Saturday, June 30, 2012

Major limits on the Congress’s powers, in an opinion worthy of John Marshall : SCOTUSblog

Link: http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/major-limits-on-the-congresss-powers-in-an-opinion-worthy-of-john-marshall/ (via shareaholic.com)

False Positives

 
 

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via Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre on 6/28/12

Some readers may have noticed a Dutch scandal in the academic psychology industry. See here (h/t Pielke Jr).

The previously undisclosed whistleblower is said to be Uri SImonsohn, co-author of the article: "False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant." The authors set out the following sensible solution to the problem of false positive publications:

Table 2. Simple Solution to the Problem of False-Positive Publications
Requirements for authors
1. Authors must decide the rule for terminating data collection before data collection begins and report this rule in the article.
2. Authors must collect at least 20 observations per cell or else provide a compelling cost-of-data-collection justification.
3. Authors must list all variables collected in a study.
4. Authors must report all experimental conditions, including failed manipulations.
5. If observations are eliminated, authors must also report what the statistical results are if those observations are included.
6. If an analysis includes a covariate, authors must report the statistical results of the analysis without the covariate.

Guidelines for reviewers
1. Reviewers should ensure that authors follow the requirements.
2. Reviewers should be more tolerant of imperfections in results.
3. Reviewers should require authors to demonstrate that their results do not hinge on arbitrary analytic decisions.
4. If justifications of data collection or analysis are not compelling, reviewers should require the authors to conduct an exact replication.

If these rules were applied by real_climate_scientists, most of the criticisms at Climate Audit would be eliminated.

However, there are no signs that real_climate_scientists have any intention of adopting these rules, as evidenced by Gavin Schmidt's bilious outrage at the idea that Briffa should have reported the Yamal-Urals regional chronology considered and discarded in favor of the known HS of the small Yamal chronology.

The language of false positives was also used by the Texas sharpshooters, Wahl and Ammann, in connection with the failed verification statistics from MBH98.



 
 

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Descent

 
 

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via the Air Vent by Jeff Condon on 6/28/12

Today's supreme court "health sickness care" ruling is an enormous blow to Americans. Our past successes have been created by a governmental philosophy of 'the people know best'. Today we are told that in fact, 'government knows best'. They flat stated, "You will buy OUR soup! or we will Tax you!" As a business owner, I can't even begin to list the horrors which will now extend from this "Constitutional" interpretation even well after the law is struck down. It is very hard to understand how the single most successful culture in world history requires such a radical and truly violent change to what made us successful. Conservative American thoughts become even more incredulous when we consider that most of our health care troubles were created by government in the first place. It is, however, very easy to understand the sales angle – free stuff for those who don't work hard.

As Europe watches, they have been saturated with endless media mis-portraying the US health care system as one which does not provide to those whom cannot pay. The misrepresentation of reality by the global media corporations could not be more disingenuous. In reality, "We the People" GIVE more to the poor more money than ANY country on actual dollar basis. We could do this in the past because we were allowed to own and create wealth at will. What is often forgotten is that America also created the majority of the industrial and medical advances in the world despite our small population (popular disadvantage). A common theme of this blog that shouldn't surprise regular readers is that we all MUST question our information sources a little more vigorously.

NO I am not America centric. I am capitalist centric. America certainly cannot be accused of having the best breeding, best intelligence, finest minds. What we have had was a system which allowed people to gain individually for their own efforts. The freedom to express our opinions without oppression. The freedom to make money and not have it stolen by those who haven't even tried to work. In the past, if you built the better mouse trap, you could make a hell of a lot of personal wealth in exchange for your efforts. You still can, but the hidden truth is that the probability of success with your mousetrap is being dramatically reduced. The feedback of recent economically negative forcing will have decades of true lag time.

I am certain that much of Europe is watching America gradually make the transition to the European/Russian/third world government system with an odd feeling of satisfaction. Watching us self-destruct in the same haze they experienced, can give them comfort, but America's future has more than mild global consequences. What is happening now to our country is not a local problem. Europeans should realize that the destruction of the American system is the ruination of what is obviously the best hope for governance of mankind.

That though, is not the point of this post.

Capitalism is a math problem. To me it is of the same family as Mannian multivariate regression using noisy predictors. If you have noisy data (every person has their own unique mind) and you fit it to a predicatand (what everyone wants), by probability, you are guaranteed to maximize the popular result to which we all naturally seek. Despite my present discouragement, few will deny that it is an indisputable societal fact that in all cases, the average of a group of individuals will seek the position to their best advantage.

This leads me to an oxymoron of Republican thought – A capitalist who doesn't believe in evolution. The concept is beyond resolution for me.

So rhetorically speaking, what happens when Americans have free health care, food, and housing handed to them if they can demonstrate that they are poor (unemployed) enough?

I have to tell you, I'm tired of working 15 hour days as a business owner simply to pay massive taxes that are multiples of my pay while listening to lazy, over-payed, government bureaucrats blather that they think WE should pay more for their wonderful service.

Simple math folks. Whether you believe this law is devastating (as I do) or simply another minor step, the math is at a minimum guaranteed to shift some portion of the functionally capable population away from effort.



 
 

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Fortune Flat Out Lies About Fast & Furious

 
 

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via Breitbart Feed on 6/29/12

Fortune claims they know the truth about Operation Fast & Furious! They did their own six-month investigation, reviewed more than 2,000 ATF documents, and interviewed 39 people. Somehow they know more than Congress, which has been investigating this for 18 months. Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News, Katie Pavlich at Townhall, and Matthew Boyle at The Daily Caller have been reporting on Fast & Furious for 18 months as well.

Chairman Darrell Issa's press secretary Becca Glover emailed me this statement:

Fortune's story is a fantasy made up almost entirely from the accounts of individuals involved in the reckless tactics that took place in Operation Fast and Furious.  It contains factual errors – including the false statement that Chairman Issa has called for Attorney General Holder's resignation – and multiple distortions.  It also hides critical information from readers – including a report in the Wall Street Journal – indicating that its primary sources may be facing criminal charges.  Congressional staff gave Fortune Magazine numerous examples of false statements made by the story's primary source and the magazine did not dispute this information.  It did not, however, explain this material to its readers.  The one point of agreement the Committee has with this story is its emphasis on the role Justice Department prosecutors, not just ATF agents, played in guns being transferred to drug cartels in Mexico.  The allegations made in the story have been examined and rejected by congressional Republicans, Democrats, and the Justice Department.

Somehow Fortune turns David Voth, the ATF supervisor of Fast & Furious into a victim and uses it as a way to push gun control. This investigation has to do with one thing: Justice for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and three-hundred-plus Mexicans. Here's the evidence and facts.

Katherine Eban does a stellar job smearing the whistleblowers, especially John Dodson. Agent Dodson risked his job going public with the information, especially giving an interview with Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News Ms. Eban acts as if it was just a few disgruntled ATF employees when actually it was many. A lot just prefer to remain anonymous.

Surveillance video in the interview shows straw purchasers leaving gun shops with boxes of weapons. Documents showed these guns were showing up at crime scenes in Mexico and ATF supervisors actually keeping track of this information. Agent Dodson and other senior agents confronted their supervisors over and over about this horrible operation.

Their answer? "If you're going to make an omlette, you've got to break some eggs."

Ms. Eban tries to downplay an email, now known as the "schism" email, sent by Mr. Voth to the team. While many say the email was about gunwalking Ms. Eban insists it was about everything but that. I'd like Mr. Voth to explain these parts (emphasis mine):

"Whether you care or not people of rank and authority at HQ are paying close attention to this case and they also believe we [Phoenix Group VII] are doing what they envisioned the Southwest Border Groups doing."

"We need to resolve our issues at this meeting. I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumors, or other adolescent behavior."

"I don't know what all the issues are but we are all adults, we are all professionals, and we have a (sp) exciting opportunity to use the biggest tool in our law enforcement tool box. If you don't think this is fun you're in the wrong line of work – period!"

