Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Tis the season

My bff Dave I. sent me an e-Christmas card.
Dear John,

May I be the first to wish you a happy Christmas (I'm old-fashioned; I refuse to say "Happy Holidays!"). And: I promise I won't write again before my Spring 2011 speaking tour of the USA.
Oh no, he's making another selling-books-out-of-the-trunk-of-his-car tour.
I am still down here [Florida, I think] working on "Himmler". I'm making good progress. I'll have this book available by next Christmas. The interest in it is huge.
Gift suggestions for that hard-to-please someone from Dave:
For this Christmas, we already have some new treats. Just off the presses is our reprint of "The Virus House," my history of Hitler's atomic bomb project.
But I wanted Legos! You can build anything with Legos!

From, unsurprisingly, the despicable Stormfront site. Soon as I thought of crematoria made of Legos I knew someone had done it.

Dave continues:
And we have "Uprising!", my book about the dramatic and bloody 1956 Hungarian revolt against the Jewish and Red leadership; we've had many requests for it.
"Jewish and Red leadership." Dave, Dave, Dave.

He has more books for sale, too, but who cares.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Somehow he never uses the phrase "show trial"

The 'legal editor" for that beacon of truth and justice, Pravda.ru, is all over the place in pointing out the corruption of the U.S legal system, manifested most recently in the Colorado Court of Appeals' unanimous decision against Ward Churchill. The piece is quite long, and quite insane. Here it is (yes, all of it) so you don't have to go to Pravda to read it:
Ward Churchill: The lie lives on

Make no mistake about it: America's so-called legal "system" is hopelessly and intransigently corrupt.

In fact, if this "system" were beholden to its own laws, it would undoubtedly be guilty of fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

Of course, this reality should be self-evident, considering that men like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy preside at its summit-the United States Supreme Court.

These five so-called "justices" are paradigms of legal realism-the judicial philosophy now infecting American jurisprudence. Legal realism contends that there is no such thing as law, only the whims of judges who make decisions based upon their own biases, political agendas and/or economic interests and then label them "law."
What about Wart?
Legal realism is why these despicable "justices" have demonstrated no compunction about reversing decades of racial progress, ignoring legal precedent, and making individual rights and freedoms subordinate to corporate rights and freedoms.

But if the self-serving legal "opinions" of these five men are not enough to expose the legal "system's" corruption, there is always the disingenuous adage that "nobody is above the law."

Police officers who use excessive force, commit perjury, or fabricate evidence to obtain fraudulent convictions are rarely prosecuted, and if they are, they are usually acquitted. Even in the rare case of a conviction, such officers are usually given a proverbial "slap on the wrist" as punishment.

In addition, prosecutors who have intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence, suborned perjury, utilized "junk science," exploited racism, or engaged in similar misconduct to obtain guilty verdicts are frequently rewarded with judgeships or lucrative private law practices, and, in some cases, have even been reelected as prosecutors after their misconduct was revealed.

Meanwhile, the wrongfully accused and/or convicted often receive little or nothing in compensation for the injury to their reputations, the expenses incurred defending themselves, or the years of wrongful imprisonment they've suffered.
But, what about Wart?
In South Bend, Indiana, for example, a federal magistrate denied any compensation to Richard Alexander, an African-American man who spent over five years in prison for crimes he did not commit. In speciously rationalizing this denial, this magistrate contended that Alexander failed to prove that he had been prosecuted in "bad faith."

In other words, to obtain compensation for an injustice, a wrongfully convicted person has to become a mind reader capable of discerning the intentions and motivations of the very people who investigated, prosecuted and imprisoned him.
But . . .
Not surprisingly, the chief prosecuting attorney at the time Alexander was convicted subsequently became an appeals court judge, and the deputy prosecutor who actually tried Alexander was appointed to a judgeship in superior court.

This corruption of the legal "system" even occurs at the highest echelons of the federal government, which means that the federal agencies responsible for investigating abuses and corruption at the state and local levels may actually be more abusive and corrupt than the people they are investigating.

FBI agents who violate the rights of targeted individuals are routinely insulated from criminal charges by so-called "immunity" doctrines. Even on those rare occasions when agents are prosecuted and convicted, they are usually pardoned, as then-president Ronald Reagan demonstrated in the early 1980s. Yet the people whose rights they've violated often languish in prison for decades, and some still remain there to this day.
But . . .
Nothing, however, invalidates the "nobody is above the law," adage more completely than the legal "system's" conspicuous disregard of the crimes committed during George W. Bush's illegal occupancy of the White House.

