Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, February 28, 2005

Bloggers: Lab Mice & Garbage Trucks

Despite Patterico's recent advise to journalists that they just think of bloggers as "readers," Jon Friedman of Market Watch admits that bloggers frighten him:
Sure, they scurry around the outskirts of journalism like lab mice and can make more noise than a garbage truck at 6 a.m. Still, the question persists: Are they truly journalists -- or just amateur commentators?
Just what is a journalist, truly, Jon? You mention in your lead that you're not sure whether you can "completely trust [bloggers] to be accurate or comprehensive or analytical or, especially, fair." Well, if we could trust you and your j-school buds to be accurate, comprehensive, analytical or, especially, fair, we wouldn't have much to blog about.

What exactly is Jon afraid of? Besides losing the relevance of his job, I mean. Here it is:
The danger is that bloggers are going to embrace the worst aspects of tabloids. That means, as the saying goes, they'll throw their content against a wall, and if it sticks, they'll publish it, no matter how wild or trivial it might be.
The greater danger is that people will lose their minds, and no longer be able to discriminate between what they want to read, what they don't want to read, who they want to trust, and who they don't want to trust. The fundamental problem with Friedman's thesis is that it is written by someone who apparently doesn't believe in the intelligence of the people and the free-wheeling competition of the marketplace. A trait that is all too common among the liberal reporters who draw their paychecks from MSM.

The looney blogs will attract a few looney readers. The trustworthy blogs with proven dependability and relevance will dominate.

Is Bush Finessing or Appeasing?

AP reports that President Bush is considering joining Europe in an incentives-based approach to de-nuking Iran:
President Bush is considering joining European leaders in offering economic incentives to Iran in exchange for abandoning its nuclear fuel program, but he has no timetable for a decision, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday.

The Bush administration has opposed any rewards for Tehran's cooperation. During the president's trip overseas last week, European leaders urged him to join them in offering incentives such as possible membership at some time for Iran in the World Trade Organization.

This may not be mamby-pamby waffling at all. It is more likely an incentive to the people in Iran who want to follow their Lebanese brothers to take to the streets and demand democracy and freedom. After all, it's easy for the Mullahs to have an iron fist, and easier for the people to grudgingly support them, if there's a fear that US troops are poised to crush them like a Saddamroach under their heel.

Bush may be thinking that dialing back that threat will remove one more obstacle to the spread of the peaceful revolution he initiated by removing Saddam and bringing free elections to Iraq.

Mom and the State of Fear

Just below, I posted a question about whether government needs to keep us in a state of fear, and whether it uses the PLM forces -- political, legal, media -- to accomplish its ends. I also noted that it seemed to work on my inside-the-beltway-liberal Mom.

Well, she just e-mailed to say she's leaving the inner ring to move way out, to Hawaii. Included in her e-mail was this statement, that may just justify the PLM theory:
Also, being in Washington is stressful – with this administration, and this president, we are in a constant state of distress and concern for the future of our country and its citizens as well as our relations with other countries. Here [in Hawaii], with so many positive things, our agony will be diluted.
Watch out, Palm Tree Pundit, a gloom cloud (very charming and witty, but gloomy nonetheless) is heading your way.

Never Underestimate the Stupidity ...

The American TV-viewing public showed it didn't listen to pundits last night. Amid predictions of Oscar doom, based on the low boxoffice of the nominated films and concerns about Chris Rock as a poor choice for host (concerns he fully justified), it was a good night for the Academy and ABC:
The Oscars' 30.1 rating in Nielsen Media Research's 56 top markets was a slight 1 percent improvement over last year's comparable number, and the highest-rated Academy Awards in the metered markets since 2000. The rating is an estimate that nearly 33 million households were tuned in.

Nationwide viewership totals were to become available later Monday.

Last year's Oscars were seen by 43.5 million people, a sharp 32 percent increase over 2003. Considering the ominous signs of ratings declines for the Golden Globes and Grammys this year, the numbers left ABC executives pleased.

"Obviously, Chris Rock as host had an impact in the resurgence of the numbers," said Larry Hyams, vice president of audience analysis and research at ABC.
Another way to read this, of course, is the Rock and ABC failed to replicate last year's viewership growth. Will ABC be happy with lackluster growth and, reportedly, many, many complaints? Probably, because for the lost, just not falling over a cliff is a good outcome.

It will be interesting to see if the small (red state) markets follow the major market trend. It will also be interesting to see the "tune out" rate as the telecast progressed through the night.

Rather: "What Bias? What Forgery?" Redux

Writing in today's USA Today, Peter Johnson prefaces a New Yorker interview due out today. It seems for all his news smarts, Rather's just not able to get to the bottom of this story:

... Rather ... is puzzled that the media did not play up the fact that the panel found no political bias, as his critics contended, in his controversial 60 Minutes story last fall that questioned President Bush's National Guard service during Vietnam.

Rather says he also is puzzled that the media downplayed the panel's inability to prove that memos used to support Rather's story were forged.
Unbelievable. A mea culpa was all it would have taken to save himself and perhaps CBS, but he still refuses. In fact, he's learned nothing at all:
"if I had to move this afternoon on a big story, one that had the potential of being controversial, I'd be very happy to go on that story with the same people, each and every one."
Good thing he won't get another chance.

The Race Against Death

As Iraq reels between good news -- Syria finally overcoming denials and turning over harbored Baathists -- and bad -- 115 police recruits dead in a massive blast in Hillah -- it seems like the death throes of the insurgency are being witnessed. Intelligence capabilities are increasing, behind-the-scenes arm-twisting has grown more effective in Syria and elsewhere since the election, and al-Zarqawi finds himself increasing isolated, and increasingly dependent on recruits from as far away as Somalia and Europe.

In the same LATimes story linked above quotes Prime Minister Allawi in The Wall Street Journal today, saying Iraq "will continue to need and to seek assistance for some time to come."

As al-Zarqawi continues to become ever more reprehensible, as the people of Iraq continue to turn away from him and towards Democracy, that help must be forthcoming. This is no time for Teddy Kennedy and timelines; it is a time for complete commitment.

Is There A State of Fear?

Can government work if the people are happy, unthreatened, and unafraid? Or will comfort lead to complacency, an unwillingness to fund government, and the failure of government?

Certainly, the threat of 9/11 made government work. There was focus, funding and effectiveness for a period of time, and even now after a divisive national election, anti-terror programs tend to pass and be funded, and government can say it's working. The same is true of the Cold War, World War II, the Great Depression, and the more recent environmental scrare decades.

Michael Crichton, in State of Fear, says government needs to maintain a state a fear among the public and work through the PLM system -- political, legal and media -- to maintain it. Further, he says that the evidence is in the history: No sooner did the Cold War end and an era of fear with it, than did a quintupling of use of the word "catastrophe" occur in environmental stories. The environment wasn't catastrophic as long as the Ruskies posed a threat, but once there was a vacuum, alar, dioxin, and global warming stepped -- or were pushed forward -- in to fill it.

I see evidence of PLM-induced fear in my inside-the-beltway-liberal mother, who really does think the world will end soon. Global warming, a trigger-happy cowboy in the White House, the alienation of old allies, a doomed economy, who knows what all, have given her a very negative view of the future. She is a sap for expensive government programs, like the UN and the Kyoto treaty ... so is Crichton right? Do the powers that be have her right where they want her?

I prefer a more optimistic view of the world, but there are the power-hungry, the people-using, the greedy, all of whom would in fact benefit if there were a PLM system behind the curtain, running the show.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Blog You Later!

The Beloved Betrothed and I are off for our long-delayed anniversary getaway. We marked our 22nd year together on October 30, but haven't had a chance to celebrate it until this weekend. (Hint to not-yet-marrieds: Don't get married around Halloween; trick-or-treating will mess up your anniversary for years!)

I've got this little feeling that BB will enoy my company more if I'm not blogging, so unless I get an unexpected chance, there won't be much new here anytime soon.

Four Inches from the Top

At 33.87 inches of rain so far this season, So Cal is just 4.31 inches from the total rainfall of the historic record rainy season of 1883-84. And how were things in that year?
"The sight was pitiable in the extreme. Men, women and children were wading in the water, carrying their valuables on their backs and pale with terror, wondering what horror would come next."

That report, from the now defunct Los Angeles Herald, is part of an LA Times story that chronicles those days. Weather buffs and historians will want to read on here.

