Media Bias

Posts filed under Media Bias

Race-Baiter Al Sharpton Threatens To Sue Rush Limbaugh

Filed in PoliticsTags: Media Bias, NFL, Racism

In the wake of his false-quote and slander-induced lynching and subsequent drop from a bid to group bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams, Rush Limbaugh wrote an op-ed piece for the WSJ, in which he called out the hypocritical race-baiting of his attackers - primarily Al Sharpton and Jess Jackson:

It didn't take long before my name was selectively leaked to the media as part of the Checketts investment group. Shortly thereafter, the media elicited comments from the likes of Al Sharpton. In 1998 Mr. Sharpton was found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay $65,000 for falsely accusing a New York prosecutor of rape in the 1987 Tawana Brawley case. He also played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot (he called neighborhood Jews "diamond merchants") and 1995 Freddie's Fashion Mart riot.

Not to be outdone, Jesse Jackson, whose history includes anti-Semitic speech (in 1984 he referred to Jews as "Hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown" in a Washington Post interview) chimed in. He found me unfit to be associated with the NFL.

Now, Al Sharpton, race-baiter and hypocrite extraordinaire, is threatening to sue Limbaugh for his comments:

"Unless Mr. Limbaugh apologizes and clarifies his statements, attorneys for Rev. Sharpton will move forward with a lawsuit," said a written statement released Saturday by Sharpton's spokeswoman. "He has the right to criticize Rev. Sharpton, but he does not have the right to accuse him of criminal activity, and riots and murders are criminal."

The fine folks at PowerLine explain both the AP's water-carrying for Sharpton and Sharpton's absolute lack of a case against Limbaugh. Moe Lane is salivating with his usual sardonic wit. Israpundit brings home the point in an open letter to Sharpton:

We read that you threatened to sue Rush Limbaugh for saying that you played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riots and the riot at Freddy’s Fashion Mart in 1995. We are not an attorney and cannot give legal advice, but you are not going to sue anybody; you are going squeal like a schoolyard bully whose victim has struck him back while Rush Limbaugh does what should have been done in 1988. He will demolish you as a public figure, and quite possibly take your National Action Network down in the bargain, by exposing your long history of racist and anti-Semitic hate speech. We have done our best to do this ourselves, but our voice does not have quite the reach of Rush Limbaugh’s. When he finishes with you, no political figure in his right mind will appear at your organization as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards did in 2007, any more than they would appear at a cross-burning by the Ku Klux Klan.


We are glad that Al Sharpton finally chose to attack the wrong person, even though Rush Limbaugh will regrettably deny us the pleasure of taking him and the NAN down ourselves. Rush Limbaugh will indeed show this racist and anti-Semitic liar that there is somebody who is not afraid of him, and who will treat him like what he is: a hatemongering demagogue who appeals to the absolute dregs of African-American society the same way David Duke and Tom Metzger appeal to the dregs of Caucasian society.

Hear, hear!

For The Record: Rush Was Right About McNabb

Filed in PoliticsTags: Media Bias, NFL, Racism

Note to readers: my purpose for writing this post is two-fold. First, I simply want to set the record straight once and for all. Second, I want to have this information available for future reference.

Much has been said of late regarding the supposedly racially motivated comments Rush Limbaugh directed toward Donovan McNabb on ESPN in 2003. (The other quotes attributed to Limbaugh will be the subject of a later post.) Used to support opposition to Limbaugh's participation in a group bidding to purchase the St. Louis Rams, his comments have been accused of being either racially motivated at worst, or simply wrong at best.

Both accusations are demonstrably false.

Here is what Limbaugh said in 2002:

I’ve listened to all you guys, actually, and I think the sum total of what you’re all saying is, Donovan McNabb is regressing, he’s going backwards. And my, I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well … for instance, black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn’t deserve … [crosstalk] the defense carried this team, I think, and he got credit for it.

Full transcript here and here. Note also, at the very end of the transcript, this exchange:

Jackson: So Rush, once you make that investment, though, once you make that investment in him, that’s a done deal.

Limbaugh: I’m saying it’s a good investment, don’t misunderstand, I just don’t think he’s as good as everyone said he has been …

We'll come back to that point later. First, I want to address the latter accusation, that Limbaugh was wrong about McNabb's performance up to that point.

Was McNabb Over-Rated?

To begin, let's compare how McNabb's performance compared to all quarterbacks in the 2002 season - the season for which he was being hyped at the time that Limbaugh made his statement:

  • Passer Rating: T7th
  • Yards: 26th
  • YPG: 10th
  • YPA: T23rd
  • TD: T17th
  • INT: T1st (fewest)
  • Sacks: T18th (fewest)

(Note: unless otherwise noted, all stats are taken from

But Rush's comment was directed at McNabb's career up to that point. So let's look at his career performance. McNabb's aggregate stats prior to the 2003 season:

932/1639 (56.9%), 9835yds, 6.0ypa, 71 TD, 38 INT, 79.3 rat

Which, over 54 games, (roughly) averages out to:

17/30 (56.9%), 182yds, 6.0ypa, 1.3 TD, 0.7 INT, 79.3 rat

For a comparison (eerily similar), look at the 2009 per-game numbers (through 5 games) for Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez:

15/27 (56%), 183yds, 6.8ypa, 1 TD, 1 INT, 74.1 rat

Let's take a look at the most comparable QB performances in each of the past few years, dating back to McNabb's rookie season.