Lawsuits against former Attorney General John Ashcroft for abusing the "material witness" statute after the September 11, 2001 attacks have been routinely dismissed, and even the case that has worked its way up to the Supreme Court-Ashcroft v. al-Kidd-has seen the Obama administration, which rode into the White House on the promises of "hope" and "change," zealously defending Ashcroft's abuses.

In addition, allegations of wrongdoing against Ashcroft's successor, Alberto Gonzales, for the politically motivated firing of nine federal prosecutors resulted in no charges being brought, and advocates of torture, like former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee, were simply scolded for using "bad judgment."

Funny how the same legal defenses the United States government would reject and ridicule if invoked by foreign war criminals suddenly become acceptable when advocated by its own war criminals.
But . . .
And, speaking of war criminals, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and others of their ilk now have lucrative careers writing books, giving speeches and appearing on talk shows.

Finally, as if to top off this mélange of injustice and hypocrisy, it was recently announced by assistant United States attorney John Durham (not surprisingly, a Bush administration appointee) that former CIA official Jose Rodriguez Jr. would not face criminal charges for destroying tapes that purportedly showed CIA agents torturing detainees.

Of course, if the average citizen destroyed such evidence, prosecutors would indict him or her in a heartbeat for "obstruction of justice." But since CIA agents are routinely allowed to engage in rape, torture, murder, and the destruction of democracies to preserve corporate resources and profits, obstruction of justice is apparently "small potatoes."

Also, just as in Richard Alexander's case, the ones profiting from the Bush dictatorship's criminality are the same ones who participated in it: Gonzales is now a professor at Texas Tech University; Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley; and Bybee is a federal appeals court judge.
But . . .
From these examples it is clear that, no matter who is in power, America's legal "system" will go to extraordinary lengths to punish people, even innocent people, who fall out of favor, and will go to even greater lengths to protect and defend those whose corruption serves the "system."

In response to my previous Pravda.Ru articles critiquing America's legal "system," some critics argued that, despite its flaws, American "justice" is superior to the "justice" dispensed by more repressive countries. Although I do not dispute this, what these critics fail to realize is that no system should be lauded simply for rising above the lowest common denominator, but should instead be judged by how far it has deviated from its professed ideals.

Sometimes a case comes along that helps to gauge the extent of this deviation. Ward Churchill v. University of Colorado, et al. is currently such a case.
Ward Churchill was a tenured professor at the University of Colorado (UC) [UC. You can tell he knows the school intimately. Okay, I'll shut up. Just let the words wash over you.]. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, he authored an essay in which he referred to some of the 9/11 victims as "little Eichmanns," a reference to Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann. Although his essay was largely ignored at first, in 2005 its contents became more widely circulated, prompting many right-wing pundits and politicians to demand that Churchill be fired.

In addition to this right-wing frenzy, Churchill had the misfortune of being considered a "leftist" academic during the new McCarthyism-a time (that persists to this day) when organized efforts were undertaken to purge universities of professors considered to be "liberal" or "leftist," and when school boards, like the Texas Board of Education, were rewriting textbooks to appease whites, Christians and conservatives, primarily by disparaging the accomplishments of minorities, discounting the separation of church and state, and even censoring the writings of historical icons like Thomas Jefferson.

Even though Churchill's essay was protected by the freedom of speech provisions of the First Amendment, UC convened an "investigative committee" that subsequently accused him of "plagiarism" and other forms of academic misconduct. After being fired as a result of these allegations, Churchill sued the university and won. Although jurors only awarded him a single dollar, they made clear their belief that the misconduct allegations had simply been a pretext used to fire Churchill for the expression of his political views. The ultimate remedy for Churchill's unjust dismissal was left in the hands of the presiding trial judge, Larry Naves.

Although I applauded the jury's verdict, I did so with trepidation, stating in my article A Tale of Two Academics, (Pravda.Ru, June 18, 2009) that, "anyone familiar with American jurisprudence knows that such victories are fleeting in a legal system that labors harder to rationalize injustice than it does to produce justice."

While I would like to say that those words emanated from my "gift of prophecy," the reality is I was familiar enough with the machinations of the legal system to know that it would do anything to deny justice to a controversial figure like Ward Churchill. So when Churchill returned to court, it was not surprising to see the ethically corrupt Naves disregard the jury verdict and issue a ruling in favor of UC and the other defendants, claiming they enjoyed "quasi-judicial immunity" from lawsuits.

