Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The state of the Media

'I don't read newspapers very often. Yesterday morning, I was sitting in our family room, having coffee with my wife* and was reading the San Diego Union. The news story on the front page had something to do with some government budgetary issue. The piece was written like it was a sporting event. There were a few facts and then there were reactions from Democrats and Republicans as if their contests were what mattered. Nowhere in the story did it talk about what the reader was going to face as a consequence of the decisions being made by the government. We had as much to do with what was going on as fans at a football game.'

http://ktcatspost.blogspot.com/2009/12/on-newspapers-and-spectator-sports.html

If recollection serves, and it may not too precisely because this is twenty five years ago now, the Huntsville Times lead article was very commonly a snooze-a-thon like the lead mentioned above. And the other local and regional newspapers I read in my travels around the US were broadly similar. Boring boring boring! Which doesn't make sense in a number of ways.

So what should newspapers be doing? In my view, their tasks are to report interesting stories accurately, and to report boring stories in a way that is both accurate and as interesting as the material allows. The primary job of gathering news has to be followed by an editorial process of digesting facts, putting them into context, and prioritising the reporting of the final mix of facts and analysis so you put out the most important information first.

As K T Cat points out in this post, reporting facts without contextualisation is both ineffectual and alienating. If the city council vote a five percent increase in the parks and recreation budget, what if anything does that effect? Do they do it every year? Is that increase at the expense of say, the Arts? Is it more or less than the increase other departments are getting? Does it put pressure on the overall budget?

Without context, many facts are dull and for most purposes meaningless. If you see the headline 'Parks and Recreation Budget incresed by 5%', would that make you want to read the article? If you see the headline '5% Parks budget increase makes local tax increase probable', are you more likely to want to read the article? Hell yeah.

But this takes us to a political philosophy question. If you have a political program that is highly disliked by voters, and which depends for its successful implementation on corrupt backroom deals, perhaps even the machinations of a political 'machine', what is the best way to stop voters from 'intruding' into the process? Make sure that reporting of government activities is opaque, alienating, atomised and boring.

Not long ago I read about the catastrophically badly run San Francisco city government on a blog. The blogger has been frantically trying to get San Franciscans alerted to the situation for decades, but to pretty much no effect. One of the main reasons for the ineffectual campaigning is that the San Francisco Chronicle and the local TV affiliates are all run by Democrats who support the political agenda of the highly corrupt, politically-correct local Democrat machine. The presentation of city issues in the press is constantly manipulated to make sure that voters don't intrude into this carnival of corruption and incompetence.

But as the common phrase goes, 'the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money'. Both San Francisco and more broadly California have done exactly that. And how is that being reported?

So, going back to our original point about newspaper reporting, it is entirely possible to report local issues correctly and interestingly. But you have to want to. You have to be happy for voters to be fully engaged, and to have their political priorities and goals implemented.

'By the way, here are a few facts for you. The Federal deficit will be higher in 2010 than it was in 2009 - about $1.5T. The Chinese have less of a surplus this year than they did last year and have already told us that their purchases of Treasuries will slow down. Last year, the Treasury auctions were greased by the Fed printing $1.1T of money backed by absolutely nothing that was then used to buy $300B of Treasuries and lots of other government debt besides. Mr. Reporter probably doesn't know this or know what it means.'

This is another issue. What if the reporter is not educated enough to contextualise what he/she is reporting? This to me is a hiring policy issue. There are vast numbers of business and public policy graduates coming out of US universities every year, some of whom could be persuaded to become reporters and/or public policy editors. They would require paying well, but the vastly improved quality of the reporting would justify it.

So, broadly speaking, I would say that the financial black hole into which many US newspapers are falling is not just the result of one technology becoming obsolete and being replaced by another technology. It is also result of the concerted effort over many years to overtly and covertly impose an unpopular ideology on an increasingly resentful populace. And when efforts to persuade the voters failed, to hide both the actual policies being pursued; and their consequences, whether social, fiscal or moral.

This subterfuge has brought upon the legacy media organisations a tsunami of disaffection, from which many will never recover. Whether the blogs and online media organisations currently seeking to replace them will hold themselves to higher standards remains to be seen, and not all the evidence so far is hopeful. After all, the antidote to liberal propaganda is not Republican propaganda. It is properly- educated journalists working in a properly organised environment, where editorial checks and balances genuinely militate towards well-presented well-sourced coherent stories. The US did have many newspapers and journalists like that, long ago.

But will it in the future?

I guess it must not be very difficult to get a job at Emory University...

Alan Abramowitz, professor of political science at Emory University, said:

'No, the attack was thwarted due to a combination of incompetence on the part of the terrorist(s) and a heroic response by passengers. Napolitano's statement is preposterous. But the criticisms of the Obama Administration for failing to take action based on the warnings of the attacker's father about his son's radicalization are ridiculous. The government cannot be expected to take action against everyone it receives some vague warning about. Nor should it. The basic problem here was the failure to detect the explosives that were evidently hidden on the attacker. However, the actions being taken now--such as making passengers stay seated during the final hour of international flights--are ridiculous. So is the hysteria and 24/7 news coverage that this incident is receiving. This was not a major al Qaeda operation. Let's not blow its significance out of proportion.'

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/73715-the-big-question-did-the-system-work?page=2#comments

1. 'But the criticisms of the Obama Administration for failing to take action based on the warnings of the attacker's father about his son's radicalization are ridiculous.'

Question: if this information had been submitted to Mossad, do you think this Nigerian would have got on an El-Al flight any time in the next 1,000 years?

2. 'The government cannot be expected to take action against everyone it receives some vague warning about. Nor should it.'

Question: Was the warning about this Nigerian provided by his father vague, or completely specific? Vague would be 'My son has been acting strangely lately, perhaps something happened to him at his Uni in London'. Specific would be, well, exactly what the father did tell the US embassy.

3. 'The basic problem here was the failure to detect the explosives that were evidently hidden on the attacker.'

Question: How many airports round the world have PETN sniffer machines, and are actively using them?

Answer: Nineteen, and None

4. 'the actions being taken now--such as making passengers stay seated during the final hour of international flights--are ridiculous. So is the hysteria and 24/7 news coverage that this incident is receiving. This was not a major al Qaeda operation. Let's not blow its significance out of proportion.'

Question: If the potential deaths of two hundred and twenty three people is not significant, how many would be?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Big simple truths that don't go away

'The story of how this all came to pass is the story of my 2007 book. This country is "the only nation in the western world where the conservative party consistently wins the vote of the workingman," I wrote then. And we are living one explanation.'
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/12/22/obama_and_the_invisible_workingman__99636.html

Working class Americans understand the link between wealth and who creates their jobs. The truth which has been expunged by communism in most of the rest of the industrialised world (apart from Korea and Japan). They don't consider rich men and women their class enemies- they see them as great Americans. It takes a particular kind of myopia to not see this simple truth, and when forced to do so find it shocking.

As Glenn Beck oft repeats "I've never worked for a poor man yet". Interesting though many of the stats are in this article, the one I would like to see is this: in comparison to America, what is the employment rate of poor men in the rest of the industrialised world? And if they sent all the illegal mexicans home, just how brilliant would the US be for a poor man looking for a job?

http://www.pjtv.com/v/2876

I already linked to this video, but if you haven't watched it, watch it. The heavily unionised North Eastern states of the US have been vastly out-paced industrially by the much less unionised south and south west US. What people like David Paul Kuhn don't seem to get is that it is not some unfortunate occasional outlier result of Democrat policies that the North Eastern US is now a rusting dismal wasteland. It is a direct and predictable result of Democrat policies. According to my wife, even her part of the old-industry Soviet Union never got as bad as Detroit looks now. And certainly the murder rate wasn't that awful.

There are constant echoes in what I read and hear of the 'Atlas Shrugged' world. For people like me who held out America as the last best hope for capitalism and unfettered trade, these are very dismal times. Unfortunately, by the time the 'progressives' and 'liberals' figure out what they have achieved, it will be far too late to fix things.

The US Senate health care bill is about to be passed. The US is on the cusp of losing its inherent strengths, joining the vastly weakened, death-spiral europeans in statist hell. You call that progress?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stuck on stupid

'Policy has certainly not moved as fast or as far as many of us would like. But perhaps because I never shared the political fantasies about Obama in the first place, I don't feel let down, and I don't think other liberals should. No president was about to turn the country around on a dime -- the structure of our government doesn't allow it. And anyone who paid attention to what Obama said as a candidate about specific matters of policy would have realized he wasn't the lefty some imagined and others feared.'

http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=obama_year_one

I've just spent a harrowing half-hour reading the drivel on American Prospect. Harrowing because it is difficult to stomach article after article where virtually everything said is factually inaccurate, contradictory or debunked by actual world events.

Take for instance this article, telling 'progressives' (can there be a less accurate name for a group of people than this?) not to be downhearted about Obama, and that he has done as much as he can in the face of the vile inhuman reactionaries.

