Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Partisan Realities

Reality begins to set in, Obamas' reach is not as far as he once thought.

Ben Smith's Blog: Dept.of partisan realities - Politico.com
Part of Barack Obama's appeal in the early days of the campaign -- scoffed at by the Clintons -- was a promise of moving past the bitter partisanship of the 1990s and the present.

Since then, the partisan realities have set in, however, as Obama acknowledged in an offhand remark to ABC's John Berman tonight:

"I don't think me calling House Republican members would have been that helpful, I tend not to be that persuasive on that side of the aisle," he said.

The mess who is Barney Frank.

Read the whole thing.

Frank's fingerprints are all over the financial fiasco - The Boston Globe
"THE PRIVATE SECTOR got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it."

That's Barney Frank's story, and he's sticking to it. As the Massachusetts Democrat has explained it in recent days, the current financial crisis is the spawn of the free market run amok, with the political class guilty only of failing to rein the capitalists in. The Wall Street meltdown was caused by "bad decisions that were made by people in the private sector," Frank said; the country is in dire straits today "thanks to a conservative philosophy that says the market knows best." And that philosophy goes "back to Ronald Reagan, when at his inauguration he said, 'Government is not the answer to our problems; government is the problem.' "

In fact, that isn't what Reagan said. His actual words were: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Were he president today, he would be saying much the same thing.

Because while the mortgage crisis convulsing Wall Street has its share of private-sector culprits -- many of whom have been learning lately just how pitiless the private sector’s discipline can be -- they weren't the ones who "got us into this mess." Barney Frank's talking points notwithstanding, mortgage lenders didn't wake up one fine day deciding to junk long-held standards of creditworthiness in order to make ill-advised loans to unqualified borrowers. It would be closer to the truth to say they woke up to find the government twisting their arms and demanding that they do so - or else.

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

A Special Message from Obama's Teleprompter

Saturday, September 27, 2008

House in 2004 on Fanny and Freddie

Amazing:

A Genuine and Immediate Crisis

From Bill Kristol who is not usually alarmist.
A Genuine and Immediate Crisis
I've received phone calls in the last hour from two economists I respect, one of them Larry Lindsey, the other in a position where he'd prefer not to be named. Both have government experience, neither is alarmist by nature, and they say this:

The huge European bank Fortis is apparently about to fail. The ripple effect on the American banking system could be disastrous, with bank runs, liquidity crises, and stock sell offs possible Monday. Wachovia may well fail next week. As Larry put it, this really will be 1933 soon if we don't move rapidly to stabilize the banking system.

And here's the bad news: the current bailout bill, whatever its merits and likelihood of passage, does nothing to address this.

Congress should pass by Monday simple legislation doing two things:

1. Giving the FDIC authority to provide unlimited deposit insurance through the FDIC for transaction accounts in banks.

2. Authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to provide unlimited protection of principal in money market funds through the Treasury's exchange stabilization fund.

Maybe my acquaintances (and I) are too worried; maybe this legislation wouldn't quite be the right solution. But I wanted to sound what may be, unfortunately, a needed alarm.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Four Pinocchios for Biden's Tax Fabrication

Biden is consistent.

Four Pinocchios for Biden's Tax Fabrication - Fact Checker
Democratic vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden claims that middle class Americans will be slapped with the "largest tax increase in American history" as a result of the McCain health care plan. It is true that McCain has proposed taxing the health-care benefits that Americans receive through their employers. However, Biden conveniently overlooks the fact that the Republican nominee is offering tax-payers a credit that should cover the cost of going out and buying insurance.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

China space mission article hits Web before launch

Heh, oops.
China space mission article hits Web before launch - Yahoo! News
A news story describing a successful launch of China's long-awaited space mission and including detailed dialogue between astronauts launched on the Internet Thursday, hours before the rocket had even left the ground.

The country's official news agency Xinhua posted the article on its Web site Thursday, and remained there for much of the day before it was taken down.

A staffer from the Xinhuanet.com Web site who answered the phone Thursday said the posting of the article was a "technical error" by a technician. The staffer refused to give his name as is common among Chinese officials.

Hacking Palins E-mail

Ever since it was found out that the e-mails didn't contain anything detrimental to Palin, what happened to the press coverage?  Nothing, it just melted away.  Especially when the perpetrator appears to be a House members son.

SPLICETODAY.COM | Politics & Media | How to Blow a Scoop
Scandal, crime, politics—the story had nearly all the makings of a blockbuster, a surefire Drudge link, no less. So why did it seem that nobody in big-time journalism wanted to report it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama Coin

Humility in action.

Birmingham firm strikes Barack Obama presidential coin - Birmingham Post
A company in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter is making commemorative coins for American presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

And if the Democratic candidate is elected to become the most powerful man in the world on November 4, it could open the floodgates for millions of pounds worth of business for the firm.

Windsor, Elizabeth & Windsor has already sold more than 300 limited edition commemorative silver coins to the Democratic Party to hand out to key members of the campaign to elect Obama.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Note to Bill Clinton

There going wild at the Huffington Post.  Don't worry, I forgive you Bill.

Paul Slansky: A Note to Bill Clinton
Given that we would never have had the odious George W. Bush in the White House in the first place if it wasn't for your blow jobs, Bill, it seems obvious that you owe it to the people of this country, and especially to the parents whose kids died in the Iraq War that Gore would never have started, and to all the parents whose kids would be killed in the WarFest that would be a McCain/Palin -- sorry, Palin/McCain administration -- to do everything in your power to get Barack Obama elected.

