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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

FREE INFORMATION

"private correspondence is also a powerful tool for slandering climate data"

The Freedom of Information Act passed in 1966, the year after I was born.  Signed into law by a reluctant Lyndon Baines Johnson, it was a response to the increasing secrecy and untrustworthy nature of the federal government.
The principle behind the FOIA is that the federal government is subservient to the people of the United States and should, upon demand by the people, provide reasonable materials not critical to national security.  So you can demand the tax returns of a politician, but not the password to the CIA's secret files.  There are ten different categories to exempt information from the FOIA, which the government can reject a request under:
  1. (A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order
  2. related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency
  3. specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than section 552b of this title), provided that such statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld (this was later given more specific detail in the Privacy Act of 1974).
  4. trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential 
  5. inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency
  6. personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
  7. records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a State, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual
  8. contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions
  9. geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.
  10. information of a commercial nature, including trade secrets, whether or not obtained from a person outside the Postal Service, which under good business practice would not be publicly disclosed
Other than this, the federal government is required, under the law, to reveal information requested by individual citizens, within a reasonable time period.  There are fees involved, which can be somewhat expensive, which make the process more difficult and are of questionable nature, but they are partly there to keep frivolous requests from bogging down agencies.
This system has been copied by many countries around the world and there are FOIA laws in place in states as well as at the federal government level.  Such a bill would almost certainly never be passed today, as it limits government power and makes it more accountable to the people.  Since the time when this bill was passed, the philosophy of government has shifted to more rulership over than subservience to the people.
One of the things that stood out in the Climaquiddick Emails were several mentions of how to get around FOIA requests, what to block from being released, and what should be destroyed so it cannot be released due to these sort of requests.  Because these scientists were working for federal government dollars, their research fell under FOIA requests.
Michael "Piltdown" Mann and others fought very, very hard to keep from having to show their work, which any other scientist in any other setting would be glad to show.  They considered efforts to force them to show how they came to their conclusions and what data their reports were based on to be offensive and wrong, and whined that their opponents would use it against them.
To this day, much of the material Mann, for example, used for his "hockey stick" graph is gone, and the Eastanglia research center claims it was destroyed; the old "eaten by my dog" ploy.
Recently, Michael Mann sued Mark Steyn when Steyn pointed out quite factually that Michael Mann at no point received a Nobel prize for anything.  Michael Mann claims he did, and the university he works at claims he did.  Mann sued Steyn for his statements, and several people noted when the news came out that this was a very stupid thing to do.
See, when a lawsuit or court case takes place, there's this process called "discovery" in which the court requires the people involved in the case to totally and freely release information related to the case.  Michael Mann really, really doesn't want some of his work to be released to the public, and especially not to Mark Steyn.  So either he didn't really think this through very carefully, or he figured Steyn would cave based on the costs of a lawsuit.  Which if so, he hasn't been paying much attention to recent events - Steyn among others fought and beat the tyrannical Canadian Human Rights Commission not that long ago.
The lawsuit follies continue, with Mann starting to show signs this was all a terrible, stupid mistake and things aren't going well for him.  As predicted, Steyn's legal team is using the discovery process to dig out all kinds of stuff Mann has been keeping from the public (again, very odd behavior for a scientist not working for a company).
And others are trying to dig out Mann's work using FOIA requests.  They have tried again and again, and Mann's lawyers have been very successful at blocking these requests.  So much so that people are starting to take note, because these efforts have very wide-reaching significance.As Greg Greico writes in the Times-Dispatch:
Skeptics of climate change have filed requests for Mann’s emails under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. (Mann is an influential climatologist whose work has bolstered the case for man-made global warming.) So far, they have lost. And they have lost so badly that media organizations have sat up, taken notice — and filed a brief in the case.

