Friday, September 28, 2007

Bias in the Spanish-language media

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Leslie Sanchez sees a persistent by Spanish-TV network Univision against Republicans:
If [Republican's] views were presented fairly, it's likely that Republicans would connect with Hispanic voters. That may be why the network's news coverage often downplays issues that make Hispanics dislike Democrats (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes) and sensationalizes the immigration issue as a way of demonizing Republicans -- even those who are not anti-immigrant.

Rudy Giuliani, who is attacked by some for making New York a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants during his time as mayor, was blasted as anti-inmigrante in a recent op-ed by star reporter Maria Elena Salinas on Univision's Web site. Apparently the mayor earned the label because he was tough on crime and supports border security, notwithstanding the fact that he carried 43% of New York City's Hispanic vote (a bloc that tends to be heavily Democratic) when he ran for re-election in 1997.
She also finds that they mis-represent the positions taken by Democrats to make them look better to Hispanics:
John Edwards has not taken a definitive position on abortion. Hillary Clinton's position on the issue is that "she will fight for the defense of children." And Barack Obama wants taxes to be "as low as possible."

Each of these statements is misleading, at best. Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton support "a woman's right to choose" and Mr. Obama wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But on Univision, a Spanish-language TV network with an average prime-time audience of about 3.5 million viewers, these and other slanted statements about the presidential candidates are commonplace.
Univision must use the same fact-checkers as Dan Rather.

US 1, NY Times 0

The US killed another high-ranking Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Usama al-Tunisi. Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson explained that "Al-Tunisi was a leader in helping bring foreign terrorists into the country."

The party line at the New York Times is that this group is a "homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group" that "is not part of the Qaeda network." That might be why the New York Times buried mention of al Tunisi in paragraph 17 of their story, the only NYT story on al Tunisi according to a google news search, and then omit all mention of his being foreign and his recruiting foreign terrorists.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us."

Apparently Chelsea Clinton posed for a photo with Nino Selimaj, the owner of New York city restaurant, which Mr. Selimaj now displays in his front window. Douglas J. Band, Counselor to President Clinton, wrote to him:
[W]e ask that you immediately remove that picture and any and all pictures displaying Ms. Clinton. We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us if you refuse to comply
In foreign policy, Democrats are continually telling us to act nice, speak diplomatically, and take threats "off the table." However, here, when presented with something where being nice to Mr. Selimaj might actually have worked and, instead, they threaten "to exercise any and all options." It often seems that there is a large gap between the policies that Democrats advocate and the policies that they actually pursue in their own lives.

Something similar happens with the minimum wage: Democrats advocate it strongly in public but their own organizations don't actually pay it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"My name is Shiri Negari”

Bollinger's delusion and the madness of liberals

Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, spoke with Iranian president Ahmadinejad on Monday. Hugh Hewitt notes one of Bollinger's peculiar ideas:
President Bollinger suggested that Ahmadinejad's speech to the Council on Foreign relations last year led to Ahmadienjad's party losing local elections, thus indulging the twin absurdities that Iranian elections are free and that open and sustained debate occurs over the airwaves which can use Ahmadinejad's speeches against him to win elections. "May this do that and more," intoned Bollinger. Talk about cluelessness combined with epic self-importance.
The cluelessness is, in part, because liberals believe, unless they catch themselves, that all countries are alike. If they believe the same of the US, then the idea that the Iranian government is subject to overthrow by popular elections that benefit from free speech is natural and instinctive.

This is of a piece with the liberal belief that all nations share a vision of generous human rights (except, of course, for the temporary bad example of the US under Geo. Bush). Bizarrely, liberals also expect terrorists to share a similar idealism. Sen Murray (D-WA) even imagines that bin Laden shares her dreams about building health care facilities and providing day care.

Bollinger also said that Ahmadinejad was "exhibit[ing] all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." Liberals would likely regard this as just another similarity between Iran and the US: Bollinger is likely imagining that Pres. Ahmadinejad as playing the same role in Iran that, in their minds, Pres. Geo. Bush plays in the US.

UPDATE: The Islamic Republic News Agency reports that Ahmadinejad received a "standing ovation" and Columbia and "[t]he audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises." What was Bollinger really expecting them to report?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The real 9-11 conspiracy exposed!

