Posts Tagged: Being

Oct 10

Fear of Being Wrong on the Internet

Eugene Volokh, responding to emailed queries as to why he and his fellow Conspirators are not writing on a controversial subject recently in the news, explains:

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but here are three things I’m scared of:

  1. Looking like a fool when I opine on a topic about which I don’t know enough, and thus get the facts or the analysis wrong.
  2. Getting facts or analysis wrong, even if I don’t look like a fool.
  3. Falling yet further behind on my various other responsibilities, as a result of taking the time to learn enough about a complicated, controversial, fact-rich question so that I can opine on it without being wrong.

I think the world would be a better place if people were more scared of things 1 and 2.

But where would the blogosphere be with that attitude?

Outside the Beltway

Oct 10

Being More Liberal Wouldn’t Have Saved The Democrats

Nyhan rips apart Kos's strawman.

Email this Article
Add to digg
Add to Reddit
Add to Twitter
Add to
Add to StumbleUpon
Add to Facebook

PoliticsPartiesDemocraticRepublicanGeorge W. Bush

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Sep 10

Staff Exits, Middle Class Tax Cuts Being “Held Hostage” — Today’s Qs for O’s WH — 9/3/2010

TAPPER: More broadly, a lot of people are leaving. Orszag left, Romer left, Larry’s leaving, Rahm is leaving. There are reports about General Jones. Secretary Gates has said 2011 is a good time for him to leave. There are a lot of people, key members of the national security team, key members of the economic team. Could you just comment on that?

Email this Article
Add to Twitter
Add to Facebook
Add to digg
Add to Reddit
Add to StumbleUpon

National securityBarack ObamaRahm EmanuelUnited StatesWhite House
Political Punch

Sep 10

Iran Being Attacked By Computer Virus Of Biblical Proportions?

For the past few weeks there have been reports of a computer virus attacking only computers being used to operate Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran is blaming the United States and Israel for the virus, however new information released in today’s New York Times indicates that the virus may just very well be a sign from God.

You see, Computer Scientists who are analyzing the computer worm that is slowing down Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons may have found a file name that seemingly refers to the Biblical Queen Esther.

Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament narrative in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them.

That use of the word “Myrtus” — which can be read as an allusion to Esther — to name a file inside the code is one of several murky clues that have emerged as computer experts try to trace the origin and purpose of the rogue Stuxnet program, which seeks out a specific kind of command module for industrial equipment.

In the Biblical Story of Esther, the vizier to the Persian king tries to destroy the Jewish people, in the end he is defeated by a Jewess named Esther who becomes queen of Persia and her uncle Mordecai. Since Iran is the modern day Persia, and the computer virus is meant to stop the destruction of the Jewish People, could this be a message from God, from Israel,  something put in just to confuse or maybe something put in the virus just to make the paranoid Iranians even more nervous.

Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts in both cyberwar and nuclear enrichment technology say the Stuxnet mystery may never be solved.

There are many competing explanations for myrtus, which could simply signify myrtle, a plant important to many cultures in the region. But some security experts see the reference as a signature allusion to Esther, a clear warning in a mounting technological and psychological battle as Israel and its allies try to breach Tehran’s most heavily guarded project. Others doubt the Israelis were involved and say the word could have been inserted as deliberate misinformation, to implicate Israel.

“The Iranians are already paranoid about the fact that some of their scientists have defected and several of their secret nuclear sites have been revealed,” one former intelligence official who still works on Iran issues said recently. “Whatever the origin and purpose of Stuxnet, it ramps up the psychological pressure.”

The Stuxnet virus attacks only a certain type of Siemens industrial control computer, the type used by

by Iran:

“What we were told by many sources,” said Olli Heinonen, who retired last month as the head of inspections at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, “was that the Iranian nuclear program was acquiring this kind of equipment.”

Also, starting in the summer of 2009, the Iranians began having tremendous difficulty running their centrifuges, the tall, silvery machines that spin at supersonic speed to enrich uranium — and which can explode spectacularly if they become unstable. In New York last week, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, shrugged off suggestions that the country was having trouble keeping its enrichment plants going.

There is no way to determine where the virus came from, US, Israel or some crazy hacker.  There are even reports that the virus may have come from Russia.

Ralph Langner, a German computer security consultant who was the first independent expert to assert that the malware had been “weaponized” and designed to attack the Iranian centrifuge array, argues that the Stuxnet worm could have been brought into the Iranian nuclear complex by Russian contractors.

“It would be an absolute no-brainer to leave an infected USB stick near one of these guys,” he said, “and there would be more than a 50 percent chance of having him pick it up and infect his computer.”

There are many reasons to suspect Israel’s involvement in Stuxnet. Intelligence is the single largest section of its military and the unit devoted to signal, electronic and computer network intelligence, known as Unit 8200, is the largest group within intelligence.

