Monday, December 31, 2007

The New Republic Editors are Dishonest

On page 10 of The New Republic article, Fog of War, in an attempt at standing by its “Baghdad Diarist” articles four pages before declaring they couldn’t, editor Franklin Foer lays out a defense of his editorial staff’s incompetence.

The following paragraph in his 14-page obfuscation of the fact that The New Republic was in a fact-checking fog illustrates the dishonesty that permeates his entire review.

Without new evidence to be gleaned, we began to lay out the evidence we had assembled. It wasn't just the testimonials from the soldiers in his unit. Among others, we had called a forensic anthropologist and a spokesman for the manufacturer of Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Nothing in our conversations with them had dissuaded us of the plausibility of Beauchamp's pieces.

What did they ask the spokesman for the manufacturer of Bradley Fighting Vehicles? Was it something along the lines of: “Can you kill a dog by running over it with a Bradley?”

I could speculate endlessly about what The New Republic asked “a spokesman for the manufacturer of Bradley Fighting Vehicles,” but I don’t have to, I know what they asked courtesy of the sort of fact checking that The New Republic editor said they did, but didn’t.

A blogger, Bob “Confederate Yankee” Owens, did the fact checking with the spokesman for the manufacturer of Bradley Fighting Vehicles that The New Republic purportedly did. From the Bradley spokesman, Mr. Owens found a great deal of information about Bradleys, their crews, and capabilities, and most significantly he did something The New Republic “fact checker” did not. He presented the spokesman with the text about the Bradleys’ alleged use in Iraq according to the “Baghdad Diarist” article.

The following is the spokesman, Mr. Coffey, responding to Mr. Owens’ questions:

I can't pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a "driver" can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.

The driver's vision, even if sitting in an open hatch is severely restricted along the sides. He sits forward on the left side of the vehicle. His vision is significantly impaired along the right side of the vehicle which makes the account to "suddenly swerve to the right" and actually catch an animal suspect. If you were to attempt the same feat in your car, it would be very difficult and you have the benefit of side mirrors.

Anyone familiar with tracked vehicles knows that turning sharply requires the road wheels on the side of the turn to either stop or reverse as the road wheels on the opposite side accelerates. What may not be obvious is that the track once on the ground, doesn't move. The road wheels roll across it but the track itself is stationary
until it is pushed forward by the road wheels.

The width of the track makes it highly unlikely that running over a dog would leave two intact parts. One half of the dog would have to be completely crushed.

It also seems suspicious that a driver could go on repeated joy rides or purposefully run into things. Less a risk to the track though that is certainly possible but there is sensitive equipment on the top of the vehicle, antennas, sights, TOW missile launcher, commander and if it was a newer vehicle, the commander's independent viewer, not to mention the main gun. Strange things are known to happen in a combat environment but I can't imagine that the vehicle commander or the unit commander would tolerate repeated misuse of the vehicle, especially any action that could damage its ability to engage.

Speaking from my over 21 years Air Force service as an airman, non-commissioned officer, and officer, I cannot believe that officers and non-commissioned officers would allow such joyriding, particularly of the type described by the “Baghdad Diarist,” which was certain to damage vehicles they were in charge of and for which they would be held responsible. And which, of course, would also reduce their fighting effectiveness and take them out of service until repaired.

Anyone who has sat through a military meeting as I have, listening to a maintenance chief going over readiness status, including why equipment was down for maintenance, when it would be back in service, and what was being done to increase ready time, would know that only someone with no knowledge of the military would think joyriding and damaging equipment is a laughing matter.

Strangely, Mr. Foer includes in his defense that he had talked with an officer who said that Bradleys sometimes accidently run over dogs, and clings to this bit of information like it was highly significant. Mr. Foer, for over six decades I have known that vehicles of all types accidently kill dogs, cats, skunks, deer, raccoons, fox, and occassionally to greater sorrow, people.

Later Mr. Foer admits, without ever addressing the issue that killing dogs as Beauchamp described is physically doubtful, and in my opinion, impossible:

But, after our re-reporting, some of our questions are still unanswered. Did the driver intentionally run over dogs? Did he record his kills in a little green notebook? We've never been able to reach the driver. And Beauchamp told us that he'd procure a page from the notebook, but that has not materialized. This is a plausible anecdote, and several soldiers in Beauchamp's unit had heard stories about dog-hunting, but only one had actually seen the driver Beauchamp wrote about intentionally hit dogs. He is one of Beauchamp's friends, and, over the course of a number of e-mail exchanges with him, our faith in him has diminished.

Apparently Mr. Foer believes that one liar vouching for another is more substantial evidence than physical proof that the killings as described by Beauchamp were implausible. What would a page from a notebook prove? I could put the wildest fantasies in a notebook, tear the page out, and claim I got it from a nameless someone else. Or keep promising that I would get the page and not do it, particularly if I didn't want to create physical evidence that could be subjected to forensic examination.

Mr. Foer, you say Beauchamp's fellow soldiers vouch for him, and yet you don't have any sworn testimony. Apparently none of them have substantiated the dog killing descriptions, each of which would have been witnessed by six or more soldiers, or you would mention more about them than noting that Bradleys sometimes run over stray dogs.

On the Army side, they have sworn testimony that the dog killing incidents and Bradley joy riding described by Beauchamp did not occur. As I mentioned above, such things only happen in barracks bull sessions, where all the restrictions on operating high-value military equipment are suspended for the duration of the bull slinging.

Obviously I’m not accusing anyone at The New Republic of having any knowledge of the military, even after their “fact checking.”

“When you don’t know anything, anything is possible.”

(I thank my Rotary buddy, Dick Soule, for providing me with this succinct summation which is a perfect description of The New Republic’s fact-checking exercise.)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The New Republic Lost in the Fog of a 'Baghdad Diarist'

Almost by accident I came across this The New Republic article on line: Fog of War, by Franklin Foer, apparently posted December 10, 2007, over four months after The New Republic published “Baghdad Diarist” articles written by Private Scott Beauchamp from Iraq. Since many aspects of the articles were so obviously fraudulent, I was amazed to find that they had passed The New Republic’s editorial muster.

At the end of 14 tortured pages, The New Republic editor, Franklin Foer, concluded:

When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.

