- If you read one thing today, make sure it's this piece from Peter Wallison in the Wall Street Journal. If you thought the housing bubble was a bad thing, consider this money quote: New research by Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer for Fannie Mae and a housing expert, has found that from the time Fannie and Freddie began buying risky loans as early as 1993, they routinely misrepresented the mortgages they were acquiring, reporting them as prime when they had characteristics that made them clearly subprime or Alt-A. Alt-A loans, just so you know, are loans that lack sufficient documentation to use standard underwriting or have a very low down payment, or both. They are usually the leading candidates to default. There's a lot of them still out there. And we're on the hook for a lot of money, kids.
- The new meme we're seeing is that President Obama is being held to much greater scrutiny than his predecessor Chimpy McHitlerburton over homeland security issues. And it's not fair, doncha know. Funny, I thought Barack Obama wanted this job.
- Rush Limbaugh is in the hospital in Hawaii after suffering chest pains yesterday. As you can see from the comment section of the article, he has the well wishes of America. Well, at least some of America.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Watch your mouth, son. I hear ya knockin', though.
Now that most of the dumb bowl games, like the Stalingrad Bowl, are just a dim, pointless memory, let's actually pick some bowl games that people might care about. We'll save the BCS Championship Game for next week, though. Oh, one other thing: even though we promised to only pay attention to bowl games that people care about, we'll pick the Insight Bowl, too.
Insight Bowl: Minnesota Golden Brewsters (-2 1/2) vs. Iowa State Cyclones. Auntie Em! It's a twista! It's a twista! Dorothy! Come into the house and watch a couple of really bad teams play in a meaningless bowl game! It's twisted! But do you know what's really twisted? Tim Brewster. In his very first press conference, he proved he was a world-class blowhard. I was only 11 at the time and I could figure that one out! Anyway, I think the Brew Crew should pull this one out, just to prove how pointless it is. Gopher Nation 60, It's a Twista 10.
Wow, if you're that cynical when you're 14, I hate to imagine what we'll be seeing in a few years, Seabiscuit. But you're right -- this game is pretty much a joke. The Gophers are profoundly mediocre and Iowa State is, too. But at least the Gopher alums get a trip down to the desert. That's something. I'll pick the Gophers, too. Minnesota 24, Iowa State 21.
Outback Bowl: Au-barn War Eagle!!! (-7 1/2) vs. Northwestern Wildcat Offense. The only time I saw Au-barn was against the Crimson Tide, where they almost beat the Tide and showed Mark "I Struck the Heisman Pose" Ingram a thing or two. Northwestern's best win was when they beat the Badgers in Evanston. This ain't Evanston -- this is Tampa Bay, a noted shipping port, and the Cats will find out that their ship has sailed. War Eagle!!! 90, Northwestern 7.
Uh, no. In fact, I don't even think that Auburn is going to win the game. They are a pretty ordinary SEC team and while that usually is recommendation enough, it won't be this time. I really like the way Northwestern spreads the field and makes teams defend them. I would remind Grasshopper that the Wildcats also went into Iowa City and won. They won't be afraid of Auburn. Northwestern 31, Auburn 24.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Black Country Woman, Led Zeppelin
Fair, Ben Folds Five
Red Barchetta, Rush
Paint it Black, Rolling Stones
Should I Stay or Should I Go, The Clash
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler), Marvin Gaye
Everything Merges With the Night, Brian Eno
Same Old Scene, Roxy Music
Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love, They Might Be Giants
Jesus Just Left Chicago, ZZ Top
- All over Chicagoland and elsewhere, Bears fans are wondering where this #6 guy was all year. My son the prognosticator has given Jay Cutler much grief this year, but you have to give Cutler a lot of credit; he played a beautiful game.
- I don't know if this game is enough to save Lovie Smith's job in Chicago, but I would say this: I don't know that da Bearz would find a better coach than the one they have now. If the Bears ownership wants to know where the problems lie in the organization, I'd suggest they consult a mirror.