Try a little thought experiment. Think for a moment about the widely stated goals of 'progressives': vast trade union power; government running all important institutions; all the power and money in the hands of the lumpen proletariat; the destruction of the US constitution and replaced with some leftist politically correct version; the destruction by whatever means of the evil groups in society like Christians, people who own or run businesses, anyone who doesn't support abortion on demand etc. who are 'against people'; signing the US up to all the big internationalist organisations and limiting treaties; and the reduction of the US armed forces to a thousand guys with wooden sticks.

Lets imagine that the Fairy Godmother gave them all these things tomorrow. Would America be nirvana? Would it be the most 'progressful' place on the planet? Or would it be like North Korea, Cambodia, China, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany when they all had the joy of being run by 'progressives'?

No, you're right, I'm sure it would be different this time. After all, the great hallmark of 'progressives' is the complete and absolute inability to learn anything from history.

UPDATE - http://www.pjtv.com/v/2876 Perfectly illustrates what I said.

The Anglican Church- not fit for purpose

'Shoplift advice sermon priest criticised


A priest who advised needy people to shoplift in certain circumstances has been criticised by a retailers' group.

Father Tim Jones, parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, said stealing was a "better moral thing to do" than robbery or prostitution.'

'Father Jones said some people had little option but to turn to crime.'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/8426205.stm

Yes, it falls to retailers' group's now to correct idiot priests who don't even believe the Ten Commandments any more.

That is because the stupendous moron at the head of the Anglican church has much more important things to do, like handing over large chunks of his communion to the Catholics and tell us how we should learn to love Sharia law. Nothing as dull and plodding as those tatty 'Ten Commandments'.

Tim Jones, you incredible shit-for-brains, you might have noticed that in Britain we have this vast, all-encompassing welfare state. There is NO EXCUSE for anybody to turn to prostitution, robbery or stealing. They can just sit home and watch the money roll in. Unless they have a pressing need for large amounts of cash- say to fund some kind of addiction, dependency or other perversion, that is.

The Anglican Church disgusts me. When you can't even hold the line on the Ten Commandments you ought to be disbanded, have your assets sold off to REAL churches, and consigned to the dustbin of history.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How about doing your job properly?

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the White House, are a group of people who plan Obamas schedule. I don't KNOW this, but I assume it's true. And they seem to have an unfortunate tic.

This is to parachute their guy in for a few hours to very very important things, and then pop him right back out again. I think they think this telegraphs to people just how important and busy Barack Obama is.

Take this Climate shindig in Copenhagen. Tens of thousands of people have been there for many days, meeting and discussing and caucusing. And Barry shows up for the last day and a half. And signs a deal with five countries. Out of 193 that showed up. Presumably pissing off the other 188.

I do a little bit of 'putting stuff together' in my head. So lets see- this is the guy who handed off health care to the Pelosi/Reid axis, has been on more TV chat shows than I've had hot dinners, has not kept track of the stimulus money going out, who has spent more time playing golf in a year than W. did in four, who seems to have two days free to fly to Copenhagen to puff Chicago for the Olympics- but who doesn't have time to attend the whole Climate Change shindig. And his 'handlers' presumably want us to think that it's because he is just soooooooo overworked?

Is Barack Obama the laziest president the US has ever had? Or are his 'handlers' trying to sell us a vision of Obama as the lone cowboy in the White Hat who always rides in at the last moment to save everyone/thing?

All Quiet on the World Disaster Front

'UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a US-backed climate deal in Copenhagen as an "essential beginning".'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8422133.stm

Huh? I thought the Kyoto 'Treaty' was the essential beginning? My antennae have been buzzing away since I noticed that within about an hour of the Copenhagen summit finishing, it wasn't the top story on the BBC website any more. That says to me pretty loudly that the result was an unmitigated disaster for the fanatical Warmmongers.

Whoever leaked those perfectly chosen emails, programs and files from CRU did so at the absolute perfect moment. For US, UK, EU and Chinese government ministers who needed a figleaf to blow up the Copenhagen summit, ClimateGate arrived like a beautifully timed chariot from heaven. 'You know, we would loooooooooovvveeeeee to sign up to your two trillion a year transfer-payment dealio, industry-destroying carbon taxes and limits, and world government extravaganza, but well, this thing with the emails indicates that the science needs another look-see. Can we take a rain-check?'

I bet you dollars to donuts (or indeed any other high-fat, high-carb, high-sugar snackable item) that no serious player ever signs up to these stupid carbon dioxide limits. It is not a couple of GDP percentage points at stake, it is the whole of our currently configured industrial societies. No sane politician is going to preside over a disaster on that scale. Not even the ham-fisted, amateur-night Obama White House.

You see, it is going to go very quiet now for a while...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What grade would I give Obama?

Famously, Barack Obama has given himself a B+ for his first year in office. Which probably tells you more about grade inflation in American academia than it does presidential performance, but we're getting ahead of ourselves...

What grade would I give Obama? A 'C'.

Obama has not been as bad in many ways as I thought he would. As far as his national security policy, most of what he has done is identical, if not slightly more robust than George W Bush. Drone attacks on Al Qaeda in Pakistan have actually increased under Obama. Rendition is still in place. Gitmo is still open. The Homeland Security department protocols have not been weakened. Thirty thousand new troops are going to Afghanistan. Despite first appearances, the concession about anti-missile missiles in Poland and Czech republic are actually small ones, and the same missiles will in all probability end up on ships rather than land.

Most of the cosying up to dictatorships and criminal states has been trivial and cosmetic, and although ill-advised leaves no long term disbenefits. And in at least the cases of Honduras and Iran, stupid initial policies have been quietly reversed to coincide with what Bush would have done/actually did in the same circumstances. In particular, US recognition of the results of the Honduran elections coming up shortly is a kick in the face for the Bolivarian gang led by Hugo Chavez. Chavez has already changed his tune about Obama, unsurprisingly.

Cap and Trade has stalled in the Senate, probably forever. Health care ditto. Nothing has been attempted regarding an amnesty for illegal immigrants. So on many of the big issues, so far Obama has done no harm.

The bailouts were basically a Bush policy, continued (ill-advisedly in my view) by Obama. So was the Stimulus, sadly.

So overall, I'd have to say that a grade of 'C' would be warranted. Nothing great, but nothing disastrous. Had Cap and Trade and socialised medicine passed successfully through congress, that grade would have changed radically. Both pieces of legislation would have marked a serious deterioration in American public policy. But they didn't, so they don't.

It seems that the system devised by the founding fathers and established by the constitution is capable of heading off many of the worst stupidities of any generations 'brilliant minds'. Thank the Lord!

Get with the program, people

'In fact, this process has been so bad, the products it has produced so defective, and the potential ramifications so destructive that, if the president signs health-care legislation into law, he will — with the stroke of his pen — provide Republicans with a golden opportunity to return to power.'
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/wehner/198431

It is salutary on occasion to note that human inclinations are not partisan-based.

Most of the legacy media are still talking about anthropogenic global warming as an unchallenged fact waaaaaaaaaay after that position is untenable.

And here we have Peter Wehner stating as if it were as natural as the sun coming up in the morning that a failure for the Democrats leads to success for the Republicans. Only two days ago, in what pollsters call a generic ballot, Tea Party candidates polled higher than Republicans. Consistently for the last four or five months, millions of disgruntled ex-Republicans have been looking to the Tea Party for the representation of their interests. Nowhere is it written in stone that a failing party gets an eternal lease of life.

For older folk who have never known a world that wasn't divided into Democrat and Republican, perhaps it will take longer for them to adjust to a changed reality.

All I can say is, it makes you look a teeny weeny bit dumb.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The dream is alive

'We want the services. We're willing to pay for them, if they lead to good results. Yet whether our gargantuan investment is paying off is a question no one has an answer to. Hardly anyone even bothers to check. As far as much of the city is concerned, ignorance is bliss.'

http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-u-s/2

Wouldn't it be great if there were some mechanism for informing people of things like large-scale government waste and mismanagement? Say, a daily or weekly bulletin or newssheet which detailed stories like this which were then distributed by electronic or paper means to the population at large?

We can only dream.

Richard Black: Honorary Girl

'Why are virtually all climate "sceptics" men?'

'...Opinion poll evidence provides some clues. A recent survey across the EU found roughly equal levels of scepticism between the genders.'

'Conservation scientists, fox-hunters and their opponents, marine biologists, climate policy wonks, journalists, environmental economists, foresters... in all of these fields, gender equality pertains to a far, far greater degree than among climate sceptics.

If a rigorous deconstruction of flawed and politically-motivated science is at the bottom of climate scepticism, why aren't women getting it?'

'I'm out of ideas. What do you think it all means?'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/12/cop15_questions_about_sex.html

Richard, can I suggest that next time you sit down to write, you use your last line first? And then stop writing?

