Sweetening the pot -- NOT!

Lest anyone think that only the mean old Republicans are Drug Prohibitionists, I just learned about another ridiculous anti-drug law that must have passed while I was asleep. At least one one blogger is complaining about it, and because he's a leftie, I thought I should add my two cents worth.

Anyway, thanks to the hard work of the gun-and-sudafed-grabbing Dianne Feinstein, the federal government is launching a new crackdown. They are doubling the penalties for marijuana brownies!

Last night the United States Senate voted to double the penalties for the nation's newest existential threat: brownies made with marijuana!

The Senate unanimously passed Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)'s "Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act of 2009″ (S. 258) that targets pot brownies and other marijuana edibles preferred by some medical marijuana patients. The bill next moves to the House; if it passes that chamber, anyone making pot brownies or similar products could be subject to double the fines and jail time for regular marijuana.

This bill's passage marks a step backwards for Congress, which this week also passed the Fair Sentencing Act that reduced the sentencing disparities between cocaine and crack from 100:1 to 18:1. Now we have a new disparity: pot brownies and other marijuana edibles are now treated as something twice as bad as just distributing marijuana.

That's fascinating, for several reasons.

First, eating any substance is almost always less harmful to the human body than smoking it, and many medical marijuana patients should not be putting any form of smoke in their lungs. So why make it harder for them? Might the timing of this bill be intended to send them a message?

Feinstein (who vehemently opposed medical marijuana in California) claims the target of the bill is "candy flavored meth," but the bill's language is broad:

Marijuana prohibitionists often hide behind vague threats to children, and DiFi's bill is no different. Her "Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act" is framed to make politicians afraid to oppose. "How dare you voted against saving kids from dangerous drugs?"

But DiFi doubled down on the "Reefer Madness"-style hysteria. In championing this bill, Feinstein raised the spectre of "candy flavored meth" as the target of her bill. Something tells me that once, sometime, somewhere, someone claimed to have found candy-flavored meth, probably cut with pixie stix. DiFi ran with this to cover for her true target: marijuana edibles.

Naturally, it's being done for THE CHILDREN!
Really? Pot Brownies?

Yep. While DiFi's public line was all "candy flavored meth," the bill is written broadly enough that pot brownies and other marijuana edibles can be grouped into the law. She mentioned marijuana products in her support of the legislation, of course, but she sought to distract....

While the law says that the sweetened controlled substance has to be intended for "a person under 18 years of age," how is such an intent to be determined? By the sweetness, obviously! That's the way the prosecutors will interpret it.

The war on added sweetness is broader in scope than Feinstein's latest federal manifestation.

Adding sweeteners to any evil product makes them twice as evil! See my earlier post about prohibition of sweetened "girlie drinks" and "kiddie booze.". And in New York, they are trying to ban candy cigarettes!

State law is one thing, but what has long perplexed me about the federal law is from where does the constitutional power to ban substances arise? Why is it that when alcohol was prohibited, they had to amend the Constitution to create the power, but with drugs, no one seemed to bother? The difference between one substance and another is not of constitutional dimension, so what gives? And if the federal government has the power to criminalize what you possess in your home (or grow in your yard), then why couldn't they also prohibit growing tobacco?

Or simply prohibit candy?

People who think the federal government has no power to take over health care might want to think about such threshold constitutional issues.

Can rights that are lost ever be regained?

MORE: For linking the same piece that I did, Ann Althouse is getting flak in the comments:

Althouse is going to lose cred w/ the natives w/ links like that. What's next; HuffPo and Dkos?
Another genius wants to know about her reading habits:
Do you read FireDogLake regularly?
Look, I don't like FireDogLake any more than I like a lot of the sites I link. What mattered to me here was the fact of the legislation; not the political philosophy of the site that editorialized about it.

I think I found the link at Memeorandum, but I can link any story I want from wherever I want whenever I want.

(Of course, I've even been accused of "hate linking", and that didn't stop me...)

MORE: Jacob Sullum has more on the law, which he thinks could be applied to brownies.

On one hand, brownies are baked goods, not candy. On the other hand, they contain chocolate, which is a kind of candy, and it is "combined with" the cannabis. Perhaps the crucial criterion will be the brownie's consistency: If it's caky, it's a baked good; if it's chewy, it's essentially fudge, which is candy. (If you think a drug offender's punishment couldn't possibly hinge on such an arbitrary distinction, recall that it took Congress more than two decades to address the equally senseless distinction between smoked and snorted cocaine--and even then, it shrank the gap instead of eliminating it.)

Already I have put more thought into this bill than its two chief sponsors, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), did.

Perhaps the idea is to pass it now, and think about it later!

posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)

"freedom to think what they want to think"

Anyone who thinks that Andrew Breitbart is the inflexible and rigid "authoritarian" that John Dean says he is should read his Newsweek interview:

If Sherrod wanted to meet with you, what would you tell her?

I'd have a long discussion with her, and I'd tell her that I'm not one of these people in this country that thinks racism doesn't exist. And that I'm not one of these people who says that she hasn't suffered from racism. And that the scars of her racism aren't warranted. But I'd also tell her that my passion in life and my political trajectory from left to right was born from watching the Clarence Thomas hearings. I didn't understand how he NAACP sat on its hands while privileged white gentlemen hammered him mercilessly and humiliated him and the media and the NAACP allowed for it to happen.

What do you say to people who call you a racist?

I'll tell them that this weekend I'm going to the Uni-Tea minority-based Tea Party in what was a preplanned event long before this. I'm going to tell the crowd that their investment in the American experiment of limited government and individual rights, that their stance on those worthwhile ideals is going to save this country. I have no bigger goal than to eradicate racism, to grant Americans who have a different color of skin the right to disagree against the left's style of orthodoxy.

So your broader effort is to tap the minority vote that historically has been helpful to Democrats?

Yes. It may be a task that's so Herculean, but I think it's a worthy goal to try to open up America to individuals who just so happen to have a different skin color, that they have every right and every freedom to think what they want to think. That's my battle, it's my goal.

It's my goal too!

Breitbart has touched on something very important, and it has long been one of my pet peeves about identity politics. Regardless of whether you're liberal, conservative, libertarian, communitarian, religious, atheist, if you are not allowed to think what you think about a given issue, then you are simply less than a free citizen. I have repeatedly argued that to the extent gays are not free to take whatever positions they want on issues, they are second-class citizens, and to see Breitbart saying essentially the same thing about black people confirms in my mind that not only is he not a racist, but he's about as far from being a racist as it's possible to be.

For the umpteenth time, if you don't have the freedom to make up your mind independently, you are less than a free citizen.

I wrote this post because I think Breitbart's remarks will be spun by the left only as a sort of shilling for the cause black conservatism, for he obviously supports black conservatives, and the left is very threatened by that.

But that would be wrong, for it misses the larger (and even more threatening to the left) issue of citizens being free to make up their own minds.

(No minor point. I've been carping about it for over seven years....)

UPDATE: Thanks to Memeorandum for the link!

posted by Eric at 10:36 PM | Comments (2)

A surprising and hopefully sincere apology

In the comments to Dave's earlier post about Shirley Sherrod's remark that Andrew Breitbart wants to enslave black people, I was unable to resist making a couple of remarks:

If she really believes that Andrew Breitbart wants to enslave black people, she isn't merely a racist, she's mentally deranged.

OTOH if she doesn't really believe it, that means she's dishonest and despicable.

Then, after Gringo said,
The more she talks, the more Breitbart is right for posting that video.
I couldn't resist an offhanded sarcastic remark:
And you'd think maybe Anderson Cooper might ask her whether she's serious.
Maybe my cynicism is showing, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that Anderson Cooper would apologize.

But apologize he did:

COOPER: I interviewed Shirley Sherrod last Thursday. And in the course of that interview, I failed to do something that I should have. I believe in admitting my mistakes. I looked at the interview again today, and Ms. Sherrod said during that interview that she thought Mr. Breitbart was a racist. She said, quote, "I think he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery." She went on to say she believed his opposition to President Obama was based on racism. Now, she, of course, is free to believe whatever she wants, but I didn't challenge her that night and I should have.

I don't want anyone on my show to get away with saying things which cannot be supported by facts. I should have challenged her on what facts she believes supports that accusation. That's my job, and I didn't do it very well in that interview, and I'm sorry about it. If I get a chance to talk to her again, I will.

Well good for Anderson Cooper. Assuming he meant it, the apology is much to his credit, and after my earlier comment, I can't ignore it.

When I am wrong, I try to apologize. If an apology is honest, I don't see it as a sign of weakness.

(That "never apologize" mindset is best left to activist ideologues like John Kerry and Jane Fonda. Some activists regard apologies not only as weakness, but as blood in the water.)

posted by Eric at 09:41 PM | Comments (4)

To the authoritarian ruling class, dissenters are "authoritarians"!

What is authoritarianism? I normally think it means something along these lines:

Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is opposed to individualism and democracy. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political power is concentrated in a leader or leaders, typically unelected, who possess exclusive, unaccountable, and arbitrary power.[1][2]
That's an easy enough definition. Submission to and respect for authority. Authority from above. In other words, authoritarians believe that people should be told what to think and what to do. Obviously, such a mindset is not limited to any particular political ideology, right?

To some people, apparently it is. A number of years ago, some influential leftists attempted to redefine authoritarianism. They came up with a new psychological term called "the Authoritarian Personality:

The authoritarian personality is an influential theory of personality developed by University of California, Berkeley psychologists, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford and the German emigre sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno, in their 1950 book of the same name. The personality type is defined by nine traits that were believed to cluster together as the result of psychodynamic, childhood experiences. These traits are conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sexuality (sexual repression).[1] In brief, the authoritarian is predisposed to follow the dictates of a strong leader and traditional, conventional values.
While that list was compiled by people on the left, just try asking whose authority they are talking about. Whose conventions? Whose superstitions? Whose projectivity? Whose exaggerated concerns over which "sexuality"? Whose "values"?

And which strong leader?

Needless to say, over the years, the biased left-wing theory has developed numerous cracks:

Soon after the publication of The Authoritarian Personality, the theory became the subject of many criticisms. Theoretical problems involved the psychoanalytic interpretation of personality, and methodological problems focused on the inadequacies of the F-scale. Another criticism is that the theory of the Berkeley group insinuates that authoritarianism exists only on the right of the political spectrum. As a result, some have claimed that the theory is corrupted by political bias. Kreml found that the anti-authoritarian personality had the same personality characteristics as the authoritarian personality[2].

After extensive questionnaire research and statistical analysis, Altemeyer found that only three of the original nine hypothesized components of the model correlated together: authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism.[3]

The Medical Dictionary defines the personality thusly:
A personality pattern reflecting a desire for security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority, a conventional set of values or outlook, a demand for unquestioning obedience, and a tendency to be hostile toward or use as scapegoats individuals of minority or nontraditional groups.
To illustrate how that could be applied to the now-dominant left wing, let's break it down.

desire for security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority

Easy. Just look at the ruling class elite which controls the bureaucracy, the media, academia, and even much of the entertainment industry.

a conventional set of values or outlook

What could be more conventional than the current regime of rigidly enforced cult of political correctness?

a demand for unquestioning obedience

Intolerance of dissent is a hallmark of the ruling class; witness the clamor for government censorship, calls for classifying people with anti-government views as "terrorists," routine censorship by media, censorship in academia, and even physical attacks by government-supporting political thugs.

a tendency to be hostile toward or use as scapegoats individuals of minority or nontraditional groups

That certainly depends on who is defining minority or nontraditional, doesn't it? I am not what anyone would call a "Christian conservative," but considering the way they are often treated, I certainly would not want to be one on a college campus today. Nor would I expect to be published if I were writing a book, nor expect to ever see my book ever being made into a film. I would expect hostility, and I would expect to be blamed by the left for a whole host of ills. But I don't need to be a conservative Christian to know that; in most liberal circles nowadays, "libertarian" has become a dirty word. "We" and the "climate we created" are responsible for the banking scandal which led to the collapse of the economy! Had the reigning leftists been in charge then, we might have been stopped.

Sounds like scapegoating and hostility to me. Yet the authoritarians who engage in such scapegoating think the term "authoritarian personality" only applies to the enemy!

And the enemy consists of all who disagree with them.

John Dean is a leading liberal mouthpiece for the "only conservatives can be authoritarians" position (see my discussion of his thesis here and here).

In one of his latest diatribes, he has gone after Andrew Breitbart, whom he not only calls a "jackass," but an "authoritarian." He urges Shirley Sherrod to sue Breitbart, whom he psycho-diagnoses with all the professionalism and finesse of Andrei Vyshinsky at a Soviet Show trial:

Sherrod should be advised (and I say this based on a lot of personal experience) that conservatives like Breitbart will not play nicely merely because they have been taken to court. These authoritarian personalities, and those who share their thinking, go ballistic when confronted with legal actions. They resist being held accountable, and feel particularly threatened by legal actions. What Breitbart will do if Sherrod files a lawsuit against him is to quickly create a legal defense fund, with the support and financing of like-thinking conservatives, and he will hire as nasty an attorney as is available in his tribe. Soon, he will be using the legal process to harass Sherrod by digging into every inch of her life, and perhaps even countersuing Sherrod for claims as to which she has no knowledge. It will be ugly, and she must plan on several years of intense unpleasantness.

Breitbart, it is clear, is not backing down. Authoritarians never do. He refuses to explain where he got the edited video clip of Sherrod, and he is not apologizing. This is standard authoritarian behavior. To the contrary, he is continuing to attack Sherrod, along with his larger target, the NAACP. He claims that he is sorry that she got messed over by the Obama Administration and the NAACP, but he is not letting up on his race- baiting. He would no doubt celebrate a lawsuit -- until he lost it, and then would claim, in fact, that he had won. Andrew Breitbart doubtless loves all the publicity he is getting, for authoritarians feel no shame, and they become so swept up in their self-righteousness, that they believe they are doing the world a favor.

If not backing down and not apologizing constitute "authoritarianism," then not only are all left-wing activists authoritarians, but so are most of the great civil rights leaders, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandi.

Problem is, even if I bend over backwards, I just can't see things like refusing to go to the back of the bus as "authoritarian" behavior.

Or how about refusing to obey illegal and unconstitutional commands by police?

his story and many more like it are becoming increasingly common as authorities seek -- often against their own stated regulations -- to smother photography in public places under the blanket of "security"; a rubric that exempts them from explaining how it is that pictures of cityscapes and landmarks that have been photographed thousands of times before are so threatening that they must be prohibited.

Jim Dwyer's About New York column on Wednesday, "Picture This, and Risk Arrest," concerned the arrest by the Amtrak police of Duane P. Kerzic, for taking pictures of a train pulling into Pennsylvania Station, and of Robert Taylor, by the New York Police Department, for taking pictures on a subway platform in the Bronx.

On Monday, in "Freedom of Photography: Police, Security Often Clamp Down Despite Public Right," The Washington Post documented many instances in which photographers drawn to federal buildings, bridges, trains or airports have been treated as potential terrorists. In a sidebar, "Caught With a Camera," The Post also published examples of 10 photographs that had drawn official interdiction.

Who are the "authoritarians" here? The self appointed enforcers of made-up "laws" which exist only on their say-so? Or those who refuse to go along with them?

Does refusing to submit to authority constitute "authoritarianism"? Or is the term being redefined by people who are threatened by simple disagreement?

Might it just be that by his refusal to submit to politically correct tyranny, Andrew Breitbart is actually the antithesis of an authoritarian? And that those calling for his head (like John Dean and his ilk) are in fact the real authoritarians?

Via Glenn Reynolds, John Hinderaker looks at the refusal of a publisher to print Andrew Klavan's book, in which "the protagonist is a conservative Christian," and "the liberal media is a sort of collective villain," and asks,

...do liberals try to silence their opponents because of an inherent authoritarian tendency, or merely because they are losing the argument? I think it's a combination of the two.
It's a combination of both, except the combination is not a distinction, because according to the left's own definition, the inability to accept losing an argument is a hallmark of authoritarianism!

Andrew Klavan explains what happened to him at the hands of French authoritarians, of whom he is reminded by the Journolistas:

The book's French cancellation is, I realize, a rather small cultural event. Yet it gives specific color to the recent revelations on the Daily Caller website that left-wing journalists conspired to suppress scandals that might harm Barack Obama and to the brouhaha over Breitbart's online release of a video that resulted in a government worker's momentarily losing her job. In both stories, one thing leaps out at me: everywhere, the Left favors fewer voices and less information, and conservatives favor more. Everywhere, the Left seeks to disappear its opposition, whereas the Right is willing to meet them head-on.

Take the e-mails that the Daily Caller obtained from the now-defunct lefty Web service Journolist. Never mind the personal or psychological implications of a radio producer who lovingly imagines Rush Limbaugh's death or a law professor who doesn't know that the FCC has no power to deprive Fox News of a license or a reporter who wants to smear Fred Barnes and other right-wing commentators as racist in order to distract the public from the hateful radicalism of Jeremiah Wright, then Obama's pastor. The point is not these people's animus or ignorance or wickedness. The point is that what they desired was not victory in open debate but silence--the silence of censorship, intimidation, or the grave.

Once again, (sorry to be repetitive), silencing the opposition -- whether by censorship, intimidation, lawsuits, or the grave -- is classic authoritarianism.

Klavan mentions the attempt to scapegoat Breitbart:

And what about Breitbart? Did he, like many a daily journalist before him, momentarily put speed over full context in releasing an NAACP video? Perhaps. But Breitbart is the grassroots nemesis of vast media conglomerates that continually and purposefully ignore, suppress, and distort information unfriendly to their ideology: release and disclosure are his reasons for being. Breitbart routinely breaks important stories that the mainstream media won't touch.
And of course, now that Breitbart has threatened those who believe in "security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority," who share "a conventional set of values or outlook and who demand unquestioning obedience, they have become extremely hostile toward him and they seek to make him a scapegoat. That's what the authoritarians of the left want to do to those of us who belong to the minority or nontraditional groups (Tea Party anyone?) which dissent.

And if you refuse to submit to their tyranny, why, you're an authoritarian!

Sheesh. At the rate things are going, pretty soon people who just want to be left alone will be called "authoritarians."

You'd almost think they wanted the word to lose its once-plain meaning...

posted by Eric at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)

The Tea Party may have "wings," but no one can clip them!

While I don't like divisiveness or schismatic memes, as a Tea Party supporter I at least try to keep abreast of emerging patterns, and any case I am hopelessly unable to ignore new political terminology when I see it.

So I leaped into "post mode" when I read that the Michigan Tea Party movement has two "wings" -- the so-called "Santellian" wing and the co-called "Beckian" wing.

The Tea Party nationally and in Michigan is not a unified movement. Some have called it a split between the Santellian and the Beckian (as in Rick Santelli and Glenn Beck) wings of the movement. It has both Santellian- Libertarian small-government, low tax believers and cultural conservative "Beckian" anti-abortion, anti-stem cell, and anti-gay rights roots. The two wings share opposition to taxes and to the Obama administration. As is the case nationally, the Tea Party movement in Michigan does not have centralized, coordinated state-wide leadership which means that it's positions differ somewhat around the state. Although the Tea Party is quite active in the GOP primaries, it's not clear what role the movement will take in the general election in November although its supporters are likely to support GOP nominees in nearly all cases.
I think it is accurate to say that the Tea Party events do attract both libertarians and social conservatives, but what prevents this from being a "schism" in the true sense is that there's no organizational hierarchy to impose top-down positions on these issues. As I've said repeatedly, there are only three principles I have been able to identify which all true Tea Party supporters embrace unanimously:

Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets.

If libertarians and social conservatives can agree on those principles, it really does not matter how they come down on social issues, and the extent to which they disagree.

So while in the interests of disclosure I would have to admit to being a member of the "Santellian wing," I don't think it matters. The last thing I would ever advocate would be the clipping of the "Beckian" wing, and quite frankly, I think most of the "Beckians" would feel the same way about "Santellians" like me.

I am not showing up at those rallies to argue one way or another about social issues (and if anyone at a Tea Party really wanted to know what I think about social issues, I'd gently refer them to this blog rather than get into an argument).

I see the social issues not so much as divisive, but as diversionary. The divisions between libertarian and socially conservative Tea Partyers don't matter unless they cause people to divert their time from the agreed-upon principles of the Tea Party movement.

Fortunately, most of the Tea Party regulars I have seen personally know better:

What are the social issues? Abortion? Gay rights? Animal rights? People who are freaked out about the imminent collapse of the US economy have many different opinions about these issues, as I saw the last time I attended a Tea Party meeting. Two people were insisting that the local Tea Party get active in the fight against abortion, and this generated much grumbling and muttering. Finally it was pointed out that while many Tea Partiers are strongly in the pro-life camp, not all are, and that there are existing groups and organizations which are devoted to them full time. I do not doubt that there were a number of different opinions on gay rights and gay marriage in that room too.

So, it's not so much that Tea Partiers want to avoid talking about these issues or prohibit anyone from talking about them -- for anyone can talk about anything. It's just that they're savvy enough to know that if they attempt to stake out formal positions on issues which have never been Tea Party issues, they can expect raucous debates, and then no matter which side "wins," the people on the other side will no longer show up. According to the most basic math, that would mean fewer people supporting the Tea Party.

Which is probably why the left (and some on the right) promote these divisions.

If you can't control something, try to divide it.

Geez. I just realized that I referred to Tea Party supporters as both "Tea Partyers" and "Tea Partiers" in the same post. That may reflect a division in my brain!


Sometimes I wish I were too partyed partied out to care.

MORE: If I wanted to care even less I would probably need Vodka gummy bears.

(HT Glenn Reynolds, who didn't say whether he had actually tried out the recipe, much less whether they go with tea.)

posted by Eric at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

Obama's Katrina: Did Admin Policies/Incompetence Cause The Oil Spill?

It sure looks that way. Ed Morrissey cites a Center for Public Integrity report that finds the Coast Guard, whose budget was slashed by a third under Obama, so badly botched the response to the explosion (not even following their own guidelines for such responses) that their actions probably caused the rig to sink, which in turn caused the leak.

No wonder they've been wanting to "keep their boot on BP's throat." They can't blame Bush for this.

But don't worry, I'm sure they'll do a great job running the country's health care system.

posted by Dave at 09:50 AM | Comments (7)

Atomic Time

I want to tell you about a clock I bought a while back that my mate and I are very happy with. The La Crosse Technology WT-3102B 10-Inch Atomic Analog Clock.

It really isn't an atomic clock. It synchronizes with an atomic clock signal sent out by station WWVB near Boulder, Colorado. If you look at the signal strength maps you can see that the signal is the strongest in the night time hours. Which brings me to how to set up the clock.

At about ten minutes before the hour set the clock to 25 minutes before the hour and insert the battery. Your clock should be reasonably far away from electronic equipment. Especially TVs and Computers. Push the buttons as detailed in the instructions (you get the 4 American continental time zones plus a Daylight Savings on/off option). Then put your clock on an upstairs (no basements) wall that faces to or away from Boulder. When the clock gets the signal it will start spinning. You may have to wait until night to get a strong enough signal. If your building has metal sheathing (siding) the clock may only work in a window facing Boulder.

We put our clock up about 3 ft from a TV set (in a fairly strong signal area - your clock may need to be farther away) on a wall facing Boulder and have never been happier with a clock. We know what time it is to the second. And if the signal is never strong enough? The clock will work as a regular digital clock.

I have had older type atomic clocks that were much harder to set. This one is a piece of cake and I'm super happy to know what time it is. It is especially handy when daylight savings change days come as the clock adjusts automatically. No more clock fiddling to be on time.

Of course you still have to fiddle your alarm unless you have a Sony ICF-C318 Automatic Time Set Clock Radio with Dual Alarm (White). It really isn't an automatic set (WWVB radio) clock. It does adjust for daylight savings and it does have a built in back-up battery so you do not lose the time if the power goes off. The alarm itself is kind of soft, but the radio is loud enough to get you up and it is really obnoxious if you set the radio on top of a running computer. Setting the time and the alarm time are really easy with this radio. However the time does drift some (a few minutes a month). Which is why the atomic wall clock comes in handy.

Update: 31 July 2010 0300z

In the comments to this post rhhardin had a few complaints about a different model of this clock. I have not noticed any of the difficulties he mentioned. So either I was inattentive (possible) or the company fixed the problems in their later models.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:09 AM | Comments (9)

The Inertia Question

I have started a new blog called The Inertia Question. So what is it all about? That tired feeling you have in the morning before your sixth cup of coffee? No.

I explain what it is all about in my first post which I reprint here in its entirety:


This blog is dedicated to getting research done and reporting the results on the questions posed in Chapter 28 of Book 2 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

The title of that Chapter is Electromagnetic Mass. And what do you know? There is a wiki page called Electromagnetic Mass.

Those questions are over 100 years old. They are still open. I'd like to close them as best as we can. If the theories of some physicists are correct it should be possible to develop a reaction force without expending mass (rockets). That would make high speed space travel very economical. If enough force could be generated we might even be able to lift off from earth without rockets. Now wouldn't that be nice?

And suppose several different experiments are tried and results are obtained and the results are null? We will have learned something very important and may thus have to revise our conception of the universe or at least fine tune it.

I am soliciting Researchers, Research Proposals, Papers, Funding reports, Funding sources, Parts Donations, "Industry" Gossip (No ad homs - save those for the comments. I have certain minimal standards to uphold, although particularly vile comments will be deleted if I find them. My judgment on the matter is final. So if you post a really nasty comment that you particularly enjoy. Save a copy.), Schematics (use the Tiny CAD software if you want to share the data), etc.

Besides my research goals what are my monetary goals? My guess is that each experiment would cost on the order of $300,000 per year for parts, labor, lab space, etc. I think about 5 experiments with different designs would answer the general question. Then we have an engineering review if the outcome is positive and come up with a road map for further development.

I'd like to further say that I want to see any patents obtained from this research to be available for a reasonable licensing fee. Radio really took off when RCA was formed as a patent combine. Remember the first rule of business: Don't Scare Off The Customers.

And one final thing - if you know of any useful pdfs please leave a url in the comments or send me an e-mail. I want to add resources like that to the sidebar.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

Fake "Tea Party" Democratic operatives fail my smell test!

Good news.

It now appears that the fake "Tea Party" which has been attempting to qualify as an official party in Michigan (see my previous post) has not only been exposed as a fraud, but it also appears to be a fraud perpetrated by Democratic Party operatives. (Surprise!)

Michigan Capital Confidential did the research and has the complete scoop:

A tea party organizer says he has found the smoking gun that links the Democratic Party to the controversial "Tea Party" that is running candidates and seeking official ballot status in Michigan.

A "Jason Bauer" is listed on recent federal election documents and state campaign donation documents as the "political director" of the Oakland County Democratic Party. A "Jason H. Bauer" signed the affidavits as the notary on nine of the mysterious Tea Party Political candidates' paperwork turned in to the state of Michigan.

A "Jason H. Bauer" has registered twice to run for office in Oakland County, once as a Democrat in May of this year. Both times, the Auburn Hills home address given by "Jason H. Bauer" is the same as the "Jason Bauer" who is identified as the Oakland County Democratic Party political director on the state and federal campaign documents.

The "Jason H. Bauer" signature on the Oakland County document also appears substantially similar to the notary signatures on the Tea Party political party candidate filings revealed this week.

Bauer didn't immediately return a message left for him at the Oakland County Democratic Party headquarters. A message left for the party leaders wasn't immediately returned.

Aw gee! He won't return calls.

No fair! But the guys from Michigan Capitol Confidential kept calling additional numbers, and finally got someone to answer:

The reporter repeated back the number and asked if that was correct.

"Yep," the man said.

The reporter said he would try the number again. A second time, no one answered and no answering machine picked up.

The Michigan Democratic Party has denied being involved.

Chetly Zarko, who recently passed away, uncovered the petition drive necessary to create the Tea Party and discovered it was being done by Progressive Campaigns Inc. out of California. Their website has a client list that includes a campaign issue supported by George Soros, a well known supporter of Democrat causes. PCI also was involved with the Reform Michigan Government Now petition that was supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans.
Democrat involvement in the RMGN petition was exposed by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. It failed to gain ballot status in Michigan.

Soros? Imagine a guy with all that he has to do being so hot and bothered by the Tea Party that he has to involve himself in such skullduggery.

Democrat ops creating a fake "Tea Party" is a real sign of desperation.

I was especially intrigued by an earlier MCC piece that mentioned Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer:

The Detroit Free Press has reported that the Tea Party leader is Mark Steffek, who is a retired autoworker and UAW steward. The grassroots tea party activists have not been supportive of unions.

And now the Tea Party candidates are targeting GOP contested races, Nowling said.

"If it walks like Mark Brewer, and it talks like Mark Brewer, then it's probably Mark Brewer," Nowling wrote in an e-mail, referring to the Michigan Democrat Party chairman. "This is the same stunt he pulled with the group 'Reform Michigan Government Now.' He created a ruse to make it look like a grassroots effort except that he was so ham-handed in the process that people saw it immediately for what it was. The most simple answer usually turns out to be the correct one, and the simplest answer here is that this is all Mark Brewer and MDP's doing."

"You start adding these things up and it just doesn't pass the smell test," Nowling said.

Such smell tests fascinate me. Keeping in mind that the only investigative tool I have at my disposal is Google.com, I thought I would look for links between the Tea Party paperwork guy (Jason Bauer) and Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer.


They have been at the same events hosted by Bauer's organization. Jason Bauer is the "Operations Manager and Political Director of the Oakland County Democratic Party" who

discussed OCDP accomplishments in 2009 and goals for 2010. Thanks to Jason for helping us with our last mailing.
And be sure to get back to Michigan Capitol Confidential, Jason!

I realize that slogging through this kind of political crap is exactly not fun reading, so I'm highlighting Bauer and Brewer for reader convenience:

The next meeting of the North Oakland Democratic Club is Wed. Feb 17th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Orion Twp Public Library, Mtg. Rm A, 825 Joslyn Rd., Lake Orion, MI 48362 Map link http://tinyurl.com/ybundc4

Our guest speakers are Gubernatorial candidate State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, who will discuss her campaign, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer, who will discuss redistricting, and State Board of Education member Casandra Ulbrich, who will discuss financing education in Michigan. You won't want to miss this meeting!

Oh yes I would. I can't stand political hacks. At least when I go to the Tea Party meetings, there are real people (my kind of people, the kind who hate politics.)

And here they're mentioned in the same post:

January 17, Clarkston Union (M/C Room) 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, 54 S Main St, Clarkston, MI 48346 (Bryan Zulko - OFA, Ethyl Rivera OCDP Advocacy)
February 17, Orion Twp Library, Mtg Rm A, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, 825 Joslyn Rd, Lake Orion, MI 48362 (Alma Wheeler Smith, Mark Brewer, Casandra Ulbrich)


July 21, Meeting and Open House at our new GOTV office, 1520 S Lapeer Rd #216, Lake Orion, MI 48360 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm, Speakers to include Casandra Ulbrich (State Senate District 12), David Lillis (Candidate for House Dist. 46), Jason Bauer, Operations Director, Oakland County Democratic Party, representatives for Congressman Gary Peters, other guests TBD.

OK, now I realize that merely because Brewer spoke at meetings of Bauer's organization does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that these two actually know each other.

No doubt if he were called by a reporter, Brewer would say he's a busy and important man, and can't remember what he does and who he meets.

Well, how about the fact that Brewer and Bauer are Facebook friends?

Bauer's friends also include Debbie Dingell (wife of Obama-Pelosi-Dingellcare author, Congressman John Dingell and an heir apparent to the Dingell Dynasty), and another man whose name rang a bell -- Democratic Party Spokesman John Tramontana. To become friends on Facebook requires sending an invitation by one friend, which then must be accepted by the other friend. While there is no way to know whether Bauer invited Brewer to become his friend, or Brewer invited Bauer, at an absolute minimum there had to be reciprocal clicking. And hey, being friends with the likes of Brewer, Dingell, and Tramontana requires some powerful reciprocal clicking!

To return to Michigan Capitol Confidential's point that "the most simple answer usually turns out to be the correct one, and the simplest answer here is that this is all Mark Brewer and MDP's doing," I found enough confirmation to pass my smell test.

MORE: "Republican Michigander" ("straight shooting from a libertarian leaning Republican") has more on the Democratic skullduggery here and here.

UPDATE: My thanks to TheBlogProf for linking this post. He has much more, and has been onto this hoax from the start.

posted by Eric at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

The Only Virgin In Holywood

My post Wreck Value attracted a very amusing comment.

Justthisguy said...

Ah, yes, Miss Bankhead. I used to work in Huntsville, with some of the Original Space Nazis, so I drove to work on the road named for her Dad, many times.

She was conceived at Tallulah Gorge, in Georgia, my state of birth. (hence her name)

My favorite Tallulah story:

It seems that there was a drunken Hollywood party attended by Tallulah and a bunch of other folks. One of the other gals shouted out, "I'm the only girl in this town who still has her cherry!"

Tallulah shouted right back, "Doesn't it get in the way when you fuck?"

I suppose it would. The first time.

posted by Simon at 09:30 PM | Comments (2)

The Shirley Charade

Great summary of recent events from the DC Trawler:

The joke was on everyone as the Sherrod chainsaw howled to life. She announced that Fox News was just using her as a "pawn" to "take us back to where we were many years ago. Back to where black people were looking down, not looking white folks in the face, not being able to compete for a job out there and not be a whole person." She dragged out the wheezy old canard that all opposition to the policies of our glorious Leader Of Color are due to racism. And the true motivation of Andrew Breitbart? Why, nothing less than the reinstitution of slavery. Once Shirley Sherrod is out of the way, there will be nothing to stop Breitbart from using his giant mechanical spider to kidnap the President and reboot the Confederacy.

I was always a fan of the spider.

What Sherrod says during the remaining fourteen minutes of her celebrity is doing a lot more damage than anything she said on that videotape. Moral of the story: do your homework before you stick a glow-in-the-dark statue of someone to your dashboard. I have a suspicion the only figure in the Sherrod saga who took the time to understand her, or even read the full transcript of her speech, was Andrew Breitbart.

Indeed. Desite all the shrieks of "Eeeeeeeeeeeeevil!!" mortared at Breitbart from the left, he turned out to be right not to apologize, and every time Sherrod opens her mouth she confirms it.

posted by Dave at 07:09 PM | Comments (2)

My finger on the Gingrich lever?
(A hypothetical doomsday scenario which gives me nightmares...)

Last night I looked at this scary chart, and I had trouble sleeping:


While it's nice to see that Sarah Palin is number one, my concern is seeing that a man who has stated he wants Singapore-style drug law enforcement for the United States is in the position of being a serious contender for the presidency.

If Sarah Palin were to bow out, I think Gingrich would have it.

That's because Romney and Huckabee tend to cancel each other out (which resulted in the McCain victory in the last primary). Moreover, as there has been collaboration between Gingrich and Huckabee in the past, Huckabee's supporters would most likely be directed to Gingrich if Huckabee were to realize the inevitability of his defeat and drop out.

So, not only do I love Sarah Palin more than ever, I have to. She is the only thing standing between Newt Gingrich and the nomination.

I don't like having to think about something unthinkable: whether I could pull the lever for Newt Gingrich. For President! Could I (if I absolutely had to) hold my nose and vote for him over Barack Obama? It's such a toughie that despite serious misgivings I might consider voting for the Libertarian Party.

The Singapore (death penalty) solution aside, Newt Gingrich just plain irritates me. He irritates a lot of people, and he knows this but doesn't think it matters:

Despite his fiery personality, Gingrich said he wasn't worried that his comments would turn off moderate voters. At a time when the economy remains fragile, Americans want results and aren't worried about personality, he said.

"I think likable is a word you have to think about a lot," said Gingrich. "If people believe their country is in trouble, they want a captain of the lifeboat, they don't want a fraternity brother."

Not only does such talk epitomize the man's arrogance, but I'm not sure I even agree with his lifeboat analogy. A "lifeboat" implies that the ship is going to sink, and if this country is sinking, I would like to stay and try to keep it afloat. I would not want to get into a lifeboat -- much less one commanded by Newt Gingrich. For starters, unlike Gingrich, I don't think the word "secular" is a synonymous with evil, or atheist, or that it indicates "a relentless anti-religious bias," and I resent the way he demagogically conflates secular with socialism. Few things are as secular in nature as the United States Constitution, which protects all religions equally while favoring none. From the way Gingrich talks, he seems to believe not merely in putting God into government, but in religious favoritism.

There is certainly no love lost between Gingrich and Palin. In fact, there is a fierce Palin-Gingrich proxy war which led to the Gingrich backed candidate accusing the Palin candidate of being soft on homos!

No, seriously:

...Palin hasn't taken any really big risks, until this last week, when she endorsed former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. Within hours, this action created a surrogate showdown with Georgia's own Newt Gingrich, who endorsed (in person, and in Georgia, not on Facebook) his former House colleague Nathan Deal. This could not have come as a great surprise to Palin, since Gingrich had already cut an ad for Deal and spoken warmly of him even as the Georgia gubernatorial race became extraordinarily bitter. But Handel was just too tempting an endorsee for Palin: like Haley, she's cast herself as a "conservative reformer" taking on the corrupt "good ol' boys" of Georgia politics, and was already rising in the polls towards a runoff spot.

Palin's intervention clearly fired up the other candidates. With just days to go before the July 20 primary, Deal has gone after Handel with a clawhammer of an ad, scorching her for alleged former membership in the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay GOP group that's about as popular among Georgia conservatives as an evening with Barack Obama.

Log cabin homo lover or not, Handel edged out Deal in the primary (33% to 24%), which means there will be a runoff election. On August 10.
Both have big names in their corners.

Deal had been a congressman from Gainesville and has the backing of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Handel used to be secretary of state and her campaign has been buoyed by the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Well, Georgia is Gingrich's own state. If his candidate can't beat Palin's candidate, I'd say things are looking up, and maybe I won't have to worry about the hypothetical doomsday scenario of pulling the Gingrich lever.

UPDATE: "Sic 'im, Palinistas!"

posted by Eric at 01:59 PM | Comments (13)

Time to throw Afghanistan under the bus?

How about a throwaway post about Afghanistan? I'm not a policy expert, but right now, everyone and his or her mama seem to be talking about the Afghan War WikiLeaks, and a friend sent me a link to Stratfor's interesting discussion thereof.

Nearly everything I've been reading about the situation in Afghanistan is grim. The Afghan people just plain don't like the Taliban (who are Salafist extremist theocrats with a radical Saudi-spinoff religious ideology), and consider them foreigners. No one seems to care what the Afghans want, though.

