Monday, April 30, 2007

Idiocy Beyond Words

I've never wanted to serve on a jury more in my life. Student Denied Degree Due to MySpace Picture

The battle between students and university administrators over online privacy has reached a new—though sadly predictable—level of ludicrousness.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Stacy Snyder, a 27-year-old student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, was denied her education degree (and the accompanying teaching certificate) after student-teacher advisors and university officials discovered an “unprofessional” picture of the degree candidate on her MySpace page. The picture, which portrays Snyder drinking from a plastic “Mr. Goodbar” cup and wearing a pirate hat at a 2005 Halloween party, is accompanied by the caption “Drunken Pirate.” Despite the fact that (a) Snyder was of legal drinking age at the time of the picture; (b) the picture was posted on an outside, non-university website; and (c) the drinking captured in the picture happened in a private, non-university setting, Millersville officials decided that the picture alone was enough to cost Snyder her degree and teaching certificate, despite the fact that Snyder was on the dean’s list and received positive evaluations for her final student/teacher evaluation in every area except for “professionalism.” The school instead awarded Snyder a degree in English.

In response, Snyder has sued, requesting relief in the form of her education degree and $75,000 dollars in compensatory damages.

The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal’s coverage of the incident sheds yet more light on the disturbing denial. According to her lawsuit, Snyder's student-teacher advisors at Conestoga Valley High School (where Snyder was fulfilling her student-teaching requirements) were the first to discover the photo, and confronted Snyder about it, accusing her of “incompetence” and telling her that “she should have been removed from her student-teaching position months ago.” In turn, the dean of Millersville’s School of Education, Jane S. Bray, had a meeting with Snyder, accusing her of “promoting underage drinking” and stripping Snyder of her education degree. Instead of pursuing a career in teaching, Snyder, a mother of two, now works as a nanny.

Barring any as-of-yet unknown revelations about her student-teaching conduct and her coursework, the conduct of Snyder’s student-teacher advisors and the Millersville administrators is outrageous. Snyder should be awarded her degree immediately. Online glimpses of her private life, insofar as they did not portray any illegal activity whatsoever, should in no way bar her from receiving her duly-earned degree. Since when are teachers required to forego any semblance of an adult social life? Since when did a student’s normal, non-criminal private life outside of the classroom become suitable grounds for evaluation, and even the denial of a degree?

This just reinforces my belief that we would all be better off if all of the Schools of Education were shuttered. The behavior of the school administrators at the college and at the high school is so heinous it beggars description. Now, it may turn out that this woman was having other troubles, but to attempt to use this picture as grounds to deny her the degree she earned through her academic work is asinine, and I can't imagine a jury wouldn't find the college civilly liable.

However, it is the sheer stupidity of the administrators that scares the hell out of me. I wouldn't want people like this anywhere near my children.

From The "I Couldn't Make This Shit Up" File

The Daily Kos gives us one for the ages (again.)

First we get this statement:

"Vituperation Toxicity"

I'm not sure what that means, but that's what we're doing, according to Joe. From that Boehner/Lieberman civility conference I posted about in the linky thread:

Lieberman and Boehner both decried the harsh incivility in politics today while portraying themselves as paragons of independence and cordiality.

Lieberman described his own politics as "stand[ing] up for what I believe is right[ing] across party lines to get things done." As for the rest of politics, "The majority of people are sick of it. They think our political system is sick." Lieberman blamed "attack ads, the kind of divisiveness of the cable news coverage of politics, talk radio," and bloggers who "have added another dimension of vituperation toxicity to it."

This is immediately followed by this post:

Hi, Howard. You're a jackass and a dirty punk. Just sayin'.

Here's why:

On April 30, discussing former CIA director George Tenet's just-released book, At the Center of the Storm (HarperCollins), on Washington Post Radio, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz asserted: "So what's interesting here is: This is no longer the liberal media saying this. This is no longer a bunch of journalists of questionable patriotism saying the Bush administration rushed to war; wanted to invade Iraq all along; didn't have a serious debate." Kurtz continued: "This is the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and I think, in some ways -- leaving his motivation aside -- he has validated the press accounts that we've seen about the way that this war unfolded."

Screw you, Kurtz.

Yeah. Lieberman's way off base.

"But We Don't Want To Think About It"

From QandO commenting on this story:

Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.

Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.

Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.

"Could be"? How, in the name of science, could it be anything but a natural phenomena considering it is taking place on Mars?

Of course the article goes on to say that the mechanisms on Mars are different than those here on earth (strong winds, dark areas absorbing light, etc), but the fact remains something other than AGW has caused the initiation of this "different mechanism" on Mars. But somehow not mentioned in of all of this is old Sol. While we worry about our lightbulbs here, the biggest lightbulb in the solar system is essentially ignored or waved away when talking about an increase in temperature on Mars. What "could be" a more natural phenomenon than that?

We should just start a list of things that we shouldn't bother to think about.

1. If GW is entirely man made why are other places in the solar system warming up as well?

2. Is CO2 in the atmosphere a leading or lagging indicator?

I'm sure there will be many more.

But for now, pondering such topics is strictly verboten!

Canada's Trial Seperation

From the BBC: Canada sets reduced climate goal

The Canadian government has published its strategy on climate change, which acknowledges that the country will not meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment.

Its new target is to cut emissions by 20% between now and 2020.

Environment groups have labelled the strategy a sham, and say that when combined with industrial policies, the country's emissions could rise.

Canada is the first nation to publicly abandon its Kyoto target without leaving the protocol.

The US and Australia are the only two countries with Kyoto targets to have left the 1997 treaty.

The Kyoto treaty committed Canada to reducing emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012, but emissions are currently about 30% above the 1990 figure.

Many other nations inside the protocol, such as Spain and Ireland, are a long way from their own targets; and the Canadian decision opens up the possibility that others will follow suit and choose not to meet their commitments.
[emphasis added]

I love how the article paints this as simply a question of political will. "How dare Canada's economy grow! (And Spain's and Ireland's.) They should have manipulated their economies into recession/depression because we tell them to do so."

Funny thing is, places like Canada, Spain and Ireland are full of people that like having jobs. They like economic expansion. I know the greenies would prefer Ireland to resemble the land of the potato famine as opposed to the land of record economic growth, but you will never sell that to the people who have to provide for their families.

This simple truth is, I believe, well known by the leftists driving this agenda. The ultimate goal is for them to impose their political will via, shall we say, "extra-democratic" means. We are in an era that will mirror the 1930's in many ways. You will hear more and more voices on the left arguing that Democracy is a failed system, or that being "too democratic" will lead to our demise.

"Hey!" they will say. "We known just what to do. Simply cede political power to this panel of experts and they will save us!"

It is a recipe for tyranny.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


There are some things for which there is no excuse, no extenuating circumstance, no "other side of the story." Jimmy Carter is guilty of one of those things.

From Alan Dershowitz: The Real Jimmy Carter
I have known Jimmy Carter for years. I first met him in the spring of 1976 when, as a relatively unknown candidate for president, he sent me a handwritten letter asking for my help in his campaign on issues of crime and justice. I had just published an article in The New York Times Magazine on sentencing reform, and he expressed interest in my ideas and asked me to come up with additional ones for his campaign. Shortly thereafter, my former student, Stuart Eisenstadt, brought Carter to Harvard to meet with some faculty members, me among them. I immediately liked Jimmy Carter and saw him as a man of integrity and principle. I signed on to his campaign and worked very hard for his election.

When Newsweek magazine asked his campaign for the names of people on whom Carter relied for advice, my name was among those given out. I continued to work for Carter over the years, most recently I met him in Jerusalem a year ago, and we briefly discussed the Mid-East. Though I disagreed with some of his points, I continued to believe that he was making them out of a deep commitment to principle and to human rights.

Recent disclosures of Carter's extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, had deeply shaken my belief in his integrity. When I was first told that he received a monetary reward in the name of Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and kept the money, even after Harvard returned money from the same source because of its anti-Semitic history, I simply did not believe it. How could a man of such apparent integrity enrich himself with dirty money from so dirty a source?

And let there be no mistake about how dirty the Zayed Foundation is. I know because I was involved, in a small way, in helping to persuade Harvard University to return more than $2 million that the financially strapped Divinity School received from this source. Initially, I was reluctant to put pressure on Harvard to turn back money for the Divinity School, but then a student at the Divinity School, Rachael Lea Fish showed me the facts.

