Saturday, October 05, 2013

Bummer is Back

Been away for a while. A lot has changed since the quaint old days when Dan Rather almost got away with throwing the 2004 Presidential election.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rather Is Thrown Out of Court

No big surprise here, except that the failure of the lower court to have tossed out this lawsuit evinces the putrid state of affairs in our courts:

Appeals Court Tosses Dan Rather and His CBS Lawsuit into the Back Alley

NEW YORK – A New York court on Tuesday dismissed Dan Rather's $70 million breach of contract lawsuit against CBS Corp., noting that the network continued to pay the anchor $6 million a year even after he left the evening news broadcast.

Rather sued CBS and its top executives in 2007, claiming he had been removed from his "CBS Evening News" anchor post over a report that examined President George W. Bush's military service. The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court — New York's trial-level court
— said the complaint "must be dismissed in its entirety. The five-judge panel ruled unanimously that a lower court should have tossed out the suit from the git-go. The court said there was no breach of contract, because CBS still paid Rather his $6 million annual salary after the disputed 2004 broadcast under the "pay or play" provision of his contract...."

Irony alert: Dan Rather got a free shot at trying to swing the 2004 Presidential Election with forged documents, and almost got a free shot with a jury to collect a $70 million reward for his troubles. Meanwhile, in a similar suit, former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin is facing a criminal trial for his alleged participation in a forged document case which was intended to dash the electoral standing of then-candidate, and now French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2004, during a corruption investigation—of the 1991 sale of frigates to Taiwan—an investigating magistrate was given bank records originating from a Luxembourg-based clearing house called Clearstream. The listings were supposed to name potential recipients of kickbacks in the frigate affair. The names included ... a handful of top politicians—including two variations on the name of then finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy. But it turned out the names on the list were fakes, added to real bank records by a fraudster in a frame-up effort.

Sarkozy, reasonably, believed the fraud was a smear campaign to block his road to the French presidency. ... One party with the motive and the opportunity, if not to add the names himself then to push for a corruption investigation when he allegedly knew the listings were fake, was Dominique de Villepin. At the time, Villepin, the dashing foreign minister who captured the world's attention and French hearts in 2003 with a speech before the United Nations in a failed effort to preempt the Iraq War, reportedly fancied his own chances for a presidential run. (Chirac named Villepin prime minister in 2005, serving until Sarkozy won the presidency in 2007.)

The trial due to conclude Oct. 23 will aim to resolve what Villepin knew, and when, and what he did with the information he had. He is charged with "complicity" in defamation and the dissemination of forged documents.

Bummer wonders, When did France become the adult of the world of peevish children?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Left Wing Militias, Oh My!

Bummer has been away for a while. The leaked Homeland Security report about the potential danger of resurgent right wing militias, brought me out of hibernation.

Rather than give blah blah blah about it, I have reproduced the report, below, EXCEPT that I did a global "change all" of 3 words, and in 4 other places I substituted one phrase for another. That's 7 changes, in total. (It would be better if I made 15 changes, but you'll get the gist)

I believe that with those 7 word changes, the report rebuts itself. That is, it is meaningless in substance (at best), and worse is just pure political polemic (as hopefully demonstrated below).


(U//FOUO) Leftwing Extremism:
Current Economic and Political
Climate Fueling Resurgence in
Radicalization and Recruitment

(U) LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION NOTICE: This product contains Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information. No portion of the LES information should be released to the media, the general public, or over non-secure Internet servers. Release of this information could adversely affect or jeopardize investigative activities.
(U) Warning: This document is UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (U//FOUO). It contains information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). It is to be controlled, stored, handled, transmitted, distributed, and disposed of in accordance with DHS policy relating to FOUO information and is not to be released to the public, the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know without prior approval of an authorized DHS official. State and local homeland security officials may share this document with authorized security personnel without further approval from DHS.
(U) All U.S. person information has been minimized. Should you require the minimized U.S. person information, please contact the DHS/I&A Production Branch at,, or

(U//FOUO) Leftwing Extremism: Current
Economic and Political Climate Fueling
Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment
7 April 2009

(U) Prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division. Coordinated with the FBI.

(U) Scope
(U//FOUO) This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of the
phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information is
provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement
officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks
against the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be
conducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United States
Government sponsorship.

(U) Key Findings
(U//LES) The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific
information that domestic leftwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,
but leftwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about
several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first
African American president present unique drivers for leftwing radicalization and

— (U//LES) Threats from black supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for leftwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.