Mr. Voth also needs to explain why they let go of their top suspect when they had him in custody. This is the man who purchased the guns found at Agent Terry's death scene. The guns that have been recovered have been ones found at crime scenes. 1,400 guns are still missing. Mr. Voth and the ATF never made an effort to interdict the weapons. None. The testimony of whistleblowers at a hearing on June 14, 2011 stated there was never intention to interdict these weapons. 

There's a reason why Chairman Issa and others think Fast & Furious was used to enforce stricter gun laws. Ms. Attkisson released emails on December 7, 2011. At some point, whether it was at the beginning or middle, the operation was used to make a case for more gun control laws.

Throughout the article Ms. Eban tries to make the case for those gun control laws. It's simply too easy for anyone to buy guns in Arizona. Ms. Eban fails to tell her readers that the ATF forced the gun shops to sell these guns to the straw purchasers. In the article above Ms. Attkisson shows emails between the owners and the ATF. Who is included in these emails? David Voth. The gun shop owners did not want to sell these weapons, but Mr. Voth reassured them the ATF was tracking the weapons. They weren't doing that, though. It's hard to use the supposed loose gun laws when the ATF forced them to break the laws and sell the weapons.

This is the worst case of journalism malpractice I've encountered while covering Fast & Furious and just further proves the desperation of the liberal media to protect this administration.


 
 

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

We Blame George W. Bush - WSJ.com

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304058404577494622616505142.html?mod=djemBestOfTheWeb_h

The second difference is that the result in this decision is likely to be hated by people who aren't immersed in politics. The left hated Bush v. Gore for partisan reasons and hates Citizens United for ideological ones. People who aren't particularly partisan or ideological had no reason to care about either of those rulings. But this one will affect their health care, and a large majority of the public has long been hostile, and rightly so, to ObamaCare.

What's more, Roberts's opinion has made a liar of President Obama, who in a 2009 interview with ABC News insisted that the mandate "is absolutely not a tax increase." He even lectured the network's George Stephanopoulos, who had cited the dictionary definition of tax: "George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition."

In 2008, Obama promised not to raise taxes on middle-class taxpayers. Oops. Maybe he can win back swing voters by telling them the word gullible isn't in the dictionary.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kimberlin Threatens Even More Unconstitutional Peace Orders Against Aaron Walker

 
 

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via Patterico's Pontifications by Patterico on 6/27/12

Kimberlin, in a letter to Aaron Walker's attorney yesterday:

Again, I want to be left alone by your client. That is my demand as required by Galloway and the criminal harassment statute. His false narrative that I framed him is defamatory and inciting extremists to threaten me. He is responsible for their conduct. I will not hesitate to seek additional peace orders or criminal harassment charges if he does not leave me alone.

The trouble is, Brett Kimberlin defines "leave me alone" as "don't blog about the lawfare I have waged on you." He wants the right to engage in dishonest and abusive litigation, but he demands more: the right to do it without criticism. As you can see from his response to Aaron's filing for an emergency stay, Kimberlin continues to assert that he has the right to an email inbox free from Google Alerts relating to posts written by Aaron about Kimberlin:

Mr. Walker, contrary to what he says in his motion, did, as Judge Vaughey found, contact Petitioner directly in order to harass him. In his blog posts andon his Twitter page, he addressed Petitioner directly. He knew that his posts and tweets would end up in Petitioner's email box, and taunted Petitioner to turn off "his Google alerts." This is akin to telling someone to shut off their phone or stop their mail service if they did not want to receive harassing calls or mail.

Um, no, it's not. If you set up a service where your phone rings every time someone talks about you in public, I am not "phoning" you if I talk about you in public. If you set up a service where you receive a piece of snail mail every time someone talks about you in public, I am not "mailing" you if I talk about you in public. Having a Google alert for your name is YOUR choice. It cannot be used as a sword to force people to stop talking about you — and it is not "taunting" for Aaron to say: if you don't want your email inbox filled with notifications about Aaron's posts, turn your Google alerts off.

And Aaron Walker is not responsible for the reaction of other people to his peaceful speech, in which he repeatedly disclaims any intent to have people harass Kimberlin in any way whatsoever. (As do I.)

The thing is, Kimberlin has been told all of this before — and he still goes back and gets peace orders. And the judges in the Maryland court system give them to him. These judges feel bound by their own rules instead of the rules set by the Supreme Court, as Judge Vaughey famously made clear.

So when Kimberlin makes a threat like this, it is not idle.

He is not going to stop, until someone (morally and legally) forces him to stop.


 
 

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Laffer and Moore: Obama's Real Spending Record - WSJ.com

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303753904577450910257188398.html?mod=djemITP_h (via shareaholic.com)

Why does the Higgs decay? | Lily Asquith | Life & Physics

 
 

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Higgs bosons might be being produced at CERN right now, but we can't keep them. Lily Asquith explains...

The experiment I work on is based around a particle detector which we lovingly refer to as ATLAS. ATLAS is an enormous and highly intricate piece of equipment, designed and built on the blood and sweat (we don't produce tears) of thousands of people over two decades, and the main motivation for all this is to find or exclude the existence of the predicted "Higgs" boson.

The ATLAS detector can be thought of as a giant camera with many different parts, each with different sensitivities, just as we are used to film cameras being sensitive to visual and audio input of widely varying types.

But, it is not capable of directly observing the Higgs boson. We can't take a picture of this thing: no detector can. The Higgs boson's existence is fleeting: it is given the opportunity of existence by the high collision energy of the proton beams in the LHC, and the instant it finds itself in existence, it decays.

This tendency to decay is true of most fundamental particles, but why? This is a question I was asked recently by a teenager at an outreach event organized by the quarknet collaboration. I think it is in the top three finest questions I have ever been asked by a teenager. I opened my mouth to answer and then I just laughed. A colleague of mine who happened to be sitting in the audience caught my eye and spoke up to fill the tittering space. His disappointing (but in hindsight entirely appropriate) answer was "because it can". This is quantum mechanics, even the most unlikely of events has a probability: if it can happen, it will happen

We describe the Higgs boson as a particle, which implies that it is a real thing, an object, and thus when we are told it undergoes 'decay' we summon analogies with other objects we know to decay, like organic matter (because of chemical influences from outside) or perhaps radioactive decay (because a nucleus is in an unstable state, and the energy required to allow it to remain in existence is less if it spits out energy in the form of a photon or something).

It feels sensible to divide this statement "If it can happen, it will happen" into two parts: the "CAN" and the "WILL". First, the "CAN":

When we talk about any "fundamental" particle such as the Higgs, the reason for its decay is actually much more simple. Such a particle is not an 'object' in the sense we usually imagine, I think it is more accurately described as a 'possibility'. The question of 'what is real?' is one that I have avoided whole-heartedly since a particularly bad headache I had about three years ago, but a very general idea is that we can't describe anything without some well-defined properties, and in particle physics these properties are quantum numbers. A set of quantum numbers, combined with some additional information, gives you a descriptive quantity called a wavefunction, which completely describes a state of "matter" in its most fundamental form. The decay of a particle such as the Higgs CAN happen if its wavefunction is identical to the combined wavefunction of two other particles. It is always two: it must be because of the possible configurations of the quantum numbers.

Many different decays are possible, in the same way that the electron wavefunction in hydrogen can inhabit many different orbits, each having a different probability. The transition between different 'orbits' (or energy levels) CAN happen if it is allowed by the quantum numbers and it WILL happen when energy and momentum conservation are satisfied. This could be quite frequent or very rare (for example, the Lamb transition occurs on average once every 131 years for a single hydrogen atom)

So, the Higgs boson "is" also a pair of Z or W bosons, a pair of photons, or a pair of quarks or leptons. We cannot predict whether a single Higgs will decay to a pair of photons or to a pair of something else, we can only give a probability of each decay type.

