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Friday, January 28, 2005

Greenhouse alarmists fight the new sunspot understanding

For the first decade of global warming alarmism (dating from James Hansen dire warnings to Congress in 1987) the skeptics were in a tough position. They could only point to the illogic of thinking that the greenhouse warming effects of carbon-dioxide could be anywhere near as large as the alarmists were claiming. But how to account for the fact that some warming seemed to be occurring, if not by the greenhouse gas effects?

The logical arguments against greenhouse gas effects are strong. Carbon-dioxide traps the same wavelengths of infrared as water vapor does, but on average there is about sixty times as much water vapor as carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere. The only time an increase in carbon-dioxide can have a significant marginal heat-trapping effect is in the absence of water vapor, which only occurs in the coldest air masses, in the middle of the polar night, when a tiny bit of warming effect is going to hurt what, exactly? (See Satanic Gases by Patrick Michaels and Michael Balling, p.89.)

The tiny amount of extra heat trapped by carbon dioxide is imagined by the alarmists to start a viscious cycle, where warming causes increased evaporation of water vapor from the oceans, which traps more heat, etcetera. Some such feedback must occur, but if the cycle is really vicious, why would carbon dioxide be needed to start it? Water vapor is doing all the work. Why put the blame on carbon-dioxide? Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Not suprisingly (given that water vapor feedback effects do not spin out of control) there are some compelling explanations for why water vapor feedback effects might be self-limiting. For one, water vapor creates clouds, which reflect away sunlight. If they reflect away more energy than they trap--as cumulus clouds do--then cloud effects would place a natural limit on water vapor’s “vicious cycle.” (MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen has studied this process.) Also, the more water vapor in the atmosphere, the more efficient the rain cycle, leaving drier air behind, opening up a hole in the sky for heat to escape, and rain (condensation) puts the heat right there (the opposite of the cooling generated by evaporation)in a position to rise thorough the window.

Still, without an alternative explanation for observed warming, the greenhouse gas skeptics got steamrolled. One candidate for an alternative explanation is the solar weather: the storms of solar-magnetic flux that erupt from sunspot activity. Correlations between sunspot activity and climate have been observed for over a century, but no one understood the mechanism. Solar storms cause a slight increase in solar luminescence, but not enough to create a significant warming effect. Where could the warming effect of sunspots be coming from?

Starting in the late 1990’s, astrophysicists started figuring out the answer to this riddle. The storms of solar-magnetic flux that erupt from sunspot activity shield the Earth from cosmic radiation. Cosmic radiation ionizes the atmosphere, which seems to be crucial for cloud formation, so sunspots have the effect of blowing away the cloud cover, giving the Earth a sunburn. Add that sunspot activity has been very high since the 1940's, and the slight global warming observed since the mid 70's could easily be due to this effect.

Now the skeptics are armed, not just with a debunking of the alarmists’ greenhouse gas explanation for observed warming, but also with a compelling alternative explanation of their own. How are the alarmists responding? They are fighting like mad not to acknowledge the competing reason and evidence. Listen to Gavin Schmidt, a global warming alarmist working under the original global warming alarmist, James Hansen, at NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Schmidt is explaining to a non-scientist (science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle) why it is appropriate to ignore the new sunspot science:

“[T]here is no obvious need for ‘new’ or unknown physics to explain what was going on,” Schmidt says That's it! He doesn't "need" it. He and his colleagues have been able to tweak their models so that, when a list of historical variables not including sun-spot behavior is entered, the output of the model matches historical temperature measures reasonably well. So what if they are leaving gigantic natural temperature forcings out of their model? They have simply decided that they can do without this new-fangled information.

Earth to NASA. Fitting the temperature data isn't enough. You have to comprehend ALL the data: all the physical effects that science can discern. Any model can be tweaked to fit historical temperature data, but if it leaves out physical mechanisms that we know are at work, then it is WRONG. When the alarmists leave the warming effects of solar weather out of their models, the warming that ought to be attributed to sunspot activity ends up being wrongly attributed to other potential warming effects, primarily greenhouse gas warming.

Projecting these exaggerated warming effects forward, when we know they are exaggerated, is grotesquely irresponsible. Not only is it a gross violation of scientific integrity, it is a highly damaging violation, aiming to shut down economic activity on the basis of what is essentially a lie. The responsible and scientifically sound thing to do is to take our best estimate of the effects of sunspot activity on solar forcing and incorporate it into our computer models (the GCM's, or General Circulation Models).

This would be easy enough to do. Using satellites, we can directly measure the effect of sunspots on the average reflectivity of the Earth. We have an extensive historical record of sunspot activity, both visual (ever since Galilleo invented the telescope) and in the geologic record (from measuring the isotope residue of cosmic radiation). Accounting the implied variation in solar forcing would improve the calibration of the model when it is fit to historical data. No longer would the warming effects of higher solar forcing be wrongly attributed to greenhouse gas effects.

The problem is that the computer modelers don’t WANT to incorporate the new findings. They apparently like their models, and the known-to-be-untenable predictions that they yield, just the way they are. Listen to some more of Gavin Schmidt’s rationalizations:

“We have proxy measurements (sunspot counts, cosmogenic isotopes 14C and 10Be) that go back that far, but they can't be indepentedly [sic] calibrated to solar output. They are correlated to the irradiance over a sunspot cycle, but they are really magnetic-related phenomena, not irradiance-related. So, absent a good physical model for the sun that links these things, people make estimates based on their best guesses. Thus there is a huge variation in estimates of this long-term component.”

Schmidt is breathtakingly misleading here. First, he is pretending that the important thing about sunspots is the variation in solar output that goes with them. The cosmic radiation residue doesn’t measure changes in luminescence, only changes in how much cosmic radiation reaches Earth, so it supposedly is not the data we really need. But surely Schmidt knows that the important thing about sunspots under the new theory is not the slight increase in solar output but the change in the percentage of solar output that gets absorbed by the Earth when there are fewer clouds to block it. For this, the critical data is exactly what we have a geological record of: the effect of sunspots on cosmic radiation.

After minimizing “magnetic-related phenomenon” and pretending that it is luminescence that matters, notice what Schmidt does next. He goes on to suggest that, since estimates of the effects of sunspot activity are subject to widely differing estimates, it is best to leave them out altogether. Really? It isn’t better to go with an expected value, or a maximum likelihood estimate? The best way to deal with stochastic variables is to leave them out? This guy's whole job is to deal in widely varying estimates! Now he is going to pretend that such estimates should be eschewed?

We certainly do need to figure out how much credence to give to estimates based on immature understanding, which is the state of the entire climate science field. But the alarmists are not being cautious in this respect. They are predicting catastrophe and calling for drastic action. How about a little moral sanity? ALL best estimates need to be incorporated, and the result needs to be taken with the appropriate many grains of salt. Instead, the alarmists dismiss what militates against their alarmist predictions while paradoxically proclaiming that the cautious thing to do is embrace the most extreme predictions they can come up with, and engage in drastic action to avoid those predictions.

In short, the alarmists--the dominant force in climate science today--are not scientists. They are propagandists, doing what propagandists always do: picking and choosing what reason and evidence to account or dismiss in order to fashion the best case for their preferred conclusions. This can be done as easily with hard science as with any other sphere of reason and evidence. Of course it requires a willingness to embrace illogic. Schmidt’s rationalizations for dismissing contrary reason and evidence are, upon inspection, patently untenable. But he can still, in this mode, compile data sets and solve equations and build computer models. He can still be a "scientist," just an exceedingly bad and dangerous one.

There has been a recent spate of global warming alarmism, with two major alarmist studies hitting the newspapers in the last week. Both of these studies do exactly what Gavin Schmidt does. They set aside the new understanding of solar weather in order to maintain exaggerated claims about the warming effects of greenhouse gases.

