Archive for April, 2012

Methods of debate: abusing Twitter spam mechanisms

Cap’n Ed asks. Twitter eats itself?

“It turns out that detractors don’t like engagement … they just like to bully people. Instead of responding to Chris’ arguments, they began organizing an effort to force Twitter into suspending him by reporting his Twitter stream as spam.”

It is an ‘ends justifies the means’ approach where rights and privileges are strained by irresponsibility.

“a self-policing population only works when the population is mature enough to handle the responsibility. Using the spam-reporting mechanism built into Twitter and its after-market applications, liberal activists are succeeding in tricking the Twitter system into suspending the accounts of conservatives

“Now that the Left is abusing the spam mechanism, Twitter will almost certainly have to suspend its use, which means the only people who will win this game are the spammers, and we’ll have no way to deal with the flood of annoying marketing messages.”

Another indicative behavior is that the irresponsible parties are bragging about their efforts and successes. They seem impervious to the consequences of their behavior.

There is pushback and it is not ‘in kind’ – at the Twitchy blog:

“The progressives never expect pushback. But with the back-to-back suspensions of @freemarket_us and @chrisloesch, the conservative activist community online is banding together to Flag the Flag-Spammers for Twitter to see all in one place — no, not by abusing the flag-spam system, but by naming names and showing Twitter the extent of the problem.”

The issue is part and parcel of the Democracy vs Republic debate that the founders debated in creating the form of U.S. governance. The adage is that, once people find out they can vote themselves money, all bets on sanity are off. How do you deal with the fundamental nature of the individual human?

In this case, the irresponsibility expressed in the abuse of systems intended to maintain civility is correlated with the same individuals who have protests about wanting other people’s money, protests where trash and crime are the major evidence left behind. These people have the same approach towards others as those who write computer viruses, breach banking accounts for fun and profit, and find ways around mechanisms established to inhibit annoying solicitations. Laws are being proposed but they are difficult to word in such a way as to avoid unpleasant consequences. The fundamental issue is about people whose behavior is not in line with their ideology.

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Crossing the line. There is a difference

Cap’n Ed says Gawker’s mole at Fox News gets served with search warrant, under investigation for grand larceny. It’s another case of going after an ideological or political opponent and forgetting such niceties as ethics, morality, or, even, the law.

“Via Drudge and Twitchy, just a reminder that your parents were right: what starts in laughter often ends in tears, or in this case, hefty legal bills.  Gawker’s Joe Muto decided to become a “mole” at Fox News and leaked raw video clips to his real employer.  That might sound like a joke to some, but to others — say, prosecutors — it sounds a lot like corporate espionage and grand larceny.  Muto got served this morning with a search warrant on suspicion of the latter charge and watched as his laptop, iPhone, and notebooks got hauled off.”

The Peter Gleick case in which he assumed a false identity to steal governance documents and then came up with a forged document to support his attacks on the Heartland Institute is another example.

There is a comparison and contrast in the original climate researchers communications and methodology notes. Some equate them to assert that both sides do it. The more interesting insight is when you look at the differences.

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Enlightenment: VDH gets past the rose colored glasses

In some circles, the proclivity is to see the best in people. That can create dissonance. You try to figure out how to fit what you see into a paradigm where many ‘bad’ motivations just don’t get much attention. Reality tends to disabuse such situations. Professor Hanson discovers: It Was the Power, Stupid!

“In my dumber days, between 2001-2008, I used to wonder why the Left relentlessly hammered the war on terror (e.g., renditions, tribunals, predators, preventative detention, Patriot Act, intercepts, wiretaps, Guantanamo Bay) when these measures had not only proven quite useful in preventing another 9/11-like attack, but had been sanctioned by both the Congress and the courts. In those ancient times, I was not as cynical as I am now. So I assumed that Harold Koh and, though mistaken, were worried about civil liberties, or measures that they felt were both illegal and without utility.

“But, of course, the Obama (who attacked each and every element of the war on terror as a legislator and senator) Left never had any principled objection at all. Instead, whatever Bush was for, they were in Pavlovian fashion against. I can say that without a charge of cynicism, because after January 2009, Obama embraced or expanded every Bush-Cheney protocol that he inherited. In response, the anti-war Left simply kept silent, or indeed vanished, or went to work extending the anti-terrorism agenda. Guantanamo Bay, in other words, was a national sin until the mid-morning of January 20, 2009.”

