Hopelessness is happier! And cheaper!

Glenn Reynolds links a Reuters report of a new study, which he calls "MORE POTENTIALLY MONEY-SAVING NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF HEALTHCARE RESEARCH."

How true. Although cost-cutting is not specifically mentioned in this research report, a new meme is inescapable: save money by eliminating hope.

The Reuters headline makes a sweeping claim which I don't think is supported by the study at all:

U-M Research Shows Chronically Ill Patients Might Be Happier if They Give Up Hope
Yet the study didn't look at chronically ill patients generally, nor at "hope," but at colostomy patients, some of whose colostomies were temporary, and others with permanent colostomies. It should amaze no one that these two groups would experience the near future differently, and sure enough, they did. They found that people adjust to a permanent condition differently than they do a temporary condition! No kidding!
Study shows that colostomy patients who believed their condition was irreversible reported better quality of life than those with faith that they would be cured

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Holding on to hope may not make patients happier as they deal with chronic illness or diseases, according to a new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers.

"Hope is an important part of happiness," said Peter A. Ubel, M.D., director of the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine and one of the authors of the happily hopeless study, "but there's a dark side of hope. Sometimes, if hope makes people put off getting on with their life, it can get in the way of happiness."

The results showed that people do not adapt well to situations if they are believed to be short-term. Ubel and his co-authors -- both from U-M and Carnegie Mellon University -- studied patients who had new colostomies: their colons were removed and they had to have bowel movements in a pouch that lies
outside their body.

At the time they received their colostomy, some patients were told that the colostomy was reversible -- that they would undergo a second operation to reconnect their bowels after several months. Others were told that the colostomy was permanent and that they would never have normal bowel function again. The second group -- the one without hope -- reported being happier over the next six months than those with reversible colostomies.

"We think they were happier because they got on with their lives. They realized the cards they were dealt, and recognized that they had no choice but to play with those cards," says Ubel, who is also a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine.

"The other group was waiting for their colostomy to be reversed," he added. "They contrasted their current life with the life they hoped to lead, and didn't make the best of their current situation."

I think it is a mistake to extrapolate from such a study any vast pronouncement about "hope."

It is not hope that is at issue here, but certainty of outcome. People who are waiting for another operation which will restore them to normal are of course not going to devote a lot of time adjusting to the difficulty of using a colostomy bag, not will they be resigned to it. It's like the difference between temporary blindness and permanent blindness. If a patient were told after eye surgery that he was now temporarily blind, but in six months his vision would be restored by another operation, it would be pointless for him to get a seeing eye dog, learn braille, and spend the six months practicing navigation with a white cane, wouldn't it? Obviously, someone who really was permanently blind would devote his all to doing these things, because he would have a new life as a blind person. Surely, no one would argue that the permanently blind are better off than than the temporarily blind, would they?

The same would probably hold true with two groups of amputees who had lost a leg, with one group being told the leg was gone for good and the other being told about a new treatment that would grow a new, genetically-identical leg from the patient's stem cells, but that it would take six months to grow and another operation to attach. Which patient would be doing better with the crutches and the artificial leg in six months?

And if you were told by your doctor that you could not drive for six months, you'd probably be more miserable during that six months of not driving than if you had your license permanently yanked for medical reasons. The latter would mean you'd do a more thorough job of adjusting to no more driving.

What I would like to know is how is any of this is a lesson in hope. I see the problem as involving certainty.

The important thing is the time period:

The second group -- the one without hope -- reported being happier over the next six months than those with reversible colostomies.
over the next six months. In other words, it's harder to endure six months living with a temporary colostomy than six months of living with a permanent one. But I would be willing to bet that the temporary colostomy patients who had their full function restored (after six months) were happier than the permanent colostomy patients. (Why the study isn't interested in the eventual outcomes, I don't know.)

What's surprising to me is that anyone would be surprised by this. It's common sense, and I don't think it should have required a study.

Considering the obvious limitations of the study, the implications of the headline become almost sinister.

Again,

U-M Research Shows Chronically Ill Patients Might Be Happier if They Give Up Hope

How did this "research" show that in any way? I would not consider colostomy patients chronically ill once they have recovered from the surgery, and certainly those who later have normal bowel function restored are not. And since when does learning to live with a handicap (which a permanent colostomy certainly is) constitute "giving up hope"? Couldn't it be argued that it's the opposite? What worries me is the clear attempt to extrapolate from colostomy patients to much more serious and terminal conditions, when these things are not the same at all. But the authors go further than that -- even analogizing to death:

Loewenstein said these results also may explain why people who lose a spouse to death often recover better emotionally over time than those who get divorced.

"If your husband or wife dies, you have closure. There aren't any lingering possibilities for reconciliation," Loewenstein said.

So death is preferable to divorce. Who knew? Does this mean that it's better for your mental health to bump off your spouse than get a divorce?

The authors also fault doctors for being optimistic:

Ubel said health professionals find it easier to deliver optimistic news to patients even when they believe the prognosis is unfavorable, justifying it by assuming that holding on to hope was better for the patient.

Said Loewenstein: "It may be easier for a doctor to deliver a hopeful message
to a patient, even when there isn't much objective reason for hope, but it may
not be best for the patient."

"Hopeful messages may not be in the best interests of the patient and may interfere with the patient's emotional adaptation," Ubel says. "I don't think we should take hope away. But I think we have to be careful about building up people's hope so much that they put off living their lives."

I agree that it is a good idea to be honest with patients about reality, but there is something very sneaky about the way these people are talking. It's almost as if they're implying that even if there's an treatment available, it might be better to not tell patient's about it, or even withhold it. In the guise of helping them "get on with" a lower quality of life. I worry that the hidden goal might be to make it easier to rationalize not doing things like the second operation to reverse the colostomy.

It's bad enough to be talking about rationed health care and various cost-cutting methods to save taxpayers' money under a national health care system. But there's something downright creepy about coming up with "studies" that seem to imply that not doing a procedure like a colostomy reversal is better because it helps patients "get on with their lives."

How supremely condescending.

Who the hell gets to decide such things?

And what's next? Helping patients "get on with their deaths"? No doubt studies would show that people who have resigned themselves to death are happier than people struggling to live.

(I guess I should be glad they don't apply this "happier without hope" meme to politics or they might want to make elections illegal.)

UPDATE: Study author George Loewenstein is Sigmund Freud's great grandson, and a professor of Economics.

Hmmm...

I'm glad I didn't know that when I wrote this post. I might have been less dismissive.

(Not that there's anything rational about that!)

posted by Eric at 05:08 PM | Comments (1)



The importance of avoiding the unimportant

One of the paradoxes of blogging is that if you write about something, it tends to be seen as, if not the most important issue, at least as an issue more important than whatever it is you don't write about.

Appearances can be misleading. Sometimes, the most important things are precisely what I do not write about. There may be a number of reasons for this; often I'm sick to death of an issue, and I don't like the way contentious people have beaten it to death.

For example, I feel largely left out of the Sarah Palin debate (typified by this pro-Palin piece by David Solway which excoriates Rick Moran's Palin-skeptical piece), because my fix on her is largely grounded in my libertarian pragmatism. I have long believed that she may be the closest thing we will ever get to a genuinely libertarian candidate, and that while her libertarianism is not "pure" it does result from her government-hands-off, strictly constitutionalist approach, which I find very refreshing. I don't like the way her supporters tend to hurl cultural attacks at her conservative opponents, but they are not her, and to step into this fray and denounce cultural attacks is a losing venture, and I would appear to be anti-Palin. Those who don't like her plain-spoken, homespun style and who think the White House should be occupied by a patrician-style leader are just as entitled to their opinion as those who want a populist-style leader.

I don't see either "style" as necessarily right or wrong. What is important to me is what the leader would do. (In this respect, I am almost tempted to quote Deng Xiao Ping's "I don't care if it's a white cat or a black cat. It's a good cat so long as it catches mice," except I would want to commit an Anita Dunnism on the Internet.) A cosmopolitan, Ivy League libertarian with a Ph.D. from Harvard in my view beats a populist big government welfare statist from Small Town, USA with a degree from a community college. Likewise, I'll take the Small Town, USA community college libertarian over the Harvard-educated socialist.

So I'm more interested in what would be the likely result of a Palin presidency than in whether she's a big hit with people who go bowling instead of golfing, and I wish other people felt the same way.

Not writing about the endless cultural squabbling does not mean I don't think it's important, because obviously it is. To many people, pro and con, Sarah Palin's cultural attributes are not only very important, but they are the Most Important Thing.

The paradox is that because I wish these things weren't so important, I tend not to write about them. I mean, how do you complain about something being too important without making sound even more important?

Is this a case of "Methinks I doth protest too much?" If I don't think something should be important, then why on earth should I complain?

posted by Eric at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)




ClimateGate Charges Investigated

Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brechley, and Prof. Fred Singer are requesting that charges be filed against scientists and others involved in possible violations of Britain's Freedom Of Information Laws.

I can't wait for the investigations to start in the USA.

And don't forget to order copies of this book:

Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

Soon to be a collectors item.

H/T Libertarian Republican

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Welcome Instapundit readers.

posted by Simon at 09:31 PM | Comments (12)



Government Is A Criminal Enterprise

The government is in essence a criminal organization.

It can murder - through wars and punishment for crime.
It can print money.
It can make you a slave through taxes. (taxation is theft)
It can make you a slave through imprisonment.
It can kidnap you. (politely called arrest)
It can demand ransoms. (fines)
It can steal your property. (confiscations)

Now don't get me wrong. Government has a certain utility. And we have laws and limits (in so far as possible). But ask yourself. Who do you trust with that kind of power? Who do you trust not to get corrupted by that kind of power?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:49 PM | Comments (1)



I take a break, only to learn that huge news is being ignored!

It's always nice to take a break from blogging, and for the past three days I did just that. At no point did I have time to get online, not even to check email. The closest I got to blogging was a wonderful visit with M. Simon on Friday night at Rockford's Irish Rose Saloon.

MSESRockford.jpg

While we did not discuss current events much, I think I may have mentioned that I had stumbled across a major shocker which has been systematically kept out of the mainstream media, and that is the president's battle with lung cancer!

I kid you not. A relative who is better informed than I am had the inside report, and as I happened to have my camera along, I photographed the shocking evidence.

ObamaCancerTruth_s.jpg

There is virtually nothing about this in the MSM, and while the blogosphere has gotten too large to monitor, I for one will not sit idly by and ignore a major event that should be newsbreaking, but is instead being covered up.

Instead of the truth, ordinary Americans are being distracted by a sexed up story about Tiger Woods hitting a fire hydrant after being allegedly attacked by his allegedly jealous trophy bride. (The latter is rumored to be indignant over Woods' alleged affair with another bombshell who is in turn rumored to be hiring celebrity attorney Gloria Allred and suing the tabloids for their reporting.)

Obviously, such a story has all the elements necessary to provide a distraction, and I cannot help notice that Tiger Woods' wife is Swedish. And yesterday morning, I had breakfast at the famous Swedish Pancake House. In Illinois!

Coincidence?

posted by Eric at 11:10 AM | Comments (12)



The Proper Way To Argue With Heretics

Climate scientist Judith Curry has a few words to say about scientific integrity as it relates to climate science given the recent revelations of Climategate.

At the heart of this issue is how climate researchers deal with skeptics. I have served my time in the "trenches of the climate war" in the context of the debate on hurricanes and global warming. There is no question that there is a political noise machine in existence that feeds on research and statements from climate change skeptics. In grappling with this issue, I would argue that there are three strategies for dealing with skeptics:
And of course there really is only one way forward: open data, open methods.

Despite having doing the right thing as one of strategies, I find her attitude disturbing.

When you start a "reasoned debate" with "You are a bunch of a$%#*!&$ skeptics who will have to be dealt with." You have poisoned the well. Add that as one more indictment. Along with corrupted data. Bad programming practices. Unwarranted adjustments. And hiding the decline.

And just to continue in the current vein - any one still pounding the AGW drum with Bad Methods and Bad Data unresolved is complicit in fraud.

An honest scientist would say: "we have nothing and until we have sorted this all out I have nothing further to say. And let me add that I may have nothing to say for years or decades."

It will take a long time to sort this out. First release all the data and methods. Then we go over the papers of those involved in Climategate. If there are serious errors hash that out. Then go after every paper that cited the papers found to be in error. The other alternative is to start from scratch.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:56 AM | Comments (3)




Appetizers At The Irish Rose

Eric, my mate, myself, and a friend of Eric's from Michigan had evening snacks at the Irish Rose in Rockford. We enjoyed swordfish and grilled zucchini. We enjoyed it very much.

And instead of the usual blogger meet up crap (which I enjoy) we talked about our lives. A most enjoyable evening.

Did I overuse JOY? No.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:39 AM | Comments (4)



ClimateGate

Lots of links over at Glenn's.

My two cents as a professional programmer: it's pretty clear from the code comments that the CRU dataset is both junky and deliberately manipulated to produce a warming trend. This is devastating to the credibility of the entire field, because CRU is the most widely cited dataset in climate science, and GCMs are modelled against it. Worst of all, the damage can never be repaired, because CRU has lost their raw data and after this no one is going to trust their "value-added data," especially when they've been caught deleting data that was, shall we say, inconvenient.

It's interesting how this meme is evolving. Megan McArdle, a self-described "confirmed believer" in AGW, has said her basis for belief comes from the claims of consensus among scientists, and I think that's true for a lot of intelligent people. It's a fair cop -- after all, you can't spend your whole life personally verifying every scientific claim. We all have to rely on what amounts to a priori knowledge to a large extent.

Of course, we generally assume pretty strictly in the cases of scientists that our a priori knowledge is a fair representation of their a posteriori knowledge: we reason we can trust their claims because they are objective scientists whose work is carefully reviewed by other objective scientists.

That's why this is so damaging: the consensus is increasingly being shown to be politicially driven by activists who put their agenda ahead of their science. When your primary epistemological basis for costly political action is a consensus of experts, it's problematic when your experts have a clear political slant that compromises their objectivity (or in the case of James "Coal trains are Auschwitz! War crimes trials for skeptics!" Hansen, a fervent crusade that involves getting arrested outside coal plants). It's even more problematic when your experts are exposed conspiring to silence dissenting opinions.

I was mostly convinced of AGW in 1998, when I didn't know much about it beyond MSM coverage and temps were clearly going way up. After a graduate degree in Information Systems, I was considerably more skeptical they could actually predict anything accurately out to 2100 when so many variables were involved. Of course, all that was before bristlecones, Yamal, inverted datasets, a decade of flat temps, and now this...

posted by Dave at 09:06 AM | Comments (6)



Tom Ligon On Space Show

Tom Ligon is going to be on the Space Show this Sunday from 12 to 1:30 PDT. You can call in or listen. Information at the link.

You can also watch this interview with Tom.

And for those of you even less familiar with Tom. He worked with Dr. Robert Bussard on Polywell Fusion Reactor experiments. The experiments seem to be coming along nicely based on what little news has been released. In any case We Will Know In Two Years.

Update: 29 Nov 2009 2020z

I had my dates mixed up. Tom will be on the Space Show for Tuesday evening, December 22, 7-8:30 PM California time. There is a good chance I will be on the show as well.


Cross Posted at Power and Control


posted by Simon at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)




Brutal Territory

Karl Rove is getting the message (from polls) that American voters are upset about reckless government spending. I guess he has never heard of Tea Parties. Better late than never.

What seems to concern the president is not the problem runaway spending poses for taxpayers and the economy. Rather, what bothers him is the political problem it poses for Democrats.

Last year, Mr. Obama made fiscal restraint a constant theme of his presidential campaign. "Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending," he said back then, while pledging to "go through the federal budget, line by line, ending programs that we don't need." Voters found this fiscal conservatism reassuring.

However, since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout. He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill.

Obama promised to end programs we didn't need. What are we getting instead? Programs we don't want.

How bad is it according to Rove?

Ominously for Democrats, concerns over spending have recently helped to flip the Gallup generic ballot to now favor Republicans by four points (48% to 44%). Last year, Democrats held a 12-point generic ballot advantage. The change has been driven by independents, who now favor Republicans by 22 points. By comparison, in the run-up to the 1994 congressional elections, Republicans first eclipsed Democrats in March of that year, when they gained a one-point advantage, before falling behind Democrats until the fall.

Mr. Obama's spending choices are dragging congressional Democrats into ugly electoral territory where many are likely to meet a brutal fate next fall.

And if their Republican replacements don't do the right thing they will get replaced.

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:30 AM | Comments (5)




Kiwi Scientists Cooking The Books?

The Briefing Room which helped break the CRU data dump story (Climategate): Verifying The CRU Files, has a new blockbuster out about climate "science" in New Zealand. NZ's NIWA accused of CRU-style temperature faking.

UPDATE 15:49 NZDT - NIWA's news release in response to this story appears to have been delayed, and according to a radio news report a few minutes ago Rodney Hide, leader of the minority Act Party and a minister in the National Government, is now calling on his Cabinet colleague, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith, to "please explain" [normal transmission now resumes]

The New Zealand Government's chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn't there.

The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain's CRU climate research centre.

Well yeah. The IPCC is a UN job. Why wouldn't it be a world wide conspiracy? I mean. You know. If it really is a conspiracy.

Any way. The Briefing Room (TBR) has details graphs and data. And from what I can tell some one leaked the data to TBR. You know climate science could get so leaky that it no longer holds water.

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water." -- John W. Gardner, Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1962

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)



Happy Thanksgiving!

No time for a long essay today, as I am about to hit the road along with millions of other cannibalistic turkeys in search of food.

Blogging will be spotty to non-existent for the next few days, but with any luck there will be content of one sort or another.... So have fun, enjoy the holidays, and most important of all,

turkey-chop-sm-url.gif

Don't axe, don't tell!

(Sorry, but I had to get a cutting remark in before I hit the road.)

posted by Eric at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)



Everything You Know Is Wrong

Well not everything. But more than quite a lot. Eric at Classical Values was discussing that with respect to advertising and fads. Including medical and scientific fads. You know the deal. Trust but verify.

Before seeing Eric's post I came across Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

Summary

There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.

He does discuss it. Several pages worth - with foot notes that include external links.

One point that should be made is that biases are hard to maintain indefinitely. One day you will meet Heidi Cline and it will all be over.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:50 AM | Comments (2)



Giving Thanks

We have so much to be thankful for. Not the least of which is abundant energy which makes our lives so comfortable. At ECN Magazine I have reposted an idea I had from November of 2006. The idea is to develop a neighborhood energy source and storage unit along with communications facilities that could be dropped into a neighborhood to start improving life. Also included would be water pumping and storage modules.

I only mentioned wind power in the article, however any energy source that makes sense in a particular location could be added or interchanged.

The changes from 2006 are adding an off the shelf battery with included motor generator set and substituting WiFi and laptops for a TV station and television receivers. Read the article. There are links.

So what about giving thanks? One way would be to do what you can to make something like this happen.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:20 AM | Comments (0)



Random Thoughts

From Frank J:

Work extra hard knowing your money is going towards getting poor people prison sentences for not buying health insurance.

Heh. More here.

posted by Dave at 01:29 AM | Comments (0)




Some skeptical thoughts about scientific bandwagons

The more the CRU Climategate scandal unfolds, the more likely it is to do some serious damage to the Anthropogenic Global Warming scientific bandwagon.

Not only has the word "gate" been securely attached to it, it has been likened to Vietnam, and clearly it is the biggest blow the Global Warmists (yes that is a term now) have suffered yet.

I'm thinking that it might be analogous to yet another burst bubble, although it's probably too early to tell whether it really has burst. The sort of massive collapse that characterized burst bubbles involves more than criticism and condemnation from skeptics; and a legitimate concern might be that the resultant collapse in public trust might extend beyond the global warming bandwagon.

By any standard, though AGW is a classic bandwagon. Bandwagon thinking comes and goes, but the global warming bandwagon has been one of the most relentless ones I have ever seen. I've seen a lot of fads, but these have usually been cultural or political; nothing quite like the strange, very forced interplay between science and politics at the heart of what is called "Global Warming." Or the more recent term "Climate Change" (calculated to sound more palatable to skeptics, for who would not agree that climates are subject to change?)

My problem with bandwagon thinking is twofold. First, there is nothing logical about a bandwagon, whether from a scientific perspective or not:

Logical fallacies are types of arguments that are invalid. Once you know the logical fallacies, you can recognize them in arguments constantly. Knowing these can really help to decipher what is true and is what is pure baloney.

The first logical fallacy I wanted to do is a clear example of just how ridiculous these arguments can be. The argument basically says lots of people agree with what I am saying, therefore I am right. The number of people who agree with something has no bearing on whether or not it is true. For thousands of years people believed the Earth was flat; that didn't make it true.

You hear this fallacy used in advertisements a lot. They try to convince you that because other people use their product, it works. Just think of how many times you have heard the line "the trend that is sweeping the nation." This says nothing about the product being advertised except that it is widely used. Don't believe in or use something just because it's popular. Look for the evidence.

This can be said about anything. Belief in Global Warming, belief in a political platform, or belief in God. (The fact that lots of people believe in God no more proves the existence of God than the fact that lots of people believe in atheism disproves the existence of God.)

The second problem I have with bandwagons is personal. I don't like them. Not liking them is also a logical problem, as I freely admit. Because, just as bandwagons can be wrong and misguided (like the Prohibition bandwagon), they can also be absolutely right (like the microbe bandwagon). So ideally, just as I should not allow the existence of a bandwagon to compel me to adopt an idea, nor should it deter me from adopting it. Easy to say, but harder to implement.

So, I am an admitted skeptic, and I probably err on the side of skepticism too often. But OTOH, my skeptical and contrarian outlook is fueled when I read that popularity can lead to inaccuracy. Yes, even in science, where skepticism is supposed to be built in.

Here's an abstract from a study titled "Large-Scale Assessment of the Effect of Popularity on the Reliability of Research":

Based on theoretical reasoning it has been suggested that the reliability of findings published in the scientific literature decreases with the popularity of a research field. Here we provide empirical support for this prediction. We evaluate published statements on protein interactions with data from high-throughput experiments. We find evidence for two distinctive effects. First, with increasing popularity of the interaction partners, individual statements in the literature become more erroneous. Second, the overall evidence on an interaction becomes increasingly distorted by multiple independent testing. We therefore argue that for increasing the reliability of research it is essential to assess the negative effects of popularity and develop approaches to diminish these effects.
I have seen no evidence to suggest that this was ever done in the case of Global Warming. (The Climategate evidence suggests that quite the opposite occurred.)

Fascinatingly, less controversial scientific bandwagons are subject to the vagaries of political whim, as the vaccines-cause-autism meme in the last election cycle showed:

No matter who wins in Pennsylvania today, the next President of the United States will support research into the growing evidence of some link between vaccines and autism.

Senator John McCain has already expressed his belief that vaccines and the mercury containing preservative thimerosal could be implicated in what he has rightly termed an "autism epidemic."

Senator Hillary Clinton, in response to a questionnaire from the autism activist group A-CHAMP, wrote that she was "Committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines." And when asked if she would support a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, she said: "Yes. We don't know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism - but we should find out."

That's all fine during an election, but now that we have a media-annointed president and a burgeoning flu epidemic, the people kvetching publicly about vaccines and autism now tend to be right wing kooks. What are the implications for science?

I can well remember how slow the AIDS bandwagon was to develop. Many activists on the left and the right were skeptical, and many continued to be skeptical, because there are some unexplained holes in the theory. (There are always holes in theories.) This ultimately led to officially implemented, government-sponsored AIDS skepticism in certain countries, and (so the mainstream AIDS bandwagon community argues) to many deaths:

...from 2000 to 2005 South Africa implemented policies based on the belief that HIV does not cause Aids, and declined to roll out adequate antiretroviral therapy. It has been estimated in two separate studies that around 350,000 people died unnecessarily in South African during this period.
Let me add that I think that it's a shame people had to die. I guess that puts me on the side of the AIDS bandwagon community, but I lost a lot of friends -- way before the current AIDS drugs were developed -- and I sincerely believe that HIV was the culprit. I don't care whether my views are in accord with the scientific majority, whether it's an "overwhelming scientific consensus" or not.

Similarly, notwithstanding the skeptics, I suspect there must be some relationship between cholesterol and heart disease, because I find it hard to believe that the world's cardiology community is driven by a bogus bandwagon at the behest of Big Pharma. I may be wrong, but if that were to turn out to be the case, I don't know whether I would ever trust a medical doctor again. (But what bandwagon could I join? Some homeopathic/natural herbalist bandwagon?)

For better or for worse, bandwagons seem to be an inescapable part of science, probably because scientists are people, and bandwagon thinking is an inescapable part of human behavior.

And much as I might not like it, a good argument can be made that bandwagons actually help advance science:

This paper analyzes the development of a scientific bandwagon in cancer research using a social worlds perspective and qualitative methods. It shows that a "standardized" package of oncogene theory and recombinant DNA technologies served as a highly transportable interface among many different laboratories and lines of research. That is, the package promoted intersections among different social worlds which, in turn, facilitated the rapid development of oncogene research and the larger molecular biological cancer research bandwagon. The paper proposes the bandwagon as one process by which conceptual shifts in science occur and shows that the process of such change is inseparable from both the local and broad scale organization of work and technical infrastructures.
Why would anyone oppose a mechanism that works, especially when it works?

I say this in full awareness of medicine's tonsillectomy bandwagon in the earlier 20th Century. Or the even more egregious lobotomy bandwagon in the 1950s. But if a doctor scrubs before surgery in obeisance to the microbe theory bandwagon, I would argue that's a good thing.

Who would want to be operated on by a contrarian doctor who refused to wash his hands?

And while this may reflect my anti-bandwagon bias, I'm not entirely sure I would trust a doctor who belonged to the green "sustainable healthcare" bandwagon that's catching on. I'm not even sure I would trust my heathcare to a doctor who belonged to the outdoor clothesline bandwagon, for example.

...the original reason clothes lines fell into disfavor: they connote poverty.

Many subdivisions and home associations ban outdoor clotheslines for the same reason they ban sofas on the front porch and Dodge Chargers on cinder blocks. Who can forget the maze of clotheslines blotting the landscape in turn of the century immigrant ghettos in the US--none with clothes you would wear or steal?

But with new awareness of carbon footprints, the clothes drier is now seen as a juice guzzler like big freezers and refrigerators. Especially because clothes will dry by themselves if you are only patient.

So as clotheslines are destigmatized more families will be hanging their clean laundry in public. And it won't always be possible to tell if the reasons are environmental or economic. Especially with college kids, who also tend to have the sofa on the porch.

Maybe it's just me being selfish, but I don't want a doctor who worries about my carbon footprint, OK? I'd worry that such a doctor might believe in other goofy ideas. Like the anti-diaper bandwagon or some equally "scientific" back-to-nature meme. If I knew that a doctor who didn't want to waste water was letting his kids do number two on the floor at home, I might question his judgment in other areas (maybe even handwashing).

But maybe shouldn't be such a bandwagon skeptic. I'm probably at risk of becoming a crank.

posted by Eric at 11:09 AM | Comments (13)



Hide The Decline

And wouldn't you know it. There is a book due out on 1 December called:

The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the Obsession with "Climate Change" Turning Out to Be the Most Costly Scientific Blunder in History?

I think "blunder" is too nice a word. It is looking more and more like fraud.

You can have a look at the "hide the decline" e-mail at Climate Files Hacked. You can also search the e-mail files at CRU e-mail Search Online

Tommy James Draggin' The Line.

H/T Watts Up With That

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:19 AM | Comments (2)




The Next Big Discovery Channel Program?

Iowahawk Geographic ventures into the strange and wonderful ecosystem of the climate researcher:

Our very planet depends on them. Yet they remain nature's most elusive scientific species, inhabiting some of the world's most delicate and daunting academic environments. But thanks to new breakthroughs in high speed cameras and email files, metascientists are finally beginning to understand their mysterious behaviors and complex social interactions. Tonight on Iowahawk Geographic: step inside the Secret Life of the Climate Researchers.

Sadly, their majestic beauty is threatened.

posted by Dave at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)



Just doin' my job!

Regular readers know that I am not a fan of WorldNetDaily or Alan Keyes, nor am I impressed with the various Birth Certificate conspiracy theories. But sometimes fantasy collides with reality, and when it does, I have to become a patient analyst.

At least in terms of free speech, this is still a free country. People can rant all they want about anything they want, but when the government comes to get them, then I become alarmed. I would defend the free speech rights of Nazis or anyone else, and when I see allegations and discussion about someone being threatened with arrest and prosecution for free speech, I want to know what is going on.

Please bear with me, as I'm trying to be thorough here. What set me off was a claim -- by Alan Keyes in WorldNetDaily -- that a federal visit to question the Reverend James David Manning about his statements was "an intolerable assault on the constitutional freedom of every American."

Rev. Manning produces a daily video series in which he has repeatedly and consistently aired these views. Now it appears that the YouTube account through which he shared these videos with the public has been suspended on the grounds that his views are too controversial. Close on the heels of this obvious effort to limit his ability to communicate with the public, he now reports that he has been visited by federal agents who questioned him about statements he made regarding "the birth certificate issue" and his opinion that Obama is an illegal alien, not qualified to be president of the United States. As a result of this visit, Rev. Manning says that he expects to be arrested and charged with making threats against the president.

I have followed Rev. Manning's broadcasts and statements for some time. He is forthright and outspoken in his religious and political views. He speaks with a boldness that is surely offensive to people who believe that civility requires silence even in the face of the stratagems of deception now being perpetrated against the American people. But I see nothing that he has said or done that warrants interference with his freedom of speech. Both YouTube's actions and those of the federal and New York City officials who visited his church appear to be in clear violation of his constitutional rights and part of an effort to intimidate him and others who are outspoken critics of the coup d'état being perpetrated by the Obama faction and its fellow travelers among the elites, who are working to accomplish the overthrow of our constitutional republic.

The repression of Rev. Manning's views is an intolerable assault on the constitutional freedom of every American. However disagreeable his voice may be to others, including the present occupant of the White House, his right to voice his criticisms is clear and undeniable. So is his right to seek redress of grievances that threaten the sovereignty of the American people and of every American as a member of the sovereign body of the people. Respect for these rights is one of the bedrock prerequisites of government of, by and for the people. Efforts to thwart and repress their exercise constitute a clear and present danger to the liberty of all Americans. Like the darkening skies and rising winds that announce the landfall of a hurricane, this move to silence Rev. Manning ominously foreshadows the next phase of the elite assault against the Constitution and people of the United States.

The repression of Rev. Manning's views is an intolerable assault on the constitutional freedom of every American.

Etc.

Assuming the federal visit took place (which I think it did), is it an assault on the constitutional freedom of every American? Exactly what happened? Are questions like that still relevant? Perhaps not to conspiracy theorists like Keyes, but my worry is that if statements like that go unexamined, the chorus of people thinking we're living under martial law and being ruled by a foreign usurper will grow. (Which means that as an enemy of civil war in the United States, I feel an obligation to pay attention when they make claims like this one.)

Manning has a number of defenders who simply say he never threatened the life of anyone but that "God will use his arrest to finally bring about the truth regarding Obama's citizenship." And Manning himself has released this long explanation of why he does not advocate the assassination of Barack Obama.

It took me some time to locate the actual video in question which interested the feds, which I found referred to (but not linked) at a Freeper discussion and in various posts.

I had long considered Manning to be a kook, but while searching for the video that led to the federal visit, I learned that the man (Wiki entry here) is even more of a kook than I thought. Perhaps I am sick and jaded, but I find his videos quite entertaining from a humor standpoint, and his buffoonish style reminds me of Jeremiah Wright.

Here in "White folk ain't gonna take it no mo!," he carries on at great length about how white folks will and should riot, how NRA members will be coming into black neighborhoods to shoot people, and he concludes by singing a song about Barack Obama's alleged homosexuality:

"Obama and Larry Sinclair, they had a steamy love affair!"

I am not alone in finding him funny; Howard Stern knows talent when he sees it, and has had him on his show.

And in what I was looking for -- the video which interested the federal agents -- he calls Glenn Beck a "Nazi Idiot," beseeches the Tea Bag people to go viral about the birth certificate issue, and generally condemns the futility of the Tea Party Movement for its failure to properly combat the destruction of the Constitution and the United States, which requires focusing on the real issue, which Manning sees as Obama's foreign birth.

In the video, he actually says "Hang him!" and "Shoot him!" in reference to President Obama, and as I try to be thorough, my transcription of his words follows.

At 4:16 comes this advice for the "Tea Bag" people:

Don't you understand? White and black. They don't care!

And you act like you don't care! I'm telling you. Runnin around with these tea parties ain't gonna do nothing. All these elections all these people all this stuff is going on. And if Obama fails they'll put a bullet in his head and get somebody else up there. They'll have John McCain doin. They don't care! And John McCain will set out and do it.

So will Sarah Palin! You gotta clean house! Gotta take Obama to trial, put him in jail for the rest of his life, or hang him!

Shoot him on the Washington --- First crime, find him guilty and the punishment for treason is, a death sentence!

And then clean the rest out. Go get Hilllary. Go get John McCain. Go get George Bush. Go get Dick Cheney too! Get em all!

And then we can start over again. Reconstruct this great nation....

When someone says "hang him!" and "shoot him!" with reference to the president of the United States, it is the job of the Secret Service to investigate -- which they probably did, and which they certainly should. Considering his statements in the video, it is extremely misleading to say that "federal agents" "questioned him about statements he made regarding "the birth certificate issue" and his opinion that Obama is an illegal alien. I don't know whether his arrest is imminent as he claims it is, but he was really pushing the envelope, and what he said almost sounds as if it had been deliberately scripted to provoke an investigation, yet because he does not actually advocate assassination, it falls short of the standard needed to bring actual charges. I can remember back in the early 70s late 60s when a Black Panther leader said "We will kill Richard Nixon," (along with "any motherf-cker that stands in the way of our freedom") they were unable to make a charge stick, as it was not specific enough. Unless the legal standard has changed since then, I think Manning's call for trials followed by executions does not rise to the level of a direct threat that bringing a formal legal charge would require.

But they had to question him -- and they should question anyone who talks like that in order to find out exactly what they mean, and whether there was a threat to kill the president. (Legally, the Secret Service has to investigate such statements as part of their job.)

As to why he would talk that way, it's pure speculation on my part, but a post in support of Manning made me think that the goal might be to deliberately trigger an arrest in order to get a foot in the door for an actual federal court trial on the Birth Certificate issue:

Though he did not go into detail about the specifics of the alleged encounter (and probably with good reason), Manning did say that the agents asked him about certain statements that he made about President Obama in a video message distributed by ATLAH Ministries entitled "Tea Party Members: Go Viral On The Birth Certificate".

Manning can explain this alot better than I can, so further details regarding the comments in question can be heard in the video by Pastor Manning at the end of this post.

Pastor Manning also said he expects to be arrested within the next few days and charged with "the threat against the life of a U.S. President", and that he believes that this arrest is "imminent".

However, Manning says he welcomes the arrest and will not attempt to resist. He believes it is possible that God will use his arrest to finally bring about the truth regarding Obama's citizenship.

The latter is quite interesting (although I don't think it's up to God), because if he had been charged with threatening the life of the president, his lawyers might claim in his defense that because the law makes it a crime to threaten the president of the United States, and because every element of the crime must be proven, that it is vital to his defense to explore the birth certificate issue in detail. Doubtless, some of the more radical Birth Certificate Truthers (some or whom seem already allied with Manning) could be expected to support this position wholeheartedly -- as their one hope of finally seeing the "long form" they've been demanding. Of course, the downside is that if the documents prove conclusively that Obama was born in Hawaii, then the case would continue. (Unless the "natural born citizen" argument is raised too. But for reasons I explained here, I think that the courts would reject it out of hand.)

Again, this is pure speculation, but if my suspicions are correct, the whole matter reveals not an "intolerable assault on the constitutional freedom of every American," but shows the irresponsible lengths some people are willing to go for an irresponsible cause.

So basically, Reverend Manning was just doing his job when he said what he said. And the Secret Service were doing theirs.

And because I don't want a civil war, I'm just doing mine.

MORE: Presidential treason is not new. It didn't start with Obama, or even Bush.


Wanted_for_treason.jpg

posted by Eric at 12:20 PM | Comments (4)



Check It Out

George Monbiot, one of the staunched supporters of the CO2 causes global warming belief, says that based on the ClimateGate revelations the science needs to be re-evaluated.

It's no use pretending that this isn't a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them.

Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.

Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.

Monbiot also had this to say:
I apologise. I was too trusting of some of those who provided the evidence I championed. I would have been a better journalist if I had investigated their claims more closely.
There is no certainty that the e-mails were illegally obtained. But that is a a minor quibble.

The point is that the release of this information has rightly or wrongly cast the whole enterprise into a disreputable light. The only way to fix the situation is to:

Do A Climate Audit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:19 AM | Comments (1)




I was wrong and the feminists were right!
So where are they now?

It took me a long time to finally come around on this one, but for years I rolled my eyes when I heard feminists kvetching about how the Barbie doll was a sexist icon which was oppressive to women. I studiously ignored the argument that Barbie dolls encouraged the subjugation of women to men by conditioning little girls to accept their role as half starved and stupid man-pleasers.

I ignored all of this and more. But now I see that they were right. Subjugation of women was the evil Mattel's intention all along.

Just look!

burkabarbie.jpg

No, it is not a joke, and it is backed by Mattel:

One of the world's most famous children's toys, Barbie, has been given a makeover - wearing a burkha.

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby's for Save The Children.

More than 500 Barbies went on show yesterday at the Salone dei Cinquecento, in Florence, Italy.

Makers Mattel are backing the exhibition which is the work of Italian designer Eliana Lorena.