They were staggering. I was amazed that in the twenty-first century there were still foundations that espoused these views. The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up, a think-tank funded by the Shiekh and run by his son, hosted speakers who called Jews "the enemies of all nations," attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel and the Mossad and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' own military, and stated that the Holocaust was a "fable." (They also hosted a speech by Jimmy Carter.) To its credit, Harvard turned the money back. To his discredit, Carter did not.

Jimmy Carter was, of course, aware of Harvard's decision, since it was highly publicized. Yet he kept the money. Indeed, this is what he said in accepting the funds: "This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan." Carter's personal friend, it turns out, was an unredeemable anti-Semite and all-around bigot.

In reading Carter's statements, I was reminded of the bad old Harvard of the nineteen thirties, which continued to honor Nazi academics after the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler's government became clear. Harvard of the nineteen thirties was complicit in evil. I sadly concluded that Jimmy Carter of the twenty-first century has become complicit in evil.

The extent of Carter's financial support from, and even dependence on, dirty money is still not fully known. What we do know is deeply troubling. Carter and his Center have accepted millions of dollars from suspect sources, beginning with the bail-out of the Carter family peanut business in the late 1970s by BCCI, a now-defunct and virulently anti-Israeli bank indirectly controlled by the Saudi Royal family, and among whose principal investors is Carter's friend, Sheikh Zayed. Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of the bank, gave Carter "$500,000 to help the former president establish his center...[and] more than $10 million to Mr. Carter's different projects."

This should cause outrage, but I doubt it will as the left is becoming more and more comfortable in its anti-semitism.

Carter is now the moral equivalent of a holocaust denier. Who can live with that?

(Gleaned from American Future.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"It's The Bishop!" (Part Two)

From Reuters: St. Louis archbishop tangles with Sheryl Crow

Calling Sheryl Crow "a high profile proponent of the destruction of innocent lives," the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Louis resigned as head of a children's medical charity that featured the singer for a benefit concert.

Archbishop Raymond Burke resigned as chairman of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation after its board of governors refused to pull the plug on Crow's Saturday concert in St. Louis.

She is "well-known as an abortion activist" and proponent of stem cell research, he said in a statement on Wednesday, and her appearance is "an affront to the identity and mission of the medical center, dedicated as it is to the service of life and Christ's healing mission."

Burke's conservative views are well known. He suggested during the 2004 presidential campaign that Democratic candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, should be denied communion because of his views on abortion.

"When, for economic gain, a Catholic institution associates itself with such a high profile proponent of the destruction of innocent lives, members of the church and other people of good will have the right to be confirmed in their commitment to the gospel of life," he added.

A fact sheet distributed by the archdiocese said Crow's views amount to "giving scandal," which it said the Catholic Catechism defines as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to evil."

I'm sure Burke will get piles of steaming hot you-know-what dumped all over him in the press, but I'm glad he doesn't seem to care about such things. In fact, the less the Church worries about "public relations" the better off it will be. If bishops thirty years ago had been more concerned with doing what the faith required and looking out for the welfare of children, and less concerned about avoiding scandal, how much better off would the Church be? Burke is acting as if the tenets of the Catholic Church actually mean something, and in meaning something, actually guide the way in which we act in the world.

The response of the press will be "How dare he!?!"

As if they should have a say.

Pig Ignorance In Wolf's Clothing

Thus is the style of Naomi Wolf in this frothing at the mouth diatribe published by the good folks at the UK Guardian. According to Wolf we are half way to a Republican led fascist state. Let us see what she calls fascism, shall we?

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

Right off the bat the irony is overwhelming as the Guardian has gleefully published anti-Semitic pieces over recent years. In fact, it is the Left that likes to complain about a shadowy cabal of Jews pulling the strings behind the scenes, or haven't you heard that the Israeli lobby controls the US press?

Wolf compares 9/11 to the Reichstag fire of 1933, so I'm assuming she thinks Bush orchestrated the mass murder of over 3,000 Americans, which isn't surprising as Howard Dean always thought that was an "interesting" idea.

2. Create a gulag

Hmm...last time I checked the Gulag was a communist invention. Let's see the track record there:

-720,000 executions, 680,000 of which were carried out in 1937-38, usually after some sort of travesty of justice by a special GPU or NKVD court.
-300,000 known deaths in the camps from 1934 to 1940. By extrapolating these figures back to 1930-1933 (years for which very few records are available), we can estimate that some 400,000 dies during the decade, not counting the incalculable number of those who died between the moment of their arrest and their registration in one of the camps.
-600,000 registered deaths among the deportees, refugees, and "specially displaced."
- Approximately 2,200,000 deported, forcibly moved, or exiled as "specially displaced people."
-A cumulative figure of 7 million people who entered the camps and Gulag colonies from 1934 to 1941 (information for the years 1930-1933 remains imprecise.)
(The Black Book Of Communism, Harvard University Press, 1999, pp. 206-07)

Since roughly one quarter or one third of these prisoners were purely political prisoners (Ibid., p. 206) that means 1.75-2.33 million domestic political enemies were "neutralized" in leftist Russia.

Please show me a single Democrat imprisoned in such a manner, or are the leftys claiming the Guantanamo detainees as their very own?

3. Develop a thug caste

Who takes to the streets in efforts to intimidate people in America, the left or the right? The only mass demonstration I've ever heard of in living memory that would have contained more Republicans than Democrats would be the Right to Life marchers in DC every January. When have they displayed violence exactly? (Individual nutjobs of all stripes do despicable things, so that isn't at issue.)

Compare it to any lefty march at a G8 summit and tell me again who has the "thug caste."

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

So Naomi has never heard of the Stasi, huh? Maybe the NKVD? Never read any Havel either? Interesting fact, "in 1939 the Gestapo employed 7,500 people in contrast to the NKVD's 366,000 (including Gulag personell; and the Commuist Party made denunciation an obligation, whereas the Nazi Party did not." (Ibid. p. xvi)

So an internal surveillance system is as integral to the extreme left as the extreme right.

Once again, I'm looking for a single imprisoned Democrats resulting from the so-called equivalent systems here in the United States.

The only places I see speech compelled in the United States is by leftist on college campuses (such as incidences at Michigan State, and presently at Rhode Island.)

5. Harass citizens' groups

Heaven forbid we actually keep an eye on people advocating violence in the name of their pet causes, whether it be radical environmentalism or radical animal rights. I never knew one of the core tenets of the Democratic party was to firebomb housing developments or medical research labs you don't care for.

The poor dears.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

I'm sorry, this might be a complaint about the inherent inefficiency of bureaucracies but the left loves bureaucracy. In fact, the more the better, right? Following a leftist prescription such activities do not decrease they increase.

7. Target key individuals

I couldn't make this up if I tried. Wolf's section entitled "Target Key Individuals" mentions no present day individuals by name, making double checking of her claims impossible.

How "key" can these individuals be if no one has any idea who the hell you are talking about?

8. Control the press

Even Wolf can't come up with a way to claim this bit of nonsense is true, so she obfuscates. She must long for back issues of that bastion of true press freedom Pravda.

9. Dissent equals treason

Lord knows no communist has ever, oh I don't know, been put to death for dissent. But what is a couple of million souls anyway? Yeah, criticizing the Dixie Chicks is the equivalent of that.

10. Suspend the rule of law

This section begins (I swear to God) with the following:

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard.

This is the only "example" of "suspending the rule of law" given.

Which begs the question, are there any of the words in the phrase "rule of law" Wolf actually understands?

If anyone is really interested in what might actually count as being "fascist" one might want to turn not to Naomi Wolf, but maybe to some academic work. Here is a list of fascist attributes taken from Lyman Tower Sargent's Contemporary Political Ideologies 7th edition (Dorsey Press, 1987)

1. Irrationalism

If the near hysteria in Wolf's piece can be taken as a general indication, then the left has this in spades these days.

Indeed much of the left seems to be taken with the notion that everything is merely a matter of political will. The irony is that they have taken to referring to themselves as "progressives" when actual progressives were very rationalistic in their approach. The progressives of the 19th century certainly had their blind spots and excesses (things like coercive state sponsered sterilization programs, and other eugenic programs touted as science), but they were amenable to reason.

2. Social Darwinism

I think you are gonna have to work hard to make those who believe that all people should have a right to a democratic society (however ill prepared they are to make that idealistic vision reality) into Social Darwinists. And how are you gonna make the religious right Darwinists of any variety?

Good luck with that one.

3. Nationalism

"The individual does not exist apart from his or her existence in the nation. There is almost no such thing as an individual within Fascist ideology. An individual is one small part of the nation. The individual and the nation are inseparable." (Ibid. p. 163)

Such a view is simply non-existent on the American right of today, although the "collectivity of everyone" is a staple of the left.

