novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

Browsing Posts published in April, 2011

UPDATE
National Review Online published an interview with U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke. Here is a money quote:

“First of all, I’m not an unknown quantity in Virginia politics.” Indeed, Radtke’s career includes a stint as a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under then-chairman Jesse Helms, a shift as political and grassroots director for the Virginia Conservative Action PAC, and a term as president of the Richmond Tea Party. “Number two, I’m going around talking about substantive proposals,” Radtke adds. “This isn’t a campaign built on rhetoric.”

As I said earlier, Allen is the favorite. But he needs to be scrutinized and some of his challengers are not all Johnny come lately’s, devoid of ideas as some already have alluded to. We need to look back and learn the lessons of our recent past or we will repeat the mistakes in the near future.
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I, for one, was far from impressed with George Allen. Allen is a good fund raiser, so was George W. Bush, and Obama is a terrific fundraiser. Republicans, as a party, can do better. Republicans, as a party, must do better. While not in the same league as McCain, Graham, or McConnell, Allen is better then those three; George does not deserve a coronation, and should be given harsh scrutiny given his performance last campaign and his record prior to that.

The climate is ripe for new blood, new talent, and a fresh start in the Republican Party here in Virginia. Republicans should see what other talent is out there, willing to represent our interests, ideology, and philosophy.

Small-government Republicans need to take back the Senate from the Democrats and the Rockefeller Republicans who have brought our country to the sad state of affairs. The blame for our fiscal disaster belongs to both parties. Allen could have done worse, but he could also have done far better. Allen is no DeMint, nor is he an Inhofe. We need more of those, and fewer McCains, Grahams, and Browns. Senator Brown is about as conservative a Senator one can hope for from Massachusetts. This is Virginia, people — we can do better.

Jamie Radtke is running for the US Senate. She will be a primary opponent to Allen. She deserves our consideration and support as a potential replacement for Webb. Please give this process some consideration, and do not follow the establishment’s breezy “let’s get it back for George.” Visit Jamie’s website and read her positions on the issues and sign up for her mailers. Get informed on who Radtke is, and remember who Allen is, before you make a decision.

In an article from the National Journal on Radtke states:

“The Tea Party movement would not exist today if the Republicans had not failed under the Bush years”

From Radtke’s website:

  • Oppose raising the federal debt ceiling.
  • End the massive and unsustainable federal deficits.
  • Work for meaningful, courageous reform of entitlement programs.
  • Protect the intrinsic right to life.
  • Uphold the traditional family.
  • Defend the 2nd Amendment.
  • Fight to eliminate government subsidies of corporations (e.g. ethanol subsidies)
  • Advocate for energy independent policies that bring down the price of gas.
  • Oppose illegal immigration.
  • Propose a simpler and more fair tax structure
  • Demand a sound monetary policy.
  • Radtke’s record implies that she is serious about fiscal matters, and will not vote to enable the big spenders in Washington. Allen’s record on fiscal matters is a mixed bag. Allen would be better than a Democrat, but is that all we are shooting for?

    One reason Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008 was that the Republican Party had become indistinguishable from the Democrats on the issue of spending. Does anyone recall the polls that showed the public had more faith in the Democrats on financial matters? I do and I still wince when I think about it. Allen was part of the crew that made Obama possible. Allen voted three times to raise the debt limit without any demanding counter to stop the debt from rising.

    Allen was far too chummy with Mich McConnell, who will take Harry Reid’s job once Republicans take the Senate back from the Democrats. Do we want the same old thing once the Democrats are thrown out of power? Our Republic is nearing the tipping point, and we as a nation must do better.

    Bon Bon Man following George Allen around with a video camera

    At a political event in Loudoun County tonight, a young man from an organization called Bon Bon Man was following former Virginia Governor and Senator George Allen, attempting to videotape Mr. Allen by standing as close as possible, sometimes with his video camera barely a foot from the head of Mr. Allen or another member of the conversations Mr. Allen was attempting to have.

