Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/04/2011 (11:03 am)

The Assumption of Governmental Holiness

A Christian friend on an Internet-based public discussion board made the following statement in passing. It illustrates a very common, modern mindset that needs very badly to be addressed.

The history since Christ’s first advent shows that many nations of the world have moved closer to what seems to be a Christian ethic while others still remain behind and the world, represented by the UN, judges the nations accordingly.

The partial truth of this masks a less obvious but far more dangerous error. I’ll call the error the “Assumption of Governmental Holiness.” Modern thought is trending in the direction of this error, and it may be the death of many of us.

I saw the same error in a different form on a blog by a very effective writer named Seth Godin. His blog article discussed the unethical representation of sunblock in modern advertising, observing that 95% of the harmful solar rays are not affected at all by the SPF level of these products. (They do, however, prevent painful sunburn, for which reason they’re still useful products.) After explaining, he piously declared this:

How can consumers look at this example and not believe that the regulation of marketing claims is the only way to insulate consumers from short-term selfish marketers in search of market share, marketers who will shade the truth, even if it kills some customers?

Meet the Assumption of Governmental Holiness. Seth somehow misses the fact, discussed openly in his own blog post, that both sunblock and advertising are already regulated. Worse: he actually states the reason, unwittingly, why regulation cannot work:

New regulations were recently announced, though it’s not surprising that many think the regs were watered down as a result of lobbying.

The truth is, millions, and possibly billions, of dollars have been wasted on regulation that had no impact, and millions more have been wasted on lobbying to ensure that that’s the case. But lobbying only works when the government is involved. Lobbying did not prevent me from learning about the scam. I learned about it by reading Seth’s blog. Seth’s freely-provided blog did more to protect me from being scammed than any regulation, or a billion regulations, ever could.

That, Seth Godin, is how a consumer can look at this example and not believe that regulation is the only answer.

How did Seth miss the answer? Somewhere in his unexamined assumptions is this one, utterly false notion:

The government represents pure good, or at the very least represents the best we have to offer.

No other presupposition could lead logically from “false advertising happens” to “regulation is the only answer.” But the error is obvious when we drag it out into the open. The government does not represent our best; it represents political power brokers, people who want control. We’re closer to the truth if we presuppose their corruption. They can only represent our best if they are tightly, closely monitored by ourselves, and if their power to control is severely limited. The less we count on government to enforce decency, and the more we count on ourselves directly to do it, the better.

Moreover, Seth’s blog demonstrates that while regulation does not work, there is something that does. The proper corrective to “false advertising happens” is “somebody needs to broadcast the truth.”

With that in mind, let’s revisit the quotation that introduced this thread, and see where the Assumption of Governmental Holiness leads us wrong.

Separate the statement into two parts. Part I:

…many nations of the world have moved close to … a Christian ethic while others remain behind…

This is partly true. The historically Christian nations of the West have had an enormous influence on both conduct and productivity throughout the world, and some of that influence comes from a godly source. There was no notion of individual rights, for example, before the Christian West produced it. The notion that one human being ought not to traffic in the flesh of another is another example. The near-universal disapproval of child labor is a third.

Do not make the mistake, however, of assuming that because a notion has its origin in Christ, that every modern mention of that notion is equally Christian. Take individual rights, for example. In ordinary, human, pendulum fashion, many wicked humans abandoned the old way of domination based on heredity or station, and swung way past Christ’s standard into a sort of egalitarian hell in which every evil thing is allowed and no moral absolutes are acknowledged. They’ve even gone farther than that, using individual rights to ennoble and venerate women leaving their families to pursue “dreams,” and women murdering their children to protect “their rights.” These are just two of a myriad of ways that the godly idea of individual rights has been made extremely unholy. The other godly notions that Christ introduced to the world have not fared better, and have been likewise distorted and overshot.

Wherein lies the error of the Part II of the sentence we’re analyzing:

…the world, represented by the UN, judges the nations accordingly.

Even if it were the case that the UN actually represents the world — it does not — the real, egregious error here is the unstated but controlling supposition that the UN represents the Christian ethic he mentioned in the first part of the sentence, and not the backwardness. He makes the Assumption of Governmental Holiness. The UN has no Christian sanction. Even if the current enactment of the UN were the ideal, it would represent only the current position of the error pendulum.

