Wednesday, December 17, 2014

 

Imaginary Conversations

Here is what I imagine I would say if a vegetarian tried to proselytise me into giving up meat in my diet.


I say: Why should I give up meat when my ancestors took the evolutionary steps necessary to be able to digest meat? Why should I deny my very nature?


The vegetarian replies: Because it is not moral to kill animals for food.


I say: You're a bigot for one of the most basic distinctions about life, the kingdom categories of plant versus animal. Why is it moral to kill and eat plants but immoral to kill and eat animals? 


The vegetarian replies: When you kill an animal it suffers; vegetarianism reduces suffering in the world.


I say: How do you know the animal suffers? How do you know the plant does not suffer?


The vegetarian replies: Those are stupid questions.


I say: Only if you claim to know what you do not know. But let me say this. If you eat only fruits and vegetables, etc., then the land that is set aside to grow them is only used for growing the plants you eat and nothing else; no animals nor other non productive plants can live in that space. So you are killing more than what you eat by creation of the dead zone for anything else other than your food.


The vegetarian replies: You don't have to kill everything else but the plants we eat. In fact, we prefer it when the farmer does not use pesticides or herbicides but uses only organic products to help grow the plants we eat.


I say: And there are places where no plants we eat but only things such as grass, moss, lichen and willow can grow, like in tundra and deserts. These places can however support herds of animals. You think it moral not to utilize these regions? You think it moral to prevent the humans who live in these areas from being able to survive off the land they live on as they have for thousands and thousands of years?


The vegetarian replies: I'm not preventing anyone anywhere from living off the land, I'm just saying that it is moral not to kill animals for food. It is better to be a vegetarian.


I say: Better how?
The vegetarian replies: More moral.
I say: Are vegetarians more moral than meat eaters?
The vegetarian replies: Yes.
I say: Hitler was a vegetarian. Did that make him a better person, a moral person?


The vegetarian replies: Hitler?


I say: Do you think it is healthier for humans to eat no animals only plants?


The vegetarian replies: That's just a simple fact, the main benefit is living a more moral life and better health is just a bonus.


I say: Where do vegetarians do to get their B12 and zinc? What about the essential vitamins and minerals we can only get from animals?


The vegetarian replies: We get those at the vitamin store.
I say: And where does the vitamin store get them if not from animals?
The vegetarian replies: They get it from bacteria which are not animals.
I say: Bacteria is not plant life either, and it's a lot closer to animal than plant, but we're getting into the phylar weeds. So it comes down to your identification with animals, as you are one, that causes you not to want to kill and eat them. It's your animal chauvinism that allows you to pose as moral, more moral than the default position of us naturally omnivore humans. Since when has bias equaled moral standing?





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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

 

Giving But Not Getting

Since we signed on to the 1929 Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of prisoners of war in the 30s, along with many other nations, including Germany, Japan, China and France (which at that time ruled the colony it called Indochina, which included Viet Nam), our treatment of prisoners of war has been better than was required by the convention.

Keep in mind that the Muslim illegal combatants of the past two decades are not, when captured, prisoners of war. In fact, we can summarily execute them under the current Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and the rules of warfare.

So how have our guys fared, the ones captured on the battlefield, actual prisoners of war, in the past 80 years for treatment required under the '29 convention?

Not so good.

There were conflicts we were involved in during the 30s but only twice did we deploy actual soldiers and sailors (into China) and there were no reported prisoners.

In WWII, a conflict just under 4 years long which cost us more than 407,000 dead, in the European Theater approximately 94,000 of our guys were taken prisoner by the NAZIs and in some POW camps, generally the ones run by the Luftwaffe for captured airmen, the treatment was just at the minimum required by the '29 convention. For others, the captivity was harsher, but the Germans treated English speaking POWs generally better than non English speaking POWs. It was far worse in the Pacific Theater, where approximately 30,000 Americans were taken prisoner, many were Americans in the Philippines when it fell to Imperial Japan. They did not get the '29 minimum. What they got was torture, summary execution, poor food, disease, slave labor and unimaginable suffering. That was the last war we fought where we actually declared war on other countries.

In the Korean War, where we lost 54,246 dead (and another 8,000 MIA) in three years, there were approximately 7,100 Americans taken prisoners by North Korean or Chinese forces. They did not get the '29 minimum. Approximately 2,700 died in captivity, a staggering percentage. What the living got was torture, summary execution, starvation, disease, slave labor and unimaginable suffering.

