Friday, July 29, 2011

House Democrats Are The New Patty Hearst?

I don't blame all liberals as it seems only liberal "journalists" are actually this stupid: The tea party's terrorist tactics

It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House “hostage takers.” But they have now become full-blown terrorists.

They have joined the villains of American history who have been sufficiently craven to inflict massive harm on innocent victims to achieve their political goals. A strong America has always stood firm in the face of terrorism. That tradition is in jeopardy, as Congress and President Barack careen toward an uncertain outcome in the tea party- manufactured debt crisis.

As we stumble closer to Aug. 2, it has become clear that many in the tea party are willing to inflict massive harm on the American people to obtain their political objective of a severely shrunken federal government. Their persistence in rejecting compromise, even as the economic effects of the phony crisis they have created mount, has taken their radicalism beyond tough negotiating, beyond even hostage-taking.

Got that? Tea party types not voting for Boehner's plan equals terrorism bent on destroying the nation.

What about Demcorats not voting for Boehner's plan? If Dems in the House were to vote for the Boehner plan it would pass in the House even if the tea party caucus continued to oppose it. House Democrats were they to join with the Republicans Boehner has on board clearly have the votes to get it passed, yet they refuse to do so. They have even gone as far as to brag that "No Democrats will vote for it."

The funny thing is no journalist is calling them terrorists for not voting for the Boehner plan. No one is calling them ideological for not compromising. Plus, the upshot of House Dems not budging an inch is making Boehner throw in useless crap like a "balance budget amendment" in an effort to appease the tea partiers which does absolutely nothing to move the process forward in the long run as Democrats, last time I checked, still controlled the Senate and the White House.

The reality is "tea party Republicans" cannot do anything unless the Democrats go along with them, which is exactly what they are doing.

Not acknowledging this fact isn't responsible journalism. It is hackery of the most cynical and intellectually dishonest kind.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Not So Beautiful Mind

In the aftermath of the Oslo atrocities the usual braying from conservative bashers was to be expected. After all, the chance to score political points in this country usually trumps everything else, up to and including common human decency. Still if one bothered to look at the "manifesto" published online by Anders Breivik (or even a selection of "highlights") one could get a feel for the perpetrator of these heinous acts of barbarism.

My take, for the outset, was that this man was completely delusional.

Here is a snippet:

Q: Why haven’t we heard anything about PCCTS, Knights Templar before, considering the fact that the organization was formed in 2002?

A: That’s a good question. I am surprised why EU countries haven’t labeled our organization yet. Perhaps it is politically motivated psychological warfare, who knows? First of all, I only met 4 out of the 9 original founding members due to security precautions and I only know the identity of 5 of them (4 of them know my identity). There might be tens, even hundreds of Justiciar Knights now spread all across Western Europe as far as I know. I haven’t heard anything from the media about PCCTS, Knights Templar operations before either which indicates the following; either some of the original cells have not activated yet, which is not very likely considering the fact that the military order was formed more than 8 years ago. Or a couple of the cells may have perished or have been arrested in the planning phase before they even activated. Or perhaps they did activate and went through with their operation but did not manage to penetrate media censorship. A successful operation might have been labeled as an “accident” or otherwise censored by the media/regime. Perhaps a couple of them simply didn’t want to proceed alone or in a party with 1-2 other individuals but needed or wanted the support from a larger traditional hierarchy and joined another organisation instead. A few might have gotten cold feet and went about their usual business and abandoned our struggle and campaign altogether. It is really hard to tell.

For myself, it was hard to read this and not think we are dealing with a situation such as was depicted in the film A Beautiful Mind about the real life struggles of mathematician John Nash. As depicted in the film Dr. Nash in the grips of a terrible mental disorder begins to believe he is part of a secret code breaking operation bent upon unmasking dangerous agents communicating by code in newspapers and magazines. In order to flesh out his "world" Nash's diseased mind invents enemies and friends to populate it.

It seemed pretty obvious reading Breivik's ravings about "Knight Templars" and the like, that we were dealing with something similar here. Breivik seems to actually believe he went to London to be part of a meeting of a new Templar order hellbent on reviving anti-muslim crusades throughout Europe. It also is becoming increasingly clear it was all in his fevered imagination:

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 76 people in a bombing and youth camp massacre appears to be a lone-wolf sociopath who kept his plans to himself for more than a decade, a top security official said Thursday.

"It's a unique case. It's unique person. He is total evil," Janne Kristiansen, the director of the Norwegian Police Security Service told The Associated Press.

Anders Behring Breivik claims he carried out the July 22 attacks as part of a network of modern-day crusaders plotting a revolution against a multicultural Europe, and that there are other cells ready to strike.

But investigators have found no signs — before or after the attacks — of a larger conspiracy, though it's too early to rule it out completely, Kristiansen said.

