Thursday, December 31, 2009

Now the TSA gets off its ass

After the travel gestapo working for Homeland Security totally flubbed the warning they received about would-be terrorist Umar Abdullmutallab they have finally gotten off their fat asses and done something. Once again, it is the wrong thing.

As you will remember they imposed these new absurd travel regulations stripping people of the right to pee during the last hour of a flight. Well, that information was made public through some blogs. So what do the Travel Nazis do? They go after the blogs with subpoenas.

The writer Christopher Elliot, found a TSA agent at his front door with a subpoena saying: "You are hereby commanded by the administrator, Transportation Security Administration, United States Department of Homeland Security to produce and permit inspection of the records described below...."

While the TSA didn't have time to investigate someone reported by his own family as a terrorist, who flew without luggage and who appeared on a list of suspected terrorists, they do have time to harass bloggers. Why? The bloggers printed the new TSA "guidelines" on "How to Harass Innocent People Why Ignoring Real Threats." Okay, maybe the TSA called it SD 1544-09-06. They are demanding the bloggers reveal the source of their information. It is a pathetic commentary on the Homeland Security State of Napolitano and Obama, when instead of fixing what went wrong, they concentrate on unimportant issues while harassing bloggers.

The TSA sent two of their thugs to visit travel blogger Steve Frischling as well. They confiscated his lap top computer. Frischling said that they threatened to "interfer" with his contract to write a blog for an airline if he refused to cooperate with them. They wanted him to name names. Is Joe McCarthey running TSA? The New York Times is reporting that the TSA refuses to say how many American bloggers are being harassed under this new fishing expedition. What they want is to silence anyone exposing TSA stupidity—which would be a full time job.

So, all you morons who thought Obama would be different than Bush, you are right. He's worse. I could be wrong, but I don't remember TSA thugs harassing bloggers under Bush. That seems to be an Obama innovation. Certainly this contempt for the First Amendment is not unique it was used before—by men like Stalin, Mao, Mussolini and Hitler.

Huffington Post says:
The agents threatened to get Frischling -- a blogger for KLM airlines -- fired from his job, confiscate all his electronic devices -- phones, computers, and iPods -- and declare him a security risk -- which would get him on the No Fly list -- unless he cooperated.

Frischling -- who has worked for Life, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, and was embedded with troops in Iraq -- didn't know what to do. He couldn't reach a lawyer.

The civil subpoena threatened a fine and up to a year in jail for failure to comply.

The TSA has been under fire lately for failure to stop the Christmas Bomber from boarding the NW flight.
Frischling told the Huffington Post that he didn't know who sent him the memo and that it is not in any of his computers. The memo was hardly secret. It was sent to approximately 10,000 airlines, airports, and security firms around the world, including locations in Riyadh, Islamabad, and Lagos.

So the TSA sends out a directive to thousands of places, which is seen by tens of thousands of people, and then starts harassing two people for knowing what is in the directive. This is par for the bungling, authoritarian perfomance of Napolitano. She really does want to be another Janet Reno. Now all she needs is to kill some women and children by buring down their "compound" and send in armed thugs to terrorize a small child. Janet Reno Lives. Be Afriad. Be Very Afraid.

Image: Janet Reno showing the world some of her "tools of persuasion." She promised to later show reporters the "rack," "iron maiden" and other tools she finds usesful as first security reichfürher.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

More questions on the failed TSA

It is astounding to watch how the Obama administration has been dealing with the most recent incident on a international flight. We should itemize first, all the ways in which the bureaucratic system of governance failed to deal with the problem.

We know that the family of the would-be terrorist, Umar Abdulmutallab, had warned the U.S. government that he had become fanatical in his Islamic beliefs and that they felt he posed a threat. We know the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria was informed and passed the information on to Washington. The U.S. Embassy, however, didn’t revoke Abdulmutallab’s existing visa to fly into the United States. Instead they decided to flag it for more investigation if were to apply for a second visa later on. So, while they felt the threat was possible, they decided to allow him to fly without any further investigation at this time.

Once the information got to Washington the terrorism bureaucracy put Abdulmutallab on the list of possible terrorists and that is all they did. No other action was taken. And when Abdulmutallab purchased a ticket to fly to the U.S., the government warning system on terrorism gave him a clearance, no red flags of any kind were waved. Security personnel were not told that Abdulmutallab deserved any extra scrutiny whatsoever.

Then we learn that Abdulmutallab purchased his ticket at the airport with cash, which our government says is a “red flag” and that he had no checked luggage for his international flight—allegedly another red flag. So we had red flags flapping wildly in the breeze and the terror bureaucracy simply passes Abdulmutallab for the flight. And security personnel never found the explosives that Abdulmtuallab strapped to his leg nor the syringe of liquid he had hidden in his underwear.

Now let’s investigate what did work. Abdulmutallab attempted to light the explosive. It popped, it fizzled, it sparked and it sent off some smoke and some flames. But it didn’t explode, which is pretty much what happened last time this was tried. Passengers immediately saw what happened and jumped Abdulmutallab. Horrors! They left their seats during the last hour of the flight, something that is now forbidden by bureaucratic edict alone. The passengers worked. They grabbed the man, they extinguished the flames, they took him into custody and with crew members handcuffed him. They even strip searched him to make sure he didn’t have other explosives on him. The crisis was averted for two reasons. First is the difficulty of concocting a bomb on the plane means that no explosion took place, only sparks, some flames and smoke. Second is the fact that passengers will act when they have to and are especially vigilante since 9/11.

Yet Reichführer Janet Reno went on television to tell the nation “the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days.” The New York Times reports: “Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, echoed the positive comments Ms. Napolitano made on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ saying in an interview on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS that ‘in many ways, this system has worked.’”

Worked for whom? It has given immense powers to unelected bureaucrats. It has created a massive bureaucracy that lives off taxpayers and sucks up to politicians for more goodies. It has stripped Americans of numerous freedoms. But it hasn’t worked in stopping incidents like this.

The government’s famed database on terrorism suspects failed since Abdulmuttalab was listed there. An official for the government told the Times, “The information goes in there, and it’s available to all the agencies. The point is to marry up data from different sources over time that may indicate an individual might be a terrorist.” Unfortunately it appears that the way government works the data is not “married up” until after something happens.

And consider how the government bends over backwards to avoid stereotyping potential terrorists. They will have staff pat down, bark at, search and harass some 90-year-old Anglican nun with a walker even though one fact remains constant for the terrorists and it isn’t that they are Anglicans. The reality is and has been that the attackers are Islamists. In order to not discomfort Muslims the government policy is to waste a lot of time discomforting everyone.

If a women were raped we don’t randomly search people on the street. And the police don’t just go out and start questioning women, old men in wheelchairs and children. The reality is that the rapist going to be a man in virtually case, and he is going to be over a certain age and physically capable of using violence. Resources are not expended on individuals unlikely to have been involved. But at the airports 99% of the effort to find terrorists is diffused among people who are unlikely to be terrorists.

The net result is that the effort is spread out thinly with random individuals being subjected to extra measure mainly for show. Meanwhile the individuals who fit the profile of the typical terrorist—male, young and Muslim—can pass cursory inspections, as Abdulmuttalab did. Since the government refuses to “profile” suspects this means that every passenger, unlikely to be a terrorist, acts as a cover for the terrorists. Government randomly picks passengers for extra scrutiny because the “uncertainty” is supposed to impede the terrorists. But the odds are with the terrorists. Only one out of millions of people is likely to be a terrorist. So the chance of being randomly selected for extra scrutiny is almost non-existent. The only other option is to profile who is chosen for extra security measures but that violates some politically correct worldview and is shunned.

