Archive for January, 2012

Hatred consumes

You’d think they’d get over it. Jamie Stiehm illustrates otherwise in George W. Bush’s Legacy is No Laughing Matter at US News. It is a hatefest with the usual suspects.

paying the price—in the trillions—for his wars” — of course, the actual cost is of no concern, neither are the benefits and neither is the Congressional authorization to use force. Falsehoods and personalization are the thing, yes indeed.

“And George says, ‘The Supreme Court, five to four.'” — can’t get over the US Supreme Court decision either, no matter how many recounts Florida did or just how corrupt the opposition was. Again, falsehoods and personalization.

A scolding to George W. Bush for going out in public and making merry. He’s a walking reminder of the shambles left in his wake. Go home, sir, and stay there.

My father likes to say the 43rd president left a K.I.T.E for Obama to fly in 2009: Katrina, Iraq, Terrorism and the Economy.

Obama has done pretty well on those fronts, but he should not have to sit long at a table in the presence of his enemies.

And the strange thing is, Obama has followed Bush on matters such as Katrina, Iraq and terrorism and even upped the ante. And when it comes to the Economy, that record rests on the shoulders of Fannie and Freddie and has not been helped by squashing the energy economy while squandering billions in green energy venture capital.

Hate consumes and Stiehm’s post is an example of just how tragic that can be. Scolds are not highly regarded for a reason and those who wish others ill often find themselves in their own stew of misery.

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When a major church calls for civil disobedience

The Obama administration has recently announced that all employers (with few exceptions) are required to provide health insurance to their employees which includes subsidized contraception, sterilization and coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. This has the Catholic Church upset. Scott Johnson at Powerline describes the response as The Church against Obamacare. Each U.S. Bishop wrote a letter to be read in Church. Here is from the Bishop of Marquette:

The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. … Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. …

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.

Push is stimulating shove and the weight on either side is massive. That can result in a significant collision with traumatic damage if a safer course of action is not found.

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A growing resentment: state of the union

VDH gets on a rant stimulated by the recent State of the Union Speech.

We were not forced to buy homes by “them.” Some of us were greedy and wanted to keep flipping real estate and got caught when the music stopped. Some were stupid and leveraged their homes to pay down credit card debt and write off the interest — or take on even more consumer debt. Some were always better off in an apartment or rental. True, some just bought at the wrong time; but that’s called “bad luck” and not quite the result of a mustached black hat forcing an innocent widow at gunpoint to sign on the dotted line. What are we to think when the president thunders, “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them”? What does “we learned” mean? Did we ever not know? And what does his passive-voice “had been sold” mean? Are we to learn now that it does not mean “bought”? Americans did not “buy” houses, but were pried out of their beds to have too costly homes “sold” to them?

We accept that the president inherited a rocky situation, but accept even more that he sought to never “let a crisis go to waste”; rammed down ObamaCare, more regulations, and more stimulus; borrowed $5 trillion in three years; demonized the job-hiring classes; and so turned what would have been a natural recovery into 36 months of stagnation.

So we are tired of hearing about all the bad people who do all the bad things to us. Life is not a zero-sum peasant world, where someone’s extra olive tree must be considered someone else’s lost olive tree. We don’t care whether someone makes over the dreaded $200,000, only whether there are still such employers around to hire at good wages. A final polite suggestion: every time the president goes after “them,” can he please explain how much a Jon Corzine, Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, John Kerry, George Soros, Elizabeth Warren — or Michelle Obama — made, and how exactly they made it?

And that’s only one topic. There is more on green initiatives and race baiting and other issues. What VDH describes is a growing resentment with a clear description of why it is growing. The question is how much is enough and how long it will take before the resentment sinks into the corners and crevices.

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Alarmism and the propaganda goal of getting the young: side effects

Raising the alarm is a popular way to create a call for action. The Wall Street Journal item where a number of scientists put the call on climate alarmism illustrates how one case is being exposed. Another is the alarm about childhood obesity. Anti-Obesity Program Horrors: They May Cause Eating Disorders describes one effect of ‘good intentions’ that are really just a part and parcel of a propaganda effort using fear to spread it’s dishonesties.

A new poll says 30% of parents have seen at least one worrisome behavior in their children that could be associated with an eating disorder—and they’re blaming it on school-based anti-obesity programs.

