I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thought for the day

It is ironic that the people who make the "let them eat cake" argument that we don't need fairness doctrines for broadcasters and newspapers because people have the alternative of expressing themselves on the Internet are the same people who are in favor of allowing arbitrary censorship of visitors' comments on blogs and other Internet forums.



Monday, July 30, 2007

Fatheaded Ed is talking through his hat again

Ignoramus Fatheaded Ed Brayton tries to give the illusion of expertise on a broad range of subjects by glibly rattling off long strings of unsubstantiated "facts" that he just pulls out of thin air. An example is the following statement:
Darwin, of course, was actually quite enlightened on racial issues compared to the civilization and times he lived in. He was an outspoken opponent of slavery, for example, at a time when most people still thought slavery was the natural order of things. Indeed, he was far more enlightened on this question than his creationist counterparts in the United States.

"[At] a time when most people still thought slavery was the natural order of things"? Darwin was a Briton and Great Britain banned the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, before Darwin was born. Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833.

What "creationist counterparts in the United States"? Ed does not identify them. Darwin introduced his evolution theory to the world in 1859 with the publication of his "Origin of Species," so there was very little time for development of a creationist opposition to his evolution theory before slavery was abolished in the USA in 1865. Almost no one in the USA continued to defend slavery after it was abolished there.

Ed continues with more of his "batshit wingnuttery" (one of his favorite expressions, along with "for crying out loud") --

The whole world was racist back then, or at least the large majority of it. Even those who opposed slavery in the staunchest terms could hardly bring themselves to believe that the races were actually equal. What changed that? Science, of course, particularly biology. The data makes clear that there are no extent subspecies of Homo sapiens, that we are all one species, all equally "evolved."

Science has shattered the myth of racial division over the last 150 years.

Ed is so full of living crap here that it is coming out his ears. He presents no evidence to support his thesis that science deserves credit for the reduction in racism. We have known since time immemorial that the races can interbreed and hence belong to the same species. Science has actually been used to promote racism. Wikipedia says of biologist Charles Davenport, the founder of the Eugenics Record Office,

Davenport, along with an assistant, also attempted to develop a comprehensive quantitative approach to the question of miscegenation, or, as he put it, "race crossing" in humans. The resulting work, published in 1929, Race Crossing in Jamaica, purported to give statistical evidence for biological and cultural degradation following interbreeding between white and black populations. It is today considered a work of scientific racism, and was criticized in its time for drawing conclusions which stretched far beyond (and sometimes counter) to the data it presented.

Later, physicist William Shockley and the book The Bell Curve used the results of intelligence tests to argue that blacks as a group are intellectually inferior.

Furthermore, Fatheaded Ed helps maintain this illusion of broad knowledgeability by censoring comments and commenters that contradict him. He could have a little credibility if he would at least allow commenters to contradict him.



I hijacked "fairness doctrine" thread on Volokh Conspiracy!

It started out as a discussion of the "fairness doctrine" for broadcasters but now we are also debating my proposal for a fairness doctrine for blogs, i.e., a prohibition of arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments. If you want to join in or just read the thread, click here.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Peter Irons misuses "insider" and "outsider" terms

In an article in USA Today, Peter Irons completely misinterpreted the usage of the terms "insider" and "outsider" by Justice Sandra O'Connor in her definition of her "endorsement test" for establishment clause cases. He said,

Every town and city has "insiders" and "outsiders." Insiders tend to have deep family roots in the community, belong to its dominant religious group and political party, and play active roles in civic affairs. Particularly in small towns, insiders get upset when outsiders challenge the symbols that reflect the majority's beliefs and values. (emphasis added)

However, here is how O'Connor used those terms in defining the endorsement test in her Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) concurring opinion:
The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community. Government can run afoul of that prohibition in two principal ways. One is excessive entanglement with religious institutions . . . . The second and more direct infringement is government endorsement or disapproval of religion. Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community. Disapproval sends the opposite message.

In O'Connor's usages of the terms "insider" and "outsider" above, these terms have nothing to do with whether or not one "tends to have deep family roots in the community, belong to its dominant religious group and political party, [or] play active roles in civic affairs." "Insider" here just means that one feels that one "belongs" in the community and "outsider" here just means that one feels that one does not belong in the community -- it is not necessary to tend to be or do any or all of those things (i.e., deep family roots locally, membership in dominant religious group and political party, and activity in civic affairs) in order to feel that one belongs. Also, O'Connor's use of "insider" and "outsider" refers to how people see their relationship to specific actions of the government (including specific actions of the courts), not to how people see their general relationship to their neighbors and their communities. Irons cited O'Connor's above definition of the endorsement test and so was aware of how she used the terms "insider" and "outsider." He should have at least noted that he used the terms in a completely different way than she did.

Irons also wrote:

. . .O'Connor retired in 2005, and her replacement by Justice Samuel Alito most likely presages the demise of her "endorsement" test.

On the contrary, I have seen no other suggestion anywhere that the endorsement test is in trouble. The establishment clause test that is in deep trouble -- and has been for many years -- is the Lemon test.



Friday, July 27, 2007

Discovery Institute accused of Jim Crowism

The Darwinists have long accused critics of Darwinism of being holocaust deniers and anti-Semites -- now the Darwinists are accusing them of Jim Crowism. A post titled "The Return of Jim Crow" in the Red State Rabble blog said,
On June 28, the Supreme Court, led by Bush Administration appointees, restricted the ability of public school districts to use race to determine which schools students can attend. As the court's minority pointed out in sharply worded dissents, that decision will, as the majority no doubt intended, sharply limit racial integration of public schools across the nation.

Where does the Discovery Institute -- you know, the ones who claim Darwin's theory of evolution is racist -- stand on this issue?

Well, John R. Miller, a member of Parents Involved in Community Schools, which sued the Seattle school district over its racial tiebreaker plan, is guess what, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and he's written an Op-Ed in the Seattle Times to tell us.

Discovery's Miller wants the country's history of racial segregation forgotten. Where once the opponents of integration blocked the school house doors to proclaim "segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever" they now demand an absolutely color blind system for placing children in public schools. And if that just happens to re-segregate public schools across the country, as white supremacists such as George,Wallace, Bull Connor, Lester Maddox, and Strom Thumond fought to do, well that's just too bad.

"As someone who grew up in Mississippi and Alabama during the civil rights movement," evangelical theologian Charles Marsh recently told Robin Reid at Politico, "my reading is that the conservative Christian movement never was able to distinguish itself from the segregationist movement, and that is one of the reasons I find so much of the rhetoric familiar -- and unsettling."

Those on the Christian right, such as Miller and the Discovery Institute, standing on the shoulders of the segregationists who came before them, want to whittle away at the gains made by the Civil Rights movement.

To do that they've learned to appropriate the language of the civil rights fighters they once opposed. These days they talk more about Lincoln and diversity than race mixing and miscegenation. Neighborhood schools have replaced state's rights.

They no longer erect billboards calling for the impeachment of Earl Warren, instead they try to take credit for the Warren Court's Brown vs. Board of Education ruling even as they twist its intent and labor tirelessly to lead us back to the days of Jim Crow.

The unscrupulous Darwinists will stop at nothing in their efforts to smear critics of Darwinism.

BTW, IMO the Supreme Court got it right in that ruling of last June 28. The basic principle of Brown v. Board of Education is that students may not be assigned to schools on the basis of race. The June 28 ruling is consistent with that principle.


X-rated orchid


Photo is courtesy of
National Geographic News

An article in National Geographic News says of the above photo,

July 17, 2007 — It may look enticing, but this "female wasp" (left) is all stalk.

That's because this temptress is actually a recently discovered hammer orchid, a flower that has evolved to resemble the body of a female wasp. Hapless male wasps are lured to land on — and thus pollinate — the flower.

The orchid is one of six new species found in the biologically rich region of southwestern Australia.

Other orchid species have evolved to use similar cunning to attract male wasps, such as emitting an airborne chemical that mimics a female's pheromone.

