Why It’s So Hard to Get The Truth in a Media-Saturated World

Most everyone has read a piece in a newspaper or magazine or watched a TV show and detected a glaring error in it. I spent a fair amount of my life as a long-distance commuter (50 miles+) which gave me ample time to listen to all sorts of radio: AM talk (mostly religious and conservative talk shows), FM talk/variety (mostly NPR with a light sprinkling of Pacifica Radio’s hard-left KPFKand a dash of music of some variety or another. One day when I was commuting home, I was listening to KFI AM 640 and the host was talking about something I was conversant on: recycling sewage to be used as a drinking water supply for a large metropolitan area. The host was making blatant factual errors about the history, science, and technology associated with recycled water, interspersing her comments with ‘ew’ and ‘yuck’ (somewhat understandably, I’ll concede) and I felt something like the guy in this cartoon: Someone is wrong on the itnernet 11-29-14

I don’t know if it was righteous indignation coupled with Boy Scout do-gooder-ism, but after a quick head-swivel scan of the freeway, I detected no California Highway Patrol units in the vicinity so I got out the cell phone and proceeded to break the law by calling the radio station, to set that ignorant host straight, dagnabbit!

I wasn’t expecting to get through, but it was a Saturday, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself speaking with the show’s call screener, and a few minutes later I was on the air for a glorious 30 seconds of fame and notoriety.

I explained the highly scientific and eloquently engineered treatment process and how strict regulations by the State of California protects the public’s health, etc.; I gave the host the pure milk of truth, only the good stuff (because, 30 seconds). Surely now the host would see the error of her ways and thank me for helping remove the scales from her darkened eyes.

Uhh, no.

Some of the scales from *my* eyes, however, had made their way out.

My mother liked to tell the story of a family outing when I was a wee lad of 5 or so where there was a Myna Bird on the premises who was trained to say, “Are you a Myna Bird?” and I proceeded to patiently explain to the Myna Bird, “No, I’m a human…my name is…” and so on.

My facts meant *nothing* – zero, zilch, nada, goose egg, bupkis – to the host. Like so many of those in the media, the host was looking to be entertaining to boost ratings and maximize advertising revenue. Facts, schmacts. My conversation with the Myna Bird was more meaningful.

Turning to a more serious note, the events in Ferguson, Missouri have provided the latest example on why it’s so hard to get to the truth of a story.

Unless people aren’t interested or give up and swallow the blue pill of Solipsism, to get at something like the truth in media we humans must bushwhack through a thicket of tendentiousness, slog through a swamp of subjectivity, and sojourn through a searing desert of agenda journalism.

Red pill Blue pill 11-29-14 If it pleases the court, I now present Exhibit ‘A’ of what’s known as the Rashomon Effect, using CNN’s Don Lemon and Van Jones, who both were on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri when stores were being looted and buildings started to go up in flames after the announcement that the grand jury would not be filing charges against the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown:

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnns-jones-lemon-rip-into-each-other-over-ferguson-protests/

Two guys, ostensibly media professionals, at the same place reporting on the same event, come up with radically different accounts/explanations for it. Isn’t that interesting?

Thomas Sowell said, “Facts do not ‘speak for themselves.’ They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities.” This appears to be what happened with Lemon and Jones: both of them saw the same events, but the way they processed and interpreted them, that is, their ‘competing theories’, are vastly different.

Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary, adds his two cents:

It’s of course the case that our experiences shape how we perceive reality. We all interpret events in a somewhat different way and none of us perceives truth perfectly. But that is a world apart from a license to interpret events in a way that’s false.

Wehner is correct in making the point that we humans see reality through the prism of our life experiences and values/points of view we hold. The point of Wehner’s piece is that some in media, especially CNN, were engaging in agenda journalism in Ferguson:

It was painful to watch reporters, with child-like melodrama, pretend they were part of a great civil-rights story. But 2014 isn’t 1965, and Ferguson, Missouri isn’t the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 

Which brings us to Confirmation Bias, the tendency to search for, interpret, or remember information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses.