    Another guy at the event – a fellow with a stone-like visage indeed – found it so interesting that he took it upon himself to stand directly in front of the video camera, between Bon Bon Man and his subject, whenever possible.

    I was also fascinated and knew you all would be, so to ensure that we should all never forget this amazing fellow, I got his picture for the Web site. If you click on the photos you will get a larger version.

    Bon Bon Man trying to video George Allen

    The issue is not about money, language or technology. It is about motivation. Students from Asia, Africa and Europe are outperforming the native born — ESL be damned. People learn on dirt floors, writing on slate tablets with chalk or writing on yesterdays newspaper. If someone wants it, they will take it. We have so much more to offer here than slate tablets and chalk. The trouble is not the schools, the textbooks or frankly the teachers. The trouble here lies with the failing students and their families.

    The prime factor when it comes to motivation is culture. When the parents are involved, the student learns. As the son of an immigrant I have many memories of my parents keeping me motivated. The canard that the poor are prevented from being involved in helping their children scholastically due to economic challenges, such as a second job, is tripe. Look at the first generation Chinese, Indian and others who are sending their children to Ivy league schools at rates that exceed the national average.

    The biggest wild-card in this model are ethnic gangs. When students, especially male, are subject to the gang sub-culture, the performance of the given ethnic group falls far below the national average. This problem is showcased among Latin American immigrants and is present in the Muonge, Vietnamese and Chinese new comers and others. Schools need to remove those who have been seduced by the gang subculture. Gang members can be schooled elsewhere, preferably under strict discipline. Good students need not be corrupted by the youthful criminals.

    Our urban poor, regardless of color, are subject in many instances to an anti-meritocratic culture that rewards poor choices. In the inner city African American community the problem has become endemic. Bill Cosby has spoken on this matter many times, “Buy hooked on phonics, not $200 sneakers.” To do well in school is to ‘act white.’ Scholastic achievement is actively discouraged by the community that would benefit the most from it.

    Such attitudes are present in other communities as well and cannot be overcome by I-Pads, laptops and in-focus machines. Such attitudes cannot be overcome by even the most fearless and gifted teachers. This is a job for parents. This is about personal accountability. This is about realizing that there is a future for anyone who is willing to sacrifice now, in order to prosper later. This is the essence of the American Dream.

    We have created an underclass in this country, it started on the plantation and now has become racially diverse and moved into the inner city. This is vile.

    Ron Speakman, Mike Chapman and Verne Dickerson at April 26 debate
    I have a full plate today so no full “report” on last night’s debate, but will put down some random thoughts below and invite all who are interested to comment. (Photos by Matt Vecchio added at bottom of post).

    Main impression: All three candidates – Ron Speakman, Mike Chapman and Verne Dickerson – presented themselves well, spoke cogently, and provided a couple hours of interesting, civil discussion before a packed conference room. I don’t know how many people but it was probably in the neighborhood of 100+ with standing room only … the photos may give a better idea. Anyway, it was the best-attended and most substantive local political event not conducted under party auspices in at least a couple years (based on personal experience). Nice work by the organizers!

    Impressions of the candidates – in the order they were sitting:

    Ron Speakman: Best public speaker of the three; he was the only one who had actual applause lines. He made some good points about management at the Sheriff’s Office – why DO they have so many deputies manning the metal detector? One of his challenges was to tell how his extensive stretch of time in the business world would translate to being a good sheriff, and I think he did that well by referring to the inherent, unique difficulties of being at the top of any large organization. His proposed “self-deportation” solution to illegal alien crime is unique and has rightfully received a good amount of discussion. OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT: Prior to the debate, I had heard from people who follow law enforcement issues that Ron’s numbers regarding the increases in various types of crime in Loudoun County may need to be fine tuned. He referenced a fair amount of data and I could not judge how much of it was accurate – he was corrected on one point by one of the other candidates. He seems to be a very clear-thinking individual and I would like to feel certain that his information has been double-checked.