Only Two Options at Harvard

In its Larry Summers story this morning, the LATimes asks the question:
But what remains unclear after a month of mounting furor is whether Summers, 50, has been left weakened or transformed.

Are those really the only two options: that Summers' back be broken for suggesting that there might be biological differences between men or women, or that he accept the PC position?

Isn't there an option that would call for the Harvard staff to accept reality? That their response says more about sexism and denial than his comment?

Left of Liberal

IMAO has the top ten indicators you may be left of liberal, starting with:

10. You never could throw your full support behind John Kerry once you found out his first name is found in the Bible, of all places.

... and continuing here.

Friday, February 25, 2005


McClellan or Grant? How about Sherman?

I only suggest this because the display of brutal power into the heart of the beast -- make that the Beast, because this is a moral battle -- is called for in the name of the 6 million unborn who are lost because of liberal revisionist judges, and the untold millions to follow, unless the courts are turned around.

This is a battle that is being played out on many specious fields. Senate rules. Tradition. The right of the small state Senator to be heard. The right of the minority party to not be inconsequential. They are all a charade. The single issue is the Democratic Party's undying defense of the culture of death and its rock-solid refusal to accept any weakening of abortion laws.

Contrast this to the Dems' clumsy efforts to adapt a language of morality. We hear that fighting poverty is moral, that maintaining the Social Security status quo is moral, probably that subsidizing public transit is moral. They aren't. They are policies. Whether the created will be allowed to be born or not -- that is morality, not policy.

For the GOP response to be somewhere between Grant and Sherman, it will require not only forcing the rules change, but also dominating the language of the debate: This must be about the Dems' litmus tests on abortion, not procedures and traditions. Frist must say he's moving the nuclear option because it's the option that stops the abortion litmus test in its tracks and forces the Senate to look at the complete CV, not just the D&C.

Perchlorate Again -- But Funny!

Hat tip to Best of the Web for this:

This Ain't Rocket Science
"A toxic component of rocket fuel has been found in breast milk of women in 18 states and store-bought milk from various locations around the country," reports "The chemical, perchlorate, can impede adult metabolism and cause retardation in fetuses, among other things."

Just one question: Since when do fetuses drink milk?

Suspected Terror Cash Source Shut

The Lebanon-based Arab Bank, target of multiple post-9/11 lawsuits alleging it funded terrorists, has been put out of the money laundering business, at least in the US:
U.S. regulators said Friday that Arab Bank PLC, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, has inadequate controls against money laundering at its New York branch and has been ordered to stop transferring funds or opening new accounts there.

In an unusual move, the Office of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, a Treasury Department agency, said the branch was being converted into an entity that will not conduct traditional banking activities but will continue to engage in corporate and trade financing.

Arab Bank has branches in 27 countries in addition to the US, so this blockade of laundering at its only US branch will mean little unless other nations follow suit -- starting with Europe, one hopes.

Debunking Nutty Numbers

A reader of my most recent perchlorate rant (where has that bandwagon gone off to?) suggested I forward my perchlorate posts to Number Watch and ask for the purveyor's take on it, which I have.

Purveyor John Brignell, a professor emeritus in the Department of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton, has quite a little operation going at Number Watch. A little Chaucer, a little debunking, all quite witty, valid and delightful. Here's Prof. Brignell's description:
All about the scares, scams, junk, panics, and flummery cooked up by the media, politicians, bureaucrats, so-called scientists and others who try to confuse you with wrong numbers.
This weekend, spend some time with Number Watch. You'll enjoy it.

Gannon? How about Nover? Davis?

In a funny and informative piece that deserved page one but got the bottom of A-18, LATimes reporter Johanna Neuman dissects the Gannon story in a new light; she asks, what's the definition of a White House journalist anyway?

Neuman starts by pointing out that neither the media nor government want to, or dare to, define what a journalist is, then she lets us know it was liberals, not GOP fans like Gannon, that forced the issuance of the now notorious day press passes:
Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said in an interview that he created day passes in response to a federal court decision in the late 1970s requiring the White House to admit all journalists unless the Secret Service deemed them threats to the president or his immediate family.

The lawsuit involved Robert Sherrill of the Nation, who was denied a press pass on the Secret Service's recommendation because, it turned out, he had punched out the press secretary to the governor of Florida.
Seems like a good reason to deny close access to the President, but that logic apparently didn't convince Sherrill.

Most interesting is Neuman's recounting of some of the others, besides Gannon and Sherrill, who have been "passed:"
  • Naomi Nover of the Nover News Service apparently had no published work, but a "coif of white hair [that] somewhat resembled George Washington's wig." On a Reagan trip to China, she got through Chines security by showing guards a U.S. dollar bill as evidence of how important she was.
  • "Lester Kinsolving, a conservative radio commentator, wore a clerical collar to White House briefings in the Reagan years. His loud voice and off-beat, argumentative questions often provoked laughter."
  • "Citizen journalist" Sarah McLendon worked for a string of small newspapers in Texas. She was unafraid to blast government bureaucrats, and was often called on by Clinton when he wanted to change the subject or lighten things up.
  • Evelyn Y. Davis covers the White House for a publication with perhaps less credibility than the now-defuct Talon News Servcie, her own corporate newsletter, "Highlights and Lowlights."
(Oh, and yes, they're still delivering the LAT to me. Interestingly, while the print edition downplayed the story, it is displayed more prominently in the online edition, as the lead "Nation" pick on the Home Page. Are they marketing to bloggers?)

Summers and the Ward-of-the-State

This is from an editorial in Wednesday's WashTimes. You may have already seen it, but even so, it'll be a good reminder of just how whacky academia has become:
Should Mr. Summers retain his position as president -- and he should -- the entire fiasco may have represented the high-water mark of liberal-dominated political correctness. Even if Mr. Summers is forced out, people who had never given a second thought to academia will immediately wonder why their child's professor or university defended Ward Churchill, but attacked Mr. Summers. The liberal academic's mind has been revealed to be closed. The end of such a mentality will be a long time in coming, but perhaps we have just witnessed the beginning of the end.
Wishful thinking ... but, hey, let's join them in wishing for it!

Good News for Pantano

USMC 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, charged with killing two Iraqis while on a military operation in Iraq, got some good suporting testimony today:
An eyewitness to the killing of two Iraqis by Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano says in a sworn statement that the officer, who has been charged with murder, twice ordered the insurgents to stop in Arabic before opening fire, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times.
Read on at the WashTimes.

LA Times Not Thrilled With Itself

In an editorial this morning, the LATimes understands Hollywood's concerns that would let consumers delete violence, profanity and sex from films that deliberately exceed mainstream norms:
Hollywood is not amused, and we understand its concerns. Certainly we wouldn't be thrilled if it became a fad for households to cut up, shrink and rearrange their copy of the Los Angeles Times every morning. But this is a losing battle.
Funny. Here's what the LAT subscription department said to me, after I finally cancelled my subscription in disgust:
LAT: Do you enjoy the business, sports and calendar coverage in the Times?

CSM: No, not particularly. Why?

LAT: Well, if you would still like to still receive those parts of the paper, we can deliver them to you without the news sections.

CSM: [thunderstruck silence]
As they say, they're fighting a losing battle as long as they continue to reflect their own narrow view and not the morals and politics of the mainstream.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Ruud Farewell

Ruud Lubbers said farewell to his staff at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees today. Among his parting comments:
"I saw a lot of misery during my time as High Commissioner, but a lot of wonderful things as well."
The misery of the woman you are alleged to have made unwanted sexual moves on, Ruudy boy?

For all its failures dealing with war, tyrants and repression, the UN has done good with refugees, so it's a shame Lubbers tarnished the reputation of that agency.

Sevan Misses UN Deadline

Must take a long time to justify stealing money intended for starving Iraqis ... from today's UN press briefing:
As you know, yesterday was the deadline for Benon Sevan and Joseph
Stephanides to respond to the charge letters that had been sent to them two
weeks ago. Mr. Sevan sent a letter to the Office of Human Resources
Management requesting an extension before replying in detail to the charge
letter. That request is being considered. Joseph Stephanides did
respond to the charge letter. His response will now be reviewed according to
normal procedures before any action is taken.

New UN Rape Allegations

Crossing the Atlantic to a country that is even more desperate than their other hunting grounds, UN Peacekeepers are now accused of rape in Haiti.

A UN news release says that the three Pakistani Peacekeepers engaged in prostitution, not rape, but the woman alleges that she was raped last Friday by the peacekeepers in Gonaïves, a port town in western Haiti.