Talk about conditioning children into accepting subordination to men!

I guess I should have listened to the feminists.

Naturally, some women are irate. Dr. Phyllis Chesler is calling for a boycott of Burqa Barbie, and she's absolutely right.

What I can't figure out is why there's nothing up about Burqa Barbie at the National Organization for Women's website.

Considering the fact that they still sell anti-Barbie buttons and T-shirts, you'd think they'd be hopping mad over this latest outrage (which is without any doubt the most sexist Barbie ever introduced). But there's nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip.

While this might be an oversight, there just doesn't seem to be much by way of complaints from angry mainstream feminists. Why is it that the only women who are standing up for the rights of women these days are non-lefties like Phyllis Chesler? And Michelle Malkin, who wonders "whether the dolls will be subjected to female genital mutilation or come with stoning pits in order to accurately represent their 'diversity.'"

As I say, it took me a long time to come around on this feminist issue. But now that I'm there, where's the chorus of angry mainstream feminists? This is after all the most sexist Barbie ever.

Surely they're not OK with subordinating feminism to Sharia Law?

posted by Eric at 05:06 PM | Comments (8)



Support For Legalization Getting Higher

Great news for civil liberties:

The same day they rejected a gay marriage ballot measure, residents of Maine voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of medical marijuana over the counter at state-licensed dispensaries.
...
The shift is widely described as generational. A Gallup poll in October found 44 percent of Americans favor full legalization of marijuana -- a rise of 13 points since 2000. Gallup said that if public support continues growing at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year, "the majority of Americans could favor legalization of the drug in as little as four years."

Some have claimed this would lead to more crime. This reply is too good not to quote:
"Seriously," said Bruce Merkin, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group based in the District, "there is a reason you don't have Mexican beer cartels planting fields of hops in the California forests."

posted by Dave at 03:09 PM | Comments (1)



The thrill (up his leg) is gone?

I don't know what else to conclude after seeing this, but Chris Matthews is looking downright disenchanted with Barack Obama:

Here's the short YouTube version:

And at Daily Kos (which is sounding the alarm over "Chris Matthews anti-Obama rant"), they've posted a longer version, in which Matthews details his complaints.

It's too early to tell whether he's putting on an act, but Matthews certainly sounds fed up.

Clearly the thrill up his leg is gone.

(I'd say "what goes up must come down," but I wouldn't want it taken the wrong way...)

MORE: I should point out that I like Chris Matthews, and I used to watch his Hardball show when the Clintons were in office. I thought he was fair to both sides in those days, and I was very disappointed in his blatant Obamamania bias, which was not only unbecoming, but damaging to his former reputation.

If this is the old Chris Matthews coming out of the closet, I say more power to him.

He may have grown disgusted with the chorus of media sycophants.

I hope so.

posted by Eric at 11:15 AM | Comments (5)



Al Gore has a plan!

"Instead of science, I'm going with crazy."

In Al Gore's case, I'd say that's a distinction without a difference, but why would he say that? Most likely, it's a Climategate backup plan. Personally, I suspect that "Crazy Al" read Dave's proposal to give his Nobel Prize to whoever purloined the Hadley CRU files, and he's thinking ahead.

Also, he might be feeling ignored by the world right now. After all, as M. Simon put it,

If Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet none of this would have been possible.
How true. But for Crazy Al, there'd have been no emails to hack.

posted by Eric at 09:21 AM | Comments (3)




Don't turn opponents of what you oppose into supporters of what you oppose!

Not to belabor the point I've made enough as it is, but I want to do a little arithmetic with last night's health care vote.

Glenn Reynolds linked the following list of Red State Democrats who voted for cloture last night, and here they are:

Alaska - Mark Begich.
Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln.
Arkansas - Mark Pryor.
Louisiana - Mary Landrieu.
Missouri - Claire McCaskill.
Montana - Max Baucus.
Montana - Jon Tester.
Nebraska - Ben Nelson.
North Dakota - Kent Conrad.
North Dakota - Byron Dorgan.
South Dakota - Tim Johnson.
West Virginia - Robert Byrd.
West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller.
A skilled political analyst I am not, but I can count, and I see 13 senators above. Right now, the Senate is split 60/40, Democrat versus Republican. What that means is that if, say, ten of above 13 senators have problems with the health care bill, it won't pass.

Bear in mind that while there is considerable overlap, the above list is not identical to the list of Senate Blue Dogs that has been floating around:

Nelson, Ben (D-NE)
Specter (R-PA)
Carper (D-DE)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Pryor (D-AR)
Nelson, Bill (D-FL)
Johnson (D-SD)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Salazar (D-CO)
Bayh (D-IN)
Conrad (D-ND)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Baucus (D-MT)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
I am not about to research each one of these senators to determine the possible objections they may have to one or more provisions in the health care bill, but I do know this: because Republicans are in the minority, they cannot defeat the bill simply by voting along party lines. It must therefore be their goal to get as many Democrats as possible to vote with them against the bill.

Right?

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't common sense suggest that the Republicans ought not do anything which might help reluctant Democrats vote for the bill?

No matter what horror is in that bill, the more horrifying it is, the less likely the blue dogs will vote for it, right? So if, for example, the bill criminalized heterosexual marriage and lowered the age of consent to six, wouldn't it be better to leave those things in and demand an up and down vote than to take them out and overcome Democratic objections?

If the Republicans are going to vote against this anyway, why not just do that, and vote against it as it is? Cleaning it up (or helping the Democrats clean it up) so that it overcomes the objections of reluctant Democrats strikes me as the worst strategy imaginable -- unless the goal is to help get it passed.

It may be that I am not getting something, but to me, simple math and common sense dictates the following.

It just isn't smart for Republicans to turn Democratic opponents of the bill into supporters of the bill.

Once again, I think it is the worst strategy imaginable, and it seems so obvious -- so painfully obvious -- that I shouldn't have to be pointing it out.

So then, why am I?

Because the Republicans did it in the House, and for the life of me, I cannot understand why. Were these professional politicians really that naive? Or did they know what they were doing?

I don't know, but here's what I don't want to have to say again:

The bottom line is that this bill could have been stopped. By Republicans.

MORE: Here's Byron York:

...judging by the statements of four moderate Democrats -- Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson -- it will be far, far harder when the process comes to the really important vote, the one that would bring debate to a close and move on to an up-or-down vote on the Democrats' health care plan. On Saturday, all four of those Democrats publicly threatened to side with Republicans and kill the bill before it can move to a final vote, unless their concerns are met.
So let's just hope the Republicans don't do anything that will help meet their concerns.

AND MORE: Reading between the lines here, it appears that Arkansas's blue dog Senator Lincoln is facing extreme pressure from the left, in the form of a possible primary challenge from Lt. Governor Halter. At a Clinton Library event, Bill Clinton himself denounced this ploy, and pointedly refused to attend a Keith Olbermann event:

Clinton responded that Olbermann was politicizing the clinic, and that it wasn't helpful for Olbermann to do that. He said he did not feel he could show up now, because the event had turned political.

Eve said that Halter had been very helpful, and that the event was not political. She said that Halter's intercession had been key in getting the Convention center to give the clinics space.

Clinton replied that the event was becoming political, and that it was clear what was happening: a primary of Blanche Lincoln.

Olbermann, who has invited his viewers to contribute to the National Association of Free Clinics in advance of the event, has said on his show that "I want Sens. (Blanche) Lincoln and (Mark) Pryor to see what health care poverty is really like in Little Rock."

Those who oppose government health care should consider themselves lucky that Hillary Clinton is not president right now.

MORE: From commenter LYNNDH, a good point:

You need to revise/update your list. Salazar is no longer Senator, but Bennett is. Salazar is now in BO's cabinet.
Point noted, but it's not my list to revise. It's just one that has been floating around, and I used it for comparison purposes.

So scratch Salazar. (Whether to add Bennett, I don't know.)

MORE: Speaking of Senator Bennet, David Harsanyi's column reveals that he is under enormous pressure to cave, but is being encouraged to risk martyrdom -- even at the risk of losing his seat.

On CNN's "State of the Union" last weekend, host John King presented Democratic Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet with a yes-or-no question: "If you get to the final point and you are a critical vote for health care reform and every piece of evidence tells you . . . you will lose your job, would you cast the vote and lose your job?"

Like Joan of Arc facing the burning pillar -- "may Obama so keep me" -- a valiant Bennet, undeterred by the gruesome prospect of returning to a life of undeserved appointments and a real job, answered, plainly: "Yes."

posted by Eric at 06:37 PM | Comments (7)



Health Care Monstrosity Barely Gets Into Debate

60-39. This appears to be a good sign. They may not be able to pass anything.

The problems with this bill are legion. Let's cover a few:

1) This will explode the deficit by trillions of dollars. The Medicare cuts are a three-card monte political ploy; they will never be upheld by future Congresses. The true cost of the bill is being dishonestly hidden by starting costs several years into the plan. The actual cost to the deficit may be as high as $5T over ten years.

2) This will be a devastating blow to civil rights in America. The government will not only demand you buy insurance, they will force you to cover abortion and lots of other things you may or may not want to insure against.

3) This will stifle R&D. The more of America that works under gov't-"negotiated" price controls, the smaller the last big free market for new drugs and treatments gets.

4) This will further cripple a weak economy. The bill requires massive tax hikes in addition to massive deficit spending.

5) This will drive premiums sky-high. There will be less incentive to buy insurance before you need it, and more incentive to consume unnecessary medical services when you have insurance. This will result in insurance increasingly only being carried by people with high medical bills, meaning premiums will need to be extremely high and insurers will start going out of business as their volume of insured falls.

Here are a few commonsense solutions that don't involve ruinous debt, oppressive government intrusion in everyone's lives, a collapse in medical advancement, or a massive tax hike in a bad recession.

1) Expand Medicaid. 50 million of the 62 million people who can't afford insurance are already on it. We can cover the rest without reshaping the entire system.

2) Allow interstate competition between insurers. Why is it we can buy auto insurance from anywhere, but have pitifully few options for health insurance? Unleash the free market.

3) Give individuals the employer health insurance tax credit. Right now it's hard for insurers to compete for your business, because you don't have a lot of control over who your insurer is. If you weren't paying an extra 20-40% more than you would through your employer, it would make a lot more sense to buy your own, and employers would start offering you a choice of health plan or cash equivalent.

posted by Dave at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)



Prostitution science from the U.N.

Anyone who really wants to understand why the release of the Hadley CRU files is so damaging should read this piece about how "Climate change pushes poor women to prostitution."

The "evidence" is so ludicrously thin that I find myself wondering whether it was just decided somewhere by the Powers That Be amongst the AGW elite that they needed to cash in on the prostitution racket meme. I don't know why (maybe it's just the word), but "prostitution" has such shock value these days that if you can find some way to hook up your favorite issue with prostitution, you can move mountains. Seriously, it may be the world's oldest profession, but it has an ability to resonate and influence public opinion where all else has failed. For example, despite ACORN's documented history of voter fraud, mortgage fraud, and the worst sort of political corruption, the public did not care. But the prostitution scandal could not be ignored, even though the prostitute and the pimp were not real, but conservative actors in a sting video. That ACORN's workers had offered to help them commit mortgage and tax fraud would have been considered insignificant by itself; what finally led to serious damage for ACORN was the fact that they were willing to assist an underaged prostitution ring.

Similarly bloggers who engage in prostitution and write about it have an edge on regular bloggers who write about their work. Hell, were I young and hot and female and willing to sell my body, I'd probably be able to boost traffic to this website.

I'm not complaining, mind you. Just commenting on the way the world works. It doesn't take a genius to understand this. And while the Global Warming people are clearly not geniuses, they're obviously smart enough to understand the dynamics of the "p" word.

But I want to look at the alleged facts.

The effects of climate change have driven women in communities in coastal areas in poor countries like the Philippines into dangerous work, and sometimes even the flesh trade, a United Nations official said.

Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative of the United Nations Food Population Fund (UNFPA), said women in the Philippines are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the country.

"Climate change could reduce income from farming and fishing, possibly driving some women into sex work and thereby increase HIV infection," Mukherjee said during the Wednesday launch of the UNFPA annual State of World Population Report in Pasay City.

In the Philippines, small brothels usually pop up near the coastal areas where many women perform sexual services for transient seafarers. Often, these prostitutes are ferried to bigger ships by their pimps.

Right off, I see a few problems with the above analysis. First, the UN's Suneeta Mukherjee did not give any statistics showing that prostitution had gone up at all. She merely said that women were "vulnerable" and that climate change was "possibly" driving some women into sex work. Which means the headline is wrong, as is the claim in the first sentence that the "effects of climate change have driven women" into prostitution.

Since when does speculation that something might happen become a statement that it has happened? Are the Hadley CRU scientists moonlighting at making up Phillipine flesh trade statistics while they're trying to prove the earth is "hotter"? (Hot? Hmmm... maybe there is link after all.....)

And if they're trying to glom onto the ACORN prostitution meme, why isn't there a video? You'd think that with all the money at the UN's disposal, the least they could do would be to come up with a single prostitute wailing about how the hotter climate made her sell her body.

There's not one iota of evidence, not even a measly unproven allegation of a correlation. Instead, they shift gears into overpopulation:

Based on the UNFPA report, there are 92 million Filipinos in the country as of 2009 and that number is expected to balloon to more than 146 million in the next 40 years.

Of the 92 million Filipinos, about 60 percent are living in coastal areas and depend on the seas for livelihood, said former Environment secretary Dr. Angel Alcala.

Alcala said that "we have already exceeded the carrying capacity of our marine environment."

But as the sea's resources are depleted due to overpopulation and overfishing, fishermen start losing their livelihood and women are forced to share the traditional role of the man in providing for the family.

OK, let's assume for the sake of argument that there are too many people in the Phillipines, that they have overfished the seas, and that this has forced unemployed women into prostitution. What have overpopulation and overfishing to do with Global Warming?

None that I can see.

Beyond that, all there is is a claim by a biologist who says that "some women often pick out shellfish by the coastlines, which exposed to storm surges" and that "women who can no longer endure this work often go out to find other jobs, while some are tempted to go into prostitution."

A biologist says some women are tempted, and that's considered scientific proof?

It's probably worth noting that Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann has been arguing that hurricane frequency is linked to climate change based on what he calls "proxy analysis," although it is considered "unclear whether rising temperatures are increasing the frequency of the typhoons and storms that regularly batter the Philippines."

Considering "Climategate," (coming as it did on the heels of evidence that there is no increase in temperature) it's unclear that there are in fact rising temperatures, and if there aren't, then asserting that they are increasing storm frequency (when that too is not proven) constitutes using an unproven hypothesis to support another unproven hypothesis. It sounds about scientific to me as most conspiracy theory thinking. But it illustrates why it is so easy for these people to insist without evidence that Global Warming causes prostitution.

This stuff would be comical if the UN bureaucrats behind it weren't demanding US taxpayers' dollars. What I think reveals the almost comical desperation at work here are the "five measures to mitigate climate change and overpopulation" which are apparently being seriously proposed:

The UNFPA suggested five measures to mitigate climate change and overpopulation:

* Bring a better understanding of population dynamics, gender and reproductive health to climate change and environmental discussions at all levels;

* Fully fund family planning services and contraceptive supplies within the framework of reproductive health and rights, and assure that low income is no barrier to access;

* Prioritize research and date collection to improve the understanding of gender and population dynamics in climate change mitigation and adaptation;

* Improve sex-disaggregation of date related to migration flows that are influenced by environmental factors and prepare now for increases in population movements resulting from climate change; and

* Integrate gender considerations into global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

I love it!

Anyone's favorite pet theories can be bootstrapped into an international cause via Global Warming. Obviously, when they say "reproductive health and rights," they mean abortion. But if the abortion rate goes up in targeted countries like the Phillipines, then the other side will be able to claim that climate change causes increased abortions!

Don't you see? Global Warming now means that everyone wins.

We are all sex workers now!

posted by Eric at 12:11 PM | Comments (3)



It Is All Al Gore's Fault

By now you have all heard that a bunch of formerly secret e-mails and data relating to climate science have been revealed. It is casting serious doubt on the integrity of a number of the big names in the field and also adding to doubt about the size of the role of CO2 in climate change.

My solution to the current situation? Audit all the material.

But that is not my main point here. I want to give credit where credit is due. If Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet none of this would have been possible.

If you want to read about my meager contribution to the development of the Internet you can look here. I guess that means I had something to do with the revelations as well. Heh.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)




Another Saturday night, and I ain't got no freedom!

This is absolutely horrible news:

WASHINGTON -- Invoking the name of Edward M. Kennedy, Democrats united Saturday night to push historic health care legislation past a key Senate hurdle over the opposition of Republicans eager to inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama. There was not a vote to spare.

The 60-39 vote cleared the way for a bruising, full-scale debate beginning after Thanksgiving on the legislation, which is designed to extend coverage to roughly 31 million who lack it, crack down on insurance company practices that deny or dilute benefits and curtail the growth of spending on medical care nationally.

If you think getting cloture is nothing to worry about, think again:
"The Congressional Research Service recently found that 97.6% of all bills that have cloture invoked on a motion to proceed are eventually given final approval by the chamber."
I can't help notice that lately the bastards have been doing their worst dirty work on Saturday nights. (Pelosi's House atrocity passed on a Saturday night.) What's with that? Are they hoping that normal people -- you know, like their critics in the blogosphere who have to work for a living and might like to maybe go out one night a week -- are busy with their personal lives on Saturday nights?

Well, guess what? I'm not especially enjoying writing a blog post right now. I hate it, in fact. I do have a personal life. But the main reason I am writing it is because I have this creepy feeling that the sneaky bastards who want to run our personal lives hoped that my personal life would prevent me from even noticing, much less having time to speak up.

Sorry, but I saw this one coming. And now I'm worried about what's next.

There are still some Democrats who have problems with the bill -- especially conservative Democrats who oppose abortion. What I sincerely hope does not happen would be for the Republicans to repeat what they did in the House -- which was to add an anti-abortion amendment assuaging the Democrats' concerns and facilitating the passage of the bill.

But things aren't looking good. From a report, earlier today before the ominous cloture vote:

But the big issue will come if the vote is to take up the bill. Then the issue will shift to abortion. Amendments will be offered to strengthen the prohibition of using either tax dollars or premiums revenue for abortions while others will seek to expand and guarantee "the woman's right to choose" or what is euphemistically called "reproductive health care" or for abortion. Whichever way the abortion issue shakes out will then either crystallize some votes for and other against and the final outcome will most likely be determined by how those votes shake out.
For the umpteenth time, this is not an abortion bill.

I'll repeat:

THIS IS NOT ABOUT ABORTION.

It is a bill which would (I like the way this guy put it),

...raise our taxes, destroy Capitalism, give the government more control of our lives, is in complete violation of the Constitution, will raise costs, and add trillions to the deficit. It will force us onto government run health care, will guarantee people something they have no right to, will instate death panels, will force jail time if you want freedom, and is the end of America as we know it.
Seriously, I'm beside myself over the gullibility of all these rubes who are buying into what is clearly a diversionary strategy, but all I can do is repeat myself:
I never would have imagined that just as the Democrats were poised to ruin the health care system and destroy a huge chunk of the free market, the debate would be over abortion.
But I'm tired of repeating myself. So I'll repeat M. Simon instead:
As far as I can tell at this point the bill couldn't have passed the House with abortion funding in it and it may be that it can't pass the Senate without abortion funding in it. Abortion!

You know it may just be that one million abortions a year saves us from this health care monstrosity. Cold. That. Yep. Or maybe the Republicans will figure a way to screw the pooch. It has happened before.

I don't know what, if anything, the Republicans will ever figure out. All I know is that they helped the House bill get passed; every last one of them.

Perhaps some of them think that the bill ought to pass for strategic reasons, so that they have an issue to help them defeat the Democrats. And if they can use abortion as an enabling tool, so much the better. That way, they can say that it could have been worse. They just can't see that by making it "better," they're helping it pass.

The whole thing is pretty sickening to contemplate on a Saturday night.

Once again, we are not represented. We are ruled.

And it wasn't supposed to be this way. But it is.

UPDATE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for the link, and for reminding me that I didn't have to feel sorry for myself over blogging on a Saturday night.

I mean, really. While it's bad news, attacking the health care bill was like shooting fish in a barrel compared to writing a fair and honest review of Sarah Palin's new book without succumbing to political pressures.

Sean begins with Andrew Sullivan:

"whose mission in life is apparently to give continued currency the old charge that homosexual men are freaked out by fecund, motherly women."
(Which of course in turn fuels the notion that "Hating Sarah Palin is so gay!")

Read it all.

I should buy the book -- if for no other reason than bookstores in the Bay Area refuse to sell it.

As David Harsanyi put it, "All you haters out there force me to root for her."

posted by Eric at 09:19 PM | Comments (5)



"Why can't American movie makers make a movie this great?"

Not only was that my immediate reaction to Roger L. Simon's and Lionel Chetwynd's lively and spirited discussion of "An Education," but it was the very first IMDB User Comment on the film (which BTW, bas drawn rave reviews across the board).

I haven't seen the film, so I can't weigh in on whether Lionel Chetwynd is right, or Roger Simon is right. They both liked it, but had very different interpretations, and watching them made me want to run right out and see it.

The official trailer will have to do for now.

posted by Eric at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)



The Blue And The Red

I found a really interesting article on how thermodynamics affects political persuasion. Conservatives and Liberals.

The Theory of Island Biogeography is a theory of species population distribution. There are major evolutionary implications in the ability of a species to distribute itself across space and time, not to mention the curious thermodynamics associated with this distribution. That is, species that can modulate their thermodynamic properties in response to environmental changes dramatically increase their probability of survival. In humans, there is no better example of thermodynamic modulation than conservatism and liberalism.

One of the more prominent biogeographic variations between conservatives and liberals is population density. The conservative-liberal asymmetries in population density are easily seen in the voting patterns of urban, suburban, and rural environments. As a general rule, the greater the population density, the more liberal the population. In the 2004 US Presidential Election, the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, won every city with a population over 500,000. This same pattern was repeated in 2008 with Barack Obama.

The mystical and long-standing relationship between liberalism and urbanism is common across all cultures, and raises several interesting questions: is this a self-selection process, whereby the conservatives flee to the suburbs leaving the big cities to the liberals; or, does urban life liberalize people? There is certainly much evidence for the self-selection effect, but we also believe that high-density living tends to liberalize people, although the evidence is less clear.

I had an interesting discussion with the author. I said that it was interesting that reproduction is lower in cities than in lower density areas. He said that was true of animal studies and seemed to be true for humans but it was not well researched in humans.

Here is an interesting bit:

In their groundbreaking study of island biogeography, M&W noted some interesting trends that apply directly to the study of political-religious disposition. First, a species that is able to establish populations on more than one island in an archipelago greatly reduces the risk of extinction. At first blush, this seems to be irrelevant to the study of conservatives and liberals. However, it is founded upon two behaviors that improve species viability: the ability to increase habitat range; and the ability to create genetic diversity. In other words, increase the habitat and genetic ranges, and increase the survival probability of a species, not to mention the acceleration in the rate of evolutionary change. From our information gathered so far, we believe that conservatives increase habitat range to a greater extent than liberals, and liberals increase genetic diversity to a greater extent than conservatives. Interestingly, conservatives and liberals, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, seem to be at the center of the survivability of the human species.
There is much more and it is one of the most interesting things I have read in a long time. Need I say that you ought to read it too?

What is my conclusion relative to politics? Both political parties are right about the proper way to live. In their ecological niches. If we wanted to help people prosper where ever they live we would have to change the geographical distribution of borders. But that might require a change to a City State model. Tough when things are already intermixed. How to square that circle? A libertarian model of politics would work. That is to say the government imposes the very minimum of social rules so that people can best live according to their particular geographical niche.

A book that covers the idea that political and technical change is geography specific from a somewhat different perspective is Geography and Revolution.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:30 PM | Comments (5)



Fed up scientist becomes hero?

Regarding the the incredible story of the leaked Hadley CRU files (a story which M. Simon helped break in the blogosphere, and which prompted Dave to suggest that the leaker deserves Al Gore's Nobel Prize), I'm naturally curious about the whodunnit aspect.

It's beginning to look like it was no hacker but an insider. From "Who leaked the Hadley CRU files and why ":

The anonymous tipster, whom many people initially assumed had "hacked" into the computers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (repeatedly called the "Hadley CRU," by mistake), might in fact be a CRU insider who released the files for his own reasons.
The author speculates as to what the reasons might be.
Mr. Stephen McIntyre at Climate Audit has made no secret of his repeated attempts to demand, under Britain's Freedom of Information Act, that Phil Jones and his team yield up the data that are the basis of their claims for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and its effects. Preliminary analysis of the archived e-mails also indicates that Jones knew of McIntyre's efforts and was taking steps to stall and thwart them, in violation of the law. Perhaps, then, someone at CRU decided to take the law into his own hands.
I like that.

There are some things you can't make some scientists do.

posted by Eric at 01:28 PM | Comments (5)



But what if secession doesn't succeed?

As there's been some advocacy of secession in the comments, I thought I would examine how this might occur in practice, whether legally or not.

A lot of people seem to think the Civil War settled the issue of whether states have the right to secede, except it did not. The war -- not a war according to the federal government and officially never declared (but see below*) -- did not begin over secession; it began when Fort Sumter -- federal property within the state of South Carolina -- was fired upon. The war began not when the individual states seceded, but when the shooting started in April of 1861. Had the feds not been fired on, many have argued that the matter might conceivably have been resolved in the South's favor in the Supreme Court -- the rhetoric in Lincoln's first inaugural address notwithstanding.

But of course that did not happen, and unfortunately, there is nothing in the Constitution about secession, or the right to secede. It neither expressly forbids nor expressly permits a state to secede. So whether secession is constitutional is a very tricky one, and the emanations -- whether express or implied -- from the various express or implied penumbrae, could be argued forever.

I think the closest the Constitution comes to touching on it is this:

Section 3. New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.
Might "new state" be interpreted as allowing the formation of a new state that was NOT a part of the union? (Nice try, maybe, but I have a feeling that would lose in the Supreme Court, and in Congress.)

Of course, there are always the words in the Pledge of Allegiance. Here's the 1892 version:

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
And the current version (under God was added in 1954):
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
So, whether it's "one nation under indivisible" or "one nation under God, indivisible," the word "indivisible" would seem to imply that regardless of any legal or theoretical right to secede, since 1892 there has been no right to secede in the moral and patriotic sense. Not for those who believe in the pledge, anyway. But again, the pledge is only binding in the moral sense.

There is also the Declaration of Independence, which, by declaring that "the people" have an inherent right to "alter or abolish" abusive governments, could be said to recognize implicitly the right of one state to secede from another:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The Declaration is not the supreme law of the land, however. You can't march into court and claim your declarational rights. It recited the natural, moral right of the colonists to form a new state -- which is of course also the moral right of any future people living under any abusive or oppressive government.

Exactly how would a state secede, though? Would it require majority consensus? Two thirds consensus? Would it require the consent of a majority of other states?

Maybe a constitutional amendment spelling out the right to secede is in order.

But even if we assume the existence of such a procedure, I'm not at all sure it would satisfy many of the people who are calling for secession, because they would still have to persuade their state legislature to declare secession and enact the proper ordinances.

Sounds like secession is a pain in the ass.

Of course, if citizens who want to secede can't manage to persuade a state legislature to go along with them, then the state wouldn't be seceding -- whether legally or illegally. The angry citizens would have to resort to civil war.

Civil war is also a pain in the ass.

Continue reading "But what if secession doesn't succeed?"

posted by Eric at 12:16 PM | Comments (11)




My Body, My Money, My Country

We constantly hear that only moderate centrist Republicans can win in some places. And that is true. But what kind of moderate? What kind of centrist? I think that it has to be a moderate with strong principles. A strange beast to be sure. At least in this day and age.

The last time the Republican Party was truly centrist and wildly attractive was when it was a libertarian Party under Ronald Reagan. Socially moderate, fiscally conservative, strong on national defense. Does that mean that social conservatives were unwelcome? Of course not. It just means that moral socialism was not the political center of the party. It means that government stays out of your business and you are free to live your life as you chose.

What too many of our elite mean by centrist is socially moderate, not too fiscally conservative, and don't scare people with heavy weapons. i.e. RINO. I prefer a little absolutism.

My body, my money, my country.

Now moderation may be a good thing. But you have to have principles so at least you will know when you are deviating from them. So you don't go too far. RINOs have no discernible principles. And thus they can never tell when they have gone too far. The evidence of that was the drubbing the Republicans took in 2006 and 2008 when the Party stood only for a strong national defense. Everything else was negotiable.

Are the kind of Republicans I'm describing going to be popular every where? Not at this time. Social conservatives are going to dominate in some areas of the country. But what about other places like Wisconsin, California, and Illinois? In places like that social conservatives do not do well, at least State wide and in many districts. In those places it is good to have a more socially liberal candidate. But not a RINO. Because without principles you are just drifting with the wind.

I'd like to close with one of my favorite and often repeated Reagan quotes:

"If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." - Ronald Reagan

and how about another that describes the improper relation of government to the people:

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:23 PM | Comments (16)



The Global Warming Conspiracy

No, really.

If you haven't heard, someone has posted a whole bunch of correspondence between AGW "scientists." The mask has slipped, fallen, and shattered:

This is part of a letter send from Michael E. Mann to Phil Jones:

I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a
legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate
research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also
need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently
sit on the editorial board...
What do others think?
mike


Wow, it's almost like the AGW community has been conspiring to suppress skeptics, or something.

The best part: AGWers have long rolled their eyes and claimed loony skeptics were positing some sort of conspiracy to suppress the truth... claims that are now retroactively hilarious.

You couldn't write a fictional scenario like this. It would be tossed back as not believable.

UPDATE: I just wanted to add, whoever released this deserves a Nobel Prize.

Preferably Al Gore's.

posted by Dave at 02:40 PM | Comments (5)



Is that lipstick on my rightwing talking points?

In an earlier email to M. Simon, I remarked,

If a woman has a right to an abortion, all people have a right to medicate pain.
That happens to be what I think. Yet as I learned recently, there are some people who interpret remarks I've made like that as an attempt to -- let me get this right --

Redefine liberty to exclusively represent rightwing talking points.

I am absolutely serious. That is exactly how noted Village Voice columnist Roy Edroso described my thoughts about legal abortion vis-a-vis illegal drugs. Writing in his blog, here's his attempt to show how I redefined liberty:

This Classical Values post attacks the government's environmental policy ("This time, it's a real war. I say it's time to get the government out of all of our emissions, for good. Emissions are a human right!"), and muses:

Sometimes I wonder whether "getting the government out of our bedrooms" (supposedly accomplished by Lawrence v. Texas) wasn't just a ruse so people could imagine they were more free.

Yeah, I know that women are free to destroy their fetuses too. Getting the government out of wombs is also marketed as another ultimate form of freedom (based on "privacy"), but what I've never been able to understand is this: if "privacy" gives the woman a right to have a scalpel inserted into her body to cut out her fetus, then why doesn't "privacy" also allow that same woman to put whatever drugs she wants into that same body?

To put it another way: why worry about control over one's own body, however constantly threatened, when the government is forcing cars to get 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016? Forbid it, almighty God!

As for the drug reference, don't worry if you find it confusing -- you haven't missed any recent change in Republican or mainstream conservative policy. The idea is to for conservatives to associate themselves with as many libertarian ideas as they can possibly get away with (reproductive rights, as we have seen, doesn't make it), and to associate liberals with their suppression.

What is so confusing about my drug reference? I pointed out a major inconsistency in the application of the right to privacy. How is it that "privacy" can include the right to cut out a fetus but not a right to take drugs? I have never been able to understand it, any more than I can understand how feminists can argue that a woman has the right to allow someone to remove her fetus, but no right to pose in pornographic pictures. She can consent to an abortionist's scalpel, but not to a pornographer's camera?

But even though he didn't like my analogy, I guess I should be flattered that Roy Edroso thinks that my musings reflect "Republican or mainstream conservative policy."

It's news to me, and it's a shame this fact isn't more widely known.

I should point out that Roy Edroso and I go back. Waaay back, to the summer of 2003 when I had only been blogging for a few months, and Edroso hadn't moved up in the world to writing a column for the Village Voice. While I probably shouldn't voice my inner feelings like this, I'm actually like sort of really jealous over the fact that only certified ideologues -- the sort whose politics can be considered "reliable" to party boss types -- get paid to write by official mainstream organs like the Voice. Like it or not, the ideological world is still divided into left and right, liberals and conservatives, but because the world of paid journalism is overwhelmingly liberal, if you want to be a paid writer, you pretty much have to be on the left. True, there is an occasional token conservative or moderate here and there, but with a few exceptions, libertarian writers tend to starve. Besides, they're a dime a dozen thousand.

Edroso is, I think, a more loyal servant of the left than I am of the right, and this may explain his desire to characterize my libertarian views as reflecting mainstream conservative policy. If only that were the case! But I think he knows that it isn't the case, and he does not want it to be. I don't think his goal is so much to conflate libertarians with conservatives, as it is to insult both conservatives and libertarians at every opportunity, while singling out the latter for special scorn and contempt. Guys like Edroso (and his admirer James Wolcott) tend to see conservatives for what they are even though they don't like them, but libertarians are seen as inherently dishonest -- as conservatives in leftish drag.

By painting libertarians as stealth conservatives, the net effect is to make even their libertarianism somehow suspect. Edroso bestowing on Megan McArdle the title of "lipstick libertarian" is a perfect example of this. And I say this as a libertarian who does not wear lipstick! (Er, except maybe on an occasional Halloween....)

Really, it's as if they think that "we" are basically a bunch of weaselly right-wing hedonists -- trying to snooker young people into the evil right wing tent by offering them the candy of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll before handing them over to James Dobson for religious brainwashing sessions. (As a form of projection, this is quite understandable, because to the left, personal freedom is a tactic in a grab bag of tricks, with conditions attached.)

As to how Edroso got his job with the Voice, I can only speculate. The well-connected and passionately left-wing James Wolcott used to praise his writing to the skies, so I don't think it's out of the question that the Wolcott connection is what ultimately paid off. And why not? They are both talented writers, and vituperative snark loves vituperative snark.

The problem with me is that I sometimes feel overdosed on opinions. There is too much out there to keep track of, and it tires me out. I even find myself feeling overdosed on my own opinions. I freely admit, this is probably a symptom of burnout, and maybe I should seek professional help, because it has been six and a half years, and I'm not getting any younger. So, when I say I'm "like sort of really jealous" of the talented Mr. Edroso, I sort of like really mean it, but only in the sarcastic senses of "like," and "sort of," and "really." (No, really!) While it might be flattering to be hired by a large established outfit, OTOH I'm not sure I would like being a paid snarkist, as I would have to insult people for a living. Sure, I can insult people, but the daily grind would get to me, and being paid to write would interfere with my ability to write. (As things stand now, sometimes I can barely crank out posts.)

For these reasons I try to minimize my reading of the more insulting blogs, whether on the left or the right. For example, when a blog war between the two bloggers I will not name erupted, I stopped reading both of them, because each one radiated such boundless contempt and hatred for the other that I had the feeling it extended to other bloggers and even readers who were insufficiently on one side of the fence or the other. That sort of monumental egotism annoys me, but it also goes to why I won't name them, and why I will not disclose what I think about the merits of their respective positions.

As Edroso falls into the insulting blogger category, I have not kept up with him as I perhaps should. I didn't even know he had moved up from the insulting blogger category to the insulting "journalist" category.

Had it not been for Glenn Reynolds, I wouldn't have known about Edroso's new Village Voice life at all.

Hmmm... I don't know whether to thank Glenn or file an official complaint.

Anyway, I would have totally missed out on Edroso's unfounded attack on Don Surber (for not writing about what he had in fact written about). And while I read Ann Althouse (and thus saw her refutation of Edroso's trollish attempt to link her to fundamentalist Christianity by resort her commenters), when I saw Glenn's link to that, I actually started to feel sorry for myself. I know it's irrational, because I don't like being insulted, but really! Put yourself in my position. A burnout I may be, but I still have pride, and I was one of Edroso's earliest targets!

And now that he's moved up in the world, giddy with success and basking in his new paradise, has he forgotten about all the little people he used as stepping stones along the way? To use the Christianist vernacular of which he's so fond, I felt that Edroso had been Raptured up, while I had been left behind.

But no! Imagine my joy when I learned that notwithstanding his new place in the heavens, he had not forgotten to look down on little me :

As sometimes happens with these things, the Galt-Goers have encountered some mockery. Classical Values found this a good sign: "I'd say that once comedians start working a topic into their routines, that's a sign that its time has come," he asserts, though if that were true, Joey Buttafuoco would have been elected President of the United States.
Well, maybe not president. But statutory rapists like Buttafuoco can usually at least find a place in Hollywood. Amy Fisher is doing OK too. At least two book contracts, a movie deal.

Even though neither of them landed a spot at the Village Voice, it all seems quite unfair.

But I hate to sound like such an ingrate. I mean, if I can redefine liberty as rightwing talking points, surely I ought to be able to turn my self pity into gratitude!

posted by Eric at 02:08 PM | Comments (4)



The crackdown on illegal wood begins!

Rand Simberg linked a post I wrote last month about the federal criminalization of wood, and I thought I should thank him here rather than in the post itself -- which Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday, but which is so old that regular readers might miss updates on it. Simberg added a great point which I think should be noted, and renoted -- by the Powers That Shouldn't Be:

Throw all the bastards out. One of the elements in the Republicans' new contract with America has to address these outrageously long, unread bills.
When I wrote the post ("Where were you when wood became a felony?" -- a long diatribe against yet another grotesque unconstitutional overreaching by the feds), little did I know that there would soon be a federal raid on the Gibson Guitar company. The name "Gibson" is legendary in rock music -- so much so that this raid is more than just an attack on an important and cherished American industry. The attack (on what the Justice Department thugs would probably call "Big Guitar") is an attack on freedom itself -- little different from raiding rock bands and seizing their guitars.