One thing that is especially interesting about at least one of these wasp-orchid relationships is that the female wasps emerge a week later than the male wasps so that the orchids do not have to compete with real female wasps in attracting horny male wasps. Another interesting thing is that these relationships confer no benefit on the wasps except free porn. One reference says,
The reward offered is not always food. There is a tropical orchid with flowers that look and smell like females of a certain species of wasp. Males of this species emerge a week before the females. A male who smells a flower of this orchid, think it’s a female wasp, gets closer and the flower looks like a female, lands on it and it feels like a female, tries to copulate, gives up in frustration, and goes on to the next thing that smells like a female, and ends up transferring pollen.

I wonder how the Darwinists can explain that one. The above wasp-orchid relationship is supposedly an example of co-evolution, where two different kinds of organisms exert “mutual evolutionary pressure” on each other. My blog discusses co-evolution here and here.

My thanks to Denyse O'Leary on Uncommon Descent for bringing the National Geographic article to my attention.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ex-justice O'Connor shows contempt for public

A news article said,

TRAVERSE CITY — States must teach their students more about government or risk losing any future respect for laws and judicial rulings, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told a dwindling group of the nation’s governors in Traverse City on Monday.

On the last day of the four-day National Governors Association conference at the Grand Traverse Resort, O’Connor said an uneducated public is responsible for recent harsh criticism of the judiciary.

She cited ballot initiatives in South Dakota and Colorado as examples.

In South Dakota, voters defeated a measure to strip governmental immunity from judges, opening them up to civil lawsuits from people who appeared in their courts. In Colorado, voters defeated a measure to put term limits on state Appeals and Supreme Court judges.

She also mentioned efforts to impeach federal judges.

By calling for more civic education, O'Connor is showing her contempt for the American public. It is very annoying for us to go to school for so many years and then be told that we're ignorant. About one-fourth of Americans are college graduates.

Judges misuse the judicial independence principle to try to discredit legitimate criticism of bad decisions.

My thanks to JAIL4Judges (now linked in my sidebar) for bringing this article to my attention.



Wikipedia's hypocritical, farcical "NPOV" policy


"King Jimbo" Wales

Wickedpedia cult leader

Picture is courtesy of
"Anti-Wikipedia 2: The Rise of the Latrines"

"NPOV" is Wikispeak for "Neutral Point of View."

I have found another anti-Wikipedia article, which says,

Is Wikipedia a new fascism of knowledge perpetrated by disaffected leftists: a Wackopedia?

The following is a manifesto against Wikipedia -- against its pretensions to being encyclopedic; against its false claims of openness; against its representation of a democratic access to, and democratic enunciation of, knowledge; against its institutionalized falsification of facts; against its sordid attempts to monopolize knowledge and rewrite history by blanking out parts of our collective memory and replacing them with imprimaturs . . .

It is all done in the name of a representation of a majority and culture for the masses. The unassailable mediocrity of the entries is the credo of Wikipedians, enshrined in a new ideology, sans-party, the cult of the NPOV (Neutral Point of View). The NPOV is supposed to be the result of the checks and balances of community participation in the Wikipedia project. But that's baloney -- since the community effort is an exercise in power by the new cyber-bureaucrats that go by the name of Wikipedia Administrators, and the power-play in which the "house always wins" specializes in optimizing the degradation of information to fit it into premade slots . . . .

What Wikipedia is not, is an effective repository of the best in knowledge -- or even, much more modestly, of actual, factual and adequate knowledge. Instead, Wikipedia has become a forum for an officiating falsification of knowledge, a system for disinformation and an assurance of misinformation. Backed by cabals of administrators and bureaucrats, Wikipedia features the raw, unfettered and exhibitionistic domination exerted by ignorant and fascist bullies.

The NPOV policy and Wikipedia's associated "Verifiability" and "No original research" rules can work on printed encyclopedias and on Internet encyclopedias that are not editable by readers but cannot work on Wikipedia and other Internet encyclopedias that are editable by readers. A fundamental folly of Wikipedia was the attempt to give it the appearance of a printed encyclopedia (or an Internet encyclopedia that is not editable by readers). The reason why an NPOV policy can never work on Wikipedia is that there often can be no consensus as to whether or not something on a specific controversial topic is an "NPOV" and the result has been endless "edit wars" and the tyrannization of Wikipedia content by a cabal of "administrators." The administrators usually end the edit wars by locking in their own biased versions of articles. The thuggish Wickedpedian administrators grotesquely twist the rules in their favor so that they usually win -- for example, there is a general Wikipedia rule against using personal blogs as sources, but in the Cheri Yecke bio the Wickedpedians made an exception for two "reputable" and "very notable" personal blogs but not for this "crappy" personal blog. BTW, arbitrary censorship of visitors' comments is practiced on both of those "reputable," "very notable" blogs, so there is no way to get a contrary opinion in edgewise. It is no surprise that many people have become fed up with Wikipedia and that several alternatives have sprung up -- however, some of the alternatives are not editable by readers and those that are editable by readers might be no better than Wikipedia in regard to domination by administrators.

As I have pointed out many times, the solution to many of the "edit wars" is simply to post the disputed item along with a note that it is disputed and links to external websites where the item is discussed or debated. Such a solution has the following advantages: (1) there is no suggestion of endorsement by Wikipedia and (2) Wikipedia is not cluttered up with long discussions or debates about disputed items. Such a solution would take full advantage of the Internet's power to instantly link to external sources, a power that is not possessed by printed publications. Of course, Wikipedia administrators who have axes to grind -- e.g., the Wickedpedians who put the attack ads in the bio of Cheri Yecke -- are not interested in such a simple solution to edit wars. Also, of the Wikipedia alternatives that I checked, none employ this simple idea for resolving editing disputes.

Wackopedia was accurately described by another website, Wikitruth:

Wikitruth is a website dedicated to the subject of flaws and issues with the Wikipedia, another website run by Jimbo Wales and a massive, insane army of Wikipedians that he controls with his mind rays. It's very hard to really explain Wikipedia, but if you visit it, it says it wants to be "the free encylopedia that anyone can edit". Instead, however, it is often filled with crazy people, experiences some issues with manipulative personalities, and falls prey to abuse and censorship. And that's a real shame.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fatheaded Ed starts "Facebook" group

Logo of Fatheaded Ed Brayton's "Facebook" group.

I'd prefer a hole in mine.

Fatheaded Ed Brayton has announced formation of his new closed-membership "Facebook" discussion group. That figures.

There once was a blogger named Ed,
who was known as a stupid fathead.
The stuff he did write,
on his blogging site,
was like a balloon filled with lead.



Crusades against the Great Satan, Wickedpedia

I have to trade off every so often between "jihad" and "crusade" to avoid charges of religious discrimination.

My own battles against Wikipedia made me aware of Wikipedia's large number of enemies and I wondered how much success others have had in fighting Wikipedia, so I decided to find out and here is what I found.

What is perhaps the best-known example of libel in Wikipedia, the Seigenthaler affair, was described in an article in USA Today:

By John Seigenthaler

"John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven."
— Wikipedia

This is a highly personal story about Internet character assassination. It could be your story.

I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious "biography" that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable.

Seigenthaler's bio had other false information, but the claim that he was suspected of involvement in the Kennedy assassinations was the most damaging.

The USA article also said,
Federal law also protects online corporations — BellSouth, AOL, MCI Wikipedia, etc. — from libel lawsuits. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, specifically states that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker." That legalese means that, unlike print and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens posted by others . . .

. . . .Wikipedia's website acknowledges that it is not responsible for inaccurate information, but Wales, in a recent C-Span interview with Brian Lamb, insisted that his website is accountable and that his community of thousands of volunteer editors (he said he has only one paid employee) corrects mistakes within minutes.

My experience refutes that. My "biography" was posted May 26. On May 29, one of Wales' volunteers "edited" it only by correcting the misspelling of the word "early." For four months, Wikipedia depicted me as a suspected assassin before Wales erased it from his website's history Oct. 5. The falsehoods remained on Answers.com and Reference.com for three more weeks.

However, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not protect Wikipedia against libel charges by Cheri Yecke because the attacks on her were posted by Wikipedia staffers, including "King Jimbo" Wales himself!

