November 30, 2010

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Good evening all.

LEGO® STAR WARS™: BOMBAD BOUNTY

Even with Jar-Jar and hand-less Lego people I'd still much rather watch 120 minutes of this than any of Lucas' three prequels.

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Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:54 PM | Comments (317)
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Euro-contagion spreads [Fritzworth]
— Open Blogger

It's 2:40 am Wednesday morning here in Paris, and I'm wide awake -- not because of jet lag, but because I came down ill with a 24-hr bug on Monday night and slept most of Tuesday. The good news is that I'll get more euros when I withdraw cash from the friendly neighborhood ATM in the morning:


Investors dismissed European leaders' latest attempt to restore market calm, raising doubts about whether governments can rebuild confidence in the region's common currency amid signs that the debt crisis is creeping deeper into the Continent.


The euro fell to a 10-week low, and was below $1.30 in late New York trading. Bond markets across Europe's vulnerable fringe sank, as the "risk premium" investors demand for lending to Spain and Italy hit record highs. Standard & Poor's said after European markets closed it is considering a downgrade on Portugal's credit rating, citing economic pressures and increased risks to the government's creditworthiness.

The eurozone was, for the most part, a collectivist pipe dream fueled by grand intentions -- the classic liberal fallacy of "if we just mean well, it will all work out." Megan McArdle, a libertarian economist, suspects the euro, as a currency, may not survive. More disturbingly, McArdle -- no alarmist or ideologue -- has real concerns about what lies ahead for all of us:


Europe cannot let its banks fail, but it also can't divert public pensions to line the pockets of bankers. Yet it may well have to do one or the other. I am also expecting finance to win. Forget whether Germany has the political will to bail out the PIIGS: does either the EU, or the ECB, actually have the means to bail out all five? If Spain topples, that is what it will come to.


This is starting to throw off more echoes of the Great Depression, where you have a sequence of crises, each touched off by the ones that came before, like dominos falling into some diabolic design. Europe and America thought they'd seen the worst of things by the end of 1930, only to be knocked back down even harder by the contagion of the Creditanstalt crisis. In the US, the crisis ultimately triggered a string of bank failures worse than those sparked by the initial stock market crash, and the worst two years of the Great Depression were 1932-3.

Hey, if I can't sleep, there's no reason why you should get to. ..fritz..

Posted by: Open Blogger at 03:47 PM | Comments (147)
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The Post-Apocalyptic Thanksgiving Feast NFL Week 12 Pickem Results
— Dave in Texas

You're making your football picks, and you wanna land your football picks in solid double digits. You not only look at the spread, you look at the f'n win/loss records.

What are you lookin at?

Do you need me to get Vinny Falcone to show you the Vegas line?

Well do you?

joltin' j's 99
Quarreyman 98
Iowa Amy 98
Reggie Bush's Birth Cert 97
Commando Pete 96
Bruin 22 96

The Guys Get Shirts

Ben 87
DrewM 85
CDR M 81
Russ from Winterset 77
DiT 76

Full value for your money. Also could somebody please give me some intelligent f'n answers?

Put me some knowledge.

Also, because you haz been good, and I'm not at work. more...

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 02:40 PM | Comments (89)
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The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Report
— Gabriel Malor

After nine months of study, including the largest ever survey of troops on a personnel matter, the DOD working group instituted to review the law known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell has released its results and recommendations.

It's actually too long and complicated to summarize all of it, but I will highlight a few things that caught my eye because they repeatedly come up in comments here when DADT is discussed. (You can get a fair overview of the more general findings from Allah.)

First, in the recommendations portion of the report, the working group found that sexual orientation should not be placed alongside race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, as a class eligible for various diversity programs, tracking initiatives, and complaint resolution processes. It noted that such special treatment would itself cause problems. Instead, complaints of discrimination, if they occur, "should be dealt with through existing mechanisms—primarily the chain of command—available for complaints not involving race, color, sex, religion, or national origin."

