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Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces (Read 283240 times)
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1350 on:
August 29, 2014, 10:07:17 AM »
Actually Top Dog could do some AMAZING reads (first time he met my then girlfriend he turned and looked at me and said "She must drive your crazy interrupting you when you are reading". There was NO way he could have known that!
I too had many a read where the woman was surprised at how I could have known that. If you break down the analytical framework, the variables assessed followed a lot of Jungian pyschology (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition, introverted, extroverted, etc) and a lot of it simply made sense; a hard thick stubby muscular hand would tend to correlate to a personality that was more impulsive than a hand that was long, slender, and delicate.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1351 on:
August 29, 2014, 10:23:50 AM »
How would it differ from cold reading?
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1352 on:
August 29, 2014, 11:34:22 AM »
My secrets revealed!
Mark Steyn: The Reformation of Manners
Reply #1353 on:
August 30, 2014, 04:15:49 PM »
Dad of KIA SEAL writes to Obama
Reply #1354 on:
September 02, 2014, 08:02:24 PM »
No doubt this will get the same level as Cindy Sheehan's utterances to Bush-2:
"After finally choosing to view the barbaric, on-camera beheading by ISIS of freelance war correspondent James Foley, I have been left with a level of rage known only to those of us who have sacrificed unspeakable offerings on the altar of world peace.
My offering was my only son — Aaron Carson Vaughn. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team VI. He was killed in action when a CH47D Chinook, carrying thirty Americans and eight Afghans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.
Many times over the past three years, I have been asked what drove my son to choose his particular career. What made him want to be a Navy SEAL? My answer is simple.
Aaron Vaughn was a man who possessed the courage to acknowledge evil. And evil, once truly acknowledged, demands response. Perhaps this is why so few are willing to look it in the eye. It is much simpler — much safer — to look the other way.
That is, unless you are the leader of the Free World.
As Commander-in-Chief, your actions — or lack thereof — Mr. President, cost lives. As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole — not only in America’s security — but the security of the entire globe. Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it.
Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the reigns of this out-of-control thug-fest and regain the balance we, America, have provided throughout our great history.
Thanks to your “leadership” from whatever multi-million dollar vacation you happen to be on at any given moment, the world is in chaos. What’s been gained, you’ve lost. What’s been lost, you’ve decimated. You’ve demolished our ability to hold the trust of allies. You’ve made a mockery of the title “President.” And you’ve betrayed the nation for which my son and over 1.3 million others have sacrificed their very lives.
But this should come as no surprise, since your wife uttered a vile statement on Feb. 18, 2008, during the primary campaign — one that speaks volumes of your true convictions. “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country,” she said.
I am sure my deceased son thanks you for that, Mrs. Obama. Oh, and you’re welcome.
Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such despair and such growing fear that the world’s last best hope, America, has finally been dismantled. Perhaps the better word is transformed — fundamentally transformed. Come to think of it, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to believe things haven’t gone exactly as you planned, Mr. President.
Amazingly, in five short years, your administration has lurched from one disaster to another. You spearheaded the ambitious rush to end the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan — with no plan on how to do so effectively. Also, the release of “the Taliban five” in exchange for one American — without consulting Congress — is also on your shoulders.
You have been at the helm during unprecedented national security leaks — including, but not limited to the outing of SEAL Team VI on the Bin laden raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal “kill list” to make you look tough. In addition, 75 percent of American deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans-wounded-in-action have occurred on your watch, according to icasualties.org.
And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as “the JV team” in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January.
You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.
America has always been exceptional. And she will be again. You, Mr. President, are a bump in our road."
Reprinted with family's permission
Police "militarization" - is it really a problem?
Reply #1355 on:
September 03, 2014, 09:31:07 AM »
I think this is an excellent analysis of the question. I've been mulling this over myself for some time, as I've heard cries from both libertarians and those in our camp regarding their alarm over "police militarization." My question has always been - as long as the citizens have access to the same weaponry - what's the issue?
The ‘Militarization’ of the Police?
Posted By Jack Kerwick On September 3, 2014
Making the rounds through libertarian (and other) circles in the wake of the police shooting death of Michael Brown is the notion that the “militarization” of local police forces is a huge problem besetting the country.
Though I self-identify as a conservative, I have a considerable affection for libertarianism. In fact, it is precisely because of this fondness that I am compelled to put out to pasture all of this “militarization” talk.
(1)The mere possession of weaponry of a kind on the part of police is no more objectionable—no more a justification for the charge of “militarization”—than is the mere existence of guns or SUV’s objectionable.
For starters, it is unclear as to what libertarians even mean in claiming that the police are “militarized.” From what I can gather—sorry, but no self-avowed libertarian writer who I have yet encountered is clear on this—it is the fact that today’s police forces are equipped with weaponry of a technologically sophisticated sort, the sort with which our soldiers are armed when confronting enemies overseas, that warrants the charge of “militarization.”
How the mere possession of things is a cause of alarm for, of all people, the libertarian, is beyond me. In personifying inanimate objects he comes perilously close to sounding like just those enemies of liberty against whom he’s tirelessly railing, those who would personify guns, wealth, and, say, SUV’s.
Moreover, libertarians are the first to champion the (law-abiding, adult) citizen’s constitutional, even “inalienable,” right to bear virtually whatever arms he prefers. How, we must ask, does it turn out to be permissible—not “militarized”—for the janitor next door to possess a machine gun, but somehow impermissible—“militarized”—for the police to do the same?
(2) The distribution of arms among the police, on the one hand, and the citizenry, on the other, utterly fails to establish that the police, or anyone, haven’t a right to arm themselves like Rambo—i.e. it fails to supply a single warrant for the charge of “militarization.”
If the libertarian insists that it isn’t the possession by police of weaponry as such to which he objects, but the fact that, as things currently stand, the police have access to these weapons to which other citizens are denied, then it is the distribution of this access, and not the access itself, that has him upset.
But if this is the case, then the proper complaint is not, “The police are ‘militarized’!” The proper complaint is that, “We should be allowed to be ‘militarized’ too,” or something like this.
In other words, the charge of “militarization” makes no sense here.
(3) The concept of “militarization” encompasses the concepts of collective purpose and coercion.
Government, by definition, has a monopoly on force. Yet, theoretically, the libertarian, unlike the anarchist, has no objections to this: the libertarian recognizes the authority of government to both enact and enforce laws. Since police officers are government agents, the libertarian affirms their authority to deploy the power at their disposal to coerce citizens into abiding by the laws that police are committed to safeguarding.
So, the sheer fact that police are endowed with the power to coerce prospective and actual violators of the law can’t be something with which the libertarian has a problem, for he has no problem with government per se.
In other words, that police are using force to maintain law and order—precisely what police have always done and what they’ve always been meant to do—can’t be the spring of the libertarian’s howls of “militarization.”
Only if government agents—whether police or otherwise—are coercing citizens in the service of fulfilling some grand collective purpose will the charge of “militarization” apply. Coercion, in and of itself, is insufficient to constitute “militarization.”
But this, in turn, means that the actual weaponry with which the police (or any other agent of the government) are endowed is irrelevant to determining whether the police, or any other agent of government, are “militarized.” If police were armed only with clubs, but used these clubs in order to insure that citizens were exercising three days a week for the purpose of producing “The Physically Fit Society,” say, then this would indeed show that the police had a “militarized” set of mind. Conversely, if the police are armed to the teeth with the stuff of soldiers but used their arms only to insure that the rule of law was preserved, to protect the life, limb, and property of citizens from those—like the rioters in Ferguson—who are intent upon undermining civilization, this would fail to establish that they are “militarized.”
(4) Police brutality, dereliction of duty, abuse of power and the like are issues that should count for much for all decent people, especially the libertarian. But none of these things are necessarily a function of “militarization,” much less equivalent to it.
