November 29, 2006

"Busybody CU Bigwig" Ron Stump Decides What Is, Isn't Free Speech

This RMN editorial takes CU administrator Ron Stump to task for exploring legal options against student whose newsletter might have given offense:
University administrators' knees jerk whenever a member of a protected group claims to be offended, whether or not the offense is justified.

So after Ron Stump received complaints that a newsletter distributed by University of Colorado sophomore Max Karson was offensive to women, he jumped right in. Stump, vice chancellor for student affairs in Boulder, told the Daily Camera that CU was investigating whether Karson's newsletter violated any student code of conduct.

"We're looking into it from a legal perspective," Stump said.

If there's a code of conduct that requires students to avoid saying or writing anything offensive, then the legal perspective should be clear: It's the code that has to go, not the offensive speech.

That's the First Amendment in action, and it is an embarrassment to CU that a senior administrator wouldn't understand it.

Other CU officials apparently do understand, and a university spokesman said Thursday that CU would not punish Karson, while expressing strong disapproval of what he wrote. Yes, that's how it's done.

Note that we take no position on whether Karson's newsletter is offensive. Our point is that it makes absolutely no difference to his exercise of his constitutional rights unless what he writes falls into one of the very limited categories of unprotected speech.

Stump told Karson "that as a member of the (CU) community, you have a responsibility to try to protect it."

No, he doesn't. Reasonable people differ on what kind of speech "protects" a community, and public university administrators, who are agents of the government, have neither the legal authority, nor the wisdom, to adjudicate the matter.
Anyone familiar with CU or Stump in particular knows that both the editorial and Stump's new appellation are accurate. In fact, "busybody CU bigwig" is probably the understatement of the year, as far as CU administrators go.


Comcast, Qwest And Xcel Pony Up For Denver's 2008 DNC Bid

Gathering cash to reel in the coveted convention:
Three Fortune 500 companies - citing civic support and not politics - have pledged at least $11.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions for Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Qwest and Comcast have pledged $5 million each, and Xcel Energy $1.5 million, said attorney Steve Farber, co-chairman of Denver's host committee.

The goal is to raise $20 million from the Colorado business community as a part of the $80 million tab for the convention. It would be held at the Pepsi Center in August 2008 and attract an estimated 35,000 attendees to the city.

Denver and New York are finalists for the event.

"Where would you rather be in August?" Farber asked.


November 28, 2006

Pope In Turkey: Day 1

Exhaustive coverage of Pope Benedict's journey to Turkey:
American Papist
relapsed catholic
Pope and Patriarch


Pagosa Springs Peace Wreath Okayed--Removal, Fines Withdrawn

Bill Trimarco and Lisa Jensen stand next to their peace wreath at their home near Pagosa Springs on Friday. The couple received a letter Tuesday from their subdivision’s homeowners’ association telling them to take down the sign or face a fine of $25 per day.
RANDI PIERCE/Special to the Herald

"We put this up without any thoughts of a political message - just peace," Trimarco said. "People are dying everywhere. And this is the season - if you can't say peace now, when can you say it?"
Exactly. 'Tis the season and all.

Jensen said she put up the wreath to honor the biblical call for peace and goodwill toward men.

Peace on Earth in Pagosa Springs as the war on the Christmas peace wreath ends (video):
When Bill Trimarco and Lisa Jensen hung their holiday wreath in the shape of a peace symbol Nov. 19, it touched off a battle within the Loma Linda Homeowners Association board that engulfed the residents of the rural subdivision.

The president of the association, Bob Kearns, and two other governing board members demanded Jensen and Trimarco take down their wreath or face a $25-per-day fine for violating subdivision sign restrictions, said Jack Lilly, former chairman of the association's Architectural Control Committee.

Kearns also demanded the resignation of Lilly and the other four members of the committee charged with enforcing subdivision rules after the committee ruled that the wreath was not a violation.

Monday, the homeowners assocation board withdrew its objection to the wreath and threat of daily fines.

"We want to let you know that this evening we just received a letter from the Loma Linda Home Owners Board of Directors stating: 'We had a misunderstanding with your Christmas decoration and for that we apologize. We withdraw any and all previous requests for removal of your decoration,' " Jensen told The Associated Press.
With that settled, the striking reason for not permitting a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign came not from its political significations, but from a perceived (and bizarre) anti-Christian religious statement:
Kearns had told The Associated Press he'd received several complaints before ordering Dunbar to take down the symbol. Kearns also told the Durango Herald that the peace symbol "has a lot of negativity associated with it. It's also an anti-Christ sign."

Some people believe the symbol is satanic and represents an upside-down cross with broken arms.
Let's leave the moonbattiness to the usual suspects, okay folks? Christians and those with political positions in opposition to peaceniks and other dhimmis/liberals should not succumb to the same type of overreaction that characterizes the Cindy Sheehan/Michael Moore/Howard Zinn crowd.

The flap began less than a week ago, and made the jump to national headlines in less than a day:
Then came a local news story, followed by a wire-service story, followed by national news stories, followed by blog and message-board posts, and radio and TV segments, and on and on - until by Monday evening the second-most popular story on was an article about the controversy titled "Peace on earth? Not in our subdivision!"
The article gets the order a bit confused, as it was first blogs and internet sites that broke the story, long before the MSM and CNN lumbered into the fray.

Pagosa Springs Peace Wreath Stirs Opinions, HOA Bans Wreath



Blair Expresses "Deep Sorrow" For Slavery, Reparations Sought

And as usual, this apparently is not enough for the reparations crowd:
Tony Blair reignited the debate on slavery yesterday by making a partial apology for Britain's role in the "profoundly shameful" trade. The Prime Minister said he felt "deep sorrow" for the country's involvement in what was "one of the most inhuman enterprises in history".

But his declaration, which comes ahead of next year's bicentenary of the abolition of the trade, fell short of the formal apology demanded by many campaigners and drew criticism as well as praise.

Black rights activists denounced it as "empty rhetoric" that failed to address the issue of reparations.

Mr Blair said in an article for the black community newspaper New Nation that although Britain was the first major nation to abolish the trade 200 years ago, it was right for the country to acknowledge its active role until then. "It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time," he said.

"Personally I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was — how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition — but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever happened, that it ever could have happened and to rejoice at the different and better times we live in today."
The activists don't want apologies, they want cash.

Blair's lament follows the long line of apologies or Clintonian "I feel your pain" moments from those who didn't commit the crime to those who didn't suffer from them. Claims for reparations by the victims of historical injustices (Holocaust) are justified; claims that have passed centuries and multiple generations are nothing more than shakedowns.



November 27, 2006

UK Breakup: Polls Say England, Scotland Should Be Independent; Segregation Increasing

Polls show English, Scottish want home-rule and their own countries:
The United Kingdom should be broken up and Scotland and England set free as independent nations, according to a huge number of voters on both sides of the border.

A clear majority of people in both England and Scotland are in favour of full independence for Scotland, an ICM opinion poll for The Sunday Telegraph has found. Independence is backed by 52 per cent of Scots while an astonishing 59 per cent of English voters want Scotland to go it alone.

There is also further evidence of rising English nationalism with support for the establishment of an English parliament hitting an historic high of 68 per cent amongst English voters. Almost half – 48 per cent – also want complete independence for England, divorcing itself from Wales and Northern Ireland as well. Scottish voters also back an English breakaway with 58 per cent supporting an English parliament with similar powers to the Scottish one.

The poll comes only months before the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland and will worry all three main political parties. None of them favours Scottish independence, but all have begun internal debates on the future of the constitution.
So even 300 years of "British" identity could not break rival nationalisms--stoked in part, no doubt, by PC attacks on local identities by diversity fanatics and old-fashioned resentment. A three-century old experiment in forging a new identity has not succeeded, and demonstrates the power that tribal and religious ties carry great value and triumph over "diversity" and "tolerance". These primeval connections supersede decades of ideological conformity under Communism or even centuries of religious uniformity under Christianity or Islam.

