Archive for August, 2013

Historians vs Hollywood

A number of historians describe What ‘The Butler’ gets wrong about Ronald Reagan and race.

These are just a few examples of Reagan’s sensitivity to racial discrimination. This attitude was instilled by his mother, who was deeply involved in the Disciples of Christ, and his father, who refused to allow him to see the movie “Birth of a Nation” because it glorified the Ku Klux Klan.

But you don’t get any sense of that in the film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

As historians of the 40th president, having written more than a dozen biographies between us, we are troubled by the movie’s portrayal of Reagan’s attitudes toward race. We are especially concerned because many Americans readily accept Hollywood depictions of history as factual.

There is an agenda to be supported. The propaganda is necessary, even if intellectually dishonest, to support that agenda. The past will be painted in a manner that suits the agenda. The question is whether it is Hollywood’s propaganda or the Historian’s story of reality that will surface over time and what will happen (and at what cost) in the meantime.

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The greatest scandal of our times

John Hinderaker describes how The Democratic Party Lies For Money in an incessant email campaign to raise funds by demagogueing its opposition.

“I have documented many times the hysterical appeals and outrageous lies that the Democratic Party uses to raise money from its gullible followers.” … “Huh? “Reckless threats to destroy Medicare and Social Security”? Where were they?” … “One of the ironies here is that President Obama and the Democratic Congress cut $700 billion from Medicare as part of the Affordable Care Act. This fact goes entirely unremarked in the Democrats’ emails and, as far as I can tell, is entirely unknown to the party’s faithful.”

“Millions of voters get emails like this one every day. They are filled with misinformation and outright lies, but the vast majority of Democratic voters are low-information and don’t know any better. The party’s leaders know it, and they cynically prey upon their voters’ ignorance. Every leading Democrat, from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton to Nancy Pelosi, knows what their party is up to, and condones it–as long as it raises lots and lots of money. The Democratic Party’s eagerness to lie for money is the great political scandal of our time, yet it goes almost entirely unremarked.”

While creating completely bogus straw men to create fear and raise funds is a scandal, the real worrisome issue here is how such behavior is defended. Deluding others is a scandal. Deluding one’s self takes it to a whole new level. ‘Greatest scandal’ indeed.

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Artful Dodging – how they do it

Propaganda and the art of convincing the public to believe what you want them to, or to help yourself believe what you want to, has a very long history. The Golden Age Of Artful Dodging provides an overview.

“Here’s a list of the most common, and successful, techniques currently in use. If you spend any time at all consuming mass media, you will find these techniques familiar. That in itself is scary, but you decide.”

22 techniques in the list and that just covers the most commonly used.

“There are many other techniques, as the last century has been a golden age for this sort of duplicity. The Internet has accelerated the development of new techniques because the web tends to shorten the useful life of these media scams. “

One of the ways to avoid being lead astray is to be able to recognize these techniques in use. Most of the time it is rather blatant, such as name calling or over-humanization. At the very least, by knowing the techniques, you can put pressure on those trying to use them to be more creative and more subtle. The real difficulty is that those using them often do so as a matter of psychological defense rather than as planned propaganda program. They may not even be aware of what they do. That can be a warning for you – examine your own arguments for these techniques and use what you find to learn about yourself.

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Race wars, a tangled web with the victim count growing

The Zimmerman case was a matter of running a flag up the pole to gather the troops, it seems. John Lott takes off from there on Obama’s Racial Imbalance:

“Would these attacks have occurred without the perception that Zimmerman was motived by race? Maybe. The Zimmerman case could have been only an excuse for attacks that would have taken place anyway. Nevertheless, the list of attackers who explicitly mention Trayvon’s name is long enough to be disturbing.”

Then there is a detailed look at the campaign to elevate the Zimmerman case from what it was to what is wasn’t.  Is This What Ryan Julison Intended All Along?.

“Many people are noticing the uptick in young black males attacking, and in some recent cases, killing, white people. One of the connections that joins them all appears just below the surface. Each of these events are connected, and each of these connections are being totally ignored by the media.”

Investigations reveal that there are connections to other race war battles. The leadership in this war has been noted, especially in the relationships between the current administration and some of the well known race baiters. Much like the terrorism war, it is a one sided campaign permeated by political correctness and driven by malicious propaganda.

