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Monday, June 30, 2008

In 'survival mode,' newspapers slashing jobs.

We Internet denizens really don't take pleasure in the death of the dead tree media. What is troubling is that this seems the be one of the industries which believes that it can insult its customers with impunity. Even the airline industry apologizes for making you go through a strip search before getting onto you flight. If the press were running the airlines they would spit on you

Reader Jerry Carroll emails:

Glenn: I'm enjoying your glee over the death of newspapers. But what will replace them when they're gone? Think anybody is going to leave the comfort of their chair once a week to trudge to the city council and report on a blog what happened so the rest of us know? I see the time coming when there won't be anyone watching local government, and what we know will only be what it wants us to know.

It's not "glee." And, in fact -- as I've said repeatedly -- I think the reason that newspapers are tubing is that they're replaced the kind of hard-news reporting described above with editorializing and "attitude," often in support of political positions that many people don't agree with. I'd much rather see them flourish while doing a good job, but they've been cutting budgets for actual reporting for decades. Read Andy Krieg's Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper, to see how this trend was already underway twenty years ago. If you turn out a product whose quality is steadily declining, while simultaneously treating a substantial part of your customer base as somewhere between evil and idiotic, don't be surprised if your business gets worse. I've said for years that hard-news reporting is the killer app for Big Media, but they just don't want to do it. They want to tell people what to think, instead of telling them what's happening.

If you want an outstanding example of the attitude that newspapers are paying to dish out, how about this foam flecked insult by a NEWLY HIRED columnist - Donald Luzzatto -at the Virginian Pilot. Believe it or not, this is what the Pilot's management thought they needed to get us to re-new our subscriptions:

If you believe that a certain presidential candidate is the secret agent of a Belgian beer conglomerate, which even now is conspiring to steal Americans' precious bodily fluids and barley, I admire both your fantasy life and your knowledge of early Stanley Kubrick movies.

Now let's say you believe that the first man and woman were cooked up 15 minutes ago in a plasma oven by benevolent aliens from the Omega quadrant, and you want that creation story taught in school. Ah, now you've gone a bit too far. But nobody's likely to care, because you're crazy.

But say, instead, that you believe warnings about global climate change are some kind of elaborate lib'rul conspiracy hatched by Al Gore and the Trilateral Commission in a secret meeting around a bonfire fueled by Bibles. That it's all some distraction, so environmentalists can scuttle our cars and boats and air conditioners, and has nothing to do with a century of statistics or decades of scientific investigation.

You will not be fooled by something like "science" and "theories" and "facts." You will not bow down. Because you stand for freedom and right-thinking, you will do what any real American would: You will give more money to oil companies and make it harder for everyone to breathe. That'll teach 'em. That'll teach 'em all!

I suppose this is what passes for reason and debate designed to convince people in some universe inhabited by people who post at Daily Kos, but that's a free site that I can visit if I want to be insulted. But to pay to be ridiculed of by some j-school graduate who is practicing his meager creative writing skills by spoiling some perfectly good newsprint is ridiculous.

The poor airlines have the wit to try to fly while in bankruptcy by thanking you for flying the friendly skies. At least they don't spit in your coffee after serving it like this idiot is doing. If this is supposed to convince you that man is the cause of global warming, you may just be an editorial writer soon to be cut in the next downsizing.

An article giving strong evidence of global warming (from 1948)

The useful conclusions from this have nothing to do with the correctness of this paper’s data, reasoning, or conclusions.

(1) Anthropological global warming (AGW, caused by us) is more difficult to prove than global warming

The data showed clear indications of global warming in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hence the difficulty of demonstrating AGW as a substantial driver of current warming, since the natural warming trend was established before massive global industrialization. Proving causation requires more than showing a trend, since the trend was already there. This is a repeated fallacy of general media articles about global warming (but not, of course, of the climate science literature).

(2) Keeping the public ignorant of normal climate cycles

The inconvenient truth about 19th and 20th century warming is omitted from many “educational” articles and movies, along with any mention of past climatic swings. Doing so makes it easier to arouse fears about AGW by exploiting the public’s ignorance of history and logic. AGW can be proven by appealing to post hoc ergo propter hoc — if industrialization preceded warming, then industrialization must have caused warming. This is a wonderful use of propaganda: false fact used to support false logic.

(3) Will warming on balance help or hurt humanity?

A thorough, balanced analysis might show that the global warming forecast will cause net harm to humanity. Or perhaps not. Has anyone done such an analysis? Unfortunately today the path to fame and glory today comes from articles attributing only ill effects from global warming - no matter how outlandish. One can read many, many articles before finding any hints that warming might have a few good effects.

This one-sided, often exaggerated, outlook is a primary indication of propaganda. It need not be a centrally directed or even coordinated campaign to have great impact.

Read the whole thing.

Anglicans Face Wider Split Over Policy on Gays

A dying newspaper industry views a Christian denomination that's growing, and breaking away from its colonial masters, and disapproves.

The NY Times is in critical condition and may soon be on life support, but as part of it's death struggle it has time to view an anti-colonial development with disdain.

JERUSALEM — Anglican conservatives, frustrated by the continuing stalemate over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, declared Sunday that they would defy historic lines of authority and create a new power bloc within the communion led by a council predominantly of African archbishops.

The announcement came at the close of an unprecedented weeklong meeting in Jerusalem of Anglican conservatives who contend that they represent a majority of the 77 million members of the Anglican Communion.

The Times has two reporters on this story but note the use of the term "contend." It's used by the press to suggest that the claim is false without actually saying so. It should be fairly easy to determine how much of the Anglican church was represented at this conference, but that would spoil the pretense.

They depicted their efforts as the culmination of an anti-colonial struggle against the communion’s seat of power in Britain, from which missionaries first carried Anglican Christianity to the developing world. The conservatives say many of the descendants of those Anglican missionaries in Britain and North America are following a “false gospel” that allows a malleable interpretation of Scripture.

Note also the use of qualifiers like "they depict" to imply that there may be another agenda. And what's with the description of the conference members as "conservative?" In "Timespeak" conservative is a term used to demonize the enemy; a Times reader knows that "conservatives" are the evil ones. It seems to me that a group threatening a break-up of a major religion may be called many things, but "conservative" is not one of them.
After more than 1,000 delegates to the meeting — mostly Africans, Australians, South Americans and Indians — affirmed their platform statement at a hotel here, they gathered for prayer, dancing and swaying to a Swahili hymn and shouting full-throated hallelujahs.

So here we have a real rainbow coalition: Africa, Australia, South America, India. Under-represented perhaps is Europe and North America; areas of the Anglican Communion that is either moribund (North America) or dead (England). And note that snarky reference to "full-throated hallelujahs." You can be sure that the word never escapes the lips of a NY Times writer, full throated or otherwise.

Keep in mind that the Anglican church is a creation of the English Parliament which followed the break from the Roman Catholic church initiated by Henry VIII. Today, the established Anglican church is full of empty pews

The statement the delegates released said it was time to create a new ecclesiastical province in the United States and Canada to absorb the parishes that have been outraged by the American church’s consecration of an openly gay bishop in 2003 and the Canadian church’s blessing of same-sex unions.

Bishop Anderson said a new province would unite believers in North America who had abandoned the Episcopal Church in recent decades because they disagreed with the ordination of female priests and bishops, its interpretation of Scripture or its acceptance of homosexuality.

It is a supreme irony that churches that were established by missionaries from Europe and America should not be in the position of sending missionaries to the Europe and America to "convert the heathen."

Obama Staff Cuts

Rush Limbaugh used that phrase last week and I thought it was particularly appropriate.

He's the "other" headline:

Newspapers, reeling from slumping ads, slash jobs
Sunday June 29, 4:52 pm ET
By Seth Sutel, AP Business Writer
Deep job cuts, outsourcing and more asset sales coming as the newspaper industry retrenches

Even for an industry awash in bad news, the newspaper business went through one of its most severe retrenchments in recent memory last week.
Half a dozen newspapers said they would slash payrolls, one said it would outsource all its printing, and Tribune Co., one of the biggest publishers in the country, said it might sell its iconic headquarters tower in Chicago and the building that houses the Los Angeles Times.


The increasingly rapid and broad decline in the newspaper business in recent months has surprised even the most pessimistic financial analysts, many of whom say it's too hard to tell how far the slump will go.

"They're in survival mode now," said Mike Simonton, a media analyst at Fitch Ratings, a credit analysis agency.

"We had very grim expectations for the sector," Simonton said, and publishers have either met or surpassed his estimates for how bad the results would be.