Confirming that ancient prejudices still exist and the notion that given a choice, people want to live with those just like them, comes another story from the UK:
The flight of the middle classes from the inner cities is threatening to undo 30 years of progress that has made Britain the best place in Europe for ethnic minorities, the country's race equality chief said yesterday.

Trevor Phillips, the outgoing chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), said increased polarisation and segregation in areas deserted by the better-off was "the great threat" to the development of a diverse and harmonious society.

. . .

"As a nation we are becoming more ethnically segregated by residence and inequality is being amplified by our separate lives," he said.

"The real crisis lies in the areas which the middle-class minorities are leaving behind — areas which are becoming more and more ethnically concentrated and exclusive."

Research commissioned by the CRE for the convention showed that despite the greater number of ethnic minorities in Britain, few mixed. Two out of three people hardly ever choose to meet someone of a different ethnicity in their own homes.

A quarter of Britons want to live in an all-white area and more than half — including those from ethnic minorities — think there is too much immigration. More and more communities were "shut off" and vulnerable to political and religious extremism.
I wonder which communities were especially susceptible to "religious extremism"? Note too how most of the "segregation" is blamed on "white-flight" and is detrimental only to the ethnic minorities, and then says that middle-class minorities are leaving as well.


Paul Campos: "Well-Paid Parasite Who Infests Our Fabulously Wealthy Nation"

Paul Campos is a moonbat law professor at CU-Boulder who calls English-speaking Americans "parasites".

Using the logic of his article on illegal immigration and pressing "1" for English, Campos himself must be one of those "well-paid parasites":
Yet the most significant fact to keep in mind about people who speak Spanish in the United States is this: such people are invariably performing useful labor. In fact, it isn't too much of an exaggeration to say that the odds a person does the kind of work that simply has to get done in order to keep civilization afloat go up in direct proportion to the probability that this person speaks Spanish.

Those among us who build the buildings, and cook the food, and clean the bathrooms, and trim the trees, and care for the children - in short, the people who, in Orwell's phrase, "make the wheels go round" - are increasingly the people who press "2" in order to hear their options in Spanish.

Meanwhile, the immense mass of well-paid parasites who infest our fabulously wealthy nation - the financial analysts, the political consultants, the managers of human resources, the vice presidents for West Coast promotion, the producers of television commercials designed to increase the consumption of certain breakfast cereals, and, needless to say, the syndicated newspaper columnists - will continue to become annoyed at the need to press "1."
Yes, if it wasn't for those financial analysts, HR managers, and others who grease the wheels of the economic engine that makes this country the wealthiest on the planet, there would be no need for an "immense mass of well-paid parasites who infest our fabulously wealthy nation" including lawyers, law professors, and academics in general.

In poor and undemocratic societies there is little need for such a large class of intelligent, educated individuals whose creativity is precisely the cause--not the parasite of--the fabulous wealth present in the country. If the United States were a poorer society there would be no need for mass immigration of a poor and uneducated underclass to "do the work Americans won't do". People would emigrate from these lands, presumably to countries with better economies. Campos' disparaging of the economic creators of the wealth this country uses to employ expendable legal academics such as himself confirms not only his detachment from reality, but his contempt for the system he both praises and condemns in the space of a few words.


Predicting The Unpredictable: Errors In Forecasting Hurricanes

From Tampa Bay, casting doubts on Al Gore's inconvenient truths:
It was not the hurricane season we expected, thank you.

With cataclysmic predictions that hurricanes would swarm from the tropics like termites, no one thought 2006 would be the most tranquil season in a decade.

. . .

As they say about the stock market: Past results are no indication of future performance.

This year's uneventful season provides no assurance that next year will be as calm.
Which makes the likelihood of the certainty of "global warming" or "climate change" as certain as the people who place bets on a roulette table based on the display indicating the last 20 numbers or so--just because red has come up 12 times in a row does not mean that black is "due". Likewise, forecasting the hurricane season usually relies on models that offer no better than a predicted range. Sometimes they hit right on, sometimes the fail badly, like the hurricane predictions of 2006.


Pagosa Springs Peace Wreath Stirs Opinions, HOA Bans Wreath

The wreath in question

With the political rift growing ever-wider following the recent midterm elections, it is not surprising that a holiday wreath in the shape of a peace symbol has caused a stir in Colorado:
PAGOSA SPRINGS - In a town in scenic southwestern Colorado homeowners are battling over whether a Christmas wreath that includes a peace sign is an anti-Iraq war protest or even a promotion of Satan.

"We have had three or four complaints. Some people have kids in Iraq and they are sensitive," said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He also said some believe it is a symbol of Satan.

Jeff Heitz, of the association board, sent a letter to Lisa Jensen saying: "Loma Linda residents are offended by the peace sign displayed on the front of your house. ... This Board will not allow any signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive...."

The subdivision's convenants say no signs, billboards or advertising are permitted without the consent of the architectural control committee.
Annoyed as can be by the constant activism of peaceniks, it is doubtful that a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace symbol is a "promotion of Satan". Anti-Iraq war? Yes, possibly. Pro-Satan? Not likely.
When Kearns ordered the association's architectural control committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath removed, they refused. Jack Lilly, chairman of the group, said it decided it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Lilly also said he had received no complaints from homeowners. Kearns fired all five members of the committee.

"Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," said Kearns in a telephone interview Sunday. Earlier another homeowner had complied when required to take down a peace sign that was made of a pie plate held up by two skis.

Jensen, a past president of the association in the subdivision of 200 homes 270 miles southwest of Denver, said: "I honestly wasn't thinking of the Iraq war. Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing. I am not going to take it down until after Christmas. Now that it has come to this I feel I can't get bullied. What if they don't like my Santa Claus."

Kearns said the association will fine Jensen $25 a day for every day it remains up. She calculates that will cost her about $1,000, although she doubts they will be able to make her pay.

Kearns, meanwhile, also said he was concerned about the pagan symbolism of the peace sign. "It's also an anti-Christ sign. That's how it started," he told the Durango Herald.
Assuming you can take Jensen's word--which at this point is the reasonable choice--then the wreath is not offensive, as generally peace is desirable, hence all the "Peace on Earth" signs this time of year. And Jesus was, of all things, the Prince of Peace.

The HOA can make judgments like this one, which is why HOAs are nothing more than communitarian dictatorships. If Jensen had intended to make the peace wreath more directly a political statement, this could easily have been accompanied by another sign indicating her political views. Unfortunately, with such restrictive HOA policies, Jensen's wreath, political or otherwise, will cost her a good deal of money.



Allard Reelection Speculation Takes Off

Colorado Confidential says Allard will likely retire.

The Rocky Mountain News expects the decision to be family-oriented, not political.


Mike Rosen Can't "Imagine" John Lennon's Utopia

After noting Elton John's recent anti-religion tirade that made a mention of John Lennon's worse-than-wishful-thinking "Imagine", Mike Rosen set about examining the unrealistic, utopian song whose catchy tune provides stealthy cover for some rather dubious thinking:
In the midst of his ramblings, Elton John invoked the memory of John Lennon, saying that if he were alive today he'd be fighting for peace (my oxymoron, not his). Which reminded me of Lennon's epic song, Imagine. Baby boomer romantic nostalgia notwithstanding, the puerile lyrics of that tune sound like a collaboration of Karl Marx, Cindy Sheehan and Dennis Kucinich.

Imagine there's no heaven/It's easy if you try/No hell below us/Above us only sky/Imagine all the people/Living for today

Even if you don't believe in rewards or punishment in the hereafter, responsible adults don't live just for today. They defer gratification and save for a rainy day and retirement. Think of the parable of the grasshopper and the ant.

Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion, too/Imagine all the people/Living life in peace

No, I can't imagine that. It's anti-historical and contrary to human nature. People are inherently tribal and nationalistic. They band together, linked by common cultures, superstitions, beliefs, values and preferred systems of political economy.

