Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: May 2009

31 May 2009

Scientific proof that liberals are smarter than conservatives

Here I am laughing at the silly conservatives. They're so unintelligent! Ha-ha!

A recent study shows that conservatives
aren't as smart as liberals:

Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores.
I knew it! Conservatives score lower than liberals on the SAT! So liberals are smarter! Ha ha! Woo! Ha!

And blacks tend to score lower than whites on the SAT, which means that the conservatives who wrote The Bell Curve were right about blacks being cognitively inferior, and the liberals who debunked their claims in The Bell Curve Wars were wrong, so conservatives are smarter, but the same test scores show that liberals are smarter and...



Yes, I understand that some of the authors of The Bell Curve Wars weren't liberals, which is an important point in terms of their collective objectivity, but the joke doesn't work well if you mention that fact.

The guy whose head SHOULD explode is John Derbyshire of the National Review. The Derbster is convinced that we're on the brink of scientifically proving that
blacks are cognitively inferior. My guess is that he'll probably just ignore this study, and any others which show that Derb and his fellow conservatives are no smarter than your average black guy.

Just to be clear, the point is that it's impossible to say that one group of people is smarter than another using SAT scores. Like all tests, the SATs have built in biases, and members of different groups have a different set of circumstances and experiences than members of other groups. If tests like the SAT could be used to determine which groups were inherently smartest, we'd have to conclude that American Jews were less intelligent than other Americans during the late 1800s and early 1900s, but are more intelligent today. We'd also have to conclude that Catholics in Northern Ireland are less intelligent than Protestants, while Catholics in the United States are roughly equal in intelligence.

In short, this latest study doesn't really tell us much about the relative intelligence of conservatives and liberals.

(cross posted at appletree)


22 May 2009

Obama: 'We've got to stop torturing people' Cheney: 'If we don't torture some A-rabs, we're all gonna die!!!!'

Dick Cheney: still evil

In an address at the National Archives, President Obama
defended his proposal to close the prison at Guantanamo and detain many of its inmates in federal prisons in the US, as well as his decision to end the practice of torture:

Faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions... instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford.

In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach -- one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable -- a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass. And that's why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people.

First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America.

I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence. I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What's more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts -- they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.
In a rebuke to senators who voted overwhelmingly against his plan to house Guantanamo detainees in the US, Obama pointed out that there has never been an escape from a federal supermax prison. All told, he made an effective case for fighting terrorism without resorting to torture and without abrogating our commitments as set forth in the Geneva Conventions.

Shortly after Obama finished speaking, former Vice President Cheney took the stage at the American Enterprise Institute to defend torture, indefinite detention without trial, and warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

Not surprisingly, Cheney's address was full of the
bile and divisive combativeness that have long been a hallmark of his political broadsides.

And lies. Full of the bile, combativeness, and lies that Cheney is known for. Roy Edroso of the Village Voice caught
a couple of Cheney's fabrications:

He said, "I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program," and claimed it "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people." He also said his enemies were trying to smear him and his friends in the CIA with Abu Ghraib.

Cheney professed outrage that "US taxpayer dollars will be used to support" the relocation of detainees proposed by Obama, as if their detention had previously been funded by a lottery or collection taken up at Bohemian Grove. He also suggested that the detainees are supervillains who will escape from our puny maximum security prisons.
Huh? Torturing people saved hundreds of thousands of lives? I don't think Cheney can even begin to defend that statement. One thing's for sure, though: thanks to Bush and Cheney, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed in Iraq:


Edroso caught a bit of Cheney's fibbing, but when the fact-checkers from McClatchy Newspapers went looking for lies, they
really hit the motherlode:

Cheney quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair , as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."

In a statement April 21 , however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Mueller Robert Muller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.
Cheney said that the Bush administration "moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and their sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks."

The former vice president didn't point out that Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahri , remain at large nearly eight years after 9-11 and that the Bush administration began diverting U.S. forces, intelligence assets, time and money to planning an invasion of Iraq before it finished the war in Afghanistan against al Qaida and the Taliban .

There are now 49,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan fighting to contain the bloodiest surge in Taliban violence since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, and Islamic extremists also have launched their most concerted attack yet on neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan.
Cheney denied that there was any connection between the Bush administration's interrogation policies and the abuse of detainee at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, which he blamed on "a few sadistic guards . . . in violation of American law, military regulations and simple decency."

