Thursday, March 05, 2015

If You Were a Member of the MSM, What Hillary News Would You Choose to Lead With This Week?

So, with Hillary firmly embroiled in a private email account scandal, what story does AOL choose to lead its Clinton family news?

You can't guess? Really?

Here's the title; and it's on page 2 (of 40) in AOL's current news cycle:


That's right! Who pioneered the pantsuit in Washington and who did not pioneer the pantsuit in Washington is of utmost interest these days!

(Update: thanks for the link, Instapundit)

This allows AOL to eulogize another member of Congress, needless to say also a Democrat (in the person of Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, aka a "pint-sized trailblazer with a huge legacy" as well as "one of the fiercest fighters for women, families and the middle class").

(There is another State Department email story on that second AOL page, but it is not the private email account scandal per se, it is not even an AOL story, it is a simple one-line link to a Fox News story on the Benghazi probe.)

The former secretary of state's private email account story?

It's there alright.

Yup, AOL does do its duty and does cover it.

But… needless to say, it shows Hillary Rodham Clinton in a positive light (she is responding to the "controversy" pro-actively while showing total transparency on the issue, "urging" the State Department to release the emails) and…

…the story comes in… 14th place!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Fact checking is liberals pretending not to be liberals — reliably liberal mouthpieces going to bat for the Democrats while pretending to be umpires calling balls and strikes

Politifact’s 2014 “Lie of the Year” was proven last week not to have been a lie at all
quips Benny Huang on Patriot Update;
or at least the portion attributed to conservative columnist George Will. Last September, Politifact “corrected” Will when he tweeted, “Some doctors say Ebola can be transmitted through the air by a ‘sneeze or some cough.’” His statement was later rolled up with other Ebola-related claims and deemed the biggest fib of 2014.

Not that Will’s statement was very definitive. “Some doctors” could mean only a handful, but even so, Jon Greenberg of Politifact couldn’t let it stand. His rebuttal to Will was rather hard to follow as it meandered quickly into the realm of irrelevancy. Greenberg also admitted that he was unsure which doctors Will was quoting.

 … Besides common sense, there’s another reason to believe that Ebola could in fact be transmitted by cough and sneezes—the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) said in October that the Ebola virus could be transmitted exactly that way, provided that the person on the receiving end has an open cut or sore. So yes, “some doctors” do make that claim and they work at the WHO.
This isn’t the first time that Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” turned out not to be a lie at all. Its 2012 “Lie of the Year” was a claim made by candidate Mitt Romney that the bailed-out semi-American automaker Chrysler had plans to build a Jeep factory in China. Politifact rebuffed Romney, citing a statement from a Chrysler spokesman who declared, “Jeep has no intentions of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China.” Apparently, the whole thing was debunked because a corporate spokesman denied it, which is an interesting standard of proof that I’d wager Politifact employs selectively.

Then, in January of 2013, Chrysler and its parent company Fiat announced plans to open a new factory in Guangzhou, China. Which is exactly what Romney said.

Just don’t accuse Politifact of having a partisan agenda. They hate that. It’s not that they consistently side with the Democrats, it’s just that the Democrats are always right. Or at least most of the time. Since Politifact started giving out “Lie of the Year” awards in 2009, it has awarded it to conservative or Republican claims four times, often for inconsequential statements, and at least twice for statements that turned out to be true.
It awarded its “Lie of the Year” to liberal or Democratic claims only twice. Surprisingly, it even gave Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” fib its “Lie of the Year” Award in 2013. The difference is that Obama’s lie really was a big fat whopper that everyone knew to be false but repeated endlessly in order to get Obamacare passed.

In any case, fact checking has gotten to be rather absurd. What was supposed to be a nonpartisan exercise in discerning the truth through a haze of competing claims has become nothing but partisan hackery.

It isn’t even honest partisan hackery. It’s liberals pretending not to be liberals, which I’ve noticed they do a lot. “Fact checking” is nothing more than reliably liberal mouthpieces going to bat for the Democrats while pretending to be umpires calling balls and strikes.
The American journalistic establishment, you see, claims to value objectivity.

 … Fact checking is arguably the most corrupt business in America, second perhaps only to personal injury lawyers. The little charade fact checkers play, in which they pretend to help readers navigate a sea of chicanery, is really getting quite tiresome.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Era of the Drama Queens: Every Crisis Is a Triumph


We live in hard times. This is a hard, hard time for the Republic.

