Morning Links

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
  • Touching video of two Louisiana men who became friends in prison, were both exonerated by DNA testing, now reuniting as free men.
  • Related: Federal judge under fire for letting habeas petitions linger for years. One inmate died while waiting. The same judge was removed from another case after an appeals court questioned his impartiality.
  • New Jersey cop assaults man recording him.
  • National debt jumps $4 trillion under Obama.
  • Mother Jones has assembled a database of U.S. terrorism informants and trials of suspected terrorists.
  • Missouri teacher says new law banning online contact with students means she can’t communicate online with her own kids.
  • Obama administration encourages health care providers to organize, then sues them for doing so.
  • New Gallup poll: Hypothetical matchup puts unelectable Ron Paul within two points of Barack Obama.
  • More problems for the Fullerton, California, police department.

(CORRECTION: Both Media Matters and Cato’s Dan Mitchell say the CBS article linked above gets it wrong: The 2009 fiscal year was set by the Bush administration, not Obama.)

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71 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Michael Chaney | 

    The national debt is a little trickier than just Bush/Obama. Congress creates the budget, and the debt began growing at an astronomical rate when the Democrats retook the House two years before Obama took the Whitehouse. Yes, Bush shouldn’t have went along and bears at least some blame, but the fact is that the Dems have outspent the Reps by a huge margin.

  2. #2 |  Lefty | 


    Big difference between Keynesian economics and evolution. Economics isn’t hard science and the Keynesian variety isn’t the entire underpinning of economics. So disagree with it all you want.

    Evolution is in fact the underpinning of modern biology. If you’re going to deny 150 years of empirical data then yeah that’s nuts and your ability to interpret reality comes into question. At least it should. An evolution denier has let dogma and ideology trump evidence and data. I wouldn’t want someone like that making real world decisions.

  3. #3 |  Politically.Speaking | 

    Deal – future corrections or observations will include a much lower asshole factor. I should have included the direct link to the CBO report in that first post. Given the number of corrections needed (that was the first I’ve felt strong enough about), that is the least I can do.

    But it was a shocker to see something so wrong – even in the Morning Links section. And just because something comes from a major media organization does not give anybody carte blanche to post it with no repercussions – if you post something with no commentary the assumption is that you believe it and stand by it.

  4. #4 |  CyniCAl | 

    Nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac occurred during Bush’s watch, Sept. 2008. That was over $5T added to the government’s liabilities in one fell swoop.

    So, I think the victory goes to Team Blue, well-deserved congratulations are certainly in order, can’t wait for the sequel.

  5. #5 |  Gordon | 

    #16 | Politically.Speaking | August 23rd, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Dang it, Radley! Try doing some fact checking before you post BS like “National debt jumps $4 trillion under Obama.”

    Yet, I recall Speaker Pelosi famously declaring Bush’s FY2009 budget proposal “dead on arrival”, and then refusing to pass a budget until after Obama was sworn in. So; I’d say that spending spree fully belongs to the Democrat wing of the Boot On Your Neck Party.

    Also note that they’ve refused to pass a budget ever since.

  6. #6 |  supercat | 

    #52: // Evolution is in fact the underpinning of modern biology. //

    That depends what exactly is meant by “evolution”. It is certainly true that variations in future organisms are affected by processes of natural (and unnatural) selection. If the weakest animals of a herd are killed by predators, the offspring of the survivors will, on average, be stronger than the offspring of the previous generation. It is also certainly true that at least a substantial portion of the biodiversity one can observe today has come about from such methods. Even a biblical literalist should recognize that one must accept a certain amount of evolution in order for the ancestors of all of today’s species to fit on the ark.

    Some proponents of evolution, however, effectively claim that there is no other process by which species have come into existence. Such a claim goes far beyond anything which is scientifically supportable. Whether or not there exists evidence that other processes played a role in the creation of species, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Almost any theory which tries to explain the origin of prehistoric species (or, for that matter, explain almost anything prehistoric) must assume the existence of at least some phenomena whose only evidence for existence is that they are necessary for the theory to work. While some theories should be regarded as more probable than others, it is wrong to attach an air of certainty to theories which are, in significant measure, speculation.

  7. #7 |  Nick | 

    Is there any condition in an officer’s oath or contract that requires him or her to follow the law? In all these cases where officers demand people stop photographing or videotaping, when it is their right to do so (it is, right?), or when they violate people’s rights in other ways, I wonder whether the officers could be seen to no longer be officers, and to no longer carry the force of the law?

  8. #8 |  Mendelism | 


    I agree with all that, but I get the sense that the primary reason that people profess skepticism of “evolution” is that they’re uncomfortable specifically with the idea that humans evolved from non-human primates. Given the available data, the reluctance to accept this idea is pretty unscientific, and perhaps a little crazy.

    (I say this as someone who changed his party affiliation to R for the sole purpose of voting for Ron Paul in the 2008 primaries, and plan to do so again this cycle.)