According to Wikipedia's account of the Seigenthaler incident, some reforms were instituted as a result, including a new Wikipedia guideline called "Biographies of living persons," but these reforms are not doing any good. For example, the "Biographies of Living persons" guideline says that "blogs should never be used as a source about a living person, including as an external link, unless written or published by the subject of the article," but not only was this rule ignored in Cheri Yecke's bio but it was ignored in an arbitrary, discriminatory manner, two blogs but not mine being accepted as sources.

Also, a January 2006 news article reported that a German court shut down the German-language branch of Wikipedia for two days:

A fierce debate continued to rage in Germany's online community on Friday over a court ruling that forced the closure of Wikipedia's German language Web site for nearly two days this week. In a country where the most-publicized free speech cases surround right-wing or Nazi speech, it was an entry about an obscure German hacker that took the world's biggest encyclopedia offline.

The legal challenge, which began in December, peaked on Jan. 17 when a Berlin administrative court ordered the shutdown of Wikipedia.de and any redirects that took users to Wikipedia's mother site in the United States. The court had threatened Wikipedia's German parent organization with a €250,000 fine and executives with up to six months in prison if it didn't abide by the court order.

Germans could still surf the content on the US parent site, but they couldn't get to it through the Wikipedia.de address that Internet history buffs here have hardwired into their memory. With over 343,000 articles, the public domain encyclopedia's German-language community is its second largest after English and has surpassed popular commercial publisher Brockhaus as the source most Germans go to when they need to freshen up on the invention of the wheel, the Neanderthal man or Ghandi.

Following a brief court-ordered hiatus, Wikipedia.de began serving its eager readers again on Friday after attorneys petitioned the court on behalf of the organization to have the injunction lifted and paid a small fine to temporarily circumvent it . . .

The temporary injunction came after the parents of a German hacker sued the site for naming their son in an online encyclopedia entry. The hacker, who goes by the name of "Tron," was famous in the German hacker scene for his hacks, which included decrypting Pay TV and telephone cards and for developing plans for an encrypted telephone. After his death in 1999, articles and books were written about the man, whose real name is Boris F., and conspiracy theories began to brew that the hacker was murdered.
Six years after his mysterious death -- which was officially ruled as suicide -- a major debate has broken out over "Tron's" privacy rights . . .

. . . the Berlin court has conceded that it may not have the legal authority to force the American site to remove the reference to Boris F.'s real name, which can be found on the US site. US privacy laws are far looser than those in Germany and would not allow restrictions to be placed on the publication of a deceased person's full name.

A webpage has a long list of fights against Wikipedia.

There have been some modest successes in fighting Wickedpedia, but not many. I hope that my charge that Wickedpedia is violating the IRS rules for 501(c)(3) nonprofits turns out to be a chink in Wickedpedia's armor.



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scientist complains about Panda's Thumb's censorship

Correction: Pellionisz's comment was probably filtered out by PT as suspected spam because the number of URL links exceeded four.

An article by Casey Luskin on Evolution News & Views says,

The best way to rewrite history is to delete the views of those who remember it personally. The Scientist's editor Richard Gallgaher's recent article on "junk"-DNA mentions that Dr. Andras J. Pellionisz suggested that The Scientist publish an "obituary" for "junk"-DNA. Gallagher wrote:

Andras J. Pellionisz, to whom I am grateful for bringing this notable 35th anniversary to my attention, suggested that The Scientist publish an obituary to "formally abandon this misnomer." Pellionisz's objection is that scientific progress is being inhibited, and declaring junk DNA dead would align us with his own organization, the International PostGenetics Society (postgenetics.org), which disavowed the term on the 12th of October last year. Pellionisz is not alone.
(Richard Gallagher, "Junk Worth Keeping," The Scientist, Vol. 21(7):15 (July, 2007).)

Dr. Pellionisz sent me an e-mail regarding his recent experiences at Panda's Thumb. Pellionisz reports that Panda's Thumb is refusing to print his stories about how he has personally witnessed how the Darwinian consensus rejected suggestions that "junk" DNA had function . . . . With his permission, I reprint Dr. Pellionisz's e-mail below:

From: Dr. Andras J. Pellionisz
To: Casey Luskin
Subject: Integrity of Panda's Thumb

Dear Casey Luskin,
Under the heading of "Unintelligent move" by Panda's Thumb, obviously appearing as an attempt to "back-pedal" by citing claims that "a strict application of the Darwinian paradigm, also known as “panselectionism” or “adaptationism”, led many prominent evolutionary biologists to initially resist the idea that some DNA may be non-functional"

I tried to post my following note, as one of the first in the debate. I cited the case of my friend and fellow-pioneer Dr. Simons (a Darwinist) who bet his life more than one way since 1987 that "Junk DNA" was not junk at all.

My posting never appeared as the reply screen claimed "protection". This was the *third* time that my opinion was suppressed in Panda's Thumb . . . . . .

The name of the PT article is "Another unintelligent move," not "Unintelligent move."

As I said, one of the problems with arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments is that blogs are being authoritatively cited by court opinions, scholarly law journal articles, the official news media, etc.. Arbitrary censorship of comments should be avoided in order to ensure that a blog is fair and as accurate and reliable as possible. Panda's Thumb is listed in a scholarly scientific database, Thomson-Scientific's ISI Web of Knowledge. PT has been cited in a law journal article by Jay Wexler, and an August 2006 report listed 489 citations of law blogs by law journal articles. And PT has been cited in an article in the general media -- an editorial in the Daily Camera of Boulder, Colorado said,

The packages containing veiled threats that were slipped under the doors of labs at the department of evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado appear to be part of a larger campaign being waged by one man against the department.

Content on the blog www.pandasthumb.org suggests that e-mails that preceded the packages threatened to "take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth," and stated that the writer would file charges of child molestation against the professors for teaching evolution. The writer believes that these professors are "the source of every imaginable evil in our society: drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death..." He appears to have been inspired by the words of Pastor Jerry Gibson, who allegedly spoke at Doug White's New Day Covenant Church in Boulder, saying that "every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society."

The cited PT article is here.

Casey Luskin himself is partly to blame for the Panda's Thumb censorship problem here. He did not join my protest against Thomson-Scientific's listing of PT in the ISI Web of Knowledge scientific database. He did not join my protest against Jay Wexler's citation of Panda's Thumb in a law journal article. Right now Casey is ignoring my protest against arbitrary censorship on Wikipedia's bio of Cheri Yecke, even though this is a golden opportunity to fight Wikicensorship because the censorship here involves a violation of Wikipedia's IRS 501(c)(3) tax status. Maybe sometime in the future, Clueless Casey might have a problem with arbitrary censorship on Wikipedia and he'll ask, "what happened"? Well, it's like this, Casey . . .

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Wickedpedia reported to IRS for violating non-profit status

I have mailed in fraud reports on Wikipedia to two locations -- in Fresno, CA and Dallas, TX. I used IRS Form 3949A (euphemistically titled "Information Referral"). I got the Fresno address from the back of the form and the Dallas address by calling the IRS. The IRS may or may not do something -- I don't know. My experience with government bureaucrats is that they won't do anything unless they get a lot of bad publicity. Of course, the more help I get from others, the greater the chance that the IRS will do something.

I reported that Wikipedia is violating its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by not allowing rebuttals to attack ads posted on the biography of a candidate in a public election, Cheri Yecke. This is prohibited partisan political campaigning.

Please, nobody else send in another fraud report -- it is not necessary and may cause the IRS to duplicate its efforts (if you insist on sending one in, please note that it duplicates my report).

Wickedpedia has a rule against using personal blogs as sources, but on Yecke's bio Wicked is breaking this rule for some blogs but not for mine. Wicked's excuse for this discrimination is that my blog is "crappy" whereas the other blogs are "reputable" and "very notable." They are welcome to call my blog "crappy" all they want but they are not welcome to use that designation to discriminate against my blog or as a basis for violating their IRS status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Truth is a defense against charges of libel but is not a defense against arbitrary censorship of rebuttals.

Unfortunately, Cheri Yecke tells me she is very sick -- she has been off from work for some time -- and hence it is very difficult for her to help herself. However, I don't see why she can't get others to help her, e.g., ReputationDefender.com or an attorney.

