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Author: Briggs

July 6, 2018 | 29 Comments

Manufacturing Hate: Manipulating The Masses To Incite Revolution — Guest Post by Jim Fedako

Last Saturday I went on a quest to find the source of rising leftist hatred. I wanted to get behind the facades fronting websites and Facebook posts, as well as the provocative clickbait that covers the edges of browser pages. I needed to get inside the movement — the Petrograd Soviet, so to speak — to hear the Bolsheviki recite Marx, shout slogans, and call for worldwide revolution.

While I consider politics the genesis of coercion and compulsion, I am drawn to the machinations that make up the political process. Since I like to hear from all sources, I subscribe to emails from leftist organizations (and right ones as well), including ProgressOhio, whose website states it is the state’s leading progressive organization. A while back, they sent an email inviting subscribers to a We are Progress training summit hosted by Generation Progress, the youth outreach arm of the Center for American Progress (things get murky when you try to put all the organizations together). The summit included speakers from various other Ohio organizations (most small, flying well under the radar, so to speak). I decided to attend to find the source of hatred, expecting there would be calls for blood in the streets.

After I entered the meeting, sat down, and observed, I found the assumed agitators reserved and reasonable, with no revolution proposed. The hate was, for the most part, nonexistent. In fact, I empathized with many of the speakers. Sure their means were wrong, but their ends made some sense. Let me explain.

The summit was small, close to 50 attendees, with at least half being speakers or other members of the various organizations represented. Most were young and clean cut. A very ordinary crowd for an event held on a community college campus. During one session, local Ohio organizations were allowed 15 minutes to present their current agendas. The first organization to speak was Planned Parenthood, who subdued their vile inclinations and simply called for a national sexual education curriculum, never mentioning what their wicked curriculum would entail.

Next up was a speaker from the Ohio Environmental Council, seeking support for legislation to mandate that entities wanting to frack have sufficient funds for post-fracking cleanup. He also wanted legislation to force farms to reduce runoff to protect lakes and waterways. I did not find his ends to be offensive. Sure, while his means were off, his ends were reasonable (i.e. less pollution). Any disparity between means and ends could be easily rectified, assuming the leaders of the council were willing to read Rothbard’s, “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution.”1

Then things got a little weird. The speaker for the People’s Justice Project noted that, five times a day, she “centered” herself on her commitment to “independent black power,” leading the audience in a chant of, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” However, her passion was reducing mass incarceration. To that end, she wanted simple drug possession reduced to a misdemeanor from a felony. I agreed, not with the chant that channeled Assata Shakur and Karl Marx, but with any retreat from the so-called war on drugs.

Finally, the last speaker pleaded for donations to his organization that assists refugees relocating to Cleveland. He took a jab at the Trump administration, but it was only half-hearted. I found him to be a committed advocate for others. No revolutionary here, either.

This is the left of my youth, sincerely committed, yet misguided. It is the left that directed my steps when registering as a conscientious objector back in the 1980s. It is the left that desires change, but mistakenly sees more government as the solution. A left that rejects private property, but only because it doesn’t understand the moral and ethical principles underpinning private ownership, though it generally respects self-ownership (not including Planned Parenthood, of course). A left that challenges authority more than it desires collectivism. It is, to continue the analogy from above, the Russian workers in the soviets, soldiers on the lines or in the garrisons, and the peasants in the fields, seeking an end to the war, yet being driven toward revolution.

So what is inspiring the growing hate from the left?

As I allude to above, the speakers came from various small entities, all tied together by ProgressOhio and its nefarious, associated organizations. If you follow those organizations backwards, you find they are funded by, or associated with, other entities and individuals. As you go back farther and deeper, you begin to encounter the same names over and over again. It is as if a vanguard exists — an elite cadre akin to Lenin’s view of the role of the Bolshevik Party, agitating all toward revolution. A vanguard that guides disparate groups, such as those at the summit, into collective action.