The Virginia Supreme Court is weighing whether a professor’s emails are, as a Prince William County circuit court ruled, “proprietary” and therefore exempt from the state’s FOIA. The lower court ruled that proprietary records are those “owned or in possession of one who manages and controls them.” This has alarmed the media organizations, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the AP, the Newspaper Association of America, Reuters, Atlantic Media and several others.
What's going on here is that the judges are trying to decide the difference between personal materials and those pertinent to federally funded work, which is a tricky business.  Personal stuff that happens to be done while on the job paid for by the federal government is not federal business, and hence is not subject to FOIA requests.
But the judges here have defined this so broadly and unwisely that news organizations are alarmed.  Why?  Because this definition can apply to anything a university or college has.
The media groups note that the lower court’s ruling “literally writes into the exemption the very definition of a public record in Virginia. ... Under the lower court’s definition, no public university record would qualify for release under VFOIA because all university documents are presumably ‘things’ and would be ‘owned or in the possession of’ the university.”
If you're in the news or information business, this is not good at any level.  Further, it prevents people from digging into how public funds are being used by individuals who can just claim its "proprietary" and thumb their nose at the public.
Global warming alarmists saw how incredibly destructive the emails that were leaked under the Climaquiddick releases were to them.  Comments about destroying information, destroying enemies, using the peer review system to protect themselves and silence critics, and "hiding the decline" in temperature were devastating to their cause.  The mask was lifted, and people could see what an enormous scam this all was.
They don't want to have this happen, ever again.  So they're fighting hard to keep their work away from the prying eyes of people who are paying for it, demanding everyone just trust them despite past evidence that they're completely untrustworthy.
And because destroying emails relating to work government money pays for is a federal crime, they are hesitant to just wipe out their correspondence (although they admit having done so in the Climaquiddick emails).
So they're using lawyers and either sympathetic or not very bright judges to block any efforts to see their stuff, and in the process are creating precedent and legal basis for anyone to block FOIA requests.  This is much more broad and significant than just abuse of funds by global warming fanatics.
And the whole thing betrays a certain arrogance and condescension when it comes to power and the people of the United States.  You don't need this, you don't deserve this, shut up and do what you're told.  How dare you question us or require us to show our work!
These scientists are acting in this manner largely because their money is at stake.  I can't find how much Mann makes a year, but judging by his flying around the world and the cash he throws around for lawsuits and publicity, I suspect he does pretty well.  And, of course, the university loses money and esteem if their pet researchers are shown to be scammers and con men.  So they have a lot of reason to hide the research as well.
The government has always been very resistant to FOIA requests, because they just don't want to be bothered by the public and do not care to be accountable.  They've gotten more resistant as time has gone on and the imperial government philosophy has become more entrenched.  But universities and scientists following in the same path is a very bad thing.
These people want to be unaccountable, they want to do whatever they choose with the public's funds and then not be held to task for how they use it or what they use it on.  And that simply should not be allowed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

WHAT IS LOVE, ANYWAY?

What is love anyway
Does anybody love anybody anyway?
-Howard Jones, "What Is Love"