- The old saw goes that it doesn't matter who you play as much as when you play them. The Vikings are circling the bowl now because they are finally getting hit with the injuries that other teams faced earlier in the year. It's quite clear that Antoine Winfield has not recovered from his earlier foot injury; he got beat badly on the last touchdown and on a few other plays, which is something I've not seen happen before. I don't know why Pat Williams didn't play, but without his presence in the middle the Viking pash rush wasn't much of a factor. Much commentary will be made about Adrian Peterson's fumble or other offensive failings early on, but the bottom line is that the Vikings defense was the problem last night.
- Having said that, the Vikings are in a bad spot because they no longer have the advantage on either line. Bryant McKinnie looks like a shadow of himself and Anthony Herrera was pretty much awful last night. Every team left in the NFC playoffs has at least one top-notch pass rusher on the team. If the Vikings don't get things fixed on the offensive line, they won't win.
- So the Saints get beat in their own house by Tampa Freaking Bay and the Vikings can't close the deal. So we can't figure much of anything, can we? Which leads to the question --who do you like in the playoffs? Based on the way the teams are playing now, you could make a case for or against any of the six NFC teams that will be in the playoffs getting to the Super Bowl. Based on what I've seen, the best team right now is probably the Eagles, but I think they could be beaten by any of the other teams. One thing for sure -- I'm glad that I don't work at one of the Vegas sports books, because it's awfully hard to rank these teams.
- One other scenario that now is open: the Vikings could end up hosting my beloved Packers in the first round. That could be a festival of hype, doncha think?
Monday, December 28, 2009
Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (+3 1/2) vs. The U, in Orlando, FLA. You'll pardon us for ignoring the prestigious Meineke Car Care Bowl and the Stalingrad Bowl, but we'll pick it up here for this game, since it involves a team we actually care about. Meanwhile, I understand that Decrepit needs extra time to thoroughly analyze the Insight Bowl, in all its glory, because as we all know Decrepit is thoroughly lacking in insight. But anyway, let's talk about this game. I don't pay a lot of attention to the ACC, but I do that "the U" (a/k/a Miami for those of you who don't speak gangsta) is 9-3 and features quarterback Jacory Harris, who I know nothing about, but I really like saying Jacory Harris. Anyway, I wonder if the Miami defense can stop big John Clay. I guess we'll find out. Bucky Badger 42, Gansta U. 24.
Hmmm. You have much confidence in the Badgers, young fella. Wish I were as confident as you are. The Miami Hurricanes are not as fearsome as they once were, and the Badgers are much better than they were when these two schools played back in 1989. Much has changed since then. The key will be this: can the Badger defense frustrate the talented Mr. Harris and cause him to make mistakes. The guess here is that they will, but that the very fast Miami defense will frustrate the big hogs on the Badger offensive line. It's going to be more low-scoring than the absurd over/under (58). I'm being a shameless fan here and going with the Badgers, against my better judgment. Wisconsin 24, Miami 21.
We'll be back later with picks of the Insight Bowl and all the other Big Ten tilts, and we might throw in a few other choice games, because we are feeling the HYYYYYPPPPE! Ben out!
Still, I wonder, why are we only finding out about Mark Dayton's, ahem, issues now? Scott Johnson at Powerline is wondering, too. He shares an interesting personal anecdote:
At a charity auction in 1994 or so I won the opportunity to have Dayton take me and a friend to lunch at the Minneapolis Club. The lunch occurred toward the end of Dayton's tenure as the Minnesota state auditor. At lunch we argued politics and found nothing on which to agree. The lunch was extremely unpleasant because Dayton seemed to be unable to disagree agreeably. Dayton nevertheless put me on his Christmas card list for roughly the next five years.
Over those five years Dayton used his Christmas cards to discuss the dissolution of his two marriages, his entry into rehabilitation for alcoholism and related therapy issues. His psychiatric challenges were no secret to the many people on Dayton's Christmas card list, including virtual strangers like me.
Now, that's news we could have used, right? If you'll recall, Dayton was elected to the United States Senate in 2000 and served one highly erratic term there. He is best remembered for closing his office in 2004 because of terror threats that he perceived. No one else did, of course.
