Thursday, May 31, 2007

Priest sets off sex toy uproar

For 35 years Linette Servais has played organ at St. Joseph Catholic Church in New Franken, Wisconsin. No more. The priest threw out of her position. She was also removed a choir director. She used to take First Communion photos. That’s been taken from her. In fact she isn’t even allowed to help plan the annual church picnic. She was even told she couldn’t sing with the choir.

Obviously Servais must be an especially bad of sinner to rile up Father Dean Dombroski. Considering some of the things the church has swept under the rug Servais must be an especially egegrious sinner. Father Dean Dombrowski says it is because she works for a “firm which sells products of a sexual nature”.

He doesn’t mean X-rated films or explicit books. He means marital aids like vibrators. But the Catholic Church believes that sex for purposes of pleasure is sinful and that any practice which can not lead to pregnancy is immoral. So a vibrator is “not consistent with church teaching”. Probably not. But it appears that most Catholics are not consistent with church teaching and priests, well you know the facts.

Servais had performed these services for the church for years and didn’t expect payment. In recent years she did earn the grand total of $1000 per year for her efforts. After her removal she tried to talk to the priest but he’s refused to speak to her. Most the church choir quit in protest.

After decades, actually centuries, of sex scandals one has to wonder if a priest ought to be lecturing a woman about marital aids. And Linette ought to be glad she doesn't live in Texas since selling sex toys there is a felony and she might have to register as a sex offender.


Successful school scuttled by teacher's union

Here is one illustration of what is wrong with American schools. In Dayton, Ohio there is a state school that seemed to operate well. It is a mainly African-American school in a poor area. It is small and has done what other schools in the couldn’t: teach.

This year all the graduates have been accepted into college. Facing budget cuts the school district is going to lay off staff and the successful teachers at this school have been targeted to lose their jobs. The district is full of teachers who can’t teach but they are safe from cut backs.

The New York Times says “the teacher’s union requires layoffs to be made according to seniority.”

I have long thought the teacher’s union is one of the most destructive forces in education. And this rule is one major reason for it. As long as an incompetent teacher has held a job more years than a good teacher it is the good teacher that the union demands be fired.

The union tries to make teaching positions easy money for teachers. It has no concern about children or about education. And it is a major source of support for low-life politicians so government tends to cave in to this educational mafia. It spends much of its time defending mediocrities and incompetents sheltering them from any forms of discipline. A teacher should have job protection due to performance not merely because they are old.

When John Stossel exposed how big labour is destroying education the teacher’s unions targeted his trying to get him fired. They failed at that as well. The only thing the teacher’s union has done successfully is help ruin education in America. Education ought to be about the students not a government gravy train for lackluster teachers who get a free ride due to seniority.

Certainly if a school is under performing then it is the teachers who have been on staff the longest who are most responsible for the situation as they have had he most input.

Funding of education ought not go to districts or schools but ought to follow students. And students should be free to avoid bad schools even if it is the neighborhood school. This is what vouchers will do. But, of course, that puts market-based discipline into education and the delinquents in the teacher’s union oppose discipline. So the downward spiral continues.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The grapes of math: Global warming fraud?

You may remember the story in the media from the end of 2004. A study was done which used French records of grape harvests in Burgundy to reconstruct the temperatures from 1370 to 2003. And they announced that “the summer of 2003 appears to have been extraordinary, with temperatures that were probably higher than in any other years since 1370.”

The study was duly printed in Nature magazine and the rest of the media passed it on with the usual global warming spin that is now common for the media.

Douglas Keenan, over at was asked to look at the report. First he read the article to get the gist of what they were saying. His job was simple. He was only supposed to evaluate the math used to draw the conclusions.

His response was recently published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology. And he concluded that the original article “greatly overestimated the temperature of 2003 and greatly underestimated the temperatures of the warmest years in the instrumental record prior to then.”

Keenan’s article in the journal only tells half the story. It notes the study was flawed but doesn’t tell what he went through to find this out. After reading the article he wrote the authors, Isabelle Chuine and others, asking for the data so he could evaluate it. They were not happy about that. On his web site Keenan writes: “The authors, though, were very reluctant to let me have the data. It took me eight months, tens of e-mails exchanged with the authors, and two formal complaints to Nature, to get the data.” He says “It is obviously inappropriate that such a large effort was necessary.”

From the data he could see that the paper estimated the summer 2003 temperature “higher than the actual temperature” by 2.4 degrees centigrade. He concluded: “This is the primary reason that 2003 seemed, according tot he authors, to be so tremendously warm.” I would think so. In addition they said that previously hot years like 1945, 1947 and 1952 were “much lower than the actual temperature.” Combine these two errors together and you get the Nature magazine article. “[T]he authors had developed a method that gave a falsely-high estimate of temperature in 2003 and falsely-low estimates of temperatures in other very warm years. They then used those false estimates to proclaim that 2003 was much hotter than other years.”

At this point the story gets very interesting. Keenan says the math done was so flawed that anyone could have noticed it. And he wondered why it was that the peer reviewers who supposedly read papers for Nature allowed this flawed study to be published. “I asked Dr. Chuine what data was sent to Nature, when the paper was submitted to the journal. Dr. Chuine replied, “We never sent data to Nature.”

Keenan understood that the real story here is not that the study was flawed, the math erroneous and the conclusions wrong.
What is important here is not the truth or falsity of the assertion of Chuine et al. about Burgundy temperatures. Rather, what is important is that a paper on what is arguably the world's most important scientific topic (global warming) was published in the world's most prestigious scientific journal with essentially no checking of the work prior to publication.

Moreover—and crucially—this lack of checking is not the result of some fluke failures in the publication process. Rather, it is common for researchers to submit papers without supporting data, and it is frequent that peer reviewers do not have the requisite mathematical or statistical skills needed to check the work (medical sciences largely excepted). In other words, the publication of the work of Chuine et al. was due to systemic problems in the scientific publication process.

The systemic nature of the problems indicates that there might be many other scientific papers that, like the paper of Chuine et al., were inappropriately published. Indeed, that is true and I could list numerous examples. The only thing really unusual about the paper of Chuine et al. is that the main problem with it is understandable for people without specialist scientific training. Actually, that is why I decided to publish about it. In many cases of incorrect research, the authors will try to hide behind an obfuscating smokescreen of complexity and sophistry. That is not very feasible for Chuine et al. (although the authors did try).

Finally, it is worth noting that Chuine et al. had the data; so they must have known that their conclusions were unfounded. In other words, there is prima facie evidence of scientific fraud. What will happen to the researchers as a result of this? Probably nothing. That is another systemic problem with the scientific publication process.
Now this creates a problem and this problem extends to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well. Keenan notes that “Once something has been published in a peer-reviewed journal -- particularly a prestigious journal -- it tends to be considered as established, possibly even heralded as ‘truth’.” After this happens the IPCC uses this alleged “peer-reviewed research” for their studies: “Yet Yet most peer-reviewed research is not properly checked prior to its publication. In other words, most of the research that is relied upon by the IPCC, and thus government policy makers, has never been properly checked. That probably seems incredible; it is unfortunately true.”

I suggest the problem is that when people get the results they want they tend not to check very carefully. Only when the results are contrary to their assumptions do they investigate thoroughly. The implication for the warming controversy would be that material by skeptics gets combed over very carefully looking for every flaw, no matter how minor. In the meantime the studies that confirm the thesis are given passes in spite of glaring errors.

Since the IPCC does no studies of climate and merely reports what has been published then studies like this one on grapes gets included in the mix and conclusions are drawn on studies that shouldn’t be used. But even that is not the end of the process. After a paper is written based on studies that apparently can escape any real peer-review the politicians start rewriting the conclusions that are released to the media. And this is called a “scientific consensus” by politicians and the press.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Poland to investigate sex life of Teletubbies

The Holy Inquisition in Poland has begun and the first target they are investigating is the Teletubbies.

Now many people will remember when the insane television evangelist Jerry Falwell had one of his seizures and started attacking the annoying Teletubbies as being gay propaganda. Most the world was laughing at him at the time.

