Archive for July, 2012

Mountains and molehills: Update on the climate brouhaha

“And it’s the global mean temperature that the global warming doctrine is all about. Even James Hansen and others were trying to talk about the global temperature. Many of us have criticized this obsession with the global averages – which no one experiences in his or her life and which are artificial quantities that unnaturally hide the huge regional “noise” normally known as the weather (which makes a one-degree change of the global average or local temperatures negligible). But it’s true that the climate alarmism is all about the global averages, alarmists have almost always talked about the global averages (except for times of good enough heat waves in the U.S. when they love to suggest that the whole “problem” is about the U.S. temperatures), and the paper by Watts et al. – even if it is accurate – changes almost nothing about the global trend.”

Luboš Motl has a good summary of the Muller ‘conversion of a skeptic’ story and the Watts new paper announcement hype. Have Muller or Watts transformed the AGW landscape? describes both stories. It doesn’t seem much has changed.

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“Disconcerting” vs “You didn’t build that” – a matter of polishing the narrative

“There are many other examples of excoriating the Romney’s comments, but also failing to provide a contextual video or an actual quote. Fundamental to the ‘polishing’ process is the misrepresentation. Contrast that style with the discussions about the Obama comments regarding who built that business. Those journalistic discussions are nearly always accompanied by video evidence and context.”

Bruce Johnson calls it The Liberal Media’s Shiny Object Factory. It does provide a rich source of comparison and contrast for the ‘both sides do it’ meme.

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What Romney’s up against

The headlines are indicative: The Guardian says “Romney campaign tries to pick up the pieces from gaffe-strewn London visit” and US News asks “Are Romney’s Olympic Gaffes Distracting From His Foreign Policy Tour?”

What’s up? Piers Morgan explains the reality on YouTube. What you have is the media proclaiming “gaffe-strewn” a mild comment by a politician summarizing complaints that were in public discussion for weeks.

You can see the same thing regarding the gun control issue trying to parlay the latest massacre into political gain. It is what candidates on the right are up against, especially when their opponents are weak.

Then are the reports that Romney donors and those people appearing in his ads are being subject to harassment. That and the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha provide examples about the suppression of free speech that doesn’t fit with left oriented ideologies.

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Consequences: media edition

“Just what does a reporter have to do to get fired from ABC News? So far, it doesn’t look like spreading false and malicious rumors on air in order to tie an innocent and legitimate political movement to a massacre meets the criteria.”

Another tragedy, another media revelation. Ed describes the situation at Hot Air.

After many such episodes, which collectors are starting to list and organize, you’d think the idea that reporters should report rather than speculate and extrapolate might sink in.

The comparison and contrast is to Fox News and the assault on that organization for bias and lying and such things. In one case, there are many explicit and important examples such as this latest example. In the other, there are vague allegations that boil down to, more than anything, just a difference of opinion. (cf Fox News Banned From Canada – Law Forbids Lying On Broadcast News)

Freedom of the press just means that it is up to the people to determine what is reporting and what is propaganda. Some seem to think that that effort might be too much for the common man. That underscores the difference in ideologies at play in modern culture.

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The Roanoke Speech: there’s more.

At Wizbang is a rundown on what the President actually said in That Obama Speech.It was a 42 minute 5,000 word speech and, no, his political adversaries are not misquoting. There is a lot more meat in the speech as well if someone is looking for deceit, dishonest, and socialism.

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A look at the ‘both sides the same’ rationalization

Change is happening and it is leaving some behind. Whether it is the Mainline Churches or the political parties, there are folks who feel their organization took off and left them. Senator Lieberman is one of those folks. Ed Morrissey tells the story Lieberman: This is not your father’s Democratic Party

“And hasn’t been for some time, apparently. Senator Joe Lieberman had enough standing in his party to win the nomination for VP in 2000. By 2006, Lieberman had to run as an independent to keep his Senate seat, and while he still caucuses with the Democrats, the independent label fits better. Lieberman tells Howard Kurtz that the warning signals began almost a decade earlier”

As is usually with these sorts of obligations, there are some (many) who try to paint over the negatives with a logical fallacy. In this case, it’s the ‘both sides do it’ type of changing the benchmarks.