According to a new report from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, their national poll on children’s health examined the possible association between obesity prevention programs at the schools and an increase in eating disorders among young children and teens. What they discovered was many of the parents were worried about these programs actually back-firing and having the opposite effect that they were intended to.

The ‘self esteem’ movement is also being called into question and this ‘anti-obesity’ movement seems to be correlated. The problem is that much of the attack on obesity is also an attack on self esteem. Such contradictions are symptomatic of ideologically driven positions not based by solid reasoning.

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Insidious bias: Luddite version regarding computer user interfaces

Mark Shuttleworth is a successful entrepreneur who decided to use his money to make computers more readily available to the masses. He started a company, Canonical, and put together freely available software into what is called a linux distribution. That was provided on free CD’s and for free download so that it was easy to install a system and set of applications that would run on most personal computers.

Canonical has contributed back to the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community in a number of ways. One was a new startup routine that solved some problems with conflicting background services and shortened the time between switch on and usable computer. Another contribution is a desktop application that is used to access applications. This last has made change visible and that has really upset the trolls on forums.

Scott Merrill describes it in his posting about how Mark Shuttleworth Unveils New Head-Up Display for Ubuntu 12.04: “Every time I write about Ubuntu and its (not-so) new Unity interface, I see lots and lots of comments decrying it as useless, an abomination, the worst thing to ever happen to computers, etc.

Bias shows in the comment that “Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s Self-Appointed Benevloent Dictator For Life, yesterday unveiled the next step in the Unity evolution: the Head-Up Display.“. Somebody puts in how own money and uses his own organizational skills to offer something at no cost in a highly competitive market and he’s labeled a ‘benevolent dictator’? How about visionary or some other positive term, instead? The fact is that many of these technically oriented blogs are anti-capitalism but don’t really know it. That is when bias becomes subversive.

In this particular case, many of the presentations on the topic also show how difficult it can be to present a paradigm shift. After 30 years of consistency in the ‘windows, icons, menus, and pointers’ paradigm, change and revolution is afoot. Part of this is due to the many portable devices used to access the I’net. Part is due to the complexity of the many things you can do with computers and the many functions built into modern applications. Part is about what is learned about finding things in a sea of possibilities. Part is due to the resolution, aspect ratio, and size of the display devices. Part is due to advances in technology that allow new ways of choosing and selecting.

Personally, I’m not so flummoxed by it, but there’s no denying that Unity has been a divisive addition to Canonical’s flagship Linux distribution. The choice to move application menus up to the global bar at the top of the screen has been frustrating to many, and a lot of power users find Unity too mouse-intensive.

Keyboard shortcuts have not disappeared. Backwards compatibility with the old ways of doing things is still a primary goal, including with the new way to find functions in an application. The paradigm problem shows when a new idea is presented as if it abandons the past. For instance:

The goal of the new Head-Up display is to — eventually — replace menus altogether. Instead of clicking through menus, users type the command they require in a search box.

Not really. In current systems, there is a key combination that will invoke the menu that uses another key for the submenu and on down through the tree until you, finally invoke the function desired. The new idea is to start the menu easily and then to use the name or description of the function to find it and have the system present options based on context and guessing that are displayed for you to hone down to the function selected. Just like diving down the menu tree hones options, the search idea also hones down possible options but does so based on your input and not on some fixed menu tree with pre-defined codes, The new approach does not replace the old one but simply enhances it. It also does not bypass or negate shortcut keys or macros.

Both the bias and the Luddite problem are common in many of the reports about Canonical’s efforts to revolutionize the user interface. Look for assertions such as ‘Shuttleworth is forcing this down your throat’ or descriptions that talk about “replacing” or simplify the idea to search only. Be aware that there is more to it much like there is more to a lot of what you read about topics that involve beliefs, paradigms, or desires.

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BSD: A problem for the current administration?

Strategy page has a take on Bush Derangement Syndrome and its implications. The topic is about understanding Iran, Iran’s intentions, and Iran’s behavior.

In retrospect, it was deeply harmful flapdoodle, the manipulative narrative of a cynical brand of domestic politics pursued for selfish, short-term political gain.

At a crucial time in 2007, Obama and his cohort tried to undermine Bush administration efforts in Iraq and hindered its efforts to restrain Iran. Petraeus serving as his CIA director doesn’t erase that mistake.

The Obama administration, wedded to the BDS spew of 2007 and 2008, spent two years playing the Iran despots’ time-buying game. On Obama’s watch, the tyrants advanced their nuclear program and strengthened their position in Iraq.

