Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pants on Fire: the Whoppers of the 2010 Elections | Center for Media and Democracy

Pants on Fire: the Whoppers of the 2010 Elections | Center for Media and Democracy

Coding Horror: Vampires (Programmers) versus Werewolves (Sysadmins)

Coding Horror: Vampires (Programmers) versus Werewolves (Sysadmins)

Sarah Palin: America's Full-Time Professional Duelist, by Tina Dupuy


The template for the perpetual Sarah Palin feud was set last Valentine’s Day. The animated series Family Guy aired an episode in which a character with Down Syndrome said her mother was the former Governor of Alaska. From her platform as a paid Fox News contributor, Palin pounced on the moment to condemn Seth McFarland. “Cruel and cold-hearted people who would do such a thing,” she said on Bill O’Reilly’s The Factor. She also used the occasion to demand then-Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel step down for using the word “retard.” When asked, Palin said Rush Limbaugh – who constantly uses the r-word – is “using satire.”

Following Palin’s determination of what satire is, the actress Andrea Fay Friedman who played the character with Down Syndrome – who also fittingly has Down Syndrome – made a statement to the press: “I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor…My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”

So the mold of Sarah Palin’s taking to the airwaves to blast someone using incorrect facts solidified. If she had just done a little Google research, when asked about the episode she could have graciously said, “I would be proud for such an accomplished actress like Miss Friedman to be my daughter.” Instead Palin appeared volatile, insulting and ignorant.

During the same appearance in which she slammed McFarland, Palin also pronounced to O’Reilly, “Let’s not call each other names because it invalidates what our arguments are all about.”

Uh huh.

This is the same woman who refers to her critics as “jerks.” Palin called CBS-affiliates “corrupt bastards” in the same week she called reporters “impotent and limp and gutless.” She called the McCain campaign’s Steve Schmidt a liar and in her book said he was “rotund.” She called journalist Joe McGinnis a “pervert” and implied he was a peeping tom. She labeled feminists as a “cackle of rads.” She blasted Alaska bloggers as “bored, anonymous and pathetic.” She deemed David Letterman “sexually perverted” after accusing him of making a rape joke about her then 14-year-old daughter. And don’t forget when she accused her opponent/enemy of “palling around with terrorists” and still refers to him as “Barack Hussein.”

How’s that not name-y because it invalidates your argument thingy working out for ya?

In fact, Palin is now our nation’s only full-time professional duelist. She fights with everyone. Her entire post-quitting career is centered on flame wars, most of which she starts. They are often petty, sanctimonious, trumped-up jabs which do nothing but make the media talk about her more. And she’s monetized the drama. She’s gone pro. Yes, she’s found the formula Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian pioneered: shameless and shallow sells. I’m inexplicably addicted to the show Jerseylicious, and if it weren’t for conflict it would just be a bunch of frosted-lipped spandex-clad women cutting hair. Instead it’s World War III in a rhinestone-studded turnpike-adjacent strip mall. That’s what makes it a show.

The media loves conflict. It’s easy to cover verbal battles. And so we do.

Palin has dueled with McCain staffer Nicolle Wallace; father of her granddaughter Levi Johnston; Ashley Judd; Karl Rove; Politico; Alaska teacher Kathleen Gustafson; Arnold Schwarzenegger; columnists Maureen Down, Peggy Noonan and Kathleen Parker; Reality TV mom Kate Gosselin; Ben Bernanke; Katie Couric; Senator Lisa Murkowski; Congressman Spencer Bachus; Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Gawker; and, Barbara Bush — just to name a few.
The common denominator in all these feuds? Sarah Palin.

Besides viciously accusing men with whom she disagrees as somehow being sex perverts, while at the same time granting a pass for indiscretions to men with whom she agrees (Limbaugh), Palin’s main accusation is that people are lying. They are “making stuff up.” Yes, according to the trumpeter of the “death panel” canard, everyone else is a liar. It’s just a coincidence everyone Palin encounters isn’t truthful. Poor, Barracuda.

Palin has gotten a couple of number-one hits with the same old song. That’s why it’s all starting to sound alike.

I’ve watched enough nature shows to know that if a real Mama Grizzly fought this much of the time – we’d have to assume the beast was rabid.

