Jesus, this guy is a crank. Getting lucky once doesn't make you smart or right. It just means you got lucky.
As far as "Swine Flu," there are currently 160 deaths, so far, and it's just started it's world wide journey as it has spreading faster than containment alerts can shut down non-essential travel.
We have it here in Nashville. My daughter and I may have it and are both recovering from some type of mild flu. Which is the purported severity for those who don't have the immune system over-reaction that can lead to death.
But I'm not surprised. Despite being a doctor, he doesn't believe in vaccination and is, if I remember correctly, one of the nut jobs that believes DPT vaccine causes autism, despite the fact that science has shown it doesn't.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.Of course...
More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.
Look carefully at the peak date assigned to Obama. October 2007. He hadn't even been elected at that time. The DJIA on January 20th was just over 8,100. I don't remember the exact number, but it was just over 8,100.
Today's close is 8,168. Or just over 8,100.
Yet Barron's assigns the 53.8% market decline to Obama. Even though it was during Bush's last term and, frankly, in great part to Bush/Republican policies.
And, yes, I understand what Barron's was trying to do. The problem is the idiotic wing-nuts are going to grab that -53.8% and bash Obama with it. When it's a Republican/Bush period issue.
Being a bit more cosmopolitan and well informed, along with a lot less bigoted, I can't help but note that: 1. Most of the gun and gang violence stems from whitey and his drug problem here in America. 2. Unemployment and poverty stem from broad systemic issues, much of which we set up during the Mexican-American war when we destroyed their democracy. 3. The guns come from America and, funny, so do some of the gangs.
Swine flu, of course, almost certainly originated in a US owned factory farm. Where we export our sins to another country, then import the products with all the costs in human pain and suffering being 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind.'
So while it's all fun and giggles when she makes her racist cartoons, things seem to change when she's in the crosshairs. And Donna so does not like it when someone criticizes her racist work under the fair use provisions of Section 107 of the Copyright act:
Now this blog is a proven thief. And this is obviously because I complained that you stole my other cartoon. What, are you such big babies that you have to steal from cartoonists? Tell me have you paid for any cartoons at all? Ever?
I wonder what is worse: stealing, illegal use on the Internet, or drawing a
Btw, this is not fair use, when you are obviously writing this as a
personal vendetta. Next up: your server.
Poor baby... No one is above criticism. Not in America.
1) Anti-Minoritarianism. The majority has rights, too.Which are not harmed or limited. You have the freedom to marry. Nobody is taking that away from you. And when rights compete, your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. So, while you have the right to whine, and nobody will take that from you, you don't have the right to hit the lives of others with your bigotry. Even though you think you do.
And, btw, one of the primary purposes of the Constitution is to make sure the minority gets the rights of the majority. And even with our feet of clay, we've generally gotten there. Despite people like you.
(2) The social recognition of committed heterosexual bonding has been a constant for thousands of years. No-one of a conservative inclination wants to mess lightly with that. Counter-arguments like “so was slavery” are unconvincing, as the occasional slights suffered by homosexual couples are microscopic by comparison with the injustice of human beings buying and selling other human beings. Gay marriage proponents make much of the cruelty and injustices of the past. I must say, though, being old enough to remember some of that past, I am unimpressed. I was in college in the early 1960s. There were homosexual students, and nobody minded them. They seemed perfectly happy. Certainly they were not ”beaten and brutalized”; and if they had been, I assume the ordinary laws of assault and battery would have come into play. I can recall even further back, known homosexual couples keeping house together in my provincial English home town in the 1950s. People made jokes about it, but nobody bothered them — though sodomy was illegal in England at the time! I don’t think private consensual acts should be illegal; but that aside, I don’t see much wrong with the mid-20th-century dispensation, based as it was on the great and splendid Anglo-Saxon principle of minding your own business.That's a fallacy -- Argumentum ad antiquitatem. We've always done it thus, therefore it is the way it must be. You would make as much sense arguing for the abolition of airplanes because "if God wanted us to fly, he'd have given us wings and we walked for thousands of years..."
(3) There really is a slippery slope here. Once marriage has been redefined to include homosexual pairings, what grounds will there be to oppose futher redefinition — to encompass people who want to marry their ponies, their sisters, or their soccer team? Are all private contractual relations for cohabitation to be rendered equal, or are some to be privileged over others, as has been customary in all times and places? If the latter, what is wrong with heterosexual pairing as the privileged status, sanctified as it is by custom and popular feeling?Another fallacy, which you kindly points out by using its name: The Slippery Slope. This argument states that should event X occur, so will other harmful events even though there is no casual connection or proof that X will cause Y. For example:
"If we legalize marijuana, then more people would start to take crack and heroin, and we'd have to legalize those too. Before long we'd have a nation full of drug-addicts on welfare. Therefore we cannot legalize marijuana."Ironically, this is the very argument used to criminalize marijuana and keep it criminalized. Yet, countries that have decriminalized marijuana have not seen the slippery slope under their feet. Rather, quite to the contrary.
(4) If you have a cognitively-challenged underclass, as every large nation has, you need some anchoring institutions for them to aspire to; and those institutions should have some continuity and stability. Heterosexual marriage is a key such institution. In a society in which nobody had an IQ below 120, homosexual marriage might be plausible. In the actual societies we have, other considerations kick in.An appeal to bigotry? I don't even know where this incredibly bigoted, moronic fallacy is coming from. If we all had IQs of 120 or higher, the author might get his foolish self laughed at even more than he is...
(5) Human nature exists, and has fixed characteristics. We are not infinitely malleable. Human society and human institutions need to ”fit” human nature, or at least not go too brazenly against the grain of it. Homophobia seems to be a rooted condition in us. It has been present always and everywhere, if only minimally (and unfairly — there has always been a double standard here) in disdain for “the man who plays the part of a woman.” There has never, anywhere, at any level of civilization, been a society that approved egalitarian (i.e. same age, same status) homosexual bonding. This tells us something about human nature — something it might be wisest (and would certainly be conservative-est) to leave alone.People made this argument about the Divine Right of Kings. They've made this argument about slavery. And homophobia is not a rooted condition in the nature of man. I've never been a homophobic. My children aren't homophobes. My wife is not a homophobic. The condition stems from conservative, controlling religions and societal indoctrination of those values into its members.
(6) There is a thinness in the arguments for gay marriage that leaves one thinking the proponents are not so much for something as against something. How many times have you heard that gay marriage is necessary so that gay people will not be hindered in visiting a hospitalized partner? But if hospitals have such rules — a thing I find hard to believe in this PC-whipped age — the rules can be changed, by legislation if necessary. What need to overturn a millennial institution for such trivial ends?Then the same thinness, but for your ignorance of it, applies to heterosexual relationships. But, for the record, it's more than hospital rules. It's about equality, real equality in society, not your "separate but equal" equality. After all, as we all know, "separate but equal" only means "separate."