4. Glorification of the State

Who has this tendency in the United States today, left or right?

5. The Leadership Principle

"The underlying theory is that the Fuhrer is not absolute, but the only limit on the leader's power is that the Fuhrer must reflect the collective will of the people. This does not limit power because the leader's will is, by definition, the same as the collective will." (Ibid, pp.167-68)

There is simply no analog to this in the United States, left or right, although it does have some inspiration from the work of JJ Rousseau who appeals to many on the left. What party has made the most consistent effort to create a cult of personality around its party's Presidents? There is a little of that about Reagan, but it pales in comparison to the FDR and Kennedy-aphiles.

6. Racism

This is of course why people like Wolf like to call people Fascists. It is a two for one opportunity. But only a blithering idiot could claim that the Republican party is built upon racism as its founding principle, especially when, historically speaking, the Democratic party actually did have racism as a founding principle.

7. Anticommunism

This of course also helps explain why people like Wolf are so interested in calling people who disagree with them fascists, they are still wedding to the communist "ideal" even after the clear knowledge of the tens of millions who have perished at its hands.

Than again, maybe it is the history of mass murder that appeals to her.

Or you could look at Roy Macridis' Contemporary Political Ideologies 3rd edition (Little, Bown, 1986) where the important components of fascism are presented as:

1. Elitism
2. Irrationalism
3. Myths and Violence
4. Social Darwinism
5. Group Mind
"As we pointed out, liberalism freed individuals from all attachments to groups and status that defined and structured their activities." (Ibid, p. 186) it is the right that mandates that what matters most is your social, racial or gender group? Funny. I could have sworn that was the left's mantra.
6. Escape from Freedom (This is akin to Nationalism, but from the individual's perspective.)
7. Against the Bourgeois Mentality
Once again this is a hall mark of the left in this country, not the right. The right celebrates "middle class-ness" (as do most Democrats). You tell me, who in America is against, "The peaceful but unheroic existence of the citizen; the constant search for material gains and satisfactions; the compromising spirit that democratic liberalism fosters" (Ibid., pp. 187-88)

Sounds like complaints about "selfish acquisitive conservatives" to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Now, If We Can Just Get Them To Stop Breathing"

The alternate title to this is, "Damn you Alsace-Lorraine! Damn You All to Hell!" Strasbourg carbon cost condemned

The European Parliament's monthly move from Brussels to Strasbourg generates more than 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, Green Party MEPs say.
The Green Party commissioned the study, which says the carbon cost is equal to 4,000 households in London.

The monthly trek is often referred to as the "travelling circus".

The report is published on the same day the parliament is expected to set up a temporary committee to propose new measures tackling climate change.

Nearly 800 MEPs travel by air, road and rail to Strasbourg - along with hundreds of EU officials, journalists, lobbyists and 15 lorry-loads of official documents.

The study, by York University's Professor John Whitelegg, says if the parliament stopped meeting in Strasbourg, it could get rid of more than 2,000 offices, a debating chamber and 50 conference rooms.

That would save nearly 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year in electricity and gas alone.

The study is published on the day that MEPs are expected to set up a committee with a mandate to look at new measures against climate change and co-ordinate the parliament's policies.

The Greens say the parliament's failure to put its own house in order undermines its own credibility, and Strasbourg has come to stand for all that is wrong with the EU.

Actually, they forgot the savings that come along with the resultant depressing of the Strasbourg economy. If we are lucky, maybe some of the people thrown out of work will be so depressed they will commit suicide. Just imagine the carbon savings!!

Keep those fingers crossed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Road Trip To Yakutsk!"

Reported by the AP: Undersea project would link Alaska, Russia
For more than a century, entrepreneurs and engineers have dreamed of building a tunnel connecting the eastern and western hemispheres under the Bering Strait -- only to be brought up short by war, revolution and politics.

Now die-hard supporters are renewing their push for the audacious plan -- a $65 billion highway project that would link two of the world's most inhospitable regions by burrowing under a stretch of water connecting the Pacific with the Arctic Ocean.

Russians and Americans alike made their pitch for the project at a conference titled "Megaprojects of Russia's East," held Tuesday in Moscow.

"It's time to the rewrite the old slogan 'Workers of the world unite!"' said Walter Hickel, a former Alaska governor and interior secretary under President Richard Nixon. "It's time to proclaim, 'Workers -- Unite the world!"'

A Russian Economics Ministry official tossed cold water on the idea, saying he wanted to know who planned to pay the mammoth bill for the project before seriously discussing it. But Hickel was unfazed in his speech, saying the route would unlock hitherto untapped natural resources -- and bolster the economies of both Alaska and Russia's Far East.

The proposed 68-mile tunnel would be the longest in the world. It would also be the linchpin for a 3,700-mile railroad line stretching from Yakutsk -- the capital of a gold- and mineral-rich Siberian region roughly the size of India -- through extreme northeastern Russia, in waters up to 180 feet deep and into the western coast of Alaska. Winter temperatures there routinely hit minus 94 F.

By comparison, the undersea tunnel that is now the world's longest -- the Chunnel, linking Britain and France -- is only 30 miles long.

I don't know that I have an opinion on this, but it certainly is an interesting proposal. It has certainly been quite a while since the US has engaged in a momumental piece of engineering, unless you count the monumental disaster that is the "Big Dig" in Boston.

The sheer size of this project is mind boggling.

The feasibility study alone would cost $120 million and would take two years to complete, organizers said. Actual construction of the road-rail-pipeline-cable effort could take up to 20 years.

How exactly do you sell a "feasibility study" that costs $120 million? Sounds like good work... if you can get it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Have You Ever Noticed How Dumb Slate Is?

I sure have. Sometimes it is simple ignorance that gets the best of them, as in this piece about the Catholic theological idea of Limbo.

Though the Vatican has effectively done an about-face, it won't directly state that limbo never existed. Instead, it says that official church dogma never included the concept and that limbo remains a "possible theological hypothesis." Why the hemming and hawing? The church can't admit to going against hundreds of years of theological interpretation. Such a reversal would be a sign of error. And since the Roman Catholic Church is imbued with the Holy Spirit, it can never be wrong.

Of course much would be settled if the writer of this had any idea what it means for something to be Catholic dogma as opposed to theological opinion. As can clearly be seen in this article in the Catholic Encyclopedia, there has been a long tradition of Catholic opinion in favor of limbo, but it never been announced as a dogmatic principle of faith. Therefore, there is no "hemming and hawing" here. This is simply the annunciation of another venerable theological opinion dating back to the theology of St. Augustine. Slate seems to assume that what is or isn't actual dogma is incidental to the discussion.

That's really, really dumb.

And the crack about the Holy Spirit is so dim-witted and ill-informed it's not worth fisking.

Another consistently dumb thing has been the daily "forecast" of the possible departure of Alberto Gonzalez. It has gone up as high as 95%, but there he remains. And this has been going on for weeks.

Let's think about the numbers here. Were you to flip a coin once a day for three weeks and the first time it came up tails you would have to quit your job, do you know what the chances are that you wouldn't have had to quit? 1 in 2,097,152.

So at an average of 85% chance of leaving per day, what is the chance that Alberto would still be around after three weeks? Roughly 1 in 30,072,865,982,171,749.

This is incredibly dumb, because anyone who has watched Bush at all over the last 6 years knows he will hold onto dead weight the way a cat holds onto a dead bird.


Oops! I double checked my numbers and the chance on Gonzalez should not have been 1 in 30,072,865,982,171,749. It should have been 1 in 200,485,773,214,478,329.

My humble apologies. Although I'm sure you all caught the error without my pointing it out. "What an idiot! He used (1/.15)^20 instead of (1/.15)^21!"

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Apostasy

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Lost story is told: Detention of German-Americans

Art Jacobs' father never came home.

Pops went to his job at a diaper laundering service on a Friday in November 1944, but didn't return for dinner.

Mom paced in front of the window of their Brooklyn, N.Y., flat all weekend, until she got the call: Lambert Jacobs — a German immigrant in the United States on a visa — had been arrested and detained because he was deemed a potential national security threat.

"I had no idea what was going on," said Art Jacobs, who was 12 at the time. "Our family as we knew it was destroyed after that moment. It was never the same again."

He and the rest of his family voluntarily joined Lambert Jacobs in captivity a few months later, and spent almost a year in camps at Ellis Island, N.Y., and Crystal City, Texas.

Art Jacobs, now 74 and living in Arizona, was among an estimated 11,000 people of German ancestry interned in the United States from 1941 to 1948, out of fear they might have allegiances with their mother country.

