Friday, March 31, 2006

Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good:
I want to commend Canada on cutting off aid to the new terrorist government Hamas in the so-called Palistinian territories.

The Bad:
And I want to chastise Canada for having only one paper that printed the Mohammed cartoons, The Western Standard.

If Canada is willing to take a principled stand against an evil like Hamas terrorism, why not for a good like free speech?

The Good:
"Want to be happy? Get Married"
"According to survey, 60 percent are in wedded bliss; having kids,going to church also factors." So said the title and subtitle of a report in today's Detroit News.

The Bad:
If you get or need heart surgury, tell people not to pray for you. According to another report in the Detroit News titled "Prayers' benefits still unmeasured." With the subtitle "Study shows no help for heart surgury patients after strangers ask God to aid the ill in their recovery." In fact prayer was "associated with poorer outcomes." Further down the report says:

"But for some faithful who regularly pray for people they don't necessarily know, there is no scientific inquirey that can prove their efforts fruitless."

Well, true. You can't prove a negative.

The Ugly:
Andrew Dalton at Witch Doctor Repellant informs us that our super spy hero James Bond will henceforth be more "fallible and human." Eeeeeeeuuuuuuk!! (I like Andrew's title though)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ethanol

Today's print edition of the Detroit News carried an op-ed by University of Michigan professor of economics Mark J. Perry that I was glad to see. It is titled "Subsidizing ethanol guzzles consumers' gas and money."

Mr. Perry correctly points out: "...it takes 29 percent more fossil fuel energy to make ethanol from corn than the fuel produced, according to a recent study at Cornell University and the University of California-Berkeley."

The American people need to know that ethanol is not an energy saving fuel and whatever polution that doesn't get into the air by using ethanol will get there anyway, and then some, in the production of it.

Of course the moral arguement is the government has no right trying to tell the oil companies how to run their businesses. The proper function of government is to protect peoples' rights including property rights.

If the oil companies were left alone, they would be able to produce an abundance of oil at reasonable prices. Chances are good I think, we would not be dependent on Saudi oil to the extent we are.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More Junk Science

It's becomming more and more obvious that our government and our news media and most university intellectuals are determined to snowball the American people into a socialist state. The goal has been renamed from socialism and is now called "sustainable development." The political tool that will be used to get us there is global warming (GW).

Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com has an article on how Senator Pete Domenici is stacking panelists to testify before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Evidently, most of the 29 panelists are of the anti-capitalist, anti-free market mindset so of course they are all gung-ho for the global warming is all man's fault mantra.

Next week when the testimony is over, the media will no doubt report there is a "consensus" that GW is all mans' fault and is a crises. An uninformed and not to be informed public will reluctantly agree to give up more of their money and freedoms to "save the planet."

On Friday Mar.24th. the Detroit Free Press ran a news article from the Cox News Service titled "Arctic sea levels could surge with warming." In it scientists Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona, said that sea level rising "'...will become irreversible sometime in the second half of the 21st Century unsless something is done to reduce human emmisions of greenhouse gas emmissions'..."

In my casual study of earth's climate history I have yet to find any climate event that is "irreversible." The earth has gone from a near snowball-almost covered in ice-to completely ice free, even at the poles. Nothing is irreversible in the climate although the sun will someday burn out and that is irreversible.

To say that sea level rise will become irreversible is to say that we will not have another glaciation. Since we are in the middle of a Glacial Epoch--a period where ice grows from the poles towards the equator, then recedes back again, such a statement is utterly rediculous. In my judgement, Mr. Overpeck is a junk scientist whose opinion has no credibility.

The article also says things like "And if it {warming} continues, by 2100, the Arctic will be at least as warm as it was nearly 130,000 years ago."
What evidence does he have to support the idea that it will continue? None. Just his own speculation. There is reason to believe it won't. The earth's climate history, which is one of to and fro: sea levels rise then fall, the planet warms then cools, there are floods then drought, high periods of hurricane activity then low, back and forth like a pendulum. At the very most, man might, maybe, possibly be able to extend the inter-glacial we are in now by a hundred or so years but only by increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is a big maybe.

The reason it's not likely to happen is that a Glacial Epoch is heavily weighted in favor of glaciations. Glaciations last a long time, usually 100,000 years. Inter-glacials are very short, about 15 to 20,000 years. We are in one now and man's 1/3 of one percent contribution to greenhouse gasses just isn't significant enough to stop the forces of nature. For a good snap shot of earth's climate go to Paleoclimatology.

World Climate Report also has an analysis of Mr. Overpeck's report here.