But that's not what you're doing, Bill, and it's not going unnoticed. We see your rage, Bill, it's too huge to hide. We see that -- as Chris Rock so brilliantly pointed out -- it pains you to even speak Obama's name. We see you petulantly rooting against him even as you go through the motions of doing the barest minimum on his behalf to avoid being blamed if he loses.

You're not fooling anyone, Bill. You've gotten so caught up in yesterday that you've stopped thinking about tomorrow. You have the power to influence millions of voters and you're spitefully sitting on it. Surely you've noticed what's going on in the country. Surely you're aware of what's at stake on November 4th. This is not a game that you can afford to take your ball and go home with if you don't get to play the position you want. An Obama loss will most certainly be part of your legacy.

Iran: A Christian jailed for converting from Islam

People forget that to be a christian in many countries can be a death sentence.
Iran: A Christian jailed for converting from Islam - National Council of Resistance of Iran - Foreign Affairs Committee
On August 22, Ramtin Soudmand, a Christian man whose father was executed 20 years ago by the mullahs' regime for converting to Christianity was arrested by the local office of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in the holy city of Mashhad.

"He was summoned to the local office of MOIS in Mashhad," a family member said.

Soudmand lived in Tehran since his father's execution, however he was to report to Mashhad.

"Ramtin decided not to pay any attention to the call and had said that he would wait until MOIS office in Tehran sent him a new summon," his mother said.

Considering Mrs. Dibaj and her husband's problems in the past with the MOIS in Mashhad, Soudmand changed his mind and reported to the dreaded MOIS in that city where he was last seen.

Rev. Mehdi Dibaj was brutally murdered by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Dibaj was abducted on June 24, 1994. His body was found in a west Tehran park on July 5, 1994.

On September 26, 2006, the MOIS agents arrested Mrs. Fereshteh Dibaj, 28 and her husband, Reza Montazami, 35 in the holy city of Mashhad. Later the couple were transferred to an unknown location for a few days. While in custody, their house was searched by the MOIS and some of their belongings such as computers, CDs, documents and Christian books, were sized.

On July 26, the mullahs' agents of the notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) attacked a house-church in the small township of Malak in the suburbs of the central city of Isfahan.

In the raid, eight men, 6 women and two children were arrested. The victims were transferred to an unknown location. Among the detainees, there was an elderly couple in their 60s. The suppressive forces beat up these two senior citizens causing them serious injuries. They were transferred to Shariati Hospital in Isfahan where they were hospitalized in ICU.

The MOIS agents thoroughly searched the house for forbidden Christian books and literatures.

In a similar raid on a house-church in October of last year, the MOIS agents arrested a Christian couple in Karaj 40 kilometers west of the capital.

The mullahs' regime is furious over Muslims converting to any other faith especially Christianity. It has even introduced a controversial bill to its Majlis (parliament) calling for death penalty for individuals converting from Islam to any other faith.

Dissecting the Palin Rumor Mill

The rumors are up to 91!

Pajamas Media » Dissecting the Palin Rumor Mill
In my new and unexpected role as the Pajamas Media answer to Hedda Hopper, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the rumors about Sarah Palin that have appeared in the weeks since John McCain announced her nomination. (The new list is up to 91 and still growing.) Its given me a whole new insight into rumors and how the press responds to them. It seems to be very predictable — and very artificial.

Let’s look at a recent one, #83. The rumor, as it was reported, was that Palin had “cut the Special Olympics funding in half.” Now, here are the facts (and thanks to Warren Throckmorton for digging this out):

* The 2006 budget was $250,000.
* The 2007 budget as passed by the Alaskan legislature was $650,000
* After Palin used her line-item veto authority, the new budget was $275,000

So we see the facts of the story are that it was a “Beltway budget cut”: more money, but not as much as someone wanted. The facts aren’t as interesting as the history of the story, though. It appears to have started, in this case, with the New York Times, which casually says:

Democrats have pointed, sometimes correctly, sometimes erroneously, to items in the state budget for the disabled that Ms. Palin cut. According to state documents, she cut the state’s Special Olympics budget in half.

Step one: assert something in a way that doesn’t stand out.

Problems for Biden-Repubs to the Rescue

Obama backtracking on wide range of policy

Can't wait till next week and what his positions will be.

Hot Air » Blog Archive » Obama backtracking on wide range of policy
Why flip-flop on specific policies one at a time, when a candidate can do so much more efficiently by calling a general retreat? Less than 48 hours after telling CNBC that his health-insurance plan was fully funded and would not get affected by a massive government bailout of the credit markets, Obama has reversed himself and put his expensive federal programs on hold. He also criticized his own running mate on the Today show this morning:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Israel Unleashes First 'Skunk Bomb'

Oh the smell...
Israel Unleashes First 'Skunk Bomb' | Danger Room from Wired.com
Possibly because of excitement over the Russia-Georgia conflict last month, little attention was given to a new development in chemical warfare – the first use by the Israeli police of a new, smelly weapon to disperse demonstrators:

Israeli police say the new crowd-control method, which they call a "skunk bomb," was used for the first time Friday in the village of Naalin. Palestinians have been holding almost daily protests against a security barrier that Israel is building in the area.