  • 2008: Ravens QB Joe Flacco (16 games):

    16/27 (60%), 185.7yds, 6.9ypa, 0.9 TD, 0.8 INT, 71.4 rat

  • 2008: Rams QB Mark Bulger (15 games):

    17/30 (57%), 181.3yds, 6.2ypa, 0.7 TD, 0.9 INT, 77.2 rat

  • 2007: Falcons QB Joey Harrington (12 games):

    18/29 (61.8%), 184.6yds, 6.4ypa, 0.6 TD, 0.7 INT, 77.2 rat

  • 2006: Vikings QB Brad Johnson (15 games):

    18/29 (61.5%), 183.3yds, 6.3ypa, 0.6 TD, 1.0 INT, 72.0 rat

  • 2005: Bucs QB Chris Sims (11 games):

    17/29 (61%), 185.0ypg, 6.5ypa, 0.9 TD, 0.6 INT, 81.4 rat

  • 2004: Bills QB Drew Bledsoe (16 games):

    16/28 (56.9%), 183.3ypg, 6.5ypa, 1.3 TD, 1.0 INT, 76.6 rat

  • 2003: Raiders QB Rich Gannon (7 games):

    18/32 (55.6%), 182.0ypg, 5.7ypa, 0.9 TD, 0.6 INT, 73.5 rat

  • 2002: Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler (11 games):

    16/27 (61.3%), 184.0ypg, 6.9ypa, 1.3 TD, 0.8 INT, 85.2 rat

  • 2001: Denver QB Brian Griese (15 games):

    18/30 (61.0%), 188.5ypg, 6.3ypa, 1.5 TD, 1.3 INT, 78.5 rat

  • 2000: Saints QB Jeff Blake (11 games):

    17/28 (60.9%), 184.1ypg, 6.7yap, 1.2 TD, 0.8 INT, 82.7 rat

  • 1999: Jets QB Ray Lucas (9 games):

    18/30 (59.2%), 186.4ypg, 6.2ypa, 1.6 TD, 0.7 INT, 85.1 rat

So what does all of that mean?

Well, for the period of McNabb's performance for which Limbaugh's quote is germane, McNabb's aggregate performance is roughly equivalent to Ray Lucas, Jeff Blake, Brian Griese, and Jay Fiedler. For my younger readers, for the period of 2003 through present, McNabb's aggregate performance for his first four seasons is roughly equivalent to Rich Gannon, Drew Bledsoe, Chris Simms, Brad Johnson, Joey Harrington, Marc Bulger, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez (R). Perhaps this comparison puts into perspective the relative performance of McNabb, in the context of the media hype that prompted Limbaugh's statement.

Note that I'm not the only one to make the Brad Johnson comparison. Philadelphia columnist Allen Barra made exactly the same comparison in an article in which he said that not only was Rush right, but that many sports commenters thought - and should have said - the same thing. Allen Barra agreed that McNabb was over-rated. Erik Kuselias agreed. Tony Kornheiser agreed.

Now, the only relevant question is: was McNabb over-rated; that is, was he being hyped to an extent that was out of proportion to his performance as compared to his peers? Clearly, the answer is yes - but was McNabb's performance responsible for the Eagles' playoff runs? Did he lead the team, or - as Limbaugh stated - did the defense lead the team's performance?

In 2002, the Eagles were 4th in the league in Scoring Offense, scoring 25.9 points per game with 27 passing TDs and 15 rushing TDs. (Note: of those, McNabb threw 17 TDs and rushed for 6 TDs.) The offense was 10th in yards per game, 18th in irst downs per game, 20th in third down percentage, and 15th in sacks.

That same season, the Eagles were 2nd in the league in Scoring Defense, yielding 15.1 points per game. The defense was 4th in yards per game, 4th in first downs per game, 1st in third down percentage, and first in sacks.

The 2002 Eagles were a team whose offense scored a lot of points and protected the football, but couldn't sustain long drives. McNabb that season played as a very conservative and very average quarterback. It would appear that Limbaugh's statement that "the defense carried this team" is correct.

Was Limbaugh's Statement Racially Motivated?

So, moving on to the second point: was Limbaugh's statement racially motivated? That is: was Limbaugh motivated by his own racist beliefs in making that statement?

According to Limbaugh, the answer is no:

There's no racism here. There's no racist intent, comment whatsoever.

Limbaugh's statement belied no inherent racism. Limbaugh was commenting on perceived media bias due to race - that is, his statement was motivated by the perceived racial bias of the media. As Limbaugh explains (ibid):

And basically what I said was, as a fan, that the Eagles are here in trouble, that they're 0-2 to start the season and they had not done well, had not shown much potential in either of the two losses - and we were discussing McNabb, and I was as a fan offered the opinion that I, as a fan, don't think he's as good as others have made him out to be. Not that he's a bad quarterback, not that he shouldn't be there, but that he's just not as good as everybody says. And I think his reputation - really I was comparing his reputation on the field to his reputation in the media. The media has portrayed Donovan McNabb as a great quarterback, and they have given him, have credited him almost exclusively with the Eagles' success, and I've always thought that there were more components to the Eagles' success than just the quarterback.

I've always thought that teams that have a quarterback that accumulates more rushing yards than the running backs are actually not going to win championships; this is the NFL, not the NCAA. The Eagles had a previous quarterback like this. Randall Cunningham was a great quarterback, but he was a rushing quarterback as well, and he oftentimes didn't lead the team in rushing, but he was close. And Cunningham got the same kind of treatment that Donovan McNabb gets by the Philadelphia media and actually the national sports media. So as a fan I simply made the statement that I think his reputation on the field does not match his reputation in the media.

