Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin Lied About Bridge To Nowhere

I wanted to like Sarah Palin. I really did. She seemed like a breath of fresh air, taking on a corrupt establishment in her own party. She seemed far away from Washington politics.

But alas, Palin blatantly lied when she said she opposed the infamous pork barrel boondoggle, the "Bridge to Nowhere." The proof is on her own Web site.

Let's start with what Palin said she did about the boondoggle (emphasis mine):

"I signed major ethics reform. And I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on that bridge to nowhere.

"If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves. Well, it’s always, though, safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn’t get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built."

Now let's take a look at the press release Gov. Palin issued last year announcing the project,, the Gravina Island bridge, was dead. I'm quoting the entire press release (emphasis mine)

Gravina Access Project Redirected

September 21, 2007, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin today directed the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to look for the most fiscally responsible alternative for access to the Ketchikan airport and Gravina Island instead of proceeding any further with the proposed $398 million bridge.

“Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer,” said Governor Palin. “Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island,” Governor Palin added. “Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.” The Department of Transportation has approximately $36 million in federal funds that will become available for other projects with the shutdown of the Gravina Island bridge project. Governor Palin has directed Commissioner Leo von Scheben to review transportation projects statewide to prepare a list of possible uses for the funds, while the department also looks for a more affordable answer for Gravina Island access.

“There is no question we desperately need to construct new roads in this state, including in Southeast Alaska, where skyrocketing costs for the Alaska Marine Highway System present an impediment to the state’s budget and the region’s economy,” said von Scheben.

“The original purpose of this project was to improve access to Gravina Island, and we will continue to work with the community to help them attain that goal,” von Scheben said.

The commissioner said his department would continue to work with local officials to discuss future plans for development of Gravina Island.

Far from refusing Congress' assistance, Palin was counting on it. Of the $398 million total, $329 million was to come from Congress. It was only when it became clear that Congress would not give the money that Palin said the project was dead.

The Alaskan press is now pointing out the blatant contradictions in what Gov. Palin told Alaskans last year and in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, and what vice-presidential candidate Palin is now telling the rest of the country.

Here is what the Daily News-Miner says:

On Oct. 22, 2006, the Anchorage Daily News asked Palin and the other candidates, “Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?”

Her response: “Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

Assist -- is that what you call it when Congress is expected to supply 83 percent of the funding?

Palin is imploding -- not because of the crazy rumors spread by leftist nutbags -- but because of her own words. And McCain may have ruined his own rather good prospects to beat Barack Obama by neglecting an easily verifiable fact in Palin's vetting process.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

BS From The WP

To your left is a perfect illustration of the brain-dead MSM media in action, at one of its most prestigious outlets.

That's Dan Balz, longtime Washington Post national political reporter, quoting from anonymous sources who bash Sarah Palin. These critics are identified only as Republican strategists, a description that says virtually nothing.

It's not surprising that a journalistic barnacle like Balz (at the Post since 1978) would call on his contacts, presumably Washington insiders. Nor would it be surprising if Balz were miffed at having to admit his ignorance about Palin, who exists in a world physically and culturally far from his own. And not at all surprising that insiders would not like a true Washington outsider like Sarah Palin intruding on their cozy little world.

Palin's record of fighting corruption in her own party must be frightening to them. She actually means what she says, and carries through with it! How different from the usual Washington phonies who do photo-ops but don't walk the walk, like Al Gore and his energy-guzzling lifestyle, or Fred Thompson with the red truck he never uses except for political events. These are typical Washington phonies that Washington insiders can relate to. Sarah Palin, who actually lives the life she praises, must make the insiders very nervous.

Presumably, the anonymous sources gave Balz the quotes he was looking for. Cowardly, they didn't use their names. Balz calls their cowardice being "candid." Who are these critics? How do we know they are worth taking seriously? Because Balz quoted them, that's why. Don't you just love that circular reasoning?

The more harrumphing I hear from Washington insiders, as relayed by their stenographers like Balz, the more I think McCain made the right choice with Sarah Palin. And the more I think the MSM is committing suicide by continuing to use the same recycled hackery most of us are sick of.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin's Choice

Overall, I am impressed with McCain's choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running-mate. She's a strong reformer, and the Republican Party in Alaska has long needed one. So does Washington, of course. She's geographically and politically nearly as far as you can get and still remain in the United States.

I don't like Palin's flirting with creationism. It's bad science, and I'm disappointed that she advocated it being taught along with evolution as an alternative. Scientists have used evolutionary theory to make many important discoveries, some far afield from biology.

