Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Future of an Illusion | The Weekly Standard

The Future of an Illusion | The Weekly Standard

Money graph:
Secretary Clinton told the giant AIPAC meeting, “Our credibility in this process depends in part on our willingness to praise both sides when they are courageous, and when we don’t agree, to say so, and say so unequivocally.” Several recent Palestinian actions, she said, were “provocations” that are “wrong and must be condemned.” That was nice, but saying it to a Jewish audience in a kiss-and-make-up session in Washington fools no one, not after her famous 43-minute telephone call to Netanyahu. These “provocations .  .  . that must be condemned” (note the passive voice) did not after all elicit a timely call to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas condemning them, nor did she use the Quartet meeting in Moscow on March 19 for that purpose.

Only the our friends have to pay a real price for their actions. It might also be added that only the actions of our enemies involve killing people. Our friends "provocations" involve things like building houses.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sarah Palin's gun-imagery takes aim at political targets / The Christian Science Monitor -

Sarah Palin's gun-imagery takes aim at political targets / The Christian Science Monitor -

A terrible media furor has been set off by various acts of verbal incitement which has lead to a string of political violence. A former presidential candidate stated at a rally "If they bring a knife, you bring a gun." This lead to a string of acts ranging from the opposing candidates offices being trashed in Tennessee and a group of thugs assaulting a demonstrator and biting off his thumb in full view of a video camera, the scenes captured by which, immediately became the subject of virtual round the clock coverage.

Don't remember this? Neither do I. You see, the targets in all the above cases were conservatives.

A lot of conservatives seem to think they are the victim of a conspiracy on the part of the ruling Democrats and the Media. Myself--barely capable of concerted action on my own behalf--I am reluctant to believe my enemies up to mounting a conspiracy on behalf of their own. I subscribe to the view of Napoleon: Never attribute to design what mere incompetence is sufficient to explain.

It is true that the shared ideology of the media and the Democrats is an explanatory factor, but not because it is a plot to discredit republicans or conservatives. It is simple human cognitive limitations at work.

There are always biases and belief systems at work in our perceptions and memories. They determine what we notice, how we interpret it and what we remember. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes it is a symbol of some deeper truth, a hidden and suppressed intention. When the people speaking our our enemies we take what might otherwise be seen as innocent figures of speech become veiled threats and incitements to violence.

Liberal media are afraid of the Tea Party. It strikes them as a subversive, racist movement. In their universe the only reason that the 'people' rise up in protest are to demand protection from the powerful and that the government take their side against the rich and powerful to give them benefits. The idea of middle-class people who want nothing more from the government than to be let alone to take their chance at becoming rich or to suffer the consequences--good or bad--of their own decisions, in other words, to be free, is undreamt of in their philosophy. Therefore when they see a bunch of non-rich citizens acting like legitimate protestors the only category they have for them in their minds are dupes or racists. They have to assume they are deluded or acting from bad, undemocratic motives. Once this decision is made it is easy, indeed, almost impossible not to, see incitements to violence in any metaphor with martial overtones and to accord great salience to acts of violence or vandalism that would otherwise be dismissed as random noise.

Some of the fear mongering by Democrats is just funny. The Christian Science Monitor gravely warned Palin helped to harden the tenor as she played on the mythology of the gun in American culture to fire "the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington."

The Monitor ran a picture of a smiling Sarah Palin posing with a hunting gun and reported that some Democratic Congressmen had been moved to ask for extra police protection in response to the threat. The image of Congressmen running for protection from the facebook one-liners of the menacing Caribou Barbie can hardly help the party of apology's credibility on national defense.

In fact the most striking fact about the tea party rallies is not just how civil they are compared to their leftist counter parts but how clean. There were 30 to 50 thousand people at a rally earlier this year on the Washington Mall that left the grounds cleaner than before the rally. Of course, the media couldn't report that without actually mentioning the existence of the rally so you didn't hear about that.

Conservatives now have to be their own news media. They have to be ready with counter examples to liberal stories of incitement and violence in any given conversation. The liberal media memory hole will have prevented the counter-examples from having reached the perception and memory of any but the most attentive conservative activists.

It is time conservatives started bringing their guns to these media knife fights--figuratively speaking, of course.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adventures in Paradise: Ann Coulter gets a letter from Canada

Here is a link to a great story. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, in cooperation with a street Mob, has banned Ann Coulter from speaking in Canada. Mark Steyn explains--

Bienvenue au Canada - Mark Steyn - The Corner on National Review Online

Karl Rove: What Republicans Should Do Now -

Karl Rove: What Republicans Should Do Now -

There is a nice example of framing in this article:

"For example, changes in insurance regulations in 2011 and two new mandates in 2014 that force everyone to buy insurance and require everyone to be charged a similar price regardless of age or health will cause insurance premiums to rise more than they would have otherwise. The 10 million people who have a health savings account will also be hurt starting in 2011."

Whenever you hear the President talk about this it is a measure to prevent insurance companies from charging old people or sick people many times more what they charge young people or healthy people. This is perfectly true. It is also perfectly true to say that it is a measure to prevent young people or healthy people from purchasing insurance that reflects their actual risk of getting sick, or to buy insurance that represents their actual cost to the insurance company, to buy insurance without having to subsidize old people or sick people, to buy insurance that they can afford, to buy insurance at the free market cost, that is not several times what their actual cost is to the insurance company.

Which framing is correct is a function of what kind of policy change you want to make and your policy preferences. Both framings are equally accurate if not equally true (to borrow the formulation from the end of the film "Absence of Malice.")