Thursday, August 30, 2007

Most ridiculous item of the day

In the style section of today's Wall Street Journal, Teri Agins writes on climate change:
One of the most surprising effects of climate changes can be found in your closet: With the exception of heavy winter coats and flimsy sundresses, there aren't a lot of truly seasonal clothes in many people's wardrobes anymore.

The move toward seasonless dressing is largely an effect of climate change. In most places in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is getting warmer, and winters are shorter and less extreme, according to the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University in New York. Radley Horton, a climatologist at the center says 11 of the Earth's 12 warmest years since 1890 occurred after 1996. But in recent years, he says, "there are less extreme differentials between seasons," he says.

The problem with this is that the propaganda, at least for the US, is out of date: 5 of the 10 warmest years in the US all occurred before World War II.

Even without updated NASA figures, it is obvious that August in much of the US is still characterized by heat and humidity while January and February still have ice and snow. The idea that the outdoor climate has "changed" enough so we don't need winter scarves or summer short-sleeve shirts rates as the most ridiculous item of the day.

ACLU propaganda

From the Washington Post:
The American Civil Liberties Union is running Internet advertisements depicting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) as sheep.

"Bush wanted more power to eavesdrop on ordinary Americans, and we just followed along. I guess that's why they call us the Democratic leadersheep," say the two farm animals in the ad, referring to Congress's passage of legislation granting Bush a six-month extension and expansion of his warrantless wiretapping program.

If Bush really were eavesdropping on "ordinary Americans," it would spark bi-partisan outrage. If there were any evidence that that charge was true, however, I didn't find it in the ACLU press release on this ad. Truth is irrelevant when the goal is creating fear.

Democrat psychology

How about this for an example of psychological projection:
"We can do this, but you have to keep in mind Republicans care more about catching Democrats than catching terrorists," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "They have spent years taking Roosevelt's notion that we have nothing to fear but fear itself and given us nothing but fear."

Sen. Edwards calls for sacrifice

The AP writes:
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group Tuesday that he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles.

“I think Americans are actually willing to sacrifice,” Edwards said during a forum held by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “One of the things they should be asked to do is drive more fuel efficient vehicles.”

The former North Carolina senator was asked specifically if he would tell them to give up their SUVS, he said, “Yes.”

Of course, the public should give up SUVs: how else can enough gas be made available for the Democratic presidential nomination candidates to fly around in private jets?

AP puff piece on Sen. Obama

An AP story, written by Nedra Pickler, profiles Sen. Obama as offering "hard truths to supporters." The story quotes a Democratic consultant saying that this shows he "can stand up on the tough issues." (In the interest of balance, AP style, no Republicans are quoted.) Curiously, the story provides examples but the the examples of Obama's "hard truths" on "tough issues" seem to be mostly just his repeating the usual Democratic party talking points. For example, the story cites as examples: (a) Obama wants higher fuel efficiency from Detroit and (b) he wants to weaken the embargo against Cuba. For a Democratic audience, neither of these positions offer, as the AP insinuates, any "shock value."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Media "fact checking" from 1996 remembered

Richard Jewell, suffering from diabetes, was found dead in his home today. He was the security guard that the media tried to convict of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. Eventually, it emerged that he was a hero not a villain. Last year, he was commended by Gov. Sonny Perdue for his actions on the 10th anniversary of the bombing. He sued and won settlements from NBC and CNN. His case against the Atlanta Journal Constitution was still pending at the time of his death.

Anti-semitism update

In the New York Sun, Ira Stoll reviews Walt and Mearsheimer's latest writings on the Jewish conspiracy:

Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government burst onto the national scene in March of 2006 with a Harvard "working paper" in which they wrote of the "unmatched power of the Israel Lobby." They charged, "Were it not for the Lobby's ability to manipulate the American political system, the relationship between Israel and the United States would be far less intimate than it is today.... AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress.... manipulating the media."

At the time, the paper was praised by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the American white supremacist David Duke, while widely condemned by the American Jewish community and a number of general interest publications, including The New York Sun. Next week, the two professors will publish a book-length expansion of their argument, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 484 pages, $26). [...]

