Archive for February, 2013

The problem with the badge

He’s got some Sobering thoughts on gunfights and the police mindset after reading a 2 part 5 keys to winning gunfights (from a cop who’s ‘been there’ repeatedly) at

The environment flavors the mindset and the police work in an environment that makes it difficult to see ‘normal’ anymore. The routine of wearing body armor is a constant reminder. That is why it’s us vs them, why there are teams that take on a military persona, why cameras get confiscated despite lawsuits and disciplinary action.

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About that problem in Washington D.C.

Hinderaker provides the closing statement of Senator Jeff Sessions – Plutocrat Jack Lew Is Confirmed, But Sessions Embarrasses Democrats – that explains a lot about that problem in Washington D.C. right now.

“What was notable about the vote was not so much the outcome as the challenge that Senator Jeff Sessions threw down before his Democratic colleagues–try to defend Jack Lew, and if you can’t defend him, don’t vote for him. One thing is for certain: the Democrats had zero interest in trying to defend Lew’s record. They spoke for a total of 17 minutes on his behalf, while Sessions spoke for 2 1/2 hours, in several installments through the day.

Sessions’ closing statement was an eloquent indictment not only of the plutocrat Lew, but of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. It is quoted here in its entirety”

There are some who are trying to get the word out. The Lew vote indicates that not many are hearing anything.

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Masko Worries: When they will not listen, hear, or think

It is posted as Three Reasons Conservatives are Losing the Battle for America. The worry?

“In a word, we are observing the regression of a culture…one that is moving away from sophistication and proudly stepping backward from civilizing attempts. We have seen primitive behavior in our own culture and others: when people look to a label or a skin color as all that need be said about a person; when information from trusted sources of information are grossly biased so only one side is heard or even “exists”; and when physical or administrative violence against people is belittled, laughed at or ignored. It’s a cultural regression and, as the unifying, reassuring legal structures and precepts wither, as information sources become untrustworthy, and as physical and administrative violence worsens, it becomes increasingly difficult to reverse.”

The three reasons? First is an electorate that is glued to a paradigm with unrelenting fierceness where reality, not matter how blatant, just doesn’t matter. Second is a media cohort that participates in and reinforces this paradigm. Third is the political techniques that create the paradigm for the sake of winning power.

“Political correctness is a capital political concept because: the participants silently acquiesce to its dictates; it’s a self-modulating system where groups of people self-monitor and groom each other into conformity; through unspoken or overt threats of censure, it propagates itself; and, among the willing, it inevitably leads to the control of thought. If we freely restrict our speech to only “allowed” topics, in short order we restrict our thinking as well. In the end there is no more powerful political tool than thought control, which is why mastery and management of information is a central issue in all totalitarian regimes. What has required the overt elimination or forced domination of media outlets in most autocratic regimes has been yielded up easily by our group-think media, who now march along in near lockstep while trumpeting their independence. Political correctness must be a beautiful thing to behold if you’re a politician inclined toward domination.”

There is another item to note in this essay in that it is rational and provides examples. It does not promote ideology but rather an hypothesis supported by reason and measure. That is a counterforce to what he describes and one can only hope such an approach and awareness grows.

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The Casablanca jobs market

In the movie Casablanca highly qualified people are in a surplus and anyone gets any job they can. A recent New York Times article noted how the Bachelor’s degree is taking the place of the high school diploma in the current job market. It seems many pundits miss the connection.

It isn’t that a BA is needed, it is that employers can find college degreed candidates for their positions.

Megan McArdle says Sorry, Kids, No High School Diplomas Need Apply

“More worrying is the way in which a BA is now becoming a minimum requirement for jobs that simply don’t require any of the skills you learn in college: receptionist, file clerk, secretary. ”

“Caplan argues that to a large extent, the BA is becoming what a high school diploma became before it: a signal to employers that you are not stupid, lazy, or poor enough to drop out before you’ve finished your education. That’s valuable for the employers, but it’s increasingly expensive for the students, without necessarily preparing them to better do their work. And it’s far from clear that it’s worth removing people from the workforce for four years in order to prepare them to do sales, or manage an office. “

The issue here is in the ‘minimum wage’ class. There is a cost to employees in getting that degree and to society in productive years. Nice if you can afford it?

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Whither California so goes the rest?

It is the tale of regulatory burden, croneyism, and who you know: California Regulatory Burden.

“a 3-1/2 year story of an obviously wealthy gentleman trying to get the local planning board and later the California Coastal Commission to allow him to build a house on his residential-zoned land. I sat up for hours last night reading through it. 42 months and $3 million later, he still is not even close to having his approvals. It is interesting to see his respectful-of-authority tone shifting over time, until at the end he is writing about how he has shifted his company’s new office and expansion from California to Texas.”

The worst part of community is ostracism. How it’s done has changed but the ugliness has not.

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Swing just a few; that’s all it takes

Karl Rove recently stirred the pot by suggesting that Republicans focus campaign efforts more on who could win rather than who rang the right chimes. The idea is to look at the big picture and weed out the cruft that really wouldn’t help achieve goals. J.R. Dunn describes the situation as How the Left Dupes Conservative Voters.

