Friday, February 29, 2008

Obama and the rule of law

Stephen Bainbridge comments on Sen. Obama's judicial theories:

For somebody who taught Constitutional law for years, Barack Obama has an awfully odd conception of the judicial role. Orin Kerr collects some quotes from Obama about judges, including this gem:

We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.

As does Orin, I realize that this is a widely shared view of the judicial role among left-liberals, but that simply illustrates how far left-liberalism has strayed from the rule of law. Settling upon a preferred outcome, without resort to the law, because it favors one group or another ought to be foreign to the judicial role. Judges are supposed to be neutral arbitrators, not having a thumb on the scale in favor of one side or the other. The rule of law means that every one is equal before the law, whether rich or poor, white or black. As the first Justice Harlan wrote: “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” That ought to be the criteria by which one picks judges.

In a free country, the rule of law is intended to protect us from the whims of government. To do this, we require that any law to be written and passed by a legislature, then signed by the executive, both of which are accountable through elections. Judges are then supposed to abide by these democratically-created laws. Obama proposes instead that judges should be able to make decision's based on the judge's political whims ("empathy") instead of the law as written. That should frighten everyone who supports democracy.

UPDATE: Another bit of Sen. Obama's constitional law theory gets dissected here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bill Buckley created conservatism

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) combined Christianity, libertarianism, and the Austrian/Chicago schools of economics, and subjected them all to the test of history, to create what is now known (in the US) as conservatism. The result was compelling because it was both intellectually coherent, as a philosophy should be, and also grounded strongly in experience, as an experimental science should be.

UPDATE: More tributes and remembrances here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The "Coming Ice Age" returns

Meteorologist Anthony Watts has collected global temperature data from NASA/GISS, HadCRUT, RSS, and UAH, and found that all agree: global temperature has been dropping:

January 2008 capped a 12 month period of global temperature drops on all of the major well respected indicators.

Daily Tech writes about this data:
Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

Daily Tech overstates the case a bit: temperatures have always fluctuated and, out of context, mere short term rises ("global warming") or drops ("coming ice age") mean little.

Some context is provided by the plot below which uses surface temperatures from the UK’s Hadley Climate Research Unit. It shows the much-publicized temperature peak that occurred in 1998 and highlights the temperature drop from January 2007 to January 2008:

Hat tip: Instapundit.

How to clean up a broken compact fluorescent bulb

Maine studied what happens when a compact fluorescent lamp bulb breaks and what to do. After shattering 65 bulbs while monitoring air quality, they recommend:

If a bulb breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum -- even on a rug -- to clean up a compact fluorescent light. Instead, while wearing rubber gloves, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the bulb broke. Use a glass jar with a screw top to contain the shards and clean-up debris.

“We found some very high levels (of mercury), even after we tried a number of clean-up techniques," said Mark Hyland, Maine director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management. During several of the experiments, for example, he said mercury in the air was more than 100 times levels considered safe even after a floor was cleaned.

Currently, you can avoid such toxic clean-up risks by buying other kinds of lightbulbs. The federal government plans to take that choice away from you. As per last year's energy bill, 100-Watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out by 2012 with 40-Watt incandescents to be out by 2014. Trust your government: it always knows best.

Hat tip: BotW.

Blame racism first, read history later

Speaking in Washington DC, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Ca) blames racism:
Did you know your representatives can not vote? They can only vote in the committee as a whole. So what you’re going to have to do is declare the District [of Columbia] something like a state so they can have a proportional representation who vote. But that would give this district two senators and there are a lot of people on that floor who don’t want to see that occur because if there’s a chocolate city, this is it.
It was after much debate that the constitutional convention settled, as specified in Section 8, on locating the capitol in a district without the vote. They did that before the district existed let alone, as many decades later, it became "chocolate."

Profiles in naiveté

This year, Sen. Dodd was one of the contenders for the Democratic presidential nominations. James Webb writes of Dodd's actions back in 1975:
Then-Congressman Christopher Dodd typified the hopeless naiveté of his peers when he intoned that "calling the Lon Nol regime an ally is to debase the word.... The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now."
Mr. Dodd had his wish and with the result that Pol Pot succeeded in overthrowing Lon Nol and creating the killing fields of Cambodia.

