Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.
"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Now, however, we have eight years of experience, including the cautionary Moussaoui tale. There are no longer any excuses; the right answer is obvious: If preventing terrorist attacks is our priority, we have to be in a law-of-war rather than a criminal-justice model.
U.S. officials are investigating a Somali man's alleged attempt to board a flight bound for Djibouti and Dubai last month carrying chemicals, liquid and a syringe in a case bearing chilling echoes of the plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
The one security precaution the government refused to consider was to require extra screening for passengers who looked like the last three-dozen terrorists to attack airplanes. Since Muslims took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, every attack on a commercial airliner has been committed by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair color, eye color and skin color. Half of them have been named Mohammed.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The right-wing terror media has labeled this an act of Islamic terrorism. Let me be clear, just because this individual’s name happens to be Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, was on a plane over a major U.S. city, tried to detonate a bomb to destroy the plane, kill all passengers aboard, including himself, has admitted that he is an Al Qaeda operative, received his explosive device and instructions in Yemen from Al Qaeda, does not automatically make him a terrorist, especially an Islamic terrorist. What we are dealing with here is a passenger-made disturbance, not to be confused with a passenger-made disaster.
We are looking at all possibilities. The passengers who subdued this gentleman, especially the white male Dutch passenger, are also persons of interest for a possible violation of Mr. M’s civil rights, especially his freedom to practice his non-Christian religion unencumbered. Nothing at this stage has been ruled out. We have myriad suspects from this flight who may or may not have been involved in a civil rights violation.
We are unsure at this point as to why this young gentleman would attempt to detonate a bomb on this flight. He has no apparent ties to the Republican Party, the military, anti-gun control groups, or various other “terrorist” organizations. We are also looking into the possibility that the lack of publicly funded single-payer health insurance plan could be an extenuating factor in Mr. M’s apparent distress.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
On President Obama’s speech in Hawaii on the averted terrorist attack
It [Abdulmutallab's arrest] means we will learn absolutely nothing. The minute he gets a lawyer and his Miranda rights, it's over.
The question people have to ask themselves is: This guy, who tries to blow up an American airplane, who is a Nigerian, who is not an American, is captured — does he have the right to remain silent or do we have the right to interrogate him in order to find out who sent him, who equipped him, who armed him, and who trained him?
It is a question of whether we're serious about this as a war or whether it's a mere, as President Obama said, [case of an] isolated extremist. He is not an isolated extremist. Obviously he is connected to al-Qaeda. Obviously he was in Yemen. Obviously there is information he has.
And the question is: Are we going to treat him the way that we're treating Khalid Sheik Mohammed with a trial and in this case a right to tell us nothing, or [do] what FDR did when the German saboteurs were captured in the United States and he ordered a secret military trial and they were executed. They had no rights.
This confusion ... starts at the top with the Obama administration. Remember, he [the president] declared at the beginning of his administration that there's no war on terror. They won't use the term.
Well, he may have called off the war on terror, but al-Qaeda has not.
The latest is what you should have expected: a state of emergency throughout the country (although some cities are still in open revolt), and many angry calls for the arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi, which would surely provoke more massive demonstrations, and perhaps even the use of weapons by the people (even today, Molotov cocktails were thrown at security forces in central Tehran). If this were a normal regime, I’d expect a cooling down period, but it isn’t, so it’s unpredictable.
Meanwhile, the Western world clicks its collective tongue and criticizes “the violence” and the lack of respect for rights of free speech and assembly, as if that were the point. Not a single western “leader” has found the nerve and the common sense to denounce the regime and call for regime change.
Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can't—or won't. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to "feel safe." The demand to satisfy that sad illusion can be met with relative ease if you pay enough people to stand around and stare significantly at the citizens' toothpaste. My impression as a frequent traveler is that intelligent Americans fail to protest at this inanity in case it is they who attract attention and end up on a no-fly list instead. Perfect.