Valentine's Day is long passed this year, and we're a ways from June, the month in which most marriages statistically take place, but love is a pretty eternal topic.  Even the most curmudgeonly sort of person wants love, at their own pace and in their own way.  And while the legend of the Russian experiment raising babies without any affection is probably myth, it seems plausible that humans would wither away without any kind of kindness or affection.
Love in modern culture is portrayed in one of two ways: sex or infatuation.  The focus is either on emotional intoxication or love is just a euphamism for sexual activity.  "I just want to make love to you" means "lets make the beast with two backs."  This use is shocking and confusing today when older material is read and heard in songs when "making love" meant "pitching woo" or an attempt to get someone to fall in love with you.  It literally meant making love, not making babies.
The infatuation side gets the most attention outside of popular music.  Love stories are about the beginning of a romance, and while that culminates in marriage in many cases, the parts after marriage where you lose that explosive feeling of infatuation are left out of the tale.
Infatuation is essentially that massive buzz you get from having someone care so much for you and about you, that feeling of wonder that they really, really like you and want to pay so much positive attention to you, and that feeling of personal pleasure from liking someone else.  Its almost entirely self-focused: how I feel, how she/he makes me feel, that floating feeling that makes you forget to eat and what day it is.  How awful I feel when they aren't around, how great I feel when they are, etc.
It is drug-like in its power and intensity, and it only lasts a while.  Once you get really used to them and the little fun things they do start turning into the little annoying things you wish they'd quit doing.
And that's not love.
C.S. Lewis wrote a great book entitled The Four Loves in which he examined four different sorts of love, in increasing strength and significance, and what it all really meant.  Love is, Lewis thought, a positive thing, always good.  But it must be real love, not self-love.  He said the four loves are these:
Affection - The kind of love that comes from familiarity and fondness, such as love of a country, of people in your club, or family.
Friendship - The love that develops between people based on shared interest and common goals
Romance - The love between a man and a woman that is romantic in nature rather than friendship or affection.
Unconditional love - Love that is entirely outwardly focused and not based upon the person's character or action; love for its own sake.
Lewis was good about pointing out the difference between merely sexual attraction and real romantic love.  He said the distinction is between loving women and loving a woman.  Instead of being about sexual pleasure and conquest, it becomes about that one special person that can express its self through sex, but is not defined by and limited to it.
The tendency of modern society to reduce love to sex is seen in the general inability to comprehend how two men can be such close friends (Frodo and Sam, for example) without there being homosexual undertones.
Because people do not understand love, reducing it either to sex or infatuation, this leads to a great deal of confusion in society and how we should show love. It also leads to a great deal of confusion when someone says we should "be loving" and tries to explain Christian love.
For example, modern society's misunderstanding of love leads them to think that punishing or disciplining a child is not loving and should not be done.  If you do something the child dislikes, is angered or hurt by, then you're necessarily doing evil and not love.  Why?  Because love is being defined as "doing nice things" or "being nice to people."  Its the infatuation concept of love - the part that makes everyone feel wonderful.
The assumption is that doing anything that someone doesn't like, that offends or disturbs them, or is unwelcome cannot be love, since it is not something that leads to people feeling good and doesn't feel "nice."  Love defined as infatuation cannot accept the concept of doing something people might need and that benefits them that they view as unwelcome or unpleasant.
Again, in a culture that focuses almost exclusively on what makes you feel good, makes you healthy and comfortable, and on what makes you feel "sexy" the concept of discipline leading to a better person is abhorrent and alien.  Because society is perpetually stuck in a state of dating where you fear doing or saying something that will drive the target of your affections away, they misunderstand love completely.
Yet if you truly love someone, you must do things that at times they will not care for.  If you truly love your child, you will punish them for doing wrong, so that they understand that it should not be done, and will avoid that in the future.  And this loving response need not be punishment.
Here's a silly example.  Our cat Dexter wants to go outside so bad he cries about it.  He longs to be outdoors and exploring everything, he stares and stares out the window.  He thinks it would be the most wonderful thing ever.
We know, however, that if he goes outside he will be beaten up by other cats, get ear mites and fleas, and possibly be mauled by dogs and hit by cars, because he's a silly, friendly cat with no fighting skills and experience whatsoever with the wild world.
We know that its better for him to be inside, no matter how much he thinks it would be heaven.  We understand he's better off safer and indoors than outdoors.  And having battled fleas in the house, we're not going through that again.
To the cat, we're being unreasonable - as far as he understands reason - but this is for his good, no matter how awful it seems to kitty.  He's just a cat, so he'll never understand this, but humans usually do eventually, even if they dislike it at the time.
The truth is, its unloving to not punish the criminal.  Its unloving to not stop someone from doing something awful, and to not call someone to account for doing wrong.  Letting them continue in their deeds is damaging to them and to the world around them, which is unloving.  This violates the basic comprehension of love in modern culture, because they do not understand love at all.
Love is, as simply as I can put it, the greater concern for the other person than yourself.  It is when you put someone or something else above self interest and what you gain.  It is self sacrificing in this sense; an outward focus on the other person's good and well being even if they dislike how that plays out.  Not because you desire dominance and control, not because it feeds some personal need or fits a philosophical comprehension of the world, but because you desire to do them good.
As C.S. Lewis points out in his book, the closer you get to this totally outward focus, the closer you get to real, true, and pure love.  The less your love is tainted by self interest and self focus, the more loving it becomes.
And this brings us to a bit I wrote last week.  In my Christian Response series, I wrote about how Christians should react to the current push to crush any dissent to homosexual "marriage."  In it I said
Our response should be measured by love and humility, not frustration or anger, or even fear
...
So without being angrily defiant or bowing to the pressures of culture, we should be confidently, humbly, and lovingly true to God and His truth
A commenter responded:
Respectfully disagree with your moral equivalence on sins...to paraphrase, "all sins are equal, y'know, like, whatever".