To perhaps oversimply, Confirmation Bias is why people who are conservative tune in to FOX News and people who are liberal watch MSNBC; they’re looking to get their point of view substantiated and verified once again.

It is my considered opinion that FOX and MSNBC are echo chambers of their respective points of view, preaching to their respective choirs and throwing red meat to the more ravenous of their respective tribes. In terms of profitability/ratings/business model, FOX has consistently out-performed MSNBC, while MSNBC’s ratings continue their downward trajectory, with a parallel in radio-land, where Rush Limbaugh and several other conservative talk show hosts like Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt enjoy good ratings and hence are profitable, while the liberal ‘Air America’ went the way of the Dodo some time ago (PBS and NPR remain on the air, with an infusion of cash from government and private donations.)

As far as those glaring errors most of us have detected in newspaper and magazine articles, etc.,  a most useful tool in the astute media consumer’s tool pouch is the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect* as described by the late, great Michael Crichton:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well… You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward–reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story–and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

In areas I am reasonably knowledgeable in – Christianity, wastewater treatment, and firearms – I have seen many examples where it is painfully obvious (when the pangs of Fremdschämen start to well up within me) the person has no idea of what they’re talking about, but they write or speak confidently as if they’re an authority on the subject, disseminating sober facts that people can rely on to inform their world.

Incidentally, in those instances where your family or friends experience Fremdschämen on your behalf (and they have or will), it is best to experience the momentary embarrassment of being corrected and being thankful for the correction, for it is the well and true friend who tells you your zipper is down, or that a gigantic piece of spinach has taken up residence between your teeth, or a booger the size of a snow pea has somehow wandered out of your nose cave into the light of day (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything). Crichton ends with a rejection of the blue pill of solipsism and an affirmation that the truth can be found out through work, diligence, and proper methodology:

In closing, I’d remind you that while there are some things we cannot know for sure, there are many things that can be resolved, and indeed are resolved. Not by speculation, however. By careful investigation, by rigorous statistical analysis. Since we’re awash in this contemporary ocean of speculation, we forget that things can be known with certainty, and that we need not live in a fearful world of interminable unsupported opinion.

Crichton concedes digging for the truth in media is tiring work:

Personally, I think we need to start turning away from media, and the data shows that we are, at least from television news. I find that whenever I lack exposure to media I am much happier, and my life feels fresher.

On the one hand, if you immerse yourself in the quest to tease truth from fiction in the media world without respite, you will experience fatigue, perhaps some Weltschmerz and the like. Prescription: Unplug from time to time. Listen to beautiful music. Read wonderful books. Go out in the great outdoors and get some exercise. Eat delicious food. Hang out with friends and family. On the other hand, we live in a world, as Sowell said, where “Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest” and George Orwell said, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ” That is, we live in a fallen world, full of representatives of the crooked timber of humanity (it appears *especially* to be the case in the political and media world). The media in the western world can be a wonderful check and watchdog on those in power, but we ourselves must not over-depend on them, and we can’t *not* check and verify, like the Bereans of old did with the words of St. Paul, that they are factually correct; that they are, in fact, the truth.  

UPDATE, 11-30-14 at 10:30 A.M., PST: There’s a lot of dangerous misinformation coming from some in media about the use of deadly force in the form of firearms by police officers. Read this informative post by Michael Yon which answers the question, ‘Why didn’t the officer shoot Michael Brown in the legs?” Also read this piece on why one police officer who used to carry 47 rounds of ammo now carries 145 rounds after a life and death encounter with a bank robber. *Kind thanks to Thomas L. McDonald‘s terrific article on the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect

UPDATE No 2, 5-30-15 at 1:57 P.M., PST: This piece by Peter Wehner at Commentary is a good treatment on the limits of human knowledge and understanding, also touching on why partisan/political differences are as sharp as they are these days.

    

Advertisements

Ferguson: A Symptom of a Deeper Culture and Values Problem

On the night of Monday, November 24, 2014 St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that no charges would be filed against Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed 18 year-old Michael Brown on a street in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.