Hanson looks at this phenomena and his own ‘enlightenment’ and concludes that the political campaign this year won’t be the usual. As has been seen in the many political attacks on the right, from Limbaugh’s war on women to Romney’s dog vacation to the Zimmerman defense, there will be a parry and it won’t be reserved.

“But at least 2012 won’t be a default campaign. In other words, to quote Obama, Romney will get in “their faces” and “bring a gun to a knife fight.” McCain more graciously and nobly lost by putting all sorts of concerns off the table. I would expect that should Obama keep harping about Romney’s tax returns, Romney will demand Obama’s transcripts and medical records at last to be released. If Obama’s surrogates keep writing about Mormonism, we will learn of new disclosures about Trinity Church. For every Mormon bishop who said something illiberal in 1976, we will hear of a Father Pfleger or Rev. Meeks trumping that in 2007. And so on.”

Social media may play a part. The continuing jokes about dogs show how an issue raised to impugn the Republican candidate are being confronted and how hoist with your own petard is gaining new meaning.

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A milestone in human sloth? Senate vs Budget

MURDOCK: Three years and no Senate budget. Industrious ancestors put to shame our do-nothing Democrats.

“While it has taken Majority “Leader” Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Democrats 36 months to conceive zero budgets, House Republicans have delivered two – one for each year they governed.

“Nonetheless, Mr. Reid said on Feb. 3: “We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year. It’s done. We don’t need to do it.”

“Floor votes would require Senate Democrats to borrow and spend, which annoys taxpayers, or cut outlays, which aggravates liberal lobbyists and porcine government-employee unions. So, Senate Democrats break the law and demand continuing resolutions, which spend on autopilot.

“Meanwhile, consider what focused, energetic humans have completed in less time than Senate Democrats have consumed to accomplish nothing on the budget.”

Examples of what “focused, energetic humans have completed” in less time are provided but the real issue is one of accountability. A budget is a commitment and a referent. Without making any commitments and without any referent for what is being spent, debt can run out of control and scandals and corruption take over. The Senate has been depending upon the idea that no one will hold them accountable as happened to the House in 2010. So perhaps it’s not “human sloth” but rather a carefully calculated risk presuming the worst in the electorate. Are they right?

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Logical fallacies: climate alarmist examples

Monckton takes on the The illogic of climate hysteria citing Aristotle. “The Greek philosopher Aristotle, 2300 years ago, listed the dozen commonest logical fallacies in human discourse in his book Sophistical Refutations.”

“A fallacy is a deceptive argument that appears to be logically valid but is in fact invalid. Its conclusion will be unreliable at best, downright false at worst.

“One should not make the mistake of thinking that Aristotle’s fallacies are irrelevant archaisms. They are as crucial today as when he first wrote them down. Arguments founded upon any of his fallacies are unsound and unreliable, and that is that.

“Startlingly, nearly all of the usual arguments for alarm about the climate are instances of Aristotle’s dozen fallacies of relevance or of presumption, not the least of which is the consensus fallacy.”

Such means of argument are how one convinces one’s self of what one wants to believe. When such arguments are presented to a critical listener, one who can recognize age-old logical fallacies, dissonance occurs. Matters of intellectual integrity have long roots but little has changed when it comes to how people misuse their ability to think and reason.

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50 year legacy of FUD mongering

“Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, has an idea: “We love the horror story. We just love it. The environmental movement has loved it. That, I think, is … [a] strategy failure. And it’s actually not supported by science.”

Soon after “SilentSpring” was released, Carson was, in fact, accused of alarmism, ignoring the science of the day and overlooking the benefits of chemical pesticides. But those aspects of her work have been forgotten.

“Silent Spring at 50” offers a clear perspective on one of the most misguided books of the 20th century. However noble her intentions, “Carson provided the impetus for a half-century of environmental policies that have cost hundreds of millions of lives and elicited antagonism toward many products and technologies that could have benefited the planet and its inhabitants,” says Dr. Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.”

Huggins says ‘Silent Spring’ turns 50, and birds are still singing. Also singing are the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) mongers. They’ve just chosen other targets. Instead of DDT, it’s carbon dioxide, for instance. The cost in following the pied pipers of doom is horrific.