Second, the study found that among those opposed to repeal, one of the most-repeated concerns was "open" service:

Repeatedly, we heard Service
members express the view that “open” homosexuality would lead to widespread and overt displays of effeminacy among men, homosexual promiscuity, harassment and unwelcome advances within units, invasions of personal privacy, and an overall erosion of standards of conduct, unit cohesion, and morality. Based on our review, however, we conclude that these concerns about gay and lesbian Service members who are permitted to be “open” about their sexual orientation are exaggerated, and not consistent with the reported experiences of many Service members.

That's from the executive summary. If you dig into the report you find a marked difference between the conduct anticipated by troops who say they have never served alongside a gay or lesbian person and the troops who say they already have. The report also found that when Service members who had already served with (or believed they served with) a gay or lesbian person 92% stated that their unit's "ability to work together, was "very good," "good" or "neither good nor poor." Hence the conclusion of the study that fears of "open" service are exaggerated.

Nevertheless, to alleviate these concerns, the working group recommends training to remind troops and leaders that standards of conduct already exist which regulate inappropriate dress and appearance; acts of violence, harassment, and disrespect; and (in the Marines) public displays of affection. The working group also recommends that the Services review their standards of conduct to make sure they are sexual-orientation neutral and applied that way. Finally, the working group reminds commanders that they already have myriad tools to punish and remedy inappropriate conduct.

Third, I was struck by this particular statistic:

The survey results also reveal, within warfighting units, negative predictions about serving alongside gays decrease when in “intense combat situations.” In response to question 71a, for example, 67% of those in Marine combat arms units predict working alongside a gay man or lesbian will have a negative effect on their unit’s effectiveness in completing its mission “in a field environment or out at sea.” By contrast, in response to the same question, but during “an intense combat situation,” the percentage drops to 48%.21 See section VII. While 48% indicates a significant level of concern, the near 20-point difference in these two environments reflects that, in a combat situation, the warfighter appreciates that differences with those within his unit become less important than defeating the common enemy.

Fourth, the working group study is adamant that creating separate housing, bathroom, and shower facilities for gays and lesbians will stigmatize gays in the service (and also oddly require gays and lesbians to disclose their sexuality, something the report finds most do not want to do). The report goes so far as to refer to this idea, mentioned by many Service members during the review and publicly speculated on by Marine Commandant Gen. Amos, as "separate but equal" and flatly rejects it.

Finally, though it does not appear within the report, the whole study is premised on the idea that the DOD will have some time to implement training to minimize the risk of disruption. Sec. Gates has repeated over and over during the past month that it would be better for DOD to have some control over the process than to cede that control to the courts. He repeated that argument during the announcement today:

He said a sudden, court-issued mandate would significantly increase the risk of disruption.

"Given the present circumstances, those that choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts," Gates told reporters.

He noted that the version of DADT repeal that has already passed the House and that is currently pending in the Senate contains a delay provision under which repeal actually occurs only after certification of the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It therefore gives the military the time to prepare that the working group found necessary.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:10 PM | Comments (272)
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Uh-Oh: Age-Related Disease Reversed In Mice?
— Ace

Hmmmm...

We wanted to know: If you could flip the telomerase switch on and restore telomeres in animals with entrenched age-related disease, what would happen? Would it slow down aging, stabilize it, or even reverse it?
It was akin to a Ponce de León [the Spanish explorer looking for the Fountain of Youth] effect. When we flipped the telomerase switch on and looked a month later, the brains had largely returned to normal.

One of the most amazing changes was in the animals' testes, which were essentially barren as aging caused the death and elimination of sperm cells. When we restored telomerase, the testes produced new sperm cells, and the animals' fecundity was improved - their mates gave birth to larger litters.

Why the "uh-oh" in the headline? I don't know. Just seems so big, possibly, it deserves an uh-oh.


Posted by: Ace at 12:51 PM | Comments (77)
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Cantor: We'll Be Including The Most Popular Basic Bits of ObamaCare When We Propose Our New Health Care Reform
— Ace

I have dreaded posting this because I know it will be bait for me to get into arguments with people, which I just don't want to do. So I won't.

