Friday, June 03, 2005
And the frontrunner is a ...
Gasp! Socialists in the press (2/2/05)
Russian neo-Nazis on the prowl in Israel
I wondered about the timing, but I shouldn't have. According to Reuters,
"It is pure coincidence," the police official said.
Police tracked down the group after the recent arrest of a 20-year-old serviceman from the West Bank settlement of Ariel suspected of drug use. During a search in his house a large cache of neo-Nazi material downloaded from the Internet was seized. At the detention center policemen noticed a swastika tattoo on his arm.
The testimony of the detainee helped to identify other suspects of taking part in anti-Semitic Internet chat rooms and performing secret ceremonies with swastika banners and other neo-Nazi regalia.
“We cannot disclose details of the inquiry, but it’s chilling,” a police investigator Haim Fadlon was quoted by the paper as saying. “It appears there are people living in this country who are talking among themselves about extermination of the Jews.”
So what is this remarkably timed discovery about? My guess would be Israeli immigration law.
The presence of neo-Nazis in Israel is not as unknown as the current press accounts would suggest. Eugene Girin wrote last year in Israel National News,
In the years 2000-2003, at least 500 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded (with many more unrecorded) in which Russians were arrested for spraying anti-Jewish graffiti, desecrating synagogues and attacking Jews. Synagogues were defaced in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox town in central Israel, cemeteries were vandalized in another religious town, Ramat Beit Shemesh, and Jews were attacked all over the country (Netivot, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, northern Israel), some by openly neo-Nazi bandits.
The problem, from a certain perspective, is that Israeli immigration law allows anyone to immigrate to Israel who has at least one Jewish grandparent. This was actually based upon the Nazi recognition of who was to be considered a Jew.
Girin has some thoughts on this—
In the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of people left the dying Evil Empire for Israel and are continuing to leave the post-Soviet republics. This aliyah (return to Zion) was the biggest yet in the history of Israel. However, because of the misguided policies of the Israeli government and institutions such as the Jewish Agency, an ever-growing number of the Soviet immigrants are not even Jewish.
And what might it mean if you're not Jewish?
The behavior of many of the non-Jewish immigrants to Israel is chillingly similar to the disrespectful and disorderly behavior of illegal Mexican immigrants to the United States and Muslim immigrants to Western Europe. Russian thugs in Israel have perpetrated dozens of anti-Jewish incidents.
These Russians and Ukrainians flock to Israel to escape the lawlessness and poverty of their homelands. This of course, contradicts the whole purpose of the Law of Return and the immigration policy of the Jewish State - to allow Jews to come to their historic and cultural homeland. Israel was not established to be a haven for the world's wretched masses. Israel is not meant to be a multicultural conglomeration, but a nation-state, a sovereign government representing a particular national people.
Just like the Mexican invasion of the American Southwest and the Muslim takeover of French and Belgian cities, the mass influx of hostile aliens into Israel will have ever more detrimental effects. Prime Minister Sharon would be well advised to read Jean Raspail and Michelle Malkin before he opens Israel's doors to a mass Russian invasion.
It would appear that Israel is having a problem with ethnic purity. Fascists everywhere can only hope this shocking arrest on Holocaust Memorial Day will sensitize Israeli Jewry to the problem.
Israel and domestic terrorism on the eve of 9/11 (9/11/07)
Quote of the Day
—George Will, writing of the EU constitution.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
A further note on the Brits and Afghanistan
Rereading that post last night I realized that I had missed a very important additional point. There was a paragraph in the Scotsman article that quoted a defense analyst from Jane's, who said—
"They might struggle to cover their commitment to Iraq, but even if they do that, it would mean that the UK could not take on any further military commitments anywhere else."
This makes clear that the British are not only putting pressure on the Americans with regard to the troops in Iraq but sending a strong message that they should not be counted on to partner in any new U.S. military adventures.
Good. They may need to tell them more than once.
What's up in Britain? (9/23/04)
What's up in Afghanistan and why is Blair sending more troops? (4/5/05)
The secret that's not a secret: British troops to Afghanistan (5/23/05)
The 15 most harmful people?
- The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels
- Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
- Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong
- The Kinsey Report, Alfred Kinsey
- Democracy and Education, John Dewey
- Das Kapital, Karl Marx
- The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
- The Course of Positive Philosophy, Auguste Comte
- Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzche
- General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes
The themes were economic theories espoused by leftists and liberals, sex, gender politics and atheism. Hitler's Mein Kampf was included apparently for its antisemitism.