Israeli police say a water-spraying device showered the liquid on the demonstrators, forcing most to rush off to change their clothes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Politics of Dementia

There is emotionalism and then there is irrational hysterics.  This is the latter.

Welcome to the final stages of the coup...
In 2000, the long fought for and long admired democracy of the United States of America began a slow and steady decline toward fascism - a Bush family tradition - with the installment of a president - a man the citizens overwhelmingly rejected (although the funny math told a still believed myth) - by a few corrupt judges on the US Supreme Court. That coup is now nearly complete and checkmate is all but unavoidable.

Let me first point you to the Bush administration's so-called Wall Street bailout bill, here, so that you can see for yourself that this treachery is being conducted in the light of day. Fascism is finally and formally out of the right-wing closet even if the F word is not yet openly being used (although it should be, and often).

Now, if you do not yet understand that the Wall Street crisis is a man-made disaster done through intentional deregulation and corruption, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell to you (or Sara Palin does anyway). This manufactured crisis is now to be remedied, if the fiscal fascists get their way, with the total transfer of Congressional powers (the few that still remain) to the Executive Branch and the total transfer of public funds into corporate (via government as intermediary) hands.

How Liberal Trolls Are Working To Get McCain Elected President

Interesting:

How Liberal Trolls Are Working To Get McCain Elected President (Wizbang)
Let's start with the latest poll numbers. Yep, Obama back on top, is the headline for many of them, though it's a bit tight. I guess we should worry on the Right? Hmmmm, well maybe not so much, just as those on the Left did not have that much to worry about when McCain got the 'Palin Bounce' earlier this month. I said when the first bumps came out that I did not think Palin's effect would really be that immediate, and I have always said that the reader should go well past the headline to find out what a poll says. So, taking my own advice, let's see what Gallup has to say.

The Gallup Organization is as clean and straight-arrow a polling group as I have ever found. Their methodology is consistent and transparent, their questions are the same and they have a longer history than anyone else in the business. But even Gallup has a few odd quirks, and when you see them it might change how you look at their poll releases. For this article, I am looking at the Gallup 'Daily Tracking Poll' for the Presidential election. For the five most recent weekly reports, here's where Gallup says the candidates stood:

Aug 21: Obama 45, McCain 44
Aug 28: Obama 48, McCain 41
Sep 04: Obama 49, McCain 42
Sep 11: McCain 48, Obama 44
Sep 18: Obama 48, McCain 44

Organizers of Iran rally threatened with loss of tax-exempt status if they invited Palin

Friday, September 19, 2008

Look Who's Irrational Now

Obviously I'm not surprised.

Look Who's Irrational Now - WSJ.com
"You can't be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you're drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god," comedian and atheist Bill Maher said earlier this year on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

On the "Saturday Night Live" season debut last week, homeschooling families were portrayed as fundamentalists with bad haircuts who fear biology. Actor Matt Damon recently disparaged Sarah Palin by referring to a transparently fake email that claimed she believed that dinosaurs were Satan's lizards. And according to prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins, traditional religious belief is "dangerously irrational." From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

A Summary of the Markets

Good summary of our close economic melt down and we aren't through it yet.
The Corner on National Review Online
It’s helpful to think of how to address the current financial crisis (and I don’t use that word casually) in terms of the end-state we want to achieve, and the transition plan to get there.

The problem we face is often described as mind-bendingly complex, but in its essentials, it is simple.

The State of the Race

Nice summary of the race:
RealClearPolitics - HorseRaceBlog - The State of the Race
There's been a lot of talk about this dynamic race - "game changers" and "moments" and things of that nature. Regular readers of mine know that I don't subscribe to the view of politics inherent to that kind of analysis.

As an alternative to discussing Fannie, Freddie, lipstick on pigs, hacked emails, and patriotic 1040 filers - I thought I would put some simple numbers on the board to give us a sense of exactly what has changed since June 3rd.

I've broken the national polling into two sorting categories. First, we sort by pollster. We group the Gallup polls together, then the Rasmussen polls, then the remaining polls.

Second, we sort by date. We group the polls for June, then for July, then for August prior to the conventions, then for today.

Here are the results...

British ethicist: Senile should be “put down”

The slope just got more slippery:

Hot Air » Blog Archive » British ethicist: Senile should be “put down”
In yet another revealing moment for nationalized health care, a highly respected British ethicist said that dementia sufferers should get euthanized in order to preserve resources for healthier people. Baroness Warnock, described as “Britain’s leading moral philosopher”, said that the government should license people to be “put down” and stop being a drain on society:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is there a happiness gene?

It seems like with most things genetics is proving more complicated than the scientists anticipated:

The Corner on National Review Online
Media outlets will often speak loosely of things such as a “happiness gene,” a “gay gene,” or a “smart gene.” The state-of-the-art method for finding such a link is something called a “genome-wide association study” (GWAS). In a GWAS, scientists use blood or saliva samples to sequence the DNA for a group of several thousand people who exhibit a trait or behavior of interest (the “case group”), and for a second group of several thousand who do not exhibit the trait or behavior (the “control group”). Scientists then look for genetic differences between the two groups. In cases where a single malfunctioning gene creates, for example, a catastrophic disease that overwhelms other genetic and environmental factors, a GWAS can quickly pinpoint the culprit. Sometimes, however, the behavior or trait is caused by several interacting genes — so that, for example, Gene 1 has some effect only if Gene 2 has a special structure. This is called “epistatic interaction,” and can involve a large number of genes. Epistatic interactions make genetic effects harder to identify. Scientists deal with this problem and others by creating larger and larger case and control groups. The scaling up of such studies is among the most exciting frontiers in genetics. It is essentially an engineering problem, and money poured into solving it will likely improve human health through genetic screening and, ultimately, therapies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin's e-mail

