Morning Links

Thursday, May 26th, 2011
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93 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Juice | 

    As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information.

    As a member of Congress, you can disclose whatever the F you want.

  2. #2 |  skunky | 

    best part about the “OMG BIDEN DIDN’T CLAP AT EVERYTHING BIBI SAID” story is they’re not even sure he didn’t clap. They think he MIGHT had not clapped. When will this idiocy end?

  3. #3 |  Robert | 

    He died just 50 Meters from the top? Damn. That’s just adding insult to injury there….

  4. #4 |  hamburglar007 | 

    Before the law stands a doorkeeper…

  5. #5 |  Matt | 

    The clap-gate column is idiotic, but where is it claimed that Biden is anti-Semitic?

  6. #6 |  skunky | 

    @Matt if you do not unquestioningly support Israel ipso facto you are anti-semitic. and by being anti-semitic, you are in league with Nazis, or could possibly be one. It is a corollary of Godwin’s law.

  7. #7 |  Marty | 

    #3- AND his wife just gave birth to a child that he hadn’t met. this blows my mind- he’s the ceo of a company, with the means to do as he pleases, and he chooses to do EVEREST while his wife is giving birth?
    pretty mind blowing.
    Condolences to the family and I gotta tip my hat to this guy- looks like he lived a full tilt life.

  8. #8 |  Matt | 

    Right, I know some people do that, but I don’t see where the columnist says Biden is an anti-Semite.

  9. #9 |  Mattocracy | 

    I don’t know that I would clap for a guy who’s country receives more of my tax dollars than all the welfare recipients in my country combined.

  10. #10 |  freedomfan | 

    The article on the USA PATRIOT Act was tantalizing, if not especially informative. (Sorry for the all caps, but I like to emphasize that the name is an actual acronym for the seventeen-word title to the law, which some legislative clown spent time fitting to those letters to ameliorate its noxious content.) I recommend going to the actual Wired article for a slightly more detailed account.

    Radley,

    So if I’m correctly understanding the latest dumb political controversy correctly, not only is it anti-Semitic to disagree with Israel on policy, it’s now anti-Semitic to be insufficiently laudatory and deferential to Israeli politicians.

    I must agree with Matt above that the the clap-gate thing is nonsense (and I hadn’t heard about it), but the article implies that Biden might be lazy, lethargic, liberal, or disrespectful, not that he is anti-Semitic. Maybe that’s a part of the “controversy” not mentioned in the linked article, but the right’s usual problem with Biden is more that he’s a doofus (on which point I can’t really disagree) than that he’s some sort of bigot.

    And, I feel slightly dirty now for having clicked on a link to theblaze for the first time…

  11. #11 |  DarkEFang | 

    If any leader of any other nation came into Congress and shit all over the President, anybody clapping would be deemed a traitor, no matter what party they belonged to.

    The columnist may not come right out and say that Biden is an anti-Semite, but that is certainly the insinuation. It takes all of one comment for the readers to jump on the “Biden is an anti-Semite” bandwagon.

    And what kind of asshole climbs a mountain while his wife is about to give birth?

  12. #12 |  XI | 

    That guy may as well have been playing Russian roulette in the basement. Actually, that would have been better. At least then we could say that was depressed and/or disturbed. Climbing Everest with 2 young kids and a one on the way is selfish, egotistical, and stupid. Sounds like a great father. It probably doesn’t even matter that his wife couldn’t give him the news, because he likely didn’t care. I know that is harsh, but… Actions > Words.

  13. #13 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    The 500 foot UBL looks daunting.
    He may just become the Bob Marley of the Middle East.
    Late at night, I wonder if all these tornadoes are part of some
    high-tech atmosphere-destabilizing karmic fatwa against
    the World Police.

  14. #14 |  Andrew S. | 

    1. It’s not even safe for Jewish people to not be in complete agreement with Israeli policy (might be worse actually). I’ve been called all kinds of things for that.

    2. The PATRIOT Act article didn’t even cause me to blink. That’s a bad thing.

  15. #15 |  Sandy | 

    Can somebody get The Onion guys a US map? Using Euclidean geometry, Charlottesville, VA is not southeast of DC and in between it and Virginia Beach.

  16. #16 |  shecky | 

    I knew that Fukushima crisis would have this kind of result.

  17. #17 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @Matt if you do not unquestioningly support Israel ipso facto you are anti-semitic. and by being anti-semitic, you are in league with Nazis, or could possibly be one. It is a corollary of Godwin’s law.

    I refuse to even discuss israel anymore on most threads at other sites. Any disagreement with any Israeli policy automatically gets you branded as a Nazi sympathizer. Don’t even try to come anywhere near the USS Liberty incident.

  18. #18 |  Matt | 

    I didn’t read all of the commenters — they sounded like nutjobs — and I’m sure Radley will agree a writer can’t be held responsible for what appears in the comments.

    While it’s wrong when conservatives play the race card and conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, it’s also wrong to accuse people of bringing race or ethnicity into the discussion if they haven’t actually done so. As far as I can tell the columnist is most worried Biden might be “very liberal”, which is stupid because we already know that he’s liberal and disagrees with Netanyahu. Big surprise.

    “And what kind of asshole climbs a mountain while his wife is about to give birth?”

    Probably the same kind that flies into earth orbit while his wife undergoes brain surgery.

