U.S. troops have been mystified at how differently the war they fight in Iraq is portrayed by the U.S. media back home. Most just shrug it off as "politics," and yet another reason to not trust what the mass media presents as reliable reporting. But recently, the troops have been passing around an interesting discovery. Namely, that the Japanese psychological warfare effort during World War II included radio broadcasts that could be picked up by American troops. Popular music was played, but the commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered away on the same points;
1 Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to you.
2 This war is illegal.
3 You cannot win the war.
The troops are perplexed and somewhat amused that their own media is now sending out this message. Fighting the enemy in Iraq is simple, compared to figuring out what news editors are thinking back home. A few times, the mass media has been bold, or foolish, enough to confront the troops about this divergence of perceptions. The result is usually a surreal exchange, with the troops giving the journalist a "what planet are YOU from" look. Naturally, this sort of thing doesn't get much exposure. When pressed, a journalist or editor will dismiss the opinions of the troops (of all ranks), because they are "too close" to see "the big picture." For the same reason, reporters who send back material agreeing with the troops, find their stuff twisted into an acceptable shape, or not used at all. Historians will have a good time with all this.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Bob at Confederate Yankee has discovered that the AP is up to it's old tricks. This time it was in a report about 20 beheaded bodies found 14 miles southeast of Baghdad. Sounds gruesome right? Kinda like people dragged out of a mosque and set on fire....
And just like the Jamil Hussein story, when you first read it your first instinct is to gasp in horror. Then you read on about who supplied the information to those straight shooting and completely honest AP reporters:...One of the police officers is based in Baghdad and the other in Kut, 100 miles southeast of the capital. The Baghdad officer said he learned of the discovery because Iraq's Interior Ministry, where he works, sent troops to the village to investigate. The Kut officer said he first heard the report through residents of the Salman Pak area.
100 miles from Baghdad? Huh? And the Baghdad officer heard of it from reports that came in from Iraqi troops sent there through the MoI....Sound a bit familiar?Jamil Hussein worked in a specific area of Baghdad, a very large urban city, but reported on incidents throughout the region, incidents many miles away and areas covered by other police stations, but still...the AP bought it hook, line and sinker. It fit with their views of the Iraq war so how could it not be true.Now we have a story about 20 beheaded bodies written with not one eyewitness but based on 3rd and 4th hand accounts of people who know people who know people who went to the scene.And this is the kind of reporting the MSM expects us to accept nowadays?
Michael Fumento comments:
Do you recall in my Weekly Standard article on Afghanistan where I said that one of the AP reporters I was quartered with said he thought 9/11 was a hoax? And he was no stringer; he worked directly for the agency. When you hire people like THAT you get stories like THIS.
It is sometimes forgotten that freedom of expression was an afterthought to the Constitution, and that freedom of the press, of religion, and of assembly were only guaranteed later under the First Amendment. The reason these freedoms (religion excepted) are so easily abrogated these days is that they don't really mean that much to ordinary citizens. They were designed for artists, journalists, writers, dissidents, radicals, and other such atypical Americans.
I call bullshit. First of all the First Amendment refers to the freedom of speech, press and assembly. “Expression” is not found there. That was placed there as an outlier, designed to keep us off the slippery slope of inhibiting political speech.
Freedom of speech was not designed to empower artists, writers and the willfully obnoxious cranks. It was designed to insure that ordinary people – everybody - could express themselves especially in regards to their government.
Well, as we have said, the slippery slope has been bypassed and thanks to McCain Feingold, we have freedom to express ourselves in many ways except around election time when we are prohibited from getting together and criticizing our elected lords and ladies.
So it is no wonder that TNR’s writers should believe that the First Amendment is primarily about keeping lap dancers and artists who dunk crucifixes in urine out of jail. It is, after all, the way the courts have interpreted these precious freedoms.
A comment by Powerline:
The Democrats have handed conservatives a golden issue by attempting to bring down talk radio. Congressman Mike Pence offered an amendment to the FCC act today that would bar any use of funds for the re-establishment of the "fairness doctrine," whereby the government would be empowered to dictate the political content of talk radio and broadcast television. (This would obviously be unconstitutional.) This morning, I attended a press conference put on by Pence and the co-sponsors of his amendment, including Minnesota's Michele Bachmann. It was a fun event. It is hard to imagine how the Democrats could give Republicans a better issue than their effort to put talk radio out of business. The Pence Amendment passed this afternoon, but, somewhat surprisingly, 115 Democrats--most of the Democrats present--voted against it. So we'll be able to abuse the Dems on their opposition to free speech for some time to come.
Jonah Goldberg has some excellent commentary on this subject.
...let me state plainly where I’m coming from. First and foremost: The more overtly political the speech is, the more protected it must be. The First Amendment was not intended to protect pornographers, strippers or the subsidies of avant-garde artistes who think the state should help defray the costs of homoerotica and sacrilegious art. This isn’t to say that “artistic” expression doesn’t deserve some protection, but come on. Our free-speech rights were enshrined in the Constitution to guarantee private citizens — rich and poor alike — the right to criticize government without fear of retribution. ...
For a long time, we concluded the best way to protect political speech was to defend other forms of expression — commercial, artistic, and just plain wacky — so as to make sure that our core right to political speech was kept safe. Like establishing outposts in hostile territory, we safeguarded the outer boundaries of acceptable expression to keep the more important home fire of political speech burning freely. That’s why in the 1960s and 1970s, all sorts of stuff — pornography, strip clubs, etc, — was deregulated by the Supreme Court on the grounds that this was now legitimate “expression” of some sort. ...
Still, such buffoonery would be pardonable if the grand bargain of defending marginal speech so as to better fortify the protective cocoon around sacrosanct political speech were still in effect. But that bargain fell apart almost from the get-go. At the same moment we were letting our freak flags fly when it came to unimportant speech, we started turning the screws on political speech. After Watergate, campaign-finance laws started restricting what independent political groups could say and when they could say it, culminating in the McCain-Feingold law that barred “outside” criticism of politicians when it would matter most — i.e., around an election.
And that’s why we live in a world where cutting NEA grants is called censorship, a student’s “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” sign is hailed as vital political speech, and a group of citizens asking fellow citizens to petition their elected representatives to change their minds is supposedly guilty of illegal speech.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
From Powerline:One poster writes:
You gotta love the clarity of CJ Roberts. Here’s the sound bite quote from the majority opinion:
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
ONE MORE: Another quote, this time from Justice Thomas:
Great line from Justice Thomas is worth noting (also nuking Breyer’s opinion): “Indeed, if our history has taught us anything, it has taught us to beware of elites bearing racial theories.” (comparing Breyer’s positions with those of the segregationists in Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown, and citing Dred Scott to boot). Ouch.
That's a revolutionary idea. I mean, seriously.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Lest you think that the U.S. court system has made humanitarian considerations its first priority, as evidenced by the recent court ruling to release from military custody Ali Saleh al Marri — an al-Qaeda sleeper agent who was trained in Osama bin Laden’s training camps — one need look no further than to the equally recent court decision to deport Sameh Khouzam, a Copt who (like many before him) fled the notorious religious persecution and torture chambers of Egypt nine years ago to seek asylum in the U.S., only to find that the legal system that is humane enough to release al Marri, a man whose sole purpose for being in the U.S. was to kill Americans, plans on sending him, Khouzam, back to Egypt where he faces certain torture, if not death. “It’s particularly outrageous when the record is replete with evidence that he [Khouzam] has been repeatedly tortured,” per one ACLU lawyer.
