Archive for June, 2013

Just who is your enemy, anyway?

VDH: If only our Foreign Enemies Were Republicans. The list of quotations and citation is long, and troubling to any who consider the implications.

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The ‘feel good and forget the implications’ era

“The objective of what a gay activist has called the ““war we’ve already won” is to reduce marriage to a lowest-common-denominator status that will inevitably include polygamy, which is already being touted on ABC-TV as  “normal” and being campaigned for in Canada. That’s too high a price to pay for making homosexuals feel better about themselves.”

Paul Sclichta takes on the question “What’s wrong with Same-Sex Marriage?” and notes that it is just one of several phenomena that attack the institution of marriage and undermine our society. These include the current fad of cohabitation, ultrafeminists and the war on men, and the protosocialist state.

There are those who dismiss the debate with plattitudes about equality and claims that issues about morality are not relevant. Any who try to raise the idea that men are different from women and that there is a moral component to human relationships are ridiculed and dismissed – common behaviors in the ‘feel good and forget the implications’ cohort that seems dominent these days

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Sweep it under the rug, pretend it doesn’t matter, etc

“it will also be illuminating to see how many more Democrats on Oversight want to turn themselves into political human shields for the oh-so-sympathetic IRS. The fact that Cummings tried to do so makes it look as though the IRS isn’t the end of this particular road; otherwise, why try to end the probe with a stunt like this? Who benefits from trying to end scrutiny of the IRS’ political targeting? I don’t see much upside for Cummings if the problem stays isolated within that agency.”

WSJ: IRS Scandal not a closed case — Ed Morrissey explains — “Eliana Johnson argues in today’s Wall Street Journal that the only case that’s closed is that Cummings is running interference for the IRS and the White House.

Scandal and corruption is one thing. When elected representives put partisan politics as more important is another. Questions have been raised. The reaction to that was the ad hominem. The questions have become more persistent. The reaction to that is denial and projection. That looks just like the behaviors that can be seen in the climate change debate.

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Intimidation

There are several items about the supression of speech and the influence on the vote. It isn’t the sort of Top Down explicit mandate of a proper war but rather more of a gueriila type effort of very many small fronts all pushing in the same direction.

First is Michael Barone on Why does the left want to supress free speech? He lists examples of legislative efforts and court cases.

Mitch McConnel weighs in with a PSA on The Continuing Assault on the First Amendment. It is based on a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. “there’s a well-documented effort by a number of Left-wing groups like Media Matters to harass and intimidate conservatives with the goal of scaring them off the political playing field and off the airwaves.”

The Instapundit weighs in with two more:

“THE REGIME DEFENDS ITS INTERESTS: Revealed: U.S. Justice Department and New Hampshire’s Criminal Investigation of James O’Keefe’s Voter ID Video. Note that the DOJ managed to get O’Keefe out of action for the 2012 election season elsewhere.

And True The Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht was targeted by not only the IRS, but also the FBI, the ATF, and OSHA. (More on that here.) It’s like they don’t want anyone looking into voter fraud. Why might that be?”

What also needs to be noted is the response to these observations. There are very many small dots and each, if isolated from all others, can be minimized and dismissed. The problem is that the dots make a pattern that paints a picture and that picture is becoming ever more clear as time goes by and more and more of the dots are uncovered and exposed in its place in the overall picture.

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Finding the right villian in the scandal

The NSA telecommunications spy scandal has created a lot of breathlessness in certain circles  lately. Stewart Baker says “but enough about you …” to question whether the scanal is really about the privacy of individuals or something else, something much more insidious.

“Today, more than two weeks after publishing a FISA court order calling for the collection of noncontent calling data for all US phone calls, the Guardian and Glenn Greenwald got around to proving me right. They finally published NSA’s minimization procedures for handling records relating to US persons.”

… “To be clear, they’re generally reassuring about NSA’s respect for the rights of Americans. They’re not at all reassuring about the motivations of Glenn Greenwald or the Guardian.

Because it seems almost certain that Greenwald and the Guardian had these documents two weeks ago, and that they could have released the guidelines at the same time they released the order that started this flap.  The original order, out of context, was disturbing.  The minimization documents provide context and make the naked order less troubling.

