Saturday, March 21, 2009

then we turned eighteen
could be killed in a war but
not legally drink
[Written on 9/24/08]

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"One From the Vault" Dept.
(On Presidential Legacies)

[Prefatory Note: This was drafted on August 14, 2008 but for some reason it was never published. Having just re-discovered it when perusing various unpublished drafts and seeing as the principles underlying what I say in it are applicable to a variety of circumstances, I post it at this time. -ISM]

He is not even out of office yet...

The Bush legacy cannot be fairly judged when the person in question is still in office. It takes time and distance to attain a proper historical perspective. For example, in 1952 Harry Truman was viewed by most people in the same light as Bush is now. But now Truman is considered one of the best presidents of the twentieth century.

Then there is the "tax cuts for the rich" crap which others have commented on which tells me the unmentioned side of the story: these "historians" have agendas to push and cannot allow themselves to approach matters with even a pretense of objectivity.

I predict Bush will look a little bit better to posterity than Clinton for a variety of reasons but neither of them will be considered a great president. And neither of them was or is as completely incompetent as Jimmy Carter was. Apparently these "historians" to the tune of 98% have forgotten about the peanut farmer which tells us all we need to know about the integrity of their presumed "poll" on this matter.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

"One From the Vault" Dept.
(On "Global Warming")

I intended to post this last year but for some reason it was not tended to; ergo it seems fitting at this time to do so considering all the cold weather we have been seeing -particularly at "global warming" rallies.

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved (Telegraph/UK)

Of course this writer has never subscribed to this hysteria and written on the absurdity of this matter on its face not a few times over the years.{1} It is nothing more than another of the many masks of marxism{2} which the latter uses to try and advance covertly as opposed to overtly as all deceitful agendas noxious to basic human sensibilities must be if they are to have the greatest chance at success. Throw in the multitude of people who react emotionally rather than rationally to the myriad of issues under which the marxists hitch their wagon to{3} and it only complicates matters further. But as the writer of the Telegraph article noted, 2008 was the year that history will show the fallacy of "man-made global warming" from both a climate standpoint as well as that of the so-called "scientific consensus"{4} was likewise disproved.


{1} To note a few offhand:

On the Fraud of "Global Warming" With Greg Mockeridge and Kevin Tierney (circa April 13, 2006)

[I]ndeed readers of this weblog know that we pronounced on the global warming matter some time ago[...] but it does not hurt to remind readers of this considering the magnitude of the confidence trick many are attempting to pull with the so-called "global warming" schtick. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 29, 2007)]

On the subject of the environment, McCain gets a B. If not for his stance on global warming which is (at best) an unproven hypothesis, he would get an A. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa April 26, 2008)]

{2} Again to note a few posts from the archives on the matter at hand:

Points to Ponder on the Many Masks of Marxism (circa July 3, 2005)

More on Marxists and Their Many Masks (circa July 8, 2005)

On Marxists and Their Methodology (circa July 22, 2006)

{3} Points to Ponder on the Many Masks of Marxism (circa July 3, 2005)

{4} Those who appeal to consensus of anybody are obligated under the rubrics of logic and reason as well as ethics to approach these matters utilizing a proper as opposed to an improper appeal to authority. I go over the latter distinction many times at my weblog -here are two from the archives that come to mind offhand:

"Argumentation Fallacy" Dept. (circa August 27, 2004)

On Proper and Improper Approaches to Argumentation (circa May 14, 2005)

On the Appeal to Authority and Distinguishing Between Valid and Fallacious Appeals Thereof (circa March 8, 2007)

More on the Appeal to Authority and Distinguishing Between Valid and Fallacious Appeals Thereof--Dialogue With Jonathan Prejean (circa March 24, 2007)

The thread from 2005 is a reworking of the one from 2004 which redacts the text down to basically the most elemental facets of the subject being covered in the latter thread. The dialogual one with Jonathan Prejean was interacting with his comments and criticisms of the thread from March 8, 2007 originally posted in another medium subsequent to being posted to this weblog.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The White House Misfires on Limbaugh (Karl Rove)

Conservatives need to wise up to what the Obama Administration is doing -they are trying to use Rush Limbaugh as not only a diversionary tactic but also to give a personal face to the opposition. Or as President Obama's ideological mentor{1} put it in his "rules for radicals":

The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

The rationale for this was as follows:

In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and "frozen." By this I mean that in a complex, interrelated, urban society, it becomes increasingly difficult to single out who is to blame for any particular evil. There is a constant, and somewhat legitimate, passing of the buck....

It should be borne in mind that the target is always trying to shift responsibility to get out of being the target....