Read the rest.
Tony Snow sighed and entered the Oval Office. "You know, conservatives are actually kinda scary when you're on their firing end. I hate asking again, but I don't quite understand why you're so averse to securing the border and why you want to grant amnesty to illegals so bad."
President Bush motioned to Tony to close the door and come closer. He then whispered, "I never told anyone this, but I'm secretly an illegal Mexican."
"Um... I don't think so, Mr. President; I know your parents."
Bush shook his head. "They told me they found me as a baby in a well in Mexico."
"You sure they weren't joking?"
Read the whole thing.
"Supporters of this [Immigration/Amnesty] bill sell it as a compromise that will heal America’s divisions. I fear it’s quite the reverse. This bill is infuriating the public and undermining faith in government itself. You can see it in the polling on confidence in Congress and the President. If this bill passes, it’s going to aggravate and embitter politics for years to come. Passing a measure over such overwhelming opposition is like slapping the public in the face."
And at Riehl World View:
Democrats aren't an option for me, neither is Bloomberg, but I sense a serious protest vote, or lack of any vote in my future. At the risk of being politically incorrect, is it really worth voting in an election when D stands for Dumb-ass and R stands for retarded? Perhaps not. I could always do something constructive like go fishing on election day. I can't think of a time when I have been more disenchanted with America's political class and that is saying something, as I basically distrust them to start.
Michelle Malkin does a grand job job rounding up.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, is a brilliantly executed film work that approaches a difficult subject with an open mind, and delivers its facts with a surprising evenhandedness and absence of bias.
Fine. I lied. If he can do it, so can I.
Still, I have to admit that watching Sicko was an eye-opening experience. Here's just a few of the amazing things I learned:*There is an acute shortage of human blood in US hospitals, because federal regulations require hospital administrators to drink it in celebration after every denial of treatment to the uninsured.
* Cuba has the best health care system in the world, since it provides a skilled physician from Spain to examine every Cuban President in the country.
I did not learn any of these on tonight's PBS revew of this film. There I learned that it would create dialog.
The whole Kyoto “treaty” was designed to pusnish and hamstring America. It has nothing to do with actually helping reduce “greenhouse gasses” at all. Plus, in the words of John Hawkins:
China doesn’t care what a bunch of Earth hippies think about anything and they’re barely even willing to go through the motions to pretend like they do. So, whining about them will tend to be distinctly unsatisfying.
(D) U.S. News & World Report, Amanda Spake, senior writer, $250 to John Kerry in August 2004. Spake covered public health issues and policy. Now a freelance writer, she is on a fellowship from George Soros' The Open Society Institute to study the health effects of Hurricane Katrina.
"I went to a luncheon for Kerry," Spake said. "I had friends who were organizing that luncheon, and I felt I had to do it."
As for any conflict of interest, she said, "I never covered politics. I covered public health. It did not impact my coverage one bit."
The responses by these reporters to being asked about their contributions are very similar:
- My spouse gave and my name was on the check
- I gave to a dear friend
- I went to an event and made a contribution because it was expected
Let's face it, the issue is not the appearance of a conflict of interest. It is apparent that if you give to Left wing causes, you will view that side of the political divide more sympathetically.
To me this is simply validation of the bias that exists in the media. I agree with Newsday writer Rita Hall who stated:
My view is: You're still going to have an opinion whether you admit to it or not. If you don't admit to it, you're being dishonest. Let's be transparent."
I should hasten to add that I find her political views repugnant.
The bottom line is that companies, even media companies, should not have policies that forbid employees from making political contributions. I like the transparency of being able to see what a person's political views are, and political contributions are a proxy for those views.
At the Muskegon Chronicle, a daily newspaper in Michigan, reporter Terry Judd gave $1,900 to the Democratic National Committee in six contributions from 2004 through 2006; and $2,000 to Kerry in March 2004. "You caught me," Judd said. "I guess I was just doing it on the side."
His editors said they're not sure there is an "on the side."
"This information makes us want to think farther and more deeply about what we encourage and discourage in reporters," said the metropolitan editor, John Stephenson. "We have always historically said, you guys can have any political beliefs you want. Just don't wear your hearts on your sleeve or your bumper.
And there is the problem. The editor is not bothered by the fact that one of his reporters clearly has a bias. He is bothered that this bias is exposed as the result of the publicity he is receiving.
If I were the editor, I would want to know if my reporters tilted 9 to 1 for the Left. Why? Because the country does not tilt that way and the people who put out the daily product are not in tune with their customers.
And that means that the paper's customers are wondering why the Muskegon Chronicle is emphasizing the Right's sins while downplaying the Left's.
And dissatisfied customers are getting the product that you are trying to sell from the competition: talk radio, Fox News, the Internet. It's an industry trend that is now all over the internet, in trade publicantions and the financial press if not the daily paper for the "masses."
And it's not an issue of the emphasis of a specific story, although those are easiest to spot. It's the reportorial and editorial decision as to what to write about and what to omit. There is no enough room in the daily paper to write about everything that happens so decision have to be made about what is important and what is not. Newspapers decided the Valerie Plame's identity was important and were the driving force behind the Special Prosecutor and "Scooter" Libby's conviction. They decide that "Sandy" Burger's theft of classified documents was not important so his wrist slap was not denounced and questions were not raised about why he decided to give up his law license rather than answer questions about the theft and destruction of secret government records having to do with the Clinton administration's reaction to terrorist attacks and Osama Bi Laden.
Bias? From my side of the ideological divide it certainly seems that way. If you are a Democrat and favored the Clintons you would consider these issues unimportant, and choose not to pursue them. If there was ideological diversity in the media, there is a high degree of likelihood that both stories would have been pursued with equal fervor.
In fact, to show my ideological bias, I would have stopped the investigation into the Plame affair after I discovered that Richard Armitage was the leaker and charged Armitage if the leak was criminal.
Jonah Goldberg has it right when he says
"Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributors, readers might actually find out that reporters take sides, and the best proof is that they put their money where their mouths are."
More Goldberg on newsrooms that forbit or discourage contributions:
Okay, so with this flat-out bans at many organizations and serious discouragement at many others, the ratio of journalist giving is still nine-to-one in favor of Democrats! Does any non-crack-smoking psychopath or moperer think that if CNN, NPR and the New York Times easer their policies that the ratio would even out? Would the Washington Post's ban-lifting suddenly cause huge amounts of shmundo to fall into RNC coffers?
My guess is that if you took away the restrictions and the social pressure, that number would at least triple.
More Goldberg HERE, and HERE.