I see Andrew Sullivan has found the original article. He doesn't go far enough.
Lessons on homosexuality will be mandatory in schools throughout England but parents can withdraw their child if they wish, the Government has said.
The requirement will also apply to faith schools but they will be allowed to cover the material in a way which accords with the school’s religious ethos.
The lessons are set to become part of the compulsory curriculum in 2011.
They way the write it is, of course, in the most provocative way. What is actually happening is far more mundane:
LONDON - It’s a controversial idea in a land known for prudishness about sex — teaching kids as young as 5 about the birds and bees.Which is where most children learn about sex at a far younger age yet is far less complete than is necessary to make good decisions. It's, I think, tremendously obvious that sex education makes good sense as circumstances easily foreseeable would dictate a younger, more comprehensive approach in which the prudish set would engage if left to their own devices. Children engage in sex, some of them quite young. If only to avoid teen pregnancy, STDs and abortion that the holy-rollers and pro-lifers keep yammering on about sex education makes sense. Never mind the issues of shame, perversion, 'abnormal' desires, pressure, date-rape, sexual and gender orientation, etc...
But with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe, the British government is bringing sex education to all schools in England — including kindergartens.
“It’s vital that this information doesn’t come from playground rumor or the mixed messages from the media about sex,” Schools Minister Jim Knight said Thursday, announcing that sex ed would be added to the national curriculum.
And, of course, the topic of homosexuality will come up. At an age appropriate time. They're very clear on the issue of age-appropriateness; Kindergartners won't be learning about sodomy or how to tea bag. They'll be learning the very basics of anatomy that they're, well, exploring on their own when playing doctor anyway... I certainly knew what a girls six-year-old vagina looked like when I was six and I, of course, reciprocated and showed my willie... Fair is fair, don't you know. And I was not, frankly, exceptional in this area. Probably half the children I knew had played "doctor" at one time or another and it's perfectly normal.
The government hasn’t detailed what the new curriculum will look like, but schools will be asked to provide lessons on relationships and contraception, topics not previously required. Lessons will become more sophisticated as kids get older.See, perfectly mundane and not "teaching homosexuality" in the way the god-botherers are implying with their deliberately misleading story. Plus, you can opt your child out... But, of course, that's not good enough for the Dark Ages Mentality of the more orthodox Christians. Far better to have a cow and sabotage it for everyone...
Elementary schools can offer lessons in naming body parts, preparing for puberty and relationship feelings, Knight said.
For the very young, sex ed will mainly be about self-awareness, he said.
“We are not talking about 5-year-old kids being taught sex,” he said. “What we’re talking about for key stage 1 (ages 5-7) is children knowing about themselves, their differences, their friendships and how to manage their feelings.”
What happens when a young California beauty pageant contestant is asked, "Do you support same-sex marriage?" She is attacked viciously for having the courage to speak up for her truth and her values. But Carrie's courage inspired a whole nation and a whole generation of young people because she chose to risk the Miss USA crown rather than be silent about her deepest moral values. "No Offense" calls gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: Gay marriage has consequences.1. What debate? There is no "debate." You assert that it is evil and use some bullshit bronze-age religious text that has, frankly, been discredited (as the "inerrant Word of God") by modern archaeological science and end the debate, before it begins, with name calling. Not once have you made any case, based on factual evidence, that gay marriage would cause any harm to society.
2. It wasn't her answer, per se. It was the stupidity of her rambling, almost self-contradictory answer. At first she was waffling and giving a perfectly honest "non-answer" which is the norm for a Beauty Pageant where boobs are more important than brains. She then turned the answer into a "gay bashing" answer for which she claimed "no offense" when it was CLEARLY OFFENSIVE. One of the rules of life is if you have to say "no offense" you have clearly said something offensive AND YOU KNOW IT.
3. NOM is the kiss of death for her career aspirations, though she should be able to eek-out a second-rate career in the Christian industry. Further, between this association and her choice of booking agents, she's clearly a stupid person. You do not make it from the Christian sub-market, with the high-handed, better-than-thou, holy-roller attitude, into the mainstream unless you just run a fluke or two under the radar, like Jars of Clay (a who have a story of foolish regression in their own right). But I somehow doubt a career is what she is after...
4. What are the consequences of Gay Marriage anyway? DOMA is still the horrible law of the land, denying gays 1,100 basic rights shared by heterosexual married couples. Hopefully a solid 14th Amendment Challenge can be made and it'll be repealed. But, for now, about the only thing "gay marriage" does is allow two people in love to formalize their bond.
5. As an aside, I see she was Miss LaJolla before she became Miss California. The bigotry doesn't surprise me in the slightest considering the "spoiled, Republican, rich-kid" demographics of the city. It's wing-nut heaven...
Thursday, April 30, 2009Apparently Sullivan has no sense of irony and hasn't paid attention to the Libertarians the past decade. Many of them would sell their grandmother's corpse for rendering into soap if the opportunity came.
30 Apr 2009 07:40 am
Moore Award Nominee, Ctd.
A reader writes:I think perhaps you should reconsider your Moore Award nominee. The object of her rhetorical horse-whipping really is a misogynist whackaloon. I just read his article. It is stark raving mad. You should read it. He really is opposed to women voting and he wants to colonize outer space to escape taxes. Amanda Marcotte is not exaggerating.The award was garnered because of Marcotte's characterization of all libertarianism, not because many of Thiel's particular views are worth defending. Marcotte uses Thiel as a bludgeon to grossly distort the small L libertarian worldview. She also invents policy positions that most libertarians don't hold: they want " to create an army to ransack other nations and take their wealth." Huh?
She apparently doesn't see this.
As for going to war for a 1% tax cut... I guess he never heard of George Bush and Iraq... And didn't pay attention to the 2004 election where Bush was the #1 vote getter among Libertarians, far in excess of his 50.1% popular vote.
Because the Libertarians, who didn't vote Libertarian, generally voted for Bush and not for Gore and/or Kerry. According to the Cato Institute, in 2000 libertarians gave 72 percent of their votes to George W. Bush, the rest split (Gore was #2). In other elections, not featuring a strong 3rd party candidate, the numbers have been even higher for the Republican candidate. The worst in the past forty years was about 60% in 2004, about 10% higher than the general population, but that was more along the lines of the budget, not the war. The people that didn't vote for Bush (it was a drop of about two million) were mostly (but not all) fed up with the out-of-control spending...
