Monday, November 30, 2009

News you can use...

Can you hear the bubble popping? (Get ready for another big dive…)

You know Van Jones, the former “Green Jobs Czar” who quit? Um, that whole quitting thing? Yeah, not so much

The red, er, "green jobs czar"...

How many more are going to Afghanistan? The word is 30,000-35,000. (John Batchelor tells me a full one-third will be “trainers” or non-combat support troops.)

A war tax? Really? Isn’t that something our tax money is supposed to pay for, already?

More on the way to Afghanistan? It looks like it...

Will this be Mike Huckabee’s “Willie Horton?”

Iran seizes Brit yachtsmen. Will this result in, a.) a British special forces operation to free the hostages; b.) additional sanctions on Tehran; c.) a terse complaint – in writing – from the America’s Cup Competition Committee; or, d.) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad enjoying next Sunday afternoon on the new “Presidential Yacht?”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: air quote or devil horns?

Here’s some more great foreign policy news: “The United States is about to lose a key arms-control tool from the closing days of the Cold War -- the right to station American observers in Russia to count the long-range missiles leaving its assembly line.” (h/t: Meanwhile, those pesky Rooskies are going to start building weapons in nearby (friendly!) Venezuela…aka: the House of Hugo.

He can see Russians from his house...

You know, if you’re going to campaign for a greener/cleaner Earth is taking private jets everywhere the best way to make a statement?
Some not-so-smart moves by some supposedly “smart” people…

That sound you hear is John Harvard spinning in his grave (or sitting down really hard on his chair)...

Finally, The latest on the gatecrashers

Samantha Appleton/The White House
In a photo released by the White House, President Obama greeted Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, at his first state dinner on Tuesday. (h/t: NYT)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The White House party crashers were on someone's list...

The saga of the White House party crashing couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who met President Barack Obama in a receiving line at last week's state dinner continues…to grow.

Yesterday, Canada Free Press, shed light on the wannabe reality TV stars and the fact that this wasn’t the first time they’d met Mr. Obama. From the news site: “...[below] here’s Obama, the senator flashing his pearly whites with Randy Jackson, better known as a judge on American Idol. Others pictured are Black Eyed Peas Rock Band; Tareq Salahi the President of the America’s Polo Cup; President Elect Obama, Fergie from Black eyed Peas and Michaele Salahi, posing this time as a former Miss USA and Supermodel. Interesting little detail for White House [Secret Service] gumshoes: As the photo was published in June 2005, Barack Obama was still Senator Obama and not the President Elect.”

The gate crashers and the prez-to-be...four years ago...

The story gets a bit more interesting, doesn’t it?

But as they say on those late night TV infomercials: “THAT’S NOT ALL!”

In fact, this is just sort of the beginning.

You see, Mr. Salahi and Mr. Obama are tied in another way.

The common link between the two partiers is Rashid Khalidi, a pro-Palestinian Columbia University professor, an apologist for terrorism and a well-known member of the anti-Israel lobby here in the U.S. (And before the spin cycle kicks in – particularly from the White House – you should know that Professor Khalidi has been closely associated with Obama.)

Mr. Salahi is connected to Khalidi through his service on the board of the American Task Force for Palestine, where Khalidi served as vice president. (Since news of the Salahis’ gate crashing, both men’s names have been scrubbed from the ATFP’s website. Salahi's bio, however, still appears on a Google cache search of the site.) h/t: WND

Rashid Khalidi...

A little background on the ATFP and Khalidi:

·ATFP lobbies for a Palestinian state.

·Its demands include a “right of return for Palestinian refugees,” which would flood Israel with a tidal wave of Palestinians who would effectively destroy the Jewish state “by population.”

·Khalidi is an outspoken critic of Israel.

·He is the former Director of the PLO’s press agency and onetime moderator of the PLO Advisory Committee.

·Khalidi made numerous statements supportive of Palestinian terror and he reportedly worked on behalf of the PLO while it was involved in anti-Western terrorism (during which time it was labeled by the State Department as a terror group).

·Obama reportedly became friends with Khalidi when the two worked together at the University of Chicago (records show Khalidi lectured at the university 2003, while Obama taught law there from 1993 to 2004). Khalidi also worked as one of Obama’s top fundraisers during Obama’s unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2000.

