Monday, December 31, 2007

Discovering intolerance

From the Politico:
The New York Times’ hiring of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to write for its op-ed page caused a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere Friday night, with threats of canceling subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-cons

But Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal sees things differently.

Rosenthal told Politico shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views.”

“The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual — and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?”

Beauty queen goes wild?

One would like a court judge to be a good judge of people. So, when I read the following Arizona Daily Star story, one question came to mind:
A University of Arizona law school student and beauty queen has been indicted on charges that say she and three others held her former boyfriend captive for 10 hours while torturing and robbing him.

Kumari Fulbright, a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins, was indicted Dec. 18 on five felony charges – armed robbery, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

My question is how did Raner Collins rise to be a District Court judge and yet have so little sense that he chose to hire the alleged psycho?

The answer is that Collins, a graduate of Arkansas Polytechnic College, was appointed by Bill Clinton. Judge Collins seems to be best known for repeated attempts to legislate from the bench the details of Arkansas school funding.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

It's a paradox!

Mark Sherman of the AP reports:
The dispute over Indiana's voter ID law that is headed to the Supreme Court in January is as much a partisan political drama as a legal tussle.

On one side are mainly Republican backers of the law, including the Bush administration, who say state-produced photo identification is a prudent measure intended to cut down on vote fraud. Yet there have been no Indiana prosecutions of in-person voter fraud — the kind the law is supposed to prevent.

Accepting Mr. Sherman's facts are face value, it would appear that the voter ID law had been successful: after requiring IDs, no in-person voter fraud has been found. He, however, appears to think that the law has failed unless people are still trying to commit in-person vote fraud.

File this in the same category as news reporters who are shocked that, after more criminals are put in prison, crime goes down.

Via BotW.

President as parent

Sen. Clinton spoke at the Corinthian Baptist Church in Iowa Sunday. The Boston Globe reports:
The New York senator also highlighted a chapter in her book, "It Takes a Village," that talks about every child needing a champion. She said most children have someone in that role and she'd like to fulfill it for the whole country.

"I think the American people need a president who is their champion. And I've been running to be that champion -- to get up every single day and do all that I can to make sure I provide the tools that every single American is entitled to receive and make the most out of their own lives," Clinton said. [Emphasis added]

Via BotW

Two examples of sexist stereotyping

First, from James Taranto:

So what does the National Organization for Women, America's premier feminist organization, have to say about Bhutto's life and death? Only this: . We did a search for "Bhutto" on NOW's Web site and it came up empty. The top item under "Hot Topics" on NOW's homepage is "NOW's Naughty List: Stereotyping Toys" Here's NOW head Kim Gandy:
Naturally the NOW office has been abuzz about the ubiquitous "Rose Petal Cottage" TV commercials. If you haven't seen these ads, count yourself lucky. Honestly, if I didn't know better, I would think they were beamed in from 1955, via some lost satellite in space. . . .

According to the makers at Playskool, the Rose Petal Cottage is "a place where her dreams have room to grow." And what might those dreams be? Well, baking muffins, arranging furniture and doing the dishes. The voiceover even declares that the toy house will "entertain her imagination" just before the little girl opens the miniature washing machine and says--I kid you not--"Let's do laundry!" . . .

Through the world of toys, girls and boys are given separate dreams to follow. Girls are prepared for a future of looking pretty, keeping house and taking care of babies. Boys are given a pass on that domain, and instead pointed toward the outside world of challenge, physical development and achievement.

NOW has a different vision. When your daughter grows up, she can follow the example of Kim Gandy: grab a broom and sweep invidious stereotypes right out of the toy aisle! International politics? That's icky, leave it to the boys!
Second, from the UK Daily Mail:
Playing with toy weapons helps the development of young boys, according to new Government advice to nurseries and playgroups.

Staff have been told they must resist their "natural instinct" to stop boys using pretend weapons such as guns or light sabres in games with other toddlers.

Fantasy play involving weapons and superheroes allows healthy and safe risk-taking and can also make learning more appealing, says the guidance.

It conflicts with years of "political correctness" in nurseries and playgroups which has led to the banning of toy guns, action hero games and children pretending to fire "guns" using their fingers or Lego bricks.

But teachers' leaders insisted last night that guns "symbolise aggression" and said many nurseries and playgroups would ignore the change.

More at Instapundit.

A silver lining, as seen from the left

Journalist Dave Lindorff writes:
Say what you will about the looming catastrophe facing the world as the pace of global heating and polar melting accelerates. There is a silver lining. .... The area that will by completely inundated by the rising ocean—and not in a century but in the lifetime of my two cats—are the American southeast, including the most populated area of Texas,.... So what we see is that huge swaths of conservative America are set to face a biblical deluge in a few more presidential cycles.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Democrats in fighting form

Sen. Clinton describes her approach to life in a Glamour blog:
Like so many women I know, it took me a while to find my voice—and I was thinking recently about how I found it. As a young woman at Wellesley in the late 1960s, we were passionate and fighting for what we believed in.
Gov. Dean is also a fighter:
Dean’s own conversion to Congregationalism was a more mundane political affair. He’d been christened as a Catholic and was raised Episcopalian. But he converted to the local Vermont religion as a consequence of his battle to make over the shoreline. “I had a big fight with a local Episcopal church about 25 years ago over the bike path,” he told This Week with George Stephanopoulos in September.
A "big fight" over a bike path? The inner-life of a Democrat seems to require some "passionate" "fighting."

Missile defense is making progress

Japan successfully tests a mid-course missile-defense system:
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force successfully flight tested its first Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN)-built Standard Missile-3. The SM-3 Block IA missile engaged and destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile target more than 60 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Personnel at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai launched the ballistic missile target while the crew of the Japanese destroyer JS KONGO (DDG-173) fired the intercepting missile. ....

Japan is working with Raytheon and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to develop and deploy the next-generation SM-3 Block IIA missile, which will provide a larger area of defense against more sophisticated threats.

SM-3 is being developed as part of the MDA's sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The missiles will be deployed on Aegis cruisers and destroyers to defend against short-to-intermediate range ballistic missile threats in the midcourse phase of flight.

Separately, Israel has approved manufacture of a defense system against short-range rockets:
The Israeli security cabinet on Sunday gave the green light for the manufacture of a defence system capable of intercepting short-range rockets such as those fired by Gaza militants, army radio said.

The cabinet allocated 811 million shekels (207 million dollars, 144 million euros) towards the development and manufacture of the missile defence system, it said.

The system -- dubbed "The Iron Dome" -- will be developed by the Israeli arms firm Rafael and is expected to be operational within two years. The defence ministry first ordered its development in February.

In addition to being able to intercept the home-made rockets fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian militant groups, it will also be able to shoot down Katyusha-type short-range rockets of the kind fired by Lebanon's Hezbollah militia during last year's 34-day war with Israel.

During that brief but bloody conflict, Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets into Israel, killing more than 40 civilians.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gore responds with Ad Hominem

When told that more than 400 scientists had publicly challenged Gore/UN claims of global warming, the Washington Times reports that "Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said 25 or 30 of the scientists may have received funding from Exxon Mobil Corp."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Your right to privacy does not include your hard disk

If you have your computer repaired, you have no privacy. The hard drive of your home computer likely has tax returns, bank account numbers, correspondence, and other data that you regard as private. However, a recent court decision says that computer store repair techs may rummage through your files.

