Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Great Harold Lewis Resignation Non-Event.

I followed the global warming discussions, back when it was a true controversy among climatologists, probably from about 1980 to some time in the 90s -- casually, not being invested one way or the other -- picking up Scientific American in the doctor's office or when I was in a library.  Like other scientific debates it went from "Hey, some people think this and have this evidence" to "Looks rather convincing" to Yeah, but ..." to "Yeah, it's probably true" to "Everybody who can read the literature is convinced". It was a normal scientific debate, it went from speculations to apparent solidity much the same way the continental drift debate went a couple of decades earlier. Now I did, just the other day, see a guy in a ballcap that "Stop Plate Tectonics", but I suspect he was being ironic. Climate change didn't seem particularly political back then. When did it turn into the supposed giant conspiracy?

Hal Lewis may be quite competent for an ex-physics professor of no great distinction who's been retired probably 20 years, or he may be losing his marbles. It's not uncommon at that age for even truly brilliant people to get somewhat obsessed with how bizarrely different the world looks from when they were young and think it's all going to Hell in a hand-basket. Hell it's hard for me to think about "hooking up", and it pains me to hear someone say "one of the only" -- an expression people didn't use 15-20 years ago (It is tending to replace "One of the few").

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Detailed Thoughts on Possibility of Unmasking Phoney-Folksy (and full of clever deception) Emails:

This is an email to Timothy Jost, who appeared on NPR Morning Edition to discuss how "Death Panel" and other wild myths got spread about the healthcare reform act.

(Emails from an unsuccessful attempt in 9/2010 at some anti-propaganda action.)

                                                                                        Sat, 4 Sep 2010
I listened with interest to what you had to say with Julie Rovner on Morning Edition, 9/3. I'm glad you are looking into this matter, but I don't think it is as simple as "People combing the Web found these microchips and saw this implantable medical device registry as an attempt to implant microchips in people," Jost says. "And then the rumor expanded to say that all people who signed up for the public plan that was in that bill would have to have a microchip implanted."

My belief, based on what I've seen, is that these wild rumors get much, and possibly most of their strength from carefully planted disinformation which looks to people like "Email from a friend of a friend". I am 58 years old and have never seen such wide belief in preposterous claims (nearly all of which seem aimed at bringing down the Obama presidency and/or Democrat majority in Congress).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Latest in Email "News" Madness

Over the last months, I have tried to shed some light on photographic "proofs" that
(1) the President will not salute or make any gesture when the National Anthem is Played
(2) Gaza Palestinians held a mass marraige of 450 grown men to girls under the age of 10, and
(3) a couple of Texas Muslim Shopkeepers Posted notice on their store window that they were taking the day off to celebrate the martyrdom on one of the 9/11 suicide hijackers
(named "Imam Ali" -- who actually died in the 8th century, not on 9/11/2001).

So what's the latest? Well, there is this claim that "President Obama's finance team and Nancy Pelosi are recommending a 1% transaction tax on all financial transactions.". This is prefaced with
"I checked this out on and it is mostly TRUE!! This is just astonishing! When are we going to get this IDIOT out ..."
Actually, what "TruthOrFiction" Reports is that there is such a proposal -- NOT that it is being pushed by the Obama Team or Pelosi, but rather "The bill was sponsored (and introduced on 2/23/2010) by Democratic Congressional Representative Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania and says that it is to "establish a fee on transactions which would eliminate the national debt and replace the income tax on individuals.". So the truth is that there is one crackpot Democrat (the bill has only one sponsor) who thinks putting a 1% tax on each and every financial transaction (ATM withdraways, checks, any sale whatsovever ...) will pay off the national debt while allowing income tax to be abolished, which actually, if it were true, would be good news. Nancy Pelosi may have said, back in December 2009 (before it was introduced?) that it "had some merit -- This, according to "Real Clear Politics". If this was introduced in February 2010, and has gone nowhere, why are we hearing about it now? Because it's been so long since it was last floated about that most email recipients will have forgotten about it by now. This is a common tactic. We get links to YouTube videos with no date, denouncing some immigration bill. Why no date? Because it was introduced in 2007 and supported by Bush, and has nothing to do with the present and President Obama.

I should say something about the "Sic-ing the UN or poor Arizona". Yes, the US is complying with a UN resolution for nations to submit statements about their human rights records. Try actually reading the "29-page Universal Periodic Review". It is mostly full of how wonderful American freedoms are. E.g.:

... the most enduring contribution of the United States has been as a political experiment. The principles that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights were translated into promises and, with time, encoded into law. These simple but powerful principles have been the foundation upon which we have built the institutions of a modern state that is accountable to its citizens and whose laws are both legitimated by and limited by an enduring commitment to respect the rights of individuals. It is our political system that enables our economy and undergirds our global influence. As President Obama wrote in the preface to the recently published National Security Strategy, "democracy does not merely represent our better angels, it stands in opposition to aggression and injustice, and our support for universal rights is both fundamental to American leadership and a source of our strength in the world."...
Somewhere, it mentions Arizona:
A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.
This is the sole reference to the Arizona Law -- a far cry from inviting the UN to send attack helicoptors to Arizona.
More to come, probably, but I have to stop for now and try to make a living.


Friday, October 1, 2010

"Obama Crotch Salute": Lies, Damned Lies and Right WIng Forwards

A recent posting on this blog:
"Mass Muslim Marriage in Gaza 450 Grooms Wed GIRLS Under Ten In Gaza"( illustrated how real news photos can be used to illustrate totally made up stories.