In Arthur Magazine, Douglas Rushkoff develops a new 9-11 conspiracy theory. He starts by throwing cold water on the existing 9-11 truther theories:
I have to admit that I do this with some trepidation. I can already feel the assault on my inbox. But after a good long think about potential time and energy being lost by our entire community to senseless and ultimately inconsequential musings, I have to come out and say it: the alternative theories about 9-11 are wrong. Worse, the endless theorizing and speculation about trajectories, explosives, military tests, fake airplane parts and remote control navigation actually distracts some of our best potential activists from addressing the more substantive matters at hand.
Then he hypothesizes that there is a government conspiracy to create 9-11 conspiracy theories:
9-11 theorists are unwittingly performing as the unpaid minions of the administration’s propaganda wing. (At least most of them are unpaid; no doubt, some of the loudest are working as contractors for the same agencies whose activities they pretend to deconstruct.)
So, there you have it: the "loudest" 9-11 truthers are actually paid by the government "as contractors" to spread 9-11 conspiracy theories for the purpose of diverting "our best potential activists" from discovering the real and "substantive" issues.

Mr. Rushkoff does not present a single example of a government-paid 9-11 truther to support his theory. But evidence is evidently not the point: conspiracy theories must serve some psychological purpose of their own, something unrelated to the quest for truth.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A brief history of the "unbiased" news media

For most of America's history, as in Europe to this day, the news media were reasonably honest about their partisanship. We have, however, had a period of several decades during which newsmen pretended to be "unbiased." Why did this happen? Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. has a theory. He attributes it to the rise of radio in the 1920s and the decision of the US government not to auction off radio frequencies but rather to license and regulate radio stations. License renewal required government approval. To be achieve approval, radio stations and, later, TV stations had to claim to be operating in the public interest. From this came the convenient claim that their news was "unbiased." In practice, of course, this meant that news was biased in a way that government bureaucrats would approve of. Newspapers, while not subject to the same licensing procedure, found such a claim good marketing and adopted it as well.

Recently, two things changed. First, the fairness doctrine was repealed. This enabled radio, mostly AM radio, to create a talk format that offered new voices and attracted a large audience. Second, the internet also allowed many new and unregulated news voices to be heard. This included news aggregators such as the Drudge Report and opinion sites such as Instapundit. One thing that these sources have made obvious is the fraudulence of the legacy news media's claim to be "unbiased."

I believe that liberals honestly believe that they can present "unbiased" news. This is because liberals believe that their world view is the only correct world view: no balancing is necessary. Consequently, I expect that their news outlets will continue to claim to be "unbiased" for a long time to come.

Liberal tolerance and diversity

In addition to Iranian president Ahmadinejad, Dean John Coatsworth says Columbia University would "certainly" invite Adolph Hitler to discuss his views at Columbia if he were in New York. This is likely true because Columbia did invite Nazi Germany's ambassador to speak at Columbia in 1933. On the other hand, ROTC is not allowed on the Columbia U. campus, supposedly because of Clinton's don't-ask-don't-tell policy. Contrast that with Hitler's Nazi Germany and Ahmadinejad's Iran which both imposed capital punishment on gays and you can begin to see clearly the liberal concepts of morality, tolerance, and diversity.

Practical solar power is still a ways away

The Economist claims that solar power is making a comeback:
The first large CSP [Concentracted Solar Power] plant to be built since the 1980s went online in June in Nevada: it will generate 64 megawatts.
It's electricity is expected to cost a whopping 17 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to as low as 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt-hour for coal-power. Coal power is dirty but how many consumers, even committed environmentalists, would be willing to have their electric bills raised that much?

Solar has its own environmental problems. Take, for example, the previous CSP plant, built in the 1980s. It produces even electricity for a small town (90,000 homes) but the plant itself fully occupies four square miles. When environmentalists start to figure all the environmental cost to the ecosystem for both plants and animals of converting that much open land to use as a power plant, solar will look a lot less attractive.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NASA scientists predict coming ice age

As reported by the Washington Times:
NASA scientist James E. Hansen, who has publicly criticized the Bush administration for dragging its feet on climate change and labeled skeptics of man-made global warming as distracting "court jesters," appears in a 1971 Washington Post article that warns of an impending ice age within 50 years.

