Amazing Spam/Phishing

Just received the below. B+ for effort. Pasted verbatim:

From: Tim Johnson
To: David Mader
Date: January 18, 2013, 9:46 PM

I’m Dr Tim, 53yrs of age, a Dentist, I have been pretty successful in a handful of ventures which have involved. I’m presently working with UNICEF

job details…
* Running errands
* Taking care of my Financial activities
Pay is $ 1000 per week.

We will start with things as soon as possible. I do have a pile up of work and a number of unattended chores which you can immediately assist me with and i hope we can meet up with the workload eventually. Permit me to use the coming week to test your efficiency and diligence towards all this, also to work out your time schedule
and fit it to mine.I really need to find the perfect person for this job, I have confident in you that you can take-up the challenge and on the long run we should have a relatively sound working relationship between each other.

as time goes on we should be able to arrange a proper meeting to get things started officially when i get back from my trip because am currently in Belgium for health Summit.

So i will be here for couples of weeks, till i get back this position will be a part-time and home-based job because my new office in your local area will not be set up till i get back to the state.

I have been checking my files and I would want you to do for me is to help my clients get their monthly medication from the Pharmaceutical Company.

The funds will be in form of certified Cashier’s Check, it will be sent over to you from one of my clients and I will e-mail the guidelines to you once you receive it.

this job is 100% real…

send the info below to get started

Full Name:
Full Address:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Home Phone:
Cell Phone:
Age:
Occupation:
Email Address:
Bank Name. ( Just to be sure you have one )

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

1) “The Star Tribune, saddled with high debt and a sharp decline in print advertising, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Thursday night.”
2) “The Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy protection in a federal court in Delaware on Monday, as the owner of The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs baseball team struggled to cope with mountains of debt and falling ad revenue.”
3) “[W]hat if The New York Times goes out of business

The Canaries Are Chirping

Denmark:

A number of school administrators have come forth in recent days to confirm that they recommend Jewish children should not enrol at their schools.
According to school administrators, law enforcement officials and social workers, the on-going conflict in Gaza has led to heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs – particularly Palestinians – here in Denmark.
And although few headmasters of schools have faced the situation, most of those at schools with a high percentage of children of Arab descent say they try to prevent Jewish parents from enrolling their children there.
On Monday, headmaster Olav Nielsen of Humlehave School in Odense publicly admitted he would refuse Jewish parents’ wish to place their child at his school.

London:

Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar has been said to be among a list of top British Jews thought to be targeted by extremists over Israel’s Gaza onslaught.
According to a newspaper, the multi-millionaire businessman was named on an Islamic website along with pop producer Mark Ronson, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Labour peer Lord Levy.
One strand on the site asks for help compiling a list of “those who support Israel”, the paper said, while another asks: “Have we got a list of top Jews we can target?”

The website in question denies the report:

A website has defended a message urging British Muslims to contact prominent British Jews to protest at the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The post was made during a discussion on Ummah, an Islamic internet forum. A member suggested that people who featured a list of influential Jews – including David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary – should be reminded of the plight of the Palestinian people.
Among other prominent Jews featured on the list were Lord Levy, the pop music producer Mark Ronson, the lawyer Anthony Julius, and the businessman and television personality Alan Sugar.
A link to the list, which was first published by the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, was posted by a member of the forum using the name Saladin1970.
He wrote: “It would be beneficial to start compiling a list so that we can write polite letters reminding them of the injustices of Israel and to stop supporting Israel.”
After some discussion, another member, using the name Abuislam, asked: “Have we got list of top Jews and supporters yet we can target? Can someone start posting names and addresses.”
Saladin1970 later replied: “The best thing to do is not to contact them directly”, adding that Muslim groups should boycott those named and connected businesses.
A spokesman for the website denied claims made in a newspaper report that the post represented a “Hate hit list” and that it encouraged readers to attack those named.
He claimed that an examination of the website’s records showed that the username Abuislam was registered to a freelance journalist, whose real name was known to them and who had “decided to pose as a Muslim to make Muslims look bad”.
In a statement, he said: “Like most Muslims, and a great number of non-Muslims across the world, many of our users are currently engaged in various kinds of protest and campaigning against the massacre of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli Forces.
“Clearly, most people will realise that this thread is about a peaceful form of campaigning against the state of Israel by writing ‘polite’ letters to well-known and wealthy supporters of the state asking them to withdraw that support and encouraging Muslims not to do business nor work with them until they do.”