The UN says the Peacekeepers will be disciplined for violating the UN's new "no contact" policy.

On the Perchlorate Bandwagon

As could be expected, Boxstein (our CA senators) are all riled up about perchlorate. Who would blame them, given the coordinated hysteria launch so expertly executed by the greens and their MSM friends yesterday? (here and here)

A University of Texas study found the chemical (a left-over from rocket production and other aerospace fun) in mother's breast milk basically everywhere. Since it's believed perchlorate can impair iodine absorption, and since a lack of iodine might affect the thyroid and hence the brain, maybe we should be riled up. Maybe it explains the rising tide of stupidity the Left seems to think caused the Bush victory.

Or maybe not. Some questions:
  • The heyday of perchlorate production and pollution was the 1950s through early 1980s, in the aerospace boom years. Wouldn't perchlorate levels have been even higher then, and is there any evidence that those levels caused any human health damage?
  • We've got over 50 years of history here. Is there any evidence of an increase in poorly developed brains over that period?
  • If it's in breast milk everywhere, how did it get there? Are we supposed to accept that it got there from irrigation water on crops, without asking how it got into water everywhere if there weren't rocket production facilities everywhere?
  • Do we know what perchlorate levels were before the aerospace boom?
That last one's the kicker. My guess is that they were about the same, and that the salts that are measured as evidence of perchlorate in the human body can come from other sources.

Like all greenie hysteria, this latest doom-frenzy fails to answer two questions:
  1. If everything's cleaner now than it was in 1970, thanks to the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, why is this a problem now?
  2. With all these crises threatening our health, why is it we continue to live longer, and live healthy for more years before the onset of the late-life disease?
It certainly seems we should have solid answers for all these questions before spending the $200 million that Feinstein's going to ask for.

And that raises a final question: Is it just a coincidence that Feinstein's got a bill already in the works, or is it all part of the magestically orchestrated perchlorate panic campaign?

There. I think I'm off this bandwagon now.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Historically Challenged European Anti-Bush Rally (Reuters)

This photo was taken at an anti-Bush rally on the first day of the President's trip to Europe. It reminds me of the childhood game where you had to find ten things wrong in a picture. I'll start!
  1. Why isn't there a sign that says "France 1944"?
  2. How about one that says "Berlin 1948"?
  3. "Afghanistan 1998" -- one stinkin' cruise missile? How about "Afghanistan 2002" -- now that was an intervention!
  4. "Irak 1991"? You were OK with Saddam going for all the world's oil?
  5. I wish we had been in Sudan in 1998.
  6. Why are there so many women with head scarves and Arab-looking men in the picture?
  7. And since there are so many Arabs, what's the problem with the US intervention on your side in Yugoslavia (quaint name) in 1999?

Dances With Wingnuts

Yesterday at the University of Hawaii, Ward-of-the-State Churchill said:
"The malignancy of Eichmann is that anyone could be a Nazi, could do the same thing. That's the truly horrifying aspect of it. If you embrace the system, you are not innocent. You may not be singularly responsible, but you are not innocent." (Hat tip Palm Tree Pundit)
I'm really not interested in what Churchill has to say about America; I am very interested, however, in his opinion on what system can be embraced with innocence. Stalinism? Communism? Terrocricy? Socialism? Amoral to immoral European social democracy?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

NYT's Sulzberger on Blogs

At a stop at the Poynter Institute in St. Pete, NYTimes Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said bloggers -- which the St. Pete Times defined as "Internet-based commentators and watchdogs" -- have increased scrutiny on journalists' accuracy and evenhandedness in an era of growing pressures to deliver quicker-than-ever turnaround of news and perspective.

Is it working? I don't think so:

On the charge of liberal bias, Sulzberger laughed. "I hear more complaints that the newspaper is in the pocket of the Bush administration than that it is too liberal," he said.

And that says worlds about the fact that liberals are liberals because they surround themselves with liberals.

Here's the full story.

More Scientology Foolishness

I recently posted on a TV star who's battling Thetans on behalf of scientology. Now the Scientology drug awareness program, which is offered in many California schools, is being called on the carpet by California's education chief. From the SacBee:

California's top education official urged all California schools to drop the Narconon anti-drug education program after an evaluation released Wednesday found it taught inaccurate and unscientific information. ...

The Chronicle reported that Narconon taught that drug residues remain indefinitely in body fat, causing people to experience repeated flashbacks and cravings - a belief also held by the Church of Scientology.

Some teachers also reported that Narconon instructors told students that the body can sweat out drug residues in saunas, and that as drugs exit the body, they produce colored ooze, the Chronicle reported.

And the State Supe is just urging that they not be allowed in schools ... urging?! Hey, Palm Tree Pundit, here's one more reason to homeschool!

LATimes On Perchlorate Post

Marla Cone responded to my earlier post. Email #1:
Dear Laer,
The panel of the National Academy of Sciences has ruled on the scientific data related to perchlorate, and I quote them.
This is not anything like alar, since the levels found in dairy milk and mother's milk exceed the levels that the NAS said would cause effects. My story specifically says that, so your claims that there is no perspective in the article are unfounded.
Your Nebraska information is off-point. The NAS relied on human data, not animal tests, to base its reference dose. Scientists concluded that perchlorate effects iodide uptake at levels like those found in breast milk. I include contrary scientific opinions when they are informed and relevant. Read the Texas Tech report and you will see that it is accurately reported.
E-mail #2, responding to my response:
You specifically said the story lacks perspective about the levels found in breast milk. It does not. You should correct that. And as far as credible scientific dispute of the findings, I could not find anyone yesterday. Everyone I talk to refers to the NAS study.
I'm not saying perchlorate is safe or the Texas Tech studies are flawed. I'm not a reporter, and I don't have chemical companies as clients, anyway. What I am saying is that I am critical of stories that fail to provide alternative viewpoints or a context for the data and the data sources. I may have been off on my Nebraska Med Center cite -- it was just the first Google click, after all -- but, that doesn't mean there aren't good sources or valid questions.

It's interesting that she thinks that by providing data on the parts per billion measured vs. the parts per billion deemed as safe she thinks she is providing context on the meaning of the data. She is not. The fact that we can measure a compound's presence more and more accurately does not alter the effect of the compound on the human body. The levels set by agencies as "safe" are meaningless unless we know what happens at the set level, or at a higher level. Typically, the answers are "nothing" and "nothing we can identify with any certainty at all."

The fact that Marla couldn't find any contrarian view is more a reflection on her Rolodex than on the validity of the story. If MSM environmental reporters courted industry sources as aggressively as they courted environmental and regulatory sources, they would know many people with credentials, credibility and contrarian views.

My post was not about perchlorate; it was about the chummy relationship between environmentalists and environmental beat reporters. Marla quoted two environmental groups in her story; both of their Web sites lead today with the perchlorate study. (here and here) This is not a coincidence; it is evidence of a concerted PR push by the environmental media, and the MSM's willingness to be used by them in that push, whistling merrily along the way. In my experience, they do not do the same with an industry effort of equal or greater validity.

Discover the (Leftist) Network Launched

There's a new Web site conservatives will want to bookmark, Discover The Network, from David Horowitz. It defines itself as:
Welcome to DiscoverTheNetwork. This site is a "Guide to the Political Left." It identifies the individuals and organizations that make up the left and also the institutions that fund and sustain it; it maps the paths through which the left exerts its influence on the larger body politic; it defines the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas and it provides an understanding of its history and ideas.
Hat tip to Okie on the Lam.

Mind & Media

Fellow OC blogger Stacy Harp has launched Mind & Media. The first offerings are interesting, so this is one you'll probably want to bookmark if you're interested in the interface between faith and society.

Perchlorate: The New Alar?

Today's LATimes story by enviro-sensationalist Marla Cone on perchlorate has all the hallmarks of the greens' earlier waltz with Alar. Alar, as you recall, was greenie-hyped as industrial doom, devastating the apple economy for a season before the hype popped and sanity settled in, much to the dismay of Meryl Streep and other conned celebrities.

Cone's story reports on "high" levels of perchlorate in mother's milk but:
  • The data, which comes from a Texas Tech study, is commented upon only by groups with a clear environmental agenda like the Environmental Working Group, whose Web site headlines today with an article on the story. Cone probably got the story from EWG, not Texas Tech. EWG's agenda is so propagandistic that petitions have been filed with the IRS, demanding that its nonprofit status be withdrawn. Among its sponsors is the Heinz Family Fund, and the Joyce Foundation, which also has had an IRS petition filed against its tax-free status for violating IRS code against propaganda. Cone shares none of this information with her readers.

