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Friday, April 24, 2015

USEFUL IDIOTS IN ECUADOR

Don't expect to see an HBO movie about this any time soon.

Several times over the years this blog has been on top of a story in Ecuador in which Chevron was railroaded by fraudulent lawsuits directed by the Obama administration over environmental damage. This video gives a quick overview of the fraud perpetrated by radicals and extremists working with a US Attorney:


The only thing missing from the video is the involvement of the US government under President Obama.  Now it seems that Sharon Stone is involved as well.  She was slated to show up for an environmentalist rally to give her support and publicity, but its the same group that tried to defraud Chevron and now she's denying she was there to hurt Chevron.
Stone claims she knew nothing about the story, which despite snark in some quarters about how smart she claims to be, I buy.  Almost nobody is covering this despite it be a fascinating and major news story.  And the story gets worse, as Hollywood Reporter, er, reports:
Prior to Ms. Stone traveling to Ecuador, MCS, acting as the public relations arm for the Republic of Ecuador, issued a press release asserting that the purpose of Ms. Stone’s expected trip was to support the Ecuadorian government’s 'Dirty Hand of Chevron' campaign," Stone's attorney Andrew Brettler wrote in a March 3 letter to the judge. "At no time did Ms. Stone agree to support this campaign, advance any other political agenda of the Ecuadorian government, or advocate against Chevron. In addition, Ms. Stone subsequently learned that MCS failed to disclose that it was conducting public relations activities in the United States on behalf of the Republic of Ecuador in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires a foreign agent to register with the U.S. Department of Justice.
MCSquared is pretty much just a totally corrupt organization, and they have filed a breach of contract suit against Sharon Stone for refusing to go show up and help them defraud Chevron.  Previously, celebrity useful idiots such as Danny Glover and Mia Farrow have flown to Ecuador to help MCSquared.
They aren't giving up despite losing a major lawsuit and since they have no visible source of income, one wonders how MCS is managing to keep paying for leftist celebrities and rallies and legal fees in Ecuador.  Seems like that might be a story too, one that ends up in Red Square.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

GETTING IT ALL WRONG

"It was my job to make sure different ethnic and religious groups 'got on.'"