"U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming," blares the headline of the July 9, 1971, article, which cautions readers that the world "could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts."

The scientist was S.I. Rasool, a colleague of Mr. Hansen's at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The article goes on to say that Mr. Rasool came to his chilling conclusions by resorting in part to a new computer program developed by Mr. Hansen that studied clouds above Venus.

For more on James Hansen, Al Gore's favorite scientist, see here, here, here, and here.

Hat tip Newsbusters and Ed Driscoll.

RELATED: Pref. S. Fred Singer and colleagues have assembled a bibliography of peer-reviewed scientific papers from over 500 scientists whose findings run counter to global warming orthodoxy.

Same old healthcare ideas, new tactics

The Wall Street Journal editorializes on Sen. Clinton's new health care plan:
[T]he private insurance industry would be restructured with far more stringent regulations. Mrs. Clinton would require nationally "guaranteed issue," which means insurers have to offer policies to all applicants. She would also command "community rating," which prohibits premium differences based on health status.

Both of these have raised costs enormously in the states that require them (such as New York), ....

Mrs. Clinton and Ira Magaziner headed a health-care task force with more than 500 members that eventually produced 1,342 numbing pages of proposals. It's hardly surprising this boondoggle died without so much as a Congressional vote.

Yet Mrs. Clinton insisted that the public had been spooked by Rush Limbaugh, an article in a marginal political journal and advertising campaigns such as "Harry and Louise." In other words, the lessons she learned were political, not substantive.

In the liberal mind, it is impossible for there to be "substantive" issues with a liberal plan because the liberal has (self-proclaimed) good intentions. So, naturally, the lessons that Sen. Clinton learned were political not substantive.

Racism at Jena High School

Bin Laden watch

Today (Sept. 20), a new al Qaeda video was released. According to Breitbart, the tape contains no new video of bin Laden:
Bin Laden's voice was heard over video showing previously released footage of the terror leader.
According to the AP, it is not clear if even the bin Laden audio is new:
The latest video included audiotapes from bin Laden, but it was not immediately clear if they were new, said IntelCenter, a U.S. counterterrorism group that monitors militant messaging and first uncovered the video.
The substance of the tape seems to be the usual anti-Crusader rhetoric.

UPDATE: Ace of Spades links to a fake bin Laden video, one that appears to be much higher quality than the "real" ones.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Modern racism

The State reports:
[Rev. Jesse] Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La. Jackson, who also lives in Illinois, endorsed Obama in March, according to The Associated Press. [emphasis added]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Paralysis in the US

Bank robbers usually wear sunglasses and hats. Banks are asking the federal government to create a dress code for banks that prohibits them. Why is federal action required? Why don't banks just have their dress codes. Eric at ClassicalValues discusses the problem:
Unfortunately, I can see why. Banks (like most businesses) are not free to do things like enact their own dress codes for customers. Think about it. Customer walks in wearing a hat and sunglasses. The guard or the clerk tells him it's against the bank's dress code. Angry scene erupts, in which the authority of the employee is challenged, and he is subjected to insults. The bank manager then has to step in and explain that it is the bank's policy, etc. If they're lucky, the ill-attired customer will merely leave (and maybe take his account to a competing bank which does not have the dress code). If they're not lucky, the customer will go straight to the ACLU and file some sort of civil rights lawsuit. So, there's no question that implementing such a dress code would tend to create many unpleasant scenarios.

But with a federal law, the banks could point to signs reciting the law, and it would be a situation of "Our hands are tied!"

I'm not blaming the banks for wanting a legal solution. My complaint is with a society that has become so paralyzed that individuals and businesses are increasingly unable take any individual initiative.

A federal dress-code regulation is a perverse bureaucratic solution to a problem that formerly would have been solved by individual business owners.

Separately, on August 18, two NY firemen died in a building, the old Deutsche Bank Building near ground zero, that should have been demolished years ago. John Fund provides the background:

For years, black mesh fabric hung down its 40 stories. The top 14 stories seem to have gone away by magic, so small are the signs of human movement around the building.