    Mike Chapman: One of his strongest arguments is the importance of recent service in law enforcement and experience in various levels from local to international, and he made it well; in the answers to a few questions he pointed out innovations of the past ten years that would come into play if he was the sheriff and practices he had seen elsewhere that could apply here. His closing statement, delivered without notes, was by far the strongest. As my neighbor noted, “he seems the most confident.” Because of my caveat regarding the next candidate, Mike seems to be the one who could best walk into the Sheriff’s Office and speak the same language as the deputies, and he noted he would look to promote from within. OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT: Sometimes Mike gives the appearance of having a clearer idea of what he wants to do than he is able to communicate, and sometimes when the question only requires a 10 second answer he will try not to waste the rest of the allotted time. Plenty of public speakers do this, and they don’t need to, in my opinion; there are probably coaches who say otherwise. Most of his law enforcement experience is beyond the local level which connotes both positives and negatives.

    Verne Dickerson: On the difficult question of “what would you do to address youth crime?” he was the only one who had a really substantive answer – involving new programs, one in collaboration with retired athletes. Though soft-spoken, Verne projects that he knows what he is talking about, has a quiet confidence that I would imagine deputies would pick up on – he seems like a reticent public speaker but when he speaks he is articulate and makes perfect sense. For every question his response indicated he was competent to handle that issue. OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT: He needs to explain exactly what the deal is with Mark Davis (candidate who dropped out and is now supporting Verne, and brings the “recent, local experience” element). Unless I am missing something, I think Verne still has to spell out whatever the position is that Mark will hold, because otherwise the combining of resumes is confusing. As with Mike Chapman, Verne has to really explain the positive aspects of bringing experience primarily from other levels – in Verne’s case, FBI.

    Photos of the individual candidates are by Loudoun County’s own renaissance man, Matt Vecchio of the Loudoun Times Mirror. Thanks, Matt!

    Verne Dickerson, photo by Matt Vecchio

    Ron Speakman, photo by Matt Vecchio

    Mike Chapman, photo by Matt Vecchio

    Related to yesterday’s post on the matrix of lies: it may be sealed off so tightly in some areas that it is too late for reason to penetrate, and the “green” scam is a prime example. We already shut down the last U.S. factory manufacturing incandescent bulbs, last year.

    And today: news that those “green” CFL bulbs are poisonous even before you break them and need a hazmat suit just to clean up the mess. They are, it turns out, carcinogenic from the moment you turn them on:

    Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin’s Alab Laboratory, said: “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment….”

    Andreas Kirchner, of the Federation of German Engineers, said: “Electrical smog develops around these lamps.

    This is apart from the fact that CFL bulbs don’t dim well and are extremely annoying to try and read by – prime headache material. My advice is go to the Dollar Store, early and often, and buy normal light bulbs until they are all gone. That’s the short term plan. The long term plan has to do more with overthrowing the government than shopping.

    What if because of the way our brains work and the time pressure of everyday life we end up believing a distorted picture of reality? It would be something like a “matrix of lies” that forms among us, within our shared perception of the world, simply because assenting is the path of least resistance.

    The idea came up while I was working on the next blog post, which addresses a case of untruthfulness by a local candidate for office, and while conversing recently with friends who seem under the influence of strong drugs. There has always been a conundrum for me when I encounter otherwise reasonable people who appear to believe demonstrably wrong things.

    A World Of Lies That We Build For Ourselves

    It is not breaking new ground to note the essential malleability and social genesis of social reality. Ideas constitute reality because they are shared; ideas are shaped by words; therefore, skillful manipulation with words can affect the reality we perceive. Because our brains function in part by categorizing information so we do not have to discover anew every iteration of a data point, we are predisposed to consign as much data as possible into “taken for granted” status. We want to take as much as possible at face value and move on to the next piece of information, and therefore we are susceptible to both ideology and gossip. (For a great, concise explanation of how ideology works, get Berger and Luckmann’s little book, The Social Construction of Reality).