Two questions: (1) What evidence is there that any of the listed individuals are supporters of Israel–except for the fact that they’re Jewish? (2) If that’s all the evidence these folks have, then–at least in this instance–doesn’t anti-Zionism in fact equal anti-Semitism?

Warning

I’m going to try to upgrade my blogging software this weekend. I’ve done this, I believe, three times. Every time I’ve had some sort of minor disaster, which is why I haven’t done it since July, 2003. So I’m sort of anticipating that something will go horribly wrong. I’ve backed up all the substantive material, and I’ll import it all back in when this thing becomes stable again – but between then and now, expect some wacky design issues, some dead pages, and some busted RSS and XML feeds.
See you on the flip side. And wish me luck!

On Abortion and Equal Rights

Colby Cosh claims that pro-lifers are hypocrites to support life-of-the-mother exceptions to abortion restrictions, on the ground that such exceptions place one life (the mother’s) over another (the fetus’s) — which, he says, is precisely what pro-lifers object to in the first place. I’ve thought about the issue Cosh raises, and I’m pretty sure he’s wrong.
Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, that the question of abortion is a question of competing rights – the rights of the mother and the rights of the fetus. In other words, let’s put aside any free-standing moral consideration – whether, for instance, abortion is prohibited (or compelled) by a religious text; and let’s concede for now that a fetus has standing to claim any rights at all. In a situation of competing rights, the task of the law as neutral arbiter is to consider the rights claimed by each party, and the circumstances surrounding the claims, and to identify the just or equitable result.
Let’s consider a hypothetical mid-second trimester abortion wherein the fetus is developing normally and poses no immediate health risk to the mother. (I use “immediate” to exclude, for instance, the psychological cost of bearing and raising an unwanted child.) We can identify, to a fair degree of certainty, the rights at issue. The mother claims a right to terminate the pregnancy, which might in turn be characterized as a right to determine when and whether to bear a child, or as a right to sexual autonomy, or even simply as a right to choose. The fetus claims a right to live, or at least to continue to develop towards birth.
If we treat the mother and fetus as having equal status to claim rights – as the moralist pro-lifers argue, and as Cosh concedes for purposes of his critique – then we can adjudicate this dispute as we would any dispute between people making similar claims. And taking the strongest rights claim on either side – the mother’s claimed right to determine when and whether to bear a child, and the fetus’s claimed right to live – it seems clear, in the abstract, that the right to live trumps the right to determine the conditions of pregnancy and childbirth. (This assumes that the right to life is paramount – a fair claim in modern democratic nations, I think.)
Now take an alternative hypothetical – a mid-second trimester abortion wherein the fetus is developing normally with regard to its own health but whose development poses a mortal risk to the mother. The claimed rights are now different: the fetus still claims a right to live, or at least to continue to develop, but the mother now also claims a right to live. The two claims are the same, but both cannot be vindicated: if the fetus wins the right to live, the mother dies; if the mother wins the right to live, the fetus dies.
This is where Cosh claims hypocrisy: he says that to prefer the mother in this instance, but not in the prior hypothetical, is inconsistent. After all, he claims, this simply “puts one life above another,” and is therefore no different than the first circumstance – where the pro-lifer would undoubtedly have preferred the fetus.
But I think my presentation of the two hypotheticals illustrates why Cosh is wrong. Put simply, in circumstances where the health of the mother is in jeopardy (or at least in mortal jeopardy), the fetus’s claimed right – to life – is no longer superior to the mother’s claimed right; it is, at best, equal. Of course with an equal right the fetus might still prevail; but there is one strong principle that justifies vindicating the mother’s right to live over the fetus’s right to live in this circumstance. That principle is self defense.
I can’t speak for the state of law in Canada, but as a general proposition common law jurisdictions protect an individual’s right to defend him or herself against immediate harm. This right is a dynamic one, in that the scope of the right depends on the type of harm faced. Faced with ordinary force – a slap or a punch, for instance – a person is justified in using ordinary force to protect himself; but he is not justified in using deadly force. You can’t bring a knife to a fist-fight. Deadly force is justified only to defend against a threat of deadly force (though different jurisdictions place different additional restrictions on this right). But – in at least most common law jurisdictions – deadly force is justified in these narrow circumstances.
And that’s the circumstance presented by my second hypothetical. The mother faces a threat to her life – a threat of deadly force. She is justified in using force – including deadly force – to defeat that threat. So it’s not at all hypocritical for a pro-lifer to support a health of the mother exception, at least in cases of mortal risk; on the contrary, it is solidly libertarian.
There are myriad caveats to my argument, of course. For one thing, I’ve operated on the presumption that the mid-second trimester fetus has rights. That’s controversial, and reasonable people can disagree. Most people agree that a late third-trimester fetus has rights, and most people agree that an early first-trimester fetus does not have rights (or at least has very few, not including a right to life). The abortion “debate,” such as it is, is a disagreement about when, if at all, a fetus attains personhood such that it has a claim to any rights. Moralist pro-lifers generally believe personhood occurs at conception, such that an early first-trimester fetus has a claim to life (which would trump more or less any countervailing right a mother could claim at that stage of the pregnancy); absolutist pro-choicers generally argue that personhood occurs at birth, such that any claim by the mother to any right will trump the fetus’s claims up to the moment of birth itself. So to an absolutist pro-choicer, my entire line of argument is flawed: the mother need never rely on a right of self-defense.
But my purpose here is not to argue for a particular understanding of personhood and a consequent approach to the regulation of abortion; my purpose is simply to rebut Cosh’s claim that pro-lifers are hypocrites to favor health-of-the-mother exceptions to whatever restrictions they favor. That’s wrong, at least where the health risk to the mother is mortal (and possibly even just severe), as long as we recognize a general right to self defense. Cosh may not believe in such a right; he may believe that a person must keep his sidearm holstered, Ghandi-like, no matter how many times an assailant stabs him. But that’s another discussion for another day.
Post Script: Eugene Volokh, law professor and blogger extraordinaire, has published a law review article expanding on this idea of abortion as self-defense, which can be downloaded here. And apologies for the use of the Americanese “defense” rather than the proper Canadian “defence” – my job involves writing in American legalese all day, every day, and it rubs off.