That there are police officers that abuse their authority and power is not only an empirically verified fact; it is a no-brainer to the lover of liberty who knows, along with Lord Acton, that while “absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” even a limited degree of “power tends to corrupt.”
But when police do violate their oath to serve and protect, then we can and should call out their violations for what they are. Conflating or obscuring issues with bumper-sticker friendly misnomers like “militarization” is counterproductive.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1356 on:
September 15, 2014, 11:33:08 AM »
The Rectification of the Names!
As the guy with the shovel despairingly said from the bottom of a deep pit in the woods, "How did I get started on this?"
Oh right. I meant to say earlier, I am crawling like Andy Dufresne on his exodus from Shawshank toward an idea for a new book. It's just an idea. As Marcus Aurelius (the Richard Harris version) might say, it's a dream. I can only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it might vanish.
In the course of my developing this whisper-of-an-idea for a book, my AEI colleague Michael Auslin pointed me to a Confucian concept called "the rectification of names." Maybe you know all about it because you're a smarty-pants Confucian scholar, which would be an interesting twist on who I imagine you, my "Dear Reader," to be. But it was new to me and it's really an exciting idea because it connects a lot of different exciting ideas into a potentially fully functional Death Star, I mean book, idea.
Anyway, the gist is that society goes ass-over-teakettle (to borrow a phrase from the academic literature) when names no longer describe the things they are assigned to.
Take it away Confucius:
"A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."
Now, I'm just starting my reading on all of this and, so far, I don't much care for the way the concept was used to justify castes and classes in feudal China or any of that jazz. And, yes, I am aware that a similar concern was in fact a central point of my last book (Now out in paperback, noodle-salad-eaters). It's central to Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" — never mind to 1984 — and Ludwig Wittgenstein had much to say on the subject as well. And anyone who ate funny brownies in college has grooved on the relationship between words and reality (and the puzzle of the Skipper & Gilligan's limited wardrobe).
But I very much like the idea that societies get themselves into trouble when language becomes a tool not for describing reality but concealing it.
This is one of the many reasons I loathe the self-described pragmatists who insist they want to solve problems by getting "beyond labels." You cannot solve problems if you cannot describe the problem — and the solution — accurately. Try fixing a flat tire with a wet hamster. Now, call the hamster a "tire iron." Has it gotten any easier? Shakespeare tells us that a rose by another name will smell just as sweet, but if you can't tell sh*t from shinola, your shoes are going to smell awful.
When Facts Are Treason
The disconnect between names and the named becomes most pronounced in totalitarian societies where words become weapons of the State. When language ceases to be a tool for labeling reality and higher truths and becomes one for upholding the agenda of a regime, the society rots and invites revolt. Try as they might, tyrants rarely have much success at persuading miserable people they are happy or hungry people they are full. As a result, regimes feel required to tighten their grip on society even more. Use of the wrong word — or the right word the wrong way — becomes ever more damning evidence of disloyalty or treason. And you know what? The tyrants are right: It is disloyalty and treason to an evil regime to accurately tell the truth.
I think there's something very profound about the Chinese idea that revolutions are primarily an effort to bring about the rectification of names; that the demand for justice is first and foremost a demand that words and reality come back into alignment. Nothing is more infuriating than to be told not to believe your lying eyes — or your empty stomach. Take a moment to ponder various revolutions around the globe over history and ask yourself if there isn't something to that.
One last point before I fulfill my obligation to put some news-related content in this "news"letter: Free societies are not immune to this problem, it's just that we have better antibodies. We have more opportunities and mechanisms to get words and things lined up properly. In a society where children won't be beaten or executed for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, the nakedness of the emperor will be a much more frequent topic of conversation.
But that just means it takes longer — and more work — for names to get messed up. Who can dispute that political correctness is, to a large extent, an organized effort to keep truth from being applied to the problems of reality? Who can deny that our politics is shot through with words that don't line up properly with what they are supposed to describe?
They're Not Islamic, They're Not Even I-Curious
For instance, my column today is on the president's contention that the Islamic State is not Islamic. The assertion fits perfectly with the extended philosophical throat-clearing you just waded through. I mean talk about letting names and things wander off from each other!
Imagine, just for the sake of argument that, say, the State Department's Jen Psaki sat down to interview an Islamic State fighter over coffee.
Psaki: "Hi. What's your name?"
Psaki: "Were you named after your father?"
Mohammed: "No. I am named after the One True Prophet Mohammed."
Psaki: "Interesting. So what's the name of your organization?"
Mohammed: "The Islamic State."
Psaki: "Oh, that's exotic. What does that do?"
Mohammed: "We have sworn to Allah that we will bring about a global caliphate as he commands us through Mohammed and the Koran. Inshallah, we will kill the pagans, Jews, and infidels and convert the Christians to the one true faith.
Psaki: "Oh my, that sounds like quite a project. So, let me ask you, what religion should I put down here, Mohammed."
Mohammed: "I am Muslim. I will give my life for Islam. It's right there in the name: Islamic State."
Psaki: "Well, I can see that this will just remain one of those mysteries. I'll just put down agnostic."
Large-Scale Counterterrorism Operations Are Hell
Sadly, only after I wrote my column did I learn that not only does the administration insist that the Islamic State isn't even a smidgen Islamic — as the president might say — but we aren't at war with it either. "If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with [the Islamic State], they can do so, but the fact is that it's a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts," Secretary of State John Kerry explained yesterday.
"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation," he told CBS, "and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity."
Okay, wait a second. I can understand — no matter how ridiculous I think the claim may be — the argument that we are not at war with the Islamic State. I can certainly understand the argument — again, even though I reject it — that we don't want to pay the terrorist group the "compliment" of saying we're at war with it.
But hold the phone. John Kerry is saying that "war" is the wrong analogy? Really? It is okay to analogize the fights against poverty, cancer, climate change etc., to war, but we can't analogize sustained bombing campaigns with coordinated ground offensives to it? Oh my stars and garters. It's like the effort to get rid of the Islamic State is the Moral Equivalent of Pension Reform.
It gets worse. Olivier Knox of Yahoo News asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest, "What does victory [in the fight against the Islamic State] look like here?"
Earnest earnestly replied, "I didn't bring my Webster's dictionary with me up here." Meanwhile, the disconnect between names and things has gotten to the point where a senior administration official thinks Saudi Arabia is "galvanized" against the Islamic State because it has an "extensive border with Syria." Except for the fact that it doesn't, this is a very powerful point. So much for Mark Twain's observation that "God created war so that Americans would learn geography."
Of course, the administration is simply following the president's lead. Given how rabid Kerry, Hagel, and others were just a few weeks ago, it's pretty obvious that Obama has told his team "opstay ayingsay arway." In his heart the president just doesn't like words like "war" or "win." That's why he "ended" the Iraq War. That's why when asked to explain what "destroy" means he said it meant to reduce to a manageable problem. That's why the administration keeps talking about mitigation. That's why they long ago replaced the "War on Terror" with "overseas contingency operations" and rogue states with "states of concern." Hey, maybe we should just start calling it "the Islamic State of Concern"?
This of course reminds me of Winston Churchill's famous line, "We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall mitigate on the beaches, we shall degrade them on the landing grounds, we shall reduce them to manageable problems in the fields and in the streets. . ."
Really, anyone can play. Release the dogs of overseas contingency operations! Haven't you read Sun Tzu's "The Art of Mitigation"?
Look, as I suggest in my column, there's room in a war for bending the truth if it helps win the war. The problem here is that when you're bending the truth that you're even at war, what truths are worth telling? As I wrote last week , I still think Obama's greatest concern isn't how to conquer — or even "manage" — the Islamic State or terrorism in general but how to find the right words that will rescue him from political hassles, responsibility, and blame. Rather than say he misjudged the Islamic State, he told Chuck Todd he never even called them the "Jayvee" team, which was a lie.