You may say that I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one/I hope someday you'll join us/And the world will be as one

You're a dreamer. Never happen. The only way the world would be as one is under the guns of a militaristic, totalitarian regime. And even that would only be temporary. Empires invariably fall.

Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can/No need for greed or hunger/A brotherhood of man/Imagine all the people/Sharing all the world

Good heavens, no! This is right out of The Communist Manifesto. No possessions? You mean no property rights? That means no rewards, no incentives, no creativity and very little production. Moochers living off a dwindling pool of hard workers. Who's going to harvest the crops while the "dreamers" are smoking dope and flashing peace signs with that silly grin on their faces? What everyone owns, no one owns. Think of the graffiti on the walls of community-owned property like a New York City subway station men's room. By comparison, have you ever seen graffiti on the walls of a bathroom in someone's private home?
No doubt the philosophy derived from some weed-induced haze and not reflective thinking. Having distilled Communism and other philosophical dead-ends into generic platitudes, Lennon's "Imagine" attempts to persuade an easily fooled public through the cult of celebrity and the mask that the statements made in the song are really reasonable. The world's complex problems are never solved so "simply", and as Rosen points out, attempting to reach such a pacific reality often entails violence and repression to a degree more severe than the current situation.


November 26, 2006

WashTimes: Denver "Poised" For 2008 Democratic National Convention

Howard Dean is expected to make the announcement soon, and it still appears that the only hurdle is the union issue:
The Mile High City is enjoying a surge of momentum in its bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, thanks to Colorado's electoral tilt to the left and a well-timed burst of union activity.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is expected to announce the convention site in early December, and some Denver residents already are predicting their city will trump New York as the party's pick.

"I think we're a shoo-in," said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank. "The Democratic Party should be rewarding the success of Democrats here because of this year's incredible election sweep."

In a state where Democratic registration ranks third behind that of Republican and unaffiliated, the Democrats reclaimed the governor's office after an eight-year Republican run, bolstered their majorities in the state legislature and captured a previously Republican House seat.

"We believed all along that if we elected a Democratic governor, our chances would be stronger," said Denver City Council member Rosemary Rodriguez, who also sits on the Denver 2008 Host Committee.

Mrs. Rodriguez noted that Denver, which last hosted a national party convention in 1908, made unsuccessful bids to host the 2000 and 2004 Democratic conventions. "We're always a bridesmaid," she said, "but I think it's finally our time."
A convention in Denver would make a nice bookend with the one held a century ago. It would also give the Democrats a platform to appeal to the Mountain Moderates who have recently begun to swing toward the Democrats, turning Colorado increasingly purple, as well as rewarding them for the electoral support. Of course, the nomination of a San Francisco-values (Pelosi) or Northeast liberal elite snob (Kerry, Clinton) might backfire, alienating the long on action, short on demagoguery attitude of the Western states.



November 24, 2006

Christmas Season Is Here

Hope everyone enjoyed stuffing themselves silly yesterday, and took the time to give thanks for their many blessings.

Now, to get everyone in the mood for Christmas:


British Airways Concedes To Common Sense, Allows Cross

Nadia Eweida

In a small victory for religious expression for Christians, BA's CEO capitulated to common sense and public outcry:
British Airways backed down over its ban on workers wearing the cross after a hurricane of criticism.

Airline chief Willie Walsh ordered a rethink of the rule that barred check-in worker Nadia Eweida from wearing a tiny cross at work.

The airline had faced four days of angry condemnation from an overwhelming alliance of Cabinet ministers, 100 MPs, 20 Church of England bishops and, finally, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr Rowan Williams called its stance 'deeply offensive' and threatened to sell the Church of England's £6.6million holding of BA shares.

Just five hours later, the airline capitulated. Chief executive Mr Walsh, the driving force behind BA's determination to stop Miss Eweida wearing the cross, said it will look at ways its rules could be adapted 'to allow symbols of faith to be worn openly’.
For background on Nadia Eweida and the cross controversy, check out this Daily Mail story. Belatedly, the Archbishop of Canterbury rediscovered some spine and challenged BA's policy:
Dr Williams, who had come under fire for taking a BA flight to Rome on Tuesday, spoke out as the row began to overshadow his talks with Pope Benedict.

He then raised the stakes further in the dispute by threatening to sell the £6.6million worth of shares that the Church of England holds in BA.

Dr Williams said: 'If BA is really saying or implying that the wearing of a cross in public is a source of offence, then I regard that as deeply offensive and, in a society where religious liberty and the expression of religious commitment is free, I regard it as something really quite serious.'

The Archbishop added: 'If they're saying that it's to do with matters of health and safety, I would question whether that is a sensible kind of regulation, whether in fact there really is a problem here, and I would ask them to look very seriously at this, given the enormous reaction of dismay that's been caused in the Christian community.'
Notice the difference in reaction from the offended Christians and, well. . .you know. Boycotts and divestment, not beheadings and destruction.

Perhaps this uproar of indignation can serve as a more non-violent and certainly effective way of dealing with perceived offense and disagreement with policy, not the sort of childish whining and brutish violence often recently seen on display during the Cartoon Riots and Pope Rage.



November 22, 2006

Pope's New Book Encourages Debate, Reopens Question Of Infallibility

Pope Benedict XVI has potentially opened a Pandora's box of religious ramifications--according to the MSM--by encouraging debate on his personal reflections on Jesus Christ (which is ok) while not making the distinction clear between this new book and his official statements made ex cathedra, and therefore subject to the papal infallibility doctrine, which is not the case here:
The Pope has shocked theologians and opened a chink in the theory of papal infallibility by saying that people should feel free to disagree with what he has written in his latest book, a meditation on Jesus Christ.

Entitled Jesus of Nazareth, the first book that Pope Benedict XVI has written since his election as Pope in 2003 will be published next spring.

The first part describes Jesus's life from his baptism in the river Jordan until his transfiguration, when he reveals his divinity to his disciples. Referencing hundreds of works of history, the Pope writes that he believes Christ is a "historically convincing figure".

In the foreword, he states that the book is "absolutely not" a work of Catholic doctrine, but rather the "expression of my personal research". He adds: "Consequently, everyone is free to contradict me. I only ask the readers that they read with sympathy, without which there will be no comprehension."

No Pope has ever opened up his work and opinions to criticism before. Nor has any Pope tried to separate his personal and public personas, according to Professor Giuseppe Alberigo, a professor of the history of the Catholic Church at Bologna University.

"I really believe this is the first time this has ever happened," he said. "It is an extraordinarily important gesture. What it means is that the Pope is not totally infallible. As well as being the Pope, he is a common man, hugely studious in this case, but like all men he is subject to debates, arguments and discussions." He added that Pope John Paul II "could never have made a distinction between 'official' Pope and 'ordinary' Pope".

Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's spokesman, said the Pope had acted with his "usual simplicity and humility" in seeking to "freely allow discussion and criticism". "What he writes does not constrain the research of theologians. This is not a long encyclical on Jesus, but a personal presentation of the figure of Jesus by the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, who has been elected Bishop of Rome."

However, Fr Lombardi then warned that the message in the book should be heeded. "The fact is he has been elected Bishop of Rome and has the duty of sustaining the faith of his brothers, and so it is very significant that he has felt such a strong urge to give a renewed presentation of the figure of Christ."

Some critics warned that the Pope could not be both a free-thinking theologian and the leader of the Catholic church. Luigi Lombardi Vallauri, a professor of philosophy at Florence University, said: "It seems a coquettish thing to pretend there is a freedom of theology while knowing well that this theology rests on the shoulders of a Pope. My impression is that this is the attitude of someone who wants to have his cake and eat it, to be both Pontiff and an independent theologian."

The Pope said he had spent "every spare moment" since his election on writing the book. He said he had rushed because he did not know "how much time and how much strength" he would have to finish the work.