Apparently a few of his fellow Bedlam inmates were listening and have since come to power in Poland. Now the government appointed watchdog for “children’s rights” Ewa Sowinska (my great grandmother was Polish, if I remember correctly, and I could be wrong, Ewa Sowinska in English means “brain of cow excrement”) says she has begun an investigation to find out if the show is a secret gay plot of somekind.

She has asked psychologists to help determine if this is the case. She says she noticed that Tinky Winkin has a purse but “didn’t realize he’s a boy.” I must admit I’ve never known how to tell if a Teletubby is male or female myself. I rarely look at the genitals of stuffed puppets. Apparently Sowinska does examine the privates of television fictional creatures. How else would she know Tinky Winky’s gender -- its not on his (I presume) driver’s license.

Sowinska says she thought that carrying a purse would be a burden for a Teletubby but later “learned that this may a homosexual undertone.” Now, I’m worried. My grandmother had a purse. Could it be? No, but maybe I should start an investigation. In fact she lived in a very Polish part of town, even the shop signs were in Polish, and all the women there carried purses. No wonder Poland is worried. It’s an epidemic but obviously started long before the Teletubbies.

In the show the “purse” is actually referred to as a magic bag. But never mind facts. With a watchdog like this one in Poland for “children’s rights” I suggest people avoid having children until a new government is elected. These people are nuts. Really, folks, I'm not making this up. Anyway I heard Tinky Winky was involved with on the sly with Minnie Mouse, this has Mickey in a rage and he is threatening divorce. But there are rumors about Goofy and Donald Duck which I won't repeat here as I understand they are vacationing in Poland at this time and I don't want them deported.

Photo: The Teletubbies.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 28, 2007

Who needs stinking civil liberties?

It won’t be long now before England’s worst prime minister ever drops into the dustbin of history (unless Bush rescues him and gives him a cushy job -- which has been hinted at).

As he did in his term of office Mr. Blair is doing in the last days of his odious rule -- he is doing his level best to strip Englishmen of more of their civil liberties. Blair has made it clear that civil liberties hinder government, which is precisely what they are meant to do mein Führer said some as they were blackbagged and carted off. (Of course Cheney said much the same thing recently to the cadets at West Point, basically urging them to ignore Constitutional protections when it comes to those deemed “terrorists”.)

Throughout his carrier Blair has introduced measure after measure expanding the police powers of the state. One could argue he has committed treason agains the English tradition of freedom. And as he is being shown the door he’s still working to expand police powers. Peter Hain, Blair’s own Northern Ireland Seccretary attacked the measures as the “domestic equivalent fof Guantanamo Bay.” Perhaps a bit of hyperbole but where his degree of worry is wrong his direction is not.

The idea is to give police the right to stop and question anyone they wish, anytime they wish, for any reason they wish. Failure to answer them could result in a fine of up to $10,000.

The previous Blair measure in this area is the Terrorism Act 2000, an act that truly is terrorism. It gives the government the right stop and search anyone traveling in public whether there is a reason to suspect them of anything or not. Except it is limited to areas designated by a chief constable. Still pretty lose when it comes to reigning in that terrorist organization known as government.

In that law not only did a chief constable have to delineate the area covered he had to set a time limit. Police could arrest people merely on suspicion but if the person didn’t cooperate by answering their questions there was no additional penalty. Blair finds that too restrictive. No doubt Cheney is whispering to Blair and suggesting that perhaps he should consider torture as well.

Under the new legislation individual police officers could interrogate people randomly without any restrictions as to the area or with time limits imposed. It removes the slight restriction of having the area designated by a chief constable. Now any would be “Terrorist Buster” on the force could begin questioning anyone found in public. And if someone found it a violation of their rights and refused to answer they could be fined heavily.

Blair, in perhaps his most disgusting comment in public life, defended these new police powers saying that society is wrong to protect civil liberties. “We have choosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. I happen to believe this misguided and wrong.”

Of course the police state/surveillance state that Blair has created doesn’t come cheaply. The most recent analysis of the tax burden on individuals alone, not on business, shows the every single taxpayers pays about $13 in taxes for every hour they work. Just last year alone the tax burden on individuals increased by $50 billion. And these figures don’t include local taxes. Under Blair’s police state taxation has doubled since 1997.

A police state isn’t cheap. The wives of Henry VIII got better treatment than Blair deserves.
Ron Paul

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Maybe the troops need less support.

With Memorial Day we think of the dead killed in the wars that the United States has been involved in: domestic and international. And that has caused me to ponder the slogan that is used today to cut off debate: “Support the troops.”

Say: “I support the troops” and people will cheer. Even opponents of this godforsaken war “support the troops”. I watched a video about how fans of the show Jericho are flooding CBS with nuts to protest the cancellation of the show (the only CBS show I saw that was even worth bothering with this season). Right on the boxes of nuts being shipped was the slogan “Support the troops.”

You see the bumper sticker on SUVs and pickup trucks from Maine to California. Why is there such universal acceptance of the slogan? Because it doesn’t mean anything in particular. Or perhaps it really means everything.

It’s a bit like the claim by Americans that they believe in a god. No one defines the term when they say it so everybody nods in agreement -- well not everybody thankfully. So one person means Jesus, another Allah, another Jehovah, another worships a “life force”, others speak of a ”divine mind” or some whacked out guru in some palace in India. By using the one word “god” to cover thousands of definitions a general consensus appears to exist when in reality it does not.

So it is with “Support the Troops”. How we support the troops is left unstated. But King George and the war crowd use the slogan to intimidate war opponents.

I use the term “war opponents” advisedly since I mean Democrats and I’m not convinced they actually oppose the war. I suspect they wish to use the war. Congress could have defunded this venture but didn’t. Why? Because they want the war to drag on until the presidential elections. They want the dying to continue and the dissatisfaction to grow.

Bush built his power based on the dead bodies of 9/11 and the Democrats are building theirs on the corpses of American troops killed in Iraq. Politicians are such vile creatures that they will use sorrow and misery to secure power for themselves.

Voters chucked Republicans out of power in the Senate and the House mainly over the war issue. Most voters want a clear cut timetable to leave Iraq or immediate withdrawal. The Democrats control the House and the Senate and cave in at the last minute to King George. They didn’t need to surrender. They could have held to what they pretend are their principles.

But securing the White House, along with the Senate and the House, is far too important. So to “support the troops” they passed another funding bill. Conveniently that keeps the war going and continues the downward slide in the polls of Bush and the Theopublicans. That increases the chances of a Democratic landslide. And those soldiers who keep on dying in the meantime? You have heard of collateral damage haven’t you?

As I see it no one is really supporting the troops at all. The war is a lost venture everyone knows that. Bush won’t acknowledge it but he knows it. It was lost before it started because he rushed in without facts and information. He ignored contrary voices, as he continues to do with his fundamentalist mindset today. From the day the decision was made to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, based on false evidence, the results of this war were determined. Our men and women will keep on dying and nothing will be gained from it.

Bush’s policy is to deny he makes mistakes. God picked him to be president and he has a view similar to the claim of papal infallibility. He’s the “Decider” and when he decides there is no turning back no matter how wrong the decision. But then his decisions are never wrong. Typical fundamentalist. He supports the troops. And they keep on dying.

Now the Democrats support the troops. And the troops keep on dying.

What a strange definition of “support”. Maybe the troops need less support. Maybe that would allow them to come home to their families before they lose a leg or their life. It’s worth considering.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Psychics, astrologers, politicians and other con men.

Astrologers and psychics know how to tell people exactly what they want to hear. It is one way they succeed in bilking people out of money. And to be safe they often tell people things which are opposites at the same time.

“I sense that you have a warm sense of humor but can also be serious. You are generous but know where to draw lines. You do enjoy the company of people but also need your alone time.”

People eat up that sort of fraud. It’s fraud because virtually anyone you say this to will nod their head in agreement. This sort of “reading” is the hallmark of the conman. So what does Barack Obama say?

"Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.