If Obama's theory of the world is right, this may all work out for him. If jihadism is a minor nuisance that we can manage without much distraction or effort, then his word games might even make sense. But if we are really facing a more substantial and long-term threat, then his word games are not just stupid, they are dangerous because they put further distance between names and reality, between problems and solutions.
I am not a fan of the philosopher Carl Schmitt, but I always liked his line, "Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are." I don't think it captures anything like the whole truth, but it does capture an important truth: To stand for something requires standing against something. If you stand for democracy, you must stand against tyranny. If you stand for truth, you must stand against lies. It is a tactical and strategic question whether we need to go to literal war against the Islamic State. But if we are not figuratively or spiritually at war with what the Islamic State stands for, then, my God, what do we stand for?
What is response to this?
Reply #1357 on:
September 17, 2014, 09:38:10 AM »
Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 03:38:51 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1358 on:
September 17, 2014, 03:39:22 PM »
Please post on "The Way Forward" thread.
The Left's "Manufactured Intelligence"...
Reply #1359 on:
September 24, 2014, 10:00:35 AM »
iSocialism, Science and Stupidity
Posted By Daniel Greenfield On September 24, 2014 @ frontpagemag.com
Every ideology needs to believe in its inevitability. Religions get their inevitability from prophecies; secular ideologies get theirs from the modernist fallacy.
The modernist fallacy says that history is moving on an inevitable track toward their ideology. Resistance is futile, you will be liberalized. Marxism predicted the inevitable breakdown of capitalism. Obama keeps talking about being “on the right side of history” as if history, like a university history curriculum, has a right side and a wrong side. All everyone has to do is grab a sign and march “Forward!” to the future.
The bad economics and sociology around which the left builds its Socialist sand castles assume that technological progress will mean improved control. Capitalism with its mass production convinced budding Socialists that the entire world could be run like a giant factory under technocrats who would use industrial techniques to control the economic production of mankind in line with their ideals.
The USSR and moribund European economies broke that theory into a million little pieces.
The dot com revolution with its databases and subtle tools for manipulating individuals on a collective basis led to a Facebook Socialism that crowdsources its culture wars and “nudges” everyone into better habits, lower body masses and conveniently available death panels.
The iSocialist, like his industrial predecessor, assumes that technology gives superintelligent leftists better tools for controlling everything. The planned economy failed in the twentieth because the tools of propaganda posters, quotas and gulags were too crude. This time he is certain that it will work.
Intelligence is to leftists what divine right was to the crowned kings of Europe. They frantically brand themselves as smart because in a technocracy, superiority comes from intelligence. Their vision is the right one because they are the smart ones. Their shiny future is backed by what they call “science.”
Science, the magic of the secular age, is their church. But science isn’t anyone’s church. Science is much better at disproving things than at proving them. It’s a useful tool for skeptics, but a dangerous tool for rulers. Like art, science is inherently subversive and like art, when it’s restricted and controlled, it stops being interesting.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s defenders reacted to his basic errors by asserting that even if he had made a mistake, science, collectively, was right. Science is of course neither right nor wrong; its methodology can be used to determine whether something is right or wrong.
In Tyson’s case, science determined long ago that at least one of his claims was wrong. Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t embody science. No individual does. What Tyson embodies is manufactured intelligence. Manufactured intelligence is how we knew that Obama was smart. But manufactured intelligence has the same relationship to intelligence as a painting of the ocean does to the real thing.
The real ocean is complicated and messy. So is real intelligence. Manufactured intelligence is the fashion model playing a genius in a movie. Real intelligence is an awkward man obsessing over a handful of ideas, some of them ridiculously wrong, but one of which will change the world.
Real intelligence isn’t marketable because it doesn’t make an elite feel good about its power.
Biblical fake prophets were often preferred to real prophets because they made rulers feel comfortable about the future. The modern technoprophet assures a secular elite that it can effectively control people and that it even has the obligation to do so. It tells them that “science” is on their side.
The easy way to tell real religion from fake religion is that real religion doesn’t make you feel good. It doesn’t assure you that everything you’re doing is right and that you ought to keep on doing it.
The same holds true for science. Real science doesn’t make you feel smart. Fake science does.
No matter how smart you think you are, real science will make you feel stupid far more often than it will make you feel smart. Real science not only tells us how much more we don’t know than we know, a state of affairs that will continue for all of human history, but it tells us how fragile the knowledge that we have gained is, how prone we are to making childish mistakes and allowing our biases to think for us.
Science is a rigorous way of making fewer mistakes. It’s not very useful to people who already know everything. Science is for stupid people who know how much they don’t know.
A look back at the march of science doesn’t show an even line of progress led by smooth-talking popularizers who are never wrong. Instead the cabinets of science are full of oddballs, unqualified, jealous, obsessed and eccentric, whose pivotal discoveries sometimes came about by accident. Science, like so much of human accomplishment, often depended on lucky accidents to provide a result that could then be isolated and systematized into a useful understanding of the process.
Modernism is a style that offers a seamless vision of perfection that doesn’t exist. The accomplishments of our age haven’t changed human nature and they have not made us infallible.
Real science tells us that we are basically stupid. A close study of history proves it. And that’s a good thing. Stupid people can learn from their mistakes. Self-assured elites convinced of their own superior intelligence can’t. Everyone makes mistakes. The future belongs to those who recognize them.
The inability of Neil deGrasse Tyson and his defenders to acknowledge that he is wrong is a revealing look at the rotten core of the liberal elite which is incapable of admitting its errors, but sneers and smears its way out of a moral reckoning every time. Its ideology with its assumption of central control over lives and economies is too dependent on its own illusion of genius not to lie about its failures.
It is too big to fail and that makes its failure inevitable.
Tysonism is why ObamaCare suffered a disastrous launch, why the VA reorganization didn’t work and why we’re back in Iraq. Technocrats don’t make mistakes. They can’t. They’re only at the top because they’re smart. If they ever admitted to being stupid, they would lose their right to rule.
Like Lysenkoism, Tysonism uses ideology to determine the outcomes of science. That’s how we keep ending up with Global Warming as settled science no matter how often the actual science contradicts it.
Tysonism appropriates science without understanding it. Its science consists of factoids, some right and some wrong, which simplify and clarify everything. Its manufactured intelligence makes people feel smart without actually giving them the critical tools to question the false assumptions of a Tyson.
What the left calls science is really a hypothesis accepted as a fact without the skepticism. Its intelligence is a conclusion without bothering to determine whether it’s true. Science and intelligence are perpetual processes that are never truly settled. But in law and government, as in all other fields, the left discards the process and asserts an inevitable outcome by virtue of its superiority.
Intelligence as ideology is at the heart of the left. Its Orwellian twist discards the need for using intelligence to question its ideology by asserting that the issue is settled. To be smart is to be left and to be left is to be smart. And only stupid people would question that.
There is no need to think about anything because the smart people have already done all the thinking. You can show you are smart by accepting their conclusions or show your stupidity by questioning them.
Science and skepticism are the tools of stupid people. As Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. We have the most to fear from the smart people who don’t know and will never admit how little they know.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1360 on:
September 24, 2014, 01:49:57 PM »
Islamic Jihad -- Target America
Should You Be Concerned?
By Mark Alexander • September 24, 2014
"The establishment of civil and religious liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field." --George Washington (1783)
Despite assurances to the contrary from our nation's commander in chief, it turns out that global Jihad is thriving. And it constitutes a greater threat to our nation's security today than at any time in history.
Should you be concerned?
Of course, the answer is "yes," but with qualification.
The most imminent domestic threat to your life and property, statistically, emanates from the sociopathic drug/gang culture, which continues to metastasize on urban poverty plantations and is now spilling into suburban and rural communities. That threat has been cultivated for the last five decades by ruinous political and social policies that were, ostensibly, enacted to eradicate the poverty those policies institutionalized.