What’s less speculative is the Twin Cities’ media’s disingenuity in covering the “story”. This is a media market where every aspect of Michele Bachmann’s personal and legislative lives, from her speeches to her choice draperies to the supposed inner workings of her marriage and family are virtually a cottage industry among the local mainstream (to say nothing of lefty “alternative”) media. It’s a place where the antics of Morgan Grams became front-page news at precisely the moment they had to be to affect his father Rod’s defense of his Senate seat against Dayton (even though Grams hadn’t had custody of the boy in many years). Where misinformation about Norm Coleman’s apartment was unquestioningly accepted and reprinted during the past Senate race. Business connections between GOP stalwart Tim Commers and Governor Pawlenty and then-State Auditor and current GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat Anderson got pored over by everthing the Twin Cities media had, looking for a scandal they just couldn’t quite find.Mitch is right to chronicle such things, even though he and I both realize that complaining about media bias is ultimately a mug's game. Things aren't going to change because there's no incentive for the local media to change. The Lori Sturdevants of the world are going to carry water for the DFL, even as their sinecures crumble around them. The local reporters are going to continue retailing whatever nonsense the Dump Bachmann people put out there. It's who they are and what they do.
What strikes me as odd is this: in 2000, Dayton had credible DFL opposition in the primary, including tort lawyer supremo Mike Ciresi and state official Rebecca Yanisch, who could have been Amy Klobuchar with a 6-year head start. So why wasn't Dayton vetted back then? I'm geniunely curious.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Speaking of explosives, as you've likely heard, we came perilously close to having a terrorist blow a plane out of the sky on Christmas Day. It appears that the terrorist received training and special undergarments in Yemen.
In Yemen, it appears what comes between someone and their Calvins is underwear laced with PETN.
So what to do about those Yemenis currently held at evil, awful Gitmo? Well, like the movie title says, it's complicated, as Politico reports:
Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay.Politico, ever the master of euphemism, is referring to the dude's underwear. Yeah, I suppose you don't want to send 80 Yemeni commandoes who were all active in fighting the Great Satan back to the place where they make the Calvin Klein Semtex line of exploding underwear.
Since Yemenis represent almost half of the roughly 200 remaining prisoners at Gitmo, new hurdles to their resettlement could spell more trouble for President Barack Obama’s plan to close the island prison while transferring a limited number of detainees to a prison in the U.S. Six Yemeni nationals were returned home earlier this month, and officials hoped more transfers would follow.
I know, I know, Gitmo is doubleplus ungood evil evil !!!ELEVENT!Y! evil because Darth Chaney and Chimpy McHitlerburton were fond of using it to house the innocent victims of their corrupt regime and whatnot. But may I ask an impertinent question? Why the hell would you send anyone to Yemen?
The White House had no comment on how Abdulmutallab’s history might impact future prisoner releases or official dealings with Yemen.
Axelrod! Where are my focus group results?
However, U.S. officials have worked intensely in recent months to support the government of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and to obtain assurances that Yemenis returned home would not take part in violence.
Well, as long as we have assurances, it'll be okay, then. Right?
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Jesus is here. Be not afraid. And Merry Christmas to you.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
If you’re going to tell me that carbon dioxide is an unparalleled catastrophe for this planet, you’ve got to be willing to demonstrate your sincerity by, you know, endorsing other forms of energy. Otherwise, I’m inclined to think you’re a lying opportunist or something.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Boise State (from Night Writer)
Cal Poly (from a wise-guy anonymous commenter, likely from the Fox River Valley)
I'm guessing the Cal Poly suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, so we'll set it aside.
Here's what I think.
First, the Big Ten is rightly proud of its academics. It is the only major conference in which every member school is also a member of the Association of American Universities, a consortium of the top research universities in the country. I would be shocked if the Big Ten chose any school that is not also an AAU member. As a result, I am highly confident that Night Writer's bold suggestion of Boise State will have zero chance of going forward.
So if we look at the rest of the schools on the initial list, we see that all of the schools except Notre Dame and Kentucky are AAU schools. Notre Dame is a special case but has already rejected membership in the Big Ten, so I do not think it will be offered a second chance. It's difficult to see the advantage of bringing Kentucky into the league, either. So the list would be as follows:
Pittsburgh (Big East)
Rutgers (Big East)
Syracuse (Big East)
Iowa State (Big XII)
Missouri (Big XII)
Nebraska (Big XII)
Texas (Big XII)
Kansas (Big XII)
I would also suggest three other AAU members who might fit, all from the ACC:
What I suspect is this: the Big Ten would like to add a school that fits academically. It also wouldn't mind hurting one of its rival conferences by taking away a prominent school. But ultimately this is about one thing: football.