In a weasel way, editor Franklin Foer admitted that The New Republic published garbage, but he never admitted that the critics – like me, among many – got it right from the git-go. (In the process, I beat up on the Los Angeles Times' crack columnist Timothy Rutten, the LA Times' Readers' Representative, Ms. Jamie Gold, and of course, the primary perpetrators of the unprofessional reporting, The New Republic.)

Foer never addressed the lies I pointed out about the implausible killing of stray dogs with a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Many of the stories told by Beauchamp seemed incredible, based on my knowledge of military procedures, but I couldn’t investigate or question all of them from my position here overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the northern California coast.

However, Beauchamp gave very detailed descriptions of witnessing a military driver enjoying using his Bradley Fighting Vehicle to kill dogs. I had a general mental picture of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and with a bit of Googling, I soon had a clear image of one. Then it was a simple process to compare Beauchamp’s descriptions of watching dogs killed by Bradleys with the dog killing capabilities of the Bradley.

It was so easy to sit at my computer and totally disprove Beauchamp’s stories that I was amazed that The New Republic editors hadn’t done the same.

I don’t read minds, but it occurred to me that The New Republic editors wanted to believe the stories because they wanted to cast American soldiers in Iraq in a very negative light.

Whether my mind reading is right or wrong, in any case The New Republic editors were extremely unprofessional, since they either didn’t catch the obvious lies in Beauchamp’s articles, or they ignored them in order to slander soldiers in Iraq.

Just one description of dog killing should have set off editorial alarms by anyone with the slightest nose for news – which I assume professional journalists possess as a minimum, and that editors possess in abundance.

I invite you to edit the following Beauchamp tales, armed with the following information which is readily available to any interested reader: the Bradley Fighting Vehicle has treads, not wheels, and each tread is about 21 inches wide; even a large dog like my Buddy (28-inch torso, weighing 64 pounds), would be crushed under a 21-inch tread. Now apply these facts to Beauchamp’s description of a dog killed by a Bradley.

A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn't have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

How could that be possible? A dog does not get severed by a 21-inch tread attached to a 25-ton vehicle, it gets crushed.

Buddy demonstrates how much of a dog - Buddy is much larger than a typical stray dog, I might add - would be covered by a Bradley tread 21 inches wide.
(A blogger features this photo of Buddy on his "Happy New Year" post, but I think he missed the point, since he wrote that I was trying to prove a dog could not be run over by a tank. Since he also ran my argument that a Bradley tread would not sever a dog's body, but would crush it, I'm not quite sure what his point was. Maybe he's making a very inside, inside joke, since the rest of his comments and those of others have nothing to do with my post.)

(Go here and here to see Buddy not simulating road kill)

Beauchamp also wrote that the Bradley driver allowed a stray dog to overtake the Bradley from the right rear, then whipped the Bradley in such a way that it caught the dog in the tread and dragged it:

He (the driver) slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road.

If you look at the picture of the Bradley I helpfully provide below, you will notice that the driver sits low at the left front, and that he can’t possibly see a thing at the lower right rear side.

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle driver's head is barely visible in front of the hatch cover at the left front. He's in an impossible position to see a dog overtaking from the right rear.
If you find out a little more information about tracked vehicles, like the Bradley, you would also realize that tracked vehicles run over things, but don’t catch things in their treads and drag them. When a segment of a tread is on the ground, it stays on one spot until it is the rearmost segment, then it suddenly goes up and then forward. At no point does a tread drag anything, even in the unlikely circumstance that somehow, something gets caught in it.

By this time I’m sure that only The New Republic editors, and their die-hard loyalists, aka Democrats, still believe Beauchamp’s dog killing tales. However, I feel certain that these editors and die-hard loyalists remain convinced that proving some stories were lies does not prove all were lies, and that they stand by anything that can’t be proven incontrovertibly false.

However, the duty of an editor is to present the truth, not to present unsupported allegations as true until proven otherwise by others.

However, all The New Republic can present are purported statements by a few largely anonymous soldiers, which are not very reliable given that Beauchamp’s tales can be proven false in all instances where objective evidence is available.

But read The New Republic’s 14-page treatise, Fog of War, for yourself. It is a case study of half-truths, fudging the truth, and of mealy-mouthed equivocating.

And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.

Then make a retraction, damn it!

Anything less is inadequate and unprofessional.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Willful Ignorance of Global Warming Alarmists

If ignorance is bliss, the global warming alarmists live bliss-filled state. With blinders firmly placed, they lead mankind down the path to the eighteenth century, in the sure belief that destroying the economic hope of the impoverished masses is the way to save their miserable lives.

The core of their belief is simple, and to the alarmists, unquestionable. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by the powering of mankind’s rapid economic progress is causing global warming.

The alarmists’ belief in a man-caused calamity in the making is unshakable, yet there is much evidence that it is easily assailable.

First, are there universally acknowledged instances, not just in the deep, dark past, but even in recent times, that the Earth has been warmer than today because of natural climate change?

The answer?

A resounding “yes!” Evidence of all types – analyses of tree rings, sediments, glacier retreat, remains of trees above current tree lines, records of vineyards where can’t be sustained today, and myriads of other studies have established beyond the shadow of doubt that the Medieval Warm Period of 1,000 years ago, and the Holocene Optimum of 5,000 years ago, were global and much warmer than today.

Of course, there is also abundant, universally accepted evidence, that prior to the warm, interglacial period we are now enjoying, the Earth went through a glacial period, the Ice Age, which reversed only 18,000 years ago. Since the reversal, the mile-thick ice sheet above Chicago (and a very large portion of North America) melted away, and the seas have risen over 400 feet, or an average of over two feet a century.

Are there now anomalies that don’t fit the anthropogenic global warming scenarios?

Another resounding “yes!” Again there is abundant evidence that some recent periods of climate change contradict the CO2 driven models.

Examples abound. Al Gore and “An Inconvenient Truth” made much of glaciers shrinking, and from his presentations you would think it a new phenomenon. However, glaciers began retreating at the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850, well over a century before mankind’s accelerated hydrocarbon use.

Al Gore prophesized that seas would rise about twenty feet, engulfing major cities and low-lying nations by the end of this century. Again, sea levels have risen over 400 feet in just 18,000 years, and have been rising at about a seven-inch per century rate since 1850. The current rate of sea level rise is just an extension of that trend, and even the United Nations has no evidence or expectation of a significant change in the trend.

