Archive for August, 2012

The latest fad – fact checking – like the old fad – lacking integrity

From the response, it appears that Paul Ryan hit a few nerves in his convention speech. The surface media is full of headlines about fact checking finding falsehoods. Ed explains the problem: Fact-checking the factcheckers on Ryan’s speech

“Clearly, the job of “fact checker” in the mainstream media must not involve research skills. Nor does it take much in comprehension, because these supposed fact checks started with a misrepresentation of what Ryan actually said. “

Ann Coulter provides another example in asserting that Yes, Romney’s Welfare Ad Is Accurate. “It is striking that everyone who actually knows something about the 1996 welfare reform law says that Romney’s ad is accurate.” Yet there are ‘fact checkers’ who insist otherwise.

The key item to note, to compare and contrast, in both Ed’s and Ann’s columns compared to the allegations of those such as Reich and the so called fact checkers is that they get down to sources. What was actually said and upon what is it based? When they take on the ‘fact checkers’ they show you who said what so you can see for yourself what the reality really is. That is a contrast to the use of logical fallacies, misquoting, or other distortion often found in trying to dismiss someone as untruthful.

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Beyond racism: Surface media

The talk about racism and the proclivity to dredge it up in any way possible when reporting about something Republican is getting some notice as its own issue. Reynolds cites a column by Roger Simon – Dateline Tampa: Racists of the Mainstream Media.

“The left/liberal need to think Republicans and conservatives racists is more than just projection. At this point, it is nothing short of a mental illness. It is so far divorced from reality, it has to be pathological. No longer are these people able to observe reality with anything close to impartiality. We are not in the world of politics, ladies and gentlemen. We are in the world of Freud, Jung, Adler, and people bouncing off walls.”

it is not only on matters of racism.

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Can medicine learn from the restaurant industry?

“We can bristle at the idea of chains and mass production, with their homogeneity, predictability, and constant genuflection to the value-for-money god. Then you spend a bad night in a “quaint” “one of a kind” bed-and-breakfast that turns out to have a manic, halitoxic innkeeper who can’t keep the hot water running, and it’s right back to the Hyatt.

Medicine, though, had held out against the trend. Physicians were always predominantly self-employed, working alone or in small private-practice groups. American hospitals tended to be community-based. But that’s changing.”

Atul Gawande at the New Yorker talks about Big Med: Restaurant chains have managed to combine quality control, cost control, and innovation. Can health care?. His foil is the Cheesecake Factory.

“The place is huge, but it’s invariably packed, and you can see why. The typical entrée is under fifteen dollars. The décor is fancy, in an accessible, Disney-cruise-ship sort of way: faux Egyptian columns, earth-tone murals, vaulted ceilings. The waiters are efficient and friendly. They wear all white (crisp white oxford shirt, pants, apron, sneakers) and try to make you feel as if it were a special night out. As for the food—can I say this without losing forever my chance of getting a reservation at Per Se?—it was delicious.”

“I’d come from the hospital that day. In medicine, too, we are trying to deliver a range of services to millions of people at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory, we haven’t figured out how.”

The examples are from the companies that are often subject to hate, companies like Wal Mart that have developed techniques and know-how that allow them to provide more for less. The Cheesecake Factory is one of these companies and Gwande goes behind the scenes to see how they do it. He posits that there is a lot of room for learning from these companies in the medicine business. He also describes an example of how this learning is there. The question is about how to make such learning the norm rather than the exception.

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Corporate wife? Hayward on Williams about Ann Romney

Commentator Juan Williams appears to have stepped in it when he dismissed Ann Romney’s RNC speech as that of a corporate wife. John Hayward describes the situation as Juan Williams versus “corporate wives”

“Liberals have already said some very stupid things about Ann Romney, and they’ll say plenty more in the days to come. They’ll have a hard time getting over the nitwit bar set by Fox News commentator Juan Williams on Tuesday night.”

“There’s a whole lot of foolishness packed into Williams’ strange critique… beginning with his apparent inability to offer a single word of analysis about the speech he was paid to study and review. In one concentrated blast, he emitted some of the most persistent liberal myths:

1. Only rich corporate executives can afford to let their wives stay at home and raise the kids. (That’s what he meant by “corporate wife,” for those still trying to figure out what the hell he was thinking.)