A few weeks back, the nation's attention was focused on the SEC and Big XII championship games. These games determined the participants in the BCS championship game. The Big Ten's season was over a month ago.
While the Big Ten cherishes its academic standards, it also wants to win championships. Adding the right team would allow the conference to have a championship game and to get into the mix for the BCS. And that is why the teams on the list are the most likely candidates to join. But which one? I'll address that tomorrow.
First, let's see what Nelson got:
Changes for Sen. Ben Nelson (Nebraska)Other courtesans scored big, too:
Nelson secured more than just 100% federal funding for Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion, the list of “sweeteners” (also called the “Cornhusker kickback” by Senate Republicans) includes:
• An exemption from the insurance tax for Nebraska non-profit insurers, with language written in a way that only applies to Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company and Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans (BCBS) of Nebraska (and Michigan). According to news reports, Nelson’s office states that BCBS “would pay between $15 million and $20 million less in fees under the Senate bill than it would have without a change.”
• An exemption from taxes for Medicare supplemental (“Medigap”) insurance providers. Specifically, Mutual of Omaha, will not have to pay taxes on Medigap insurance, while reports also indicate that this tax break will be extended to other companies.
• Some changes requested by Nelson would benefit people across the country, such as the inflation adjustment to the $2,500 cap on tax-exempt contributions to Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs) and exemptions for nearly 55 physician-owned hospitals that have a provider agreement to participate in Medicare by August 1, 2010 (pushed back from February 1, 2010).
Changes for Sen. Levin (Michigan)
• According to reports, Like Nelson, Levin sought an exemption from the $6 billion annual fee for non-profits, as non-profit insurers make up 76% of industry profits, but drew opposition from liberals. Ultimately, Levin got an exemption from the insurance tax for Michigan non-profit insurers, with language written in a way that applies to Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans (BCBS) of Michigan (and Nebraska).
• Furthermore, the amendment changes the extension of section 508 hospital provisions so that hospitals in Michigan (as well as Connecticut) have the option to benefit under them if it means higher payments.
Changes for Sen. Landrieu (Louisiana):
• Landrieu was one of the first Senators to secure a sweetheart deal, aptly nicknamed the “Louisiana Purchase”; she traded her support for bringing the bill to the floor for a $300 million increase in Medicaid funding for Louisiana. The underlying bill was cryptically written to increase federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster” during the past 7 years that have been declared a “major disaster area” — and is meant to replenish the decrease in federal money resulting from an “abnormally inflated” per capita income in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. This was due to an influx of insurance dollars, federal grants and increased labor wages.
Changes for Sen. Sanders (Vermont):Meanwhile, Max Baucus, Reid's traffic cop who was most recently noted for his dalliance with a staffer, got a little something for the effort, too:
In addition the Vermont FMAP increase, the amendment includes a provision pushed by Sanders to provide an additional $10 billion in funding for community health centers and the National Health Services Corps which he argues would provide primary care to 25 million more people.
Changes for Sen. Bill Nelson (Florida)
As noted above, Nelson was able to secure a deal to keep Medicare Advantage plans enrollees in Florida grandfathered in. Notably, when McCain tried to offer an amendment to allow all enrollees to be grandfathered in, 57 Democrats voted against it.
Changes for Hawaii: The Manager’s Amendment singles out Hawaii as the only state to receive a Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) extension.
Changes for Sen. Lieberman (Connecticut): It amends the extension of section 508 hospital provisions so that hospitals in Connecticut (as well as Michigan) have the option to benefit under them if it means higher payments.
Changes for Sen. Dodd (Connecticut): It was a mystery until just revealed that Chris Dodd’s state will benefit from a cryptically awarded $100 million for a “Health Care Facility” at a public research university that contains a state’s sole public academic medical and dental school—criteria designed to apply to the University of Connecticut.
