Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gone fishing till May 20

I will be losing my internet connection for three weeks. This blog will return May 20.

Al Qaeda breaks with Iran

Iran's proxies have been spreading the rumor that 9-11 was done by the Jews. Al Qaeda's number 2 man, Al-Zawahri thinks this is an insult to his organization's ability to kill. The AP writes:

One questioner asked about the theory that has circulated in the Middle East and elsewhere that Israel was behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah's Al-Manar television of starting the rumor. "The purpose of this lie is clear—(to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it," he said. ....

Al-Qaida has previously claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks.

The AP notes that this is a change from al Zawahiri's previously accommodating tone toward Iran:
The increasing enmity toward Iran is a notable change of rhetoric from
al-Zawahri, who in the past rarely mentioned the country — apparently
in a hopes he would be able to forge some sort of understanding with
Tehran based on their common rivalry with the United States. Iran has
long sought to distance itself from al-Qaida.
Once again, al Zawahiri claimed that al Qaida is leading the opposition against democracy in Iraq:
[Al Zawahiri] said the Iraqi insurgent umbrella group led by al-Qaida, called the
Islamic State of Iraq, is "the primary force opposing the Crusaders
(the United States) and challenging Iranian ambitions" in Iraq.
Apparently, he did not get the Democrats memo about Iraq being a distraction from the 'real' war on terror.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

$50/hour, tax free

KUTV, of Salt Lake City, followed a "homeless" beggar around and calculates that she may make $50 per hour from begging before she goes home to her nice comfortable house where she lives with her parents. A Salt Lake City homeless advocate estimates that 70% of beggars are frauds.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gore's Inconvenient "Truth" used fictional video

From NewsBusters:

It goes without saying that climate realists around the world believe Nobel Laureate Al Gore used false information throughout his schlockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" in order to generate global warming hysteria.

On Friday, it was revealed by ABC News that one of the famous shots of supposed Antarctic ice shelves in the film was actually a computer-generated image from the 2004 science fiction blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow."

Hat tip: Freedom Eden

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Helping criminals

The Editors at the New York Times are concerned about crime:
Two horrifying crimes have exposed serious weaknesses in Connecticut’s criminal justice system. But a “three strikes and you’re out” law proposed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Republicans in the Legislature would do more harm than good.

Last July two recently paroled men broke into a home in Cheshire and tortured and murdered three people. Last month a man who served more than eight years for assaulting a 5-year-old — and had been out on probation for less than a month — broke into a New Britain home. He accosted two women, wounding one and killing the other.

Republicans, led by Ms. Rell, have responded by calling for a “three strikes” law. Democrats have rightly resisted. The proposed law, which would mandate life in prison for anyone convicted of three violent felonies, is a bumper-sticker solution that would create injustices by barring judges’ discretion in sentencing. It would also not deter the many crimes committed by people who have not committed three violent felonies.

At preventing crime, three strikes laws are highly effective: no criminal can victimize innocent citizens while he is incarcerated under a three strikes law. But, of course, the editors at the New York Times are concerned not about innocent victims but rather
about quixotic projects like providing "jobs training" to career criminals.

Hat tip: BotW .

PREVIOUSLY, the liberal paradox of crime was discussed here, and pro-crime liberalism was discussed here, here, and here.

Internet privacy law update

While on the internet, any website that you visit can record your numerical IP address. Anyone can determine which internet service provider (ISP) provides your internet service. To obtain more information, such as your name, is often not possible unless your ISP releases it. The New Jersey Supreme Court that there is an expectation of privacy. As Southern Appeal writes:
On Monday, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that New Jersey citizens had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the subscriber information which they provide to their internet providers particularly their IP address which his/her ISP assigns to him/her for use in accessing the internet. The decision is available here. (h/t to How Appealing). The Court did so based upon the New Jersey Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures which has been interpreted to be broader in its scope than the protection afforded by the similar language found in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
This reasonable expectation of privacy means that a subpoena is required before your ISP can identify you. So far, privacy rights in other states are not clear.