2. Success and wealth are products of “luck” and “blessing,” not personal risk, sacrifice, and hard work. …

3. No one who is not currently suffering in some way can “speak for” people who are struggling to make ends meet….

4. Different Democrat constituencies require special sympathy and policies that are different from, and take priority over, general American prosperity….

This is line with Robert Reich using the Christian Science Monitor as a platform for his Romney lying machine thesis. As with Williams, he gets into very interesting distortions trying to rationalize his view. This latest is only supported by the ‘everybody thinks so’ logical fallacy. What he doesn’t do is to take a look at the particular administrative action that Romney cites much less listen to what anyone outside of his circle says. The fact checkers that Reich holds up as honest arbitrators are not doing their reputation very good when they take an approach as silly as Juan Williams on Ann Romney.

Another on this is Professor Williams on the ‘tax the rich’ meme. The rich don’t pay enough?. This is often proclaimed as an assertion that the rich must pair their fair share. It is the sort of idea that is behind the Reid allegations about Romney’s taxes and Williams on Romney being too rich to have any commonality with middle class wifery.

“According to IRS 2007 data, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 22 percent of national personal income but paid 40 percent of all personal income taxes. The top 5 percent earned 37 percent and paid 61 percent of personal income tax. The top 10 percent earned 48 percent and paid 71 percent of all personal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent earned 12 percent of personal income but paid just 3 percent of income tax revenues.”

The data begs the question about just what these folks consider ‘fair?’

As one commentator noted, the RNC speeches could be themed as state governors who were children of immigrants that took turned their states around from a path to bankruptcy to economic health. They did build that success. In states such as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Ohio, South Carolina and more there is a story of success and achievement that seems to be cloaked by the surface media. The RNC seems to hope it can get that story out from under that cloak. Reich, Williams, and their ilk seem to be getting desparate trying to keep the cover in place.

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Wars on technology: the patent mess

It took the jury just three days to award a billion dollars. It opened a new can of worms in the intellectual property wars.

“What are the weapons? IP law. They have copyright, they have patents, and now they have a new weapon of choice — trade dress and design patents — thanks to Apple. And that is why this case is so appalling, because Apple has now opened up a new area for litigation and exclusion.”

Groklaw reports that Samsung Files Motion to Stay Judgment & Why This Case Matters. It is a matter of the big money in software, Microsoft and Apple and perhaps Oracle among others, going after Google’s Android software and FOSS in general.

“Remember too that Apple itself reaps benefits from Open Source software. It switched from its own software to OSX, which is BSD code. Why? Because it was better than what it had done itself. So it surely knows what FOSS can do. Now, it wants to make sure no one else can offer what it offers, even in such basic elements as rectangles with rounded corners and rows of brightly colored icons or ways to touch a tablet that are simply intuitive. Intuitive is just another word for obvious. “

This is just the latest big case in the idea that people could patent ideas and their expression. This came up in the matter of business process patents and other software expressions about 20 years ago. The push has been to patent programming interfaces and now to the fine details of what things look like in a video representation. This broad coverage of intellectual expression as a patent coupled with poor definition, unclear patent claims, large damage risk, and seeming obliviousness to prior art or obviousness is why businesses have to obtain a large patent portfolio such as buying them from a failed company such as Novel or Kodak or building their own or joining in on a consortium. That way they can use their patents to fend off infringement claims in a Mutually Assured Destruction – MAD – lawfare standoff.

The problem with this is that it is the independent or small business entrepreneur who gets cut off at the knees. They can’t afford an extensive patent portfolio and everything they develop is at risk for the company being sued out of business for violating some patent or other. They have to fly ‘under the radar’ until they can either sell out to a big company or can build sufficient resources to fend off attacks before they become a target.

The patent system is being misused in ways that are opposite to its intended purpose. The reason for the state to grant a short term monopoly via patent is to foster innovation and business growth. It used to be that you had to deliver a working model to the USPTO to get a patent. No more. People are now getting patents for processes they can not even demonstrate in use and for minor details in presentation or variations in method. That feeds trolls and creates a feudal system complete with castles and expensive fortifications so that more money is spent on playing the patent game than it is on developing new technologies.