We live in the era of the Drama Queen.

We have been digging ourselves deeper and deeper into that era for the past fifty years.

Leftists are drama queens. Leftists constantly erupting in hysterics — male (girly men?) or female — rule the roost.

Racism! Patriarchy! Sexism! Rape on campus! Christianity's bigotry! The reactionary average American! Republicans' hate speech and hate thought! US history, a litany of racism and oppression! All the founding fathers, hypocritical sonzabitches! All our ancestors, imperialist mongrels! Oppression of women, and gays, and transgenders!

(The only person, the only people, who come out positive in this (self-serving) world view are — surprise, surprise — the drama queens themselves! Also known as the wise men, and the wise women, arriving as knights in shining armor on their white steeds to fight for the victims and the martyrs of the world.)

Whenever there is drama — whenever there is a crisis (or the semblance of a crisis) — the left's  drama queens win.

There must be constant drama — crises, if you prefer — or the movement loses momentum and/or comes to a standstill and/or dies out.

We have been in the midst of the triumph of the drama queens and the Chicken Littles since the 1960s, with the movement reaching its nadir with the 2008 election.

Ain't that true? Can't the biggest drama queen of all be found in the White House?

When the Republicans won the 2014 elections, they didn't realize that this was actually manna in heaven to the top drama queen of them all.

— I will defend the poor innocent martyred immigrants against the monstrous Republicans, against the ignominious inhabitants of Middle America!

— I will defeat the aggressive and clueless warlike policies of the despicable Republicans, regarding the relations with (say) Russia or Cuba, provide a reset, and open an era of peace and prosperity and friendship with those poor, misunderstood nations!

— I will fight for the American people tenaciously, by attacking the nation's, indeed the world's, main enemy, its only enemy (no, not Isis, not Al Qaeda, not the Russians, not the Chinese, not the Iranians, not any foreign dictator), and that as relentlessly and as often as I can — the contemptible members of America's Republican Party and the clueless average American citizen. 

Anything that will provide food for drama, for a crisis, may, and will, be used.

In no sense whatsoever is there the slightest value in unity.

Creating chaos is their raison d'être.

War, and crises, with the opposition must be used all the time, and no event may occur without it being used for political advantage.

All these battles in Congress makes Obama happy. He has created his crises, one after the other. He appears as the knight in shining armor come to save the American people.

With the Homeland Security shutdown, you have to wonder if nothing would make Obama happier if there was a terrorist attack om some place in America. He could blame it, would blame it, on the Republicans. And the media would gobble it up.

Why? Because journalists are drama queens too (they have to be, that is how the "newsmakers" survive). That is why so many of them are Democrats, while that is why so many leftists go into the news business in the first place (I want to fight for the little man).

(And why do the drama queens, in- or outside the media, hate conservatives? Republicans? Fox News? Where does their sense of anger, and revulsion, at Dubya, and Reagan, and Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck originate? The main reason is because the latter are, they were, happy people with a smile on their face, who take pleasure — indeed, pride — in their country, and who are not constantly outraged at everything around them.)

Does Obama deserve to be impeached? Want to impeach Obama?

You know what? Nothing would make Barack Obama happier than to be impeached. Then there would be another drama, another one at which he would be the center, and one which could be milked to increase the fortunes of the Democrat Party.

Obama wins all the time.

PS: Do I doubt that Obama is patriotic and loves America?

What is the American Dream? The dream to be rich, i.e., the dream to be powerful, i.e., the dream to be independent — independent of politicians — the dream to be content and feel secure.

This is the American Dream as far back as the 1770s.

This is the America that statists like Obama wanted to "fundamentally transform."

There is nothing Obama resents more than the America where its citizens are independent of the politicians, the élites, and their ever-growing armies of bureaucrats (there to "help them").

The founders' vision was the dream to be rid of Drama Queens — certainly, the dream that we should be rid, that we could be rid, of those drama queens who are in positions of power to rule, or who wish to rule, over us.

Since then, drama queens at home and abroad have done all in their power (Norway's 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, f'r'instance) to make America a Drama Queen-run nation…

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The only good cop is a dead cop: If Obama had an older sister she’d look like Assata Shakur

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will probably be disappointed when his state’s most infamous cop killer is not extradited from Cuba 
sighs Benny Huang on Patriot Update.
Since the Obama Administration announced its intentions last month to normalize relations with the “workers’ paradise” of the Caribbean, Governor Christie has asked the administration to put pressure on Cuba to extradite Joanne Chesimard, also known by her African nom de guerre Assata Shakur, a black militant convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Foerster. She escaped from prison in 1979 and later fled to Cuba where she has been sheltered ever since.