Or you could just try 'Climate sceptics are stupid old farts in tweed jackets, who smell of mothballs and still live with their mums. They never get any sex, and all the people who are young and cool like me laugh at them.'

It is at least as scientific as your actual burblings, and has the merit of honesty, which your burblings do not.

Science is useful for its predictive power, among other things. And there are consequences in science too- if your hypothesis predicts something, and then the tests you employ to validate it don't, your hypothesis falls. In punditry, you can be wrong forever, and there is no price to pay. If global warming caused by mankind turns out to be bollocks, what will happen to Richard Black and his bitchy sneering?

Absolutely nothing. He will go on to the next target for his irrational ad hominems without a tremor.

It doesn't matter how many people believe anthropogenic warming is true. If it isn't true, it still won't be true. Group affirmations will not make it so. Sneerily bitching at the people who called it correctly will not make it so.

But it does tell you where a lot of the global warmmongers are psychologically. The true believers are already at the point of casting non-believers as stupid, evil, insane and/or corrupt. Can't be too long before the first lynching.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Priceless Parody



Little Green Footballs used to be a blog of note, but has now become the laughing stock of the web. For all those who have suffered from Charles Johnsons weird combination of smugness, bitter vitriol and pomposity, this is just a priceless parody!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crap Debate

A few notes about the whole A.G.W. debate.

People skip back and forth lightly between the following relatively indiscriminately, I've found:

- the earth is getting warmer/is not getting warmer
- the earth is getting warmer, and it's our fault/not our fault
- the earth is getting warmer, it's our fault, and it's a catastrophe/it's not a catastrophe
- the earth is getting warmer, it's our fault, it's a catastrophe, and we must change the whole of our civilisation to fix it/we don't need to change anything

For instance, if you are having trouble persuading people in the middle of a recession to spend trillions on your plans for tackling 'global warming', don't bother with the last proposition- focus on how sceptics won't accept the first proposition. Make a big hoo-ha about corrupt big-businesses interfering with the science. It's just easier!

One thing which has taken a beating in this whole 'debate' is the idea that our 'advanced' societies can actually engage in a decent debate...

Who is really propagandising?

'Don't be fooled about climate science. In April, 1994 -- long after scientists had clearly demonstrated the addictive quality and devastating health impacts of cigarette smoking -- seven chief executives of major tobacco companies denied the evidence, swearing under oath that nicotine was not addictive.

Now, the American public is again being subjected to those kinds of denials, this time about global climate change.'

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/09/AR2009120903860.html

I read this whole piece, and I wish I hadn't wasted my life doing so.

What was the fundamental fact about the attempt by big tobacco to prevent knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking on the human body? It didn't work. Despite billions of dollars and pounds at their disposal, the big tobacco companies were fighting a losing battle.

A much more cogent comparison than the one between big tobacco and the global warming sceptics is between big tobacco and the global warmmongers. The latter are a nexus of big government and big science; these have joined forces with the lefties of the United Nations and the lefties in the news media to wall off every contrary voice. Everywhere you turn, it is stated as irrefutable fact that man is causing abnormal warming to the climate of earth, and that that abnormal warming is a complete disaster. That collection of highly contentious assertions is just as dubious as saying that despite a deluge of anecdotal evidence linking smoking to lung cancer/emphysema/throat cancer etc. there is in fact no causal link.

It is a well-known psychological ploy in sport to claim to be the underdog. Teams have been known to hassle over who is going into the crunch match as underdog for weeks beforehand. Why? Because you get the sympathy of the public. George Monbiot is wielding the alleged astroturfing of anthropogenic global warming scepticism to posit a vast powerful array of well-funded enemies against poor embattled climate scientists in their little under-funded labs. The trouble is, increasingly fewer people believe it.

Back in the 1970's when I was a kid, many people already knew that smoking killed people on a regular basis. Certainly all the people at my church did. What is happening now, in 2009, is that an increasing number of people don't believe what they are being told about who is causing global warming, and what should be done about it. Given the almost complete absence of anti-global warming propaganda, what is going on?

Two things, I believe: the claim that human beings are changing the climate of the whole planet is prima facie hubristic and implausible. And second, people have noted the perfect alignment between what environmentalists say has to be done to 'save the planet from human-caused global warming', and what communists said throughout the twentieth century had to be done to 'save the proletariat from evil capitalism'.

Who would think that was just a coincidence? Apparently George Monbiot. And the people who read the Guardian. And the people at the East Anglia University CRU. But most of the rest of us, not so much.

All I can say is, as long as real climate scientists keep doing real science to find out what is really going on, before too much longer no more mud will need slinging. Because when human beings really set themselves to a task like that, it is silly to bet against them finding out the real facts. And I haven't checked the bookies yet, but I think a good bet would be that man-made global warming is tiny, inconsequential and not worth a tinkers cuss.

Unlike many real environmental disasters looming which we should be spending our time and money and energy doing something about like: deforestation. Massive bio-diversity loss. Over-fishing. Extremely poor land-use in semi-arid areas of the world. To just name a few. Here's a suggestion. Let's do something about those, and deal with global warming/global cooling/giant meteorite/mega-tsunami/meg-volcano when it actually happens.

[Re-edit due to FUBAR]

Hilarious equivocation

'I am thoroughly unimpressed with the belief that global warming scientists have been engaging in some kind of massive conspiracy to conceal the truth. First, because we seem to be able to observe things like polar ice sheets melting, which point to warming. And second, because, well, why the hell would they?'

'...There are other issues: selection bias in the grant process, papers with large results being much more likely to be published than papers with equivocal results, professors preferring students who agree with them, and so forth. I doubt that could amount to faking the entire thing. But it could amplify the magnitude.'

'More than one blog is saying this proves that some of the data was falsified. I think that's too strong. But it does look like maybe they got a little too aggressive massaging it.

Is this an anomaly? I hope it is, and think it probably is. But I worry that it isn't.'

http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/12/climategate_was_data_faked.php

So, what is it? Thoroughly unimpressed with the silly sceptics, or becoming a silly sceptic yourself?

I think of this as the Monbiot eqivocation. Deep in his heart, George Monbiot is too honest and ethical to deny what the evidence is telling him, but he has spent so many years spieling the gospel that he can't completely break away from it. Listen to your heart, George! Listen to your heart, Megan! Go towards the light!

That's your money



God has sent a message to the people of the free world, via a sign. That great big spiral thingy over Norway- that's your money going down a giant drain. There is still time to put a plug in it...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

If not the smoking gun, it's definitely a clue

'The second question, the integrity of the data, is different. People say “Yes, they destroyed emails, and hid from Freedom of information Acts, and messed with proxies, and fought to keep other scientists’ papers out of the journals … but that doesn’t affect the data, the data is still good.” Which sounds reasonable.'

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/

See the actual data before your eyes! Touch it! Taste it! See what the bastards did to defile it!

Its not brain surgery to figure out why

'QUICK, HIDE THE DECLINE! Obama At New Low In Quinnipiac Survey, Underwater on Key Issues. “The downward decline has picked up speed, too. It may be hard to recall this, but just six- months ago, Obama had a 59% approval rating, with only 31% disapproving. Two months ago, he still had a 50/41 split. It’s worse among independents, though. . . . The combination of results from various pollsters shows that Obama has entered a free-fall on his approval ratings. Robert Gibbs can blame Gallup all he wants, but these results vindicate Gallup and show that his boss has a real problem. People have begun to realize that this emperor wears no clothes.”'

http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/89739/

The amazing thing is, the one big warning balloon that was sent up by the Obama campaign during his run-in to election was that in his first year(s) as president, dastardly foreigners would 'test' his resolve. At the time I found these prognostications faintly rediculous, like something out a James Bond film. But absolutely nothing has happened.

Can you imagine if something big had occured during the last eleven months? Obama has done a terrible job and stunk the place up just trying to implement his agenda during a time of virtually no stress. Iraq is already won. Afghanistan needs work, but is definitely not an Iraq-scale problem. TARP was created and passed under Bush not Obama. He has had virtually nothing to do except implement his own policies- and yet look how he has fared!

He has paid absolutely no attention to the political fundamentals- don't spend zillions of dollars on boondoggles and vast government expansion when people are hard up and pretty much everybody knows at least one person who has been made unemployed. Don't go on world tours kissing the arses of communists, criminal gang leaders and terrorist-enablers. Don't piss on the heads of Americas traditional allies. Don't blame the last president for everything up to and including acts of God. Don't whine constantly about how badly you are treated by ONE TV station.

The man is a prat. Really.

The special relationship is just fine, so relax

'Given the level of sacrifice by British troops, it was the most extraordinary and insulting oversight.
Had this been a one-off omission, it might have been overlooked as a careless mistake by a president preoccupied with trying to sell a difficult message to his own people. But it wasn't.
In all the speeches Obama has made since becoming President - indeed, in all the speeches he made when on the campaign trail, too - neither Britain nor the special relationship have merited a single mention.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1234291/NILE-GARDINER-Does-Obama-Britain.html

Obama sent back the bust of Churchill. In terms of symbolic gestures, that told me a great deal.