I am also contacting ReputationDefender to see if they are willing to help me -- I feel that my reputation is at stake here too. The problem is that they do not yet officially offer their $29.95 clean-up service to those who don't subscribe to their monthly Internet search report service.

I may very well win this one. Remember -- every dog has his day.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Kitzmiller is most overrated decision in American history

Jay Benedict as
Judge John E. Jones III

I thought that the completely discredited Kitzmiller v. Dover decision would be just a footnote in history by now, but dyed-in-the-wool Darwinists are still kicking it around as though it means something. That decision was completely discredited when it was revealed that the opinion's ID-as-science section was ghostwritten by the ACLU. Even good unreviewed district court opinions have limited value as precedents, and this was not a good opinion.

The NOVA series on PBS TV will broadcast a reenactment of the Dover trial in November, and a book review by Kevin Padian about three books about the case was published in Nature magazine (subscription required or can be viewed at a subscribing library, or can be purchased as single article at exorbitant price of $30 for 2 pages). An NCSE article about the book review says,

Padian praises all three of the books as "entertaining and informative," giving the nod to Humes's Monkey Girl on account of its comprehensiveness; he also mentions a fourth book, by local reporter Laurie Lebo, to appear on the trial, which, he says, "promises even more lively details of this perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violation and the never-ending assault on American science education."

Wow -- a mere one-minute evolution-disclaimer statement was a "perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violation and the never-ending assault on American science education." I wonder what Padian would have said if those fundies on the Dover school board had decided to teach biblical creationism and only biblical creationism. LOL

An announcement of the NOVA program said,

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (w.t.)
November 13, 2007 at 8 pm ET check local listings

One of the latest battles in the war over evolution took place in a tiny town in eastern Pennsylvania called Dover. In 2004, the local school board ordered science teachers to read a statement to their high school biology students. The statement suggested that there is an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution called intelligent design, the idea that life is too complex to have evolved naturally and therefore had to have been designed by an intelligent agent. The science teachers refused to comply with the order, and alarmed parents filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the school board of violating the separation of church and state. Suddenly, the small town of Dover was torn apart by controversy, pitting neighbor against neighbor. NOVA captures the emotional conflict in interviews with the townspeople, scientists and lawyers who participated in the historic six-week trial, Kitzmiller, et. al. v. Dover School District, et. al., which was closely watched by the world's media. With recreations based on court transcripts, NOVA presents the arguments by lawyers and expert witnesses in riveting detail and provides an eye-opening crash course on questions such as "What is evolution?" and "Does intelligent design qualify as science?" For years to come, the lessons from Dover will continue to have a profound impact on how science is viewed in our society and how to teach it the classroom.
Produced by NOVA WGBH Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, Inc. Additional production by The Big Table Film Company.

A website named TV Barn said of the NOVA program,

Meanwhile, another program that promises to make the fall interesting for PBS got its first preview. "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," an episode of "Nova" scheduled to air Nov. 13, will recreate the widely covered 2004 trial over a school-board policy in Dover, Pa., that would have required science teachers to give evolution and God-made-this theories equal time.

Since cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom, "Nova" hired actors to re-enact portions of the transcript. First the O.J. civil trial, then Michael Jackson, now public television.

Unlike Ken Burns, who waited for trouble to come his way, Paula Apsell, the executive producer of "Nova," and the makers of "Judgment Day" seem to have sensed from the get-go they would take a lot of abuse from the intelligent design proponents. The producers said they went to great pains to represent the anti-evolution point of view, even as the Seattle organization that leads those efforts stonewalled "Nova's" requests for interviews.

"If you believe that intelligent design got a fair shake in the trial, then you'll certainly believe that it gets a fair shake in this program because this is a program about the trial," said Apsell.

Judge John E. Jones III (shown here portrayed by Jay Benedict), who was appointed by President Bush, ruled for the teachers who refused to teach intelligent design, and the voters turned out the anti-evolutionists in the next school board election.

Jones, appearing in L.A. to help promote the two-hour program, said he didn't cut people off at the trial, and let everyone have their say. Jones quoted the journalist Margaret Talbot, who wrote after the trial in the New Yorker, "It was a science class that everybody wished they'd been able to take when they were in school."

Posted by Aaron Barnhart on Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 09:48 AM in TV Barn
(emphasis added)

As for the statement that the Discovery Institute "stonewalled" Nova's requests for interviews, that is the second time that they did that sort of thing -- Casey Luskin stonewalled Edward Humes' request for an interview for the book "Monkey Girl," which was about the Dover case. That is really stupid -- since these presentations of the case are going to be produced anyway, the DI might as well take advantage of the opportunity to present its views. I think they hate me at the Discovery Institute -- they have ignored my requests for help in my protest of Wikipedia's violation of its IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status by political campaigning. I think that the reasons why they hate me are that I am a holocaust revisionist and that I criticized Luskin for spurning Humes' request for an interview. I pointed out to the DI that they can protest Wikipedia's IRS violation without becoming associated with me.

There are misleading statements in the TV Barn article. Judge Jones did not "rule" for the teachers, because they were not plaintiffs. The teachers were not required to "teach" intelligent design but were only required to read aloud a one-minute statement that mentioned intelligent design. By refusing to read the statement, the teachers reneged on their agreement that the book "Of Pandas and People" could be used as a supplemental text. And the requirement that they read the statement was not unreasonable -- in Peloza v. Capistrano Board of Education, the 9th circuit federal court of appeals ruled that a teacher could be required to teach Darwinism even though it conflicted with his religious beliefs. However, I feel that the Dover teachers should have been given more say in the wording of the statement.

Also, the school board elections were close and voter concern about the cost of the lawsuit is believed to have been a major factor in the defeat of the incumbents.

Also, this is the first time I have seen Judge Jones -- who made last year's Time magazine list of the world's 100 most influential people -- in the news since November, even though I frequently Google him. Jones has become so obscure in just one year that he should be retroactively dumped from last year's Time list. Jones lied here when he said that he let everyone have their say. He denied the intervention petition of the publisher of the book "Of Pandas and People," then thoroughly trashed the book in the written opinion. The name of the book appears 75 times in the written opinion -- about half the appearances concern the book itself and about half concern the school board's decision to choose the book. And who cares if Jones was appointed by Dubya -- that is an irrelevant piece of trivia.

As for the statement "It was a science class that everybody wished they'd been able to take when they were in school," the irony of this statement is that this is the science class that people can't take in public schools because Kitzmiller and similar decisions have made criticisms of Darwinism generally taboo there.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Insane federal court rulings on "standing"

Federal court rulings on standing to sue were perhaps best summarized by Justice Harlan's dissent in Flast v. Cohen:

A litigant, it seems, will have standing if he is "deemed" to have the requisite interest, and "if you . . . have standing, then you can be confident you are" suitably interested. (citation omitted)

The courts frequently strain at a gnat and swallow a camel by strictly following trivial rules of standing while ignoring charges of major violations of the Constitution and the laws.

A webpage titled "Constitutional Limitations on the Judicial Power: Standing, Mootness, Ripeness, and Political Questions Doctrines", part of a series called "Exploring Constitutional Conflicts" published by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, gives some interesting examples of the Supreme Court's rulings on standing to sue. Here is one example:

. . . in the 1982 case of Valley Forge Christian College v Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Court concluded--in a case involving a donation of federal property to a religious college--that taxpayers lacked standing to challenge an Establishment Clause violation when Congress was exercising its power under the Property Clause rather than the Spending Clause.

It gets worse. Here is another example:
In Warth v. Seldin (1975), the Court threw out a suit brought by persons challenging exclusionary zoning ordinances of a wealthy suburb of Rochester, New York. The Court said the plaintiffs failed to identify a specific project that would have been built but for the allegedly unconstitutional ordinances.

Well, maybe the reason why there were no such specific projects was that the ordinance discouraged the planning of such projects. Duh.

-- and another:
. . . in Allen v Wright (1984), the Court found that plaintiffs challenging tax exempt status for racially discriminatory private schools failed to show that the injuries they alleged were "fairly traceable" to the defendant's (the I.R.S's) illegal action (granting of tax-exempt status).