No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice."
You read the first paragraph and you have someone talking about how government needs to be limited and people need to be free to solve their problems. You get to the second paragraph and he’s talking about the necessity of expanding government more into the social realm to help people solve their problems. Does he do psychic readings as well?

What is odd is his remark: “And they want that choice.” What is the choice precisely? And who makes it? The great problem in state-imposed solutions is that it stripes people of choice entirely. If the state decides to solve the “head lice” problem or “smoking” or “obesity” or anything that someone says is a problems choice disappears.

When government stepped in to solve the smoking problem, partially caused by their own subsidies to tobacco, they pushed through measures which destroyed choice. They imposed higher taxes on smokers with no choice of not paying allowed. They offered programs to smokers and all of us, non-smokers alike, pay for it with no choice given. They push measures which ban smoking in private establishments overriding the choice of the owners of those establishments.

Government can’t give people choices. It can only restrict choices. If it bestows the “choice” of having X on someone by giving them a subsidy it does not increase choices. To give this person X it must strip others of some of the choices they have. Otherwise it has no way to pay for that which it gives. In fact it must strip away more choice than it bestows.

Each dollar in my pocket represents an ability by me to make choices about my life. The more dollars I have the more choices I can make. The fewer dollars I have the fewer choices I can make.

If the state bestows $100 of choices on someone they must first take the $100 from someone else. Normally that is seen as breaking even -- any new choices created come at the expense of choices denied others. But government is not that efficient it doesn’t give out $100 worth of choices for each $100 it strips away.

Often the state needs to take $200 in order to bestow $100. There is a vast, unproductive bureaucratic order that consumes resources while redistributing choice in society. It costs to confiscate choice, costs to account for the funds, costs to redistribut the funds. So for government to hand out $100 worth of benefits on one hand it must take far more than $100 with the other hand. The redistribution of choice must reduce the total amount of choices available.

Government help is similar to a doctor giving a patient a blood transfusion from his left arm into his right arm but along the way the doctor keeps half the blood. At best the patient ends up slight anemic. Continued long enough the patient could be in serious trouble.


Friday, May 25, 2007

What happened in New Hampshire with warming?

Everyone has their favorite scare story to whip up fear in order to push through their preferred forms of control. The Theopublicans shout “terrorists” every chance they get and hope the public wont’ mind the Bill of Rights being recycled into something more befitting the Soviet Union. The “Progressive” Democrats, borrowing a page from the wacko novels of Tim Lahaye are convinced the end of the world is coming.

In either case the solutions are quite similar. We just need to give the state more control over our lives in one form or another. We need to trust the politicians to make decisions for us. If we don’t disaster is coming.

Al Gore wannabe (you would think he’d have real ambitions) Congressman Edward Markey is on old time Democrat from Massachusetts. And he is bringing a bunch of Congresscritters to meet on the summitt of New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain to discuss the “threat” of global warming. According to Associated Press:

He says from the mountaintop, the committee will see a state that is concerned about its tourist industry, a shorter ski season, changing foliage and intense weather events which will bring serious economic consequences if nothing is done.

Don’t get me wrong. Certainly a warmer climate in New Hampshire will change the sources of income. A warmer climate might mean fewer ski lodges in the winter but more tourism during the summer. As for “intense” weather events well one can imagine I suppose. Too many “Day After Tomorrow” films have been seen.

And I certainly don’t want to imply that things haven’t warmed in New England. I lived there for a few years myself and found the weather a real relief compared to the bitter cold of Chicago. And long term the weather has warmed in New Hampshire. Once again I have some charts for you showing you just how the weather has warmed and when. But what you see isn’t quite what you’d expect based on the CO2 theories of warming. Basically warming should follow increases in atmospheric CO2. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in New Hampshire.

I have taken a look at the data from three different weather stations in New Hampshire, choosen since Markey is leading his people to the mountaintop there. And I looked at the average mean termperatrue at these staions over the last 110 years. I broke each set of data into two halfs. The first half covers up to 1952 and the second half from 52 until now. Not all the stations started recording data at the same time so the beginning date might differ depending on when the station opened. There is nothing I can do about that.

Here is the first station. The first weather station is the First Connecticut Lake station which opened much later than the others. But the trend from opening until 1952 is for steep increases in temperature.
Now we look at the last 55 years. The problem for the anthropogenic warming advocates is that this trend line is pretty flat. There is a slight warming trend but nothing as severe as seen in the earlier part of the last century. But warming is supposed to escalate as CO2 emissions increase and those increases were more in the latter part of the century than in the earlier parts.
Maybe the problem is that the first graph starts too late. So lets look at another weather station. This is the station at Keene and here we have weather data going back to the 1890s. That is better since it has more data. The annual mean temperature went up from 44 degrees fahrenheit to 46 degrees. The increase is rather steep.
So what happened in the last half century with increased CO2 levels? For Keene it appears that as CO2 levels increased the mean temperature declined. It dropped from just over 46 degrees to about 45 degrees.
The third weather station I looked at is the one in the little town of Bethlehem (sorry, bad pun). We start in the 1890s again and take it up to the middle of the century, to 1952. Again we find a steep increase in temperatures before the main rise in CO2 levels. The mean average temperature for the year increased from about 40.7 degrees F to about 42.1. Substantial for a half century period.
The latter half of the last century saw a cooling trend here. Alas the data seems to end in 1990. So I think I’ll add a fourth station just to be safe.
I now went to neighboring Vermont to the town of Cornwall which has a weather station going back to the late 1800s. From 1897 to 1952 we see a rather steep increase in temperatures rising from an average mean of 42.8 to about 45.1.
But the last half century saw temperatures in Cornwall drop, down to a mean average temperature of about 43. So there has been some warming in this region of New England, where the conclave is to be held, but most the warming came prior to major world CO2 emissions.
It is quite easy to draw trend lines from the middle of the 19th century until today and show a general warming trend. That doesn’t necessarily tell us when the warming took place. Now I’m not saying this is the case in every place. But in New England, which I use simply because it is Markey’s example, the warming trend took place prior to the largest increases in atmospheric CO2 while temperatures declined during the later years.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gore's hysterics on drought.

As much as I admire Al Gore for his famed speech on the imperial presidency at Constitution Hall I find his global warming hysterics borderline psychotic. Gore becomes unglued emotionally and mentally when the topic of global warming comes up. Either the man is nuts or entirely dishonest, I will let his own fans decide which. On Larry King Live he went into how global warming will cause increases in sea levels from 3 feet to 20 feet.

His much praised International Panel on Climate Control has stated that a 1 foot increase is the most likely scenario. He also claimed that half (49% to be precise) of the US is currently “in conditions of drought or near drought.” But is this true? The National Climate Data Center actually keeps track of such things. And using their data here are a few charts.

First, I assume that drought is more of an issue during the warm summer months when it is hottest. So I graphed out the actual average precipitation in the US since 1895. The black line is the average precipitation since 1895. The green bars that go up show years with above average precipitation. The brownish lines going down are years with less than average precipitation. And that red line is the trend over the last century plus. The conclusion is unmistakable, the US is not suffering from less rain at all. Precipitation is up. (Remember if you want to see the charts enlarged just click on them.)

If we drop the summer weather and look at spring when crops are planted we find the same sort of upward trend in precipitation.

And if not then perhaps it is the fall season just as crops need to be harvested. Nope, the trend for more precipitation, not less, is even stronger.

And if we try for the entire year the trend is still for more rain not droughts.

Gore said: “We have a very serious threat of losing enough soil moisture in a hotter world that agriculture here in the United States would be greatly affected.” How are we losing soil moisture when precipitation is up, on average, across the United States?

Gore was claiming that this drought was ongoing right now and that half the country was involved. The National Drought Mitigation Center didn’t seem to get the message. Here is their map on “Reported Drought Impacts for Entire US” based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It shows only California having problems and those are relatively mild at this time. But then California is perpetually having problems.