This correspondence between the quantum numbers of different states doesn't explain why it only ever remains being a Higgs for a tiny amount of time though; why does it prefer to exist as two Z bosons, or photons? Why for that matter do each of the Z bosons in turn prefer to exist as a pair of electrons or muons, which are the things we actually observe in the detector?

This is the "WILL" happen bit.

I had an answer to this when I first thought of it, but it isn't really the correct one. My instinctive explanation was entropy: the increase of disorder in the universe.

For any ordered configuration such as the Higgs, there is a number of less-ordered states (a number of ways of sharing out the energy and momentum) that correspond to the same bag of quantum numbers. If the number of less-ordered states is zero, then the particle is stable, as the electron and photon are.

I said this isn't really the correct answer to why the Higgs decays, but it is relevant. I love the concept of entropy because it describes a universe that is forever becoming more disordered over time, going from a pin-prick of infinite energy to a vast expansion of nothingness, the 'Heat Death', where every particle is so separated from every other that there is no more light or matter or any interaction at all. Heat death here really means "no heat" no transfer of energy or opportunity to create any ordered system. At first thought this sounds appallingly depressing rather than fascinating, but, as with most things, it is what happens on the way that is incredible. Somehow along the way of inevitable increasing entropy (disorder) we have found ourselves in a universe full of the most incredibly ordered machinery. Solar systems are one thing, but human beings are almost beyond belief in their intricacy. Machines within machines within machines. And these composite machines that we have become, on the path to Heat Death, are so complex and wonderful that they have sought to understand every stage of their evolution from atom to organism to replicator to mammal.

Moving on from that self-indulgent little speech; the law of entropy is in some way related to the decay of the Higgs, but it is only really meaningful to talk of entropy "statistically". I would appear to break the law, since I am a highly complex and ordered machine, made out of a cell from each of my parents, beans of toast, haribo, and small amounts of other stuff that is arguably less-ordered than I am. But when you consider the amount of disorder created elsewhere to make me what I am now, the NET disorder is higher as a result of my existence. How much work goes into a tin of beans? How much planting, growing, watering, picking, packaging and shipping, cooking, digesting, etc. ?

So I can't tell you it is because of entropy that a single Higgs boson decays; but it is related to entropy, it is because of opportunity. If the Higgs finds itself as two distinct photons with enough energy to fly away from one another, then they will. Those photons are separated in space now, and will remain so. Conservation laws insist that any energy and momentum in the manifestation we call the Higgs must be conserved, and as the Higgs has to decay to two particles thanks to the conservation of charge, spin and various other characters, these will fly off in opposite directions to one another at very high speeds. So they do not have the opportunity to meet each other again an recombine to form a Higgs.

I mentioned that we can give probabilities for the Higgs to decay in each of the various ways we expect it to. In the standard model these probabilities are divided between a number of 'decay channels' that include a pair of photons, a pair of Zs or Ws (in these cases one of the decay products is not even real, but is virtual… that's for another time), a pair of quarks or a pair of leptons. In order to establish whether or not the Standard Model is correct, we have to count all of these pairs of particles. If the number of pairs we count is larger than the number we expect in the "no Higgs" scenario, then we calculate the invariant mass of these pairs (explained here). This is what the ATLAS and CMS experiments are currently so busy with: counting and calculating. If we find that the number of pairs is very agreeable with the "Higgs exists" scenario and these extra pairs all have a particular invariant mass that is agreeable with the allowed mass of the Higgs, then we will claim a discovery. If the number of pairs is very agreeable with the "no Higgs" scenario then we will claim the opposite: 'exclusion'. In each case we will provide the probability of us actually being right about our claim - 95% of our work goes into this 'how likely are we to be wrong' part.

The really interesting but, though, is measuring a discovery or exclusion for every possible way that the Higgs can decay - only then can we really have any idea whether we are looking at 'The Higgs' predicted by Peter Higgs within the framework of the Standard Model.

Some people started blogging rumours of a discovery this week. This is bizarre - we only stopped taking data on Monday, and that data (basically just electrical signals) has to pass through a long series of steps to analysis, with each step providing ample opportunity for human error. Each piece of this procedure must be carefully examined, repeated, done backwards and repeated again, otherwise we would make critical mistakes with 100% probability. We do the relentless and sometimes soul-destroyingly tedious hard work because we want to get the answers. We will be one step closer to having them by 7th July.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


 
 

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Book Review: Born Together—Reared Apart - WSJ.com

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303552104577436333754014866.html?mod=djemITP_h (via shareaholic.com)

Some findings go down easy: As most would expect, identical twins raised apart have virtually identical heights as adults. Some findings seem obvious after the fact: Genes, but not upbringing, have a pretty big effect on personality traits like ambition, optimism, aggression and traditionalism. Other findings perennially cause outrage: The IQs of separated identical twins are almost as similar as their heights. Critics of intelligence research often hail the importance of practice rather than inborn talent, but a three-day test of the Minnesota twins' motor skills showed that how much you benefit from practice is itself partly an inborn talent.

The Minnesota study's IQ results hit a nerve years before their publication in 1990, overshadowing other controversies that might have been. Many of its findings are bipartisan shockers. Take religion, which almost everyone attributes to "socialization." Separated-twin data show that religiosity has a strong genetic component, especially in the long run: "Parents had less influence than they thought over their children's religious activities and interests as they approached adolescence and adulthood." The key caveat: While genes have a big effect on how religious you are, upbringing has a big effect on the brand of religion you accept. Identical separated sisters Debbie and Sharon "both liked the rituals and formality of religious services and holidays," even though Debbie was a Jew and Sharon was a Christian.
....
"Born Together—Reared Apart" is an excellent book for a serious, statistically literate reader who already knows the basics of twin research. But livelier, more accessible introductions are already on the market—most obviously Ms. Segal's earlier "Entwined Lives" (1999). "Born Together—Reared Apart" is, however, a joy to read when she describes the awe of reuniting twins—and the joy of seeing many become soul mates before her eyes. And despite her focus on academic research, Ms. Segal shares some of her casual observations, such as that one pair of identical twins both held their beer glasses with a pinkie hooked underneath.

Ms. Segal has little patience for those who fear the social consequences of the Minnesota Study. The facts are on her side. Scientific support for the effect of heredity on ability, character, and success has been mounting for decades, but Western societies are more tolerant than ever, and more inclined to treat their members as individuals. Hatemongers have no need to appeal to heredity. Nazis used genetics to rationalize genocide. Communist regimes rejected genetics as "bourgeois" and murdered millions for their counterrevolutionary family backgrounds. When a powerful movement wants to commit a heinous crime, it makes up a reason. The wise response isn't to argue the science but to insist that we should treat others with common decency, no matter what the science says.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three Takeaways From the State of Social Science and Gay Families - By David French - The Corner - National Review Online

Link: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/303618/three-takeaways-state-social-science-and-gay-families-david-french (via shareaholic.com)

As the 18 social scientists said in their letter, "The vast majority of studies published before 2012 on this subject have relied upon small, nonrepresentative samples that do not represent children in typical gay and lesbian families in the United States." Thus, when political (and judicial) figures declare that gay and lesbian families are equivalent to heterosexual families in child-rearing outcomes and that the science is "settled," they're simply wrong.


Friday, June 15, 2012

PJ Lifestyle � 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left

Link: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/06/08/7-reasons-why-the-right-should-not-seek-to-convert-the-left/?singlepage=true


Those who think Dennis Prager took a decade to write one book will find themselves mistaken upon picking up Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. The 30-year talk radio veteran and longtime syndicated columnist actually delivers a trilogy of books mapping out the big ideological fights of today with greater clarity than anyone else.
...
Here are 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left. In laying out these points I’m going to: A) Show what happened when I presented some Prager-style arguments to a leftist. B) Propose strategies for how American values should be promoted today. C) Stress the importance of connecting the ideas of Still the Best Hope with the themes Prager developed in his previous books and I hope he pursues for his next. D) Present a buffet of ideas in a multimedia format combining text, image, and some of my favorite videos from Prager University.