The Obama Administration seems to be paying lip service to the Chesimard issue, claiming that “the return of fugitives is one of the issues on the U.S-Cuban agenda,” according to a USA Today article from David Jackson. Frankly, their reassurances sound like more of this administration’s empty promises. The State Department should demand that Chesimard be extradited as a precondition of diplomatic negotiations. I say this as someone who believes that our “talk to the hand” foreign policy toward Cuba needs to change. We should absolutely open up to Cuba, but we can’t have relations with them while they harbor miscreants like Chesimard.

Yet I won’t hold my breath waiting for President Obama to press his advantage to bring a cop killer to justice. After all, if Obama had an older sister she’d look like Assata Shakur, which tells me that Obama will side with her by default. He doesn’t have all the facts, nor does he ever, but he knows that the police acted stupidly…or something.

 … President Obama is undoubtedly cut from the same reflexive, cop-hating cloth as the congresswomen [Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee, both Democrats from the People’s Republic of California, were actually embarrassed to have voted for a 1998 resolution calling upon Cuba to extradite Chesimard], if only a little more cagey about it. I predict that he will purposely fail to bring Chesimard to justice and then pretend that he tried his hardest but it just wasn’t meant to be.

President Obama is (or was), after all, a close friend of Bill Ayers, a left-wing terrorist whose Weather Underground group bombed NYPD headquarters, among other acts of terrorism targeting police. Obama has repeatedly denied the relationship, insisting that Ayers was just some guy in the neighborhood, but Ayers himself described Obama as a “family friend” in an updated edition of his terrorist memoir “Fugitive Days” that was published after Obama was safely elected in 2008. In the same book, Ayers also admitted hosting an Obama fundraiser at his home, something which Obama supporters had dismissed as right-wing conspiracy theories.

Ayers belonged to a movement that spoke openly of “offing pigs,” rhetoric that was not unusual in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This fact has been erased from history so that the era could be remembered as a time when utopian peace activists employed nonviolence to defeat the skull-cracking reactionary establishment. But it wasn’t all peace and love. As the Yippee prankster Abbie Hoffman once said, “I think killing a cop can be an act of love.” This from a man who was a squishy liberal compared to the Weather Underground and Black Panthers. The fact that Hoffman could say that and still maintain his good standing with the progressive community speaks volumes.

The quickest way to achieve celebrity status among chic leftists is to blast a cop. Ray Luc Levasseur, Leonard Peltier, Huey Newton, and Mumia Abu Jamal are but a few of the Left’s favorite cop killers. Most leftists would never touch a police officer, of course, but only because they’re chicken excrement, hence all of the jock-sniffing they do when they find an actual cop killer. They’re like teenage girls at a Beatles concert circa 1964, only not nearly as composed.

 … Even supposed examples of unwarranted violence by police, cited by leftists as part of a pattern of police brutality, are actually examples of violence against police. Poor Michael Brown, the “gentle giant” of Ferguson is dead today because he tried and failed to murder a patrolman with his own gun. Yet Brown is portrayed as the victim, his myth padded with now debunked lies about being shot in the back while his hands were raised. When the Left inverts reality to the extent that a cop is guilty of murder because he fought for his life when someone else was trying to murder him, that tells you a lot about how these people think. The only good cop is a dead cop.
 … The belief system of the Left today is so twisted and bloodthirsty that it excuses and even glorifies those who gun down police officers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Immigration, World Poverty, and Gumballs

Presented by immigration author/journalist Roy Beck,
Global humanitarian reasons for current U.S. immigration are tested in this updated version of immigration author and journalist Roy Beck's colorful presentation of data from the World Bank and U.S. Census Bureau. The 1996 version of this immigration gumballs presentation has been one of the most viewed immigration policy presentations on the internet.

Learn More http://www.NumbersUSA.org
NumbersUSA Education & Research Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that favors an environmentally sustainable and economically just America and seeks to educate the public about the effects of high levels of immigration on U.S. overpopulation, the environment, jobs, and wages. We use government data to conduct research on the impacts of U.S. population growth, consumption, sprawl, and current levels of immigration and educate the public, opinion leaders and policy makers on the results of those and other studies.
See also their new ad

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ready to Unwind After a Hard Day's Work? Do as the Muslims Do…

Tired of the day's travails?

