August 2006 Archives

Red Warrrior Wrong

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Red Warrior is asserting some clearly false things. He didn't like me voicing my disagreement in his journal, so he foe'd me, so I cannot respond there to his reply to me, so I do it here.

Basically, the story is this: the NY Times reports that Dick Armitage admitted to being Novak's source about Valerie Plame. However, not a single source is cited in the article. All it says is "a lawyer involved in the case" and "colleagues of Armitage" said he said it.

So on its face, it is unreasonable to assert the story as true, since it cannot be verified. It is not confirmed fact.

He also says that the Times story says it was Armitage's lawyer who spoke to the Times; not even the Times claims this. Red Warrrior writes:

it is clearly implied in the NYT piece that it is Armitages lawyer

Actually, no. Not even close. For all we know it could be Fitzgerald, or a lawyer who works for Fitzgerald. There is no implication whatsoever that it was Armitage's lawyer.

you totally blew by the bit about multiple independent sources

No, I didn't. In fact, I specifically stated the fact that there were no multiple independent sources cited in the article. There was not a single source -- let alone multiple independent sources -- cited in the article.

you are ignoring the reference to him having informed Powell, the Justice Department, and the FBI

No, I am not. I am merely stating the fact that this information has not been confirmed.

you are ignoring the claim that he admitted his role to Fitzgerald

Ibid. That is an unsubstantiated claim, not a fact in evidence.

you are ignoring the claim that Woodward ( of & Bernstein fame) also testified to his role

Ibid. That is an unsubstantiated claim, not a fact in evidence.

you are ignoring (since I doubt you were ignorant) the fact that the NYT piece is barely beating a book, entitled "Hubris", focusing on exactly that claim

Ibid. Does that book actually back up its claims? If so, how?

you are ignoring (since I doubt you were ignorant) the fact that a WaPo article further cites a former Armitage coworker at the State Department

Ibid. It doesn't name anyone; so that too is an unsubstantiated claim, not a fact in evidence.

you are ignoring (since I doubt you were ignorant) the coverage by this weeks Newsweek

Ibid. It does the same as the NY Times piece, not actually presenting any verifiable evidence.

you are ignoring that, as the WaPo states, "The case's origin in a conversation between Novak and Armitage is one of Washington's worst-kept secrets."

Says who? Based on what? Where's the evidence?

you ignore the fact that if there were any wiggle-room as to the facts, Armitage and his legal & PR teams would be spinning like crazy

Perhaps, perhaps not. It's only been a few days.

I could go on, but you get the point. Or maybe you don't. Whatever.

No, I get the point. It's you who do not, as your litany of the evidence-that-isn't proves. Not one thing you cited has been verified for the public. Everything -- every last bit of it -- is based on anonymous sources that we cannot check out for ourselves. There is not one bit of confirmed information in any of it.

Your argument here is like the infamous SNL Change Bank. Sure, taken separately, none of the information is verifiable. So how do you make people believe it? "Volume."

It does seem likely that Armitage is the guy, as I said up front. But none of it has been confirmed. None of it has been verified. At this point, we cannot know it, we can only say whether is likely or not. If Fitzgerald or Novak or Armitage himself or anyone with an actual name who has firsthand knowledge comes forward and says it, then that would be something. Until then, it's not much of anything, because no direct evidence has been presented. This is a fact you choose to reject, but it's still a fact.

As I noted previously, it's like saying evolution of humans from another species is a confirmed fact. But it's not, because we have only implication, not direct evidence. We have some earlier species that appear manlike, and we have other unrelated species that we've been able to show evolved from one another, and we extrapolate that therefore, sure, man probably evolved. But we cannot confirm that as a fact, and it is simply false to say it is a fact.

This is not legalism. This is about the fact that you do not know that it was Armitage. You cannot point to one primary source to prove it. You cannot name one person with firsthand knowledge who claims it. You cannot point to any document, any quote, anything at all. It is, in fact, a lie to say that you know it was Armitage, and I don't care how long you give me a "time out," I won't back down from calling a spade a spade. If you don't like it, that's your problem. You're the one who chose to make this into a "thing." I simply stated the fact that Armitage's admission is not a confirmed fact, because you falsely stated it was, and I was trying to help you out. You threw a hissy fit about it. Whatever.

Oh, and another thing: Scalia was right-on in his opinion on Raich.

Racks By Rhys

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So this guy, Rhys Davis -- not to be confused with actor John Rhys-Davies -- is running for Commissioner of Grays Harbor County, WA. And someone finds out that, four years ago, he made a web site called Racks By Rhys, which featured boobies.

So this is a big scandal. On the nightly news and everything.

But the funny part is that now redirects to a really nice rack. The Google cache of the original page, sans pictures, is still available though.

