Monday, June 30, 2008

Victory through censorship

Google flagged at least seven anti-Obama blogs as spam and shut them down at least temporarily. It seems that the targeted blogs (click for list) were not conservative but rather pro-Hillary. For example, "Hillary or Bust" has moved from Google's blogspot to a new URL while Nobama has moved from blogspot to wordpress. It is not clear yet whether (see update) this move was by Google's political arm or the result of a dirty tricks campaign by Obama supporters.

UPDATE: Google is now suggesting another possibility: "While we are still investigating, we believe this may have been caused by mass spam e-mails mentioning the “Just Say No Deal” network of blogs, which in turn caused our system to classify the blog addresses mentioned in the e-mails as spam."

UPDATE II: The New York Times now has this story (but no new info).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Big Man of the Democratic Party

The Telegraph (UK) reports:
Bill Clinton is so bitter about Barack Obama's victory over his wife Hillary that he has told friends the Democratic nominee will have to beg for his wholehearted support. Bill Clinton; Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must 'kiss my ass' for his support. ....

The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence.

A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support.
So it goes in the party of peace, love, tolerance, and diversity.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Money talks and Democrats listen

Last week, the House approved compromise legislation shielding telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits regarding their cooperation with the government terror surveillance under FISA. The legislation passed because 94 Democrats who voted against the March 14 version changed in favor on June 20. calculated how much these votes cost:
Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint gave PAC contributions averaging:

$8,359 to each Democrat who changed their position to support immunity for Telcos (94 Dems)

$4,987 to each Democrat who remained opposed to immunity for Telcos (116 Dems)
Maplight provided no information on how much Republican votes cost.

CBSnews, the (UK) Inquirer, and Media General News Service all have stories based on the Maplight press release.

The ACLU is anti-civil liberties

In their Supreme-Court-year-end press release, the ACLU expresses its disappointment that the court stood firm that the right to bear arms is an individual civil liberty (right to self defense) rather than, as the ACLU would prefer, a right reserved for the government.

Another essential for people supposedly living in a democracy is fair and honest elections. The Supreme Court upheld this right in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. The ACLU, on the losing side of the case, wanted to make vote fraud easier by allowing anyone to vote without any form of identification.

Hat tip: BotW.

Repeat after me: Sen. Obama is not a flip-flopper

According to the NY Times (also printed in the IHT), Sen. Obama does not flip flop. Instead his path is "marked by artful leaps and turns." Obama takes "calibrated positions on the issues." He didn't flip flop on campaign finance. Instead "he backed away from his own earlier support for campaign finance spending limits in the 2008 election." This is a virtue because he shows "an appreciation for the virtues of political ambiguity." Such ambiguities show that Obama is "introspective":
Mr. Obama is an introspective candidate, and perhaps the best analyst of his own political style. “I serve as a blank screen,” he wrote in “The Audacity of Hope,” “on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."
It is said that there is a fool born every minute but for some reason they always end up writing at the New York Times.

MORE on Obama's flip flopping at PowerLine and on the political mastery of his flip-flops at Being. On the other hand, a progressive finds Obama's trip to the center "disturbing."

George Carlin, 1937-2008

George Carlin, RIP, explains the psychology of environmentalism in this riff entitled "the Planet is Fine" (languange sanitized by Ross Balano):

We're so self-important. So self-important. Everybody's going to save something now. "Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails." And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these (freaking) people kidding me? Save the planet, we don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the (freaking) planet?

I'm getting tired of that (stuff). Tired of that (stuff). I'm tired of (freaking) Earth Day, I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren't enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don't give a (stuff) about the planet. They don't care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don't. Not in the abstract they don't. You know what they're interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They're worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn't impress me.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are (freaked). Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We've been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we're a threat? That somehow we're gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that's just a-floatin' around the sun?

The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles...hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages...And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet...the planet...the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!

Outrage of the day

"I'm sure they [al Qaeda] are watching, and I'm glad they finally have a chance to see you, Mr. Addington, given your penchant for being unobtrusive." --Rep. Wm. Delahunt (D-Mass), spoken to Cheney Chief of Staff David Addington in a hearing broadcast by CSPAN

Their exchange, with more context, is at CBSnews and in the video below. According to FoxNews, Rep. Delahunt's explanation is:

Delahunt said he was just trying to express that he was glad to see Addington. Delahunt said he recalls saying "I," not "they," during the testimony – though the video, broadcast on C-SPAN, shows he was talking about Al Qaeda.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

56,000 marine species annihilated!