For my first point, I’ll address the path to victory this fall before dealing with the bigger question of the problem with evangelizing conservatism in the remaining 6 points.

7. There are More Than Enough Apolitical People Out There Whose Minds Remain Unconquered by the Left.

With the yelling debates on the cable shows it’s easy to stumble into the belief that America is a “deeply divided” country. When looking at the numbers, though, actually only a small percentage of Americans participate in the Left vs. Right battle. There are plenty of other untapped pools of persuadable voters apart from those preset to oppose us.

...

6. “You Cannot Reason Out What Was Not Reasoned In.” — often attributed to Jonathan Swift

Just because someone reads a book, it doesn’t mean they’re going to grasp what the author is saying.

...

5. Evil Is Something That Cannot Be Explained to Those Who Do Not Know What It Is. It Can Only Be Experienced.

Be happy for your “liberal” friends. They’ve been blessed not to comprehend evil yet. They’re still living in the Garden of Eden. Good for them. Maybe they’ll be lucky and never have to put their ideas to the test. Maybe they’ll never experience what Irving Kristol talked about, what it means for a liberal to be “mugged by reality.” Maybe they’ll never have to look a real evil person in the eye and experience the pain they can cause.

...

4. Today the Conservative Movement Lies Fragmented, Infiltrated, Compromised, and Corrupted.

How can we fully rebut the Left’s smears of the Right when there’s usually an element of truth to every attack?

And who are the crackpots at the edges who live up to the Left’s demonizations about bigotry, cronyism, rigid ideology, and selfishness?

  • Antisemitic Paleo-Conservatives (Pat Buchanan)
  • Admitted White Nationalist Racists who write well
  • Anti-American and Antisemitic Anarcho-Capitalists and Paleo-Libertarians (Ron Paul’s cult reviving the ideas of the Old Right) who see nothing wrong with Iran going nuclear
  • Conspiracy Theorists making a fast buck peddling Birtherism and other nonsense like the US merging with Canada and Mexico
  • People who really do Hate Gay People and are just using opposition to gay marriage as cover for their bigotry
  • Stealth Jihadists Subverting the GOP’s Commitment to a Foreign Policy of Peace through Strength (See the Center for Security Policy’s full dossier on Grover Norquist and his protege Suhail Khan here.)
  • Theocrats (Exhibit A: Those who refuse to support Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon.)
  • Anti-Abortion Fanatics (Not the same as sane, pro-life activism that aims to change hearts through love and reason rather than shock and judgment.)
  • Narcissists who want to Turn Themselves into a Brand so they can transform their political connections into Greek cruises and large credit accounts at Tiffany’s.
  • Corporatists who peddle influence.

All these groups and tendencies compete within “the Right” and “the Conservative movement” for money, power, and converts. And their roots go too deep to be upended.

...


PJM Lifestyle
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7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left
An appreciation of Dennis Prager and multimedia celebration of his magnum opus, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.

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Dave Swindle

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June 8, 2012 - 7:00 am
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This article features 13 large images like this juxtaposing Still the Best Hope excerpts, graphics, and other surprises.

Those who think Dennis Prager took a decade to write one book will find themselves mistaken upon picking up Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. The 30-year talk radio veteran and longtime syndicated columnist actually delivers a trilogy of books mapping out the big ideological fights of today with greater clarity than anyone else.

Don’t let the 440 pages intimidate. The three books within Still the Best Hope are:

220 pages defining Leftism as a religion, explaining why its adherents embrace their beliefs, the techniques used to manipulate people into joining the political cult, and the price the world paid during the 20th century enduring the movement’s quests to remake the world.
70 pages defining Islam and Islamism, the relation between the two, and their moral record.
And 80 pages — a single chapter — laying out America and Its Unique Values, as symbolized by three terms struck on our coins: “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum.” These pillars of American exceptionalism stand in opposition to the political theologies of Leftism and Islamism which value Equality over Liberty, Idolatry over God, and group rights over universal human rights.

Taken alone, each section stands as a succinct summary, analysis, and polemic. Even those already well-versed in the subject matter will appreciate Prager’s innovative arguments, precise research, respectful manner, and inviting prose voice. It’s a portable distillation of everything that makes The Dennis Prager Show so engaging each day.

Also making the leap from Prager’s radio program is an emphasis on a subject many would rather avoid: the effect political ideas have on the lives and personalities of those who embrace them.

Leftist ideas are not just wrong because they bankrupt governments but because the people who advocate for them suffer in their personal lives. One example Prager provides is how the messages young women hear about sex at college can lead them down paths they’ll later regret.

In grappling with the intellectual and cultural battles between Leftism, Islamism, and Americanism, it’s often easy to forget that real flesh and blood bodies try to put these theories into practice. Observe the connection between Barack Obama’s mother marrying two foreign-born men and her career as an anthropologist immersed in third-world cultural study and advocacy. Then consider the unhappiness that came as a result: both marriages ending in divorce and a young Barack Obama left to live a rudderless life leaping from one questionable father figure to another.

This piece of the pie should be considered when thinking about the challenge PJ Media’s CEO Roger L. Simon posed on May 9, when he lamented the frequency in which political blogging becomes little more than preaching to the choir:

What we really want is a way to get our message out to the other side so that they actually read and consider it.

The tragedy of democracy in our times is that this may no longer be possible. People do not want to be disturbed by opposing views. They don’t even want to think about them. Too much — life, careers, family, friends — is at stake. Why upend it for anything so mundane as the future of our country?

There are two competing components of Roger’s appeal: Yes, we want progressives to consider conservative ideas. But we also have the practical world in mind. We need to formulate arguments so people will wake up now, realize the dangerous economic and terrorist threats exacerbated by the Obama administration, and vote for Mitt Romney this fall.

Is that too much to ask for? Reading Still the Best Hope and its encyclopedic collection of arguments, some might be tempted to think Prager has crafted the ultimate tool for converting leftists to the Right. And just in time for the election too! They’d be wrong.

There are other, more effective ways to spread American values and set the country back on the right course other than through a single-minded focus on the Left vs. Right model. Here are 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left. In laying out these points I’m going to: A) Show what happened when I presented some Prager-style arguments to a leftist. B) Propose strategies for how American values should be promoted today. C) Stress the importance of connecting the ideas of Still the Best Hope with the themes Prager developed in his previous books and I hope he pursues for his next. D) Present a buffet of ideas in a multimedia format combining text, image, and some of my favorite videos from Prager University.

For my first point, I’ll address the path to victory this fall before dealing with the bigger question of the problem with evangelizing conservatism in the remaining 6 points.

7. There are More Than Enough Apolitical People Out There Whose Minds Remain Unconquered by the Left.

With the yelling debates on the cable shows it’s easy to stumble into the belief that America is a “deeply divided” country. When looking at the numbers, though, actually only a small percentage of Americans participate in the Left vs. Right battle. There are plenty of other untapped pools of persuadable voters apart from those preset to oppose us.

Four facts about American political participation to keep in mind:

Only about half of Americans vote for president.
Just over a third of Americans vote in non-presidential elections.
For the 2010 cycle, only 0.19% of the population donated $200 or more to a political candidate, party, or PAC. This group of donors accounted for 66.5% of the money received.
In Septemer 2009 Pew polled on political participation in the previous 12 months. They selected 11 different political acts and found that 63% of Americans had engaged in at least one ranging in involvement from just signing a petition (32%) to attending an organized protest (4%.) Thus, the Pareto principle holds for politics too: “Taken together, 34% of all adults did one or two of the above activities this year, while an additional 16% took part in 3-4 activities. A highly-engaged 13% of Americans have taken part in five or more of these activities in the last year.”

A few facts related to those numbers:

Only half of adults can name all three branches of government.
Only 74% of Americans know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
Only 54% can define “free enterprise.”
Only 7% of Americans can name the first four presidents and only 30% know Thomas Jefferson was the third.
73% of Americans have no idea the United States fought communism during the Cold War.