This is interesting:  HT: Karupshun
pastebin - collaborative debugging tool
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THE INCIDENT
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WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
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- Very recently an anonymous poster on /b/ claimed to have hacked Sarah Palin's Yahoo e-mail account.
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- Sarah Palin used the e-mail address gov.sarah@yahoo.com for public communication. Several media outlets have confirmed this fact prior to this "incident".
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SOURCE: http://thinkprogress.org/2008/09/10/palin-email-privilege/
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SOURCE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/15-7
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- The e-mail address that the poster hacked was gov.palin@yahoo.com. This second e-mail address, previously unknown publicly, was used for private communcations.
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- Yahoo e-mail addresses, unlike .gov e-mail addresses, are not subject to archiving and oversight. This fact has led to controversy from several sources, including fellow Republicans, asking her to release e-mails from her Yahoo account.
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- The anonymous poster apparently panicked, and released the password onto /b/.
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- Several other posters on /b/ took screenshots of the Inbox and various e-mails.
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- Some of the screenshots reference several people in Alaska state government. One of these people is Sean Parnell, Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Parnell mentions KFQD Radio's Dan Fagan, to whom he gave an interview about Palin's ACES initiative. Lt. Gov. Parnell's e-mail address is verified via an Alaska Republican Central Committee contact listing.
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SOURCE: http://gov.state.ak.us/aces/
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SOURCE: http://www.alaskarepublicans.com/centralcommittee.aspx
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- One of the screenshots references the Yahoo account fek9wnr, Todd Palin, Sarah's husband who is at the heart of the controversy over her use of Yahoo e-mail for public dealings. The fek9wnr account was verified as being Todd Palin via a public posting to an automotive enthusiast BBS from August 2006.
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SOURCE: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/centurionconversions/message/2309
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- Several photographs of her family were allegedly downloaded from the e-mail account.
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- A scan of profiles.yahoo.com put gov.palin@yahoo.com's profile update date at 04/05/2008, long before any VP nod was apparent. If this were a fake, the perpetrator would've had to travel into the past and create an account or be very good at guessing who the VP candidate would be 5+ months later, not to mention faking an overwhelming amount of e-mails, photographs, verified private cellphone numbers, and other information.
#

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- A good samaritan in the /b/ thread reset the password account with the intention of handing it over to Palin, a process known on /b/ as "white knighting". This locked everyone else out of the account. The "white knight" posted a screenshot to /b/ of his pending message to one of Palin's contacts about how to recover the account, but made the critical mistake of not blanking out the new password he set.
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- Several other people in the /b/ thread then apparently logged in using this new password, and they all attempted to reset the password at once, causing a security trap at Yahoo to automatically put a 24-hour lockout on the account.
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Also info at Gawker.

Letters from al Qaeda

Some of the things that are happening in Iraq that most never hear about:
Letters from al Qaeda leaders show Iraqi effort is in disarray - The Long War Journal
Al Qaeda's senior leadership has lost confidence in its commander in Iraq and views the situation in the country as dire, according to a series of letters intercepted by Multinational Forces Iraq earlier this year.

The letters, which have been sent exclusively to The Long War Journal by Multinational Forces Iraq, are a series of communications between Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq. These letters were intercepted by Coalition forces in Baghdad on April 24, 2008. One of the letters written by Zawahiri is dated March 6, 2008.

From the Fact Check Desk: Obama's New Spanish Language TV Ad Es ErrĂ³neo

Seems that the Obama side mis-characterized McCain...again.
Political Punch
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has launched a new Spanish-language TV ad that seeks to paint Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as anti-immigrant, even tying the Republican to his longtime conservative talk-radio nemesis Rush Limbaugh...

There are some real factual problems with this ad, which is titled “Dos Caras,” or two faces.

First of all, tying Sen. McCain – especially on the issue of immigration reform – to Limbaugh is unfair.

Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue. Vociferously. And in a larger sense, it’s unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh on a host of issues since Limbaugh, as any even occasional listener of his knows, doesn’t particularly care for McCain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SARAH PALIN'S MURDEROUS WEB OF DEATH

It's becoming obvious that sinister forces are at work:
Greg Gutfeld: SARAH PALIN'S MURDEROUS WEB OF DEATH
Calling Sarah Palin a murderer might seem a stretch.

At first.

But alarmingly, Sarah Louise Heath Palin was born on February 11, 1964 - a suspicious beginning, as it is also the forty-eighth anniversary of the arrest of the free-thinking "first-wave feminist" Emma Goldman, for lecturing on the benefits of... birth control.

This "coincidence" could be easily dismissed, if poet and woman Sylvia Plath had not committed suicide one year (to the day) prior to the birth of Palin. Whether Palin was aware of this fact as a child isn't known - and whether the banning of the book "The Bell Jar" was actually discussed with her parents cannot be said for certain, but there had to be a reason why both mother and father landed comfortable jobs at various schools of learning - convenient locations that gave them easy access- not simply to books - but to bells, jars, and to children as well.

Yes: Our children...many of whom at the time were childlike - and vulnerable, like the late Sylvia Plath. If Plath could not weather the already considerable exploits of a youthful Palin - what harm might come to these young and helpless individuals?