According to WND, “Obama also sat on the board of the Woods Fund, which in 2001 provided a $40,000 grant to Mona Khalidi's Arab American Action Network, or AAAN. The fund provided a second grant to the AAAN for $35,000 in 2002. Speakers at AAAN dinners and events routinely have taken an anti-Israel line. The group co-sponsored a Palestinian art exhibit titled "The Subject of Palestine" that featured works related to what some Palestinians call the ‘Nakba,’ or ‘catastrophe’ of Israel's founding in 1948. In 2003, Obama delivered an in-person testimonial for Khalidi, who at the time was departing the University of Chicago for a new teaching position at Columbia University in New York. At the 2003 event, poetry reportedly was read comparing Israelis to Osama bin Laden and accusing the Jewish state of terrorism.”

A photo purporting to show the Obamas and the Khalidis at a fundraising dinner. Were the men kibitzing about kibbutzim?

But back to “Crashgate”…

For the time being, the Secret Service is falling on its sword and taking the blame for the Salahis’ sashaying along the red carpet. The couple's attorney has declined to comment, though “an American TV executive says the couple that crashed President Obama's first state dinner is now offering to talk to broadcast networks about it - providing they're well paid” something in the neighborhood of $500 thousand. In an e-mail to Bloomberg News, [their attorney] added, "My clients were cleared by the White House to be there."

And why wouldn’t they be? After all, they've got friends...

Samantha Appleton/The White House
In a photo released by the White House, President Obama greeted Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, at his first state dinner on Tuesday. (h/t: NYT)

New photo of White House "crashers" made public

A second photo of the husband and wife team who gained access to the White House was made public today. White House officials have not commented on the couple who sources say made a "grand entrance...under questionable circumstances."

(photo h/t: Bossip)
In a photo I'm just now making public, the couple who "crashed" the White House are shown making their way down the red carpet...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turn Up The Radio!

This Sunday night, in an attempt to wake you from an remnants of a turkey-induced coma, we'll be bringing you another edition of The John Batchelor Show. From 8 – 8:30 p.m. PST, my fellow roundtable members and I will discuss the events and news of the week. You can listen to the show at KSFO-AM 560 San Francisco/Northern California, , WABC-AM 77 NY, WMAL-AM 630 Washington, D.C., and on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio (throughout the known & unknown universe). If you’re not in one of the listening areas, you can tune-in via any of those stations’ websites. See you on the radio!

Friday, November 27, 2009


With the economy in shambles, Afghanistan hotter than ever, Stimulus package job numbers inflated, Iran still futzing around with nukes, the health insurance reform bill still tugging at America’s soul, and Michael Bloomberg spending $102 million to be mayor of New York City, it’s no wonder everything feels like it’s out-of-sync and crashing down.

What surprises me isn’t that the White House party crashers met the president, it’s that they didn’t have to pay to do it, or that they aren’t from the SEIU’s leadership. (Video, via John Batchelor, here.)

Samantha Appleton/The White House
In a photo released by the White House, President Obama greeted Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, at his first state dinner on Tuesday. (h/t: NYT)

Crashing the Barricades? – Can you believe people actually lined-up overnight (or in some cases, earlier) to be among the first during early Black Friday hours…for the privilege of buying merchandise?

"When Black Friday comes..."

Dubai, a promise built on a foundation made of sand, began crashing down this week. Why is everyone so shocked?

"Enter Sandman..."

After Big Government detailed a story of investigators crashing San Diego’s ACORN dumpster and dredged-up damning documents, why wouldn’t California’s Attorney General address the matter in a straight-forward manner?

The Portrait of Dorian Brown...

Other notable recent crashes:

It’s really no wonder traditional, mainstream media/journalism is crashing … big-time. (They just don’t get it.) They really don’t.

Apparently, Joe Biden is rather prescient. Way back in 2008, he predicted this crash.

It appears the U.S. dollar is crashing…even lower. This time against the Yen.

It’s not the crash some feared but it’s not a heartwarming tale of immediate recovery that was hoped for, either: “The Federal Reserve has delivered a rather bleak forecast for the U.S. economy, not just in the short-term, but in the medium-term as well. The Fed is predicting that the unemployment rate will be in just below 10 percent at this time next year and in the 6.8 to 7.5 percent range at the end of 2012. In other words, while we may not see a jobless recovery, the Fed thinks we'll experience a slow motion one.” (h/t: Power Line)

Finally, I think Tiger Woods got it wrong today. It’s not “Drive for show and putt for crash.”

A case of bad driving?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving thanks...from the man who gave us Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was not formally made a federal holiday until 1941. However, it has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November annually since President Abraham Lincoln delivered the address below in 1863.

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. (h/t: Heritage Foundation)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May God protect those who protect us and keep our nation free.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How now?

Last week, one of the biggest science stories broke and few media outlets gave it much attention. Likewise, one of the biggest political and economic stories broke – which also brought little attention.