Changes for Sen. Baucus (Montana):Let's set aside how horribly unseemly all this is for a moment. Here's the question: if congressional courtesans from other states are getting paid, what the hell did Franken and Klobuchar get for us? Near as I can tell, all Franken got was a chance to garner the applause of the harp seals in the Netroots when he decided to gavel down Joe Lieberman. And based on the available evidence, Klobuchar got to enjoy some bean dip or something at the Obama Super Bowl party.
• Baucus secured a pilot program in the amendment to “provide innovative approaches to furnishing comprehensive, coordinated, and cost-effective care” to certain qualified individuals. A qualified individual “is an environmental exposure affected individual…who resides in or around the geographic area subject to an emergency declaration made as of June 17, 2009.” And who might these select few individuals be? Well, according to EPA, “On June 17, 2009, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a Public Health Emergency (PHE) finding at the Libby Asbestos Superfund site in northwest Montana.” This provision would help residents of Libby by allowing them to sign up for Medicare benefits.
C'mon guys -- you need to do better than that. Harry's spreading the money around. Don't just give it to him for free!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Do It Fluid, the Blackbyrds
Going Out of My Head, Luther Vandross
At Last, Etta James
Turn to Stone, Electric Light Orchestra
You Haven't Done Nothin', Stevie Wonder
Rock Steady, Aretha Frankline
Love Music, Earth Wind & Fire
Lost Highway, Hank Williams
All Strung Out, April Stevens and Nino Tempo
- Anytime something scandalous is happening, remember the most important "lesson of Watergate": Follow the money.
- So they were trying to take on that AGW thang at Copenhagen, right? Sure they were.
- And remember: when we follow the money, it's important to remember where the money is coming from. And since we're talking about money, here's the money quote:
"The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries," Zhu said, according to an audio recording of his remarks. "Double the holdings? It is definitely impossible."
"The US current account deficit is falling as residents' savings increase, so its trade turnover is falling, which means the US is supplying fewer dollars to the rest of the world," he added. "The world does not have so much money to buy more US Treasuries."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Senate Democrats said Saturday that they had closed ranks in support of legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care system, ending months of internal division and clearing a path for quick Senate passage of President Obama's top domestic policy priority.We all own it now. Even if you didn't want the government to take over health care, it's going to happen. We can vote out every single one of the scoundrels who are passing this thing, but it will survive them. And there will be no getting rid of it.
Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) secured the pivotal 60th vote after acceding to the demands of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) for tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions, along with increased federal aid for his home state and breaks for favored health-care interests.
Congratulations to those "true conservatives" who pulled the lever for Dean Barkley to teach that RINO Norm Coleman a lesson. You really showed 'em. Congratulations to the Peggy Noonans and Christopher Buckleys of the world, who had every reason to know what the result of their perdify would be. Congratuations to Doug Kmiec, who assured everyone that voting with the Democrats was the best way to preserve life. I hope you enjoy your time as Ambassador to Malta. Maybe you can stay there.
Congratulations to all of you. Elections have consequences. You now get to enjoy the consequences.
The next big growth industry? Maquiladora hospitals. And remember, you heard it here first.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
President Chavez brought the house down.
When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.
When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.
But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.
Very nice. Thrifty Scot over at Boots On noticed that our very own greener-than-thou state representative, Kate Knuth, is over in Copenhagen and has been tweeting away. One of Kate's tweets is as follows:
After days of science, policy, negotiations, and protesters, inspirational speech by Sen Kerry at #cop15 was appreciated. Now let's deliver.
We'll leave the absurd notion of an "inspirational speech by Sen Kerry" aside for the moment. Okay, Kate, I have to ask -- what, pray tell, do you want to deliver?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
So let's the play the parlor game: if you were adding one team from this list, which one would you add? And why? I have my view on the matter and I'll offer it anon, but I don't want to color the discussion. Yet.
There is a larger problem to face, though: laws that are almost impossible to understand because of how vague they are. In an excellent column, Gene Healy points out the following example:
The correct number of regulations is the smallest number that gets a good result, because hugely complicated regulations can make criminals out of people who are acting in good faith.
Michael Drebeen, a deputy solicitor general in the Obama administration, had a rough morning last Tuesday. He argued two Supreme Court cases back to back, defending a notoriously vague federal criminal statute -- and the justices worked him over vigorously.We see way too many examples of this sort of vague legislation going on and a lot of it ends up in the front of the Supreme Court. And it really hurts all of us. Read the whole thing.