Someone posted a video a few days ago that I watched, but sadly I cannot recall who they were.  Thanks, whoever.  The video is a British TV special with Trevor Phillips, former head of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission under Tony Blair.  In it, he examines his former understanding of race relations, bigotry, and its causes and prevention.
For Mr Phillips, the London bombings on 7/7 during the Olympics shocked him into rethinking several assumptions he's had over the years and made him examine his beliefs.  As a result, he's changing significantly, and the video is about these changes.  But the video's real power and information for me is less about what he has to say now - most of it fairly obvious to me - but what he used to think, and more importantly, why.
Quick now, what do these stories have in common:
  • Lois Lerner, despite contempt of congress and blatant abuse of the IRS to systematically attack political groups she didn't like, has utterly avoided punishment and instead gotten bonuses.  Why?
  • Wisconsin has recently been ground zero for abuse of power by the legal system to punish political enemies.
  • It turns out women are more likely to be hired for scientific jobs at colleges and universities, not less.
  • Why did this college apologize for serving Mexican food at a sci fi movie festival?
  • Tim Blair teaches you how to play lefist grievance poker, where each hand is worth a set amount of political clout and victimhood.
  • What on earth is going on at the Hugo Awards?
  • Judge issues writ of habeus corpus for chimpanzee, extending human legal protection to animals. 
  • Scott Ritter admitted that he knew about the horrific children's prisons (among other evils) under Saddam Hussein and kept them to himself for fear of starting a war in Iraq.
Chances are you haven't even heard about some of these stories - they aren't the kind that get a lot of wide media attention or buzz online.  And they all have something in common, which Trevor Phillips mentions in the video.
Its not "narrative," that word that tries to explain the way a worldview becomes so overwhelming that everything is forced into its lens, although that is part of it.  Here's what Mr Phillips says:
Campaigners like me sincerely believed that if we could prevent people expressing prejudiced ideas, then eventually, they'd stop thinking them.
I [now] don't think we should be put off talking about ethnic patterns of behavior because of what bigots and racists might say.
Trevor Phillips knows this, because he helped create the "equality laws" and policies which governed Great Britain under Tony Phillips and if anything have become even more egregious.  He was in charge of the enforcement of these laws.He now believes that certain things are too important to be left unsaid, even if they might offend people.  He also now says that some of the racial stereotypes that his commission once tried to stop people from saying are largely true: Jews are on the whole richer and more powerful than their neighbors. Gypsies are generally more likely to be guilty of pickpocketing and shoplifting.  Columbian gangs did actually run drug trafficking in the 90s.
But the reason that he and others came up with their rules and act the way they do about policies is because they're trying to be proactive in what they perceive as a war against enemies in culture.  They make decisions not based on what will work, what is reasonable, or what is logical but upon what they believe their enemies will do.  To illustrate this, check out this exchange starting at 15:48 in the video.  Here he talks to a fellow commission member Simon Wooley, with whom he worked to end "stop and search" policies in the UK by combing through "mountains of data" showing they weren't helping stop crime, were supposedly discriminatory, and were costing money.
Philllips: Do you think it would be wrong to use ethnicity data against criminals in the way that we used it against the cops?
Wooley: I am not sure about that.  Why would you say that you have a black gang in London and a white gang in Glasgow?  You wouldn't, they'd be gangs and they'd be involved in criminality.  There's no need to racially... racially code a gang if its a gang.
Phillips: But sometimes gangs are gangs because they are racially coded.  There are crime families, there are organizations...
Wooley: Sure
Phillips: ...which are based on ethnicities, and all sorts of groups have crime.  So why would it be wrong to be able to talk publicly about that fact
Wooley: (crosstalk) because.. because no but its not... the danger is that it gets too lazy and attach all description... nobody wants to go down there.  If its nanced, then fine, but if its this headline: "you've got to do something about black gangs," its dangerous.  You know that, and I know that.
Phillips (later): Our problem is that we never talk about these things, we're all so afraid of being misused that we never tackle it.
Wooley: We have to be smart, Trevor.
The argument Mr Wooley is making is that some might misuse or be misled by telling the truth so you have to be "nuanced" and careful about saying it.  Trevol Phillips accurately notes that this in the end means you say nothing about the topic.  And the reason is that there's a fear of the enemy gaining ground, misusing the information and doing bad things.
And that's what drives so much of the left: fear of this straw man they create, that a great evil will result unless they do what they do.  Take the stories above.  