Worse, the current UN does not come within 3 light years of enacting that ideal, nor can it. It does not represent good; it does not even represent the best of humanity. The UN represents the interests of the corrupt power-brokers who have usurped the power of leadership in their nations.

As such, the UN represents, not the Christ-influenced progress of the world, but the fulfillment of the rebellion Nimrod began way back at Babel, and which the Psalmist describes in opposition to God’s Messiah:

1 “Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.

To assert, without stating it or even really thinking it clearly, that the UN represents the Christianized ethics of the world, is as wrong as wrong can be, and arguably endorses antichrist.

We need also to understand that the Assumption of Governmental Holiness, itself, arises from an even more insidious assumption: the Assumption of Personal Godhood. Ultimately, those who assert the holiness of the government invariably do so by assuming that the government represents ME. The deeper, more evil assertion is that the individual knows what is good for others so well that he or she has earned the right to control their decisions.

We may make ourselves unwelcome, but the Assumption of Governmental Holiness is the central error of the current era, and we need to confront it and dispute it whenever we hear it. But beware the even deeper Assumption of Personal Godhood that is always lurking nearby. And that one actually has a formal name: meet the sin of Pride.

06/30/2011 (10:43 am)

In the Wake of an Incoherent Press Conference…

The content of President Obama’s (I still cringe when I type that) opening statement in his press conference yesterday said two things in his usual, indirect and disingenuous manner:

  1. The bad economy is Congressional Republicans’ fault, not mine;
  2. We have to raise taxes on those awful, awful rich people, and those awful, awful oil companies, or the deficits will go on forever.

About the first, Obama’s infantile blame-shifting has long since ceased to surprise. The man has no idea how to improve things, all he knows how to do is blame other people. This is what we get when we elect to the highest executive office of the land an emotional infant who has never done anything other than stir up discontent in others. If he’s the best Democrats have to offer, the party should cease to exist. Obama is an embarrassment.

And no, I don’t mean like GWB was an embarrassment; he was an adult, and knew how to lead. The “incompetence” meme was just partisan noise from people who preferred different policy. I mean a real embarrassment; as in “shamefully exposing what passes for adulthood in the United States these days.”

About the second — raising taxes — I will say simply this:

Revenues to the federal government in 2010 were roughly $2.2 trillion. Stop there, and absorb it. That’s 2,200 billions of dollars. That’s more than 2 million millions. That’s more money than many world economies will ever produce, no matter how many years one measures. That’s how much money the US federal government can spend in one year without having to borrow.

If $2.2 trillion is not enough money with which to govern a nation the size of the United States, then we deserve to collapse.

The answer to anyone who whines that we need more revenue in order to balance the budget must be “Are you kidding?” The answer to anybody who cannot accept that as the final answer should be to be ushered out of government immediately and never allowed to return. If $2 trillion is not enough to run a government for a year, no sum will be enough.

No more revenue increases. Not now. Not ever. Enough.

Obama’s incessant theme of “let’s heap our hatred on the wealthy and ‘powerful’” deserves a separate post, and will get it eventually. Suffice to say here, it’s a deliberate misdirection, and it’s evil. The wealthy and the oil companies did not produce our fiscal nightmare, and fomenting vicious and irrational hatred toward them will not get us out of it.

06/27/2011 (2:26 pm)

Posing As Christians

A member in a private, Christian facebook group recently had to be asked to leave because (s)he was touting an agenda in the group and would not let it rest. A stir arose when somebody suggested that perhaps (s)he was a deliberate plant from an activist group.

It turned out that (s)he was not, but in response to that possibility one of the members of the group posted this fascinating testimony, which I submit for your instruction today, edited to hide the identity of the author:

Posing as Christians

Some members have alluded to the notion that people might infiltrate [Christian] groups with the intention of furthering their agenda. While this may sound a bit conspiratorial, I want to acknowledge that it is true, that it is very common, and that I have been paid to do this– in the past, that is; not now.