One of the criteria in picking your target is the target's vulnerability--where do you have the power to start? Furthermore, the target can always say, "Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?" When you "freeze the target," you disregard these arguments and, for the moment, all others to blame.

Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all of the "others" come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target.

The other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract...

Conservatives need to wise up on this and fast and that includes using the tactics of the Obama Administration{2} against them by making President Obama the personification of what they are opposing. This also falls into the rules of President Obama's mentor who stated the following as "rule four:"

The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.

When General Erwin "Desert Fox" Rommel wrote his treatise on tank warfare strategies, it was studied by many students of that craft including a young Colonel by the name of George S. Patton Jr. Later on, as a general in his own right, General George S. Patton was able to defeat "The Desert Fox" in battle and according to legend screamed "I read your book!!!" In like manner, conservatives would be wise to familiarize themselves with the book of tactics followed by those of the same school of "community organizing" as President Barack Obama and the rest of his Chi-Town amigos{3} to have the best odds of beating Obama at his own game as Patton beat Rommel.


{1} President Barack Obama's Mentor on Mass Organizing Tactics (circa March 14, 2009)

{2} See footnote one.

{3} To the extent this can be done morally and ethically of course: books dedicated "to Lucifer the first radical" need to be taken with a grain of salt and not have any of their prescriptions applied indiscriminately.

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Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!
[Emily Dickinson]


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MSNBC Cooks the Books on Their Obama Poll:

[Prefatory Note: This was written in another medium on March 14, 2009. -ISM]

If we need any proof, look at the other day when they had 51% A, 13odd% voting B, and 7odd% voting C. That totaled 71% at a time when Rasmussen{1} had Obama at about 55% approval which is a difference of about 16% if we presume that anyone giving Obama a grade higher than D has some degree of approval of his performance thus far. So I suppose if MSNBC were to admit that their poll had a "margin of error" of "+/- 16%"{2} then there would be no problem...though it would basically make the poll useless. Of course that polls are even newsworthy shows you just how much "fark" passes for news these days but I digress...


{1} The most reliable pollster the past two elections and one of the few that uses only "likely voters" which is the true measure of these things, not the opinions of those who have no likelihood of voting.

{2} Even if we went at the highest poll in the RCP batch of polling (62%) there would still be a +/- 9% difference. I went with Rasmussen despite not being either the highest or the lowest because for the reasons noted in footnote one.

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On the Problem With Conservatives Dabbling in So-Called "Conspiracy Theories":
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum}

I have seen over the years time and again something that has long compelled me to cover the subject of conspiracy theories. And a few recent circumstances I have been privy to have finally pushed this point to one of critical mass and I do not feel I can go without saying something on the matter at this time however brief it may be so that is the purpose of what you are reading at this time.

To start with, I have long realized when you get any group of conservatives together there are always going to be some who put forth the idea of a grand overarching conspiracy to explain all of the problems they see. For I approach these matters as someone who had my own affiliation with the cult of the conspiracy theorist. The affiliation was not long (a few years) but it certainly influenced my views on not a few matters particularly after I intellectually worked my way through it, routed it as a viable theory and cast it aside as logically and rationally specious (to put it nicely). And I want to provide in this note a schemata of sorts for others to similarly navigate these issues without being led down the myriad of blind alleys that such approaches inevitably entail.

In stating that, I want to explain some of the building blocks of rational thought because society today suffers because of those who are unfamiliar with such things. I define three steps to establish a theory. One reason I have a problem with the term "conspiracy theorist" should be evident after I explain those steps if you will. The first point of contact with rational thought is deciding upon a thesis which I have defined{1} as follows:

Thesis: An abstract principle or proposition to be advanced and maintained by argument.

A thesis is essentially a position that you assert before it has been substantiated by argument. Those who make statements for or against a position essentially are both on the same playing field. That takes us to the realm of the hypothesis. The latter can be defined{2} as follows:

Hypothesis: An explanation of a subject, circumstance, or event which is advanced on tentative grounds by a proposed thesis or series of theses and is open to further examination or being potentially disproved before it reaches the stature of a viable theory.

I define it that way because not all hypotheses are equal in merit. A hypothesis by this understanding is a thesis or a coordinative series of theses which are set forth in explanatory form for examination and testing, and for potential flaws which could invalidate it. Among the potential flaws are errors of fact, errors in logic, and formal contradiction. If a hypothesis withstands this kind of scrutiny and remains intact, it can validly be considered a theory. And as one of my early intellectual mentors Mike Mentzer used to like to define the latter term{3}:

Theory: a set of non-contradictory abstract ideas (or as philosophers like to call them, principles) which purports to give either a correct description of reality or a guideline for successful action.

