Monday, September 1, 2014

Beware the S'More! Government Guidelines on Cooking Marshmallows

One of government's legitimate roles is to protect the people of the US. However, by today's definitions of "protection," the federal government has clearly overstepped it boundaries by wasting taxpayer money on huge bureaucracies, staffed by thousands of employees who sit around trying to justify their jobs by producing reports, memos, guidelines, and regulations.

Nothing is quite so odious about our federal government than the legions of bureaucrats who become petty aristocrats, ruling their fiefdoms by imposing regulation on top of regulation.

Obamacare is a quintessential example of what happens when the bureaucracy rules. Through Obamacare, the federal government mandates regulations and taxes on health insurance companies. Those, in turn, create bureaucracies of regulation, interference, and general mucking around with the system, which in turn increases costs and decreases efficiency.

If the bureaucracy hasn't quite caught up to the cost increases, we'll certainly see that down the road a bit as the medical insurance system drags health care practice down to the speed of its ever-growing bureaucracy, roughly to that of a dry slug on a hot sidewalk.

We should also be concerned with the ever-growing nanny state mentality within the federal government. This stems first from bureaucrats who have nothing better to do than to think of new problems to solve, or to create new regulations to enforce.

One example comes from the USDA.

A groups of bureaucrats, sitting somewhere in USDA offices, are tasked with writing blogs to inform people about useless warnings. I was pointed to one of my friends to one of these USDA blogs. Apparently, my friend has no other life than to read USDA blogs?

At any rate, the blog from the USDA pointed out the dangers of roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. Yes, of course, the biggest danger to the blogger was inherent in eating marshmallows. You know, all that sugar just packed into marshmallows isn't good for children. It goes on to suggest substituting the chocolate with pineapple slices, to substituting marshmallows with marshmallow spread (to control the amount), or to slice a banana and sprinkle tiny chocolate chips on top instead of serving s'mores.


You know, I'm fine with the idea of parents cutting down the amount of sugar our children eat. I'm fine with the idea that parents teach children how to be safe around campfires. (I learned how to be safe around campfires by burning a hole in my foot.)

But part of our tax dollars are spent to pay the salaries of bureaucrats who sit around all day trying to justify their own jobs by making up blogs on the virtues of replacing the chocolate in s'mores with warm pineapple.

And that, in a nutshell, is precisely what is wrong with having our federal government grow so large. There is nothing in any constitutional mandate or government law that can justify the salaries of USDA bloggers.

And I'm having doubts about justifying the salaries of the members of Congress who create these bureaucrats.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Liberalism Causes Mental Illness

Years ago, I first learned that several different groups of people - Marxist sociologists, English professors, psychologists, progressives, modern liberals, feminists, born again atheists, and some guy named Terrence from New York - started to toy with the idea that religion is a mental illness. I'd heard the idea before. It isn't all that new of a phenomenon, beginning as a means for nihilistic philosophers to explain away beliefs which they could never understand, by condemning the vast majority of people who they could never understand. (Nihilistic philosophers include but are certainly not limited to people like Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and the whole school of critical theorists.)

For example, take this article from Psychology Today where the author claims he isn't arguing that religious people are insane, but "merely pointing out that the same belief is either sacred or a sign of mental illness depending on the context in which it is believed." Which means something like "you believe what you want to, but your belief in God sure looks crazy to me."

Given the climate of pointing the insanity finger, I wasn't terribly surprised to find a couple of "news" articles broadening the leftist meme past the point of absurdity. One such story questions the mental stability of those who aren't convinced about the evidence pointing to human-caused global warming. In a paper by a University of Oregon professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, Kari Marie Norgaard, she presented the following synopsis:
Existing scientific conversations have generally failed to include psychological understanding of individual behavior, or sociological insights regarding culture and social organization. This session highlights key psychological and sociological concepts essential to understanding social inaction.
This academic-speak gibberish basically points to a research paper in which "she argues that 'cultural resistance' to accepting the premise that humans are responsible for climate change 'must be recognized and treated' as an aberrant sociological behavior." In a word, climate change skepticism is now a mental illness. (Well, I suppose you could argue that the mental illness comes from trying to figure out how "global warming" suddenly became "global climate change." Hint: The data didn't fit the conclusion.)