From Captain's Quarters:
Unfortunately, the reaction of these media outlets tends towards cover-up rather than openness. In that sense, they take a page from modern campaign-finance reform by trying to solve a problem through top-down suppression of political action rather than just opting for full disclosure. As my friend Paul Mirengoff notes, demanding an end to political donations does nothing to establish balance or objectivity; it just hides the evidence of bias a little more effectively. It hides information from the news consumers that could give them a more informed basis on which to judge the product.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
How is the BBC’s attempt to overcome its stupid liberalism going? Not so well:Politicians reacted in disbelief to the revelation that for over two hours yesterday, the BBC News website carried a request for people in Iraq to report on troop movements.
The request was removed from the website after it sparked furious protests that the corporation was endangering the lives of British servicemen and women.
According to accounts last night, a story on a major operation by US and Iraqi troops against al-Qa’eda somewhere north of Baghdad contained an extraordinary request for information about the movement of troops.
Last night the BBC confirmed the wording of the request was: “Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below."
The article continues: “A spokesman was unable to offer a detailed explanation of why anyone at the BBC should be seeking such information.” I can think of a few reasons.
The American Thinker has an excellent summary of the case and reasons for dismissal of the charges.
R. TIMOTHY PATTERSON, Financial Post
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change.
Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.
Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.
Meantime, we need to continue research into this, the most complex field of science ever tackled, and immediately halt wasted expenditures on the King Canute-like task of "stopping climate change
There is nothing so dangerous as a Southern liberal hoping to be invited to a Graydon Carter party.
As is now well-known, Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong falsely accused three white Duke lacrosse players of gang-raping a stripper, even as evidence piled up proving it never happened. In the weeks after an unstable stripper — or, since this is not a Hollywood movie, "a stripper" — accused the players of rape, Nifong stated on national TV: "I am convinced that there was a rape." He called the players "hooligans," contemptuously sneering that their "daddies could buy them expensive lawyers."
Envy is an emotion well-known for producing model behavior.
Revealing his own motives, Nifong said defense attorneys for the non-indicted players "were almost disappointed that their clients didn't get indicted so they could be a part of this spectacle here in Durham." Hello, Vanity Fair? Did you see where I talked about their "daddies"?
The Arianna Huffington of the legal profession might still have made his star turn at a Vanity Fair party, but for the fortuity of the defense lawyers discovering that he had tried to hide DNA evidence from the defendants, revealing that the stripper, Crystal Gail Mangum, had the DNA of four different men in or on her person, including the driver who took her to stripping gigs and enough other men to bring a class-action suit against her.
None of the DNA matched any Duke lacrosse players, who are starting to look like the only adult males in the Durham area who haven't had sex with Mangum.
From Ann Coulter. Read the rest.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Once again, eet ees ze time of Listening to ze Generals!
We can nevair keep zis straight, you see. Zis business of ze listening, eet is of ze most tiresome, n'est pas?
All ze time avec le "Attendez-vous! N'attend pas! ... do we listen or don't we? Et bien.
Today, we listen:
Taguba wrote in his report of "[n]umerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse." But he wasn't allowed to trace the behavior to its root cause.
Writes Hersh: "'From what I knew, troops just don't take it upon themselves to initiate what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups,' Taguba told me. His orders were clear, however: he was to investigate only the military police at Abu Ghraib, and not those above them in the chain of command. 'These M.P. troops were not that creative,' he said. 'Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box.'"
But surely here is a confusion? Did not General Taguba testify to Congress that he believed these men acted on their own volition? Would thees not be... how do you say... the lying which is wrong/bad? This is a great confusion. Was he lying then, or now? How are we to know?
A question I pose to atheists and others who argue that religion is irrelevant to moral behavior has been cited by Christopher Hitchens in his national best seller, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." And Hitchens's citation has been widely quoted -- from the New Yorker to the website of the Oxford evolutionist and best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins.
[...Hitchins: "I was to imagine that I saw a large group of men approaching. Now -- would I feel safer, or less safe, if I was to learn that they were just coming from a prayer meeting?" Invoking an image of rampaging Muslims]
As it happens, Hitchens did not relate my question entirely accurately, as hundreds of thousands of my listeners can attest to, and as many written sources can attest to. I have always asked the question about 10 men in a dark alley coming out of a "Bible class." I wrote a piece for National Review in 1999 in which I posed this question and wrote "Bible class," not "prayer meeting." And Father Richard Neuhaus, in his journal, First Things, quoted me asking this question about men leaving a "Bible class" in 1992. (I have always posed this question to Americans and therefore assumed the question related only to America, but I did not specify 'America' in my question to Hitchens as I did "Bible class.")
A Pakistani minister says Muslims would be right to launch suicide attacks over the Queen's decision to award Salman Rushdie a knighthood. Religious Affairs Minister Mohammed Ijaz ul Haq told parliament: "This is an occasion for the (world's) 1.5 billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision. The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the 'sir' title."
For a proper response read the Prisoner's Dilemma
Bill Whittle explains:
Not too long ago, just in passing, my friend Richard Riley pointed me to a famous case in game theory called The Prisoner’s Dilemma.
Now we need to really understand this, because if we do I think many of our present troubles will become clear.
Here’s how Wikipedia presents the case:
Two suspects, A and B, are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal: if one testifies for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both stay silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a two-year sentence. Each prisoner must make the choice of whether to betray the other or to remain silent. However, neither prisoner knows for sure what choice the other prisoner will make. So this dilemma poses the question: How should the prisoners act? The dilemma can be summarized thus:
Prisoner B Stays Silent Prisoner B Betrays
Prisoner A Stays Silent Each serves six months Prisoner A serves ten years
Prisoner B goes free
Prisoner A Betrays Prisoner A goes free
Prisoner B serves ten years Each serves two years
In deciding what to do in strategic situations, it is normally important to predict what others will do. This is not the case here. If you knew the other prisoner would stay silent, your best move is to betray as you then walk free instead of receiving the minor sentence. If you knew the other prisoner would betray, your best move is still to betray, as you receive a lesser sentence than by silence. Betraying is a dominant strategy. The other prisoner reasons similarly, and therefore also chooses to betray. Yet by both betraying they get a lower payoff than they would get by staying silent. So rational, self-interested play results in each prisoner being worse off than if they had stayed silent.
Okay, we can simplify this:
If I screw you, but you don’t screw me, I win very big and you lose very big.
If you screw me and I don’t screw you, I lose very big and you win very big.
If neither screws each other, we both suffer mild punishment.
If we both screw each other, we both suffer medium punishment.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma, therefore, is an analogy we use to test the results of how people treat each other.
Now, if this game is played one time, the winning strategy invariably is to Screw the Other Guy. If he doesn’t screw you, you get off free. If he does, you serve two years. But if you didn’t, and he decided to screw you – ten years. No one wants to risk that. Screw the Other Guy is the only smart position, and when the game is run thousands of times on computers it comes out the very clear winner.
But! What happens if the game is played again and again, against the same person? Does Screw the Other Guy continue to be the best strategy?
It does not!
The best strategy for a repeating game (called the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma) is not Screw The Other Guy, and -- surprisingly at first glance -- it’s not Always Cooperate With The Other Guy, either.
The winning strategy is Tit-for-Tat. That is, you do to the guy what he did to you last turn. If he cooperated, you cooperate. If he screwed you, you screw him back. Over thousands and millions of computer runs, using every strategy from complete aggression to complete forgiveness, Tit-for-Tat “wins” every time – that is, it results in the least jail time for you.
