Saturday, June 30, 2007

It's Official: Democratic Party Attempting To Destroy Baseball

Finally, academic research asking the really big questions, such as, "How does party ID relate to support for the designated hitter rule?" The Etiology of Public Support for the Designated Hitter Rule (Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2007, 2: 189–203)

Several aspects of our findings deserve mention. Most important, and consistent with our expectations, we find that self-identified Democratic Party members are more likely to support the DH rule than are either independents or Republicans; the odds ratio of 1.90 suggests that, on average, Democrats are 90 percent more likely to support the rule than are independents. This implies (we think) that the values that draw the respondents to the Democrats are linked to those associated with supporting the rule. At the same time, the reverse is not true: Republicans are no more or less likely to support the DH rule than are political independents. Nor are self-identified political conservatives, once the effects of party are accounted for, any more likely to express hostility toward the rule than are liberals.

The main reason the researchers were not surprised by this finding is...
...those on the political left are typically more accepting – even welcoming – of change, particularly when those changes can be shown (or are believed) to yield tangible benefits. This line of reasoning suggests that those on the political right will be less likely to favor the DH rule, while those on the left will be more likely to support it.

However, I feel this misses the point. Were this simply an extension of the political reaction to "change" (or favoring tradition over change) we would have expected the opposite result from Republicans or, especially, ideological conservatives, yet we do not find such a result. A better explanation, I feel, can be found in the liberal/Democratic propensity to politicize nearly everything, which is something that Republicans and independents are less likely to do. Liberals project their political attitudes onto baseball, while non-liberals are more apt to "let baseball be baseball", i.e. treat it as a game.

Opponent of the DH dislike it because it creates categories of pseudo-players who either do not hit, or who cannot run and field. In effect, it favors crappy baseball players. You can agree or disagree with such a view, but it is clear that the opposition to the DH rule does not rise from any political consideration. Democrats, however, see politics in everything so maybe they are agreeing with the DH rule, on an almost subconscious level, because it resembles affirmative action for the old,slow and incompetent.

Additionally, this paper gives a great example of why I love footnotes so damn much. Footnote #15 is a thing of beauty:

In an interesting sidenote, 4.6 percent of those uninterested in baseball believed that the world would end in 2000, compared to 1.5 percent of those who expressed at least some interest in the sport (χ2 1 = 7.45, p = 0.006, γ = −0.53). Perhaps more tellingly, four of the five baseball-following Armageddonites in our sample favored the DH rule, though this latter relationship failed to attain statistical – if not metaphysical – significance.

I'm sure the problem was a small n for the "baseball-following Armageddonites." Given that, it still makes sense that such folks favored the DH rule. I mean, if the world is about to end who cares about the DH?

(h/t to Drezner for pointing me to this.)

Contrasting Styles: A New Battle Of The Sexes

Got both of these from the Des Moines Register. First: Wives use persuasion more, study at ISU shows

At work, women still receive less pay than men, but a new study suggests they are climbing the power ladder at home.

The Iowa State University research shows that compared to husbands, wives make more attempts in conversation to persuade their spouses, who are more likely to agree to their demands.

The study did not follow up with the couples to see whether those conversations led to action.

An ISU research team - led by David Vogel, associate professor of psychology, and Megan Murphy, assistant professor of human development and family studies - interviewed 72 married couples. The participants were either staff, faculty or students at ISU, so the results don't necessarily apply to people across all economic or social backgrounds, Vogel acknowledged.

The examples of wives' influence over husbands played out in videotaped conversations between the couples about issues in their lives.

"Someone would say, 'I think our house is too messy, it's always too messy,' and the partner would say, 'I agree,' " Murphy said.

The study was paid for with a $73,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and $18,000 from ISU.

Previous research has suggested that a society that favors men does so both at work and at home, where the one who earns more money has the clout to make the decisions, and the other takes on the bulk of household chores, Vogel said.

"What we found is women were doing more domineering attempts and that the men were more likely to respond by giving in, then by trying a domineering attempt or one-up in return," Vogel said Friday.

The results could be explained by the fact that women are socialized to put more effort into caring for relationships, Vogel said. Also, some studies have shown that marriages are happier if there's a pattern of women exerting influence, he said.

Interesting. But didn't we sort of know this already? It may place it in a more negative light, but isn't there a traditional view that wives nag and husbands give in? OF course "nag" is such an ugly and un-PC word. Maybe we can simply call it women's "projecting power to patriarchal hegemony." That'll be swell!

The second story I saw puts the whole husband/wife "communication" thing in a different light: Man used shock collar on wife, police say

A rural Cambridge man strapped an electronic dog collar to his common-law wife and shocked her for an hour while their daughter was left alone in a hot car, authorities alleged Friday.

Donald Bruce Allen, 41, is charged with third-degree kidnapping, child endangerment and domestic assault in the June 21 incident, say Polk County sheriff's deputies, who made the arrest.

Teri Mathews, 41, told investigators that Allen shocked her 10 to 20 times in an hour and demanded information, the nature of which was unclear, said Neil Shultz, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

"There's certainly been incidents in the past that domestic violence has been given a lot of different definitions, but I've never seen anything at all where somebody would do this to another person," Shultz said. "I can't imagine what this must have felt like, having that dog collar on and being shocked 10 or 20 times over the period of an hour.

"It's bizarre."

Yikes! Patriarchal hegemony strikes back.

After reading stories like these, I sometimes wonder why women consent to live with us at all.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Unseemly Politicking

The Iconic Midwest usually refrains from making endorsements in key races, but I believe it was time to make an exception.

Iowahawk's Miss Hoosegow 2007 is upon us, and while I have cast my lone vote, I can still encourage all of you to support the most deserving candidate: I present you with.....[drumroll].....Megan!

Megan - Could this flaxen-haired beauty be from England? DM police charged her with driving left of center -- along with two DWIs, probation violation and revoked license.

And remember:

Charges are not convictions, and all Hoosegow Honeys are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law!

So please, vote early, but don't vote often.

Right now Megan is sitting in second place with only 14.5% of the vote. It is a travesty of justice!

Your Musical Interlude, Part VII

Going north of the border today for a little Blue Rodeo.

Patterico Finds God...

...or a statistics professor at Northwestern University. Same difference really.

Purdue University Must Be Proud

From the Indianapolis Star: Purdue student convicted of Bush threats

After an afternoon of deliberations, a federal jury Thursday convicted Vikram Buddhi of 11 counts of using the Internet to threaten American leaders and the nation's infrastructure.

Buddhi, an Indian national who has spent a decade studying at Purdue University in West Lafayette, never disputed writing online messages such as, "Call for the assassination of GW Bush."

Rather, the jury in U.S. District Court in Hammond was asked to decide whether Buddhi's comments were true threats or part of a crude online protest of the Iraq War that should be protected by free speech rights.

The jury ruled that a reasonable person reading Buddhi's messages online could conclude that he intended to harm the president, the vice president, their wives and the secretary of defense, and to blow up various power plants and methods of mass transit.

Buddhi is expected to be sentenced later this year, but it's not yet clear how long a term of imprisonment he faces.

Buddhi never took the stand in his three-day trial, and the defense offered only one witness, an attorney who had located other threatening messages on the same financial news message board Buddhi used.

Secret Service Special Agent Wade Gault testified the case would have set a new standard for speech if Buddhi had not been punished for exhorting assassination.
The five offensive messages appeared on Yahoo Finance message boards in December 2005 and January 2006. At least three people reported them to the Secret Service.

It's a strange defense. "But, I made these threats on the internet! That makes it all O.K., right?"

Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Benson said Buddhi must be held accountable for the words he chose to write on his computer and publicly post for anyone in the world to read.

"What is this? Is the Internet the wild, wild West, where you can say anything? That's not the way it's worked out," Benson said. "It's the same as sending a letter."

And if Buddhi's speech was purely political, why call for the rape of first lady Laura Bush, Benson said.

"What kind of political speech is raping women? How is that possibly connected to any type of political speech that has any merit?" Benson said. "It's meant to scare the hell out of people who read it."

This Buddhi sounds like a lovely individual.

It is sort of strange that this case hasn't received more attention from the left or right.

It's Time To Be Uncharitable

Sometimes you read something in the newspaper that is too stupid to be believed. Well, Ellen Goodman has one of those moments today. From a piece entitled The transformation of Justice Ginsburg:

The court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, the one woman among 16 Goodyear supervisors who was paid far less throughout her career. Tough luck, the court said; discrimination suits had to be filed within 180 days after the pay was set.