  19. #19 |  Marty | 

    ‘I don’t know that I would clap for a guy who’s country receives more of my tax dollars than all the welfare recipients in my country combined.’

    nice perspective…

  20. #20 |  XI | 

    @Matt,
    My gut says that space flight is safer than climbing Everest, by a wide margin. That said, I think its still poor taste.

  21. #21 |  freedomfan | 

    Matoocracy,

    I don’t know that I would clap for a guy who’s country receives more of my tax dollars than all the welfare recipients in my country combined.

    I can’t say that I am a fan of foreign aid (or most parts of the “bomb ‘em or bribe ‘em” theory of foreign policy. But, I wonder about those numbers. Maybe it isn’t fair to count Medicare and so on as welfare (even though the difference is mostly bookkeeping), but it seems like even a narrow reading of 2010 Treasury Department figures shows HHS alone spends over $50 billion on “Children and Families” programs (not counting programs for the aged, etc.) and the Ag department spends over $90 billion on “Food And Nutrition Service” programs (which includes WIC, food stamps, etc.). Now, no doubt that not all of that goes out in direct checks or food stamps, but it also doesn’t count many all the welfare programs in the federal government and that’s not even touching what states and counties spend, so it’s probably a pretty low number (I’ve seen overall welfare spending numbers on the order of half a trillion dollars). I doubt that the state department is cutting Isreal a check for over a $140 billion a year, is it?

    Anyway, whether or not Isreal is getting more U.S. tax money than welfare recipients in the US, the problem with that angle on the problem is that someone like Biden would solve it by increasing welfare spending rather than decreasing foreign aid spending. There aren’t many politicians (from either party) in D.C. who can wrap their heads around the idea that any issue can be addressed without increasing government.

  22. #22 |  marco73 | 

    May is the only month where there can be a weather window to summit Everest. Most climbers will take years to gain the experience to even attempt a summit. This guy probably spent months in Nepal getting acclimated and moving to forward camps. Terrible tragedy that he left a family, and a daughter that he never met. Historically, Everest has claimed 1 life for every successful summit. I didn’t see it in the story, but if he was that high up, there may not be any way to claim his body, and he will remain permanently a part of the mountain.

  23. #23 |  Aresen | 

    Did Vice President Joe Biden refuse to applaud after Benjamin Netanyahu said Jerusalem should never be a divided city?

    WTF?

    A divided (or at least shared) Jerusalem is probably a minimum requirement for any possible peace agreement, whether Netanyahu is willing to admit that or not. I cannot see any intelligent person applauding a bad policy pronouncement.

    Given that the person in question was Biden, however, “intelligent person” doesn’t enter into it. He was probably chewing gum at the time and thus unable to applaud.

  24. #24 |  Aresen | 

    If Everest were in the USA, OSHA would probably make them install safety rails and arrange for handicapped access to the summit.

  25. #25 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    I can’t imagine any hobby as dangerous as the more ambitious mountain climbing being legal for if it’s not terribly expensive. I don’t know whether it’s privilege that only fairly well-off people are allowed to have that much fun excitement, or that such people are considered expendable.

  26. #26 |  Cornelius | 

    “Probably the same kind that flies into earth orbit while his wife undergoes brain surgery.”

    That’s a pretty ignorant statement. Giffords actually came down here to watch the launch. She’s in good condition- the “brain surgery” was actually to replace part of her skull that had been removed in January to allow it to swell. Very minor compared to her previous procedures.

    Shuttle missions are relatively short (~2 weeks). Climbing Mt. Everest is a 2+ month adventure. While it may take sherpas a couple days to scale the mountain, westerners spend weeks sitting at various camps while their blood adjusts to the oxygen level.

    Besides, isn’t being an astronaut Kelly’s job?

  27. #27 |  Bob | 

    A 90K fine for selling rabbits to a pet store?

    WTF is wrong with virtually every aspect of US Policy? Even if you don’t question the need for the fine in the first place, which you should, you MUST question the intent at setting it at that high a level. This is total, abject insanity at every possible level.

    What conceivable rationale is there for this that doesn’t involve drooling? How is that no one in the chain of events didn’t say “Wait, 90K? That can’t be right. We can’t do this.” and the error not subsequently corrected?

    The only explanation is that every person in the USDA that had any authority in this matter is either a raging asshole bent on injuring others, or a supplicant thereof.

    Basically, it comes down to: “Well! People are selling stuff! We MUST in total control of that, so we’ll select people at random to make examples of.”

    In a just society, that would fly about a foot and blow up in the faces of the USDA people that tried to screw these people over.

    But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, the USDA is claiming the absolute right to totally screw people over just because they can do so with no repercussions.

    This has to stop. Government needs to be brought under control. A good start would be to abolish or severely curtail agencies like the USDA.

  28. #28 |  scottp | 

    If I were wealthy, I could think of a thousand things I would rather do than climb a mountain. Like sipping a fruity cocktail on some caribbean beach. Or sailing the ocean in my personal yacht.
    Freezing my nuts of at 28,000 feet isn’t my idea of a good time.
    But, hey, to each his own.

  29. #29 |  Ben | 

    Exciting, yes, but not even the most ardent mountain climber would consider an Everest attempt “fun”. If you read Krakauer’s book on Everest, he called it an endurance test to see how much pain you can endure over the course of a month. And he’s a pretty damn good climber himself.

  30. #30 |  Matt | 

    “Historically, Everest has claimed 1 life for every successful summit. I didn’t see it in the story, but if he was that high up, there may not be any way to claim his body, and he will remain permanently a part of the mountain.”