  • While the Texas Tech study shows perchlorate levels are higher than set standards in certain areas, Cone makes no effort to put the risk involved with that finding into context. In the Alar case, a child would have to eat 20,000 apples a day to get cancer from Alar. That sort of context is needed here.

  • Cone quotes no alternative points of view in the article. Just as her colleague Elizabeth "So Green" Shogren does, Cone quotes only environmentalist activists and activist regulators. She's content with telling her readers half a story. There is always another side. With perchlorate, I found it within two Google-clicks, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Web site:

    Scientists concluded that the neonatal rat brain analysis in a key animal study was conducted in a manner that rendered the rat brain data unreliable for concluding that perchlorate adversely affects the development of the central nervous system.

    "It is the firm opinion of panel members that theses studies allow us to draw no conclusions with respect to the effects of perchlorate on rats," said Harold L. Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of medicine at the University of California-Irvine and an expert in thyroid hormones who spoke for the scientific panel. "We recommend setting them aside and conducting new studies."

    A separate panel of independent scientists who examined recent animal behavior studies on perchlorate also recommended these studies not be used for estimating perchlorate’s effects on the developmental central nervous system. While noting the studies were carried out professionally and competently, the scientific experts offered seven specific criticisms of the studies' design.

    "These experiments are inadequate in demonstrating significant risks from exposure to perchlorate, and likewise they failed to demonstrate the absence of risks," said Sam Sanderson, Ph.D., a UNMC professor who facilitated the module and presented the expert panel's results. "The results are invalid and the conclusions of these studies should not be used in any way."

That's good information intelligent people need to make informed decisions -- and it's just the sort of information the environmental reporting staff at LAT systemically keeps from their readers.

LATimes' Vision Further Out Of Focus

There's encouraging news of demonstrations throughout the Mideast, as citizens say they'd rather have a "flawed" election Iraqi style than a flawed repressive autocracy (just read Captain's Quarters -- he's got lots of items on the subject).

Of course this is no time for Pollyannas, but it is a time for hope -- unless, of course, you're the international news editor at the LATimes. Then you work hard to create a front page story that's as gloomy as possible:
U.S.' Prewar Visions Get Further Out of Focus
By Patrick J. McDonnell and Paul Richter, Times Staff Writers

BAGHDAD — Two years ago, as the U.S. planned to march into Baghdad, many in the Bush administration had a vision for Iraq's first freely elected government in decades. It would be a pro-U.S. regime that would support American military bases, embrace U.S. businesses and serve as a model for democracy in the region.

Now as Ibrahim Jafari seems certain to become Iraq's new prime minister, the U.S. faces the prospect of dealing with a government whose views may be closer to Tehran's than to Washington's. And U.S. officials are left wondering how many of their assumptions will prove true. ...

... some Iraqis and foreign observers note that Jafari heads Iraq's oldest Islamist party, and they worry he will seek to impose a more religious government than he lets on. They note that he has been lukewarm to the U.S. presence in Iraq and has said he would like to see U.S. troops withdraw once Iraqi forces are trained.
Another way McDonald and Richter could have said the last sentence is, "Jafari supports the same exit strategy the President supports." But they didn't, and more importantly, they should have taken a closer look at what it could mean to have a Shi'ite prime ministerof a free and democratic Iraq next door to the nuke-building Mullahs.

If I'm a repressed Iranian, am I more likely to say, "Let's make Iraq like Iran," or "Let's make Iran like Iraq?" The latter, of course. Jafari says he recognizes the unique ethnoreligious make-up of Iraq and will honor it, which means an Iranian theocracy won't be coming any time soon to Baghdad -- and each day it doesn't, opposition to Tehran's mullahs will grow.

The LAT tries to draw comparisons between Jafari and Khomeni, but they can offer nothing substantive, while there is considerable evidence to the contrary, including this, which the LAT shares with us, but doesn't persue at all, content to follow more negative bunny trails: "Jafari and other Shiite leaders have noted the Arab character of their slate and say they resent the second-class treatment of Arabs in Iran, which has a Persian majority."

Things could still to terribly wrong, with Iraq sliding into the chaos of civil war, snuffing out the spark of freedom that is now glowing in Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Syria and Palestine. But every day, the trend is positive. What a drag for the nabobs of negativity at the LAT, NYT and WaPo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Nancy Reid and Harry Pelosi?

Tuesday's Best of the Web Today included the following two sentences on Hilliary:
She's charismatic when compared with Nancy Reid and Harry Pelosi. She's charming when compared with Barbara Boxer and Howard Dean.
So why not Barbara Dean and Howard Boxer?

And really, isn't Hilliary conservative, when compared to Teddy McDermott and Jim Kennedy?

And isn't she a party faithful when compared to Zell McCain and John Miller?

And not from Maine, when compared to Susan Snowe and Olympia Collins?

And (thinking dark thoughts) if elected, would she be more like Teddy Roosevelt or Franklin Delano Roosevelt? OK, that one didn't work.

Is Kofi On The Way Out?

High level, tightly controlled press corps, like the White House or UN press corps, are a quick-to-speculate group, always grubbing theories like a truffle hog grubs 'shrooms. So this exchange is offered with caveats as to its relationship to reality, but every once in a while, they do find a truffle.

The rumor: Kofi's about to be replaced by Mark Malloch Brown. The exchange with the press and Kofi's spokesperson, Fred Eckhard:
Question: Fred, were you surprised that your resignation has been accepted or were you expecting it? I hear it’s mainly due to a conflict in styles with Mark Malloch Brown?

: No, it had nothing to do with a conflict withMark Malloch Brown. I wanted to give the Secretary-General the option of making a change now. With the arrival of Mark, of course, there is already a noticeable change in how we handle our communications.

Was I surprised? I think I was relieved. And I think the Secretary-General has a very good instinctive sense of the people who work for him and he picked up how profoundly tired I am. So he asked me to stay through the end of June and I agreed. And after that I’ll be a free man, thank you very much.

: Fred, there is a growing feeling among some of the delegates that I have talked to that, in fact, Mr. Mark Malloch Brown has become the de facto Secretary-General and most of the decisions are being made by him. The Secretary-General is just rubber-stamping them.

: Oh I don’t think that’s an accurate reading at all, if you know anything about the Secretary-General and how he operates. His choice of Mark Malloch Brown, I think, reflected his sense that the UN needed to get upfront and more aggressive in defending itself against an increasingly hostile segment of the media and the political spectrum.

Mark Malloch Brown is a very outgoing personality, as you know from having met him. It’s easy to see how he would get plenty of media notice. And that, indeed, is part of his job description that the Secretary-General has given him. But taking over? No way.

: No Chef de Cabinet before him has been so bold and made decisions at that level before...

: The position of Chef de Cabinet is a very powerful one, and different people carry out their responsibilities in that post in different ways. The predecessor, Mr. Riza, was a consummate diplomat and you hardly ever saw him. It didn’t mean that he didn’t have a significant role to play.

That’s why the Secretary-General picks a very close confidant as Chef de Cabinet, because it is such a powerful position.

UN Appoints Hariri Team (Updated)

OK, so I was a little off. I conjured up a 2011 date for the UN to send its investigatory team to Lebanon, based on the amount of time it took to send a team to investigate the 1999 attrocities in East Timor. The UN bested that prediction, and a team is assembled and will be wending its way Beiruit-ward shortly.

Actually, Kofi might have made a pretty good pick here. Leading the team will be Peter Fitzgerald, a Deputy Police Commissioner of the Irish national police force. It would seem a big time Irish cop would have considerable experience in the investigation of blowing-people-up crimes.

Update: Here's an interesting question sequence from today's UN press briefing on Fitzgerald and the investigation:
Question: The team that’s going to Beirut, does it have a mandate broad enough to follow it; to see it as a political assassination rather than as a crime? And if so, will it have access to intelligence or to staffing capable of dealing with a probe that might involve Syria or any of the militias currently operating in Lebanon?

: I don’t think they go with any preconceived notion of the nature of the killing of Mr. Hariri. If you know Mr. Fitzgerald, he is a very distinguished police commissioner who has worked on a number of UN peacekeeping missions and has also done investigative work for us before. So I think you will see a police action looking at evidence and trying to reconstitute how this crime was committed and, if possible, who committed it. They’re starting in Lebanon. And if they feel they need to go wider than Lebanon as part of the inquiry, they will do so.