The building, however, is not inert. The former Deutsche Bank building, now officially 130 Liberty Street, is, almost literally, a beehive of activity. Operating under a deconstruction implementation plan mandated in 2005 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 130 Liberty's interior has been transformed into arguably the most elaborate "abatement and deconstruction" project in the history of demolition. Once it was decided that the building had been irretrievably poisoned by dust from the collapse across the street of the World Trade Center towers in 2001, it entered a netherworld of fear defined by some familiar words: asbestos, dioxin, PCBs.

The deconstruction is mostly an afterthought to neutralizing public anxieties, and probably class-action lawsuits. Indeed, the detail and meticulousness of the clean-up is the primary reason that since 2005, the workers inside, wearing spaceman suits, have dismantled only 14 floors, with the projected cost rising to an estimated $177 million, up from $75 million.

What both these examples, sunglasses in banks and the 130 Liberty clean-up, have in common is the unwillingness of individuals or organizations involved to make decisions. This is understandable because, in the current culture, anyone or anything that takes responsiblity becomes a target, both a political target and a legal target. Being a political target is not that serious: most of the time politicians justs through mud. Being a legal target can be extremely costly. Anyone who took responsibility for any sensible demolition plan for 130 Liberty would be a target for any contingency-fee lawyer who had a client who claimed dust from the demolition caused him to cough. So, 9/11 reconstruction costs escalate and firemen continue to die just so that no one has to take responsibility.

As long as the US legal system resembles a game of roulette, we can expect the paralysis only to grow.

Reporter honor roll

According to Stuart Taylor, Jr and K. C. Johnson's book on the Duke lacrosse non-rape case, "Until Proven Innocent," as summarized by John Leo, there were some responsible journalists:
The notably fair and accurate journalists who covered the case (a short list) included Dan Abrams of MSNBC, Chris Cuomo of Good Morning America, Kurt Anderson of New York Magazine, Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes and the first New York Times reporter, Joe Drape, who was taken off the story shortly after concluding that the alleged rape looked like a hoax.
Well, the New York Times does have reputation to uphold.

Hsu update

Yesterday, the New York Times profiled Norman Hsu, the Democratic fundraiser who is now in Colorado awaiting extradition to California:
[NormanHsu] gave generously, showering money on a wide array of national, state and local politicians. But he stood out in the symbiotic world of campaign finance because he appeared to want nothing in return other than a few powerful friends, according to Democratic fund-raisers in New York and California who knew him. [emphasis added.]
Much more informative reporting is being put together at the Suitably Flip blog. See, for example, here and here.

Hsu's recent checks have been bouncing while his business investors are missing at least $40 million in funds. While Hsu appeared to run many businesses, it is not clear if even one was legitimate. 99.96% of Hsu's contributions were to Democrats. In this story, there are far more questions than answers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Liberals as victims

Paul Krugman explains his view of recent history:
Fourth, the lesson of the past six years is that Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic no matter what the Democrats do. Democrats gave Mr. Bush everything he wanted in 2002; their reward was an ad attacking Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, that featured images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Krugman's claim that Democrats "gave Mr. Bush everything he wanted," is anti-historical. As Tom Maguire explains in detail, Democrats were obstructionist that year, a fact that Republicans were able to capitalize on in the mid-term elections.

Krugman's new version of history, however, will have strong appeal to liberals because is allows them to pose as victims.

One might think that US senators would want to pose as movers and shakers who make history. Instead, Sen. Schumer and Sen. Edwards are both happy to pose as victims. Something in the liberal psyche makes victim status not something to be avoided but something that is not only acceptable but pleasing. Liberals see victim status as key to criminal justice (see here and here and here and here) and to economics (see here and here). One possibility is that liberals enjoy accepting victim status as it frees them from responsibility.

The positive side of genocide

Mark Finkelstein quotes a "Today" program interview of Sen. Obama by David Gregory:

DAVID GREGORY: You heard Secretary Rice say there is progress in Iraq that cannot be ignored. She spoke about when, not if, the United States prevails in Iraq. Do you see it that way?

BARACK OBAMA: I think it's important to understand that after two days of testimony [by Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker], here's the bottom line: that having put an additional 30,000 troops in, and continued the same course we were on, we are now back to the horrendous levels of violence that we were back in June of 2006.