So, the gruesome reality is the Libertarians that moved away from Bush, generally did so because of the government spending. Not the war. And even with the war, and threats of more wars (Iran, Syria, N. Korea) they still flocked to Bush 60/40 everyone else.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
"But we are not asked to judge the President's character flaws. We are asked to judge whether the President, who swore an oath to faithfully execute his office, deliberately subverted--for whatever purpose--the rule of law," - John McCain arguing for the impeachment of Bill Clinton for perjury in a civil suit, February 1999.Really, I so don't want to here another fucking word out of the Republicans about law, justice or morality for as long as I live until they get off their corrupt asses and do their fucking jobs.
"Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot," - John McCain, October 2007.
"We've got to move on," - John McCain, April 26, 2009, reacting to incontrovertible proof that George W. Bush ordered the waterboarding of a prisoner 183 times, as well as broader treatment that the Red Cross has
called "unequivocally torture."
Michelle Bachmann -- Face of the Republicans. Or, why the Republican Party needs to go the way of the Whigs and the Know Nothings (aka American Party)...
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (sometimes known as the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act)was an act signed into law on June 17, 1930, that raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. In the United States 1,028 economists signed a petition against this legislation, and after it was passed, many countries retaliated with their own increased tariffs on U.S. goods, and American exports and imports plunged by more than half. In the opinion of most economists, the Smoot-Hawley Act was a catalyst for the severe reduction in U.S.-European trade from its high in 1929 to its depressed levels of 1932 that accompanied the start of the Great Depression.
Smoot and Hawley were both Republicans. The Act was signed into law by Hoover, a Republican President.
Roosevelt was elected in 1932 and took office in 1933. Well after the Republicans gave us the Great Depression.
Worth watching... And it's free... :)
So, being the conflict-hassle avoidant person I am, I want to cancel my subscription with out going through the typical, aggravating customer service dance. I figure I'll go on-line to cancel via the website as I it is probably the perfect way to stealth-cancel and avoid the inevitable hassles of cancelling.
So I look. And I look. And I look. And I look some more. No luck.
Finally I "search" the site under the search-term "cancel." Crap, they're not going to let me cancel my subscription on-line, but are going to make me do the song and dance with a real, live person who is going to try to re-sell me and over-come all of my objections, just like s/he was taught in "Sales 101:"
No, we don't have that option available right now. We want to be sure we've done everything we can to make your DIRECTV experience a great one, so if you do have a need to cancel, we ask you to call us to do so. This way we can handle your request and, if applicable, take any input you'd like to give us to improve service for our customers. Please call us at 1-800-531-5000.I hate the song and dance. And they know lots of people like me hate the song and dance. We just want to cancel without the inevitable "we want to resell you" crap with the (potentially hostile) customer service agent. Plus, I always feel bad to some extent, like I'm somehow personally rejecting the person (as an individual) whom I'm talking to, even though I know I'm not and I'm just moving on from a commercial transaction.
So I prepare myself to explain that, over the years, I've stopped watching TV. And, frankly, most every show we've ever watched in our family is either on Hulu (at least occasionally) or now re-broadcasts on the show website or we've out-grown them (like the children's shows on Disney). So, on the rare occasions I might want to watch TV, I can generally watch whatever show it happens to be over my high-speed Internet. Though now that I've really lost a lot of interest in football, TV watching is pretty much my wife and daughter watching "their shows" together in their mom-daughter-bonding-common-interests time in the evenings.
So I call, and sure enough, I have to explain that I just don't watch TV. So, after only five minutes of explaining this and her trying to re-sell me and my being very firm I "don't want to be re-sold" I managed to only be resold five or six times and exited the process without having lost my temper. And, at the end of it, managed to cancel my account without being treated like a jerk by the customer service person. Which, based on the horrors of customer service cancellation I've gone through in the past, is something of a minor miracle.
In the end, I left with little fuss and stress at the parting. I think it's a smart move by DirectTV to avoid the appearance, or fact, of being aggressively annoying in this process. Plus, having left on a good note, unlike Sprint, ATT and Vonage I have no reason to be avoidant. Unlike those three previously-mentioned ass-bag companies, all of whom have incurred my implacable disdain for their shoddy customer service, lying and even threats of civil suits/criminal when I refused to pay for services for which I never signed up (that'd be Sprint and their dishonest sales rep who committed criminal and civil fraud by forging a contract with my name on it). By making it a relatively easy, non-emotionally charged, process, at least compared to the way most companies do it, I may someday re-subscribe to DirectTV if my needs or desires change.
The AiG Statement of FaithWell, we know where this is going to lead... :)
Section 1: Priorities
The scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer and Judge.
The doctrines of Creator and Creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Section 2: BasicsUh oh. Inerrant really means "I haven't actually read it, or, having read it refuse to accept the obvious: there are mistakes."
The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.
The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.In other words, circular reasoning at its finest.
The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.Which account? There are two accounts, they are in conflict. You'd know that if you actually read the bible... At least honestly.
The various original life-forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God. The living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within the original kind. Only limited biological changes (including mutational deterioration) have occurred naturally within each kind since Creation.Ah yes, bullshitting away from the Noah's Ark problem... That is, you couldn't have possibly carried all four-thousand species of mammals on the thing, never mind everything else...
The great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect.And stolen from Babylonian mythology. Are we saying that the Babylonian mythology is true too? Or just the parts stolen by the Jews?
The special creation of Adam (the first man) and Eve (the first woman), and their subsequent fall into sin, is the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind.Funny, but the bible actually mentions other people. Not directly, but it's easy to infer there are other peoples in the world from the Genesis accounts.
Death (both physical and spiritual) and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to and as a direct consequence of man’s sin.
Section 3: TheologyExcept for some narrow areas related to Archeology, etc., science doesn't concern itself with theology. If you're going to run a "Science Fair" why do we have this... Beyond, the obvious answer you're totally afraid of science and wish to destroy it because it threatens your bronze-age belief system that excuses your hatred of others and enables social structures for you to exercise your desire to control.
The Godhead is triune: one God, three Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
All mankind are sinners, inherently from Adam and individually (by choice) and are therefore subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.
Freedom from the penalty and power of sin is available to man only through the sacrificial death and shed blood of Jesus Christ, and His complete and bodily Resurrection from the dead.
The Holy Spirit enables the sinner to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit lives and works in each believer to produce the fruits of righteousness.
Salvation is a gift received by faith alone in Christ alone and expressed in the individual’s repentance, recognition of the death of Christ as full payment for sin, and acceptance of the risen Christ as Saviour, Lord and God.
All things necessary for our salvation are either expressly set down in Scripture or may be deduced by good and necessary consequence from Scripture.
Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead, ascended to Heaven, and is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father, and shall return in person to this Earth as Judge of the living and the dead.