The internment of an estimated 120,000 Japanese-Americans is well-known and often the subject of school social studies classes. But the plight of German-Americans, as well as Italian-Americans, during World War II seems to have been largely lost in the annals of history.

The story of the Jacobs family and others will be on display locally this weekend in a traveling exhibit on German-American internment, hosted by the TRACES Museum Center for History and Culture in St. Paul, Minn.

The mobile museum — a retrofitted school bus — is touring eight Midwestern states to tell this largely unknown slice of American history. Photos and narratives will decorate the interior and exterior of the bus, and the back will serve as a makeshift movie theater for a Dateline NBC documentary and 1945 government propaganda film on internment.

Like Art Jacobs, some of the detainees were American-born children, and many were held after the war concluded. The TRACES center believes that 85 people of German ancestry from Missouri and 318 from Illinois were caught up in the internment. U.S. Department of Justice documents about the internments supplied by Jacobs say a man from Affton was arrested on March 16, 1942. An Italian man from St. Louis was taken away on March 27, 1942. A kitchen steward at the Jefferson Hotel in St. Louis was arrested on the same day.

The only crime listed in each case is "alien enemy."

This is getting silly. Everyone can see there were horrible excesses in the World War II internment policies, particularly among Japanese-Americans, but I think we might be over-reacting in the other direction now. I do not think we need to apologize for interning citizens of Nazi Germany who were in this country during the war. (What circumstances led to the forcible repatriations to Germany are not outlined. Perhaps they had no legal standing for being in the US to begin with, who knows? This may or may not be an example of overzealous behavior, but without more information the reader has no way to decide.)

Besides, exactly how unreasonable was the belief that Germany might conduct sabotage in the US with the help of German immigrants? Well, if the experience of the United States during the First World War was any guide, the answer had to be that such sabotage was very likely. As documented in the recent book The Detonators by Chad Millman, Germany conducted an extensive sabotage campaign in the (then) still neutral United States. Agents sent under diplomatic cover from Germany were able to recruit help both from Germany citizens stuck in the States because of circumstances (mainly German merchant sailors) and from American citizens of German descent. Munition plants and American ships were bombed, germ warfare (anthrax) was conducted against livestock destined for Europe, and the Black Tom cargo terminal in New York was destroyed in a massive explosion in 1916. The notion that Germans in the U.S. could possibly pose a threat was not pure fantasy and bigotry. When you combine this experience with the lack of an effective counter-espionage service, internment became the only policy option available. The fact it was used so indiscriminately was deplorable, and the confiscation of the property and livelihood of Americans of Japanese descent was beyond the pale. That being said, we shouldn't be ignorant that the world they were living in was in many ways very different from our own. The events of the First World War were still vivid memories for many of the people involved in policy making during the Second World War. Today it is unlikely that more than one out of ten even know there was a bombing campaign in the U.S. carried out by Imperial Germany. Unfortunately many of us are very comfortable living in our ignorance and have no problem condemning previous generations for not living up to our ill-informed "standards."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Vintage Miss America Kicks Ass, Takes Names

In so many ways we are not worthy. Armed Miss America 1944 stops intruder

Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle's tires and stop an intruder. Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

Ramey said the man told her he would leave. "I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

"I didn't even think twice. I just went and did it," she said. "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."

Ramey then flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911.

Curtis Parrish of Ohio was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Deputy Dan Gilliam said. The man's hometown wasn't immediately available. Three other people were questioned but were not arrested.

After winning the pageant with her singing, dancing and comedic talents, Ramey sold war bonds and her picture was adorned on a B-17 that made missions over Germany in World War II, according to the Miss America Web site.

They don't make 'em like that anymore.

What Kyoto Really Means

From the BBC: Canada alarmed over Kyoto costs

Canada could see a deep recession if it were to meet its Kyoto targets for reducing emissions, the country's environment minister has warned.
John Baird claimed petrol prices would leap and thousands of jobs would vanish if Canada tried to reduce greenhouse gases by 6% from 1990 levels by 2012.

Canada was one of the first countries to adopt the Kyoto Protocol in 1998.

But the ruling Conservatives have tried to ditch the treaty, which was adopted by a previous Liberal government.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who came to power in January last year, has argued the Kyoto timetable is unattainable.

Yet his minority government could be faced with implementing the measures after an opposition Liberal bill was passed by the Canadian parliament's lower House.

It will now be considered by the Senate, the unelected upper house, which traditionally rubber-stamps legislation passed to it by the House of Commons.

Mr Baird told a Senate committee the only way the government could meet its Kyoto commitment was to impose costs on the entire economy and, in effect, "manufacture a recession".

A steep rise in natural gas prices, electricity and petrol, driven by the additional carbon price of generating fossil fuels, would have a huge impact on the cost of running a business and would lead to a 25% increase in Canada's unemployment rate by 2009, he said.

The folks in the Canadian government are finally realizing that the only way to meet Kyoto's preliminary emission cuts of 6% (and there will be more of those later), it would be necessary to contract the Canadian economy. Last time I checked Canada's population was growing (projected at over 38m by 2025.) Add a growing population to a contracting economy and you get a none too rosy future.

Some opposition MPs and environmentalists countered that Mr Baird's findings were based on assumptions chosen for their frightening conclusions.[emphasis added]

Well, if anyone should know how to do that it would be the "environmentalists."

Actually, if the minister was only talking about the results from trying to meet the first benchmark (as seems likely from the BBC story), he hasn't oversold it, he's undersold it. By a lot.

That Is Gonna Leave A Mark

If you enjoy seeing a weak argument absolutely shredded to pieces with gleeful abandon (and who doesn't?) you need to go over to The Torch for a take down of monumental proportions.

By ignoring the fact that universities continue to punish students for protected speech under color of anti-harassment policies, Gould turns a blind eye to a very real threat to student speech. In fact, of the seven federal cases challenging speech codes at public universities that resulted in opinions from 1989 to today, six of them resulted in the successful invalidation of an unconstitutional harassment policy. As David French pointed out yesterday, FIRE’s critics are certainly free to “argue about legal interpretations all day long, but federal judges make the ultimate decision, and so far FIRE hasn’t gotten one wrong yet.”

But Gould isn’t concerned with such details; apparently, everything’s peachy keen on the American campus. In Gould’s view, remember, anyone concerned about free speech on campus should simply “t[ake] a deep breath” because universities are just “social institutions” “reflecting a popular norm”—so who needs the First Amendment, anyways? If a student is disciplined under a harassment policy for engaging in protected speech and voicing an unpopular political view on campus—well, hey, that student obviously just needs to get in line with the “large majorities” of freshmen who believe that their speech should be regulated beyond the boundaries of the First Amendment. Yes, in Gould’s America, students don’t need the First Amendment, because the popular majoritarian view will serve them just fine, thank you very much. In other words: sit down and shut up.

When examined and debunked, it seems Gould is the one exaggerating facts to score cheap political points. Because we examine more schools more completely with more attention to actual restrictions on student speech, FIRE’s research is by far the more accurate reflection of the threats to free speech on campus. We at FIRE certainly hope that one day our estimates of the number of unconstitutional speech codes at our nation’s universities will look as rosy as Gould’s. But we also promise that when and if they do, they will be the product of real change on campus, not narrow definitions and legal misunderstandings.

It may take weeks for Gould to be able to sit down without wincing.

I Demand A Recount

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Web site ranks O’Fallon, Mo. as 9th best place to live
Rapidly growing O’Fallon has again found itself in the national spotlight as a great place to call home., a consumer web site featuring profiles and statistics on communities throughout the nation, ranked the city ninth in a top ten 2007 poll of best places to live in the country. Asheville, N.C., Traverse City, Mich. and Utica, N.Y. ranked first, second and third. Other cities on the list were Chicago, Cary, N.C. Portland, Maine, San Francisco, Stevens Point, Wis. and Spencer, Ia.

According to its web site, cities on the list were first nominated by residents and businesses in the communities. Officials with the company then evaluated education, employment, economic, crime, parks, recreation and housing statistics to devise the final ranking.

O’Fallon was noted for its rapid growth and its sense of community. O’Fallon currently has an estimated population of 72,000 people, but more than half of its population has been in the city less than ten years.

“Although this growth is welcomed, the community continues to maintain a friendly atmosphere of a small town,” the web site said.