Meeting the Climate Challenge, the report of the International Climate Change Taskforce, suggests that if carbon-dioxide reaches 400ppm, temperatures will rise to more than 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial temperatures (we are at 380ppm now). “Beyond the 2C level,” the report intones ominously, “the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly,” and “the risks of abrupt, accelerated or runaway climate change also increase.” With carbon-dioxide increasing at a rate of 2ppm/year, well, you get the picture! Within ten years, we may have already reached the tipping point of global climate catastrophe! STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS!!! IT IS A MATTER OF IMMEDIATE LIFE AND DEATH FOR THE PLANET!!!!!!

Bullshit. This is pure propaganda, derived by discounting the known warming effects of solar-magnetic flux, errantly attributing these warming effects to greenhouse gases, then projecting the misattributed warming effects forward, in combination with every other damaging assumption that can be mustered. True, the study has the sanction of the head of the IPCC, the U. N. umbrella organization for climate research. Unfortunately, that is not a recommendation. Thanks to the political success of the alarmists over the last fifteen years, they have managed to gain control of most of the hiring and the purse strings for almost the entire discipline. A climate scientist coming up today had better be a Gavin Schmidt, ready to dissemble for the cause.

The second alarmist study, reporting the results of climateprediction.net’s distributed processing project, does exactly the same thing. It uses the same GCM’s that the IPCC does, but uses the power of distributed processing to test more parameter variations. First the different specifications are calibrated using historical temperature data, then they are projected forward. With no solar-weather effects in the model, the warming effects of the last fifty years of severe solar weather get attributed to greenhouse gases. Not suprisingly, the most extreme of the resulting predictions are alarming.

The distributed processing approach could actually be very useful for integrating solar weather into the GCMs. Start with what seems to be the logical way to specify solar-weather effects, then toy around with the specification, looking for improvements in the fit to historical data. How can a group that is explicitly taking an “experimentalist” approach to identifying the best model justify leaving a major theoretical effect entirely out? Maybe Schmidt can pretend that effects we aren't quite sure how to specify are better left out, but experimentalists? Come on people. Start doing your jobs. Are you scientists, or are you propagandists? So far you are acting like propagandists.

It isn't just the strength of the sunspot theory that is determinative here. Careful scientists knew all along that greenhouse effects were being exaggerated. Also crucial is the infancy of climate science. We don't yet have the science to predict how warm a jacket of greenhouse gases we will want the Earth to be wearing fifty or a hundred or two hundred years from now. Alarmist prescriptions--that people should stop impacting the environment--are predicated on the assumption that human impacts on climate are large compared to natural impacts, implying that if we like our current temperature (we are adapted to it, and we know it is not unstable) then we should avoid human impacts.

Denial of natural temperature variation was a keystone of the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (2001), appearing as the notorious "hockey stick" diagram of figure 1. This picture of flat natural temperature, until human's entered the picture and caused temperature to turn sharply upward, now lies in shreds. It turned out to be a pure artifact of data handling errors. At the same time, the new sunspot theory adds a powerful natural driver of temperature change to the mix (to go along with volcanoes, orbital fluctuations, and who knows what we might yet discover).

As soon as the assumption of natural temperature stability is set aside, the prescription that human impacts should be avoided disappears with it. We cannot say whether a particular human impact is good or bad until we know whether it will offset or exacerbate natural temperature change. Research by William Ruddiman at the University of Virginia suggests that human activity may have already staved off the next ice age. Others, studying long term sunspot cycles, predict that solar activity is headed for a downswing, in which case we would want still more anthropogenic warming.

More generally, in the absence of any clear idea where natural temperature change is headed, it makes no sense to pay a high price in order to change the level of human impact one way or another. Would you pay a high price to gamble on how warmly you will want to be dressed next Thanksgiving? The fact is, we don't know how warm a jacket of greenhouse gases we will want the Earth to be wearing ten or twenty generations from now. The best thing mankind can do is advance scientifically, economically technologically as fast as possible in order best to be able to deal with whatever theats await.

Want more? See my chapter in World Ahead Publishing's recent book: Thank You President Bush. (I thank him for rejecting Kyoto. That man saved our future, when Gore, a truly radical global warming alarmist, would have chopped our legs off.)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Distributed searching for distributed vote fraud

Sound Politics posted the names of 26 people registered to vote at the same private mail box service that Sound Politics uses. I decided to pitch in with the effort to track down vote fraud by Googling and Yahooing these names to see what came up. Where I could find home addresses, I plugged them into the Sound Politics voter database to see if I could find any indication that any of these people had also voted at their residence address. One of the names, Scott B Nichols, turns out to match that of a voter who voted at a residence address. There may well be two Scott B’s, but its worth checking out. I went as far as I could with it (scroll down to number 19) and still can’t tell if these Scott B’s are different people or not. To resolve these cases, we need the birthdate information that Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics is trying to get Washington State to release.

A second case also merits a closer look (number 6). Unless there are two Tamsen Tremain Byfield’s, it looks an Aussie may have voted in Seattle. [UPDATE: An emailer writes that Tamsen is a U.S. citizen. See comments. Updated update: Her brother emails that she is a legit WA voter.]

For most of the names there is not enough information readily available to tell anything. My findings, with links, are posted below. There is no legal issue of privacy with the information posted here, since it is all publicly available, but what about the moral issue? In itself, registering to vote from a private mailbox address when one has a residence is suspicious and it may violate voter-registration regulations. At the same time, the possibility of voter fraud has to be investigated and there is no way to spare the innocent from scrutiny in such an endeavor. Since the immediately available information is often not sufficient to determine whether the people who show up in Google and Yahoo searches are the same people who are registered to vote at 4509 Interlake, the only way to investigate the possibility of vote fraud is to collate the available information and let other interested parties see if they can take it further.

Voters who registered at 4509 Interlake mailboxes:

1. Nurkala, Vance Karl: There is a Seattle area drummer by this name.


Yahoo people search gives his address as:

11719 36th Ave Ne
Seattle, WA

Plugging this address into the Sound Politics voter database, there is a Theresa Nurkala who voted from Vance’s address, but not Vance. You are cleared of double voting Vance. One down, twentyfive to go.

2. Akre, Eric J: There is a Seattle area drummer by this name.


(To find the reference, search the link for his name.)

Nothing on Yahoo. Intelius.com (referred by Yahoo) claims to have some info on Eric J. from 2001. It costs $8 to look at it, so I’ll pass, but Intelius does allow 24 hrs of unlimited searching for $20. If someone were going to spend a day investigating these private mailbox voters, it might be worth it, if the Intelius information amounts to anything.

3. Bean, April J: No Google results. Intelius verifies an April J.

4. Berg, B Richard: There is a Richard Berg from Redmond who I found commenting about audio equipment at:


What’s with music people and private mailboxes?

Yahoo has an address for a Richard Berg at:

1508 Ne Brockman Pl
Seattle, WA

When I look this up in the database of voters, no Berg voted in this block, so if it is the same Berg, he only voted at the Interlake address.

5. Berg, Jean S: Intelius claims a Jean S in WA. No hits for “Richard and Jean Berg” (or vice versa).

6. Byfield, Tamsen Tremain: CHECK THIS ONE OUT! [UPDATE: An emailer writes that Tamsen is a U.S. citizen. See comments.]

A zoologist by this name pops up with .au (Australian) and .za (?) email addresses. The latter is from a 2004 conference in South Africa. Did this Byfield do a turn at a Seattle area university and decide to make himself a permanent U.S. voter, or is this a different Tamsen Tremain Byfield?