There do appear to be some areas of the American Southeast which have below average rainfall for this time of year, mainly Georgia and the Carolinas. Interestingly this is one region of the US which has clearly cooled over recent decades. And none of this is nearly the half of the country that Gore claimed.
And from data I've looked at this area of the US received above average rain in January and normal or above average rain until the end of March and since then some areas have had moderate shortages of rain but even so most of the Carolinas remained near normal with nmost only Georgia being moderately affected. On the other hand states like Texas, New Mexico, Okalahoma, Nebraska and Iowa have been through a moist spell as has New England.

Labels: , ,

Could checking your email be a felony?

Sledgehammers kill mosquitoes. If you see a mosquito on your wall and swing a sledgehammer at it, and successfully hit it, you will kill it. No doubt you will smash the wall in the process. If the mosquito escapes and you have to keep swinging each attempt to kill it will impose lots of damage. In general sledgehammers are not good ways to kill mosquitoes.

Politicians are notorious for using sledgehammers. Bad politicians in particularly love sledgehammers. Now you wouldn’t use a sledgehammer in your house to kill a bug and the reason is quite simple: it’s your house. You pay the cost of the damage yourself. Politicians can inflict damage and pass the costs on to other people. They are like exterminators who feel their only mission is to kill pests and don’t mind using sledgehammers, or even wrecking cranes, because they find these methods really do kill bugs. Of course they do. But the costs are all out of kilter compared to the benefits.

But politicians see things as if they receive the benefits and you pay the costs. So if they “solve” a problem with a sledgehammer they will crow about solving the problem and ignore the costs. They will brag about how they “did something” and how it “was urgent”. “Drastic” solutions were necessary. Why are is it that everything the government sets out to solve is an “urgent” problem? Simple: politicians are usually in office for two to six years at most. They always have election campaigns coming up. What is urgent is rarely the problem. What is urgent is their reelection and access to the government gravy train for another term of office.

One example of swatting mosquitoes with sledgehammers is the case of Sam Peterson of Sparta, Michigan. Sam would drive by the Union Cafe, park for a few minutes and check his email on his laptop. The Union Cafe, like many coffee shops provided unsecured wireless internet access to their customers. Of course they also knew that by providing that unsecured service that anyone in the immediate vicinity could also use it.

Police Chief Andrew Milanowski saw Peterson and questioned him about why he was sitting in a parked car. Peterson didn’t think he was doing anything wrong so he said he was just checking his email. The Chief accepted that and left but then he started wondering if this might be illegal.

Well, these days if you imagine something could possibly be illegal it usually is. And the Chief hit the jackpot. Sam wasn’t just a criminal under Michigan law but a felon. Now felonies are consider serious matters. And in Michigan the politicians thought this a very serious matter indeed. Sam could have gone to prison for five years and paid a $10,000 fine.

Now generally the punishment of a crime is supposed to fit the nature of the crime. In this case it is considered theft. But this sort of theft is different from most theft. If you steal a car you deny the owner the use of the property he purchased. But Peterson didn’t actually deny the “owner” the use of her property in any meaningful sense.

Of course you might impose a cost. But then again you might not. It really depends on the circumstances of the service contract of the individual. I have wireless in my apartment whic is a flat rate service that is available 24 hours per day. If someone else uses it I don’t lose anything. If no cost is imposed is it theft? Under Michigan law apparently it could be.

Even if the cafe didn’t have a flat rate the costs imposed by Peterson would be relatively low. And the cafe could put an end to the use of their wireless instantly, if they so wished, at an extremely low cost to themselves -- just a couple of minutes of their time to set the system to secured is all that is necessary.

So why didn’t they do that? Because they didn’t want to. Offering “free” wireless service attracts customers. Lots of places offer this knowingthat some people will use it who won’t be customers. This happens in the business world all the time.

The typical fast food restaurant has toilets for their customers. And everyday non-customers in dire need rush in and use the facilities without buying anything. Shopping malls have water fountains for thirsty customers which are frequently used by people who stop in and look around but purchase nothing.

Consider Ikea, the furniture giant. They offer all sorts of amenities to customers knowing that non-customers use those services.

When a business offers free services to the public it assumes that this will profit them in the long run. They recognize that some people will misuse it. Some people will use the toilets who don’t spend money. Some people will drink from the water fountain who aren’t spending anything. And some people will check their emails. This is calculated into the costs and the “free” services are offered anyway.

That makes it doubly difficult to consider what Sam Peterson was doing as theft. Even the cafe owner says she had no idea he was breaking the law. Here is one odd crime indeed.

One report notes that the only way that someone gets arrested is being caught red handed. As the local prosecutor said: “Ninety percent of the time we couldn’t know, frankly, that it’s going on.” Not even the “victim” apparently knows they are being victimized. And the victims often make the service widely available to the public intentionally.

Cafe owners realize that now and then someone will walk in and sit down and use the service without actually ordering anything. I’ve seen that happen at coffee shops on numerous occasions and the owners usually just ignore it. It is allowed because the owners feel the benefits outweigh the costs.

Exactly why do we need the state stepping in here? If the owner is worried he can take easy steps to prevent it. Is this “stealing” of a freely offered service any worse than “stealing” the use of toilets, water fountains or having a cheap lunch at IKEA?

What is particularly odd is that politicians, always needing to meddle, have forced places like cafes to provide free services. In Arizona the law says a restaurant has to give free water to anyone who asks for it, customer or not. That probably costs more than checking one’s email. Public access to toilets are often mandated as well.

In Westchester Country, New York the politicians “said it’s up to WiFi subscribers to protect themselves against piggybackers.” Well, that almost sounds reasonable but of course there is a catch: “Businesses were told to secure their networks or pay a fine.”

See what I mean about how politicians can’t stop meddling. Why should the business pay a fine? If they wish to provide free internet access to the public, and refuse to secure their network, why are they being punished? Yet in other places politicians are taking money from taxpayers to provide free internet access to the public.

There is the old joke about the Soviet Union where anything not forbidden is mandated. That is the view of most politicians. On one hand they force people to provide free services and on the other they make it a crime. Seems to me that the best solution is to allow WiFi users to take precautions if they wish or ignore them if they wish. If they ignore them the costs are their own. Now if a secure server is hacked that is a different thing entirely. It is then clear that the property owner doesn’t want the public using the connection. It is similar to restaurants that have signs saying “toilets for customers only”.

It isn’t even that the politicians or cops are concerned about the cafe in this case. The claim is that Peterson was stealing “service” from the cafe. Yet he doesn’t pay the cafe a dime in restitution even though they were the supposed victims. Because it was his “first offense” he was ordered to pay a $400 fine and give 40 hours of “community service”. So the government collects $400 and 40 hours of slave labor. The cafe gets nothing. Everything, the fine and forced labor, goes to the state.

One could argue that the cafe made the WiFi available intentionally knowing it could be accessed outside the cafe as well as inside. If they did so then could it be considered theft? Sure Peterson didn’t ask the owner. But I’ve been in coffee shops where everyone is sitting around with laptops open on the internet and no one explicitly asked permission. Sometimes there are signs announcing the service but often there is no indication at all. In many places it is just assumed the cafe will have it.

It gets even messier with outdoor cafes. There was one cafe near where I lived that had all tables outside (obviously this was in a warm climate). There was no actual building in which you sat. The most you expected was an umbrella to keep the sun out of your eyes. And they had internet access open to their customers. There isn’t even a clear demarcation between the cafe and the sidewalk since the tables were on the sidewalk.

Must permission be explicit or can it be implied? If explicit then the Michigan cops ought to sit undercover in a cafe. I can promise you they will find that none of the customers thought of asking permission before connecting. One could argue the implied permission is for customers. But if a cafe doesn’t chase out people who sit down and connect then isn’t it implying that they don’t mind if non-customers use it? Surely the toilets in restaurants fall into a similar category yet we don’t arrest non-customers for theft of toilet services.

My laptop uses wireless. And my email program is set to download emails every few minutes. One time I parked in my parking spot and opened my laptop to check something. Then I heard the signal that an email I had written was just sent. Apparently I had picked up a WiFi signal from somewhere and inadvertently used it. This has happened numerous times that I know of and probably several times when I was unaware. Was I committing theft? Again this illustrate the odd nature of this theft. There can be cases where neither the thief nor the victim know anything was stolen.