Satan is the personal spiritual adversary of both God and man.
Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God.
The only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of marriage. Any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, incest, fornication, adultery, pornography, etc., are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex.
And, of course, we have gay bashing... Well, at least they're broader in their bashing and include most of the members who, based on the stats, watch porno and cheat on their wives/husbands...
Section 4: GeneralIn other words, we stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes and should "la la la la la la!!!!" to avoid the truth while peddling our Bronze Age Bullshit.
The following are held by members of the Board of Answers in Genesis to be either consistent with Scripture or implied by Scripture.
Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation.
The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six  consecutive twenty-four  hour days of Creation.
The Noachian Flood was a significant geological event and much (but not all) fossiliferous sediment originated at that time.
The ‘gap’ theory has no basis in Scripture.
The view, commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of Biblical teaching, that knowledge and/or truth may be divided into ‘secular’ and ‘religious’, is rejected.
By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
Whereas Specter, who is, really, not as moderate as he portrays himself and has regularly voted for crap like the Military Commissions Act, warrant-less wiretapping, etc. in recent years had a chance to win the general election because people believe he's, deep inside, a moderate. Even though, Specter (for all his bloviating) has been on the wrong side of virtually every important piece of rights-destroying, inhumane-banana-republic legislation that has come down the pipe for years.
But that's not good enough for the wing-nuts:
Battered Republican SyndromeSpecter is right. The Republicans are caught in a positive feedback death-spiral right now. As they keep kicking out their moderate members, they shrink their base. I've made no secret I got tired of the Republicans and their idiotic culture war in the 1990's. The last hurrah for them was when I was for McCain before he went crazy and betrayed his previously (not so) held principles. When Bush won the primary, I voted for Nader in the general election.
I don’t know what’s wrong with people like Ramesh Ponnuru and Lindsey Graham. Over at the National Review, Ponnuru blamed the Club for pushing Specter to the Democratic Party, calling us, “The Club for Shrinkage.” Senator Graham lamented Specter’s switch-a-roo, saying, “I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth. I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican Party that can attract people from all corners of the country.”
But an ideologue like Mr. Roth doesn't get it. He doesn't get that Specter (and his kind) could, once again, be tolerable to main-stream America if he cleaned up his civil rights issues, especially those connected to Constitutional issues vis' this idiotic "War on Terror" crap that the Republicans abused during the Bush years. I would also expect him to me more mature on the role of government and stay away from the Norquist-type policies endorsed by the Club for Growth.
But the only person to blame for Arlen Specter’s defection is...Arlen Specter. Today, the senior senator from Pennsylvania proved that he cares about one thing and one thing only: Holding on to his thirty years of political power, no matter who he has to step on or what principles he has to trample on along the way. And yet, this is the kind of politician Ramesh Ponnuru and Sen. Graham think will help the Republican Party rebuild itself? This is the kind of “Republican” that will help the GOP regain the voters’ trust?No. If you wouldn't have gone hell-bent-for-leather to kick him out of office, you'd have a lap-dog that'd vote your way 90% of the time. Now you have an enemy that will, if he has any brains, will not...
If you didn't learn the lesson from Tedisco, people don't like Republicans so much anymore. And it's because they are candidates for people like you. In a district with 70,000 more Republicans than Democrats, you lost, because potentially sympathetic people like me don't like your whack-nut candidates. And, yes, your base of intolerant religious freaks and selfish anti-government/tax ideologues will vote for them. As will traditional "lever puller" Republicans. But that's not enough. Not any more.
If anything, Arlen Specter is the epitome of everything voters have come to hate about the Republican Party—the desperate grasping for power and the complete rejection of the principles the Party claims to stand for.Republican principles? What the hell are those anymore?
Isolationism? Fuck, you're trying to empire and it will break us.
Less government? Not from you. Unless you mean sabotaging the legitimate role of government, then yes. You have destroyed/substantially impaired the ability of government to function while taking the money and giving it to corporate interests for boondoggles.
Social conservatism? It used to mean "butt-out of people's personal lives." Now it means regulate every aspect of people's lives, including their sex acts.
Family values? You're way out of touch here. Destroying the middle classes ability to earn a decent living and get ahead is hardly supporting family values.
More trade? What you mean is "no tariffs so we can ship your job overseas and when we import these low-labor-cost goods we don't lower the price, but pocket the difference in labor costs so WE get richer and YOU suffer." Because that's what you're doing. That's why executive pay is now 350+ times worker pay in America, instead of 35+ times like it was in the 1960's.
These folks are buying into Arlen Specter’s argument that the Republican Party would be better off with Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, Rep. Joe Schwarz, and Sen. Lincoln Chafee instead of losing these so-called Republicans to more conservative primary challengers. Well, let’s take a look at these politicians. Sen. Lincoln Chafee is now an Independent who endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Reps. Schwarz and Gilchrest both endorsed the Democratic candidates looking to take over their seats. And all three of these politicians spent months telling primary voters that they were genuine and committed Republicans.They were. But they were moderate Republicans. Not all Republicans, though they're harder to find these days, are hateful monsters such as you've become. Plus, with those kind of people in your party, you have a better ability to trick people into thinking you're still "big tent" and you leave wiggle room for moderates to kid themselves. Without them, you're the party of David Duke, Dick Cheney and people of that ilk.
So instead of blaming the Club or principled folks like Pat Toomey, perhaps, Senator Graham and Ramesh Ponnuru should pin the blame on the politicians who care more about their political careers than the people they are supposed to be representing.You're supposed to represent ALL Americans. Not just some special interest Americans (your wing-nut base) which is not what you've been doing. Really, what pan-US principles would the current Republican party be representing? Trashing the Constitution? Excusing torture? Destroying the legitimate role of Government? Running government for the rich to enrich the rich? Spending billions on unnecessary, bullshit weapon systems that don't/can't work to enrich defense contractors? Because that's what you've done.
Arlen Specter argued today in his defection announcement that the GOP has strayed too far to the right since the days of the “Reagan Big Tent.” But if there was anyone who understood the importance of standing up for principle, it was Ronald Reagan who declared in 1976:Reagan had core principles. But, more than that, Reagan sold a story and people bought it.
“A political party cannot be all things to all people. It cannot compromise its fundamental beliefs for political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers. It is not a social club or fraternity engaged in intramural contests to accumulate trophies on the mantel over the fireplace...No one can quarrel with the idea that a political party hopes it can attract a wide following, but does it do this by forsaking its basic beliefs? By blurring its own image so as to be indistinguishable from the opposition party?”
But, beyond that, Reagan was very, very good at working with Democrats and 'compromising' his principles, on many issues, to reach a common ground with moderates.You'd know that if you didn't worship a caricature of the Myth of Reagan.