So we see politicians like Sen Domenici stacking his witness panels with pro-warming people and scientists like Overpeck trying to scare the public into being true believers. When you see tactics like these used by scientists and politicians, you can be sure the science behind it is suspect. If it were real, the facts could be presented to the people openly. There would be no need for deceit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Relativism

Gus Van Horn has opined on the disagreement between Jack Wakeland and Nicholas Provenzo over Bush's handling of the war on terrorism here.
I think Gus was very reasonable in his comments, but that is not why I write now. Gus said something with which I totally agree and on which I want to expand.
Gus said:

"But on a more important front -- the domestic front -- we are potentially far better off because Kerry and most of the Democratic party have strongly totalitarian impulses and, as I have blogged recently, want more than anything else to restrict our freedom of speech, which is the very means by which one's opinion of the war effort is registered."

"Totalitarian impulses" I agree with 100%. I have always believed that a liberal Democrat would be tough and forceful, very much so, against Americans but nobody else. He, or she, would see the American way of life as evil and the way of life of foreign nations, no matter the squalor, morally superior.

This would be due to moral relativism. Virtually all leftists and most liberals firmly believe in this morality. But what relativism does is reduce all moral values to the level of the approximate. If a value can be a moral value today but maybe not tomorrow, then why would a person risk his life to defend it? He wouldn't.

Philosopher Ayn Rand pointed out that: "When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil aquires the force of an absolute...." (Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged) When a relativist is confronted by an aggresive absolutist, he will cower before it. He has no choice. He will believe that because all moral values are relative, the values of his enemy might just be right, for now, and will be eager to negotiate away the ones he does hold.

In the 70s there were little relativists running around carrying signs which read "I'd rather be red than dead." On the suface that meant they would rather surrender to communism than defend capitalism. What it really meant is that these people held no values that they thought were worth fighting and dying for. That is why, when confronted with the absolutism of Communism, their impulse was to cower. And it just wasn't cowering out of fear. They were eager to cower, proud of the fact that they had nothing to be proud of.

Today these people dominate our schools, universities, media and government. They are being confronted by another absolutist enemy, Islam. And they are cowering. Notice how many intellectuals bend over backwards to accomodate Islamic customs but snarl vituperous hatred at Christian ones? If they hate religion so much, why are they cowering before Islam?

I think it has to do with the fact that all the Christian religions are percieved to be compatible with Capitalism-even though they're not-and since capitalism is the enemy, then Christianity is the enemy too. Whereas Islam clearly wants to destroy capitalism so it will be viewed approvingly.

Those with this mindset will not hesitate to come down hard on an American citizenry that is viewed as greedy, selfish and destroying the planet and because of that, evil. Even now they are calling for the government to initiate "decisive and bold" action to save the planet. Of course such action means government force applied to the people.

So if a liberal Dem wins in 08, it would be in our interest to give him (or her) a Rep congress. That won't stop a socialist state from happening but it will slow it down, maybe.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Socailized Medicine, France too Dangerous and Russia helped Iraq

Marko Kloos at The Munchkin Wrangler has a good post on the disaster that is socialized medicine. (Hat tip The Smallest Minority) Even the comments section is interesting.

I've always believed that if you wanted to see proof that altruism does not mean benevolence to mankind, one needs only to look at socialized medicine. That people suffer while on waiting lists, that doctors and nurses become scarce, that the cost of running a giant health-care bureaucracy pushes health prices through the roof, means that the people running the show just don't care about their results.

Sure there are doctors and nurses who do care about quality health care. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the people who run the bureaucracy and who don't care about the deteriorating level of health care as long as they get to go through the motions of pretending to help others. That is what altruism requires; that one go through the motions of helping others. Actually providing for a more efficient system that helps patients promptly is not required. Capitalism recognizes peoples' rights. Socialism does not.

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Atlas Shrugs has a post on an exclusive story by The Sun about the British warning their citizens not to go to France.

With the flaming Fiats a few months ago and now the panic in Paris, I would say Jacques Chirac has lost control of his country. But is anybody calling for his impeachment? If not, allow me to be the first.

Dear Mr. Chirac:

You have failed your nation and your people and now the only proper thing to do is step down and let a new leader take over. Your mistake was in trying to protect peoples' feelings instead of their rights. Step down Sir, for France.

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Expose the Left has a long post on Russia's helping out Iraq during and before the invasion and Iraq and al-Qeada connections which are now being discovered via recently translated documents from Iraq. (You will have to scroll down)

Russian involvement in Iraq seems to fit with a Front Page Magazine interview of March 1st 2004 By Jamie Glazov. Mr Glazov interviewed Ion Mihai Pacepa, former acting chief of Communist Romania's espionage service. According to Pacepa: "That was exactly what my old Soviet-style 'Sarindar' plan stated he should do in case of emergency: destroy the weapons, hide the equipment, and preserve the documentation."

He also says that he was in charge of Libya while "Moscow kept Iraq." The interview can be found here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mike's Pulitzers?

On Friday March 17th in my post "This 'ain't so' Either" on the subject of the so-called "public's right to know" I wrote: " The 'public's right to know' is a quaint idea and probably invented by journalists. It is also a false one."

