Sunday, December 31, 2006

Principle or merely excuse?

The Washington Post reports:
CBS appeared to be the most reluctant of the networks to take the unprecedented step of broadcasting video footage of an execution on television in the United States, a country where 53 people were put to death in 2006 alone.

CBS News Vice President Paul Friedman all but ruled out showing footage of Saddam's hanging, saying, "I personally believe it is beyond the pale to show executions."

"I would not want to see moving pictures of the actual moment of Saddam Hussein's death, or anyone else's," Friedman told Reuters[emphasis added]
As Kathryn Jean Lopez points out, it's all a lie: (a) Showing an execution is not unprecedented and (b) despite the CBS VP's protestations, CBS itself has already shown video of an execution. In particular, in November, 1998, CBS 60 minutes showed video of the execution, including the moment of death, of Thomas Youk by lethal injection at the hands of Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

The difference, of course, is that liberals are generally in favor of Kevorkian-style euthanasia while the liberals are extremely uncomfortable with justice being delivered to a mass-murderer such as Saddam.

Media bias in Germany

Having heard endlessly over the years about how evil the US is (and, more recently, Iraq is) for having capital punishment, I was surprised to see opinion polls that show that majorities in the UK, Germany, France, and Spain support the execution of Saddam. David Kaspar details how the European media ignore this and try to spin the Saddam execution.

Incidentally, Kaspar's Medienkritik blog is an overall fascinating look at German media bias.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Science under attack

Activists are now asking scientistst to put a stop to some biology research. Previously, science has identified many hormones and their role in controlling or regulating human biology. In addition to controlling hunger (ghrelin), growth (GHRH), and happiness (serotonin), hormones such as testosterone and estrogen control sexual behaviors. However, now researchers at Oregon State University have identified hormones that control, at least in rams, homosexual vs. heterosexual behavior. Some think that science has gone too far:
Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.


Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, said: “These experiments echo Nazi research in the early 1940s which aimed at eradicating homosexuality. They stink of eugenics. There is a danger that extreme homophobic regimes may try to use these experimental results to change the orientation of gay people.”

He said that the techniques being developed in sheep could in future allow parents to “play God”.

Saddam and terrorists

A very interesting blog,, has extensive information on Saddam's links to various terror organizations,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Prosecutorial Misconduct

In our criminal justice system, the guilty often go free. At the same time, the innocent can be harassed by politically motivated prosecution. The Duke rape case appears to be the latest of the latter. Our system is careful to protect the rights of the guilty but the innocent can be powerless. Democracy doesn't necessarily help: Durham D.A. Michael Nifong appears to have won his primary battle because of rather than in spite of his seeming prosecutorial misconduct.

In the '80s and early '90s, there were several people falsely convicted of bizarre and unlikely child molestation changes. Grant Snowden was lucky enough to have his conviction overturned after evidence presented was freed after 12-years in prison. 14-year-old Bobby Fijnje spent two years in the Miami Juvenile Detention Center on molestation charges before a jury before a jury declared him not guilty. Both these miscarriages of justice were perpetrated by then Miami prosecutor Janet Reno. For this, Janet Reno was not punished but rather rewarded. Bill Clinton selected her to become the US Attorney General. Similarly, DA Scott Harshbarger infamously obtained convictions against the Amirault family and went on to become the Massachusetts attorney general and later to head the liberal-lobby group Common Cause.

The one thing that these case have in common is identity politics. The Duke Lacrosse players are Southern whites and therefore, as as a group, are presumed guilty of brutalizing blacks. Similarly, child-care workers, as a group, are presumed guilty in child-molestation cases. Punishing an unpopular group can be popular and successful politics even if the punished individuals happen to be innocent.

Rest in Peace

Gerald Ford (1913-2006) was a decent and honorable man with a calm voice. James Brown (1928?-2006) was the opposite. May they both rest in peace.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

e-mail is not private (yet)

The US Appeals court is expected to rule soon on whether e-mail should be considered private. Unlike USPS mail or telephone conversations, there are no laws protecting the privacy of e-mails. Federal prosecutors assert the right to read to any e-mail that is a public server. This includes, for example, any mail in a google, hotmail or AOL account. Prosecutors used this to gain evidence to charge Steven Warshak, an Ohio spam-merchant, with mail fraud and money laundering. A US district judge sided with Warshak that e-mail should be private but the US appealing.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Murderers are the real victims

James Taranto found this bizarre passage in a New York Times story describing a possible death penalty procedure for Saddam Hussein:
The victims are led up a set of steel stairs to a platform, about 15 feet above the ground, and nooses fashioned from one-and-a-quarter-inch-thick hemp ropes are slipped over their necks. The executioners are different each time, drawn from among employees of the Justice Ministry who volunteer for the job. Many have lost relatives or friends in insurgent attacks, officials said.

