Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Can't keep up. Kevin Williamson unleashes his fearsome rhetoric again, this time at New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for dissociating itself from the views of a Christian group to which it had sold advertising space. The MTA had not previously issued any similar disclaimers for the multitudes of its other patrons which include alcohol peddlers, ambulance chasers and terrorist organizations.
Christians and other religious people, and cultural traditionalists of all stripes, very often complain that far from wanting to use political power to impose their religious views on others, they would be happy to be left alone, or at least to have the services of public institutions that do not regard them as something somewhere between an enemy and an infection. The filth and bile that are part of public life everywhere in this country, not least in New York City, are taken as the price we pay for freedom of speech, thought, and conscience, which they are — but if you have a message or an idea that intersects with religion (and, let’s be honest, mostly with Christianity), then you are a political suspect. The very constitutional provisions that we wrote to protect the free exercise of religion have been perverted into excuses for restricting religious expression, and the cultural deck has been, in no small part through the actions of governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, stacked against the very tradition that was and is the cultural foundation of our society.
In his article, Williamson refers to a post he made a few months ago about a New York storage company whose idea of self-promotion involves the use of left wing boilerplate propaganda.
Advertisements for Manhattan Mini Storage are the wallpaper of New York City, and they frequently contain beef-witted anti-Republican and leftish invective of one sort or another, e.g. “Vote your conscience in this next election. Or just vote Republican.” It is banal stuff and, given the local political conditions, cowardly, too. But if there is one thing that New Yorkers love, it is being flattered by having their biases endorsed.
As part of their 2014 and 2016 election strategy, Democrats are currently engaging in attacks on the "rape culture" on college campuses. Aside from diverting the discussion away from the Obamacare disaster, the Obama administrations' countless scandals, its fabrication of obstacles to economic growth, and its ineptitude in managing foreign affairs, the tactic fits in with the Party's overall "GOP War On Women" theme. [Men vote Republican (In 2012, Romney won among men, 54%-46%); Men rape women; Democrats are here to protect women from rape]. With this in mind, and with Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president a near inevitability, a review of the rape issue as it pertains to her is in order.
Conservatives are sometimes accused of overindulging in the "What if Bush did it?" game, but it is certainly appropriate here. If a prominent Republican, especially one considering a run for the presidency, had been the target of the charges made in these videos, wouldn't he/she, absent a convincing exculpating response, be ignominiously forced to withdraw from public life? Would the story have been relegated to obscurity as it has been when the (alleged) perpetrators are Democrats? Wouldn't the person making the charges instantly become an honored celebrity with an invitation to make a prime time speech at the Democratic National Convention?
(That's actually a good idea. Have Juanita Broadderick tell her story at the 2016 RNC).
Thursday, May 22, 2014
I think my IQ goes up two points every time I read something written by Kevin Williamson. Here's a sampling of just some of his efforts produced over the past week or so.
-- How the selfie culture confronts terrorism.
Imagine, if you can, the abjectly juvenile state of mind necessary to contemplate the hundreds of Nigerian girls taken into slavery by a fanatical Muslim anti-education militia — whose characteristic activity beyond slave-taking is setting fire to children — and, in the face of all that horror, concluding: “You know what this situation really calls for? A cutesy picture of . . . me!”
...If your reading on public affairs has not progressed much past Internet memes, you have a responsibility to your country: Don’t vote. In fact, you probably should not even speak about those things. There is no shame in that; all of us are mostly ignorant about most things, as my poor father is reminded every time he tries to talk to me about sports. But please, if you actually care about the world and the human beings who inhabit it, stop — just stop — subordinating girls taken into slavery in Nigeria to the satisfaction of your ego. Go read a book. This is not about you.
-- Dismembering (rhetorically) an ignorant critic of libertarianism (Michael Lind) and then offering philosophical musings on that ideology and its prospective role in creating humane, efficient government.
-- An essay wherein Williamson analyzes the VA scandal by invoking, (among other concepts and people), Ludwig von Mises, orreries, sub-atomic physics, the Uncertainty Principle, Pierre-Simon Laplace and Laplace's Demon, Stephen Hawking, Hieronymus Bosch, and (excerpted below), the butterfly effect.
Another feature of complex systems is that some of them are very sensitive to initial conditions, as expressed by the butterfly effect. It may be the case that things have gone as well as they have for us in the United States not because of any current policy or because of the unique genius and saintliness of our national leadership as currently constituted, but simply because the right people with the right prejudices did the right things for a relatively short period of time in the 18th century, and what we have now is very little more than the compounded returns on that cultural windfall. That seems to me a more likely explanation for our relatively happy and secure place in the world than that we were led to this point by the kind of thinking, and the kind of men, who brought us the VA hospitals and those dead veterans.
Comment from an impressed reader --
Man, you must be some kind of crazy genius. The range of things you write about never ceases to amaze.