There does seem to be a simple solution and it doesn’t require politicians or cops. That means it is not one they would favor as they want us to believe that life without them would be unbearable. The law should be simple. A WiFi user has the option to make their line secure or not. If they make it secure and it is hacked a crime is committed. If they don’t make it secure and it is used, intentionally or inadvertently, the assumption is that it was open for public use by the choice of the owner and no crime is committed. If a crime is committed then the person committing the theft should pay court costs, investigation costs and police costs. And the court can levy a fine on them which ought to go entirely to the victim of the hacking not to the state.

I think it is rather sensible to handle it that way. That means it is unlikely to appeal to politicians.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sex crazed cops arrest dildo sales clerk.

The Theocratic Republic of Texas is certifiably insane and the head loonies in loonyland live in Lubbock. You will remember Lubbock, it was the town where the local sheriff spent his time staring at the crotches of male dancers to make sure they didn’t do pelvic thrusts. The Sheriff announced that such thrusts were not only arousing the women in the audience but satisfying them as well and that is is illegal in Texas.

Now these crazed cops have raided a lingerie store, Something Sexy, for selling “obscene” devices for self-pleasuring. In other words a dildo. One would not think the people of Lubbock or Texas, for that matter, would not be the least bit horrified by dildos. They keep electing them to office. Hell, Texas gave America the the Dildo in Chief.

And here is what is worse. The poor woman who was working as the clerk at the store was not only arrested but faces trial. In addition if she is found guilty of selling a vibrator or dildo she would be forced to register as a sex offender. At some point people will realize these “sex offender” laws have been so expanded in scope and power as to be worthless. Here is a woman who could be listed as sex offender for selling a dildo. In Arizona the crazed Andrew Thomas in Phoenix tried to force a teenage to register as a sex offender for showing a Playboy to some of his schoolmates. In Utah they worked to force two underaged kids to register as sex offenders because they had consenting sex with one another. They were accused of molesting each other. This is happening over and over. People are worried about rapists and such and instead the power-hungry Theopublicans are given them dildo sales clerks.

And that undermines the alleged purposes of such registries. As more and more people realize that being on the list might mean nothing more than selling a dildo they will stop taking the lists seriously. Of course the politicians continue to make life worse for these people by passing more and more laws restricting their freedoms after they have served their time.

This dildo sales clerk could be forbidden from working in certain professions. She can be forbidden to live in large sections of the country. For instance she could be forbidden to live within a mile or so of a school, a park, and other places frequented by children. I know of one case of a man who can’t sleep in his own home. He must leave his family every day and drive well out into the countryside to a separate apartment because he’s a sex offender. When he was 18 he had relations with his girlfriend, who was a couple of weeks under 18. She said it was consenting. No matter to the law he is now a register sex offender and his “victim” is his wife.

Now let’s look at what this woman did. Apparently she used the wrong words. If you call a dildo something other than a dildo you can sell it. If you call it a “safe sex demonstration device” you are within the law. Only if you mention that it might be used for pleasure are you a criminal. Texas Theocrats look down on the idea of pleasure. That is why the give the rest of us so much misery.

Shop owner Gary Evans feels horrible about what happened to his employee. He asked the police officer to arrest him instead and allow the clerk to go. The police refused. I guess they prefer ruining this poor woman’s life instead.The Theocratic Republic of Texas is certifiably insane and the head loonies in loonyland live in Lubbock. You will remember Lubbock, it was the town where the local sheriff spent his time staring at the crotches of male dancers to make sure they didn’t do pelvic thrusts.

Now these crazed cops have raided a lingerie store for selling “obscene” devices for self-pleasuring. In other words a dildo. One would not think the people of Lubbock or Texas, for that matter, would not be the least bit horrified by dildos. They keep electing them to office. Hell, Texas gave America the the Dildo in Chief.

And here is what is worse. The poor woman who was working as the clerk at the store was not only arrested but faces trial. In addition if she is found guilty of selling a vibrator or dildo she would be forced to register as a sex offender. At some point people will realize these “sex offender” laws have been so expanded in scope and power as to be worthless. Here is a woman who could be listed as sex offender for selling a dildo. In Arizona the crazed Andrew Thomas in Phoenix tried to force a teenage to register as a sex offender for showing a Playboy to some of his schoolmates. In Utah they worked to force two underaged kids to register as sex offenders because they had consenting sex with one another. They were accused of molesting each other. This is happening over and over. People are worried about rapists and such and instead the power-hungry Theopublicans are given them dildo sales clerks.

And that undermines the alleged purposes of such registries. As more and more people realize that being on the list might mean nothing more than selling a dildo they will stop taking the lists seriously. Of course the politicians continue to make life worse for these people by passing more and more laws restricting their freedoms after they have served their time.

This dildo sales clerk could be forbidden from working in certain professions. She can be forbidden to live in large sections of the country. For instance she could be forbidden to live within a mile or so of a school, a park, and other places frequented by children. I know of one case of a man who can’t sleep in his own home. He must leave his family every day and drive well out into the countryside to a separate apartment because he’s a sex offender. When he was 18 he had relations with his girlfriend, who was a couple of weeks under 18. She said it was consenting. No matter to the law he is now a register sex offender and his “victim” is his wife.

Now let’s look at what this woman did. Apparently she used the wrong words. If you call a dildo something other than a dildo you can sell it. If you call it a “safe sex demonstration device” you are within the law. Only if you mention that it might be used for pleasure are you a criminal. Texas Theocrats look down on the idea of pleasure. That is why the give the rest of us so much misery.

Shop owner Gary Evans feels horrible about what happened to his employee. He asked the police officer to arrest him instead and allow the clerk to go. The police refused. I guess they prefer ruining this poor woman’s life instead.

One could only guess what the loons in Lubbock would think of this Ikea commercial. No doubt they would advocate arresting all of Sweden.

Labels: ,

The Lies of Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell was an unpleasant man politically. Personally he could be charming. No surprise there. Often the worst people in history could charm crowds and individuals. That does not exonerate them. If anything it makes them even more dangerous. Falwell was rather typical in that sense. Certainly on the occasions that I dealt with him he could be charming.

Of course Falwell’s less than charming side is well known. His theocratic positions have been documented. Some of Falwell’s mind-numbed students at his misnamed “Liberty University” said Falwell will be remembered well because he was never caught in a moral scandal. I guess if, like many a fundamentalist, you only consider morality as what one does with their genitals, that might be true. If morality includes honesty matters are entirely different.

But Jerry Falwell is a liar. Now I don’t mean his political and religious opinions when I say that. Those, I think, are just wrong. They are based on false premises. When I say Falwell is a liar I mean he has made public statements about facts which where the said something he knew wasn’t true. He intentionally lied about things. In all the cases I know of he did it for public relations purposes. He would deny things that were true in order to make himself look better to the public. Perhaps it was vanity. Perhaps he had other motivations. Either way he lied.

Deborah Caldwell of Beliefnet writes how Falwell charmed her. She even called him sincere and mentioned how Falwell bragged that he could turn anyone into a friend. She told how he told her he doesn’t even care if his students “watched R-rated movies.” Caldwell apparently believed him. It made Falwell appear so human and even “kind” to this reporter who had been sent to write a story about Falwell.

But it wasn’t true.

Jayson Whitehead wrote about himself, his father and Falwell. He describes his father as “a leading Christian attorney” who “was enlisted” to defend Falwell on several occasions. One of the perks daddy received was that Jayson was sent to Falwell’s university free of charge. Jayson says this “made it easier on my dad’s bank account” but “it was torture for me.” He described the university as “a highly regulated center where the stress was on what you could not do, sinful things like see R-rated movies, drink alcohol, have a TV in your room, listen to secular music or cuss. All these things were against the rule and a violation meant demerits and often suspension.”

So Falwell tells Caldwell he doesn’t mind if students watch R-rated films and a former student of his, a son of a major figure on the Religious Right (John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institutes) says that students could be suspended for seeing R-rated films. Who is right?