The other issue is the Taliban's role in terrorism. (An ongoing role, BTW. And had the Times Square bombing been successful, I doubt the calls for handing over Afghanistan to them would be as loud or as callused as they are becoming.)

Politically, Afghanistan and the Taliban will remind those citizens who have memories of President Obama's promises....

Like this campaign classic:

During an overseas trip to Afghanistan, Sen. Barack Obama said the United States needed to focus on the war there, calling the situation "precarious and urgent," adding "I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism."
And more:
"Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they need -- and deserve," Obama said. "As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country. As president, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counterterrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban."
And as president, he's now looking at a war he says he wanted to finish, but no longer does.

I may be wrong, but IMO the WikiLeaks constitute an attempt by administration-friendly insiders to make it easier for the president to break his campaign promises while blaming his predecessors for it. The idea is to lift a page from history -- The Pentagon Papers -- and lay the blame for Afghanistan at Bush. (And, of course, on an inherently evil militaristic America.)

But there's a new twist in the historical blame game. Obama does not want to be Nixon. After all, Nixon did everything he could to fight the release of the Pentagon Papers, because even though they largely implicated LBJ, Nixon did not seek a dishonorable exit from Vietnam. He genuinely wanted to prevent a Communist victory in South Vietnam, and had he remained in office, it is very doubtful that the North Vietnamese (who had been basically bombed into submission and knew Nixon would be right back with the B52s) would have crossed him. Obama not only cannot strike such a deal, he couldn't care less about the Afghan people. I suspect he just wants to pull out and blame Bush.

That way, when there's a return to things like the destruction of priceless historical treasures, when sadistic stonings and amputations become routine again, Obama can disclaim all responsibility, and say it was all Bush's fault.

But that would be shameless. Americans wouldn't reelect a shameless president, would they?

MORE: As of now, these documents are fueling fierce criticism of Barack Obama from from the anti-Obama left, this analysis being typical:

Barack Obama made the US war in Afghanistan a center-piece of his electora journey to the White House and the proof needed to shoot down anybody who would question his warhawk credentials. It is now a little over a year and a half into his presidency and Afghanistan has completely become Barack Obama's war.

Sure, this is a war that George W. Bush had 8 years to bungle, but it was Obama who not only deployed more troops into the country but has in many ways extended the war policies of the previous administration by pussy-footing more so with Pakistan than Iran.

I haven't been able to look at the documents but am sure that we all have plenty of time to look into this massive intelligence coup by Wikileaks. This is indeed the Pentagon Papers of our generation but bigger and potentially more devastating to the everybody involved in sustaining the war machine; including Obama himself.

Scrutiny of these documents and the potential implications to policy are happening in the war's real time, not years after it has ended. As John Kerry said to the Guardian: "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan".

I don't think it will be easy for Obama to wash his hands over the fate of Afghanistan, and I don't think he will undertake such a step lightly. He needs to be able to say "America has had enough" and place the blame on Bush.

(Hence, my suspicions about the motive behind the leaks.)

MORE: More rave reviews:

"reads like an indictment of the Bush Administration"
"Bush should be put on trial for war crimes."
I doubt this would fly with the voters, though.

posted by Eric at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

A typical dim witted semi-on-topic post about nothing

I've got nothing to say today, but if there's one thing I hate, it's bloggers who write posts announcing that they have nothing to say, and then invite comments on the nothingness.

Of course, if the goal is to solicit what M. Simon called "typical dim witted semi-on-topic blog comments," (and Donna, that does not mean you!) then maybe this is the perfect post to let the typical dim-witted comments flow.

In my defense, I should point out that I was on out-of-town business for the entire day yesterday and then I had another event in the evening, and then this morning I had to follow up on the out of town business. That means I lost my morning flow two days in a row, and I'm a regular person.

Geez. I hate the look of that last sentence. Looks like a description of urinary problems. But I guess it's an improvement on nothing. And nothing is what this post is supposed to be about. So right there I am off topic, unable to stick to nothing, and my wits are getting dimmer.

Which means I am at least living up to the title of the post.

Donna Barber, BTW, has an interesting post about ophidiophobia -- a fear I know exists but do not share. Quite the opposite; although I have discussed ophidiophobia as a quasi-political analogy.

Fear of sex is like fear of snakes; you either have it or you don't. While those who are horrified by prostitution are not necessarily afraid of prostitutes in the normal sense of the word "fear," the strong moral disapproval involved usually stems not from disagreement, but a feeling. In the case of prostitute haters (or disapprovers) and prostitute lovers (or approvers), there is a mutual inability to feel the disgust (or approval) that the other side feels.

In many ways, it is like snake haters versus snake lovers. Neither can explain their hatred or their love, and even if they can verbalize it, the feelings are not shared.

What would fear of nothing be called?

No, I don't mean fearing nothing, I mean fearing nothing!

Fear of that vast infinite nothingness.

A person who fears nothing has a lot to fear. (I guess I better stop there or I'll be waaaaay off topic, not just semi-on!)

MORE: Speaking of nothing in particular, in 1936 Salvador Dalí painted The Chemist of Ampurdan in Search of Absolutely Nothing. Whether he found what he was searching for, I do not know.


Nothing will come of this.

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that nothing might be everything, because "Every black hole may hold a hidden universe."

And that's Nothing to get upset about!

posted by Eric at 07:10 PM | Comments (6)

A burka ban would suck more than the burka

I've been following the arguments about burka bans, and much as I hate these coverings and what they represent (and think countries like Syria are smart to ban them), I think any ban on an article of clothing is not only impossible in the United States, but runs afoul of the First Amendment.

I want to explain why I think the religious arguments -- discussed by Martha Nussbaum and refuted here by Massimo Pigliucci -- are a bit of a red herring. Any apparel worn for religious reasons is as protected under the First Amendment as any apparel would be if worn for any other reason. It is legally impermissible to ban Nazi uniforms or Klan garb, and it is irrelevant whether a religious nut might claim that his Klan robe (which like the burka, is a covering) reflects his relationship with God.

(A related issue is that deliberately offensive anti-religious attire, like gay drag queens wearing nun's habits to protest the Catholic Church, would also be similarly constitutionally protected.)

A burka might be worn for religious reasons, but any ban would have to be religion-neutral, or else it would be religious discrimination. Take, for example, the analogy between the burka and human sacrifice:

Nussbaum is a sharp thinker, and arguably one of the most incisive public intellectuals active today. In her essay she introduced the issue in terms of two philosophical traditions concerning the rights of minorities, in particular religious ones. According to John Locke, the law should not penalize religious belief, and should not be discriminatory, that is it should be applied equally to all practitioners of specific religions. Nussbaum's example is a Supreme Court decision that allows ritual animal sacrifice for religious purposes (yup, you read correctly!) because not allowing it would represent an instance of religious persecution against a specific group (in that case, the Santeria worshippers). I do wonder what the Supreme Court would say if a religious group petitioned to carry out human sacrifices...
The problem with that argument is that no legislature in the United States would limit a ban on human sacrifice to, say, the Aztec religion. Human sacrifice is murder and it is illegal regardless of whether the murderer believes in a particular religion, or no religion.

So, any ban on the burka would not band burkas only for Muslims; it would ban burkas period. No head and face coverings.

Which would mean one of the numerous American cranks (there are libertarians like me who don't like the government telling me what I can't wear) would immediately take umbrage, put on a burka, and run out into the street to get arrested, contest the law, and ultimately win.

Now, the state has a right to compel an individual to bare his or her head for a drivers license, and I don't think they have any business telling businesses they have to hire burka wearers (I would refuse to hire one), but banning the burka?

Forget it. I don't think it would survive a legal challenge.

Whether that's a good thing I don't know. Freedom is not without its costs, and allowing deluded women (or other nutcases) to cover themselves is one of them.

posted by Eric at 10:54 PM | Comments (8)

Fusion - A New Hope?

A private company has just gotten a $50 million cash infusion for its fusion experiments.

A private company in Foothill Ranch that is reportedly experimenting with nuclear fusion power has raised $50 million in funding, according to a report from Socaltech.com.

Little more information was available Monday about the experiments at the company, Tri-Alpha Energy, or the funding itself. In the past, Socaltech reported, Tri-Alpha has received funding from Goldman Sachs, Venrock, Vulcan Capital and New Enterprise Associates.

Tri-Alpha's experiments, based on the work of UC Irvine plasma physics professor Norman Rostoker, have been rumored for years, but the company has not revealed the nature of its experiments to the public.

Solcaltech calls it a "stealth developer of advanced plasma fusion technology.

Well not exactly stealth. I reported on the work of Rostoker and Monkton in additions to something I first posted in November of 2007. Still, the fact that they are either getting new money or a release of promised money is good news. The more different ideas we explore on the way to practical fusion the sooner we will reach that goal. Because this is an experimental field. And as Einstein once said, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

Tri-Alpha Energy, Polywell Fusion, and Dense Plasma Focus are all working on the holy grail of fusion physics. The combining of Hydrogen (a proton when ionized) and Boron 11 which is a fusion reaction that gives off very few neutrons and whose reaction product is high energy (relatively) charged particles which would allow converting the resultant energy directly to electricity. This greatly lowers the cost of a power plant. Consider that for a fission (currently Uranium) power plant 80% of the cost is in the steam plant which is used to convert the heat output of the reactor into electricity or shaft horsepower in the case of a ship.

One other point. Consider the millions being spent on these fusion experiments with the billions being spent on ITER which is currently in big financial trouble. The reported fix is to steal money from small research projects in other disciplines.

Of course I like Polywell Fusion. You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering

Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

And the best part about Polywell? We Will Know In Two Years or less.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Welcome Instapundit readers.

posted by Simon at 08:59 PM | Comments (9)

How To Get Rid Of Racism

The look on Mike Wallace's face is priceless. Worth 55 seconds of your life. Definitely.

H/T Joan of Argghh!. May I suggest you follow the link and read Joan's take on this video and recent events.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:18 AM | Comments (5)


Iran has some new friends in the uranium business.

TEHRAN (AFP) - The top diplomats of Iran, Brazil and Turkey will discuss nuclear fuel supplies for Tehran in Istanbul on Sunday, in the first such gathering since the Islamic republic was slapped with new sanctions.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was to meet his Brazilian and Turkish counterparts, Celso Amorim and Ahmet Davutoglu, "to discuss... the Tehran Declaration about the fuel swap," his ministry's spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

A Turkish diplomat in Ankara, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, confirmed the three ministers would meet over lunch.

Of course this is all about peaceful uses for nuclear power. Right.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:00 AM | Comments (1)

Where's my Shindley Sherhan Show?

I realize this will sound a bit crazy, but I like Shirley Sherrod. Not like in the sense of wanting to get all warm and cuddly with her, mind you, but like her in the sense that I like Cindy Sheehan, or anyone else who puts the lie to these awful ruling class people. I have called them "they" in post after post.

Anyway, their narrative is that anyone who disagrees with President Obama is a racist, and basically anyone who disagrees with them is a racist. The "YOU'RE A RACIST IF YOU DISAGREE" meme has been so absurd for so long that it couldn't have gotten any absurder.

Until Shirley came along, that is.

It's like, it wasn't enough for her to call Andrew Breitbart a racist. In order just to tread the "I must remain relevant" water, she had to come up with a new trump card. Like not just "you're a racist!" (sorry, but it's woefully inadequate), and not even "you're really REALLY a super SUPER racist," but that's not enough either, because the word "racist" is losing its ability to get any attention at all. So she was in kind of a "what do I do to keep afloat?" situation. Trying to tread the waters of competitive, constantly escalating political hyperbole when all opposition and all enemies are by definition "racist" must be incredibly tough.

How do you come up with a super super racist racist insult of all insults?

In Sherrod's case, she had no alternative than to say "YOU WANT TO BRING BACK SLAVERY!"

Considering the totality of the dynamics, who could blame her? Put yourself in her position theoretically (if you dare), and you might have found yourself doing the same thing.

The problem is that regardless of its political necessity (and probably because of it), her charge is completely ridiculous on its face.

And best of all, it makes them look ridiculous!

So they have to keep poor Shirley off the telly because of it.

That's sad. I want her on the telly!

Despite my videophobia, I almost would have considered watching her.

So would a lot of people.

Don't ratings count anymore?

MORE:Via Glenn Reynolds, Ed Driscoll notes that Sherrod possesses (or at least has had it bestowed by Salon's Joan Walsh) a special privilege called "Absolute Moral Authority":

...because Shirley Sherrod's father "was murdered by a white farmer, and there were witnesses. And the white justice system never found the murderer guilty. She's entitled to talk about race any way she wants to."

Walsh would extend the same Absolute Moral Authority card to Pastor Bryant, a former regional president of the NAACP as well, right?

Cindy Sheehan has one of those cards, and she never gets on CNN these days.

A pity, really.

posted by Eric at 09:57 PM | Comments (2)

Promoting a health hazard more deadly than third hand smoke!

I shouldn't be sitting here writing a blog post; I should be outside gardening or something. Besides, the latest research shows that sitting in a chair is hazardous to my health. Which means that by sitting in this "death chair" and writing this blog post, I am contributing not only to my own physical decline, I am directly contributing to the decline of the physical health of my readers who are almost certainly sitting in chairs while reading this post -- something I either knew or should have known.

So, it is no exaggeration to say that I am a public health hazard!

Isn't what I am doing at least as bad as "third-hand smoke"?

I thought a warning might be in order before I head outside to do some gardening.

Yet still, there's something about this that bothers me. This creepy feeling of having been a nanny who warned readers that sitting there and reading blog posts is bad for their health -- that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and it rubs my libertarian wool the wrong way. How can I correct the resultant imbalance of karma? I started out by feeling guilty, and now I feel guilty about feeling guilty!

What's a blogger in my situation to do?

Hey, maybe I should plant tobacco!

It's still legal, and there's a booming interest in seeds. Plus, it's a healthy outdoor activity, and I don't have to smoke the stuff to enjoy the experience of growing it. As to what to do with it, I don't know. Is it legal to give it away as a form of charity? (It is legal to grow or possess tobacco, and while they might not allow the tobacco companies to give it away, I don't see why private citizens cannot give it away in a non-commercial manner.) Smokers are addicts who face an increasingly unaffordable habit (in New York, cigarettes are up to a whopping $11.00 a pack), so I think offering free tobacco to New York's poor and working class people might be a very humane thing to do, lest they start committing crimes to fuel their habits. What? You think I'm kidding? A guy with a four pack a day habit would have to spend over $1200 $1300 per month -- just to support his addiction.

So why shouldn't I grow tobacco to give it away? You know, just to annoy the bureaucrats and irritate those who consider all libertarians inherently selfish.

But OTOH, would it be altruism?

(I should add that I wasn't trying to be facetious with that last line -- I only said it because many people think that altruism is deadly.)

posted by Eric at 12:09 PM | Comments (5)

Al Gore's Hockey Stick

Over at Watts Up With That they are discussing Al Gore's marital and hotel difficulties in relation to a hockey stick graph that is most amusing.

So I thought I'd add a few words to a most ribald discussion.

It was all the fault of improperly labeled RAP music. Just ask Tipper.

Tipper is definitely a victim of No Law.

And for those that don't get the joke: A hint.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

Suffer The Little Children

So, Obamacare had a provision saying insurance companies cannot refuse to sell insurance policies on children who are already sick. Much as they might stop selling fire insurance if required to cover people whose houses are already aflame, insurers have responded by no longer issuing any individual policies for children, with the result that more children will now go uninsured.

This is precisely the kind of unintended consequences we libertarians warned of before the bill was passed. You cannot simply coerce the market into doing what you think is fair.

And don't expect them to learn their lesson -- as far as the statists are concerned the natural response to this evil corporate insistence on profitability is more regulation, eventually culminating in the same single-payer system that underperforms American health care so horribly everywhere it's used, complete with death panels (yes, they really exist, and are just wonderful according to Obama's latest appointee) and crushing tax burden.

posted by Dave at 05:35 PM | Comments (1)

Moral priorities from a distant mirror

Speaking of morality (and priorities), I just love this illustration by Thomas Rowlandson:

Thomas_Rowlandson_(17) animalz.jpg

Human sexuality is OK,* but animal sexuality is eeeevil!

The guy may have been born in 1756, but he was quite prescient in his anticipation of modern American morality.

*Under certain conditions (an oath of fealty to the Democratic Party being the minimum requirement).

posted by Eric at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

endless arguments about the "etc."

There has been a long, drawn out argument in a series of comments to some recent posts, and it's unfortunate for me, because I'm not an especially comment-oriented person. But OTOH, I don't want people to think that my not replying to comments means anything. Silence does not indicate agreement or disagreement; often it means that I didn't read the comments.

As I have said many times, it is not my purpose to run a debating society; I write these posts to share what I think, and then as the spirit moves me, I'll move on to another post. Comments are always appreciated, and (with the exception of obvious spam comments that get through -- and I often miss those!) I never censor them or ban people. But just because I appreciate, allow, and would never censor comments, that does not mean that I have to answer them. I don't even have to read them. If I spent my time answering every point made in every comment, the emphasis of the blog would change, and the distractions would cause me to lose my flow.

But clearly, some commenters are annoyed with me for ignoring their concerns about morality, especially in the context of law, and especially in the context of consensual homosexuality. The latter is clearly viewed by some to be of paramount importance. Why it matters so much more than adultery or masturbation I do not know. Nor can I understand the argument that tolerance of consensual homosexuality leads to the abandonment of morality. Perhaps that is because I do not consider consensual homosexual conduct to be immoral (at least no more immoral than consensual heterosexual conduct).

Like most people, I think there should be laws about some things, and not others. Not all of the things I think there should be laws about involve morality, although some do.

In terms of jurisprudence, that distinction is to be found in malum in se versus malum prohibitum. Some things are inherently bad, and are nearly always considered so by nearly all people in nearly all places and cultures; others vary. The devil lies in the details. It is inherently wrong to steal, but it is not inherently wrong to sell widgets from the home or burn leaves in the yard. I am not saying that I only support malum in se law, but I do think we shouldn't be kidding ourselves into pretending that malum prohibitum laws (such as laws relating to alcohol, drugs, the environment, pornography, etc.) are the same as malum in se. (See my many posts about manufactured morality.)

This distinction came up in an earlier comment, and my reply to it:

I want an agreed upon set of principles to be taught regarding what is acceptable (respect for others) and is NOT acceptable (stealing, rape, murder, assault,etc.)

I agree with you on respect for others, and stealing, rape, murder, assault. The problem lies in the "etc."

Yes, and there are endless arguments about the "etc." As I stand accused of being inconsistent and illogical, and of ignoring points made in comments, I thought the general topic of morality merited a post.

So what is morality? There certainly is no universal agreement on it, much less how far it should go in being the basis of law. As a libertarian, I pretty much believe that the criminal police power of the state (especially the power to kill or imprison citizens) should be limited to cases of force or fraud committed by one person against another.

(But even that simple rule is subject to qualifications depending on consent; if two men agree to fight each other, they have consented to the use of force. Similarly, I am sure there are some who consider homosexuality to be a consensual form of mutual harm, and therefore wrong. So is boxing wrong too?)

I think Thomas Jefferson put it quite well with his "pick my pocket or break my leg" standard.

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
While Jefferson was talking about tolerance for religious differences, I agree with his general view of the legitimate powers of government.

This is not to say that Jefferson's views are dispositive or controlling on all moral questions. No one's are. Views of morality vary from person to person and culture to culture, and that is not moral relativism, but a simple observation. My view of morality obviously does not please everyone, and how could it? For starters, I don't believe God is a book, and I think it is a mistake to declare that religious texts should be controlling on moral issues. Many people disagree with that, and insist that religion should be controlling.

I tend more towards a common-sense view of morality, based on mutual respect for my fellow human beings, best summarized by what we call the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This reflects (but also predates) an important saying attributed to Jesus:

Love they neighbor as thyself.

But I don't think that recognizing its validity requires either a belief that Jesus Christ said it, or that Jesus Christ is the son of God (as well as God as well as the Holy Ghost). Reasonable minds can differ.

Of course, at the other extreme are people like Aleister Crowley, who declared, simply "Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law." A philosophy I think is inherently wrong because it does not countenance any duty to refrain from harming one's fellow human beings. And if other people are free to harm me, if they are free to use force to impose their will on me and tell me what to do, then there is really no freedom at all, but simply the law of the jungle, which is the law of raw nature. Like what I see in my fish tanks; the bigger fish kill and eat the smaller fish, which in turn kill and eat the smaller fish. That is hardly a model for the type of human society in which I would like to live -- which is one based on mutual respect and tolerance, and the Golden Rule. This means minimal government, because the bigger government gets, the more it leads to precisely the type of tyranny I see in the fish tank.

I realize that the "leave people alone" (or "leave people alone unless they harm you") approach to morality does not settle all questions of morality, nor will it please everyone.

There is, to be sure, plenty of room for disagreement and inconsistency.

Again, I'd say the Devil is in the details, except I already said it and I don't want to be accused of believing in the Devil.


MORE: I should add that I think the argument that morality can come only from God is problematic for two admittedly practical reasons:

1. It immediately raises the questions of whose god (or which god) is authoritative as to morality, and according to whose interpretation?


2. It lends itself easily to the demagogic and illogical claim that atheists are inherently immoral.

I realize that Locke maintained that atheists are inherently immoral and that atheism should thus never be tolerated. But Locke was not the author of our Constitution, and I would submit that his view on this matter is incompatible with our constitutional tradition, as well as wildly impractical in the modern age.

posted by Eric at 11:48 AM | Comments (8)

Brain Surgery

Putting the criminal justice system in charge of treating drug addiction is literally attempting to do brain surgery with a billy club.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:27 AM | Comments (6)

Surely A Charade

Shirley Sherrod says this about Andrew Breitbart:

On Andrew Breitbart: I know I've gotten past black versus white. He's probably the person who's never gotten past it and never attempted to get past it.
I think he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery. That's where I think he would like to see all black people end up again.

Well, that doesn't sound much like the post-racial enlightened uniter the MSM has packaged her as, but I'm confident this seemingly damning quote is also perfectly innocuous "in context," no doubt part of an inspiring story in which she learns to overcome hyperbolic accusations of yearning for America's days of slavery, and focuses on the things that bring us together as Americans.
And I think that's why he's so vicious against a black president, you know. He would go after me. I don't think it was even the NAACP he was totally after. I think he was after a black president.

Well, anyone who thought she was obsessed with race certainly ought to apologize.
"It's not so much about white..." (catches herself, says), "It IS about white and black."

I know I'm inspired.

Something else that's been underplayed in all this is that it's extremely unlikely Sherrod was canned because of anything anyone on the right said; I mean, come on, this is the Obama administration. That decision was almost certainly precipitated by the NAACP's denunciation of Sherrod -- and remember, the NAACP always had the full tape, as it was their event.

UPDATE: Glenn has more, including this from Jonah Goldberg: "Shirley Sherrod, who didn't know who Andrew Breitbart was 72 hours ago, now knows him well enough to say that he wants to put all blacks back into slavery. If I were David Axelrod, I'd be calling this woman and beg her to stop talking."

No kidding. Every time she opens her mouth, we get a little more "context."

And remember -- the Obama admin now owns Shirley Sherrod. There's no way for them to look good on this anymore. If they fired her, then apologized and offered her a promotion on a flimsy "context" argument, then found out she was someone whose wildly inflammatory accusations make Reverend Jeremiah Wright look like the soul of racial unity and reasonable dialogue... the already oil-drenched competence myth is now taking a slash to the jugular.

posted by Dave at 06:15 PM | Comments (18)

"cry poverty while lavishing money on the beautiful people"

It's not every day that I learn about local Ann Arbor politics from InstaPundit, but Glenn Reynolds linked this Michigan Capitol Confidential story about something all too typical.

The debate in Ann Arbor, where firefighters are being laid off due to a multimillion dollar budget deficit, is over an $850,000 piece of art.

That's how much the city has agreed to pay German artist Herbert Dreiseitl for a three-piece water sculpture that would go in front of the new police and courts building right by the City Hall.

To call it government waste would be understatement, because it is not mere waste of the sort we associate with affluence. They are spending money they don't have on the frivolous -- at the expense of the necessary.
Michael LaFaive, the director of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative said nonessential services are being funded throughout the state.

"Administrators cry poverty while lavishing money on the beautiful people," LaFaive said. "The threat to dismiss firefighters often comes while officials protect golf courses, wave pools and art. No city can cry poverty while it defends recreation and aesthetics such as art."

LaFaive said administrators get creative with budgets to fund pet projects.

Naturally. It takes creativity to see to it that the beautiful people are rewarded at the taxpayers' expense, while basic services are cut. (Little wonder the police and firefighters are supporting Patricia Lesko for Mayor, who is being subjected to vicious and dishonest personal attacks.)

I ran this past a fellow Ann Arbor resident who voiced another objection: Why are they spending Ann Arbor's money on a German artist, when this city has plenty of deserving artists?

Because they can.

posted by Eric at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

Videophobia. Brain disease? Or rational fear?

A friend sent me a link to something I could not watch. It is 4 minutes and 23 second long video of a debate between two people I find annoying -- Rachel Maddow and Bill O'Reilly -- and I was only able to get 1 minute and 3 seconds through it when I just had to stop it. No, seriously, I could not subject myself to the indignity.

Here it is, I figure even if I can't stand to watch it, that's no reason not to embed it in a blog post, so here it is:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In the email from the friend who suggested I watch it, he said,

IF you can bear to watch it. I find her smugness fascinating. Smug and sarcastic to the extreme. She sounds like Bob, without the overt anger. Listen to how she describes the "fake" Acorn story!!!
That's about as far as I got.

I find the above segment absolutely typical of the medium, and it is why I am unable watch television programming which involves opinions or arguments about politics.

And so at the risk of sounding silly and self-indulgent, I think it may be time for a confession.

I suffer from what probably should be called "videophobia."

The problem is getting worse. One of the reasons I started blogging was because I hated TV. Yet video is now an unavoidable fact of life everywhere. I hate being subjected to human faces and voices intended to persuade me, as it forces me to sit there in a passive manner I find creepy. Whether I agree or disagree, the act of being forced to watch it -- of being subjected to these people -- makes something feel distinctly irrational and not under my control. Might I be suffering from an irrational fear of being made to feel irrational? Or is it a rational fear? Does any of this make sense? Whatever it is, it's becoming a real problem for me, and I don't know what to do about it.

I say it's a problem because there are consequences for me as a blogger. Not having the patience to watch all the videos which are thrust at me in the forms of endless links places me at a distinct disadvantage and makes me feel ignorant of what people consider important. Try as I might to not have it happen, most video just gets on my nerves, in much the same way the television news I stopped watching years ago once did. The voices are grating, and if something is said that I don't like or disagree with, it's like there's no escape. (And if I agree with what they're saying, the fact that they're trying to persuade me of what I already think can make it even worse -- like gratuitous and invasive brain clutter.) With text, I can read when I want, and scroll down to get to the point, then back up, then look again for more. But with a video, my full attention is commanded. I have to sit there and listen to whomever or whatever it is. Or not. And most often, it's not.

Another example was a recent spat on Fox News between Megyn Kelly and Kirsten Powers.

Once again, I was sent a link.

And here's that video, (still largely unwatched by the increasingly neurotic yours truly).

By being able to watch it, you readers have an advantage over me.

I tried to watch it, but I couldn't. Those, those damned voices! They ring in my ears and displease my senses, and it really doesn't matter what they are saying. If I disagree, I am annoyed, and even if I agree, I am annoyed by the noise and the drain of my time.

I want a transcript, dammit!

But alas. Everything is becoming video.

Certainly, it's nothing that should make me want to quit blogging, because I am not obligated in any way to create or watch videos. And if I could figure out why a YouTube video I made complaining about a mousetrap that didn't work got nearly 15,000 hits, I might be ahead of the game. Here it is; a mere 20 seconds in length.

I was sort of trying to be funny, but I don't especially like watching it. Nor do I like asking people to watch it, and I do not understand why so many people have watched it. I know it sounds irrational, but asking people to watch a video seems inherently an imposition.

Although, I guess if I can't stand to watch myself, I'm not guilty of a double standard of "video for me but not for thee!" Yet as I say this, I recognize that there are exceptions to my zero tolerance rule.

Maybe there's hope for me (and maybe it just means that no rule is right all the time), but I have found that some people are not as overbearing in their video manner as others; I am never annoyed by Glenn Reynolds' Instavision program, and I loved the old Glenn and Helen interviews. Maybe it's because they're not as "in your face" as the usual commentator types. Another recent example of a video I found quite tolerable and even enjoyable was a video of a lecture by law professor Stephen Bainbridge, which Glenn Reynolds had linked, and which I clicked out of pure curiosity.

And here it is! One of the few videos that I was actually able to watch!

Looking at it again, it occurs to me that a couple of things might be of interest to a psychologist hypothetically hired to treat my "videophobia." First, the speaker is far away from the camera, so there is no "in your face" issue. Second, he is talking in a calm and rational tone, there's no heavy-handed manner about it, none of that brimming-with-anger or barely concealed bias stuff. Third, he has a marvelously self-deprecating sense of humor, which I like. And fourth, the topic itself is amusing; he is explaining why he is not like the notorious Professor Kingsfield, whose very style epitomized getting in your face.

But what if not getting in people's faces runs counter to the whole idea of video?

What if annoying people is what it's all about?

MORE: Sean Kinsell links this post in a discussion of city-dwellers (especially Brooklynites) who love to "lament how technology is draining the human interaction from daily life." Despite any annoyances I might feel watching angry activists scold their audiences, it never occurred to me that the problem is with the video technology itself, much less that it was draining human interaction. Hell, for all I know it might be causing too much human interaction. But that's up to people themselves whether to interact or not interact. If you can't get laid, it sure isn't the fault of YouTube.

But I didn't know that I was "forgoing the opportunity to get all windy about how one is too soulful for this impersonal age."

Now that I think about it, I'd rather be too impersonal for the wistful soulfulists!

posted by Eric at 12:40 PM | Comments (7)

How many more growing menaces do we need?

In the course of perusing the relatively new research implicating "third-hand smoke" as yet another dangerous carcinogen, alarm bells went off in my paranoid brain, and as I hope my worries are misguided, I thought it merited a blog post.

An article in the OC Register ("Should smoking be banned in apartments?") -- which linked a "scientific" policy recommendation in the New England Journal of Medicine -- forced me into a sudden, ugly realization.


Here's what the NEJM scientists advocate:

Exposure to tobacco smoke in the home can be avoided fully only through the implementation of a complete smoking ban.11 Mitigation measures such as the use of fans, air filters, and separate smoking rooms are ineffective.59 Ridding public housing of tobacco smoke would keep such settings in step with the trend toward no-smoking policies in workplaces, private housing, and even private vehicles.60

Tenants in multiunit housing have few alternative legal remedies for the problem of tobacco-smoke exposure. They can sue their landlords, claiming that tobacco smoke constitutes a nuisance or violates the warranty of habitability and the covenant of quiet enjoyment of housing,53,61 but litigation is an unreliable and arduous strategy.62 Tenants with medical sensitivities to tobacco smoke may also be able to obtain legal relief (through litigation or HUD's complaints process63) under the federal Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and state disability discrimination laws, but only if they can show that their reaction to the smoke substantially limits a major life activity and that the requested accommodation is not unduly burdensome to the landlord.62,64,65 Because other legal remedies are so limited and market remedies are unavailable to very-low-income tenants, the onus arguably is on public-housing regulators to ensure adequate protection from tobacco smoke for these residents.

I am not in a position to know whether the research into "third-hand smoke" is legitimate, but no one seems to have questioned it. Is there still peer review? Or is there just a gigantic anti-smoking bandwagon of biased, government-paid activist "scientists" like Stanton Glantz, backed up by busybody bureaucrats of one sort or another, continually ratcheting up their war against tobacco?

My worry is that unless they are forcefully opposed, what activists want, activists will get. Especially when they can point to dangers to children. Or animals! (Seriously. That last link only dealt with "second-hand smoke," but with the "third-hand smoke" meme fast sinking in, pretty soon the animal control bureaucrats not only be refusing to allow smokers to adopt dogs and cats, but they'll be wanting to verfify that the buildings they're going to are "smoke free" (meaning no one is allowed to smoke there).

It is no longer enough to ask smokers to step outside; safety conscious landlords, parents business-owners and homeowners should never allow anyone who has smoked to enter their premises, period!

At first, there was talk of second-hand smoke as being dangerous. Now research has established that there is such a thing called third-hand smoke and it's just as dangerous, making a lit cigarette dangerous to the smoker and all non-smokers that come into contact with him or her, long after the cigarette is put out.

The residue of nicotine, ash, and tar that linger on surfaces can react with another chemical in the air to form potent carcinogens -- chemicals linked to various cancers. While first-hand smoke is that inhaled directly by the smoker and second-hand is the smoke exhaled (and inhaled by others), third-hand smoke is the residues from second-hand smoke that cling onto clothing, hair, hands, nails and the skin of the smoker.

This means that if a parent or care-giver (babysitter, day care attendant, kindergarten teacher, any teacher) smokes outside a building, gets back inside and comes near a child, that child will be exposed to third-hand smoke. Have a colleague or friend who smokes but you don't? Give that person a hug and you'll carry tobacco residues home to your loved ones.

Check out this report by MSNBC.

I did check it out, and as usual, it's all about The Children!
Third-hand smoke a danger to babies, toddlers

Residue of nicotine can interact with chemical in air to form carcinogens

Yes, so says Brian Williams in a video report I did not watch, but which I'm sure is intended to make me want to do something to save The Children, for God's sake!

Smokers are increasingly not allowed to adopt children and in the United States they are often denied custody in divorce cases. And naturally, "Many animal rescue groups do not allow their pets to be adopted by smokers unless the smokers agree to smoke outside only." (I'm assuming that will have to be enforced with home visits. No wonder the activists seek to ban the sale of pets. Evil unsupervised smokers might buy them!) However, I did find at least one veterinarian who takes a more liberal approach, and simply advises that "if you have a pet, I recommend that you go outside to smoke."

Hmmm.... In view of the dire threat from third-hand smoke, perhaps I should not allow any smokers to come in contact with Coco! (And you know, I'm thinking that it was not helpful to make light of a very serious situation by putting a cigar in her mouth....)

Because of the uncritical way the human mind operates, this stuff is inherently relentless, and I think prohibition is coming. First it will be de facto, but eventually, there will be real laws with teeth.

Of course, in the dismal worldwide economy, this will present unprecedented black market opportunities. Already, cigarette smuggling from Russia and China into the heavily-regulated EU countries is a multi-billion dollar industry. And it's helping the economies of the poorer countries!

China is the biggest source of counterfeit cigarettes, but many are also smuggled in from the former communist bloc including Russia and Ukraine, the commission said.

Counterfeit cigarettes from China are often discovered in 40-foot containers that carry 10 million cigarettes, the EU's executive body said. They are also smuggled in lorries, trains and cars, but also by people and by post.

Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus are the main sources of genuine smuggled cigarettes because they are cheaper to buy in those countries than in the EU.

The smuggling of cigarettes costs EU states 10 billion euros in lost taxes per year. About 65 percent of the cigarettes are counterfeit.

Here in the U.S., cigarette smuggling generally involves moving the cigarettes from places with low tobacco taxes to places with high tobacco taxes. Quite predictably, the black market in cigarettes is such a huge business that there are mass arrests, and the usual pre-dawn raids. It goes without saying that the feds are involved:
An indictment was filed in federal court on Tuesday by the United States attorney's office in Scranton, Pa., officials said. On Thursday in predawn raids across the city, on Long Island and elsewhere, state, city and federal officials moved to round up the suspects, according to one official.

Investigators believe the volume of cigarettes was vast. The sales tax for each pack of cigarettes in New York is more than $4, bringing the total sales taxes skirted by the suspects to millions of dollars, officials said. As of 10 a.m., nine suspects were in custody, one official said. Three more had been arrested in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The suspects were facing an array of charges, and the indictment was expected to be unsealed later Thursday. All of this was occurring as the agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were holding a "contraband tobacco" conference in Midtown Manhattan for state and local prosecutors from New York.

"It's to advise and educate state and local prosecutors on tobacco violations primarily in the federal judicial system," said Joseph G. Green, a special agent of the bureau and a spokesman in the New York field office.

And the more they crack down, the tougher and more determined the criminals will get. Guys like Al Capone know an opportunity when they see one.

It gets a little tedious to be pointing it out over and over again in blog posts, but it never ceases to amaze me that this country has a perfectly good model of where it all leads.

The Prohibition Model, dammit.

Why don't the bastards learn? Is it that there's something wrong with the way the human mind works? Is it that our ruling class is unable to learn from past experience? Or might I be missing something?

Could it be that Prohibition suits their interests?

posted by Eric at 11:20 AM | Comments (6)

Like A Rolling Stone - Raw

The band is pretty raw. But I like their youth and enthusiasm. Here are the liner notes so to speak.

Here is our cover version and arrangement of one of the all time greatest songs ever written, Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone". It is such an incredible song in so many different ways; of course, Bob Dylan's lyrics are superb as usual, he is the undisputed poet laureate of rock music. But "Like A Rolling Stone" really stands out as a landmark musical achievement; the song is basically just a C major scale, going up in the first half of the verses, C, Dm, Em, F, G, and then, as if you needed more proof that Dylan is a genius, it goes straight back down again, (F), G, F, Em, Dm, C. It's so simple, but so wonderful, because nobody else had ever thought of doing such a thing, and that is why Dylan is a musical genius, and such a huge influence. Every song written after this one, and indeed every musician, owed something to this song, whether they were aware of it or not. "Like A Rolling Stone" broke down the barrier which said popular songs had to be three minutes maximum, with it's 6 minute plus duration. And it also destroyed the idea that to sing you had to have a technically brilliant voice; Bob Dylan's rough, American drone had just as much power and emotion as any other more professional singer.

Whichever way you look at it, this song is an incredible achievement, but most importantly, it's a wonderful song.

Sam on piano/lead vocals/harmonica, Isaac on guitar (Fender Telecaster) and Sebastian on drums/percussion. Thanks, and we hope you enjoy!

You can listen to more of their stuff at SH Corporation. The guy on the piano is 16 and the band hails from Australia.

If you want to listen to the real Bob, you will find that most of his work has been expunged from YouTube, but Amazon still sells Bob Dylan.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:31 PM | Comments (1)

Obama Turns On Key Voting Bloc

After all their support, do they really deserve this?

posted by Dave at 04:53 PM | Comments (3)

Burglar? Or underground bartender?

