Category Archives: politics

Climategate

I knew it!

I knew something was deeply rotten in the state of Climate Science. I knew it years ago, and all these emails and computer files released from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia just confirm it.

I knew it when I first heard that so-called scientists wouldn’t release their data. Originally it was just Penn State’s Michael Mann, the guy who came up with the so-called “hockey stick” graph (debunked), refusing to give his data to Stephen McIntyre. Now we know that the CRU did the same, and I read today that James Hansen’s GISS at NASA has refused requests for so long that they’re being sued under the Freedom of Information Act.

Look, folks, real scientists don’t keep their data secret. If it’s secret, then they could have done anything to it (and the infamous Harry_ReadMe file shows exactly that). A real scientist (or, if you like and you think this stuff isn’t junk science, an honest scientist) puts all their data out there first, and then tells you what their conclusions are. And if there are questions, they can point to their data and show how their methods lead to their conclusions out in the open. If there’s a question or different interpretation, that can all be hashed out in the open. But if they hold something back, then they look like there’s something to hide. Which, apparently, there was at the CRU, and it sure smells like there is at the other database holders.

I knew it when I first heard of peer-review shenanigans. First, there’s the happy little club of GW climatologists who all review each other’s papers, no skeptics allowed. Second, there’s the attempts to prevent skeptics (or even just different interpretations orthogonal to the advocate-skeptic dimension) from even getting their papers peer-reviewed at all — and then claiming that their arguments are illegitimate because they’re not peer-reviewed. Convenient, that. And now we hear about Phil Jones et al. trying to punish journals for accepting papers from skeptics.

Maybe this is how academic types do their thing on a regular basis, but it ain’t science.

I knew it when ad hominem became the standard mode of debate. Real/honest scientists don’t stonewall critics with the argument that they’re all just ideologically-motivated deniers who just want to waste the scientists’ time. Real/honest scientists point to the data (that’s already public) and say “Got a case? Go ahead, make it and we’ll see.” (And the very term “denier” is clearly loaded.)

The second part of this is the argument “well, they’re all funded by the oil companies, so we know their criticisms are dishonest and shouldn’t even be considered.” Really? So if we find out that the GW climatologists were funded even in part by Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace or Al Gore or George Soros, then can skeptics legitimately use the same argument? Didn’t think so.

Argument by motivation is just as invalid as argument ad hominem. Look at the actual argument itself and see if it’s valid. Tobacco company “scientists” are a joke not because they were funded by the tobacco companies, but because their “science” was laughable. And as has been pointed out elsewhere, pharmaceutical companies have a profit motive, but if we threw out every study from a pharmaceutical company scientist on motivational arguments we’d have a whole lot less beneficial medical knowledge.

But when we’re not allowed to see the proponents actual argument in full, then we can’t see if it’s valid. At that point, it becomes legitimate to say “what’s your motivation for hiding?”

I knew it when “there’s a consensus” became the standard mode of refutation. Science doesn’t operate by consensus — Einstein was very much alone when he proposed the theory of relativity, but who looks stupid now: him or the luminiferous ether advocates? “The consensus is clear” is another way of saying “if all my friends jumped off a cliff, I would too.”

Certainly there is an assumption of trust: we all have a presumption that properly-trained scientists will be reasonably honest and that their findings can be trusted, especially if it’s in a field in which we’re not expert ourselves. But again, this depends on scientists acting like scientists and not like lawyers or evangelists. How many of the consensus members are only members because they believed the possibly-cooked data and possibly-bogus conclusions? How many will retract their approval now?

But it still goes on: the Obama Administration’s “Climate Czar” just announced that she was going to ignore Climategate because she was on the side of the “thousands of scientists” who believed in Global Warming. The fact that there are thousands of scientists — including climatologists, just to kill that argument — who don’t believe in Global Warming is apparently irrelevant.

I knew it when they crucified Bjørn Lomberg for having the temerity to suggest that there might be better ways to handle climate change than massive economic disruption. Look, Lomberg agreed with the IPCC conclusions (that were, of course, heavily based on the now-suspect CRU data) that said average temperature would go up. He just disagreed that massive statist solutions like, specifically, the Kyoto Protocol were the way to go — instead, he argued that mitigation was a much better road to follow than attempted (and doomed to fail) prevention. And further, that there were a lot of problems in the world that were a lot more pressing than global warming that could be addressed, and millions of people’s lives improved, by spending a whole hell of a lot less money.

