Archive for October, 2016

selbstmord

Suicide became a national trend, exercised by over 10,000 people.

And like in a cult, the mass suicides in Nazi Germany were in part a response to the shock of seeing a massive, inextricable lie come crashing down.

Matt Reimann describes how, In one German town, 1,000 people killed themselves in 72 hours — “Rather than surrender to the Red Army, citizens of Demmin committed ‘selbstmord’. There are famous pictures of citizens of Okinawa jumping off a cliff in response to an invading army. While there are controversies about the coverage of these events in history texts there are also YouTube documentaries interviewing the victims and actual coverage of some of the events. They are historical testament to the trauma of defeat as reality surfaces. WW II provides a particularly stark example where even the holocaust tends to get short shrift and the horrors of humanity barely a pause.

A contrast to that trauma might be in the demise of the U.S.S.R. and the history in Eastern Europe since then as the peoples of the area struggle to come to grips with what was. The terrorist activity in the middle east is sometimes run back to WW I as another lesson of history.

In WW II, the holocaust was only one factor. Appeasement until the invasion of Poland was another. Fantasies for peace fell and they did not fall gracefully. Such fantasies are what lead to the Iron Curtain as well.

When reality finally does come to the door, the results can be ugly. 

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The nature of knowledge, the temptations of the devil.

Sarah Hoyt says the first effect of not believing in God, is to believe in anything. She refers to David French on how Our Post-Christian Culture Often Replaces Faith with Nonsense.

use extreme caution when applying even the most popular psychological concepts to your personal life, to the corporate world, and to public policy. Even the most confidently stated assumptions can be wrong.

So why tie this phenomenon back to faith? Why bring Christianity into the equation? It’s simple. For generations Americans have been taught by word and deed that there is a better way, that the lessons of the Judeo-Christian tradition should be discarded as so much oppressive hocus-pocus. Ancient moral teachings aren’t just false, they’re destructive. With my own eyes I’ve seen Christians — even pastors — refuse to make cultural and moral arguments based on scripture alone. Unless science is also on their side, they’ll keep quiet. Science, after all, is the universal language. Faith is divisive. In reality, “science” is often leading us astray — and for reasons that the biblically literate can easily predict. It turns out that human beings are self-interested, that we’re drawn to quick fixes and splashy results. It turns out that we’re mistake-prone and often make entirely arbitrary judgments. And it turns out that we really, really like to see results that confirm our own righteousness and virtue. In other words, scientists don’t offer an escape from the fallen world; they’re part of the fallen world.

A stimulus for this thinking is recent discoveries that ‘ego depletion’ experiments were not reliable and that led to realizing that many studies in psychology and sociology were also rather difficult to support with consistent experimental results. That realization has put these fields in question that ties into the suspicion and dissonance that results from investigations that disrupt fantasies. There is no discrimination between ‘soft’ results as often is the case in psychology and sociology and ‘hard’ results as is often the case in engineering and physics. This pressure is particularly evident and important in medicine where the ‘hard’ evidence encounters the softer stuff and that leaves room for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) that has no founding in reality but consumes attention and effort and funds to the detriment of healing. 

In religious terms, this is the commandment about false witness. In science, this witness is the truth of God as witnessed by observation and measurement. Critical to this witness is accepting the frailties of humans and that means understanding the limits of observation and measurement. That is why classes in science dwell on accuracy and precision in measurement and why the tools used for aggregate measures (e.g. statistics) emphasize error probabilities and why matters of bias and procedure are important. A proper scientist is one who pays attention to the temptations of false witness and is aware that Truth is only partially visible. That awareness guides the skepticism of a religious scientist.

There are many examples of people who succumb to the temptation of the devil. The creationism ‘debate’ is one example where God’s word laid down in the world around us is contested with an interpretation of human words. The anthropogenic climate alarmism is another topic where underlying fears, political power, and income streams undermine integrity. Even Heisenberg’s observations about quantum mechanics gets twisted in extrapolations to Newtonian scale mechanics. “The first effect of not believing in God, is to believe in anything” is on display. Will we learn?

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Spin: a lexical analysis

John Hinderaker decomposes an AP spin effort the illustrates how either bias or propaganda is expressed and truth becomes fiction.