Dodd's logic is very familiar Democratic logic. His claim was that war is caused only by the US. If we "end military aid now" then we can "give peace" to Cambodia. Dodd seems to have given no more thought to how Pol Pot would react to such a "gift" in 1975 than Sen Obama has given to how bin Laden will respond to such a "gift" in Iraq in 2009.

On possible explanation for this thought process is denial. The New York Times reports that this is the process used by Sen. Clinton. The Times quotes Judith Hope, a friend and informal adviser to Mrs. Clinton, and a former chairwoman of the New York State Democratic Party who says:

. "When she's on the road and someone has a negative news story, she says, 'I don't want to hear it; I don't need to hear it.' I think she wants to protect herself from that and stay focused."
Denial may be mal-adaptive but it certainly can help one stay focused and confident.

Hat tip: BotW.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Obama and anti-semitism

Debbie Schlussel reports that Sen. Obama has stronger connections with the racist and anti-semitic Rev. Farrakhan than was previously known: "Obama employed and continues to employ several Farrakhan acolytes in high positions on his Illinois and U.S. Senate campaign and office staffs." As examples, Ms. Schlussel cites Cynthia K. Miller who was the Treasurer of Obama's senate campaign and Jennifer Mason who is "Obama's Director of Constituent Services in his U.S. Senate office and is also in charge of selecting Obama's Senate interns."

Separately, two of Obama's foreign policy advisers, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samatha Power, seem to be anti-semitic. Interestingly, Obama is also supporting the Islamist side in Kenya. Bill Levinson at Israpundit summarizes:

A growing number of bloggers such as Richard Cohen, Brigitte Gabriel, Sharon Hughes, Charles Krauthammer, Kenneth Blackwell, Naomi Ragen, Debbie Schlussel, Ed Lasky, and William Levinson are pointing out Barack Obama’s numerous connections to unsavory individuals and organizations that espouse and promote hatred of Jews, Catholics, white people, Israel, and/or the United States. By “connections” we do not mean casual social contacts, but Obama’s deliberate efforts to seek out these entities and gain their support.

PREVIOUS discussion on anti-semitism in the Democratic party is here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: More on this including a round-up of left-side reaction to the accusations here.

"Bush motorcade kills cop," says Time

When a motorcycle officer escorting Pres. Bush hits an obstruction, Time magazine's headline is:
Bush motorcade kills cop
When a similar accident occurs in Sen. Clinton's motorcade, the headline is:
Officer killed escorting Clinton
This is not very subtle difference is Verum Serum 's "MSM bias moment of the day." Verum Serum has preserved the screen images so that Time cannot make it disappear.

Hat tip: Brutally Honest.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Some writing on the otherwise blank slate

David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy has dug up some policy specifics on gun control from the otherwise the inscrutable Sen. Obama. Hube analyzes some of it.

A Tale of two scandals

Flashback to January 24, 1992. The Gennifer Flowers scandals had been around for two weeks before the The New York Times lowered itself to discuss such matters. When it did, it presented the story from Bill Clinton's point of view:
THE 1992 CAMPAIGN; Clinton Denounces New Report of Affair

Published: January 24, 1992

Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas today denounced as "not true" a second wave of accusations of marital infidelity published by the tabloid newspaper Star. ....

Mrs. Clinton, interviewed in Atlanta, said there was no basis to the accusations. "Absolutely, I don't have any doubts," she said.

There was no mention of any associated scandals such how, after the affair stated, she got an Arkansas state job passing over more qualified candidates.

Contrast that to the New York Times treatment of John McCain. While the New York Times was reticent to cover Ms. Flowers even though she was willing to on the record with tape recordings to back her up, the Times is pursuing McCain with nothing on the record but mere innuendo from anonymous sources while omitting evidence supplied by McCain that contradicted the innuendo.

UPDATE: Even the New York Times' "public editor" sees that their story lacks evidence:

The newspaper found itself in the uncomfortable position of being the story as much as publishing the story, in large part because, although it raised one of the most toxic subjects in politics — sex — it offered readers no proof that McCain and Iseman had a romance.
UPDATE II: With regards to this story, Dan Rather praises the New York Times:
Jim Rutenberg, who was the lead reporter on this, Bill Keller who's the editor who made the decision, these are not ordinary journalists. These are outstanding journalists and that probably needs to be said.
Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

Reuters makes its mistakes vanish

Abe Greenwald at Commentary magazine is frustrated by Reuters' Orwellian approach to changing history:

Reuters, the news agency with a policy forbidding the word “terrorist” from their stories and a penchant for printing doctored photos as evidence of Israeli aggression, has done it again.