Obama may extol sanctions, but weakness is his fundamental record.

There is a deep confusion about war, what it is, and how it is to be conducted. One blogger was trying to figure out why Mai Lai and Hiroshima weren’t equivalent. Another asserted that the Taliban and the Hussain Iragi’s treated prisoners better than the U.S. The thing is, trying to talk to Iran about nuclear weapons is like trying to talk to the administration about Solyndra, the Keystone Pipeline, or the Fast and Furious operation.

Seeking out convenient villains to serve as foils will only go so far.

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Fact checking the fact checkers: food stamp president example

Newt Gingrich struck a nerve when he characterized President Barack Obama as “the food stamp president.” [LA Times]. One way to tell is by the ‘fact checker’ articles like Fact Checker: Is Gingrich right about food stamps? that determine that Gingrich was off base.

Newt Gingrich claims that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”

He’s wrong. More were added under Bush than under Obama, according to the most recent figures.

The deal here is comparing a tenure of 8 years to one of 3 years. That is how numbers can be made to distort reality.

Why is this such a nerve?

Gingrich often cites the number of persons on food stamps to support his view that the U.S. is becoming an “entitlement society,” increasingly dependent on government aid. And he has a point. One out of seven Americans is currently getting food stamps.

But Gingrich strains the facts when he accuses Obama of being responsible. The rise started long before Obama took office, and accelerated as the nation was plunging into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

Because Bush Did It! The common refrain in the current administration is to blame all ills on its predecessor and the fact checkers are ‘straining the facts’ to try to prove the point.

Tom Blumer asserts, though, that Barack Obama Is the Food Stamp President.

Stating that fundamental truth does not make Gingrich or anyone else a racist, as leftist smear merchants in government, the Democratic Party, and the establishment press want America to believe.

Participation in the food stamp program, technically known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), has increased by 44% from 32.0 million in January 2009 to 46.2 million in October 2011, the last month for which data is available. During that time, the average monthly benefit per person has increased by over 18% from $114 to $135, even though the costs of food eaten at home have increased by only 5%, and even though gross benefits before deductions for income and assets three years ago roughly approximated what was needed to maintain adequate nutrition on a “thrifty meal plan.” Monthly program costs have increased by over 70%, from $3.6 billion to $6.2 billion.

So-called “fact-checkers” in the press are of course focusing on Gingrich’s one slightly wrong (for now) statement that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”

There is a comparison and contrast between the ‘fact checker’ and the ‘checking the fact checker’ stories. It is a lesson in how nitpicking can find fault and bypass the message. That may ‘feel good’ but it doesn’t help when it comes to understanding.

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eco-brainwashing: teaching science as a ‘what’ rather than a ‘how’

The tragic aspect of all such eco-brainwashing is that the scientific method is being bastardized as our students are being told what to think, not how to think. Additionally, all of this indoctrination is stemming from the minds of teachers who hold more in common with Marx, than they do with Madison.

Brian Sussman may be hawking his book, Eco-Tyranny, but the points he makes regarding the NCSE attacks on ‘climate deniers’ is accurate. Bad science? Ideological motivation? – he thinks the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) should look in the mirror.

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Tactics to evaluate the nature of a debate

Coach John Reed has a good list of Intellectually-honest and intellectually-dishonest debate tactics. These enumerate the sort of tactics and behavior that nominate references in this blog. The reasons to do this are shared here.

This Web site is, in part, a debate between me and others with whom I take various issues. I welcome intellectually-honest debate. It is one of my favorite ways to test my theories and learn. … One of the great disappointments of my life is discovering how thoroughly dishonest most people are. Some people will on the slightest provocation fire off a statement or paragraph that contains three, four, five, or six different intellectually-dishonest arguments in a matter of seconds.

Although I am fond of intellectually-honest debate, about 90% to 95% of the statements made by my opponents to prove that I am wrong have been of the intellectually-dishonest variety. The same thing applies across the board. Almost all arguments consist of one intellectually-dishonest debate tactic after another. It is one of the reasons why our country has gotten so screwed up.

The list includes 40 items from name calling to mockery with changing the subject, questioning motives, cult of personality, and scapegoating in between. It should be used to evaluate one’s own arguments as well as those of others. There is a standard and it is one that is reasonably objective. If you see dishonest debate tactics in your own arguments, then you know you need to dig deeper into your own feelings and views and why you hold them. That is the fundamental honesty: being honest with one’s self.