Shortly afterwards, President Barack Obama went on television to make a statement, where he mentioned Brown’s parents and joined with them in urging people who disagreed with the grand jury’s decision to do so “peacefully”.

In what was described as surreal, a cable news network broadcast a split screen with Obama on one side asking for calm and on the other a helicopter view of people attempting to tip over a police car amidst flying tear gas canisters and crowds of protesters leavened with hooligans.

Since then, dozens have been arrested and businesses have been burned to the ground.

While the issues of an increasingly militarized police, relations between the police and the community and criminal justice reform are legitimate and needed areas of policy debate, these focus on the symptoms of a problem, not the problem itself.

The problem is one of culture and values.

Commentator, historian, and public intellectual Bernard Lewis put it this way:

When people realize that things are going wrong, there are two questions they can ask. One is, ‘What did we do wrong?’ and the other is ‘Who did this to us?’ The latter leads to conspiracy theories and paranoia. The first question leads to another line of thinking: How do we put it right?

Lewis was speaking specifically of Islamic cultures, but his observation is applicable to all people and cultures, because it speaks to the condition of the human heart.

The problems seen today in Ferguson and other black communities in America do not, as some assert, have their roots in the ‘legacy of slavery’. This is excuse-making and a cop out. Rather, they have their roots in the 1960’s and the reigning political philosophy that prevailed at the time and the policies that emanated from it.

The root problem is one where a large number of people have moved away from a culture and values system that has a proven record of producing upward mobility and human flourishing, into a sub-culture that has a proven record of producing poverty, illegitimacy, crime, and human misery.

Those trapped in the destructive sub-culture are then abetted by a so-called ‘leadership’ class who get and hold their political power by telling those in the sub-culture that they are the victims of the larger society and their situation is hopeless, apart from their ‘leadership’, all while advocating for policies that ensures those in poverty remain in poverty.

So-called ‘leaders’, such as Al Sharpton and his ilk, get their power from re-directing the question away from what individuals and communities can do to better their circumstances, i.e., ‘What did we do wrong?’ and towards blaming their condition on external causes, i.e., ‘Who did this to us?’.

As Lewis points out, the latter question leads to conspiracy theories and paranoia. It also leads to communities being burned to the ground and suffering in poverty for years or even decades afterwards.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in his famous 1965 report entitled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action wrote:

The fundamental problem…is that of family structure…[T]he negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled…[and] poorly educated…the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated…So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.”

When Moynihan wrote these words in 1965, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 25%. Today it is greater than 70%.

When President Lyndon Johnson announced his ‘Great Society’ plan to use the federal government to declare war on poverty in 1964, the poverty rate was around 14.7%. In 2012 the poverty rate was nearly unchanged at 15% (although today’s poor are materially better off than in 1964).

So after nearly 50 years and 20 TRILLION dollars spent in Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ war on poverty, the poverty rate has remained virtually unchanged while the illegitimacy rate in the black community has skyrocketed from 25% to over 70%.

It took the people enslaved by the Soviet Union some 70 years to break their chains of the tyranny of communism with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

We are 50 years and counting with the failed policies of big government liberalism as it pertains to poverty in general and the destructive dynamics in the black community in particular.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The country is way past due for a course change.


How Badly Did Obama Underestimate The Islamist Threat?

Today Chuck Hagel, Obama’s Secretary of Defense, resigned. Hagel was never the best choice for the position, but in his defense, Hagel did disagree, publicly, with Obama’s characterization of the totalitarian Islamist group that calls itself ‘The Islamic State’.

Back in January 2014, Obama downplayed the scope and threat coming from the Islamic State, saying in a New Yorker piece, “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Since then, the Islamic State has conquered and is now in control of large land areas in eastern Syria and north and western Iraq, captured billions of dollars worth of U.S.-supplied military equipment from the Iraqi army, and engaged in an Islamically-inspired orgy of mass murders, ritualistic beheadings, rape, slavery, pillage, and ethnic/religious cleansing.