Monday, December 28, 2009
The botched bombing — foiled by a faulty detonator and brave passengers, not by homeland security bureaucrats or any preemptive measures by intel officials
Seems to me that what this, Flight 93, and the Richard Reid incident have shown us is that the best line of defense against airplane-based terrorism is us. Alert, aware, informed passengers.
TSA, on the other hand, equates hassle with safety. For all the crap they put us through, this guy still got some sort of explosive material on the plane from Amsterdam. He was stopped by law-abiding passengers. So TSA responds to all of this by . . . announcing plans to hassle law-abiding U.S. passengers even more.
This is a critical point: Obama and Holder think it is more important to respect "the Constitutional Rights" of the bomber than it is to find out how the attack was planned and who else might be involved. The bomber should be treated as an unlawful enemy combatant. The lives of Americans are more valuable than the "rights" of terrorists.
The people now in charge of our government believe Clinton-era counterterrorism was a successful model. They start from the premise that terrorism is a crime problem to be managed, not a war to be won. Overdone "war on drugs" rhetoric aside, we don't try to "win" against (as in "defeat") law-enforcement challenges. We expect them to happen from time to time and to contain, but never completely prevent, the damage.
Here, no thanks to the government, the plane was not destoyed, and we won't get to the bottom of the larger conspiracy (enabling the likes of Napolitano to say there's no indication of a larger plot — much less one launched by an international jihadist enterprise) because the guy got to lawyer up rather than be treated like a combatant and subjected to lengthy interrogation.
What we can do is be more discriminating on who gets to fly on US aircraft to US airports, particularly on international flights. Of course that would mean paying more attention to foreign nationals. It would also mean making profiles of potential terrorists, and searching all those that fit the top profile as well as random samples of those fitting smaller probability profiles. We can do risk analysis and cost/benefit models -- but only if we allow profiling.
This one was particularly easy to spot given his association with Yemen in general and Yemen extremists in particular. Once again US authorities had enough information; and once again political correctness prevented any action. Unlike the Fort Hood murders, this politically correct failure didn't cost any lives. Next time we're unlikely to be so blessed.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period. All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.The Medieval Warm Period disappeared, as did criticism of the global warming orthodoxy. With the release of the Climategate Emails, the disappearing trick has been exposed. The glorious Medieval Warm Period will remain in the history books, perhaps with an asterisk to describe how a band of zealots once tried to make it disappear.
For what it's worth, I think it would be worth having a vigorous constitutional argument about capitalism. A free society is only free because its people, rather than its government, are sovereign, and it only needs a Constitution to protect individual liberty from encroachment by the government. As Prof. Epstein demonstrates, that is what our Constitution does. But this is the antithesis of President Obama's vision of a new Constitution (or a new Bill of Rights) that proclaims what government must do for you rather than what it cannot do to you. Alas, as I've discussed before, while that sounds admirable it is monstrous, since government has nothing to give — it can do for one only by taking from another. If that is to be our system, we are no longer free.
Healthcare is not and has never been a "right." Why are we so afraid to say that? When the other side says, "Healthcare is a right," I want to say, "What healthcare? Abortion? Botox? 'Preventive' care?" What other "rights" do you have that I am required to pay for? A house? A job? A day at the beach? Since when? Only in Washington will those questions get you expelled from polite company. The American people are ready to have them asked and to have a real debate about them — not a 2000-page power-grab in the dark of the night before Christmas.
In effect, the onerous obligations under the Reid Bill would convert private health insurance companies into virtual public utilities. This action is not only a source of real anxiety but also a decision of constitutional proportions, for it systematically strips the regulated health-insurance issuers of their constitutional entitlement to earn a reasonable rate of return on the massive amounts of capital that they have already invested in building out their businesses.
In order to make out this argument, let me proceed as follows. In part I, I shall give a general overview in order to place in context the system of health-care regulation that shall be operated through the State Exchanges that would be formed under the Reid Bill. In part II, I shall give a detailed analysis of some of the major provisions of the Reid Bill. In part III, I shall give a brief analysis of the economic assumptions that underlie the Reid Bill, and the way in which they are likely to lead to extensive price fixing. In part IV, I shall flesh out the constitutional implications of the above analysis. I shall then close with a brief conclusion, which recommends that the Reid Bill be scrapped.