Yossi Melman, who covers intelligence for the newspaper Haaretz and is at work on a book about Israeli intelligence over the past decade, said in a telephone interview that he suspected that Israel was involved.

He noted that Meir Dagan, head of Mossad, had his term extended last year partly because he was said to be involved in important projects. He added that in the past year Israeli estimates of when Iran will have a nuclear weapon had been extended to 2014.

“They seem to know something, that they have more time than originally thought,” he said.

Wherever it came from, any virus that is slowing down Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is doing God’s work.


Sep 10

Daily Commentary – Thursday, September 30th, 2010 – Jack Webb on Being a Cop

  • Dana gives a reading of the famous monologue from Dragnet on the life of a police officer.
Daily Commentary – Thursday, September 30th, 2010 – Jack Webb on Being a Cop [4:51m]: | Download

Share This

Scared Monkeys

Sep 10

HuffPo’s stupid lows: ABC’s video evidence of Palin not being booed, is not credible

Palin derangement syndrome reaches new levels each week and it is especially prevalent in the Huffington Post. Boo-gate as it is called was all the media covered yesterday, with claims the audience of Dancing with the Stars booed Sarah Palin. ABC yesterday played unedited, raw video of the booing being directed at the scoring of dancers, not to Sarah Palin.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Sep 10

Back to Iowa, Obama says GOP Being Dishonest – Some Ask: Where Is The Hope?

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller reports: “I’m going to try to avoid making, you know, just a straight political speech here,” President Obama said opening up another backyard event today, this time in Des Moines Iowa. His fifth…

Email this Article
Add to Twitter
Add to Facebook
Add to digg
Add to Reddit
Add to StumbleUpon

Barack ObamaIowaJake TapperDes Moines IowaABC News
Political Punch

Sep 10

Will You *PLEASE* Shut Up About Obama Being A Muslim

As readers of my posts will know I have plenty of reasons to be critical of President Obama. I disagree with him on a number of issues and would probably not vote for his re-election.

Having said that I am begging, pleading and praying that people will finally shut up about him being a Muslim.

He’s been quite plain about the fact that he is a Christian. Indeed during the 2008 campaign one of the issues used against him by his critics was that he attended a Christian church with a radical pastor. You can’t slam him for being a radical Christian and a Muslim at the same time, it’s one or the other.

In addition, so what if he is ?

Millions of people are Muslims. While certainly some of them are anti American the vast majority are just like the rest of us and are good loyal Americans.

Do you really think he’s sitting in the Oval Office having secret phone conversations with Bin Laden ?

Do you really think he’s somehow undermining our military as part of some plot to help his fellow holy warriors ?

Do you really think that 40 or 50 years ago a bunch of Imams got together and decided to breed and raise a secret weapon in the hopes that he’d become President of the United States someday ?

When you think about some of the questions then the issue does become kind of silly.

Fifty years ago people attacked John F. Kennedy for being Catholic and he responded with a famous speech which said, in part:

    I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end-where all men and all churches are treated as equal-where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice-where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind-and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

President Obama is not a Muslim, and it is stupid for us to spend time having to discuss it. But even if he were, I would hope the tolerance Kennedy hoped for would be applied.

The Moderate Voice

Sep 10

When Did Being A Slut Become The Morally Superior Option?

Being easy is well, easy. Being cheap and easy is even easier. And evidently, the new moral imperative is to not have any morals and be proud of it.

Meanwhile, there are some crazy younguns like Steven Crowder who value abstinence as a positive life choice. From Steven’s Fox editorial this week:

The idea of abstinence has become somewhat of a punchline in this country. From the myth of unrealistic “abstinence only” education, to the media’s constant portrayal (and mockery) of young, nerdy, out of touch Christians riddled with chastity pendants, the message on abstinence being pumped through pop-culture is clear; If you’re abstinent it’s either because A) you’re ugly or B) you’re a loser. In my case, it was often both.

Maybe it’s just the lack of fun-factor, or maybe it started with harlotry being misused as a fulcrum for women’s liberation, but if you so much as suggest to someone that abstinence might be beneficial, you’ll often find yourself vilified as a judgmental jackass faster than Bill Maher can throw up his dainty hands.

Sure, Michelle Obama can run around the country and condemn little fatties for inhaling Little Debbies, but if you try and apply that same helpful, healthful concept to sex, it’s seen as pushy and/or prudish.