I have to admire the enterprising nature of the homeless man who is said to have broken into an abandoned bar and opened it to the public:

A Placer County man has been arrested after he broke into a shuttered bar, reopened the business and started selling drinks to unwitting customers, according to the Placer County Sheriff's department.

The Placer County Sheriff's department arrested 29-year-old Travis Kevie of Newcastle after his 4-day stint as the barkeep of the historic Valencia Club in Penryn which had been shutdown for more than a year.


Deputies describe Kevie as a transient. They say he broke into the Valencia Club and put an open sign in the window on July 16th. Kevie kicked off his business with a six-pack of beer he bought and resold at the club. He used his profits to buy more alcohol keeping the club open throughout the weekend serving about 30 customers a day, deputies say.

Kevie is being held in the Placer County Jail for burglary and selling alcohol without a license.

The guy certainly worked hard. Not only were his customers delighted, but the local newspaper ran this glowing account about the bar's "reopening." It's apparently the only bar in town, described as one of those "survivors from a mid-20th-century America when motor courts, road houses and streamlined V-8 cruisers made in Detroit filled the old Highway 40 with color and noise...":
Kevie, whose own comfort zone includes climbing aboard bulls itching to inflict pain and adrenalin-pumping thrill rides on unsaddled broncs, said he just wants to make people comfortable and smile.

"If you're happy and smiling and feeling good - then smile when you're here," Kevie said. "That's how I want people to feel."

Kevie said that paperwork on the bar sale hasn't been finalized but that he has moved into living quarters at the bar and will be keeping it open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"It's a dream come true," Kevie said.

Kevie's dreams also involve professional rodeo. He said he's put that side of his life on hold while getting the bar going and finding trusted people to work there.

In high school, Kevie was a state champion in bareback bronc riding. His father, Gary Kevie, of Newcastle, was a state champion bull rider and Travis followed in his footsteps, joining the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. His list of victories included a first in bull riding at the 2006 Wild West Stampede rodeo in Auburn.

Kevie is off to a good start in the sprawling semi-rural community of Penryn with his decision to reopen the Valencia Club after its closure over the Memorial Day weekend. The club opened again over the weekend, with the hum of the refrigerator cutting through the stillness and the glow of neon again in the windows signaling a new start in the old bar.

Dating back to at least the 1930s, the Valencia Club - with its on-again, off-again, giant neon sign out front and a commanding presence on Taylor Road - is a unpretentious meeting place for locals and a rustic destination for out-of-towners.

Already in receipt of his first $1 bill earned at the bar he's in the middle of finalizing the paperwork on, Kevie, 29, is reveling in the chance to make his mark and have some fun with a local landmark lovingly referred to as "The V.C."

Finalizing the paperwork? I'll say. The authorities may be about to finalize him, for he apparently has a prior record, and burglary is a serious crime.

Video here.

Legally, I think the man was an opportunistic squatter who sold liquor without a license. I'm puzzled by the burglary charge. California Penal Code Section 459 defines burglary as:

"entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony (or a petty theft) once inside".
You have to have the intent to commit the felony or petty theft before entering, and if we assume that the man's purpose was to open a business, how can it be shown that he intended to commit a felony or petty theft?

In California, selling alcohol without a license is a misdemeanor. And unless they can show that he went in there intending to actually steal (not merely use) something, I don't see how the the state can make the burglary charge stick. If he used electricity or other utilities and did not pay for them, that might constitute theft, but they'd have to prove that he broke into the place intending to steal utilities -- difficult to prove because his conduct in running the business is also quite consistent with intending to pay for utilities.

And if what this commenter says is true, the burglary charge is just baloney:

The owner told Kevie that he could stay at the Valencia Club throughout the weekend. That does not construe a "burglary charge". This guy made some mistakes but let's cut him some slack. At least he isn't a welfare leech. He's made an attempt at making a living although technically in violation of the law. His worst offense is that he was selling liquor without a license which is a victimless crime and is artificially made illegal by a controlling government. In Europe, it is common for many countries to sell liquor in public places without the stigma that it has in the United States.
That made me want to know what the owner might have to say. If he was in there with permission, the burglary charge is way off the mark.

So, after a little digging, I found the above comment confirmed by this account of the man's interaction with the owner's agent:

Reno's Len Travis, property manager for the owner, said he had no idea Kevie was continuing to perpetuate what turned out to be a well-structured hoax inside the Valencia Club.

Kevie had been part of a cleanup crew after the previous bar owner - the DJPR partnership of Roseville - abandoned the business in early June, Travis said. DJPR had owned the Valencia Club bar and liquor license for the five previous years. The owner of the building and 1¼-acre property is Kenneth Stimson of Marina Del Rey.

Travis said he had a surprise encounter with Kevie last week when he dropped by to check on what he thought was a vacant building.

"I opened up the doors and he was already inside," Travis said. "I said, 'What are you doing here?' and he said he was here finishing cleaning up. He had done a pretty good job."

Travis said he gave Kevie some instructions on what else needed cleaning and left Kevie there. Travis said he thought Kevie was still employed by DJPR.

"I came back on the weekend and not only was he still here but he had an 'open' sign," Travis said. "I thought it was a joke and told him, 'You can't do that.'"

Kevie told him it wouldn't happen again, he said.

"I told him that if it did happen again, he shouldn't come around here again," Travis said.

If that's what happened -- a misunderstanding by the owner coupled with a warning not to open a bar -- this was anything but a burglary! I don't even think this rises to the level of trespassing.

Since when do owners give burglars instructions on what needs cleaning?

I think the most they have on this guy is selling liquor without a license. And the more I think about this, the more I suspect the possibility that the owner looked the other way.

MORE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

The comments are appreciated, although please bear in mind that as a libertarian I strongly the property rights of property owners.

However, I find it hard to see the owner in this case (who appears to have known the guy was there) as much of a victim.

The only victim I can see is the State of California, which didn't get its license fee.

posted by Eric at 03:14 PM | Comments (12)

It's The Carbon Footprint

In response to the moral panic over CO2 production I was inspired to say a few words:

Even if every one in the US committed mass suicide it would make very little difference to the global CO2 burden if we don't get the Chinese aboard.

If it weren't for the carbon footprint I'd suggest a war to bomb them back into the stone age. To save the planet.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:10 PM | Comments (2)

What California most needs right now -- a defrocking campaign!

While it may seem a bit frivolous, I joined the "California Serpentine Awareness! Keep our Rock! Fight SB 624" Facebook group, because I think the Trial Lawyers are being ridiculous and imperious with their heavy-handed attempt to defrock California's official state rock.

The lawmaker (Senator Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles) and others who would like to see serpentine stripped of its title say the olive green rock found all over the state is a grim symbol of the deadly cancers associated with asbestos, which can be found in the rock. Geologists, who have taken to Twitter on behalf of the rock, assert that serpentine is harmless and is being demonized by advocates for people with asbestos-related diseases and possibly their trial lawyers, too.
For God's sake, it's a naturally occurring rock that's found in the ground all over California!

But because some self-appointed moralizers from the Trial Lawyer coalition think it sends the wrong message (by reminding people that asbestos occurs naturally), they want it removed as the State Rock.

Must every last thing be politicized? Fortunately, geologists are getting into the debate; the Times article quotes a retired geologist who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey.

"There is no way anyone is going to get bothered by casual exposure to that kind of rock...unless they were breaking it up with a sledgehammer year after year."

Dr. Ross and other opponents of the bill are concerned that removing serpentine, which is occasionally used in jewelry, as the state's rock would demonize it and thus inspire litigation against museums, property owners and other sites where the rocks sit; they cite the inclusion of a letter of support from the Consumer Attorneys of California with the bill as evidence.

"If they keep the asbestos issue bubbling," Dr. Ross said, "it means money for politicians, more money for lawyers and money for scientists to investigate."

I think the trial lawyers not only want to drum up litigation, but find it embarrassing to their cause that asbestos occurs naturally.

The text of the legislation states that the rock is "toxic":

"California should not designate a rock known to be toxic to the health of its residents as the state's official rock"
Actually, most rocks are toxic if ground up and inhaled. And the asbestos replacement ("man-made asbestos") -- the now-ubiquitous fiberglass -- has been identified as a "potent carcinogen" by the government, and it is being called "the asbestos of the 21st Century." Which means that the Trial Lawyers will always have plenty of new demons, but for now, they want to keep the focus on asbestos, because that's where the money is.

And a state which faces bankruptcy can fritter away valuable time and resources on the Trial Lawyers' rock demonization campaign. According to Michael Fumento, the risks have been seriously overstated (the "one single fiber can kill you" campaign), and few people realize that asbestos is everywhere:

The "single fiber" and "no threshold" assertions rest on the premise that asbestos fibers are some sort of alien substance that the body simply can't handle-like the plastic in a landfill that will stay there forever because nature is incapable of breaking it down. "Inhaled asbestos fibers," wrote Medical Self Care magazine, "bypass the body's respiratory defenses and settle deep in the lungs."

In fact, as the Encyclopedia Britannica's Medical and Health Annual explains, in most instances inhaled asbestos fibers never reach the lower respiratory tract but are removed from the lung by the continuously moving mucous lining. If they get past that point, other defense systems will usually remove them or isolate them so they can do no harm.

And a good thing, too, for asbestos -- far from being a microbe brought back to earth by a falling satellite or some sinister substance concocted in a Defense Department laboratory -- is as natural a pollutant as house dust. It has been around longer than man. Because it occurs in rock formations, everyone is exposed to it: in the air, in water, in food.

In some areas asbestos concentrations exceeding those permitted by government workplace regulations have been recorded in natural dustfall along roads. Regardless of where we work or attend school, all of us are exposed to some level of the mineral every day.

The crucial question is how much.

Overload, obviously, is unacceptable: a miner or shipyard worker, breathing in large amounts of asbestos each day for decades, may have large amounts of asbestos getting past his body's defense system or even causing that system to break down. On the other hand, analyses of normal healthy adult lung tissues of persons who have not been exposed in the workplace have found that they contain millions of asbestos fibers.

Moreover, chrysotile (the asbestos which occurs in serpentine) is far less dangerous than amphibole asbestos:
the research data indicates that although chrysotile asbestos can produce mesothelioma in man, the total number of such cases is small and the required doses extremely large. Another important factor is that while in general, amphiboles have been shown to cause lung disease and cancer after short but intense exposures, chrysotile-related illness is associated with very high, long-term exposures only.
So there is no reason for any sane person in California to be worried in the least about serpentine rock. To call the rock "toxic" is disingenuous in the extreme.

But that will be the law! And in California there will be no state rock!

Romero's legislation would leave California without an official state rock.

But Californians might not notice because the state has nearly three dozen other titleholders -- including an official state fish (golden trout), an official state grass (purple needlegrass) and an official state fossil (the saber-toothed cat).

Hmmm.... If they go through with this idiocy, then by God, have I ever got a proposal for the official state rock!


Why shouldn't my favorite rock be the official state rock? And don't anyone try telling me it's toxic or that it "sends the wrong message," either. Or I'll make you listen!

And while we're on the subject of renaming official state treasures, I think it's "high" time we changed the official state grass! Purple needlegrass, my ass! Come on! Everyone knows what the official state grass is:



And as to the official state fossil, while I have always been partial to the saber-toothed cat, I would be willing to consider substituting a much more vicious animal.



Time for a change!

posted by Eric at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

In protest, I quote your words!

I just learned that Clayton Cramer has been sued for quoting from and commenting on a newspaper article headlined "Slain store clerk, 77, mourned." I found the article here and as I am assuming it is the same article, I will exercise my Fair Use rights under the First Amendment, and reprint it here simply as a comment on the slimy tactics of those who would use the copyright laws in such an underhanded manner. What follow are the magic words of a news story that the authors are claiming belong exclusively to them, and which they say I cannot quote!

Quote them I will, not because I am especially interested in the story, but because I believe our freedom depends on it:

[Text and discussion follow as an extended entry, for the convenience of interested readers, as well as those who don't want to scroll past a long passage -- the merits of which I am not interested per se.]

Continue reading "In protest, I quote your words!"

posted by Eric at 11:09 PM | Comments (3)

Where's The Party, Man?

Francis Cianfrocca is discussing Class Warfare In America. At the end of his piece he mentions a businessman's lament.

...I had a conversation yesterday with an old friend who runs a high-ten-figure hedge fund. (They're flat for the year, like the rest of the hedge-fund world.) What he wants is to join a political party that believes in not taking people's money and in not telling them what to do: small govt without the bibles. This is something I hear from business guys all the time: the whole "social liberal/fiscal conservative" thing. So far, there's no political movement they can believe in.
In fact the lack of such a party is why we are in so much trouble. When the Bible thumping gets too loud the fiscal conservatives stop paying attention to the money and go all in on correcting the social flaws in America at the point of a government gun. The swing voters get disgusted. They listen to the promises lies from the Democrats. And when the Ds get in they run wild. The thumpers then start in with the "what happened to the money - you crooks?" Then the conservatives get fiscal for a while and the cycle starts again. In the mean time the socially liberal/fiscally conservative segment of the population is continually whipsawed.

Which leads to the question: do conservatives really want small government or do they want power over people who are in their opinion self-destructive?

If conservatives want small government (for real) I think broadening the coalition might prove helpful. We are going to need all the deviants and dopers we can enlist (and more) to restrict the leviathan and keep it restricted. That means that even if conservatives get power it might not be wise for them to start in on the margins of their coalition. Because you know what happens when you run out of margin. Here is how Bill Whittle describes loss of margin: "Out of altitude, out of airspeed, out of ideas. Eject! Eject! Eject!" The question is: are conservatives tired of getting ejected? Are they smart enough to figure out what to do? My answer is - most likely YES on the first and NO on the second.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:44 PM | Comments (11)

The Problem Is Self Induced

Eric at This I-dosing thing is giving me heavy flashbacks, man! is discussing how there is a call for government to look into how kids (it is always the kids) are changing their brain waves with music instead of drugs. And the panic is that currently the government has no control over music. Or stereo headphones.

To which I responded:

Wait until the DEA finds out the brain is full of cannabis analogs called endocannabinoids. And that it is full of receptors for such drugs which are referred to in the literature as CB1 and CB2 receptors.

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Or worse what if they find out about the heroin analogs the body makes? And that making those analogs in response to food or sex is rather common. Strenuous exercise will do it too.

Which is why I recommend an oral sex warm up followed by strenuous sex. Fuck the government.

We have set the precedent of giving the government control of how we change our consciousness. At least in part. Their nose is now under the tent. Soon we will have the whole camel. Especially if they don't let this crisis go to waste.

posted by Simon at 12:14 PM | Comments (1)

This I-dosing thing is giving me heavy flashbacks, man!

What is getting high? Does it require drugs? What are drugs? Must they be actual chemical substances ingested by a person? Or might things which stimulate the body to produce its own highs be called "drugs"?

These questions were on my mind as I read about the latest form of hysteria and counter-hysteria:

I-Dosing: How teenagers are getting 'digitally high' from music they download from internet
That's quite a headline, but if you read through the piece carefully, there's not much by way of scientific proof.
This is the world of 'i-Dosing', the new craze sweeping the internet in which teenagers used so-called 'digital drugs' to change their brains in the same way as real-life narcotics.

They believe the repetitive drone-like music will give them a 'high' that takes them out of reality, only legally available and downloadable on the Internet.

The craze has so far been popular among teenagers in the U.S. but given how easily available the videos are, it is just a matter of time before it catches on in Britain.

Those who come up with the 'doses' claim different tracks mimic different sensations you can feel by taking drugs such as Ecstasy or smoking cannabis.

The reactions have been partially sceptical but some songs have become wildly popular, receiving nearly half a million hits on YouTube.

Under one called 'Shroom', Berecz wrote: 'just listened to this... at the beginning I began to see some blinking light (while eyes closed), then the pitch went up and I began to feel that Im sinking into my chair...as the pitch went down I began to feel confident, and very relaxed, and I dont want to stand up from my chair and I dont want to say any words...'

That's the claim, and I suppose if I got excited enough I could say similar things about the Grateful Dead or even Doowop music.

Fascinatingly, some of the people in the narcotics enforcement bureaucracy are taking this very seriously, claiming that the music can lead to drugs, and that to keep kids "safe," parents should "take action."

But there has been such alarm in the U.S. that the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs has issued a warning to children not to do it.

'Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places, spokesman Mark Woodward said.

He added that parental awareness is key to preventing future problems, since I-dosing could indicate a willingness to experiment with drugs.

'So that's why we want parents to be aware of what sites their kids are visiting and not just dismiss this as something harmless on the computer.

'If you want to reach these kids, save these kids and keep these kids safe, parents have to be aware. They've got to take action.'

Sheesh. This sounds almost as dangerous as Jazz Hysteria. Back in the day, jazz was claimed to lead the kids to cocaine and morphine, and cause them to abandon religion.

No seriously.


Or how about the belief that pornography is a "drug" and actually generates "erototoxins" in the brain?

Get enough of the neurolaw crackpots involved, and you never know where this might lead.

But back to I-dosing. The experts say that if there is anything going on, it's most likely a placebo effect:

although they use a very modern method of spreading themselves, i-Dosing is actually a variation on a very old method of achieving an altered state.

In 1839 German physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove found that two tones played at slightly different frequencies in each ear makes the listener think they are hearing a quick beat.

He called the phenomenon 'binaural beats', and it has been the subject of research in the two centuries since.

Binaural beat therapy is used in clinical settings to research hearing and sleep cycles, to induce various brain wave states, and treat anxiety.

Dr Helane Wahbeh, a Naturopathic Physician and Clinician Researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, said: 'Binaural beats happen when opposite ears receive two different sound waves.

'And normally, the difference in sound between each ear help people get directional information about the source of the sound.

'But when you listen to these sounds with stereo headphones, the listener senses the difference between the two frequencies as another beat that sounds like it's coming from the inside of the head.'

But Dr Wahbeh denied there was any possibility that someone could experience similar effects to cocaine or ecstasy.

She said: 'We did a small controlled study with four people, and we did not see any brain wave activity shifting to match the binaural beat that people were listening to.'

However, other researchers say the 'high' listeners claim to feel may actually be a placebo effect determined by the individual's desire to feet it.

I think it may be a bit like voodoo or shamanism, and I don't reject entirely the idea that excitable people can work themselves into little mini frenzies. (In North America, the idea is at least as old as Indian culture, or even Salem witch culture.)

But I also think that some of these kids may be putting everyone on, and I am reminded of the Bananadine ("Mellow Yellow") hysteria of the 1960s. There is absolutely nothing in banana peels which will get a person high, but enough people started doing it and claiming that they were high, that it was taken very seriously -- to the point where there was a government investigation:

The wire services, and after them the whole country, fell for it hook, line, and roach clip. "Smokeouts" were held at Berkeley. The following Easter Sunday, the New York Times reported, "beatniks and students chanted 'banana-banana' at a 'be-in' in Central Park" and paraded around carrying a two-foot wooden banana. The Food and Drug Administration announced it was investigating "the possible hallucinogenic effects of banana peels."
Perhaps the FDA could look into this dangerous "I-dosing" trend. At the very least, if these young people are stimulating brain receptors, the "music" might very well be a "medical device" and run afoul of some of our complex newer laws. We can't be too careful.

After all, we have learned a lot since 1967.

posted by Eric at 11:49 AM | Comments (3)

We still have the First Amendment, right?

Andrew Breitbart posted a video segment which shows racist remarks being made by a USDA official and applauded by NAACP members. (M. Simon's earlier post has the embed and a discussion.) When Glenn Reynolds linked the video, he also linked a post by The Anchoress who said she wanted to see the entire video. And in a later post, she explains that the video in its entirety actually tends to exonerate the woman who made the racist remarks, as she changed her mind.

That does not mean that the woman in question (Shirley Sherrod) didn't make the earlier racist remarks or that they weren't applauded; only that it was unfair -- and opportunistic -- for the NAACP to collude with her firing over being a racist. If the NAACP had the entire video all along (it was their event, right?), surely they knew what the woman had said, so I find myself wondering whether the goal was to make it appear that the "Tea Baggers" and the much-demonized Andrew Breitbart set out to nail this woman and get her fired.

Obviously, to fire someone on the basis of a 2 minute segment excerpted from a 43 minute long speech -- without listening to the entire speech -- is manifestly unfair. But it is the Obama administration and the NAACP that ought to be ashamed of themselves here, not Breitbart, who never fired anyone. What is being missed here is the more important fact that the people were applauding the racist statements -- before she came to discuss her later change of heart. I think the applause is far more significant than her statements (which do constitute admissions of the sort of racism which the NAACP and nearly everyone would find intolerable if expressed by a white person). Whether they retracted their applause, I don't know. The more information that comes out, the better.

But as far as I'm concerned, unless it can be shown that the audience retracted their applause, Andrew Brietbart did highlight NAACP racism.

Remember, this organization accused the Tea Party movement of racism with no proof whatsoever.

Apparently, that does not matter to the liberal media windbags; in the San Francisco Chronicle, they are actually calling for Andrew Breitbart to be prosecuted:

Breitbart may also be guilty of Internet harassment. He certainly should be made a high-profile example to discourage others from these uses of the computer and The Internet to harass a person. Enough is enough.

Computer Crimes: The DOJ's Information.

If you believe you're the victim of a cybercrime, here's a link to another DOJ web page called "Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, United States Department of Justice."

DO NOT RESIST using this resource.

Well isn't that just lovely.

So much for the First Amendment.

The people we entrust to give us the news and who have never hesitated to take things out of context, Dowdify quotes, doctor evidence, present fraudulent documents, are calling an undoctored video excerpt "computer harassment."

If that's the standard, how might the Chronicle would feel about the out-and-out video fakery by Think Progress? (See my post on the subject, and Bob Owens has more here, via Glenn Reynolds.)

Surely the S.F. Chronicle would want Think Progress to be "made a high-profile example to discourage others from these uses of the computer" and to stop "Internet harassment," right?


It is bad enough that there are always people lurking in the background who want to dismantle our freedoms, but for the MSM to start speaking that way ought to be unthinkable. They're supposed to be guardians of the First Amendment, and for them to urge that criminal charges be brought against citizen journalists is despicable.

Some things are worse than accusations and counter-accusations of racism.

MORE: It now appears that not only did the NAACP have the video all along, but their president was in the audience:

the audience apparently included Jealous himself, who later claimed to have been "snookered" by Breitbart. Sherrod acknowledges the presence of "the president" in the beginning of the speech. It seems that Jealous, in his haste to distance himself from a situation his organization created in the first place, either didn't recall the speech or didn't bother to check for himself whether the NAACP had the full speech in its archives. That pressure to act quickly wouldn't have existed, either, had the NAACP refrained from attacking the Tea Party's motivations rather than its arguments.
Captain Ed thinks Sherrod should get her job back, and I certainly agree -- even though I'm not sure the job should have existed in the first place. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

MORE: I also agree that "Context for we, but not for thee," seems to be the philosophy.

AND MORE: Accusing Andrew Breitbart of computer crime is small potatoes compared to what Frank J. is accusing him of -- RACE CARD THEFT!

Breitbart stole my race card!

That's mine! I drew it! Yes, I forgot to watermark it with the IMAO logo, but that's because I'm lazy. Plus, I usually figure the crappiness of my drawings is a natural defense against them being stolen. But not for a schemer like Breitbart (or should I say "Theifbart") who's always trying to bring down poor innocent liberals who just don't like honkeys or only want to help down and out pimps get houses. He doesn't care who he hurts or whose blog he steals art from.

Well, the liberals are always trying to bring him down, but they can't because they're stupid hippies. But now Theifbart has a real enemy. Remember that guy, Glenn Reynolds or something, who I exposed his habits of making smoothies by putting puppies in a blender? I'm going to bring Theifbart down just like that. Plus I'm going to sue for damages of stealing my art: $0.10 financial and $80,000,000 emotional.

Read it all. Andrew Breitbart should be very afraid.

(Via the Puppy Blender.)

MORE: On a more serious note, Dave Price has some great insights:

Contrary to lefty spin, this context adds little and excuses less; no one ever thought she just got up there to talk about how she doesn't like white people, so that this vignette about not helping a white farmer turns out to be part of an inspirational story of realizing class warfare is more important than racism (hooray!) isn't a big surprise. Sherrod admits to racial discrimination...
Read it all. I agree with Glenn Reynolds, who linked Dave's post and later adds this (quoting Dan Riehl):
pardon me if I don't play useful idiot and place a kick me, again, I'm stupid sign on my back as I've seen too many of the usual hand wringers on the Right already do in this matter.
I'm not about to wring my hands over this one.

And Dan Riehl couldn't possibly be wringing his hands less!

posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)

The horse has left the barn, and the barn is gone!
And we long since threw away the toothpaste tubes!

I think M. Simon got it right in his post about the decline in morality (which was already in steep decline before the homos are alleged to have destroyed it).

A commenter in an earlier post about a subject I tried to keep in the closet yesterday called "the legitimizing of homosexuality" a "lynchpin in a program to undercut Western sexual morality, and to disrupt the legal and social constraints that give weight, strength, and stability to the family unit." First off, I should say that whether homosexuality is "legitimate" is up to individuals themselves. This is supposed to be a free country, and I would hate to see anyone told what to think about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of homosexuality. I never stopped much to think about whether it was legitimate though; I believe in tolerance of other people's lifestyles as long as they don't harm me, but whether the lifestyles are legitimate or not does not especially interest me. Who would care whether I thought someone else's lifestyle was legitimate? And unless I knew and respected the person why would I care whether someone thought my lifestyle was legitimate? So I don't know how to answer the legitimacy question, other than to say that no one should be forced to believe in something he opposes.

As to the "lynchpin in a program to undercut Western sexual morality, and to disrupt the legal and social constraints that give weight, strength, and stability to the family unit" Simon pointed out that the toothpaste is out of the tube, and the horse has left the barn:


You are not going to get that toothpaste back into the tube. The horse has left the barn. The culture has changed.

Western sexual morality as you think you remember it (I saw a study once that in the US in the 1700s about 1/3 of the brides were already knocked up - true? I haven't cross checked - [see above]) is gone.

You want to do something about Western morality? Forget gays. The bigger hole is adultery and divorce. If we could bring back stoning for adultery and 40 lashes for fornication we might get somewhere. It all started going bad long before women got the vote. But it didn't help.

I think he's right, but I don't mean to just rehash M. Simon's post.

What he reminded me of was something I saw the other day, which took the form of a challenge to libertarians from Lionel Tiger:

...in the literature of libertarians (to the embarrassingly limited extent I know it) there is a failure to confront fully the fact that there are two sexes and that each has forms of interaction and contest with the other. In my The Decline of Males of 1999 (St Martin's) I produced the argument that the introduction of female control of reproduction, most dramatically in the form of the Pill as well as internal contraceptives, had the effect of "alienating males from the means of reproduction." Glib though this might seem, enormous changes in male/female ratios in education, increasingly in the economy, and in attitudes overall have in fact followed broadly these very parsimonious alterations in the sexual contract. Perhaps most profoundly, in the modern and modernizing world, about 40% of babies are born to unmarried women. While some may see this as an artifact of moral decline, irresponsible hedonism, or the alteration of welfare payments, it is a bedrock ethical matter. A new kinship system is emerging that I have called bureaugamy, the main players within which are a woman, a baby, and a bureaucrat. Sorting out the meaning of such a development is worthwhile challenge for worthwhile libertarians.
Bureaugamy is a perfectly ugly word for a perfectly ugly phenomenon. Government in the procreation business. So much for that "privacy of our bedrooms" stuff....

And there is no question that the Pill has had considerable social costs. I also suspect that in many cases it changes the personalities of the women who take it, transforming them into sterile workers, and best of all for the world which uses them, they don't even realize it.

So, Lionel Tiger's point is well taken. And while I oppose bureaugamy and agree that the effects of contraceptives have not been all positive, once again, that toothpaste is not going back in that tube. For better or for worse, the pill simply removed and delinked from the sex act the most serious consequence of it. But then, so did the cures for syphilis and gonorrhea. These things result not from giant plots against "the culture," nor were they intended to be linchpins in organized movements. They resulted from advances in science. Years of research. The invention of anesthesia changed the way humanity viewed pain, which is another vast cultural change. I think the important thing about these changes is acknowledging that they occur, because the more we understand these mechanisms, the less likely we are to be misled and manipulated by our ignorance, or by demagogues who rely on our ignorance. If we are alienated from pain and from the means of reproduction, it is good to know that, and to understand how to use that knowledge to our advantage, lest others (especially those who rule) use it to our disadvantage.

posted by Eric at 03:41 PM | Comments (38)

barking back at authoritarian dogs

An old friend recently told me in an email that she worries about the leftism of her grandchildren:

I must say I do not understand my grandchildren's liberal leanings. It amazes me that intelligent people can believe in this administration. It is making me ill when I permit myself to dwell on it.
I replied,
[the liberalism of young people] is indeed very trying, except I can remember what a flaming leftie I was at that age. It took living in Berkeley -- the most left wing city in the country -- to make me see the light. What I try to tell people is that today's liberals are not liberal; they are authoritarians. It's tough to get people to think.
Every time I get pissed off at a liberal, I remember that I was one once, and that whoever it is I'm pissed off at today might have been me yesterday.

Whether I could have been persuaded at the time by the theoretical me of the future, I don't know. I might not have been budged in my thinking in the least, and I might have even been outraged. Yet sometimes, things sink in, and are remembered later, even if they're not persuasive now. I think that arguments are mostly futile, because they tend to become contests of will -- games which each side wants to win. And when winning is the goal, persuasion cannot occur. It is almost mathematical. If an argument becomes a contest, then it's analogous to a game or a athletic match in which the goal is to score points, get all the marbles, and achieve victory. I find it unimaginable that anyone in a competitive contest of that sort could possibly "persuade" an "opponent" that he really ought to just accept defeat and lose -- for his own "betterment." To say that to an opponent in, say, a golf game, would be ridiculous on its face. Losers who compete don't want to lose, and they tend to come back for another turn. This is why arguments tend to be pointless whenever they degenerate into competitive contests. And even if one side is a better debater and point scorer, that utterly fails to persuade the other side, although it might make him want to brush up on his debating skills -- the same way a losing golfer might want to work harder at his game.

So, unfortunately, most arguments fail to persuade anyone. I suppose that in rare cases, between two people who trust each other (itself a rarity) that there might occasionally be an initial agreement -- sincere on both sides -- that the goal lies in getting to the truth and not in a game of persuasion. But would that be an argument? I don't think so. It might be called an honest exchange of views.

But to get to my point, I have noticed that liberalism has degenerated into a form of left-wing authoritarianism. But because people do not like being called authoritarians, I don't think that's the best way to persuade them, so I just leave it at "I don't like being told what to do." And "there is nothing liberal about invading people's lives and telling them what to do."

Maybe they'll think about it, and maybe they won't, but I think it's preferable to having arguments, which often do more harm than good.

An additional problem is that some people like arguments. There are few things more frustrating to a truth-seeker than to be set upon by an argument-lover. There are people in this world who are not even willing to agree to disagree.

I've known many dogs like that too. When dogs bark at me, I sometimes bark back. Not because I'm a dog (although I do a good impersonation of one), but because I enjoy pretending to be one. And I try to limit my barking only to respond to dogs I think are being unreasonable in their barking. That's precisely the type of self-important dog (usually a habitual gratuitous noisemaker) who gets especially outraged upon hearing a strange bark in the hood, especially one emanating from a fraudulent wannabe canine type. But I never imagine that I could hope to win a barking contest with such dogs, because invariably, they are the type who always have to get in that last bark as you walk away. Who gets to have the last bark is of course very subjective, but I suspect that no matter how determined I might be, the dog will always win, simply because dogs have better hearing.

So I can bark all I want, but I flatter myself if I think I'm winning.

posted by Eric at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)

House of Cards

Housing starts fall again. We may not see a rebound for a long time -- and if we do see one soon, that may actually be a bad thing.

Both Dems and the GOP created a housing bubble by encouraging lenders to make loans to people who weren't good risks through policies at Fannie, Freddie and FHA that tended to hide those risks. When we finally had a cyclical recession bad enough to shake out the weak hands, the effect snowballed across the economy, freezing credit markets, costing taxpayers trillions in bailouts, and pushing unemployment higher. (This is an object lesson in the foolishness of chasing social justice and aggregate demand with government-sponsored market distortions -- real growth and real prosperity come from productivity improvements.)

Now we have too much housing. Just like with all bubbles, It's going to take years for the excess supply to be sopped up. That's good news for people buying homes, but bad news for anyone in construction.

The bloodletting may not be over yet. A double-dip will shake out yet more weak hands, and I see no indication the Obama admin has learned its lesson -- they seem to think re-inflating the bubble with more incentives and risky loans is their best option. Those who don't learn from history...

UPDATE: More here.

From reading Matt Ridley and Ray Kurzweil though, there's something I think is missing from the multiplier debate -- the private sector of 2010 is far, far more productive than that of of 1950 (in fact, today's poverty line is about where the average income was then). Government... not so much. Thus, it could be the mutliplier was once over 1 but has since fallen below it, due to the relatively dynamic nature of the free market.

posted by Dave at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

A Decline In Morals

I'm having an interesting discussion at Moral Authority about the homosexual plot to destroy American values and take down American civilization.

That is not the first time American civilization took the short road to decline. Marriages were once decided on the basis of economic interests and personalities mostly by parents. And then by 1830 or so romance was all the rage and parents had lost much of their say in the matter. Would America ever be the same?

Between 1708/9, when Samuel Gerrish courted Mary Sewall, and 1835, when Theodore Weld courted Angelina Grimke, the rituals of courtship underwent profound changes. Parental influence and involvement in the selection of their children's marriage partner visibly declined. Young women and men were increasingly free to pick or reject a spouse with little parental interference. At the same time that courtship grew freer, however, marriage became an increasingly difficult transition point, particularly for women, and more and more women elected not to marry at all.

In seventeenth and early eighteenth century New England, courtship was not simply a personal, private matter. The law gave parents "the care and power...for the disposing of their Children in Marriage" and it was expected that they would take an active role overseeing their child's choice of a spouse. A father in Puritan New England had a legal right to determine which men would be allowed to court his daughters and a legal responsibility to give or withhold his consent from a child's marriage. A young man who courted a woman without her father's permission might be sued for inveigling the woman's affections.

Parental involvement in courtship was expected because marriage was not merely an emotional relationship between individuals but also a property arrangement among families. A young man was expected to bring land or some other form of property to a marriage while a young woman was expected to bring a dowry worth about half as much.

As you can see we have never recovered. Decisions that were once made rationally are now consummated based on half-witted ideas like romance.

The Puritans had the right idea

Puritan New Englanders, in sharp contrast, did not regard love as a necessary precondition for marriage. Indeed, they associated romantic love with immaturity and impermanence. True love, the Puritans believed, would appear following marriage. A proper marriage, in their view, was based not on love and affection, but on rational considerations of property, compatibility, and religious piety. Thus, it was considered acceptable for a young man to pursue "a goodly lass with aboundation of money," so long as he could eventually love his wife-to-be.
Giving up the strict rules has lead to ruination.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, parental influence over the choice of a spouse had sharply declined. One indication of a decline in parental control was a sudden upsurge in the mid-eighteenth century the number of brides who were pregnant when they got married. In the seventeenth century, fathers--supported by local churches and courts--exercised close control over their childrens' sexual behavior and kept sexual intercourse prior to marriage at extremely low levels. The percentage of women who bore a first child less than eight-and-a half months after marriage was below ten percent. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the figure had shot up to over forty percent.
So as I stated in a comment to Moral Authority in response to this comment:
The legitimizing of homosexuality is one lynchpin in a program to undercut Western sexual morality, and to disrupt the legal and social constraints that give weight, strength, and stability to the family unit.

You are not going to get that toothpaste back into the tube. The horse has left the barn. The culture has changed.

Western sexual morality as you think you remember it (I saw a study once that in the US in the 1700s about 1/3 of the brides were already knocked up - true? I haven't cross checked - [see above]) is gone.

You want to do something about Western morality? Forget gays. The bigger hole is adultery and divorce. If we could bring back stoning for adultery and 40 lashes for fornication we might get somewhere. It all started going bad long before women got the vote. But it didn't help.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

posted by Simon at 10:12 PM | Comments (8)

NAACP Audience Applauds Racism

I think we can learn a couple of things from this. One is: the government is not your friend. If you want their help they are not your servants. They are your masters. Be prepared to kiss a lot of butt from the get go.

Government functionaries are like this as a class. Throw in some racism and it becomes even more unappealing. The cure is to start taking an axe to the structure and cutting it down to size.

Hot Air has more. Including details about the video.

Update: This comment from Hot Air seems relevant.

Just wait until the government running rampant in all the hospitals. "He said he needed his painkiller - well, I fixed his lily white ass."

LibTired on July 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM

And who will you sue? The government? Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

At The Economist, rationing is in demand

A recent editorial in The Economist addresses whether Dr. Donald Berwick (new head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) really intends to ration health care as many conservatives suspect. The editorial calls this claim "politically explosive" but then goes on to defend and rationalize health care rationing:

That leaves the third charge levied against Dr Berwick--that he will become America's "rationer-in-chief" of medical care. This is a politically explosive claim: Americans do not like the sound of rationing. Indeed, the noisiest protests against Mr Obama's reform efforts broke out last August when some Republicans, including Sarah Palin, claimed that "death panels" would eventually decide which sick people to kill off first to save money.

Conservatives point to the doctor's endorsements of Britain's National Health Service, a government-run system that is called "socialism" in right-wing America. What this means, says Dr Barrasso, is that "Dr Berwick is a self-professed supporter of rationing health care."

That is true, but it obscures the larger point. Every health system rations in some way or other; the demand for health care is always greater than the resources available. The question is whether rationing is done openly and as sensibly as possible--or done implicitly, through murky pricing, bureaucratic fiat or denial of care.

Even Paul Ryan, a leading Republican congressman, has acknowledged this. "Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?" he asks. The most objectionable aspect of Dr Berwick's recess appointment is that Americans deserve a grown-up debate about this subject. It appears they will have to wait a bit longer for it.

I'm all for having a grown-up debate, but I think that if we're going to use grown-up terms like "rationing" and "demand," maybe we ought to be clear about what those terms mean.

"Rationing" means allocating rations, usually because they are in short supply:

1. A fixed portion, especially an amount of food allotted to persons in military service or to civilians in times of scarcity.
Are we living in times of scarce health care supply?