This issue got to court because Circuit City technicians did a search on Kenneth Sodomsky's PC for video files and allegedly found child porn. He was charged but the trial court said that Circuit City shouldn't have done that. A Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed and said that Mr. Sodomsky had no reasonable expectation of privacy after he gave his computer to the store for a hardware upgrade. Prosecuting pederasts is a good thing. For the rest of us, though, this may not be a helpful precedent.

An identity thief may merely need your name, your date of birth, and your social security number. If he has access to your hard drive, he probably has this and a lot more.

Our rules should only apply to others

For decades, feminists have demanded "equality." Now, they have it to such an extent that. sometimes. women have to pay alimony to men. Naturally, this has feminists outraged.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fascism and Atheism

These days there is much discussion of Christianity being an irrational superstition. For perspective, Ed Driscoll points out that Mussolini and Hitler were both atheists. (Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao were also.) Just being free of superstition does make people virtuous.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Was it uncle Sam who taught you right from wrong and wrapped your gifts at Christmas?

A letter to the San Francisco Chronicle explains the nature of government:
Editor - I keep reading about the mortgage crisis and the credit card debt Americans keep accruing - and then I remember that we learn from our parents - in this case, the United States government. Why shouldn't Americans continue to purchase luxury items like flat-screen TVs, purchase huge homes and cars they can't afford? The government continues to spend money on a war we can't afford, and our debt is the highest ever. We learn from the best. [emphasis added]


Hat tip: BoTW.

Can't we all just get along? (Global version)

In Council Bluffs, Iowa, Sen. Clinton explains her concept of foreign policy
"There's so much we can do together if we work together as a world. Remember that movie Independence Day, where invaders were coming from outer space and the whole world was united against the invasion? Why can't we be united on behalf of our planet? And that's what I want to do, to get more and more people to understand that and to be involved to protect our environment."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yet another hate crime hoax

This hoax was a little different. Francisco Nava, an adult convert to Mormonism, admitted to fabricating hate-e-mails and a hate-assault against advocates of traditional marriage and sexuality. This is the opposite of previously reported fake hate crimes which have generally been perpetrated by liberals pretending to be the victims of hate-filled conservatives. Below it is noted that (religious-right) Mike Huckabee's foreign policy reasoning is similar to liberal reasoning. The Nava case of fake-hate-crimes appears to be a second area where some in the US "religious right" are similar to US liberals.

One psychologist explains hate-crime-hoaxers as follows:

People who fake crimes are transforming feelings of invisibility into a fantasy that they may come to believe is reality, says Bonnie Jacobson, a psychologist and director of the New York Institute for Psychological Change in New York City. She says a “hoaxer” wins attention by playing the passive victim, similar to a person with Munchausen syndrome, who fakes an illness to get the attention of doctors or loved ones. [emphasis added]
As liberals like to "play the passive victim," it would be natural that this appeals to some of them.

Hat Tip: Instapundit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This day in history

The first transistor was built on this day 60 years ago at Bell Labs on Dec. 16, 1947. The first consumer application appeared a mere five years later, in December 1952, when a transistor replaced one of the three vacuum tubes in a hearing aid.

Why they hate us

Gov. Michael Huckabee explains his views in Foreign Affairs:
The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised.

American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out.

Again, Huckabee reasons by analogy with childhood.

Contrast Huckabee's explanation of why they hate us with that from Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, AKA Dr Fadi, who is the author of a jihad manual used in Al Qaeda training camps and is reportedly one of Ayman Al Zawahiri's oldest associates. Al-Sharif is currently serving a life sentence in Egypt. He writes on why Arabs hate America:

America always supports Israel. Even [America’s foreign] aid, the common people don’t notice it, since it is either old weapons that America gets rid of to provide work for its factories, or old stocks of wheat it wants to get rid of, or birth control pills. This is American [foreign] aid - that is, America aids itself.
Al Sharif 's view on this is quite practical. "Modesty," "tone," and "attitude," which Huckabee thought were decisive, are not on Al Sharif's list of complaints.

Hat tip: Powerline

Hero of the climate

Randall Hoven of AmericanThinker uses government numbers of CO2 emissions to see what effect the Kyoto treaty had:
  • Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
  • Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
  • Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
  • Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.
So, US emissions grew more slowly (6.6%) than emissions from countries signing the Kyoto treaty (21.1%). This puts some perspective on the meaning of the Bali conference.

RELATED: Gore panders.

How politics is done

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
With a hidden FBI camera rolling inside a New York hotel suite in 2003, an unsuspecting Rev. Al Sharpton, Democratic candidate for president, spoke candidly.

Sharpton offered to help Philadelphia fund-raiser Ronald A. White win a multimillion-dollar business deal, if White helped him raise $50,000 for politics.

White offered $25,000. "If you bring my guys up on this hedge fund, and I have the right conversation," White said, "I'll give you what you need."

"Cool," Sharpton said.

Ronald White was indicted on federal pay-to-play corruption charges but died before trial. Al Sharpton has nine lives.

The CIA's misinformation problem

Joseph Weisberg was in the CIA's Directorate of Operations from 1990 to 1994. He explains why the CIA's information isn't what taxpayer's expect:
The CIA can't recruit top-quality agents because it isn't possible.... Sympathetic Europeans who work at companies involved in the illicit transfer of nuclear components might help us understand how the underground nuclear supply chain works. Scientists who attend highly specialized conferences might glean valuable insights into foreign capabilities.

But the majority of CIA agents do not fall into even these less glamorous categories. Most are worthless as sources of information, mid-level bureaucrats with no access to vital intelligence. They are recruited to give case officers something to do (at least they were when I worked at the CIA) since recruiting truly valuable sources is close to impossible.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Scientists petition UN

They say the "UN climate conference taking the World in entirely the wrong direction." The list of signatories, here, includes some well-known scientists like Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J., and many other physicists, geophysicists, and climatologists. They write that "the current UN approach of CO2 reduction is likely to increase human
suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it." They also point out that the UN's IPCC summaries and press-releases are written by a very small group under the control of politicians. Therefore "The summaries therefore cannot properly be represented as a consensus view among experts."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Government by control freak

Tajikistan is on the move:
DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Tajikistan is launching a crackdown on witchcraft and fortune-telling as part of an anti-poverty drive after earlier banning lavish weddings and expensive funerals. ...

"Those indulging in sorcery and fortune-telling shall be fined between 30 and 40 times the minimum monthly wage (85 to 113 pounds)," says the text of a draft law backed by the lower chamber of the Tajik parliament on Wednesday and obtained by Reuters.

Earlier this year, Tijikistan ordered its people to change their names back to Persian style:
DUSHANBE: Tajik leader Imomali Rakhmonov, in a flamboyant move to revive Persian roots in the former Soviet state, has ordered his people to drop Russian-style surnames and banned Soviet-era school festivals.
The president led on this by example: he dropped the last syllable of his surname and is now known as President Imomali Rakhmon.

As you contemplate a government which prioritizes these issues, would you be surprised to learn that Tajikistan "is the poorest Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country and one of the poorest countries in the world."

The Red Cross doesn't love to kill, but it loves those who do kill

Scott Johnson writes on the International Red Cross, which is siding with terrorists, and its support by the BBC, which, in the 1930s, admired Hitler over Churchill:

Surrounded on three sides by terrorist forces, Israel has come under attack by the International Committee of the Red Cross for the measures it has taken to defend itself. According to the Red Cross, Israel is responsible not only for the inconvenience of Arab life on the West Bank, but also for the misery of life in Gaza. The BBC story on the Red Cross's condemnation of Israel -- one of the BBC's leading stories yesterday -- does not mention Hamas, Fatah, or Hezbollah.