I'll just note my belief that the odds of defeating ObamaCare politically will go up significantly if there's some kind of more-attractive but less-intrusive replacement on the horizon. Conservatives have seized, kind of oddly, on ObamaCare's keep-kids-on-your-insurance-'till-they're-26 provision, but I think it's too popular to get rid of, and trying to get rid of it will threaten the more important goal of getting rid of socialized medicine.

The other part is also popular -- no barring coverage for those with pre-existing conditions -- but it's also extremely costly and without any good way to implement it. The problem is, of course, that you can't have free riders skipping insurance all their lives until the day they're diagnosed with a costly illness, then signing up and paying what healthy people pay.

I don't know how you get around this -- you either have to force people to buy insurance, which is of course a no-go (and might in fact get ObamaCare struck down by the courts), or you... no idea. You just subsidize their game-the-system behavior.

You could make people pay very high premiums indeed if they do this, penalizing the game-the-system types, but in the end, you can't penalize them enough to make this an unattractive proposition.

Politico Spins: Politico wrote its article suggesting that parts of ObamaCare would be "retained," according Eric Cantor. I always knew that was false-- a false way to put it. Cantor wants to replace ObamaCare, repeal it, then propose a new reform; Politico tries to suggest that ObamaCare would be "retained." No, no.

Anyway, I knew Politico was lying about that part of it from the get-go and declined to follow their spin. However, Eric Cantor is proposing that two popular parts of ObamaCare be part of the replacement bill; that part's true.

Politico updated to note its initial lie:

Editor's note: This article was changed at 1:57 p.m.. The Hill incorrectly reported in the initial version that Cantor wants to keep certain provisions of the healthcare law intact. The article was revised to emphasize that Cantor and House Republicans are pursuing a full repeal of healthcare reform while addressing issues in the law, such as pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to stay on their parents' insurance plan, in their replacement bill. Both provisions are in current law, but Republicans would deal with them differently than Democrats did in the bill that passed earlier this year.

I changed a word in my own headline to further distance myself from Politico's spin.

Honestly, on this one, I wasn't fooled. I just sort of assumed Politico was deliberately distorting Cantor's words and read past that.


Posted by: Ace at 12:01 PM | Comments (222)
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"This Is Why The American People Have Thrown You Out of Power!"
— Ace

In a way, yes. Refusing to even recognize opposing voices in debate? Yep, that was definitely part of it.

In case you're curious as I was, Laura Richardson was alas not personally thrown out of power. How sweet that would have been-- to be able to say, "And that's why you personally were fired."

She ran for reelection in California's 37th (Long Beach, Compton) and easily beat challenger Star Parker.

And if you like that, you'll like UK Independence Party (euro-skeptic) Nigel Farage take the euro-fanatics to task, asking them, "Just who in the hell do you think you are?"


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Posted by: Ace at 11:48 AM | Comments (41)
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Dirty Hobo Gets Probation For Sexually Violating Dog
— Ace

WikiLeaks just released this long-suppressed intelligence supporting my unending war on shiftless drifters.

At the time of his arrest, Strickland was "found with two dogs, including the victim, and pornographic material in his possession," according to the city prosecutors.

That pornographic material? Snausage Lovers.

Posted by: Ace at 10:39 AM | Comments (179)
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The Upside of WikiLeaks: Russia Next?
— Ace

Actually, I believe Assange is a coward who only wishes to preen as a dangerous rebel with states that will not kill him (such as America), and thus capitalize on unearned status -- he likes to play the hunted revolutionary without having to actually be hunted.

When it comes to a state that will in fact kill him, he will fold like a cheap suit. (I realize that makes no sense.)

So I doubt that Captain Ed's belief that Assange is about to provoke the wrong enemy is correct.

I doubt it will happen, I can't help but wanting this dump to occur:

National security officials say that the National Security Agency, the U.S. government’s eavesdropping agency, has already picked up tell-tale electronic evidence that WikiLeaks is under close surveillance by the Russian FSB, that country’s domestic spy network, out of fear in Moscow that WikiLeaks is prepared to release damaging personal information about Kremlin leaders.