  9. #9 |  Mendelism | 

    I should clarify briefly what I mean about the available data. Simply put, we have:

    1. A remarkable degree of structural/anatomical similarity among extant primates, including humans, coupled with
    2. Quantitative genetic distance/similarity that maps uncannily onto our structure/anatomical estimates of relatedness among species.
    3. Observed examples of speciation among organisms with life cycles short enough for us to witness evolution in action.

    This by itself doesn’t “prove” anything, but it makes human evolution from earlier primates the simplest, most parsimonious explanation for our species’ existence. Otherwise, we have to assume some kind of supernatural phenomenon that generated the human species such that it happens to have the properties of coincident phenotypic and genetic similarity with other existing species, which is a bit nutty IMHO. Unless God is trying to trick us, as He is wont to do…

  10. #10 |  JOR | 

    “Otherwise, we have to assume some kind of supernatural phenomenon . . . ”

    Or heretofore undiscovered or unanalyzed natural phenomenon. (What would really count as ‘supernatural’ anyway? If God existed and did stuff the results would be artificial, perhaps, but not supernatural, let alone ‘unnatural’, whatever whatever that would even mean).

  11. #11 |  BamBam | 

    re: evolution I heard a religious zealot once say “if monkeys had human babies a long time ago which led to evolution, then why aren’t monkeys still having human babies today?” There wasn’t much I could say other than point out his statement demonstrates that he doesn’t even have a basic understanding of evolution or what the word even means.

  12. #12 |  DocHoliday916 | 

    Keep the heat on the Fullerton PD1 Any updates on the investigation of the Allen Kephart killing in Lake Arrowhead?

  13. #13 |  Keith | 

    Unfortunate thing with the deficit is the Republicans are trying to make everyone believe it. I have written 3 different congressmen and they ALL rattle off the same lies.
    How do we the people stand a chance when our politicians lie blatantly to our faces?

  14. #14 |  JS | 

    Keith “How do we the people stand a chance when our politicians lie blatantly to our faces?”

    We don’t.

  15. #15 |  Windy | 

    @52, Regardless of how DR. Paul feels about evolution or religion, the point is he’s a Constitutionalist and would NEVER impose those beliefs on all Americans via his position as congressman or president. His understanding of economics, foreign policy and the Constitution make him the kind of man I DO want in the presidency.

  16. #16 |  Ben | 

    @65 Windy:

    “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life. The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before putting their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.”

  17. #17 |  supercat | 

    #59 | Mendelism | “Otherwise, we have to assume some kind of supernatural phenomenon…”

    Which is a more reasonable statement: (1) “The evolution of consciousness most likely occurred entirely as a result of processes that are essentially understood”; or (2) “The evolution of consciousness most likely involved at least some processes which are, at least as yet, entirely beyond human understanding”? I would posit that the second is a far more reasonable and honest statement. Whether such processes included divine intervention or a space probe from Altair-VI I have no idea; nor, I strongly suspect, does any other human.

    Human beings have something that be termed a consciousness, id, soul, etc. (well, I do anyway, and I don’t think I’m alone). Human biological forms may be substantially derived from those of primate ancestors, but that in no way implies that consciousness came into existence entirely through bio-mechanical processes. If one takes the point of view that a human organism is a biological machine which is fundamentally no different from any other animal, then the destruction of surplus humans should be viewed no differently from the destruction of other kinds of surplus animals. In the Twentieth Century, a number of people took that view; some still do. I would aver that a human being is a biological machine, plus a little something ‘extra’, and I see no reason to believe that little something ‘extra’ would have come into existence absent some process or phenomenon which entirely beyond human knowledge.

  18. #18 |  Mendelism | 

    Well I’m a materialist, and believe that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. Thought = activity in the cerebral cortex. I believe this to be true of human brains, and non-human brains. Certainly humans are capable of much more complex thought than non-humans, but this is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. And I for one would be horrified to learn of the slaughter of, e.g. “surplus” chimpanzees. Not as horrified as I would be at human slaughter, but again a difference of degree. Cows would get less sympathy, and so on. I wouldn’t know how to quantify any of this, but hopefully you get the idea.

    You can argue that materialism is based in faith, and I guess I’d have to agree, but it’s the simplest explanation for a lot of natural phenomena, and has the benefit of not requiring any extra “moving parts”, e.g. an unobservable “soul” or intelligent designer.

    A lot of people don’t find this very satisfying. YMMV.

  19. #19 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    I don’t know that we’re that “special”

    I see flashes of sentience in higher animals (birds and mammals) all the time. Ever see a dolphin mourn its dead baby? Or a large primate?

  20. #20 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    I think it’s better think of consciousness as a continuum instead of as a discrete phenomenon (humans have it, animals don’t).

    Then the concept fits quite well within the framework of evolution.

  21. #21 |  supercat | 

    #68: It is probably not possible for you to determine experimentally whether I have a consciousness beyond some electrons whizzing around in my neurons, nor is it possible for me to determine experimentally whether you have such consciousness, but I know that *I* have such consciousness because I personally experience it (in a way nobody else can). I would expect that you probably do likewise.

    There are a lot of people who, all things considered, are pretty dumb and useless, and there are some animals which are smarter and more useful. If the former don’t deserve protection merely because they’re human, why should they be protected at all?