Keep that last number in mind as I now explain six reasons for the futility of trying to shift others from Left to Right.

6. “You Cannot Reason Out What Was Not Reasoned In.” — often attributed to Jonathan Swift

Just because someone reads a book, it doesn’t mean they’re going to grasp what the author is saying.

From the dust jacket: “A Few Books Can Change The Way People Think. Still the Best Hope Is One of Them.”

But what if people don’t think? Or if they don’t even know how to think? What if they “think” with their heart or some other body part (like their skin or their genitals)? What good will Prager’s arguments be for them?

That’s the conundrum faced in trying to shift people from Left to Right through rational argument. When dealing with leftists, emotions sit on the throne. Often in dialogue they’ll say “I feel like you’re saying” and then spit back to you a garbled, straw-man version of what you actually said. You’ll regularly hear “I feel like” when they’re describing how they analyze some political issues. More rarely will you hear “I think.” This is a Freudian slip revealing that they’re not actually reasoning at all and are just ducking and weaving based on raw instinct.

****

A few weeks ago, like a smoker picking up a pack of cigarettes after a long hiatus, I returned to one of my bad habits: arguing with my old college friends about the political views that we no longer shared.

The Facebook friend whose name and image I’ve hidden with orange below is a graduate student who teaches math. During our undergraduate years we shared space on the college paper’s editorial page. When I graduated in 2006 he carried on the “Bush is a War Criminal,” “Republicans are Evil and Stupid” drum beat that I’d become known for in my 3 years as a weekly columnist.

Mr. Orange’s views have changed little since our college days. He never left the academic bubble, transitioning from undergrad to graduate school quickly. But I made the mistake of “going out into the real world.” The experiences of working two and a half years of “pay-the-bills” jobs was a chance to study capitalism and human nature up close in their natural habitats. Thus as I built up my freelance writing career part-time, I surrendered to one “conservative” understanding of life after another. When the opportunity presented itself to make the leap to full-time New Media troublemaker (an editorial position), it was for “right-wing” online publications. The ideas that I’d demonized and caricatured in college I’d now come to embrace.

So of course most of my progressive college pals defriended me. And I don’t blame them. Why would they want to hear my explanations for why I’d come to reject the views they still worshipped?

But to his credit, Mr. Orange has still stuck around, even though at times over the years our arguments have grown heated and personal. So when he posted one of the president’s propaganda images I saw an opportunity to give Prager’s arguments a test run and challenge my thesis. Is it really a waste of time to try and persuade leftists? I would try not to be too mean.

Little doubt where this was headed.

Yes, the color Pink is chosen intentionally to represent a friend of Mr. Orange. I had not encountered him before but soon he revealed himself as a history grad student working on his dissertation. He claimed to specialize in American slavery and it was not long into our conversation before he claimed mixed race parents but a black identity (as opposed to the bi-racial descriptor many with his background choose).

To demonstrate America’s racism, he presented this paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that claims those with “black names” like Lakisha and Jamal have a harder time finding jobs because of racist whites. I knew just the book to pull out to answer this, the same one that had changed my mind years ago. Here’s the first of 10 Tips for How To Talk to a Marxist Who Thinks He’s a Liberal (If You Must)*.

And yes, I am aware of the irony of including 10 tips for arguing with Marxists in an article advocating that we shouldn't try and convert leftists. The choice of verb is the distinction. By all means argue with Marxists. Just don't get your hopes up that you're accomplishing anything more than amusing (or depressing) yourself.

Get used to feeding ideas into the meatgrinder of the progressive mind and getting mutilated caricatures of what you’re saying fed back to you. That’s what they need to do in order to continue avoiding the next point.
*Apologies to Ann Coulter for borrowing her title.

5. Evil Is Something That Cannot Be Explained to Those Who Do Not Know What It Is. It Can Only Be Experienced.

Be happy for your “liberal” friends. They’ve been blessed not to comprehend evil yet. They’re still living in the Garden of Eden. Good for them. Maybe they’ll be lucky and never have to put their ideas to the test. Maybe they’ll never experience what Irving Kristol talked about, what it means for a liberal to be “mugged by reality.” Maybe they’ll never have to look a real evil person in the eye and experience the pain they can cause.

I never understood or appreciated talk radio until encountering Los Angeles traffic. Being stuck inching on the 405 or backed up because of construction on Sepulveda Boulevard isn’t that bad when a skilled host is there, perhaps interviewing a world class intellectual about his new book.

When PJ Media managing editor Aaron Hanscom and I carpool into the office (usually once a week for meetings), we try to time our commute so it overlaps with Prager’s broadcast here in Los Angeles (from 9 AM to noon). One of our favorite features on the show is when Prager takes calls from progressives who air their disagreements with his “offensive” views. As we hear Prager respond to an irate caller and ask precise questions, we’ll swap stories of times when we’ve been in similar discussions with friends and family members. We’ll compare the things we’ve said and the incredulous or angry responses we get back. Here’s an example of the kind of calls Prager takes on his show:

The discussions usually end with Aaron and me stumped as we try and think of things we could say to persuade those who have no interest in being persuaded.

Then one day while driving in to work it hit me. As we were talking and Prager played in the background, the traffic moving at a reasonable pace, I said something like: “You know maybe we should just be happy for them that life hasn’t given them a kick in the ass yet. Do we really want them having the kinds of experiences we had that changed us? Do we really want them to understand the fact that there’s more dangerous problems in the world threatening their well-being than ‘climate change’ and the right to have your contraception paid for by somebody else?”

Here’s another excerpt from my debate with the history grad student (the guy who’s going to be teaching your kids about America if he isn’t already):

4. Today the Conservative Movement Lies Fragmented, Infiltrated, Compromised, and Corrupted.

How can we fully rebut the Left’s smears of the Right when there’s usually an element of truth to every attack?

Something to note in Prager’s terminology: he chooses “Americanism” not “Rightism” or “Conservatism.” This is an important distinction and one he mentioned in his interview with PJTV.

Conservatives and those on the American political Right may articulate American values, but these two interrelated (and not synonymous) movements are not based in promoting them. “The Right” in any country refers to the side of the political spectrum that embraces a nationalist identity over an internationalist one. Thus, among the American Right there are numerous nationalist tendencies, and they don’t all agree about just what it means to be an American — just that it’s important for us to be one. Likewise among those in William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Conservative movement” there’s a general agreement about “standing athwart history yelling stop,” and the need to conserve American greatness. But there’s plenty of disagreement about what really needs to be conserved and how to do it.

In Chapter 3 Prager discusses “Why the Left Succeeds.” His third point: demonization of the Right. He notes the frequency with which leftists employ charges of racism, homophobia, and other smears.

Beyond the scope of the book, though, is the reality of a Conservative movement that tolerates a whole host of individuals and ideas in direct opposition to the American values Prager describes.

Ann Coulter in March:

“And just a more corporate problem is I think our party and particularly our movement, the conservative movement, does have more of a problem with con men and charlatans than the Democratic Party,” she said. “I mean, the incentives seem to be set up to allow people — as long as you have a band of a few million fanatical followers, you can make money. The Democrats have managed to figure out how not to do that.”

And who are the crackpots at the edges who live up to the Left’s demonizations about bigotry, cronyism, rigid ideology, and selfishness?

Antisemitic Paleo-Conservatives (Pat Buchanan)
Admitted White Nationalist Racists who write well
Anti-American and Antisemitic Anarcho-Capitalists and Paleo-Libertarians (Ron Paul’s cult reviving the ideas of the Old Right) who see nothing wrong with Iran going nuclear
Conspiracy Theorists making a fast buck peddling Birtherism and other nonsense like the US merging with Canada and Mexico
People who really do Hate Gay People and are just using opposition to gay marriage as cover for their bigotry
Stealth Jihadists Subverting the GOP’s Commitment to a Foreign Policy of Peace through Strength (See the Center for Security Policy’s full dossier on Grover Norquist and his protege Suhail Khan here.)
Theocrats (Exhibit A: Those who refuse to support Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon.)
Anti-Abortion Fanatics (Not the same as sane, pro-life activism that aims to change hearts through love and reason rather than shock and judgment.)
Narcissists who want to Turn Themselves into a Brand so they can transform their political connections into Greek cruises and large credit accounts at Tiffany’s.
Corporatists who peddle influence.