That notwithstanding, the elevated threat to your life from Islamic extremists should be a concern -- not because the probability of being an individual victim of an Islamist assault will soon be higher than the drug/gang culture threat, but because the probability of being among the cumulative victims of a catastrophic attack on our homeland -- be it conventional, nuclear or biological -- is escalating largely unabated.
The 9/11 attack on our country was perpetrated by 19 al-Qa'ida operatives. Its immediate effects -- the loss of lives and the longer-term economic impact -- were devastating. It would only take five to 10 al-Qa'ida operatives to create destruction on a 100-fold scale, with a little help from Iran or other terror-sponsoring states.
How real is that threat?
Islamic terrorist groups are surging worldwide, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Khorasan Group and now, front and center, ISIL, a.k.a. the Islamic State -- all of which together constitute Jihadistan, that borderless nation of Islamic extremists aligned under the Qur'anic umbrella.
Currently there are many American Islamists actively fighting among the ranks of ISIL in the Middle East -- and they have significant networks of support in the United States. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper concludes that the direct links between ISIL and those domestic networks has created "the most diverse array of threats and challenges as I've seen in my 50-plus years in the [intelligence] business."
How did this surge get underway?
In 2012, amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, Barack Obama centered his re-election campaign on his faux foreign policy successes, which were built upon the following two boasts: "Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did." And "al-Qa'ida is on the run."
The reality, however, is that Obama's "hope and change" retreat from Iraq left a vacuum for the resurgence of a far more dangerous incarnation of Muslim terrorism under the ISIL label, which has displaced al-Qa'ida as the dominant asymmetric Islamic terrorist threat to the West.
Clearly, it is Obama's foreign policy malfeasance that poses the greatest threat to U.S. national and homeland security.
So, is the Islamic State actually, well, Islamic?
Not according to Obama. While he subscribes to the hate-driven rhetoric of Afro-centric theology, six formative years of his early life were spent attending Islamic schools in Indonesia.
In his address to the nation last week, he claimed, "Let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. ... And ISIL is certainly not a state.”
Reasonable people may disagree on whether the Islamic State now occupying much of Syria and Iraq is, at least by the Western definition, a state, but it certainly is a state in the Jihadistan context given the Islamic World of the Qur'an recognizes no political borders.
But for Obama to suggest "ISIL is not Islamic" is flatly absurd. Why else are American taxpayers providing Islamist prisoners at Gitmo copies of the Qur'an and payer rugs?
It is equally asinine, of course, for Secretary of State John Kerry to perpetuate the lie that "Islam is the Religion of Peace™" by claiming, "We must continue to repudiate the gross distortion of Islam that ISIL is spreading."
Their errant assertions prompted this rebuke from Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani: "[Obama and Kerry] turned into Islamic jurists, muftis, sheikhs and preachers, standing up for Islam and the Muslims, so it appears that they no longer have confidence in the ability or sincerity of their sorcerers..."
So, is Islamic Jihad really "Islamic"?
There are many excellent resources for understanding Islamic extremism and the rise of Islamic terrorism. But allow me to offer a brief overview of Islam and the schism that gave rise to global Islamic Jihad.
In 570 AD, Abū al-Qāsim Muhammad was born in Mecca (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). In the year 610, Muhammad went into the hills and claims to have received instruction from an angel to spend the next 22 years as the exclusive transcriber of Allah's message, the Qur'an, which means "recitation." Its 114 Surahs, or chapters, outline the religious, military, civil, social, commercial and legal systems of Islam. Most Muslims believe that Islam originated with the prophet Adam, and that Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Islamic prophets.
After Muhammad's death in 632, Islam split into two factions, Sunni and Shi’ite -- a split originating from a dispute about whether the religion should be led by strict adherence to the Qur'an, or led by Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad. The Sunnis (from "Ahl al-Sunna," meaning ”people of the tradition”) bonded through Muslim orthodoxy. The Shias (from “Shiat Ali,” meaning ”party of Ali”) were a political alliance formed around Muhammad's descendant.
Despite the split, Islam thrived, and by the 17th century, a vast Muslim empire was controlled by a powerful military and was the cultural cradle of mathematics, architecture, art, law and science. But the rise of Western military power would divide and conquer the Muslim empire by the end of the 18th century, followed by European occupations of much of that former empire over the next century.
By the end of World War I, Islam's Ottoman Empire was lost. Many Muslims adapted to Western culture, while some held to old Islamic traditions. But the re-constitution of the State of Israel in 1948 seeded a resurgence of Islamic fervor, a fervor that would unleash itself 30 years later under the watch of Jimmy Carter's administration.
In 1979, the powerful and strategic state of Iran fell to the Islamic Revolution, and Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to power. Student revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage, and that act galvanized both Shia and Sunni Islamist activists throughout the Middle East.
Today, Shia Muslims represent majorities only in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain.
But Islamic Jihad, including al-Qa'ida and subsequent terrorist groups, is rooted in Sunni orthodoxy. Sunnis represent about 85% of Muslims worldwide, including countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
So again, is Islamic Jihad "Islamic"? Indeed, it is.
The Suras of the Qur'an and the Hadith (Muhammad's teachings) require jihad, or "holy war," against all "the enemies of God." For the record, orthodox Sunnis understand that these "infidels" include all Muslim or non-Muslim people who refute any teachings of Muhammad -- which is why ISIL Sunnis are slaughtering Iraqi Shias.
Rebutting Obama's assertion that Islamic Jihad is disconnected from Islam, Hoover Institution Fellow Dennis Prager writes: "Killing 'unbelievers' has been part of -- of course not all of -- Islam since its inception. Within 10 years of Muhammad’s death Muslims had conquered and violently converted whole peoples from Iran to Egypt and from Yemen to Syria. Muslims have offered conquered people death or conversion since that time. ... More than 600 years after Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun, the greatest Muslim writer who ever lived, explained why Islam is the superior religion in the most highly regarded Muslim work ever written, 'Muqaddimah,' or 'Introduction to History': 'In the Muslim community, the holy war is religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.'"
Thus, if you're among those who resist or refute Muhammad's teachings, you're a de facto enemy of Islam.
According to Muhammad in the Qur'anic verses, Allah commands, "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."
Do you refute any teachings of Muhammad?
Based on the Sunni Islamist history of violence, it is clear that Islam is not "the Religion of Peace," though there are obviously many Muslims worldwide and in the U.S. who do not subscribe to Islamist Jihad theology. But the number of Sunni Muslims who do support that totalitarian theology is staggering.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are 2.75 million Muslims in the U.S. today. Notably, about 90% of American Muslims are Sunni. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Nation of Islam have now established more than 2,200 mosques, some of which have become hotbeds of support for Sunni Islamist extremists. The ethnic group with the fastest growing conversion rate to Islam is Latino -- 12 million of whom are now in the U.S. illegally, and who continue to pour across our southern border.
Do any of those grim statistics concern you?
At the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, George Washington wrote that our nation has its roots in "the establishment of civil and religious liberty."
Islam, on the other hand, is founded on the abolition of civil and religious liberty -- which is to say it is diametrically opposed to the notion that Liberty is "endowed by our Creator."
Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
Obama Brings Ferguson Lynch Mob to U.N....
Reply #1361 on:
September 25, 2014, 08:01:36 AM »
Obama Brings the Ferguson Lynch Mob to the U.N.
Posted By Matthew Vadum On September 25, 2014
President Obama used an opportunity on the world stage this week to encourage America’s enemies to continue promoting the tired old left-wing narrative that the U.S. is an irretrievably racist hotbed of injustice.
Instead of just focusing on the topic of the day, namely, what the U.S. government is planning to do to undermine the extraordinarily brutal Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Obama suggested that his own country’s race relations problems are on par with leading world crises. And Islam is perfectly innocent. Only bad people who aren’t real Muslims are causing trouble in the world.