Before becoming Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger produced dozens of books on theology. He was also the Vatican's enforcer of religious doctrine, and known as "God's rottweiler" for his firm rebuttals of controversial theology.
The problem is that so few people--even Catholics--know the distinction of papal infallibility and would see the encouragement of debate and disagreement as an opening to attack the Church on any number of perceived grievances, from stances on homosexuality and abortion to the ordination of women and allowing married clergy.

The question is, can the Pope be both "private" and "official", simultaneously holding private feelings regarding theological arguments while promulgating official statements of faith, some of which fall under the doctrine of papal infallibility? Are his ruminations on Christ's nature a theological statement or more of a personal reflection of faith? Can or will the public be able to make such a distinction, or is the mere soundbite of "Pope questions his infallibility" an all too enticing--and highly misleading--headline that will obscure the true intention of the Pope's newest book?



After 270 Years Queen Buries Hatchet, Receives Pipe From Mohegans

The Queen was also presented with a peace pipe by tribal spiritual leader Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum

Just imagine for yourself the image of the Queen taking a puff from the pipe. Here's the historical background for the odd exchange:
It had taken almost 300 years but yesterday the Queen helped the leaders of the Mohegans finally accomplish a mission begun by a tribal chief in the reign of King George II.

In the incongruous setting of London's Southwark Cathedral, she received a native American peace pipe and, more significantly, a copy of the petition Mahomet Weyonomon had tried, but failed, to hand personally to the king in 1736.

. . .

Mahomet left Connecticut to plead for royal help in protecting his hunting grounds but died from smallpox in his City of London lodgings. He was buried in the cathedral's grounds, where he was to lie in obscurity for 270 years.

Yesterday, after a request from the tribe which now numbers 1,700, the Queen attended a Mohegan funeral blessing and unveiled a memorial, carved from a granite boulder from the tribe's reservation to commemorate the life he gave for his people.

As trains rumbled on the bridge overhead, Bruce Two Dogs Bozsum, the ceremonial pipe-carrier and tribal chairman, and two other tribe members, blessed the memorial with the traditional "smudge", the burning of sage and sweet grass and offering of tobacco to Mother Earth to summon good spirits. Turkey-feather and wolf-head headdresses are not normally spotted at midday service, nor smoking allowed.

But the Queen watched good-humouredly as Chief Two Dogs lit the pipe and turned it to each of the four compass points – north for medicine, south for ancestors, east for new beginnings and west for "where all things end".

The small red stone pipe presented to the Queen was decorated with 300-year-old eagle feathers taken from Mahomet's headdress.

She was free, said Chief Two Dogs later, to use the pipe as she wished.

"It's her pipe. She could smoke it in a ceremony," he suggested, conjuring up an unlikely image. "When you smoke it, as the smoke goes through your lungs, you look to the sky and say your prayers to your creators."
Here's a copy of the announcement of Mahomet's death in London in 1736:



Reading Lips: Deciphering Silent Films

New computer program enables historians to learn the dialogue spoken in Adolf Hitler's intimate moments in the silent films shot while at the Berghof--and the possibility for more revelations from other silent films is endless:
New computer software that can read lips at almost any angle has helped make sense of one of the Second World War's lingering mysteries —Hitler's home movies.

The technology allows the dialogue to be dubbed on to the silent films, many of them made by Eva Braun at Hitler's mountain retreat, the Berghof. With the new soundtrack, Hitler can be heard encouraging young children towards a life in the military, criticising even his closest henchmen and flirting with Braun.

. . .

He is also seen teasing Braun about a screening in his cinema at the Berghof. "I understand you didn't like the movie last night," he says. "I know what you want. You want Gone with the Wind."

Much of the footage is taken on a terrace at the Bavarian retreat, with Hitler and his guests relaxing in the sunlight. He finds time to flirt with Braun, saying: "What are you filming an old man for? I should be filming you."
Other new quotes emerge from the previously "silent" films--
"You talk about a dress that does not fit … imagine my problems," he says with exasperation to his lover.

The technology that has allowed the dialogue to be reconstructed is called ALR — automated lip reading — and has been developed by Frank Hubner, a speech recognition expert. The computer recognises shapes that lips make, turns them into sounds and matches these to a dictionary.

When actors voice the script that this generates, the result is home movies all the more chilling for their apparent happy domesticity. Hitler is shown reading to children, and playing with them. "You be a brave boy," he says to a small Aryan child. "You will be a fine soldier one day."
Other top Nazi officials are similarly exposed:
Himmler is seen telling Heidrich and Wolff: "I'm very busy with this project and that project." A disturbing statement from the man in charge of the Final Solution.

Film shot towards the end of the war shows Hitler complaining about tremors in his arm, giving more credence to the theory that he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

What also becomes clear is that Hitler did not hold back from criticising his inner circle. He is scathing about Himmler's enthusiasm for archaeological digs to establish the origins of the Aryan race but reserved his bitchiest remark for Goering.

"I looked at him across the dining table and then I knew that what they say was true," he says, "that pigs eat the flesh of their own."
No doubt the impetus for bringing Hitler's silent films back to life and revealing hidden dialogue not recorded with sound or in transcripts comes as a bonus for historians and others wishing to tease out any additional information from these historical records. Any video recording, including the CCTV video recordings used in criminal prosecutions or any other video source without clear audio (or none at all), can now be analyzed wih one additional layer of scrutiny.



Colorado AG Suthers' Arabian Nights Accomplishes Little, Trip Meant To Justify US Justice System To Saudis

Could AG John Suthers' recent trip to Saudi Arabia, to defend the fair conviction of Homaidan Al-Turki, be politically costly?

Either way, his trip amounted to little more than an unpersuasive waste of money (Federal funds and King Abdullah footed the cost) on "relationship building" that did little to change minds here or there, and ultimately failed to rouse the Saudi kingdom from its 7th century mindset (video):
Attorney General John Suthers returned from Saudi Arabia this weekend following a 3-day trip to discuss the trial of a man convicted by a Colorado court.

Suthers said he was questioned aggressively by King Abdullah for 3 days about whether Homaidan Al-Turki was treated fairly when he was convicted in Arapahoe County of sexually assaulting an Indonesian maid and keeping her as a virtual slave in his Aurora home.

Suthers said Al-Turki comes from an influential religious family in Saudi Arabia and was portrayed in the media there as a victim.

"One of the brothers of the defendant that I had met sat through the trial and they simply cannot understand that a jury can give credibility to an Indonesian maid," Suthers said. "And the only possible explanation that is some sort of anti-Muslim bias."
The lack of credulity over the credibility of the Indonesian maid stems not from her social status as a maid, but from her status as a woman--something Sharia law does not recognize.

As for the United States "showing a great deal of respect" for the religious and political sensitivities of the Saudis, an authoritarian kingdom complete with religious police and without any semblance of religious tolerance for anyone outside of Islam; or "sending a message" that the United States does not apologize for its legal system where all are equal under the law and one's gender or status does not effect their ability to offer evidence, the trip was most likely a complete failure, aside from photo-ops and the sort of benefits that only political grandstanding can provide.

Apparently, Al-Turki's status in his own country would have provided the necessary legal defense in any case of impropriety--an "influential family" with the proper religious credentials. Infidel systems of justice are suspect simply because they do not account for Sharia-based legal assessment, substituting such irreligious documents as the United States Constitution.

What is disturbing is the sort of precedent a sitting state AG makes by personally defending an example of American justice to an intolerant and undemocratic state like Saudi Arabia. Will it be the policy for Colorado or any other state's AG to fly off to defend convictions any time a foreign national is found guilty of a crime? Is it primarily the importance of the regime in petroleum matters or the fact that it is a Muslim state that prompted no less than the State Department to help broker a meeting of Colorado's AG with the King of Saudi Arabia? What assurances, promises, explanations, excuses or other considerations were given? And since when does any part of our legal system have to justify itself to any higher authority, other than perhaps the Supreme Court at the state or national level?