Last week alone, deep staff cuts were announced at The Hartford Courant and The (Baltimore) Sun -- two Tribune papers -- as well as at The Palm Beach Post and the Daytona Beach-Journal, while The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press said they hoped to reduce the head count in their joint operations by 7 percent through buyouts. The Boston Herald said up to 160 employees would be laid off as it outsourced its printing operations, and in a memo explaining the terms of its job security pledge, the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., said it is operating in the red. The week before, McClatchy Co. said companywide staff cuts of 10 percent were coming.

Faster please.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Members of the European Parliament Ripping Off the Taxpayers - On Camera

European Parliament members signing in for their daily allowances and then heading home. Ripping off the European taxpayers.

Of course, our American congress is leaving for it's summer vacation leaving us with ever higher gasoline prices and not an inch closer to new sources of energy.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

We almost lost the second amendment.

Here is the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Heller case.

The recent Supreme Court decision overturning the gun ban in Washington DC was very narrowly decided. Four justices dissented, in effect saying that the gun ban in DC (and some other cities) was constitutional. Many Liberals agreed.

The Virginian Pilot commented:

What you think of the Supreme Court's decision this week on the Second Amendment largely depends on where you live.

In D.C., or Chicago - both of which have draconian gun-ownership laws - the opinion penned by Justice Antonin Scalia will seem to some like an assault on local rule, not to mention the grammar of the Constitution.

It’s a perfect illustration of what’s wrong with the Liberals’ view of the Supreme Court. They view its role as a policy making body, one that makes up rules that you agree with depending on where you live and what your politics are. As such it is given the role as the ultimate authority on all things.

Can we ban churches?

Try this though experiment. Let’s go to the first amendment; the part about not prohibiting the free exercise of religion. And let’s say that a community of people decided that the city should prohibit the building of churches. There could be any number of reasons given by the church banners: zoning issues, traffic issues, tax issues, noise issues. The amendment banners could with a straight face argue that you have every right to worship, you just could not gather to do it. And if you argued with them that the effect of the local ordinance is the end of the free exercise of religion, they would come back with the accusation that you are assaulting local rule.

We have a Bill of Rights specifically to prevent local rules from abridging those rights. What is frightening is that a bare majority of the Supremes – the one part of the government that is MOST CHARGED with protecting those rights – is dangerously close to stripping away the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Can we ban newsprint?

Let’s try another one. The first amendment prohibits abridging a free press. Now follow me on this: the Bush administration has just put polar bears on the list of species threatened by global warming. The US, which has only 5% of the world’s population, consumes 25% of the world’s newsprint. That is about 10 million tons of newsprint annually. Newsprint is virtually all carbon, being made primarily from trees. Literally hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide is produced in making and disposing of newsprint. Carbon dioxide is being blamed for warming the planet so it’s reasonable to make a law that forbids the manufacture of newsprint. Such a law is a reasonable response, some would say, to keep newspapers from killing polar bears.

Now keep in mind that newspapers are not one of life’s necessities; they are a total luxury. Thanks to modern technology their product can be delivered more efficiently and with lower CO2 emissions in the form of pixels on your computer screen; carbon free pixels.

Would this simple and elegant approach to ridding the planet of harmful greenhouse gasses be unconstitutional? Let’s see how we can frame this to appeal to the kind of numbnuts that writes for the MSM. Perhaps we can get five Supreme Court justices to decide that this is a common sense solution to the certain environmental destruction of the planet if greedy press lords are to be prevented from furthering their brazen destruction of the planet.

As an extra bonus, the remaining press will be freer than ever once the obstacle of the dead tree press removed is removed from its path.

You can assume what the current press would have to say about my proposal. But keep in mind that a ban on newsprint is a less direct assault on a free press than the DC gun ban was an assault on the second amendment.

An unarmed public can be tyrannized.

What the second amendment banners wish to do is specifically to reverse what the second amendment was ratified to accomplish: to serve as a check on tyranny. The constitution was written at a time when the founders were very aware of the propensity of governments to oppress their people by disarming them and creating armed groups to suppress dissent.

Lest anyone thing that this is a fear that has disappeared with time, we need only refer reports of tyrannical governments around the world killing people to stay in power.

Justice Scalia says in his opinion(page 25):

… history showed that the way tyrants had eliminated a militia consisting of all the ablebodied men was not by banning the militia but simply by taking away the people’s arms, enabling a select militia or standing army to suppress political opponents. This is what had occurred in England that prompted codification of the right to have arms in the English Bill of Rights. The debate with respect to the right to keep and bear arms, as with other guarantees in the Bill of Rights, was not over whether it was desirable (all agreed that it was) but over whether it needed to be codified in the Constitution. During the 1788 ratification debates, the fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule through a standing army or select militia was pervasive in Antifederalist rhetoric. See, e.g., Letters from The Federal Farmer III (Oct. 10, 1787), in 2 The Complete Anti-Federalist 234, 242 (H. Storing ed. 1981). John Smilie, for example, worried not only that Congress’s “command of the militia” could be used to create a “select militia,” or to have “no militia at all,” but also, as a separate concern, that “[w]hen a select militia is formed; the people in general may be disarmed.”

The Supreme Court as boss.

Jonah Goldberg makes an excellent point that the more power the Supreme Court arrogates to itself, the less power the other branches of government have. And the less freedom the people have.

Supreme Courtier? If the Supreme Court is boss, Congress is Dilbert.

Out of 16 major American institutions, Congress ranks dead last in the eyes of the American people according to Gallup. Even HMOs are more revered. If Carrot Top and Joey Buttafuoco were elected to Congress, it would improve the legislative branch’s reputation.

The reasons for Congress’s craptacular standing are too long to list here. But some culprits never get blamed, even though they are hiding in plain sight. Chief among them: the U.S. Supreme Court.

Have you ever had a boss who treated you like a child, second-guessed you, reworked whatever you did so that you felt no ownership of the final product? As a result, did you take your job less and less seriously precisely because you knew that whatever you produced wouldn’t really be yours anyway?

Well, the Supreme Court is the boss, and Congress is the Dilbert. There was a time when the U.S. Congress took the Constitution very seriously. Even after Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 case that established the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review, Congress and the president were still the chief guardians of the Constitution. Indeed, before the Civil War, only two acts of Congress were found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

These days, the Court seems to find duly enacted laws unconstitutional six days a week and twice on Sunday.

Lawmakers rarely bother their pretty little heads with the Constitution. Rather, they just load as much spit, tar, Vaseline, and whatever else they can think of on a legislative fastball and try to get it over SCOTUS’ plate. If those imperial umpires don’t call a constitutional strike, well, then — voilá — it must be constitutional.

And with the editorial writers of the Virginian Pilot as examples of what the lumpenliberals are thinking regarding the Constitution and the Supremes, it’s going to be a long time before the two other branches of government get their balls back.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Comparing People to Hitler

Stuff white people like:
Being a truly advanced white person means being able to speak with authority about pretty much any field of conversation- especially politics. In order for white people to streamline the process of knowing everything, all human beings can be neatly filed into one of two categories: People I Agree With, and People Who are Just Like Adolf Hitler.

Comparing people to Hitler is an easy way for white people to get a strong point across to the less enlightened, or the insufficiently white. Everyone knows who Adolf Hitler was. And everyone knows that Hitler was very, very bad. Therefore, if a white person really, REALLY, doesn’t like something or
someone, he or she may angrily say something to the effect of, “This is exactly the same kind of thing that Hitler used to do!” accompanied by varying levels of profanity based on blood-alcohol content. No matter what your gut reaction may be at that point, do not disagree with that white person. Otherwise, well, you love Hitler.

This time-tested white-person maneuver may seem so awesomely useful to you that you are tempted to go out and try it right now. Not so fast. White people have spent the last 30 years perfecting this technique. There are cultural guidelines.

It’s also critical that you avoid the fatal mistake of getting creative and comparing people you don’t like to other evil dictators, such as Joseph Stalin or Fidel Castro. With few exceptions, white people are actually fond
of almost any dictator not named Hitler, and your remark that “this is just like something Mao Zedong would do” will be met with blank stares and possible social alienation. This is because, with the exception of Hitler,
oppressive dictators share a passion for many of the things white people love- such as universal health care, conspiracy theories, caring about poor people while being filthy rich, and cool hats. Stick to the script and
compare things you don’t like to Hitler, and Hitler alone.

Now, like most reasonable people, you might find this strategy distasteful, and even a bit disrespectful, since after all, Hitler was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, and probably doesn’t have that much in common with Pat Robertson, in perspective. If you prefer to avoid hearing or using the Hitler technique, we recommend you speak in soothing, affirming tones around angry white people to prevent the phenomenon from manifesting, and change the subject tactfully. To something that doesn’t involve George W. Bush.