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Stopping progress: a cause only for the wealthy

It is only when you have enough wealth that you can afford to avoid the inexpensive approaches to needs. Then, if you aren’t quite so comfortable with your wealth, you need to rationalize your choices. Bruce MCquain has More on the Keystone decision and why it was a decision based in politics, not what was best for America.

“Relying less on the U.S.” “Diversify our markets”. “99% of … crude exports go to U.S.”

Those three phrases shout one thing in unison: The U.S. is an unreliable trading partner.

One more shocking statistic, if we want to talk about safe and secure petroleum supplies in our future – “Canada accounts for more than 90 percent of all proven reserves outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries”.

Here we have, next door to us for heaven sake, a supply of oil from a friendly nation which is about as secure as it can get and we do what?

Warren Meyer is quoted from Forbes as noting

But local environmental concerns were merely the public pretext for a decision that is much more troubling. Opposition to the pipeline began to rally among radical environmental groups long before any of them had the first clue about the pipeline route. The real goal of these groups was not to protect water along the pipeline route, but to make it impossible to develop new sources of oil in Canada. Unable to stop Canadian oil drilling and tar sand extraction programs, environmental groups are now trying to block any pipeline that is proposed out of the oil producing regions.

Then there’s William Tucker:

t is only the truly affluent, however, who can be concerned about the environment to the exclusion of everything else. Most people see the benefits of pipelines and power plants and admit they have to be built somewhere.

as Bruce says “The national security and energy needs of the nation are being held hostage by an affluent elite who have decided, because they can, that enough is enough.

It is a many fronted effort. The efforts against fracking have become significant. The Keystone XL pipeline is another front. The recent closing of a refinery due to excessive regulation costs is another. These efforts are against the base and foundation of progress. That is the energy resources needed to build things, to move things, and to even supply the raw materials. It is only when you have sufficient wealth for your own needs that you can attack the most cost effective energy sources like this.

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We want it so bad we’ll monger FUD

The latest is indeed green: “Two of the main objections to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is that it contaminates ground water and it causes earthquakes.” Rob Port notes, though, that British Scientists Find Fracking Concerns Have Been Blown Out Of Proportion.

Such findings are not new. There is an historical record and many other studies. That doesn’t stop the ‘green’ movement that is against hydrocarbon energy production – and nuclear – and almost any major energy source – as a general thing. The tactic is one that is easily visible.

The problem? These risks are exaggerated by environmentalists for political gain

This isn’t to say that study into the environmental impact of fracking shouldn’t continue, or that certain prudent regulations shouldn’t apply, but it does indicate that much of the hysteria surrounding fracking just isn’t warranted.

That it is, in fact, born more of the strain of environmentalism that seeks to obstruct certain types of energy development as opposed to merely seeking protections for the environment.

One only has to look at nearly any headline about Fukushima where the power plant is featured rather than the after effects of tsunami and earthquake. Or one can look at climate alarmism. FUD mongering – spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt, is why that old fable about crying wolf is a lesson to heed.

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Shame? In politics?

Media hit pieces on political candidates – mud slinging – are as old as campaigning itself. It seems that ‘ugly’ does not have any line that will not be crossed. In the Republican presidential primaries campaigns, new lows have been established. First is was unsubstantiated claims to impugn Herman Cain. Now, Gingrich is the target. Ed Morrissey describes the situation as Gingrich blasts ABC for airing interview with ex-wife as ABC starts drip strategy.

Unless there are some revelations of political malfeasance, this should be a nothingburger, but it’s hard to know how people will react to this.

It is, however, supremely unfair of Marianne to dump this on the race now — not to Newt, but to voters who sincerely backed Gingrich.

Her relative silence in 2011 gave voters the impression that she had nothing to add to the debate over who should represent the GOP in the presidential race.  It’s also unfair to her former stepdaughters who have been working tirelessly for their father for the last several weeks to help broaden Newt’s appeal, and for Newt’s grandchildren who have to hear about this now.  It’s also a large dollop of hypocrisy from the national news media who ignored reports of an ongoing affair involving John Edwards during the 2008 presidential campaign itself, complete with love child, until the National Enquirer ended up scooping everyone else.  Suddenly a 12-year-old affair is prime-time news?  It’s hard to come to any other conclusion that the party affiliation makes a big difference.