Federal legislation requiring that every American have health insurance is part of all the major health-care reform plans now being considered in Washington. Such a mandate, however, would expand the federal government’s authority over individual Americans to an unprecedented degree. It is also profoundly unconstitutional.
So Obama combines the age-old belief that the state is there to level the playing field (rather than protect the rights of the individual and secure the safety of the people from foreign threats), with the postmodern notion that government must recompensate those by fiat on the basis on their race or class or gender. Remember all that, and everything from the Professor Gates incident, to the dutiful attendance at the foot of Rev. Wright to Van Jones become logical rather than aberrant. Michelle Obama could make $300,000 and she will always be more a victim than the Appalachian coal miner who earns $30,000, by virtue of her race and gender.
A third and final ingredient to Obamism is the Chicago way. Here we see an interesting updated version of the old big-city, Daley thuggery. Rahm Emanuel threatens recalcitrant congressmen with reminders of the long Obama memory. The Axelrod/Jarrett clique ensures that the government channels stimuli to blue-states, that key Congress people are bought off with tens of millions of government largess, that every campaign promise—from no lobbyists and airing on C-span health care debates to posting impending legislation on the Internet for set durations and “reaching across the aisle”—is simply cynical fluff that no sane person would take seriously.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"My findings do not agree with the climate models that conventionally thought that greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, are the major culprits for the global warming seen in the late 20th century," Lu said. "Instead, the observed data show that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays most likely caused both the Antarctic ozone hole and global warming. These findings are totally unexpected and striking, as I was focused on studying the mechanism for the formation of the ozone hole, rather than global warming."
His conclusions are based on observations that from 1950 up to now, the climate in the Arctic and Antarctic atmospheres has been completely controlled by CFCs and cosmic rays, with no CO2 impact.
"Most remarkably, the total amount of CFCs, ozone-depleting molecules that are well-known greenhouse gases, has decreased around 2000," Lu said. "Correspondingly, the global surface temperature has also dropped. In striking contrast, the CO2 level has kept rising since 1850 and now is at its largest growth rate."
In his research, Lu discovers that while there was global warming from 1950 to 2000, there has been global cooling since 2002. The cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years, according to his new research observations.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) has thumbed through Harry Reid's manager's amendment and discovered some "particularly troubling" rule-change provisions, especially with regards to the proposed Independent Medicare Advisory Board, which he finds could be unrepealable
In this regard, beloved Brothers, it is worth remembering that last August the InstructionLibertatis Nuntius on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation" published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith celebrated its 25th anniversary. It stressed the danger that is entailed in an a-critical acceptance on the part of certain theologians of theses and methodologies that derive from Marxism. Its more or less visible consequences consisting of rebellion, division, dissent, offence, and anarchy make themselves felt, creating in your diocesan communities great suffering and a serious loss of vitality. I implore all those who in some way have felt attracted, involved and deeply touched by certain deceptive principles of Liberation Theology to consider once again the above-mentioned Instruction, perceiving the kind light with which it is proffered. I remind everyone that ""the supreme rule of her [the Church's] faith' derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without the others" (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, n. 55); and that in the context of Church bodies and communities, forgiveness offered and received in the name of and out of love for the Most Blessed Trinity, whom we worship in our hearts, puts an end to the suffering of our beloved Church, a pilgrim in the Lands of the Holy Cross.