That story was the worldwide exposure of thousands of emails and other documents “after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) and released 61 megabytes of confidential files onto the Internet. (h/t: Watts Up With That).”
In short, the emails seem to show that climate scientists engaged in “Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.”

This leads to a lot of questions. A lot of questions starting with “how”…such as -

How did the mainstream media report Climategate?

How did the national paper of record report on the scandal?

The Grey Lady tried to ignore it...

How did the hackers, programmers and other cyber-cognoscenti pick apart the “stuff?”

How did the climate researchers, scientists and computer programmers miss this? – “The emails seem to describe a model which frequently breaks, and being constantly "tweaked" with manual interventions of dubious quality in order to make them fit the historical data. These stories suggest that the model, and the past manual interventions, are so poorly documented that CRU cannot now replicate its own past findings. That is a big problem. The IPCC report, which is the most widely relied upon in policy circles, uses this model to estimate the costs of global warming. If those costs are unreliable, then any cost-benefit analysis is totally worthless.” (h/t: Megan McArdle/”ASYMMETRICAL INFORMATION”)

How did this escape everyone’s attention? – “A BBC correspondent admitted he was sent the leaked emails more than a month before they were made public. Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate change expert, claims the documents allegedly sent between some of the world's leading scientists are of a direct result of an article he wrote. In his BBC blog two days ago, Hudson said: 'I was forwarded the chain of emails on the 12th October, which are comments from some of the world's leading climate scientists written as a direct result of my article "Whatever Happened To Global Warming".' That essay, written last month, argued that for the last 11 years there had not been an increase in global temperatures.”
The truth will out...
How “the Social Validation of Knowledge” shapes our views on one of the most important issues of our time. – “Unfortunately the debate over Climategate among laypeople is likely to be heavily influenced by political ignorance and irrationality, especially the tendency to overvalue any information that confirms one’s preexisting views and downplay or ignore anything that cuts the other way. Thus, global warming supporters are likely to claim that Climategate proves nothing at all, while skeptics will trumpet it as justification for rejecting mainstream climate research altogether. Both temptations should be resisted, though I’m not optimistic they will be.” (h/t: The Volokh Conspiracy)
How can getting all the facts out there - "good" or "bad" be wrong?

Missing and presumed...bedridden.

Welcome to my world this week. My apologies for the lack of bloggage...

I don't know if there's a swine involved with this flu, but it's nasty, nasty, nasty. (And just in time for the holidays!)

I hope to get back to my regular schedule tonight...that's if the meds don't kick in too early (crossing fingers they do).

Be well!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just... follow the money

Deep Throat: Follow the money.

Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?

Deep Throat: Oh, I can't tell you that.

Bob Woodward: But you could tell me that.

Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.

(“All the President’s Men,” an Alan J. Pakula film, 1978)

He told us how to find the truth...

If you are one of the millions who faithfully await “delivery” of this blog each day, then you already know I’ve expressed skepticism about global warming and, even more so, its proponents.

Chief among those I’ve skewered has been former Vice President/Nobel Laureate Al Gore. As previously noted at The Bliss Index, “The New York Times ran a story on how Al Gore is "poised to become the world’s first 'carbon billionaire,' profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in."

The money man explains it all (and absolves you of your carbon a price).

And that’s my chief reason for being so skeptical about the global warming – now renamed, “Climate Change” – movement. It’s all about the money.

Let me give you some examples:

  • From a personal standpoint, I witnessed the connection between concerns over the environment and the desire to cash-in on those worries via government mandate. Several years ago, I took part in a Silicon Valley summit comprised of representatives from key companies and industries throughout the region. The first part of the conference dealt with various environmental issues. The second (more important) part featured the presence of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. During his time there, he told the executives he remained committed to protecting California’s environment. At that point, the business leaders began asking him how he could help them – “…and California businesses” – by pushing through legislation that would mandate the citizenry use their “green” products and services. It wasn’t about getting good science or finding out what would be best for the environment, it was about using the force of law to extract as much money as possible from the public.
  • The idea of “carbon trading was created for one reason only (and it's in the name): making money. Back during the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic church earned the ire of folks like Martin Luther for selling indulgences (essentially, profiting from “clearance sales”…i.e.: profiting off the act of absolving sins). Following a time-tested method, the Climate Change profiteers have been scaring the hell out of people by scaring the fear of hell/warming into them. And as a way of making money off these fears and alleviating guilt, they have sold The New Absolution: carbon credits. Official “exchanges” have been established to handle carbon credits. They are not unlike other institutions like the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ…well, except for the fact that unlike those established financial trading floors, the carbon exchanges don’t actually trade anything real.
  • International climate accords – as well as the United States’ own “Low Carbon Economy Act” (LCEA) and “Cap and Trade” plan – have significant portions devoted to the redistribution of wealth (and have nothing to do with climate change, global warming or weather). Earlier this year, “one of Gore's leading scientific resources, Goddard Institute for Space Studies chief James Hansen, sent a letter to Barack and Michelle Obama specifically urging the president-elect to enact a tax on carbon emissions that would take money from higher-income Americans and distribute the proceeds to the less fortunate.” (h/t: Newsbusters) Here is a video of Hansen “advocating a green distribution of wealth scheme.” Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center in a recent issue of his DeWeese Report observes, “It is a political movement led by those who seek to control the world economies, dictate development, and redistribute the world's wealth." (h/t: America’s Future).
  • The United Nations is involved. (Need I say more?) In March of this year, it was discovered that a “United Nations document on ‘climate change’ that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave…envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