I lived in O'Fallon for a couple of years, my parents still live there, and I can safely say it is a hellhole. O'Fallon, Missouri suffers from as bad a case of suburban sprawl as anywhere in the nation. (Yes, I'm very familiar with the suburbs of Northern Virginia and they are a larger mess I'll grant you. But mile-for-mile O'Fallon is just as bad.) There are so few main roads that it can take 30+ minutes to go 6 or 7 miles AND NEVER LEAVE THE CITY LIMITS. There are few good restaurants; even fewer places to go for a walk. The "downtown" area is downright ugly. Imo's coverage is spotty at best. (St. Louisians will know how important that can be.) And traffic will be snarled to a standstill on highway K each and every Saturday and Sunday.

Ah yeah....paradise.

RealClimate = RealJoke

Head over to Prometheus if you are interested in real science as opposed to the Orwellian enterprise that is "RealClimate."

Based on my most recent interaction, the folks at RealClimate seem less interested than ever on an open exchange of views on scientific topics. But I guess that is what might be expected when one points out that the they are spreading misinformation.

A commenter on a thread on ocean temperatures asked an innocuous question about the new paper by Vecchi and Soden which was discussed here by Chris Landsea . The always cordial Michael Mann replied:

I have no knowledge of (or frankly, interest in) what Chris Landsea may be saying about the paper . . . In short, the Emanuel (2005) study continues to stand on its merit, and I don't see where this paper puts even a dent in it. [*cough* Holy scripture, anyone? *cough*]
I don't much read RealClimate anymore, but when a commenter on the Landsea thread pointed to this exchange in the comments here, I surfed over to find this blatantly false assertion by Michael Mann in response to a follow up comment:

Emanuel (2005) shows that the warming SSTs are behind the increased TC intensity in the Atlantic. No impartial reading of that paper could come to any other conclusion.

Being a science site and all, I assumed that the RealClimate folks would be happy to engage in a discussion of, you know, science. Boy was I was mistaken. Here is my submitted response:

You are simply incorrect when you assert: "Emanuel (2005) shows that the warming SSTs are behind the increased TC intensity in the Atlantic. No impartial reading of that paper could come to any other conclusion."

Here is what Emanuel actually says:

"Tropical cyclones do not respond directly to SST, however, and the appropriate measure of their thermodynamic environment is the potential intensity, which depends not only on surface temperature but on the whole temperature profile of the troposphere. . . The above discussion suggests that only part of the observed increase in tropical cyclone power dissipation is directly due to increased SSTs; the rest can only be explained by changes in other factors known to influence hurricane intensity, such as vertical wind shear."

Misrepresenting Emanuel is bad enough, but for a site that often underscores the importance of consensus, your favoring of one single study (on a thread about not favoring one single study) when consensus perspectives exist (WMO, IPCC) does a disservice to your readers.

Here is what RealClimate allowed:

You are simply incorrect when you assert: "Emanuel (2005) shows that the warming SSTs are behind the increased TC intensity in the Atlantic. No impartial reading of that paper could come to any other conclusion."

What are they so worried about that they have to protect their audience from the comments of a political scientist?

Maybe RealClimate's intent isn't Orwellian. It may be Platonic and they are the ones spouting the "noble lie." Either way they have a lot more in common with Stalin and the medieval Church than they have with Einstein and Newton.

There is a lot more on this over at Prometheus. The comments are also very interesting.

My Adolescent Dorkiness To the Rescue!

The time I (mis)spent as a youth playing D&D is still serving me well. Gary student pulls medieval weapon

A 15-year-old girl who allegedly swung a medieval-style weapon at a teacher, striking a student who intervened, told police she was tired of being picked on.

The Lew Wallace High School freshman swung the mace -- a spiked ball and chain attached to a wooden stick -- at a teacher Thursday morning, said Gary Police detective Sgt. Darlene Breitenstein.

The teacher wasn't hit, but a 19-year-old student who intervened was cut on her hand.

"It's heavy, and it's metal and it's sharp," Breitenstein said. "I took the weapon to the detention center for the judge to see."

The 15-year-old was being held at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Center on battery charges. A detention hearing was scheduled for Friday.

School officials told police a fight broke out in a hallway as students changed classes. "The victim saw the suspect go after a school teacher with the ball," Breitenstein said.

The girl told Breitenstein she brought the weapon to school because she needed protection.

There are so many ways to comment on such a story, but my inner dork just wants to shout out that the weapon sounds more like a morning-star and not a classic mace.

Man, a high school teacher would have a really lousy "armor class" rating.

Good Work Well Done

I don't know if the ASPCA gives out awards for the good work individuals do that contributes to the well-being of animals, but if they do they should cast a medal for Dave Schuler over at the Glittering Eye. I've seen no other site on the web that did as good a job following the pet food contamination story. If you had any question about the situation The Glittering Eye either had the answer or the link that would lead you to the answer. (See the latest update on the story here.)

Dave's good work has not gone unnoticed, especially around these parts.

How Long Has It Been Mary Celeste?

I find these sort of stories fascinating: 'Ghost Ship' Puzzles Rescuers

Australian rescuers were on Friday trying to solve the "Mary Celeste" style mystery of a yacht found floating off the coast with its engine running, food on its table ready to eat, but no crew.

The 12-meter (36 feet) catamaran was found 80 nautical miles off Townsville on the northeast coast, but there was no sign of the three crewmen who had set sail from Queensland state bound for Australia's west coast on Sunday.

"What they found was a bit strange in that everything was normal, there was just no sign of the crew," Jon Hall from emergency management in Queensland told local radio on Friday.

Hall said the yacht's sails were up but one was badly shredded. He said the engine was running, there was food on the table, a laptop was turned on, and the radio and global positioning satellite (GPS) were working.

Three life jackets and survival equipment, including an emergency beacon, were found on board, but no life rafts.

The Mary Celeste was an abandoned "ghost ship" found off the coast of Portugal in 1872. None of the Mary Celeste's crew or passengers were ever found.

The KAZ 11 was spotted adrift on the outer Great Barrier Reef on Wednesday. Rescue crews boarded the vessel on Friday but there was no sign of the three crew men, aged 56, 63 and 69.

Police said weather conditions at sea on Sunday and Monday were rough. "There was a fair sort of a wind out there but it's improved since then, so who knows what could've happened," said Police Chief Superintendent Roy Wall,.

When I was about 9 I read a book about the Bermuda Triangle, and since that time I've had an interest in "ghost ship" stories. My first thought when I read this was piracy, but why wouldn't pirates take the laptop? Then you think that maybe they thought the boat was about to sink in rough seas, but why then is there food on the table? If seas were so rough you decided to abandon ship you would think they would be rough enough to upset a place setting.

Unfortunately for the families of the missing, these type of mysteries rarely have happy endings.

The First Domino?

A little over two years ago (!) I wrote the following about the Kyoto accord:

If the rest of the world wants to commit economic suicide they are welcome to it. What you will see is that the countries who refuse to go along with Kyoto, like the U.S., China and India, will still have thriving economies while the Kyoto countries make their headlong rush for the 19th century.

Of course that won't happen. Countries will start pealing off of Kyoto one by one as the economic realities pile up one by one.

Kyoto signatory Canada looks like it will be the first to back away officially: Canada Joins Anti-Kyoto Bloc

This week's announcement by the Canadian government -- that it may join a U.S.-led coalition focused on voluntary emissions cuts -- could be part of a global shift away from Kyoto's binding targets.

In a somewhat surprising development, Canada, a long-time supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, announced that it may want to join the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), a six-nation coalition focusing on voluntary emission-reduction steps and technology transfers. Many environmentalists oppose AP6 out of a fear that it may undermine political support for the legally binding Kyoto treaty.

The partnership, launched in mid-2005, is an agreement among six countries -- Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States -- to develop and share greenhouse-gasreduction technology to combat climate change. According to the AP6 Web site, the six partner countries "represent about half of the world's economy, population and energy use, and they produce about 65% of the world's coal, 48% of the world's steel, 37% of world's aluminum, and 61% of the world's cement." The countries also account for half the world's greenhouse-gas emissions.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Asia-Pacific Partnership is voluntary and technology-based, and lets each country set its own goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions, rather than legally binding them to a greenhouse gas reduction target. The group sees itself as "a voluntary, non-legally binding framework for international co-operation to facilitate the development, diffusion, deployment, and transfer of existing, emerging and longer term cost-effective, cleaner, more efficient technologies and practices."


It is too early to see the real significance of Canada's request to join the AP6. For the Harper government, it is simply a logical next step in the "Made In Canada" approach to climate policy. Between membership in the AP6 and their new Clean Air Act initiatives, Canada can still trumpet its strong commitment to greenhouse-gas-emission reductions, while taking a step away from the hard-target focus of Kyoto.