After seeing how screwed up things became in Syria and Iraq, Obama tried to finesse his statement about the Islamic State, but all he succeeded in doing was make himself look even more petty and ridiculous.

Of course, the rise of the Islamic State was preventable. Against the advice of his military and diplomatic team to leave a residual force in Iraq, Obama, in order to have an applause line while campaigning for reelection in 2012, pulled out all U.S. troops from Iraq, thus creating the vacuum that the Islamic State filled.

Obama hired Hagel for much the same reasons he chose Joe Biden as his Vice President: he wanted someone without a lot of intellectual firepower who would not show him up and make him look better in comparison who would carry out his policy preferences as a compliant functionary.

For the most part, Hagel fit that bill, with the exception of him not agreeing with Obama’s characterization of the Islamic State.

Obama’s former Secretaries of Defense, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, have leveled withering criticism of Obama’s feckless, kick-the-can-down-the-road approach to prosecuting the war against the Islamic State.

So under Obama’s bus goes Chuck Hagel, sacrificed on the altar of Obama’s narcissism and incompetence.

It will be interesting to see who Obama selects as his next Secretary of Defense. If Obama picks someone who is experienced, knowledgable, and has fire in their belly, the disastrous situation in regard to the Islamic State may show some improvement (or at least lesser degrees of failure), but they may not last long, because Obama doesn’t like people arguing with him or outshining him.

Since Obama is a good example of the adage that A’s pick A’s, B’s pick C’s, and so on, my guess is he’ll pick someone who will not rock the boat, follow orders, and keep a relatively low profile.

That will be good for Obama, but bad for the country.


The Left’s Twin Towers of Tyranny

Article. I.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Much ink and digital bandwidth have been spilled/expended on Mr. Obama’s unilateral executive action he announced during a speech from the White House on November 20, 2014 on the issue of immigration/deportation/amnesty.

Those on the left, especially immigration rights groups and politicians like Illinois congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, support Obama’s executive action, while those on the right, including House Speaker John Boehner, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and a slew of pundits from the constellation of conservative media outlets, blogs, think tanks, etc. have roundly criticized Obama’s executive action as a usurpation by the second branch of government of the first branch’s prescribed constitutional role.

Obama’s executive action is indeed a power grab done for cynical reasons after he and his party took what Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia described as “a real ass-whuppin” in the mid-term election of November, 2014. Obama broke his promise to pass immigration reform in his first term, despite the Democratic Party controlling both houses of congress and the presidency.  Increasingly being referred to as a ‘lame duck’ president in his last two years in office, Obama sought to take attention away from the Republican’s tsunami of a mid-term election victory and re-direct it to him, which he did to a large degree.

In a pleasant surprise, Saturday Night Live did a skit using the old ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ episode of how a bill becomes law to criticize Obama’s executive action, showing the actor playing Obama kicking the bill down the steps of the capital:

Previous to Obama’s unprecedented executive action on immigration, numerous videos surfaced that featured the man many consider to be the main architect of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber, essentially calling the American people stupid and bragging about how he used a lack of transparency, deception, and rhetorical sleight of hand to give political cover to his paymasters in the White House and Congress to jam ObamaCare down the throats of the American people.

Gruber’s comments became the grist of some fine commentary, including this from National Review’s Rich Lowry, and this from the Washington Time’s James Bovard.

Jonah Goldberg’s ‘G-File’ of November 22, 2014 used the Gruber videos as a vehicle to nicely sum up the rotten-ness of today’s ‘Establishment Liberalism’ (I refer to it as progressivism or leftism), and it is devastating:

The reason Gruber has been so outrageously under-covered by the mainstream media is obvious: The whole story is an indictment of the entire ecosystem of establishment liberalism, from the supposedly “explanatory journalists” who picked sides from the beginning, to the academic elites who serve as willing mercenaries for the Democratic party (while pretending to be unimpeachably objective followers of the facts) to the press corps that carries water for the whole enterprise. Grüberdammerung runs against the narrative that only lovers of limited government are driven by self-interest and greed. It gives the average person a glimpse into how the sausage is made and embarrasses the sausage makers.