The feds raided Gibson looking for undocumented wood.


Not aliens.

Wood.

Just think about it. Look around you. How many things in the spaces surrounding you are made of wood? How many objects? Think of what a malicious prosecutor like Mike Nifong in a federal roid rage could do with such a "law." I don't think it is any exaggeration to say that this may be the greatest law enforcement harassment tool ever devised.

"Is that a gun in your pocket or are you concealing illegal handles made from undocumented wood?"

What I can't figure out is whether the greater crime is the passage of this monstrosity or the fact that its existence was so cleverly concealed -- as a small part of yet another humongous "act" -- that it went unreported.

We are not represented, we are ruled.

posted by Eric at 11:17 AM | Comments (3)



Some Verification Of Hadley CRU Files Hacked

I have posted Climate Files Hacked about the release by anonymous ftp of the contents of hundreds of files and thousands of e-mails. Some have questioned their authenticity. I have partial verification from Real or Fake.

Steve McIntyre (Comment#23773) November 19th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

I'm having trouble getting into CA right now.

I made up a pdf of the emails to help browse through them and it's over 2000 pages. Every email that I've examined so far looks genuine. There are a few emails of mine that are 100% genuine.

It is really quite breathtaking.

Yes. It is breathtaking.

Update: 20 November 2009 1009z

TBR.cc reports that the Hadley Center admits that the files are real.

The director of Britain's leading Climate Research Unit, Phil Jones, has told Investigate magazine's TGIF Edition tonight that his organization has been hacked, and the data flying all over the internet appears to be genuine.

In an exclusive interview, Jones told TGIF, "It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails."

"Have you alerted police"

"Not yet. We were not aware of what had been taken."

Jones says he was first tipped off to the security breach by colleagues at the website RealClimate.

WOW It is real. This is going to do a LOT of damage to the AGW Community. Big damage.

TBR.cc recommends Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming

You might want to give it a look.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:35 AM | Comments (4)




Climate Files Hacked

I just got a tip from Jccarlton at Talk Polywell that some one has hacked a lot of Hadley CRU files on Climate Science. You can get what details that are currently available at Watts Up With That. What has been released so far is full of bombshells. Like this e-mail.

From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley ,mann@xxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxx.xxx
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Cc: k.briffa@xxx.xx.xx,t.osborn@xxxx.xxx

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim's got a diagram here we'll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.
I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998. Thanks for the comments, Ray.

Cheers
Phil

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) xxxxx
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) xxxx
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email p.jones@xxxx.xxx
NR4 7TJ
UK

It looks like the scam may be coming to an end. Take that Al Gore. Because it looks like you may no longer be able to take it to the bank.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)



ObamaCare Deep Underwater

Is this what it sounds like when magical gov't healthcare ponies die?

Quinnipiac 36-51.

PPP 42-50.

The claims that America spends more for worse health care are crumbling under closer examination; people aren't being fooled anymore by misleading comparisons of things that don't measure health care outcomes. The poll numbers are dropping like a rock as more people figure out the difference between propaganda and reality.

Let's hope these poll numbers kill this thing before it starts killing Americans.

UPDATE: Obama is sinking as well, and for the same reason: reality is setting in. He campaigned on competence, transparency, post-partisanship, pragmatism and accountability but has turned out to be a bumbling deceptive hyperpartisan ideologue who blames everything on Bush and/or Fox News

posted by Dave at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)



Taste of war?

I'm getting more than a little tired over the fact that some people on the left -- aided, naturally, by some people on the right (with the help of agents provocateurs and trolls) -- seem hell-bent on fomenting an American Civil War.

I think people need to remember how much civil wars suck.

Take it from George Orwell, who fought alongside the Communists against Franco's Falangists.

To be marching up the street behind red flags inscribed with elevating slogans, and then to be bumped off from an upper window by some total stranger with a sub-machine-gun-- that is not my idea of a useful way to die.
Fortunately, it hasn't come to that here, although the idea of engaging in pitched street battles with radical Maoists in support a cause being insinuated into the Tea Party movement is not my idea of fun.

Later, after detailing what it was like to be shot through the neck and narrowly survive (all the while being suspected by one leftist faction of belonging to a competing leftist faction), Orwell said this:

however it ends the Spanish war will turn out to have been an appalling disaster
Better to avoid appalling disasters before they happen.

Sigh.

Dalí's "Cannibalism in Autumn" is probably in order:

AutumnCannibalism.jpg

And so is one of my lifelong favorites -- "Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War":

Premonition.jpg

Not only do tastes differ, but they change over time. Orwell absolutely hated Dalí, and I can understand why. Artistic tastes aside, Orwell was a highly principled idealist, and Dali was a deranged and corrupt Monarchist. But such things are nothing to start a war over.

posted by Eric at 01:51 PM | Comments (12)




"It was not supposed to be this way."

Despite the fact that I hate repeating myself, I have complained about government health care and unconstitutional laws till I'm blue in the face. All to no avail, it often seems. Those government bastards will do what they want, no matter what I think or say.

Still, no matter how tired I get of complaining, I'm always glad when I see that there are other people who can see government tyranny for what it is -- especially when they have seen it from the inside -- as Judge Andrew Napolitano clearly has.

In "Kiss Your Freedoms Goodbye If Health Care Passes," he looks at the government and sees a monster.

Congress recognizes no limits on its power. It doesn't care about the Constitution, it doesn't care about your inalienable rights. If this health care bill becomes law, America, life as you have known it, freedom as you have exercised it, and privacy as you have enjoyed it will cease to be.
It gets better:
Government is the negation of freedom. Freedom is your power and ability to follow your own free will and your own conscience. The government wants you to follow the will of some faceless bureaucrat.

When I recently asked Congressman James Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House, to tell me "Where in the Constitution the federal government is authorized to regulate everyone's healthcare," he replied that most of what Congress does is not authorized by the Constitution, but they do it anyway. There you have it. Congress recognizes no limits on its power. It doesn't care about the Constitution, it doesn't care about your inalienable rights, it doesn't care about the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, it doesn't even read the laws it writes.

America, this is not an academic issue. If this health care bill becomes law, life as you have known it, freedom as you have exercised it, privacy as you have enjoyed it, will cease to be.

And,
It was not supposed to be this way. We elect the government. It works for us. How did it get so removed, so unbridled, so arrogant that it can tell us how to live our personal lives? Evil rarely comes upon us all at once, and liberty is rarely lost in one stroke. It happens gradually, over the years and decades and even centuries. A little stretch here, a cave in there, powers are slowly taken from the states and the people and before you know it, we have one big monster government that recognizes no restraint on its ability to tell us how to live. It claims the power to regulate any activity, tax any behavior, and demand conformity to any standard it chooses.

The Founders did not give us a government like the one we have today....

No, they certainly did not.

The one we have today was imposed on us piecemeal, one little chunk of freedom lost at a time, typically as a result of emotional reactions to events -- like the Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the battle to end segregation, the "wars" to "end" poverty or drugs, and most recently the terrorist attack of 9/11. The idealistic and well-meaning American people have always been willing accepted a restriction on freedom here, a stretching of the Constitution there, if that is necessary to win whatever war or awful event we face. The loss of freedom that results is as permanent the proverbial bridge toll that was supposed to go away once the new bridge was paid for. And so without our having had a chance to think through the longterm consequences, each time this happens, we lose freedom permanently. Not because of any one thing, but because of a series of national emotional accidents.

At this point in time, I think that if the terrorists did manage to nuke New York, it would probably spell the end of American freedom. Already, those who think the government is out of control are routinely labeled "anti-government extremists" and targeted for surveillance by those who want the government to grow ever more malignant, and ever more monstrous. In the event of a nuke (or a major domestic terror event), the only thing left to do would be to round them up.

Sometimes I worry that freedom that is lost can never be regained. What if there is only so much freedom to take away before it's all gone?

Is it a zero sum game?

posted by Eric at 06:02 PM | Comments (25)



Hypocrisy for me, but not for thee!

That there is a double standard between the "right" and the "left" where it comes to sexuality is not news. In general, people perceived as being on the left are allowed sexual freedom -- including the right to be gay, to be promiscuous, to engage in sex for money, and to pose in pornography -- only so long as they kowtow to the requirement that they be on the left. Conservatives -- especially religious conservatives -- are held to the highest possible sexual standards, and when they are caught failing to live up to them, BOTH the right and the left join together in a veritable lynch mob of collusion.

Libertarians tend to be in a special category, but I think this is not only because it's tough to accuse them of "hypocrisy" but also because few people care whether libertarians have sex, or what kind of sex they have.

While I've long been fascinated by this double standard, I'm more fascinated by its enforcement, and I thought I'd look at two recent examples. The first (via Glenn Reynolds) is the Ph.D. researcher who worked as a prostitute:

Six years ago, while she completed the final stages of her PhD, she ran out of money and turned to prostitution charging £300 an hour. She used her experience as a science blogger to let the world know what she was up to - but not, until now, who she was.

Her experiences were documented in a blog that was later adapted into books and a television drama starring Billie Piper.

Dr Magnanti, 34, said she decided to reveal her secret because it was making her paranoid, and she feared that an ex-boyfriend might reveal Belle's true identity.

She works as part of a team researching the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals, and said her colleagues - all female - had been "amazingly kind and supportive" when she revealed her past.

The scientist, who studied anthropology and maths in Florida, was writing a thesis at Sheffield University's department of forensic pathology when she became a call girl.

She moved to London to find work while completing the course and preparing for her viva voce, the oral examination on her research.

She spent her savings quicker than expected and found that working as a call girl allowed her to make money and have enough spare time to complete her work.

Dr Magnanti said her decision to go public was also prompted by comments last month by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.

He said the "fiction" of stories like Belle de Jour's created a "myth" that sex workers were independent women, empowered by the hold they had over men, who treated it like any other job.

Dr Magnanti said she was annoyed by the accusation that her stories were fiction: "You can't say I'm not real, and that my experience isn't real, because here I am."

Obviously, Dr. Magnanti is not a sexual moralist. She neither condemns nor regrets what she did. So no one is accusing her of hypocrisy; the principle objection to her is a communitarian one grounded in the notion that independent prostitutes don't fit the narrative. (Which is that prostitutes are oppressed, exploited, addicted to drugs, etc.) While her profession is not political, I think that if she were working for a conservative politician or think tank, there would be howls of protest. On both "sides."

Which leads to the other example, the suddenly sexually "shocking" Carrie Prejean.

It's the most shocking turn yet in a scandal that has continued to follow the woman whose anti-gay marriage stance led to a national controversy and pitted her against pageant organizers.

Stripped of her crown, Prejean sued the Miss California USA pageant but reportedly settled after the sex tape surfaced. She called the sex tape the biggest mistake of her life.

Now a RadarOnline.com investigation has uncovered that there are SEVEN more "biggest mistakes" of her life - all of them solo performances, just like the one sex tape that the religious beauty queen has admitted to. And there are 30 photos of Carrie, most topless, some showing everything, and most taken by Carrie using her reflection in a mirror.

Oh the horror!

Like I'm supposed to be shocked. Not by sexy pictures or videos, mind you. But by the fact that a conservative beauty queen did that sort of thing. Or maybe I'm supposed to gloat.

Why would I? I have no philosophical problems with people engaging in sex for money or with making sex videos, so what either of these women did or are alleged to have done does not bother me in the least. Nor does it bother me that Carrie Prejean is ashamed of what she did, while Dr. Mangani is not.

Isn't that their business?

Or does the left now own exclusive rights to sexual shame?

I think that there is as much right to be ashamed of one's sexual conduct as there is to not be ashamed of it. But the sexual "left" (if that is in fact the right expression) believes very strongly in sexual shame -- but only for conservatives. The San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Morford is a perfect example. In this long, rambing (and IMO nearly psychotic) diatribe, he heaps a mountain of vicious sexual invective on Carrie Prejean, and demonstrates that he is truly obsessed with the poor girl's genital conduct.

unless you're screaming out the lord's name in vain or begging your imaginary partner to perform some kinky French fetish thing on you with a ball-gag and 15 feet of garden hose, keep your sounds restricted to moans, gasps, sighs, cute little hiccups, dirty curse words and maybe the occasional, "Ooh baby, I know you like it when I use this vibrator on the Pooh bear like that, don't you lover?" Like the saying goes, brevity is the soul of, uh, somethingorother. I know, right?

Let's talk equipment. No, not those, silly! Although God knows those come in handy too! Ha ha! God bless silicone!

I mean video equipment. I say, why not skip the iPhone or lame P&S camera, and make a real investment in your trashy, Gawker-ready, 15-minutes-of-fame future by buying yourself a dedicated digital video camera and a little tripod. Add in about three free iMovie classes at the Apple store, and it's whammo, here I come, reality TV show!

People always ask me, Carrie, when you make a sex tape, does it help to actually be a Christian? I mean, like, not a very good one, more like a pseudo-moralistic, fundamentalist homophobe ex-beauty queen with as many brain cells as you have limbs? Someone who wouldn't understand true Christianity if Jesus himself came down and tickled your feet and called you Lilith?

My answer is always the same: Jesus was a foot fetishist? That is so awesome!

But to answer the other question: heck yes, it helps! I find that mock Christianity only cranks up the irony factor, the sexy hypocrisy of what you're doing -- and massive moralistic hypocrisy is a total turn on! Just ask all those Catholic priests! And Republican senators! And televangelists! And gay televangelists who have sex with Republican senator priests!

Etc. I guess the idea is somehow to shame her to the point of no return.

The only reason I can see for this is that she is a social conservative, and she has expressed remorse about her past sexy videos. I can think of no other occupation which would be shamed in this way, and Mark Morford is by no means the only leftie who has engaged in it.

Sexual shame is alive and thriving on the left as well as on the right. (If Morford's rant is typical, it's probably worse on the left, as I can't imagine any conservative getting quite that exercised about anyone's sex life.) The message sent over and over again is that the only sexual freedom to be found is to be found on the left. What a lot of people miss is they're relying on the social conservatives (especially those who practice zero tolerance) to oblige them by joining in the fray. In the case of Mark Sanford, the right was more than willing to oblige.

Already (and notwithstanding the remorse she expressed for her past) Carrie Prejean seems to be getting the cold shoulder from social conservatives. As Townhall's Jillian Bandes notes, her appearances are being canceled:

Prejean cancelled her keynote speech at the New Jersey Family Policy Council's Defenders of the Family fundraiser, an appearance at an invitation-only event at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and numerous other radio segments.
Via Pam Spaulding, who observes,
It's too soon to say whether or not folks on the right have totally abandoned Prejean, but I'm starting to feel a little sorry for her.
I feel sorry for her too -- especially because her main crime consisted of saying the same thing Barack Obama had said about gay marriage.

But sympathy for Carrie Prejean is not the point here. I see the larger issue as being sexual freedom, in which the left does not truly believe. "Sexual freedom for me but not for thee" is not sexual freedom, and it just fries me that the left is routinely seen as being champions of a right they only champion selectively.

Like any other kind of freedom, sexual freedom by its nature includes the right to do or not do whatever the thing is. As in the case of free speech where there is as much right to be silent as there is to be outspoken, or to worship God or reject religion, there is also as much right to be an uptight prude as a profligate slut. Those who oppose sexual freedom have as much right to engage in sex as those who believe in it.

And while hypocrisy consists of not practicing what you preach, I think a good case can be made that the leftists who condemn Carrie Prejean for having made sexy videos are more hypocritical than she is.

They seem to think that she is a hypocrite for the following reasons:

a) she is against gay marriage even though she had made a sexy video; and

b) she condemns what she did in the past.

But neither of the above constitutes hypocrisy. Hypocrisy does not consist of condemning something you once did, nor is it necessarily condemning what you do now. A junkie, an overeater, an alcoholic, or a cigarette smoker could easily condemn his own practices without being a hypocrite. Similarly, a woman who has had an abortion can be against abortions, and someone with a DUI conviction could nevertheless oppose drunk driving.

Hypocrisy is pretending to be what one is not. If Carrie Prejean had said that she was morally pure and had never made sexy videos, that would be one thing. But as far as I know, she never pretended to be morally pure. She said she was against gay marriage, and I have no doubt that she believes in the general social conservative philosophy. Past actions that are regretted do not constitute pretending to be what one is not.

However, the left pretends to believe in sexual freedom, but actually does not. To me, that is hypocrisy. But they get away with it because they are not held to the same standards to which they hold the right. Yet another double standard.

A double standard for hypocrisy.

(I'd call it a hypocritical double standard but that sounds redundant.)

posted by Eric at 03:29 PM | Comments (14)



HillBuzz Is On A Mission

The Boyz and Girlz at HillBuzz are on a mission.

Please offer your thoughts here, because our mission going forward includes but is not limited to:

(1) Dismantling and destroying ACORN, the SEIU, and all of their affiliates

(2) Taking down the Al Sharpton/Henry Gates/Jesse Jackson/Eric Holder Race Industry

(3) Reforming the nominating contests to make the primaries fraud-proof...while eliminating caucuses completely (as they are the easiest to game)

(4) Making sure Democrats do not pick the Republican candidate they want to run against in 2012

(5) Doing whatever we can to put the MSM out of business as payback for their rampant sexism and misogyny

2012 will be here before any of us know it. There is an awful lot of work to do. All of the above is so important to us personally that we're willing to skip days off, willing to postpone vacations, willing to literally give all of our free time to this.

Please visit their site. Read the rest of their post. Offer what help or ideas you can.

As the Buzzers might say: We must take back the country from Dr. Utopia and his minions. Starting the job in 2010 and completing the work in 2012.

And do read the comment section. Lots of good ideas so far. Maybe it will trigger off more ideas.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)



Evidence Based

The above video is to introduce you to Joss Stone who is creating quite a furor in the UK by saying the same thing this book says:

Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

Joss says marijuana is safer than alcohol.

Singer Joss Stone has been condemned for glamourising drugs after an astonishing diatribe in which she claimed cannabis is less harmful than alcohol.

She also trivialised the dangers of harder 'more horrible' drugs, which she described as 'fun'.

The 22-year-old has enraged anti-drug campaigners after it was suggested she made the comments in a desperate attempt to drum up publicity for her new album.

Well it is working if that was her purpose. She got a lot of publicity for her remarks.

Some people are not happy though.

Her comments, which come just weeks after she released the album, brought a furious response from David Raynes, head of the National Drugs Prevention Alliance.

He said: 'She should consider the effects that her comments have on other people, especially young fans who look up to her.

'People like Joss Stone should keep their mouths shut about things like this.

It is terribly damaging and she clearly hasn't considered the wider effects of the drug, although she clearly didn't get to become a pop star because she is a student of social sciences.

'We already have a drug culture in the UK and she is simply adding to that.'

Ah. A Culture War. Interesting that they have them in the UK too. And of course science is enlisted in the fight. But science seems to be defecting.
Her comments also come weeks after Professor David Nutt was sacked as the government's drugs advisor for controversially claiming that cannabis, Ecstasy and LSD are less dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes.
It appears that the Nutt sacking was not popular with other UK scientists.
The Government is facing mass resignations from the official advisory body on drugs after the sacking of its chairman, The Times has learnt.

Two members of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs quit yesterday in protest at Alan Johnson's dismissal of David Nutt in a row over the relative harm caused by drugs and alcohol.

Les King, an expert chemist, was the first to resign. He said that the Home Secretary had denied Professor Nutt his right to free speech and called for the council to become truly independent of politicians. He was swiftly followed by Marion Walker, a pharmacist and clinical director with the substance misuse service at the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The affair has led scientists to question the Government's wider commitment to the independence of external scientific advisers, and raised fears that experts will become reluctant to sit on advisory panels.

Scientists on the council are preparing a letter to ministers seeking assurances that they will remain free to set their agenda and to speak freely about their research and findings. It is possible the 28 remaining members will quit if their concerns are not addressed before a council meeting next week.

One of the country's leading experts on drug dependence said that, without such assurances, it would be difficult for any scientist to succeed Professor Nutt as council chairman while retaining the respect of their peers.

What got the Brit drug warriors so upset was this statement by Professor Nutt.
Professor Nutt was sacked after criticisms he had made of the Government's drugs policy were published in a paper by the Centre for Crime and Justice at King's College London. The comments were made in a lecture he delivered in July, in which he said that Ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes. He also criticised the decision to upgrade cannabis to class B.

Mr Johnson insisted that he was right to force Professor Nutt to stand down months after he took over as council chairman. "You cannot have a chief adviser at the same time stepping into the public field and campaigning against government decisions," he said.

Well of course you can't. If the government is lying and the scientists are basing their views on actual facts it makes the government look bad. We can't have that now can we? People might lose faith in their betters. Making them no better (and probably worse) than the rest of us.

The clashes of science with political science are nothing new. It has been going on at least since the dust up between Galileo and the Catholic Church. In the end it always makes the political scientist look stupid and reduces their credibility.

If the Earth rotates around the sun and other planets besides Earth have moons you can only accept that fact. If marijuana is safer than alcohol there is nothing you can do but accept the fact. Political science always loses to facts. In the long run.

In theory we are smarter than the the Catholic Church was in the 1600s. In fact we have not come so far baby.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:07 AM | Comments (26)




Why bring the war home?

Via Glenn Reynolds, James Taranto makes a very important point I think is being missed in the debate over the trial of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in New York:

one man's technicality is another's violation of due process; and the corollary of treating KSM like ordinary criminals is treating ordinary criminals like KSM. This column approves of aggressive interrogation to gather intelligence from terrorists, but there is little doubt that some of the methods that were used would have been abusive had they been applied by law-enforcement agents to domestic criminal suspects.

When appellate courts decide questions of law, they set precedents for future cases. If they make allowances for the exigencies of the war on terror in order to uphold convictions of KSM and his associates, it could end up diminishing the rights of ordinary criminal defendants. That's why the smart civil-libertarian position is to oppose trying terrorists as civilians.

He's absolutely right, and this is why I don't think it's entirely correct to characterize the KSM trial as a return to the naive pre-9/11 world. It isn't.

Not unless we really do return to 9/10 and roll back the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, and the extraordinary powers that the government has accumulated since 9/11. It's easy for Barack Obama to pose as an opponent of the war on terror, but does anyone actually expect him to relinquish federal executive power? I don't.

And that is why it makes me very nervous to see him bringing the war home.

Say what you want about Bush, but one of the things I most liked about him was that to a large extent, he externalized the war on terror. He kept it OVER THERE -- where it belonged, and I think that's one of the reasons people liked him. (At least, it may explain why they preferred his war strategy to John Kerry's police strategy.)

Bringing the war home is an old 1960s anti-war slogan, and as we close down Guantanamo and bring the worst terrorists in the world right here, as we disengage from and mismanage Iraq and Afghanistan, we literally bring the enemy to this country, where we propose to treat them as domestic criminals. And if terrorists are treated as domestic criminals, why shouldn't domestic criminals be treated as terrorists?

In this and in so many ways, the war on terror is being conflated with the war on crime. And we know how well the war on crime has gone, don't we? Crime is considered just one of those things that we just have to live with. Except that more and more things are being made crimes, and more and more crimes are being equated with terrorism. The Homeland Security and Patriot Act provisions are now routinely invoked against all kinds of regular criminals. Gangs and terrorists are being linked together as national security threats. (I guess "West Side Story" morphed into "West Bank Story" in some bureaucrat's utopian scheme.) No doubt the War on Drugs won't be far behind -- no doubt rebadged as the "War on NarcoTerrorism" or some equally conflationary Orwellianism.

Glenn also links Shannon Love, who is thinking along similar lines:

The greatest danger posed in the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) isn't that he will go free. The greatest danger is that he will be convicted and that during his appeals the courts will ratify all of the extraordinary measures used to capture and convict him. The great danger is that the courts will ratify the rough, inaccurate and ambiguous norms of martial law as applying to all civil criminal trials.

After a couple of decades of these court decisions reverberating throughout the legal system, we could end up living under de facto martial law.

They might have to invoke martial law in New York before the trial is over. I worry that that might be what's behind the idea of bringing the enemy here.

I wish we still had a president who kept them -- and the war -- where they belonged.

Over there.

posted by Eric at 04:54 PM | Comments (2)



Business Idea

A Palin detractor in the comments at Althouse has this to say:

But I don't know how a book can be the number one best seller before a single reader has his hands on one.
To which I responded:

The left will NEVER understand business.

They will always be failures in America. Which is why they need government.

I wonder why more businesses don't cater to that market though. There is obviously a need for TP with instructions written on every sheet. Perhaps Sheryl Crow could be induced to write them. For a fee.

It could be a best seller.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:24 PM | Comments (1)



Breakfast at Edna's (an education on education)

A forensic scientist I am not. However, the following comment to M. Simon's post about the suicide of Michael Scott intrigued me:

Was Scott left-handed?
In my personal experience, I have found that a good way to tell which hand a person favors is simply to watch the person write something. If that isn't possible, then watch him doing things like drinking a beer or drinking coffee. Usually (but not always), left handed people will drink with their left hands, and right-handed people will drink with their right.

I found a fascinating three-part YouTube video showing Michael Scott (with Congressman Danny Davis, our current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and State Senator Rickey Hendon) at an allegedly illegal meeting held at Edna's Restaurant in Chicago, and he does seem to favor his left hand. In Parts 1 and 2, he holds his coffee cup mostly with his left hand (even though there is someone sitting to his left), and in Part 3 he drives away after pausing to insult and scold the photographer -- at whom he repeatedly points remonstratively and shakes the index finger of his left hand. (Scott is sitting all the way at the back of the table, wearing a white baseball cap.)

By the way, these videos provide an interesting behind-the-scenes look not only at Michael Scott, but at the inside world of Chicago politics -- especially as it pertains to education. A more detailed explanation of the nature of the secret meeting is provided here.

Considering who some of the participants are, they arguably provide a behind-the-scenes look at the inside world of the people who are now governing the country.

A few brief Wiki excerpts about the "Breakfast at Edna's" participants.

  • State Senator Rickey Hendon
  • An October 9, 2008 story in The Washington Post told of substantial tension between Hendon and then colleague Barack Obama, culminating in a physical confrontation in June 2008. Nonetheless, Hendon supported Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
  • Congressman Danny Davis
  • Although Davis was fully promoted as a Democratic candidate, he also ran as a New Party candidate.[16][17][18] Supporting this was New Party's celebration of him as the "first New Party member elected to the U.S. Congress."[19] Although the State of Illinois did not permit fusion voting, New Party advocated fusion voting as a means to promote their party and party agenda and to particularly project New Party ideology into the mainstream Democratic Party.[20] Candidates were referred to as "N[ew]P[arty] Democrats"[20] and were required to sign a contract mandating a "visible and active relationship" with New Party.[21] During this timeframe, New Party was experiencing substantial growth[22] and included in its ranks a young Barack Obama.[16][17][21][23]

    [...]

    Davis expressed interest in being President Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate, and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was expected to appoint Obama's successor in late 2008 before his own major scandal erupted, stated that Davis would "make a great senator."[31] In a December 31, 2008 article published on the website of The New York Times, Davis said that he turned down an offer from representatives of Blagojevich to appoint him to the Senate.[32] Instead, Blagojevich appointed Roland W. Burris.[33]

  • current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • Duncan has extensive experience in educational policy and management, and he was a teacher from 1990 to 1992. In 1992, Duncan became director of the Ariel Education Initiative, a program to enhance educational opportunities for children on Chicago's South Side that was started by John W. Rogers, Jr.. In 1996, along with Rogers, he was part of a network that funded and supported Ariel Community Academy.[13] In 1999, he became Deputy Chief of Staff for former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.[14] Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Duncan to serve as CEO of Chicago Public Schools on June 26, 2001.[15]

    Duncan was a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago's class of 1995[16], and a member of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program, Class of 2002. In May 2003, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lake Forest College.

    On December 16, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Duncan for Secretary of Education. Duncan had known Obama for over a decade and played recreational basketball with him, including the day Obama was elected president[17]. Duncan was confirmed by the full Senate on January 20.[18][19]

    The videos are titled "Selling out the community Danny Davis, Ricky Hendon, Michael Scott and Arne Duncan" and described thusly:
    Here is a backroom meeting on the westside of Chicago with some major players..A tip was given regarding this meeting to discuss the closing of Collins High School to turn them into Daley ran Charter Schools public schools on the Westside. We don't know what WAS being discussed but it sure looks shady
    Shady or not, the videos follow in sequence.


    "Selling out the community Danny Davis, Ricky Hendon, Michael Scott and Arne Duncan Part 1of 3"


    "Selling Out the Community Danny Davis, Rickey Hendon, Arne Duncan and Michael Scott Part 2"


    "
    Selling out the community Danny Davis, Ricky Hendon, Arne Duncan and Michael Scott Part 3
    "

    So, while I know it's not conclusive, based on the above videos I think a strong case can be made for Michael Scott being left-handed.

    Beyond that, the videos speak for themselves. I think they provide a fascinating inside glimpse at Chicago politics, although I hope they do not represent a behind-the-scenes look at some of the people who are now governing the country.

    Far be it from me to help shed unwanted light on larger issues.

    posted by Eric at 11:59 AM | Comments (8)



    A good question

    In a refreshing reminder of how pleasantly "out-of-it" some people are, when I told a South Park fan about a recent episode which spoofs Glenn Beck, an immediate question arose.

    "Who is Glenn Beck?"

    I don't watch him (on the few occasions I tried, the commercials thwarted me), but I tried to stick to the facts consisting of tidbits I have read and overheard. He's an entertainer whose politics are to the right, who describes himself as a libertarian, and who seems to enjoy regaling listeners with conspiracy theories.

    Actually, Glenn Beck hardly seem to have been terribly upset by the South Park episode. His reaction is to laugh at himself (which I think is in his favor):

    At the end he expresses the wish that someone would "get the facts right," but I think that's asking the impossible. We live in world where there are too many facts to be gotten, much less gotten right. Besides, today's facts are not tomorrow's. What is important is that Beck is getting is free advertising with an audience that otherwise might never turn him on. (But for South Park, I would never have bothered with the YouTube link nor written this post.)

    From Chris Yogerst's "Generation South Park" series:

    South Park is indeed a largely libertarian show. Yet Gen Y Conservatism has a solid foot standing in the libertarian movement. This sense of neutrality allows both South Park and Gen Y Conservatives alike to raise questions about ideas and people in any political movement, including their own. It allows ideas of freedom to be considered by those who aren't listening to talk radio and Fox News.

    [...]

    ...in true South Park fashion the end gives us a drastic spin that shows the brilliance of the show. Cartman is no longer Beck when Wendy is no longer a stand in for Obama which occurs when Wendy turns into a comically socialist Sarah Palin figure.

    This type of political commentary allows South Park's true views to fly under the radar in order to engage both the Left and Right. Gen Y Conservatism does the same thing.

    It's probably a good idea for them to ask "Who is Glenn Beck?"

    Damned if I know.

    posted by Eric at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)



    Murder Suicide

    The head of the Chicago Board Of Education, Michael Scott, is dead.

    Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times that Scott had a gunshot wound to his left temple and police discovered a .380-caliber gun underneath his body, which was found 30 feet from his blue Cadillac.
    Terrible. But there are suspicious circumstances.
    Scott reportedly disappeared from his Chicago home Sunday.

    Emergency responders pulled the body out of the river at 4:30 a.m. local time Monday, after receiving a tip, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Joe Roccasalva told MyFoxChicago.com.

    So was it murder or suicide? Or murder followed by suicide. Or suicide followed by murder?

    Why was Scott "despondent"?

    Scott had been Mayor Daley's go-to guy for a long time. Over the summer he told the Chicago Sun-Times that he had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating how students were selected for the system's elite selective-enrollment high schools, MyFoxChicago.com reported.

    Scott said he had done nothing wrong, the Web site reported.

    Chicago residents grew angry when Daley appointed Scott to serve a second stint as school board president. Scott had recommended that sports agent Rufus Williams succeed him, but Williams resigned under pressure and Daley re-appointed Scott to head the school board and oversee the city's public schools -- a top Daley priority, MyFoxChicago.com reported.

    "My wife and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Scott," Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger said in an e-mail statement released Monday.

    Chicago is famous for mob bosses sending condolences to the family of some one they have ordered killed. However, one should beware of guilt by association. Just because Mr. Stroger is from Chicago, as is our President, there is no reason for guilt by association with a city known for its gangster past.

    As far as I know Mr. Stroger is nothing like Alexi Giannoulias who is running for Obama's old Senate seat if he can win the Democrat nomination.

    Before he promised to raise funds for Obama, Giannoulias bankrolled Michael "Jaws" Giorango, a Chicagoan twice convicted of bookmaking and promoting prostitution.

    Giannoulias is so tainted by reputed mob links that several top Illinois Dems, including the state's speaker of the House and party chairman, refused to endorse him even after he won the Democratic nomination with Obama's help.

    Thank the Maker that an honest politician from Chicago has become President. The country would be in really bad hands if we had gotten the other kind.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:17 AM | Comments (5)



    Mark Kirk Rumors

    Hill Buzz has an interesting rumor about personal information that could be used against Mark Kirk in his run for Obama's old Senate seat.

    Since Burris is not seeking election, we hope Republicans win Dr. Utopia's old seat, because that would sure be a wonderful victory for Michael Steele and the RNC's Senate team. And it would infuriate the White House. The trouble is, Republicans are running a fatally flawed candidate in Mark Kirk, who will be outed spectacularly by Democrats during the general election -- using ammunition Kirk's estranged wife has been feeding Dem operatives during their messy divorce. It's deja vu to the Jack Ryan for Senate campaign all over again (remember, that's how Dr. Utopia won his Senate seat...by releasing the pervy sex details actress Jeri Ryan used against Kirk in their divorce). Kirk does not respond well on his feet: instead, he starts telling military stories from his time in Afghanistan and seems to think you won't notice that he's not addressing whatever it is you want to talk about. A lot of politicians do this, but Kirk's not good at it. Too clumsy and obvious. When he's outed next year, he will probably do more of this, and fumble and bumble his way to a Jack Ryan-Alan Keyes debacle.
    I lived and voted through the Keyes-Ryan-Obama debacle.

    Keyes was so bad (he disowned his own daughter when she came out as a lesbian) that I had to vote for the Communist over the Theocon. As did a lot of others who voted in that race. I would hate to see a repeat of that debacle.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:31 AM | Comments (0)




    Health Care Nazis

    I have found an incipient Health Care Nazi.

    "Well, for one, I know nobody wants to pay taxes for anybody else to go to the doctor -- I don't," said Kate Kuhn, 20, of Acworth, Ga. "I don't want to pay for somebody to use my money that I could be using for myself."
    You see this in play with the abortion question as it relates to health care. If government gets the strangle hold on health care the bill envisions then how you live becomes a political question. Drink too much wine (or maybe not enough) and the government will be watching. Too many cigarettes? You will only be alloted grade B or C care you wrecker of the public finances. We can have wars on meat eaters. We can have wars on vegetarians. And with a little luck we can bring a few to a premature demise.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:20 PM | Comments (3)



    Ask what you can do for your identity!

    I have to say that I admire M. Simon's patience in writing this post, which was occasioned by a link I sent him discussing the following question:

    Are you a Christian first and an American second?

    Or an American first and a Christian second?

    While Jesus's "render unto Caesar" remark comes to mind, if I tried interpreting it I'm sure someone would disagree. I've long since learned that debates over religion are even less fruitful than debates over politics -- for the main reason that religion revolves around things that are either unknown or unknowable (whether there are deities, and if so, which one or ones might be the true one or ones and who had the right to speak on their behalf) while politics at least theoretically revolves around the known or knowable. Of course, things like environmentalism and Global Warming tend to blur this distinction, perhaps intentionally, but in general, if you are debating parties or candidates, there's not much debate over whether they exist. Debates involve what known policies or which known person is right. Where it comes to God, there isn't even a threshold agreement that infinity contains something in the spiritual sense, much less what form that might take. In this respect, atheism is just as much an opinion of the unknown as any other opinion of the unknown. I'm not advocating atheism or nihilism here; only opining that views of the unknown have to be accepted on faith. Skepticism too is a view of the unknown, so I tend to regard my natural skepticism with just as much skepticism as I regard my natural inclination to believe that infinity does contain something in the spiritual sense.

    But debating this? What sense is there in debating opinions on the unknowable? I'm just glad that we have the freedom to hold these opinions -- that the thing we call "freedom of religion" is within the rubric of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    As to the idea of being "a Christian first, and an American second," that strikes me as bordering on identity politics, and makes about as much sense as being "black first, American second." Plenty of people think that way, and many more believe in memes like "the environment first, America second." So why not "atheist first, American second"? I'm sure there are some atheists who think of themselves that way, and while self-defining identitarianism is certainly part of the American birthright, it seems awfully tedious. And how far do we go with having our interests relegate that American birthright to secondary importance? Scientist first, American second? Gay first, American second? Pro-choice first, American second? Pro-life first, American second? Conservative first, American second?

    Easy for me to be so dismissive. But the truth is, saying "libertarian Pagan Christian pantheist blogger first, American second" is just too much of a mouthful.

    posted by Eric at 06:07 PM | Comments (3)



    Abortion Is Back

    Senior Adviser To The President David Axelrod says he wants to bring abortion back into the health care bill. Well it is already in the bill. The Stupack Amendment forbidding the government from funding abortions.

    The amendment, authored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., went beyond preventing the proposed government-run plan from covering abortion to restrict federal subsidies from going toward private plans that offer abortion coverage. David Axelrod says the amendment changes the 'status quo,' something the president cannot abide.

