who will lead them. Most people, after all, can’t be expected to know what or who is good for them. They make mistakes, and mistakes are not easily tolerated by an elite convinced that it knows best.”

The background for this is the Occupy Wall Street Mobs. The Democrats have made overtures towards owning them. The Unions have hire folks to participate in the mobs. Their focus is to bring down those evil, greedy corporations who are stealing from the masses — except for Steve Jobs and Apple.

Where does Wolfram fit in? He is like the TEA Party, the guy who just wanted to get something done and then went and did it. Steve Jobs was a visionary and money man that depended upon people like Steve Wozniak to make it happen. The Democrats also have a vision but their ‘engineering’ has gone sour as sometimes vision and reality can’t get together in an engineering solution. Wolfram has built an idea machine so that those who want to play with numbers have a toolset available to facilitate their efforts.

There are people who build and create and have to be in touch with reality to do so. That is an intellectual integrity. With many on the left, this seems to be missing.

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Corporate welfare in another guise.

The Coyote describes it: More Corporate Welfare, in the Form of a Currency War.

The idea is that those Chinese are cheating, you see, and that means they sell things too cheap here in the U.S. That makes it harder for some manufacturers to compete on a price basis and that’s just gotta’ stop.

So, the solution is to impose tariffs and such things to raise the price of Chinese goods. What that means is that a lot of stuff you buy will get more expensive. That is, in essence a regressive tax as it puts a heavier burden on those on the lower end of the economic spectrum.

As the Coyote also describes, it is a form of corporate welfare. It taxes the poor to help those corporations who can’t compete.

“Look at the sentence in bold. Another way to write this would be “we want a law to help a few visible and influential manufacturers who most compete with China, but hurts consumers (ie every single American) and every business that uses imported raw materials.”

When the Chinese make it easier for us to buy their stuff, they are subsidizing the price. It seems we should be appreciative when someone wants to pick up a part of the tab rather than angry.

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Mobs and their common behaviors

Ann Coulter touches nerves and a review of her book Demonic by Ray Hartwell shows why. The book uses observations of mob behavior by “Frenchman Gustave Le Bon, in his book “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.” And while she is seldom given to understatement, Ms. Coulter’s conclusions are supported by extensive citation of the behavior she critiques.” It is the scholarship with a sharp tongue that drives Coulter’s critics nuts – so much so that studying their behavior often provides a case study in denial.

The review notes several characteristics of mob behavior identified by Le Bon.

“the “primitive” emotions of a crowd slip easily into “infatuation for an individual.”” … “mobs also “consider as enemies all by whom [their dogmas] are not accepted.”” … “members of a mob are “perfectly capable of holding completely contradictory ideas at the same time,” because they steadfastly refuse to engage in critical analysis of the positions they espouse.” … “a mob will believe its own myths even though they “most often have only a very distant relation with the observed fact.”” …

Coulter not only uses examples from modern political behavior to illustrate these characteristics, she also uses a comparison and contrast between the American and French revolutions to underscore the differences. The Wall Street Mobs noted in the previous post provide yet another example. They aren’t too sure about exactly what they want to do so they choose a target and try to tear it down. In contrast is the TEA party which has a very clear goal in mind and seeks to build consensus and change towards their goals. There is a difference.

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Going after the seed corn: Wall Street Mobs

The seed corn is what you keep from the previous crop in order to grow the new one. That is the role of capital in growing businesses. Wall street is the market for that ‘seed corn’ but it is under attack.

“This dispirited movement appears to be composed of a confused collection of leftist 20-somethings who blame globalism, trade, the Federal Reserve Bank, investment brokers, corporations and capitalism in general for all of our economic ills and rampant unemployment.

They’ve dubbed their anti-capitalism protest “Occupy Wall Street,” declaring that the nation’s financial center is the source of all evil and, thus, all of our troubles.”

Donald Lambro describes the Dark delusions of Wall Street protesters and how Leftist profs have misled young minds about the blessings of wealth creation.

“Much of this anticorporate, anti-wealth, anti-capitalism rhetoric sounds like it is straight out of college economics courses taught by left-wing professors. They are still there, raging against big business and capitalism, brainwashing naive students who believe that stuff and vote accordingly.