Some commentators suffer from "Battered Republican Syndrome" -- they cling to liberals like Specter hoping some day the betrayals will stop. Get over it. If the Republicans are going to prosper as a political party, they must offer a consistent conservative alternative.The only "Battered Republican Syndrome" I see is your faint, bleating protests. You're like Pee Wee Herman, "I meant to do that..."
Monday, April 27, 2009
Three influenza pandemics have occurred in the past century, spreading in a matter of months to most areas of the world and experts at the World Health Organisation believe another is both "inevitable" and "imminent".Clearly we were warned of the possibility. Not a certainty, but the very real possibility of a flu pandemic. After all, we've had three others in the past 100 years and there are more of us traveling further and faster than ever. So, clearly thinking people needed to have a response, unfortunately, so did the idiot Republicans:
Pandemics are characterised both by the number of people affected and by the fact that apparently young and healthy people tend to be affected as severely as elderly people and more vulnerable groups. The word pandemic comes from the Greek "pan", all, and "demos", meaning people.
When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year's emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.I'll say it: Republicans are unfit to govern. In fact, at this point, they're unfit to even hold elected office. We should not, if we want an actual living, breathing viable democracy with opportunity, listen to them until they get rid of the crazies, zealots and morons that have made them so incredibly hateful and dangerous to civilization.
Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse -- with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.
But former White House political czar Karl Rove and key congressional Republicans -- led by Maine Senator Susan Collins -- aggressively attacked the notion that there was a connection between pandemic preparation and economic recovery.
Now, as the World Health Organization says a deadly swine flu outbreak that apparently began in Mexico but has spread to the United States has the potential to develop into a pandemic, Obey's attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient.
And his partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerous.
The current swine flu outbreak is not a pandemic, and there is reason to hope that it can be contained.
But it has already believed to have killed more than 100 people in a neighboring country and sickened dozens of Americans -- causing the closing of schools and other public facilities in U.S. cities.
Rove specifically complained that Obey's proposal included "$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations."
They've brought us the worst economic down-turn since the Great Depression (which they brought us) with their idiotic fantasies about economics and the role of government. They've fought useless, immoral wars. They've bankrupted us with unnecessary tax cuts. When they got into power in the 1980's, we were the largest exporter and a creditor nation; now we're the largest importer and a debtor nation. Our Bill of Rights has been trashed and our government agencies were run by criminals.
Just to make it worse, they've trashed our national reputation and besmirched our honor when they okay'd torture, something the opposed back in the 1980's when St. Ronnie signed the Convention Against Torture. And, now they're politicizing the issue by claiming the Democrats are politicizing the investigation of crimes. Let's be clear, these are crimes and crimes are NOT POLICY DECISIONS.
So, as we sit here under the very real threat of a flu epidemic, we have time to reflect that if the Republicans ran the government, and the worst happened, we'd die thanks to their short-sighted obstructionist policies. Making the United States sort of a giant New Orleans...
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.Iraq and Al Qaeda had no links. Bush wanted to invade Iraq as part of the NeoCon/PNAC glorious Pax Imperial America. So we tortured people to produce the false confessions we knew people would produce when we tortured them.
Such information would’ve provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush’s main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. No evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Saddam’s regime.
The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush’s quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.
Prosecuting this evil would not be "criminalizing politics." It would be justice as committing crimes is not "policy," it's law breaking. No matter what an idiot like David Broder has to say...:
If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the "torture" policies of the past.We have sunk ever so low as a country... And note the euphemisms for torture. It's like "if I don't say it, it didn't happen... la la la la la..."
Obama, to his credit, has ended one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
"I've heard him express regret at the contents of the memo," said a fellow legal scholar and longtime friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity while offering remarks that might appear as "piling on." "I've heard him express regret that the memo was misused. I've heard him express regret at the lack of context -- of the enormous pressure and the enormous time pressure that he was under. And anyone would have regrets simply because of the notoriety."No, he regrets getting caught. He regrets the publicity.
But, if he weren't caught, I would doubt very much he would regret that he was more than happy to write a cya legal opinion that was obviously contrary to US and International Law when it came to torture. Look at that smile as he's being elevated to an appellate judgeship... That doesn't look like a man full of regret. That looks like a man who's happy he's been rewarded for what he's done...
Friday, April 24, 2009
Number of people killed by guns in 2006 in England & Wales (population 53 million): 46
Number of people killed by guns in 2006 in New York City (population 8 million): 590
Number of people killed by guns in the United States in 2004: 29,569
Percentage breakdown by US gun deaths in 2004, by type:
16,750 suicides (56% of all U.S. gun deaths)
11,624 homicides (40%)
649 unintentional shootings, 311 from legal intervention and 235 from undetermined intent (4%).
In 1998 (the most recent year for which this data has been compiled), handguns murdered:
373 people in Germany
151 people in Canada
57 people in Australia
19 people in Japan
54 people in England and Wales, and
11,789 people in the United States (suicides not included)
Sources: CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality report online, 2007; Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence; The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboarding,' according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."
A new one by Roy...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Of Course It Was TortureJust a Clinton aside, in later years I have felt that the out-of-control Republican witch-hunt of Clinton was the beginning of their end. Here he was, an enabler of their economic policies and relatively ineffective in his social policies, being hounded by people that were, by-and-large, more like him than the rest of the Democratic Party. They should have embraced Clinton instead of hounding him into perjury.
by Gene Healy
Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency.
On Thursday, the Obama administration released previously classified memos detailing interrogation techniques used against enemy prisoners. In the memos, Bush administration lawyers assured the CIA that waterboarding detainees and keeping them awake for a week or more was perfectly legal. Bush partisans insist that such methods aren't torture, and that Obama has done grave harm to national security by revealing them. They're wrong on both counts.
Conservative legal analyst David Rivkin, one of Bush's most reliable defenders, insists that "any fair-minded observer" would conclude that the documents prove that "the Bush administration did not torture." But it's hard to understand how anyone could call what the administration did by any other name. Rivkin's assertion is on a par with left-wing diehards' claim that President Clinton didn't commit perjury.
And, yes, I do agree it was perjury and I think impeachment was appropriate. You lie under oath, you've committed a crime. Regardless of the fact it was just an "embarrassment" proceeding.
After their success in crippling Clinton, they became power-mad and corrupt. Culminating in crap-heads like Frist, Rove, Bush, Cheney, et. al., that took our country for a ride for which it will take us decades to reverse and recover, if we can.