Before I was saved, I worked for [organization's name redacted to protect the identity of the author.] I worked as a writer and as a(n) [official title redacted]. I routinely assumed false identities in order to introduce some radical agenda to a group. Staff writers had accounts at all the major newspapers’ sites and at various blogs and forums. We would pose as members of the “group” to legitimize our authority. I would pretend to be black, pretend to be a woman, pretend to be an immigrant, or pretend to be a Christian–whatever suited the cause.

My wife, formerly a [topic redacted] activist, did the same thing.

My point is, it’s not just “trolls” who do this sort of thing: it’s a concerted effort made by multi-million dollar a year organizations. They particularly want to infiltrate “conservative” groups and slowly introduce their agenda. The more people who profess to be Christians and, for instance, advocate for “gay rights”, the more tolerable the stance becomes. The position gravitates from “unthinkable heresy” to “well, we disagree, but we’re still brothers in Christ” to “acceptance”. It really is that simple, and frankly it works. We need to be cautious of this, and we really need to consider the motives of people introducing foreign ideas, as well as the impact merely tolerating those ideas will have on the future of our group. “Tolerance” is what they rely on.

My $0.02, from someone who’s been on the other side.

We all knew that they were there. Enough of them have been exposed for us to realize that there exists a concerted effort to deceive. But it is useful occasionally to revisit the evidence that we are not imagining this; the effort is real, and the damage is real.

This is why there is no point in dialogue with Progressives as Progressives. They do not believe the laws of decent behavior apply to them. They will lie without compunction to take you in. They will pretend to be interested in dialogue, but they are not. What they are interested in is winning by getting you to treat them politely. You will give ground; they will not. So long as the politeness continues, the culture will move in their direction.

The culture will never move back in the other direction until you identify them for who they are, call them the liars that they are, and take a firm stand on what you know to be the truth. Progressives must be confronted and called out.

Private, personal relationships are a different matter. There is no way to win them to Christ without engaging them personally. However, one must not let them use the relationship as a springboard into activism.

06/23/2011 (8:40 am)

Righteous Indignation

What follows is 33 minutes plus change of crucial cultural history. This is an interview of Andrew Breitbart, founder of Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, Big Peace, Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv, and (I didn’t know this) co-founder of Huffington Post. Conducted by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute, it features Breitbart’s new book, Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!

Breitbart understands the times. More than anybody, his organizations constitute front-line battalions in the ongoing American civil war, a war for the soul of America being fought through public communications media. Breitbart is one who clearly recognizes that we are at war, and correspondingly confronts Progressivism with the truth at every opportunity.

I recommend this interview as a half-hour well spent. Enjoy.

Now, if only we can get somebody to construct Big Education, to take on the monopoly that Progressives hold over the education of America’s children…

Hat tip for this content goes to Power Line Blog, that long-tenured gem of thoughtful conservatism featuring Scott Johnson, John Hinderaker, and now Steven Hayward (Paul Mirengoff left in January of this year after his employer complained about a politically-incorrect post.) I hope you’re still reading them, they’re still among the best.

06/08/2011 (12:28 pm)

Hypocrisy: a Checklist

Hi, all. I’m not blogging much these days, but I came across this pithy listing of some of the more hypocritical positions taken by Democrats, and thought it was worth preserving. All of us who think about issues from the conservative side notice these instances of sheer, indefensible hypocrisy from the left — it’s practically the hallmark of their movement — but have become so used to them, because there are so many and they come so regularly, that we tend to forget. Consequently, it’s useful to list them from time to time, to remember who it is that we’re dealing with.

The list came as a comment by a reader who calls himself Voltaire on National Review’s The Corner in response to an article about why Rep. Weiner’s unseemly Twitter behavior matters. Simply put, Weiner is the face of the new Democratic party: smug, aggressive, petulant, bullying, making the surface appearance of moral rectitude and intellectual precision. Underneath, he is a sewer, and unable even to control his own life. This is the evil we confront in the United States: fools who genuinely believe they should control our lives, but can’t even control their own.

Take it away, Voltaire:

OK, let’s deal with the idiotic “…but you hypocrites on the right.”

You want hypocrisy? Fine, try this for size:

1 – Five years ago: Guantanamo was the biggest stain in our national conscience, and had to be closed. Now: Guantanamo? What Guantanamo?