-- Some remarks by Williamson on President Obama's reaction to the VA scandal.
As many have remarked here, Barack Obama has a strange habit of acting like somebody else has been president these past years. It’s really odd.
In his speech on the VA, the president said that he would not stand for things that he clearly and undeniably has stood for some years now, and swore that he would not tolerate that which he has been tolerating since 2009.
He’s been described as acting like a bystander to his own presidency, but it’s more like he’s a victim of it, as though the presidency were this terrible thing that just happened to him one day that he’s now courageously dealing with.
...So Barack Obama has sworn that he will not tolerate the incompetence of the Obama administration. I’d like to think that that means he is going to resign, but I don’t think that’s what he meant.
-- A look at "the clown of the senate" (guess who), the June 2 National Review cover story.
There are 53 Democrats in the Senate, plus two nominal independents who associate with them, and this clown caucus has chosen, since 2007, to place itself under the malignant leadership of Harry Reid, Washington’s answer to Frankenstein’s monster — stitched together out of the worst bits of Roger Chillingworth, Joe McCarthy, and Droopy — a teacup tyrant who has filled his own pockets to the tune of $10 million while decrying the allegedly baleful influence of the wealthy on politics, a man who has done violence to ethical standards left and right, using campaign funds for personal expenditures and trying to hide payments channeled to his granddaughter, who takes to the Senate floor to make patently false, malicious, and increasingly loopy claims about his political rivals, and who is leading a partisan assault on the Bill of Rights. If America needs a(nother) good reason to hand Democrats their heads come November, then they would do well to study the career of Harry Reid (D., Ritz-Carlton), the Sheriff of Nottingham to Barack Obama’s Prince John.
-- (Added 5/25/2014) Williamson responds to writer Ta-Nehisi Coates' call for reparations for African-Americans.
Mr. Coates engages in what certainly feels like a little misdirection. Responding to the very fair criticism that public policy designed to help the disadvantaged should distinguish between, say, the Obama daughters and those without their advantages, Mr. Coates is having none of it: “In the contest of upward mobility, Barack and Michelle Obama have won. But they’ve won by being twice as good—and enduring twice as much.” The truth or untruth of that claim can only be ascertained by asking the question that Mr. Coates is committed to ignoring: “Compared with whom?” Did Barack or Michelle Obama inherit disadvantages that forced them to perform twice as well, and bear twice as much, as a white woman born into horrific poverty in Appalachia? A white orphan? A white immigrant escaping the Third Reich? A racial disadvantage is only one of many kinds of disadvantages that can be inherited — why should it be the one around which we organize ourselves? Mr. Coates himself comes from a fairly modest background, but he, a man without an undergraduate degree, is a visiting scholar at MIT, one of the most exclusive academic institutions in the world, a position he enjoys as part of a program that excludes whites. (“The Program is open to individuals of any minority group, with an emphasis on the appointment of African Americans.”) There are, of course, many programs of that sort, and it is possible that poor whites resent them more than they should — the view from Owsley County, Ky, or from Lubbock, Texas, might make it difficult to see the so-called white supremacy that is so unmistakably obvious to Mr. Coates. But dealing with that reality inescapably entails treating people as individuals, and treating people as individuals makes reparations morally and intellectually impossible — even if we accept in toto Mr. Coates’s argument that the brutal imposition of white-supremacist policies is the entire basis for the relative social positions of blacks and whites in the United States in 2014. Which is to say: Even if we accept the facts of aggregate advantage and disadvantage with their roots in historical injustice, the aggregate cannot be converted into the collective inasmuch as neither advantage nor disadvantage is universal on either side nor linked to a straightforward chain of causality. Some blacks are born into college-educated, well-off households, and some whites are born to heroin-addicted single mothers, and even the totality of racial crimes throughout American history does not mean that one of these things matters and one does not.
... Mr. Coates is largely correct about the past and is to a degree correct about the present. About the future, he is catastrophically wrong. The political interests of African Americans, like those of other Americans, are best served by equality under the law. The economic interests of African Americans, like those of other Americans, are best served by a dynamic and growing economy, preferably one in which the labor force is liberated from the dysfunctional, antique Prussian model of education that contributes so much to black poverty. The people to whom reparations were owed are long dead; our duty is to the living, and to generations yet to come, and their interests are best served by liberty and prosperity, not by moral theater.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
As troubling and disgraceful as the Benghazi scandal is - and it has fully earned those descriptors - the clearest manifestation of the Obama administration's sinister character is the IRS scandal. The enlistment of the omnipotent tax agency by Democrats to impede and pressure political opponents is a deeply alarming and ominous development. Disturbing also is that it took a non-governmental enterprise - Judicial Watch - to uncover damning evidence of complicity between the White House and the IRS to shut down political debate. As Mark Steyn has pointed out, Congressional Oversight and Investigative Committees do precious little overseeing and investigating. They mostly just waste taxpayer money while providing a platform for preening politicians.