But I don't see anything much to get bent out of shape over. The special relationship isn't between Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, or between the US president and the British prime minister- it is between the American people and the British people. So who cares what Obama thinks of us? I certainly don't. Especially Americans in their armed forces know what a sterling contribution Britain has made to the wars against wahhabist islamism and Saddam Hussein. I value that vastly more than the opinion of one juvenile and incompetent chief executive.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

islam a sham

"We have become the bogeyman of the world," said Amir Arain, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Nashville, the city's oldest mosque, founded in 1979. "Fringe fundamentalists they are talking about, that they think defines Islam, is only 1 to 2 percent, and we do agree that there is a problem. It's a very small quantity or small group of the whole Muslim ummah, or nation, that has somehow hijacked our faith.''
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091206/NEWS06/912060340/Is+Islam+a+threat+to+America?

Well spotted, Amir!

It is just weird how people react to being bombed, having their heads hacked off and threatened constantly!

Just a small selection of countries which have been attacked unprovoked by muslims so far: United States, The Netherlands, Thailand, The Phillipines, Australia, Canada, France, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Nigeria, Argentina, Germany, pretty much every country in the Maghreb, India, China, Russia.

Trains blown up, cafes blown up, University cafeterias blown up, restaurants blown up, underground trains blown up, journalists heads hacked off, truck drivers heads hacked off, doctors and nurses shot, teachers shot, whole villages murdered en masse, schoolgirls heads hacked off, schools burned down, cars driven into college students, markets bombed over and over again, whole downtown areas turned into shooting galleries, planes flown into buildings full of businesspeople.

But yes, muslims are the victims. Absolutely.

For me, there are two points. Islam itself should not be called a religion- it barely passes muster as a morally defective cult. It is based on a really unpleasant, morally repugnant man. Most of the peoples who have become muslims had to because the alternative was societal exclusion, onerous taxation or death.

Second point, if any other religion had 'shock troops' throughout the world, murdering, threatening, plotting and spreading sedition, do you think it would get the unbelievable amount of slack that islame gets? We seem to have a special dispensation for murderous sham religions...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Global Staying-the-same Frenzy Starts

'For the “low comedy” part, return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when Time Magazine was predicting catastrophic global cooling. And Newsweek, too. It’s hilarious how easy it is to substitute “warning” for “cooling” and have an article that could have been written last week.'

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1503

Ok, I'm officially starting the new global climate scare- the temperature is going to stay the same over the next hundred years!

We had global cooling, we had global warming, now we have the terror of 'staying-the-same'!!!!??!! Run for the hills! We'll all be killed in our beds!!! AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh! Etc.

Excellent piece on A.G.W.

Excellent, sober, considered article about A.G.W.

I know, I didn't think such a thing existed either!

'The main statement publicized after the last IPCC Scientific Assessment two years ago was that it was likely that most of the warming since 1957 (a point of anomalous cold) was due to man. This claim was based on the weak argument that the current models used by the IPCC couldn't reproduce the warming from about 1978 to 1998 without some forcing, and that the only forcing that they could think of was man. Even this argument assumes that these models adequately deal with natural internal variability—that is, such naturally occurring cycles as El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, etc.

Yet articles from major modeling centers acknowledged that the failure of these models to anticipate the absence of warming for the past dozen years was due to the failure of these models to account for this natural internal variability. Thus even the basis for the weak IPCC argument for anthropogenic climate change was shown to be false.'

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574567423917025400.html

Commies lie, because there is no truth in communism. There is only persuasion to gain power. Useful to remember that.

Communism by other means



'Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions.... And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must not suffer more than their richer partners.'

Quote from the Guardian,
http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2009/12/56-newspapers-to-sing-as-one-about.html

If that sounds like communism rather than environmentalism, you would be entirely correct. I am now firmly convinced that that is what underlies what is going on at Copenhagen- not some kind of settled climatic science.

Google try to suppress information about ClimateGate



Compare that auto-suggest with Climate Pr- a likely search for climate protest:




Do you get the impression Google don't want you to find out about ClimateGate? Check out the rest of the story at the links:

http://uk.asiancorrespondent.com/rwdb-jfbeck/googlegate.htm

http://uk.asiancorrespondent.com/rwdb-jfbeck/can-google-be-trusted-to-do-no-evil.htm

[HatTip: Instapundit]

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Precise lies or imprecise truths?

'Precision in language is an expression of accuracy in thought — or, as Orwell put it, “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts.”'

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NjVhMmZmMmRjNjJiZmQ1ZTJkNmIwMzFkZTg5MDUxNTU=&w=MA==

Excellent article, although I had a few quibbles with minor points.

Reading it led on to these thoughts. I leave it up to you whether they pertain to imprecision, or precision! From almost the word go, Mark Steyn noted that Barack Obama was not offering 'Hope and Change', but the same exausted and compromised socialist/big state policies that had been tried across much of the world in the twentieth century. Socialism may be new in America, and to many Americans, especially the young. But most of the ideas incorporated in socialism at least a hundred and fifty years old, and some much older than that.

Virtually the whole Democrat establishment, including large swathes of the old media, cooperated in maintaining the 'Hope and Change' illusions. It was not just the complete absence of tough questions about Obamas policy positions, character or suitability for the most important job in the world. More importantly, it was the uniform presentation of Obama as a Jesus/Buddha figure, above and beyond trivial partisanship, political bickering and the norms of a run for president. This presentation allowed Obama virtually a free run into power. Never has an American president been elected with so little scrutiny.

What did Americans think underlay 'Hope and Change'? What did they think there was hope of? What would change in America? Among the myriad things people imagined, how many imagined what has actually happened? Some intellectual lefties, I imagine, but what percentage of the 68 million people who voted for Obama? A vanishingly small one, I believe.

The terrorising aspect of this process to me was not that Obama came to power promising to solve problems he knew he couldn't, or to take responsibility for things that are outside the powers of even an American president. Those are the normal lies, the normal stock in trade of men and women who want the worlds top job. What is terrifying is that he came to power by promising a completely different set of policies and actions and behaviours to the one he intended to perform while in office. It was a completely and wholly false prospectus.

Looming very large in his speeches Obama promised bipartisanship and healing of the partisan devide- a concern for large parts of the electorate. He constantly promised to look forward and not back. For many millions of non-partisan centrist voters, that was his primary selling point. After the extreme partisanship of the second Clinton term and the second George W Bush term, what they wanted was someone who would truly lead America, not lead Democrats at the expense of Republicans or vice versa. Someone who would take the best ideas from the left and the right and combine them in a way largely acceptable to all. It is a compelling dream. And that is what Obama proffered.

What he knew he was going to do was follow an extremely partisan program which no Republican, not even the most 'moderate' RINO Republican would ever consider helping with. He was going to enact a far-left program which no modestly intelligent, informed non-partisan centrist voter would ever vote for. Not only that, but he was going to constantly insult, provoke, belittle, misrepresent and browbeat his political opponents. Ex-President Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, current Republican congressmen and women, Tea Partiers, Town Hall protesters, FOX news, right-wing talk show hosts and many others have all been subject to this treatment. I'm not talking about insults and provocation from Daily Kos, Code Pink and the lefty big-mouths- but specifically from the Barack Obama White House and the upper tier of the Democrat congress. If I were a moderate centrist non-partisan voter who specifically voted for Obama because I wanted the partisan devide healed, I would be livid.

Obama provided very few meaty policy commitments during his campaign- the core of it were the rather nebulous offerings: unite the country, heal the partisan wounds, treat other countries with respect, re-connect with our allies, maintain the rule of law, re-establish fiscal responsibility. Who could possibly object to that? Nobody. So sixty-eight million people voted for Obama, feeling very secure that this was the American president they wanted. And that warm, positive vibe was largely the work of thousands of American journalists purposely mis-using language to convey the image of Barack Obama as a conventional, mainstream, establishment figure. The idea that outside of a repressive tyrannical regime set up by a cynical oligarchy all the large media outlets would cooperate to promote a completely false prospectus and hide the true intentions and policies of a political candidate never crossed peoples minds.

Seen in that light, the plummeting stock prices of the big old TV networks and newspaper brands are not surprising. Once you discover that your sleepy local newspaper is actual peopled by amoral sharks, it is hard to maintain your loyalty to it. Ditto the network news channel your family have always turned to for sober reportage and analysis. Cf CNN's plummeting ratings. A huge question looms now in America- who can be trusted to tell people what is really going on?

It is a burning question- the 'new media lack' at least two of the necessary ingredients for getting out the news. They mostly don't have full time journalists to dredge up the raw material, and they don't have an established code of ethics. Some of the new media do hold themselves to high standards of evidence and straight reportage, but a huge number don't. So we find ourselves in a situation where large sections of the 'old media' are now the conscious propaganda arms for a particular ideology, and the 'new media' are not in a position to replace them competently.