— (U//LES) Leftwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.

(U//FOUO) The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1960’s - 1970s when leftwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.

— (U//FOUO) During the 1960’s - 1970s, these issues contributed to the growth in the
number of domestic leftwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors

— (U//FOUO) Growth of these groups subsided in reaction to increased government scrutiny as a result of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and disrupted plots, improvements in the economy, and the continued U.S. standing as the preeminent world power.

(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

* (U) Leftwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular economic, religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anticapitalist, rejecting personal autonomy in favor of social-governmental authority, or rejecting personal autonomy entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as abortion or immigration.

— (U//FOUO) Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of leftwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government. The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by leftwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary
concern to law enforcement.

— (U//FOUO) Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to leftwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that leftwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.

(U) Current Economic and Political Climate
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that a number of economic and political factors are driving a resurgence in leftwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity. Despite similarities to the climate of the 1960’s - 1970s, the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years. In addition, the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for leftwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.

— (U) A recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in leftwing extremism may be found in the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 4 April 2009. The alleged gunman’s reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled “one world government.”

(U) Exploiting Economic Downturn
(U//FOUO) Leftwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures. Anti-Semitic extremists attribute these losses to a deliberate conspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish “financial elites.” These “accusatory” tactics are employed to draw new recruits into leftwing extremist groups and further radicalize those already subscribing to extremist beliefs. DHS/I&A assesses this trend is likely to accelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen.

(U) Historical Presidential Election
(U//LES) Leftwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many leftwing extremists are protagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms onership and use. Leftwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, leftwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

(U//FOUO) Perceptions on Poverty and Radicalization
(U//FOUO) Scholars and experts disagree over poverty’s role in motivating violent radicalization or terrorist activity. High unemployment, however, has the potential to lead to alienation, thus increasing an individual’s susceptibility to extremist ideas. According to a 2007 study from the German Institute for Economic Research, there appears to be a strong association between a parent’s unemployment status and the formation of leftwing extremist beliefs in their children—specifically xenophobia and antidemocratic ideals. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, leftwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

— (U//LES) Most statements by leftwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president, but stopping short of calls for violent action. In two instances in the run-up to the election, extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded.

(U) Revisiting the 1960’s - 1970s
(U//FOUO) Paralleling the current national climate, leftwing extremists during the
1960’s - 1970s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility
and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s
opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those
with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as
well as black supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion,
inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1960’s - 1970s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic leftwing terrorist and extremist groups and an
increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks,
and infrastructure sectors.

(U) Economic Hardship and Extremism
(U//FOUO) Historically, domestic leftwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects of a failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.

(U) Illegal Immigration
(U//FOUO) Leftwing extremists were concerned during the 1960’s - 1970s with the perception
that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to
work at significantly lower wages. They also opposed free trade agreements, arguing that
these arrangements resulted in Americans losing jobs to countries such as Mexico.

(U//FOUO) Over the past five years, various leftwing extremists, including militias and black supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool. Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, immigration or strident anti-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that leftwing extremist groups’ frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.

— (U//FOUO) DHS/I&A notes that prominent civil rights organizations have observed an increase in anti-Hispanic crimes over the past five years.
— (U) In April 2007, six militia members were arrested for various weapons and explosives violations. Open source reporting alleged that those arrested had discussed and conducted surveillance for a machinegun attack on Hispanics.
— (U) A militia member in Wyoming was arrested in February 2007 after communicating his plans to travel to the Mexican border to kill immigrants crossing into the United States.

(U) Legislative and Judicial Drivers
(U//FOUO) Many leftwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises. Such activity, combined with a heightened level of extremist paranoia, has the potential to facilitate criminal activity and violence.

— (U//FOUO) During the 1960’s - 1970s, leftwing extremist hostility toward government
was fueled by the Vietnam War.

— (U//FOUO) On the current front, legislation has been proposed this year
requiring mandatory registration of all firearms in the United States. Similar legislation was introduced in 2008 in several states proposing mandatory tagging and registration of ammunition. It is unclear if either bill will be passed into law; nonetheless, a correlation may exist between the potential passage of gun control legislation and increased hoarding of ammunition, weapons stockpiling, and paramilitary training activities among leftwing extremists.

(U//FOUO) Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred leftwing extremists—as well as law-abiding Americans—to make bulk purchases of ammunition. These shortages have increased the cost of ammunition, further exacerbating leftwing extremist paranoia and leading to further stockpiling activity. Both leftwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime rates attributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise move at this time.

