Patterico's Pontifications

10/28/2008

A Little Non-Election Related Philosophical Distraction

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:32 pm

Man cannot live by politics alone, and Marc “Armed Liberal” Danziger and I were just having a discussion that ranged into the philosophical. I’ll quote him:

Stipulate that there is a small machine that I could put into your home or workplace that with absolute accuracy – I mean 100% accuracy – would send an alarm in the specific case that a person who had the true intent to commit murder. Yes, it’s Minority Report territory. But accept it as true.

Would you – as an American – be comfortable having something like that in your house?

I’m going to elaborate on this. The bottom line: you’re back in your college-level philosophy class.

By which I mean to say:

Yes, I understand that there is no such thing as 100% accuracy in human affairs. Never mind. It’s a hypothetical.

Yes, I understand that there are all sorts of killings, and not everything is “murder.” That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re dealing with the purely hypothetical situation where the alarm goes off only when there is an imminent killing that all rational people agree would be murder if carried out: a cold-blooded, evil, utterly unjustifiable killing. There is no conceivable way that its purpose could be expanded into some unrelated area.

It’s a hypothetical, folks. The alarm goes off only when such a killing is going to occur. There is no room for error.

Would you allow such a device in your home? Would you allow it to be placed in the home of all Americans?

Comments are open. Forget about this McCain and Obama nonsense and lose yourself in a philosophical discussion. Why not?

P.S. This does have something to do with the election — but we’re not going to explain it right now. For now, just stick with the basic philosophical question.

UPDATE: ACT OR INTENT?

Commenter Eric Blair asks whether this is a machine that a) sounds an alarm when it senses people with murderous intent, or b) sounds an alarm when someone is about to commit the act of murder?

I meant b. But I’m not sure what Marc meant. Let’s go with b. The machine doesn’t go off merely when it senses someone with bad intent. It activates only — and infallibly — when the act of murder is going to occur.

UPDATE x2: Mrs. P. says we should arrest anyone who won’t allow such a machine in their home. Good answer!

(She insists that I point out that she’s kidding.)

A Little Non-Election Humor

Filed under: General,Humor,Music — Patterico @ 8:39 pm

These literalist re-mixes, courtesy of Hot Air, are both very funny:

Politico: Is There Media Bias? So What?

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias — DRJ @ 8:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Politico’s Harris and VandeHei seem surprised that a Pew Research study suggests there is media bias against the McCain-Palin campaign, but they aren’t letting that keep them from their ultimate point: “So What?”

“OK, let’s just get this over with: Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico.

And, yes, based on a combined 35 years in the news business we’d take an educated guess — nothing so scientific as a Pew study — that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election. Most political journalists we know are centrists — instinctually skeptical of ideological zealotry — but with at least a mild liberal tilt to their thinking, particularly on social issues.

So what?”

At times, the one-sidedness makes even the Politico folks “cringe” but they try not to focus on that. Instead, they think the whole media bias topic is a “drag” and even if there is media bias, it’s not an issue in this race because McCain’s campaign is going poorly and Obama’s campaign is going well. As Harris and VandeHei put it: “Imposing artificial balance on this reality would be a bias of its own.”

What can I add to that? It’s such a bad explanation that I can only laugh. And as we used to say in the old days, I’m not laughing with them, I’m laughing at them.

— DRJ

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: This is a good place to note that Slate has announced the results of its traditional survey of its staffers’ presidential picks. The overwhelming winner this year: Obama. The overwhelming winner in 2004: Kerry. The overwhelming winner in 2000: Gore.

Although it’s funny in its own way, I admire Slate for doing this. It’s no surprise to any honest person that most journalists are Democrats. I appreciate transparency in the media, and Slate provides it with this feature.

It’s also amusing to watch a crew of Democrats justifying their decisions. Some are honest and just say “I always vote for the Democrat.” Some others, however, are entertaining in their rationalizations, like the people who say they’re voting for Obama because of his calmness — as if they wouldn’t vote for Howard “YEEEARGH!” Dean over Fred “ZZZZZZZZZ” Thompson.