Of the descriptions my favorite was of Das Kapital:
Das Kapital forces the round peg of capitalism into the square hole of Marx’s materialistic theory of history, portraying capitalism as an ugly phase in the development of human society in which capitalists inevitably and amorally exploit labor by paying the cheapest possible wages to earn the greatest possible profits. Marx theorized that the inevitable eventual outcome would be global proletarian revolution. He could not have predicted 21st Century America: a free, affluent society based on capitalism and representative government that people the world over envy and seek to emulate.
These people have either no sense of humor or no sense at all.
Of the books in the also-rans, perhaps the greatest surprise was Darwin's The Origin of Species, coming in at #18.
This seems such an odd enterprise. I frequently read of the Right criticizing liberals for having no fresh ideas. Yet these leaders of conservatism could do no better than to come up with books they don't like? Maybe that's what laissez-faire really means—do nothing, think nothing and see what happens.
I simply can't imagine a group of liberals or lefties promulgating such a list. It would be so illiberal—and nobody would have heard of the books anyway.
As it turns out, you probably won't have heard of most of the people who voted. The only one reasonably well known to me was Phyllis Schlafly, President of the Eagle Forum. Doubly strange because the remaining 14 were all men.
What you can learn at camp
The most amazing of these was Chase Culeman-Beckman, who revealed the identity of Deep Throat in a high-school paper in the late 90s.
Born well after Watergate, Culeman-Beckman was 8 when, he says, Post reporter Carl Bernstein's son Jacob revealed the identity of Deep Throat to him at a summer day camp in 1988.
Except for telling his mother, Culeman-Beckman would keep the secret for nearly 10 years - until spilling the beans in a high school research paper.
In a 1999 Hartford Courant article about Culeman-Beckman's disclosure, Felt denied that he was "Deep Throat." Bernstein said in an interview that neither he nor reporting partner Bob Woodward had ever told their wives or children their source's identity.
The name meant nothing to Culeman-Beckman when he heard it in 1988. Now a graduate student at Cornell University, Culeman-Beckman could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I'm 100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt," he quoted Bernstein's son as saying. "He's someone in the FBI." Culeman-Beckman told the Courant that the boy attributed the information to his father.
After the article, Bernstein, his son and his son's mother, author and director Nora Ephron, all denied that Bernstein had told anyone the identity of "Deep Throat." Ephron said then that she concluded on her own that it was Felt.
To Culeman-Beckman, turnabout was fair play.
"They've been cute about it long enough," Culeman-Beckman said at the time. "I just think if it's fair of them to dethrone a president, for all intents and purposes, and not tell anyone their source, I don't see why it's not fair for a person like myself to come forward. ... Let the cards fall where they may. There's a chance this could be the answer to one of the greatest political mysteries of our time."
In 1999 Timothy Noah ("Chatterbox") of Slate picked up the story and quoted from Culeman-Beckman's paper—
I was in the "Herons" group along with about fifteen other 8, 9, and 10 year olds ... One Friday in July we went on a trip to Long Beach, Sag Harbor, and Jacob, Max and I ended up sitting in the sand precociously talking about politics. It was an election year and I was in favor of George Bush because he had gone to the Greenwich Country Day School where I was attending, while Jacob and Max were for Michael Dukakis, although I do not remember why. At some point, the conversation turned to Nixon and Watergate ... which I knew little, if nothing, about. During the conversation Jacob told me: "Deep Throat was Mark Felt, he's someone in the FBI. I'm 100% sure."
Bernstein and his wife Nora Ephron denied at the time that Jacob could have known this and said that he was only "repeating his mother's guesswork."
Still. Camp, hyphenated name, "dethrone a president," Greenwich Country Day School? It pays to run with the in-crowd.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Americans want a withdrawal
At the time of writing the responses to the question "Is it time to begin the careful but quick withdrawal of American forces from Iraq?" were 92.2% "Yes" to 7.8% "No" out of 1988 responses.
They can search your mind but not your body
As described in the opinion [pdf], the case arose because—
Two years after Kristin Greenawalt was hired by the Indiana Department of Corrections as a research analyst, she was told that to keep her job she would have to submit to a psychological examination. The record ... is silent on the reason for so belated a demand. But she complied and later brought this suit ... against the Department and two of its officials.... She claimed that the test, which lasted two hours and inquired into details of her personal life, constituted an unreasonable search in violation of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Also, invoking the supplemental jurisdiction of the district court, ... she claimed that whether or not the test was a search, requiring her to take it if she wanted to keep her job both invaded her privacy and deliberately inflicted emotional distress on her, and so violated Indiana’s common law of torts. She asked for damages plus an injunction that would require the defendants to expunge the results of the test from her personnel file.