But from beneath the surface, try though the professors may have to suppress it, what Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt themselves define as anti-Semitism manages to poke through. The professors write that "anti-Semitism indulges in various forms of stereotyping and implies that Jews should be viewed with suspicion or contempt, while seeking to deny them the ability to participate fully and freely in all realms of society." They are at pains to emphasize that "the lobby is defined not by ethnicity or religion but by a political agenda." Then they proceed to jump in and do exactly what they say anti-Semites do.

What are we to make of the professors' classification of the former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, as a supporter of Israel in part on the basis that " Dean's wife is Jewish and his children were raised Jewish as well"? Or of the assertion that "Christian Zionists exert less impact on U.S. Middle East policy than the other parts of the Israel lobby do," because the Christians "lack the financial power of the major pro- Israel Jewish groups, and they do not have the same media presence"?

Previous discussion of anti-semitism in the Democratic party is here, here, here, and here. Also, a summary of Sen. Clinton's alleged anti-semitic remarks is available at the HillaryProject.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

AFP photo deception?

In an AFP photo, an Iraqi woman holds two bullets that the caption claims were fired at her house by coalition forces. However the bullets are still in their casings and therefore could not have been fired. Further, the bullets appear to be civilian, not any of the types used by our military. But then the "narrative" has always been more important than the facts.

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Newsweek editor debunks Newsweek global warming story

Robert Samuelson, a contributing editor of Newsweek, criticizes Newsweek's own cover story on global warming, "The Truth about Denial," in which the magazine paints global warming advocates as the "mainstream" of science while those who disagree are part of a "well-coordinated, well-funded campaign" of "deniers." Samuelson writes, for example:
Newsweek's "denial machine" is a peripheral and highly contrived story. Newsweek implied, for example, that Exxon Mobil used a think tank to pay academics to criticize global-warming science. Actually, this accusation was long ago discredited, and Newsweek shouldn't have lent it respectability.
Hat tip: Marc Morano.

Airport screening modernizes

Six years after 9/11, it appears that the US is upgrading its airport screening procedures to find terrorists, not just find shampoo bottles.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Disasters past

John McCaslin, of the Washington Times' Inside the Beltway column, notes a previous observation of environmental disaster:
D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt."

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention "great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones," and "at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared."

"This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s," says Mr. Lockwood. "I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all."

This was written well before the Coming-Ice-Age scare of the 1970s.

Overt namism at the Washington Post

Charles Webb is an author who's first novel was turned into the 1967 film "The Graduate." His wife calls herself "Fred" to show sympathy for the discrimination suffered by people named Fred. I wasn't aware of such discrimination until Monica Hesse, a Washington Post Staff Writer, wrote a column making fun of Fred Thompson's name:
In the swampy soup of hopefuls for the 2008 presidential election, there is a man with a funny name. (No, not that one.)

We're thinking of the one named Fred (Thompson).

Say it out loud. Do it. Fred. Fred. In the South, Fray-ud.


It has the tonal quality of something being dropped on the floor, something heavy and damp-ish.

Waterlogged paper towel.


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Monday, August 13, 2007

Disaster predicted!

Bill McGuire believes that global warming will cause an increase in volcanic eruptions. In the UK Guardian, he warns:
Unlike most apparently intractable problems, which have a tendency to go away when examined closely and analytically, the climate change predicament just seems to get bigger and scarier the more we learn about it.

Now we discover that not only are the oceans and the atmosphere conspiring against us, bringing baking temperatures, more powerful storms, floods and ever-climbing sea levels, but the crust beneath our feet seems likely to join in too.

Looking back to other periods in our planet's history when the climate was swinging about wildly, most notably during the last ice age, it appears that far more than the weather was affected. The solid earth also became restless, with an increase in volcanic activity, earthquakes, giant submarine landslides and tsunamis. At the rate climate change is accelerating, there is every prospect that we will see a similar response from the planet, heralding not just a warmer future but also a fiery one. [....]

The Earth is responding as a single, integrated system to climate change driven by human activities. Global warming is not just a matter of warmer weather, more floods or stronger hurricanes, but is also a wake-up call to Terra Firma. It may be no coincidence that one outcome of increased volcanic activity is likely to be a period of falling temperatures, as a veil of volcanic dust and gas reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface. Maybe the Earth is trying to tell us something. It really would be worth listening before it is too late.
The usual scientific theory is that volcanic eruptions cause changes in the weather, not the other way around. Mr. McGuire's speculations are interesting but appear to be nothing more than speculation.