However, a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report in December traced the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the approval of the techniques by senior Bush administration officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Cheney accused Obama of "the selective release" of documents on Bush administration detainee policies, charging that Obama withheld records that Cheney claimed prove that information gained from the harsh interrogation methods prevented terrorist attacks.

"I've formally asked that (the information) be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained," Cheney said. "Last week, that request was formally rejected."

However, the decision to withhold the documents was announced by the CIA , which said that it was obliged to do so by a 2003 executive order issued by former President George W. Bush prohibiting the release of materials that are the subject of lawsuits.
Cheney said that only "ruthless enemies of this country" were detained by U.S. operatives overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries.
Cheney said that, in assessing the security environment after 9-11, the Bush team had to take into account "dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists."

Cheney didn't explicitly repeat the contention he made repeatedly in office: that Saddam cooperated with al Qaida , a linkage that U.S. intelligence officials and numerous official inquiries have rebutted repeatedly.

The late Iraqi dictator's association with terrorists vacillated and was mostly aimed at quashing opponents and critics at home and abroad.

The last State Department report on international terrorism to be released before 9-11 said that Saddam's regime "has not attempted an anti-Western terrorist attack since its failed plot to assassinate former President ( George H.W.) Bush in 1993 in Kuwait."
And so on. Lie after lie after lie. As he did throughout the Bush presidency, Cheney distorted facts and fabricated evidence to support the notion that the only way to defend Americans from despots and terrorists is to spy on Americans, start wars that kill tens and even hundreds of thousands, and torture people in secret prisons. In his view, the terrorists present an even greater threat than Hitler did in 1941, and the only way to defeat them is to become more like the Soviet Union.

It now looks as though the Republican Party is
lining up behind Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, and most party leaders are ready to openly endorse practices like warrantless wiretapping, secret detention without trial, torture, and waging wars of aggression. Which means that President Obama must now fight on two fronts: abroad against terrorists unconcerned with the rule of law, human rights, and human life, and at home against Republicans unconcerned with the rule of law, human rights, and human life.
Bear in mind that we do not yet know the full extent of the torture that was used on detainees at Guantanamo. Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley, who has been assigned to defend one of the detainees, says that waterboarding is just the
tip of the iceberg:

Remember when former military officers, including Republican Senators McCain and Graham, told the Bush administration that torturing detainees would make it more likely that American soldiers would be tortured? The Taliban recently announced that they have
waterboarded three American soldiers. I have to assume that Cheney and his apologists think that's OK.
Inconveniently for Cheney,
four terrorists were arrested yesterday after an investigation that involved no torture, illegal wiretaps, or wars of aggression.
Cheney's defenders have been claiming that a soon to be released Pentagon report indicates that one in seven former Guantanamo detainees has returned to terrorism. Turns out,
that's not exactly true. While reporters who have seen a draft of the report say that it does say that one in seven former detainees have since been tied to terrorism, they point out that the overwhelming majority of Guantanamo detainees had not previously been involved in terrorism.

In other words, it appears that detainees became drawn to terrorism after being detained for years without trial and, in some cases, tortured. And we should bear in mind the fact that we don't yet know how directly those former detainees were involved in terrorism, and we won't know how accurate the Pentagon report is until it's been vetted by independent analysts.

(cross posted at appletree)

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This Old Brit Shipwrecked... well, almost...

Pictured ~ P&O's "Pride of Kent."

A week ago tonight we arrived back home from what was meant to have been a bit of breather from blogging and the like. You know, a week away from it all. A well earned break.

And, all at our own expense ~ not that of the long suffering, serially screwed, undervalued and underpaid, poor British taxpayers.

So, at the start of the week we'd smilingly set off in the sunshine for several days sightseeing in the south and, as a special treat, a sail across to France.

Sounds nice, eh?

Don't you bloody believe it.






Haven't we told you time & time again that we're both natural born survivors?

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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18 May 2009

Irony overload


Is it just me, or were there an unusual number of irony-laden stories in the news lately?


BNP poster campaign for British workers uses American actors

I think the British National Party official who approved this ad campaign probably figured it was alright to use the photo of American workers, because in his mind "British" is just another word for "white".


Eli Lilly CEO Makes Case Against Public Health Insurance Plan

In a recent speech, a drug company executive argued that offering public health insurance would drive private insurers out of business, because the government is better at controlling costs.