In today's (March 23rd) Detroit Free Press is an op-ed which supports my post co-authored by Maurice Kelman, a retired constitutional law professor, and Berl Falbaum, a former political reporter who teaches journalism part-time. They start:

"Whenever the media demand answers to their questions, they invariably invoke the 'public's right to know.'
Much was made of this 'right' during Sunshine Week last week, as various media, including the Detroit Free Press, celebrated the Freedom of Information Act and decried most government secrecy.
The slogan, 'the public's right to know'--and it's only a slogan--is generally credited to Kent Cooper, an executive editor at the Associated Press, who used it in a 1934 editorial."

....

"The 'public's right to know' is now bandied about as if it is some sacrosanct constitutional entitlement embedded in the First Ammendment guarantee of a free press. It is not."

I commend the Free Press for printing that op-ed. Because,

I have decided to do my own version of the Pulitzer Prize awards just before the big day ala the Oscars by Ebert and Roper. I hearby nominate the above mentioned gentlemen for the "Cutting Through the Fog" catagory. Yes, I make up my own catagories.

I have already nominated reporter Lindsey Tanner for the "Proficiency in Statistics" catagory which puts him above 98% of the reporters out there. I also have Becky Wagoner nominated for the "Integrity in Journalism" catagory.

Obviously this will be a modest ceremony but journalists who are doing it right need recognition. I also have a Full-of-itzer Prize which might go to Paul Krugman.

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Sometime Monday night my blog went over 1000 visits since December 15th 05. While I'm happy with that, my goal is to keep improving as a blogger/writer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Denial of Reality and Rights

Bruno at The Simplest Thing discovers the anti-mind, anti-reality nature of one of his teachers. Here is just one of his professor's quotes:

"One thing can be one thing and another thing at the same time."

Sounds like your average American philosophy professor to me.
What law of identity?

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Gates of Vienna has an essay on Mr. Rahman who may be executed in Afganistan for leaving Islam for Christianity. Money quote:

"What Afghanistan is proposing to do is completely legal, under a constitution that we helped to install, under a government that was duly elected in a free and fair ballot."

That is why our founders wanted nothing to do with "democracy." It is nothing more than unlimited majority rule. Even protections for minorities are eventually done away with usually under some form of "How come the minority gets to dictate to the majority? I thought democracy meant majority rule?"

That Mr. Bush doesn't seem to understand the difference between democracy and a constitutional republic based of individual rights is scary.

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Nicholas Provenzo previews a letter going out to newspapers 3/23/06 at the Rule of Reason about the Imclone disaster. If there ever was a good reason to get rid of the FDA, this was it. A perfect example of hatred of the good for being the good.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Complexity Made Simple?

In my readings of various scientific websites and newspaper reports on the subject of climate change, I got the impression there's a lack of understanding as to how complex the earth's climate really is. Almost all scientists agree that the earth's climate is very complex. There isn't much agreement as to how complex because they are still learning new things about it every day.

For my own purposes I have created a mental image of climate complexity. I use it as a frame of reference when reading articles on climate change. I offer it here in the hopes that it may be useful to some readers. This is of course for the extremely lay layperson like me. So if you are a scientist of any kind, you might want to stop reading here. I don't want you to have any nightmares tonight. Nor do I care to have you wave a copy of this post as proof that public understanding of science is in the toilet. I know that. It was before I started writing. This post is my modest attempt to alleviate that.

I envision a vast field of pendulums all swinging back and forth. Some are very large and some quite small with the majority in between. These pendulums are what the scientists call climate forcings. Climate forcings are what cause weather. The diference in size represents the relative importance of each one on the earth's climate. I don't know what size they should be because science doesn't know either.

The Sun is a forcing, as is the rotation of the earth, as are trade winds and ocean currents and gasses and clouds and cosmic rays and on and on. So each one of these has its own pendulum. Some forcings can have several pendulums. For example, scientists say that our sun has cycles of 100,000, 41,000, 21,000, 22 and 11 years. In my imagiary field each cycle would get its own pendulum.

Each pendulum is swinging at a different rate of speed. It is this speed that represents a forcing's energy. So, if the sun's activity increases, more energy will reach the earth and the pendulum representing that forcing will speed up in our field.

Each pendulum is connected to other pendulums with cables through which the forcing's energy flows. So we see lots of pendulums affecting others which in turn affect still others and all in varying intensities and time scales.

Now just a few words about scientific terminology. If you hear a scientist talking about a cycle, he is referring to the pendulum as it swings from one end of its arc to the other and back agan. The hurricane cycle for example is thought to be about 20 to 30 years where hurricane activity increases for about 2 to 3 decades then slacks off for about the same length of time. Thus our pendulum for hurricanes would have completed one cycle. I have seen some scientists refer to a cycle as an oscillation.

When a pendulum stops at one end of its arc, it doesn't always stop at the same point. Sometimes it falls short or exceeds previous stopping points. Scientists plot these differences and give the pendulum a range in which it normally swings. They call this range "natural variability." So when they say an event falls within natural variability, they just mean it's normal.