And just a few days ago, in keeping with the judicial traditions of hypocrisy and the rationalization of injustice, a Colorado appeals court speciously endorsed Naves' ruling, thereby ensuring the destruction of academic freedom throughout the United States.

Yet, given the impact that Churchill's case has not only on academic freedom, but upon freedom of speech in general, it would seem that many, if not most, Americans would be outraged by the duplicity of Colorado's so-called "legal system."

The problem Churchill faces, however, is the same one once faced by adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt in the case of Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell-nobody wants to defend an unpopular speaker, because, by doing so, they are often accused of also endorsing what that speaker said.

But what Churchill said in his essay is irrelevant. The reason for the "freedom of speech" clause in the First Amendment-perhaps the sole reason-is to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, after all, is protected by virtue of its popularity. Yet American history is replete with examples of how speech unpopular during one era subsequently became popular during another. If legal protections for such speech did not exist, however, many of those people who held "unpopular" opinions might never have been allowed to express them.

Naturally some have claimed that it is hypocritical to condemn the firing of Churchill while, at the same time, supporting demands that Gonzales and Yoo be fired from their respective academic positions-a stance I took in previous Pravda.Ru articles. But there is a significant distinction among these cases: Churchill was fired for exercising his right to freedom of speech. Gonzales and Yoo, on the other hand, corruptly sought to destroy this right, along with several others. And, unlike Churchill, they actually held positions of governmental power that gave them the capacity to facilitate this destruction. They should not be rewarded for this corruption by deriving income from teaching about the very rights and freedoms they've demonstrated nothing but contempt for.
Spock-like logic. (Sorry, said I'd shut up.)
In addition, such accusations of hypocrisy were recently muted by the right-wing's "outrage" over the recent firing of Juan Williams from National Public Radio (NPR). Many of the same right-wing pundits who clamored for Churchill's dismissal were suddenly condemning the firing of Williams as an affront to "freedom of speech," with some, like the chairman of Fox (Faux) News, even comparing it to Nazism.

Another argument leveled against Churchill is that nobody is entitled to a job. While this may be true in "at-will" employment situations, Ward Churchill had academic tenure, and tenure was, and is, designed so that professors will be encouraged to write, speak or engage in controversial studies without fear of economic retaliation. For example, if not for the protections of tenure and/or respect for academic freedom, Alfred Kinsey would probably have been unable to conduct his groundbreaking research into human sexuality.

Another argument often proffered to justify Churchill's dismissal is that he was fired for plagiarism and academic misconduct, not for the contents of his essay. But this argument completely ignores the jury's verdict, something Naves and the Colorado court of appeals seemed more than willing to do. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon practice in the realm of legal realism. Judges who seek to promote their own agendas or protect their political cronies rarely let little "nuisances" like facts, truth, and justice stand in their way.

Finally, some Churchill critics have defended Naves' "quasi-judicial immunity" ruling. But for Naves to belatedly invoke it, and for an appeals court to embrace it, after a full jury trial was conducted not only is repugnant to judicial economy, it is an unadulterated fraud. After all, if Naves sincerely believed such immunity existed, Churchill's case should never have gone to trial in the first place.

Which leads to this simple conclusion: Naves did not expect Churchill to win. Undoubtedly he believed that the animosity the right-wing had generated against Churchill, coupled with UC's misconduct allegations and his biased trial rulings, would turn a jury against Churchill. When that did not happen, he concocted the "quasi-judicial immunity" defense.

The positive to Ward Churchill's case is that it serves to expose the duplicity and double standards of America's legal "system," as well as the mendacity and amorality of the people who control it. The negative is that most Americans rarely, if ever, interact with this "system" and therefore have no incentive to change it.

As the examples in this article illustrate, however, America's legal "system" has abdicated its responsibility to serve as a "check-and-balance" against the other two branches of government, and has instead been transformed into a weapon exploited by the wealthy, the corporations, and the politically connected to defend their criminality, conceal their corruption and promote their economic interests.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "No lie can live forever." America's legal "system," however, has proven, time and again, that the lies it propagates do indeed live forever.

Will Ward Churchill's case be one of them?
Well, after much chin-stroking and pipe-smoking, I think I can answer that: Fuck you. (Yes, stolen from AoSHQ.)