PREVIOUSLY, privacy rights have been discussed in relation to medical records, hard disk repairs, and e-mail.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Are those who cling to guns bitter or happy?

Sen. Obama's famously said of Americans: "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." However, Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School, says otherwise: gun owners are happy. He writes:
According to the 2006 General Social Survey, which has tracked gun ownership since 1973, 34% of American homes have guns in them. This statistic is sure to surprise many people in cities like San Francisco – as it did me when I first encountered it. (Growing up in Seattle, I knew nobody who owned a gun.)

Who are all these gun owners? Are they the uneducated poor, left behind? It turns out they have the same level of formal education as nongun owners, on average. Furthermore, they earn 32% more per year than nonowners. Americans with guns are neither a small nor downtrodden group.

Nor are they "bitter." In 2006, 36% of gun owners said they were "very happy," while 9% were "not too happy." Meanwhile, only 30% of people without guns were very happy, and 16% were not too happy.

In 1996, gun owners spent about 15% less of their time than nonowners feeling "outraged at something somebody had done." It's easy enough in certain precincts to caricature armed Americans as an angry and miserable fringe group. But it just isn't true. The data say that the people in the approximately 40 million American households with guns are generally happier than those people in households that don't have guns.

The gun-owning happiness gap exists on both sides of the political aisle. Gun-owning Republicans are more likely than nonowning Republicans to be very happy (46% to 37%). Democrats with guns are slightly likelier than Democrats without guns to be very happy as well (32% to 29%). Similarly, holding income constant, one still finds that gun owners are happiest.

He also offers an explanation for why gun owners are happier:
Why are gun owners so happy? One plausible reason is a sense of self-reliance, in terms of self-defense or even in terms of the ability to hunt their own dinner.

Many studies over the years have shown that a belief in one's control over the environment dramatically adds to happiness. Example: a famous study of elderly nursing home patients in the 1970s. It showed dramatic improvements in life satisfaction from elements of control as seemingly insignificant as being able to care for one's plants.

Similarly, conservative/libertarian philosophy emphasizes self-reliance and an individual's control over his own destiny. This may explain why surveys show Republicans to be happier than Democrats.

This also may explain inter-continental differences. Mark Steyn, a Canadian, notes that the Euro-socialism that Democrats frequently praise has not helped Europeans feel better:

In my book "America Alone," I note a global survey on optimism: 61 percent of Americans were optimistic about the future, 29 percent of the French, 15 percent of Germans. Take it from a foreigner: In my experience, Americans are the least "bitter" people in the developed world. Secular, gun-free big-government Europe doesn't seem to have done anything for people's happiness.
So, Sen. Obama's "bitter" and "clinging" to guns theory may just be another example of an unhappy liberal projecting his emotions onto others.

Hat tip: Marginal Revolution

Is it all about hate?

Nora Ephron, an Academy Award nominated playwright, says the upcoming Democratic primary in Pennsylvania will be about hate:
[N]ow that there are only two Democratic candidates, it's suddenly horribly absolutely crystal-clear that this is an election about gender and race. .... This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women.
Of course, as a true liberal, she doesn't admit to harboring hate herself. No, she projects it onto white men:
And when I say people, I don't mean people, I mean white men.
(Note that, according to Ms. Ephron, white men aren't even 'people.') She says her opinion of white men comes from her personal experience:
[W]hite men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them.
Ms. Ephron is married to Nicholas Pileggi. He has my sympathy.

PREVIOUSLY, liberal theories of identity group politics were discussed here, here, here, and here. For more on Ms. Ephron's hate, see Ed Morrissey, and Top of the Ticket.

Short memories

Short memories seem to be a prerequisite for liberalism. Consider's attack on Sen. Clinton:
In a statement to The Huffington Post, MoveOn's Executive Director Eli Pariser reacted strongly to Clinton's remarks: "Senator Clinton has her facts wrong again. MoveOn never opposed the war in Afghanistan, and we set the record straight years ago when Karl Rove made the same claim.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Identity group politics in dispute

The Democratic party has been wracked by a three-way conflict between those who advocate (a) voting your gender, (b) voting your race, or (c) voting based on candidate's identity group victim status. Camille Paglia, a feminist supporting Sen. Obama, writes:

The scrum is on! Feminist grand panjandrums like Gloria Steinem have leapt back into the arena, while younger women have seized the feminist banner to proclaim Hillary the messianic Wonder Woman, destined to smash the glass ceiling of the presidency.