Even Christopher Hitchens seems annoyed at the utter stupidity of the moves by Napolitano. Pesonally I like Hitchens as an individual. We had to work together at one point and our interactions were pleasant and I got a signed copy of God is Not Good out of the deal. But Hitchens was one of those wrapped up in the fever over the war on terror. Perhaps he is starting to figure something out: just because you favor government doing something that would be objectively good doesn’t mean that the government will do the job well. In fact, there is a high chance that they will not only do it badly but make the original problem worse in the process. Hitchens writes:
Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can't—or won't. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to "feel safe." The demand to satisfy that sad illusion can be met with relative ease if you pay enough people to stand around and stare significantly at the citizens' toothpaste. My impression as a frequent traveler is that intelligent Americans fail to protest at this inanity in case it is they who attract attention and end up on a no-fly list instead. Perfect.

It was reported over the weekend that in the aftermath of the Detroit fiasco, no official decision was made about whether to raise the designated "threat level" from orange. Orange! Could this possibly be because it would be panicky and ridiculous to change it to red and really, really absurd to lower it to yellow? But isn't it just as preposterous (and revealing), immediately after a known Muslim extremist has waltzed through every flimsy barrier, to leave it just where it was the day before?

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Below is a recording of a live announcement from a pilot regarding the new retrictions that Janet "Iron Fist" Napolitano is going to impose in order to give you the illusion that the government is making flying safer. Please act deluded. Failure to act deluded could be cause to harass, threaten, taser, shot, or incarcerate you. Remember, Big Brother is our friend.

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How the most religious states fare.

The Pew Survey has released information on the most religious states in the United States and the least religious. They look at four factors to rate the depth of religious belief. The four questions rate the importance of religion, worship attendance, frequency of prayer and certainty in the existence of a god. I’m not convinced that the middle issues are as important as the other two. Using the two more important factors the top ten most religious states would be: Mississippi; Alabama; Arkansas; South Carolina; Tennessee; Louisiana; Georgia; Kentucky; North Carolina; and Oklahoma. Using all four survey questions wouldn't appear to change the ranking significantly.

The ten least religious states would be: New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, California, Nevada and Colorado.

With this in mind we can test a claim made by religious folk the when people are more religious society is more moral, stable, peaceful and prosperous. These are objective claims that can be investigated. So I did.
Blessings from God?

First, let’s investigate the claim that religious people receive material blessings from their deity because they are religious. This claim is quite prevalent. I heard it from the pulpit frequently, especially by the top leaders of the Religious Right. You will often hear it said that America is prosperous because has been a “Christian nation.” And the Bible clearly indicates that long-life is one blessing from Jehovah to his followers. If this is true we would expect those states with higher levels of religious fervor to more prosperous than those with lower levels of religious belief.

I looked at two different statistics that would indicate some sort of benevolent blessing to the believing states as opposed to the more secular states. First, I thought the poverty rate would be a good place to start. If the Christian deity increases prosperity due to one’s faith then the more religious states ought to have lower poverty rates and the more secular states ought to have higher poverty rates. Unfortunately it seems the deity got it backwards: the percentage of people living below the poverty line in the ten most religious states averaged out to 16.67%. In the more secular states the percentage below the poverty line was 10.3%—at least according to the Census Bureau.

So would the deity do better with life expectancy. Many Christians make the claim that believing and surrendering to God will increase life expectancy. Once again, if this is true then the most religious states ought to have an longer average life expectancy than do the least religious states. Again it seems the deity got things backwards. The average life expectancy in the ten most religious states was 74.9 but in the least religious states it was 77.8. Of course I don’t think religion has anything to do with life expectancy, but if it did, then it would appear that religion lowers life expectancy instead of increasing it.

Personal Morality

One of the most persistent claims I hear from Christians is that without the belief in some sort of deity it is not possible to be live a moral life. They are quite blunt that a belief in God is necessary otherwise people will live immorally and violently. First, lets look at some firm numbers that will indicate if this is true.

Christians are very adamant about sexual morality. It is an absolute sin to have sex outside marriage—this is a widespread belief most likely believed by the dominant conservative sects. The smaller “liberal” denominations are a bit more flexible. So does religion increase, or decrease, the likelihood of having sex outside marriage? First I looked at the data for the number of teenage births as a percentage of all births in the state. If belief in a god acts as some divine chastity belt then the teen pregnancy rates ought to be lower in the ten most religious states. In those religious states teen pregnancies made up 16.7% of all pregnancies. In the less religious states it was 10.3%. A different way of measure teen pregnancy rates can be found here, but it comes to similar results.

I also looked at the percentage of all pregnancies for unwed women. This is one of the key moral messages that the conservative Christians preach. So how’s it working out for them on that front? In the religious states 39% of all pregnancies were to single women. In the least religious states it was 33.8%.

Christians preach the “sanctity of marriage” very loudly. They say marriage is so sacred that gay people can’t have it because they would “degrade” it. I was a bit worried that the least religious states might lose out on this one because the Pew Survey listed Nevada as one of the least religious states. Nevada is a divorce mecca because it has the easiest divorce laws in the United States. So people go to Nevada for the express purpose of getting a divorce. That means Nevada has the highest divorce rate in the country, as you would expect giving the circumstances. What I found was the divorce rate per 1,000 people, in the most religious states, was 3.95 and in the least religious states it was 3.91. If I exclude Nevada’s high divorce rate the less religious states have an average of 3.62 per 1,000. So, even with Nevada included the less religious states have lower levels of divorce. Excluding Nevada the difference is even more pronounced.

Please remember I’m not particularly opposed to divorce nor am I opposed to sex before marriage. I’m even in favor of sex after marriage. I am just using criteria that Christians emphasize and showing that their belief system doesn’t even seem to support the results they say they want.

Morality Toward Others

To me the real test of morality isn’t whether you get pregnant, or have sex outside marriage, or even get a divorce. The real test of morality is how you treat others. Many believers tell me that without a god then there is no objective morality about things like rape and murder. So I looked specifically at the issues of violent offenses against other people. If religion makes people moral than the more religious states ought to have less violent crime while the less religious states ought to have more violent crime.

First, I looked at violent crime in general. The Census Bureau keeps such statistics on the basis of the numbers of such crimes per 100,000 people. In the religious states there are an average of 520.7 violent crimes per 100,000. In the less religious states the number is significantly lower: 370.3. What about forcible rape? That really ought to be a double taboo since it includes violence and sex outside marriage (usually). In the ten most religious states the average number of rapes, per 1,000 population was 30.3; in the less religious states it was 24.5. So, far this wasn’t looking good for the religious states.

I then decided to check out murder rates. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard believers argue that murder is only wrong because God says it is, and since unbelievers don’t believe in a god then they have no moral restraint on killing others. I was doubtful of that myself. So I checked the murder rate per 100,000 population. In the ten most religious states the rate was 7 murders per 100,000 people. In the less religious states it was 2.49. That’s almost a 3 to 1 ratio.


I looked at two main areas. The first is whether believers are somehow blessed by their deity for believing. That they have higher poverty rates and shorter life expectancy in states that are more religious than in those that are less religious seems to contradict that idea.

The second area regards the larger realm of personal morality. That two has two areas. The first of them was how people in religious states act according to the moral teachings of their own religion. We see that that what most conservative Christians would describe as “sexual sin” is more prevalent in religious states than in the less religious states. And divorce, which strikes at the very heart of the “sanctity of marriage” believe is higher in the religious states and lower in the more secular state. It would seem that the people in the least religious states are more likely to live up to “Christian morality” than the people in the more Christian states.

The second area of morality was how people act toward others. For that we looked at violent crime in general, violent rape and murder. There is little question about the immorality of these actions and widespread consensus that such acts are wrong and should be outlawed. What we saw was that stronger religious beliefs did not lower the rate for these crimes at all. The states with highest “faith” rating had more violence, rape and murder than the state with the lowest rating.

