Putin thinks globally, while Obama acts locally

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

There have been hundreds of columns written about the rise of a new “Red Dawn” under Russian President Vladimir Putin. Europe is a twitter (not the social media site) with concern about the Russian bear. President Obama is finishing up a trip to Europe and has called for sanctions against Russia for its actions in Crimea.

The world is waiting with baited breath for Putin’s next chess move perhaps into Ukraine. Gas prices are spiking, global fear is rising and America is cutting its military forces to pre-World War II levels. Those old enough to remember know what happens when America is weak and its eventual cost in blood and treasure. Talk of WW III abound.

Diplomacy is designed to prevent war. It is useless once the war has started. All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it. Prussian General and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote:

Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst. War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.

President Obama is a kind hearted person, President Putin is not.

Raphael Israeli in his book “Defeat, Trauma, Lesson: Israel Between Life and Extinction”, writes, “All too often we celebrate our rare victories in slow motion, play and replay endlessly their every detail so as to savor them  as if they were the natural state of affairs, but we tend to push our defeats to the corner, belittle and forget them.”

Israeli notes, “Winston Churchill  has become the hero and icon of the Allied resistance in spite of his association with war, death and destruction, and Neville Chamberlain, his predecessor, has been encrusted in the pages of history as the defeatist and naïve ‘peacenik’ who sought peace at any price, but in his search of peace and honor ended up forfeiting both.”

Who will history view as today’s Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill?

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President Barack Obama

President Obama has, since his election in 2008, had multiple bites at the apple to stand with peoples seeking liberty over repressive regimes. A second bite at the apple is defined as, “A second chance at an argument or negotiation previously lost.” President Obama may have a third bite at the apple of freedom if he decides to support the people of the Ukraine in their efforts to achieve liberty and independence from Russia. He has failed twice to make a strong argument against tyrannical regimes during his administration. As people died Obama remained silent.

The first failure was in 2009 during the Green Revolution in Iran. President Obama materially did nothing and the Green Revolution was put down violently by the Iranian regime. The winners: Russia and Iran. Loser: United States.

The second failure was in 2013 during the mass demonstrations against and overthrow of the Morsi regime in Egypt. President Obama materially did nothing and the people of Egypt prevailed. The winners: Egypt and Russia. Loser: United States.

Today President Obama is faced with yet another revolution but this time in the heart of Eastern Europe – the Ukraine.

As Clausewitz wrote, “Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.”

Who is following the faint light – Obama or Putin?

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Krauthammer: Obama vs. Putin – The Mismatch

Warfare Three Ways

A History of the Disastrous Global Warming Hoax

“It is the greatest deception in history and the extent of the damage has yet to be exposed and measured,” says Dr. Tim Ball in his new book, “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”.

Dr. Ball has been a climatologist for more than forty years and was one of the earliest critics of the global warming hoax that was initiated by the United Nations environmental program that was established in 1972 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988.

Several UN conferences set in motion the hoax that is based on the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing a dramatic surge in heating the Earth. IPCC reports have continued to spread this lie through their summaries for policy makers that influenced policies that have caused nations worldwide to spend billions to reduce and restrict CO2 emissions. Manmade climate change—called anthropogenic global warming—continues to be the message though mankind plays no role whatever

There is no scientific support for the UN theory.

CO2, despite being a minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere, is essential for all life on Earth because it is the food that nourishes all vegetation. The Earth has passed through many periods of high levels of CO2 and many cycles of warming and cooling that are part of the life of the planet.

“Science works by creating theories based on assumptions,” Dr. Ball notes, “then other scientists—performing their skeptical role—test them. The structure and mandate of the IPCC was in direct contradiction of this scientific method. They set out to prove the theory rather than disprove it.”

Cover - Deliberate Corruption“The atmosphere,” Dr. Ball notes, “is three-dimensional and dynamic, so building a computer model that even approximates reality requires far more data than exists and much greater understanding of an extremely turbulent and complex system.” No computer model put forth by the IPCC in support of global warming has been accurate, nor ever could be.

Most of the reports were created by a small group of men working within the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia and all were members of the IPCC. The result was “a totally false picture supposedly based on science.”

The revelations of emails between the members of the CRU were made available in 2009 by an unknown source. Dr. Ball quotes Phil Jones, the Director of the CRU at the time of the leaks, and Tom Wigley, a former director addressing other CRU members admiting that “Many of the uncertainties surrounding the cause of climate change will never be resolved because the necessary data are lacking.”

The IPCC depended upon the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the science involved and the global warming hoax was greatly aided because the “mainstream media bought into and promoted the unproven theory. Scientists who challenged were denied funding and marginalized. National environmental policies were introduced based on the misleading information” of the IPCC summaries of their reports.

“By the time of the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report, the politics and hysteria about climate change had risen to a level that demanded clear evidence of a human signal,” notes Dr. Ball. “An entire industry had developed around massive funding from government. A large number of academic, political, and bureaucratic careers had evolved and depended on expansion of the evidence. Environmentalists were increasing pressure on the public and thereby politicians.”

The growing problem for the CRU and the entire global warming hoax was that no clear evidence existed to blame mankind for changes in the climate and still largely unknown to the public was the fact that the Earth has passed through many natural cycles of warmth and cooling. If humans were responsible, how could the CRU explain a succession of ice ages over millions of years?

The CRU emails revealed their growing concerns regarding a cooling cycle that had begun in the late 1990s and now, some seventeen years later, the Earth is in a widely recognized cooling cycle.

Moreover, the hoax was aimed at vast reductions in the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as nuclear power to produce the electricity on which all modern life depends. There was advocacy of solar and wind power to replace them and nations undertook costly programs to bring about the reduction of the CO2 “fossil fuels” produced and spent billions on the “green” energy. That program is being abandoned.

At the heart of the hoax is a contempt for mankind and a belief that population worldwide should be reduced. The science advisor to President Obama, John Holdren, has advocated forced abortions, sterilization by introducing infertility drugs into the nation’s drinking water and food, and other totalitarian measures. “Overpopulation is still central to the use of climate change as a political vehicle,” warns Dr. Ball.

Given that the environmental movement has been around since the 1960s, it has taken decades for the public to grasp its intent and the torrents of lies that have been used to advance it. “More people,” notes Dr. Ball, “are starting to understand that what they’re told about climate change by academia, the mass media, and the government is wrong, especially the propaganda coming from the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

“Ridiculous claims—like the science is settled or the debate is over—triggered a growing realization that something was wrong.” When the global warming advocates began to tell people that cooling is caused by warming, the public has realized how absurd the entire UN climate change argument has been.

Worse, however, has been “the deliberate deceptions, misinformation, manipulation of records and misapplying scientific method and research” to pursue a political objective. Much of this is clearly unlawful, but it is unlikely that any of those who perpetrated the hoax will ever be punished and, in the case of Al Gore and the IPCC, they shared a Nobel Peace Prize!

We are all in debt to Dr. Ball and a score of his fellow scientists who exposed the lies and debunked the hoax; their numbers are growing with thousands of scientists signing petitions and participating in international conferences to expose this massive global deception.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Boehner part of Obama – Clinton Benghazi Coverup?

Is House Speaker John Boehner obstructing justice for the families of the Benghazi four? Why is Speaker John Boehner protecting the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s actions, instead of getting to the truth about what happened on 9/11/2012? Is it past the time for a select committee? Is it time to call Boehner out on his refusal to constitute a select committee? The families of the fallen deserve a fair and impartial investigation so this does not happen again.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/hHwSr4DDhRc[/youtube]

Lesson Learned: The ‘Show’ of Support for Common Core in Georgia

Pro-Common Core groups astro-turf the illusion of overwhelming support for the program.

Earlier this week opponents of the “Common Core State Standards” cautiously celebrated their first major victory as Governor Mike Pence signed legislation withdrawing Indiana from the nationalized education program.

But in Georgia, the pro-Common Core big business/big government forces outgunned the grassroots and celebrated victory on the last day of the session last week.  A look at their tricks can provide lessons for other states.