Robert Axelrod examined this outcome in a book called The Evolution of Co-operation. (That word ‘evolution’ having great power in this context, as we will see in a second.)
By analysing the top-scoring strategies, Axelrod stated several conditions necessary for a strategy to be successful.
The most important condition is that the strategy must be "nice", that is, it will not betray [Screw the Other Guy] before its opponent does. Almost all of the top-scoring strategies were nice. Therefore a purely selfish strategy for purely selfish reasons will never hit its opponent first.
However, Axelrod contended, the successful strategy must not be a blind optimist. It must always retaliate. An example of a non-retaliating strategy is Always Cooperate. This is a very bad choice, as "nasty" strategies will ruthlessly exploit such softies.
Another quality of successful strategies is that they must be forgiving. Though they will retaliate, they will once again fall back to cooperating if the opponent does not continue to play betrayals. This stops long runs of revenge and counter-revenge, maximizing points.
The last quality is being non-envious, that is not striving to score more than the opponent (impossible for a ‘nice’ strategy, i.e., a 'nice' strategy can never score more than the opponent). Therefore, Axelrod reached the Utopian-sounding conclusion that selfish individuals for their own selfish good will tend to be nice and forgiving and non-envious. [And, they will hit back when they are hit first, and keep hitting back until the opponent stops Screwing the other Guy; upon which they will revert to cooperation.]
One of the most important conclusions of Axelrod's study of the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma is that Nice guys can finish first.
Now things get really interesting. In The Prisoner’s Dilemma, these behaviors are expressed as choices made by individuals. But now substitute entire cultures, where the cultural norm is made up of these choices, and what do you see?
You find the easy, knee-jerk reaction is to form a society where everyone tries to screw everyone else. It’s the short-term approach, and it makes sense in the short term. Presumably all robbers and cheats want to maintain short-term relationships with their victims. If they had to meet them again (if the game was iterated) this strategy would be, shall we say, somewhat less successful and the victims would begin to Hit Back.
When I look out into the Third World, this is what I see: short-term strategies for immediate gain at the cost of long-term success. A swarm of trinket vendors on a beach in Mexico all need to make an immediate sale in order to eat that day, even if the cost is being so annoying and frustrating to the tourists that it prevents them from ever returning. Short term gain, long term loss.
I make no value judgment on that behavior, because it works on some level or it would not be so prevalent. In societies where short term values trump long-term ones, it is easy, safe and stable to Screw the Other Guy. But in the long-term, nothing of consequence grows, because nice, forgiving and non-envious are advanced strategies that require a topsoil of general goodwill, trust, and respect for the rule of law.
But as we see from The Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, there is an unnatural island of stability that is far more successful, and it is not simply trusting everyone and being all-cooperating all the time. That strategy is the worst, because it rewards being screwed by competing strategies that eat it for breakfast everytime. It is de-selected. It vanishes from the gene pool, so to speak. You see no society like that in the real world, and now you know why. Are you listening, Marxists? It doesn’t work.
But Tit-for-Tat combines generosity and toughness. And look at the terms used to describe the most successful strategic version of Tit-for-Tat: Nice. Retaliating. Forgiving. Non-envious.
Now, this is where my own analysis kicks in, because frankly, nice, retaliating, forgiving and non-envious pretty much sums up how I feel about the West in general and the United States in particular. The web of trust and commerce in Western societies is unthinkable in the Third World because the prosperity they produce are fat juicy targets for people raised on Screw the Other Guy. Crime and corruption are stealing, and stealing is Screwing the Other Guy. It’s short-term win, long-term loss.
Alright, now here come the brass tacks:
If you think about it, all of our laws – and indeed, the very idea of respect for and equality under the law – are written to protect Tit-for-Tat, because Tit-for-Tat produces the best results. You may sell your product at a profit, but if you lie about what it does we will call that fraud and you will go to jail because successful societies start nice but retaliate against those that decide to Screw the Other Guy. The punishment of fraud is what gives us confidence in the claims made by other products. Retaliating against Screw the Other Guy is not mean-spiritedness or a lust for revenge. It is essential to protect the confidence needed to stay focused on long-term wins. And that’s how, in theory, you build a cooperative society.
You retaliate against those that take advantage of the common trust. In other words, you punish the cheaters.
If you do not punish the cheaters, you have an “always cooperate” society that produces, consistently and rapidly, the worst possible outcome because it encourages – it selects – competing nasty strategies, by providing them with what I can only describe as a food source. Without retaliation against cheaters, cheaters thrive because that becomes the smartest strategy. There’s nothing “kind” about non-retaliation, nothing noble or good. Non-retaliation is suicide. Plain and simple.
Remember all those stimuli I mentioned before? What do they have in common?
Cheating in class (or getting a diploma without passing the required tests), cheating by crossing the border illegally, cheating by committing crimes and not paying for it, cheating by bribery and corruption, cheating in general rewards Screw the Other Guy as a social strategy and makes chumps of the people who need a level of societal trust – they need retaliation against Screw the Other Guy – in order to continue to cooperate. Society needs to retaliate against cheaters because not to do so flips the coin from cooperation to betrayal. And that’s the end of everything we have worked for and cherish.
And – and – you don’t need to be a master of game theory to know this in your bones. Because if you are offended by cheaters, it is because you are being betrayed into – you are in fact being forced into – becoming a cheater and betrayer yourself. Always-cooperating dies quickly: if you never betray and the other guy always does, he goes free and you get 20 years every time. (In other words, he’s out getting high while you work to support him.) Sooner or later, even the most dense moralist gets the message.
When a tipping point is reached – when enough people are allowed to cheat – the system swings to a different stability mode (the default mode) and Screw the Other Guy becomes the only rational choice.
The rational choice. Think about that for a moment.
Does that make you angry? It damn well better. And if it does, then you are not alone.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Journal Register Revenue Drops 9.2 Percent in May Due to Dip in Advertising Revenue
Journal Communications' May Revenue Slips 5.3 Percent As Publishing Unit Struggles [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
Afghan and coalition forces killed several militants and detained seven others during operations in Afghanistan during the past two days. Meanwhile, seven Afghan children died during a coalition air strike.
My bet for the redictable headline in the Virginian Pilot:
Seven Afghan children died during a coalition air strike.
Coalition forces killed 21 insurgents, detained 31 and wounded six others in Iraq during the past three days, military officials said. Meanwhile, troops there discovered six Iranian-made rockets.
Coalition forces killed at least 20 terrorists, wounded six others and detained a suspect during operations this morning targeting secret cells operating in the Maysan province of eastern Iraq.
The detained individual is an alleged member of the secret cell terrorist network known for transporting weapons and explosively formed penetrators -- a particularly deadly, armor-piercing form of roadside bombs -- from Iran to Iraq, military officials said. The group also is responsible for bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training
The editorial’s title showed how ridiculously ill some liberals have become, “Please, not another Cold War.”
Why not another Cold War? It cost few lives. It ended with the liberation of hundreds of millions Slavs, Ukranians, Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Germans and on and on.
The only reason anyone would not want another Cold War is because those poor souls believe the wrong side won, comrade.