A tally of the Sarah Palin feuds can be found here.

Sarah Palin’s Enemies List


Buyers Flock To Ridiculously Small Homes During Downturn (PHOTOS)

Buyers Flock To Ridiculously Small Homes During Downturn (PHOTOS)

Opinion: Joe Scarborough tells GOP to man up and attack Sarah Palin

Opinion: Joe Scarborough tells GOP to man up and attack Sarah Palin



The USA PATRIOT Act broadly expands law enforcement's surveillance and investigative powers and represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties, privacy and democratic traditions in U.S. history.

What is PATRIOT?
The USA PATRIOT Act (officially the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) was quickly developed as anti-terrorism legislation in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The large and complex law received little Congressional oversight and debate, and was signed into law by President Bush Oct. 26, 2001.

PATRIOT gives sweeping search and surveillance to domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies and eliminates checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused. PATRIOT and follow-up legislation now in development threaten the basic rights of millions of Americans.

What should I do?
Use our Action Center and tell Congress to protect Americans' privacy and free speech rights.

Learn More: http://goo.gl/1AHIP

Presidential Popularity Over Time

Presidential Popularity Over Time

The Mudflats | America by Heart – Chapter 3, America the Exceptional

The Mudflats | America by Heart – Chapter 3, America the Exceptional

Monday, November 29, 2010

Palin on WikiLeaks 'fiasco'

The quotes and questions….errr…..ummmm…not sure where to start with how dimwitted her remarks were, so many in such a small article.

“Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book ‘America by Heart’ from being leaked,” she wrote, “but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?” “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?” “What explains this strange lack of urgency on their part?” – said Moose


Palin on WikiLeaks 'fiasco'


Sarah Palin says the U.S. government’s inability to stop the latest WikiLeaks release is all President Barack Obama’s fault.

Sunday’s document dump of classified State Department cables is the result of the “Obama administration’s incompetent handling of this whole fiasco,” Palin wrote in a Monday afternoon Facebook post, and could have been precluded with more aggressive action by administration officials to protect private documents.

Palin suggests the administration raise the ante against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Calling Assange “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” Palin asks, “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?” 

The Obama administration on Monday ordered federal agencies to take steps to prevent future leaks, but Palin wants to know why that move didn’t happen earlier. “It’s of course important that we do all we can to prevent similar massive document leaks in the future … why did the White House not publish these orders after the first leak back in July?” Palin wrote. “What explains this strange lack of urgency on their part?”

The former Alaska governor also wonders what else the White House could have done.

“What if any diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt WikiLeaks’ technical infrastructure? Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle WikiLeaks? Were individuals working for WikiLeaks on these document leaks investigated? Shouldn’t they at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?”

Earlier Monday, Palin suggested via Twitter the administration could have taken to the courts to put the breaks on Sunday’s document dump.

“Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book ‘America by Heart’ from being leaked," she wrote, "but US Govt can't stop Wikileaks' treasonous act?”

* the book had already been leaked. She went after "fair use" and "Copyright infringement" - just one web site !

Research notes: " deficits don't matter " - Dick Cheney

Research notes: " deficits don't matter " - Dick Cheney

....press releases denouncing the Vice President for supporting tax cuts that contributed to short-term deficits but also helped the economy grow until the deficits shrank nearly away. Yet somehow none of those same voices are objecting now that the government is spending its way into deficits that are so large they dwarf any during peacetime in U.S. history. http://goo.gl/GK3qG

..former Vice President Cheney used to say deficits don't ... administration is doing to address some of those concerns. http://goo.gl/eg7lu

CBO site provides time line historic budget charts and reports.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government. It is a government agency that provides economic data to Congress.


Publication by subject area

Taken from random notes: ignore org. authors opinion, figures are right or within a small margin of error +/- use CBO to validate if needed.

The first signs of impending trouble are the exploding budget deficits themselves. They began, of course, under the parlous economic stewardship of Ronald Reagan. Reagan cut the marginal tax rate on the wealthiest of Americans from 70% to 38%. He promised it would spur an orgy of investment and rocket the economy to new levels of production and prosperity. Instead, his supply side economics did the exact opposite. It produced the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

Output fell 2.2% in 1982 while budget deficits soared. When Reagan took office in 1981, the national debt stood at $995 billion. Twelve years later, by the end of George H.W. Bush's presidency, it had exploded to $4 trillion.

