Fred Thompson was so clearly going to be a remarkable man that as a boy they said he was sure to be the next Fred Thompson.
Sphere: Related Content
This amount of arrogance, the sheer impardonable pretension, is bound to be popular.
There are two kinds of stem cells, adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells have proven to be very effective in treating certain ailments. Embryonic stem cells have proven to be very effective mostly at causing cancer. Adult cells taken from the umbilical cord bear resemblance to both kinds, but are really adult cells.
The characteristics that distinguish adult stem cells from embryonic stem cells is that adult stem cells are created by particular parts of the body and have the ability to (divide and) change only into the kinds of cells needed in those parts, while embryonic stem cells are able to change into cells for any part of the body.
All current successful stem cell therapies (actual cures and treatments of disease) are from adult stem cells.
Adult cells are obtainable from bone marrow and from umbilical cord blood.
Currently, embryonic stem cells can only be obtained in two ways: through growing them from an existing batch of embryonic stem cells, or by destroying a blastocyst, an embryo in the first week of pregnancy.
Researchers have found a way to create mouse embryonic cells from mouse adult skin cells. Mouse cells and human cells have different chemistry, however, and so they're still working on it. If it proves successful in humans, this technique could provide a ethics-clean source of embryonic cells. It could also serve as a cover for researchers who, hypothetically, obtain their cells from blastocysts, or on the gray market.
Some people think embryonic stem cell research would eventually lead to all kinds of cures and therapies. Other people counter that such funding would encourage people to have abortions, and they consider abortion to be manslaughter. Both of those positions are reasonable.
While the number of abortions in the US annually, on the order of a million, already dwarfs the need for embryonic stem cells, and the best time to harvest stem cells is in the first week of pregnancy, women with unwanted pregnancies (typically discovered at 2-6 weeks) would be offered and cling to the notion that their abortion would further science. While embryonic stem cells are present in older fetuses, a blastocyst is the preferred source.
And there is, in fact, a ready supply of blastocysts, coming from the practice of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), the making of "test-tube babies". Eggs are retrieved, fertilized, and begin to divide. The resulting blastocysts are inspected before being reimplanted. Those which fail inspection are considered "not viable", and are discarded. In some cases, there are more viable blastocysts than can be implanted. Those which appear viable but are not chosen to be implanted may be frozen, or discarded. It is this tiny number of blastocysts which could be used for research, if we allow them to be used for this purpose.
And if these are allowed to be used for research, it is a certainty that in every case of IVF, more eggs than are needed will be harvested, and as many as possible will be retained for research -- whether the parents know it or not.
There is a probability, however remote, that embryonic stem cell research could yield cures to many diseases. It could extend the life of those living. But the creation of every new line results with certainty in one human death. Until someone can show that the likelihood of curing enough disease and preventing enough sickness is greater than the likelihood of causing additional human death, I think the moratorium on Federal funding of harvesting new embryonic stem cells should stay in place.
Due to heavy time commitments, I'm taking a break from heavy political and philosophical blogging. I'll still post quick comments here, but no proper essays unless something really rips my toga.
I wish I had time to devote to the foolhardy decision by Columbia to allow Iran's head waiter Ahmadinejad to propagandize them. It's bad enough that having the U.N. on our soil forces us to entertain our enemies, but to give him a platform is just silly. It's a fine example of lunactivism, since it's the logical extension of the idea that people won't hate us if we just listen to them. They have to do it for consistency with their ideals, but they don't realize how it makes them look: complicit with his goals of destroying Israel and the US.
When full blogging resumes, look for comments in places such as IMAO, Redstate, The Minority Report, and the other blogs I troll.
Rest in Peace, 1LT Travis Manion
He could have done anything, but he proudly chose the warrior's path, and said that it would dishonor a man as a warrior not to continue the fight which felled him.
"The American people must know we too lost a close friend and brother this day," said Iraqi Army Col. Ali Jafar, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Iraqi Brigade, who previously spoke at Manion's memorial service. "May his family know we too lost family, and we share their loss, our loss."
Iraqi soldiers have since named a combat outpost after Manion.
The United States of America is a Christian nation.
By which I mean, most Americans are nominally Christian, and without a largely Judeo-Christian ethos it would be dysfunctional.
By which I vehemently do not mean that our government ought to take even the slightest notice of the religious views among the people. The government should be as blind to the particulars of our faith as it is to the color of our skin or the number of tattoos with which we adorn ourselves.
Many people look to Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists as marking a start to the notion of separation of church and state, but the sentiment started much earlier than that.
Roger Williams was a minister ordained by the Church of England, his views on individual conscience leading him to leave that country and head to America.
The Pilgrims in Plymouth, where Williams had landed in 1631, were of a more tolerant and independent mind than the Puritans of Salem, Boston, and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They had endured a decade of hardship during which they learned that them who would not work should not eat. Many of them (though not all) had left England or Holland with the purpose of worshiping, or not worshiping, in the manner and to the degree their individual consciences demanded. But as is often the case, a journey consists of small steps, and the Puritan church became indistinguishable from the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. To Williams, the idea that the government should punish purely religious transgressions was anathema. To the Puritans, he was a radical nutjob.