“We may not have been able to stop WikiLeaks so far, and it’s been frustrating,” a U.S. law-enforcement official tells The Daily Beast. “The Russians play by different rules.” He said that if WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, follow through on threats to post highly embarrassing information about the Russian government and what is assumed to be massive corruption among its leaders, “the Russians will be ruthless in stopping WikiLeaks.”

Although these leaks have been damaging to foreign policy -- especially in Yemen, where a cooperate government was just outed as dishonestly claiming it wasn't cooperative -- there are some upsides.

Revelations about Iran and North Korea should not have been suppressed from the American public. We are entitled to know, roughly, what enemy nations are doing, and how great a danger they pose. In the case of Iran and North Korea, America's official word tends to strongly understate how much danger these states pose.

This is one of the greatest powers of the presidency -- the president may decide what is and what is not a foreign policy threat or crisis. If he wishes to take action against such a state, he outs the information about it (as we did in the case of Iraq).

On the other hand, if he doesn't wish to act, he also doesn't want the public clamoring for action he has no intention of carrying through on, so he simply suppresses information about how much of a threat a nation poses. This doesn't make the threat go away -- it only takes it off the front pages. It removes the threat only from the public debate.

George W. Bush suppressed information about how truly bad-behaving North Korea was, because he was not ready to kick that particular hornet's nest, and Obama has continued doing so.

In this case, WikiLeaks has outed information we should have known all along -- that North Korea is providing advanced missiles to Iran, for example. The reason to withhold this information had little to do with protecting America's foreign policy interest; it had instead to do protecting the current and past administrations' political interest.

No president wants it talked about in the press that there's a pressing foreign threat that he intends to studiously ignore, and that the nation's real policy regarding that threat is to cross fingers and hope for the best.

Assange is a rotten bastard who deserves a bad end. I'm not claiming he's the hero he preens as or anything close to it. He's a villain. But administrations do typically attempt to "manage foreign policy" not by actually managing it, but primarily by managing public opinion about their policy (or lack thereof), and they do so by hiding information from the public.

That's an improper use of the classification system. It's not letting Assange off the hook to say that Obama shouldn't be hiding evidence of Iran's and North Korea's bad behavior from the public just to keep us in the dark about it and keep his poll ratings from dropping another 3 or 4 points.

The ironic thing is that Assange has outed more information about the bad behavior of hostile foreign states than about his true enemy, America. But perhaps that's predictable, since America is a well-behaved state. Perhaps a little too well-behaved for its own good.


By the Way: A spy-type did write to me yesterday, to say that yes, intelligence agents already do prepare multiple versions of their reports in different levels of sensitivity.

The problem, this guy noted, is simply that this idiot private Manning was an intelligence analyst, which he never should have been (indeed, he shouldn't have been in the military at all), and thus had access to secret documents in raw form as part of his job.

Another problem that was noted is that we make too many things secret, which then has a bad effect: Because so many things are secret (or top secret, or above that), many people wind up not being able to do their jobs without secret (or better) clearance, so we grant them that clearance, and inadvertently wind up giving them access to stuff that's unnecessary to do their jobs as well as a lot more sensitive. His suggestion was to make fewer things secret (just make them classified) so that we can give the less-dangerous classified clearance to more people and the more-dangerous secret clearance to fewer people.


Posted by: Ace at 09:17 AM | Comments (203)
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Atlantic Writer: Democrats Are As Pure As The Driven Snow And Republicans Are Nothing But Ruthless And Opportunistic Thugs
— DrewM

Normally the best thing to do with anyone who writes for the company that employs Linda “Report all lies against the regime” Douglas and Andrew “Show me the afterbirth” Sullivan is to ignore them. Sometimes though one of them writes something so ridiculous it’s necessary to call them out on their BS. This James Fallows post is one such time.

