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.

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