Senate Rules

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There's a story on Slashdot today about a practice in the Senate of putting anonymous "holds" on bills. The article notes that the practice "does not appear to be mentioned in the Constitution or in the Senate bylaws."

This is true, but irrelevant. Filibusters are not in the Constitution, either. They are in the Senate bylaws, of course, but there is only one body in this country that gets to determine the Senate bylaws: the Senate. And similarly, there is only one body that can say it has to be in the Senate bylaws in order to be practiced: the Senate.

And even though it does not even have to be in the Senate bylaws, because only the Senate can require that, it also is not against any bylaw, because it is wholly informal and nonbinding. The hold does not even actually prevent the Senate from bringing the bill to the floor, it merely signals the Senator's opposition to it being brought to the floor, which in effect serves as a threat of filibuster or some other adverse reaction, which, due to the congeniality of the Senate, effectively freezes the bill until some deal can be negotiated. Because we can't do something that might offend another Senator ... unless it is on CSPAN, and the public expects us to.

That is, a hold is just a Senator holding his breath until the others give in, which they do, because the Senate does not "do" confrontation like the House does.

Welcome to the U.S. Senate, kids.

I am not in favor of this practice, at all. I find it deplorable, even worse than filibusters (because holds are anonymous and behind the scenes, and so damned undemocratic). I am not defending the practice itself, or Ted Stevens and Carl Levin and others who abuse it. I'm just saying, the Senate has the first and last word on whether it will be allowed, and it is technically in the Senate bylaws, and no law, let alone the Constitution, is being violated.

Now Playing: Bebo Norman - Our Mystery

The Katie Couric Diet

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This is almost too good to be true.

This is the same network that brought you Rathergate. :)

Now Playing: Primus - Sgt. Baker

DNA Considered Useless

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So when DNA matches OJ, it's proof he was framed. When it doesn't match Karr, it's proof he is innocent.

DNA? What is it good for? ...
Most of you have read this story or a variant of it.

Most people seem to believe that the U.S. is preventing these men from returning home to the U.S. until they submit to allowing the FBI usurp their Constitutional rights. That may be true, but we don't know it is.

First, we do not know the FBI is requiring them to give up their rights (specifically, right to counsel, and other rights involving interrogation). The ACLU says so, but I wouldn't take their word for it, and think anyone a fool who does. Sorry. (However, if this is true, it's bad, and it is not acceptable.)

Second, we do not know they are being prevented from returning home. There is not one shred of evidence that suggests this (again, except for the word of the ACLU attorney, who actually lied in one story, saying they were under "threat of banishment", which is pretty clearly untrue, as that states they will be kicked out of the country, and there's been no such suggestion).

All the government says is they cannot fly into the country. There is no evidence they are being prevented from flying to another country and then driving into the U.S. Presumably, they would be detained for questioning at that point, but not prevented from entering.

Sure, the NY Times reporter says the feds "have prevented [them] from returning home to California from Pakistan unless they agree to be interviewed by the F.B.I." But it doesn't back up this statement, it doesn't give any reason for us to believe it, except for the paraphrase of the U.S. attorney who said they could not fly home.

Maybe they are being prevented from entering the country, not merely flying into the country. I welcome one shred of evidence suggesting that.

War on Drugs

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Len Bias was the second first-round draft pick in the NBA in 1986. He was selected by the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics, one of the best teams of the era, slated perhaps to be the second-best basketball dynasty of all time (after the 1960s Celtics), especially with the addition of Bias.

He overdosed on crack cocaine two days later.

Note that in the NBA, you don't draft a lot of players, or carry many on your team. Only five play at a time, and maybe 10 or more play in a given game. And there's no draft do-overs. This was a major investment, and it was gone. The Celtics never recovered from that, and I thought of the Celtics' decline as the major lasting effect of Bias' death.

But I was only 13 at the time. I didn't know much of politics, and I had no idea what was going on in Congress: the initiation of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which is responsible for most of the War on Drugs abuses we see today: disproportionate penalties for certain drugs and offenders, expanded police authority, and so on.

I mention this for two reasons. First, because I think it's an interesting story, about how laws (usually bad ones) can come about because of societal events. Second, because people love to blame the Republicans for our bad drug laws, and it's just not true: this was a Democrat bill, passed through dozens of Democrat-controlled committees (although the GOP voted for it too: only 18 Congresscritters voted against it in both houses combined, and it had over 300 cosponsors, including a bunch of Republicans). Both sides are to blame, but it's the civil libertarians -- both conservatives and liberals -- that have consistently tried to hold the line (recall that William F. Buckley has been against thw War on Drugs since the 70s).

