Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The need to believe

There has been a lot of propaganda about vitamin supplements and, more recently, Anti-oxidants preventing aging. A new study says otherwise:
CHICAGO (AP) -- Antioxidant vitamins, including A, E and C, don't help you live longer, according to an analysis of dozens of studies of these popular supplements.

The new review showing no long-life benefit from those vitamins, plus beta carotene and selenium, adds to growing evidence questioning the value of these supplements.
It might even be worse than that:
When they eliminated the lower-quality studies and looked only at the most trustworthy ones, they actually found a higher risk of death for people taking vitamins: 4 percent for those taking vitamin E, 7 percent for beta carotene and 16 percent for vitamin A. [Emphasis added]
This is consistent with a long line of studies that say vitamin supplements, as opposed to real foods, generally (calcium supplements would be an exception) have no value. There are many people who will simply dismiss such results. There is one example of where the human mind can have a need to believe, in this case, a need to believe that it has some control of its own future, that, through "virtue" (taking vitamins), it will live longer.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Urge to Apologize

From the NYT, Louis Farrakhan discusses Pres. Bush:
“If you don’t want to impeach him,” Mr. Farrakhan said, “censure him, say to the world something went wrong with our leadership and we repent after our wrongdoing.” [emphasis added]
US liberals and the left, ranging from Bill Clinton to John Kerry to the Dixie Chicks, have the urge to go abroad and apologize. By contrast, how often to Republicans do anything similar? No matter how despicable, for example, Bill Clinton may have seemed to conservatives, I don't remember any conservatives going abroad to denounce him? They didn't go to China to apologize for Clinton's bombing of the Chinese embassy. They didn't go to Russia to apologize for Clinton picking the side of Russia's enemies in the Balkans. They didn't go to Africa to apologize for the bombing of the aspirin factory.

Democrats seem to take (alleged) government irresponsibility personally as if it was something for which their foreign friends would blame them individually. By contrast, Republicans have no such expectation and seem, instead, to be surprised if the government does something right.

RELATED: The issue of appearances was brought up by Democrat fundraiser David Geffen:

Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world
Here again, his issue is not that America was doing right or wrong, the issue that concerns Republicans, but rather that "the world" was "disappointed," as if foreign relations was a popularity contest.

The Oscar for best politics goes to

Al Gore for his global warming agitprop. While global warming advocates want major reductions in consumer energy use, Al Gore is showing no leadership in this area. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research looked into Al Gore's energy usage:
Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own “Inconvenient Truth”

Gore’s home uses more than 20 times the national average

Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

The problems with Gore's version of science are addressed more substantively by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels who, for instance, addresses the sea rise issue:
The main point of the movie is that, unless we do something very serious, very soon about carbon dioxide emissions, much of Greenland’s 630,000 cubic miles of ice is going to fall into the ocean, raising sea levels over twenty feet by the year 2100.

Where’s the scientific support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent Policymaker’s Summary from the United Nations’ much anticipated compendium on climate change. Under the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore’s film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent.

Dr. Michaels has a Ph.D. in Ecological Climatology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979) and is Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virgina. He was a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and was program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society. Michaels is a contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was an author of the 2003 climate science "Paper of the Year" awarded by the Association of American Geographers. This makes is hard for his detractors to call him out of the mainstream but they do anyway.

UPDATE: Gore responds to the house electricity issue here, claiming that he tries to consume "green" energy and, among other things, he uses "solar panels and uses compact fluorescent bulbs." It would seem that solar panels and fluorescents must not be very effective if, despite their use, his electric bills are so high.

RELATED: Michelle Malkin has a post on strikingly similar story of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do in animal rights: PETA activist Pamela Anderson says she had no idea that the sheepskin boots that she made famous were actually made of sheep's skin.

UPDATE: From James Taranto:

Of course we don't begrudge Gore his life of luxury--only his sanctimonious insistence that the rest of us sacrifice our comforts to the dubious god of global warming.
It is interesting to contrast Al Gore's energy consumption with Pres. Bush's relatively eco-friendly Crawford ranch.