So Williams left Massachusetts in 1635 and bought (or bartered) land from the Indians. A few years later, he is credited with writing in the Rhode Island charter, [emphasis added, spelling original]:
[...] Now know bee, that wee beinge willinge to encourage the hopefull undertakeinge of oure sayd lovall and loveinge subjects, and to secure them in the free exercise and enjovment of all theire civill and religious rights, appertaining to them, as our loveing subjects; and to preserve unto them that libertye, in the true Christian ffaith and worshipp of God, which they have sought with soe much travaill, and with peaceable myndes, and lovall subjectione to our royall progenitors and ourselves, to enjoye; and because some of the people and inhabitants of the same colonie cannot, in theire private opinions, conforms to the publique exercise of religion, according to the litturgy, formes and ceremonyes of the Church of England, or take or subscribe the oaths and articles made and established in that behalfe; and for that the same, by reason of the remote distances of those places, will (as wee hope) bee noe breach of the unitie and unifformitie established in this nation: Have therefore thought ffit, and doe hereby publish, graunt, ordeyne and declare, That our royall will and pleasure is, that noe person within the sayd colonye, at any tyme hereafter, shall bee any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinione in matters of religion, and doe not actually disturb the civill peace of our sayd colony; but that all and everye person and persons may, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes hereafter, freelye and fullye have and enjoye his and theire owne judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of lance hereafter mentioned; they behaving themselves peaceablie and quietlie, and not useing this libertie to lycentiousnesse and profanenesse, nor to the civill injurye or outward disturbeance of others; any lawe, statute, or clause, therein contayned, or to bee contayned, usage or custome of this realme, to the contrary hereof, in any wise, notwithstanding.
Haven't we been over this?
A "think tank" called the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is due to release a report on Tuesday, September 18, with the counterintuitive conclusion that a paper trail does not add to the security of electronic voting systems. The briefing hould be hilarious.
Read more at Modern Sourcery.
Washington, DC (ONA) With Osama Bin Laden's latest video message leaked to the U.S. government, world media outlets pour over every word of translated text offered them by authorities. Conspicuously missing from this 'official release' is a three-minute intro, exclusively obtained by Official News Agency.
In the waning days of a presidency, talk inevitably turns toward "legacy", seeking by prediction to influence what the future will say of the Oval Office's occupant.
The picture is often painted of the lonely leader, sitting at the big desk, staring out the window at the manicured lawn and seeking to find his place in the pantheon. Implicitly, we are led to believe that his actions in his lamest hours will be in effort to guide history's view of him.
I hope that this is a false scenario. I hope that the President instead tries to do the right thing, not worrying how it will look to future historians any more than he should worry about how he looks to present day pundits.
I also trust that the present Bush Derangement Syndrome will subside, and a rosier view of George W. Bush will in time prevail. I have more than past precedent to guide me, for I know that Mr. Bush is not attempting to become a theocratic dictator as many BDS sufferers feverishly profess. Eventually, it will be clear even to the most unhinged lunactivist that the 2008 elections will go on as scheduled, that the National Guard will not stage a military coup to keep Bush and Cheney in power, and that really, no one was listening in on the silly liberals' calls to their Crystal Power Advisor. At that point, perhaps their irrational hatred of the man will subside.
Or maybe not.
I am also made mindful that we are now living in the past. If you don't believe me, just wait a bit, and you will see that I was right.
In what can only be described as lunactivism, the 88 faculty members at Duke University who signed a letter assigning guilt to the Lacrosse team have refused to retract it, or even to issue an apology for their excessive zeal. It's a wonderful example of idealistic fervor trumping good sense.
At The Minority Report blog, Daveinboca has a piece up about the Duke Lacrosse case. I don't call it the "Duke Rape Case", because the only people raped in that case were, figuratively speaking, the accused.
Why don't the Duke faculty need to apologize and issue a retraction of their infamous letter assigning guilt to the Lacrosse team? In a comment there, I said:
In their minds, they were right. It's the facts that were wrong, but only because this case was either A) an aberration or B) proof that rich White kids can do what they want.
Some of them in B) have it figured that the rich and powerful pulled strings and got the case to turn out how they wanted.
Others in A) are unhinged in a slightly different direction: they think that even though these particular rich White kids were put through the ringer this time, the justice system is still lopsided in their favor and it's only fair, because the academics just know this kind of thing happens to poor Blacks all the time.
No, it doesn't. While it may be true that the system is rigged against the poor, politicians don't pin their reelection hopes on prosecuting a particular set of poor Black defendants, or at least not on the basis that they're poor and Black.
Our legal system is biased in favor of the rich and powerful, but the bias is more heavily against the passive. Those who will fight the system, make noise, and do whatever they can to protest an injustice against them (whether justice is actually on their side or not) often will be rewarded, while those who roll over and accept their fate (deserved or not) will be punished.
Ever since 9/11, we've put the flag at half mast for too many things. I won't list the hurricanes, floods, school shootings, mine accidents, and traffic snarlups down to which the slope has slid.
The flag should be lowered for the death of a former President, and now and then, for the death of a former leader of an allied nation. Not for Senators, not for noted journalists, nuns, generals, or astronauts. These people are to be honored in other ways. The flag is different.
Lowering the flag is not merely a token of respect, it's a sign that our country would not have been as great without the person for who we are lowering it. And the flag should only be lowered while we mourn for the passing of the noted person.
And it never should have been lowered for 9/11, not even for a minute. Cancel baseball, shut down the airlines, watch out for each other, and devote your life to what matters. But don't dip the flag when your nation is attacked.
And we certainly aren't in mourning for 9/11 any more. We shouldn't be mournful any more, even as yearly we pause to recall the day, our memories of it, and our response to it. But after mourning comes anger, and you should have been angry every day since.
Keep the flag high, in triumphant assertion of our unflagging commitment to the victory of light over darkness.
Posted by Loren Heal at 7:53 AM
This will be brief, because it's all I have time for today.
What 9/11 Taught Us
Yes, it really could happen here. Our oceans and sparkling personality were no match, by themselves, for the hatred of religion gone mad.
While we may argue amongst ourselves in good times, when attacked, we put aside our few differences and pull together. When that occurs, our enemies have no defense.
About Our Allies
When we were attacked, they responded. They didn't stand back and tell us it was our own fault.
And of all of those things, long and deep should our memory be.
Posted by Loren Heal at 3:02 PM
For a possible 10 Anti-Lunacy credits, compare and contrast:
Larry Craig, flirting in public restrooms, presumed guilty because...
Classical Values: An Unforgiveable Sin
Pedophiles as foster parents, above suspicion because...