    Yes, maybe you’ve heard the creepy story of “Green Boots”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Boots

  31. #31 |  Deoxy | 

    It’s very important for lefty-politician-types to be sufficiently laudatory and deferential to Israeli politicians during speeches and other such exercises… so that they can defend themselves from antisemitism charges when their actual policies (or professed policy prefereces, anyway) actually are antisemitic.

    A divided (or at least shared) Jerusalem is probably a minimum requirement for any possible peace agreement

    No, that’s open to negotiation. Sure, Jerusalem is going to be highly desired by both sides, and thus a split/share of some kind seems reasonable and likely…

    But what actually IS a “minimum requirement for any possible peace agreement” (pretty much by definition) is that both sides are willing to live in peace and not actively kill the other for the crime of existing. There’s really no point of discussing any of the other points until that one has been dealt with.

    Essentially, the entire “peace process” is one big “card before the horse” problem – it will never succeed until that issue is dealt with.

    Well, or until one side or the other is utterly annihilated. You do get peace then. That the Israelis haven’t done that, despite having the actual power to do so AND their enemies declaring that to be their GOAL (to do to Israel) should speak volumes… but somehow, it never does.

  32. #32 |  Stephen | 

    OT – more from Maricopa county.

    http://www.theroot.com/buzz/three-maricopa-county-cops-busted-human-drug-smuggling

  33. #33 |  EH | 

    WTF is wrong with virtually every aspect of US Policy?

    It’s based on screwing the little guy. If it was Cargill or Tyson, they’d just have to apologize.

    It’s very important for lefty-politician-types to be sufficiently laudatory and deferential to Israeli politicians during speeches and other such exercises…

    Nice try, dude.

  34. #34 |  Jesse | 

    Having been fascinated with Mt Everest and the obsession of climbing it for some time, I have little sympathy for the rich noobs (or any noobs for that matter) that think they can buy their way to the top.

    And I put myself in the same catagory, I’m just smart enough to know it’s foolhardy if not suicidal.

  35. #35 |  Matt | 

    “Giffords actually came down here to watch the launch. She’s in good condition- the “brain surgery” was actually to replace part of her skull that had been removed in January to allow it to swell.”

    All surgery has risks; if something had gone wrong he would really feel like an asshole. There was also a shunt installed to drain fluid from inside her skull, not just the skull covering. I don’t blame him for flying his mission, but I would have had second thoughts had I known more surgeries were planned.

    “Besides, isn’t being an astronaut Kelly’s job?”

    We could have government send professional teams of state employees to climb Mt. Everest; I’m sure they could come up with high altitude scientific experiments to keep them busy. But the essence of it would be to embark on an adventure that glorifies the government, much like being an astronaut.

  36. #36 |  J.S. | 

    Bah, Radley that has been the PC stance for years now regarding Israel.

  37. #37 |  omar | 

    Well, or until one side or the other is utterly annihilated. You do get peace then. That the Israelis haven’t done that, despite having the actual power to do so AND their enemies declaring that to be their GOAL (to do to Israel) should speak volumes… but somehow, it never does.

    We don’t congratulate people on not committing crimes against humanity: Praise be to America who did not nuke all of the Soviet Union after Kruschev says he will bury us. Praise be to America for not nuking all of the middle east for “Death to America” fatwas. Praise be to Israel for not glassing the everything east of the Jordan.

    And we do, rightly, condemn the those who wish for or commit mass murder in all parts of the world. But that’s just how you are supposed to act. You don’t get extra credit for not stealing, not lying, not raping, or not committing mass murder.

    I’m getting so sick of nationalism.

  38. #38 |  Jesse | 

    Every foreign policy warning from every founding father seems to be most precisely aimed at the current US/Israel issue. Like they were all psychics or something.

    “So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation. “—–George Washington

  39. #39 |  Kent | 

    I hadn’t heard of sneak-and-peek searches. Sounds like they are becoming as common as SWAT raids…….suppose this is another gift from the Patriot Act.

    Arizona Ranks 3rd Highest In Sneak-And-Peek Search Warrants
    Delayed Notice Search Warrants Let Officials Look Around Without Telling You
    Elizabeth Erwin
    Reporter, KPHO CBS 5 News
    http://www.kpho.com/news/28028234/detail.html

  40. #40 |  Marty | 

    #21 | freedomfan-

    it’d be an interesting exercise to count up all the welfare and subsidies doled out and compare it to, not just the direct aid that goes to Israeli interests, but the amount of money spent on military actions that were done (at least partially) to benefit Israel.

    Just as listing medicare and ag subsidies skewers the welfare numbers, any military action kills all the numbers.

  41. #41 |  Bob | 

    Delayed Notice Search Warrants.

    WHAT THE FUCK?

    This shit can’t be for real. Oh wait, perhaps it can.

    So, how do they get in without notifying the homeowner? They can’t just break in, right? The cops on the video sure look like they’re breaking in.

    Please someone tell me this a joke or something.

  42. #42 |  Marty | 

    #39 thanks for the link- another kick to the head!

  43. #43 |  Aresen | 

    @ Jesse | May 26th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I like that quote.

    Can you provide a source/link? Thanks.

  44. #44 |  Matt | 

    “Essentially, the entire “peace process” is one big “card before the horse” problem – it will never succeed until that issue is dealt with.”

    Card before the horse? I guess that makes sense — would be pretty hard to get a horse to play cards. Probably easier to make him push a cart.

  45. #45 |  Dave Krueger | 

    PATRIOT Act is worse than you think.