In my own defense

I feel like, over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself taking one lonely position after another defending the Harper Conservatives, to the point that Maderblog risks moving from a right wing blog to an affirmatively Conservative one – a move I have no intention of making, at least for the time being. I’ve often said that I’m an ideologue, rather than a partisan; and the truth is that I have no particular desire to become Stephen Harper’s defender-in-chief. So a word of explanation.
There are many reasons for people across the political spectrum to disagree with Stephen Harper. Indeed, there are an almost limitless number of ways for reasonable people to complete the sentence “I disagree with Stephen Harper because X.” My hobby, lately, has been to probe many of these declarations to figure out just what that X is, and then to evaluate the merits and weight of X as against any proposed alternative.
Often the X is political or ideological: “I disagree with Harper because he doesn’t seem to support significant direct economic stimulus, and I do;” “I disagree with Harper because he wants to eliminate public funding for political parties, and I don’t.” That’s great; that’s politics. But increasingly I find that–at least among the commentariat–the X is (for lack of a better term) emotional: “I disagree with Harper because he’s mean;” “I disagree with Harper because he’s a hypocrite.”
The problem with emotional disagreements is that they’re almost impossible to evaluate on objective grounds. My first post on the constitutional crisis explored this area: I took issue with criticism of Harper for being mean, pointing out that many a Liberal had exhibited the same characteristics–for better or for worse. Paul Wells suggested that the difference was that mean Liberals achieved Liberal ends, while Harper was failing to achieve Conservative ones; but while that’s fair enough, I doubt most media critics of Harper’s meanness wish him to be a more successful Conservative – they wish him to be out of government entirely.
[I recognize that many Conservatives are upset with Harper for precisely this reason, and I think it’s a perfectly valid reason to be upset with him. I just don’t think that the ranks of the professional commentariat contain very many such Conservatives.]
Often the emotional X is simply a front, however, for a more objective ideological or political X. For many, “Harper is mean” was a shorthand for “Harper is Conservative.” Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing with Harper because he’s Conservative. But in the context of, for instance, a constitutional crisis, when the Prime Minister’s faults are being evaluated not merely for sport but as a ground on which to justify an unprecedented transfer of power, a simple ideological or political disagreement has less purchase. Put plainly, one might disagree with Harper’s approach to stimulus, but as he was recently returned to office it’s his prerogative to pursue that approach, and – I submit, though I don’t think it’s too controversial – a simple political or ideological disagreement is insufficient to justify a transfer of government power without an intervening election.
What I’ve been trying to do, over the past few weeks – and intermittently – is to expose the X in popular media criticisms of the Harper government. I’m more concerned with the media than with the opposition parties, because the opposition parties can be expected to assert political or ideological Xs, dressed up to a greater or lesser extent in emotional language. But the press is, or ought to be, expected to be more straightforward; at least, I expect the commentariat to strive for that sort of directness. If you disagree with Harper because you disagree with his policy positions, say so; that facilitates a policy discussion, and it allows a comparison between the opinions of the commentariat and the opinions of the nation (where polling data is available). And if you disagree with Harper because you just don’t like him, say so; that way readers can evaluate further commentary in light of an admitted dislike for the subject.
Ultimately the people will decide these issues – which is why I continue to believe that if the Government falls in January, the GG should call an election. And while I have my own policy preferences with regard to many of the recently-discussed Xs, I don’t think there’s any need to recite them ad nauseum here – you can guess what they are, and someone else (probably Andrew Coyne) has already put the point better than I ever could. When I speak up, it’s because I think that something in the national political discussion bears comment – and recently, what I think bears comment is what I perceive to be an increase in simple dislike for the Prime Minister that is having the effect of coloring quite a bit of contemporary political commentary.
I could, of course, be wrong.