“Of course, we have to get the golly-both-parties-have-gotten-extreme comment, and Kurtz obliges about halfway through his article:”

No, both sides are not the same. Being able to detect differences is an important capability for anyone seeking to learn about reality.

At least the Boy Scouts appear to be sticking to their moral ideology …

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Church left me: Presbyterians losing against activits’ pressure

Mark Tooly describes the situation. The most recent big deal is that Presbyterians Reject Same Sex Marriage. For now. That was only one issue on the table.

“The usual cavalcade of liberal political stances were approved, including support for the Occupy Movement and recognizing environmental protection as an “essential” part of Christian faith. Presbyterians, evidently worried about spankings, even voted against corporal punishment for children.

One evangelical caucus, Presbyterians for Renewal, after the General Assembly regretted the “determination of the Left to press their ideological agenda” despite “collateral damage” to churches and the denomination’s global witness.”

The Church has lost half its membership since its peak in the 1960′s.

“The membership spiral will continue. But for the moment, Presbyterians are cautiously unwilling to follow Episcopalians straight off the cliff by fully endorsing same-sex marriage. And an orthodox remnant seems determined to persevere despite adversity, which is very Presbyterian.”

There is a pushback for traditional religious values. Presbyterian churches in other countries warn the U.S. Church that one consequence of its actions will be increased isolation.

But it seems that those seeking to modify the Church to endorse failed social policy just don’t care about such plebian things as membership. They seem to just want a rationalization for their immoral behavior and fantasy.

Additional reading on Amazon (no endorsement but your taking a look will help this website at no cost to you)”: Voting as a Christian: The Social Issues (2012). A scholar describes what the Bible says about current social issues — Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith (2006). Maybe the traditional church still has a viable base — How to Mobilize Church Volunteers (1983). Moving members from sitting in the pew to being active volunteers is a management task with a long history. Here’s some advice on how to do it.

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All is not as it seems: the world is changing in strange ways

“Who would have thought that a few fracking innovators in Texas would change the world’s carbon footprint far more than did Nobel laureate Al Gore — while offering a way for the U.S. to be energy-independent? Or that Angela Merkel, not the European Union, would run Europe? Or that Arabs would be overthrowing Arabs as oil-rich Israel watched idly?”

Professor Hanson says we are On the verge of earth-shattering change. He notes that there is something special about the U.S. “that periodically offers the world cutting-edge technologies and protocols” of the sort that become game changers. It is something for those who think the U.S. is in decline need to keep in mind.

For more: VDH search on Amazon – check it out!

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Made in China and killing the goose

Nevada Senator Reid recently threw a tantrum because the US Olympic team uniforms were made in China. The resentment against non-US manufactured items is quite intense. If emotion is set aside however, the question that should be asked is why there are so many things made elsewhere sold in the U.S. The answer to that question is not as simple as the conspiracy idea usually offered. Overlawyered describes one factor in how Litigation kills gas can manufacturer.

“An American producer is bankrupt because it couldn’t idiot-proof its product sufficiently to ward off the attentions of our product liability system. The next gas can you buy will probably come from somewhere like China, whose manufacturers are apt to be less reachable by American plaintiffs.”

This is just one example of how the U.S. seems to be trying to re-learn the fable about the goose that laid golden eggs. It seems that the current political campaign is all about killing the goose to find the gold (e.g. ‘tax the rich’) or doing what we can do to make that goose healthy and productive so as to keep laying golden eggs.

Looks like Amazon has some additional reading on this: The Decline and Fall of the American Entrepreneur: How Little Known Laws and Regulations are Killing Innovation appears to be an Amazon Prime Kindle loaner, The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Economy: How Liberals and Conservatives Both Got It Wrong is a bit more academic (note the ‘both sides do it’ problem), quite a bit more expensive, and looks at economic policy rather than business headaches.

It appears to be a significant case of dissonance between killing the goose and trying to keep it going. The ‘made in China’ problem can be a good study for understanding its source.