Let's start with waterboarding. If it's not torture, then maybe we owe an apology to the Japanese soldiers we prosecuted for it after WWII. It felt "like I was drowning," Lieutenant Chase Nielsen testified in a 1946 war crimes trial, "just gasping between life and death."I should point out that US soldiers were prosecuted for water boarding during Vietnam. And I believe that Colin Powell was, in his role as "hush monkey" as involved with some of those accusations as he was with the cover-up of the Mai Lai massacre. There is no secret that it is torture and anyone who would have done any type of reasonable case-law search looking for the answer to the question instead of constructing a fiction to justify a policy in place...
True, the CIA administered the "water cure" only to three prisoners (183 times in a month to one of them). And none of the other techniques—"stress positions," "sleep deprivation," "cramped confinement," etc.—repulse us like the rack and the thumbscrew do.
That's why Bush administration defenders prefer to describe each technique in isolation, glossing over the fact that it was the relentless combination of such tactics for extended periods that made them rise to the level of torture.
For those who have not read the General's letter, it is here:
US law defines torture as the infliction of "severe physical or mental pain or suffering." Susan Crawford, the lawyer appointed by President Bush to oversee
Guantanamo Bay trials, refused to refer one detainee's case for prosecution,
because the combination of these techniques "met the legal definition of
But don't take her word for it. Read the descriptions military personnel provided of prisoners' reactions to "enhanced interrogation": "Detainee began to cry. Detainee bit the IV tube completely in two. Started moaning.... Yelled for Allah. Urinated on himself.... Trembled uncontrollably." Does that meet the statutory definition? Gosh yes, that's a tough legal question.
The point here isn't to make you shed a tear for Al Qaeda prisoners; mass murderers (actual or aspiring) are pretty hard to feel sorry for. But anyone who understands the issue ought to feel some remorse over the damage our policy did to the rule of law and American interests abroad.
Obama has announced that he won't prosecute CIA line officers, and it's unlikely that anyone else will face criminal sanctions for their role in the program. Even so, it's clear that the policy was, at the very least, criminally stupid.
Imagine if, shortly after 9/11, someone had told you that the US government would adopt an interrogation policy based on Chinese Communist techniques designed to elicit false confessions. You'd have thought that person was pretty cynical. But he'd turn out to be exactly right.
To craft its torture program, the Bush team consulted experts from the military's SERE program (for "Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape"). SERE was adopted in the wake of the Korean War to train American soldiers to resist abuse by rogue regimes. After 9/11, we put those techniques to work to interrogate terrorist suspects.
It's hardly surprising, then, that, as one former high-ranking intelligence official told the Washington Post: "We spent millions of dollars chasing false alarms." Beaten savagely by Egyptian torturers, one victim of our "extraordinary rendition" program concocted a story about Saddam Hussein giving Al Qaeda WMD training. That story made it into Colin Powell's UN Security Council speech selling the Iraq War.
In his ill-fated presidential campaign, Republican congressman Tom Tancredo got his biggest applause line when he cheered for torture in a May 2007 debate: "I'm lookin' for Jack Bauer!" The real thing is a lot less glamorous—and a lot less effective—than what you see on TV. Around the same time Tancredo was mugging for the cameras, General David Petraeus issued an open letter to his troops warning against the use of torture: "Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy." That's a principle we should keep in mind going forward.
HEADQUARTERSI could imagine Eisenhower writing the same thing. Which is why I think the Republicans need Petraeus. He might be able to re-attract the disenfranchised, moral-wing of the Republican party because he can be seen as someone who hasn't forgotten what America is supposed to be about... Unlike the religious zealots, bigots and banana-republic morons that have taken it over.
MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE - IRAQ
APO AE 09342-1400
10 May 2007
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen serving in Multi-National Force-Iraq:
Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we - not our enemies - occupy the moral high ground. This strategy has shown results in recent months. Al Qaeda's indiscriminate attacks, for example, have finally started to turn a substantial proportion of the Iraqi population against it.
In view of this, I was concerned by the results of a recently released survey conducted last fall in Iraq that revealed an apparent unwillingness on the part of some US personnel to report illegal actions taken by fellow members of their units. The study also indicated that a small percentage of those surveyed may have mistreated noncombatants. This survey should spur reflection on our conduct in combat.
I fully appreciate the emotions that one experiences in Iraq. I also know firsthand the bonds between members of the "brotherhood of the close fight." Seeing a fellow trooper killed by a barbaric enemy can spark frustration, anger, and a desire for immediate revenge. As hard as it might be, however, we must not let these emotions lead us - or our comrades in arms - to commit hasty, illegal actions. In the event that we witness or hear of such actions, we must not let our bonds prevent us from speaking up.
Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequency neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone "talk;" however, what the individual says may be of questionable value. In fact, our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees.
We are, indeed, warriors. We train to kill our enemies. We are engaged in combat, we must pursue the enemy relentlessly, and we must be violent at times. What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight, however, is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings. Stress caused by lengthy deployments and combat is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that we are human. If you feel such stress, do not hesitate to talk to your chain of command, your chaplain, or a medical expert.
We should use the survey results to renew our commitment to the values and standards that make us who we are and to spur re-examination of these issues. Leaders, in particular, need to discuss these issues with their troopers - and, as always, they need to set the right example and strive to ensure proper conduct. We should never underestimate the importance of good leadership and the difference it can make.
Thanks for what you continue to do. It is an honor to serve with each of you.
David H. Petraeus
General, United States Army
The problem with "following the rules..."
In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed.This is what happens when you follow the wing-nut way...
"The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior," the Interior Ministry's statement declared.
The Minister of the Interior is also one of Sheikh Issa's brother.
The government statement said its review found "all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department."
On April 8, 2005 Karpinski was formally relieved of command of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and on May 5, 2005, President George W. Bush approved Karpinski's demotion to colonel from the rank of brigadier general.
Her demotion was not officially related to the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Her demotion was not officially related to the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. The allegations against her were for dereliction of duty, making a material misrepresentation to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting. There is no record of her being arrested for shoplifting. The others sound like the typical "throw crap" accusations that come your way when the military decides it's had enough of you. Something I frequently, as de facto policy, when I was in the military.
In October 2005 she published an account of her experiences, One Woman's Army, in which she claims that the abuses were perpetrated by contract employees trained in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay and sent under orders from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and that her demotion was political retribution. This was denied by the in-pocket media, the military and the right wingers.
Well, with the release of the torture memos, and the active defense of torture by Cheney, obviously someone decided to bring the "disgraced" former General back for a visit at MSNBC:
Karpinski: This is one of the most shameful aspects of these memos and the knowledge that people at the highest levels of our government had about these memos, actually sat together and wrote them and rewrote them and crafted them to meet the requirements of these techniques they wanted to use.People went to jail for following those memos. People's lives and careers were destroyed for following those memos.