Sometimes the pendulum will exceed or shorten its swing by a significant amount. They call that an anomoly and they would like to know what causes them. There is really a lot they don't know about our climate. But they are learning. I know I've left out some things like positive and negative feedback but those things aren't required for a mental image of climate complexity for the layman.

So when next you hear some scientist say he knows what the climate could be like in 50 or 100 years, just remember you "could" win the lottery next week too. Both "coulds" have about the same import.

I hope this image of the complexity of the climate has helped someone. (If not well maybe you've had a good laugh.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Not a Bad Weekend--Plus

Sunday the 19th of March was another good day. My 7 month old granddaughter (my only grandchild so far) cut her first tooth. Is it ever tiny! Mike's Eyes can barely see it!

Many years ago my oldest son answered an ad "Wanted, estimator. Will train." He was hired by the owner of a one man commercial construction company who only had himself and a girl friday. He learned estimating then project managing. Today the company is a little bigger and this weekend the owner offered my son a partnership. This should put him over the hump financially. Needless to say, dad is very proud.

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Diana Hsieh at Noodle Food has a good post on charity and generosity as viewed by objectivists and altruists. When I tell people I believe in rational self-interest, they always wonder how I can be a nice person too.

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Jennifer Snow at Literatrix has a good essay against smoking bans here. Banning smoking is just a pretext for starting the use of force against your fellow man,

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Democracy Slipping into Theocracy?

The folly of forming a foreign policy around the notion that democratic elections will result in freedom is becoming obvious. In Afganistan, a man who converted from Islam to Christianity may be sentenced to death. This is the penalty proscribed for leaving Islam by Sharia Law.

In Iraq, Ayatollah al-Sistani has declared that all homosexuals must be put to death.
According to him the Koran calls for the death penalty.

Cuanas has a post on both stories here.

While elections are necessary to form a representative government, they are not the essence of freedom. Rights and a seperation of powers and other things are even more important. Otherwise the people will only elect their next dictator who will promptly suspend the constitution and then your're right back to square one with another dictatorship.

I think Bush's refusal to demand these two nations install a rights based society results from a lack of moral clarity about the rightness of such a society. Because his religion compells him to believe that need trumps rights, he is reluctent to "impose" a rights based society on them in the belief that they should be free to vote on how to address needs.

He also seems to be unaware that our founders wanted nothing to do with "democracy." They wanted a constitutional republic that recognized mans' rights and that is what they achieved. It is this unawareness that causes him to push "democratic elections" as if it will bring the same freedom and prosperity we have. It won't. At least not until Islam is brought into the 21st century and judging by the two stories above, that won't be happening anytime soon.

So, what should Bush do? Iraq will never be stable unless the endless flow of terrorists from Syria and Iran is stopped. Tehran and Damascus need to be bombed followed by the announcement that the survivors will set up a free society and "don't make us come in and do it for you." There doesn't need to be any American boots on the ground.

Then Bush needs to announce the form that his new "forward strategy of freedom" will take. This form has to be specific foreigh policies that will reward moves to freedom and punish moves towards dictatorship. Nothing less will do. Otherwise democracy will just deteriorate into theocratic dictatorship.

Friday, March 17, 2006

This 'ain't so' either.

Today's Detroit Free Press had a guest editorial by Philip Meyer, Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of USA Today's board of contributers and reprinted from USA Today titled "When the truth just 'ain't so.'"

"This is Sunshine Week, a worthy effort by journalists to generate public support for removing barriers to government information. But government secrecy is not the only obstacle to the public's right to know. There is also what I like to call the Will Rogers problem."

There can be no such thing as the "public's right to know." The concept "rights" pertains to action, the freedom to pursue knowledge and aquire it if it is available. There is no such thing as a right to a thing before you own it. To believe in the right to know means that someone must be forced to provide the public with knowledge. It would mean newspapers are free. Same with TV and radio time. Journalists like Mr. Meyer would have to be forced to provide me with the knowledge I seek.

In a free and civilized society, people buy knowledge. We buy newspapers. We watch commercials on TV and listen to them on radio. We have the right to trade for knowledge but not to the knowledge itself without trade. As for government secrets, there are objective reasons governments keep somethings secret and our courts have upheld these reasons before and will do so in the future. Evidently, Mr. Meyers thinks all government knowledge must be open to the public. This is an irrational position. The "public's right to know" is a quaint idea probably invented by journalists. It is also a false one.

He then quotes Will Rogers: "It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble. It's what we know that ain't so." So now it's not just the "public's right to know," it's the "public's right to know" correct or true knowledge. However:

"The informations age has exacerbated the Will Rogers problem. Truth and falsehood are equally easy to disseminate. English poet John Milton, writing in the 17th century, assured us truth would always win in a fair and free encounter--true as long as the public paid attention." So now the problem is so much information the public isn't paying attention to it. He doesn't give any supporting evidence for this notion except for more assertions:

"But the astounding surplus of information today is making attention a scarce good. Herbert Simon, a Nobel laureate in economics, saw the problem as far back as 1969. Information, he said, consumes the attention of those who recieve it. Therefore, "a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." That sounds like a good arguement for less class time, less homework, less study time and less lecture time. Think universities will go along with that?