: Fred, just a follow up on that, I’m sorry, Fred.

: Yes?

: Did Annan speak to the Syrians about this investigation? The Lebanese have obviously said that they welcome this. But did Annan have any conversations with the Syrians or anyone...(Inaudible)?

: I’ll have to look into that for you. I don’t know that.
With all signs pointing to Syrians, one would think Annan would be speaking to the Syrians about cooperating in the investigation! But then ...


Here, in its entirety, is a tremendously meaningful update from the UN on peacekeeping efforts in Africa:

Military chiefs of UN peacekeeping missions in West Africa meet in Senegal

22 February 2005 The military chiefs of the three United Nations peacekeeping missions in West Africa met today in Dakar, Senegal, to share information and assessments of risk.

Gen. Sajjad Akram of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Gen. Joseph Olorunghbon of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and Gen. Abdoulaye Fall of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) started their two-day meeting with military advisers from the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA) and Gen. El-Hadji Mouhamadou Kandji from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to revise scenarios and update their estimates of sub-regional threats and challenges.

The Security Council authorized the missions to meet for consultations on cross-border and regional conflict prevention and peacekeeping issues.

What???? I'm sure the people of West Africa -- indeed, the world -- will rest easier knowing scenarios have been revised and threats and challenges estimated. That task completed, the UNAMSIL, UNMIL and UNOCI generals can return to base and see if they can catch up with UNMIDRC (Congo) by revising the virginity assessment of some local pre-teen girls.

Supreme Court Confusion

I don't know how the lawyers get through this stuff.

The Supreme Court refuses to consider a challenge to Roe v. Wade, a decision that granted the right to kill unborn babies based on a right to privacy. (here)

The Supreme Court refuses to consider a challenge to an Alabama ban on sex toy sales, a challenge that if successful would have granted, under a right to privacy, the right to purchase certain unmentionables. (here)

So there's a right, under privacy, to kill what results from intercourse, but there's not a right, under privacy, to purchase alternative means of intercourse? Somebody call the Smart Guys.

Bush Assassination Plan

Accused of plotting to assassinate President Bush, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was born in Houston and raised in Falls Church, VA. What would make him hate the United States so much that he would (allegedly) plan to assassinate its president?

Abu Ali went to an Islamic school in Alexandria and graduated with honors before taking the Al Qaeda bus to hatred and extremism. A review of the school's Web site doesn't give any indication of anti-American indoctrination going on there, but one has to wonder how, within a year or two of graduating, an American born and raised young man can join an Al Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia.

The school's name, by the way, is Saudi Academy. What are the Saudis doing here on our own soil to destroy our country?

Gonzo Suicide

A Hunter Thompson friend blamed the writer's suicide on President Bush and America's move toward conservatism. (More at WashTimes)
"He was depressed about the state of society," said Loren Jenkins, foreign editor for National Public Radio in Washington.

A vehement opponent of President Bush, Mr. Thompson, 67, "was feeling maudlin about the current conservatism sweeping the country," Mr. Jenkins said. "He felt he'd had a long run, trying to create a freer society in the '60s and '70s and he felt it had all been closed down."
I would have had straight-A's in journalism if it hadn't been for Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. I foolishly endorsed his idea of freewheeling desecration of media objectivity, and a right-thinking prof gave me a B.

Unlike Thompson, I continued to look at the world, instead of looking at the walls of my rut. I discovered that liberalism couldn't deal with the ills of society any easier than Hunter Thompson, himself a manefestation of the ills of a society, could.

It's too bad he's gone, and that he never took the brave step of challenging the foolishness of his youth and appying his wild creativity to something greater than his image and his ego. It's too bad he grew no roots that would allow him to weather a storm.

Happy Birthday

Incredible Daughter #1 turns 19 today. Oh my gosh, next year she'll be 20! Could this poised, intelligent and thank-God-conservative young woman really be the same person who fit in my forearm for a walk around the cul-de-sac, the only thing that would quiet her colicky-ness? What a miracle!

Feelings. Uh-Oh. Feelings.

Dennis Prager's sixth column in his series justifying the Judeo-Christian belief system as superior to all others deals with feelings, the moral construct of the Secularists. Two examples from Dennis:
The unprecedented support of liberals for radically redefining the basic institution of society, marriage and the family is another a product of feelings -- sympathy for homosexuals. Thinking through the effects of such a radical redefinition on society and its children is not a liberal concern.

The liberal preoccupation with whether America is loved or hated is also entirely feelings-based. The Left wants to be loved; the conservative wants to do what is right and deems world opinion fickle at best and immoral at worst.

The entire column, the entire series, is wonderful, so if you haven't been keeping up, click through on the link above, read this one, then go back for the rest of the series up. I have a feeling you'll like it.

LA Times Plugged

In an editorial titled Bush Unplugged, the LATimes admits its surprise that the Wead tapes revealed nothing negative about Bush. There's a whispered and not quite heard nature to this editorial, an unspoken "Good thing no one secretly recorded Clinton, Gore or Kerry!" As the nameless editorial writer put his take on the tapes:
The George W. Bush revealed in two years of surreptitiously recorded private conversations with a former friend is more complicated and appealing than the uncompromising, language-mangling leader whom Americans are accustomed to hearing.
Complicated? Appealing? What paper am I reading? Yes, it is the LAT, which they are still delivering to me.

Be that as it may, the secularists at the LAT still don't understand, like or feel comfortable with any shading of religion:
His struggle to fit his morality to his politics is illuminating, if not exactly comforting. ...

The conversations ... display flashes of the sort of personality quirks that endear Bush to his supporters and frighten his critics.

Bush tells Wead, "The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check" and says he stays humble by reading it every day. Yet he casts himself in grandiose terms, boasting that his popularity will "change Texas politics forever" by catapulting coattail Republicans to success when he wins his second term as governor.
It is frightening to the secular left that a positive character can be learned from the Bible, because they think all we're supposed to learn from the Bible is bigotry and hatred. So the LAT cannot let Bush's reliance on the Bible go unchallenged. Later in the brief editorial, they return to this theme:
"I've sinned and I've learned" becomes his campaign mantra. He tells Wead, and now us, "That's part of my shtick, which is, 'Look, we have all made mistakes.' "

Odd that the same man, once in office, would be incapable of admitting them.
Oh, please. If Bush doesn't believe the war in Iraq was a mistake, why should he admit it's a mistake? He's been forthcoming on WMDs; their absence just doesn't change his opinion of the justification of the war, of the cause. But the LAT must attack on this score; otherwise, it would have to acknowledge that we are all, indeed, sinners.

And speaking of sinners, the editorial focuses only on Bush and his surprisingly (to the LAT) good, intelligent and consistent character. In a poor use of the soapbox, it says nothing of the character of Doug Wead.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Left Weirdness on Gannon Grows

Is there hazardous duty pay for bloggers? Would I get it for trolling leftiblogs for the latest biased, hate-spewing garbage they're running about Jeff Gannon?

From American Politics Journal (not my America!):
What is being drowned out in this screaming for Gannon's head -- and pen -- and escort Web sites -- is something special he has given all of us incompetent ne'erdowells, something we may have never known if not for Jeff's nerve in breaking up the old-skilled, news-professional boys' club. He has given rise to a realm of possibilities where only hopelessness lived. No longer will inexperience or egregious bias keep us from becoming an important cog in the dissemination of government issued information.
That's pretty exciting! The next time a Dem is in the White House, the liberal White House press corps will not be able to display their egregious bias in disseminating that government's information.

From the appropriately named Rude Pundit, a scheme to hype up conservative bloggers who are much to smart to go anywhere close to Rude's sophomoric plan:
Yesterday, the Rude Pundit proposed a strategy to get the story hotter: co-opt the moralists of the right, primarily the Christian fundamentalist community, through their blogs and websites. Write letters and comments where we disguise ourselves as goodly, godly Republicans who are just oh-so-disgusted to bursting [Speaking for goodly, Godly Republican everywhere, I'd say the feeling is oh-so-bewildered by this whole thing, not oh-so-disgusted].