Yesterday, Reuters posted a story entitled “Sadr Expected to End Truce”, implying it was likely that Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr would end his Mahdi Army’s six-month ceasefire in Iraq. I can’t offer the URL of that story because once their cynical prediction was proved immediately wrong (today, Sadr announced that he’d be extending the ceasefire another six months) the link started bringing me to a new Reuters story entitled (surprise, surprise) “Iraqi Cleric Sadr Extends Militia Ceasefire.” Soon after that, the original headline disappeared from internet searches altogether.

Stephen Burt at Done With Mirrors defends the news media:
This is not a conspiracy. This is the way journalism operates. It is
intent on presenting the most up-to-date versions of a story, and if
earlier versions of the stories are outdated or wrong, it no longer
keeps them before the public. In many cases they are wrong because the
journalists unconsciously let their biases shade their reporting. But
that's not why you can't find the old version of the story anymore.
That is partly reasonable but it is also a facile and convenient excuse. It is hard to imagine any other institution as important to democracy as the press that would be allowed to cover up its mistakes and hide its responsibility for errors with the simple excuse that it is their custom to destroy all records.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to buy a judge

An investigation by Mark Tapscott of the Examiner into the finances of superstar lawyers William Lerach and Melvyn Weiss shows how to buy your own justice. It is, of course, illegal to pay the judge directly. So, first, you need to create a non-profit foundation; Lerach and Weiss called their's the Institute for Law and Economic Policy. The foundation then sets up conferences in expensive resort hotels. Lerach and Weiss, for example, chose Los Cabos in Mexico, Lake Los Vegas in Nevada, and San Diego in California. Then, you invite judges who might preside over your cases to the (invitation-only) conferences. Finally, you reimburse the judges for their expenses. Mission accomplished: you have given the judges money and it is legal! According to Tapscott:
At least 14 federal judges were reimbursed by the foundation for attending its events, including two on the Southern District of New York (SDNY) bench who presided over dozens of cases brought by the two firms. Neither of the judges responded to Examiner questions delivered to them by the SDNY clerk.
If the judges did attend any lectures at your conference, it is even better since you chose only lectures that support your side.

Not everything that Lerach and Weiss did was legal, however. Tapscott writes:

Lerach and two former Milberg Weiss colleagues have pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with more than $11 million in kickbacks to plaintiffs they recruited to bring more than 150 lawsuits that netted the firm at least $200 million in tainted legal fees, according to federal prosecutors.
More here.

Liberal spending at a low-end deli

The New York Post describes the state of Sen. Clinton's campaign finances:
February 22, 2008 -- AUSTIN, Texas - Hillary Rodham Clinton's free-spending campaign blew a whopping $95,000 at a low-end supermarket-deli chain last month in Iowa - a telling sign of why she can no longer cut the mustard financially against Barack Obama in critical states.

Clinton's latest campaign filings reveal how a sprawling, top-heavy campaign organization splurged on posh hotels and pricey consultants but still struggles to define its message against Obama, a charismatic opponent whom Clinton's camp now calls the front-runner. ....

The heavy spending helps explain why Clinton's camp ended the year $7.6 million in debt, not including her $5 million loan to her campaign.

The campaign team has plowed through $116 million so far.

If she were given a chance, she would run your health care the same way.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Video: Satellite hit claimed a success

It will be a while before all the data is evaluated but the initial report is that the hit was a success.
The satellite was traveling in orbit at a speed in the neighborhood of 17,000 miles per hour. The missile was traveling at a similar speed. It was only a few years ago, that liberals were proclaiming that such intercepts were impossible ("You can't hit a bullet with a bullet," they said). Now, research has made such feats feasible and, in a more few years of development, they will likely be routine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's all about appearances

A producer at CNN, Chez Pazienza, was fired for having a blog in which he expressed his liberal views. Mr. Pazienza writes:
I'm dead sure though that my superiors never concerned themselves with my ability or inability to remain objective at work, given my strong opinions; they worried only about an appearance of bias (specifically, a liberal bias),...
I noted a recent news story that, when it comes to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, it is the appearance that liberals find more important than the reality. It is the same here where it is the appearance, not the reality, that matters to CNN. Similarly, CBS, the New York Times, and many other news organization forbid journalists from (openly) making campaign contributions. They can't stop their journalists from having opinions, but they want to maintain the appearance of it being otherwise.