Unless you were born in and live in a cave, you understand that the left dominates the cultural institutions (political, academia, entertainment, media), which is to say the left dominates the culture. Gruber, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, et. al, are committed leftists who believe in concentrating power in order to shape and mold America into their idea of a progressive utopia (a.k.a., ‘Soft Despotism’) where the free citizen is kneaded into a dependent subject of the state and the leadership class use their arsenal of experts in the numerous bureaucracies to reduce the population, in the words of Tocqueville, “to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Government at all levels, from the lowliest local municipal public works agency to the halls of Congress and the White House have more than their fair share of ‘Grubers’, ‘experts’ who are possessed with a creepy will to power over their fellow men/women, ‘for our own good’ (of course, there are many good, humble, dedicated public servants).

They are the adult equivalent of the strong-willed elementary school hall monitor who, once given power over others looks for, devises and contrives ways to exercise it. They are the busybody neighbor, the officious work mate who offers help or advice when it is neither asked for nor needed; many of them have gotten degrees and sought after power, position and prominence to control others. As Robert Heinlein once said, “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”

The left has created and perpetuated the idea that it is good, right – normal – that a leadership class of philosopher kings rule over the population by a combination of executive fiat and a complicated network of bureaucracies populated by ‘experts’ who are unelected and unaccountable to the people to, you know, ‘get things done’ ‘for the people’.

What’s the remedy?

First, if you’re looking for cosmic justice through politics, you’re making a category error; even the best political systems and politicians come from the crooked timber of humanity. You will be deeply disappointed. That is the job of religion/metaphysical beliefs.

With that public service announcement out of the way, look at Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution. It says “*All* legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States” (not an executive and not a bureaucrat).

Check out this clip of Steven Heyward speaking of the current condition of Congress:

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/4181599

Heyward points out that the founders made the legislative branch the first branch of government for a reason, but since the rise of progressivism that began politically with the Woodrow Wilson presidency and flourished during Franklin Delano Roosevelt (and now resurgent in the time of Obama), Congress has atrophied while more power has been concentrated in the presidency.

Heyward recommends Congress claw back some of the power away from the executive branch in order to have a more balanced sharing of power/checks and balances as the founders intended.

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/4181730

But when Heyward says ‘Congress’, what this really means is ‘the people’, since they are (or at least are supposed to be) the representatives of the people.

A quote that is attributed to Plato goes, “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Similarly, John Adams said, “I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. . .”

Progressives are, Terminator-like, relentless and will not stop in their drive to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”, as one of their number put it, unless a determined people stands athwart history and makes them stop.

The mid-term election was a small step in the right direction, but only time will tell if Classical Liberals can stem and roll back the over-a-century tide of progressivism.


Can The Main Stream Media Be Shamed Into Covering A Legitimate Story?

CNN’s Jake Tapper is attempting to drag CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, etc. kicking and scratching to cover a real story.

Will Tapper’s reporting shame the main stream media to cover a legitimate – even explosive – story of how ObamaCare was jammed down the American people’s throats by deception, trickery, and rhetorical sleight of hand?

Time will tell, but one thing is for sure: much of the media have abdicated their intended role of ‘speaking truth to power’, because now they *are* ‘the power’, in association with a political party and president that many in their number identify with and are sympathetic with.

If a Republican ends up being elected president in 2016, you can bet your bottom dollar that the media will undergo an immediate transformation from their current status of lap dogs to attack dogs.


The Fatal Conceit of Progressivism

Classical Liberalism (a.k.a., ‘Conservatism’) holds the view that human nature is flawed but fixed, and the primary task of society is to set up institutions and a form of government where power is carefully controlled, curtailed, and diffused. Classical Liberalism looks at history and finds countless examples over centuries of the tyranny and injustice of the few inflicted on the many.