Creationism has produced no scientific discoveries, and remains utterly without evidence, as even some backers of its offspring, intelligent design creationism, have admitted. Michael Medved, of the intelligent design outfit the Discovery Institute, made that clear recently: (emphasis and h/t from Little Green Footballs)

Q: Speaking of your desire for this kind of particularity, you are a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute that studies and believes in Intelligent Design. How do you, as an Orthodox Jew, reconcile with this kind of generality - with the view of their being a hierarchy with a chief “designer” - while believing in and praying to a very specific God?

The important thing about Intelligent Design is that it is not a theory - which is something I think they need to make more clear. Nor is Intelligent Design an explanation. Intelligent Design is a challenge. It’s a challenge to evolution. It does not replace evolution with something else.

Q: The question is not whether it replaces evolution, but whether it replaces God.

No, you see, Intelligent Design doesn’t tell you what is true; it tells you what is not true. It tells you that it cannot be that this whole process was random.

As is typical with the intelligent design creationists, Medved fails to comprehend that natural selection, as Darwin termed his theory, is not wholly random.

But while creationism is one of the dangerous anti-science idiocies found on the right, the far left has its own share of anti-science idiocies that may be even more deadly to science and human knowledge. Radical leftists like Obama's pal Bill Ayers explicitly champion an ideology-based teaching of science in which the search for facts by interrogating nature gives way to indoctrination:

In 1997, Ayers and his mentor Maxine Greene persuaded Teachers College Press to launch a series of books on social justice teaching, with Ayers as editor and Greene serving on the editorial board (along with Rashid Khalidi, loyal supporter of the Palestinian cause and the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University). Twelve volumes have appeared so far, including one titled Teaching Science for Social Justice.

Teaching science for social justice? Let Teachers College professor Angela Calabrese Barton, the volume’s principal author, try to explain: “The marriages between capitalism and education and capitalism and science have created a foundation for science education that emphasizes corporate values at the expense of social justice and human dignity.” The alternative? “Science pedagogy framed around social justice concerns can become a medium to transform individuals, schools, communities, the environment, and science itself, in ways that promote equity and social justice. Creating a science education that is transformative implies not only how science is a political activity but also the ways in which students might see and use science and science education in ways transformative of the institutional and interpersonal power structures that play a role in their lives.”

So while McCain's vice presidential pick has implicitly indicated sympathy for a movement that would undermine biology to support Christian fundamentalism, Obama's mentor has explicitly endorsed a movement that would eviscerate all of science so students can be brainwashed into anti-capitalistic America-haters.

I know which side I'm wholly not on.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

NPR's Cogent Politico-Historic Perspective

I just heard on an NPR convention segment about a new political phenomenon called the "hip-hop voter". As one twenty-something guy explained, these are young people who communicate and share their political beliefs such as opposing war through music.

I'm impressed with the depth of that trenchant analysis. There has never been anything like this in history. Why, go as far back as the '60s and you won't find anything like music being an organizing tool to protest war and the dominant American culture. The hip-hop voter is truly an amazing invention of today's youth, elucidated by NPR's astute, history-aware journalists.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Officially Hate Democrats -- Updated

Updated -- If the Obama folks can't figure out how to make a video play in Linux (see rant below), perhaps this example from YouTube will help them. Click to play.

I tried to watch Hillary's speech on the Democratic National Convention site, and this is what I got on my Linux computer.

There is no reason a video broadcast like that from the Democratic National Convention needs to be OS-specific. YouTube can deliver video for all operating systems, why can't the DNC? What about the poor (or intelligent) folks who don't use Micro$oft or Apple?

I'm guessing the DNC's omission of Linux was caused by bribes, er, contributions, politics, and general technological incompetence. Not very good from those who aspire to lead all the country.

Fair warning: If I get this kind of crap next week from the Republican convention, I'll also officially hate Republicans.

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Scott Thomas Beauchamp Reconsidered

Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the aspiring Hemingway who wrote articles in the New Republic alleging U.S. military insensitivity and brutality in Iraq, was discredited last year after his stories failed multiple tests of verification. The matter was settled, and the New Republic rather weaselly distanced itself from the articles without actually saying it retracted them.

But now the whole matter is re-opened. John E. Hatley, a U.S. soldier who bears the identical first, initial and last name of a soldier who disputed Beauchamp's stories has been identified by the Web site Moon of Alabama as the same soldier accused by his peers of covering up the murders of Iraqis.

Moon of Alabama says:

It is extremely unlikely that one battalion has two First Sergeants with the name John E. Hatley.

A few month after Hatley ordered and took part in the murdering of prisoners he denied some relative harmless though brutal behavior Beauchamp described, "this by no means reflects the truth of what is happening here." Indeed, what was really happening was much worse. The soldiers in his company (including himself?) were "the best America has to offer." Really?