All women, on pain of excommunication from the feminist claque, must now support Hillary. Never mind her spotty record or her naked political expediency. Any woman with the temerity to endorse Barack Obama (as I do) is condemned as a "traitor" to her sex.

In addition to the vote-your-gender argument, Ms. Paglia writes that Gloria Steinem is also claiming the victim-status argument in favor of Sen. Clinton:
"Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life," trumpeted Steinem earlier this year in an article promoting Hillary in the New York Times. Barriers of race, class or economics are waved away as mere frippery.
While some may regard Ms. Steinem's victim status argument as definitive, other feminists have argued that higher victim status should be given to race. By contrast, Ms. Paglia seems to reject the liberal identity group concepts and focuses instead on issues such as skills and experience:

Hillary has always been a policy wonk, a functionary attuned to bureaucratic process, but she has never shown executive ability, which makes her quest for the presidency problematic. Hillary's disastrous botching of national healthcare reform in 1993 (a project to which her husband rashly appointed her) will live in infamy. Obama may also have limited executive experience, but he has no comparable stain on his record.

The argument, therefore, that Hillary's candidacy marks the zenith of modern feminism is specious. Feminism is not well served by her surrogates' constant tactic of attributing all opposition to her as a function of entrenched sexism. Well into her second term as a US Senator, Hillary lacks a single example of major legislative achievement.

The argument that presidents should be chosen, not by identity group, but rather on the basis of skills, experience or character is likely to cause a furor within the Democratic community. An early example would be this blogpost in which Ms. Paglia is called a "right winger." Of course, as an Obama supporter, Ms. Paglia is far from 'right wing,' but that is irrelevant in places where ad hominem substitutes for thought.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's a paradox!

Washington Post reporter Robert Pierre writes about a strange fact:

The District has the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation, according to a report that says jails nationwide are bursting at the seams even though crime is nearly as low as it has been in 30 years. [emphasis added.]

So, why is it that crime goes down when the criminals are in jail? What a paradox!

PREVIOUS attempts by liberals to deal with this conundrum are discussed here and here.

Hat tip: BotW

What does it mean?

At this year's Democrat convention, 'peace' protesters "intend to throw bags of urine and blood on cops." This reminds me of two prominent leftists: Chris Ofili, the 'artist' who created a painting of the virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung, and Andre Serrano who immersed in urine an image of Christ in a work of 'art' entitled "Piss Christ." Democrats thought that both artists' work was important enough that government subsidies were required. What all these examples have in common is that the a significant group on the left has a fascination with excrement. I am sure that a psychiatrist would find that meaningful.

PREVIOUSLY: "Art or hate crime: you decide."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Liberal true-believer

The naivety of the "world peace" crowd never ceases to amaze, as the BBC reports:
An Italian woman artist who was hitch-hiking to the Middle East dressed as a bride to promote world peace has been found murdered in Turkey.

The naked body of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, known as Pippa Bacca, was found in bushes near the northern city of Gebze on Friday.

She had said she wanted to show that she could put her trust in the kindness of local people.

When a liberal wants to put her beliefs to the the test individually, it is, I suppose, noble, even if tragic. The greater problem is when, through politics, they try to force the rest of us to join them in their suicide attempts.

Update (Feb. 2009): Police say she was gang-raped before she was murdered. One suspect is on trial.