This is one of those issues like eminent domain, where it's the big-government people of both parties who are in favor of more government power, and it's the rest of the country that wants an end to it.
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I am watching a show where Republicans and Democrats are arguing about how much they care about New Orleans and fixing the city after Katrina devastated it.

I do not care. I do not care at all. It has nothing to do with me, it's not where I live, and I do not want any of my money going to it. If you care, I have no problem with that. If you want to give your money to it, I have no problem with that. But I do not care, I do not want my money going to it, and I see no rational reason why my money should go to it.

This is not "selfishness," at least, not in a negative sense. I do not expect people in New Orleans to care if Seattle gets flooded, and am against our state seeking funds for repairs to help prevent that. I am personally embarassed that my (former) state benefitted to the tune of billions of federal dollars for the Big Dig; why should anyone in Montana care that people in Boston can get a brand new highway system?

If New Orleans never "comes back" it won't adversely affect me at all, and I do not care, and there is no reason why I should care.


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OK, seriously now, since when is science or language (except in France) determined by voting?

A legitimate case can be made that Pluto is not properly called a planet, but despite what the many news reports I've seen have said, Pluto is not now "officially" not-a-planet. There's nothing "official" about it. The International Astronomical Union has no authority. The International Star Registry has as much authority as the IAU does, and dammit, if they decide, for a $1,000 fee, to call the third star to the left of Orion's belt "Pudgimus Prime," then that's just as bloody official as anything the IAU says.

The IAU is a bunch of nice people who do good and important work. But they have no actual authority to name anything, let alone to classify anything, any more than anyone else has. That's not to say we should ignore them; far from it. That we can look to this group of scientists for a common set of words -- like "planet" and "Pluto" -- is extremely useful. But it's not "official." It's not law. It's just one group of people. A really smart and influential group, but that doesn't make them "official."

We do not have to go in and change all the textbooks in all the schools, we don't have to change our dioramas and mnemonic devices, we don't have to change ... well, anything. If you want to keep calling it a planet, feel free to do so, as long as it's understood you're not using the same definition the IAU is using.

MySpace Sellout

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I sold out. I am on MySpace.

If you're also on MySpace, you should be my friend, and also click "Add" next to my song "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday," to force other people to listen to it!

Now Playing: Blues Traveler - Just Wait


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Author Geoffrey Nunberg was on Colbert tonight saying that the right abuses language in order to control public debate.

One example he gave was "support the troops." "There was a time when 'support the troops' meant go out and have scrap drives, turn in your old tires, and so on, now it just means ... shopping, buying a Hummer." Except that the scrap drives of the 40s were mostly meaningless gestures. So he's not really up on his history.

He brought up a bunch of epithets hurled by the right at the left, like saying liberals are "Hollywood-loving" and "Volvo-driving." He, mostly properly, says those labels are largely inaccurate and meaningless anyway, and serve only to bias thinking instead of evaluating arguments. Of course, he neglects the fact that the left does the exact same thing to the Fox News-loving, freedom-hating, moralist, gun-toting, environment-hating right.

He even says that this "bogus cultural divide" is being created by "the right." Funny, wasn't it the left after the 2004 election who made a huge deal out of how culturally divided the urban centers are from the rest of the country, ridiculing those in the South and Midwest for being backward, stupid, ignorant, largely in cultural terms? "The right" is creating this divide? Pull the other one.

He explains this discrepancy in emphasis by saying the right has been more successful in controlling the debate through language: "the right has moved the center of gravity of the language to the right." But he's got it backward: it's been the left that's controlled the debate through language, and it's done it so successfully we don't even recognize it.

Colbert brough up the "death tax," and Nunberg noted how this supposed rebranding of the "estate tax" is a great example of what he is talking about (even though calling it an "estate tax" is itself a liberal rebranding of "inheritance tax"). But it's an even better example of how effective the left has been, as Jonah Goldberg pointed out recently in National Review.

A hundred years ago, some people looked around and decided that government should be the cure for whatever ills we have. Bad economy, no job, no job skills, no health care, whatever you lack, government will provide. And government must therefore control and manage our resources in order to provide these things.

Conservatives today largely reject this notion, but it has become so ingrained in our national culture that we can't avoid speaking in these terms. So, for example, the debate over sex education is not whether we should have sex education in government schools, but exactly how the government should teach sex to our kids.

Similarly, with the estate tax, most conservatives won't argue in terms of the estate tax simply being confiscatory and unjust, but instead will argue about how it harms the economy, or is an inefficient tax, and how there are better and more effective taxes. Instead of arguing that government should not engage in economic and social micromanagement of the country, they use the liberal language of progressivism that assumes government should do these things, and argue that there are better ways to accomplish those liberal goals.