So why did the Greenwald/Guardian team withhold documents that would provide important context for two full weeks as the controversy built?

This makes no sense if you’re practicing journalism.”

In other words, the real scandal is likely to be the violation of a security clearance to leak classified information to a media outlet that then used that information as a part of an ideological propaganda campaign.

“If I’m right about their motives, Greenwald and the Guardian are treating NSA — or the United States government — as the enemy they hope to harm, and they’ve abandoned ordinary journalistic standards in an effort to do their adversary as much harm as possible.”

It used to be simple government vs government. Now, it appears, it is something a bit different. No long is Radio Moscow the means to disseminate propaganda. The cranks and crackpots and others can get into the act as well. They want to ‘bring the big guy down’ but don’t seem to have the foggiest idea about the implications of their fantasies.

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More on delusion

There is the story about a new book that finds [claims] many U.S. foods banned overseas for cancer links. This one is a part and parcel of the anti-human ideologies putting Gaia as God and expressing envy of the health and welfare of U.S. residents. One only has to look at such basic measures as lifespan and causes of death to see the absurdity of the claims. After that, you can get into the studies and actual measures of the effects of the villaneous substances that are behind their approval for consumption.

The next example is creating analogies between climate change and slavery. This one, too, is a synthesis of multiple delusions. One is that climate change is the “moral issue of our time.” The other is that the U.S. is the world’s hotbed of racism and slavery. If climate change were a moral issue, then it seems that it would be possible to pin down a decent measure of anamolous changes in climate and actually show the link between these changes and some immoral human activity. The efforts towards establishing these measures and observations so far have been prognostication and anticipation that haven’t matched very well to any existing reality.

As for slavery, the question is why those so hot on the issue are quite silent about the current existing slave trade. Why do they have to create episodes and incidents like they did with a Tea Party parade a few years ago?

Crackpots and cranks as usual? Or maybe something a bit more significant?

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Undermining the foundations

Hanson: When dishonesty undermines democracy summarizes the current plague of deceit and evasion in government. The behavior described is indeed one underpinning of the foundations for self governance. He also hits on another:

“Deception is now institutionalized in the Obama administration. It infects almost every corner of the U.S. government, eroding the trust necessary for the IRS, the Department of Justice, our security agencies, and the president’s official press communiques — sabotaging the public trust required for democracy itself.

What went wrong with the Obama administration?

There is no longer an adversarial media establishment in Washington. Spouses and siblings of executives at the major television networks are embedded within the administration. Unlike with Watergate, the media now hold back, thinking that any hard-hitting reporting of scandals would only weaken Mr. Obama, whose vision of America the vast majority of reporters share. But that understood exemption only encourages more lack of candor.”

The other foundational principle is that of honesty and integrity in holding government to account. As Dr. Hanson notes, the media’s role in this has become a farce. The media is not the only player. The other is the public. As long as ‘the people’ are generally willing to accept dishonesty in their government – or to presume dishonesty that wasn’t – government will continue to function on the basis of fantasy and not reality.

As for “presume dishonesty that wasn’t,” consider one Democrat party leader whose response to a list like Hanson’s with a famous “Bush did it” by pushing the Iraq WMD as a similar state of affairs. Equating a consensus of foreign and domestic intelligence to such things as the current scandals is an indication of just how deep and widespread the lack of intellectual integrity, the rot in self governance, really is.

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Just who do you worship?

Herschel Smith wonders about The Golden Calf of Gun Control:

“So guns have morphed from an inanimate object, a component made of mechanical parts, into something that can transform the personality of not only an individual but an entire community.

Unfortunately, the pitiful pastor has forgotten his theology, and made something the theologians call adiaphorous (neutral, neither good nor bad) into something with personality and intentionality. He replaces the evil in the heart of mankind with evil in objects, a form of animism.

He also worships the power of the state to transform, and thus he has turned the state into his god. “

It is the behaviors to note. They are not unusual in those who have left intellectual integrity behind and are often denied or rationalized. In this case, The Rev. James E. Atwood very likely doesn’t see himself as promoting violations of the Ten Commandments and pushing the worship of the Golden Calf but that just adds another commandment to the list of sins, Where is Moses who saw what happened to his congregation when he came back down from the mountain?