There are other ways to checking how these states compare. We could use VD rates as a proxy for morality indicators. I believe if we do the more religious states would lose out again. We can look at polls on things like torture—but polls done on that topic showed support for torture higher among religious people than non-religious people. We could look at the well-being of children in the two groups. A quick look at the “Kids Count” index of the Anne E. Casey Foundation shows that the religious states doing less well than the less religious states. Alabama ranks 48th; Arkansas 47th, Georgia 42nd, Kentucky 41st, Louisiana 49th, Mississippi 50th, North Carolina 37th, Oklahoma 44th, South Carolina 45th, and Tennessee 46th. In comparison the less religious states did as follows: Alaska 35th, California 20th, Colorado 22nd, Connecticut 4th, Maine 12th, Masschusetts 5th, Nevada 39th, New Hampshire 1st, Rhode Island 15th, and Vermont 8th. (I can’t say whether I agree with these ratings, they are used just as an example. Child abuse rates could be used as well.)

If you think there are other valid data sets to use suggest them in the comment section. I’d be curious to see how these two sets of states compare to one another across a wide range of measurements. I picked ones I thought were obvious and uncontroversial and didn’t know precisely what current statistics would show when applied to the states in the Pew Survey. I did not pick the states, I use the Pew data. Pew doesn’t rate the kind of religious beliefs well here though other surveys they have done do indicate the kind of Christianity that predominates. So, you will find that many of the professed Christians in the less religious states actually tend to be “liberals” in theology while the Christians in the more religious states tend to be more fundamentalist. That would indicate a wide divergence of religious intensity than is showing here. The divergence is because these numbers make the less religious states appear more religious than they are while underestimating the fervency of the believers in the more religious states.
Notes on methodology: In all cases I used percentages or rates per 100,000 (or per 1,000) population. This standardizes the rating so that the numbers take into account the varying population sizes. All the numbers used are unaffected by population differences. I took the statistics for all 10 of the most religious states and averaged them to one number. I then did the same for the 10 least religious states. This averaging out allows to compare the differences between the two groups as a whole. To duplicate my spreadsheet go to the sources listed and take down the data for the 20 states being studied. (I did this by one set of data for the most religious states and another for the least religious states.) Total up the numbers and average them out. Unless there is a typo in my spreadsheet, and I tried to check it carefully, then you should get the same results.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flubbed terrorists known to government.

The Nigerian who tried to light explosive strapped to his leg was known to the U.S. government. Umar Abdulmutallab's name was added to a list of known or suspsected terrorists by the government a month ago. However, when the man's name was run through the database, before he could board his flight, it came up with a green light. There was no warning of any kind. There wasn't even a suggestion that he be put under additional scrutiny. Instead of focusing on people the government KNOWS to be risks the bureaucrats prefer to go after everyone.

There are new restrictions on hand luggage put into place—yet the explosives the man carried were strapped to his leg and never in hand luggage. There is the new regulation confining passengers to their seats yet the man was in his seat when he tried to light the explosive. Abdulmutallab would have been in compliance with all the new restrictions imposed by the government had they been put in place before he boarded the plane. In other words, NONE of the new regulations would have had any impact on the incident. These regulations do not prevent incidents such as the one that happened, that is clear. The incident is merely an excuse for the additional regulations not a justification.

Take the new rule on one piece of carry-on luggage only as an example. Abdulmutallab had only one piece of carry-on luggage. In fact, it was the only luggage he had. Apparently no one found a man flying thousands of miles, with just one piece of hand luggage unusual. His ticket showed him being on his trip for almost two weeks—yet he had no luggage and no one found that unusual. He was on a list of suspected terrorists which exists to allegedly warn airport security about yet the U.S. government gave the man the green light so security staff were not even warned to give the man a bit of additional scrutiny.

Instead of focusing on ways in which the existing failed the bureaucrats like Napolitano look for ways to complicate the lives of innocent people. One month ago our government listed Abdulmutallab as a potential terrorist and yet they approved him to fly without even a hint that he might be a problem. The failure was not the result of too little regulation, as Napolitano is always inclined to think, it was the failure of government. Having the travel gestapo spend more time hassling flyers is no help. All it does is tie up security staff with millions of innocent people.

Since the government knew that Abdulmutallab was a potential risk the most sensible thing to do was to ask security staff to check him out thoroughly. When the man checked-in, was on a list of potential terrorists AND had no checked luggage that should have sent alarm bells ringing. But no one, other than the bureaucrats, knew he was on the list. Security at the airport was never told.

Notice that the failure in security belongs heavily to the bureaucrats in Washington for failing to sound the alarm bell for extra scrutinty. It partially belongs to security staff for not wondering about the absence of luggage. Instead of addressing precisely where security failed, Napolitano pretends the problem was not enough state control and ups the level of regulations stripping Americans of freedom. This is why I don't think there is a war on terrorism, there is a war on freedom however. Everytime some would-be terrorists does something the U.S. government, instead of actually focusing on the individuals with a known tie to terrorism, clamp down on the traveling public.

Photo: Janet Napolitano illustrating how to slowly grab liberty by the throat.

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Government strips away your right to pee!

According to Air Canada, the travel Nazis at the Transportation Security Agency are once again using a minor incident to strip all Americans of freedom—actually they don't discriminate they are stripping everyone who flys within the US of their rights as well. There is good reason to be seated during take off and landing. But the new regulations, according to Air Canada basically make you a prisoner in your seat.

First, consider the circumstances. Some idiot from Nigeria tried to light a powder he had strapped to his leg. There was some smoke and popping sounds and some flames but no explosion of any kind. The flames were quickly put out by passengers and crew members and the man incapacitated.

So the travel Nazis are now allegedly announcing new regulations that chain passengers to the seats for much of a flight, if not the entire flight. The New York Times reports that the government "was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be 'unpredictable' and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport—a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike." Great, now you can't even prepare to satisfy the increasingly strenuous regulations pushed by these bureaucratic thugs. And since when is this a "security experience?" That is like calling rape a "sexual experience." Experience has far too benevolent a feel to it to describe the way the travel Nazis treat people.

Here, however, are some of the new rules. "passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps." So, if you fall asleep, wake up one hour before landing with a full bladder the government mandates that you wet the seat because using the toilet one hour before landing is a security risk. Apparently it is not a security risk to use the toilet 62 minutes before landing but at the magic 60 minutes your urinary tract becomes a tool of terrorism.

It has been noted that one can't move about on a flight for about the first 30 minutes until the plane reaches cruising altitude. So any flight of 90 minutes of less means all passengers are confined to their seats by bureaucratic edict—remember these rules are not laws that are debated by elected officials. These are rules that unelected bureaucrats make up any time they feel like it. So unless you can hold your bladder for at least 90 minutes you should not board one of these flights. I think a flight of 95 minutes would be interesting as there is just a five minute window for the entire plane to use the toilet. Personally I hope there is a rash of people wetting their seats. And if I were the airlines I would send the stinky seats and carpeting directly to Janet Napolitano, the new Reichfurher for Homeland Oppression.

Napolitano, a Janet-Reno wannabe (which is bad news anyway you look at it), says that new measures are "designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere." Oh, joy! Don't you just love it when some brain dead travel gestapo member, the very people who didn't find the explosives that were strapped to the man's leg, are allowed to act in an upredictable way.

Airlines say that more incompetent TSA employees will be required to staff more check points to try to catch what the other incompetent TSA employees miss at the other checkpoints. The government's hope is that if you line up enough overpaid, under-thinking bureaucrats with the power to bark at people and act like mini-gods, that one of them will eventually prove useful.

And what I don't understand is the logic here. Everyone will be confined to their seats because a man, who was in his seat at the time, tried to light powder he had strapped to his leg. The man was "confined to his seat" when he did it—that didn't stop him from trying set the plane on fire. The individual in question would have been in compliance with the new rules had them been in place. In other words, they would have done absolutely nothing to stop the incident that happened. But then all the other measures put into place didn't stop this incident from happening either.

Meanwhile, people are refusing to fly in larger and larger numbers. Traveling to the US is such a horrific experience, due to the terrorists who work for Homeland Security, that tourism is down significantly. Billions of dollars have been diverted from the US economy by chasing away tourists. In addition, the US has merely soiled its reputation with world travelers as an unpleasant, nasty country to visit. Not long ago a friend told me that she and husband flew to China and had better treatment, and were treated more like free people, flying into China than when they enter the United States. Yep—a totalitarian nation is not as bad as the United States when it comes to travel.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas: What you know that just ain't so.