And that’s when they excommunicated him.

I knew it when everything became evidence of Global Warming. If it was really hot in June, then “well, it’s Global Warming”. If it was really cold in January, then “well, Global Warming means more extreme temperatures, not just everything gets hotter”. If it was cold in June or hot in January, then “well, Global Warming means the climate’s going to be chaotic”. All said, of course, with an air of total certainty.

I know weather isn’t the same as climate (although there certainly seems to be a pennies-make-pounds sort of relationship). But if every piece of anecdotal weather evidence points to Global Warming, then it looks more and more like an unfalsifiable theory. To once again paraphrase one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, when everything is evidence of Global Warming, then nothing is.

I knew it when every “adjustment” went one way toward more warming; when known climate events like the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were airbrushed out of the record; and when every so-called solution only went one way toward more and more socialist control of the economy and thereby of people’s lives. It’s that last that really makes me think the whole thing was politically-motivated from the beginning.


Climategate pisses me off, but only to the extent that it’s proof of the kind of bullshit that I’ve been pretty damn sure has been going on from the beginning.

I wonder what their backgrounds were before getting into climate science. Were all of them frothing greenies like Hansen or just radical socialists? How many had no preconceived notions about their subject matter, or more importantly the policy ramifications thereof? I know I said that argument by motivation is illegitimate, but their case is already suspect — if they came out with ironclad data and solid mathematical conclusions I wouldn’t be wondering.

I was eventually planning to put this into a “This I Believe” post before this blog went on “indefinite hiatus” (Long story short: politics got depressing, we had a baby, we bought a house and started renovating it. But mostly politics got depressing, and I took a long break from even keeping up with the news.) But here’s my short form take on climate change:

I don’t believe that the Earth is heating up (note the word “believe”). I don’t even think there’s a good scientific case that it is. It may be doing so nonetheless, or it may be cooling off heading for the next ice age. Right now it’s still “not proven.”

The Earth, however, has endured much warmer periods than currently without planetary catastrophe, from the weak version of the Medieval Warm Period (a nice English wine, anyone?) to the strong version of the Cretaceous Period. “Endured” could easily be rewritten “enjoyed” in that sentence, since the evidence of the past is that warm is better than cold for humans specifically and the biosphere generally.

Since it’s kind of presumptuous to declare that now is the bestest temperature ever and any deviation from it is proof of the evil of humanity, I follow Lomberg in saying that if things do get warmer and that has negative consequences for some people, then it’s a whole lot better to mitigate those peoples’ problems than it is to figuratively put on a civilizational hairshirt and hurt millions in America and by extension billions in the Third World by cutting way back on energy production here and preventing the Third World from ever having enough energy to get out of poverty.

Actually, it’s far better and more moral to figure out a way to stop putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere (because it’s plausible that it’s adversely affecting the climate even if not proven yet) that doesn’t make everyone poorer. That means we have to figure out how to generate lots and lots of energy from something other than fossil fuels. Every serious look at wind/solar/geothermal/etc. comes to the conclusion that there’s no way in hell those sources will ever cover our day-to-day base load of necessary power. That’s why we need to go nuclear in a big way.

Well, Good, ‘Cause He’s Kind Of An Idiot

Biden will be given nothing to do.

Aides say Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama sometimes rib each other in private meetings, and they maintain that Mr. Obama was not unduly angry at Mr. Biden for his gaffe predicting that Mr. Obama would be tested by a world crisis in his first six months in office.

Since then, however, Mr. Biden has not had much to say to the news media. Through a spokeswoman, he declined to be interviewed for this article, itself a break from his voluble past.

Obama: “Oh, Joe, you kidder, you… (aside, to aide) Don’t let him ever speak to anybody ever again.

Legislate In Haste, Repent At Leisure

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the only plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.