The UN has their eyes on your prize(s)...

Now the latest wave of evidence against the “Warmers” has hit. As the New York Times reported today, Hundreds of private e-mail messages and documents hacked from a computer server at a British university are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who say they show that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change. The e-mail messages, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, include discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views. Drafts of scientific papers and a photo collage that portrays climate skeptics on an ice floe were also among the hacked data, some of which dates back 13 years.

As noted skeptic James Delingpole writes in The Telegraph UK: “[Is] Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'? When you read some of those files – including 1,079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be ‘the greatest in modern science.’ These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest: Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.”

The most damning of the hacked e-mails...

Notably, the emails also allegedly show that significant sums of money – millions and millions of dollars – bought the “findings/evidence/findings/consensus/opinions” of numerous “experts.”


"Just... follow the money..."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Them that has...

Wonder why the entertainment industry loves the Dems so much? Might it be, that “Hollywood — the geographic Hollywood as found on Thomas Guide map page 593 — has received $23,338,327 in grants, loans and contracting. This money has created just 20.57 jobs. That’s $1,134,580.80 per job. And as interviews with recipients reveal, even that tiny jobs claim is clearly false, with many of the claims of newly created positions either impossible to verify or lower than reported. Not even 20 full-time jobs have been created in Hollywood proper.”

Recent weeks have not been good to those who bitterly cling to the notion that governments can manage economic initiatives. Three of them — one in real estate, a larger one in manufacturing, and a colossal enterprise supposedly intended to revive a downward-spiraling economy — have all either failed miserably or foundered badly.

It’s about time!: The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee is less than amused with reports of “phantom” Congressional districts receiving Stimulus funds and will hold hearings on the matter. In the meantime this has inspired a New Hampshire man to run for the non-existent Congressional seat in New Hampshire’s phantom #00 district.

All of this fake spending on fake districts isn’t helping the majority party. “Data from Rasmussen Reports national telephone surveys shows that 15.0% of Democrats in the workforce are currently unemployed and looking for a job. Among adults not affiliated with either major party, that number is 15.6% while just 9.9% of Republicans are in the same situation. “

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Would You Buy a Used Car(bon Credit) from this Man?

Taking some from many...

Recently, an arch-conservative publication, The New York Times, ran a story on how Al Gore is "poised to become the world’s first 'carbon billionaire,' profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in."

The bottom line is that his M.O. is to alternately scare the bejeesus out of people on one pass, and then return to money off regulations and such…how’s that Global Warming working out for you now?

For the record, I’m big on the environment. I think we’ve got a holy mandate to be good stewards of the Earth and all its creatures…people who throw litter out their car windows really tick me off…and I think it’s great if you want to ride your bike to work/the store/the orthopedist. And here’s a little secret: I’ve got a certificate from the president that says I’m really good at taking care of the ecosystem. I’m big on swimming, diving and surfing (all in the ocean), so I feel like I have a stake in making sure our water – fresh and salt – is clean. I think businesses can financially benefit from things like energy savings, building smart buildings, and encouraging employees to telecommute. In addition, composting makes for a better garden, illegally dumping toxins should be punished - mightily, and I like saving on gas with my hybrid car.

But I’m no fan of Al Gore. I think he’s a liar, a hypocrite and when it comes to science…well, let’s just say calling it “junk” is being kind.

The latest example of Al’s “dumbed-down” approach to energy came a couple nights ago as he was book-flacking on "The Tonight Show" with Conan O'Brien. For your reading pleasure, I provide the following transcript (the video is here):

O'Brien: Now, what about ... you talk in the book about geothermal energy ...

Gore: Yeah, yeah.

O'Brien: and that is, as I understand it, using the heat that's generated from the core of the Earth ...

Gore: Yeah.

O'Brien: ... to create energy, and it sounds to me like an evil plan by Lex Luthor to defeat Superman. Can you, can you tell me, is this a viable solution, geothermal energy?