And this is probably one of the reasons why some on the right feel the need to resort to such transparent tactics as name-calling: because they are so frustrated by the inability to say what they really want to say, that they lash out in other ways. So since I can't say that the federal government should not be involved in education - when I say that, people think I am crazy -- I call you a Northeastern latte-drinking liberal who only wants to control our children and spit out carbon-copy citizens who will think whatever President Mao wants them to think. Or something.

Language is used to control thought on both sides. But I can't look out and see that the right's activities in this area are either more pervasive or more successful. And frankly, I think the attempt to paint the right in this way is Nunberg's attempt to do what he chastises: by attacking (and singling out for blame) the right's use of language, he is attempting to undercut their arguments, using the classic (and classically transparent) red herring fallacy. Oops.

Old News is New Again

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Think Progress has a big headline today: Bush Now Says What He Wouldn't Say Before War: Iraq Had 'Nothing' To Do With 9/11.

I draw your attention to September 2003, almost three years ago: "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September attacks," Mr Bush told reporters as he met members of Congress on energy legislation.

Red Sox Done? Not Quite.

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Two words: 2004 ALCS.

Which situation is more dire? Being down 5.5 games with 40 games to play, or being down three games in a seven-game series?

And recall, pitching was our problem in the 2004 ALCS, too. Schilling was DOA, Arroyo was terrible, and Lowe had been so bad he'd been bumped from the rotation. Pedro was the only one who pitched well (as Schilling's been the only one pitching well now).

The Sox pitching has sucked. And when it hasn't, other problems have arisen (passed ball by Mirabelli, followed by bloop RBI single by Jeter).

If the pitching can turn around, the Sox can make the playoffs. If it doesn't, they can't. I wouldn't place a bet either way.
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Pudge's Picks

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Please, if you wish, go to join Pudge's Picks, now hosted on

After logging in (create a new login if you don't have one), create an entry. Set it to "no spread."

Then for each entry, click Join a Group. Type in "Pudge's Picks" in the search field, submit the form, then click on Pudge's Picks when it shows up in the list. The password to join is "longhorn."
A lot of people have been chatting about how the court smacked down Bush this week, with strong and unequivocal language. And it did. But another court, one much closer to the situation, appears to me to disagree.

As the Wikipedia article correctly notes, in 2002 the FISA Court of Review "also noted (but made no judgment regarding) 'the President's inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance' which relates to part of the government justification in the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy."

But the Court went further than merely noting the inherent authority; it said Congress could not limit that authority: "We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power." That's pretty strong language, too.

Again, I do not know if the President has this inherent authority, or whether Congress can encroach on it. And if I had to make the choice, I'd say Congress should be able to so "encroach." But I want to find out what the law, what the Constitution, requires here, not what I prefer, and legal minds far greater than mine -- or, likely, yours, if you're reading this -- disagree.

I plan to read this week's decision carefully at some point, but I am far more interested in what Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy, Breyer, Souter, Ginsberg, and Stevens (hey, I did that from memory!) have to say. And I think we will find out.

Wiretapping Ruling

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I don't see this ruling as important. It's phase one.

Predictably, the ruling was appealed, and the ruling is stayed pending appeal. That means the program continues.

There is only one court that matters in this case, and it's the Supreme Court. Nothing any judge says in the meantime -- for or against the wiretapping program -- really matters.

I will say that I find the judge's language striking. She says "the president of the United States ... has undisputedly violated the Fourth [Amendment] in failing to procure judicial orders." But many judges -- some of them higher up than she is -- have disputed precisely this. So I don't know where she gets off saying that, and it makes me question her overall judgment.

Red Sox

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The Red Sox (which, as you know, will win the World Series this year) are on national TV for five of six straight games. Last night they were on ESPN in the finale with the Tigers, and ESPN will have games on the mornings (Pacific time, anyway) of Friday and Monday, as well as Sunday night. Fox has Saturday's matchup. The only game not on TV is Friday night.

All of these games are against the Yankees, in Boston. The Yankees lead the division by 1.5 games (assuming they can't come back from a 12-2 deficit here in the bottom of the 7th).

Go Sox!


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Went to dentist today. Lady said I should swallow my saliva. Apart from that making my stomach feel ill, it also tastes really bad. I have to work hard to keep my tongue (the part that isn't numb) away from the saliva gathering in my mouth, too, because of the taste. Perhaps I should put "Supertaster" on my medical form next time.


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In the state of Washington, we vote for our judges, including on the Supreme Court. There's a conservative guy named Stephen Johnson who's running for Supreme Court, against a more liberal incumbent justice, Susan Owens.

As implied, Owens is favored by the Democrats, and Johnson by the Republicans, though this is not a partisan race, and there's bound to be some more crossover here than in other, partisan, races.