On the other hand, Intelius claims to have some 2001, 2002 and 2003 info on a Tamsen Byfield from WA, so maybe there ARE two Tamsen Tremain Byfield’s. Why not? It’s a cool name. If I get a dog, I might name it Tamsen.

7. Davis, Daron George: No results.

8. Pat Day: Intelius claims a couple of Pat Day’s.

9. Dugger, Benedict: There is a Seattle area Soccer coach by this name.



Yahoo has an address for this name at:

9014 Burke Ave N
Seattle, WA

The voter database finds no Duggers voting at this address. Cleared.

10. Hagar, Loren Frank: Runs a construction company that uses 4509 Interlake as its mailing address.


No other address available.

11. Hersrud, Adrianne Avis: A Java programmer from Seattle?


Also a moderately competitive high school girl’s cross country runner. Good going Adrianne.


No Yahoo address. Intelius claims some info.

12. Austin, Holiday: Intelius claims some info.

13. Kavanagh, Veronica Marie: A gal by this name was honored as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee in 2004, apparently from North Seattle Community College. Good going Veronica.


The link goes to NSCC, but no info on Veronica currently posted.

Intelius claims to have some info.

14. Krause, Timothy M: No Yahoo address. Intelius claims some info. A cached Google page has a Seattle address for a Timothy Krause.

3415 NE 70th STREET NO 6
SEATTLE WA 98115-5950

I can’t get any results for this block from the voter database. Maybe I am inputting the address wrong.

15. Latschaw, Robert: Intelius claims some info.

16. MacKenzie, John Roy: There is a real estate agent in Seattle named John MacKenzie.


His address is: 4452 California Ave, Seattle WA 98116.

I can’t get anything to come up on the database for this address either.

Yahoo has a John MacKenzie at: 5942 41st Ave Sw, Seattle WA. The voter database has no MacKenzie voting in that block.

17. Morrison, Robert M: On the surface this one looks interesting.

There is a Robert Morrison who is a politically active Seattle lawyer. In 2001 he made a modest contribution to the campaign of Edsonya Charles, who was named last year to a judgeship by Seattle Mayor Nickels.

He is also a member of a consumer advocacy network called the Washington Assistive Technology Alliance (WATA):
WATA gives the following info for their Robert Morrison:

Robert Morrison (greater Seattle and Western WA)
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3150
Seattle, Washington 98101
206-587-3737; 206-587-0277 FAX

Areas of expertise: Discrimination issues; trusts and estates; guardianships; general disability issues; probate and real estate.
Yes, I admit it. Activists in Democrat/left causes like Naderite “consumer advocacy” are just the kind of people I suspect of being prone to shenanigans like distributed vote fraud. Gee, why would anyone suspect Democrats? Just because prominent Democrats keep saying they want “every vote to count,” with no qualifier as to whether the votes are legitimate or not?

I have no grounds to suspect Morrison in particular except that he is registered to vote at a private mailbox, which in itself is suspicious. What specific evidence is available for Mr. Morrison is exculpatory. Yahoo people search has a Robert Morrison at:

11817 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA

No Morrison voted on that block, so if this is the same Robert Morrison who is registered at 4509 Interlake, he is not a cheater, at least under his own name (and one would think that if someone were to use a phony name, he would do it at the private mailbox rather than at home).

18. Nichols, Amy M: Intelius claims some info for Amy M.

19. Nichols, Scott B: Yahoo has a Scott Nichols at

1515 Madrona Dr
Seattle, WA

Uh Oh (maybe). The voter data base says that a Scott B Nichols in this block voted at the polls. Unless there are two Scott B Nicholses, it would seem that Mr. Nichols double voted (a felony). One way to investigate further is to spend the $8 at Intelius and see if Amy Nichols (the previous name on the list) also lives at 1515 Madrona Dr. If so, it would pretty much nail down that the two Scott B’s are the same person.

None of the Intelius addresses for Amy M. Nichols match Scott B’s address except for the 4509 Interlake one. Interestingly, however, Amy M has had a LOT of addresses. There are multiple Amy M’s, but on Iltelius the Interlake address comes with a birthdate. That same birthdate attaches to four other addresses in 2001-2. Maybe that explains why she got a mailbox.

None of Amy's other addresses show voting by Amy M. I am tempted to also buy the several addresses for Scott B to see if any of them match any of Amy M’s addresses, but since I already know that no Nicholses voted from any of those addresses, what is the point? One moral of the story here is, if you are going to start using Intelius, spend the $20 and get the 24 hrs unlimited.

There is also the possibility that the birthdate info available on Intelius would clear Scot B Nichols by showing that the Interlake Scott and the Madrone Scott are different people. I guess I have a responsibility to check that out, since I have raised the suspicions. Here goes.

Dang. Inconclusive. Intelius does not have the Interlake mailbox address for Scott B Nichols, so I can’t compare the age of that Scott B with the one at Madrone.

Still, the combination of the multiple addresses and the birthdate info indicates that Intelius can be a valuable resource, and might not be superfluous even if Stephan is able to get comprehensive birthdate info for free. It’s just not going to do the job in all cases (like the present one).

20. Repon, Susan K: No results.

21. Siebensohn, Alex: Intelius claims some info.

22. Smith, Corinne A: Intelius claims some info.

23. Waxberg, Steven Richard: Intelius claims some info.

24. White, Peter: Intelius claims some info.

Google finds a Peter White who is another Seattle musician.

Google also finds a Peter White who is a Seattle area sales manager. His address is 815 NE 45th. I can’t get any database results for this address. It may be another work address in a non-residential area.

25. Willen, Brent G: Intelius claims some info. Google finds a Brent Willen who is a member of a Seattle religious skeptics group.

Can’t find any address for Brent.

26. Williams, Jan: No results.

UPDATE: Stefan Sharkansky emailed with a couple of other resources people can use to help track down vote fraud in King County:

a property tax database (to look up by address),

and the Recorder's website (to look up by name).

If I can find the Rossi contact info for sending vote-fraud leads, I'll update with that too.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The realism of idealism

What a great and revolutionary inaugural speech. Never has liberty been so championed, not only as an ideal to be defended (we saw that in WWII), but as a sword for unstringing the evils that tyranny has unleashed. The left, of course, will be out to interpret this war plan as extraordinarily dangerous. To the left, any willingness to fight, instead of negotiate, is extraordinarily dangerous.

Even on the right, some are alarmed. Peggy Noonan's review at OpinionJournal.com sees the breadth and idealism of the president's ambitions as prompted by an unhinged religious desire to achieve perfection on Earth, unbound by the constraints of reality. She misses the entire point of the speech: that idealistic integrity--promoting liberty--is the realistic key to defeating the totalitarian ambitions of our enemies.

If President Bush was an unrealistic utopian, he would have championed, not liberty, but democracy. That is the careless standard: just assume that if people have a chance to vote, they will favor liberty. G.W. did mention democracy once three times, but he insisted on liberty fifteen times. This is the republican ideal, ensconced in our own Constitution. If majority rule overruns liberty, it is just another form of tyranny: tyranny of the majority.

To see the realism of this heightened idealism, consider the example of rights for women, which the president explicitly mentioned, putting the countries we liberate on notice that our cooperation is going to be contingent on women gaining basic civil and political rights. Without this demand, democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq could easily degenerate into popular Islamic totalitarianism, where the male vote, being the only vote, is bought off by the power over women that Islamic totalitarianism institutionalizes. Insisting on the higher principle of liberty forecloses that perversion of democracy.

At the same time as liberty is a higher standard, it also allows flexibility. Democracy does not have to be the first step. We can be “realistic” towards a country like China, appreciating its steps towards liberty, and trusting, as far as we can, that this liberty will one day lead to democracy. If there is a more realistic option, we would all like to hear it.