Michelle Malkin: The Horrors of Political Correctness
The Official News Agency has a listing for a long overdue product:
In the aftermath of the Sen. Larry Craig restroom sex scandal, the question of what is and what is not sexually solicitous behavior in a public restroom has become an important issue for Americans. Now, a new product emerges, promising to protect you by broadcasting your intentions before you enter the stall.The "No Sex Please" sign is a step in the right direction, and can only help improve the public restroom experience for everyone. But what other signs are needed?
What are the effects of Global Warming?
I consider Global Warming is an unmitigated good, because I like hot weather. Anything over 80°F and I'm happy, so a rise of 5 degrees will be just fine, thank you. Yes, I understand that the climate is complex, and no, it doesn't alarm me. But some people, especially those who live in urban heat traps or equatorial deserts, might not want the extra warmth.
I fail to see why I should alter my lifestyle in the slightest to accommodate their choice of habitat, when they can't even show that all of the changes that I and the rest of the developed world could make would even influence the climate, much less fix it. And given that some of us like it warm, they still need to show that the current global climate is the best one.
But beside being implicitly seen as the cause for famine in Ethiopia, Sudan, and the whole of East Africa, Global Warming has several other alleged effects:
If you've not heard about the misfortunes of Senator Larry Craig, consider yourself both blessed for having missed the circus and cursed for having to read about it from me. On the plus side, I'm going to skip the sordid details and go straight for what's really important about the event: it highlights a difference between Left and Right on the subject of morality.
Specifically, the main charge against Craig is not what he did, but hypocrisy. Craig, as a Republican, is held to the familiar standards of traditional decency. (Yes, "traditional decency" is a loaded phrase, but it's the best one I can come up with that hasn't been co opted, redefined, and bumper stuck into obsolescence). Democrats are not held to those standards, or any other save the most clear and outlandish violations of law. Why is this so?
It is because on the Left, traditional standards of decency are not part of their morality. Morality, I've shown, is the set of rules for behavior that we believe everyone ought to obey. People differ wildly on what those rules are, but we all have them and a sense that ours are correct. On the left, even those who cling to traditional decency do not hold others to that standard, but prefer tolerance of wickedness over its disdain. Traditional decency is to liberals a matter of preference and lifestyle.
To liberals, then, traditional decency is an ethical choice. Since Senator Craig self-selected into a group adhering to traditional decency, liberals react to him as someone who has committed an ethical violation.
But don't fall for the "we just hate hypocrisy" line: consider the Global Warming alarmists who are palleted around in limousines and private jets while telling the little people to walk. Hypocrisy doesn't matter, only opportunity matters: the opportunity gain power by making public the peccadilloes of their political foes.
By the way: a United States Senator accused of public lewdness would not plead guilty unless he were guilty. If not guilty, he would come before the public and explain the misunderstanding, if any, or simply deny the charges. To plead guilty in secret and then exclaim innocence in public strains credulity, and where politicians are concerned, it already doesn't take much to make my lie detector peg the needle.
Washington, DC (ONA):
Presidential Candidate Democrat Presumptive Nominee U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) has single-handedly rebuffed terror activity by her bold speech:
Swayed by U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton's assertions that an attack on American soil might give Republicans a political advantage going into 2008, senior Al Qaeda leaders scuttle ongoing terror blueprints until after the presidential election.
"We could have ruined everything," said Sheik Abdu Bareni al Kharbom, top-level spokesman for the terror group, via cell phone. "It's very disturbing."
The efforts of Presidential Candidate Democrat Presumptive Nominee U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton should be applauded by all red-blooded Americans, patriotic and otherwise.
Our goal in Iraq should not be simply establishing "democracy". As pointed out by Paul J. Cella on Redstate, jihad is a fairly popular item in the Muslim world. I think we need a new word.
The problem boils down to the ambiguity of the word "democracy". We say we want a democracy in Iraq when what we mean is that we want a government that supports all of:
I think the use of "democracy" is a kind of unfortunate shorthand for being a good international citizen. In a way, it may be President Bush's root mistake, in that a failure to accurately describe our goals in Iraq encouraged everyone to take "forming democracy" literally as being the sum of our goals.
Then again, maybe not. After all, what word is there to describe a modern member of the democratic club
with a functioning economy and high regard for the rights of Man?
That leaves aside the question of whether Islam, and a nation whose society is dominated by Islam, is at all likely to become such a place.
We can only hope.
Here in sunny Illinois we have a summer weather pattern that includes a wet period in late April or early May, followed by an extended period of a few weeks without much rain. Then, just as farmers are starting to worry a bit, we'll get a nice thunderstorm. That pattern of warm, humid, rainless days interrupted by periodic thunderstorms continues throughout the summer until late August or early September, when the first fall cold front passes through.
But it seems that the media, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, think people don't know what rain is. If there's a thunderstorm cell, announcements interrupt whatever TV and radio programming to tell everyone to take shelter. That's in addition to the top-of-the-hour weather brief and the list of affected counties scrolling across the bottom of the screen.
It's Illinois. It's summer. We know it will be hot outside, and where to find shade. We also know what to do if the sky gets dark and water starts coming out of it.
I think since 9/11, and especially Katrina, the government has become more and more safety conscious. And the Global Warming hype draws in aspects of the Earthism religion, so that broadcasting public safety notices becomes an exercise in spiritual action. The media enable this, possibly because many media types are practitioners of Earthism, but mainly because it's their business to get people worried while making themselves feel good. In a giant game of CYA overkill, they trumpet every passing cloud or hot summer day as a source of danger -- and look in on your neighbors. And if your house gets blown away, well, Nanny government told you.
It's spread to ordinary folks, as well. Global Warming disaster movies and that fearmonger Al Gore have convinced people that the weather just has to be about to kill them. There may no longer be a Red under your bed, but now there is a hurricane on your TV.