2 – Five years ago: The Patriot Act was the worst usurpation of power by an out-of-control administration, and the frightening ushering of an Orwellian society. Now: Hey, pass me that cool remote pen so I can sign an extension of the Patriot Act from overseas.

3 – Five years ago: 5% unemployment and $2 a gallon gasoline were the proof that the incompetent Bush administration had gotten us in “the worst recession after the great depression.” Now: 9.1% unemployment and $4 a gallon gasoline… trust us, we know what we are doing.

4 – Five years ago: Cindy Sheehan was paraded on every major news show as the conscience of an America that had been dragged into imperialistic conflicts by a war criminal masquerading as a President. Now: Cindy who?

5 – Five years ago: The Iraq war was the worst power grab by a President who bypassed congress to invade a foreign nation so he could line the pockets of Halliburton. Now: Lybia… we went into it because… we didn’t ask congress because… we are backing one side of a civil war because… Hey, who needs reasons when it’s the cool, liberal guy who does all this?

6 – Five years ago: Targeted drone assassinations were the proof we needed that we had a mindless cowboy in the White House, who shot first and asked questions later. Now: Hey, let’s have more!

7 – Five years ago: Partisanship was declared to be the worst form of needless bickering, and we were promised a new age of adult debate and civil discourse. Now: “Punish your enemy”–”Moats and alligators”–”Push grandma off a cliff”–”Let Down syndrome babies scavenge off the streets…”

8 – Rep. Giffords is shot by a mentally-incompetent lunatic: Sarah Palin and her over-the-top rhetoric pushed him to it, and we have to hear about that for weeks. Dec. 12, 2008: Sarah Palin’s church is doused in gasoline and set aflame–with women and children inside. Shhhh… don’t tell anyone…

I could go on and add another 20 points to the list, just off the top of my head. Feminists and Liberal philanderers. Black “civil rights leaders” (I love the expression) and their attempt to destroy anyone who wonders off the Democratic plantation.

Look: you want your guys to win at all costs? Fine. You like gutter-level snipers, smear merchants and attack dogs, as long as they get you the result you want? Fine. But at least, spare us the hypocrisy of the hypocrisy charge.

Remember: if a leftist makes any argument based on morality, principle, law, or justice, they don’t really believe that principle, moral, etc.; they’re just using it for the moment, and will violate it without a thought when it gets in their way. To the left, morals and principles are like beer bottles in a bar-room brawl; when it’s useful, hit someone with it, but then discard it because it’s not really good for anything else. They believe in power to themselves, and in nothing else, because they hold the delusion that they are Right™ and therefore above common morality.

02/19/2011 (11:16 am)

What Happens When Flow Chart Geeks Have Too Much Time On Their Hands

Hilarious.

If you click on the image, it’ll take you to a collection of cartoons for science geeks that may be worth your time, if you’re kinda one of them…

I had to look up the Katamari Damacy reference. It’s a video game music track. And I’m a freakin’ dinosaur.

02/18/2011 (10:17 am)

Civility

Not that this is the first evidence we have that the left’s outrage concerning uncivil language in the public square was completely disingenuous, or even the strongest, but…

The demonstrations in Wisconsin over relatively sensible cuts in union budgets has the leftists there showing their true faces. It does not take much to do this, as the viciousness of progressives lies very shallowly below the surface; their civility is a thin veneer covering seething masses of bile and ill will. Their progressive dreams are bankrupting the Western world, and the least suggestion that they should be made to live, not within their means, but within perhaps an order of magnitude over their means, evokes screeching like that from a cranky toddler.

The Republican party of Wisconsin put together a montage juxtaposing the faux outrage of the political left over harsh rhetoric with the reality of how they protest even the mild, sensible cuts required by Wisconsin’s fiscal nightmare — a nightmare brought on by the delusions of progressives. Watch (1:34):

The biggest of the Big Lies from the leftists in that montage comes from Bill Maher, who, with straight but bloated face, spoke precisely the opposite of the truth. Nobody on the right talks about how much fun it would be to kill our opponents. Virtually all of that sort of talk comes from the left. It can be found daily on the Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and the Democratic Underground. It can be found at any demonstration against any Republican politician; nobody has to manufacture instances, the way progressives have tried to do to discredit Tea Party activists. It can be found in the still-present flood of Internet references to “Bushitler,” the still-common references to Dick Cheney as Hitler or the devil, the cartoons and comments about Sarah Palin… And notice how progressives always, always take their demonstrations to the politician’s home, terrorizing his family and disturbing private neighborhoods.