While the 'old media' have one set of problems, for example their Stalinist monolithic commitment to left policy and personnel, and their tendancy to only employ the like-minded, the 'new media' have almost as grave ones. Many bloggers seem to think that they are doing journalism, when in fact they are simply commenting on news stories. Very few bloggers break new stories, and if they do, it is once a year, or less. Real news organisations have to do that dozens of times a week to justify their existence. Many bloggers are only interested in a very small slice of life- islamist misbehaviour, partisan behaviour or the Obama White House. Real news organisations have to cover the rest of life too, or fail in their overall responsibilities.

What we need is a new 'new media' prepared to take the job seriously- with all the cost, work and effort that that will entail. And a commitment to the founding principles of all proper journalism- objectivity, probity, up-front admission of any bias, and covering all the stories that need covering. As with the Obama election fiasco, it becomes quickly evident the risk that is being run if we don't have proper reporting.

Super-Bam

'By switching his visit from Dec. 9 to Dec. 18, Obama appears to be betting that his presence can - as he has expressed hope for several times in the past - push the negotiations "over the top" toward an agreement.'

http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2009/12/obama-changes-copenhagen-plans-invites-huge-failure-again.html

This reminds me of a scene from 'Friends' where Monica keeps switching on and off a switch in her apartment which doesn't seem to do anything. Meanwhile, next door, Pheobe is proudly showing Joey her amazing talent of turning on and off the TV simply by blinking, a bit like Barbara Eden in 'I dream of Jeannie'. Obama seems to have started believing his own hype- he can walk on water! He can leap buildings at a single bound! He can make China, India and Russia sign binding agreements to cap carbon emissions!

Friday, December 04, 2009

African Democracy at work

Shock swing to opposition in Equatorial Guinea!

'President Teodor Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea has been re-elected with 95% of the votes cast in last month's election, official results say...

President Obiang first seized power from his uncle in 1979. He gained 97% of the vote in the previous election, in 2002.'

My God, in another eight thousand years, someone else might win an election!!

A few more thoughts about US Healthcare

There has been a weird dislocation in the debate between at least four important groups of people- health care public policy experts, pundits, Congresscritters and the general public. In Britain we have many public policy working groups and think-tanks which analyze private sector industries and organisations, and public sector ones too. These public policy wonks would be very high profile if it was a British healthcare debate. I have seen and read virtually nothing of their US counterparts during the whole duration of the debate. Where the hell are they? Can they not get on FOX? Do they not bother with the blogosphere at all? The depth and breadth of the debate in the US has, to my eyes, suffered significantly because of their absence from the high profile debating forums.

It has also meant that the great big facts about US healthcare often get no mention- US healthcare is NOT in 'crisis'. It is expensive, but the best in the world overall. Many aspects of the legislation controlling US healthcare are accidents of history, and are in no sense either logical or essential. This is especially true of the legislation governing the sale of health insurance.

Another downside is I have not heard or seen any comparative studies of US health care and health care provision in other countries. Occasionally, people on FOX news or on popular blogs will bring up anecdotal cases from the Canadian or British socialised medical systems, but that is hardly the same thing. Where are the side-by-sides showing the significant stats for longevity, cancer outcomes, major disease survival rates, infant mortality and all the other relevant measures of success of a health care system, adjusted for population size? Haven't seen something like that once. Where is the properly-reasoned fact-based discussion of the relative merits of a system funded by insurance receipts and one funded out of general taxation, or indeed personal health savings accounts?

The US healthcare debate has been dominated by Democrats lying about their ultimate objectives, about costs and about future provisions on the one hand; and Republicans defending the status quo from some pavlovian reflex, and lying about what the current system is like (for instance, blipping over the fact that Medicare is a government-run program).

Because of the scarcity of real information, much of the 'debate' has been the constant repetition of slogans and catchphrases. Fun though it is, it is not really a substitute for actual debate. But amazingly, if it had been up to Obama, Reid and Pelosi, even this sad excuse for a debate would not have happened- Obama wanted this legislation passed before the summer congressional recess in early August. Maybe that is why the whole way along, the debate itself never really got started.

The public got involved in the 'debate', but never really got their hands on meaty substantial information processed enough to be comprehensible to someone of average intelligence. So they have fallen back on partisan certainties and focused largely on cost. It could have been SO much better.

Maybe in thirty years when they have the next healthcare debate, some of the normal things that should happen during extremely important public policy discussions actually will... but don't count on it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Funny and True

Couldn't agree more.

'Men, “Operation Feminist Movement” has worked, and more swiftly and completely than many of you thought possible. Mere decades ago, we spent endless hours and countless dollars before marriage courting and wooing; after marriage, we shouldered the entire financial burden for our families.

Now, after marriage, women can be expected to pay for half of everything, which is to the good, because video games are expensive. But, as more and more of you are discovering, why bother with marriage at all anymore? You can stay up all night, hang with your buds all the time, secure in the knowledge that on any given night you can be sure to find a willing woman, a woman who has likely been taught, conditioned even (by other women!) to expect nothing from you in return — and that this is a good thing.'

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/men-the-gender-wars-are-over-%E2%80%94-we-won/

This is essentially derived from a joke in 'Friends', but still worth the read. Thank you Matt!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

For Nationalism

'I. Nationalism as a Cause of Mass Murder and Repression. One big problem with nationalism is that it is a leading cause of mass murder.'
http://volokh.com/2009/12/01/against-nationalism/

Er, no it isn't. Just like the almost completely groundless canard that 'religion is the main cause of wars', the idea that nationalism is 'a leading cause of mass murder' is hard to justify from history.

Imperialism is a leading cause of mass murder. And any decent historian can tell you that one of the most consistent enemies of empires are nations. Over and over and over again through thousands of years of history, empires have broken up on the rocks of emergent or re-emergent nations. From the Jewish and Armenian revolts against Rome, to the Egyptian and Greek revolts against the Ottomans, to the Ghandian peaceful Indian revolt against the British empire, the leading cause of a collapsed empire is a nation reasserting its right to rule itself rather than be ruled by foreigners. By far the leading cause of war throughout history is the desire of some ambitious man or group of men to rule and dominate other peoples nations- to build an empire. Empire building has almost nothing to do with nationalism- that is a link invented by the Marxists, just like so much of the crap served up as learning these days.

Was the empire built by Napoleon an exercise in Nationalism, or a family enterprise created and run for the glory of the Bonaparte family, where brothers and cousins of Napoleon each got a country to run? The answer is clearly the latter.

Was the empire created by Hitler an exercise in German nationalism, or a cabal of determined and clever men who created from a ropey amalgam of German nationalism, pseudo-scientific tribal identity politics and marxist economics a bizarre but effective cover for their empire-building dreams? Yes, it was the latter.

Even the Soviet Union gradually converted from an attempt at communism to a cover for a resurgent Russian empire.

Ilya Somin needs to read more history.

'Fascism and Nazism were, of course, extreme forms of nationalism'

No they weren't. Fascism was an amalgam of half-remembered Roman history and marxist economics. Mussolini tried to emulate Roman empire-building but was a pathetic failure. Nazism we already covered.

'... the mass murders Nazi and fascist regimes committed were justified on the grounds that they were necessary to advance the interests of racially or ethnically defined peoples' So? What has that got to do with Nationalism? When the Hutu rose up and murdered 900,000 Tutsis, did everybody blame it on Nationalism? They blamed it on tribal identity politics, and called it a civil war. You could make a very good case that if there was a Hutuland and a Tutsiland rather than a country called Rwanda, and both had decent armies, all 900,000 of those Tutsis would be alive and well today.

'But many non-mass murdering nationalist regimes still use nationalism as a justification for protectionism, discrimination against minority groups, suppression of dissent, and the like. Nor are these abuses simply the result of misinterpretations of nationalism by unscrupulous rulers. To the contrary, if you genuinely believe that we have special obligations to members of your ethnic or national group that sometimes trump universal principles, consistency requires that you be willing to sacrifice the rights of other groups to benefit your own, at least sometimes.'

The crux is culture, not Nationalism. If your culture decrees that all citizens of the nation are treated equally, whether they are of a majority or minority ethicity, minorities will be fine. If your culture decrees that no matter what religion people are, they should be free to worship as they please, majority and minority religions will be fine. If your culture decrees that it is illigitimate to use government and business leadership positions as a means to employ all your dimwit cousins and friends, nepotism will not destroy the effectiveness of your governance and businesses, and the nation should thrive. So if you compare outcomes between say Christian law-abiding Britain and muslim nepotistic Pakistan, the contrast is stark. Try being a Christian in Pakistan. Or a Balochi. And try getting a decent job if you are not related to the top dudes. And none of this is because Pakistanis are such devout nationalists. Only the Punjabis are massive Pakistani nationalists and thats because they dominate the country. The Pakhtuns, Sindhis and Balochis would be perfectly happy to go their own way.