It’s bread and circuses, with America’s own Caesar running the show.
According to Obama, the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black man, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in itself is proof that race relations are poisonous in the United States. As the Left sees it, Brown was the latest in a long line of helpless black victims mowed down by racist cops who are part of America’s corrupt criminal justice system. It’s just more left-wing sloganeering, staples of which are knee-jerk cop hatred and making excuses for black criminals.
Anti-American fanatics, such as the Iranians, have used the events in Ferguson as propaganda to defame the United States. Obama is telegraphing to the Islamist totalitarians that they are on the right track and have entirely legitimate criticisms.
“I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within its own borders,” Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in a speech that focused on foreign policy and national security issues.
“This is true,” he told the gathering of delegates from nations that enslave people, chop off their hands and heads, mutilate their genitals, and sanction the gang rape of infidels, women, and youngsters. He continued:
In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So, yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions.
Apart from the vile moral equivalency, that is, the implied comparison of the Brown shooting with Islamist atrocities, Obama never bothered to point out that there is still not even a scintilla of evidence that what transpired last month in Ferguson was in any way racially motivated. Investigators keep digging and coming up empty-handed.
Nor did he point out that his administration is leading the way, trying to inflame racial and ethnic tensions. Egged on by violent left-wing mobs and race-obsessed profiteers like Obama allies Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Sr., the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a race-baiting witch hunt aimed at the entire police force in Ferguson.
It is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded Democratic Party voter registration drive disguised as a civil rights investigation. Such hoaxes are the stock in trade of the radical community organizers who run the Obama White House.
But it’s a costly hoax. At least 40 federal agents have reportedly been on the ground in the St. Louis area desperately searching for proof of racial animus on the part of Darren Wilson, the decorated Ferguson police officer who shot Brown Aug. 9 after the suspected gang member beat him and tried to take his handgun.
That figure of two-score agents is apparently more than the Obama administration has assigned to all the other major scandals embroiling the administration combined. Those other scandals include Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi bungling, IRS persecution of conservative groups, New Black Panther Party voter intimidation charges, the Fast and Furious gun-running episode, and the NSA’s domestic spying.
The rest of Obama’s UN speech consisted of bromides and inane mantras about the Islamic world he holds so dear.
Although Islam has been generating terrorists and Islamic supremacists for over a millennium, Islam’s been done wrong by those who have hijacked it, Obama argued.
A “more lethal and ideological brand of terrorists“ have “perverted one of the world’s great religions,” he said. These terrorists are “employing the most brutal methods to intimidate people within their communities,” he said, without mentioning that his allies in SEIU and Saul Alinsky-inspired activist groups do much the same to American communities.
Obama glossed over the centuries of Islamic irredentism and religious violence to claim that, notwithstanding the often-graphic verses of the Holy Koran, that “Islam teaches peace.” In his view, “Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice,” he said without mentioning that to many Mohammedans the world over justice consists of Jews’ and Christians’ severed heads on public display.
Obama even said that “we reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations,” even though a clash of civilizations is precisely what is taking place.
Now that Obama’s approval ratings on national security and terrorism have taken a beating, the president feels he needs to sound like an actual president who cares about the good of the nation and is willing to use the nation’s military might in a just cause.
What ISIS is doing is outrageous, Obama complains. But his hatred of ISIS is conditional, based on polling. As long as voters are concerned about ISIS, he’ll pretend to be concerned about ISIS.
“No God condones this terror,” he said. “No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.“
This is likely the same pep talk Obama gave to former IRS enforcer Lois Lerner as she geared up to harass and intimidate Tea Party nonprofits.
In Obama’s eyes, only American conservatives, not medieval Islamic savages, are permanent foes worthy of eternal enmity.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1362 on:
September 25, 2014, 01:30:16 PM »
Churning up racial hatred is the only card Obama has left in the wake of his failed presidency.
Bill Maher surprises-2
Reply #1363 on:
September 27, 2014, 08:17:47 PM »
Neal Stephenson: Innovation Starvation
Reply #1364 on:
October 02, 2014, 06:23:51 PM »
MY LIFE SPAN ENCOMPASSES the era when the United States of America was capable of launching human beings into space. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on a braided rug before a hulking black-and-white television, watching the early Gemini missions. In the summer of 2011, at the age of fifty-one—not even old—I watched on a flatscreen as the last space shuttle lifted off the pad. I have followed the dwindling of the space program with sadness, even bitterness. Where’s my donut-shaped space station? Where’s my ticket to Mars? Until recently, though, I have kept my feelings to myself. Space exploration has always had its detractors. To complain about its demise is to expose oneself to attack from those who have no sympathy that an affluent, middle-aged white American has not lived to see his boyhood fantasies fulfilled.
Still, I worry that our inability to match the achievements of the 1960s space program might be symptomatic of a general failure of our society to get big things done. My parents and grandparents witnessed the creation of the automobile, the airplane, nuclear energy, and the computer, to name only a few. Scientists and engineers who came of age during the first half of the twentieth century could look forward to building things that would solve age-old problems, transform the landscape, build the economy, and provide jobs for the burgeoning middle class that was the basis for our stable democracy.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 crystallized my feeling that we have lost our ability to get important things done. The OPEC oil shock was in 1973—almost forty years earlier. It was obvious then that it was crazy for the United States to let itself be held economic hostage to the kinds of countries where oil was being produced. It led to Jimmy Carter’s proposal for the development of an enormous synthetic fuels industry on American soil. Whatever one might think of the merits of the Carter presidency or of this particular proposal, it was, at least, a serious effort to come to grips with the problem.
Little has been heard in that vein since. We've been talking about wind farms, tidal power, and solar power for decades. Some progress has been made in those areas, but energy is still all about oil. In my city, Seattle, a thirty-five-year-old plan to run a light rail line across Lake Washington is now being blocked by a citizen initiative. Thwarted or endlessly delayed in its efforts to build things, the city plods ahead with a project to paint bicycle lanes on the pavement of thoroughfares.
In early 2011, I participated in a conference called Future Tense, where I lamented the decline of the manned space program, then pivoted to energy, indicating that the real issue isn’t about rockets. It’s our far broader inability as a society to execute on the big stuff. I had, through some kind of blind luck, struck a nerve. The audience at Future Tense was more confident than I that science fiction (SF) had relevance—even utility—in addressing the problem. I heard two theories as to why:
1. The Inspiration Theory. SF inspires people to choose science and engineering as careers. This much is undoubtedly true, and somewhat obvious.
2. The Hieroglyph Theory. Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers. Examples include Isaac Asimov’s robots, Robert Heinlein’s rocket ships, and William Gibson’s cyberspace. As Jim Karkanias of Microsoft Research puts it, such icons serve as hieroglyphs—simple, recognizable symbols on whose significance everyone agrees.
Researchers and engineers have found themselves concentrating on more and more narrowly focused topics as science and technology have become more complex. A large technology company or lab might employ hundreds or thousands of persons, each of whom can address only a thin slice of the overall problem. Communication among them can become a mare’s nest of e-mail threads and PowerPoints. The fondness that many such people have for SF reflects, in part, the usefulness of an overarching narrative that supplies them and their colleagues with a shared vision. Coordinating their efforts through a command-and-control management system is a little like trying to run a modern economy out of a politburo. Letting them work toward an agreed-on goal is something more like a free and largely self-coordinated market of ideas.
SPANNING THE AGES
SF has changed over the span of time I am talking about—from the 1950s (the era of the development of nuclear power, jet airplanes, the space race, and the computer) to now. Speaking broadly, the techno-optimism of the Golden Age of SF has given way to fiction written in a generally darker, more skeptical, and ambiguous tone. I myself have tended to write a lot about hackers—trickster archetypes who exploit the arcane capabilities of complex systems devised by faceless others.