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Partisanship on Parade

Headlines provide the clue. Romney’s lying machine. The author’s name fits the pattern: Robert Reich. The lede illustrates just what is going on.

“I’ve been struck by the baldness of Romney’s repetitive lies about Obama — that Obama ended the work requirement under welfare, for example, or that Obama’s Affordable Care Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare benefits.”

“Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I’ve been directly involved in seven presidential campaigns, and I don’t recall a presidential candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it?”

One of the first clues is the use of the term “lie” which implies much more than just a disagreement on some point. A second clue is the generalization about a “lying machine” with just two examples to support it. Third is the money allegations and suspicions. Then there is the appeal to authority: “The mainstream media along with a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations and sites have called Romney on these whoppers, but to no avail.

There is a reason why the candidate can get away with these two “lies” despite the ‘fact checkers.’ That reason is that there is a truth behind them. The PACA did indeed funnel money from Medicare as a means to pay for its programs. The Administration did issue an Executive Order in July to evade the work for welfare legislation.

There are two issues of integrity at play here. One is that of the fact checkers who stretch credibility in trying to find fault in order to claim foul. The other is with people like Reich who have a long history of being unable to understand why their view of the world isn’t in sync with reality.

Now, if you are interested in a ‘lying machine’ you might consider the allegations about causing death, innuendo regarding tax returns, assertions about an opponent’s view on abortion, complaints about who should be paying a fair share, voter ID positions, Fast and Furious, cronyism … that list gets rather long.

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Some folks just can’t stand success: Armstrong witch hunt

“But the one thing Armstong’s perseverance couldn’t defeat was an out-of-control quasi-governmental agency with government funding and a single-minded vendetta against him.”

The news is about how the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is crowing because a famous competitive cylcist decided to cease participating as the target of their witch hunt. They presume guilt much as Senator Reid and others presume Romney guilty because he won’t answer baseless allegations. John Hayward has a good summary of the situation in Lance Armstrong: Guilty, even when proven innocent.

The idea that “you didn’t build that” when applied to sports often centers on an unfair advantage via chemical means – doping. The folks who just can’t accept the idea of success as a result of honest effort express that failure in a persistence of prosecution that is amazing as well as dishonest.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office in L.A. investigated Armstrong for two years, without filing any charges, but that didn’t matter to the USADA. Armstrong noted that some of the charges leveled against him by the anti-doping agency far exceeded their 8-year statute of limitations. He also pointed out in his statement on Thursday that various international cycling organizations declared the USADA’s proceedings improper, questioned their authority to conduct the investigation, called upon them to cease and desist, and advised other athletes to refrain from cooperating in the Armstrong persecution.”

There is also the correlation to note: allegation without substance and often in abuse of the facts, assumption of guilt, improper prosecution, and a persistence that would be admirable if directed towards something profitable and meaningful. Mr. Zimmerman in Florida can sympathize.

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Study of tactics: Duck, nitpick, vilify

That Newsweek story Hit the Road really got some folks riled. Niall Ferguson Defends Newsweek Cover: Correct This, Bloggers. He says

“the spectacle of the American liberal blogosphere in one of its almost daily fits of righteous indignation is not so much ridiculous as faintly sinister. Why? Because what I have encountered since the publication of my Newsweek article criticizing President Obama looks suspiciously like an orchestrated attempt to discredit me.

My critics have three things in common. First, they wholly fail to respond to the central arguments of the piece. Second, they claim to be engaged in “fact checking,” whereas in nearly all cases they are merely offering alternative (often silly or skewed) interpretations of the facts. Third, they adopt a tone of outrage that would be appropriate only if I had argued that, say, women’s bodies can somehow prevent pregnancies in case of “legitimate rape.”

Their approach is highly effective, and I must remember it if I ever decide to organize an intellectual witch hunt.”

The tactics have been identified and they are common: duck the issue and argue something other than what was on the table; turn fact checking into fault finding by ignoring relevancy and significance; and assume a mantle of morale outrage.

Ferguson takes on the complaints about his veracity and shows where his conclusions came from. That just raises the ante as it means those trying to deny the reality have to get yet more creative in their defense of what they want to believe.