Plod to Judgment

From Portfolio Magazine what exposed the bribery scandal involving Countrywide as well as Senators Dodd and Conrad, a brief update:

It meets secretly and doesn't even publicly disclose its schedule. It won't officially comment on whom it's investigating.

But like it or not, the Senate Ethics Committee is back in the public spotlight as it begins to investigate the special-loans-for-Senators scandal revealed on earlier this month.

After reported that the troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial appeared to have set aside some of its own criteria in making loans to a pair of prominent Democratic senators, attention quickly turned to the Senate Ethics Panel.

Four days after named the senators—Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who chairs the Budget Committee, and Chris Dodd, of Connecticut, who chairs the Banking Committee—a private group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a formal complaint and called for an investigation.

Such a move almost always triggers a preliminary investigation, and the ethics committee chairwoman, Barbara Boxer of California, told the Washington Post that one is underway. "A complaint has been filed, and we are, as we always do, looking at that," she said.

While the committee won't officially say whom it is investigating, both Dodd and Conrad have vowed to cooperate fully. Conrad's office told today that it had yet to hear from the committee but reiterated that it will cooperate fully. A source familiar with the details says the committee has not yet contacted Dodd's office, either.

Other fallout from the scandal continues.

Dodd was previously famous for making a "waitress sandwich" with Ted Kennedy.

The Latest NIE Scandal

The Democrats in congress are openly doing what they claimed the Bush administration did, but were never able to prove: cook the books on intelligence estimates.

By Rich Lowery via NRO

A friend on the Hill writes:

Today marked a new low for the way congressional Democrats deal with national security. This morning, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a joint hearing on a "National Intelligence Assessment" on global climate change. This analysis was ordered by the Democratic Congress last year and was issued a few weeks ago. Some highlights (or low-lights) from the hearing:

1) In response to a question by Global Warming Committee member Greg Walden (R-OR), the Intelligence Community admitted they had "low to medium confidence" in the accuracy of this estimate because intelligence officers lack the expertise to write such an estimate (it was mostly contracted out to other organizations) and climate change science is so uncertain. As Walden started to ask about why an analysis of such low reliability was issued, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), the Global Warming Committee Chairman, cut him off and told him he was out of time even though Markey let all the previous Democrats speak substantially past their time limits.

2) Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Peter Hoekstra asked what intelligence was used for this estimate and whether intelligence collection requirements were prepared. National Intelligence Council Chairman Thomas Fingar said no clandestine intelligence was used and that intelligence officers extrapolated what would happen if the "mid-level estimates" by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were correct. When Hoekstra asked why the U.S. Intelligence Community would write an major analysis of low to medium confidence that contained no intelligence, Fingar answered, "because you [Congress] told us to."

3) Hoekstra noted that intelligence assessments of high confidence have proven to be wrong and he wondered why an intelligence assessment of low to medium confidence would even be published.

And it appears that some of the Democrats are too stupid to realize when they dig the hole they are in deeper:

In an attempt to dispel the debate over confidence, Intelligence Committee member Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) responded by noting that the 2002 Iraq WMD NIE had high confidence in its findings. Some Republicans thought Rep. Eshoo's statement actually made their case about the futility of issuing an intelligence assessment that intelligence officers cannot fully back.

I wonder if we'll see the press hyperventilate over biased intelligence estimates and twisting science for partisan purposes. I guess that is a funny question that answers itself.

Oh, and it's day 7 of no Virginian Pilot comment on the Obama switcharoo on campaign financing.

More picture blogging

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day By Day

James Hansen is beginning to sound an awful lot like "Mother Sheehan."

Questions for Kent Conrad

Four questions:

1. Why the shifting explanations?
2. Why the extraordinary Senate help in bailing out Countrywide?
3. Why not use a North Dakota lender?
4. How does the Senate’s self-proclaimed “numbers guy” not know the most basic facts about his own mortgage?

Read the whole thing. But here's the answer:

I know these questions were for Kent Conrad, but I can sum up the real answer. Kent took the deal because saving over TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS on your mortgage is saving a heck of a lot more than that before taxes. Kent’s been in Washington too long, he thinks taxes are for other people that aren’t as special as him.

I'm always amazed at how little it takes to bribe an elected official.

Save the Seal!

Mickey Kaus:

"A one-time seal for a one-time event." ... P.S.: I should add that the faux seal was a disaster not just for the reason I gave (that it suggested Obama is "stuck up"). It also carried this counterproductive implication: that there is a separate Obama Nation, grown up in opposition to Bush's nation. Obama Nation has its own insignia and its own reality. It is somewhat alarmingly devoted to its leader. And this blue tribe is about to completely conquer the current ruling red tribe. ... Voters didn't much like this kind of revolutionary swagger in the 1960s. They may not like it now. .

It's official.

The official Great Seal of Obama that the senator from Illinois rolled out last week has been relegated to a campaign office shelf.

"It was a one-time seal for a one-time event,'' said Robert Gibbs, communications director for the Obama campaign.

The campaign had taken significant ridicule, with ABC News labeling the seal "the audacity of hype."

More Pictures

Eat your heart out Glenn Reynolds

Virginian Pilot - Now 6 Days Without Mentioning Campaign Financing

Pravda was a beacon of journalistic truth and technical prowess compared with the Virginian Pilot

The lead editorial from today's Virginian Pilot:

Rapper's profanity at Norfolk festival was out of place

Certain things go together: Peanut butter and jelly. Bikinis and sunscreen. Ants and picnics. ...

Festevents, the group that organizes festivals and concerts at Town Point Park in Norfolk, will explicitly state in its contracts that bands and singers shouldn't utter profanity while performing on stage.

Earth-shattering, isn't it? The ability of the idiots who steal their pay at the Pilot to have the gall to put this kind of junior high student paper editorializing on the poor dead trees. I stand in awe of what the Batten family will pay for.

And still no comment on Obama and campaign financing.

White Looters in Iowa

Mike Adams opines on the pahology of the black underclass.
During the week after Father’s Day, I received a number of interesting emails from readers asking me to write about the dearth of looting after the recent floods in Iowa. Specifically, they wanted me to write about the reason there was so much more looting in New Orleans after Katrina hit the “Chocolate City” in 2005. Of course, the problem involves so much more than race – a factor most people are thinking about, even if they won’t admit it.

Read the whole thing.

The ACORN Obama Knows


Let's take a closer look at the ACORN Obama knows.

Last July, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington State. Seven ACORN workers had submitted nearly 2,000 bogus voter registration forms. According to case records, they flipped through phone books for names to use on the forms, including "Leon Spinks," "Frekkie Magoal" and "Fruto Boy Crispila."

Boumediene: A Supremely Problematic Court Decision

Fred Thompson eviscerates the Court for it's decision:
As I pointed out last week, and as legal scholar John Yoo did earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, the “Boumediene Five” have done our nation and our Constitution no great service. But beyond the rhetoric, we really need to understand the real world impact of this ruling on the war we are waging against our enemies.

In Boumediene v Bush, besides, for the first time in history conferring habeas corpus rights on alien enemies detained abroad by our military during a war, the Court struck down as inadequate what Chief Justice John Roberts called “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded enemy combatants.” Consider the rights that our country provided to the enemy prisoners in question before Boumediene:

The right to hear the bases of the charges against them including a summary of any classified evidence.

The ability to challenge the bases of their detention before military tribunals modeled after Geneva Convention procedures. As Robert’s pointed out, some 38 detainees have been released as result of this process.

The right, before the tribunal, to testify, introduce evidence, including exculpatory evidence, call witnesses, cross examine the government witnesses and secure release if and when appropriate.

The right to the aid of a personal representative in arranging and presenting their cases before the tribunal.

The right to have the government search for and disclose to the detainee any evidence reasonably available to it tending to show that the detainee is not an enemy combatant.

The right to appeal an adverse decision from the tribunal to the Federal DC Circuit Court along with the right to employ counsel and secure release if entitled to it.

The right to petition the DC Circuit to remand a detainee’s case for new tribunal consideration if the petitioner comes up with newly discovered evidence.

The right to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct a yearly review of the status of each prisoner including the right to have the Secretary of Defense review any new evidence that may become available relating to the enemy combatant status of a detainee.

As a part of that yearly review, the opportunity for the detainee to explain why he is no longer a threat to the United States, which could lead to his release.

The DC Circuit can order release of the prisoner, and the head of the DOD Administrative Review Boards can, at the recommendation of those panels, order release upon an appropriate showing.

Again, these are the rights terrorists and battlefield combatants had before Boumediene was decided. These provisions provide more process than any that has ever been afforded prisoners of war in history. They go substantially past the rights afforded by the Geneva Convention. These are the rights that the majority decided were insufficient — and the result?