Come on. Mankind survived for years and years without knowing which counties could expect thunder, and while Dorothea needs help raking her leaves, she doesn't need me scaring her when a cloud passes by.
As for that stupid klaxon sound the NWS plays both before and after their announcements, with the volume up even higher than commercials: is there anything to do but turn the sound down?
If there's a tornado, let me know. Otherwise, leave me alone.
I've been doing online discussion for, uh, almost 20 years (yikes!), during which time my perspective has varied from snide liberal (well, not really very liberal) through doctrinaire (and equally snide) libertarian and beyond, resulting thus far in the glowing package of life-giving wisdom to which the universe is currently addicted.†
What I do is to keep a queue of 8-10 half-formed articles. As I surf around, I think of things I want to write about, or even comment in response to a blog post or article somewhere. Those go into the mix. Eventually, I get something into a form I can stomach publishing .
Then I reread it, doublecheck for homonyms and such, and reward the world with my wisdom and light.
And then again, sometimes I just think of something funny and have to write about it. I've always been a bit of a blurter when it comes to things I think are funny. Life is way too short to be serious all the time.
Oh well, back to the books.
I am humbled by the national treasure that is Jeff Emanuel:
The killing of Iraqis by Iran's Revolutionary Guard should not surprise any who have followed the course of the Iraq war (and postwar) to this point. While Tehran is raising the outcry that the Kurdish freedom fighters (known as the PJAK) they are trying to exterminate along the Iraqi border are "a terrorist outfit being sponsored and armed by the US to increase pressure on Iran" - a statement which, as the UK Guardian reported from its own eyewitness accounts of the equipment the PJAK are using, is patently false, despite claims by Dennis Kucinich and Seymour Hersh to the contrary - the Islamic Republic is denying its proven-beyond-dispute interference and involvement within Iraq itself.
Frank, you rule.
We must stop the Democrats from impeaching the president or vice president! That would bring great despair to my dark Republican heart! I can't imagine anything as terrible as that; it's even worse than poor people being able to vote!
Over at IMAO, Harvey has posted an Edwards Fabulous Fact:
John Edwards once spent three days tied to a chair after accidentally spraying himself with Silly String.This is unfair! Perhaps that is why there is a mysterious glitch in commenting on this Fabulous Fact.
I ended Electing a President suggesting that those who don't like for whom their State votes for President to move somewhere else. That's pretty silly when you think about it, because A) there is no guarantee the next place will be any different and B) you'd be moving just to be able to say your State voted the way you did. But this post is about the next suggestion, which you read in the title: we expect too much from the President.
No, that's not a dig at George W. Bush. It's a criticism of our society and the nation around which its politics are organized. While I'm not entirely sure at the outset of this writing how our politics ought to be organized, I can say conclusively that the way we're doing it now is not it.
I believe a lot of things without really having researched them. I think everyone does. You'd go crazy, or get nothing else done, if you had to verify experimentally things like whether the attraction of gravity and certain other attractive forces reduces with the square of the distance between objects, rather than at most working out the math a bit and calling it a fact. After all, it doesn't really affect how you make breakfast or play fetch with the dog. We just accept things, even if we give them a mental asterisk, and try not to drop the eggs. Gravity works, even if we don't have perfect knowledge of it.
One of these things I believe without perfect knowledge is that when we give government power, it doesn't give it back when it's through with the job we gave it the power to accomplish. Furthermore, when we give it power in one area, such as a tax increase, it leads to increased power in another area, such as where the tax money is spent. If the power to deficit spend is allowed, eventually that deficit will lead to a tax increase (even if that increase is accomplished by economic growth, it allows the government to avoid a tax decrease in the future).
So back to the real subject: the presidency is a position more easily critiqued than attained. It takes a person of great organizational skills and leadership, or at least a person who is at once willing to cede his handling to others while giving at least the appearance of leadership himself. To do both of those things without appearing insipid requires an exceptional person. Once elected, he will undergo the stress of being the micromanager for the most powerful and complex organization in the history of mankind.
There are too many details in the operation of a great nation, or a fair-to-middlin' evilly corrupt one, for one person to successfully handle them all. Even with a staff of hundreds of people at his disposal, no one should be asked to respond to every crisis, be moved by every heartbreak, or personally coordinate the rescue of every kitten who gets stuck in a tree.
Yet the media and general public seem to lay in wait for the next mistake, the next failure to fully meet their expectations, for better to jump on the office holder with an "Aha! Gotcha! You failed to fully prepare for this incident!". Blame is the latest game to sweep the nation, showing convergence with "reality" TV as a public pastime.
The separation of powers between the Congress and the Presidency provides many benefits. Not only was it intended to keep tyranny at bay, but to apply the right kind of decision making to each class of problem faced by the government. Many heads with at least geographical diversity provide wisdom (and hopefully some deliberation) when enacting new laws, while a single Commander in Chief is able to wage war without holding a hearing. Or, he was.
Since we have more laws than we need, the tripod of attention is tipped away from the Legislature toward the Executive and the Judiciary. As the President appoints the Judiciary, Congress is left trying to control that process however they can.
Harry S Truman is said to have had a sign on his desk that read, "The buck stops here". Anyone in a leadership position understands that with authority goes responsibility, and that a leader must accept responsibility for his mission.
So perhaps it is merely a symptom of our tendency to want the government to do everything for us that the President is unable to say, "That's not my job." But he should be able to say that, and what is more, the rest of us should be shouting at the tops of our formerly lazy little lungs "That is not your job!". He should not have to stop that buck, nor should he be asked to pass it: he should never get the buck at all.
When a hurricane hits some coastal city and the President doesn't fix it the next day, we say, "Gotcha! Failure!". When the home mortgage industry overextends, some fools want the President to bail out the banks, or the borrowers, or both. That's not his job!
When we demand that the President respond to every emergency, we give him power. Those who resent the growing executive "dictatorial" power should not blame their elected servant, but their own persistent demands for an omniscient, prescient, omnipathic nanny President.