(U//FOUO) Weapons rights and gun-control legislation are likely to be hotly contested subjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court reaffirmed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate the precise contours of that right. Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a radicalization tool.

(U) Perceived Threat from Rise of Other Countries
(U//FOUO) Leftwing extremist paranoia of foreign regimes could escalate or be magnified in the event of an economic crisis or military confrontation, harkening back to the “New World Order” conspiracy theories of the 1960’s - 1970s. The dissolution of Communist countries in Eastern Europe and the end of the Soviet Union in the 1960’s - 1970s led some leftwing extremists to believe that a “New World Order” would bring about a world government that would usurp the sovereignty of the United States and its Constitution, thus infringing upon their liberty. The dynamics in 2009 are somewhat similar, as other countries, including China, India, and Russia, as well as some smaller, oil-producing states, are experiencing a rise in economic power and influence.

— (U//FOUO) Fear of Communist regimes and related conspiracy theories characterizing the U.S. Government’s role as either complicit in a foreign invasion or acquiescing as part of a “One World Government” plan inspired extremist members of the militia movement to target government and military facilities in past years.

— (U//FOUO) Law enforcement in 1996 arrested three leftwing militia members in Battle Creek, Michigan with pipe bombs, automatic weapons, and military ordnance that they planned to use in attacks on nearby military and federal facilities and infrastructure targets.

— (U//FOUO) Leftwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and use of these to pressure other countries, and China’s investment in U.S. real estate and corporations as a part of subversion strategy.

(U//FOUO) Lone Wolves and Small Terrorist Cells
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent leftwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.
— (U//LES) DHS/I&A has concluded that black supremacist lone wolves pose the most
significant domestic terrorist
threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from
any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.
— (U//FOUO) Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the dangers of leftwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lone
wolves carrying out acts of violence.
— (U//FOUO) Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.

(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that leftwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1960’s - 1970s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

— (U) After the Vietnam War, some returning military Veterans joined or associated with leftwing extremist groups.

— (U) A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that “large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other black supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.”

— (U//LES) The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the black supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.

(U) Outlook
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that the combination of environmental factors that echo the 1960’s - 1970s, including heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms restrictions and returning military veterans, as well as several new trends, including an uncertain economy and a perceived rising influence of other countries, may be invigorating leftwing extremist activity, specifically the black supremacist and militia movements. To the extent that these factors persist, leftwing extremism is likely to grow in strength. (U//FOUO) Unlike the earlier period, the advent of the Internet and other information age technologies since the 1960’s - 1970s has given domestic extremists greater access to information related to bomb-making, weapons training, and tactics, as well as targeting of individuals, organizations, and facilities, potentially making extremist individuals and groups more dangerous and the consequences of their violence more severe. New technologies also permit domestic extremists to send and receive encrypted
communications and to network with other extremists throughout the country and abroad, making it much more difficult for law enforcement to deter, prevent, or preempt a violent extremist attack.

(U//FOUO) A number of law enforcement actions and external factors were effective in limiting the militia movement during the 1960’s - 1970s and could be utilized in today’s climate.
— (U//FOUO) Following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the militia movement declined in total membership and in the number of organized groups because many members distanced themselves from the movement as a result of the intense scrutiny militias received after the bombing.
— (U//FOUO) Militia membership continued to decline after the turn of the millennium as a result of law enforcement disruptions of multiple terrorist plots linked to violent leftwing extremists, new legislation banning paramilitary training, and militia frustration that the “revolution” never materialized.
— (U//FOUO) Although the U.S. economy experienced a significant recovery and many erceived a concomitant rise in U.S. standing in the world, black supremacist groups continued to experience slight growth.
(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in leftwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive leftwing extremist radicalization.

(U) Reporting Notice:
(U) DHS encourages recipients of this document to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to DHS and the FBI. The DHS National Operations Center (NOC) can be reached by telephone at 202-282-9685 or by e-mail at For information affecting the private sector and critical infrastructure, contact the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC), a sub-element of the NOC. The NICC can be reached by telephone at 202-282-9201 or by e-mail at The FBI regional phone numbers can be found online at When available, each report submitted should include the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people and type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated
point of contact.
(U) For comments or questions related to the content or dissemination of this document, please contact the DHS/I&A Production Branch at,, or
(U) Tracked by: CRIM-040300-01-05, CRIM-040400-01-05, TERR-010000-01-05

Friday, April 04, 2008

DuckSpeak 2008: Kiss or Kill?