Gore: It definitely is, and it's a relatively new one. People think about geothermal energy -- when they think about it at all -- in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places, but two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, 'cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees, and the crust of the earth is hot ...

According to people schooled in this sort of thing, "The geothermal gradient is usually quoted as 25-50 degrees Celsius per mile of depth in normal terrain (not, e.g., in the crater of Kilauea). Two kilometers down, therefore, (that's a mile and a quarter) you'll have an average gain of 30-60 degrees -- exploitable for things like home heating, though not hot enough to make a nice pot of tea. The temperature at the earth's core, 4,000 miles down, is usually quoted as 5,000 degrees Celsius, though these guys claim it's much less, while some contrarian geophysicists have posted claims up to 9,000 degrees. The temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 6,000 degrees Celsius, while at the center, where nuclear fusion is going on bigtime, things get up over 10 million degrees." So, in short, if the temperature anywhere inside the earth - as per Al - was "several million degrees," we'd be, um, a star. (h/t: Power Line Blog)

And some people wonder why other people question/dispute what Al Gore has to say.

P.S. I wonder what would have happened if a GOPer/skeptic had said something that dumb?

An inconvenient truth - well, at least 35 of them...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(Common) Sense and Sensibility

Tunku Varadarajan

“The two pillars of 'political correctness' are: a) willful ignorance; b) a steadfast refusal to face the truth” – George MacDonald

I am fortunate to work in a business that brings me into contact with a lot of smart people. I count myself even more fortunate to count a number of these people as colleagues and – better yet – friends.

One of these people is Tunku Varadarajan.

I first got to know Tunku when he was the editor of the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal. As I got to know him and his wonderful family, I gained a real friend and good drinking buddy; got to pal around with a helluva raconteur; and witnessed – on more than one occasion – him exhibit grace and kindness (toward others).

(Full disclosure: I was a former colleague of his at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and wrote for him in his most recent stint as the opinion editor at

I throw all this out there because I’m standing up, together with a number of his other friends/colleagues/peers who see that he is joining a long line of people in this country who have been marched to the cultural guillotine known as Political Correctness for writing what was on their minds, speaking what was on their hearts or not passing a certain litmus test.

So what was his “thought crime?”

In the wake of the Fort Hood massacre a couple weeks ago, Tunku wrote a column for Forbes that dissected the acts of violence apparently rooted in extremist/militant Muslim views. Tunku, who also teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business, has since been excoriated not just by the usual folks but also by NYU’s president as well as a rabbi at NYU's Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life.

Let me say this: Tunku’s article was not – as one protesting alumnus suggests – “hate-mongering," nor is he anything close to being a bigot. You don’t spend numerous evenings with a friend - trying to solve the world’s problems - without getting to know your drinking buddy. This man and I discussed everything from Indians (he, originally from the having Native American blood in my veins), to politics, to what makes good BBQ, to...well, let’s just say it covered the waterfront. Not once did he have a “discouraging word” for anyone because of their ethnicity, orientation, creed, gender, etc.

What’s even more maddening, as the article excerpted below points out, is that America’s universities have devolved into places where “sensitivity” has won the day over common sense.
For close to two decades, I worked in higher education – public and private – and I can tell you that while I'm surprised someone I know is now in the crosshairs of The Aggrieved, it doesn’t surprise me. There’s a reason academia is often referred to as a place of Ivory Towers...why professors and administrators are often derided by those outside of academe for having viewpoints that aren’t “real world.”

For all its wailing and gnashing of teeth about universities being havens of “academic freedom,” “tolerance” and “free expression,” the truth is a good many of these institutions of higher learning are bastions for close-mindedness, intolerance and “free speech for me, but not for thee.” I’m reminded of an experience several years ago when I had the opportunity to sit in on a session of a university’s academic senate. The “senators” were questioning a university official about a certain unit within the school – wondering why there weren’t more minorities, women, etc. What they were really incensed over, however, was that a number of the scholars within this particular unit weren’t Democrats (the fact that more than 90 percent of the rest of the large university’s faculty were Democrats didn’t seem to be up for discussion). After being repeatedly grilled for “...a lack of representation,” the leader of the unit in question asked why there weren’t more conservatives, Republicans or libertarian-leaning professors in other parts of the university. He was met with snickers, joking and sneers. (The point of all this – “diversity/sensitivity is long as it falls within my worldview.”)

I hope that NYU comes to its senses, but I’m not hopeful. If it’s one thing it seems like you can count on when it comes to the Politically Correct world of American higher education, it’s that these people who are regarded as smart probably won’t do the smart thing.