For a start, there’s little question that liberation theology was a disaster for Catholic evangelization. There’s a saying in Latin America that sums this up: “The Church opted for the poor, and the poor opted for the Pentecostals.”In short, while many Catholic clergy were preaching class war, many of those on whose behalf the war was supposedly being waged decided that they weren’t so interested in learning about Marx or listening to a language of hate. They simply wanted to learn about Jesus Christ and his love for all people (regardless of economic status). They found this in many evangelical communities.A second major impact was upon the formation of Catholic clergy in parts of Latin America. Instead of being immersed in the fullness of the Catholic faith’s intellectual richness, many Catholic seminarians in the 1970s and 1980s read Marx’s Das Kapitaland refused to look at such “bourgeois” literature such Augustine’s City of God or Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae.This undermined the Church’s ability to witness to Christ in Latin America, not least because some clergy reduced Christ to the status of a heroic but less than divine urban guerrilla and weren’t especially interested in explaining Catholicism’s tenets to their flocks.Then there has been the effect upon the Church’s ability to engage the new Latin American economic world that emerged as the region opened itself to markets in the 1990s. Certainly much of this liberalization was poorly executed and marred by corruption. Nonetheless, as The Economist recently reported, countries like Brazil — once liberation theology’s epicenter — are emerging as global economic players and helping millions of people out of poverty in the process. The smartest thing that Brazil’s left-wing President Lula da Silva ever did was to not dismantle most of his predecessor’s economic reforms.Unfortunately, one legacy of liberation theology is the inability of some Catholic clergy to relate to people working in the business world. Ironically, business executives are far more likely to practice their Catholicism than many other Latin Americans. Yet liberation theology has left a residue of distrust of business leaders among some Catholic clergy — and vice versa. Distrust is no basis for engagement, let alone evangelization.The good news is that the Church in Latin America is more than halfway along the road to recovery. Anyone who talks to younger priests and seminarians there today quickly learns that they have absorbed the devastating critiques of liberation theology produced by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the 1980s. If anything, they tend to regard liberation theologians, like the ex-priest Leonardo Boff, as heretical irrelevancies.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Why is the quality question so obscure, when the cost question is so well-known? In part because it has been masked by the American higher education system’s unchallenged reputation as the best in the world. Unfortunately for the average collegian, this notion is entirely driven by the top 10 percent of institutions and the students who attend them–Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the like. Much of the rest is a sea of mediocrity, or worse.
But the biggest culprit is the lack of objective, publicly available information about how well colleges teach and how much college students learn. Nobody knows which colleges really do the best job of taking the students they enroll and helping them learn over the course of four years. After decades of inaction, some recent efforts have been undertaken to collect that information: It now exists, but colleges and their powerful (and virtually unknown) lobbies will not permit the public to see it. As a result, colleges are far less focused on student learning than they should be, and consumers haven’t a clue what to do and have come to believe, mistakenly, that the most expensive colleges are also the best.
In their myopic attention to student financial aid, in their total indifference to price and quality, Pell Grants symbolize the larger failure of progressive higher education policy. Pell’s heart was in the right place. But by focusing only on helping the needy–the worthiest of instincts–progressives have ignored the larger issues that are driving runaway price increases and rampant neglect of student learning.
There’s a solution to these problems, but it won’t come from more tinkering with student aid programs. The key to giving students a better, more affordable education turns out to be focusing less on college financial aid and more on college itself. We must fundamentally change the relationship between the federal government and higher education, forcing institutions that receive vast amounts of public funding to provide a modicum of useful information in return. The time has come to rip open the veil of secrecy that has shrouded higher education for as long as students have walked next to ivy-covered walls, and to use that information to build far more effective, more egalitarian, and more student-focused colleges than we have today.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
Read the whole thing. Devasting.
Barack Obama has won a place in history with the worst ratings of any president at the end of his first year: 49% approve and 46% disapprove of his job performance in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll.
There are many factors that explain it, including weakness abroad, an unprecedented spending binge at home, and making a perfectly awful health-care plan his signature domestic initiative. But something else is happening.