The key question that remains is whether Canada is a bellwether for other countries, as some Canadians like to see themselves, and is likely to lead more of the anti-Kyoto flock into the AP6 pasture. After all, if Canada, which prides itself on internationalism, "soft power," and a somewhat anti-American policy stance, can join a U.S.-sponsored rival to the Kyoto Protocol, who can't?

I find the explicit linking of Kyoto with anti-American sentiment telling. Don't you?

I'm not sure we will see countries "flocking" to the AP6 as such, but it seems likely that more and more countries will back away from the strictures of Kyoto as the economic realities become impossible to ignore. European countries have been able to ignore such realities by playing carbon "trading" games that do nothing but mask the fact they haven't met Kyoto standards and do not seem likely to do so in the foreseeable future. So, even if Canada proves to be one of the few to publicly remove itself from Kyoto, you will see may other countries leave it as a practical matter, though it may remain the "law" of the land.

Over at CQ they had a slightly different take:

Kyoto would force the West to commit economic suicide while allowing India and China to pollute to their hearts' content in reaping the rewards. Bush's AP6 engages all sides equally and uses technology sharing as an incentive for compliance. The Chinese need access to Western technology so badly that they jump through hoops to steal it. India doesn't need it as badly, but they want to create a cleaner energy system for themselves, and have expanded their nuclear program to accommodate that need.

If Canada joins the AP6, Kyoto will collapse. It will bind only those nations who already have economic difficulties, and Kyoto compliance -- which none of them have met -- will cost them even more. In the end, AP6 will bind all nations together in a manner that Kyoto explicitly rejected and will allow everyone to proceed with clean-environment initiatives on an equal footing.

This view imparts a vision of the AP6 as a framework to get actual things done which is inaccurate. For the largest part the AP6 is a publicity stunt that gives politically expedient "cover" for its members. It may facilitate on some technological issues, but pollution control policies will remain entirely in the domestic arena. Because of that, economic realities will win the day.

Kyoto is like the dodo. All it ever took was an honest look to see that it was never going to fly. And one day it will go away, never to be seen again. The only difference between the two is that after the dodo was gone the world was a poorer place.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"I'll Have 8 For The Road"

There are some hardy women out in Washington state. Woman registers a .47 on breath tester
A Woodinville woman arrested following two car crashes last week registered a .47 blood-alcohol content on a breath test — nearly six times the legal intoxication threshold and possibly a state record.

Deana F. Jarrett, 54, was taken to Evergreen Hospital as a precaution following her arrest April 11, the Washington State Patrol said Wednesday. No one was injured in the accidents.

Jarrett blew the .47 on a portable breath tester after she collided with two other vehicles in quick succession, the patrol said. A check of all 356,000 breath tests administered since 1998 in Washington turned up only 35 above .40 — and none of those was higher than .45.

The legal intoxication threshold in Washington is .08.

Jarrett did not appear to have a listed phone number, and it was not clear if she had obtained a lawyer.

If the lawyer doesn't advertise on the back of Jim Beam bottles, I'm pretty sure she hasn't found him.

This amazes me as Tony LaRussa falls asleep waiting for a traffic light while he's at .09, and this gal is out playing bumper cars with more than FOUR times the blood alcohol.

I'd say there must be something in the water out there, but I'm pretty sure she never touches the stuff.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Harry Reid's Early Onset Dementia

Over at Patterico a diagnosis has been made:

For high comedy, look no further than the esteemed Majority Leader in the United States Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

Here was his recorded vote on S.3 — “A bill to prohibit the procedure commonly known as partial birth abortion.”

You can find Senator Reid’s vote of “Yea” listed three different ways.

Skip ahead to the Supreme Court’s decision today affirming S.3 against a facial challange to its constitutionality. As reported by CNN:

This was the first time the high court had heard a major abortion case in six years, and since then, its makeup has changed, with Roberts and Alito now on board.

Their presence on the bench provided the solid conservative majority needed to allow the federal ban to go into effect, with Kennedy providing the key fifth vote for a majority.

Alito replaced Sandra Day O’Connor, a key abortion rights supporter over her quarter century on the bench.

“A lot of us wish that Alito weren’t there and O’Connor were there,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who opposed Alito’s nomination, said.

Apparently Harry forgot that he voted in favor of the ban which the Court upheld.

Which raises the question of whether he makes a habit of voting for bills he deems to be unconstitutional.

Poor Harry. He can't decided which of his heartfelt convictions we wants to stand behind.

I'm guessing he'll embrace his conviction to be re-elected.

To Tag Or Not To Tag

Today that is the question. I'll admit that I sometimes wish I had when I only vaguely remember something I've written long ago and want to highlight it. I could go back and retroactively add tags to the old posts, but all that work only makes sense if tags are a feature that readers actually use.

So I'm asking you, the few, the happy few, who read this blog regularly; Do you find tags useful?

Living In Your Own Private Constitution

Welcome to the land of the banal, aka the Gonzalez v. Carhart dissent.

In reaffirming Roe, the Casey Court described the centrality
of "the decision whether to bear . . . a child," Eisenstadt
v. Baird
, 405 U. S. 438, 453 (1972), to a woman's
"dignity and autonomy," her "personhood" and "destiny,"
her "conception of . . . her place in society." 505 U. S., at
851-852. Of signal importance here, the Casey Court
stated with unmistakable clarity that state regulation of
access to abortion procedures, even after viability, must
protect "the health of the woman." Id., at 846.

Reading this I began to doubt I was in actuality reading a piece of Constitutional Law. As near as I can figure it, while I was attempting to read Carhart I must have accidently turned away from my computer screen, gone downstairs and started watching Oprah.

Were we to adhere to the Ginsburg touchy-feely school of jurisprudence, where the ultimate standards are not law but any individuals sentiments concerning their "destiny" or their "conception of their place in society," is there anything that would be legitimate for Congress to legislate about?

"Gee," claims someone in California, "It is just an integral part of my personhood and my individual destiny to ingest as much crack cocaine as I can." Logically, Ginsburg would have to grant such a request. (She wouldn't of course, but only because logical consistency isn't her bag baby.)

What Ginsburg dissent comes down to is an attempt to defend an argument made in bad faith. If the meaning of the "woman's health" requirement can come down to her understanding of her personhood in relation to the cosmos, it is in effect meaningless. Indeed, it makes the Constitution not a document defining our public life as a people, but a text whose meaning is solely in the eye of the beholder.

Derrida would be proud.

I'm horrified.

Gore Wrong Again

Wow. This makes twice in two days.

By Chris Landsea: New Hurricane Science

Today a new paper by Gabe Vecchi and Brian Soden has been published:

Vecchi G. A., B. J. Soden (2007), Increased tropical Atlantic wind shear in model projections of global warming, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L08702, doi:10.1029/2006GL028905. (

My reading of the paper by Vecchi and Soden is that this is a very important contribution to the understanding of how global warming is affecting hurricane activity. The study thoroughly examines how the wind shear and other parameters that can alter the number and intensity of hurricanes because of manmade global warming. What they found - surprisingly - is that in the Atlantic that the wind shear should increase significantly over a large portion of where hurricanes occur - making it more difficult for hurricanes to form and grow. This was identified in all of the 18 global climate models they examined. (Perhaps it's not that surprising given that Knutson/Tuleya 2004 showed some of the same signal for the more reliable models back then. Now the signal is in ALL of the CGCMs.) Even the MPI changes in the Atlantic appear mixed, due to the smaller SST increases there (with more uniform upper trop temp changes) compared with the rest of the global tropics/subtropics.

One implication to me is that this further provides evidence that the busy period we've seen in the Atlantic hurricanes since 1995 is due to natural cycles, rather than manmade causes. We've seen a big reduction in wind shear in the last thirteen hurricane seasons, which is OPPOSITE to the signal that Vecchi and Soden have linked to manmade global warming changes. Another implication is that this paper reconfirms earlier work that suggests that global warming will cause very small changes to Atlantic hurricanes, even several decades from now.
[emphasis added]

Note that the predicted result of global warming should be fewer hurricanes, not more of them. It also looks like we would expect, on average, less intense hurricanes as well. The extremely active hurricanes seasons we have been experiencing in the Atlantic basin actually argue against their being any noticeable effect on tropical storms by warming.

In one sense none of this is new, but this signal has now been identified in every single major hurricane model used today. It is safe to say that folks like Gore are using "catastrophe scenarios" that contradict the state of the science today.

Oh consensus, we hardly knew ye!

Gore is a charlatan.


Let's see how folks are reacting to this study.

Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [whose previous work is directly contradicted by these findings-ed.] , said he thinks storms' sensitivity to wind shear may be overestimated.