Ready to unwind, ready to let loose — Muslim-style?

Okay, take any hats off your head.

Stand up.

Get one hand (high) up in the air.

Ready?

Set!

And here we go!

WARNING: Before you hit play and watch this, swallow
any liquid (coffee, etc…) that may be in your mouth

(FYI, this Muslim Rave Party earned a post on No Pasarán 8 or 9 years ago,
but I was never able to find it again. Thanks to RV for unearthing it on Youtube.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Once Again, Surprise: Mediators' Call for Violence (Between Armenia and Azerbaijan) to Stop Is Ignored



Overshadowed by the fighting in Ukraine, another armed conflict in the former Soviet Union — between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh — has escalated with deadly ferocity in recent months, killing dozens of soldiers on each side and pushing the countries perilously close to open war.
In the New York Times, David M Herszenhorn writes that the
most recent clashes prompted an unusually pointed rebuke by international mediators who met on Monday in Krakow, Poland, with the Azerbaijani foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov.

“The rise in violence that began last year must stop,” the mediators, from France, Russia and the United States, said in a joint statement, adding, “We called on Azerbaijan to observe its commitments to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We also called on Armenia to take all measures to reduce tensions.”

Instead, the violence has continued.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Accused of Being a Christian Right-Winger, Killer of 3 Muslims Turns Out to Be (Surprise!) an Anti-Theist on the Political Left


Immediately following the [Chapel Hill] murders, the internet buzzed with speculation that the victims—Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha—had been targeted because they were Muslims
writes Benny Huang.
Early assumptions were that [Craig Hicks] must have been a right-winger and a Christian, presumably because he’s white and from the “Bible Belt.” (Anyone who thinks Chapel Hill is part of the Bible Belt obviously hasn’t been there lately.)

Slowly the truth came out—Hicks, as it turns out, is on the political Left and a self-described “anti-theist” to boot. Whatever his beef with Islam may be, this acolyte of Richard Dawkins also harbors animus against all religions. His Facebook page sums up his attitude toward people of faith: “Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny you your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out that it’s ignorant and dangerous as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people.” [Emphasis original.]
Noting that Craig Hicks seems to be affiliated with United Atheists of America and that the IB Times reports that his "Facebook Likes included the Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Bill Nye 'The Science Guy,' Neil deGrasse Tyson, 'Gay Marriage' groups and similar progressive pages", Eagle Rising's Tim Brown called the killer nothing less than a "disgusting atheist."
Craig Hicks’s wife, Karen Hicks, claimed that the victims’ religion was incidental to the crime, which she says actually arose from a long-standing parking dispute … It sounded as if Mrs. Hicks was desperately trying to obfuscate her husband’s true motive in order to shield him from accusations of bigotry, or worse, from federal hate crimes charges.

Yet other residents of the same apartment complex where the shooting took place confirm Karen Hicks’s version of events, saying that Mr. Hicks was absolutely obsessed with residents parking in their assigned spaces. A local towing company said that Hicks’s requests to tow unknown cars got to be so repetitive that they eventually refused to respond to his calls. He also had a reputation for being loud and aggressive. Residents reportedly held a meeting to discuss what to do about this troublesome man.
 … Unfortunately, under federal law, the killer’s motive makes all the difference in the world. We have a thing in this country called “hate crimes,” you see, which is an utterly insipid category that really shouldn’t exist. If Craig Hicks murdered three people because they were Muslims then he will face federal charges and, theoretically at least, a stiffer sentence. If he murdered them for some other reason, he won’t.

A harsher sentence may not even be possible in this case, as Hicks stands a chance of being sentenced to death. How do you top that? Yet hate crimes charges may still be filed because it’s not enough to demonstrate that Craig Hicks killed these people; the court still has to determine if he hated them while he was doing it. Such is the stupidity of hate crimes laws.

 … Nowhere in America is assault legal unless the victim happens to be unborn, though that’s another column entirely. It doesn’t matter if that person is black or white, a man or a woman, a libertarian, Unitarian, vegetarian, or Rotarian. Such laws don’t distinguish between people based on their race or their bedroom behavior. Nor should they.