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Walter Williams Wisdom

Townhall has its 20 Greatest Quotes From Walter Williams. ’nuff said. go read. think. ponder.

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A matter of Trust

Professor Sowell describes the modern delimma about trust in government and some of its risks and some of the consequences we have seen already.

“we do not have a choice whether to trust or not to trust government officials. Unless we are willing to risk anarchy or terrorism, the most we can do is set up checks and balances within government — and be a lot more careful in the future than we have been in the past when deciding whom to elect.?”

“More than 50,000 Americans lost their lives winning battles on the ground in Vietnam, only to have the war lost politically back home. We seem to be having a similar scenario unfolding today in Iraq, where soldiers won the war, only to have politicians lose the peace, as Iraq now increasingly aligns itself with Iran.”

It may be that the trust in government is not so much the issue as a trust in the people. The dumping of Vietnam after winning the war was a political sop to those afraid of the draft who used idealism of peace as a rationalization for their fears. The situation in the mid-east is beginning to look like Europe in the 30’s, including the Spanish civil war where the actual price of peace ideologies over liberty and freedom took many lives to clarify. It is the people who select and drive their government and if they do not exercise that power properly, they get a government that abuses their trust and their freedoms.

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Time to move on?

Perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of the many current scandals is the effort to shut them down and pretend they are “solved” and properly handled.

“The left is doing all that it can to keep the focus off Washington in this scandal. The latest attempt came just days ago when Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, one of the top House Democrats leading the congressional probe of the IRS, made the proclamation that the “case is solved” — and that it’s time for the nation to “move on.” This disturbing about-face by Mr. Cummings is a reflection of the Obama administration’s desire to sweep this unconscionable abuse under the rug as quickly as possible.

His comments directly contradict what he had said just days earlier when he called for a “thorough investigation” to restore “truth and trust.” He was very concerned during the hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about getting to the bottom of what transpired at the IRS.”

Jay Sekulow describes the situation as moving a Washington scandal out of town.
“No one really thinks the case is solved. The left just wants it to go away.”
Attacking and blaming the victims, minimizing the events, castigating any who ask questions, denial and evasion of reality … the list of behaviors is common and telling.

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Getting the story straight: how did the MSM get it so wrong?

There is an innordinate and irrational fear about privacy that drives FUD mongering stories. One way to tell is that the stories are often hyperbolic, exagerated, and even blatantly wrong. Ed Bott illustrates the phenomena in regards to the recent NSA PRISM stories.

“That absence of an independent tech check means both publications got the story wrong, as subsequent reporting by other journalists with experience in these topics has confirmed. These are not trivial details, nor is this a matter of semantics. We’re not quibbling over words. If you don’t understand the technical workings of these surveillance programs, you can’t understand whether they’re working as intended, you can’t identify where the government has overstepped its bounds, and you can’t intelligently debate the proper response. The fact that the government has maintained rigid secrecy compounds the problem.”

Who cares is a source is giving away classified and secret information? Who cares if large tech companies get slandered?

“The system described in the PRISM presentation appears to be an automated way to process those FBI and NSA requests. It’s clearly not an open doorway into any of those companies’ servers, as The Guardian and the Post originally alleged. 

The nine companies listed in the PRISM slide deck are there because they offer widely used communication services, most of them free.

The botched reporting by the Guardian and the Post means that millions of readers directed their anger at a handful of big companies that were unfairly accused of selling out their customers to the national security apparatus. The reality is that if NSA surveillance is indeed overstepping its bounds, those companies are victims, not willing participants.”

Anything for a good story, it seems, especially if it trashes the U.S. and large corporate entities. After all, 9/11 and the Boston Bombing were just minor criminal activities and there is no ‘war on terror’ or global ideological conflict laced with significant violence against the innocent.

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“Trust us” and Lois Lerner

George Will thinks There’s more, much more to the Lois Lerner story. He goes back to 1996 when Lerner was with the head of the FEC’s Enforcement Division.

Lerner, it is prudent to assume, is one among thousands like her who infest the regulatory state. She is not just a bureaucratic bully and a slithering partisan; she also is a national security problem, because she is contributing to a comprehensive distrust of government.”