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Just what is religion? Some are more equal than others?

Can you choose your clients? It appears the government says no. Greenfield notes a recent decision where the Court Rules Christian Photographers Must “Compromise their Religious Values” for Gay Wedding.

“Why must we “compromise our values” to accommodate clashing values. Why can’t the people acting out their imaginary wedding compromise their values instead by leaving photographers who don’t want their business alone?

Why is the need of two lesbians to have a wedding photographers more compelling than Freedom of Religion?”

The lesbians found another photographer but filed a complaint against the one who declined to provide service. The judge ruled that the complaint was valid and photographers cannot decline to serve clients because of religious reasons. What that means is that the idea thaat “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof” (1st ammendment to the U.S. Constitution) is quite restricted. It is not only egregious practice in the name of religion, such as human sacrifice or such things, that can be subject to law, it is now the simple matter of choosing with whom one does business. Congress has defined protected classes and they have a status that supercedes the Constitution according to this judge.

The idea that some folks are more equal than others has been in the news a lot lately.

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Tragedy and consequence

The WSJ took a look at the controversy centered on a Duncan, OK story. They note that “part of the story is what didn’t happen.” The attempt this time is to divert the attention to the tools and not the perps.

“it would almost be a relief if we could blame such a murder on guns.

Then we wouldn’t have to focus on a culture that produces teenagers for whom the prospect of shooting an innocent man in the back on a Friday evening apparently raised not a scintilla of conscience. That is the deeper tragedy, and the real scandal, of too much of American life. ”

“For ‘the Fun of It'” is the topic. Race on this one was there but not at the core. Stand your ground or self defense issues are not at play. Even rivalries, revenge or such motives are not at play, either. It was a drive by shooting by teens who just didn’t think that killing someone was of any consequence.

“That is also an issue of far greater consequence to the future of young black men than the acquittal of George Zimmerman in his awful showdown with Trayvon. If only Mr. Sharpton and his fellow black leaders paid attention to what was missing in the lives of those three teenagers. Maybe President Obama would even care to use it as one of his teachable moments. ”

There is denial – Beckel provided an example by dragging up a gun tragedy that was so inane it could be used to suggest outlawing backyard pools – there is avoidance – anything but a hard look at teens without a moral grounding and what else they are missing. Therein like the tragedy and the consequence.

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The Peak (whatever) hypothesis: Grid edition

Chris Martin et al at Bloomberg think the U.S. power grid’s days are numbered. The article provides a good example of author bias and wishful thinking. A key for their scenario is that they note that “After subsidies, solar power is competitive with grid power costs in large parts of those markets.” The ‘after subsidies’ is critical because it says that all of their calculations and expectations are not based on real world actual costs. This is typical of those advocating, anticipating, or wishing for ‘green energy’ taking over the world.

The real world works in real costs. Sometimes the real costs can be hidden for a while but eventually they will show. Many businesses fail because the entrepreneurs missed something that ended up making the business not being as profitable as imagined. When it comes to government, all one has to do is to look at the history of socialist or communist run countries. It took the Soviet Union something like 70 years for reality to show. Soviet Union puppets may be lasting a bit longer – they are being subsidized and that moves the impact.

The fact is that the grid may indeed change. Currently the easiest (most cost effective) means to distribute energy is via electricity. The other common ‘grid’ is that for natural gas. A third option is containerized energy like gasoline and propane, fuels that depend upon transport in tankers. Whether by wire or by pipe or by other transport system, an energy market will continue to exist and a ‘grid’ will be behind it.

Perhaps the most significant change will be if natural gas fuel cells sufficient to power homes can be developed. These have been promised for more than fifty years and power companies have had incentives in place for them for almost that long. A fuel cell like that would shift delivery from wire to pipe.

Peak whatever, the demise of the existing whatnot, dreams are often poorly based and use innappropriate analogies. Bloomberg provides an example. Meanwhile, reality happens. If allowed, growth and change can happen, too. The problem, as seen in the war on fracking, is that “allowed” part as their are some very vocal and insistent groups who want their dreams, want it now, and cannot tolerate anything else no matter what.

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Louder doesn’t mean better

The topic is Fracking. The technology has been around for a long, long time but recent advances have made it much more productive and that gets the greens going. Via Meadia notes the brouhaha centered around Balcombe in Gread Britain.