According to global warming alarmists, global temperature increases on a direct or even accelerated basis with increases in atmospheric CO2. However, the highest rate of warming came in the first half of the twentieth century (+0.6º C from 1910 to 1945), and has only increased another 0.6º C in over sixty years since 1945. In fact, for a thirty-year period (1945-1975), as atmospheric CO2 went up, global temperature went down.

For those who insist on knowing the cause of things, since nothing “just happens,” they will be happy to learn that even though the temperature variation of the past century does not correlate well with increased atmospheric CO2, it correlates almost perfectly with solar fluctuation. Further happiness is in store, since solar variation also correlates exceedingly well with global temperature variation for thousands of years, and even longer.

For man-caused warming fanatics, a bit of sadness: the chart Al Gore showed in “An Inconvenient Truth,” purportedly showing CO2 increasing, followed by temperatures doing likewise, actually shows temperature increases preceding CO2 increases by about 800 years. The mechanism driving this change is simple and well known. The cold water of the oceans store enormous quantities of CO2. When water temperature rises, as it does in response to increased solar activity, the warmer water cannot store CO2 as well as colder, causing the oceans to release CO2 into the atmosphere. Ergo, and ipso facto, CO2 increases following, not preceding, a solar-driven temperature increase.

None of this should be interpreted as a denial of global warming – not of the natural variety, anyway. It is obvious to all with open minds that climate change has been occurring naturally for millions of years, and will continue to do so, regardless of human efforts to stop or reverse it.

What few of us realize is that we live in a fortunate period in terms of the Earth’s climate. Even as recently as two centuries ago our ancestors struggled against numbing cold, crop failures and famine, pandemics of influenza, cholera, and plague, frequent and violent storms, and all the ills that beset humanity during cold periods.

Ironically, having survived the ravages of cold, we’re now inundated by prophets of gloom regaling us with their fears that we will soon experience as warm a climate as our ancestors prospered under just 1,000 and 5,000 years ago.

What a snake-oil sales job! We’re supposed to have more fear of warmth than cold? Then why do we all flock to Florida, California, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the southern states? Are we rushing to our doom? Or do we just naturally know that cold kills multiples of the number that die from heat, and that our lives can be happier and more comfortable in warmer climes?

However we look at it, clearly Al Gore’s mediocre academic record explains much of the failings of his climate science presentation. Now what excuse do his true believers have to continue following their inept leader?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Katie Couric and CBS News are Crying Over Epidemic of Veteran Suicides

CBS News with Katie Couric reported that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. Once again the news organization that can’t report straight proves how easily they can attain heights of incompetence.

CBS News contacted all fifty states and compiled statistics on veteran suicides, then breathlessly reported: “Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.”

That’s very alarming, isn’t it?

However, research has shown that there are marked differences in suicide rates by sex (males commit suicide at a rate four to six times higher than females, but females attempt suicide at three times the rate for males), by age (males over 65 are the highest risk group), and by nationality (the very high Japanese suicide rate is 24 per 100,000 people per year).

Are Americans prone to suicide? Not in the context of other nations.

In 2002, the suicide rate in the United States was 45th highest in the world at 11 per 100,000 people per year. In 2004 the National Institute for Mental Health reported a similar number, 10.9.

When our veteran suicide rate of 19 is compared to the rates of all citizens of both sexes of other countries, it is about the same or lower as Japan (24.0), Belgium (21.1), Finland (20.3), Cuba (18.3), France, Austria, Korea, and Switzerland.

When CBS News did their study, they used the classic method of comparing apples to oranges, and gave birth to a lemon. Although Katie Couric didn’t even pucker when she delivered it, many of us were left with a very sour taste when we investigated and found how bad it was.

As a veteran myself, with over 21 years Air Force service, I knew that veterans are predominantly males; that males, and particularly older males, have much higher suicide rates than females; and that the average age of veterans is higher than the general population because so many were called to service for World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and even in peacetime before the draft ended in 1973.

Obviously CBS New’s conclusion that there was a “suicide epidemic among veterans” because the veteran suicide rate was 19 compared to a general population rate of 9 was a complete fallacy. CBS compared the rate for a predominantly older, male group, against the younger, female majority general population.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who noticed CBS’s glaring errors. As I Googled more I found this in Aviation Week:

In the US, male veterans outnumber female veterans 13:1. Since four times as many males as women commit suicide in the general population, you'd expect the rate among veterans to be close to the rate among males - 17.6/100,000 per year in 2002 - and indeed it is, if the CBS raw numbers are correct.

CBS also makes an issue of the fact that suicide rates among younger veterans exceed that of the general population by an even bigger margin - but again, that's what you'd expect, because in that age group, the male-to-female imbalance in suicide rates is greatest, almost six to one.

Suicide is tragedy. What it does not seem to be, among veterans, is an epidemic.

Not content with just reading about others dragging CBS News through the mud, I continued Googling, and found that the suicide rate for active military is only about half the rate for the same age, same sex general population.

That is not the sort of image CBS News was trying to convey.

Could it be that it is better for suicide prevention to be in the military as a young man than to stay a civilian? Since the active military rate of 11 per 100,000 per year is roughly half the rate of their civilian counterparts, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Is it better in terms of suicide potential to be a male veteran than to be Japanese? Suicide rates indicate it is. In fact, it is just about as bad to be French as to be a veteran, and probably much worse if studies isolated the suicide rate of older French males. Since the rate for all French males is 27.5, or 45 percent higher than our veterans’ rate, I would hazard a guess that the rate for older French males is much higher.

Are 45 nations, including Japan, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Cuba, Austria, Russia, and many others experiencing epidemics of suicide? If CBS News was calling the shots, you would have to conclude a resounding “Yes!”

Quick! Someone tell CBS News and console Katie Couric! If they thought they had a hot story about a suicide epidemic among veterans, think how hot their story will be when it is about entire nations!

Stop the presses!

Or unplug the cameras!

Or do whatever you do today to get ready to insert really hot news.

And by the way, call for Make Up, because Katie’s crying.

"Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans" by CBS News Doesn't Pass Smell Test

In Liberal Northern California, our local weekly newspaper the Independent Coast Observer provides a steady supply of inane and uninformed letters from local "Bush bashers." They often take an issue from the major news media and run it through their warped viewpoints until a poorly reported item is rendered totally abominable. Such did one of our citizenry accomplish from an atrocious CBS News article about a so-called epidemic of suicide among veterans.