NO.

Nor can one ONLY respond with "humility and love"...as you suggest.

THROWING OVER TABLES and CHASING WITH WHIPS goes along with that too, buddy.

AND: if the gaystapo insists upon thrusting themselves upon us ever more often with their ever more aggressiveness, there is EVERY REASON AND JUSTIFICATION to respond accordingly.

Humility and love? NICE WHEN YOU CAN FIND IT, BABY.

BUT IT AIN'T THE *ONLY* Biblically JUSTIFIABLE RESPONSE.
Now as far as this person's intent and meaning, I agree.  They are rejecting what society portrays as love: passive kindness and avoiding doing anything that offends or displeases the other person.  I agree completely with that attitude.  But that's not what I meant.
Christian love is not about being passive and nice, it is about focusing on the good of the other.  And while this is a subject for another bit entirely, real humility isn't about self deprecation or scuffing a foot and denying compliments, it is about being un-self-focused.  Real humility is when you genuinely and honestly recognize the greatness of others and delight in it, when you aren't thinking about you at all.  Its the kind of response a child gives when you compliment them - not gloating or self pride, but wonder and happiness at the compliment from someone else.
When I call for Love and Humility in these Christian Response bits, its short hand for this kind of response.  Not anger and fear, no defensiveness and bitterness, but genuine heart-felt concern for the other person and what is true.
Sometimes that love means compassionate support, sometimes that means strict holding people to account for what they are doing wrong.  Sometimes it means opposing them, but always with love.  How do you do this?  By being more concerned with them and the truth than you are yourself, by being more worried about doing right than being right.  By being more concerned about them than your cause or what you fear might happen or being angry about how they act, you're showing humble love.
The loving part comes from why you act and what you intend to accomplish, not what you do.  Because how you act comes from why, and is shaped by what you mean to do.  The actions you take in response to something are done in response to what is inside you and what you believe.  A call for Christian love and humility is a call to shape your response with that in mind and foremost in your desires, not success or punishment.
Ultimately love, real love, is actually what the world needs.  The problem is that people think love means never doing something people might call "mean" or "offensive."  Sometimes real love can bring offense.  There's never yet been someone thrown in prison who was not offended and upset by that action.   There's never yet been a child who wasn't upset they got punished for doing wrong.
But love requires us to take action even when that can be the response.  The problem is, if you utterly reject the very idea that there can be any overarching, absolute standard of right and wrong, all that's left is how you feel about it.  And when feelings trump truth and right, then you end up tailoring all your actions around how people react and feel about events.
And that's not loving at all.  Its pandering and traps everyone in a childish state of tantrum-throwing infancy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

PASSIVE RESISTANCE

"I honestly thought from my own standpoint that the vast majority would register"
-State Senator Tony Guglielmo

