Monday, February 20, 2006


The Ranger is going to love this.

Look it up

This is interesting, but it kinda makes my head spin. Maybe it's all the italics - or the fact that I think "Blargon" is a stretch of a word.

(via: The Volokh Conspiracy)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Is Accuracy Still Important to the AP?

The Ranger has a hilariously titled post linking to this debunking of an AP article on the infamous non-story of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, a favorite around here.
Here's the AP sentence:
Wilson's revelations cast doubt on President Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration's key justifications for going to war in Iraq.

And Simberg's response:
We've been over this many times, but apparently, it's necessary to do so again. Here are the sixteen words:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
That's it. It doesn't say that uranium was sold to Iraq, it doesn't say Niger. It says that the British government has learned about attempts to purchase uranium from Africa. Africa is a big place. Nowhere in the speech does it claim that the attempts were successful, and nowhere in the speech is Niger mentioned. The sentence, as written in the AP story, is completely false, but many persist in believing it, because apparently it confirms their prejudices

Seriously though, this is a non-story, and it will become more and more irrelevant as news organizations continue to get the facts wrong. How can we be bothered to care about it if they don't even care enough to do a little fact checking?

NOTE: The AP has changed the story linked on Transterrestrial Musings to a different AP article. The article I've linked above is the one from which Simberg is quoting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

In Support of Offense Equality

Often times I read posts that tax my brain so much I have to read them slowly and more than once to fully understand the complex reasoning involved. This is fine if I have interest in the subject. If I don't, sorry, but I'm not into taxing my brain without good reason!

However, this Eugene Volokh post discussing the problems with both opposing Muslim offense over the Mohammed cartoons and supporting flag burning bans is quite interesting. I don't know if Volokh is completely right about this, since I don't know of anyone who burned down a building because someone else burned a flag(and I think that many of those currently rioting will always been looking for something over which to riot)- but the logical conclusions seem quite sound. Here is a sample section:
One risk, then, is that banning the desecration of one symbol will help lead to bans on desecration of the other -- allowing flagburning bans will change swing voters' views about freedom of offensive speech, or will trigger their concerns about equality, and will lead to bans on desecration of religious symbols.

Of course, it's quite possible that this slippage will be resisted -- that even if there's not much of a good logical distinction between flagburning bans and bans on insults to religious symbols and figures, American politics will lead to the adoption of the former but rejection of the latter. But that itself, I think, will be harmful: Right now, when American Muslims are deeply offended by pejorative depictions of Mohammed, we can tell them: "Yes, you must endure this speech that you find so offensive, but others must endure offensive speech, too. Many Americans are deeply offended flagburning, much as you are deeply offended by depictions of Mohammed, but the Constitution says we all have to live with being offended: We must fight the speech we hate through argument, not through suppression."

But really, I encourage you to tax your brain and read the whole thing.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Plame Story continues

Well, it's been a while since I saw anything of note in the ridiculous Plame leak investigation. But this Byron York article has some interesting points about what Libby may or may not have known, and more importantly, whether or not it mattered if he knew or said anything at all.

The NSA Hearings - at times both unbelievable and infuriating

First off, I find it incredible that Congress is holding NSA hearings and that we can all see them on CSPAN. I think they would be a lot better off letting people like Goss, Negroponte and Gonzales testify in a closed session...but then I guess the Democratic Senators wouldn't be able to put on a show by asking questions like "Can the President suspend Posse Comitatus?" What kind of question is that Senator Feinstein? Gonzales responded appropriately by saying that he was there to discuss the Terrorist Surveillance program and not some punch of hypothetical know, the President trying to creat propaganda by covertly trying to affect political processes, media or policy. Unbelievable.

As Senator Sessions said a few minutes later "The world is hearing this" and people should not be casually suggesting that the President and Attorney General are lying and conducting terrorist investigations in a free-wheeling, willy nilly matter. People who are fired up about this don't seem to understand that it is about terrorism. No one in the NSA cares if I talk to someone in Spain about how much it snowed in Ohio or how I'm not thrilled that the Steelers won the Superbowl. And really, I shouldn't care if they did care. Because what if my friend in Spain turned out to be a Terroist and I didn't know it. American foreign and domestic policies don't turn on individual conversations. No one care. What the NSA cares about is protecting us and not just being a super snoopy big brother.

UPDATE: I just saw that John Podhoretz had this to say about the hearings:
...including one about whether the president can, on his own initiative, engage in illegal propaganda activities inside the United States. She cites statute 502K-12 subsection ABCD (well, not actually, but that's what it sounded like). When Attorney General Gonzales, properly considering himself sandbagged by an issue involving a statute in the U.S. code having nothing whatsoever to do with the case at hand, protests that he does not want to give an uninformed answer to a complex question, Sen. Feinstein announces, "I don't want to argue with you," and then goes right on to insist that of course the president would be tempted to suspend many civil liberties. Bad form, Senator. Rude and unjust. God forbid you should actually listen when Gonzales attempts to offer a reasoned answer to your outrageous, DailyKos-level question.

As evidenced from my first paragraph above, I couldn't say it better myself :)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Clearly, statistics hide the truth

This is so funny because it's true, no one wants to believe that the economy is getting better:
It's too bad the economy is in such bad shape...
Just think how good the news would be if it were in good shape.
Payroll growth averaged 160,000 per month in 2005; it has averaged 229,000 in the past three months. The drop in the jobless rate in January to the lowest level since April 2001 was a surprise: Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected the unemployment rate to remain at 4.9%.
My wife was "discussing" the state of the economy with a liberal friend who was convinced that it was in seriously bad shape. In the end my wife said that it must be "only the numbers" that made it look so good. Her friend agreed.

This reminds me of when John Kerry's stump speeches made it sound like Ohio was on fire and everyone was fleeing or withering away in holes in the ground since they didn't have any jobs or anything to eat. After hearing him speak, I was always surprised to find my electricity still functioning and my cell phone operable.

Anyone who watches the news would have a problem thinking that the economy was in decent, if not good, shape. Of course, you wouldn't know it by the consumer confidence levels or the huge amount of traffic at the malls and shopping centers on a rainy Saturday afternoon in burning Ohio.