Al-Turki showed no inclination towards remorse for his actions:
At his sentencing, Al-Turki said he would not apologize for "things I did not do and for crimes I did not commit."

"The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors," he told the judge. "Attacking traditional Muslim behaviors was the focal point of the prosecution."
Vincent Carroll voices the same reservations about having our AG defend the American justice system in countries like Saudi Arabia.



Global Warming Prompts Ice Growth

Yes, you read that right, based on the newest scientific evidence (h/t Ace):
Contrary to all the horror stories one hears about global warming-induced mass wastage of the Antarctic ice sheet leading to rising sea levels that gobble up coastal lowlands worldwide, the most recent decade of pertinent real-world data suggest that forces leading to just the opposite effect are apparently prevailing, even in the face of what climate alarmists typically describe as the greatest warming of the world in the past two millennia or more.
Another inconvenient truth for Al Gore's global warming fearmongering.



Sen. Allard's Seat Target Of '08 Speculation, National Interest

ColoradoPols hears that Dick Wadhams--who successfully led Sen. Allard to reelection in '02--is headed back to Colorado for 2008.

Although the 7th CD failed to live up to the national hype as the race for '06, the battle for Colorado's senate seat will naturally garner quite a bit of attention as a result of the increased success of Colorado Democrats, and will be much-watched should Denver win the Democratic National Convention. The WaPo has Allard's seat as one of the top to watch both for the amount of scrutiny from a potential Democratic Convention but also due to the relatively narrow margin of Allard's reelection numbers in '02.


November 21, 2006

Denver Inches Closer To 2008 Democratic National Convention

Western Democrats hope the party gets "mile high" with a little help from their friends:
Mayor John Hickenlooper isn't the only one working to bring tens of thousands of people to Denver in August 2008; governors and officials in several other Western states are helping in the city's bid to lure the Democratic National Convention.

The event could help raise the profile of a region that has become increasingly important to both major political parties, Hickenlooper said Monday.

"It's not so much about Denver as all the changes in Utah, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming," Hickenlooper said. "We should be able to champion and show off what the region has become."

Hickenlooper said Denver's bid was also getting help from officials in other Western states and cities.

"The convention really shines a very bright light and illuminates our success to a dramatically larger market," he said.

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean has said the party expects to decide between Denver and New York next month.
Aside from a lower profile than New York, Denver's bid for the convention has suffered from labor pains, but these may have been allayed through proposed unionization and the recent strong showing by Democrats in the 2006 midterms:
In recent weeks, Denver has resolved some tension with unions after initial concerns stemming from a lack of unionized hotels in the city. Last month, Denver, which helped finance a new downtown hotel with bonds, agreed that workers at that hotel could unionize, and the Colorado AFL-CIO this month approved a resolution supporting Denver's convention bid.

Democrats in Colorado and other Western states also posted political gains in this month's general election, two years after Colorado was a rare bright spot for the party. That won't have much bearing on the final decision, however, LaVera said.
Remaining barriers to a successful Denver bid? Logistics and New York's cachet.


Bars Appeal Colorado Smoking Ban

Arguing unequal treatment:
A group representing Colorado bar owners have filed a formal notice of their intent to appeal a federal judge's ruling that upheld a new statewide ban on indoor smoking.

The Coalition for Equal Rights has asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock last month. The next step will be for the group to file a brief detailing why it believes Babcock was wrong.

Coalition member Allen Campbell has said bars around the state have suffered financial losses ranging up to 45 percent under the new law, which took effect July 1.

The coalition's lawsuit argued the law unfairly applied to most bars and restaurants while exempting casinos, cigar bars, airport smoking lounges and private workplaces with three employees or less.

In his ruling, Babcock said lawmakers have the right to determine if smoking is a public health risk and whether exemptions to the ban should be granted.
Of course, from a public policy viewpoint, this should not even be a constitutional issue, but simply a question of freedom of choice and association. Let the bar owners and patrons decide whether or not smoking should be allowed.


November 20, 2006

Climatepalooza: A Global Warming Roundup

Over the weekend, several climate-oriented stories appeared around the blogosphere. One in particular caught some attention, with the arctic resisting global warming and self-correcting back into a state of balance:
An international team of scientists reported Thursday that rising temperatures are steadily transforming the Arctic -- warming millions of square miles of permafrost, promoting lush greenery on previously arid tundras and steadily shrinking the annual sea ice.

Yet the researchers also found new patterns of cooling ocean currents and prevailing winds that suggested the Arctic, long considered a bellwether of global warming, may be reverting in some ways to more normal conditions not seen since the 1970s.

Taken together, these findings may be evidence, the researchers said, of the region struggling to keep its balance, as rising temperatures slowly overturn the long-established order of seasonal variations.

"This is a region that is fighting back," said lead author Jacqueline Richter-Menge, a civil engineer at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H. "There are things that showed signs of going back to norms, trying to right themselves under very dire circumstances."
Nature will always strive for equilibrium, but some scientists propose acceleration of anti-global warming measures, including the counterintuitive borrowing of a page from volcanic activity:
Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.

Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a "shade" from the sun's rays and help cool the planet.
Volcanic eruptions like that in Indonesia in the 1810s produced rapid global cooling, and this pollution proposal seems to follow the same logic.

Also of note, October 2006 was the second consecutive month of below average temperatures in the continental United States:
U.S. Temperature Highlights

The October 2006 temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 0.9 degrees F (0.5 degrees C) below the 20th century average of 54.8 degrees F (12.7 degrees C). After a record warm January through August period, this was the second consecutive month of below average temperatures.

NOAA image of October 2006 statewide precipitation rankings. The combination of a cooler-than-average September and October dropped the year-to-date national temperature from record warmest to third warmest for the January through October 2006 period. The record warmest January through October occurred in 1934.
All of which brings us to some logical conclusions--

1) The engine of life known as the Earth is more resilient than humans estimate, even with scientific explanations and computer modeling.

2) Human activity pales in comparison to natural events like volcanic activity and overall natural global climate change cycles.

3) That even with the data we have--or so the "global warming" fearmongers tell us--that the world's climate and ecosystems are not clearly predictable and that even if the results fall within a predicted range of activity, the margin of error is quite large. If 100 years of profligate pollution can only effect a smaller change in global temperature than either an isolated volcanic eruption or known historical warming and cooling cycles, then even drastic human countermeasures are likely to fall very short of solving any problem meaningfully.

A final thought:
Yes, the world is getting warmer, but the Earth does this roughly every 1,500 years, and we cannot stop it. The good news is humans and most other species tend to do better during the warm periods.

There is a wonderful new book, “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years,” by distinguished climate physicist Fred Singer and award-winning environmental economist Dennis Avery. The conclusion of their book in a nutshell is that, yes, the world is getting a bit warmer, but this is just the natural cycle. They provide overwhelming evidence this warming would occur with or without mankind increasing CO2 emissions or doing anything else. The good news is that if we realize we cannot stop global warming, and concentrate on constructively dealing with the problems it causes – which are all manageable at reasonable cost – and then enjoy the benefits, mankind will do just fine.

We have already had two cycles in recorded history; the Roman warming (200 B.C. to 600 A.D.) which was a very prosperous period, and the medieval warming (900 to 1300) during which farms were created in Greenland and Iceland. The modern warming period began about 1850, well before mankind was producing massive amounts of CO2.

As an economist, I have been a bit of skeptic about the various doomsday scenarios associated with global warming. It has been well known for decades that the Earth’s temperature is in a constant flux, and there have been many periods with both lower and higher temperatures. Despite the general warming trend since 1850, we have had cooler periods, notably from 1940 to 1978, when many leading scientists were warning us we were rapidly heading for a new ice age. I can still remember those doomsday scenarios being played out on TV specials at the time.


Greenpeace "South Park" Parody: Blame Canada

Greenpeace parody using South Park characters falls flat:
They've taken on Mel Gibson, Saddam Hussein, Satan and Jesus.