In the Vietnam War, where we lost 59, 193 dead (and another 1600 are still MIA) in 8 years, there were only 766 official prisoners, mostly shot down airmen, of which 114 died in captivity. They did not get the '29 minimum. What they got was torture, summary execution, poor food, disease and unimaginable suffering.

In Gulf War I, which lasted days and cost us 378 dead, there were only 23 American POWs and their suffering was brief only because the war ended so quickly.

In Gulf War II, which lasted 10 years and cost us 4,404 dead, there were only 8 official American POWs and they did not get the minimum but their suffering lasted only about three weeks as we quickly captured all of Iraq. During the insurgency period, all the Americans taken prisoner by illegal combatants were murdered relatively quickly after they were captured, several were tortured as well.

In Afghanistan, our war against al Qaeda and the Taliban has lasted 13 years, with no end in sight, has cost us 1,098 dead, so far. American POWs are few, probably only 8 of which all were murdered but Sgt. Bergdahl and whether he was a POW or a deserter/collaborator is unclear.

In all the other places in which our servicemen and women served, there were no reported POWs.

So, in review, of all the thousands of American POWs taken since our signing the '29 Geneva Convention, only some of the guys taken by the NAZIs were treated at or near the minimum required by the convention. The NAZIs alone followed the convention. The rest of our POWs were placed by their captors in a simulacrum of hell.

But we're the bad guys.

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What a Nonsensical Phrase is 'Climate Denialism'

Global Warming is a phrase that has actual meaning. It means the average temperature in the majority of the Earth's regions is increasing over time to show a net temperature gain all over the world, on average.
Climate Denialism is meaningless in and of itself. Whatever any of us think about trends in the weather, there is a climate, always and undeniably so. Lukewarmers like me think that increasing CO2 has some warming effect and part of the increasing CO2 is man made. But it's little and very likely to be beneficial. The lack of actual global warming over the past two decades has caused those who see catastrophe and doom with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere partly through fossil fuel use, those who I call the Warmie true believers, to have had to abandon the untrue rallying cry about global warming and substitute for it something else. They still believe in global warming (despite the actual measurement of global temperatures for the past two decades) but they had to get a new name or be laughed at every time they said it.
Which brings me to the latest piece by Dana Millbank, who is kind of a dick and none too bright. 


Millbank has just been made aware, apparently, of a scientific fact most of us learned in grade school.


“CO2 is basically plant food, and the more CO2 in the environment the better plants do,” proclaimed Roger Bezdek, a consultant to energy companies, at an event hosted Monday by the United States Energy Association, an industry trade group.


OK, the fact was stated by a consultant to fossil fuel sellers, but is it true? I waited for the refutation for the rest of the article but it never came. Millbank kvetches a bit:



I’m neither a scientist nor an economist, but I’ve heard that correlation is not the same as causation. I pointed out to Bezdek that increasing energy use fueled the economic growth, and CO2 was just a byproduct. So wouldn’t it make more sense to use cleaner energy?
“Fossil fuels will continue to provide 75, 80, 85 percent of the world’s energy for at least the next four or five decades,” he asserted. And even if we could reduce CO2, we shouldn’t. “If these benefits are real — and there have been five decades and thousands of studies and major conferences that pretty much have proven they are — then maybe we shouldn’t be too eager to get rid of CO2 in the atmosphere.”


But then he acts as if he has refuted it.


This was some creative thinking, and it took a page from the gun lobby, which argues that the way to curb firearm violence is for more people to be armed.


This is a what's know among the lefty intelligentsia as a two fer: 'Creative thinking' is apparently code for 'more bullshit from the Climate Denialists' and he gets to compare apples to oranges to take a swipe at supporters of our Second Amendment rights while pretending that this is refutation. Yeah, but Dana, is it untrue that more CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial generally to the people on our fair planet? Alas, silence on that central question to the piece.


Another questioner at the event asked Bezdek if he had considered ocean acidification, the release of methane gases, pollution and other side effects of rising CO2.


