Friday, February 21, 2014

Political Orientation and Moral Conviction

Comments on: "Political Orientation and Moral Conviction: A Conservative Advantage or an Equal Opportunity Motivator of Political Engagement?"  by Linda J. Skitka G. Scott Morgan Daniel C. Wisneski, University of Illinois at Chicago (Preprint here (PDF))

There is a paper coming out in a book edited by Joe Forgas that tends to throw Haidt's findings into a cocked hat.  Haidt found  that conservatives were more morally complex than are liberals.  Since liberals often proclaim:  "There is no such thing as right and wrong", that is not exactly a surprising finding. Liberals do nonetheless use moral language:  "Racism is wrong" etc., but I showed long ago (Ray, 1974) that they do so only as a matter of convenience.  For them it is just a device to influence others. Any such beliefs are not deeply held.

I'm critical of a few points in the introduction to the paper  -- e.g. the homage to the risible Lakoff, who confuses the diachronic  with the synchronic, but I think the big problems in the paper are methodological.  The use of meta-analyses is in principle admirable but in practice can deteriorate severely where the author has a barrow to push.  One of the better known studies in this field did to my particular knowledge omit from consideration around 100 relevant studies  -- in order to come to fairly conventional conclusions.

Another problem is  the  shotgun approach to sampling.  Lumping general population samples in the with student samples is most incautious.  The two groups often give very different results.  One one occasion I repeated a study I had dome among students using a sample of army conscripts.  A correlation of .808 among students dropped to something negligible with the more representative sample.  I never wrote that study up but I probably should have.  It was in the era when "positive" results were essential so it would probably not have been published anyway.

And I am pretty confident that something similar would have happened in the Skitka work.  The students would have given complex responses and the ordinary folk would have given much simpler responses.  So combining the two would have given you medium complexity across the board and erased Right/Left differences.  In short, I don't think Skitka & co, have made their case.

Mother Jones has however welcomed the study.  The Left like to think they are moral, despite their propensity for mass murder.


Why is the Obama Administration Putting Government Monitors in Newsrooms?

The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.

Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about "the process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover "critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."

In fact, the FCC is now expanding the bounds of regulatory powers to include newspapers, which it has absolutely no authority over, in its new government monitoring program.

The FCC has apparently already selected eight categories of “critical information” “that it believes local newscasters should cover.”

That’s right, the Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions.

This poses a monumental danger to constitutionally protected free speech and freedom of the press.

Every major repressive regime of the modern era has begun with an attempt to control and intimidate the press.

As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently said, "our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

The federal government has absolutely no business determining what stories should and should not be run, what is critical for the American public and what is not, whether it perceives a bias, and whose interests are and are not being served by the free press.

It’s an unconscionable assault on our free society.

Imagine a government monitor telling Fox News it needed to cover stories in the same way as MSNBC or Al Jazeera.  Imagine an Obama Administration official walking in to the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and telling it that the American public would be better served if it is stopped reporting on the IRS scandal or maybe that reporting on ObamaCare “glitches” is driving down enrollment.

It’s hard to imagine anything more brazenly Orwellian than government monitors in newsrooms.

Is it any wonder that the U.S. now ranks 46th in the world for freedom of the press?  Reporters Without Boarders called America’s precipitous drop of 13 places in its recent global rankings “one of the most significant declines” in freedom of the press in the world.

Freedom of the press is proudly extolled in the First Amendment, yet our nation now barely makes the top fifty for media freedom.

We cannot allow the unfathomable encroachment on our free speech and freedom of the press to continue.

We’ve seen, and defeated, this kind of attempt to squelch free speech before in the likes of the Fairness Doctrine and the Grassroots Lobbying Bill (incidentally one of my first projects at the ACLJ).  Each one of these euphemistically named government programs is nothing more than an underhanded attempt to circumvent the Constitution and limit free speech – speech that the government finds inconvenient.  They’re equally unconstitutional, and they each must be defeated.



Cruz Control?

Freshman Senator Ted Cruz says many things that need to be said and says them well. Moreover, some of these things are what many, if not most, Americans believe wholeheartedly. Yet we need to remember that the same was true of another freshman Senator, just a relatively few years ago, who parlayed his ability to say things that resonated with the voters into two terms in the White House.

 Who would disagree that if you want your doctor, you should be able to keep your doctor? Who would disagree with the idea of a more transparent administration in Washington, or a President of the United States being a uniter instead of a divider?

There are many things like this that freshman Senator Barack Obama said that the overwhelming majority of Americans -- whether liberal or conservative -- would agree with. The only problem is that what he has actually done as President has repeatedly turned out to be the direct opposite of what he said as a candidate.

Senator Ted Cruz has not yet reached the point where he can make policy, rather than just make political trouble. But there are already disquieting signs that he is looking out for Ted Cruz -- even if that sets back the causes he claims to be serving.

Those causes are not being served when Senator Cruz undermines the election chances of the only political party that has any chance of undoing the disasters that Barack Obama has already inflicted on the nation -- and forestalling new disasters that are visible on the horizon.

ObamaCare is not just an issue about money or even an issue about something as important as medical care. ObamaCare represents a quantum leap in the power of the federal government over the private lives of individual Americans.