Now the potty-mouthed kids from South Park are featured in an online advertisement — and their target is the Canadian government and its opposition to a ban on bottom trawling on the high seas.

Greenpeace posted a video spoof online starring Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman, who slam Canada's stance on deep-sea dragging just as a six-day round of talks on sustainable fisheries began at the United Nations.

The boys — animated as different species of fish — single out Canada and Spain, expletives included, before a large net scoops "Squiddy" off the ocean floor.

"Oh my God! They killed Squiddy!" Stan yells.

"You bastards!" Kyle replies.

Then the group breaks into song, to the tune of the Oscar-nominated "Blame Canada," bashing Canadian officials for their refusal to support the ban while mocking Spanish fishermen who trawl "because we can."

Bruce Cox, executive director of Greenpeace Canada, said the group launched the ad Friday as a way to reach a segment of the population who might not otherwise be familiar with Ottawa's position on trawling.

"We're hoping that this will create an Internet audience, perhaps a bit of a younger demographic," Mr. Cox said.

"Also, it's quite immediate."
What is quite immediately clear is that South Park creators had nothing to do with the parody. How can you tell?

Its. Not. Funny.

Damn hippies. Hippies!



November 18, 2006

First They Came For The Smokers. . .

On June 30, the law banning smoking in all public places in Colorado (with just a few exemptions) went into effect. These were my thoughts then:
Unless you are 15 feet away from a business entrance, or on a patio--or one of the exempted areas in the legislation, it will now be a crime to smoke in public.

Of course, the actual threat of second-hand smoking notwithstanding, the real thrust of the legislation is more nanny-state control over our lives, now dictating where one might smoke legally. Rather than leaving that choice to individual business owners best suited to take into consideration their patrons and their own employees' concerns, the state has decided to determine the outcome for them. How nice.

But you can still drink, although that was also once the target of a campaign that led to the most well-intentioned and least effective government program ever: Prohibition. The arguments were essentially the same. The government saving you from yourself.

Still, at the end of the day, I fear the immediate impact (no pun intended) of the drunk/intoxicated driver instead of the remote and tenuous possibility that second-hand smoke might affect my health in, oh, 5o years. I'll take the chance frequenting places that offer smoking, now essentially reduced to casinos, while lighting up a great cigar the half-dozen times a year the feeling strikes me. Don't misunderstand, I support alcohol freedom, including the push for legalization at 18. Just don't tell me or private enterprise where to smoke or socialize with those who do. What's next, no smoking at home?
That last thought, prescient or perhaps foreseeable in predicting a ban on smoking at home--and anywhere else for that matter--has already begun in California:
Belmont is set to make history by becoming the first city in the nation to ban smoking on its streets and almost everywhere else.

The Belmont City Council voted unanimously last night to pursue a strict law that will prohibit smoking anywhere in the city except for single-family detached residences. Smoking on the street, in a park and even in one’s car will become illegal and police would have the option of handing out tickets if they catch someone.

The actual language of the law still needs to be drafted and will likely come back to the council either in December or early next year.

“We have a tremendous opportunity here. We need to pass as stringent a law as we can, I would like to make it illegal,” said Councilman Dave Warden. “What if every city did this, image how many lives would be saved? If we can do one little thing here at this level it will matter.”

Armed with growing evidence that second-hand smoke causes negative health effects, the council chose to pursue the strictest law possible and deal with any legal challenges later. Last month, the council said it wanted to pursue a law similar to ones passed in Dublin and the Southern California city of Calabasas. It took up the cause after a citizen at a senior living facility requested smoke be declared a public nuisance, allowing him to sue neighbors who smoke.

The council was concerned about people smoking in multi-unit residences.

“I would just like to say ‘no smoking’ and see what happens and if they do smoke, [someone] has the right to have the police come and give them a ticket,” said Councilwoman Coralin Feierbach.
Legislation through wishful thinking, rather than reality--such nanny-state arguments declaring their intentions to save people from themselves, the same nuanced reasoning for the oh-so-successful Prohibition amendment. Lest one think that this sort of silliness be relegated to the confines of the state of California, a couple in Golden, Colorado faces a ban on smoking from their own HOA:
A judge has upheld a homeowners association's order barring a couple from smoking in the town house they own.

Colleen and Rodger Sauve, both smokers, filed a lawsuit in March after their condominium association amended its bylaws last December to prohibit smoking.

"We argued that the HOA was not being reasonable in restricting smoking in our own unit, nowhere on the premises, not in the parking lot or on our patio," Colleen Sauve said.

The Heritage Hills #1 Condominium Owners Association was responding to complaints from the Sauves' neighbors who said cigarette smoke was seeping into their units, representing a nuisance to others in the building.

In a Nov. 7 ruling, Jefferson County District Judge Lily Oeffler ruled the association can keep the couple from smoking in their own home.

Oeffler stated "smoke and/or smoke smell" is not contained to one area and that smoke smell "constitutes a nuisance." She noted that under condo declarations, nuisances are not allowed.

The couple now has to light up on the street in front of their condominium building.
The HOA is not even arguing the ill-effects of second-hand smoke in this case, merely the presence of smoking as a "nuisance" to fellow condo-owners. (a real issue that should be addressed is the relative ease of transferance of the smoke; the condos appear to be poorly constructed and perhaps the unit managers/owners should be held responsible for the proper insulation necessary for separating the units more clearly, including sealant and duct-work) Appended to the "nuisance" claim is one of nanny-state collectivism, where "community interests" trump individual rights and responsibility, as well as privacy in one's own home:
Other homeowners believe, as with loud music, that the rights of a community trump the rights of individual residents. The HOA is also concerned that tenants will sue those homeowners for exposure to second-hand smoke and this could be a liability issue.
This logical progression from smoking restrictions to public smoking bans to private smoking bans exemplifies why slippery-slope arguments, while often overused, actually apply to situations such as this. Well-intentioned, save-you-from-yourself legislators and activist groups, push legislation that incrementally removes individual rights all the while arguing that such enactments "save lives" or that their superior intellect has determined what is right for everyone in society. Similar to proposed bans on trans-fats in New York, and previous attempts to ban firearms, and perhaps future targets such as the consumption of meat, all citizens should be aware of the erosion of their inherent rights, especially when those rights are targeted within one's own home. Don't let the nanny-state collectivists determine what is or is not good for you, that should be your choice and your responsibility.


November 15, 2006

Vatican Asks Muslims To Respect "Traditions, Culture and Religion" Of Adopted Countries, Take Off Veils

Break out the riot gear, there could be more "pope rage" on the horizon:
A senior Vatican cardinal has expressed concern over the use of some Muslim veils by Islamic immigrants in Europe.

This is the first time that the Vatican has joined in the Europe-wide debate on how women who insist on wearing the veil affect the integration of Muslims.

Cardinal Renato Martino said immigrants must respect the traditions, culture and religion of the nations they go to.

They ought to abide by local laws banning the wearing of certain types of Muslim veils, he added.

"It seems elementary to me and it is quite right that the authorities demand it," said Cardinal Martino, who heads the Vatican department dealing with migration issues.
I'm outraged!

Not really.

But don't be surprised to see signs demanding beheadings, riots, or other violence. We haven't yet met our Muslim rage quota for the month of November.


Global Warming Heats Up; Sen. Boxer To Chair EPW Committee

First, blame Hollywood:
Hollywood is creating a film of a different kind over Greater Los Angeles: smog, soot and greenhouse gases, according to a UCLA report due out today.

The report found that the film and television industry emits a whopping 140,000 tons a year of ozone and diesel particulate pollutant emissions from trucks, generators, special effects earthquakes and fires, demolition of sets with dynamite and other sources.
Speaking of California smog, here comes Sen. Boxer:
Automakers and manufacturers, beware: There's a new environmental policy boss in town, she scowls a lot, and two of her favorite phrases are "global warming" and "extensive hearings."