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Logical fallacies: Monckton provides training by example

If you don’t toe the line with regard to the idea of human caused catastrophic global climate change, you set yourself up for an onslaught. Christopher Monckton uses the onslaught against him as a means to tutor the ignorant about logical fallacies. See Monckton’s reply to Eos on Climate Denial

“I am grateful to the editors of Eos for this right of reply to Corbin and Katz (Effective Strategies to Counter Campus Presentations on Climate Denial, Eos, 2012 July 3), an unjustifiable 1200-word personal attack on Dr. Giaever and me by way of a mélange or smørgasbord of the shop-worn logical fallacies of argument ad populum, ad verecundiam, and, above all, ad hominem.”

If you wonder what those Latin terms actually means, Monckton provides labeled examples. What would cause people trained in scientific inquiry and intellectual integrity to escape to such realms of false reasoning?

“The authors also say we attempt to discredit their research when, as philosophers of science from al-Haytham via Huxley to Popper (1934) make clear, error-elimination by questioning of hypotheses is essential to the scientific method. They describe “strategies” to counter us – including “public displays” and “social media” – which surely belong more in the realm of political propaganda than of scientific discourse.”

It does seem that a need for “political propaganda” has overrun nearly every other consideration these days.

At Amazon, see Politics and Propaganda: Weapons of Mass Seduction or Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion. For more on logical fallacies, see The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning or The Philosopher’s Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods (Wiley Desktop Editions) for a more scholarly approach. (check ‘em out – affiliate links, no promises, doesn’t cost you anything, helps support these whispers).

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Matters of testimony and good advice re the Zimmerman case

“When local, state, or federal law enforcement officers are involved in a shooting, they are immediately told not to say anything about the shooting to investigators for at least two to three days — more importantly, two to three sleep cycles – -after the incident. The same advice holds true for civilians with competent attorneys. The reasoning behind this delay is based upon how the mind stores and accesses memories of high-stress events, and how the same chemical cocktail of hormones that triggers the “fight or flight” response impedes the accurate collection of those memories. There are numerous incidents of police officers being interviewed after an event and having no recollection of even the highly significant act of firing their gun, or of providing investigators a widely inaccurate underestimate of the number of shots fired.”

This provides a recipe to avoid ‘heat of the moment’ witness error courtesy Bob Owens. His topic is about how the George Zimmerman Lynching Further Unravels and the point involves Zimmermans cooperation with authorities and the rather inflammatory statements and abuse of position of those involved in his prosecution.

“All actual physical evidence, medical evidence, and eyewitness statements suggest that Zimmerman’s account of the significant events of that night can be corroborated, and that an overzealous investigator and politically minded prosecutor have manufactured a second-degree murder case that never should have been filed.”

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Privacy for me, not thee?

“Politicians recognize they give up a degree of privacy when they run for office.

But Democrats are testing the outer limits of that understanding with a practice that raises questions about when campaign tracking becomes something more like stalking.”

Politico thinks GOP unnerved by Democrats’ candid camera techniques.

The left side of the aisle has been establishing a history of ‘taking it home’ and moving their protests from the public sphere into their opponents living and bedrooms.

“Democrats, on the other hand, insist the videos are fair game — and are unapologetic about the hardball tactics.

They say showcasing the homes — most of which are spacious and neatly maintained — underscores what will be a key avenue of attack for the party this fall: communicating that Republicans just can’t relate to economically struggling voters.”

In other words, it is all about envy and greed. You trash your own neighborhood and let your house go to weeds and rot and then try to stir up hate by showing what those with discipline and industriousness have.

It is particularly interesting that those invading the privacy of their political opponents tend to be the most vociferous about their own privacy.

Yes, there is a difference and it does run deep.

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A step forward in health care up against a strong wind?

“This crushing of free market HSAs is consistent with the liberal idea of creeping socialism. They will not exterminate the free market in one day, or even one year, but over a long drawn out period of time. The slow creep to socialism is difficult to stop, because it is incremental and done in small steps and by quiet bureaucrats who you will never hear about.”

Brian Darling describes Health Savings Accounts Under Attack. The HSA was one effort to move decisions about health care down to the consumer in order to reduce costs, improve competition, and improve quality. The idea has been successful but it doesn’t fit with the idea that government should take care of you.

“Many conservatives understand that ObamaCare was drafted in such a way as to deftly move people out of the private health market and into a government-run system. Individuals and small business HSAs policyholders appear to be the first guinea pig in this experiment.”