My reply to our newspaper follows:

Keith Jacobsen’s letter “Soldiers and Suicide” mentioned that in “2005 the number suicides (sic) of veterans who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq had reached 120 each week.” That would be 6,240 per year, 18,270 in the past three years, or five times the total killed since the Iraq War began.

Mr. Jacobsen’s numbers didn’t pass the smell test. Where did he get them? In the Age of Google, that’s an easy question. I immediately found a poorly written and researched article by – who else? – CBS Evening News with perky Katie Couric. In their November 13 article, “Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans,” was this quote: “In 2005 … there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That’s 120 each and every week, in just one year.”

Mr. Jacobsen took “(120 suicides per week) among those who served in the armed forces” and replaced it with “veterans who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Mr. Jacobsen missed that the population CBS News reviewed for suicides consisted of all who had ever served in the military, a total living today of about 25 million.

By comparison, today’s total of active and reserve military is about 2.5 million, or less than ten percent of the total who have ever served. Few of today’s veterans have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Instead of an “epidemic of veteran suicides,” veterans match the rate for same-age males; the suicide rate among active military (11 per 100,000 per year) is about half of the general population rate; forty nations have higher male suicide rates than our veterans; and the overall veterans’ rate of 19 is the same or lower than the rate for BOTH SEXES in Japan (24.0), Belgium (21.1), Finland (20.3), Cuba (18.3), and France, Austria, Korea, and Switzerland.

Do you still say, Mr. Jacobsen, that these statistics reflect the poor quality of mental health screening among active duty personnel and veterans?

Do you still think there is an “epidemic of suicide,” or do you now realize that you and the American public have once again been misled by sloppy and sensationalist CBS News reporting?

Alternative Minimum Tax Cuts - More Fun Than a Barrel of Democrats

Democrats are always good for a laugh, and the way they stumbled all over themselves to cut the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) was better than a car full of clowns.

The simple truth about the AMT was that it was never intended to do what it’s doing now. All the Democrats who passed it in 1969 under the late, unlamented reign of LBJ wanted was to soak a few (166) selected wealthy families. It was just the usual simple Democrat program to use governmental power to harass a few people they didn’t like, constitutional protections be damned. Since the Supreme Court was an agent of liberal activism at the time, there was no worry on that front anyway.

However, thanks to the Democrat’s endemic lack of foresight, the AMT soon became extremely effective at extracting taxes from the unintended who, thanks to patterns of urban settlement, politics, and high state taxes, became higher-class, and increasingly middle-class, Democrats.

Therefore, the Democrats seemed to have a simple task ahead: reduce or eliminate the AMT, and with it the unintended but very real tax consequences to their constituents.

But wait. Nothing is ever easy for Democrats. In a vain attempt to hide their “tax and spend” spots, Democrats had coined the un-Democrat phrase of “pay as you go,” aka PAYGO. In essence Democrats said, with particular intent to protect newly elected members from right-leaning areas, that no tax cuts would be made unless they could be rendered “revenue neutral.”

The problem with the AMT was that its ability to generate tax revenues was increasing exponentially, and Democrats being Democrats, they had big plans for the many ways they could spend their largesse.

“But wait again,” you say (and if you don’t, I will). “Democrats had no intention of taking money from the people who are now being (or soon will be) soaked by the AMT.”

I agree most decidedly. Therefore, those tax revenues are like “found money,” or ill-gotten gain to the government, so why continue taking them from the people?

“Because,” Democrats are quick to point out, “it’s a lot of money now, and will soon be a humongous amount of money, and we can’t think of any other way we can get our hands on that much money to spend on our growing stack of pork – oops, sorry, what we really mean to say – to spend on ‘investments’ for the people – for our people, who are highly dependent on us bringing back some bacon, or why would they have elected us in the first place?”

“Sorry, I was carried away by an unexpected wave of honesty. It won’t happen again, you can depend on that, so help me Nancy Pelosi.”

At that point he lowered his left hand and took his right hand off Nancy’s book: “Pork is Your Friend – How to Win Friends and Buy Their Votes.”

The “Democrat’s Dilemma” – what a nice book title that would be! Like “Pilgrim’s Progress” with no progress – is that if they do nothing about the AMT they will be recipients of an ever increasing flood of tax revenues to pass out amongst their poorer and very hopeful supporters. The problem that creates is that it will make Republicans of their wealthier, and therefore big contributing, Democrat supporters.

“Let’s see,” said Nancy, “on the one hand (left, of course) we have a bunch of people who support us and want us to give them goodies. Lucky for us they will keep supporting us, even if we don’t give them much, because we’re the only goodies-giving game in town.”

“On the other hand,” she continued, but still using only her left hand, “we have a bunch of people who support us who give us goodies. If we don’t cut the AMT, they won’t have goodies to give us, but those rascally Republicans will be happy to cut the AMT – they promised to do so anyway, but we stopped them – and will be overjoyed to accept our grateful former supporters’ votes and contributions.”

(In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, at this point I must admit the obvious: all the above are made-up quotes. However, as CBS News and Dan Rather reporting about Texas Air National Guard letters, and the French press reporting Palestinian propaganda as fact would be quick to point out, made-up news is the best news, because it illustrates the “truth” of an issue in a way that real facts, contaminated as they are by actual events, cannot. Therefore I follow their examples, except I do what they don’t, I admit it when I make things up.)

In the end, Democrats cut the AMT and didn’t raise the taxes on the wealthy.

Even “Dimocrats” have seen the light that “Trickle Down” works, and that it’s not good politics to demonize the rich, then beg for their contributions.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How Many Global Warming Alarmists Can Dance On An Elephant?

I read a blog with a post entitled: New Paper Halves the Global Average Surface Temperature Trend 1980 - 2002

Then I started reading the comments about the article, and soon found myself mired in dense debates about the minutiae of data bases used and the tweaking and adjusting of them.

After a while of reading these comments, I noticed the trend was that they became more focused on methodology, and lost sight of meaning. At that point I thought it time to add some observations of my own:

All these comments are reminiscent of the “Six Wise Men of Hindustan” who went to see the elephant though all of them were blind. Their analyses of the elephant, and their arguments in support of their positions, were irrelevant because they didn’t comprehend the essence of the beast.

