Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sheesh! It Is A Sad Age We Live In

We are a petty, petty people sometimes: Oval Office gets a makeover

While President Obama was on vacation, his West Wing office got a bit of a face lift, complete with a new rug, fresh wallpaper and paint, and new furniture -- all done at no taxpayer expense, the White House says.[emphasis added]

It is sort of pathetic that we don't allow a new President to make some cosmetic changes to their workspace without it degenerating into an exercise of CYA 101.

The Left Cannot Be Taken Seriously

Here is yet another example of the utter stupidity of the left in America. Climate Skeptic Bjørn Lomborg Reverses Himself on Climate Change

The problem with this is Lomborg is not nor ever has been a "climate skeptic." He differed from the leftist mainstream only upon the issue of policy preferences. That the left is still arguing the opposite of this incontestable fact is simply idiotic. Of course, ignorance has never stopped them in the past. Why should it give them pause now?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Confirming What We Already Knew

Mann's Hockey Stick is still bunk.

Granted, you are still free to believe in it. You merely have to reject the discipline of statistics. That's easy peasy for many.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Liberals Scandalized By Affirmative Actions Program

Shocked! Simply shocked!!

[A] Mississippi school is making headlines for its bad behavior. MSNBC reports that Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Mississippi, has racially segregated the student council positions at the school. According to a memorandum that school officials distributed to students, only whites can run for the position of president. Only blacks can run for Vice President of the 8th grade class, while only whites can run for that position in 6th and 7th grade. The positions of "Secretary-Treasurer" and "Reporter" are similarly segregated. If this news is true, it proves, once again, that there are places in this country where the legal command of Equal Protection means nothing at all.

Jim Crow lives, right?

Probably not. As the original story makes clear the thirty year old policy, which rotated offices between white and black students, was designed to ensure minority representation. From the press release from the school district:

After being notified of a grievance regarding upcoming student elections at Nettleton Middle School, research was conducted that evidenced that the current practices and procedures for student elections have existed for over 30 years. It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body. It is felt the intent of these election procedures was to ensure African-American representation in each student office category through an annual rotation basis.

It is our hope and desire that these practices and procedures are no longer needed to help ensure minority representation and involvement. Furthermore, the Nettleton School District acknowledges and embraces the fact that we are growing in ethnic diversity and that the classifications of Caucasian and African-American no longer reflect our entire student body.

Therefore, beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office. Future student elections will be monitored to help ensure that this change in process and procedure does not adversely affect minority representation in student elections.

I, for one, am happy to see the school district adopt new policies that mirror the conservative position of equal opportunity to participate, as opposed to the liberal position of equality of result. It is also encouraging to see so many heretofore liberal pundits embracing a core teaching of the conservative movement, and fundamentally rejecting the basic mechanism behind affirmative action programs.

What? They don't see it that way? Funny that.

Welcome To The Leviathan

Creepy is only the half of it: Court allows agents to secretly put GPS trackers on cars

Law enforcement officers may secretly place a GPS device on a person's car without seeking a warrant from a judge, according to a recent federal appeals court ruling in California.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Oregon in 2007 surreptitiously attached a GPS to the silver Jeep owned by Juan Pineda-Moreno, whom they suspected of growing marijuana, according to court papers.

When Pineda-Moreno was arrested and charged, one piece of evidence was the GPS data, including the longitude and latitude of where the Jeep was driven, and how long it stayed. Prosecutors asserted the Jeep had been driven several times to remote rural locations where agents discovered marijuana being grown, court documents show.

Pineda-Moreno eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to grow marijuana, and is serving a 51-month sentence, according to his lawyer.

But he appealed on the grounds that sneaking onto a person's driveway and secretly tracking their car violates a person's reasonable expectation of privacy.

"They went onto the property several times in the middle of the night without his knowledge and without his permission," said his lawyer, Harrison Latto.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal twice -- in January of this year by a three-judge panel, and then again by the full court earlier this month. The judges who affirmed Pineda-Moreno's conviction did so without comment.

Latto says the Ninth Circuit decision means law enforcement can place trackers on cars, without seeking a court's permission, in the nine western states the California-based circuit covers.

This is simply nuts. If the police have justified suspicions about the possible criminal activities of an individual why shouldn't they have to go before a judge before being able to place a surveillance device? Our Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches was put in place to deny exactly the type of "fishing expeditions" the 9th Circuit has just sanctioned. Given this ruling, there would be no legal obstacle to the police simply targeting an entire geographical locale for tracking, or selcting any other reason (singling out a particular racial group for example).

As ever, the 9th Circuit has privileged state power over our rights. Just listen to the voice of tha state on the matter:

[S]upporters of the decision see the GPS trackers as a law enforcement tool that is no more intrusive than other means of surveillance, such as visually following a person, that do not require a court's approval.

"You left place A, at this time, you went to place B, you took this street -- that information can be gleaned in a variety of ways," said David Rivkin, a former Justice Department attorney. "It can be old surveillance, by tailing you unbeknownst to you; it could be a GPS."

He says that a person cannot automatically expect privacy just because something is on private property.

"You have to take measures -- to build a fence, to put the car in the garage" or post a no-trespassing sign, he said. "If you don't do that, you're not going to get the privacy."
[emphasis added]

Get that? All you suckers living in apartments or on city streets have no expectation of privacy from the prying eyes of the state, who can monitor you electronically without cause if they feel like it. Of course, if you live in the burbs or in a gated community, you can have some privacy. Nice.