Is it just me, or have the insipid, repetetive talking points -- designed to talk around and past things, rather than address them -- bring to a full circle the Orwellian Duckspeak?

DuckSpeak: Cadenced enthymeme for the disengaged. OK, Orwell and Socrates said it differently. Cf, the 1990's "Keep it simple, Stupid" from the Clinton camp.

The old game was Kiss-or-Kill. Now its C-E-D or K-I-L-L.

Almost 3 decades ago, a preacher/lecturer at my college (he was African American, then known as "black," with "negro" then being in the wrenching process of being discarded as an acceptable self- or other-identifier) back when Reagan was President, explained the oratory of the southern Baptist and other charismatic Christian church preachers. (He did this as we analyzed the book Elmer Gantry, about a cynical, scoundrel [insert all kinds of other bad characteristics] preacher.)

The teacher explained that in black churches, the preachers use the technique of the enthymeme, coupled with cadence. The audience, filled with the spiritual emotion of the gathering, would bond with the cadence of the speaker. Typically, repetitive phrases were used (as well as rhymes). He gave an example like this:

Are we going to let Satan control our lives? [No! comes the chorus]
Are we going to let Satan control our children? [No!]
Are we going to let Satan win this great struggle? [No!]
Are we going to let Satan rule our local school board? [No!]
Are we going to usher Satan's law into our schools? [No!]
Are we going to let Satan have a seat on our school board? [No!]
[unstated premise goes here]
Are we going to let [John Smith] get elected to our school board [No!]

[John Smith] was toast. The audience had accepted the unstated premise - that [John Smith] was Satanic.

My preacher teacher explained why he felt the cadenced enthymeme was so effective. The premise is that conclusions that one makes, have the advantage of inertia. It will take a strong assault to dislodge those conclusions. [Enter, cognitive dissonance, or CogDis, as Bummer likes to call it, which is related.] In the example above, the audience likely has no opinion of John Smith. But when they emerge from church, they have a fallback opinion now - [John Smith] is Satanic, and they have come to this conclusion on their own, via their passive acceptance of the unstated premise in the preacher's enthymeme, delivered in cadence or in rhyme, for easy downloading to the brain.

This is more effective that a straight-forward sermon, the topic of which is, "[John Smith] is the devil." That sermon may involve a different part of the brain.

The enthymeme is much easier. And, it sticks. Because our brains have pride in the conclusions we come to, all by ourselves. So my brand new belief -- a neural pathway by which I have connected "Satan" with "[John Smith]" -- enjoys a position at the top of the hill. Anyone who wishes to dislodge this conclusion has the burden of proof. That is the advantage of inertia.

Ergo, in mass politics, DuckSpeak is effective. Cadenced Enthymeme Duckspeak. C-E-D.

The repetitive rhymes of Barack Obama? Cadenced enthymeme Duckspeak.
The homespun K-I-S-S fabriations of Hillary? Not quite as effective as Obama's Duckspeak.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


What if Fat Doesn't Make You Fat?

"When the U.S. Surgeon General's Office set off in 1988 to write the definitive report on the dangers of dietary fat, the scientific task appeared straightforward. Four years earlier, the National Institute of Health (NIH) had begun advising every American old enough to walk to restrict fat intake, and ... the Surgeon General's Office itself had just published its 700-page landmark "Report on Nutrition and Health," declaring fat the single most unwholesome component of the American diet. All of this was apparently based on sound science. So the task before the project officer was merely to gather that science together in one volume, have it reviewed by a committee of experts, which had been promptly established, and publish it.

"The project did not go smoothly, however. Four project officers came and went over the next decade. ... Finally, in June 1999, 11 years after the project began, the Surgeon General's Office circulated a letter ... explaining that the report would be killed.

"Bill Harlan, a member of the oversight committee and associate director of the Office of Disease Prevention at NIH, says "the report was initiated with a preconceived opinion of the conclusions," but the science behind those opinions was not holding up. "Clearly the thoughts of yesterday were not going to serve us very well."

"During the past 30 years, the concept of eating healthy in America has become synonymous with avoiding dietary fat. The creation and marketing of reduced-fat food products has become big business; over 15,000 have appeared on supermarket shelves. Indeed, an entire research industry has arisen to create palatable nonfat fat substitutes, and the food industry now spends billions of dollars yearly selling the less-fat-is-good health message. The government weighs in as well, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) booklet on dietary guidelines, published every 5 years, and its ubiquitous Food Guide Pyramid, which recommends that fats and oils be eaten "sparingly." The low-fat gospel spreads farther by a kind of societal osmosis, continuously reinforced by physicians, nutritionists, journalists, health organizations, and consumer advocacy groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which refers to fat as this "greasy killer."