    Speaking only for myself, that is utterly impossible. I don’t even think the Patriot Act governs what the government does. The main law that governs the government is called the “We Will Do Whatever We Can Get Away With Act”.

  46. #46 |  Brandon | 

    “I can’t imagine any hobby as dangerous as the more ambitious mountain climbing being legal for if it’s not terribly expensive.”

    If that were coherent, I’d have to assume that you equate “dangerous” with “should be illegal.” Why is that?

  47. #47 |  Dave Krueger | 

    So if I’m correctly understanding the latest dumb political controversy correctly, not only is it anti-Semitic to disagree with Israel on policy, it’s now anti-Semitic to be insufficiently laudatory and deferential to Israeli politicians.

    It’s amazing how utterly rabid people will become by simply voicing opposition to U.S. support for Israel. It has to come pretty close to what it would have been like to declare yourself to be a communist in the 1950s.

  48. #48 |  Matt | 

    @ Areson:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Washington%27s_Farewell_Address

  49. #49 |  Bob | 

    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/09/federal_investigators_used_del.html

    The delayed-notice search warrant is designed to keep suspects from knowing they are under surveillance. In this case, investigators used the warrant to go through a suspected drug dealer’s apartment in Cleveland last April. They took more than a pound of heroin and two guns, then trashed the place to make it look like a burglary.

    I guess you just gotta trust them that they actually had a warrant at the time of the break in, and that they didn’t just SAY they found drugs. How the fuck do you fight that in court?

  50. #50 |  Matt | 

    What’s next, “delayed-trial executions”? Oh yeah, they are already doing that in Arizona.

    (Apologies for misspelling Aresen in #48).

  51. #51 |  omar | 

    @Brandon

    “I can’t imagine any hobby as dangerous as the more ambitious mountain climbing being legal for if it’s not terribly expensive.”

    If that were coherent, I’d have to assume that you equate “dangerous” with “should be illegal.” Why is that?

    I didn’t read that as that mountain climbing should be illegal – rather that Nancy Lebovitz is surprised that it’s not illegal. Maybe I’m wrong.

  52. #52 |  Aresen | 

    @ Matt | May 26th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    “delayed-trial executions”: I’m sure Scalia would find a justification for it.

    (And thanks for the link.)

  53. #53 |  albatross | 

    Dave #45:

    Yeah, to the extent anyone pays attention to the debate, it’s between “the Patriot Act should allow X and forbid Y” vs “the Patriot Act should allow X+epsilon and forbid Y-epsilon.” But look at all the scandals that have come out about abuses of the Patriot Act, FISA, and related rules. Nobody ever goes to prison or faces any kind of consequences (except the whistleblowers). This makes the precise details of the Patriot Act a lot less interesting. I mean, if it comes out next year that the FBI or DHS has been massively violating the limits put on its behavior by the Patriot Act, what do we imagine will happen as a result? Judging from past experience, what will happen is that nobody will face charges, nobody will lose their job, there won’t be any further investigation, no change in laws, budgets, or policies will result (unless they’re needed to ensure nobody goes to jail) and at most, the administration’s spokesman will have a couple days of taking questions about the scandal. We will then ignore the scandal, and go back to whatever illegal domestic spying was happening before.

    So long as the folks doing the domestic spying are in practice above the law, there’s not much profit in wrangling over fine details of the rules that they’re not obliged to worry about.

    And widespread domestic spying tends to make you above the law, since just about everyone has a few skeletons in their closet–whores, mistresses, gay love affairs, interestingly weird porno collections, drugs, mental illness, gambling, oddball kinks, shady friends/relatives, bribes and near-bribes taken, corruption, mishandling of classified documents, misuse of expense accounts, whatever. I have to guess that most people in positions of power have a lever or two that can be used on them, and a fair number have information that would be sufficient to wreck their lives and careers, or to get them sent to prison. (In some sense, the loss of stigma attached to homosexuality must be terribly annoying to the eavesdroppers. “Senator Frank, vote our way or we’ll out you to the world” just doesn’t seem like it has many teeth these days….)

    Fighting this fight seems worthwhile, but it’s mostly symbolic until the day that those laws actually get enforced against people who break them. And I have my doubts that this will happen anytime soon.

  54. #54 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I am pro-Jew and very anti-Israel. Also anti-Hamas and anti-cancer and heart attacks.

  55. #55 |  Aresen | 

    Boyd Durkin | May 26th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    ….Also … anti-cancer and heart attacks.

    Well, so am I, but I might make an exception for certain politicians.

    :O

  56. #56 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The US tide of support for Israel is turning. First good sign I’ve seen in decades on the subject. Speculate away as to why.

  57. #57 |  omar | 

    Speculate away as to why.

    When the moon is in the Seventh House
    And Jupiter aligns with Mars
    Then peace will guide the planets
    And love will steer the stars

  58. #58 |  Dave Krueger | 

    albatross #52, I think you summed it up perfectly.

  59. #59 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #54 Boyd Durkin

    I am pro-Jew and very anti-Israel. Also anti-Hamas and anti-cancer and heart attacks.

    You make a good point. Being against anti-Israel isn’t the same as being a supporter of the other side (whomever that happens to be at any given time) anymore than being critical of Republicans means you must be Democrat. And I think a lot of people just don’t understand how someone can be anti-Israel and not be anti-Jew. It doesn’t fit into their neatly organized boxes which makes them suspicious that you might be trying to pull one over on them.