The Associated Press reports on Donald Trump’s talking about Hillary Clinton’s role in her husband’s rape and sexual harassment scandals. Perhaps recognizing that some people might consider being an accessory to rape and sexual assault more serious failings than talking crudely about women, the AP doesn’t take any chances. You almost have to read between the lines to extract the story from the spin:

When eleven-year-old video of Trump talking crudely was released, was it a “personal attack”? No. But Trump’s criticism of Hillary Clinton is.

Got that? No substance to Trump’s claims, he is simply trying to “deflect” attention from his own “predatory comments.” And note what a strange phrase that is. How can a comment be predatory? Actual predatory behavior (not comments) was shown by Bill Clinton when he raped Juanita Broaddrick, grabbed Kathleen Willey’s breast, and sexually harassed Paula Jones. But the AP wants you to think that such criminal conduct is minor (and in any event “unproven”), whereas Donald Trump’s crude bluster is “predatory.”

There is much more, but you get the point. I would continue, but the spin is making me dizzy.

Along the way, the use of terms such as “defiant”, “dangerous”, “seizing”, “unsubstantiated”, “charge”, and other loaded terms are highlighted and their insidiousness explained. What you have here is a lesson in how to detect when you being fed a load of nonsense by using specific and objective criteria. The sad thing is that such spin may be more a representation of bias (unintentional) rather than propaganda (intentional) and that a large part of the populace buys it.

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Moral preening on parade

Locker room banter caught on tape! Oh, my! What next, bathroom noises from the candidates? It is a diversion from revelations about scandals, real and actual episodes of governance malfeasance, though. Arnold Cusmariu says “Republicans need to remember that history is full of examples of what happens when battlefield commanders overreact at the first sign of trouble and make stupid decisions” and explains why he thinks The Democrats are in mega-panic mode. What’s up? “The usual MSM suspects are having a great time beating the drums against Trump, kicking up as much dust as possible over an essentially silly faux pas.”

Adriana Cohen: Clintons playing prude the height of hypocrisy.

Just imagine if every American’s private conversations were secretly taped over the course of their lives — without their knowledge or consent — and then they were released to the public in a political smear campaign just weeks before the election.

No one would be able to run for public office.

Donald Trump is under fire now for having some locker-room type “guy talk” on a bus 11 years ago. Even though what he said was crude, it means little in the big scheme of things. After all, he didn’t break the law. Because if cheating on one’s spouse — or just discussing the possibility — were a crime, nearly half the country would be behind bars.

But now we have the Clinton camp — and the media who carry water for the Democrats — feigning outrage over Trump’s private comments, comments he made more than a decade ago.

Consider Hillary’s unspeakable hypocrisy in light of her own husband’s wandering ways, and the sexting shenanigans of her best friend Huma Abedin’s hubby, Anthony Weiner.

Not surprisingly, after the Trump hot mic recording was released, Hillary tweeted, “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.”

I’m sure that like Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” she was shocked, shocked to hear such saucy language coming from her Republican rival.

As for moral preening, consider Clarice Feldman on The Republican White Togas at Work for the Queen of Sleaze.

Years ago I wrote of my contempt for the white togaed squishes of the right who flee the grounds of the forum when jackals attack their allies in order to keep their garb free of stain. …

Just as evidence of the Clinton corruption is once again made manifest in the release of more of her emails and a closer look at the late revised Clinton foundation filings, they flee Trump because of a suspiciously timed tape of an eleven-year-old conversation with GHW Bush’s nephew, Billy Bush. If, like a toddler, you are easily distracted by shining objects. you’ll fall for it. If you’re a grownup who realizes the fate of the world and this country depend on your vote you won’t.

I used to be a Democrat so nothing shocks me, but Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and others quickly virtue-signaled, in effect playing for Hillary.

Mitt’s response was the most perfervid. He claimed the taped words “demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world”. I cannot improve upon the responses of my online friends “daddy” and James D” to this nonsense.

In any event, GW Bush admitted he and his dad used the same sort of talk in private, and Vernon Jordan said when they were golfing he and Bill Clinton did, too.

I doubt that Americans are so addlepated as to pick an incompetent, thoroughly corrupt globalist over an often-vulgar man who loves his country and has accomplished a great deal. I think this leak came so early in the month because Clinton and her allies fear this is true.