Fallows was responding to Ross Douthat’s contention that conservative anger about the TSA now and not under Bush is part of the ebb and flow of politics…you let things slide when your guy does it but get outraged when ‘they’ do it. Fallows thinks this is unfair to Democrats and liberals and that only Republicans and conservatives are guilty of this particular sin.

Stop laughing, he really seems to think this.

The TSA case, on which Douthat builds his column, is in fact quite a poor illustration -- rather, a good illustration for a different point. There are many instances of the partisan dynamic working in one direction here. That is, conservatives and Republicans who had no problem with strong-arm security measures back in the Bush 43 days but are upset now. Charles Krauthammer is the classic example: forthrightly defending torture as, in limited circumstances, a necessary tool against terrorism, yet now outraged about "touching my junk" as a symbol of the intrusive state.

This is such a delicious example of liberal ‘thinking’. Fallows’ example doesn’t demonstrate Krauthammer’s lack of principles. What that paragraph does is demonstrate that Fallows and many other liberals simply can’t differentiate between how the US government should and is required to treat its own citizens on American soil and how it may deal with non-citizen, enemies outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

Fallows is free to make the case that people in line to get on an airplane and enemy combatants captured in a war with Islamic fundamentalists but he doesn’t get to steal that base and simply say people who don’t agree with him are intellectually inconsistent and opportunistic.

It would be bad enough if Fallows stopped there but he didn’t.

So: it's nice and fair-sounding to say that the party-first principle applies to all sides in today's political debate. Like it would be nice and fair-sounding to say that Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress are contributing to obstructionism and party-bloc voting. Or that Fox News and NPR have equal-and-offsetting political agendas in covering the news. But it looks to me as if we're mostly talking about the way one side operates. Recognizing that is part of facing the reality of today's politics.

Democrats aren’t ‘guilty’ of “party-bloc voting”? Has he checked the Senate roll-calls on the vote for the so-called “stimulus” bill? Or health care reform? Or the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Can he find one Democrat who voted against either of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees?

Fallows is right about one thing...for the last two years Democrats haven’t been ‘guilty’ of “obstructionism”. How could they obstruct anything when they control the White House, the Senate and the House?

On the other hand, I do seem to recall a fair bit of Democratic “obstructionism” when George W. Bush was trying to get some judges on various courts of appeal or when Bush wanted to pass the free trade agreement with one of our most important allies in South American, Colombia.

I’m sure if I spent more than 5 minutes thinking about it I could come up with dozens of other examples where Democrats obstructed Bush’s agenda (Social Security reform pops to mind) but in Fallows world, nothing like that ever happened.

I can’t get worked up about the opportunism of politicians, like the proverbial scorpion, it’s their nature. While I enjoy tweaking liberals like Fallows and their rose colored glasses, I don’t get worked up over their idiocy…it is after all just their nature.

Added: I forgot to include this bit of news from today's meeting between Obama and Republican congressional leaders.

Senior admin official tells CNN the President did tell Repubs behind closed doors he failed to reach out enough in 1st 2 yrs

Ah, you see Obama didn't reach out to Republicans for two years for a very simple reason...he didn't need them. They simply didn't matter given the overwhelming numbers Democrats had in both houses. Now however the situation is different and Obama will act differently or at least will give lip service to it when it's politically helpful.

It's almost as if Obama lied about his interest in bi-partisanship and is now acting differently simply out of political expediency. I'm shocked!

I eagerly await Fallows taking Obama to task for this. Or you know, not.

Posted by: DrewM at 08:54 AM | Comments (92)
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Hmmm: NASA Sets Press Conference To Announce Something Or Other Having To Do With Search For Extraterrestrial Life
— Ace

This Thursday, at 1 pm CST, which is of course 2 pm for the East Coast.

NASA has scheduled a press conference in Washington Thursday to discuss an astrobiology finding that will affect the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

WikiLeaks is reporting that Hillary Clinton already described the newly-discovered space protein in unflattering terms and also directed NASA employees to look into its pornography rental history.