The 1988 law at issue aims at public corruption and corporate misconduct, but sweeps far too broadly, criminalizing schemes to "deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."
If that language seems a little, well, intangible to you, you're not alone. Hurling hypotheticals, the justices strained to find a limiting principle that could prevent the law from covering an employee reading a racing form on the clock (Stephen Breyer) or calling in sick to go to a ballgame (Antonin Scalia). Of some 150 million workers in the United States, Breyer told Drebeen, "I think possibly 140 million of them would flunk your test."
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Chloe, Spike Jones and His City Slickers
Stomp, The Brothers Johnson
Goin' Back, The Byrds
Jamie's Cryin', Van Halen
I Gotcha, Joe Tex
Too Many Fish in the Sea, the Marvelettes
Car on a Hill, Joni Mitchell
Streams of Whiskey, The Pogues
Trampled Underfoot, Led Zeppelin
- Clive Crook in the Financial Times brings up several important points in this column, but here's the key one: "Once scientists are engaged as advocates, science is in trouble. Like intelligence agencies fitting the facts to the policy, they are no longer to be trusted. The IPCC may be serving a righteous cause, but it is not the honest broker this process needs. It has made itself a political agency – at times, a propaganda unit. All this, the public can see." Indeed, if the public chooses to. Read the whole thing.
- Speaking of honest brokers. . . during the Watergate scandal, the key admonition was to follow the money. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is a busy man. Follow the money here. And by all means, read the whole thing.
- Mitch Berg celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of one of my all-time favorite albums, the Clash's London Calling. It's amazing that we are 30 years on. And to my ears, the album hasn't aged a bit. Mitch identifies two of his favorite songs in the post. Here are two of mine.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” – Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation
“No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” – Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment
“The data doesn’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.” – Prof. Chris Folland, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research
“The models are convenient fictions that provide something very useful.” – Dr David Frame, climate modeler, Oxford University
“I believe it is appropriate to have an ‘over-representation’ of the facts on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience.” – Al Gore, Climate Change activist
“It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” – Paul Watson, ex-member of Greenpeace commenting on the secret of Greenpeace’s success
“We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis…” – David Rockefeller, Club of Rome executive member
“We are close to a time when all of humankind will envision a global agenda that encompasses a kind of Global Marshall Plan to address the causes of poverty and suffering and environmental destruction all over the earth.” – Al Gore, Earth in the Balance
“The goal now is a socialist, redistributionist society, which is nature’s proper steward and society’s only hope.” – David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth
“If we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecologically sound society under socialism. I don’t think it is possible under capitalism” – Judi Bari, principal organizer of Earth First!
“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, first Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme
“The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” – Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
“Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.” – Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” – Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!
“A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.” – Ted Turner, founder of TBS and CNN
“It’s terrible to have to say this. World population must be stabilized and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. This is so horrible to contemplate that we shouldn’t even say it.” – Jacques Cousteau, interview with the UNESCO Courier
“If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.” – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, patron of the World Wildlife Fund
“The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing.” – Christopher Manes, Earth First!
“If you haven’t given voluntary human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that the extinction of Homo sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species … Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.” – Les U. Knight, founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
“Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.” – David Brower, first Executive Director of the Sierra Club
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
First, some brief background. Keith Briffa is one of the climatologists who worked at the East Anglia CRU. He supplied much of the primary data, based on studies of tree rings from bristlecone pine trees, that form much of the rationale that led to the famous "hockey stick" model that shows a dramatic increase in global warming in recent years. Bristlecone pines are especially important, because they live for thousands of years and thus we could glean data about conditions going back to at least A.D. 1000.