Update: O/t, but John K. Wilson, a pro-Churchill academic who defended Chutch both on his blog and in comments at (IIRC) The Chronicle of Higher Ed, has a hostile but polite interview with David Horowitz. It goes nowhere, but Wilson does manage to embarrass Horowitz (he says so himself), and force him into one of those "I had nothing to do with writing that (line, paragraph, etc.), and did not authorize its use" deals. Unfortunately, and as pointed out many times here and elsewhere, Horowitz is not a good rep for our side.

Update II: PB notes Michael Roberts' latest piece in Westword in which, as usual, he allows a Chutchite--in this case David Lane--to expound with nary a countervailing opinion.

Actually Lane had a couple of surprising quotes. The first was his pessimistic take on Churchill's chances:
Indeed, Lane concedes that "statistically, the odds of either the Colorado Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court looking at the case are slim.". . .
The second, and less consequential, is in the same graf:
If, however, he and Churchill beat the odds, he actually thinks the conservative-tilting U.S. Supreme Court might give them a fair -- or at least a more fair -- shake. "We used to talk about the O'Connor swing vote. Now we talk about the Kennedy swing vote. But they've actually done some expanding of the First Amendment. An example of that is Citizens United" -- the ruling that removed limits on corporate funding for political advertising. "So I think they might actually treat the First Amendment a little better than the Colorado Court of Appeals has treated it, even with its current makeup.
Lane, a lefty if there ever was one, calling the Citizens United decision "an expanding of the First Amendment." Crazy world.

Update III: Lots of verbiage above, huh? Read it (shakes fist). Reeaaaaaad it.

Update IV: Via commenter Fred at PB (same link), Law Week Colorado finds a DU law prof who's worried about the effect of the appeals court decision on the ability of public employees to get judicial relief.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Churchill loses in court of appeals

Apparently those "good vibes" Chutch attorney David Lane got from two of the three judges during arguments last month were just gas. The decision was unanimous: Churchill's firing was legal and by the book. Here's the decision (pdf). Just skimming it right now, but if anything stands up and pokes me in the eye I'll update.

(via PB)

Update: Here's the Post story. Couple of typically circumspect Lane quotes.

Update II: The ACLU, AAUP, and someone representing the Center for Constitutional Rights, Latina/o Critical Legal Theory, Inc., National Lawyers Guild, and Society of American Law Teachers filed Amicus briefs.

Update III: Loved this part:
[Churchill] states that the investigation caused him to miss deadlines and to default on unspecified book contracts. He also claims that third parties cancelled speaking engagements and the alumni association withheld an award from him. As to the former contentions, the record is devoid of any proof of damage or causation. As to the latter cancellations and the withholding of the award, the University did not take these actions and therefore they do not constitute an adverse employment action.
No award! Call the wahhhhhhmbulance! (Yes, that one should be honorably retired.) As for the alleged book contracts, I vaguely remember Wart saying (apparently not at trial) that he had four books in various stages of writing which the investigation and trial had prevented him from completing. Now it's been over a year and a half since his trial ended, and all he's produced is a foreword or two, one for a comic book. I doubt he's spent the time looking up case cites for Lane.

Update IV: Caplis: "Tremendous cause for celebration." That's it? Bleh.

Update V: Oops, spoke too soon. Lane is gonna be on next.

Update VI: Rats, had to take a phone call, but could kind of half-ass listen. Caplis let Lane keep the focus completely on the jury when at this point their verdict is kind of, you know, moot. Not one question (that I heard, anyway) about qualified immunity. Good job, Dan.

Update VII: Here's the podcast of Caplis's interview with Lane. It starts about 11:33 in.

Update VIII: The Gamera's story; CS Gazette; 7News. None has much new info, but the Wart-love in the comments is fun. Fave comment so far is at the 9News site: "A great picture of Ward. He looks exactly like an old Romanian woman who lost her donkey cart. What a stooge."

Update IX: The Little Churchills at the Wart Slobidarity Network have Churchill's reaction (though it isn't in quotes) (and no permalinks either, the morons):
Ward Churchill summarizes the ruling:
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is wrong.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is wrong.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is wrong.
The ACLU of Colorado is wrong.
The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is wrong.
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is wrong.
The National Coalition Against Censorship is wrong.
Latina/o Critical Legal Theory is wrong.
And Federal law doesn’t apply in Colorado
Aside from that last, yup.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Abstract(s) of the Week!