UPDATE: For hypocrisy similar to Sen. Gore's, see this report:With five private jets, Travolta still lectures on global warming.

The European model is not always what liberals hope it to be

There has always been a strain of American thought that glorified the Old World: Liberal supreme court justices have used foreign laws as the basis for their decisions and Democrats have on occasion praised the European model for fighting terror as a law enforcement issue. However, as Bret Stephens points out, the French model for "law enforcement" includes powers for the government that Democrats would oppose even when fighting a war:
Warrantless wiretaps? Not a problem under French law, as long as the Interior Ministry approves. Court-issued search warrants based on probable cause? Not needed to conduct a search. Hearsay evidence? Admissible in court. Habeas corpus? Suspects can be held and questioned by authorities for up to 96 hours without judicial supervision or the notification of third parties. Profiling? French officials commonly boast of having a "spy in every mosque." A wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies? France's domestic and foreign intelligence bureaus work hand-in-glove. Bail? Authorities can detain suspects in "investigative" detentions for up to a year. [France's investigative minister] Mr. Bruguiere once held 138 suspects on terrorism-related charges. The courts eventually cleared 51 of the suspects--some of whom had spent four years in preventive detention--at their 1998 trial.

FLASHBACK: As an earlier example of Democrats sympathizing with Europeans when they shouldn't, consider a New York Times editorial from February 26, 1916 accused the some Democrats of siding with Germany against Pres. Wilson during the lead up to World War I:

By their Constitution, the American people created the Congress as a branch of the Government of the United States, not as an instrument to serve the purposes of Germany.

Yet, among the abhorrent forces now at work in Congress to obstruct the President in his policies, to prevent the expression of the country's will, and to bring dishonor upon the nation, that alien influence is too conspicuous for concealment.

It is a monstrous anomaly, a hideous solecism, that the American Congress should be the field of a contest in which a foreign government can display such power, or any power at all, over our national decisions.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The skeptics of democracy

Mr. David Geffen, Hollywood mogul and, currently, an Obama supporter, is concerned that Sen. Clinton might win the primaries. Mr. Geffen concludes:
I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.
Such scepticism of popular choice has a long history in American politics. Alexander Hamilton was the first leader of this group. His biographer, Ron Chernow, quotes Mr. Hamilton (p.233):
"Give all the power to the many and they will oppress the few. Give all the power to oppress the few, they will oppress the many." The system needed an impartial arbiter to transcend class warfare and regional interests, and here Hamilton [used] the word monarch: "This check is a monarch.... There ought to be a principle in government capable of resisting the popular current."
Conservatives, as represented by Hamilton's foe, Thomas Jefferson support democracy but not because it is perfect: they also share a scepticism of "popular currents." However, Jeffersonians have a much greater scepticism of any "monarch" or other authority which claims to "transcend" class or region. The Jeffersonian idea was wittily and famously expressed by Winston Churchill in 1947:
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
In the US, Democrats would like the president to take the role of transcendent "monarch" or, maybe more precisely, the role of ideal parent. The idea of the voters being children of the president, was explicitly addressed during a debate of presidential candidates in 1992, as recounted by Dr. Edwin Feulner:
During one of the 1992 presidential debates ... a young man with a ponytail stood up to ask a question of the candidates. He said, "We are your children, we have our needs. What will you do to take care of us-to take care of our needs?" All three candidates predictably fell all over themselves explaining what they would do for this young man.
Dr. Feulner continues by quoting a typical Jeffersonian reaction to this concept:
My friend and Heritage Foundation colleague Bill Bennett commented about this episode: "Wouldn't it have been refreshing," he said, "wouldn't it have been great if any one of them had said, 'Just a minute. Get a life. I'm not your father. This is America. This is a do-it-yourself society. I'm only running for the head of the government... satisfy your own needs. See a minister, see a priest, see your wife. Take care of yourself, man; get a hold of yourself."'