56,000 species of marine life have disappeared but not because of anti-environmental activities of evil corporations. No, they disappeared because they were miscounted in the first place, as AFP reports:
Scientists have identified some 122,500 species of marine life in the oceans and have managed to clear up some 56,000 cases of double-identity as part of a global research project.
Ultimately, the scientists on the project expect to see a large increase in the number of species:
But [Prof.] Bouchet [of the Natural History Museum in Paris] said the work completed so far represents just "the tip of the iceberg, given all the species that remain to be discovered and are continually being discovered."

Before the cataloguing is done, he said, researchers could uncover "five times as many marine species" as those currently known.

Disaster coming

"Almost every day a news report comes out linking something to climate change – obesity, food riots or a century of wildfires. Some of the claims seem especially outlandish. Sometimes they are." --Jeff Poor

"Global warming could increase terrorism, official says" --

(It was only a couple days ago that global warming was going to 'cause' earthquakes.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Ironically," conservatives and their children are happier

Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal reports on a new study of parenting styles regarding teen dating. This is what the study has to say about 'conservative' parents and their children:
Parents who are involved in stable romantic relationships with spouses or partners tend more than other parents to set rules limiting teen dating behavior, such as curfews, minimum ages for dating, limits on places teens can go and explicit rules against sexual activity, says a new study of 169 parents and 102 teens by Stephanie Madsen, an associate professor of psychology at Maryland's McDaniel College. While the reason isn't clear, the author suggests these parents may hold more conservative beliefs in general; many of the rules involved sexuality.

Ironically, in what other researchers have called the "Romeo and Juliet" effect, such rules may tend to drive teenage lovers closer; teens of these parents reported closer, more positive relationships.

So, people with stable, romantic relationships tended to be conservative and their children reported more positive dating relationships. Why does Shellenbarger write "ironically"? Is this one of those things that liberals consider to be a 'paradox'?

Regarding the other group of parents, Shellenbarger reports:
Parents who are unhappy, dissatisfied or insecure in love, however, go beyond limits and try to dictate or control how their teens treat their dates, the study found. These parents try to influence their kids to value certain things and act in specific ways. Parents would tell teens to open doors for dates, "act like a gentleman" (or a lady), or resist letting a date "walk all over" them. The goal may be to launch their teens on a romantic path happier than their own, Dr. Madsen says. But kids often regard this advice as intrusive, and again, it tended to have the opposite effect. The teens affected weren't particularly content with their dating relationships. [all emphasis added]
So, parents in the non-conservative group were unhappy and became control freaks with unhappy results for their children.

PREVIOUSLY, poll results showing that Republicans are happier than Democrats are discussed here and here. This difference in outlook on life likely explains, for example, why Democrats more readily condone unethical behavior (see here). Unhappiness also affects Sen. Obama's rhetoric (see here) and that of Sen. Clinton's supporters (see here).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Name that party

James Taranto writes:

The Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considering passing a "Jessica's law." Named after 12-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who was raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender, the proposed law would require a mandatory 20-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of raping a child under 12.

The Boston Herald reports that Rep. James Fagan is a critic of the legislation:

Fagan, a defense attorney, infuriated victims' rights advocates during a recent House debate when he said he would "rip apart" 6-year-old victims on the witness stand and "make sure the rest of their life is ruined."
In a fiery soliloquy on the House floor, Fagan said he'd grill victims so that, "when they're 8 years old they throw up; when they're 12 years old, they won't sleep; when they're 19 years old, they'll have nightmares and they'll never have a relationship with anybody."
Fagan did not return calls seeking comment.

What political party does Fagan belong to? The Herald doesn't say, but we'll give you three guesses.

If you don't like guessing, you can find Rep. Fagan's party listed here. Don Surber, who named this variety of media bias, has a large collection of 'name that party' examples here . Glenn Reynolds' has more examples here.