Progressivism (a.k.a., ‘Leftism’), on the other hand, subscribes to the idea that human nature is malleable and perfectible (as they understand the term). It is a utopian view that tends to dismiss the record of human history and denies the human nature that underlies it. Historically, the practitioners of Progressivism in the West have championed the idea of concentrating power in order to ‘get things done’ ‘for the good of the people.’

Classical Liberalism, which adheres to a dim view of human nature, has paradoxically produced a system of government that has promoted human freedom and flourishing while Progressivism, which holds that human nature can be optimized under the right circumstances (Historically this has occurred under full-throated Progressivism, Socialism and Communism) has led to untold human misery and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

In the U.S., Progressives like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton desire to transform a country that got built on the foundation of freedom, individualism and voluntary association into one that more resembles a European-style social democracy, where the collective is emphasized over the individual and the government is characterized by more concentration of power in the hands of a few enlightened Philosopher Kings who rule over the population via a complex bureaucracy staffed by unelected, unaccountable ‘experts’.

Progressives emphasize security provided by government at the cost of freedom, while Classical Liberals emphasize freedom and derive their security from sources other than government (family, friends, religious organizations, voluntary organizations, etc.)

It is ironic that Progressives have preferred to label themselves as such, because their idea of concentrating power is as old as human history.

On the 4th of July 1926, President Calvin Coolidge observed the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence with these words:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers

Alexis de Tocqueville was a Frenchman who visited America in 1831 and marveled at the vibrancy of American society and the unfettered industry and interchange of ideas and goods among Americans. Of America, he wrote of the type of despotism it had to be on the lookout for:

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Tocqueville referred to this as ‘Soft Despotism’, but he could have just as well been speaking about Progressivism.

The fatal flaw of Progressives is their lust for power and dominance over others, dressed up as compassion or benevolence and sold as being ‘for the good of the people’.

In the ‘Lord of the Rings’, the wizard Gandalf well understood the deceit of concentrating power under the pretext of ‘doing good’.

But Progressives heedlessly clamor to grasp the Ring of Power, trampling over ground angels fear to tread on, because they feel they are somehow different from all other humans and they, alone, can defy all of recorded human history.

If that isn’t delusional, I don’t know what is.


The Monumental Mendacity of a Narcissistic Politician

Barack Obama won Politifact’s ‘Lie of the Year’ award in 2013 for his “If you like your doctor and health plan, you can keep your doctor and health plan. Period” whopper of a lie. Obama Lie of the year ObamaCare Obama didn’t lie just once about ObamaCare to get out of a tight spot during an interview or debate; he knowingly and repeatedly lied at numerous campaign events and speeches.

Americans know their politicians aren’t angels (not even close), but the enormity of Obama’s lies – not just with ObamaCare, but also the numerous scandals that have tainted his presidency along with his many foreign policy disasters – are profoundly unsettling.
Last January during an interview, Obama referred to the bloodthirsty Islamist group know as ISIS as “JayVee”, adding that “If a JayVee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
Now ISIS, in an orgy of beheadings and mass murder, has taken over large areas of land in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, butchering tens of thousands of men, women, and children, establishing an Islamic Caliphate in territory American soldiers fought, bled, and died for.
The rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq was made possible by the power vacuum created by Obama’s historic strategic blunder of pulling out U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 so he could campaign in 2012 that he “ended the war” in Iraq.
Then in a remarkable display of chutzpah, Obama tried to evade responsibility for the rise of ISIS in Iraq by using the bogus argument that the Iraqis would not agree to keep U.S. troops in Iraq under what’s known as a Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which former cabinet officials like Leon Panetta have repudiated.
Obama’s attempt at ducking responsibility is, of course, ridiculous, because Obama used his decision to pull out troops from Iraq in 2011 as a punchline in numerous political events during his 2012 reelection campaign.
Obama promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” His mendacity and disastrous foreign policy have indeed had a transformative effect on America and the world.
The only problem is that the world Obama has created is one where war is now more likely; it’s a world where there’s a greater probability that Americans will need to answer the call to fight and die because an ideologically blinkered narcissistic politician wanted to deliver an applause line in his campaign speeches.