Two eminently qualified thinkers, Andrew McCarthy and Kevin Williamson weigh in on the issue.
For a year, the administration and IRS headquarters in Gomorrah by the Potomac have attempted to run an implausible con-job: The harassment of organizations opposed to Obama’s policies by an executive-branch agency had nothing to do with the Obama administration — it was just a rogue operation by an IRS office in Cincinnati which, though regrettably overzealous, was apolitical, non-ideological, and without “even a smidgen of corruption.”
The story had about as much credibility as the administration’s “blame the video” script that Susan Rice dutifully performed on the post-Benghazi Sunday shows, or the Justice Department’s 2011 assurance to Congress that its agents would never knowingly allow the transfer of a couple of thousand guns to criminal gangs in Mexico. The “Cincinnati did it” yarn has been unraveling since it was first spun by IRS honcho Lois Lerner and, soon afterwards, by President Obama himself. The lie has now been exploded by e-mails clawed from the IRS by Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act suit.
...The IRS scandal presents a textbook case of tyrannical execution. It is fraught with peril. We are dealing not merely with a single president, who presumes to rule by decree; nor just with his congressional partisans, who presume to pull the executive bureaucracy’s coercive levers. Enormous power is cumulating in an ideological movement that is hostile to free expression, one that views its political opposition not as fellow citizens with a different point of view but as enemies to be silenced and destroyed.
The IRS did not target groups that they believed might be violating the rules governing tax-exempt organizations; rather, as e-mails from the agency document, the IRS targeted these conservative groups categorically, regardless of whether there was any evidence that they were not in compliance with the relevant regulations. Simply having the words “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” (a reference to one of Glenn Beck’s many channels of activism) in the name was enough. Also targeted were groups dedicated to issues such as taxes, spending, debt, and, perhaps most worrisome, those that were simply “critical of the how the country is being run.” Organizations also were targeted based on the identity of their donors. Their applications were delayed, their managements harassed, and the IRS demanded that they answer wildly inappropriate questions, such as the content of their prayers.
...The IRS is not just a revenue agency — it is a law-enforcement agency, a police agency with far greater powers of investigation and coercion that any normal police force. Its actions in this matter are not only inappropriate — they are illegal. Using government resources for political ends is a serious crime, as is conspiring to mislead investigators about those crimes. But so far, other than holding Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to comply with the demands of congressional investigators, almost nothing has happened. The characteristic feature of a police state is that those who are entrusted with the power to enforce the law are not themselves bound by it.
...The most important question that must be answered in this matter does not involve the misbehavior of IRS officials and Democratic officeholders, though those are important. Nor is it the question of free speech, vital and fundamental as that is. The question here is nothing less than the legitimacy of the United States government. When law-enforcement agencies and federal regulators with extraordinary coercive powers are subordinated to political interests rather than their official obligations — to the Party rather than to the law — then the law itself becomes meaningless, and the delicate constitutional order we have enjoyed for more than two centuries is reduced to a brutal might-makes-right proposition.
Targeting groups "critical of the how the country is being run" (the wording of Lois Lerner's BOLO (be on the lookout) e-mail to her staff at the IRS). Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea and now the U.S.
From Mark Steyn's latest blog post.
Speaking of over-simplification, the Irish interview with Dr Mann I quoted earlier this week contains this fascinating exchange:
JOHN GIBBONS: Ireland doesn't have the US-style ideological chasm, but instead we have a media that is tremendously uninterested and uninformed. Our leading climate scientist, Prof John Sweeney had to actually boycott a recent TV programme, on the grounds that this type of 'debate' (giving oxygen to known climate deniers) is feeding the problem – you've experienced this?
MICHAEL MANN: Sometimes, if you don't participate, the fear is that people are only going to hear from the voices of disinformation but if we allow that sort of 'false balance' approach, it does a disservice to the public. If you as a scientist share the stage with an industry-funded denier, you are implicitly telling the audience that these are two equally credible voices – and they're not. I'm sympathetic to the view that John Sweeney expressed about the fallacy of false balance. It's like an astronomer getting into a debate with the president of the Flat Earth Society over the latest stellar observations.
Of course, they're only "industry-funded deniers" because Mann labels them as such. When he sued me in the District of Columbia, he was simultaneously suing others in Virginia and British Columbia: He and his quintet of white-shoe Big Tobacco lawyers are funded by the alarmism industry. We can all play this moronic game. The problem for Mann is that this moronic game -"Shut up, denier!" - is the only one he can play. But let's take his argument at face value - that, if you share the stage with someone, you're lending them your credibility.
Okay. So who's this bloke John Gibbons with whom Mann is happy to "share the stage"? Any number of Irish readers wrote to fill me in, including Peter O'Neill, who mentioned that Mr Gibbons was a man who believed in "expressing temperature change in degrees Celsius as a percentage". I didn't quite credit this, but it's true.