From The Best of the Web Today (Wall Street Journal online edition, Nov. 18, 2009)

The 'Diversity' Sham
At New York University, intellect gives way to ritualized emotion.


It has been 6½ years since the U.S. Supreme Court, in Grutter v. Bollinger, upheld the legality of racial discrimination in university admissions for the purpose of realizing "the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." Longstanding precedent requires the court to apply "strict scrutiny" to any claim justifying discrimination on the basis of race. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor asserted that the court's "deference" to the "expertise" of the defendant in this case was sufficiently strict to meet this test.

But there is reason to doubt whether "diversity," as practiced by American higher education today, has any educational benefits at all--never mind whether those benefits are sufficient to justify discrimination. Whatever its benefits in theory, diversity in practice is often anti-intellectual, replacing reasoned debate with ritualized expressions of phony emotion.

A kerfuffle at New York University is a case in point. Last week, as we noted, Tunku Varadarajan of wrote a column meditating on the Fort Hood massacre, which, he noted, appears to have been a religiously motivated "act of messianic violence." (Disclosure: Varadarajan is a friend and former colleague of this columnist.)

In addition to his work in journalism, Varadarajan teaches at NYU's Stern School of Business, and his column set off predictable complaints from Muslim students and alumni. One alum, Haroon Moghul, wrote an essay at in which he accused Varadarajan of "hate-mongering." He wrote that Varadarajan's column had caused him "pain" and "feelings of marginalization," and the headline and subheadline described him as "shocked" by Varadarajan's writing.

Eventually the university president, John Sexton, was compelled to respond. While he correctly noted that it would be wrong for the university "to punish faculty officially for expressing such ideas," he also issued a declaration of disapproval:

A journalist and NYU clinical faculty member has written a piece for Forbes that many Muslims find offensive. I understand how they feel--I found it offensive, too. I am teaching Muslim students now, and I have taught them in the past; the portrayal of Muslims in the Forbes piece bears no resemblance to my experience; I disagree with the Forbes piece and think it is wrong. I say all this because as president I have not foresworn the rights I have as a member of the NYU faculty to challenge an idea that I believe is erroneous.

Yesterday Rabbi Yehuda Sarna of NYU's Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life sent an "URGENT Letter" to his email list:

I am writing to urge you to join me today in "A Campaign Against Hate" celebrating diversity at NYU, commemorating the victims of the massacre at Fort Hood and responding to a recent article in Forbes Magazine entitled "Going Muslim". The event, dubbed "Harmonyu," is being spearheaded by the Islamic Center at NYU. In my opinion, the article, written by an NYU professor, does not deal sensitively enough with the role and place of Muslims in America.

How's that for diversity? NYU's Jews and Muslims are ganging up on a Hindu and accusing him of promoting "hate"--an inflammatory charge anywhere, but especially on a university campus. Yet it's clear that Rabbi Sarna knows the charge is unjustified, since his actual criticism of Varadarajan's work--it "does not deal sensitively enough"--is so tepid.

Likewise, President Sexton's claim to have been offended by Varadarajan's article has no credibility. There's no doubt he was inconvenienced by it, and we expect he's none too happy with Varadarajan for that. But his statement "I found it offensive, too" is a ritualized expression of empathy, not to be mistaken for the real thing. And if you read the entire letter, you will find that in spite of Sexton's statement that he has "not foresworn" his right "to challenge an idea that I believe is erroneous," he offers no substantive argument to rebut Varadarajan's column.

This is how "diversity" works in practice: Intellectual contention is drowned out in a sea of emotion, much of it phony. Members of designated victim groups respond to a serious argument with "pain" and "shock" and accusations of "hate," and university administrators make a show of pretending to care.

At some campuses, administrators and faculty members actually do practice censorship. NYU, at least in this instance, is not the worst offender in this respect. But this sort of emotional frenzy is nonetheless inimical to the spirit of rational inquiry that universities are supposed to encourage. Every incident of this sort makes it clearer how the University of Michigan played Justice O'Connor and her colleagues for fools.

What exactly are they teaching at NYU?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

“Fake, fake…fake, fake!”

Those four words, uttered by the great 20th century philosopher Elaine Benes, sum it up rather nicely…don’t you think?

What am I talking about? Why all the fake jobs and fake money that’s been flowing into fake Congressional districts from the fake Stimulus bill.