"Thomas Davenport and John Beck, in their 2001 book, "The Attention Economy," credit television as "the most successful attention-getting technology in human history." It does it,they say, by using brief narratives, careful timing and understandable characters." Ok. If TV is the "most successful attention-getting" technology in history, then why do we have "attention poverty"?

"These are, of course, the techniques of fiction, and jounalists have tried to adapt them to the harder task of truth-telling." Boy, you sure can say that again! (I'm amazed he admitted that much) "Making the truth compelling is important, but liars can use these tools, too." But why does truth have to be compelling? Why can't truth stand on its own merits? He is admitting that journalists should appeal to the public's feelings. Truth just isn't enough in the middle of "attention poverty."

"When the second Iraq war was launched three years ago, a majority of Americans believed something that wasn't so: that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He wasn't. Nor was Iraq found to have weapons of mass destruction, which was the Bush administration's main justification for the war."

The idea that Americans thought Saddam was personally involved in 9/11 is a flat out falsehood. Mr. Meyer is now the willing purveyor of that which just "ain't so."

"Traditional journalism has poor defenses against lying by government or other powerful institutions." I'm afraid that everyone has poor defenses against being lied to. This is not some malady unique to journalism that can now be used to turn the media into the league of "extraordinary journalists." But that is exactly what Mr. Meyer seemingly wants:

"Its (journalism's) code of giving "both sides" and leaving it to the reader to choose caused a long delay in the public's acceptance of the 1964 surgeon general's report on smoking and health." So because the public took a long time to accept the SG's dogmatic report, there is something wrong with the public? It will probably never occur to Mr. Meyer that the people were slow to accept the report because they knew they were being lied to. Of course Democrats were in charge in '64 and it's impossible for them to lie to the people. Where was Mr. Meyer's concern about a lying government back then?

"To help the public sort things out requires greater journalistic skill than just telling both sides. The reporter has to understand the issues to help the readers choose." I am reminded of my post titled "Imagine That" (January archives) where Bush did not want the pizza delivery guy to stand on his front porch and give him an in-depth analysis on the nature if pepperoni and how to digest it. But that is exactly what Mr. Meyer wants his pizza delivery guys (journalists) to do.

There are a lot of things wrong with that op-ed not the least of which is the obvious condesending attitude that the people are too stupid to think for themselves. That professors of journalism know better just "ain't so."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Feingold's Five Feints

Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold, by calling for Bush's censure, is giving Wisconson voters real good reasons to find someone else to vote for when Mr. Feingold comes up for re-election. He is a hate filled little man who is letting his hatred of Bush blind him to the fact that he is destroying the office of the president. He just doesn't care about the office of the president. That's feint one.

Feint two is the fact that, with Republican Senator John McCain, he has done more damage to the First Amendment's free speech protections than any left-wing communist whacko could ever hope to do. He just doesn't care about the First Ammendment.

Feint three is the increasingly obvious fact that Feingold wants to be president and is using his own office as a tool to get lots of free publicity. He doesn't even care about the integrity of his own office.

Feint four is the fact that he is attacking Bush the man and not Bush's ideas. He does so because he (Feingold) doesn't have any ideas, only a lust for power. He just doesn't care about ideas.

Feint five is the fact that Feingold obviously does not want Bush eavesdropping on terrorists who live here in America. He just doesn't care about America's security.

So, he doesn't care about the office of the president, his own office, the First Ammendment, ideas or America's security. Get rid of him Wisconsin voters!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Maureen's Mixed Musings

In the Tuesday Mar. 14th print edition of the Detroit Free Press is an op-ed by Maureen Dowd of the New York Tmes titled "Mixed messages on US security."

Although it is a typical Bush bashing article, I agree with her on a few points. First, the bashing:

"Homeland Security's protection of the ports is a joke. The goof-off Michael Chertoff is remarkably still in charge."

I'll give her a slight pass on the joke comment but I guess Chertoff is a "goof-off" because why? No answer. She continues:

"The swaggering of the president and vice president on national security has been exposed as a sham, with millions spent shoring up our defenses wasted, with the Iraq war aggravating our danger, and with anti-Muslim feeling swelling among Americans and anti-American feeling swelling among Muslims."