Hatred sometimes requires blindness

Last year, T. Boone Pickens issued a challenge. He would pay $1 million to anyone who could prove false any of the allegations made in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads. So far, no one has attempted to present such proof. Sen. Kerry requested the money based on his claim that he was "prepared to prove the lie." Despite his 'preparations,' no such proof ever appeared. (Kerry also promised to release his military records but he hasn't done that either.) Now, this has Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh upset. After 'doubting' that Mr. Boone was a 'man of [his] word,' Lehigh writes:

Last November, you certainly sounded like a standup guy. Speaking at a dinner for the conservative American Spectator magazine, you said that you'd give $1 million to anyone who could prove that anything the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (or SBVT, in political shorthand) had said about Kerry was false.

Given that media outlets from the Washington Post to The New York Times to the Chicago Tribune to "Nightline" to the Globe have all highlighted the various ways that SBVT's anti-Kerry claims ran contrary to both official and eyewitness accounts, your challenge was more than a little foolhardy.

While there were many news stories attempting to smear the SBVT, if any of those media outlets had actually proved that any SBVT allegation was false, Lehigh mentions not a single one. If Lehigh had found a news story with such proof, then Lehigh himself could present it to Mr. Pickens and claim the $1 million prize himself. But, that would require that he actually get to know the facts and that would likely interfere with his indignation.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Public skepticism of media hype

The public, at least in Britain, smells a con job. The Guardian reports:
The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer.

Ipsos MORI polled 1,039 adults and found that six out of 10 agreed that 'many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change', and that four out of 10 'sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people say'. In both cases, another 20 per cent were not convinced either way. Despite this, three quarters still professed to be concerned about climate change.

One reason for public skepticism is likely the lack of skepticism displayed by the news media. Take, for example, this week's stories on global warming 'causing' earthquakes. As Jeff Poor writes:
Almost every day a news report comes out linking something to climate change – obesity, food riots or a century of wildfires. Some of the claims seem especially outlandish. Sometimes they are.

On June 18, posted a story claiming that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago because of global warming. The story had no byline, but was attributed to the Associated Press. The story was identical to a June 17 Market Wire press release attributed to Tom Chalko, the scientist that made the claim of the earthquake/global warming link.

However, as of 3 p.m. on June 19, the story was no longer available and both and AP were blaming the other side for report.

Chalko has done worked pertaining to the “Thiaoouba Prophecy,” a theory the supernatural is connected to the stories in the Bible and a theory about auras, which contends “everything in the Universe seems to be just a vibration.”

Dr. Luboš Motl, a former Harvard physicist called Chalko an “übercrackpot” on his blog on June 19 and questioned Chalko’s claim about the increase in seismic energy.
As I write, MSNBC's version of the story is still online. While the original CBS version is gone, a cached version is here. CBS wrote:
The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of "global warming" is comprehensively and urgently addressed.
This excerpt shows why the found the story too good to check: it is filled with standard liberal anxiety rhetoric about an "alarming" and "destructive" problem that demands "comprehensive" and "urgent" solution.

Dr. Chalko's theory (full text, PDF) seems to have been published in a journal of Chalko's creation. More discussion on the subject is found here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Emmy for best politics goes to

The Emmy for best politics goes to for his "Yes We Can" Obama sing-a-long. ShowbizSpy reports:'s video tribute to U.S. presidential wannabe BARACK OBAMA has earned the BLACK EYED PEAS star his first Emmy Award.

The Yes We Can Song promo, which was inspired by one of Democratic presidential candidate Obama's stirring speeches, was honoured with an Emmy in the inaugural New Approaches in Daytime Entertainment category at the 35th Annual Creative Arts + Entertainment Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony in New York on Friday (13Jun08).

Yes, they had to create a new category for this Emmy.

"The Nobel prize for best politics"
"The Oscar for best politics goes to"
"And, the Grammy for best politics"

Hat tip: GatewayPundit

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Imaginary crises

Tomatoes are rotten and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman sees a crisis in the food industry and he blames "hard-core" "conservatives":
Lately, however, there always seems to be at least one food-safety crisis in the headlines — tainted spinach, poisonous peanut butter and, currently, the attack of the killer tomatoes. The declining credibility of U.S. food regulation has even led to a foreign-policy crisis: there have been mass demonstrations in South Korea protesting the pro-American prime minister’s decision to allow imports of U.S. beef, banned after mad cow disease was detected in 2003.