On the day before the filing deadline, two liberals filed to also run in the race. One is Richard Smith, an environmental lawyer who opposes the fact that the building industry is donating money to Johnson, and is hoping to take votes away from Johnson in the primary. His mission is to help Owens.

The other is also a supporter of Democrats -- he's donated money to them in the past -- and his name is -- drum roll, please -- Michael Johnson. The transparency of his attempt to confuse the voters is increased by the fact that he refuses to give any media interviews, seek endorsements, or raise money.

It's obvious that some on the left are behind M. Johnson's "campaign."

The nice thing here is that at least people can look in the voter pamphlet to see the differences, right?

Well, no. The Democrats who control the legislature decided there wasn't enough money for that, despite having a record-breaking surplus this year. Convenient, eh? I doubt they thought about this specific issue at the time, but I've no doubt at all that the Demcoratic legislature in my fair state simply doesn't value voting rights nearly as much as I do. I see things like dissemination of information about the candidates as being obligatory, not optional, and certainly not something that you don't fund when you have a surplus.

Not that I am making this into "see how evil the left is?" thing. It's a partisan thing, certainly, but it's not something only the left does. I remember in 2000, looking through the various races and seeing incumbent Democrat Richard A. Gephardt being challenged by Republican Richard A. Gebhardt.

At least we can laugh about that one; Gebhardt had no real chance, and lost handily. The Congressman changed his name on the ballot to "Richard A. (Dick) Gephardt." Stephen Johnson will have the appellation "attorney, state senator" on the ballot next to his name, while Michael will have only "attorney."

And some people -- falsely, as Johnson is an accomplished and fairly well-known lawyer and politician -- think that Stephen Johnson himself was chosen because there are two other Johnsons on the state Supreme Court. Of course, even if that's true, let's talk about the Kennedys ...

Anyway, it's not the dirtiest of dirty tricks. But it's pretty lame, and current (unreliable) polling shows the Johnsons and Smith in a dead heat for second.

The good news is that if Stephen Johnson does make it past the primary, it will be only he and Owens on the general election ballot.


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Over on that bastion of reason, DailyKos (<blink>LAUGH</blink>), someone writes about HIV prevention, and says:

Early in the Bush administration, I was part of small group that met with Margaret Spellings (then the President's Domestic Policy Advisor, before moving on to become Secretary of Education). One of the meeting participants summarized compelling data about the effectiveness of a scientifically sound approach to HIV prevention for sexually active young people. In response, Spellings simply said "Well, you've got your science and we've got our science."

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the Bush administration attitude toward science overall than that statement - the idea that there is some kind of alternative science out there supporting their political viewpoint, a science that is equal to the rigourous, peer reviewed work done by mainstream science.

Show me one actual scientific study that proves abstinence-only HIV education is ineffective, or less effective, than other methods.

Actually, don't waste your time. It is not possible.

These studies are not actual/real science, but what -- until recently, apparently -- real scientists used to decry as pseudoscience. They do not test observable phenomena against a hypothesis with repeatable results, they simply measure human behavior, which we all know changes over time. You cannot have an actual scientific study that shows abstinence-only education is less effective, because changing social norms could change the results for the next time you conduct the study.

This is not real science, but social science, and if nothing better illustrates the Bush administration to science overall than this, then you really have not much of a case against the President, because most real scientists have a similar view of social science.

And frankly, I hate this whole debate. Someone complained to me today saying, 'Congress has passed a law requiring that "abstinence-only" programmes must receive 30% of all US government funding going to support HIV prevention. As a result, the US government is giving tens of millions of dollars every year to Christian groups to teach that the only way to avoid HIV is to not have sex.'

And my response should be the obvious one from all of us: what the hell is the U.S. government doing spending tens (hundreds?) of millions of tax dollars on sex education, which is, according to the Constitution, supposed to be left to the states? Of course, this is only a tiny part of the money the U.S. spends on education: No Child Left Behind is the biggest unconstitutional power grab by the U.S. government in my lifetime.

Oh wait, I am supposed to defend Bush. Um. San Dimas High School Football rules!

Shebaa Farms

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When Israel decided to finally pull out of Lebanon in accordance with UN resolutions, that angered some people in Lebanon, especially Hezbollah. You see, if Israel is not in Lebanon anymore, they have no more grievance, and can't convince anyone they have a right to attack Israel.

So Hezbollah said "hold on, you haven't left all of Lebanon, you're still in Shabaa Farms!"

And Israel said, "whaaaaa -- ?"

You see, Shebaa Farms had been occupied by Israel since 1967, as part of the Golan Heights. During the Six Day War, Syria was shelling Israel from the Golan Heights, so when Israel won the war, it held onto this strategic area, saying "you used this to attack us, so now it's ours."

So from 1967 to 2000, this area was basically recognized to be under Israeli control, having been seized by Syria. People would argue about whether the region should be returned to Syrian control.