There was a problem with the data, though: it was cherry-picked. This was not public knowledge for a long time, but McIntyre finally was able to go through the data here. And the problem is pretty simple: without the cherry-picked data, the assumptions about warming didn't hold up. The East Anglia CRU didn't want to release the information, despite repeated requests. McIntyre tells the story here:
CRU staunchly refused to provide the measurement data used in Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction. Science(mag) acquiesced in this refusal in connection with Osborn and Briffa 2006. While the Yamal chronology was used in a Science article, it originated with Briffa 2000 and Science(mag) took the position that the previous journal (which had a different data policy) had jurisdiction. Briffa used the chronology Briffa et al (Phil Trans B, 2008) and the Phil Trans editors finally seized the nettle, requiring Briffa to archive the data. As noted before, Briffa asked for an extension and, when I checked earlier this year, the Yamal measurement data remained unarchived. A few days ago, I noticed that the Yamal data was finally placed online. With the information finally available, this analysis has only taken a few days.As it turns out, the data did not support the hypotheses of unprecedented warming. And this was a problem for the climatologists who have been driving the narrative. And now, thanks to the e-mail trail that has emerged from the CRU, we have an idea of how the climatologists dealt with the problem. McIntyre:
If the non-robustness observed here prove out (and I’ve provided a generating script), this will have an important impact on many multiproxy studies that have relied on this study. Studies illustrated in the IPCC AR4 spaghetti graph, Wikipedia spaghetti graph or NAS Panel spaghetti graph (consult them for bibliographic refs) that use the Yamal proxy include: Briffa 2000; Mann and Jones 2003; Jones and Mann 2004; Moberg et al 2005; D’Arrigo et al 2006; Osborn and Briffa 2006; Hegerl et al 2007, plus more recently Briffa et al 2008, Kaufman et al 2009. (Note that spaghetti graph studies not included in the above list all employ strip bark bristlecone pines – some use both.)
Much recent attention has been paid to the email about the “trick” and the effort to “hide the decline”. Climate scientists have complained that this email has been taken “out of context”. In this case, I’m not sure that it’s in their interests that this email be placed in context because the context leads right back to a meeting of IPCC authors in Tanzania, raising serious questions about the role of IPCC itself in “hiding the decline” in the Briffa reconstruction.
Relevant Climategate correspondence in the period (September-October 1999) leading up to the trick email is incomplete, but, in context, is highly revealing. There was a meeting of IPCC lead authors between Sept 1-3, 1999 to consider the “zero-order draft” of the Third Assessment Report. The emails provide clear evidence that IPCC had already decided to include a proxy diagram reconstructing temperature for the past 1000 years and that a version of the proxy diagram was presented at the Tanzania meeting showing the late twentieth century decline. I now have a copy of the proxy diagram presented at this meeting (see below).
The emails show that the late 20th century decline in the Briffa reconstruction was perceived by IPCC as “diluting the message”, that “everyone in the room at IPCC” thought that the Briffa decline was a “problem” and a “potential distraction/detraction”, that this was then the “most important issue” in chapter 2 of the IPCC report and that there was “pressure” on Briffa and other authors to show a “nice tidy story” of “unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more”.
We'll discuss how this was done in the next post. Meanwhile, read McIntyre's post in full. It's long but hugely significant.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Meanwhile, as the worthies meet with furrowed brows in Copenhagen, there's a little trouble with one of their potential solutions to the issue they purport to address.
I can't speak for anyone else, but my answer is: no. It's not likely that such a conspiracy could really work. However, there are other possible explanations. Megan McArdle at the Atlantic is on the right track:
I can imagine a sort of selection bias in the grant process. I cannot imagine hundreds of scientists thinking, well, I put ten years into getting my PhD--time to spend the rest of my life faking data in order to get some grant money! One, yes. All of them, no.McArdle then turns to an example from the great physicist and popular science writer Richard Feynman:
To me, the worry is the subtler kind of bias that we indisputably know has led to scientific errors in the past.
We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It's a little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It's interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bigger than Millikan's, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.
Why didn't they discover that the new number was higher right away? It's a thing that scientists are ashamed of--this history--because it's apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan's, they thought something must be wrong--and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number closer to Millikan's value they didn't look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that.