Maybe you saw this video of policeman George Fierro kicking an unarmed and unresisting gang member in the face:

Turns out, Fierro has a side business. He sells a line of clothing that
glorifies street gangs.


FBI probes possible insider trading by SEC lawyers

The guys who were supposed to protect us from insider trading were engaged in insider trading. Is anyone surprised?


Ireland's 'most romantic man' is complete wanker

Aiden Clifford, the male half of Irish Wedding Journal's "most romantic couple", has been caught following women around Galway City in his car while masturbating.

Actually, this item might not be so ironic, since Clifford might still be Ireland's most romantic man.


But the most ironic story of all might be the Republican attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to the CIA, Pelosi was told about the torture program that the Republicans say
prevented numerous terrorist attacks. So now the Republicans are criticizing Pelosi for failing to stop that program.

The irony doesn't stop there, however. Republicans have been so shrill that they have
inadvertently generated more support for a full investigation into Bush's torture program.

(cross posted at appletree)


Message to Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons : You've had a good run. Now, Resign!

Our message today to the now completely discredited Mr Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, is short, sweet and straight to the point.

As an alleged man of "honour" you should set a good example. Moreover, you should be seen by all & sundry, to set such an example.

So, for God's sake man, why won't you simply sod off? Why won't you just get up and, in words of a single simple syllable, GO! And when we say GO, we mean go NOW!

Here's what the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson has to say on this sorry score, in his own (extremely), excellent blog. [See also what some of Robinson's readers/commenters are saying.]

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15 May 2009

This Old (NOT lost at sea) Brit is back

(Please click on pic to enlarge.)

Oh Gawd, our help in ages past ....

Some may have noticed we've been missing lately.

Either at sea or elsewhere.

Well, whatever.

But boy, oh boy!

Do we have another amazing adventure story to share with you, or what?

You bet we have. Believe it.

And once again, we live to tell the tale. The true tale.

The completely, genuinely UN-photoshopped photograph shown above is all our own work. (And also our copyright, of course.)

We shot it ourselves earlier this week. From the fifth deck of a ferry. In the severe-gale (near storm force), lashed English Channel. Close to the French coast.

Far, far tooooooo flamin' close in fact.

Okay, that's the end of the teaser.

We've just arrived here at home and have hardly had time to take breath yet.

But being the cunning old Brit buggers that we are, we couldn't resist trying to raise enough interest to 'hook' you.


.... watch this space for some more similarly scary stormy shots, soon.

Along with an accompanying, suitable 'amazing true adventure' narrative, of course.



Survivor(s) is our middle name, mateys.

08 May 2009

British MP's Expenses Scandal : The Trough Thickens

Today we intended telling the terrible tale of the 'take what you want when you want' culture of (apparently), tons of turdy Brit members of parliament.

But then, somebody anonymously sent us this particularly odious porker-picture...

...which, suddenly made us stop and wonder why we should bloomin' be bothered to.

Since 'The Telegraph' is already doing such a sterling job of explaining and exposing exactly what sort of absolutely stinking stuff has (seemingly, serially) been happening in our old Brit House of Commons.

So, click here to see lots & lots about some of said shocking smelly shenanigans for yourself.


This shower of SOBs simply possesses none.

(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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If Bush designed mousetraps...

07 May 2009

Obama, Oschama, etcetera...

Who the hell are we to argue with the (almost) perfect investigative, crusading journalist, John Pilger?

And anyway, why the hell would we want to? Especially since he continues pulling no punches while continuing to tell the truth : no matter how much it hurts some.

Just take a look at this teaser:


In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works.

One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defence”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.

In Afghanistan, the US “strategy” of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the “Taliban”) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely.


Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s “grand design”, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it.

Sure, Mr Obama may manage to placate a certain percentage of the American public. He may even sort of semi-sort-out some of the deep doo-doo that America has recently sunk into. Dragging a hell of a lot of sadly unsuspecting (and/or far too trusting) others with it.

But believe us, just as sure as the jerk J.W.B was a wantonly warmongering, mass murdering "b", the blessed Obama's going to carry right on completely f*cking things up for most of the rest of us. Big time. Good style.

Ask any ordinary Afghan. Enquire of any regular Iraqi ~ and/or Iranian.

Read the rest of Pilger's latest powerful piece right here.

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04 May 2009

This Old Brit ... The Movie!

" This Old Brit "
You've read the blog.

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