You know, I really do look for absurd abstracts in fields other than womyn's studies, and sometimes find them. Unfortunately, they're almost never as good as the stuff one finds in journals like, say, Feminist Formations. So screw it. Here are a couple from that seminal publication.
Navigating Public Spaces: Gender, Race, and Body Privilege in Everyday Life

Samantha Kwan

Borrowing from and refining Peggy McIntosh's (1988) ideas on white privilege, this article introduces the concept of "body privilege" and examines how a lack of body privilege materializes in everyday life. Interviews with forty-two "overweight" women and men reveal a body privilege continuum distinctly patterned by gender and race. Specifically, while a majority of participants are not able to experience a level of comfort when navigating public spaces, women generally report more instances of body nonprivilege. Moreover, a number of Hispanic and white women experience a heightened level of "body consciousness" that leads to some form of "body management." This article documents and discusses this body privilege and its racial and gendered embodiment, along with differences between body privilege and McIntosh's original concept. It also discusses how body privilege sheds new light on crucial debates regarding cultural ideals, women's bodies, and agency.

Unmirroring Pedagogies: Teaching with Intersectional and Transnational Methods in the Women and Gender Studies Classroom

Dawn Rae Davis

As the U.S. academy increasingly markets "the global" and "diversity" for undergraduate student consumption, feminists face new challenges with respect to the decolonizing goals of teaching. Analyzing race, gender, and culture intersections that inform epistemological desires in the Women and Gender Studies classroom, this article examines the potential of a "pedagogy of unmirroring" to engage students in a decolonizing process of learning that facilitates intersectional and transnational feminist methods. The analysis draws from personal teaching experiences to argue that the languages of postcolonial feminist studies can be applied to a politics of knowledge in the classroom by rendering self–other relations of empire visible to the "mirror" of student perceptions in ways that help them confront epistemological desires rooted in imperialist assumptions.
Update: The pirate whose parrot cussed out a TSA employee the other day has an abstract every bit as goofy as these, and Wart-related to boot. He also notes that the Colorado Court of Appeals apparently will publish its decision in the Wart case tomorrow. Can't wait.

Quote of the Day!

“Changing attitudes towards climate change is not like selling a particular brand of soap – it’s like convincing someone to use soap in the first place.”

That'll win friends and influence people. It's from "The Rules of the Game: The principle of climate change communication," by a PR firm called futtera sustainability communications (note lowercase humbleness). The whole website is kind of a (dismal) hoot. Here are some of futtera's "leading projects." Slow travel. Jesus.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Had a McRib today

First time ever. Don't know why I got one, except that commenters at AoSHQ keep raving about it (not all of them, to be sure).

It was the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten. A quarter-inch-thick rectangle of graymeat covered in a sickly sweet red liquid substance and topped with onions and pickles (pickles?), all ensconced in a doughy, wet bun. And somehow, notwithstanding that it probably came from five or six different pigs (?) and was squashed into a fine mash before the stamping process, the meat was tough. Couldn't choke down half of the horrid thing.

Update (from Billy Bob): Two "thumbs" up!

Update II: This post is like an extended tweet, isn't it? Sorry. Next up: D-blog takes a bath!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Round and about Coloradoo

All from the Post.

Moron shoots park ranger in Utah canyon country:
MOAB, UTAH — Officers searching for a gunman in a rugged Utah canyon Saturday were believed to be closing in on the suspect accused of shooting and critically wounding a park ranger, authorities said.

Grand County Sheriff James Nyland said officers were able to pickup the man's footprints and found his rifle and backpack along the Colorado River, about 22 miles southwest of Moab.
Nobody knows what happened yet. The officer is in critical but stable condition, which usually means he'll be okay, and they found the suspect's car.

Still, I think the cops should BOLO Aron Ralston's hand.

Remember how the Colorado ski industry was going to be killed by global warming? For a while you couldn't line your bird cage without seeing a piece on how the mountains would no longer get snow once AGW really got going. Oh, wait. They're still doing it. February 2, 2010: "Colorado groups says climate change endangers skiing." (No link because it's already down the memory hole. Anyway, a story today:
Big storm could disrupt mountain holiday travel

A huge snowstorm will dump up to 4 feet of snow on south-facing slopes in the San Juans this week but shouldn't impact Thanksgiving commutes across the Denver area.
Or this, also teased on the front page:
Early storms lift skier, industry hopes as snow proves deep and powdery

COPPER MOUNTAIN — Snowstorms measured in feet. Powder. Avalanches. Bustling villages. A series of bountiful storms has catapulted Colorado's ski hills deep into winter. For many hills, this is the best opening in the past decade.
Actually, the skiing has been excellent for the past three or four or five years.