Their decision granting them the right to habeas corpus relief in federal courts.

Look, this issue isn’t going to go away, so consider these things the next time you hear someone defend the Supreme Court’s majority opinion as an attempt at “basic fairness” and to help prevent an innocent sheepherder from being improperly detained:

First, the Court left total confusion and uncertainty as to what rights these habeas petitions will vindicate. What will be the nature of the review under these new habeas rights? Will the Court review the constitutionality of the detention hearing procedures? What will be the burden of proof in these new proceedings? Will they have a factual hearing in order to try to recreate the circumstances in the field at the time of the detainee’s apprehension?

The answer is no one knows. It will all be dumped into the laps of some federal district judge and his or her law clerks. These are unprecedented circumstances and there is no way to predict what some judge might see as his or her new mandate under the constitution.

Again, it will be a federal judge — not the President or the Congress or a military tribunal — who will decide the appropriate extent to which the detainee will have access to classified military information, as just one of the more troubling examples. In other words, the branch of our government least qualified to make determinations on national security and foreign policy will now do just that. One other thing is certain. Whatever comes out of this new habeas corpus mish mash will generate a new round of appeals and our avowed enemies will work their way deeper and deeper into our court system.

Second, the majority opinion throws into question whether the tens of thousands of detainees in Iraq and the more than 1000 in Afghanistan are now entitled to habeas. Is the Court going to extend habeas protection to all foreign detainees held in foreign territory over which the United States is not sovereign, but has de facto control? We could be looking at tens of thousands of military detainee habeas cases in federal court.

Third, the Court’s decision encourages al Qaeda to continue in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions are designed to protect civilians and to reward combatants with certain protections if they abide by the Conventions. Al Qaeda specifically targets civilians and wears no uniform to distinguish themselves from the civilian population. Our policy now is to give al Qaeda combatants privileges that exceed the Conventions in terms of access to our court system without requiring al Qaeda to abide by these conventions themselves. This, of course, is an incentive for them to violate the law of war. They receive no penalty for not doing so, and by not wearing uniforms, makes any standard of proof requirement with regard to enemy combatant status more difficult for the United States. We are literally giving the enemy the means by which they can do us great harm.

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a majority of the Supreme Court to make new law based not upon precedent but upon policy preferences of members of the Court. But this time it’s part of a much bigger picture. It is about power, and who gets to exercise it in an area that is vital to the security of this nation. This time it’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous.

It should also be noted that Senator Obama thinks that the decision in Boumediene v Bush is an excellent one. I don’t know what’s worse: that he doesn’t understand what the Court has done … or that he actually does and still thinks this was a sound ruling. Good luck to all of us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


What happened (not a bit like the media reported).

Read what led up to the military action. Then:

The Basra offensive marked the first time the Shi’a-led Iraqi government seriously took on the problem of Shi’a militias, namely Sadr’s Jaysh al-Mahdi militia. Despite their shaky start, the Iraqi Security Forces, with important Coalition enablers, were able to reclaim vast swaths of Basra from militia control. Moreover, the Government of Iraq was able to reassert control of the economically vital ports and oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Maliki was able to improve his standing as a decisive and powerful leader. The residents of Basra are experiencing, for the first time years, a level of personal freedom denied by the Islamist militias. Yet, some important questions and concerns remain regarding the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces, the state of the enemy, and the sustainability of the security gains.

In an impressive mobilization of resources, the Iraqi Security Forces were able to muster roughly 30,000 troops to participate in the Basra operations. Iraqi soldiers and police were able to conduct complex counterinsurgency operations, with Coalition Forces functioning only in an advisory capacity. Still, the early weeks of fighting exposed serious challenges and shortcomings of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Government of Iraq: insufficient staff planning; a reliance on Coalition Forces for close air support, other combat enablers, and logistical support; and lingering personnel challenges. These shortcomings are not unique to the most recent offensive. While Coalition and Iraqi forces aim to mitigate these problems, it will likely take significant time and effort to do so.

There is much still to be done in Basra. Corruption, a lack of basic public services, and high unemployment still plague the city. Many residents fear that the security gains, and the personal freedoms that accompanied them, are not permanent. Indeed, they are fragile and reversible. The operations in Basra did not fully eradicate Shi’a militias. The Jaysh al-Mahdi militia and Iranian-backed Special Groups have suffered heavy losses in Basra and their networks in the south have been disrupted; however, they are not entirely defeated. Rather, it is likely that have gone underground with the intention of evading the security crackdown, reconstituting, and resurfacing at a later point. Additionally, the Islamist political parties remain in power in Basra, and as such, they remain a threat to the historically moderate, secular order preferred by most Basrawis.

It is all the more important, therefore, to continue full-spectrum counterinsurgency operations in Basra—conducting both security operations and political and economic reconstruction efforts. Iraqi Security Forces must continue their offensive against the Shi’a militias and Special Groups—maintaining a permanent security presence in former militia strongholds, confiscating illegal weapons, and targeting criminal remnants. Furthermore, the Iraqi government must also make good on its commitments of reconstruction aid and payments for local security volunteers. Finally, the government should continue to engage those groups that have been excluded from the political arena, particularly the tribes, while strengthening moderate political forces. If upcoming provincial elections are to have any chance at success, the Government of Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces, and their Coalition partners must work resolutely to consolidate security gains and improve economic conditions in Basra.

Sanger's Planned Parenthood's Racist Past

From Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.

A fair-minded person cannot read Sanger’s books, articles, and pamphlets today without finding similarities not only to Nazi eugenics but to the dark dystopias of the feminist imagination found in such allegories as Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. As editor of The Birth Control Review, Sanger regularly published the sort of hard racists we normally associate with Goebbels or Himmler. Indeed, after she resigned as editor, The Birth Control Review ran articles by people who worked for Goebbels and Himmler. For example, when the Nazi eugenics program was first getting wide attention, The Birth Control Review was quick to cast the Nazis in a positive light, giving over its pages for an article titled “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need,” by Ernst Rüdin, Hitler’s director of sterilization and a founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene. In 1926 Sanger proudly gave a speech to a KKK rally in Silver Lake, New Jersey.

One of Sanger’s closest friends and influential colleagues was the white supremacist Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. In the book he offered his solution for the threat posed by the darker races: “Just as we isolate bacterial invasions, and starve out the bacteria, by limiting the area and amount of their food supply, so we can compel an inferior race to remain in its native habitat.” When the book came out, Sanger was sufficiently impressed to invite him to join the board of directors of the American Birth Control League.

Sanger’s genius was to advance Ross’s campaign for social control by hitching the racist-eugenic campaign to sexual pleasure and female liberation. In her “Code to Stop Overproduction of Children,” published in 1934, she decreed that “no woman shall have a legal right to bear a child without a permit shall be valid for more than one child.”47 But Sanger couched this fascistic agenda in the argument that “liberated” women wouldn’t mind such measures because they don’t really want large families in the first place. In a trope that would be echoed by later feminists such as Betty Friedan, she argued that motherhood itself was a socially imposed constraint on the liberty of women. It was a form of what Marxists called false consciousness to want a large family.

Read the whole thing, then buy the book.


Pike's Market, Seattle

Eat your heart out Glenn Reynolds

Monday, June 23, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama, Public Financing and the Virginian Pilot

Pravda was a beacon of journalistic truth and technical prowess compared with the Virginian Pilot

The Virginian Pilot has now gone four days without any reference to Barack Hussein Obama breaking his pledge to go with public financing for the general election campaign. This, of course, is par for the course for the Virginian Pilot as well as most of the MSM.

Here is a list of items that the Virginian Pilot finds more worthy of editorializing on

 New wild areas benefit all
 Headquarters pitch requires caution
 A bad idea on the Internet
 An original idea on road funding
 More space for state prisoners
 2011 is too late for ORV plan
 Call to responsibility for black fathers
 No easy answers for high gas prices

And the headline grabber for today: APM's headquarters pitch requires caution.

What will be interesting this year will be to see if the drive-by-media will be able to drag this empty suit over the finish line ahead of John McCain?

Now I grant that John is not a great campaigner. In the past his main constituency has been the media who have cheered him when he was busy being a “Maverick” by stabbing his political party in the back. But given a choice between a corrupt Chicago pol who trails a string of racist, radical and crooked friends and associates, but has a (D) as his party affiliation, the MSM have thrown “Maverick” John overboard and are busy holding his head under water.