The BBC simply reports that the ICRC has called for political action -- i.e., pressure on Israel, not reform within territory under the jurisdiction of Hamas or Fatah -- to mitigate conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. According to the BCC, the ICRC "says humanitarian assistance cannot possibly be the solution in Gaza and the West Bank." Indeed.

In a world of rational discourse, it might be deemed newsworthy that a purportedly humanitarian organization has taken the side of terrorists. The same proposition applies to the BBC itself, but its been on the wrong side of such issues for a long, long time. The BBC, of course, systematically barred Winston Churchill from discussing his defense and foreign policy views during the 1930's.

Sir John Reith was head of the BBC at the time. According to William Manchester, "Reith saw to it that [Churchill] was seldom heard over the BBC..." In his voluminous diaries Reith wrote of Churchill: "I absolutely hate him."

Why did Reith detest Churchill? In Reith's eyes, Churchill was a warmonger. Reith, not coincidentally, held Hitler in the highest regard. Reith's successors at the BBC follow in his footsteps.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hope for electric cars

This week, Toshiba claims to have a battery that will recharge 90% in a mere 5 minutes. That is a reasonable to wait while your car 'refills' (as opposed to being stranded for hours). If they can also get good energy density, power density, and safety at the same time, electric cars could be interesting.

Safety is not unimportant. You may remember a series of notebook PC battery fires. You wouldn't want that to happen to your car ... particularly when you were in it.

The side-effects of good intentions

The editors of the Wall Street Journal note why college tuition has risen so fast:
Tuition has risen about three percentage points faster than inflation every year for the past quarter-century. At the same time, the feds have put more and more money behind student loans and other financial aid. The government is slowly becoming a third-party tuition payer, with all the price distortions one would expect. Every time tuition rises, the government makes up the difference; colleges thus cheerfully raise tuition (and budgets), knowing the government will step in.
Where does this extra money go? The WSJ continues:
As a result, "colleges have little incentive to cut costs," says economist Richard Vedder, the author of "Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much." Mr. Vedder explains that there are now twice as many university administrators per student as there were in the 1970s. Faculty members are paid more to teach fewer hours, and colleges have turned their campuses into "country clubs." Princeton's new $136 million dorm, according to BusinessWeek, has "triple-glazed mahogany casement windows made of leaded glass" and "the dining hall boasts a 35-foot ceiling gabled in oak and a 'state of the art servery,'" whatever a servery is.

Can't we all just get along?

The Wall Street Journal writes that Congressional Democrats are suffering from intra-party squabbling. As an example of the relations between House and Senate Democrats:
A comment by Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, suggests the distant relationship between the two houses. "We have a constitutional responsibility to send legislation over there," said Rep. Rangel. "Quite frankly I don't give a damn what they feel."

Adds Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee: "I can tell you when bills will move and you can tell me when the Senate will sell us out."

It is curious that Democrats are the ones who advocate solving foreign policy problems with soft friendly talk of human relations mixed in with appeasement. By contrast, here, Rep. Rangel doesn't "give a damn" what the Senate Democrats think.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Political correctness, explained

The Arizona Republic details a school principal's view of racism:
A 9-year-old boy from a Phoenix elementary school has been suspended after the school determined he engaged in racial harassment by using the term "brown people."

The boy, whom The Arizona Republic is not naming because of his age, was suspended for three days from Abraham Lincoln Traditional School after officials determined that his language constituted racial harassment, part of its hate-crime code.

In a parent-teacher conference in early November, Abraham Lincoln Principal Virginia Voinovich said she also told the boy that it is OK to have racist feelings as long as you keep them to yourself.

"As we said to (the boy) when he was in here, in your heart you may have that feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal belief," Voinovich said in the conference, which was tape-recorded by the boy's mother. [emph. added]

Principal Voinovich also has strong opinions on whether or not this is a free country:
Neve said school officials didn't advise her of the incident until several days after they questioned her son. When Neve objected to the suspension during the parent conference, Voinovich told her that parents give up their rights to discipline when they send a child to school, the tape shows.

"If you don't want that, you can take him out of here," Voinovich said. "There is nowhere you can go to challenge this." [emph. added]

Solar heating and hot air

A recent paper in Journal of Geophysical Research (N. Scafetta and B. J. West, Vol. 112, D24S03, 2007, full text here) says that over 50% of global warming since 1900 may have been caused not by CO2 but by the Sun:
We compare different preindustrial temperature and solar data reconstruction scenarios since 1610. We argue that a realistic climate scenario is the one described by a large preindustrial secular variability (as the one shown by the paleoclimate temperature reconstruction by Moberg et al. (2005)) with the total solar irradiance experiencing low secular variability (as the one shown by Wang et al. (2005)). Under this scenario the Sun might have contributed up to approximately 50% (or more if ACRIM total solar irradiance satellite composite (Willson and Mordvinov, 2003) is implemented) of the observed global warming since 1900.
Separately, another paper to be published in Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres (R. R. McKitrick and P. J. Michaels, full text here) examines the post-1980 temperature data. They find that half of the reported temperature rise is due to experimental measurement error.

If further research confirms that half the recent temperature rise is due to the Sun (as per Scafetta and West) and half is due to measurement error (as per McKitrick and Michaels), then at least Al Gore need have no guilt about continuing to fly by private jet.

Hat tip: Marc Morano

Learning from mistakes, or not

Some people may just not have the genes to learn from experience. Or so says a new paper published in Science (2007 Dec 7;318(5856):1642-5) and reviewed by Nature. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences imaged peoples brains while giving them a learning task. People with a particular gene variant, one which reduces the number of Dopamine D2 receptors in their brains, were less sensitive to negative feedback and kept making bad decisions. Such people are also more likely to be addicts.

Depressed and liberal

It is a generalization, supported by polling, to say that Democrats are depressed. It is not surprising to see that this is true in particular cases as well. Valerie Plame praises the accuracy of the facts presented at This identifies her as left-liberal. She has also disclosed her marital problems and serious depression.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who killed the electric car?

According to the agit-prop film, "Who Killed the Electric Car," GM canceled production of the wonderful EV-1 electric car because of some variation on a corporate-oil-company-Bush conspiracy. A simpler explanation is provided by Time Magazine: they include the EV-1 in their list of "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time." Time writes:
The early car's lead-acid bats, and even the later nickel-metal hydride batteries, couldn't supply the range or durability required by the mass market. The car itself was a tiny, super-light two-seater, not exactly what American consumers were looking for. And the EV1 was horrifically expensive to build, which was why GM's execs terminated the program
"Super-light" cars generally don't do well in collisions, even without considering the possibility of a collision letting loose a spray of battery acid. Advocates in the film claim the car had a 60-mile range which might, as claimed by the film, be good for "95%" of consumer needs but most consumers consider the other 5%, such as maybe driving to the lake on their summer vacation, to be essential, not optional. Gasoline cars can refill in minutes. How long did the EV-1 take to re-charge and how many consumers would be willing to pull off the highway and wait hours for a re-charge every 60-miles?

On the other hand, maybe if you prefer, you may believe that it was an evil-corporate-oil company-Bush conspiracy....