It is not just a bitterness about a divorce just as it is not about relationship fantasies of a subordinate. It is about major media outlets that use these people for a political agenda and plan and present it to not only maximize impact on the campaign but also to gain them best audience. As long as the public at large eats it up, it will likely continue and the search for similar – or worse – dirt will strengthen.

At least, there is more notice of the comparison and contrast. In terms of marital fidelity with candidates and office holders, there is a good sample to serve as a referent and that referent serves not only for candidate character but also for media character. A similar process can be seen in regards to business practices and wealth.

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Tone deaf? Government control, politicans, and the technicians in dissonance

It’s from the say-what-now? department at TechDirt: Harry Reid Says He’s Concerned PIPA Will Break The Internet, But We Must Move Forward With It, Because Of ‘Jobs’.

The ‘because of jobs’ thing should be a dead giveaway as that is the knee jerk rationale for anything a politician wants to do right now.

What’s stunning is how misleading Senator Reid is being here. First, he claims that the bill is about “jobs,” despite a total lack of evidence that that’s true. In fact, as has been noted plenty of times here, the part of the economy that is creating jobs — the startup/tech sector — is the one who gets burdened by this bill.

Next he claims that he’s working with Senator Feinstein on this, since she’s “in the middle” of the issue, representing both Northern and Southern California, where the issue is loudest. This would be the same Senator Feinstein who is so tone deaf to what’s happening in her own state, that just weeks ago she insisted that she didn’t know the tech industry was upset about the bill.

It’s such a politician’s response: he pretends that he’s in agreement with the concerns of everyone… but then immediately admits he’s ignoring those concerns and pushing forward with a bad bill, which he clearly never understood, and which it appears he just found out there was criticism around, despite the fact it’s been going on for months.

One problem is that all politicians get painted with the sort of intellectual confusion that has typified Reid and Feinstein on this issue and on many others. This particular essay may be a step in the right direction in that it identifies specific behaviors of specific individuals. The pull of bigotry though, appears to be very strong and the essay ends back up on “politicians” and the persons as do many of the comments. That approach is one reason why Reid and Feinstein were elected to office in the first place.

This is a key that can be used to qualify arguments. When the focus is on the person or some labeled group and not on a specific behavior or policy, then you know that intellectual integrity is not at the forefront of the considerations. That is when you have to filter out the ad hominem to get to what it is that is really at stake.

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Guilt by association

One of the ways the climate alarmists support the propagation of their viewpoint is by comparisons to the debate about creationism.

On Monday, the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit group that denounces intelligent design and supports an evolution-only curriculum in the classroom, will expand its mission. The organization of scientists, anthropologists and others is turning its attention to climate change, and it will mount an aggressive effort to teach the nation’s schoolchildren that climate change is real and is being driven by human activity.

“For 20 years, we’ve helped teachers cope with what we can only describe as societal or political problems in teaching evolution. They’re running into the same opposition in teaching climate change,” NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott said. “We worry, because of our experience with evolution, that basic science is going to be compromised as a result of this political and ideological opposition. Good science needs to be taught.” [Washington Times]

As with any propaganda effort, the need is to get the young first:

With no legal defense, the NCSE and other groups instead will launch a public relations effort. If it is successful, climate change skeptics could become a small minority and might be derided for their beliefs.

So, if you have questions about the climate record, about the methods used to collect climate data, how climate data is processes, the efficacy of models, or other skepticism regarding the conclusion that there is a human caused climate disaster coming soon, you suffer from irrational “beliefs” just like the creationists do. The matters of the evidence and how they differ in these two cases is enough to raise suspicion about what psychiatry calls projection. The weaknesses in the evidence are similar between creationism and climate alarmism and this seems to be twisted around in some minds trying to defend their belief that humans are causing a climate catastrophe. That alone should raise questions as psychological defenses are symptomatic of behavior trying to deal with the consequences of a lack of intellectual integrity.

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Sinful passions? Just how much stimulus is needed?

Mark Galli describes Why the Bible is Not a Book of Moral Laws. Contrary to popular belief, it’s the startling gift book. He touches on the nature of Christianity, spreading the word, and the state of grace but the message also has implications for the imposition of values and behavior standards.