The Economist seems to think so, for they say that "demand" exceeds supply:

Every health system rations in some way or other; the demand for health care is always greater than the resources available.
Is that necessarily true?

How is The Economist defining "demand"? Presumably, the writers who think that we Americans "deserve a grown-up debate" are either economists or at least conversant in economics. Now, I am not an economist, but I am somewhat familiar with the word "demand" in the economic sense:

a. The desire to possess a commodity or make use of a service, combined with the ability to purchase it.
Which means that in health care terms, demand would be defined either as:
  • a. how many people want general health care (such as health insurance) and are able to pay for it;
  • b. How many people want a particular treatment for a particular illness, and are able to pay for it.
  • Let's take an unpleasant procedure I touched on in a previous post; colonoscopy. It's not cheap, but it's a good idea for men my age to have it done. The last time I looked, there was no shortage of gastroenterologists and gastroenterology clinics available to perform that procedure on anyone willing to pay for it. So there is adequate supply to meet the demand. As to those who do not want to undergo the procedure or who cannot afford it, there is little demand.

    So what's to ration? Rationing implies a shortage. Not enough to go around. If anyone who wants a given thing who is able to pay for it can get the thing, then by definition the demand is not "greater than the resources available."

    So, even though I am no economist, I think The Economist may be misusing the word "demand."

    Is rationing even the right word?

    I think it's fair to point out that in countries with government health care, there are two year long waiting lists for colonoscopies. And for procedures like heart surgery, forget it. There are not only long waiting lists, but the NHS resorts to punitive denial of treatment for patients who try to buy medical services privately.

    So maybe government health care leads to shortages which would make rationing an inevitable part of government health care. If that's what The Economist wants to say, they should say so.

    posted by Eric at 01:45 PM | Comments (3)


    I think a good way to start off a look at fascism is to look at the root: fasces.

    Fasces are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity".
    In other words the root of fascism is government power. The power to make people behave the "right" way. In the modern sense it is the exaltation of government power. The idea that government force is the answer to most questions.

    We have two sets of fascists in America. A division of labor from the Progressive (among the people who brought you alcohol prohibition) idea that one party should stand for both economic and personal morality (as they defined it). Today we have the economic fascist party and the moral fascist party. And both of those groups believe they are opposed to each other. Too funny.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:43 PM | Comments (7)

    A preference in legs is no small disagreement?
    As a longtime conservative, I believe in building coalitions. We can't agree on everything, and it doesn't help the cause to concentrate on areas of disagreement.
    So says Robert Knight in a Washington Times editorial which concentrates on an area of disagreement on which I'd love not to concentrate.

    In fact, I would so love not to concentrate on this particular area of disagreement that I will not even say what it is. I'll just keep it in the closet. But even though I'd love it if it became as irrelevant as I think it is, Robert Knight thinks it is highly relevant. So relevant and so important that he believes it constitutes one of the three legs of the conservative "stool":

    There's no law against changing one's mind, but honesty should impel these former conservatives to recast their affiliation if they abandon a paramount conservative value and embrace a paramount plank of the left. The conservative movement - and the nation - prospers when it honors all three vital legs of the stool: traditional values, lower taxes (less government) and national security. If I woke up one day and suddenly began agitating for higher taxes and bigger government, I wouldn't be surprised if other conservatives saw that as a deal breaker. And if I joined a group advocating higher taxes, well, that would seal it.

    This is no small disagreement.

    Well, clearly, then, if Knight is right, I don't have a reliable conservative stool to sit on, because I don't like Knight's version of traditional values. I don't share his view of tradition, which I think is basically a modern rehash of 1930s Hays Code morality. I prefer the freer, more fun, pre-code tradition. The traditional values of Mae West.

    Hmmm... What she would say about my "two-legged stool," I do not know.

    Being able to sit on a two-legged conservative stool is quite a balancing act, if I can pull it off. But the thing is, I never really laid much claim to being a conservative. (In fact, I've lost count of the number of times I've specifically said I was not!) Is there any law that says I have to be? Sure, most of the online political tests I've taken show that I'm a conservative, but I'm also a libertarian. To Knight's "as a longtime conservative, I believe in building coalitions," I can just as easily say "As a longtime libertarian, I believe in building coalitions." And I agree with Knight that it doesn't help the cause to concentrate on areas of disagreement.

    So rather than attack Robert Knight's traditional leg, I'll just say that I prefer Mae West's and not get into the details.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: To put it simply (and a bit less facetiously), I think this country has a multiplicity of traditional values. They result from our tradition of freedom.

    To be blunt, saying "FUCK YOU!" to whoever would tell us what to do is as American as apple pie.

    (The Democrats have crossed the FUCK YOU line. Republicans would be wise not to do the same.)

    posted by Eric at 11:57 AM | Comments (4)

    Moral Authority

    In condemning homosexuality Robert Knight, makes an interesting point.

    This is no small disagreement. Conservatism, if it means anything, reflects the understanding that, as Russell Kirk said, "there exists a transcendent moral order, to which we ought to try to conform the ways of society ... such convictions may take the form of belief in 'natural law' or may assume some other expression; but with few exceptions conservatives recognize the need for enduring moral authority."
    Assume for a minute that fighting homosexuality has some useful purpose (I don't think so) where is this moral authority to be found? In government? The most corruptible and corrupt of our institutions? I don't think so.

    And yet my conservative friends are quick to wield the fasces (the power of government) against what ever violates their rigid sense of order. Forgetting altogether that Liberty is a rather disorderly place to live.

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson

    H/T Eric of Classical Values via e-mail.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:34 AM | Comments (29)

    But what if you don't consent?

    The most personal of personal information about you -- your health records -- will soon be online, in the form of what the government calls an "EHR" (short for "Electronic Health Record"):

    New federal regulations issued this week stipulate that the electronic health records--that all Americans are supposed to have by 2014 under the terms of the stimulus law that President Barack Obama signed last year--must record not only the traditional measures of height and weight, but also the Body Mass Index: a measure of obesity.

    The obesity-rating regulation states that every American's electronic health record must: "Calculate body mass index. Automatically calculate and display body mass index (BMI) based on a patient's height and weight."

    The law also requires that these electronic health records be available--with appropriate security measures--on a national exchange.

    Appropriate security measures my ass! Anyone who wants to peruse them -- including college professors doing studies (along with their students) will be able to become a "user" so long as the appropriate bureaucrat says so.

    The CNS news article seems more concerned about BMI information than anything else. Sorry, but the issue is not whether the federal government can access my body mass index so much as whether it should be able to access anything at all about my medical records without my consent. And, even the briefest perusal of the "law" (if it's fair to dignify such a monstrosity with such a name) reveals that the BMI is only a small part of the mandated EHR database.

    The Secretary adopts the following general certification criteria for Complete EHRs or EHR Modules. Complete EHRs or EHR Modules must include the capability to perform the following functions electronically and in accordance with all applicable standards and implementation specifications adopted in this part:

    (a) Drug-drug, drug-allergy, drug-formulary checks.

    (1) Alerts. Automatically and electronically generate and indicate in real-time, alerts at the point of care for drug-drug and drug-allergy contraindications based on medication list, medication allergy list, age, and computerized provider order entry (CPOE).

    (2) Formulary checks. Enable a user to electronically check if drugs are in a formulary or preferred drug list in accordance with the standard specified in §170.205(b).

    (3) Customization. Provide certain users with administrator rights to deactivate, modify, and add rules for drug-drug and drug-allergy checking. (4) Alert statistics. Automatically and electronically track, record, and generate reports on the number of alerts responded to by a user.

    (b) Maintain up-to-date problem list. Enable a user to electronically record, modify, and retrieve a patient's problem list for longitudinal care in accordance with:

    (1) The standard specified in §170.205(a)(2)(i)(A); or

    (2) At a minimum, the version of the standard specified in §170.205(a)(2)(i)(B).

    (c) Maintain active medication list. Enable a user to electronically record, modify, and retrieve a patient's active medication list as well as medication history for longitudinal care in accordance with the standard specified in §170.205(a)(2)(iv).

    (d) Maintain active medication allergy list. Enable a user to electronically record, modify, and retrieve a patient's active medication allergy list as well as medication allergy history for longitudinal care.

    (e) Record and chart vital signs.

    (1) Vital signs. Enable a user to electronically record, modify, and retrieve a patient's vital signs including, at a minimum, the height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.

    (2) Calculate body mass index. Automatically calculate and display body mass index (BMI) based on a patient's height and weight.

    (3) Plot and display growth charts. Plot and electronically display, upon request, growth charts for patients 2-20 years old.

    (f) Smoking status. Enable a user to electronically record, modify, and retrieve the smoking status of a patient. Smoking status types must include: current smoker, former smoker, or never smoked.

    (g) Incorporate laboratory test results.

    (1) Receive results. Electronically receive clinical laboratory test results in a structured format and display such results in human readable format.

    (2) Display codes in readable format. Electronically display in human readable format any clinical laboratory tests that have been received with LOINC® codes.

    (3) Display test report information. Electronically display all the information for a test report specified at 42 CFR 493.1291(c)(1) through (7).

    (4) Update. Enable a user to electronically update a patient's record based upon received laboratory test results.

    (h) Generate patient lists. Enable a user to electronically select, sort, retrieve, and output a list of patients and patients' clinical information, based on user-defined demographic data, medication list, and specific conditions.

    (i) Report quality measures.

    (1) Display. Calculate and electronically display quality measures as specified by CMS or states.

    (2) Submission. Enable a user to electronically submit calculated quality measures in accordance with the standard and implementation specifications specified in §170.205(e).

    (j) Check insurance eligibility. Enable a user to electronically record and display patients' insurance eligibility, and submit insurance eligibility queries to public or private payers and receive an eligibility response in accordance with the applicable standards and implementation specifications specified in §170.205(d)(1) or (2).

    (k) Submit claims. Enable a user to electronically submit claims to public or private payers in accordance with the standard and implementation specifications specified in §170.205(d)(3).

    (l) Medication reconciliation. Electronically complete medication reconciliation of two or more medication lists by comparing and merging into a single medication list that can be electronically displayed in real-time.

    (m) Submission to immunization registries. Electronically record, retrieve, and transmit immunization information to immunization registries in accordance with:

    (1) One of the standards specified in §170.205(h)(1) and, at a minimum, the version of the standard specified in §170.205(h)(2); or

    (2) The applicable state-designated standard format.

    Etc. Not only is my BMI none of the government's business, but neither are my medications, my shots, my growth records, my "smoking status" nor any of the other stuff listed above (along with whatever will be in the amended regs which are sure to come).

    This is the most monstrous invasion of privacy I have ever seen.

    And the people on the left who put it over continue to hide behind the smokescreen that they value "privacy." As if allowing you to have an abortion or do what you want to do in the bedroom gives them license to create and maintain files on every last aspect of your life.

    This EHR database mandate was part of another massive unconstitutional legal scheme called the "2009 Economic Stimulus Bill":

    ...the bills that passed both the House and Senate created an "Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology" and called for the coordinator to create a national database and a plan for "the utilization of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014."
    Got that? Invading your privacy and putting your medical records online is being done under cover of stimulating the economy. Few words exist in the English language to properly characterize such supreme arrogance.

    Think you can opt out if you want?

    YOU CAN'T!

    This is law. Your health records. Online.

    Back in the 60s, there was a term for people who wanted to invade people's privacy and tell them what to do.

    They were called pigs.

    I'd call them that if I thought that a 1960s term might persuade them, but I don't think anything will. This stuff is about pure, raw, power, and they are not going to back down. They believe they have a right to invade our privacy and tell us what to do.

    For our own good.

    Absent a new congressional majority willing to vote to stop this thing in its already-laid tracks (and any such majority would have to be strong enough to override a presidential veto), the only thing that people can do is massive civil disobedience. Refuse to consent to the creation of any government-accessible "EHR" from your medical files. JUST SAY HELL NO! Maybe doctors can get involved too. They still take an oath to do no harm, and this would do great harm. For starters, this violates the physician-patient privilege. Some things are personal. I'm not fat, but fat is not the issue. Nor is whether I am "obesogenic":

    The new regulations also stipulate that the new electronic records be capable of sending public health data to state and federal health agencies such as HHS and CDC. The CDC, which calls American society "obesogenic" - meaning that American society itself promotes obesity - collects BMI scores from state health agencies every year to monitor obesity nationwide.

    "Electronically record, retrieve, and transmit syndrome based public health surveillance information to public health agencies," the regulations read.

    With the spread of electronic health records, the CDC apparently will be able to collect such data more efficiently and with greater accuracy because the electronic record keeping systems can send the data automatically, eliminating the need for government - both state and federal - to keep, send, and process physical records.
    Fuck the CDC, the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security, and the rest of the bastards who think they have a right to rule by administrative fiat. Unless they get a warrant based on probable cause that I'm involved in crime, they have no right to look at my health records or anyone else's. Health records are between me and my doctor.

    Fat is not the issue. Does anyone really think they'll stop there?

    MORE: Since the election of Barack Obama, federal health officials are trotting out the old "guns are a health issue" meme. (Anyone remember the campaign to have doctors ask patients whether they owned guns?)

    And if you think linking gun ownership to health is bad, just how long do you suppose it will be before citizen's EHRs are integrated into gun buyer's background checks?

    These people are relentless. (Unfortunately, blog posts cannot stop them.)

    posted by Eric at 12:39 AM | Comments (7)

    Are provocateurs now running the Justice Department?

    I agree with Tom Smith that "the new DOJ website is kinda creepy."

    And I'm also inclined to agree with the majority of those who took Glenn Reynolds's poll that it's only creepy if a website design by Darth Vader creeps you out. It's not so much that it creeps me out (I'm actually kind of partial to creepiness, morbidity, and black colored things), so much as the fact that it seems inappropriate for the Justice Department -- which is supposed to revolve around the idea of fairness, respect for law, and above all respect for the Constitution. Images evocative of black clad government SWAT team ninjas belong at conspiracy theory web sites, not at official government sites.

    While I can't prove it, I suspect that the redesign of the website reflects a desire to deliberately stir up angry conservatives and anti-government sentiment. I think they're waging a classic form of psychological warfare (and tends to confirm my long-held suspicions that the Obama administration deliberately fueled and baited the birth certificate truthers).

    Think about it. What better way to stir people up than replacing the American flag design with a black background, then emblazoning that with a very weird, unidentifiable quote -- "The common law is the will of mankind issuing from the life of the people" -- along with leaked hints that it comes from a British leftist one-world government advocate?

    I kid you not:

    ...other Department of Justice employees say the quote originates from British lawyer, C. Wilfred Jenks, who back in the late 1930s and after World War II was a leading figure in the "international law" movement, which sought to impose a global, common law, and advocated for global workers rights. Jenks was a long-time member of the United Nation's International Labor Organization, and author of a number of globalist tracts, including a set of essays published back in 1958, entitled The Common Law of Mankind.
    I can't find the Jenks tract anywhere, so there's easy way for me to confirm the exact quote verbatim.

    However, I did find a review of the work, with this direct quote from Jenks explaining how he defined common law:

    By common law of mankind is meant the law of an organized world community, constituted on the basis of States but discharging its community functions increasingly through a complex of international and regional institutions, guaranteeing rights to, and placing obligations upon, the individual citizen, and confronted with a wide range of economic, social, and technological problems calling for uniform regulation on an international basis which represents a growing proportion of the subject matter of the law.
    All I can say to that is YUCK!

    If, for whatever reason, the above sort of drivel is what the United States Justice Department is now about, we simply need a new Justice Department. At the very least, the people who designed that web site are a bunch of loons who don't even bother to hide their statist, globalist agenda. Instead, they flaunt it in a deliberately provocative way.

    Makes me wanna say "Bring back John Ashcroft!"

    posted by Eric at 11:38 AM | Comments (5)

    One of the worst crimes in U.S. history, so where's the Narrative?

    Last night I stumbled onto a very strange account of one of the worst mass murders in United States history. I wasn't really looking for it, but a friend emailed me a link to a site which lists the worst crimes committed within each state. Naturally, as I'm living in Michigan, my curiosity led me to check out the "MOST NOTORIOUS MURDERS IN [MY] STATE."

    Much to my surprise, I learned that the most notorious Michigan murder was also the most notorious mass murder in a school in U.S. history. (And until Timothy McVeigh struck at Oklahoma City, it was the worst terrorist incident in U.S. history). Called the Bath School Disaster, the mass murders of 45 people (with 58 wounded) were committed by a demented school board member who was upset about change:

    The Bath School disaster is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, USA, on May 18, 1927, which killed 45 people (38 grade-schoolers and 7 adults) and injured at least 58. Most of the victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7-12 years of age) attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest act of mass murder in a school in U.S. history. The perpetrator was school board member Andrew Kehoe, who was upset by a property tax that had been levied to fund the construction of the school building. He blamed the additional tax for financial hardships which led to foreclosure proceedings against his farm. These events apparently provoked Kehoe to plan his attack.
    Kehoe planted explosives throughout the school, which would have killed many more people had the detonators not failed. After the explosions, he set off a car bomb which killed himself the school superintendent, the postmaster and three others:
    About a half hour after the explosion, Kehoe drove up to the school and saw Superintendent Huyck. Kehoe summoned the superintendent over to his vehicle. According to one eyewitness, when Huyck drew close, Kehoe pulled out his rifle and fired into the back seat. Whether by gunshot or otherwise, the dynamite in the vehicle ignited and the resulting explosion killed Kehoe, the superintendent, Postmaster Glenn O. Smith, and Smith's father-in-law Nelson McFarren, a retired farmer.[16] Cleo Claton, an eight-year-old second grader, had wandered out of the collapsed school building and was killed by the shrapnel from the exploding vehicle. Several others were injured as the shrapnel flew through the crowd.
    That might also make him the nation's first suicide bomber, but I don't know my murder history as I should. Until last night I had never heard of the incident, or Kehoe, and I find myself wondering why it hasn't come up in the endless debates over how our culture is going to hell in a handbasket. Of course, he doesn't seem to have shot anyone with a gun, so it obviously doesn't fit the gun control narrative. Nor was he a degenerate young trenchcoat-wearing Goth, so there's no modern sex appeal there either. Yet the kids he killed were every bit as much victims as were the students in any of the other incidents. So I can see why the anti-gun left-wing activists would see very little value in the story. Nor does the story fit the narrative of the culture war activists on the right. Not only is it tough to blame the deterioration of the culture for something that happened in 1927, but this man was a school board member who not only hated taxes, but he clearly preferred the old-fashioned one-room schoolhouses. (The demise of the one-room school house is an interesting topic, but I don't see any way to blame even the malignant John Dewey himself in a direct manner for this awful incident.)

    Politically, the Bath School disaster is useless to any narrative. I guess if you really stretch it, it might be useful in scolding the right wing (and I suppose the lefties might call the deranged bomber an archetypal Tea Partier type), but the fact that it happened 83 years ago makes that argument ridiculous on its face. So does the fact that no one in the Tea Party movement would ever countenance -- much less commit -- mass murder of school children.

    Yet the lingering question is motive. The man was facing foreclosure, and he blamed that on the new school, but it turned out that he had sufficient resources to pay the arrears.

    On the morning of May 18, Kehoe first killed his wife and then set his farm buildings on fire. As fire fighters arrived at the farm, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing many of the people inside. Kehoe used a detonator to ignite dynamite and hundreds of pounds of pyrotol which he had secretly planted inside the school over the course of many months. As rescuers started gathering at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and detonated a bomb inside his shrapnel-filled vehicle, killing himself and the school superintendent, as well as killing and injuring several others. During the rescue efforts, searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the school's south wing.

    After the bombings investigators found a wooden sign wired to the farm's fence with Kehoe's last message, "CRIMINALS ARE MADE, NOT BORN," written on it.[4]

    When they were done taking an inventory of the Kehoes' estate, investigators estimated that, prior to its destruction, the amount of unused equipment and materials on the farm could have easily paid off the Kehoes' mortgage.[5]

    And in what can only be called an act of gratuitous sadism, he had also wired his horses by the legs into their stalls so there was no way they could escape being burned alive.

    It's clear to me that the man was a thoroughly evil psychopath -- indefensible by any standard. Perhaps the new school was an excuse, and he didn't really need a motive, but instead found a convenient one.

    However, saying that some people are evil is emotionally unsatisfying, and it doesn't fit the prevailing, overarching narrative agreed on by both "sides" in the Culture War that there is something inherently evil about society which causes people to commit atrocious crimes. Michael Moore and the John Lennon Imagine people think the problem is that we live in an evil, militaristic "gun culture," while the Robert Knight, Concerned Women for America types think sex, drugs, rock and roll, homos, abortion, and other coarse culture rot create a climate that makes these awful crimes inevitable.

    But the idea that some people are just bad? That just goes nowhere, especially in the hyper-charged, traffic-driven political context.

    Yet the fact remains that this awful crime -- in many ways the most gruesome mass murder event imaginable -- took place in a decent and upright small American community, and was committed by one of its elected leaders.

    The undeniable fact of some people being inherently evil brings to mind a recent post by Dr. Helen about toxic children. She links a New York Times piece which Dr. Stuart Schneiderman cited as confirmation that good parents can have bad seeds -- i.e. "perfectly decent parents can produce toxic children." What I found refreshing about the article was to see that there are at least some parents who admit that they have toxic children. I can't count the number of times I have read news stories about appalling behavior by toxic teens quoting the parents who maintain that their children were good and did nothing wrong, that society was persecuting them, etc. This instills precisely the type of delusional narcissistic thinking which fueled the sick mind of the very toxic Andrew Kehoe.

    If we assume a genetic component -- if we assume bad seeds are bad genes, if "perfectly decent parents can produce toxic children" -- wouldn't it also follow that perfectly toxic parents would produce toxic children in greater numbers than would perfectly decent parents? While that's worrisome in itself, it's also worrisome because of what well-meaning social engineers might do if they take this otherwise reasonable idea to extremes. If genetic determinism were ever to become a legal doctrine, then society might decide to lock people up not because they had done anything wrong, but because of their "bad genes." As ShrinkWrapped warned,

    If all behavior is not just psychically determined but structurally determined, then no one is responsible for anything. The BP executives could no more avoid taking short cuts in the Gulf and their Regulators could no more avoid neglecting their duties than poor "Brian" could avoid raping and killing that 10 year old child. That way lies nihilism. At the same time, while smart lawyers work out ways to free people like Brian from the consequences of their actions, they are also setting the table for a form of institutionalized neurologically based totalitarianism. Once we have dispensed with free will and responsibility, then those who have "incorrect" or "dangerous" brain structures can only be locked up or otherwise removed from the body politic.
    I'd rather accept the risks of the occasional bad seed running amok, and holding the individuals responsible for their actions, whether they have bad genes or not. If there is no free will, then freedom is an illusion, and a political pose.

    Evil as he was, Andrew Kehoe nonetheless has to be considered to have had free will. Our freedom depends on it.

    posted by Eric at 10:25 AM | Comments (1)

    You Say You Want A Revolution?

    Instapundit has just put up a piece that deserves repeating in its entirety.

    WHAT TO DO? In response to this piece by Angelo Codevilla on America's ruling class, readers wonder what to do. Well, a few things suggest themselves.

    First: Mockery. They are very mockable, and they are very thin-skinned. That leads them to erupt in embarrassing ways. Use their sense of entitlement against them.

    Second (and related): Transparency. One-party government makes you stupid, and although composed of both Democrats and Republicans the political class is basically its own party, and these people are pretty stupid. Point it out, repeatedly. Use FOIA, ubiquitous videocameras, and other tools to make the stupidity show.

    Third: Money. Codevilla writes: "Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof." The coming budget crisis -- already here, really, but still largely denied by the rulers -- is an opportunity to defund a lot of this patronage stuff. They'll try, of course, to cut the muscle and preserve the fat, but that won't work very well if they're closely watched (see above). Cut them off in other ways, too. Don't support the media, nonprofits, and politicians who support them with your money.

    Also, make sure that money flows TO things you like: Businesses, alt-media, politicians who aren't part of the problem, etc. Build up countervailing institutions that don't depend on the government to survive.

    Finally: Don't act like a subject. Rulers like subjects. Don't be one. As a famous man once said: Get in their face. Punch back twice as hard. Words for the coming decade?

    And do read the Angelo Codevilla piece. It is longish (for an internet bit) but well worth your time.

    Update: Instapundit has added to his piece. Go read it. And in the spirit of his additions I too have something to add.

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. - Fredrick Douglas

    And further, Mr. Codevilla has written a book:

    The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:56 AM | Comments (3)

    Mass Displacement And Acceleration

    In the interests of science I like to run videos of science experiments from time to time. This one explores buoyancy, displacement, acceleration, energy transfer and probably a few other engineering if not scientific principles. Pay close attention. In fact to master all the concepts you probably ought to watch it several times.

    You can find more like this at Hawtness which is NSFW. You might want to search for Hawtness Mad Beer Skills for another good one.

    And for the ladies among us. Did you know that engineer/airplane designer Howard Hughes designed that female torture instrument known as the under wire bra? The details come from a site called Bikini Science. Which reminds me. I need to go back and carefully re-study the July 4th Bikini Edition for engineering details. You never know what you might learn. I ♥ Engineering.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:59 AM | Comments (0)

    Every word is copyrighted somewhere

    For some time, I've been predicting that the copyright laws would ultimately be used to defeat free speech. There are now countless examples. Remember when the New York Times tried to take down a parody site? When Michael Savage did the same thing by claiming that when his critics merely quoted his material to ridicule him, they were "infringing"? The same thing happened with leftist professors, Exodus International. Even a news show which criticized the HSUS was yanked from YouTube -- forcing me to get the embed from a server in Iran of all places.

    It's getting scarier and scarier.

    The recent government takedown of 73,000 blogs (which Glenn linked earlier) -- ostensibly for "infringing" makes me wonder whether something big is starting:

    73,000 blogs is a significant number to take down in one swoop, regardless of what some users of the site may or may not have been doing. Time will tell if it was indeed a copyright complaint that took down the service but the signs are certainly there. Not so long ago the conclusion that this type of action could be taken on copyright grounds would have been dismissed out of hand, but the current atmosphere seems to be changing. [Emphasis added.]
    I hope the bloggers take them to court and win.

    Because, if this stuff keeps up, my blog will be taken down for doing something as ordinary as fisking the news.

    posted by Eric at 08:33 PM | Comments (1)

    What's embarrassing about a call for responsible spending?

    Speaking of local Ann Arbor politics, a woman named Patricia Lesko is running for Mayor, and among other things, she has criticized the fiscal irresponsibility of the incumbent administration. For daring to challenge the ruling establishment, she is being viciously attacked. Nothing unusual there, save the way they're going about it.

    Ms. Lesko happens to be a lesbian, and while she has not made an issue of it, the local gay leftist flunkies who shill for the incumbent mayor are. They are claiming that Ms. Lesko is an "embarrassment" to gays and lesbians:

    The chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Allies Caucus is publicly calling on Patricia Lesko to drop out of the Ann Arbor mayor's race.

    "Pat Lesko has become an embarrassment to our community and reflects badly on all that we value and worked so hard to accomplish," Phil Volk said in an official statement. "I feel it is imperative for our LGBT political future that Pat Lesko steps out from the campaign for mayor and apologizes not only to the LGBT community but to the general public as well."

    The LGBT group last month endorsed incumbent Mayor John Hieftje in the Aug. 3 primary race. Lesko, who is openly gay, has drawn criticism for her combative style and inaccuracies in her campaign messages, qualities the group says it believes would make Lesko an ineffective mayor.

    A second gay rights group called Lesbians Opposing Lesko, a.k.a. LOL, also launched a website saying Lesko would be a "complete disaster" as mayor. The author of Arborblahg.com is now running a "Lesko Lie of the Day" column in which she evaluates the truthfulness of claims Lesko has made.

    OK, even if we assume for the sake of argument that all of the criticisms of her are true, since when do individuals become an embarrassment to a group built on identity politics? If that's the going standard, then why isn't the NAACP denouncing the New Black Panther Party as an embarrassment to the black community? Or is it only possible to be an "embarrassment" if you're opposing the left, but not if you're on the left? Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas are embarrassments to the black community, while murderer Mumia abu Jamal is not?

    This is such tripe that it ought to insult the intelligence of every gay person with a brain.

    At least Ann Arbor's local news site was decent enough to print Lesko's response:

    "I'm left saddened by this bizarre smear tactic and personal attack, though not surprised," she said. "My opponent has chosen to campaign negatively, and Mr. Volk, whom the incumbent singled out at a recent debate as a supporter, appears to be lending a helping hand to his candidate."

    Lesko said the public policy and fiscal management challenges facing Ann Arbor "have nothing whatsoever to do with gender or sexual orientation." She said she'll leave it up to Ann Arbor voters to decide in three weeks whether they're getting their money's worth for the taxes they pay.

    Lesko is campaigning on the platform that Ann Arbor needs a new mayor who is committed to refocusing on the basics: responsible spending, services, infrastructure and neighborhoods.

    Responsible spending?

    Judging from her campaign site, she seems serious about it. Topping her list is a promise to "REIN IN SPENDING":

    According to the city's own audited financial statements, since 2006 the cost of running city government has risen 35 percent ($34 million dollars). I have the financial skills and real-world business experience to devise equitable and sustainable solutions to rein in overhead and increase government efficiency.
    She also wants to lower property taxes (oh the horror! No wonder they hate her.) And get this -- "REDESIGN THE CITY EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT AND HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS." (See my previous post.) Oh, and she even opposes a CITY INCOME TAX. Opposing taxes?

    How Thatcheresque of her! (Eeeew!)

    This is not an Ann Arbor political blog nor is this a plug for Lesko. However, I find myself persuaded that Lesko is serious about responsible spending, which the current administration is not.

    It seems to me that what is really an embarrassment about Patricia Lesko is her call for responsible spending and financial restraint in an out-of-control city.

    If I thought the way the Michigan Democratic Party's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Allies Caucus thinks, I would call them an embarrassment.

    posted by Eric at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

    "contractual agreements that can't be broken"

    That's how government pension plans are described in this highly informative video I found via Michigan Capitol Confidential:

    What is happening is worse than most people imagine. Most people tend to think that the people on the public payroll are at least "working" in some capacity or another. But as the above documents, they often retire at age 50 ("50 with 90%") and live high on the hog (many retired public employees receive over $100,000 a year).

    The guy who is interviewed (Jack Dean) runs a web site called Pension Tsunami -- which documents the appalling nature of the problem.

    "The whole idea of the pension was to provide public servants with a decent retirement. It wasn't to make them wealthy, to allow them to retire younger and with more money and be able to go off and play golf while the rest of us supported them."
    What's even more shocking -- if you take the time to get into the ugly details as I did earlier -- is that governments are doing everything they can to keep information about pensions secret!

    Which means the news media and public interest groups have to mount legal battles in court, simply to find out how the taxpayers' money is being spent.

    The California Public Employees' Retirement System and numerous county retirement systems have already released that information. A list of all retirees drawing more than $100,000 a year from CalPERS, for example, is available online.

    Sacramento County's system, however, has steadfastly refused, claiming such records are confidential.

    Judge Allen Sumner disagreed and ordered the system to release the information.

    "Sacramento County faces difficult budget decisions. Its reduction of critical services has generated significant public debate. The public has a strong interest in knowing how government is spending their money, and a constitutional right to such information," according to the judge's final order.

    Well, good for that judge! The only hope of doing something about this problem lies in getting word out to the citizens who have to pay for it.

    Asks one commenter,

    I wonder how much of the public's money was squandered trying to keep these pensions a secret?
    They'd probably like to keep that secret too.

    These wild government spendthrifts seem to think that they not only have a right to attach themselves to an endless stream of tax dollars, but that they shouldn't even have to disclose that they're doing it. If only there were some way to make them personally liable for their actions the way corporate officers in the private sector are. (Equal Protection, anyone?)

    The endless expansion of government employment is bad enough, but if there's one thing worse than having useless unaccountable people "working" it's having them retire. (And it might make more sense economically to pay them not to be there, it's just inherently unfair to pay able-bodied people not to work.)

    Hey, if they keep this up, the hateful anti-government bigots will start demanding death panels for government pensioners.

    In the above video, former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's column was quoted:

    Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders. But at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs.
    He went on to say that "either we do something about it at the ballot box, or a judge will do something about in Bankruptcy Court. And if you think I'm kidding, just look at Vallejo."

    And in a recent interview, Brown was asked whether California would go bankrupt, and he said this:

    No I don't think the state will go bankrupt. I think they'll just stop sending out pension checks.
    Which is fascinating, really. Because governments can't really go bankrupt in the ordinary sense of the term.

    What I would like to know is what will be the actual real-life consequence of these pensioners not getting their checks? Will we see rioting in the streets by retired bureaucrats? Or will they be content to file lawsuits and obtain unenforceable judgments? Who owes this money? The people who pay the taxes? Why? Under what theory? It's worrisome, and I wonder how many people have taken the time to think through the various legal and philosophical implications.

    All politics being local, I thought I'd try to ascertain whether Ann Arbor (the city where I live) has pension plan, um, "issues." Boy do they ever. This was a year ago (and since then things have only gotten worse):

    The pension fund has lost $127 million from last June to last Thursday. That's a 31 percent decrease, from a market value of $410 million to $283 million.

    The $7.5 million the city pays each year into the pension plan might need to grow to $13 million in 2011 and $15 million in 2012, according to a worst-case scenario projection by city staff.

    "If the financial markets don't improve, this delayed reaction on the effects on municipal finances will start coming on in the next few years, and it is a real risk that we are concerned about," said Ann Arbor's Chief Financial Officer Tom Crawford. "If it is long term, then we have a problem. If it is short term, then the system will work its way out. We have to be careful how we react."

    Even in a liberal Democratic city like Ann Arbor, the pension problem has become a current campaign issue:
    Glorie [City Council candidate in the 5th Ward] said residents she talks with are concerned.

    "I hear about their worries and I share them as well," she said. "We see our government spending money, borrowing money for projects that we consider nonessential, while critical infrastructure like the Stadium bridge crumbles."

    Kailasapathy [City Council candidate in the 1st Ward] said the city should be worried about its millions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities.

    "This is I think the most pressing issue that is facing the city government right now," she said. "We really need to renegotiate with the unions in honesty."

    She also cited growing debt from projects like the police-courts building. AnnArbor.com recently reported that city debt rose more than 25 percent over three years, from $167.2 million in June 2006 to $209.9 million in June 2009

    City records show the city's governmental activities spending also has increased from $96.9 million to $130.2 million from 2006 to 2009. That includes all of the city's basic services like police, fire, public works, and general administration.

    Records show a large portion of that increase happened between 2008 and 2009. About $9.9 million was due primarily to an increase in construction costs for the new police-courts building and for early retirement buyouts in the police department. And expenses for public safety increased by about $9.4 million due to increased wages and benefits and increased fleet costs.

    So, the economy is in shambles, city revenues are in steep decline, and the city is spending more? In a sane world, this would be called insanity.

    Obviously I don't have time (or what the government would call "resources" which means other people's money) to research every major town and city in the country. But I also thought I'd take a quick look at Philadelphia (from which I came).

    The problem is worse than Ann Arbor. Philadelphia is cutting basic services like fire simply because it has to pay the retired government workers!

    How long such madness can continue, I do not know, but even though I moved from the area, reading the details here makes me want to vomit:

    Perhaps the greatest example of the city's peril is the pension bomb that is about to explode.

    Any pension funded at less than 50% --- money currently in that pension to pay for future retirees -- is considered "severely distressed." That's insider-speak for the brink of insolvency, where there isn't enough money to even meet bare bones requirements.

    And what is Philadelphia's pension?

    45% funded. In other words, it's underfunded by a staggering 55%.

    It's the details they don't want you to know about that get really appalling (like most bureaucrat-created nightmares) and while I can't devote an entire blog post to them, but if anyone remembers that horror show of a woman, Marge Tartaglione? I highlighted her name, because I remembered it, and I think she deserves attention once again. Like other tax guzzling bureaucrats in Philly, she availed herself of what is called the DROP plan:
    ...the Mayor is no rookie when it comes to pension debacles.

    In 1999, then-City Councilman Nutter helped adopt a pension plan called DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan), which was signed into law by then-Mayor Ed Rendell. DROP was created to keep city employees from taking early retirement, accomplished through a financial windfall incentive plan.

    The DROP plan was originally intended for just police and firefighters but later expanded to include all city employees and elected officials. After setting a retirement date four years in the future, DROP enrollees, upon officially retiring, receive a whopping lump sum of four years' worth of pension benefits plus guaranteed interest.

    Mind you, this is in addition to their regular pension --- and Philadelphia's pension plan is one of the most lavish in the nation --- and at least five years of health benefits.

    Here's the kicker: some well-connected appointed and elected officials have abused the system by "retiring" for one day. They then collect a huge amount of money, and return to their jobs almost immediately.

    All told, forty officials have exercised this lucrative option, including City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski (who banked nearly $275,000), City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione, former Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson and former Deputy Police Commissioner Robert Mitchell.

    How can they do this? How can such an obscene act be legal?

    Because the very people benefitting the most from DROP are the ones who created it.

    Readers may recall the fiendish Marge Tartaglione, whose contempt for the voters was the subject of many a blog post (including one here).

    I think she should be remembered, so here's the classic video which shocked ordinary people at the time.

    Take a good look at the kind of person who has an "entitlement" to your money as she demonstrates dramatically what contempt she has for the people who pay her:

    I'd say that I think Tartaglione looks like Gertrude Baniszewski, but that's not nice.

    Greedy, petty, sadist though she is, Ms. Tartaglione is only one tiny example among the many thousands who are legally entitled to your money.

    I realize that this stuff happens under the cover of democracy, but it makes the divine right of kings look sensible. Today we laugh at the divine right of kings, but there was an important difference between those who believed their power was bestowed by God and the rulers of today. Nutty as they were, at least those who ruled by divine right still believed they had to answer to God.

    These people answer to no one.

    And we have to answer to them?

    posted by Eric at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

    Chicago Republican Sex Scandal

    There appears to be a Republican sex scandal brewing in Chicago. I'm not going into all the details. For that you can start with the link provided (and some more below). What I want to look at is who is involved.