Darwin Award honorable mention:
Loveland beekeeper stung by his own shotgun booby trap

A Loveland beekeeper fell victim to his own sting and was wounded by a booby trap he set to protect his hive from a bear.

Police said John Frost, 68, suffered injuries to his left hand and left lower leg after an improvised shotgun booby trap he made went off Nov. 4. . . .
He lied about it, badly:
The [police] report said that his injuries did not appear to match his story and that Erbelding [Frost's girlfriend] said she never saw Frost with a shotgun.

Deputies said Frost gave them permission to investigate his property.

According to the report, police followed a trail of blood droplets which led them to a "suspicious-looking box" with a pipe protruding from it near the beehive.

Deputy Andrew Weber, who filed the report, said he recognized the box as a booby-trap shotgun. The report said that the pipe appeared to be attached to a tripwire. Upon dismantling the device, police reported finding one spent shotgun shell.

According to the report, a hospital staff member became suspicious when he asked Erbelding what happened and Frost allegedly said: "Shut up, we talked about this." . . .
Parents arrive from Australia as investigators confirm identity of dead twin

As officials confirmed the identity of a twin killed in a suicide pact, the women's parents arrived from Australia to be with their wounded daughter,

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office on Friday said Kristin A. Hermeler, 29, was the woman who died Monday at the Family Shooting Center at Cherry Creek State Park.
Family Shooting Center. Well . . . But again, why?
Perea [a cop] addressed media reports that a link to the 1999 Columbine killings was found among the women's possessions. He said the link consisted only of a photocopy of a Time magazine cover, from May 3, 1999, that depicted shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

"There were no other clippings or documents, nothing else on Columbine," Perea said.

Candice denied any interest in the case, and there was no other evidence to suggest a link, Perea said.

When investigators asked Candice about the magazine cover, Perea said, Candice replied: "I don't give a (expletive). It happened a long time ago."
Weird. If Caz checks in maybe she can shed a little light on the case. Don't think the story says it, but I think the twins were from Melbourne.

Update: Post this Sunday A.M.:
Twins in suicide pact had contact with Columbine survivor in 1999

The Hermeler twins' interest in Columbine High School grew from their experience as victims of bullying, as suggested by their phone calls and 11-year-old letters to a Columbine survivor.

Kristin Hermeler, the 29-year-old sister who committed suicide Monday at an Arapahoe County gun range, called herself "someone who has been rejected, victimized and ostracized" in a letter to Columbine survivor Brooks Brown. . . .
Update II: Commenter "Hinckley" notes another twin suicide pact, in California last month. Let's not start a fad, guys. (Though isn't this how they ended the Patty Duke show in the 60s?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

D-blog threatened by solicitors

With a defamation suit. No, really.

Backstory: Last April I posted on Sally Weintrobe, a psychoanalyst who was to read a paper to an organization improbably called "The Tavistock and Portman," and titled (allegedly), "Heads in the Sand: What's mad about Climate Change."

According to T&P's press release announcing Weintrobe's appearance,
The overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion is that the warming the Earth has observed over the last 50 years has been due to an increase in greenhouse gases directly caused by human activities. Predictions for the likely effects of this warming vary from the disastrous to the apocalyptic.

People 's reaction to potentially hazardous problems [NOT doughnuts] are often acute and even exaggerated. Predicted pandemics such as Swine Flu cause panic and induce rapid changes in people's behavior. Yet faced with overwhelming evidence of a likely global catastrophe the vast majority of populations have their heads in the sand. Why is this?

Is it ambivalence and apathy? Or, are people paralyzed by feelings of anxiety and helplessness? What are the barriers to individuals taking action? WE [sic] must look at the reasons people are not acting in order to understand how to get people to act.
Unfortunately for T&P, what our Sal originally submitted as a promo blurb or whatever read simply:
Some problems engaging with Climate Change: A psychoanalytic perspective

Using psychoanalytic ideas, Sally Weintrobe will explore some of the underlying reasons for the current level of denial of climate change and will suggest ways forward towards greater engagement.
Somewhat less strident (if perhaps equally dumb), wouldn't you say?

Turns out T&P added all the other garbage, and then failed to run it by Weintrobe before publishing.