The Scott Ritter one is the easiest, as the most blatant.  He withheld human rights violations on a heinous scale out of fear his reports would cause a reaction he didn't like.  CNN did the same thing, refusing to report on certain topics for fear of how people would respond (and, out of fear of danger for their reporters and being kicked out of the country).
Lois Lerner isn't punished for her blatant abuse of power because an attorney illegally took the power on himself to dismiss the case to protect the president from what Republicans might do with the case.
Wisconsin prosecutors kicked doors down and confiscated materials, defied judicial orders, and investigated ordinary people for daring to belong to a political side they didn't like because the alternative meant their enemies might win.
Women are said to be hired less in college and data that proves otherwise disregarded or attacked because of the fear this might lead to women being hired less.
University of California, Santa Cruz apologized to hispanic students for serving mexican food with a sci fi festival because ... get this... they complained people will associate gassy food with gas giants and might be prejudiced.
The Hugo Awards kerfluffle was brought about by leftists who despite the awards being given to women, minorities, and all sorts over the years quite often, thought that they might be too often given to white men which might make people tend to think of white men as more intelligent and literary.
The writ of Habeus Corpus was issued to a chimpanzees which means the prosecutors must face them in court to make legal arguments because the judge was concerned that otherwise the animals would be mistreated.
And the entire "victim poker" system is based on the fears that peoples need to be protected from potential evils by oppressors even if they aren't doing it because the potential is too great and we must proactively prevent it.
It all stems from a philosophy of trying to be the nicest guy in the room.  Leftists on the whole are driven by the fear that someone might not see them as being a good person and nice, and further that those who disagree with them are mean and bad.  They want to be seen and thought of as the least racist, the most enlightened, the best people.
And further, those who disagree are so very awful that they must be staved off even before the problems start or another Hitler will result.  Other than sophistry, inability to intellectually articulate ideas, and a tendency toward emotionalism over reason, this is why the arguments on the left are often so ridiculously overstated and hysterical.  You aren't just different or mistaken but evil.  You aren't likely to tend toward disrespect toward women, but you're a potential rapist.
The enemy must be met and stopped even before they start, or horrific disaster will result.  If the truth and even desired results must suffer in this effort, so be it, its better than the alternative.  Or so they believe.
This mindset is that of the zealot, someone who combines absolute certainty of their righteousness with absolute certainty that their foes are horrifically evil and wrong.  I see it on both sides, mind you, its just that the left is in control of the culture, law, education, entertainment, politics etc, and are much more open, blatant, and accepted in their statements along these lines.  Those on the right are justly and rightly shouted down.
The reversal from, say, 1950, is astounding.  The roles are almost exactly reversed, with almost exactly the same kind of rhetoric and approaches.  
For example: free speech is dangerous and needs to be limited to shut up people thinking the wrong things.  In 1950 it was communism that had to be suppressed.  In 2015, its conservatism.
The same nose-lifted moralistic extremism is there: in 1950 the girl who got pregnant was ostricized and her life ruined.  In 2015 the guy who says he doesn't want to attend a homosexual wedding is.  The details are reversed in perspective, but the attitudes, behavior, and rhetoric is not.
And its all based on the same kind of approach: loveless, humorless, inflexible certainty of one's position so much so that those who disagree are the depths of evil.
And both had their points: communism is an evil that has to be fought.  Racism is an evil that must be fought.  Bigotry and hate is bad, regardless who its directed against - Christians or homosexuals.  But the desire to crush liberty to protect one's ideas and prevent one's opponents from having even a chance at a voice is evil as well.
In the end, the right went too far in the 1950s presuming everyone agreed and trying to totally crush everyone who opposed it.  Will it happen to the left?  Usually in a free society the pendulum swings hard one way or the other... but it always swings back toward the center.  Its only in a tyranny that power and fear jam the pendulum one direction or the other.
As long as America can cling to its legacy of liberty we have a chance to reverse the extremes of the left, as the extremes of the right were.  And the more extreme, damaging, and hateful that swing is, the harder it tends to swing the opposite direction when the time comes.  And that's something that the zealot never seems to quite grasp.
See, to Trevor Phillips, the idea of restricting freedom (of speech) would lead to freedom (of association).  He believed that imposing tyranny would mean a better, freer society.  And he thinks they succeeded to the point where he states that he beleives England is now the most comfortable, safest place for non-whites to visit and live in.  I would argue he's absurdly in error, but look at his perspective: England, a nation of white people is now best for non-whites.  That's the result of his policies and efforts.  Imagine that swinging the other direction, Mr Phillips.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