Bill Clinton reversed Reagan's course, raising taxes on the wealthy, and lowering them for the working and middle classes. This produced the longest sustained economic expansion in American history. Importantly, it also produced budgetary surpluses allowing the government to begin paying down the crippling debt begun under Reagan. In 2000, Clinton's last year, the surplus amounted to $236 billion. The forecast ten year surplus stood at $5.6 trillion. It was the last black ink America would see for decades, perhaps forever.

George W. Bush immediately reversed Clinton's policy in order to revive Reagan's, once again showering an embarrassment of riches on the already most embarrassingly rich, his base as he calls them. He ladled out some $630 billion in tax cuts to the top 1% of income earners.

Search string: George Bush $4 trillion

Search string: 1981 national debt $995 billion

Search string: Clinton surplus $236 billion

Search string: Congressional Budget Office Historical Budget

Search string: deficits don't matter Dick Cheney

Search string: Deficit spending doesn't matter if controlled

Forecast ten year surplus $5.6 trillion

Q: During the Clinton administration was the federal budget balanced? Was the federal deficit erased?

A: Yes to both questions, whether you count Social Security or not.

Full answer here: http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/during_the_clinton_administration_was_the_federal.html


Congressional Budget Office, "Historical Budget Data,"


Historical budget statistics


Heritage Foundation's "Budget Chart Book"

a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.


Congress.org is a nonpartisan news and information Web site devoted to encouraging civic participation.


Office of Management and Budget


Interesting article:



Research notes: Conspiracy theory

Conspiracy theory - Definition

A conspiracy theory is a theory that defies common historical or current understanding of events, under the claim that those events are the result of manipulations by two or more individuals or various secretive powers or conspiracies.
Colloquially, a conspiracy theory is any unconventional theory about current or historical events, with the connotation that that theory is unfounded, outlandish, or irrational or in some way unworthy of serious consideration. In this sense, the term is sometimes used to refer to events with which no association to an actual "conspiracy" in the legal sense (two or more persons plotting and one overt act related to the plot) is claimed. In this sense "conspiracy theory" is often simply an allegation of clandestine action, based on little or no solid evidence. Thus the expression "conspiracy theory" in common speech is often used as a term of derision for an allegation that the speaker considers unproven, unlikely, or false.
Conspiracy theories in general allege that some particular event — such as an assassination, a revolution, or even the failure of a product — resulted not solely from the visible action of overt political or market forces, but rather from intentional covert action.

1 Conspiracy in a legal and historic sense
10 External links

Theoretical Physics, Fringe Science, Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

Theoretical Physics, Fringe Science, Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

The list of conspiracy theories is a collection of the most popular theories related but not limited to clandestine government plans, elaborate murder plots, suppression of secret technology and knowledge, and other supposed schemes behind certain political, cultural, and historical events.

Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation, America.gov

"The 31 Wildest Conspiracy Theories". LIFE magazine - slideshow. http://www.life.com/image/first/in-gallery/33572/the-31-wildest-conspiracy-theories.

Naomi Wolf. "Analysis of the appeal of conspiracy theories with suggestions for more accurate ad hoc internet reporting of them". http://www.guatemala-times.com/opinion/syndicated/the-next-wave/483-a-conspiracy-so-immense.html.

Top 10 Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories: by Alexander Zaitchik--Southern Poverty Leadership Conference--Alternet August 15, 2010 - http://goo.gl/NDTXP

Timeline of Theoretical Physics

MIT Center for Theoretical Physics

Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics (EJTP)

How to Become a Theoretical Physicist by a Nobel Laureate

 A fringe theory is an idea or a collection of ideas that departs significantly from the prevailing or mainstream view in its particular field of study. Examples include conspiracy theories, ideas which purport to be scientific theories but have little or no scientific support, unproven alternative claims about medicine, pseudo-history and so forth. Some fringe theories may in a stricter sense be hypotheses, conjectures, or speculations.
Fringe science, also called questionable science, is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the "fringes" of a credible mainstream academic discipline. Mainstream scientists typically regard fringe concepts as highly speculative or even strongly refuted. On the other hand, the history of science contains many instances of the eventual widespread acceptance of fringe sciences. This is because in theory a fringe science will still maintain scientific rigor, plausibility, and integrity, though it is usually highly disputed.
Fringe theories include any new area of scientific endeavor in the process of becoming established and some proposed theories. It can include speculative sciences. This includes physics fields and physical theories presented in accordance with known evidence, and a body of associated predictions have been made according to that theory.