Today, the Rude Pundit gives a list of potential recipients of your "moral outrage" .... By the way, if you're uncomfortable pretending over the gay angle [why would a "tolerant" lefty be uncomfortable with this?], why, then use the prostitute angle [sure, nothing wrong with prostitution!] for your anger - it's twice the sin for half the price. Rather than just target Fox "News," send e-mails and/or post comments to some of these sites and blogs, where the rumbles of the rabble can reach a maximum density quickly. The idea here is that you, as a mole, a fly in the ointment, a ghost in the machine, will infiltrate and cause others, the real fundies and wingnuts, to respond in kind. [Well, they'd probably delete the comments as soon as they came in.] These are not links - you'll have to copy-and-paste the addresses so it's not traceable back to, like, this post telling you where to go. [oops ... busted!] And, you know, this is just a starting point:

[He then gives the addresses of Hugh Hewitt, Crosswalk, Captain's Quarters, Evangelical Outpost, Beliefnet, Christdot and Blogs4God.]

... Plus, don't neglect your Focus on the Family and your Moral Majority and others.

Remember: this ain't about Gannyguck. Who the **** cares about some sell out, self-hating homosexual [Whoa, there's that anti-gay bias again! Are all homosexuals self-hating, Mr. Rude?] who shilled for the Bush administration? This is about Negroponte, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush. This is about torture and the dismantling of the New Deal. [Darn! They're onto us!] And, let's face it and embrace it - it's about payback, bitch, and ****** with people who have ****** us over so egregiously. [Oh, I see. It's insane anger, not any credible story, that's driving this lefty movement. Are you as un-surprised as me?]
That's all I can take for tonight. Besides, I need to foward this to a few blogging icons.

Only Libs Can Mess With Big Bird

From today's NYTimes editorial on PBS:
The challenge is to keep public television not merely alive but vibrant. If this Congress and president make their political mark on PBS, what's to stop the next president from doing the same? Politicians should not be allowed to trim public broadcasting to their liking.
Indeed, what stopped Clinton from casting public broadcasting to his liking? Nothing, which is why it's being pulled back to more sensibility now. And why wasn't the NYT up in arms when PBS was pushing the social consciousness envelope, choosing instead to get uppity only when conservatives pressured PBS not to shove lesbian relationships on preschoolers?

More on Ugly, Unsubstantiated Claims

World Net Daily builds on my Saturday post on lefties trying to "out" members of the Bush Administration.

The Wafer, the Wine ... and the Brewsky?

I'm a teetotaler, in part for religious reasons, so this item raised some questions. I'd be interested in comments on this Episcopalian evangelical push at USC. (from the LATimes)
As candlelight cast a lounge-like glow, college students on a recent Thursday night filled their cups from an icy keg of beer and chewed over peanuts, pretzels —-- and God.

It may not be the traditional model for an informed theological discourse. But organizers of "Theology on Tap" at USC say the setting allows students to socialize and debate the merits of such topics as the Apostle Paul's teachings on sexual morality or the place alcohol has in modern Christian life.

"Keggers are a college icon," said the Rev. Glenn Libby, the university's Episcopal chaplain and one of the event's main orchestrators. "We wanted to take something that is a very common college experience but bring it into a Christian framework."

Soft drinks were available for students younger than 21, although no one was checking identification by the keg during the evening at the campus Catholic Center.
In a vision, God showed Peter unclean food and commanded him to eat it -- three times! Paul told us not to let our food restrictions, or lack of them, get in the way of reaching others with the Good Word. Still, this approach bothers me.

For one thing, they weren't checking IDs, and the church should render under Caesar that which is Caeser's, including alcohol laws. On the other hand, Christ used wine for his first miracle and again to sybolize his blood. On the other hand, what's Godly about college Keggers -- is Rev. Lilly spotting the ball 40 yards behind the goal line by setting up to play Christianity in a brew-soaked environment?

Astroturf-roots Sway Edward Jones

Labor and AARP organizers created a phoney grassroots effort, busing some orchestrated protestors to picket outside the office of brokerage house Edward Jones, a public supporter of the President's Social Security reform.

Reports the LATimes:
Edward Jones, based in St. Louis, made its decision [to drop its public support of Social Security reform] after it was subjected to picketing and online protests by labor unions and seniors groups, which have now begun targeting other companies belonging to the [pro-reform group] Alliance for Worker Retirement Security.
Pfiser has also pulled out of the Alliance, no doubt due to AARP pressure -- AARP members fill a lot of prescriptions.

But this is astroturf-roots, not grassroots. These companies, and other Association members, have put a lot of money into Social Security reform because they know the system needs reform. They shouldn't pull out when the protest bus shows up. They should state their position clearly and see if the unions can sustain the push. This would let the companies bye time until specific legislation moves forward -- when taking and supporting a position will become easier.

Al Qaida Key Messages

After spending most of the day drafting key messages for a client, I took a news break and found some pretty good key messages. Too bad; they're from Ayman Zawahiri of Al Qaeda:
"[The U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba] explains the truth about reforms and democracy that America alleges it wants to impose in our countries."

"Reform is based on American detention camps like Bagram, Kandahar, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; it will be based on cluster bombs and imposition of people like Karzai and Allawi."
They don't play with me, but they probably will play quite well with Zawahiri's audience. But like all propaganda, it will not be able to stand the test of time. As reform takes hold in Iraq, and images of freedom replace the overhyped Abu Ghraib images, and peace replaces troops, the appeal of these messages and the people behind them will fade.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

More Global Warming Debunking

When my inside-the-beltway liberal mother said, "Of course it's real!" when I asked her about global warming, I began to suspect big-time that what I've been reading about the tenuousness of the global warming theory is, in fact, true.

Now BNN, Bloger News Network, has compiled a good wrap-up. If you want to read the whole thing, click here.

Reporting on an American Science warming, reporter John Ray asks:
And what sort of a scientific meeting is it that presents only positive evidence in favour of one point of view? It sounds more like a religious revival meeting than a scientific gathering. Or is it just that all the evidence points one way?

He then contrasts the global warming cheerleading with three true stories:

Growing glacier: Three years ago, environmentalists said the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand was shrinking rapidly the victim not just of global warming, but specifically of industrialization.
"Warmer temperatures and altered snow and rain patterns from climate change are resulting in the retreat of glaciers the world over," a climate campaigner for the group said at the time. Robbie Kelman made it clear where Greenpeace placed the blame for this: "Increased temperatures brought about by greenhouse polluting gases like methane and the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, are destroying glaciers. Unless we break our addiction to fossil fuels, we risk the wholesale destruction of glaciers."
Unfortunately for Greenpeace, following a cold winter, Franz Josef is growing by several meters a day. More here.

Columbia River Basin Drought: It's been dry in the American West, including the Columbia River Valley, and global warming advocates happily attribute this to global warming, but ...
Historical droughts in the Columbia River Basin were more severe than anything in recent memory, including the drought of 1992-93, scientists said Monday. A study of tree rings found four droughts between 1750 and 1950 that were "much more severe than anything in recent memory" because they persisted for years.
More here.

No. 1 Greenhouse Gas: Environmentalists blame human existence for everything. Many say that if offered the option, they would push a button that exterminated all human life on the planet. If they did, the elimination of all our pollution would do little to relieve global warming:
Generally understood, but rarely publicized is the fact that 95% of the greenhouse effect is due solely to natural water vapor. Of the remaining 5%, only 0.2% to 0.3% of the greenhouse effect (depending on whose numbers you use) is due to emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases from human sources. If we are in fact in a global warming crisis, even the most aggressive and costly proposals for limiting industrial carbon dioxide emissions would have an undetectable effect on global climate. ...
Carbon Dioxide from all coal burning worldwide comprises only 0.013% of the greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.
More here.

UN Sex Crimes Not Just In Congo

Ruud Lubbers, the head of the UN's refugee agency has resigned in the face of sexual harrassment allegations. A leaked report -- Why did it have to be leaked? Why didn't the UN make it public? -- said Lubbers had engaged in unwanted physical contact with a female employee, and that other employees alleged a pattern of sexual harassment - although no additional charges have been made ... yet. (more here)

Stranded On Blue Islands has it right: The UN is a toilet. Still, I can't help but point out that it doesn't take much effort to change this guy's name to "Lewd Rubbers."

Spin/Unspin: Activist Pension Boards

Every Sunday, the OCRegister Commentary page offers "Spin/Unspin," frequently the most enjoyable part of the whole paper. Today the feature deconstructs the fiscal insanity behind the big pension funds' efforts to exert socialist social policy on corporations. Here's the gist of it:

The Spin: William Greider ... a heavy hitter in left-wing journalism, let the cat out of the bag in a recent essay in The Nation in which he documented how "progressives" on many pension boards from coast to coast were working together to promote "socially responsible" behavior in companies whose stocks they hold. ...