Well, since we haven't had another attack since 9/11 I would not say "millions spent shoring up our defenses" was "wasted." Notice how Ms. Dowd frames everthing in the context of the emotional. It's not Bush and Cheney's policies that are wrong, it's their "swaggering." And the swelling of anti-Muslim and anti-American "feelings" has nothing to do with cultural or ideological differences but are caused, again, by "swaggering." She then points to a poll showing that "A majority (of Americans) now think Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence." A little later she claims:

"Bush does not seem to understand that it was his bumbling, rather than our bigotry, that led Americans to gulp and yelp at the idea of an Arab government running our ports. When the president said Friday that 'My administration was satisfied that port security would not have been undermined by the agreement,' he seemed oblivious to the fact that--after WMD, Katrina and Iraq--many Americans no longer trust this administration to protect them."

No Maureen, it wasn't Bush's bumbling that caused Americans to "gulp" and "yelp" over Arabs running our ports. It was 3000 American bodies on 9/11 and the more recent image of Muslims rioting and burning buildings and killing people over cartoons that is causing all the "gulping." The fact that Islam has an image problem is not Bush's fault.

She does show signs of trying to get it right when she says:

"There is nothing wrong with wanting Americans to be responsible for American security. That's not nativism or jingoism or bigotry. It's self reliance and prudence." True, but then she adds:
"Of course, such an attitude can be exploited by bigots, and some bigotry is being fed by scenes on the news every day of Arab fighters blowing things up, leading to the same stereotype of Arabs that existed in the '70s, a caricature limned from terrorism, oil and the petrodollar."

So it's the television news that's guilty of "feeding bigotry" by showing "scenes on the news every day of Arab fighters blowing things up?" But the print media for whom she works is guiltless? Her own New York Times doesn't harp on every death in Iraq as proof of Arab inability to become civilized thus proving the futility of the Iraq war? And the image of Arabs as blowers up is just a stereotype?

While I disagree with her so far I have to agree with this:

"Since Sept.11th, he (Bush) has been anti-terror but pro-Muslim, a position that has left Americans confused. His enemy is a tactic that's too vague to pinpoint, too vast to ever defeat." I have to admit, on this point she nails it. Terrorism is a tactic and not our real enemy and his cozyness with Saudi Arabia, a sponsor of terrorism, is causing some Americans to distrust him.

But then Ms. Dowd ends her op-ed with a quote by Michael Hirsh of Newsweek:

"How then did we arrive at this day, with anti-American Islamist governments rising in the Mideast, Osama bin Laden sneering at us, Al Qaeda lieutenants escaping from prison, Iran brazenly enriching uranium, and America as hated and mistrusted as it ever has been? The answer, in a word, is incompetence."

Yep. All these things would go away if Bush weren't so incompetent.
But "incompetent" at what? Making our enemies like us so they won't destroy us? Or failing to destroy them first so they won't destroy us? I think it's obvious where Ms. Dowd stands. Nowhere does she advocate the destruction of the states that sponsor terrorism.

Had Bush carpet bombed Tehran and Damascus when he was taking out Saddam there wouldn't be near the insurgency there is now. And if Saudi Arabia threatened to blow up their oil wells, we could ask if they need any help with that. Ms. Dowd is good at telling us what she's against. I would like to know what she's for.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jay Bennish the Stimulator?

In the Sunday Mar.12 Metro section of the Detroit News is an article by News writer Joe Menard titled "Will Bush flap influence teachers?" It's about the Jay Bennish incident in Colorado and is newsworthy because Mr. Bennish is from Beverly Hills Michigan. It starts:

"Jay Bennish's return to the classroom Monday ends his weeks-long saga over comments he made comparing President Bush to Adolf Hilter, but some educators say the controversy may have a lasting effect on teachers who like to push the envelope to stimulate their students."

I read a transcript of Mr. Bennish's lecture and the only thing it seems being stimulated is their emotions not their thought processes.

The third paragraph begins with:
"Some educators fear the incident could lead to other students complaining about outspoken teachers."
So giving a political lecture in a geography class is not being innappropriate but rather is being "outspoken." In other words a chemistry teacher can give a lecture on what makes a good teacher by comparing Mr. Bennish to say Joseph Goebbels and the school would be ok with that because he's just being "outspoken."

The paragraph continues; "They also believe it may discourage teachers from challenging their students with alternative viewpoints on controversial issues to teach them to think for themselves."

So Mr. Bennish's notion that Bush is like Hitler is a viewpoint that is an alternative to what? The view points of other teachers who don't think Bush is like Hitler? The viewpoint of students who may think that comparing Bush to Hitler is just a little extreme but really isn't therefore they're not thinking for themselves?

Notice the inversion here. It is implied that the students' perception that the Bush=Hitler comparison is unfair or irrational, is an established view while the teacher is only presenting an alternative viewpoint thus stimulating them to think for themselves. The above linguistics project an image of dogmatic student ideas being challenged by dissenting and "stimulating" teachers.

The next paragraph supports this inversion:

"'It's scary. If that mentality (discourage teachers from challenging their students with alternative viewpoints) seeps into our schools, we're doomed,' said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
'We're destined to squelch the debate that makes us a strong society.'"