I used to like Christmas, as a holiday. Not anymore. I find the Christmas music annoying. I don’t mind it for a few days. But, since we seem to have started pushing Christmas sometime in August, the music quickly becomes annoying to me. Worse yet, a lot of the modern remakes of the songs are just pathetically awful. In addition, every year some film studio produces yet another “must-see” Christmas film. And then from the next year onward it is included in the growing array of Christmas films that clutter the airwaves crowding out some decent shows. You would have to start showing them in June just to get through the lot of them. Most are juvenile in nature and usually so sugar-coated that they induce a diabetic coma just from watching them.

Even what used to be festive lights have become gaudy, gauche displays of questionable taste. Surely the tackiest display I’ve seen was a plastic Santa kneeling before a baby Jesus. Apparently this awful mixture of conflicting myths is so attractive to some religionists, you can actually buy the display in a ceramic mold.

The favorite, I must say, was one I saw where someone had a bevy of plastic pink flamingoes pulling Santa’s sleigh. It was just clever enough, and wry enough, to amuse me. But in general, I’ve ceased to be a fan of Christmas. The Religious Right has tried to turn the holiday into a mandate for their agenda. If you don’t say “Merry Christmas” even to people who don’t celebrate it, you are considered some sort of communist, or worse.

What amuses me about Christmas, however, is the utter stupidity of people. There are a lot of people who drone on about “the true meaning of Christmas” which usually means something to do with their religious belief. The “true” meaning of Christmas just happens to be whatever it is that they want everyone else to believe. Yet Christmas is the one holiday that has more false assumptions about it than any other holiday. The reality is that what most people know about Christmas just ain’t so.

For example, most Christians have no idea that the Nativity story that they repeat, year in and year out, is a collection of several Nativity stories pieced together from the gospels. Nor do they realize that these stories contradict one. A careful editing, in most church services, however, weeds out the conflicts and makes the story appear to be a coherent whole.

The Christmas story is based on the individual stories of the four main gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books were not necessarily written by the authors to whom they are ascribed. In truth we don’t know who wrote them. But we do know that the four stories don’t agree with one another as to the facts. The Christmas story, as presented in most church pageants, is actually created by cherry-picking sections from the different gospels and combining them.

For example, we are told that Herod was informed that a “king” would be born so he had all the new born babies slaughtered, but Jesus escaped. The odd thing is that not one contemporary record of this genocide exists to substantiate it. Josephus wrote about Herod in his Antiquities of the Jews, but he never knew about this incident. Three of the gospel writers seemed to either not know of the mass killing or thought it was unimportant. Only Matthew recounts it, Mark, Luke and John seemed to be unaware that it took place.

Based on historical accounts Herod would have been already dead by the time that Jesus was born. Two gospels say that Herod was king. But Luke says that Caesar Augustus issued an order for a census and it “came to pass” when Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Quirinius, or Cyrenius as he is also known, only became governor 10 years after the death of Herod. The history by Josephus showed that Herod had died and was replaced by Archelaus, who was considered too oppressive by Caesar and removed from office and replaced by Cyrenius. The gospels contradict themselves on this matter.

Luke said the Romans required the people to return to their hometown for the census. But Rome never did this. Considering the large territory ruled by Rome such a requirement would have been noted somewhere. Only Luke seems to believe this was the case. Rome exerted control over Judea but through a client king. So while the gospel account says that Rome held the census to impose a tax, Rome itself didn’t impose taxes. It collected revenue from the local king who had control over taxation, not Rome. A Roman census and/or tax would not have included Judea.

In addition Rome would not have required women to be counted. The man was the legal head of the household and he would report the numbers for the census without the woman or children being required to do so. Even if the Romans required individuals to travel to their hometown, something impossible in an empire the size of Rome, a woman would not have done this, especially one on the verge of giving birth. Riding a donkey for that length of time while pregnant, would probably have resulted in a miscarriage.

Luke says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, was born in the manger and was visited by the Wise Men in the manger. But Matthew says the Wise Men came to see Jesus in a house, not in a manger. Matthew wrote that Mary and Joseph lived in Bethlehem and moved to Nazareth. Luke says they lived in Nazareth and moved to Bethlehem. Perhaps they passed themselves on the way.

Early Christians didn’t think Jesus was born in a stable or in a house. They preferred the story that he was born in a cave. Origen wrote, “there is shown at Bethlehem the cave where He was born and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes.” The Church of the Nativity is, in fact, built over a cave that is alleged to be the spot of the birth of Jesus.

Matthew wrote that after the birth Joseph “took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.” Luke, however, knew nothing about that and instead says “they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.”

To complicate matters even more it appears that Bethlehem didn’t exist during the time period that Jesus was alleged to have been born. Well, actually there were two Bethlehems. Matthew and Luke say it was Bethlehem of Judea where Jesus was born, not the Bethlehem in Galilee. But archeological evidence indicates that the Judean Bethlehem didn’t exist at the time. Bethlehem of Galilee, however, wasn’t far from Nazareth at all and it did exist. Matthew and Luke seem to have been wrong on this matter.

Mark apparently knew nothing about the virgin birth. And the oldest sections of the New Testament, those books ascribed to Paul, also are devoid of any mention of the concept. Luke talked about shepherds but Matthew seemed to not know they were around at the time.

Even the date of Christmas has problems. Early Christians simply did not believe that Jesus was born on December 25th. The birth dates they ascribed varied greatly, ranging from January to May. December 25th was the date that the winter solstice was celebrated—when the days got longer. True the actual solstice is on the 21st but the crude instruments of the day only detected the longest day on the 25th and it was the traditional date for celebration.

Many of the pagan sects claimed that a god-man was born on Dec. 25th. The god-man Attis was supposedly born of a virgin on Dec. 25th. In Greece the god Dionysus was said to have been born on the 25th as well. The Egyptians celebrated the birth of Osiris on that date as was the Persian god Mithra. The Babylonians did the same. These dates were picked for the birth of gods simply because it was the date when they noticed the days getting longer. The Roman Saturnalia was traditionally celebrated from Dec 17 to 23 but Emperor Aurelian decided the 25th would be the day to celebrate everything.

The Catholic Church ultimately picked December 25th, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, because it was date that had widespread cultural acceptance. People already celebrate the birth of a god-man on that day making it an easier sell.

As I said: most of what you know about Christmas just ain’t so.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

About those Himilayan glaciers

Prof. Roger Pielke, Sr., is emertus professor of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is also a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union and was Co-Chief Editor of the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. He has also been highly critical of the way that the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change has played fast and lose with the facts in the past, in order to bolster their political agenda on global warming. Pielke also runs a website where he posts material on the climate debate every so often.

He recently published a guest post by Dr. Madhav Khandekar. Khandekar has a master's degree and a Ph.D in meteorology and has worked in the fields of climatology, meteorology and oceanography. He was also an expert reviewer for the IPCC. Khandekar wrote about the claims regarding the melting of Himalayan glaciers. He notes that recently Dr. V.K. Raina released a major study of 20 glaciers int he Himalayas which was released by the Indian Minister of Environment and Forestry.

But the report got immediately attacked by Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC. You may remember that the left-wing Guardian newspaper called Pachauri one of the "world's leading climate scientists" even though the man has no degrees in a field related to climate at all. He studied engineering and economics. But the qualifications for being a warming expert, if one is hysterical about the issue, are quite low. However, remember that skeptics, no matter how highly qualified they are in their field are to be viewed, well, skeptically. Actually I lie—they are to be villified and attacked and viewed as climate traitors. One major warming website argued the skeptics should be put on trial for their views. My view on Pachauri is here.