The idea is that it is absolutely necessary to trust a government. That is why, for instance, most voluntarily pay taxes. That trust is under threat and one of the victims of that lack of trust is national security.

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Lipstick on a pig?

When you hear plattitudes about privacy, free speech, civil liberties, imperialism, and evil government, do consider the source and the object. When the source ‘escapes’ to someplace like Russia, China, or others of their ilk and the object has more to do with rationalizing behavior than it does with proper involvement in civics, there is good reason for skepticism. The latest example is the confession of the party whose treason stimulated the brouhaha about NSA monitoring of communications. Ed’s got the story in wondering: are the NSA leaks a form of Chinese espionage?

“Over the next few weeks, we’ll all be trying to make sense of the revelations about the NSA’s surveillance programs, and the motives of at least one man apparently behind them.  Edward Snowden unveiled himself as the source to the Washington Post and the Guardian in the UK, but Snowden wasn’t a seasoned intelligence agent or analyst, but a 29-year-old IT expert without any other advanced education.  His choice of asylum in the wake of the leaks — Hong Kong — as well as Snowden’s explanation of it raised even more eyebrows.”

The pretense is that Hong Kong was chosen as an escape destination because it “‘they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent,’ and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.” — Greenwald is talking about China here, with a straight face?

The story raises another question related to the sale of a technical education. The perpetraitor in this case was in a $200k salary job without even a proper high school diploma to his name.

Lipstick on a pig is one way to describe a thin coat of paint on something very ugly.

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Being worried, very worred, and probably with justification

Herschel Smith says you have no right to invade my home or kill my beasts. It’s about another swat raid that hit the wrong address, busted a door, and killed a dog – all while the resident was elsewhere.

“They busted the door down, with a battering ram or whatever,” he told the Buffalo News. “They came in, and within a few seconds of entering the apartment, they murdered my dog. They shot her multiple times. They had no reason to do that.” Arroyo says his dog, a two-and-a-half-year-old pit bull named Cindy, was killed while chained up in the kitchen, which he discovered ridden with bullet holes.

Herschel thinks there’s a problem here.

“If the police had any smarts whatsoever, they would have peacefully stopped him on the street, while uniformed officers executed a search warrant on his home after getting a locksmith to open the door, keeping the physical plant and hardware intact.

But that’s not sexy and it isn’t statist and totalitarian.  And it doesn’t allow the police to play soldier boy.  There is moral element to these types of raids.”

He thinks the price needs to be increased on the police who engage in such tactics and make mistakes like this. The state of New York illustrates an opposite point of view as they have recently passed a law that police officers can use to go after those who use a cell phone camera to record their actions. There is a fear out there and there are good reasons for that fear.

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A study in distortion

Lee Atwater, a skilled blues guitarist who recorded with B.B. King and advisor to Ronald Reagan, is often (mis)quoted from a 1981 interview to prove that Republicans are racist to their very core. John Hinderaker wonders What did Lee Atwater Really Say?

Going back to the source provides a good case study on how selective quotation with a serious bias in interpretation can lead to disengenuous assertions that serve more for propagana and denial than they do for clarification and honesty.

As with the obsession with an edifice of plausible deniability, this sort of thing illustrates the use of very interpolation, extrapolation, and interpretation on the same side that demands explicit and non-ambiguous establishment of links between assertion and fact on the other. It also shows the persistence in a falsehood as, once such a distortion is created, it is repeated as an a priori presumption of truth (with conviction).

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Gibson v Martin: going after political enemies

A while back, the feds raided Gibson Guitar company because of their use of imported wood in their guitars. That’s the visible part of the episode. Chris Butler has more in Striking the Wrong Chord.

Plausible deniability constructed en masse and, no, both sides are not the same.

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Propaganda via misdirection

Net neutrality is one of those buzzwords that is used by anti-capitalists to lambaste those big evil corporations. The How to Geek illustrates the phenomena in trying to explain what is net neutrality?

“In short, “net neutrality” refers to the principle that all packets on the Internet should be treated equally, without discrimination. Internet service providers should transmit data without prioritizing the data from certain companies.”