Some fringe theories go on to become a widely accepted part of physics. Other fringe theories end up being disproven. Some fringe theories are a form of protoscience and others are a form of pseudoscience. The falsification of the original theory sometimes leads to reformulation of the theory.
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics in an attempt to explain natural phenomena. Its central core is mathematical physics, though other conceptual techniques are also used. The goal is to rationalize, explain and predict physical phenomena.

The advancement of science depends in general on the interplay between experimental studies and theory. In some cases, theoretical physics adheres to standards of mathematical rigor while giving little weight to experiments and observations. For example, while developing special relativity, Albert Einstein was concerned with the Lorentz transformation which left Maxwell's equations invariant, but was apparently uninterested in the Michelson-Morley experiment on Earth's drift through a luminiferous ether. On the other hand, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for explaining the photoelectric effect, previously an experimental result lacking a theoretical formulation.


Internet Storm Center Diary

Internet Storm Center Diary

Sans Handler Daily Diary


The ISC was created in 2001 following the successful detection, analysis, and widespread warning of the Li0n worm. Today, the ISC provides a free analysis and warning service to thousands of Internet users and organizations, and is actively working with Internet Service Providers to fight back against the most malicious attackers.



Participating with the Internet Storm Center

The ISC uses the DShield distributed intrusion detection system for data collection and analysis. DShield collects data about malicious activity from across the Internet. This data is cataloged and summarized and can be used to discover trends in activity, confirm widespread attacks, or assist in preparing better firewall rules.
Currently the system is tailored to process outputs of simple packet filters. As firewall systems that produce easy to parse packet filter logs are now available for most operating systems, this data can be submitted and used without much effort.
DShield is a free service sponsored by the SANS Institute for the benefit of all Internet users. Participants may sign up for DShield at http://www.dshield.org/signup.html

US-CERT: United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team

US-CERT: United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team

Part 1 of 2 - Birthers - Obama's birth certificate

Part 1 of 2 - Birthers - Obama's birth certificate


Born in the U.S.A.
The truth about Obama's birth certificate.
In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document's authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is "fake."

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.
Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.

Fukino also was quoted by several other news organizations. The Honolulu Advertiser quoted Fukino as saying the agency had been bombarded by requests, and that the registrar of statistics had even been called in at home in the middle of the night.
Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 1 2008: "This has gotten ridiculous," state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. "There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy." . . . Will this be enough to quiet the doubters? "I hope so," Fukino said. "We need to get some work done."
Fukino said she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

Since we first wrote about Obama's birth certificate on June 16, speculation on his citizenship has continued apace.
Some claim that Obama posted a fake birth certificate to his Web page. That charge leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream media earlier this week when Jerome Corsi, author of a book attacking Obama, repeated the claim in an Aug. 15 interview with Steve Doocy on Fox News.

Corsi: Well, what would be really helpful is if Senator Obama would release primary documents like his birth certificate. The campaign has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. How is anybody supposed to really piece together his life?

Doocy: What do you mean they have a "false birth certificate" on their Web site?

Corsi: The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it.

Doocy: Well, couldn't it just be a State of Hawaii-produced duplicate?

Corsi: No, it's a -- there's been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It's a fake document that's on the Web site right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce.

Corsi isn't the only skeptic claiming that the document is a forgery. Among the most frequent objections we saw on forums, blogs and e-mails are:
  • The birth certificate doesn't have a raised seal.
  • It isn't signed.
  • No creases from folding are evident in the scanned version.
  • In the zoomed-in view, there's a strange halo around the letters.
  • The certificate number is blacked out.
  • The date bleeding through from the back seems to say "2007," but the document wasn't released until 2008.
  • The document is a "certification of birth," not a "certificate of birth."
Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it's stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.

