Whenever I grow soft on the new Hillary Clinton -- the termperate, moderate, responsible senator who does her homework, ably represents her constituents, and respects those who may disagree with her -- it occurs to me that maybe I'm just engaging in the willing suspension of disbelief. I used to fall for every new Nixon, too.That may be where we have seen her before. The "Zelig like" personality changes-radical in College, lawyer, doting Governor and Candidate's wife, firebrand firing the White House travel staff and running the secret healthcare talks, etc, etc. ... is she Hillary Rodham, Hillary Clinton, or Hillary Rodham-Clinton today? The laugh that sounds like it comes from some house of horrors tells us; both, all, and none of the above.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
O'Hare hasn't really changed a lot in the 30 years that I've been passing through here from time to time on personal or business travel. The laptops, iPods and high quality coffee are new. The other thing that is new getting into the system of course, the security. Sometimes our system of government really does create the "worst of all worlds". We end up with a government employed, unionized, slow-motion, minimum service TSA cadre of people and EVERYONE has to "go through the system".
It is pretty amazing to see them taking the shoes from a very elderly lady in a wheelchair. The odds against a plane crash are high, but they are pretty much a "dead certainty" compared to the odds that she is a terrorist! Does constant exposure to that level of stupidity corrupt the mind so that the MSM and the "general view" make the common public sheep unable to think critically? It may; it also increases the chances falling into the relativism that would equate something relatively innocuous like "sex sells", or "3.99 seems less than $4.00 more so than it really is", with a complete perversion of logic AND human nature that says "profiling is bad".
From the materialist point of view, the ability to discriminate on predictive patterns is very close to a complete and optimal definition of intelligence! To assert that "discrimination" (profiling) is "wrong" is to subvert everything that we have determined about intelligence in the service of postmodern nihilism. Sadly, most of the sheep can't tell the difference between what IS required (better airport security), and what is NOT required (taking granny's shoes)! The discussion about what is in between can be long and contentious, but at least it would be a RATIONAL discussion, and those are a significant part of what it is to advance as opposed to decline as a civilization.
Since I broached the subject, our world is loaded with countless little idiosyncrasies that we may or may not notice because they are in general "human oriented". No matter how much any of us may believe that we are somehow more observant or more cognizant, or deeper analysts than our fellow man, we remain fully human with all the characteristics that entails. For example, humans are wired to notice sex, and human males are especially adept at picking out a female form from virtually any background. A man was on a news show while I was up fishing had his sight restored after 40 years of being blind. When someone asked him something that he would like to see in another interview, he had blurted out "a topless beach" - which Dianne Sawyer brought up much to the chagrin of his wife.
He was honest about something that our socialization trains us to not be honest about-and this is one origin of the error of Rousseau's and many liberals thinking. We ARE, certainly human, BUT, happiness doesn't result from deciding that all human whims are to be honored. Being blind through adolescence the blind guy no doubt missed out on a ton of socialization training related to bare breasts and thus fell prey to making an inappropriate public comment. Pretty easy to understand and forgive (although it didn't appear that it was quite so easy for his wife).
The socialization works, but the wiring is still there, so marketers take advantage of this.
Similarly, we are "bad with numbers"-- we relate to numeric "milestones" in irrational ways. We don't have as large a celebration for 49th or 51st birthdays than we do for 50, even though given the passage of a half century of time, a year of age is much less significant. We PERCEIVE 49 to be "40's" and because of it, think far differently of 49 vs 50 than we should from a purely numeric view. Likewise, we see "less than $4" as a boundary, even though $3.99 is a lot more trouble than just rounding it up to $4.
The "error" is taking something that "doesn't make logical sense" -- preferring a female form to frog, or seeing $3.99 as more significantly less than $4.00 than it is, and seeing that as "the same" as saying "no profiling". Recognition that we are human and have human thought and emotion patterns is VERY rational at a secondary level.
It is in fact TRUE, we ARE human. Once we know that we are "being taken advantage of" because of our nature, we can decide to be more wary, but in MANY contexts, we will still see "human oriented" as VERY good. It will make products easy to use, because they are "natural". When we think a product is well-designed, it is ALWAYS from the human perspective (the only one most of us have --although those that work with computers also have a pretty decent handle as to what makes sense to a computer, eg. powers of 2).
This discussion quickly moves back to the discussion of transcendence. If human nature is to be "the highest good", then our answers to life are going to be radically different than if we arrive at the view that reason, and potentially spiritual insights can be an IMPROVEMENT on human nature. The line between "rational transcendence" and "social truth" is however a key cleavage to be aware of. Deciding to not profile says that "society" can and should make judgements that are both "anti-human" (they short circuit one of our basic abilities, the ability to "improve our odds" through discerning and applying predictive patterns) and "anti-rational" in that they are simply illogical and ineffective.