Republican State Senator William Ligon was the sponsor of anti-Common Core legislation this year and last.  The 2013 version of his SB 167, which called for a complete withdrawal from Common Core, failed to get out of committee.  This year’s bill, revised multiple times, also failed to get out of the education committee.  Parts of the bill attached as two amendments to another education bill did not get approval on the last day of the session (with some supporters switching their votes).

On the side fighting Common Core and trying to enact legislation that would withdraw Georgia from the national education standards were tea party groups, alarmed parents and grandparents, dissenting teachers, and such groups as Concerned Women for America and American Principles in Action.

But even Democratic teachers and parents who oppose Common Core would not be able to fight the pro-Common Core rent-seekers — lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce, principals, teachers, superintendents, and public radio and television employees.

The only thing that passed was a resolution to form a study committee on Common Core.  But even this was too much for Georgia Democratic State Representative Alisha Thompson Morgan, now running for state school superintendent.  In February, Morgan had introduced a House Resolution affirming Georgia’s commitment to Common Core.

To even discuss Common Core in a study committee was crazy talk, she implied in her speech against the measure in the waning hours on the last day.  For evidence, she noted, “I’ve heard all kinds of things, like let’s abolish the U.S. Department of Education.”  To Morgan, the federal Department of Education protects students: “It’s the federal government’s job to ensure that we don’t violate the rights of students.”

She listed the benefits bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education: the $400 million in stimulus funds in exchange for agreement to the Common Core standards, innovation grants, and data-tracking from “preschool to Ph.D.” Morgan insisted this was not a Democratic or Republican issue.  She was speaking as “a mom” of a first-grader, and she was hearing great things from her teacher about Common Core — like developing “critical thinking skills.”

“Why are we still having this conversation?” Morgan asked.  No further discussion should be allowed: a March 5 education committee hearing on Ligon’s bill had 68 people testifying, with the vast majority, 58, opposing Ligon’s bill.

“I don’t ever remember so many people testifying,” she said: “It was the first time I recall groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Coalition of 100 Black Men joining together.”

Plus, she had been overwhelmed by emails and other communication from teachers, parents, and citizens pleading to keep Common Core, a claim she repeated from what she had said at the education committee hearings on March 5 and March 12.  These Common Core fans, Morgan said, spoke up at “listening sessions” held across the state in the months leading up to the start of the session in January.  They greatly outnumbered those who spoke against it — proof that the public supported Common Core.

In spite of Morgan’s arguments, the resolution for a study committee on Common Core passed, but it was the only — and largely symbolic — state level effort against Common Core this year.

Representative Morgan’s characterization of the groundswell of support for Common Core, however, does not fit with what documents obtained from an open records request reveal.  Those testifying against Ligon’s bill were largely members of the Chamber of Commerce — and public school employees: teachers, principals, superintendents, and administrators.  By my own count, 12 of them came from Tift County, 181 miles to the south of Atlanta, and they used school buses to get there.

They had apparently also used school buses to travel to the “listening sessions” across the state.  These were sham forums and used to present a show of openness on the issue.  In reality, the establishment, from Republican Governor Nathan Deal to the Education Committee chairman, Brooks Coleman (also a Republican), had made their decisions that Common Core was going to stay.  After the testimony of Tift County principal Mickey Weldon at the March 5 education committee hearing, Chairman Brooks Coleman thanked her and those who have been arranging the bus trips: “They bring those buses, and we appreciate them.”

RELATED STORY: Big Data Enters the Classroom

A Faulty Education = A Faulty Foreign Policy

The recent impotence of America’s leaders on the world stage has left many wondering where the strength, power, and resolve that used to characterize our nation’s foreign policy have gone.  Some have located this in the administration’s preoccupation with domestic policy, while others view it as a concerted effort to roll back American influence.  Politics aside, the origin of this inaction may be as easy to locate as your local high school’s world history textbook.

Russia provides the perfect example.  Those who wonder why the administration refuses to recognize Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine for what it is – naked territorial conquest – can find the answer in the history education our country has provided to those who fill the staffs of President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the halls of the State Department.

Verity Educate recently reviewed a world history textbook from a prominent publisher that is currently in use throughout school districts in Florida, with disturbingly misleading information about the history of Russian involvement in Crimea (a small peninsula on the Black Sea that Russia has recently annexed from Ukraine.)  There is a distortion of historical fact and misinformation conveyed in the most basic information American children learn in school, and this explains, in part, why our society and our political leaders fail to understand Russian intentions and the role of the Crimean region today.

The singular focus of this textbook, like many other world history books today, is on European imperialism – the military conquest of global territory by European and other Western nations.  Russian actions in the region are viewed in this light.  This particular textbook describes Russia’s historical intentions toward Crimea and the Black Sea region under the heading, “Europeans Claim Muslim Lands,” with the argument that “European nations expanded their empires by seizing territories from Muslim states.”  Overemphasis on the crimes of imperialism, however, obscures the important strategic concepts that ring true today.

The textbook explains, “Each generation of Russian czars launched a war on the Ottomans to try to gain land of the Black Sea” and that “In 1853, war broke out between the Russians and the Ottomans.”  The Crimean War is then described as a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire over control of the Black Sea region.  The only attempt the book makes at explaining Russia’s longstanding motivation in seeking to control this territory is the offhanded remark that “the purpose was to give Russia a warm-weather port.”  Two empires fought a war because Russian sailors wanted a comfortable place to relax on shore leave?

This explanation is a paltry attempt to explain a key geostrategic reason for continued Russian expansionism in the southern Slavic regions of Europe.  Russia did not simply desire a “warm-weather port” where sailors could discard their heavy parkas.  Rather, Russia was in desperate need of a warm-water port that would not freeze over in the winter months.  This was critical economically at that that time, primarily to ship grain, and also militarily.  Despite its size, Russia had no other options for a warm-water port.  Moreover, control of Crimea, which Russia acquired in 1783, was not enough, because the Ottoman Empire could easily block Russian ships from leaving the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

The textbook glosses over a key Russian national interest – control of a warm-water port on the Black Sea with access to the Mediterranean – that has remained just as important throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  The textbook fails to teach this vital lesson about history, world strategy, and international relations because it is focused only on teaching that “Europeans Claim Muslim Lands.”

When I taught the history of international relations to college students, I emphasized, repeatedly that Russia has always sought to secure for itself access to a warm-water port.  Iced over ports have always constituted a geographic weakness the country seeks to overcome.  This has always been at the heart of Russia’s southern expansionism on the Black Sea.  I also taught that Great Britain, France, and Sardinia joined the Ottomans in fighting Russia in the 1850s in order to maintain a balance of power and check Russian expansion.  But the fact that the two European countries most guilty of the crime of colonial imperialism fought on the side of a non-Western, non-Christian power contradicts the argument of Western crimes, and so it is omitted from many curricula.

These misunderstandings of history do more then just create confusion about international relations today.  They make it impossible to understand Russia’s strategic motivations.  It is no wonder, then, that American policy makers seem dumbfounded by Russia’s decisive movements into Ukraine.  If they, and, in particular, the staff members advising them, learned history from our textbooks, it should come as no surprise that they have no understanding of what is going on or how to react.

One thing we can be sure of is that Russia suffers from no such confusion.  They, and the students in their schools, understand their own country’s national interests – both historically and today.

RELATED STORY: AP History Changes Lean Toward a Negative American Perspective

EDITORS NOTE: The featured picture titled “Uncertain Future” was taken by Danielteolijr. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Effectively Irrational: 30 common fallacies used against libertarians by Max Borders

By now you have probably heard of Bryan Caplan’s “rational irrationality.” The idea is that if the cost of holding irrational beliefs is low enough, there may be more irrationality demanded. Indeed, if holding an irrational view makes someone feel better about himself or keep membership in some in-group—but holding the view doesn’t directly harm the holder—she may very well stick with that view.

Caplan contrasts this with the idea of “rational ignorance,” which is more familiar to our readers. That simply means the cost of acquiring enough information to have a truly informed opinion about some issue is generally high, so people remain ignorant.