If one thing is clear in Scripture it is this: The law cannot justify us. Trying to submit to it, or trying to make others submit to it, only makes things worse. In fact, proclaiming the law and its authority—even its biblical authority!—will work the exact opposite of the effect we intend. As Paul put it, law only arouses our “sinful passions” (Rom. 7:5). Tell me I have to do something, have to submit to some standard or law, and I only want to rebel. That’s what the Bible teaches about human nature. And our experience with law confirms it every day. So the more we use the Bible as a legal bludgeon, the more people are going to rebel against it.

the first point of biblical faith is not law but grace, not obedience but forgiveness. The Bible’s authority is not grounded in its commands and doctrines but in its startling message of good news. If you start with the demands of doctrines and ethics, you end up with a fearful and unforgiving church, and a God nobody wants anything to do with. But if you start with that wonderful message—that God has provided a Savior for us, the morally unmoored!—then all manner of doctrines and ethics naturally spring forth, doctrines and ethics that foster freedom and life.

Consider these ideas in light of the recent efforts to prohibit cell phone use while driving or the court’s OK of Sharia law in Oklahoma. It is one thing to force one’s standards on others and it is another to lead them to righteousness. There is a need in society to ‘force’ certain behavior standards and deal with the response. What is a concern today is a two pronged attack on Christian and Biblical values. On one side there is the Sharia law thing and on the other is the removal of anything with the taint of Christian or Biblical sources from public property. These efforts are stimulating a response that creates social frictions. So far, it hasn’t lead to mass murder and terrorism, but there is reason to be concerned about just how far it can go before the response does rise to a level to match the stimulus. Just what will be the “sinful passions” that arise from church burnings and the persecution of Christians in Africa and the mid-east; from the repression of free speech in the public square; and from the ridicule of belief in the major media?

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Desecration of the dead in war and modern outrage

Dan Murphy provides some perspective that often seems missing: Marines urinating on the dead? This is war.

The video that emerged online this week was filmed by the participants, yucking it up as they urinate on the dead bodies of presumed insurgents – whose bare feet and tattered clothes are a sharp contrast to the well-equipped Americans. Next to them lies a small, overturned wheelbarrow.

While callous and shocking to the vast majority of Americans who have never been anywhere near combat, I felt no surprise watching the video. Only sadness.

It’s another case of being caught by the camera. As cameras get cheaper, less expensive, and smaller, these sorts of things are being captured more often and widely distributed via video web sites to broad audiences. That means more fodder for faux outrage by those who don’t have a very good grip on reality.

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Misleading metrics, growing pains, and creative destruction

The problem with the entire discussion is that jobs are being used as the only measure of the “good” done by Romney. Profits are also good as they allow companies to grow and as they return capital to investors who can then fund the creation or growth of other companies. Indeed, despite our being surrounded by Keynesian-thinking politicians who believe that nothing is as important as consumers having spending money, the indirect benefits to society of profits to investors are arguably at least as large as the indirect benefits of employment.

It’s another one on the self immolation in the Republican party on the topic of capitalism: Ross Kaminsky on Creative Destruction, Properly Understood.

If you want tomorrow to be different from today, some things of yesterday will have to go away. There will be growing pains as that happens. Horses and their infrastructure (including all the jobs that were a part of it) disappeared from cities as automobiles took over. Many farmers have lost jobs as the productivity per acre and per man-hour has increased many-fold due to better knowledge and better machinery and better techniques. Many times, the only way to find out what works and what doesn’t is via trial and error. Losing the error is being called ‘creative destruction.’

As Cox and Alm put it, “The disruption of lost jobs and shuttered businesses is immediate, while the payoff from creative destruction comes mainly in the long term. As a result, societies will always be tempted to block the process of creative destruction, implementing policies to resist economic change.

“Attempts to save jobs almost always backfire. Instead of going out of business, inefficient producers hang on, at a high cost to consumers or taxpayers. The tinkering shortcircuits market signals that shift resources to emerging industries. It saps the incentives to introduce new products and production methods, leading to stagnation, layoffs, and bankruptcies. The ironic point of Schumpeter’s iconic phrase is this: societies that try to reap the gain of creative destruction without the pain find themselves enduring the pain but not the gain.”

The current campaign is all about abandonment of principle for the appeasement of an electorate assuming that that electorate can only see short term gratification. With record setting budget deficits and financial difficulties and a European example of the end game in the spotlight, worries are becoming near frantic in some circles. The sort of political opposition typified in the attacks on capitalism on feed those worries.