Whitehead’s account is accurate. Caldwell’s account is accurate but then she only reported what Falwell told her and Falwell lied. Could it be that Falwell didn’t mind such movies but his university overrode his wishes and imposed standards he didn’t want? No. I speak as one who knew these people well. Falwell set the rules for his university. This is typical of these fundamentalist megachurches where the pastor is a dictator. His schools are run his way.

At one point Falwell even condemned G-rated films. He said: “We do not even condone the so-called ‘good’ movies since they also contribute to the support of an industry which is basically corrupt. it is never right to accentuate the good in order to tolerate the evil.”

Whitehead’s account is easily verified by reading the code of conduct for students at Liberty University, where liberty is in short supply. Students could be expelled for reprimands and the school’s office of the Inquisition listed the various sins for which students would be reprimanded. Students would receive 12 reprimands and a $50 fine for “attendance at, possession or viewing of,, an R, NC-17 or X rated movie.”

Other crimes included “Deception” something which would get Falwell expelled from his own university; “participation in an unathoriized petition or demonstration;” “entering the residence hallway of the opposite sex or allowing the same;”

One could get 30 reprimands, a $500 fine and 30 hours of “disciplinary community service for “immorality”, “witchcraft,” “possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages” or spending the night with someone of the opposite sex. Reprimands could also be earned for missing curfew, having hair that is too long (for boys), “music code violation”, “possession and/or use of tobacco” and “attendance at a dance.” It seems Mr. Whitehead’s account is quite accurate.

Falwell didn’t mind bending the truth. I first caught on to this during the heydays of Falwell’s Moral Majority. One of their national officers was an odious fundamentalist minister from Indianapolis named Greg Dixon. Dixon ran a megachurch similar to Falwell’s and they were close friends.

I went to Indianapolis to write about Dixon and his crusade. One of Dixon’s subordinates from the church, Rev. Don Boys, was elected as a Republican to the state legislature. One of the first tasks Boys undertook was a “Right to Decency” bill which would have made being gay a felony. As he put it: “We want homosexuality to once again be a crime.” He said: “I don’t hate perverts; I just want to see them in jail away from decent, innocent people. That’s what my bill to reinstate sodomy as a crime would have done.”

Moral Majority official Dixon was all in favor of the bill. In fact he actually wanted to go much further. On numerous occasions he preached that he wanted gay people executed. I had tape recordings of him saying just that and I confronted Dixon with those tapes on a national radio show. He tried to weasel around it a bit but he finally admitted: “Moral Majority, I feel, would take the position that homosexuality is a perversion and should be a felony... From a practical standpoint you’re never going to get capital punishment for homosexuality but the Bible would certainly stand by a society that would be willing to do that.”

So Dixon and Boys, both active officials in Falwell’s group wanted gay people arrested and imprisoned if not executed. And Boys introduced a bill to mandate a prison sentence for homosexuals. To try and push this legislation through Dixon organized a “Rally for Decency” in Indianapolis. The entire purpose of this rally was to make homosexuality a felony. Dixon brought in anti-gay campaigner Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell was the key speaker at this rally. Falwell urged people to get behind the legislation. Meanwhile at the same time another Moral Majority spokesman, Dean Wycoff, was out in California saying: “I believe in capital punishment, and I believe homosexuality is one of those crimes that could be coupled with murder and other sins.”

The Falwellians were quite clear. Homosexuals should be stripped of their rights and imprisoned because they are gay. That was when in a good mood. In a bad mood they wanted gays executed. As Rev. Dixon preached: “I say either fry ‘em or put them in the pen. Don’t unleash them [gays] on the human race.” This man, the National Secretary of Falwell’s group said: “When they say homosexuals should have their civil rights I ask one question: Do you give criminals rights like honest citizens? Absolutely not! Criminals do not have their civil rights.”

Just days after this rally, where Falwell endorsed legislation to incarcerate gay people, the good reverend was in Chicago. He gave a speech at the City Club. He was again asked about his views of gay rights. His answer would be surprising in view of what he had proposed just a couple days earlier. Now he claimed that he had no desire to take away rights from people for being gay he was just “against special rights” for homosexuals. The legislation he endorsed would have turned homosexuality into a felony. He was the keynote speaker at a rally for that legislation. But when the media questioned him he tells the complete opposite of the truth. In other words, he lied.

I have heard Falwell say he was opposed to theocracy and that his Moral Majority did not propose theocracy. Yet I had tapes of the national convention of the Moral Majority. Remember Falwell was the founder and leader of the group. Falwell was at the convention. He heard what his own speakers were proposing. One such speaker was an old minister named W.E. Dowell. Dowell was selected because he used to be Falwell’s minister. And Dowell was totally honest about what Moral Majority was proposing?

Newspapers asking Brother Jerry Falwell today, several time they've asked him this. "Well, wont it be something like it is over in Iran - you religious people taking over -become a religious system." I said, I don't know what he said, but if it had been me I'd said, well the other crowd's had it long enough and they failed, and made such a terrible blot of it, it's time somebody take over.

Dowell said this with Falwell there. And how did the Moral Majority ministers respond to this open call for theocracy? They cheered and applauded. Falwell himself had said he had “a divine mandate from God to go right into the halls of Congress and fight for laws that will save America.” Falwell’s press conference was a front. He said in public what he thought needed to be said. He claimed that he had no desire to strip gay people of any rights at all just days after calling for legislation to have them imprisoned.

In 1984 Falwell participated in a television show. In the audience was an old friend from his Bible school days, Jerry Sloan. Falwell used to spend “many Sunday dinners with his feet under our table” wrote Sloan.

Sometime prior to this show Sloan was watching Falwell’s church broadcast. In that show Falwell spoke about the Metropolitan Community Church. He said:
“Look at the Metropolitan Community Church today, the gay church, almost accepted into the World Council fo Churches recently, the National Council of Churches almost, the vote was against them, but they will try again and again until they get in and the tragedy is that they would get one vote because they are spoken of here in Jude as being brute beasts, that is, going to the baser lust of the flesh to live immorality. And so, Jude describes this as apostasy. Thank God this vile and satanic system will one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.”
Sloan was so surprised by the remark he went out and bought a VCR so he could record the sermon later that day during a rebroadcast.

At this television show Sloan asked Falwell why he made this remark. “As I tried to get the quote out,” said Sloan, “Falwell kept interrupting me and said what I was saying was ‘an absolute lie.’” Falwell “was extremely agitated” and kept denying that he had every said any such thing. And he told Sloan he would give him $5,000 if he could prove that Falwell ever said these remarks.

A couple of days later Sloan returned to the TV show with the video tape in question. In addition he had an audio tape of the sermon in question produced by Falwell’s own ministry. As Sloan said: “At least three times Falwell said I was lying so it was a matter of personal honor for me to produce the tape and show that he was the only one lying, the $5,000 would just be icing on the cake.”

Sloan had an attorney write Falwell saying that the check for $5,000 should be mailed to them as Falwell promised if the tape is produced. He was directed to his own tape recording of the sermon as additional evidence. Even though Falwell said he would pay the money if the tape were produced his attorney “wrote us a letter basically saying it would be a cold day in you-know-where before he gave me $5,000.” So apparently Falwell was lying about that as well.

Falwell was scheduled to return to California for fundraising and Sloan and his attorney filed a law suit for “breach of an oral contract”. Falwell promised to pay $5,000 if it be could be proven he had lied about those statements. It was proven he lied and he now refused to pay up. In other words the promise was a lie as well. A suit was filed in court just a few hours before Falwell landed in Sacramento. Falwell was served with legal papers and the media was told about the event.

From there things got worse for Falwell. When the case went to court the local municipal judge ruled in favor of Sloan. Falwell attacked saying that because the judge was Jewish he had a “natural prejudice” against Falwell as a Christian. This was mild considering that Falwell said the “Antichrist” was Jewish.

Even though Falwell lost the suit he still refused to pay the $5,000 he promised. Instead he appealed but he lost the appeal and was order to pay an additional $2875 plus interest. A few months later Falwell paid up. To be precise, he didn’t pay up. Even though he personally made the promise to pay he had the money taken out of Moral Majority funds.