Pachauri attacked Raina because his study of the 20 glaciers contradicted the warming orthodoxy. Raina, a senior glaciologist, said that one must be cautious in claiming that the warming is melting the glaciers. He found that glaciers are moving in contradictory ways. Some have retreated a great deal, others have barely budged while others are expanding. Most have been shrinking since the end of the last mini Ice Age. Raina mentions the erratic behavior of some glaciers. Gangotri was retreating 20m per year until nine years ago when it slowed considerably. Since 2007 it hasn't moved at all. Siachen advanced 700m between 1862 and 1909, then retreated 400 m between 1929 and 1958 and then has retreated only slightly. Glaciers near each other may act quite differently.

Even the same glacier can act differently at the same time. Chong Kumdan has three limbs to the glacier. One limb advanced until 1990 and then retreated slightly. Another has been growing continuously. A third limb retreated until 2001 and then started expanding again. Raina argues that snow precipitation is the main factor in glaciers growing or shrinking and that climate plays a small role. Precipitation can vary greatly depending on local factors where climate does not. He said that the indication that glaciers don't grow based on immediate climate factors because, if they did, then "all glaciers within the same climatic zone should have been advancing or retreating at the same time."

This is what got Pachauri's knickers in knot. This doesn't confirm the official scare story of the IPCC. So Pachauri launched an attack on Raina claiming that the IPCC itself has claimed the glaciers in the Himilayas are likely to disappear by 2035. That's just 25 years away people. And the IPCC's 2007 Working Group II report does say just that. According to the IPCC the Himalayan glaicers "are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

Khandekar wondered where the figure came from. He finds that the Russian scientist, V.M Kotlyakov wrote a paper which is the source for the claim. Kotlyakov is a climate catastrophist. But there is a problem which you can find on page 66 of his paper, which you can find in pdf format here. Kotlyakov actually wrote that he estimate a the shrinkage to be "from 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2350." He did, however, say he expected glaciers in the Himalayas to survive. But notice something important. Kotlyakov estimated the shrinkage would take 3 1/2 centuries, not 25 years. The IPCC was just sloppy and transposed some numbers, turning 2350 into 2035 thus cutting the panic period from almost 340 years to just 25.

Pachauri's criticism is based on a typo in the report of his own bureaucracy. He may be the world's leading climatologist (said with tonque firmly in cheek) but the figures he is quoting is off by several centuries. Worse for Pachauri is that other specialists have backed up Raina. Bjorn Lomborg recently wrote of those scientists in the Wall Street Journal recently.
Jeffrey S. Kargel, a glaciologist at the University of Arizona, declared in the Nov. 13 issue of Science that these "extremely provocative" findings were "consistent with what I have learned independently," while in the same issue of the magazine Kenneth Hewitt, a glaciologist at Wilfrid Laurier University, agreed that "there is no evidence" to support the suggestion that the glaciers are disappearing quickly.
recently cited Kargel's paper on glaciers in the Karakoram Mountains which found they had either stabalized or advanced in recent years. Dr. Khandekar concludes:
In summary, the glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating, but NOT any faster than other glaciers in the Arctic and elsewhere. The two large and most important glaciers of the Himalayas show very little retreat at this point in time. The primary reason for retreat of some of the other glaciers seems to be lack of adequate winter snow accumulation. This depletion of winter snow could be due many factors like inter-annual variability of winter precipitation or possible southward displacement of the sub-tropical jet stream which straddles the Himalayan Mountains over a long 1500 km path. It is premature at this stage to link global warming to the deteriorating state of Himalayan glaciers at this time. The Indian Environment Minister MR Jairam Ramesh has correctly observed “let us not write an epitaph on Himalaya glaciers at this time”
Perhaps is a spirit of slightly more skepticism since the Climategate scandal, the BBC has reported on this major boo-boo. They quote Michael Zemp, of World Glacier Monitoring Service, as saying the IPCC's claim that it is "not plausible that Himalayan glaicers are disappearing completely within the next few decades." Prof. J. Graham Cogley, who discovered the source for the IPCC's error says he is astonished that none of the 10 major autors of the 2007 IPPC Report bothered to verify the claim and check its source. It confirmed their own catastrophist beliefs so I'm not surprised that they took it as gospel truth.

So how did Pachauri respond to the news that his dire warning about 2035 was off by a few centuries? According to the BBC his reply was: "I don't have anything to add on glaciers."

The IPCC authors in question insist they got the facts right however. Author Murari Lai cited several sources including a World Wildlife report, a UNESCO document and a 1999 news report in New Scientist. Without more information to the contrary it appears the UNESCO document is the Kotlyakov paper. The BBC, however, points out a problem with these citations: "None of these documents have been reviewed by peer professionals, which is what the IPCC is mandated to be doing." India's Environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, disputed the IPCC's report on glaciers in his country calling the clams "alarmist" and false.

Top glaciologist have since released a statement condemning the IPCC, even though most of them are IPCC participants. They said: "This catalogue of errors in Himalayan glaciology... has caused much confusion that could have been avoided had the norms of scientific publication, including peer review and concentration upon peer-reviewed work, been respected." Zemp said that under IPCC rules the claim "actually should not have been published as it is not based on sound scientific reference."

Things are even worse for the IPCC than appears here. Lai says that three sources were used. One of them was the WWF report. But the WWF merely quotes a second source. It cites the New Scientist news report as the actual source for the claim. But IPCC author Lai lists the New Scientist article as a third source. So it isn't. One source merely quotes the third source. But even that one source is quoting another source and can't be credited as a source. These sources then seem to be pointing to a report from the International Commission on Snow and Ice, a report that was hard for researchers to find. And when it was found, and read, it turned out to say nothing to back up what the IPCC claimed. So, instead of using peer-reviewed papers as required, the IPCC relied upon secondary reports pointing to another paper that didn't actually say what the IPCC was reporting.

And it gets worse. The IPCC claim reads almost the same as a piece published by India Environmental Portal here. That report quotes the Kotlyakov report but transposes the numbers, just like the IPCC report did. The sentences used are almost identical. Sections from the one report are lifted almost verbatim and published by the IPCC. It appears that not only did the IPCC use non-peer reviewed citations for their astounding claim about glaciers but their author appears to have plagarized the material from the IEP site. And the danger with that is if you steal from a source that made errors you will repeat their errors verbatim along with the rest of the material you borrowed without citation. As for Pachauri, he dismissed the report that the Indian government published saying it wasn't "peer-reviewed." That is pretty audacious considering the claims his agency published were not peer-reviewed either and were lifted verbatim from a report that got the numbers wrong.

To have this happen right on top of the Climategate episode does not bode well for the IPCC and it's political agenda. Whatever case the skeptics may or may not make on warming, the antics of the IPCC and the top warming alarmists around the world gives more than enough reason to see this more as a political movement than a scientific one.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Al "Scare the hell out them" Gore

Here is a recent video of Al Gore—sorry, I didn't mean to ruin your Christmas.

Please note another one of his blatant lies. This time he is claiming the "entire polar ice cap" will disappear within five years. Sure Al! Sorry, this is from German television so there is some German voice over that may make it a bit hard to hear Gore.

Mr. Gore told the Porker to the Global Warming Hysterics Fear Fest and Jamboree in Copenhagen. He claimed that research from Dr. Wieslave Maslowski shows "there is a 75% chance the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years." Unfortunately the scientist being quoted says he it is "unclear to me how thiw figure was arrived at." Questioned about that Gore's office claimed the scientist told Gore this in a private conversation a few years ago. How convenient. That would mean that there is no evidence the scientist said it or not other than his word and Gore's. To complicate matters more, Gore claims it is the "entire" ice cap that will be ice free while the scientist says that he only talks about ice ice, not the ice cap. Video shows Gore making this claim a year ago. A year passes and he still says in five years the ice cap will vanish—shouldn't that be four years and counting?

It's the end of the world—again!

Since I ruined your Christmas with the Gore video allow me to play the Twelve Days of Global Warming for your entertainment.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another cop who needs to be canned!

Here is the news story on this incident.