Mr. Obama has not governed as the centrist, deficit-fighting, bipartisan consensus builder he promised to be. And his promise to embody a new kind of politics—free of finger-pointing, pettiness and spin—was a mirage. He has cheapened his office with needless attacks on his predecessor.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Obama administration’s plan to move terrorist detainees from the security of Guantanamo Bay to a little-used state prison in Illinois is being hailed by supportive Democrats as a boon for local economic development. Even if the development were truly a boon — and it’s more a boondoggle — that would not come close to justifying it. National security is not a shovel-ready jobs program. It is the first duty of government, and it would be senselessly imperiled by transferring trained jihadists into the United States.
"In the House, the view of [California Rep. Henry] Waxman and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is that we've waited two generations to get health care passed, and the 20 or 40 members of Congress who are going to lose their seats as a result are transitional players at best," he said. "This is something the party has wanted since Franklin Roosevelt." In this view, losses are just the price of doing something great and historic. (The strategist also noted that it's easy for Waxman and Pelosi to say that, since they come from safely liberal districts.)
Friday, December 11, 2009
A Stanford Professor has used United Nation security officers to silence a journalist asking him “inconvenient questions” during a press briefing at the climate change conference in Copenhagen.Professor Stephen Schneider’s assistant requested armed UN security officers who held film maker Phelim McAleer, ordered him to stop filming and prevented further questioning after the press conference where the Stanford academic was launching a book.
What does it take to create a job? It takes wealth to pay someone who is hired, not to mention additional wealth to buy the material that person will use.But government creates no wealth. Ignoring that plain and simple fact enables politicians to claim to be able to do all sorts of miraculous things that they cannot do in fact. Without creating wealth, how can they create jobs? By taking wealth from others, whether by taxation, selling bonds, or imposing mandates.
However it is done, transferring wealth is not creating wealth. When government uses transferred wealth to hire people, it is essentially transferring jobs from the private sector, not adding to the net number of jobs in the economy.
Going back to U.S. Steel and the railroads, the story of big business in America is often as not the story of fat cats rigging the system. And the story of progressivism is the same tale. The New Deal codes were mostly written by big business to squeeze out smaller competitors. The progressives fought for these reforms on the grounds that it’s easier to steer a few giant oxen than a thousand cats.But health care is the most troubling example of the trend. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson notes that while everyone has been debating the government takeover of health care, what’s really transpired is health care’s takeover of government — thanks to what he calls the “medical industrial complex.” Already one in four federal outlays are for health care; government pays, directly or indirectly, for half of all health-care costs; and the entire industry is heavily regulated. Obama’s answer to this state of affairs is more — much more — of the same, on the phantasmagorical grounds that it will cut costs.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Can Congress require all Americans to buy a new Buick every year or pay a tax equivalent to the price of a used LeSabre? Some members of Congress claim that power in the health care debate. Indeed, all the leading health care bills being debated in Congress require Americans to either secure or purchase health insurance with a particular threshold of coverage, estimated to cost up to $15,000/year for a typical family. Such a purchase mandate has never been attempted. The purpose of this forced purchase, coupled with the arbitrary price ratios and controls, is to require many people to buy artificially high-priced policies to subsidize the coverage for others.
Monday, December 07, 2009
The EPA said that the scientific evidence surrounding climate change clearly shows that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people" and that the pollutants — mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels — should be regulated under the Clean Air Act. "These long-overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at news conference. The action by the EPA, which has been anticipated for months, clearly was timed to add to the momentum toward some sort of agreement on climate change at the Copenhagen conference and try to push Congress to approve climate legislation.
So not only did conspirators cherry-pick the one series of the four that approximated measured temperatures the longest, they also terminated that series at the point that it too, began to trend down. They then joined it to the actual 1980-1999 temperatures to “hide the decline” in the final product, as that decline created an inexplicable divergence between the reconstructed and measured temperatures..the existence of which challenges the entire series dating back to 1000 AD.Remember, all the temperatures prior to 1850 were estimated by computer algorithms, and no actual readings exist to prove or disprove those figures. So a relatively short window of opportunity exists to test the programs against observations. Had 20th-century measured temperatures continued to align with those recreated as smoothly after 1960 as they did previously, then the programmers could declare their code and hence their millennial temperatures sound. But the divergence, if allowed to stand, instead reveals serious design flaws in the proxy reconstructions...which suggests that just as the decline was dealt with through trickery, so was the MWP.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has grown so tired of Gore’s unwillingness to debate that they are openly mocking him — offering to pay him $500.00 if he’ll debate Monckton. But with all due respect to CEI, there’s no reason to believe a scaredy cat like Gore, who is positioned to become the world’s first “carbon billionaire,” will expose the error of his ways to a sound thinker like Monckton.