This time, Ginsburg not only dissented but called upon Congress to change the law and thereby overrule the court.
[emphasis added]

The court didn't write the law. The legislature wrote the F-ing law. Of course the legislature can go back and change a law so it acts more equitably. THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO! That is what conservative jurisprudence has ALWAYS asked legislatures to do. Conservatives don't want the courts writing the law because that isn't their job. If people don't want the 180 day deadline to be a part of the law, so the SC says, then pass a new version of the law that DOESN'T HAVE A 180 DAY DEADLINE! (Yes, I know. Shocking!) So having Congress act on this matter is not "overturning the court" in any way, shape, or form, as it wasn't the Court that put the 180 day deadline in the law in the first place.

Besides, having legislatures revisit old laws is not a bad idea. It is in fact the way things should have always been done. So Ginsburg isn't making some radical new pronouncement here, as Goodman for some unfathomable reason believes. She is just saying that the legislatures have the power to remedy this bad law. I agree with her on that point. The 180 day deadline seems needlessly restrictive and bad public policy to boot. But notice, both of those opinions (A: the deadline is too restrictive, and B: it makes for bad public policy) belong to the political world; the world of committee hearings, public debate, and votes. You know...the democratic process. However, Ginsburg would have preferred to remedy the situation through judicial fiat, which smacks of nothing but her aristocratic pretensions and delusions of liberal grandeur. Ginsburg is not better than the people. Let the people's representatives make the laws. After all, that is the democratic way.

More Times "Fairness"

Saw this on Powerline concerning the Joseph Berger column I wrote about a couple days ago: Evan Almighty

In "Film portrays stifling of speech, but one college's struggle reflects a nuanced reality," the New York Times begins with a look at Evan Coyne Maloney's documentary film "Indoctrinate U." Maloney's film portrays the suffocating intolerance of heterodox speech in the name of diversity and sensitivity on college campuses. You know we're in trouble when the Times's critique finds the film wanting in "nuance," but in "New York Times covers Indoctrinate U," Evan capably responds. Evan writes:

Oddly, one of the examples cited in the article (but not the film) was the case of a student paper published by Vassar's Moderate, Independent and Conservative Student Alliance. The paper was de-funded and shut down for a year after publishing a piece criticizing the school's funding of special "social centers" for minority and gay students. But because the paper was eventually allowed to start publishing again-the following year-the Vassar case is presented as one in which "[u]ltimately, free speech was respected."

Sorry, but shutting down a paper for a year is not a benign event, and it is certainly not one in which we can say "free speech was respected." If Homeland Security shut down the Times for a year after exposing ways that we track terrorist financing, I'm sure they'd understand my position on this.

Evan also finds the Times's critique itself to be wanting in attention to "nuance" in its description of one of the cases he covers in the film:
When the author [of the Times article] does cite cases mentioned in the film, he minimizes them by leaving out the most vital information. One student, he says, "underwent a daylong disciplinary hearing for posting a flier." Actually, that student had the police called on him and spent 18 months of his life defending himself when the school's demanded that he see a psychologist and threatened him with expulsion. His crime? Posting this flyer which promoted an upcoming speech by an author named Mason Weaver. It merely had a picture of him, the title of his book, and the date, time and location of the event. Yet university regarded it as "offensive literature of a racial nature," which ultimately led to a federal court case.

That's a tad more than "a daylong disciplinary hearing." But the author ignored all that.

Somehow the Times's attention to "nuance" ends when nuances support the filmmaker's case.


Rocky Mountain College: We Will Kick Your Ass

He's a bad man: Montana college leader arrested in Carmel
Rocky Mountain College President Michael R. Mace was arrested in Indiana and spent a night in jail after allegedly beating up a man.

Mace, 55, was arrested June 13 in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on misdemeanor battery charges, the Carmel Police Department said.

Officials at the Hamilton County jail confirmed that Mace spent a night in the jail and was released on bail the next day, The Billings Gazette newspaper reported.
On Thursday, Mace told the Gazette that his attorney in Indianapolis had advised him not to comment on the case.

"We thought this case would be dropped," he said.

Mace's attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer, also declined to comment.

The plaintiff in the case, David S. Klain, said in an e-mail to the Gazette that Mace attacked him.

Klain said Mace and his wife own a vacation home in Klain's housing development. He said Mace walked into Klain's office and "started battering my face until I hit the ground and my glasses broke."

"I was attacked completely unprovoked and never even attempted to hit back," Klain said.

Well, at least he wasn't driving drunk.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Nobody Here But Us Fair Minded And Even Handed 'Journalists'"

From Fire: `New York Times' Disappoints

I am, to say the least, disappointed by Joseph Berger’s column in The New York Times today concerning Evan Maloney’s film “Indoctrinate U” and free speech on campus in general. I have been corresponding with Joe for several weeks, and even had lunch with him this past Friday. I had hoped that after such extensive interaction, I had demonstrated to him that a serious and ongoing free speech problem exists on campus. I also hoped that I had convinced him that taking student fee funding away from a student newspaper for printing a controversial article is censorship. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

As for the article, I don’t know which is worse: that Berger uses the single example of Vassar College’s handling of a controversial article as a tool to refute the idea that there is a serious censorship problem on campus, or that he chose to praise the outcome of a case in which the school did, in fact, punish a student publication for what would be clearly protected speech outside Vassar’s gates.

It’s worth quickly reviewing the case to understand my disappointment in Berger’s column. Back in 2005, The Imperialist, a publication of Vassar’s Moderate, Independent and Conservative Alliance (MICA), published an opinion piece criticizing what the anonymous author perceived as the balkanization of campus along the lines of race and sexual orientation. The article read:

How is diversity achieved when those students are voluntarily confining themselves to ghettos of the ALANA [African, Latino, Asian and Native American] Center and Blegen House [“A lesbian and gay center for the study of social change”]? I find the objective of diversity to be utterly meritless, suggesting that our colleges should become some zoological preserve in some paternalistic attempt [to] benefit our ‘non diverse’ students….

While it’s understandable that students might be upset by this article, one could easily argue that the central point expressed here—that students should not be encouraged to divide into race- and orientation-based enclaves—is in fact anti-racist and egalitarian. However, Berger presumed throughout my interview that the article was simply hurtful and of little redeeming value.

In today’s column, Berger sums up the situation thusly:

[S]tudents complained that the language was insulting and called for banning The Imperialist. For weeks, the issue was debated by the student association, which finances the publication. Ultimately, the group withheld its money for one year and publication was suspended.

Withholding money is most certainly punishment. And any journalist should recognize that suspending a newspaper is a drastic step. Nonetheless, Berger overlooks the disturbing ramifications of The Imperialist’s punishment, content instead to praise Vassar’s student body for responding “without violence”:
What was notable was that Vassar, a college of 2,360 students founded in the 19th century on progressive ideals—and a place where conservatives remain a distinct minority—hashed out the matter without violence and did not trash or burn newspapers as has happened at other campuses.

While I can think of few things more chilling than employing violence, theft and destruction to suppress unpopular opinions, lauding students—as Berger does here—simply for not resorting to such illegal, illiberal and immoral tactics is stunning. The bottom line is that a student newspaper criticized the polarization of students by race and orientation—and, for doing so, the newspaper lost funding and was suspended for a year. Exactly how is that an acceptable outcome at an American liberal arts university?

And then we come to the clincher. Berger writes:
Vassar deserves credit because, as students explained, the dispute was not focused on whether The Imperialist could argue that a center exclusively for minority students fragmented the community; it was over whether the language used to express the idea was offensive.

This blows me away. So, according to Berger, the problem wasn’t the viewpoint, it was the provocative language used to express the viewpoint. Apparently unwittingly, then, Berger is making one of censorship’s most basic arguments, relied on by censors the world over for centuries. As we point out in FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech On Campus:

[John Stuart]Mill addressed one of the major rationales for imposing constraints on free speech on campuses today, namely that speech should be “temperate” and “fair.” Mill observed that while people may claim they are not trying to ban others’ opinions but merely trying to banish “intemperate discussion…invective, sarcasm, personality, and the like,” they never seek to punish this kind of speech unless it is used against “the prevailing opinion.” Therefore, no one notices or objects when the advocates of the dominant opinion are rude or uncivil or cruel in their denunciations of their detractors. Why shouldn’t their opponents be equally free to show their disdain for the dominant opinion in the same way? Further, Mill warned, it always will be the ruling orthodoxy that gets to decide what is civil and what is not, and it will decide that to its own advantage.