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The Senate and its Budget

There is a 70’s law that requires Congress to pass a budget every year for the U.S. Government. In the last three years, the Senate has blocked any efforts to even put a budget on the table much less debate its provisions or even pass one. The Washington Times reports that the Democrats punt on Senate budget bill for 3rd year

““It’s hard to negotiate with somebody who won’t tell you where they are,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, who said Mr. Conrad was breaking a promise he made to debate and vote on a budget.

Hanging over the discussion is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who had steadfastly said he would not bring a budget to the floor this year — and who, Republicans said, pressured Mr. Conrad into complying.”

This is a case of the people who make the law flouting the law. The reason appears to be strictly political. Putting a budget on the table is putting a target up. It shows your values and principles and priorities. If those values and principles and priorities are such that they make you feel guilty or might cause your constituents to question your behavior, you certainly don’t want them visible.

The House, since the Republicans won a majority in the last election, has offered up a budget. The Republicans in the Senate have pushed for a budget. These efforts stopped at the desk of the Senate majority leader who will not schedule any time for a budget on the floor.

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Schooling as a business: Charter poaching

“I wanted instead to try to focus attention on a very particular issue, raised by a Tennessee superintendent who seems to simply not like the idea of charter schools being approved in his district: poaching.
Essentially, he’s holding up a giant sign that says, “We don’t deserve to survive as an organization.”  Can you imagine the CEO of a private company making this sort of complaint in public?  He’d be laughed at by the public and removed the next day by the board.”

Michael Lopez puts up the issue as Charter poaching, competition, and dignity. He sees the charter schools debate as one of a defense of what cannot be defended.

“Fight about power. Fight about policy. But whining about how competition is going to hand you your hat, and using the assertion that your competitors are better than you are to argue that they shouldn’t be allowed to compete really betrays a lack of dignity.”

The reason why many charter schools are so popular, and many public school administrators so afraid, is about the approach towards meeting the needs of the market (parents). Public schools tend to be ‘top down’ and government driven. Charter schools are bottom up and market driven. When public schools were more local, communities smaller, and state and federal regulations and funding minimal, the top down and governance aspects were also more immediate and intimate. Charter schools, home schooling, and online schooling are a response to this trend to remove the education of children away from the family.

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The attack on the symbol and the appeal of being defenseless

The Trayvon Martin shooting has provided a stimulus for two sets of ideologues. One is the race baiters and the other is the gun-ophobes. The race baiters have taken the lynch mob mentality and stimulate civil unrest and riot. The gun-ophobes are promoting defenseless citizenry by attacking “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws. NRO picks up on the gun-ophobe effort by noting that the laws are Not a ‘License to Murder’.

“these laws are reasonable protections for citizens who defend themselves, and in fact they are unlikely to determine the fate of Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman.

States without these laws typically impose a “duty to retreat.” This means that when a person is attacked, he may not fight back unless he is unable to get away safely. A Castle Doctrine law removes this duty on one’s own property, and a Stand Your Ground law removes this duty in public places, allowing victims to meet force with force.”

The politically correct position right now is empathy for the ‘victim’ even if that victim was realizing risks taken as a perpetrator. This is especially the case of that victim is a member of a protected class. In the Martin case, the protected class is a race. The special prosecutor’s complaint against Zimmerman is of such a nature that it is reminding people of the Duke rape case where the prosecution was so political that it didn’t stand even cursory scrutiny and the ‘rapists’ were up for lynching just ’cause – as has been the case with Martin.

The emotional outbursts obfuscate the issue. Despite assertions by folks such as Bill Cosby, many people carry guns not to go after others and express an inherent racist blood lust, they carry guns out of fear of encountering a mugger or other criminal when there is no one to help them. This is why the Heller case at the SCOTUS cited self defense as a reason for the 2nd amendment. It appears, though, that many seem to want a defenseless citizenry as well as a defenseless nation.

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It’s Bush’s fault, or rather the Cheney Energy Task force

Fracking as a technique to extract oil and gas has created economic boom times in North Dakota and other states where there is private land for oil exploration. This boom is traced back to Cheney’s Energy Success.

“The Cheney Energy Task Force (proper name: National Energy Policy Development Group) consisted of the vice president; the heads of the Office of Management and Budget, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the secretaries of state, the Treasury, the interior, agriculture, commerce, transportation, and energy; and others. Their mission was simply to develop “a national energy policy designed to help bring together business, government, local communities and citizens to promote dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy for the future.” After meeting with about 300 groups and individuals, including representatives from the energy industry and environmental activists, the Task Force published its 169-page National Energy Policy report in the spring of 2001.”