I believe that BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) can be explained by the fact that Pres. Bush, by going to war in Iraq, violates the Democratic concept of ideal parent. His presence in White House is as much an abomination to Democrats as, say, Andre Serrano's "Piss Christ" is to Christians.

In foreign policy, Democrats place the United Nations in the role of Ideal Parent, expecting it to be above class or region and provide the sound judgment that the world needs. Republicans, by contrast, see nothing ideal or parental about the UN: they see it, rather, as a group of thugs, thieves, and tyrants that may occasionally be useful but should never be respected.

MORE DETAIL: The "young man with a ponytail," mentioned by Dr. Feulner, spoke at the October 15th of 1992 presidential debate between Perot, Clinton and Bush 41 in Richmond, Virginia. His question was:
The focus of my work is domestic mediation, is meeting the needs of the children that I work with by way of their parents and not the wants of their parents, and I ask the three of you, how can we as symbolically the children of the future president expect the two of you, the three of you to meet our needs?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Group guilt

Consider a recent murder in New Orleans:
A recent murder encapsulated the difficulties. After a 17-year-old was beaten up, his mother gave him a gun and told him to get revenge, and he killed the boy he fought with.

When police went to his home to investigate, they found the mother with cocaine and a family photo on display of the son with a gun in one hand and a fistful of cash in the other.

"For us to correct this, we have to look at the root of the problem. The root of the problem is our education system," Police Superintendent Warren Riley said in an interview.

In this case, talking about "root" cause certainly seems like an excuse to avoid assigning individual guilt.

Via BoTW.

Group vs. Individual

The FAA bans handguns from private space flights, in orbit or otherwise.  The FAA, however, has changed the reason why.  Their previous explanation claimed that the 2nd amendment right to bear arms was a "collective right" not an individual right.  The new explanation says that the FAA has the right to ban guns from spaceflights, as it does from planes, as a reasonable exception to the 2nd amendment.

The trend here is that the left thinks of group rights while the right wants to protect the rights of individuals.  For example, affirmative action, strongly supported by the left, is intended to provide group justice regardless of the injustice that it does to many individuals.  The claim that the Bill of Rights was intended to protect governments ("collective rights") against individuals is perverse: History shows that the Bill of Rights was passed out of concern that the newly created federal government might have too much power, not too little.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Foreign Policy and Selective Ethics

Paul Campos condemns Glenn Reynolds for suggesting covert action, including assassination, against Iran's nuclear program.  Glenn Reynolds responds by pointing to Democrats who have advocated similar policies during the Clinton years and concludes:
It's not only important to have the right opinions -- it's important to have them at the right time.
The difference is that Democrats assume when, say, Bill Clinton attempted to assassinate bin Laden, that Bill Clinton had a good reason. They extend no such assumption to Republicans. In either, they will phrase their argument as if it involved basic inviolable principles of ethics or morality or law.

The liberal view of free speech is similarly situational.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker looks at the legal issues that Prof. Campos raises in his attack on Prof. Reynolds.

RELATED: Those who advocate "peace" yet become violent seemingly display a similar hypocrisy.

The FAA and those 10-hour plane waits

The well-publicized 8 or 10 hour long waits in an airplane are explained by the WSJ:
The FAA's air-traffic-control system can penalize flights that go back to a gate, even for a temporary bathroom break. Air-traffic controllers generally take flights first-come, first-serve, unless the airline can badger officials into giving a flight higher priority, or trade places in line with another of its own flights.

Indeed, last month a JetBlue flight ended up on the ground for eight hours at JFK because it returned to the gate and then was required to file a new flight plan, the FAA says.

The bigger the bureaucracy, the stranger the rules.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Catholic Church opposes faith-based environmentalism

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, suggests that some skepticism is in order for doomsday predictions:
A local newspaper editorial’s complaint about the doomsdayers’ religious enthusiasm is unfair to mainstream Christianity. Christians don’t go against reason although we sometimes go beyond it in faith to embrace probabilities. What we were seeing from the doomsdayers was an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition. [emphasis added]
The line about christians not going against reason refers to the Roman Catholic Church which, in recent centuries, stopped fighting science. In this view, Catholics can adopt evolution as an example of God's brilliance and with the expectation that the science of biological evolution provides an expanded explanation of, rather than a contradiction of, the biblical story of creation. Cardinal Pell goes on to summarize the global warming issue in a brief but rational manner that contrasts strongly with those who are true believers in the coming apocalypse.