The ocean is basic (above 7 on the ph scale) so that more carbolic acid in it (through CO2 absorption) actually buffers it and makes it less basic and more neutral but not acidic. If we tried, we couldn't make the ocean acidic. This is a recurrent example of Warmie anti-factual cant. Methane, measured in parts per Billion in the atmosphere (where it's 1800 ppbv), has not been and will never be a cause of atmospheric warming, as the frequencies of light where it does its greenhouse warming thing are already completely saturated by, that is, fully used by, water vapor in the air (measured in parts per Hundred and it's anywhere between 2 and 4 pphv). CO2 as a beneficial trace gas necessary to all life on Earth but the colonies of weird things around volcanic 'smokers' in the deep oceans. To call it pollution is to abandon the very meaning of pollution. I guess oxygen is pollution too as it causes fire and rust. Aren't those bad things? And, Dana, what are the side effects of rising CO2 other than the beneficial effects on plant life? Oh, that's right, the doubtful theory that the trace beneficial gas controls the 'thermostat' on the planet's weather, our old friend, global warming. Right. Back to Dana's lack of refutation.


The presentation began as a standard recitation of the climate-change denial position, that “there’s been no global warming for almost two decades” and that forecasts are “based on flawed science.”


Yes, those are standard facts we Deniers use. But are they wrong? It apparently is beneath Dana's dignity to address the truth or falsity of these difficult not to believe statements. Apparently the Warmies refute by ignoring.


Pretty pathetic, really.



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De Cruciatum

I'll get around to the CIA "torture" brouhaha in a second. I do think Dick Cheney was magnificent it defense of the program and against pointlessly airing complete rubbish "reports" that never interviewed a single person, but first some personal history.
I was walking across a long, wide bridge in Luxembourg in Winter 1976 and it had snowed a ton and there was maybe 18 inches of very wet show everywhere. And this bus was coming, pushing and throwing off onto the sidewalk a bow wave of slush and water about 4 and a half fee tall. I was pretty much in the middle of the bridge so outrunning it was out of the question. I kinda panicked for a few steps and then I grew calm and stood tall and waited for the bus to pass. The force of the slush/water nearly knocked off me off my feet. It hit my front and traveled up into my face, right up my nose and over the top of my head. I don't think a single square inch of any piece of clothing had on was dry. It was a long, cold walk back to Jack Black's apartment near the train station and a change of clothes.


I know that we did a safe water boarding to three Muslim terrorists about 12 years ago. I say safe because we made their head the lowest point where they were lying so no water would enter their lungs. The water on cloth over the face is sufficient to trigger an autonomic response, that is, the water covering the face makes the body believe it's drowning (even though it's not). You can't not feel the response; it's not a perception filtered through higher brain functions. There is no lasting damage, not even psychological from a one time thing like that. I watched the late Christopher Hitchens get water boarded for about 7 seconds before he wussied out. He declared it torture but it's not. And to call it torture is to cheapen and diminish the very idea of torture, not to mention minimizing the real anguish and degradation suffered by actual torture victims.


I was not a victim of torture when the European bus driver sent water into my face and up my nose. Chris Hitchens was not a victim of torture when he had a wet cloth on his face for a few seconds. And the guys who tell you water boarding, as we did it to Hitchens and the Muslim scum, is torture are just lying to you.


Of course, it all depends on context. Doing it one time as they did to Hitchens is not torture. Doing it again and again to the same guy, with barely a few seconds between for the guy to recover before the wet towel is coming again, well, that could be torture.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

 

Tales of Deep South Racist Police Officers

White Alabama policeman who could have busted a black mother for stealing a $1.50 carton of eggs, buys her the eggs instead and then later comes over to her house to give her two truckloads of food to feed her family.




F*** the Police, as the dumbass protestors recently say.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

 

Thought of the Day

During the 3-1/2 years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, “We the People of the U.S.A.” produced the following:


22 aircraft carriers,
[102 escort carriers,]
 8 battleships,
48 cruisers,
349 destroyers,
420 destroyer escorts,
203 submarines,
34 million tons of merchant ships,
100,000 fighter aircraft,
98,000 bombers,
24,000 transport aircraft,
58,000 training aircraft,
93,000 tanks,
257,000 artillery pieces,
105,000 mortars,
3,000,000 machine guns, and
2,500,000 military trucks.


We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb, and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.


It’s worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the Obama Administration couldn’t even build a web site that worked.


Cicero Skip

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

 

De Optimis Legibus

I love it when guys who get to publish their stuff in magazines and papers are just stone dead wrong about their subject. I don't get to call them out too often as my expertise is so limited, but the aftermath of no true bill from the Ferguson, MO Grand Jury is a target rich environment. First a little background.