Noonan doesn’t see the realism of idealism. She only sees the idealism, denigrating it first with the studied worry of an Ellen Goodman (cringing at the religiosity of it and the lack of “nuance”), then with the gusto of a Molly Ivins (calling it “over the top” and “inebriated”). Peter Robinson at NRO piles on with the complaint that the address amounts to a "thoroughgoing exaltation of the state." "Tell me I'm wrong, please," he asks. Peter, you are wrong.

So what if "Bush has just announced that we must remake the entire third world in order to feel safe in our own homes." That's the fact. Transforming Syria, Iran and North Korea will fill our plate for the next four years but will not in itself be enough. Burgeoning communism in Latin America, making common cause with the Islamo-fascist enemy, is a monstrous threat. So is the return of Russia to dictatorship. Should we abandon now the carrots and sticks of liberalization that fifteen years ago helped free Russia from communist grasp?

The only thing that has changed from the cold war is that we have finally figured out the most effective way to fight a life and death ideological world war. The way to win is by doing right in the world. Following this course is not an expansion of foreign entanglements. It is a strategic advance, aimed at the only way to lessen foreign entanglements: by winning the war that we are in.

On domestic policy, Robinson bemoans the president's championship of Social Security, without noting the president's call to move toward individual ownership of retirement savings. If individual ownership of Social Security accounts does come about, people will next want complete control over their retirement accounts and government will be out. The socialization of retirement, the centerpiece of illiberal "liberalism," will finally be purged. President Bush is redirecting the river that will clean out the Augean Stable. This is not statism.

Both in domestic policy and foreign policy, G.W. is championing liberty over democracy. In what may be the ultimate small "r" republicanism speech, the president is misunderestimated again, by friend and foe alike. That's okay. G.W. likes it that way. His closing line perfectly captures the realism of idealism, and the irrelevance of the naysayers: "Renewed in our strength--tested, but not weary--we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." Our "nuanced" elites can cringe all they want. Oppressed people everywhere will hear the call, and think to dream big. From such dreams do the greatest achievements in the history of freedom spring.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Death penalty for leakers of classified intelligence and the reporters who publish it

Enemies of the Bush administration ensconced at CIA and State are again leaking their own biased classified intelligence reports to the press. From Knight Ridder:
A series of new U.S. intelligence assessments on Iraq paint a grim picture of the road ahead and conclude that there's little likelihood that President Bush's goals can be attained in the near future.

Instead of stabilizing the country, national elections Jan. 30 are likely to be followed by more violence and could provoke a civil war between majority Shiite Muslims and minority Sunni Muslims, the CIA and other intelligence agencies predict, according to senior officials who have seen the classified reports. ...

The officials who were more pessimistic spoke on condition of anonymity, because the latest intelligence assessments are classified and their views are at odds with public statements from the White House.
The reporters themselves show grotesque bias, asserting that:
The Bush administration claimed before invading Iraq that Saddam had strong ties to international terrorism, but most counterterrorism experts dispute that and no evidence has been found to support the claim.
Liars. There is a lot of evidence. It may not be conclusive. The 9/11 report declined to find a "cooperative" relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda, despite much evidence of cooperation, but evidence and conclusions are two different things.

The officials quoted in the Knight-Ridder story are also grotesquely biased, asserting that:
"The sad thing is we have created what the administration claimed we were intervening to prevent: an Iraq/Al-Qaida linkage," one of the senior intelligence officials said.
As if Iraq would have been LESS useful to the terrorists if we had left it as a safe-haven for terrorists.

Bias and stupidity are bad enough, but the serious problem is the criminal behavior that this bias and stupidity has motivated. Leaking classified intelligence reports in time of war is TREASON. Publishing this intelligence is TREASON, properly punished with DEATH. Neither is there any mitigating public service served here.

Everybody knows that we are trying to negotiate a difficult transition to democracy in Iraq and that the Baathist-Islamofascist alliance is trying to derail this transition. We are committed to trying to succeed--there is no alternative--and in this effort, the expectations of the Sunni minority about who will win is a crucial factor. The majority of Sunni's want democracy, but an important minority of that minority might side with the totalitarians if they think totalitarianism will win.

The only thing that is affected by pessimistic or optimistic intelligence assessments about how many Sunnis will join the terrorists is how many Sunnis will join the terrorists. Whether or not there really is a serious vulnerability here, it is no more appropriate to make pessimistic intelligence claims of vulnerability public than it would have been to make public the weakness in our battle lines that the Germans exploited in the Battle of the Bulge. Pointing to weakness encourages the enemy to attack the weakness and it encourages undecideds to join the enemy, both of which we definitely do not want.

Classified intelligence is classified for a reason. The fact that loyal members of the public might like to be privy to classified intelligence does not automatically create a public interest in its release. The impact of the information on the battlefield also needs to be considered. Leaks of pessimistic classified intelligence by Democrat partisans at CIA and State is a recurring problem. It also happened in September. This has to stop. Let's see some prosecutions, NOW.

UPDATE: A related story is the publication by Seymour Hersh of claims that the U.S. military is conducting "black reconnaissance" in Iran in preparation for possible military action against the Irani nuclear threat. Tony Blankley thinks these revelations (the white House is not denying them) is probably punishable under the Espionage Act. (Hat-tip Charles at LGF, who earlier leveled his own charge of disloyalty at Hersh.)

The mainstream media's exclusive focus on negative news in Iraq is a separate but related issue. Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan describes in a recent post how this behavior aids and abets the enemy. The hostility of the press is nothing new of course. Anti-Americanism has been the standard for our mainstream media ever since the Vietnam war, especially when Republican's are in office. The question isn't, as Blankley puts it, whether "we are sleepwalking towards the abyss." The question is what it will take for us to wake up and STOP sleepwalking towards the abyss.

UPDATE II: My post leaves open the possibility that the leaking of classified information could sometimes be warranted by the public's need to know, so long as harmful battlefield consequences do not outweigh. To compensate for the illegality of such a leak, the net benefit to the public interest would have to be large, but it could be justified under the legal and moral doctrine of competing harms, where one is justified in breaking a law (stealing a rope say) in order to prevent a greater harm (by throwing the rope to a drowning person).

An example of what seems to be justifiable leaking is the classified information leaked to Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard in the fall of 2003, detailing numerous examples of Saddam's ties to terrorism. (Hat tip USA Granny, who cites other Saddam-terrorism authorities as well.)

Outing information of Saddam's ties to terrorism is a battlefield plus. It answers those propagandists who claim that we are not fighting terrorism in Iraq, only resisters of occupation, would-be liberators, akin to the Minutemen. The positive value of the Hayes leak was affirmed by Vice President Dick Cheney himself, who urged people to read the Weekly Standard piece (at top of Standard article). What the leak seems to violate is the necessity principle. Why didn't the administration just take the information it wanted to make public into and put it in an unclassified report? Sanctioned leaking only makes it that much harder to control unsanctioned leaking.

Still, there is every difference between leaking classified information that damages our war effort and leaking classified information that strengthens it. Sanctioned leaks express the administration's judgment that making the information public is beneficial. Unsanctioned leaks had better serve a national interest far in excess of any battlefield harm, or the harshest punishments are warranted.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Distinguishing honest error from sin

How civil should a person be, in responding to views that one sees as errant? It depends on the nature of the error.

Intellectually honest interlocutors can always be engaged civilly, and usually fruitfully. People who share the goal of making progress in the discovery of truth and sense can generally help each other by helping to complete and correct each other’s partial understandings. The problem comes when an interlocutor is not intellectually honest. Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence.

The great divide in the human race is not between male and female, Christian and Muslim, or left and right. It is between people who think frontwards, following reason and evidence, and people who think backwards, starting with preferred conclusions and looking for excuses to discount contrary reason and evidence.

