Right Wing Smears Against Cass Sunstein Persist

After Cass Sunstein was appointed by Obama to oversee regulatory reform some conservatives praised the move but soon afterwards I found he was the target of right wing smears. Julian Sanchez has found that the smears have continued and has further debunked them here.

A Pig By Any Other Name

The pork lobby has been upset about the way in which the latest influenza outbreak is being called swine flu. Some sources are giving in and are using the more scientific terminology of H1N1 flu instead. I noted that today the CDC is using H1N1 but still has Swine Flu in parentheses. They have defended the legitimacy of also calling it swine flu:

In a briefing Tuesday, Richard Besser, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, acknowledged that the agency’s use of the swine flu label was fueling the misconception that people could catch the new respiratory disease from food. “That’s not helpful to pork producers. That’s not helpful to people who eat pork,” Dr. Besser said. “And so we’re discussing: is there a better way to describe this that would not lead to inappropriate action on peoples’ part?”The flu that erupted in Mexico earlier this month is a big worry because it is transmitted between humans, who don’t have any immunity to the new strain. Medical authorities haven’t found any cases of people catching this new strain from contact with pigs or pork, nor has the new strain been detected in pigs.

Still, many scientists say the CDC is well within its rights to describe the disease as swine flu even though it seems to have mutated into a unique human virus. Flu viruses tend to be named after the first species in which they are discovered, and H1N1 was discovered in pigs decades ago.

Genetic sequencing of the new form of the H1N1 virus shows that it clearly had a long history in hogs before it made the leap into the human population and acquired its deadly new traits.

“The vast amount of material in it is in pigs,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

So far I don’t know that the pork industry has lost very much money because of any misconceptions about eating pork products. I’m far more worried about the affects of the pig scare in the 100 Acre Wood:


Chimp Blogging For Dollars


Recently Mark Penn wrote about people making their main income from blogging, with several bloggers questioning his numbers. Alex Beam of The Boston Globe (who probably knows first hand about the declines in journalism as a viable profession) has written a follow up. He found that one secret to making money in blogs is blogging about chimpanzee attacks. In the future if you see posts here about chimp attacks you will know why. Anyone see the story about the chimp attack on Christina Ricci’s left breast last year?


If writing an entire blog post is too much for you, Simon Owens suggests that there might be jobs in twittering.

Church Goers Most Likely To Support Torture

We have a perfect example here, via Chris Good, to demonstrate that, contrary to conventional conservative thought, being more religious is not necessarily a sign of being more moral:

According to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, those who attend church at least weekly are more prone to say that torture is justifiable. Suffice it to say that, in the eyes of those who support the use of torture, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

A combined 54 percent of at-least-weekly church-goers say torture is either often or sometimes justifiable; for those who attend monthly or a few times a year, that figure is 51 percent; for those who do not attend, it is 42 percent.

Evangelicals, according to the survey, are more prone to saying torture is justifiable than members of the nation’s other two main Christian groups: so-called “mainline” Protestants and white, non-Hispanic Catholics. Unaffiliateds–a conglomerated group of atheists, agnostics, and those who say their religion is “nothing in particular–support torture the least: 40 percent say it’s justifiable often or sometimes.

I didn’t find this surprising considering the history of organized religion. Chris Good also explains this based upon both the amount of violence in the Bible and by looking at the constituency of the Bush administration:

Let us not forget that the main storyline of the New Testament is one of torture: Jesus comes into the world and dies an excruciating death to redeem the sins of man. Perhaps those closest to the story are most comfortable with suffering when there’s a purpose behind it–here, that purpose would be to obtain information. The eschatological bent of some Evangelicals might account for some Revelation-style views on punishment, too.

Let’s also keep in mind that the Bible, from start to end, has a lot of violence in it. The Old Testament, in particular, is filled with the slaughter of villages, and I’d be interested to hear how Jews respond to the torture question–unfortunately, Pew only broke down the Christian groups above. Israel’s long experience with the threat of terrorism might shape Jewish views on the matter as well.

And, obviously, President Bush, whose administration started the practice of enhanced interrogation, courted religious conservatives in two elections as a significant faction of his base…

Update: CNN picked up the story leading (via Memeorandum) to several other bloggers commenting.