The Boston Globe’s editorial board made it clear that the Boston Globe believes the wrong side won. The editorial said as much:
This is why I left the dreadful sisterhood of feminism, all she could do to break the glass ceiling was to castrate her way to the top while sucking out wombs at the bottom.
Nasty creatures those feminists, as a woman I am ashamed of what became of my gender. Gloria Steinem may have burned our bras but she left a legacy of sagging sized-DDD siliconed breasts hanging onto skeletal, anorexic bodies with botoxed stiffened faces endlessly screaming and whinning about the plight of Eve Ensler's vagina.
At 45, I am the last of the babyboomer sisterhood generation and I empathize with the reason males my age want nothing to do with women; Feminists turned us into the creepy creatures even I want to run away from.
Wow! What a comment!
Reid Bryson, known as the father of scientific climatology, considers global warming a bunch of hooey.
Read the rest.
And Professor Bob Carter is an environmental scientist at James Cook University [Australia] who studies ancient climate change. In his opinion:
Not only do humans not dominate Earth's current temperature trend but the likelihood is that further large sums of public money are shortly going to be committed to, theoretically, combat warming when cooling is the more likely short-term climatic eventuality.
And it turns out that the data that global warming advocates are getting from NOAA may bogus: thermometers placed near air conditioner vents and trash barrels may not give you data on earth's temperatures that are reliable.
Anthony Watts of Chico, Calif., suspects NOAA temperature readings are not all they're cracked up to be. As the former TV meteorologist explains on his sophisticated, newly hatched Web site surfacestations.org, he has set out to do what big-time armchair-climate modelers like Hansen and no one else has ever done - physically quality-check each weather station to see if it's being operated properly.
To assure accuracy, stations (essentially older thermometers in little four-legged wooden sheds or digital thermometers mounted on poles) should be 100 feet from buildings, not placed on hot concrete, etc. But as photos on Watts' site show, the station in Forest Grove, Ore., stands 10 feet from an air-conditioning exhaust vent. In Roseburg, Ore., it's on a rooftop near an AC unit. In Tahoe, Calif., it's next to a drum where trash is burned.
Watts, who says he's a man of facts and science, isn't jumping to any rash conclusions based on the 40-some weather stations his volunteers have checked so far. But he said Tuesday that what he's finding raises doubts about NOAA's past and current temperature reports.
It is a remarkable fact of the Duke case that the legal profession has acquitted itself with greater honor than the professoriate.
Perhaps all the lawyer jokes should be re-written into professor jokes.
"What's a bus full of professors going over a cliff? A good start."
Ah, the Nanny State! So here are few suggestions that our elected officials
should certainly be willing to go along with:
1.There shall be no use of private jets for official travel when commercial service is available; this is a purely green idea.
2.Reiumbursement for auto travel on official business for all city employees shall be based on the cost-per-mile of the highest-mileage car available on the market.
3.There shall be no reimbursement for parking at DIA, or for mileage driven to DIA; employees will be reimbursed for the cost of using public transportation to get to and from the airport
4.City government parking lots, used by city government workers, shall also set aside an increasing number of slots for hybrid and E-85 cars.
5.Since timely maintenance saves gas, all elected official shall be required to report what cars are used in their households, and to maintain on file with the city up-to-date maintenance records
6.Since driving uses less gas than idling, the city shall be required to conduct a comprehensive review of its traffic light timing, and to re-time the lights in the most
And from some comments:
7. Since high-speed driving wastes fuel and creates excess carbon emissions, any city official ticketed for speeding shall be fined twice the standard amount, and three such offenses shall result in dismissal of employees, or a fine equal to three (3) months' salary and benefits for elected officials.
8. All city vehicles except marked police patrol cars shall be the most fuel-efficient available, regardless of other considerations. City officials may maintain larger vehicles at their own expense, but see rule 2.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Epioscopalians Want to OK Same Sex Marriange So They Can Get On With Important Things Like "concern for our aboriginal brothers and sisters"
Mark Steyn dissects them like a frog in biology lab. Discussing TIME's "Action Heroes" and their agenda to solve all out ills:
..if becoming a charge of the state is the issue, then Gov. Schwarzenegger is a complete squish on California's real health crisis. His state's emergency rooms have been reduced to Quebec-level waiting times because of the strains of providing free health care to the legions of the undocumented. One third of the patients in Los Angeles County hospitals are illegal immigrants, and they've overwhelmed the system: dozens of emergency rooms in the state have closed this decade after degenerating into an unfunded de facto Mexican health care network. If you're a legal resident of California, your health system is worse than it was a decade ago and will be worse still in a decade's time. Fortunately, by then your action-hero governor will have cured "all these terrible illnesses," and there will be no need for California's last seven hospitals.
The illegal immigration question is an inrteresting test of government in action, at least when it comes to core responsibilities like defense of the nation. When critics of this "comprehensive" immigration bill demand enforcement of the borders, the administration says: Boy, you're right there! We're with you on that! We want enforcement, too. But we can't get it as long as you're holding up this "comprehensive reform."
Why not? There are immigration laws on the books right now, aren't there? Why not try enforcing them? The same people who say that government is a mighty power for good that can extinguish every cigarette butt and detoxify every cheeseburger and even change the very climate of the planet back to some Edenic state so that the water that falleth from heaven will land as ice and snow, and polar bears on distant continents will frolic as they did in days of yore, the very same people say: Building a border fence? Enforcing deportation orders? Can't be done, old boy. Pie-in-the-sky.
It's never wise to satirize the Episcopal Church. Four years ago, after the appointment of the "openly gay" Bishop of New Hampshire, Scrappleface offered the following headline:
Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop
Today The Seattle Times brings us this story:
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.
John Hindraker at Powerline notes:
This story gives us a clue as to why the Episcopal church is not exactly thriving these days.
The justice system righted itself somehow so that at the end of the day there was indeed a declaration of innocence of these three young men. But it was done with backup systems in a way that was never designed to work as the justice system should work.
It appears that Mike Nifon and the North Carolina justice systme was accustomed to getting things thier way. What was unusual in this case was that the accused were able to afford a good defense; a defense that beat the rogue prosecutor, the Duke facultay and the MSM.
In the early decades of Hollywood, when corporate greed thrived in its classic form, the studios’ main concern was to please their biggest market - honest, upright, hard-working, family-loving, patriotic Americans. That sort of “profiteering” by the movie (and later television) studios resulted in a profusion of brilliant classic movies, family shows, comedies, and dramas that explored and elevated human spirit. The customers, otherwise known as the American people, demanded shows and movies they could identify with - and “corporate greed” responded by giving the world a magnificent gallery of original and unforgettable characters who, just like their intended audiences, were honest, upright, hard-working, family-loving, and patriotic.
My, how things have changed. Based on the current Hollywood productions it’s easy to assume that today’s Americans are the most crooked, violent, dissolute, foul-mouthed, sex-crazed, drug-addicted degenerates on the planet. And many people in far-away lands do assume that, having few sources of information about this country other than Hollywood. This assumption would be true, of course, if the same forces of supply and demand were at play in Hollywood as they had been during the Golden Age. But they’re not. The product of Hollywood is no longer the projection of the American psyche.