Now it looks as though some researchers are trying to find the root of the "problem" of conservatism itself. In a paper published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the authors propose that "low effort thought promotes political conservatism." Their conclusion?
These data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.
While the authors go to pains to say that there may indeed be thinking conservatives (of course, they've never met any), their conclusion uses academic-speak to try to prove that conservatives are stupid by default. (Their argument, by the way, begs the question. Their premises are based on the assumption that conservatives are stupid, therefore their conclusions inevitably conclude that conservatives are stupid.) (A lot of lefties use this type of argument.)

The authors do admit that conservatives may have a psychological advantage, that is, until they start to think. Then, the authors note, conservatives may have to give up their position in favor of the liberal view.

These "mad" forays into conservative psychoanalysis do add up to only one conclusion: liberalism causes mental illness. Since liberals keep arguing these untenable and silly ideas, they've succeeded in driving the rest of the world crazy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Most Troubling Modern Trends of Modern Liberalism

I've often thought about what ideals in modern liberalized society bug me the most. Of course, modern liberalism or progressivism is the driving factor for change, and therefore for the direction of social mores. What is it about modern progressive thought that seems so wrong? Thinking through this question, I find one common theme that points to systemic problems with progressive dogma. This is the philosophical fallacy of relativism.

This ideal is fundamental to progressing thought. Relativism stems from the early Greek sophists. It is the belief that different individuals and groups of people can have different standards for how to act. On the surface, this seems an obvious and plausible explanation of reality. However, relativism isn't a mere observation, it is an idea which guides action; it is a means to an end.

The relativism from the sophists raises an important moral problem. If there is no right or wrong way to act or behave, what is to keep some people from imposing their beliefs on others? If any action is valid, where is the moral anchor for society?

The main problem with relativism is its duplicity. Within its philosophy lies an inherent double standard between what a relativist may believe and how a relativist behaves. (I'm not the first, or only one to see the inherent double standard of relativist thought. Even the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy notes the inherent duplicity of relativism.)

Relativism is fallacious, precisely because of its inherent duplicity. It simply cannot serve as a means to produce an end because those who control the means cannot, by definition, live by their own standards.

What does the bankrupt philosophy of relativism have to do with modern progressive dogma? Everything.

Constitutional Interpretation
Modern progressive dogma insists that the US Constitution is a living document, that it can and must be interpreted according to modern mores. More importantly, it must follow progressive dogma at all costs, even if the Constitution itself doesn't support such an interpretation. In short, progressives feel they can ignore the Constitution at whim, unless, of course, it serves their ideology to stick to it.

If the Constitution is a living document, then the federal government could assume all sorts of power not written into the Constitution. This is a dangerous trend because the government could, for example, take money from the richest half of people and spread the wealth around. It could take over private corporations, like car companies, and force them to make crappy cars that no one wants to buy. It could meddle with the production and distribution of energy to the point where no one could afford to drive to work. It could borrow trillions of dollars and bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy. It could order the assassination of US citizens without due process. It could start wars without actually declaring a war. It could make illegal exchanges with terrorists. It could even rewrite existing Obamacare law.

Oh wait. Those have already happened. So much for Constitutional integrity.

Social Nihilism
Modern progressive dogma, relying on relativism, gave birth to the doctrine of "if it feels good, do it," and the "me generation." With such dogmas, anything an individual does or thinks may be valid. The duplicity of this position arises when someone actually does or thinks something outside of progressive dogma. Then, the progressive double standard rises up to stamp out the "injustice."

Some examples:
If Bill Maher calls women the most vile and offensive names, progressives laugh and call him brilliant. If Rush Limbaugh calls a woman a slut who admitted having sex with a lot of men, he is censured, attempts are made to throw him off the air, he receives death threats, and the LA city council votes that free speech isn't really free.

If a gay activists call Jack Phillips (who owns a Colorado bakery) the most vile and offensive names because of his beliefs about traditional marriage, the activists are hailed as a defenders of justice and equality. If Jack Phillips states that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, he is sued, publicly humiliated, and his private business comes under the control of the state.

If a Black man shoots and kills another Black man, the media treats the incident as a statistic, largely ignored. If a policeman man shoots and kills a black man, the media and Al Sharpton descend on the scene to stir up civil unrest and riots.