  60. #60 |  Matt | 

    Actually I don’t think Scalia wants more executions. He wants the men in prison. Pumping iron. Getting ripped. And if a judge should take a tour of prison conditions, and stray from the group, who knows what could happen if he bumps into one of those “fine specimens”….

  61. #61 |  treefroggy | 

    “Philosophers on drugs”. Aren’t they all.

  62. #62 |  freedomfan | 

    Regarding Scalia’s bogus concern about muscular prisoners being released: What the hell is his logic in bringing that up? It’s been pretty well established that prisons have lacked bodybuilding facilities for some time now, but what if they still had them? It’s not as though there is any law keeping prisoners out of the gym for some time before they are released so that they wouldn’t be so massive when back in society. If anything, releasing them early reduces their access to prison workout equipment and reduces their free time available to bulk up.

    If he is seriously concerned about “intimidating” prisoners hitting the streets, shouldn’t he want them out of prison – and away from prison weight rooms – as soon as possible?

  63. #63 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #24:

    “OSHA would probably make them install safety rails and arrange for handicapped access to the summit.”

    No, it wouldn’t. That’s a canard worthy of John Stossel on an acid trip.

    First, public trails are only incidentally a workplace. Decisions regarding their specifications are normally left to the agencies responsible for maintaining them, usually the NPS, USFS or equivalent state agencies. Sure, litigious assholes sometimes succeed in pushing parks agencies around, but if OSHA is involved in trail oversight, show me the mission creep.

    Second, those whose work requires them to use public trails–park rangers, maintenance staff, contractors or guides–are fully aware that their jobs require them to be ablebodied, in better than average physical condition, and able to deal with hazards including aggressive and diseased wildlife, severe weather, trail washouts, and falling debris. It’s no disability wonderland.

    Third, the wheelchair-accessible trails that exist in national parks are usually limited to a handful of the most heavily trafficked areas, e.g. parts of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and most of the Yosemite Valley floor. The Bright Angel Trail is not wheelchair accessible. There is no handrail up the face of El Capitan. I believe there is a rudimentary cable guiderail on one path up the back of Half Dome, but it’s mainly to keep hikers from getting lost on a huge plug of granite with few obvious landmarks. It’s probably cheaper than search and rescue teams, and it’s definitely worth the cost not to let inexperienced hikers get disoriented and die of exposure or cliff plunges. Those who consider that too great a public cost or infringement on individual responsibility are ass hats.

    Roughly speaking, the five percent or so of trail mileage that is used by more than 95% of park visitors is improved to the extent that you describe. Anyone who wants to get into the high country has to hoof it. And if Everest moved to the Sierras, it would damn well constitute high country.

  64. #64 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #62:

    Chuck Colson has made a similar point: it’s folly to put a bunch of criminals into a dormitory with other criminals for years and expect them to be reformed when they’re released.

  65. #65 |  Aresen | 

    @ Andrew Roth | May 26th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Sorry to hear about your humor impairment.

  66. #66 |  Matt | 

    This blog is not accessible to the humor impaired? Where’s OSHA?

  67. #67 |  Bergman | 

    I used to have a fair amount of sympathy for both the Palestinians and Israelis…but the Israelis have been depleting that sympathy faster than the Palestinians. At the moment, I wouldn’t mind too much if Israel got taken out, as a nation they mostly have it coming.

    But I’m not anti-semitic. People who hate Palestinians and support Israel have pulled off a rather clever propaganda coup, and changed the meaning of the word semitic in common usage. You ever wonder what precise ethnicity a native Palestinian is? A hint: The anti-Palestinian, Pro-Israeli folks are just as anti-semitic as I am for holding the opposing view.

  68. #68 |  Rune | 

    Re: 500′ Bin Laden

    Too Sunni?

  69. #69 |  Kolohe | 

    500′ Bin Laden-
    That’s an awful lot of controlled demolitions. I didn’t think there was enough Semtex & C4 in the inventory. Way to go logistics folks!

    Everest-
    So sad. But really, what were the odds of that happening?

    Music Video-
    And not a single pizza was ordered that day.

  70. #70 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #65 and #66:

    If that was a joke that I didn’t get, go ahead and call me a humorless ass. Fine. All I can say is that canards of that sort are routinely circulated in earnest in libertarian circles. That becomes a problem when the same people making legitimate, important critiques of Kafkaesque overreaches such as the one visited upon the Dollarhites also make patently nonsensical blanket statements about government never doing any good at all.

    Rand Paul is a prime example. God bless him for his honesty about the Patriot Act, but he has said things about the sanctity of the private sector that are fucking nuts. How the hell is it un-American to criticize foreign companies that kill and injure American workers thanks to their incompetence and recklessness? When Paul goes off like that, it is understandable that a lot of people decide that libertarians are a collection of corporate stooges and ideological nutcases.

    Similarly outlandish comments from doctrinaire libertarians are too numerous to catalog. So, no, a statement about OSHA requiring the installation of a wheelchair path to the top of a mountain where only the most experienced dare tread doesn’t exactly sound like satire in a libertarian forum. It sounds like the latest helping of earnest starve-the-beast malarkey. And I’ll be damned if I’ll be shamed into lightening up about something that is so easily misconstrued.

  71. #71 |  Andrew Roth | 

    If I sounded too strident in #70, let me just mention that Jack Conway, an unabashed slimeball, was a viable candidate against Rand Paul. Even in Kentucky Paul doesn’t have very much latitude to come across as a corporate shill or to give the impression that he’s trying to sell his constituents down the river in a quest for ideological purity. A creep like Conway could easily defeat him in 2016 if he makes a tone-deaf move on Social Security or Medicare. Attempting to trim other Federal services with a hatchet could backfire, too.