A theory in other words is a solid point of reference and is not to be dismissed as a mere whim. This is where I have a problem with the "conspiracy theory" phrasing because definitions are the tools of thought. Therefore, to utilize logic and reason efficaciously the terms we use have to be given precise or at least workable definitions if we are to give as accurate a description as we can. So conspiracy theorists should be called "conspiracy hypothesizers" to be properly classified. Then when we look at how many internal contradictions these people have entertained over the decades -not to mention how many predictions they have made that have not come true- this shows us the true worth of their worldview.

Getting back to where I said I "worked my way through it", etc. I am not saying that I solved every previous puzzle involved in the conspiracy hypothesizing mindset of course. However, by identifying the root causes or foundational presuppositions that guided that particular world view, I was able in applying them to so many of the positions taken by the conspiracy sorts to see the viability of the overarching purported theory itself melt away like ice cream on a hot July day. Hence, when I set that outlook aside definitively, I basically imposed a kind of self-agnosticism on the areas I had not yet solved because I had realized that the outlook was not tenable rationally. Over time and with greater research and reflection on a host of issues, most of them have resolved themselves without the need for active intellectual involvement on my part. (And on occasion in responding to conspiracy-hypothesizing sorts on issues I once set aside in this fashion, I was able to intellectually overcome them when revisiting said matters anew.) The very few that remain will likely go by the wayside in the same fashion as most of the others; ergo I see no reason to alter my approach to them taken lo these past twelve odd years.

But noting these things, it may help to consider why people latch onto these things as they do. For one thing, the world is a very complex place. And people who face the whirlwind of complex factors and do not understand them often will look for anything they can find to help them make sense of it all.{4} And one thing that conspiracy hypothesizers do is give what they purport to be a correct description of reality. And because it all fits together apparently so nice and neat, their approach is a seductive one. However, any hypothesis is only as good as the arguments that sustain it and in science a hypothesis that cannot sustain itself when subjected to testing is cast aside as unviable.

The core problem with conspiracy hypothesizers is they do not admit of anything that can serve as an invalidation of their view. They often misuse sources they cite{5} and even go as far as to entertain mutually contradictory positions without realizing that in doing so they have made any attempts to apply logic to the matter inoperable. This is the same mindset that blames in true xenophobic fashion all perceived "outsiders" as being the source of any and all "evils" -can anyone say Jewish blood libel trials of the Middle Ages??? How about blaming everything from the assassination of Lincoln and Kennedy to any calamity of the past four hundred years to the "Papists", the "Jews", the "Masons", or the "Jesuits"??? More could be noted but the bottom line is this: it is always easier to comfort oneself in dealing with issues that have a befuddling complexity to them by having recourse to simplistic "explanations" and then ignoring or refusing to come to grips with the problems of reason and logic (not to mention fact) that such "explanations" may have.

I do not in saying these things deny that there are conspiracies out there or people who conspire with others. Nor would I claim that there are not members of various groups past (or present) often considered to be Borg-like in their machinations for some kind of global governance who do not have an outlook that is what would be called "globalist" in many respects. The fallacy is the claim that all members have the same views which is its own form of stereotyping.

The charm of these various hypotheses is that they purport to give a simplistic explanation for much more complex geopolitical strata. But hopefully what is outlined in this note makes it clear that there are significant problems with this kind of outlook as a rule and taken to too much of an extent. I furthermore hope that this short note of musings adequately explains why those who would claim to respect reason and logic as valuable tools for ascertaining reality should think long and hard before either espousing such views themselves or giving any kind of endorsement to others who would.


{1} Defining the Term "Thesis" -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Post (circa January 14, 2004)

{2} A Workable Definition of "Hypothesis" -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Post (circa August 21, 2006)

{3} Defining the Term "Theory" -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Post (circa January 14, 2004)

{4} They are also big on playing the provincialism card and blaming ills on various groups of people (i.e. Jews, Masons, Catholics, International Bankers, etc) which is a classic tactic of a cult: try to scare those "inside" of others who are "outside" all the better to practice mind control over them but I digress.

{5} One that is often misrepresented to no small degree (to put it nicely) is the work of the late Professor of Georgetown Carroll Quigley whose tome Tragedy and Hope is treated as practically Sacred Scripture by conspiracy hypothesizers. I happen to have perused this book myself in years past and to say that it has been misappropriated or that only part of Quigley's views (and a very small part) have been accurately represented by those who attempt to cite him as an "ally" for various conspiracy hypotheses would not be inaccurate.

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