Hey-Space-Protein-You-Party.jpg

Thanks to Circa.

NASA Now In The Viral Marketing Business? Sharkman posted this trailer for a Marines vs. Alien Invader movie due out in March.

Pretty good effects. more...

Posted by: Ace at 07:43 AM | Comments (156)
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Deficit Reduction Plan Unlikely To Garner Votes Necessary To Force a Vote In Congress
— Ace

Yet another blue ribbon panel that accomplishes nothing.

Well, it accomplished what it was intended to -- to give Obama six months (or whatever) of free time during which he could duck questions on an important issue by saying "Let the panel do its work." That's the point of all these commissions. To buy time, to avoid the decisions they're supposedly their to make.

To force a vote in Congress, 14 of the 18 members of the commission (containing six former members of Congress and twelve serving members) would have to vote in favor of one plan, and no one expects that to happen.

On FoxNews Sunday this week, Bill Kristol was more sanguine, happy that the commission was at least producing some ideas that were receiving some consideration and debate, surprised that a former Clinton official (not part of this commission) proposed a major change to Medicare that was similar to Paul Ryan's approach. (Rivkin's big idea was to reform Medicare from defined-contribution to defined-benefit, which is a key change to protect its solvency.)

I don't know how similar that is to Ryan's idea, apart from that defined-benefit thing, as Ryan is proposing that each Medicare recipient be given an $11,000 (per year) voucher to purchase private insurance. Rivkin's plan would, I imagine, keep Medicare a government program. But Kristol was taking his victories where he could find them.

It's something of a victory that Obama is proposing a federal pay freeze. What we need is a federal pay cut (5% for starters) and a hiring freeze combined with workforce reduction, but Obama was at least spurred to move in our direction. But what he proposes is plainly inadequate.

Posted by: Ace at 07:13 AM | Comments (111)
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Scientists get cells to switch types/tasks directly, thus avoiding the whole
inefficient/costly/not very fruitful embryonic stem cell nonsense/rabbit hole.

— Purple Avenger

As Joe Biden would say, this is a "big effing deal".

Scientists are reporting early success at transforming one kind of specialized cell into another, a feat of biological alchemy that doctors may someday perform inside a patient’s body to restore health...

...That’s a futuristic idea, but researchers are enthusiastic about the potential for the new direct-conversion approach.

I've always been fairly confident actual science would eventually render all the political/moral/religious theater surrounding the embryonic stem cell kerfluffle obsolete.

When you can work directly with an afflicted individual's cells and DNA to get a result, all the political drama on both sides is reduced to arguments about as abstract/meaningless to Joe SixPack as those positing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 02:43 AM | Comments (170)
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Oklahoma Anti-Sharia Law Update
— Gabriel Malor

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction that enjoins the State of Oklahoma from certifying the election results in State Question 755, the "Save Our State Amendment." SQ 755 would ban Oklahoma courts from using international or Sharia law in making decisions. It passed with 70% of the vote.

From the decision (PDF):

This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights. Throughout the course of our country’s history, the will of the “majority” has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals, an occurrence which our founders foresaw and provided for through the Bill of Rights. As the United States Supreme Court has stated:

The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

[...]

Having carefully reviewed the briefs on this issue, and having heard the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing, the Court finds that entry of a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from certifying the election results for State Question 755 would not be adverse to the public interest. While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out, for the reasons set forth above, the Court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights.

The preliminary injunction will be in force until the judge rules on the merits of the lawsuit, but having already analyzed the constitutional issues, I don't suppose that will take too long and we know which way it will shake out.

My own view is that the judge's order seriously misconstrues the law of standing, which requires a litigant to have a sufficient injury which can be redressed by the court. The court essentially bought the CAIR plaintiff's argument that the Oklahoma amendment would interfere with his free exercise of religion. She credited, among other dubious ideas, the plaintiff's testimony that Sharia law is not law, but rather a religious practice.