    My point is that if Paul wants to be reelected, he has to be careful not to go on the warpath against government services that actually work for his constituents. That advice applies to most other libertarian politicians and activists as well. It isn’t about selling out; it’s about choosing one’s battles, which, sadly, doesn’t seem to be a libertarian forte.

  72. #72 |  adam | 

    I think Israel shows a remarkable amount of restraint. If Mexicans were shooting rockets into houses, in Texas and California, we would annihilate northern Mexico.

  73. #73 |  Aresen | 

    @ Andrew Roth

    Yes, it was a joke. But it was half in earnest as well.

    In 40 years of libertarianism, I have seen far too many cases of what was considered “absurd libertarian alarmism” become the law of the land. (Mandatory seatbelt laws, abuses of asset forefeiture laws, teens becoming ‘sex offenders’ for having sex with classmates, and kids taken away by police for having pocket knives to name just a few examples.) What is an absurd joke today may well be official policy in 20 years.

    You reacted specifically to an absurd example, let me give you a real one: I am an avid horseback rider, as such, I have helped build and maintain trails in public parks. Due to agitation by “Disabled activists”, many of those trails have been leveled and hard-packed, rendering them unsuitable and unsafe for riders; in more than one case, horseback riders have been banned from the very trails they helped create “for the safety of pedestrians and handicapped.” Riders are now banned from most public beaches “for safety reasons.” Just an example of the “good things” governments do.

    Governments do good things – for some people and almost universally at the expense of others – cf your warning about not threatening social security or medicare. I will only point out that, should Rand Paul’s warnings on these issues go unheeded, a bankrupt USA will not be able to afford even the cut back versions he recommends. (Unless you are the sort of ‘libertarian’ who believes the US can continue deficit spending indefinitely.)

    You excorciate Paul for saying it was “un-American to criticize foreign companies that kill and injure American workers thanks to their incompetence and recklessness?” If you are talking about the recent Toyota fiasco – where grandstanding Congressmen tried, on the flimsiest of evidence, to pillory Toyota for imaginary defects that were NOT substatiated on investigation, then I would have to agree with the Senator in the sense that it is “un-American” (at least in the original sense of being fair) to condemn someone on hearsay and partisan allegations. If you are talking about something else, please provide your evidence in context.

  74. #74 |  Greg | 

    I think Israel shows a remarkable amount of restraint. If Mexicans were shooting rockets into houses, in Texas and California, we would annihilate northern Mexico.

    Let us follow that analogy for awhile with some more (but not all) of the story…

    If we were blockading Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja Norte so the residents had to get essential supplies via illegal tunnels…

    If our soldiers safely ensconced in tanks and APCs routinely shot young boys for throwing rocks at their occupiers…(Not to mention unarmed reporters and human-rights NGO workers who attempt to report these abuses.)

    If our radicals were building unauthorized settlements in said Mexican states…

    If said radical settlers publicly decried that they were going to take Mexico for the white man, because an 1800+ year old religious text is somehow a legal real-estate document…

    If our government restricted naturalized Mexican-Americans’ rights and privileges by virtue of their origin and/or religion…

    If our government were just taking whatever parts of those Mexican states it saw fit for a fence…

    Which side is showing restraint again?

  75. #75 |  David Chesler | 

    I agree with Matt in the early posts — read the article, didn’t see any indication that Biden is being accused of anti-Semitism.

    And @Bergman (#67) that clever propaganda coup “was coined in 1879 by German journalist Wilhelm Marr in a pamphlet called, ‘The Victory of Germandom over Jewry’. Using ideas of race and nationalism, Marr argued that Jews had become the first major power in the West. He accused them of being liberals, a people without roots who had Judaized Germans beyond salvation. In 1879 Marr founded the ‘League for Anti-Semitism’.” (From Wikipedia, quoting Moshe Zimmermann, Wilhelm Marr: The Patriarch of Anti-Semitism.
    It’s one of those words whose meaning cannot be demonstrated from its etymology. Sorry, just isn’t so. There are plenty of other words that have acquired a well understood, precise meaning that is different from what they may have originally meant, or should logically mean.

  76. #76 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #73:

    The “un-American” comment in question was one that Paul made in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. The context:

    Ken Salazar, May 2, 2010: “Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum.”

    Rand Paul, May 21, 2010: “What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37273085/ns/politics-decision_2010/t/rand-paul-obama-bp-criticism-un-american/

    A project directed by a British company (BP) with a Swiss-incorporated major subcontractor (Transocean) was executed with such reckless disregard for workplace safety that eleven Americans were killed and the remaining workers on site narrowly escaped an inferno with their lives. In response, the Secretary of the Interior used strong language to indicate that he intended to make BP improve its safety practices so that Americans wouldn’t be killed by its recklessness in the future. Rand Paul reacted to the episode by complaining that officials with responsibility for regulating a sector that had recently suffered a mass casualty explosion weren’t showing enough deference to business interests. If he wasn’t a corporate shill, he certainly sounded like one.

    Let’s say that I kill eleven people when the gunpowder factory that I’m running in my apartment blows up. Is it un-American to promise to put a boot on my neck so that I’m not allowed to do anything of the sort again? Of course not. What BP did was tantamount to running a gunpowder factory in a residential building. Its drillers were scared to death of the subsurface conditions in which they were being forced to work, but their bosses didn’t care. There was nothing inherently immoral about their line of work, but they just didn’t care about making sure that they went about it in a safe place and manner.