This effort was subject to legal attacks by the left as it was perceived to be a collusion of ‘big oil’ and a secret conspiracy about corruption. Those legal attacks went all the way to the SCOTUS but failed. As usual, failure in the courts did not dent the fantasies.

“On cue, Paul Krugman accused the administration of following “a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes, and isn’t obliged to consult or inform either Congress or the public.””

One of the most important outcomes of the task force is that most regulation was kept at the state level and the EPA was curtailed in its influence on the development of the modern technologies in petrochemical extraction. Despite current administration claims for responsibility, it is private lands and private companies where the recent boom in production has occurred. Limitations on licensing and the regulation on government lands as well as restrictions on offshore drilling have caused a reduction in oil production in those areas.

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Seeking offense even if you have to manufacture it

Foxconn is a manufacturing firm in China that builds the circuit boards and other components for many electronics firms like Apple or Cisco. A while back, there was a ruckus that alleged that the company was a modern day sweatshop. That allegation turned out to be falsely based but it was one that many of those seeking to manufacture grievance, especially about greedy corporations abusing workings with a bonus if it’s in China, really liked. Since the exposure of the nature of the false allegations, Foxconn has been trying to repair the PR damage. TechCrunch notes one effort and says This Is The Best Glimpse Into Foxconn Yet (Video).

“The shroud surrounding Foxconn is slowing being pulled back. Once a very secretive OEM manufacturer, the company has started to let reporters and their cameras inside their facilities in an effort to clear its name. … Schmitz’s videos shows a first-rate manufacturing facility with the most dangerous aspect being the tedious work that comes naturally with mass manufacturing.

Foxconn is currently operating under the world’s eye. After Daisey’s account was found to be more theatrics than facts, activists and rivals mostly took to the sidelines, just waiting for another incident at Foxconn to rekindle the world’s anger. And it will come. Something else will happen at Foxconn that will cause people to raise their arms and yell at Apple while mostly ignoring HP, Dell, Amazon, and all the rest of Foxconn’s clients.”

The effort to find support for the ideology that modern manufacturing is part and parcel of that in the 19th century with children chained to machines and abusive conditions persists. Adherents to that ideology will go to any extreme, it seems, to rationalize their fantasy. That is the same thing that happened to Professor Gleick in regards to his views about climate alarmism. Such strong denial behaviors are a warning to the rest of us.

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The grievance business

Selwyn Duke takes a look at the nature of race relations in Obama’s America: Why Black Grievance Will Never End

“Black minister and head of the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny Jesse Lee Peterson alluded to this when he said that the goal of racial hustlers such as Jesse Jackson is to keep black people angry so that they won’t be able to think clearly.”

“Of course, this phenomenon isn’t unique to black/white relations. It’s evident in Palestinian/Jewish ones, Hutu/Tutsi ones, Turkish/Armenian ones, and many others as well; it’s something that has ever plagued man. And because it has such a long history and can be easily understood, something can be said with confidence: black grievance will never end.”

“And how are they removed? Be you black, white, a Palestinian, or that hypothetical wife, the answer is always the same: forgiveness. When we forgive, the blinding anger dissipates, and we finally see the object of our wrath clearly. Then we often learn that he isn’t quite the monster we once imagined.”

“For the Jeremiah Wrights of the world are much like the Independence Day alien who was asked by the American president, “What is it you want us to do?”

His answer: “Die.””

“As for whites, if our concessions won’t help, what can we do? Well, while we shouldn’t respond to hate with hate or think being on its receiving end absolves us of the obligation to act morally, we could be more forthcoming ourselves. We can start by following Eric Holder’s words, as opposed to his deeds, and cease being cowards on race. This would mean telling black Americans the truth: their problems lie not in their stars — white or otherwise — but in themselves.”

It is the Christian ethos – forgiveness – and it is also standing witness and it is in allowing people to own their own problems. The issues are very similar to those raised in welfare reform in the 90’s and still being hashed out. Just how far do you go to excuse inappropriate behaviors and to try to compensate for an individual’s weaknesses?