The United States has over 314 million people living in it, officially.  Unofficially its about 317 million, approximately; no one is exactly sure how many undocumented and illegal immigrants are in the US at the moment.
Of those hundreds of millions of people, the Obama administration is celebrating 7 million folks signing up to the ACA, or "Obamacare."  That's like having a room of 100 people and 2 sign on to your club.  Whee?
The fact that the 7 million number is deeply questionable is really beside the point.  Its been over half a year since the signups were started.  The deadline of March 31 to avoid a "surcharge" came and went (and was extended), which is partly why the big publicity push for the alleged 7 million; they looked like idiots because almost nobody's signing up.
That's how citizens of a country deal with laws they don't like.  By passive resistance.  Its long been known that if the bulk of a population ignore a law, there's nothing the government can do about it.  Sure, they can jail and attack some high profile people, hoping to intimidate the rest into obedience, but that's pretty much it.
And people are just resisting this law.  They don't see any need for it, they don't like what they know about it, and when they look into it, most find they have to pay not just more but a lot more for the same coverage they had before the "Affordable" Care Act went into law.
So people just are not signing up, and the president continually violating the constitution by extending the law over and over are only encouraging this behavior.  Clearly there's no urgency about signing up, and it looks like this thing will be delayed forever, as long as there's another election coming; and there's always another election coming.
Another case of passive resistance is Connecticut.  The state legislature passed draconian gun control laws and the governor signed them into law.  According to the Associated Press:
...beginning April 1, long guns cannot be sold or transferred without one of the following documents: a permit to carry pistols or revolvers, an eligibility certificate for pistols or revolvers or a long gun eligibility certificate.

State police say those documents also will allow people to buy ammunition. Anyone who wants to buy ammunition and not additional firearms will only be required to obtain an ammunition certificate.