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

UN admits to temporary global cooling

From the (London) Telegraph:

Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World
Meteorological Organisation, said temperatures in 2008 are likely to be
cooler because of the effects of the La Nina in the central and eastern

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sen. Obama's chosen theology

Barack Obama's church explains its vision as follows:
"The vision statement of Trinity United Church of Christ is based upon the systematized liberation theology that started in 1969 with the publication of Dr. James Cone’s book, Black Power and Black Theology." [sic.]
So what is in Dr. Cone's book? Excerpts are available online. Here is a sample:
"But the charge of black racism cannot be reconciled with the facts. While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism. Racism, according to Webster, is 'the assumption that psychocultural traits and capacities are determined by biological race and that races differ decisively from one another, which is usually coupled with a belief in the inherent superiority of a particular race and its rights to dominance over others.' Where are the examples among blacks in which they sought to assert their right to dominance over others because of a belief in black superiority?" [emphasis added]
First it is clear that Dr. Cone's theology is one that accepts race hatred. (That makes Sen. Obama's claim to be a unifier less than plausible.) Second, as for the word "racism," it is clear that Dr. Cone does not understand the meaning of "usually" as used in a dictionary definition.

You might want to think that Dr. Cone doesn't hate all whites but he has this to say about "all whites":

[A]ll white men are responsible for white oppression. It is much too easy to say, "Racism is not my fault," or "I am not responsible for the country's inhumanity to the black man." The American white man has always had an easy conscience. .... If whites are honest in their analysis of the moral state of this society, they know that all are responsible. [p.24; emphasis original]
So what is about the white race that makes such racism possible? Dr. Cone explains:
Racism is possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty. [p.24]
Since Dr. Cone is a "Christian," it is clear where this is going theologically:
The demonic forces of racism are real for the black man. Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man "the devil." The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the New Testament meant by the demonic forces. According to the New Testament, these powers can get a hold of a man's total being and can control his life to such a degree that he is incapable of distinguishing himself from the alien power. This seems to be what has happened to to white racism in America. [pp. 40-41]
So, if whites are not techically the devil himself, as Malcolm X believed, they are at least, according to Dr. Cone, under the Devil's "total" "control."

It may be tempting to dismiss Dr. Cone as an insignificant nut but he is a central figure in Sen. Obama's church. Here, for example, is Obama's preacher, Rev. Wright, on Hannity and Colmes, declaring the importance of Dr. Cone:

HANNITY: I'm very aware of what you're calling black liberation, but let me get my question out.


WRIGHT: I said, do you know black theology?

HANNITY: Reverend, I'm going to give you a chance to answer my question.

WRIGHT: How many of Cone's books have you read? How many of Cone's book have you read?

Sen. Obama has chosen to raise his kids in a church that believes that whites, as a race, are "indifferent to suffering," that "all whites" are racists and are under the "total" "control" of the devil.

Some try to claim that black liberation theology merely advocates an "inward affirmation" and is nothing to worry about. Others pretend that the controversy is merely because Rev. Wright's rhetoric was taken "out of context." But, in context, Dr. Cone's book demonstrates that Sen. Obama's chosen theology is racist and hateful.

We want change!

Charles R. Kesler, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, examines the riddle that is the Obama campaign phenomenon:
OF ALL of the presidential contenders’ slogans this year, Barack Obama’s have been the most interesting. His campaign creed is: “Yes, we can.” To which any reasonable person would ask: “Can what?” The answer, of course, is: “Hope.” But again, a reasonable person might ask: “Hope for what?” To which the answer confidently comes back from the Obama campaign: “For change.” Indeed Obama’s signs say: “Change We Can Believe In,” as opposed, one supposes, to the unbelievable changes. But the elementary problem with this—which any student of logic might raise—is that change can be for the better or for the worse.
He explains this as follows:
Democrats in general, I would submit, confuse change with improvement. They fail to weigh the costs and benefits of change, to consider its unintended consequences, or to worry about what we need to conserve and how we might go about doing that faithfully. They ask Americans to embrace change for its own sake, in the faith that history is governed by a law of progress, which guarantees that change is almost always an improvement.
In my observations, many Democrats go a step further: many, not all, consider the act of weighing of "costs and benefits" or the consideration of "unintended consequences" to be evidence of betrayal or heresy. They believe the world to be perfectible, as Obama himself claimed here and here, the kind of world, for example, where everyone can have "free" health care. Asking them to "weigh" or "consider" is tantamount to doubting that the perfect world is achievable.