Then again, we live in the Age of Obama, a time when our president is fond of blaming big banks, corporations, hedge fund managers, Wall Street and “millionaires and billionaires” for all of our economic turmoil.”

The behavior is that of trying to find blame for one’s woes and letting greed and envy overtake any rational analysis. The reason why Wall Street under attack is, in part, in that it is a symbol. Many folks older than the ones Lambro sees, maybe even their parents, have seen retirement efforts questioned as the stock market has dived and tumbled in the recent recession. It is a blame the messenger and not even see the message problem.

“Wall Street? Clearly these kids do not understand who really benefits from the stocks and bonds that are bought and sold there. More than half of all Americans now own a part of the nation’s corporate economy through their investments. Business pension funds, 401(k) retirement accounts and mutual funds have opened up investing and wealth-creation to millions of Americans in every income bracket.”

Lambro does have some optimism

“Don’t give up on these kids just yet. A lot of them out there have big dreams of starting a successful business, making a lot of money, creating millions of jobs and, in the process, rebuilding the American economy.”

But those kids aren’t in the protests. They are too busy growing the economy, one small business at a time. If they can find the capital they need and can figure a way to make a profit despite all of the rules, regulations, taxes, and fees that target them.

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What gets lost in the noise in the class wars

So many get stuck on the zero sum game — they think the rich got that way by taking it from others. The

Attack Machine

cites Andy Kessler to describe how billionaires really “give back”

The first example is that of Wilson Greatbach. He invested $2,000 of his own money to develop his pacemaker invention. He got a lot of wealth and the rest of us got a bit of an escape from debilitating or fatal heart problems.

Another example is Steve Jobs who is famous for not parading around large donations and grants to charities. What has Apple done for you lately? The focus seems to be on what the gazillionairs do with their money and not what they gave us to earn it. Besides Jobs, Gates, Page, and Brin are noted.

“It’s inevitable but wrong. Because they, like Wilson Greatbatch, have done their part to create wealth for society by inventing and being in business and investing their profits into even more productive products and services. That’s “giving back.” Taxes and charity are just gravy.”

You can’t see if you don’t open your eyes to see seems to be the message.

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Pie in the sky?

Powerline describes the smart and the dumb. What is considered dumb is a fixation on pie in the sky fantasies in ignorance of history. Smart is having a bit better grip on reality and what can be done now.

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Both sides do it? (science edition)

“It is the elite perception that conservatives are beetle-browed, anti-science nutters wedded to faith-based, unverifiable beliefs eschewed by the more sophisticated, scientific-thinking left. … the history of who believes in science and who opposes scientific thinking and methods is far more muddled.  There’s plenty of evidence that the clown shoes belong on the other (political) foot,”

Clarice Feldman takes a look at Science, Lies, and Videotape to see where the rhetoric meets reality. “Much of the folderol of calling witchcraft science takes place behind the scenes — as in the EPA endangerment finding — but sometimes the fraud takes place before our very eyes.”

The claim is, of course, that ‘both sides do it’ but Feldman says the evidence is otherwise.

“The debate at Curry’s site is lengthy and thorough. At best, it seems, one might argue that both sides of the political spectrum have exhibited the desire to use science for sociopolitical ends, but it seems to me undeniable that the claim that the left is scientific and the right is not must fall.”

While many case studies are provided as examples, there is an underlying philosophy or ideology that provides a model to explain the situation as well.

“Generally, the “dangers” the left invents or exaggerates involve modern technology, existing energy sources, and large-scale production. They represent a strange amalgam of Rousseau and Luddite notions and hark back to an ideal, never-existing “state of nature.””

You may want to get into the creationism in schools as a means to assert ‘both sides do it’ but that is on the fringes of the distribution and does not have the impact on society that pushing billions of government money on alternative energy or faux climate research does. The war against big energy is another part of this as that harms the less well off as well as the economy as a whole.

Yes, there is a difference. Understanding that difference is a first step to forming opinions backed by intellectual integrity.

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