Unlike the Russian soldiers, workers, and peasants, who were united to end the war, there is no obvious unifying theme among the grassroots organizations at the summit. Why does an environmentalist care about the struggles of recent refugees? So a theme must be created, which appears to be, from my observations, a combination of anti-Trumpism and pro LGBTQ slogans. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.

The speakers I heard were not fomenting revolution — individually. Yet, they are unknowingly being directed from above to foment revolution collectively. A powerful alliance is manufacturing hate and manipulating opinions. This cabal, which cares nothing about the environment, mass incarceration, refugees, or even the LGBTQ community, is seducing the sincere, but misguided, perverting their actions from holding rational discussions at summits to manning barricades in the street. It is an insidious force that generates hate through propaganda, converting the interesting and pleasant souls at the summit into vile spectres, seeking the blood of anyone who dares resist the planks of the manifesto. A force that desires power over all.

I did not find the true source of leftist hate — the scheming vanguard, though I found a hint of its trail. But I did learn something important: we either endeavor to spread the truth of liberty and property to all, or I end up plaintively pleading, at the sharp end of a bayonet, to the folks manning the pickets, “Don’t you remember me? I sat next to you at the summit.”

1. This is similar to the plethora of organizations on the right, such as those united in a genuine belief that marijuana is vile and remain illegal.

July 5, 2018 | 13 Comments

Sorry Never Trumpers. God Bless President Trump & God Bless the U.S.A.

On this slowest of slow days we have a pointer to an enjoyable essay on the death of Never Trumpism by Emerald Robinson.

The Never Trumpers have self-exiled. If not converted. Those in exile still pine for a return to the Old Ways, in which they were loyal opposition, feted and consulted as the important people they knew themselves to be.

Robinson asks, “What was your favorite blunder, or blown prediction, which marked their ignominious end?” Hers was “when Bill Kristol, longtime editor of the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, showed up in New Hampshire telling people he would run against President Trump in 2020.”

Mine was when National Review put out their “Never Trump” edition. That proved what we had long suspected. That there was no difference between Democrats and Republicans or liberals and conservatives. The real divisions are between progressives and traditionalists, fantasists and realists, man worshipers and God worshipers.

The linked essay is by a NRO neocon who said “Many conservatives who oppose Trump have felt it morally imperative to declare that they will never vote for him, even if he wins the Republican nomination. They will vote instead for Hillary Clinton, or for a third-party candidate, or a write-in candidate, or no one at all.” This happened. But we recall that there is no difference between liberals and conservatives, and so it didn’t matter. Those of us on the other side of the Democratrepublican divide knew Michael Anton was right in his “The Flight 93 election,” which Robinson cites.

And now the “Never Trump intellectual crowd has no momentum and no popular following these days.” Robinson says, and we agree, though she still writes of a liberal-conservative divide, “it now seems self-evident that conservative pundits were preposterously out of touch.”

This myopia has several causes. The first is a kind of cultural “capture” that occurs when conservatives live in blue districts and big cities too long. They become, in other words, clueless (RINOS). The second reason is more obvious: many of these people are paid to be openly hostile to Trump’s agenda. The free trade absolutists at AEI and Cato are on salary to oppose any protectionist trade policies. Likewise, hawkish interventionists such as Max Boot knew they had no professional future once Trump’s isolationist instincts became policy.

Then comes her keenest observation:

The greatest disconnect is religious and cultural: the Republican Party is overwhelmingly Caucasian and Christian and traditional on social issues, while its pundits skew Jewish and agnostic and libertarian. Krauthammer wanted to have it both ways, which is not unlike the hedging that Brooks and Goldberg have displayed. George Will went so far as to say: “I’m an atheist. An agnostic is someone who is not sure. I’m pretty sure. I see no evidence of God.” Meanwhile, Gerson is a liberal Episcopalian who took to the pages of the Atlantic to attack evangelicals for supporting Trump. In sum, the conservative intellectuals didn’t understand the base’s concerns about religious liberty because they hardly cared for religion — which should have disqualified them long ago.