And so much for the idea that if you're a CEO, the bottom line is about serving customers and making money. Instead, the pension-board overlords have you on notice: What's most important is that you don't oppose unions, outsource jobs, question global warming, disagree with local environmentalists, or sell tobacco or guns. And, no, you can't even object to "new and stronger" government regulation of your company.

The Unspin: This is going to backfire big time on the left. At a time when taxpayers are increasingly worried about the soaring cost of public employee pay and benefits, the last thing they want to hear is that pension-fund bosses are more interested in social engineering than high returns.

Flunking Christianity 101

An AP story running under the headline New Life for Garden of Eden? in today's OCRegister, leads with:

Water and new life are returning to an ancient Iraqi marsh considered by many as the cradle of Western civilization.

That would be civilization, not Western Civilization.

WaPo Just a Tad Off on Bush to Europe

The WaPo editorial on the eve of the President's trip to Europe concedes high quality diplomacy is coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., even if it's not yet coming out of Europe. It's a remarkably well toned editorial for a paper that would run multiple editorials weekly against Bush, but there are eyebrow-raisers like this:
Though anxious to mend relations with the United States, European governments remain broadly skeptical about a Middle East strategy centered on "spreading freedom." [And they're waving around a blank sheet of paper that details their options.] Many don't entirely accept Mr. Bush's premise that a Cold War-like struggle against a global enemy is getting underway. [Even if they only "partially accept" it, do they have any alternative but fighting against it?] They may be willing to help a little more with Iraq and Afghanistan and will support Palestinian state building. But they are less interested in elections than in prodding Israel for steps toward a peace settlement. [How does Palestine rate equal standing with Iraq and Iran? And isn't progress being made there without Europe?] They also are committed to a strategy of negotiating with Iran's existing regime about the country's nuclear program [... and they've only got about six months to accomplish it, so they'd better have a Plan B] and are pressing for U.S. participation in an eventual bargain. And they have priorities not on Mr. Bush's list: global warming [global warming, real or not, is on the list; Kyoto isn't], aid for African development [read the White House policy on Africa here] and U.S. acceptance of a lifting of Europe's embargo on arms sales to China [Sure, now that they've lost Saddam as am arms customer, they've got to find a new market].
Europe is definitely a place that has to be led, not followed.

That Confusing Gannon Thing

I've been reading leftiblogs and MSM editorials on Jeff Gannon for the last couple days and finally the confusion is beginning to clear. I finally understand what they're writing about.

It's simple: They're apparently angry that the Bush administration hasn't imposed strict security checks on all White House press corps members, and they're demanding that access be denied to anyone with a history of homosexuality.

See, it's not all that hard to figure out why they're so emotional about this story.

Turmoil in the Mideast: Must-Reads

Remember in the pre-war debate, when the left said that attacking Iraq would destabilize the Mideast and we said that would be just great? It's happening, and it is great.

Thomas Friedman counsels in a well-crafted column that it is indeed great that the autocracies and terrocracies of the Mideast are dying, but that this isn't Solidarity II. Here

And the Captain has a fascinating update on the Hariri assassination, showing how out of desperate the terrorists have become. Here

Bush is Who He Is, Wead Tapes Show

Who is Wead flipping off here? (NYT photo)

The leftiblogs and their comment logs were abuzz last night in anticipation of the NYTimes piece this morning on the appropriately named Doug Wead's secret tapes of pre-presidential Bush.

The blogs' and the NYT's drive to paint Bush as a hypocrite overwhelms their rationale. The entire Gannon event, at its core, is a desire to paint Bush as a hypocrite on gay marriage and gays in general. Yet the Wead tapes show Bush as more complex -- being opposed to gay marriage, but also refusing to bash gays:
"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."
The NYT falls into the same trap, misrepresenting the tapes in an attempt to paint Bush as a hypocrite on his faith. Near the top of the story, veteran reporter David Kirkpatrick says:

Preparing to meet Christian leaders in September 1998, Mr. Bush told Mr. Wead, "As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways." He added, "I am going to say that I've accepted Christ into my life. And that's a true statement."

But Mr. Bush also repeatedly worried that prominent evangelical Christians would not like his refusal "to kick gays." At the same time, he was wary of unnerving secular voters by meeting publicly with evangelical leaders. When he thought his aides had agreed to such a meeting, Mr. Bush complained to Karl Rove, his political strategist, "What the hell is this about?"

Few will read farther, and they will go away with a misconception about the genuineness of the President's faith, which does not become evident until the second half of the lengthy story:

Mr. Bush knew that his own religious faith could be an asset with conservative Christian voters, and his personal devotion was often evident in the taped conversations. When Mr. Wead warned him that "power corrupts," for example, Mr. Bush told him not to worry: "I have got a great wife. And I read the Bible daily. The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check." ...

In another conversation, he described a "powerful moment" visiting the site of the Sermon on the Mount in Israel with a group of state governors, where he read "Amazing Grace" aloud. "I look forward to sharing this at some point in time," he told Mr. Wead about the event.

The article's big revelation, an apparent admission of marijuana use, is the lefty focus because they have little else to focus on, despite the release of hours of private, secretly recorded tapes. No gay-bashing, no conspiracy theory confirmations, just pretty much the same guy that's been in the Oval Office for the last five years.

His answer about why he doesn't want to talk about drugs made my wife, who works to protect kids from drugs, very happy: "I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."

Still, the tantilizing temptation to find something hypocritical about Bush drove the story to the top of the NYT, where it ran without answering two questions that overwhelmed me: If secret tapes of Clinton, Gore or Kerry were released, what would they say, and how would the NYT have covered them?

So Bush is just who he is ... and Wead is just who he is, someone who betrays a trust for personal profit. His is one book I'm not going to buy.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

An Ugly, Unsubstantiated Allegation

The Gannon story is taking an ugly turn. I'm torn about even posting about the unsubstantiated rumor that follows, especially after reading 70 comments to research it. Many are crazed and delusional, diminishing the credibility of the original allegation. Nevertheless, there's a chance you'll be reading more about this, so hold your nose and read on.

In a comment signed by Thorn (later clarified as Thom) to a post about Gannon on The Raw Story, an utterly unsubstantiated allegation is made that Thorn, a male, had sex with Karl Rove at a Young Republican convention in 1970.

Let's get this on the record right away: Karl Rove is married, to a woman, Darby.

What follows Thom's post is astonishing.

Two posts later, Thom is asked to contact another blog, Ameriblog, with details on his allegations, indicating that this story might be around for a while. There's nothing posted about Thom at Ameriblog yet as of 11:40 p.m. PST.

One commenter tries to point out that there's nothing in Thom's allegations that is illegal, but that's the only point of reason; a blogstorm of ugliness follows. The very next comment is from someone who wants to blow the story sky-high and thinks doing such a thing to a Republican might be dangerous:
Thorn, if your story is true, you need to do a lot more than talk to a blogger. You need to document everything that can substantiate your claim. The more you have the safer you’ll be. Regardless of whether or not you’re telling the truth, you have identified yourself as a threat to very important people who’ll do anything to remain in power. And I mean you have identified yourself - it wouldn’t take a day to track you down. Don’t go near the bathtub in motel rooms. This isn’t a joke.
Many of the comments are gleeful of Thom's post, seeing it as an opportunity to drag down the Bush White House. Then, being leftists, extremism enters with wild allegations about Bush and everyone on his staff in a frenzy of intolerance. There are also conspiracy theories:
Has anyone noticed that it wasn’t until this thing started to break that they announced that Rove was getting an official position in the administration. Could this be to make it harder for the MSM to get to him? Is it harder to subpoena a member of the presidents staff then just an ‘adviser’?
The level of hate in these comments is shocking. They're vicious, unsubstantiated and unreasonable -- the sort of thing that really discredits the blogosphere, making it seem like a purveyor of lies, innuendo and destructive rumors, not a source of news.

Bottom line: No facts, lots of ugliness and vileness from the left ... but given their glee level, leftyblogs will very likely flog this rumor for a while.

Intolerant Tolerance Advocates

In the clip of the famous Pearle/Deane/Shoe-Thrower event available at LGF, the newsman notes "A lot of people we talked to after said they kinda wished there weren't that many disruptions ... there were boos in the crowed from time to time when Richard Pearle was speaking ....."