With a tug of two large levers, the steel trapdoors drop open and the victims fall through. The doors make a loud clanging sound as they slam against the apparatus, according to people who have witnessed hangings. The jarring noise echoes off the cold, unadorned concrete walls.

Death is supposed to come instantly — a doctor is on hand to certify it — and the bodies are removed to a cooler where they are held before being handed over to the victims’ families. The entire process is recorded by a photographer and a video cameraman and the images are stored in a government archive.
Although this is from an "unbiased" news story, it captures clearly the upside-down liberal view of the world: murderers, such as Saddam, are "victims."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Liberal racism

Jason Riley is a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. His wife is expecting. He finds that his liberals friends have a problem with that:
Your wife, who unlike you is white, and who is expecting your first child, has been receiving the oddest reactions to the news of her pregnancy. Upon finding out, friends can't resist informing her that "interracial children are beautiful." It's said in a tone that suggests deep gratitude and admiration, although the reasons are a little unclear.

The comment may be kindly meant, as a sort of reflexive compliment, but it inevitably suggests that she is being congratulated for her willingness to place the aesthetic enhancement of the populace above the imperatives of racial purity. She's heard the remark, or some variation of it, from a dozen different people if she's heard it from one. And more often than not, your wife tells you, it's the first thing they blurt out, even before asking about gender and due dates. ....

A short time later, at a wedding reception in London, your wife finds herself chatting with a Danish woman she has just met. Back at the hotel, your wife informs you that the woman asked her, "How do you feel about having a baby who will look nothing like you? I have a lot of friends who have interracial babies, and they feel totally alienated from their children." ....

It's no surprise that these comments all came from white people; surveys have long demonstrated that blacks are much more accommodating of interracial relationships. More noteworthy is that in all but a couple of cases, the remarks came from white people parked on the political left, the kind of superior folks who might run you down in their Prius for even suggesting that they harbor racial hang-ups. As liberals constantly tell themselves, only conservatives have race issues.

But you know the truth is closer to the opposite. It is the left's obsession with skin pigmentation--invoking it everywhere and always, regardless of its relevance--that keeps race front and center not only in our public policy debates but even in everyday life. In his latest book, "White Guilt," Shelby Steele tackles this phenomenon with his usual peerless eloquence. He describes the endless frustration of dealing with whites "who have built a large part of their moral identity and, possibly, their politics around how they respond to your color."

Clinton legacy

Mike McCurry was Bill Clinton's press secretary from 1995 to 1998. In a speech at Princeton, Mr McCurry evaluated the Clinton presidency with unusual honesty. As reported by the Daily Princetonion:
McCurry said, above all, "the record and legacy of the Clinton presidency is, dare I use the word, 'stain.' .... In some ways, he had enormous potential and political gifts. But, they didn't arise because of his lack of discipline."

Minimum wage and hypocrisy

Megan McArdle looks at how one of the premier left-wing fundraising organizations treats its own employees.
If you want to know why I am no longer a lefty, just read this series on MyDD about PIRG, the organisation that supervised my transition from ultraliberal to libertarian. I have never worked at any organisation, including the Catskills hotel that basically used foriegn temporary labour in sweatshop fashion, that treated its employees as shamefully as PIRG. People talk about workers being disposable, but no other business model I have encountered depends on its employees having an average tenure of two weeks, the better to funnel their lost wages up the hierarchy to god-knows-where. It's all there in the series, what happens to you if you threaten to make too much money: the paycheck mixups that all run in favour of PIRG and somehow can never be rectified, the sudden firings of people for having a bad day, the curiously malleable policies on things like sick leave and holiday pay, which ensure that no one actually ever collects same, the shamelessly llame pretexts for getting rid of the overly successful, and the deliberate assignments to bad turf in order to depress your wages and thus force you to quit, or if that doesn't work, give them an excuse to fire you.
Similarly, ACORN, an advocacy group well known for campaigns to raise the minimum wage, didn't want to pay minimum wage to its own workers:
ACORN and Minimum Wage Hypocrisy ACORN is a vocal proponent of minimum wage hikesexcept when they apply to its own organization. ACORN actually sued the state of California to have its employees exempted from the state minimum wage. The group argued that if it were forced to pay higher wages, it would also have to hire fewer employeesthe very dilemma faced by businesses.
Even the Democratic Party tries to get away without paying the minimum wage to its employees:
Alex Scherer-Jones began working for Grassroots Campaigns to fight the Bush administration and elevate the fortunes of the Democratic Party. The 21-year-old MATC student left feeling exploited and sour: "I went in there being very idealistic, and it kind of ruined my idealism."