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Romney, Bain, and the coulda’ woulda’ shoulda’ people

There seems to be a big problem understanding capital these days. Romney’s competitors have decided to attack him because he lead a capital management firm involved in raising money for start-ups (venture capital) and injecting capital into failing businesses in order to try to turn them around.

Being involved in the turmoil of business where the strong grow and prosper and the weak whither and die provides ammunition for those who can only see the ‘whither and die’ part. That trends towards the leftist view of things and the Romney competitors who engage in such things are being called out for their socialist tendencies that emulate the current administration’s point of view of business and economic growth.

Rick Newman at US News has a good description of just what Romney’s job at Bain Capital entailed and why it might be an asset for a President in What Mitt Romney Learned From Killing Jobs.

Fixing the mismatch between the outdated skills many workers have and the modern skills companies need is one of America’s biggest challenges. As somebody who fired thousands of workers—or presided over companies while others did the firing—Romney knows intuitively how to spot obsolete workers or even whole departments, and sweep them out of the way. That means he also knows what makes workers valuable to their companies, and what in turn makes companies valuable to their shareholders.

The movie Pretty Woman is along this line. That, fitting Hollywood proclivities, is all about taming the ruthless capital manager. His business was that of buying distressed companies and finding ways to make a profit doing so. In the movie, he arrives at a ‘softer side’ in deciding to rescue and recover the business instead of parting it out. The capital rescue business is equated to the prostitution business – take the money and move on.

The idea is much in line with the current views of war that see only the casualties and never the achievements. With Romney, the focus is on people ‘fired’ or laid off as their business folds. It is not on the employment gained as companies grow and expand and on the creation of wealth that such growth entails for society as a whole.

The attacks on Romney’s private-sector record may now make him wish Bain had been more delicate with some of its companies. He can’t change the past, but he could certainly improve on past behavior and become more compassionate in the future.

Remember Bush and the idea of “compassionate conservatism?”

Sometimes, especially with emotionally difficult decisions, cold hard – and harsh – action may ultimately end up being less costly in both emotional as well as financial terms.

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Who ya’ goin’ to believe? Air pollution worst in nation everywhere?

One of the real howlers in this excerpt is what I call the “reverse Lake Woebegone Effect,” namely, that Pittsburgh’s air is among “the worst in the nation.” Turns out the American Lung Association’s annual report on air pollution—a shoddy report I’ve repeatedly called “a smoldering stogie of misinformation”—always has local versions of a press release that say each metropolitan area suffers from “some of the worst air pollution” in the nation. I did a Nexis search for the phrase “smog” and “some of the worst” a few years ago, and discovered the phrase in press coverage in dozens of American cities. Of course, if everyone has about the same level (which is true for just about every place except the region that actually does have the highest air pollution levels—California), then no one has air that is notably “worse” than everybody else. But it’s always good for the harum-scarum narrative that environmentalists and regulators can’t do without.

The Journal story is entirely typical of media malpractice for its complete absence of data. Reporters ought to ask—but never do—what the underlying trend is, and how ambient conditions measure up against Clean Air Act standards.

Instead, it is up to the critical and reasoning reader like Steven Hayward at Powerline to note how The Journal Blows a Story.

If you actually look at the measures, you’ll find that environmental cleanliness has improved over the last several decades on many fronts. That should be the real story but it doesn’t fit the line that the most vocal ideologues want to peddle.

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Both sides do it?

Patterico: In Mocking Santorum, Eugene Robinson Reveals A Sickness in Our Society

But the problem is not just that some leftists can’t understand the love that some people feel for their unborn children — or for their children who (like Sarah Palin’s son Trig) were born with disabilities. What really infuriates is the contempt they show for parents who make different choices than they would . . . and the smug arrogance with which they pronounce judgment on the most intimate aspects of others’ private lives.

What Robinson has done, and what Colmes did the other day, is indecent. These men would never say such a thing to Santorum’s face. (Or maybe they would
— which is possibly even worse.) What sickness has invaded our body
politic that people feel free, not only to act the cretin, but to do so
on national television while sporting insufferable, supercilious,
self-satisfied smirks like those we have seen on the mugs of Colmes and
Robinson in recent days?

In short: how dare they? How dare they?!

That “smug arrogance” almost seems to be a hallmark and, no, both sides don’t do it – there are clear patterns here.

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