'In theory, one can be nationalistic without also endorsing a zero-sum game view of the world; but, empirically, the two tend to be highly correlated.'

Absolute crap. While most ambitious, driven leaders throughout history have viewed the world with 'zero-sum game' blinkers, most of their people haven't. And won't in the future; Because they are not focused on power games, on the shifting tides of oligarchic struggles, and can only very occasionaly be motivated to cross borders and fight their neighbors. The people who fight to build empires use paid armies, and when the pay stops so does the empire. Thus it has ever been.

The twentieth century was like no other century in history. Huge citizen armies fought each other in titanic struggles- some to stop themselves from being annihilated, and others on behalf of crackpot marxist/fascist/nazi/militarist ideologies which required the annihilation of nations standing in their way- the way of 'progress' or 'social justice' or 'Aryan purity'. Many countries lost their nationhood during these titanic struggles, only to bob back to the surface after a few decades as pawns in someones ideological struggle. It was hell.

'Nationalism sometimes makes xenophobes even of generally tolerant liberals.'

Whaddaya gonna do?

'Finally, nationalism often leads people to reject good ideas merely because of their foreign origin'

Yeah, I hadn't noticed that. Particularly when it comes to weapons technology, nations are whores. Make that all technology. In fact, industrialisation itself. Oh, and agricultural techniques. And the roads. And sanitation. And peace.

God Bless Monty Python, wherever you are.

Nice little developed country you got there. Shame if something were to happen to it...

'Ms Abreu agrees. "What we need is more resources - in terms of financial resources, the transference of technologies and building a national capacity to deal with the issues provoked by climate change," she said.

Mozambique is going to the Copenhagen climate summit next month to lobby for these things - as part of a united African delegation determined to win compensation for the damage caused by global warming.

"Developed countries have responsibilities," said Ms Abreu, "and we expect these countries to assume such responsibilities in Copenhagen."'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8363045.stm

Yes, because shipping large quantities of cash to Africa has worked out so well over the last fifty years. The strain put on those poor Swiss Bank managers, struggling to find room for the mountains of dollar bills- your heart just goes out to them.

My favourite statistic about Mozambique- 183 days to incorporate a company. As opposed to 1 day in Britain. There is a good reason Mozambique has an enormous population of people who are doing absolutely nothing to help themselves, and a government determined to use other peoples money to prop up their regime- they've never had a government since independence that wasn't Socialist. And the usual set of enormously unhelpful socialist themes played out across Africa have been just as punitive in Mozambique. Culture of grievance and blackmail? Check. Culture of dependence on others to do the heavy lifting? Check. Anti-capitalist and anti-entrepreneurship? Check. Public life full of bullshit and bombast? Check.

Mozambique doesn't need real money for its fake global warming problems- it needs a swift kick up the arse, and a new political culture.

'Her opinion is echoed on the streets of Maputo. "The world is like a family," said Atanasio Muchanga, who lives near the sea just north of the capital, and has noticed the changing water levels.'

Using his amazing super-power of tidal analysis. The world is like a family, Atanasio, and you lot are the dole-scrounging loser branch. To paraphrase the old saying "Millions for defence, not a penny for global warming protection money".

I think exposing Global Warming as a scam probably serves as some justification...

'Though if "FOI" broke laws by hacking into a computer to access the information and then make it public, that's another matter. A lot of the same folk on the right who are so ardent about the rule of law when it comes to Chrysler bondholders or illegal immigration seem less bent out of shape by the tactics that may have been used to access these emails. They may wish to recall that lawbreaking is lawbreaking, even when it is done for what may seem like a desirable end of humiliating the climate-change alarmists.'
http://www.futureofcapitalism.com/2009/11/crovitz-on-anonymity

'Deep Throat', the man who supplied all the most useful information to break Watergate wide open, must have broken some laws when he divulged what he knew to newspapermen. At the very least, he would have broken secrecy laws which government employees who see sensitive documents in the course of their work have to sign. By the argument used above, lefties should revile him as a lawbreaker. Or is it only 'folks on the right' who believe laws should be obeyed?

I've been trying to think of a good parallel for the argument above and the best one I can think of is do you prosecute the man who busts a window to enter a burning house to wake up the sleeping occupants with breaking and entering? Only on MOONBAT ISLAND.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My tuppence on US Health Care

Few quick questions about American healthcare:

1. Why can't Americans see how fundamentally stupid health insurance is?

You pay insurance premiums to a health insurance company, and yet they determine (largely) what treatment you get. Lets just say that you put the same amount of money into an average yield investment vehicle, starting when you were twenty five. By the time you got to the age where you could expect to start needing the fund, you would have enough money to take care of virtually any eventuality. Simple, flexible and even available for elective surgery should you want it. You purchase the services from the provider- no middleman overhead. No muss no fuss.

2. Medicaid is forever, but why does Medicare have to be?

If you have an investment fund for general health, why not have a smaller adjunct fund for end-of-life care? As long as you start it early, it will be plenty big enough after four or five decades to cover those last hairy years.

3. As a supplement to your own general health fund, you could have an emergency-only insurance policy specific to the most extreme health emergencies, the ones that cost the most money? As those events are so rare, the cost would be minimal.

4. If these ideas were adopted universally, the health insurance industry would virtually disappear. And? The money sucked from both health care providers and consumers by that industry would be much more fruitful if kept by the former. And if tort reform were passed to kill off the worst ambulance-chasers, costs for the best health care system in the world could really drop significantly, while treatments improved and coverage increased.

Just saying.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Questions for the East Anglia CRU investigators

The questions I personally want answered by the ClimateGate investigative panel:

1. What percentage of the foundation data underlying A.G.W. theory held by East Anglia CRU is still extant?

2. Where is it? Who holds it?

3. What percentage of the foundation data underlying A.G.W. held by East Anglia CRU is available to all interested researchers?

4. What happened to the foundation data for A.G.W. once held by East Anglia CRU which is no longer extant? Who last held it?

5. How many separate violations of the laws governing Freedom of Information requests occured at East Anglia CRU?

6. What oversight if any did East Anglia University perform on Freedom of Information act requests to the CRU?

7. How long has the alleged anti-scientific behaviour been going on at EA CRU?

Friday, November 27, 2009

And yet the Titanic Sailed on...

Having foolishly once given the Conservative Party my email address...

This from David Cameron [or stooge thereof]-

'In nine days time, representatives from 192 countries will meet in Copenhagen for the UN Conference on climate change. This summit is of historic importance. It is an opportunity for the world to take bold action to deal with the real danger of climate change.

So this week, ahead of the summit, members of my Shadow Cabinet have given a series of speeches setting out plans to help protect the global environment. Each one of these speeches sets out specific steps which need to be taken if we are going to reduce our carbon emissions.'

Wheel unresponsive... ship listing slowly to starboard... loud gurgling sounds...
distinct whiff of soiled clothing...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

American Prospect defends the New York trials

'The decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind September 11, and his alleged co-conspirators in a civilian court sparked charges of "irresponsibility" from the Republican Party.'

http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=who_is_really_on_trial_in_the_khalid_sheik_mohammed_case

Alleged? Alleged? Both the current President and the current Attorney General have said these guys are guilty and need executing! They aren't allegedly guilty, they are guilty. If Obama and Holdren know these guys are guilty, who is Adam Serwer to dispute it?

'Who is Really on Trial in the Khalid Sheik Mohammed Case?'

Very good question. In the eyes of every single lefty, America-hater and illigitimate ruler on the planet, the answer is 'The United States and George W Bush'. And no matter what the outcome of this show trial, the verdict will be guilty. The guilty verdict was pronounced about six years ago, and hasn't changed.

'This trial is as much about showing the world that America is a country dedicated to the rule of law, as it is holding Mohammed and his cohorts to account for their alleged crimes.'

Apparently, the Geneva conventions aren't law. And military tribunals are not legitimate courts of military law.

'Republicans' view of whether trying a terrorist in federal court is a victory for the rule of law or "irresponsible" tracks closely with whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House.'

That is just piffle. I read dangerous amounts of web news, comment and blogs, and I don't remember one single conservative ever promoting trials in civilian courts. Certainly nobody who knows anything about battlefield law has ever been of the opinion that captured combatants out of uniform should be tried in civilian courts. There are two very good reasons Rudolf Giuliani didn't win the Republican nomination for President- no real conservative considers him a) conservative and b) serious. Only a flaky city like NY would re-elect a flake like Giuliani.

'What the trial will put on display is the United States' commitment to due process,'

Due process? Every day, criminals are successfully prosecuted and convicted by the US court system. Isn't that a good enough demonstration of US commitment to due process? Don't you watch Law and Order?

Hidden under these apparently clear words, are the following ideas.