But then in 2000, some Lebanese needed this additional territory to complain about, so after 33 years of not complaining about Israel occupying this territory that supposedly belonged to them, they said, "Hey, this is ours!"

Well, no one bought it. Kofi Annan himself said in 2000 that Israel fulfilled its obligation to pull out of Lebanon, despite claims about Shebaa Farms, and the UN has always recognized this area, for more than 50 years, to be part of what was previously Syrian territory. Some Syrian officials have said it is Lebanese, but not until 2006, and Syria has refused to take any legal action to conduct the transfer, including notifying the UN, so whatever statements they make about it cannot be taken seriously.

And even if Syria does transfer it to Lebanon, that still doesn't change the fact that for nearly 40 years, it's been territory under dispute between only Syria and Israel.

Disgraced MP George Galloway (echoing Hezbollah leaders) said the other day that Hezbollah was justified in attacking Israel because it is Israel that has been occupying Lebanon for more than 20 years. But this statement requires us to believe Shebaa Farms belongs to Lebanon, which is a new invention of the last six years, that even Syria agrees is not legally true. He called the interviewer ignorant for not believing his lie, and yelled a lot to make his point.


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Hot on the heels of Jesux comes Muslix.

Call it a Second Coming, if you will.

It's both a cereal AND an operating system!

It is released under a modified version of the GPL, which states, "the program and its derivative work will neither be modified nor executed by infidels."

Share and enjoy!

GPU Is Retarded

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So this Gnutella client GPU has a license which states: "the program and its derivative work will neither be modified or executed to harm any human being nor through inaction permit any human being to be harmed." They call this the "no military use clause."

There is so much wrong with this it's hard to know where to begin.

Sure, it completely denies the point of free software/open source, which should not restrict the freedom of the person using it. But there's so much more that's wrong.

It doesn't actually prevent military use, for starters. It only prevents military use that harms another person. So if I am downloading an MP3 of "America, F**k Yeah!" while dropping bombs on Iraq, that is OK: I am not executing the program to harm anyone. The only prohibited use is if I use it to download, say, maps to help me find out where to drop my bombs.

Worse, the final phrase makes no sense whatsoever. First, how can you execute GPU in such a way that through inaaction you permit someone to be harmed? The most obvious way is that while you're downloading warez, you could get off your butt and actually go out to help make people's lives better, so using the program in the first place, for any reason, can violate the license.

But that's also giving the license too much credit, because that clause makes no grammatical sense. It's unbalanced. It is, as some of you will instantly realize, a derivation of Asimov's First Law of Robotics, which states, "A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." One way to restate the inaction clause is, "A robot may not ... through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." Simple. Makes sense.

So let's try that with GPU's license. "[T]he program and its derivative work will [not] be modified or executed ... through inaction permit any human being to be harmed."


And who decides what is a human being? Can Planned Parenthood use it to distribute flyers?

And what is "harm"? Does that include a nice good Slashdotting that costs a web site operator some money with which he could have fed his family?

And further, what about the fact that militaries in the last 100 years (in the West, anyway) have done more to preserve freedom in the face of tyrannical regimes, than to take it away?

The subject says it all. GPU is retarded.
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Think Stupid

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The wackos at Think Progress are at it again, taking something inconsequential or false and blowing it out of proportion.

Mehlman said on Meet the Press yesterday something that is true: the mission in Iraq is not stagnant. As problems crop up, the administration is trying to adjust to the realities on the ground. In that sense, we are not "staying the course."

So Think Progress mindlessly quotes a bunch of other Republicans, including Bush, saying we should "stay the course." But when Bush et al say we should "stay the course," their clear meaning for the phrase is "we should stay in Iraq until the mission is done." When Mehlman said we should not "stay the course," he clearly meant something different: that we should adapt to changes on the ground. But he also believes strongly that we should stay in Iraq until the mission is done.

So where's the disagreement? Where's the falsehood?

If you ignore the words used and look at the clear meaning of what was said, there is no disagreement, there is no falsehood. Nothing remotely like it. You can criticize Mehlman for playing word games, but not for lying, unless are ignorant or dishonest.

Huffington On Lieberman

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So Huffington is on Reliable Sources saying Lieberman is selfish and that what he is doing by continuing to run after losing the nomination is "unprecedented."

First, wasn't she similarly selfish by hurting Bustamante's chances for governor a few years ago? But it's OK because she is not a Democrat (she is not a Democrat, she just hates Republicans!).

Second, no, it is not nearly unprecedented. As I noted before, Teddy Roosevelt -- the favorite Republican of many liberals -- lost the Republican nomination for president in 1912 to Taft, and then decided to run under the Progressive/Bull Moose label. If he had not done this, Taft would have won, and not Wilson.