But as I said, what will be interesting to watch is whether the national network of information gatekeepers still has the power to get their choice into the White House. That’s because newspapers are failing at an accelerating rate due to shrinking ad revenues leading to shrinking staffs leading to shrinking readership leading to shrinking influence.
Papers Facing Worst Year for Ad Revenue
Monday June 23, 11:35 pm ET
For newspapers, the news has swiftly gone from bad to worse. This year is taking shape as their worst on record, with a double-digit drop in advertising revenue, raising serious questions about the survival of some papers and the solvency of their parent companies.

Ad revenue, the primary source of newspaper income, began sliding two years ago, and as hiring freezes turned to buyouts and then to layoffs, the decline has only accelerated.
On top of long-term changes in the industry, the weak economy is also hurting ad sales, especially in Florida and California, where the severe contraction of the housing markets has cut deeply into real estate ads. Executives at the Hearst Corporation say that one of their biggest papers, The San Francisco Chronicle, is losing $1 million a week.
Over all, ad revenue fell almost 8 percent last year. This year, it is running about 12 percent below that dismal performance, and company reports issued last week suggested a 14 percent to 15 percent decline in May.
“Never in my most bearish dreams six months ago did I think we’d be talking about negative 15 percent numbers against weak comps,” said Peter S. Appert, an analyst at Goldman Sachs. “I think the probability is very high that there will be a number of examples of individual newspapers and newspaper companies that fall into a loss position. And I think it’s inevitable that there will be closures in this industry, and maybe bankruptcies.”

This embattled industry combines its failing fortunes with a hubris that comes from decades of being in a position to decide what people should think about and then telling them what to think. That sort of power is virtually impossible to surrender even if it means losing you livelihood. Dictators never seem to know when it’s time to go. The media has responded by venturing half-heartedly into the internet. But the Internet is an interactive media and the MSM are not capable of understanding that people are no more willing to be being preached at by people with musty Leftist ideology using pixels instead of printer’s ink.

As a result, the MSM has become more rather than less ideological, perhaps believing that a small paper appealing to a rabid group of readers is a better business model than the one they had before. Perhaps; but that means that their political influence to the “moderate middle “will be reduced. So we may be seeing the last scream of the dinosaur media as they gather around Saint Obama.

As I said, it’ll be interesting.

Obama Padding His Resume Again

In his latest ad Obama:
About 46 seconds into the ad, we are told that Obama “passed laws” that “extended healthcare for wounded troops who’d been neglected,” and in the usual manner of these political commercials we are given a little citation at the bottom. The citation reads “Public Law 110-181 1/28/08”. That law is the only federal legislation cited in the ad — the other two items mentioned were from the Illinois legislature and referred to other issues raised in the ad.


Public Law 110-181 was the 2008 defense authorization bill. It passed the Senate by 91 to 3 in January, with six Senators not voting. Among those six absentees was Barack Obama. So he cites a bill he didn’t even vote for.

Papers Facing Worst Year for Ad Revenue

For newspapers, the news has swiftly gone from bad to worse. This year is taking shape as their worst on record, with a double-digit drop in advertising revenue, raising serious questions about the survival of some papers and the solvency of their parent companies.

Faster please.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Of Course Polygamy is Next

The Anchoress has put up a post that received a very educated response. The pro-gay marriage cabal has been relying on the fact that there are financial advantages to being a married couple.

That's true.

And once we are in the business of re-defining marriage there is no constitutional reason why the number two should be the limit to the married state; nor the relationship of the people in the marriage so:

Of course polygamy is next. There is now no rational basis for maintaining the prohibition on it.

Soon thereafter, of course, incestuous marriages are quite forseeable, if only as an estate planning device. For example, currently, mega-taxes are imposed on transfers of wealth following death (estate taxes and inheritance taxes), including inter-generational transfers. However, federal and state death tax laws also recognize a marital exemption, allowing the estate to pass to a spouse tax-free.

As such, it would be legal malpractice for a lawyer to not advise widowed spouses to marry their children. By marrying their children, they obtain the benefit of a tax-free transfer via the marital exemption upon the death of the parent/spouse. By not marrying their children, such transfer at death gets taxed.

The fact that they never live together or never have sex is, of course, within the couple’s right to privacy, i.e., none of the government’s business.

When we start defining marriage to be whatever the hell we want it to be, such inane and absurd results are sure to happen.

But like I said before — there is no “law” anymore. A “law,” properly understood, is something akin to transcendent truth — unchanging. Human law, e.g. statutes and judicial decisions, have the force of law, but are not technically law per se. Even so, such human law historically has been seen as having to be consistent with reason, e.g. the common law, so as to be fairly applicable to everyone.

Today, instead of law, we have “a mirror of our culture,” which is as about as subjective and relativistic as you can get. Mirrors of culture are not law, and never have been, but that is what we have got. As such, we can alter at will the law of human life; we can alter at will the law of sex/gender; we can alter at will the law of marriage. I suppose if you can mutilate a woman’s genitals, pump her full of hormones, and surgically construct an appendage, which some insist is a facsimile of a penis, you can call a woman a man as a matter of “law,” and when she later gets pregnant because they apparently have not yet removed her uterus, you can print headlines that a “man is pregnant,” but she is still a she and always will be as a matter of fact and truth.

So are we at all surprised that something like “marriage” could be nevertheless treated as nothing more than moldable clay — even though it pre-existed all courts, pre-existed all government, pre-existed all organized society, and thus has a set “definition” (being the union of a man and woman), which, having not been created by government, is beyond the power or competency of government to add to or subtract from or change in any way?

God may not be dead, but man’s belief in the idea of law is gasping its last breaths.

I'm going to advise my wife, should she survive me, to marry my son and daughter to avoid the estate tax.

Balanced Needed on Same-Sex Marriages

From Pasadena Pundit

The Anchoress
A while back, I suggested that the best, healthiest and most "tolerant" way for gay marriage proponents and the churches to live together would be if the state took over the business of legalizing marriage, while the churches were left to the business of sacraments and doctrines.

Bottom line: the churches manage to perform funeral rites without signing the death certificates; they should consider performing the marriage rites without signing the licenses, thus distancing themselves from co-operative functions with the government which may open them up to lawsuits originating from and arguing a strictly secularist position.

I wrote elsewhere:

A civil union is a mere legality. It can be defined any way the state wishes, but it leaves the church out of the question of who may "legally" be married and protects her ability to bestow sacraments and practice the faith free from "discrimination" lawsuits and the inevitable punitive damages that can materially destroy her.

Depending on how the courts go, we could conceivably see this issue coming up in a lot of states, and then there will be a press for federal recognition of gay marriage. If the church does not take steps to protect herself now, by advocating this sort of separation of duties and intents, she will be spending a lot of time and money (and losing tax-free status, of course) fighting for the right to practice the faith without government interference.

In a truly "tolerant" society, churches should not be compelled to act against their own standards. But "tolerance" seems to be getting re-defined, lately as a one-way street, as this writer, Patrick McIlheran, explains (H/T Li'l Bro Thom):

The practical effect is that religions are increasingly stopped from behaving as if they believed that homosexual relationships were wrong. Believers can believe; they just can't let that belief govern their actions if it in any way impairs what is a new right to have one's homosexual relationship affirmed by the implicit social approval that comes with marriage. Under this new calculus, so much as merely declining to shoot pictures for pay amounts to an unacceptable "hatred."

And religions thus find themselves the target of the self-righteous preening of opinion-page thugs who make mendacious comparisons to interracial marriage (something both biologically different and something never theologically condemned on anything like the scale as homosexual unions), as if to suggest that the world's religions are on a moral plane with racists.

Marc D Stern of the American Jewish Congress cites numerous examples of churches seeing their rights suppressed in the interest in protecting other's rights:

* Catholic Charities in Boston and San Francisco ended adoption services altogether rather than be compelled by anti-discrimination laws to place children with same-sex couples. In the Boston case, Catholic Charities was prepared to refer same-sex couples seeking to adopt to other providers, but that was not sufficient.

* A Lutheran school in Riverside County was sued in 2005 under California's Unruh Act (which forbids discrimination by businesses) for expelling two students who allegedly were having a lesbian relationship, in contravention of the religious views of the school. The case was thrown out in Superior Court in January, but the students have appealed.

* Public school officials in Poway, Calif., so far have successfully barred students from wearing T-shirts that register their opposition to homosexuality on campus. One lawsuit made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court before being dismissed (as moot, because the students had graduated), but another federal lawsuit is pending.

In each of these cases, and other similar ones, the government has acted in some way to forbid gays and lesbians from being demeaned. But allowing same-sex couples to force religious individuals or organizations to act out of accord with their faith is not cost-free either. Their dignity is no less affected. Unless claims rooted in equal protection under the law are to sweep away claims rooted in freedom of religion, a more sensitive balancing approach is essential.

This seems to be of a piece with the growing hostility toward religion which David Bernstein notes here.