How did America find itself back in The Jungle?

It started with ideology. Hard-core American conservatives have long idealized the Gilded Age, ....

Such hard-core opponents of regulation were once part of the political fringe, but with the rise of modern movement conservatism they moved into the corridors of power.
Alex Tabarrok of MarginalRevolution has looked at the numbers and found, to the contrary, that foodborne-disease outbreaks peaked in 2000 under the Clinton administration and have declined since then:

PREVIOUSLY, the liberals' beliefs in looming disasters have been discussed here, here, here, and here. This is likely a consequence of the depressed/unhappy outlook which surveys indicate Democrats suffer. (As a particular example, Sen. Obama's outlook on life is discussed here.

Hat tip: Reason.

Thinking like adolescents

In response to gasoline prices that are now over $4/gallon, the Democrats proposed a bill to raise taxes on oil companies. Of course, there is no economic theory under which raising taxes on oil companies causes oil prices to go down. So, what are they thinking? I think that becomes clear when you review their rhetoric. For one:
U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski said it's time for to stand up to the big oil companies and "shout out, dammit, we've had enough."
For another, former Governor and US Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) says:
"We need a United States Senator who will stand up to the big oil companies and fight ...."
Sen. John Edwards says:
"We need to stand up to the big oil companies ...."
When it comes to standing up, Sen. Clinton says she does it better than Sen. Obama:
"When it came time to stand up against the oil companies, to stand against Dick Cheney’s energy bill, my opponent voted for it and I voted against it.”
Schoolchildren who have "had enough" should "stand up to" a bully. Is the Democrats oil policy based on the principle that oil companies should be treated as if they were 'bullies'? Are domestic oil companies raising prices not because, with domestic oil exploration all but forbidden, they are forced to buy crude for record prices on the world market but rather because they are bullies being mean to poor consumers? Is this just another case of Democrats trying to solve adult problems of allocating scarce resources by using inappropriate childhood analogies? That explanation is consistent with this statement from another Democrat governor:
"The President of the United States -- the most powerful man in the world -- is too chicken to stand up to the big oil companies," Governor Jennifer Granholm [D-MI] told the crowd to rousing applause. [as above, emphasis added]
So, according to Gov. Granholm, Pres. Bush's policy decision is not based on reasons of economics or philosophy. No, the reason that Pres. Bush doesn't "stand up to big oil companies" is that he is "chicken"! Again, this points to reasoning via childhood analogy on the part of a Democrat.

PREVIOUSLY, I have noted various uses of inappropriate childhood analogies by Democrats and by ("pro-life liberal") Gov. Huckabee. These childhood analogies often involve either the search for a parent figure or justifications for behaving like children or treating peers as children. Examples are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

RELATED: A comparison of Democrat and Republican approaches to lowering oil prices is here. A look at where the Democrats have forbidden oil exploration is here. For more on Rep. Kanjorski, see here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, 1950-2008

Two things make Tim Russert exceptional among MSM journalists: (1) he studied the facts before he conducted an interview and (2) using those facts, he asked hard questions of both sides. He will be missed.

Somebody didn't get the memo

According to the Jerusalem Post:
Barack Obama's half brother Malik said Thursday that if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.

In an interview with Army Radio he expressed a special salutation from the Obamas of Kenya. [emphasis added.]

The issue of whether, under Islamic law, Barack's father and step-father being Muslim necessarily means that Barack was born Muslim, which would thereby make him now an apostate, is discussed in detail here.

Hat tip: GatewayPundit.

UPDATE: According to the Jerusalem Post, another possible interpretation/translation of Malik's statement is that the 'background' that Malik was referring to was the Obama family background, that is, their father's religion and, consequently, that Malik was not making a statement, as many interpreted it, about the way that Barack was raised.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Politicized science

If you were alive in the 1980s, you may remember the public service announcements making hysterical claims about how an epidemic of AIDS/HIV was spreading through the general heterosexual community. There was never any evidence for this. The tragedy, of course, is that, at the cost of no one knows how many lives, these claims caused valuable AIDS resources to be diverted from those in genuine need to those not in need. The (UK) Telegraph reported yesterday that the World Health Organization has finally admitted the folly. James Taranto summarizes the Telegraph article and some of the scare mongering that preceded it:
"A quarter of a century after the outbreak of Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has disappeared," reports the Independent, a leftist London daily:
In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.

Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.

Dr De Cock said: "It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalised epidemic in Asia--China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. But we have to be careful. As an epidemiologist it is better to describe what we can measure. There could be small outbreaks in some areas."

Oh, well, never mind! Anyone old enough to remember the 1980s will recall that America was subjected to a heterosexual AIDS scare. As Time magazine reported in 1985:
By early this year, most Americans had become aware of AIDS, conscious of a trickle of news about a disease that was threatening homosexuals and drug addicts. AIDS, the experts said, was spreading rapidly. The number of cases was increasing geometrically, doubling every ten months, and the threat to heterosexuals appeared to be growing. But it was the shocking news two weeks ago of Actor Rock Hudson's illness that finally catapulted AIDS out of the closet, transforming it overnight from someone else's problem, a "gay plague," to a cause of international alarm. AIDS was suddenly a front-page disease, the lead item on the evening news and a frequent topic on TV talk shows.
Two years later, "How Heterosexuals Are Coping With AIDS" was the topic of a Time cover story:
At first AIDS seemed an affliction of drug addicts and especially of homosexuals, a "gay disease." No longer. The numbers as yet are small, but AIDS is a growing threat to the heterosexual population. Straight men and women in some cases do not believe it, in some cases do not want to believe it. But barring the development of a vaccine, swingers of all persuasions may sooner or later be faced with the reality of a new era of sexual caution and restraint.
Now perhaps it is true that the AIDS scare bred "sexual caution and restraint." It did strike us on reading this passage that the word swingers sounds awfully quaint.

In 1991, basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced that he was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The following year, a Time cover declared: "Losing the Battle: Mysterious Non-HIV Cases Emerge. The Search for a Cure Stalls. Infection Among Women Grows."

And then . . . the AIDS scare fizzled out. Treatments improved; Magic Johnson reportedly has not contracted full-blown AIDS, nearly 17 years after his HIV diagnosis. The disease did not spread to the general population in America--or, as WHO now acknowledges, in most of the rest of the world.

A search of Time covers turns up only three dealing with AIDS since 1992: one in 1996 on Johnson's brief return to the NBA; another that same year on AIDS researcher David Ho, Time's Man of the Year; and one in 2001, on AIDS in Africa. (We don't mean to single out Time, which happens to be one of the few news sources with comprehensive archives available on the Web.)

None of this is to gainsay concern over AIDS in Africa, which is a genuine catastrophe. But the dire warnings of the 1980s that everyone was at risk from AIDS turned out to be false. Those warnings made for more gripping journalism, of course, and they also served certain ideological interests. Social conservatives, who believed sex outside marriage was wrong, were able to argue that it was dangerous as well. (To be fair, it is, but not nearly as much so as the late-'80s AIDS reportage would have had us believe.)

Gay-rights advocates, meanwhile, overcame a huge threat to their cause. Without the heterosexual AIDS scare, it is unlikely that homosexuality would have achieved the degree of public acceptance it has since the 1980s. Indeed, gays might have found themselves abandoned by liberals, who today tend to value hygiene over individual freedom (and if you don't believe us, try walking into a gay bar in New York City and lighting a cigarette).

The AIDS epidemic that wasn't is one reason we are skeptical of global warmism, another purported cataclysm that is supposedly just around the corner, that is purportedly based on science but about which one may not ask questions, and that dovetails conveniently with pre-existing ideological agendas.

Ten or 20 years hence, will we be reading articles about the U.N. admitting that global warming wasn't all it was cracked up to be? Let's hope so.

PREVIOUSLY, on the subject of politicized science, I noted an attack by gay-rights activists on research investigating how hormones affect the sex lives of rams at Oregon State University. Research showing that the subject of human "vegetative states" is not as simple as political advocates have claimed was discussed here. Politicization of research into crime statistics (and how reporters spin the results) was discussed here. Some of the attempts to use the bee's colony collapse disorder for political purposes were mentioned here. The difference between the political certainty and the scientific uncertainty surrounding the effect of fluorocarbons on the ozone hole is discussed here.