But hate crimes laws do. They require jurors to peer into the mind of the assailant and determine if he was motivated by “hate.” Hating someone for parking in the wrong space doesn’t count. If he wasn’t motivated by “hate,” or if his hate was directed against groups that don’t appear on Eric Holder’s list of recognized victims, then the perp receives a lesser sentence and the feds don’t get involved.

That’s not justice.
Eagle Rising's Tim Brown adds that they
call it a "hate crime." Let me ask anyone, is there any other crime? Is there a crime that occurs out of love? Every crime that occurs against another person made in the image of God is a crime that is born of hate, period. True, it may have been because Hicks despised their dress and religion, but he also hated Christians too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Progressives? They Are Just Actors in a Make-Believe World

Brian Williams …  told one whopper of a tale after another for years to pump up his personal resume and give himself some "street creds" among progressives who think that Williams and his ilk are intelligent, savvy, and bearers of the TRUE WORD.
Outstanding commentary from the DiploMad (thanks to Instapundit):
As it turns out, ladies and gentlemen, he lied about saving puppies from a fire; about getting robbed by a gun-wielding mugger when Williams was a teen supposedly working for a charity on the "mean streets" of 1970s small-town New Jersey; about braving Hezbollah rockets in Israel; about watching bodies float down the Mississippi River during Katrina; about seeing a man jump to his death in a football stadium; and, of course, most famously, about flying on a chopper that got shot down in Iraq in 2003. Aside from proving a serial liar, he has become one of the most fawning, outright boot-licking fans and promoters of the disaster known as President Obama. He also has served as a regular on progressive TV shows, where he plays the part of the wise, humorous, Hemingway-esque man of the world. He is the man who has seen it all, and who can with a knowing smirk or wink put down and dismiss all the deluded right-wing nuts out there. In other words, he is a hero and a product of the Hollywood-University-Media complex which has done so much irreparable damage to our nation and Western civilization.

Williams joins the ranks of other progressive "journalists" such as,

Dan Rather, who tried to throw an American election by pushing a patently false story about George W. Bush;

Janet Cook, who concocted a much awarded narrative of an eight-year-old heroin addict;

Jayson Blair, who fabricated a number of much-commented on stories for the New York Times;

Sabrina Erdely of Rolling Stone who spread the UVA fake rape story;

and, of course, who could forget, The Lord of Them All, Commissar in Chief Walter Duranty, New York Times apologist extraordinaire for Joseph Stalin and his mass murders in Ukraine.

You certainly can name many others.

I never met Williams, but during my long career did have dealings with other prominent "anchors"--one of whom nearly ended my career--and found them boring and idiotic. They were just actors: make-up, lights, dramatic pose, and read lines written by young staffers from the "best" schools. There was no journalism as most of us would think of journalism. The British have it mostly right. They call persons such as Williams, "readers," because they read the news to you. In one way, however, American "anchors" are not like British "readers." In our benighted Republic, "anchors" are vastly better paid, revered, and allowed a great deal of say over what and how they will report. In the recent past, if Williams, Rather, or Jennings did not want to report on something, then it simply must not have happened.

That little world of the "anchor," however, took a major hit with the invention of the internet by Al "Is it Getting Warm?" Gore--another fabulist of distinction. We now have millions of little "anchors" who can fact-check, provide alternative explanations for events, and bring sunlight to otherwise forgotten happenings and issues. Dan Rather, let us not forget, got brought down by bloggers. The internet also has debunked Williams. Imagine, just imagine, if we had had the internet in the time of Duranty, or even when the Saintly Walter Cronkite declared that we were losing in Vietnam when, in fact, we were winning . . .

There is something in the progressive mind-set that promotes, nay, requires compulsive lying. We see it in John Kerry and his fake stories of secret missions in Cambodia and his flying dog; Hillary Clinton and her Bosnian snipers; Susan Rice and her video explanation for Benghazi; Eric Holder with Fast and Furious; and even FDR who famously said these words now engraved on his DC monument,
I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.
In fact, of course, he saw none of these horrors. Those things tend not to happen in Hyde Park, New York.
The fundamental problem progressives such as Williams face is that the world is not as they would have it. Not at all. Many if not most of them have limited experience in the real world, having spent lives of wealth and privilege, sheltered in progressive educational institutions. They have very superficial knowledge of the world outside these bubbles, and rely, therefore, to a great deal on Hollywood. They incorporate into their personae the largely leftist rubbish pumped out by Hollywood.