Believing we have all the technology we’ll ever need, we seek to draw attention to its destructive side effects. This seems foolish now that we find ourselves saddled with technologies like Japan’s ramshackle 1960s-vintage reactors at Fukushima when we have the possibility of clean nuclear fusion on the horizon. The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules. It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it.
“You’re the ones who’ve been slacking off!” proclaims Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University (and one of the other speakers at Future Tense). He refers, of course, to SF writers. The scientists and engineers, he seems to be saying, are ready and looking for things to do. Time for the SF writers to start pulling their weight and supplying big visions that make sense. Hence the Hieroglyph project, an effort to produce an anthology of new SF that will be in some ways a conscious throwback to the practical techno-optimism of the Golden Age.
China is frequently cited as a country now executing the big stuff, and there’s no doubt they are constructing dams, high-speed rail systems, and rockets at an extraordinary clip. But those are not fundamentally innovative. Their space program, like all other countries’ (including our own), is just parroting work that was done fifty years ago by the Soviets and the Americans. A truly innovative program would involve taking risks (and accepting failures) to pioneer some of the alternative space launch technologies that have been advanced by researchers all over the world during the decades dominated by rockets.
Imagine a factory mass-producing small vehicles, about as big and complicated as refrigerators, which roll off the end of an assembly line, are loaded with space-bound cargo and topped off with nonpolluting liquid hydrogen fuel, then are exposed to intense concentrated heat from an array of ground-based lasers or microwave antennas. Heated to temperatures beyond what can be achieved through a chemical reaction, the hydrogen erupts from a nozzle on the base of the device and sends it rocketing into the air. Tracked through its flight by the lasers or microwaves, the vehicle soars into orbit, carrying a larger payload for its size than a chemical rocket could ever manage, but the complexity, expense, and jobs remain grounded. For decades, this has been the vision of such researchers as physicists Jordin Kare and Kevin Parkin. A similar idea, using a pulsed ground-based laser to blast propellant from the backside of a space vehicle, was being talked about by Arthur Kantrowitz, Freeman Dyson, and other eminent physicists in the early 1960s.
If that sounds too complicated, then consider the 2003 proposal of Geoff Landis and Vincent Denis to construct a twenty-kilometer-high tower using simple steel trusses. Conventional rockets launched from its top would be able to carry twice as much payload as comparable ones launched from ground level. There is even abundant research, dating all the way back to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of astronautics beginning in the late nineteenth century, to show that a simple tether—a long rope, tumbling end over end while orbiting Earth—could be used to scoop payloads out of the upper atmosphere and haul them up into orbit without the need for engines of any kind. Energy would be pumped into the system using an electrodynamic process with no moving parts.
All are promising ideas—just the sort that used to get an earlier generation of scientists and engineers fired up about actually building something.
But to grasp just how far our current mind-set is from being able to attempt innovation on such a scale, consider the fate of the space shuttle’s external tanks (ETs). Dwarfing the vehicle itself, the ET was the largest and most prominent feature of the space shuttle as it stood on the pad. It remained attached to the shuttle—or perhaps it makes as much sense to say that the shuttle remained attached to it—long after the two strap-on boosters had fallen away. The ET and the shuttle remained connected all the way out of the atmosphere and into space. Only after the system had attained orbital velocity was the tank jettisoned and allowed to fall into the atmosphere, where it was destroyed on reentry.
At a modest marginal cost, the ETs could have been kept in orbit indefinitely. The mass of the ET at separation, including residual propellants, was about twice that of the largest possible shuttle payload. Not destroying them would have roughly tripled the total mass launched into orbit by the shuttle. ETs could have been connected to build units that would have humbled today’s International Space Station. The residual oxygen and hydrogen sloshing around in them could have been combined to generate electricity and produce tons of water, a commodity that is vastly expensive and desirable in space. But in spite of hard work and passionate advocacy by space experts who wished to see the tanks put to use, NASA—for reasons both technical and political—sent each of them to fiery destruction in the atmosphere. Viewed as a parable, it has much to tell us about the difficulties of innovating in other spheres.
EXECUTING THE BIG STUFF
Innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. The vast and radical innovations of the mid-twentieth century took place in a world that, in retrospect, looks insanely dangerous and unstable. Possible outcomes that the modern mind identifies as serious risks might not have been taken seriously—supposing they were noticed at all—by people habituated to the Depression, the World Wars, and the Cold War, in times when seat belts, antibiotics, and many vaccines did not exist. Competition between the Western democracies and the communist powers obliged the former to push their scientists and engineers to the limits of what they could imagine and supplied a sort of safety net in the event that their initial efforts did not pay off. A grizzled NASA veteran once told me that the Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest achievement.
In his book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, Tim Harford outlines Charles Darwin’s discovery of a vast array of distinct species in the Galapagos Islands—a state of affairs that contrasts with the picture seen on large continents, where evolutionary experiments tend to get pulled back toward a sort of ecological consensus by interbreeding. “Galapagan isolation” versus the “nervous corporate hierarchy” is the contrast staked out by Harford in assessing the ability of an organization to innovate.
Most people who work in corporations or academia have witnessed something like the following: A number of engineers are sitting together in a room, bouncing ideas off one another. Out of the discussion emerges a new concept that seems promising. Then some laptop-wielding person in the corner, having performed a quick Google search, announces that this “new” idea is, in fact, an old one—or at least vaguely similar—and has already been tried. Either it failed, or it succeeded. If it failed, then no manager who wants to keep his or her job will approve spending money trying to revive it. If it succeeded, then it’s patented and entry to the market is presumed to be unattainable, since the first people who thought of it will have “first-mover advantage” and will have created “barriers to entry.” The number of seemingly promising ideas that have been crushed in this way must be in the millions.
What if that person in the corner hadn’t been able to do a Google search? It might have required weeks of library research to uncover evidence that the idea wasn’t entirely new—and after a long and toilsome slog through many books, tracking down many references, some relevant, some not. When the precedent was finally unearthed, it might not have seemed like such a direct precedent after all. There might be reasons why it would be worth taking a second crack at the idea, perhaps hybridizing it with innovations from other fields. Hence the virtues of Galapagan isolation.
The counterpart to Galapagan isolation is the struggle for survival on a large continent, where firmly established ecosystems tend to blur and swamp new adaptations. Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author of the book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, has some insights about the unintended consequences of the Internet—the informational equivalent of a large continent—on our ability to take risks. In the pre-Net era, managers were forced to make decisions based on what they knew to be limited information. Today, by contrast, data flows to managers in real time from countless sources that could not even be imagined a couple of generations ago, and powerful computers process, organize, and display the data in ways that are as far beyond the hand-drawn graph-paper plots of my youth as modern video games are to tic-tac-toe. In a world where decision makers are so close to being omniscient, it’s easy to see risk as a quaint artifact of a primitive and dangerous past.
The illusion of eliminating uncertainty from corporate decision making is not merely a question of management style or personal preference. In the legal environment that has developed around publicly traded corporations, managers are strongly discouraged from shouldering any risks that they know about—or, in the opinion of some future jury, should have known about—even if they have a hunch that the gamble might pay off in the long run. There is no such thing as “long run” in industries driven by the next quarterly report. The possibility of some innovation making money is just that—a mere possibility that will not have time to materialize before the subpoenas from minority shareholder lawsuits begin to roll in.
Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.
Noonan: The New Bureaucratic Brazeness
Reply #1365 on:
October 03, 2014, 11:25:48 AM »
The New Bureaucratic Brazenness
Official arrogance is the source of public cynicism.
By Peggy Noonan
Oct. 2, 2014 6:22 p.m. ET
We're all used to a certain amount of doublespeak and bureaucratese in government hearings. That's as old as forever. But in the past year of listening to testimony from government officials, there is something different about the boredom and indifference with which government testifiers skirt, dodge and withhold the truth. They don't seem furtive or defensive; they are not in the least afraid. They speak always with a certain carefulness—they are lawyered up—but they have no evident fear of looking evasive. They really don't care what you think of them. They're running the show and if you don't like it, too bad.