John Gibbons on February 16, 2011:
"Just in case you're not familiar with the basic science (and I really am now beginning to wonder), the current global average surface temp. is c.14.5C. Add 4C to that in half a century and you have increased the average surface temp by over 25%."
Mr Gibbons seems to think temperature is like pounds or euros. If you have zero pounds, you have no money. Similarly, says Gibbons, if you have zero degrees Celsius, you have no temperature. If you start out in the morning with £2 and you end the day with £4, you're twice as rich. Likewise, if you start out in the morning with two degrees and end the day with four degrees, you're twice as warm.
...Michael Mann won't "share the stage" with Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Jr, Hans von Storch, Richard Tol, Steve McIntyre, Nigel Lawson, Matt Ridley, Lennart Bengtsson or even me, because we're all anti-science oversimpletons, and the false balance would only give us a credibility we don't deserve. So instead he gives exclusive interviews to blokes who think Centigrade temperatures can be expressed as a percentage. Mann's Climate Cult depends on credulous rubes and fawning groupies, and he's running low.
As most sixth graders know (or should know), to calculate a percentage change in temperature one would use the Kelvin scale, the zero point of which isn't the freezing point of water (as it is for Celsius), but rather Absolute Zero or -273.15 degrees Celsius. An increase of four degrees from 14.5C to 18.5C is thus the same as going from 287.65K to 291.65K or 1.4% (Not 25%). And by the way, that four degree increase wildly overstates the rise in global temperature over the past 50 years, or any predicted temperature rise over the next 50 years, if that's what Gibbons meant.
"Just in case you're not familiar with the basic science (and I really am now beginning to wonder)..." Indeed.
Gibbons - who's described by Wikipedia as an "environmental activist" (groan) - exhibits many of the characteristics found among warmists - smug, self-satisfied, condescending and ignorant. Steyn is right - That Michael Mann would rather sit down and discuss climate science with an ignorant fool like John Gibbons rather than with a knowledgeable expert like Judith Curry reflects the collective close-minded mentality of the global warming crowd. It also reflects Mann's (and others' like his) cowardice. No doubt a major factor in his reluctance to debate the issue with competent adversaries is the well-founded fear of losing that debate. (Cue chicken sounds).
Meanwhile, James Taranto in his WSJ Best of the Web column wrote about two "journalists" responding to a remark about global warming made by Marco Rubio.
Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio came under attack this week for refusing to submit to scientific authority. "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," he said in an interview with Jonathan Karl.
Nonscientist Ruth Marcus, writing for the Washington Post, declared that Rubio's words "undermine his other assertion," namely "that he is prepared to be president." Juliet Lapidos, also lacking in scientific expertise, went so far as to assert, in a New York Times blog post, that Rubio had "disqualified himself" from the presidency.
Of all the silly things written on the subject of global warming, Marcus's and Lapidos's offerings are surely among the most recent. Apart from that they're entirely typical of the genre of global-warmist opinion journalism, in which ignorant journalists taunt politicians for their ignorance but have no argument beyond an appeal to authority.
...As Michael Gerson puts it in the Washington Post: "Our intuitions are useless here. The only possible answers come from science. And for non-scientists, this requires a modicum of trust in the scientific enterprise."
Do you see the subtle problem with Gerson's formulation? The injunction, have trust after tossing aside your intuition is at best a contradiction in terms, at worst a con.
This columnist (Taranto) is probably as unqualified as Marcus or Lapidos to evaluate the scientific merits of global warmism. But because we distrust climate scientists, we're with Rubio in being inclined to think it's a bill of goods. The trouble for global-warmist journalists like Marcus and Lapidos is that an appeal to the authority of a distrusted source undermines rather than strengthens one's argument.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Mainstream America is generally unaware that a potentially significant libel case is making its way through the courts. Mark Steyn has been involved for the past year and a half in litigation with Michael Mann, originator of the discredited "hockey stick" depiction of global warming. Some people familiar with the case, have labeled it, "The Trial Of The Century", perhaps facetiously, or perhaps not, considering the far-reaching negative implications a verdict in favor of Mann would have on free speech and open inquiry.
Mann is suing Steyn for making the comment, "Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent 'hockey stick' graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus," the offending terms apparently being "fraudulent" and "tree-ring circus". Mann is also suing National Review, the magazine in which Steyn's comment appeared and Rand Simberg of the Competitive Enterprise Institute who made the more inflammatory (though still Constitutionally protected) comment, “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet." Mann is, and Sandusky was, employed by Penn State University.