UPDATE x2: Now Mark Halperin is whining about alleged bias on Drudge. Sheesh.

UPDATE x3 by DRJ: Don’t miss this comment from Karl.

Its A Good Thing for Obama That Helen Jones-Kelly Isn’t a Republican Working For The Hawaii Department of Health

Filed under: General — WLS @ 6:49 pm

[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]

Apparently, in Ohio if you ask a political candidate a question, that’s sufficient “probable cause” to generate an inquiry by state officials into whether or not you’re delinquent on your child support payments.

Helen Jones-Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, confirmed today that she OK’d the check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher following the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

She said there were no political reasons for the check on the sudden presidential campaign fixture though the Support Enforcement Tracking System.

Amid questions from the media and others about “Joe the Plumber,” Jones-Kelley said she approved a check to determine if he was current on any ordered child-support payments.

Such information was not and cannot be publicly shared, she said. It is unclear if Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case. Reports state that he lives alone with a 13-year-old son.

“Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look” at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support. “Our practice is to basically look at what is coming our way.”

If Jones-Kelly was a Republican working for the Hawaii Department of Health, the country might be able to see a copy of Obama’s birth certificate — he has, after all, been “thrust quickly into the public spotlight.”

Ace notes that she also happens to be a maxed-out Obama campaign donor.

— WLS Shipwrecked

Howard Fineman’s Advice To The Obama Campaign: “Stop Telling The Truth”

Filed under: General — WLS @ 6:24 pm

[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]

Isn’t this just perfect. Formerly reputable newsman, now regular on Countdown, publishes an advice column today for the Obama campaign and its supporters: “STOP TELLING THE TRUTH.”

Here’s my advice to Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters: Stop predicting that the Democrats will sweep into the White House and Congress come January with a mandate to expand Big Government. That prospect, coupled with some of your candidate’s own tax and health-care plans, could scare swing voters you need next Tuesday…. [H]e also needs to reassure voters that he will not necessarily march in lockstep with resurgent Democrats who will want to launch a top-to-bottom New New Deal and reverse the Reagan Revolution 28 years after it took place.

He doesn’t? When has he ever broken step with the policy agenda of his party?

Fineman, a fitting representative of a once (long ago) honorable press corps, is sounding the alarm that the public shouldn’t know too much about what the Dems have in store — lest they decide they’re not too thrilled about it after all.

— WLS Shipwrecked

A Hateful Simulation of Violence Against . . . Guess Who?

Filed under: 2008 Election,Scum — Patterico @ 5:58 pm

In West Hollywood, a gay couple has hung Sarah Palin in effigy. It’s not a hate crime because a) it’s Halloween and b) it’s not Barack Obama. View a photo of this lovely display here.

Then go back to fretting about the ugliness of those damn Republicans.

Let’s Revisit The Math As It Pertains To Obama Winning By Less Than 53-47 Nationwide, And How That Might Be Reflected In The Electoral College

Filed under: General — WLS @ 5:16 pm

[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]

About two weeks ago I posted something I called Revenge-of-the-small- states II which laid out a scenario by which Obama could win the nationwide electoral vote by as many as 4 points, completely consistent with current nationwide tracking polls, yet still lose the electoral college because of the over-representation in it by small states — by virtue of the fact that each small state has the same number of electors for its Senators as do the big states. California has 55 electoral votes, and in 2004 there were 12,260,00 votes cast for President. Thus, each electoral vote “represented” 222,900 voters.

Wyoming had 3 electoral votes, and in 2004 there were 238,000 votes cast for President. Thus, each electoral vote represented 79,468 voters. Each voter in Wyoming had 3 times the electoral impact on the election for President as did each voter in California.