As I mentioned on the Pat Campbell Radio Show, if it were true that Sharia law is a religious practice and not law then the First and Fourteenth Amendments would already prevent Oklahoma courts (and all other state courts) from using it. The plaintiff's argument contradicts what he claims is a goal of his lawsuit: to have his will probated under Sharia law. Nevertheless, Judge Miles-LaGrange ate it up.

Expect the Tenth Circuit to spit this one back.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:32 AM | Comments (50)
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Top Headline Comments 11-30-10
— Gabriel Malor

What do you mean THEY cut the power? How can they cut the power, man?

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:05 AM | Comments (56)
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November 29, 2010

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Remembering Leslie Nielsen and Police Squad

After Airplane! but before the Naked Gun movies Nielsen starred in a short-lived Abrahams/Zucker TV series called Police Squad. It only ran for 6 episodes in 1982 before being cancelled but it was so popular on videotape that it was eventually made into the Naked Gun movies. So here's a little taste of what was one of the funniest, shortest TV series ever.

And in case you were wondering how Nielsen got cast in Airplane! in the first place, well this is how:

According to Hollywood legend, the Zucker brothers and Abrams wanted Nielsen for Airplane!, but wondered if he would take the job--skewering the type of character that had been his bread-and-butter for decades. They invited him to lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Hollywood; a farting contest ensued and the producers knew they had their man.
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Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:19 PM | Comments (610)
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Wikileaks Revelation: Obama's Middle East Experts Don't Really Understand Middle East, Arabs
— Maetenloch

Omri Ceren over at Big Peace points out that one of the revelations from Wikileaks is confirmation on how badly Obama and his advisers misunderstood the actual views of Arab leaders.

It's been a long tradition among the Arab countries to publicly blame all of their ills on Israel and the unresolved Palestinian-Jewish conflict. Of course this is mostly propaganda aimed at deflecting their own people's anger away from their repressive governments - in private the Arab rulers are far more concerned about the Iranian threat than Israel or the conditions of the benighted Palestinian people.

bowSaudiKing.jpg

And the Arab leaders like Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah just assumed that the Obama administration was sophisticated enough to understand that this was all public posturing purely for domestic consumption. But when Obama came visiting in June 2009 on his way to give his Cairo speech, they found out how wrong they were. And the trip was something of a disaster:

Under this theory King Abdullah expected to talk about militarily confronting Iran, and he couldn’t believe it when Obama kept reciting bromides about the earth-shattering importance of the Israeli/Arab conflict and his enthusiasm for solving it. That was a regular public topic between the two – Obama’s first talk with Abdullah focused on Gaza and the President later emphasized his abiding support for Saudi Arabia’s “Israel Has To Commit Suicide” plan – but the King kind of thought he was dealing with a serious person who could separate spectacle from policy. Instead he got the equivalent of an International Relations graduate student enamored with pseudo-sophisticated “insights” he’d gleaned from Arab media outlets. Ergo, meltdown.

So not only did Obama and his vaunted middle east policy experts get this wrong, but they seem to have learned nothing from this brush with reality since then. What's worse than having a naive, foolish view of the world? Well how about having a naive, foolish view of the world and then thanks to Wikileaks having it made public for all to see. Even the hapless Jimmy Carter didn't have to deal with that.

Posted by: Maetenloch at 01:33 PM | Comments (195)
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Rumor Confirmed: Obama Traded Missile Shield for Russian Help With Iran That Never Appeared
— Gabriel Malor

In May 2009, rumors surfaced that President Obama was planning to leave several European countries exposed to Russian ambition if Russia would agree to help keep nukes out of Iran.

Rumors confirmed: according to the Wikileaks cables, Obama proposed a trade -- he would cancel the Polish missile shield if Russia would support sanctions for Iran.

The whistle blowing web site, publishing diplomatic cables and other documents via The New York Times, the Guardian (UK) and other media outlets, show that George Bush’s anti-missile shield plan to station 10 interceptor rockets in Poland not far from the Kaliningrad (Russia) border and a radar system in the Czech Republic was seen as an obstacle by Washington in getting tougher sanctions against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The diplomatic cables show that the US believes that Iran has already received missiles from North Korea which could threaten western Europe.