"A lot," says one person who wishes to remain anonymous because I am related to him.

Palin was "born" in Sandpoint, Idaho - but for murky reasons fled to Alaska - a well-timed move considering that only a decade or so later, Sandpoint would become a destination for like-minded travelers called the Aryan Nations. The organization claims to have disbanded in 2001 - a "fact" Palin might want us to believe, as she made more than several visits back to Idaho - for what observers call "schooling." Not necessarily an advocate of "white power," it is safe to say that Palin is white, and full of power.

That's what some skeptics might call "convenient."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Your intentions do not so much matter as does your audience’s…

Words of wisdom when (not if) those of us who are Pentecostals will be mocked for our beliefs and who we are.



Your intentions do not so much matter as does your audience’s…
It seems ironic to me that "lipstick on a pig" is the illustration at the center of the political debate right now. Frankly, I personally could care less whether Obama was referring to Palin or not. What I mean to say is that it is ironic because I think the best biblical wisdom we have from our Lord for this time is also about swine. Allow me to elaborate.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Inside Obama’s Acorn

Interesting:
Inside Obama’s Acorn
What if Barack Obama’s most important radical connection has been hiding in plain sight all along? Obama has had an intimate and long-term association with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), the largest radical group in America. If I told you Obama had close ties with MoveOn.org or Code Pink, you’d know what I was talking about. Acorn is at least as radical as these better-known groups, arguably more so. Yet because Acorn works locally, in carefully selected urban areas, its national profile is lower. Acorn likes it that way. And so, I’d wager, does Barack Obama.

UK’s first official sharia courts

Wow, this doesn't sound good.

Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts - Times Online
ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Barack Obama the speechmaker is being rumbled

Funny how it takes a British newspaper to explain something the American newspapers haven't been able to understand.

Barack Obama the speechmaker is being rumbled | Gerard Baker - Times Online
But let me try to explain to my fellow non-Americans why Mr Obama's problems go well beyond that. Even if you think that Americans should want to turn their country into a European-style system, there is a perfectly good reason that you might have grave doubts about Mr Obama.

The essential problem coming to light is a profound disconnect between the Barack Obama of the candidate's speeches, and the Barack Obama who has actually been in politics for the past decade or so.

Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government's effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,

Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

33 Disturbing But True Facts About Eugenics

And some people complain about the lack of human rights in the west today.
33 Disturbing But True Facts About Eugenics
What do the SAT, the Kellogg Company, Woodrow Wilson and Adolf Hitler all have in common? They are all connected by the practice of eugenics in the first half the 20th century.

From 1904 until shortly after the close of WWII, the United States aggressively engaged in a scientific quest to create a master race. This radical new science, dubbed “eugenics” by Sir Francis Galton in 1883, called for selective breeding between those deemed “fit” for existence (i.e. generally those of Nordic descent), with sterilization, marriage prohibition and even euthanasia aimed at those deemed “unfit.”

Octapodi Escape!

Great short:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Those darn Christianist Presidents

Sarah Palin: Brings out the worst in the left.

The smears have been so over the top that I am beginning to wonder if there is a spiritual component.  Actually, I wonder no longer.

TheHill.com - Mad about Sarah
What is it about Sarah Palin that seems to have driven so many smart, thoughtful Obama supporters around the bend?

Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, wrote that Palin’s “greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman” and denounced “the Republican Party’s cynical calculation that because [Palin] has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies … she speaks for the women of America.”

Carol Fowler, the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said that Palin’s “primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.”

Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan, wrote that Palin’s values “more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers” and asked: “What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick.”

The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen wrote of “[Palin’s] sarcasm, her exaggerations, her smug provincialism, her hypocrisy about family and government, her exploitation of mommyhood …”

Salon’s Cintra Wilson wrote that “Sarah Palin and her virtual burqa have me and my friends retching into our handbags. She’s such a power-mad, backwater beauty-pageant casualty, it’s easy to write her off and make fun of her. But in reality I feel as horrified as a ghetto Jew watching the rise of National Socialism.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

All Beliefs Welcome, Unless They are Forced on Others

When religious history professor's go bad:

Wendy Doniger: All Beliefs Welcome, Unless They are Forced on Others - On Faith at washingtonpost.com
Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman. The Republican party's cynical calculation that because she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies (and drives them to school! wow!) she speaks for the women of America, and will capture their hearts and their votes, has driven thousands of real women to take to their computers in outrage. She does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Camille Paglia

Politically we are on two ends of the spectrum, but she is always a thoughtful and articulate read.  A classic open liberal.

Salon.com | Fresh blood for the vampire
Pow! Wham! The Republicans unleashed a doozy -- one of the most stunning surprises that I have ever witnessed in my adult life. By lunchtime, Obama's triumph of the night before had been wiped right off the national radar screen. In a bold move I would never have thought him capable of, McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his pick for vice president. I had heard vaguely about Palin but had never heard her speak. I nearly fell out of my chair. It was like watching a boxing match or a quarter of hard-hitting football -- or one of the great light-saber duels in "Star Wars." (Here are the two Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, going at it with Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace.") This woman turned out to be a tough, scrappy fighter with a mischievous sense of humor.

Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

In the U.S., the ultimate glass ceiling has been fiendishly complicated for women by the unique peculiarity that our president must also serve as commander in chief of the armed forces. Women have risen to the top in other countries by securing the leadership of their parties and then being routinely promoted to prime minister when that party won at the polls. But a woman candidate for president of the U.S. must show a potential capacity for military affairs and decision-making. Our president also symbolically represents the entire history of the nation -- a half-mystical role often filled elsewhere by a revered if politically powerless monarch.

As a dissident feminist, I have been arguing since my arrival on the scene nearly 20 years ago that young American women aspiring to political power should be studying military history rather than taking women's studies courses, with their rote agenda of never-ending grievances. I have repeatedly said that the politician who came closest in my view to the persona of the first woman president was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose steady nerves in crisis were demonstrated when she came to national attention after the mayor and a gay supervisor were murdered in their City Hall offices in San Francisco. Hillary Clinton, with her schizophrenic alteration of personae, has never seemed presidential to me -- and certainly not in her bland and overpraised farewell speech at the Democratic convention (which skittered from slow, pompous condescension to trademark stridency to unseemly haste).

Feinstein, with her deep knowledge of military matters, has true gravitas and knows how to shrewdly thrust and parry with pesky TV interviewers. But her style is reserved, discreet, mandarin. Sarah Palin is like Annie Oakley, a brash ambassador from America's pioneer past. She immediately reminded me of the frontier women of the Western states, which first granted women the right to vote after the Civil War -- long before the federal amendment guaranteeing universal woman suffrage was passed in 1919. Frontier women faced the same harsh challenges and had to tackle the same chores as men did -- which is why men could regard them as equals, unlike the genteel, corseted ladies of the Eastern seaboard, which fought granting women the vote right to the bitter end.

Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics -- which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama's campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains. I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don't see her arrival as portending the end of civil liberties or life as we know it.

Has Sarah Palin spoken in tongues?

Excellent article by Doug Wead.

Has Sarah Palin spoken in tongues? « Doug Wead The Blog
The media is on the hunt and they smell a kill. Didn’t Obama’s pastor seriously damage his cause? Won’t Palin’s Pentecostalism hurt her? So why does Barack Obama still seem to be in a stupor over John McCain’s pick for Vice President? And what is the source of John McCain’s cocky smile?

Because Obama and McCain are politicians and not just your average politicians, they are among the best. The American people are getting their money’s worth in this contest. And as politicians, they know the numbers, the numbers that the media in their supreme arrogance over anything religious, always seems to disbelieve.

And here are the numbers. Beware. You are not going to believe what I am about to tell you but the references are all at the end of the blog, so hang tight and follow the numbers and the logic. John McCain did just that and it is why he is still in a race that the Democrats should have already won. And it is why Obama is looking stunned.

Here they are. According to Barna, 36% of the American public are charismatic or Pentecostal Christians. We are talking about huge numbers, probably 80 million adults.


HT: Janet

The Supreme Court and the Constitution

Disturbing.

Rasmussen Reports™: The most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a presidential election.
While 82% of voters who support McCain believe the justices should rule on what is in the Constitution, just 29% of Barack Obama’s supporters agree. Just 11% of McCain supporters say judges should rule based on the judge’s sense of fairness, while nearly half (49%) of Obama supporters agree.

HOW OBAMA BLEW IT

Keeps getting better:
HOW OBAMA BLEW IT - New York Post
Obama's toughest challenge has always been to connect with working-class swing voters. So attacking the poster child for small-town values, Sarah Palin, was a bad strategy.

No, Obama didn't engage in the mass sneering at Palin - but he did fall into the trap of disrespecting her. When McCain chose her, the Obama campaign's first response was to ridicule the size of her town. Then the candidate himself began referring to her as a "former mayor" when she is in fact a sitting governor.

When she retaliated (justifiably) by mocking his stint as a organizer, the Obama camp was clearly rattled. Obama himself actually began arguing about the importance of community organizing. His supporters amplified this cry - claiming Palin's attack was a racist slur and passing around e-mails titled "Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor."

Meanwhile, the rest of the country was probably wondering what being a community organizer has to do with being president.

Lured by the McCain camp, Obama supporters engaged in an argument about who had more overall experience - the top of the Democratic ticket or the bottom of the GOP ticket. This diminished Obama.

Meanwhile, the media lit up in all their cultural-elite splendor.

Alaska? they sneered. It has the population of Las Vegas! Funny how the coastal elite only sneers at red states with small populations. Howard Dean hailed from a blue state with almost the same population as Alaska and was a national phenomenon and front-runner for the presidency. Joe Biden's Delaware has a similarly small population - but no mocking was forthcoming there.

Evangelicals will never vote for a woman who works! they declared. This from people who've likely never met an evangelical in their lives. They could barely contain themselves when they found out Gov. Palin's daughter was pregnant, so sure were they that evangelicals would hang her from the highest tree. When evangelical leaders expressed support, there was a palpable disappointment that Palin or her daughter wasn't branded with a scarlet letter.

New Washington Post "Expose" on Palin:

These smears are beginning to look silly:

The Volokh Conspiracy - -
You have to read the article carefully to figure this out, but what the story ultimately reveals is that Palin (a) billed the state for most expenses allowed by law, including per diem when she stayed in her own home (her "duty station" was the state capitol of Juneau) in Wasilla; (b) didn't bill the state for other expenses, when she could have done so lawfully, such as per diems for her children; and (c) spent a lot less money on expenses than did her predecessor, especially on travel and by ridding herself of the state's personal chef. [FWIW, she apparently maintained two residences, the governor's mansion in Juneau, which by state law is her official work "base" and where assumedly she didn't get a per diem (but where her predecessor had a personal chef whom she let go), and Wasilla, from where she commuted to Anchorage for work when the legislature wasn't in session. Saintly to take the per diem she was legally entitled to when in the second residence? No. Worthy of the lead headline on Washingtonpost.com? Please! Not illegal, not unethical, and not a scandal.]