Well. On being informed through Weintrobe's solicitors, Gillhams, that she was pissed, T&P fell down two flights of stairs in their rush to apologize, starting with this explanation:
After reviewing the material, the clinical director who commissioned the talk decided to amend the draft with an eye to what he thought would improve the marketing of the seminar and attract a larger audience. . . .
Can't find an account of the talk, don't know if it even came off. But that director should be on Mad Men, huh? Sell, sell, sell! Onward:
I am aware of your view that the changed title for your lecture, which includes the word “mad,” may be interpreted as provocative. I am also aware of your view that the description of your lecture is not reflective of how you, as a professional psychoanalyst, would approach your practice, this subject matter, or the public. Some of the blogs suggest you were motivated by financial gain [not me! I just suggested she was a dimwit] to give the lecture. On behalf of the trust I would like to make it clear that it was never intended that you would receive remuneration for giving the lecture, nor will you be offered any in the future.
Unless, of course, Weintrobe decides to sue. Anyway, after some really gross Weintrobe-licking:
The trust therefore unreservedly apologises for changing the proposed title for the lecture and the advertising material that was published without seeking consent, and for any distress suffered or any damage to your personal and professional reputation. We are now actively taking steps to notify those in control of websites making potentially defamatory comments in respect to you and/or your intended lecture that such comments should immediately be removed from their web presence.
My august web presence, if you please. Of course, I never heard anything from them.

After reviewing all this, Gillhams turns their attention to your darling defamatory D-blog, noting first that his post ("the Post") is one of a number of "agitated responses of the public" (yeah, sure) to T&P's press release, and listing the "possible defamatory meanings of the Post," among them,
a) Our client is crackpot psychoanalyst [sic], who should not be taken seriously . . .

c) The implication that our client is not a credible member of the profession of psychoanalysts [oh, no, she definitely is] . . .

e) The implication that our client is incompetent . . .
And so on. Finally,
Our client is of the view that the Post presents an unfair portrayal of her professional standing, reputation, and approach to treatment of individuals. Our client has never exploited those who may be in need of treatment, including those who would be the subject of the seminar to be presented on behalf of the Trust.
That's a relief. I was getting ready to seek help for my extreme AGW skepticism, but hesitated because I feared just such exploitation. Upshot of the whole lamebrain thing:
10. While our client is reluctant to do so, she reserves her rights against you for the defamatory content contained in your Post.
So I wrote them a nice note, mocking them for thinking (which I doubt they seriously do) that there are actually grounds for a suit against me, especially in the good 'ol USA. But being an honest bogger (what?) I said I'd post a correction. Here it is.

More personally, Sally, dear, I apologize for T&P not having the brains God gave a salted slug. Hey, maybe this episode will cause you to contemplate changing the focus of your psychoanalytics, perhaps toward people who are such AGW fanatics that they recklessly, not to say defamatorially, add their own paranoid fantasies to your words. I doubt it.

Update: T&P wiki; T&P website.

Update II: And Gillhams? The original post stays up. Yep, I'm an internet tough guy.

Update III: Though to be fair, I'll add a note to the original referring to this post.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grauniad stuff

Just a couple of things. Teased on the front page, a parody, or something (I thought parodies were supposed to be funny) of GWB's Decision Points. Typical kneeslapper that also Really Makes You Think:
Quitting drinking was the toughest decision I've ever made. Those closest to me were begging me to carry on. "Think what you're doing, George," they cried. "If you do get sober, you'll go on to be president and wreck the lives of countless people. Do us all a favour and keep getting legless." I'm happy to say the only legless people these days are the US servicemen returning from Afghanistan.

Accompanying art. I don't get it.

Most of the comments add up to: haaaaaaaaack.

On the environment page, an interview (from a forthcoming piece in Nature) with Dr. Phil Jones (say it like Tommy Lee Jones says "Dr. Richard Kimble" in The Fugitive) on the anniversary (almost) of the release of the Climategate e-mails (which were stolen, by the way). (Too many parentheses in that sentence.)

Not quite a tongue-bath, surprisingly, but obviously on Jones' side. I'd forgotten this, but back in February Jones said he would submit a correction to Nature about data from Chinese weather stations they'd published back in 1990. Now he takes it back:
Jones now says that is unnecesary. He said that he had been under pressure to concede errors earlier this year and had been on medication when he had given the interview to Nature in February. The idea that measuring stations had moved in China had been misinterpreted, he said, because his paper had talked of 84 stations from a larger group of 265. For his paper, Jones said he had chosen those measuring stations that had moved the least.
Oh, well then. Why didn't you say so? On the e-mails:

Jones also insists that he did not delete any emails that had been requested from him through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Pre-emptive deleting of emails that might be requested in FOI requests in future is not against the law but the Muir Russell report pointed out that such actions went against the spirit and intent of the regulations. And that there was some evidence that this had happened at the CRU.