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On the nature of governance and its proper limits

“One of the reasons I think that city officials like those in Glendale like to dabble in real estate and sports stadiums is what I call the “bigshot effect.” They don’t have any capital of their own, and they don’t have the skills such that anyone else would (voluntarily) trust them to invest other people’s money, but with a poll of tax money they get to play Donald Trump and act like they are big wheels. The Glendale city council did this for years, and when their incompetence inevitably led to things starting to fall apart, they have simply thrown more money at it to try to protect their personal prestige.”[More Glendale Follies]

This idea seems to be gaining a bit in discussions. It is about the use of money by people who have no stake in that money. They are using other people’s money obtained by coercion and force via taxation and other governmental means. They obtained their position to make decisions by means of popularity rather than success.

The entrepreneur and capitalist, on the other hand, uses his own money and builds on his successes. He may start with a popularity approach in obtaining venture capital but even there, he has to persuade rather than force. The venture capitalists are not going to invest in his efforts unless they think they can get a return for their investment.

The key to any system of governance is to limit and minimize the scope of that government to just those areas where private capital is inappropriate. Defining these areas are one of the major strengths of the U.S. Constitution. Stretching those areas is the stimulus for a concern driving the national debate about health care, energy policy, environment, and issues. What sounds good is one thing. Who should fix it is another. How it should be addressed is another. The core is in visions about the nature of governance and its proper limits.

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A modern disease: corporate envy based on ignorance

The title is a good start: How Can We Disrupt The Cell Carriers? This starts with destruction, not construction. There is a hint that capitalism and its constructive nature is in there, but that is buried under ignorance.

“In my view, the root problem is that there is no competition in the wireless carrier industry. They have no incentive to properly keep up with innovation in the hardware platforms and the application ecosystem. It would be nice to see entrepreneurs focus on disrupting this industry. Conceivably, a company (or set of companies) could emerge to redefine the device away from being a “phone” to something new.”

No competition? There are at least three nationwide networks with many who rent space on them plus there are local and regional carriers.

No incentive? Just what is 4G all about? What about ClearWire and the others who have ideas out there and are trying to leverage new technologies?

There is confusion as well. The essay is about the fact that many portable devices using the cell network are used mostly for data rather than voice. That is an entirely separate issue from the backbone service and from the retail services.

Disruption? One only has to look at the ‘net neutrality’ brouhaha to see massive efforts towards this end. The common themes are to disrupt and destroy and to use a top down (governmental and socialist) ethos to tell others what to do and how to do it. That is a modern disease. The cure for this disease is what brought up the ‘phone isn’t a phone anymore’ phenomena in the first place. That cure is the role of individuals to create both technologies and businesses and create new wealth.

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The U.S. Taboo scene: political correctness, race, and freedom of speech

“Among other things, America is suffocating under the influence of taboos. And the disadvantage of these taboos is not only that they invalidate the claim that the Americans enjoy the freedom of expression when it comes to important social and political matters. In this case, these taboos will lead to the loss of human lives and other negative consequences because Derbyshire’s recommendations are clearly helpful to avoid some very tough situations.”

LuboÅ¡ Motl calls it Freedom of speech in the U.S. is a fantasy when he describes the secondary boycott that got John Derbyshire fired from National Review. The ruckus was reminiscent of that stimulated by Herrnstein’s book

The Bell Curve

. What Derbyshire wrote about was:

“lots of self-evident facts about the double standards concerning who may use the N-word and who can’t (hint: it depends on the color), about the differences in the average concentration of antisocial behavior in between the whites and the blacks, about the differences in the IQ, about the 5% of blacks who are violently anti-white and the 50% of blacks who are prepared to team up with those 5%, and he proposed some safety measures meant to protect the life and health of the white teenagers (as well as the convenience of the other side). He also said the obvious thing that the affirmative action makes the average black employee in an occupation (especially in the government offices where the affirmative action is strong and omnipresent) to be less competent and/or friendly than the average white employee. And citizens needing these services should adapt accordingly. (He says that the DMV lady is not a myth but a statistical truth.)”

There is a denial. Bill Cosby has registered on the situation by claiming that it is the gun Zimmerman had that was the cause of it all and that people with guns are just out to find someone to shoot. A spreadsheet of Baylor Law School admission data was inadvertently released that illustrates the affirmative action problem in universities that also showed up in a study of STEM admissions.

The reality is denied. That does not bode well.