Both of these behaviors certainly play a role in the preponderance of dumb policies and dumb views. But are there corollaries in debate tactics?

Most libertarians find they’re arguing in social media these days. So they’re not only finding new people on whom to test their ideas, they’re finding new fallacies in response. And sometimes these fallacies work, despite being fallacious, which is probably why they’re so commonplace. This is especially true on social media, where one can quickly learn that the real point of these exchanges is to play to the audience, to provide them with an excuse to withdraw into whatever biases they already hold. Still, maybe it’s possible to raise the costs of employing these fallacies—at least a little.

We’ve decided to offer you a fun list of them, which you can use as a handy guide in the process of engaging in well-mannered, reasoned discourse online.

  1. Argument ad KochBrotherium: This fallacy is a cousin to the genetic fallacy and guilt by association. The twist, of course, is that anything that the Koch Brothers ever say, said, fund, funded, might fund, came close to funding, could have funded, will fund, walked by, looked at, support, think about, or mention is invalid by virtue of, well, “Koch Brothers! Boo!”
  2. The Unicorn: You’ll recognize this fallacy from the question, “Why does no libertarian country exist anywhere in the world?” Embedded in the question is the assumption that libertarian countries don’t exist because they are fantastic creatures, like unicorns. Of course, just because something doesn’t exist yet does not mean it can’t exist. Indeed, the Internet in 1990 and the American Republic in 1775 beg to differ. And the unicorn fallacy fundamentally confuses the libertarian worldview with some “L”ibertarian platform that might be the product of some electoral processes—processes most libertarians reject. Michael Lind and E. J. Dionne have brandished this fallacy rather shamelessly, and have had it parried rather effectively by better minds.
  3. Nut-Picking: This fallacy has nothing to do with Jimmy Carter. In this style of argument, the arguer finds the kookiest or most insane person who self-identifies as libertarian and then ascribes all of that person’s beliefs or claims to all libertarians. (This one could also be called the Alex Jones fallacy.) This is a tough one to counter simply because there are plenty of nuts to pick from, and plenty of them use the L-word.
  4. Must Be Scared/Have No Answer: This one’s pretty simple really, and a unique creature of “debate” via social media. The libertarian leaves his computer or signs off for a while and the opponent accuses the libertarian of not being able to answer his or her Facebook claims, which the libertarian simply never saw or had no time to answer.
  5. The Tin Man: This fallacy was identified and named by Cole James Gentles (here), who inspired this article. With the tin man the arguer either concludes or falsely assumes that the libertarian “has no heart” because she argues against some favored policy. This cousin of the straw man (scarecrow) fallacy assumes a direct line between sympathies and outcomes. Any failure to support some means amounts to a failure to support the wished-for end.
    The tin man fallacy is rooted in the assumption that one’s opponent, often a libertarian, has no heart. Unlike the straw man fallacy, in which the debater needs to mischaracterize their opponent’s position, the tin man fallacy allows the debater to build a sturdy-looking, if hollow, general facsimile of their opponent’s position (“You are against state mandated universal health care?”), but not give him a heart (“Then you don’t care about poor people who don’t have access to affordable, quality insurance, or people with pre-existing conditions!! You heartless monster! WHY DO YOU HATE THE POOR?!” Heard that one before?)

    The frightening part of this fallacy is that its wielder usually thinks exitus acta probat.