I quoted a lot of that, but I thought it was exceptionally well done. It should be clear that the "liberals" or "progressives" of today, or at least those at elite organs like the New York Times, care for liberalism not at all. If they did there is no way they could be as callous or ignorant of its primary tenets as they most assuredly are.

The truth is the so called "liberals" of the New York Times know and honor Gramsci more than Mill, prefer Nietzsche to Madison, and put Foucault into practice rather than Dewey or Lippmann. This explains why Berger is surprised that the large majority at Vassar didn't employ violence against the distinct minority on campus. He doesn't believe there are rights that people hold by merit of their standing as human beings. Instead of such rights, he believes in might makes right. By Berger's standard conservatives at Vassar should count themselves lucky that violence wasn't used against them, as it has at many other places (as Berger states (advocates?) so matter of factly.) They were allowed to express their opinion without violence through the forbearance of the majority opinion alone. To the liberal mind that is the barest minimum we should expect from our fellow citizens. For Berger it is a heroic deed.

It is a sad and slightly disgusting performance.

Should I Not Be Seeing A Connection Here?

First this: It's all about me, so praise me, why doncha?

"Younger workers crave praise around the office."

While tech-savvy, independent and well-educated, these young workers revel in, even crave, constant praise. ...

"You used to think that no news was good news," said Kent Crossland, director of information technology for PING, the Phoenix-based golf club maker. "Today, I guess no news is bad news. They need attention and feedback." ...

[The Y generation was] raised in an age of "active parenting" and are overindulged, overprotected and oversupervised.

That's why some Generation Y members crave constant feedback into adulthood.

"One of the ways that this generation got narcissistic is that their parents praised them all the time," said Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.

We are reaping the fruits of the self-esteem movement that began a generation ago. Low self esteem was blamed for all manner of disfunctions, from failing grades to juvenile criminality. If the kids just had a higher opinion of themselves, so we were told, then they'd be happier, better adjusted, as less likely to get into trouble.

It was all baloney, of course, but millions of moms and dads and educators bought into it. They heaped praise on children for the most trivial reasons: "Hey, Andrea, you're doing a great job breathing!" Okay, I exaggerate (but only slightly).
The result:

For decades schools have embraced the idea that ... unless the classroom was cozy and thick with "warm fuzzies"--an educational watchword--students wouldn't even try. That led to avariety of policies aimed at protecting children's feelings. It also led to grade inflation, an emphasis on groupwork rather than individual effort, the elimination of valedictorians and even the dearth of spelling bees, critics say.

And then this: Poll: Liberals Are Gaining Among Young People (and here as well.)

So liberals may not be ruling talk radio.

But a new poll suggests they are making big inroads among another important force: young people.

And the poll shows that at least some of this is a backlash against the presidency of President George Bush:

Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion.

In a snapshot of a group whose energy and idealism have always been as alluring to politicians as its scattered focus and shifting interests have been frustrating, the poll found that substantially more Americans between the ages of 17 and 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race. But they appeared to be really familiar with only two of the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats.

They have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party, and although they are just as worried as the general population about the outlook for the country and think their generation is likely to be worse off than that of their parents, they retain a belief that their votes can make a difference, the poll found.

I don't know about anyone else, but these "findings" go together hand in glove. There has always been a political dimension of the "self-esteem" approach to educations. The entire premise of it has been that you have a right to success based upon your mere existence. That one might have to work and compete in order to attain what you desire was seen an anathema, since the kids were not "equal." "Why should little Timmy not win an award for his spelling just because he doesn't know how to? Why it would crush his little feelings! And who told little Jenny to be such a know-it-all anyway?!"

You tell me: Is such a view more compatible with a conservative or "progressive" view of the world?

Of course, that is a trick question as it isn't just "compatible" with the progressive vision, it is identical with it.

Totally New Concept: Statistical Sampling

From QandO: Liberal Media Group argues liberal media isn’t really liberal

Media Matters is pushing back against the MSNBC story about the donation patterns of journalists by arguing that MSNBC only cited a small sample of all journalists.

  • MEDIA MATTERS: Kurtz claimed "a lot of journalists" are giving to Dems — but number giving at all is tiny percentage of whole
  • MEDIA MATTERS: Kurtz again cited report on journalists’ donations without noting that only tinyfraction gave at all

Yes, if only there was some method of making inferences about a population based on data from a smaller sample.

It really makes me wonder if someone at Media Matters ran this "argument" by a colleague and they responded "Yeah! That's gold!"

At this point you need to stop trying. You're embarrassing the species.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

“All We Have To Fear Is Freedom Itself”

My latest column is up at MvdG. Go check it out!


From the PD: Home brick laws could hit stone wall

The controversy over requiring brick on new homes is spreading locally and has entered the civil rights arena nationally.

City leaders in Columbia, Ill., heaved insults at St. Charles County two years ago, saying they didn't want their town to become a "sea of vinyl" like some places in the fast-growing Missouri county.

So the Columbia City Council found a powerful weapon in an ordinance requiring all homes in new subdivisions to have brick or stone facades. It was approved early last year.

Now, Millstadt, another Metro East community, is considering a similar ordinance.

The idea is not new. Ellisville in west St. Louis County has had an ordinance requiring the use of masonry — quietly, with little controversy — for decades.

Home builders and the vinyl industry are not taking this sitting down. In fact, a possible precedent-setting civil rights lawsuit is moving through a federal court in Texas.

That's right. It's a civil rights question.

The National Association of Home Builders, the NAACP and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin are suing Kyle, Texas, an Austin suburb, over a similar brick ordinance that they say prices minorities out of the single-family housing market.

"I'm paying close attention to the Texas case," said Jerry Rombach, executive director of the Homebuilders Association of Greater Southwest Illinois.

The Texas case is set for trial in January. If the outcome favors the Home Builders Association, Rombach said he will not rule out pursuing similar litigation against Columbia or Millstadt — should Millstadt adopt a law mandating masonry construction.

"Such mandates add thousands to the price of a new home," Rombach said. "It has a negative impact on minorities and female heads of households — and their ability to purchase the same house as a nonminority."

Yeah. Because, God knows minorities can afford to build a $250,000 new single family home, but there is no way they could afford to build a $260,000 home! That's discrimination.

Of course it is worse then these champions of civil rights know! Why, right down the street here there is an entire community that proudly claims they have homes starting from the $300,000! Racists!!!!!!!!

Anybody got Jesse Jackson on their speed dial?

And You Wonder Why Some Want To Bring Back The Latin Mass?

Hmmm.....I guess that is one way to do it: NUNS GONE WILD: Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Get Down for Jesus

I suppose this is an attempt to appeal to all of those who think, "Gee, mass is nice and all. But I really wish it were more like porn."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Visiting St. Louis? Remember To Pack Your Sunblock And Chain Mail

From the PD: 4 arrested in riverfront swordplay

Swordplay on the riverfront injured one man early today and led to the arrest of four others.

Police say that sometime after midnight, two men, ages 19 and 20, were talking on Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard. A car -- maybe two cars -- pulled up, and somebody shouted, "That's them!"

One man jumped out, brandishing what police described as a two-foo-long sword. He swung at one of the two victims, slicing a four-inch cut in the left arm. The swordsman also swung at a car owned by one of the two men, breaking off the side-door mirror and smashing the rear window.

The two victims of the attack fled , pursued by the attackers in their car, or maybe two cars.

At one point, police say, the attackers flourished not only a pistol but also a two-foot-long machete.

What? Nobody brought a mace?

Will Al Gore Fear A Marketing Professor?

A gauntlet (of a sort) has been thrown down:

The following terms were sent to Al Gore Tuesday, June 19th, 2007.

Al Gore has claimed that there are scientific forecasts that the earth will become warmer and that this will occur rapidly. University of Pennsylvania Professor J. Scott Armstrong, author of Principle of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners, and Kesten C. Green, of Monash University (and Armstrong’s Co-Director of, have been unable to locate a scientific forecast to support that viewpoint. As a result, Scott Armstrong offers a challenge to Al Gore that he will be able to make more accurate forecasts of annual mean temperatures than those that can be produced by current climate models.

The general objective of the challenge is to promote the proper use of science in formulating public policy. This involves such things as full disclosure of forecasting methods and data, and the proper testing of alternative methods. A specific objective is to develop useful methods to forecast global temperatures. Hopefully other competitors would join to show the value of their forecasting methods. These are objectives that we share and they can be achieved no matter who wins the challenge.