The subject at hand, Earth, has had constantly changing climate. It has been warmer, it has been colder. Atmospheric CO2 at times has been multiples above present levels. This current warming trend began a century before significant increases in CO2. So did current glacier shortening and sea level rise.

It was warmer during the Holocene Optimum of only 5,000 years ago, and warmer during the Medieval Warm Period of less than 1,000 years ago. Sea levels have risen over 400 feet in less than 20,000 years (since the Ice Age), an average of over two feet a century. Civilization made great progress during these previous warm periods, and regressed during cold periods such as the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age. These cold periods were characterized by influenza, bubonic plague, and cholera pandemics. Storms were more violent and numerous. Crop yields fell and famine spread, while human bodies shrank and their skeletons showed malnutrition and disease.

In contrast, warmer periods exhibited population growth, progress in arts, science and civil development, and humans living longer, healthier lives.

In the face of all this, voluminous and detailed arguments about the correction of readings from weather stations and satellites covering a period of less than three decades seems futile and frivolous. What will it all mean when the Earth completes its passage through this current natural interglacial period, and enters the next glacial one?

Less than 20,000 years ago, an ice sheet a mile thick covered Chicago. No actions of man caused it.

10,000 years ago that ice sheet was gone and sea levels had risen about 300 feet. No actions of man caused it.

Many now are like the wise who debated the elephant, saying it is like a tree, a spear, a wall, a rope, a snake, a fan. When tired of that debate, they argued about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, when those who knew angels know they would rather watch football than dance.

In the anthropogenic global warming debate I detect the use of outstanding methods to achieve mediocre results. If the warming is not caused by man, it can’t be stopped. If it is caused by man, it is still unstoppable even if mankind assents to reentering the eighteenth century.

Given these inevitabilities, the best we can do is adapt to the changes, whatever they may be, making the best use of our limited resources, rather than squandering them in vain efforts to turn back the tide. Then once we get adjusted to doing what mankind does best – adapting to change – we can start planning to adjust to the real climate change challenge, when we enter the inevitable next glacial phase.

Adjusting to warm is nothing compared to adjusting to cold.

Victory! A Matter of Principle

I had my day in court, and won! The officer was there, and said, among other things, that he could see the metallic buckle (or at least a reflection from it) over the top of my shoulder. I showed six photographs, similar to the one below, including one enlarged to 8 by 10.5 inches, that showed that all you could see (barely) was my hands on the steering wheel, and that the reflection of the high overcast off the windshield blocked the view of everything else on the driver's side.

I'm sitting in the driver's seat holding the steering wheel, not wearing my seat belt.
Can't you tell?

I also brought up that the officer had noted I was wearing my seat belt when he stopped me. The judge seemed interested on that point, and confirmed it with the officer.

At the time he stopped me, he said I had put it on after he saw me not wearing it. In his report he also said that he turned after he saw me, and followed me and clocked me at 62.5 miles per hour.

However, at this point the judge remarked that all that was in question was the matter of the seat belt.

I was thinking, but didn’t bring it up, that the officer’s remarks didn’t make much sense. He said he followed me and determined I was speeding. He told me that I put the seat belt on after I saw him.

If the sight of a CHP officer was enough to make me put my seat belt on, wouldn’t it also be enough to make me stop speeding?

It’s bad enough the officer accused me of lying, but it’s truly an insult that he thinks I’m an idiot.

I doubt I made a friend today in court. I’ll be especially careful from now on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

EPA Denies California Greenhouse Gas Waiver

My co-worker suddenly shrieked as she was scanning internet news today. Since she is a Liberal, such shrieks generally are associated with what I consider good news, so I waited with happy anticipation for her to tell me the “bad news.”

“Oh, No! This is awful!” she exclaimed.

She read the offending headline in an exceedingly agitated voice: “The ‘EPA denies California's bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’”

“Wonderful!” I remarked. “The government has no business calling water vapor pollution.”

“Not water vapor, carbon dioxide,” she retorted, visibly annoyed.

Water vapor is by far the most significant greenhouse gas, twenty-six times more prevalent in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Mankind only produces one percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide generated each year, and carbon dioxide is only 0.038 percent of the atmosphere. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is insignificant, and isn’t a pollutant, so what business would the EPA have in regulating it?” I responded.

Barely catching my breath, I continued: “Anyway, temperatures haven’t increased significantly for nine years now, Antarctica is colder and its ice sheet is growing, the 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons were among the mildest in recent history, and right now cold weather is setting records all over the world.”

“That’s proof of global warming,” she exclaimed. “Scientists say it will be hotter, it will be colder, it will be wetter, it will be drier, it will be stormier, it will be calmer – all of this is caused by global warming.”

“That’s pretty good,” I quipped. “No matter what happens, it proves global warming.”

Getting back to the EPA news, I was about to go into a long-winded explanation of how carbon dioxide and water vapor were the by-products of “perfect” combustion of hydrocarbons when she reminded me that my grandchildren would have to live in a horrible future world created by global warming,” then left in a huff.

“They’ll love the warmth,” I shouted, as a blast of cold air blew through the open door, and rain hammered the roof.

I’m glad Governor Schwarzenkennedy has been thwarted in California’s Quixotic attempt to stop global warming at the state line. Pity he can’t do the same with illegal immigration.

My co-worker professes atheism, but her belief in man-caused global warming has all the trappings of religion. It has high priests – Pontificator Al Gore the Ponderous leads the pack.

It has dogma – natural warming was OK, but mankind are sinners because when they burn hydrocarbons for energy they pursue not lofty goals, but selfish prosperity.

It has Purgatory – that’s where you’ll find the United States, shunned by the enlightened nations of the world like Papua New Guinea.

It has a collectivist Hell - all will burn for the sins of one, the United States.

Finally, it promises Salvation to all if the United States will repent its evil ways and sacrifice its misbegotten offspring, material well being, to save the world from a fate worse than living in a climate similar to that of Hawaii or San Diego.

What about China, India, Brazil, and all the developing nations whose paths to prosperity lead through higher and higher levels of energy consumption?

Obviously, if they see the Great Sinner repent its evil ways, they too will see the light, sacrifice their economic progress, consign their citizenry to continual deprivation and drudgery, and let the United Nations lead all the nations of the world back to the glories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – when it was colder than Hell!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

“Global Warming” Will Cause Starvation

“I thought you said that global warming wouldn’t be a problem,” said the frequent reader of this crusading blog.