I would prefer that journalists be free to express their views. I find news sources to be more trustworthy if they are honest sources. But then, unlike CNN, I am more concerned about reality than about pretenses or appearances.

It is more complicated than that

Ann Coulter and some other conservatives say they would vote for Clinton over McCain. In response, Eric at Classical Values suggests that the reasoning must be:
The idea which drives the vote-for-the-enemy theory is that Americans must be made to "bottom out," and that when the voters have finally suffered enough under socialism, they will see the light, and elect a "real" conservative.
He cites Clayton Cramer who writes:
Do you want someone [who] is wrong half the time, or someone who is wrong all the time?
I say that that is only a part of the story. To implement his (her) wrong decisions, a president generally need congress's approval. It is easy to imagine 40 Republican senators uniting in strong opposition to liberal moves by President Hillary. By contrast, for a variety of practical reasons such as help with fundraising, it is rare for senators to filibuster their own president's bad ideas. Continuing with Mr. Cramer's hypothetical, it is easy to imagine Pres. Hillary being wrong 100% of the time but only getting a mere 10% of that passed by congress. By contrast, a Pres. McCain might be wrong ( liberal) only 50% of the time but he might get the majority of that passed by congress. If so, then following Mr. Cramer's hypothetical to its logical conclusion, the country would, in a conservative's view, be better off under a Democrat president than under a Pres. McCain.

In fairness to Ann Coulter, both Clayton and Eric misrepresent her argument. She doesn't advocate either a 100% wrong president or a "bottoming out." Her claim, for what its worth, is that, based on the record, Sen. McCain is actually more liberal than Sen. Clinton.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eclipses and their lessons for managers

In 1504, Christopher Columbus used fore-knowledge of a lunar eclipse to strike fear in the native Jamaicans in order to convince them to provide food for Columbus' crew.

By contrast, in 430 B.C., Pericles (pictured below) had a different problem. Plutarch writes that Athens was then at war with Sparta, the Athenians were suffering, and Pericles needed to take action:

Desiring to heal these evils, and at the same time to inflict some annoyance upon the enemy, he manned a hundred and fifty ships of war, and, after embarking many brave hoplites and horsemen, was on the point of putting out to sea, affording great hope to the citizens, and no less fear to the enemy in consequence of so great a force.
It was then, at least as Plutarch tells the story, that a solar eclipse caused panic in Pericles' fleet:
But when the ships were already manned, and Pericles had gone aboard his own trireme, it chanced that the sun was eclipsed and darkness came on, and all were thoroughly frightened, looking upon it as a great portent. Accordingly, seeing that his steersman was timorous and utterly perplexed, held up his cloak before the man's eyes, and, thus covering them, asked him if he thought it anything dreadful, or portentous of anything dreadful. "No," said the steersman. "How then," said Pericles, "is yonder event different from this, except that it is something rather larger than my cloak which has caused the obscurity?"
With his men calm, Pericles was able to continue his campaign.

In both stories, natural events strike fear into the populace and leaders were there to manage the fear.

In the modern world, the public can still be frightened, even if not by eclipses. For better or worse, it is cell phone radiation, nuclear power, or global warming that now play that role.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The banality of evil

Not every Canadian is willing to accept Canada's abolition of freedom of speech. The Western Standard magazine published the infamous Mohammad cartoons two years ago. Consequently, the Orwellian-named Alberta Human Rights Commission is prosecuting its publisher, Ezra Levant. They held their hearing on his case last January 11. For some reason, they allowed Mr. Levant to video-record the hearing. He did and it is now on youtube. In the sample below,
the inquisitor, Shirlene McGovern, asks him for his "intent" in publishing the cartoons. Her dry bureaucratic approach in asking about thought crime, reminds us of Hannah Arendt's comment about the banality of evil:

Ms. McGovern has since resigned from the case, reportedly because she was surprised by the strength of the public reaction against such interrogations over alleged thought crimes.

Canada's Human Rights Code forbids, for example, any publication that "is likely to expose a person or a group or class of persons to ... contempt." Contempt is a quite vague concept. (Under Canada's interpretation, as expressed by Ms. McGovern, the issue of contempt is somehow tied into someone's subjective concept of the publisher's "intent.") Nearly any expression of a political opinion can be interpreted by those on the other side as 'exposing them to contempt.' Consequently, to the extent that Canada is willing to enforce the code, it really is the end of free speech.