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Sen. Obama on economic policy

Is the world perfectible? Democrats seem to believe so. For example, Sen. Obama declared:
Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America.
The past 40 years of the US "war on poverty" not only didn't end poverty but seems, in many ways, to have made it worse. Marxism also did not work. Poverty stubbornly remained in the USSR and China. Homelessness remained in the USSR even when all housing was owned by the government. None of that seems to affect the liberal belief that the next government program will be the solution. What is Sen. Obama's suggestion?
Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this.
Of course, job training is important. It is important for the young to learn key job skills such as (a) show up on time, (b) when interacting with customers, be nice to them, and, most importantly, (c) just because the boss asks you to do something, it does not mean that he is 'dissing' you. Most Americans learned these skills, without government subsidy, in their first entry-level jobs. Curiously, Democrats have just taken pride in their attempt to eliminate entry-level jobs (i.e. the minimum wage increase). In a perfectible world, of course, such trade-offs do not happen and do not need to be considered.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sudden Jihad Syndrome, circa 1997

The New York Daily News exposes a 10-year cover-up. The 1997 shooting spree by Kamal, a Palestinian, on the observation deck of the Empire State Building was jihad. At the request of the Palestinian Authority, the media had played the story as if it was caused by the shooter's depression over a business failure.
But three days after the shootings, Kamal's family got a copy of a letter that was found on his body, they said. The letter said he planned the violence as a political statement, his daughter said.

"When we wanted to clarify that to the media, nobody listened to us," she said. "His goal was patriotic. He wanted to take revenge from the Americans, the British, the French and the Israelis." ....

"He wrote that after he raised his children and made sure that his family was all right he decided to avenge in the highest building in America to make sure they get his message," said [Kamal's daughter] Linda, who works for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. [emphasis added]

via LGF.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Some economic ideas die hard

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result indicates, they say, insanity. Oil-rich Venezuela has implemented price controls. The results appear to be the same as previous attempts:

Shortages of basic foods have been sporadic since the government strengthened price controls in 2003 after a debilitating strike by oil workers. But in recent weeks, the scarcity of items like meat and chicken have led to a panicked reaction by federal authorities as they try to understand how such shortages could develop in a seemingly flourishing economy....

With shoppers limited to just two large packages of sugar, a black market in sugar has developed among street vendors in parts of Caracas.
It is not within the power of governments to repeal the law of supply and demand. Yet, they try over and over again.

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Singing "we are the world"

The leftists in Venezuela think it "illogical" that Al Qaeda would want to attack them:
ARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Venezuela's defense minister said Thursday that the nation would reinforce security measures after a branch of al Qaeda called for attacks on suppliers of oil to the United States.....

Luis Cabrera, a military adviser to the president, earlier had questioned the authenticity of the threat in comments published by local media.

He said it was illogical that "al Qaeda, which is against North American imperialism, would go against a state that is fighting, though in a different way, against that hegemony."
As James Taranto notes, this confusion is longstanding. After Pres. Bush referred to islamist terrorists as "extremists" in his speech at the UN, Venezuela 's President Chavez replied as if So. American socialists and Islamists were all allies:
Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.
Al Qaeda, of course, will consider Venezuela an enemy until Venezuelans convert to Islam and impose Shari'a law, Chavez does have the advantage that South America is not currently on Al Qaeda's priority list but that is all. He, however, imagines that he and bin Laden are allies. agit-prop filmmaker Michael Moore also shares a similar delusion as shown in his comment on the 9/11 attack:
Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California--these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!
George McGovern also has a similar reaction, as explained by James Taranto:
[R]emember George McGovern's analysis of a few years ago:
President Bush has said repeatedly that the terrorists hate us because of our freedom. I don't believe that. The world's people have always admired our freedom. What they don't like is the arrogance and indifference to world opinion inherent in so much of our international policy. Plenty of my fellow citizens don't like that either. I'm not alone....
Note how McGovern equates "terrorists" with "the world's people," then moves on quickly to "plenty of my fellow citizens" and finally to himself. It seems he is simply unable to imagine someone seeing the world through anything but a McGovernite prism.
This is similar to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa) who believed that bin Laden was a strong advocate of daycare centers.