Al Gore is invited to select any currently available fully disclosed climate model to produce the forecasts (without human adjustments to the model’s forecasts). Scott Armstrong’s forecasts will be based on the naive (no-change) model; that is, for each of the ten years of the challenge, he will use the most recent year’s average temperature at each station as the forecast for each of the years in the future. The naïve model is a commonly used benchmark in assessing forecasting methods and it is a strong competitor when uncertainty is high or when improper forecasting methods have been used.

Specifically, the challenge will involve making forecasts for ten weather stations that are reliable and geographically dispersed. An independent panel composed of experts agreeable to both parties will designate the weather stations. Data from these sites will be listed on a public web site along with daily temperature readings and, when available, error scores for each contestant.

Starting at the beginning of 2008, one-year ahead forecasts then two-year ahead forecasts, and so on up to ten-year-ahead forecasts of annual “mean temperature” will be made annually for each weather station for each of the next ten years. Forecasts must be submitted by the end of the first working day in January. Each calendar year would end on December 31.

The criteria for accuracy would be the average absolute forecast error at each weather station. Averages across stations would be made for each forecast horizon (e.g., for a six-year ahead forecast). Finally, simple unweighted averages will be made of the forecast errors across all forecast horizons. For example, the average across the two-year ahead forecast errors would receive the same weight as that across the nine-year-ahead forecast errors. This unweighted average would be used as the criterion for determining the winner.

Terms of the challenge can be modified by mutual agreement.

From a scientific point of view Gore would be a fool to accept the challenge, however, from a political point of view Gore should absolutely accept. We have had gloom and doom forecasts for almost thirty years now (fifty if you want to count when the "doom" involved a "coming ice age"), and they haven't been correct yet. So Gore would lose this bet, but no one would know that for 10 years! The political considerations of the AGW hysteria will shake out (or has the potential for shaking out) in the next couple of years. That being the case, Gore should put on his best pseudo-science bravado and accept the challenge. He can crow about how he is "putting his money where his mouth is" and score huge political points.

Here is more on the view of forecasting inherent in this challenge: From Sp!ked

Armstrong got the idea for the climate change wager from the late Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland who was a friend of Armstrong’s. In 1980, Simon bet the population scaremonger Paul Ehrlich that natural resources were not scarce and shrinking, as Ehrlich and other Malthusian environmentalists claimed. Ehrlich accepted: he chose five metals (copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten) and bet Simon that in 10 years’ time the price of these metals would have risen exponentially due to their continued depletion by human adventure. In fact, when 1990 arrived, the price of all of Ehrlich’s metals had fallen. Simon won the bet and Ehrlich handed him a cheque for $576.07. Armstrong expects to win his bet with Gore, too (that’s if Gore accepts; he hasn’t responded yet). But even if he were to lose, ‘at least I will have started a debate about forecasting’, he tells me.

Armstrong and his colleague Kesten Green, senior research fellow at Monash University in Australia and also an expert on forecasting, have been conducting research into the global-warming forecasts put out by Gore and organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And they discovered that most climate-change forecasters use bad methodology. They are set to present their findings at an International Symposium on Forecasting in New York on Wednesday. ‘What we have is climate forecasters effectively translating their own opinions into maths’, says Armstrong. ‘Their claims are not built on clear and thorough scientific forecasts but on their own outlooks.’ In Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts – the paper they are presenting at the symposium, which spiked has seen – Armstrong and Green point out that the IPCC’s Working Group One Report predicted ‘dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years’, and they ask: ‘Are these forecasts a good basis for developing public policy?’ The answer provided in their paper is an emphatic ‘no’.

Armstrong and Green – whom I’m sure won’t mind being referred to as forecasting geeks – argue that those who predict sweeping changes in the climate break many of the golden rules of forecasting, as laid out in the 2001 book The Principles of Forecasting. In their paper, they assessed ‘the extent to which long-term forecasts of global average temperatures have been derived using evidence-based forecasting methods’. They surveyed 51 scientists and others involved in making global-warming predictions, asking them to provide scientific articles that contained credible forecasts to underpin their view that temperature will rise rapidly. Most of those surveyed – 30 out of 51 – cited the IPCC Report as the best forecasting source. Yet according to Armstrong and Green, the forecasts in the IPCC Report are not the outcome of scientific forecasting procedures – rather the Report presents ‘the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing’. Indeed, in their ‘forecasting audit’ of the IPPC Report, Armstrong and Green found that it violated 72 of the principles of forecasting.

Such as? ‘Well, some of the principles of forecasting can appear counterintuitive, so bear with me’, says Armstrong. ‘One of the principles is that agreement amongst experts is actually not a very good measure of accuracy. This is especially true if experts are working closely together, and towards a certain goal, as they do in the IPCC. Such an atmosphere does not tend to generate reliable or accurate forecasts. Another principle of forecasting is that when there is uncertainty, your forecasts should be conservative, you should hedge your bets a little bit. The IPCC and others do exactly the opposite: despite their uncertainty, the fact that they don’t know for certain what will happen, they are radical in their predictions of warming and destruction and so on.’

McCain's Waterloo (Iowa)

Over at TMV Joe Gandelman has a nice post outlining the difficulties plaguing the McCain presidential bid.

(1) His status as a straight shooter and a straight talker were undermined by his efforts to appeal to the conservative GOPers who had successfully sandbagged his 2000 run. It’s hard to seem like a campaign finance reformer when there are allegations that scores of lobbyists on your staff. Too much video and audio remains of former positions to jettison them sharply, even if you explain the change with a smile. It never works (unless you’re Mitt Romney). McCain had to “finesse” many of the statements that sparked his 2000 popularity.

(2) One reason he got independent voters support in 2000 was because he seemed to be willing to take on social conservatives, and the religious right in particular. His efforts to inch back into their good graces (a) didn’t totally win over those voters (b) lost him support among many independent, moderate and Democratic voters who perceived him the way poll-popular Arnold Schwarzenegger is now being perceived in California (as someone who perhaps doesn’t fit into either party classification).

(3) He linked his fate to that of President George Bush on the Iraq war, not only leaving little distance but at times advocating a stronger stance. Some will ultimately view this as a profile in courage. But by doing so he turned off many voters who above all want a change in Iraq policy, not a continuation of the Bush policy.

(4) He stopped being college campus cool. It’s hard to be if you’re not just supporting the Iraq war but seek a harder line. The incredible buzz and wildly enthusiastic reaction among young people, which got McCain LOTS of ink and air time, was greatly decreased. The media imagery this time was just not there.

(5) Immigration. If you note, his real political belly flop in the polls came when he worked with Kennedy on immigration reform and advocated not just border enforcement but an adjustment of the status of many of the many illegal immigrants already here. This was the last straw for many Republican voters who felt they simply could not trust McCain. Immigration reform is a highly emotional issue in the Republican base and has led to Bush’s poll numbers going down as well.

I think this is all right on the money. I would only add the distrust of McCain by conservatives goes back to McCain/Feingold, and his work on the immigration reform bill merely confirms his unsuitability to many (most?) of the Republican base.

Back in March, I wrote the following: McCain's Iran-Contra

McCain's stubborn refusal to face up to the unpopularity of his assault on free speech rights will ultimately doom his presidential aspirations: His long, slow, agonizing bus trip to what the Daily Show calls "crushed-in-the-primaries-ville."

But it doesn't have to be this way. McCain should pull a page from Ronald Reagan's Presidential history and perform the Iran-Contra mea culpa. He should go before conservative audiences and say something like:

"When I began the legislative process that was to become the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act I truly believed there was a great problem afflicting our country with unregulated expenditures poisoning our political process. There were some who worried that taking such a path would erode our precious First Amendment rights to free speech. At the time I disagreed with those that took that view. I thought it was a false dichotomy being proposed by the critics and that our freedoms would not be put in danger by what I was advocating.

Now, five years later, we can see the fruits of this approach...of my approach...and I am forced to admit that my critics were right. Please know, I never would have undertaken this effort if I had thought it would infringe upon the sacred rights we enjoy as citizens of this great country. But I, with great humility, must admit that that is exactly what has happened.

I will dedicate myself, whether as a Senator or as the President, to restoring the free speech rights my well-meaning but deeply flawed legislation has damaged.

And to all of those who have argued with me over years on this subject I want to add: Thank you for your steadfast defense of our Constitution and our liberties. I finally get it."