By the same token, all the vicious, black-hating talk I’ve heard in the last 30 years has come from the left as well, as well as all the vicious, woman-hating talk, the vicious, Hispanic-hating talk, and the vicious, Jew-hating talk. They haven’t banished those things; they’ve just reserved them for conservative blacks, women, Hispanics, and Jews. Through one side of their mouths, they call conservatives racist and insist that we intend to drag women back into the kitchen, but through the other side of their mouths, they tell minority groups “You’re still subject to all the hatred you always used to face — unless you serve our political interests.”

Theirs is not the politics of civil public discourse, but rather the politics of personal destruction. They have given themselves over to evil.

And by the way: if this is how they respond to relatively modest budget cuts, what are they going to do when somebody actually starts to cut the budget down to the place it truly needs to be?

01/03/2011 (9:50 pm)

A Light Critique of Ayn Rand

A friend posted this portion of Mike Wallace’s 1959 interview with Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand, in which she discusses how her philosophy, Objectivism, should be applied in American society. A lively discussion ensued, so I’m going to post my thoughts here.

In my experience, American conservatives who are non-religious are likely to be Objectivists in some sense; Rand has plenty of fans on the right. Objectivism is a bit scary; it claims that man should pursue self-interest instead of altruism, that to serve one’s fellow-man is immoral, and that love is earned by developing personal virtue. Rand’s fans on the right mostly like her application of this to politics and economics, where she claims that the only legitimate political systems are those that grant unbridled individual liberty and permit laissez-faire capitalism.

Rand is brilliant, and defends her thesis ably. Enjoy, and then come back for some discussion.

As far as economics goes, Ms. Rand is right on the money. I would have wanted her to say only a couple of things differently:

(1) She should have emphasized that Mike Wallace’s version of the robber barons was a myth. She did actually say that, but it got buried in the detail. The real robber barons were those who used government regulation to obtain a competitive advantage.

(2) She should have corrected Wallace’s notion that the welfare state was an implementation of the principle that “We are our brother’s keepers.” It is not; it is an implementation of an anti-ethic masquerading as a Christian ethic, which says that an enlightened elite should trump the choices of the many in order to achieve what the elite claims is a Christian ideal. It would be a Christian ethic if individuals encouraged each other to care for their brothers. It is a statist tyranny that asserts the right of an elite to force others to implement their notion of a just state. This has nothing to do with Christianity.

Ms. Rand does not understand the vast difference between legitimate self-interest and selfishness. Modern progressives tend to make the same error, failing to differentiate between ordinary profit motive and greed. Rand’s version of conservatism is thus just as dangerous as the progressivism it opposes, and if it takes hold, would turn our nation into a nation of callous, self-centered fools.

Rand is correct about this: everybody operates out of self-interest. It’s why we feed and dress ourselves. The absence of self-interest is a pathology; people who lack this ordinary sense of self-interest don’t take care of themselves, become promiscuous, smoke, engage in high-risk activities without proper precautions, or become self-destructive in other ways.

“Selfishness” is ordinary self-interest pursued to the exclusion of necessary moral limits. Selfishness occurs when we allow our self-interest to trump other important moral imperatives, like concern for others or loyalty to family, among other things.

Those moral imperatives come from God, and are innate; Objectivism, however, claims that no God exists and that religion is illegitimate. This is where Objectivism and Christianity part company. Objectivism attempts to produce virtue without God, and makes a hash of it.

The same difference exists between self-interest and greed as exists between self-interest and selfishness. Greed is when we allow our desire for profit to trump our commitment to other, necessary moral rules, like the proscription on stealing or the imperative of telling the truth.

Modern liberals & progressives (who have, in this matter, swallowed the lies of Marxists) err by imagining that all profit motive is greed. Rand similarly errs by imagining that all self-interest is selfishness. Both of them err by making no distinction between the principled pursuit of self-improvement, and the unprincipled pursuit of it.