The IRS has developed a plan to close a serious loophole in the tax code. It seems that many people have been hiding assets, and this unconscionable state of affairs must be put to an end.
Child welfare advocates and parents express outrage today as a policy change at the Internal Revenue Service allows them to view dependent children as assets... assets that can be taxed and, if necessary, seized.
Almost everybody hates the IRS. Even regular everyday government bureaucrats outside the Treasury department don't like the IRS. People have been proposing ways to get rid of it for a long time now. Two such proposals are the Fair Tax and the Flat Tax. The proponents of each blithely assert that their plan would allow abolition of the IRS. Color me unconvinced. The IRS is here to stay.
Yet the suspicion lingers that the current system of taxation may have subtle imperfections. Many people pay no income tax at all, and some non-payers even get money back in a system of pure wealth transference.
The Flat Tax proposals have been around the longest. There is a certain neatness to the idea of one flat rate, no deductions. Simple. Easily understood. Sounds like this: "thud".
The Fair Tax is a national sales tax. Right away, I'm suspicious of the words "Fair" and "Tax" put together, especially since the name is used to hide what the thing really is.
They call it "fair" because everyone would get a "prebate" based on the cost of living, presumably tied to ZIP code. The potential for waste, fraud, and abuse in that plan is truly mind boggling. And once people start demonstrating that they can't make their prebate check last out the month, we'll see a new loan sharking industry that will make "payday loan" thieves look like kids extorting lunch money.
The Fair Tax would give the politicians even more control over the economy. The ink would not be dry on the shiny new Fair Tax (which will be fair, since it's right there in the name "Fair Tax") before they'll start declaring some things luxuries, some things necessities, and some things harmful. They'll punish or reward with little tweaks to the tax rate whichever products they decide that day are good or bad. It would have the effect of making campaign contributions part of the cost of selling a product. That's fair, isn't it?
Fairly Flat Tax:
So here's my plan. Abolish the Federal Government.
In case that doesn't work for everyone, here's my other plan:
Part of the reason there is any controversy at all over the Electoral College is the misconception that the People elect the President. We don't. The States elect the President, and that's the way it should be.
Our government is a federation of States. In creating the new nation, the Founders balanced the needs of the States who were voting to create the Union and the Union itself, and balanced both State and Union against the needs of the People. Understand from that this one thing: the People are not the Union. The People are not the States. The three entities are separated intentionally to create a balance of power. One of the most important roles, choosing the Chief Executive, is given not to the People (who elect the Congress) but to the States.
Without the triangle of People, States, and Union, power would quickly gravitate to one of the other remaining entities. We see that even now. Either the People would run wild and begin a period of insane majority whim, or the Union would begin a tyranny of the few.
To accomplish this balance a compromise was reached between the large States and the small ones, whereby each State got a minimum amount of power augmented in proportion to its population. The mechanism for appointing our officials was the amalgam of a variety of sources, including ancient Greek democracy, the Roman Republic, and not least, the Holy Roman Empire, a waning power in Europe at the time.
The short-lived democracy of ancient Athens was mildly successful despite its rapid descent into populism and aristocratic manipulation. It derives its influence more from its output of learning than its actual influence on its neighbors in geography and time.
The Roman Republic lasted a long time, roughly five centuries, before the Senate, who in the end could only cast votes and make talk (to oversimplify), capitulated to Caesar, who had the loyalty of the men with swords. Still, the legislature served as a source for capitol intrigue in the Empire, if nothing else. But the idea of an essentially aristocratic Senate was unappealing to the Founders.
The Holy Roman Emperor was elected from one of the correct bloodlines (technically, any nobleman over 18 with property in the Empire). The election was made by a group of Electors, each of which was Duke of this or Bishop of that. The Electors horsetraded Imperial votes for sweeter land deals, treaties, titles, money, promises, or other items of perceived value. The newly elected Emperor swore an oath not to make his throne hereditary. Technically, he wasn't Emperor until the Pope crowned him.
Not withstanding the standard cynical barb that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, at various times and degrees those attributes did apply. The Empire lasted a thousand years, from its founding by Charlemagne in 800 to its final, bleak end in 1806, and its history formed the basis of the modern history the men developing our Constitution would have been taught. Our founders would have been intimately familiar with the machinations that got someone to be elected Emperor, both in their seamy details and their higher purposes.
The Federal Register has an Electoral College FAQ, saying:
The founders appropriated the concept of electors from the Holy Roman Empire (962 - 1806). An elector was one of a number of princes of the various German states within the Holy Roman Empire who had a right to participate in the election of the German king (who generally was crowned as emperor).
The reason we have an Electoral College is to give smaller States a voice. Remember that it's the States, not the People, who elect the President. In fact, there is no requirement that a State even have an election to determine how its Electors will vote. A State could have its Legislature vote on Electors, or could allow the Governor to decide, or even let him or someone else roll dice.
States which split their Electoral votes on Congressional district are essentially abdicating their Constitutional role. If such a State is closely contested, their electoral votes essentially don't count at all, and an individual citizen's vote as a citizen of that State matters even less. In a winner-take-all electoral system, the citizen's vote has a larger relative impact. Rather than being one vote out of 50,000,000, he is one out of perhaps a million who selects a given candidate.
My recent post (In Case You've Forgotten) demanded defeating and utterly discrediting Islamofascism, ending with
The questions of how far we go to defeat them, and with which of our own ideals we will temporarily part to do so, I leave to another day.I suppose it is a bit of an open question whether we need to temporarily set aside any of our ideals. Things temporarily set aside have a way of becoming lost, of course.
[This was originally posted at my tech blog, before I split off political and philosophical rants here and left the stuff I actually know anything about over there. I'm posting this here now because in thinking about the Global War on Terror and its impact on civil liberty, I wanted to get back to basics. I now see several flaws in my reasoning and perspective, and will address those in an upcoming post. ]
I've been thinking lately about human rights. You know, the kind for which men died at Normandy, at Lexington, and Golgotha.