So the opinion purports to inquire
whether subjecting a public employee to a probing psychological examination is a search. If it is, then it may well have been an unreasonable one in this case, and thus violate the Fourth Amendment, because Greenawalt is merely a researcher. She has no contact with prisoners, is not armed or privy to state secrets, and has no other powers or opportunities, so far as we can tell, that would warrant imposing such a condition of employment, unlike cases such as [cases involving various law-enforcement personnel, a school administrator and persons close to the White House].
Then, incredibly, at the conclusion of this paragraph Judge Posner asserts—
But we need not decide this, as we do not think a psychological test is a search.
I guess that takes care of that!
Posner draws a distinction
The opinion continues—
Almost any quest for information that involves a physical touching, which a test does not, is nowadays deemed a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment....
Posner reviews the many activities that have been deemed to constitute a search—taking a drop of blood, applying a breathalyzer test, requiring a urine sample, wiretapping, rifling an employee's desk—but concludes that a psychological test is not among them.
Nevertheless we do not think that the Fourth Amendment should be interpreted to reach the putting of questions to a person, even when the questions are skillfully designed to elicit what most people would regard as highly personal private information. The cases we have cited show, it is true, that a Fourth Amendment claim does not depend on the claimant's being able to establish an invasion of such interests that tort law traditionally protects as the interest in bodily integrity (protected by the tort of battery), in freedom of movement (protected by the tort of false imprisonment), and in property (protected by the torts of trespass and of conversion). But that is all they show, so far as bears on the issue in this case. The implications of extending the doctrine of those cases to one involving mere questioning would be strange. In a case involving sex or some other private matter, a government trial lawyer might be required to obtain a search warrant before being allowed to conduct a cross-examination--or the judge before being allowed to ask a question of the witness. Police might have to obtain search warrants or waivers before conducting routine inquiries, even of the complaining witness in a rape case, since they would be inquiring about the witness's sexual behavior. Questioning in a police inquiry or a background investigation or even a credit check would be in peril of being deemed a search of the person about whom the questions were asked. Psychological tests, widely used in a variety of sensitive employments, would be deemed forbidden by the Constitution if a judge thought them "unreasonable."
The lawyer-blogger concurs—
Although I would quibble with a few minor points, this is basically right. Being asked and having to answer questions is primarily a Fifth Amendment question, not a Fourth Amendment question.... If asking questions and getting answers were a Fourth Amendment search, the law of criminal procedure would look dramatically different than it does today.
Why is a verbal psychological test different from ordinary questioning?
Judge Posner views a psychological test as no different from conventional interrogations—"the putting of questions to a person" or "mere questioning."1
But a verbal psychological test may be very different from ordinary questioning. To begin, all psychological tests worth their salt have two parameters associated with them—validity and reliability. (There are various types of measures of validity and reliability, so I'm simplifying here.)
Basically, validity is the measure of how well a test measures what it purports to measure. For instance, Does such and such an IQ test really measure a subject's intelligence? The answer to that question is referred to as the test's "validity" and may be associated with a number, a coefficient of correlation, that indicates how well or poorly the test results correlate with some external (extrinsic) measure of intelligence.
The second parameter—reliability—has to do with the reproducibility of the results. If I test a subject on Wednesday, will I get the same result that I got on Monday?
While lawyers, judges or police agents (or psychiatrists and psychologists) may have some tricks up their sleeves, what they don't have are studies to validate the meaningfulness of their questions nor any studies to prove their reliability. The questioner asks a question, the responder answers and the questioner may conclude whatever he likes about that answer.
Psychological tests on the other hand are designed to elicit information about the person that may be quite different from the surface meaning of the questions. To give a fairly benign (and facetious) example, "Do you enjoy outdoor sports?" might be posed on a test to determine a subject's likely compatibility with a career choice. Research may have determined that most foresters enjoy outdoor sports and that those who don't should probably look elsewhere for a career—perhaps accounting.
The test that Kristin Greenawalt was required by the State of Indiana to take is not identified in the opinion, but I suspect that it was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, commonly known as the MMPI (and in its current version as the MMPI-2).
This test was originally developed in an attempt to make differential diagnoses of various psychiatric disorders. Thus the results are delivered as a set of scales with such names as hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviate, paranoia, psychasthenia, schizophrenia, and hypomania. It was subsequently shown that these scales are not valid for the purposes suggested by their names, and so the modern MMPI is interpreted in a manner not obvious from the traditional nomenclature.