Pricing something at $3.99 vs $4.00 is certainly not rational in a scientific or ease of use sense -- but it is very much oriented to how humans see numbers from a marketing view.
Taking the shoes off an old lady in a wheel chair is fundamentally against any human orientation as in "respect for elders", "treating those less fortunate with added deference", and simply that everyone watching at a fundamental human level knows this is foolish! It of course makes no rational sense either; it is ineffective, it wastes the time of all concerned. The only "value" is to the left-leaning elements of society that are able to impose their will in a way that is fundamentally nihilistic in nature. It signals us all that we are under their power and it teaches us to COMPLY.
"We prohibit you from doing what is rational and human in the name of our abhorrence of a natural human characteristic (like prefers like), that we have decided to negate. In the same breath, we choose to honor as supreme many other characteristics simply because they are human".
This is an answer that in the final analysis leads to a decision that "there is no objective truth; all truth is a social construct". This is the cutting edge in post-modernist relativistic thought. Rousseau was one of the seminal thinkers in this foolishness. They believe reality is a state constructed by the mind, not perceived by it, so everyone's "truth" has merit.
There have always been two kinds of thinkers; one sees disorder and tries to create order, one sees order and seeks to create disorder. The nice thing is that the last 300 years especially have shown us that in the end "order always wins", BUT, since we are still human, the "order" has to be put into a "good story" (narrative, "myth"), or we won't be able to really understand it as humans. We are also prone to see order where it isn't and to falsely correlate things that are similar but different, and of course we are very capable of just being wrong.
All that comes with the limitations of our nature, BUT, when we expose ourselves in explicit mass to irrationality, I suspect that the overall effect on the population is quite corrosive.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
STORM LAKE, Iowa (CNN) – At a campaign stop in rural Iowa Saturday Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, said he was stunned by the fact that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, would not commit to having all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by 2013.Since I'm convinced that we are likely to have Hillary and Obama as President and VP, such rationality would be a wonderful thing if true. I'm an optimist, so I like to be hopeful, it COULD be that they have far more in statesmanship than it has appeared so far, and they have come to realize from the progress that there is no reason that Iraq has to be a costly defeat for America.
I'm also a realist however, they are politicians and I remember Bush Sr's "No new taxes" pledge. Even worse, they are Democrats that know that they will not be held to what they say ... their statements happened the middle of last week, and other than this little item in the CNN political ticker, it has been hard to find that they even said it. The MSM and most Democrats still realize that there is no way that terrorists could defeat a united America-they also know that a defeat in Iraq is better for their political power. I'm afraid that in the final analysis, that is what will win, BUT, I would love to see it be true. That is the weakness of the right, even though we know the odds are against it, we believe in redemption, and hope that even a Hillary Clinton can come to see the wisdom of persistence and strength.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Stupid, Ignorant or Biased?
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's closest adviser and architect of the New Deal, Harry Hopkins, advised, "Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect, because the people are too damn dumb to know the difference." Professor Bryan Caplan, my colleague at George Mason University, sheds some light on Hopkins' observation in his new book, "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies."
FDR perfected the idea of buying votes, but never paid the cost because he was smart enough to use devices like Social Security that wouldn't explode until decades after his death, and he was lucky enough to have WWII to end the depression. The full article here is WELL worth reading so I'll copy it in, and it looks like the book will be as well.
We live in a country where the advantages of market vs government control and greater individual responsibility and choice are very evident. We don't need to take our own experience, we can look at England, Ireland, China, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and others and see the same rules play out. No small set of people in a centralized government can be as smart as the votes of millions and billions of people acting in a market. One wouldn't think that actually required as much thought as it seems to, but apparently it does. Since most of the basic biases discussed here are simply liberal biases and the MSM tends to agree with that point of view, the general public hears them stated as "fact" day in and day out.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Hillary came close to calling Petraeus a "liar". The idea that Hillary has any concept of anything related to "truth or honor" is ridiculous. Hillary always was and always will be about "power for Hillary". It makes no difference what cost it takes for her to get that.
When the Swift Boat guys were out, we heard a lot of complaints about "how bad those orgs are". Of course MoveOn? Not a problem; "All in the Family" for the NYT.
The old adage that optimist finds the glass half full, the pessimist half empty, and the engineer finds the glass twice as big as it needs to be, comes to mind. All are "right", but I'd argue that the engineer is much close to "science". Science is NOT about values. It is about data, information, models, etc. When there is an attempt to make science into a religion (as atheists often do, because they realize that "something is missing"), there is a big problem. Science truly is "the God that doesn't care"; by definition.
Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict.
In other words, liberals are more likely than conservatives to have a strong response in the area of the brain used to inhibit responses at the time when they are supposed to inhibit response. So is this why Bush invaded Iraq and Kerry flip-flopped?
Monday, September 10, 2007
Want to bet if there will be any big MSM rundowns of MoveOn donor lists for possible connections to Democrat surrender strategy? Don't hold your breath.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
On the surface, "Convert to Islam" ... with the obvious effects of stoning gays, putting women under burkas and following sharia law would seem to be pretty abhorrent to lefties. However, less abhorrent than Christianity? They see Bush as their greatest enemy, so as long as Osama opposes Bush (much like Saddam in the past), they really don't see him as such a bad guy.
Direct declarations of "Iraq is the front line in the war on terror" from what most would consider our enemy while at the same time being happy with the Democrat take-over in Congress would seem to be "slightly embarrassing", but apparently not to the left. One constantly gets the feeling that Saddam, Osama, economic collapse or virtually anything else would be better at some apparently spiritual level than George Bush.
I sometimes think that the "highest good" of the left is avoidance of personal responsibility, so even a completely blood thirsty Islamic state that is totally totalitarian is better than an "opportunity society" that says you get to make up your own mind and are responsible for your own success and failure. The left must have someone else to blame for lack of success--if the state is totalitarian and your fate is not in your own hands, their form of "victory" has been achieved. The entire (short) little Power Line post is WELL worth the read.
First, the subject matter is Iraq, almost exclusively. Bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders have said that Iraq is the main front in their global war against us.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
One of the many good quotes out of the article:
Many easily remembered things, in fact, such as one's birthday or a pet's name, are indeed true. But someone trying to manipulate public opinion can take advantage of this aspect of brain functioning. In politics and elsewhere, this means that whoever makes the first assertion about something has a large advantage over everyone who denies it later.
Wow, The Washington Post has realized that humans have a "first heard" bias, and we are prone to remember "stories" as opposed to "sets of facts". I guess Journalists aren't exactly "scientists", so this recent discovery may not be too surprising. I wonder how many years it will be before they realize that such things apply equally as well to the left as to the right, in fact they even apply a bit BETTER to the left? Of course, it is only the evil right that would EVER try to manipulate public opinion! We can relax completely that folks from the left would NEVER stoop to such a thing, they just deal in "pure truth".
If one takes a study on how well one does in the more facts based parts of learning -- math and science for example, vs the more "right brained" things like art, music, journalism, etc, I wonder where the political leanings would be? Uh, that has been studied a couple of times. Artists, writers, creative people, journalists are usually right brained, Democrat, and liberal (you might notice that Hollywood isn't exactly a bastion of conservatism) So, there are more folks of a right orientation over in the math/science group since they tend to be forced to live with some level of "meritocracy".
Blaming others is always going to be a tempting way to deal with problems, and the left has raised that to an art form. Why would the left be more story and less factually oriented? Because the right brain is exactly what their "recent research" points out. It sees the "whole" (the story) as opposed to "the parts" (the lists of "facts"). The folks that "write the stories" have a bias for a certain way of thinking, and they ALWAYS repeat their "facts" over and over ... "There is no way to win in Iraq", "Humans are raising the temperature of the globe", "The economy is bad". Their "facts" are a lot more like "stories", and although they may claim there is some hard data someplace, they (nor very many of us) find hard data to be more compelling than a "good story"--and "good" is usually "popular", gives us an "easy way out" and indicates that "somebody else" is responsible for our problems--big business, the system, George Bush, our parents etc.
One person's "fact" is often another person's "myth". People that have an exposure to science and maybe especially those that have an exposure to computers realize that there ARE many things that are either true or false and the difference is known and ACTUALLY factual. (We don't call on Journalists, Actors or Artists to figure those out though).
The MAJORITY of things have supporting points and non supporting points, and a negative assertion is NEVER possible to PROVE as a fact. For example; "Saddam Hussein is dead" can be shown to be true or false based on existing discoverable knowledge. The statement "Saddam Hussein had no part in 9-11" is impossible to prove. It may indeed be true, but any one piece of evidence would disprove it. "All swans are white" or "no swans are black" are of the same ilk, but removed from having a political overtone that will lead folks to get excited. One black swan anywhere makes the case.
Did OJ kill his wife? I don't much care, but a court of law found him innocent. OJ is innocent in the same way that Saddam had no WMD-nobody got him dead to rights enough for there to be "positive proof". There was a lot of "circumstantial evidence" in both cases, but it didn't get proven. In OJ's case, 90% of white people think he is guilty and 90% of black people think is innocent.