IMO the following two rulings jointly take the cake:

In City of Los Angeles v Lyons (1983), the Court dismisses a suit for injunctive relief brought by a Los Angeles motorist who had been rendered unconscious by what he alleged was the LAPD's unconstitutional employment of a chokehold as a method of subduing suspects. The Court said that while Lyons undoubtedly had standing to sue for damages, a suit for injunctive relief required him to show there was a real and immediate threat of him being subjected to another chokehold -- something the Court said he could not do.

. . . in U. S. v SCRAP, the Court found that five law students who formed a small environmental group had standing to challenge a decision of the Interstate Commerce Commission allowing a 2.5% increase in rail freight rates. The Court accepted SCRAP's argument that they were likely to be injured if the rate increase went into effect because the increase would disproportionately affect recycled goods -- and if fewer goods were recycled, the group would be more likely to encounter litter on its hikes around the Washington, D. C. area.

LOL. All this stuff reminds me of the comedienne Anna Russell, who amused audiences by telling true stories of Wagner's Ring Cycle operas and adding, ""I'm not making this up, you know!" It was such a trademark expression that she used it as the title of her autobiography.

Federal rules of standing are partly derived from the "cases and controversies" clause of the US Constitution, which says,

Article III, Section 2:
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

For starters, the terms "case" and "controversy" are used interchangeably in the above clause. If a lawsuit is based on the Constitution, the laws of the US, treaties, etc., it is called a "case," but if the basis of the lawsuit is that the US is a party, there is a controversy between two or more states, a controversy between a state and citizens of another state, etc., then the lawsuit is called a "controversy." So the terms "cases" and "controversies" do not appear to have any particular meaning at all.

Supposedly the following requirements for standing are based on the cases and controversies clause: (1) the case or controversy must be about an actual situation and not just a hypothetical or moot one; (2) the court must be able to provide a remedy; and (3) the plaintiffs must be "injured in fact."

As for the first requirement, anything can be a "controversy," including strictly hypothetical situations. However, regardless of Article III's requirements, the courts have good reasons for declining to give advisory opinions on hypothetical situations. For one thing, an advisory opinion might discourage people from doing things that the courts might on closer examination find to be constitutional or legal. Also, the workloads of the federal courts might greatly increase if they were allowed to make "pre-emptive surgical strikes" against purely imaginary wrongdoings. Finally, people who have not actually committed the imaginary wrong would have to defend themselves at great trouble and expense. Nonetheless, some state courts issue advisory opinions.

Also, the requirement that the court be capable of providing a remedy is reasonable. Courts are not just debating societies. However, IMO a remedy should not be denied just on the grounds that it won't help the plaintiff, if the remedy can help others (this also concerns the "injured in fact" requirement).

One of the biggest reasons given for the "injured in fact" requirement is that plaintiffs who are "injured in fact" are supposedly likely to be more diligent in pursuing lawsuits than are uninjured plaintiffs. This is one of the biggest crocks of baloney to come down the pike in a long time. Look at the Cobb County school board, which took a dive by settling out of court in their evolution-disclaimer textbook case despite having the following things going for them:

(1) The Cobb County school district is not just rich but is filthy rich.

(2) In oral hearings, the appeals court judges strongly indicated that they were leaning towards reversal but then vacated and remanded the decision because of missing evidence.

(3) The evidence that was the basis of the original district-court decision was missing and was not likely to be found.

(4) Despite being richer than Croesus, the school district received free representation from its attorney in the appeals court.

(5) The board received other offers of free legal representation.

(6) The board ended up paying high legal fees anyway -- over $250,00, as I remember -- while losing the case.

(7) The board's appeal was not just in support of the contents of the sticker but was also in defense of the board's prerogative to adopt the sticker.

In contrast to the wimpiness of the Cobb County school board, no plaintiff has ever been more diligent than I was in my lawsuits against the grossly unconstitutional $300 California "smog impact fee," even though I never paid the fee (I avoided the fee because of a technicality). My "injury in fact" was my mental suffering resulting from my having to share this planet with this abominable fee. I filed about a half-dozen lawsuits in the 9th and D.C. federal circuits and made two appeals to the US Supreme Court. My position was that my challenge to the fee belonged in the federal courts despite general rules prohibiting state-tax suits in the federal courts. I was vindicated when a top former California auto-emisssions control official testified in state court that the fee required the approval of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Also, the "injured-in-fact" requirement is not always enforced. For example, environmental laws have "citizen suit" provisions giving citizens standing to sue for enforcement of environmental laws without making any allegations of actual or potential harm to anyone or anything, let alone making allegations of actual or potential harm to themselves, the plaintiffs.

This blog started out to be mainly focused on the evolution and holocaust controversies, but it is turning out to be something of a general law blog as well (and not just about laws and court cases specifically pertaining to the evolution and holocaust controversies).



Twilight of the age of monkey trials

The legendary Scopes trial of 1925 started it all. Now it appears that the age of monkey trials is coming to an end. A Panda's Thumb article quoted the following from a World Magazine cover story article that discussed a new textbook titled "Explore Evolution" --
COVER STORY ARTICLE | “When the base cracks” July 21, 2007

Teach the controversy

Two years after Intelligent Design advocates lost a key court battle, some biology classrooms and ID supporters are finding a balanced approach to evolution that—so far—is lawsuit-proof | Mark Bergin


Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism (Hill House Publishers, 2007) does not address alternative theories of origins but succinctly lays out the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the most critical elements of Darwinism.

Explore Evolution encapsulates a “teach the controversy” paradigm that the Discovery Institute has advocated for the better part of the past decade. Over that time, the institute has advised school boards against the inclusion of Intelligent Design in their science standards . . . .

. . . the Dover lawsuit also highlighted the effectiveness of the Discovery Institute’s approach. State school boards in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New Mexico, and Minnesota along with local boards in Wisconsin and Louisiana have adopted science standards that encourage critical analysis of Darwinian Theory. To date, not a single lawsuit has challenged such standards.

“This is an approach that if I were a Darwinist I would be particularly frightened of,” said John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “The policy that we’ve recommended turns out to be the precise common-ground approach we said it would be. It reduces the decibel level; you don’t get sued; you get good education; and the Darwinists don’t have a leg to stand on.”
(emphasis added)

What would put a further damper on monkey trials would be the passage of Congressional bills to bar plaintiffs' attorney fee awards in establishment clause lawsuits (I would greatly prefer a law that would cap fee awards in both establishment clause and free exercise clause lawsuits). Such a bill passed the House by a large margin in the last Congress but the Senate companion bill was never voted on by the committee. The bills have been re-introduced this year; the Senate version, S 415, now has 18 sponsors plus one sponsor, and the House version, H.R. 725, has 59 co-sponsors plus one sponsor. Enactment of these bills into law would be the coup de grace to the "Dover trap".

Furthermore, the two big recent monkey trial decisions, Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County , turned out to be duds. The Dover decision is just a district court decision of a single judge and furthermore this decision was completely discredited by the revelation that the opinion's ID-as-science section was ghostwritten by the ACLU. The Cobb County decision was vacated and remanded by the appeals court because of missing evidence and was then settled out of court when the school board took a dive. Now there is just ACSI v. Stearns, which does not involve public K-12 schools -- it is a lawsuit by fundy schools against the University of California.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hypocritical Darwinists play footsie with religion

At the same time that Darwinists are trying to get all criticisms of Darwinism banned from the public schools as alleged violations of the so-called separation of church and state, they themselves are seeking closer ties with religion. A webpage titled "The Clergy Letter Project Presents Scientists in Support of Clergy" says,

Scientists from across the country have generously agreed to serve as technical consultants to clergy members who have questions about the science associated with all aspects of evolution. If you have a question, find a local scientist on the list below, or search by areas of expertise. Many of the scientists listed have also expressed a willingness to entertain requests to speak publicly or lead a discussion about their areas of expertise.

Also, this is discussed here and here.