The latest flash polls indicate that Feldman may be right. The locker room tape doesn’t seem to make as much of an impact on the voter as it does on the Established Politicians.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker asks Is it time to jump ship?

it can be useful to ask, What would the Democrats do? Here there is no need to speculate: we saw what they did in the 1990s. They circled the wagons and defended their man to the hilt, using whatever smears and lies were helpful, even though he was credibly accused of rape and multiple instances of sexual harassment. Indeed, that is what the Democrats are doing now with Hillary Clinton, as revelations much more material to her performance in office than the Trump video have come out over the past year or two. See, generally, Clinton Cash. Republicans are always held to a higher standard than Democrats, but why? Maybe this is as good a time as any to reject the double standard and fight fire with fire.

The topic certainly has the discussion going. D.C. McAllister says America, You Have No Right to Judge Donald Trump. His point is that “The creep of moral relativism in America has been steady for many decades … The notion that there is objective truth or absolute morality has been universally panned to the point that everything is tolerated except standards of right and wrong. We reap what we sow, so why the hubbub?

NeverTrumpers descended in holier-than-thou glee as they declared how noble and right they’ve always been not to support such a despicable man. And the left has been howling like puritanical wolves, condemning him for his immorality and sexist treatment of women.

I find this reaction to Trump’s private conversation rather ironic. It’s ironic coming from a secular culture that long ago declared objective morality dead. It’s ironic coming from politicos and media bottom-feeders who defended the abusive and disgusting behavior of Bill Clinton, not when he was a private citizen but when he was a sitting president.

They—the GOP political elites now chiding Trump voters about virtue—made a deal with the Devil long ago to secure political influence and power. By abandoning the moral foundations that would have prevented the rise of Trump, they have no basis on which to even whisper about the immorality of Trump.

Perhaps other voters are just getting tired of obnoxious, better than thou, moral preening and the expression of hubris. Perhaps the voter sees nasty political tactics for what they are. Perhaps there is reason not to give up on the voter. At least, not yet.

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Perspective on the election

Scott Johnson presents Ammo Grrrll on the prospect before us in BINARY FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ME.

From the very beginning of the primary contest, I have been confused and shocked by the vitriol aimed at Trump, and only Trump, from OUR side’s sizable glump of #NeverTrumpers. Now, as I have said repeatedly in this column, Trump was not even my 6th choice. I voted for Cruz in the Arizona primary.

But, see, Trump won and faces Hillary. What part of binary decision do “undecideds” and especially conservative #NeverTrumpsters not understand?

For better, or worse, Trump is our standard bearer and our thin, orange line against four more disastrous years of political correctness, open borders, lawlessness at the highest level, hideous Supreme Court picks, gun grabbing, deliberate security breaches, BleachBit, IRS witchhunts, another Affirmative Action hire who can’t be criticized because she’s a woman, and appalling attacks on everything military, law enforcement, traditional, or American.

It seems that some of the pundits have lived lives free of the necessity of picking between two unattractive choices. Some may not ever have had to choose between paying the electric bill (or having that shut off) or making the minimum payment on the VISA bill and paying 27% interest.

If you frequently get what you want – choosing, say, between the steak and the lobster in a restaurant – or, what the hey, just having the Surf ‘N Turf together – then you don’t think you deserve to be forced to make a less-than-perfect choice. You can stand on principle. In this case, evidently, the appalling principle of electing Hillary Clinton.

In other words, there’s a lot of folks who are comfortable enough, at least right now, not to worry about the consequences of their actions. By the time they have to live with the consequences of those actions (or inaction) it will be too late. There is a choice to be made and it will be made. Your choice, to borrow from the Little League analogy the Ammo Grrrl offered, is whether or not to swing the bat.

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The sea of the better good

Roger Simon is worried about Turning the USA Totalitarian for the ‘Better Good’.

With each passing day it becomes clearer the investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal was such a sham that it did far more than merely tarnish the reputations of the FBI and the Department of Justice. It distorted our legal system beyond recognition.

The FBI and Justice Department have apparently been used by one political party to keep the other out of power by covert manipulation of our system. That means these institutions have been turned on their heads into instruments of state oppression extraordinarily close to those used by totalitarian regimes.

Where will this end? The casual acceptance of this travesty by significant portions of the electorate and an even greater percentage of our media means that the chances of a return to the rule of law and an even-handed legal system are remote.

I would like to remind those people that many of the greatest despots in history were initially convinced they too worked for the “better good.” We know the results of that.

There is the old tale about boiling a frog slowly so he doesn’t notice what is happening until it is too late. He is a water creature after all and it is a comfortable environment. For the people, that environment is the ‘better good’ and, man, is it getting hot in here.

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Voter integrity problem? What problem?