The Democrats' coming takeover of Congress is expected to feel pressure for policy change on a number of fronts, from Iraq to taxes, but the starkest change may come at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, when Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., will surrender the gavel to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Her appointment was announced Tuesday, but won't take effect until January.

Inhofe rejects a wide scientific consensus that human use of fossil fuels is largely responsible for catastrophic climate change, calling it "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." He's accused environmental activists of exploiting people's fears to raise money. And he's blocked legislation aimed at curbing global warming.

Boxer, in contrast, is a fiercely liberal environmental activist. She has railed against Inhofe, crusaded for cleaner drinking water and led wilderness protection efforts in her home state and for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Replacing rational skepticism with liberal bloviations. These are just some of the consequences of the GOP loss. The enviros are, of course, grinning from ear to ear with moonbat glee. Skeptics--vilified in the liberal press and by agenda-driven scholars uncomfortable with dissent--are regularly characterized as incompetent rubes ignorant of scientific "fact" or agents of "big business" and therefore unwelcome at any "global warming" conference:
"The skeptics who get vocal are vilified," said Marc Morano, director of communications for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee chairman, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, has enraged environmentalists by calling global warming alarmist and a hoax.

Morano was invited to be part of a panel discussion on how best to convey the issue of climate change in the media. His fellow panelists, including Jules Boykoff of Pacific University in Oregon, argued that skeptics actually get too much attention in the press.

Efforts by journalists to create "balanced" stories on global warming allow "a handful of skeptics . . . to be treated as equals to thousands of scientists," said Boykoff, an assistant professor in the department of politics and government.

Liisa Antilla, a geographer and scholar of global warming, said it was wrong for journalists to "frame climate science as uncertain."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN network of more than 2,000 climate and other scientists, says rising temperatures will expand oceans via heat and runoff of melting land ice; shift climate zones, disrupting agriculture, and lead to more frequent and intense climate events, such as the drought now in its fourth year in East Africa.

Major climate scientists point out that skeptics on global warming rarely publish in peer-reviewed journals, the cornerstone of modern science. As evidence of climate change has mounted in recent years, the skeptics' voices have lessened.

"The shrillness of these skeptics and their numbers have been on the decline," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, told The Associated Press before the panel discussion.

But Morano referred to the two-week UN conference as an "echo chamber" where "the media and climate alarmists demonize climate skeptics."

Pal Prestrud, director of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, shot back that "we're on different planets or maybe even different galaxies."
Skeptics get too much attention? Right.

Most MSM stories treat "global warming" or "climate change" as well-established, scientific fact, above factual reproach. Skeptics are lucky when they are noted in a balanced fashion. Often, they form part of a toss-away sentence that notes their position as very clearly in the minority or simply wrong. Even scientists who agree that warming is taking place but are hesitant to place all the blame on human activity find themselves outside the self-proclaimed "mainstream" and subject to ridicule.

Just ask anthropologists about the scientific "facts" accepted a century ago which clearly divided humanity into distinct and hierarchical "races"--and how the field feels about the status of those theories these days. The argument is not that scientists are wrong about "global warming", but that they could be. Dissent is healthy for scientific inquiry and accepting at face value statements which declare the "global warming" case closed should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism. Absolutist thought once condemned men like Galileo because they challenged accepted doctrine; a free and open debate should surely be the modus operandi of any modern and open society, especially with so much (potentially) on the line.


November 14, 2006

Democrats Announce "No Senator Left Behind Act"

First beneficiary?

He was for it, before he was against it:

Other Senators not left behind:
Trent Lott Wins Back Leadership Slot

Mel Martinez, RNC chair...Sigh...

ABC News: Abramoff implicates Reid


Leave Christmas Alone, Or The Muslims Suffer

From the UK--hey officials, leave Christmas alone:
Christian and Muslim Britons joined forces on Monday to tell city officials to stop taking the Christianity out of Christmas, warning them that this fueled right-wing extremism.

They attacked local authorities which used titles like "Winterval" for their Christmas celebrations and avoided using Christian symbols in case they offended minority groups, especially Muslims and Hindus.

The question of how best to integrate Muslims into European society, which has Christian roots but is increasingly secular, has become a burning issue, with Britain playing its part in the debate after years of promoting multiculturalism.

The Christian Muslim Forum, set up by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Church of England, complained that taking the Christian message out of Christmas played into the hands of right-wing extremists who then accused Muslims of undermining Britain's Christian culture.

"The desire to secularize religious festivals is in itself offensive to both our communities," said Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, vice chairman of the forum.

Anglican Bishop of Bolton David Gillett said that when local authorities rename Christmas so as not to offend other religions, their stance "will tend to backfire badly on the Muslim community in particular."

"We are concerned that those approaches which are based on anti-religious philosophies or a fear of religion are causing alienation in a wide variety of communities and fanning the growth of extremism," said Gillett, the forum chairman.
So secularization threatens religion, especially Islam--even if it is only directed at such foolish Christian activities such as Christmas?

Odd allies indeed.

Attacking Christian symbols or holidays=fostering "right-wing extremism" that targets Islam. Why not actually explore the true source of outrage on the part of some Britons at the attitudes of the Muslim community when it comes to things like bombings, riots, and calls for beheadings on a frequent basis? Attempting to garner sympathy or support by triangulating Christians and other Brits tired of attacks on their religion--Christianity being the sole target of well-meaning atheists, secularists, and diversity thugs--by claiming that Muslims suffer through a trickle-down effect of "right-wing extremism". Extreme anti-religious attitudes combined with supportive or neutral attitudes on the part of British Muslims toward global jihad has produced the so-called "backlash", not attacks on Christmas.


Celebrating One Year At Slapstick Politics

When this blog started, it lacked a general theme, and had ill-defined interest areas. Surprisingly, it made it to 2006, and has taken off from there.

Thanks to the nearly fifty thousand unique visitors that dropped by in the first year. Thank you to the bigger blogs like Michelle Malkin, Gateway Pundit, and Hot Air, who felt some of the entries here were worthy enough for a link.

Stay tuned for Slapstick Politics 2.0--coming soon!


Colorado 2006 Winners And Losers

ColoradoPols (winners/losers) and ToTheRight offer their take on Election 2006 in Colorado. Though the dust still hasn't settled just one week after the election, the fallout is already being felt.

ColoradoPols' Big Line 2008 is also up.


November 13, 2006

Rabbi Calls For "UN Of Religions"

To be as weak and ineffectual, replete with scandal and corrupution, as the original:
The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, has called for the creation of a world body with representatives from the major religious groups.

Rabbi Metzger was addressing the International Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain.

He called for the formation of a "United Nations of religious groups".

The Imam of Gaza, Imad al-Faluji, said politicians lied but religious leaders had a different objective - to work towards a higher good.

The imams and rabbis at this conference, which opened on Sunday, say the world is in crisis and it is time they acted to restore justice, respect and peace.
Lay off the suicide bombs, beheadings, IEDs, cartoon rage and pope riots and perhaps mutual justice, respect and peace will return.

Of course, this all part of a plan to "bridge the gap" between Muslims and the West:
A cross-cultural group of 20 prominent world figures has called for urgent effort to heal the growing divide between Muslim and Western societies.

They say the chief causes of the rift are not religion or history, but recent political developments, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Or jihad.
The panel, drawn together by the UN, says a climate of mutual fear and stereotypes is worsening the problem.

To combat hostility bred of ignorance, they want education and media projects.

The Alliance of Civilisations, which includes Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, dismisses the notion that a clash of civilisations is inevitable, but says that swift action is needed.

Their findings were presented in a report to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a ceremony in Istanbul on Monday morning.

The group argues that the need to build bridges between Muslim and Western societies has never been greater:
Peoples who feel that they face persistent discrimination, humiliation, or marginalisation are reacting by asserting their identity more aggressively

Alliance of Civilisations report
Asserting their identity "more aggressively" through jihad. Other culprits for Muslim discontent, aside from not rolling over and already accepting dhimmitude? Globalization. The United States--we are the Great Satan, remember? President Bush. Pork products. France.