“Fletcher was careful to note that the Church holds no official position on the matter, but his plea for cooler heads echoes our own in the American context. The loudest voices in this discussion are often the ones least grounded in fact.”

Logic, reason, and experience do not support the opposition to the technique so a tantrum is in order. Why is another question. Plentiful local energy resources tend to be a boon for those on the bottom of the economic ladder and the lessening of dependence on foreign energy has its benefits as well.

The loudest voices in a political debate and the most shrill deserve the greatest skepticism.

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Propaganda and subsidence of truth: the anti-gun zealots

Andrew Braca says its a Deceptive Trayvon Martin Shooting Reenactment Video Released

“The video is highly deceptive, and nothing more than a continuation of the propaganda campaign about the case.

Had they felt any affinity for the truth, they might have mentioned Martin’s emerging from the darkness to fell Zimmerman with a blow the neighborhood watch volunteer never saw coming, a blow that hit with such force that it broke Zimmerman’s nose, and which he described to police that same night as feeling as if he had been hit by a brick. … they might have mentioned Zimmerman’s many and numerous injuries about the head and face, especially those caused by Martin striking Zimmerman’s head on a cement sidewalk, with any single blow capable of being the one that turned Zimmerman into a drooling vegetable or simply taking his life. … they might have mentioned Martin’s long record of school violence, his engagement in street fighting, his apparent drug use, his apparent gun dealing, and his self-expressed desire to beat his victims until they had suffered “enough”. … they might have mentioned Zimmerman’s long history of affectionate and communal relationship with black neighbors throughout his life, from his childhood to the present day, or indeed Zimmerman’s own mixed-race background.”

“By demanding a legal duty to retreat from a felonious attacker they weaken the position of the law-abiding armed citizen who sought no fight and strengthen the hand of the felony criminal who possessed all the power to choose when, where, and how to launch his vicious attack, robbery, or rape of his intended victim.”

For The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, reality does not seem to matter as much as another agenda. That should qualify that agenda as being as suspect as their view of reality.

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Who’s your hero, Lone Ranger?

The new edition of the Lone Ranger is out to ‘correct’ the sins of the past. The new Tonto, Johnny Depp, wanted to play an Indian in a more sypathetic light. The truth Johnny Depp wants to hide about the real-life Tontos: How Comanche Indians butchered babies, roasted enemies alive and would ride 1,000 miles to wipe out one family tells a different story.

“By casting the cruelest, most aggressive tribe of Indians as mere saps and victims of oppression, Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger perpetuates the patronising and ignorant cartoon of the ‘noble savage’.

Not only is it a travesty of the truth, it does no favours to the Indians Depp is so keen to support.”

People these days seem so confused about their heroes. Perhaps that is why Egypt is in such turmoil.

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Hate crimes, racism, etc (but only with the proper target)

“with their policy initiatives revealed as failures, and with their intellectual cupboard bare of new ideas, the Democrats have learned that organizing hate campaigns against the Republicans that stir up racial divisions and mislead poorly-informed voters is their best strategy. They will pursue it again between now and November 2014.”

“the remarkable thing about the appeals the Democratic Party makes to its faithful is that they are completely devoid of any reference to public policy. They contain no facts and assert no arguments. They contain no positive element. They simply paint Republicans as villains and urge their followers to contribute to the Democratic team.”

“Will it work in 2014? I don’t know, but it certainly did in 2012. I wouldn’t bet against it this time.”

An email blast got Mr. Hinderaker going on about how The Dems Rally Their Legions of Haters for 2014. Compare and contrast if you dare. If you can’t see the difference between this sort of main stream Democrat party appeal to the base and an equivalent level Republican appeal, you are a part of the problem and not of the solution.

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Rodeo clown steps into prohibited speech

“As every Constitutional scholar knows, the First Amendment includes a clause that strictly forbids mockery of the President of the United States, depending on who it is, and which party he belongs to. It’s in one of the penumbras of the Constitution, or maybe it’s an emanation. I always get those two mixed up.”

That is now, of course, not then. So, now, the Rodeo clown forces decimated and on the run

“Just forget about all those effigies of George Bush you saw the Left parading around with, back when Americans had full-time jobs. That was completely different.”

Next up is likely to be the late night talk show hosts?