New laws fail to slow identity theft

PC World reports that the laws against identity theft have been a failure:
Over the past five years, 43 U.S. states have adopted data breach notification laws, but has all of this legislation actually cut down on identity theft? Not according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who have published [PDF] a state-by-state analysis of data supplied by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

"There doesn't seem to be any evidence that the laws actually reduce identity theft," said Sasha Romanosky, a Ph.D student at Carnegie Mellon who is one of the paper's authors.

This will come as a surprise to the liberal/statist group CAPIRG which had declared that California's identity theft law "is working" even before it took effect.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

17% of US voters claim newsmedia unbiased

Rasmussen reports:

Just 17% of voters nationwide believe that most reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of election campaigns. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that four times as many—68%--believe most reporters try to help the candidate that they want to win.

The perception that reporters are advocates rather than observers is held by 82% of Republicans, 56% of Democrats, and 69% of voters not affiliated with either major party. The skepticism about reporters cuts across income, racial, gender, and age barriers.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Leader worship

You may have thougth that Sen. Obama was merely a politician famous for his flip flops on key issues but Mark Morford, a columnist for the online San Francisco Chronicle, explains otherwise:
Barack Obama isn't really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway. ....

The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics?

No, it's not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm, didn't have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity.

Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence ....

Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.

The unusual thing is, true Lightworkers almost never appear on such a brutal, spiritually demeaning stage as national politics. This is why Obama is so rare. And this why he is so often compared to Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., to those leaders in our culture whose stirring vibrations still resonate throughout our short history. ....

There's a vast amount of positive energy swirling about that's been held back by the armies of BushCo darkness, and this energy has now found a conduit, a lightning rod, is now effortlessly self-organizing around Obama's candidacy. People and emotions and ideas of high and positive vibration are automatically drawn to him. [emphasis original]

For Democrats, it is not sufficient that a president be the the politician-in-chief. In their world view, they need to imagine the president as their father or spiritual leader who can transcend mere politics. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is because their own fathers failed in the role.

Hat tip: Newsbusters, LRC, and Obamessiah.

Remembering the "torture" debate

During a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, two congressmen got into a debate, as the AP reported yesterday:
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on Wednesday dismissed the idea that taunting terrorism suspects with women's panties is a form of torture.

In a debate about detainee treatment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the California Republican cited panties eight times, arguing that making suspected terrorists wear women's underwear on their heads isn't demeaning and degrading enough to be called torture.

He is referring to the claims made by Democrats and the MSM after Abu Graib that "panties on the head" incident that happened one night constituted "torture." Pressed on this issue, the Democrat retreated to the position that they were really talking about waterboarding:
An exasperated Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., reminded Rohrabacher that interrogators were also seen physically abusing detainees.

"This isn't about panties on the head," Delahunt said. "This is about physical pressure, waterboarding and other techniques that apparently were utilized at Guantanamo."

When not so pressed on the subject, Democrats have expoused very broad definitions of torture as Sen Durbin famously did when he claimed that malfunctioning air conditioning constituted torture the same as the Nazis or the Soviets would have used. Sen. Durbin said (full text from the congressional record is here as PDF.):
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Many Americans pay good money to fly to a Carribean island and sleep in tents. Despite the lack of air conditioning, they consider it 'vacation' rather than 'torture.' Does Sen. Durbin really think that our playing rap music to prisoners is equivalent to the worst that Dr. Mengele did? Like Rep. Delahunt, Sen. Durbin also retreated, at least a little, as the Washington Post reported:
On Friday, Durbin retreated from comments he made on the Senate floor Tuesday but stopped short of an apology. "I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood," he said in a statement.
There is something extraordinarily irresponsible about making claims that help the enemy propagandists but then, when pressed, admitting that you hadn't thought it through carefully.

Re-imagining D-Day

Roger Kimball imagines the news from 64-years ago today as it would be reported by today's news media:
Breaking news! US Army pinned down in bungled assault. Huge civilian casualties. Experts fear grave damage to the environment!

June 6, 1944. -NORMANDY- Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more wounded today in the first hours of America’s invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children.

Most of the French casualties were the result of the artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated and reaction against the American invasion was running high. “We are dying for no reason,” said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. “Americans can’t even shoot straight. I never thought I’d say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler.”

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, threatening the species with extinction.