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Secondary boycott

It was the story of Media Matters campaign against Limbaugh but the tactic was not isolated. Nancy Thorner has describes the same tactic in ‘Fakegate’: Climate Change Fanatics Wage War on Dissenters

“A group calling itself “Forecast the Facts” challenged the chairman and CEO of General Motors to defend the company’s foundation’s support of an organization that opposes the teaching of science in public schools.

“On Friday, March 30, General Motors spokesman David Barthmuss succumbed to what amounted to bullying, confirming that the company’s foundation will no longer donate to The Heartland Institute.

“Regarding the loss of General Motors as a source of funding, Heartland CEO Joseph Bast had this to say: “The General Motors Foundation has been a supporter of the Heartland Institute for some 20 years. We regret the loss of their support, particularly since it was prompted by false claims contained in a fake memo circulated by disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick.”

“Bast subsequently told me: “The Left has attacked our donors before, but never had a list, and never had a fake memo to use that made it sound like we were truly evil and deliberately misleading people about our program. That’s what Fakegate provided…and the wacky Left let loose the hounds at “Forecast the Facts.””

It is multi-fronted attack. Go after the individual or organization directly and also go after his support lines. In war it might be appropriate to use deceit and dishonesty but war is all about restruction and rebuilding. Politics is not. The debate for social policy needs to bring people together rather than rend them apart and that is why honesty in debate is necessary.

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The battle is being joined

Mark Stevens was one of those under attack. He decided to make a stand. Volunteers have stepped forward to offer support. Jeffrey Lord tells the tale of Mark Stevens: A Profile in Courage.

“Talking over the phone, Mark was still overwhelmed at the response, and the nature of it. “In the USA,” he mused, here were “ordinary people concerned about my being hurt physically” for the simple act of advertising on Rush Limbaugh’s show. It was almost, he said, as if they feared he were a target of a “Mafia protection” racket. Either he did what his critics demanded — or else.

“”More than that,” he added, was the sense that all of his supporters in this outpouring were frightened that he “has violated the rules of a totalitarian society.” Some e-mails came from professionals, accompanied by photos of badges or official ID with police forces as far away as Los Angeles. Mark understood. He too had developed this uneasy feeling that standing up in today’s America was “like being an outspoken critic of the government under a totalitarian regime.” He paused. “We don’t have it yet,” he mused, “but it’s too much like that.”

“As we have noted here repeatedly, from the French Revolution and its guillotines, to the Russian Revolution and the lists of “enemies of the state” on down through the years to the Nazi’s forcing Jews to wear yellow stars (with still worse to come) and Mao’s Red Guard forcing dissident’s to play “Chinese Roulette” (where a group of dissidents are gathered together but only a random few shot — leaving the survivors with a “bullet of fear” imbedded forever in their mind, guaranteeing their terrified future cooperation) — fear and intolerance are at the very heart of the Left.

“A relative handful of American leftist political terrorists just tried to play the 21st century American version of Chinese Roulette with Mark Stevens. They tried to intimidate him into withdrawing his advertising from The Rush Limbaugh Show.”

People are worried. National Geographic is doing a series about ‘Preppers’ who have taken doom and gloom to an obsession. Others are not planning to run, they are seeking leaders to follow and support in order to join the battle. Mark Stevens was one of those who stepped up. Others will likely follow as an army rises.

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Doing good, whatever the means

One blogger suggested that you’ll see analogies to ‘evil cases’ previously decided by the USOC in order to set the stage for the upcoming decision on Obamacare. Koppelman provides just such an analogy in The 1918 Case That May Have Foreshadowed Obamacare’s Demise at The New Republic.

“What the Court actually accomplished in 1918 was to thwart democracy and consign large numbers of children to the textile mills for more than two decades. Health care is another context in which the fear of federal power creates a serious risk of ravaging the lives of large numbers of actual people. If the law is upheld, no one is going to be forced to buy broccoli. But if the law is struck down, large numbers of people will die of preventable or treatable diseases, or be bankrupted by medical expenses.”

The approach here is similar to that used in the infamous Presidential remarks about judicial review recently. It selects a desired ends and insists that these ends take precedence over all other matters. There are also threats such as were in those remarks:

“The other, and perhaps most important, analogy is that the challengers to the law, ordinary folk who have been persuaded that they are fighting to preserve their liberties, are likely to be badly hurt if they win. They are frightened of federal power, but they really should be frightened of their “friends” who are trying to shake off government regulation.”