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advocating the “prohibition of the free exercise thereof”

KNIGHT: Recalling what freedom of religion meant to the Founders – “Make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is getting stretched, battered, and misused.

“Like the Soviet Union’s commissars and President Obama, they support “the freedom to worship,” a cramped view of religious freedom that protects essentially nothing. You can do what you want behind closed doors or inside your head. God help you, though, if you want to have an active faith and exercise your constitutional freedom outside those doors. … Increasingly, professional pests like the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are using lawsuits to stamp out freedom of religion.”

But just advocating the “prohibition of the free exercise thereof” isn’t enough for some.

“Barrie Drewitt-Barlow told the Essex Chronicle that despite obtaining a civil union in 2006 with the rights and benefits of marriage, “I am still not getting what I want . It upsets me because I want it so much — a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don’t think it is going to happen straight away.”

No, the unraveling of a civilization takes time, even when it’s proceeding at blinding speed, aided by government coercion.”

It is about tolerance, bigotry, and the placement of personal desire above anything else.

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How do they get away with it?

TYRRELL: Sociopaths and Democrats. Women eagerly forgive rogues, just not Republican rogues

This argument that one’s “sexual problem” is a sickness rather than a vice is not new in American life. President Clinton survived impeachment by relying on it. So perhaps we can understand why the fiend Castro should trot it out again.

Yet maybe we ought to turn our attention to the voters, at least to the Democratic voters who are supporting these candidates despite their sexual aberrations. Bear in mind these sexual aberrations were committed against women. How do you explain that the very Democrats that declaim against the Republicans for waging a “war on women” are supporting candidates who harass women, traffic in women, and publicly expose themselves to women?

Voters don’t seem to care, at least in certain circumstances. Belong to one group and you are OK. Belong to another and you are evil. There’s a name for that sort of classification and it is ugly.

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Whitewash

ALLARD: A generous second coat of the Benghazi whitewash. CNN won’t challenge the White House with tough questions.

“Like CNN on Wednesday evening, the review board made reasonable noises, but couldn’t reach a conclusion any better than a proverbial room full of economists. Cynical observers such as, say, Rep. Darrell E. Issa have even voiced suspicions that the main purpose of the board was to provide political cover for State Department bureaucrats and their esteemed then-secretary, Hillary Rodham Clinton. To ensure scrupulous objectivity, CNN even interviewed Mr. Issa — but mostly asked him about the use of Benghazi as a Republican fundraiser or — even worse — a poison pill against a future presidential run by Mrs. Clinton.”

This sounds a lot like the various ‘investigations’ into climate research improprieties. Stack up a pile of whitewash efforts that do all they can to avoid the elephant in the room and then use the number of ‘investigation’ results to ‘prove’ that all is well and the deniers (or Republicans) should just shut up and get with the program

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Still after Bush …

Mike Masnick says It’s Dangerous For Free Speech When We Confuse Leakers With Spies (from the they’re-not-the-same dept). The problem he has is about what isn’t the same. A spy doesn’t become a whistleblower just because you like the results. The ideology over fact bias shows in the escalation of opinion to judgment in regards to the Bush administration:

” When we start turning the leakers and the press into “spies” we make that much more difficult, and as a result we have a less free society, and a much more controlling and abusive government.

Of course, some would argue that this is the goal. The very same article quotes former Bush administration apologist lawyer John Yoo — infamous in part because of his tortured legal defense, twisting the clear meaning and intent of the Geneva Conventions in order to pretend that the US could use torture as an interrogation technique without violating the rules. Not surprisingly, Yoo doesn’t have any problem at all with condemning leakers as spies. … Of course, Yoo is either woefully ignorant or flat out lying”

The idea that Yoo might not be ignorant and might indeed be truthful is not in consideration and that means that very mean nuances and implications of an ideology are also being denied. It is part and parcel of playing mind games with the difference between a whistleblower and a spy as well as the dismissal of any whose opinion differ:

“those in power don’t seem to much care for a free and fair society — because they’re in power. But for people who would like to have a government that actually represents the people, this should be a major concern.”

The cases at point both involve not just whistleblowing – the reveal of improper behavior – but also the release of confidential information. That release of information distinguishes between whistleblowers and spies. There is also the issue of following appropriate procedures. Special procedures have been established for the disclosure of improper behavior by government entities and a whistleblower would use them. That was not the avenue taken by the people Masnick is trying to defend. Instead, the attempted to gain notoriety by violating their employment agreements and exposing information that could be used to great harm by others who hate the United States.