What happened here is simple. A large group of people took advantage of the snowstorm in DC (no doubt they are all victims of climate change) by having a snowball fight. Around 100 people or so showed up for this snowball fight. A car got hit with some snowballs. Oh my! But the man driving the car was the closest thing to god on earth (at least in his view). He was a DC cop in plainclothes.

The cop jumps out of the car and threatens people with a gun and arrest. If you don't think power corrupts then you don't understand cops. At one time the people of England were allowed to own guns but cops were unarmed. I'm not entirely sure that wasn't the ideal. Cops are dangerous. The CNN report left out some thing. For instance, I love the crowd chanting at the police officer: "Don't bring a gun to a snowball fight." Others screamed at the police when they showed up as back-up, that their officer was entirely out of line. Of course he was. A police officer who pulls a gun on a crowd of people having a snowball fight doesn't deserve to stay on the force. Here is some raw footage of the incident which CNN didn't really show and basically talked over.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Politics of Panic

This is supposed to be the opening video used at the InterGOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change. This is a political body controlled by politicians where the "scientific process" is overriding by the politicians and bureaucrats who actually write the final reports. Each step of the way is designed to remove debate. I know some people who served as expert reviewers for the IPCC and all of them said that the material is rewritten to reflect political agendas before being presented to the public. Numerous members of the IPCC have publicly said that they are portrayed as part of the "consensus" when they are not, the false claim that all the scientists who contribute in any way are members. And, of course, there were some notable resignations by scientists who said that their own conclusions were rewritten and distorted in order to satisfy the political agenda of the governments that run the IPCC.

This video, if it is what it purports to be, shows that the IPCC is purposely using the politics of panic in order to push their very political agenda. This is fear-mongering intended to try and stampede the public into accepting the massive state controls that the Left wants in the name of climate change. It is not reason, it is not debate, it is not science. It is unmitigated propaganda meant to terrorize people.

I have no doubt that some people are driven by a pure belief in the theory that they popularize. I also have no doubt that many of the major drivers in the climate debate are politicians with very open political agendas. And the political agenda means they will fudge the science, exaggerate the science, play down the doubts, etc. The number of top warming hysterics who have openly admitted that they do that has been documented on this blog before. The more I watch the debate the less respect I have for the alarmists who seem to be getting desperate as they lose the battle for public opinion—they get more rabid and fanatical the closer they are to failure.

If they are right, and I always accept that possibility although I don't think they are, then much of the reason for their losing this debate is because they have been so rabid in their exaggerated claims. They play the fear card so often that they come across as the boy who cried wolf too many times. If the warming wolf does show up, in the terms they claim in their hysterical moments, it will be in part because they have alienated the public with their intentional fear mongering and political manipulation.

While I've always been skeptical of their claims, and most claims made by political special interest groups, my skepticism has grown the more I watch the debate. Apparently I am not alone. Rasmussen recently polled on the question of global warming and its causes. They do this every so often. I point this out, not because I think polls establish truth, as some critics of mine have claimed, but because it shows how opinion in shifting and in what direction. It says something about how the public perceives the debate.

In April 2008 47% of the public said warming was man-made and 34% said it was primarily due to natural causes. While the numbers have been up and down the trend is fairly clear. The latest poll shows that belief in human-induced warming has dropped to the lowest level since the almost monthly surveys began. It is now at 34% while those who say it is a natural phenomenon have increased to 50%.

Rasmussen also divides people by ideological content those who favor governmental control in general are called the "Political Class." These are people who like big government and think politicians are peachy. Among them the numbers who blame humans for alleged climate change are 80%. Among the group that Rasmussen calls the "political mainstream" the percentage who say that warming has natural causes is 60%.

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Obama: Slip-sliding away.

How true it is. The most recent Rasmussen poll compared Obama's popularity, at this point in his term, to every president since Harry Truman, who ended his presidential career almost a decade before Obama was born. Obama came in dead last.


Knife weilding fanatical Muslims attack church property or not?

Exactly how would the Religious Right respond to the following story? A church puts up a billboard which questions some aspect of Islam. Within days the billboard is attacked three times. The church is inundated with unpleasant and threatening phone calls and emails from Muslims around the world. One fanatic shows up with a knife in hand and the church caves in and removes the billboard. What do you think conservatives would have to say about that?

Plenty I suspect. They would be outraged by the use of force to silence a religious institution. And they would be right to be outraged. All the above is true with the exception that the attacks were not carried out by Muslims but Christians. That may explain the relative silence from conservatives about this outrage.

St. Matthew-in-the-City is small Anglican church in Auckland, New Zealand. And it posted the following billboard on church property. Their purpose was the challenge the concept of a male God sending sperm to earth to impregnate a virgin. They don't buy that line at all and argue that the true meaning of Christmas is lost in all this mythology. It really doesn't matter whether or not what they say is right. The issue is their right to say it. I don't buy the mythology either but I suspect that their idea of the "true meaning of Christmas" is probably wrong as well. They said all they wanted was people to think about the story and it's meaning. Fair enough.
In less than a day the sign was attacked by a Christian who drove up to, then stood on the roof of the car and covered the sign with paint. A spokesman for the church commented after the first attack: "They are driven to give threats and abuse — and they say 'we love Jesus and he loves us'. I'm sorry, but they don't get the irony of their beahviour." Once news of the billboard got out "the church had spent yester answering hundreds of abusive emails and phone calls from around New Zealand and overseas." The billboard was replaced. Someone stole that billboard and it was then replaced.

Then yesterday the Vicar of the church, Glynn Cardy, said the billboard was "attacked by a knife-wielding Christian fanatic who was then apprehended by a group of homeless people who care about our church. Later in the evening another group of fanatics ripped it down.

I can't imagine the outcry if Muslims had done a similar thing to church property. I am sure it would be very loud, very vocal, very hysterical. Glen Beck would have fits for days about the actions of the fanatics. But it wasn't Muslims, it was Christians who acted this way. That explains the silence. And only that explains the silence. The outcry from the Right over the Islamic response to the cartoon controversy was phony from the get-go. The Right doesn't believe in free speech at all. What it came down to was that the Right hates Muslims more than it hates free speech. There are no principles involved just competing hates. And sinces they dislike Muslims more than free speech they used the free speech issue to beat up on Muslims (not that the Muslims didn't deserve it).

But now the controversy was over Christians attacking a cartoon image they found offensive. So all the moral posturing from the Right about freedom of thought and the sanctity of open debate has disappeared and they react to this attack with silence. You figure out why that is.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

All I have to say about Tiger Woods

Let me make it clear that I have little to nothing to say about Tiger Woods and his private life, so I won't be saying it.

Mr. Woods does nor take it upon himself to try to arbitrate the morality of others, as do the Catholic hierarchy and fundamentalist Christians. Mr. Woods does not attempt to pass laws to control the sex lives of others as do the Republicans and various conservatives. Mr. Woods has, to my knowledge, never publicly expressed an opinion attacking others for their sex lives. In other words, Mr. Woods has basically respected the rights of others to live their own lives according to their own values. Given those facts I see no reason whatsoever to offer any opinion regarding his private life. He has not intruded, or attempted to intrude, on the private lives of others and I feel we should grant the same respect to him.

That Woods is well-known, because he plays golf well, is of absolutely no relevancy. That he is well-known does not make him public property. It does not bestow on others a "right to know" the most intimate details of his life. The media, acting like sharks in a feeding-frenzy, is it's typical self. Moralizing on a constant basis the journalism profession proves itself to be utterly immoral in how it treats others. While my university major was journalism, I have never had much respect for journalists. They are bottom-feeders who exaggerate and distort facts in order to sensationalize a story. They will report the opinions of activists, even if they know the "facts" being presented are lies. They will bias stories in subtle ways in order to push the public into accepting their preconceived political agenda. They do so because they feel they are morally and intellectual superior to the rest of humanity and thus have a right, nay, an obligation, to push people into "doing the right thing." Yet the media itself is frequently doing the wrong thing for no other reason than to sell a story.