A Bit More on the Senate Appointments

Charles takes issue with my comments below. He writes:

Leave it to Mader to draft up a fancy pseudo-syllogism for what boils down to an old Alliance one-liner about “stacking”. What have you demonstrated here? All you’ve done is re-state your presumption about stacking. Take out the words “stack” and “hacks” in your third paragraph and just put in “appoint” and you see what I mean.

“[T]he Liberals are able to pursue this line of attack without exposing themselves to criticism because nobody expects that the Liberals would ever do anything except appoint members to the Upper House”.

Maybe you’ve read an article about the Liberals attacking the credentials of the appointees, but I haven’t; they’re just highlighting another failure of the ideology Harper arrived in Ottawa with and continues to pay lip service to while acting in a different manner.

I think Charles is criticizing me for taking a substantive position on the merits and demerits of the Senate and its members, but I’m not. Maybe Senate reform is necessary; maybe the Senate is ok the way it is now. My point is simply that (a) the Liberals have acted in a way that suggests they believe it’s ok now (at least as to the appointment process); (b) the Harper Tories announced a policy of reform based on the assumption that reform was necessary; (c) with these recent appointments, the Harper Tories have taken a course of action consistent with the belief that the Senate is ok the way it is now (at least with regard to appointments); (d) the Tories have thereby opened themselves up to a charge of hypocrisy; and (e) the Liberals are only able to take advantage of that opening, while remaining insulated from collateral attack, because they have never indicated any desire or appetite for reform.
Of course, if you believe that the Senate (and particularly the appointments process) is ok the way it is now, then my observation as to the Grits has no rhetorical force; but if that’s the case, the hypocrisy charge becomes exceedingly narrow: Harper is a hypocrite because he’s doing something he said he wouldn’t do, but he was wrong to say he wouldn’t do it – so there’s no intrinsic problem with his doing it now; the only problem is secondary, namely that he (mistakenly or misguidedly) said he wouldn’t do it in the first place.
Hardly a resounding argument!

Speaking the Unspoken

[NOTE: I have partially retracted some of the claims made in this post.]
A very brief thought about the flap over the Senate appointments. While most of the hand-wringing in the media seems to reflect the shock – shock! – that someone would dare to play politics with Senate appointments, there is, I think, one line of criticism that can stick, and that is that Harper and the Tories are (apparently) doing what they said they wouldn’t do.
As an aside, I’m not really sure how much force this line of criticism has; after all, while the goal of the appointment embargo was Senate reform, surely the second-best option, from a Conservative point of view, was the appointment of Conservative – rather than Liberal-Democratic – senators. Maybe the embargo was wrong-headed from the start; but if so, then the proper course would have been to appoint these senators one-by-one over time, rather than all at once. Net difference: zero – except, of course, that doing it all at once, and after the fact, feeds the media cycle.
In any event, whatever its merits, the hypocrisy meme seems popular this morning. So let me just make explicit what’s implicit in every such column you’ll read: the Liberals are able to tag Harper as a hypocrite because he is doing something he said he wouldn’t do – stack the Senate; the Liberals are able to pursue this line of attack without exposing themselves to criticism because nobody expects that the Liberals would ever do anything except stack the Senate with party hacks.
At least Harper tried.