    Both Roupas and "The Prophet" are "Romney Guys", a special brand of Republican we've identified and described for you on this site repeatedly. Here in Chicago, all of these guys seem to have been part of the Mitt Romney 2008 campaign, before Romney bowed out to John McCain. They've never stopped running Romney for president, and have taken over organizations like the CYRs to build them into Romney 2012 ground teams. This is similar to what Barack Obama did between 2004 and 2008 to usurp control of the Democrat Party from the Clintons. The "Romney Guys" are dangerous for a lot of reasons, not just because they are hellbent on pushing a losing 2012 candidate upon the GOP. They're also a problem because of the entitlement they feel, and the frat boy environment they foster in their ranks, encouraged, we've been told, by Mitt Romney himself. For "Romney Guys", women are to be seen and not heard, don't deserve much consideration, and are disposable. The goal of each day is to enrich themselves as much as possible, chomp down on some good cigars, drink themselves silly in wood-paneled neighborhood bars, and protect each other to the hilt whenever any of their penises get them into trouble.
    Funny thing is that it fits well with yesterday's post about how Romney operatives are attacking Sarah Palin: Politics Revealed.

    Here are a few more links to help you get into the meat (so to speak) of the story.

    URGENT UPDATE: Affidavits obtained

    Chicago Republican Website Features Topless Lady

    Lee Roupas is lying

    Will indulging millionaire cougar Beth Christie cost Republicans the governorship and Senate seat in Illinois?

    The Chicago Young Republicans' sexual assault scandal and its cover-up

    Are police investigating the Chicago Young Republicans and Cook County GOP for an attempted rape?

    That is more than enough meat to get you started. If you are still hungry there is Google.

    And just for something a little different about Illinois politics: Bill Brady, Barack Obama's Poker Buddy: [Obama is a] 'Socialist With Everyone's Money But [His] Own'. I think a little excerpt is in order.

    Right now, the state of Illinois is getting to know Bill Brady, the upstart right-wing Republican for governor who's taken a double-digit lead over incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn.

    But Brady comes to the governor's race from the Illinois State Senate, where he represents the Bloomington area. From 2002 to 2004, he served in the Senate alongside a Senator from Chicago by the name of Barack Obama.

    David Remnick's new biography of the President, "The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama," mentions that the two were not only Senate colleagues, but also poker buddies. And NBC Chicago's Ward Room discovered, in reading the book, that Brady had a choice quip for the future POTUS describing his accumulation of wealth at the table.

    Illinois politics is so screwed. We don't elect candidates in Illinois. We elect machines. And it is all one big machine. Rs, Ds, it doesn't matter. I'll say it again. We are SO screwed.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

    NAACP Activist: Racism Charges Are Lies

    It seems that there is a lot of excitement about purported Tea Party Racism.

    However, a former NAACP Chapter President isn't buying it.

    The Rev. C.L. Bryant, a black Tea Party activist who used to be an NAACP chapter president in Texas, said charges of racism are lies intended to further a liberal political agenda. ABC News quoted him as saying the NAACP wants to "create a climate where they can say that those on the right are in fact racist and those on the left are their saviors. This is very much what the liberal agenda is about." Blacks who show any signs of independent thinking do so at their peril. In August, Kenneth Gladney, a black Tea Partier from Missouri, was severely beaten by two thugs from the Service Employees International Union. The NAACP started a campaign to defend Mr. Gladney's assailants, saying the victim was an "Uncle Tom" who was "not black enough" to protect.
    I've seen pictures of Mr. Gladney and he looked pretty black to me. Especially when you compare him to the current head of the NAACP who could pass for white.

    It wasn't the color of his skin that mattered. It was the color of his politics. You see he was selling this little flag at the rally.

    Don't Tread On Me
    But this is nothing new. It is just a new twist on a very old con.
    There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs....There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public. - Booker T. Washington
    I'd like to see an end to this game once and for all. The only people it benefits are the race hustlers.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:36 PM | Comments (3)

    the virtue of shamelessness

    Few things better illustrate the perfidy and dishonesty of left wing activists than a stunning example I found at Bob Owens' blog. A man wearing Nazi garb and spouting Nazi slogans showed up at a Tea Party rally, where he was promptly and angrily confronted, told he was not welcome, and all of this was recorded and posted on YouTube in the following video:

    Notice that other Tea Partiers are waving a large sign behind him which mocks the man as an obvious infltrator, and not a real Tea Partier.

    Pretty cut and dried, no? Other than commending the Tea Partiers who confronted this asshole agent provocateur, you wouldn't think there'd be much to say beyond the fact that he was so obviously unwelcome ("Unwelcome" is putting it mildly. That Nazi fool is about as welcome at a Tea Party rally as Fred Phelps would be at a gay funeral.)

    Except in the hands of the dishonest activists at Think Progress, the above video provided fodder to make precisely the opposite point! They used only a small segment in which he proudly brags of his racism -- and shamelessly placed it in a video purporting to document "Tea Party Racism." Naturally, any hint of the confrontation and the signs was edited out completely.

    I kid you not. These Think Progress activists are the worst sort of crooked hacks imaginable. I agree with Owens' assessment:

    Think Progress misrepresented everything this video and the Tea Party stands for, and against.

    If staffers, including editor-in-chief Faiz Shakir should not be terminated for this behavior, I'd like to know why.

    I suspect they'll be promoted for their utter shamelessness. Their job is to crank out videos providing fellow activists not with the truth, but with what they want to hear.

    To them, shameless lying in pursuit of their cause is a virtue.

    posted by Eric at 01:07 PM | Comments (4)

    First, the change. And now, the panic!

    When I read that Bill Clinton was helping out in the Obama White House -- both as an adviser and as a fund raiser, I have to say I was startled, as there's no love lost there.

    Because of the polls and the sour mood among the voters, the left is generally freaking out; there's talk in Salon about pushing the panic button. Some insiders are saying that "Expectations were set too high after 2008":

    "The bar for change was set inordinately high by the tone of the presidential campaign," said McCaskill, an early supporter of Obama's who endorsed him over then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in January 2008.

    Obama's long-running primary battle with Clinton captivated Democrats across the country, who rallied to Obama's message of change. Turnout for the general election was the highest among eligible voters since 1968.

    Well, they got to have their change and now they get to eat it too.

    Except they don't like it.

    Yesterday I chatted with an old friend in Philadelphia. The man is well-connected and knows everyone of consequence in town. A loyal Northeast Republican, he lives in an upper-end condo, and during the last election, his neighbors were all solidly pro-Obama, so he had to endure constant ridicule for wearing McCain buttons. (He says it got pretty rough, too, which I do not doubt.) Yet he says that now, all of these same very wealthy, erstwhile Obama supporters just hate Barack Obama. He mentioned a variety of reasons for their anger, and Obama's Mideast policy seems to rank high as an irritant.

    Bear in mind that this guy's neighbors are the sort of people who can normally be depended upon to pull out their checkbooks at Democratic functions.

    If they hate Obama, the Democrats are in dire straits.

    The more I thought it over, the more I wondered whether this news from Philadelphia was an aberration. So I asked myself "Could the same thing be happening in New York where the big money is?"

    Wow, is it ever!

    Just check out this detailed analysis at Politico, headlined, "Democrats fear end of New York gravy train":

    A perfect storm of events -- the recession, Wall Street anger at Washington, donors who feel ignored by the White House and interest group dissatisfaction -- has Democrats bracing for a brutal fundraising period and fearful of losing dominance in longtime donor stronghold and megarich New York.

    While the exact quarterly figures won't be known until after the July 15 filing deadline, a number of Democratic campaign insiders said the past few months were a mighty struggle to raise cash for candidates.

    It's a humbling moment for Democratic moneymakers in the richest city in the world, an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position for New York fundraisers after a long ride on the gravy train. Beyond a free-flowing financial market that managed to rebound after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, there were 16 flush years of having a Clinton family member in a position of power and working the Big Apple donor base hard.

    Things are different now. While most Democrats blame the economy and anger from Wall Street for the fundraising predicament, President Barack Obama, whose own donor model was low-dollar contributors and Internet contributors over high-dollar types, has headlined just one major New York event so far this year, for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    And several fundraisers said they knew of very few major events in the Hamptons -- the summer playground for the wealthy that was long worked by the Clintons, who used it for simultaneous socializing, vacationing and rainmaking for the national party committees.

    Some Democrats called it the worst period for fundraising they've experienced in the New York area since 1994, the infamous midterm cycle after Bill Clinton was elected president that quickly became a lightning rod for Republicans and a disappointment to some of his own backers.

    Not only has Obama blown it by ignoring the wealthy liberals in the Hamptons, but he's sidelined the Clintons, who used to milk them:

    the sense that New York's star has diminished began in the months after Hillary Clinton accepted her new assignment as secretary of state, physically removing her from the local political scene and diminishing the Empire State's clout in the process.

    "For the Clintons, these donors were part of their social circle," said one Washington Democrat, citing a style that worked but also had its drawbacks (like the Lincoln Bedroom scandals). "They vacationed with them, they had dinners with them. That's not the case for Barack."

    It actually goes deeper than that for Obama -- he is mindful, insiders say, of the current realities that say hanging out with Wall Streeters or even having official meetings with them could be used against him.

    And he's never taken to the Hamptons scene -- a locale so closely yoked to the Clintons in the minds of many donors that he could only suffer by comparison.

    But the president's different style from his most recent predecessors in engaging donors -- and his clear lack of interest in catering to the rich class of donors -- is having an impact.

    It just shows how green the man is politically. He's a newbie at the game, and he's been unable to moderate his far-left, openly anti-business tone.

    To say nothing of his anti-Israel tone. It doesn't look like that has helped him in New York:

    It isn't just Wall Street that's unsettled.

    "Every interest group is angry" at either Congress or the White House, said one New York Democratic insider involved with fundraising.

    That has included a smattering of Jewish Democratic fundraisers, the sources said, who are unhappy with the administration's approach to Israel and with some members of the state's congressional delegation as well.

    One prominent Jewish fundraiser insisted donors in that group are suffering from the same fatigue as everyone else, and that's why some are sitting out this cycle.

    But another said, "There was meeting of Jewish business leaders with a [New York] elected official, and the official said, 'I'm working behind the scenes to push the administration on Israel.' And one of the people at the meeting said afterward, 'Next time I'll work behind the scenes to support you.'"

    Dan Senor, a former Bush administration official in Iraq who's active in the Jewish political community as well as Republican fundraising circles, said an event he co-hosted last week for six New York House hopefuls included some Democratic donors.

    "There were people who said, 'I've never written a check to a Republican in my life' who were there," he said, although he declined to name names. He also noted that he's hearing from some Jewish Democratic donors who "are either sitting on their hands or giving to Republicans." [Emphasis added.]

    Things are so bad that some Republicans are actually showing up in New York to take advantage of the situation:
    Sen. John Cornyn, of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been in New York roughly every six weeks and is a familiar face at the Regency Hotel power-breakfast circuit on Park Avenue.
    Hey, if I were in the Democrats' position, I'd be pushing the panic button too.

    But what form will that take?

    There's still plenty of time between now and November.

    posted by Eric at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)


    Bill Whittle has a new Afterburner. And in response to it, I'd like to do my bit for those who need a typographical icon (watch the vid to get the joke).


    And for those who need technical details: the html for is ∅

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:12 AM | Comments (1)

    Politics Revealed

    Tammy Bruce speaks. And rips the Republicans a new one.

    And given the Mitttens team's latest outburst I think she has a point.

    Still, few express much regard for Palin's ultimate chances. One adviser to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and, by traditional standards, the putative 2012 frontrunner, says of Palin, "She's not a serious human being."
    OK. I'll one up that. Romney is not a human being.

    And in case you wondered Tammy also writes books.

    H/T Allah Pundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:49 AM | Comments (4)

    See how they run!

    In an earlier post, M. Simon was comparing the left to cockroaches, whom he suggested should be defeated in November. While I don't normally resort to insect analogies to describe people, I guess I have been known to compare people to bonobo chimps. And it's not as if leftists have hesitated to liken their conservative brethren to cockroaches.

    Anyway, I now see (via Glenn Reynolds) that (in addition to Newsweek coverage), no less than the Washington Post is calling the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case a "political bombshell."


    Countless bloggers have been up in arms about the case for weeks (I wrote a post titled "What did the Post know and when did they know it?"), and of course Pajamas Media has been on it from the start -- even hiring as a writer the Justice Department attorney who was fired.

    I predict that there will be a whole lot of scurrying going on. They might not be cockroaches, but they share with them an intolerance of bright lights.

    With any luck, they will all be running in different directions.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, a Pajamas Media report:

    Sworn affidavits from Hans A. von Spakovsky and Karl Bowers, who worked with J. Christian Adams in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, offer broad confirmation of the whistleblower's accusations of bias in enforcing voting rights.
    I think a saying from Watergate applies to Panthergate: "the coverup is worse than the crime."

    posted by Eric at 02:06 PM | Comments (1)

    Jealous of the old order?

    Yesterday I said that the national conversation about race sucks and that I hate even writing about it. Famous last words. Here I am writing another post about a topic I hate. Yes, I hate race. As much as I hate the isms of sexuality. This is not to say that I hate races, or forms of human sexuality; only that I detest identity politics. These things should not matter, and I hate the fact that to so many people, they do. (And I have no illusions, but I do have this blog....)

    I think what fries me the most about race discussions these days is the relentless promotion of the idea that if you think race should not matter, you're a racist. "Color-blind racism" is what they call it. Yes, they -- the detestable activists about whom I devoted/wasted so much time complaining. Whether they're called identity politics activists or race hustlers, they are constantly screaming at ordinary people for the crime of not caring about race, and for simply wanting to get along. It is typical of activists that the more they claim to care about something -- no matter how bogus or dishonest their claim -- the more they direct their anger at those who do not care. To an activist, bigotry is defined simply as not caring enough about the activist's cause. (The way these ideas spread, and the way activists work themselves into frenzies of self-important rage, pretty soon not caring about whether someone is gay will be called anti-gay bigotry. If it hasn't been already.)

    Anyway, I'm so tired of complaining about the problem that I decided to resort to satire. For the purposes of this post, I want to agree with the race activists' identitarian position that race matters. And by the gods, I'll go one better than that! I will also agree with the idea that there is such a thing as "not black enough"!

    Last night I happened to watch Glenn Reynolds' Instavision interview of Mark Levin (excellent BTW) and during their discussion of the NAACP's attack on the Tea Party Movement as racist, a picture of the president of the NAACP briefly flashed by.


    OK, so maybe I'm more race-obsessed than I should be, or maybe I'm not enough. But I was so surprised that I just couldn't help doing a doubletake.

    Egad! The guy looks white.

    Which shouldn't matter in a normal world. And it wouldn't matter to me, except that the NAACP is all about race. Regardless of their history, at this point in time the organization endorses and practices racial identity politics. Everything is reduced to and measured by race, and that's what the attack on the Tea Party is all about. So it came as quite a shock to see an apparently white man as head of that organization. I checked, and that's him. No mistake about it, the picture is of the NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous. And according to his Wiki bio, his father was white and his mother was black. Which would make him half white. Unless his mother was more than half white. Not that there's anything wrong with being half white, or more than half white (or half or more gay), but frankly, he looks a lot more than half white. He's whiter than Tiger Woods, and definitely whiter than Barack Obama. Anyone remember that back in the day, the latter was being accused of not being black enough? I defended him for that crime, but only because in my racist way I thought race should not matter.

    But now I know better. Race matters. Which is why having a man who looks white in charge of the NAACP sends the wrong message. The NAACP is on record as supporting racial preferences in employment and education, and supporting racial gerrymandering of voting districts. And having a man who appears white in charge of an organization like that creates the appearance that race does not matter. Which as we know is racist.

    It would be one thing if the NAACP and Mr. Jealous had decided to support a color blind society, but they have shown that they do not. Their condemnation of the color-blind Tea Party movement comes at exactly the same time that the Justice Department New Black Panther Party scandal is finally emerging as a national story. Naturally, just as both the NAACP and Jealous have failed to acknowledge the Tea Party movement's black supporters they have pointedly refused to condemn the New Black Panther Party.

    And not only have they refused to condemn the new Black Panther Party or the Justice Department's handling of the case, but there is evidence that an NAACP attorney might have specifically urged the Justice Department to dismiss the case.

    An attorney for the NAACP, Kristen Clarke, has admitted that she spoke to department attorneys about the case and shared the complaint with others. (In a deposition she also said that a department lawyer sent her news clippings of the case.) She spoke to a voting section attorney Laura Coates (no relation to Chris Coates) about the case at a Justice Department function. Clarke asked Coates, who she assumed was sympathetic, when the Panther case was going to be dismissed. The comment suggested that the NAACP had been pushing for such an outcome, and Coates reported the conversation to her superiors.
    Her superiors would include Attorney General Eric Holder -- the man ultimately responsible for the dismissal.

    The Justice Department scandal is especially outrageous because it amounts to a declaration of war against the color blind society that so many people support, which the vast majority of Americans believe lies at the very heart of this country's principles.

    Think "Justice" and what do you think? To many people, a classical image comes to mind -- the statue of Justitia, the blind goddess of justice holding the scales.


    By taking the position that the race of intimidated voters matters, the Justice Department has officially removed the blindfold from the statue of Justice. And officially tipped her scales by placing a racialized finger on one side.

    The whole thing is shocking and unprecedented. You'd have to go back to Woodrow Wilson to fine a more egregious example of official racism.

    But if that's the way Justice now operates, if we're no longer color-blind, I say shame on the NAACP for sending the wrong message by creating an appearance of whiteness being at the top.

    In Jealous' defense, it may be that he suffers from a perverse (if intellectualized) form of self hatred, because in this interview he embraces the old racist view that "one drop makes you black"

    Question: How does the experience of "mixed race" Americans differ from that of "black" Americans?

    Ben Jealous: You know, the beauty of being black in this society is that black has always been an inclusive definition. White has always been an exclusive definition. I think one of the challenges for white people in the next 40 years is to figure out how to have a more inclusive picture of who their families are, of who they are.

    Hey, I have no stake in whiteness, and I am perfectly willing to consider Mr. Jealous to be white, if that is what he wants. I would also drop the illogical "one drop makes you black rule." But I would rather not have race legally mean anything more than height, hair color, or blood type. I also don't think it should matter to people "who their families are" -- although Mr. Jealous does. He thinks his white ancestors on his mother's side were not merely racists, but rapists:
    I grew up in a family where my father's white and my mother is black, but if we're honest, the exception may be the two or three generations in between on the black side, most of the male parents - it's hard to call them a parent, you raped the mother, most of the male parents were white for generations. Growing up as a black kid with a white father who loves you, who affirms you, who was part of your life is fundamentally different than what people in my family were subjected to in the 19 century or the 18th century. But unfortunately, it doesn't change the old racial order. I think we need to, in this society, let the old racial order just stay where it is and not seek to improve upon it. Not try to create more racial categories, because all that does is it makes a race stick around longer. And the reality is that race is a lie built on a lie.
    And the answer is to keep the lie alive?

    Yes. Teach your children that because race once mattered, it must always matter -- even if it shouldn't matter!

    The first lie is that people are different, somehow skin color or hair texture is more significant than eye color, or the shape of one's feet. The second lie built on top of that is that then there's a hierarchy that that more significant difference, the color showing up as brown on your skin rather than brown in your hair, or whatever, is somehow more significant and there's some sort of hierarchy. That the lighter you are, the straighter your hair, the better you are. And Obama, Oprah, you know, Dick Parsons, whoever is -- ****, have blown that out of the water, President Obama, Michelle Obama for the country. The trick now is for us to really incorporate that into our family lives and for people to not just, I guess be led by their children for whom race is just much less significant, but to help lead their children, or at least follow willingly.
    In other words, let's continue with the old racist system, and tell our children that they're wrong if they think race doesn't matter, and teach them that race does matter! Why? Because it used to matter!

    Rarely have I seen a slicker way to condemn color blindness and promote racialized thinking -- and ultimately, race hatred.

    Why would a man who looks so white be seeking to uphold the rules of the old racial order?

    posted by Eric at 12:40 PM | Comments (4)

    Cockroach Infestation

    I was reading Watts Up With That about a dispute between Christopher Monckton and John Abraham about some climate issues. But as is often the case the most interesting stuff is in the comments.

    Alexander Feht says:
    July 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I completely understand, why Christopher Monckton felt a need to make an example of a typical reprehensible representative of modern Academia. People like Christopher Monckton make me hope again that not everything is lost yet under the Moon.

    And yet... I spent first half of my life battling liars and cockroaches in the former USSR. I would win against any individual liar or cockroach, no sweat. But year after year after year, I was getting more and more convinced that I didn't want to die in this battle, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of my enemies.

    So. I live in a quiet valley now, in Colorado Rockies. Grass is green, air is fresh, sky is huge. But what is this constant swish and rustle coming from the East Coast and from the Left Coast? I know this sound well! There is no escape from the battle: cockroaches are coming.

    You can read more by Mr. Feht by clicking on his name above.

    As to the cockroaches: they are a self inflicted wound. Keep the place clean, limit the availability of free food, plus the occasional dose of poison and you can at least keep them in check.

    So how about this for a campaign slogan:

    Poison The Cockroaches In November

    But perhaps that is too harsh and would be interpreted as a threat, so as an alternative:

    Defeat The Cockroaches In November

    See you in November.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

    Things go better with tea © ™

    Who owns the Tea Party Movement? The answer (fortunately, IMO) is no one!

    This can be a blessing and a curse, as Ann Althouse points out in her discussion of the ridiculous demand issued by NAACP leader Benjamin Jealous that "the Tea Party" (whatever he might mean by that) expel the "bigots" and "racists" in its ranks:

    The fray began when NAACP President Benjamin Jealous issued a challenge to the Tea Party:

    "You must expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take full responsibility for all of their actions."

    Observes Althouse,
    How would that even be done? Random people show up at rallies in public places and have signs that occasionally, in the opinion of some people, cross the line into what deserves to be called racist. Who is supposed to do what, and why would the failure to do that require taking "full responsibility for all of their actions" (whatever that means)? Does the NAACP apply the same standard to itself? I don't really mean for you to answer those questions, only to see that Jealous isn't trying to make sense. He's just stirring people up.
    And of course, even if there were a top-down structure of some sort that could in theory expel people, and did so, none of that would please Jealous. The man is a solid left-wing activist -- who actually called radical communist Van Jones a "national treasure." Need anyone speculate about how someone like that would define "bigot"? Or "racist"? To most leftists, a "bigot" is someone who might not care what two people do in their bedroom, but thinks gay marriage goes too far. And as we all know, a "racist" is anyone who criticizes Barack Obama. Even belief in a color-blind society is now defined as "racism." So, even if there were such an entity as "the Tea Party," it would have to do nothing less than purge the entire membership to satisfy Jealous and his ilk.

    But as Althouse makes clear, Jealous is hell-bent on identifying an organization with a structure and with named leaders. So he singles out a particular individual (one Mark Williams -- with whom I'm unfamiliar), calls him "a national spokesman for the Tea Party Express" and charges "the Tea Party" with being responsible for an inflammatory statement Williams made about the NAACP. Althouse sees through this lame attempt at conflation:

    Well, that's pretty inflammatory. But who is Mark Williams? And why is NPR quietly conflating the Tea Party movement with the Tea Party Express? I think that last question is an easy one. Williams gave the most inflammatory quote, the one that gave the biggest boost to the Jealous rant, so NPR presented him as the voice of the movement.
    Fortunately, no one owns the name "Tea Party" and there is no one organization sitting there to be the leftists' punching bag.

    But there is a drawback to having an unowned, loosely affiliated name for a broad, grass-roots movement. Anyone can grab it, and then claim to own it. Like it or not, in this country there is such a thing as property rights in a name.

    So this article in today's Free Press is cause for concern:

    LANSING -- Veteran tea party movement activists said that an expensive, secretive campaign that submitted 60,000 petition signatures to the state Wednesday to qualify candidates for office under the banner of the Tea Party is a trick to help Democrats.

    The activists said the group that submitted the petitions wants to siphon votes from tea party conservatives running as Republicans.

    Mark Steffek, a Tuscola County man who described himself as head of the party that turned in the petitions, issued a statement Wednesday criticizing both major parties and claiming "the tea party is a grassroots movement that belongs to everybody. No one person, click (sic) or party boss owns the tea party."

    The problem doesn't end there. Nor does it end by someone proving that he is a Democratic Party operative.

    The problem with making a name free to all is not so much that anyone can use it (although this causes obvious problems, because any crank, asshole, or plant can claim to be part of it). But what this and other phony "Tea Party" registrations proves is the inherent difficulty in keeping the name from being owned.

    Perhaps there has to be a legal adjudication that the name "Tea Party" is analogous to Open Source or something, because otherwise, some asshole will end up owning it simply because he played by the normal rules of property ownership. And it will join a long list of names like "Coke," "Mac," "Nike" or "McDonalds" which people are forbidden to use.

    Opponents also could mount a legal challenge in an attempt to derail the new party. Potential complaints could be based on ownership of legal rights to the Tea Party name to who has the legal authority to assume leadership of a tea party political party.

    If designated, the Tea Party would become the fifth minor party in Michigan, joining the Green Party, the U.S. Taxpayers Party, the Libertarian Party and the Natural Law Party. [Emphasis added.]

    It must just gall some of the Aquinas Natural Law people that the Natural Law Party is based on the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, * but that's the way the name game is played!

    In the world where names are property, an unowned name is like unowned property. Keeping a valuable name unowned is a challenge.

    But I guess if I can call myself a small-l libertarian (which I can -- as long as we can agree that anyone who starts the "small-l libertarian party" should be killed), then it wouldn't kill me to call myself a small-t tea partier.

    * Not to digress, but I think Thomas Aquinas and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are as natural as bonobo chimps, but nature can be cruel....

    MORE: After much deliberation, my legal department advised me to put the copyright symbol -- © -- after the word "tea" in the title.

    We© can't© be© too© careful©!

    MORE: Ditto Trademark ™

    We™ can't™ be™ too™ careful™!

    (Perhaps someone should protect every word in the dictionary from word parasites.)

    posted by Eric at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

    Out Of Control

    Analog Designer and control engineer Bob Pease and I have had a discussion or two via e-mail about control theory and control engineering. So when I came across a bit by him in a back issue of Electronic Design on how control control theory relates to how the Federal Reserve ought to control the money supply, I was interested. Here is what Bob had to say about the Fed:

    FINANCIAL FLOOBYDUST * Switching gears, Alan Greenspan has admitted that he screwed up and had a bad model for the economy. He claims he misunderstood what was going to happen. What did Spice suggest for him to do? I coulda told you that Greenspan was not doing a good job on his PID controller.

    He waited too long to start decreasing the interest rates, and then he decreased them too slowly. I noticed that at the time! Then, by leaving the interest rate at 1% for too long, he got the ARMs to start out too low. And then when the rates went up, the subprime mortgage holders got whip-sawed.

    This is exactly how you make a limit-cycle oscillator! In other words, Mr. Greenspan did not have enough D (derivative) term in his controller, and he failed to anticipate new problems. And he had too much gain in the I (integral) path. I can do this any day, on my bench, but I don't destroy a nation's economy.

    No, I don't want to take over Greenspan's job. I don't want that job. But I could still do it less badly.

    Notes: SPICE is an electronic circuit simulator. And you might like a general overview of PID controllers. For reasons I'm not going to go into here this is my favorite mathematical model of a PID controller.

    In private conversations with friends who are interested in economics I have maintained for years that economists are ignorant of control theory, treat all economics problems as if they are a calculus problem that can be solved in the limit, and ignore the short term dynamics of our economic plant. Which is to say they are looking for equilibriums rather than dynamisms. I read an economics paper once that said that if you follow the right path - not too much of this or too little of that - you will get optimum results. Assuming of course that the right path can be known in advance. But what if you don't know the right path in advance? Well then you are in need of a control system tuned to the economy that will tell you when and how much to correct your inputs to give a close enough approximation to the ideal path. And if your control system is not properly tuned? Well it will wreck the economy.

    We do have a control system and it is not properly tuned. Welcome to the current wreck.

    You can read more of my thoughts about control theory and economics at this posts: Economics Made Simple

    Here are a few pages of books on Control Theory and Economics.So it is not as if there has been no thought about the problem before. The problem in my estimation is that these books have not influenced practicing economists much. Pity. For all of us.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:36 PM | Comments (4)

    The Narrative of our "National Conversation" is "SHUT UP!"

    The AJC's Cynthia Tucker is getting a lot of flak for daring to suggest that it was inappropriate of the NAACP to call the Tea Party movement racist. She makes the observation that not all Tea Partiers are racist:

    Still, [the resolution] leaves the impression that the NAACP believes all tea partiers are racist -- a stereotype that the NAACP should abhor.

    Second, the resolution further arouses well-justified suspicions that the NAACP is nothing more than an arm of the Democratic Party. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous has said the anti-tea party resolution will, among other things, motivate his members to vote in the mid-term elections. That suggests the organization's chief concern is supporting Democrats in the fall. (Does the IRS know?) It is perfectly appropriate for the NAACP to rally around specific political issues, such as comprehensive immigration reform.

    However, according to NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, "The NAACP along with it allies and partners will show America that a solid majority of this nation is ready, willing and able to fight back to ensure that all the change we voted for is made a reality for all of our children." That sounds suspiciously like a vote for Democrats, period.

    Third, it's awfully hypocritical for the NAACP to call for the tea partiers to purge their ranks of racists, as Jealous did. It's a rare day, indeed, that the NAACP purges its ranks, no matter how inappropriately some of its members behave.

    And, fourth, this resolution just draws attention to the tea partiers -- who represent, at most, about 20 percent of the electorate -- and gives the demagogues something to rally around. Already, tea partiers and their supporters are having a field day with the resolution, calling NAACPers reverse racists and insisting they withdraw the statement.

    My hat is off to Cynthia Tucker. For her to say what she said in the face of the left's major declaration of all-out war on the Tea Party movement was an act of bravery which is all too rare among credentialed members of the MSM.

    Naturally, she is being excoriated for it. This comment (from "libhomo") is a classic:

    The pervasive racism in the teabagger movement is a well documented fact. You should have done more research before making this ill informed and irrational critique on the NAACP.
    That was immediately countered by (I am not making this up) another commenter named "ConHomo":
    Please show me this documented racism. Have you won the $100,000 for Breitbart for providing a video of these 'racial epithets' hurled at black members of Congress?
    I kept scrolling in search of the "evidence" and on the way, I found plenty more anger directed at Ms. Tucker. One commenter compared the Tea Partiers to lynch mobs and even church bombers:
    I strongly disagree with you Ms. Tucker,
    Not only as a child of the south but a current resident of the south, it is easy to get caught in glazing over of racial epitaphs because most racists have changed tactics (i.e. instead of lynch mobs...some form POLITICAL PARTIES hmmmm). Your article indicates that you are out of touch on that. The NAACP has been a bit out of touch in recent years...but the organization got it right this time.

    And to argue your point a little further...racists in the south didn't care about churches much either (16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham Ala, 1963... 4 little black girls killed...ring a bell?).

    Do your research...PERIOD!!!

    "Research"? As if research should be required to connect the Tea Parties to lynchings and bombings! What the commenter means by the term is that you should simply go with the Narrative, and say they're connected!

    The same commenter later left a link to an article about a billboard emanating from a group which calls itself the "North Iowa Tea Party." Obama is portrayed along with Hitler and Lenin, and the group took the sign down.

    It's a paranoid and over-the-top comparison, IMO, and one which tends to trivialize the victims of Nazism and Communism. But precisely how is it "racist" to compare Obama (who is black) to Hitler or Lenin? I would submit that if such comparisons are racist, then George W. Bush was the victim of more racism than any American president in history.

    What's the rule? That it's normal political hyperbole to compare white politicians to Hitler, but racist if the politicians are black? Such logic worries me, because if it is allowed to go unchallenged, by extension it would mean it's OK to criticize white politicians but racist to criticize black politicians. As Tucker herself notes, "the very word "racist" has lost all meaning."

    So I kept scrolling for the "evidence" that proves the Tea Party movement is racist, and other than the usual recitations of unproven allegations, it simply wasn't to be found. However, one commenter offered a fascinating explanation as to why. The Tea Partiers carefully conceal it:

    There is a huge racist element in the tea party. They have learned how to hide it well so there are no valid accusations against them. Most people who have any friends or family members that are in the tea party know how they speak behind closed doors. My father in law is a good example of this. He says the most vile things when he is in the company of his family but out in public he would never have the guts to expose how he really feels about things concerning race. Anyone who claims that there aren't many people like this in the tea party is either delusional or lying.
    out in public he would never have the guts to expose how he really feels about things concerning race

    While anonymously citing a single in-law proves nothing, the commenter might have made a point there, except I don't think the reluctance to discuss one's feelings in public is limited to conservatives. Nor is it limited to race. Plenty of wealthy white liberals send their kids to all-white schools, but they're never asked to explain why or expose their feelings, simply because they're on the left. Plenty of white liberals would hate to have a gay son, and plenty are not genuinely comfortable around homosexuals. But they have an easy way to conceal this bias: obtain official "NON-BIGOTED" certification by loudly supporting gay marriage, and condemning those who don't as bigots! (By definition, such liberals cannot be called homophobic.)

    Commenter "steve schuster" not only asserts the Tea Partiers are racist, but he conflates libertarianism with racism by mischaracterizing the views of Rand Paul (who many have noted is not a libertarian), following which he venomously spews forth what can only be called eliminationist rhetoric -- at libertarians!

    Condemning the Tea Baggers, was appropriate. They are racist. It was a smart move. And it will set the stage for blacks to unite against Tea Party candidates in the coming election.

    Tea baggers are reactionaries. If given the chance they will set the country back 30 years. Libertarians like Rand Paul, who said he was against civil rights legislation interfering with the private sector are dangerous to the social and economic well being of the USA.

    Their libertarian, pro free market, at any price, economic ideas, caused the financial crisis, and will cause many more, if they get power. Swat them down before they get the chance to procreate.

    The best answer to that came from "Ragnar Danneskjold":
    Dear Steve @ 11:09, we tea partiers defend the liberty of the leftists to teabag each other.
    Hear hear! Except, not to criticize Mr. Daneskjold, but I doubt most tea partiers would want to legally limit such liberties to the left. I would leave such sexual double standards to the leftists themselves to promulgate. This is America, where the right to engage in alternative sexual practices should not be conditioned on adherence to left-wing ideology! (That sort of thing fuels sexual identitarianism, and furthers only the cause of the left.)

    Regarding identitarianism generally, commenter "Scout" remarks the obvious:

    Ms. Tucker:

    I guess you know the NAACP is now going to brand you as an "Aunt Flossie" (or whatever female term they use for "Uncle Tom") for not following along like a good African-American should !

    OTOH, if Cynthia Tucker happened to be white, she would doubtless be called a racist for criticizing the NAACP.

    If we're having a "national conversation about race," I think it sucks. I hate even writing about it.

    God bless Cynthia Tucker for not shutting up.

    posted by Eric at 12:59 PM | Comments (8)

    Data Heaven, Data Haven

    For the first time in my life, I lost a hard drive last night. I had backups, but it's still very irritating (and perhaps it's only transhumanist conceit, but its passing faintly echoes to me intimations of my own mortality). I've sent the drive, which still emits a healthy hum and is even sort of recognized when attached to a USB-SATA interface, off to an outfit in Florida who will charge me $199 if they can recover my data (and nothing if they can't). Here's hoping it's a mere failure of the outer card and not shattered platters.

    Meanwhile, on to a new PC, which I was looking at anyway as mine is a couple years old now. I was extremely gratified to learn that you can now buy a RAID setup off the shelf from Dell (I'm splurging and getting the 0+1 -- striping (for performance) plus mirroring). That makes losing data far less likely, as two drives would have to fail, the likelihood of which is the reciprocal of the product of their individual reliabilities -- a very small number; such a double failure should happen maybe once in a million years. (Note that the RAID wiki calculation, which is something like .05 * .05 = .0025 is not really an accurate representation of reality; to actually lose data, you would have to lose a drive, then lose its mirror before the first drive is replaced, which should happen within a week or so. So if the chances of a drive failure is about 1% over 2 years, then the odds of an unmirrored failure happening in that week is about 1/100 of that, or .01% -- and the odds of experiencing both events in a given year would be .0001 * .01 = .000001 or about 1 in 1,000,000).

    Dell's website is a bit coy about whether the Aurora has two PCIE x16 slots, though -- and it better, because I want to salvage my relatively recently installed Radeon 5770 and Crossfire it with the one shipping in my new computer. Presumably it does, as they offer dual cards as an option -- let's hope these guys were right.

    posted by Dave at 12:02 PM | Comments (3)

    "he is a great father"

    One of my pet peeves involves babies being tossed onto roadways. I've complained about this in blog posts, but unfortunately, that does not seem to have stopped the problem.

    A 21-year-old man was arrested Saturday after he threw his daughter into oncoming traffic and then attacked witnesses and police who were trying to subdue him, authorities said.

    The 18-month-old girl was not badly injured.

    The wheels of an oncoming Volkswagen Jetta did not touch her, but she was burned and scraped by the car's undercarriage, police said.

    The suspect, John Taylor, was stunned with a Taser and suffered minor injuries. Police did not release the girl's name but said she lives with her mother in an East Bay city.

    She was visiting her father Saturday, and they had been at a friend's house. Police were still unsure Sunday afternoon why Taylor acted as he did.

    The incident began about 5:30 p.m. Saturday when an off-duty police officer saw Taylor pick up and shake the girl on Fifth Avenue near East 15th Street, then toss her into a traffic lane, investigators said. She then was hit by the Jetta, and the officer gave chase to Taylor after a neighbor came to the car and pulled her out.

    That neighbor was Diana Castro, who said the elderly couple in the Jetta was confused about what was happening, but stopped the car. Castro heard the commotion from inside her home, ran to the car and pulled her out from under.

    "The baby was completely under it. It was scary because if the lady driving it accelerated at all she could run it over," Castro said.

    Why the British Daily Mail would have more information about the story than a local Bary Area paper, I don't know. But they report the additional detail that the man and the baby's mother were separated, but even so, the mother calls him "a great father":
    An off-duty policeman said he saw Taylor, 21, who is separated from the child's mother and was looking after Jayla for a day, shake the girl by the roadside.

    He then allegedly threw the toddler into the traffic and then ran off, punching and kicking stopped cars as he fled, while a neighbour rescued the baby.

    Drivers tried to stop Taylor as he ran from police and, when officers caught up with him, they found him in a violent scuffle with motorists.

    He is then said to have brawled with police who eventually shot him with a Taser and arrested him on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child, vandalism, resisting arrest and battery on an officer.