So there's no doubt that we've seen some measured progress in Anbar province, primarily because the Sunni tribal leaders made a political decision there that they would work with the coalition forces. We've seen a very modest reduction of violence in Baghdad, partly because entire neighborhoods have essentially been ethnically cleansed. Those are all positive things, but we are now back at the levels of violence we were 18 months ago. [emphasis from Finkelstein]

It seems to me that Sen. Obama, who recently claimed that genocide was unimportant, should be more careful about leaving the impression that the thinks of ethnic cleansing as a "positive thing."

Our broken immigration system

US Musical tours by British musician are being cancelled due to immigration visa problems, reports the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, foreign music acts need a "P-1" class visa to get in the US. To get such a visa, the musicians must prove to a US bureaucrat "that they have been 'internationally recognized' for a 'sustained and substantial' amount of time." This is not easy for new and trendy acts. British pop star Lily Allen failed to achieve P-1 status and was therefore denied a visa to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Ms. Allen's mistake was that she tried to apply legally. If she had just crossed the border illegally undocumented, Pres. Bush and others in Washington would want to offer her not merely a travel visa but full citizenship.

Previous leftist-terrorist alliances

The Wall Street Journal reports on ties in the 1980s between the East German secret police (Stasi) and terrorism in the West:

The Stasi sympathized with the anti-capitalist ideals of the Red Army Faction, but Stasi leaders were concerned about placing their trust in a group of uncontrollable leftist militants, a review of Stasi records shows. Stasi officials did not want to tarnish East Germany's international reputation, so they toyed with different concepts for cooperation with terrorist groups, according to a prosecutor who has investigated Stasi involvement with terrorism.

One suggestion, contained in a document prepared for new officers assigned to the unit, was to emulate Romanian intelligence, which successfully worked with the terrorist "Carlos" to bomb the Radio Free Europe office in Munich, Germany, in 1981. To assist in such operations, the [Stasi's] Wartin unit developed highly specialized explosives, poisons and miniature firearms.

About 1980 the Stasi also proposed a second strategy: instead of using a terrorist group directly -- such cooperation always contained risk of discovery -- they could simply execute attacks so similar to those of known terrorists that police would never look for a second set of suspects, according to Wartin records. The Wartin leadership called this strategy the "perpetrator principle," according to Stasi records. The unit's progress in implementing the steps to imitate terrorist attacks is described in a series of progress reports by Wartin officials between 1980 and 1987.

In September 1981, Red Army Faction terrorists attempted to kill U.S. Gen. James Kroesen in Heidelberg, Germany, shooting a bazooka at his car. About the same time, members of the same Red Army Faction team visited East Germany, where they were asked by the Stasi to shoot a bazooka at a car containing a dog. The dog died, according to court records.

In Wartin, officials wrote up a detailed description of the Red Army Faction members' re-enactment of the Kroesen attack. "It is important to collect all accessible information about the terrorist scene in imperialist countries, to study and analyze their equipment, methods and tactics, so we can do it ourselves," a senior Wartin official wrote in February 1982, according to the report.

German prosecutors suspect that the Stasi succeeded in carrying out assassinations in the West, possibly including the Nov. 1989 assassination of Mr. Herrhausen, the chairman of one of Europe's most powerful companies, Deutsche Bank, while laying blame on other terror groups.

It is fortunate for us that Al Qaeda terror operations, so far anyway, lack the sophistication of the Stasi.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who wants to be the last to die for a regulation?

There is an interesting letter to the Wall Street Journal today on the subject of auto gas mileage regulations, known as corporate average fuel economy standard (CAFE):

Higher government fuel economy standards for vehicles aren't only a royal waste of money, they're also a killer regulation -- literally. Current CAFE standards increase traffic deaths by restricting the production of larger, more crash-worthy cars; according to a 2002 National Research Council study, CAFE contributes to about 2,000 deaths per year. This toll will get even worse if these standards are made more stringent. But while proponents drone on endlessly about how raising CAFE would reinvigorate the auto industry and save the planet, they never once mention the fact that it would make driving more dangerous. In short, CAFE is a blood-for-oil regulatory war, waged on civilians.