Richard Niolon, a psychologist writes
The MMPI 2 has been consistently ranked one of the top two psychological instruments of all psychological instruments in use by American Psychologists. It is one of the most researched tests around as well, with over 500 published articles, books, and chapters. It's not perfect, mind you, as it has both strengths and weaknesses, but used properly, it is an invaluable tool.
He also notes that the MMPI is
respected by the courts in many different areas.... The courts and their staff actually may know some of the basics about how to read the scales even.
So Kristin Greenawalt hasn't been searched?
Finally, let me mention another matter that the opinion does not touch—nonverbal psychological tests. There are a number of such tests. The most famous in the areas of personality profiling and clinical diagnosis is the Rorschach—the ink-blot test.
Would this opinion then apply to the Rorschach?
New love can look for all the world like mental illness, a blend of mania, dementia and obsession that cuts people off from friends and family and prompts out-of-character behavior - compulsive phone calling, serenades, yelling from rooftops - that could almost be mistaken for psychosis.
Now for the first time, neuroscientists have produced brain scan images of this fevered activity, before it settles into the wine and roses phase of romance or the joint holiday card routines of long-term commitment.
In an analysis of the images appearing today in The Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers in New York and New Jersey argue that romantic love is a biological urge distinct from sexual arousal.
1On "mere questioning" I enjoyed this comment. Judge Posner quotes from another opinion—
“By asking one question about marijuana, officer Chiola did not make the custody of Childs an ‘unreasonable’ seizure. What happened here must occur thousands of times daily across the nation: Officers ask persons stopped for traffic offenses whether they are committing any other crimes. That is not an unreasonable law-enforcement strategy, either in a given case or in gross; persons who do not like the question can decline to answer.”Then he concludes—
Of course, Greenawalt’s situation is different. Theoretically, a person subject to routine police questions can simply decline to answer without suffering any adverse consequences.
I'm glad that the appellate court recognizes that the freedom to decline to answer questions posed by the police is only theoretical. [back]
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
The "liberal" press
The Times, frequently identified as a "liberal" paper, fired back with this—
Where did The Times' editorial page get the idea that winning the war on terrorism depends on persuading societies that breed terrorists that they should like us and adopt our values? Actually, this is not some wooly left-wing notion concocted over a joint during a lesbian wedding reception in Santa Monica. It is the cornerstone of the George Bush presidency, according to Bush himself.
I suppose that is meant to legitimize the editorial—that the Times has taken a position identical to that of George Bush. But I fear they've taken a wrong turn. If they really want to understand the intricacies of psyops and foreign policy, they should try smoking a joint at a lesbian wedding reception.
In case you were thinking of moving ...
Monday, May 30, 2005
Statistic of the Day
—"Purgatory without end" in The Economist
Walter Cronkite on news in the Civil Rights era: A must-listen
The Christian Right, STDs, monogamy and other wonders
Coburn did not hold back—
... Coburn got serious. He flipped to his next slide. It showed a part of the male anatomy but not as a science textbook drawing; this was the real thing, and a particularly sorry example; it looked like it had been left outside by mistake and then rusted in some unnatural way, with scaly dry spots, and warts on an angry red background.
I think I may know him. Was it twisted to the right?
Rosin observed that
Conservative Christian leaders and STDs are in many ways a natural match.
Yes. They're both virulent, and the symptoms produced by these leaders of the Religious Right bear a striking resemblance to the symptoms you see with various STDs—including the scales.
There's Jerry Falwell, whose "Silent Majority" campaign of the late 70s first produced only a brief rash, followed by a decades-long latency only to emerge in its tertiary stage as full-blown dementia. "Syphilis Falwell" we used to call him in the locker room.
Then there's the Rev. Pat "Chlamydia" Robertson, whose Christian broadcasting network spread unctuously and silently, asymptomatically infecting the populace. Because of the lack of symptoms it was left untreated until it has finally reached critical areas where the damage may be irreversible.
The Rev. James Dobson is highly contagious, producing gonorrhea-like symptoms. Those infected experience a stinging burn or itch almost immediately, usually associated with a foul-smelling discharge, which makes them desperate to find relief by ending the filibuster rule and opposing gay rights.
Almost all of their associates can produce a kind of venereal wart-like contagion, a virus that may be spread orally, infecting victims who had no intention of engaging in anything more than a casual kiss.
But Sen. Coburn's class needed more than instruction in disease prevention. He came mighty close to what they call "sex education" in Oklahoma.