So, what does this portend for a week from today? Well, as is commonly cited by the political punditry, the election of a President is actually the outcome of elections in 50 different states as well as in Washington D.C. At the end of the day, you can add up those 51 elections and come up with a total margin of victory nationwide. The question remains whether that margin of victory nationwide can be neatly correlated with pre-election nationwide tracking polls. Assuming that it can — and assuming that Obama wins 52-48, which is consistent with many of the tracking polls (I’ve been disregarding any of the media polls showing a 10+ point lead as simply not believable in the current partisan environment), Obama’s overall margin of “victory” in the gross vote total will likely be somewhere between 8 and 10 million votes, depending upon turnout.

But, if you consider where he is likely to roll-up a substantial majority of that margin, you have to wonder about the outcome in the battleground states.

(more…)

Oscar Wyatt Update

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 1:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In October 2007, Houston oilman Oscar Wyatt entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud after admitting he had arranged for an illegal $200,000 payment to the government of Saddam Hussein. Last November, 83-year-old Wyatt was sentenced to one year and one day in jail and forfeiture of $11M. He was ordered to report to a Texas prison on January 2, 2008.

Now the Houston Chronicle reports Wyatt has been released from a halfway house to his home where he will serve the remainder of his sentence:

“Wyatt was sentenced to a year in prison, but his sentence has been trimmed because of good behavior.

During the day, Wyatt reports to a local law firm for his work assignment, where he is able to have lunch with friends. And rather than sleep at a halfway house, he is allowed to spend the nights at home.

He has not been required to wear an ankle bracelet, [wife] Lynn Wyatt said.”

His attorney approvingly noted Wyatt has “weathered the storm” of his incarceration.

I don’t know how long Wyatt was in prison before he was transferred to a halfway house and I don’t know how his health may have figured into his release, but Wyatt’s current schedule sounds like an average businessman’s day: Work, lunch with friends, work, and then home to his own bed.

I don’t see the point in imposing prison sentences on white collar criminals if this is typical.

— DRJ

Pelosi: A Congress Filled with Even More Democrats Will Be More “Bipartisan”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:22 am

When Democrats say “bipartisan,” they mean “we win”:

“Elect us, hold us accountable, and make a judgment and then go from there. But I do tell you that if the Democrats win and have substantial majorities, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan,” said Pelosi.

Yuh-huh.

Via Drudge.

Patterico.com Is Back!

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 6:33 am

In a rare victory for the Little Guy against the Big Corporation, it appears that 1&1 has decided to do the right thing and give me back my domain patterico.com.

The whois entry for patterico.com now comes back to 1&1’s private registration address on my behalf. My site admin was able to redirect the IP address yesterday, and a 1&1 representative made the DNS changes. I’m able to reach the site by going to patterico.com (which we’re still temporarily redirecting to patterico.net for technical reasons).

According to the 1&1 representative who called me, he got involved in the process because he had been contacted by the PR agency for 1&1 and Sedo, which had received inquiries and interest from various journalists. Those journalists include journalist and screenwriter Bruce Feirstein, Fox News’s Ken LaCorte and Maxim Lott, and Andrew Breitbart of the Drudge Report. I feel that my domain was saved by the interest these journalists showed in the story, and I am grateful to them for their efforts to investigate a story about a big corporation pushing around the “little guy.”

Also, it was a tremendous boon when Glenn Reynolds linked my cry for help.

I very much appreciate the tremendous help I received from countless people, including the bloggers who linked the story, the people who sent 1&1 angry letters, the lawyers and law students who donated their time to walk me through the legal process, the people who sent donations, and everyone else who lent their moral support and other help and encouragement.

I am still interested in investigating whether this has happened to others in a similar fashion. If you hear of any such stories, please pass them along. Be aware that I am now stuck with 1&1 for 60 days; this is a general ICANN rule and can’t be changed. Once I finally get out of their clutches, I’ll consider what else to do, if anything.

P.S. Until the recent DNS changes fully propagate through the Internet, we’re going to keep up the automatic redirect to patterico.net. Within the next day or two, we’ll change the redirect so that it automatically redirects from patterico.net to patterico.com. You shouldn’t notice any real problems either way, but if you can reach patterico.com now, feel free to use your old bookmarks and links.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out.


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