I don't really have time for blogging or politics lately, but this blog gets a surprising number of hits.  I realize some of these are from the Weinergate conspiracy theorists who hate my friend Patterico and creep over anything any of his fans say and do, but just in case some of the people reading this blog are interested, I wanted to note that I support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president.

Those who know me personally know I wasn't pleased that Romney was nominated.  I liked Rick Perry's balanced budget and felt he was more reliable on policies.  But Mitt Romney's campaign shows seriousness, and as the RNC's advert above helpfully shows: Obama's does not.

We need to cut spending, and we need to reduce some of the regulations and taxation on businesses that  have greatly damaged the economy.

So there's my view on the presidential election.  Dan RiehlPatterico, and Robert Stacy Mccain have much better analysis than I have the time or ability to provide, if you wish to learn more.


Not this again

Says Jeff Goldstein of Patterico:

In addition to what I believe was a behind the scenes whisper campaign against me, this honorable man made, later on, an unsubstantiated claim, publicly, that I’d been sent some sort of legal document for the email harassment of some unnamed party. I immediately called on him to release the letter, release copies of the emails, or any proof that any such incident ever happened, such a letter was ever drafted or sent, or that I’d ever received it. He didn’t. The truth is, I never received any such letter because none was ever sent. There were no harrassing emails. And there was no real complainant. But, as an honorable man, the prosecutor couldn’t release the name of the supposed aggrieved, who told the prosecutor, the prosecutor then told us, s/he didn’t wish to be named.

So I contacted the prosecutor’s office and demanded they look into it. The fact of that call was then used, I’d bet, to further build the narrative that I was so crazed and vindictive — and so bent on destroying an honorable man who just wanted to be left alone to prosecute gangbangers and cop killers — that I’d tried to cost him his job!

SEK comes forward:

He’s wrong. I did, and do exist. I’d been receiving daily, occasionally hourly, harassing emails from someone claiming to be Jeff. After getting fed up with having to deal with them, I did have a lawyer send a cease-and-desist warning to the address Jeff had provided me during this book event at the Valve. I mentioned this to Frey at some point, but I never gave him copies of the original emails or the warning, on the advice of my lawyer. Given that the emails stopped after I sent the letter, I was reluctant to identify myself for fear they’d start up again, but at this point, years removed, I doubt they will. So, there you have … something. I’m not sure what, but if it means I’m going to be receiving angry emails from Jeff again, I’ll likely regret having written this.

Patterico honored his promise not to expose SEK's name publicly (just to avoid the possible misunderstanding, Pat certainly never told me, either).

It's unfortunate that Jeff took his feud with Patterico into the real world by calling Pat'semployer and demanding an investigation based on something Patterico told the truth about.  Jeff insists he was not going after Pat's job and that to say so is to be part of a conspiracy to ostracize Jeff.  Jeff is a 'stay at home dad', so he may not be able to understand this, but pretend your boss got a call today while you're hard at work and it's Jeff demanding an investigation of why you lied (when you told the truth).  Would you think Jeff was trying to help you get a promotion?

Anyway, it actually gets worse.  Patterico is the target of smears from people who claim the mantle of "anonymous" as though it's their personal army and not simply a way to mask ID for deeds either good or evil.  They have gone after people at work, contacting the employers of Liberty Chick, Aaron Worthing, and Patterico, and making false accusations while demanding investigations or termination.  The escalation included attacks on his family, such as a hoax known as "SWATting" and also harassing comments expressing a desire to physically harm Patterico and his wife.  Most people reading this know that.  I won't elaborate.

The bad guys also spread disinformation, often with some element of truth twisted in to make the lie a little more difficult to suss out.  They've successfully smeared a lot of people.  They've successfully created a great deal of discord and mistrust.  It's no surprise that Jeff, who already had a great deal of animosity towards Patterico, would be susceptible too.

For some time, it's been clear they are trying to provoke Jeff G and Patterico into feuding again.  And it worked:

Now, to make this as pointed as possible:  a state prosecutor, in an online chat with a rather dubious character, broached the idea of using the hacker group Anonymous to harm me, my site, and so my livelihood — and left it up to Barrett and those he said he’d contact in Anonymous to decide on the actual mischief to be done, because, as the prosecutor notes in the chat, he doesn’t want to hear in advance about anything illegal.
Legal training. Bases covered. Plausible deniability.

This post isn’t meant as a long whine, or a complaint, or even really an explanation.  As I wrote earlier, it is more of an unburdening, and the making public of things that I’ve come to learn over the last few years.  It is not meant to open up old wounds. Finding out that I a public official was open to having Anonymous come after me was all that was needed for that to happen, but I held my tongue, because I knew the release of that tidbit was timed to problematize  [the prosecutor's] work combating the lawfare campaign against Aaron Walker and others.