Jerry: "What about the breathing, the panting... the moaning, the screaming?"
Elaine: "Fake, fake...fake, fake!" shows money flowing to nonexistent Congressional districts. “ also shows 2,893.9 jobs created with $194,537,372 in stimulus funding in New Hampshire’s 00 congressional district. But, there is no such thing. The site also shows $1,471,518 going to New Hampshire’s 6th congressional district, $1,033,809 to the 4th congressional district and $124,774 to the 27th congressional district. In fact, New Hampshire only has two congressional districts; inviting confusion about where the money listed for the 00, 4th, 6th and 27th districts is going.” (h/t: Instapundit)

The "yeas" had it...

According to The Washington Times, “The government Web site that promised to show exactly where the $787 billion in stimulus spending was going to "create or save" jobs is allocating billions of tax dollars to hundreds of congressional districts that don’t exist. Researchers at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity found 440 “phantom districts” listed on, consuming $6.4 billion and creating or saving nearly 30,000 jobs. Their findings are listed HERE.

And there’s a map of the federal fakery HERE!

It's all about jobs, especially when you can double-up on them...

You know it’s bad when even the Democrats are up in arms about it. “Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, took the administration to task for pervasive errors on the Web site designed to monitor disbursement of the stimulus funds. He called those errors ‘outrageous.’ He added, ‘Credibility counts in government and stupid mistakes like this undermine it. We've got too many serious problems in this country to let that happen. Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now.’"

Give it away, give it away, give it away - now...

The White House, of course, blames it on “human error.” Of course…

Let’s do launch: A new approach to the old business of news

Let’s do launch: A new approach to the old business of news


Is it tougher to be part of a big launch or to be there when an enterprise meets its end?
That’s the question I find myself thinking about as this new “New Media” outlet bravely steps out into nothingness. I’m sure this expanded and revamped CalCoastNews — as with most untried ventures — is equal parts devil-may-care courage, overwhelming excitement, and foolishness.

In this Brave New World of communication and information, the opportunities are many. The landscape, however, already is littered with so many sun-bleached bones of start-ups and The Next Great Things that it’s become far easier to count the survivors than it has to keep tabs on those who have gone to their “reward.”

It takes some serious backbone to throw your hat into the Web-based world of news these days. Not only are there myriad other start-ups out there, but so are the “dinosaur” operations that are playing catch-up and trying to understand the Web. Many of the same machines that have ruled the news roost for so long are trying to apply the old to the new. In short, it’s working for just a few of them.

The good news is that the Web is practically designed to reward innovation, whether it comes to the way information is delivered (i.e.: new technologies) or meeting the needs of unfulfilled markets.

Those unfulfilled markets include not just untapped audiences but also “consumers” who are always looking for a better product. Because the Web is truly global in every sense, there is no better way – for now – to gather and disperse information. For those who still imagine a day when print (and in some cases, broadcasting) will emerge from this bit of hibernation they’ve been going through and find new audiences willing to dirty their hands with printer’s ink, I’ve got shares in a buggy whip company I’d like to sell you.

It’s the Web’s great democratizing of information that now allows CalCoastNews to compete on a somewhat equal footing with outlets like “the national newspaper of record” or Auntie Beeb. Of course, there’s a connection through the Web to these and other news outlets but they no longer have a chokehold. Those outlets do have a significant presence on the Web but the truth is that when a story appears on a news site like this one, it’s as real as the one that appears in the next day’s big newspapers – only it can be local and reported on in real-time.

As someone whose deep appreciation for good journalism dates back to my pre-teen years, I have to admit I feel a little nostalgic/sad every time I read about another newspaper consolidating bureaus, cutting reporters or even calling it quits. I still enjoy strolling down the driveway each day, bringing the morning edition back into the house, opening the paper up and having the world at my fingertips.

Like many other people, though, I have already read a slew of stories on my computer while I enjoyed my first cup of coffee (and these stories are not just from my hometown, but also Chicago, Johannesburg, Paris, Tierra del Fuego and anywhere in the world with people with an Internet connection who are willing to share their thoughts with the world).

It’s exciting to be part of any new adventure, particularly one that takes a new approach to an old institution – like the news.

Oh, and one more thing: if the crew responsible for CalCoastNews is a bit nervous at the start, it’s probably a good thing. Being a little anxious about launching something is smart – it makes you cross all the “t”s and dot all the “i”s. After all, it pays to remember the team who once launched a great ship declaring it “unsinkable.”

Former Central Coast resident Jeff Bliss is currently a communications consultant/media analyst who resides in the Bay Area.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bowing and scraping

News item: On his trip to Asia, U. S. President Barack Obama makes a stop in Japan where he meets with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Obama's bow sparked controversy in the U.S. and throughout Asia. (Reuters photo.)

In Japan, there are - essentially - three different kinds of bows. The kind Obama is exhibiting to the Emperor is one associated with making a deep, deep apology. Only two other kinds of bowing - a kneeling version and one where the person bowing actually gets down and touches their head to the ground - are deeper/more profound (usually also signaling submission).