    So in addition to the top-down machinations of advertising, media propaganda, government misinformation, etc., there is the grassroots BS that seems to arise from among us and gains traction through our daily interaction with each other. Of course, from all sources it all blends together because reality is the sum total of billions of conversations and fragments of thought ongoing 24 hours a day, but since this is a short blog post rather than a large book we’ll skip the social-psychological breakdown. Let’s just posit being surrounded by lies, from the mayor who tells us the monorail will solve our problems to the neighbors who say Mr. Shipman in the corner house talks too much.

    My focus today is not so much on the substance of lies – specific falsehoods or types of deception (two more excellent topics for the large book) – but the manner of lying. To understand why sane people talk crazy, we need to understand not just bad information but bad faith – wrong ways of thinking unacknowledged to ourselves; habits of thought that lead to an inaccurate view of the world around us, which we accept because it’s less work than to do otherwise.

    A Learned Behavior

    Just as through living in the same communities and watching the same TV shows we learned how to use “like” as a synonym for “said,” we also learn efficient rhetorical tactics for parrying inconvenient truths.

    • From the age of reason onward, we know that stating a basic falsehood can be a tactic worth trying; examples being “I am too sick to go to school” or “I did not have sex with that woman.”
    • We also learn early in life that if we don’t like what someone is telling us we can say “you’re an idiot” or “you’re a bigot” and be done with it (ad hominem fallacy).
    • To lend credence to a dubious proposition, it is often useful to attribute it to many other people and/or to people who are considered experts in such matters: “Everyone knows Mr. Shipman is a motormouth, including my brother the motivational speaker.” (appeal to the majority or appeal to authority).
    • A common tactic of deception among the sophisticated set is to deflect the argument by suggesting a widely-accepted societal or metaphysical value is under attack – a form of red herring fallacy that can be called the “sanctimony” argument: “I cannot believe you would impugn the Polish people by suggesting that I, Joseph Budzinski, ate all the pierogies!”
    • Another cutting edge tactic for the postmodern age is, appropriately, non-argument: Simply sidestep any opposing view by implying it has already been disproven and now requires only simple ridicule tactics such as derision or “scare quotes” to deflect. Riffing off C.S. Lewis, I call this the “flippancy” form of (non)argument: “This so-called ‘income tax’ you accuse me of owing frightens me even less than your gun and your badge, so I would appreciate you leaving my doorstep forthwith, sir.”

    The Danger Of Uncritical Thinking

    Because of the uncritical bias of the human mind, any of these types of arguments or non-arguments has the potential to become conventional wisdom if allowed to saturate a segment of popular culture. This is how we end up with wacky stuff like poisonous products from China, which have little “green” logos on the packaging and therefore are allowed to close down entire U.S. industries. It’s how monorails get built.

    This is also how “narratives” form. A narrative is a lie, repeated consistently, intended to mask or deflect attention from an objective fact. Some bozo traverses the country showing Powerpoints with hurricane damage juxtaposed with factories and pretty soon we’re all forced to buy poisonous light bulbs. Refer to a public figure as an extremist or put their ideas in scare quotes often enough and you can affix a monkey to their back. When Mr. Shipman decides to run for mayor, his opponent’s campaign slogan is “I Listen To You.”

    The primary downside to the narrative is that people might abandon their own better judgment to buy into a safe-yet-wrong position. Maybe the old light bulbs were superior. Perhaps Mr. Shipman would have been the best mayor.

    But we live in a lazy culture where the affectation of argument can suffice, often to our own detriment. By taking the path of least resistance we help construct the matrix of lies around ourselves. Regarding my conundrum about smart people saying dumb things, the explanation isn’t that they are bad people but that their habitual way of thinking about certain topics renders them unable to tell the truth, even to themselves.

    Case Study: A Blogger In The Matrix

    In too much of what passes for public debate nowadays, sanctimony and flippancy are the first recourse of witless liars. An unintentionally hysterical example of this can be found in a recent post by a local blogger, who I happen to know is very intelligent yet like any of us is prone to uncritical thinking when it comes to the conventional wisdom.