In the end it will all boil down to a syllogism:

McCain will never be the Republican nominee without saying saying like the preceding.

McCain will never say anything like the preceding. (He is simply too egotistical I believe.)

Therefore, McCain will never be the Republican nominee.

Nothing has really changed since the early spring, except that the disconnect between McCain and the voters is becoming more noticeable. Look, everyone already knows that McCain can be steadfast in his beliefs, so you can already list that in the "asset" column. However, being steadfast in defense of an idea soundly repudiated by folks you want to vote for you is the biggest of liabilities.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I've found one can learn much about an organization by looking at their "About Us" page, although usually what you learn isn't what they thought they were telling you when they put the page up in the first place. A classic case in point is the Center For American Progress, a liberal think tank in the news for attacking, I mean "right wing" talk radio.

Anyway, here is their "Who We Are" section:

The Center for American Progress is a progressive think-tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action.

We are creating a long-term, progressive vision for America—a vision that policy makers, thought-leaders and activists can use to shape the national debate and pass laws that make a difference.

I'll admit this doesn't prove much except they are vacuous. "Yay! We are for ideas! And for laws we like! Hooray!"

Here they tell us how they work:

1) We explore the issues that matter most. We learn everything we can about the vital issues facing America and the world through dialogue with leaders, thinkers and citizens.

2) We develop bold new ideas. We debate. We develop a point of view. Then we take a stand.

3) We shape the national debate. We share our point of view—online, on campus, in the media, on the shop floor and in the boardroom, with Congress and in statehouses—with everyone who can put our ideas into practice and affect positive change.

Let's see how they add to the "debate" shall we? Luckily they have put together a graphic to show us exactly what they have in mind:

So see, if you are not one of them you are selfish, naive, xenophobic, and, well, basically Hitler without the mustache. Alright, the Hitler part isn't in the graphic, but you get the idea.

All I can say is...yeah, sure. That'll make the "debate" fabulous.

Actually, the folks at The Center For American Progress are nothing other than your garden variety prejudiced bigots. The reason they want to shut down right wing radio is because fundamentally they do not believe another side ought to be allowed, as I think their graphic makes abundantly clear. If you disagree with them you are morally reprehensible. They already know they have the better answers to every questions because they have axiomatically defined it as being so. To allow dissent of any sort would be to give in to narrow minded xenophobes.

And, of course, it is the other side that is arrogant.

How anyone would give credence to the work of such people is beyond me.

You can read other interesting posts on this topic at Stubborn Facts and at MvdG.

Your Musical Interlude, Part VI

Today it is Richard Thompson and his oh, so fantastic guitar.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Looking Out My Window

I thought this pic turned out well. Unforunately I didn't get the pic five minutes earlier when the rays of the sun were more brilliant. About five minutes after this was shot dime sized hail hit.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

From the BBC: Australians 'repelled Iran navy'

Iranian naval forces in the Gulf tried to capture an Australian Navy boarding team but were vigorously repelled, the BBC has learned.

The incident took place before Iran successfully seized 15 British sailors and Marines in March.

The lessons from the earlier attempt do not appear to have been applied in time by British maritime patrols.

The 15 Britons were searching a cargo boat in the Gulf when they were captured over a boundary dispute.

'Having none of it'

When Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured the British sailors and Royal Marines in March, it was not exactly their first attempt.

It turns out that Iranian forces made an earlier concerted attempt to seize a boarding party from the Royal Australian Navy.

The Australians, though, to quote one military source, "were having none of it".

The BBC has been told the Australians re-boarded the vessel they had just searched, aimed their machine guns at the approaching Iranians and warned them to back off, using what was said to be "highly colourful language".

I almost feel sorry for the Royal Navy. I mean the original incident was bad enough, but to be shown up by the Australians has to really grate.

An Opportunity Missed?

From the AP: 100-foot deep Andes lake disappears (I'll quote the whole thing.)

A five-acre glacial lake in Chile's southern Andes has disappeared -- and scientists want to know why.

Park rangers at Bernardo O'Higgins National Park said they found a 100-feet-deep crater in late May were the lake had been in March. Several large pieces of ice that used to float atop the water also were spotted.

"The lake had simply disappeared," Juan Jose Romero, head of Chile's National Forest Service in the southernmost region of Magallanes, said Wednesday. "No one knows what happened."

A group of geologists and other experts will be sent to the area 1,250 miles southeast of Santiago in the next few days to investigate, Romero said.

One theory is the water disappeared through cracks in the lake bottom into underground fissures. But experts do not know why the cracks would have appeared because there have been no earthquakes reported in the area recently, Romero said.
A river that flowed out of the lake was reduced to a trickle.

What? No idle global warming speculation??? This is not the sort of reportage I expect from you AP! For God's sake there is a glacier involved!!!! Way to fall down on the job.

Someone get Al Gore on the phone.

It's "Angels Dancing On Pins" Season

Hey, it is all things Catholic today at The Iconic Midwest.

Actually, I don't have any comments to make, I just wanted to point interested folks to two nice pieces on the Vatican’s International Theological Commission report on Limbo, both from First Things.

Limbo and the Gospel Out of Season
Antinomies of Limbo: Some Historical Milestones

Annuling The Annulment

Well, here is a little late justice: Vatican 'backs ex-Kennedy wife'

The Vatican has reversed the annulment of former US Congressman Joseph P Kennedy II's first marriage, his ex-wife Sheila Rauch says.

They were divorced in 1991 and Mr Kennedy obtained the annulment in secret in 1993, before he married his secretary Anne Elizabeth Kelly.

Ms Rauch had alleged that the Kennedy family had used its influence in the church to obtain the annulment.

Mr Kennedy is the nephew of President John F Kennedy, assassinated in 1963.

His father, Robert Kennedy, was in turn murdered in 1968 as he campaigned for the Democratic Party's nomination for presidential candidate.

"The annulment decision totally overlooked the fact that I felt that we had a very strong marriage in the beginning, we had two wonderful children, and it lasted," said Ms Rauch.

The Vatican reached its decision in 2005 and informed her in May, Ms Rauch said.

She received the notification in Latin and had it translated by the archdiocese of Boston, the Boston Globe newspaper says.

Mr Kennedy has made no comment on the Vatican's decision.

The fact an annulment was granted in the first place was always a black eye to the Church. It was painfully obvious the only reason it was granted was the last name of the husband involved. It always smacked of there being two sets of rules (at least in the Boston diocese), one for the wealthy and powerful & another for the plebs. There was never any doubt in this case that there had been a valid marriage by any and every Catholic standard, but for the well connected a "Catholic divorce" is always a phone call to the bishop away. It was a disgrace, and I'm glad the Vatican is putting their foot down (if belatedly.)

One wonders if the first words on the Latin document were "Nos es rumex." ("We are sorry.")

If not they ought to have been.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How About Trade Sanctions Against Japan?

If I read much more of this type of crapola I'm gonna bother the hell out of my congressman. 'No massacre in Nanking,' Japanese lawmakers say

About 100 Japanese governing party lawmakers denounced the Nanjing Massacre as a fabrication on Tuesday, contesting Chinese claims that Japanese soldiers killed hundreds of thousands of people after seizing the Chinese city in 1937.

The members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party said there was no evidence to prove mass killings by Japanese soldiers in the captured Nationalist capital, then known as Nanking. They accused Beijing of using the alleged incident as a "political advertisement."

Nariaki Nakayama, head of the group created to study World War II historical issues and education, said documents from the Japanese government's archives indicated that about 20,000 people were killed - about one-tenth of the more commonly cited figure of 150,000 to 200,000 - in the 1937 attack. China says that as many as 300,000 people were killed.

Nanjing suffered a rampage of murder, rape and looting by Japanese troops that became known as "The Rape of Nanking."

Historians generally agree that the Japanese Army slaughtered at least 150,000 civilians and raped tens of thousands of women.

Nakayama said the study, which was initiated in part because this year is the 70th anniversary of the battle, determined there was no violation of international law.

Toru Toida, another member of the group, demanded that photographs portraying the Japanese military in a negative light be removed from Chinese war memorials.

"We are absolutely positive that there was no massacre in Nanking," Toida said.

Here are some pictures of what "never happened."

(Warning: These are very graphic and disturbing.)

(Gleaned from QandO which had some good followup links folks can check out, if their stomachs are strong enough for it. There are plenty worse photographic evidence.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Limits Of Political Junkiedom

My new column is up over at MPFvdG. Gotta go over there to read it!