'Due Process' is not really about US courts or whether America is a country that abides by its own laws. 'Due Process' is really about the nature of the men in Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The left say they are criminals, whose crimes are both justifiable politically and morally. If these men are tried in civilian criminal courts they will then be able to trumpet their political ideas, explain how those ideas motivated their actions, and demonstrate their good moral standing. The fact that the left and the islamists share many common political ideas and practices is not coincidental. For many lefties, todays islamists are the spiritual descendants of the left wing radicals of the Vietnam era and the anarchists of the late nineteenth century. They are firebrands, shakers of the establishment, challengers of the evil and powerful, a bit like old testament prophets. The left feels many sympathetic resonances with the men in Gitmo.

When 'Prospect'ers talk about 'Due Process', that is what is underlying their insistence on having 'legitimate trials'.

'What the trial will put on display is the United States' commitment to due process, and it may potentially prove America is unafraid to confront its own wrongdoing when it comes to the abuse of the accused while in government custody.'

Yes, much more important than three thousand people being murdered on a normal average business day for the temerity of being Americans, is whether 'America is unafraid to confront its own wrongdoing when it comes to the abuse of the accused while in government custody'. You can see very easily how that prioritization would be arrived at. Oh, you can't see? Yeah, me either. It's completely idiotic.

If every single non-uniformed combatant captured on the battlefields of the north west frontier were tortured in US custody, it would mean virtually nothing. After all, under law, what they deserve is a bullet in the back of the head and an unmarked grave. If America complied with the letter and the spirit of the Geneva conventions, that is the fate which would await non-uniformed combatants. I think we can agree that most of the time being tortured is better than being shot dead, especially if its American torture. American torture often involves loud noises and music- ooow stop! Flashbacks to Iron Maiden concerts!

And the torture is not for fun. It is not punishment and it is not for sadistic pleasure- it is for the express purpose of gathering information to prevent terrorist atrocities. Having lived through a war where torture was done either for fun or to intimidate the locals, I can see a clear difference, even if pampered American lefties can't.

When your priorities are so clearly demented, you can't expect many people to agree with you. And sure enough, a large majority of Americans think the American Prospect attitude is both morally disgusting and factually incorrect.

'During the Bush administration, Republicans praised the convictions of terrorists like Moussaoui and Richard Reid in federal court. Now, they're arguing that military commissions should be used almost exclusively, claiming that accused terrorists don't "deserve" the same rights as Americans.'

What is it with moonbats and terrible terrible memories? Just the other day, Robert Gibbs did a bit of 'just between you and me and the garden gate' nostalgic reminiscing about the lovely sweet gentle era of the George W Bush presidency. Yes, I don't remember constant comparisons between Bushitler and... oh, hang on...

If you are counting, this is the second time within a few paragraphs that the author of this piece has used the same argument- that Republicans were FOR civilian trials of non-uniformed combatants before they were AGAINST them. Repetition, while a useful rhetorical tool, is a crap argumentative one. It's no truer now than it was fourteen seconds ago, Mr Serwer. If my rough guesstimate is right, conservatives have always been roughly split between a) execute them on the battlefield as per the Geneva conventions and b) torture them first and then execute them as per the Geneva conventions. If you can cite actual cases of real, breathing conservatives touting civilian trials for non-uniformed combatants please let me know.

'During the Bush administration, Republicans praised the convictions of terrorists like Moussaoui and Richard Reid in federal court. Now, they're arguing that military commissions should be used almost exclusively, claiming that accused terrorists don't "deserve" the same rights as Americans. This argument undermines the entire concept of a fair trial by assuming the accused is guilty prior to conviction -- and misunderstands that the right to a fair trial isn't just about granting individuals rights; it's about restricting the government's power through due process.'

Talk about talking around the point. In a warzone, there are the following statuses available: civilian (non-combatant), uniformed combatant (combatant), non-uniformed combatant (combatant), spy (sometimes a combatant). Only the first two are valid under the rules of war. The men in Gitmo were all captured in the Taliban/Al Qaeda warzone. They don't even deserve a military tribunal- they should really just be shot. But habituated as Americans are to bringing the law into everything, and humane as Americans are, they want to be seen to be doing the right thing. Even in a war against disgusting filth who hack off peoples heads on video.

Which is fine, within reason. It is only when this habituation and humanity start to have seriously bad side-effects that time must be called, and reality re-introduced to the appraisal.

In World War II, the Gestapo shot spies and partisans after they had tortured whatever information they could out of them. Harsh though this was, it was not considered a war crime. Once the SAS had become famous, Hitler decreed that any British commando or SAS trooper captured was to be shot out of hand. This caused an uproar, as it is against the rules of war. Both SAS and commandos fought in uniform, although they didn't fight conventional squad warfare. Al Qaeda and the Taliban purposely never wear uniforms, and do not recognise the validity of the Geneva conventions. According to this intellectual giant, apparently that means they should be tried in civilian court?

'Actions matter -- which is why trying Mohammed in a civilian court with all the rights of any other criminal defendant is not just an opportunity to indict the murderous philosophy of al-Qaeda before the international community'

Man oh man. You never ever put peoples philosophy on trial in court. You can't, because it is only actions which can be the subject of prosecutions. That is a fundamental of the Anglo-American legal systems. Sorry, dimwit.

'The only things Mohammed or the other accused might say about America that have any relation to reality have to do with policies that have become an implicit part of the Republican Party platform.

National Review's Andy McCarthy admitted last week that one of his concerns was that a civilian trial would involve "putting the Bush administration under the spotlight." This is what conservatives are truly afraid of. Their aggressive support for violating international human-rights laws and domestic prohibitions against torture has been a boon to terrorist recruitment around the world.'

The view on the left has always been that whatever tiny sins were perpetrated by Al Qaeda and the Taliban, they pale into insignificance in relation to the American/Republican response to them. Sadly, most Americans don't agree- and feel that the men who attacked America got exactly what they were asking for. The left want you to forget where all this messy international warfare started, about the 1993 bombing of the world trade center, the bombings of Americas embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole and the thousands of innocents who died under the Taliban regime; and just look at the bits that make their political enemies look bad.

The idea that it is a most excellent thing that Al Qaeda operatives can get up in public, in court, and excoriate Republican policies is one which when it happens will prove to be extremely unpopular. And not because every American is a Republican. But because what George W Bush did for America was necessary, justified and successful. Even Obama wasn't stupid enough to change them- you don't fix what ain't broke.

'A trial by military commission might feed into the alleged terrorists' perception that they are "holy warriors" instead of murderers'

Er, who gives a shit?

'-- a notion that complements the conservative perception of terrorists as superpowered villains rather than as thugs.'

Straw man argument alert! Conservatives see Al Qaeda and the Wahhabist islamists for what they are: politico-religious operatives engaged in a long war against their politico-religious enemies- us. They are not willing to fight by any rules of warfare, and our response is often going to be out of the same playbook. If you think that sucks and is wrong, please see World War Two history, Allied Bomber campaign. War is harsh, and should only be engaged in by people who know what they are bringing down upon their heads, often literally.

Most of this war is going on out of our sight. Most lefties don't read military and intelligence websites, or visit the battlezones. And their imaginations are not engaged either. Most of the really disgusting things that go on will not appear on TV, or be reported in the St Louis Post Despatch. Because the enemy refuse to play by the rules of war, it is even more awful than wars are usually. Is that our fault? Is it George W Bush's fault? Only if you believe he started it.

And only the ignorant morons at 'Dismal Prospect' are that history-challenged.

'This trial is as much about showing the world that America is a country dedicated to the rule of law, a nation that will stare unflinchingly at its own sins, as it is holding Mohammed and his cohorts to account for their alleged crimes. But the sad truth is that while this trial is an important step, the Obama administration's continuation of other Bush policies remains a liability. Maintaining a "hybrid" legal system in which the venue is based on the strength of the government's case, rather than the nature of the alleged crime, and continuing a policy of indefinite detention outside a military context will continue to undermine the perception that the U.S. is governed by the rule of law rather than its own fearful impulses.'

Fear keeps us alive, just like pain warns us of danger.

A critical moment will soon be upon all of us. That is when Al Qaeda next successfully strike an American target. And the people still bashing George W Bush for fighting Al Qaeda tooth and claw will be confronted by a very unpalatable future- where Al Qaeda are still fighting despite all the self-flagellating New York trials and Obama obsequiousness to the 'muslim world'; and the righteous anger of the American people will be directed both at Al Qaeda, and the lefty enablers of Al Qaeda in their midst. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Its about the ends not the means

'On balance, therefore, I still think that global warming exists and is a genuinely serious problem. But I am marginally less confident in holding that view than I was before. If we see more revelations of this kind, I will be less confident still.