For instance, the Hadith reads "The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: `The time [of judgment] will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!' Sahih Muslim book 41, no. 6985." It seems that any discussion of that passage at all would offend ("expose to contempt") one side or the other and thus be illegal in Canada.

PREVIOUSLY, Canada's liberal party rejected a proposal to restore freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

UPDATE: Deborah Gyapong has much more on abuses by Canada's Human Rights Commission.

Cell phones cause cancer?

The BBC writes in bold type about an Israeli study by Dr. Siegal Sadetzki:
Heavy mobile phone use may be linked to an increased risk of cancer of the salivary gland, a study suggests.
That sounds frightening but, buried deep in the story, the BBC writes that a bigger study contradicts it:
Despite these latest findings, the largest and longest-running investigation ever to be carried out into mobile phone usage found no increased risk of any sort of cancer.

It followed 420,000 people in Denmark, some of whom had been using a mobile phone for as long as ten years.

There was in fact a lower incidence of cancer than expected in a group of that size, suggesting mobile phones had no impact on the development of tumours.

One important point about all such studies that scientists know, but the news media doesn't explain, is that the results of statistical studies are statistical, that is, somewhat random. The usual scientific standard is to report results at the 95% confidence level. Now, suppose, for the moment, that there is absolutely no connection between cell phones and cancer. Then, perform tests for the correlations between 20 different types of cancer and cell phone usage. At the 95% confidence level, odds are that one of those twenty test results will be wrong. (This is because 1 out of 20 is 5% and 5% is the expected error rate on tests done to 95% confidence.) To be clear, that one wrong result does not mean that the scientist did anything wrong: As scientists well know, it is simply the nature of statistical studies. What happens next, of course, is that the news media will write a headline based on that one result.

Next, that scientific group or another does another, say, 20 tests for correlation. Still assuming that there really is no connection, only (about) one of those tests will be positive for a connection. It will likely, by random chance, show a connection, though, to a different cancer. That new (wrong) result will get another headline in the news media.

So how do you tell the difference between valid and incorrect results in such studies? It is simple: if several studies show a link to the same cancer, the result is likely valid. If successive studies show links to different cancers, then each of those results is likely to be merely a statistical fluke. Since, so far, successive studies give different results on cell phone and cancer, as in the two studies mentioned by the BBC above, the reasonable conclusion is that we are looking at statistical flukes.

The second key issue with these studies is that they find only correlations but not causality. The Israeli study, for example, found that the increased cancer risk was associated with heavy cell phone users who live in rural areas. It could be, if the statistical result is true, that the salivary gland tumors have nothing to do with cell phone usage and are instead caused by exposure to, say, cow manure or other chemicals common in rural areas where, maybe, landlines are absent so cell phone use is more common. Issues like that could be sorted out by future statistical studies. (It is likely that, as good scientists, Dr. Sadetzki or her colleagues are already working on such kinds of issues.)

So, for the time being, there is no reason to think that tinfoil hats are necessary.

PREVIOUSLY, I have discussed cell phone radiation issues here and here.

UPDATE: This Israeli study is now featured at Slashdot, Information Week, and the (London) Telegraph. Information Week does a good job of putting perspective on the alleged risk level

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ask what your country can do for you?

It has often been noted that Democrats see the US president as their parent. Michelle Obama takes this a step beyond in a fascinating speech that she gave and that Ed Morrissey has transcribed:
We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another -- that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these. That we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.
Who would have thought that a mere politician would have such power? Instead of mere mortal parent, she sees the president's role as closer to that of a heavenly father.

In her speech, Mrs. Obama also summarizes the state of the US economy:
And things have gotten progressively worse throughout my lifetime, through Democratic and Republican administrations, it hasn't gotten better for regular folks. ....
Such a view is counter-factual but is an understandable side-effect of the depression that polling shows that Democrats suffer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Loyalty and treason

Code Pink and its allies protested against the presence of a US Marine recruiting station in Berkeley, California last Tuesday. Among many other fascinating and informative photos, Zombietime captured this protester:

Do not question his patriotism. More commentary on this protest is at PowerLine.