All these groups and tendencies compete within “the Right” and “the Conservative movement” for money, power, and converts. And their roots go too deep to be upended.

In the book Prager notes how he apologized to Rep. Keith Ellison who accepted it and told him his mother was a fan of his show...

3. Embracing American Values Does Not Require One to Join “the Right” or to Convert to Some Ideology Called “Conservatism.”

...

2. Left Vs. Right Is not the Fight That Has Gripped Humanity Since Ancient Times.

To see the direction America’s defenders need to go we should look backwards at Prager’s previous books and forward to the one I hope he writes next.

...


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7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left
An appreciation of Dennis Prager and multimedia celebration of his magnum opus, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.

by
Dave Swindle

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June 8, 2012 - 7:00 am
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This article features 13 large images like this juxtaposing Still the Best Hope excerpts, graphics, and other surprises.

Those who think Dennis Prager took a decade to write one book will find themselves mistaken upon picking up Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. The 30-year talk radio veteran and longtime syndicated columnist actually delivers a trilogy of books mapping out the big ideological fights of today with greater clarity than anyone else.

Don’t let the 440 pages intimidate. The three books within Still the Best Hope are:

220 pages defining Leftism as a religion, explaining why its adherents embrace their beliefs, the techniques used to manipulate people into joining the political cult, and the price the world paid during the 20th century enduring the movement’s quests to remake the world.
70 pages defining Islam and Islamism, the relation between the two, and their moral record.
And 80 pages — a single chapter — laying out America and Its Unique Values, as symbolized by three terms struck on our coins: “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum.” These pillars of American exceptionalism stand in opposition to the political theologies of Leftism and Islamism which value Equality over Liberty, Idolatry over God, and group rights over universal human rights.

Taken alone, each section stands as a succinct summary, analysis, and polemic. Even those already well-versed in the subject matter will appreciate Prager’s innovative arguments, precise research, respectful manner, and inviting prose voice. It’s a portable distillation of everything that makes The Dennis Prager Show so engaging each day.

Also making the leap from Prager’s radio program is an emphasis on a subject many would rather avoid: the effect political ideas have on the lives and personalities of those who embrace them.

Leftist ideas are not just wrong because they bankrupt governments but because the people who advocate for them suffer in their personal lives. One example Prager provides is how the messages young women hear about sex at college can lead them down paths they’ll later regret.

In grappling with the intellectual and cultural battles between Leftism, Islamism, and Americanism, it’s often easy to forget that real flesh and blood bodies try to put these theories into practice. Observe the connection between Barack Obama’s mother marrying two foreign-born men and her career as an anthropologist immersed in third-world cultural study and advocacy. Then consider the unhappiness that came as a result: both marriages ending in divorce and a young Barack Obama left to live a rudderless life leaping from one questionable father figure to another.

This piece of the pie should be considered when thinking about the challenge PJ Media’s CEO Roger L. Simon posed on May 9, when he lamented the frequency in which political blogging becomes little more than preaching to the choir:

What we really want is a way to get our message out to the other side so that they actually read and consider it.

The tragedy of democracy in our times is that this may no longer be possible. People do not want to be disturbed by opposing views. They don’t even want to think about them. Too much — life, careers, family, friends — is at stake. Why upend it for anything so mundane as the future of our country?

There are two competing components of Roger’s appeal: Yes, we want progressives to consider conservative ideas. But we also have the practical world in mind. We need to formulate arguments so people will wake up now, realize the dangerous economic and terrorist threats exacerbated by the Obama administration, and vote for Mitt Romney this fall.

Is that too much to ask for? Reading Still the Best Hope and its encyclopedic collection of arguments, some might be tempted to think Prager has crafted the ultimate tool for converting leftists to the Right. And just in time for the election too! They’d be wrong.

There are other, more effective ways to spread American values and set the country back on the right course other than through a single-minded focus on the Left vs. Right model. Here are 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left. In laying out these points I’m going to: A) Show what happened when I presented some Prager-style arguments to a leftist. B) Propose strategies for how American values should be promoted today. C) Stress the importance of connecting the ideas of Still the Best Hope with the themes Prager developed in his previous books and I hope he pursues for his next. D) Present a buffet of ideas in a multimedia format combining text, image, and some of my favorite videos from Prager University.

For my first point, I’ll address the path to victory this fall before dealing with the bigger question of the problem with evangelizing conservatism in the remaining 6 points.

7. There are More Than Enough Apolitical People Out There Whose Minds Remain Unconquered by the Left.

With the yelling debates on the cable shows it’s easy to stumble into the belief that America is a “deeply divided” country. When looking at the numbers, though, actually only a small percentage of Americans participate in the Left vs. Right battle. There are plenty of other untapped pools of persuadable voters apart from those preset to oppose us.

Four facts about American political participation to keep in mind:

Only about half of Americans vote for president.
Just over a third of Americans vote in non-presidential elections.
For the 2010 cycle, only 0.19% of the population donated $200 or more to a political candidate, party, or PAC. This group of donors accounted for 66.5% of the money received.
In Septemer 2009 Pew polled on political participation in the previous 12 months. They selected 11 different political acts and found that 63% of Americans had engaged in at least one ranging in involvement from just signing a petition (32%) to attending an organized protest (4%.) Thus, the Pareto principle holds for politics too: “Taken together, 34% of all adults did one or two of the above activities this year, while an additional 16% took part in 3-4 activities. A highly-engaged 13% of Americans have taken part in five or more of these activities in the last year.”

A few facts related to those numbers:

Only half of adults can name all three branches of government.
Only 74% of Americans know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
Only 54% can define “free enterprise.”
Only 7% of Americans can name the first four presidents and only 30% know Thomas Jefferson was the third.
73% of Americans have no idea the United States fought communism during the Cold War.

Keep that last number in mind as I now explain six reasons for the futility of trying to shift others from Left to Right.

6. “You Cannot Reason Out What Was Not Reasoned In.” — often attributed to Jonathan Swift

Just because someone reads a book, it doesn’t mean they’re going to grasp what the author is saying.

From the dust jacket: “A Few Books Can Change The Way People Think. Still the Best Hope Is One of Them.”

But what if people don’t think? Or if they don’t even know how to think? What if they “think” with their heart or some other body part (like their skin or their genitals)? What good will Prager’s arguments be for them?

That’s the conundrum faced in trying to shift people from Left to Right through rational argument. When dealing with leftists, emotions sit on the throne. Often in dialogue they’ll say “I feel like you’re saying” and then spit back to you a garbled, straw-man version of what you actually said. You’ll regularly hear “I feel like” when they’re describing how they analyze some political issues. More rarely will you hear “I think.” This is a Freudian slip revealing that they’re not actually reasoning at all and are just ducking and weaving based on raw instinct.

****

A few weeks ago, like a smoker picking up a pack of cigarettes after a long hiatus, I returned to one of my bad habits: arguing with my old college friends about the political views that we no longer shared.

The Facebook friend whose name and image I’ve hidden with orange below is a graduate student who teaches math. During our undergraduate years we shared space on the college paper’s editorial page. When I graduated in 2006 he carried on the “Bush is a War Criminal,” “Republicans are Evil and Stupid” drum beat that I’d become known for in my 3 years as a weekly columnist.

Mr. Orange’s views have changed little since our college days. He never left the academic bubble, transitioning from undergrad to graduate school quickly. But I made the mistake of “going out into the real world.” The experiences of working two and a half years of “pay-the-bills” jobs was a chance to study capitalism and human nature up close in their natural habitats. Thus as I built up my freelance writing career part-time, I surrendered to one “conservative” understanding of life after another. When the opportunity presented itself to make the leap to full-time New Media troublemaker (an editorial position), it was for “right-wing” online publications. The ideas that I’d demonized and caricatured in college I’d now come to embrace.