In their world, the United States is still 1930's Alabama--or, better said, the Alabama of Hollywood. They want to unleash their inner Atticus Finch. In their world, murderers in the United States are middle aged white male business executives who kill black people instead of what happens in the real world where murderers are overwhelmingly young black men who generally kill black people. In their world, women can kung fu better and be bigger badasses than big burly guys, when, in fact, the opposite is true as shown by the progressives' contradictory and ceaseless calls for government to "protect" women from men. "I am woman! I am strong! Call the cops! Men are looking at me!" In progressive world, the KKK equals the Tea Party, when in the real world, the KKK served as the armed wing of the Democratic Party. In progressive world, Western civilization is the source for all the poverty and evil in the world, when, in fact, the concepts of liberty, justice, and human rights are Western constructs.

Your standard progressive activist has really done nothing very interesting, so he or she needs to get proper credentials, to show that he or she knows what's what, and that progressivism is what the world needs to deal with "problems"--after all, isn't life just a series of problems calling for progressive intervention? They want to see what they believe.

We, hence, have progressives making up the sort of stuff that puts them, the elite, in the center of the battle, on the ramparts, in the muddy trenches and downed helicopters with the common schlubs--the sort of worldly experience that allows progressives to tell us how to live our lives.

Telling lies is essential to progressivism.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What Is Net Neutrality? Essentially, It Is Obamacare for the Web

[An FCC Commissioner in person] is sounding the alarm about an attempted federal takeover of the internet
writes Benny Huang. Ajit Pai
recently received the Obama Administration’s 322-page plan for “net neutrality” and he finds it appalling. He’d like to share his specific objections with the +public but he can’t because the plan is under wraps until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) votes on it.
Would you expect anything less from the most transparent administration in history? Secret plans to regulate the internet are circulated among the unelected members of a commission, who then make huge decisions with ramifications that will be felt around the globe, and we’re not allowed to know what they’re considering until the decision has been made. Par for the course.
 … Those of us who are … skeptical tend to see “net neutrality” as little more than a government takeover of the internet, something Washington has been itching to do for years. All they needed was an excuse and finally they’ve found it. Capitalizing on a popular and not necessarily unfounded distrust of corporations, the government will seize control of the freest, most egalitarian means of communication known to man…and strangle it with regulation. 
Surely, you wouldn’t want ISP’s to prioritize search results for a fee, would you? Just empower the government to protect you from this huge problem that you probably didn’t even know existed and you won’t have to worry.

Supporters of net neutrality are already complaining that dissenters are mere conspiracy theorists steeped in misinformation. Net neutrality isn’t a government seizure of the internet, they argue, it’s simply a set of rules that prohibits corporations from favoring users or content. Call me crazy, but I think that a policy like that could be expressed in a few sentences. Why then is the administration’s net neutrality policy 322 pages long? And why hasn’t it been released to the public?

 … Net neutrality is essentially Obamacare for the web—a government takeover, sold to the public as a means of protecting us from corporations, which is in fact supported by the corporations that are supposed to hate it, which will invariably give us a crappier product at a higher price.
The problem with the internet is that it’s just too liberated for our leviathan federal government to tolerate. People can say stuff on the internet without fear of censorship. They can buy and sell things without paying the tax man. They can organize political movements that the government would rather suffocate. In short, the World Wide Web (WWW) closely resembles the Wild Wild West, and that really scares the control freaks in Washington.

 … The beauty of the internet is that it’s an open space for the free exchange of goods, services, information, and most importantly, ideas. Whatever minimal degradation of that freedom that might result from your ISP providing preferential treatment to paying customers does not merit government intrusion. It’s a red herring anyway—the government doesn’t want to control the internet to protect you from Comcast, a corporation that is already abiding by the supposed principles of net neutrality on a voluntary basis. The government wants to control the internet because it’s in the business of control and it can’t stand to sit idly by while a domain of nearly limitless freedom is permitted to exist.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The struggle over fracking in Europe does feature a Goliath, but it is not any American mutinational; it is the Russian company Gazprom


Vlasa Mircia, the mayor of [Pungesti, a] destitute village in eastern Romania, thought he had struck it rich when the American energy giant Chevron showed up here last year and leased a plot of land he owned for exploratory shale gas drilling.
Thus writes Andrew Higgins in the New York Times.
But the encounter between big business and rural Romania quickly turned into a nightmare. The village became a magnet for activists from across the country opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Violent clashes broke out between the police and protesters. The mayor, one of the few locals who sided openly with Chevron, was run out of town, reviled as a corrupt sellout in what activists presented as a David versus Goliath struggle between impoverished farmers and corporate America.