Emanuel, who was not involved in this research, said he published a study last year that calculated that increasing the potential intensity of a storm via warming by 10% increases hurricane power by 65%, whereas increasing shear by 10% decreases hurricane power by only 12%. [As ALL hurricane models are accounted for in this new study, one can only assume that either A) Emanuel's work is shoddy, or B) Deliberately misleading. Based on what I've read of Emanuel's "work" I'm leaning towards "B" being more likely.]

On the other hand, Christopher W. Landsea of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, called Vecchi's study "a very important contribution to the understanding of how global warming is affecting hurricane activity."

Landsea, who was not part of the research, said he believes it "provides evidence that the busy period we've seen in the Atlantic hurricanes since 1995 is due to natural cycles, rather than manmade causes."

The research was funded by NOAA and NASA.

Actually, the complete discounting of this new study by Emanuel without even a HINT that he should investigate the matter more fully, simply confirms the lack of scientific principle at play here. Emanuel has spoken the "gospel" and he doesn't want to hear from the "unbelievers."


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

AGW Needs A New Poster Child

Funny thing happens when you actually do research as opposed to posturing and public relation campaigns: Kilimanjaro's ice set to linger

A fresh assessment suggests the famous ice fields on Africa's tallest mountain will be around for decades yet.

Recent concerns that climate warming would rob Mount Kilimanjaro of all its glaciers within 20 years are overly pessimistic, say Austrian scientists.

Their weather station data and modelling work indicate the tropical ice should last well beyond 2040.

Precipitation and not temperature is the key to the white peak's future, the University of Innsbruck-led team says.

"About five years ago Kilimanjaro was being used as an icon for global warming. We know now that this was far too simplistic a view," said Thomas Moelg.

In case you don't speak academic that last bit I highlighted means "Blaming this on AGW is dead wrong, but we don't really feel like losing our main sources of funding."

The research team has been using three automated instrument stations on the top of the mountain to collect continuous data on temperature, pressure, solar radiation, humidity and wind.

The recording effort was in position late last year to witness heavy snowfall, which will have led to a slight increase in Kilimanjaro's overall ice volume.

This glacier growth is only temporary, however. The mountain's ice is dependent on the pulses of moist air that sweep across from the Indian Ocean.

Since the late 1800s, these have become less frequent, and the regular snows that would maintain the ice fields are now a rare occurrence in what has become a much drier climate in East Africa.

Please remember that last year was (so we were told) the "warmest year ever" and the glacier at Kilimanjaro grew larger. Also notice that this research confirms the hypothesis that glacier retreat has nothing to do with "warming" but with moisture patterns AND that these patterns starting changing in the 19th century. (Must have been caused by those "Sport Utility Horse and Buggies.")

Some scientists have drawn a fairly straight-line curve and forecast a rapid final retreat to a totally bare mountain.

But the Innsbruck team is more optimistic about the medium term having now put real field measurements into a comprehensive modelling programme.

"Glacier recession has been a feature on Kilimanjaro for more than 100 years, but this is the first time we really have a precise understanding of the physical processes that control the glacier-climate interaction on Africa's highest mountain," said Dr Moelg.
But those other scientists made the politically correct assumption, how could they have been wrong??

This work emphasises the significance of the lack of precipitation (250mm per year on the summit) versus temperature (a mean of -7C).

It indicates that glacier mass loss would be about four times higher if precipitation decreased by 20% than if air temperature on the mountain rose by 1C.

Furthermore, it suggests that two-thirds of the ice that is lost goes straight into the atmosphere through sublimation (the direct conversion of snow and ice to water vapour).

"In recent years many people have talked about 'the melting glaciers of Kilimanjaro'. If one wants to be more precise, I would call it the 'evaporating glaciers of Kilimanjaro'," said Dr Moelg.

This confirms the view that the African peak does not play an important role as a reservoir for water, unlike in the Andes and the Himalayas where some lowland cities and agricultural systems are dependent on summer melt high in the mountains.

"This is not a factor at all at Kilimanjaro and it never has been," said Professor Kaser.

Well, that pretty much covers it. Everything, absolutely everything, said about the Kilimanjaro glaciers by Al Gore has been shown to be wrong.

He's real big on the "truth" you know.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

In a "Don't Lets Start" moment Tommy Thompson's bid for the Presidency effectively ends today: Making money part of Jewish tradition

Former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson told Jewish activists Monday that making money is "part of the Jewish tradition," and something that he applauded.

Speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., Thompson said that, "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted to highlight the "accomplishments" of the Jewish religion.

"I just want to clarify something because I didn't [by] any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things," he said.

What an imbecile. This is simply unspinnable. The best case scenario is that he's completely brain dead.

Tommy, do us all a favor right now and go home.


It gets worse and better for Thompson:

According to the Democratic source, Thompson made several remarks that seemed off-kilter during his address. He reportedly boasted of being the governor of the first state to buy “Jewish bonds,” when he probably meant to say “Israel bonds,” and he referred to his friend, Marty Stein, as being a big supporter of the “Jewish Defense League,” when he probably meant to name the Anti-Defamation League. (The JDL is a notorious militant group.) Thompson also reportedly referred to Winston Churchill as being the first leader of Israel and the region.

This is the break Tommy needed. This is so rambling, incoherent and moronic that he can plausibly claim to have been high on heroin at the time.

Prayers For Those At Virginia Tech

Nothing to say here. I just feel gutted.

Gunman Kills 21 at Virginia Tech

The Unexamined Life Of Academics

If you haven't read Michael Barone's latest it worth a quick trip to RCP: Of Victims and Virtues

"We believe these three individuals are innocent."

The words, soberly spoken by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, bring to an end the unjust prosecution of the three former Duke lacrosse players.

"We have no credible evidence that an attack occurred."

The motives of the "overreaching" prosecutor, as Cooper called him, are obvious: Prosecuting three white men on charges brought by a black accuser helped him win black votes he needed in an election. The motives of those who rushed to believe the charges -- and continued to believe them 366 days after DNA testing implicated none of the players -- are something else.

The "Group of 88" Duke professors, journalists for The New York Times and the Durham Herald-Sun, and heads of black and feminist organizations all seemed to have a powerful emotional need to believe. A need to believe that those they classify as victims must be virtuous and those they classify as oppressors must be villains. A need to believe that this is the way the world usually works.

Except it doesn't. Cases that fit this template don't come along very often. In this country, black-on-white crime is far more common than white-on-black crime (black-on-black crime is far more common still). You won't see the characters exercised by the Duke case looking at the recent case of three University of Minnesota players accused (whether justly or not) of rape -- they happen to be black.

This need to believe that the victim class is always virtuous and the oppressor class is guilty is widespread, and perhaps growing, in this country and abroad. It is particularly strong among those lucky enough to get paid to observe the way most people work and live -- academics, journalists, apparatchiks of advocacy organizations.

Truly the most scandalous aspect of the entire Duke case is not the behavior of prosecutor Nifong. His unethical grandstanding was despicable but in many ways par-for-the-course in the world of electoral politics. Had the Duke players actually been guilty of the rape nobody would have held Nifong's behavior against him even though his behavior would have been no less unethical.

No, the truly scandalous behavior belongs to the academics both at Duke and around the country who have shown such contempt for both their students and the basic principles of due process and common decency. Barone seems a little surprised that so many of these well educated folks continued to believe in the guilt of the lacrosse players despite all evidence to the contrary. If you think of it as the result of their warped political ideology the mystery falls away from it. Indeed, from their perspective none of this has anything to do with the actual guilt or innocence of these three individuals. Ideological purity demanded that they be guilty regardless of the facts because they were white and privileged and the accuser wasn't. To them actual evidence is an impediment to the "larger truth" they wish to impose. (Yes, for these folks "truth" is something imposed not discovered.) If a few innocent people have to have their lives destroyed in the name of their ideological vision SO BE IT!!! "All for the greater common good!!"

The "Group of 88" represent an almost perfect storm of intellectual vacuity combined with moral degradation. College students deserve better. Based upon the non-reaction of the academics to the fact they were disastrously wrong in this case, I think it is safe to say college students will wind up getting worse.

Pushing Back There, Capitulating Here

Two stories on a single subject. First from Pakistan: Karachi protest at Sharia mosque

Tens of thousands of people have protested in the Pakistani city of Karachi against a radical mosque and its religious schools in Islamabad.

The chief cleric of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), Abdul Aziz, had announced a Taleban-style Islamic court would be set up to curb "vulgar" activities.

He also gave the government a month to close video shops and brothels.

The protest organisers, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), branded the mosque "religious terrorists".

The MQM is largely supportive of the policies of President Pervez Musharraf.