    The question here isn’t one of hobbling businesses with needless red tape. It’s of making sure that businesses operate in a manner that doesn’t get people killed or maimed. Frankly, some private businesses are unwilling to regulate themselves to that end and need to be compelled not to endanger human life. I can’t imagine any nongovernmental mechanism for regulating such callous syndicates.

    Incidentally, Wikipedia reports that Transocean has a long history of incorporation in tax shelters where it has had no real operations, first in Delaware, then in the Cayman Islands and most recently in Switzerland. Regardless of the overall propriety or impropriety of tax evasion by means of paper incorporation, it sure as hell isn’t patriotic.

  77. #77 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #73 on Social Security:

    My point wasn’t that no thought should be given to Social Security’s solvency. The trust fund is clearly facing a combined demographic and economic pinch. My point was that Paul (and other Republicans) shouldn’t propose anything foolish like privatization or abolition. Despite its flaws, SS is an unusually reliable pension scheme that keeps a lot of people from spending their old age in abject poverty. I have no doubt that with proper stewardship it will continue to provide a significant safety net for generations to come.

    The private alternatives that have been touted to replace SS are much, much riskier. Some are practically swindles that will inevitably cause decent but ignorant people to be beggared by investment advisors. I own stocks and have an IRA, and I’m a pretty savvy investor, but I’ve taken some haircuts. Less savvy investors lured into high-risk instruments have a huge risk of being wiped out.

    I have several relatives who would be well and truly screwed over if they weren’t vested in a pension such as Social Security. They’ve either pissed away their other retirement funds, in one case liquidating a 401(k), or sunk them into failing businesses. Waxing eloquent about individual financial freedom and responsibility in order to get people to move their retirement funds from a low-risk fund to higher-risk funds, as the GOP did under Bush II, is a pretty low move in my book.

    These pension matters help answer Libby’s question a few weeks ago about what libertarians propose doing for society’s fuck-ups. Time and time again, the answer is not a hell of a lot, which is one reason that I end up raining on the small-government parade. What should be done for the improvident or the easily swindled when they inevitably fall through the cracks? There are no panaceas, but Social Security is a good start, and the alternatives are pretty grim. In a dog-eat-dog world, somebody always ends up being the meat.

  78. #78 |  adam | 

    Radical settlers did take part of Mexico for the white man, part of it is called Texas.

  79. #79 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #73 on horse trail closures: point well taken. What you’ve described is inappropriate. It’s bad policy that entirely disregards the interests of a major group of stakeholders, who invested sweat equity in public infrastructure that they can no longer use.

    One trail in Pennsylvania that I used to bike pretty often, the rail trail between Elizabethtown and Lebanon, has a dual-use section with packed gravel on one margin and loose dirt on the other. It isn’t very difficult or expensive to accommodate competing stakeholders as long as no one wages war on other factions.

    Regarding the other examples of slippery legal slopes that you provided, I’m with you on everything but seat belt laws. Your inclusion of seat belt laws on a list of unconscionable infringements on human liberty supports my thesis that libertarians marginalize themselves by calling attention to otherworldly hobbyhorses.

  80. #80 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @76: BP has more American share ownership than British. And mostly individuals in America, larger funds in Britain. Gotta keep that foot on Americans, you know.

  81. #81 |  db | 

    Intrade CEO dies while climbing Mt. Everest

    Did intrade have odds on this?

  82. #82 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Greg #74, That is a superb characterization. In fact, one of the best and most concise I’ve ever seen. I particularly like the item spelling out the authority under which the land is being taken:

    “If said radical settlers publicly decried that they were going to take Mexico for the white man, because an 1800+ year old religious text is somehow a legal real-estate document…”

  83. #83 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If that was a joke that I didn’t get, go ahead and call me a humorless ass.

    No, Andrew Roth. I will not call you an ass. You need love and learning right now, not name calling. Let’s start with an easy one:
    1. Hitler’s favorite joke:
    Hitler: My dog has no nose.
    SS Guard: How does he smell, boss?
    Hitler: Terrible.

    Next lesson:
    2. What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

    Third and final lesson for today:
    3. What did one snowman say to the other? I smell carrots.

    I hope this has been helpful because these are all fucking hilarious.

    Screw it. Here’s another one:
    Why can’t Helen Keller drive? She’s a woman.

  84. #84 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Andy Roth, why is Rand Paul an example of how nuts Libertarians are when Rand Paul is a Republican and Tea Party member? For the record, I don’t believe Rand Paul is actually nuts. I disagree with him on only a couple of issues, but I try not to classify disagreement as “nuts”.

    If our soldiers safely ensconced in tanks and APCs routinely shot young boys for throwing rocks at their occupiers…(Not to mention unarmed reporters and human-rights NGO workers who attempt to report these abuses.)

    To be fair, sometimes they crush them with their tanks. There’s your “restraint”, Adam: Rachel Corrie.

  85. #85 |  Greg | 

    Dave Krueger,

    Thanks. The phrasing is mine but the talking point itself is from at least the early 80s. Likely earlier.

    Radical settlers did take part of Mexico for the white man, part of it is called Texas.

    You are correct, but there’s a few rather notable differences. Texans of US and Mexican origin drove the Texas Revolution in 1836. Texas was as much a land grab by the US as it was a secession from Mexico.