    Miss Bartholemew, however, says she doesn't believe the story and says her former partner was under attack and did what he could to protect their baby.

    'I'm hurting now because I know my baby's father is in jail facing charges and I don't feel that it is reasonable,' she told NBC News.

    'Anybody who feels that they think that John had thrown the baby out, please get that out your mind - there is no reason to believe that. He is a great father to her.'

    Even taking the mother at her word, I'm still having trouble understanding.

    Perhaps it's because I've never experienced fatherhood, though. But putting myself in the position of being the father of an 18 month old child -- or even the caretaker of someone else's 18 month old child -- it's hard to imagine any sort of attack which would justify throwing the child into traffic. If the child were being attacked, I would try to stop the attacker. How could it possibly "protect" a child to throw it into the street in front of oncoming traffic? What kind of "father" would do such a thing.

    My suspicion is that the father is an out-of-control monster, and that the failure of the baby's mother to recognize this indicates that she is not a good mother. Absent some sort of proof that what happened is completely different than what is being reported, I think her statement that "he is a great father" is proof that she is an unfit mother (assuming there are still such categories).

    If the child had been a dog, I doubt the local Humane Society would allow her to have it back. Nor would I.

    (But once again, there are a lot of things we would never allow to happen to dogs that we routinely allow to happen to people.)

    posted by Eric at 11:05 AM | Comments (4)

    Moralistic, pleasure-hating authoritarianism is a hard sell

    It isn't easy to tell people that what they like is evil. That is why scoldings of that sort have traditionally been in the preserve of religion.

    M. Simon's last post reminded me that left-wing economic scoldings have tended to fall on deaf ears, mainly since consumers of stuff tend to like the stuff they consume -- even if it is "overproduced." Overproduction often means lots of competing goods and an abundance of choices, and while many of us (myself included) complain of "too many choices" (I have complained about the "war against plain"), I think very few people would accept (much less want) bareness and austerity where it comes to available consumer goods and products.

    So I left this comment to M. Simon's post:

    The argument against "over-production" has had very little appeal to most people. Which is why the environmentalists are trying to manufacture a new form of "green" morality which condemns all activities deemed "unsustainable."
    Actually, I shouldn't have said "all activities" for the new preachers mean to exempt themselves from the "moral" strictures they wish to impose on the rest of us. Al Gore, for example, will not have to worry about doing without air conditioning.

    For the rest of us, Stan Cox in the Washington Post preaches about the joys of living without air conditioning:

    Saying goodbye to A.C. means saying hello to the world. With more people spending more time outdoors -- particularly in the late afternoon and evening, when temperatures fall more quickly outside than they do inside -- neighborhoods see a boom in spontaneous summertime socializing.
    Yes, they've seen a lot of "spontaneous summertime socializing" in Philadelphia recently.

    But never mind Philly's hot weather melees! According to Cox, hot weather makes people nice:

    Rather than cowering alone in chilly home-entertainment rooms, neighbors get to know one another. Because there are more people outside, streets in high-crime areas become safer. As a result of all this, a strange thing happens: Deaths from heat decline. Elderly people no longer die alone inside sweltering apartments, too afraid to venture outside for help and too isolated to be noticed. Instead, people look out for one another during heat waves, checking in on their most vulnerable neighbors.

    Children -- and others -- take to bikes and scooters, because of the cooling effect of air movement. Calls for more summer school and even year-round school cease. Our kids don't need more time inside, everyone agrees; they need the shady playgrounds and water sprinklers that spring up in every neighborhood.

    That sounds idealistic and lovely, except I can just hear a chorus of environmentalists tsk-tsking about all that wasted water!

    And elsewhere in the Post, a very different opinion exists over whether hot weather in fact leads people to random acts of kindness:

    ....Serious crime dropped 71 percent in Baltimore and D.C.'s homicide rate dropped to zero during the back-to-back snowstorms of early February.

    However, the onset of summer means an increase in crime for D.C. Hot temperatures coupled with longer days, summer break from area high schools and a high unemployment rate could increase crime rates this summer.


    A positive correlation between warm weather and crime has been known for years, going as far back as the 19th Century, though the relationship eventually tapers off when the temperature becomes too hot. As of May, D.C.'s homicide rate was down 30 percent this year compared to last, but D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier expects repeat offenders will come back with the increase in temperatures and daylight.

    If it's true that "the relationship eventually tapers off when the temperature becomes too hot," then I guess that would mean that if there really was Global Warming, that would decrease crime. Assuming, of course, that we can force people (other than folks like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio) to love the joys of doing without air conditioning and being outside in the sweltering heat.

    Or riding public transportation!

    As temperatures soared to 100 degrees last week, there were few places in the Hub less miserable to be than underground, in a breezeless, sweltering, unairconditioned subway station.


    Death Valley seemed like a better alternative. Without a fan, the oppressive, humid air clung to the hundred of us riders down there, inducing sweat-drenched brows, soggy shirts and gasping lungs.

    "I feel like I'm suffocating," said Chani Wilson, 25, a student at Year Up Boston.

    "You can't even breathe," added her classmate, Louis Triplett.

    But it's morally pure to not have air conditioning -- especially when you're doing the morally green thing by riding public transportation!

    And nothing beats the joys of that spontaneous summertime socializing!

    What's not to love about this?


    To be fair to Cox, though, in a longer essay a few years ago, he didn't paint such a rosy picture. Instead, he likened air conditioning to drug addiction -- with predictable consequences:

    if the effect of air-conditioning on a hot human being can be compared to that of a pain-relieving drug, its economic impact is more like that of an anabolic steroid. And withdrawal, when it comes, will be painful.
    I find it fascinating that he imparted the piece with religiosity by titling it "Air-conditioning: Our Cross to Bear."

    He uses air conditioning to artfully merge the environmentalist "unsustainability" meme with the pessimistic view that growth leads to decay:

    As it creates fleeting enjoyment through a state of low entropy (in this case, an island of coolness in a sea of heat) but only by increasing entropy at an even faster rate elsewhere (by using up fuels and materials and releasing useless wastes), air-conditioning is a poster child for the inevitable decay that, according to Georgescu-Roegen, is a defining characteristic of economic growth.

    It's no coincidence that when the first modern central air-conditioning system was installed back in 1902, it was to cool the New York Stock Exchange.

    Yes, and within 3 decades, the stock market collapsed! Case closed!

    Evil as air conditioning is by itself, it has also fueled the twin evil of conspicuous consumption!

    Marketing in America is an exceptionally wasteful means of extracting Georgescu Roegen's "enjoyment of life" out of valuable resources, and it's made possible partly by air-conditioning. In a summer without AC, the mall/big-box strategy of concentrated retailing would create little more than a hot stew of bodily aromas. With it, leisurely shopping has largely displaced noncommercial pastimes for many.

    Air-conditioning can also make big purchases more attractive. You can't fully enjoy a jumbo-screen TV, a PC, an SUV or an RV unless you have AC. It allows you to grill steaks in the comfort of the kitchen, play indoor golf when it's too hot outdoors or, as President Richard Nixon used to do, enjoy your fireplace even in summer.

    Aha! I see it now.

    We are all Richard Nixon!

    This stuff is more evil than I imagined. And if you think Nixon was bad, the author ended by blaming air conditioning for an even worse atrocity:

    This story is the first in a two-part series on how air-conditioning has changed society. Next week: How air-conditioning may have helped elect George W. Bush.
    We should be so ashamed of ourselves for such unsustainable conduct. Fortunately, we now have a sustainable admininistration -- one built on TRUTH, which will lead us on the paths of righteousness.

    The problem remains, though, that telling people that what they like is is bad is always a hard sell, and it can only be done in the context of morality.

    Air conditioning may be comfortable, and it may make life fun and easier (even possible), but it has to be recast as evil.

    Same thing for unsustainable activities like eating the food you like, or even the Fourth of July fireworks (which backward people once considered fun and patriotic). The new trend is to ban fireworks if possible, and at any rate scold people who enjoy them:

    [F]ireworks shows spray out a toxic concoction that rains down quietly into lakes, rivers and bays throughout the country," wrote the Mother Nature Network's Russell McLendon on June 30. "Many of the chemicals in fireworks are also persistent in the environment, meaning they stubbornly sit there instead of breaking down."

    McLendon suggested avoiding fireworks and finding other ways to celebrate Independence Day.

    Well, being a thoroughly evil person, I did not do as McLendon suggested. Instead, I found a wonderful fireworks show in Brooklyn, Michigan. I hadn't been planning on sharing this video, but seeing fireworks being condemned made me change my mind. Plus, it also occurred to me that many of the same arguments the greenie-weenies make against fireworks could be made against guns. So I thought, why not celebrate pleasure?

    You know, that pursuit-of-happiness thing that the moralistic, authoritarian, pleasure-hating scolds want to ban because it's "unsustainable"?


    Especially because if they get their way, enjoyment won't be allowed!

    posted by Eric at 02:12 PM | Comments (10)

    The Quantum Mechanic

    If you are interested in quantum physics as I am I think you will find this paper very interesting: Modern Physics is Rotting [pdf]. You can also follow the discussion and read some words by the author at Talk Polywell.

    You can also read more sections of Prof. Johan F. Prins's forthcoming book at Cathodixx.

    Here are the opening paragraphs of the pdf linked above. He then goes on in this piece to give a simplified explanation of his theory with simple math.

    Physics is considered to be the purest of all natural sciences. Scientists practising physics are supposedly those "special" people who search for knowledge with an "open mind". New ideas and concepts are supposedly welcomed and objectively considered and tested. Since my own training is in physics and materials science, I also believed that this behaviour must reign supreme in science. I have applied these rules diligently while building my own career.

    It thus came as a traumatic shock to discover when already approaching retirement that the real bigots in the world are to be found within the physics community, and more specifically amongst our modern-day theoretical physicists who have lost the plot many years ago when Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) convinced them during the 1920's that it is impossible to "visualise" what happens on the atomic scale.

    His complete book is due out later this year and I will do a post on it when it is available.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

    Socialism Is The Answer

    I was reading a post at Seeking Alpha about why the economy is headed further down and came across this comment:

    This is a classic crisis of capitalism, an epidemic of over-production brought about by its most fundamental limitation/contradiction: the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. This tendency exerts its death-grip every 60-80 years so... it was only a matter of time.
    I have two questions and an answer for the gentleman.

    Let me get this straight. The problem with capitalism is that it produces too much? You would rather have the reverse problem? Socialism is your answer.

    Welcome Instapundit readers. One of my favorite books on the subject is Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:54 PM | Comments (32)

    Bureaucracies 'Я' US

    A lot of people have been citing this post by Doctor Zero (which I first saw linked at Instapundit), and I can see why. It is one of the best explanations of the central problem which I think is facing the country, and it bears repeating, and repeating:

    Bureaucracies grow through failure. They present failure as a rationale for increased budgets, which they must spend with gusto, in order to submit an even bigger budget the following year.
    By definition, growing strong through failure is the strongest possible form of strength. While it might seem impossible to combat, its one major weakness is that it relies on camouflage. The failures of bureaucracies are never blamed on or admitted to be in any way the result of the bureaucracies themselves, but are seen as new challenges facing us all. The reason people accept that at face value is because most citizens are people of good faith, who genuinely want to believe that the government is working for us all.

    When he was here at Ann Arbor, Barack Obama summarized this mentality quite well:

    When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us. We, the people -- (applause.) We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders and change our laws, and shape our own destiny.

    Government is the police officers who are protecting our communities, and the servicemen and women who are defending us abroad. (Applause.) Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe.

    Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. (Applause.) Government is this extraordinary public university -- a place that's doing lifesaving research, and catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small. (Applause.)

    So if you hate the bureaucracies, you don't merely hate those who are trying to help you, you also hate yourself!

    Hating bureaucracy is thus profoundly immoral, and morality is what this is all about. Back to Doctor Zero:

    The true business of government involves converting limited authority, granted through reason, into a limitless moral imperative. The Founders were very logical men. Both the Constitution and Bill of Rights are tightly reasoned documents. So were the original charters of government agencies which have since swollen to grotesque size. A calm, logical application of Constitutional principle would have prevented this... but when government transforms itself into a moral enterprise, people become willing to let it bypass its restrictions. Thus, NASA began with a clear mission whose success was easily measured - is space travel advancing or not? It ends in a great, gelatinous mass of international outreach and Muslim self-esteem, open-ended projects that will never require less funding in any future year.
    The transformation from reasoned limitations to moral authority allows the State to abandon logic in the application of fundamental rights, such as property rights. If the State respected the property rights of all citizens equally, it could not exist in its current form. Redistribution would be impossible. A government restrained by reason would be expected to complete its tasks quickly and efficiently, like a private contractor. Its agencies would be terminated for failure, freeing up resources to be allocated elsewhere. Instead, the crusading government brings us trillion-dollar Wars on Poverty that don't reduce poverty, trillion-dollar stimulus bills that don't stimulate anything, and massive departments blending into a Rorschach inkblot of mission creep. None of its agencies will ever complete an assignment, and no amount of money we give it will ever be enough.
    It's like a giant, out-of-control oil spill that cannot be capped, no matter what we do. Except we don't see it that way. Oil is icky and messy, and it's our fault because we are the consumers.

    The difference between oil and government bureaucrats, of course, is that oil has inherent value. The unelected rulers are precisely the opposite, as they suck away value -- the goal being socialism. Their "productivity" is measured by the elimination of all productivity, and thus, when their programs result in "failure," that means they are succeeding!

    This class is growing by leaps and bounds, and if there's one thing they know, it's that they are entitled to have power. But the free market has no use for them, so their unelected jobs must come from government or from the myriad of entities relying on government support.

    To follow my cynicism out, if we take it as a given that socialism does not work, but that it is imposed by government, what generally happens when government programs don't work? Why, new programs to fix the old programs, of course. The government will "fix" the problems the government creates. Seen this way, imposing socialism guarantees a vast expansion of the innumerable busybody classes -- especially if it doesn't work. It explains why they have to have socialism.

    And the fact that socialism doesn't work, why, it's not a bug, it's a feature!

    (And much as it kills me to be fair, I have to admit that if the goal is endless expansion of government, socialism does work!)

    It will take more than voting to get rid of them, because they are not elected. The maximum theoretical amount of change that could be accomplished by voting would be the replacement of the legislative majority and the head of the executive branch. And regardless of whether these changes took place at state or a federal levels, the people who are elected do not have the power to fire bureaucrats or renege on union contracts, nor could they be counted on to do anything which might seriously rock that great boat on which we all ride eventually. The USS Entitlement.

    Despite the growing uproar, I'm not at all sure that even a brand-new Congress could do what is advocated here:

    Salaries and benefits--for identical jobs--are 30 percent to 40 percent higher in the federal government than in the private sector. Claims that this dramatic discrepancy in compensation is warranted because of government workers' high skills are unjustified, as this study shows. Equally unjustified is the fact that federal workers can rarely be fired, no matter how poor their job performance. Congress should align federal salaries and benefits with market rates--a simple, and fair, move that could save taxpayers nearly $47 billion in 2011.
    If the bureaucrats were ever forced to admit their unfair advantage over the private sector, I'm sure they'd offer an easy solution to the problem: simply require the private sector to conform to the same standards the government sets for its own employees!

    After all, as the president says, the government is all of us!

    Better get with the program!

    UPDATE: Sean Kinsell links this post in "Get outta my way" -- a great discussion of education -- and Japan! Thanks, Sean!

    posted by Eric at 11:58 AM | Comments (5)

    USB Modem For Your PC

    A while back when my Windows XP box died I was able, with some help from my readers and my mom, to get a Gateway DX4831-01. A very nice machine with lots of ports. But a modem port was not one of the built in options. The first mate of course was always pestering me to send FAXes to take care of various bits of business, so I went searching Amazon for a USB Modem. This is the one I got:

    I had set up my Win 7 for 64 bits and I found that none of the software included on their CD was of ANY use. Dang. Well I don't give up easy. So I went looking around. First thing I went to the TRENDnet site and went looking for my modem. I got to the modem page and found a Win 7 64 bit driver and downloaded it. I loaded the driver (ran the .exe) and when it finished I plugged in the modem (you will not be prompted) after I connected it to a phone line. Then I went to the Win icon and clicked Devices and Printers. You get a modem (USB) icon and also a FAX icon. I clicked on the FAX icon and away I went. One other thing. Not every USB port on my computer worked with the modem. So you may have to try plugging it in to different USB ports.

    If you want to get a dial-up connection to a server or ISP click Devices and Printers and then right click on the modem icon and then click on Dial-up Networking. I did not try this since I have a cable modem.

    Because of the odd shape I think a USB 2.0 A-Male to A-Female Extension Cable is definitely in order.

    This modem has served my needs well so far and I would definitely buy another.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

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

    Policing For Fun And Profit

    I was looking for the drug courier profile page which used to be on this site and came across this page.

    Perhaps the most profitable investment a community can make is establishing a POLICE K-9 UNIT. A properly trained K-9 will usually pay for itself in 60 days and keep the revenue of city hall running high by utilizing the drug forfeiture laws.
    I'll bet that jailing people for their personal bad habits is quite profitable. There are so many of them. Of course we have Drug Police. But that is only a small part of how people are harming themselves. We need Food Police. And of course the world will not be safe for children without Sex Police (who will obviously be issued Sex Pistols). And everyone knows that bad thoughts invariably lead to bad actions so we will no doubt need Thought Police. I'm sure Dogs can be trained to smell Drugs, Food, and Sex. But what would be really useful is Dogs that can read minds and alert appropriately. "Judge, the dog was wagging its tail which it has been trained to do when anyone is thinking bad thoughts about the President or the County Commissioner." I'll bet local governments could make a fortune with such dogs.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 06:00 PM | Comments (4)

    Purity Of Essence

    Purity of Essence has morphed into Purity of Earth.

    Inspired by this bit on $Green Jobs at Hot Air.

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

    Exclusive rhetorical questions about "university standards of inclusivity"

    To what extent are college professors entitled to voice opinions without being fired for them? I recently learned about an Illinois professor who stated his religious and personal opinion that homosexuality is immoral. Predictably, this caused a student to complain about "hate speech" -- which led to the professor being fired:

    URBANA, Ill. -- The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church's teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

    The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

    I think it does violate academic freedom -- and the fact that I disagree with the professor is irrelevant. I would feel the same way if a university fired a professor for saying that homosexuality is natural and moral.

    However, I don't think the fact that the professor's views reflect his religious opinion really changes anything. (As I have explained, I see no reason that religious opinions should afforded more protection than non-religious opinions.)

    Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.

    "Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY," he wrote in the e-mail. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same."

    An unidentified student sent an e-mail to religion department head Robert McKim on May 13, calling Howell's e-mail "hate speech." The student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.

    "Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing," the student wrote. "Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another."

    Howell said he was teaching his students about the Catholic understanding of natural moral law.

    "My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches," Howell said in an interview with The News-Gazette in Champaign. "I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I'm teaching and they'll never be judged on that."

    Well, good for him! By not requiring his students to agree with him, he is showing more consideration for their intellectual freedom than most of the leftie professors.
    Howell also said he makes clear to his students that he's Catholic and that he believes the church views that he teaches.

    McKim referred questions to university spokeswoman Robin Kaler, who said she couldn't comment on Howell or his firing because it's a personnel issue.

    According to the university's Academic Staff Handbook, faculty "are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing according to their areas of competence the subjects that they are assigned."

    In an e-mail to other school staff, Ann Mester, an associate dean at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Howell's e-mail justified his firing.

    "The e-mails sent by Dr. Howell violate university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with us," Mester wrote.

    Standards of inclusivity? What the hell does that mean? It's not as if he threw gay students out of his class; what he did was merely to state his opinion, and explain why he thinks what he thinks, leaving students free to disagree without penalty of any kind. How does that exclude anyone? Are students considered so delicate that the slightest mention of something with which they feel uncomfortable is now to be considered a form of "exclusion"? Hmmm... Perhaps I can return to school and complain that I am being "excluded" every time a professor says something I disagree with.

    "Your statement that libertarianism is a selfish and materialistic doctrine makes me feel excluded!"

    Or suppose another hypothetical student who shared the view of Howell that homosexuality violates "Natural Law" were to take a class in which the professor stated just the opposite (based, say, on studies of Bonobo chimp behavior).

    Wouldn't such a student have just much right to make the claim that he too was "excluded"?

    Come on.

    This leads me to wonder about something else. How about a Muslim professor who said that the Koran condemned homosexuality, and that he agreed with the Koran's position. Would he too, be fired by the University of Illinois?

    (Yeah, I know the answer. So do you. It's just another rhetorical question....)

    UPDATE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for linking this post in a typically thoughtful discussion based on his personal experience.

    Read it!

    posted by Eric at 01:51 PM | Comments (3)

    Origins of the Fourth Amendment

    This article was originally published in a number of places in May of 2001. It is still relevant so I'm republishing it here.


    I'd like to talk today a little about the origins and meaning of the Fourth Amendment. First off what is the Fourth Amendment?

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    The meaning seems clear but I think it will become clearer if we look a little deeper into American history. The first point is that John Hancock before he became a signer of the Declaration of Independence was a smuggler. He had a famous run in with Crown officers in 1768 when his sloop the Liberty refused to pay the tax on some Madeira wine.

    Now we know that there was strong sentiment in some corners of 18th century America in favor of smugglers. And we know that the people were continually harassed with open warrants and general searches. Revenue officers could target people on the merest suspicion or target their enemies with no cause whatever. Often there would be dragnets where the usual suspects would be rounded up for interrogations and searches. All in the name of collecting taxes and controlling contraband.

    Now let us look at modern day America and the rights the Supreme court has declared we have left as opposed to those the founders gave us.

    Where are we? The Drug War exception to the Fourth Amendment couldn't be larger. And let us be clear about this. The drugs for the most part are smuggled goods. So lets start with the biggest hole the drug profile or indicators as the police like to say these days. What do the police need to start a drug case against you? Do they have to see you with the drugs? Do they need to see you exchange money for drugs? No. You just need to 'look' like someone who in the opinion of the officer might do those things. You need only fit a profile or match a few indicators.

    Lets look at a few of these specific indicators when it comes to the vehicle you are driving and get an idea of how specific they are:

    Exterior Indicators to look for:

    1. Large or late model cars with large trunks - GM most popular. a. Intermediate size also used. b. Occasionally a smaller car will be involved. 2. Older car in top running condition. 3. Vans and pickup trucks with camper tops also commonly used.

    So now that the drug courier vehicle type is so clearly defined ( just about any car on the road ). Lets see what kind of driver they are looking for.

    12. Driving habits often result in the courier being stopped for a routine violation a. Speeding up and slowing down b. Scrupulous obedience to traffic laws - overly cautious c. Erratic driving due to drug or alcohol use d. Many drive straight through and take drugs to stay awake e. Take a long time to pull over

    So following the law or not following the law are grounds for a drug search. That sure gives you a lot of choices.

    If you want to know more about how to avoid attracting unnecessary suspicion may I suggest you visit Drug Courier Profile Indicators

    And the site that alerted me to the above site.

    So from the above examples we see what is happening is that the limits on government are being eliminated to solve a smuggling problem. The very problem the writers of the Fourth Amendment experienced in their own lives and therefore anticipated.

    If you should meet any of the so-called Supreme Court strict constructionists who have weakened the Fourth Amendment in their zeal to collect contraband tell them they are in error.

    Tell them to read about John Hancock and the sloop Liberty.

    Update: 25 October 2009 1207z

    Here is a list of books that touch on the Drug War and the Fourth Amendment:

    The Drug War and The Fourth Amendment

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 12:44 PM | Comments (3)

    Ghost Riders In The Sky

    I love the graphic. Dead Heads racing. Heh.

    More music by the Outlaws

    posted by Simon at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

    An Extreme Drop In Value

    It appears that Present obama is suffering an extreme drop in value when it comes to his fund raising abilities.

    Pres. Obama is the best fundraiser the Dem Party has, but his drawing power is way down from its peak during the '08 campaign.

    Obama is heading to MO and NV today to raise money for Sec/State Robin Carnahan (D), running for an open Senate seat, and Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid.

    But Carnahan's campaign wasn't able to completely sell out the Folly Theater, where Obama will appear for a grassroots event on Carnahan's behalf, at the prices they wanted. Tickets once priced at $250 are now going for $99, while $35 tickets are half off.

    We can only hope this is the beginning of his

    Going Out Of Business Sale - Prices Reduced Up To 60%

    I look forward to a final closeout sale in 2012.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:07 AM | Comments (1)

    Dave Weigel's intolerable and unforgivable sin

    In an amusing and thoughtful piece, Jonah Goldberg looks at the supreme condescension behind the hiring of Dave Weigel to "cover" conservatism. Here's the subtext -- lurking inside what Goldberg calls "the ballad of David Weigel, a blogger for The Washington Post, briefly assigned to cover the 'conservative beat'":

    What is the conservative beat?

    According to many of the nation's leading editors, it's that shadowy world where carbon-based life forms of a generally humanoid appearance say and do things relating to conservative causes and the Republican Party. These strange creatures have been observed using complex tools, nurturing their young and even participating in complex social rituals. Most worship an unseen sky god that traces its roots back to the ancient Middle East. These creatures are having a noticeable impact on American politics.
    Yes, and even though they are so very odd and almost incomprehensible to those of us who share enlightened modern progressive standards, they are nonetheless worthy of study! By sending in Weigel (a man with an arguable aroma of conservatism in his past) to "cover" them, it might be possible to elicit valuable information in the better hope of learning what makes these odd creatures tick before their final extermination. (Which makes Weigel analogous to a sort of cultural anthropologist in the Victorian era.)

    Except things didn't work out. While Weigel might have been basically loyal to his progressive masters, he crossed a few lines that he should never have crossed. One was that he violated a major taboo by being the only Post reporter to cover the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation scandal (this bordered on what they call "going native"), which revealed too much about the rottenness which lies at the core of the Justice Department and the Obama administration.

    Bad as that is, Goldberg identifies another, far more grievous sin.

    To be sure, I know that Goldberg doesn't think it should be a sin, and I realize it wasn't especially relevant to his central point, but Goldberg touched on what I think might be a major reason for the decision to fire Weigel:

    Weigel's actual work product was far more balanced and seemingly open-minded than what you'd expect knowing his private views.
    To call that a grievous sin is no understatement. It is a sin against journalism itself as we know it.

    Think about it. Being balanced and open-minded despite your own personal views is completely contrary to what drives the modern mainstream media. Worse, it reflects a time in the distant past when journalists were supposed to be that way.

    So, by being balanced and objective in his journalism despite his personal liberal bias, Weigel was a far worse threat than he would have been had he simply decided to become an unabashed, dyed in the wool conservative.

    Such a situation was intolerable, and something had to be done.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds,
    Michael Walsh
    explains the new abandonment of objectivity.

    "We here at the dying Washington Post, in order to assure our survival as we migrate to the Internet, have got to become more like our blogging competitors, so we're going to chuck more than half a century of policy and openly embrace partisanship, just as long as we afford our warriors the fig leaf of 'transparency'. Hope this clears everything up."
    It's clear that Weigel fell short of the Post's standard.

    They'll have to try harder.

    posted by Eric at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

    The Kids Are All Right -- NOT!

    God bless Justin for ruining my day by telling me about a wonderful family friendly film titled "The Kids Are All Right." The plot is fairly simple:

    Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their birth father into their family life.
    The parents are lesbians (played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) and as to the man, I'm not familiar with the actor, but it sounded like just the ticket for this weekend's entertainment.

    Justin said it had been a huge hit at Sundance, which initially sounded good, because I really like independent films. In general, Hollywood sucks. But I say in general, because there are many exceptions.

    In that respect, I'm always delighted to see movement in the direction of independent film productions, so Bill Whittle's new idea for encouraging conservative films sounded promising. Whether the donors would want to make an indie like "The Kids Are All Right," I do not know. But the point is that Hollywood has too much of a stranglehold. More like a monopoly -- because everything revolves around the blockbuster racket:

    The drive to produce a spectacle on the movie screen has largely shaped American cinema ever since. Spectacular epics which took advantage of new widescreen processes had been increasingly popular from the 1950s onwards. Since then, American films have become increasingly divided into two categories: Blockbusters and independent films. Studios have focused on relying on a handful of extremely expensive releases every year in order to remain profitable. Such blockbusters emphasize spectacle, star power, and high production value, all of which entail an enormous budget. Blockbusters typically rely upon star power and massive advertising to attract a huge audience. A successful blockbuster will attract an audience large enough to offset production costs and reap considerable profits. Such productions carry a substantial risk of failure, and most studios release blockbusters that both over- and underperform in a year.
    The distribution system is hopelessly skewed in favor of the blockbusters, and the system essentially dictates what films the megaplex type theater chains carry. Independent films don't have a chance.

    Now, I knew that, but when I talked to Justin I had barely finished my second cup of coffee, and as my brain's synapses weren't yet firing properly, I didn't put two and two together.

    Around here (and most of the United States) the words "Indie" and "Sundance" refer, simply, to films that cannot be seen. Period. For these films, only sophisticated urban audiences in places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago are allowed!

    And I knew that, but it wasn't until I went to the IMDB page for "The Kids Are All Right" and clicked on "showtimes" that the truth hit home again. Here's the map:


    It's nowhere near me, and nowhere near anyone who is not in driving distance from those big cities. I have seen this time and time again, and it just pisses me off to no end. (And as usual, none of the blockbuster films in the local megaplexes interest me.) Another reminder that the big money in Hollywood has nothing but contempt for those of us who live in what they call "flyover country."

    So much for my imagining that I might go see an interesting movie as weekend entertainment.

    But (sigh) I guess along with the rest of the spurned non-conformists from Flyoverland I can probably rent it eventually, and I do appreciate Justin's tip.

    posted by Eric at 11:50 AM | Comments (6)

    I hate being nannied! And "nudged"! But do I have to pay for it too?

    Justin (who used to blog here but who for reasons I can't fathom stopped) has often been a helpful source of post ideas, for he knows how to find things which are certain to fiendishly irritate me. For example, yesterday he told me about San Francisco's plan to ban the sale of pets in pet stores. This morning, he had more. The people who want to take away our pet animals, also want to take away our pet foods and drinks.

    [Banned beverages include] non-diet sodas, sports drinks and artificially sweetened water. Juice must be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice with no added sweeteners. Diet sodas can be no more than 25 percent of the items offered, the directive says.

    There should be "ample choices" of water, "soy milk, rice milk and other similar dairy or non dairy milk," says the directive, which also covers fat and sugar content in vending machine snacks.

    And if you're a city employee (at least, they're starting the crackdown with city employees) they're not going to allow you to eat doughnuts or other unhealthy foods. It's back to the farm for all of you!:
    All city departments have six months to conduct an audit of unused land--including empty lots, rooftops, windowsills and median strips--that could be turned into community gardens or farms that could benefit residents, either by working at them or purchasing the fresh produce. Food vendors that contract with the city must offer healthy and sustainable food. All vending machines on city property must also offer healthy options, and farmers' markets must begin accepting food stamps, although some already do....

    And effective immediately, no more runs to the doughnut shop before meetings and conferences held by city workers. Instead, city employees must use guidelines created by the Health Department when ordering food for meetings.

    Examples include cutting bagels into halves or quarters so people can take smaller portions and serving vegetables instead of potato chips....

    Many of the details have yet to be worked out, including how much it will cost.

    Hey, this is the government! Not only is there no limit to nannying, but there are absolutely no limits to the cost. Here's Nick Gillespie on the inanity of the Utopian streetcar movement:
    This sort of absolute and utter foolishness is being played out in every hamlet, village, town, and city in the United States and such incredible and indefensible spending decisions are exactly the reason why local governments (not to mention state and federal units) are flat-busted. As noted in passing yesterday (and virtually everyday here at Hit & Run), when it comes to government (and, to be fair, many relatives of mine), spending decisions are virtually completely divorced from any vague concept of reality or revenue. They spend when times are good and when times are bad; they do not plan for the future or learn from the past.
    And if they put the streetcars in, it won't stop there. These people not rest unless they can yank you out of your evil automobile and force you into public transportation! That way, you can be made miserable by having to worry about things like crime and terrorist attacks while you're forced to endure confrontations like this.
    "[Larry] Wilks and three other unidentified subjects began to verbally attack the 45-year-old bus driver," said police spokesman Howard Payne. "He said 'You can't tell me what to do, and you better drive this bus.'"...

    Wilks told police that he "didn't have to do anything" and allegedly got into a fight with the officer before being put into handcuffs, under arrest.

    Others at the scene, apparently angered over the arrest, encircled the officer and Wilks, prompting the officer to call for backup.

    "After the scene was calmed, Wilks stated he was not afraid to go to jail, and that proved to be directly in line with the officer's decision," Payne said.

    To which a commenter said,
    See, this is why I drive a car.
    Precisely why we need laws against driving in cities! Antisocial elements like that commenter need to be.... (what's the word?) Nudged! (that's it) into seeing that it is in the best interest of all of us that they take public transportation. And the best way to nudge them is with more laws!

    What galls me the most about the people want to tell you what to do and how to run your life is that they also want you to pay them to tell you what to do and how to run your life! It adds insult to injury.

    A bit like being charged for the executioner's bullet.

    MORE: Speaking of pubic public transportation, here's something else to worry about that rhymes with nice:

    If you take public transportation or are around children often, you may want to check to make sure you do not see any lice or eggs.
    Yes, and be sure to check for bedbugs too. (And never mind that urine stain on the seat.)


    The list just goes on and on. Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that the food Nazis are trying to ban free toys with Happy Meals:

    The Center for Science in the Public Interest last month threatened a lawsuit against the fast-food giant to get it to dump the toys that accompany Happy Meals.

    Forget it, McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said, defending Happy Meals in the written response sent to the Washington, D.C.-based group.

    "Internet sites, blogs and network surveys suggest that public opinion is running overwhelmingly against your premise," Skinner wrote. "Our customer websites and phone lines at McDonald's are also busy, with more than nine out of 10 customers disagreeing with your agenda."

    The strong public response is uncommon for the company, whose dominance in the fast-food industry makes its a target of a range of activist groups.

    An actual legal ban on the toys was passed by the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors -- despite the fact that 80% of the voters there do not consider the issue important.

    Santa Clara County's board of supervisors despondently voted 3-2 yesterday to ban toys in Californian restaurant meals marketed to kids that exceed a certain amount of calories. The purpose, said the measure's sponsor, is to fight obesity. Get it? They're banning toys for kids...for the children. Given the twisted logic of obesity crusaders, perhaps it was only a matter of time.

    Of course, it's hard to see how this directly fights obesity. As our senior research analyst points out on Fox Philadelphia last night, it's not as if your 6-year-old drives to a fast-food joint to buy a kids' meal.

    I'd post the video, except I see that the link has been pulled:
    This video has been pulled due to terms of use violation.
    So their research analyst gets interviewed by Fox Philadelphia, and they're not allowed to post it?

    Those food Nazis must be powerful!

    I'm with Glenn's "Molon labe, baby!"

    They can have the Happy Meal Toys when they.... etc.

    Um, they do know that the people they're screwing around with still have the right to vote, don't they?

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

    The 1920 Census

    You learn something new every day.

    Congress failed to reapportion following the 1920 Census. The failure was in part the result of a difference of opinion over the method of dividing political power. Throughout the 1920s, Congress debated which of two mathematical models for reapportionment--whose outcomes for distribution of House seats differed--would be used. In 1929, one mathematical method was selected for the reapportionment, but it was not applied until after the 1930 Census. Furthermore, the debate about apportionment methods was not over. In 1941, a different model was chosen called "the method of equal proportions." It is still in use today.

    The failure to reapportion in 1920 was also a reflection of regional power dynamics. The results of the 1920 Census revealed a major and continuing shift in population from rural to urban areas, which meant that many representatives elected from rural districts resisted reapportionment. Also, the growing number of immigrants entering this country had some impact on population shifts. Delay followed delay as rural interests tried to come up with mechanisms that would reduce the impact of the population shift. Congressmen from rural areas that would lose seats to more urbanized areas simply blocked passage of reapportionment legislation for 9 years.

    During the congressional debates on Pubic Law 71-13, which was enacted in 1929, language requiring that districts be composed of contiguous, compact territory and contain the same number of individuals was deleted. Therefore, the reapportionment law that finally passed in 1929 was silent on the subject of rules for how the states were to establish districts to elect their representatives. As a result, some states simply stopped redistricting, despite major changes in the internal distribution of their populations over time from rural to urban to suburban. A process of malapportionment--meaning establishment of districts containing unequal population sizes--continued unchecked for decades.

    Adapted from United States General Accounting Office, May 1998, Decennial Census: Overview of Historical Census Issues, GAO/GGD-98-103. [pdf]

    So what was the practical effect of all these shenanigans? Funny you should ask. In discussing Daniel Okrent's Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition George Will has this to say.
    By 1900, per capita consumption of alcohol was similar to today's, but mere temperance was insufficient for the likes of Carry Nation. She was "six feet tall, with the biceps of a stevedore, the face of a prison warden, and the persistence of a toothache," and she wanted Prohibition. It was produced by the sophisticated tenacity of the Anti-Saloon League, which at its peak was spending the equivalent of 50 million of today's dollars annually. Okrent calls it "the mightiest pressure group in the nation's history." It even prevented redistricting after the 1920 Census, the first census to reveal that America's urban -- and most wet -- population was a majority.
    So that is how the census became delayed. And who was allied with the forces of prohibition and the dwindling rural population? You will never guess. Unless you like history as much as I do.
    ...President Woodrow Wilson's progressivism became a wartime justification for what Okrent calls ``the federal government's sudden leap into countless aspects of American life,'' including drink.

    And so Prohibition came. Sort of. Briefly.

    After the first few years, alcohol consumption dropped only 30 percent. Soon smugglers were outrunning the Coast Guard ships in advanced speedboats, and courts inundated by violations of Prohibition began to resort to plea bargains to speed ``enforcement'' of laws so unenforceable that Detroit became known as the City on a Still.

    Prohibition agents cherished $1,800 jobs because of the bribes that came with them. Fiorello La Guardia taunted the government that it would need ``150,000 agents to watch the first 150,000.''

    After 13 years, Prohibition, by then reduced to an alliance between evangelical Christians and criminals, was washed away by ``social nullification'' -- a tide of alcohol -- and by the exertions of wealthy people like Pierre du Pont who hoped that the return of liquor taxes would be accompanied by lower income taxes. (They were.) Ex-bootleggers found new business opportunities in the southern Nevada desert. And in the Second World War, draft boards exempted brewery workers as essential to the war effort.