This shameless hypocrisy may backfire on them someday.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Darwinist Larry Moran won't join ScienceBlogs

ScienceBlogs is a favorite blog group for hardcore Darwinist bloggers, including Fatheaded Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) and Sleazy PZ Myers (Pharyngula). Larry Moran gave the following explanation for his decision to not join ScienceBlogs:
Afer considerable debate, and much agonizing, I've decided not to join ScienceBorg ScienceBlogs at this time.

When I first started Sandwalk, I was anxious to be part of that group but now, seven months later, there doesn't seem to be a good reason to give up this site for one in the SEED consortium. There are very few advantages to joining ScienceBlogs. They do not come close to outweighing the one major disadvantage—you have to give up a great deal of independence in order to become part of the SEED site.

At one time it seemed as though ScienceBlogs was cornering the market on good science blogging so it was desirable to be associated with a group that had a reputation for quality blogging. That time has past. Now there are lots of good science blogs that have resisted assimilation so it's not so bad to remain on the outside.

Larry Moran is something of a maverick among Darwinists. For example, when other Darwinists were trying to defend Judge Jones after the revelation that the ID-as-science section of his Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion was ghostwritten by the ACLU, Larry expressed his profound disappointment in him.

Larry adds in the comment thread,

Taylor asks,
"I'm curious. Exactly what do you have to give up, anyways?"

Quite a lot actually . . .

You have to sign a contract agreeing that everything on your blog is original work that has never been published. That means I can't publish excerpts from my books and I can't publish some images and photographs that I normally put on my blog here at Blogger.

You have to sign over to ScienceBlogs the rights to the work published on your blog. That's a really serious issue for me since I want to be able to use some of my articles elsewhere and I need to retain copyright or at least prevent it from being assigned to a third party.

You have to give ScienceBlogs permission to use your name, likeness, articles, and biographical information throughout the world in advertising and promotion for ScienceBlogs and the company. While most ScienceBloggers seem to be comfortable with that, I'm not. I'm not that happy with the reputation of ScienceBlogs or SEED magazine and I don't really want to give them permission to use my name to promote their agenda.

These are substantial concessions. The monetary compensation is trivial for a blog like Sandwalk. It's enough to pay for a night at the movies every month.

As for having to "sign over to ScienceBlogs the rights to the work published on your blog," I didn't know that a free-of-charge website could be copyrighted. In several years of surfing the Internet, I have never seen a copyright notice on a free-of-charge website.

Also, ScienceBlogs says,
We believe in providing our bloggers with the freedom to exercise their own editorial and creative instincts. We do not edit their work and we do not tell them what to write about.

Despite the above statement of openness, I presume that ScienceBlogs enrolls only Darwinist blogs -- I have not seen a non-Darwinist blog on ScienceBlogs.

A lot of the success of some of the Scienceblogs blogs has nothing to do with ScienceBlogs. For example, several ScienceBlogs bloggers -- Fatheaded Ed Brayton, Sleazy PZ Myers, Jason Rosenhouse, Mike Dunford, Tara Smith and maybe others -- are co-bloggers on Panda's Thumb, a popular multiblogger blog, and often use Panda's Thumb to announce articles posted on their personal ScienceBlogs blogs. Ed Brayton has the following factors in his favor: (1) as I mentioned, he often uses Panda's Thumb to announce his ScienceBlogs blog articles; (2) he got off to a comparatively early start in blogging -- his archives go back to Nov. 2003; (3) he posts on a broad variety of subjects, e.g., science, separation of church and state, gay rights, freedom of speech, even sports; (4) he often glibly rattles off an incredible stream of details even when he doesn't know what in the hell he is talking about; and (5) he censors dissenting comments in order to make sure that his positions always appear to be unquestionable. Contrary to what his supporters believe, his supposed brilliance did not make his blog an instant success: he was still getting very few comments on his articles -- mostly under 10 and often zero -- even when his blog was 1-2 years old.

I've had my own problems with ScienceBlogs. They were very slow to respond to my complaints about my inability to post comments on their blogs. And they falsely told me that the only problem was that individual ScienceBlogs bloggers were blocking my comments and then got mad when I accused them of blocking my comments themselves when I found that I couldn't post comments on any of the ScienceBlogs blogs. A pretty crummy outfit, I'd say.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wickedpedian thugs fine-tune attacks on Yecke

One Wickedpedian thug appropriately named "Odd nature" wrote on the discussion page of the Wickedpedia bio of Cheri Yecke,

The article is looking better. My only concern is that in the recent change to "hired the Internet accuracy-watchdog service ReputationDefender to help clarify the record" implies that the record was indeed inaccurate, something that has subsequently been shown not to be the case. I think "hired the Internet accuracy-watchdog service ReputationDefender to change the record to reflect her views" or simply "hired the Internet accuracy-watchdog service ReputationDefender" are more accurate. Odd nature 21:49, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Well, we can't suggest that maybe the record could use some clarification, now can we? And how could ReputationDefender possibly "change the record" to reflect Cheri Yecke's views?

Another Wickedpedian thug inserted the following in the section titled "Allegations of Nepotism":
. . . Yecke's husband was hired as the deputy secretary of professional regulations by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation amid allegations that his qualifications do not significantly distinguish him from the rest of the qualified candidate pool available in Florida.

No one claimed -- or could claim -- that "his qualifications . . . significantly distinguish him from the rest of the qualified candidate pool available in Florida." He is not a rocket scientist. His Florida state position is just one of general administration and requires no specialized knowledge. According to a news report, his background is undistinguished --

While she [Cheri Yecke] was education commissioner in Minnesota, her husband was appointed to an $84,000-a-year position as a deputy commissioner with the state's economic development agency.

Dennis Yecke held a number of executive positions with the U.S. Marine Corps. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from University of Wisconsin-River Falls, according to his resume.

In addition to his two-year stint in Minnesota, he was also a budget analyst for the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget for 10 years.

Anyway, how did the hiring of Dennis Yecke for his positions in Florida and Minnesota suggest "nepotism"? What authority or influence might Cheri Yecke have had in selecting him for those positions?

Anyway, I am digressing. It is not my purpose here to just defend Cheri Yecke -- my purpose here is to stop Wickedpedia censorship. Truth is a defense against charges of libel but is not a defense against charges of arbitrary censorship. And Wikipedia is run by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit outfit and Cheri Yecke is a candidate in a public election and the IRS says that her Wikipedia bio must therefore be presented as a "public forum" that is "conducted in a non-partisan manner."

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Amendments and reports of Congressional bills

As we all know, a particular bill's Senate and House versions that are initially passed by the two chambers are not always the same. A conference committee consisting of members are both chambers then irons out the differences between the two versions to prepare a final joint version.

The Senate passed the "teach the controversy" Santorum Amendment by an overwhelming majority of 91-8, but the House version of the bill that eventually was named the "No Child Left Behind Act" did not have any counterpart. Despite the Senate's overwhelming approval of the amendment, the conferees amazingly decided to relegate the amendment by just putting a modified version of it in the House-Senate conference report accompanying the bill. So a handful of arrogant conferees sabotaged an overwhelming Senate majority's wishes to have the amendment in the final bill. The House members were also disfranchised because they were denied an opportunity to vote on the amendment. IMO an amendment that was passed by one Congressional chamber but not voted on by the other should be put to a vote in the other chamber when reconciling different House and Senate versions of a bill. Also, IMO any distinct difference between the two bills that is not an amendment should also be voted on by both chambers of Congress.

As I previously indicated, court decisions -- e.g., Blum v. Stenson -- are often wholly or partly based on the Congressional reports that accompany laws. IMO, Congressional reports accompanying laws should never be considered legally binding but should be considered to be only explanatory and -- at most -- advisory. In Blum v. Stenson, court opinions cited by a Senate report -- and not even the report itself -- were the sole basis of a Supreme Court ruling that plaintiffs' attorney fee awards in civil rights cases should not be reduced on the grounds that the legal representation is from a non-profit organization (this ruling probably also applies to legal representation that is initially pro bono). These Congressional reports can be abused by members of Congress to insert potentially legally binding "jokers" into legislation without the approval of the full Senate and the full House. Justice Scalia in particular is opposed to relying on legislative histories -- including Congressional reports -- of laws. I used to think of that as a crackpot position but I now agree with him.