The missile shield was officially canceled in September 2009. Shortly thereafter President Obama met with President Medvedev who came out of the meeting conceding "in some cases, sanctions are inevitable."

A diplomatic victory for Obama? Not remotely. Less than a month later, Russia reversed itself and declared that "[t]hreats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive." After the US and the EU imposed tough penalties on Iran in September of this year, Russia immediately condemned the sanctions regime and started finding ways to undermine it.

Obama sold out our allies to Russia for a bill of goods.

Thanks to Ben.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 12:56 PM | Comments (172)
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Then & Now: NYT On Publishing Illegally Obtained WikiLeaks Reports and Illegally Obtained ClimateGate Data
— Ace

Here's what the NYT had to say during ClimateGate:

“The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.” Andrew Revkin, Environment Editor, New York Times Nov 20, 2009.

That sentence almost invents new punctuation used to denote sniffing and chin-elevating.

Here's what they say today:

“The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. The New York Times and a number of publications in Europe were given access to the material several weeks ago and agreed to begin publication of articles based on the cables online on Sunday. The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.” New York Times editorial 29/11/2010

What a difference an ideology makes.

James Darymple calls this ideological bias. I'm thinking that's not a strong enough term. That's kind of a so-what sort of thing. Everyone's ideologically biased.

The Times is ideologically biased, for starters. But what they really are -- and all the media is -- is dishonest in service of leftist ideology.

I realize that's what we generally mean when we say "bias," but maybe we should start spelling it out for those who haven't gotten the message. Bias sounds like a penny-ante charge. Dishonesty doesn't, and we need to make clear what the charges against the MFM are.

Posted by: Ace at 11:42 AM | Comments (117)
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Obama: Now That I've Run The Federal Payroll Up To Historic Levels,, Let's Freeze Their Pay
— DrewM

Awww....the poor non-defense federal employees aren't going to get their scheduled raises for two years. My heart bleeds.

Bowing to growing budget concerns and months of Republican political pressure on federal pay and benefits, President Obama today announced he would stop pay increases for most of the two million people who work for the federal government.

The freeze applies to all Executive Branch workers -- including civilian employees of the Defense Department, but does not apply to military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.

"Getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifices and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," Obama said in a speech Monday afternoon explaining the decision. He added, "I did not reach this decision easily, this is not a line item on a federal ledger, these are people's lives."

The decision will save about 30 Billion over the next 5 years.

Here's my thought...not good enough. Not even close.

Obama has run up the size of the federal workforce to historic levels. There are now more federal employees making more than $150,000/year than ever before and all we are doing is eliminating some raises?

That's not even a good start.

Incoming Speaker Boehner says okay but now let's do something more important.

“I welcome President Obama’s announcement, and hope he will build on it by embracing much-needed steps to reduce both the size and the cost of government, including the net federal hiring freeze Republicans propose in our Pledge to America. Without a hiring freeze, a pay freeze won’t do much to rein in a federal bureaucracy that added hundreds of thousands of employees to its payroll over the last two years while the private sector shed millions of jobs.

“Today’s action is a clear indication that the Pledge to America, which lays out concrete steps to cut spending and reduce the size of government, is the right plan to address the people’s priorities. Republicans and Democrats don’t have to wait until January to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes. We can – and should – start right now.”

Again...no good enough. Start firing people. Start closing down programs, offices and whole agencies. Yes, even then, it's a drop in the ocean without entitlement reform. But here's my thing...I'm not as concerned about balancing the budget as an end. To me it's about shrinking the reach and influence of government in and over our lives. It might be possible to devise some strategy to balance the budget and save entitlements at their current levels or near there and that would be a disaster.. A balanced budget (at a much lower percentage of GDP) is simply a pleasant by-product of getting the government back in the box it belongs in. Do that and let free people take care of their own business. more...

Posted by: DrewM at 10:42 AM | Comments (98)
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