Meanwhile, I have to wonder whether the Post has several reporters looking over Joe Biden's expense reports. Does he bill the government for his daily roundtrip to Delaware? How many "fact-finding missions" has he participated in annually during his Senate career? Inquiring minds want to know?

UPDATE: The Post doesn't do the math for us, but the total per diem claimed was $16,951 divided divided by 312 days, or $54.33 per day (the per diem is $60, so there were some partial days).

Obama: What happened?

This is getting interesting.

Hot Air » Blog Archive » Obama: What happened?
Obama is flailing, because he’s getting exposed. All anyone has to ask Obama is this question: “what have you yourself done to effect change and reform at any political risk to yourself?” His only examples come from bills he co-sponsored that were so uncontroversial that they passed without roll-call votes.

He takes umbrage with McCain’s attack on his theme of change, but Obama usurped it in the first place. He made it even more obvious by picking Joe Biden as his running mate. Obama’s talking about McCain’s advisers being former corporate lobbyists, but Biden’s son Hunter has been lobbying Congress for years on behalf of corporations. And Obama should know — he’s cut Hunter at least one earmark himself.

Monday, September 08, 2008

On the stump at El Pinto

bit of jealousy on my part. McCain and Palin are at the El Pinto in Albuquerque, some of the best Mexican food in the nation.


Obama and Biden Voted for Bridge to Nowhere

Hmm...what's that about the Palin flip flopping?

Chicago Daily Observer | Obama and Biden Voted for Bridge to Nowhere
Now that Alaska is front and center in the news again, it is a good time to catch up on a favorite story, The Bridge to Nowhere, using the Washington Post US Congress Votes Database.

Though Gov. Palin originally supported the earmark spending on the Ketchikan bridge (“to nowhere), she eventually killed the project, chosing to spend Federal money on other infrasturcture programs.

However, Sen. Biden and Sen. Obama voted for funding the Bridge, even when given a second chance by Sen. Tom Coburn, who proposed shifting earmark funds to Katrina relief.

Sen. McCain did not vote on the Coburn Amendment, though he is on record as opposing the Ketchikan bridge earmark.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

When Barack's berserkers lost the plot

Hatred and bitterness will only cause you problems, even in politics.
Nick Cohen: When Barack's berserkers lost the plot
My colleagues in the American liberal press had little to fear at the start of the week. Their charismatic candidate was ahead in virtually every poll. George W Bush was so unpopular that conservatives were scrambling around for reasons not to invite the Republican President to the Republican convention. Democrats had only to maintain their composure and the White House would be theirs. During the 1997 British general election, the late Lord Jenkins said that Tony Blair was like a man walking down a shiny corridor carrying a precious vase. He was the favourite and held his fate in his hands. If he could just reach the end of the hall without a slip, a Labour victory was assured. The same could have been said of the American Democrats last week. But instead of protecting their precious advantage, they succumbed to a spasm of hatred and threw the vase, the crockery, the cutlery and the kitchen sink at an obscure politician from Alaska.

For once, the postmodern theories so many of them were taught at university are a help to the rest of us. As a Christian, conservative anti-abortionist who proved her support for the Iraq War by sending her son to fight in it, Sarah Palin was 'the other' - the threatening alien presence they defined themselves against. They might have soberly examined her reputation as an opponent of political corruption to see if she was truly the reformer she claimed to be. They might have gently mocked her idiotic creationism, while carefully avoiding all discussion of the racist conspiracy theories of Barack Obama's church.

But instead of following a measured strategy, they went berserk.

The Democrats in Trouble?

Read who said this and go wow, just wow.

Palin floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee
The Democrats are in trouble. Sarah Palin has totally changed the dynamics of this campaign.

Period.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Obama’s Existential Crisis

For the first time Obama is losing momentum. In speaking with people, everyone has been talking about Palin this or Palin that. I sense real trouble for Obama.

Pajamas Media » Obama’s Existential Crisis
Last week in one fell swoop, John McCain completely changed the dynamic of this presidential election — this campaign is no longer a referendum on Barack Obama. If events of the past few days are any indication, this paradigm shift has caused a staggering existential crisis for Obama and his supporters.

The Democratic Party gamble in this election was hedged on a bet that the Obama campaign could maintain the media’s focus and the electorate’s attention on “The One” to divert attention from all of his attached inside-the-Beltway strings. That illusion has been shattered. For the first time in this campaign, Obama is playing catch-up.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Real Google Agenda

I have been concerned with Microsoft for some time, but google is after more. In our world of technology the most important thing is data. The one that controls the flow of information will be very powerful indeed.

Edgelings.com » The Real Google Agenda
But nowhere is the power to apply technology for its own sake more available than at Google. And despite the company’s motto, and childlike logo and homepage, this is the real driving force behind the company. And the long-term goal of this applied technology? Google has already said it: to manage all of the world’s information.