There are two ways to bring criminal charges against a person of the United States. First, and this is the common way out West, is for the prosecutor to file an information with the court laying out the charges and some details of the crime alleged. Then, for many of the serious crimes charged this way, there is a preliminary hearing which in most states (not California) is seriously one sided for the prosecution. Hearsay is admissible (but can't be, in Colorado, 100% of the evidence) and all the judge has to find is that probable cause has been shown. Probable cause is sufficient evidence for a reasonable person to think that a crime might have been committed. That's a very low standard especially compared with the burden of proof at a criminal trial. The reason the prelim can be so one sided is that we rely on the ethical constraint on the prosecutor not to bring charges he or she cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt (95% sure). That ethical constraint works almost all the time.


The second way is by Grand Jury, and that's how most of the Eastern states do it. It's a little one sided in that there is no defense attorney, nor judge present and no cross examination by the other side of witnesses and the rules of evidence are relaxed. The Grand Jury is looking to see if probable cause for an indictment exists. But the jurors are supposed to look at the testimony and decide credibility. In the prelim, the judge doesn't often decide credibility, any evidence of the crime shown is usually good enough to send the case to trial even if there is counter evidence. That's a huge difference between prelims and grand juries.


Anyone who says there was no way Officer Wilson would have been convicted at trial but they should have had the trial anyone is ignorant of the aspect of criminal law explained above. We don't put on show trials. If the prosecutor doesn't think he or she can get a conviction the case cannot go forward. If the grand jurors have heard all the evidence and decided there is no way that the person against whom the indictment is sought will be convicted then the juror has a duty to return no true bill, the functional equivalent of acquittal before trial. Once more, on the other hand, in the normal prelim, even if there is a ton of evidence that makes a conviction tough to imagine, if there is any evidence that would convict the case is bound over for trial.


OK, that took longer than I had thought because the difference is real, even substantial, but subtle.


Most of the legal morons saying we should have had a show trial are confused, I believe, by the rules of the prelim versus the rules of the Grand Jury. If the prosecutor had decided he could get a conviction of Officer Wilson for voluntary manslaughter, for example, (and he didn't think he could) and he brought the charges and in the prelim, even one witness said Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown to death when Mr. Brown posed absolutely no danger to the officer (as in the false narrative Brown had his hands up and was surrendering) then the case (most places other than California) would have been bound over. The grand jurors, however, were free to decide what likely happened from evidence that was impossible to disbelieve (forensic and autopsy) and from overlapping, mutually supporting testimony. Based on this evidence the jurors were free (and indeed required) to ignore testimony that seemed false, or even implausible, in rendering a decision.


So in the real world, in a case not receiving the publicity this case received, given the evidence the prosecutor had to present, I know that there would have been no charges from his office in the first place. Given the political weight this case had from incredibly bad reporting of a false narrative from the beginning, I'm OK with the decision to put it to a Grand Jury. That way, he had their verdict and the record of the evidence (generally kept secret, but not here) to buttress his decision not to bring charges. But once he decides and the Grand Jury says no true bill, that's it. We don't charge people without probable cause merely because there are people who don't understand the difference between a prelim and a Grand Jury. QED.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

 

Looking Back

I'm thinking about the impressive political things I have lived to see live on TV during my lifetime.


I saw Pres. Kennedy tell us about nuclear weapons in Cuba.


I saw Kennedy's assassin shot by Jack Ruby on the Sunday after the Friday Kennedy killing (the weekend without cartoons).


I saw Gov. George Wallace (D-AL) stand in the door way to prevent black students from entering UA.


I saw Bill Buckley threaten to punch Gore Vidal in the face and I then saw cops hit hippies over the head, repeatedly, with nightsticks in Chicago in 1968.


I saw Nixon leave the White House in disgrace, the only President to resign a few steps ahead of the impeachment.


I saw Reagan talk about paying for a microphone.


I saw Michael Dukakis riding in a tank with a ridiculous helmet on his head.


I saw Democrat election judges looking hard at un-dimpled ballots in Florida.


I saw young George Bush talk about Justice through a loud speaker in downtown NYC not a full year into his presidency.


And I watched tonight a president, knowing for a fact that it was wrong, illegal, unconstitutional, and beyond his power, usurp illegal powers to thwart the People's will in an action that contain the seeds of political ruin for our great country.