And then I went further and said that I think that the sports media has a desire that black quarterbacks - remember, now, we're going through phases in the NFL just like we go through in our society. We go through society, "We need affirmative action because there aren't enough blacks in leadership jobs, or in jobs, period." Well, it's reached the NFL. There aren't enough black head coaches, which I also spoke about in an essay three weeks ago. At one point we didn't have enough black quarterbacks. Well, now, there are quite a number of black quarterbacks and it's my opinion that the sports media, being liberals, just like liberal media is elsewhere, they have a desire that black quarterbacks excel and do very well so that their claims that blacks are being denied opportunity can be validated.

They've got a vested (interest), they've pushed the idea all these years, they have accelerated the notion that it's unfair that blacks haven't been quarterbacks - and I agree with that - and so they've got a vested interest when the quarterback position opens up to blacks that they do well. And I have simply said that their desire for McNabb to do well has caused them to rate him a little higher than perhaps he actually is.

So the real question is, were the media biased - or, in Limbaugh's words, "very desirous that a black quarterback do well… for instance, black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well"?

Were The Media "Very Desirous That A Black Quarterback Do Well"?

Well, we can certainly say that the league itself was "very desirous that black coaches [do] well"; after all, this incident took place not long after the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule - the league's requirement that teams hiring a head coach must interview at least one minority candidate (something to which, coincidentally, Limbaugh had been very vocally opposed, because it exploited rather than helped minority coaches).

As for black quarterbacks, John Lott found that, at the time of Limbaugh's statement, the media did, in fact, demonstrate a favorable bias toward black quarterbacks. (And lest we forget: McNabb himself has played the race card more than just about anyone else on this issue.)

Some sportswriters (such as Mike Lupica) made the argument that the media didn't need to over-rate McNabb in order to promote black quarterbacks, because of other successful black quarterbacks such as Steve McNair, Michael Vick, and Vince Young (along with a counter-argument that the evidence of no such media bias is the media treatment of Kordell Stewart. Let's compare: McNabb's first four seasons, versus the first four seasons of Michael Vick, the third through sixth seasons of Kordell Stewart (note: these were the first four full seasons that Stewart played as starting quarterback), the second through fifth seasons of Steve McNair (note: McNair played only four games in his first seasons), and the first two seasons of Vince Young (note: Young was benched after one game in 2008). Looking at each player's per-game performance:

  • Donovan McNabb (1999-2002) 54 games:

    17/30 (56.9%), 182yds, 6.0ypa, 1.3 TD, 0.7 INT, 79.3 rat

  • Steve McNair (1996-1999), 52 games:

    15/27 (56.5%), 178.3ypg, 6.7ypa, 0.9 TD, 0.7 INT, 77.9 rat

  • Kordell Stewart (1997 - 2000), 64 games:

    12/23 (54.7%), 139.1ypg, 6.1ypa, 0.8 TD, 0.8 INT, 69.1 rat

  • Michael Vick (2001-2004), 43 games:

    12/22 (53.6%), 153.9ypg, 6.9ypa, 0.8 TD, 0.6 INT, 73.9 rat

  • Vince Young (2006-2007):

    14/25 (57.1%), 158.2ypg, 6.4ypa, 0.7 INT, 1.0 INT, 69.0 rat

Roughly speaking, McNabb was statistically better than the other four quarterbacks, but not by much:

  • Steve McNair: McNair is the closest comparison. He threw for essentially the same yards and less than 1/2 fewer TDs per game, while throwing for almost 1 yard more per attempt, and completing essentially the same percentage of passes per attempt.
  • Kordell Stewart: Kordell Stewart is clearly the worst quarter back of the bunch. He threw for 40 fewer yards and 1/2 fewer TDs per game, while throwing for essentially the same yards per attempt, and completing 2% fewer passes per attempt.
  • Michael Vick: Vick threw for 20 fewer yards and 1/2 fewer TDs per game, while throwing for about one yard more per attempt, and completing 3% fewer passes per attempt.
  • Vince Young: Vince Young is a tough comparison. Rather than experiencing the improvement in years 3 and 4 from which most young quarterbacks benefit, Young regressed and was benched. That said, he only threw for 25 fewer yards and 1/2 fewer TDs than McNabb, while throwing for about 1/2 a yard more per attempt, and completing essentially the same percentage of passes.

So, taken all together, these five quarterbacks essentially performed the same. None is markedly better than another. Thus, we could arguably compare any of these five equally with McNabb's comparison above. In other words: all five quarterbacks were essentially average, compared to the rest of the league.

Saving McNair and Stewart (who both merit special consideration in this discussion) for last: it is safe - and fair - to say that McNabb, Young, and Vick were all over-rated at the start of their careers. All performed essentially equally - and equally mediocre. Yet all were significantly hyped by the media.

Now, Steve McNair was hyped at the start of his career, also - but his early performance actually merited some of that hype. However, McNair also serves as one of the single greatest examples of media over-hype in existence. In 2003, McNair was awarded the NFL co-MVP with quarterback Peyton Manning, in a season in which Manning's Colts both won their division over rival Tennessee, but also swept the home-away series against the Titans. McNair also threw for 1,000 fewer yards, 5 fewer TDs, and only 3 fewer INTs than Manning. For the season, McNair was 15th in total yards, 7th in TDs, 9th in completion percentage, 2nd in INTs (fewest), and 1st in passer rating. McNair was awarded co-MVP for no other reason than for being a feel-good story - as one MVP-voting sportswriter admitted after the fact, in an article in which she admits that she was wrong to vote for McNair.