Mr. McGuire argument also makes the pathetic fallacy: He attributes a consciousness to the Earth, suggesting that the Earth is "trying to tell us something" and it possibly creating volcanoes as an intelligent response to global warming.

This may not be a coincidence but Mr. McGuire is also hawking two books: "Surviving Armageddon: Solutions For a Threatened Planet" and "What Everyone Should Know About the Future of Our Planet: And What We Can Do About It." This is understandable as Al Gore reportedly made a lot of money from "An Inconvenient Truth."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Are our enemies just like us?

A persistent belief of the liberal mind is that our enemies are "just like us." Caroline Glick quotes Israeli Prime Minister Olmert providing another example of this:
By [Israeli PM Olmert's] telling, there is no war on the horizon because, "In the north and in the east live millions of people who want tranquility, a quality of life and quiet - just like we do."
People north and east of Olmert include Hezbollah (north) and Hamas (east). If Hezbollah and Hamas want 'tranquility,' they have a funny way of showing it.

Olmert's comments are reminiscent of some by Gen. Wesley Clark (D-CNN). Gen. Clark claimed that the way to convince Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad not to nuke Israel was by "sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."

Friday, August 10, 2007

US Temperatures revised: hottest year on record was 1934

According to revised NASA figures, the warmest year on record in the US was 1934. Further, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record in the US all occurred before World War II. The figures were revised after an error appeared to have been found in James Hansen's work.

That the weather in 1934 was extreme should not be a surprise: that year was roughly the middle of the "Dust Bowl" period.

James Hansen, Al Gore's favorite scientist, has been discussed before here, here, and here.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

"Unbiased" media not fooling everyone

From an AFP story on a Pew pool:
More than half of Americans say US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate, and don't care about the people they report on, a poll published Thursday showed.

And poll respondents who use the Internet as their main source of news -- roughly one quarter of all Americans -- were even harsher with their criticism, the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said.

More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Using the Soviet playbook

Lt. Gen. Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc. He discusses how US Democrats have, with their attacks on Bushitler, "taken a page from the old Soviet playbook," continuing the job that he used to do as an Eastern block intelligence official.

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bin Laden: real or photoshop?

Before Tora Bora, bin Laden seemed hungry for exposure and released tapes and videos quite frequently. Since Tora Bora, he has been heard in a few noisy audio tapes, several old videos that were re-released, and and one, short, supposedly new video. While noisy audio tapes are easy enough to fake, the new video, seemed to present stronger evidence that bin Laden survived the attack at Tora Bora. Now, however, Neal Krawetz, a researcher and computer security consultant, has developed a new analysis technique and he says that Al Qaeda video tapes are heavily edited with, for example, background images added or removed. This indicates that As-Sahab, Al Qaeda's media arm, has grown more sophisticated, and leaves open the possibility that bin Laden's last video was a fake.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Liberalism and the monist-dualist conflict

A left/liberal/technology blog, BoingBoing, provides a review of a currently popular Google video. Billed as a "documentary," Zeitgeist, the Movie claims to show that Christianity, 9-11, and international banking are all evil conspiracies. From Jay Kinney's review:
The latest bit of guerilla media to take the online universe by storm is “Zeitgeist, the Movie.” Clocking in at close to two hours’ length, and with over a million views on Google Video since its June 26th “official” release, Zeitgeist is a grabby, cranky, can’t-stop-watching-it documentary that purports to tell the real truth about Christianity, 9/11, and the International Bankers. ....

And what is [the movie's] worldview, pray tell? Religions in general, and Christianity in particular, are primarily systems of social control. 9/11 was an inside job and the destruction of the WTC twin towers and building 7 were aided by controlled demolition. And finally, International Bankers, through the Federal Reserve and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), control our money and our future, leading to, ta da, the coming One World Government and the microchipping of everyone.

Exactly how all this fits together is left to the viewer’s imagination or, presumably, the film-maker’s hash pipe. Are those who manipulate Christianity for control purposes in cahoots with the Bankers, and were the Bankers in on the 9/11 caper? Zeitgeist sidesteps such logical questions through the use of the all-purpose term, “the elite,” a shadowy group of rich and powerful men who want nothing more than to enslave humanity and reap block-buster profits through the promotion of wars and financial crises.