Most people are just afraid to say anything that could be construed as positive about George Bush, so you probably can't even get a straight answer on that one. I always find it kind of fun, you can usually have a lefty ready to take a swing at you in about 5 min by simply just a tiny kind word about Bush, one thing they are usually good at is anger. For a lefty, not getting caught and being innocent are the same thing for themselves, criminals and dictators. For christians, businesspeople and republicans, the same lefty is ready to convict for all manner of crimes without any evidence at all. It turns out that liberals actually are pretty consistent, it is just that they are consistent in an inconsistent kind of way!
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Today I hear NPR rambling on about how he apparently isn't going to resign at all, and how evil it was that he was apparently "parsing words" by saying that he INTENDED to resign. Gee, I thought the MSM thought that "parsing words" was GREAT and a sign of "brilliance". Did they already forget "the definition of is - is "? Wow, they have a very selective memory.
The point of this post though is one of my major enjoyments in life; the observation of how smoothly the left avoids any semblance of consistency. Can you imagine if say the Salt Lake City Police had picked up a DEMOCRAT in EXACTLY the same way? The ACLU would be involved and we would be hearing about entrapment, homophobia, invasion of privacy, "only about sex", "looking into the bedroom window" and no doubt things like "extreme bigoted religious views forced on a secular society", "a chilling restriction of rights", etc.
I've heard that there are at times heterosexual guys and girls "on the make" at bars, dances, malls, EVEN church and school. (I know this is hard to believe) Some of the "signals" don't seem all that much less overt than foot tapping and hand waving. If one has no problem with gayness, then why is it a crime for a gay guy to be looking for sex in a bathroom? I'm one of those "Homophobic religious nuts", so **I** don't want gay guys looking for and having sex in public restrooms, BUT if one doesn't have any objections to gay sex, then why is it OK for society to infringe on these gay guys, when guys and gals have been winking, nodding, playing footsie, touching, etc in public for a quite awhile?
Yes, yes, I know, this is just to get a Republican Senator, so all the pro-gay forces have suspended all their usual thinking and rhetoric while the deed goes down. I understand that; it just always amazes me how much the general MSM sheep apparently don't.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Billy C - If the lips were a flappin, you knew Billy was a lying cuz that is all the man ever knew how to do. In the specific case of looking for sexual favors with every woman within reach while signing sexual harassment laws that could get anyone else fired for "ogling" for over 3 seconds. Perjury was no longer a crime for Billy -- but of course it has come back for Scooter Libby.
Teddy "The Whale" - In between drunken stupors back while the rest of the country was watching Americans land on the Moon, Teddy was watching the last bubbles escape from the secretary he had recently been using for a sex toy. "It was an accident" ... that he didn't get around to reporting until the next day.
John Murtha - Back in the days of Abscam, John made it clear on tape that he wasn't going to take $50K "right now" ... but it wasn't very clear that he wasn't going to take it or a lot more later.
William Jefferson - $90K of cash in the freezer. Still in office, finally been endicted apparently, one has to really be a news sleuth to keep up with that case.
Gerry Studds - Sex with a 17 year old Congressional Page in '73 ... censured, but served until '97.
Barney Frank - Well, of course he is Gay ... but his "roomie" was a Gay prostitute that was running a business out of Barney's appartment.
I'm sure that many Democrats do focus on "just the money(pork)", but it seems to me that many of them take a good deal of joy in "their guys getting away with it". Once you decide to be amoral, there is has to be a certain thrill in seeing "your folks" do whatever they want with impunity. What the core of the Democrat party has trouble with are guys with morals and character like Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman -- those get the same kind of treatment as Republicans give Larry Craig.
But media bias is not the main reason why Republicans suffer more from scandals. Democratic voters expect Democrats to steal on their behalf. Lawmakers are judged on the basis of how many goodies from the federal treasury they can shower on their constituents. The typical Democratic voter doesn't mind terribly if their senator or congressman takes something for himself along the way. (Time Magazine's story on Rep. Mollohan's re-election was headlined, "Pork Trumps Scandal.")
The typical Republican voter wants his senator or congressman to keep his taxes low, his government honest. He is furious when GOP lawmakers stick their fingers in the cookie jar, or give lip service to values they do not practice.
Republicans must be squeaky clean to win elections because their voters will crucify them for behavior Democratic voters wink at so long as the pork keeps flowing. This is why his GOP colleagues already have stripped Sen. Craig of his committee assignments, and many have called for his resignation, while Democratic senators are comfortable having among them a man who left to drown in his automobile a young woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
Take note; 90+% of the time when someone says "there isn't any difference between the parties", they have just told you that they are a Democrat. Only a situational ethicist with no idea of consistency could actually believe that.