I use the expression "Right Wing Forward" to refer to a phenomenon I explained inMy Not-Really Right-Wing Mom and her Adventures in Email-Land
Of course not all misleading forwarded emails come from right wing, or whatever you would call it, sources.

NPR's "On the Media" radio magazine did a story on false rumor-mongering emails, and (bending over backwards to be "fair-minded", IMHO), they only mentioned a spate of email slurs against Sarah Palin. Such slurs were very much in the news just after the Palin nomination.  Still, if there is a well-oiled machine for putting out patently untrue Left Wing attack emails by the hundreds, please show me some evidence.

Re the use of the term "Right Wingers"-- to me, whoever is responsible these emails (not to mention the more extreme blogs) behave more like 60s/70s "Yippees", and they want to tear down existing institutions and traditions, so I am unable to call them conservatives. Frankly, conservativism is something we could use, but there are precious few real conservatives left -- certainly very few to be found in the Republican party.

Anyway, I wanted to show another example of the tactic used in a whole class of emails, of pairing real news photos with made-up stories to which too many people have the reaction"Pictures don't lie" and accept the whole story.

The most recent "Crotch Salute" email consisted of a picture and a one-paragraph preface:
At the Ft. Hood Memorial Service.
The Crotch Salute Returns.....
I'm sorry folks, but is this the turkey that was elected President of our
country? You know, the United States of America ? I do believe that
saluting the flag goes with that, and also to honor the servicemen who died, or
is he above that? Shower us all with flowery words and dazzle us with B.S.
but actions speak louder.
This stinks!!!

and it claims to illustrate the myth that Obama pointedly fails to salute or cross his heart when the national anthem is played.

Supposedly, it shows Obama at the Fort Hood shooting memorial service, but it is the same picture used earlier to make the same claim about a Veterans' Day, 2009 ceremony.

In the previous use of the same picture, the text says:
Subject: Picture from last week's Veterans Day Ceremony
Check out this latest picture from Veterans Day Ceremony, 11/11/09, Arlington National Cemetery. It may be the National Anthem or the Flag being presented, but EVERYBODY in the picture is either saluting or has his hand over the HEART ... except ONE.
You form your own opinion.
The picture has been traced to newsreel footage of Obama standing with his hands folded in front of him (hence "crotch salute"), while as one can tell by viewing the full footage, "Hail to the Chief" is being played, and 3 officers on the stand are saluting and one civilian has his hand over his heart.

Feel free to dispute what is really going on in the picture, but I offer a couple of refutations of the claims in the emails:


"Sodahead", which seems to be if anything anti-Obama, had presented one variant of this email with no comment, implying agreement with its message, but tucked in among the many expressions of outrage at the "disrespectful" president, was this comment, presented in full:

I have to interject, not because I support BHO (Obama) , but because there are so many real things to be upset about. The left can ignore the REAL issues when false rumors are spread that have been discredited by snopes, urbanlegends, and ever other fact checking site (and backed up by actual video of the events). It gives them ammunition and could lend credence to libs who argue that those opposed to Obama are just extremists who will 1. lie to manipulate the public and 2. say and believe anything.It doesn't help the cause and makes us seem like loons.

The pictures were taken at the Wreath Laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day, 2009. It was taken as Hail to the Chief was playing just as he took his place on the stage. They were saluting him, and whether we like it or not, it's not appropriate for
him to salute himself. You can verify this yourself if you fast forward to 11minutes into the ceremony: video of the whole ceremony is at

Again, whether we like it or not (and I think we all can agree that we SHOULD like it when the president behaves appropriately), he saluted at all the right points and put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. He did this both at the Memorial day ceremony AND at
the Ft Hood ceremony (video of that is at and on Fox).

We need to cross check and double check everything before we post. Although I believed it too when I first saw the photos, I realize that the more honest and forthright we are, the better our own moral standing when it comes to fighting the things that are truly wrong and devastating to our country.

In case you think I'm just making up a random defense, please watch the videos and search the internet for keywords: "ft hood" obama salute (you can add "hoax" or "snopes" to see related videos and to see photos of moments before and this one was taken.

Please don't flame me...I believe that the number one hope for America right now is that people are willing to research claims and discover the truth. I just want what they read from us to be 100% true, in contrast to the lies they may discover when they research things 'political leaders' have said or even what they hear from the mainstream media.

I've already sent a correction out to everyone I forwarded this to (and I forwarded the email I got to my entire mailing list!!). I think it'd be a good idea for us all to do that, because when they discover someone lied about the date and the events, some people will assume we're liars, will shut down, and won't listen to anything else.
If I thought this kind of thing was being turned out by an uncoordinated set of individuals misunderstanding the news, or it could be explained by the "telephone effect" -- each time you retell a story it is likely to get embellished until it bears no resemblance to the original -- I'd say it's sad but what can we do?
Granted, I believe many anti-liberal emails are indeed written by regular people exorcizing their outrage and displaying their cleverness -- e.g. Obama in a beret which is actually a giant acorn cap.  But I think it takes a different sort of person to turn out such cleverly constructed deceptions.
But I have just seen far too many such emails full of deliberate deceptions and lies which are uniformly well written with no spelling errors and the deceptions are very clever. Emails like this are not the work of amateurs.