That kind which stem not from the lifestyle to which you are accustomed, not from your power to secure them, nor from government largesse, but those which you have by virtue of your existence.
Warning: I have made no effort to keep the following suitable for the small-minded in general nor for Hate Crimes Commissioners in particular. Others may read freely on...
...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed....
Climate Progress imitates a puppy whose master has just returned from a long absence:
The nation’s top climate scientist is so frustrated over the nonsense racing about the blogsophere and mainstream media about the tiny flaw in NASA’s U.S. temperature database that he has already sent out two e-mails on the subject.
The Official News Agency is reporting that Iran is recalling Chinese arms sent to Iraq.
[Tehran, Iran] Due to dangerously high levels of lead found in paint and coatings used during the manufacturing process, Iraqi insurgents are being asked to return tens of thousands of Chinese-made rockets, mines, mortar rounds and other weapons that the Iranian government supplied to them since November, 2002.
The Islamofascists still want to destroy Western Civilization, to replace it with a 7th century utopia in which one either submits to their particularly rigid brand of Islam, or ... well, there is no 'or'.
There is an overlooked reason why victors write history: the defeated are discredited. Victory in war lends a kind of unspoken, superstitious respect. We must deny the Islamofascists any such credence.
Their ideas suck.
They still want women to be male property.
They still want homosexuals to be killed. As much as I hear about a theocracy in America from the Bush haters, we don't kill our sinners here.
They still want drinkers and gamblers to be whipped.
Under the Sharia Law they would implement, criticizing Muhammad or the Sharia law would be punishable by death.
And that is why we must utterly defeat them, so that those ideas are completely discredited.
The questions of how far we go to defeat them, and with which of our own ideals we will temporarily part to do so, I leave to another day. I simply say this: defeat them we must or ... well, there is no 'or'.
A commenter at IMAO describes the fun to be had in arguing with liberals in libspeak.
People in our community need the empowerment of guns to stop warlike people. Women need to be empowered by guns to keep aggressive and out of control men from rape and domination. Guns build healthy communities where everyone can live in peace.
Lately I've noticed a trend of sorts, or perhaps it's a theme that has always been there: liberals think that famous conservatives are speaking for the great unwashed masses of dittoheads [beware idiotic link], as if conservatives were looking for a leader to tell them how to think. 'Taint like that at all.
I think the error comes from a fundamental difference between liberal and conservative world views: are you an individual, or part of a group? Conservatives see people as individuals first, while liberals see people as members of groups. Conservatives tend to believe it takes two parents to raise a child, while liberals tend to think it takes a village.
Another possibility is that liberals want someone to speak for the downtrodden, and get used to the idea that leaders speak for the group.
Thence the annoying misconception that conservatives look to their leaders for moral and ideological guidance. Conservatives (and for the purpose of this post, libertarians) want someone to articulate the things conservatives as individuals already independently believe.
The conservative movement is all about ideas, not personalities, coalitions, or leaders. There are conservative groups, of course, but their beliefs are not coordinated or cross-checked. The notion that a message would come down from on high about what to believe is so silly it feels like a straw man, yet that appears to be how liberals think conservatives get their beliefs.
The 2008 Presidential primaries will be over early. With many states front-loading their primaries for February in an effort to be influential, both Republicans and Democrats should know who their candidates will be before much of the country sees its last snowfall.
That will give the paparazzi, traditional media, and bloggers plenty of time to rake the muck for detritus the front runners have left behind. At the same time, the prospective nominees will be at once tacking to the center and trying to pacify their respective bases. The end result will be two demonized candidates, and a jaded electorate will once again be presented with two evils and asked to pick the lesser.
The front-loading of primaries is a tragedy of the commons: there is very little penalty to an individual State in moving its primary forward. As usual, the commons is spoiled when the only discipline is the integrity of those who stand to gain by spoiling it.
So spoil it we have. Now the candidates will have all of their primaries right up front, and money will be more important than ever. With enough money, a candidate can get name recognition and "viability" in every primary. Without enough money, a candidate simply has to drop out, no matter how strong his character or how well constructed or popular his set of ideas. After the caucuses in Iowa and the primary in New Hampshire, the candidates without a solid national presence, name recognition, and organization will be gone.
Republicans have in recent history picked their candidates based on whose turn it was. A successor has always been available. This year, however, there is no heir apparent. This was to be the chance to really examine the field, for a candidate of substance and ideas to come out of the pack. The front-loaded primary season denies the Republicans that opportunity.
Democrats do have an heir apparent in Hillary Clinton. And oh, how the media will love her candidacy: a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane to the 1990's, to a time before Matt Drudge and 9/11 spoiled their love affair with Clinton42, though not their love for him. They will breathlessly question whether the country is ready for a female President, while either lauding her policy positions or leaving them unscrutinized.
Every dirty trick available to political operatives, biased reporters, renegade bloggers, and partisan computer hackers will be employed in the quest to take down both candidates. In the process no stone will be left unturned, and in the case of the Clintons, no intern left unstoned.
By the time September 2008 rolls around, both candidates will be thoroughly known, and
both will be thoroughly disliked by about half of the country. Their spouses, children, personal lives, old boyfriends and girlfriends if such there be, all will be examined and smeared, raw meat turned into hamburger of various grades in the machinery by which we elect our Presidents. Once again, the middle sliver, those who care least about who is elected, will decide the outcome. Such is the nature of the modern democracy.
(As an aside, I wonder how soon an Internet-only candidate will be viable.)
Some might wonder what the problem is. Aren't we supposed to learn everything about the skeletons in a candidate's closet? Doesn't that help us pick a stable, reliable person for the most powerful job in the world? Possibly. But we don't get to watch debates that matter. We don't get to read about, watch, or listen to candidates arguing their positions one day and see how another State votes the next. The early primaries are essentially a national primary, which diminishes the role of the States in the process of selecting a President.