And finally, Kordell Stewart. Stewart may have been panned later in his career as Mike Lupica indicated, but he also was hyped early in his career, for his versatility. Perhaps the only reason the media abandoned him is that he was the worst of these five quarterbacks, and because his team had done nothing to support the hype.

So, we have not one, but five black quarterbacks who were disproportionately hyped at the beginning of their respective careers. There is clear evidence that many in the media were "very desirous that a black quarterback do well… for instance, black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well".


And as a final point: let's go back to the original transcript, and take another look at how it ended compared to Limbaugh's much-maligned statement:

Limbaugh: I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn’t deserve … [crosstalk] the defense carried this team, I think, and he got credit for it.


Jackson: So Rush, once you make that investment, though, once you make that investment in him, that’s a done deal.

Limbaugh: I’m saying it’s a good investment, don’t misunderstand, I just don’t think he’s as good as everyone said he has been …

Note carefully what Limbaugh said: "a little hope is invested in McNabb... I'm saying it's a good investment". Limbaugh said that he thought it was a good thing to invest in McNabb - to invest hope, to invest responsibility to run the offense. Rush simply acknowledged that such a desire exists - and then stated that he thought that desire was a good thing. That is not the statement - or belief - of a racist.

The Vatican and Stem Cells: A Tale of Two Headlines

Filed in Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The Vatican recently issued a statement on bioethical issues, entitled Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person), which serves as the authoritative ruling for the Catholic Church in condemning, among other things, embryo-destructive stem-cell research and human cloning.

The foundational tenet for the ruling is, as astute readers may surmise, the inherent dignity of the human being. The statement makes this point explicit in its opening sentence (pg. 1 of 23):

The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.

The statement attempts to differentiate between human dignity, which has inherent moral value, and scientific research, which does not have inherent moral value apart from the moral implications of the applications of that research. The statement goes so far as to reiterate the church's support for and participation in such research (pg. 2 of 23):

The church therefore views scientific research with hope and desires that many Christians will dedicate themselves to the progress of biomedicine and will bear witness to their faith in this field.

Having made clear this differentiation, the statement lays out the foundation of its ruling: 1) all human life has inherent dignity and moral worth, 2) life begins at conception, therefore 3) human life at the embryonic stage of development deserves all the dignity and respect due human life at all other stages of development (pg. 3 of 23):

The body of a human being, from its very first stages of development, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well-defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.

It is appropriate to recall the fundamental ethical criterion expressed in the Instruction Donum Vitae in order to evaluate all moral questions which relate to procedures involving the human embryo: 'Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say, from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.'

From this foundational position, the statement makes the logical conclusion that embryo-destructive pursuits (including embryonic stem cell research) are immoral.

So, given this position, I would expect a headline such as "Vatican document condemns cloning, stem cell research", just as a matter of course. But how do the ostensibly upstanding journalists at the Honolulu Advertiser portray the ruling? Why, "Vatican condemns modern science research", of course.

Contrast that gem of journalistic integrity with the (Minneapolis/St. Paul) Star-Tribune's take: "'Dignity of a person' reinforced in Vatican bioethics document."

Well now, that sounds just a little bit more accurate.

The MSM’s Photo Faux Pas

Filed in UncategorizedTags: Copyright, Fair Use, Internet, Media Bias, Photos

Imagine, if you will, a blogger who decides to focus his work on exposing the inaccuracy of the mainstream media's photojournalism. In order to do so, this blogger would need to post the photos to be discussed (be that discussion editorial, critical, or corrective in nature). Certainly, any rational person would understand that such action would constitute fair use of copyrighted works.

Such a blogger exists, and his blog is Snapped Shot.

The AP apparently disagreed with his fair use of their photos, and sent him a cease-and-desist letter. (The fair-use defense in this instance is pretty cut-and-dry. Snapped Shot has a run-down of the blogosphere's reaction, so there's no need for me to re-hash it all here.) After some consultation, Snapped Shot decided to comply rather than to place his family in jeopardy. After all, who can afford to fight the AP's legal department?

Here's the irony, though: the AP, who disputes Snapped Shot's fair-use right to their own copyrighted photos for the purpose of discussing the very photos themselves, apparently finds a fair-use right to others' copyrighted photos, even though the photos used were in no way related to the story (unless the AP can prove some link to a photo of a bikini-clad Ashley Alexandra Dupre in the Caribbean to a story about Eliot Spitzer's use of her call-girl services in New York).

Oh, but the irony gets even thicker: CNN is in on the copyright violations, too.

Hypocrisy: good for me, but not for thee.

Saddam Hussein’s Ties to Al Qaeda: Proven

Filed in PoliticsTags: Media Bias, Military, War on Terror

You remember the Democrat talking point, about how Saddam Hussein had no ties to Al Qaeda prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq? Well, as with so many other Democrat talking points, this one has been proven to be dead wrong - in the recently released 59-page Pentagon report.

Now, you may have heard that the report did just the opposite, confirming no link between Hussein and Al Qaeda. After all, that is how the MSM have been reporting it (see NYTimes blog, ABC News blog, and McClatchy Newspapers). These reports seem to be seizing (out of context) on the report's executive summary and abstract, which say (in part):

This study found no "smoking gun" (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda.

...these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network...

That sounds like a pretty convincing refutation of any Iraq-Al Qaeda connection - except that it is taken out of context.