    In the fight between law and appetite, bet on appetite. And: Americans then were, and let us hope still are, magnificently ungovernable by elected nuisances

    Of course the Progressives had introduced drug prohibition in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act (except that cocaine is not a narcotic - but never mind), but they had bigger game in mind. Now what is so interesting about today's political situation is that "conservatives" spout progressive dogma about Drug Prohibition and yet haven't a clue as to the antecedents of their position.

    So it seems that at one time progressives wanted to run all of your life and conservatives thought that your life was your own business not the government's. Now we have a division of labor so to speak. The liberals stand for personal liberty and economic chains while the conservatives go with personal chains and economic liberty. For the most part. They all have their little fetishes that intrude on the opposition's territory though. That is what makes them interesting even if they are mostly unbearable.

    Oh. Yeah. The George Will piece is called: Bet on appetite, not law, for Americans. If we look at the opiate/cocaine laws first enacted 96 years ago it appears that appetite is still winning. And the pot laws which are only 73 years old? There are two grow op stores in my town of 150,000. At first they were harassed. Now after ten or fifteen years they are solid citizens. Verrrrrrry interesting? No?

    And you might want to read Eric's A Good First Step which shows one of the progressive's little fetishes. And a thermodynamic explanation of politics is also pertinent.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:35 AM | Comments (1)

    Murderous anti-gay bigots are OK, but "neocons" are the enemy!
    What martyrdom is greater than making yourself a human bomb detonating it among the enemy? What spiritualism is greater than this spiritualism in which a person loses all feeling of his body and life for the sake of his cause and mission?

    -- Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, who died recently.

    CNN's Atlanta-based Senior Middle East News Editor Octavia Nasr, on learning of the man's recent death, mourned him on Twitter:
    "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect[ed] a lot."
    Nasr was fired for saying that, and Glenn Greenwald has leaped to her defense, condemning Nasr's and Fadlallah's critics as "neocon polemicists," and going out of his way to speak gushingly of Fadlallah -- even denouncing as "simplistic" and "false" Fadlallah's beyond-any-doubt status as a leading Hezbollah figure:
    Look at how our discourse is completely distorted and dumbed-down by the same stunted, cartoonish neocon orthodoxies that have also destroyed our foreign policy. In our standard political discussions, the simplistic and false notion -- obviously accepted by CNN -- drives the discussion: Fadlallah is an Evil Hezbollah Terrorist!!, and Nasr probably is as well given the "respect" she expressed for him during his death. Thus: CNN got caught employing an Israel-hating Terrorist-lover, and once she revealed herself, she had to be fired immediately!!!! That really is the primitive level of agitprop churned out by neocon polemicists and then dutifully ingested and embraced by CNN.

    The reality, though, is completely different. Fadlallah was a revered figure to a large chunk of the world, and was quite mainstream even in parts of the West. As the AP put it today, Fadlallah was "one of Shiite Islam's highest and most revered religious authorities with a following that stretched beyond Lebanon's borders to Iraq, the Gulf and as far away as central Asia."

    Greenwald is one of those guys who calls anyone who disagrees with him a Neocon (he calls the current round of criticism of him "unhinged attacks by the worst neocon elements"), and I'm sure he would say the same thing about this post.

    But it's when he says that "Fadlallah's alleged ties to Hezbollah are dubious at best," that he not only makes a fool of himself, but shows what a pathetic figure he really is.

    Come on Greenwald! Even Octavia Nasr called called Fadlallah "one of Hezbollah's giants." It's right there in your own post -- at the top of the page!

    To be fair to Greenwald, perhaps he missed the Fadlallah funeral.

    A pity, really. Because those sweethearts at Hezbollah just love gay Americans. Even if they only have alleged "ties."

    As for the man Greenwald defends, Fadlallah specifically endorsed the death penalty for homosexuality, saying that it was one of only three crimes deserving of such punishment:

    He ["Leading Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah"] listed the three crimes that merit the death penalty in Islam: First, in cases of premeditated murder, he said that the parents of the victim could ask the government to carry out the death penalty, but the method of punishment should be proportionate to the crime. This is explained in many verses of the Koran, he added.

    "We read in the life of Imam Ali that before he died from an assassin's sword, he ordered his cousins to strike his killer with a sword once ­ for his killer had struck him once," he said.

    The second case where the death penalty can be applied is when a criminal's activities threaten or corrupt his society and undermine its security, like highway robbers, Fadlallah said, adding that in Islam, these people are called the corruptors of the earth.

    The third case is homosexuality, which has a "negative impact on the normal relationship between a man and a woman," he said.

    And Glenn Greenwald called the man who said that "a revered figure to a large chunk of the world," and "quite mainstream."

    Geez. I only hope he had such kind words for Jerry Falwell on his death.

    No wonder Greenwald had nothing to say about Iranian executions of gays when he defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government against "hysteria" in another long tirade against "neocons."

    Just who or what is Greenwald working for, anyway?

    Seriously, the man makes me want to become a full time "neocon polemicist."

    But I better not do that, because it only seems to make him happy:

    I view the increasingly unhinged attacks by the worst neocon elements to be a vindication of what I'm doing. I see them as pernicious and destructive, and genuinely welcome their contempt.
    Speaking as a very insignificant neocon, I would welcome a little contempt from a defender of such murderous bigots, so I hope it's mutual.

    posted by Eric at 05:42 PM | Comments (3)

    "a good first step"

    One of my pet peeves has long been the movement to abolish pets, and ultimately, all ownership of animals.

    I have blogged about this so many times that I probably sound like a broken record, but today I learned that San Francisco is seriously considering banning the sale of all pets -- except fish:

    Sell a guinea pig, go to jail.

    That's the law under consideration by San Francisco's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare. If the commission approves the ordinance at its meeting tonight, San Francisco could soon have what is believed to be the country's first ban on the sale of all pets except fish.

    That includes dogs, cats, hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, birds, snakes, lizards and nearly every other critter, or, as the commission calls them, companion animals.

    Naturally, banning pet sales will force local pet stores to either close or move. But this idea is part of a fanatical abolitionist movement, and it will spread.

    Not that the activists would care, but the pet stores maintain that the small animals (mostly rodents) which show up at the San Francisco Animal Shelter aren't coming from them:

    On Wednesday, the shelter, which is on 15th Street in the Mission District, had six hamsters, nine rabbits, nine mice, nine rats, two guinea pigs, a bowl of goldfish, two birds, a leopard gecko, a bearded dragon and a hermit crab named Charlie.

    But those shelter hamsters almost certainly did not originate at a pet store, said Michael Maddox, general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in Washington, D.C.

    Studies by UC Davis and the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy have shown that only a small fraction of shelter animals were purchased at pet stores, he said. People who buy animals at pet stores are just as committed, emotionally and financially, to caring for their pets as people who procure pets elsewhere, he said.

    "This is an anti-pet proposal from people who oppose the keeping of pets," he said. "If their goal is to ban the ownership of pets entirely, then this is a good first step."

    Banning the ownership of pets absolutely is the goal, and I have discussed it in a number of posts. But they won't stop with pets; they also want to ban all ownership of animals by humans. No more farm animals, no more meat.

    It would be a mistake to dismiss this a wacko, fringey, San Francisco idea. The Humane Society of the United States makes no bones about its desire to abolish the sales of animals in pet stores

    The HSUS opposes the sale of dogs, cats, and other animals through pet stores and other commercial operations.
    Activists relentlessly campaign against all pet stores that sell pets, and the harassment is reaching to the point where few people would have the balls to open a pet store. (Precisely what the activists want.) If you open a business like that in a fixed location, you're a sitting duck. What that means that animal sellers will be gradually be forced underground. (Also what the activists want; that way they can clamor for "tougher laws.")

    The best way to stop this sort of nonsense would be for people to stop donating money to the so-called "charities" like PETA and the HSUS. And they might also ask why cash-strapped cities have these busybody so-called "Animal Welfare commissions" in the first place. From my experience in Berkeley, I know that the only people who are ever get appointed to sit on them are animal rights activists. So what it means is that if you live in a city which has a commission like that, your tax dollars are going to activists who dedicate themselves to telling people what to do.

    And if they take down the pet stores, the next target will be the pets themselves. Calls for bans on so-called "exotic animals" (which would include small reptiles) are being issued in mainstream publications like the Readers Digest.

    "Wild and potentially dangerous animals should not be kept as pets where they can do grave harm to innocent victims," says Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, who has been fighting to ban all Exotic Pets in his State. "If they are wild, they belong in Nature, not in people's homes, where their natural instincts and great strength can be extraordinarily hazardous."
    The piece concludes with an admonition,
    Don't buy animals meant to live in the wild
    And this:
    * Check with the Humane Society (humanesociety.org) to see if your State restricts ownership of Exotic Pets. Urge your legislators to follow the 29 States that have taken action.
    Of course, the HSUS is also against the ownership of domestic animals, which its president maintains should never have been bred. "Exotic" animals (defined as "animals meant to live in the wild") will become a catchall for the rest. (Simple arithmetic, because animals by definition are either wild or domestic, and they want to eliminate the keeping of them, period.)

    These people don't intend to stop in San Francisco.

    posted by Eric at 01:23 PM | Comments (4)


    More than six billion humans face extinction every year. And every year millions die. If the death rate accelerates it is hard to predict the overwhelmingly catastrophic consequences.

    Inspired by Ecologist who says:

    More than 25% of flowers face extinction - many before they are even discovered
    I wonder if he didn't spell his name wrong. Mistakes happen. I'm just wondering if it shouldn't be Ecoligist.

    And where did I find this person? At the Guardian UK's enviro blog where they claim Germany will get all its energy from renewables (or France) by 2050.

    I wonder what their plan is for days when the wind doesn't blow? Or days when it blows too strong? Solar I guess until the sun goes down.

    Except for one minor problem, German subsidies will be shifted from solar to wind.

    The German photovoltaic industry knew bad news was on the way, and it could have been worse. Last week, Germany's Environment Ministry recommended a shift in subsidies from solar energy installations to offshore wind farms. The solar sector breathed a collective sigh of relief because the subsidy could have easily been significantly cut or completely eliminated. Nevertheless outraged, the German Solar Industry Association issued a statement complaining that its members were in "a sensitive phase of development and [face] harsh competition with Asia."

    With Germany's impressive track record of renewable energy legislation, we have to wonder if the future will cause fickle investors to flock to wind now that solar subsidies have been cut in Germany. On the surface, this might look like a victory for wind power, but if you do a bit of digging, a different picture emerges.

    Germans get 13% of their energy from renewable sources, but little of this energy comes from offshore wind farms, and the technology has been struggling to get out of the starting blocks. "The development of the offshore wind industry has gone forward more slowly than expected," said Michael Schroeren, a spokesman for Germany's environment ministry. "And the cost of these new technologies is also higher than was expected." By shifting subsidies from solar to wind, the German government is essentially signaling to the market that wind isn't doing that great, and that the technology needs all the help it can get.

    And why is a subsidy even necessary? Simple. Solar and wind are not competitive without lower cost collectors and really low cost storage. Otherwise you have to keep coal and natural gas plants on hot standby to make up for instantaneous declines in output. And of course on a really good day when solar and wind are producing more electricity than needed the excess is just wasted. And you still need the fossil fuel plants on hot standby - just in case. So where is the subsidy for storage? Not in evidence.

    It looks to me like a classic case of ignorant politicians leading a stupid people. Well, in the long run the Germans (and every one else for that matter) always get what they deserve. Let us hope they get it good and hard and soon. Pour encourager les autres. Nothing like a Greek tragedy to wake people up.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

    Power Is A Function Of Time

    From the YouTube page.

    connvee3 October 24, 2009

    FACEBOOK: If you're on Facebook, JOIN their page as a fan...I wanted to do the full version 11 min. but youtube says No -10min only. So here it is, a few cut here and there. Also, my uncles are doing well in So. Cal. They have a web site Chambersbrothersreunited.com. And the art work(with the exception of the blue cow bell pic) was created by Dylan Chambers, Lester's son. I hope you enjoy it. Keep the memories coming, it's nice to read how their music touched your lives...God Bless yaaa!

    Demonstrate LOVE to those before You!

    I saw the Brothers at the Filmore in San Francisco back in the day. I still have fond memories of that show and the gang I went with. Ed Herny are you out there?

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:48 AM | Comments (1)

    Those materialistic, constitution-loving Tea Partiers!

    There's a new book out by WorldNetDaily bigwig Joseph Farah, titled "The Tea Party Manifesto: A Vision for an American Rebirth."

    While I have not read it, if what Farah says here is any indication, I think the book is his attempt to redefine the Tea Parties and basically glom onto* a movement started by others:

    ...too many Americans who say they are trying to restore America's promise have bought into the materialistic arguments of the socialists. They say tea partiers and conservatives and Republicans should stick to economic issues and avoid what they euphemistically call "social issues."

    In other words, some of the opponents of socialism have bought into the most fundamental tenet of socialism - materialism.

    In my new book, "The Tea Party Manifesto: A Vision for an American Rebirth," I explain how that strategy represents a recipe for a stillborn, impotent movement.

    When you hear someone telling you the only winning issue is the economy, understand that you are listening to a materialist.

    First of all, the TEA in Tea Party stands for the very materialistic slogan "Taxed Enough Already."

    Not "Teed Off Over Abortion," (TOOA) or "Ticked Off Over Gay Marriage." (TOOGA)

    Second, has the Tea Party Movement ever stood for the idea that "the only winning issue is the economy"? Since when has most important come to mean only?

    While there are all kinds of people involved in the Tea Parties (and there is no way to stop anyone from going) from the get-go, the agreed-upon Tea Party principles have consisted of the following:

  • Fiscal Responsibility.
  • Constitutionally Limited Government
  • Free Markets.
  • That's more than just the economy. (Is Farah also prepared to denounce concerns about the Constitution as "materialistic" in nature?)

    Third, to say that "opponents of socialism have bought into the most fundamental tenet of socialism -- materialism" is like saying that "opponents of gun control have bought into the most fundamental tenet of gun control -- the material nature of guns." Defending what your enemies want to take away may be materialistic in a certain sense, but to criticize someone as "materialistic" for wanting to defend his property from confiscation is one of the most disingenuous arguments I have seen in a long time. (I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though. As a libertarian, I have unfairly been called "materialistic" for years, but I have noticed that for whatever reason, conservatives are more likely to take umbrage at the charge. Leftists equate "materialistic" with selfish, BTW, so it's a nice trick, if you enjoy demagoguery.)

    Fourth, there is a perfectly good reason to "avoid what they euphemistically call 'social issues' " -- and that is revealed by Farah's failure to mention what they are. Perhaps that explains his euphemistic use of the phrase "euphemistically" -- by which he hopes to make it look as if his failure to mention them specifically is the fault of others.

    What are the social issues? Abortion? Gay rights? Animal rights? People who are freaked out about the imminent collapse of the US economy have many different opinions about these issues, as I saw the last time I attended a Tea Party meeting. Two people were insisting that the local Tea Party get active in the fight against abortion, and this generated much grumbling and muttering. Finally it was pointed out that while many Tea Partiers are strongly in the pro-life camp, not all are, and that there are existing groups and organizations which are devoted to them full time. I do not doubt that there were a number of different opinions on gay rights and gay marriage in that room too.

    So, it's not so much that Tea Partiers want to avoid talking about these issues or prohibit anyone from talking about them -- for anyone can talk about anything. It's just that they're savvy enough to know that if they attempt to stake out formal positions on issues which have never been Tea Party issues, they can expect raucous debates, and then no matter which side "wins," the people on the other side will no longer show up. According to the most basic math, that would mean fewer people supporting the Tea Party.

    But I guess math is a form of materialism too.

    * Glomming on to what others have done is nothing new. Herbert Marcuse (an elderly German Communist) tried to glom onto the sexual freedom movement in the 1960s. It was no more "his" to than the Tea Party movement is Farah's.

    posted by Eric at 11:50 PM | Comments (8)

    Cantu a tenore

    I learned about this interesting form of Sardinian polyphonic music today, and I'm sorry it took me so long, because I find it nothing short of amazing.

    A tenore is practised by groups of four male singers each of whom has a distinct role; the oche or boche (pronounced /oke/ or /boke/, "voice") is the solo voice, while the mesu oche or mesu boche ("half voice"), contra ("counter") and bassu ("bass") - listed in descending pitch order - form a chorus (another meaning of tenore). The bassu sings the same note sung by the oche, and contra a fifth above the bassu. Oche and mesu oche sing in a regular voice, whereas contra and bassu sing with a technique affecting the larynx. The oche sings a poetic text, which can be of epic, historic, satirical, amorous or even protest genre. The chorus consists of nonsense syllables (for example bim-bam-boo). According to popular tradition, mesu oche imitates the sound of wind, while the contra imitates a sheep bleating and the bassu a cow lowing. The solo voice starts a monodic vocal line and is then joined by the others as he indicates to them to join in. The effect is somewhat that of a round except that the points where the other singers join in vary and, thus, the harmonies vary from version to version. The execution differs in details between each of the villages where a tenore is sung to such an extent that the village can be immediately recognized. Although nowadays cucordu and canto a tenore are performed only by men, memories remain of a time where women groups performed as well, following the matriarchal tradition of Sardinia. According to some anthropologists, canto a tenore was performed back in nuraghe civilisation. In 2005, Unesco classed the canto a tenore among intangible world heritage [1].
    It's a very old from of music -- how old I do not know, but it has captivated a number of famous musicians:
    Sardinia is home to one of the oldest forms of vocal polyphony, generally known as cantu a tenore; several famous musicians have found it irresistible, including Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman, and Peter Gabriel. The latter travelled to the town of Bitti in the central mountainous region and recorded the now world-famous Tenores di Bitti CD on his Real World label.
    Makes me feel like a real ignoramus for not knowing about it sooner, but here's an example, performed by Tenores di Bitti.

    (My apologies if this bores any musically sophisticated readers).

    And interesting feature about the language of the singers (Sardo logudorese) is that it is he most conservative of all Romance languages" (being closer to the original Latin than the others, and having changed very little from the Latin vulgate):

    The language derives from Latin, and has been influenced by Catalan and Spanish due to the dominion of the Aragon and later the Spanish Empire over the island. Logudorese is the northern macro-dialect of the Sardinian language, the southern macro-dialect being Sardu campidanesi, spoken in the southern half of the island. The two variants share a clear common origin and history, but have experienced somewhat different developments.

    Though the language is typically Romance, some words in the language are not of Latin origin, and often are of uncertain etymology. One such is "nura", found in "nuraghe", the main form of pre-Roman building, hence the term for the pre-Roman era as the Nurgic Period. Various place names similar have unanalisable roots.

    Perhaps the most interesting feature of Logudorian is that, due to the particular history of the area, it has suffered very little contamination and has changed very slowly from Vulgar Latin in comparison to other Latin languages, even though in terms of vocabulary it is not as close to its Latin ancestor as Italian, the most Latin of Romance languages. Having said this, Campidanese in contrast at times shows more archaic features than Logudorese, particularly in its verb forms, sauch as the retention of the 3rd person plural in -nt(), reduced to -n() in Logudorese.

    About as Classical as you can get while still living in the modern world.


    posted by Eric at 02:11 PM | Comments (4)

    Overcoming Diversity

    I wish I hadn't been forced to watch this painful YouTube video showing Liza Minnelli hawking her wares on the HSN, but I did, mainly because a friend emailed me the link and beseeched me to get through it to hear a great line from a caller.

    Sure enough, at approximately 4:15 - 4:20 thew caller says:

    You've just come from so much diversity, and you've overcome it!
    Now, while I didn't especially want to spend my time pondering the meaning and looking for subtexts, the fact is that it is what I spend a lot of time doing. My first thought was that what the caller meant to say was this --
    You've just come from so much adversity, and you've overcome it!
    -- but that she misspoke.

    I also allowed that adversity is a form of diversity! (which it is, if you consider the ADA and stuff like that.) But then my naughty emailer replied,

    And diversity is adversity!
    Still trying to be ever the diplomat, I emailed back,
    Yes, we have been through a lot!
    Well we have, haven't we?

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!

    I hadn't given it much thought, but I'm now thinking that my reluctance to watch Liza Minnelli on YouTube might constitute "videophobia."

    Is that a disease that I can overcome?

    posted by Eric at 11:50 AM | Comments (4)

    "Shut up," the TSA explained.

    The TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) has decided to block -- as "inappropriate for government access" -- all Internet websites which contain "controversial opinion."

    I have no idea whether that would include ClassicalValues.com. Are the opinions here controversial? What does that mean?

    An opinion that is controversial?

    Or an opinion about a controversial issue?

    Or are the two considered synonymous? Honestly, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

    While I have no way of knowing whether any TSA employees read this blog, that isn't the point. My worry is what this obscene government pronouncement might mean in the long run. Especially coming on the heels of a growing movement to do something I consider unthinkable in a free society: to give the government the power to shut down the Internet.

    The people who work for the TSA are the lowest common denominator in robotic, mindless law enforcement. They live by the rules of zero tolerance and zero common sense, and I believe that if they were ordered to enforce a rule of zero tolerance for controversial opinion at airports, they would be delighted (at least, to the extent such mindless personalities are capable of feelings) to operate "conversation sniffing devices," and then yank people out of line for talking about taboo subjects. It's all too easy to laugh at these people -- for they have taken all the fun out of traveling and Americans try to be a fun-loving people -- but I'm not sure that laughing at them will make them -- or their directive against "controversial opinion" -- go away.

    The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a "controversial opinion."

    There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.

    It's tough, but just for today I will try to put myself in the position of being a TSA administrator in charge of determining what it is that constitutes a controversial opinion.

    A number of websites list the controversial issues in America. There are far too many to list here, but the Wiki post on the subject was helpful enough to break them down into categories:

    * 2.1 Politics/ economics
    * 2.2 History
    * 2.3 Religion
    * 2.4 Science / Biology / Health
    * 2.5 Sexuality
    * 2.6 Sports
    * 2.7 Entertainment
    * 2.8 Environment
    * 2.9 Law and Order
    * 2.10 Linguistics
    * 2.11 Philosophy
    * 2.12 Psychiatry
    * 2.13 Technology
    * 2.14 Media/culture
    * 2.15 People/ public figures/ infamous persons
    Damn! Who'd have thought Sports could be controversial? Uh oh. How quickly I forget! It was only a few days ago that I wrote another post speculating about Michael Vick's psychopathology -- and I do not doubt that many people -- whether inside or outside of the TSA -- would consider it controversial.

    Time does not permit a detailed examination of even an overview of the innumerable controversial issues. Nor does my sanity. But I'll zero in on one example, selected dartboard style from among the twenty two controversial sub-topics in the Linguistics category .

    The notoriously hot-button Sapir-Whorf hypothesis:

    The linguistic relativity principle, or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis[1] is the idea that differences in the way languages encode cultural and cognitive categories affect the way people think, so that speakers of different languages think and behave differently because of it. A strong version of the hypothesis holds that language determines thought that linguistic categories limits and determines cognitive categories. A weaker version states that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behaviour.

    The idea was first clearly expressed by 19th century national romantic thinkers, such as Wilhelm von Humboldt who saw language as the expression of the spirit of a nation. The early 20th century school of American Anthropology headed by Franz Boas and Edward Sapir also embraced the idea. Sapir's student Benjamin Lee Whorf came to be seen as the primary proponent of the hypothesis, because he published observations of how he perceived linguistic differences to have consequences in human cognition and behaviour. Whorf's ideas were widely criticised, and Roger Brown and Eric Lenneberg decided to put them to the test. They reformulated Whorf's principle of linguistic relativity as a testable hypothesis, now called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and conducted experiments designed to find out whether color perception varies between speakers of languages that classified colors differently. As the study of the universal nature of human language and cognition came in to focus in the 1960s the idea of linguistic relativity fell out of favor. A 1969 study by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay showed that color terminology is subject to universal semantic constraints, and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was seen as completely discredited.

    Thanks to the hard work over many years by Noam Chomsky and company, we (at least those of us who really care about linguistics) have been saved from the backward Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which has now become a subject of ridicule:
    ... the Universalist theory of language [] was finally formulated by Noam Chomsky in the form of Universal Grammar, effectively arguing that all languages share the same underlying structure. The Chomskyan school also holds the belief that linguistic structures are largely innate and that what are perceived as differences between specific languages - the knowledge acquired by learning a language - are merely surface phenomena and do not affect cognitive processes that are universal to all human beings. This theory became the dominant paradigm in American linguistics from the 1960s through the 1980s and the notion of linguistic relativity fell out of favor and became even the object of ridicule.[20]
    So, what does that mean if I'm standing in a long TSA screening line at an airport and I wish to avoid controversy?

    Which of the following should I do?

  • A. Ridicule the traditional Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in favor of the modern Chomskyist view?
  • B. Attempt to defend a time-honored and "traditional" hypothesis despite my limited knowledge of whatever science might be behind it? Or
  • C. Scrupulously avoid any mention of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?
  • Some might say that the best answer is C. Hear no opinion, see no opinion, speak no opinion.

    I'd hate to think that's become the American way. Having no opinions on controversial issues may be orderly, but it is dull and colorless, and disses the First Amendment.

    But I worry that in practice, the nearly infinite nature of possible opinions on innumerable subjects might mean that implementing the directive against controversial opinions will lead not to the prohibition of opinions on controversial subjects, but simply to the prohibition of opinions which disagree with the positions taken by the government bureaucracy or dominant academicians. Whoever is in charge will have the right to issue restrictions on speech and "controversial opinion" will simply be defined as any opinion which disagrees with that of the government, its leaders, or whatever they decide.

    Take Global Warming, for example. The government's position is much like that of Al Gore -- the debate is over and we need to get to work. While the government (and the TSA) might not come right out and compare those who disagree to Nazis (a comparison which Frank J. Fleming did a great job of tearing to shreds recently, BTW), such a topic is a perfect example of what is often called the dominant paradigm. Government being the way it is, those who get to decide what is controversial are inevitably charged with stifling all views that dissent from the dominant view (their view) by declaring them "controversial."

    A controversial opinion is any opinion which disagrees with our opinion!

    So, AGW is not controversial, because we have all agreed on a GREEN policy. To question it is controversial.

    Here in Ann Arbor, being a Republican or a conservative is controversial, while being a Democrat or a liberal is not controversial. See how it works?

    In a post about the hotness gap (of which I am sure the TSA would disapprove) Stuart Schneiderman explains further:

    Feminism and radical leftism has always tried to deal with dissent by making the dissenters into outcasts and pariahs. If you disagree with the basic dogmas of feminist ideology you will, in many communities, be shunned from polite society.

    There are many places in this country where men hesitate to admit that they are Republicans because they will not just lose friends, but they will lose dating opportunities. Many women openly brag that they will not date Republicans; often they will not even talk with them.

    Say something nice about Sarah Palin in many communities and you will immediately be labeled as deranged. I do not even want to think about what it is going to do to your sex life.

    (Via Dr. Helen.)

    That reminds me of the time I met a woman who worked as a producer for NPR radio who couldn't have been nicer until I mentioned in passing that as a libertarian I was not only an ACLU member, but an NRA member. End. Of. Conversation.

    Interestingly, I have to say that the same woman might be more open-minded today, because the left has realized that shaming people on the gun issue was an abject failure:

    The massive campaign by gun control groups -- and their media allies, who were legion -- to "denormalize" gun ownership, and present it as something dangerous, deviant and subject to regulation at the whims of the government, has failed, with the Supreme Court explicitly saying that gun ownership by private citizens is a fundamental part of our system of liberty.

    So in little more than 15 years, we've seen an amazing turnaround on an issue where the "establishment" side had broad support from politicians (in both parties, really) and almost universal support from the media. Gun control now is nearly dead as an issue, and the "establishment" view that the Second Amendment didn't protect any sort of individual right, but merely a right of states to have national guards, did not get the support of a single Supreme Court justice.

    In practice, what this means is not so much that I would be agreed with, but that I might not be as likely to encounter the same sort of kneejerk shunning as I did.

    This may only be a temporary tactic, though, as I have seen gun-shunners in action since I was a kid.

    Now, if I wanted to assign blame for the dominant paradigm of favoring all things left while shunning all things right, it would be very easy to point to Herbert Marcuse's obnoxious doctrine of repressive tolerance. It's a long essay, but a few excerpts will provide the gist of it:

    ...certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude.
    Marcuse saw traditional liberal tolerance of all ideas as unacceptable, because he perceived correctly that as a practical matter when ordinary Americans were given the option to freely choose, conservatism tended to win out. So he proposed the liberation of tolerance (which meant intolerance of the right):
    Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: ... it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word. The traditional criterion of clear and present danger seems no longer adequate to a stage where the whole society is in the situation of the theater audience when somebody cries: 'fire'. It is a situation in which the total catastrophe could be triggered off any moment, not only by a technical error, but also by a rational miscalculation of risks, or by a rash speech of one of the leaders. In past and different circumstances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the massacre. The distance between the propaganda and the action, between the organization and its release on the people had become too short. But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War.
    Naturally, he saw the America of the mid-1960s as fascist-like and warlike, which meant the society was in extreme danger, justifying extreme suppression of free speech and assembly:
    The whole post-fascist period is one of clear and present danger. Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs. Different opinions and 'philosophies' can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: the 'marketplace of ideas' is organized and delimited by those who determine the national and the individual interest. In this society, for which the ideologists have proclaimed the 'end of ideology', the false consciousness has become the general consciousness--from the government down to its last objects. The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don't have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.
    What he proposed was called "Repressive Tolerance" -- and the features are familiar to most American students who have attended your typical repressively intolerant college campus:
    Given this situation, I suggested in 'Repressive Tolerance' the practice of discriminating tolerance in an inverse direction, as a means of shifting the balance between Right and Left by restraining the liberty of the Right, thus counteracting the pervasive inequality of freedom (unequal opportunity of access to the means of democratic persuasion) and strengthening the oppressed against the oppressed. Tolerance would be restricted with respect to movements of a demonstrably aggressive or destructive character (destructive of the prospects for peace, justice, and freedom for all). Such discrimination would also be applied to movements opposing the extension of social legislation to the poor, weak, disabled. As against the virulent denunciations that such a policy would do away with the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for 'the other side', I maintain that there are issues where either there is no 'other side' in any more than a formalistic sense, or where 'the other side' is demonstrably 'regressive' and impedes possible improvement of the human condition. To tolerate propaganda for inhumanity vitiates the goals not only of liberalism but of every progressive political philosophy.
    I see nothing especially original there. Hardly a grand conspiracy theory. It's just an articulate old Commie explaining why his then-controversial opinions should become dominant, and yours should become controversial, and should be repressed. He knew that there was no real, legal power to repress tolerance, but he wished and hoped that over time that would change:
    While the reversal of the trend in the educational enterprise at least could conceivably be enforced by the students and teachers themselves, and thus be self-imposed, the systematic withdrawal of tolerance toward regressive and repressive opinions and movements could only be envisaged as results of large-scale pressure which would amount to an upheaval. In other words, it would presuppose that which is still to be accomplished: the reversal of the trend. However, resistance at particular occasions, boycott, non-participation at the local and small-group level may perhaps prepare the ground....
    Are people that easily led? I hope not. Because, I regard such followers with a special contempt exceeded only by the contempt in which I hold those who seek to lead them. Ugh.

    Hey what happened? I thought this was about the TSA. I don't know why their newly announced policy against "controversial opinions" should remind me of Herbert Marcuse's repressive tolerance, but it does.

    I must be getting paranoid.

    I mean, it's not as if Marcuse is in charge of the TSA. The man is dead. His ideas were palpably wrong, and so are those who think like him. It's not as if he invented intolerance of dissent.

    Besides, according to his own doctrines, we -- the currently oppressed minorities Marcuse called "the Damned of the Earth" -- now have just as much right to repress those in power today as his minions did back in 1965. Again:

    ...the false consciousness has become the general consciousness--from the government down to its last objects. The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don't have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.
    Except that I'm still a liberal of the classical variety, so I don't believe in repressing anyone's free speech rights -- not even the new masters. Repression does not justify counter-repression. Cycles of repressive tolerance are best avoided.

    I only hope the TSA is not trying to start a new trend.

    UPDATE: The TSA seems to be backing down after criticism.

    After an uproar from conservative bloggers and free-speech activists, the Transportation Security Administration late Tuesday rescinded a new policy that would have prevented employees from accessing websites with "controversial opinions" on TSA computers at work.

    The ban on "controversial opinion" sites, issued late last week, was included as part of a more general TSA Internet-usage policy blocking employee access to gambling and chat sites, as well as sites that dealt with extreme violence or criminal activity.

    But the policy itself became controversial as the Drudge Report and a number of conservative bloggers highlighted the possibility that the policy could be used to censor websites critical of the agency or of the Obama administration in general. The American Civil Liberties Union also questioned the language.

    posted by Eric at 12:37 PM | Comments (7)

    Bikini Edition - Obama Version
    Bikini Edition - Obama Version.jpg

    If you were looking for my regular bikini edition go here.

    I have pretty much refrained from blaming Obama for the mess in the gulf. But his ineptness and failure to waive the Jones act as Bush did for Katrina pretty much hangs this bird

    oil bird.jpg

    around Obama's neck. Especially when you consider that bioremediation technology is available:

    The company is SpillFighters.com. And they have a few words to say on the subject:

    ...there is one simple and natural solution. "Oil Eating Microbes".

    Microbes occur in nature (in fact humans have over a pound of microbes in their bodies) and each type of microbe is programmed to do certain tasks. Some decompose plant matter, others help break down toxins. In the last 20 years scientists have been able to find and 'harvest' these naturally occurring oil-eating microbes from around the world and increase their reproduction cycle so that trillions are now available to help us!

    These microbes are commercially available and have been tested successful on large oil spills around the world. These microbes can be supplied immediately in large enough quantities to 'bioremediate' the oil that is now washing up on the beaches and in the marshes of the Gulf Coast. The microbes are simply mixed with water and sprayed on the oil as it reaches the calmer waters near shore or on shore itself. Once applied to the oil, the microbes eat it--leaving a natural waste product that is harmless to marine life. Their waste is non-toxic and can actually be beneficial to the plants and sea creatures that feed on it.

    The process to completely clean an area of oil is dependent on a few things--but it can usually be accomplished in just a few weeks -- not years. If we can adopt this solution immediately, we have a chance to save the Gulf--if we wait, we'll just be cleaning up corpses of our precious wildlife and bailing out millions of individuals and businesses again.

    You can reach the head of Spill Fighters at:

    J. Brent Tuttle

    And it wouldn't hurt to contact your Congress Critter with this information. And you might wish to add in the President. Just in case.

    House of Representatives

    The Senate

    The President

    H/T Atlas Shrugs and Hot Air photos and Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

    A double standard for superstitious crackpottery?

    I realize that this is an old issue, but still, I have a lingering question.

    By what standard are Pat Robertson's pronouncements (that the Haitian earthquake was God's punishment for Haitian voodoo) ridiculous, while sanctimonious scoldings by environmentalists are seen as valued insights into the human condition?

    Seriously, check these ravings out:

    ...The British tabloid the Daily Mail, which has published dramatic photos of the volcanic eruption and invited readers to behold "the terrifying cauldron of lava and lightning that has brought chaos to our airports," celebrated the fact that even a relatively "modest rumbling" in the underworld is "enough to throw a gigantic spanner into the works of modern life." The volcano "reminds us that nature is the boss," said one Scottish writer, and also shows how deluded mankind must be to believe he is "sophisticated and clever enough to master nature."

    A Guardian writer thinks the volcanic ash has unwittingly provided humanity with a real-world vision of the low-carbon, flight-free, clear-sky future that we must allegedly move towards. "Greens should celebrate this timely reminder of what the world might look like when the oil runs out," he said. Radio and TV shows have featured endless interviews with people saying how delighted they are to be able to look into the sky without seeing or hearing a plane. An economics correspondent for the BBC also says the volcano has given us a "glimpse of a post-carbon morning."

    (Via Glenn Reynolds, who calls it "GAIA'S REVENGE.")

    I can't help notice that the same elements are present in the environmentalists' scoldings that have irritated me for years about the radical fundamentalists' scoldings:

    Things are beyond our control.

    Time is running out.

    Unless and until we repent of our evil ways, we will be punished.

    Now, I am not so arrogant as to discount entirely the possibility that either (or even both) of the "'mentalists" who make these pronouncements may be right. However it strikes me both Pat Robertson and the environmentalists are being superstitious.

    And while I know it may sound intolerant to call Pat Robertson superstitious, I'm sorry, but that's precisely what I think he is. A superstitious crackpot.

    However, that hardly ends the comparison between his kind of superstition and the environmentalist variety. There is something about superstitious beliefs of Pat Robertson and company that, bad as they are, I find more tolerable.

    Sorry, but I find superstition in the name of religion easier on my nerves than superstition in the name of science.

    posted by Eric at 11:37 PM | Comments (4)

    Tragedy prevention theory

    The Detroit Free Press has an article today about a homeowner in the Detroit suburb of Inkster who fatally shot one of two thugs who invaded his home in the wee hours of the morning:

    An Inkster homeowner fatally shot a man who had broken into his house early this morning, according to police.

    Two intruders, one of them armed, confronted the 25-year-old when he got out of bed around 1:20 a.m. and he started fighting with them, Inkster Detective Anthony Delgreco said.

    The homeowner then grabbed his legally registered gun and fired.

    A 32-year-old Detroit man was killed, but his alleged accomplice fled, Delgreco said. The homeowner was cut over his eye.

    According to investigators, nothing is missing from the home on the 29000 block of Parkwood.

    I'm glad the man had the wherewithal to defend himself after being awakened and slugged at 1:20 in the morning, and I'm glad he deterred the home invader. By killing him, he deterred more than whatever crimes the invader planned to commit in his own house. He also deterred all of the many crimes that this man would have committed in the future. That sort of permanent deterrence is something the state cannot legally do unless a criminal commits murder, but it is a helpful consequence of citizen self-defense.

    To be fair, I guess some would consider the killing of the invader a tragedy. Because, just as he will never be able to invade houses again, neither will it ever be possible for him to theoretically turn his life around and become a productive member of society -- possibly even someone who would end up helping the world. In balance, though, I think that the dire harm the homeowner prevented outweighs any theoretical good that might possibly have come from a burglar who might have decided to turn over a new leaf.