Look, logic tells you that there is NO REASON why churches, - who would, in the interests of their own credibility wish to continue believing what they have always believed and taught under the freedoms provided to them under the constitution - should be tarred with the smearing brush of "hate" and subsequently made to suffer suppression due to what is (boiled down to its basics) simply a difference of perspective. Seems to me if it is "hateful" to simply practice your faith, then it is also "hateful" to tell people that they must think as you think, or suffer the consequences.

Why is it that when people are looking for their own rights, they somehow - in making their arguments - forget that others have rights, too? Again, it's the question of being consistent. If winning a "right" is a good thing, isn't sustaining a right also a good thing?

Well, we'll see where this all leads. I'm an optimist, and I keep hoping for consistency, that the folks preaching "tolerance" will enlarge their views a little, but I don't hold out much hope. That would involve, among other things, intellectual honesty and, truthfully, some critical thinking, which we're short on these days.

Those Failed Policies of the Past

“The failed policies of the past” is code for the Democrats running against George Bush even though he’s not on the ballot.

But if McCain is smart – or can rent a brain – he would jump on that formulation and remind people day after day what the failed policies of the past really are.

Let me count the ways.
Jonah Goldberg refers to the failed energy policies that have resulted in $4 per gallon gas.

Nearly 30 years ago, Jimmy Carter’s windfall-profits tax kicked in, making domestic oil exploration more difficult and expensive. In 1981, Congress passed a moratorium on offshore drilling that has stayed in place ever since. In 1990, the first President Bush signed an executive order reinforcing the ban on coastal oil exploration. And, until this week, the current President Bush supported the ban.

And yet, no cheers for Bush when he abandoned his failed policy of the last eight years. Instead, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid sniffed that these were more of the same “old ideas.” Odd.

And when John McCain similarly reversed himself, the Democrats whistled the same tune again.

“John McCain’s plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies,” declared the Obama campaign.

Now, it’s fair to say that more drilling is the approach President Bush wanted. And it’s even defensible for Obama to call it misguided. But the salient fact is that Bush didn’t get what he wanted because he was constrained by the real failed policies of the past.

Indeed, we constantly hear we can’t drill our way to lower gas prices, but how does anybody know when we haven’t even tried?

Despite enormous improvements in extraction technology, the amount of oil produced domestically in America went down in the last eight years. It went down in the 1990s. It went down in the 1980s. In fact, it’s been trending down since the 1970s, back when Barack Obama’s “new” ideas seemed fresh coming from Jimmy Carter. Today, we produce about as much domestic oil as we did in the late 1940s, even though we keep finding, but not utilizing, more proven reserves.

That hardly sounds like a country that’s been dedicated to “drilling our way” to anything. The issue isn’t just oil. Gas prices largely hinge on refining capacity. But, as John McCain observed this week, “There’s so much regulation of the industry that the last American refinery was built when Jerry Ford was president.”

A lot has changed since Barack Obama was 13. No one knew what an iPod, e-mail address, web browser, CD, DVD, or Post-It Note was. Fax machines were cutting edge, the space shuttle was a pipe dream, and cloning was science fiction. Global cooling, not warming, was the fashionable doomsday scenario.

And yet, we act as if technology has remained frozen since the days when it made sense to “dial” a phone number.

So much for the supposedly failed policies of the past.

And what about the failed policies of the past regarding Islamofascist terrorism? Obama, believe it or not points to the arrest and trial of the “Blind Sheik” and his acolytes who were the first to bomb the World Trade Center. This, he claims, is the way we should deal with terrorists. It sure worked on 9/11 didn’t’ it? This is a position that is a softball that should be knocked out of the park.

Obama has a plan for everything, and everything he proposes has been tried and found wanting either in the United States or in other countries. And everything that he proposes is a top-down one-size-fits-all solution crafted in Washington. This is not just a failed policy of the past, it’s a failed policy of the far past; a policy that not only tells you what you can’t do but one that tells you what you must do.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Atheists and Kant; Making the Category Mistake

I have never had a better explantion of Kant's philosophy that this one by Dinesh D'Souza.
Religion has faced formidable foes in its history. But atheism hasn't generally been one of them – until today. A recent string of bestselling books has put believers of all stripes on the defensive. Religion, say authors such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, is an unreasonable form of blind faith, often leading to fanaticism and violence. Reason and science, they contend, are the only proper foundations for forming opinions and understanding the universe. Those who believe in God, they insist, are falling for silly superstitions.

This atheist attack is based on a fallacy – the Fallacy of the Enlightenment. It was pointed out by the great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant erected a sturdy intellectual bulwark against atheism that hasn't been breached since. His defense doesn't draw on sacred texts or any other sources of authority to which people of faith might naturally and rightfully turn when confronted with atheist arguments. Instead, it relies on the only framework that today's atheist proselytizers say is valid: reason. The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know – reality itself. This view says we can find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover. It holds that human reason and science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.

In his 1781 "Critique of Pure Reason," Kant showed that this premise is false. In fact, he argued, there is a much greater limit to what human beings can know. Kant showed that human knowledge is constrained not merely by the unlimited magnitude of reality but also by a limited sensory apparatus of perception.

Consider a tape recorder. It captures only one mode of reality, namely sound. Thus all aspects of reality that cannot be captured in sound are beyond its reach. The same, Kant would argue, is true of human beings. The only way we apprehend empirical reality is through our five senses. But why should we believe, Kant asked, that this five-mode instrument is sufficient? What makes us think that there is no reality that lies beyond sensory perception?

Moreover, the reality we apprehend is not reality in itself. It is merely our experience or "take" on it. Kant's startling claim is that we have no basis for assuming that a material perception of reality ever resembles reality itself. I can tell if my daughter's drawing of her teacher looks like the teacher by placing the portrait alongside the person. With my eyes, I compare the copy with the original. Kant points out, however, that comparing our experience of reality to reality itself is impossible. We have representations only, never the originals. So we have no basis for presuming that the two are even comparable. When we equate experience and reality, we are making an unjustified leap.

It is essential to recognize that Kant isn't diminishing the importance of experience. It is entirely rational for us to use science and reason to discover the operating principles of the world of experience. This world, however, is not the only one there is. Kant contended that while science and reason apply to the world of sensory phenomena, of things as they are experienced by us, science and reason cannot penetrate what Kant termed the noumena – things as they are in themselves.

Some critics have understood Kant to be denying the existence of external reality or of arguing that all of reality is "in the mind." Kant emphatically rejects this. He insists that the noumenon obviously exists because it is what gives rise to phenomena. In other words, our experience is an experience of something. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to see Kant as positing two kinds of reality: the material reality that we experience and reality itself. To many, the implication of Kant's argument is that reality as a whole is, in principle, inaccessible to human perception and human reason.

So powerful is Kant's argument here that his critics have been able to answer him only with derision, as though his arguments are self-evidently fallacious. When I challenged Daniel Dennett to debunk Kant's argument, he responded on his website by saying several people had already refuted Kant. But he didn't provide any refutations and he didn't name any names. Basically, Mr. Dennett was relying on the ignorance of the audience. In fact, there are no such refutations.

Although Kant's argument seems counterintuitive – in the way that some of the greatest ideas from Copernicus to Einstein are counterintuitive — no one who understands the central doctrines of the world's leading religions should have any difficulty grasping his main point. Kant's philosophical vision is largely congruent with the teachings of many faiths that the empirical world is not the only world. Ours is a world of appearances only, in which we see things in a limited and distorted way – "through a glass, darkly," as the apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians. The spiritual reality constitutes the only permanent reality there is. Christianity teaches that while reason can point to the existence of this higher domain, it cannot on its own fully comprehend that domain.

Thus, when Christopher Hitchens and other atheists routinely dismiss religious claims on the grounds that "what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence," they are making what philosophers like to call a category mistake. We learn from Kant that within the domain of experience, human reason is sovereign, but it is in no way unreasonable to believe things on faith that simply cannot be adjudicated by reason.

When atheists summarily dismiss such common ideas as the immortality of the soul or the afterlife on the grounds that they have never found any empirical proofs for either, they are asking for experiential evidence in a domain that is entirely beyond the reach of the senses. In this domain, Kant argues, the absence of such evidence cannot be used as the evidence for absence.

Notice that Kant's argument is entirely secular: It does not employ any religious vocabulary, nor does it rely on any kind of faith. But in showing the limits of reason, Kant's philosophy "opens the door to faith," as the philosopher himself noted.

Kant exposes the ignorant boast of atheists that atheism operates on a higher intellectual plane than theism. He shows that reason must know its limits in order to be truly reasonable. Atheism foolishly presumes that reason is in principle capable of figuring out all that there is, while theism at least knows that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and our minds can ever apprehend.