The TNR should look into retracting its retraction of Beauchamp's accounts.

A few thoughts:
1: This allegation definitely requires investigation, not only by the New Republic, but especially by those organizations that investigated Beauchamp's claims and found them to be false.

2: Beauchamp could still have falsified his tales. He did not claim knowing of any murders that took place.

3: Whether or not Hatley is the same Hatley who disputed Beauchamp's stories, the murder allegation is far more serious than anything Beauchamp ever said. If the alleged murders took place, those organizations that mocked Beauchamp's stories on the grounds the military would never behave that way should eat large helpings of crow.

4: There will be a military investigation and quite possibly a trial of Hatley. Everything rides on that trial, if it takes place.

In regard to 4, Mike K. made these pertinent comments worth keeping in mind:

There have been a lot of similar allegations in Iraq, all of which have been disproved thus far. Haditha is one example. LT Pantano was another. Pantano was accused by a disgruntled sergeant he had demoted. All of the accused in those cases have been found not guilty, in spite of John Murtha's attempts to smear them.

This may suggest that Beauchamp was not as obvious a liar as he appeared but I would await events before getting too excited.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eye On Nature

This is nature, as captured by Dana. Click the photo to see more at her Pfabulous Photoblog.

Be it the gracious Mission Inn in Riverside, a colorful lorakeet or the parched Whitewater mountains, Dana captures the essence of the subject matter. In the case of the latter, a commenter accurately noted that the photos evoked searing heat.

Here's to looking at pictures of tropical fish -- photographed by Dana in Tahiti!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Good Wishes For Ody

We haven't heard from Odysseus "Ody", for some time. The Army officer was a longtime commenter on Cathy's World, and was heard from time to time on The Festering Swamp.

I saw Ody's name again as I was copying links to our new home on WordPress. That filled me with nostalgia and sadness. Although I some years ago had harsh words with him, I came to respect his dedication to the cause of rebuilding Iraq as a democracy, while still disagreeing on the wisdom of the Iraq war.

So if Ody is reading this, or his friends, here's good wishes for your success, personally and professionally, and for your wife and the World's Cutest Daughter. When you are able to do so, please let us know you're still around.

As our lately absent friend James (who I also wish well), would say . . . peace. And victory.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Precious And The Plagiarist

Barack Obama is one wily coyote. Besieged by character issues, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has firmly put those issues to rest by choosing as his running mate a liar and serial plagiarist.

Senator Joe Biden became famous 20 years ago for clumsily ripping off a speech by Neil Kinnock, a Labor Party challenger to Britain's Margaret Thatcher. The Conservative prime minister handily dispatched the lightweight Kinnock, and Biden's borrowings sunk his presidential quest. A neat symmetry there.

And now Biden's ethically challenged conduct will be brought up again. Biden himself is making sure this will happen. When asked whether he was Obama's choice, Biden lied, saying "I'm not the guy."

That lie is the perfect entree to many a media article, not to mention the inevitable Maureen Dowd column, picking apart Biden's history of lying and plagiarism, going back to his law school days.

From Beldar, with a hat tip to Patterico:

Got that? Biden stole someone else's legal scholarship, and passed it off as his own. He's lucky he wasn't expelled outright, but the F he received in that course as part of the penalty for his misconduct doesn't explain by itself how he managed to graduate only 76th out of 85 in his law school class.

(John McCain also graduated near the bottom of his class from Annapolis, and that also reflected a middling academic performance brought further down by conduct demerits — but McCain's misbehavior mostly reflected his unwillingness to submit to Naval Academy hazing, and none of it involved cheating or any other violations of the Academy's famous Honor Code.)

Biden's law school cheating might be discounted if he'd learned his lesson and lived an exemplary, plagiarism-free life thereafter. But of course, he didn't. His own first run for the presidency exploded in 1987 when he was caught repeatedly plagiarizing again, and simultaneously caught telling obvious lies about his academic record.

So now the press will be fixated with refreshing these memories for the benefit of today's voting public. This strategy is simply brilliant on Obama's part. The more attention devoted to Biden's ethically challenged record, and the less to Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, etc, the better for Obama.

And then there's the A-word: arrogance. Joe Biden loves the brilliance of Joe Biden. He's really, really smart. Just ask him! During his disastrous presidential run, Biden told a critical questioner: "I think I have a much higher IQ than you do."

The kicker is that really smart people know better than to go around boasting about their high IQs. By preening himself in public about his alleged intelligence, Biden showed that he's really rather dim. That's the S-word: stupidity.

Compared to Biden, Obama is not only humble, he's a Mensa charter member.

However, some of Obama's supporters who received text messages of Biden's selection don't appreciate his brilliance. They're annoyed because they got the message in the middle of the night.