The analogy makes several questionable assertions and ignores inconvenient reality. There is the assertion: “Only the federal government could address the issue, since no state would act on its own. Even states that did not want child labor could not afford to get rid of it if their competitors still had it.” The fact is that child labor laws were created in several states and the movement towards such laws in the states grew. The fundamental idea of federalism as defined in U.S. governance is that it is the states that have such powers, not the federal government. Confusing this concept is being used in the Republican presidential primaries in regards to health care where a governor of a state implementing health care legislation is set as equivalent to a president implementing mandatory health care.

The dishonesty in the analogy is also present in the inversion of authority in its argument:

“Both then and now, challengers to the statutes had to propose that the Supreme Court invent new constitutional rules in order to strike them down. At the time it considered the issue in 1918, there was nothing in the Supreme Court’s case law that suggested any limit on Congress’s authority over what crossed state lines.”

The issue is not about rules to strike down federal powers but rather where to find permission for the federal government to assume such power. The Constitution of the U.S. does not restrict the people, rather it restricts the government. If the government wants to do something, it needs to show where it has permission to do so as defined in the Constitution. That is what judicial review is all about as it is where a complaint can force the government to show how it has permission to do something.

The ‘do-gooders’ tend to approach problems from the top yet the history of the United States illustrates that more success is achieved from the bottom up. Prohibition is one example where the Constitution was amended so judicial review was not an issue. It still failed. Federal powers are those of a sledge hammer. That sort of tool is not appropriate when building houses. Federalism is all about choosing the right tool for the job,

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caveats: be suspicious when you see this approach

Chet asks: Knee-jerk science? and illustrates several behaviors that should raise skepticism.

First up is the ‘both sides do it’ moral equivalency presumption. “If you want to find believers and deniers, you will discover them almost exclusively on the political left and right, respectively. For most people engaged in the debate, data is irrelevant.” This is interesting in that much of the debate is about the data and its processing. Watts, for instance, is well known for his surface stations project. Mann’s hockey stick is all about proxies and data representation being statistically manipulated.

Second is the appeal to authority: “An extremely broad international scientific consensus exists.” The problem here is the comment that “global climate is horrendously difficult to model, with many variables and feedbacks — and not all scientists agree on the answers“. If you can’t agree, how can you have consensus? Perhaps it is in that area of “variables and feedbacks” that the debate exists?

Third is the selective taint of funding. “And, to be fair, we should provide particular scrutiny to research funded, for example, by tobacco, pharmaceutical and energy companies with vested interests in outcomes; scientists, after all, are human.” The problem with climate research is that nearly all the funding is via government grants rather than “companies with vested interests”. The major vested interest defined in the climate alarmism effort is ideological and political. Those who feed that animal are the ones that get funded for their livelihood.

Finally, there is the use of the term deniers to label those skeptical of climate alarmism. That is a loaded term and harkens to the straw man idea that those opposed to climate alarmism deny such things as climate change or the effect of carbon dioxide in heat exchange. Using such a term hides the fact that the issues at hand are matters of appropriate skepticism. The use of ‘deniers’ is an attempt to minimize and dismiss those who question the orthodoxy. That such extreme measures are being used to defend ideas tends to illustrate just how weak they are.

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It’s what you are up against trying to discuss issues in an ideological fog

W. Connolley illustrates the major difficulty in modern discourse about complex subjects in More trash from Watts. “Well, so what’s new with that, I hear you say? And indeed, not much is the answer. But its a saturday night so some knock-about fun is in order.

Title and first paragraph: ad hominem and ridicule. Then there’s “Not because they care about the science” which delves into motivations and more personal attributes. The conclusion “Watts has been obliged to update his post, but is still in denial, errm, which is exactly where he is supposed to be so that is all right then, best beloved” is a matter of jumping to a general conclusion based on one incident without any substantial support. What is that support? The authors of the paper in question claim misrepresentation and assert:

“Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming,” completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.””

The problem here is the straw man (“anthropogenic warming trend”) and the reason why the paper was noticed by Watts. That reason is that Medieval Warm Period has been dismissed by climate alarmists as a local phenomena and the paper in question does note that it occurred in a disparate location. This is a ‘null hypothesis’ test, not an extrapolation.

The key here is that, rather than try to address the subject, Connolley addresses the person in the debate and uses ad hominem, ridicule, and misrepresentation. That approach does not bode well for honest discussion.

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