Cell phone service to be more reliable, maybe

Right now, when the power goes out during an emergency, say a hurricane or earthquake, your cell phone service dies but your land-line may well continue to work. This is because the (land-line)phone company has back-up power and cell phone towers do not. The FCC is considering changing that by requiring 24-hours worth of back-up power at cell towers. The cell phone companies are objecting to the cost.

Hayek Illustrated

Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) won the 1974 Nobel prize in Economics. If you want to find out his thoughts without reading a long book, consider the graphic (cartoon) form of his 1944 classic The Road to Serfdom which is now on-line here. The on-line version explains how "idealistic" planners paved the way for the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe.

The book remains relevant because, while fascism is dead, idealistic planners remain. The planners operate the same way: they need to claim a crisis. In the 1930s, it was war. Today, it is the health care "crisis" or global warming. Anyone who wants to manufacture a crisis knows that they need a propaganda machine. This is apparent today with the opposition to the existence of dissenting media sources. Fox News and Rush do not have a large share of the total news/commentary audience but their mere existence is a threat to those who views depend on uniformity of the media message.

The uniformity of the media is important whenever the plan is in trouble or decisions need to be made. The failure of HillaryCare can be blamed on the lack of a uniform propaganda message. Grand plans are always more complicated than planners first think. Consider, for example, Sen. Clinton's thoughts on health care regulations:

WASHINGTON - Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance was the only way to achieve universal health care but she rejected the notion of punitive measures to force individuals into the health care system.

“At this point, we don’t have anything punitive that we have proposed,” the presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re providing incentives and tax credits which we think will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans.”

She said she could envision a day when “you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview — like when your kid goes to school and has to show proof of vaccination,” but said such details would be worked out through negotiations with Congress. [emphasis added]

The left were unable to control the message on this one, to their great frustration. You can see why, through 'fairness' doctrines or licensing, they want to re-gain a monopoly on the news media. This, as Hayek pointed out, is a path preferred by dictators.

The big business of global warming

Al Gore gets paid £100,000 ($204,800US) for a half-hour speech on global warming. That is £3,300 ($6,760US) per minute.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The shining city on the hill

From Reuters, students at Tehran University invoke, in English, the 1809 toast of New Hampshire's most famous soldier, General Stark: "Live free or die."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

European Union fails audit

The BBC reports:
The auditors for the EU have refused to sign off the bloc's financial accounts - for the 13th year in a row.

A report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) criticises nearly every major area of the EU's expenditure.

The auditors say there are weaknesses across the board and complain of neglect and presumed attempts at fraud.

On the other hand, it is brave of the EU bureaucrats to hire auditors in the first place. There is no independent audit of US accounts.

(OK, the GAO "audits" but, because it reports to congress and congress mandates the spending, the GAO is in no way independent.)

Those who love to hate, IV

Peter Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and a professor at George Mason University School of Law. He describes a dinner party in Washington with progressive scholars and policy analysts:
To get the conversation rolling at that D.C. dinner--and perhaps mischievously--I wondered aloud whether Bush hatred had not made rational discussion of politics in Washington all but impossible. One guest responded in a loud, seething, in-your-face voice, "What's irrational about hating George W. Bush?" His vehemence caused his fellow progressives to gather around and lean in, like kids on a playground who see a fight brewing.

Reluctant to see the dinner fall apart before drinks had been served, I sought to ease the tension. I said, gently, that I rarely found hatred a rational force in politics, but, who knows, perhaps this was a special case. And then I tried to change the subject.

But my dinner companion wouldn't allow it. "No," he said, angrily. "You started it. You make the case that it's not rational to hate Bush." I looked around the table for help. Instead, I found faces keen for my response. So, for several minutes, I held forth, suggesting that however wrongheaded or harmful to the national interest the president's policies may have seemed to my progressive colleagues, hatred tended to cloud judgment, and therefore was a passion that a citizen should not be proud of being in the grips of and should avoid bringing to public debate. Propositions, one might have thought, that would not be controversial among intellectuals devoted to thinking and writing about politics.

But controversial they were. Finally, another guest, a man I had long admired, an incisive thinker and a political moderate, cleared his throat, and asked if he could interject. I welcomed his intervention, confident that he would ease the tension by lending his authority in support of the sole claim that I was defending, namely, that Bush hatred subverted sound thinking. He cleared his throat for a second time. Then, with all eyes on him, and measuring every word, he proclaimed, "I . . . hate . . . the . . . way . . . Bush . . . talks."

Liberals not only love to hate; they are proud of their hatred.

Foreign policy from a child's point of view

One of the themes on this blog is how often people try to understand national or international problems through unsuccessful analogies to children in a family. Usually the perpetrator is a liberal (in the US sense). In this post, the perpetrator of this analogy is Mike Huckabee, current seeking the Republican nomination for president. Here, for example, is Gov. Huckabee explaining his Pakistan policy:
We have no desire whatsoever to ‘invade’ Pakistan, fight its forces, or harm its citizens. But we have an urgent need to pursue non-Pakistani terrorists who have declared war on us into this no man’s land. I greatly prefer to do it with Pakistan’s blessing and cooperation, but, one way or another, it has to get done. If we have to step onto their soil briefly to protect our own, so be it. As a child sometimes goes into a neighbor’s yard to collect a baseball hit over the fence, so we may be forced to go over the fence. [emphasis added]
Invading a foreign country, getting your baseball back: same thing, right?

From the same speech, here is an international-policy-is-just-like-a-family analogy:

We haven’t had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost thirty years, my whole adult life. A lot of good it’s done us! Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent or a sibling or a friend, it’s impossible to accomplish anything, impossible to resolve differences and move the relationship forward. The same is true for countries. [emphasis added]
The reason, of course, that we don't now have diplomats in Iran is that the last ones there were held hostage and tortured. Iran's position has little changed: One of the organizers of that attack is now president of Iran.

Here is another example of foreign policy thinking, although this is a little different because, here, Gov. Huckabee reasons by analogy to medical care before invoking familial obligations:

Cancer treatment can be rough, but the alternative is death. That’s how it is in Iraq: difficult as it is to stay, the consequences of leaving would be disastrous for the Iraqis, for the entire region, and for us. Those who say we don’t owe the Iraqis any more are ignoring what we owe our own children and grandchildren. We have to make our stand against Al Qaeda in Iraq and against Iranian expansionism there, and we have to make it now.
Previously, examples of liberals making national or international policy by analogy to childhood include Sen. Clinton's theory of economics which involves "calling for timeouts", and the New York Times' analysis of pre-World War II foreign policy in which the "children" (nations) needed to search for a "head of the family." Thinking-like-children also explains the appeal to Democrats of claiming victimization. (This may also be a consequence of unusually painful childhoods.)

But Gov. Huckabee is a Republican. On social issues, he is considered conservative. On economic issues, he is not: he opposes school choice and supports big government. This combination puts him closer to what is called 'right' in Europe rather than an American-style conservative.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

ICBM intercepted by a Jet-launched missile

The AFP reports a missile-defense success:
A US F-16 fighter used an air-to-air missile to destroy a sounding rocket in its boost phase for the first time this week in a test of a new missile defense concept, US spokesmen said Tuesday.

The system -- named the Net-Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCDE) -- breaks new ground in that it would arm fighter aircraft or drones with missiles fast enough to intercept a ballistic missile as it lifts into space.

The aircraft would have to get to within a 100 miles of the launch site to catch the ascending missile in the first two to three minutes after launch.

But it could be very useful in a short range combat situation against short and medium range missiles, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the US Missile Defense Agency.