It's 3:00 AM, and your children are safe and asleep...
...but there's a cell phone in the other room, and it's ringing. Must be one of your a**hole friends drunk-dialing you, or perhaps a wrong number from a different time zone. Wait, no: it's Barack Obama! He wants you to "be the first to know" something that CNN and the AP reported three hours ago: Joe Biden is his runningmate! . . .

. . . The Obama camp did an amazing job of keeping this secret all week, and especially all day yesterday, but they got greedy. They were never going to be able to keep it secret right up until a few hours before the rally. If they really wanted their supporters to "be the first to know," they needed to send the text yesterday evening during prime time, at the latest.

Instead, they waited too long, then panicked, and annoyed a bunch of supporters (and news/political junkies) in the process. Idiots.

Oh! The ingratitude of those who don't appreciate the brilliance of The Precious!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Bookmark This!

Ladies, gentlemen, archaea, bonobos and echidnas, here's a new bookmark for The Festering Swamp:

Remember, it's -- the the is important. Not just Festering Swamp, but The Festering Swamp.

I registered this domain name -- (with or without the www, it still works) -- yesterday, while Journalspace was on the blink. Right now, I am redirecting it to a Blogger site for The Festering Swamp crowd. That's the beauty of having one's own URL -- it can be redirected at will, and you, dear readers, won't have to make another bookmark. Redirection can be changed at will; it just takes a few hours for the change to percolate through the Internets.

Haloscan commenting will continue as abnormal (one problem at a time, folks!)

This is a mirror entry, also posted at Journalspace for those who don't know of the change, as well at the temporary new digs at Blogger. These new digs may become permanent. That is where your voice comes in.

The question is, do we still want to stay at Journalspace, despite its sometimes unreliable performance? I personally am reluctant, due to Journalspace's history as a home to Cathy Seipp, and due to the much-appreciated labors of David and Julie Scott, who built this Swamp, built this Swamp, built this Swamp . . . on rock 'n' roll -- sorry, wrong song!

Or do we take another location, such as the Blogger site we are currently redirected to? Do we move to WordPress? The options are many. I remember that Charlotte from South Africa had problems a while back accessing the Blogger backup site. I don't want to impair access by our Siren of the Antipodes.

What do you all think about this?

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Thursday, August 21, 2008


This is going to be our temporary refuge while The Festering Swamp is down on JournalSpace.

I am thinking of a more permanent fix, but comment here for now.

Here to kick off the discussion is this comment by Eric Blair about Richard Dawkins, science zealot and foe of religion:

Ah, that Richard Dawkins. Here are a few gems from his hit parade, Bradley. Let me start with my all time favorite:

"It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, "mad cow" disease, and many others, but I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate."
-- Richard Dawkins, The Humanist, Vol. 57, No. 1

"You cannot be both sane and well educated and disbelieve in evolution. The evidence is so strong that any sane, educated person has got to believe in evolution."
-- Richard Dawkins, in Lanny Swerdlow, "My Sort Interview with Richard Dawkins" (Portland, Oregon, 1996)

"To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used."
--Richard Dawkins, "Religion's Misguided Missiles" The Guardian, 15 September 2001.

...and my personal read it for yourself: l...wkins_21_3.html

My guess is that you are going to forgive Dawkins his extremism, snobbery, and what I consider to be straw man arguments. I too believe in evolution. But I am also a person who has faith in a Creator. So which of the three (or four) categories do I belong?

And by the way, I know John Endler, who tells..ah...a different version of that story. That is trouble with Dr. Dawkins, and I am far from the only scientist to have notice his thirst for media attention.

Remember, Bradley, that Dawkins is not just talking about people who think dinosaurs never existed, or the folks at the Discovery Institute. He also means people who do not believe his personal view of what evolution means.

Dawkins is a mirror image of the religious intolerance he says he detests. How he can go from a "meme" (!) suggesting that everyone is open to the idea of natural selection (as they should be) to how people who don't agree with his view as being stupid or insane boggles the mind. Oh, I left out "wicked."

I'm guessing that we will have to agree to disagree on this one, but I hope you will agree that Dawkins' stating that faith (not organized religion, I would remind you) is worse than plagues like AIDS, is easily the equal of your post.

Personally, I consider Dawkins' personal style, combativeness, and sneering arrogance to dwarf his prior sizable contributions to biology. He does great damage to the cause of evolutionary thought from a public point of view.

But then, William Shockley invented the transistor, and was also a raging racist.

Sigh. Not a good way to end the evening. But in digging through my files about dear old Dr. Dawkins, my mood soured.

I wonder how often Dr. Dawkins considers the old term "hubris"? Not often, I would wager.

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