More on Kesler's article can be found at Diminished Expectations and at Seventh Sola.

Global warming's riches

For those who suspect that the real issue in global warming is who gets to control the "billions of dollars," possibly "trillions," to be spent, this Reuters article provides supporting evidence:

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Developing countries and environmental groups accused the World Bank on Friday of trying to seize control of the billions of dollars of aid that will be used to tackle climate change in the next four decades.

"The World Bank's foray into climate change has gone down like a lead balloon," Friends of the Earth campaigner Tom Picken said at the end of a major climate change conference in the Thai capital.

"Many countries and civil society have expressed outrage at the World Bank's attempted hijacking of real efforts to fund climate change efforts," he said. ....

As well as the obvious arguments about how much money will be needed -- some estimates run into the trillions of dollars by 2050 -- rich and poor countries are struggling even to agree on a bank manager.

At the week-long Bangkok conference, the World Bank pushed its proposals for a $5-10 billion Clean Technology Fund, a $500 million "adaptation" fund and possibly a third fund dealing with forestry.

However, developing countries want climate change cash to be administered through the existing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which they feel is much less under the control of the Group of 8 (G8) richest countries.

With any luck, international bureaucrats will do as well with global warming as they did with oil-for-food.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Privacy: a thing of the past?

Hospital employees often need to access patients' medical records. At other times, the access them for fun:
Last month, 13 UCLA Medical Center employees were fired and several others were disciplined for accessing Britney Spears’ medical records. Just last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that another employee had been let go for viewing the confidential file of ’70s “Charlie’s Angels” icon Farrah Fawcett, who had been receiving cancer treatment.....

Though the Spears and Fawcett cases are the ones that received media attention, employees in offices campus-wide can easily find themselves snooping in the files of normal people going about their daily lives at UCLA.

Employees at Wisconsin's WE Energy utility also enjoyed access to private private customer records as a perk of their jobs:
A landlord snooped on tenants to find out information about their finances. A woman repeatedly accessed her ex-boyfriend's account after a difficult breakup. Another obtained her child's father's address so she could serve him court papers.

All worked for Wisconsin's largest utility, where employees routinely accessed confidential information about acquaintances, local celebrities and others from its massive customer database. ....

"People were looking at an incredible number of accounts," Joan Shafer, WE Energies' vice president of customer service, said during a sworn deposition last year. "Politicians, community leaders, board members, officers, family, friends. All over the place."

Sometimes people use their access to databases not for fun but for profit as in the case of at least 90 UC Irvine students whose tax refunds were stolen:

At least 90 University of California, Irvine graduate students have reported to campus police that they were the victims of identity theft, by people who fraudulently filed tax returns using their names and social security numbers to collect refunds, campus officials confirmed today.

Most students discovered the thefts when they tried to file their tax returns electronically, and were informed by the IRS that their returns had already been filed, officials said.

While you should shred private information before putting it in the trash, there is little one can do to protect oneself from these threats unless one wants to drop out of school, turn the utilities off, and refuse medical care.

PREVIOUSLY, on the subject of privacy, courts have ruled that you have no right to privacy if you send your hard disk in for repair. Also, courts were disputing whether e-mail should be considered private or not.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

News of the unhinged: Air America Edition

Talk show host Randi Rhodes has been suspended from Air America radio after she called Hillary Clinton a "big f**king whore" several times and referring to Geraldine Ferraro as "David Duke in drag".

The left often talks of conservative radio hosts as being "hate mongerers" who "poison" the airwaves. But, episodes such as this one with Randi Rhodes, another Air America episode, and among many, many, many others, illustrate that such talk is merely psychological projection.

RELATED: With compelling and witty personalities such as Ms. Rhodes, FullosseousFlap observes: "And, they wonder why progressive talk radio cannot sell advertising……"

Obama v. Clinton: the media takes a stand

"If he steps in a puddle, the headline will read 'Obama Walks on Water'." (scroll down to "Audacity of Hype" for supporting examples.)

Another example of the fawning coverage of Obama is here.
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