More on D-Day here and here.

This video from 2007, particularly the second half of it, is a classic:

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The correct facts or merely wishful thinking?

The New York Times often writes articles with obvious falsehoods that are never corrected (see here for example). By contrast, the Times' public editor thought it necessary to "correct" an op-ed by Edward Luttwak:
ON May 12, The Times published an Op-Ed article by Edward N. Luttwak, a military historian, who argued that any hopes that a President Barack Obama might improve relations with the Muslim world were unrealistic because Muslims would be “horrified” once they learned that Obama had abandoned the Islam of his father and embraced Christianity as a young adult.

Under “Muslim law as it is universally understood,” Luttwak wrote, Obama was born a Muslim, and his “conversion” to Christianity was an act of apostasy, a capital offense and “the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit.” While no Muslim country would be likely to prosecute him, Luttwak said, a state visit to such a nation would present serious security challenges “because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards.” ....

The Times Op-Ed page, quite properly, is home to a lot of provocative opinions. But all are supposed to be grounded on the bedrock of fact. Op-Ed writers are entitled to emphasize facts that support their arguments and minimize others that don’t. But they are not entitled to get the facts wrong or to so mangle them that they present a false picture. ....

I interviewed five Islamic scholars, at five American universities, recommended by a variety of sources as experts in the field. All of them said that Luttwak’s interpretation of Islamic law was wrong.

Notice the vague phrasing of that last paragraph: Hoyt does not name the scholars or explain what part of Luttwak's article was "wrong." If one reads further, it becomes clear that the part that Hoyt claims Luttwak got wrong is that he shouldn't have written “Muslim law as it is universally understood.” He should instead have written maybe "nearly" universally understood. For example, Hoyt found this claimed exception for the requirement that, under Muslim law, a child of a Muslim, such as Sen. Obama, must be Muslim:
Sherman A. Jackson, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Michigan, cited an ancient Islamic jurist, Ibn al-Qasim, who said, “If you divorce a Christian woman and ignore your child from her to the point that the child grows up to be a Christian, the child is to be left,” meaning left to make his own choice. Jackson said that there was not total agreement among Islamic jurists on the point, but Luttwak’s assertion to the contrary was wrong.
However, Sen. Obama had not one but two fathers who were Muslim and Hoyt makes no attempt to show that Obama met the standard for having been "ignored" by both of them or even that this "ignored" exception is widely recognized.

Hoyt also found some "experts" who pointed out that a sentence against Obama would not be officially carried out unless Obama were to visit a strict Muslim country. However, despite Hoyt's claims, that is not in disagreement with Luttwak's article.

In 2006, that is, before Sen. Obama's status became a political issue, the BBC wrote on Muslim opinions on the subject of apostasy:

Abdelsabour Shahin, an Islamist writer and academic at Cairo University, told the BBC that although Islam in principle enshrined freedom of belief, there were severe restrictions on that freedom.

"If someone changes from Islam to kufr (unbelief), that has to remain a personal matter, and he should not make it public," he said.

In other words, an apostate in a Muslim society, according to this view, forfeits his freedom of expression. If he goes public he should be executed, says Dr Shahin.

But if the Koran has not stipulated the killing of apostates, how does Dr Shahin come to this judgement?

He says there is an authoritative and unambiguous hadith (saying of the prophet) which calls for the killing of the apostate - "He who changes his religion should be killed", says Dr Shahin, quoting from the sayings of the prophet. [emphasis added]

Others disagree. Professor Abdelmouti Bayoumi of the Islamic Research Academy in Cairo told the BBC that the generality of the aforementioned hadith has been restricted by another hadith from the prophet.

Dr Bayoumi says that according to that hadith changing one's religion alone is not enough for applying capital punishment

He says the apostate has also to be found working against the interests of the Muslim society or nation - only then should he be executed.

These exceptions do not help Sen. Obama. He has made is Christianity public and, as a member of a non-Muslim government, it is easy to argue that he has not always worked for the "interests of the Muslim society or nation." Hoyt's claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the punishment, as Shahin and Bayoumi agree, is execution.

In some versions, there is no need to wait for an official court determination of apostasy: It is the duty of any individual Muslim, acting on his own discretion, to carry out the execution.