Unfortunately the debate over Climategate among laypeople is likely to be heavily influenced by political ignorance and irrationality, especially the tendency to overvalue any information that confirms one’s preexisting views and downplay or ignore anything that cuts the other way. Thus, global warming supporters are likely to claim that Climategate proves nothing at all, while skeptics will trumpet it as justification for rejecting mainstream climate research altogether. Both temptations should be resisted, though I’m not optimistic they will be.'

http://volokh.com/2009/11/24/climategate-and-the-social-validation-of-knowledge/

I understand Ilya Somins points, and find most of his analysis cogent and respectable. I just don't agree with his last point. I can't remember a public policy case quite like anthropogenic global warming. Certainly in my lifetime, never has a theory gone so quickly through all the stages from initial hypothesis, to gathering of data, to testing the hypothesis, to sharing the data, to re-testing of the hypothesis by others in the scientific community, to wide-spread consensus that the hypothesis has been satisfactorily proven, to use of the hypothesis to inform an important part of public policy debate, to continual assertion by those who deem the hypothesis to have been satisfactorily proven that those who are still sceptical are not simply sceptical but criminal and dastardly.

The main problem is not that Anthropogenic Global Warming went through these stages quickly, but how many of the most important stages it skipped altogether.

If you know of a hypothesis which has had a similar pattern of development to A.G.W., please let me know. Over and over again, its proponents have been caught overstating their knowledge of prior and current climatic conditions, and making grand pronouncements based on extremely dubious, flimsy and partial information, up to and including the IPCC reports. Also from the beginning, the proponents means of combating failures in their scientific method and results was not to go out and get better data and do clearer and stronger analyses, but to lambaste their opponents as idiots and corrupt lackeys of big business, and to use the fallacy of appeal to authority to quash debate.

Even for someone like me who has simply kept their ear to the ground during this debate, it is clear how it has been conducted- with very little integrity.

I personally (and I think this goes for a vast majority of the sceptics) would like to see genuine proof that A.G.W. exists. If it does, I will do my utmost to help fix the problem. I'm not an idiot, and neither are most sceptics. If we as a species are destroying our one and only planet, that is a catastrophe worth knocking down every coal-burning power station and scrapping every diesel engine.

But it has to be demonstrated to be true before any of that happens. And the biggest thing that undermines my faith in it being true? The political bent of large swathes of the researchers presenting the evidence. Communists lie. The truth is nothing to them. What matters is results- getting power and destroying capitalism and capitalists. Whether that is done via mobs of peasants with pitchforks, or committees of corrupt and stupid old farts at the UN is not important. What is revealed in the emails we have now seen is a desire to attain the goals of worldwide environmentalism/communism by hook or by crook.

Who cares what the data says if we have the peer-review journals in the palm of our hands?

BBC balanced and fair look at those ClimateGate emails

'In an interview with the Press Association, Professor Jones said he wouldn't resign. He said the suggestion that there was a conspiracy to alter evidence was "complete rubbish". And he insisted the CRU had never manipulated or deleted data or e-mails.'

And apparently, that's good enough for the BBC!

'Professor Jones, who has received personal threats since the e-mails were leaked, said he regretted "poorly chosen words in the heat of the moment, when I was frustrated". He said the past few days had been the worst of his professional life.'

Yes, that's the important thing about this story- how Professor Jones feels today. If Jones thinks that this rediculously flimsy 'heat of the moment infelicity of wording' excuse is going to get the job done, he is wrong.

'Trial by internet'

Sub-headings tell us the state of mind of the editors, not about the story itself. How exactly is a developing news story driven by citizen journalists a 'trial by internet' when the average news story on the BBC radio or TV news isn't 'trial by radio' or 'trial by TV'? Presumably, any story which the BBC doesn't want to break is therefore pigeonholed as a kangaroo-court sham. Interesting. Reminiscent of Soviet Propaganda.

'But in the world of science policy, many others find themselves in a war of influence against those firms who fund the amplification of the messages of the relatively small number of genuinely sceptical scientists outside the consensus. The sceptic business lobby aims to keep scientific doubt alive to paralyse policy. This is the world of science Realpolitik.'

This desperate cabal of machiavellian polluters is absolutely shit at their job. Absolutely everywhere I turn, from news websites to the science channels on TV, from general interest magazines to the scientific journals, from school information packs to local government websites, everywhere it is just wall-to-wall global-warmist propaganda. Apart from a few obscure websites, the presence of the 'global-warming deniers' is almost undetectable.

And yet... enormous numbers of private citizens in the US and the UK and round the world don't believe in A.G.W. Interesting that. If your bullshit antennae are actually on and working, it isn't hard to see the humongous gaps in the Global Warmmonger fairytale.

Persuading the commies and most politicians was not hard for the warmmonger doomsters- for both constituencies, there are massive upsides to the whole Global warming fairytale. Hate capitalism? Tell everybody it is killing the planet! For the good of all the poor ickle people we have to destroy your industries. And if you won't do our bidding, we'll just have to nationalise that asset. Sorry! For politicians, the benefits are even greater! Just how good does a politician saving the world look! I mean, never before have politicians been able to claim that they are actually saving the whole world from a preventable disaster! That is political dynamite. Who cares if it ain't true? By the time the rubes work it out, I'll be retired anyway...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8377465.stm

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

They all got the memo, apparently

'On one hand, over at RealClimate.org, Gavin Schmidt, a modeler for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has been downplaying the leak. Schmidt wrote: "There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research ... no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no 'marching orders' from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords." '

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/11/24/taking_liberties/entry5761180.shtml

Interestingly, George Monbiot takes an almost identical tack in his own piece on the Guardian Website, Comment Is Free. Rather than grapple with any of the very obvious evidence of conspiracy to change data, conspiracy to not divulge information to unworthy opponents, conspiracy to bludgeon peer-review journals into following the party line, these guys set up a facile and caricatured straw man which surprise surprise is not in the emails.

So climate scientists don't sit around their George-Soros funded Dr Evil lair twirling their 1920's mustachoi laughing maniacally while US taxpayer money is burned in the fireplace to keep the chill off? Really? How interesting.

Groundhog Day



You would be forgiven for wondering if this was 2003, rather than 2009. ClimateGate is just getting going, with absolutely loads of dramatic public policy questions at stake, and literally trillions of dollars, pounds, yuan and yen at stake- and what is the big story on the BBC website?

Yes, it's that hot story of the day month millenium, yet another chance for lefties to bemoan the evil events that led up to the greatest tragedy in world history, the invasion of Iraq and deposing of Saddam Hussein, Humanitarian and Kurd-gasser. It's one final chance to ascertain whether we invaded Iraq to kill a desparately awful dictator and free his people, or whether we invaded Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction and kill a desperately awful dictator and free his people. The very fate of all we hold dear hangs in the balance, as I'm sure you agree.

UPDATE

Just saw the BBC News at Ten headlines on the telly- there have been four previous enquiries into the Iraq war. That's right- its an annual event now! Fantastic use of taxpayer money, indubitably!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do you really want this BBC?



Imagine, if you will, a world where...

The BBC was actually a news organisation.

Imagine if you will, a 61Mb trove of hacked emails pilfered from the White House email system containing thousands of emails between March 2002 and March 2003. In the emails Tony Blair and George W Bush, along with numerous of their advisors and generals, discuss a dossier of exaggerated, manipulated and/or faked intelligence about non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction; which they were preparing to provide a figleaf of cover for their savage joint enterprise of invading poor little Iraq.

Imagine that someone with inside access got this 61Mb of email and documentary data, and posted it on their own website. They made the material freely available to news organisations or whoever was interested.

Now imagine how long it would take for the contents of those emails to get on the BBC website.

It has been exactly six days since the 61Mb of emails from the East Anglia University Global Warming Hysteria Propagation Unit and so far the response of the BBC has been... (see above).

What day did the BBC stop being a news organisation, and become a Political Correctness-enforcing, Muslim-terror news suppressing, Global Warming advocating, Left-wing-cause promoting £3.2 billion drain on the national pocket-book?

These global warmists need to get their numbers right

About the current discussion on air: Why do the media persist in presenting climate change views as if there's a 50-50 balanced discussion among scientists between those who agree that humans are the cause of current climate changes and those who do not. Around 98% of scientists agree with the overwhelming evidence that human activity has caused our current predicament. Please stop presenting it as if it's all still up for debate because it's misleading and damaging!
Sarah , Cambridge

I'm normally a big fan of the Daily Politics, but was not impressed by your Climate Change debate on Monday 23rd. By having one professor for and one against the concept of man made climate change, you made it appear as if scientists are equally split on the idea. But in fact 99% agree that humans are causing global warming and that we need to do something about it. With only a coule of weeks til Copenhagen, why weaken the public's will to combate climate change?!
Dan, Bristol

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/the_daily_politics/8268443.stm

I am disgusted by the inconsistency in the Global Warmmongers arguments. They are just so sloppy. Sarah says 98% of scientists are certain global warming is our fault and its a HUGE disaster, while Dan in Bristol says it's 99%! I mean, which one is it? Huh? 98% or 99%? How can we trust you if the data changes? Huh? Huh?