The changes began around 1960s with a “paradigm shift” towards a “progressive” mentality among the elites who saw America as some sort of Jurassic Park in need of modernization. A significant part of the supposedly greedy Big Media was on the frontlines, selflessly fighting the campaign to swipe traditional American values into the dustbin of history - while gradually losing touch with the majority of Americans who selfishly refused to treat their traditional values as garbage. Having to choose between the consumers and the ideology, the media elites chose the ideology, denying Americans a voice in their programming. Thus the Big Media broke the first rule of capitalism. It breached its contract with the consumer. The customer became always wrong.
Congress as a whole has an approval rating of 27% which is 2 percentage point lower than President Bush’s ratings. Prior to promoting the immigration reform bill which has been called an amnesty bill, his approval rating was at 35%.
House Speaker Pelosi’s approval rating at 36% is significantly below Newt Gingrich’s approval rating of 46% after he led the Republicans to victory in 1994.
Any way you view it - from ethics reform (Congressman Jefferson and the earmark fiasco), to partisan hearings (reminding people of the contentious Clinton years), to “the war is lost and the generals are incompetent” braying of the Democrat leaders, it is hard to remember a time when a new majority has worn out its welcome so fast.
Why is that? The primary reason is that the Leftist “nutroots” have reinforced all the worst aspects of a partisan majority. Harry Reid now has to pander to the very Leftmost radicals in his coalition, and this colorless partisan hack lives in an echo chamber where insulting the troops and the generals on the ground is viewed favorably. Bob Beckel, no Conservative he, said
There’s something about Harry Reid and the left of bloggers that has gotten, there’s a marriage gone on there. I mean, frankly I think they got much too much influence over him.
When you have someone whose natural tendency is to throw bombs, and you have a rooting section that’s egging him on, you have a recipe for political disaster. And with the advent of Fox News, talk radio, and the blogosphere, the MSM can no longer cover for the congress and its leaders.
It's timer for congress to admit defeat, and pull out. Perhaps a re-deployment to Okinawa would be appropriate.
Congressional Limbo: How low can they go? Bush approval, 29%. Democrat congress? 23%. And one has to think that the only reason it is holding at that level is that Nancy Pelosi is keeping her mouth shut more often.
Currently, there are more people leaving California than moving in. Even if the numbers were roughly equal, however, the influx of Californians into the other western states would be huge. Most of the reverse-Oakies are looking for a more affordable place to live. The median house price in California is over half-a-million dollars. Others don’t care for the smog and traffic congestion. A few don’t care for the crime. And the tax rates aren’t great either. And a small but growing number, I would wager, don’t enjoy being treated like children. If you emigrate from California for this last reason, the concentration of those who prefer a collective, authoritarian approach to personal issues increases, inspiring more people who won’t put up with such behavior to exit, which leaves an even higher concentration of control freaks, and so on, until no one will want to live in the enforced paradise that California has become.
Part of the rise of the nanny state has to do with the rise of personal wealth. It takes someone with the immense personal wealth of Michael Bloomberg to desire to dictate the eating habits of the citizens he rules. These are people whose basic physical needs have been met, who own all the toys they can buy and now they are into self-actualization on a grand scale. They have discovered that when you have every material comfort, you may still not be satisfied. That’s when you take up quasi-spiritual quests (assuming you lack conventional religious faith, as many Liberals do) and decide to re-make yourself and the people around you.
These were grand experiments, tried in Europe in various forms during the 20th century. They were monstrous and they ended in tears.
It's a bike path, [Chesapeake mayor] Edge says, for "hard-core" cyclists.
Not to be too harsh on the Council, but this is what happens when you put a pile of other people’s money in front of elected officials when all the vital needs of the community have been met. The cities have been awash in revenue ever since inflation hit the housing market and the real estate tax payments flooded into city coffers.
This little escapade reminds me when I was a little boy reading a comic book about Scrooge McDuck whose vault could hold no more money. He then went on a buying spree only to find out everything he bought was made by a company he owned, re-filling his vault. Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Chesapeake, the only ones whose coffers will be filling are the building contractors building this “Bike Path to Nowhere.”
Arafat’s widow Suha has been comfortably ensconced in luxurious European digs on a pension of $100,000 monthly (paid for by the Palestinian Authority) or £12 million per year (depending on whom you believe).
So the question almost asks itself, with the Palestinian Authority involved in a civil war, is poor old Suha going to continue to receive her pension? And where will she live?
Belmont Club notes:
Sometimes humiliation isn't something other people do to you as much as something you do to yourself. This was foreshadowed by the looting of the multi-million dollar greenhouses bequeathed to the Palestinian people. It continued with the bombing of the Internet cafes, the attacks on hospitals, the burning of music stores. It goes on every time delighted gunmen fire their automatic rifles in the air and are surprised to find the bullets eventually come down and kill somebody. Every time a "militant" blows up a bridge, or a power pylon, an oil pipeline or a beautiful seaside resort, it is not a glorious event. That's just the fantasy of an over-wrought journalist. Plainly speaking, it's just another bullet in the foot.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
As I've said before, it's not that bloggers should be read and heeded because we're all so damn smart. No, not at all. Some of us are certifiable morons.
It's that blogs actually do, somewhat accurately, reflect public opinion. And better than polls, too, at least in this respect: While a poll might tell you that sixty-nine percent of the public is against this amnesty-without-security bill and only 20% in favor, that piece of information is, by itself, not terribly meaningful politically. Why? Because the public is against a lot of things, but doesn't really care about them. On many issues -- like bankruptcy reform -- you can probably afford to defy public preferences and give a sop to banks and creditors, because while the public may not support such "reform," neither is it politically animated about it. You can ignore public opinion because public opinion simply isn't very strong. No one's losing votes over the bankruptcy bill.
But sometimes citizens are so incensed about an issue they are actually animated to change their voting (and donating, volunteering, etc.) behavior based on a politician's position on that issue. It's not just numbers, it's intensity; and while some polls do indeed query about intensity, blogs and comments left by voting citizens are important gauge of such intensity.
Anecdotal evidence, merely? They say that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." But when the number of anecdotes becomes sufficiently high, the plural of anecdote is indeed high. There are hundreds of thousands of blog readers on the right, by far the dominant position on amensty-without-security is opposition, and, further -- you can tell just by skimming comments -- almost all of the passion and intensity and likelihood of changing voter behavior based on the issue is there too.
There are supporters of the Grand Bargain on the right -- but they're not terribly passionate about it. They favor it, but then, they're not really reaching for pitchforks and torches if it fails.
There's little doubt that those opposed to amensty-without-security are, in fact, preparing to storm the castle.
We are desperately attempting to get the attention of the Republican Party (and, also, the establishment Democrats willing to sell out sovereignty and blue-collar workers for some votes from "newcomers"). We are collectively pleading with you: Do not do this, or we will be forced to vote against you or sit out the next election, and yes, indeed, we are quite serious about this. This is the Rubicon, the last straw, the ultimate insult, the final nerve.
But they're not listening. Useless humps like Trent Lott are so used to legislating in secret and without public scrutiny that they've come to believe that doing so is their actual right, and that democratic pressure from the public is some sort of usurpation of the Divine Right of Legislators.