  6. Availability Cascade: Something big and bloody happens on the news (or goes viral), so the arguer implies or concludes that it’s a widespread occurrence. Example: A mass shooting has occurred, which points to an epidemic of gun violence. It’s not clear that if gun violence is at a multidecadal low point, the incident reflects an “epidemic.” The ready availability of some story leads one to conclude that a problem is widespread and demands a drastic response. Cass Sunstein, known for his work on “nudging,” gets credit along with Timur Kuran for identifying this phenomenon. (An availability cascade doesn’t always have to involve specious reasoning, but it very often does.)
  7. Man on the Moon: Remember Rachel Maddow standing in front of the Hoover Dam? She’s trying to convince her viewers that the government (which she calls “the country”) must tax and build some major make-work project in order to revive the economy (or whatever). Maddow is employing a form of the man on the moon fallacy, which takes the form, “If we can put a man on the moon, we can do X.” But it misconstrues any reservations about big, awe-inspiring State projects as doubts about “America’s” ability to do big things. It’s just assumed that anything requiring extensive collaboration must be done via State power for it to count. Questions of the value, cost, or feasibility (or some combination thereof) of any particular project are sealed off from the word “if.” And of course “we” is never carefully unpacked.
  8. The Gap: I wrote a whole book about why the following involves fallacious thinking. The fallacy goes something like this: “The free market widens the gap between rich and poor.” Now, strictly speaking that claim might be correct. But so what? I’ll pass over the problem that the “free market” has probably already been attacked with the unicorn fallacy at some prior point in the same hypothetical conversation. In any case, because economies are dynamic, the “rich” and “poor” change from day to day, and measured in quintiles, we don’t know whether the “gap” will be greater or smaller from one day to the next, even assuming a free market. The real problem with such reasoning is the built-in assumption that a gap itself is a bad thing. Suppose a really tall man moves into my neighborhood. Apart from my suddenly wishing I were taller, does the presence of the tall man make me worse off somehow? Of course not. The existence of the rich person doesn’t make me worse off, either, unless he got rich by using political means to transfer money from my pocket to his. This happens all the time. But such transfers have nothing whatsoever to do with free markets.Measuring an asset gap in and of itself tells us little. Indeed, without the functional story of how any gap came to be—stories, not snapshots matter here—we can’t make any judgments about it whatsoever. “Gap” talk is just a fetish that ignores how much better off the poor are thanks to the existence of innovators and entrepreneurs who got rich by creating value. And the unstated assumption is that if any group of people has more wealth at any particular point, the people with less are somehow being wronged simply because the other group has more. The gap fallacy is also meant to preempt debate, usually in the service of another agenda (which is rarely more than reinforcing the opponent’s opinion of himself as a good guy).
  9. The Two-Step: Some opponents will simply change the subject in the middle of a discussion, leaving the original claim by the wayside. Usually neither party notices the two-step. For example, the opponent may refuse to answer the libertarian’s direct question and instead respond with another question. Or the debater may slide into one or another irrelevant point that has no bearing on the original point at issue. This process can go on for a while unless the libertarian rigorously brings the opponent back to the original point. The red herring, ad hoc, and non sequitur are similar enough fallacies, so the two-step may also be classified as an evasive tactic.
  10. Panglossian Fallacy: Because the military-industrial complex was somehow involved in developing aspects of what later became the commercialized Internet, it follows that government funding is indispensable for such wonderful things to appear—and that all the things that go along with the funding (and revenue-collection) apparatus are therefore also acceptable. This variation of the post hoc fallacy is seductive particularly because we can never know what would have happened in the counterfactual private sector. Form: If it happened, it must be the best of all possible worlds. (See also the “The Government R&D Canard.”)
  11. Your Side: Also known as tarring with the same brush, this fallacy has a couple of related forms (see No. 1 and No. 3). An opponent may accuse the libertarian of being a Republican or Tea Party conservative because he or she happens to agree with a majority of Republicans on some particular issue. One hears: “Your side thinks . . . ” when in actuality the libertarian doesn’t have a “side” per se. It works even better as a tactic if there is really no connection at all apart from being something the opponent’s “side” would never say. The “your side” fallacy allows the opponent to appeal directly to tribal biases, which are more immediate and powerful than any argument. When it’s intentional, this rhetorical maneuver is meant to appeal to others who may be watching—the hope being that they’ll swerve into the ditch that is their own biases.
  12. The We/Society Fallacy: This common form of hypostatization occurs when the user ascribes rational individual agency to “society” and conflates or confuses society with the State. Both usually happen immediately, or somewhere hidden, before the opponent even speaks. The opponent wants his moral position or emotional state to be reflected somehow in the organization of society. Although “we” or “society” is a useful ersatz word that appears to confer legitimacy on some aspect of the opponent’s claim, it is almost always an intellectual sleight-of-hand. Only individuals can act. Groups must work through processes of either collaboration or coercion. (Note: “The market” is often misused this way by both supporters and detractors.)
  13. Deus ex Machina/Market Failure: People is people. And yet opponents sometimes think that it’s enough to argue that governments, by dint of largess and force, have the power to fix certain kinds of problems, which they label “market failures” because they happened outside the purview of State action. Note that this only works in one direction: Problems in any area covered by the State are usually chalked up to being problems merely of execution, whereas “market failures” allegedly reflect an inherent deficiency. Even if one agrees that one set of people working in voluntary cooperation cannot solve some problem (or at least haven’t yet), it does not follow that another group of people—“the government”—can. Indeed, greats like James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock have given us very good reasons why government is not likely to solve problems and will likely make matters worse.
  14. The Organic Fallacy: Such arguments take the form, “It’s organic, therefore it’s good or good for you.” Or similarly, “It’s not organic, therefore it’s bad or bad for you.” One hears this rationale to demand regulations and food labeling. And while there may be independent reasons to justify such regulations or labeling, these are not justified by the organic fallacy. It’s not clear that Socrates would argue for the health benefits of natural hemlock, nor would people with thyroidectomies argue they should go without Synthroid. I would add that, until there is more evidence to the contrary, there are plenty of GMOs that are good for me. (Note: Plenty of libertarians commit this fallacy too. Just because Monsanto is a rent-seeker doesn’t mean all its products are bad.)
  15. Nobel Fallacy: You may recognize the form “X has a Nobel Prize in economics, who are you to argue against his claims?” I don’t care whether Krugman or Stiglitz has a Nobel Prize, they’re wrong about just about everything. And the truth or falsity of one’s claim doesn’t depend on his credentials. (Meanwhile Nobel Laureates James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, Elinor Ostrom, Douglass North, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich Hayek are mostly always right. I mean, that’s like 6–2 for the good guys. [*rimshot*])
  16. No Parks for You: Snarkier opponents of libertarianism rhetorically ask why libertarians avail themselves of all the goods and services government happens to provide. “If you’re going to live by your principles, you can’t use X or Y” (insert: state universities or public roads). Of course, it does not follow that one should not avail himself of some good or service he thinks should be provided by other means. Indeed, one could argue that he is more than justified in consuming some good or service he has been forced to pay for against his will.
  17. The Self-Exile Fallacy: Snarkier still is the opponent who argues that “If you don’t like it, why don’t you just leave?” Implicit in this question is the suggestion that there is some positive duty for one to leave a condition he doesn’t like and/or that by one’s staying, he his implicitly consenting to whatever the system is. By this “logic,” if you have just bought a house with an ‘80s bathroom, instead of improving, changing, or upgrading it, you should just take a bath in the kitchen sink.
  18. Somalia: Opponents love to tell you that Somalia must be a “libertarian paradise.” Everyone laughs. If you respond with a phrase like “comparative institutional analysis,” everyone’s eyes glaze over and you lose, despite being correct. Somalia has been better off on most dimensions without a central government than it was under a brutal, centralized regime—warlordism notwithstanding.
  19. Social Contract: Rousseau left a terrible intellectual legacy. And progressives use his “social contract” to justify anything under the statist’s sun. Of course, there could be a real social contract, but libertarian opponents prefer the one that allows them to justify anything under . . .
  20. Start Somewhere: You’ve slogged through the data. You’ve offered a completely rational response. You’ve explained the ins and outs of why your opponent’s policy X won’t work and why it may even make things worse. The response? “We’ve got to start somewhere.” The idea here is that it’s better to do, well, anything—even if it might result in calamity. And, of course, the State must do that potentially calamitous thing. (See also No. 23.)
  21. Social Darwinism: “The free market is just social Darwinism!” This is actually a pretty old meme. It was used by progressive academics in the 1940s to smear the work of Herbert Spencer. Spencer was a biological Darwinist to be sure. And he also thought the market and social phenomena like institutions and ideas would be subjected to analogous evolutionary forces. But the unit of survival in markets is the business, not the individual. In other words, businesses that fail to create value for customers die. But advocating for free people to engage in voluntary exchange is not advocating that people leave the weak, poor, or vulnerable to suffer. Quite the contrary. Most advocates of the free market believe a robust philanthropy sector is part and parcel to a system of voluntary exchange. Herbert Spencer thought so too. He writes: “Of course, in so far as the severity of this process is mitigated by the spontaneous sympathy of men for each other, it is proper that it should be mitigated.”
  22. Argumentum Ad Googlum: This fallacy proceeds when the libertarian makes a good point or builds a stellar case, or asks a question the opponent can’t answer. The opponent disappears for a while, frantically Googling away. The opponent comes back with a series of links that stand in for argument. To be fair, this isn’t always a fallacy, as some will use links to support their claims. But often the tactic is used to thrust the burden of debate back onto the libertarian who is expected to read through the links and infer some point. At best, it’s bad form.
  23. We’ve Got to Do Something!: Related to the “start somewhere” fallacy, “We’ve got to do something!” is an argument that really means (a) the State has to do something, and (b) State action is preferable to both no action or private action. Numerous examples of this fallacy appear when opponents think any action riding on good intentions is good enough, consequences be damned. Often, however, it can be demonstrated that it is better for government to do nothing and to stop doing what it’s already doing. (Examples include stimulus spending, regulation, and other forms of intervention.) For government to do nothing is rarely presented as premise subject to debate and evaluation. Someone genuinely open to ideas would ask, “What should be done about this?” and “Who should do it?” Someone genuinely interested in answers would have the courtesy to make explicit what they already believe: “The government has to do something, which is beyond debate. Here’s what I think that something should be.”
  24. Empirical Fallacy: A familiar opponents’ refrain of late is: How do we know X isn’t going to work until we try it? We have to wait and see the empirical evidence before calling X a failure. With such reasoning we should let monkeys go to Washington and type randomly into a big machine that spits out statutes at random. Well, we already do this in a manner of speaking, but it might be a good idea to look at some well-established economic theory and economic thinking before sallying forth into legislative adventures that could have both predictably perverse and unintended consequences. More importantly, the opponent presumes it is the prerogative of the State—and, by extension, any governmental group within the State apparatus—to experiment on those under its auspices, and that it is the duty of the subjects in that jurisdiction to submit to the experimentation. (Also called the Pelosi Fallacy.)
  25. No True Libertarian: Ever heard of the no true Scotsman fallacy? Usually it’s applied by someone in a group to question another’s membership in that same group in terms of their ideological purity. Libertarians are famous for saying to each other, “If you think X, you’re no libertarian.” But libertarians’ opponents use a variation of this too. They’ll say something like, “Libertarians believe in X. If you don’t, you’re no libertarian.” (X might be natural rights, collective non-State action, a social safety net, etc.) The no true Libertarian fallacy is a way of trying to force the libertarian to choose between a subtle variation in his argument and his own doctrine. It implies the libertarian lacks credibility: “This clown doesn’t know what he thinks!” Of course, such a tack has no bearing on the truth or falsity of either party’s claims, or the validity of their arguments. Libertarianism is a diverse school of thought. It is not a monolith. One need only demonstrate the consistency of his argument.
  26. Fascist Ignorance: This one should be familiar: Libertarian opponents were outraged—OUTRAGED—when John Mackey pointed out quite correctly on NPR that Obamacare is a fascist policy. Fascism is, of course, a doctrine that calls for significant State control over private industries, to be carried out in the service of State ends. So the fallacy of fascist ignorance is a form of ad hominem in which a libertarian opponent refers to the libertarian or his views as “fascist” despite, strictly speaking, holding fascist views herself. (One might also refer to this as the “chicken calling the cow ‘poultry’” fallacy.) In the interests of good discourse, however, it’s probably not wise for anyone to evoke the power of the “F” word at all, given how much baggage it carries.
  27. Just One Life: The emotional appeal, grounded in nothing substantive, is meant to be a moralistic shutdown card. It goes “I’m sorry, but if we can save just one life with this policy, it’s worth it.” What does that even mean? Does it mean that every life has infinite value? Does it mean that saving lives at the expense of others and all other considerations is the purpose of government? Or does it mean that “worth it” is completely vague, but you just care a lot? It’s a heroic-sounding sentiment, but it demonstrates only the speaker’s commitment and earnestness—not any analysis of the policy itself.
  28. Consensus: This hybrid of the bandwagon and appeal to authority fallacies infects lots of discourse. It takes the form, “Lots of really smart and educated people believe X, therefore it’s true.” From the USDA food pyramid dieticians to macroeconomists, authorities are not always right. There are limits to any individual’s ability to understand all the nuances of a given issue. Prediction and forecast are even more difficult. Political decision-makers must confront the same cognitive limitations as mere mortals, which is why they, like libertarian debate opponents, rely far too heavily on expert “consensus.”
  29. Logo-phallo-euro-centric: Opponents accuse libertarianism of being hostile to women, minorities, homosexuals, and other marginalized groups. The fallacy lies in the idea that if your doctrine doesn’t acknowledge that groups deserve special, State-sanctioned treatment at the expense of other groups or individuals, it’s tantamount to some ism. Some even go as far as to say that if you use certain language some construe as racist, sexist, or homophobic, it invalidates libertarian doctrine. While many libertarians act like idiots and should probably not overreact to collectivist PC victim narratives with foul language, libertarian doctrine is at root a doctrine of anything peaceful—voluntary cooperation, decentralized power, and radical community formation. The heroes of libertarianism (of all races, sexes, and ethnic backgrounds) know that collectivism and Statism are interdependent world views: It takes evoking collectivism and inventing group rights (or wrongs) to justify most State actions, and the State has historically had the power systematically to prop up or tear down people by group.
  30. Who Will Build the Roads?: This familiar duck has a thousand variations, but the idea is that because the opponent has never seen it nor can imagine it being done without the State, it follows that it can’t. But of course, it (roadsaideducation, and the rest of it) can. (See also No. 13.)