Go ahead build a nuke; just don't tell us about it

James Taranto discusses a statement from Russia's foreign minister:

"Russia Warns Iran on Missiles, Uranium Enrichment" reads a Reuters headline. The actual quotes, though, show why efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation are so dangerously ineffective:

Russia warned Iran on Wednesday that its development of rockets and continued uranium enrichment was creating the impression Tehran was intentionally ignoring the concerns of the international community.
"We do not approve of Iran's actions in constantly demonstrating its intentions to develop its rocket sector and continue enriching uranium," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian news agencies.
"From the point of view of international law these actions are not forbidden, but you can also not ignore that in previous years a whole host of problems were uncovered in Iran's nuclear program," Lavrov said, Interfax news agency reported.
"Until these problems can be removed I think it is advisable to refrain from steps, and especially from statements, that merely heat up the atmosphere and create the impression that Iran really has made up its mind to ignore the international community, the United Nations Security Council and the IAEA," he said.

So Lavrov is worried about the "impression" that Iran is "creating" and the "intentions" it is "demonstrating," and he wants Tehran to "refrain from steps, and especially from statements," that have that effect. Whether Iran actually acquires nuclear weapons would seem to be a secondary concern to the appearance of it all.

With reasoning like that, Lavrov would obviously be right at home in the US Democratic party.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line."

Racism, such as the above statement from Rev. Poindexter, and ugly anti-semitism, such as shown below, are both being openly expressed in the Democrat's upcoming primary race in the 9th district of Tennessee for for the nomination which pits Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) against Democratic challenger Nikki Tinker.

Hat tip Capt. Qtrs.

NY Times attacks the chromatically-challenged

All women are created equal except blondes, or so says NY Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley while discussing the limitations of MSNBC:
Even Fox News has many more female anchors [than MSNBC], though so many are cookie-cutter blondes that viewers cannot be blamed for thinking it’s one anchor working multiple shifts.
Hat tip: BotW.

How the education system works

A former Oceanside CA high school teacher explains how the school system has worked for the past half century:
John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell.

Corcoran's life of secrecy started at a young age. He said his teachers moved him up from grade to grade. Often placed in what he calls the "dumb row," the images of his tribulations in the classroom are still vividly clear. ....

Corcoran later attended Palo Verde High School in Blythe, Calif. He cheated his way through high school, receiving his diploma in June 1956. ....

Corcoran earned an athletic scholarship to Texas Western College.... In 1961, Corcoran graduated with a bachelor's degree in education, while still illiterate he contends. He then went on to become a teacher during a teacher shortage.

"When I graduated from the university, the school district in El Paso, where I went to school, gave almost all the college education graduates a job," said Corcoran. ....

For 17 years Corcoran taught high school for the Oceanside School District. Relying on teacher's assistants for help and oral lesson plans, he said he did a great job at teaching his students.

A recent study finds that education colleges often have far more courses on "multiculturalism" than on math which might help explain (a) how an illiterate could get an education degree, and (b) how it is that his fellow teachers didn't notice.

UPDATE: This page has been blessed with an Instapundit link and a South Dakota Politics link. Visitors, please feel free to wander over to the main page.

RELATED (2008-Dec): Education Trust has found that many public school math teachers know little about math. (Hat tip: NoGirleMen)

The pure joy of apologizing

I have noted that US liberals believe in apologies. Tim Blair analyzes Australian Prime Minister Rudd's apology for some of Australia's claimed wrongs against aborigines. Blair is concerned about the unintended consequences of the apology but also notes an interesting aspect of the apology phenomenon:
Sadly, the effect of the apology on those it’s aimed at is a secondary concern. This is more about smug white folks feeling nice about themselves. That’s why, despite it being an apology for allegedly terrible events, everybody is smiling.
The idea that apologies raise a liberal's self-esteem may seem peculiar but it appears consistent with the emphasis that liberals place on that emotion

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Gov. Rendell has declared that Pennsylvania's Democrats are racist. (Of course, he doesn't say of this of the good Democrats. No, he says it is true of the "conservative white" wing of his party.) Susan Estrich, formerly Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign manager, sees the same problem:
We who are Democrats would like to believe that race is not a factor in the polling of our party members, but maybe we’re wrong.

No one doubts, or at least no one who is honest does, that both racism and sexism come into play as people decide between Clinton and Obama....

Bob Krumm has much more on the racism and sexism that Democrats believe is currently dividing their party.