So, when a student like Sean Allen challenges an obvious political rant he is "squelching the debate." When a teacher spits in America's face he is making us "a strong society."

Evidently Mr. Bennish was given a talking to:

"He (Superintendent Monte Moses) did say that Bennish's 'practice and deportment need growth and refinement' and that officials had made recommendations for Bennish in the report." If that isn't sugar coating.... Instead of calling Bush Hitler, can't Bennish use Moses's line and just say that Bush's "practice and comportment need growth and refinement?" Somehow it just doesn't deliver the same emotional message now does it? The proper level of hatred just isn't there.

As for teaching students to think for themselves; when a teacher admits that he cannot tell the difference between the iniatory use of force as used by Hitler to agressively kill millions, and the retaliatory use of force as used by Bush to respond to 9/11, he reveals a total inability to think for himself and cannot possibly pass along to his students a skill he does not possess.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Few Good Posts

George Mason at Sixth Column has a good review of Andrew Bernstein's The Capitalist Manifesto. I recommend it especially if you're a procrastinator like me--I've been meaning to get a copy but... well this review pushed me over the edge. I'll be getting one tomorrow. Also, scroll down because he has a few other good posts I enjoyed reading as well.

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Always on Watch has a beautiful poem "A Soldier's Farewell" here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

This and That March

Gus Van Horn has an excellent analysis of an environmental propaganda article here. It's about how the greens' newfound toleration of nuclear power is just a ploy. Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com even linked to it.

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I wasn't going to post on the Dubai Ports World event but since it's become such a hot button issue here are my ponderings:

against DPW: The UAE is a union of Muslim nations. Muslims believe in the Koran. The Koran calls for the death or dhimmitude of all non-Muslims including using the technique of gaining the confidence and trust of the infidels. Unlike other religous bibles, the violent aspects of the Koran's teachings have never been reputiated or reformed. The bottom line--they can't be trusted.

for DPW: It has been said that UAE Muslims are peace loving Muslims who want to bring Islam into the 21st century. Are they? Where is the evidence to support this idea? Should we give them a chance to prove it?
I wonder if there were to be an Imam or Ayatollah step forward with proposals to reform Islam's more violent features, would the UAE be eager to get behind him? Did our congress's action make it less likely Islam will ever be reformed? Or would such an Imam wind up dead after two or three days?

It is true that they have helped in the war on terror. But how much? Enough to make the terrorists mad at them? I don't think so because I heard that the UAE has never been the victim of a terrorist attack. Why? Wahabist Saudi Arabia has. Could it be that UAE controls most of the terrorist money? I don't know.

I do know that respect and trust are values and like all values they must be earned.
Why doesn't the UAE give birth to a reforming Ayatollah? That would certainly earn some respect. Or is that just too damn dangerous?

Americans just witnessed Muslims all over the world rioting and killing over cartoons and before that flaming Fiats in France by Muslim "youths." And before that 911. If American's reaction is "What? You want us to trust them?" can anyone blame them? If Dubai isn't getting what it wants because Islam has an image problem, then they need to understand that the image problem exists because of a substance problem, killings. It is a problem that only Muslims can fix. They need to get started on the fixing problem now.

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Relative to the above, I have to laugh at the newfound concern for national security by Sen. Schumer and crowd. According to them it's a crime to profile at airports but not regarding seaports.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lung Cancer Mysteries

In the Mar. 8th print edition, Detroit Free Press medical writer Patricia Anstett has a news report titled "Death puts baffling disease in spotlight." Of course she is referring to the death of Dana Reeves from lung cancer when she had never smoked.

Ms. Anstett says that lung cancer is "filled with mysteries" and correctly points out that:
"Some lifelong smokers never get lung cancer, though they may die of some related lung or heart problems. Yet others who never smoked or lived with a smoker, develop lung cancer." This is true of course and something I think most people know, but Ms. Anstett says science considers it baffling.

But this could only be considered baffling by those who have accepted the politically correct notion that smoking flat out causes lung cancer. This kind of dogmatism happens when medical science becomes an establishment. It would be far more honest of medical scientists to say that smoking can "contribute" to lung cancer. That I would agree with.

But to declare that smoking has been proven to be the definite cause of lung cancer is for scientists to fail to be honest with the public and with themselves because it refuses to explain why millions of people smoke and dont get lung cancer. There is a reason, perhaps several, why they don't get lung cancer and these reasons need to be discovered. There could be scientific discoveries waiting to happen which won't because the establishment has already decided it knows the cause, smoking.

Ms. Anstett is doing the public a service by pointing out the fact that smoking doesn't always cause lung cancer. This fact needs to get out loud and clear. Not because it's a good idea to resume smoking again but because it is obvious we need to start looking somewhere other than tobacco.

She correctly points to other possible causes:
"Other lung cancer cases are likely due to household, work-place and environmental esposure to carcinogens such as asbestos and air pollution, as well as radon, a redioactive material in the ground that comes from uranium.
Sometimes, there are no good answers at all." True. These could be causes. The key word here is "could" not are. She even suggests another cause when she tells of one of her anecdotes being tested for genetic mutations.