What these statements actually indicate is that "Al Qaeda" itself was not directly mentioned in such documents as Extract 10, found in Section II ("State Relationships with Terrorist Groups"). However, as Thomas Joscelyn (Weekly Standard) explains [italics in original, bold emphasis added]:

...the report ties Saddam’s regime to at least five different al Qaeda associated groups, including two groups that formed the core of al Qaeda.

The Iraqi Intelligence documents discussed in the report link Saddam’s regime to: the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (the “EIJ” is al Qaeda number-two Ayman al Zawahiri's group), the Islamic Group or “IG” (once headed by a key al Qaeda ideologue, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman), the Army of Mohammed (al Qaeda's affiliate in Bahrain), the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (a forerunner to Ansar al-Islam, al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (a long-time ally of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan), among other terrorist groups. Documents cited by the report, but not discussed at length in the publicly available version (they may be in a redacted portion of the report), also detail Saddam’s ties to a sixth al Qaeda affiliate: the Abu Sayyaf group, an al Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines.

Both the EIJ and the IG were early and important core allies for Osama bin Laden as he forged the al Qaeda terror network, which comprises a number of affiliates around the world.

Stephen Hayes (also of the Weekly Standard, and author of The Connection), managed actually to read the report (unlike the drive-by media). He reports:

How, then, to explain this sentence about Iraq and al Qaeda from the report's abstract: "At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust"? And how to explain the "considerable overlap" between their activities which led not only to the appearances of ties but to a "de facto link between the organizations?"...

And what about this revelation from page 34? "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda -- as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision." (The example given in the report is the Army of Muhammad in Bahrain, a group the Iraqi Intelligence Service describes as "under the wings of bin Laden.")

And there is this line from page 42: "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives."

Really? Saddam Hussein "supported" a group that merged with al Qaeda in the late 1990s, run by al Qaeda's #2, and the New York Times thinks this is not a link between Iraq and al Qaeda? How does that work?

It's really quite simple: the Saddam Hussein-Al Qaeda links indicated in this report represent far more bona fide proof of their ties than the tenuous Cheney-Halliburton connection liberals keep trying to assert. The difference between the two is that the latter (baseless though it remains) supports the Democrats' (and the MSM's) political agenda, while the former refutes that agenda.

(Kudos to the NY Sun for giving an accurate assessment of the report.)

Just be sure to read the report for yourself, and make your own conclusions.

(H/T: Scott and Paul at Power Line)

Rubin’s Most Recent Libel of ESC Opponents

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

There are lies, damn lies and anything uttered by Donn Rubin.

--Mark Twain, paraphrased

Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures (sic) chairman Donn Rubin has already proven himself to be a spin master, but his latest screed is downright slanderous.

In this op/ed piece (h/t Secondhand Smoke), Rubin lauds recent advancements in stem cell research, in which differentiated (adult) stem cells have been induced to revert to a pluripotent (i.e. "embryonic") state. He then goes on to claim that Missourians who oppose embryonic stem cell and cloning research (actually, he refers to such opponents as "stem cell research opponents" - as usual, intentionally obfuscating the difference between research with adult and embryonic stem cells) would have stood in the way of the research that led to these advances.

I think now is as good of a time as any for a good, old-fashioned, paragraph-by-paragraph fisking of Dehr Spinmeister.

Anti-stem cell groups would deter successes.

I defy Rubin to identify even one "anti-stem cell group." To my knowledge, no such group exists. If it does, it is by no means mainstream, and is certainly no credible threat to ESC proponents in Missouri.

Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures lauds the stem cell advances occurring around the world as tremendous steps in medical science's ongoing battle to cure disease, and we eagerly await further discoveries as scientists continue the ethical exploration of this new medical frontier.

An excellent example is last month's widely covered advances in Wisconsin and Japan where scientists were able to reprogram an ordinary skin cell to assume much of the versatility of embryonic stem cells. And, even more recently, this month scientists in London used embryonic stem cells to develop a stem cell "patch" to repair scar tissue from heart attacks and American scientists used embryonic stem cells as a novel way to test the safety of drugs.

As the Secondhand Smoke post points out, the development of the "stem cell 'patch' to repair scar tissue from heart attacks" was in a Petri dish only.

All of these advances demonstrate how important Missouri's constitutional protections are, ensuring that our patients and families have the same access as other Americans to whichever approaches prove most successful and lead to the best medical treatments and cures.

Amendment 2 provided no meaningful protection for either the research that led to these advances nor for any potential treatment derived from them. Neither the research nor derived treatments were or have been threatened. The debated has always concerned Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT, a.k.a. cloning) in order to create viable human embryos for the express purpose of being destroyed in order to harvest pluripotent, embryonic stem cells. The research Rubin cited did not involve anything in that debate.

Moving on - all that was just Rubin's wind-up; now we get to his screwball:

If stem cell research opponents had their way, none of this outstanding science would have been possible. Ironically, they would have blocked the very groundwork that led to the technique they now seem to embrace — the reprogramming of ordinary skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells.

Again, there are no such "stem cell research opponents" but rather opponents of human cloning and embryo-destructive research. In fact, many of us in that camp have very adamantly expressed that we must center our debate not on the ethical nature or efficacy of research involving embryonic stem cells themselves, but rather on the ethical nature and necessity of human cloning and the destruction of viable human embryos for the purpose of that research.

Further, "reprogramming of ordinary skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells" in no way involves either human cloning or the destruction of viable human embryos; rather, it involves induction of a normal, differentiated skin cell into a pluripotent state.