Steyn contends, correctly, that the prevailing issue in the case should be free speech - whether the First Amendment means what it says and gives him the right to criticize Mann. As Objectivist commentator (i.e. - Ayn Randian) Robert Tracinski has pointed out in taunting fashion, seemingly daring Mann to sue him --
It is libel to maliciously fabricate facts about someone. (It is not libel to erroneously report a false fact, so long as you did so with good faith reason to believe that it was true, though you are required to issue a correction.) But you are free to give whatever evaluation of the facts you like, including a negative evaluation of another person's ideas, thinking method, and character. It is legal for me (Tracinski), for example, to say that Michael Mann is a liar, if I don't believe that his erroneous scientific conclusions are the product of honest error. It is also legal for me to say that he is a coward and a liar, for hiding behind libel laws in an attempt to suppress criticism.
Charles C.W. Cooke in a National Review analysis of the case writes,
As a seminal Supreme Court case, New York Times v. Sullivan, outlined in 1964, using the law of libel to drag journalists into court for expressing their sincere views on matters of major public importance is entirely inconsistent with our “national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open.” Inevitably, a culture that prizes free expression will find its discourse marked by “vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks.” But, as Justice Brandeis wrote nearly 90 years ago in Whitney v. California, “the remedy to be applied” for speech that some may deem offensive “is more speech, not enforced silence.” This is no less true in the realm of scientific inquiry, in which no authority can claim a monopoly on the truth. The very purpose of the scientific enterprise is the pursuit of knowledge, and uninhibited debate is the means by which that knowledge is pursued.
The Constitutional right to criticize allows for making statements that are true - "Barack Obama is an indolent, mendacious, dull-witted, anti-American Marxist" - but it also extends to statements that are false as well - "George W. Bush is a war criminal," "Clarence Thomas is an Uncle Tom," as long as those statements don't contradict concrete, provable facts. Daily Beast blogger, Andrew Sullivan, carried on a multi year crusade claiming that it was Bristol Palin who was actually the mother of Sarah Palin's daughter Trig. He was free to pull this idea out of his lower intestine as long as he believed it to be true and as long as Palin didn't bother to prove it untrue. If she did, Sullivan's fantasy would qualify as true slander. But in Mann's case, as Cooke points out,
When the merits of a libel claim implicate contested questions of science and statistical methodology, judges and juries are so ill suited to pronounce a verdict that allowing the public authority to have the final say is inconsistent with the very concept of free inquiry.
In bringing his suit, Mann is claiming that Steyn is not entitled to express his beliefs regarding "contested questions of science and statistical methodology". Tracinski equates Mann's position with that of Bill Murray's in "Ghostbusters" - "Back off man. I'm a scientist".
It should be noted that Mann doesn't believe that immunity from criticism extends to scientists who hold positions antithetical to his. Dr. Judith Curry is chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Despite being impeccably credentialed, she was labeled with the hashtag #AntiScience (among other insults) by Mann because of her skepticism regarding man made global warming. Curry was urged to sue Mann for slander. She responded,
Many people have urged me to sue Mann; I can’t be bothered and I don’t have money to throw away on such stuff (The (sic) National Review has spent a half million already on this case?). Further, I would like to stand up for Michael Mann’s right to make insulting and defamatory tweets, statements in op-eds, etc. As an American, I am pretty attached to the right to free speech.
She added - -
On a complex political and scientific subject like climate change that is hotly debated, of course the rhetoric will get heated. But if climate scientists participate in insulting scientists and other public persons in the climate debate, then this drags climate science into the mud. If mud must be slung, leave the mud slinging to journalists and advocacy groups. Michael Mann is the chief climate science practitioner of insulting and making personal attacks on other scientists that disagree with him. As such he has polluted the atmosphere of climate science and brought notoriety and dishonor to climate science.
Commenting on Mann's inconsistency and hypocrisy, Cooke writes,
Linguistically, Mann exhibits an approach that is best described as “hyperbole for me but not for thee.” Apparently, the two terms that prompted his present litigiousness were “fraudulent” and “intellectually bogus” — a pair of judgments that his legal team contend to be beyond the pale of lawful discourse regarding his work on climate change. But Mann himself has used these terms liberally when it has suited him. In a Mother Jones interview from 2005, he assured his readers that, “as it plays out in the peer-reviewed literature, it will soon be evident that many of the claims made by the contrarians [i.e., skeptics of the global-warming hypothesis] were fraudulent.” Likewise, in his book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Mann hoped that “those who have funded or otherwise participated in the fraudulent denial of climate change” will be held “accountable.” “Bogus” got a good airing, too. Journalists who do not meet Mann’s approval were charged collectively with being “willing to act as little more than stenographers for the constant stream of bogus allegations being fed them”; Glenn Beck was accused of forwarding “a litany of bogus allegations”; and it was suggested that Congress would not care were it to learn that its conclusions were “based on a bogus analysis.”
It's ironic that if by some perversion of justice Mann wins his case, the precedent he sets would open him up to lawsuits from critics that he has "defamed".