Opponents of measures to improve ballot integrity like to deny that voter fraud exists. “Voter fraud is very rare, [and] voter impersonation is nearly non-existent,” asserts a statement by NYU law school’s Brennan Center entitled “The Myth of Voter Fraud.” That claim, so common on the left, is based on an assumption that election officials are on the lookout for fraud and mistakes. But incidents in states from Virginia to Pennsylvania to New York show that too many election officials are ignoring or even covering up the systemic problems brought to their attention. One way not to find something is simply not to look.

John Fund says When Election Officials Ignore Voter Fraud, We Need More Oversight — “Those who pretend that fraud doesn’t exist are a threat to the integrity of our elections.”

According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, one out of eight American voter registrations is inaccurate, out-of-date, or a duplicate. Some 2.8 million people are registered in two or more states, and 1.8 million registered voters are dead.

J. Christian Adams, who previously worked in the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Section and attended the 2009 Fernandez meeting, now heads the Public Interest Law Foundation. He has forced several counties in states such as Mississippi and Texas to clean up their voter rolls. But in many other states, his efforts have run into outright obstructionism. He was able to get voter-registration records from eight of Virginia’s 133 cities and counties, and found 1046 illegal aliens who were illegally registered to vote. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, a number of those aliens had voted some 300 times. Their presence on the voter rolls was only discovered if, in renewing their driver’s licenses, they corrected their past false claims of citizenship.

Obstructionism? That particular tactic is a common political weapon often accompanied by accusing the other side of doing the obstructing (think federal budgeting).

What is worrisome is that the courts overturn reasonable voter assurance laws based on the idea that there is no problem. First, obstruct and deny and then use the lack of overt evidence as support to avoid corrections.

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Are people parasites on the planet?

Chet Richards lays it out: Why Environmentalism Became Both a Religion and a Con Game. What has happened to us? When? How? Chet provides clues for insight and inspection.

John Muir was a Conservationist, not an Environmentalist. He saw the wilderness as a “primary source for understanding God: The Book of Nature.” Muir did not worship Nature, as modern environmentalists do. Muir worshiped God, the Judeo-Christian God. So, here is the difference: Conservation derives from the Hebrew Bible. Mankind is to be Stewards of the Land. We are charged to husband God’s creation.

Environmentalists, for the most part, believe that the Earth’s biosphere is God. And, that human beings are destructive parasites, eating away at the life of their deity. In effect, most environmentalists are atheists searching for something larger than themselves to worship.

This notion that people are parasites really got started in the 1960’s.

The high priests: Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich, James Lovelock.

This eminent scientist was scathing in his comments — particularly about the sheer ignorance of the movement’s devoted followers. … The true believers still believe without understanding. Environmentalism is a religion after all.

Long established religions have traditionally provided a framework for ordering one’s life and for reducing this natural sense of insecurity. As we have discovered, there is something about the post World War Two world that has, at least in the West, broken these traditional religious frameworks. Something happened during the war to cause people to no longer trust religious authority.

A skilled confidence man knows that the best way to hook a victim is through the victim’s vanity. The environmental movement is a con. Its leadership preys on the ignorance, insecurity, and hubris of its followers.

But there is always another con, and each new con means further loss of freedom. For half a century the environmental movement has been the primary tool of those leaders who wish to suppress individual freedom and individual initiative. The erosion has been slow, but it has been steady.

True care for the environment, true care for nature, is a rich man’s game. Only the prosperous have the resources to protect the natural world. Only those living in comfort believe that it matters.

Poor people care little for Nature. Poor people struggle just to live. They don’t have time for environmental diversions. The environmentalist con takes away freedom and replaces it with diminished prosperity. Carried far enough, political environmentalism ultimately will drive people into impoverished serfdom and, with the greatest irony of all, it will wreck the environment.

Post WW II, the sixties when the baby boom that was an immediate aftermath of the war gained majority, that is when the tide turned. Carson’s notable works from the fifties culminated with Silent Spring, out in 1962. That made 1962 a marker for the turning point where conservationists spawned environmentalists, where religion and belief turned from God to Gaia, and the idea of humans as parasites on the planet became mainstream. 

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Lawless left? Where’s the outrage?

Kelly Riddell: No outrage for the lawless left — “The left’s bad behavior generates little national condemnation.”

Felon voting, illegal program funding, targeting of political enemies with government agencies, illegal document disclosure, attorney generals using their office to persecute political opponents, cronyism, withholding of public documents, …

response? a big yawn.

worried, yet?