“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Representative Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”

[Emphasis added]

Well, you guys in Congress panicked and gave the Treasury Secretary sole power and discretion to hand out all this money, and now you think maybe he needs to be reined in? Um, maybe you should have thought of that before you made him unlimited God King of Bailouts.

If there was ever a good argument for a republican form of government instead of a direct democracy, this is it. Even with representative democracy, a divided legislature, checks and balances, and all that, our government collectively acted like a flock of startled sheep and rushed into huge legislation without considering the consequences. What kind of legal monstrosities would we have if we legislated by poll? (Oh, wait, I can guess: look at late Athenian democracy. Yeesh.)

It was some time between the creation of TARP and the actual disbursement of funds — surely Congress could have taken a week or two more and thought about it and considered all the ramifications and built in a few safeguards before passing the bill.

This is just like the PATRIOT Act passed just after 9/11. All those Democratic Congressmen and Senators who have been yelling about it for the past eight years: it passed 357-66 in the House, 98-1 in the Senate, so STFU, you voted for it. You voted for it in a panic; but that’s nobody’s fault but your own.

(Oh, and by the way, If I Were Dictator I’d pass a law against cute/clever acronyms for Acts of Congress.)

Back to the article: apparently, the Federal Reserve has been responsible for $4.4 trillion of the total. They aren’t being forthcoming either:

“Some have asked us to reveal the names of the banks that are borrowing, how much they are borrowing, what collateral they are posting,” Bernanke said Nov. 18 to the House Financial Services Committee. “We think that’s counterproductive.”

Gosh, thanks, Mr. Chairman. It’s nice to know that you don’t think we should know where you’re sending our money. No need for that. I’m sure that if your wife started writing large checks on your account you’d agree that knowing what she was spending it on would be counterproductive.

(Hat tip: Vodkapundit)

If There’s One Sure Sign of American Declinism…

… it’s that we now seem to be okay with naming things after people who aren’t dead yet.

First it was the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) but that might be excused since he was far into Alzheimer’s at the time and wasn’t a public person anymore. But that doesn’t excuse the USS George HW Bush (CVN-77).

Then it was travesties like renaming Anchorage International Airport to “Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport” in 2000.

But now a Long Island elementary school has renamed itself for Barack Obama. Not only isn’t he dead, he isn’t even President yet.

I don’t care that “most of the 440 students there are black or Hispanic, and Obama’s victory is a source of great pride;” we have traditions in this country, and one of those is you name schools for dead Presidents, either great ones (Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington) or assassinated ones (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy).

Normally I don’t buy into American declinism much, but are we next to clamor for the Senate to declare Obama, like Augustus, a living god?

(hat tip to Hyacinth Girl)

Auto Industry Bailout — Patty Murray Responds

After writing the No Auto Industry Bailout post, I attempted to contact my Senators and Congressman through their website contact forms (Senator Cantwell’s contact form was broken and would not accept my submission), giving them my opinion that government funds should only be used to facilitate simultaneous Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the Big Three.

This morning, Sen. Murray responded:

Dear Mr. Lovely:

Thank you for writing me regarding the possibility of federal loans being granted to certain automobile companies. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.

As you know, three American automobile companies, General Motors (GM), Ford, and Chrysler, have recently asked the federal government to provide them loans to help them through the current credit crisis. It is projected that without federal loans, each company will be in danger of failing in the near future. Like you, I am frustrated that management at these companies have allowed their finances to deteriorate to this point, and are now requesting taxpayer assistance.

Whether or not to grant federal loans to GM, Ford, and Chrysler is a difficult question. Millions of Americans are employed directly or indirectly by these companies and their related businesses, such as auto parts manufacturers and dealerships. If these Americans were to lose their jobs due to their employer’s bankruptcy, it would have a devastating impact on the financial stability of millions of families at a time when many people are already struggling to pay their bills. However, using taxpayer dollars to support struggling businesses is seen by some as inappropriate government intervention in the private sector.