"On the information we have so far, and I emphasize so far, we have no indication that he was part of a network or had any accomplices, or that there are other cells," Kristiansen told AP.

She said Breivik doesn't appear to have shared his plot with anyone, and lived a lawful and moderate life before carrying out the attacks with "total precision."

Breivik has admitted that he set off a car bomb in the government district of Oslo, killing at least eight people, then drove several miles (kilometers) northwest of the Norwegian capital to an island where the youth wing of the ruling Labor Party was holding its annual summer camp. He arrived at Utoya island posing as a police officer, then opened fire on scores of unsuspecting youth, executing them one after the other as they tried to flee into the water. Sixty-eight people died, many of them teenagers.

Kristiansen said that Breivik's case presents a new challenge for security services, different from a "solo terrorist" who receives training and instructions from a terror network and is then left to pick out a target and attack it on his own. Breivik appears to be a true lone wolf, who conceived and executed his plot without help or coordination from anyone.

"This is a totally different challenge," Kristiansen said. "This is all in his mind."

Judging by a manifesto he released just before the attacks, he started "preparing himself to do something big, shocking and spectacular" some 10-12 years ago, she said.

Breivik's lunacy, then, could predate even the 9/11 attacks.

Yet, still the moral degenerates among us will want to use Breivik's madness to their own advantage, which in itself is a form of evil difficult to fathom.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another Fine Whine

US eco-activist jailed for two years

An activist who became a hero to campaigners for disrupting a Bush administration auction for the oil and gas industry with $1.8m (£1.1m) in bogus bids was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday....

At a vigil outside the Salt Lake City courtroom where sentencing took place, supporters of DeChristopher's Peaceful Uprising civil disobedience movement shouted: "Justice is not found here."

As Bidder No 70, DeChristopher disrupted what was seen as a last giveaway to the oil and gas industry by the Bush administration by bidding $1.8m (£1.1m) he did not have for the right to drill in remote areas of Utah. He was convicted of defrauding the government last March.

Leftie blogs are outraged, OUTRAGED I SAY!, to discover the law applies to them. In fact, they claim, its all a corporatist plot!

Are you kidding me? If we ever saw an even playing field in the American justice system, perhaps, but it rarely works out that way. If you are part of the privileged corporate elite you can get away with anything, but not as an individual. Halliburton defrauding the US government of millions in Iraq? Slap on the wrist. Wall Street defrauding customers and driving the country and world into recession? No dessert tonight and do better next time. Environmental activist protests Bush land giveaway to Big Oil? Go to jail for two years.

So the crime by statute can lead up to a 10 year sentence and a $750,000 fine...and this nitwit gets 2 years (of which he will serve what, 10 months maybe) and a $10,000 fine and its the end of western jurisprudence.

If you cant do the time....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Here Come The Food Nazis (Again)

Achtung! You must eatz your peas for de fatherland! Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables

WHAT will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)

Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.

So the fuck what? The whole point of a liberal democratic society is that people have the right to decide for themselves what the good is, no matter what some pencil dicked "expert" says on the matter.

There is no compelling state interest, at least in a liberal democratic society, in maximizing the longevity of every single individual. NONE. Now, a fascist society, on the other hand, does make a claim such as the writer in the New York Times does. In a fascist society the state is paramount, so if the state deems you have a duty to eat your peas, or make little blonde haired blue eyed babies, or not be Jewish, etc. then the state can demand it.

Gee, I though we fought a Second World War so we didn't have to listen to such dipshits.

For myself, I'm gonna stick with John Stuart Mill.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cheap Moralizing (UPDATED)

I suppose it is a sign of the times, but I really dislike things like the following on the normally reliable American Future: Shame on the House Republicans

A few days ago, the Economist reported on the rapid growth in the number of Americans on food stamps. Participation in the food stamp program has soared since the recession began. By this April, 45 million Americans were dependent on the government for their daily bread. The program’s cost almost doubled between 2008 ($35 billion) and 2010 ($65 billion). Last year, then, each American contributed about $200 to the program. That’s right — $200, or about 55 cents per day.

This trivial amount is too much for Republicans....

More and more people are or will soon be receiving their last unemployment checks. More and more people will need food stamps. How, in the name of our common humanity, can the House Republicans propose gutting the program? Are they the descendents of those who, during the Great Depression, believed that the poor had only themselves to blame for their plight, and that the provision of government assistance would undermine their morals and their willingness to work?

Appalling. It’s cruel and unusual punishment. Send them to the poor house. Let them eat cake.