“I was really shocked,” recalled the mayor, who is now back at his office on Pungesti’s main, in fact only, street. “We never had protesters here and suddenly they were everywhere.”



Pointing to a mysteriously well-financed and well-organized campaign of protest, Romanian officials including the prime minister say that the struggle over fracking in Europe does feature a Goliath, but it is the Russian company Gazprom, not the American Chevron.

Gazprom, a state-controlled energy giant, has a clear interest in preventing countries dependent on Russian natural gas from developing their own alternative supplies of energy, they say, preserving a lucrative market for itself — and a potent foreign policy tool for the Kremlin.

“Everything that has gone wrong is from Gazprom,” Mr. Mircia said.

This belief that Russia is fueling the protests, shared by officials in Lithuania, where Chevron also ran into a wave of unusually fervent protests and then decided to pull out, has not yet been backed up by any clear proof. And Gazprom has denied accusations that it has bankrolled anti-fracking protests. But circumstantial evidence, plus large dollops of Cold War-style suspicion, have added to mounting alarm over covert Russian meddling to block threats to its energy stranglehold on Europe.

Before stepping down in September as NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave voice to this alarm with remarks in London that pointed a finger at Russia and infuriated environmentalists.
“Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas,” Mr. Rasmussen said. He presented no proof and said the judgment was based on what NATO allies had reported.

Feeding what environmental groups denounce as a frenzy of paranoia have been Russian actions in Ukraine. Russia’s president, the former K.G.B. officer Vladimir V. Putin, has deployed a powerful arsenal there dominated by stealth and subterfuge, first to annex Crimea in March and, more recently, to foment an armed separatist rebellion in the east.

“It is crucial for Russia to keep this energy dependence. It is playing a dirty game,” said Iulian Iancu, chairman of the Romanian Parliament’s industry committee and a firm believer that Russia has had a hand in stirring opposition to shale gas exploration across Eastern Europe. He acknowledged that he had no direct evidence to support this allegation, nor for an assertion he made recently in Parliament that Gazprom had spent 82 million euros, or about $100 million, to fund anti-fracking activities across Europe.
“You have to realize how smart their secret services are,” he added. “They will never act in the spotlight.”

What has become a tide of protest against fracking in Eastern Europe, where countries are most dependent on Russian energy, began three years ago in Bulgaria, a member of the European Union but far more sympathetic to Russian interests than any other member of the 28-nation bloc. Faced with a sudden surge of street protests by activists, many of whom had previously shown little interest in environmental issues, the Bulgarian government in 2012 banned fracking and canceled a shale gas license issued earlier to Chevron.

 … Romania is already far less reliant on Russian energy than are Bulgaria and other countries in the region, but a sharp expansion in domestic production would allow it to export energy to neighboring Moldova and blunt an important Russian foreign policy goal. Like Ukraine, Moldova has tilted away from Moscow toward the European Union and has come under strong pressure, notably through gas prices, to stay within Russia’s economic and political orbit.

“Energy is the most effective weapon today of the Russian Federation — much more effective than aircraft and tanks,” Victor Ponta, the Romanian prime minister, said in an interview.

 … Anca-Maria Cernea, a leader of a conservative political group in Bucharest that has exposed the prospect of a Russian connection, said that while no documents have been uncovered proving payments or other direct support from Russia, circumstantial evidence shows that “Russians are behind the protests against Chevron.”

The protesters, she noted, included groups that usually have nothing to do with one another, like radical socialists, some with ties to the heavily Russian influenced security apparatus in neighboring Moldova, and deeply conservative Orthodox priests. Russian news media, she added, were curiously active in covering and fueling opposition to fracking in Pungesti. RT, a state-run Russian TV news channel aimed at foreign audiences, provided blanket coverage of the protests and carried warnings that villagers, along with their crops and animals, would perish from poisoned water.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

SkyMall: Good-Bye, Friend

After traveling by plane in the States, I always brought back a stack of SkyMall catalogs to show my friends in Europe what they were missing out on…

My favorite item (that I never bought)?

A close cousin to the Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculpture pictured above, the garden gnome-type ornament of a zombie digging itself out of the earth…