"The Polls Don't Mean Squat"

I'm actually paraphrasing the DK and not quoting. Now I'll quote:

Being a blogger has been on-the-job training for me. I was obsessive about the presidential polls in 2003. Then, as you see above, they meant squat. Kerry had 9 percent heading into Iowa. He won the thing easily. I learned my lesson.

These months are an opportunity for candidates to raise money, build organization, hone their message, and prep for the storm that'll hit them in September when they'll enter the stretch run of the race. At this point, the numbers mean little, and candidates have little incentive to lead the horse race.

As for those national polls, will they be as irrelevant this cycle as in 2004? Perhaps. We have a de facto national primary this year, so they may be a bit more relevant. Or maybe the country will bend its will to Iowa and New Hampshire again, as they did four years ago.

These are uncharted waters. But one thing's for sure, those national polls are currently predictive of nothing (though not useless, since they help drive fundraising and media coverage).

This has it right. It is amazing how many column inches can be filled with speculation that people have to know, on an intellectual level at least, is a complete waste of time.

People like to complain about the "horse race" aspect of presidential campaigns. I don't mind the horse race as such, I just hate it dominating political discourse so many months before the horses ever reach the gate.

Run For The Hills! We Have 53 Years Left!

From the AP: Papers show Isaac Newton's religious side

Three-century-old manuscripts by Isaac Newton calculating the exact date of the apocalypse, detailing the precise dimensions of the ancient temple in Jerusalem and interpreting passages of the Bible -- exhibited this week for the first time -- lay bare the little-known religious intensity of a man many consider history's greatest scientist.

Newton, who died 280 years ago, is known for laying much of the groundwork for modern physics, astronomy, math and optics. But in a new Jerusalem exhibit, he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found time to write on Jewish law -- even penning a few phrases in careful Hebrew letters -- and combing the Old Testament's Book of Daniel for clues about the world's end.

The documents, purchased by a Jewish scholar at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1936, have been kept in safes at Israel's national library in Jerusalem since 1969. Available for decades only to a small number of scholars, they have never before been shown to the public.

In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of Daniel to calculate the date for the apocalypse, reaching the conclusion that the world would end no earlier than 2060.

"It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner," Newton wrote. However, he added, "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."

In another document, Newton interpreted biblical prophecies to mean that the Jews would return to the Holy Land before the world ends. The end of days will see "the ruin of the wicked nations, the end of weeping and of all troubles, the return of the Jews captivity and their setting up a flourishing and everlasting Kingdom," he posited.

This is interesting stuff, although I'm not sure how "unknown" this part of Newton's thinking has been. His penchant for esoterica is well documented. In addition to the title "scientist" you have to add those of "alchemist" and "diviner" to Newton's CV.

It isn't that Newton would have ever rejected what the processes of hypothesis and experimentation told him, he just didn't believe those were the only paths to knowledge. He believed in both the recovery of deliberately hidden ancient thought, and the pseudo-revelatory nature of the world. So scientific experimentation was part and parcel of the same effort. The physical world around us operated, to Newton's mind, through hidden processes that could be uncovered through difficult effort; which is, of course, the entire point of esoterica.

We today are of an entirely different temperament. We are apt to think of our best scientific minds as being creators as opposed to diviners. In some sense it is as if we never quite believe science is telling us how the world really works as much as they are giving us a clever attempt to account for world in a coherent fashion. Part of this comes from our understanding of the incompleteness of the scientific project. We know that any theory that seems rock solid today could be shown to be largely inadequate tomorrow when a different clever creator comes up with a better idea. So the process of science seems less about the world around us and more about the power and limits of the human mind.

This is part of the reason we today have such a difficult time coming to grips with Newton's quasi-religious reflections. His belief that there is something "out there" he has to uncover conflicts so strongly with our belief that everything is created in the "in here" of our minds, we are forced to think of Sir Isaac as at least a partial lunatic. To that end we dismember his life's work into collections of incompatible categories; the acceptable scientific portion from the mystical, the logical from the devout, the understandable from the obscure. In the end, the "whole" of Newton's work is rendered forever inaccessible to us. It becomes, in effect, an esoteric world of its own.

Monday, June 18, 2007



Actually, I haven't been saying "ouch" much. It has been more of an "Aahhhhhh!" along with a sharp in-take of breath as a pain shoots through my left foot whenever I put any weight on it. This started yesterday afternoon. Nothing traumatic happened to my foot, it just began to ache. I thought maybe I had been sitting in an odd position and my foot just went to sleep, but then the foot started to throb. And then it became painful to walk.

The progression so far has been:

Yesterday 3:00PM: Everything normal, did a little shopping at the Walgreens.

Yesterday 5:00PM: My foot aches a little.

Yesterday 9:00PM: Shooting pain whenever weight is put on the foot.

Today: Pain a bit worse. I actually find I can walk most comfortably by putting my full weight on my right foot and dragging my left leg behind me Igor style. Anyone who would see me today would be certain I was putting on an obvious affectation, but I swear to God it is the best way for me to remain mobile.

As for what is wrong with my poor foot, I'm not exactly sure. Online health website are all wonderfully obscure, but I think I'm suffering from something called Morton's neuroma, which involves the inflammation of a nerve. It is one of those wonderful afflictions that can spontaneously occur for no obvious reason.


I'm generally on O.K. terms with the whole ageing process, but the little aches and pains get on my nerves. For example, last week I slept in a slightly awkward position and as a result my jaw, neck and shoulder hurt for 5 straight days. Ten years ago had I slept the same way all I would have needed to do is take an aspirin and I would have felt fine by lunchtime. Now it is practically debilitating.

I'm not the sort who goes running to the doctor's office every time I have the slightest medical issue, in fact I'm quite the opposite. I think this comes from having an RN for a mother. When I was a child anytime I thought there was anything wrong with me physically, my mother would give me long suffering look and announce, "You're not dying." As a result, to this day, I try to live with my aches and pains without the aid of physicians. In the case of my foot pain, it doesn't really look like there is much more they could do for me that I'm not already doing. I'm taking over the counter anti-inflammatory pain meds, trying to keep my foot elevated, putting the occasional ice pack on it, and trying to hobble around as little as possible. The deal I've made with my wife is that if it doesn't get better in a few days then I'll go see a doctor.

I wonder what my body has in store for me next week.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Episcopal Party

A couple of months ago I wrote of the liberal ascendancy in the Episcopal Church:

This movement represents the complete politicization of religion. By that I mean, this is the strongest expression of the belief that political ideology, of the "correct" sort, is the preeminent "moral" principle by which every category of human existence must be measured. Therefore everything, including religious beliefs, must be made subservient to ideology. It was once said that the Catholic Church made philosophy the handmaiden of theology. Well, the Episcopal Church is now attempting to make theology, political ideology's bitch.

If anyone had any doubts that this is what was really going on, all you need to do is read this piece from The Seattle Times: "I am both Muslim and Christian"

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim?

Yes, and one might wonder what her bishop thinks about her avowed apostasy. Oh, he thinks it is just ducky.

Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.

Bishop Warner has so little respect for the faith he supposedly is a part of that he cannot offer the most basic defense of its primary tenets. Obviously, his commitment to a political correct idea of tolerance comes before everything else.

In such a view there is no such thing as heretical thought, just "diversity."

If that is true, why have a church at all? Doesn't the very idea of a church get in the way of everybody doing whatever they feel like doing? Why go through the charade of pretend Christianity if all you really want is a place to have a social life and espouse your political ideology?

In the end, the "religion" of the liberal Episcopal Party seems little more than an unseemly tax dodge.

(Gleaned from Power Line)


I saw this today and I thought it was more than apropos: The Wasps Nest

We as a church have had a wasps nest of heresy and apostasy on our porch and, rather than doing the painful but necessary thing (which, by the way is mentioned as both necessary and painful in the Bible - y’know that book that…oh never mind) we have decided to ignore and tolerate it.

So, what happened? Well, funnily enough that wasps nest, over the course of the summer, grew, expanded beyond the confines of the box and suddenly, rather than a tiny little wasps nest we have a great big wasps nest - on our porch, stopping us getting in and out, getting the kids stung and generally making daily life difficult.

We tolerated it, and look what we became? The spectre of Catholic bishops tolerating ‘Catholic’ politicians supporting abortion and other innovations of the zeitgeist.

Simply put, you don’t tolerate wasps, you don’t tolerate sin, because if you do it just grows.