Note that assertion about “data from certain companies.” Another tell-tail is

“Advocates of laws that mandate net neutrality for Internet service providers imagine a world where the Internet we know and love has become twisted to serve the aims of Internet service providers, many of whom have monopolies in their geographic areas:”

There are problems with that “monopolies” idea as well but that doesn’t matter if you dislike big business. There is a significant fear that those big companies are going to abuse you with the power they have because they are big. To hold that fear, a denial is needed. There must be no other option available. Of course, that is a denial of the fact that much of the I’net access is via cell phone as well as cable (the two biggest villains) and that there are very many different telephony and video service providers available and competing for your business.

What net neutrality is reall about is prioritization of services. The article says that is when “Websites like Google would have to pay service providers for priority traffic, lest they be throttled.” The reality is that companies provide service and it is the service, not the company, that is the real subject of the debate. That sort of misdirection is the insiduous misdirection that makes articles such as this propaganda and not an honest answering of the question posed.

The real issue is about whether to allow network connection service providers to give your telephone or video connection a higher priority than a software update download. The latest protocols, developed in the 90’s and just being implemented added this capability for very good reasons.

Another bit of denial going on is that one solution to the problem is more bandwith and the large companies from cable to cell to even the landline telephone services are making major investments in both back end and customer access capabilities. That sort of fact tends to go against the grain that the big companies are out to screw customers rather than serve them. One illness in thinking is just that predisposition about others: they are evil and out to get you. Such a bias has never lead to happy outcomes.

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Obsession: Race

“There are many reasons for this sad situation but the main cause is that the perverse equivalent of a national lynch mob took form in which President Obama and Attorney General Holder played shamefully prominent roles. So did racial entrepreneurs such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Spike Lee, as well as the Black Panthers.”

Arnold Trebach, a former federal civil rights official, describes the Forgotton Scandal. “Nothing in the Zimmerman case appears to me like those old cases I investigated. Especially important is the fact that Zimmerman was not a racial bigot, quite the contrary.”

The deck is stacked: the judge and prosecutor carefully selected; the presentable evidence carefully limited; the public carefully propagandized. The facts are clear and those on the front line made clear their original judgments. We will see if the truth will out or if it will be distorted to fit yet another obsession and world view of the politically correct.

see also Getting the Facts Straight in the Zimmerman Case by Jack Cashill.

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Obsessions: Walmart

As a symbol of those large, greedy, evil, worker oppressive corporations, Walmart is right up there. Ross Kaminsky takes a look at The Democrats’ Walmart Obsession and yet another report purporting to show how evil Walmart really is.

“The new report, like the original, is full of economic nonsense and confusion, and so much union-fueled anger against the nation’s largest retailer and private-sector employer that it is bound to be accepted widely among Democrats and the “mainstream” media.”

The problem is that Walmart has to compete. It competes with other employers for its employees. I competes with other companies for its market. If one looks at the ‘big picture’ there are several facts that bely the ‘Walmart is evil’ meme. One is that unions have not been able to stir much interest in Walmart employees. Another is that the company is a sought after employer. The fact that the company is growing clearly indicates that it is doing quite well in competing for market share.

“But why should consumers, especially low-income consumers, pay more for products they buy every day so that George Miller can increase his campaign contributions from unions?

And as usual, champions of a leviathan state don’t even consider the question of why government interference into a private employer-employee agreement is acceptable in a free country.”

 …

“there is one fact that would seem to trump all others: In a free society, where people can choose among their available options whatever they believe is best for themselves and their families, Walmart has more employees than any other company — no thanks to unions or Democrats.”

One of the assertions in these evil corporation reports is that there is a cost to the taxpayers due to the need for governmental support for the low wage earners. These tend to ignore one side of the ledger.

“most obvious, is the question of how much it would cost taxpayers if Walmart were not there to offer jobs to more than a million relatively low-skilled workers.

Fourth, the report never mentions the remarkable disinflationary impact of Walmart, and how this one company is probably the most effective anti-poverty program since the industrial revolution.”

It is enough to make one wonder just what it is that causes such delusion that warrants the psychological escape via the distortion of reality. Do they really want higher prices for basic goods or more people on the streets unemployed? really? This is where their obsession leads.

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