I encourage readers to add more to the comments section below.

Note: huge credit to Cole James Gentles, Jeff Ellis, Sarah Skwire, and Zach Spencer for their assistance in compiling these fallacies. Thanks also to Michael Nolan for help in fleshing these out.

Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

Libertarian Holism by Max Borders

[M]y position is not incompatible with urging that we try to extend our sense of “we” to people whom we have previously thought of as “they.” — Richard Rorty on solidarity.

One day, my son Sid and I were looking at the various rocks in his collection. He was about six at the time. I used to get frustrated at that bucket of rocks. He’d put any old rock in there and find a new one practically every day. The collection got heavy.

“We have rocks coming out of our ears,” I said. So I asked him about his collection, pointing out certain rocks to see why he liked them. Each time he would find some little detail—a color, or glint.

“You might not think this one is that great,” he said picking up a plain one, “but look at that peach color.” It really did have a beauty if you looked close enough.

“Alright,” I replied. “But what about this one? It’s boring.”

Then he looked at me and said, “You’re looking the wrong way, Dad. Don’t use your eyes.” He put it into my hand. It was the smoothest stone I’ve ever touched.

Starting Points

My son had taught me something important that day. His fresh look at the world had involved getting me to shed certain assumptions. As with rocks, so it is with people.

Most who read this publication self-identify as a freedom-lovers. If there is anything we have in common, it’s that. But what if we were to ask ourselves why we love freedom?

Some might claim their logic guided them from first principles to a place where they simply found their social-political orientation. This is the case for many in our community. They’ll say they reasoned, starting with some axiom like a principle of non-harm. If we start with non-harm, we can either move to consequences about peaceful states of affairs, or we can simply hang the axiom on some duty to respect people, a sacred and solemn duty of all. Fair enough.

Accepting all this for the sake of conversation, let us also suppose there are people who become freedom-lovers for very different reasons. It might seem to many that the only proper way to arrive at our worldview is via some reasoning process like the above. But let’s suppose there are other ways people come “into the light.”

Perhaps they started out with completely different set of concerns, what we might call personal or emotional values. Such might be a sense of fairness, concern for the poor or oppressed, a sense of possibility and promise, or some other emotional touchpoint. Maybe they learned that, despite what they’ve always been told by various well-intentioned statists, they discovered that our true liberalism—as a system—is the best route to satisfying those values they showed up with, that they all depend in some way on freedom. So, when asked, these freedom-lovers will report something like: “Hey, I used to think I was a rabid progressive, until I learned that international trade and open markets have lifted more human beings out of abject poverty than any other system we’ve ever seen.” Their starting point was a deep desire to lift people out of poverty.

Suppose also there is some other group who arrives through talk of being excellent and/or realizing one’s concept of happiness. These eudaimonaic types sound more like Aristotle than John Stuart Mill, and their emotional values have to do with people realizing their own dreams, or being the best they can be. Such sentiments might attach to religious teachings about divine plans, or they might be freestanding emotions that terminate in the sense that we only get one shot at this life, and that it’s just not cool to let others squander our lives for us for someone else’s righteous cause. After all, we have our own righteous causes. We can find overlaps with others who have the similar causes. We can collaborate. Together or apart, we can pursue our ideas of happiness and the good. And we can become the heroic beings we admire.

There may even be more seemingly bizarre emotional starting points—bizarre, that is, from someone else’s point of view. Buddhist writings lead one to think of the sacredness and interconnection of all life, which prescribes a peaceful orientation towards others. (One can see strands of this in the writings of FEE founder Leonard Read.) Yet another starting point might be that a man falls in love with a freedom-loving woman and simply wants to accommodate her worldview and so eventually adopts it as his own. Remember: These are starting points. It could be that someone reads a Robert Heinlein book (or Ayn Rand, or Tolkein, or the Illuminatus Trilogy) book, finds it resonates emotionally for reasons he can’t explain, and reads more.

Limbictarianism

For many, I’d speculate, the emotional value centers are already there (inborn) and a mentor, a book, or a life-event activates these centers and the person starts to build an intellectual latticework around them. As E. O. Wilson writes of Rawls and Nozick in On Human Nature,

Like everyone else, philosophers measure their personal emotional responses to various alternatives as though consulting a hidden oracle.

That oracle resides in the deep emotional centers of the brain, most probably with the limbic system, a complex array of neurons and hormone-secreting cells located just beneath the “thinking” portion of the cerebral cortex. Human emotional responses and the more general ethical practices based on them have been programmed to a substantial degree by natural selection over thousands of generations.

How’s that for an axiom?

Now, for the sake of discussion, can we safely agree these emotional values can indeed be starting points? I think so. However we might admire the first quarter of Mises’s Human Action, we can pretty safely admit that reading it is not the only starting point. Whether we like it or not, there are multiple entry points, and thus a diverse set of paths from which people can arrive.

Here We Are

Here’s where things get really important: Freedom-lovers want the world to be a freer and better place. Can we also admit that the world would be freer and better if more people were loved freedom? I think so. I hope you do too. If you don’t care whether more freedom-lovers are in the world, you can stop reading now. This is not to insult anyone, it’s simply not useful for you to read on.

Now, accepting that you want more people to be freedom-lovers, the question becomes: Which do you care more about? How people arrive? Or that they arrive at all? If you care only about the former, you might be a one-trick pony. That is, your only approach to persuasion might be to tell people to readHuman Action. And there is nothing wrong with that per se. I’ve suggested Mises to manyBut I also realize that to get people to our picnic, a lot of people might not be willing to take such a long detour through Vienna—and that’s assuming they’re curious about our ideas at all.

That means it may be time to expand outward from single starting points. Your liberalism or mine works great when we can agree on a starting point. But we must first acknowledge that people don’t always start from the same point. In fact, if you believe Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind, that can be quite rare.

“Morality binds and blinds,” writes Haidt. “It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.”

It doesn’t matter if you think that people have inalienable natural rights, or that the consequences of this ruleset or that will be positive, or that dispositions to the classical virtues provide the bases of our worldview. What matters is that those who are listening will come into any contact with you carrying certain ideological baggage. They will be disposed differently. To bring them around to your way of seeing things is to understand them, to empathize with them—at least in part. It requires pulling them into solidarity with you by helping them to reweave their web of beliefs.