But reading the article I get the impression that the establishment is focusing most of its attention on man made causes and very little, with the exception of radon, on non-man made ones. What about sunlight? Cosmic rays from space? Pollen? Just to name a few.

Also, absent from the report is any mention of age. It is known that diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer are found mostly in the older age brackets. In 1900 the life expectancy of the average American was 48. People weren't living long enough to get these diseases. From an evolutionary viewpoint, our bodies didn't evolve defense mechanisms against them. We didn't need them. Maybe all we need to cure these maladies is more time.

Overall I think the report was well written. It had lots of references to back up most of her points. But, there is something preventing some smokers from getting lung cancer and it would be great if we could find out what that is. I think science needs to look at more natural causes. Quitting smoking isn't turning out to be the cureall many thought it would be. Science needs to look elsewhere.
The news report is here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Extremism

In today's print edition, Detroit News op-ed columnist Laura Berman takes a cynical tack on David Horowitz's new book The Professors. Her column titled "Author skewers U-M professors as 'marketing tool'" begins:

"They are being touted, in a new book, as the 101 most dangerous professors in America.
Oooh, scary.
When it comes to the world of ideas, "dangerous" is a relative business. Even a sound idea can be used to justify evildoing.
Because the book (The Professors," Regenery) is written by recovering leftist David Horowitz - whose swing from far left to far right bespeaks of a talent for extremism - a couple of his targets are employed by a state university located in East Lansing.

Just kidding.

They actually work in Ann Arbor." (U-M)

Now I'm not here defending Mr. Horowitz. I take exception to Ms. Berman's swipe at the concept extremism. so I wrote a short LTE to the News as follows:

*In her column "Author skewers U-M professors as 'marketing tool'" of Mar. 7th, Laura Berman takes a swipe at author David Horowitz's extremism by declaring "...whose swing from far left to far right bespeaks a talent for extremism..."

So? I don't agree with some of Mr. Horowitz's ideas but being extreme is a quality I respect. It means he's being consistent.

Typical of today's intellectuals, Ms. Berman fails to understand that the concept "extremism" has no value outside the context of that about which one is being extreme. According to her logic, an extreme genius like Edison and an extreme butcher like Mao and an extreme benefactor like Pasteur and an extreme menace like Stalin are all equally to be avoided because they are all extreme.

I wonder if Ms. Berman's neighborhood is extremely peaceful. If so then her values require her to invite a moderate amount of crime in.*

I don't know if the News will print it but this idiotic notion that everything must always be in moderation no matter the cost needs to be challenged often.

The op-ed can be found here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Good Day

I am very honored to recieve mention on Saturday in the inaugural "Carnival of the Objectivists" by Nick Provenzo at Rule of Reason. Thanks Nick.

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Last night Mrs. Eyes and I went to see the movie "16 Blocks." Bruce Willis plays a washed up cop who gets a chance to redeem himself by taking Mos Def 16 blocks to the court house where he is supposed to testify against--yep, some corrupt cops who are determined to stop him from getting there. Yes, it's a run the gauntlet movie but a good one I think.

There's no America bashing in this movie, and there is the image of man the hero trying to make things right. For an action movie I liked it and recommend it.
Enjoy.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Grassroots Boycott

In today's TIA Daily (The Intellectual Activist Daily) Robert Tracinski calls for a grassroots blacklist of those Hollywood artists who lend their skills to movies that wrongly attack and inspire hatred of America.

He recommends the first targets of such a boycott be Billy Zane and Gary Busey for roles in an anti-American Turkish movie "Valley of the Wolves." He adds that George Clooney be next for another anti-American movie "Syriana" and for those involved in "Paradise Now."

Do these actors have the right to smear America? Absolutely. Do they have the right to do it with impunity? Absolutely not. Just as they have a right to condemn America, Americans have the right to condemn them. So, I hearby declare I will not spend a cent to see any movie which casts sirs Zane, Busey or Clooney.

(for info on how to subscribe to TIA Daily online or the monthly print edition, go here.There is a 30 day free trial offer)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

There They Go Again

There is one website I try to visit every week and that is John Brignell's Number Watch which is here. I especially liked his posts "Glasses" and "Trivial Pursuit" and Number of the Month for Feb. which is down at the bottom.

Evidently, the Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be raising the upper end of their predictions for global warming in their 2007 Assesment Report. A preview of the AR will be released in April and of course The Guardian just happened to get a copy of the draft of the preview of the AR.

The IPCC had originally predicted a future warming between 1.3 and 4.8 deg.C then that was raised to 2.0 to 11 and now it's 15 or higher. No doubt this early warning is so the media and politicos and NGOs of the world can get a head start on badgering their respective populations into sacrificing more of their money, rights and freedoms to the gods of the wilderness.