The Religious Bigotry of Academics is Explored

Blogs bring out the base in us. The medium is primarily anonymous and the people who post or comment feel freer to tell others what they think. For a good example of what academics think about Christians, the Volokh Conspiracy has demonstrated that much of the academic world is inhabited by people who are the mirror image of Fred Phelps, right down to bigoted rants. It’s very revealing, yet the participants on that website keep on exposing the rotten underbelly of academia without any apparent self-consciousness.

It’s almost like being invited to sneak a peek at a Nazi re-union where the old party members tell each other why Jews should be exterminated because science has proved they are sub-human.

Even the comments defending the right of Christians to exist do so from the perspective that they are of course wrong, but like any strange psychological or emotional quirk, they should be tolerated as long as they don’t try to do anything about their fundamental beliefs.

There are the inevitable claims that Christians would, if they could, impose a theocracy. What strange quirk of mind would consider the America of, say 1750, or 1850 or 1950 a theocracy? Yet people who appear to have been trained in the law (Volokh is a law professor and attracts a large proportion of legal eagles) seem to believe that taking American jurisprudence in those directions would the imposition of theocracy. You can ascribe this to fear, hatred, ignorance or stupidity, but this is what we find in academia today.

As a Christian, that makes ME afraid. When you are seen as a threat, it takes very little for those who see you as a threat to want to liquidate you.
There are some reasonable people who post; for example this:

Estragon, while I agree that the perceived power and organization are factors, I believe that Prof. Zywicki is closer to a more important and fundamental point. My experience has been that humans are tribal, and have a fundamental "us" vs. "them" outlook. Even in places where the population is culturally and ethnically fairly uniform, like a lot of places in Central and Eastern Europe, people will create "us" and "them" groups, and have negative views of whoever the "them" are. Not infrequently these views are clothed in some pseudo-scientific or intellectual jargon. Of course you (individually and your group) can't take ID seriously, since it's proponents ("they") are just a bunch of ignorant cretins. (And, as Mark points out, "they" have a negative opinion of "you", too).

Decision making by humans is never a wholly logical process. Dr. Temple Grandin, Ph.D (Psy), in various books and articles has described brain damage studies -- people whose decision-making and emotional centers were traumatically severed. Many of these people are quite brillant. However, they end up in analysis paralysis and unable to make even simple choices. An emotional commitment is essential to making a decision. There are also a large number of studies in psychology concluding that people usually decide on their opinions first, and then seek out or intrepret facts to support their opinions, and may seek out people who share their opinions. In trial, I never tried to convince a jury -- I let them convince themselves. My first and most important task was to establish an emotional bond between me and my client and the jurors. Thereafter, "we" explored the facts, and "we" reached a decision -- which supported "our" view -- and which view necessarily concluded that the opposing attorneys and clients were a bunch of ignorant cretins, deserving of sanction.

But many of the comments are like this:

Evangelicals and their fundamentalist brethren are to be distinguished from Jews, Mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics and particularly Mormons, Amish and Buddhists in the extent to which they continually try to force their beliefs on everybody around them. Here in Texas, we have the damnBaptists an damnMethodists who regularly force prayers, moments of silence, Ten Commandments monuments on public space, biblical science textbooks, virginity and teetotaling on all of the rest of us. As a result, Austin and Houston are the only cities where a freedom lover can survive.

You can drive hundreds of miles (literally) in Texas without the chance to buy a beer or (because of that) dine at a fine restaurant. We put up with prayers at public dances and graduations, prohibition of porn and censorship of computers at Senior Citizens activity centers.

If you ever travel in Texas outside of Austin or Houston, you will spend your time cursing the damnEvangelicals. Darwin help you if you ever get caught in Waco or the Child Protective Services ever take an interest in you. You will die and your children will be taken from you for having the wrong religion.


Having grown up around many of the proselytizing nitwits, and (at the time) having been considered to be a conservative by most of my peers and teachers, I can say that it was the self-righteous way in which evangelicals handled themselves and the willfully blind manner they treated subjects with which they disagreed which drew the most negative attention and feeling.

How will a biology professor take a student who, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, insists that the world is 6000 years old and evolution is bs? And the English teacher who gets derided for promoting abhorrent lifestyles for assigning 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' or some culturally permissive secular book?

I was very vocal about my politics in college, and never received anything but respect from my very lefty professors. But the blindly dogmatic and irrational evangelicals were not so fortunate, because, by their nature, they refused to engage in meaningful debate.

Have you ever been cornered and harangued? Apparently this one has:

Unlike other religions, evangelicalism's beliefs involve interfering with other people. It is of course bigotry to dislike people based on their religious beliefs -- unless those beliefs cause them to interfere with other people. For instance, it would not be "irrational prejudice" to have an unfavorable opinion of a person whose religious belief caused them to repeatedly crap on your lawn.

For the same reason, it's not "irrational prejudice" to have an unfavorable opinion about a person whose religious belief compels them to "evangelize" everyone else to one particular religious viewpoint.

Of course I will have an unfavorable opinion of someone who believes I'm going to hell and who wants to harrangue me until he convinces me of that fact. That's not "irrational prejudice." It's based on rational aversion to people who refuse to leave me alone to believe what I want in peace. If evangelicals didn't interfere with others, others wouldn't have such unfavorable views of them.

And here's an interesting testimony:

As an evangelical Christian who got his Ph.D. in English at a prominent Division I research university, I can vouch firsthand for the undisguised distaste expressed toward me. One of the faculty members on my committee told me he "hated fuckin' Christianity" knowing I had taught at a Baptist university before coming there to get my doctorate. All but a few were Marxist and it was so bad that a gay, Jewish atheist, who had a chaired position and was the most published member of the faculty, was hounded out of the department because he didn't meet the ideological standards of the Marxist Lesbian chairperson. Presently I teach at an evangelical university where I teach Marxist, queer, feminist, etc. theory. How many secular universities are there that teach a Christian theory of interpretation? I'm pro-life and anti-gay marriage, but who's the "liberal," methodologically speaking, they or I?

By L.A. Brave
I generally look at a religious believer the same way I look at any "true believer", whether they are a cryptozoologist, a 9-11 Truther, an antivaccine crusader, a ghost hunter, or anyone else pushing the latest pseudo-science. Part loathing, part pity, but rarely fear.

By NI:
And as an atheist, I'm not afraid of belief in God. What I am afraid of is theists trying to make this country into a theocracy. It's not that religious people want to practice their faith; it's that they want to lay the trappings of their faith on American society. It manifests itself in opposition to abortion, gay marriage, evolution, as well as in demands for school prayer and "biblical economics".

I do think belief in God is comparable to belief in unicorns. Now, imagine that unicorn-believers were politically well organized enough that laws were actually passed based on what the unicorns think is best (as expounded upon by a unicorn priesthood), and demands were made that all of us -- not just the believers -- conformed our conduct to what the priests told us the unicorns want. Imagine further that the unicorn-believers have had a near monopoly on the appointment of federal judges for eight years and basically run the Justice Department. Then perhaps you can understand what it's like to be an atheist in this culture, and why there is so much hostility directed at religious belief.

Another by L.A. Brave:
Ironic that he mentions alchemy, because it is exceedingly more plausible than the existence of a benevolent God.

Alchemy was scientific pursuit of a perfectly plausibly theory; that elements of one type could be transmuted into elements of another type. Of course, this goes on throughout the universe in burning stars, as well as in particle accelerators and nuclear reactors here in Earth. In fact, gold particles have been created in a lab.

In hindsight, the alchemists, the proto-chemists, weren't that far off. They were basically right, but had the metaphysics wrong. Moreover, much their methodology was sound and laid the foundation for modern chemistry and science as a whole. Separate the metaphysics from alchemy and it is indistinguishable from chemistry. Indeed, the very techniques of alchemy helped bring about its demise as an acceptable model for the universe.

So while the alchemists dropped their model and became proper scientists, the theologians have held fast to their 6,000 year old model of the universe, producing far less evidence for their model than the alchemists ever did.

And from Eugene Volokh:
But I take it that many irreligious people who are bewildered by others' religious beliefs aren't afraid of the beliefs so much as they find them factually unfounded — much like they would find beliefs in astrology, ghosts, werewolves, or for that matter the Greco-Roman pantheon to be factually unfounded. For that matter, I take it that even many Christian academics would disapprove, on empiricist rather than theological grounds, of those who say they believe in Zeus, Xenu, the Zodiac, or vampires. Why should we be surprised that irreligious academics would take the same view, but as to factual claims of the existence of God as well as to the other factual claims?