It is a conceit of the left/liberals that the whole world (or almost the whole world) believes the same things they do.

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Character assassination by forged blog comment

Comments on blogs are often deleted because of offensive content or language. Some blogs delete comments from those who simply disagree however politely and reasonably. Well, blog ownership does have its privileges. However, it is something else entirely for a blog owner or administrator to use his access to forge a comment and attribute it to someone else. That appears to have happened in a very offensive way in this case.

If you visit the "Liberal Avenger" blog, it seems that it would be wise not to post comments there.

UPDATE: Another eerily similar example is here.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The selective right of free speech

Using mostly student fees, College of William Mary held a "Sex Workers Art Show." College president Gene Nichol issued a statement:
"I don't like this kind of show and I don't like having it here," he said. "But it's not the practice and province of universities to censor or cancel performances because they are controversial."

This is the same Pres. Nichol who had no problem censoring the display of a cross in a university chapel.

Previously on this topic:

The Right of Free Speech, Selectively Applied

Tolerating free speech, IV

Tolerating free speech, III

More on tolerating free speech

Those who cannot tolerate free speech

Rep. Murtha's Foreign Policy

Movecongress.org shows their true intentions:
Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president's foreign and national security policy[emphasis added]
Naturally, after this was exposed, movecongress.org deleted the part about "undermining."

Previously in this series:
More on how Democrats treat allies
Attacking your allies
Who is being "confrontational"?
Despising your allies

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More on how Democrats treat allies

How do you treat a friend? Sen. Dodd explained his approach on March 12, 1975:
"The greatest gift our country can give the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now." -- Rep. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.)

Congressional Record

March 12, 1975
As James Taranto points out, the results of Sen. Dodd's "greatest gift" was not good. In the words of Dith Pran:
On April 17th, 1975 the Khmer Rouge, a communist guerrilla group led by Pol Pot, took power in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. They forced all city dwellers into the countryside and to labor camps. During their rule, it is estimated that 2 million Cambodians died by starvation, torture or execution. 2 million Cambodians represented approximately 30% of the Cambodian population during that time.
Dith Pran, by the way, is the Cambodian refugee whose war time story was portrayed in the movie, The Killing Fields.

Sen. Dodd is currently recommending a similar "gift" to Iraq.

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Attacking your allies

Among the Democratic talking points is that Pres. Bush did not have a large enough coalition and that Democrats, with their superior skills, would have encouraged more mor countries to join us. At the same, Democrats have have insulted our allies. The latest is from Sen Obama who has been picking a fight with Australia:
I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops on the ground now, and my understanding is Mr Howard [Australia's PM] has deployed 1,400, so if he is (ready) to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq. Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric.
Among other things, this tirade indicates that Mr. Obama is not aware that Australia has a small population to begin with.

The Democrat's hostility to US allies was noted earlier in a post entitled "despising your allies."

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Monday, February 12, 2007

And, the Grammy for best politics is:

Jimmy Carter! Ex. Pres. Carter won a grammy award in the spoken-word category for the audio-book version of his bestseller “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis.” Separately, the Dixie Chicks won 5 Grammys this year.

Who won last year's spoken-word Grammy? Sen. Barack Obama for the audio-book version of his book “Dreams From My Father.”