He followed up this mind-bending controversial blog post with a visit to Red Eye, the bawdy middle-of-the-night Fox show (highly recommended, by the way). Here is the video clip from Fox. Is Abstinence Actually Awesome?:

If you can’t watch it, or don’t have the time, first, I’ll relay the tone of the Professional Comedienne (she made sure to emphasize her professional credibility and length of time in the job as she condescended to Steven-calling him a part-time, Christian comedian; she barely contained her contempt) Amy Schumer. She sneered. A lot. Steven was so taken aback by her invective, at one point, he said, “That seems awfully personal.” It was personal for her.

Why? Because she was offended that he would use kinder words for her than she used for herself. Her words? Monogamous Slut. His word? Floozy. Amy also noted that she’s had “two Bakers Dozen” worth of men, she sleeps with a guy on the first date and she’s proud of it. “I don’t like using sex as a bargaining chip”, she declared. She made this statement ignoring her own trade of services by having sex on the first date. She just values her service less. But she is making a bargain and exchanging a service.

After all the insults, Amy finally got down to her real issue,”I just don’t know any happy married people.” The implication? No one is happily married anyway, why embrace behavior that might, but does not guarantee, a happy marriage?

She quotes anecdotal evidence, while Steven tries to share facts. She won’t have it.

My point isn’t to pick on Amy Schumer. I don’t know the woman. Her reasoning, though, is representative of many. The problem, from their point of view, isn’t the failure to live up to ideals. The problem is that anyone has ideals. Worse, it’s offensive that people with ideals — which include treasuring virginity or abstinence to build trust — actually have the nerve to talk about those ideals. They accuse the idealists of peddling a false hope and false product, because they, themselves have had trouble maintaining a relationship. And if they can’t figure it out, no one can.

The self-described slut’s desire for those valuing abstinence? Shut up, you’re young. Also, it doesn’t matter anyway. In addition, you’re stupid and inexperienced. And, don’t confuse me with the facts.

How far we’ve fallen. Christine O’Donnell has been ridiculed similarly for her 1980s beliefs about masturbation, which have, ostensibly, mellowed with time. But even still, is her stance that off? Even liberals acknowledge the damage that porn and masturbation can do to creating real intimacy in relationships.

The subtext of the Liberalization-Of-Sex-Is-Awesome philosophy is that happy relationships don’t exist anyway, get laid while you can, and no matter what, “don’t judge me.” What a cynical, miserable position to take. It’s also factually incorrect. Marriage wins against single and there’s plenty of evidence for that position (see also Steven’s post). Monogamy wins against infidelity. Abstinence wins against promiscuity. They are ideals worth encouraging and upholding even if fulfilling them is challenging; even if perfection is never achieved (and it never will be).

A patient once told me that now, he would prefer health over sex. Of course, he’s middle-aged and far wiser, and will live forever with the herpes outbreaks he still suffers. He is not alone. One in four, 25% for the math challenged, have herpes. Twice as many young adults ages 20 – 29 have herpes than did 20 years ago. This is a recurring tragedy for the sufferer and his partner-a consistent, unrelenting reminder of promiscuity that cannot be undone.

To have someone promote sluttiness as the morally superior position is absurd. Steven Crowder demonstrates courage, and a heck of a lot more wisdom, than many serial monogamists or cheap prostitutes-even the smug ones with ten more years of life experience who are “real” comedians.

The downside to abstinence? Missing momentary fun. The upside to abstinence? A disease free, trust-building platform for the potential (since there are no guarantees in life) of a much happier, healthier relationship and life.

Abstinence isn’t the cheap and easy choice, but it sure is the smarter one.

Cross-posted at

Liberty Pundits Blog

Sep 10

Are Your Children Being Indoctrinated? Examining What Schools Give Them To Read

By Barry Rubin

Are your children being indoctrinated? In past Rubin Reports I pointed out that almost the entire social studies’ curriculum of my son’s fourth grade class last year consisted of three topics:

-America has not kept its promises and has been a racist and often bad country. The main example was the World War Two internment of Japanese which was the focus of reading material.

-Immigration is always good (with no mention of illegal immigration or any resulting problems).

-Man-made global warming is a serious threat to human survival.

Other viewpoints—indeed other issues generally—weren’t presented on any of these issues. There was little positive about America.

My son was upset at the portrayal of Israel in Junior Scholastic magazine of September 6, 2010, given to his fifth-grade class to read. So I gave that issue a thorough evaluation, trying to be fair and reasonable in doing so.

Main Article: “Obama’s In-Box” pp. 6-8. An article about challenges facing the President. Most of the short items are balanced—immigration, oil spill, terrorism (domestic only), Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea- in that they present more than one side and avoid partisan language.

There are three exceptions, however:

-The Middle East: This is seriously slanted. After being told Obama wants to make peace the kids are instructed:

“Muslim extremists often use U.S. support for Israel as an excuse to commit terrorist acts. But some Israeli policies, Obama says, work against peace.”