The gesture our president makes is interesting on several levels:
  • First, to bow that far/at that angle, is only done as a sign of apology/regret.
  • People of equal/superior standing simply nod (which is why the Emperor is not shown bowing in return).
  • It is considered offensive to do the bow & shake combo. Men bowing are expected to keep hands at their sides, women clasped in front (as the Empress appears to be exhibiting).
Is he apologizing for something? Some of his press conference focused on his views toward the atomic bombings of WWII. Was he sending a signal? If not, then how does "the smartest man who ever moved into the White House make this kind of mistake?" According to John Batchelor, his source, Mary Kissel (in Hong Kong - editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page), said "the bow to the Japanese Emperor Akihito was bizarre and puzzled Asia." Oh, great, just what we need...

Of course, his bowing to foreign leaders is not without precedent. Below, he bows to the king of Saudi Arabia...(In that instance, it was not viewed as an apology by as a sign of him paying fealty to Saudi King Abdullah.)

Out of respect or as a sign of fealty?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


What’s with all the bowing and scraping???

First, bowing to the Saudi king (above), now the Japanese emperor. Next up, a curtsy for the queen?

I predict that these are not the 10 lamest predictions of modern times. But they’re close.

Ignoring solid science in favor of snake oil is not just lame…it can actually make you lame.

And speaking of snake oil…the most famous snake oil salesman of our lifetime was rebuked by a rather noisy crowd.

Would you buy a used carbon credit from this man?

Can you believe people are actually freaking out over the new doomsday flick, “2012?” Can you believe NASA is spending funds on a website to dispel the movie’s “myths?”

Ever wonder, “Where are those flying cars we were supposed to have…like in ‘The Jetsons?’” (Seriously? Have you never driven on a Southern California freeway? Do you really want people zipping around over your head in a car?)

Trust me. You do not want to see something like this in your neighborhood...

For a guy who has all the answers when it comes to our social, economic and political ills, it looks like he flunked geography.

"Born to Run?" Maybe. Geography whiz? Hardly...

I can’t tellIs this a.) lame; b.) illogical; or, c.) cool? (Maybe if it came with a pair of complimentary ears.)

Just because you own them, you think you should get free stuff?

King of Pop, Fans of Lameness? - According to LA’s Daily News, “The Michael Jackson memorial service cost the city of Los Angeles about $3.2 million, according to a new city report released Friday, an expense city officials justified spending because of the massive crowds they had anticipated at the July 6 event.”

Good luck with that budget deficit, Los Angeles...

Finally, if you’re going to dictate economic policy, shouldn’t you at least have a basic understanding of economics? Just askin’…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some helpful hints

Welcome to the (late) Saturday edition of The Bliss Index.

In an effort to help you make it through the rest of the weekend (if you’ve avoided another night in the drunk tank), I humbly present some helpful hints to help you make it out the other side of whatever tunnel it is you’re in…

I know you’re wondering to yourself, “What would happen if the cat got into the microwave?” Let me stop you right now and tell you – nothing good wills come of something like that. I you want to know what else you shouldn’t put into your kitchen zapper, check this out (with video clip goodness!).

"Mommy, how many minutes does it take...?"

You know all that money you took to Vegas and bet on Global Warming? You might want to re-think it.

If you’re going to try and take down a certain former governor of Alaska by picking apart her memoir, you might want to: a.)do it with fewer than 12 AP staffers; b.) find more than 6 inaccuracies/errors/etc., in a 695-word book (some of which are just differences of opinion or matters of degree); c.) actually find something more devastating than the AP did. Twelve staffers to do that? Really? (As Mark Steyn points out, “That's 1.8333333 writers for each error.”

Just because you’re evolving, don’t act like you’re getting’ smarter or sumpin’.

If you’re going to act “holier than thou,” make sure you burned all the porn, first…the porn you are in.

"The biggest mistake" of her life? Make that eight biggest mistakes...

If this guy tells you to get off his lawn, you’d better do it.

For those folks who might decide against buying health insurance, Nancy Pelosi has a special message for you. (I’d like to suggest you do the following: get yourself a shiv, make friends with the toughest guy in the cell block, and don’t pick up the soap.)

"Joey, have you ever been in a... in a Turkish prison?"

If you already have one of the worst movies – ever – to your (dis)credit, quite while you’re ahead. Don’t write another one.

Sometimes I wish he'd just stick to the music...

If you’re hungry, you can’t go wrong with one of these (and you don’t have to be drunk to enjoy it).

Like manna from heaven...