They were well aware, these people, Rumsfeld, Sanchez, all of them and were well aware of these policies and these memorandums while these soldiers were being accused....five years ago. And if it was okay Mr. Former Vice President, if you're saying that this was necessary today and that it produced good intelligence..where were you five years ago stepping up to the plate and saying hold on, we can't discuss this because this is classified information, but these soldiers did not design these techniques? Where were all of those heros then to step up to the plate and defend these soldiers and to defend me? These were soldiers that were serving in a combat zone that were good Americans and remain good Americans and that were so unfairly blamed. Five years this month to get these memos released, declassified and released and people still trying to say that what happened at Abu Ghraib was different than what these memorandums were directing. No! It is not!
In all the things we need to make right, these bit-players victimized by their leaders should not be forgotten or cast aside. They should, in fact, be given justice. True justice.
I won't hold my breath.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Strangest lawsuit ever?It's just so funny...
Tue Apr 21 01:28PM
I see a lot of strange news stories in this job and this one, which was featured recently in a German newspaper, is up there with the strangest.
A judge in Stuttgart, Germany, is currently trying to decide on a lawsuit in which a man hired his neighbour to impregnate his wife.
It gets weirder.
Demetrius Soupolos, 29, and his former beauty queen wife, Traute, were very keen to have a child together, but Demetrius was sterile so they began to seek out other possible options.
The option the couple eventually decided on was to hire their neighbour Frank Maus, 34, to impregnate Traute.
Maus, who was already married with two children agreed to do the job for the fee of €2,000. For three evenings a week for the next six months, a total of 72 different times, Maus tried to impregnate Traute.
When his own wife objected, Maus explained that he was "only doing it for the money."
After the unsuccessful six-month period Soupolos insisted that Maus take a medical examination. The doctor concluded that Maus was also sterile, which forced his wife into admitting that their two children did not belong to him.
Soupolos is now suing Maus in an effort to get his money back. Maus' argument is that he did not guarantee conception, only that he would try his hardest.
Alleged Ku Klux Klan member found incompetent to stand trialI should point out that being a moron would most likely not get a black man excused from standing for a capital crimes trial in this country as such decisions are, frankly, arbitrary and capricious and depend on the judge's inherent biases.
A state judge today found an alleged Ku Klux Klan member incompetent to stand trial for obstruction of justice in connection with the killing of a Oklahoma woman who tried to back out of a Klan initiation ceremony in a remote part of St. Tammany Parish.
State Judge Reginald "Reggie" Badeaux ordered Shane Foster, 21, to get tutoring in the St. Tammany Parish Jail for the next 90 days by a court-appointed forensic coordinator with the hope that it would "restore" Foster's competency and make him ready for trial.
Dr. Michelle Garriga, who was appointed by the court to examine Foster and did so on March 16, testified on the stand today that Foster does "not have a factual understanding" of the law or its procedures.
She said he has "cognitive deficits," "an ignorance of legal understanding," and that he is "mildly mentally retarded or a little above that."
So, while I'm happy for the retard, at some level, it is not without the bitter irony that the people he hates would likely not get the same grace.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
You may like this one too!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – CIA interrogators used the waterboarding technique on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted planner of the September 11 attacks, 183 times and 83 times on another al Qaeda suspect, The New York Times said on Sunday.Ok, if torture was actually effective then, according to the apologist's Jack Bauer TV-beliefs just once or twice should be enough. After all, many a nimrod I've run into regarding that premise has said so. One going so far as to praise the effectiveness of torture saying Abu Zubayadah "sung like a canary" when he was waterboarded. Which is true, but it was because he went crazy and they were the ravings of a mad-man that tied down over 300 FBI agents with chasing down false leads and produced no, actual, actionable intelligence.
The Times said a 2005 Justice Department memorandum showed that Abu Zubaydah, the first prisoner questioned in the CIA's overseas detention program in August 2002, was waterboarded 83 times, although a former CIA officer had told news media he had been subjected to only 35 seconds underwater before talking.
The sad irony is, the traditional "rapport building" they did before they tortured him did work. It produced solid information and lead to the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Information the wing-nuts claim came from torture, but didn't.
We'll see if Mr. "Change We Can Believe In" will get off his corrupt ass and do something about it. I'm not holding my breath.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas--which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn't work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact that we have difficulty in understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when nothing that they proposed ever really worked--or very little of it did.
But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me into a conversation about UFOS, or astrology, or some form of mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and so forth. And I've concluded that it's not a scientific world.
Most people believe so many wonderful things that I decided to investigate why they did. And what has been referred to as my curiosity for investigation has landed me in a difficulty where I found so much junk that I'm overwhelmed. First I started out by investigating various ideas of mysticism, and mystic experiences. I went into isolation tanks and got many hours of hallucinations, so I know something about that. Then I went to Esalen, which is a hotbed of this kind of thought (it's a wonderful place; you should go visit there). Then I became overwhelmed. I didn't realize how much there was.
At Esalen there are some large baths fed by hot springs situated on a ledge about thirty feet above the ocean. One of my most pleasurable experiences has been to sit in one of those baths and watch the waves crashing onto the rocky shore below, to gaze into the clear blue sky above, and to study a beautiful nude as she quietly appears and settles into the bath with me.
One time I sat down in a bath where there was a beautiful girl sitting with a guy who didn't seem to know her. Right away I began thinking, "Gee! How am I gonna get started talking to this beautiful nude babe?"
I'm trying to figure out what to say, when the guy says to her, I'm, uh, studying massage. Could I practice on you?"
"Sure," she says. They get out of the bath and she lies down on a
massage table nearby.
I think to myself, "What a nifty line! I can never think of anything like that!" He starts to rub her big toe. "I think I feel it, "he says. "I feel a kind of dent--is that the pituitary?"
I blurt out, "You're a helluva long way from the pituitary, man!"
They looked at me, horrified--I had blown my cover--and said, "It's reflexology!"
I quickly closed my eyes and appeared to be meditating.
That's just an example of the kind of things that overwhelm me. I also looked into extrasensory perception and PSI phenomena, and the latest craze there was Uri Geller, a man who is supposed to be able to bend keys by rubbing them with his finger. So I went to his
hotel room, on his invitation, to see a demonstration of both mindreading and bending keys. He didn't do any mindreading that succeeded; nobody can read my mind, I guess. And my boy held a key and Geller rubbed it, and nothing happened. Then he told us it works better under water, and so you can picture all of us standing in the bathroom with the water turned on and the key under it, and him rubbing the key with his finger. Nothing happened. So I was
unable to investigate that phenomenon.