(I suspect that both fail to note this distinction because they’re both unprincipled themselves. Virtue is like knowledge; the virtuous can see both virtue and vice, while the vicious can see neither. But I can’t prove this.)

The interesting consequence of understanding the distinction between principled self-interest and greed or selfishness is that one realizes that our free society can only work among a highly principled populace. If, in general, we lack moral principle as a people, then our liberty becomes an occasion for selfishness and greed, and everything falls apart. Ultimately, the prosperity of free America did not arise only from its freedom, but from the combination of freedom and morality. Freedom without morality does not produce prosperity, it produces chaos. We actually saw something like this occur in post-Soviet Russia during the 1990s — although despite the chaos, what took place there was more prosperous than the Worker’s Paradise it replaced.

If you’d like to hear the portion of the interview in which Ms. Rand describes her philosophy for Wallace, you can find it here.

12/29/2010 (12:04 pm)

PIPA is At It Again

For the past 7 years or so, conservatives have had to tolerate liberals, Progressives, and assorted pseudo-intellectuals informing them superciliously that it had been “proved” by “research” that Fox News viewers were badly misinformed about current issues. They were usually referring to a horribly-constructed bit of research produced by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland that examined responses to three questions about the run-up to the Iraq war. Somehow, to the left, this proved that Fox was misinforming its viewers about all subjects — and that’s leaving aside glaring concerns about the construction of the questions, and about the utter absence of any attempt to correlate private, personal opinions to particular news reports (I mentioned the report and its flaws briefly here.)

Well, they’re at it again. PIPA, which in the interim has recast itself as World Public Opinion.org, recently produced another amusing bit of research purporting to prove, using more current policy questions, that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news viewers. The actual study can be read here, if you want a lesson in how not to perform genuine research.

The title is a masterpiece of studied neutrality: Misinformation and the 2010 Election. So far, so good. A lot of us have noted the role played by the press in keeping voters ill-informed. It’s a worthwhile topic for research. Funny, though, that they didn’t run this after the 2008 election; I guess these Objective Scholars® considered voting for Obama a well-informed choice, and considered that misinformation is only evident when voters elect Republicans. Examining the minds of Obama voters was left to conservative partisans like John Ziegler, who, in fact, did a much better job of demonstrating that the voters were misinformed than PIPA does here (and Obama voters were the most misinformed of all — but nobody was particularly well-informed). Of course, Ziegler used genuine polling organizations like Zogby and Wilson Research, and there was no disputing the factual nature of his questions. He also did not attempt to blame any particular network, which is a fool’s errand. PIPA, take note.

Why the focus on Fox News? The study introduces itself with a concern about the impact of “corporate funding” on elections in the wake of the Citizens United case, which I wrote about last February. This is a particular concern of Progressives, who went insane predicting a flood of corporate money devastating politics in America (which in fact never materialized,) but not a concern of anybody else. So we know from the start that the researchers are Progressives, and we all know how Progressives feel about Fox. This explains why PIPA is interested in a question like “Are Fox News viewers misinformed” rather than a more neutral question like, say, “Which news reports are more accurate?” Of course, they shrouded their focus on Fox in objective-sounding phrases, but the focus was plainly on Fox.

Be that as it may, the study is a laugh riot of methodological blunders.

In the first place, the study defines “truth” as “agreement with the public statements of a particular government agency.” For example, if you disagree with the Congressional Budget Office in their assessment of the effect of the stimulus, then you are, by this definition, misinformed. That example is particularly egregious: the CBO assessed the effect of the stimulus, not by examining actual results, but by running an economic model using the number of stimulus dollars as input, and applying Keynesian multipliers. In short, if you think the CBO’s model is not a good model, you are misinformed — by definition.

This is genuinely funny. Liberals fancy themselves to be the reservoir of intellectual resistance to the government in America. But as of today, liberals claim that if you disagree with the government, you are wrong, by simple definition. Big Brother knows best. Who knew they’d changed sides?

Next, several questions asked people to opine about what “most economists” think. The study defines “most economists” as “the economists who happen to work for the government agency we chose as our source.” No polling of economists was performed, nor were any such polls consulted. So we know before we start that the study’s “correct” answers to questions involving opinions about what “most economists” think are completely unreliable. They really have not the slightest idea what “most economists” think.