" 'In America, we no longer fear God or the communists, but we fear fat,' says David Kritchevsky of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, who in 1958 wrote the first textbook on cholesterol.

"Despite decades of research, it is still a debatable proposition whether the consumption of saturated fats above recommended levels (step one in the chain) by anyone who's not already at high risk of heart disease will increase the likelihood of untimely death (outcome three). Nor have hundreds of millions of dollars in trials managed to generate compelling evidence that healthy individuals can extend their lives by more than a few weeks, if that, by eating less fat. To put it simply, the data remain ambiguous as to whether low-fat diets will benefit healthy Americans. Worse, the ubiquitous admonishments to reduce total fat intake have encouraged a shift to high-carbohydrate diets, which may be no better--and may even be worse--than high-fat diets.

"Since the early 1970s, for instance, Americans' average fat intake has dropped from over 40% of total calories to 34%; average serum cholesterol levels have dropped as well. But no compelling evidence suggests that these decreases have improved health. Although heart disease death rates have dropped--and public health officials insist low-fat diets are partly responsible--the incidence of heart disease does not seem to be declining, as would be expected if lower fat diets made a difference.

"Meanwhile, obesity in America, which remained constant from the early 1960s through 1980, has surged upward since then--from 14% of the population to over 22%. Diabetes has increased apace. Both obesity and diabetes increase heart disease risk, which could explain why heart disease incidence is not decreasing. That this obesity epidemic occurred just as the government began bombarding Americans with the low-fat message suggests the possibility, however distant, that low-fat diets might have unintended consequences--among them, weight gain. "Most of us would have predicted that if we can get the population to change its fat intake, with its dense calories, we would see a reduction in weight," admits Harlan. "Instead, we see the exact opposite."

"In the face of this uncertainty, skeptics and apostates have come along repeatedly, only to see their work almost religiously ignored as the mainstream medical community sought consensus on the evils of dietary fat. For 20 years, for instance, the Harvard School of Public Health has run the Nurses' Health Study and its two sequelae--the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses' Health Study II--accumulating over a decade of data on the diet and health of almost 300,000 Americans. The results suggest that total fat consumed has no relation to heart disease risk; that monounsaturated fats like olive oil lower risk; and that saturated fats are little worse, if at all, than the pasta and other carbohydrates chat the Food Guide Pyramid suggests be eaten copiously. "

Will You Still Be Green If It Cools?

Bummer likes clean green stuff and generally thinks the stinking polluted world should be cleaned up.

The devil, of course, is in the details.

Bummer's green attitude isn't a reaction to the Global Warming chicken-little ("the sky is falling! the sky is falling!"), because even if the Earth was not warming up a bit, Bummer would still be in favor of cleaning up the Earth.

That is, Bummer's greenness is not dependent upon any temperature trend. So, color Bummer true green.

Having said that, Bummer is a tad bit reluctant to jump on the bandwagon of chronic science-class flunk-outs (i.e., Hollywood actors and politicians) who claim that the Global Warming Debate is somehow "over" or "decided."

(Yeah, just like the relationship between dietary fat and health is "decided"....wait, over 2000 clinical studies and none - zero - have established a statistically significant correlation....)*

Anyhoo, a little grist for the mill:

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

* - What if the anti-dietary fat movement has all been a big lie?. Cf Gary Taube's research, here.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Corn and Mape-el Syrup

Bummer knows corn, but Iowahawk knows humor:

The rain spattered against my office windows as the facts swum about my head. Was I about to become a patsy in another one of Rove's media rubouts? And who, exactly, was on first? That's when she walk in. 115 pounds of Fact-Checking dynamite.

"Hey stranger, got a light?"

It was Mapes.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bummer's Second Favorite Bill Clinton Quote

For all that Bill Clinton did to open world trade (kudos!) before selling out in order to (unsucessfully) assuage trade union demands in the 2000 election, he certainly started from a clueless position:

"You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?"

---US President-elect Bill Clinton in 1993, appalled to learn that a free market (Alan Greenspan, representative) was not required to rubber-stamp his fiscal and monetary decisions; as quoted by Bob Woodward in his book, "The Agenda."