I will say it again: Do. Not. Do. This. If You Value. Your Political Lives. Don't consider it a threat; consider it an intervention.
putting together the news broadcast by state-run media outlets, the Ayatollah passed away simultaneously in a hospital in Tehran, in his house in Qom, and in London. The mention of London makes the story quite fascinating when another user in Balatarin finds a list of accommodation prices in the hospital he was looked after. In fact, Ayatollah has spent the amount a majority of Iranians live on for six months for every night he has been taken care of there. There is more controversy around the deceased Ayatollah, as Balatarin users manage to surface.
Notice how Armstrong blames Edwards' failure (at least to-date) on his having supplied the "right wing" with "ammo." This, of course, is ludicrous. Conservatives exert essentially zero influence in the Democratic party. Edwards isn't at 13 percent (or thereabouts) in Democratic polls because of "right wing ammo." He's at 13 percent because he's a lightweight and because left-wing bloggers (like conservative bloggers) aren't very influential when it comes to presidential politics.
It's a little late in the day for Palestinians to decide they're opposed to killing. They've been desperately trying to sow the wind of mass murder for a couple of generations now, and if they're finally getting concerned about reaping the whirlwind, they'll have to look somewhere else for sympathy.
And why are their signs in English?
From Little Green Footballs:
Palestinians Flee to Israel
According to the international left and the paleo-right, Israel is a fascist apartheid state, a brutal occupier, universally despised by the oppressed Palestinian people.
So where do the oppressed Palestinians look for sanctuary, when the terrorist government they elected begins the inevitable slaughter?
Palestinians run as they try to cross to the Israel side at the Erez Crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 16, 2007. Dozens of Palestinians converged on the Erez crossing with Israel on Saturday, trying to leave the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ takeover. At the same time, hundreds of people looted police positions on the Palestinian side of Erez, and at one point Israeli troops fired in the air to keep the crowd at bay. The looters walked off with furniture and scrap metal
The powers that be want to turn 12 million illegal aliens into legal citizens, but don't have the time of day for someone who save a whole plane from exploding.
Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong has been found guilty by the North Carolina State Bar for a battery of ethics violations in the Duke Lacrosse case.
Followed by the lie:
From the early days of the case, Nifong was widely criticized for his handling of the matter.
Want to see what the NY Times wrote? What the Duke 88 wrote (and then removed from their web site)? What Houston Baker - Professor of English at Duke wrote? Al Sharpton? The local Herald-Sun? How about ABC News itself?
The truth is that the only reliable source of news and criticism was the blog written by KC Johnson, a professor of history at Brookly College writing as Durham-in-Wonderland. Here is his overall case narrative. This is the authoritiative source for the "Duke Rape" case.
The MSM whose narrative was "rich white powereful jocks rape poor black powerless women."
Lady MacBeth said it well: "Out, out damn spot." But like the blood one her hands, this was one high profile instance of the MSM doing the dirty deed and now trying to remove the evidence. Twenty years ago, this might have worked and the past would have disappeared down the "memory hole." Don't they know that their lies live on in the thousands of websites that recorded their words? Are they that stupid?
BELMONT CLUB (One of the most intelligent bloggers anywhere) comments:
The university, the media and even their teachers left them for dead. But they had their parents. Maybe one day, when the family is abolished altogether as a regressive social evil, future people in a frame won't even have that.
For a governor who got elected by amassing a reputation for standing up for the little guy against Wall Street bankers, Governor Spitzer sure got taken to the cleaners by JPMorgan Chase. Mr. Spitzer yesterday acknowledged that the bank — 2006 profits, $14 billion — was getting a subsidy for its new downtown building of more than $200 million — or more than $25 from every man, woman, and child in New York City.
"Standing up for the little guy" has always and everywhere been "boob bait for the bubbas." Anyone who uses it will also use that other POS slogan: "for the children." How anyone can still fall for that without gagging is beyond hope.
No matter what the Left says, quintiles don’t actually shrink, and neither does the middle class. The middle class is constituted by all those with annual income in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quintiles. That means household income between $19,000 and $91,000. Three-fifths of the population, right there.
Over the years, even controlling for inflation, those income levels keep marching upward. The middle class keeps rising upward. In fact, the American middle class is moving up faster and further than that of any other developed nation. For the definitive international comparison, link here.
By the way, the top 5% of income earners begin at $166,000 per household. The top one percent begins at $333,000. Strange thing, nearly everyone below the top one percent (and even many inside the top one percent) do not think of themselves as “rich.”
The Clintons, on the other hand, disclosed that their wealth was between $10 and $50 million.
Edwards wealth was reported at $29.5 million, gotten from suing doctors as a trial lawyer.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against wealth. I have often stated that I would like to pay $1 million in taxes one year. But all these stupid stories about the inequality of wealth in this country are bogus; political editorial running as "news" in an effort to further the re-distributist agenda of the leftists that write for the MSM.
A reader compares the things his parents had with what he has. Think about how the "middle class" lives in the US. think about what the MSM is editorializing about.
According to a recent study by Lee Epstein of Northwestern University and other political scientists, far from being unpredictable, Kennedy is one of the most consistent justices in recent history--displaying far less leftward ideological drift since the early '90s than O'Connor or even former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. From the beginning, Kennedy's performance on the Court has been defined not by indecision but by self-dramatizing utopianism. He believes it is the role of the Court in general and himself in particular to align the messy reality of American life with an inspiring and highly abstracted set of ideals. He thinks that great judges, like great literary figures, have both the power and the duty to "impose order on a disordered reality," as he told the Kennedy Center audience. By forcing legislators to respect a series of moralistic abstractions about liberty, equality, and dignity, judges, he believes, can create a national consensus about American values that will usher in what he calls "the golden age of peace." This lofty vision has made Kennedy the Court's most activist justice--that is, the justice who votes to strike down more state and federal laws combined than any of his colleagues.
Kennedy often complains about the "loneliness" of his position, which stems from the fact that he has no reliable public constituency: Both liberals and conservatives tend to view him as a self-aggrandizing turncoat. "Oh, I suppose everyone would like it if everyone applauded when he walked down the street," he said in an interview. "There is loneliness."
But, when it comes time to hand down decisions, Kennedy shows little ambivalence about the centrality of his role in our national drama. His opinions are full of Manichean platitudes about liberty and equality that acknowledge no uncertainty. "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt," he wrote in his decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 opinion upholding the core of Roe v. Wade. "Preferment by race, when resorted to by the State, can be the most divisive of all policies, containing within it the potential to destroy confidence in the Constitution and in the idea of equality," he intoned in a 2003 dissent from the Court's decision to uphold affirmative action in law schools. Kennedy does indeed agonize before reaching his decisions, and he has dramatically switched his vote in high-profile cases. Yet he seems to agonize not because he is genuinely ambivalent or humble but because he thinks that agonizing is something a great judge should do, to show that he takes seriously the awesome magnitude of his task.