As Robinson rightly says of these people, they are “heretics who claim to be spokesmen for the Christian base.” Surprising, is it not, the number of Christians who put their trust and faith in those who did not believe Jesus Christ is Lord.

Not one of them every said that everybody ought to find God as soon as they can. Because the end draws near. Maybe not the end. But your end.

Comments to the article are worth scanning. People are not fond of Never Trumpers.

July 4, 2018 | 28 Comments


This post originally ran 4 July 2014.

The first one that says “grand finale” gets it. It’s over when it’s over.

I spent a year of boyhood in Chicago, 1975. Actually, Oak Park. An enormous creaky house one block from the Chicago city limits. UFOs were in the air—and on television. There were areas of the house into which I would not go unescorted.

Fireworks were legal. So was the idea that you could set your kids loose in the neighborhood with only the warning “Be home for dinner.”

Who was it that said the past is a foreign country?

We would collect pennies and nickels and trade them for weapons of minimal destruction, or WMDs. We’d take off down the alleys on our bikes lighting bottle rockets from smoldering punks held in our teeth, holding the rockets just until ignition to get a better aim. Not unlike jousting.

My favorites were the plastic green grenades which looked exactly like those my grandpa used to hoist at Germans. Inside was a cardboard tube with a fuse. Tremendous thick clouds of white smoke. But they were expensive. So we’d buy the little round smoke bombs, light two of them and jam them into the grenade. Almost the same effect, but you ran the risk of melting the plastic.

They had this one tiny firecracker the thickness of spaghetti. To show your bravery, you lit one and exploded it in your hand. Some guys pretended to do the same trick with the regular-sized WMDs, but we told each other too many stories of fingers flying in all directions to do it for real. Somebody knew somebody who knew somebody who heard of a guy who lit one he was biting. No takers there.

The elusive goal was a cherry bomb, or M-80, said to be illegal. They were supposed to look like an over-sized smoke bomb and be the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite. Rumor always had it the kids in the next neighborhood had one. Massive explosions were attested to. Eyewitness reports were plentiful. But none of us ever had one.

Next best thing was to tape a bunch of regular firecrackers together, twisting their fuses into one. If you did it right, these would go off more or less at once. Looking back, I don’t know how powerful these were. We tried to blow up a bike tire with one. No success.

The same trick, incidentally, can be done with bottle rockets. Tremendous boost in take-off speed. And with snakes, those little cylinders of carbon which when lighted unspool to great length. A pile of five or six would release as much smoke in the air as a press conference by Chuck Schumer.

Remember those little green army men? I had battalions of them. Some came equipped with plastic parachutes, which worked if you were careful about throwing the man in the air just so. Well, all experiments to send a parachuter up with a bottle rocket failed. Oh, he’d soar into the wild blue yonder, all right. Sometimes. But he’d always stick to the stick of the rocket—the parachute would never deploy—or fall off at take off. If anybody ever solved this engineering problem, I’d be glad to hear of it.

Since I am, I blush to say, the Statistician to the Stars, I must present the total of all deaths caused by the WMDs in my neighborhood: 0.

Fingers blown off? 0. Teeth shattered? 0. Eyes poked out? 0. Maimings of any kind? 0.

Burns? Well, one or two, here or there. Mostly from holding the punks or the bottle rockets too long, or just as likely from gripping the match incorrectly or from picking up a thought-to-be-cool spent sparkler. Yes: we used to carry packs of matches everywhere.

But even though no mayhem ensued, it is a logical truism that it could have! And this mere possibly is enough for the more effeminate among us to quail and quake and to invoke the ever-present urge to San Francisco the problem, i.e. to ban, ban, ban. For your own good, naturally.

The “grand finale”, by the way, is the end of the fireworks show, the point where dozens of rockets are sent up at once, an end with a bang. It is the event which is always announced half a dozen times before it really happens.

Happy Fourth of July! But be careful about attending a parade or looking at a flag. You might turn into a Republican.

July 3, 2018 | 13 Comments

Researchers Forced To Teach Algorithms To Reject Hate Facts

As we learned before, hate facts “are true statements about reality that our elites demand remain occult and unuttered.”