Sam Kazman
General Counsel
Competitive Enterprise Institute

If Mr. Kazman's statistic is true, then far more Americans are dying each year from CAFE than from fighting in the Iraq war.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Climate disaster predicted

Under the heading of environmental news, Reuters reports that disaster is coming:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global warming could send world agriculture into serious decline by 2080 with productivity collapsing in some developing countries while it improves in a few rich nations, a study reported on Wednesday.
So, what climate expertise is behind this study? The next paragraph reveals:
India, Pakistan, most of Africa and most of Latin America would be hit hardest, said economist William Cline, the study's author.
So, the study's author, Dr. William Cline of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, is not a climate scientist or any other kind of hard scientist: he is an economist.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Liars vs. the perfect world

A Wall Street Journal editorial comments on the lowered state of political debate in the US:
Important as was yesterday's appearance before Congress by General David Petraeus, the events leading up to his testimony may have been more significant. Members of the Democratic leadership and their supporters have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying. If other members of the Democratic Party don't move quickly to repudiate this turn, the ability of the U.S. political system to function will be impaired in a way no one would wish for.

Well, with one exception., the Democratic activist group, bought space in the New York Times yesterday to accuse General Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House." The ad transmutes the general's name into "General Betray Us."

"Betrayal," as every military officer knows, is a word that through the history of their profession bears the stain of acts that are both dishonorable and unforgivable. That is to say, didn't stumble upon this word; it was chosen with specific intent, to convey the most serious accusation possible against General Petraeus, that his word is false, that he is a liar and that he is willing to betray his country. The next and obvious word to which this equation with betrayal leads is treason. That it is merely insinuated makes it worse.


In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times, after saying that President Bush "isn't looking for the truth, only for ways to confound the public," asserted that "General Petraeus has his own credibility problems." We read this as an elision from George Bush, the oft-accused liar on WMD and all the rest, to David Petraeus, also a liar merely for serving in the chain of command. With this editorial, the Times establishes that the party line is no longer just "Bush lied," but anyone who says anything good about Iraq or our effort there is also lying. As such, the Times enables and ratifies's rhetoric as common usage for Democrats.


Can this really be the new standard of political rhetoric across the Democratic Party? There was a time when the party's institutional elites, such as the Times, would have pulled it back from reducing politics to all or nothing. They would have blown the whistle on such accusations. Now they are leading the charge.

Under these new terms, public policy is no longer subject to debate, discussion and disagreement over competing views and interpretations. Instead, the opposition is reduced to the status of liar. Now the opposition is not merely wrong, but lacks legitimacy and political standing. The goal here is not to debate, but to destroy.

I disagree with the WSJ to the extent that they claim this is something new: Liberals have always maintained that their answer is the only possible answer and those who disagree must do so for sinister reasons. A part of their philosophy is that the world is perfectible. If you believe that the world is perfectible, it follows that questions have only one correct answer (and that would be, obviously, the liberal answer). This also explains their extreme frustration with current events: they believe that the world would be perfect if only Republicans stopped disagreeing with them.

NY Times attempts to deny the obvious

While the following sentence is from a nominal "news" story in the New York Times, it is hard to imagine how it could spin any faster:
When Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat of New York, suggested the war was not integral to the anti-terror effort since members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, sometimes called Al Qaeda in Iraq, the homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign-led, is not part of the Qaeda network behind the Sept. 11 attacks, the general offered a quick retort.
Hat Tip: BotW.

Art or Science?

James Taranto notes that even news organizations will admit the obvious every once in a while:
'More Art Than Science'
So a couple of weeks ago we were in New Orleans, on the precise anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall two years ago. And the weather wasn't bad. What happened? Isn't it hurricane season? And weren't hurricanes supposed to get even worse courtesy of "global warming"? It didn't quite work out that way, as Bloomberg reports:

Hurricane researchers, who forecast seven more storms this season, have flubbed the past two annual estimates because of unusual El Nino and La Nina weather phenomena in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The predictions reflect variables that make this kind of weather forecasting "more art than science," said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Two of the nine Atlantic hurricanes predicted already have occurred for the season that ends Nov 30. Last year, five storms emerged after nine were anticipated.