And what is it that people are asked about what these gods of economics think? That’s pretty interesting, too: they’re asked, among other things, whether more economists think the health care reform law will increase the deficit, more think it will reduce the deficit, or whether their views are evenly divided. Or, whether more economists think the economy is getting better or getting worse.

My reaction to that is “What kind of idiot decides where they stand by polling economists to find out which view has 60% support? Who the &@#! cares what ‘most economists’ think?” Why aren’t we examining the actual effects of such laws in other countries, or in various states where they’ve been attempted? Why not examine the history of predictions made by politicians advocating various spending programs (which almost invariably understate costs and overstate revenues?)

But no, to PIPA what matters is whether people know which way the wind was blowing among economists — meaning, of course, which way the particular economists were leaning who were working for the particular branch of the Obama administration they chose by whatever means. And they chose objectively, of course.

How very revealing that these Progressives think truth is determined by agreeing with people they consider important! One scales the heights of intellectual mountains by following the academic herd? Really?

I’m reminded of a wry comment about experts made by John Meier in his analysis of the life of Jesus, A Marginal Jew:

Nothing ages faster than relevance. The “cutting edge” of scholarship at any given moment often turns out to be the sharp cliff of Gerasa, off of which academic lemmings keep hurling themselves.

Choosing sides by polling experts is not always such a good idea.

But here is what I consider the crowning deficiency: the study purports to examine whether a news agency misinforms its viewers — without examining a single news report.

How does that work? The questions about what news source respondents viewed don’t sum to 100%, because most people view multiple sources of news — Fox, CBS, newspapers, various Internet sites, etc. The study does not even include most news purveyors, and makes no attempt to identify which of the various sources it does include was the source of the “misinformation.” Using this method it’s not possible to determine which, or whether any, news organization misinformed anybody.

Ultimately, all the study demonstrates is which set of voters was more likely to agree with the current administration’s talking points. For some reason, I don’t consider that a useful test of accuracy, nor does the failure to swallow ObamaCrap® fill me with foreboding about the future of the republic. Call me picky.

Nobody who knows the first thing about social science research can take this “study” seriously. It’s not a study, it’s a paid, partisan hit piece. The fact that so many liberals accept it uncritically and repeat it as fact, constitutes proof that they’re either not capable of critical thinking, or not willing to engage in it when the target is conservative. The fact that PIPA and other progressive-leaning think tanks continue to produce such transparently nonsensical “research”, constitutes proof that the manipulators of the liberal herd know how to move the cows.

11/26/2010 (9:17 am)

Pakistan Needs Our Prayers

Asia Bibi (pronounced “AH see ah”) was picking berries in a field with other women when she dipped a cup into a pail of water and took a drink. The other women, who were Muslim, refused to drink the water thereafter because Asia, who is Christian, had touched it. The women report that in the argument that followed, Asia said “Your Mohammed had worms in his mouth before he died,” an idiom apparently meaning that Mohammed was not a prophet.

For thus objecting to being snubbed by bigots, Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death by hanging.

The video is 2 minutes, 51 seconds long, plus a 30 second commercial on the front. My apologies for the commercial message, which I do not control. If you click on the little speaker in the video’s control bar, it will mute the sound.

According to CNN reports, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the murdered Benazir Bhutto, has plans to pardon Asia Bibi if the nation’s High Court does not grant her request for mercy. Muslim leaders have threatened nationwide protests if he does. Zardari appears to be a man of some conviction, but it remains to be seen whether his tenure can survive nationwide riots, courtesy of The Religion of Peace.

I can think of few ways that the true nature of Islam could be broadcast more accurately than this. Asia Bibi’s entire village, supported by all the nation’s Islamic faithful, approve wholeheartedly of this murder. That’s what this is, of course: a threatened murder. No civilized human being can regard her acts as worthy of death; and an unjust law is no law at all.

Pray for Asia and her family, who are enduring this difficulty on our behalf. Pray, also, for Pakistani President Zardari, who appears poised to do the right thing. And pray, finally, that the world recognize that not all religions are the same, that some counsel peace while other counsel violence, injustice, and bigotry.

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