I want the auto industry to remain viable and continue to support the millions of jobs around the country which depend on its success. However, I cannot support providing funds without assurances that the automakers have a strategy to restructure and become viable, competitive companies. The auto industry cannot continue to follow a failed business model and then ask for help. I will need to be convinced that the loans will not only save jobs, but that industry leaders will take restructuring seriously and work to reinvigorate their industry. If the federal government- funded by working and taxpaying families- is expected to explore financial aid to these corporations, then I expect to hear about sacrifices that industry management will make during these tough times. Thank you for sharing your views with me about this important issue, and I will keep your comments in mind. Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future.

I hope all is well in Seattle.

Credit to Sen. Murray and her staff for replying in an at least semi-responsive manner, and for her antipathy toward a conditions-free bailout. Nevertheless, she does not respond to the question of bankruptcy reorganization but rather puts all the blame on the companies’ management for “following a failed business model.”

Granted their business model has failed, but that is in large part because of their legacy costs and over-generous union contracts. Management by itself can only sacrifice so much — as one commenter elsewhere pointed out, even $100 million in egregious management salaries would cover the pre-tax losses on only a hundred thousand cars (<1% of production). Without addressing the union or the dealers either by fiat or by bankruptcy, no amount of management “restructuring” will make any significant difference to the Big Three’s impending collapse.

Unstated in my previous post was this: even if the Big Three undergo bankruptcy restructuring and come out with everything on the wish list, there’s no way the bankruptcy court can make them design better cars that Americans will want to buy. The best that can happen is to make them viable and hope they get a clue. Failing that, they should disappear.

Victory in Iraq Day, November 22, 2008

Blogger Zombietime says what most of us have been thinking for some time: the war in Iraq is over. Major combat operations, the Baathist insurgency, the al Qaeda jihad, the Sadrist uprisings, the Sunni holdouts, the sectarian death squads. All beaten.

There is no serious fighting still going on. What is left is a few diehards (like those Japanese soldiers in the jungle who refused to surrender), criminal gangs, and Iranian infiltrators. There will continue to be suicide bombers, a nagging low level of insurgent violence, and an occasional flareup, but as Zombie points out, similar things are happening today in India, Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, and lots of other places we would never consider to be “at war.”

The Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, and the media will never declare a victory for their own separate reasons. That doesn’t mean it’s not true.

It’s time to celebrate another victory for American arms, and the defeat of a large number of very very bad people. Zombie arbitrarily chose November 22 to be Victory in Iraq Day.

Go read the whole thing. Really.

No More Senator Stevens

Contrary to my dad’s assertion that he could get re-elected from a jail cell, Senator Ted Stevens, by a very close margin, has apparently lost the election.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

A lot of Republican pundits have said they wished he had been re-elected so he could resign and allow Governor Palin to appoint a Republican successor, but unlike most states Alaska law calls for a special election within 90 days; a legacy of Alaskans being pissed off at then-Governor Murkowski appointing his daughter Lisa to his vacated Senate seat on his election to the governorship.

Full disclosure: Senator-elect Mark Begich was a friend of several friends of mine back in high school, although we only met once or twice at most. Also, Ted Stevens was my dad’s attorney back the the ’60s before Stevens entered politics. (Thus I am two degrees of separation from pretty much everybody elected to national office since 1972, which degree of separation will continue.)

About That Palin Backstabbing… [Followup]

An article on MediaBistro says that the Eisenstadt hoaxers merely took credit for being Cameron’s source for the “Africa is a country” rumor on Fox News, and I’m mature enough to admit that my previous post was incorrect.

But that still doesn’t absolve Fox from giving credence to what is clearly intra-Republican backstabbing and vicious rumor-mongering. If Palin was really that stupid, you’d think that “anonymous McCain aides” would come forward and testify openly so as to prevent her from ever running for anything again. The fact that they haven’t done so, and that plenty of other people — friends and enemies — who know her from more than a couple of bad interviews (namely, the voters and politicians of Alaska) say that she’s plenty smart*, suggests to me that this is, as I said, merely a vicious rumor.

Anonymous sourcing is a first-class ticket to the sort of weasel politics we all should righteously despise, but nevertheless supposedly reputable institutions like the NYT or the Washington Post use it all too frequently against their political enemies. Shame on Fox for succumbing to the same racket.

Since I’ve made an issue of this story, I’m going to keep following it in case the identity of the anonymous source turns up.

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