    (Especially as Mexico only became independent from Spain about 15 years prior.)

    The US was hardly of one mind on the Mex-Am war started 10 years later. The Whigs (soon to become the Repubs) were furious about the body count and expense.

    Mexicans don’t refer to it as the Mexican-American War they refer to it as American Invasion of Mexico

    Oh yeah, unlike Israel, once the dust cleared we paid (not much) for the land as part of the peace deal.

    Lots more to it, but history is always messy.

    Boyd,

    Thanks for remembering her name and circumstances…

  86. #86 |  gDavid | 

    As for the BigiLaden, liberals and greenies must realize that turkey just won’t take a raghead, but real bacon would. Bacon forever.

  87. #87 |  David Chesler | 

    Whose claim is based on an ancient religious text? I figure one gets land either by conquest or by possession. Over those 1800 years, whose claims were legitimate, by whatever standards you prefer? The Romans? The Ottomans? The League of Nations? (If you reject conquest, the Israelite claim over the Canaanites probably has to appeal to religious texts with less corroboration than the events of 1,940 years ago — anyone claiming to be the inheritors of the Canaanites, and do they have an unabandoned claims? And some scholars say that it was actually an internal takeover.)
    If you’re going by possession, do you count years? ’67 to now is a lot longer than ’48 to ’67.

  88. #88 |  Greg | 

    David Chesler,

    You and and I both know they had possession from well before 48.

    If you don’t know that you are just another troll.

  89. #89 |  David Chesler | 

    Greg, how far back to you want to claim it was Arab? All of the area was owned by the Ottomans, without much dispute to legitimacy, before WWI. (If you go by individual, not state, claims, consider that there were Jews living there continuously, with influxes of European Jews throughout the early 1900s.)
    If you’re going to undo all the partitioning and relocations the British liked, you’ve got to address Jewish claims in Arab lands from which they were expelled in those times (including some communities that pre-date Islam), and Hindu claims in Pakistan, and Moslem claims in India.
    Instead of name-calling, you might state the standards you’re using.

  90. #90 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #84:

    Rand Paul is one of the most libertarian members of Congress today. He adheres much more closely to the Libertarian Party platform than to the GOP platform, especially on civil liberties. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he’s a RINO, but his strain of Republicanism is one that the current base devotes a lot effort to purging from the party.

    As far as his Tea Party endorsement is concerned, I don’t know what the hell to make of a movement that started with Rick Santelli’s on-air rant about irresponsible borrowers, went apeshit over Sarah Palin, brought out hordes of entitlement beneficiaries to scream about the evils of socialism, and endorsed Rand Paul. The only common thread that I’ve seen is a bunch of pissed off voters who consider themselves Republicans. Some of the people behind the scenes are pretty devious and a lot of vicious elements have taken shelter under the big tent, but every indication I’ve seen is that the Tea Party’s platform is nebulous and the movement is too ad hoc and focused on immediate electoral victories to impose the litmus tests normally involved in partisan politics.

  91. #91 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #80:

    The nationalities of a company’s stockholders don’t affect its country of incorporation. No matter how large a percentage of BP stock is owned by Americans, BP is a British company. It is not an American company, nor will it be one unless it incorporates in the US.

    BP’s stockholders were not Ken Salazar’s target; the losses that they incurred from lower share prices and canceled dividends were collateral damage. Salazar’s targets were the staff responsible for maintaining safety and environmental standards on BP’s American projects in accordance with American laws and regulations. Given that that BP’s reckless disregard for site safety had just killed eleven American workers and was causing an uncontrolled gusher to spew oil onto American beaches and bayous, subordinating environmental and safety oversight to the interests of shareholders would have been twisted, no matter how many American investors stood to lose money.

    The fact that I have willing adversaries in this debate doesn’t bear particularly good witness to the motives and ethics of the libertarian base. That’s a harsh assessment, but let me just say that I’ve voted for quite a few Libertarian Party and small-L libertarian candidates, so I’m a lot easier to win over than many people. Shilling for moneyed interests, whether real or perceived, doesn’t go over well with most voters.

    It’s just something to consider the next time a libertarian’s dark horse candidacy goes nowhere.

  92. #92 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #83:

    I like the Helen Keller and Hitler jokes. The others don’t come close to my definition of fucking hilarious, but you can’t please everyone all the time.

    For a brief tangent, let me see if I get this straight: I go off the reservation and report back with some observations about how and why specific libertarian hobbyhorses backfire in flyover country; Aresen first insists that he was joking about Everest and I was too dense to get it, but then describes his real-life entanglements with disability activists over horse trails; I become the resident humor-impaired whipping boy, to be reeducated with a combination of scolding and off-color and Kindergarten-appropriate jokes. Did I miss something?

    FYI, I put in a good word for Gilbert Gottfried on this blog a few months ago and contributed to the Osama porn post, so it’s a stretch to argue that my MO is to appoint myself chief scold and arbiter of good taste in humor. In this case, however, I seem to have entered an intellectual Twilight Zone.

    I realize that I’ll inevitably end up in the firing line by acting as a de facto devil’s advocate, and I’m fine with that. I also have a thick enough skin to deal with people going overboard against me in an internet forum. In any event the standard fare on Agitator threads is head and shoulders more civil and intelligent than that on many blogs; I’m a regular commenter on one that devolves into fucktard battles every week. Still, it’s worth repeating that the dogmatism and poor logic that routinely surface around here are not, as a matter of course, a way to win friends and influence people. I’m just sayin’.

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