In other words, the currently debated health care act places penalties and costs on HSA’s that are a part of the effort to move towards a single payer (i.e. government) run health care system from the top down rather than the HSA bottom up orientation.

It is another example of a proven solution being set aside for ideological fantasies,

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A vigorous Congress stymied by calling it a tax?

“So the effect may be to make it impossible for Congress to act vigorously in many areas going forward, because one power source has been cut off and the one that has been allowed is not practically useful.”

Howard Wasserman considers the implications of the SCOTUS only being able to find a Constitutional rationale in social reform is as a tax.

“We are in a period in which no one in Congress wants to enact anything called a tax. First, it makes it impossible to get any Republicans on board, given the influence of the Tea Party and/or Grover Norquist and the generalopposition to all taxes. Second, it is political death because a tax always can and will be demogogued into a “tax increase” and used to bludgeon any official to death in the next election.”

From reading the Federalist Papers, it appears that this was an intended check on the powers of the Government. A Congress acting “vigorously” was seen as a threat and the reactions of the people to taxes was considered a limitation on Congressional over-reach.

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Judicial oligarchy?

“Justices like John Roberts epitomize the vast difference between judicial review and judicial supremacy/tyranny. In the ObamaCare ruling, he has dumped the health care issue right back into the laps of the American people and their elected representatives. That is exactly where it belongs.”

“This ruling should not be seen as a defeat for the American people or as an imposition of tyranny, as some are shouting. It should be regarded as, hopefully, the beginning of a new era in American jurisprudence, a time when judicial review comes to be applied prudently, sparingly — and rarely.”

Paul Jacobson describes his take on John Roberts v. ObamaCare: An Apologia. His take is that the restraint to overturn a law provides a marker for the journey away from a judicial oligarchy. The key idea is that the court minimized meddling in the actions of the other branches of government. With PPACA, the court upheld rights of states against undue federal government pressure and clarified the nature of the debate about just what the ‘individual mandate’ really was.

In both of the major issues, a matter of proportionality was considered. For the states in regard to Medicaid, it was about just how much monetary support was involved in pushing states to go along with the federal efforts. With the individual mandate issue, the matter rested on a comparison between the cost of health insurance versus the ‘tax’ to be imposed if one did not purchase any.

The nature of the debate changed, not the law. That means that the political arguing may be more honest. The PPACA was pushed through Congress with significant confusion about exactly how it was to be funded, both in selling the act and in procedural mechanisms used to get it through. That confusion is now laid bare and those who depended upon that confusion to support their views can now be held accountable for their dishonesty.

Those who wanted the court to throw out the health care act did get their views examined and even supported. Those who still want the act declared unconstitutional are now forced to resort to defining the appropriate limits to the taxation power of Congress. That debate is not really settled as it involves whether the Constitution’s assertion of ‘general welfare’ includes only enumerated powers or not. That debate got a good start in the Federalist Papers with Madison and Hamilton on either side of it (wikipedia)

Fundamentally, the issue is about the vote of the people. The disappointment is that a small group of judges did not overrule law established by the people’s elected representatives. The question here is whether this shoveling of responsibility from an oligarchy to the people will also apply to such issues as California’s proposition 8 state constitutional amendmendment and other such topics,

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Convicted by the lynch mob instigated by a rogue cop

“Rather than investigate the New Black Panthers or the other criminals making death threats, teams of FBI agents and local investigators have been ordered by Eric Holder’s Justice Department to go around Florida asking about whether anyone has heard George Zimmerman make racist comments. You can’t make this stuff up.”

There are those who have decided he’s guilty even to the point of haggling about whether Zimmerman’s wounds were sufficiently severe as to support his being beaten. New Zimmerman Evidence Removes Any Doubt describes why Arnold Trebach things “George Zimmerman: victim of a liberal racist lynch mob.”

There is a comparison and contrast here but you seldom hear much about the other incidents. Those are the gangs that attack often white victims. In the Zimmerman case, it was made to fit a racist profile – the racism being, as usual, on the part of the left and blacks – even though it turns out that Zimmerman isn’t really ‘white’ despite the name.