Judge Grants Injunction To Bar NCAA From Banning The "Fighting Sioux" From Hosting Playoff Game

The NCAA values the monopoly it holds on forwarding "diversity" by blocking schools with Indian nicknames, and hates when it is challenged:
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- A district judge has granted a preliminary injunction to stop the NCAA from banning the University of North Dakota from hosting a postseason game because of its "Fighting Sioux" nickname, state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said.

Stenehjem said judge Lawrence Jahnke alerted him to the decision Saturday night. Stenehjem did not know the details.

UND is among a handful of schools with American Indian nicknames and logos that the NCAA considers hostile and abusive. Those schools are barred from holding postseason tournaments, or from using their nicknames during road playoff games.

. . .

"We are disappointed in the preliminary ruling but will continue to defend the NCAA's right and responsibility to enact guidelines in the best interest of our member schools, our student-athletes and our fans," the statement said.


Denver's DNC Bid In 2008 Hinges On Union Support

The increasingly Democratic voting Colorado--putting the "purple" in "purple mountain's majesty--could see its bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention lose to New York without key labor support:
A blue oasis in the heart of the predominantly Republican Rocky Mountain West, Denver could lose its bid to lure the 2008 Democratic National Convention unless it can win the support of an important constituency _ labor unions.

The city's prospects for securing the convention were boosted in Tuesday's election by Democratic victories across Colorado _ including the pickup of the governor's office and a House seat. They showed the party's success in making inroads in normally GOP terrain.

Denver also boasts a renovated convention center and a flashy new hotel.

What it does not have, at least yet, is the support of union members. Without it, Denver has no chance of beating New York City in the competition for a political plum.


November 10, 2006

Retail Giants Wal-Mart, Target Rediscover Christmas

In a sign that this week's GOP loss had nothing to do with a tide against conservative values, retail giants Wal-Mart, Target, and Macy's discovered their hearts and bottom-lines were two sizes too small and have rediscovered Christmas (video):
Wal-Mart made clear Thursday that it's kicking off the "Christmas" season.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers are giving the holiday's name top billing once more, replacing the presumably more politically correct and recently -ubiquitous "Happy Holidays."

The moves come after criticism last season by Christian groups, angry and worried that in losing the greeting, the stores were weakening the holiday's meaning.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. was criticized early last season by the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association for using the phrase "Happy Holidays" in advertising.

. . .

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart is encouraging employees to offer up whichever holiday greetings are more comfortable or appropriate, from "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Kwanzaa."

Target has issued no greeting guidelines to its employees, Heath said.

"Team members can say whatever they feel is appropriate to guests," she said.
You mean that people have the freedom to acknowledge Christianity while still being inclusive, the way the founders intended? What a shock!

They also found out how bad ignoring Christmas is for business:
Wal-Mart has told its employees that it's OK to once again greet shoppers by saying "Merry Christmas" this holiday season instead of the generic "Happy Holidays."

CNN confirmed that Wal-Mart will announce Thursday that it plans to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in products and around its stores this holiday season.

The announcement comes a year after religious groups such as The American Family Association and The Catholic League boycotted retailers including Wal-Mart last holiday season for excluding the word "Christmas" from products sold in stores.

"We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley told USA Today in a separate report. "We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas.' We'll use it early, and we'll use it often."
How will Wal-Mart, Target, and others spread the Christmas cheer this year? Here's how:
This holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart's specific references to Christmas will include:
• A 60 percent increase in seasonal merchandise selections renamed from "Holiday" and labeled with "Christmas."
• Renaming of the The Holiday Shop to The Christmas Shop, an area with items for shoppers' Christmas decorating needs.
• Addition of "Days till Christmas" countdown signs.
• Customers will see Santa and "Merry Christmas" on gift cards as gift-giving options this Christmas.
• Christmas carols piped in stores throughout the holiday season.
• Employees at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club are being encouraged to greet customers utilizing various glad tidings inclusive of, but not limited to, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and Feliz Navidad.
• At, there will be dedicated pages for Christmas and other holidays, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

All ads but one will use "Merry Christmas" as a tagline.
Ads in Spanish will wish shoppers "Feliz Navidad."
Some departments will be renamed - for example, what was "Holiday Music" last year becomes "Christmas Music."

Adding Christmas signage in all of its department stores.

Playing up Christmas this year in its TV, print and radio advertising.
Last year, John Gibson's book The War on Christmas highlighted the growing PC "holidays" appellation and a creeping disdain by liberals, atheists and ACLU types for all things "Christmas". It appears the battle has shifted as marketing directors realized that given this country's large Christian population, Christmas should be embraced, not rejected or supplanted by meaningless platitudes like "happy holidays". These stores will recognize the other holidays occurring at this time of year, and will have products available for them as well.

The knee-jerk elimination of any reference to Christmas, especially in the retail context, for the sake of a handful of thin-skinned individuals unable to coexist with a few (million) dusty old Christians and in the name of multicultural/political correctness/diversity thuggishness is short-sighted financially. Glad to see that the bottom line, as well as a rediscovery of every retailers' target market--Christmas shoppers--puts Christmas back in the stores, where it belongs! Glad to see retailers acknowledge the views of one of the largest segments of their consumer population, and treat them with respect. The phrase is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. That is, of course, until the ACLU finds out about this nefarious "Christmas" scheme.

Merry Christmas! (only 44 days!)



November 09, 2006

Beauprez's Comedy Of Unforced Errors

"It was always hard to tell if he really wanted it"

The Denver Post chronicles Beauprez's many campaign woes:
Often there is a moment in time that, viewed in retrospect, reveals where things went wrong.

In the case of Bob Beauprez's gubernatorial bid, however, the moments were legion.

Political professionals said a mix of wayward campaign strategies, poor timing and the political judgment of Beauprez himself all contributed to a resounding loss for a candidate who 18 months ago was handpicked by the Republican establishment to be the next governor of Colorado.

. . .

There was his tepid stance against Referendum C and D that alienated the business community and set up the label "Both Ways Bob" early on.

And his official campaign kickoff speech in January played sharply to the right, a position he refused to back off from even after his primary opponent, Marc Holtzman, exited the race in June.

He lost his seasoned campaign manager, then handed the reins to his relatively inexperienced communications director.

Then, despite the backlash over his Referendum C stance, he made a public splash by being the first person to sign a petition to roll back provisions of the measure that let the state keep extra tax revenue.

He blew a golden opportunity to pick a moderate running mate in August, and instead tapped Janet Rowland who once asked during a discussion of gay marriage: "Do we allow a man to marry a sheep?"

Two weeks later he contended that black women get abortions at the "appalling" rate of up to 70 percent.

And finally, political analysts threw up their hands in disbelief when he ended the fall campaign season with television ads that had him appearing next to a horse's rear and an FBI investigation into where his campaign obtained information for an attack ad.

. . .

"It was topsy-turvey," said GOP consultant Katy Atkinson, who also said that Beauprez didn't always appear as if he was ready to be governor.

"It was always hard to tell if he really wanted it," she said.

Over Labor Day weekend, which marks the traditional start of campaign season, Beauprez went to the mountains with his family while Ritter hit five counties.

Toward the end of the campaign, just as it appeared Beauprez had found a issue that might politically damage Ritter, it exploded in his face. After Beauprez ran television ads showing that Ritter's office had plea-bargained with illegal and legal immigrants, the FBI launched an investigation into whether some of the information in the ads was obtained illegally.
In order to move forward without the usual recriminations and claims of victimhood, the Colorado GOP should learn from the lessons provided by the debacle known as the Beauprez campaign, not simply acknowledge them and continue with business as usual. Business as usual has meant the loss of two congressional seats, a senate seat, the governorship, and both state houses in the legislature.