An example of reports that are just explanatory are the reports accompanying federal auto-emissions control laws. These reports said,

(1) Because of the high mobility of motor vehicles (and also the high mobility of air pollution, I might add), national auto-emissions standards are needed.

(2) Having federal pre-emption of emissions standards relieves automakers of the burden of having to satisfy many different state standards and also prevents states from imposing unreasonably stringent auto-emissions standards.

(3) EPA has power to grant waivers of federal pre-emption to California in order to help give that state faster relief from horrendous air pollution while at the same time using that state as a testing area for new emissions-control technologies.



IRS: Rebuttals must be allowed on Yecke bio

As I pointed out before, Wikipedia is run by Wikimedia, a 501(c)(3) organization. The IRS says,

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.

However, the IRS allows the following exceptions to the above rule:

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including the presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. (emphasis added)

So the IRS says that Wikipedia's bio of election candidate Cheri Yecke is OK provided that it is presented as a public forum "conducted in a non-partisan manner." This of course means that Wikipedia must allow rebuttals of accusations that the bio makes against her. The truth or falsehood of those accusations is not an issue.

So, "I'm from Missouri" supporters who have Wikipedia user registrations that are four days old or older, I urge you to restore my rebuttal on Cheri Yecke's Wikipedia bio. Even if you don't have a high-speed connection, the restoration takes only about two seconds and two clicks of a mouse if you follow these instructions. You might want to add a statement such as a link to this blog article. Restorations performed in the wee hours of the morning are more likely to last longer. Also, I would appreciate it if you would demand -- either in your editing statement or on the discussion page or both -- that I be unbanned immediately. We've got them on the run -- please let's not stop now.

The IRS rule at the top says, "Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax." So the Wickedpedian control freaks -- now including Wickedpedia cult co-founder "King Jimbo" Wales himself, who has joined the debate -- are playing with fire.

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Honcho "King Jimbo" Wales now in Yecke debate!

For those of you who think that Wikipedia is taking the Yecke bio controversy lightly: The Great Honcho himself, Wickedpedia cult co-founder "King Jimbo" Wales, is now participating in the debate!

King Jimbo strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel -- he made some trivial nitpicking criticism while ignoring the glaring discrimination against my blog. There is a general Wikipedia rule against using personal blogs as sources, but exceptions to this rule were made for other personal blogs but not for mine. The reason given for the discrimination: my blog is "crappy" whereas the other blogs are "reputable" and "very notable."

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Wickedpedia's Yecke bio is only "semi-protected"

The latest entry in the history of Wikipedia's bio of Cheri Yecke says that the bio is only "semi-protected," which Wikipedia defines as follows:

Semi-protection disables editing from anonymous users and registered accounts fewer than four days old.

So if you are a registered Wikipedia user with a registration four days old or older, there is still time to play games with the Wickedpedian control freaks before the IRS finishes them off for violating the rule against political campaigning by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Simplified instructions for reverting the Cheri Yecke bio are here.



Sunday, July 15, 2007

Alice in Wickedpedialand

I am appreciating Alice in Wonderland more and more. The Wickedpedian control freaks who have been claiming that violating the Wikipedia rule against using personal blogs as sources is OK so long as the personal blogs are "notable" remind me of the March Hare who put the "best" butter in the Mad Hatter's watch. Here is my retelling of that scene in the Mad Hatter's Tea Party:

"I told you personal blogs wouldn't suit a biography!" the Mad Hatter said, looking angrily at the March Hare.

"They were the most notable personal blogs," the March Hare meekly replied.

"Yes, but some crumbs -- BVD-clad bloggers Ding Elsberry and Sleazy PZ Myers -- got in as well," the Hatter grumbled'

The March Hare took the biography and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than his first remark, "They were the most notable personal blogs, you know."

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wikipedia's political attacks violate nonprofit 501(c)(3) status

The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. Wikipedia's extremely biased biography of Cheri Yecke, a political candidate for the office of Florida commission of education, is a flagrant violation of an IRS rule prohibiting 501(c)(3) organizations from campaigning for or against a candidate for elective public office. The IRS says,

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.

. . . .voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that: (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

Not only is the Wikipedia bio of Cheri Yecke extremely biased, but my attempt to add a rebuttal was censored. When I attempted to add my rebuttal, I had the courtesy to not disturb any existing material, even though I saw clear bias in that material. Of course, the satanic Wickedpedian control freaks who censored my rebuttal don't know what "courtesy" means. Truth is a defense against charges of libel but is not a defense against charges of censorship of rebuttals.

Here are some examples of extreme bias in Yecke's Wikipedia biography. Her bio begins,
Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D. is a conservative politician who has been involved in attempts to teach creationism in science classes

Mentioning a bio subject's alleged pro-creationism activities in the first sentence of a bio might be appropriate in, say, a bio of Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis; it is hardly appropriate in the case of Cheri Yecke. Calling her "a conservative politician who has been involved in attempts to teach creationism in science classes" is based solely on a biased interpretation of a single minor event that happened in Minnesota in 2003. Yet about one-half of her bio is taken up with discussing that event.

There is no evidence that she ever made the following statement that was cited in support of the preceding claim:

1. Yecke: "every local district should have the freedom to teach creationism if that is what they choose" Minnesota Public Radio, June 9, 2003.

Her bio says,

In July of 2003 during her term as education commissioner, Yecke proposed that the Minnesota Science Standards included (sic) the technique favored by intelligent design proponents to Teach The Controversy in science curriculum.

Wrong -- she said that decisions about "teaching the controversy" should be made by the local school districts. A newspaper article cited by the bio said,

. . . she said she will instruct the science committee to avoid any clashes over the teaching of evolution. She will cite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the teaching of strict creationism in the classroom and a section of the new federal No Child Left Behind Act that strongly advises school districts to teach evolution in a way that "helps the student to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."

"My purpose is that we don't need to enter that debate," Yecke said. "And that these decisions lay with the local school boards."

"Teach the controversy" was also the technique favored by the 91 Senators who voted for the Santorum Amendment. And there is much more to the controversy than just evolution and ID -- there are many scientific and pseudoscientific non-ID criticisms of evolution.

The bio says,
She cited the pro-intelligent design Santorum Amendment as supporting her effort.

The Santorum Amendment is not "pro-intelligent design" -- this amendment does not even mention intelligent design. If this amendment is pro-ID, then so were the 91 Senators who voted in favor of it.

The versions of the Minnesota Science Standards circulated by Yecke contained language used by the pro-intelligent design Teach The Controversy campaign which casts doubt on evolution while offering intelligent design as a competing theory. The version that was circulated among the public did not include these revisions.

It is claimed that the original newspaper article containing this story is no longer available online, so here is the Pharyngula blog's quotation of the article --

Two drafts of Minnesota’s science standards circulated this week. The only difference? How they described the teaching of evolution.

The version the public didn’t see included words like “might” and “possible” at strategic points that clearly cast doubt on the certainty of biological evolution.

When members of the citizens’ panel that wrote the standards saw what was to be the final document, several saw the “mights” and “possibles” and protested that they didn’t write the document that way and that the department made critical changes without telling the panel.

In the end, the committee got the language it wanted, giving evolution the full stamp of approval of the state as the way to teach science to all students in Minnesota’s public schools.

The department said the confusion was a simple mistake caused by several versions floating around the agency, said spokesman Bill Walsh. He said it wasn’t that Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke — who has acknowledged her belief in creationism — tried quietly to place her own personal misgivings about evolution into the standards.

There is no proof that Yecke deliberately tried to sneak those words into the final version of the standards. The words were removed before the final version was released to the public.

The bio says,
Wesley R. Elsberry, marine biologist and critic of intelligent design whose blog The Austringer had referenced the article linking Yecke to the Teach The Controversy method of promoting intelligent design was contacted by ReputationDefender in June 2007.

Again, "teach the controversy" is not just specifically a method of promoting intelligent design.

The bio says,
Readers of blog then provided links to archived recordings of Twin Cities Public Television broadcasts from 2003 showing Yecke saying that teaching intelligent design was a decision local school districts could undertake and teaching intelligent design is supported by the Santorum Amendment.