“That’s right,” reply I. “Global warming won’t be a problem. The Earth has warmed up a lot more in times past, and the effects were salubrious, particularly where agriculture was concerned.”

It’s a fact that modern civilization began about 10,000 years ago when mankind evolved from the hunter/gatherer lifestyle to the more sedentary agricultural mode. It is no coincidence that the Holocene Climate Optimum began at about the same time, and that for several thousand years the Earth was as warm, and usually warmer, than today.

Also not coincidental: the intervening warm periods following the Holocene Optimum - the Roman Warm Period of roughly 2,000 years ago, and the Medieval Warm Period of 1,000 years ago – were periods of rapid human progress sandwiched between colder periods characterized by stagnation and even civil regression.

These colder periods – the Dark Ages about 1,500 years ago, and the Little Ice Age of more recent vintage – were times of crop failures and famine; bubonic plague, influenza, typhus, and cholera pandemics; and terrible weather including violent storms, blizzards, and enormous floods.

So today we’re told by the United Nations and other panels of climate “experts” that global warming will cause starvation.

Why would it do that?

According to the experts, global warming will cause storms and floods. I guess these experts haven’t looked at historical records and found that storms and floods were more frequent, more powerful, and relatively more damaging during cold periods than warm.

Also overlooked in their zeal, famine was much more widespread and deadly during colder rather than warmer periods.

So was disease.

However, if you look into the roots of current concerns about starvation, you will see that they really are caused by global warming. Sort of.

Global warming alarmists convinced many that burning fossil fuels will cause warming through the greenhouse effect. These concerns caused frantic searches for alternatives to fossil fuels, which unfortunately gave rise to such abominations as ethanol and biofuels.

What are the sources of these alternative fuels?

Agricultural products.

What are the primary sources of food?

Agricultural products.

See a problem?

Of course, there is another threat to the poor’s food supply.


Prosperity in developing nations is fueled by energy consumption.

Prosperous people consume more meat.

Livestock compete for the same agricultural products as the poor, and so do ethanol and bio-fuels.

The poor basically are left with two choices.

1) Starve.

2) Or consume more energy and become more prosperous.

But wait.

Global warming alarmists want less energy consumption, not more. In particular, they want developed nations to drastically reduce their energy consumption below current levels to the levels of an earlier period, a period when there were far fewer people, and far less energy gobbling high-technology industries.

In other words, to a time when there was naturally lower energy needs.

That’s like asking the parents of four children to cut back their food consumption and reduce their family car size to what it was when they only had two, and when the two were much smaller.

So, for the sake of discussion, the developed nations make the cuts.

However, so far only Germany and Great Britain have been able to cut hydrocarbon emissions, Germany because they got rid of old inefficient East German plants, and Great Britain substituted North Sea natural gas for their old coal-burning generators. It was like “found money.” They would have made these emission cuts even if Kyoto never happened.

But anyway, the developed nations will cut emissions, and thereby eviscerate their economies.

Only Al Gore and his Merry Band of Benighted Environmentalists are trying to sell energy cuts as painless and not as sacrifices.

Although I’m sure they know better. Big Al may sound dumb, but he’s smarter than he looks. And he’s fooling a lot of people who think they’re smart.

The big developing nations – China, India, and Brazil - will continue their rapid economic development fueled by prodigious energy consumption and increased emissions.

The undeveloped nations will stay poor and their people starve, because their source of markets and capital, the developed nations, have slashed their economies and dried up the options for poor nations to grow theirs.

So the poor now have two choices.

1) Starve.

2) Leave.

Which would you choose?

And where are they going?

Does anyone want to guess?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Haggard Hillary Clinton

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Hillary looks like she was "rode hard and put up wet."

A Strong Ox hat tip to the Drudge Report, where about 12 million will see Hillary's picture in the next 24 hours, or almost 12 million more than will see it here. It is obvious that the strain of rapidly losing support is affecting her.

It will be fun to see what Bill does and says next to "help" Hillary and hog the limelight for himself.

It's a shame to see her falling so fast. With all her baggage, it would have been fun to watch the Republican nominee go after her.

With Obama, all the Republican will be able to say will just be a repeat of what Bill Clinton is saying now.

"He's a very liberal, very inexperienced candidate, without any proven leadership abilities."

In truth, he could say the same about Hillary, or Edwards as a matter of fact.

It looks like it's time for the Democrats to disinter John Kerrey, or bring back Big Al Gore (anyone as humongous as Al should really have their own ZIP Code).

The NFL's Stupid Parade

Everyone on the field – players, coaches, and officials – is a highly paid professional. How do I know? They call it professional football.

So today I watched the Dallas Cowboys at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys were driving for a score in the first half, when the Eagles’ defensive back Quentin Mikkell intercepted Tony Romo in the endzone. Good play. Eagles ball on the 20-yard line.

Except Mikkell, from five yards deep in the end zone, inexplicably decided to run the ball out instead of taking the touchback and the ball on the 20-yard line. He was tackled by Dallas on the 14-yard line, which meant that Philadelphia would lose six yards in field position because of Mikkell’s bad decision to run the ball out.

Except Mikkell fumbled, recovered by Dallas. Stupid is as stupid does.

I guess the Eagles didn’t want to make Mikkell feel he was all alone in stupidity, so at this point the Eagles’ coaching staff joined the Stupid Parade. As Dallas was about to start with their new first and ten on the Eagles’ 14-yard line, the Philly coach, Andy Reid, called a time out.

Why did he call a time out?

To see if he should throw a challenge flag for an instant replay.

Why not just throw the challenge flag? If the Eagles lose the challenge, they’ll lose a challenge and a time out. Apparently the Eagles’ brain trust wanted a chance to look at a replay before deciding to risk wasting a challenge.

After reviewing the play, and seeing the same thing I saw - the ball was coming out before Mikkell was down by contact – the Eagles threw the challenge flag, lost their challenge, and lost another timeout.

Dallas ran three uninspired plays, then kicked a field goal.

The final bill for Mikkell’s and the Eagles’ coaches stupidity? Dallas scores three points (it should have been seven), and Philly throws away two time outs and a challenge.

Eagles coach Andy Reid achieved a “stupid” encore when he chose to attempt a 47-yard field goal instead of going for a first down on fourth-and-short on the Dallas 30-yard line. Before I call his choice stupid, I should review his options on the play.