The Obama birth certificate, held by FactCheck writer Joe Miller

Alvin T. Onaka's signature stamp

The raised seal

Blowup of text

You can click on the photos to get full-size versions, which haven't been edited in any way, except that some have been rotated 90 degrees for viewing purposes.

The certificate has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport: "
your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records." The names, date and place of birth, and filing date are all evident on the scanned version, and you can see the seal above.

The document is a "certification of birth," also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents' hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health's birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

The scan released by the campaign shows halos around the black text, making it look (to some) as though the text might have been pasted on top of an image of security paper. But the document itself has no such halos, nor do the close-up photos we took of it. We conclude that the halo seen in the image produced by the campaign is a digital artifact from the scanning process.

We asked the Obama campaign about the date stamp and the blacked-out certificate number. The certificate is stamped June 2007, because that's when Hawaii officials produced it for the campaign, which requested that document and "all the records we could get our hands on" according to spokesperson Shauna Daly. The campaign didn't release its copy until 2008, after speculation began to appear on the Internet questioning Obama's citizenship. The campaign then rushed to release the document, and the rush is responsible for the blacked-out certificate number. Says Shauna: "[We] couldn't get someone on the phone in Hawaii to tell us whether the number represented some secret information, and we erred on the side of blacking it out. Since then we've found out it's pretty irrelevant for the outside world." The document we looked at did have a certificate number; it is 151 1961 - 010641.

Blowup of certificate number

Some of the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Obama are quite imaginative. One conservative blogger suggested that the campaign might have obtained a valid Hawaii birth certificate, soaked it in solvent, then reprinted it with Obama's information. Of course, this anonymous blogger didn't have access to the actual document and presents this as just one possible "scenario" without any evidence that such a thing actually happened or is even feasible.

We also note that so far none of those questioning the authenticity of the document have produced a shred of evidence that the information on it is incorrect. Instead, some speculate that somehow, maybe, he was born in another country and doesn't meet the Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural-born citizen."

We think our colleagues at PolitiFact.com, who also dug into some of these loopy theories put it pretty well: "It is possible that Obama conspired his way to the precipice of the world’s biggest job, involving a vast network of people and government agencies over decades of lies. Anything’s possible. But step back and look at the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and your sense of what’s reasonable has to take over."

In fact, the conspiracy would need to be even deeper than our colleagues realized. In late July, a researcher looking to dig up dirt on Obama instead found a birth announcement that had been published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961:

Obama's birth announcement

The announcement was posted by a pro-Hillary Clinton blogger who grudgingly concluded that Obama "likely" was born Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu.

Of course, it's distantly possible that Obama's grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday. We suggest that those who choose to go down that path should first equip themselves with a high-quality tinfoil hat. The evidence is clear: Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.

Update, August 26: We received responses to some of our questions from the Hawaii Department of Health. They couldn't tell us anything about their security paper, but they did answer another frequently-raised question: why is Obama's father's race listed as "African"? Kurt Tsue at the DOH told us that father's race and mother's race are supplied by the parents, and that "we accept what the parents self identify themselves to be." We consider it reasonable to believe that Barack Obama, Sr., would have thought of and reported himself as "African." It's certainly not the slam dunk some readers have made it out to be.

When we asked about the security borders, which look different from some other examples of Hawaii certifications of live birth, Kurt said "The borders are generated each time a certified copy is printed. A citation located on the bottom left hand corner of the certificate indicates which date the form was revised." He also confirmed that the information in the short form birth certificate is sufficient to prove citizenship for "all reasonable purposes."

by Jess Henig, with Joe Miller
United States Department of State. "Application for a U.S. Passport." Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

State of Hawaii Department of Health. "Request for Certified Copy of Birth Record." Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

Hollyfield, Amy. "Obama's Birth Certificate: Final Chapter." Politifact.com. 27 Jun. 2008.

The Associated Press. "State declares Obama birth certificate genuine" 31 Oct 2008.

Nakaso, Dan. "Obama's certificate of birth OK, state says; Health director issues voucher in response to 'ridiculous' barrage" Honolulu Advertiser 1 Nov 2008.