So I've seen some important TV here and there.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

 

What Shellacking Part Two Has Done to the Lefty Columnists

As it stands now, the Republicans are plus 8 in the Senate and almost certainly to be plus 9 after Mary Landrieu goes down in December run off. Instead of taking back the House, as several Democrats were predicting just a few months ago, the Democrats lost a net 12 and there are 5 seats still in contention and Republicans lead (slightly) in three and the two in Louisiana will certainly suffer the Landrieu treatment in December. So perhaps the House will be plus 17. Most governors are Republicans and most state houses and senates are Republican. So the midterms were not a fatal blow to the Democrats but the results really hurt and the majorities in the House and in the states at least might last a decade or more. With Shellacking Part Two, the Democrats are striking out at the winners in an ever more perplexingly dishonest way. Here are but two examples: Brian Beutler at the New Republic and Jamelle Bouie at Slate.


Let's deal with Mr. Bouie first. He's the guy who saw rampant racism in a jury hung on one count in the loud music murder case in Florida. I wrote then that the state would retry the hung count and probably prevail and it did and the jury convicted and Mr. Bouie bravely said not a single thing about his pointless rant. Here he's lashing out at the evil and stupid Republicans for forcing President Obama to violate his oath of office and the constitutional mandates and limitations on his executive power (again). It's just too inane to talk about further.


Beutler's piece is just as inane but it contains a classic tantrum. For background, Beutler acknowledges that there are two distinct, bad groups of Jonathan Gruber videos--the ones where he repeatedly says the Democrats had to lie to get Obamacare (the ACA) passed because the American voters are stupid and the ones where he said the purpose of making subsidies only available to users of state exchanges was to put political pressure on the states to establish such insurance exchanges. Buetler sees the two sets of videos as conjoined in an evil (but perhaps not stupid this time) Republican plot to destroy the unpopular and horrible ACA in the Supreme Court. He writes:


But the controversies are actually conjoined, and the link between them explains why the right isn’t merely going to run Gruber’s name through the mud, but probably haul him in front of a congressional committee or two and recapitulate his sins every day until the Supreme Court determines the fate of the Affordable Care Act for a second time. The two Grubergates are being deployed together in service of a common goal.
That goal is for the Supreme Court’s five conservatives to hobble the law without fear that their decision will be interpretedcorrectlyas a spite-driven judicial logrolling of a statute conservatives hate. (Emphasis added).


Yeah, the right is going to run Jonathan "Hans" Gruber's name through the mud by showing old clips of him speaking. Those bastards! How dare they show people what Gruber actually said.


But the real drivel is the notion that the Supreme Court Justices will rule in the King v Burwell case because of spite and political partisanship.


No, boy wonder, the Justices will rule on the ACA and the IRS regulations based only on well established rules of statutory construction of which you seem abysmally ignorant. This is more projection from the left because their Justices sometimes actually do rule on cases based on spite and political partisanship.


Here, in passing, is another head scratcher:


To do the right's bidding, the justices will need confidence that the public and the media won’t perceive an adverse ruling in King v. Burwell as unwarranted or out of the ordinary. Never mind that the ACA debate was, in reality, the most transparent legislative processes in the recent history of big Congressional action. One of the people who helped make it possible says the opposite. And it’s easier for the Court to do damage to an illegitimate law, or one built on a foundation of lies, than one that has achieved consensus.


What universe was he inhabiting when the ACA was passed into law? There were no legislative committee hearings about any actual language of the Act, extremely limited floor debate, and no one who voted for it had ever read it before the vote. If these are earmarks of transparency, what would a secretive bill's passage look like? Oh, and for support of his absolutely mistaken statement of the ACA's "transparent legislative process" he links to himself in an article which contains not a single fact in support of his false statement here. It does contain statements about Gruber's videos which apparently no longer apply, but no statements about transparency of the ACA's passage because there was none, particularly about the language of the statute. None!


I really don't mind being lectured to by what passes as the left's intelligentsia, but at least they should stop lying about their side's lying. That destroys any molecule of persuasive power these pieces could theoretically contained.


But the real take away from this groundless ad hominem attack on the Supreme Court before it rules is a very clear sign that even the flavorade drinking Democrats know that they will very likely lose the Burwell case next June and are attempting now to prepare the faithful for a delusional belief that the results were fixed, merely political and not legitimate statute construction. Good luck with that.


I'm enjoying the Democrats delusional meltdown now that things are going Republicans' way as much as I've enjoyed the Midterm results and the kicked in the stomach look the lefty talking heads had during coverage of that massacre.

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