And all this is a new bureaucratic style on the national level. During Watergate those hauled in and grilled by Congress were nervous. In Iran-Contra, Olllie North was in turn stoic, defiant and unafraid to make an appeal to the public. But commissioners and department heads now—they really think they're in charge. They don't bother to fake anxiety about public opinion. They care only about personal legal exposure. They do not fear public wrath.
All this became apparent in the past year's IRS hearings, and was pronounced in Tuesday's Secret Service hearings.
Julia Pierson, the director, did not seem at all preoccupied with what you thought of her. She was impassive, generally unresponsive and unforthcoming. She didn't bother to show spirit or fiery commitment. She was the lifeless expression of consultant-guided anti-truth.
No question was answered straight and simple. Everything was convoluted and involved extraneous data, so that listeners couldn't follow the answer and by the end couldn't remember the question. I am certain government witnesses do this deliberately—the rounded words, long sentences that collapse, the bureaucratic drone—so reporters will fall asleep and fail to file. An hour in Tuesday I expected the TV camera to slowly slide toward the ceiling, with the screen covered in a cameraman's drool. "Mistakes were made." "Our security plan was not property executed." Yes, you could say that of a story in which a nut with a knife burst into the White House and ran around the ceremonial rooms. Ms. Pierson neglected to mention in her testimony the story that would break shortly after she finished: Secret Service agents in Atlanta a few weeks before had allowed on to an elevator carrying the president a private security man, who reportedly jumped around taking pictures and was later found to be carrying a gun.
Ms. Pierson resigned after bad reviews of her performance. That's a tragedy in the sense it's tragic she wasn't fired.
But does anybody in the government feel it is necessary to be truthful about anything anymore? Does anyone in the federal government ever think about concepts like "taxpayers" and "citizens" and their "right to know"?
Everything sounds like propaganda. That will happen when government becomes too huge, too present and all-encompassing. Everything almost every level of government says now has the terrible, insincere, lying sound of The Official Line, which no one on the inside, or outside, believes. The other day, during the big Centers for Disease Control news conference on the Dallas Ebola case, a man from one of the health agencies insisted in burly (and somehow self-satisfied) tones that the nation's health is his group's No. 1 priority. And I thought, just like a normal person, "No, your No. 1 priority is to forestall a sense of panic. To do that you'll say what you need to say. Your second priority, connected to the first, is to assert the excellence and competence of the agency with which you are associated. Your third priority is to keep the public safe."
Everyone who spoke was very smooth. "I think 'handful' is the right characterization," said the CDC director to a Wall Street Journal reporter who asked if the sick man had contact with others before he was hospitalized. (That became "up to 100" the next day.) The officials were relentlessly modern-bureaucratic in their language. They have involved all "stakeholders."
Was the sick man an American or a foreign national? "The individual was here to visit family." Oh. The speaker's tone implied he'll tell us more down the road if he decides we can handle it.
What about those who traveled on the same plane as the man, and which flight was it? "Ebola is a virus. It's easy to kill if you wash your hands," said CDC chief Thomas Frieden . You are only infectious once you are sick, not before.
Ebola will not, all agreed, produce a full-fledged American epidemic. "We are stopping it in its tracks in this country," Dr. Frieden said.
That may be true. But nobody thinks it because government doctors and professionals said it. Americans do not have confidence in what The Officials tell them anymore.
This is not only because we live in a cynical age. In this case it's because people know the truth always contains uncomfortable elements, and in the CDC news conference very few uncomfortable elements were allowed.
They say the only thing you have to fear is personal contact, but they shy away from clearly defining personal contact. They suggest it has to do with bodily fluids, so you immediately think of the man sneezing next to you on the train. They do not want to discuss the man sneezing next to you on the train.
They did not want to discuss who the sick man was, his nationality, exactly what flight he came in on. They are good to their global masters! Sorry, just reacting like a normal person. There was a persistent sense the professionals had agreed to be chary with information that might alarm America's peasants and make them violent.
We are locked in some loop where the public figure knows what he must pronounce to achieve his agenda, and the public knows what he must pronounce to achieve his agenda, and we all accept what is being said while at the same time everyone sees right through it. The public figure literally says, "Prepare my talking points," and the public says, "He's just reading talking points." It leaves everyone feeling compromised. Public officials gripe they can't break through the cynicism. They cause the cynicism.
The only people who seem to tell the truth now are the people inside the agencies who become whistleblowers. They call a news organization, get on the phone with a congressman's staff. That's basically how the Veterans Affairs and Secret Service scandals broke: Desperate people who couldn't take the corruption dropped a dime. What does it say about a great nation when its most reliable truth tellers are desperate people?
Sometimes it looks as if everyone in public life is in showbiz, only showbiz with impermeable employee protections. Lois Lerner of IRS fame planted the question, told the lie, took the Fifth, lost the emails and stonewalled. Her punishment for all this was a $100,000-a-year pension for the rest of her life. Imagine how frightened she was. I wonder what the Secret Service head's pension will be?
A nation can't continue to be vibrant and healthy when the government controls more and more, and yet no one trusts a thing the government says. It's hard to keep going that way.
Reply #1366 on:
October 05, 2014, 03:07:56 PM »
Re: Political Rants & conjecture
Reply #1367 on:
October 13, 2014, 12:38:29 PM »
Pentagon preps for 'war' on global warming....
Ok, why I am posting this here: because this is complete hyperbole and conjecture on my part...
A couple of months ago, I read about a war game developed by the army for a potential 'zombie apocalypse.'
My first thought was of course, 'hoax'. But I looked it up and its real. The report itself basically says 'hey, this is just for a lark' in the introduction. I recall that it was (from memory) somebody's war college thesis or something. But, in essence it was a plan for the implementation of martial law in the event of a widespread biological outbreak. At the time I remember thinkoing: it doesn't take a rocket scientist to either ask the question: does the US Army war college really ever do ANYTHING 'on a lark'?, and b) to conclude that it's a pretty easy thing to mentally 'find and and replace' the farcical 'zombie apocalypse' with 'Ebola apocalypse', 'EMP apocalypse', 'economic apocalypse' and etc. That's the impression I was left with anyway.
Accordingly, what with everything that's going on in the world right now, when I saw this report today and was like 'really?!!!', I was suddenly struck by the admittedly quite paranoid possibility of asking huh,'what if global warming' (in the context of military preparedness) was just one big straw man?
Seems to me it would draw a lot less attention to say that 'the Pentagon is preparing for this [unlikely] event that most people think won't even happen' than 'the Pentagon is preparing for worldwide destabilization resulting from threat X that people see as being much more likely'.
That, or the idiots really are driving the bus. Presented with this alleged fact (the Pentagon's preparedness for GW), I don't really see other alternatives...?
Last Edit: October 13, 2014, 12:48:28 PM by MikeT
Ingraham: Obama done
Reply #1368 on:
October 21, 2014, 06:29:03 PM »
Oh really? (This woman is definitely from Venus.) Think again. He will do grave damage to this country for 26 more months. Then we have Hillary to contend with. And the rest of the left machine.
We didn't even win midterms yet. And even if we do we can't stop what he is about to do to us. Yup. He screwed this country over good.
***seen on Fox and Friends
President Obama told Al Sharpton's radio show that Democrats who are avoiding him before the midterm elections actually do support his agenda.
“The bottom line though is, these are all folks who vote with me, they have supported my agenda in Congress. ... This isn’t about my feelings being hurt, these are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me,” said Obama, citing agreements with these candidates on issues like the minimum wage, fair pay, infrastructure spending and early childhood education.
"I tell them, I said you know what, you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out."
The comments come after the president said that his policies are on the ballot on Election Day.
Laura Ingraham rejected Obama's comment about his feelings, arguing "it is all about his feelings being hurt."