If Jeff was holding his tongue to help Aaron, what caused him to stop doing so?  Patterico isn't mentioning this.  Jeff's citing as responsible something that was written 587 days ago.

I wanted to share my observations of the chat logs:

1) Patterico is frustrated with Jeff's google bomb smear.  

I considered the matter settled when Jeff deleted the post.  Here's the old link.  It no longer works.  You can get the impression of the google bomb here:

There's two sides to this: Jeff and his commenters seem earnestly convinced that this is defensible satire.  They claim accusations of antisemitism based on nothing... completely malicious and untrue, combined with a prosecutor's full name and job title and employer, is legit satire of Patterico criticizing a comment.  They say this is because it isn't possible to describe a comment as racist without describing the author as a racist.  They say that when Patterico goes on and on saying he is not describing the author as a racist that this is worse because despite Pat's claims, they are sure he was, and thus he is even lying about what he's doing!  It's very strange.

But they have to do that.  They have to make this false accusation in order to use that false accusation to justify doing what they are decrying.  As justice.  That they just said it was wrong never enters into the equation.  Apparently their twisted and bizarre version of what Patterico did is OK if they are doing it.

I asked Jeff many times why he needed to condemn Patterico by name instead of by his blog handle.  Patterico doesn't make his online comments by any other name than Patterico.  They are satirizing Pat's blogging, not his day job, right?  I asked Jeff many times why he needed to link this accusation endlessly.  How does this improve the satire?  It seems only to help 'teach him a lesson' by increasing the IRL damage done by the 'satire'.  As it worked out, people googling "Patterico" and familiar with the blog wouldn't even see the smear.  Just people who googled him by name and/or job.  In short, it's bullying.

Anyway, summary of this point is that there was a massive google bomb and Patterico was angry.  Colleagues were actually asking him about it.

2) Barrett Brown broaches the idea of helping Patterico with these search results. 

12:42 AM Patrick: No, it's a link to another post that would take
hours to debunk even though it's utter bullshit
me: oic
That can be changed
by one of several methods
12:43 AM Patrick: Oh?
me: yep

Jeff is mistaken to say Pat broached it, but that's the spin Barrett and Neal et al are providing and I understand the uncharitable are ready believe what they are told to believe.  the log starts with Pat complaining about these posts, and when Barrett says "that can be changed", that's where it's broached.  Pat's response "oh?" doesn't sound like he was talking about it anywhere earlier.

3) Patterico makes clear he's not signing on to anything unlawful.  

Jeff says this is 'covering his bases'.  Well, it's also what Pat actually said.  If Jeff's just going to insist that Patterico was lying in the chat log, we are no longer relying on the chat log as a source.  We're relying on Jeff's good faith ability to divine Patterico's mental state.  I think the literal interpretation of what Pat said makes more sense.

But Barrett says:
"what if it's legal... but"
That's the payoff intended from the clips being where they were.  It's telling that the worst parts aren't Patterico.  If there was something actually showing what they would insinuate, they would have posted it.  "Legal... but" could mean having a Google employee manually reduce the rank of the smears (or anything creative but not illegal).  I guess it could mean another google bomb of Patterico's name, associating him with something more innocuous.   Legal doesn't mean hacking or harassing people. Let's look again at Jeff's summary.

a state prosecutor, in an online chat with a rather dubious character, broached the idea of using the hacker group Anonymous to harm me, my site, and so my livelihood — and left it up to Barrett and those he said he’d contact in Anonymous to decide on the actual mischief to be done, because, as the prosecutor notes in the chat, he doesn’t want to hear in advance about anything illegal.

Nearly every aspect of this summary is incorrect.   Pat did not broach, did not mention any harm to Jeff's website, self, or career, and repeatedly disclaimed anything illegal.  Pat did not say he merely didn't want to hear about crimes in advance.  He disclaimed anything illegal from happening at all, and his comments plainly related to reducing the impact of Jeff's google bomb. 

Barrett on the other hand... he seemed to want to steer the conversation elsewhere, but oddly doesn't 'go there' on his own.  It sounds to me like he was trying to goad Patterico into asking for some kind of illicit favor.  He wasn't able to, but I guess he can pretend he did and at least one guy will buy it.

Yeah, I'll grant Jeff's right that Patterico was likely telling many people he had a problem with Jeff's behavior.  Contacting employers and google bombs aren't cool.  I think the entire conservative blogosphere hates that feud.  Jeff's behavior doesn't hold a candle to the evil that Patterico has faced more recently, and it doesn't hold a candle to what Jeff's family had to deal with either.  Let's go back to ignoring eachother.


Real Man of Genius, Revealed!

I'm trying to read this sentence from another blogger's post I'm considering writing some reactions to:

"Because this way of thinking, inasmuch as it leads to the institutionalization of collectivist thought by way of our very epistemological assumptions (along with the ever-widening scope of “plausible” or “legitimate” palimpsests of interpretations by courts that are themselves merely newly expanded layers placed atop older, “plausible” or “legitimate” interpretations, many of which turn on incoherent hermeneutics)" is, I’ve been arguing for over a decade here now, the foundation for the destabilization of our form of governance."