Also beginning Tuesday, hunting licenses will no longer be accepted for the purchase of long guns.
These laws were loudly and extensively protested and opposed by the people of Connecticut, who voted these guys in to begin with.  That's how it works, people: you put them in power, why didn't you think about that before you voted?  But they aren't happy with these laws.
Connecticut isn't exactly a crime-ridden, violent state.  Only about 16% of the state actually owns any guns, and in 2010, the state had only 2.7 gun murders per 100,000 people.  Their murder rate is one of the lowest in the country overall.
Over 100,000 people own guns covered by the new law in Connecticut.  Of them, just under 50,000 have bothered to register.  One deadline has already passed, December 31.  The second was April 1.  The bulk of the gun owners have made it very clear they are not going to be registering anything, and think the law is idiotic.  The law refers to weapons with high-capacity magazines as "assault weapons," which is a good sample of the mindset.
Assault weapons is a nonexistent gun category except in the minds of leftist lawmakers.  It sounds scary but means nothing except "guns that make me scared."  But the press jumps on that kind of thing because they know little about guns and it sounds impressive and scary.  Who would oppose registering scary guns unless you're one of those bitter clinger types?
Here again we have passive resistance.  You have your law, and I have my decision whether or not to comply.  I choose not to comply.  Come for me if you want.  Its happening more and more these days.  And the people passing these new laws are the same ones that tore up their draft cards in the late 60s and early 70s; they should be familiar with the concept.
Cliven Bundy in Nevada was doing the same thing.  An area he and his family have been using for grazing cattle in for generations was declared protected lands because some turtle was found there and declared threatened.  The 600,000 acres of public land were declared "federal property" to protect the turtle in a massive land grab.  Of course, failing to pay his tribute to Senator Reid probably contributed to the response as well.  Bundy refused to stop grazing his cattle there, so the Bureau of Land Management send 300 men with guns to force his cattle off and keep him away.  
What the BLM was doing with snipers and gunmen to begin with is a matter of some concern.  In the past, they used to rely on local cops and the sheriff to handle this kind of situation but increasingly, the federal government is finding that local sheriffs are reluctant to help them.
So they started arming up their agencies to handle it on their own.  See, Sheriffs are actually very powerful.  They can tell anyone what to do in their jurisdiction; they are basically the highest authority outside the president in a given location and on their job.
Bundy has called on the local sheriff to arrest the BLM guys on trespassing and theft charges, because they are rounding up and "holding" his cattle, even on his land.  Recently, a clash between people supporting Bundy and the BLM officers ended up with folks being tasered and assaulted, including a pregnant woman and a cancer victim.
Bundy, along with many others, have decided "you pass your laws, and if you want to, come enforce them on me, but I've had enough."  How far this goes we'll see, but the truth is, people are, I suspect, getting a bit tired of the continual encroach of the federal government on their lives.  Its gotten worse and worse for decades, and lately has gotten out of control.  In the west, we've put up with the federal government taking more and more land for 100 years or more. 
Some speculate that a civil war is on the horizon; that eventually one event will shake the people out of apathy and all hell will break loose.  Others say we're already in a civil war - a cold civil war that began with the Eich firing at Mozilla.
Look back at recent history.  In 2004, the left pushed the idea of homosexual "marriage" by using county commissions to declare the concept legal, and gleeful activists rushed in to get "married."  The US reacted by over a dozen states passing constitutional amendments defining marriage as one man, one woman.  President Bush and Republicans all across the country won comfortable elections, dominating the state legislatures, governors, and US congress.  People saw what the left was trying to do and responded negatively.
In 2006, California, one of the most left-leaning states in the Union, voted for just such a constitutional amendment, and it won by a comfortable margin - so strongly that a recount and lawsuits were not even attempted.  The left went berserk, screaming hate and attacking people that supported it - well, politically comfortable ones, like Mormons, not blacks and hispanics that supported the bill by huge margins.
When the left has lost culture war battles, their response is not "well maybe we should calm down and try something else, or at least move more slowly" it is "double down and scream harder!!!!"  And so we've gotten to the point now that someone lost his job for donating to the campaign to pass that law eight years ago and having the audacity to not recant apologize.
That's where we are as a country: one side has decided full speed ahead on their agenda, no matter how radical, extremist, and outside the country's desires it is.  They have decided they're going to get all they want and damn anyone who gets in the way.
And so far, its worked.  If a vote was held in California now, the proposition would probably lose.  Homosexual "marriage" has gone from heteronormative oppressive concept to "well if you want, I guess" to "if you even question this concept, you're a hateful bigot" in five years.  In 2008, President Obama declared total opposition to the idea to get elected, but in 2012 he announced he was all for it to get reelected.
How far will things go, what happens next?  Just about every pundit is claiming the Democrats are going to be demolished in the next election.  I'm skeptical, but maybe so.  Its possible, if unlikely to me, that the nation has had enough and is going to start pushing back.  It is possible that the left pushed too hard, too fast, and were too arrogant about it and now there will be a backlash.
But honestly, I don't believe it.  Just because Democrats are increasingly unpopular doesn't mean Republicans by default are more popular.  As long as the Democrats can convince people that the GOP is worse, they stay in power no matter what they do.
And relying on the level of information and understanding in the public to fight this argument is not a winning strategy.  However it turns out, I don't see a big shift coming, though.  Internet Apathy and an overall level of ignorance and leftist cultural triumph are too well-seated.  People (somewhat gleefully, I fear) waiting for the war to start are going to be very disappointed.
Because the left has figured out how much people will submit to, and they haven't reached the limits of it yet.  Sure, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Patrick Henry and the rest would have picked up their rifles decades ago.  Sure, they would not even recognize their country any more.  But when the choice is between putting yourself and your livelihood at risk or staying comfortable, entertained, and provided for, almost nobody is going to pick that first choice.
And ultimately, even if the Republicans win a huge sweeping victory, does anyone, anywhere think it would be different?  That the Obama administration will in response back off their agenda?  That he would in any way be slowed or concerned with these events?  Or that the GOP would fight or slow any of this?  Because I don't.
Because the Republican Party always works with the next election in mind, and there's always another election.  They're afraid to do or say something they think might hurt their chances of being reelected, but its always either an election year or leading up to one.  The Democrats have decided no to concern themselves with that.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

YOU'RE A LOON

"My brain hurts!!!!"
-R. Gumby

A couple of stories lately have caught my attention for a few reasons and I thought I'd pass them along.  The first is from once-prestigious Dartmouth College, where a group of students took over the president's office and made their demands known.  The Wall Street Journal reports:
The demonstrators had a 72-point manifesto instructing the college to establish pre-set racial admission quotas and a mandatory ethnic studies curriculum for all students. Their other inspirations are for more "womyn or people of color" faculty; covering sex change operations on the college health plan ("we demand body and gender self-determination"); censoring the library catalog for offensive terms; and installing "gender-neutral bathrooms" in every campus facility, specifically including sports locker rooms.