This is not the only example, of course, just one of the most prominent. The only real difference with the TR example is that a. it was at convention, not primary (a distinction without a difference in this case), and b. it was of far more importance to the country, and to the party, both because it was the Presidency and not a Senate seat, and because Lieberman is not likely to actually help lose the seat to the other party.

You can perhaps forgive her ignorance of U.S. history, since she's not a native (but it's a good example of why you should take her broad statements with a big grain of salt). But to forget her own history is pretty funny.
To commemorate the day-after-the-terror-arrests-in-London-and-one-month-before-the five-year-anniversary-of-September-11, I offer a new, original, song: Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday.

It's a song about, well, Osama Bin Laden ruining someone's birthday. It was a good birthday. Nothing wrong with it. A little close to Labor Day maybe, but other than that, a good day to have a birthday. But no more, thanks to Osama Bin Laden. [Insert fist-shaking.]

I think it's a great song. Maybe not the best song I've written, but among the best I've recorded (I still think "Through the Glass Darkly" is a better recording). I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Spread it far and wide ... enjoy!

Also see my music page, and the song lyrics and cover art (compare, if you wish, to the cover of American IV by Johnny Cash).

Metric Terror

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From CNN:

The U.S. raised the terror threat level to "severe" for all flights leaving Britain for the United States. Britain raised its alert level to "critical."

Hm. doesn't have a "terror threat level" conversion.

What Year Did 9/11 Happen?

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And yes, I mean the 9/11. Many people do not know.

How can anyone over the age of, say, 10, and over the IQ of, say, 10, not know what year that was?

Joe Lieberman "Betrayal"

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A lot of people think Joe is betraying his party.

They are wrong.

Some people have likened it to McCain refusing to run with Kerry, or run against Bush as an independent. This comparison exposes the flawed thinking. If McCain had done so, he would have been hurting his own party, by helping a Democrat win.

But as Joe runs, he will almost surely win (he'll get most independents, and I figure half the Democrats, and a big chunk of Republicans). And then what happens? He goes back to the Senate as a Democrat, is part of the Democratic caucus, votes with the Democrats, has committee assignments as a Democrat. He won't be in the Senate as an "independent" like Jeffords, he will be an actual Democrat, with a voting record comparably in line with the party to what Lamont's would be, and with a lot more clout to get things done for the state of Connecticut.

Now, you can argue he is going against the will of the Connecticut Democratic party. It's hard to argue against that. But from my longstanding perspective, parties exist not to choose who runs, but to choose who the membership of the party thinks should win, and to help that candidate win. If the Democrats in CT choose to back Lamont, more power to them, but that should not in any case mean that Lieberman shouldn't run.

I am pretty big into party politics, but I do not have any patience for the notion that parties should choose who is on the ballot, or that being on the ballot apart from your party's choice is a betrayal of the party. It may be going against the party's wishes, but unless the action you are taking serves to harm the broad interests of the party (such as, for example, Teddy Roosevelt getting Wilson, instead of Taft, elected by running as a third party candidate), I just don't buy that it is a betrayal in any meaningful sense of the word.

If by some incredible chance the Republican challenger wins the Senate race, then perhaps I will agree Lieberman betrayed his party. But none of us should hold our breaths for that ...

Now Playing: Extreme - Color Me Blind


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This year's OSCON was the best I've been to since it left California (my third in Portland, I think). I am not quite sure why. The technical content seemed higher, at least in the sessions I went to (although there were two sessions on cross-domain Ajax, in the same room, on the same day ... oops). Maybe it's because I didn't go to as many Perl track sessions as usual?

I noted before I was disappointed in the lack of Perl content at OSCON. Maybe I still am. But I also said at the time that my complaint was only about the Perl content, not the conference as it is, what it has become. It's still an excellent conference, even if it is no longer "The Perl Conference."

If your only interest is Perl, then you might be a bit disappointed. Then again, you might not: there's lots of Damian, there's MJD, there's Larry, there's Peter Scott, there's lots of Perl content around. I am just old and jaded and have seen and heard most of it before.

Then again, maybe that's why OSCON has less interesting Perl content (to me, and others): because fewer people are creating interesting Perl content, because we've all seen it before. [Insert Jarkko's sig here.]

Regardless, if you are interested in Apache and MySQL and JavaScript and even Ruby or Python or PHP or whatever, or you don't care about sessions and want to just hang out and talk to lots of people, then OSCON's pretty damned good. I enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit, both from the sessions and from just hanging out and chatting.

The food wasn't to my liking. I miss the crummy box lunches we had in San Diego. :-)

Somewhat idle thought: sometimes I wish there could be a whole day at OSCON of nothing but BOFs; it seems there's too little time to go to all the ones you might want to go to, and there's a lot going on at night anyway. Maybe Tuesday could be BOF day for people who don't attend tutorials? Promoting it might hurt O'Reilly's bottom line, encouraging people to avoid tutorials, but ... it's late, maybe it's a stupid idea.

Re: Incomparably amusing

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In re:, from Federalist 8:

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free. ...

They would, at the same time, be necessitated to strengthen the executive arm of government, in doing which their constitutions would acquire a progressive direction toward monarchy. It is of the nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority. ...

Rumsfeld Resignation

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This keeps cropping up. There are a few people who want Rumsfeld to resign because they think he has not well-implemented policy, or because he is simply not good at his job. But overwhelmingly, most people want him to resign because they disagree with Iraq policy and think it is a failure; but Rummy is only doing what Bush wants in that respect, so a new SecDef would presumably not change anything.

So why a new SecDef? In case it is not already obvious to you: it is because a new SecDef requires Senate hearings, which would give the Democrats an opportunity to attack Bush and the Iraq policies on TV, 24/7, for a week or two.

That's it. That's the reason. And now you know, if you didn't already.

Ani DiFranco on Henry Rollins

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Watching Henry Rollins show on IFC tonight. In his Letter segment, he writes/reads a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger, and it wasn't funny. Not like that letter to Ann Coulter, which I thought was brilliant. This was more just like "I hate you." It wasn't witty or funny.

Anyway, so Ani DiFranco, whom I admire as a songwriter and performer, is the musical guest. She introduces her song by noting that it was written at the turn of the century, so the word "impeachment" in the first verse refers to the "circus" surrounding Clinton.

Then she goes on to say that "it strikes me as kinda funny that stealing elections, rigging elections, lying to the American public, violating international treaties, and making wars for profit ... that's not grounds for impeachment."

The problem, of course, is that no elections were stolen or rigged, no international treaty has been violated, and profit had nothing to do with the reasons we went to war.

And, of course, Clinton lied to the American public: that is what his impeachment was for, remember? He was impeached only for perjury, and for seven categories of obstruction of justice, all of which involved lying to the court or concealing evidence; the two articles of impeachment that failed were also about perjury). Even if Bush has lied as much as Clinton, there's not the wealth of actual evidence of it as there was with Clinton.

Yes, yes, what Bush supposedly lied about (which I have not seen evidence of) is of much greater importance. But that's presumably why she threw in the stuff about stealing elections, violating international treaties, and making wars for profit, which, of course, never actually happened.

Well, she's still a good songwriter and performer, anyway, even if she's not a reliable source of factual information about current events.
A new episode of Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to ask new questions here, for future episodes.


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So there's some anti-Gore video on YouTube that makes fun of Gore and global warming.

So there's an article about it.

So the article reads:

Mr. Wertheimer thinks videos like the Gore spoof, whose sponsorhip is vague, can be disingenuous. "They're coming in under false pretenses -- under the guise of being a clever video you might be interested in," he says.

The article doesn't explain how the "sponsorship" of the video has anything to do with whether it might be a clever video you might be interested in.

The article goes on:

Nancy Snow, a communications professor at California State University, Fullerton, viewed the penguin video and calls it a lesson in "Propaganda 101." It contains no factual information, but presents a highly negative image of the former vice president, she says. The purpose of such images is to harden the views of those who already view Mr. Gore negatively, Dr. Snow says.

Which, of course, makes it not significantly different from the Gore movie itself ... (yes, Gore has some factual information, but so does the video, and both cherry-pick the facts that support them, in order to paint a highly negative view of things they don't like, in order to harden the views of those who already agree)

Tattoo on You

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I just found out there are two completely different reality TV shows about tattoo parlors, Miami Ink and Inked.


Catching Up on Colbert

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Watching Colbert from last week. Neal Katyal is on. He represented a Gitmo detainee in the Supreme Court. He made two fatal errors.

First, he is not a professional comedian, and he tried to make jokes. He simply wasn't funny.

Second, his arguments were extremely weak. He kept bringing up the nonsensical retort of the left, "this isn't what our country was founded on," which is, of course, begging the question.

Even worse, and incredibly, he said that he gets letters from soldiers who thank him for defending the Geneva Conventions, because if they get captured, they want to be protected by the Geneva Conventions too. Except, well, no. Our soldiers, if captured, get no such protections, not from anyone we're currently fighting. The people we're fighting behead our troops or burn them alive. That's the whole point.

Does anyone honestly think Madison, Adams, Washington, and so on would really defend the right of al Qaeda to get the same legal protections as any other troops? They'd do what Bush has been doing. They'd lock the captured enemies up and hold on to them as long as they felt like it. Maybe even hang a few. Maybe even without a trial.
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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