Steyn and his lawyers are not content to only defend his Constitutional right to criticize Mann. They're also fighting the lawsuit on another front as well, undertaking to show that the word "fraudulent" isn't merely a legitimate rhetorical device but that Mann is a fraud in a scientific sense as well.
Steyn has posted on his blogsite two graphs (see below). The first one, submitted by Mann, shows five sets of temperature data plotted against time. Note that one of these sets, the green line which depicts tree ring data, abruptly stops, "buried in a tangle of competing spaghetti" as Steyn puts it. What Mann did was "amputate" the data at the 1961 point. He did this so it wouldn't show that the line turned sharply downward after this point (2nd graph).
Climate scientist and Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) member Dr. John Christy explains the motivation behind Mann's alteration --
In our Sept. 1999 meeting (Arusha, Tanzania) we were shown a plot containing more temperature curves than just the Hockey Stick including one from K. Briffa that diverged significantly from the others, showing a sharp cooling trend after 1960. It raised the obvious problem that if tree rings were not detecting the modern warming trend, they might also have missed comparable warming episodes in the past. In other words, absence of the Medieval warming in the Hockey Stick graph might simply mean tree ring proxies are unreliable, not that the climate really was relatively cooler.
The tree ring data, which was the basis of Mann's hockey stick graph, was shown to be unreliable - it indicates a global temperature drop since 1961, which hasn't happened - so Mann simply deleted the portion that inconveniently undermined his theory. If what he did wasn't fraud, then there's no such thing. His deceit was blatant and crude and audacious. It's reasonable to conclude that Mann included extraneous plottings merely to obscure the fact that he chopped off the tree ring data. Remarkably, this travesty of a case hasn't yet been laughed out of court. Equally remarkable is that Mann remains employed as a scientist at Penn State University.
As a former research chemist, if it had been discovered that I had deliberately removed or otherwise altered data to achieve a desired outcome, I'd have been fired on the spot and my career as a scientist would have been over. There's apparently an infinitely greater tolerance for deception when the deceiver is a climate change alarmist.
Christy again --
Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author [Michael Mann] working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another's result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data.
So why is Mann vs. Steyn still an active case? Steyn blames the mammoth U.S. legal industry. He quotes his former boss, Conrad Black.
The US has 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated people, and 50 percent of the world’s lawyers, who invoice almost 10 percent of US GDP (around $1.4 trillion annually).
Such a leviathan requires constant feeding.
Steyn is confident of prevailing if the case goes to trial, which he hopes it will. He has continued to defiantly derogate Mann, titling his latest blog entry, "Michael E Mann: Liar, Cheat, Falsifier and Fraud". This is probably not wise as a legal strategy but it does demonstrate Steyn's courage and conviction.
Dr. Mann will be on the witness stand under oath, and the lies that went unchallenged in the Big Climate echo chamber will not prove so easy to get away with. I didn't seek this battle with this disreputable man. But, when it's over, I hope that those who work in this field will once again be free to go where the science leads.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Bill Whittle is, in the best sense of the term, a gifted performer. If his politics veered left he'd be a Comedy Central prime-time TV star or he'd host a late night network talk show. As it is, he's virtually unknown to mainstream America.
Entertaining and funny, very funny, Whittle communicates ideas, very good ideas, intelligently and with conviction. He's the most effective conservative polemicist there is, certainly better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or even Ann Coulter. His delivery is smooth as glass and he can do it without a teleprompter, unlike you know who.
Compare any of Whittle's scriptless speeches with those of Obama's. It's like Michael Jordan vs. Wayne Molis (Only die-hard 1960s Knicks fans will get that reference). And Obama is supposed to be the great orator of our time. Really.
Actually, he's lost without his teleprompter. Here he is speaking without his crutch a few weeks ago at the University of Michigan. This is a friendly crowd obviously, laughing even at the president's awful attempts at humor.
Despite his rapport with the audience, Obama is slow and hesitant, pausing at length as he tries to think of his next line. His ineptitude as a speaker (as well as in other, more vital areas) is the result of, as Whittle puts it, a third rate mind and a fourth rate work ethic.
In contrast watch Bill Whittle speaking. The situations linked below are similar to the one involving Obama - expressing ideological talking points to an audience favorably disposed to hearing them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g5hy86H4FQ - part one
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KojlQG8kelQ - part two
Whittle is also excellent at making concise arguments on specific issues, for example, on the poor in America, the Trayvon Martin case and wealth creation. One of Whittle's videos, his disdainful attack on the "occupy movement", has generated more than 2.5 million hits.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Three excellent articles ridiculing leftist orthodoxy.
Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain, with a lengthy essay on "climate change" alarmism and the damage it causes. Lawson was a featured contributor to "The Great Global Warming Swindle" a 2007 BBC documentary.* (Somehow the film got past the censors at the Bolshevik Broadcasting Company).