Police officer responding to vicious dog complaint rescues the dog.

Via Modified K9, a police officer shows restraint, initiative, and compassion.  He's like almost every police officer I've met, but every day examples of altruism don't seem as newsworthy in our culture of righteous indignation.

Read the whole thing and be appreciative of people like Dan Waskiewicz.


Interpreting Islam

I care a great deal about the Middle East, and not merely the popular issues relating to national security and human rights. I care mostly about the amazing history. I've studied it both in and out of the classroom for about a decade.

I am critical of religious extremism and terrorism. I've heard it said that such criticism of what I call "Islamofascism" is "hate blogging".  That's such a radical misunderstanding I often suspect bad faith, but regardless, it's best explained.

Islam is a part of my heritage. A part of my memories growing up as a child. A major part of the lives of people I respect, trust, and love. I do not believe that Islam is evil. I believe that a particular interpretation of Islam is evil, corrosive to women's rights, and unfair to most people. Indeed I believe the victims of this interpretation are mostly Muslim.

I have a Quran that belonged to generations in my family before me and will belong to generations after. It's the oldest thing I own. Though I am not a Muslim (I am Christian), I am sensitive to generalizations of Middle Eastern people and Muslims. An extreme, yet real example is the idea that if you criticize the Muslim terrorist, you must hate all Muslims. The people who make that claim delude themselves into thinking they are showing sensitivity, but the reality is that they are exposing their bigotry.

Freedom of speech is a powerful issue to anyone opining online. It's a huge issue for anyone interested in a freer Middle East.

 Millions of Muslims believe it is great to honor their Prophet Mohammed in this way:

Caption: There is no god but God, and Muhammad is His Prophet.

And just as many love the above imagery, many Muslims have decided that it is wrong to depict Mohammed at all (the Quran doesn't mention this). This diversity of opinion is fine with me. If someone does not wish to have, make, or show pictures of someone, that's none of our business.

However, good people do not condone violence taken against those who depict Mohammed. I do not condone violence against Shiites or claims that they are enemies of all Muslims, either.  And I reject the claim that the practice of depicting Mohammed is "hate". In fact, many people have drawn Mohammed simply to show defiance against violent threats against his depiction. That's respect for human life; the very opposite of hate.

Our tolerance of stimulus like South Park's episodes mocking each of our respective faiths (They have mocked nearly all major views by now) is a necessary component of a peaceful world. Those who call this tolerance "hate" are deluding themselves. Those who claim condemning terrorists is the same as hating Islam are particularly disgusting, as their inability to separate the concepts betrays their own bigotry against Muslims.  They should learn.

What is Islam?

1. Having faith that Mohammed was the prophet of the sole god Allah.
2. Praying to Allah five times, every day
3. Following Ramadan's tradition of daytime fasting
4. Caring for the poor
5. Making your way to Mecca

It's not about demanding South Park not show a cartoon. It's not about killing those who disagree or even criticize those who used religion as an excuse to hurt people. It's not about treating your wife, sister, mother, or women in your community like they are subhuman, either. These aspects are things that no Muslim I know (and I've known many) practice. These people practice the five pillars and  stand second to none in their faith and love for their religion.

In every group that gets large enough, we will find those who seek to domineer. They won't be happy if everyone agrees, because they wish to elevate themselves. So they constantly find reasons to say others aren't doing things right. New revelations. Over emphasis on minutiae. And hate. We see this in Christianity, we see it in academia, we see it in our professions, and we see it with Islam as well. It's so bad that I've seen posters insisting all Shiites are the enemies of Islam. In fact, this rift between Sunni and Shiite has a bloody origin (relating directly to power over the religion), and the violence has not stopped today. I believe this is at the center of the contemporary command not to depict Mohammed.

Read over the five pillars of Islam. One can lead a selfless life, concerned for the poor and mindful of one's spiritual connection with God and the miracle of a Prophet, and never take up arms against those who don't have the same faith. The vast majority of Muslims prove I'm right. It is just as the vast majority of Christians live in peace. If you are a Christian, remember the last time you read or saw a ridiculous caricature of Christians as judgmental and hateful.  There are examples of judgmental and hateful Christians.  But is that Christianity?  No.  But most who know this know it because they have seen Christianity in peaceful, loving practice, concerned entirely with improving our lives and souls as praise to God.

Key to the future of Islam is rejection of the idea that there is 'one true Islam'. Through prayer, the individual can seek the interpretation that is best, instead of letting thugs crush competing interpretations (and then come up with a new reason for a new rift and a new power struggle over and over again).  This way, like with reforms in Judaism and Christianity, certain views will tend to gain ground against others in a way I believe has generally been an improvement over the centuries.