Jerry Falwell was a manipulator. He would say one thing in one situation and a very different thing someplace else. He did not hesitate to deny statements he had made. Or he would claim he was being misquoted. Yet Falwell knew what he had said. But he also knew that the American public wouldn’t take kindly to some of his more extreme statements. So for the sake of PR he would lie or hedge the facts in order to make himself look better.

Now none of these lies strike me as “major sins” but they are sufficiently deceptive to have one of his students reprimanded and perhaps expelled from Liberty University. I do think Falwell committed some very great sins. But what I see as sins he sees as virtues. He was mean-spirited and bigoted. He spent much of his early ministry fighting civil rights for blacks and the rest of his ministry opposing equality for gay people. I think that is a moral shortcoming. He believed things I think are false. It is is right to do so but he lobbied hard to use state coercion to impose his morality on others. I think that is a major moral shortcoming. But in Falwell’s own extensive list of sins these don’t get much play. But even fundamentalist Christians say that lying is a sin. And Falwell. He distorted facts in order to make his ministry look good. By my own standards Falwell is condemn several times over. Here I just wanted to show that by his own standards he also stands condemned.


Falwell follower arrested with bombs.

One of Jerry Falwell's followers, a student at Falwell's Liberty University, has been arrested. Mark Uhl, 19, was apprehended with six explosive devices. Police say he told his family he had made the bombs and that he planned to attend Falwell's funeral. But the police insist that the funeral was not a target for disruption by Uhl.

The police also say there are indications that others were involved with Uhl in the bomb making and investigations continue. ABC News reports that the targets for the bombs were anti-Falwell protesters. ABC says Uhl "reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service." Three other suspects are currently being sought by police.

Jerry Falwell wasn't a big fan of free speech either. And the Right tries to tell us that American Fundamentalists don't use bombs! Uhl isn't the first either. I have to wonder if Alberto Gonzales is going to recommend that Bush authorize the use of torture on Uhl in order to secure more information about the bomb plot.

Update: I suspected as much and news accounts now confirm that the protesters who would have been the object of Uhl's bombs were the cult members from the odious Westboro Baptist Church -- a truly sad lot of people. It is also revealed that Uhl and the three other suspects who are being sought were all together in an ROTC program (Reserved Office Training Corps) which the military sets up in schools to recruit kids into the military. One of the suspects is currently in the military.

Uhl was also a member of the ROTC program at Falwell's school and was planning to become a military chaplain. The military has been a prime target of fundamentalists in recent years causing numerous problems. The Air Force Academy had a major investigation because fundamentalists had apparently taken over and used their positions there inappropriately to recruit people into their churches. At a VA Hospital another fundamentalist chaplain is lying low after a Jewish soldier complained of constant harassment. The orthodox Jew was also denied kosher food and staff refused to call his rabbi for him to bring kosher food privately.

What is shocking is how many on line news stories have headlines implying that there was a bomb plot against the funeral of Falwell. This is false. Actually it is dishonest. AOL News says: "Bomb Plot Thwarted at Falwell's Funeral"; Lynchburg News and Advocate says: "Arrest made in Falwell funeral threat. Australia The Age: "Falwell funeral bomb plot". True, the articles do mention the bomber was a student from Falwell's own school but many people never read past headlines.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Milton Friedman's rises from grave spreads death and disaster in wake.

I have long thought that one of the worst writers around is Paul Krugman. He is just a very nasty man with issues. His hatred overflows his columns regularly.

One of his more absurd opinion pieces was recently published in the New York Times. At least with opinion pieces he doesn’t need facts or evidence. He just needs an opinion, his hate and a cup full of irrationality to boot. Economist Russell Roberts has brought to my attention that Krugman is now claiming the Milton Friedman is responisble for people dying.

Yes, the much honored but deceased economist is supposedly responsible for people dying at this very time. And he uses food scares to prove his point. Terror is an effect weapon and Krugman doesn’t mind using it. I don’t mean terrorism just the stirring up of terror, the fear-mongering that Statists like Krugman (and I should add his counterparts on the Right) use with amazing regularity.

Who’s responsible for the new fear of eating? Some blame globalization; some blame food-producing corporations; some blame the Bush administration. But I blame Milton Friedman.

He mentions the various cases of E. coli where people get sick from the food we eat. So was Uncle Miltie running around the fields before his death lacing the fields with poison to knock off people long after he’s gone. It concerns me. I had dinner with the man. I sat next to him at the table. I even left my food unattended at a couple of points during the meal. Perhaps I should rush off to the clinic for an exam. No doubt the moment I mention Milton Friedman I’ll be rushed into intensive care. But then that was some years ago but maybe it’s just slow acting! I do fear a bit warm. (Which couldn’t be anything to do with hot summer weather we are having here.)

How does Krugman prove his point. First, he mentions that Friedman was a critic of government consumer protection. Friedman argued it didn’t work well. He argued it didn’t really make consumers safer and it had unintended consequences that often made them worse off and it cost a lot of money in the meantime.

Krugman’s view is the opposite. If there is a state control that someone proposes Krugman gets orgasmic over it. He has wet dreams over socialism just call it something else.. He thinks a book of photos of Stalin, Marx, Mao, Castro and such is just raw erotica.

According to Krugman the laughable Bush administration is not pushing through new strong controls (see I told you he gets aroused at the very thought of economic bondage) because they are in the grips of a free market ideology. Okay, so it is laughable. The reality is that none of Friedman’s suggestions on this matter were tried. What is in place is the system that Krugman and his allies advocated.

Some would say that the food problems still arise with regulations show that the regulatory system itself doesn’t work. Krugman’s view is relatively consistent. He always says the controls were stringent enough, big enough, broad enough. He always advocates more state power. No one he hates Milton Friedman.

Now is it Bush? That is a different question and one that can’t be so easily dismissed. Bush is supremely inept when it comes to the occupants of the oval office. His handling of Katrina was a clear indication of that. Ditto for the war, the budget, constitutional liberties, ad nauseum. But beyond lip service paid by Bush to woe his own Republican base there hasn’t been an administration so NOT influenced by Friedman. It takes a certain kind of insanity to accuse Bush of believing in too much freedom.

But are E.coli outbreaks really that unprecedented that Krugman thinks he can use them to slander a dead man? Actually not but then facts are not on speaking terms with Krugman. Let’s look at past recent E.coli outbreaks.

During Bush, who I also loathe as anyone reading this blog knows, we had an E.coli outbreak where 70 people got sick from some infected meat. And then there was the fresh spinach outbreak of last year were 200 got ill and three died. Still pretty awful stuff but hardly earth shattering.

So how about under Mr. Clinton? In 1999 there was an E.coli outbreak in New York state that sickened 781 people. That’s way more than under Bush though Bush did have three fatalities. But that isn’t the end of the outbreaks under Clinton. In 1997 there was another outbreak with 108 becoming sick and three having kidney failure. Still no deaths. In 1996 there were 70 cases of E.coli infections and one died. In 1994 another 23 were infected and in 1993 over 700 people were infected and four of them died.

It is rather gruesome but we do need to do a body count here. Bush: 270 sick, 3 deaths. Clinton: About 1,700 sick and 5 deaths. Was Milton Fridman sneaking into the White House at night and whispering in Bill Clinton’s ear?

Before becoming an journalistic hit-man Krugman was also a paid adviser to the Enron company. Not exactly prime credentials in my books. Even the omsbudsman for the New York Times had to say that “Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.”

Labels: ,

A Fox News moment.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Michael Moore and Leonardo DiCaprio release "activist" films.

The Blob is returning. Michael Moore, the dishonest, deceptive extremist from the Left has produced another one of his psuedo-documentary films, this time attacking American health care. No field in America is as regulated, subsidized, controlled, investigated and shackled as health care. So, of course Moore’s solution is more regulation, more subsidies, more control, more investigations and more shackles.