Mr. Hanlon left after an hour and told the little tyrants that he welcomed a "conversation" about their ultimatums. They responded in a statement that conversations—to be clear, talking—will lead to "further physical and emotional violence enacted against us by the racist, classist, sexist, heterosexist, transphobic, xenophobic, and ableist structures at Dartmouth." They added: "Our bodies are already on the line, in danger, and under attack."
Upon being told that they were being threatening for claiming they would take "physical action" if their demands were denied, they burst into tears and insisted no threat was meant by this statement.
Crazy stuff, huh?  The other story is this one about animals. You know those petting zoos and donkey rides?  I remember we got one of those retired donkeys, so old he couldn't do the riding circuit any longer.  He was the most gentle, pleasant, and kind creatures I've ever known.  It was just such a pleasant creature and he didn't act abused or traumatized at all.  David Mark Simpson writes in the Santa Monica Daily Press:
Last week, resident and former congressional candidate Marcy Winograd announced her plans to squash the pony rides, calling them cruel and inhumane.

Winograd said that forcing the ponies to walk in circles for hours is made worse by the fact that children are encouraged to participate.

Her MoveOn.org petition has since garnered 239 signatures.
She's trying to get these shows and riding businesses banned for their cruelty to animals.  Crazy stuff, huh?
Here's what I'm trying to get at, in a circular sort of way: yes, it is crazy.  As in, not "wow that's silly!" but actually certifiable insanity.  See, we use "crazy" a lot of ways, usually to mean just something difficult to explain, irrational, or bizarre.  But sometimes it means actual get-the-straight-jacket mental damage.
There was a time when someone who would come up and demand you stop eating cheese because it hurts cows would be shuffled off politely and helped to get the assistance they so clearly need.  There was a time when someone would make demented demands and threaten violence, they would be treated like the unhinged loony they so clearly are.
There's more and more of these crazies out there, and they're give the full benefit of the doubt, treated seriously, and even heeded.  Their demented theories and incomprehensible chain of argument is treated with validity and sometimes even given in to.
As David Thompson points out, the number of examples piles up until you give up trying to list them all.
To list every recent and vivid example of this phenomenon would take forever, but a couple should illustrate the mindset. In March 2009, the writer Don Feder tried to engage students at the University of Massachusetts in a discussion of free speech versus so-called “hate speech.” Within 20 seconds, Feder had been shouted down, called a racist and assailed with epithets about his daughter. Despite his repeated calls for civility, Feder wasn’t allowed to speak for longer than three minutes without deafening interruption or further personal abuse - from people who want to show the world just how much they care.

The following month at UNC Chapel Hill, retired congressman Tom Tancredo tried to begin a discussion on the subject of illegal immigration. Students refused to let him speak for more than a few seconds. Collective hissing gave way to banging on the walls and windows, and chants of “No hate speech!” The university’s geography professor Altha Cravey - whose interests include “critical thinking,” “gender, race and class,” and “progressive social change” - saw fit to add her own voice to the chanting, thus signalling her approval of the students’ escalating vehemence.