The signs and symptoms are there. The pattern is one of logical fallacies, denial, and a lack of intellectual integrity. Rationalizing and blaming do not make the case.

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The insidious war on rights

It’s about tactics in the war on the right to bear arms: Ark. attorney general says school must name teachers in gun program. It started with a newspaper that wanted to ‘out’ those in the school district program that were trained, equipped, and deputized as ‘private security.’ Attorney General Dustin McDaniel offered an advisory opinion regarding the FOIA request:

“”Given the unusual duties and responsibilities the school district intended to assign to the ERT members, I must conclude that knowing the number of ERTS members and their identities would shed great light on the school district’s performance of its duties,” McDaniel wrote. “In my opinion, though the privacy interest is weighty, the public’s interest is at least as weighty, which means that the record must be disclosed.””

In other words, the privacy of the teachers is a minor consequence because anyone who wants to plan another school attack has a higher need to be able to get the information they need to do the most damage. One has to wonder about just what it is that is such an important public interest to be able to identify exactly who is carrying weapons and who is not. It seems to almost be voyeurism on the part of the newspaper – maybe peeking into bedroom windows will also be considered a similar “weighty” public interest by the AG?

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Who your hero?

Arnold Ahlert calls it Heroizing a Traitor.

“Despite how his apologists characterize him, Manning, a mentally disturbed individual, was on the verge of being discharged from the military after only six weeks of basic training when he perpetrated his crime.” … “These supporters, like Manning himself, couldn’t care less about the enormous damage Manning has done.” … “Manning was portrayed as a small-town Oklahoma boy who joined the Army with the best intentions, only to become disillusioned by alleged government misconduct that he felt compelled to share with the world.”

“Manning’s courtroom portrayal was preformed in tandem with a long campaign perpetrated primarily by the anti-military, anti-American left, for whom Manning’s status as a victim of American “evil” made him a hero. Glenn Greenwald, who has championed a similar effort on behalf of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, referred to Manning as “a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives,” and a “national hero.” The city of Berkeley, CA considered passing a resolution declaring him a hero until it was tabled. The Nation’s Chase Madar referred to Manning as “patriot” who has “done his duty” and “complied with it to the letter.” The New Statesman’s Peter Tatchell called him a ”humanist and a man with a conscience.””

“The desire to instigate this kind of grand-scale destruction is undoubtedly what led Manning to a website whose founder, Julian Assange, has stated goal his to “bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality — including the US administration.””

Privacy is a big issue these days but only when it involves a particular complainer. When it involves masses of people involved in fundamental struggles, then privacy is evil. The U.S. hatred only uses this ideology as a foil and there seem to be a lot of folks who follow along and don’t stop to consider the implications. Manning is having the implications explained to him.

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How to win elections in the modern era: spreading the butter thin

Stewart Baker is wondering Did the President Win Re-Election by Violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

“It’s clever. It’s the future. And it’s a violation of the CFAA. Facebook doesn’t let users share access to their accounts, and anything Facebook doesn’t authorize is very likely a federal crime. (Because Facebook is limiting access to information, not just use of information, the conduct was very likely criminal even under the more limited construction of the CFAA adopted in the Ninth Circuit.)”

“Perhaps the campaign, or some official in the administration, checked quietly with Justice and got an assurance that its prosecutors would not inconvenience the campaign. Or perhaps the campaign thought about the risk and said, “Pff! Those guys work for us. They’ll never prosecute, especially if we win.” Or perhaps the Obama campaign went to Facebook and got a quiet waiver of the terms of service.”

This is just another front in a broad campaign of questionable tactics that often depended upon modern capabilities in information technologies. It fits in well with what is being learned about the IRS scandal that is spreading to links with the FEC and other organizations. Being able to find specific targets by culling a mass of information is what the NSA brouhaha is all about. It spreads the butter thin so each particular incident is minor and can be easily swept under the rug. After a while, the rug might get to be a bit elevated over the floor due to all the dirt under it but at least any particular incident can be easily minimized as non-consequential if taken out of context. The issue now that investigations are being conducted is whether or not the efforts to minimize the “phony scandals” will be accepted or not.

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