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Evading the reality

Orin Kerr noted a supposedly humorous column My Side Versus the Other Side, Election Edition that works very hard to make fun from the ‘both sides are the same’ philosophy. You’d think a law professor would understand the responsibility involved in making appropriate and necessary distinctions between parties in any disagreement. There is also the matter about people laughing off those things that don’t fit their world view, which the column appears to do.

Another example is about how Our Billionaires Are More Virtuous Than Your Billionaires! This one is an attempt to rationalize the campaign fund raising patterns. Hinderaker does a comparison and contrast to the previous election to illustrate just how absurd the Jany Mayer rationalization is.

“You could write the article yourself: rich people are contributing to the Romney campaign; the Democrats’ billionaires aren’t coming through; Citizens United; blah blah blah; left-wing billionaires need to get patriotic and pony up. Of course, when Obama smashed all fundraising records in 2008 and outspent John McCain by five to one or more during the height of the campaign, neither Mayer nor any other liberal complained. Mayer never considers the possibility that Obama’s fundraising problems result from his poor performance in office: enthusiasm for him is down all over, and rich people, not being stupid, have noticed that he is a lousy president.

Mayer, no believer in Occam’s Razor, hypothesizes that the problem is that rich Republican donors are greedy, while rich Democratic donors are altruistic:”

There is an innate desire to have reality fit with fantasy. Sometimes this desire overwhelms reason. That is why a struggle for intellectual integrity is not simple nor easy. Reality will win out. The question is the cost, both in terms of personal mental health and in terms of societal health as wars and riots are often dissonance results. It is much like a tantrum in a todler who doesn’t get what he wants. One can only hope they will grow up and learn to better fit their wants with reality.

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Zero sum game: why some do not grow?

“The Third World, or anti-colonial, view is that the rich nations have gotten rich by taking wealth from the poor nations. It is part of a much larger vision, in which the rich in general have gotten rich by taking from the poor, whether in their own country or elsewhere.

Whatever its factual weaknesses, it is an emotionally powerful vision, to which many people have dedicated their lives, and for which some have even risked their lives.”

Thomas Sowell had to drive 30 miles to see Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2016. His report on the effort concludes that the movie is Exposing the Real Barack Obama. The movie raises the fundamental question about why people behave and believe and vote as they do.

“It is a much larger story about how millions of Americans came to vote for, and some to idolize, a man whose fundamental beliefs and values are so different from their own.”

The philosophy at issue is that of the zero sum game where nothing is created and what exists is just shuffled around. The powerful get rich and everyone else suffers. It is a fantasy that is woefully ignorant of reality. But it is a fantasy that can be used to excuse one’s own failures.

The philosophy can be seen in the very many catastrophe alarms such as peak oil or population bomb or even in human caused global warming. The problem is that, even with this year’s drought, farming productivity improvements have created increased yields that exceed the record breaking year of 1991. Fracking and new drilling techniques have created vast increases in energy resources. More goods of better quality and never before thought of capabilities and functions are now in use by even the very poor – cell phones are transforming African countries, for instance.

But no, the anti-colonialists as Sowell labels them, do not see these things. Instead all they seem to see is filtered through their personal haze of envy based hatred. That is not the sort of vision that built the U.S.

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The Denver Dose

“In hindsight, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the policies enacted in the wake of the disaster in Japan—particularly the long-term evacuation of large areas and the virtual termination of the Japanese nuclear power industry—were expressions of panic.”

The tens of thousands dead from the earthquake and tsunami go unnoticed while radiation fears continue to get headlines. Richard Muller describes the Panic Over Fukushima.

“The most thoughtful high-number estimate of deaths that will be caused by the Fukushima disaster comes from Richard Garwin, a renowned nuclear expert. He has written that the best estimate for the number of deaths is about 1,500—well above my estimate but still only 10% of the immediate tsunami deaths. … he ignores the sort of argument that I have made about the Denver dose and includes in the calculation the numbers of deaths expected from tiny doses, assuming that even small exposures are proportionately dangerous. (This is an assumption that has also been adopted by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.)”