The Pentagon has two other better known boost phase intercept systems under development -- the Airborne Laser and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor -- but those are still years away from being ready, he said.

For reliability, missile defense should be redundant with possible interceptions at boost-phase, mid-course, and terminal phase. This test was of a boost-phase system.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Democracy preserved?

Hugo Chavez's bid to modify the Venezuelan constitution so that he could become president for life appears to have failed with 51% opposed against 49% in favor. In Russia, Putin has taken a different approach to continued power:
MOSCOW (AP) - European election monitors said Monday that Russia's parliamentary ballot was unfair, hours after President Vladimir Putin's party swept 70 percent of the seats in the new legislature.

The victory paves the way for Putin to remain Russia's de facto leader even after he leaves office next spring.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Politics of Misery

Gallup reports that Republicans feel better about their mental health than Democrats. This is consistent with previous polls that show Republicans are happier, healthier, and wealthier. For how this affects a person's politics, consider Ms. Susan Estrich who was the manager of .Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign. As she explains in a column, she wants the next president to be a miserable failure. James Taranto summarizes from her column:

Think you've got problems? Consider the perils of Susan Estrich. Divorced, she has to eke out a living as a lawyer to support her two children. The demands of that job mean she doesn't get to see the kids as often as she likes. She is overweight and lacks the discipline to exercise regularly. Her house is a mess, and unethical rug cleaners wrecked her living-room floor.

Wait, it gets worse. Her nanny lacks medical insurance because the application form is too confusing for Estrich to fill out. Estrich herself has health care, but complications from a recent surgical procedure have her feeling worse than ever. Her kids are ungrateful. And she doesn't even have a boyfriend!

"Most days," Estrich writes in a column, "I feel like a failure at most of the things I try to do, and the only question is the matter of degree."

Clearly, she is presidential material.

Estrich isn't throwing her own hat into the ring, but the purpose of her column is to explain that she favors Hillary Clinton because Mrs. Clinton, like Estrich, falls well short of being a "superwoman":

A funny thing happens when she makes a misstep, takes a hit, becomes the target for a prolonged mass attack. Her numbers, especially among women, often go up. The chit chat you hear from regular women is that "they're after her," and even though, or rather especially because, that is the wrong thing for her to say publicly, it resonates even more strongly privately.

When Hillary is the perfect candidate, the superwoman in teflon, it's a little hard to connect. When she isn't, when she makes a mistake, takes a hit, when her face tells you she's ready to scream in frustation that the guys are never this tough on each other, a funny thing happens.

I know it's wrong, but it's when I like her best. I even imagine her sitting in a hotel room, the way I am now, beating herself up for all the things she did wrong today, and for all the things that went wrong even if she didn't do it. You go girl! We're with you.

It reminds us of a quote from Dick Gephardt, in a September 2003 debate:

This president is a miserable failure! He is a miserable failure! . . . He's a miserable failure on this issue! . . . This president is a miserable failure on foreign policy and on the economy! . . . Why would we want to keep anything of the Bush tax plan? It's a miserable failure!

Who'd have thought that four years later, being a miserable failure would be a selling point?

AP's hero worship

Ann Althouse unravels media spin on Sen. Clinton after the New Hampshire authorities dealt with the hostage crisis. According to one AP story, either Ms. Clinton was "the picture of calm in the face of crisis" or else she demonstrated warm endearing human emotions by suffering "bewilderment" and "confusion" during the crisis. Nothing says spin has to be consistent from one paragraph to the next.

UN Carbon Credit Fraud

At least a fifth of the UN's global warming carbon credits goes to projects which actually increase carbon emissions, says Reuters:
LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - One in five carbon credits issued by the United Nations are going to support clean energy projects that may in fact have helped to increase greenhouse gas emissions, environmental group WWF said on Thursday.

The United Nations runs a scheme under the Kyoto Protocol that allows rich nations to invest in clean energy projects in developing countries and in return receive certified emissions reduction credits (CERs) to offset their own emissions.

But WWF said in a report that the credits are being delivered to projects that would have gone ahead anyway, even without the extra incentive provided by U.N. approval under the scheme, called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). ....

"One out of five emissions reductions credits sold under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) lack environmental integrity," WWF said in a statement.

It said the problem damages the global carbon market, which is expected to more than double in value to around $70 billion this year.

"The CDM is a new and very important tool and needs to be fine-tuned to reach its purpose," Stephan Singer, head of WWF's European Climate Policy Unit, said in a statement.

Friday, November 30, 2007

NAACP defends racism

An Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal discusses the NAACP's defense of segregated schools:
In 1992, the Supreme Court held in U.S. v. Fordice that racially identifiable institutions of higher education in Mississippi were a holdover from the state's Jim Crow past. The plaintiffs wanted more state funding for historically black schools, but the court turned them down, seeing the ghost of "separate but equal."

... This prompted the NAACP, in the summer of 1994, to organize a civil-rights march to save Mississippi Valley State University. In a strange turn of events, the preservation of an allegedly "segregated" institution became a black cause.

"Peace" Democrats oppose "useless" war

The Democrats opposition to democracy in Iraq is quite similar to their opposition to the US Civil War to free the slaves, says Gateway Pundit.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Pericles dealt with hecklers

From Plutarch's Lives:
Once in the market he was abused and reviled for hours by an idle hooligan and uttered not a word in reply. The hooligan continued his tirade all the way to Pericles' home when darkness fell. Pericles sent out a servant with a lantern to escort the hooligan to his own home.
Who among our current crop of politicians would exhibit such dignity and courtesy?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Childish solutions

Sen. Clinton calls for a 'timeout' on new trade agreements:
"When I'm president we'll have a time out to take stock of where we are on trade," said Clinton, a senator from New York. "Every trade agreement has to be independently, objectively analyzed."
Sen. Clinton has also called for a forclosure timeout:
Senator Clinton recently announced an initiative to address the crisis in the subprime market, including increasing independent and face to face financial counseling for borrowers before they take out mortgages and .... a possible "foreclosure timeout" to create incentives for lenders to identify troubled mortgages and work out solutions with borrowers to avoid foreclosure.
One the one hand, calling for "timeouts" allows her to triangulate between the pro and con on any issue. This might be good politics, particularly for a front-runner who doesn't want to commit to positions during the primaries that might hurt her during the general election.

Timeouts make sense for kids because their brains take extra time to process new data. Adults, however, have studied free trade issues for centuries (Remember Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations). Bill Clinton (pro) and Ross Perot (con) debated free trade over a decade ago. If our distinguished Senators haven't yet made up their minds on the issue, more time will not help. It is interesting, though, that calling for timeouts continues the previously noted Democrat practice of trying to solve adult problems as if the adults were children.

Making the facts convenient

James Taranto notes a nuanced view of facts:
Today Post columnist Ruth Marcus devastates Times columnist Paul Krugman, whom she actually mentions by name. Marcus notes a Krugman column from last week in which the former Enron adviser pooh-poohs concerns about the solvency of Social Security.

"Somebody should introduce Paul Krugman to . . . Paul Krugman," she writes, citing a series of old Krugman columns in which he sounded alarms about the solvency of Social Security. The best one is from a book review that appeared in the Times in 1996, before Krugman was a columnist. He wrote:

Responsible adults are supposed to plan more than seven years ahead. Yet if you think even briefly about what the Federal budget will look like in 20 years, you immediately realize that we are drifting inexorably toward crisis; if you think 30 years ahead, you wonder whether the Republic can be saved.