What Tiger Woods does, or doesn't do, with his sex life is no one's business but his, and those he sleeps with. It is for them to work out, not a matter of public consumption. The real immorality in this story comes from the media. Shame on them. What a pathetic bunch of wankers the media has become. They deserve no respect. And they certainly won't get any here. Tiger Woods ought to be left alone. And all those prurient busybodies out there, who eat up the scandal and feed the profits of the sleaze-merchants in the media, deserve to have their darkest secrets exposed to the world. The whole thing is quite literally obscene, in a way that sex never could be.

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Anytime you think the US is bad, give a thought for England

The American police state is god-awful, of that there is little doubt. But as bad as things are in the United States just remember they are far worse under the Labour authoritarians in the UK. Basically the Blair-Brown regime had made tourist filming a crime, defined as terrorism. The crime is filming any "public" building which includes virtually all sites of interest to tourists. If you pull out a camera, considered a dangerous weapon by the moronic Laborites, you can be arrested under various anti-terrorism legislation, which makes it a crime to photograph a public building.

Simona Bonomo, an Italian studying at London Metorpolitan University was filiming in London when the police approached her demanding to see her film. The porky in blue said that he can look at any film "if I think it may be linked to terrorism." Porky then accussed Bonomo of cycling the wrong way down the street. She apologize and porky left to return with a whole rasher of bacon—another six porkies. She was searched and arrested. All for filming in public. I will try to upload the film in question. This will show porkies around the world to be pretty much brain-dumb. You can see how dumb the officer is. When she tells him she is an artist he demands identification to prove she is an artist. Who exactly issues "artist ID"? No one. Watch the video and you will see how he becomes progressively more demanding and accusatory even though the woman did nothing wrong.

In public the police announce there is no law forbidding people from taking photos of public building. Yet Section 44 of the Terrorism Act (and more acts of parliament are terroristic in one way or antoehr) sys that police do not need suspicion to stop and search people. In a contradictory statement a police spokesman said: "These are important yet intrusive powers. They form a vital part of our overall tactics in deterring and detecting terrorist attacks. We must use these powers wisely. Public confidence in our ability to do so rightly depends upon your common sense." so, the police have no such power, but thsee power are both "important" and "intrusive" and should be used wisely.

When the Guardian newspaper sent someone out to photograph the Gherkin building, a tourist attraction, he was surrounded by police in plainclothes who covered his cameral lens and said he was involve in "hostile reconnaissance." He was told two counter-terrorism police would arrive shortly to search him. A BBC photographer was harassed by police for photographing St. Paul's Cathedral. An amateur photographer was questioned for taking photos of Christmas lights in Brighton. Two Austrian tourists were forced by police to erase tourist photos they took and a photographer was arrested in Kent because he took a photo of a fish and chip shop. He was arrested under the Terrorist Act, as was architecture photographer Grant Smith when he photographed Christopher Wren's Christ Church building. When Smith was arrested a news crew from ITV arrived to film the incident and they were threatened under the Terrorist Act as well.

The great fraud of government power is that it is rarely used for the purposes which justify the existence of the power. They are almost wholly used for other purposes. The Patriot Act does very little to terrorists but it does control the American public. The Terrorist Act in the UK is used continually against innocent people. Politicians wait for every new crisis to pass sweeping new powers which do little to address the new crisis but which do expand the power and scope of the state bureucracy. If government stopped "defending" us so much we'd all be better off.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Not given a chance to live.

We talk to kids today about "safe sex" a lot. They are warned about unsafe sex frequently. But one of the biggest dangers to sex is overzealous, pious politicians—screwing hookers on their off time while cheating on their wives and preaching "family values." I have hit this theme repeatedly: these politicians have turned normal adolescent sexuality into a criminal offense and they have the audacity to pretend they are doing it "for the children."

Consider the case of a young man, Matthew Freeman, 23. Five years ago, when 17, Matthew was dating a girl from school who was 15. The two had sex. The result is that Matthew is now a "registered sex offender," which sends shivers down the spine of the uninformed who assume that means he is a rapist or attacks small children. Freeman is none of those things. He was a normal teenager who dated a girl slightly younger than himself. Had she been a few months older the whole thing would have been outside the control of the State. But in this case she was just under 16 and he was just over 17 by only 12 days. That meant he was charged with "fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion."

The girl's mother said she didn't want them dating and turned in Freeman merely to stop the dating because she couldn't figure out how else to prevent it. She is one stupid woman who is now trying to stop the injustice she started.

You may remember that I have previously warned that sex offenses involving force don't mean that force is involved. That is how politicians twist the laws so people think things happened that didn't happen. A sexual offense may be entirely free of force yet still be defined as violent by the government sex police. It is automatically assumed to be violent if the "victim" (read willing partner) is under the age set by politicians. Even the girl's mother admits: "My daughter was a willing participant." The mother has now written a letter on behalf of Freeman asking the state to remove him from the sex offender registry. She says: "He's not given a chance to live and become an upstanding citizen."

Freeman admitted he had sex with his girl friend and that meant he became a registered sex offender. He pleaded guilty on the advice of a public defender. After his conviction he was ordered by the State to stay away from his girlfriend. It wasn't her order but the government's, they said she was a victime. He tried to see her and was considered in violation of parole. Remember the State lies by calling the girl a "victim" even if she was a willing participant in a relationship she wanted. This is how they feed the hysteria. They talk about "victims" when no victim actually exists and pretend there is violence when no violence or force was used. They pretend adolescent are children when they clearly are not children. Our sex offender laws are built on deceiving the public about who is actually being arrested and for what. They intentionally create false impressions to feed the fear that keeps the sex police bureaucracy going.

Freeman then did something really stupid. He shoplifted some computer game. That was a second violation of parole. He was now on the edge and trying to be very careful. His mother moved the family to a new house. Like hundreds of thousands of innocent families they are restricted as to where they are allowed to live under the sexual apartheid of the sex offender registries. They are zoned out of entire sections of town because Matthew is now an evil "sex offender" because of his teenage romance.

Freeman's mother, Yolanda, went to the police before moving to her new home. She was told by the police that the home in question was approved for her evil son. That said "it shouldn't be a problem" to live there. So Freeman registered with the police for the vile sex offender registry giving the address that the police had approved.

That put Freeman's name and address on the registry and some frustrated housewife, with nothing better to do than feed her own paranoia, was browsing the registry. She found Freeman. She saw that he lived 400 yards from the school that his young sister attends. And she read the registry precisely the way the politicians designed it to be read: wrongly. The hysterical woman called police in a panic to tell them that a violent, child rapist, lived "directly" across from the school. Again note that there was no child—merely a girl friend barely more than a year younger than Freeman himself. There was no rape, just consenting sex between two adolescents. And there was no violence, the state just calls it violent to scare the bejeesus out of gullible members of the public. Even the original police report clearly states that the girl was "not forced to commit any act" nor "did she ask him not to commit any act." No force of any kind, yet the politicians define this as violence. (Note that when they threaten you with violence, if you don't pay taxes, they define that as "voluntary compliance.")

Matthew was playing basketball in front of his house when the police showed up to arrest him. The Freeman family protested that the police themselves had approved the house. No matter say the authorities. If the police screw up they aren't responsible—Freeman is. So now he faces a year in jail for living precisely where the police had told him it was fine to live.

Of course the local prosecutor, a bureaucrat named Steve Hiller, gives the usual lying response when questioned by the press about the case. This political low-life says that arresting Freeman was a matter of "public safety" which is of "paramount concern" to anyone seeking higher office. He piously claims "This particular law is in place to protect children, so that's obviously a very serious matter." What an asswipe! The law doesn't protect children. There is not scintilla of evidence that offender zoning laws protect anyone. All they do is harass people. There not a shred of evidence that Freeman poses a threat to children. He was never sexually interested in children. He was a teenage boy who had sex with his teenage girlfriend, who was barely a year younger than himself. Hiller is lying through his eye-teeth.