Instead, we will get two national demons, and the 5% of us who don't hate either one or both of them will decide the election.
I don't favor government regulation or interference in speech or press, and think we have too much interference already. Remember that as you read what follows. Because I think that unless we ourselves restrain them, our freedoms of speech and press will soon be gone.
Free speech and press are free in the sense of having no legal restraint on the content of what is said. But every outrageous conspiracy theory, every statement with which our nation's enemies agree, and every criticism of our country does have a cost. In addition, there are already many constraints on speech, including restrictions on fighting words, on "hate speech", and on lying for gain.
I have never liked the phrase "Speaking truth to power", conjuring as it does a Marxist class struggle in which those in power do not know the truth, but the keepers of truth have no power. In reality, those claiming to do it are often repeating the tired KnownFacts™ and talking points from their favorite blog to people who would be disinclined to contradict them for fear of being politically incorrect.
We are free to make fools of ourselves with outrageous conspiracy theories, but when these are repeated they lead to distrust in reality, especially among those already convinced of the relative nature of truth. They lead directly to Charlie Sheen and Rosie O'Donnell, purveyors of simple falsehoods who are, or were, unwilling to accept that our nation is the object of a concerted attack by a foreign group who seek nothing less than its destruction.
We are free to disagree with the government, or with any particular agent or institution in government. But is it wise to do so? Many liberals believe, or act as if they believe, that they must always disagree, at the top of their little lungs, with whatever those in power say (as long as those in power are conservative or Republican).
Some who would describe themselves as civil libertarians agree with constraints on "hate speech" and on false advertising, and support further penalties for them, without so much as considering the contradiction between free speech and curbing hate speech. Even if something is true, many would say, if it might lead someone else to be angry against a protected group, it must not be said. But what do they think of attacks on the government and its policies, even when they are in alignment with the policy positions of our nations enemies? These things, they say, must be protected as free speech.
Now, of course political speech should be the most protected. But because something may be said, must it be said? Because the government takes a position, is it necessary to publicly contradict it, even if you disagree with it? Why not just shut up?
Disagreements with the government must be aired, the answer comes, because we must keep the government in check.
The best then that can be said for these disagreements is that they are a bitter medicine which will in the long run be good for us. That implicitly admits that the statements do us harm. This manner of thinking arrogates the judgment of the speaker above that of the rest of us.
Take, for instance, the blinders-on anti-American reporting of Juan Cole. Rather than admit that progress is being made in Iraq, Cole continues spout to doom and gloom, in a clear effort to convince his readers that the effort in Iraq is a foregone failure. Why? What possible good could come of that?
Newt Gingrich recently told the National Press Club that civil libertarians should imagine the kind of restrictions that will come about if an American city is lost to terrorism. You can guess, without reading it here, the Keith Olbermann reflexive reaction. Liberty is preserved, Olbermann says, by its exercise. That is true in a vacuous sense, as is most everything Olbermann says, but ignores the result of abusing liberty.
We do so at our own peril. For if we continue to take up the cause of our nation's enemies, we draw ourselves ever closer to the day in which one of them is successful in destroying one of our cities, or an allied city, or several such. We risk overly broad restrictions on free speech such as McCain-Feingold. Balance the benefits and the cost. The likelihood of the foregoing must be very small indeed, or the benefits of the action very great, to take any action which could result in it.
It seems that President Bush has pulled a fast one on Al Gore.
While NASA scientist James Hansen got a lot of attention for claiming President Bush was repressing his work, he should have paid more attention to the details of his data.
As a government scientist, James Hansen is taking a risk. He says there are things the White House doesn't want you to hear but he's going to say them anyway.Now that the data have been revised down, as Power and Control points out, 1998 was not the hottest year ever in the US, 1934 was. The top ten is starting to look a lot more random.
By Steve McIntyre
I observed recently that Hansen’s GISS series contains an apparent error in which Hansen switched the source of GISS raw from USHCN adjusted to USHCN raw for all values January 2000 and later. For Detroit Lakes MN, this introduced an error of 0.8 deg C. I’ve collated GISS raw minus USHCN adjusted for all USHCN sites (using the data scraped from the GISS site, for which I was most criticized in Rabett-world). Figure 1 below shows a histogram of the January 2000 step for the 1221 stations (calculated here as the difference between the average of the difference after Jan 2000 and for the 1990-1999 period.) The largest step occurred in Douglas AZ where the Hansen error is 1.75 deg C! There is obviously a bimodal distribution.
Next here is a graph showing the difference between GISS raw and USHCN adjusted by month (with a smooth) for unlit stations (Which are said to define the trends). The step in January 2000 is clearly visible and results in an erroneous upward step of about 0.18-0.19 deg C. in the average of all unlit stations. I presume that a corresponding error would be carried forward into the final GISS estimate of US lower 48 temperature and that this widely used estimate would be incorrect by a corresponding amount. The 2000s are warm in this record with or without this erroneous step, but this is a non-negligible error relative to (say) the amounts contested in the satellite record disputes.
On the weekend, I notified Hansen and Ruedy of their Y2K error as follows:
In your calculation of the GISS “raw” version of USHCN series, it appears to me that, for series after January 2000, you use the USHCN raw version whereas in the immediately prior period you used USHCN time-of-observation or adjusted version. In some cases, this introduces a seemingly unjustified step in January 2000.
I am unaware of any mention of this change in procedure in any published methodological descriptions and am puzzled as to its
rationale. Can you clarify this for me?
In addition, could you provide me with any documentation (additional to already published material) providing information on the
calculation of GISS raw and adjusted series from USHCN versions, including relevant source code.