But Rubin doesn't stop there:

For years, anti-stem cell groups in Missouri have discounted the unique lifesaving potential of embryonic stem cells, dismissing evidence presented by the vast majority of leading medical and patient organizations. We're glad to see that they are beginning to accept this lifesaving potential.

(Still waiting for Rubin to identify one of these "anti-stem cell groups in Missouri"...) To the contrary, we have not "discounted the unique lifesaving potential of embryonic stem cells" - with the exception of the uniqueness of that potential. Again, we do not oppose research involving pluripotent (even embryonic) stem cells; rather, we oppose the cloning and/or destruction of human life in order to obtain those stem cells.

As for the "unique lifesaving potential" of ESCs, if that potential had been demonstrated sufficiently, the research would have support from the normal means of funding: the private sector; however, the private sector has indicated - by virtue of the direction of its funding - that it believes in the potential of adult stem cell research. Ironically, it is Rubin and his ilk that continue to ignore and discount the future potential and already proven efficacy of adult stem cells.

They may have joined the bandwagon in celebrating a single technique, but they fail to acknowledge that the advance with reprogrammed cells was merely an initial step that can only achieve its medical potential through additional embryonic stem cell research. The scientists who led these advances, James Thomson of Wisconsin and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, have stated clearly and unequivocally that all stem cell research must continue. It would be a tragedy if their successes were misused to cut off other important avenues of medical research.

Rubin makes absolutely no sense here. Why would research that neither started nor ended with embryonic stem cells require "additional embryonic stem cell research"? And Rubin outright lies about Yamanaka's beliefs on the subject of continued embryonic stem cell research. This International Herald-Tribune article (h/t ProLifeBlogs) quotes Yamanaka (emphasis added):

Yamanaka was an assistant professor of pharmacology doing research involving embryonic stem cells when he made the social call to the clinic about eight years ago. At the friend's invitation, he looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic.

The glimpse changed his scientific career.

"When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters," said Yamanaka, 45, a father of two and now a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University. "I thought, we can't keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way."

And again (emphasis added):

He said he had never handled actual embryonic cells himself, and the American lab uses them only to verify that the reprogrammed adult cells are behaving as true stem cells. "There is no way now to get around some use of embryos," he said."But my goal is to avoid using them."

Far from having stated "stated clearly and unequivocally that all stem cell research must continue," Yamanaka clearly and unequivocally wants to eliminate the need for the use of embryos for stem cell research - in fact, by his very words, it is his goal. Rubin's misuse of Yamanaka's research advances and intent in order to bemoan the alleged misuse of those advances moves beyond irony into audacity. It is simply beyond the pale for Rubin - who repeatedly dismisses embryos as "cells in a Petri dish" - to mis-characterize the intent of Yamanaka - who has stated that he sees little difference between a research embryo and his own daughters.

Not only has Rubin no respect for the sanctity of all human life, but he also has no shame.

In the following statement, Rubin hoists his over-used canard, in this case, a tripartite reiteration:

If those seeking to repeal Missouri's constitutional stem cell protections get their way now, they would block the important research required to bring the new technique to its full lifesaving potential.

Those whose aim it is to ban all embryonic stem cell research in Missouri cannot have it both ways. They cannot continue to oppose the very research that is required to achieve the lifesaving goals that they now claim to embrace.

Those who threaten to repeal Missourians' access to stem cell research should step back and allow scientists to conduct the work necessary to achieve the goals that I hope we all share — to cure disease and improve the lives of patients and families.

There you have it: Rubin's imagined opponents desire to "repeal Missouri's constitutional stem cell protections," to "ban all embryonic stem cell research in Missouri," and to "repeal Missourians' access to stem cell research."

We've covered this one, but one more time, for the sake of thoroughness: we do not wish to repeal Missouri's constitutional stem cell protections (per se - I have no problems with protecting stem cell research, though I don't believe such an issue has any place in a state constitution; it is a constructionist matter, not a moral one). We do, however, wish to repeal Missouri's constitutional protection of human cloning. Further, the repeal of that protection would in no way whatsoever impact research such as Dr. Yamanaka's, since his research neither began with nor resulted in an embryonic cell of any kind - much less, one procured through the destruction of a cloned human embryo.

Neither do we wish to ban all embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. We do wish to ban all human cloning, and oppose the destruction of human embryos for such research. Further, we oppose public funding of such research - and therein lies the key issue, and the Stowers (and other ESC researchers) cannot get sufficient private-sector funding, and want the government to foot the bill.

Likewise, we in no way wish to repeal Missourians' access to stem cell research. We fully support research involving adult stem cells, and any other research not involving the destruction of human embryos. We also support their right to seek private funding for whatever legal research they wish to pursue.

Rubin shows his usual lack of honesty and forthrightness; however, in this piece Rubin displays outright slander of his "opponents" and an intentional misrepresentation of Dr. Yamanaka's intentions.

Donn Rubin is a liar. I only wish I could see what Mark Twain would actually have said about him.

Colts-Pats Analysis After Week 7

Filed in SportsTags: Colts, Indiana, Indianapolis, Media Bias, NFL

(Or: Shutting Up Tony Cornhole)

So, are the Pats really dominating more than any other team in the league? From listening to the sycophants analysts, one would think so. However, that analysis may not be true.

Using the team-offense and team-defense stats available on, I compared how each team has performed relative to their opponents.

Patriots Through Week 7

The Pats are ranked 1 in scoring offense at 39.9 ppg, and 10 in scoring defense at 17.1 ppg.