The job involves going door to door asking people to give money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, using talking points that include a call to raise the minimum wage. For this, Scherer-Jones says he was paid far less than the state minimum wage of $6.50 an hour.
The Democrats tried to claim that the rules don't apply to them:
"These kinds of fund-raising and sales positions are governed under different [rules]," asserts [Wes] Jones [the national canvass director] in a phone interview from Seattle....

These practices likely violate state law. Rose Lynch, spokeswoman for the state Department of Workforce Development, says there are no special rules for canvassing firms, and "even individuals paid on a commission basis must receive at least minimum wage."
The left doesn't want to obey the rules that it advocates. One might think that this would them cause to stop and think whether the rules they advocate are good ones or not, but it doesn't.

The Public Policy Institute of California has done a study on "living wages" and found what would seem to be obvious to be worth a study: raising minumum wages causes an increase in unemployment among the lowest skilled labor.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Creationism in Europe

Although Europeans used to regard creationism/intelligent design as an American issue, it is now appearing in Europe. The November 23, 2006 issue of Nature (v444, p406, $$) says that two schools in Hesse, Germany, have been teaching creationism with the support of Karin Wolf, Hesse's Christian Democrat education minister. Nature writes:
[I]n Italy in 2004. Letizia Moratti, then education minister, caused a public outcry when she removed the theory of evolution from the curricula of Italy's middle schools on the grounds that teaching Darwin's theory of evolution can instil a materialist view of life in young minds.... [A]lmost two-thirds [of Italians] would prefer lessons to cover both evolutionary theory and the creationist view.
In addition to Germany and Italy, advocates of creationism are also active in Britain, Turkey, and Russia.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Consequences of a US pullout from Iraq

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is concerned that, if the US pulls out of Iraq, the Shia dominated government might use Iraqi troops against the Sunni population. In that case, Saudi Arabia would back the Sunnis. One can speculate that Iran would respond strongly. The foreign policy issues of this should concern the next session of Congress except that, when it comes to Sunnis and Shia, congressmen don't know who's who.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Congressional Intelligence: it takes a committee

If Congressmen sound clueless, it is probably because they are. Jeff Stein interviewed the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx), and found that he didn't know the basics about the dividing lines in the Middle East, such as Al Qaeda being Sunni while Hezbollah is Shi'ite. Mr. Stein had previously found other members of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va) and Terry Everett (R-Ala), to be similarly clueless.

One shouldn't consider congressmen dumb though. They probably know, for example, every major campaign contributor by name, hometown, and dollar amount.

UPDATE: CNN picks up on this story here.

ADDENDUM: Last month, Hugh Hewitt interviewed the candidates for Republican leadership positions and reports that "not a single Republican congressman vying for a party leadership position could name a book he had read relating to Islamic terrorism."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

American Ingenuity

America soldiers are using toys and bee to defeat IEDs in Iraq. The toy, Silly String, is sprayed across a room to detect trip wires. If the string drops to the ground, there are no trip wires. The mother of a soldier is collecting cans of Silly Strings to send to Iraq. Separately, bees are being trained to sniff out explosives. This work likes trained dogs but, if a bomb goes off, no one misses the bees.

The Uncivil Society

In today's LA Times, Arianna Huffington comes out against Hillary Clinton:
Democrats are fed up with fence-straddling and triangulation. But that has become Clinton's brand. Smiling photo ops with Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Backing a bill criminalizing flag burning. Coming out against violent video games. Signing on to President Bush's missile defense plan.
So, Ms. Huffington opposes having the leaders of the US Congress working together in a civil fashion? Maybe she would prefer it if our elected officials acted like the people in those "violent video games" that she seems to advocate?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Any enemy of the US is my friend"

Sen. Kennedy reportedly had secret talks with the USSR for the purpose of thwarting US foreign policy. Today, the Jerusalem Post reports that the terrorist organization Hamas says that it has "held talks with officials from the US Democratic Party at an undisclosed location." There is no word yet on who participated or what they may have discussed.

UPDATE: Captain's Quarters notes that this paragraph in the Jerusalem Post story has now disappeared from their web site.

UPDATE 2: Ynet is now reporting on Hamas' claim to have met with Democrats. GatewayPundit has much more on the Democrat's history of collaboration with enemies going back to their efforts to persuade Union soldiers to desert during the Civil War.
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