The truth is technological advances are making it increasingly easy for the state to monitor large numbers of people at a cheap price. The fact that non-electronic surveillance required a large amount of manpower was a check on its possible abuse. It was cost prohibitive to engage in. Electronic monitoring is relatively cheap, and getting cheaper by the day.

But will it wind up costing us our freedom? We shall see what the Supreme Court says.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Intellectual Low For The Left

And, given what we've seen the last few years, that takes some doing: The New Culture War

To the extent that this new culture war resembles the old one, it is in the reversal of roles--it is the right that is now largely defined by an identity politics which perceives persecution, and possible extinction, for a culturally constructed usually white, conservative, "real American." This isn't just about Obama or his agenda, which borrows heavily from earlier conservative ideas, it's also a response to anxiety over economic insecurity and fear of ideological annihilation through demographic change. Hence the burgeoning Islamophobia and calls to repeal birthright citizenship.

Oh, good Lord. For the love of all that is holy, these people need to get the hell out of Washington DC or New York once in awhile. Out here in flyover country no one is worried about "ideological annihilation through demographic change." We are worried about trying to find a job, or worried that the job we have will go away in the not too distant future.

For some reason these supposedly rational journalists are flummoxed that two years worth of 9+% unemployment has bred disillusionment with the President and the Democratic party as a whole among a lot of people. They are confused because they still see Obama in near messianic terms:

I think a large part of what appealed to liberals about Obama was his ability to acknowledge discrete strands of American culture as equally legitimate. His fundamental task in the 2008 election, with the wind at his back, was to persuade the American people that he was one of them-- his failure to do so would be the only thing to bring defeat.

Gee, was Obama "acknowledging discrete strands" when he complained about American "clinging" to religion and guns? I'm sorry but that isn't acknowledgement, unless we want to call his contempt for millions of Americans some form of achievement. Can someone name me one thing Obama has done for a group not considered a part of his core constituency.

It's pathetic really. Here you have a mainstream publication on politics that can do no better than have a writer repeat liberal shibboleths without a shred of self awareness or critical questioning.

What I wouldn't give for a new Walter Lippmman to arise. Unfortunately, his current heirs are, shall we say, uninspiring.

Or maybe they just aren't that bright.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Re: The Whole "Obama's A Muslim" Thing

If anyone is wondering why I'mnot chiming in on this, it is because I dealt with the substance of this years ago: Bare Minimum Christianity

So, what kind of judgements can we draw about Rev. Wright and his church built upon the "black liberation theology" of James Cone? For starters, it doesn't seem to be a particularly Christian church. By that, I mean its motivating principles seem to derive less from the life and teaching of Jesus Christ than they do from the writings of Vladimir Lenin and Mao Tse-tung. The language of Wright's church is not that of grace and the love of God for his children on Earth. Instead, a vision of a politicized church built upon a rather clumsy and simplistic transposition of Lenin's essay on "Imperialism" (itself not a model of intellectual brilliance) is put forward in place of the Christian gospel. Where Lenin railed against the exploitation of the un-industrialized nations by the industrialized nations in a statist version of the Marxist idea of class struggle, Wright/Cone offer a vision of racial exploitation that can only be overcome by the "destruction" of the criminal race (i.e. whites.)

If this is what this perspective is politically, what can we say about it as a religion? From a religious perspective the question becomes what sort of claim such a view could have to being called "Christian" at all. (This is assuming that something being "Christian" is not merely a question of self-identification. For example, whatever variation there might be in the definition of "Vegan," you cannot legitimately claim to be a Vegan if you wear leather and eat veal four times a week.)

In my opinion, it seems unlikely that the political goals advocated by the Wright/Cone ideology can be squared with the bare minimum requirements of religious Christianity. In fact, the Wright/Cone vision requires the direct repudiation of the teachings of Christ. For example, whatever Christianity is it must allow for "Christians" of any race or ethnicity. For Wright/Cone only blacks can be "true" Christians. Christianity has always been built around the idea that Jesus Christ came not as a political revolutionary promising liberation for a specific people only, as many messianic Jews had been expecting for generations, but was instead sent for all mankind. But for Wright/Cone the only legitimate work of God is for the benefit of blacks and blacks alone. Such a view represents not just an "unusual interpretation" of Christianity, but a direct repudiation of it....

For the non-Christian all of this must seem like much ado about nothing. But even an ardent agnostic can legitimately look at the dodgy political ideology masquerading as religious belief in Barrack Obama's church and ask probing questions about it. If we are not allowed to ask the difficult questions including those touching upon the intersection of faith and politics, in a mistaken belief that it is "bad form," how can we ever know what Obama believes about anything?

The results of the various polls on Obama's faith (e.g. less than 50% of Democrats believe he is a Christian) should't come as a surprise to anyone who has thought about it.

Most people haven't thought about it I guess.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Very Definition Of "Trying Too Hard"

From Politico: Primary night yields good news for President Obama and Democrats

President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, who have been starved for good news through much of 2010, finally received a generous helping Tuesday night....

The headline victory belonged to Sen. Michael Bennet, the Colorado Democrat who, with extensive help from Obama and the party establishment in Washington, galloped to a surprisingly wide 9-point victory over challenger Andrew Romanoff. A former state House speaker, Romanoff once looked well-positioned to rally liberal discontent and give the White House a very visible black eye.

So, a Democratic incumbent won his primary. I think the phrase I'm looking for is "big whoop." Incumbents who choose to run win at a better than 90% clip anyway, regardless of how things are looking for the general election.

Trying to spin this yawn-worthy event into a political boon for the President is a new laughable low, even for this compliant media.