The Pats' opponents have a combined record of 17-28 (average record of 2.4-4), their offenses score an average 23.8 ppg, and their defenses give up an average 26.7 ppg.

Discounting each team's game against the Pats, those teams have a combined record of 17-21 (average record of 2.4-3), their offenses average 24.6 ppg, and their defenses give up an average of 23.9 ppg. This "composite" team would rank 8 in offensive scoring and 24 in defensive scoring.

Against the Pats, these teams scored an average of 17.1 ppg and their defenses gave up an average of 39.9 ppg.

Thus, relative to their opponents, the Pats have held their opponents to 7.5 ppg less than their average, while scoring 16 ppg more than their other average.

Colts Through Week 7

So how do the Colts compare?

The Colts are ranked 3 in scoring offense at 32.2 ppg, and 6 in scoring defense at 15.8 ppg.

The Colts' opponents have a combined record of 20-18 (average record of 3.3-3), their offenses score an average 19.4 ppg, and their defenses give up an average 20.9 ppg.

Discounting each team's game against the Colts, those teams have a combined record of 20-12 (average record 3.3-2), their offenses average 20.2 ppg, and their defenses give up an average of 19.0 ppg. This "composite" team would rank 18 in offensive scoring and 14 in defensive scoring.

Against the Colts, these teams scored an average of 15.8 ppg and their defenses gave up an average of 32.2 ppg.

Thus, relative to their opponents, the Colts have held their opponents to 4.4 ppg less than their other average, while scoring 13.2 ppg more than their average.


The Pats have played teams with good offenses and horrible defenses. Against these teams, they hold them to 7.5 ppg less than their average, while scoring 16 ppg more than their average.

The Colts have played teams with both average offense and an average defense. Against these teams, they hold them to 4.4 ppg less than their average, while scoring 13.2 ppg more than their average.

Thus, the Pats' defense is clearly playing well against good offenses, while their offense is feasting on atrocious offenses. Meanwhile, the Colts' defense is outplaying average offenses, while their offense is clearly dominating average defenses.

The Pats' defense is a bit more impressive against good offenses than the Colts' defense is against average offenses; however, The Colts' offense against average defenses is performing on par with the Pats' offense against terrible defenses.

In other words, anyone who, at this point in the season, crowns the Pats' offense as head-and-shoulders above everyone else is simply ignorant of the facts. This Colts offense is demonstrably as good as the Pats offense.

(My calculations can be found in this (.ods format) spreadsheet: Colts Pats Comparison 2007 Week 7.)

Now Reading: Good Calories, Bad Calories

Filed in Reviews, ScienceTags: Academia, Books, Health/Nutrition, Low Carb, Media Bias, Weight Loss

I got a very pleasant surprise today when I came home for lunch and found out that my pre-order of Gary Taubes' new book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, had arrived!

Here is the publisher's description:

In this groundbreaking book, the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet with more and more people acting on this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues persuasively that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, easily digested starches) and sugars–via their dramatic and longterm effects on insulin, the hormone that regulates fat accumulation–and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. There are good calories, and bad ones.

Good Calories

These are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods can be eaten without restraint.

Meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables.

Bad Calories

These are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion and so make us fat and increase our risk of chronic disease—all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how much vitamins and minerals they contain, but how quickly they are digested. (So apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda.)

Bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer.

Taubes traces how the common assumption that carbohydrates are fattening was abandoned in the 1960s when fat and cholesterol were blamed for heart disease and then –wrongly–were seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He shows us how these unproven hypotheses were emphatically embraced by authorities in nutrition, public health, and clinical medicine, in spite of how well-conceived clinical trials have consistently refuted them. He also documents the dietary trials of carbohydrate-restriction, which consistently show that the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

With precise references to the most significant existing clinical studies, he convinces us that there is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, that salt causes high blood pressure, and that fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Based on the evidence that does exist, he leads us to conclude that the only healthy way to lose weight and remain lean is to eat fewer carbohydrates or to change the type of the carbohydrates we do eat, and, for some of us, perhaps to eat virtually none at all.

The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories:

  1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
  2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
  3. Sugars—sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
  4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
  5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
  6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller.
  7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
  8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
  9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
  10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
  11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a tour de force of scientific investigation–certain to redefine the ongoing debate about the foods we eat and their effects on our health.

This book is destined for greatness, and will make waves in the world of nutrition. I will have a review, once I have finished reading.

Antarctica Defies Global Warming Alarmists

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Media Bias

Despite alarmists' cries about the shrinking arctic ice cap, Antarctica just set a new record for most total ice extent (links in original; emphasis added):

While the Antarctic Peninsula area has warmed in recent years and ice near it diminished during the Southern Hemisphere summer, the interior of Antarctica has been colder and ice elsewhere has been more extensive and longer lasting, which explains the increase in total extent. This dichotomy was shown in this World Climate Report blog posted recently with a similar tale told in this paper by Ohio State Researcher David Bromwich, who agreed “It’s hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now”.

From the World Climate Report blog post linked in the quote above:

Incredibly, if you are interested in Antarctica temperature trends from the present back to 1982, the region has cooled. If you go from present back to 1966, the region has cooled. Like it or not, over the past four decades, and during the time of the greatest build-up of greenhouse gases, Antarctica has been cooling!

Here's the NASA Earth Observatory image of Antarctic temperature trending from 1982-2004:

Antarctic Temperatures 1982-2004

Antarctic Temperature Trend 1982-2004
Photo © NASA Earth Observatory, used with permission.