To my mind, Hoyt's nitpicking on Luttwak's use of the word "universally" only serves to obscure the fact that large parts of Islam do consider the correct punishment for apostasy to be execution. There is no way to make this compatible with "free speech," "tolerance," "diversity," or "multiculturalism."

Hat tip: BotW.

WMD plotter to plead quilty

The AP reports:
A man accused of joining al-Qaida and plotting to bomb resorts and military bases abroad has agreed to plead guilty, according to federal court documents filed Monday

Christopher Paul, 44, a U.S. citizen who grew up in the Columbus suburb of Worthington, is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, specifically bombs, in terrorist attacks, documents show.

Details are lacking on what type and how close the plotters were to obtaining the "weapon of mass destruction, specifically bombs."

Related posts here and here.

Democrats and Ethics: some poll results

Democrats are always advocating higher taxes. One reason for this seems to be that they think it is OK to cheat on them. Peter Schweizer writes about a Pew survey:
Is it OK to cheat on your taxes? A total of 57 percent of those who described themselves as “very liberal” said yes in response to the World Values Survey, compared with only 20 percent of those who are “very conservative.” When Pew Research asked whether it was “morally wrong” to cheat Uncle Sam, 86 percent of conservatives agreed, compared with only 68 percent of liberals.
He says this attitude extends to business ethics:
A study by professors published in the American Taxation Association’s Journal of Legal Tax Research found conservative students took the issue of accounting scandals and tax evasion more seriously than their fellow liberal students. Those with a “liberal outlook” who “reject the idea of absolute truth” were more accepting of cheating at school, according to another study, involving 291 students and published in the Journal of Education for Business.

A study in the Journal of Business Ethics involving 392 college students found that stronger beliefs toward “conservatism” translated into “higher levels of ethical values.” And academics concluded in the Journal of Psychology that there was a link between “political liberalism” and “lying in your own self-interest,” based on a study involving 156 adults.

Liberals were more willing to “let others take the blame” for their own ethical lapses, “copy a published article” and pass it off as their own, and were more accepting of “cheating on an exam,” according to still another study in the Journal of Business Ethics.

These surveys add to what was previously only anecdotal evidence.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Today's big rumor

Larry Johnson says he has "stunning" videotape to be released Monday. Reportedly, it shows Michelle Obama inside Trinity United Church, railing against "whitey."

More analysis here.

UPDATE: Larry Johnson did not have the tape.

UPDATE: The rumors continue. Two conflicting versions of the transcript of the supposed tape are here.


Stonehenge may have been a royal burial ground, according to new studies. Newsday writes:
Radiocarbon dating of cremated bones excavated from Britain's Stonehenge have solved part of the ancient mystery surrounding the 5,000-year-old site: It was a burial ground for what may have been the country's first royal dynasty.

The new dates indicate burials began at least 500 years before the first massive stones were erected at the site and continued after it was completed, British archaeologists said yesterday. The pattern and relatively small number of the graves suggest all were members of a single family.

The findings provide the first substantive evidence that a line of kings ruled at least a portion of southern England during this early period. They exerted enough power to mobilize manpower necessary to move the massive stones from as far as 150 miles away and maintaining that power for at least five centuries, said archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, leader of current excavations at the site.
This interpretation makes Stonehenge to be the British version of the pyramids built contemporaneously in Egypt.

Environmentalists and corporate welfare

The Lieberman-Warner bill sets caps on emission of some greenhouse gases and creates a complex government bureaucracy to allocate permits and such. Why do some corporations support the bill? They stand to profit, as CNN explains:

Businesses supporting Lieberman-Warner stand to profit from clean-energy or energy-efficiency iniatitives. GE, for instance, sells wind turbines, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and energy-efficient locomotives and aircraft engines. Just this week, GE and the oil-field services firm Schlumberger announced plans to work together on clean-coal technology.

Utility companies Exelon, FPL Group, NRG Energy and PG&E Corp., which signed a letter supporting the bill, are developing nuclear energy, wind or solar power, or so-called clean-coal plants. They would gain as the costs of burning coal in conventional plans goes up. About 50% of electricity in the United States comes from burning coal.

Thus, some companies benefit if the cost of electricity goes up. If global warming legislation passes, we will know that those companies had the better lobbyists.
Clicky Web Analytics