As far as we know, Krugman has never explained why he changed his mind, but one has to suspect it is for the same reason that, say, John Edwards went from being an alarmist about Saddam Hussein to being complacent about the whole war on terror--that is, political expediency.

The Democrat's turnabouts on Social Security solvency, like their turnabouts on the Iraq war, seem breathtakingly irresponsible. It makes one think of the Islamists who believe that the Koran tells them to lie if it benefits their cause.

RELATED: Sen. Barack Obama endorses a neo-con foreign policy.

Bravely attacking safe targets

It has been widely noted that the left-wing media and commentators will "bravely" attack Pres. Bush but will not, say, publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons. The (London) Times reports that an award-winning English artist has taken the unusual step of admitting the obvious about such left-liberal bravery:
Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals.

Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works.

“I’ve censored myself,” Perry said at a discussion on art and politics organised by the Art Fund. “The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.”

Perry’s highly decorated pots can sell for more than £50,000 and often feature sex, violence and childhood motifs. One work depicted a teddy bear being born from a penis as the Virgin Mary. [emphasis added.]

While the left may claim that Christian "fundamentalist" "extremists" resemble the Taliban, somewhere inside, they do know the truth to be otherwise. A psychologist might call this displacement.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reasoning by Ad Hominem

Scott Johnson recalls a university lecture given by a National Socialist:
George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party who was assassinated by a former follower in 1967. ....I saw Rockwell speak in 1965 or 1966.... He drew a large crowd that packed the house of the University of Minnesota auditorium where I saw him speak. As I recall, he gave a stemwinder followed by a long question and answer period.

One of the students asked him a critical question regarding Hitler's actions, citing William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I vividly recall that Rockwell dismissed the question with the answer: "Shirer is a Jew."

This is an ad hominem argument: attacking a person while failing to respond to what that person said. It obviously is useful to provide emotional comfort and certainty to those whose views cannot withstand logical analysis.

Incidentally, Rockwell as wrong about Shirer's religion.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Our "moderate" enemies, II

Sir Ian Kershaw, a professor of modern (German) history at the University of Sheffield reviews how wrong British newspapers were about Hitler:

The Guardian thought on September 25 1930 that the exclusion of the Nazi party from Reich government, given its electoral success, was not in the best interests of German democracy and that their involvement would "in the long run ... help to perpetuate this democracy". ....

The Guardian maintained its view, however, that Hitler, "while full of the verbiage of revolution", was "no revolutionary leader". It claimed that he lacked courage, and that his baleful threats before the Leipzig court raised unnecessary fears, while his assurances of proceeding legally had hardly been noticed. It dismissed him on September 29 1930 as "the ranting clown who bangs the drum outside the National Socialist circus". Few things, the newspaper had remarked three days earlier, were less likely than that Hitler would gain sole power in Germany.

By 1932, as the crisis of German democracy deepened, British newspapers devoted far more attention to Nazism. Even now, however, underestimation of Hitler was commonplace. The Observer, still on February 21 1932 seeing Hitler as no more than a demagogue propped up by financially powerful nationalists, reversed course following his candidacy for the Reich presidency in March, when it wrote (March 20 1932) that it would be wrong to regard him "as a mere agitator and rank outsider". Here, as in the Guardian (which still implied on March 30 1932 that Hitler was no more than a charlatan), the emerging view was that he was a "moderate", who might possibly develop into a statesman, but could not control his own violent and unruly movement.

The press also warned against over-emphasizing the anti-semitism of this "moderate" leader:
The Observer, in its article on March 20 1932, hinted that attacks on Hitler's anti-semitism exaggerated the danger, adding: "It must not be forgotten that the major part of the German Republican Press is in Jewish hands."
The desire of liberals to believe the best our enemies repeats today as we are urged to give the benefit of a doubt to the to the moderate and pragmatic enemies like the mullocracy in Iran or urged to believe that "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is not really Al Qaeda.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Clinton Donor indicted

A big Democrat donor, Mauricio Celis, has been indicted on four counts: 1. falsely holding oneself as a lawyer, 2. impersonating a public servant, 3. state jail felony theft, 4. aggravated perjury. He has contributed over $415,000 to Democrats since 2002. Gateway Pundit has a round-up.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Those who love to hate, III

Michelle Malkin spots a case of a blogger at the Huffington Post imaging/projecting liberal faults onto conservatives and then attacking/hating them for those imagined faults:

A sanctimonious liberal (redundancy alert!) blogger excoriates various conservatives who all presumably own massive, gas-guzzling vehicles like the Ford F-150:

As the American economy falls to pieces, oil is hovering in the $100 per barrel range and gas prices are a few days away from shattering all-time high records. Forecasters are predicting that gas will surpass $3.22 per gallon by next week. Mad Money’s Jim Cramer told Chris Matthews last week that gas prices might top $4 per gallon within the next six weeks.

Even with this brutal economic news to serve as an incentive, will Michelle Malkin, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk sacrifice for the war effort by purchasing less Islamofascist gasoline for their Ford F-150 Microphalluses? No way. Too moonbatty. Devising new and hilariously clever agitprop words like “Defeatocrats” is clearly more patriotic than actually addressing the principle source of global and domestic instability: oil and gasoline.

The blogger, one Bob Cesca, published his post at the Huffington Post, founded by the Queen of gas-guzzling Gulfstream Liberals, Arianna Huffington. Yes, the same Arianna Huffington who was caught driving this Chevy Suburban beauty to get to the Sierra Club’s national summit in San Francisco a few years ago [picture omitted]

Ms. Malkin provides links to reports on what Ms. Huffington drives/flies (some links above, much more in her full post). By contrast, I found nothing in Bob Cesca's post or its links to indicate that he had made any effort to find out if the cars driven by the conservatives that he mentions actually guzzle more gas than Ms. Huffington's vehicles or whatever Mr. Cesca drives. Actual facts are irrelevant when one is making argument by projection.

Monday, November 12, 2007

UN warns of criminal irresponsibility!

The AP writes:
VALENCIA, Spain - The U.N.'s top climate official warned policymakers and scientists trying to hammer out a landmark report on climate change that ignoring the urgency of global warming would be "criminally irresponsible."

Yvo de Boer's comments came at the opening of a weeklong conference....

So, who is Yvo de Boer and what are his qualifications? According to the UN, he was appointed as the UN's top climate official by Kofi Annan and his background and education are presented as:
Born in Vienna, Yvo de Boer is married and has 3 children. As the son of a Dutch diplomat, he travelled the world extensively before entering boarding school in the United Kingdom and obtaining a technical degree in social work in the Netherlands.
So, the UN's top climate man who is assuring us about the certainty of the science has a degree in social work?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All the news that's convenient

The Al Dura trial in France is producing more and more evidence of complicity of the the Western media in presenting Palestinian propaganda and stage productions as if they were facts. As a France 3 journalist explains, fake news is normal:
“You know, I think this whole affair is dead in the water,” said a senior journalist at France 3 TV, Clement Weill Raynal, who is also a well-known contributor to Jewish media. “Karsenty is so shocked that fake images were used and edited in Gaza, but this happens all the time everywhere on television and no TV journalist in the field or a film editor would be shocked."

Previous admissions by US media that its foreign news was false are discussed here.