Coburn always offers to see people in private after the lecture, and his staff say 10 or so people always take him up on it and many more ask follow-up questions after his lectures. No doubt at the very least he's filling in basic gaps in knowledge.Yes, dear. Simply Appalling has always taken a firm stand in support of serial monogamy, and don't let anyone tell you different.
"You keep mentioning the word 'monogamy'," a staffer named Roland Foster recalls one young woman asking after a lecture. "What is that?"
"That's when you have sex with only one partner," Coburn responded.
"You mean at a time?"
Memorial Day Quote
—Editorial in Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Sunday, May 29, 2005
France votes "No" on EU Constitution
Results of France's referendum on the EU Constitution are just emerging on the Web, and it appears that the French have rejected it decisively. Of course, they're still only reporting exit polls, and you know how disastrously that can turn out, but the results appear so overwhelming that even the Republicans couldn't screw with it.
According to Agence France-Presse, three different exit polls have shown a rejection of the Constitution by 55% to 45%. Turnout by American standards was incredible—between 70% to 80%.
Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the EU Constitution would enshrine an economic theory—capitalism—1
While supporters argued that the constitution was a necessary next step towards France's destiny as the leader of a united Europe, rejectionists said it was a charter for unbridled capitalism and would entrench US-style "liberal" economics at the heart of the EU.
You didn't have to care about economic theory. You could just worry about your job—
Many ordinary voters caught the message that the constitution would open up France to cheap competition from eastern Europe and lead to "dumping" as norms of social protection are dragged downwards. Some saw a "no" vote as a way of blocking Turkish entry to the EU, even though the issue is not in the text.
All in all, a good day.
EU Constitution signed; anti-gay candidate backs off (10/31/04)
The best place in the world to do business (edited) (11/8/04)
Just quickly, here are a handful of the key examples ... of how the ECT remains not merely neo-liberal through and through, but is additionally aggressively militarist, (incidentally undermining the traditions of neutrality of Ireland and Austria):[back]
1. Articles 111-69, 70, 77, 144 and 180 all identically repeat that the Union will act 'in conformity with the respect for the principles of an open economic market where competition is free.'
2. There are numerous clauses that specifically correspond to demands made by certain employer organisations.
3. The ECT demands unanimous voting for any measures that might go against corporate interests. This is the certainly case for measures against tax fraud, or taxation of companies. Such legislative movement in this regard requires a unanimous vote as, above all, "[it is] necessary for the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition." (111-63). Thus, any future proposed duty imposed on corporations would be subject to unanimous voting - something the Ouistes regularly trot out as being reduced under the ECT.
4. Shockingly, the ECT demands all states' subservience to NATO: '[M]ember states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capacities.' (1-40-3). Article 1-40-2 says that European defence policy shall be compatible with members' NATO obligations, a direct recognition of the superior judicial status of that military organisation. Furthermore, the article continues with even greater precision that "participating member states shall work in close collaboration with NATO". Even in situations of "internal serious disturbances affecting public order, in cases of war or of [...] the threat of war", member states are obliged to work together in order to avoid "affecting" the functioning of the "internal market"! (III-16)'
5. Perhaps most disturbing in the ECT is clause 17 of the third section, regarding the question of the break-up of public services: It is permitted that a member state can be in favour of maintaining a public service. But public services have: "the effect of distorting the conditions of competition in the internal market, [and] the Commission shall, together with the state concerned, examine how these steps can be adjusted to the rules laid dawn in the Constitution. By derogation of common law procedure, the Commission or any member state can apply directly to the Court of Justice which will sit in secret..." (III-17)' Thus the constitution from the start commits member states to the ultimate elimination of public services.
I find it remarkable that the Guardian leader writers are not aware that the ECT explicitly codifies the dismantling of social services and expansion of European military capablilities.
But let's take the latter two elements and invert them leftwards, just to expose how retrograde this project truly is: Imagine if instead there were a document - a constitution no less, the founding document of a (in this case quasi-)state - that included words something along the following lines:
'Markets have the effect of ever greater inequality, impoverishment and environmental destruction, and so the Commission shall, together with the state concerned, examine how steps can be taken to minimize the impact of markets on society, steadily taking into public ownership under workers' control initially the commanding heights of industry, but in the shorter or longer term every aspect of the economy, in accordance with the rules laid down in the Constitution. By derogation of the inalienable rights of humanity, the Commission or any member state can apply directly in this regard to the Court of Justice, which will be directly elected and instantly recallable and which will sit openly...' [emphasis in the original]