Baloney. In 2008 we were spending roughly $6.03bn per percentage point of unemployment on food stamps programs. In 2010 we spent roughly $6.77bn per percentage point. Assuming an unemployment rate around 8% (which is EXACTLY the type of thing budget projections do), this would mean Republicans are suggesting spending $6.4bn per percentage point on food stamp programs. How this is an example of "gutting" a program or how this makes Republicans moral degenerates is beyond me, particularly since the 2015 budget will affect those currently running short on unemployment benefits not at all.

Of course, if unemployment is still close to 10% three or four years from now this could be inadequate. But guess what? It could be adjusted. (Congress voting to spend more money in the face of actual conditions? That must be crazy talk!)

Enough of the bogeymen, please.


I want to emphasize something here. Yes, I've taken this post to task, but American Future should be on everyone's reading list. Marc is an old friend of this blog from its earliest days, and I couldn't be happier that American Future is back after a couple years away.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bye Bye Anonymous?

It seems an international effort is ongoing to deal with the cyber-brownshirts that call themselves "Anonymous": 14 arrested for alleged cyberattack on PayPal’s website in show of support for WikiLeaks

Fourteen people were arrested Tuesday for allegedly mounting a cyberattack on the website of PayPal in retaliation for its suspending the accounts of WikiLeaks.

Separately, FBI agents executed more than 35 search warrants around the country in an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyberattacks against major companies and organizations.

As part of the effort, there were two arrests in the United States unrelated to the attack on the PayPal payment service. Overseas, one person was arrested by Scotland Yard in Britain, and there were four arrests by the Dutch National Police Agency, all for alleged cybercrimes....

The cyberattacks on PayPal’s website by the group called Anonymous followed the release by WikiLeaks in November of thousands of classified State Department cables.

Anonymous is a loosely organized group of hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks. It has claimed responsibility for attacks against corporate and government websites worldwide.

The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

A federal indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., says that Anonymous referred to the cyberattacks on PayPal as “Operation Avenge Assange.”

The 14 charged in the PayPal attack were arrested in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. They ranged in age from 20 to 42. The name and age of one of the 14 was withheld by the court.

I hope the Feds throw the book at them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Look Out Below!

It's far too hot and humid here for my liking, but it could get worse: Heat wave could trigger “pavement explosions”

Among the adventures in extreme physics brought on by the white-hot temperatures is the potential for “pavement explosions,” which can happen when when moisture cannot escape through non-porous cement, causing it to blow.

As of Monday morning, Des Moines Public Works Director Bill Stowe said no pavement explosions have been discovered.

“I suspect by tomorrow, I won’t be able to answer that way,” he said. “. . .I’m surprised that we haven’t seen it yet.”

Extreme temperatures alone do not cause the problem, Stowe said, but the heat currently bearing down on the metro area is one of the key triggers. Steam pressure from trapped moisture and some kind of weakness in the pavement are the others.

Just to be safe I'm gonna stay inside and drink ice cold beer.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Undercounting Hurricanes Revisited

Some four years ago I posted a study I had made on the likely undercounting of tropical storms in the historical best track data. Using very rudimentary tools and good ol' fashioned logic I reached the following conclusion:

It seems very probable the Mid-Atlantic storm counts are undercounted in some fashion. It is a trickier question to determine the degree of undercounting. However, if we take the rates of Mid-Atlantic storms found during the satellite era (see Figure 2 above) and apply them to the pre-satellite era the results are startling. Broken down by decade, the percentage of Mid-Atlantic storms to all storms in the satellite era looks like:

1967-1976: 17.20%
1977-1986: 14.44%
1987-1996: 24.53%
1997-2006: 21.23%

and for the entire period:

1967-2006: 19.77%

If we look at the minimum (14.44%) and maximum (24.53%) values as defining a range for the pre-satellite number (which today sits at 40 Mid-Atlantic storms out of 495 total storms, or 8.08%,) we are left with a range of an additional 1.28 to 2.46 storms per year. That would mean a difference for the sixty year period [ed. 1907-1967] of plus 77 to 148 storms.

Recently a new study has come out looking at the same issues, though using a much more sophisticated method of estimating the undercounts. Here is their chart for the adjusted data account for the probable missing storms:

As can be seen these results match up with my own to a remarkable degree. If mine were a little larger it must be remembered the range I gave was for all tropical storms while this chart is only looking at hurricanes. In fact, their adjustment is more than the one I suggested.

Still this kind of confirmation is nice to see.

Monday, July 04, 2011

E.J. Dionne: Lightweight

It is a sad commentary on the intellectual merits of pundit journalism today (or the lack thereof) that in a piece designed to show how stupid we all are for not understanding the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne expresses his belief that the terms "national government" and "federal system of government" are synonymous.

If this is the best our "betters" have to offer we are doomed.

Feel free to read the whole thing if shallow (a)historical analogy, deficient understanding of political theory, and a thorough lack of comprehension are your sort of thing.