uitably encouraged and determined to express their disapproval of what might at some point be said, protesting students began to physically harass Tancredo, holding a banner up against his face, preventing him from speaking at all, while others chanted, “Yes, racists, we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!” (The grounds for calling Tancredo racist were not made clear, though the term was chanted continually, as if repeating the accusation were morally sufficient. One student filmed the growing disruption with a phone camera, only to be obstructed by an indignant young woman who warned him, “You don’t take pictures of racists.”).
This isn't something that builds up once in a while, it happens just about daily, somewhere in America.  And it isn't brushed aside as "boy I hope those people get psychiatric help" but instead is treated seriously, and concern is stated about those young people's demands.
Dartmouth college sent power strips to the occupied President's Office so that the students could finish their homework.  They ordered pizza and the college allowed it to be delivered.  The proper response is to say "you're insane" and call security to escort the students out of the office, and then nail them with suspension for disrupting the college and threatening the faculty.
Why doesn't this happen?  Well among the many reasons is that the faculty is largely made up of people who did this kind of thing in the past, so they are sympathetic to the cause and feel like they can't condemn the actions they once took.  Another reason is that a college professor (named Russell Rickford, who calls Dartmouth "White Supremacy U" - yet still takes his paycheck and works there) is behind the sit in and is the rabble rouser who gets these wretches all stirred up.
But one of the biggest reasons is explained in the Wall Street Journal article linked above:
These downtrodden souls also have powerful allies—namely, the U.S. government. Since 2011, the Education Department has used enforcement discretion to expand the legal scope of Title IX (on sex discrimination) and the Clery Act (on campus crime). The civil-rights shop encourages activists to file legal complaints and threatens to withhold federal funding unless schools acquiesce. Dartmouth has been a target of this method for two years, but there are cases against Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Occidental and others.
For years now, the Obama administration, through the EPA, Justice Department, and so on, has been actively not just encouraging, but assisting radical extremists in their agenda, even encouraging lawsuits against themselves to create court cases, precedent, and an excuse to take action they otherwise might not be able to.  We had to pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars, they sued us!
The pony riding case is a classic urbanite clueless about animals freaking out because she can't imagine a pony being different than herself.  They have to walk in circles for hours!  The horror!  I would go crazy!  Its slavery, the ponies must be set free where they would.... walk for hours, over rough ground, avoiding snakes and mountain lions, searching for food!
It doesn't occur to this crank that the animals don't mind this at all, and if they did, they would express their displeasure and make it clear they are unhappy.  I know that's difficult to imagine, but animals do actually let you know when they are not pleased with something and its impossible to miss.
And she thinks petting zoos are horrible abuse as well.  Those poor animals getting safety, affection, and food!  Why the medical care alone is cruel enslavement!  They should be in the wild fending for themselves with parasites and freezing weather to contend with as Gaia intended!  If that rabbit isn't in danger of being eaten by a coyote, you make that Indian from the pollution ad weep.
Its possible this woman is just incredibly ignorant or stupid instead of insane, but she's certainly acting insane.  Its one thing to be so clueless about animals you think these events are brutality, but its another to print up signs and go sit at them protesting them as "animal abuse" every day.
The insanity goes on.  Recently at the Huffington Post, someone wrote a long article all about how white people using arts and music from minorities is cruel theft, a rape of their ethnic identity.  Cultural Appropriation he calls it, the evil act of when you learn from a culture and embrace their arts.  This isn't some fascinating concept or alternate system of ideas, its freaking insane.  You're not a deep thinker, you're a lunatic.
At some point, I'd like to believe our culture would stop a moment then say "you know what, you're crazy and I'm not giving you any  more attention, time, or money."  You can beleive and say whatever you want, but nobody is going to give you the time of day any longer.  Go mumble into your starbucks cup in a corner, loon.
But I know better.  The world is crazed, and this kind of thing is only going to get worse.  You can see what they're thinking.  In 2004, the left got utterly demolished after pushing homosexual "marriage" down the throats of a country that wanted no part of it.  It was a crazy idea, two men marrying.  Why not have a cat and a kitchen table have a ceremony and declare them married?
The response of the left wasn't "wow, we better back off" it was "FULL STEAM AHEAD!!!"  Now people think you hate everyone if you disagree wit this concept.  They're destroying careers over this topic.
It works, in a culture trained to be sensitive first, to be passive and not offend first.  In a world of super polite wimps, the one who is brutal and unapologetic wins.  The meanest, toughest guy always wins, and in modern civilization its not brute strength but force of will and refusal to back down no matter how idiotic or crazy you sound that makes you the tough guy.
Where does it end?  9/11 gave us a glimpse.  Every major disaster does.  When things go so horribly wrong we're forced to stop and see the world clearly again, putting on our They Live sunglasses so we see what's really going on once more, that's when the crazy recedes.  Sure, it comes back - even stronger than before - if the disaster goes away, or fades in our memories, but when that kind of thing takes place, it pushes away the frivolous, the stupid, the weak, and the crazy and brings the rock solid truth and reality.  It takes an act of God, really, to get through to modern man.