(HT: PowerLine)

Follow-Up to Matt Franck Anti-Cloning Measure Article

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

About a week ago, I wrote about this Post-Dispatch article, written by Matt Franck. I discussed the perceived bias in the article with respect to Amendment 2 and the efforts of supporters of the HJR11 anti-cloning measure the article discussed.

As I try to do whenever I discuss someone's writing, I emailed the author to let him know of my blog post, and to allow (and to solicit) a response. To my pleasant surprise, Mr. Franck responded to my email. In the interest of fairness, based upon his response, I would like to re-visit the question of bias in his reporting of the Amendment 2 issue.

Mr. Franck responds:

My ability to respond to your email in detail is limited by time. But let me reply in brief. The stated aim of lawmakers who support HJR11 and its Senate counterparts is to essentially negate Amendment 2. Yes, I understand that the proposal doesn't mention the amendment. But the fact remains, it would make SCNT illegal -- something specifically protected under Amendment 2, and a procedure at the heart of the push to pass the ballot measure.

Here, I agree with Mr. Franck that part of the underlying intent of HJR11 was to overturn parts of Amendment 2; however, the further intent of HJR11 was to expose the intentional deception and hypocrisy of Amendment 2 and that of its supporters and their $30 million propaganda campaign.

The Coalition for Lifesaving Cures states "Fact #3" on their "Fact Sheet" that "Amendment 2 clearly and strictly bans any attempt to clone a human being.":

Amendment 2 bans human cloning and makes any attempt to clone a human being a felony crime. Opponents of stem cell research claim that making stem cells in a lab dish is the same thing as "human cloning." Medical experts and most other people disagree with that view and understand that "human cloning" means creating a duplicate human being – not making stem cells in a lab dish.

The truth of the matter - as exposed by Amendment 2 supporters' objections to HJR11 - is that, currently, (embryonic) stem cells cannot be made "in a lab dish"; they must be harvested from an embryo. To date, stem cells must be harvested from embryos resulting from natural or in vitro conception. The comment about "making stem cells in a lab dish" is in reference to embryos produced via Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) - or, in other words: cloning.

The issue centers around the correct identification of the entity produced by SCNT. Biologically and genetically, that entity is an embryo, genetically identical to the donor of the somatic cell from whom the clone was produced. In fact, for the purposes of harvesting stem cells from the entity resulting from SCNT, that entity must prove to be a viable embryo that undergoes self-directed development from the initial single-celled zygote into a 5-7 day-old embryo at the blastocyst stage.

The Coalition continues to divert this issue by intentionally mis-identifying this entity as a "clump of cells", a "ball of cells", or other similar terms. Doing so provides a means to avoid the reality that SCNT produces a cloned embryo. Thus, they are able to ignore the biological and genetic reality, and claim some arbitrary "birth of a cloned human" as the "cloning" that is "strictly" banned.

The media coverage - for whatever reason - has tended to favor the Coalition's position with respect to terminology. It is the reason that many of us make a concerted effort to find and correct this misinformation wherever it is propagated in the news media. Thus, in response to Mr. Franck's article, I wrote in my email to him:

Second, you state:

"Opponents of Amendment 2 had wanted lawmakers to send a ballot measure
to voters in November 2008. The proposed amendment would have asked the
public to ban all forms of human cloning, including when the research is
used solely to produce embryonic stem cells. Voters specifically
protected that form of research by passing Amendment 2 last year."

This statement is inaccurate. The result of of human cloning is NEVER
"solely...embryonic stem cells". This research - somatic cell nuclear
transfer - ALWAYS results in the production of a living embryo of the
same species as that of the gamete and somatic cell from which the
embryo was produced. Should SCNT of a human egg and somatic cell nucleus
ever succeed, the result will be a human embryo. Any stem cells
resulting from this process will and must come from the destruction of
that embryo. They cannot be produced apart from the embryo using SCNT.

On that point, Mr. Franck responds in his email:

On your second point -- yes, I know and agree that SCNT produces an embryo [which] is then harvested for stem cells. I think you misread my use of the word solely. I did not mean to imply that all that is produced are stem cells.

I appreciate Mr. Franck clarifying this point in his response. He goes on to address the question of his personal bias in regard to the Amendment 2 issue:

There are limits to the territory that I can cover in a 350-word story. In lengthier stories -- of which I have written several -- I deal with these issues more thoroughly. Even so, I stand by my story.

...For three years, I have strived to cover this issue with detachment and fairness. And I believe that if you ask around, I have a good track record in this regard.

While I certainly infer a bias in the end result of the article in question, I want to be fair in asserting the source of that bias. To that end, I did my best to research Mr. Franck's past articles. He was kind enough to send me the copy of a rather lengthy piece he wrote, and of which I found a copy at the Center for Genetics and Society website. I also found recent Post-Dispatch articles here and here, as well as a copy of an article reposted here.

After reading this broader sample of Mr. Franck's writing on the Amendment 2 issue, I believe that he is correct in his assertion that he has made every effort to deal with the issue with detachment and fairness. While I disagree with repeated use of incorrect and/or potentially misleading terminology (such as referring to an embryo as a "ball of cells" or "clump of cells" or "cluster of cells"), an overall reading of his articles lends me to believe that he has attempted to present each side of the issue fairly.

I believe any overt bias inferred from these articles - and in particular, the article I originally critiqued - results from the limited scope of a shorter article and, more importantly, the editorial bias of the Post-Dispatch.

Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Franck for taking the time to respond to my email. Not many reporters would take the time to do so - especially to respond to someone being critical of that reporter's work.