Superficially, these are not so easy to distinguish. Recall the riddle about the traveler who comes to a fork in the road where he knows he will find a truth teller and a liar. If he asks them which one is the liar, both will point to the other. The dishonest backwards-thinker is always accusing the honest frontward-thinker of being dishonest.

Thomas Sowell is surely correct when he complains that:
Too many people today act as if no one can honestly disagree with them. If you have a difference of opinion with them, you are considered to be not merely in error but in sin. You are a racist, a homophobe or whatever the villain of the day happens to be. ("I beg to disagree," 1/13/05.)

Sowell elaborates that what he is against is accusations of dishonesty and ill will that fail to engage the reasoning of the person who is accused. That is, he is against accusations that do not proceed from frontwards thinking, but he does not distinguish this clearly enough. The idea that there is something wrong with considering others be "not merely in error but in sin," needs to expressly qualified. Simply refraining from calling people dishonest is no solution because many people genuinely ARE dishonest. Michael Moore is constantly peddling the most malicious disinformation he can concoct, not just about his own country’s war efforts, but about every subject he touches. He is a pure backwards thinker, picking and choosing and twisting whatever can be used to support his agenda. Half the world engages the same cognitive style.

The two great cultures of lies in the world today are the socialist-green-Democrat-European-secular (anti-Christian) left and the Islamo-fascists. The left is fully half of the West, while the Islamo-fascists are the dominant voice (the only voice) in the Muslim world. Of course Doctor Sowell is frustrated that it is not possible to have a real conversation with these people, that they answer honest reason with charges of dishonesty and will never be honest themselves, but that is the reality that must be dealt with. They need to be called on the carpet for their dishonesty, and their sin.

If the honest people call the dishonest people dishonest, while the dishonest people call the honest people dishonest, does it just degenerate into a mud-fight, with both sides covered in the same slime and no way to tell one from the other? No, because honesty and dishonesty not hard for the HONEST person to distinguish. There is such a thing as reality, much as Dan Rather and Mary Mapes and Josh Marshall and Juan Cole and Atrios and Kos like to pretend that reality is whatever they say it is.

If one never steps outside of the echo chambers that the leftists and the Islamofascists create, those echo-chambers can look like reality, but in fact, these false depictions of reality are doomed. They fly in the face of the ever growing decentralized organization of information on the internet. Every year it gets easier to document the truth, and harder to pass off lies, when there is a whole blogosphere and internet of individuals and groups documenting truth. The backwards thinkers are steaming into their Coral Sea, where one after another they will be turned broadside and sunk. (See Hugh Hewitt’s book Blog for a picture of where we are headed.)

The Democrats, with their ownership of academia and the print and television media, had their day, when their echo-chamber could create a false picture of reality that few could get outside of. Many are still under the spell of these power centers, but more and more are breaking free and coming under the influence of frontwards thinkers. As Howard Fineman puts it "a political party [the mainstream media] is dying before our eyes."

During such a transformation, it can be healthy, now and again, to be VERY uncivil towards the backwards thinkers, explaining to them that the facts that they are studiously avoiding are fully available for anyone to see, and that their expressions of intellectual dishonesty, whenever they appear on-line, or in any public media, will brand them for ALL TIME as moral trash. Their world is imploding, and the point of being uncivil is to apprise them of exactly what judgment the new honest posterity will render. If they are alert to the needs of self-preservation, such a warning may chasten them, and speed the remission of backwards thinking.

Honest judgment is harsh indeed. Malicious disinformation about the nation’s war effort is TRAITOROUS! Lying about lying, as the New York Times did for a year after Joe Wilson was exposed to have been lying when he accused the president of lying about Iraq’s attempts to buy uranium from Niger, is BEARING FALSE WITNESS! It is a MORTAL sin. These people are on a par with child molesters and murderers. They are EVIL, and honest people should shout it from the rooftops.

When law professor Eric Muller continued to come up with absurd nits to pick with Michelle Malkin’s book on internment, using them as excuses to dismiss her patently correct conclusions, I wrote him a florid letter telling him how he was exposing himself for all-time as a world-class asshole. Malkin's book exposes the politically incorrect truth that many Japanese WERE disloyal, and she used declassified MAGIC intelligence to conclude that internment was a response to that threat, not a sop to West Coast racism. The disloyalty of many Japanese is a well known fact. Tule Lake internment camp housed 14,000 “no-no boys” who refused to sign a loyalty oath to the United States similar to the oath that every naturalized citizen must sign. 5,620 formally renounced their U.S. citizenship and asked to be repatriated to Japan. No amount of cavils can overturn the fact that there were real security concerns behind internment, and Malkin had been shooting down Muller’s cavils for weeks.

Being far more honest than Marshall, Moore, Cole et. al., Muller was amused at the idea that he should be condemned for what I characterized as his grasping attempts to dismiss Malkin’s work. He posted my email on his site, which was perfect, since a lot of his readers ("moderate" backwards thinkers?) are obviously of the same ilk and need to hear the same warning. Muller posted links to a couple of my articles and the thread that appeared on his site contained some textbook examples of backward thinking, most notably from Reason Magazine columnist Cathy Young.

Cathy is not a pure backwards thinker. She has analyzed many issues capably over the years, but she slips easily from frontwards thinking into unmitigated backwards thinking. See, for example, her grotesque critique of Ann Coulter’s book Treason. The first theme of Coulter’s book is to trace the evolution of the Democrat party from a party divided between communist sympathizers and anti-Communists into a party dominated by anti-anti-Communists. Cathy Young’s review claims that Coulter lumps all Democrats into the treason camp, supporting this claim with a few quotes where Ann Coulter is describing the party as purged of its anti-Communist elements. How dishonest can you get? Young denies that Coulter makes the distinctions that her book is built around!

Coulter’s second theme is how the accuracy and moderation of Joseph McCarthy’s efforts to expose Communist traitors within the United States government was successfully hidden from the American people at the time and ever since by a broad-based slander campaign depicting McCarthy as an unhinged hater who made false accusations that NO ONE SHOULD LISTEN TO. Cathy Young’s answer to Ann’s extraordinarily competent research is to dismiss her as an unhinged hater who makes false accusations that NO ONE SHOULD LISTEN TO. Like Muller, Young wants a very important compilation of previously unknown and underreported evidence to remain unseen. To anyone who read Coulter’s book, Young’s critique is astounding hubris, repeating exactly the strategy of slander that Coulter exposed.

To top it off, Young cites George Orwell’s comment that Communists and religious fanatics “are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.” Orwell was here making the Thomas Sowell mistake. He failed to expressly qualify his objection to the characterization of opponents as dishonest. If we condemn ALL charges of dishonesty then real dishonesty can never be exposed. It is necessary to distinguish between the supported charges of dishonesty that honest people make and the dishonestly supported charges of dishonesty that dishonest people make. Ann Coulter exposed real dishonesty, and Cathy Young dishonestly attacked her for it, citing Orwell as authority for the position that it is wrong to expose dishonesty. We all need to learn from this not to strike a utopian note when expressing our wish for a more civil public discussion. It is crucial, when rejecting dishonest charges of dishonesty, not to also condemn honest charges of dishonesty, or we leave our words open to being used as cover by backwards thinkers like Cathy Young. The real incivility is dishonesty, and using appeals to civility as a cover for dishonesty is a kind of incivility squared.