Punt – which would probably only result in a touchback and Dallas ball on the 20-yard line, a gain of about 10 yards in field position for the Eagles.

Good Eagles’ decision not to punt.

Go for the first down – Philadelphia might make the short yards and earn four more downs inside the Dallas 30-yard line. If not, Dallas’ ball on about their own 30-yard line.

Field goal attempt – three points if the kick is good, Dallas ball on their 37-yard line if it misses. Would it influence your decision if you know that the Eagles’ kicker David Akers was only two for nine in kicking field goals over 40 yards this season?

Akers is now only two for ten for kicks over 40 yards. Dallas ball on their 37-yard line.

I don’t want to just pick on the Eagles’ players on the field or their coaches. Even their sideline players got into the Stupid Parade. On a good defensive play on a Dallas pass attempt, the Eagles’ backup quarterback, A. J. Freely, impeded an official on the sideline and cost his team a 15-yard penalty.

Not to be outdone, the officials got into the Stupid Parade too, and did their usual crappy work. When Dallas defensive back Ken Hamlin put a Philadelphia receiver out for the game with a helmet-to-helmet tackle, the referees appeared to be blind. I am willing to bet that when NFL officials review the hit, Hamlin will be fined. But Dallas should have been penalized during the game. Justice is not served when the penalty is a financial penalty a week after the game is history.

When Dallas running back Marion Barber was tackled for a loss, he spiked the ball in frustration. That’s an automatic delay of game penalty, except when Barber did it right in front of a referee, it wasn’t called.

Earlier in the day, in the Tampa Bay – Atlanta game, the Buccaneer’s defensive end Greg White drew a 15-yard penalty for participating in a “choreographed” celebration of a fumble recovery. Both the Dallas and the Philadelphia players did the same sorts of celebrations following just about every significant play, and after many plays that were of little significance.

What is penalized, and when it is penalized, is capricious and arbitrary.

So that means the management of the National Football League is stupid, too.

They’re responsible for putting an activity worth billions of dollars in front of the American sports public each week that is officiated by referees whose rulings are capricious and arbitrary.

So there we have rampant stupidity in professional football: players whose stupid actions jeopardize their team’s ability to win. Coaches whose stupid decisions jeopardize their team’s chances to win. Officials whose unprofessional rulings reduce fans’ enjoyment of the games.

Any management group that jeopardizes a multi-billion dollar industry by putting unprofessional officiating on every field every week are clearly qualified to be the leaders of the Stupid Parade.

Take a bow, National Football League, and take your well-earned places leading the Parade.

Michael Vick’s “Friends”

My thoughts about basic human decency included the assumption that Michael Vick’s cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs would disgust everyone who heard the details of their torture and gruesome execution. When I watched the Atlanta Falcons being drubbed by the New Orleans Saints, I saw just the opposite in the Atlanta stands and sideline.

Who were those people wearing the Michael Vick # “7” jerseys? Closet sadistic torturers?

What was in the minds of Vick’s former teammates when they decided to wear “free Michael Vick” t-shirts under their game jerseys, and paint “MV 7” under their eyes, and tape it on their helmets?

Don’t their minds comprehend the pain and suffering Michael Vick inflicted on those dogs? He didn’t just kill them, he tortured them to death. He watched them writhe in pain and agony as he killed them and they slowly died, and he enjoyed their suffering.

Do Vick’s Falcon teammates comprehend that Michael Vick was tried, convicted, and sentenced in a federal court for serious violations? Do they know that he still faces charges for violating state laws? Do they realize that these charges, convictions, and sentences are deserved, and are not an unjust persecution of Michael Vick?

I got the impression watching their sideline antics that his former Falcon teammates were making a show of supporting Michael Vick, and that they thought he had been unfairly prosecuted.

I could sense they were thinking, “They wouldn’t be doing this if Michael Vick was white.”

What human being knows what Michael Vick was found guilty of and then says “Free Michael Vick?”

What is this mindless loyalty to Michael Vick? Atlanta fans and his teammates were counting on him to make exciting plays and help the Falcons win. He was easily the Falcon’s best player, and he let them down completely. And for what?

For the sadistic delight of watching what could have been affectionate and loyal pets kill and maim each other? You know that’s what dog fighting is, don’t you? Do you think you can just deny the reality of what Michael Vick did to those dogs? Can you put it out of your mind that the whole point of what he did was to witness cruel and sadistic injury and death to dogs?

And to gamble on it.

That’s right. In all the outrage about the pain and suffering Vick and his criminal friends inflicted on the dogs, it should never be overlooked that illegal gambling was the key element that motivated the dog fighting.

What was Vick?

That’s right, a professional football player.

What was he doing?

Right again, illegally gambling.

What happens to professional athletes when they are caught illegally gambling?

They’re banned for life, aren’t they?

Why would Michael Vick’s fans and teammates expect him to be treated differently than Pete Rose? Who, by the way, is white. Pete Rose certainly has far greater stature in sports than Michael Vick ever had, or now ever will. Pete Rose was not just a Hall of Fame performer, he was one of the premier or iconic Hall of Fame performers, the record holder for most base hits and games played, among others, and played in six World Series and sixteen All Star games in a 23-year career.

But he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose gambled; Pete Rose was banned for life. The only way he can get into the Hall of Fame is to buy a ticket at the door.

And if justice is served, that will be the only way Michael Vick will ever be able to get into another professional football game.

If it was up to me, he would be banned at the gate.

I couldn’t stand being in the same stadium with such a cruel, sadistic, and inhumane person.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Barry Bonds - King of the Steroid Supermen

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Now at 762 and still counting

My admiration for Barry Bond’s home run record just went up like a Roger Clemens rocket off Jason Giambi's bat when George Mitchell’s report of major league baseball steroid use was released.

Say what you will, but Hank Aaron never had to bat against Steroid Supermen.

I’ll go out on a limb (it’s a very thick limb) and state that the ones named are just the tip of the iceberg. As with all illegal and unethical endeavors, the first caught are the dumb and the prominent, often one and the same. Swimming below were the clever and cautious, who dove to the bottom to hide as soon as the net hit the water.

A lot of pitchers are down there. No wonder. Of all baseball players, pitchers get the greatest benefit from steroid use, because pitching is an unnatural act which places unusual stress on the pitcher’s throwing arm and legs. Pitchers also work more intensely when in the game than the other players. With the notable exception of the catcher, the pitcher is the only other player with something strenuous to do on every play when in the field.