    White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod suggested Sunday that President Obama will intervene to make sure a controversial amendment restricting federal funding for abortion coverage is stripped from final health care reform legislation.

    In doing so, the president would be heeding the call of abortion rights supporters like Planned Parenthood that have called the White House their "strongest weapon" in keeping such restrictions out of the bill.

    The abortion amendment was tacked on to the House health care bill and was a key factor in securing the votes of moderate Democrats before the bill was approved by a narrow margin last weekend.

    It is interesting that the Republicans could have killed the bill by not passing the Stupak Amendment.

    Aside from wanting to keep their NRLC 100% ratings why would they do such a thing? My guess is that it is theater. This is all a show. What comes out of it? The Health Destruction Bill gets killed at the last minute by abortion foes. Politically sound. The Lefties in Congress can tell their supporters they tried really hard to pass the bill but those nasty fundie abortion foes (some of whom are Democrats) blocked it because they are against a Woman's Right To Choose. If it wasn't for them it would have passed.

    Obama can stand by his promise that no one's health care plan is going to change (immediately). And the Congress critters get all kinds of cover. From, "I voted against it", to "I had to vote against it because of...". Everybody wins and the bill no one wants gets flushed.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)



    Football provides a refreshing break from politics

    Ann Althouse is taking flak from her commenters for writing a post about football, even though all she did was point out that her team (the Wisconsin Badgers) beat Michigan's Wolverines - which happens to be "my" team -- 45-24. That game was a major rout - and in a comment I thanked her for not gloating, which it was certainly her right to do.

    I've never been a football fan, but I now live in a major football zone (so close to Michigan Stadium that I could make hundreds of dollars selling parking in my yard), and I have enjoyed going to some of the games. In a most uncharacteristic post, I discussed the Wolverines' narrow defeat of the Badgers in an exciting upset game I attended last year.

    No such luck this year. The once-legendary Wolverines are routinely being described as "mediocre," or worse yet, as a team that loses to mediocre teams.

    The Detroit Free Press said that they "can't imagine a lower bottom, but each week brings unimaginable pain."

    There have been innumerable calls for the head of coach Rich Rodriguez, and there's a web site dedicated to getting him fired.

    And you don't have to follow football -- or the Rich Rodriguez quagmire -- to get a kick out of the following video -- although I have to say that I never thought I'd live to see Hitler going ballistic over my town's football team.

    The Hitler video touches on the general theme reflected in a comment that "Flexo" left to Ann Althouse's post:

    As a long time Michigan fan --

    GOOD!

    They need to get their asses whupped each and every week that they play a real college team. Rich Rod is the biggest bum to have ever coached in the entire Big Ten. He is totally lacking in class or honor. Until he slinks away, Michigan needs to get pounded in the dust.

    While I haven't followed the details closely, the Hitler video touches on something that's been the subject of a lot of discussion: an alleged NCAA cheating scandal. Earlier there were allegations that Rodriguez shredded athletic records when he left UWV, and more recently, another scandal involving Rodriguez's personal finances has exploded in UM's face. Bear in mind that the university shelled out an unprecedented amount of money ("the largest known buyout to hire a college football coach") to hire this guy.

    Sheesh.

    No wonder the Fuhrer was upset. Considering the totality of the circumstances, Ann Althouse showed remarkable restraint.

    Besides, this is all supposed to be fun and games, right? Pure entertainment. It's not as if we were discussing politics. College athletics provides young people with wholesome lessons in life.

    A perfect example would be Michigan's former linebacker, the gargantuan Justin Boren. Not long after Rodriguez took over, he was so upset that he quit the team, and transferred to its arch-rival, Ohio State. This has caused him to be regarded as a traitor -- as "college football's Benedict Arnold." Strong words, but this week is being called "Boren week" because he's coming back to Ann Arbor with The Enemy.

    I can't help being fascinated with the treason phenomenon, and I'm glad the Boren "treason" has nothing to do with politics. As I'm emotionally detached about football, it provides an almost laboratory setting in which to examine the whole concept of treason.

    When the alleged "traitor" Boren quit, here's what he said:

    "I regret leaving behind my friends and teammates, but I need to stand up for what I know is right," Boren said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "I wore the winged helmet with pride, whether we won or lost, whether things were going well or times were tough.

    "Michigan football was a family, built on mutual respect and support for each other from (former) Coach (Lloyd) Carr on down. We knew it took the entire family, a team effort, and we all worked together. I have great trouble accepting that those family values have eroded in just a few months. That same helmet, that I was raised on and proudly claimed for the last two years, now brings a completely different emotion to me, one that interferes with practicing and playing my best and mentally preparing for what is required."

    The kid's father also played for Michigan, so whatever might be said about his "treason," it doesn't appear to be a decision he took lightly.

    The lesson, of course is that Rodriguez is the new commander. The head honcho. He gets to redefine everything, scrap Michigan's vaunted old traditions that made the team a consistent winner, and flush the past by virtue of his power to push the reset button. Those who are disloyal to him and switch sides are the traitors, and no matter how loyal they might think they are to the "real" Michigan, that "reality" is now in the reactionary past.

    Bear in mind that a primary reason for bringing Rodriguez in was that the old system had been criticized as being stodgy and set in its "country club" ways. Rodriguez was "trying to change a culture that had grown stale and predictable" and "shook up the country club atmosphere at U-M."

    So, what won out was change for the sake of change, only it isn't working.

    As I say, I'm glad this has nothing to do with politics. But just before the election last year, a Michigan student argued against change for change's sake using Rodriguez to illustrate what I think is an astute political analogy:

    Since my world is dominated by politics and sports, I can't help but draw a comparison: Carr's tenure reminds me in a lot of ways of the current Bush administration. Of course, the parallels between politics and sports are tenuous at best.

    But hear me out. When I think of the Bush administration, a few words come to mind: unsatisfying, frustrating, disappointing. Those were the same words I used to describe Carr's years. In a way, I've been down this road before. I have plenty of issues with the Bush administration: its fondness for budget deficits, its failure to use overwhelming force in the first year of the war in Iraq, its unnecessary, massive bailout of banks.

    Contrary to the alarmists, though, we aren't in a depression. We haven't been attacked by terrorists in seven years. And we certainly are still the most powerful nation in the world, both economically and militarily. In short, just as was true with Carr's Wolverines, it could be worse.

    In both situations an inspirational leader stepped in, promising sweeping change. For Michigan football it was Rich Rodriguez, who claimed the only way to continue the tradition of winning was to ditch the preceding system. Three yards and a cloud of dust was yesterday's paradigm, and, therefore, it can't work today. Sweeping and fundamental change is necessary to move Michigan from four to zero losses a year, Rodriguez said. Though the jury is still out on Rodriguez's tenure, it doesn't look like fundamental and sweeping change was prudent.

    That was a year ago. I'd say the jury has now returned with a verdict.

    BTW, author Alex Prasad concluded by hoping the country wouldn't repeat Michigan's mistake:

    Perhaps radical change is necessary, but that is rarely the case. If the current mindset is producing a consistently winning (if admittedly underachieving) program, why re-invent the wheel? Tweak it. Four years from now, we will have a similar vantage point on the next presidency as we currently have on the Rodriguez tenure. I just hope we don't end up in the same boat twice.
    Well, in the political sense it really isn't the same boat. It's true that Michigan's mystique has dwindled, but Michigan can bail on Rodriguez whenever it wants, and be done with change for change's sake. The team's losses, along with the coach's scandals and even the talk of treason -- would then be relegated to mere footnotes in the history of college sports. No endless harangues, no important lessons that need to be learned, none of that in-your-face morality. And best of all, the fans themselves are not to blame!

    No wonder people prefer sports to politics.

    posted by Eric at 11:41 AM | Comments (5)




    Talking To A Lefty

    I was talking with a green lefty with the typical punish business mentality and was commiserating with him about his recent job loss.

    Sorry about your job loss. Maybe you will get on the lower taxes and less regulation bandwagon to give American companies a better environment to compete. And dude - be careful about that union thing. Think about Government Motors and Crisis Motors.

    Or you could figure out more ways to raise company expenses and drive more jobs offshore. I'm aways amused at folks who work hard to cut their own throats and then complain that getting your personal throat cut hurts. It was supposed to be the other guy who got his throat cut. The fat cats.

    But think of it positively. You did your part for the Greening of America.

    Reminds me of a Russian Joke.

    Genie: I will give you one request; anything you want. I will give your neighbor twice what I give you.
    Peasant: Poke one of my eyes out.

    Me? I would ask for a pile of gold and enjoy my neighbors good fortune.

    So what would be the equivalent for you? Do everything in your power to increase corporate profit. Including stumping for lower corporate taxes. Less regulation. Simpler rules for hiring and firing.

    Your punish business attitude is only punishing yourself.

    It is surprising how common this attitude is in the the land of business. Greed drives the desire for profit and envy works to diminish it. I can see where greed limited by honest methods is a good thing. Envy that strives for punishment winds up poking your own eye out.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:08 PM | Comments (8)



    Coming soon to a city near you?

    In what I think is a blatant restriction of private property rights (as well as grotesque government micromanagement of people's lives), the City of San Francisco is considering requiring landlords to accept pets:

    Right now, it's up to property owners to decide if they'll allow pets. But a city commission is looking at forcing landlords to accept them with one member even calling it, essentially, a civil rights issue.
    Stop right there. Private property is also a civil rights issue, and if I don't want a tenant with a pet (for whatever reason), that's my business and not the government's business.

    Apparently not in San Francisco:

    San Francisco is a city where dogs are said to outnumber children, where those who have pets are officially called guardians not owners.

    It is also a city where Charlene Premyodhin found it incredibly hard to find a landlord who was OK with her Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix.

    "The place we're living at now, the only reason we're allowed to have a dog is because our cousin is the landlord. But at every other place, we haven't been able to have a dog," she said.

    Noni Richen is listing some of the damage from pets that even a hefty security deposit doesn't necessarily cover. She's the president of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, whose members are going nuts over a proposal that could force landlords to accept tenants with pets.

    "We've had more responses on this than to any other question. It's the loss of control over our property that seems to have people up in arms," said Richen.

    The proposal being debated is designed to reduce the number of animals turned over to shelters or even euthanized because those who want them can't find housing.

    If people are turning in unwanted animals, that is not the problem of landlords. That's like requiring landlords to provide housing for the homeless because otherwise they'd be in homeless shelters.

    Besides, who will compensate landlords for the damage the pet might do to the premises? Who will compensate the landlord if he is sued when a tenant's pet bites someone, or annoys other tenants or neighbors? What if the landlord lives in the building, and is allergic? What about allergic tenants?

    This is typical left-wing insanity. It's easy to laugh it off because it's in San Francisco, but these ideas spread.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: FWIW, if I had a litter of puppies for sale, I'm not at all sure I would sell one to a person who lived in an apartment building. Large active dogs are not designed for apartment life, and I don't think it is appropriate to make landlords accept them.

    posted by Eric at 06:09 PM | Comments (4)



    "It can't happen here"

    In yet another example of how government censorship tends to creep from country to country, a German law firm is demanding that Wikipedia remove all references to a man convicted in the brutal 1990 murder of filmmaker Walter Sedlmayr:

    At issue is an apparent conflict between the U.S. First Amendment -- which protects truthful speech -- and German law -- which seeks to protect the name and likenesses of private persons from unwanted publicity. Sedlmayr's murderer became a public figure when he and his accomplice were tried for brutally killing the well-known actor, and contemporary newspapers published his identity at that time. Fifteen years later, according to his attorneys, German law views the killer as a private citizen again. So, his lawyers have sued the German language Wikipedia, and threatened the English language version with the same, if they fail to censor the Sedlmayr article. They've also gone after an Austrian ISP that had published the names, and it looks like that case may head to the European Court of Justice. Perhaps Germany wants to make it easier for defendants to reintegrate into society, and publicizing a man's past crimes interferes with the effort. After all, "he who controls the past, controls the future". But this slogan from Orwell's Ministry of Truth is anathema under U.S. law, which takes it as an article of faith that people must be allowed to publish truthful information about historical events.

    A foreign power should not be able to censor publications in the United States, regardless of whether doing so suits the country's domestic law. The current dispute is reminiscent of LICRA v. Yahoo!, in which a French court ordered the American company to prevent access to its Nazi memorabilia auctions by French residents, then fined the company for failing to do so. Yahoo! sought and obtained a ruling in the U.S. that imposing the French law on the company would violate the First Amendment. (The opinion was subsequently overturned for lack of personal jurisdiction over the French entities).

    At stake is the integrity of history itself.

    Damn right it is. I don't know whether Germany is alone in its stance, but I can easily imagine other countries following suit, so that in the future, people would only be able to read that Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn were murdered -- but nothing about their killers after they were released.

    And imagine if we had a similar standard here. People would not be allowed to discuss the crimes of such charming people as Michael Vick. Or Squeaky Fromme. Or Bernardine Dohrn (who according to a recent report, may yet actually face murder charges).

    I'm glad that so far, Wikipedia is sticking to its guns. Here's an excerpt from the entry on the Sedlmayr murder (and please forgive the html garbling that will occur to the German characters):

    In July 1990, Sedlmayr was found dead and mutilated in his bedroom. He had been tied up and killed with a knife and a hammer. Through lurid reports in the Munich tabloid press, his homosexuality became a matter of public knowledge for the first time. In 1993, half-brothers Manfred Lauber and Wolfgang Werlé,[1][2][3][4] former business associates of Sedlmayr, were sentenced to life in prison for his murder. They were released on parole in 2007 and 2008.[5]

    Sedlmayr's life and murder were the subject of the 2001 biopic Wambo by Jo Baier, where he was played by Jürgen Tarrach, and of an episode of the ARD TV series Die großen Kriminalfälle.

    In October 2009, lawyers for Wolfgang Werlé sent Wikimedia Foundation a cease and desist letter requesting that Werlé's name be removed from the English language Wikipedia article Walter Sedlmayr.[6][7][8] The U.S. First Amendment protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press, although German law seeks to protect the name and likenesses of private persons from unwanted publicity. The German language version of the Wikipedia article about the Sedlmayr case removed the names of the murderers.[9][10]

    Americans who take the First Amendment for granted tend to forget that this country is an island surrounded by countries without the same traditions of free speech. The more internationalized things become, the more pressure there will be to enforce compliance with the laws of other countries.

    As it is now, I could probably get sued in Germany just for quoting Wikipedia's true statements in this post.

    posted by Eric at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)



    Rockets



    Rocket science is easy. Rocket engineering is... not.



    H/T taniwha at Talk Polywell who coined the phrase.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:41 AM | Comments (0)



    The Future Of Warfare

    Thomas Barnett gave this talk in 2005 when Iraq was falling apart. If you listen closely he discusses the mistake President Present is about to make in Afghanistan.

    The video is quite funny and full of salty language. It is also about a half hour and worth every minute.

    The bottom line: we need a procedure for fixing failed states. So far the effort has been ad hoc. It needs to be formalized.

    You can get more Thomas Barnett at Thomas Barnett.

    H/T glemieux at Talk Polywell

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:36 AM | Comments (7)




    The importance of being vicious

    While a story about an abused child might not be as interesting to the readers, the Philadelphia Inquirer has a long article about a severely abused dog named Oreo. Described as a "pit bull mix," she had been severely beaten (badly enough that a fellow project resident called the cops) and finally thrown from the roof by her lovely 19 year old owner -- who will probably be barred from owning animals when he is paroled, but who will of course always be allowed to father as many children as biology permits.

    NEW YORK - Oreo was called a miracle dog when she was thrown off the roof of a six-story Brooklyn building this summer and survived.

    But nearly four months later, the 1-year-old brown-and-white pit bull mix growled and lunged at people gathered in a playroom to see her, then turned and lunged at a female handler who had pulled back furiously on the 62-pound dog's heavy leash.

    After months of working to rehabilitate Oreo, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it had determined she is too dangerous to ever be placed in a home or even to live among other dogs.

    The organization said it plans to euthanize her Friday.

    "Everything we've tried to do for her has not worked," said Ed Sayres, the president and CEO of ASPCA. "And she has gotten more aggressive."

    Sayres, a longtime proponent of "no-kill" shelters, said it's rare for the organization to euthanize an animal. He said 94 percent of the nearly 4,000 animals the organization takes in each year are placed in adoptive homes and the rest are euthanized because of medical or behavioral reasons.

    "The measure of our success around here is lives saved," he said.

    Indeed, it was anybody's guess whether Oreo could be saved when she arrived at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

    The organization said it received a complaint on June 18 that a dog had been beaten on the third floor of a housing project on West Ninth Street in Brooklyn, and then a second call saying that the same dog had been thrown from a roof. She was found with two broken legs and a fractured rib.

    Fabian Henderson, a 19-year-old who lived at the complex in the borough's Red Hook section, was arrested in July on felony charges, according to the ASPCA.

    He pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to aggravated cruelty to animals and was released on his own recognizance pending sentencing on Dec. 1, court records show.

    There was no phone listing for Henderson at the Brooklyn building. His lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

    After Oreo was brought to the ASPCA, surgeons reassembled the dog's front legs and she recuperated well enough to walk. But during a behavioral evaluation in July, she began to display aggression "with little provocation and little warning."

    "The staff should not lean over her or make direct, sustained eye contact," the evaluator's report said.

    In further tests, she growled at strangers and bit an evaluation tool called an Assess-A-Hand , which looks like a mannequin's arm on a stick , multiple times. She barked and lunged at another dog at a 5-foot distance.

    That a dog abused this way might become vicious should not surprise anyone, and considering the number of scummy people who want pit bulls, I'm only surprised that it doesn't happen more often. (If anything it's a testament to the capacity those animals have for tolerating abuse without complaint.)

    I will never forget a conversation with an animal control officer in Berkeley who told me about an incident in which a pit bull (pre-screened for its gentle disposition) was adopted by a family they didn't know had a budding young psychopath of a son who proceeded to beat the dog with a baseball bat. Eventually, the dog turned on him, inflicting severe injuries on the boy. Naturally, the dog had to be put to sleep, the family got a lawyer, and sued the city. As the basic operating principle of society is that nothing is anyone's fault but all injuries must be handsomely compensated, the vicious kid's family got a nice settlement.

    Abused kids also grow up to be vicious, but it's not as interesting to the public. (Check out the number of stories about Oreo, the dog thrown from the Brooklyn roof. The story was covered repeatedly in the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and eventually made MSNBC, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and now Classical Values!)

    Now, while I hate to be judgmental except as a form of satire, I must admit to a strong suspicion that the mother of the guy who threw the dog off the roof did not do the greatest job of supervising what was going on in the family home:

    Henderson's mother, Samantha Henderson, 41, told the Daily News Friday she's never seen the dog before and doesn't believe her son did it.

    "I was surprised that he got arrested for that," she said, noting the family has a pit bull mix named Diamond. "He's basically a quiet person, good with animals."

    But an ASPCA investigation revealed numerous witnesses saw Henderson toss Oreo off the roof, Pentangelo said.

    After Henderson was arrested, he admitted he'd done it but refused to explain why, sources said. Henderson later changed his story and said the dog jumped, sources said.

    Henderson's mother's claim that she has never seen Oreo before conflicts with a June 6 incident in which Henderson was arrested. A city housing cop spotted him walking an unleashed dog fitting Oreo's description, law enforcement sources said.

    The officer collared Henderson after learning there was an unspecified warrant out for his arrest, the sources said.

    Huh? What about the previous complaint from a neighbor about the dog being beaten? I think I'll stick my neck out here and venture that the mother might have been less than completely honest when she said that she had never seen the dog before.

    Interestingly, at the New York Times blog, commenters are trying to politicize the issue by insisting that young Mr. Henderson has to be a Republican. With all respect to their keen powers of insight, I'll stick my neck out again and express my doubts about that too.

    But hey, if he does turn out to be a Republican, I'll still feel the same way about him. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats, people who abuse dogs and throw them off buildings are psychopaths who will probably do the same thing to people sooner or later. And if they have children, in all likelihood their children will be vicious too.

    But they will be less interesting to society than vicious dogs.

    posted by Eric at 11:55 AM | Comments (5)



    Cheaper And Easier To Find

    The Charlotte Observer has a story about a new way to herd junkies. Interesting in and of itself. But this bit really caught my eye:

    When officers knocked on Ross' door Thursday afternoon, dogs started barking before the door opened.

    "Are you a heroin user, sir?" an officer asked.

    "I used to be," said Ross.

    Ross, 30, who didn't want his last name published to protect his identity, said a girlfriend introduced him to the drug. He was already on painkillers, but heroin was cheaper and easier to find.

    Some one care to tell me again how well drug prohibition is doing in keeping drugs away from people who want them?

    Pot is easier for kids to get than beer. How is that possible? In theory pot is impossible to get and beer is only restricted.

    America is a nation of law breakers. It puts limits on what government can actually accomplish. I like that. Politicians and crusaders need to keep in mind that without 99%+ voluntary compliance laws are in effect unenforceable. And in some cases not even 99%+ is enough.

    I do find the faith in government guns as a viable solution to social problems interesting. It always starts out with turn the guns on the other guy and then goes bad from there. And always the refrain "This time it will be different." Yeah. Right.

    H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:47 AM | Comments (8)




    Dual Loyalties

    Jews get accused a LOT of dual-loyalties. America AND Israel. Eric of Classical Values sent me a link to this url which shows it is Worse Than We Thought for some Christians.

    Are you a Christian first and an American second?

    Or an American first and a Christian second?

    Do you take your marching orders from God or the constitution?

    Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
    I am a Christian American. I love my county but my God is more important. If the constitution contridits the Bible i guess i will have to break the law. please to not think that i hate my country...i am very patriotic! I JUST LOVE JESUS MORE. :]

    Of course that is not the only dual loyalty around. Some people have a commitment to Theft by the State - commonly referred to as Socialism - over the Constitution. And a lot of those don't even claim to be patriotic, in fact just the opposite. They see patriotism as an impediment.

    I'll take the patriots. Even if they have dual loyalties.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:18 PM | Comments (6)



    Major Hasan feeds the campaign to disarm America

    A number of people on the right side of the political spectrum (including those who blog here) have been asking how it came to be that Major Hasan escaped scrutiny and managed to remain an Army officer despite his bizarre views and terrorist sympathies.

    But on the left, many -- including Senator Frank Lautenberg, whose unconstitutional legislation I discussed twice -- are saying he shouldn't have been allowed to buy a gun.

    To what extent are these two views contradictory? I think he was too much of a security risk to have been allowed to remain as an officer in the Army, but I don't think that's the same standard that should be applied to denying citizens their Second Amendment rights.

    Nevertheless, the terrorist incident is being used to drum up support for gun control, and for the Lautenberg bill. This article -- Alleged Fort Hood Shooter Bought Gun, Despite Ongoing Terrorism Investigation -- is typical:

    Senior law enforcement officials say the Brady Law forbids them from widely sharing information about legal gun purchases.

    "We need to be smarter about sharing information," said former 9/11 commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste. "It's very disturbing to see...that the FBI is precluded from sharing information."

    Current federal law does not prohibit people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns unless there is a prohibiting factor, such as being a fugitive, having a felony conviction or charge, renouncing U.S. citizenship or having been determined as mentally impaired.

    Earlier this year, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., introduced legislation which would prevent known or suspected terror suspects from purchasing firearms.

    "If someone on any terrorist watch list tries to buy a weapon, law enforcement must be informed - period," Lautenberg said in a statement Wednesday when contacted by ABC News. "If some people are being blocked from flying on an airplane, then we should certainly know when they are buying an assault weapon."

    The FBI unit responsible for background checks on gun purchases does provide leads to the FBI about some high priority terrorism suspects; but that watch list is not inclusive of everyone the government may have concerns about.

    In an Examiner Op Ed, Kurt Hoffman sees a disturbing pattern with the above:

    The article goes on in that vein, but by now, it's pretty obvious what the bottom line is: to those lamenting that the purchase data was not shared with the terrorism investigators, a gun purchase is itself an indication of terrorist inclinations.

    If the government has already conceived a suspicion of "terrorism," by virtue of such indicators as expressing opposition to more restrictive gun laws, opposition to abortion, displaying of the Gadsden flag, even following Norse mythology, then the purchase of a firearm would "seal the deal," and be seen as additional "evidence" of terrorist leanings. Remember, the FBI had already dropped the terrorism investigation into Hasan, so clearly, the idea here is that a gun purchase, by even a "suspect" who is considered pretty low on the threat list, is to be treated as a red flag.

    Finally, this would be a pretty nifty way to implement an illegal federal database of gun purchases--just call everyone a "suspected terrorist," and then everyone's gun purchase data becomes open game for the feds.

    It's not just "following Norse mythology" (there but for the grace of Odin went the author of this blog!) that can get you on the list of people whose Second Amendment rights Lautenberg wants to cancel. The Department of Homeland Security defined "domestic extremism" as including the following:
    (U) rightwing extremism
    (U//FOUO) A movement of rightwing groups or individuals who can be broadly divided into those who are primarily hate-oriented, and those who are mainly antigovernment and reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.
    This term also may refer to rightwing extremist movements that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
    (also known as far right, extreme right)
    In other words, people whose opinions the government does not like.

    The ACLU has sounded the alarm over the ease with which people can make it onto the various terrorist watch lists the government compiles:

    Names and license numbers of peaceful demonstrators protesting NATO's bombing of Serbia

    In April, 1999, JTTF agent Tom Fisher, joined by two members of the Denver Intelligence Unit, monitored two peaceful demonstrations protesting the bombing of Serbia. According to the report, detectives followed one participant to her car three blocks away, apparently to get her license number so she could be identified.

    Names and license plate numbers of peaceful demonstrators

    Fax dated June 25, 2002, from Colorado Springs Intelligence Unit to Kathy Miklich of the DPD Intelligence Unit. The North American Wholesale Lumber Association held its annual convention at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs in June, 2002. Environmentalist and conservationist groups organized a peaceful demonstration to express their concern that practices of the lumber industry pose a threat to endangered old-growth forests. The Colorado Springs police provided the Denver Intelligence Unit with a two-page list of names and license plate numbers of participants in the nonviolent protest. The cover sheet indicates that the list of names and plates would be forwarded to Tom Fisher of the JTTF, who was apparently expecting the information. An FBI spokesperson admitted that the agency requested the list of plate numbers.

    Report on person promoting documentary film that criticizes FBI

    Intelligence Bureau Information Summary, Oct. 19, 1999, reporting on an individual handing out flyers advertising the showing of a documentary that criticizes the FBI. A handwritten note indicates the report will be faxed to Tom Fisher at the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

    The film which criticized the FBI was "Waco -- The Rules of Engagement," a copy of which I happen to own. It's understandable that the government might not like movies that criticize the FBI like that, but if distributing flyers about them is "extremism" (which as we know is government Newspeak for terrorism), then the whole thing is out of control. And suppose you are a nutcase treehugger, or someone who believes animals have exactly the same rights as people. Or suppose your grandmother lives in Serbia and you showed up to demonstrate against the NATO bombing. So what? These are all completely protected First Amendment activities.

    While it is undeniable that in the post 9/11 climate, surveillance was increased, with new files being opened kept on citizens engaged in otherwise legal but nonetheless suspicious activities, this was not really new, as the same thing had been done in the 1960s.

    But back in the 1960s, it never would have occurred to anyone that citizens whose names found their way into government files because of their political activity should be deprived of their Second Amendment rights. The idea would have been unthinkable.

    Returning to Major Hasan, there is no question that many if not most Americans would want the government to keep an eye on someone like that. As Austin Bay pointed out, the man is a traitor in every sense of the word. Common sense would suggest that he should not have been an Army major (just as common sense would have suggested that Jane Fonda should not have hypothetically been made an Army major during the 1960s).

    But does that mean Hasan should have just lost his Second Amendment rights? Before he committed any crime? How are we to come up with a standard? Should all members of mosques with similar views also lose their Second Amendment rights? Why? They don't lose their First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, do they? (And I see no way to legislatively disarm radical Muslims without also disarming radical tree huggers, anti-abortion fanatics, radical skinheads, or even rabid fans of "Waco, Rules of Engagement.")

    There are some risks that inhere to a free country, and one of them is that just as there are murderers and other ordinary criminals running around, there will be also be traitors, jihadists, terrorists, and other politically-deranged bad people.

    It strikes me that just as the best way to combat the perils of bad speech is by countering it with good speech, the best way to fight guns in the hands of bad people is by having more guns in the hands of good people.

    posted by Eric at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)



    Treatment Denied

    A why is treatment denied? Because it is unavailable. So reports the Army Times.

    Treatment, not incarceration, should be the first option for veterans who commit nonviolent drug-related offenses, a group advocating alternatives to the nation's "war on drugs" said Wednesday in a new report.

    The Drug Policy Alliance report [pdf] also called on government agencies to adopt overdose prevention programs and policies for vets who misuse substances or take prescription medicines, and urged "significantly expanded" access to medication-assisted therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine, for the treatment of dependence on opioid drugs used to treat pain and mood disorders.

    Now that is a change. People use drugs to change their minds. Or at least how their minds make them feel. I wonder if they are suggesting that idea because it is now more acceptable? Addiction or self medication?
    Those close to the issue point out that about 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression or other mental illness or cognitive disability, and that 19 percent of veterans who have received care from the Veterans Affairs Department have been diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence.

    Guy Gambill, an Army veteran and advocate for veterans' rights who took part in the conference call, noted that one of the hallmarks of PTSD "is a tendency to self-medicate. People do that with drugs, people do that with alcohol."

    In my article originally published in 2002, Addiction or Self Medication?, I voted for self medication. I guess it is catching on. Took 'em long enough.

    H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:34 AM | Comments (0)




    Huckabee's unfair double standard in shoe-shopping!

    Without fully explaining in detail, Glenn Reynolds opined that Sarah Palin is more atttractive than Mike Huckabee.

    WELL, SHE CERTAINLY IS AHEAD OF HIM ON THAT COUNT: Huckabee: Palin's getting more media buzz than me because she's attractive. More important, from my perspective, is the fact that -- although people have tried to paint her as some sort of "Christianist" theocrat wannabe -- she actually governed more as a libertarian than a conservative.
    Yeah, I have noticed that too, and so has M. Simon. Sarah Palin is probably as close as the country has gotten to having an actual, certified libertarian within striking distance of the White House.

    But that's the rational, political part of the analysis. What intrigues me here is the irrational, emotional side.

    Attractiveness.

    When I clicked on the link, I saw Governor Huckabee quoted as making the following very petulant statement about Sarah Palin:

    "she looks better in stilettos than I do"
    Did he really say that?

    Not looks better than than I would, but looks better than I do. He's not making a hypothetical statement, but a statement of fact -- as if he knows.

    Shouldn't the voters be allowed to judge something like that for themselves?

    Frankly, I think Huckabee is getting a huge pass.

    Can anyone imagine the outcry if Barack Obama had said exactly the same thing?

    (Better yet, imagine the reaction if Sarah Palin complained that Mike Huckabee looked better in men's shoes than she did!)

    posted by Eric at 08:00 PM | Comments (9)



    Thursday Quote

    Apropos, I think:

    We have to foster reform in the Arab/Muslim world because it's the only real way in the long run to make them stop trying to kill us.

    -- Steven Den Beste, July 2003

    And this seems almost prophetic:

    But does America have the stamina to finish the job? Yes.

    Just barely, and only because of the genius of David Petraeus and the stubborn tenacity of one George W. Bush.

    posted by Dave at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)



    Obama Rejects All Options On Afghanistan, Demands New Plan

    It's now taken longer for Barack Obama to evaluate General McChrystal's plan than it took George W. Bush to overthrow the Taliban after the September 11 attacks. From The Decider to The Ditherer:

    President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

    Uh huh, good luck with that. The Afghan government doesn't have tens of billions in oil money to prop up its security forces, and the main source of revenue for Afghans is still, stupidly, only permitted by our enemies.

    posted by Dave at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)



    Too many heresies!

    Are there too many people in the world? Some say there are, and some say there aren't. The topic does not seem to lend itself to easy answers.

    The last time I touched on the subject, it involved considering whether there is such a thing as conservative eugenics, and I was no more comfortable with it than the commenters. A statement that "conservatives have increasingly expressed concern that privileged women are failing to breed, while less privileged women are breeding too much" worried me, as did the notion of encouraging people to breed (and implicitly criticizing them if they don't), but it's not a passion of mine. My attitude probably reflects the fact that although I never had kids personally, I don't like telling people what to do with their personal lives, especially their reproductive organs. I don't like the leftie (Ehrlichian) idea that people who have kids are bad for having them, nor do I like the "right wing" (if it is that) idea that people who don't have kids are bad for having not had them. Enough things have been made unattractive by being politicized, and if they succeed in making the having or not having of children a political act, what's left?

    Breathing?

    (Now, you know the answer to that, so I don't need to elaborate.)

    Anyway, last night I found myself forced to wonder whether it somehow violates conservative principles to opine that there are too many people in the world.

    What started me down the trail of this meme was that Glenn Reynolds linked a post by Randall Parker on the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," which Parker concluded this way:

    We need fewer people and people need to wake up to the scale of human interventions in the environment.
    OK, I'm naturally skeptical about the giant island of floating plastic, because even though it might be true, I have learned to be skeptical about catastrophe claims in general. Plus, the arguments are phrased in hypothetical terms:
    ...the patch's size is unknown...

    ...Estimates on size range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi)...

    ...The area may contain over 100 million tons of debris...

    ...It has also been suggested that the patch may represent two linked areas...

    For those who are into "Garbage Patch Denialism," here's a detailed skeptical analysis.

    But my point is not to defend or attack the Pacific Garbage Patchers or the skeptics. What annoyed me last night was the way Randall Parker was treated by snarky conservatives for voicing the opinion that there were too many people.

    They were seriously pissed, and here's a sampling of excerpts:

  • Anyone who says "We need fewer people," should volunteer.
  • Why do all environmentalists prefer genocide to inovation and problem solving?
  • Only a fascist thinks we need fewer people.
  • I call upon all environmentalists/green advocates/earth-gaia mothers/PETA members and any other guilty-feeling group to come to the aid of the planet and do their part to lower the burden on our planet, in heroic and unselfish fashion.
  • Just offer yourselves up to the starving polar bears! Two problems solved in one!
  • Fewer people? You first, fool.
  • Please take pity on the world and take yourself out now if you believe this drivel.
  • Futurepundit advocates genocide...or perhaps just simple democide.
  • He never advocated genocide, of course, but I've noticed that one way ideologues operate is by putting words in your mouth.

    FWIW, I don't think it is possible to determine whether there are "too many people" as a factual matter, because it inherently comes down to being an opinion based upon additional data and/or assumptions requiring explanation, but I see Randall Parker's point, and he was not advocating genocide.

    What concerned me is that there were so many angry and insulting comments that it seemed as if there's an emerging conservative litmus test on the population issue. If you think there are too many people, you're open to the accusation of being a liberal, and if you have a reputation as being on the right side of the political spectrum, then you should be condemned and insulted as a heretic.

    The latter runs counter to the traditional rule that conservatives are looking for converts, and liberals are looking for heretics, and I hope it is not a trend. I say this not only because I think it could backfire in the political sense, but because it is already backfiring for me in the personal sense.

    One of the reasons I became fatigued with blogging was that I was sick of insults directed by the left against the right. As I have explained, I am more of a defender by nature than I am an attacker, and during the Bush years I found myself in my "public defender" mode. Leftists would attack, and I would defend their right-of-center victims. Leftists would attack the country, and I would defend the country. It was ideally suited to my nature, and also to my politics, because even though I'm not a true conservative, to be be libertarian is usually to be right of center.

    While my political views have not changed in any way that I can discern, since the election of Barack Obama, the mechanism has changed, and something on the right has changed. Perhaps it's the adoption of leftist tactics, but I have noticed that conservatives have become more aggressive in demanding adherence to what they call "conservative principles," and much more vociferous in their attacks. Things have reached the point where even I -- a libertarian blogger who has never claimed or pretended to be anything other than that -- feel under more pressure now to become a conservative than I ever have. The word "libertarian" is being systematically left out of most political discussions (and it almost never appears in polls), and it is as if libertarians are supposed to go into some kind of conservative "closet," and refer to themselves not as libertarians but as "conservatives." It feels as if there is a serious attempt in the works somewhere to relabel libertarianism as conservatism, and beyond that, to attempt to either transform libertarians into conservatives, or at least demand that they stop saying what they think.

    It's not so much the conservative label that bothers me, because as I have observed countless times, I really don't care what label other people bestow on me, as long as they don't demand ideological adherence to it. If liberals want to call me conservative and conservatives call me liberal, that's OK, because I can defend myself against the attacks. But don't call me a conservative and then expect that just because I don't object every time, that I agree with whatever some self-appointed conservative spokesman says conservatism is supposed to be. For the umpteenth time, may I just be allowed to think what I think?

    But there is something I object to far more than the conservative label, and far more than the pressure to conform to "conservatism." What really creeps me out the since the election of Obama is this sense that not only am I supposed to be a conservative, but I am supposed to be an aggressive and insulting conservative -- a right wing echo of the left wing insult hurlers I so loathed for so many years. That's like asking me to do what I most hate doing.

    To stay with the "public defender" analogy (and I did work for the San Francisco public defender's office), it is like taking a public defender and then suddenly demanding that he work as a District Attorney! I don't like the DA mentality. Much as I recognize the need for prosecutors, being one is just not in my nature. Just. Not. What. I. Do. (I can do anything occasionally, but to do something like that constantly is unsustainable.)

    So, while I can't be certain of whether it's conservative heresy to opine that there are too many people in this world, I'm delighted to defend against the charge.

    posted by Eric at 01:49 PM | Comments (5)



    All Abortion All The Time

    The Health Care Bill is no longer about the socialization of medicine. It has now come down to the socialization of abortion. And it seems like a number of women don't like the restrictions added to the bill. And to use a typically misogynist phrase: they are not going to take it lying down.