But wait a moment, where do Anglicans fit into all this, you may ask? Well, for the record I am not a good Anglican. If I was a good Anglican I would have taken that wasps nest inside and placed it at the centre of the mantelpiece. I would have watched it grow with pride, congratulating myself on my diversity and tolerance, glad that I had found it in my heart to be so inclusive. I would have been stung, and watched my children being stung and have rejoiced in this new relationship that the spirit was working within us.

Welcome, friends, to our world. Welcome to the Anglican Madhouse.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Your Musical Interlude, Part V

Today, it is an obscure number from the great kiwi band Split Enz.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dexterity They Call It

Lets us see how nimble the DK can be.

First the hysterical headline:

Politico Continues To Make Up News

Then the lede:

Since its inception a few short months ago, Politico, the online soul-mate to the Drudge Report, has gotten into the habit of creating news stories through innuendo, omission, outright error, and now today, out of thin air.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "incompetent" during an interview Tuesday with a group of liberal bloggers, a comment that was never reported.

Reid made similar disparaging remarks about Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said several sources familiar with the interview.
Of course the reason this comment was never reported is quite simple: the bloggers on the call don't remember this quote.

See they don't remember Reid saying it, so it must not have happened. (Someone forward this off to Scooter for comment please.)

Then, the troubling revelation!

Update: Well, it seems that Reid did say Pace was incompetent. He said to Pace's face.

And Reid said the following to all of the bloggers on the call:

"I guess the president, uh, he's gotten rid of Pace because
he could not get him confirmed here in the Senate... Pace is also a yes-man for
the president and I told him to his face, I laid it out to him last time he came
to see me, I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was."

How will our intrepid heroes get out of the pickle they have gotten themselves into? Why, by employing Literary Criticism 101 of course! You see, it's all a matter of interpretation really:

A throw away line that was so unremarkable that none of us remembered or
reported it, yet Politico attributes it to "several sources,"

See, it is a "throw away" line, and therefore no one need concern their pretty little heads over it. And besides! It is all Politico's fault for getting the quote correct, but from folks who were preparing not to remember it! What a bad journalist!

Thank God the DK is taking it upon themselves to decide what is and isn't important to pass along to its readers.

Just think of all the other things they have "forgotten" to report.

The Sure Thing

Slate has finally called an end to their silly Alberto Gonzales "deathwatch." Back in April I made the following observation:

Another consistently dumb thing has been the daily "forecast" of the possible departure of Alberto Gonzales. 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 200,485,773,214,478,329.

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.

O.K. it is now the middle of June, so I won't even try to calculate the numbers as it would fry my little calculators insides. But Slate at last is bowing to reality, at least somewhat:

When we first launched this enterprise, we truly believed that the sun rose in the east and gravity worked. We were wrong. As we have increasingly observed, most notably on the days the AG testified before Congress, some mystical alchemy provides that the worse he does, the better his chances become of remaining in office. At this point, just about nothing Gonzales does could cause the president to fire him. That will happen only if and when the president can make it look like he is not buckling under pressure. So we drop the Gonzo-Meter to zero, in the perverse hope that Bush might start to believe that ditching his AG is his own idea, not ours.

What Slate didn't seem to believe in is statistics. If they did, they might have noticed that their premises were ridiculous from the start. Notice, the fact they were disastrously wrong about the way the political world in Washington actually works never enters into their thinking. For them, the way they wish the political world worked is "reality" and what actually happens is fantastical.

Look folks, realism begins by coming to grips with the world you find around you. Period. All the rest is naivete.

Anarcho-Terrorist Loose In St. Louis?

The St. Louis Post Dispatch can almost put two and two together: Fire ruins 2 St. Louis work sites

A pre-dawn fire in the Central West End of St. Louis destroyed two structures under construction.

Fire Capt. Steve Simpson said that the three-alarm blaze had broken out shortly before 4 a.m. in the 4000 block of Lindell Boulevard, just west of Vandeventer Avenue. By 5 a.m., things were under control, he said.

Simpson said by phone from the scene that the blaze had destroyed the two projects -- a residential compex and a fast-food restaurant. But Simpson said firefighters had stopped the flames from spreading to nearby Metro High School, at 4015 McPherson Avenue.

Still, the heat blew out some windows in the school. A student arriving for classes said classes for today had been shifted to Carr Lane Middle School at 1004 North Jefferson Avenue.

One firefighter was injured slightly when an ax cut his hand, Simpson said. And a woman in the area was treated for smoke inhalation, Simpson said.

Simpson said the woman had told authorities she had seen something suspicious. He could not specify what she had seen but said officials would investigate. "It's always considered suspicious when it's a construction site," he said.

The fast-food project destroyed was an Arby's. Simpson said the fire had also damaged an Arby's that the construction project was meant to replace. He described the residential complex that was destroyed as three or four stories high.

Simpson said the fire had also caused minor damage to a nearby strip of retail businesses. The fire was near the site of the Salad Bowl, a landmark eatery that closed late in 2005

In all, Simpson said, 25 to 30 trucks responded to the fire.

By odd coincidence, today's fire broke out almost exactly a year after two condo projects in Lafayette Square burned up in what officials said was arson. Those fires -- they hit on Mississippi Place and Vail Place -- started just 37 minutes apart last June 14.

And in April 27, a fire believed to be an arson case destroyed a condo project at 2201 South Grand Boulevard.

Mayor Francis Slay announced a $65,000 reward in those cases. But nobody came forward to claim it.

Considering the types of construction hit by the arsonist(s) and the specific kinds of neighborhoods involved (urban gentrified or gentrifying), I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict we will find these fires are A) connected and B) perpetrated by someone with an "eco-terror" or an "anti-capitalism/globalization" political agenda.

How much you wanna bet it wasn't some youthful idealist who got "carried away" after reading Capitalism & Freedom?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A NSS Moment If Ever There Was One

You gotta love this Reuters article about this report, "Towards a Common Response: New Thinking Against Violent Extremism and Radicalization." commissioned by the think tank EastWest Institute.

Their main finding is a real shocker!

Violent Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremists invoke the same rhetoric of "good" and "evil"

Well, EastWest Institute, I think this theory of yours has really hit the nail on the head.

Of course, I would have been more surprised if they had discovered a single group of religious extremists since, oh I don't know, say...the dawn of time that didn't use such language.

But, hey! That's just me and my crazy high standards.

"We Can Say This Without Qualification...Almost"

This time from Reuters: Woolmer died of heart failure: Jamaica police

Pakistan's World Cup cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, almost certainly died of heart failure, Jamaica police said on Wednesday, a day after ending a high-profile murder investigation into his death.

Maybe the press is intentionally trying to encourage the conspiracy people.

This Reminds Me Of A Joke

From Sp!ked: Welcome to the People's Republic of Bono

The G8 should change its name to the G9. Because if this year’s summit in Heiligendamm, Germany was anything to go by, there’s a new member of the pack.

Alongside the eight most industrialised nations on Earth who make up the ‘Group of Eight’ – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US, who between them represent around 65 per cent of the world economy – there was a ninth stately presence at Heiligendamm. It didn’t actually sit at the summit itself, but it did have ‘numerous sources at the negotiating table’, to such an extent that it felt like ‘we have the place bugged, because everybody tells us [what is going on]’, said the ninth power. It also held meetings with most of the world leaders, and severely chastised those who refused to meet it. When Canadian PM Stephen Harper said he was too busy to meet with the ninth power he was accused of ‘blocking progress’. ‘Canada has become a laggard’, the ninth power declared. It also passed judgement on the proceedings: its ‘satisfaction’, ‘relief’, ‘fury’ or ‘disappointment’ with the G8’s decisions hogged the newspaper headlines during the three-day summit. It effectively played the role of a second chamber to the G8, keeping a Lord-like watchful eye on what the Group of Eight Commoners came up with.

Who or what was this stately presence at Heiligendamm? It wasn’t a state at all, or even a pseudo-state like the Vatican. It was one Paul Hewson, better known as Bono, the sanctimonious wraparounds-wearing lead singer of a wrinkling Irish rock band that hasn’t made a decent album since 1987 (though I suppose 2000’s All That You Can Leave Behind was okay).

Sp!ked is always worth the read so go over and enjoy.

In the meantime, this article reminds me of one of my all-time favorite jokes (which I'm sure most of you have heard, but for the few who might not have):

When Stevie Ray Vaugn died, he was greeted at the pearly gates by Jimi Hendrix. Stevie was, needless to say, awestruck, especially when Jimi showed him around Rock and Roll heaven.