Young reprised her backwards thinking mode in her comments on Muller’s site. Muller had linked to my Stanford Review article on how evolutionary psychology predicts a greater female instinct to appease an aggressor. We can presume that throughout human evolution, conquered females will generally have had their reproductive potential exploited, while conquered males will generally have either been killed or been reduced to non-reproductive status. According to the precepts of evolutionary psychology, the reproductive cost of being conquered should be lowest, and hence the greatest instinct to surrender greatest, for young women who have yet to bear children. We should expect the party of appeasement to be the party of single women, and this is certainly what we see in the world today.

But instinct is only half the equation. All human instincts must contend with human rationality and moral sentience. Since appeasement is generally irrational for a nation-state, especially a powerful one, steps should be taken to prepare the rational faculties to fight, which can be largely accomplished by protecting gun rights. Possessing arms tilts the rational calculation in favor of self-defense rather than submission and people who grow up in an armed society become familiar with this calculation.

Cathy Young’s response? Eric Muller’s comment section seems to have gotten wiped out, so I cannot link directly, but she called me a hateful sexist and said how much it scared her that there the Stanford Review would print such a misogynist screed. My reasoning was important and impeccable, but Cathy did not like where it went, so she slandered it and urged that NO ONE SHOULD LISTEN TO ME, just as she did to Ann Coulter and just as Eric Muller did to Michelle Malkin. See the pattern? Trying to get people to dismiss contrary reason and evidence? I urged readers of the site to weigh in with whether they thought my reasoning was biased in any way, but no one did, which I take to mean that they did not want to contradict their compatriots Eric and Cathy.

Cathy Young’s counter-example was that women impregnated by conquerors have been known to kill their babies. This was supposed to prove that women don’t have an instinct to survive and propagate by surrendering to aggressors. Nonsense. To the extent that conquered women DO kill their babies, their behavior is obviously CONTRARY to instinct, not driven by instinct. There is no way that an instinct to kill one’s children could ever evolve. This behavior can only be driven by a woman’s rational and moral consciousness. To claim that this example contradicts my argument about the expected differences in male and female INSTINCTS is absurd. But this is what backwards thinking does. It grasps at any excuse for discounting reason and evidence that leads where the backwards thinker does not want to go. Don’t go there! Don’t look! Don’t understand! Be appalled that such views can even be made public!

Half the culture proceeds consistently in this mode. Political correctness is all about “not going there,” when reason and evidence leads towards possibly uncomfortable truths. In his book The Blank Slate Stephen Pinker documents how research into the genetic bases of behavior was taboo for forty years thanks to academia’s powerful aversion to intellectual honesty. The actual reason that racism is wrong is that people should be treated according to their individual merits, but the P.C. thinkers latched onto a different theory: that if everyone would only assume that genes do not affect the human being that they construct, then there would be no grounds for treating people from different genetic backgrounds differently, ergo anyone who examines differences is enabling bias. For FORTY YEARS this astounding piece of stupidity cowed whole academic disciplines!

Some views are properly condemned: namely, those that are condemned by HONEST reason. But far from wanting such views to be hidden from view, the proper goal is to see them exposed, documented, and attached to their authors’ names forever. Analysis and documentation easily separates frontwards thinking from backwards thinking. The great task is to systematically identify and separate these two fundamentally different kinds of thinking. This is what the new media is going to enable.

The battle won’t always be civil, and it shouldn’t be. The only thing that should be credited as honest disagreement is honest disagreement. Dishonest disagreement needs to be exposed as such, always and everywhere, until intellectual dishonesty is just not worth it anymore. Nobody’s buying, and if you think backwards, all you do is expose your worthlessness. The Dan Rathers and the Michael Moores will be out of the information business, and the Cathy Youngs and the Eric Mullers, those who have it in them to think either frontwards and backwards, will be pushed in the moral direction.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Homosexuals shouldn't sign contracts they cannot honor

Deroy Murdoch takes the Pentagon to task for firing homosexual servicemen who violate "don't ask, don't tell," even after they have recieved valuable training in Arabic and Farsi. Others have seconded his condemnation.

"I just don't care where they put their wing-wangs. I wish the Army didn't, either," says Glenn Reynolds.

Balloon Juice calls it bigotry.

Whether homosexuals should be in the military is by no means obvious and it has nothing to do with bigotry. By placing young men in an all-male environment, the military is forced to deal with a sexually unnatural situation. It is perfectly plausible that allowing homosexuals, or out-homosexuals, would be ruinous for morale. Anyone who thinks of this as catering to the bigotry of heterosexual enlisted men is being a bigot themselves. Being denied the normal expression of one's heterosexuality is bad enough without being surrounded by abnormal sexuality. Only a bigot is unwilling to account the real costs to heterosexuals of such a situation.

On the other side of the equation is the loss of homosexual talent. Which side of the equation is weightier is for the military to decide. There is no issue of rights here. Homosexuals don't have a right to be in the military any more than women or flatfoots. Anyone can be properly discriminated against for cause. That is why racial discrimination is properly barred. It is not a meaningful difference. Anyone who thinks it is can be seen to be morally irrational, refusing to value in members of one race what they value in another. But homosexuality is a meaningful difference. The costs that homosexuals impose do not spring from moral irrationality. The Clinton administration decided to split hairs and say that homosexual behavior matters while homosexuality itself does not, which is fine, though the broader discrimination is also perfectly tenable, as is discrimination against women in the military, if the military judges it to be important.

The loss of the translators is a significant concern, but the blame should not be placed all on the military's restrictions on homosexuals. If the homosexuals involved had honored their contracts, their training would not have been wasted. They should either have honored "don't ask, don't tell," or they should never have joined the military in the first place. The loss of talent is an unavoidable cost of restricting homosexuals in the military, but the loss of training is purely due to the failure of the homosexuals involved to live up to their contractual obligations.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Amnesty is not the problem

If we would seal our borders, to the point where significant illegal immigration could no longer occur, a fairly broad amnesty would be workable, and would probably be the correct course. What is untenable is to advocate amnesty and at the same time resist border control, as President Bush is doing. The border must be secured FIRST. Only then can amnesty even be considered, or it will only lure an even larger flood of illegals.

"Would it not be more sensible and much safer for the country to first make our borders secure and then experiment with new guest worker programs," asks Representative Tancredo (R-Colorado). It sure would.

If G.W. really wants amnesty for illegals he should make it tenable by standing shoulder to shoulder with border security advocates like Representatives Tancredo and Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin). The President's present opposition to border security, and the lax attitude of top officials like Alberto Gonzales, threaten, as David Frum puts it, to "shatter the GOP." For what? For Mexifornia? Amnesty without border security is the agenda of racist Hispanic interest groups like MEChA that reject U.S. sovereignty over the southwestern United States. What kind of constituency is that?

Secure the borders Mr. Bush. Then we can start talking about amnesty.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Lobbying by government is un-republican

Lots of criticism of Armstrong Williams for taking government money to promote No Child Left Behind without telling his audiences that he was being paid to take this position (however much he personally supports it). More serious than William's transgression, however, is the fact that lobbying by government--using the people's tax dollars to tell them what they should vote for--violates the fundamental principle of republican government: that it is the people who are master and government who is the slave. It is the people who tell the government, through their selection of representatives, what understanding of right and wrong is to be expressed in the laws. Government is not to tell the people what understanding of right they should vote for. (Good commentary on the dangers of government lobbying by James Joyner at Outside the Beltway.)

This issue came up during the Clinton administration when it was discovered that Carol Browner's EPA was providing funding and assistance to the Sierra Club and other environmental groups to lobby for environmentalist legislation. The EPA was also funding advocacy groups to sue the EPA. (See Landmark's investigation, and Fumento's Sidebar Three. These activities that continue to this day).