Instead, he’s more likely to make himself even harder to reach in order to be sure he doesn’t have to defend his global warming assertions. There’s a good chance this was the motive behind the cancellation of his scheduled appearance at the Copenhagen climate conference later this month. Although people had already paid $1200.00 to meet the former vice president, the outcry over Climategate may have persuaded Gore that allowing people to get close enough to shake hands would be tantamount to allowing them to get close enough to ask tough questions.
Regardless of Gore’s motivation in backing out of Copenhagen, it’s understandable that he avoids debate at all costs. He is, after all, a fraud
Friday, December 04, 2009
To some extent, as the immensely respected former British chancellor of the exchequer and energy secretary, Nigel Lawson, has written, Green is the new Red. Marxism has been debunked, and the militant anti-capitalists and oppositionists — too militant to be easily accommodated in conventional oppositions — have decamped to environmentalism, and have taken over the inoffensive tandem bicycle of the naturalists, with their pith helmets and butterfly nets. They have turned it into a nihilist juggernaut seeking an end to capitalist and bourgeois society in the name of earthly salvation and redemption. It is not surprising that this quasi-religious movement is strongest in the parts of Europe where traditional (Christian) religion is weakest. The eco-extremists allow the conservationists and Sierra Clubs to front for their activities, just as the peace movement became a seamless melange of Communists, fellow-travelers, and pacifist naïfs who filled the critical role of Lenin’s “useful idiots.”
Thursday, December 03, 2009
The president's party will not support his new policy, his budget will not accommodate it, our overstretched and worn-down military will be hard-pressed to execute it, and Americans' patience will not be commensurate with Afghanistan's limitless demands for it. This will not end well.
A case can be made for a serious -- meaning larger and more protracted -- surge. A better case can be made for a radically reduced investment of resources and prestige in that forlorn country. Obama has not made a convincing case for his tentative surgelet.
George Orwell said that the quickest way to end a war is to lose it. But Obama's halfhearted embrace of a half-baked nonstrategy -- briefly feinting toward the Taliban (or al-Qaeda, or a "syndicate of terror") while lunging for the exit ramp -- makes a protracted loss probable.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Avoiding the V-word. Concluding the war seems to be the theme, as opposed to winning the war. "Breaking the momentum" of the Taliban, unfortunately, is not the same as crushing and humiliating the enemy. "Ending the war successfully" lacks the force of "defeating" the enemy and securing "victory." Rather than talk for ten minutes in soaring platitudes, we need 20 seconds devoted to the notion that we will win, the Taliban will lose, and Afghanistan will be secured. His emphasis on civilian and political strategies is fine, but those strategies are first predicated on security. If you are surging, then, darn it, tell the American people that we will secure a military victory.