For conspiracy buffs, this is all pretty standard fare, and, indeed, aficionados of the genre will find little new in “Zeitgeist.” ....

The over-all temper of the video is rather like the John Birch Society on acid, with interludes by Harry Smith. Incongruously, after spending nearly two hours trying to scare the bejeezis out of its viewers, Zeitgeist ends on an oddly upbeat note, telling us that Love — not Fear — is the answer, We are all One, and featuring sound-bites from Ram Dass and Carl Sagan. [emphasis added]
Notice that the monist theme ("we are all one") co-exists in this film with the dualist theme (good vs. evil, where, in this case, evil is represented by Christians/Bankers/whatever). These two themes may be logically in conflict but the human mind appears happy to believe in both at once.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

The public perception of journalists

According to a new Harris poll which surveyed 1,010 US adults about the prestige of various occupations, journalists are again near the bottom:
Six occupations are perceived to have "very great" prestige by at least half of all adults - firefighters (61%), scientists (54%), teachers (54%), doctors (52%), military officers (52%), and nurses (50%). They are followed by police officers (46%) priests/ministers/clergy (42%) and farmers (41%).

By way of contrast, the list includes ten occupations which are perceived by less than 20 percent of adults to have "very great" prestige, with two of these under 10 percent. The lowest ratings for "very great prestige" go to real estate brokers (5%), actors (9%), bankers (10%), accountants (11%), entertainers (12%), stockbrokers (12%), union leaders (13%), journalists (13%), business executives (14%), and athletes (16%).

Members of Congress, with 26% rating them as having very great prestige, have twice the rank of journalists. If journalists could just see themselves as we see them, they might take steps to correct the problem.

Politicized science

Politicized science is not limited to global climate. James Taranto highlights the findings of a professor of political science:
Seek and Ye Shall Find
Newsweek carries an interview with David Jacobs, a professor of sociology and political science at Ohio State University, who has conducted a new study on race and the death penalty.

Jacobs tells the newsmagazine he found that "holding a whole bunch of stuff constant, including several political variables, we found that if a black person killed a white person they [sic] were more likely to get executed" than either black or white killers with nonwhite victims. In his mind, this proves "that the postsentencing capital-punishment process continues to place greater value on white lives."

But the second page of the interview reveals that the study had a fundamental methodological flaw:

[Did the disparities reflect] the nature of the crime? Or was it simply race?

We don't have much data on the nature of the crime.

From the abstract of his paper, it appears that he made no effect at all to control for the type and nature of the crime that led to the death penalty although he did statistically analyze for the presence of Republicans in the jurisdiction. The professor seems to have formed his conclusions before he performed the study.

Weather vs. politics

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore devotes much time to hinting that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was tied to Geo. Bush's election in 2000 after the Florida recounts failed to turn Gore's way. The recent hurricane seasons, however, have failed to meet Al Gore's expectations. Forcasters are now talking about "cooler-than-expected water temperatures" to explain the slow 2007 hurricane season. The 2006 hurricane season was also below the expectations of global catastrophe theorists.

Since predicting the weather is hard enough using science, it is not surprising that predictions based instead on politics do even worse.

Vote fraud update

John fund reviews the latest in vote fraud investigations and indictments here. He notes that, after claiming in 2004 that voter fraud was a serious problem, the Democrats now complain that too much effort is being devoted to prosecuting vote fraud.

Previously on vote fraud: Absentee ballot and dishonest elections and Fraud and Deceit in 2004

Ahmadinejad can rest easy

If elected, what would Pres. Obama do Iran gave nukes to Al Qaeda which set them off in, say, Tel Aviv and New York City? Would he respond in kind? Barack Obama's answer is no, he would not use nuclear weapons "under any circumstances."

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sen. Obama declares war?

From an AP report:
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists,
This seems pointless. Sen. Obama has indicated that, as president, he would turn over Iraq to Al Qaeda ("end the war in Iraq"). In which case, bin Laden would have no reason to stay hidden in Pakistani caves. Bin Laden would be riding victorious into Baghdad and ruling resource-rich Iraq while the future Pres. Obama was targeting empty caves in a poverty-stricken portion of Pakistan.
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