RELATED: The George Polk Awards for 2006, which honor journalism in the tradition of George W. Polk, also seem to be political. It is even questionable that Geo. Polk was who he claimed to be.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What is looks like when a foreign policy succeeds

The city of Katowice, Poland, is considering erecting a statue to former Pres. Reagan in a square that may be renamed "Ronald Reagan Freedom Square." City hall spokesman Waldemar Bojarun said that he had "enormous respect" for Reagan. The AFP writes
Reagan, who dubbed the Soviet Union an "evil empire," is widely credited by Poles with having driven communism to the wall.
Separately, there are plans to erect a statue in memory of Reagan in the center of the Polish capital, Warsaw.

Democrats widely believe that the end of the Cold War was caused by Gorbachev who planned on having his Soviet Union undergo a simultaneous military, economic, and political collapse leading to the USSR's disintegration into numerous separate countries. Apparently, the Poles don't buy into that interpretation of history.

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Science vs. Politicians

A group of Danish scientists suggests that global warming is caused by the Sun.  Their findings, published this week in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A, are likely to cause consternation among politicians who would prefer that scientists not interfere with their belief systems.

The theory in brief is that: (a) increased solar magnetic activity helps shield the Earth from cosmic rays; (b) With fewer cosmic rays reaching the Earth's atmosphere, fewer molecules are ionized; (c) With fewer ions, then fewer water clusters nucleate; (d) With fewer water clusters, then fewer clouds form; (e) With less cloud cover, more of the Sun's light reaches Earth causing more warming.  The lead scientist on this project, Henrik Svensmark, says the current warm temperatures could be because we currently "have the highest solar activity we have had in at least 1,000 years."

Both Jupiter and Mars show indications that they are experiencing global warming, an issue that cannot be explained by excessive use of SUVs but could be explained by the Sun.

UPDATE Feb 13 '07: A House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality hearing on "warming of the planet" scheduled for tomorrow was postponed due snow/ice/freezing rain storm.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Democratic party press releases found not to be the same thing as unbiased reports.

As we all know, MSM editors require that news stories be subjected to many layers of careful fact checkers before they are released. On the other hand, maybe they just accept Democratic party press releases at face value and publish them as the Washington Post and AP were caught doing this week in a story about Iraq pre-war intelligence. See here and here. To its credit, the Washington Post issued a clear correction. The AP, as is typical, silently rewrote some paragraphs in the story.

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When facts become inconvenient, discard them

It is currently an article of faith in the "unbiased" media, such as the Washington Post, that Saddam and Al Qaeda had nothing to do with each other. It wasn't always so. In 2000 and before, the connection was considered obvious, as made clear in this ABC News video from 2000:

The "facts," of course, haven't really changed. What has changed is that any connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda or other terrorists is now seen as helpful the Bush administration. Therefore, the formerly accepted facts must now be false.

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Who is being "confrontational"?

Iran appears to be providing weapons, training, and maybe personnel, to attack us in Iraq. They provide money and supplies to Hezbollah in its fight with Israel (who they see as our proxy). Iran is working on nuclear technology with the seeming goal of 'wiping Israel off the map.' In the Washington Post, Paul R. Pillar expresses his concern, not with Iran, of course, but rather with Pres. Bush:

[T]he Bush administration ... is taking confrontational step.
Iran declared war on the US in 1979 with the hostage taking and continued chants of "Death to America." They continued since then with their support of terrorism, including the Khobar Towers bombing, and continues now in Iraq. So, after a quarter century of Iran's warfare against the US, what concerns Mr. Pillar is that Pres. Bush might be too "confrontational"?

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The rules apply only to other people

Speaker Pelosi has just called for "prompt action" on legislation about global warming. Of course, this is not interfering with her demand for an unpredendently large DoD airplane to fly her where she wants to go. It also won't interfere with the government chauferred SUV (15 mpg) that "carbon-criminal" Pelosi rides in for free.

Did I mention that her vehicle is exempt even federal gasoline taxes? Democrats frequently call for tax increases (Pelosi voted for five increases gas tax in the past six years), yet don't think that they should have to pay those taxes. This is reminiscent of Pres. Clinton's nominees for US Attorney General, the nation's highest law enforcement officer, who themselves hadn't bothered to pay the income taxes that they owed.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The UN's about-face?