SOME WATN STATS

Just a quick update. In my dashboard for blogger, I noticed some stats: 
1065656 pageviews
I guess I shouldn't feel too bad even if at least half those views are drive bys and search engine hits.  One million page views is quite a few even if I've been at this nearly 10 years. I have written just over 8000 posts on my blog as well, which is quite a few more than I'd thought. I guess it piles up.
In any case, thanks for dropping by and while I'm not posting as much as I used to, I'm trying to focus on quality and things I'm especially interested in.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR ALL

"Is not the fanaticism of your irreligion more absurd and dangerous than the fanaticism of superstition? Begin by tolerating the faith of your fathers. You talk of nothing but tolerance, and never was a sect more intolerant."
-Voltaire"

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed recently in Indiana (and previous in 19 other states) was the center of considerable controversy and I've posted a lot on it recently.  This is a subject dear to my heart because of the arc of current popular culture and long history, so I have many thoughts on the subject.
It is the pattern of culture to have a single dominant cultural religion which has no room for or patience with competition.  At present that's secular humanist relativism which is fighting to control and diminish Christianity and to a lesser extent Judaism.  And sometimes - often, even in history - this trend goes from dominance to outright persecution and cruelty.
So I'm a bit defensive about how Christians are treated in the United States, as are many on the right.  However, the RFRA isn't just about Christianity.  Originally, years ago, the Supreme Court under Justice Brennan decided that the government was not able to compel people to violate their consciences or end religious practices simply because it didn't like them.
The ACLU was very supportive of this concept.  In their argument for religious freedoms, they put out an official statement reading:
Religious freedom … encompasses not only the right to believe (or not to believe), but also the right to express and to manifest religious beliefs. These rights are fundamental and should not be subject to political process and majority votes.
And they were right: religious freedoms are not subject to a popularity contest, properly, in the United States.  Just because something is unpopular does not make it wrong.  But here's the catch: it was in the context of certain Southwestern native American tribes using peyote in religious ceremonies.  The US Federal Government had a law calling this illegal, and the tribes argued for religious freedom.  They won the supreme court case.
Later, the Supreme Court changed this ruling slightly, and said that groups could not simply ignore federal law because they claimed religious liberty.  Eugene Volokh wrote more about this recently in the Washington Post, if you want more of the history and how things shifted.  But still the left was on the side of religious liberty.
It was only very recently that suddenly these laws became evil because it was a useful political lever to stir up outrage and fear in voters and because its useful to silence critics and control the competing religion.
However, its not only the left that is hypocritical and inconsistent about religious liberty.  Today on my facebook feed pops up this story:
Judge Eliana Marengo was hearing the case of one Rania El-Allou, who was trying to get her car back after it was impounded when her son was arrested for driving illegally without a license.

“There are no religious symbols in this room, not on the walls and not on the persons,” Judge Marengo said, while asking El-Allou to remove her headscarf.

However, according to Conservative Post, El-Allou refused to remove her hijab, citing her Islamic religion.

“The same rules need to be applied to everyone. I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding,” judge Marengo added.
And the "Tea Party" group that this story was posted on was supportive of the judge.  The comments after were even more supportive, because she was a Muslim, I guess.
But this is wrong.  Religious liberties do not only apply to Christians.  If the 1st amendment protects religious liberty, it does so for every religion, even the ones we don't like.  This is what Hillary Clinton was getting at - in error, as an attack - when she queried if those in support of vouchers for schooling would be fine if they were used for a Satanist school to raise kids.  My response was "too bad for that kid, but that's what freedom means."
Just because I don't like or disagree with something doesn't mean it loses its freedom.  That's what tolerance and religious pluralism means.  You cannot pick and choose what religious group gets its civil rights, they all do.
Yes there are limits; the courts and federal government have over the years had no problem finding that very thin line with caution.  You can't suddenly invent a religion that robs banks and argue religious liberty.  "clear and compelling governmental interests 'of the highest order'" is how they usually define the criteria: it has to be something very significant and important, but the standard exists.  Generally its around the idea of other people's free expression of their rights being infringed upon.
In the case of this Muslim woman, wearing the hijab is part of her religious faith.  It would violate her conscience and her religious liberty to compel her to take it off (and humiliate her in public, no less).  Wearing the scarf is not disrespectful to the court or the judge, it is not disruptive, and it is no different than wearing a cross pin or pendant.  But this judge acted as if none of those would be allowed.
It was shameful and wrong, and a violation of the 1st amendment, to tell this woman to remove her scarf.  This judge should lose his job for this, he ought to know better.  And just because she's a Muslim doesn't somehow make it okay to violate someone's religious liberty.
Freedom means living with things we don't like or find uncomfortable.  This is true for everyone.

Monday, April 06, 2015

TRUTH IN SIN CITY

There's a scene in Sin City that's very powerful and very true.  Its about truth, lies, and power, and what matters in a world where there's no integrity or honor left.  A world that does not cling to absolute truth or objective reality.
Senator Roark pulls out a gun on the helpless cop Hartigan in his hospital bed:



Power don't come from a badge, or a gun.  Power comes from lying, lying big and getting the whole damn world to play along with you.  Once you got everybody agreeing with what they know in their hearts ain't true, you get them by the balls.
There's what, maybe 500 people in this hospital?  I could pump you full of bullets right now and I wouldn't be arrested Everyone would lie for me, everyone who counts.  Otherwise all their own lies, everything that runs Sin City, it all comes tumbling down like a pack of cards.
If all you care about is power, and you believe not just truth but reality its self is just subject to whoever has the most power to make it however they wish... this is how you approach life.  This is your template for dealing with other people.  
This is how you get Apple and Yelp and late night comedians, and all the rest to go along with you.  Because you got them by the snardlies and they'll back your lies.