Tal Fortgang, a conservative (!) undergraduate at Princeton University with an article written for the Princeton Tory, (it's gratifying that there is such a thing), denouncing the blatantly racist left wing concept of "white male privilege". The piece, which details Fortgang's personal history and experience, was compelling enough for Time magazine to reprint it.
And urban scene commentator and social critic Heather MacDonald analyzes the charge that there is a "rape epidemic" on college campuses. MacDonald celebrates that the radical feminism nurtured by the most "progressive" academic institutions has come back to bite them.
*For a much more entertaining and in some ways more effective debunking of CC fanaticism, watch this Penn and Teller video.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
A little over a year ago, Conrad Black wrote an article exposing the deceitful and unscrupulous journalistic tactics utilized by Bob Woodward, especially with regards to his reporting on the Watergate affair. Black argued that Woodward, along with partner Carl Bernstein and boss Ben Bradlee, caused much damage to the country with his self-promoting crusade to discredit and demonize Richard Nixon.
Like the recitation of Deep Throat’s ulcerous sour grapes, (Woodward's biography of John Belushi) is a mere chronicle. There is no editing, no overview, no subtlety, no analysis, just a fictional morality play, by a slanted, strident scold. Dan Aykroyd called it “exploitative, pulp trash.” At one point, Belushi’s manager said, apparently jokingly, “It made you think Nixon might be innocent.”
Bingo. Let us alight on that forbidden planet.
Article I of the impeachment of Richard Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 held that Nixon “had made it his policy” and acted “directly and personally through his close subordinates and agents, to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of the [Watergate break-in], to cover up, to protect, and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.” In fact, he had authorized staff to suggest to the director and deputy director of the CIA (Richard Helms and Vernon Walters) an intervention by the CIA with the FBI, and had declined to pursue the matter when the CIA officials said they would do so only if given a presidential order. He also authorized payment of the Watergate defendants’ legal and personal expenses by his reelection committee, but there was only the flimsiest evidence that this was in exchange for altered testimony.
Article II of impeachment claimed Nixon had “endeavored” to misuse the IRS (not that he had actually done so, as some of his predecessors had*), had not fulfilled his oath to uphold the Constitution, and had violated the constitutional rights of citizens. Article III of impeachment charged Nixon with impeding impeachment proceedings by non-compliance with eight Judiciary Committee subpoenas for 147 tapes of White House conversations. All the Democrats voted for these three articles and half the Republicans for the first two. Nixon’s handling of Watergate was sleazy and uncharacteristically inept, but the first article was a stretch, and the second and third were an outrage. But such was the sense of presidenticidal righteousness confected by the Woodward-Bernstein revelations and their media echo chamber that Richard Nixon resigned. Thus ended an administration that must be ranked — with Lincoln’s time in office, Washington’s first term, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first and third terms — as one of the most successful presidencies in American history.** Woodward, Bernstein, Bradlee, and others have jubilated about it ever since.
*And as the current administration has. **My emphasis.
Whether or not Nixon deserved to be hounded from office, his alleged misdeeds are trivial compared to the current administration's crimes involving Benghazi.
At worst, (and Black disputes this), Nixon sought to cover up a crime, the commission of which caused no loss of life and one that he had nothing to do with - the break in of the Watergate Hotel by low level operatives of his campaign committee. Compare this to the multifaceted transgressions of the Obama administration concerning Benghazi.
1) The unexplained placement of a diplomatic outpost, dense with CIA personnel, in a dangerous, politically unstable location. One theory is that Secretary of State Clinton was attempting to buy back RPGs that the administration had provided to terrorist militants in their fight to depose Moammar Khadafy. (But hey, "What difference does it make?")
2) The failure to provide adequate security for the outpost even after the British Ambassador was attacked in June and the British Embassy staffs were withdrawn. The Red Cross Headquarters had also been attacked around the same time and that office and its personnel were also withdrawn. Ambassador Christopher Stevens himself had warned of “Islamic extremism” and displays of “the Al-Qaeda flag” and of the inadequate security measures in place three months before the fatal attack that took his life. Security levels were actually reduced in the months leading up to the attack and these reductions were approved by Secretary Clinton. (Again, "What difference does it make?")
3) The failure to respond to the attack as it was occurring. Former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty fought bravely for eight hours in a desperate attempt to hold off al-Qaeda linked militants deploying vastly superior firepower. A Military Special Forces Team could have been at the site within two hours. Especially infuriating was the revelation that Woods and Doherty had laser pinpointed, for arriving American forces, the position of the enemy firing the mortars that ultimately killed them. Those forces never arrived.
4) President Obama's failure to explain where he was and what he was doing during the attack. We know he didn't pose for publicity photographs as he had during the bin Laden raid. Was he already planning the coverup? (With the attack in progress, Obama had a lengthy phone conversation with Hillary Clinton, immediately after which Clinton made the first reference to the phony story about the anti-Islam video - Repeat, "What difference does it make?"). Did Obama retreat to his home theater to catch up on his extensive TV viewing itinerary or retire early to get ready for a campaign stop in Las Vegas the next day? We don't know.