There is a federal ban on lobbying by government, but the law is rarely enforced. (The main federal law that bans lobbying activities by government employees is Title 18 from the U. S. Code collection, part I, chapter 93, section 1913.) During the Browner scandal, this lack of enforcement prompted Representative William Clinger (R-PA) and others tried to press for a more stringent "Federal Anti-lobbying Act," but Big Green [and other lobbying interests] managed to deflect this effort into the "Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995," which only regulated ex-government employees, not current government employees. (Clinger's efforts can be traced by searching this page for the word "lobbying".)

Ideally, the Constitution's Article IV, section 4 guarantee to the states that they shall have a republican govern should be interpreted to (amongst other things) bar lobbying by government at the constitutional level. The states are under the federal government, so if the federal government is un-republican, that violates the guarantee that the states will have republican government. Constitutional protection for republicanism would greatly enhance the prohibition on lobbying by government. Congress cannot be counted on to restrain itself from trying to assert mastery over the electorate. It must be restrained by the Constitution.

The republican guarantee has so far been ruled non-justiciable by the Supreme Court, but not in principle. It is just that the cases the Court has so far considered have involved conflicts between the judicial and other powers that have rendered the guarantee non-justiciable in those cases. The Court's grounds for finding non-justiciability do, however, leave the door open for the republican guarantee to be adjudicated in the right case. For an example of such a case, and how it is justiciable according to Supreme Court precedent, see my suit against the State of California for requiring that candidates for sheriff be members of the law enforcement establishment. More specifically, since local residency is also required, candidates must be subordinates of the incumbent sheriff. This is like requiring that candidates for District Attorney be members of the prosecutor's office. It violates what Alexander Hamilton called “the true principle of republicanism”: “that the people should choose whom they please to govern them.” (2 Debates on the Federal Constitution, p.257, J. Elliot ed. 1876.)

I couldn't get my case taken seriously, but I worked out all the important points of the law, for anyone who is interested. Other ramifications also follow. For instance, the public monopoly on education is also un-republican, with government confiscating everyone's children and telling them what is right. It is a massive government funded lobbying effort, clearly unconstitutional if the republican guarantee is enforced. Williams' transgression is small potatoes compared to the violation committed by his government enablers, who themselves are the tiniest tip of a gigantic iceberg of republican violation.

UPDATE: Looking again at the 1913 law, I see that it doesn't apply in the Williams case. It only applies to the use of government money to lobby Congress itself (as occured in the Browner/EPA scandal). Government lobbying of the general public on its policy preferences is still a violation of the fundamental principle of republicanism, however, and should be barred under the guarantee clause. The difficulty is how to draw the line between legitimate efforts by the people's representatives to lead the nation and attempts to overturn the master slave relationship between the people and the government. The anti-payola law invokes one obvious criterion: government funded lobbying of the people cannot be hidden. The public monopoly on education is another obvious violation, since it goes beyond the leading of parental judgment to the usurping of parental judgment.

Even if no further discrimination were possible, it would not make this post a "never mind." Recognizing the payola restriction under the guarantee clause would change it from a statutory restriction, subject to Congressional discretion, to a constitutional restriction that Congress could not relax. Beyond this, further discrimination may well be possible. A plausible free-speech ideal would be for the different competing parties and views all to have their own media friends, willing to put their message before the electorate. Even if the existing media is hostile, a party can build its own media. There is no excuse for an incumbent regime to need to use large amounts of public money to get its message out. It only needs enough public money to be able to set its message clearly before the private media, where friends and enemies can treat it as they will.

This minimalist ideal cannot be found in the guarantee clause, but the plausibility of it might enable some limits to be placed on government lobbying. If the minimal-money ideal can be seen to work, that makes it hard to argue that big spending on government lobbying (spending that is large compared to private speech resources) is an important state interest, and if it is not an important state interest, then the damage that it does to the proper master slave relationship between the people and their representatives cannot be justified. (Another question is under what limited enumerated federal government power lobbying by the feds is authorized.) If the guarantee clause were to be adjudicated, the court would have to start exploring what restrictions on government lobbying it might imply, and they might well find some.

In addition to limiting government lobbying of the people, enforcement of the republican guarantee would also also invalidate most of our civil service laws. In a democracy (one of the requirements of a republic), the people are supposed to be able to choose who shall govern them. If they don't like their governors, they are supposed to be able to "throw the bums out." Our civil service laws, which keep the president from cleaning house, contravenes this fundamental principle. The people can only evict, through their choice of president, a tiny fraction of their governors. An earlier post of mind on this subject here.

UPDATE II: Tae Diggs at "La Shawn Barber, Exposed," thinks I was right the first time about the 1913 law (18USC1913), and this is certainly possible. While the object of prohibition is the spending money to influence the votes of Congressmen, not voters, the law is written very broadly. It reads in full (why can't they write laws this succintly anymore?):
No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, to favor or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation or appropriation by Congress, whether before or after the introduction of any bill or resolution proposing such legislation or appropriation; but this shall not prevent officers or employees of the United States or of its departments or agencies from communicating to Members of Congress on the request of any Member or to Congress, through the proper official channels, requests for legislation or appropriations which they deem necessary for the efficient conduct of the public business.

Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, violates or attempts to violate this section, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and after notice and hearing by the superior officer vested with the power of removing him, shall be removed from office or employment.

A government funded lobbying campaign that influences Congress by influencing voters would seem to fit under the heading of government funded activities "intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress." Maybe I WAS right the first time. Thanks Diggs.

If this is the correct interpretation then Congress has adopted by statute what I call above "the minimalist ideal" of government funded lobbying. I think that is the right standard. As for whether it should properly seen as constitutionally required under a finally adjudicated guarantee clause, probably not, as the earlier analysis suggests. The executive needs to be able to communicate with the voters as much as with Congress (it needs to be able to lead) and while USC1913 specifies that communication with Congress is to be at the request of Congressmen, it is not obvious that this same limitation can be imposed on communication with the electorate.

We do know that imposing this limitation would not be crippling. The private press operates through voluntary relations so giving the message to private parties and having them get the word out would constitute communication "at the request" of the public. This is pretty much the system we have always used. It works fine, and we shouldn't mess with it, but it is important not to read more into the Constitution than is necessarily implied. While the minimalist approach to government funded lobbying may be the republican ideal, it is not obviously a republican requirement. I'm still thinking about it, but clearly the best thing would be to spell out the ideal as a requirement in the Constitution. While there is room for debate about the right standard, lobbying by government is definitely an area where SOME strong minimum standards need to be secured in the Constitution, since it has to do with restraining government from escaping its proper role as servant and becoming master. If government is to restrain itself, the courts need to be placed squarely in a restraining role.

Notice also that USC1913 does not restrain Congress from lobbying the people at all. It only restrains the executive branch. Our only protection from Congress authorizing lobbying that turns government from servant to master is the guarantee clause, and the articulations of it that we might add by amendment. Glenn Reynolds has a Tech Central Station column up with some historical examples of large-scale government lobbying, particularly in support of the income tax. With the guarantee clause not being adjudicated, we really have no protection against this now.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Divorcing principle from necessity: the two minds of Keifer Sutherland

Charlie Rose did a fascinating interview with Keifer Sutherland tonite. Sutherland directs the terror-fighting drama 24 hrs, where he also plays the lead character, Jack Bauer. Sutherland is a good actor, and comes across as plenty smart, but there is a consistent inconsistency in his viewpoints. Rose shows a clip where Jack Bauer shoots a smug, uncooperative terrorist prisoner in the femur to extract information. He presses his pistol to the terrorist's other femur and the terrorist, no longer smug, gives up his target. “Do I agree with it? No,” says Sutherland, “but Jack Bauer uses his experience, his knowledge of the stakes and the time, his instinct about what will work, and this is what he does. Later, in a quiet time, he wonders if God will forgive him, and his answer to himself is ‘no’.” (I’m paraphrasing.)