No boos for Deane? Of course not! It's only the champions of tolerance who boo with intolerance. Even with Deane spouting off stupidities, like saying the US is doing nothing on North Korea, no conservatives booed him. Assuming there are conservatives in Portland.

"Spim" Spammer Unspun

Spim is the Spam of Instant Messaging. Leave it to the pornographers to figure out how to reach younger, more innocent users of IM with their corruption. They have -- one percent of IM traffic is now spim, according to AOL -- and at least one guy, 18 year-old Anthony Grecko -- has figured out how to spim/spam into My Space, the Internet space that is the blogosphere of the youngsters.

Grecko was arrested yesterday at LAX, set up by agents who had convinced him that My Space had succumed to a blackmail scheme he'd cooked up, and wanted to meet with him. The LATimes report on the bust is here.

Incredible Daughter #2 just about lives in My Space, and I thought it was a pretty protected place. Now I know it's not. How tired I am of the hustlers, cons and pornographers breaking into where they are not wanted.

Good riddance, Anthony Grecko. I hope you get a long, long sentence. Your biggest sin isn't greed, it's entitlement. Rather than work hard, earn a degree and work your way up, you thought you'd blackmail My Space into giving you the job you want. Unfortunately, there are many more like you in your generation.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Attempt to Rein In Stem Cell Committee

California's stem cell research committee, flush with $3 billion in public funds and hardly chaffing from public oversight, may soon be under greater oversight control. From today's SacBee:
Using a new tactic, critics of the state's stem cell program have filed a petition seeking more open meetings, salary caps and tighter conflict-of-interest rules for paid executives.

The petition also calls for the stem cell oversight committee to develop grant guidelines before handing out any of the $3 billion in bond money Californians voted in November to spend on embryonic stem cell research. (More here)

Rehnquist to Miss Oral Arguments

His voice weakened by radiation treatments, the Chief Justice will miss at least the first two weeks of oral arguments, but will keep up by reading transcripts, according to AP. One doctor is quoted in the article saying a weakened voice is a sign that the tumor is not responding well to treatments.

Bed rest and retirement would probably be healthier for him than part-time work at the office.

They're, Like, Metaphors, Like, You Know...

I cannot vouch for the veracity of these, but they were presented to me as actual, real life metaphors by high school students, like a cathedral bell ringing with a clapper made of corn muffins. No, they're better than that, metaphors like a cat purring warm in your bed while you hack from allergies.
1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its
two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking
alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from
experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at
a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole
in it and now goes around the country speaking at high
schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse
without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and
he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that
sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had
disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came
as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly
surcharge-free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond
exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like
a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole
scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're
on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at
7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair
after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just
like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed
lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other
like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at
6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka
at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with
picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two
hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant
and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like
a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long,
it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil.
But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you
get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame
duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame.
Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended
one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing
kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought
he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing

26. She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword.

27. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had
forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

28. She walked into my office like a centipede with
98 missing legs.

29. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you
accidentally staple it to the wall.

UN Lebanon Probe Ready by 2011?

Kofi announced today that the UN rapid response machinery has named a Commission of Experts to investigate the 1999 atrocities in Timor-Leste (East Timor). At this rate, we can expect Kofi's Krew to be fully on top of last week's car bomb assassination of Rafik Hariri by 2011.

Prayers for A Soldier's Wife

Update: Earlier in this spot posted a prayer request for a soldier whose wife had cancer. A reader alerted me that it was an accurate but dated Internet wanderer going back to 1991. I should have checked with Truth or Fiction before posting. Sorry.

But say a prayer for our troops and their families at home anyway.

Just Being Human ...

Humanistic headline in today's LATimes:

Kurdish Terrorists Recruiting in Europe

Today's WaPo has a lengthy and troubling story about a Kurdish extremist group that intends to establish a radical Islamic state in Kurdistan, and how it has been actively recruiting in Europe. Acoording to the post, the group Ansar al-Islam and its leader Mustapha Darwich Ramadan (now going by Abu Mohammed Lubnani) have recruited hundreds or thousands of killers from Europe. They have been responsible for at least 40 suicide or other attacks that have killed 1,000 or more in Iraq.

Europe's Muslim problem can't be understated. The continent will find it increasingly difficult to justify its necessary response to terrorists in its midst while continuing to oppose to our necessary response to the countries that breed and support these vermin.

Christians & Gays -- Gays & Christians

Here's some news I pass along with great relief (h/t Double Toothpicks):
Philadephia Judge Clears Christian Demonstrators of 'Hate Crimes' Charges
By Allie Martin
February 17, 2005

(AgapePress) - All charges have been dropped against four Christians who were arrested in October for sharing the gospel at a pro-homosexual event in Philadelphia. Charges pending against a minor who was also arrested at the time are expected to be dismissed as well.

Last fall, Philadelphia police arrested 11 Christians as they were taking part in street witnessing on a public sidewalk at a "gay pride" event. Charges were dropped against six of the believers in January, but the four adults and one juvenile -- all members of the group Repent America -- faced serious charges under Philadelphia's "hate crimes" laws. Those five were charged with criminal conspiracy, "ethnic intimidation," and riot. In a case that brought national attention, each of the five faced as much as 47 years in prison if convicted.

The prosecution appears to have been exhibiting anti-Christianism in bringing charges, but when I posted on this when the charges were levied, I said that confrontational evangelism is not Biblical, and for good reason. When evangelicals shout gospel verses at gays (I have no idea whether Repent America was shouting or not; this is just a point, not a commentary on them) they do nothing to build the Kingom of God. Just as scantily clad, outrageous cross-dressers do nothing for the gay rights movement when they flaunt about in gay rights parades.

I doubt if anyone ever came to Christ by being publicly embarassed or angered by a self-righteous zealot shouting at them. And I also doubt that any Christian grows closer to Christ by turning a cold shoulder on gays.

Fortunately, the confrontational evangelists are a minority. A gay conservative Christian called Bill Bennett's show yesterday morning and said conservative Christians give him less flack about being homosexual than gays give him about being a conservative Christian. This doesn't surprise me because any good Christian knows thatPaul didn't write the Romans and say, "All, except heterosexuals, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." He said all, just all.

Yet when I told a Christian friend recently that I hoped to have a get-to-know-you cup of coffee with Gay Patriot West soon, I got a "why would you want to do that" look. Why not? I'm a sinner, he's a sinner. He's no different than the adultress, the tax collector and the demon-possessed graveyard dweller Christ ministered to; nor am I.

None of us can be saved in any way but by grace; the trick is what we do with the rest of our lives after being saved, and this is where even tolerant gays have trouble with Christianity. I left behind many bad habits, including some lust-oriented ones, when I became a Christian simply because it became important to me to live in a way that would please Christ. It is important for Christian gays to repent from any sex other than the sex God deems unsinful -- between a married man and woman -- and that is understandably a very difficult leap for them to make, especially for those who are in long-term monogamous relationships.

I know gay men who have honored God's call to avoid sexual sin. Some settled for abstinence, some became comfortable with women and married. But those transformations took grace and time and were hard for these men to imagine when they first confronted their sin nature. The difficult work they did certainly deserves the respect and compassion of any true Christian.

And what of gays and Christians? Few have probably run into anything overtly hostile as Christians yelling, "Repent or burn!" at them, but they take our view that their lifestyle is a sin and our opposition to gay marriage as similarly hurtful or hateful. It's not, but it's hard to explain why it's not.

Maybe this will help. Peter, a friend of mine has an evangelical Christian church on Mt. Carmel in Israel. Years ago, when his now grown-up daughter had her first day in an Israeli elementary school, she came home and said, "Daddy, they don't use plus marks in addition here!" Sure enough, being Jewish often means being anti-Christian, and many Jews simply didn't like the way the plus reminded them of the cross, so they changed it.

Many gays have the same feelings about us. They don't want to see our cross, or us. We remind some that they are sinning. We frighten others. And worst of all, for some we bring back the deep hurts caused by parents who went to church every Sunday, yet kicked their gay child out of the house when his or her sexual preference was discovered.

If we are to help gays accept conservative Christians, we can't change our beliefs and accept the gay lifestyle as OK. That's verbotin. All we can do is believe and trust in Christ, show it through love and the admission of our own sins, and be patient, knowing that the best we can do is to model Christ's compassion.