So of course most of my progressive college pals defriended me. And I don’t blame them. Why would they want to hear my explanations for why I’d come to reject the views they still worshipped?

But to his credit, Mr. Orange has still stuck around, even though at times over the years our arguments have grown heated and personal. So when he posted one of the president’s propaganda images I saw an opportunity to give Prager’s arguments a test run and challenge my thesis. Is it really a waste of time to try and persuade leftists? I would try not to be too mean.

Little doubt where this was headed.

Yes, the color Pink is chosen intentionally to represent a friend of Mr. Orange. I had not encountered him before but soon he revealed himself as a history grad student working on his dissertation. He claimed to specialize in American slavery and it was not long into our conversation before he claimed mixed race parents but a black identity (as opposed to the bi-racial descriptor many with his background choose).

To demonstrate America’s racism, he presented this paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that claims those with “black names” like Lakisha and Jamal have a harder time finding jobs because of racist whites. I knew just the book to pull out to answer this, the same one that had changed my mind years ago. Here’s the first of 10 Tips for How To Talk to a Marxist Who Thinks He’s a Liberal (If You Must)*.

And yes, I am aware of the irony of including 10 tips for arguing with Marxists in an article advocating that we shouldn't try and convert leftists. The choice of verb is the distinction. By all means argue with Marxists. Just don't get your hopes up that you're accomplishing anything more than amusing (or depressing) yourself.

Get used to feeding ideas into the meatgrinder of the progressive mind and getting mutilated caricatures of what you’re saying fed back to you. That’s what they need to do in order to continue avoiding the next point.
*Apologies to Ann Coulter for borrowing her title.

5. Evil Is Something That Cannot Be Explained to Those Who Do Not Know What It Is. It Can Only Be Experienced.

Be happy for your “liberal” friends. They’ve been blessed not to comprehend evil yet. They’re still living in the Garden of Eden. Good for them. Maybe they’ll be lucky and never have to put their ideas to the test. Maybe they’ll never experience what Irving Kristol talked about, what it means for a liberal to be “mugged by reality.” Maybe they’ll never have to look a real evil person in the eye and experience the pain they can cause.

I never understood or appreciated talk radio until encountering Los Angeles traffic. Being stuck inching on the 405 or backed up because of construction on Sepulveda Boulevard isn’t that bad when a skilled host is there, perhaps interviewing a world class intellectual about his new book.

When PJ Media managing editor Aaron Hanscom and I carpool into the office (usually once a week for meetings), we try to time our commute so it overlaps with Prager’s broadcast here in Los Angeles (from 9 AM to noon). One of our favorite features on the show is when Prager takes calls from progressives who air their disagreements with his “offensive” views. As we hear Prager respond to an irate caller and ask precise questions, we’ll swap stories of times when we’ve been in similar discussions with friends and family members. We’ll compare the things we’ve said and the incredulous or angry responses we get back. Here’s an example of the kind of calls Prager takes on his show:

The discussions usually end with Aaron and me stumped as we try and think of things we could say to persuade those who have no interest in being persuaded.

Then one day while driving in to work it hit me. As we were talking and Prager played in the background, the traffic moving at a reasonable pace, I said something like: “You know maybe we should just be happy for them that life hasn’t given them a kick in the ass yet. Do we really want them having the kinds of experiences we had that changed us? Do we really want them to understand the fact that there’s more dangerous problems in the world threatening their well-being than ‘climate change’ and the right to have your contraception paid for by somebody else?”

Here’s another excerpt from my debate with the history grad student (the guy who’s going to be teaching your kids about America if he isn’t already):

4. Today the Conservative Movement Lies Fragmented, Infiltrated, Compromised, and Corrupted.

How can we fully rebut the Left’s smears of the Right when there’s usually an element of truth to every attack?

Something to note in Prager’s terminology: he chooses “Americanism” not “Rightism” or “Conservatism.” This is an important distinction and one he mentioned in his interview with PJTV.

Conservatives and those on the American political Right may articulate American values, but these two interrelated (and not synonymous) movements are not based in promoting them. “The Right” in any country refers to the side of the political spectrum that embraces a nationalist identity over an internationalist one. Thus, among the American Right there are numerous nationalist tendencies, and they don’t all agree about just what it means to be an American — just that it’s important for us to be one. Likewise among those in William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Conservative movement” there’s a general agreement about “standing athwart history yelling stop,” and the need to conserve American greatness. But there’s plenty of disagreement about what really needs to be conserved and how to do it.

In Chapter 3 Prager discusses “Why the Left Succeeds.” His third point: demonization of the Right. He notes the frequency with which leftists employ charges of racism, homophobia, and other smears.

Beyond the scope of the book, though, is the reality of a Conservative movement that tolerates a whole host of individuals and ideas in direct opposition to the American values Prager describes.

Ann Coulter in March:

“And just a more corporate problem is I think our party and particularly our movement, the conservative movement, does have more of a problem with con men and charlatans than the Democratic Party,” she said. “I mean, the incentives seem to be set up to allow people — as long as you have a band of a few million fanatical followers, you can make money. The Democrats have managed to figure out how not to do that.”

And who are the crackpots at the edges who live up to the Left’s demonizations about bigotry, cronyism, rigid ideology, and selfishness?

Antisemitic Paleo-Conservatives (Pat Buchanan)
Admitted White Nationalist Racists who write well
Anti-American and Antisemitic Anarcho-Capitalists and Paleo-Libertarians (Ron Paul’s cult reviving the ideas of the Old Right) who see nothing wrong with Iran going nuclear
Conspiracy Theorists making a fast buck peddling Birtherism and other nonsense like the US merging with Canada and Mexico
People who really do Hate Gay People and are just using opposition to gay marriage as cover for their bigotry
Stealth Jihadists Subverting the GOP’s Commitment to a Foreign Policy of Peace through Strength (See the Center for Security Policy’s full dossier on Grover Norquist and his protege Suhail Khan here.)
Theocrats (Exhibit A: Those who refuse to support Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon.)
Anti-Abortion Fanatics (Not the same as sane, pro-life activism that aims to change hearts through love and reason rather than shock and judgment.)
Narcissists who want to Turn Themselves into a Brand so they can transform their political connections into Greek cruises and large credit accounts at Tiffany’s.
Corporatists who peddle influence.

All these groups and tendencies compete within “the Right” and “the Conservative movement” for money, power, and converts. And their roots go too deep to be upended.

In the book Prager notes how he apologized to Rep. Keith Ellison who accepted it and told him his mother was a fan of his show...

3. Embracing American Values Does Not Require One to Join “the Right” or to Convert to Some Ideology Called “Conservatism.”

We don’t like to say it much in the conservative blogosphere but it’s true: you can still be a Democrat and live American values. The number of Blue Dog Democrats may be dwindling and Joe Lieberman may be an independent, but the patriotic, non-Marxists do still have a sizable presence even though right now the Soros-funded Alinskyites run the show.

In advocating for American values we’re really not asking for much. I can tolerate a pretty wide range of thought from my progressive friends. But everyone should be able to recognize that the Nation of Islam is a racist, antisemitic cult — and therefore has no place in our civic life. We have to at least be able to agree on the boundaries of discourse before we can make progress on much else.

Conversations about the self-evident unconstitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate are a long way away from where we actually need to start today. This is how low the moral bar needs to be set: having to explain why murdering political opponents disqualifies an organization from a place of respect in the culture.

Roger again, thinking about approaches for reaching through to the other side:

One tactic might be to take a more psychoanalytic/emotional rather than a logical/ideological tack. Look for areas where there is unconscious agreement. In some Hollywood movies, as my colleague Lionel Chetwynd recently pointed out, the film’s message is conservative even though its creators believe it to be liberal. (Lionel was speaking of The Hunger Games in which the masses are ruled by oppressive know-it-all elites who seem much like progressives taken to the next level.)