Masters of Persuasion

The masters of persuasion are libertarian holists. Holists are fluent in multiple value languages. It’s not easy. Even the most accomplished people might not be fluent across such languages. It doesn’t matter how smart some economics professor is, for example. The breadth and depth of his thinking may be constrained by his specialization or by his starting points. He may be an accomplished scribe in a long tradition of economists, but have only a rudimentary grasp of concepts like virtue, deontology, and rhetoric. Likewise, the philosopher may make great stepwise syllogisms, but he may not have the gift of gab, exude the charm, or shake the brightest feathers that can pull an intellectually curious person into our orbit. True masters of libertarian holism are rare. But they are vital.

Solipsism

I hesitate to introduce yet another dichotomy (thick or thin, brutalist or humanitarian) but I would suggest that the other end of the continuum from the holist is the solipsist. This person is content in the echo chamber, sometimes even being alone with his principles. Solipsists can be valuable stalwarts for movement solidarity, because even though they operate in the echo chamber, they can help hold it together. A healthy libertarian solipsist will remind you in a reasonable way when you might be straying too far from the reservation. And they are good at finding other proto-solipsists, i.e. those who share their particular starting points. But an unhealthy solipsist is strident, rabid, axiom-obsessed, dogmatic or linear. Many are simply enamored with the idea of being in an exclusive club.

So, I would argue more of us should either aspire to be libertarian holists, or at the very least respect those who are going about skinning this cat in different ways. Because after a certain point, libertarian solipsism is only good for indulging some adolescent urge to get attention. Anyone who wants to win—to persuade a critical mass of human souls—has to be prepared to diversify, to think across multiple perspectives, and to understand the values of those who start at different points. Those who can do that will rise to the soaring heights of our movement.

Two Forces

It takes a lot more effort to have a conversation across great ideological gulfs than to fire missiles across them. But we have to make the effort. Because there are certain, though perhaps unsettling, human truths we all have to face. First, there are only two forces of social change in this world that matter: persuasion and coercion. One can have all the principles and axioms she likes but the people with the jails, the guns and the jackboots may not care about your principles. Second, those committed to peaceful means of social change have only persuasion at their disposal. So if we think using violence is wrong, we’d better become master persuaders—libertarian holists—willing to stare through other lenses and find a way to connect with their values before the people with the guns, jails and jackboots do.

With all this, libertarian solipsists may accuse me of being a relativist. But those who do will be missing the point. We are only effective to the degree we can grow our ranks, lock our arms and build our free world in parallel with the crumbling power hierarchies of the twentieth century.

Being a holist is about searching for all the reasons people ought to love freedom, celebrating them and sharing them. This more complete, multifaceted movement will be more powerful than any state one day. Because the people it comprises will be able to open others’ eyes to subtler colors and smoother surfaces.

Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

EDITORS NOTE: The features image of rocks is provided by FEE and Shutterstock.

Keystone XL: Who benefits? Who loses?

Last Thursday, 20 March, the Washington Post published an amazing article by Juliet Eilperin, their Environment reporter, claiming the Koch brothers are the major owners of Canadian “tar sands” – the source of oil to be shipped through the Keystone XL . Specifically the article said:

“The biggest leaseholder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.”

In doing so, Eilperin and the Post relied on a recently issued report from a far-left outfit called the International Forum on Globalization (IFG).

Ms. Eilperin is a longtime advocate of action to save the earth from “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (CAGW), the old name before it became “climate change” or “carbon pollution.” It is not terribly surprising that Eilperin opposes the pipeline, whoever is invested in it. The surprise is that Eilperin rushed so quickly and gullibly into an obvious hoax.

The recent IFG report is a supplement to one issued in October, 2013, which became a laughingstock when John Hinderaker of Powerline blog tore it apart, noting that even IFG admits Keystone XL would provide competition for Koch oil sales in the American Midwest, costing them about $120 billion. In addition, Koch Industries has never lobbied for the Keystone XL. Also, one does not just drive up to a Keystone XL terminal – assuming one ever exists – and pour in a truckload of oil. A would-be user has to pay, in advance, for a quota of oil to be shipped, an allowance of a portion to be used (of a total 830,000 bbl/day). Koch Industries hasn’t bought a quota. Needless to say, Hinderaker had a lot of fun ripping the WaPo and Eilperin.

A wise journalist – or, at least, an honest one – would have issued a retraction and an apology to the readers. Eilperin and the Post have done neither. Nor has the Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, the man who issues “Pinocchio” awards to liars, said anything about the article.

pinocchio_4

Pinocchios courtesy of the Washington Post.

This lie ought to get Eilperin four pinocchios.

So, what did Eilperin offer in response? She said:

The Powerline article itself, and its tone, is strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year. That’s why we wrote the piece.

Oh. The fact that someone – not even Koch Industries – tried to rebut a complete lie is justification for printing the lie in the first place – since it “stirs and inflames public debate.”

But wait, as the TV salesmen say, there’s more.

Juliet Eilperin is married to Andrew Light, who formulates environmental policy for John Podesta’s Center for American Progress (CAP). Light is also a member of the Obama Administration, as a Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy on Climate Change in the State Department. As you remember, Climate Change is the most important issue facing the world – according to the Secretary of State, John “A Child Could Understand This” Kerry. Today President Obama is in Europe, discussing with NATO and the leaders of the European Union, what we can do to blunt the Russian control of the EU energy supply.

As you probably remember, John Podesta was recently made a “special advisor” to Obama – and specifically to advise on climate for the guy who once promised to make your electricity costs “skyrocket.” Mr. Podesta strongly and unequivocally opposes the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. He wants more study – as has been done for Keystone XL pipeline, for five years.

Who benefits if the Keystone pipeline goes ahead? Millions of Americans who will see gasoline prices decrease. Millions of Canadians who will see taxes flow into their national treasury. Thousands of Americans and Canadian workers. American energy independence, a priority since the 1970’s. Certainly not Koch Industries.

Who benefits if Keystone is not approved?

Tom Steyer, hedge fund billionaire and major Democratic Party contributor. Steyer is offering $100 million to Democrats in 2014 who oppose Keystone. Prior to the Democratic Senators’ talkathon, the leaders visited Steyer’s home in New York. Does anyone believe Mr. Steyer cares for the environment and global warming $100 million worth?

The feature image is a picture of Brad Johnson, a staff writer for Podesta’s Center for American Progress, admonishing the Washington Post against telling lies – when the Post dared print a column by Charles Krauthammer that suggested climate science is not “settled science.”

The American Physical Society (APS) recently appointed a panel of members, including three prominent sceptics, to review its previous endorsement of global warming as a matter of concern. Sounds pretty unsettled. I don’t often agree with Johnson or the rest of Podesta’s gang, but I also wish the Washington Post and its environment writer, Eilperin, would stop telling lies.

RELATED STORY: Keystone XL is Proof Obama Opposes U.S. Economic Growth

What Common Core Looks Like In Desperation

It seems that the protests of the American citizen against the so-called Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has become proverbial grains of sand in the works of the mammoth corporate reform machine.

Die-hard supporters of CCSS are becoming desperate, and such is showing in their words and actions.

Consider Jeb Bush’s declaration, “In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self esteem….”

This hard-nosed attitude is supposed to appeal to the American public and advance CCSS?

Jeb is definitely pushing CCSS whether America likes it or not– but he is becoming sloppy in his rhetoric.

He is not alone in his desperate, Save CCSS efforts.

Founder and director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Caroline Roemer-Shirley (sister to our state board of education president) wrote this op/ed for the Baton Rouge Advocate on March 24, 2014.

Not surprisingly, she is pro-CCSS.

Notice the authoritarian desperation in her closing statement:

It’s critically important that all of us — parents, educators, community leaders and businessmen — oppose efforts to derail the Common Core State Standards.

Good public education is the key to success for our children and we must help them get there by all means available. A quality education is one of childhood’s most basic civil rights. Our goal must be to get our children into the top tiers nationally. That means pushing aside anything or anyone standing in the way of their success. [Emphasis added.]