VAGUELY RELATED: It is claimed that Democrats make accusations of racial vote suppression not because they are true but because they raise the turnout of their voters. Vote suppression allegedly was done by both the Clinton and Obama camps in the recent primaries. So, when Democrats accuse Republicans of vote suppression, there may be an element in it of psychological projection.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tribal cohesion under test

A prominent feminist, Kate Michelman, is now backing Sen. Obama over gender-mate Hillary. Consequently, she is struggling with the meaning of identity politics:
If women who vote for men are traitors, then are men who vote for women also traitors? What about African-Americans who vote for whites? Or whites who vote for African-Americans?

Laying this guilt trip, this hypocrisy, on women -- saying that those women who don't vote for other women are turncoats -- is tantamount to saying that women who exercise independent thought haven't the right to do that either.

Her thoughts on why she supports Obama are also interesting for their similar lack of insight:
When a presidential candidate's core values are unity, equality, opportunity and creating an atmosphere of respect and harmony, both nationally and internationally, then that candidate's vision aligns with the best hopes and dreams of the women's movement. And that is precisely Barack Obama's vision.
First, note that she does not say that Obama's vision aligns with her vision. She says instead that it aligns with the "women's movement." So, after only a brief instance of advocating independent thought, she is back to advocating identity politics.

Note also the strange list of "core values." What kind of "core value" is "unity"? This sounds like some childhood fantasy about the ideal family. She also wants a foreign policy based on "an atmosphere of respect and harmony." Does she believe that if we are nice to bin Laden or Hitler or Genghis Khan that each will be nice back? What did P. M. Chamberlain leave undone in his quest to achieve "harmony" with Hitller? Obama may touch the soul of his followers but it doesn't seem to be a rational part of the soul.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A mass religious revival frightens some

At TPMcafe, one Obama supporter raises concerns about her compatriots:
I'm getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama's supporters.

On listservs I'm on, some people who should know better – hard-bitten, not-so-young cynics, even – are gushing about Barack, raving about his "game-changing" politics, about his "power to inspire," about how they wept while viewing the now-famous Dipdive video, and on and on.

Then there's this unsettling article from a few weeks back about Obama's volunteer operation. One volunteer speaks of her encounter with the man himself:

But the clincher came on March 17, when she met the Democratic contender face to face. She describes how he lit up the room with his wide smile, shook her hand and thanked her for volunteering.

" He looked at me, and the look in his eyes was worth 1,000 words," said Mack, now a regional field organizer. Obama hugged her and whispered something in her ear – she was so thrilled she doesn't remember what it was.

Here's more:

Mack wanted to drill home one of the campaign's key strategies: telling potential voters personal stories of political conversion.

She urged volunteers to hone their own stories of how they came to Obama – something they could compress into 30 seconds on the phone.

"Work on that, refine that, say it in the mirror," she said. "Get it down."

She told the volunteers that potential voters would no doubt confront them with policy questions. Mack's direction: Don't go there. Refer them to Obama's Web site, which includes enough material to sate any wonk.

Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of "coming to Obama" in the same way born-again Christians talk about "coming to Jesus."

Academic studies show that partisanship is good when done by a Democrat

Prof. Susan Dunn of Williams College writes in praise of partisianship:
"[Conservatives] are united in their hatred for me," [FDR] jubilantly exclaimed to a roaring crowd at Madison Square Garden in the fall of 1936, "and I welcome their hatred!" FDR was willing to ignite and exploit conflict -- and fight for meaningful change. ....

It may be comforting to believe that consensus and unity are somehow healthier, more noble, less disruptive and destructive than sharp partisan battles. But it is the rough-and-tumble game of adversarial politics that preserves our freedom. Three cheers for disunity!

Her view of partisianship is a bit different when her discussion moves from FDR to Bush:
It is one thing to balance toward the party center, as FDR and JFK did. It is quite different for a staunch conservative like Bush to tilt the ticket toward an even more right-wing Republican. That creates acute imbalance, narrowing the party's electoral appeal and weakening its capacity to win support in Congress.

The Bush-Cheney presidency — shaped and led by ideologues who have rejected the creative, collective leadership that might be supplied by a vibrant, diverse Cabinet — has immobilized itself in its own narrowness and extremism.

Her view, and it is the kind of view that only a liberal can believe, is that FDR was a partisan extremist in a "vibrant" "diverse" way while George Bush is a partisan in a "narrow" way.