MQM leader Altaf Hussain told Sunday's rally by telephone from London via loudspeakers: "Islam is a religion of peace and there is no place in it for using force or terrorism.

"The people of Islamabad are insecure and under threat due to the activities of these religious terrorists."

Abdul Aziz is a vocal critic of the Pakistan government's support for the US-led "war on terrorism".

Last week he announced a court based on Islamic Sharia law and began an anti-vice campaign.

The court passed a fatwa on Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar after she was pictured hugging a man following a paragliding flight.

It is nice to see so many good folks in Pakistan resisting this "bridge to the 11th century." It is a little sad that even the BBC feels the need to portray the choice involved as being "religion or brothels." At least the protesters get it, even if the BBC is a little fuzzy on the subject.

Whenwhile in Minnesota the Balkanization of the US continues: Ritual-washing area for Muslims at MCTC may be only the beginning

Last week, I wrote about Minneapolis Community and Technical College, which is planning to install facilities to help Muslim students perform ritual washing before daily prayers. It's a simple matter of extending "hospitality" to newcomers, says President Phil Davis -- no different than providing a fish option in the college cafeteria for Christian students during Lent.
MCTC is apparently the first public institution in Minnesota to enter this unfamiliar territory. Where is it looking for guidance?

Dianna Cusick, MCTC's director of legal affairs, is overseeing the project. She referred me to the Muslim Accommodations Task Force, whose website she is using as a primary resource ( "They've done all the research," she said.

On the site, I found information about the handful of public colleges that have "wudu," or ritual bathing, facilities.

But I also discovered something more important for colleges seeking guidance on "accommodations": Projects like MCTC's are likely to be the first step in a long process.


At Georgetown University, Muslim women can live apart in housing that enables them to "sleep in an Islamic setting," as the website puts it. According to a student at the time the policy was adopted, the university housing office initially opposed the idea, on grounds that all freshman should have the experience of "living in dorms and dealing with different kinds of people." That might sound appealing, Muslim students told a reporter in an article featured on the website. But in their view, the reporter wrote, "learning to live with 'different kinds of people' " actually "causes more harm than good" for Muslims, because it requires them to live in an environment that "distracts them from their desire to become better Muslims, and even draw[s] weaker Muslims away from Islam."

The task force isn't operated by overly enthusiastic college students. Its professional staff, based in the Washington, D.C., area, includes coordinators who provide legal advice, teach students to lobby, write letters on their behalf, and help them overcome "obstacles" such as college administrators' concerns about violating the separation of church and state.

The Muslim Accommodations Task Force is a project of the Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada. MSA's mission is to enable Muslims here "to practice Islam as a complete way of life," and its "main goal" is "spreading Islam," according to its website. The association calls itself the "landmark Muslim organization in North America," and says it has chapters on 600 campuses.

On MSA's website (, the sort of inclusive language used by the Muslim Accommodations Task Force gives way to hard-hitting advice for insiders. One downloadable publication --"Your Chapter's Guide to Campus Activism" -- describes how activists can advance political positions such as "restoring justice within the Palestinian territories," and opposition to the Patriot Act and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The cover features a student with a megaphone, and the slogan "Speak Out! Stand Up! Say It Loud!"

MSA views itself as America's moral and political vanguard. "As Muslims, we are a nation elected by God to lead humanity,"

Isn't this exactly the sort of statement that would get liberals everywhere hopping mad if Pat Robertson said it?

Just wondering.

Over at CQ they ahd the following to say about this:

These Muslim activists want to create a separate society within the United States for Muslims, and they want the US to provide them the facilities with which to create it. Separate dorms, separate cafeterias, Muslim-only physical-education classes -- they want a separate Muslim college at MCTC and everywhere else. It's self-initiated apartheid.

Forty years ago and more, we had segregationists insisting that different peoples could not live within the same area without dividing lines. They used the same excuses as multiculturalists do today, too; each culture feels more secure when they can exclude others. We heard it from white supremacists and from black separatists -- and we proved them wrong. We made sure that people knew America stood for peaceful integration and not for Balkanization, even for what seemed to be good reasons to some.

Now we have Muslims who want to reopen the argument in order to create a closed society for themselves within the US. We have no problem with Muslims who integrate into our society and become Americans in deed as well as in name. If Muslims want to open their own universities to ensure the proper exercise of their religion, well, that works too. But if Muslims want us to recreate the French banlieus and an homage to Jim Crow so they can get even more insular than they already are here in the US, then we need to put our foot down -- washed or unwashed -- and say, "Enough!"

We do not need religious apartheid at MCTC or any other public university or facility. If devout Muslims do not want to integrate into American society, then they need to find another place to live. Period.

This is exactly right. The situation we have here is not the same as the efforts of previous immigrant groups to hold on to some aspects of their ethnic heritage through social clubs or "old world" language newspapers and the like. Here you have groups bent upon the eventual destruction of the liberties we all enjoy as Americans because it is inherently "harmful to Islam" to their mind. This is intolerable in the United States. Now, if they wanted to segregate themselves out of mainstream society, such as folks like the Amish do, that is one thing, but to demand that they should be allowed to create a separate United States is not acceptable.

If that is what they want they need to find somewhere else to live.

It is sad to see so many in higher education willing to sell out the principles of this nation at the drop of a hat.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Own Personal "Amen" Corner

Saw this at Winds of Change:

Media Matters has a post up today explaining that

Internet gossip Matt Drudge has claimed that Media Matters for America is a "Soros operation."

In fact, Media Matters has never received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros.
Looking at the non-authoritative but informative Sourcewatch entry on Media Matters we get:

Funded with "more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals." "Among Mr. Brock's donors is Leo Hindery, Jr., the former cable magnate; Susie Tompkins Buell, who is co-founder of the fashion company Esprit and is close to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and Ms. Buell's husband Mark; and James C. Hormel, a San Francisco philanthropist whose appointment as ambassador to Luxembourg was delayed for a year and a half in the late 1990's by conservative lawmakers protesting what they called his promotion of a 'gay lifestyle.'

Media Matters for America is funded in part by the Democracy Alliance.

And following the Sourcewatch link to 'Democracy Alliance' we get:

"Members of the Democracy Alliance include billionaires like George Soros and his son Jonathan Soros, former Rockefeller Family Fund president Anne Bartley, San Francisco Bay Area donors Susie Tompkins Buell and Mark Buell, Hollywood director Rob Reiner, Taco Bell heir Rob McKay ... as well as New York financiers like Steven Gluckstern."

Conservative site 'Discover the Networks' says:

Media Matters has not always been forthcoming about its high-profile backers. In particular, the group has long labored to obscure any financial ties to George Soros. But in March 2003, the Cybercast News Service (CNS) detailed the copious links between Media Matters and several Soros "affiliates" - among them, the Center for American Progress, and Peter Lewis. Confronted with this story, a spokesman for the organization explained that "Media Matters for America has never received funding directly from George Soros" (emphasis added), a transparent evasion.

Here's why this matters - if the issue is to replace one group of powerhungry liars with another, it's really hard for me to motivate any energy to become involved. And I assume that I'm not alone.

Transparency and honesty matter, or they don't. You can't bust GWB for failing to be completely transparent and then cloak yourself in bullshit without the room starting to stink.

Honesty is more important to me than social justice because I don't believe that people who are profoundly dishonest are capable of advancing the cause of social justice.

What An Ass

Everything we have come to love from the "Reverend" Al Shapton.

Anti-Semitism is the cancer of the left. Anybody over there sensible enough to cut it out?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Step One: Create Foolproof Secret Plan. Oops!

Berezovsky says planning Russian revolution

Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky said he is planning a revolution in Russia to topple President Vladimir Putin, in comments published on Friday.

"We need to use force to change this regime," Berezovsky, who has received asylum in Britain, told the Guardian newspaper.

"It isn't possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure."

Asked if he was fomenting a revolution, he said: "You are absolutely correct."

Berezovsky, a vocal critic of Putin, said he was in contact with members of Russia's political elite.

He said these people -- who he did not name because, he said, that would endanger their lives -- shared his opinion that Putin was eroding democratic reforms, centralizing power and infringing Russia's constitution, according to the Guardian.

"There is no chance of regime change through democratic elections," Berezovsky said.

Maybe it's just me, but Putin isn't the sort of person I would want to have my intentions telegraphed to. He's not so much the head of a country as the godfather of a large criminal syndicate. Folks have a way of getting seriously dead when they oppose him.

In fact I'm sure the first question life insurance agents in London ask of Russian emigres is, "Are you a Putin critic?"

I bet the premiums are just hell.