And perhaps worst of all.
5) The coverup. Faced with its abysmal failures in points 1-3, the administration sought to conceal its ineptitude with an outrageous lie - that the attack was prompted by an obscure video critical of Islam. This lie was perpetuated for weeks after the attack by senior administration officials including U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Clinton and Obama. Rice went on five Sunday news programs to promote the lie. No one knows who told her to do this. No one seems to care enough to ask. For her mendacity in the cause of helping the Obama re-election campaign, Rice was promoted to National Security Advisor. Clinton, most shamefully, espoused the lie in the presence of grieving relatives of the dead Americans during the eulogy of her "friend" "Chris", two days after the attack when the caskets were received back in the U.S. (Once more, "What difference does it make?") Characteristically, Obama did his dissembling in non-serious venues - on the David Letterman show and at the U.N. Described by National Review editor Rich Lowry as "the first victim of Sharia law in America", video producer Mark Bassely Youssef (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), was arrested (ostensibly for a parole violation) and kept in prison for nearly a year. Even if the video was responsible, there is no justification for the cowardice exhibited by the administration in caving to Islamists demanding subservience to their fascist ideology. So says the First Amendment.
6) Top Obama administration officials vowed immediately after Benghazi that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. A year and a half after the attack, the only individual punished has been Youssef. The actual perpetrators, members of the terrorist groups Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Ansar al-Sharia in Derna are known and walk the streets freely and defiantly. One of the ringleaders, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has openly mocked the American response. That there have been no apprehensions (never mind assassinations) is due to Eric Holder's absurd insistence on trying foreign terrorists in the U.S. legal system with its requirement for jury trial standards of evidence.
Nixon was threatened with impeachment for his alleged involvement in covering up a crime. His motivation was to avoid the effect the bad publicity a botched burglary attempt by operatives associated with his campaign would have on his re-election chances.
Obama's cover up was motivated by a similar concern - the bad PR effect a terrorist attack would have on his campaign. Unlike Nixon, he was responsible for the crimes he was trying to cover up. Obama had promoted the fiction that the terrorist threat from al-Queda and its affiliates had died along with bin Laden. His failure to provide adequate security for the Benghazi consulate, his failure to fulfill his constitutional duty to protect Americans under attack, and his dishonesty regarding the reason for the attack were all driven by the need to protect his re-election campaign from negative publicity.
The death of four Americans, including the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in 33 years, was a direct result of Obama's failures. Those failures also diminished our global credibility. Khadafy's successor, the moderate Libyan leader, Mohammed Magariaf had promptly and forcefully condemned the Sept 11, 2012 attack as the well-planned terrorist assault it was. As Andrew McCarthy has noted, Magariaf was undermined by Obama's "the video made 'em do it" lie. Islamic extremists are also now aware of the emptiness of Obama's vow to respond to terror attacks directed at Americans at home or abroad. They know that the present administration will countenance almost any outrage as long as "oppressed" groups can claim an instigating factor (offensive cartoons, videos, commentary). And they know they needn't fear relentless manhunts in the absence of iron-clad evidence.
In contrast, it was Nixon's removal from office, not his alleged misdemeanors, that had destructive and lingering after effects. Conrad Black again -
There were not grounds to remove Nixon from office, shabby and neurotic though the tone of the administration’s response to its enemies often was. What occurred was a tragedy that wounded the country and the presidency and facilitated the Democratic desertion of the anti-Communists of Indochina — which led to the massacres of the South Vietnamese resisters, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and the Boat People.
Finally, a prediction. Trey Gowdy, who's been chosen to lead the new House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, will burnish his credentials during the proceedings to such an extent that he will instantly become a serious 2016 presidential contender. Whether he gets the nomination or not is another story. Gowdy is brilliant, but he looks and sounds like a Confederate colonel. Not an appealing characteristic in a presidential candidate.
Monday, May 5, 2014
One example from a WSJ editorial today.
"'I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate," (Warren Buffett) said. "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit.'
Think about that one. Mr. Buffett says it makes no economic sense to build wind farms without a tax credit, which he gladly uses to reduce his company's tax payments to the Treasury. So political favors for the wind industry induce a leading U.S. company to misallocate its scarce investment dollars for an uneconomic purpose. Berkshire and its billionaire shareholder get a tax break and the feds get less revenue, which must be made up by raising tax rates on millions of other Americans who are much less well-heeled than Mr. Buffett.
This is precisely the kind of tax favoritism for the wealthy that Mr. Romney's tax reform would have reduced, and that other tax reformers want to stop. Too bad Mr. Buffett didn't share this rule with voters in 2012."