    At the end of the fourth paragraph in this post, about a protest outside the last LCRC meeting, the blogger insinuates that a protester’s use of the term “Islamic Supremacist” is evidence of religious bigotry.

    Three paragraphs later, however, in referring to what the blogger apparently considers a superior approach taken by the Obama administration, he uses the term “radical Islamism” to describe the exact same phenomenon – without the slightest hint of irony nor any admission by the blogger that religious bigotry could also be a factor in his own case.

    I suppose there could be some people who might try to make the case that using the description “Islamic Supremacist” is clearly bigoted, while the term “radical Islamism” is purely technical, but such an argument would not pass the laugh test for anyone with half a brain – including, I am certain, the blogger himself.

    Now I don’t want to be overly critical of an unpaid blogger who ultimately is guilty of little worse than a) buying into a narrative and b) lacking a proofreader, but the example is instructive. The blogger was so blinded by the sanctimonious fallacy that “opposition to Islamic extremism equals religious bigotry” that he flippantly lobbed a public accusation of bigotry at a man he did not even know and who had stated his motivation had nothing to do with religion. The fact that the writer, in endeavoring to expand his discussion, found himself needing to refer to the exact same phenomenon as the protester and, well, had to use SOME kind of terminology to do so, was not so much a Freudian slip as an example of how mental laxity causes us to be unfair to others as well as to ourselves.

    Conclusion: Piercing The Matrix

    Many of us know that when you are debating an issue with someone who attempts to deflect the discussion with some sort of deceptive argument, you have to attack the deflection in order to address the original issue. If I come to your party bringing greetings from the Polish people, ask for my credentials while you hide the pierogies. If someone tries to silence a discussion about the difficult issue of “extremism” by forcing a detour into “freedom of worship,” it’s time to call BS on the hijacker.

    Most importantly, we have to remember to question our own assumptions as well as those of the people around us, even when it takes time and effort to do so. Just because something is taken for granted does not mean it’s the truth.

    Our friends at www.nova-tea.com have lined up an impressive figure from the conservative blogosphere … even bigger than Joe B.! 

    From their most recent email …

    Arm yourself and your family (can we still say things like that?) against the onslaught of man-made global warming…er, climate change…propaganda by attending “RIP Man-made Global Warming:  The Climate Con Has Died” this Saturday, April 30th at 10 am. 

    MoranoOur speaker, Marc Morano, recognized by media giant Tina Brown’s “Daily Beast” website as one of the Right’s top 25 journalists, broke the John Kerry Swift Boat story during the 2004 election and has since then turned his sights to man-made global warming. 

    The Daily Beast described Marc’s website, Climate Depot, as a “bustling one-stop shop for climate skeptics” and noted that Climate Depot is ‘bringing in more visitors than RedState.com, one of the most popular conservative blogs on the web.’”

    Due to his effectiveness, Morano is a hate figure on the Left.  He was named one of only five “criminals against humanity, against planet Earth itself” in 2009 by the eco-magazine Grist. (The other five “criminals” were Bjorn Lomborg, Richard Lindzen, Sen. James Inhofe and former President George Bush.)

    Marc demolishes his opponents with facts, wit, and sarcasm.  He will keep you entertained while informing you of the truth behind climate change propaganda.  Join us for an informative seminar by the man who was awarded the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) 2010 award “for courage and achievement in defense of scientific truth and freedom.”  Climate Depot was praised by the DDP for using “mockery and humor” against global warming activists. 

    Date/Time: Saturday April 30th, 10am-11:30am

    Location: Herndon Fortnightly Library

    RSVP required.  Do so here …

    http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=juco66dab&oeidk=a07e3qy5ur02a0f4650

    And here’s a sampling of Mark’s talent, unleashed upon a U.K. professor. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgPJnvgCSb4

    Don’t miss the chance to meet this guy in person!