The Denver Dose is the natural background radiation in Denver, Colorado. The background radiation depends upon altitude and the nature of the rocks in an area. Consideration of the radiation dosage that people get living in such areas to those in other areas is one of the factors in the debate about radiation hormesis. Current standards are based on the theory that risk is related to dose all the way down to zero. Background radiation considerations and other data indicate that low dosages may not present a risk or may even provide a benefit (which is what the hormesis theory is all about).

“The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends evacuation of a locality whenever the excess radiation dose exceeds .1 rem per year. But that’s one-third of what I call the “Denver dose.” Applied strictly, the ICRP standard would seem to require the immediate evacuation of Denver. … There is a strong argument for ignoring radiation dangers below the level of the Denver dose. In doing so, we would be ignoring risks that are unobservable and which we routinely ignore (and properly so) in other circumstances.”

So Japan is shutting down its nuclear power industry because of fear of risks that are so small as to buried in the noise. The geological disaster caused 15,000 or more casualties while the nuclear plant problems might cause only 0.1% of that over the long term and in a way that will be difficult to tell from normal disease rates in the population. What is not considered in the comparison is just how many deaths might be caused by the shortage of electrical power as the nuclear plants are shut down. That risk, too, the risk from reduced power availability and consumption, is difficult to asses but a risk as real and as significant – or more significant – than the long term radiation exposures on the level one finds as normal background radiation in various parts of the planet.

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Self rationalizing questionable behavior

“There is nothing here that looks like moral heroism or even smart politics. Modern information technology seems to have put an unbalanced man in a position of more prominence and importance then he understands or can deal with. The kindest thing the world can do is to ignore Mr. Assange.”

Mead describes Assange the Coward – it’s another one of these ‘speaking truth to power’ type things where the pretense is that publishing private government documents is somehow responsible citizenship.

A key item in this is the attempt to assume the mantle of morally superiority. The opponent is the big dog, in this case the U.S,. which is out on a “witch hunt” to shut down whistleblowers.

“What Assange really wants is to look like a hero without having to run any risks. Serious people have decided at times that their duty required them to break the law. Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King all broke the law to achieve important political goals. But unlike Julian, they believed that they were required to face the consequences of their acts.”

There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing these days. It is a variant of the ‘double down’ effort to rationalize such behavior as baseless and nonsensical allegations as a ‘good thing.’ Personal responsibility? forget that. Intellectual integrity? ditto.

The need is to hold such people accountable for their self aggrandizement. Mead provides an example of doing just that. Put it on the table, show how ridiculous it is, and use social pressures to tamp down the absurdities. That is like the effort to name and shame those who disrupt political events. It does seem that there is a shift from ‘let it be’ to ‘we have had enough of this’ and that is probably a step in the right direction.

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The sorry record of catastrophic alarmism

“In the climate debate, we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate “lukewarmers” a voice: those who suspect that the net positive feedbacks from water vapor in the atmosphere are low, so that we face only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century; that the Greenland ice sheet may melt but no faster than its current rate of less than 1 percent per century; that net increases in rainfall (and carbon dioxide concentration) may improve agricultural productivity; that ecosystems have survived sudden temperature lurches before; and that adaptation to gradual change may be both cheaper and less ecologically damaging than a rapid and brutal decision to give up fossil fuels cold turkey.”

Matt Ridley takes on Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times and summarizes the many predictions of catastrophe of recent times noting how none of them turned out as planned. The caveat is that, while one should not worry about total catastrophe, one should not just ignore the alarmism all together, either. Reason and prudence are the difficult attributes to find in these things.

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Sometimes reality isn’t what you think: Swiftboat and work for welfare

The Guardian has two examples this morning to illustrate a pattern in detachment from reality. How do newspapers deal with politicians who go on repeating lies? and How the Swift boat veterans stack up against 2012’s special ops group.

Of course, for this news outlet, the lies are from Romney. In this case is is about the administration’s relaxing of work for welfare rules. The Washington Post fact check is cited as support for the idea that Romney’s assertions are lies. The problem is, though, that one of the architects of the welfare reform act, Dick Morris, supports Romney’s view.

“Worse. Despite the fact-checking process that is supposed to inform its journalism, America’s press is not confronting Romney about his falsehood. He is being allowed to get away with it.”

The end up with another famous reality distortion:

“But lies still beat us. After all, we made war on Iraq because too many newspapers happily accepted the political lie that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was able to launch them within 45 minutes.”