Venezuela's other major export: organized crime

Moises Naim writes about Venezuela under Hugo Chavez in an L A Times op-ed:
While this situation has so far been rather invisible to the rest of the world, it is patently clear to those in charge of fighting transnational crime. Anti-trafficking officials in Europe, the United States, Asia and other Latin American countries are paying unprecedented attention to Venezuela. These officials are not particularly interested in Venezuelan politics or in Chavez's policies. All they care about is that the tentacles of these global criminal networks are spreading from Venezuela into their countries with enormous power and at great speed.

The numbers speak volumes: About 75 tons of cocaine left Venezuela in 2003; it is estimated that 276 tons will leave the country this year. Before, the main destination was the United States; now, Europe is increasingly the target. Italy and Spain are two new important and lucrative end-user markets, ....

A senior Dutch police officer told me that he and his European colleagues are spending more time in Caracas than in Bogota, Colombia, and that the heads of many of the major criminal cartels now operate with impunity, and effectiveness, from Venezuela. The cartel bosses aren't exclusively Colombians -- there are Asians (especially Chinese) and Europeans too. ....

Venezuela appears near the top of lists compiled by the anti-money-laundering authorities as well. Money moves in and out, and not just through electronic inter-bank transfers. The combination of private jets, suitcases full of cash and diplomatic immunity has opened up new possibilities. ....

A group of Venezuelans had engineered the sale of Iranian arms and munitions to his country, using Venezuelan companies as a cover to bypass the U.N. embargo on Iran's arms trade. Likewise, the guerrillas in Colombia seem to have no trouble acquiring weapons -- many of which come through Venezuela-based arms dealers. ....

Diamond traders are doing equally well. "Venezuela is allowing massive smuggling of diamonds," stated a recent report by Global Witness and Partnership Africa, two respected nongovernmental organizations.

John Hinderaker writes "Communism is, in essence, rule by a criminal gang. So it shouldn't be a surprise that Hugo Chavez is turning Venezuela into a haven for international crime."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

War of the Worlds, for real?

A space shuttle experiment has found that some bacteria become more lethal after spending time growing in space's zero-gravity.

Environmentalism visits the moon

Author Andrew Smith is concerned about "plundering the moon." There is some speculation about mining He-3 on the moon for use as a fuel for nuclear fusion on Earth. Compared to other power sources, such as coal or nuclear fission, He-3 would, if practical, be an environment boon. However, environmentalist Andrew Smith sees a downside:
Earth's sister [i.e. the moon] has played a role in teaching us to value our environment: how extraordinary to think that the next giant leap for the environmental movement might be a campaign to stop state-sponsored mining companies chomping her up in glorious privacy, a quarter of a million miles from our ravaged home.
On Earth, the environmentalists talk about our "fragile" ecological system and the "delicate balance" of nature. By contrast, the moon has no eco-system and no delicate balance: it is a lifeless barren rock. That environmentalists would be concerned about it, I think, reveals their agenda less as pro-environment and more as anti-man.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In government, we trust, II

Over at DailyKos, Kos complains about the difficulty that he has had dealing with the massive bureaucracy at Blue Shield over paying an out-of-network anesthesiologist. As a liberal, he, of course, expects that huge government-run bureaucracies, like HillaryCare, would be friendlier. If the problem is a bureaucratic run-around, the solution would hardly seem to be a larger bureaucracy.

He asks "[h]ow could a government-run service be any worse than these unaccountable, unethical, disgusting creeps?" Well, for one, he didn't have to leave the country to get care. Also, they didn't poison him. Yes, government-run systems can be worse.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lies that feel good

John Hinderaker writes:
It is the luxury of knowing they are bullshitting that allows American liberals to claim that their freedoms are going up in smoke and that dissent is being suppressed, when in fact, "dissent" is socially mandated in polite society from Manhattan to Marin County.

I would add this parallel: any survey of Europeans you look at will say that they think the United States is the biggest danger to world peace, worse than North Korea or the Islamofascists. But they don't mean it. If they did, they would be clamoring for their own countries to re-arm. But the very people who claim to believe that the U.S. is bent on world domination are the same ones who don't want their own governments to spend a dollar on defense. They are entirely content to let us keep the peace. Which means that what they tell pollsters about threats to world peace, like what liberals say about threats to their civil liberties, is, to put it politely, disingenuous.

2007: Lowest hurricane activity in 30 years

According to the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University:
Unless a dramatic and perhaps historical flurry of activity occurs in the next 9 weeks, 2007 will rank as a historically inactive TC year for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole. During the past 30 years, only 1977, 1981, and 1983 have had less activity to date (January-TODAY, Accumulated Cyclone Energy). However, the year is not over...
In An inconvenient Truth, Al Gore blamed Hurricane Katrina on global warming which was supposed to cause ever increasing hurricane activity. How long do you think it will be before the media is promoting a new story about lack of hurricances being proof of global warming? Or will they simply switch to global warming causing Santa Ana wind induced fires instead?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In government we trust

HillaryCare update from the UK Telegraph:
Record numbers of Britons are flying abroad for medical treatment to escape NHS waiting lists and the rising threat of hospital superbugs.

Thousands of "health tourists" are going as far as India, Malaysia and South Africa for major operations – such is their despair over the quality of health services.

The first survey of Britons opting for treatment overseas shows that fears of hospital infections and frustration with NHS waiting lists are fuelling the increasing trend.

More than 70,000 Britons will have treatment abroad this year – a figure that is forecast to rise to almost 200,000 by the end of the decade.

Hat tip Bookworm Room.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The possibilities are endless

On Air America, Randi Rhodes proposes that maybe Blackwater is behind the San Diego arson. She is not alone in this belief.

Why do we pay taxes?

According to the Washington Post, some environmentalists are upset at some of the cost of fighting fires in southern California:
Some of the areas hit hardest by this week's fires are near Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County. The area is thick with vacation homes, a sore spot for environmentalists who complain that federal taxpayers foot the bill for protecting houses near national forests.

"These smoke jumpers drop out of the sky miraculously to fight the fire for you, so there's incentive for county commissioners and land use departments to withhold the permitting of homes," said Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics. He was reached in Washington, where he was presenting a study showing that 50 to 95 percent of Forest Service firefighting costs went to protect private property. [emphasis added]

Taxes should be raised, Democrats say, because the government "needs" the money to provide us with services such as police and fire. It turns out, though, that, while Democrats are always enthusiastic about higher taxes, they resent the fact, here anyway, that a portion of the money is spent providing services for taxpayers.

They might be happy, however, if more money were spent preventing either the government or private homeowners from building firebreaks or otherwise managing the fire risk around their homes.

Liberal racism

Democrats just can't help themselves but to see everything in racial terms as Sen. Biden does here as reported by the Washington Post:
After a lengthy critique of Bush administration education policies, Biden attempted to explain why some schools perform better than others -- in Iowa, for instance, compared with the District. "There's less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you're dealing with," Biden said.
The Biden campaign clarified this saying that by "what you're dealing with," the good senator meant "nutrition" and "pre-K," not race.

Is BDS worth paying for?