Remember that: Weather forecasting is "more art than science." Except of course when the forecasters want to dismantle our entire industrial economy. Then it's settled science that no one may even question.

Peace protestor confesses to murder

The AP reports:
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A U.S. citizen has confessed to using an axe to kill a Dutch student after failing to find a soldier to attack, his lawyer said Tuesday. ....

[Defence lawyer Peter] Gremmen said [suspect] Hartmann wanted to punish the Netherlands for its support of the war in Iraq....

"He hates soldiers, and says that the army kills people, so it would be legitimate if he were also to kill someone . . . from the American military - or from its NATO allies," Gremmen said in a telephone interview.

When he failed to find a soldier at the Roosendaal train station, "he got such a crazy, disturbed idea that he killed a civilian," Gremmen said.

Previous posts on violent anti-war protesters are here and here.

UPDATE (July 2008): Hartmann has been sentenced to 15-years for this murder.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What was Hsu's agenda?

Sen. Clinton's campaign has decided to return $850,000 in donations associated with Norman Hsu. While Mr. Hsu has some interesting associates, we still don't have answers to the key questions: where was his money coming from and what was he expecting his contributions to buy? The importance of these questions is illustrated by what we know now about the similar prior scandals. As John Fund writes, the head of Chinese military intelligence provided funding in 1996 for the purpose of influencing the election in the favor of Democrats:
A 1998 Senate Government Affairs Committee report on the scandal found "strong circumstantial evidence" that a great deal of foreign money had illegally entered the country in an attempt to influence the 1996 election. Johnny Chung, a bagman for the Asian billionaire Riady family, confessed that at least $35,000 of his donations to the Clinton campaign and the DNC had come from a Chinese aerospace executive--a lieutenant colonel in the Chinese military who he said helped Mr. Chung meet three times with General Ji Shengde, the head of Chinese military intelligence. Mr. Chung testified that Gen. Shengde had told him, "We like your president very much. We would like to see him re-elected. I will give you $300,000 U.S.. You can give it to the president and the Democratic Party."
Norman Hsu's agenda remains unknown.

Politically incorrect science

Computer image analysis has new life to a once discredited discipline: phrenology. Examination of the shape of a child's face allows quite accurate, or so it is claimed by Prof. Peter Hammond and his colleagues, diagnosis of a variety of genetic disorders. For example, a face that is narrow at the temples with a short upturned nose, an upturned mouth, and a small jaw indicates Williams Syndrome.

San Francisco liberals drive blacks from the city

USA Today reports:
African-Americans are abandoning this famously progressive city at a rate that has alarmed San Francisco officials, who vow to stop the exodus and develop a strategy to win blacks back to the city. In June, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed a task force to study how to reverse decades of policies — and neglect — that black leaders say have fueled the flight. ...

According to Census estimates, the number of blacks here shrank from 13.4% of the population in 1970 to just 6.5% in 2005 — the biggest percentage decline in any major American city.

The problem, as far as I can tell, is not that San Francisco's policies are anti-black. Rather it is that they are anti-poor and and anti-lower-middle-class. San Francisco's minimum wage, $9.14/hour, is the highest in the nation. Its apartments are subject to rent control. As a consequence, few jobs are available for low-skilled labor and living space is hard to find. These liberal policies, which nominally are intended to help the poor, always seem to have "unintended" consequences.

Is he or isn't he?

Last week's bin Laden video, the first since 2004, would seem to provide strong evidence that bin Laden is still alive. Some factors, though, raise doubts. For one he is wearing the same clothes and sitting in front of the same background as the 2004 video. The new video has long periods of bin Laden speaking while the video only shows a still picture. further, the reference to current events is entirely or mostly when the still image is shown. This is all consistent with the video being outtakes from some old recording, processed, of course, as is easy these days, to make his beard appear darker.

Also, adding doubt, the video's talking points, adopted from the Democratic party, sound more like they were written by an American, say Adam Gadahn, than the bin Laden of old.

The principal evidence that bin Laden is still alive is then the scratchy low-quality audio that accompanies the video and seems to mention current events. A commenter at HotAir wonders, since fathers and sons often sound strikingly alike, if the voice could be from an adult son of bin Laden.