While political activists are noisily trying to silence scientists (see below), the new UN report has quietly done some interesting backtracking, says the WSJ:
Take rising sea levels. In its 2001 report, the U.N.'s best high-end estimate of the rise in sea levels by 2100 was three feet. Lord Monckton notes that the upcoming report's high-end best estimate is 17 inches, or half the previous prediction. Similarly, the new report shows that the 2001 assessment had overestimated the human influence on climate change since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third.

.... We're told that the upcoming report is also missing any reference to the infamous "hockey stick," a study by Michael Mann that purported to show 900 years of minor fluctuations in temperature, followed by a dramatic spike over the past century. The IPCC featured the graph in 2001, but it has since been widely rebutted.

At present, the UN report is only in draft form, so any of the above can change before publication.

The silencing of dissent

The governor of Oregon wants to fire the state's climatologist, George Taylor, because Taylor asserts that “[m]ost of the climate changes we have seen up until now have been a result of natural variations” as opposed to the governor's preferred theory. Mr. Taylor is a faculty member at Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences where he manages the Oregon Climate Service, the state repository of weather and climate information, and supervises a staff of ten.

Separately, Delaware's State Climatologist, David R. Legates, is under fire because he believes that some claims about warming and climate shifts are "overblown." What particularly galls left-wing groups, such as Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists, is that some of Legates research is funded by private industry. Dr. David R. Legates is an associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware. He is also the Associate State Climatologist and Associate Director of the NASA-sponsored Delaware Space Grant Consortium. He has a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Geography, a M.S. degree in Geography-Climatology and a Ph.D. degree in Climatology all from the University of Delaware.

The Imperial Speakership

Speaker Pelosi has complained that the aircraft provided to her by the military, and as previously used by Speaker Hastert, is not big enough for her needs.

Another issue is whether the Pentagon should supply planes for purely partisan purposes. Rep. Pelosi wanted one to take her to a Democratic weekend retreat in Williamsburg but the Pentagon declined.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Strength through pacifism?

Heather Robinson listened to Sen. Clinton speak to the AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee):

[Sen. Clinton] continued, “I also want to send a message to the rest of the world if [force] becomes necessary that we have exhausted all measures…because we will need friends to stand by us as we stand with Israel as we approach this long war.”

Okay, maybe there’s something to this last part. Then again, look how well the world remembers, respects, and stands by America for our efforts to exhaust all other measures (to the tune of 19 UN resolutions and an embargo for which we were excoriated) to contain Saddam Hussein, prior to the time force became necessary.

So Sen. Clinton's idea is that one makes friends and allies by showing weakness. Ms. Robinson is of course right that this doesn't work in the real world. It is however something that liberals, ex-Pres. Jimmy Carter comes to mind, believe in very strongly.

Even more curious, liberals don't seem to practice this one themselves. How many of dictators that Jimmy Carter thinks he is best-friends with would be the last one to use force, waiting until they have "exhausted all other measures"? In domestic policy, liberals are often championing murderer-rights and trying to reduce punishments. Murderers, such as crips gang co-founder and liberal cause celeb Stanley Tookie Williams, certainly didn't earn the friendship of liberals by being the last to use force.

Quick links to recent press fakery and press bias stories

The New York Times wrote a completely false story about abortion rights in El Salvador. The story claimed that Carmen Climaco had been convicted of having an abortion and sentenced to 30 years. This story was written in collaboration with an abortion advocacy group, IPAS, that used the article for fund-raising. However, the truth was that Ms. Climaco was convicted not of abortion but of infanticide on a born live baby. Several NYT editors continued the cover-up for weeks as later revealed by NYT Public Editor Calame. More here.

A fake NYT story on Saddam's last words is exposed here.

The group think of our "independent journalists" is documented here.

The Washington Post falsely claimed that Iraq Study Group member Clifford D. May was "won over" to the negotiate with Iran and Syria policy suggestion. When the error was pointed out, the newspaper refused to correct it and wouldn't publish Mr May's letter of correction.

The AP misrepresents the flying imam controversy.