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Paul Waldman has a very interesting article over at the Prospect pondering whether liberal secular Americans will become as "tribal" as evangelicals. He writes:
Whatever the answer is, the possibility does seem real for secularism to achieve a new awakening of its own as a political and social movement. Non-believers can now claim their first publicly open member of Congress (Pete Stark of California), and they even have their own lobbying group (a modest enterprise, admittedly). Greater visibility makes it easier for the tribe to reproduce itself: The more we wear our tribal identity on our sleeves, the easier our fellow members are to spot, and the more likely we are to define membership as one of our primary criteria in mate selection and thus pass on our identity to others. And, indeed, there are multiple atheist dating services on the web.
John Podhoretz responds:
So why not a secular tribe? Secularists believe they are smarter, wiser, and better for America and the world than the religious people who are, in their view, pulling America backward into a nightmarish past. A conviction like this, widely shared, is a perfect basis for a present-day movement.
In an age when Fox News is a ratings juggernaut and Katie Couric is ratings roadkill, it seems almost antique to talk about liberal media bias. But it’s still out there, my friends. Just look at the hilarious press release masquerading as a news story in Time magazine. With a picture of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg looking like henchmen from Murder Inc., Time proclaims these politicians “The New Action Heroes.”
And why are the Munchkin Mayor and the glandular Governator so heroic? Because they’re taking care of business in a flash, as Elvis used to say (and probably still does on that Pacific island where he lives with Bruce Lee). Time’s Michael Grunwald comes close to sounding like a teenage girl talking about Justin Timberlake. Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger are doing “big things,” he tells us. “Specifically, they’re doing big things that Washington has failed to do.” Unlike politicians in the nation’s capital, where “partisanship-on-crack has made compromise almost impossible,” Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg have “got better things to do than bicker and posture.”
And what are these better things? Well, they’re both fighting global warming, natch. And Arnold’s fighting for embryo-destroying stem-cell research while Bloomberg, Grunwald gushes, has implemented “America’s most draconian smoking ban and the first big-city trans-fat ban.”
From the Globe:
The Hamas campaign to eradicate Fatah from Gaza is certainly not the sole cause of Gazans' misery. They long suffered from Israel's suffocating occupation, and then from Ariel Sharon's foolishly unilateral withdrawal in 2005, a move that allowed Hamas to bid for power with the misleading claim that its rockets and suicide bombings had driven Israeli soldiers and settlers out of Gaza.
According to the Globe, Israel is to blame both for its "occupation" and for having ended it--the latter of which "allowed Hamas to bid for power." But "the people of Gaza" are innocent victims. It somehow escapes the Globe's notice that Hamas came to power because Palestinians voted for it. The Globe denies that Palestinians are responsible for their own actions, and thereby dehumanizes them under a pretense of compassion.
Speaking of Muslims in the West:
“They want to live under Islamic law, not in Yemen or Saudi Arabia but in Belgium or the Netherlands, Canada ….”
“Saudis are the Wal-Mart of Islam…”
“When East meets West …you get the worst aspects of both cultures …they have taken the aspect of Islam they most like …the way you get a chance to treat women really badly… and they’ve combined it with the license and gratification of the Western world…. “
Steyn is always well worth your time.
Bush keeps claiming he's dying to enforce the border, but he just can't do it unless we immediately grant amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens. I wonder if that worked on Laura Bush:
Laura: George, it's time you quit drinking.
George: OK, honey, let's discuss it over cocktails.
How about Bush enforce the border and then we'll discuss his amnesty plan?
He assures us that granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants already here won't inspire millions more to run across the border because ... he's going to put infrared lights at the border!
Well, that's a relief. What precisely will infrared lights do again? This is worse than those fake cameras they sell at hardware stores to make it look like you have cameras outside your house. We still need something or someone — say, a wall or a Border Patrol agent — to stop the Mexicans illegally crossing the border as we watch them on the infrared cameras.
Bush won't build a wall and he keeps prosecuting law enforcement officers who stop illegal border crossers. But trust him: He'll get right on that border enforcement business as soon as we grant amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens.
Read the whole thing.
Apparently Congressional business trips and children of congresspersons are different.
Pentagon officials are bracing for a fight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over her desire to allow lawmakers’ adult children to tag along on taxpayer-funded travel for free.
Well, if you are as wealthy as Ms. Pelosi, I suppose your adult children don't have to keep their noses to the grindstone. All they need to do is inherit.
So I’m scanning Drudge and see this article about Angelina Jolie. I really don’t know who she is and what she’s done but it appears that she has an enhanced image of herself.
So for your reading pleasure, I give you the angelic Ms. Jolie. She evidently makes more than I do.
I have been advised by several people that these were the creation of Heather Jansch whose site is HERE. I am happy to give her credit.
Please feel free to explore this site. Go HOME for my home page.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
So Harry Reid, the man who couldn't get a supplemental spending bill completed in less than 108 days, is calling Pace and Petraeus incompetent.
That's the same Harry Reid who couldn't get the Democrats' "100 Hours" pledges to fruition in over 120 days and counting. In fact, this is the same Majority Leader that has led the least-accomplished session of Congress in a generation.
And just for the record, it's the same Harry Reid who insisted that he would never bring back the immigration bill if it failed its cloture test -- and then tried for a second cloture, declaring that also a "final" action -- and lost again.
That's the man calling Pace and Petraeus incompetent.
UPDATE: I almost forgot -- the same Harry Reid who voted to confirm Petraeus in January!
UPDATE: There is a lot of humor in the comment following the posting by Captain Ed. some Liberals contended that the denials of some Liberal bloggers meant that Reid did not call the generals incompetent. Time and reality then caught up when Reid confirmed his comments.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the president over Iraq by sending him a letter, ahead of a White House meeting later on Wednesday.
A Democratic challenge to Gen. Peter Pace indicates that uniformed officers no longer are exempt from the partisan fire on Capitol Hill once reserved for civilian policymakers.
On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the stunning announcement that he would not recommend Pace to serve a second two-year term as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Marine Corps four-star general had not been a target previously of Democrats' ire on the war, but Gates said lawmakers made it clear the confirmation process would be ugly.
Another aspect of Denver's Climate Action Plan that residents may not be aware of is the influence of big business.
FreedomWorks, a conservative group, argues that the plan "is compromised from the top." The co-chairman of Denver's Climate Action Plan task force is Benita Duran, an executive with the global firm CH2M Hill.
CH2M Hill is a Denver-based company that's in the businesses of carbon-offset consulting and renewable-energy services, among other things. The company was the one of the largest PAC donors to Colorado politicians in 2005-06 (both parties benefiting), and it saw $4.5 billion in revenues last year.
"The Climate Action Plan appears compromised by well-connected insiders and political donors who could directly benefit from these new regulations," said FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe. "Rather than helping the environment, the Climate Action Plan appears to be more about enriching a corporate donor at the expense of the average Denver resident."
Hickenlooper doesn't see it that way. "We're in a discussion phase right now, not policymaking stage," he says. "Bringing in the private sector is the best way to deal with this."
That may be true. But the eagerness of many voters to sign on to any plan that includes the word "green" requires extra vigilance.
For some, "environmentalism" means metric tons of cash. And, though I'm all for capitalism, I'm not sure we need CH2M Hill writing city policy.
Looks like the next corporate villain with be BIG GREEN! Wanna bet that will show up in the MSM headlines?
AND NOW A WORD FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: