Monday, December 31, 2007

What's the Transhumanist Libertarian Professor up to?

Everyone makes mistakes, but some are more worth contemplating than others. Is a libertarian who usually supports Bush against the left giving a bit more to the religious right than he realizes with his reflexive sneer at the 'left wing academic elite'? Is he eager to please them without actually contradicting his own beliefs, as long as they don't vote for Huckabee?

If you follow Reynold's own link, you'll see two errors in his two sentence post. The group wasn't banned, and action wasn't taken based on 'unacceptable views on premarital sex'. The group was denied funding because it excluded people who refused to 'agree with a “statement of faith,” including its interpretations that Christians should not engage in sexual activity outside the context of marriage between a man and a woman.'

Is that reasonable? Maybe not, but the University of Montana has a rule that groups funded from student dues must potentially benefit and be open to all students. In practice, this doesn't seem to be a problem for most Christian groups. Some of the student groups on this list probably have members with religious reservations about homosexuals, and at least some probably don't have any homosexuals eager to join anyway:

List of University of Montana student groups, bookmarked at religious groups.

So why pick on the Christian Legal Society? Both sides seem all lawyered up, and one consists mainly of lawyers. The Missoulian seems to have covered the viewpoint of the CLS:

The students allege that UM's Student Bar Association granted their organization preliminary approval for both recognition and funding, but when the matter was up for final ratification, funding was denied because of e-mail objections by other students.

“In response, the next day the Student Bar Association Executive Board derecognized the chapter, stating the Christian Legal Society-University of Montana's Statement of Faith requirement and its interpretation to prohibit sexual relationships outside of marriage for its voting members and leaders violated the Student Bar Association nondiscrimination rule,” the lawsuit states.

The group also contends that when asked to reverse the decision, Eck upheld the Student Bar Association's decision.

“To date, CLS-UM has still not been told how its membership and leadership policies conflict with any SBA bylaw,” the group states in its complaint, adding: “The SBA is facially flawed in that it provides unbridled discretion to the SBA and law school student body and does not adequately ensure against viewpoint discrimination.”

I e-mailed the President of the Student Bar Association for an opposing point of view, and was told all questions were being referred to UM Legal Counsel David Aronofsky, who is out of the country until Jan. 20th. The lawyer is already quoted in the article as wanting to study the case further.

Without seeing those e-mail objections it's difficult to say who is right or wrong, but it might be interesting to learn about the group Instapundit speaks up for.

Here's their homepage.

The aren't libertarians. Go to the right hand column and follow the link urging dismissal of a lawsuit against Kentucky Christian College. It seems the State of Kentucky gave this private university a few million to build a school for pharmacists, and its only open to students who accept the college's policy about only having sex in a marriage. It may be enforced slightly more aggressively against homosexuals.

According to Medical Right Watch they are involved in back door attempts to fight Roe VS Wade.

Here's an opinion from FindLaw:

Turning to the political context, the CEF case was brought by the Christian Legal Society on the merits, with the National Legal Foundation, another Christian organization, submitting an amicus (friend of the court) brief. These two organizations are part of a larger movement dedicated to re-introducing Christianity into the public schools -- and, failing that, to siphoning public funds from the public schools to private religious schools and home-schoolers.

The political reality is that these organizations are using equality principles to further Christian ends; except in the courts, their devotion is not to equality, but rather to Christianity above all other faiths.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

In Vitrio fertilization

Futurepundit links to an article in the British Times Online about embryos being destroyed at British fertility clinics. He writes some interesting stuff about how this might change in a few decades, and a little about the contrast between the American religious right protesting stem cell research and remaining silent about this.

For those who truly believe the destruction of a fertilized human egg is murder, there must be a terrific internal cost to remaining silent about IV fertilization. There are indeed Christians who won't use it, but none who speak loudly of it in the national political arena - at least in the United States.

What Erick on Redstate calls the New York-Washington Corridor of Conservative Intelligentsia is willing to tolerate the overturning of Roe VS Wade. They don't live in the states which might outlaw abortion, and could afford to have it done safely and secretly if their daughters needed one, whatever the law. Fertility treatments are more expensive - a genuine industry. An attack on those would show who finances the Republican tent, and who is tolerated as long as they shut up and vote Republican.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Say Hello to Friday Lunch Club

Friday Lunch Club has an ambitious plan.

Striking a balance, maintaining a wealthy blog, keeping one's sources anonymous while prodding the readers' interest is a blogger necessary baptism. Posting here will be episodic at first, hoping to graduate to a regular blurb soon after. Don't give up on me too early in the game, and remember, dead blogs don't deserve an epitaph!

Unlike Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, I don't do 'Say Hello' posts each time I add to my blog roll. I think Friday Lunch club deserves one though, it's the most underrated new blog I've seen so far. As far as I can tell they haven't developed any ananymous sources yet. They do a great job in posting from and linking to English language media from elsewhere in the world that most American bloggers may not be regularly monitoring, including the Lebanese Daily Star and AsiaTimes. When they link to American sources, these are often academic sources such as Syriacomment and the American Prospect, or and the Small Wars Journal, rather then the few large media sources that almost everyone quotes from and blogs about.

I was a little put off by yet another poll about the Isreal lobby - until I saw the post about the Saudi lobby.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Turkish rhetoric with Iraqi Kurds heats up

Via Friday Lunch Club, the Belgravia Dispatch is monitoring the chance of Turkey sending troops into the Kurdish area of Iraq.

They quote several sources, including the London Financial Times:

Turkey's top general called yesterday for military intervention in northern Iraq in comments that will increase regional tensions - already high after a series of verbal exchanges between Turkish and Kurdish leaders.

Turkey is accusing the Iraqi Kurds of sheltering Turkish (Kurdish) rebels - and building up troops on the border.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An anonymous commenter pointed out

An anonymous commenter pointed out that my post before last about this wasn't complete.

From Foreign Policy magazine, an interview with Nibras Kazimi:

My mother’s family is Kurdish, and they’re Talibanis. My mother’s village was targeted during the Anfal. They dug up the cemeteries, and my grandfather’s grave was dug up. They were stamping out traces of people. It was vindictive, and it wasn’t unique to my mother’s village. It happened across many of the villages that were affected by the Anfal campaign. And through marriage, we had relatives who were directly affected by the chemical bombings at Halabja. On my father’s side, the ones that had registered as Persian nationals rather than as Ottoman nationals were deported to Iran. Some of the young men were seized, and they spent years in prison, some of them executed. You know, the usual Iraq story. My father’s people were Shiite Arabs from Kazimiya, a formerly independent town that has become a northern suburb of Baghdad. It’s actually where Saddam was executed, in the military intelligence complex.

So both sides of his family experienced terrible atrocities from Saddam and his allies. His father's family was indeed Sunni - but Sunni Kurds. Few of us have ever demonstrated the sort of forgiveness that would enable us to criticize him. At the same time, the people who have been put in charge of American forces after hard experience both say we cannot win this war by force alone. If they are wrong, someone should come up with a better plan than that of Petraeus and Gates. If they are right, we need to remember that Nibras Kazimi isn't an ally of those with a realistic plan for victory. This civil war will not lead to an extinction of all violent Sunni's, but of a generation brought up to believe that suicide bombing is heroic. At best the infighting gives us a little time. I don't know if Al Qaeda can change course again or not, but even if not history has many examples of civil wars breeding more and more violence and hatred, rather than leading to the death of the violent and peace.

I'd like to buy a clue

Pat Sajak has an opinion about global warming - sort of.

I mean what are they doing personally. If I'm driving an SUV or living in a big house, they can accuse me of callous disregard for the problem, but at least the callousness is based on my non-belief. What about them? Why are they still driving that big car or living in that big house?

Needless to say, he doesn't go on to express respect for those who drive Corolla's or Prius's.

In fact, why are they driving at all? Why haven't they moved into a minimalist home within walking distance of their office? Talk about callous!

Imagine being absolutely certain we are the verge of a man-made catastrophe and not doing everything within your power to help reverse it. Anyone who truly believes it and still uses anything more than the lowest-wattage single bulb or drives one mile more than absolutely necessary is nothing short of a monster! A skeptic's actions can be blamed on ignorance; a believer's can only be chalked up to a shocking disregard for his children's futures.

I take it he doesn't apply this to people like W who've grudgingly acknowledged there's a problem - only to liberals.

Nobody knows the time frame for certain - or the scale. Rebuilding more urban areas so people can comfotably live without cars is a great idea. Meanwhile, even Sajak only says 'the direct link between man and the warming is much more tenuous'. Why doesn't Sajak do a little bit to avert potential catastrophe - as when you buy insurance for a car accident or house fire you don't think is likely?

Nibras Kazimi of Talisman Gate is a Shia partisan - though he may call himself secular.

Notes on Counterinsurgency and De-Ba'athification

Talisman Gate’s Counterinsurgency Recommendations: Al-Hayat reports today that Iraqi officials are planning to wall-in certain Baghdad neighborhoods within concrete barriers as part of the new security plan. An unidentified source at the Ministry of Interior told Al-Hayat that the neighborhoods that are to be walled-in are four predominately Sunni ones (Dora, ‘Amiriya, Al-‘Adel, and ‘Adhamiya), another predominately Shi’a one (Sadr City) and one mixed (Hai al-‘Amil).

This sound a lot like one of the counterinsurgency plans I was advocating four months ago: Go Smart (December 1, 2006). But I would have also added other Sunni neighborhoods and satellite towns such as Hai al-Jami’a, Khadra’, Yarmouk, Ghazalia, Jihad, Mushahdeh, Khan Dhari, Mahmoudiya, Yusufiya, and ‘Arab Jbour.

It doesn’t make sense to close-off Shi’a areas since the biggest danger from these neighborhoods would be death squads aimed at Sunnis; if the Sunni neighborhoods are already secure then there’s no need to close off Sadr City, which would have serious economic ramifications on Baghdad’s economy and services by bottlenecking the movement and circulation of the capital's workforce.

What about death squads aimed at Sunnis in non Sunni (mixed) areas? Or how about demonstrations like the very recent one sponsored by Al Sadr?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iraqi Parliment bombing roundup

This roundup on the Iraqi Parliment bombing comes with a hat tip to Avedon Carol of The Sideshow who showed us how roundups are done, and Technorati which made it possible. This is my first roundup, pardon the plaster please. I'm sure the majority of blogging on this subject hasn't been finished yet, and better and more thorough roundups will follow. The early bird may get the worm, but the early worm gets eaten. I've used Technorati to make sure I catch posts by new blogs I haven't seen yet - but some of the big blogs have probably posted things that Technorati hasn't spidered yet.

Time Bandit thinks we have a civil war because we went in without a plan. Connecticut Bob looks cynically at Joe Lieberman's talk of improving circumstances in Iraq. America's North Shore Journal just links to CNN, and cautions us to take early reports with a grain of salt. Brain, Symbol, Experience has a vivid picture of a major bridge bombed at the same time. The Democratic Daily says ironically that the surge is working, and asks if McCain wants to go for another walk. The San Francisco Journal fears a downward spiral. Thoughts of an Average Woman has some sarcastic thoughts about people who've been telling us how things are getting better. Open Diary reminds us this is supposed to be the most heavily guarded part of Bagdad.

I suspect my Technorati search for 'Iraqi Parliment' didn't catch everything. The first few links all referred to the recent bombing, then they were about the oil law and other events involving the Iraqi Parliment.

Crowdsourcing Deluxe - real services for play money

It's illegal to print money - even if you don't disguise it as government currency. That's why casino's can't accept each others chips - before you know it they would be competing with the Federal Reserve.

How about Blogshares? On one level it's a casual web browser game. You can buy and sell shares of blogs as if they were companies. The number of links from other blogs and recent blogshare buying and selling both figure into the price. One way to make an (imaginary) profit is to figure out which blogs will be growing in the near future - before other players do. It's a casual web browser game though, and you can make a profit easier than that. Buy a big block of almost any blog 'stock', then make smaller purchases over time. Then sell it all. Unless you pick a blog with a high P.E. (basically an overpriced blog, since there's no real earnings, just a measure of the number of links) you'll make a profit, since it goes up each time you buy. After you sell it all as a block, better pick a different blog stock - it didn't go all the way down.

This may sound easy, but it can be compulsive - and plenty of browser based games are no more complex than that and still get many players. Anyhow, there's much more to the game than that - if you want to be one of the top players. You can earn chips and karma by voting to characterize blogs by 'industry' - that is, political blog, science blog, business blog, craft blog, education blog ect. There is more than one level (liberal and conservative political blogs). You can earn sigma and chips by looking for inactive and deleted blogs. The end result is that if you want a list of active liberal (or conservative) blogs, blogshares is one of the best places to go. Unlike other blog directories, they don't rely on bloggers to register their own blogs - they use spiders, and players have incentives to find new blogs - and categorize old ones. Bloggers also have no incentive to delete their own inactive blog from a directory when they lose interest in it.

Blogshares cash (B$), chips, karma, and sigma all cost the game owners nothing. The game seems to be a labor of love, supported in part by donations. For a few dollars a month you get unlimited trading and other advantages. Oh yes, they also sell advertising for cash to google and others. Even if they need volunteers to keep going, there's potential here - getting people to do real work for imaginary money. This seems to go one better for the Mechanical Turk model of crowdsourcing.

The blog index without the game can be found at QuackTrack.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Adsense nonsense

I was hoping adsense was just showing me the public service ads because advertisers didn't want to pay to advertise to the owner of the page displaying them, but apparently not.

Light blogging ahead

My wife is getting ready for an operation - a minor one but she's very nervous. The weather is turning beautiful around here and getting out a bit might be good for both of us. Blogging may be light the next few days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Milestones for bloggers

A link from one of the bigger bloggers in no substitute for creating something that will keep people coming back on their own, but it sure is encouraging. My link to a Welcome to Pottersville post quoted three short paragraphs, just enough to encourage people to click through - supposing I had any readers who hadn't read it. Fortunately jurassicpork is successful enough not to begrudge me the link from BuzzFlash, which I assume they gave to me because Welcome to Pottersville's whole point was to encourage new bloggers.

Thanks again to both of them!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Help for smaller bloggers like me

Vie Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, I found a great post on blogging from Welcome To Pottersville.

2) You ever heard of Buzzflash? Send them your best stuff, see if they bite. It took me about a year before I started getting linked regularly on Buzzflash (although 8 times out of 10 it's to a NY Times op-ed piece that I drag from behind the firewall) but more and more they link to me for my stuff. God only knows who goes to Buzzflash but the sheer number is staggering and you never know who it is. They have a separate site called (near the top of the .com index page, on the right) for the express purpose of whoring your own posts and sometimes, without having to email the Buzzflash editors directly, they'll pick up on something on the .net site and link to it.

3) Email journalists, let them know what you think about a story they’ve written (and actually read it: Writers hate it when you pretend to read something they’d slaved over just to suck up to them when you betray that you really didn’t. I get that all the time, or, even worse, when I get flamed for something that Frank Rich wrote) and make sure your URL is in the tagline of your email. Max Blumenthal linked to me on The Nation last month on his own. So serendipity and sheer, dumb luck also plays a part.

4) Without sucking up the A listers, as I've patently refused to do since I set up Pottersville late last June, continue whoring your blog in the comments section. If the webmasters get pissed off at you, tough shit. Whales collect barnacles. If they ban you, they ban you and you’re really no worse off since they were never paying any attention to you, anyway (Interesting fact: The more blogs from which I get banned, the higher my readership gets. I cannot understand it, myself but it’s a fact. Every month without exception that Pottersville’s been up has been better than the last in terms of hits, sessions, page views, etc). However, I wouldn’t recommend this tactic if you’re just starting out. It sucks to be banned, especially if you’re not given a reason as to why.

I'm what they call a late adapter. I'm just starting to use google feedreader.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I've been reading about Blogroll Amnesty day (If you're one of the few blog readers who hasn't heard about it, there are some links an my sidebar. I've been thinking about my own linking policy.

I'm going to try to build a sidebar of great blogs that might actually be useful to people looking for blogs they haven't subscribed to yet.

I will almost always do reciprocal links with active blogs. There would have to be something about a blog I very much disliked for me not to link to them after they linked to me. This is true even if I'm on a huge sidebar, provided it's on your front page.

I'll do linkers one better. I'll actually read your blog sometimes after linking, and I'll link to posts I find especially interesting, and move a blog out of the generic liberal and conservative category when I find something more notable about it. I don't read every blog every day, so you could always e-mail me a link to a specific post.

I hope someday I'll have enough traffic that I won't have time to add everyone who links to me to my sidebar. I'll put up a reciprocal linking widget then, but I'll try to look at as many of them as I can.

Friday, April 06, 2007

One inch forward, ten feet backward.

Bush has gone from distancing himself from measures of global warming to trying to make pacts with Brazil and China to share technology. As many pointed out gleefully when Gore tried it, such carbon offsets mean little with no cap and trade system in place - but he was no longer ignoring the problem.

The National Review Online was kind enough to print a transcript of a Fred Thompson radio broadcast, so we know what we'll get if the Republicans nominate and get him elected.

Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.

He doesn't actually say none are cooling - or give a percentage. Never mind that. The best way to decide if solar radiation is causing warming is probably to observe the sun. Gristmill is an environmental site - but they include links to the original research.

This is a job for satellites. According to PMOD at the World Radiation Center there has been no increase in solar irradiance since at least 1978, when satellite observations began. This means that for the last thirty years, while the temperature has been rising fastest, the sun has not changed.

There has been work done reconstructing the solar irradiance record over the last century, before satellites were available. According to the Max Planck Institute, where this work is being done, there has been no increase in solar irradiance since around 1940. This reconstruction does show an increase in the first part of the 20th century, which coincides with the warming from around 1900 until the 1940s. It's not enough to explain all the warming from those years, but it is responsible for a large portion. See this chart of observed temperature, modeled temperature, and variations in the major forcings that contributed to 20th century climate.

Now let's ask - suppose we keep increasing our production of greenhouse gases - and the sun begins to warm again. Meanwhile, tell me if you find an alternative reading of these two sets of data from global warming 'skeptics', or if they merely repeat that the sun has warmed over much longer periods.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Sideshow links to the latest round of questions about who or what Petraeus met with. If it's really true that some Republicans voted for the surge but demand progress by August, it seems to me the worst of both worlds. Petraues has already said that the surge can only buy time for the Iraqi government to deal with the Sunni's. How long will it take them to get started - and how long before results begin to show?

There's a danger people who believe in the war will feel obligated to pretend every temporary dip in the violence is permanent progress, even if they know troops have been moved around, making things better in some areas but worse in others. Like the surge - Petraeus said it will only buy time, but so many Republicans seem to want to pretend it represents real progress ... setting Americans up for more disillusionment.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Powerful Shiite opposes return of Baath Party members
BAGHDAD: The most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq has rejected an American-backed proposal to allow thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to return to government service, an aide to the cleric said Monday.

The rejection appears certain to fuel further sectarian hostility between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, since many Sunnis say they were unfairly purged from the government in the clampdown on the Baath Party.

The Americans say a partial reversal of the strict "de-Baathfication" process is one of the most crucial steps the Iraqi government can take in wooing back disenfranchised Sunni Arabs and draining the Sunni-led insurgency of its fervor.

The latest proposal was announced by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani on March 26 at the strong urging of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the senior American envoy to Iraq, who left his job last week. American officials were instrumental in drafting the proposal.

But an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered, reclusive Shiite cleric, said Monday that there was a "general feeling of rejection" over the proposal.

There are many in the Iraqi government who don't seem to be working as hard as they can on uniting Iraq. I can't judge this proposal for myself, but if there's hope at all we should trust Petraeus and Gates. Our negotiators need to make it clear that if they want us to keep our troops in there they have to work towards peace.

Bush needs to say that while he can veto troop time limits for now, the Iraqi government needs to work harder. That's right, instead of calling his opponents unpatriotic, use them for leverage. And yes, at least some Democrats need to emphasize they'll be much less likely to support this sort of legislation in the future if genuine progress is made - before a president who might not veto it comes into office.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I sometimes suspect that people who talk about government programs harming the poor by creating dependency are actually indulging angst about their hard earned tax dollars and harming the world their children will grow up in, but NYC Mayor Bloomberg has provided strong evidence my suspicions don't apply to him.

NEW YORK — Good behavior at school, regular trips to the doctor and job training all have long-term rewards — but soon city officials will be offering some residents a more immediate payoff for such accomplishments: cash.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Via Delusions of Grandeur I've discovered a post on the blog Political Friends, which I quote in part:

Giving our enemies “aid and comfort” is treason. Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to realize that their words are being reported in the Middle East. Our enemies our praying to Allah for an end to the Iraqi War similar to the end of the Vietnam War. We didn’t loose in Vietnam, we beat ourselves.

OK, so let's make this a hypothetical question. Suppose that when the Soviet Union still existed and was fighting in Afghanistan, a Soviet citizen had made the argument that the war could not be won, and that the troops would have to be brought home. He might of course have died suddenly, but suppose he was given a show trial instead. Surely he would be accused of giving 'aid and comfort' to the enemy. It may even be that the enemies of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan would have trumpeted his words gleefully. The fact would have remained, from a military perspective the Soviet Union would have been better off following his advice. It may even be the Mujadeen would have been worse off, since the Afghans fell to fighting amoung themselves soon after the enemy left.

If you study the 'Lessons Learned' of Vietnam, a study done by our military after losing the war, you'll discover they don't blame it on Dan Rather or the media. One of the many differences between us and the defunct Soviet Union is that protesters could never have fought so openly against the war without being accused of treason. There are some who think the Soviet Union was stronger than us in that regard, but I say, 'Why do they always blame America first?'. We're still around.

As Andy D. points out in a later post, these messages have many recipients. It seems the government of Iraq is more willing to negotiate with the Sunni's now that they know we won't back them eternally without regard to what they do. For this reason among others, I hope we can do better than withdraw from Iraq - leaving a breeding ground of the most educated and technologically advanced potential nuke building terrorists in the world. But if the American people and their representatives are not prepared for an occupation of similar length to our troop presence in Japan and Germany, it is because George W. Bush continually told people things would be easier and quicker than they could reasonably have been expected to be.

Petraeus and Gates have both said that to succeed in Iraq will will have to negotiate with people we have reason not to like. Here it is the right that is in opposition. It seems there are indeed many terrorists who fear Bush more than the Democrats - but how far do we respect their judgement? Bush represents the sort of threat they can understand.

If Andy D. responds to this, I hope he'll do it in a new post, since the original one is now deep in his archives.

Americans with Neteller Accounts Circus - err, carnival.

Not too much news, I may make this monthly soon.

If you had serious Neteller money, unlike me, you might want to read this.

Neteller, the DOJ, and the IRS

After talking with the US Attourney's office, Neteller has decided they need help from Navigant consulting to give us our money back. Who is Navigant consulting? No relation to John Galt, clearly.

Samuel K. Skinner is on the board of directors.

Prior to joining Commonwealth Edison, he served as Chief of Staff to President George Bush. Prior to his White House service, Mr. Skinner served in the President’s cabinet for nearly three years as Secretary of Transportation and was credited with numerous successes, including the development of the President’s National Transportation Policy and the passage of landmark aviation and surface transportation legislation.

And, oh yes, he they did work for Unesco.

The seven consulting contracts with the Navigant Consulting between
June, 2005 and August 2006 for a handsome sum of 2,14 million Dollars
entered into without calling for tenders was in breach of the financial
regulations of the UNESCO. Peter Smith had insisted to go ahead with the
seventh contract with the same team, despite the UNESCO Committee of
Contracts, evaluated the proposals for the seventh contract as vague,
and in no way different from the mediocrity of the previous stage of the

Thursday, March 29, 2007

PrestoPundit found someone who has the goods on Fred Thompson:

Michael Barone slams the charlatan from Tennessee.

No wait. It's an attack on Al Gore, talking about all his imperfections and not mentioning those of his opponents.

Don of Liberally Conservative seems to accuse me of libel in the comment he left on the post before last. I don't know if he would care to repeat that on his blog. It is unconstitutional to convict Ms. Goodling of a crime based on her taking the fifth, or use it as evidence towards such a conviction. It is not unconstitutional for people not involved in such a trial to discuss it and form opinions.

Our troops are stretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is danger from Iran. How should we deal with Saudi Arabia? J.J Jackson of The American Conservative Daily has a plan.

Keep talking. We’re reloading.

I think you fellas over there with your turbans and your robes and your camels better watch it. Remember we know all about those radical Madrasahs that you guys are running and turning out little jihadis.

I wonder how Arabs from non-Saudi countries will respond - including those with whom Bush is currently trying to work.

Liberally Conservative is liberally confused about the fifth amendment.

The big LC quotes:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


“I have read public remarks by members of both the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary in which those members have drawn conclusions about the subject matter and the testimony now under investigation by the Committee.”


Ms. Goodling is being asked to testify before congress about certain matters - not being tried in court for a crime. Is LC saying she should be on trial in criminal court? He should contact a public prosecutor.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I hope this turns out to be much more literally true than Karol Sheinin intends.

*It's a bad idea to say anything even marginally insulting about Fred Thompson right now. He's steak and conservatives are starving.

It's possible he's not a bad guy, but he's a pretty smooth operator. A bunch of starving conservatives ripping him to shreds and chewing him up might do him a world of good.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The weather has turned beautiful where I am all of the sudden. One day it was in the fifties, the next day I leave my jacket at work when going out for lunch. March came in like a lion and went out like a lambchop.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Welcome to the March 27, 2007 edition of Carnival of Americans with Neteller.

It was my own experiences with Neteller that made me think of starting this carnival. Before doing so, I wondered how to decide which posts to include. By my most recent count, zero posts were submitted by bloggers other than myself. Something's got to be left out, so I'll leave out a few of the interesting links I found - but post some of the others.

This announcement from Neteller may not be quite as good as it sounds at first glance.

When will US customers get their money back?

The recent agreements between NETELLER, Navigant Consulting, and the US Attorney’s Office (USAO)
represent an important step in the process of an orderly distribution
of funds to US customers. These agreements outline the terms and atimeline under which NETELLER
will work toward distributing the funds. As a result, the Group
anticipates that within the next 75 days it will be able to announce
the plan by which the funds will be distributed to US customers.

'Important step', 'anticipates'? In 75 days they will not have paid or even begin paying, but announce a plan. Ah well.

It appears you may be able to do non peer to peer transfers to non gambling sites - maybe. From their questions and answers:

"Why has my NETELLER account been closed? Can I do peer-to-peer transfers?

If you recently performed a Peer-to-Peer transfer, your account may have
been temporarily closed. Your account should be automatically re-opened
within a few weeks, but you will no longer be able to perform
Peer-to-Peer transfers."

None of the links below were actually sent to the carnival - I'm just linking to things that might be of interest.

Big Poker blogs didn't send this to the carnival, but it will make most of
us feel better about the amount of our potential losses.

Isaac Haxton Stuck $800k in Neteller Shakedown

Isaac Haxton finishes second in the Caribeen Poker Adventure on January 10, 2007 and banks $861,789. PokerStars then dumps his winnings into his online poker account. The very next day Neteller's founders are arrested and soon after Neteller
freezes U.S. accounts, which they eventually admit were seized as
evidence by the U.S. Government to the tune of $55 million, $800k of
which isHaxton's. We'd say he's fired up about being stuck huge by the U.S. government in this video interview with, but he's not, strangely enough.

Click through for the video.

Hopefully the Neteller info in Lou Krieger's post is now outdated - but I don't know for sure. Just in case, let's see what some customers are doing.

Neteller Customers Form Coalition and Contemplate Legal Action
More than 250 frustrated Neteller customers organized into a group called the Neteller Customer Coalition. Members of that group are furious over Neteller’s decision to deny US customers access to their funds.

According to the group’s Eric Goldstein, “more and more people are losing patience every day, and these people better hear some good news from Neteller very soon.” The group is been considering initiating legal action against Neteller as early as March 19.According to Goldstein, the group has grown quickly since its inception back in late February, with an average of 30-40 new members daily.

What happens to those with overseas addresses? This is only for Americans, right? Let's ask Bill Rini:

February 4, 2007 @ 1:15 am · Filed under Poker, Online Poker

I recently wrote about the process I’ve been going through to get my Neteller account changed to my overseas residence. This is a follow up.

I sent them my bank account statement to prove that I wasn’t
somebody trying to pull a fast one on them but I never heard back. I
called them this weekend to find out what the status was as I had been
previously told that I should have heard back by now. I was put on the
phone with some guy namedWai who was clueless. At first he started to
tell me that I need to set up a new account. I told him I already did
that and then he told me that I needed to send over documents that
indicated I lived overseas. When I told him that I’ve already done the
previous two steps he said that he saw that noted in my file. Now why
the hell would you tell me to do the previous two steps if you already
know that I’ve done them?!?

I immediately ask to speak to a
supervisor and he puts me on hold. He comes back and tells me that I
have to send a request to some special email address atNeteller . I ask
why since he already has my request sitting right in front of him. He
insists that I send the email. I ask to speak to his supervisor again
and he tells me that they’re going to tell me the same thing. EveryCSR
says that so I insist again. He says that the supervisors don’t wish to
speak to me! We go back and forth a bit and then I lay down an
ultimatum on him. I tell him to either put me through to a supervisor
or hang up on me. He goes silent on the phone. I can hear other
activity in the background and I can hear him breathing so I know he’s
still on the line. This goes on for about 5 minutes. Literally for five
whole minutes there’s nothing on the line but silence. Finally I hear
the hold music and a few minutes later he comes back on and thanks me
for holding and puts his supervisor on the line.

Click through for the rest.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
Carnival of Americans with Neteller using the links in the upper right hand corner of this post.
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, .

Once in awhile I've learned about genuine errors in the media from Countercolumn, but it's important to be careful. Jason did the wrong search here. Anyone can make an error, but when you consider the bile I've heard him pour on the New York Times for their errors (not always real errors) he should he glad they're too busy to write about him.

Corporal Jason Dunham, the first Marine to have recieved the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq, will have a destroyer named after him.

The New York Times never wrote a story on him.

As I commented in his comment section, he should have searched for Jason L. Dunham. Jason of Countercolumn left out the L, although he had the same clue I did - Jason links to something that refers to the Congressional Medal of Honor winner that way.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fred Thompson is the Republican presidential candidate the Religious Right loves to love - and he hasn't even said he's running.

Here are a couple of comments I happened on at No Silence Here.


Senator Thompson would destroy the Republican field in the primaries and annihialate whomever the democrats nominate. Please run, Senator. And let me know how to contribute.
Posted by: Edward McNally at March 23, 2007 01:08 PM

How can an average American let Fred Thompson know how strongly he would be supported by the average Republican who is scared to death by all of the other Republican candidates? I want him to know that he is not just the ONLY choice for Republicans at this time - but the BEST choice for our entire NATION. I want to let him know how I (and many other conservatives) feel about this.
Posted by: David at March 23, 2007 04:31 PM


Please run for the Republican Nomination.

The county needs a Strong Leader and no one else in either party comes close to your qualifications.

Sign me up as a volunteer.

Jay F Jones
Posted by: Jay F Jones at March 23, 2007 10:09 PM

We need and want Fred Thompson to run!!!!
Run, Fred, Run!!!
Posted by: Donna Dallman at March 24, 2007 01:02 AM

If you want to let Fred Thompson know you support him go to and leave a comment on a couple of the blogs there. one is Fred Thompson should run for President. The other is Update on Fred Thompson.
Posted by: Ginny at March 24, 2007 09:06 AM

I have admired Fred for a long time he is a great American and I will gladly volunteer to help him to become president of this great country. I am a conservative living in New England where we have a one party system (liberal Democrats) and would like nothing better than to help put Fred and the Republican party back in the majority to help stop the lunacy that we are seeing in the Congress.
Posted by: Eric Carroll at March 24, 2007 09:07 AM

Fred should definitely run. He'll make a great president.
Posted by: spacemonkey at March 24, 2007 09:45 AM

Please run for President Senator Thompson, the country needs you.
Posted by: Robert at March 24, 2007 09:47 AM

Please run for President Senator Thompson, the country needs you.
Posted by: Robert at March 24, 2007 09:48 AM

Sign me up as a volunteer.
Posted by: William Casey at March 24, 2007 10:17 AM

Under the circumstances, I think it's worthwhile trying to learn what makes him tick.

Here's some campaign contribution data from OpenSecrets.Org for his 1996 senatorial campaign cycle. This isn't everyone whose supported him by any mean, but I think it's a good snapshot and a good start. The campaign and the examination has begun - many of the donors don't ring a bell ... yet. I'll just talk about a few that mean something to me.

The first category listed is Agriculture: Crop Production. I see a lot of sugar companies and some Florida based agriculture, in addition to more general names that are less revealing. Whether you agree or disagree with the Cuban embargo, some of the biggest supporters are in the Florida sugar industry - because they had property confiscated by Castro, and just possibly because it helps keep sugar prices high.

Ten donors in the tobacco industry. Plenty of people have written about the tobacco lobby already.

Lots of agriculture and food processing generally. Not necessarily a bad thing, though supports meant for small farmers seem to gravitate towards big industries.

Fifteen donors in foresty and forest products. I'm not sure how much the president will be involved in that, but we still have a few patches of very old redwoods left.

Lots of donors in the entertainment industry - natural enough for an actor. Liberal Hollywood doesn't seem to have taken a dislike to him. I wonder what he's done for them.

There's a huge block of donors in the construction industry. I wonder what that means.

Some defense industry, not an extraordinary amount. I guess most Senators have at least as much.

Most of his energy donors seem to be in the oil and gas industry - and there's a large block of them. Most big electric generators don't burn oil nowadays, and Detroit may be a bigger obstacle to better fuel economy than the oil industry, which known prices are high enough to destabalize a good thing already. This may mean nothing worse than a few more government subsidies to the oil industry. On the other hand, remember some big royalty problems? It could cost more than we realize.

Lots of Banks, investment, insurance and real estate donors. If we are in a real estate bubble, and reforms are required to prevent it from happening again, he may listen closely to their opinion.

A huge block of health care industry and some pharmacy. I wonder how they'll lobby on any health care reforms in the pipeline.

Look at all those law firms! Someone should compare him with John Edwards. I think the right had something to say about that when he was the recipient. Then again, I haven't analyzed any of his donors. If anyone sees that anywhere please leave a comment.

There's a page or so of auto industry donors. This man will probably find it hard to impove fuel economy. These donors may mean more in that regard than the oil companies above.

He's got support from twelve labor unions - might not be terrible for the working person, although he has some much bigger blocks of donors elsewhere. Six are public sector unions, interestingly enough.

There's a lot of PAC's worth investigating in the ideology/single issue section, but NRA and Free Cuba are obvious enough. I'm not sure if those pro Isreal PAC's are all in Isreal's interest - or if some of them get us to support hawkish policies which don't help them in the long run.

He does have some civil servant and education donors.

There's one heck of a lot to study in here - I'll probably have to leave the other candidates to other people. I guess I'll need help with Fred too, but you gotta start somewhere.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I used to feel bad sometimes about playing poker online, not because I lost but because I won. I played for low stakes, and probably earned less than minimum wage, but I won more than I lost. I did it mostly by playing at tables where one or several players were really careless.

I still don't know how many if any of the people I encountered were compulsive gamblers. There were people who were nasty to other people in order to get them upset and make them lose money - I never did this but I saw it. There were other people who were nasty to people already losing money merely to pump up their own egos. This drove me crazy - it was not only nasty, but cost both of us money. I never actually complimented the people losing money - I wouldn't encourage someone who might or might not be a compulsive gambler.

Now the Feds have kindly taken all this out of my hands, to the best of their ability. Instead of being grateful, I wonder how many of the people in the smoky government owned off track betting parlours are compulsive gamblers. Their website (compulsive gamblers don't click this) offers betting by phone and credit card transfers. I think the money is supposed to go to education, but they show much less return on capital than most bookies, perhaps due to policial appointees in many jobs. They seem to advertise rather aggressively sometimes.

Now what I want to know is, can I do something with my Neteller account? The government has seized some bank accounts. Even though Neteller can't let Americans withdraw, they seem to be letting them spend their money - but not at gambling sites, or on person to person transfers. This web designer seems to take Neteller, but I haven't tried them yet. I might. I'm looking into bidding the money on Yahoo Auctions, I'm not sure if it's still possible.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fox now has a new top video up:

"As Gore gets set to testify, hometown paper exposes zinc mine on his property!"

Funny thing though, there was an editorial in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago. Maybe a little misleading though, they don't make it clear if Gore has any power over those already sold mineral rights, and he sure doesn't over the rest of the Zinc company.

Al Gore, Environmentalist and Zinc Miner
By Micah Morrison
The Wall Street Journal

That's right buddy. The Chinese don't do it in Tibet, and the Russians don't do it in Chechenya. People in either country could get a call from the police if they did it in the press. Which of the three (including us) would you rather live in? I've made my choice. Funny thing, you blame Americans first, but not America, huh? Or just those who aren't your type of American.

"They always blame America first." That was Jeane Kirkpatrick, describing the "San Francisco Democrats" in 1984. But it could be said about a lot of Americans, especially highly educated Americans, today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Does the second amendment really mean that anyone can carry any arm they want under any circumstances?

After reading some ideas that seemed odd to me, I used google. I wasn't sure of the bias of the pages I was reading, so I eventually visited wikipedia, which is attacked by conservatives more often than it is by liberals.

It took a long time for me to become convinced that the clause 'a well regulated militia' wasn't intended to allow the federal government to keep certain people from having guns, or certain guns, or restrict the circumstances under which they might have them. I couldn't find any federal gun control laws predating 1934. Would the founding fathers have really inserted this clause to allow such laws, then forgot to pass the laws? Maybe they didn't consider them needed at the time, but knew machine guns might be invented in a few hundred years, and ...

Not even when pigs fly. Live pigs may be shipped by airplane tomorrow, but that still won't make any sense.

It seems my informant,

Published: Aug 1, 2001 Author: Vin Suprynowicz
Posted on 08/01/2001 20:37:44 PDT by athiestwithagun

is correct. Whatever else well regulated may mean, it can't mean regulated by the government, or the founding fathers violated the document they had just written by failing to regulate gun ownership.

So what about nuclear weapons? My informant gives a closely reasoned response, which you may want to reread (previous link) to check my summary.

Either the American people have the right to nuclear weapons or they don't. If they don't, they can't delegate what they don't have to their government, which had better get rid of all nukes immediately. If they do, the government 'shall not infringe the right to bear arms'.

How seductive is the old siren song: "Come on, prove you're REASONABLE; admit you don't have any NEED for a nuclear warhead."

But once we start down that road, won't they also wheedle and cajole and nag us into stipulating that we don't really "need" a tank ... a howitzer ... a shoulder-launched missile ... a machine gun ... a semi-automatic rifle ... anything, finally, beyond an unloaded black-powder ceremonial flintlock with a plugged barrel that we're allowed to take out of the police locker only long enough to carry in the Fourth of July parade?

I follow the logic, but come to a different conclusion. The constitution is not a suicide pact. By agreeing we expect our government to prevent people from building and keeping nukes (whether they are portable enough to 'bear' or not) we acknowledge that the constitution is a living document. Anyone who insists gun registration is unconstitutional is on a slippery slope that might undermine the government's ability to protect us from terrorism.

Or you could make a case that the government had better get rid of all it's nukes, that it has the right to protect us from nukes, but not to possess them itself.

Plenty of nuclear weapons ARE possessed by all kinds of people, including the kind that wear turbans. Government "safeguards" are a joke. Think no hijacker could get past the Fred & Ethel Mertz Security System down at the local airport if they really tried? It took Capt. Marcinko only a matter of minutes to penetrate the supposedly ironclad "security" at the American embassy in London -- right through to its ultra-secure "code room." He simply sent a man in a Marine uniform, carrying a clipboard, walking boldly in the side "smokers' door." Last week, the Justice Department revealed that the FBI has lost 449 sidearms and submachine guns -- one of which was even used in a homicide. But we're supposed to believe they've NEVER lost enough plutonium to make a bomb? Noooo. After all, they're not mere fallible mortals. They're "the government." We can "trust" them.

Remember the date near the top of the post. Pre 9/11, so lets try to be fair. Does anyone really think Osama wouldn't have nuked us already if not for preventative measures?

I do detect a few weaknesses here and there. He fails to ask if Waco was a case of rebellion, does not compare it to Shay's rebellion and others. On the other hand, he's right about gun owners needing nukes if they claim they can fight government abuse of power. I haven't seen any that could stand up to a swat team yet.

Friday, March 16, 2007

With Fred Thompson in the running for GOP nominee, this 1996 article from the Washington Monthly may be old enough to be current again. Thanks you Google and for bringing it to me.

This lack of a central passion could pose a problem if the GOP plans to cast Thompson in the role of president. "Reagan was passionate about defense," notes Kopp. "Even if you disagreed with his military spending, you knew it stemmed from his core passion of wanting to protect our country. Thompson doesn't seem passionate about anything except being Ol' Erred. If he wants to hold national office and be another Ronald Reagan Republican, he's got to find a core"

Such criticism is ironic, considering that Thompson makes this exact observation about Richard Nixon in At That Point In Time: "[In Nixon,] I could find no underlying philosophy by which all things could be measured. In the end, I think that this, more than any other factor, caused his undoing. There was no anchor there; there were no roots"

Assuming Thompson can define his philosophy, he still lacks one other vital asset for a presidential candidate: a wife. In this age of family values, the GOP would have a hard time painting a single divorce as the epitome of Norman Rockwell Americana. And word has it Thompson's charm works as well on the ladies as it does with the voters. A friend of his notes that "there's been a long line of women" in the decade since Thompson's divorce, including a semi-serious relationship with country music singer Lorrie Morgan. Says Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chairs the Judiciary Committee on which Thompson sits, "Really lovely women just seem to like Fred"

I didn't see the film, but this review is so odd I had to comment on it. More than half the review talks about the history of global warming science and insinuates this disproves the existence of man made global warming, before even a shred of alleged evidence is discussed.


Monday, March 12, 2007

On Tradesport the prediction that Fred Thompson will be the GOP nominee for President is trading between 7 and 7.2 out of 100. Considering the fact that he hasn't even said for certain he's running yet ...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My wife is getting over a bad cold right now. I hope I'm not coming down with it. I seem to have shaken it off so far.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Instapundit seems to think this is good news.

Commander of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Rahim Safavi, on Wednesday warned the Iraqi Kurd authorities to expel the armed bandits and counterrevolutionaries, linked to the foreigners, from their territories, Fars news agency reported.

"Otherwise, the IRGC forces are ready to sacrifice their lives and defend their country in pursuit of the counterrevolutionary bandits across the border and wipe them out," the IRGC Commander has been quoted as saying.

He made the remarks in a commemoration service held in Orumiyeh, West Azarbaijan Province, for a number of IRGC forces who were martyred in a helicopter crash last week in the area.

He said that members of counterrevolutionary terrorist groups in northwestern Iran are now being surrounded by the Iranian armed forces.

Three commanders of PEJAK terrorist group were killed in Sero region in Orumiyeh, West Azerbaijan Province, by the Islamic Republic armed forces Tuesday, he said.

according to the report, the IRGC Commander said that the US is funding the terrorists groups to act against Iran and the Zionists are training the Iranian counterrevolutionary bandits in northern Iraq.

Before this I was hoping our new General and Defense Secretary might be up to the job. Iraq couldn't let people attacking across their border alone even if they wanted to - and after our words about regime change, they won't trust us enough to work with us either.

Many Democrats are wildly overoptimistic about what will happen when we leave Iraq - to America's reputaion among other things, blue states and red alike. But if the middle east is going up in flames, the people who say there is nothing we can do may be right.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bill Maher's little dance has gotten me thinking. I always used to shrug off talk about the 'angry left'. I always figured that there was a lot more violence from the right then the left, especially when you counted abortion bombers and doctor shootings, and gay bashing. It seemed it only stood to reason. What else defines the history of the Iraq war if not a willingness to believe overwhelming force would lead to an easy and quick victory, as soon as the 'sleeping giant' was woken?

Maher may be slicker than Coulter, but I'm not sure it's a virtue. I've always believed that Coulter's most outrageous remarks said something not merely about Coulter, but the people who fawned on her. How can I fail to wonder the same about Maher? If Ann Coulter's 'lame joke' was calculated to people who dare not fully admit certain fears even to themselves, what about Maher?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bill Maher tells us how he didn't wish Cheney dead. If you follow his links to his own transcript, you can see how closely he flirted with it. If that transcript is too long for you, this doesn't quote out of context.

Plenty of Cheney fans will be criticizing this post, but I do it from the perspective that the administration has done badly and are in danger of continuing to do so, although there is hope that Gates and Petraeus will be an improvement.

Maher: I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.

Apart from how close he came to saying the world would be better if our vice president were assasinated, what kind of fact is that? How would the Bush administration have responded to the assasination of a sitting vice president? Has Maher figured out who would replace Cheney, not as VP but as war advisor to the President?