Five years ago, this seemed harmless enough, even welcome. The Web is a huge, messy place – so what’s wrong with having some help navigating through it? But as Google has grown larger, and after it has taken over the big, general stuff (the Web) and begun focusing on the smaller, more specialized stuff (libraries, personal records, search patterns) that we begin to understand what “all” means . . .and what Google is willing to do to get it.

For example, a couple weeks ago, in a barely noticed blog entry, reporter Clint Boulton of Computerworld recounted a conversation he’d had with a Google insider who admitted that whatever the company was saying publicly – and to Congress — about user privacy, it was indeed tracking not just user search trails, but also their identities – so-called “Deep Packet Inspection.” The entry drew few readers, and no comments, but it did attract attention from one source: a senior Google executive called the magazine to get it to back off the story.

Even if true, had Google lied to Congress about user privacy? Probably not – at least not in the way that Google had carefully phrased its words.

Then there is Google’s odd acquiescence to the demands by authoritarian regimes around the world, especially China, to censor its search operations in those countries. These actions, inexplicable at the time, only become clear when one assumes that Google’s real business now is not providing a service to its users, but in owning the world’s data.

And that brings us back to Chrome. Why so low-key an introduction? And why turn suddenly turn on a solid partnership with browser provider Mozilla? The answer, I think, has two parts.

First, Google believes that Chrome could be its Microsoft killer. Not only does it have the potential to beat MS Explorer, but, fulfilling Larry Ellison’s old dream, it could be a way to let users easily download applications from the Web – and thus circumvent Microsoft’s lock on Office, even Windows, the very core of its business.

But a second reason is more sinister. Only a few people have noticed yet that in the Terms of Service for signing up for Chrome, Google demands “perpetual, irrevocable, world-wide, royalty free and non-exclusive” license to any materials users create with the browser [Under public pressure, Google retracted the Chrome Terms of Service last night – ed.]

Palin's Rumors

The list just keep getting longer.

Palin Rumors | Explorations
# No, the Downs baby (Trig) isn’t Bristol’s kid, and no, the kid wasn’t born with Downs because (a) Palin flew on an airplane (b) went home to have the baby after an amniotic leak (c) because he was the result of incest between Todd Palin and Bristol.
# No, Track (the kid who is leaving for Iraq) didn’t join the NG because he was a drug addict. He may have joined the NG because he was tired of people saying his Mom was getting him into the good hockey leagues.
# No, she’s never been in any porn as far as anyone can find (and God knows I get enough google hits on those very topics.)
# No, no one seems to be able to even find swimsuit pictures of her from her beauty queen days; God knows I looked. The bikini pictures that are around are photoshopped, just like the Vogue cover I have up.
# No she wasn’t a member of the (wild-eyed libertarian) Alaska independence Party, although her husband once was
# No, she was never a Pat Buchanan supporter; even when Buchanan claims she was, she was on the board of Steve Forbes’a campaign.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin strikes back

Very well done!
Palin Casts Herself as Washington Outsider, Jabs at Obama - America’s Election HQ
Sarah Palin thrashed Barack Obama Wednesday as an empty suit whose campaign themes of “hope” and “change” are better suited to describe her Republican running mate, John McCain, a man, she said, who has spent a career in service to his country.

Palin, who came out of the blue to steal the spotlight at the Republican National Convention Wednesday, took a very public swat at her critics, using her headlining speech to scold the media for questioning her credentials and try to prove she has the policy chops to play with Washington insiders.

She also described McCain in glowing terms as a man who transcends politics and is a proven reformer.

Must Read: The "Invisible Preganacies" of Presidential Candidates' Daughters

Good point.

Ace of Spades HQ
Have all the presidential and vice presidential daughters really all been either abstinent, infertile, or extraordinarily well-disciplined in using birth control properly, even during those fumbling and reckless late teenaged years? Extraordinarily doubtful.

Bristol Palin is an anomaly, and is a first, and is noteworthy. And she is, I suppose, therefore worthy of media commentary, but not for the reason they insist--

She's the only one who decided to have her baby rather than abort it.

She's not the first one with a little secret. Just the first one whose little secret was allowed to grow into a bigger secret and then into something not a secret at all.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Losing Hurts Twice as Bad: The Four Stages to Moving Beyond Iraq (Hardcover)

Bad timing.

Amazon.com: Losing Hurts Twice as Bad: The Four Stages to Moving Beyond Iraq: Christopher J. Fettweis: Books
Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Surveying the American occupation of Iraq, Tulane political science professor Fettweis maintains that the war is a lost—and utterly pointless—cause and that the only rational course for America is to accept defeat and withdraw so that the process of national recovery—marked by four distinct stages (shock and denial, anger, depression and acceptance)—can begin. Precipitous withdrawal is possible because none of the feared consequences of such an action—humanitarian disaster, regional instability or loss of U.S. credibility—is remotely likely, in Fettweis's view.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Information Warfare

Kind of scary.

Information Warfare: The Lights Are Going Out All Over Europe
European nations are alarmed at the recent increase in probes, via the Internet, of public utilities (electricity, water, sewage, transportation). Cyber War experts are divided on whether this is just the next big thing in criminal activity (finding out how to shut down utilities via the Internet, then using the threat of that to extort money), or military Cyber War operations, scouting utilities in anticipation of damaging them in wartime or a time of crises.

A lot of these probes can be traced back to the usual sources (China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East), the places where many of the Internet based criminal gangs hide out. So far this year, there has been an increase in probes, but not attacks.