If a woman calls her child a "group of cells" and aborts it, progressives applaud her courageous decision. If a church dares to call the "group of cells" a child, the church, all its members, and any institutions the church may support are all ridiculed, brought under political pressure, or forced to shut down, despite the constitutional 1st Amendment guaranteeing the right to free exercise of religion.

Political Correctness
The other day, I was talking with one of my students about fossil fuels. She immediately stated the mainline, progressive meme, saying how evil fossil fuels were for causing global warming. After talking with her a bit more, I realized that she had absolutely no idea about the modern problems of energy production, but had learned only the politically correct meme about global warming. She had no idea about what fossil fuels were, how they were made, or how we get them out of the ground. She insisted that electric cars could save us from global warming until I explained that most electricity is made by burning fossil fuels. She had no idea of the inefficiencies of converting energy from the wind or the sun, and how much energy it requires to produce such inefficient energy producers. She was scared spitless with the idea of nuclear power and was shocked to discover that a good portion of the electricity in the Phoenix, Arizona valley comes from the local nuclear plant.

My student had learned nothing of how the world works from her time spent in high school. She had, however, learned the dogma pervading K-12 textbooks. In a word, the progressive insistence on inculcating politically correct ideals into young students has produced an ignorant population, dependent on ideals rather than ideas.

Where's the double standard? Progressives teach that those who don't believe as they do are stupid, while progressive dogma perpetrates ignorance of the highest order.

Modern sophistry, the ideology of the left, maintains a double standard which, due to its own dogma, it cannot see. Modern progressives then turn around and condemn others with opposing views for not having the same "standards" as their own. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Sure-Fire Litmus Test to Identify Modern Liberalism

Modern liberalism pretends to the ideals of tolerance and equality. Yet modern liberalism can be identified, without fail, by its intolerance of religion. Modern liberalism cannot abide religion, especially Christianity, because religion competes ideologically with leftist liberal dogma. Modern liberalism can always be identified, and its most harmful doctrines exposed, by simply looking at how much modern liberals condemn religion.

As a sure-fire litmus test of modern liberal ideals, you can know with complete certainty that any of its doctrines is one-hundred and eighty degrees from reality by asking the simple question: "Does this ideal inspire liberals to condemn religion?"

Note that many churches have caved into the expediency of political correctness. The attacks I mention are against religion in general, not against many individual Christian churches, although some churches such as the Catholic Church or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do come under fire because they, out of all of Christianity, maintain competing doctrines against leftist ideals.

Here are a few cases in point:

Abortion is a major component of modern liberal dogma. There are fewer rabid humans in the world than feminists defending their sacred right to kill babies in the seductive guise of women's "choice." Inevitably, any discussion of the life of a fetus is met with anti-religious rhetoric.

For example, Joy Behar, of the TV show The View, said this about a Virginia law to require women to have an ultrasound when considering whether or not to have an abortion: "It's like, what are we? What is this, the Taliban now? What are we, in Afghanistan? Where are we exactly in this country?" (Ah yes - the old plea to demonize religion into its most abhorrent forms in order to shame religious people into being more "tolerant.")

A blogger put it this way: "The "pro-life" movement's drive to save babies has no noble purpose, because the real goals are to bring more souls to Jesus, punish women, and stamp out pleasure." (Because abortion is such a pleasure? Or maybe the pleasure comes from uninhibited hedonism with no consequences?)

Many modern liberals ultimately resort to slogans such as "the Bible: a book written by sheep for sheep." (Because blindly following leftist dogma is so much more enlightening?)

Same sex marriage is another modern liberal doctrine that has little room for tolerance of opposing viewpoints. After Proposition 8 passed in California, constitutionally defining marriage as between a man and a woman, gay activists went on the rampage - not against the vast majority of Blacks who overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 8 - but against, you guessed it, the Catholics and the Mormons.

One video went so far as to depict Mormon missionaries as Gestapo-like, barging into peoples' homes to demand that they vote against gay marriage. The liberalized campaign succeeded in demonizing the Mormons, and religion in general, because modern liberal ideals can only succeed through the subversion of religion.

In another highly publicized ordeal that occurred just around the brouhaha of Proposition 8, the left brutalized Miss California Carrie Prejean, for her honest answer to the loaded question of whether or not she supported same sex marriage. She stated, in the Miss America pageant, that she believed marriage was between a man and a woman. The outcry and furor came swiftly, ruining her career. (From the reaction of the gay activists, you'd think that she'd confessed to being a cannibalistic version of Hitler.) She was excoriated for her views (there were Facebook hate sites dedicated to her) but what also suffered under the wrath of modern liberals was her religion.