    So, even agreeing that it would by definition be tragic to kill a burglar who might have mended his ways, I can accept risking such a theoretical tragedy.

    posted by Eric at 09:49 PM | Comments (4)

    Too Important Not To Link

    Glenn Reynolds has an enormously potent piece up on the Second Amendment and how activism overturned the conventional wisdom, with lessons for the Tea Party movement at a time when the expansion of government seems not just inexorable and deeply entrenched in our political culture, but at times a sort of immutable natural law.

    posted by Dave at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

    Alpha deconstructs Cinderella!

    The Philadelphia Inquirer has a news story of the sort I've seen many times. So many times that it might as well be generic. A small child was killed by his mother's boyfriend:

    A 21-year-old Nicetown man, who police said fatally struck a toddler he had been disciplining, was formally charged Sunday with murder.

    Malik Powell, of the 3800 block of North 18th Street in Philadelphia, was charged with killing his girlfriend's son, 20-month-old Rashaan Anderson, Friday afternoon.

    They said he fell, of course. But later came an admission of sorts:
    Police initially were told the child had fallen out of bed. But they said Powell admitted that while showering the child, he struck the boy in the chest for misbehaving, causing the toddler to fall into the tub.

    The child was pronounced dead about 5 p.m. Friday at Temple University Hospital. The Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a homicide, caused by blunt-force impact to the torso.

    It takes a lot of blunt-force impact to the torso kill a child. And what I would like to ask the mom's boyfriend is precisely what is it that could possibly constitute "misbehavior" by a 20 month old boy when he is being given a shower by a man who is not his father (and not only has no reason to love and nurture him, but probably resents the hell out of his mere presence)?

    Might the baby have cried?

    According to studies, crying is precisely what has triggered many a so-called "alpha male" to murder the child of what I guess should be called a "rival."

    No matter how good our protective or preventive measures, there will always be parents who will harm or even kill their children. Whether the killer is their biological father or their stepfather may not seem that relevant when it comes to informing preventive policies, but research suggests otherwise.

    In 1988, US data showed that children aged up to two are at about 100 times greater risk of being killed by their stepfather than their biological father. Psychologists call this the Cinderella effect. The research went on to look at British data, concluding that it indicated "considerable excess risk at the hands of stepfathers".

    The Cinderella Effect? Why would they call it that? It's been some time since I've read the tale, but I think most people know that Cinderella was persecuted (not murdered) by a wicked stepmother who favored her own daughters, and not by a stepfather. The monstrous phenomenon of "alpha males" killing a child of a live-in girlfriend, while the subject of much online discussion, can hardly be called comparable to the story of Cinderella, and I think the use of that term only trivializes it.

    I also wonder why they're conflating the term "stepfather" to include men who haven't the slightest intention of marrying their live-ins with those who have made such a commitment. But what do I know? Besides, I haven't got a Ph.D. in social science, so I doubt those who are in charge of these things would pay attention to me. They're too busy writing public policy designed to conflate law-abiding tax-payers and the criminal subculture. That way, they can say "we are all at risk!", put stacks of preachy pamphlets in every bathroom, and regard all parents as suspects.

    With the rates of remarriage, divorce and cohabitation steadily increasing, giving rise to more stepfamilies, this is a disturbing thought. According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2006 84% of stepfamilies consisted of a stepfather and biological mother living with children from her previous relationship.

    Research suggests that whereas genetic fathers often kill their children "more in sorrow than in anger", out of perceived necessity and/or as part of a suicide, homicides committed by stepfathers tend to be more rage driven, impulsive acts motivated by hostility towards the child and characterised by violently beating or shaking them.

    Despite this evidence, some researchers believe that minimal attention has been given to stepfathers - or mothers' boyfriends - as the perpetrators of these crimes and the reasons behind them.

    David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center in the US, says: "Sociobiologists point out that these are men who have no genetic stake in this child and see them as competition for attention and time, and their own offspring. Among other primates it's not unknown for a new alpha male to kill the children of the dominant male when he comes into a group."

    Other primates, huh? Is that what being an alpha male is all about? Tell me more, Dr. Finkelhor! I'm intrigued. Obviously, I am not an alpha male, because I cannot imagine circumstances which would possess me to kill a woman's child. I'm assuming that these boyfriends ("stepfather" strikes me as an inaccurate term) must love the women they move in with, right? And if you love someone, even if that love did not necessarily flow to loving that person's child, wouldn't you at least possess a sufficient modicum of good will to refrain from murdering the child? What am I not getting about "alpha male" here? Does the term simply mean the antithesis of "civilized"? According to some definitions, yes.

    In any event, being nurturing is not one of them.

    But Finkelhor believes the reasons are simpler than that. "That has some reality to it, but I think it operates through more familiar psychological mechanisms; that these aren't men who feel a natural affinity or protectiveness about the children of the women they are involved with. These are not men who are nurturing."

    This squares with the fact that a child's inconsolable crying is one of the main triggers for these homicides.

    I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the expression "alpha male" in the context of child murderers. I've read a lot of rot about alpha males, and there are some very popular blogs I will not name written by self-styled alpha male leaders. Bombastic as I think they often are, I doubt very much they would countenance (much less advocate) murdering a girlfriend's children. But what do I know? I don't even know the exact meaning of the term, much less whether it is a good or a bad thing to imagine being.

    MSN Encarta seems to know (and it's headed ultimately by Bill Gates, who is obviously the Alpha Male's Alpha Male, right?)

    1. dominant male animal: a male in a pack of wolves, or a similar pack or troop of animals, that other members submit to and follow and that takes priority in mating with females

    2. dominant man: a man who controls the activities of a group and to whom others defer ( informal )

    I knew a guy who was a total asshole who managed to control nearly everyone around him simply because they never knew what to do or where to go in social situations and he would always be the first to loudly declare where everyone should go and what they should do. Now, no one had to follow this guy, who was rude and obnoxious. But I noticed that the people who did were not so much following him as they were making their lives easier by jointly deciding to let him decide. Otherwise, the group would have wasted huge amounts of time aimlessly wandering around debating. And whether they had a good time or not, it wasn't their fault; it was Mr. Alpha's! I thought he was being used by the group he "led" whether he knew it or not. (Personally, I would have hated being in his position.) Interestingly enough, there were a number of men who had no time for him or for the group and just avoided him entirely. I guess you could call them "anti-social," but they didn't want to be led as part of the group, nor did they want to lead the group. I like such people, but I guess they're not alphas, because it seems to be expected of an alpha that he be in a group, otherwise how could he lead it?

    However, the issue at hand is the alpha male as a child killer, and I am almost certain that the alpha male asshole I knew would never murder a child -- neither his nor anyone else's.

    You think defining alphahood is bad, try getting reliable statistics about child murders. For starters, the vast majority of murdered children are in their late teens (which means not children to me), but don't try looking for statistics about "infanticide," because that term is generally limited to mothers killing children, and newborn children at that. Which means that when you see statistics appearing to show that mothers kill their babies at a higher rate than stepfathers or live-ins, they are skewed by the fact that vast majority of babies murdered by their mothers don't make it past their first year, with being simply snuffed out at birth:

    In the United States, you are 10 times more likely to die by homicide -- to be murdered -- on the day you are born than at any other time during your life, according to a study just released by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC).

    Even if you make through your first day, you still risk a better chance of being murdered during your first year of life than in any other year of childhood before you turn 17, according to the CDC.

    Interesting use of the word "you," isn't it? I can't remember whether they told me when I was born that I was more likely to be murdered on that day than at any other day of my life.

    Trying to narrow it down to children killed by live-in alpha male non-parents is a tall order. According to a pair of Canadian authors who have repeatedly studied the matter, American statistics gatherers fail to differentiate between parents and stepparents:

    Although stepparents in some societies are related to the children, Daly and Wilson reasoned that stepparents are not generally kin to their stepchildren, at least not in most Western societies. Therefore, we might expect that they would show no predilection to sacrifice themselves (in large or even small ways) on a stepchild's behalf. They sought to find out if this hypothesis, based on Hamilton's extension of Darwin's ideas, was true.

    Wilson says, "We were astonished to find that it was not easy even to begin to explore this hypothesis. Official statistics from the United States didn't reveal whether parents who abused children were step or biological. It just didn't occur to criminologists that the nature of the relationship was important, so they generally didn't bother to record it." She and Daly had to took beyond the official statistics, to the raw data of case histories. By 1980 they had demonstrated that children under three years of age are at least seven times more likely to be abused by stepparents than by biological parents.

    Daly and Wilson believed, however, that statistics for child abuse in general might be biased by underreporting or incomplete reporting. After all, parents don't want to admit that they have beaten their children; there are plenty of ways to conceal abuse or to explain away injuries. To gain a truer picture, the researchers decided to focus specifically on a form of abuse that is exceedingly difficult to cover up: homicide. Once again -- even more astonishingly -- most official statistics, including the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports, the U.S. national archive, did not differentiate between killings by stepparents or by biological parents. But Statistics Canada from 1974 to 1990 did contain relevant data.

    Its figures showed that children under the age of two were at least one hundred times more likely to be killed by stepparents -- particularly stepfathers -- than by biological parents. "Of course," Daly stresses, "most stepparents take to the task extremely well, and generally make loving substitute parents. The incidence of abuse is low." Nonetheless, for stepparents the homicide rate comes out at about 600 per million parent-child groups living together, compared with just a handful for biological parents. Further examination of records in the United States and Britain revealed an increased risk for children with stepparents.

    That sounds like an easy accusation for Canadians to level at Americans, but if the government language here is any indication, the concern appears well-founded. From a report titled "Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities: Statistics and Interventions"
    Research indicates that very young children (ages 3 and younger) are the most frequent victims of child fatalities. NCANDS data for 2007 demonstrated that children younger than 1 year accounted for 42.2 percent of fatalities, while children younger than 4 years accounted for more than three-quarters (75.7 percent) of fatalities. These children are the most vulnerable for many reasons, including their dependency, small size, and inability to defend themselves.


    No matter how the fatal abuse occurs, one fact of great concern is that the perpetrators are, by definition, individuals responsible for the care and supervision of their victims. In 2007, one or both parents were responsible for 69.9 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. More than one-quarter (27.1 percent) of these fatalities were perpetrated by the mother acting alone. Child fatalities with unknown perpetrators accounted for 16.4 percent of the total.

    There is no single profile of a perpetrator of fatal child abuse, although certain characteristics reappear in many studies. Frequently, the perpetrator is a young adult in his or her mid-20s, without a high school diploma, living at or below the poverty level, depressed, and who may have difficulty coping with stressful situations. In many instances, the perpetrator has experienced violence firsthand. Most fatalities from physical abuse are caused by fathers and other male caregivers. Mothers are most often held responsible for deaths resulting from child neglect (U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1995).

    Note the phrase "fathers and other male caregivers." The government statisticians are not only lumping stepfathers in with live-in boyfriends, they're lumping them in with real fathers.

    Next they'll be saying that babies are being killed by the "macho male culture." (Yes, even though most babies are killed by their mothers, macho male culture puts us all at risk!)

    What worries me is the conflation that's going on. A psychopathic subset of predatory criminals who do unthinkable things to children are called "alpha males" and the government refers to them as "individuals responsible for the care and supervision of their victims" and lumps them in with actual fathers
    and real stepfathers who have married the mothers, and broadly worded calls for "intervention" are issued by the experts.

    And now I am at the end of a post I started because I was confused, and I find myself more confused than I was when I started. I'll never understand the stuff these experts spout. The more they try to explain, the more confused I get.

    It wouldn't be so bad if I could just ignore them. But for whatever reason, they have enormous control over policy (which is then implemented by social workers who have the power to intervene).

    I never cease to marvel over how a group of people get do all of these things without ever being elected to anything. (Talk about alphas!)

    Being ruled by the social science people is worse than taxation without representation.

    posted by Eric at 01:23 PM | Comments (3)

    Happy 4th! Go pursue happiness!

    What do you do when it's the Fourth of July and you have a blog but don't have anything to say?

    Say "HAPPY 4TH!" I guess.

    And supply some completely useless but entertaining trivia, in the form of fun facts I want to be true!

    Did you know that....

    The Taft's owned the last presidential cow and the first White House automobile.
    Truman's mother, a Confederate sympathizer, refused to sleep in Lincoln's bed during a White House visit.
    Betcha didn't know! I found those facts so entertaining that contrary to my usual practice I won't even bother to verify them.

    Imagine. Linking unverified facts just because I want them to be true! On the Fourth of July, no less! (I really must be slipping....)

    And in the interest of today's festivities, here's Coco's favorite patriotic pit bull poster:


    MORE: Via a helpful email, a perfect 4th of July video -- John Stossel's What's Great About America.

    Worth watching in its entirety.

    People on the left ought to think twice about what their policies will ultimately destroy, before it's too late.

    posted by Eric at 12:02 PM | Comments (3)

    The Reason I Come And I Go Is The Same

    posted by Simon at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

    July 4th Bikini Edition 2010 Is Up

    For those of you who take an interest in that sort of thing, this year's July 4th Bikini Edition is up. Not only do we have the latest Tactical Girls but we also have women shooting machine guns - visuals with sound. Plus the usual bevy of semi naked patriots. Men and women. And some patriotic music.

    Have an exciting 4th. And let me hope your excitement brings happiness.

    posted by Simon at 09:02 PM | Comments (1)

    Guns don't kill people, but ideas do?

    A lingering question which arises from yesterday's post about Cultural Marxism is this one:

    Are ideas by one person responsible for behavior of others?

    Let's start with, Who is responsible for an idea?

    Normally, credit goes to whoever has a new or original idea, regardless of the idea's rightness or wrongness. If some engineer were to come up with a proposed solution to the Louisiana oil spill, it would be his whether it worked or not. Credit for a good idea, blame for a bad idea. Of course, in the normal scope of things, those who decided to and did implement the idea would be held immediately responsible. And accountable. That's easy to do when there is a hierarchical chain of command, such as in a corporate setting. With government, it becomes much fuzzier because of the political dimension.

    Then there are academic ideas, sometimes taking the form of scientific claims. Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is packaged as scientific fact, even though it is opinion. Those who endorse it are often loud, almost evangelical proponents who liken those who dispute them to Holocaust Deniers.

    AGW is not a bad illustration of responsibility. The proponents claim that the opponents should be held responsible for vast environmental catastrophes and untold misery, and the opponents claim that the AGW people will be responsible for the destruction of the economy.

    But again, are the ideas of these people responsible? Or are they themselves responsible for their actions? This is an important distinction, because if we blame an idea (at least, in the way the Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School are being blamed for many ills of modern society), that switches the focus to the originators of the idea and tends to absolve the later followers. I have long had a problem with that, because it means that Hitler was more responsible for the Holocaust than those who did the killing, even though Germans were at one time perfectly free to ignore or laugh away the crackpot ideas of a failed young artist who became a psychopathic beer hall orator. This is not to say that Hitler was not responsible for the implementation of his ideas, for he was not only the guy with the ideas, he was also the guy who implemented them directly -- by being Der Fuhrer.

    Karl Marx is another matter. Wrong as he was, his ideas contemplated the German workers leading a revolution which would represent the next step in human evolution. The idea of ragged country people banding together and murdering urban people en masse (as happened with the Khmer Rouge) can hardly be squared with Marxism, yet the Khmer Rouge called themselves Marxists, and many would argue that Marx's theories "caused" Cambodian genocide. I doubt Marx would agree if he could be awakened from the dead and asked. People say that "ideas have consequences" but how far does it go?

    For years it has annoyed me how people will blame Timothy Leary for the fact that young people took LSD.

    Wow. It's getting to the point where almost anything you can think of can be found online. I just remembered an interview of Leary on the Wally George Show in which Leary was called on the carpet, and blamed for the ruined lives of millions, and here it is.

    (Highly entertaining, and it illustrates what a charming ham of a person Leary was.)

    Might as well blame William S. Burroughs for young people using heroin. True, he never coined a slogan like "Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out." But suppose in a fit of advocacy I coined the slogan "RELEGALIZE DRUGS." I did think of it years ago, and while I have no idea whether I was the first, suppose I had the requisite Ph. D. in the right areas and was given credit for it. Would I be responsible if drugs were eventually relegalized? Would I be to blame for all who died of drug overdoses? I don't see how. I can't control people, and I am not responsible for what others do with my ideas. Besides, relegalizing drugs was not my idea, but a copycat idea. Legal drugs has already been tried, in an unwitting "social experiment" which took place from 1776-1914, and which failed utterly to destroy the country or the culture. Even the use of drugs by American presidents raised few if any eyebrows.

    So in the absence of compulsion (which is not an idea but an action upon the idea), I have a serious problem seeing the ideas of one person as being responsible for the actions of other people. It makes about as much sense as blaming a distillery for the actions of a drunk driver. Or Nagai Nagayoshi for the actions of speed addicts or meth lab operators. This may all sound childishly simple, but the fact is that we live in a society which blames guns for the conduct of people, and even entire breeds of dogs for incidents which result from the conduct of irresponsible dog owners.

    Suppose further that an idea is not especially original, but reflects a crass political attempt to repackage other ideas in the hope of manipulating people, as in the case of what they call "Cultural Marxism." Promote sex, drugs, and rock and roll in the hope of destroying America! The Frankfurt School had a lot of truly obnoxious (and far more dangerous) ideas, like the dissemination of the doctrine that there is no truth, or the idea of "repressive tolerance." But did these ideas really do damage? Or did the people who believed in them do damage and use them as justification? I don't think the problem lies with bad ideas so much as the fact that bad people like bad ideas and use them to do bad things. People gravitate towards what they like; good people tend towards good ideas, and bad people tend towards bad ideas. Not only that, but bad people can use good ideas for bad purposes. The notoriously anti-American Communist Party was really big on racial integration. Eventually, racial integration became a reality. Does that mean the Communist Party should be credited for it? I don't see why.

    Whether an idea is good or bad, I think that the greatest single factor which determines how far it will go is how popular it is. Ideas resonate with people who like them. The popularity of an idea says more about the people who made it popular than the originator.

    DISCLAIMER: This post was not my idea. M. Simon made me do it.

    MORE (07/04/10): Speaking of Cultural Marxism, Ann Althouse has a highly illuminating video showing how Marx's nonsense led to runaway nihilism on a college campus in the 1930s.

    Consider yourselves warned -- especially those who are easily offended!

    UPDATE: I blame Glenn Reynolds for linking a post which was not my idea! (As I said, M. Simon made me do it.)

    Many thanks to Glenn for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

    Comments appreciated, agree or disagree.

    posted by Eric at 03:06 PM | Comments (24)

    Politically Incorrect

    Overheard on the 'net:

    Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism

    I note that Eric has a post up on Political Correctness. Generally I try to avoid reading the blog until I do a post so I do not feel constrained by anyone's recent posts. So you can count this post as serendip. BTW ancient people had Political Correctness too. They called it Taboo. Evidently moderns have trouble with the spelling.

    Cross Posted in part at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:52 AM | Comments (2)

    Psychopathy in the newz

    Rarely have I been so disgusted as I was when the Philadelphia Eagles hired the dog torturing psychopath Michael Vick. I had a feeling that regardless of whether he ever harmed dogs again, the man would be nothing but trouble, and guess what?

    It's looking like the guy who once ran "Bad Newz" kennel continues to be the subject of BAD NEWZ!

    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. | The spokesman for the nightclub where Michael Vick held his birthday bash says the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback left in a car minutes before a shooting outside, contradicting Vick's attorney's timeline.

    Vick's attorney, Larry Woodward, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Vick left the establishment at least 10 minutes, and perhaps as many as 20 minutes, before the shooting.

    Allen Fabijan, spokesman for Guadalajara Mexican restaurant and nightclub, said Wednesday that time-stamped footage from a surveillance camera outside the entrance of the club shows a car with Vick inside leaving at 2:07 a.m. -- about 4 minutes before the shooting a block away.

    Woodward did not return calls from the AP on Wednesday.

    Fabijan said police have asked the club not to release the video to media but allowed the AP to view the grainy footage on Wednesday.

    Vick's face is not discernible; a man wearing white that Fabijan said is Vick appears moving toward a parked car at 2:04 a.m. A crowd quickly gathered, and Fabijan said Vick accommodated fans trying to get an autograph, to pose for a photo or to shake hands -- so much so that a club security guard tries to disperse the crowd.

    The waiting car pulls away at 2:07 a.m. in the direction of the eventual shooting. Numerous people are seen lingering in front of the club for several minutes until, at 2:10:55, they suddenly appear to duck for cover.

    Police spokesman Adam Bernstein, who said authorities have a copy of the video, said the first 911 call was received at 2:11.

    Fabijan said Vick was not involved in any altercations during the hour he was inside, or immediately outside, the restaurant/nightclub.

    Vick, accompanied by Woodward, was interviewed by police on Monday. Police say Vick is not a suspect and have not identified the shooting victim. Woodward, however, told the AP that it was Quanis Phillips, a co-defendant in Vick's dogfighting case.

    So the guy is the subject of a huge self-promotional event -- "Michael Vick's ALL WHITE 30th Birthday Bash" in which a shooting takes place, his spokesman lies about when he left, and the guy who was shot was one of his convicted fellow dog torturers! I don't know whether Vick will face charges this time, but the fact that his story changed and the fact that as a condition of his parole he is not supposed to associate with felons -- these things hardly convey the appearance of a man who has turned over a new leaf.

    For his part, Vick denies involvement in the shooting, but look at the way he put it:

    "On June 25, 2010 I attended a birthday party held in my honor at the Guadalajara's Restaurant in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After I left the event, I learned that a man was shot outside the restaurant," Vick said in the statement without naming Phillips.
    "A man?" Come on.

    If one of my longtime best buddies got shot, I would not refer to him simply as "a man."

    The victim wasn't just any man, but "Quanis Phillips, a high school teammate and co-defendant in Vick's infamous dog fighting case for which Vick served 21 months in federal prison." In other words, his close associate over a long period of time. And there's more to their relationship than being on the high school football and later being dog torturers:

    On October 10, 2004, Vick and other members of his party, including employee Quanis Phillips, were at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport on their way to board an AirTran flight. While they were passing through a security checkpoint, a security camera caught Phillips and Todd Harris picking up an expensive-appearing watch which belonged to Alvin Spencer, a security screener.[34] After watching the theft on a video tape, Spencer filed a police report. He claimed that Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, known as the Falcons' "fixer", interfered with the investigation.[33] Although Vick representatives declined to make him available for an Atlanta police inquiry, six days later Spencer got the watch back from them.[34]
    There's a lot more stuff about Vick at his Wiki page, and a clear pattern emerges. The man is nothing but trouble. Atlanta was smart to get rid of him, and Philadelphia was stupid to take him. Aside from the unspeakable things he did to the poor dogs that refused to fight, he has never been honest:
    ...both federal prosecutors and FBI agents reported that Vick was giving contradictory statements about how dogs were killed, what his role in the killings were, how many dogs were killed, and other details.[46] According to reporters who spoke to Hudson after the sentencing, Vick's pre-sentencing behavior, especially during an FBI polygraph administered in October 2007 which showed that Vick was being deceptive when asked direct questions about killing dogs, was a factor in selecting the length of the sentence.[46]
    As I explained here, what Vick did was worse than dogfighting alone, and he has never expressed any remorse for what he did. I don't much agree with PETA, but I did agree with their position that he displays clinical signs of being a psychopath.

    Speaking of psychopathic brains, via Dr. Helen I saw ShrinkWrapped's great piece on the subject. The good news is that they're learning more and more about how their brains differ from other people, but the bad news is that the lawyers are trying to use their brain differences as an excuse. If the determinists get their way, ShrinkWrapped warns that the consequences to freedom could be dire:

    If all behavior is not just psychically determined but structurally determined, then no one is responsible for anything. The BP executives could no more avoid taking short cuts in the Gulf and their Regulators could no more avoid neglecting their duties than poor "Brian" could avoid raping and killing that 10 year old child. That way lies nihilism. At the same time, while smart lawyers work out ways to free people like Brian from the consequences of their actions, they are also setting the table for a form of institutionalized neurologically based totalitarianism. Once we have dispensed with free will and responsibility, then those who have "incorrect" or "dangerous" brain structures can only be locked up or otherwise removed from the body politic. We do not know how to "fix" such brain structures (and such fixes are a long way off, perhaps an infinite distance off, considering the implications of complexity involved) and once we accept that no one can ever help doing what their brain "makes" them do, then the only way to protect a functioning society is to remove those whose brains are inimical to the demands of those who by virtue of their "correct" brain structures have no choice but to rule over the rest of us who are not so lucky.

    A society based on "Neurological Determinism" will truly be mindless.

    Yes it will. Which is why I think Michael Vick should not be excused for his actions, no matter what his diagnosis.

    However, I would never support removing people from society simply for having the wrong brain scans. As ShrinkWrapped doesn't think he needs to point out (but which I'm glad he did), not all people with the "wrong" brain scans become criminal psychopaths:

    I won't even bother pointing out that brain structure does not predict behavior in any individual case. There are people who have "psychopathic brain scans" who have never been involved in criminal behavior. There are a multitude of criminals who have "normal" brain scans. In reality, low IQ is highly correlated with criminality, though most people with low IQ's are not criminals. Of course, many of the same behavioral scientists who insist that Psychopathy is hard wired and therefor mitigates or excuses criminal behavior will also argue there is no such thing as a meaningful neurological substrate for IQ.
    I think it's just politically correct psychiatric cherry-picking. Not to digress, but it reminds me of the way some self-appointed "conservative" analysts like to scream about how homosexuality is chosen behavior which can be "cured," but that pedophilia is hopeless and incurable.

    In the criminal context, it does not whether someone could be said to be unable to choose to do or not do something. Besides, people can choose not to do anything -- even things that involve the most basic instincts like eating. It might be difficult, but it is not impossible; many an activist has deliberately starved himself to death in the name of a cause.

    So in that sense, whether Michael Vick is a "helpless" psychopath is irrelevant.

    He has been bad newz for a long time, and I don't think he will change.

    posted by Eric at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

    Your lifestyle stems from a Communist plot to destroy America!

    Political correctness sucks bigtime. My biggest objection to it is that the focus on the proper language and rectifying "power imbalances" and shit like that gets in the way of reasonable communication, especially if you're white, because anything you say can be interpreted as having a white privilege male power racist sexist subtext. And subtexts suck, even though I have a lot of fun with them.

    Yet reasonable people and people of good faith try to be polite, and they have always tried to be polite. Politeness existed long before political correctness was invented, and of course that supplies the foot in the door for petty tyrants who inject their leftist poison into dialogue.

    It's powerful poison, too.

    As we have seen recently in the case of the New Black Panther Party, political correctness can derail justice itself. Richard Fernandez compared the dismissal of the voter intimidation case to the under-reported DC acquittal of three politically-powerful gay men in the torture/murder of a man in their townhouse.

    ...though it is theoretically irrelevant, it is probably unfortunate that J. Christian Adams, the Justice Department lawyer who resigned over the mishandling of the New Black Panther case, is white. In our politically correct world, it would have been far better had he been black, because just as those who are seeking justice for Robert Wone are themselves gay, the case against voter intimidation would have been immeasurably strengthened if the complainants had been persons of color.

    The greatest damage that political correctness has inflicted on society is to make each of us forget that underneath the accidents of color, nationality and creed, that all of us are men. By dividing humanity into hyphenated buckets, each sequestered in its hate, the puppet masters have managed to set one against the other so thoroughly that the sharpers, wheeler-dealers and fixers can operate undisturbed. In a world where every one thinks of himself as white, black, gay, straight -- we have forgotten that the real distinction is between who holds power and who does not. Nothing else matters. The Black Panthers and the three men who are suspected of killing Robert Wone are not impotent underdogs. On the contrary, they wield far more power than we, in our normal lives, could ever dispose of. God grant we never meet them, for if we do, we meet them alone.

    He's absolutely right, This stuff is all about power. Group power.

    Why do you suppose the forces of political correctness are so in love with the word "empowerment"? The idea is to "empower" those they ultimately want to control, which is why the group empowerment is conditional in nature, with the power granted only to those members of the special hyphenated category who agree to adhere to the rules of identity politics. This invites those considered to be in the "oppressor" category to ape the identity politics meme and make counterclaims that they too are being oppressed and persecuted. (BTW, complicating the power issues in the Wone case is the ironic fact that the murder victim Robert Wone is an Asian American and was a close associate of the current Attorney General Eric Holder.... Had he been an unknown white man, I doubt we'd have heard of him at all.)

    However, much as I detest political correctness and love to ridicule it, I am not sure that the conspiracy theory approach is the way to go:

    The best way to combat political correctness is to expose it for what it really is-Cultural Marxism. Equally important in defeating this anti-Christian, anti-American worldview is to not comply with its mandates. Call homosexuality what it is-sin. Expose feminism for what it is-anti-family, anti-father. Expose tolerance as moral relativism and intolerance toward those who don't conform to their dictates of tolerance. Expose sensitivity training as an attempt to destroy freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Point out to your family and friends the consequences that cultural Marxism has had and is having on our faith, families, and freedoms.
    There's a lot of claptrap on the right about "Cultural-Marxism," and while I have discussed it in several posts, it has undeniable appeal -- especially to those who think the best defense is a good offense.* The problem is that it lends itself to name-calling, and boils down to telling people that their lifestyles -- meaning the way they live and the things they like -- are basically all part of and stem from a decades-old Communist Plot.
    The primary goal of the Frankfurt School was to translate Marxism from economic terms into cultural terms. It would provide the ideas on which to base a new political theory of revoltuion based on culture, harnessing new oppressed groups for the faithless proletariat. Smashing religion, morals, It would also build a constituency among academics, who could build careers studying and writing about the new oppression.

    Toward this end, Marcuse-who favored polymorphous perversion-expanded the ranks of Gramsci's new proletariat by including homosexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals. Into this was spliced Lukacs radical sex education and cultural terrorism tactics. Gramsci's 'long march' was added to the mix, and then all of this was wedded to Freudian psychoanalysis and psychological conditioning techniques. The end product was Cultural Marxism, now known in the West as multiculturalism.

    Americans who like pot, porn, or unapproved sex are all victim of the sinister manipulations of Gramsci, Adorno, Marcuse, and Alinsky. Plus the evil, Darwin-inspired Alfred Kinsey, the sinister John Dewey (whose ideas about education have been responsible for every incompetent teacher since) and of course the ultimate precursor to Cultural Marxism -- the Satanic Charles Darwin himself!
    The linchpin of Cultural Marxism is cultural determinism, the parent of identity politics and group solidarity. In its turn, cultural determinism was birthed by the Darwinian idea that man is but a soulless animal and therefore his identity is determined by for example, his skin color or his sexual and/or erotic preferences. This proposition rejects the concepts of the human spirit, individuality, free will, and morally informed conscience (paired with personal accountability and responsibility) because it emphatically denies the existence of the God of the Bible.
    Everything that has followed these evil men is their creation, and we are all their victims. Never mind that homosexuality has been practiced since at least the Greeks, and pornography pre-dates Alfred Kinsey.

    And never mind that sex, drugs, rock and roll are as American as apple pie and helped bring down the Soviet Union. The fact is that by introducing the meme of "Democracy! Sexy! Whiskey!" our American GIs were actually sinister dupes of the Frankfurt School plot -- which they foisted off onto innocent and naive Iraqis.

    So, I think the Cultural Marxist meme, while grounded in the reality that there were people who believed that sex drugs rock and roll and other forms of cultural rot would destroy America, is fundamentally flawed because it treats people like mindless automatons -- giving them no credit for having independent thoughts and desires for freedom of their own. Even those who don't believe in God (or those like me who reject the idea that God can be reduced to a book) are not given credit for their skepticism. They are told that their thoughts are not theirs, but they are victims of a brainwashing campaign cooked up by long-dead Communist Jews.

    From a rhetorical standpoint, I think the implementation of the phrase "Cultural Marxism" mirrors the implementation of leftist phraseology like "Structural Racism," "Institutional Racism," "Environmental Racism," and yes, even "Cultural Racism" because it conveniently facilitates leveling the charge of Marxism and Communism at people who are not Marxists or Communists, just as Structural, Institutional, Cultural and Environmental Racism conveniently facilitate calling people racists who are not racists.

    This is not to deny that there were and are Marxists, or that there were and are racists. Nor is it to deny that these Marxist intellectuals believed that loosening of morals and abandonment of religion would pave the way towards Marxism, or that racists in fact deliberately sought to create self-enforcing institutions and systems that would keep minorities down. However, it is a quantum leap (as well as bad logic) to say that simply because something follows in time or is built upon something that went on in the past, that it is being dictated or controlled by it.

    Just as people would have (and did, and do) enjoy sex and porn without Alfred Kinsey's help, people would have become atheists, agnostics, drug users, or gay had Antonio Gramsci and Herbert Marcuse never been born.

    And just as I am perfectly capable of destroying myself without their help, so is Western culture. As Oscar Wilde famously observed (and not just the other day),

    America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
    I'd almost like to add that America is the only country that went from privileged white racist imperialism to mindless politically correct Communist-inspired Cultural rot without independent thinkers being allowed much say in the matter.

    Similarly, it is possible to have lived through actual attempts at Marxist indoctrination, to have taken part in some of the fun stuff that took place in the 60s and 70s, years later to succumb to self-indulgent psychedelic nostalgia, aggravated by a narcissistic, passive-aggressive sense of midlife "entitlement," and, yes, even to be polite to people -- all without being a victim or a dupe of Cultural Marxist political correctness.

    As I say, political correctness sucks.

    Which is why I consider it rather insulting to be told that I am helping the advancement of a political system to which I am unalterably philosophically opposed. I'd be about as happy being told I am a dupe of Osama bin Laden.

    At the rate things are going, we'll all be reduced to being someone else's narrative.

    And how I hate that.

    I mean, if I can't be my own narrative, then what is the meaning of life?

    * OTOH, if the idea is to oppose political correctness by any means necessary, I would submit that Mel Gibson makes that Brannon Howse guy look like a pussy!

    MORE: Not to belabor the point, but another major problem with the Cultural Marxism, Frankfurt School argument is that by attributing to "leaders" (like Gramsci and Marcuse) the later actions of people who never heard of them, it gives the villainous leaders credit than they do not deserve, transforming dead men into powerful enemies who continue to do damage. Sexual hedonism, for example, was not Marcuse's idea, but he did try to glom onto what was going on in the 60s in an opportunistic manner. The slogan "MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR!" is often attributed to him (even though there is no proof he coined it), and many conservatives have argued that he was a "leader" of young people who wanted sex, drugs, and rock and roll:

    Marcuse argued for a widened experience of sexuality through the embrace of eros, in general, within polymorphous sensuality, fantasy, and the arts. In this he was a leading inspiration to the "Flower Children," the theme of "Make Love, Not War," and a great portion of the Rock music and drug culture of the age. While much of this movement ventured far beyond the bounds of Marcuse's own North-German upbringing, he was obviously pleased by the attention and remained sympathetic to the Movement.
    Yet most of the kids back then had never heard of Marcuse, and didn't need his boring treatises to justify what they were doing (which was simply what they wanted to do).

    Making them into his victims is illogical and condescending, and I think it borders on the delusional.

    "I went to an orgy because a German philosopher said it was OK."

    "I took LSD and copulated in the mud at Woodstock because Herbert Marcuse made me do it!"


    posted by Eric at 12:15 PM | Comments (8)

    "But I was just dialing!"

    Of life's many annoyances, one of the most irritating to me is bad driving. More often than not, the bad drivers I see are distracted. While there is no curing drivers who are distracted by their own brains, the most frequent visible distraction I see involves an incompetent driver driven to further displays of incompetence by talking on a cell phone.

    Yet in my ideal theoretical world (a world I know will never exist), I would not ban talking on the phone while driving. Instead, I would ban distracted driving of any sort, leaving it up to the individual police officer to decide when someone is distracted. It's like, do we need a law making it illegal to eat or drink (or wipe the baby's mouth or change his diapers) while driving? Most people would say no -- because we assume that good drivers will take care to do these things carefully. It's when idiots don't that reasonable people lose their patience and demand new laws. Generations of Americans have been able to sneak bites from hamburgers while driving, but it only takes a few idiots involved in accidents to blame their idiocy on a McDonalds hamburger or something -- and some inane politician wanting to be elected will promote a new law.

    Hey, how about cigarette smoking behind the wheel? Not only is it dangerous to the driver himself, but the process of removing a cigarette, lighting it, and flicking the ashes into an ashtray has "caused" much loss of life! Isn't it high time we prohibited that harmful activity as well?

    Here in Michigan, texting while driving (text of law here) is about to become illegal. Sounds like simple common sense, right? What kind of lamebrain would be reading and typing while operating a potentially deadly machine that can kill within seconds? (Well, for starters, yours truly -- I wrote a blog post once while sitting in stalled traffic, just because I wanted to be able to say I did. No one was endangered at all, btw, even though I was technically "driving.")

    But in general, reading and writing while driving strikes me as the antithesis of common sense, so despite my potential objections based on the possibility of exceptions (as well as the realization that certain legal behaviors such as unfolding and reading a road map while driving are probably more distracting than texting), I have not been inclined to write a post about the anti-texting law. What provoked my ire was to read an entirely legitimate complaint from a sheriff in my area, who points out something the geniuses in the legislature seem to have missed entirely.

    How on earth are the cops supposed to distinguish texting from regular dialing?

    In two days, police officers across Michigan will be able to pull over motorists sending text messages while driving, but how will they know drivers aren't simply dialing a phone number?

    "That's going to be the problem," Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said Tuesday during a discussion with WJR-AM 760 host Paul W. Smith. "No doubt about it.

    "For us as law enforcement, that's what we're asking. We understand why they decided to put this law into effect -- I think there was a lot of pressure from the public -- but yet I don't think they always look at it from the law enforcement end."


    "It puts law enforcement against the public, and that's what really upsets me," he said.

    Well, it's too late now. Officers in Michigan are charged with the legal duty of pulling people over and citing them whenever it looks like they're texting.

    Which means if I get lost and need to phone wherever I'm going for directions (as has happened many times), I now have an additional worry: how might my conduct might be interpreted by a police officer?

    I thought they had only prohibited texting, but I now see that what will be targeted is the appearance of texting!

    I guess I was asleep at the wheel.

    Oh well. I guess I should be glad they didn't prohibit driving while drowsy, or I'd be afraid of getting arrested for yawning behind the wheel.

    posted by Eric at 12:53 PM | Comments (6)

    We Are Going To Whip These Communists Out Of Their Boots

    A new Bill Whittle video. And don't miss his take on soccer. Hilarious.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:49 AM | Comments (1)

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