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Under assault: Clinton Tactics?

Scott Adams describes his experiences about The Week I Became a Target. It illustrates campaign tactics in play.

This weekend I got “shadowbanned” on Twitter. It lasted until my followers noticed and protested. Shadowbanning prevents my followers from seeing my tweets and replies, but in a way that is not obvious until you do some digging.

it was probably because I asked people to tweet me examples of Clinton supporters being violent against peaceful Trump supporters in public. I got a lot of them. It was chilling.

Late last week my Twitter feed was invaded by an army of Clinton trolls

At around the same time, a bottom-feeder at Slate wrote a hit piece on me that had nothing to do with anything. Except obviously it was politically motivated.

The one and only speaking gig I had on my calendar for the coming year cancelled yesterday because they decided to “go in a different direction.”

Then they started leaving fake book reviews on Amazon to go after my book sales.

The thing is, these stories, at least the credible ones, are from one direction and they also fit a pattern that goes back twenty years or more. What is frightening is that a great mass of the electorate does not seem to care and even goes to great lengths to rationalize and deny. The price is being paid. The NFL might be showing an early measurable example.

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Gender myths tenaciously held

Mark Perry considers The remarkable academic superiority of high school girls vs. high school boys as shown in an analysis of data released by the College Board that was collected from the academic records of the 1.64 million US high school students who took the SAT in 2016.

And shouldn’t this clear academic superiority of female high school students also challenge the need for hundreds of women’s centers and women’s commissions on college campuses across the country?

I’m not sure the overwhelming evidence of female academic success from high school through doctoral programs will be enough to challenge the existence of gender activism on college campuses, and probably won’t lead to the elimination of women’s centers and women’s commissions. The “female grievance industry” is too entrenched at our universities and in society, and we’ll probably never hear about how female academic success represents such an important victory and milestone for women, that the hundreds of university women’s centers are no longer needed or justified. No, instead we’ll probably hear for generations about how important it is to monitor and report on the “status and needs of college women,” while ignoring the “status and needs” of the “second sex” on college campuses – men.

It’s a “white privilege” thing and only white men have that ‘privilege’ so, therefore, facts don’t matter if they don’t support the meme. 

The data does show that the efforts over the last forty years or so to eliminate gender bias in education, especially in STEM topics, has yielded positive results. The difficulty is in that fact that the desired outcomes have not succumbed. The idea does not seem to sink in that having more girls in the academic elite in schools does not translate into more women mathematicians and scientists earning top wages and honors. Like the anthropogenic global warming alarmists, the disconnect between the models and the reality is stunning. It should lead to trying to figure out what is wrong with the models but, instead, it only seems to stimulate doubling down on insisting that closely held models are more real than actual measure.

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Reality loses to pandering. Again

It’s about safety on the roads this time. Richard Berman says it’s Blowing smoke over road safety. “Politicians target alcohol offenders while ignoring distracted driver carnage.”

California’s legislature and governor overlooked their own Department of Motor Vehicles’ recommendation against adopting the ignition interlock mandate. In its pilot program, the DMV found that crashes increased by up to a sixth after interlocks were installed because they distracted drivers. This is partially a result of their “rolling retest” requirement that makes drivers blow at random intervals while driving. Query: Why do we pay for research if it’s ignored?

Instead, Golden State lawmakers followed the advice of the activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has a mission to increase interlock use.

Meanwhile, interlock compliance rates among hardcore drunk drivers (a BAC of 0.15 or above), who are already subject to them under existing law, are low. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 80 to 85 percent of offenders mandated to use interlocks don’t install them.

The threat from drugged driving has also grown significantly in recent years as states experiment with legalizing marijuana. According to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10 million people admitted to driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year.

Targeting low-BAC and first-time offenders like California’s new law does is a poor use of the scarce resources available to keep the roads safe. Traffic safety officials should instead target the hardcore drunk drivers, distracted drivers and drugged drivers who pose an overwhelmingly greater threat to road safety. Atmospherics and optics may be good for re-election but they won’t save lives or make our roads any safer.

This is in the same family as the gun control effort to “close a background check loophole” and many other sound good fruitless efforts. Someone is aggrieved and wants to do something about it. What they want to do is to restrict and regulate and control others despite human nature, reality, cost, benefit, or implications of their demanded solution. They never learn, the never listen, and they never sit down to consider the consequences, implications, and reality of their desires.

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