Is that what happened in this case? It's a far more likely explanation than a massive conspiracy. McArdle:
That is the actual worrying question about CRU, and GISS, and the other scientists working on paleoclimate reconstruction: that they may all be calibrating their findings to each other. That when you get a number that looks like CRU, you don't look so hard to figure out whether it's incorrect as you do when you get a number that doesn't look like CRU--and maybe you adjust the numbers you have to look more like the other "known" datasets. There is always a way to find what you're expecting to find if you look hard enough.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
- One of the things we're supposedly going to miss when the MSM goes belly up is the objective reporting that its members provide. Take for example this measured analysis of Joe Lieberman on offer from the Washington Post: "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) has once again inserted himself into the middle of an inflamed partisan debate, raising questions about his motives, his ego and his fickle allegiance to the Democratic Party, which forgave him after he supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president." I hate it when a legislator gets involved in legislation, don't you?
- We have been assured that one of the benefits of ridding ourselves of Republican rule is that the Justice Department would cease being so politicized. Here's some evidence of that.
- I don't mind snow so much, but I just wish it wouldn't fall in my driveway or on 35W.
- Almost got through this without beating the drums on AGW again. Almost. I would like to commend to your attention this piece from Joel Kotkin that appears in Forbes. Lotsa good stuff, but here's one key observation about Barack Obama's "Science Advisor," one John Holdren:
The notion that the hoi polloi must be sacrificed to save the earth is not a new one. Paul Ehrlich, who was the mentor of President Obama's science advisor, John Holdren, laid out the defining logic in his 1968 best-seller, The Population Bomb. In this influential work, Ehrlich predicted mass starvation by the 1970s and "an age of scarcity" in key metals by the mid-1980s. Similar views were echoed by a 1972 "Limits to Growth" report issued by the Club of Rome, a global confab that enjoyed a cache similar to that of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
To deal with this looming crisis, Holdren in the 1977 book Ecoscience (co-authored with Anne and Paul Ehrlich) developed the notion of "de-development." According to Holdren, poorer countries like India and China could not be expected to work their way out of poverty since they were "foredoomed by enormous if not insurmountable economic and environmental obstacles." The only way to close "the prosperity gap" was to lower the living standards of what he labeled "over-developed" nations.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Ehrlich and Holdren don't have a great track record for predicting the future. They'd not last a minute at a Vegas sports book. So remind me again, why ought we be listening to them now?
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Shine a Little Love, Electric Light Orchestra
Message in a Bottle, Police
World Where You Live, Crowded House
You Are, You Are, Curtis Mayfield
Minneapolis, That Dog
Song for the Dumped, Ben Folds Five
Independence Day, Bruce Springsteen
Honest I Do, Spinners
Winterlong, Neil Young
I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever), Stevie Wonder
In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inadvertently posted online its entire airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.
The most sensitive parts of the 93-page Standard Operation Procedures were apparently redacted in a way that computer savvy individuals easily overcame.
The document shows sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials which experts say would make it easy for terrorists to duplicate.
Sounds like a problem, but let's look on the bright side. If having to scrap the current procedures leads to even longer lines at the airport, maybe some of the great unwashed will stop wanting to travel by air so much and just stay home, where they belong, and just reduce their carbon footprints.
And further, I'm not especially worried about governmental agents guarding information anyway; once we're all set up for that nifty new Obama Care, there's no chance that the results of my latest physical will end up on the internets. It's all good, people. It's all good.
- The moment of complete overreach has arrived -- the Environmental Protection Agency has declared that CO2 is a pollutant. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if CO2 is a pollutant, I've been polluting the air with every breath I take. And unless the enforcement agents are cyborgs, they have been too. There isn't any activity that I undertake that isn't potentially subject to regulatory enforcement now. I'd suggest that if the EPA were really concerned about setting a good example, they could have all their bureaucrats stop breathing. But that would be churlish. The good news? I suspect this move will go back to the Supreme Court and will get slapped down, even though the Supremes (perhaps) inadvertently gave this folly the green light back in 2007. But it never should have come to that.
- Meanwhile, the Branch Carbonians continue to gather in Copenhagen for a week of holy ritual and holy writ. Many of these well-appointed scolds have been arriving in Copenhagen via private jet. An excellent point made here: "Taking a private jet to a conference on stopping global warming is a bit like traveling in a sedan chair carried by indentured servants to a summit on stopping human trafficking." These folks oppose incandescent lights. They apparently don't worry too much about incandescent hypocrisy. Read the whole thing -- lotsa good one-liners, including this one: “It’s too cold to walk from the hotel to the convention on global warming. Let’s take a limo!”