In his previous films Moore used every underhanded dirty trick to distort the facts. He would quote people out of context, he would change the order of statements in order to give them different meanings, he would stage events and then present his staged scene as if it were normal. Moore is to the Left what Ann Coulter is to the Right: dishonest, manipulative, and unreliable. I personally cringed when he produced his Fahrenheit 911 film because I opposed the war in Iraq. I do not want Moore on my side on anything as he has no credibility.

But he does have fans as in the true meaning of the word: fanatics. And they want Moore to lie to them. Moore’s lying began with his first film Roger & Me which chronicled his “unsuccessful” attempt to interview General Motors chairman Roger Smith. That is the basic theme of the film.

The then relatively slim Moore pursues Smith repeatedly desperately seeking to interview him about the effects that downsizing a plant had on Moore’s hometown, Flint, Michigan. Moore made much of his working-class roots in Flint except Moore was not from Flint. He was from Davison, Michigan which was very different. Davison was much wealthier and much whiter than Flint. Well under 1% of the population was African-American and the poverty rate was half the national average. But for the sake of the film it looked better if Moore lied about his actual hometown.

And where the film portrayed Moore as a Quixotesque individual on a lone crusade to bring down the rich and powerful the truth was something different. The reality is that the film of Smith was someone else’s idea and Moore, as the editor of a far Left rag, had been asked to help them raise the funds to do a documentary presenting their complaints against GM. The actually would-be filmmakers turned over all their documentation and material to Moore so he could help them raise funds for their project.

Moore left Michigan to work for the Left-wing Mother Jones magazine. But he was quickly fired from that position. He then filed a law suit against the magazine for millions claiming wrongful dismissal. Rather than fight the claims the magazine took a cheaper alternative and paid Moore a severance pay which he then used to produce the film on Smith. No mention of the originators of the idea or all their material, now in Moore’s possession, was made.

Throughout his first film Moore showed how the city of Flint responded to layoffs at the plant through feeble “projects” to create jobs. And here was Moore’s first use of his deceptive timelines, a tactic he has used repeatedly to distort facts. The projects he ridiculed in Flint may have deserved ridicule but they had nothing to do with the layoffs from GM--nor could they. They were typical stupid government projects that were tried BEFORE the layoffs at the GM plant. They were not, as Moore presented them, responses to the layoffs at all. When questioned about this Moore’s excuse was that they took place in the same decade.

And what about that illusive interview with Smith? We see endless vain attempts by Moore to get his interview and that is how the film ends. Lies. Moore did interview Smith, twice. At a GM stockholders meeting Moore had a lengthy exchange with Smith on issues. And later Moore had a one-on-one filmed interview with Smith as well. Those were inconvenient details that ruined Moore’s story so he simply deleted them.

On the other hand when two Left-wing filmmakers Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk tried to interview Moore he did his level best to avoid speaking to them the very thing he falsely critized Smith over. Moore’s dishonest tactics were used in every single film he has produced to date. So I see no reason to assume that his new film promoting state control of health care won’t be any different. Moore was correct that Bush lied about Iraq but where does he get off lecturing on honesty when it is a trait he doesn't practice himself?

If the Blob’s new film isn’t bad enough we now have to endure Leonardo DiCaprio making documentaries on the end of the world. His film, The 11th Hour is “on the environmental crisis” and “his message is urgent.” Yawn! Every environmental hysteric’s message is “urgent”. Really, I find them tiresome. They ought to dress up in sack cloth and wear long scraggly hair while marching with signs saying “The End is Nigh.”

DiCaprio admits he knows little about science, or the issues he’s tackling, but that’s okay he says because “it all comes from a good place.” He admits he is using his Hollywood fame to promote a cause but says it allows scientists to “speak freely and openly to tell the truth.” Gee, anyone notice how difficult it is for the doomsayers to get time on television to “speak freely”? In reality it is the skeptics who are rarely afforded the opportunity to question the ideological driven science of the Left.

The hilarious part of all this was that DiCaprio premiered his film in the luxury of the Cannes film festival. How much carbon did he and his entourage emit flying halfway around the world to sit in luxury hotels in order to premier the film. DiCaprio’s coproducer, Nadia Connners explained: “Sure we have these yachts behind us - but even they could run on bio-fuel.”

DiCaprio was asked if he flew by private jet to Cannes and said: “Not this time.” Hmm, apparently other times he does. He quickly, however, lectured the reporter for asking this inconvenient question: “I think there’s a certain danger.... Talking, for example, about how Al Gore flies or how he conducts his life, is just confusing the bigger issue where there is no real doubt about global warming. This isn’t a film about one person but about encouraging our corporations and government to practice ecology in our everyday living standards.” He repeated this defense of "waste" again: "The way he [Gore] travels and the way he lives his life should not be criticized."

Oh, I see, do as I say not as I do. Why do “corporations” produce specific products? Because people buy them. So it is about consumers like DiCaprio in the end since the consumer determines, through his purchases, what will or will not be produced. No corporation is going to produce a product that no one will buy. And since DiCaprio is a millionaire, several times over, his buying habits influence production far more than my own meager spending does. So when he does use a private jet he is encouraging private jets. When he flies executive class he ups carbon emissions. He could go tourist like us plebeians but doesn't. At the Academy Awards he promoted the "green" agenda and viewers were urged on screen to use mass transit, yet DiCaprio and his fellow Green lecturers used limos instead.

DiCaprio's film is a full frontal attack on modern technology in all forms. The left-wing Guardian describes the film as "positing that since the invention of the steam engine man has ceased to live in harmony with the environment and has used Earth as a resource to be ruthlessly exploited."

DiCaprio lives in mansion with a private pool and a private pool (heated?) and his own basketball court. DiCaprio isn’t defending Al Gore as much as trying to deflect criticism for his own hypocrisy. DiCaprio says focusing on his own massive consumption of resources is merely “finding another way to convolute the issue and argue about semantics and things that ultimately don’t matter.” So they “ultimately don’t matter”? Apparently if I consume a resource it matters. If DiCaprio consumes far more of the same resource it doesn’t matter.

But DiCaprio is forthcoming about his goal. He wanted to produce a film that will “get the audience emotionally involved to the point where they would want to take steps to get involved.” Now that is normally called propaganda. If he said “rationally involved” it might be science. But the purpose of the film is not to present science but to create activists. And in that sense he’s rather similar to Michael Moore.

As for consumption consider the treatment DiCaprio gets when he stays in a suite of rooms at the luxurious Plaza Athénée in Paris. First the suite is meticulously cleaned by a team of housekeepers. Then it is inspected by “an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter and a painter... making double sure everything works perfectly and is in pristine condition.” DiCaprio is a “VP4” which is the highest class of VIP and who receives the most expensive, and thus most carbon emitting, treatment, of any guest at a hotel filled with the rich and famous.

At this level of service the guest is treated with kid gloves and pampered. The hotel keeps meticulous records of what the person eats and even how they prefer their sheets on the bed. “In some cases, the entire room has been photographed so that when guests return—even a year later—everything is exactly how they left it.” One staff member explains: “If they left a certain book open to page 240, they will find it on the exact same table open to that very page.”

DiCaprio attacks Americans for not "setting an example" saying "If we don't take any action then how can anyone else be expected to?" But he is quite clear that the "we" is Americans in general but not himself and Mr. Gore. Apparently since they come from "a good place" they are exempt.

If the hypocrisy of Rev. Ted Haggard or Jimmy Swaggart is an issue -- and it is -- then the hypocrisy of the Al Gores and Leonardo DiCaprios of the world ought to be a story as well. Of course they buy “carbon offsets” they answer. So, if you are rich enough you can buy the right to to emit carbon while pushing for state coercion to reduce the living standards of the average person.

Apparently the “VP4” treatment they receive, because they purchase it, gives the wealthy like Moore, Gore and DiCaprio, the perception that there are rules for the masses which they can buy their way out of.

Addendum: My prediction is that we won't see major curbs on carbon emissions as a result of governmental controls. We will only see them when new technologies replace old ones. I also think that we will not see any of the major disasters predicted by the global warming hysterics in spite of no meaningful aciton being taken. Eventually the apocalyptics will move on to another imagined crisis. But no matter the crisis they will have the same solution: more state control.

Labels: , , ,