We can find anti-religious rhetoric among the secular community. Of course secularism condemns religion in general, but the truly converted secularists, the Born Again Atheists, attack religion with all the zeal of the true fanatic. These are the atheists who cannot leave religion alone and who simply cannot abide living in the same world with people who are religious.

As one blogger noted: "Religious nuts just rang my doorbell and woke me up. I wanted to kill them. Instead, I said 'May Satan be with you.' Then slammed the door." (That'll teach them for "pushing" religion in his face!)

Or, how about this gem complaining about Christians celebrating Christmas: "[It's] the time of year when religious f$^k nuts come out of the wood work with their complete lack of education and further prove their stupidity by complaining about things they have no clue about." (By the way, foul language is endemic to leftist dogma. Having no moral base, modern liberals turn to the lowest common denominator of poor language to prove their sophistication.)

As a last example, take the success over the popular Broadway Musical, The Book of Mormon Musical. Religion, especially religion attached to organized religion - widely perceived as cannon fodder for liberal jokes - is thoroughly debased by the creators of the stupid and nihilistic cartoon South Park. Full of vulgarity (endemic to leftist thought, remember?) and juvenile jokes about Mormon beliefs, this musical appeals to the basest desires to demonize someone, anyone, in the name of political correctness. We can't make fun of Blacks or women or terrorists or perverts or gays or animal activists or porn stars or anyone on the liberal empowerment propaganda team, but liberals can at least make fun of a people who generally happen to believe their religion (and who are at the top of the hit list among many practicing Christians).

And that is the true nature of leftist dogma. Religion must be subverted in order for modern liberalism to thrive because, when held up side-by-side in a fair comparison, liberals know that their doctrine is morally bankrupt nihilism that cannot stand up under close scrutiny, nor under the ideals of consistent moralism. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Blog At All?

Why I Started Blogging:
(You can skip this and head right to the main idea for the day. I won't mind.)
I've blogged on and off again for six years if, for no other reason, than to clarify all the thoughts that keep company with my brain. I blog because I find the direction of politics and society in general quite disturbing, and I wish to contribute what I can to clarify and promote those ideals which lead us to choose better paths.

I have little desire anymore to blog about the general news (usually bad) or to address every silly whim promoted by society (also usually bad). Instead, I write about such unpopular subjects as morals, ethics, absolutes, and the lessons that I've learned. To leftists, yes, I'm still the bigoted, homophobic, racist, misogynist, H8er that you think I am. To the rest of the world, I'm just a guy with some ideas about how to live a better life than to give in to the sophistic relativism and specious reasoning that plagued the Greeks and which plague today's modern society.

Thank you all for finding my blog and for those who have stuck by me over the years.

The Main Idea:
Awhile ago, I attended an all-faculty meeting at the university where I still teach part time. By some strange and unexpected turn of events, I attended a session of faculty exploring the newest theories and ideas about critical thinking. I say this was unusual because the concepts of "critical thinking" at the university level usually include the latest means of indoctrinating students into leftist dogma - including promoting the socialist ideals of command economy, hedonism, and groupthink. 

Yet, as I sat in that presentation, I realized that all of the presenters were different from the usual group of sophists which tend to occupy university teaching positions. This group had ideals based on very concrete religious concepts, and which valued absolute ideals rather than relative values. Instead of clinging to modern leftist dogma, the panel of presenters were free to ask real questions about how to best help students learn. (I know! What a concept, right?) They formulated arguments without relying on the faulty premises that seem so prevalent in university curriculums across the Western world.

In fact, they could look at all sorts of ideas in order to present solutions to solve the problems of the dumbing down of American students. And these came not in spite of their religious ideals but, and this is the kicker, because of their religious ideals.

I learned a lot from those women and men who presented their ideas on critical thinking that day. The most important of which is this: metacognition (how we think about thinking) is best served when we understand, and hold, those ideals which ground us in reality. Those who claim to have no such ideals or those who claim to be above such ideals, just as the sophists of old, have no basis from which to avoid the faulty premises and conclusions of modern thought.

With its faulty premises, modern leftist dogomas can never come to correct conclusions.