Sutherland’s denial that he agrees with Bauer’s use of torture seems to be based on a philosophically confused distinction between principle and necessity (as if principles don’t comprehend necessity), and this confusion seems to exist both in Sutherland’s own mind and in the character that he and his writers are creating. This was an interesting juxtaposition for me, as I had just channel surfed over from the grotesque spectacle of Ted Kennedy grilling Alberto Gonzales about his role in the supposed perfidy of opining that the President has war powers that Congress cannot outlaw. “If Congress outlaws torture,” Kennedy pontificates, “then under no circumstances does the President have the legitimate authority to order torture.” (Paraphrasing again.) Gonzales stuck to his position that, as White House Counsel, his role was to solicit an opinion on this question from the Justice Department, not to try to decide it himself, but I kept wishing that instead of resisting Kennedy’s attempts to get at the substance of the question, Gonzales would turn around and open it up on Kennedy: “If we have a terrorist who knows where a nuke is planted in Washington D.C., do you seriously believe that Congress can usurp the President’s war-fighting powers and forbid him to torture that terrorist for the location of the nuke? Just what do you think it means, sir, for the President of the United States to have war-fighting powers? Is it not the responsibility of the Commander and in Chief to decide what is and is not a matter of military necessity, no matter what those who are not charged with his war-fighting powers and responsibilities may think?” Hey, if the Democrats want to stand up like spikes on railroad ties, pick up a sledge hammer and slam ‘em home!

Kennedy was acting the outraged idealist in somewhat the same morally confused fashion as Sutherland, presuming that ideals and principles are not responsive to necessity. The difference is that Sutherland DOES recognize necessity. He just thinks it is somehow separate from principle, while Kennedy refuses to recognize necessity at all, perhaps because recognizing military necessity, and the war-powers that spring from it, would empower a president who he considers to be his enemy (the country, the will of the people and the Constitution be damned). Whatever the explanation, where Sutherland is merely confused, Kennedy is clearly perverse.

As the Rose interview went on, Sutherland’s strange two-mindedness continued. Rose noted that Muslim activists have protested a promotional clip from the first episode of the new season because it has Muslim terrorists in it. "It is a fact of the world today that there are Muslim elements that want to commit mass murder in America," says Sutherland, "so that gets into the show." "Good," I’m thinking: "At least he is not so P.C. that he can’t acknowledge the obvious. Maybe when he is done with 24 hrs we can make him secretary of transportation.” But then Sutherland launches into a P.C. expression of concern for "the extreme discrimination suffered by Muslims in America." WHAT??? He pulled that straight out of his ass! Serious discrimination against Muslims is extremely RARE. This is a country where the most blatant terrorist sympathizers find no shortage of friends and champions. Airlines are sued BY THE GOVERNMENT if they disproportionately search Muslims. Of course Islamists have picked up the Democrat trick of claiming that their free speech rights are violated whenever they are criticized for voicing terrorist sympathies, but that is isn't real discrimination. Sutherland’s duality on P.C. is similar to his duality on torture. In “principle” Sutherland is P.C., but necessity, or reality, forces him to be a bit un-P.C.. There ARE Muslim terrorists, but he has to balance this out with phony P.C. presumptions of horrendous discrimination.

Rose next asks Sutherland about another film he is making (Queen something). Sutherland says it is about the Maori uprising in New Zealand in the 1860’s. He talks about how the war was remarkable in that both the English-Irish soldiers and the Maori soldiers often switched sides. “You know it is a really dumb war when people can’t figure out which side they are on,” says Sutherland, an interesting observation, but then he continues: “which makes this story especially appropriate for the times we are in today.” WHAT????? Who doesn’t know what side they are on today???? But then I think about it. Hollywood types. Sutherland is surrounded by people who are rooting for our terrorist enemy. They aren’t rooting for the terrorists to successfully set off nukes in American cities. They are just rooting for the Republican [led] effort in Iraq to fail, just as they will root for whatever Republicans may do in Iran and North Korea and Taiwan and America to fail.

Sutherland thinks principle and necessity are on opposite sides and he keeps going back and forth between them. The Maori war is the perfect metaphor for his decent but confused mind. I take him as another example of why most Hollywood types should stay out of politics. Acting is about feeling, not logic. But at least Sutherland is not perverse. In fact, in the persona of Jack Bauer, he is all about necessity. Maybe someday Sutherland will figure out that principle is all about necessity too, and he can stop wondering if he is on the right side. In the meantime, kick that terrorist ass Jack.

UPDATE: Hey, an Instalanche! Thanks for visiting. I have updated with a couple of your corrections. Decentralized editing, whew! Check out some of my other cool junk if you have a few minutes. Too bad no one ever read this one, for instance, and only a couple of hundred people so far have met my friends Solomon and Jeffer.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reporters FAVOR 'stingy' interpretation

John at Crossroads Arabia has a great post on the failure of American aid officials to adequately explain how initial aid allocations were simply an expression of immediately available funds, not an indication of what aid might be forthcoming. He lays out enough of the details of the funding process to show how process restrictions account for the initial $35 million commitment and the subsequent $350 million promise, while major funding still awaits Congressional approval.

Glad to have the clarification, but who didn't already understand this? One does not need to know the details of the funding processes to know that initial allocations of aid will be a function of immediately available funds and immediate spending opportunities. The mainstream media CHOSE from the outset to misrepresent the immediately available aid as an expression of American stinginess. Statements by the U.N.'s Jan Egeland calling "rich countries" "stingy" were touted and parroted by the New York Times ("Are We Stingy? Yes") and other media.

The clearest proof of bias comes in their interpretation of the inevitable increase in funding. The San Francisco Chronicle put its spin right in yesterday’s page one headline: “Stung by charges of being tightfisted and slow to respond, Bush makes tenfold increase in pledged amount.” Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? America doesn’t give aid because it is generous, but because it doesn’t want to be seen as stingy! When I read that headline, I smashed my fist down so hard on reporter Zachary Coile’s name that my kitchen table bounced off the floor. Its is bad enough that the European press is monopolized by America haters. Does our own press have to be monopolized by America haters too? (The real evil power in the Chronicle’s Washington bureau is Bureau Chief Marc Sandalow. Coile is his protege.)

Simply stated, the mainstream media are a bunch of sick, rotten, left-wing liars. It does not matter that their hatred of America is only instrumental--that their malicious lying is driven at bottom (or closer to bottom) by hatred of Bush and Christianity and conservatism. America is now led by the Republicans so to most effectively slander Bush, the moral-trash eagerly slander America. They view everything in terms of their hatred. The nation picked Bush so they hate the nation.

Honest disagreement is the stuff of a great republic. The constant malicious disinformation of the mainstream media is a rot and a poison. Because they think in terms of lies, nothing that they presume to be right ever IS right. They have absolutely nothing to contribute. They are a pure negative force, completely unrestrained by the requirements of honest reason. How can we purge this Augean stable and remove the moral-trash from their positions of power in American society? What river can we send through?

The river of liberty. When the inroads that have already been made into the left’s media monopoly finally bring down its walls, good information and bad information will compete directly. The bubble of daily spin that protects and reinforces the left’s culture of lies will pop. Truth will out and market prices will come to reflect truth value. The market value of liars will at that point equal the negative value that they produce and they will have to find employment elsewhere.

This is the only way, so bring out the siege engines. Smash their walls. Destroy their monopoly. Let the tsunami of compassion that aids those stricken by a tsunami of sea also be a tsunami of truth that routs liars into the sea. There is no excuse for peddling malicious disinformation. Michael Moore, Dan Rather, Joe Wilson, Paul Krugman, Zachary Coile, Marc Sandalow, they and a million others all need to be gone.

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