Roemer-Shirley equates CCSS with “a quality education.”

The same day at Roemer-Shirley’s op/ed, education historian Diane Ravitch posted a marvelous piece that unequivocally demonstrates CCSS as not even qualifying as standards given its secretive, controlled, stakeholder-absent creation and declared rigidity:

In the United States, the principles of standard-setting have been clearly spelled out by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  …

[CCSS] were written in a manner that violates the nationally and internationally recognized process for writing standards. The process by which they were created was so fundamentally flawed that these “standards” should have no legitimacy.

Setting national academic standards is not something done in stealth by a small group of people, funded by one source, and imposed by the lure of a federal grant in a time of austerity.

There is a recognized protocol for writing standards, and the Common Core standards failed to comply with that protocol. [Emphasis added and some text order reversed.]

Monday, March 24, 2014, also gave us blogger Peter Greene’s fine post on the purpose of CCSS to tag student data down to the very classroom assignment. 

Roemer-Shirley does not care for protocol that honors the democratic process, and she does not care about the invasive, science-fiction nature of CCSS data tagging. Instead, she is willing to “push aside anyone standing in the way of their (let’s be real, folks– she doesn’t mean students’) success.”

Hmm.

The creepy-desperate CCSS push does not stop there. On March 18, 2014, both national union presidents met with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO– one of the two CCSS copyright holders), with in attendance all desiring to save CCSS.

It seems that AFT members can expect their national president to cling to CCSS no matter what her constituency thinks:

Weingarten added that she expects that many of her members would call for outright opposition to the standards during the AFT’s summer convention, even though both the AFT and NEA support the standards and Weingarten said she wouldn’t back away from the common core[Emphasis added.]

If the AFT membership opposes CCSS “outright,” how is it, then, that “AFT supports the standards”?

Does a declared, “official” position outrank the desires of AFT’s own membership?

Apparently so.

NEA (not the membership, mind you) is right there with AFT in its protection of CCSS:

During the same discussion, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel… said the union remained squarely behind the standards themselves….

What is one to do in order to ensure CCSS support? Why, one must promote a positive CCSS message in the media:

… (South Dakota) Education Secretary Melody Schopp expressed concern that enough wasn’t being done to push more positive common-core stories to the public: “The media’s not hearing that.” [Emphasis added.]

All of this “pushing” so-called reform “to the public.”

Genuine standards are not “pushed.” Genuine standards are elicited.

Nevertheless, in our current, for-profit reform era,  it’s all about the spin. No organization knows that better than Stand for Children (SFC). (I debated SFC Louisiana twice on CCSS– see this link and this link.)

The question is, how far will SFC go in its CCSS-desperation spin?

Well beyond the ethical, it seems.

In their efforts to “push” a positive CCSS message, SFC Oklahoma decided “positive” need not necessarily be honest:

Some names on a petition, from a group hoping to keep Common Core, were faked. The group, Stand for Children Oklahoma, presented a petition to legislators in early March with 7,000 signatures, but many people whose names are on the list said they didn’t sign it.

Sherri Crawford is one of those. She’s adamantly against Common Core. …

When asked if she signed it, she responded, “No, absolutely not.”

Sherri found out her name was on the petition after a group of moms, who oppose common core, got a hold of it and started checking the names. They said they found not only several obviously fake names, like Barack Obama, but more than a thousand they have personally verified didn’t sign it. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, my fellow lovers of the democratic process, we have indeed become grains of sand in the greasy wheels of the pro-CCSS engine.

The very idea makes me smile.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Rennett Stowe. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

What if the Green Movement is not saving the planet but enslaving humanity?

For decades the Green Movement has claimed that Earth is threatened by the activity and even the existence of mankind. Green policies dictate that the noble response is relinquishing our liberties to “save” the planet from peril. Award-winning filmmaker JD King sets off on a cinematic journey to challenge these Green philosophies, and overturn the tables on issues like carbon emissions, climate change, overpopulation, natural resources, and unmasks the UN’s Agenda 21 plan. BLUE casts a bold new vision: that through greater freedom we can realize a fuller potential for our fellow man and this beautiful blue planet we call home.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABCDEFGH[/youtube]

Connect: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bluebeatsgreenTwittter: @BlueBeatsGreen #Blueisbest #BlueWorld Instagram: http://instagram.com/bluebeatsgreen

Official Website: http://www.bluebeatsgreen.com/movie

Featuring: Leighton Steward, Cal Beisner, Robert Zubrin, Lord Monckton, Steven F. Hayward, Mark Baird, Mike McKenna, Joe Voetberg, Michael Shaw, Vishal Mangalwadi, and many more.

Dutch MP Geert Wilders: “To the last gasp of breath, I will always be heard”

March 19th , the Dutch Labor and conservative liberal parties in the ruling coalition of PM Mark Rutte were crushed in municipal elections in The Netherlands.  They were looking for someone to blame for their debacle and seized upon a TV video of Geert Wilders’ election night remarks at a Hague campaign event. He was shown rousing Freedom Party members to address the societal and criminal problems occasioned by Islamization of Dutch Moroccans. The PVV loyalists at a Hague campaign rally were shown saying that country needed to have “fewer, fewer, fewer”,  meaning Moroccans criminals.

That footage went viral pushed by the Dutch media and even  promoted  as race hatred by the Justice Minister who heads the Public Prosecutors Office.  Dutch police were supplied with pre-filled  Wilders compliant forms, prepared to deliver them to the homes of those requested them.  There were even execrable graphic comparison of Wilders innocuous remarks with intercut footage of Hitler and Goebbels.  A few PVV parliamentary delegation members left the party over the relentless criticism of Wilders.

As a result of the kerfuffle raised by the political  losers in the March 19th municipal elections, Wilders answered unapologetically  with a masterful  repudiation of the press, ruling coalition Justice Minister and Labor and liberal Conservative party leaders.

Gates of Vienna (GoV)  put up a post  today of the translation of Wilders’ March 22nd press conference remarks, replete with  his characteristic Churchillian phrasing, “To the last gasp of breath, I will always be heard”:

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, gave an historic speech on March 22, 2014.

He spoke out spontaneously, without a prepared text, before answering media questions. His remarks were prompted by the recent controversy over an incident when his supporters chanted a call for “fewer Moroccans”.

In the following video you’ll notice a poignant parallel the PVV leader’s words: one of his well-trained bodyguards stands behind him, constantly scanning the room in a professional manner, alert to the possibility that one of the thousands of people who want to kill Mr. Wilders may appear on the scene at any moment.

Many thanks to SimonXML for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling.

Watch the YouTube video of Wilders’ press conference:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Qy_yqiXHuRA[/youtube]

We will be publishing a New English Review article about this latest outburst against the truth of Islamization in The Netherlands, “Geert Wilders Once Again Endures a Firestorm of Criticism”.

Note our concluding comments:

To paraphrase England’s Henry II regarding the fate of former boon companion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett, the Dutch political and media establishment might say: “who will rid us of this upstart meddlesome blonde.” We hope that those Dutch folks who went to the polls on March 19th and gave the PVV victories in several smaller municipalities may be joined by others in the majority, who didn’t vote. That might provide the PVV with a victory in the May EU parliamentary elections. We have seen Wilders bounce back from previous episodes like a proverbial cat with nine lives. His Eurosceptic alliance partners, especially Ms. Le Pen in France, would deem that a stunning and well deserved turnabout. Wilders’ opinion poll standing may have temporarily been dented by the outbursts of his left liberal opponents in the Hague Parliament. However, the cogency of his warnings about Islamization of Holland through the Dar al Hijrah stealth Jihad strategy of mass Muslim immigration and the enormous cost to the nation still resonate.

It is left to Bat Ye’or  who gave this closing comment in an email about this hateful episode unfairly targeting Wilders.  In reply to this comment, “It would appear that the world has gone topsy turvy, morally.” she said, “Exactly, and this is called dhimmitude.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Should GOP Conservatives Adjust Their Message for Blacks?

Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote an article stating that the only way for conservatives to reach black voters is to drop their color blind idealism.

Dougherty wrote, “Conservatives in the GOP like to assail identity politics and tout their own ideology as one of color blindness. Sometimes this is stupidly marketed to black voters as a selling point for Republicans. “We don’t categorize you by race,” brags a Republican. The black audience hears: “We don’t take the most salient part of your American political identity seriously.”

I am a real-live black person. When I hear Republicans say “We don’t categorize you by race”, I think, “Thank you for respecting my intelligence enough not to pander to me.” Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, a Republican, dreamed of a day when Americans would focus on principles such as character rather than skin-color (race).

Civil rights leaders and Democrats have abandoned Dr King’s vision of a colorblind America. Especially since Obama, the exploitation of race is the Democrats’ super weapon to win every political battle. Anyone daring to oppose the black president’s socialist/progressive agenda is bombarded with accusations of racism. Checkmate!

Dougherty appears to suggest that we conservatives can not simply stand up for what is right and true. We must adjust our message to fit the Democrats’ false accusations and false assumptions.

For example. Dougherty thinks the GOP should back-off from their push for voter I-D laws because it looks like they are attempting to suppress the black vote. Mr. Dougherty, as a black conservative, I find the concept that blacks are too incompetent to find their way to acquire a photo I-D extremely insulting, demeaning and offensive. Democrats are fighting voter I-D because they seek to steal elections via voter fraud. Will Republicans waving the white flag on this issue win them black votes? I think not.

Dougherty thinks America’s history of racial injustice causes blacks to deal with the issue of race every day. I beg to differ. Neither myself nor my black family, friends and associates deal with racial issues every day.

Despicably, liberals and Democrats strive to make race an issue, polarizing Americans; keeping the fires of racial tensions burning bright for political gain.

I reject Mr Dougherty’s call for conservatives to abandon colorblind politicking. Why must we always allow Democrats and their media buddies to determine the rules of engagement?

We are all Americans and should be dealt with accordingly, rather than doing what the Democrats do; divide Americans into supposed victimized voting blocs and pandering to each group for political exploitation.

In the 1980s, as a young black kid clueless about politics, Ronald Reagan’s one-size-fits-all conservative message of American exceptional-ism spoke to me. Reagan inspired me to be all I could be. His speeches made me feel good about myself and my country.

Admittedly, Conservatism will not resonate with everyone. Some people are born leeches and lazy; always looking for a free ride. These types feel entitled to the fruits of other folk’s labors. Democrats love to pander to them.

But I believe in the character and goodness of a majority of the American people. When presented unfiltered by liberals, conservatism will find a lot of Americans eager to embrace it. Why? Because Conservatism is in-sync with the human spirit.

Please understand. Packaging the conservative message to appeal to various audiences is an excellent idea. However, watering down our principles or choosing not to challenge the Democrats’ false narratives is foolish and wrong.

Certain principles have a universal appeal. Such principles bridge racial divides.

In the 1970s, I was a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. My fellow black students at the mostly white college were extremely militant and anti-whitey. A group of them demanded that the Black Panthers be allowed to rally on campus.

I was stunned when these same black students approached me extremely excited about this awesome movie, “Rocky”, the Italian stallion. It was remarkable to witness these particular black students so passionately embracing a white boy. The magic ingredient was the “colorblind” principles espoused in that movie which spoke to the humanity in us all.

Mr Dougherty, I respectfully disagree with your article. As an American who happens to be black, I do not desire a “black version” of Conservatism which is rooted in true compassion and common sense.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo montage was created by Soldieranabi. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Charlie Crist Says Obamacare Is “Great” For Floridians

Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, has given a full throated endorsement of the failed Obamacare law. While appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning TV Show, Crist said that the law was “Great” for Floridians, even after it has been reported that 300,000 Floridians have already lost their insurance plans, as a result of this “Great” healthcare law. Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get To Work” Campaign was quick to pounce on Crist’s Obamacare claim with following video hit:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ZstMy-wu_yw[/youtube]

EDITORS NOTE: This video originally appeared on the Shark Tank.

“There’s a Bear in the Woods”: Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign ad revisited

ronald reaganIt is ironic that is was just thirty-years ago that a political ad was run by President Ronald Reagan titled “There’s a Bear in the Woods”. Today we are seeing that bear reemerge from the woods. The bear is hungry for territory where it may prey on the weak, feed vociferously and expand its influence. That bear then was named the Soviet Union. That bear today is named Russia.

Russian influence in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South America is on the rise. Since 1984 Russia has invaded: Afghanistan, Georgia, Crimea and is on Ukraine’s door step. We are facing a new “Red Dawn”.

This is the same bear, same ideology, with the same goals but a different face that Reagan’s ad was speaking to.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/NpwdcmjBgNA[/youtube]

There have been many comparisons made between President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin. Pundits miss what is really the focus of each leader. Putin has a global view, while Obama has a local view. By that I mean Putin thinks and acts globally with Russian sovereignty first and foremost in his mind. Putin acts in the best interests of Russia, to protect its borders, expand its power and become a world leader using military force.

President Obama is focused domestically. His social programs, domestic policies and political power are totally aimed like a laser on government expansion internally. Obama is adept at community organizing. Foreign policy, expanding American influence globally is not his forte. Military force is not in President Obama’s lexicon of options. He may say it is, but actions (like Putin’s) speak much louder than words.

Now that the bear has come out of the woods, who will stop him? That is the question.

John Greer lists this ad in his Attack Ad Hall of Fame. Greer writes:

The Reagan campaign aired the ad. “There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all.” The script goes on to say that we need to be as strong as the bear and that we should not risk being unprepared. Who is the bear? The Soviet Union? Probably, but since it’s not clear, some argue that the spot is not negative. It’s an interesting ad and one that probably was run because of Reagan’s huge lead over Mondale. It’s subtle meaning just makes it not very informative.

RELATED STORY: A Ukraine divide: Congress, world leaders debate how to counter Russia

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by John Cummings. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Dial “D” for Murder: Democrat controlled U.S. cities as bad as deadliest 3rd World countries

In 2013 World Net Daily reported, “Those pushing President Obama’s gun-control agenda often portray the United States as one of the murder hot spots of the world, but the numbers tell a different story. Even more revealing, gun murders in the U.S. are concentrated in big cities that typically have the strictest gun-control regulations. And it is those cities’ gun murder rates that are comparable to the rates in some of the deadliest countries in the world.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/g_D2DFY3_5A[/youtube]

Richard Florida from The Atlantic reported, “A number of U.S. cities have gun homicide rates in line with the most deadly nations in the world.”

  • If it were a country, New Orleans (with a rate 62.1 gun murders per 100,000 people) would rank second in the world.
  • Detroit’s gun homicide rate (35.9) is just a bit less than El Salvador (39.9).
  • Baltimore’s rate (29.7) is not too far off that of Guatemala (34.8).
  • Gun murder in Newark (25.4) and Miami (23.7) is comparable to Colombia (27.1).
  • Washington D.C. (19) has a higher rate of gun homicide than Brazil (18.1).
  • Atlanta’s rate (17.2) is about the same as South Africa (17).
  • Cleveland (17.4) has a higher rate than the Dominican Republic (16.3).
  • Gun murder in Buffalo (16.5) is similar to Panama (16.2).
  • Houston’s rate (12.9) is slightly higher than Ecuador’s (12.7).
  • Gun homicide in Chicago (11.6) is similar to Guyana (11.5).
  • Phoenix’s rate (10.6) is slightly higher than Mexico (10).
  • Los Angeles (9.2) is comparable to the Philippines (8.9).
  • Boston rate (6.2) is higher than Nicaragua (5.9).
  • New York, where gun murders have declined to just four per 100,000, is still higher than Argentina (3).
  • Even the cities with the lowest homicide rates by American standards, like San Jose and Austin, compare to Albania and Cambodia respectively.

“Yes, it’s true we are comparing American cities to nations. But most of these countries here have relatively small populations, in many cases comparable to large U.S. metros,” notes Florida.