This approach argues for abandoning buzz words (conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian) and focusing on issues. Hollywood filmmakers aren’t the only ones who espouse conservative ideas when they don’t identify them with the “c” word.

But even if this is a good idea, it’s not easy to execute and does not necessarily translate into votes. And votes are what are necessary for change in this epoch.

It’s not easy to come up with new ways to frame American values apart from the Left/Right, Liberals/Conservatives models. So maybe the answer isn’t to go forward with a new map, but to take the oldest one and apply it to today in a new way.

2. Left Vs. Right Is not the Fight That Has Gripped Humanity Since Ancient Times.

To see the direction America’s defenders need to go we should look backwards at Prager’s previous books and forward to the one I hope he writes next.

One map is rarely adequate for anything but the simplest tasks. While Still the Best Hope provides an important service in mapping out the intellectual contest between Leftism, Islamism and their war to destroy Americanism, there’s a problem if one relies solely on it. By focusing exclusively on thinking about the fight as Americanism vs. Leftism and Islamism, we don’t realize other threats. We focus only on the enemy as something apart from us. As something “out there.” We rationalize ignoring threats within our own movement and we neglect defeating our own internal demons.

And so for this point and the next I’ll connect Still the Best Hopes with three other streams of Prager’s thought, and argue for understanding them in an integrated fashion. In addition to his analysis of political ideology and values, Prager also offers engaging thinking on three other subjects: Judaism, the differences between male and female sexuality, and the way to lead a happy life.

As much as I appreciate Still The Best Hope, if I had to pick one Prager book to air-drop copies of all around the world then it would be Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism, which he co-wrote with his best friend Joseph Telushkin. (See also their first book, Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism.)

Why the Jews explains the uniqueness of antisemitism and its root. Why do we find the hatred of the Jews as such a universal? What is it about the Jews that unites the radical Left, the paleo-Right, orthodox Islam, cults like the NOI and the KKK, and fringe pseudo-Catholic fundamentalists like Mel Gibson?

They hate what the Jews brought into the world: ethical monotheism. If you read only one Prager article, make it his summary of ethical monotheism, a key portion of which I’m including below:

Monotheism means belief in “one God.” Before discussing the importance of the “mono,” or God’s oneness, we need a basic understanding of the nature of God.

The God of ethical monotheism is the God first revealed to the world in the Hebrew Bible. Through it, we can establish God’s four primary characteristics:

1. God is supranatural.

2. God is personal.

3. God is good.

4. God is holy.

Dropping any one of the first three attributes invalidates ethical monotheism (it is possible, though difficult, to ignore holiness and still lead an ethical life).

God is supranatural, meaning “above nature” (I do not use the more common term “supernatural” because it is less precise and conjures up irrationality). This is why Genesis, the Bible’s first book, opens with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” in a world in which nearly all people worshipped nature, the Bible’s intention was to emphasize that nature is utterly subservient to God who made it. Obviously, therefore, God is not a part of nature, and nature is not God.

It is not possible for God to be part of nature for two reasons.

First, nature is finite and God is infinite. If God were within nature, He would be limited, and God, who is not physical, has no limits (I use the pronoun “He”" not because I believe God is a male, but because the neuter pronoun “It” depersonalizes God. You cannot talk to, relate to, love, or obey an “It.”).

Second, and more important, nature is amoral. Nature knows nothing of good and evil. In nature there is one rule—survival of the fittest. There is no right, only might. If a creature is weak, kill it. Only human beings could have moral rules such as, “If it is weak, protect it.” Only human beings can feel themselves ethically obligated to strangers.

Thus, nature worship is very dangerous. When people idolize nature, they can easily arrive at the ethics of Nazism. It was the law of nature that Adolf Hitler sought to emulate—the strong shall conquer the weak. Nazism and other ideologies that are hostile to ethical monotheism and venerate nature are very tempting. Nature allows you to act naturally, i.e., do only what you want you to do, without moral restraints; God does not. Nature lets you act naturally – and it is as natural to kill, rape, and enslave as it is to love.

In light of all this, it is alarming that many people today virtually venerate nature. It can only have terrible moral ramifications.

One of the vital elements in the ethical monotheist revolution was its repudiation of nature as god. The evolution of civilization and morality have depended in large part on desanctifying nature.

Civilizations that equated gods with nature—a characteristic of all primitive societies—or that worshipped nature did not evolve.

If nature is divine, and has a will of its own the only way for human beings to conquer disease or obtain sustenance is to placate it – through witchcraft, magic, voodoo, and/or human sacrifice.

One of ethical monotheism’s greatest battles today is against the increasing deification of nature, movements that are generally led (as were most radical ideologies) by well educated, secularized individuals.

When you’re a child first learning Bible stories in Sunday school, they can’t tell you the truth about what was actually going on in human societies in the Middle East 4000+ years ago. When you watch The 10 Commandments, the sequences where the Israelites start worshipping the golden calf just resemble a big, swinging party. They’re always vague about Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s because to depict what was actually happening in the world at the time you’d need a XXX-rating. And it just so happens that such films have been made today. One of the worst movies of all time, Caligula staring Malcolm McDowell as the mad emperor, depicts what happens when people engage in Idolatry. And it’s not sexy or erotic or fun. Instead you get wall-to-wall incest, torture, murder, and rape. Sex and violence are a unified force in the natural world. From the Praying Mantis biting her mate’s head off in the act to male lions cannibalizing the cubs of previous males — the natural world is a terrifying place. In worshipping animals or any aspect of nature, then human beings replicate that destructive impulse in their own lives.

That’s what the Bible is really about, though we don’t like to talk about it because it’s so disgusting and scary: the ancient Israelites’ battle against nature-worshiping sex cults that practiced human sacrifice. I always wondered why idol-worship was so important as to be above things like murder and stealing in the 10 Commandments. Aren’t those much worse than someone just praying to a rock? Nope. The Commandments are just listed in the order that they’re broken. Idolatry — worshipping an image, worshipping a noun — comes before any other evil act. Within the ethical monotheist tradition, God is not a thing we can comprehend. God is transcendent — God is a verb. Thus to worship God is to worship a verb — to transform into understanding ourselves as a state of permanent change and growth, not a static, defined image.

The male tendency to become absorbed by images is something built into us by nature, Prager argues in this video from Prager University on the power of the visual to the male:

Every man has a choice to make not just intellectually but sexually between idolatry and ethical monotheism. What does the man do with the snake between his legs? It’s the same choice the ancient Israelites faced over and over again: The animal thrill of holy prostitution with Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite or any sex goddess (nouns) vs. living based around the transcendent experience of a lifelong commitment to love one person in marriage (verb).

Does a man live his life seducing a new woman each week? Or does he commit himself to his wife? Does he fritter away his sexual energy fulfilling his lusts, or does he develop some self-control to transform his passion into creating and supporting a large family? (It is this subject — which Prager addresses regularly on his radio show — I hope he explores more for his next book. See the essays in Think A Second Time for more of the arguments he’s already made.)

Do we let our animal natures control us or do we take responsibility for becoming mature adults? We see this question answered in the lives of those who have sought the presidency and the families they brought along with them:

"When it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence education and teaching the children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. You know, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

The image of oneself as a persecuted minority is one form of idolatry challenging the American value of a Rule of Law which applies equally to all.

1. What Really Changes Leftist Hearts and Minds Is Not Words but Acts.

Just being a good person living a happy life will do more to shift your leftist friends than you can ever know. The way to be a good person is through imitating God. Note: one does not need to believe in God in order to imitate God. (Though as an agnostic theist I recommend both.) More important than what you think you are is what you are doing and how you are doing it. A person’s actions and their practical effects are more important than his intentions or beliefs in doing them. More important than believing in God is struggling with Him. You have to fight to rise up beyond your animal nature. That’s what “Israel” means — to wrestle with God. A very different way of finding happiness rather than through submission to an idol.