The problem is that hate facts will routinely pop up in statistical (a.k.a. machine learning, a.k.a. artificial intelligence) algorithms, and when they do the algorithms are said to be “biased”. The paradigmatic example are algorithms which estimate the chance of persons paying back loans. Race was found to be highly informative in these algorithms, but race is also unwelcome, so modelers were forbidden to use it.

The blame for the “bias” is put on the algorithm itself, but, of course, the algorithm is not alive, not aware, and so does not know the numbers it manipulates are anything but numbers. The meaning to numbers is found only in our eyes.

Which brings us to the Nature article “Bias detectives: the researchers striving to make algorithms fair: As machine learning infiltrates society, scientists are trying to help ward off injustice.

It begins with a sob story, as is, we guess, mandatory in pieces like this.

In 2015, a worried father asked Rhema Vaithianathan a question that still weighs on her mind. A small crowd had gathered in a basement room in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to hear her explain how software might tackle child abuse…the system does not catch all cases of abuse. Vaithianathan and her colleagues had just won a half-million-dollar contract to build an algorithm to help…

After Vaithianathan invited questions from her audience, the father stood up to speak. He had struggled with drug addiction, he said, and social workers had removed a child from his home in the past. But he had been clean for some time. With a computer assessing his records, would the effort he’d made to turn his life around count for nothing? In other words: would algorithms judge him unfairly?

In other words, this father guessed the algorithm might use the indicator “past druggie”, and use it to up the chances he’d abuse a kid. Which certainly sounds reasonable. Druggies are not known to be as reliable with kids as non-druggies, on average. You dear reader, would for instance use the information were you deciding on baby sitters.

However, past drug use is a hate fact in the eyes of the Nature author. How to ensure it’s not used?

I changed the colors from “blue” and “purple” to the more accurate, but hate fact, “white” and “black” in the following passage:

Researchers studying bias in algorithms say there are many ways of defining fairness, which are sometimes contradictory.

Imagine that an algorithm for use in the criminal-justice system assigns scores to two groups ([white] and [black]) for their risk of being rearrested. Historical data indicate that the [black] group has a higher rate of arrest, so the model would classify more people in the [black] group as high risk (see figure, top). This could occur even if the model’s developers try to avoid bias by not directly telling their model whether a person is [white] or [black]. That is because other data used as training inputs might correlate with being [white] or [black].

The horror.

Knowing a person’s race is useful information in predicting recidivism. Note, again, the algorithm does not, and is incapable, of saying why race is useful information. It is entirely neutral, and cannot be made non-neutral. It cannot be biased, it cannot be unbiased. It cannot be equitable, and it cannot be unequitable. The interpretation, I insist, is in the eyes’ of the users.

“A high-risk status cannot perfectly predict rearrest, but the algorithm’s developers try to make the prediction equitable”. What is in the world can that possibly mean? Since the algorithm cannot be equitable or biased, it must be that the modelers insist that model does not make use of hate facts, or create them.

Now the author prates on about false positives and negatives, which are, of course, undesirable. But the better a model gets, in the sense of accuracy, then the fewer false positive and negatives there will be. If the model is hamstrung by denying hate facts as input, or it is butchered because it produced hate facts, then model inaccuracy must necessarily increase.

What makes the whole thing laughable, is that algorithm builders are being denied even access to hate facts, so they can’t check whether their models will be judged as “biased.” For instance, race cannot be input, or even viewed, except by authorities who are free to use race to see whether the models’ outputs correlate with race. If it does, it’s “biased.”

The best way to test whether an algorithm is biased along certain lines — for example, whether it favours one ethnicity over another — requires knowing the relevant attributes about the people who go into the system. But the [Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation]’s restrictions on the use of such sensitive data are so severe and the penalties so high, Mittelstadt says, that companies in a position to evaluate algorithms might have little incentive to handle the information. “It seems like that will be a limitation on our ability to assess fairness,’ he says.

Diversity is our weakness.