The family analogy that is so common to liberal arguments makes an appearance in Prof. Dunn's writings:

[T]here is something almost regressive in longing for more unity than that, for it suggests a dreamy nostalgia for an imaginary golden age of well-being and security in the bosom of a harmonious, loving family.
The desire for the "well-being and security" of a family, usually with the president as parent seems to be a central feature of liberal thought.

Should it be a crime to disagree?

Canada's National Post reports:
David Suzuki has called for political leaders to be thrown in jail for ignoring the science behind climate change.

At a Montreal conference last Thursday, the prominent scientist, broadcaster and Order of Canada recipient exhorted a packed house of 600 to hold politicians legally accountable for what he called an intergenerational crime.

The vague phrase "prominent scientist" is a clue and, if you follow up, you find that he is not an atmospheric scientists nor is a scientist in any related field. His Ph.D. is in zoology. The reason that he is "prominent" is that he is a TV personality on Canada's public broadcasting.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Global warming gets a new beat

According to the Gannett News Service:
Last year was one of the 10 warmest on record. It was marked by deadly and costly wildfires that led to the largest evacuation in California history, spring storms that unleashed 600 tornadoes across the Great Plains and South, severe flooding in Texas and Oklahoma and extreme drought across much of the Southeast, according to a preliminary report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate center.

"It certainly seems like something ominous is going on when you experience these extremes," says Gregory Berg, an assistant professor of music at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.

When not commenting on global warming, Prof. Berg co-directs opera at the Racine Symphony.

The idea of weather as an omen did not originate with Prof. Berg. Two thousand years, "extreme" weather was also observed, as described by Plutarch in his history of Roman General Crassus' expedition to Arabia:

Here, too, he met with the first ill-omen....As Crassus was taking the army over the river at Zeugma, he encountered preternaturally violent thunder, and the lightning flashed in the faces of the troops, and during the storm a hurricane broke upon the bridge, and carried part of it away; two thunderbolts fell upon the very place where the army was going to encamp; and one of the general's horses, magnificently caparisoned, dragged away the groom into the river and was drowned. It is said, too, that when they went to take up the first standard, the eagle of itself turned its head backward; ....
The two points here are:
  1. "Extreme" weather has always been with us. It is not, as claimed by Al Goreans, new. Temperatures have always and will always fluctuate
  2. There is a strong human instinct to interpret unusual weather, as Prof. Berg does, as an "omen"; The existence of this instinct means that we humans must be careful not to believe too easily in such omens.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Canada may restore free speech

At the moment, speech is not legal in Canada if politically correct groups find it "offensive." A liberal MP has proposed a motion to change that.

UPDATE: Canada's Liberal party opposes this motion

Friday, February 01, 2008

Once I have my opinion, I'll tell you what the facts are

Jonathan Adler catches former Democratic Presidential hopeful Geo. McGovern trying to chang history:

George McGovern joins the ranks of those calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.

After the 1972 presidential election, I stood clear of calls to impeach President Richard M. Nixon for his misconduct during the campaign. I thought that my joining the impeachment effort would be seen as an expression of personal vengeance toward the president who had defeated me.

Today I have made a different choice.

Setting aside the arguments for and against impeaching President Bush, McGovern is seriously misrepresenting his position on the Nixon impeachment proceedings. According to these news stories, for example, McGovern called for impeaching President Nixon in a speech in Richmond, VA in October 1974 1973 in order "to make America safe for Democracy." A Westlaw search also identifies abstracts to New York Times stories suggesting McGovern urged Nixon's impeachment on other occasions as well. For instance, the abstract to a NYT story from January 21, 1974 reports that McGovern believed there were "ample grounds" for impeaching President Nixon and that he was urging the Democratic Party to take this position.
Much of today's follows this pattern also. Before the Afghan war began in earnest, Democrats declared that Afghanistan was a "quagmire." After our quick victory, the same declared that they "knew all along it would be a cakewalk." Likewise, the Iraq surge, before it began, was declared a mistake. Now that the evidence of its success has become hard to deny, the spin is mixed between still calling it a failure while taking credit for its success while declaring that they knew it was going to be a success all along ("all you have to do is put enough American soldiers in one place and...."). Listening to Democrats express these arguments, it appears that their purpose is primarily self-deception among their like-minded listeners.
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