Don Surber speculates on whether the New York Times might be up for sale. One of his commenters, "Yorick," captures what I think it the problem with the current MSM business model:
I usually bought a NYT Sunday edition, which would supply bathroom reads for the week. I did this even though I was quite aware of the bias and seldom read the editorial page. Then I needed to know the dynamics behind the sub prime thing and real estate bubble on account of I own a property and need to make an informed decision. I went to buy the Times and then realized that whatever was written there would be slanted to game the ‘08 election and was therefore worthless. Haven’t even been tempted to buy a copy since.
Opinions, bias, and BDS are cheap. If newspapers are going to convince people to pay for subscriptions over the long run, they need, in my opinion, to provide news that is reliable enough to bank on.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The spin keeps turning

The New York Times' Healthy Living blog says that ketchup is a vegetable:
Switching to organic is tough for many families who don’t want to pay higher prices or give up their favorite foods. But by choosing organic versions of just a few foods that you eat often, you can increase the percentage of organic food in your diet without big changes to your shopping cart or your spending. ....

4. Ketchup: For some families, ketchup accounts for a large part of the household vegetable intake. About 75 percent of tomato consumption is in the form of processed tomatoes, including juice, tomato paste and ketchup. Notably, recent research has shown organic ketchup has about double the antioxidants of conventional ketchup.

25 years ago, the Times claimed that only evil Reagan-Republicans would think such "heartless foolishness."

Big brother wants to watch you

Italy's Council of Ministers approved a draft of the Levi-Prodi law which would require "anyone with a blog or a website has to register it with the ROC, a register of the Communications Authority, produce certificates, pay a tax, even if they[sic.] provide information without any intention to make money." The law will not take effect unless/until it is approved by Italy's parliament.

Risk assessment and the human mind

Bruce Schneier, a computer security consultant, finds that people do a poor job of assessing computer security risks. Rather than blaming the problem on poor training that computer users received from computer consultants, he blames it on human nature. He writes:
  • People exaggerate spectacular but rare risks and downplay common risks. They worry more about earthquakes than they do about slipping on the bathroom floor, even though the latter kills far more people than the former. ....
  • People have trouble estimating risks for anything not exactly like their normal situation. Americans worry more about the risk of mugging in a foreign city, no matter how much safer it might be than where they live back home. ....
  • Personified risks are perceived to be greater than anonymous risks. Joseph Stalin said, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” ....
  • People underestimate risks they willingly take and overestimate risks in situations they can’t control. When people voluntarily take a risk, they tend to underestimate it. When they have no choice but to take the risk, they tend to overestimate it. Terrorists are scary because they attack arbitrarily, and from nowhere. Commercial airplanes are perceived as riskier than automobiles, because the controls are in someone else’s hands -- even though they’re much safer per passenger mile. ....
  • Last, people overestimate risks that are being talked about and remain an object of public scrutiny. News, by definition, is about anomalies. Endless numbers of automobile crashes hardly make news like one airplane crash does. The West Nile virus outbreak in 2002 killed very few people, but it worried many more because it was in the news day after day.
He has some valid points. I think that he misses a subtlety on personified threats: Conservatives tend to focus on personified threats (Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, Pol Pot) which liberals tend to minimize. On the other hand, liberals focus on unseen/anonymous threats (global warming, the coming ice age, acid rain) of which conservatives tend to be skeptical.

On some points, he appears to miss the boat. For example, he writes:

The final death toll from 9/11 was less than half of the initial estimates, but that didn’t make people feel less at risk.
The reason to take the terrorist threat seriously is not the death toll of 9-11. Rather, it is the possibility that similarly determined terrorists may sneak a nuclear bomb across our borders.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's 6pm: Do you know where your talk show host is?

Air America host Randi Rhodes explains (hat tip: MM; story background here.) what happened to her last Sunday at 6pm:
I was watching football at an Irish Pub and I went out to smoke a cigarette and the next thing I knew I was on the cement face-down.... I hadn't eaten anything all day.
Drinking on an empty stomach and she ends up face down? That may be painful but it is not necessarily mysterious or surprising. (Aside: why is she still smoking? The Surgeon General's report came out four decades ago.) Why did she initially claim that she was mugged? She had to e-mail her employer that she wouldn't be at work Monday:
I didn't know how to explain finding myself in this position after a beautiful day in NYC so went I wrote what I thought was the best explanation
So she decided to blame someone else, a "mugger." How liberal not to take responsibility. One thing about this episode and the media coverage bothered her:
The saddest part to me was no one ask me if I was alright.
A strange complaint coming from someone who has done her part to coarsen public discourse: she is the recipient of a complaint from the Anti-Defamation League that she belittled the holocaust. She is also the one who claimed that Pres. Bush "gets joy out of the [Hurricane Katrina victims] dying, because they are Democrat voters." Her complaints about the media continue:
The fact that some of you were so rude to my building staff who loves me is just disgraceful.
Yes, Ms. Rhodes' building staff loves her. To her credit, her claim is much more modest than Evita Peron's or Hillary Clinton's more all encompassing claims to be "grateful for the love of the people."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Unintended consequences

According to the Wall Street Journal, the passage of McCain-Feingold somehow didn't remove money from politics:
WASHINGTON -- The bundling of political donations once was an innocuous play in the game book of Washington political operatives. Now, the fund-raising practice has grown so widespread, and some of its practitioners so brazen, that bundling has become the chief source of abuse in the American campaign-finance system.

The strange case of Norman Hsu, the textile-importer-turned-fugitive who cobbled together $800,000 in contributions for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, is the tip of the iceberg. Candidates for offices from county commissioner to U.S. president are increasingly turning to bundlers -- individuals who ask friends, family and business associates for contributions to their candidate of choice -- to help bring in the tremendous amounts of cash now needed to wage political campaigns.....

In this high-pressure, low-disclosure environment, the practice has increasingly evolved into a method for disguising illegal donations. In several cases already this year, campaign bundlers have admitted to making contributions in the names of others to get around caps, or coercing employees to give.

The natural result of passing a complex new law is the creation of complex new ways to get around that law.

Is the environment is only harmed by things that are 'scary'?

The LA Times writes that, according to the UN, livestock contribute more to global warming than all transportation put together:
A report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization identified livestock as one of the two or three top contributors to the world's most serious environmental problems, including water pollution and species loss. In terms of climate change, livestock are a threat not only because of the gases coming from their stomachs and manure but because of deforestation, as land is cleared to make way for pastures, and the amount of energy needed to produce the crops that feed the animals.

All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. -- more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet. And it's going to get a lot worse. As living standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for meat and dairy.

Will world governments take action? I doubt it. Enviro-disaster scenarios that excite the popular imagination are usually related to industrial machinery and particularly power conversion machinery. Examples include nuclear power, acid rain, fluorocarbon-ozone and, most recently, global warming. Food-scares usually involve the food as poison with the poison part usually due to industrialization, such as "fast food" or the use of alar on apples. Scare mongers are unlikely to get excited about cow effluents, no matter how real or important, as long as the out-gassing is "natural." If cow-belching could be blamed, say, on an industrial chemical additive to their feed, then the scare mongers just might take it seriously.

Those who love to hate, II

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) comments on Pres. Bush's support of funding for the military:
But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if he can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement....

The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up in Iraq, ....

The idea that US soldiers are killed in Iraq "for the President’s amusement" is pure fantasy. The psychology of it seems strikingly similar to Tuesday's outburst by Air America host Jon Elliott who invented a fantasy about his co-host being attacked and injured by "right-wing, hate machine" muggers. I submit that imagining/fantasizing that their political opponents to be pure evil makes liberals, such as Stark and Elliott, feel better about themselves. In such a fantasy world, the liberal's cause is just and he need have no self-doubts. This makes him free to ignore all the complicated issues and nagging questions that occur when issues are addressed in a serious adult manner.
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