They walked by a room, and inside was Janis Joplin, swimming in Southern Comfort.

"WOW" said Stevie, "that's Janis Joplin!!"

"Yeah" said Jimi.

They next passed a room with Elvis inside, surrounded by bananas and bread, and he was furiously making fried banana sandwiches. Stevie was, again, awestruck.

The next room contained Jim Morrison with stacks of paper around him, some laced with acid, others covered by Morrison's poetry drivel. Stevie smiled and decided he was going to enjoy it there.

The next room they passed had Bono (lead singer of U2) inside, and he was admiring himself in a mirror, doing his hair.

"WAIT!" faltered Stevie, "Bono's not dead yet!!"

"No no no," said Jimi, "That's God, he just thinks he's Bono!"

I May Have Jumped The Gun Before...

...But just think of it as I was prematurely correct. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Clayton site isn't blighted

In a decision that could derail the $210 million Centene Development project, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that an affluent intersection in Clayton does not meet the definition of blight.

The high court ruled that the City of Clayton failed to demonstrate that the 7700 Block of Forsyth Boulevard presents a "social liability" the community. That legal standard, the court ruled, is critical to justify redeveloping the area over the objection of property owners.

"Based on the foregoing definition of "social liability," the evidence was insufficient, the ruling reads. "In particular, the evidence before the city concerning fire, police, and emergency services reports did not support a conclusion of social liability."

The Centene development project was approved by the city of Clayton in December 2005. A St. Louis County judge approved it in January of this year, but the Missouri Court of Appeals later ruled the property is not blighted and referred the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court voted 6-1 in an unsigned opinion, with Judge Ronnie White dissenting.

"This does not fit with the popular perception of what constitutes a blighted neighborhood, to wit, an area that is rundown and located in a marginal community, one that offers little attraction to businesses and, thus, must resort to incentives, including the opportunity to acquire property by eminent domain, to encourage investment," Judge Laura Denvir Stith wrote in a separate and concurring opinion.

The Centene case was, of course, the one I highlighted in my piece about Philip Klein and his documentary Begging for Billionaires.

It is nice to know the courts in Missouri can make the no-brainer decisions.

My Other Life

The other day Michael van der Galien invited me to be a guest columnist on his terrific blog. I eagerly accepted and I will provide the occasional post there for the foreseeable future. (Probably one or two a week.)

In fact my first piece went up tonight. Go on over there to read In Praise of Incivility.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Textual Analysis Time

If you are a firm believer in Derrida you may want to avert your eyes now. I just wanted to compare the piece Joe Klein wrote on the perils of the "Bloggers Bile" to the response (if that is the right word for it) offered by Sacramento State History Prof. Joseph Palermo in the Huffington Post. (Quotes from Palermo will be in green, Klein in red. Apologies to my colorblind readers!)

Let's begin with Palermo:

In his latest commentary in Time magazine, the pundit Joe Klein praises those Democrats who voted to give President George W. Bush another $100 billion to continue the occupation of Iraq.

No he doesn't. This is either a "misstatement" or a lie. Since Klein's column is there for anyone to read, including Palermo, I'd chose "lie", but I'll leave that up to each individual to decide for themselves.

Klein gets snippy with what he calls the "free range lunacy" of "left-liberal bloggers" for criticizing Congressional leaders who believe that perpetuating the U.S. military presence in Iraq is somehow in our nation's interest.

Again, not what Klein wrote. He did write:

The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position.

Now, maybe Palermo is simply speaking ironically here by adopting the exact kind of "simplistic and extreme" position Klein criticizes, because he couldn't have proven Klein's case better if he had had Klein write his response for him. Klein very clearly refers to Democrats who want to get out of Iraq carefully. How that equals "perpetuating the U.S. military presence in Iraq" is something that can be known only to Palermo.

Klein blames these intemperate bloggers for "bullying" Representative Jane Harman and Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton into voting against the $100 billion. He denounces their votes as "kowtowing to extremists," and he decries the "fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere." In Klein's world, lefty bloggers "savage" and "ridicule" people who do not "move in lockstep" with the "most extreme" elements.

An improvement! Klein actually does say those things! Continue:

Klein's little article, entitled "Beware the Bloggers' Bile," is an interesting piece of punditry because it shows beyond any doubt that Time magazine's top political analyst has not the foggiest idea about how grassroots activism influences leaders in a modern representative democracy.

That's right! How would Klein know how, for example, presidential candidates respond to things like grass roots campaigns? Obviously, that is something you don't learn by being a journalist reporting on multiple political campaigns! Klein would have been better off getting a history PhD and taking a job at a large state school.

Please, Joseph, enlighten us:

As Klein would have it Democratic Congressional leaders should backstab the voters who put them in power last November, continue to rubber stamp Bush's failed Iraq adventure, and remain duplicitous in one of the most costly catastrophes in modern American history.

Uh, what? The only problem with this little scenario is that it is a lie. Yes, voters did give the Democrats a narrow Congressional majority in November, but to impart a monochromatic view on what every voter wanted from the Democratic party, or from their specific representatives, goes against every single opinion poll and against 50+ years of Political Science research into mass political behavior. Other than that, Joseph, it's gold.

To make it worse Palermo says:

[Klein] sees the vote in favor of giving Bush the money to continue the occupation of Iraq as a courageous, even heroic, political choice.

Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. He certainly doesn't say that in this piece.

Joe, here's how it works: You see, there is something called the "base" of the party, and these are usually people who are passionate (unlike you) about their core political values. In the case of the Democrats, the "base" cares about labor unions, health care, the social safety net, and restraining the more murderous tendencies of America's marvelous military machine -- remember the 2.5 million dead Vietnamese?

I won't interrupt too much here, but think of Animal House.

"He's rolling."

Anyway, you see, Joe, this thing called the "base" of the Democratic Party will be voting in next year's presidential primaries, and it is comprised of many of the same people who put the party in charge of both chambers of Congress. They'll be pretty important in these elections getting out the vote, walking precincts, participating in phone banks, etc., and they're a tad bit angry about the killing and the torture and the horror their government has unleashed on the world in recent years. People who voted for the Democrats last November expected them to move substantially against Bush's occupation of Iraq. You see, Joe, this is sort of how democracy is supposed to work.

Wow. If Klein wrote anything half as churlish and condescending as this, just imagine the reaction!

Any intelligent reader's reaction to Palermo should be, "What in the hell is he talking about?" Because it has nothing to do with what Klein wrote.

A strange thing happened to me the day the House of Representatives voted to pass the Iraq-war-funding bill. Congresswoman Jane Harman of California called as the debate was taking place. "Look, I would love to have cast a vote against Bush on this," she told me. "We need a new strategy, and I hope we can force one in September. But I flew into Baghdad [with 150 young soldiers recently]. To vote against this bill was to vote against giving them the equipment... they need. I couldn't do that." I posted what Harman said on Swampland, the political blog at, along with my opinion that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had changed their positions and voted against the funding for the worst possible reason: presidential politics.

And then Harman changed her position. After we spoke, she voted against the funding. The next day, I was blasted by a number of left-wing bloggers: Klein screwed up! I had quoted Harman in the past tense—common usage for politicians who know their words will appear after a vote takes place. That was sloppy and... suspicious! Proof that you just can't trust the mainstream media. On Eschaton, a blog that specializes in media bashing, I was given the coveted "Wanker of the Day" award. Eventually, Harman got wind of this and called, unbidden, to apologize for misleading me, saying I had quoted her correctly but she had changed her mind to reflect the sentiments of her constituents. I published her statement and still got hammered by bloggers and Swampland commenters for "stalking" Harman into an apology, for not checking her vote in the Congressional Record, for being a "water boy for the right wing" and many other riffs unfit to print.

Has Palermo given an iota of evidence that the behavior of the "netroots" in this matter was justified. No. Has Palermo shown, via evidence of any sort, that Klein contentions about the Clinton/Obama/Harman votes were inaccurate. No.

Is Palermo's writing seemingly a good example of what Klein calls:

...a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn't move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable.

The word "absolutely" leaps to mind.

Indeed, the attitude and tone of Palermo betrays a deeply undemocratic temperament. His belief that he can speak for every single person who voted for a Democrat last November displays a staggering hubris and arrogance. It combines the shallowness of the ideologue with the certainty of the tyrant and demagogue.

Klein expresses his opinion that such behavior stinks (and blames Republicans for it!), and Palermo, like much of the left-o-sphere responds with a middle finger salute.


And, as Klein states, typical.