The history goes back to the 2000 election and the ‘revelation’ of a candidate’s drunk driving record.

“The program operates counterintuitively, by manipulating the beliefs and convictions of the voters to misdirect or negate their political activities. Rather than persuade voters to act against their own interests or to vote against their convictions, the left, with the aid of the media, manipulates those very convictions — public morality with religious voters, conservative ideology with traditionalists or tea party voters, and various stances on single issues, to persuade voters to waste their votes on obscure or bogus candidates, to throw support to hopeless or seriously flawed “pure” candidates, and in some cases not to vote at all.”

It is a typical military strategy. Confuse the enemy just enough to impair effectiveness just enough to be able to tilt the odds.

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Nanny state ideas

A bill presented to the in Washington state legislature is getting some attention. This is likely because it so well illustrates the nanny state approach to society with the idea that government employees are somehow special and better than the citizens. See the story Sheriffs can inspect homes for safe gun storage in Washington state under Democratic weapon bill.

“A new bill working through Washington state’s legislature would allow local sheriffs to enter homes of gun owners to ensure their weapons are properly stored.

The bill, pushed by Democrats, allows police to search where and how assault weapons are stored — as well as how safely they are stored, according to its text, listed in the state’s online legislative directory as SB 5737-2013-14.

The definition of a “safely and securely” stored weapon is left largely to law enforcement to decide.”

What with the ‘law enforcement’ killing so many innocents in the recent LA manhunt, the problems of prosecutorial indiscretion, the arrests for public video recording, the problems that resulted in ‘must issue’ laws for concealed carry licenses, and so forth, one has to wonder about just what is driving this sort of idea sufficiently to craft a bill and put it up for legislative vote.

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History professor explains economics

“By any historical marker, the future of Americans has never been brighter. The United States has it all: undreamed new finds of natural gas and oil, the world’s pre-eminent food production, continual technological wizardry, strong demographic growth, a superb military and constitutional stability.

Yet we don’t talk confidently about capitalizing and expanding on our natural and inherited wealth. Instead, Americans bicker over entitlement spoils as the nation continues to pile up trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Enforced equality rather than liberty is the new national creed. The medicine of cutting back on government goodies seems far worse than the disease of borrowing trillions from the unborn to pay for them.

In August 1945, Hiroshima was in shambles, while Detroit was among the most innovative and wealthiest cities in the world. Contemporary Hiroshima now resembles a prosperous Detroit of 1945; parts of Detroit look like they were bombed decades ago.

History has shown that a government’s redistribution of shrinking wealth, in preference to a private-sector’s creation of new sources of it, can prove more destructive than even the most deadly enemy.”

HANSON: Why do societies give up?,

The Washington Times

. It is fuel for the thinking man.

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Reason to think positive: Food, Fuel, Innovation

“That American breakthroughs in fracking, horizontal drilling, improved agricultural protocols and technologies, mobile communications, social networking, and online commerce have developed without fanfare and largely without government aid should remind us that the sources of our continual renaissance lie more outside than inside Washington.”

Professor Hanson describes America’s Bright Future in terms of things many do not see. Food and fuel have both shown significant productivity increases due to technology and innovation.

“Bouts of collective pessimism are common in America, and the current episode of collective depression is understandable given our mounting debt and unsustainable entitlements. But we should remember one thing. In the past, when we feared seemingly great rising powers—from the dynamic Germany of the 1930s, to the Soviet juggernaut of the 1950s that put a man into space, to the supposedly unstoppable Japan, Inc. paradigm of the 1980s, to the much admired post-national European Union collective of the 1990s— all such rivals eventually imploded or sputtered. America, meanwhile, recouped and regained its preeminence in peace and war.

Why such resilience? Largely because of our far greater reliance on free markets, transparent meritocracy, rewards for individual initiative and success, comparatively smaller government, and constitutionally-protected liberties.”

There are a lot of FUD mongerers and they are in your face all the time. The positive side of things just doesn’t seem to be news and a lot of it is incremental like compound interest. Unless you look, you may not see it. Compare now to just a few years ago and focus on what has improved. Balance that with what hasn’t.

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Hornswoggling the public about science

“If fluoride is potentially dangerous in large amounts, isn’t it best to avoid it altogether? Not necessarily. Yale clinical neurologist Steven Novella, one of the authors of the well-respected blog Science-Based Medicine, put it to me this way: “Everything is toxic at a high enough dose; everything is safe at a low enough dose.” Yes, even water and vitamin C can be deadly when you consume too much. And the idea that something bad at high doses is also necessarily bad at low doses is based in part on the assumption that dose-response effects follow a linear pattern, but many scientists now think that biological responses are more complex than that. Some substances may only be dangerous beyond a certain threshold, while others may follow U- or inverted-U-shaped dose-response curves, such that substances have unexpected effects at high or low doses. (The anti-cancer drug tamoxifen, for instance, can stimulate tumor growth in small amounts.)”