A tragedy occured. It is being compounded by a much greater tragedy. The lynch mobs and witch trials still exist and still wreak havoc on civil government.

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Ideologies provide contrasts in behavior

“The double standard on bipartisanship from Democrats is that it only goes one way, whether in the House of Representatives, the Senate or the Supreme Court—the right is expected to move to the left, but the left is not expected to compromise by moving to the right or even closer to the center. The ObamaCare decision is an example of that same one-sided bipartisanship which celebrates liberal Republicans, but shows very little tolerance for conservative Democrats.”

Daniel Greenfield describes the Swingers of the Supreme Court noting that the left side of the bench maintains ideological purity in their decisions while the right side tends to look more at issues, circumstances, and the law. As is being well illustrated in the AG contempt brouhaha, the left paints the other side as political and racist or whatever is handy and they are obstinate in such a defense of their behavior. That is called projection.

What brought this up right now is, of course, the USOC decision about the commerce clause and the ACA or ‘ObamaCare’. There is a lot of wrangling trying to figure just why a ‘conservative’ judge voted with the left on this one. Anthony Ciani provides background in describing The Constitutionality of the ObamaCare Tax

“It comes as a surprise that one of the Supreme Court’s liberty-leaning justices sided with the authoritarians to find that ObamaCare is constitutional. He made the expected finding that the mandate to purchase insurance was unconstitutional, but he found that the penalty for failing to meet that mandate was actually a tax, and therefore constitutional. Considering that a tax is a levy on doing something, it seems strange to find that government can levy a tax on doing nothing, but by using the legal principle of equivalence, it becomes clear that President Obama’s attempt to bring affordable health insurance to all was actually a massive, regressive income tax.”

“The Supreme Court did nothing at all surprising; it upheld our current tax code of social meddling. It has now been firmly established that providing an income tax credit or deduction for engaging in an activity is the same as levying a “penalty” for not engaging in that activity. The Cash for Clunkers tax credit was actually a penalty for not selling your clunker, or not having a clunker to sell. The tax credit for buying a hybrid car was actually a penalty for not buying a hybrid car. The Earned Income Credit is actually a penalty for not being poor. The mortgage interest deduction is a penalty for not having a house. The income tax code is replete with such penalties, or are they taxes?”

“In this ruling, Chief Justice Roberts reminds us of something preeminently important: we, the voters, are the ultimate enforcers of the Constitution, and the ultimate protectors of our liberty and freedom.”

The ‘right’ is trying to rationalize what happened in the USOC decision and is meddling in leftist behaviors. The key in any such process is whether it will stick, as it does on the left, or whether folks will grow out of the grief and get on to healing and repair. Romney’s contribution rate indicates that there are many who have indeed figured out that it is up to them, the voter, to get things back on track. That may mean that those who are obsessed with ruling and USOC hatred may well be moved off to a fringe (with the birthers and similar blind ideologues) and that would be a ‘good thing.’

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The power of belief

“More generally, many people there genuinely believed that almost all scientists are virtually always honest. Those people work with science all day, and yet they seem to have no clue about how science really operates. Overall, I found the session stunningly disheartening: there is an enormous way to go, to get many journalists to appreciate what reality is.”

Anthony Watts reports on the UK Conference of Science Journalists and finds that people often have trouble believing scientists are people as well.

“I think that there are many people like Davis: people who have effectively taken science to be their religion and scientists to be their priests or even gods. Those people are deeply fearful of having their religious beliefs defenestrated. The result is the anti-journalism on display here.”

“For me, the take-home message from the conference is that a large majority of science journalists are extremely naive about scientists. The naivety is so extreme that I suspect it must be partially willful. “

It is about the manner of accountability. This was a major concern addressed in the Federalist Papers when describing known ills of government and methods to minimize them. In science, the peer review process is supposed to provide the front line for this accountability but it fails in that it promotes a cloistered group of individuals with a common interest. As long as mavericks can be kept down, data and methods kept secret, and unpleasantness avoided, the degradation will continue. The I’net, allowing projects such as Watt’s surface station audit and the amateur scientists capability to investigate datasets and algorithms has started to threaten the cloistered groups and that is creating dissonance.

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