The explanation is the lies repeated often enough seem to take on a mantle of truth. The problem is that they are dealing in projection on this. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth still rankles as the left side of the political edge still decries ‘swiftboating’ as a dishonest smear tactic. The latest edition of this idea that military veterans standing witness to their own observations is a ‘dishonest smear’ is a 22 minute video put out by former special forces and security personnel on the administration’s use of leaks for personal gain.

“The emergence of a group of former special operations soldiers dedicated to running adverts critical of President Barack Obama’s national security policy has raised the prospect of a 2012 version of the infamous Swift boat campaign.”

“At first glance both Opsec and the Swift boaters appear to have many similarities drawn from the shadowy underworld of political dirty tricks. But there are important differences too.”

Of course, one of those “political dirty tricks” are about the straw man of partisanship. A great deal of effort is made in the article to tie these despicable groups to the evil Republican conspiracy.

What is encouraging is that these sorts of delusions in the media are becoming a topic of discussion in themselves. For instance, the lack of coverage of an attack on the Family Research Center by a gunman who professes that his motive was that he didn’t like the anti-gay politics of the group is noted as a comparison to just how quick and extensive the coverage has been on attacks that were mistakenly credited to right wing political assaults.

What is also important now is that one can fact check the fact checkers simply by comparing what was actually said and done to what is claimed. Whether it is the “didn’t build that”, or the “ya’ll in chains”, or the work requirements EO, or the swiftboating, or the Mediscare efforts the original is laid on the table for all to see. Only those in a severe stage of psychological denial can set aside that evidence.

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What’s really mudslinging?

“Public figures’ records are fair game in political campaigns. It’s not “mudslinging” unless it’s untrue or employs “derogatory personal slurs,” according to the Living Webster Dictionary.

If you lie or distort the facts so badly that they function as a lie, you’re mudslinging. The current “Joe Soptic” TV ad by Obama supporters claiming that Mitt Romney caused a woman’s cancer death fits that description.”

KNIGHT: Slinging mud from the Soptic tank

The problem can be seen in the fact that there are many whose reality is that their political opponents do actually kill people and harm children, intentionally and with malice. The facts, such as Knight lists with regard to the Soptic cancer ad, make little impression while matters of logical fallacies seem to rule in perceptions of ads such as the one about the overturning of work for welfare. There is an integrity problem of the ‘both sides do it’ sort.

“Everyone who loves liberty needs to get involved in the most consequential election in our lifetime. As Johnson’s propagandist intoned, “The stakes are too high for you to stay home.””

The difficulty here is that those who are most in denial are those with the most significant emotional investment. For them, the stakes are very high and they will go to nearly any extreme to maintain their denial of reality. That can be seen in the Occupy Wall Street protests. It took the atom bomb to shake Japan out of such a ‘denial of reality’ state in 1945, Let’s hope such an event is not needed for this political situation.

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Physicians losing credibility

On the gun front there is the fundamental divide between whether a gun is offensive or defensive. Dr. Salwitz provides an example of the former. He says “I am a physician and guns are a disease“. Here is some of what he says to support this belief that are quite indicative.

“I feel guilty about the killings in Colorado … Because, I am a physician and guns are a disease.” … “Where once we required guns to protect ourselves from wild animals and to provide food, in a modern society this is a rare need. Except for marksmen who enjoy target shooting or hunting, guns have limited use for recreation. Therefore, in a modern society, what is the purpose of guns?” … “Guns have multiplied through our great Nation like a highly virulent virus. They infect one person at a time.” … “Our society is sick with spreading Gun Disease.” … “There is no immunity from the either guns or bullets and under the pressure of enough fear of gun violence, anyone will pick up a firearm and anyone can be shot.” … “Guns create guns. Feeding off their human hosts, they are a fatal infestation of our Nation.”

The stimulus for this was a mentally deranged person whose psychologist had warned authorities of his proclivities. Rather than focus on the medical issues, this doctor finds an object to use as a focus for his emotions. This sort of behavior is not conducive to good medical practice. Consider the quotations selected:

feeling guilty for something not in one’s control?

a doctor who is emotional fixated on being responsible for all illness?

a doctor who limits his vision and evades unpleasant options – like maybe there is a need for personal defense against thugs?

guns multiply like a virus and “guns create guns”?

no immunity from either guns or bullets when the statistics indicate otherwise?

Such poor thinking is enough to make one wonder …

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Expressions of denial?

The creativity that can be involved in maintaining one’s desired paradigm can be amazing. Robert Schlesinger illustrates this in Lies, Damned Lies, and Mitt Romney’s Ads

“What happens to political and journalistic norms when a national campaign decides to blow past the run-of-the-mill cherry-picking of facts, distorting of policies, and playing in the gray area between truth and untruth, and instead simply runs hog wild into malicious deception and prevarication?”

You’d think that would involve such topics as calling a political opponent a felon, accusing them of tax fraud, alleging that they are out to throw old folks over the cliff, and other such things but this isn’t the case here. Instead we get examples like:

“His campaign has also taken other Obama quotes out of context (“you didn’t build that” and “it worked”) to portray the president as having said things he flatly didn’t say.”

The problem with this is that anyone can hear what was actually said. Who, actually, is twisting the context? Similarly for the Ohio effort to change voting law regarding military member voting or the executive order to eliminate work rules requirements for welfare.

Projection is particularly heavy in the conclusion:

“But underlying the cynical belief that they can game the press is an even more contemptuous and condescending belief in the basic laziness and stupidity of the American people. The Romney campaign knew that its welfare ad would be roundly blasted by the portion of the media that does fact-checking. But they’re counting on voters to absorb the charge and not pay attention to the details or follow closely enough to get the facts.”

Compare and contrast: one the one side you have actual words and deeds used for political rebuttal and on the other you have allegations from anonymous sources and without foundation that have severe contradictions with reality. Which is considered egregious and false by this columnist? Who is it that thinks the public is gullible? Is it the side that allows the public to see both the stimulus and the response or is it the side that just says to believe what they say despite there being no support or basis for it? Who is asking you to look for yourself and who is asking you to just trust them? Which of these approaches actually shows a contempt for the voter?

There is a difference and it goes well beyond policy into matters of values and intellectual integrity.

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vote twice?

The jingle ad supporting the Democrat Party nominee for Senate seat in Nevada illustrates two rather typical issues. One is that it is based on an incredible falsehood offered with no pretenses. The second is that it pines for being able to vote twice so as to be able to quash the evil Republican opponent.

There is a difference. It is visible. Attempts to deny the difference stimulates ‘interesting’ behavior, especially in the surface media and other heavily invested partisans.

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Sons of cronyism

“In the case of Nevada, government intrusion, at the cost of $1.3 billion of your dollars, has created a whopping 288 jobs and managed to quadruple energy costs for the state’s residents.”

Bruce McQuain describes Nevada’s epic “green energy” failure.

What brought this on?

It got started with unsourced allegations of tax fraud by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid later joined by House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi. The victims have not seen fit to lie down and take their punishment this time and Reid is getting a response from the ‘quid pro quo’ allegations about him being a pederast to another look at how he got so wealthy from the public sector to boondogles such as the green energy pork for his home state and friends and relatives.

This may indicate a sea change in responses to the ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ sort of thing that besmirches political dialog.

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Double down: insisting on innocense even when found with hand in cookie jar

It’s one of those discriminating characteristics. One one side is the apology and promise to do better in the future and on the other is the double down on denial of any wrongdoing. Captain Ed has another example: Reid: Romney is guilty of my evidence-free accusations until he proves himself innocent

“First we have Democratic mayors in Boston and Chicago acting like thugs, and now we’re getting McCarthyism from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In three short weeks, the Democratic Party has utterly disgraced itself, from its leadership on down.”

There was an apology regarding the Winston Churchill bust episode — which started as an attempt to impugn the Republican nominee statements in England. The ‘what you got to hide’ mantra in regard to tax returns (doesn’t the IRS and its use to go after political opponents say anything on this?) and the continuing attempt to associate the political foe with “felon” stays in the ads – despite evidence that even the fact checkers on their side can’t ignore.

There is some adage about the need to stop digging when you have yourself in a hole … it seems the Democrats don’t think they are in a hole. One wonders how deep they will need to go before they finally become aware of the consequences of their behavior.

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