Melinda Moyer got curious after hearing some rumors about the effect of flouride in water on children. See decided to check it out and reports on the question “Does Fluoride Make Your Kids Dumb? (Don’t trust the influential doctor who says yes)” at Slate.

Some people are gullible, some are skeptical, but one has to wonder about those who make it a life’s work to promote and promulgate fear and uncertainty with a complete lack of intellectual integrity. As Moyer illustrates, it often doesn’t take much effort to qualify the rumors and FUD mongering that floats all over the place.

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Would you invest in this sort of promise?

“Once upon a time, the mortgage market was a safe and staid place where widows and orphans could lend to responsible borrowers paying reasonable prices for sensible housing. But a combination of lax regulation, political opportunism, Wall Street (and Fannie Mae) greed, credulous investors and speculative borrowers turned the mortgage market into a horrible mess that cost this country as much money as a foreign war. Let’s try not to do the same thing with our municipal finance system, shall we?”

WR Mead worries about California: Already Stoking the Next Big Financial Crash?. The state has authorized municipal bonds that run interest only for decades.

“It is starting out innocently enough. Looking to expand a number of aging school facilities but loath to raise the taxes necessary to pay for it, California cities have opted to fund school construction projects with capital appreciation bonds, which allow school districts to borrow money now while putting off payments for decades. It sounds like a great deal, but it has one major drawback: The interest rates involved push the eventual price tag to many times the original amount—sometimes as much as ten times more.”

This is basically what happened in the real estate market. Inflation in housing values became considered a given and money was loaned on that basis. The Government pushed loans that were otherwise unsound and impractical. That bubble burst to horrific effect but the desire for ‘free money’ continues. There is concern about student loans and the fact that they don’t provide a real return on investment when it comes to money loaned to a student compared to occupational advantage. Now we see local governments hurting for funding for all the frills and fancies that so many have come to see as a necessary part of government services. The funding for those desires is being pushed off to the children. That has been ongoing as the pension funding problem is already bankrupting cities.

Perhaps this is a way to distribute income? It is the rich after all who are the only ones that can invest money. So when the investments go belly-up, it is essentially just re-distributing their money to the poor and needy depending upon government services. The fact that this sort of thing tends to bankrupt countries doesn’t seem to register with many.

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WaPo starts a rumor and no amount of debunking squashes the lie

“Among the most troubling questions from this episode is why the Internet’s ability to spread information at gigabit speed didn’t result in the story being killed.”

It’s FREE! It has the taint of mysterious (i.e. magic) technology! The media says it’s true! The government is going to do it – for everybody, for FREE! Feels good. Must be.

but it isn’t.

Wi-Fi “as free as air”—the totally false story that refuses to die – Journalism goes wrong and just keeps getting worse. Jon Brodkin tells the tale.

“The story is still out there. Three days after anyone who knew what they were talking about debunked the free Wi-Fi myth, three days after the Post was notified of their mistake, the false story is still published on the Post website and many other sites as if it were true all along.”

This is one of those things that doesn’t pass the smell test but there aren’t many in the surface media who have any sense of smell any more, it seems and their audience is also quite gullible for pipe dreams. That is called a positive feedback loop and the result is not pretty. What Jon notes is the problem of stimulating just a little bit of critical reading. It seems to be an impossible task.

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at least understand the difference

On the one hand is Walter Williams on Women in Combat. There is a difference by gender in important military related variables.

On the other hand is David Horowitz on the difference between political parties.

“Behind the failures of Republican campaigns lies an attitude that is administrative rather than combative. It focuses on policies rather than politics. It is more comfortable with budgets and pie charts than with the flesh and blood victims of their opponents’ policies.”

“There is a reason for this, and it affects everything that goes on in political campaigns. Republicans and Democrats are not similar people who make opposite judgments about common problems and their solutions—spending is good, tax hikes are bad. Republicans and Democrats approach politics with fundamentally different visions of what politics is about. These visions color not only the way each side thinks about questions of policy, but how they enter the arena to face their opponents.”

“Unlike Republicans, Democrats are not in politics just to fix government and solve problems. They are secular missionaries who want to “change society.” Their goal is a new order of society— “social justice.””
“Republicans see Democrats as mistaken. Democrats see Republicans — whatever their individual intentions and behaviors—as enemies of the just and the good. Republicans have no parallel belief that drives them and their agendas, and no similar cause to despise and hate their opponents.”

“It is the very grandeur of the progressive ambition that makes its believers so zealous in pursuing it.” … “The vision of the glorious future puts urgency into their crusades and encourages them to hate their opponents.”

There is a difference and a politician isn’t just a politician. What drives people influences their values and that influences their tactics. It is why any argument that takes the basis that ‘both sides do it’ is flawed in its first premise. It isn’t just a matter of difference of opinion. As the old saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That applies here as well. One side hits in the gut while the other side is trying to tell you that such hits will hurt. One is concrete and the other abstract. One is emotional the other rational. One wants to feel good and the other to be good. That difference makes a difference.

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