This is especially so as to beliefs "in the existence and beneficence of an omniscient and omnipotent God." So perhaps what Prof. Hills is seeing is more disapproval of those who are seen as unduly willing to believe in what the disapproving person sees as fairy tales, rather than disapproval of those who are seen as morally or practically threatening.

Someone living in this country, in a society immersed in religious beliefs is "bewildered" by someone professing a belief in God? Is there a real ivory tower to which academics are banished, never to be allowed to interact with real people in a real world?


A link to the Belmont Club video. Tony Rezko and Obama.

"I never said that troops should be withdrawn." Obama

Not Ready for Late Night Infomercial Time

From Powerline

Repeatedly through the campaign so far, Barack Obama has demonstrated a troubling lack of familiarity with American history, especially diplomatic history. Obama's cluelessness about diplomacy has raised troubling questions about whether he is qualified to be President. This one may have answered the question:

Democrat Barack Obama misused a "code word" in Middle East politics when he said Jerusalem should be Israel's "undivided" capital but that does not mean he is naive on foreign policy, a top adviser said on Tuesday.
Addressing a pro-Israel lobby group this month, the Democratic White House hopeful said: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Obama backed off almost immediately when Palestinians protested his remarks to AIPAC. The adviser, Daniel Kurtzer, continued:

Daniel Kurtzer, who advises Obama on the Middle East, said Tuesday at the Israel Policy Forum that Obama's comment stemmed from "a picture in his mind of Jerusalem before 1967 with barbed wires and minefields and demilitarized zones."
"So he used a word to represent what he did not want to see again, and then realized afterwards that that word is a code word in the Middle East," Kurtzer said.

I don't believe Kurtzer's explanation for a moment--why would Obama's mental picture of Jerusalem date from a time when he was five years old?--but it seems clear that, as Kurtzer says, Obama did not understand the significance of an "undivided Jerusalem."

Obama has stated with regards to terrorist bomber and close political supporter Bill Ayers that “the notion that … me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense.” So the terrorist acts that Bill Ayers committed 40 years ago when Barack Hussein Obama was eight years old are to be thrown down the memory hole. But the way that Jerusalem looked when Barack Hussein Obama was five years old have been seared, seared in his brain. And that was the image that drove his speech.

Right ... pull the other one.

Same-Sex Marriage and Immoral SUVs

Worth pondering

Allow me to show you a couple of mental snapshots. First imagine a picture of a family in a modern SUV. Mom and dad up front with three kids in the back, safely secured with their seat belts on. That’s snapshot number one. Now, imagine two men dressed in tuxedos embracing and kissing at their wedding ceremony. Both are wearing flowers in their lapels and a beaming clergyman is standing behind them having just pronounced them “husband and husband.” That’s snapshot number two. Now, hold these pictures in front of you and ask yourself this question: Which of these represents an immoral action? According to much of our culture today—the immoral picture is number one—that of the family in the SUV. Ridiculous, you say?

A recent editorial by Thomas Friedman which was carried by the New York Times clearly makes the case that selling and/or driving a “gas guzzler” has indeed become a major moral issue. Commenting on an automotive industry incentive program to entice customers to buy their products, Friedman declared this “the moral equivalent of tobacco companies offering discounted cigarettes to teenagers.” Think Friedman is alone? Princeton’s Peter Singer has written that SUV drivers kill more people than the 9/11 terrorists. Arianna Huffington has compared SUV drivers to terrorists. This thinking is further evidenced within evangelicalism: Richard Cizik, vice president for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals has stated numerous times that Christians will experience the wrath of God if they don’t get on the environmental bandwagon—which would include abandoning those horrible SUVs! For Cizik and the growing “Creation Care” movement within evangelicalism, the Green Movement is not only moral, it’s spiritual. Sadly, a large portion of our population would agree that the family in the SUV is committing an immoral action, even many in the evangelical community.

Back to our two snapshots—the family in a large vehicle and the homosexuals at their “wedding.” What if we could place these two pictures in our pocket and jump into a time machine? What if we asked the machine to transport us back just 40 years?—a tiny journey in light of human history. We step out of our machine and begin asking people on the street about our two pictures. We show them to various individuals, from different walks of life, then ask the question: Which of these pictures represents an “immoral activity? Can you imagine the response? Time after time, you would be asked, “Are you serious?” Some would simply laugh at you for asking such an absurd question. “A mom and dad with their kids driving in a large automobile—immoral? Are you sure you have the right two pictures?” After the laughter and incredulity, almost all would point to the picture of the two men and state with absolute clarity that there is something definitely wrong and unnatural about that picture.

There is a verse in the Bible that comes to mind: “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14). It’s a prophetic utterance of a time when judgment would be turned inside out and backward. Right would be wrong, wrong would be right and truth would be the victim, having “stumbled in the streets.” It would seem we are there. At the same times as the New York Times was implying that anyone driving an SUV is committing an immoral act, they were praising the new age of freedom being ushered in by the California rush of same-sex marriages. In other words, the mainstream media has placed their own captions on our two pictures. The happily married mother and father with their kids in the SUV is labeled “shameful.” The two men involved in what God calls and abomination is labeled “wonderful.” Is it possible for our world to become any more upside down and backward? Sadly, yes.

Take another look at our two snapshots and the captions that our society has placed on both of them. Now, ask yourself this question: Is this really the way it’s supposed to be?


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Virginian Pilot Echos Obama On Oil, and Exposes Itself Again As Not Just a Tool But A Stupid One

Pravda was a beacon of journalistic truth and technical prowess compared with the Virginian Pilot

When you combine arrogance, bias and stupidity in a single package you have the editorial writers for the Virginian Pilot.

Today’s proof, boys and girls is the editorial page which has on it two editorials that are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. The first, No easy answers for high gas prices, proves that the editors are not only clueless about why prices are high but freely admit that they have no idea what to do … except offer platitudes. Let’s get to their answer first:
We all know the simplest and cheapest solution to high gas prices is to use less and conserve more, and work like the dickens to find something else on which to base the economy to begin a real shift to alternatives like nuclear and biofuels and solar and wind.

For the rest of the editorial they spout the Obama talking points which are too tiresome to relate, except this one which is not only wrong, but spectacularly wrong:

Even if we could extract every ounce in ANWR, it would lower oil prices by only 1 or 2 percent. The impact on gas prices would be even smaller - a few measly pennies.

Where did they get this? Well, it’s what Messiah Obama said on his campaign plane.
And it’s what Leftist hack Juan Cole has on his website.
And its’ what the Wilderness Society has on its website.
Who claims to have gotten it from a model created by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) who has created a computer model which presumes to tell the effect of drilling in ANWR 10 to 20 years from now.

Not so many years ago, we had a joke that went like this: “It must be true, it’s written on computer paper.” (If you’re too young to remember computer paper, think about it.)

But like all statistics and models this one does not pass the smell test.
Why? Well, think about this: why has the price of crude oil doubled in the last year. Yes, that’s right: the price of crude has doubled!
Has the supply dropped by 50%? Has the demand increased by 100%? How do the EIA models and the Wilderness society and Juan Cole and the numbskulls who waste out precious trees putting out the Virginian Pilot explain this amazing price rise?

They don’t.

But here’s the answer: the price of a barrel of oil is not set, in the short term, by supply and demand. It’s set by traders in the futures market. All the major producers and consumers of oil buy and sell oil based on the prices set by the futures market. Ain’t you amazed?

To make it simple, imagine that you have a million barrels of oil in your garage. You bought it a few years ago at $50 a barrel. Somebody comes along and offers you $100 a barrel, cash on the spot. Would you sell?
Of course not!
Because you can get a trader in the futures market to pay you $134 per barrel - right now - (this morning’s price) if you deliver it to him in August. All you have to do is leave in in your garage for a few months. So you see, the “spot” price for oil ( the price someone who wants it right now) is determined by the “futures” price of oil (the price you can get for it for future delivery).

And that’s what the Virginian Pilot idiots never learned in journalism and creative writing classes.

So where does all this lead?
Well, how do you get people to reduce the price at which they will pay for oil in the future? Very simple (so simple, even a J-school grad can understand), you increase the future supply. This scares the crap out of people who are paying $134 for oil delivered in the future because someone could be undercutting them then.
Remember this, the futures market is made up of producers, consumers and speculators. It’s the speculators who have driven the price to these heights. But speculators neither need not want the actual oil; they want to make money on the change in price. Scare them by showing an increase in supply, and you will have $70 dollar a barrel of oil again before you can turn the key in you Prius.
Later I’ll be writing about the second editorial which praises Messiah Obama about his speech on black fathers. Not a word on the Pilot about his flip-flop on funding his campaign.