    House Democrats voted to expand the current ban on public financing for abortion and to effectively prohibit women who participate in the proposed health system from obtaining private insurance that covers the full range of reproductive health options. Political calculation aside, the House Democrats reinforced the principle that a minority view on the morality of abortion can determine reproductive health policy for American women.

    Many House members who support abortion rights decided reluctantly to accept this ban, which is embodied in the Stupak-Pitts amendment. They say the tradeoff was necessary to advance the right to guaranteed health care. They say they will fight another day for a woman's right to choose.

    Perhaps. But they can't ignore the underlying shift that has taken place in recent years. The Democratic majority has abandoned its platform and subordinated women's health to short-term political success. In doing so, these so-called friends of women's rights have arguably done more to undermine reproductive rights than some of abortion's staunchest foes. That Senate Democrats are poised to allow similar anti-abortion language in their bill simply underscores the degree of the damage that has been done.

    I was making a similar argument (with positions reversed) about Republicans who were more concerned with their NRLC Rating than with stopping the Health care Bill.

    But maybe this is a teaching moment: Nationalized Health Care will force choices you may not want or prevent you from making choices you might want. Something I'm rather familiar with given my experience in the Marijuana Is Medicine movement. There are a lot of places that government just does not belong. Medicine is one of them.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:39 AM | Comments (16)



    Matters Of Faith

    Wretchard at Belmont Club is having a discussion of the nature of faith prompted by an Obama speech Honoring the Fort Hood dead. Faith is an interesting thing. An engineer labors on because he has faith that questions will turn into answers. And not just any answers. Answers good enough to earn a profit. That severely limits the solution space. We see the same thing in farmers. They have to believe that they can steer around unpredictable obstacles well enough to harvest a crop and make a profit. Faith is an every day thing for that kind of business. But it is an uncertain faith. Sometimes faith is unwarranted. Difficult business that.

    Well a few words on the subject:

    I have always liked Hunter S. Thompson's Commentary on Faith.

    I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. Hunter S. Thompson

    I will admit it is not a religion suitable for children.

    God and I have a special relationship. I believe God exists and that c********* had better straighten up and fly right or I'm going to kick some serious arse when I get a holt of the summabitch.

    Of course I really don't need faith. God talks to me every day. Or it could just be my mild schizophrenia.

    You want mild schizophrenia to help you? Lower the filters. You know, be born again. Stop making so much internal noise. Replace it with external noise. Because there is signal hidden in that noise. All true religion consists of teaching you how to be born again. Being the technical geniuses we are in the West some day we will invent a pill. Maybe we could call it TFW. Temporary Filter Wipe.

    So what is the value of faith? It gets you to labor on, despite the fact that there is no objective way out of the current difficulties. Faith overcomes depression. And sometimes that extra effort is enough to get you out of the mess. Or it gives you something to do until the solution arrives. Survival advantages. And it doesn't need much advantage to make faith propagate - genetically if not by word of mouth.

    H/T RD in the comments at Find God Or Your Money Back

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:23 AM | Comments (0)




    Happy Veterans Day

    Today is Veterans Day, so if you know any veterans, go out and thank one. If you don't know any veterans to thank, you could always start with this blog's resident veteran M. Simon, who also has his own blog.

    My father served in World War II and my grandfather served in World War I, but they're dead and I can't thank them. However, I did donate here, per Glenn Reynolds' suggestion. (And I'm happy to see that Google has finally decided that the people who risked their lives for this country are worth remembering with a picture and a link.)

    Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has an official Veterans Day poster, and here's this year's poster:

    vetsday09.jpg

    Thank you, veterans!

    MORE: If you have five minutes to spare, this video from Reason TV (showing World War II veterans visiting the World War II memorial) is really good.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    posted by Eric at 07:22 PM | Comments (1)



    The state giveth, the state taketh away

    Camille Paglia praises Nancy Pelosi for displaying what a lot of people would call balls if they had any. Pelosi, argues Paglia, is "sets a new standard for U.S. women politicians and is certainly well beyond anything the posturing but ineffectual Hillary Clinton has ever achieved."

    And this:

    a basic feminist shibboleth like abortion rights became just another card for Pelosi to deal and swap.
    There's also a scathing indictment of the health care bill:
    ....this rigid, intrusive and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare. Holy Hygeia, why can't my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic healthcare and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators? Massively expanding the number of healthcare consumers without making due provision for the production of more healthcare providers means that we're hurtling toward a staggering logjam of de facto rationing. Steel yourself for the deafening screams from the careerist professional class of limousine liberals when they get stranded for hours in the jammed, jostling anterooms of doctors' offices. They'll probably try to hire Caribbean nannies as ringers to do the waiting for them.
    And she asks,
    ....why are we even considering so gargantuan a social experiment when the nation is struggling to emerge from a severe recession?
    It's the old one-two punch. They don't want the free market to recover; they want to deliver a knockout punch. Even the most "idealistic" of them imagine that they're FDR, whose policies prolonged the Depression, but ushered in more big government.

    To repeat myself, not only do they know that socialism doesn't work, they realize that's the whole idea. Not a bug, but a feature. If it doesn't work (which it won't), it will require more government to fix it. Socializing health care will go a long way towards creating a self-replicating, perpetual motion government machine. Getting it started is so important that sacrificing a shibboleth like abortion here and there is a no-brainer.

    Besides, with the government's foot firmly in the door, abortion can later be added, by a new bill, amended regulations, or even judicial fiat.

    An opportunity for intervention by the courts would be made especially likely if David Frum turns out to be correct in his contention that the bill would ultimately ban all abortions.

    These exchanges mingle public and private dollars on complex sliding scales of subsidy. That almost certainly will mean no abortion coverage for any exchange-sold policy, whether the individual purchaser herself receives a subsidy or not.

    More government = less choice, in every sense of that word "choice."

    As all insurance and all health care become Sovietized, you don't think the courts are going to sit around and allow their bureaucratic comrades to cut off a right which emanates from their penumbra, do you?

    Here's what one of Frum's commenters said:

    The window will open when everyone thinks that the door is closed and when nobody's looking the law will quietly change and abortionists will be able to kill babies on Uncle Sam's dime. Guaranteed!
    When everyone pays for everyone's health care (and the individual free market ceases to exist), then everyone will pay for everyone. If abortion is a "right," it will be everyone's responsibility to pay for it.

    A libertarianish commenter raised an interesting but (IMO) unavailing economic argument:

    I don't see why tax dollars should be paying for someone's mistakes. If they want an abortion let them pay for it themselves.
    Sorry, but that does not work, for many reasons. Fat people, people with lung cancer, people with STDs, skin cancer patients who sat in the sun, people whose cuts and burns became infected from a lack of personal hygiene, and even pneumonia victims who went out in the cold without dressing properly and forgot to wash their hands -- all of these and more can be said to someone else's mistakes. By what standard is anyone to determine which mistake should go untreated -- especially under a system where we all pay? With the government in charge of health care and private care ultimately withering away, where would they go? But the main reason that commenter is barking up the wrong tree is economic, and was answered here:
    Setting the morality of abortion aside, the average pregnancy and birth incurs about $12,000 in medical expenses, for low-birthweight babies the average cost is higher, and for very low-birthweight babies the cost may be astronomical (not to mention that the child may have problems that continue into adulthood). If a policy covers pregnancy, on purely economic terms, wouldn't the insurance company heave a sigh of relief any time a woman had an abortion (at a cost of perhaps $350)?

    Also, birth control is cheap relative to pregnancy and birth. Isn't it in the economic interest of insurance companies to pay for birth control?

    It also seems to me by your criteria, it would be arguable that pregnancy and birth should not be covered by insurance.

    That's not even factoring in the saved CO2 emissions. Every human born into life is a wasteful environmental hazard. Abortion is the ultimate cost cutter. The only thing cheaper than that would be sterilization. On the government's dime, of course.

    Like it or not, we'll all be in the same pool. As an individualist, I don't like being in the same pool with -- much less having my health care decisions managed by -- people who see my breathing as a threat to the planet, but I guess that's why I have this blog. I can complain to my heart's content, and my heart is never contented.

    Of course, now that I live in Ann Arbor, perhaps I should write my Congressman, John Dingell. He has spent most of his legislative career fighting for government health care, though, and as his congressional website points out, so did his father:

    At the beginning of every session of Congress, Congressman Dingell introduces the national health insurance bill his father sponsored when he was a Member.
    So while I might have fun speaking "truth to power," I don't think he'd consider my letter to be very persuasive. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no man in Congress more in favor of government health care than my Congressman.

    And really.... How persuasive is any opinion to those who disagree with it? On the other hand, how persuasive is an opinion to those who agree with it? Those who agree agree, and those who disagree disagree.

    But that still leaves emotional satisfaction and possible entertainment value. Ultimately this means that writing to my Congressman would be a bigger waste of time than writing this blog post.

    So why not combine both? The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that if this whole process is in fact a waste of time, the time that is wasted should be wasted in a proper manner!

    Besides, people pray, don't they? I realize that to an atheist, prayers are a waste of time, but even if God does not exist, prayer nevertheless offers a form of emotional release and possibly satisfaction. And if we assume the state has replaced God, then writing to those who rule the state is probably less of a waste of time than prayer, because unlike God, the state's existence is known and not open to dispute.

    What is and what is not a waste of time is relative.

    (Letter to Congressman Dingell appears below.)

    Continue reading "The state giveth, the state taketh away"

    posted by Eric at 12:28 PM | Comments (9)



    AMA Sees The Light At The End Of The Joint

    I got a press release by e-mail this morning that is most interesting. It says marijuana is a drug. For real.

    The American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and called for further research. The CSAPH report concluded that, "short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis." Furthermore, the report urges that "the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."

    The change of position by the largest physician-based group in the country was precipitated in part by a resolution adopted in June of 2008 by the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA in support of the reclassification of marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance.

    See just like I said. Marijuana is a drug. Medically useful.

    Safer than alcohol says this book: Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

    Safer than aspirin says this book: The Science of Marijuana

    You can read the rest of the press release at Americans for Safe Access.

    They also have some other reading material.

    AMA Report Executive Summary [pdf]

    AMA Report Recommendations [pdf]

    The American College of Physicians - Supporting Research Into The Therapeutic Role Of Marijuana [pdf]

    I think the rationales for the War On Pot Smokers are crumbling. The medical angle is just one front. And yes. Medical marijuana was always a stalking horse for legalization. The prohibitionists were right on that one. But they did get one thing wrong. It is not just Cheech and Chong Medicine. It is now AMA Medicine.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:44 AM | Comments (2)




    No one is accountable. And nothing is anyone's fault!

    Speaking of police accountability, check this out (from the Wiki entry for Jeffrey Dahmer):

    In the early morning hours of May 30, 1991, 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone (by chance, the younger brother of the boy whom Dahmer had molested) was discovered on the street, wandering naked, heavily under the influence of drugs and bleeding from his rectum. Two young women from the neighborhood found the dazed boy and called 911. Dahmer chased his victim down and tried to take him away, but the women stopped him.[29] Dahmer told police that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend, and that they had an argument while drinking. Against the protests of the two women who had called 911, police turned him over to Dahmer. They later reported smelling a strange scent while inside Dahmer's apartment, but did not investigate it. The smell was the body of Tony Hughes, Dahmer's previous victim, decomposing in the bedroom. The two policemen failed to run a background check that would have revealed that Dahmer was a convicted child molester still under probation.[30] The officers laughed about the incident, one joking that his partner was "going to get deloused."[31] Later that night, Dahmer killed and dismembered Sinthasomphone, keeping his skull as a souvenir.

    John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, two of the three police officers who returned Sinthasomphone to Dahmer, were fired from the Milwaukee Police Department after their actions were widely publicized, including an audiotape of the officers making homophobic statements to their dispatcher and cracking jokes about having reunited the "lovers". The two officers appealed their termination and were reinstated with back pay. They were named officers of the year by the police union for fighting a "righteous" battle to regain their jobs. Balcerzak was later elected president of the Milwaukee Police Association in May 2005.

    I hate it when outrageous stories in Wiki are correct, but unless people are making up wild tales, it's true.

    John Balcerzak is in fact the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, and a movement to recall him failed 312-397. On the bright side, it's reassuring to know that 312 Milwaukee officers have enough of a sense of decency that they don't want as their president a guy who bragged about "reuniting" Dahmer with his victim.*

    Just goes to show you, it's hard to discipline people these days.

    Not even Bush and Ashcroft could fire the government employees who gave visas to Mohammad Atta and company.

    And if President Bush couldn't fire government employees, that means I couldn't do it either, not even if I had real power.

    So.... if I couldn't remedy the problems of which I complain, perhaps I shouldn't sit in judgment of those who can't.

    Democracy is humbling.

    And disillusioning.

    *It may not have been his fault. And the issuance of visas to Atta and company might not have been the fault of the people who issued them. And what about the failure of the Army to discharge Major Hasan?

    MORE: Just for tonight, may I please at least be allowed to sit in judgment of those who apparently think that complaints about "homophobic statements" have any place in the discussion of the torture murder of a fourteen year old boy?

    This trivializes something absolutely horrific.... Whatever "homophobia" the officers may have engaged in pales in comparison to the monstrousness of the underlying crime.

    Political correctness does function as a diversion, doesn't it?

    posted by Eric at 09:44 PM | Comments (5)



    Tales Of Government Run Health Care

    This is anecdotal evidence. We don't know if Actual Government Run American Healthcare will work better or WORSE than these anecdotes.

    I haven't read the book. So far all four reviews are five star. It could be the author's brother in law and his married cousin though. But this excerpt I got by e-mail was interesting.

    Fourteen Hospitals Turn Away Critically-Injured Elderly Man

    Rescue workers in Japan called fourteen hospitals before finding one that would take an elderly bicyclist who collided with a motorcycle.

    The accident, which occurred at 10:15 pm in the Japanese city of Itami, left the 69-year-old bicyclist, who was not identified, in critical condition with back and head injuries. Paramedics arrived on the scene five minutes after the crash and administered first aid. Yet, for about an hour, they were unsuccessful at locating a hospital to treat the man.

    Helpless, the elderly man waited in the ambulance at the accident scene as hospital after hospital rejected treating him, citing unavailable beds, staff shortages and a lack of equipment and specialists. All told, fourteen hospitals in the neighboring prefectures - i.e., governing districts - of Hyogo and Osaka refused his entry.

    "There were four other emergency calls in the same time frame of that night," explained Mitsuhisa Ikemoto, the fire department spokesman. "[A]s a result, we were unable to find a hospital."

    It took a second round of calls for rescue workers to find a hospital. Finally, at 11:30 that night - 75 minutes after the accident - they took him to a hospital in Itami, which had initially declined to accept him. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the hospital's resources that night were unsatisfactory.

    You can read the rest by buying the book. Just click on the book picture above. Or you can download the book.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:01 PM | Comments (1)



    Insurance Exchange

    MoveOn.org (and no, I'm not going to link) says:

    Victory!

    The House just passed historic health care reform, moving us a big step closer to covering millions and ending Big Insurance's stranglehold on health care.

    Good idea. Giving Big Government a stranglehold has got to be an improvement.

    Nationalized Health Care. National Socialism. What could possibly go wrong?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:18 PM | Comments (1)



    Be Informed

    I'm getting questions from here and there. It is my premise that the vote to strip abortion out of the Health Destruction bill allowed the bill to pass the House. Well a lot of Right thinking people have questioned that premise. They ask me, "how can you know for sure?" Well I can't. But the Philadelphia Enquirerer can.

    The House restrictions, offered in an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), were the price that Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who supports abortion rights - paid to get a health-care bill passed, on a narrow 220-215 vote.
    Eric at Classical Values who gave me the Enquirer link has more to say about what is going on in the Senate. Abortion. As far as I can tell at this point the bill couldn't have passed the House with abortion funding in it and it may be that it can't pass the Senate without abortion funding in it. Abortion!

    You know it may just be that one million abortions a year saves us from this health care monstrosity. Cold. That. Yep. Or maybe the Republicans will figure a way to screw the pooch. It has happened before.

    If you want to know how various critters in the House vote on abortion you can go here. Vote #4 on the chart was the most recent one in the House.

    And you can look at previous Senate votes on abortion by going here.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)



    An Inconvenient Uncertainty

    Willis Eschenbach nails it:

    Here's the point: prior to this study, the IPCC was 99% certain that the radiative forcing from methane was between about 0.4 and 0.6. But this new study is now 99% certain that it is between 0.7 and 1.3 ... which means that the uncertainty ranges of the earlier studies, or this study, or both, are way too small. They claim a certainty about their calculations that we simply do not have.

    This is a recurring problem with the IPCC, and with climate science in general. They are very, very certain that they have the answers, certain enough that people say "the science is settled". They are certain enough that people say we should spend billions and billions of dollars based on their conclusions.

    But as you can see above, this certainty is false. Their claims are not valid, and their uncertainty ranges are ... well ... let me call them "incredibly optimistic" and let it go at that.


    I'll go further and say they are a deliberate lie. It's beyond obvious that you can't keep throwing out "90% certain" scenarios that keep being wrong. No real scientist would pretend otherwise.

    Meanwhile, McIntyre and Lindzen destroy the AGW argument on Finnish TV. Bristlecones, Yamal, the upside-down Korttajärvi graph, ERBE... it's all there.

    posted by Dave at 01:50 PM | Comments (1)



    Citizen videos help the police do their job

    Videos of police incidents are helpful to the police, right? They can help solve crime because they preserve an accurate record of who did what to whom, they can help in determining whether and when a crime occurred, and they can obviously be of great assistance in identifying criminals. So it seems to be almost a no-brainer that the police should welcome them.

    It may sound counterintuitive, but two unrelated incidents -- one here in Ann Arbor and another in Detroit -- lend credence to an idea I have seen expressed before -- that police do not like video cameras.

    In Ann Arbor, a 19 year old driver was beaten so badly by a mob that he required hospitalization. The incident was witnessed by University of Michigan students, one of whom captured it on video on his digital camera. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of giving the memory card to the police, who now say that they lost it:

    LSA seniors Brian Barton and Zachary Ward said they took pictures of brutal beating on Barton's digital camera shortly before the attack, then a video once it began. After giving a statement to AAPD, Barton said he handed over his memory stick to be used as possible evidence.

    The next day, Barton said he received a call from an AAPD officer who had been in possession of his memory card telling him that the memory card had been lost before police had viewed it.

    Barton and Ward said they believe the police department has dropped the ball on the whole situation.

    Ward said he believes the memory card could have been essential in identifying the assailants and that its loss demonstrates the police department's mishandling of the incident.

    "Losing the memory card was a vital piece of evidence," Ward said. "That could have easily identified the people involved or at least been on the news to show people and make them aware of the current problems with violence on campus."
    AAPD Sgt. Mike Lance, who arrived at the scene of the beating, was unable to comment on the loss of the memory card when interviewed by a Daily reporter last night, stating that he was unaware one had been turned over to police or which police officer would have taken it.

    Ward said he believes the AAPD has "made a mess" of the incident.

    It certainly makes it easier not to do anything, and I suspect that had the attackers targeted a police car, that memory stick would have been preserved more carefully. Obviously, this is speculation on my part, but I think there is a lesson here.

    If you are lucky enough to have a camera on hand and capture an incident like this, don't just give the memory stick to the police. You do not have to -- and you can always provide it later if there's a subpoena, and if the officer insists on having it, tell him to get a warrant. That will at least guarantee a paper trail. In this incident, even though there are now numerous accounts (including an MSNBC version), and a police spokesperson has taken charge of the official fudging, it still isn't clear who lost the memory card, or how. I'm amazed at how little is known about this incident; the reports are not even clear on whether the victim or his many attackers were students.

    I know it will sound cynical, but a part of me suspects that someone did not want the video to ever see the light of day.

    In Detroit, OTOH, a very different situation was presented. Sean Harrington, the owner of a very popular local destination spot called the Town Pump Tavern, caught an employee stealing, and called the cops for help. But instead of arresting the employee, the cops arrested the owner, Harrington. Apparently, the employee stated that Harrington hit him and he pulled a knife in self defense. Harrington says he never struck him, that the video confirmed this, and that the police refused to view the video. Instead (claims Harrington), Detroit police subjected him to 24 hours of what might be called "street justice":

    If the tape truly tells the tale, Sean Harrington may have argued with an employee, but he never struck him.

    Still, Harrington spent more than 24 hours behind bars last week before he was charged with misdemeanor assault.

    The incident has Harrington, owner of the popular Town Pump Tavern, near the Fox Theatre, claiming he is afraid to call Detroit Police in the future and comparing police holding cells to "a gulag."

    Police respond that the case was handled by the book.

    I'd like to see precisely what "book" it is they're talking about. Remember, Detroit is a city where police are known for not coming at all when you call them, are barely able to prosecute most murders, and burglaries have become "low priority" crimes.

    Back to the incident at the Town Pump Tavern:

    Both sides agree that Harrington confronted Aric Walden, who he suspected of stealing food. According to a police report the Free Press reviewed, Walden said he "borrowed" two eggs. Harrington said he yelled at, then fired, Walden.

    The police report says: "Harrington struck ... Walden to the right side of his head near his ear ... Walden grabbed a knife to defend himself ... and fled."

    Surveillance video supplied by Harrington's lawyer shows the men exchanging words before Walden leaves.

    Harrington said police refused to watch the surveillance video, stuffed him into a squad car and took a roundabout route to the Northeast District while blaring rap music and refusing to loosen cuffs he said were making his hands numb. Over the next 24 hours, Harrington and his lawyer said, police refused to say whether he was being charged. He said he was in a cell smeared with vomit and diarrhea.

    When former U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins, who also is representing Harrington, brought a signed judicial order for his release, officers directed Collins to another police facility.

    Before Collins returned, Harrington was charged with misdemeanor assault and released. He is due in court today.

    Police spokesman John Roach said because Harrington was locked up for less than 48 hours before he was charged, "I don't see any problem at all with the actions that were taken."

    Well, it certainly doesn't inspire me to open a business in Detroit, or expect to have any confidence in calling the police if I had a problem.

    Sure, it's possible that Harrington is making all of this up, but what about the video? If it vindicates him, that would seem to raise basic questions about whose side the police are on ("priorities"?) -- something unpleasant to contemplate, but which might explain why the police would refuse even to take a look at the video before arresting the owner of a thriving business which directly contributes to the economic benefit to a city which is for the most part dying and hopeless. But again, this is speculation on my part.

    Might the simpler explanation be that police just do not like videos?

    Maybe, except that isn't an explanation.

    CORRECTION: Earlier, I incorrectly stated that the driver was dragged from his car and beaten by the mob, when he got out of the car first, and was then beaten. Error corrected.

    posted by Eric at 11:43 AM | Comments (3)



    The narrative has changed! Now it's all about abortion!

    Now that the Democrats are fresh in the glow of their victory in the House of Representatives, I am seeing this new meme everywhere, a Philadelphia Inquirer writeup being typical. The headline is "Abortion threatens health bill," but I think the subtext is to encourage a repeat of the same bait-and-switch tactics that took the Republicans by surprise at the last minute in the House.

    WASHINGTON - A political storm gathered yesterday over efforts to restrict coverage for abortion in the health-care overhaul, threatening to swamp Democrats' efforts to pass President Obama's signature legislative initiative by year's end.

    As the Senate takes up its version of the legislation, abortion opponents there are seeking tougher curbs at least in line with those just approved in the House.

    Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said yesterday he could not support a bill unless it clearly prohibited federal dollars from going to pay for abortions. He said he was weighing options, including an amendment similar to the one passed by the House over the weekend.

    "I want to make sure something comparable . . . is in there," Nelson said.

    The House restrictions, offered in an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), were the price that Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who supports abortion rights - paid to get a health-care bill passed, on a narrow 220-215 vote.

    But it has prompted a backlash from liberals at the core of her party.

    Abortion-rights supporters in the House were circulating a letter addressed to Pelosi, threatening to vote against a final bill that restricts access to abortion coverage. At least 40 lawmakers had signed on by early yesterday - enough to block passage.

    Notice that the debate has shifted focus -- from one on whether there should be government health care to whether abortion should be included. I now expect a flurry of manipulative amendments back and forth -- the hope being that the focus on abortion will cause people (both legislators and the general public) to forget what used to be the issue.

    I have to say, I never would have imagined that just as the Democrats were poised to ruin the health care system and destroy a huge chunk of the free market, the debate would be over abortion.

    If the Republicans (supposedly the party of fiscal restraint and small government) cannot see how turning this into an abortion debate will help get the bill passed, I don't think there's much hope for them.

    posted by Eric at 09:22 AM | Comments (4)




    Don Manzullo is 100% On Abortion

    In a previous post I was discussing the tension between social conservatism and fiscal conservatism in social conservatives. So I of course I needed to see how my congressman Don Manzullo voted on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which prohibits federal funding of abortion and federal subsidies for insurance coverage of abortion. My Cong. Critter did good. He voted the NRLC way and thus helped to get anti-abortion Democrat votes for the Health Care Destruction bill which passed the House.

    Way to go Don. And I used to like you. I might as well be voting for a Democrat or a Libertarian.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)



    Denial is powerful!
    And we may never know why the Wall fell!

    I can't believe it's been twenty years since the Wall came tumbling down. The Berlin Wall that is. I was born in 1954, at the height of the Cold War, and I remember when the wall went up. I was seven, and it happened at about the same time as Nikita Khrushchev's infamous shoe banging at the UN. The wall, of course, was heavily fortified and designed to stay up, and along with everyone else I assumed it would never come down in my lifetime. People were willing to do almost anything to get across it, I remember stories about mothers throwing babies over it so they could grow up in freedom. And I remember sitting with my father (who was dying) and watching it fall. He had watched the rise of Bolshevism as a boy, served in World War II and its aftermath, and could not believe he had actually lived to see such a thing happen.

    The Communists' policy (denied, of course) had long been to shoot anyone caught attempting to escape:

    "Don't hesitate to use your weapon even when border breaches happen with women and children, which traitors have often exploited in the past."
    Denial is a great weapon, and not only did it help the Communist killing machine, it's the main reason that Communism has never been addressed properly. That's because denial is contagious. It promotes silence.

    Which is why I decided to write this post, even though I don't have anything new or profound to add. I feel strongly about this, and dutiful, perhaps, but I don't feel creative. Sorry. (How many times and in how many ways can I say that Communism is the most murderous system known to man? Or that it hasn't been properly addressed?) If you want something more creative, I suggest pieces like this:

    "Twenty years later, we still haven't come to terms with the scope of our deliverance."
    He's right, and so is Glenn, who responds,
    That's because many of our opinion-leaders don't regard it as deliverance at all.
    No they don't, and I think it's because of the power of denial.

    The Communists tried to deny their murderous policies (about the wall, and about almost everything else their propaganda machine deemed in need of denying). Lefties here were prone to echo the official Communist Party line, which was not to deny the wall's existence, but to deny that border crossers were targeted, and incredibly, to claim with a straight face that the wall was built to keep Westerners from coming in. I knew people who said this. But then, I was living in Berkeley, a city whose officials "celebrated the anniversary of the Berlin Wall--on the eastern side--while it was still standing." And now we have a president who apparently believes the Russians ended the Cold War -- despite Reagan.

    And who says we shouldn't rush to judgment about stuff.

    In his reaction to the horror at Fort Hood, Obama, in detached fashion, urged Americans not to rush to judgment about the motives of the killer Major Nidal Malik Hasan -- despite immediate reports that Hasan had screamed out "Allahu Akabar," as well as been known to post on the Internet inflammatory anti-American, and radical Islamic messages. Each day more incriminating information is released about a clear past record of inflammatory hate speech directed at the U.S. military.
    Rushing to judgment is for the "teabag people." For those of us who belong to the smart set, just as "we may never know if religion was a factor at Fort Hood," we may never know why the Berlin Wall went up, or whether Reagan was a factor in bringing it down.

    Seeing things that are painfully obvious (that Communism is bad, or that a terrorist murdered American soldiers) is the province of the stupid, the little people, the "teabag" people.

    It takes brains to be in denial.

    That's what makes it so powerful.

    posted by Eric at 07:33 PM | Comments (4)



    Fiscally Conservative Or Anti-Abortion

    Eric at Classical Values has several posts up on how anti-abortion Republicans greased the way for passage of the health care bill in the House. You can read them at anti-abortion RINOs? Is there such a species? and The best way to keep something out of a government program? No program! and Federal crackdown leads to new improved fake penises!.

    I have a few words to add - not because I can say it any better than Eric. I can't. I just want to vent. So where to start? Well it all starts with the anti-abortion lobby. The National Right to Life Committee. Now these people keep a list. And none of them will be missed. (I like the Groucho Marx version). Well what kind of lists? Lists on how every Congress Critter votes on every abortion issue. You can see the real friendly threatening letter NRLC sent to the House Tools. So let me explain the ins and outs. There was a provision in the bill mandating Federal Funding for abortion. If this had stayed in the bill there would not have been enough votes for the Health and Economy Destruction bill to pass. So of course with NRLC prodding the anti-abortion Ds and Rs get together (they have a majority) and take the Federal Funding of Abortion feature out of the bill and it is now clean enough to pass. And guess what abortion foes? The abortion feature can be air dropped in during reconciliation. Suckers.

    All because of some Congress Critters being more afraid of the anti-abortion lobby than of the fiscal conservative lobby.

    All for a crime that in all my and Eric's recent discussions of the abortion question, Defeating Libertarian Logic and No Man Can? and The Hobgoblin Of Little Minds, most anti abortion folks think should have a punishment roughly equivalent to misdemeanor manslaughter for the doctor. And the woman (the initiator and accomplice) goes free. Seriously? You want to create a black market for this? I get it Republican Socialism. Price supports for criminals. I suppose they are under represented and there does seem to be a certain affinity between politicians and criminals. So there is that.

    The Republicans are the anti-abortion Party and that takes priority over everything else. Which says social conservatives are reverting to their Progressive roots. I have been hearing in my conversations around the 'net that Social Conservatives are the only reliable economic conservatives every time I voice a complaint about socon's real ambitions. I guess I was right. Socons are NOT reliable economic conservatives. But if you need a vote against abortion well they are 100% reliable.

    Perhaps a little work on them with a LARGE size Ream and Clean™ will get them to see things in a different light.

    Because I'm beyond disgusted.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:27 PM | Comments (8)



    Federal crackdown leads to new improved fake penises!

    To the anti-abortion lobby, Congressman Bart Stupak is a hero right now. But to those who oppose government health care, he's anything but a hero, because his anti-abortion amendment is what saved the day for the Pelosi bill. While at least one anti-abortion conservative blogger warned that Stupak (a supporter of government health care) was "engaged in political posturing," none of the Republicans appear to have listened.

    Stupak also happens to be a staunch supporter of government urine testing, and was much in the news a few years ago when he launched a crusade against an evil device called the Whizzinator.

    Here's a picture of Stupak, shown "bemoaning the ease with which people can buy Whizzinators with credit cards, money orders or checks, and have them delivered by U.S. mail or UPS or FedEx."

    stupakwhiz.jpg

    For those who might have forgotten, the Whizzinator is a prosthetic penis with an attached reservoir, all fitted inside a pouch designed to look like underwear. I've posted about it before, and I suggested numerous other uses for the device in case the feds tried to make it illegal.

  • 1. To help pee-shy men pee in public places;
  • 2. To help a variety of men and women achieve the fulfillment of their sexual fantasies, by helping them overcome sexual pee-shyness.
  • 3. To help women make a political statement by challenging the traditionalist view that they are incapable of using urinals.
  • 4. As a teaching aid for parents and teachers.
  • 5. As a way of protesting the nation's ever encroaching drug laws by deliberately making a mockery of them -- especially by drug free citizens with clean urine.
  • 6. As a constitutionally protected penis parody device. (It should be noted that political parody and mockery are protected by the First Amendment.)
  • I don't know whether it was a byproduct of of the Stupak Whizzinator hearings, but a federal program -- called "Operation True Test" -- was launched (no, I am not making this up), and the manufacturers of the Whizzinator were prosecuted:
    U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan's office filed criminal charges Tuesday against Gerald W. Wills and Robert Dennis Catalano, and their Signal Hill, Calif., company Puck Technology Inc.

    Prosecutors contend the men defrauded the government and conspired to sell drug paraphernalia by hawking products called the "Whizzinator" and "Number 1."

    The Whizzinator contains a fake penis, bladder and athletic supporter designed for men to simulate urination. The Number 1 contains a tube connected to a reservoir tucked inside a waistband and can be used by men or women.

    The defendants later pleaded guilty, and according to the Justice Department, were scheduled to be sentenced in February:
    Judge David Cercone scheduled sentencing for Wills and Catalano on February 20, 2009, at 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of eight (8) years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both, for each defendant. The Judge scheduled sentencing for Puck Technology, Inc. on February 20, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. The law provides a maximum total sentence of ten years' probation and a fine of $1,000,000 for the company. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
    No idea what sentence they got, but eight years for selling fake penises?

    Imagine having to explain that to fellow convicts.

    Anyway, it seems that I wasn't the only one who saw the Whizzinator's remarketing possibilities. While most people think that sexualization of urine is a rather disgusting thing (I don't think it's even sex, but obviously some people do), the artificial simulation of what is called "water sports" is not only not illegal, but it's probably safer than doing the real thing.

    So they have rebadged the Whizzinator as a sex toy, and you can still buy it at places like this, where the product now features the following prominent warning:

    THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED FOR DRUG TESTS OR OTHER ILLEGAL USE. PLEASE FOLLOW ALL APPLICABLE STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS WHEN USING THIS PRODUCT.
    I will never use that product in violation of federal law.

    BTW, in case anyone was worried, I thought I should reassure readers that there's nothing gay about the Whizzinator.

    Why, there's even a girl on the package!

    New-Whizzinator-w.jpg

    Thanks to the federal government's hard work of preserving the sanctity of our precious bodily fluids, there is a now a Whizzinator workaround. But it didn't come easy. They had to resort to a loophole that has not yet been closed -- the fake penis loophole!

    How long will we allow fake penises?

    (Anyone who thinks that last sentence is a pun has a filthy mind.)

    posted by Eric at 11:17 AM | Comments (5)



    The best way to keep something out of a government program? No program!

    With the House hurdle out of the way, government health care has inched closer to being a reality than ever before. Hopefully, it will be stopped in the Senate, if the Republicans there don't make the same mistake they made in the House and help facilitate its passage by "sweetener" amendments.

    As I explained in the previous post, defeating government health care in its entirety would stop abortions within government health care.

    If the idea is to prevent tax dollars from funding things they don't like, then don't enable a program in the first place! It's like federally-funded filthy art in the NEA. If there was no NEA, the taxpayers wouldn't be paying for filthy art or any other art.

    But this touches on an irony that the anti-abortion people forget. If the health care bill passes and government takes over health care, the anti-abortion regulations could be removed by means of another bill.

    Which means that the Republicans have now made taxpayer-funded abortions more and not less likely.

    posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (2)



    Joe Is Going To Smoke Them Out

    Senator Joe Lieberman has a few questions about the Fort Hood attack.

    Sen. Joe Lieberman's call for the investigation came as word surfaced that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there. Whether Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, associated with the hijackers is something the FBI will probably look into, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

    Classmates participating in a 2007-2008 master's program at a military college complained repeatedly to superiors about what they considered Hasan's anti-American views. Dr. Val Finnell said Hasan gave a presentation at the Uniformed Services University that justified suicide bombing and told classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

    Another classmate said he complained to five officers and two civilian faculty members at the university. He wrote in a command climate survey sent to Pentagon officials that fear in the military of being seen as politically incorrect prevented an "intellectually honest discussion of Islamic ideology" in the ranks. The classmate also requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

    Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack.

    This story has been all over the 'net if you hang out at the right places. Evidently Joe is paying attention. You know, he is a lot more Republican than he seems. And as a member of the majority caucus he has clout and gets attention. And chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, woo hoo.

    It may just be that the Reality Based Community will be forced to face reality. I wonder if there will be enough Muslim psychiatrists to attend to their anticipated needs?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:18 AM | Comments (4)




    anti-abortion RINOs? Is there such a species?

    As I've said before, abortion is not "my" issue. I don't discuss it much, perhaps because I don't like getting into the usual hopeless, useless arguments which persuade no one and mainly inflame passions. More than almost any issue, discussion of the abortion issue is limited mainly to pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists and single issue thinkers on each side. I have noticed that many small government conservatives who don't want to imprison people for abortion -- and many libertarian-oriented conservatives -- tend to leave the issue alone because it's a no-win and they want unity, and I would count myself among them. You could call it a form of cowardice, I guess.

    But I have to say something in my defense: in all my years on the planet I have never once seen anyone's position changed from what we call "pro-life" to what we call "pro-choice" -- or vice versa -- as the result of an argument. (I have, however, seen pro-choice people become more set in their ways as a result of having bloody fetus pictures waved in their face....)

    If I wrote this blog alone, then a news item I saw today might have made me think that I've been asleep at the wheel. However, unlike me, M. Simon has recently and repeatedly -- both here and at other sites -- been discussing abortion, tackling much criticism in the comments by pointing out inconsistencies in the thinking of anti-abortion conservatives. I thought of his posts yesterday when I received an email from the American Family Association Traditional Values Coalition containing a long screed with this headline --

    Democrats' Health Care Bill Contains Taxpayer-Funded Abortions
    Call Your Congressman Now and Tell Them to Vote No Today!

    I think stopping socialized health care is more important than stopping government-funded abortions, and the former subsumes the latter, right? So, if the overall bill were to be stopped, so would any "abortions" it might pay for. And if we assume that the TVC is a conservative (and Republican) outfit, then their people would have already been against the bill, so why get into the minutiae? If the bill is an atrocity, and you take something that some people find obnoxious out, doesn't that make the bill more likely to pass? So my concern over the email (which I forwarded to Simon) was this:

    Might this mean that if the abortions are aborted from the bill, the socons will be OK with supporting it?
    I thought I was just being paranoid, of course, because when I sat down and thought about it, I realized that no one in his right mind would only be against socialized medicine if it excepted socialized abortions.

    So I put it out of my mind.

    Until, that is, I saw this morning's news. Not only did the bill pass, it had conservative help! Not from the usual sellout big government Republicans that get called RINOs these days, but from social conservatives.

    In the run-up to a final vote, conservatives from the two political parties joined forces to impose tough new restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance policies to be sold to many individuals and small groups. They prevailed on a roll call of 240-194.

    Ironically, that only solidified support for the legislation, clearing the way for conservative Democrats to vote for it.

    In other words, the TVC and the social conservatives helped facilitate the passage of this monstrosity. (Thanks guys.)

    I have a brief question for those who like to use the term "RINO" to deride their fellow Republicans for not passing the abortion litmus test.

    Who are the RINOs now?

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Arthur Silber looks at the Tea Party movement, and says this:

    In periods of general social dislocation, upheaval and turmoil, possibilities for coalition-building appear that may not exist in other times. We are living through such a period today in many ways.
    One such coalition was the touch-and-go alliance the Republicans had with Blue Dog Democrats against the health care bill.

    Also via Glenn Reynolds, a list of Blue Dogs who ended up voting for the bill, described thusly:

    28 out of 52 congressional members of the "blue dog coalition" supported the Pelosi/Obama bill which will raise our taxes, destroy Capitalism, give the government more control of our lives, is in complete violation of the Constitution, will raise costs, and add trillions to the deficit. It will force us onto government run health care, will guarantee people something they have no right to, will instate death panels, will force jail time if you want freedom, and is the end of America as we know it.
    Why would any Republican help make it easier for Blue Dogs to vote for a bill so many of them had been against?

    In politics it's always important to build a coalition, but here I thought the issue had been stopping the health care bill, not making it more palatable to anti-abortion activists.

    MORE: The more I read about this, the more I'm convinced that what made the health care bill pass was an anti-abortion coalition:

    Though heavy debate had taken place on Friday, it wasn't until an amendment was proposed by Representative Bart Stupak, a Devout Catholic, that headway was made. The amendment is known as the Stupak/Pitts amendment and was supported by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Pro life activists nationwide are hailing Congressman Bart Stupak as a hero.

    A vote was taken to back the abortion ban and passed 240-194. The health care bill passed the house last night with a 220-215 vote. Though many liberal democrats were angered by the anti abortion amendment to the bill, many moderate democrats had made it clear that they would not support the bill should it include an option for federal subsidized abortion.

    In other words, had the anti-abortion amendment not been added, the bill would not have passed.

    Yet not one Republican voted against the amendment which would have stopped the bill. "Sixty-four Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for this amendment." (See also "Abortion Was at Heart of Wrangling.")

    Got that?

    A Republican-supported amendment assured the bill's passage.

    MORE: I have to assume that the Republicans who unanimously voted for the provision that enabled the health care bill's passage understood the consequences of their vote.

    But for the life of me, I cannot understand why. Is the anti-abortion litmus test more important than stopping socialism?

    AND MORE: The evidence has become overwhelming that the anti-abortion amendment is what made the bill pass:

    Late last night the amendment passed 240 to 194. And Democrats acknowledged that without it, the health care bill faced defeat.

    "I was part of recommending that it come to the floor," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

    Yes, but Nancy had help. Without the Republicans, her bill would have been defeated.

    CORRECTION: I confused the Traditional Values Coalition with the American Family Association. I get email from both and this one was from the TVC. I have not checked the AFA's position on the abortion amendment, although I would be very surprised if they did not support it.

    The bottom line is that this bill could have been stopped. By Republicans.

    posted by Eric at 09:42 AM | Comments (18)




    Not to worry! The president promised!

    When Barack Obama was campaigning against Hillary Clinton, he repeatedly promised that his health insurance plan would not be compulsory, and stated that this was one of the important differences between him and Hillary Clinton.

    "Watch the whole video for Obama's impassioned criticisms of plans which mandate that people purchase health insurance under threat of fine."

    This was not a minor disagreement. In fact, things got so bad that Barack Obama sent out this scary leaflet, with the following warning:

    Hillary's health care plan forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can't afford it.

    HCleaflet.jpg

    Hillary then responded with a withering "SHAME ON YOU!" broadside, bitterly and angrily accusing Barack Obama of betraying "core Democratic principles" and "undermining core Democratic values," and acting like Karl Rove!

    And watching it all brings back reassuring memories of the nice, reasonable Barack Obama, a man who repeatedly said he would not force Americans to buy health insurance.

    I had almost forgotten about these campaign promises, and I'm so relieved, because now I can assume we don't need to worry about the Democrats' health care plan which would make it a serious federal crime, punishable with imprisonment of up to five years, to not have health insurance:

    Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain "acceptable health insurance coverage" and who choose not to pay the bill's new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

    In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: "This is the ultimate example of the Democrats' command-and-control style of governing - buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately."

    Yes, it certainly is outrageous.

    And in light of his campaign promises, naturally the president will do everything he can to stop it immediately, and if it passes, he'll promptly veto it.

    I guess I shouldn't have been worried after all.

    posted by Eric at 05:27 PM | Comments (5)



    Space Elevator Crawls Forward

    A crawler team wins $900,000.

    As I recall, braided carbon nanutube cables may be strong enough to make the idea work. A space elevator is a game-changer because it makes putting things in orbit an order of magnitude cheaper. That would mean we could think seriously about manned exploration of the Solar System or a lunar colony.

    posted by Dave at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)



    More on Hasan

    Yes, this attack was a case of Muslim extremism:

    A former classmate has said Hasan was a "vociferous opponent of the war" and "viewed the war against terror" as a "war against Islam." Dr. Val Finnell, who attended a master's in public health program in 2007-2008 at Uniformed Services University with Hasan, said he told classmates he was "a Muslim first and an American second."

    And yes, this should have been caught earlier:
    "In retrospect, I'm not surprised he did it," Finnell said. "I had real questions about what his priorities were, what his beliefs were."

    More details at HotAir.

    Muslims need to be especially careful with these kinds of people. Christian extremists generally become radical pacifists (Quakers, Amish) or engage in mass suicide (Jonestown, Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate). Muslim extremists tend to be violent chauvinists, whether here, in Iraq, in Iran, or in Afghanistan, and they can get a lot of innocent people killed if the saner people around them don't control their delusions.

    And we really shouldn't validate and encourage this kind of behavior out of cowardice.

    "Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit ... but my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie."
    posted by Dave at 02:43 PM | Comments (6)



    At least Teabagging won't give you anal poisoning!

    Anyone remember the good old days when the political world was divided into wingnuts and moonbats?

    Whether it was a more civil world, at least it was a cleaner one. Nowadays, to get their point across, political ideologues increasingly resort to sexualized insults -- the raunchier the better! At the highest levels of government, Tea Party activists are routinely referred to as "Teabaggers" -- a sexual term which would be considered homophobic if it were directed against gay activists, but the use of gay sex slurs against conservatives is considered fine because it is supposed to show them to be "hypocrites." How that works, I don't know. I went to a Tea Party rally, so presumably this would make me a "teabagger" in leftie parlance. What I can't figure out is how I'm supposed to feel chagrined because people like Maxine Waters and Keith Olbermann would insinuate that about my sexual practices.

    Olbermann BTW, is also keeping a very careful count of the number of times that Rush Limbaugh has used the expression "anal poisoning" to characterize the diseases that liberals might suffer when they engage in too much of what used to be called "ass kissing" or "brown nosing."

    "13 times in two years!" Olbermann fumes authoritatively.

    Well gag me with a fork! (If the fork hasn't been superseded by other things that might gag....) There used to be a term for guys who kept such meticulous accounts.

    Anal retentive.

    And being anally retentive can lead to severe constipation, which can lead to -- guess what -- fatal anal poisoning!

    The body must eliminate stool in a timely manner in order to remove toxins and harmful bacteria. If no constipation remedy is found, then the harmful bacteria and toxins present in the feces will be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. At first, this merely strains the immune system and causes minor cellular damage. However, the bacteria levels will continue to climb until they cause a massive body-wide infection known as septicemia. Septicemia can lead to death unless treated with antibiotics.
    So Olbermann ought to be careful. Because someone else suffering from his form of anal retentiveness might come along and count the number of times he has said "anal poisoning," and if it's considered a serious matter for Rush to have said it 13 times in two years, that's a rate of about six times a year, which is once every other month -- a rate Olbermann has already exceeded in a single program.

    Now, I don't watch television programs, least of all Olbermann's, so don't expect me to turn him on and sit there with a clicker and click it every time he says "anal poisoning." But I think it's worth asking which of the following is more anally obsessive:

  • making six "anal poisoning" wisecracks a year? or
  • counting the number of "anal poisoning" wisecracks someone else makes in a year
  • Sooner or later, someone really ought to do an Olbermann anal count to see how "impacted" he might be.

    I won't, because I'm just too impatient.

    Besides, I'd feel dirty if I did.

    posted by Eric at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)



    The Hobgoblin Of Little Minds

    Eric and I have been having some fun with human logic over at Classical Values. I started it with Defeating Libertarian Logic and then Eric chimed in with No Man Can?

    So I have been getting all logical with my anti-abortion friends. Well I don't like it either. I just don't think it is a good place for government to be poking its nose. But for the sake of argument, and I love an argument, let me grant all the rabidly anti-abortion folk's premises and see where it leads.

    Abortion is murder. Well that is obvious.

    So what kind of murder is it? Murder one of course since it is planned and premeditated.

    The penalties for murder one go right up to the death penalty depending on aggravating circumstances. Like was a lot of pain inflicted during the commission of the crime?

    Well they are on about how the embryo screams during its demise so obviously a death penalty offense. And obviously the woman involved is an accomplice so by the logic of murder she would be subject to the same penalties as the doctor.

    There is no statute of limitations on murder. So there are 20 million or so women we need to find and gas. Or inject. Or hang. We can start combing the medical records.

    No. No. No. They say. We can't do that. It would be grotesque. So they come up with a penalty that is more akin to misdemeanor manslaughter. And the woman goes free.

    So I say: it is not a very serious crime then even if we make it a crime.

    No. No. No. No. It is very serious. You don't understand. It is not about strict logic. It is how we feel.

    Well that was what I thought all along.

    So what is your beef with those who feel differently? Uhhhhhhhhhhh.......

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:37 AM | Comments (23)



    no man can?

    I loved M. Simon's quotation from Emerson. So much so that despite Emerson's warning against quotes -- a quote infamously violated by William Safire -- I wanted to quote the rest of the paragraph .

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. -- 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' -- Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

    I suppose no man can violate his nature.....

    Have to stop somewhere, I suppose, so I stopped at the violation of my nature.

    I'd hate to get into a losing war over whether I can violate my nature lest I start wondering whether my nature is natural, only to be swept away into a meaningless logical spiral of what is "mine" and what is "natural."

    But if I can't violate my nature, can't I at least violate other people's natures?

    I mean, whose nature is this anyway?

    If I violate other people's views of what my nature should be, can't I just say I was violating my nature and cite them as authorities? I don't like the idea of living with a nature that I can't violate, so those who know my nature better tell me what to do. Frankly, I'm jealous of those who know, but because I hate my foolish inconsistencies, I'll never admit it.

    Perhaps I should learn to be more tolerant, and let them violate my nature!

    posted by Eric at 10:40 AM | Comments (2)




    Defeating Libertarian Logic

    You have met them. Those oh so logical Libertarians where every acceptable thought has to be a verified part of a system. They have to tie themselves in logical knots to come to the proper logical conclusion.

    Ralph has a few words about that.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,

    adored by little statesmen and philosophers

    and divines.

    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Now that I'm a Republican I no longer have to compromise my logic to come to a predetermined conclusion. What a relief.

    Well any way - we are neural computers, not digital logic machines. Correlation machines not computing machines (generally). Our reasoning for the most part is different. Einstein didn't compute all the partial derivatives when he wanted to pick up a glass of water.

    And you can quote me on that.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:54 PM | Comments (14)



    Female Shoots Jihadi

    Yes indeed. A female police officer, Sgt. Kimberly Munley, put an end to jihadi Nidal Malik Hasan's murderous rampage at Fort Hood.

    A female civilian police officer is being hailed as a hero in the aftermath of a gunman's rampage at Fort Hood -- an outbreak of violence that the officer is credited with ending by shooting the alleged gunman four times despite being shot herself.

    The attack killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at the Texas military post, but the carnage ended there, thanks to the quick response of Fort Hood Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley.

    Munley and her partner responded within three minutes of reports of gunfire on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Bob Cone said Friday. Authorities say Munley, 34, exchanged fire with the gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who remains comatose in a Texas hospital. Munley is in stable condition, officials said.

    "It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer," Cone said.

    Yes it was. And I'm sure it had to gall the jihadi to be taken down by one of our ladies. You don't mess with American women.

    Which reminds me of Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester who together with Sgt. Timothy F. Nein charged an ambush by at least 34 men in Iraq. The final count for the enemy was 27 dead, six wounded, and one captured.

    Don't f*** with our women you jihadi bastards. Because they will shoot your ass. And if you are sufficiently unlucky you will get bagged. Body bagged.

    I married a sturdy Midwest girl. She likes guns. A true credit to her gender.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:28 PM | Comments (5)



    Libertarian Republican Election News

    Libertarian Republican has some excellent news for Constitutional Republicans. You know, small government, low spending.

    I'm just going to give short excerpts. Follow the links for details.

    Republicans sweep Westchester County, New York on Anti-Tax message

    Voters ousted Democratic supervisors in Yorktown and Lewisboro and elected GOP majorities in both towns, as they did in North Castle, North Salem and Somers. A 24-year-old Republican even cracked the all-Democratic Ossining Town Board.

    As one specific example, Yorktown shifted from a Town Board of 4-1Democrat to 3-2 Republican.

    The issues that caused the stunning GOP Wins? Taxes and the Economy.

    And what about that Libertarian thing?
    Democrat elected officials have become such a pariah in this heavily Blue New York City suburb that one Democrat even got beat by a Libertarian.
    Heh.

    And there is more. Libertarian "RINO" wins County Council seat in Erie, Pennsylvania.

    Total of 8 Libertarian Victories throughout Pennsylvania

    Bill Beeman is a former Libertarian Party member. He recently switched parties to Republican, and became the non-establishment GOP nominee for County Council District 6 in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was staunchly opposed by the local establishment.

    Libertarian Republican goes on to discuss the other seven wins. Follow the link.

    Maybe this has something to do with my suggestion that Republicans need a rebranding campaign.

    Smaller government and lower spending.

    And this time we really mean it.

    We are coming to get you elected bastards who think you are our masters. This is America you sons of bitches and the People Are The Masters. You are our servants. Get it mofos?

    I was listening to Song Of The Warrior when I wrote this. Can you tell?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:50 PM | Comments (1)



    Song Of The Warrior

    This is in honor of the fallen at Fort Hood and for the wounded who will need our ongoing help. Here is one way to help:

    Project Valour-IT helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries. Items supplied include:

    # Voice-controlled Laptops - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
    # Wii Video Game Systems - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).
    # Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

    Another place to donate: The Warrior Song

    For those of you who want to sing along: The Warrior Song lyrics

    H/T IMAO

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)



    Madison versus Hoyer (with sources!)

    From Veeshir (who has left so many helpful comments here that I treat an email from him like a homework assignment), my attention was directed to a perfect -- perfectly dreadful that is -- example of the contempt some of our highest elected officials have for the Constitution:

    James O'Connor, Burris's communications director, later told CNSNews.com that although the word "health" does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, the senator was referring to the Preamble of the Constitution which says the following:

    "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
    The Preamble to the Constitution is introductory in nature, and has nothing to do with defining the limited powers which are granted to the federal government. While promoting the general welfare is a purpose, as is securing the blessings of liberty, the way these things are intended to be accomplished is by ensuring limitations on government which the Constitution spells out.

    But don't trust me. Here's what constitutional author James Madison had to say:

    If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. (James Madison, Letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792 Madison 1865, I, page 546)
    If anything can be done in the name of "promoting the General Welfare," then why bother enumerating the powers of the federal government? And why stress the government's limitations in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments?

    As Walter Williams pointed out not long ago, Madison later added this:

    "With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
    Ditto, Thomas Jefferson:
    "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."


    Opined Veeshir,
    I know it's just Burris now, but it'll spread.
    And when you try to show them those comments you showed me when I (facetiously) said that, you'll be ignored.

    If they can deny that there's a right to bear arms while simultaneously saying that there is a right to abortion, they can do anything with that document.
    Veeshir also linked this atrocity from Steny Hoyer
    [Hoyer] added that Congress has "broad authority" to force Americans to purchase other things as well, so long as it was trying to promote "the general welfare."
    How do people like Hoyer get and stay elected? The man is simply wrong, wrong, wrong. And not just wrong, he's shockingly wrong.

    Either the man has no idea what the Constitution or federalism means or else he's a demagogue.

    Quite incidentally, in the course of looking up Madison quotes, I found another very specific warning from Madison, quoted by a reliable commenter to an Ed Morrissey post:

    "If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."
    While that purports to be a quote from Federalist #41, the words do not appear in the text of Federalist 41 that the commenter linked and claimed to be quoting! Nor could I find it in this version of Federalist 41. That does not mean that Madison didn't say it, though; only that it doesn't appear to be where it's proponents say it is.

    Sorry if I sound like a crank, but here's the problem. I loved reading the above purported quote from Madison, and I'd love nothing more than to be able to cite it, as it sounds as if it was specifically written to rebut the noxious position of Steny Hoyer. I hate to be a spoilsport, but if I am unable to find it at the source* provided, I really can't cite it in good faith. This should not be a game of stuffing words in your favorite founder's mouth and then citing them because you like them. Yet the above is all over the Internet, attributed to Federalist 41. Or else simply quoted without a source, as it is here. That prompted this very reasonable comment:

    Where is this quote from? When did he say/where did he write this?
    To which the "Editor, Liberty Quotes" replies,
    Madison is referring to a bill to subsidize cod fisherman introduced in the first year of the new Congress
    http://www.barefootsworld.net/nortonuc12.html
    OK, so now it's a quote about a cod fishing bounty. But that's not Federalist 41. Instead, the quote is said to be taken from a book by Thomas James Norton, and the book is quoted here and here. That wasn't quite not quite good enough for me, because I was already burned by the Federalist 41 citation, so I looked further. Finally, I found the entire quote -- in the text of a House debate "On the Cod Fishery Bill, granting Bounties."

    Anyway, it's not Federalist 41, but I'm delighted to help do my part to save it from the fate of unsourced or badly sourced quotes. Why would anyone need to that, when what Madison did say in Federalist 41 is more than adequate to rebut Steny Hoyer?

    It has been urged and echoed, that the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States," amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

    Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare."

    But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.

    The objection here is the more extraordinary, as it appears that the language used by the convention is a copy from the articles of Confederation. The objects of the Union among the States, as described in article third, are "their common defense, security of their liberties, and mutual and general welfare." The terms of article eighth are still more identical: "All charges of war and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury," etc. A similar language again occurs in article ninth. Construe either of these articles by the rules which would justify the construction put on the new Constitution, and they vest in the existing Congress a power to legislate in all cases whatsoever. But what would have been thought of that assembly, if, attaching themselves to these general expressions, and disregarding the specifications which ascertain and limit their import, they had exercised an unlimited power of providing for the common defense and general welfare?

    It's been a bit of a chore, but the bottom line is that Steny Hoyer stands refuted. By constitutional author James Madison. (Not that a little thing like being refuted would matter to someone like that, but still...)

    * By the way, it's always a good idea to beware of unsourced Madison quotes, of which there are many floating about. The general rule has long been that the burden is on whoever does the quoting to come up with a verifiable source. Repetition on the Internet is not proof of anything.

    posted by Eric at 12:15 PM | Comments (7)



    Obamanomics 101

    So, the true 10-year cost of Obamacare is... $1.8 trillion.

    A trillion in new taxes, $800B in new deficit spending (oh, excuse me, I mean "imaginary Medicare cuts that will never happen"). And the next ten years are going to be even worse.

    It's like 1938 all over again...

    posted by Dave at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)



    America's dysfunctional relationship with radical Wahhabism

    Linking my earlier post about the Fort Hood shooting, M. Simon quoted what I said about the shooter's imam:

    Hasan's imam Faizul Khan is no ordinary imam. He is on the Board of Directors of the ISNA, a radical Wahhabi outfit which "enforces extremist Wahhabi theological writ in America's mosques.
    Such people and their murderous ideology are a huge problem in this country -- and the biggest reason is our friendship with -- and dependence on -- Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest sponsor of radical Wahhabism. I am sick to death of Saudi influence and creeping Wahhabism paid for with our petrodollars, and have been for years. Sometimes when I fill my tank I wonder whether it would be better to patronize only the companies that don't buy Saudi oil, but then I'd be giving the money to Hugo Chavez. Seriously, our dysfunctional relationship with the Saudis is so odious that after a massacre like yesterday's, I'm tempted to scream "NO BLOOD FOR OIL!"

    Anyway, I am sure that Simon's reaction to what I said would be shared by a lot of people:

    The Whabists need to be expelled from America. Whether they are native born or foreign born.

    Radical Islam is not a religion. It is a traitorous political party masquerading as a religion and should be treated as such.

    Under our Constitution, though, citizens cannot be expelled from America for their opinions. Not even citizens who agree with radical Wahhabism. I say this as someone who lived for years around the corner from a Saudi-funded madrassa. Much as I disliked having people who subscribed to this poison in my neighborhood, had any native born Americans among them been rounded up and deported I would have been right there on the front lines with the ACLU, because if one administration can round up Americans for being Wahhabists, what's to stop another from rounding them up for being "radical rightists"? Or infidels? However, if Americans belong to enemy organizations, they can be made to register as foreign agents and put under surveillance, just as Communist Party members once were.

    At the very least, it seems like a no-brainer they should not be given positions as officers in the military for God's sake.

    But that latter is up to the Commander in Chief, isn't it?

    Hmmm....

    Perhaps someone should ask the president why the military he commands says no to gays and yes to radical Wahhabists.

    MORE: Ralph Peters excoriates the total inability of the president, the media, or military to call Hasan's act what it is -- terrorism -- and offers a grim prediction:

    I guarantee you that the Obama administration's non-response to the Ft. Hood attack will mock the memory of our dead.
    Read it all.

    And Ann Althouse wants to know how this man was allowed to become an Army psychiatrist:

    I want to know why what was wrong with Hasan was not detected? Was he given a pass because he was Muslim? Is there a fear of suspecting or offending Muslims in the military that keeps people who should see signs of dysfunction from acknowledging what they see or doing anything about it? On the other hand, if it really is the case that people in the military are harassing Muslims, that too should not be ignored. There should be rigorous equality for Muslims. It shouldn't even be necessary to point out what is obvious: Muslims in the military shouldn't experience special treatment either of a positive or a negative kind.
    Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links an NPR segment demonstrating that Hasan was no ordinary Muslim.
    He talked about how if you're a nonbeliever the Koran says you should have your head cut off, you should have oil poured down your throat, you should be set on fire.
    The fact that a nutcase like that was made a Major in the United States Army and entrusted to to deal with soldiers' mental problems ought to outrage people even if he hadn't committed mass murder. I'm with Ralph Peters on this one:
    Now 12 soldiers and a security guard lie dead. 31 soldiers were wounded, 28 of them seriously. If heads don't roll in this maggot's chain of command, the Army will have shamed itself beyond moral redemption.

    MORE: ShrinkWrapped (who is a psychoanalyst) takes a critical look at the Islamic terrorist from from a psychiatric point of view, and warns that reacting in a P.C. manner only aggravates the situation:

    When the immediate reaction of Islamic spokesmen is to warn everyone of Islamophobia, they too are supporting the projection and externalization that is the hallmark of radical Islam and the "lone, psychiatrically deranged" paranoid.

    Every effort should be made to resolutely maintain a posture that specifically and emphatically denies the use of projection and externalization to the radical Islamists. Groups like CAIR should be confronted by our MSM and government on a regular basis to expose their use of such psychological processes for all to see. Whenever a "lone, psychiatrically deranged" individual commits an atrocity, we must be alert to attempts to shift the psychological impetus for the attack from the attacker to the surround. It is an unhappy reality that confronting a paranoid's projection and externalization does not work in a therapeutic context. It either convinces the paranoid that you are part of the persecutory conspiracy or, if accepted and internalized, leads to significant depression. However, we cannot treat terror as a therapeutic situation. When Muslims support, in their speech and writing, convictions that reflect the use of projection and externalization, they must be considered potential dangers to the community. This requires a form of "racial profiling" but the alternative is to wait for an atrocity of such significant proportions that "lone, psychiatrically deranged" non-Muslims begin to take things into their own hands.

    I'd also like to know whether Hasan fits the profile common to many young Muslims in Europe whose parents came to the West seeking better lives only to see their children indoctrinated by religious views more radical than what they'd left behind.

    Psychologist Dr. Helen asks a number of good questions:

    This man was being entrusted with the mental health of soldiers, and no one could be bothered to take the time to find out if he was mentally stable himself? After a poor review, remarks that make you wonder which side this guy was on, and possible writings on a web posting that are troubling, he was not investigated?

    Was it political correctness and concern for his Muslim heritage that kept officials from looking further into his mental health? Was the army so desperate for a psychiatrist (there is always a shortage) they didn't dare do anything?

    The public deserves an explanation.

    I agree.

    posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (11)



    Libertarian Wins In Queens

    It seems that a Libertarian can actually win in one of the most liberal areas of the country. New York City.

    Libertarian Dan Halloran wins City Council Seat in New York City

    Dan Halloran was elected to the Queens City Council in District 19. He was nominated by the Republican, Conservative, Independent and Libertarian parties. Dan is simultaneously a Libertarian Party member and a registered Republican. He serves as State Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

    Let me explain it for my electorally challenged friends. Moderates decide elections. And any one running on a Libertarian Platform is definitely moderate compared to the core of the Republican Party.

    Frank replying to a commenter had a few cogent words on the subject.

    Sorry you missed my point so completely on the theocrat comment.

    It was not to accuse anyone of being a theocrat, though that is what those who would supplant the Constitution with the New Testement most certainly are, but only to say those charges are inevitable when the social issues take center stage. Why play into them?

    The leftpress will seize, bend, lie, and mailiciously contort any hint of religion because it feeds their theocrat boogeyman narrative. Knowing this, how could emphasizing religious beliefs possibly build a larger audience than promoting fiscal sanity and smaller government?

    I would defend to the death your right to practice your religion but kill you in a heartbeat if you abuse my constitution to force it on me.

    I am not suggesting we keep the socons off the bus, just away from the steering wheel, and especially the microphone. Moderates, you know, the ones that actually decide elections, are about as comfortable with blatant displays of religiosity as socons are with are with a cross dresser in a gay pride parade.

    Frank has a few more words on the subject and you should follow the link and read them. He is good. Damn good. Of course the fact that I agree with him doesn't hurt.

    Here is what I think should be done: Keep repeating "I'm against abortion but I believe reproduction is none of the government's business". The Palin strategy.

    Yes it is offensive to my pro-life friends. But keep in mind that in America elections are won among the least committed voters. So will it be smaller government and lower spending or Democrat Rule as far into the future as you can imagine?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:06 AM | Comments (0)



    Muslim Jihadist Infiltrators

    Resist Net has this from Walid Shoebat a former jihadist.

    TO WHAT LEVEL IS US MILITARY, FBI, CIA, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY INFILTRATED W. MUSLIM JIHADISTS?

    In the wake of the cowardly Ft. Hoot mass fatal shooting of 11 or more unarmed U.S. soldiers by Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, America has the right to know the truth about sleeper war cells in the U.S.

    Walid Shoebat Former Islamic Terrorist who was once part of Jihad war cells in the US and understands fully the mindset of terrorists has been warning America of the potential of this very type of tragedy and worse for many years.

    Shoebat contends that the US Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI, CIA, Dept. of Homeland Security are all infiltrated with Muslim Extremists.

    "America needs to awaken from its sleep and its unwillingness to face the issue of fundamentalist Islam in our midst which undoubtedly is the cause of the tragedy in Ft Hood" says Mr. Shoebat, adding, "Some very serious decisions need to made when it comes to having Muslims protecting our country, as it is impossible to know whether they maybe honorable or foxes in the hen house."

    Walid is the author of the book Why We Want to Kill You: The Jihadist Mindset and How to Defeat It

    INTERVIEW TALKING POINTS
    By Walid Shoebat:

    -- Nidal Malik Hasan is NOT a convert but Jordanian Muslim SINCE BIRTH! Infiltration by Islamists in the military is a fact My own brother served in the United States Air Force and his loyalty was to his ideology, yet allowing him to guard nuclear facilities should be on check. Religion is a sensitive issue but we should not undermine our security from fear of 'Islamophobia.'

    -- Muslims by Sharia Law are mandated never to fight Muslims. Muslim soldiers need to be questioned whether this is an issue, yet we virtually never question them.

    -- Converts to Islam are susceptible to Islamization, the case of Sgt. Hassan Akbar from Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait killed two Americans and was influenced by the MSU (Muslim Student Association), also Ali Muhammad a double agent that worked for the FBI and collaborated with Al-Qaeda

    -- Speaking at the Air Force Academy in Colorado to expose the infiltration of Islamist. Not only were over a hundred of Middle Eastern Muslims allowed to infiltrate, but were also allowed to threaten us with death with no repercussions whatsoever -- Omar Khalifa, a student, got away with the threats and while Khalifa was related to Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law, he was largely ignored!

    -- At the Marines, our event was cancelled as to 'not to offend Saudi visitors. At Camp Bullis was a Muslim in the U.S army who said he was 'offended' that I spoke on the issue of terrorism. Has 'Political correctness' seeped into our military apparatus to the point where no one can say anything lest they risk we offend someone? When Americans are being killed,all issues should be on the table.

    -- The big question: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Terrorism?
    Nidal never served in Iraq or Afghanistan to qualify as a candidate for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

    First off. I'm one of the few, the proud, the Jews. Heh. Also US Navy. Yank them rods. (Nuke qualified a very long time ago)

    I have posting privileges at Muslims Against Sharia.

    So what do I think? We need to carefully differentiate between those Muslims who want to be Americans and those who don't.

    Eric at Classical Values has this to say about Hassan's imam:

    Hasan's imam Faizul Khan is no ordinary imam. He is on the Board of Directors of the ISNA, a radical Wahhabi outfit which "enforces extremist Wahhabi theological writ in America's mosques."
    So that is one way to tell. The Whabists need to be expelled from America. Whether they are native born or foreign born.

    Radical Islam is not a religion. It is a traitorous political party masquerading as a religion and should be treated as such.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:05 AM | Comments (2)



    Ayn Rand On The Middle East

    More Ayn Rand videos. The above video is from 1979. Obviously well before our current dust ups in the Middle East.

    And don't forget her novels:

    The Fountainhead

    Atlas Shrugged

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:43 AM | Comments (1)




    "the name tells us a lot"

    That's what Shepard Smith on Fox News just said about the officer who is described as the primary gunman who killed 12 people and wounded 31 in a mass shooting at Fort Hood Texas.

    He is described as "a convert to Islam" and a major who was about to deploy to Iraq, and who was known to be upset about the fact that he was about to deploy.

    They are not giving out the name on Fox News, although they keep saying "We've been given a name" and "the name tells us a lot."

    This aroused my curiosity, so I checked around online. According to this news site, the shooter has been identified as Malik Nadal Hasan:

    Fort Hood, TX (WSYR-TV/ABC News) - Twelve people have been killed and 31 wounded in a shooting spree at a Texas military base by what officials believe was possibly carried out by an Army officer.

    The suspected gunman was identified by ABC News as Major Malik Nadal Hasan.

    The shooter was killed and two other suspects, who are also soldiers, have been apprehended, Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone said.

    Apparently there were two other suspects, so there seems to have been a plot.

    MORE: The dead suspect's name is all over the Internet, so I don't know why Fox is stalling in reporting it.

    Frankly, I'm not surprised. We live in a time when "mainstream" American Muslims support a violent, murderous advocate of a Sharia state in the United States (also a convert to Islam) and call him a "respected Imam" after a fatal shootout with the FBI.

    MORE: At 5:56 p.m. Shepard Smith explained that they will not release the suspect's name until the Pentagon confirms it.

    Suspects names have become more sensitive than ever, haven't they?

    AND MORE: As of 6:03 p.m., Fox News had confirmed the name from the Pentagon. It was Major Malik Nadal Hasan.

    I hope no one calls the murderous bastard a martyr, but they probably will.

    My opinion is that I hope he rots in hell.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: If Major Malik Nadal Hasan was a convert to Islam as is being reported, does that mean he originally had another name?

    If so, I assume that will be reported eventually, but these days I don't like to take anything for granted.

    Is it reasonable to speculate that a mass shooting of U.S. soldiers (apparently by multiple plotters) might have been, um, an act of war?

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds has a roundup of links, and says this:

    Note that early reports are usually wrong, but it sounds quite bad, and likely to have some sort of terror connection. But stay tuned.
    It certainly doesn't look like the act of a lone nut.

    AND MORE: Drudge has this picture up of Hasan.

    maliknadalhasan.jpg

    He reportedly worked as an Army psychiatrist, who had accomplices.

    The shooter was killed and two other suspects, who are also soldiers, have been apprehended, Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone said.

    Hasan allegedly opened fire and killed 11 people on the base before he was shot dead, bringing the total number of fatalities to 12.

    The general said there were "eyewitness accounts of more than one shooter," and the others were tracked to an adjacent facility.

    Cone called the attack "a terrible tragedy, stunning." He said the community was "absolutely devastated."

    According to sources, Hasan attended the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. He graduated in 2003 with a degree in Osteopathy and later finished his residency as a psychiatrist.

    In 2009, Hasan completed a fellowship in Disaster and Preventive Psychiatry at the Center for Traumatic Stress.

    Still no confirmation on the report that he's a convert to Islam.

    There's also this:

    The CounterTerrorist Unit said they have "no word" yet on whether this incident was terrorism-related.
    People are entitled to know. Or are they?

    MORE: Regarding the ongoing mystery of the man's background, investigators say they're not clear on his religion or how and when he got his name (which strikes me as peculiar, for the Army would keep records on all officers):

    A source tells the CBS News investigates team that Hasan is a licensed psychiatrist in Bethesda, Md. He is a drug and rehab specialist who got his Virginia psychiatry license July 12, 2005.

    It was not known whether he was treating people at the base.

    Officials says it was not clear what Hasan's religion was, but investigators are trying to determine if Hasan was his birth name or if he may have changed his name and converted to the Islamic faith at some point.

    According to the Army Times, Hasan was promoted to Major, medical corps on April 22, 2009.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds (who notes than Hasan's degree is from Damascus University), Donald Sensing has this:

    As of now, the lead agency for the investigation would be US Army Criminal Investigation Command, know by its historic initials of CID, because the crimes took place on Army territory. Interagency cooperation with the FBI and ATF and state law enforcement agencies is already being done. If, however, the shootings are deemed to be terrorism (perhaps an Islamist connection), by federal law the FBI is the lead agency for all terrorism investigations.

    In 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq by American and allied forces, Sgt. Asan Akbar of the 101st Airborne Division's 326th Engineer Battalion threw a grenade into a tent area in Kuwait filled with 101st troops, killing one and wounding 15. He said his Muslim religion was a factor in the attack.

    US officials have been concerned about Islamist infiltration of the US military for many years. See this statement of J. Michael Waller, Professor of International Communication, Institute of World Politics, before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary six years ago: Terrorist Recruitment and Infiltration in the United States: Prisons and Military as an Operational Base.

    And according to a report I found here (which also confirms the Damascus University education), Hasan was born in Virginia to Jordanian parents.

    MORE: Gateway Pundit puts it simply:

    This was jihad.
    If it was, that would make it an act of war.

    And if this man was some sort of enemy agent, he should not have been in the Army in the first place.

    AND MORE: The latest reports are that Hasan is alive:

    Authorities said immediately after the shootings that they had killed the suspected shooter, but later in the evening they recanted and said that he was alive and in stable condition at a hospital, watched by a guard.

    "His death is not imminent," said Lt. Gen. Bob Cone at Fort Hood. He offered little explanation for the mistake, other than to say there was confusion at the hospital.

    A law enforcement official identified the shooting suspect as Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

    The violence was believed to be the worst mass shooting in history at a U.S. military base.

    I still hope he rots in hell, as soon as possible.

    (Assuming he did it, of course. He now becomes the alleged shooter.)

    MORE: In yet another (but more recent) version of the story, Hasan is now described as the only suspect in the case:

    The U.S. soldier accused of carrying out a mass killing at Fort Hood in Texas is still alive and in custody according to the U.S. military, with no other suspects.

    Twelve people were killed and over 30 injured in the shooting at the world's largest military base.

    Ford Hood commander Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said Army psychiatrist Major Malik Nadal Hasan is the only suspect in the shooting, saying he was shot "multiple times" but would not reveal his condition except to say his death is not imminent.

    Lt. Gen. Cone refused to make any comment about Major Hasan, except to confirm he was the suspect and one of the firearms he carried was a semi automatic weapon.

    He said the shootings took place in two facilities adjacent to each other, and the quick actions of military personnel prevented more deaths. He talked of soldiers ripping their uniforms apart and applying first aid on the scene to save lives.

    Lt. Gen. Cone said the evidence does not suggest it was a terrorist attack, but limited his comments saying he wanted to make sure he only gave the facts.

    The FBI was assisting the military in the investigation which was on-going, he said.

    As to why they said there were other shooters, who knows?

    I think it's going to take some time to get the facts.

    MORE: Something does not make sense. There still persistent reports that the man converted to Islam. According to the Huffington Post, "late in life":

    Arab and Muslim political groups are bracing themselves for a wave of anger and attacks after news broke on Thursday that the primary suspect behind the shooting deaths of twelve soldiers at Fort Hood had a Arabic and/or Muslim-sounding name.

    Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a native of Virginia, is believed to have been responsible for opening fire on his fellow soldiers at the U.S. Army base.

    It was not immediately clear whether Nidal Malik Hasan was, in fact, a Muslim, though reports surfaced that he had converted to the religion late in life.

    Then there's this:
    Everyone agrees that Major Hasan was Muslim. Most say that he was a recent convert, but his cousin says that he had been a Muslim all his life.

    And now, the motive. The cousin says that Major Hasan had taken a great deal of "harassment" over his Muslim faith and his Middle Eastern heritage, and had expressed distress over his pending deployment. But Colonel Terry Lee USA (retired), who once worked with Major Hasan, says that he had expressed sympathy with Abdulhakim Bledsoe, the suspect in the shooting at a Little Rock, AR, recruiting office last summer, and even said that "it's about time that Muslims stood up against the aggressors," and words to similar effect. This officer further states that Hasan had had similar arguments with several people, on such themes as whether Muslim should fight Muslim. (Furthermore, Col. Lee says that no one ever "harassed" Hasan or called him any racial names. Hasan, not any of the others, started those arguments.)

    If a Colonel knew that Hasan had expressed sympathy with the shooter at the recruiting office, why didn't he speak up?

    Something does not make sense about the man being a "recent convert," because if he was born with a Muslim name to Muslim parents, he is presumably Muslim from birth.

    Unless "recent convert" means he was a recent convert to a radical form of Islamic fundamentalism.


    Video here
    of Hasan's comments on the Little Rock incident. He's quoted as saying that "maybe the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor," and even "strap bombs on and go into Time Square."

    Colonel Lee (who knew him) asks, "Why was he transferred to Fort Hood?"

    I have to ask a question.

    Why the hell was he allowed to be in the Army?

    And why did they say he was dead?

    I'm beginning to smell something fishy about the whole thing.

    MORE: From Allahpundit, some great questions:

    The $64,000 questions: What was he doing at Fort Hood among the population if he thought suicide bombers were heroes? And why are the feds tipping the AP about this if they haven't even confirmed that he was the author yet?
    And,
    So here's where we are right now, near 11 p.m. ET. This guy raged about Muslims standing up to aggressors, praised suicide bombers, and the lead theory in the media is ... PTSD? For a guy who's ... never been deployed? A friend just e-mailed me with a good question: Even if he was suffering from some type of trauma from listening to vets' war stories, shouldn't a shrink trained in dealing with trauma been able to diagnose himself and seek treatment?
    PTSD is about as lame an explanation as you can get.

    If this guy had PTSD, then so did Mohammad Atta, and so does Osama bin Laden. And Timothy McVeigh. And I'm sure Stalin and Hitler did too.

    Since when do we put incidental psychological factors ahead of primary motivations?

    MORE: Also from Allahpundit, there's this from NPR:

    A source tells NPR's Joseph Shapiro that Hasan was put on probation early in his postgraduate work at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues, according to the source, who worked with him at the time.
    And the Army promoted this religious nut to Major? Alllahpundit also reports this:
    I'm hearing on Twitter that Fox interviewed one of his neighbors within the last half-hour or so and that the neighbor claims Hasan was handing out Korans just this morning. Does anyone have video? Or is this a bad lead? Smells fishy to me but multiple people have mentioned it.
    A lot of things smell fishy.

    I think there's a lot of disinformation floating around and there's sure to be more.

    MORE: Amidst the rest of the chaotic reporting, I found a report that according to his imam, Hasan considered himself to be a Palestinian:

    At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.
    Story continues below

    They had not determined for certain whether Hasan is the author of the posting, and a formal investigation had not been opened before the shooting, said law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.

    One of the officials said late Thursday that federal search warrants were being drawn up to authorize the seizure of Hasan's computer.

    Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, who said he worked with Hasan, told Fox News that Hasan had hoped President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Lee said Hasan got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported the wars, and had tried hard to prevent his pending deployment.

    Hasan attended prayers regularly when he lived outside Washington, often in his Army uniform, said Faizul Khan, a former imam at a mosque Hasan attended in Silver Spring, Md. He said Hasan was a lifelong Muslim.

    "I got the impression that he was a committed soldier," Khan said. He spoke often with Hasan about Hasan's desire for a wife.

    On a form filled out by those seeking spouses through a program at the mosque, Hasan listed his birthplace as Arlington, Va., but his nationality as Palestinian, Khan said.

    "I don't know why he listed Palestinian," Khan said, "He was not born in Palestine."

    Well, considering the reports that his parents are Jordanians, and the fact that many Jordanians are in fact displaced Palestinians, it is entirely possible that his parents were Palestinians.

    If Hasan's parents were Palestinians (or descended from Palestinians), wouldn't that make Hasan a Palestinian according to the commonly accepted definition of that term as it is used in virtually every Arab and Muslim country in the world, as well as many other countries?

    Here's the Wiki definition:

    In its common usage today, the term "Palestinian" refers to a person whose ancestors had lived in the territory corresponding to British Mandate Palestine for some length of time prior to 1948.
    Are we to believe that Hasan's imam's definition of Palestinian as someone "born in Palestine" is different from that of the rest of the Muslim world as well as Wikipedia?

    Or is there something fishy going on here too?

    MORE: Hasan's imam Faizul Khan is no ordinary imam. He is on the Board of Directors of the ISNA, a radical Wahhabi outfit which "enforces extremist Wahhabi theological writ in America's mosques."

    AND MORE (This is now November 6): According to the base commander at Fort Hood, Hasan yelled "ALLAHHU AKBAR!" when he started shooting.

    That sounds like Jihad to me. The only question in my mind is whether this was part of a larger plot.

    But I expect to see a lot of denial.

    posted by Eric at 05:44 PM | Comments (12)



    Barack Obama, top Republican strategist!

    Via Glenn Reynolds, my attention was drawn to an irresistibly funny comment left here:

    Dear Barack, Please continue to campaign for Democratic candidates in future elections. The Republicans welcome all your help. Thank you.
    He was quite effective, wasn't he?

    Nothing wrong with giving credit where credit is due.

    posted by Eric at 04:49 PM | Comments (1)



    Republicans Need A Branding Campaign



    Smaller government and lower spending. And this time we really mean it.



    Heh.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:47 PM | Comments (6)



    The Abortion Litmus Test

    It looks like Sarah Palin may not be able to pass the Republican Abortion Litmus Test. This is a report from March of 2009.

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) recently appointed Anchorage Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen, who once served on the board of Planned Parenthood, to the state's Supreme Court, the AP/Anchorage Daily News reports. According to the AP/Daily News, Palin's selection went against the advice of the Alaska Family Council -- a conservative group that opposes abortion rights -- who said that Christen was the more liberal of the governor's two choices for the vacant position. The two candidates were recommended by the Alaska Judicial Council, an independent citizen's commission that evaluates judicial appointments for the governor.

    AFC said the other candidate, Palmer Superior Court Judge Eric Smith, would be more likely "to turn back the tide of activism" on issues like abortion rights. According to the group, Christen is more likely to side with justices who struck down laws like a 2006 measure requiring girls 16 years and younger to obtain parental consent to receive an abortion. According to the AP/Daily News, the state legislature currently is considering a similar parental consent bill. The current bill includes a provision allowing a minor to petition a superior court judge to bypass parental consent.

    Palin, who opposes abortion rights, said she has "every confidence that [Christen] has the experience, intellect, wisdom and character to be an outstanding Supreme Court justice." Christen served on the Planned Parenthood board in the 1990s before the organization began performing abortions in Alaska in 2003, according to the AP/Daily News. According to the AP/Daily News, Christen will be the second woman to serve on the state's high court -- current Chief Justice Dana Fabe was appointed in 1996 (Sutton, AP/Anchorage Daily News, 3/6).

    Well, well, well my socon friends. She lives her life according to her principles and yet governs with a servants heart - listening to the will of the people.

    It also ups my esteem for her since I believe reproduction is none of government's business. A rather libertarian position. And Sarah is very libertarian leaning. And yet she lives her beliefs. Maybe we have come upon that small government Republican we hear so much about.

    I ♥ Sarah'cudda more than ever.

    Prompted by a discussion at The Other McCain.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:22 AM | Comments (3)



    Fight the program all you want, but appearances still matter!

    Two posts I read yesterday hammered home the importance of something I hate.

    TELEVISION.

    My inability to watch it occasionally places me at a disadvantage in evaluating politicians. The problem is that I'm too impatient to put up with people spouting their opinions. When people talk, I can't skim through and "scroll down" to get to the point and save time. And with the tube, there's no human interaction the way there is if the person is sitting there talking to you. I feel completely passive watching it, and if the person is trying to persuade me of something, that oncoming sense that I'm being conned or manipulated triggers that instinctive urge to resist that is unpleasant because I cannot shut off. Now, some people are more honest than others, and there are people who say what they think without trying to play tricks or resorting to demagoguery, but political types are usually engaged in partisan debates, which means they are advocates who slant and spin, spin and slant, always looking for new openings and new ways to sneak their point in. The prevaricate and they exaggerate, and I just don't find the process of listening to them entertaining.

    What I hate even more than that is commercials. Pure noise pollution -- every bit as bad as hearing the young people's vehicles which go "THUMP-THUMP-TH-THUMP!" as the bass loudspeakers blast everything in a two block radius to kingdom come. (Unlike television, the phenomenon at least provides some emotional satisfaction, as a hearing specialist once explained to me precisely how these idiots are doing physical damage to their interior parts of their ear structure. Tiny fragments actually break off and are gone permanently, which means that about the same time their tattoos start getting blurry and ugly, they won't be able to hear the upper range of a violin. Knowing that they will be punished for their noise eases my irritation somewhat, although I know it is not nice to revel in people's future hearing disabilities.)

    Anyway, once a commercial comes on, I'm out of there. Back to whatever commercial-free classic movie might be on, and if I've seen it or it looks dumb, then I've usually had it with the TV set.

    But being ruled by these emotional reactions is not wise, and I need to suspend them at election time. Normally I do, but this time I just wasn't in full-blown election mode, and I failed to watch the candidates. Well, I did watch the Corzine-Christie fat insult video -- but all that did was to heighten my loathing of Corzine and increase my sympathy for Christie. As I said,

    Like most people, New Jerseyans don't seem to take kindly to personal insults, and I think it proved to be an unforgivable error for Corzine to have ridiculed his opponent's personal appearance. (If I lived in NJ, I'd have voted for Christie for that reason alone.)
    Here's the thing, though. Just because I don't consider personal characteristics important does not mean that the voters don't. While someone being fat does not incline me to vote for or against someone, it might be very relevant to the affluent joggers who eat only organic health food and play physically fitter-than-thou games with their affluent neighbors in the elite northern suburbs of New York. Obviously, these voters do not constitute a majority, but the point is that being fat can matter, whether I think it should matter or not.

    What I completely missed because of my TV-phobia was a chance to evaluate the television styles of the two candidates running for NY-23.

    First, here's Ann Althouse, quoting one of her commenters:

    We have been inundated with TV commercials here. On TV, Hoffman comes across as exceedingly weird, skinny and overeager with googly eyes, bright yellow teeth, and an odd, halting way of speaking.

    He kept repeating a slogan that he was a common-sense Reagan conservative and common sense isn't so common any more. It got annoying.

    Owens, by contrast, is big and rugged-looking. He's an Air Force veteran and he has that military solidity, calm and self-possession.

    He seems like a country guy, and this is a rural district. He presented himself as a centrist. On the human level, Owens is the kind of person voters around here feel comfortable with. Hoffman's not. Neither was Scozzafava.

    Now, regardless of how true the above is, I did not have any way of evaluating it, and I was a bit chagrined, because I had limited my analysis to "issues" and what I thought were the dynamics of the race. That's a serious error, because voters in that district want to know more than whether there's a national battle brewing over the heart and soul of the Republican Party. They're voting for the guy they want to be their Congressman, and it's natural that they're going to evaluate him the same way you might evaluate anyone.

    What is he like?

    That is not something to be found on a platform at a web site. The guy in question -- Doug Hoffman -- said he was like Reagan. But -- and this is a very important but --

    What was Reagan like?

    He was more than his platform. The man was so affable and charming that his worst enemies were disarmed, and he was one of the most personally likable politicians this country has ever known. Not only that, his long background as a Hollywood and television star gave him such command over the media that all he needed to do to turn the tables on his opponents was to manage to get in front of a camera. This is no exaggeration; I saw it at press conferences. He could get the press to laugh at each other even when the questions were considered serious and damning.

    I hope I will be forgiven for this digression, but I remembered and found a link to one such instance -- in which Reagan had been supposedly "cornered" by the Grand Dame of the White House Press Corps, Sarah McClendon. (A woman so respected as a left-wing feminist icon that she got away with being "an ardent supporter of the Confederate Memorial Association and continue[d] to serve on its board.")

    Like the testosteronized female pit bull McClendon was, she really had him by the balls -- or so everyone thought at the time. But that damnably affable Reagan turned the tables on her, first by a self-deprecating comment about his own age, and then saying that if the obsessive questioning continued, the press conference would have to be given an R rating:

    Sarah [Sarah McClendon, McClendon News Service]?

    Legal Equity for Women

    Q. Sir, you have a report before you that was given to you from the Justice Department. It shows the discriminations that actually exist on the books in Federal agencies and departments against women. Now, you're committed to take care of legal equity for women, and this report has not been made public. Would you please let us see it, and will you do something about it?

    The President. It hasn't reached me yet.

    Q. Yes, sir, it did. It came to you in the Cabinet meeting, and you admitted at your last press conference that you had it. And I have checked this out thoroughly -- [laughter] -- yes, sir. It came from Assistant Secretary --

    The President. Don't tell me I'm losing my memory. [Laughter] Well, Sarah, let me tell you this. First of all, I don't know of any administration that in the first 16 months that it was here placed as many women -- certainly not the last administration --

    Q. Sir, that's fine, that's fine.

    The President. -- in high positions, a great number of them requiring confirmation. And that is continuing along that line, and that has a task force now -- in the Justice Department there is a task force that is working on this very question.

    Q. You've got it; you've got part of it; you've got the first quarter of it. It was given to you at the Cabinet meeting by Brad Reynolds [William Bradford Reynolds, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice] and it says that there's been a lot of sex--harassment of women-- [laughter] .

    The President. Harassment? [Laughter]

    Q. Sir, I suggest you look into that. He talked about it at the Cabinet meeting. He was there.

    The President. Now, Sarah, just a minute here with the discussion, or we'll be getting an R rating. [Laughter]

    It was sheer brilliance, and I completely cracked up at the time, and please remember that I was very anti-Reagan. I voted against him twice.

    I only wish I had the video. And I say that as someone who hates television. Reagan never disappointed people who saw the medium as a form of entertainment -- not even if they hated his politics (which I did -- and on culture war issues, still do).

    I realize that expecting ordinary politicians to have Ronald Reagan's media skills is unreasonable, whether the politician is Doug Hoffman or anyone else. But here's the problem with Doug Hoffman.

    Seen on television, this man who says he's like Reagan is as un-Reaganlike as it's possible to get.

    Seriously, when forced myself to watch him -- for the first time yesterday, when it was too late -- I was horrified.

    So was Oregon Guy, whose discussion of the following video raises some very unpleasant issues, including the possibility of Asperger's Syndrome.

    There he sits, uncomfortably sandwiched between the Thompsons, almost as if they're hoping to hide him in plain sight. The guy has so little charm that in comparison to Reagan he's like a lobotomy patient who can only recite from a script. Might Hoffman's personality have factored into the original decision not to select him as a candidate?

    Anyway, I found myself wincing in embarrassment. I don't even want to watch a video of his opponent. That Hoffman did as well as he did despite his appallingly bad television personality truly shows that the level of wrath that so many people have towards incumbents is so high they'll overlook almost anything.

    This is all easy for me to say now that the election is over and Hoffman has lost. Had I made these observations last week, I might have been seen as a biased, foot-dragging naysayer, as someone who refuses to "get with the program."

    (Probably another reason I can't stand the TV. All those people, all trying to make me "get with the program." Whatever the program is....)

    posted by Eric at 10:37 AM | Comments (1)



    Marijuana Legalization Is A Republican Issue

    The lady, Jessica Corry, was a press secretary for a Republican Senator.

    Here is some more information on her.

    She and her husband have a few words to say on Huffington Post.

    While leaders from both major political parties whisper privately about the insanity of the drug war, they decline to take a rational public position in support of legalization or decriminalization. Instead, they continue to cater to an ill-conceived misunderstanding of what their respective constituencies believe our marijuana policies should be.

    Democrats, ever fearful of appearing soft on crime, calculate that they will have nothing to gain by supporting legalization. Instead, they throw scraps of sentencing reform out in an effort to silent those most passionately calling for change. Republicans, meanwhile, fear angering a socially conservative base of voters all too eager to forget its beer-bonging college days.

    In the video she repeats many of the themes I have been hammering for years.

    What is her game plan for bringing Republicans on board?

    ...Corry, who does not smoke pot, is trying to organize Republican women around the cause. So far, she has commitments from 20 fellow Coloradoans, most of them lawyers, like Corry. Her husband, also an attorney, represents medical marijuana users.

    Corry's arguments focus not only on the inhumanity of further punishing sick people who seek relief through pot, but also on protecting her own children should they decide to try marijuana someday. There's nothing like imagining one's own children as "criminals" to put irrational laws in perspective.

    Corry is hardly alone and, in fact, may be part of a "toking point." (Is there a drug yet for "Tipping Point Fatigue"?) In its October issue, Marie Claire magazine featured "Stiletto Stoners" about accomplished career women who prefer to relax with pot. A September Fortune cover story, "Is Pot Already Legal?" examined the issue. In April, former (2006) Miss New Jersey, Georgine DiMaria, outed herself as a stealth marijuana user to treat her asthma.

    States' rights and conservatism are old friends - except when they're not. While many Republicans nurse a libertarian streak, the party has been selective in its support of federalist principles.

    Yep. The Republican Party I know so well. Champions of smaller government. Except when they are not. Way to go my principled friends.

    Let me just say this. Med pot consistently polls in the 55% to 65% range. In Maine it just garnered 58% in a referendum to make medical marijuana growing and SALES legal. What are you waiting for Republicans? The votes are there for the taking.

    Want to grow your own where it is legal? This should help:

    Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible

    Let me add that Jessica talks about the safety of marijuana. Here is a book on the subject:

    Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

    Here is a video made in Israel that is short and funny. It shows a guy drinking and getting belligerent and who do the police arrest? The pot smoker. Sorry no English subtitles. One thing that is amusing in an ugly sort of way is that the one minute clip represents something that is unfortunately nearly universal.

    H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)




    The worse the crime, the worse the punishment?

    An animal rights nut I am not. Quite the opposite, in fact. However, I do think animals have a right not to be treated cruelly, and while it might be another example of my less than perfect libertarianism, I have no problem in making it a crime for human beings to torture animals. I would remind people who have philosophical problems with this to keep in mind that people who torture animals have a demonstrated tendency to be psychopaths, and are likely to be very dangerous to humans, so a good case can be made that locking them up is not just for the animals' sake.

    A case I read about today involved a sicko who raped a 21 year old horse:

    Vereen was arrested in July after Barbara Kenley caught him entering the barn at Lazy B Stables in Longs, about 20 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach. She had been staking out the stable for more than a week after setting up a surveillance camera and videotaping Vereen's assault on her 21-year-old horse named Sugar.

    Kenley said she became suspicious because her horse was acting strange and getting infections, and she noticed things were moved around the barn and dirt was piled up near the horse's stall.

    It wasn't the first time she'd caught Vereen. In late 2007, Kenley found him asleep in the hay after assaulting her horse. For that offense, he also pleaded guilty to buggery, received probation and had to register as a sex offender.

    On Wednesday, the judge sentenced Vereen to five years in prison, but he will only have to serve three years behind bars as long as he successfully completes two years of probation. Vereen also was ordered to undergo additional mental treatment after he gets out of prison and was told to stay away from Kenley's stable.

    Not only can animals not consent to sex with humans, but it's obvious that the animal was harmed and subjected to what would certainly be torture for a human. I have no problem with the guy going to prison for doing that, although I see that the horse's owner thinks he should have gotten more than 3 years. (Actually, it was 5 years with 2 subtracted if he behaves.)

    But if we contrast his crime and punishment with that of Michael Vick, there are huge disparities that I think are worth examining. What Vick did went far, far beyond sexual penetration, and unlike Sugar the horse, Vick's dogs died indescribably agonizing deaths -- not from fighting, but from the sadistic and gratuitous "punishments" inflicted on them:

    Most people are aware that Michael Vick was "convicted of dog fighting." They know he went to prison, and they've also probably seen the news stories, including a moving Sports Illustrated cover story, about the Vick dogs that were rescued and rehabilitated after being seized from his Bad Newz Kennels.

    But that's only part of the story.

    "What Michael Vick did was not just dog fighting," said Marthina McClay of Our Pack, a pit bull rescue group in Santa Clara, and the owner of one of the Vick dogs, Leo. "It went so far beyond that, and most people who defend him are uninformed. They don't really realize what Michael Vick did."

    If you're one of the people McClay is talking about, let me invite you into Donna Reynolds' nightmare.

    Reynolds is the co-founder of Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls (BAD RAP), an East Bay organization with a national reputation for rescuing and rehabilitating pit bulls. They rehabbed and cared for many of the dogs seized from Vick's Bad Newz Kennels after his arrest in April of 2007.

    She's definitely not what you'd call a fragile flower, and she's been working with ex-fighting pits for longer than a lot of the people reading this have been out of kindergarten. It's fair to say she's seen the worst things that people can do to dogs, but there's still a story she can't get out of her mind.

    It was a sweltering day in September of 2007, and Reynolds was in Virginia to evaluate the 49 pit bulls found alive on Vicks' property. A federal agent who had been at the scene when the property was searched was driving her to the various facilities holding the dogs, and they got to talking about what the investigation had turned up.

    "The details that got to me then and stay with me today involve the swimming pool that was used to kill some of the dogs," Reynolds wrote on her blog. "Jumper cables were clipped onto the ears of underperforming dogs, then, just like with a car, the cables were connected to the terminals of car batteries before lifting and tossing the shamed dogs into the water."

    She continued, "We don't know how many suffered this premeditated murder, but the damage to the pool walls tells a story. It seems that while they were scrambling to escape, they scratched and clawed at the pool liner and bit at the dented aluminum sides like a hungry dog on a tin can.

    "I wear some pretty thick skin during our work with dogs, but I can't shake my minds-eye image of a little black dog splashing frantically in bloody water ... screaming in pain and terror ... brown eyes saucer wide and tiny black white-toed feet clawing at anything, desperate to get a hold. This death did not come quickly. The rescuer in me keeps trying to think of a way to go back in time and somehow stop this torture and pull the little dog to safety. I think I'll be looking for ways to pull that dog out for the rest of my life."

    Vick served 18 months in prison, and he has never expressed regret for conduct that would shock many a hardened dogfighter.

    So what's with the disparity in punishment? What happened to the horse was wrong, but sexual penetration does not even come close to having jumper cables put on your ear and being electrocuted while slowly drowning in a swimming pool. Screwing someone's horse is sick, but what happened to Vick's dogs was much sicker (at least, by any logical standard).

    Might it have something to do with Vick being a rich celebrity? Or am I wrong about what is considered more sick? Is there something in the sexual nature of the crime against the horse that makes it "worse" even though the horse recovered? Surely a sexually violated horse would not trade places with a fatally tortured dog.

    And yet, I can't help wondering whether Vick might have been treated differently had he been caught screwing a horse instead of torturing dogs. I'm not so much talking about sentencing, but would he be welcomed back into the NFL as he is now? Would they just be saying, "Come on, the dude paid his debt to society" as they are now?

    Surely, screwing a horse is not more immoral than torturing dogs to death.

    Or is there something I am missing?

    MORE: Commenting on Ann Althouse's post about the horse screwing conviction, Glenn Reynolds notes a distinction I missed -- that this was someone else's horse and not the man's own horse. (That might make a difference to the horse, too.)

    Is it a factor that Vick was torturing his own dogs as opposed to someone else's?

    I don't know, but I still think what he did was far worse than having sex with a horse, and what I can't figure out is why society doesn't seem to think so. If (as one commenter pointed out), sex is something over which we generally have less control than other things, that would seem to be a mitigating factor.

    And I just can't shake my suspicion that the many people who think it's just fine for Michael Vick to deliver morally uplifting lectures to children would feel differently had he been convicted of horse screwing, and while I don't understand it, I think it has something to do with the way sex is viewed. It is considered "worse" than brutal violence.

    posted by Eric at 04:46 PM | Comments (11)



    Why people who want to be left alone vote for people who won't

    It strikes me that running for office is an inherently bothersome (if not annoying) thing to do -- both to yourself and to other people. I suspect that this is why people who want to leave people alone tend not to run for office.

    It also might explain why the people who are running for office often tend to be precisely the types of people who don't want to leave other people alone. And when they get elected, you can depend on them not to leave you alone.

    So how about someone running on a platform of "VOTE FOR ME AND I WILL LEAVE YOU ALONE!" Sounds pretty lame, doesn't it? The people who vote might even wonder whether a candidate with such a self-canceling platform was out of his freaking mind. So maybe a better slogan would be "VOTE FOR ME AND I WILL FIGHT THE PEOPLE WHO WON'T LEAVE YOU ALONE!" (Except no one would believe it, as experience has taught them that people who run for office almost never have truly idealistic or altruistic agendas.)

    I think there are a lot of people out there who want to be left alone, and who really do try to vote accordingly. In many cases, whoever seems to the more reasonable candidate is the one who wins. Unless people are fed up. Then it becomes "THROW THE BUMS OUT!" The problem is, throwing out Bum A can only be accomplished by replacing him with Bum B. Not voting means having no say on the bums at all, even if you think that they should all be thrown out on general principle.

    The fact is, government has not gotten less intrusive over the years. It has grown ever larger, ever more malignant, ever more unconstitutional, ever more wasteful, ever more vengeful, and ever more eager to not leave anyone alone. Voting in the Republicans has never really worked as a solution, and now it's become clear to many voters that replacing Republicans with Democrats is even worse than replacing Democrats with Republicans.

    Voting is when people who want to be left alone are forced to choose between candidates to whom the idea of leaving people alone is anathema, and who only disagree on whom they plan to leave alone. It's like having to vote for a crime boss by selecting between two criminals, one of whom promises to steal only jewelry from houses with wood siding (on a platform of "spreading the wealth") and another who promises to steal only electronic appliances from houses with brick walls (on a platform of "promoting fairness and efficiency"). As to the people who live in houses with both brick walls and wood siding who have both jewelry and electronics, well, fortunately, they belong to a tiny minority. Besides, shouldn't they have thought about it before they asked for trouble? After all, we have to elect someone.

    What is a person who wants to be left alone supposed to do? Vote for whoever does the best job of telling them what they want to hear? If that has not worked before, why would it work this time? Isn't that like Einstein's definition of insanity?

    If the purpose of voting is to elect people to government, and if the purpose of government is not to leave people alone, then I think a related form of insanity is to imagine that people running for the express purpose of not leaving you alone somehow will.

    As a commenter recently accused libertarians of being like anarchists,
    let me say that I do not advocate anarchy. However, I do advocate imposing the Constitution on the government rather than imposing the government on the Constitution (as has been happening since around 1914 or so).

    But such chatter about the Constitution is silly, because the Government has long superseded it -- to the point where anyone taking the constitutional literally has become an anarchist for all practical purposes. In fact, in terms of today's federal government, constitutional literalism can be seen as nihilism. You might be free to talk that way in blog posts, but if you tried running for office on such a platform, you'd never get the endorsement of either major party. I suppose you might be able to wangle a spot on the Libertarian Party ticket, but you'd be stuck having to run as a kook. However, you could promise honestly to leave people alone, and you could even mean it, but it wouldn't mean much. Because the people who want to be left alone want to be left alone by real candidates -- people who are serious about running for the job of not leaving them alone!

    UPDATE: Some advice to the Republicans from our friends across the sea at Samizdata:

    ...the Republicans need to rediscover the "leave me alone" agenda of limited government, low taxes, tight spending and free trade. And they need to rediscover it convincingly, and learn the lessons of George W. Bush's terrible error of talking the free market talk while doing the exact opposite. The GOP also needs to remember that being in favour of small government is not just about economics, either.
    Unfortunately, big government, national greatness conservatism (which ought to be called "Conservative Statism") is an ideology designed by committee, and it appeals to wide variety of government-lovers on the right.

    Let's face it, neither constitutional literalism nor libertarianism offers many employment opportunities for the think tank policy wonks, and the political reality is that the many people it takes to put someone in office expect to be rewarded for their efforts.

    posted by Eric at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)



    A Victory For Cultural Conservatives

    Maine has voted against legalizing gay marriage. And of course cultural conservatives are crowing. Or at least greatly relieved if you can believe the pictures. The final tally is not in but the numbers are running about 53 to 47 against.

    But Maine also voted on medical marijuana. And the results there are a little different.

    Mainers who use marijuana to relieve the symptoms of certain medical conditions will have easier access to the drug after voters approved Question 5 on Tuesday's statewide referendum ballot.

    With 86 percent of precincts reporting at about 1:04 a.m. Wednesday, the measure was winning 58.61 percent to 41.39 percent.

    Statewide, the number of votes was 293,694 in favor to 207,419 opposed.

    The measure eases access to marijuana for individuals with certain medical conditions. It expands the list of qualifying medical conditions, creates a state-regulated registry of qualified users, and allows for a statewide system of storefront distribution centers.

    While 13 states permit medical use of marijuana, only Rhode Island and New Mexico have similar dispensary provisions, according to the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. The national organization on Tuesday night called the Maine vote "a dramatic step forward."

    So Gay Marriage is 53 to 47 against and med pot is 58 to 42 for. So maybe Maine is not quite so socially conservative after all. Maybe for marijuana or at least medical marijuana the culture war is over.

    Another interesting stat. As of this post there are 29 comments on the med pot story and 759 on the gay marriage story. Which more or less says that Medical Marijuana is a non-issue for voters. Now if only politicians could get that message. Especially the crooks in DC.

    H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:35 PM | Comments (3)



    Abortion Is Murder

    I'm having a little discussion with a commenter at The Other McCain about abortion. I know more than a few social conservatives read this blog so maybe they can help me out. Here is the comment I was replying to:

    The Indentured Servant Girl said...

    M. Simon: women were not, and would not be charged with murder for procuring an abortion. It is the doctors that the law goes after.

    So I have a few questions.
    You mean the women are not at least accomplices in premeditated murder? Then abortion is not really murder is it?

    Suppose there is no doctor? Just a black market RU-485 pill? Or ergot? Or oxytocin? Or a heavy dose of birth control pills? Still not murder?

    It would be really nice to see a person with real conviction arguing that abortion is murder. I have yet to find one.

    The question for me is enforcement. How intrusive will the government have to get to make it work? Weekly pregnancy tests? (the Drug War precedent) And of course with new technology coming on line - maybe electronic sniffers to look for changes in the body? Then every miscarriage becomes a murder investigation.

    Wouldn't it be safer for your liberties to keep government out of it and just convince women not to have an abortion?

    So could one or more of my social conservative friends please explain it to me? If abortion is murder why wouldn't the woman involved be at least charged as an accomplice to premeditated murder? After all in these kinds of cases (the vast majority any way) the woman is not kidnapped against her will and forced to get an abortion. She is an active participant and pays money to get the job done.

    So is abortion premeditated murder or not?

    Well maybe pregnant women are not in their right mind. So I could see that as an out. Of course that argues that pregnant women ought not be allowed to vote. Maybe menstruating women too. In fact with the monthly hormone roller coaster ride I can see a lot of things women in their child bearing years should be denied the opportunity to do. You know how some women get PMS? We need laws to protect us from those she devils.

    Or maybe the government should just stay out of reproduction all together. It might just wind up another expensive boondoggle like the Drug War.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:56 AM | Comments (35)



    Why do they keep trying to change my mind?

    On the issue of gay marriage, I have always been skeptical about state involvement. I realize my position is hardly the conventional libertarian one, but I have long had misgivings, and I vacillate between sympathy towards those of good will on both sides and general apathy. Analyzed in terms of freedom, I could almost go either way. However, I find myself easily irritated by the shrill tactics of activists, and I don't like political harangues. What this means is that when gay activists throw hissy fits, they not only fail to persuade me, they actually make me less sympathetic to their cause, and more sympathetic to the cause of the people who just want to be left alone. Perhaps that's because I'm a live-and-let-live person who (in an ideal world) would like to be left alone.

    How I can be that way and also be a daily political blogger is one among many of the endless contradictions that inspire my blogging.

    Here's what I am intrigued by today. When I woke up, I thought about the last thing I wrote last night -- about the evolution of the gay marriage issue from something which had been a joke not long ago into something that came respectably close to winning in Maine:

    Frankly, I'm surprised it's this close, and I'd have been amazed if it won. Just a few years ago, the vote could easily have been expected to be 70-30 against gay marriage.
    Checking my email this morning, I was greeted by another haranguing email from longtime emailer (and now a leading anti-gay activist) Matt Barber, who has now forced me to ask a basic question.

    Why is Matt Barber of all people trying so hard to convince me to support gay marriage?

    Like I say, I've long been a skeptic, and I can understand the arguments on both sides, but I worry that it could be a back door for creeping statism -- government getting into the very bedrooms where it supposedly did not belong.

    But the way Barber frames the gay marriage issue, he makes it very difficult for me to sit on the sidelines, whether in the spirit of laissez faire or in the spirit of old-fashioned compromise. He sees it as a battle involving the "forced affirmation of homosexuality" in which brave truth tellers combat radical deviancy:

    This is an historic battle for the minds and souls of our children - for our very culture. The mealy-mouthed approach must end. This is not just about 'marriage.' It has everything to do with forced affirmation of homosexuality - under penalty of law. Indeed everyone who fought hard to defend marriage in Maine is to be congratulated, but if it weren't for a brave group of truth tellers - Paul Madore, Peter LaBarbera and Brian Camenker - who came to Maine in the final hour to hold a press conference and address the pink elephant in the room - homosexual deviancy and the radical 'gay' agenda - counterfeit marriage might have prevailed."
    If gay marriage is forced affirmation of homosexuality, then straight marriage must be forced affirmation of heterosexuality. I'm wondering how many of the millions of opposite sex couples who have fallen in love and been married over the years ever stopped to realize that what they were doing was forcing people to affirm their heterosexuality. And now that the brave truth tellers have told them, will they become heterosexual activists?

    I don't know, but my advice to the gay activists would be to send money to Barber and La Barbera and the boys, because I suspect that the more they scream, the more the ordinary people who want to be left alone will be inclined to vote against them.

    And what the gay activists need to do instead of throwing their usual hissy fits is absolutely nothing. Go indoors, go on vacation, and let the straight people be convinced by Matt Barber, who is so convincing that he's making me feel like going wobbly.

    But I won't. Because even though I might be wrong in my gay marriage skepticism, I don't want it said that Matt Barber changed my mind.

    MORE: While it didn't attract much attention, it just so happens that the top vote-getter in Houston's mayoral race was gay, and Michael Petrelis argues that the key to winning is to avoid support from what he terms "Gay Inc.":

    The immediate lesson I saw from tonight, other than the boring old one of Gay Inc really knows how to lose these things, was that if you want to be a top vote-getter, avoid lots of public backing from or be seen as the darling of the HRC/NGLTF/GLAAD/Gill Action/DNC axis.

    [...]

    Obviously, Parker is doing something very right, and in Texas, of all places, and coming out on top, without any overt push from Gay Inc that I am aware of. To win the run-off, it's best to continue to keep our national orgs far, far away.

    Via Glenn Reynolds.

    While I don't intend to give advice to the other "side" in the gay marriage debate, I like Petrelis's characterization of the HRC/NGLTF/GLAAD/Gill Action/DNC axis as "Gay Inc." And I think the Barber/LaBarbera/Camenker/AFT axis people have probably earned the title of "Anti-Gay Inc."

    I think that when seen together (and what would they be without each other?) "Gay Inc." and "Anti-Gay Inc." represent another axis of sorts -- an axis of axes to grind.

    Working together to build a more contentious world.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I may not have been making myself clear enough, but the process I describe is called collusion, and I think Gay Inc. and Anti-Gay Inc. provide a classic illustration of it. They need each other badly, because whether they will admit it or not, both are working toward a common goal --

    the continued stigmatization of a minority for political ends.

    Both sides need this stigma, and both sides want being gay to matter, but for different political purposes.

    Without the stigma, who on earth would care about gay identity politics?

    posted by Eric at 10:22 AM | Comments (5)



    Obama/Keyes vs Kerry/Bush

    First off. I got my numbers from Obama/Keyes and Kerry/Bush.

    So let us start with the numbers. Also let me add that this is going to be somewhat simplistic since I did not look at exit polls to determine who did what and why. It should give some idea of what went on though. Not counting vote fraud.

    Obama 3,597,456
    Keyes 1,390,690

    Total 4,988,146

    ===

    Kerry 2,891,550
    GBush 2,345,946

    Total 5,237,946

    Let me start with the undervote. 249,800 more people (probably Republicans just to make things simple) voted in the Kerry/Bush (K/B) race than in the Obama/Keyes (O/K) race. Probably Republicans who couldn't stand either candidate.

    So let us see how that looks for O/K. If we subtract Kerry from Obama we get 705,906. That means (roughly) that 705,906 Republican voters voted for the Communist over the Socon. I was one of them. It was a protest vote by me against the R party for putting a socon on the ballot who was running on a Theocon platform.

    So am I against socons? NO. I support Sarah Palin nationally and Doug Hoffman in NY23. Why? Hoffman is running on a strictly fiscal responsibility platform with NO Culture War issues. And Sarah Palin Governed Alaska on a fiscal responsibility/anti-corruption platform.

    So what about the Theocons? The American Taliban is rather apt. Not in terms of the culture they want to enforce but in the fact that they want to enforce culture.

    My attitude? On social issues the socons should lead by example not government force. The persuasion of Jesus is better than the sword of Rome. If you are trying to get votes.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:32 AM | Comments (4)



    Obama Poison In Texas

    Libertarian Republican reports.

    Libertarian Republican has just learned that 73 elected officials on the county level throughout Texas have just switched, are in the process of switching, and will be switching by the end of the week, from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party. The news comes to us from Bryan Preston, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Texas out of Austin.
    And the reason given?
    "Obama's name is becoming poison here in Texas."
    Well Nancy Pelosi said that 2010 would be a tough year for Democrats. What she wasn't counting on was that 2009 might not be so hot either.

    So what about these new Republicans? Opportunists. Still. It does tell us where the opportunity lies. At least in Texas.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)




    Victory for laissez faire?

    In what seems a mini referendum on government economic policies, the Democrats lost big in Virginia, and in New Jersey Governor Corzine lost to Chris Christie, despite the personal intervention of President Barack Obama in both races. Like most people, New Jerseyans don't seem to take kindly to personal insults, and I think it proved to be an unforgivable error for Corzine to have ridiculed his opponent's personal appearance. (If I lived in NJ, I'd have voted for Christie for that reason alone.)

    As to the race which so many people are watching (NY-23), in what is described as "not good news for political junkies," there may not be final results any time soon because of scanner problems:

    This is not good news for political junkies hoping to get a winner in New York's 23rd Congressional District before bedtime: There are voting machine problems in St. Lawrence County, one of the more populous areas in the district.

    The Watertown Daily Times says there are problems with the new scanners that read the ballots in the towns of Louisville, Waddington, Rossie and Clare.

    "We may not have results from those towns tonight," St. Lawrence County Board of Elections Deputy Commissioner Thomas Nichols told the paper.

    St. Lawrence County accounted for 41,000 votes -- about 17% of the total -- in the 2008 congressional election.

    Public opinion polls suggested that tonight's race between Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens would be close. The polls closed at 9 p.m. ET in New York.

    And so far, Ann Arbor has nothing to report either. (Not that this is a blog for Ann Arborites, but I do live here.)

    So in terms of the big nationally watched elections, there's really nothing for me to report or "live blog" -- other than to remark the obvious fact that if this is a test of the national mood, the Democrats are not holding up well.

    As to social issues, I think it's worth noting that so far, this appears to have been a good night for gay rights. According to John Aravosis, a gay rights ordinance in Kalamazoo, Michigan is passing:

    ...65 percent of Kalamazoo voters have approved Ordinance 1856 by a vote of 6,463 to 3,527, adding protections for gay and transgender people to the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.
    And in what could be a historic first, Maine voters are (so far) surprisingly close to approving same sex marriage:
    Voters had to decide whether to repeal or affirm a state law that would allow gay couples to wed. The law was passed by the Legislature in May but never took effect because of a petition drive by conservatives.

    Early returns showed a close contest, as had been forecast. With 70 of 608 precincts reporting, the gay-marriage side had 53 percent to 47 percent for the other side.

    A vote to uphold the law would mark the first time that the electorate in any state endorsed gay marriage. That could energize activists nationwide and blunt conservative claims that same-sex marriage is being foisted on states by judges or lawmakers over the will of the public.

    Bear in mind that none of these results are final.

    It's a mixed bag, but if I had to venture an interpretation based on what I've seen so far, I'd say things are looking pretty good for economic and social laissez faire.

    MORE: The Ann Arbor measure to increase property taxes I blogged about earlier is failing by a fairly wide margin.

    Even in ultra liberal Ann Arbor, voters don't like tax increases.

    Democrats take note!

    AND MORE: According to the Washington Examiner, Owens is beating Hoffman in NY-23:

    In New York's 23rd Congressional District, Democrat Bill Owens had a substantial lead over Conservative Doug Hoffman.
    Ditto, NY Daily News:
    ...in NY-23, Democrat Bill Owens is peforming a lot better than expected. Thirty-one percent of precincts are reporting and he's leading Conservative Doug Hoffman, 51.1 percent to 43.9 percent.

    This despite Monday's Siena poll that found Hoffman leading by five percent with 18 percent undecided.

    Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, whose name is still on the ballot despite the fact that she ended her campaign last Saturday and threw her support to Owens Sunday, is receiving 5 percent of the vote.

    The mood here at the Hotel Saranac is grim - at best. There's a lot of muttering going on and worried phone calls being placed.

    Although I had misgivings about Hoffman's social conservatism, it's clear that Scozzafava was not a Republican in any way, not even economically.

    Hmmm...

    Perhaps the voters had had it with all the national hype, and finally decided they'd rather just vote for a Democrat who said he was a Democrat rather than be dragged against their will into a much-hyped "referendum" on a "bloody Republican civil war" they never asked to fight.

    If you think about it, it is a way of voting against the incumbency. (The outside media incumbency, that is...)

    Maybe even an act of leave-us-the-hell-alone laissez faire.

    MORE: Same sex marriage now appears to be losing in Maine:

    With 69 percent of precincts reporting, roughly 51.8 percent of voters had voted in favor of rejecting the same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature earlier this spring. Roughly 48.2 percent of voters had voted no on Question 1.
    Frankly, I'm surprised it's this close, and I'd have been amazed if it won. Just a few years ago, the vote could easily have been expected to be 70-30 against gay marriage.

    CORRECTION (11/04/09): I was mistaken in last night's analysis of the Ann Arbor election results. While WWISD PROPOSAL I (the property tax increase) did in fact fail, it failed county-wide, but appears that a majority of Ann Arbor voters favored it. (I have not done the totals, but I can see that it only lost in one precinct, and lost among the absentee voters.)

    AND MORE: I am glad to see I am not alone in my thoughts about what might have happened in NY-23. Here's Don Surber:

    In choosing Democrat Bill Owens over Conservative Doug Hoffman, perhaps the people of the district were telling outsiders to butt out.
    Via Glenn Reynolds.

    AND EVEN MORE: Speaking of not being alone in my thoughts, don't miss Roger L. Simon's analysis!

    In a year where the GOP racked up a 20% margin in Virginia and coasted easily in Jersey, a state in which Obama romped in '08 by 16%, what was the problem?

    Well... I might as well say it... social conservatism. America is a fiscally conservative country - now perhaps more than ever, and with much justification - but not a socially conservative one. No, I don't mean to say it's socially liberal. It's not. It's socially laissez-faire (just as its mostly fiscally laissez-faire). Whether we're pro-choice, pro-life or whatever we are, most of us want the government out of our bedrooms, just as we want it out of our wallets.

    Hoffman's capital-C Conservative campaign, however, tried to separate itself from the majority parties by making a big deal of the social issues. He was all upset that Scozzafava was pro-gay marriage, seemingly as upset as he was with her support for the stimulus plan. He projected the image of a bluenose in a world that increasingly doesn't want to hear about these things. Hoffman's is a selective vision of the nanny state - you can nanny about some things but not about others. I suspect America deeply dislikes nannying about anything.

    Truer words were never spoken.

    However, I think the opponents of laissez faire will simply gear up for the next battle.

    posted by Eric at 10:28 PM | Comments (6)



    I was almost misled by the fear-mongering tactics of Bush's Ann Arbor bureaucrats!

    As today is Election Day, I thought that as a public service message, I'd remind everyone to vote.

    I just did, and the only issue of any importance here in Ann Arbor is a proposal for a double digit property tax increase. Ann Arbor already has the highest property taxes in the state, but that's not enough for the tax guzzling bureaucrats, who say they need more money for the schools.

    I voted NO, but only because there wasn't a choice that said "HELL NO!"

    In marked contrast to last November (when it took me two hours to vote) the polls were nearly empty today. Whether that means that raising taxes is not a hot-button issue, I don't know. Certainly I saw no Tea Party anti-tax demonstrators anywhere, but that doesn't mean there isn't any opposition to the tax millage. There is, but as Ann Arbor is a very left wing town, opposition to tax hikes is marketed via a cleverly packaged attack on Bush. No, I am not kidding:

    Several groups have organized to defeat the millage, but taking the lead is the Citizens for Responsible School Spending, spearheaded by former AAPS board member Kathy Griswold and Ted Annis, a technology entrepreneur who's on the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.

    "Fear-mongering"

    Speaking to The Chronicle just before a meeting of CRSS on Sunday afternoon, Griswold characterizes the rhetoric of millage advocates as misleading and fear-mongering, likening it to the tactics that former president George W. Bush used to drum up support for the war in Iraq. She says the per-pupil amounts are misleading, too, and that per-pupil funding for AAPS is much higher - over $12,000 per pupil, not the $9,723 figure that's quoted by the district. She calculates that amount by taking the district's most recent audited financials (from the 2007-08 fiscal year) with general fund revenues of $192 million, dividing that by the number of students in the district, and adding another $1,500 per pupil from revenues of the sinking fund and bond millages.

    I wouldn't have said that, but hey, whatever tactic works, I guess.

    I'm glad I read that after I voted, though. Because, over the years I became so conditioned by years of kneejerk anti-Bush attacks that I might have been tricked into voting for the millage by mistake!

    Instead, I voted against the millage without knowing that I was actually voting against Bush's misleading, fear mongering tactics!

    Hope I did the right thing.

    These days, you have to be careful!

    posted by Eric at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)



    Al Gore, Soon-To-Be Billionaire?

    The combination of Gaia worship, agitprop and rent-seeking pays very well indeed.

    So, given that Gore is reaping huge rewards, doesn't this call into question just a teensy bit the objectivity of his business partner James Hansen, the man NASA has administering the numbers telling us how much the climate is allegedly warming (when he's not busy comparing coal trains to Auschwitz or getting arrested outside power plants)?

    I mean, if warmies can get upset at a mere $10,000 "blood money" in funding for anti-AGW research, how much outrage is a billion dollars worth?

    Quoth the Goracle:

    "Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?" Mr. Gore said. "I am proud of it. I am proud of it."

    Somewhere Milton Friedman is shaking his fist and Friedrich Hayek is vomiting. Advocating quasi-religious laws that get your companies fat contracts is not business, it's rent-seeking, and Al Gore is Chief Glazier in the Church of Broken Windows.

    UPDATE: You thought I was kidding about the religious angle, didn't you?

    Al's Gore's much-anticipated sequel to An Inconvenent Truth is published today, with an admission that facts alone will not persuade Americans to act on global warming and that appealing to their spiritual side is the way forward.
    posted by Dave at 11:35 AM | Comments (4)



    Things that make some lives easier can make other lives more precarious

    Glenn Reynolds raises the unsettling question of whether there's a bad driving gene. I have long suspected there's some explanation along such lines, but it now appears that there's some scientific evidence for it:

    People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it - and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.

    "These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away," said Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

    Randall Parker has an additional observation which ought to be of concern for those who want the government to stay out of people's lives:
    We are not all as well adapted genetically to industrialized civilization. This one gene, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), is just one of many genes where we differ from each other in our ability to handle the many products and environmental niches we've created with industrialization. Some people can't handle beer or cocaine or addictive drugs. Some other people can't handle the sleep deprivation made easier by Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb. Still others can't handle easy access to online gambling or online porn.
    Fortunately, I can say never mind whether some people can handle easy access to guns better than others -- because the Second Amendment treats all citizens as adults in the theoretical and moral sense.

    But there is no right to drive. So, if we assume the bad driving gene goes along with a genetic inability to "handle the many products and environmental niches we've created with industrialization," it strikes me as commonsensical that the people with the bad driving gene ought to have the simple human decency not to compound their predicament by using cell phones while driving.

    However, I think it is an undeniable fact that there are some people who can. As I discussed in an earlier post (prompted by my frustration over the usual idiots who are unable to talk on a cell phone while driving) even at the height of the 1970s CB radio craze, no one ever proposed banning the use of CB radios by drivers, and I think this was because their users tended to be more mechanically inclined people. Remember, the CB radios began with truck drivers, who hold special commercial drivers licenses, and for them, talking while driving just goes with the turf. It spread from them to those drivers who so badly wanted to communicate that they would actually go out and buy a CB radio, a special antenna, and (at least in the early stages) actually get an FCC license. In those days, cell phones ("car phones") were big, bulky, permanently-wired affairs, not the sort of thing anyone could carry around, and expensive to use. Eventually they made CB radios revert to something only truckers who wanted to talk to other truckers would want.

    The point is, everyone has a cell phone now, even kids who are too young to drive. Here in the heavy student areas of Ann Arbor, I've noticed that some young people are incapable of even walking safely while using their phones. I have had them walk right in front of me, eyes riveted to tiny screens while I slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them.

    Things have gotten to the point where in almost every situation where I'm amazed and baffled by the degree of utter incompetence behind the wheel, it turns out that the driver is lost in some sort of mental process while using a cell phone. At this point, calling them "cell phones" has become less than accurate. They are multitasking gadgets that do everything including taking pictures, checking and sending email, text messages, and of course, playing whatever vast collection of music has been stored in them by the user, who has often compounded his or her visual awareness problem by blocking all incoming sounds with headphones!!

    Like I say, it's bad enough when they walk in front of you, but when they're behind the wheel, it's scary. And some of them are young women with the additional distraction of children, driving vehicles so huge that they are unaware of how much space surrounds them.

    Should there be laws?

    Based on what? Abilities? Or common sense?

    That's the problem. I try not to do things beyond my mechanical competence, and it strikes me that catching up with my email while blasting music into my ears while walking into city traffic (much less while driving) is not wise. Yet passing a law to stop people from doing such things reduces us all to the idiot level. I don't want to live in a vast national kindergarten.

    But in a free society, how is the law to distinguish between those who have this "ability to handle the many products and environmental niches we've created with industrialization" gene and those who don't? I worry that technological advances might be accelerating a social divergence which isn't really being acknowledged as it should. (Even though the idea of Future Shock is decades old.) If some people are genetically more capable of being adults, what are the implications?

    Should we just let Darwin sort it out? Or would that be antisocial? I'd hate to think that not wanting to live in a national kindergarten is antisocial.

    But on the bright side, the regulations that come on the heels of technology might a bit like the taxes that come on the heels of wealth. There would be no regulations on technology without the technology to regulate....

    Nah, scratch that! There's already a movement to regulate certain kinds of technology before it happens.

    At this rate, I will never be allowed to have sex with a robot.

    posted by Eric at 11:10 AM | Comments (10)



    A National Party

    I'm having a long conversation about the future of the Republican Party at The Other McCain. There is a lot of back and forth and if you go to the link you can follow the discussion. What I would like to present here is my conclusion. I was replying to a comment by BD.

    BD,

    Since you don't understand politics let me explain it to you. But first let me say that the Republicans have to get more in line with their fiscal conservative, limited government rhetoric.

    But there are other considerations too. The limits of what are possible for a Presidential candidate are the swing voters. How far can a candidate go and attract enough swing voters to win a national election? Or even State wide elections.

    One only need look at how social conservatives have destroyed Republican chances in California. Giving the State to Democrats who have destroyed the State. And why has Governor Arnie caved to the Democrat agenda? Well he was not very principled for one. But that is only part of the problem. He has no significant support in the legislature.

    I don't see why Republicans can't take that message to heart.

    The difficulty is that social conservatism is concentrated in the Southern United States. It may be 40% of the nation but 60 to 80% of that 40% is concentrated in the South. So the votes of social Conservatives are diluted every where else.

    That means that outside the South the Party must become more libertarian to attract the swing voters. It is just like they say in the military. You can't win wars if you can't read a map.

    And what does that mean overall? A National Party will likely be around 50% libertarian even if their percent of the party is only 30 to 40%.

    I'm against big spending RINOs. I favor libertarian Republicans (fiscally conservative, socially liberal, strong on national defence) where only they can win. You know - California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, etc. Of course it will vary for Congressmen according to the district they represent. For Statewide offices (Senators, Governors, etc.) it is more important than for some Congressional Districts.

    The party national platform should reflect that even if social conservatives are the majority of the party.

    That is a basis for a national political party. And from what I can tell so far it is Palin's strategy. She is one very smart lady. She can read a map.

    As Casey Stengel once said, "Can't anyone play this game?" Palin can. So far.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:32 AM | Comments (18)



    A demographic preference for tiredness?

    For entertainment purposes only, I thought I'd juxtapose two radically different opinions on the future of the Democratic Party.

    From WSJ's Daniel Henninger in "Why Dems Should Start to Sweat":

    ...what we are seeing with this massive legislation is that the Democrats in Washington have a bigger problem: Their party is looking so yesterday.

    In a world defined by nearly 100,000 iPhone apps, a world of seemingly limitless, self-defined choice, the Democrats are pushing the biggest, fattest, one-size-fits all legislation since 1965. And they brag this will complete the dream Franklin D. Roosevelt had in 1939.

    For an opposite view, Open Left has a piece titled "Why Republicans Should Be Really Scared," which maintains (with plenty of charts and numbers) that population demographics heavily favor the Democrats:
    Not only are non-whites a growing share of the electorate and highly likely to vote for Democrats, but both non-whites and whites are increasingly likely to vote for Democrats. Republicans are in deep doo-doo. This idea has been gaining traction over the past year, but it cannot be repeated enough.
    Is this an either or situation, or might both positions have merit?

    I mean, suppose the Democrats are tired (I think they are), and that non-whites prefer the tired politics of the past (which I hope they don't).

    To my mind, the latter might suggest that a growing number of Americans are being led instead of thinking for themselves.

    That would suck, so I'm going to hope it's wrong.

    posted by Eric at 12:34 AM | Comments (4)




    Rich putsch kitsch

    As a lot of people are sounding off about Frank Rich's latest silly column, I thought I'd chime in.

    I don't know whether he's trying to outdo himself in terms of pure buffoonery, but this time, Rich is hell-bent on proving that the conservatives who support Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 race are a bunch of "Stalinists." In a piece titled "The G.O.P. Stalinists Invade Upstate New York," he refers to a "riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war" and a "G.O.P. killing field." And later (after an embarrassing historical mismatch in which he refers to the "Hoffman putsch"), he claims conservatives are "re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode."

    It's easy to dismiss this as overwrought political hyperbole, which it is. But like a lot of hyperbole, every little bit adds more incrementally more damage to the ability to communicate. What is happening in NY-23 is democracy from in action and the political process at work. Voters like Doug Hoffman more than they like the dishonorable Dede Scozzafava, and (as appears most likely) more than they like Democrat Bill Owens. That they will elect Hoffman is the antithesis of Stalinism. Stalinism is state terrorism and murder -- directed from the top down. This is peaceful democracy from the ground up, against the tyranny at the top.

    And while Frank Rich may not realize it, no one was killed. Despite the "riotous and bloody" civil war, not one single corpse lies on the killing fields of upstate New York.

    Words and terms become useless when they're abused this way ("racism" is another example of a word which no longer means anything). My guess is that Rich (in addition to bashing conservatives) doesn't want Stalinism to mean anything.

    Yet under Stalinism, more people were killed than under any other "ism" known to man. So, aside from being inaccurate, Rich's analogy trivializes mass murder on a grand scale.

    All too easy for me to say. But I may be wrong, for the bloody Stalinist putsch will take place tomorrow, when Doug Hoffman stands poised seize power and murderously overthrow all of those democratically elected Czars.

    Would it spoil Frank Rich's fun if I venture that no one will actually be killed?

    posted by Eric at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)



    the blackening of my Pangasius hypophthalmus

    When is a catfish not a catfish?

    When it's farmed in other countries and then sold in the United States, that's when.

    I'm very much a fish eater, and because I don't like to contribute to waste if I don't have to, I often worry about the overfishing issue. For example, I love big ocean fish like ahi tuna, and I also like sharks and grouper. On the East Coast I loved it when I could get fresh New Jersey bluefish, although the latter was seasonal, and (probably because it was caught locally off the coast) it seemed to only be sold by Vietnamese vendors operating outside the normal supermarket distribution networks. It was cheaper and better than anything in the supermarkets, but harder to get. I never felt wasteful eating fresh local bluefish, because I grew up catching them, and I know them to be plentiful. Bluefish, BTW, are highly predatory, cannibalistic fish which kill what they don't eat, simply for the sake of killing. To catch them when they're really on a run, you don't even need bait; a bare hook dragged through the water will work. The wiki entry says they were once overfished, but have recovered nicely. I never noticed a bluefish shortage in New Jersey, but again, they're only caught there in the summer months, then they migrate South like people would if they had any sense.

    Here in Michigan I doubt I will ever see my precious bluefish for sale, but there are the usual large ocean fish which make it into commercial distribution. I try to buy farm-raised fish if I can, and that means catish or tilapia. I prefer the former, coated first with my homemade Cajun blackening and garlic buds.

    Anyway, not long ago I bought some fish that was labeled "swai filet" without having any idea what it was, and last night I cooked it the same way I cook catfish. Considering the amount of time it had been in my freezer, it wasn't bad at all, but I had decided to eat first, Google later, because I didn't know what on earth it might be and I didn't want to have my imagination (and possibly my appetite) influenced by faces like this staring at me:

    Monkfish_sm.jpg

    Not that I am bigoted against monkfish or any other ugly piscines, mind you. They are a gourmet treat. But then, there was also this worrisome Wiki morsel:

    In Europe and North America, the texture of the tail meat of fish of the genus Lophius, is sometimes compared to lobster tail and has been alluded to as the "poor man's lobster."[2] According to Seafood Watch, monkfish consumption raises sustainability concerns due to past overfishing (though populations are thought to be recovering) and damage to the seafloor habitat resulting from the use of trawlers and gillnets to catch this fish.
    No guilt tripping before meals! Reminds me too much of the starving-people-in-China routines that ruined many a meal of many a baby boomer in childhood.

    The "swai" tasted remarkably like catfish, and when I Googled this morning, it turned out that's just what it is. However, because they are raised in Vietnam, they are deliberately mislabeled for the American market:

    P. hypophthalmus is an important food fish and is farmed extensively in many parts of the world. It is one of the most important aquaculture species in Thailand[3] and Vietnam. Along with other farm-raised shark catfishes, it has caused much debate within the U.S., with legislation passed recently to prevent its imports from cutting into American farmed catfish sales. Prohibited to be labelled as "catfish" in the U.S., P. hypophthalmus is now labelled as "swai" (its Thai name[citation needed]), "sutchi catfish", or "striped catfish".
    It appears that the American catfish farming industry lobbied the FDA and got some old-fashioned protectionism. ("Swai" is half the price of "farm raised catfish.")

    I often condemn what I call "labeling," so I'm not sure where I come down on this. As a libertarian who believes in free trade, I'm all for more choices, and I'm open-minded enough to have no objection to buying "swai filet" not knowing what it was. I suspect many Americans would pass on buying unfamiliar fish, though. And while the name seems deliberately chosen to sound unfamiliar, from a marketing perspective it's probably more attractive than Pangasius hypophthalmus.

    After all of this, I'm sure everyone is dying to see pictures, so here's the Vietnamese "swai":

    pangasius_hypophthalmus9.jpg

    And the competition, the all-American Ictalurus punctatus:

    Ictalurus punctatus.jpg

    Hey, I just thought of something else!

    Should I feel guilty about eating commie fish?

    posted by Eric at 09:31 AM | Comments (7)




    Giving a rat's ass about a new foreign minister

    Angela Merkel was sworn in as Chancellor recently, and I have to say, I like the ho-hum attitude towards her foreign minister:

    GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel flew to Paris last night for talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on who to choose as the new EU president, a month after winning the general election and hours after her swearing in.

    Though her re-election as chancellor was seen as a formality, nine of the 332 government MPs declined to support their leader in the secret ballot, putting a dampener on her day.

    "I'm happy that 323 MPs voted for me and I have respect, too, for dissenting votes in a democracy, so all in all I'm a happy woman," said Dr Merkel afterwards.

    As was the case four years ago, her parents, Horst and Herlinde Kasner, watched the swearing in from the public gallery while her husband, Joachim Sauer, chose not to attend. Following the swearing in of new foreign minister Guido Westerwelle was his partner, Michael Mronz, a sport event manager.

    After a round of handshakes, smiles and flowers, opposition leaders got down to business. (Emphasis added.)

    In other words, no one of any importance gives a rat's ass about the sex of the new foreign minister's partner.

    I suspect that if the partner of a male U.S. Secretary of State attended his partner's swearing in, a lot of people -- on both "sides" -- would very much have given a rat's ass. That's because (unfortunately) being gay in the United States is not a personal issue as it ought to be, but a political issue.

    What I find more interesting about Westerwelle than his sex life (in which I'm about as interested as I am Chancellor Merkel's) is that he does not allow it to dictate his politics. He's against socialism:

    Westerwelle is a staunch supporter of the free market and has proposed reforms to curtail the German welfare state and deregulate German labor law. In an interview in February 2003, Westerwelle described trade unions as a "plague on our country" and said unions bosses are "the pall-bearers of the welfare state and of the prosperity in our country".[6] He has called for substantial tax cuts and smaller government, in line with the general direction of his party.
    Amazing. In Germany, being gay does not translate into supporting welfare statism.

    But in this country, being gay requires being on the left, because both sides of the damned Culture War say so. Human sexuality is political, so according to the "rules," the left is pro-gay and the right is anti-gay (or at least is supposed to be). And it does not matter whether homosexuality is chosen or innate; if you choose to be gay, you have chosen leftism, while if you're born gay, you're born into leftism.

    A lot of people on both sides want to keep it that way.

    There's a paradox here, though. I don't care about the sexuality of the German foreign minister, and I mean I really and truly couldn't care less. So if I don't care, why would I bother writing this post? I wrote it because last night someone cited the example of the new German foreign minister to illustrate the difference in attitudes between Europeans and people in the United States. I was upset, and I cited Bush's appointment of a gay ambassador, but that didn't wash, not only because an ambassador is not the same Secretary of State, but because the usual people screamed about how awful it was. So even though I don't care about the German foreign minister's sex life, I care about the fact that other people do care -- and care so deeply and passionately that they have made human sexuality a political issue.

    Identity politics simply does not work if people cease to care about the "identity" in question. See "The Depoliticization of the Dutch Gay Identity, or Why Dutch Gays Aren't Queer." What that means, of course, is that the rabid anti-gay right is the best political ally the organized gay left could have.

    Which means I should care, right?

    (I'm afraid I've touched on too many paradoxes for one post.)

    posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (2)



    Why McCain Picked Palin

    Eric Dondero of Libertarian Republican in the comments at Independent Political Report is discussing the 2008 Election. He talks about how Libertarian Candidate Bob Barr was surging in August and then explains why McCain chose Palin.

    ...why did Bob Barr get only 525,000 votes, versus the 2 to 3 million he was well on his way to garnering?

    Two words:

    SARAH PALIN!

    Ryan Christiano, top staffer for John McCain for President confirmed to me in an email when directly asked 3 months after the campaign ended, that "yes" Sarah Palin was picked largely to appeal to "libertarian voters," and to ward off Bob Barr.

    Recall Barr was polling 5 to 6% in Zogby way up til late August.

    So Sarah was very attractive to libertarian leaning voters. And if you believe the numbers she added 4 to 5% to McCain's totals. That is not insignificant.

    Look at the numbers for the Presidential race. Obama got just short of 53%. McCain got just shy of 46% of the vote. Now imagine the attitude of The WON if McCain had been down around 41 or 42%. He has been insufferable already. With that kind of difference the Zer∅ would have been impossible.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:32 PM | Comments (3)



    Dede Is A Democrat

    Dede has endorsed the Democrat the race for Representative of the New York 23rd District.

    Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence Parties' candidate for the 23rd Congressional District of New York state who suspended her campaign Saturday, announced moments ago she was throwing her support behind Democrat candidate Bill Owens rather than the Conservative Party's Doug Hoffman.

    This should make liberal media members ecstatic for the next 48 hours.

    I listened to Axelrod for a few minutes on TV this morning and he was droning on about how there was no place for Moderates in the Republican Party. Of course I wrote that off as spin. It turns out it was more than spin. It was a lie.

    There is no place for Democrats in the Republican Party. It causes a confusion in categories.

    And then there is Joe Lieberman.

    Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said Sunday that anyone supporting a government-backed health insurance plan is not only "wrong," but is jeopardizing the passage of any reform of health care.

    "I'm all for health care reform," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "We have a system that needs fixing. But we've got some more urgent problems than that, and the first most urgent is to fix our economy, to get at creating jobs again."

    Now Joe leans socialist it is true. But he knows one important thing. You can't fund all the goodies he favors without a vibrant capitalist economy.

    So would I take him as a Republican? Yep. I'd say he was more Republican than a Republican who endorses a Democrat. So who is Joe endorsing in the 2010 Elections? It looks like the same Party he endorsed for President in 2008.

    Dissecting Sen. Joseph Lieberman's motives has become a cottage industry among political commentators, especially since he staked out a high-profile stance against a government-run insurance plan put forth by Democratic leaders.

    Then Lieberman added more fuel to the critics' fire, telling ABC News he will campaign for Republicans in 2010. Lieberman is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

    I'll say this about that from a Republican point of view. With enemies like Joe who needs friends like Dede?

    H/T The Other McCain

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:11 PM | Comments (4)



    Israeli Settlers Shelter Gay Palestinian

    An Orthodox Jewish family shelters a gay Palestinian.

    Here's a wild story, courtesy of YNet. T is a gay Palestinian who for the past 10 years has been living in Israel with his partner, an Israeli Jew named Doron. A few days ago, he heard that his father was ill, and he ventured across the border into the West Bank to visit him. When he tried to return, however, the IDF told him his permit had been lost, maybe revoked. T was stuck: he couldn't go back home to Israel, and he couldn't return to his village, for fear of being murdered because he is openly gay.

    T was offered shelter by an Orthodox Jewish family, living in one of the settlements in the West Bank. Thanks to a generous, humanitarian gesture by one of those evil, nasty, gun-toting, messiah-heralding, baby-producing, Bible-thumping settlers, T has hope and room to breathe.

    You have to wonder what organizations like Queers for Palestine hope to accomplish. Of course the gay community is not monolithic on the subject.
    What makes QUIT and their slogan "Queers for Palestine" such foolish rhetoric is that these gay people's affinity for Palestine is clearly unrequited. If these "queers" want to march around with their delusional banners for Palestine then they are free to make that irrational mistake. But do they think Palestine is for them? Queers for Palestine = laughable. Palestine for queers = horrendous torture and death.
    Anti-gay bigotry in America, despicable though it is, is very mild by comparison. The difficulty is, that over time such bigotry can morph into something worse. Much worse. "Undesirables" didn't suddenly find themselves in German death camps over night. First the ground was prepared. The hate was intensified. And then the trains started rolling.
    Although many gays across the world are not members of these organizations, they basically share their views. I have met hundreds of them, whether I am home in New York or abroad in Europe. This is the frightening part -- some gay people hate Jews to the point that they are ready to unite with people who are killing their own kind to fight and protest what they consider a common enemy. They would make a pact with their own enemy, with their own murderers, against the Jewish state.

    This is what "Queers for Palestine" is for. In response, the homosexual and Jewish communities should unite against Islam; for it is the Muslims who seek the death of all gays and Jews.

    I take a look at the progression from hate to mass murder in a piece on the drug war called How To Put An End To Drug Users. Or if you prefer a book:

    Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State

    You start with hate and wind up with crimes against humanity. So does this mean I favor hate crime laws? Hell No. What I ask is that people look into their hearts.

    H/T Judith Weiss on Facebook

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:35 PM | Comments (1)



    Bringing the war home?

    When I discussed the fatal shootout between a radical Imam and the FBI, my biggest concern was with mainstream Muslim support for a violent, murderous advocate of a Sharia state in the United States. It bothers me that such a person could be considered a "respected Imam" and that he sat on the ruling council of a major Islamic organization, because the clear implication is that violent advocacy of Sharia law is now mainstream. If that's the case, then American Muslims have a problem of their own making.

    Still, I was almost inclined to believe the media spin that this Imam (who bragged that he was a terrorist) was a case of homegrown terrorism. I would have been wrong in light of more recent developments in the case.
    International
    developments:

    Two Windsor men accused of helping finance a group of fundamentalist Muslims in metro Detroit charged with conspiracy and other federal crimes, were apprehended without incident by Canadian police Saturday after two days on the run.

    Yassir Ali Khan, 30, and Mohammad Alsahli, 33, also known as Muhammad Palestine or Mohammad Philistine, were arrested at about 8 a.m. at separate locations by officers with the Windsor Police department and an Immigration Task Force led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to the FBI and Windsor police.

    Calling them "Windsor men" is a bit disingenuous. Khan is a common Pakistani name, and as to Alsahli, who knows? I doubt they're Canadians, or else why would the RCMP's Immigration Task Force be involved?

    While Windsor is right across the bridge from Detroit, the fact that they're in Canada means that the incident can no longer be called strictly "home-grown."

    Meanwhile, the radical Imam was called a "martyr" at his funeral service, which drew mourning Muslims who were not only from other American cities, but from other countries:

    The crowd was primarily African -American, but included Muslims with roots in Asian countries, Iran, the Balkans, and the Arab world. In keeping with Islamic custom, the service was simple and featured a short funeral prayer known as janazah.

    Speakers stressed that life and death are ultimately up to God.

    "All power is in Allah's hands," said Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, a Muslim leader who heads the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in New York City and was a leader along with Abdullah with the Muslim Alliance in North America.

    Far from distancing themselves from this man (who advocated death to "kuffars") they praised him gushingly:
    Abdur-Rashid, a leader with the alliance, said during the funeral that Abdullah was an example of a good Muslim.

    "Imam Luqman had faith and constantly strived to righteous deeds," Abdur-Rashid said. "Imam Luqman had the consciousness, taqwa,...I never heard him discuss any subject whatsoever, even sports, without talking about Allah."

    He called Abdullah a martyr, saying that "those who disbelieve among the people of the book, and among the polytheists, will be in hellfire, to dwell in there forever. They are the worst of creatures."

    Abdur-Rashid also asked God to help the Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya, and the U.S.

    In Canton, other speakers urged Muslims to stay united despite attempts to divide them. Federal authorities used undercover informants in a 2-year investigation of Abdullah and his followers, according to a criminal complaint. The use of informants by the FBI has been a source of contention between Muslims and the agency over the past year.

    Still, Muslim leaders reminded mourners that the death of Abdullah should not be seen solely as a tragedy because Abdullah was on his way to heaven.

    "It's a very blessed time," said one speaker at the burial in Canton. "Imam Luqman is having a blessed time...We are here to pray for our brother...remember the good that he stood for."

    "He stood for solid faith... He was committed to his beliefs."

    Yet we are told not to "imply that faith has anything to do with it."

    Sorry, but as usual I'm not getting it, and I have a question.

    How can his faith not have had anything to do with it, when his followers explicitly and repeatedly state that his faith had everything to do with it?

    Under the circumstances, I find myself wondering whether the general area around here (namely Standish, MI -- less than two hours drive north) is the best place in the world to relocate the Gitmo detainees.

    Yesterday's dramatic FBI shootout in Dearborn resulting in the killing of the leader of a violent Islamist separatist movement underscores some of the serious risks that could jeopardize Americans should the Guantanamo Bay detainees be relocated to US soil.

    "The FBI should be praised for its heroic actions in striving to protect the American people. At the same time, yesterday's events should serve as a wake-up call to the people of Michigan and the rest of the United States to demonstrably reject the transfer of Gitmo detainees to American soil," said Dr. Peter Leitner, a national expert on terrorism and prison radicalization who testified before the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago.

    "These FBI raids boldly underscore the grave dangers posed to the citizens of Michigan if the Administration decides to transfer the world's most dangerous terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the state prison in Standish," Leitner said. Standish is located only about two hours from the FBI raids in Dearborn.

    Leitner warned of the threats of "terrorism and violence that will result if known terrorists are brought to Michigan, galvanizing their supporters and targeting the United States." Leitner served within the Department of Defense for 21 years as a terror specialist and is president of the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center. He was in Michigan two weeks ago to brief state lawmakers and to address town halls sponsored by the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North on the security, economic and legal risks inherent in the relocation of Gitmo detainees to our state.

    Leitner said the extent to which the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the US would further contribute to prison radicalization and homegrown terrorism is largely underappreciated by the general public.

    Naturally, the city of Standish is now concerned enough that they've pulled the welcome mat on the idea, and I don't blame them. The general area of Detroit (especially Dearborn, aka "Dearbornistan" to some) -- especially its proximity to Canada -- makes the idea of bringing the most dangerous al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners we have ever captured all the way from Guantanamo to here sound downright foolhardy, and raises national security concerns of the sort that would not arise in more distant places.

    If I could vote on the issue, I'd vote no to bringing them here. As it is, the area has enough problems with "respected Imams" who are home-grown even though they aren't, and whose faith we can't imply has anything to do with their actions even though they say it does...

    Sometimes I worry that denial is contagious.

    posted by Eric at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)




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