"You can't second guess what's going to be requested," said Jones, "I deleted them based on their dates. It was to keep the e-mails under control."

Most damagingly, in one email Jones urged colleagues to delete messages in which they discussed the preparation of a report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

When asked why he did it, he told Nature: "That was probably just bravado at the time," he says. "We just thought if they're going to ask for more, we might as well not have them."

But they weren't, you understand, actually deleted.

Update: WUWT has a post on Jones' "rehabilitation" based on the Nature piece itself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wart and pedophilia--sounds familiar somehow

Chutch lawyer David Lane was just on Caplis and Silverman talking about the book The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure, which Amazon was forced by public pressure to pull today.

Slightly surprisingly, Caplis didn't know whether publishing such a book is legal. (Anarchist's Cookbook, anyone?)

Lane set him straight. More important, Lane said the Chutch decision should come down in the "next couple of months." Caplis asked him if he had gotten a feeling which way it'd go from the judges' questions.

"I got a bad vibe from one judge and okay vibes from two. And all we need is two."

He also predicted that, no matter what happens at this level or the next (the Colorado Supreme Court), the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

At least he wasn't wearing a helmet

A kid just went by riding his bike no-handed.

Well, he kind of had to. After all, it takes two hands to text.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The amazing thing about this story

Is, it's in the reliably leftie Denver Post. "Rising fees for utilities may be slowing recovery, economists say"

Welll, duuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Wait, needs a little more: duuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. There.
Even in one of the most contentious election cycles in recent history, most politicians agree on one thing: It's a mistake to raise taxes during an economic recession or early in a recovery.
Make it most Republican politicians, and I might agree.
But equally mandatory fees have quietly and relentlessly crept up in Colorado and across the nation, and economists say they could be slowing the economic recovery. . . .
Read the whole thing. It kind of dribbles off into a discussion of the reasonableness of pay raises for utility workers during a recession. But notice how three little initials are never mentioned with regard to Xcel, the power company: A. G. W. The adoption of belief in it sparked unnecessary initiatives like conversion of coal-fired plants to gas, "investment" in "renewables," etc. Idiots.

Update: Forgot I wrote this same story (a little more angrily, no doubt) a while ago.

Update II: What enviros will say to this piece: Well, duuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh. But they'll add that it's life or death so, suck it up, Shriner.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Voting Riport

buy Charly (not smart yet).

You've probably noticed how many people have said, "I'll crawl through broken glass to vote this time around." Well, I literally did.

Okay, I drove through broken glass. Still sucked.

First, I screwed up, assuming that the polling station in this area would be Rude Rec Center, as it was last time. So I tried to drive down there. Major construction everywhere around the place. Shovel-ready, no doubt. It was almost impossible to get there, but I did.

Wrong place, this year. The woman told me voting was at Barnum elementary.

Where is that, again? She didn't know.

Back home to look up where Barnum is (we're talking less than a mile one-way or whatever so I didn't insult Gaia too much, though I wanted to).

Barnum. Got it. Drive over. Wrong. They had no clue, and looked at me like I was a perv (as Wart will tell you, I am). Back home. Where the fuck do I vote?

Turns out, after a rudimentary tube search, Riverside Baptist Church (separation of C & S, y'all!), which is three blocks from my house.

Splendid place, by the way, though it's quite ugly on the outside.

Anyhow, when I was there (a little before one p.m.), there were three (count 'em, 3) other voters, in a deep, deep blue place in a very populous neighborhood. They had set up for like 20 at a time. I asked one of the poll ladies how turnout was, and she gave me the meh hand-waggle, and I heard somebody on the phone saying 209 for the turnout up to that point,

Very bad. For Dems.

The ballot itself. Too lazy (I say that a lot, don't I?) to find out if this is a statewide thing, but it was paper. First time I've voted with a pencil since the 70s. You had to connect little arrows. First time, also, that I voted a straight party ticket. I'll let you guess which.

Weirdest thing on the ballot? Initiative 300. Hey, if the UN wants it, why not Denver?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Everywhere she goes, she gets banned

Took me years to finally and irrevocably take the step, and WUWT is also notoriously reluctant to ban people, but skimming through this thread I noticed:
Snapple says:

October 31, 2010 at 3:57 pm

[Snip. Calling people 'denialists' is against site Policy. ~dbs, mod.]
First comment I've seen from her over there. Good work, Snaps! Let's see how long it takes before they can't stand your craziness, like everyone else who's had intertube dealings with you.