On the other hand, creating doubts about whether bin Laden is alive or not might be part of an al Qaeda's security strategy: A fake tape would not produce clues as to Osama's actual whereabouts while a real tape might.

UPDATE: According to the AP, the newest bin Laden video, released today Sep 11, 2007, uses the same trick: bin Laden speaks on the audio track but the video shows only a still image.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Liberal logic of group identity

If the accuser is a poor black female and the accused are well-to-do white males, then, by liberal logic, the accused are guilty until proven innocent. Analogous logic appeared to have been applied in a case in the UK involving gay foster parents. The gay couple in this case, Ian Wathey and Craig Faunch, have been convicted of repeatedly abusing four boys put in their care. They were able to do this even after a social worker had been given photographic evidence that abuse was occurring. According to a recently released report, the social workers refused to take the allegations seriously for fear of being considered "homophobic." In other words, because the accused were gay and therefore members of a "victim" group, they were considered automatically innocent.

The couple was arrested only after an unidentified woman bypassed the social workers who were in charge of the children's welfare and took her accusation directly to the police. Fortunately, the UK police don't try to follow the same rules of political correctness as the social services do.

A generalization is a common pattern discerned from a few examples. Liberal logic works in the opposite direction: it assumes that individual cases, such as Duke rape case and UK gay foster parents case, must obey their generalizations. Merely questioning the generalization opens one for accusations of racism or homophobia. There is a word for assuming that individual cases must obey the generalization and that word is prejudice: Political correctness is prejudice.

Who was it who does not want peace?

"Israel in fact does not want peace. It cannot survive without aggression, treachery and military messages," Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said Thursday, a day after IAF aircraft allegedly violated Syrian airspace in an overnight operation.
Psychological projection?

UPDATE: Israellycool catches Reuters' caption writers in a lie about this incident.

Kathleen Willey's house burglarized, manuscript is missing

Kathleen Willey was the Democratic campaign volunteer who went to the oval office to plead that she needed a job. Allegedly, Bill Clinton offered her something else. She says that her house was burglarized over the weekend. The burglars left behind all the jewelry and electronics but they took a copy, but not the final copy, of a manuscript for her upcoming book.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Those talking points need to be double-checked

Mark Bellis performed a study on life expectancy of rock stars which found that rock stars do tend to die young. From the Reuters story:

American stars Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and Johnny Ramone of the Ramones all died in their 50s.

Bellis suggested that the high death rate among older American musicians could be related to the continent's greater appetite for reunion tours, exposing the artists for more years to an unhealthy "rock'n'roll" lifestyle.

It could also be due to the poor medical outlook for impoverished American ex-pop stars who have no health insurance, he said.

(emphasis added.)
The financial assets of most rock stars are private. However, for Jerry Garcia, we know more because his former wives fought publicly over his estate. Whatever the cause of Mr. Garcia's heart attack, it was not lack of money.

Who says government work is non-profit?

"[T]here is evidence of corruption running into the hundreds of millions of dollars" in the World Bank's projects in India.

Rice Derangement Syndrome

Glenn Kessler, a Newsweek "journalist," has written a book, The Confidante, attacking Secretary of State Rice. As reported by AFP:
"The invasion of Iraq, the missed opportunity with Iran, the breach in relations with Europe, the Arab anger at a perceived bias against the Palestinians -- all of these problems were the direct result of decisions she helped make in the White House," he writes.
"The breach in relations with Europe"? That might have existed four years ago but both France and Germany have now replaced their old anti-American governments with new pro-American ones. Whatever "breach" there was is no more. Further, it ended, for the US, the best possible way: Their governments moved toward our positions.

Mr. Kessler's claim that there ever was an "opportunity" with Iran seems fanciful. Mr. Kessler may not understand the "perceived bias against the Palestinians" but it might have to do with the fact that the evidence shows that their military intentionally targets schools and child care centers.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fact checking at the New York Times

Over the years, the New York Times has published a lot of innuendo and false information about a lot of people. Now, some of those people would like the Times to correct the record. According to its public editor, the venerable Times does not want to be bothered with the fact-checking required to make its articles accurate.

Poetic justice

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