While the first sentence is certainly true, in this context (with no other factors being presented) the kids are being taught that U.S. support for Israel threatens their lives. (Obvious answer: Protect yourself by ending support for Israel.)

As for the second sentence, Obama’s considerable prestige is thrown in to blame Israel for the lack of peace. That’s it. No criticism of the Palestinians. Nothing about Hamas or any hint of anti-Israel terrorism or the goal of wiping Israel off the map.

Do I think this was conscious and deliberate? Probably not. Is it damaging and dangerous? Definitely yes.

-Jobs and the Economy: There’s still a recession, the kids are told, but good news! “In the last two years, the federal government has spent billions of dollars to try to save and create jobs. This has helped pull the nation out of a recession. But unemployment is still nearly 10 percent, and the housing market remains shaky.” An unnamed expert explains: the economy is growing but still slowly.

While the third and fourth sentence provides some balance, this is an endorsement of government high-spending policy. Has this really worked? No contrary view—Stimulus failed; cut spending, recession far from over- is given. Moreover, it should always be pointed out that money being spent doesn’t come from government but from taxpayers.

-Climate Change: This is presented as a major threat to the world. It quotes Obama as saying the United States must act before “the effects of climate change become `irreversible.’” There is no hint that anyone might disagree even with the proposition that minor human actions like cutting auto emissions would make a difference.

Article pp. 2-3: “Beyond the Cleanup: What’s The Long-Term Impact of the Gulf Oil Disaster”

[Important Note: This article is partly balanced by a debate on page 9 over off-shore drilling between the presidents of the National Resources Defense Council and the American Petroleum Institute.]

Message: We must reduce oil use even if this means lower living standards and go to alternative fuels(often unproven) even if they cost more.

Not mentioned: The blow-out was exceptional, deep-drilling was a response to environmental demands. This is almost like saying that the crash of an improperly maintained airplane shows Americans must reduce their dependence on air travel.


“What’s less clear [is] whether this disaster will finally get Americans to reduce their dependence on oil.”

While BP is mainly to blame “Americans also bear at least some indirect responsibility. The U.S. consumes more oil than any other country….This has led to drilling in riskier areas, including ever-deeper sites offshore.” That argument is simply untrue. There are vast areas closer in to shore and elsewhere where drilling has been forbidden by the U.S. government.

Your living standards are too high: “An estimated 71 percent of the oil we use fuels transportation. Most of the rest goes into making products that we often toss out in massive quantities. ”

Quote from fisherman—on National Public Radio (of course)—saying “I don’t see a future for us to catch fresh fish ever again—oysters, crabs.” This is clearly alarmist and is not matched by less extreme quote (terrible damage but we will come back).

Only one proposed solution offered: “President Barack Obama has called for the development of alternative fuels as one way to reduce our dependence. But much more will be needed. Are Americans willing to change their energy habits?”

Article: “We Are Americans Too!” Pages 16-19:

Important Note: The one quote from the play that is arguably balancing is also published as a large cut line prominently displayed: “They don’t know what’s in our hearts. They don’t know that we are loyal.”

Oh no, the Japanese internment story seems to be the main theme of American education. In the play, the father of the family is falsely accused of using his fishing boat to spy and smuggle in supplies for the Japanese army? This is NOT a true story but a PBS play and I doubt that anyone was specifically accused of espionage like this.

The focus is on how badly they are treated, insults, etc. I’m not going over the issue in detail here, only to say that while the action seems wrong and unnecessary from the perspective of almost 70 years later, at the time it was a reasonable thing to do given the lack of information about Japanese immigrant views, genuine fear of a Japanese attack on the Pacific coast, the fact that extensive spying had been done to prepare the Pearl Harbor attack (we now know mainly by the Japanese consulate in Hawaii), the existence of militant Japanese nationalist societies, the legitimacy of the existing Japanese government (in contrast to the usurper regimes in Germany and Italy), and the centrality of obedience to the emperor in the Shinto tradition. None of these points is mentioned in the article and these are never explained in the study of the issue in elementary schools.

I was puzzled by this obsession until I read what Daniel Pipes wrote on the subject. He explains that the subject is deliberately intended as a parallel showing why the main threat is Islamophobia and not Islamist terrorism and similar things. His article also shows additional reasons why authorities implemented an internament policy.

I should also note that the point is never explicitly made that not a single internee was killed, injured, or tortured, adding to the credit accruing to American behavior in the past. Finally, students are never taught about how Americans and others were tortured and mistreated in Japanese internment camps. This would NOT justify similar behavior by Americans, of course, but shows something vital for students to learn: Other peoples often behave badly, Americans and those in democratic countries almost always behave better.

My conclusion is that Junior Scholastic editors are partly trying to be balanced and do a better job of it than much of the mass media but that there are still serious examples of indoctrination on some issues.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).