A tiny clique of politicized scientists, paid by unscientific politicians with whom they were financially and politically linked, were responsible for gathering and reporting data on temperatures from the palaeoclimate to today’s climate. The “Team”, as they called themselves, were bending and distorting scientific data to fit a nakedly political story-line profitable to themselves and congenial to the governments that, these days, pay the bills for 99% of all scientific research.• The Climate Research Unit at East Anglia had profited to the tune of at least $20 million in “research” grants from the Team’s activities.• The Team had tampered with the complex, bureaucratic processes of the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, so as to exclude inconvenient scientific results from its four Assessment Reports, and to influence the panel’s conclusions for political rather than scientific reasons.• The Team had conspired in an attempt to redefine what is and is not peer-reviewed science for the sake of excluding results that did not fit what they and the politicians with whom they were closely linked wanted the UN’s climate panel to report.• They had tampered with their own data so as to conceal inconsistencies and errors.• They had emailed one another about using a “trick” for the sake of concealing a “decline” in temperatures in the paleoclimate.• They had expressed dismay at the fact that, contrary to all of their predictions, global temperatures had not risen in any statistically-significant sense for 15 years, and had been falling for nine years. They had admitted that their inability to explain it was “a travesty”. This internal doubt was in contrast to their public statements that the present decade is the warmest ever, and that “global warming” science is settled.• They had interfered with the process of peer-review itself by leaning on journals to get their friends rather than independent scientists to review their papers.• They had successfully leaned on friendly journal editors to reject papers reporting results inconsistent with their political viewpoint.• They had campaigned for the removal of a learned journal’s editor, solely because he did not share their willingness to debase and corrupt science for political purposes.• They had mounted a venomous public campaign of disinformation and denigration of their scientific opponents via a website that they had expensively created.• Contrary to all the rules of open, verifiable science, the Team had committed the criminal offense of conspiracy to conceal and then to destroy computer codes and data that had been legitimately requested by an external researcher who had very good reason to doubt that their “research” was either honest or competent.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I am sure the New York Times is right when it says that the stigma of using food stamps is fading, but it brings us to another aspect of the “Do we want to be like Europe?” question that has been at the center of so much that’s happened since the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Stigma is the only way that a free society can be generous, whether through private help or government programs. The dilemma is as old as charity: how to give help without creating a cycle in which more people need help. Stigma is the way out. Stigma does three things.
First, stigma leads people to socialize their children in ways that minimize the chance that they’ll need help as they grow up. When children are taught that accepting charity is a disgrace, they also tend to be taught the kinds of things they should and shouldn’t do to avoid that disgrace.
Second, stigma encourages the right kind of self-selection. People in need are not usually in a binary yes-no situation. Instead, they are usually somewhere on a continuum from “I’m desperate” to “Gee, a little help would be kind of nice.” Stigma makes people ask whether the help is really that essential. That’s good—for the affordability of giving help, and for the resourcefulness of the potential recipients.
Third, stigma discourages dependence—it induces people to do everything they can to get out of the situation that put them in need of help.
All of these benefits of stigma reflect tendencies. Of course there are lots of exceptions. But large-scale assistance is shaped by tendencies. The European model says that people should look upon assistance as a right. Once you say that, the tendencies you create commit you to a cradle-to-grave system of government-decided support systems and corresponding limits on the ability of people to make choices for themselves.
The American model holds up the ideal of individuals and families making lives for themselves as they see fit and accepting the consequences of their choices. We all understand that sometimes people get in trouble through no fault of their own and that getting in trouble even if it is their fault doesn’t mean they should be left to their fate. If we as a nation still believe in the American Model—and that’s an open question—then we have to accept that stigma is indispensable for providing help without destroying the model.
The answer brings us to a scandal that is, in my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though perhaps not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely the suggestion that the very existence of warming or of the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe. This is the grossest of "bait and switch" scams. It is only such a scam that lends importance to the machinations in the emails designed to nudge temperatures a few tenths of a degree.
The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are simply a matter of the response of a single number, GATA, to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.
Read the whole thing.
That brings me to Climategate. The thousands of temperature measurements used to prove long-term warming cannot be treated as-is (“60 degrees Fahrenheit at 6:30 AM, 15 May, 1895, Cotswold station”). That “60” has to be treated in the context of time, date, location, local effects on the background temperature—and on and on—when it is analyzed.
The people who made those adjustments are, we now know, desperately invested in proving the truth of man-made global warming. And they lost the data. That’s more damning than anything else in the emails. If you’re doing important work that you know will be controversial, you don’t lose the data. You document everything you did to the data. You make the data available to others. If you don’t do all of those things, people are right to ignore anything you have published about the data. And that’s what we should do with everything these men have published about man-made global warming.