Thank you for your attention,
Today I received the following response:
As to the question about documentation, the basic “GISS Surface Temperature Analysis” page starts with a “Background” section whose first paragraph contains the sentence: “Input data for the analysis ,…, is the unadjusted data of GHCN, except that the USHCN station records were replaced by a later corrected version”. A similar statement appears in the “Abstract” and the “Introduction” section of our 2001 paper (JGR Vol 106, pg 23,947-23,948). The Introduction explains the above statement in more detail.
In 2000, USHCN provided us with a file with corrections not contained in the GHCN data. Unlike the GHCN data, that product is not kept current on a regular basis. Hence we used (as you noticed) the GHCN data to extend those data in our further updates (2000-present).
I agree with you that this simple procedure creates an artificial step if some new corrections were applied to the newest data, rather than bringing the older data in sync with the latest measurements - as I naively assumed. Comparing the 1999 data in both data sets showed that in about half the cases where the 1999 data were changed, the GHCN data were higher than the USHCN data and in the other half it was the other way round with the plus-corrections slightly outweighing the minus-corrections.
Although trying to eliminate those steps should have little impact on the US temperature trend (much less the global trend), it seems a good idea to do so and I’d like to thank you for bringing this oversight to our attention.
When we did our monthly update this morning, an offset based on the last 10 years of overlap in the two data sets was applied and our on-line documentation was changed correspondingly with an acknowledgment of your contribution. This change and its effect will be noted in our next paper on temperature analysis and in our end-of-year temperature summary.
The effect on global means and all our tables was less than 0.01 C. In the display most sensitive to that change - the US-graph of annual means - the anomalies decreased by about 0.15 C in the years 2000-2006.
Reto A Ruedy
Well, my estimate of the impact on the US temperature series was about 0.18-0.19 deg C., a little bit more than Ruedy’s 0.15 deg C. My estimate added a small negative offset going into 2000 to the positive offset of about 0.15-0.16 after 2000 - I suspect that Ruedy is not counting both parts, thereby slightly minimizing the impact. However, I think that you’ll agree that my estimate of the impact of the impact was pretty good, given that I don’t have access to their particular black box.
Needless to say, they were totally unresponsive to my request for source code. They shouldn’t be surprised if they get an FOI request. I’ll post some more after I chance to cross-check their reply.
As to the impact on NH and global data, I’ve noted long before this exchange that the non-US data in GHCN looks more problematic to me than the US data and it would be really nice if surfacestations.org starting getting some international feedback. Ruedy’s reply was copied to Hansen and to Gavin Schmidt. I’m not sure what business it is of Gavin’s other than his “private capacity” involvement in a prominent blog.
There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Liberals (and that means you who run about calling yourselves "Progressives", as if a name changed a thing) are fond of promising a free lunch. They never call it a Free Lunch, but use terms like "compassion" and "fairness", for who is against compassion and fairness? But a Free Lunch is always promised, and a Free Lunch never is.
Eric at Classical Values* has what may be the perfect post on Iraq and Viet Nam:
Where it gets murky is with the people who claim not to be pacifists, who claim to support necessary wars, but who don't support a particular war.
"Yes, we need to fight al Qaeda, but not in Iraq!"
This is logically frustrating, because we are in Iraq, and so is al Qaeda. [...] Ultimately, I see such arguments as being based on What We Should Have Done. "Should have" is no way to fight a war you are in.
$100,000 will be awarded to the first person to prove, in a scientific manner, that humans are causing harmful global warming. The winning entry will specifically reject both of the following two hypotheses:The grammatical structure of the two hypotheses a little unwieldy is ;-P, but basically one has to disprove two statements. That places the burden of proof where it belongs, on the one trying to advance the science. Though I don't speak for the contest judges, the goals might be restated:
UGWC Hypothesis 1
Manmade emissions of greenhouse gases do not discernibly, significantly and predictably cause increases in global surface and tropospheric temperatures along with associated stratospheric cooling.
UGWC Hypothesis 2
The benefits equal or exceed the costs of any increases in global temperature caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions between the present time and the year 2100, when all global social, economic and environmental effects are considered.
Y'know what irks me? Highway construction zones.
Don't get me wrong: I'm all for safety. But I also want to drive fast. I want to see three digits sometimes.
But on the Interstate (in Illinois, anyway) they put up the 55 mph speed limit signs a miles before the actual work zone, followed by a 45 mph zone hundreds of yards before the actual work zone.
And at the actual work zone they have 5 guys standing around watching one guy hold up a shovel, doing the actual work.
Hey, how about getting some actual work done instead of wasting my tax dollars putting up bogus speed limits?
They also waste a ton of money on PSA spots telling us how important it is to drive 45 mph in construction zones. I say waste a ton of money, because even if the air time is "free", it's only "free" because the government tells the TV station they have to deliver PSA spots or lose their license. The station pays for it, in other words, to the detriment of their bottom line, which raises the cost of their other commercials, which raises the cost of everything. It's a hidden tax. And the production of the commercial isn't free, even though it looks like it could have been.
So they have these commercials about "keeping Daddy safe", or even "Please keep my mommy safe" written in cute first-grader scrawl complete with backward letters and a stick figure drawing. They have raised the fines to thousands of dollars, and jail time if you actually hit a worker.
As I said, I'm all for safety, and the way they do it is unsafe. Why?
Because it's too much window-dressing.
When motorists see a 55 mph sign with no construction in sight, they tend to ignore the speed limit. Posting the signs too far ahead violates Psychological Acceptability:
If the perceived inconvenience associated with system safeguards is higher than the perceived value they allow, users will tend either to circumvent the safeguards or not to use the system. Therefore, measures should be implemented only if:Instead, they post the speed limits just ahead of some obstruction such as an overpass or bend in the road, and then post a State Trooper behind the overpass or around the bend to hand out tickets. Yes, officer, you're right, I should keep that guy safe, two miles up the road, by parking my car and pushing it up to the actual work zone so I can say "Hey!" to the the guy with the shovel.
- They can be built in to the system such that following them will be no harder than avoiding them
- They are more likely to mitigate a threat than to cause user frustration