The New York Daily News misrepresents a new law on postal mail inspection.

The AP misrepresented the history of the Kyoto treaty to blame Bush.

Another Lebanon fauxtography scandal is exposed.

Pamela Hess of the UPI points out one of the media's key bias problems when covering foreign policy.

KC Johnson reviews the Paula Zahn show (CNN) to demonstrate how uninformed some of the MSM talking head "experts" really are. Sometimes, it is hard to draw the line between bias and simple ignorance.

Across the pond, Gene Miller has noticed that the London Guardian just republished the NY Times story on Carmen Climaco in its original and uncorrected form. They did this even after the NY Times acknowledged the errors.

It appears that the AP and the NY Times were again caught presenting Palestinian propaganda as fact. More here and here.

The Washington Post appears to have been caught misrepresenting the basic facts of the Plame affair.

The German newspaper FAZ got its facts quite wrong on the Jamil Hussein story.

UPDATE 2/24/07: Confederate Yankee has done some research on AP's favorite source, Capt. Jamil Hussein:

Jamil Hussein doesn't exist. He never did, as [Iraqi Ministry spokesman] Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Khalaf confirmed.

AP's source is another name entirely, and what's more, AP knows I have the right name, which is why they're clamming up now, instead of issuing heated denials as they have in the past.

Despising your allies

James Taranto spots a parallel between Democrats today and 1974. Sen. Clinton wants to make progress by "threatening" to de-fund the democratically-elected government of Iraq:
"I want to make it very clear that we need to threaten the Iraqi government, that we're going to take money away from their troops, not our troops who still lack body armor and armored vehicles; that we're going to send a clear message -- that we are finished with their empty promises and with this president's blank check."--Hillary Clinton, speech to the Democratic National Committee, Feb. 2007
This is eerily similar to the Democrats approach to "helping" Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970's:
"Last year, some believed that cutting back our military assistance to the South Vietnamese Government would induce negotiations for a political settlement. Instead, the opposite has happened. North Vietnam is refusing negotiations and is increasing its military pressure."--Gerald Ford, "Special Message to the Congress Requesting Supplemental Assistance for the Republic of Vietnam and Cambodia," Jan. 28, 1975
The policy of defunding our allies did not work well: Between the killing fields in Cambodia and the ethnic cleansing (see "boat people") in communist Vietnam, there was a staggering death toll. Applying the same policy to Iraq, where Al Qaeda and Iran are fighting democracy, could be even more devastating.There are other parallels. Jimmy Carter helped remove our ally, the Shah of Iran, from power so that his dictatorship could be replaced with the Islamists who today want nuclear weapons.

UPDATE: The Sanity Squad offers another explanation for Democrats who hope that the enemy wins. at least with respect to Iraq:

“What I can’t understand is why the Democrats are so desperate to surrender in Iraq.”

“To them its not about surrender. It’s about penance. Surrender in Iraq allows them to be victims.”
ADDENDUM: A topic related to despising one's allies is adopting the enemy's ideas as your own. For example, Sen. Kerry's propaganda has an amazing similarity to Al Zawahiri's. The similarity was spotted by Rush Limbaugh ($$).

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The politics of inconsistency

"They're going to need a surge of forces," said Sen. Biden.

The Washington Times has identified a dozen Democrat senators, including Senators Kerry and Reid, who have flip-flopped on the issue of a troop surge in Iraq. When these senators supported a surge, it seemed to be pure politics: it allowed them to seem strong while criticizing Pres. Bush. They seem to be displaying no principles or insights other than loyalty to party. James Taranto has tracked some of this as they shift from supporting to opposing surges, sometimes in the same speech. (Curiously, MediaMatters seems to think that this absolves the flip-floppers in some way.)

This contrasts with, say, the speech by Sen. Clinton, noted below, where she seems to follow the "principled" liberal approach to foreign policy.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum provides an example of carefully crafted inconsistent impression left by Sen. Edwards on his approach to the Iran issue. UPDATE II: James Taranto has a still more critical look at Sen. Edwards' inconsistencies.

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