Well, Yecke was correct -- teaching intelligent design is supported by the Santorum Amendment. The only thing is that the Santorum Amendment is not in the No Child Left Behind Law itself but is in a modified form in the House-Senate conference report accompanying the Act.

BTW, the Wikimedia Foundation is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, the home state of Cheri Yecke. How convenient.

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"Taxpayer test" for establishment clause cases

The courts use different judicial tests for deciding establishment clause cases -- e.g., the Lemon test, endorsement test, coercion test, and neutrality test. I suddenly just realized that there is also an unnamed "taxpayer test." Unlike the other tests, this is a test of standing to sue rather than a test of the constitutionality of the alleged violation of the establishment clause. Here are the different possibilities under a proposed "taxpayer test":
Proposed "Taxpayer Test"

(1) Alleged establishment clause violation does not involve significant tax money:
The taxpayer test does not apply. Examples are "under god" in the Pledge and government approval of the placement of a privately-funded religious symbol on public property.

(2) Alleged establishment clause violation involves Congressional allocation of tax money:
Taxpayers have standing to sue pursuant to Flast v. Cohen, which was not overturned by Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation so far as Congressional allocation of tax money is concerned.

(3) Alleged establishment clause violation involves federal executive branch allocation of tax money:
Pursuant to Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, there is no taxpayer standing. A three-justice plurality held that Congressional allocation and federal executive branch allocation should be treated differently and two other judges concurred in the judgment, making a majority. However, there could be standing on other grounds. For example, presumably there would still be standing to sue for removal of a religious symbol from public property even if that symbol was funded by the federal executive branch, because since the presence of the symbol on public property is the issue, it should not matter how the symbol got there -- indeed, it would be the height of irony if standing to sue were denied on the basis that the symbol was paid for by the federal executive branch instead of a private donor! However, if the alleged establishment clause violation is federal executive branch funding of, say, a religious organization, there would probably not be an alternative basis for standing to sue.

(4) Alleged establishment clause violation involves spending of state or local tax funds:
I have no idea.


The Constitution is supposed to be the supreme law of the land. Allowing a possible constitutional violation in order to follow a "standing to sue" rule appears to be straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. It might be argued that "standing to sue" here is itself a constitutional requirement that there must be "injury in fact," but that requirement is based on an arbitrary interpretation of the "cases and controversies" clause of Article III of the Constitution. Then there is also the question of why this "injury in fact" requirement -- even if valid -- should have priority over other constitutional requirements. Furthermore, there is no agreement on what constitutes "injury in fact" in a lawsuit charging that tax money is being spent for an unconstitutional purpose -- as Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, said in Hein,

The Court's taxpayer standing cases involving Establishment Clause challenges to government expenditures are notoriously inconsistent because they have inconsistently described the relevant "injury in fact" that Article III requires. Some cases have focused on the financial effect on the taxpayer's wallet, whereas Flast and the cases that follow its teaching have emphasized the mental displeasure the taxpayer suffers when his funds are extracted and spent in aid of religion. There are only two logical routes available with respect to taxpayer standing. If the mental displeasure created by Establishment Clause violations is concrete and particularized enough to constitute an Article III "injury in fact," then Flast should be applied to (at a minimum) all challenges to government expenditures allegedly violating constitutional provisions that specifically limit the taxing and spending power; if not, Flast should be overturned. (pages 4-5 of syllabus)

Also, why should "mental displeasure" be sufficient to grant standing to sue when there is no tax money expenditure but insufficient to grant standing to sue when there is a tax money expenditure? That's not consistent.

Also, the "injury in fact" requirement is not always enforced. Environmental laws have "citizen suit" provisions giving citizens the right to sue for enforcement of the laws without any allegation that there is any actual or potential injury to anyone or anything, let alone actual or potential injury to the plaintiff(s). Yet the federal courts have not struck down the "citizen suit" provisions as violations of the alleged constitutional requirement that there must be "injury in fact" to the plaintiff(s).



Friday, July 13, 2007

Update on holy war against Wickedpedians


"I don't make the rules." Famous restaurant scene in "Five Easy Pieces"


I just found the following additional Wikipedia rule:

Self-published sources (e.g., blogs) should never be used as third-party sources about living persons, even if the author is a well-known professional researcher or writer.

So much for the phony claim that the blogs of BVD-clad bloggers Ding Elsberry and Sleazy PZ Myers are entitled to a special exception because these bloggers are "nationally syndicated columnists." What a farce.

It's past time to bring in ReputationDefender.com. If ReputationDefender does not help now, then Cheri Yecke should cancel her membership.

Also, the Wikipedia rules for the biographies of living persons say (here and here):
Reliable sources

Material about living persons must be sourced very carefully. Without reliable third-party sources, a biography will violate the No original research and Verifiability policies, and could lead to libel claims.

Material available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all. Material from self-published books, zines, websites, and blogs should never be used as a source about a living person, including as an external link, unless written or published by the subject of the article (see below).

Editors should avoid repeating gossip published by tabloids and scandal sheets. Ask yourself whether the source is reliable; whether the material is being presented as true; and whether, even if true, it is relevant to an encyclopedia article about the subject. When less-than-reliable publications print material they suspect is untrue, they often include weasel phrases. Look out for these. If the original publication doesn't believe its own story, why should we?

Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material

Editors should corroborate contentious material about living persons with proper sources, and add them if they are not present. An editor who cannot find a source should remove the material promptly — simply tagging it as questionable is insufficient. Where the material is derogatory and unsourced, relies on improper sources (see Wikipedia:Verifiability), or is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see Wikipedia:No original research), it does not belong in Wikipedia.

Contentious material about living persons on user and talk pages also must follow the above rules. Negative biographical material needs to be placed in proper context. If this is done, contentious material from questionable sources may be discussed on talk pages, but problems with the material and the sources must be clearly identified, and it may be removed if the discussion has ended or is not contributing to the development of the article. When in doubt, contentious material that is not properly sourced should be removed.

Removal of material under these principles is not subject to normal restrictions, and the three-revert rule does not apply. Administrators may enforce the removal of such material with page protection and blocks, even if they have been editing the article themselves. Editors who re-insert the material may be warned and blocked (see the blocking policy and Wikipedia:Libel). Administrators encountering biographies that are unsourced and negative in tone, where there is no NPOV version to revert to, should delete the article without discussion (see speedy deletion criterion G10 for more details).

Jimmy Wales has said it is better to have no information at all than to include speculation, and has emphasized the need for sensitivity:

I can NOT emphasize this enough. There seems to be a terrible bias among some editors that some sort of random speculative 'I heard it somewhere' pseudo information is to be tagged with a 'needs a cite' tag. Wrong. It should be removed, aggressively, unless it can be sourced. This is true of all information, but it is particularly true of negative information about living persons.

Those Wickedpedian control freaks have broken every rule in the book, which ought to be thrown at them -- hard.

Also, the following is an excerpt from an email that I sent to a ReputationDefender customer service representative:
. . . I might add that I am defamed in the Wikipedia discussion page on Cheri Yecke's bio, so my reputation needs defending too. Wikipedia administrators on this page are trying to justify their discrimination against my blog -- other blogs are used as references in the bio -- by calling my blog "crappy" while calling the other blogs "reputable." I know that you don't offer your $29.95 clean-up service to non-members, but let me ask you this -- if I were a dues-paying member, would you refuse my request for help in my fight against Wikipedia? Also, a lot of people do not want or need your monthly search report service but just want help with specific problems. I could understand you charging non-members more than your $29.95 fee but I cannot fathom your policy of not offering your clean-up service to non-members. Remember that famous scene in the movie "Five Easy Pieces" where a waitress tells a customer that giving him a side-order of toast is against the rules, so he tells her, "OK, I want a chicken-salad sandwich on toast, hold the chicken-salad and the mayonnaise and just bring me the toast, then give me a check for the sandwich and you haven't broken any rules"? OK, here is what I propose: sign me up as a member, then help me fight Wikipedia for $29.95, and then I will cancel my membership, and you would not be breaking any rules.


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