She said the president can't get over the fact that he's "finished" and that his policies have failed.
By law no one can stop him it appears
Reply #1369 on:
October 21, 2014, 06:45:34 PM »
Again what planet is Ingraham from? Obama done? Why, he is just starting. Who is going to stop him? A coup of Treasury agents? The MSM? Hollywood? Silicon Valley? Wall Street? The hapless and truly helpless Republicans?
****Obama to Unilaterally Admit 100,000 Haitians Without Congress
By: Daniel Horowitz
October 20th, 2014
While Republicans are playing defense on immigration – curled up in the fetal position waiting for the transformational executive amnesty – Obama is already issuing “smaller” unilateral immigration edicts to the detriment of the country.
As noted before, Obama has already issued several executive orders expanding immigration or implementing incremental amnesty since Congress left town to hit the campaign trail. This time, he plans to admit 100,000 more impoverished immigrants from Haiti without input from Congress.
At a time when hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America - which has demonstrated public health concerns - that will place additional burden on our already overextended welfare system are being dispersed throughout our country, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced on Friday that they will extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduras and Nicaragua. On the same day, DHS announced that it would expand chain migration from Haiti with the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP), allowing as many as 100,000 more Haitians into the country beginning next year.
Obama is exploiting the generosity of our nation’s citizens and taking it to suicidal levels – all for his personal agenda of remaking America.
This is yet another example of Obama putting the priorities of Americans last by opening our doors to the third-world at a time when we have record legal and illegal immigration from some of these countries. Obama is exploiting the generosity of our nation’s citizens and taking it to suicidal levels – all for his personal agenda of remaking America.
Long before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we opened our doors to this very poor and uneducated country. According to the 2013 American Community Survey of the Census Bureau, we have almost 600,000 immigrants from Haiti. We’ve given out roughly 169,000 green cards to Haitian nationals since 2007, based on a quick glance of the most recent DHS yearbook on immigration. Remember this is a tiny country with a population just under 10 million.
Americans have been extremely generous to impoverished countries, particularly those from Latin America. Americans have always pitched in with charity and adoptions more than any other country in the world. And yes, we have opened our immigration system to these countries over the past few decades like never before. Now, Obama is taking that generosity and categorically expanding it across the board so that the remaining relatives of those recipients of our generosity can come here – without any regard for their qualifications.
Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) clearly states that barring temporary, catastrophic situations, immigrants must be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they do not become a public charge.
(B) Factors to be taken into account.- (i) In determining whether an alien is excludable under this paragraph, the consular officer or the Attorney General shall at a minimum consider the alien’s-
As we all know, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 50% of the population is illiterate. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Haiti and Honduras are among the countries from which the immigrant population has the lowest rate of entrepreneurship.
They [Republicans] must use all their leverage, including the budget process, during the lame duck session to execute their first duty: protecting Americans first.
Temporary Protective Status and parole were only designed for a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Categorically importing the third-world, especially given our current situation, certainly does not constitute a significant public benefit and it definitely is not being done on a case-by-case basis. Something this consequential must certainly not be done without the input from the American people through their elected representatives.
Contrast the current leadership under Obama and situation with the past. During a speech before a group of newly-arrived immigrants in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge asserted a basic premise supported by both political parties: “As a nation, our first duty must be those who are already our inhabitants, whether native or immigrants.”
Between Obama’s continued unilateral acts breaking our immigration system, his backward policy with the threat of infectious diseases, and his incoherent policy dealing with the threat from Islamic terror, it’s time for House Republicans to reconvene in an emergency session of Congress. They must use all their leverage, including the budget process, during the lame duck session to execute their first duty: protecting Americans first.
Questions surround Lewinsky's Return
Reply #1370 on:
at 10:44:50 AM »
It really is remarkable how as far as I can tell there is no mention of self responsibility or blame of Clinton or Hillary. Just bash the Drudgereport. And then turn it around to a politically correct agenda about online bullying......
; Just remarkable. And the left wingers scoop it right up.
*****Questions surround Lewinsky's return
By Kevin Cirilli - 10/23/14 06:00 AM EDT
Monica Lewinsky is back — and this time she has a cause.
The woman who became a punch line for sexual encounters with Bill Clinton is returning to the spotlight after more than a decade, hoping to become an advocate for ending bullying online.
While her speech on the topic in Philadelphia drew a standing ovation, it remains to be seen whether Lewinsky can escape her past — and the politics of being “that woman” — to help end what she calls a “culture of humiliation.”
Vanity Fair, which hired Lewinsky as a contributor, said the response to her first foray into public advocacy has been “very positive.”
"Even [liberal comedian] Bill Maher said, 'I was very moved by it,'" said Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak.
Lewinsky, who declined comment through a representative, said one of the “principal reasons” she decided to break her silence was the 2010 death of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who committed suicide after intimate pictures of him were posted online to humiliate him and "expose" him as being gay.
"While it touched us both, my mother was unusually upset by the story and I wondered why," Lewinsky said in her speech. "Eventually it dawned on me: she was back in 1998, back to a time when I was periodically suicidal; when she might very easily have lost me; when I, too, might have been humiliated to death."
Lewinsky specifically mentioned The Tyler Clementi Foundation in her speech, providing a boom of publicity for the organization that his parents started.
"We're very appreciative she'd mention our foundation and our work," Clementi's mother Jane said in an interview with The Hill.
Jane Clementi said a "mutual friend" introduced her to Lewinsky after her first Vanity Fair column, and the two discussed her son.
"She shared with us how Tyler's story impacted her and her mom," Clementi said.
Some advocates say they do not want Lewinsky to become the face of the anti-bullying movement.
StopCyberbullying founder Parry Aftab said Lewinsky's involvement would "set back" their efforts.
"I find it a bit insulting to the people who have been cyber bullied to have Monica Lewinsky step out and say she's the poster-child for cyber bullying," said Aftab, whose nonprofit is organized in 76 countries and began in 1995.
Aftab said that Lewinsky's baggage would take attention away from the main issue.
"Look at her interviews — it's all about Monica," Aftab said. "She's setting us back years. She doesn't know what she's talking about."
Aftab argued that Lewinsky wasn't cyber bullied after her affair with Clinton was exposed by the Drudge Report, a conservative website, because she became "a public figure and it was newsworthy."
While StopCyberbullying has sought to appeal to young people by working with MTV, the Spiderman comic book series and celebrities such as Nick Lachey and Victoria Justice, Aftab said the group has no interest in working with Lewinsky.
"One of the housewives from 'Real Housewives of Orange County' came to us the other week — I don't even remember her name," Aftab said. "We said, 'No.' These people just want the publicity."
Forbes editor Randall Lane, who helped organize the Philadelphia event and book Lewinsky’s appearance, disagreed, arguing that Lewinsky has the “ultimate point of view” on cyber bullying from having experienced it “first hand.”
"There's not a single person in this age group — the first generation to grow up with the Internet — that hasn't either been cyber bullied or know someone who has," Lane said. "They innately get what she's talking about."
"Also, she made a mistake in her 20s that will haunt her for the rest of her life — that resonates, too."
The Clementi Foundation says Lewinsky’s advocacy is helping them reinvigorate the national debate on cyber bullying and share Tyler's story.
"Unfortunately, most people only think about Tyler's final hours," Clementi's mother Jane said. "That's sad because that's so not Tyler. He was a sweet, kind, caring, giving and thoughtful person.”
"In a moment of despair, he didn't find the right answer," she said. "This is all outside of my world — it's not what I'm used to, but there's an importance in sharing someone's story and starting a conversation."
But can Lewinsky help?
"I believe that she can," Clementi said. "If Tyler could see the impact he's had — I think it'd be overwhelming and amazing for him."
— This report was updated at 8:37 a.m.
at 12:56:39 PM by Crafty_Dog
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