But these sex offender laws are precisely that: lies built on a foundation of falsehood, perpetuated by myths and politically-induced hysteria, promoted by low-life politicians like Hiller. Even the girl's mother, who started the problem by calling the police, says what is being done to Freeman is wrong and she wants the State to bud out.

Case after case, of teens being arrested for normal teenage sexual behavior, are arising due to the laws that were passed in response to the hysteria of the 1990s about purely imaginary Satanic child sexual abuse. Since then those ill-conceived laws have expanded. These laws are not protecting the kids! They are victimizing the kids!

Anyone who thinks these laws are protecting teens from sexual abuse are either uninformed, brainless, or lying. The politicians know what these laws are doing. The police know what these laws are doing. And they are hiding the truth from the public. If the parents of America understood what these sex Nazis are doing to America's young, these worthless bureaucrats would be strung up from the nearest lamp post Mussolini-style — and rightfully so. Now you know why I want to punch the lights out of anyone who publicly uses the "it's for the kids" excuse for their political agenda—it's the kids they hurt.

Photo: Mussolini and his mistress.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Wow: that was a shocker.

I don't know if many of my readers are regular views of Dexter. All I can say is that this year's finale was a real shocker. Talk about plot! Talk about surprises.

I watched a bit of the second season and then got hooked and went back and watched season one. The story line is so unusual and raises some very interesting moral questions. Is Dexter a hero or a villain. There is some real ingenuity in the series.

All I can saw is that just as I started to relax from the drama the show took a turn that was totally unexpected and knocked the wind out of me.

While I'm getting bored with what is coming out on the big screen these days there is no shortage of good entertainment on television. And so much of it is on cable—but then cable doesn't have to placate Big Brother in Washington the way broadcast does. (Does anyone really buy the bullshit that the "airwaves" have to be government property due to scarcity anymore?)

If you haven't seen the last episode of Dexter then do so as fast as possible. Until then put your fingers in your ears, hum loudly to yourself, because a lot of people will be talking and you don't want this ending ruined.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Privacy: Is it only for people doing bad things?

When businesses get big they often suck up to the authorities. Consider the ass kissing Google CEO Eric Schmidt referring to how Google keeps track of people's searches and will happily turn them over to the government. His response is: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Really? So Mr. Schmidt how many times per month do you masturbate? Clearly that is not a privacy issue any more since, if you don't want people to know about it, you shouldn't be doing it.

This contempt for privacy is bad news for Google in that is is very off-putting. At one point they fought the State for the privacy of their clients now they roll over and take it up... well, you get my point. But if they didn't want people to know that's what they are doing they shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

The problem with bigness in corporations is not that they are big but that the tend to become institutions which have no common sense. They take on an ethos of their own which pushes them into the Statist camp. When people lose individual responsibility they act badly and when people act as a "group," as they do in corporations, they tend to act badly. It is the same phenomenon that we witness in mob behavior. People act badly in large groups in ways that would never do individually.

The same thing happens with the moral senses of government. Bureaucrats have no conscience because they don't act as individuals in their minds, but as cogs in the machine called government. Felix Morley wrote that "the State has no conscience, and is primarily a mechanism of material power..." It has no conscience precisely because it a collective body acting where no individual within the body feels totally responsibility. When people can pass responsibility for their actions to others they tend to act irresponsibly. The State does that and large institutions, such as corporations, can do the same thing (I recognize that corporations have a countervailing force that makes them less susceptible to the eradication of conscience—they can't compel customers without the State and they have to make a profit.)

In 2008 Schmidt argued that the reason Google rolls over is "the government has guns and we don't." But, of course, there are many ways of fighting state intrusion that doesn't require guns, such as in the courts. And that can be done in many different ways.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hates "deviate" sex — you know what that means.

To paraphrase someone: Before you point out the deviance in your brother's sex life remove the kink from your own. Not exactly what was said, but it is the same principle. Unfortunately the political Right seems to have a hard time learning that lesson.

Take the antics of Rod Jetton. Jetton is the former house speaker in Missouri and a conservative Republican. His father is a Southern Baptist minister, Jetton attended a Baptist university (oxymoronic as that may sound). After leaving office he started something called Common Sense Conservative Consulting. Jetton is now known for two incidents.

The first incident was in 2007. Jetton had the chair of the Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety removed from his position as punishment. The chair, Scott Lipke, had included a revision in a law that revoked the law making it a criminal offense to have gay sex in Missouri. Like your typical Southern Baptist Neanderthal, Jetton explained in great detail why he had to punish Lipke.

He wrote Lipke "chose to use the bill to delete 14 words from our laws in order to repeal the gay sex ban in Missouri. Thanks to that deletion, it is now legal to engage in deviate sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex here in Missouri. This law had been on our books for decades."Jetton bragged: "I have fought attempts by liberals to repeal the gay sex ban for years..." It should be noted that gay sex was legal regardless since the Supreme Court ruled sodomy laws unconstitutional. But don't pay attention to the facts. I suspect that Jetton regrets using the term "deviate sexual intercourse."

It appears that Mr. Jetton is no stranger to "deviate sexual intercourse" himself. Here is how the story goes so far, in regards to the second incident.

Jetton, who divorced his wife (in violation of what Southern Baptist's call Biblical principles) was having sex with a woman. Actually he was having a "deviant" one-night stand with the woman that combined violence with sex. The woman says that he gave her some wine that he brought (another sin by Southern Baptist standards) which she thinks included a date rape drug as she started losing consciousness. Jetton began hitting her and choking her while having sex with her.

One newspaper blog says: "The woman says that she and Jetton talked about having sex when they were on the phone earlier in the day, but that she and Jetton had never dated or been in relationship before the night of Nov. 15. She told the detective that... she and Jetton agreed on a safe word of 'green balloons' to use to stop sexual relations."

Okay! Now let's unravel this for a second. First, safe words are something used by people into sadomasochism. To each their own, but dude, that isn't your everyday sexual intercourse. It's pretty "deviant" by most standards—not that I care if people voluntarily inflict pain as a form of pleasure. But it didn't seem so voluntary here. So, Jetton had made it clear, in advance, that he preferred violent sex thus requiring a "safe word" for the woman to use to stop the violence when it went too far. But the woman says that because she was unconscious from the wine Jetton provided that she couldn't use the word to stop his violent intercourse. That makes it rape as well as kinky.

As tolerant as I am on such matters, I do find it disturbing that a man enjoys choking a woman while having sex with her.

After the incident, when the woman complained about what he had done to her, he allegedly told her: "You should have said 'green balloons.'"

Let us also note that the couple had not previously met. That indicates that they "hooked up" through some sort of sex hotline, Internet group, or ad that caters to people seeking sex. So this wasn't even a relationship, just a screw. Again, if adults want to do that, it's not my business. I just note that it violates the Christian conservative values that Jetton was so hot about. Add in the violent nature of his sex life, which most conservative Christians would find appalling, and it becomes clear that Jetton is a major hypocrite.

Just the fact that Jetton had thought of using "safe words" in his sexual encounters implies that he was experienced in violent sex, or at least spent some time researching how to have sadomasochistic sex.

We have someone who divorced his wife, in violation of Baptist morality. He pushed wine on a woman, also a violation. And it may have been wine that he drugged. He was not married to the woman but went there to have sex, again in violation of Biblical morality. And his sex involves violence and choking the woman. And this man had the audacity to preach against "deviate sexual intercourse" for gay people!

Like so many hypocritical, sexually-obsessed conservatives Jetton immediately announces that now that he has been arrested he will "spend more time with his family." How predictable. Why do these conservatives assume their family wants them to spend more time with them just because they got caught violating the very "biblical morality" that want to impose on others? Of course, we now know why Jetton wants to use state power to force his sexual values on others—he likes combining sex and force. You could say that he gets his sexual kicks imposing his will on others. So all this time, when people thought he was standing up for God, Country, Mother and Apple Pie, he was really proposing the use of force because that's how he gets his rocks off. Lovely man.

Photo: His booking photo from his arrest.

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