But then I began to think, what else is there that we believe? (And I thought then about the witch doctors, and how easy it would have been to cheek on them by noticing that nothing really worked.) So I found things that even more people believe, such as that we have
some knowledge of how to educate. There are big schools of reading methods and mathematics methods, and so forth, but if you notice, you'll see the reading scores keep going down--or hardly going up in spite of the fact that we continually use these same people to
improve the methods. There's a witch doctor remedy that doesn't work. It ought to be looked into; how do they know that their method should work? Another example is how to treat criminals. We obviously have made no progress--lots of theory, but no progress--
in decreasing the amount of crime by the method that we use to handle criminals.
Yet these things are said to be scientific. We study them. And I think ordinary people with commonsense ideas are intimidated by this pseudoscience. A teacher who has some good idea of how to teach her children to read is forced by the school system to do it some other way--or is even fooled by the school system into thinking that her method is not necessarily a good one. Or a parent of bad boys, after disciplining them in one way or another, feels guilty for the rest of her life because she didn't do "the right thing," according to the experts.
So we really ought to look into theories that don't work, and science that isn't science.
I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.
Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they're missing. But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea Islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of
utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can--if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else
come out right, in addition.
In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.
The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson oil doesn't soak through food. Well, that's true. It's not dishonest; but the thing I'm talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest, it's a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement
is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will-- including Wesson oil. So it's the implication which has been
conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.
We've learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature's phenomena will agree or they'll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven't tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it's this type of integrity, this kind of care not to
fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.
A great deal of their difficulty is, of course, the difficulty of the subject and the inapplicability of the scientific method to the subject. Nevertheless it should be remarked that this is not the
only difficulty. That's why the planes didn't land--but they don't land.
We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It's a little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It's interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bigger than Millikan's, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.
Why didn't they discover that the new number was higher right away? It's a thing that scientists are ashamed of--this history--because it's apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan's, they thought something
must be wrong--and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number closer to Millikan's value they didn't look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that. We've learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don't have that kind of a disease.
But this long history of learning how not to fool ourselves--of having utter scientific integrity--is, I'm sorry to say, something that we haven't specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you've caught on by osmosis.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself--and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.
I would like to add something that's not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you're talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you're not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We'll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I'm talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.
For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a friend who was going to go on the radio. He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of this work were. "Well," I said, "there aren't any." He said, "Yes, but then we won't get support for more research of this kind." I think that's kind of dishonest. If you're representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to
the layman what you're doing--and if they don't want to support you under those circumstances, then that's their decision.
One example of the principle is this: If you've made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds of results.
I say that's also important in giving certain types of government advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it would be better in some other state. If you don't publish such a result, it seems to me you're not giving scientific advice. You're being used. If your answer happens to come out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don't publish it at all. That's not giving scientific advice.
Other kinds of errors are more characteristic of poor science. When I was at Cornell, I often talked to the people in the psychology department. One of the students told me she wanted to do an experiment that went something like this--it had been found by others that under certain circumstances, X, rats did something, A. She was curious as to whether, if she changed the circumstances to Y, they would still do A. So her proposal was to do the experiment under circumstances Y and see if they still did A.
I explained to her that it was necessary first to repeat in her laboratory the experiment of the other person--to do it under condition X to see if she could also get result A, and then change
to Y and see if A changed. Then she would know that the real difference was the thing she thought she had under control.
She was very delighted with this new idea, and went to her professor. And his reply was, no, you cannot do that, because the experiment has already been done and you would be wasting time.
This was in about 1947 or so, and it seems to have been the general policy then to not try to repeat psychological experiments, but only to change the conditions and see what happens.
Nowadays there's a certain danger of the same thing happening, even in the famous (?) field of physics. I was shocked to hear of an experiment done at the big accelerator at the National Accelerator Laboratory, where a person used deuterium. In order to compare his heavy hydrogen results to what might happen with light hydrogen" he had to use data from someone else's experiment on light hydrogen, which was done on different apparatus. When asked why, he said it was because he couldn't get time on the program (because there's so little time and it's such expensive apparatus) to do the experiment with light hydrogen on this apparatus because there wouldn't be any new result. And so the men in charge of programs
at NAL are so anxious for new results, in order to get more money to keep the thing going for public relations purposes, they are destroying--possibly--the value of the experiments themselves, which is the whole purpose of the thing. It is often hard for the experimenters there to complete their work as their scientific integrity demands.
All experiments in psychology are not of this type, however. For example, there have been many experiments running rats through all kinds of mazes, and so on--with little clear result. But in 1937 a man named Young did a very interesting one. He had a long corridor with doors all along one side where the rats came in, and doors along the other side where the food was. He wanted to see if he could train the rats to go in at the third door down from wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the door where the food had been the time before.
The question was, how did the rats know, because the corridor was so beautifully built and so uniform, that this was the same door as before? Obviously there was something about the door that was different from the other doors. So he painted the doors very carefully, arranging the textures on the faces of the doors exactly the same. Still the rats could tell. Then he thought maybe the rats were smelling the food, so he used chemicals to change the smell
after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized the rats might be able to tell by seeing the lights and the arrangement in the laboratory like any commonsense person. So he covered the corridor, and still the rats could tell.
He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded when they ran over it. And he could only fix that by putting his corridor in sand. So he covered one after another of all possible clues and finally was able to fool the rats so that they had to learn to go in the third door. If he relaxed any of his conditions, the rats could tell.
Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is an A-number-one experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat-running experiments sensible, because it uncovers the clues that the rat is really using--not what you think it's using. And that is the experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with rat-running.
I looked into the subsequent history of this research. The next experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young. They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on sand, or being very careful. They just went right on running rats in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn't discover anything about the rats. In fact, he discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not paying attention to experiments like that is a characteristic of cargo cult science.
Another example is the ESP experiments of Mr. Rhine, and other people. As various people have made criticisms--and they themselves have made criticisms of their own experiments--they improve the techniques so that the effects are smaller, and smaller, and smaller until they gradually disappear. All the parapsychologists are looking for some experiment that can be repeated--that you can do again and get the same effect--statistically, even. They run a
million rats no, it's people this time they do a lot of things and get a certain statistical effect. Next time they try it they don't get it any more. And now you find a man saying that it is an
irrelevant demand to expect a repeatable experiment. This is science?
This man also speaks about a new institution, in a talk in which he was resigning as Director of the Institute of Parapsychology. And, in telling people what to do next, he says that one of the things they have to do is be sure they only train students who have shown their ability to get PSI results to an acceptable extent-- not to waste their time on those ambitious and interested students who get only chance results. It is very dangerous to have such a
policy in teaching--to teach students only how to get certain results, rather than how to do an experiment with scientific integrity.
So I have just one wish for you--the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.