Chief Justice Roberts' decision declaring ObamaCare constitutional essentially repeals the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which declares that powers not given to the federal government belong to the states "or to the people."

That central support of personal freedom has now been removed. The rest of the structure may not last very long, now that the Obama administration is busy quietly dismantling other bulwarks against the unbridled power of the government in general, and the unbridled power of the presidency in particular.

The Federal Communications Commission, for example, is already floating the idea of placing observers in newspaper editorial offices to "study" how decisions are made there. Nothing in the Constitution grants the FCC this dangerous power, nor is there any legislation authorizing any such activity.

But what the federal government can do is not dependent on what the Constitution authorizes it to do or what Congressional legislation gives them the power to do.

The basic, brutal reality is that the federal government can do whatever it wants to do, if nobody stops them. The Supreme Court's ObamaCare decision shows that we cannot depend on them to protect our freedom. Nor will Congress, as long as the Democrats control the Senate.

The most charitable interpretation of Ted Cruz and his supporters is that they are willing to see the Republican Party weakened in the short run, in hopes that they will be able to take it over in the long run, and set it on a different path as a more purified conservative party.

Like many political ideas, this one is not new. It represents a political strategy that was tried long ago -- and failed long ago.

In the German elections of 1932, the Nazi party received 37 percent of the vote. They became part of a democratically elected coalition government, in which Hitler became chancellor. Only step by step did the Nazis dismantle democratic freedoms and turn the country into a complete dictatorship.

The political majority could have united to stop Hitler from becoming a dictator. But they did not unite. They fought each other over their differences. Some figured that they would take over after the Nazis were discredited and defeated.

Many who plotted this clever strategy died in Nazi concentration camps. Unfortunately, so did millions of others.

What such clever strategies overlook is that there can be a point of no return. We may be close to that point of no return, not only with ObamaCare, but also with the larger erosion of personal freedom, of which ObamaCare is just the most visible part.



Obama(S)care: Con Artists and Criminals in Charge

Question: If Obamacare officials cannot prevent accused embezzlers from infiltrating their offices, how can they protect enrollees from grifters, con artists and thieves in the federal health insurance exchange system?

Here in my home state, a director of Connect for Health Colorado — the state-sponsored Obamacare health insurance exchange — was just put on administrative leave. No, Christa Ann McClure did not go on leave over the chronic problems plaguing the cursed Connect for Health website. She's on leave because she has been indicted for filching funds from her last employer in Montana.

No, the guardians of Obamacare didn't smoke her out on their own. McClure 'fessed up only after the local Billings (Mont.) Gazette newspaper reported on the charges against her. She was indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 16. But her current state government employers did not find out until last week, when McClure finally informed them because the press had published the indictment.

The Keystone Kops of the Colorado health exchange tell us they conducted "thorough" background checks of McClure. They say they "fully vetted" and investigated her references when they hired her last March for her six-figure job helming the state Obamacare office of "partner engagement." Colorado officials say she was "well-qualified" for the Obamacare job, which involves being a "liaison" with other government agencies.

But mum's the word on who recommended her, which references they talked to and who in Colorado Democratic circles might have known about her history in Montana.

The 12-page federal indictment is a blood-boiling document outlining government waste, fraud and abuse in the federal affordable housing racket. The feds say McClure siphoned untold amounts of money from the nonprofit group Housing Montana, which received a half-million-dollar federal grant to build homes for poor people.

McClure allegedly was paying herself "significant sums" for bogus "consulting services" while also taking a full-time salary as executive director of the nonprofit. She is accused of raiding the organization's funds for family expenses, personal travel and a laptop and lying to the IRS to obtain false reimbursements.

She further defrauded the government by inflating her unused sick and annual leave hours. The feds say she also bilked Montana homeowners who participated in the federal affordable housing program by charging them for a fake $750 warranty and a $1,000 fee for "leasing tools."

Here's another disturbing fact: In a classic dance of the lemons, McClure had bounced around successfully from government-funded job to job until now. The Montana state auditor's office disclosed last week that McClure had managed three grants worth more than $2 million to implement Obamacare in that state. McClure worked on the project for three years at an annual salary of $98,000. She was "responsible for managing a broad range of contracts and making sure they got delivered on time," according to The Billings Gazette.

I'd like to be able to tell you that she'll never work in another Obamacare job again. But take a look at California. Just a few weeks ago, Jillian Kay Melchior reported in National Review that "at least 43 convicted criminals are working as Obamacare navigators in California, including three individuals with records of significant financial crimes." The crimes include forgery, petty theft, shoplifting, welfare fraud, child abuse and evading an officer.



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1 comment:

Robert said...

The Obama regime now pursues the second step of all totalitarian regimes, controlling the press (the first step being controlling health care, to seize direct power of life and death over everyone). This regime has got to be stopped, now, while it's still possible. November cannot arrive soon enough to sweep out as many Democrat Senators whose only loyalty is to their left-wing extremist faction, and replace them with people who will actually respect and enforce the Constitution, especially if impeachment becomes necessary, which it likely will.

As for the risible Lakoff, Rush says it well whenever he mentions that name: "...Lakoff, rhymes with...", and leaving it at that, never actually saying, "jack off".