Half a century ago I marveled that some pitchers could throw the ball 90 miles an hour. In recent years I have been flabber-foozled that many pitchers routinely throw over 100 miles an hour. Many commentators don’t even mention the now ubiquitous Juggs Gun until it starts registering pitch speed in three digits.

When they report: “He took something off his fast ball,” they now mean the pitcher dropped its speed to the low-nineties, the pitch we used to call a “Blue Blazer,” thrown by a pitcher we called a “flame-thrower.”

Now the same pitch is called a change-up.

Even more remarkable when considering Barry Bonds’ homerun record is that, unlike historical baseballing decades, where starting pitchers paced themselves and tried to pitch complete games, Bonds faced juiced pitchers who came at him in flame-throwing waves, knowing that they were only expected to go a few innings before another flame-thrower would relieve them.

It’s a tribute to Bonds that the managers of the fast-balling phenomena soon decided it was a better strategy to walk Bonds than to chance a few 100 mile per hour fast balls entering his strike zone.

The bottom line is, Bonds cheated, but he was far from being the only cheater. Certainly Hank Aaron was great in his time, in the Age of Clean Ballplayers. And certainly, as a fan, I liked his and Willy Mays’ baseball era more than this steroid-powered period. However, even then efforts were constantly being made to give competitive advantage to the homerun hitters. Pitchers over the years were not thrilled as the pitching mound was lowered and the strike zone shrank because pitchers like Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax got too good.

Many of Aaron’s homeruns would not have been hit if pitchers hadn’t been handicapped by changing the rules.

In an attempt to increase scores and reverse the dominance of good pitching, the American League went from being a major league to a AAAA minor league by adopting the designated hitter rule, which incidentally created roster spots for the kind of bulked up, immobile, defensive liability power hitters that steroid use produces.

Through this era of chemically crafted supermen, Bonds reigned as the most super, not the only superman. Naturally great players like Aaron and Mays would have been overshadowed by the hitters, and overmatched by the pitchers.

Maybe now, with knowledge and increased surveillance, baseball will return to being a contest of natural abilities.

I hope the fans will be content when the circus leaves and real baseball returns.

You know, sometimes they prefer circuses.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More United Nations Fraud - Global Warming

The United Nations never learns. The UN was caught red-handed running its Food For Oil scam with Saddam - no wonder they opposed the United States overthrowing him - so now they are putting all their efforts into their Global Warming Swindle.

The United Nations released their usual fraudulent, fear-mongering propaganda to try to spark the Bali conference into forcing the United States to make stupid commitments that would seriously damage our economy (and the rest of the world’s economies, too).

According to the UN, ten of the past twelve years were the warmest on record. On what record?

The United States, according to NASA, experienced six of its ten warmest years over fifty years ago. Since the United States has the most complete and sophisticated weather observation system in the world, its weather records probably do a better job of representing global temperature trends than any other.

Glaciers are in retreat all over the world (UN).

True, and have been for over 150 years since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850. That’s a century of glacier retreat before the atmospheric concentration of CO2 began its rapid increase after 1950.

Sea levels are rising (UN).

True, and have risen over 400 feet, or an average of two feet per century, since the end of the Ice Age. Since the end of the Little Ice Age, just over 150 years ago, sea levels have risen at a rate of about half a foot per century. In other words, sea levels were rising for a century before mankind began significant hydrocarbon use, and the current trend is merely a continuation.

In fact, as CO2 concentration began its rapid increase starting around 1945, global temperatures fell for three decades.

The same three decades that solar activity was lower.

Then temperatures increased for the next three decades.

The same three decades that solar activity increased.

According to the UN, the current century is perhaps the warmest in 1,300 years.

Perhaps not, since the Medieval Warm Period was within the past 1,000 years, and has been proven to have been much warmer than today. If proof you want, proof you get, and you don’t even need thermometer records or to count tree rings. Go to England and look at records of vineyards flourishing 1,000 years ago where they don't, or barely survive, today.

Grapevines don’t lie, and have no politics. Since the invention of wine and discovery of its salubrious effects, mankind has wanted to grow grapes nearby, and for a period of about three centuries, the English could. Now, with a lot of effort and expense, and greatly improved agricultural practices and cold tolerant vines, they almost can again.

A Harvard study of over 240 world-wide climate studies concluded the Medieval Warm Period was a global event, and that it was warmer then than now.

Going back just a bit further, about 5,000 years, the Holocene Optimum was even warmer.

The logic of carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change escapes me. In fact, it's completely illogical. During previous warming periods, carbon dioxide increased, but the increase followed warming, not preceded it.

That makes perfect sense.

What would cause carbon dioxide to increase, with resulting warming? During most of the warming periods, there were no beings recognizable as humans, and for recent warming periods there were at most a couple of million humans living at a bare subsistence level.

So what would cause increases in CO2, if mankind couldn’t be blamed?

Actually, the answer is very simple: CO2 increases naturally following warming – warming resulting from natural factors, such as solar activity and orbital variation – and huge quantities are released by the oceans as they warm. And from exposed rock as warming causes weathering.

Therefore, we would expect atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase during this period of natural warming, regardless of mankind’s paltry contribution, and mankind’s contribution is paltry. Nature produces about 680 gigatonnes of CO2 per year, to which mankind adds about 7 gigatonnes, or roughly one percent.

Still, after all that CO2 is generated, it only makes up 0.038% of the atmosphere, while another potent greenhouse gas, water vapor, makes up approximately one percent of the atmosphere, or roughly 26 times the amount of CO2.

Based on its sheer insignificance, CO2 and climate change is much ado about nothing, particularly since water vapor, a much more potent greenhouse gas, cannot be modeled effectively (particularly on the basis of human activity) and therefore has been left out of climate change computer models.

That's like leaving the pictures out when you conduct a survey of why men buy Playboy.

Five hundred million years ago carbon dioxide was 20 times more prevalent than today, decreasing to 4-5 times during the Jurassic period (200 to 145 million years ago, the middle of the Age of Dinosaurs) and then maintained a slow decline until the industrial revolution.

Now, for some reason, it is very important for some individuals and organizations to find impending disaster in the efforts of others to improve their economic circumstances.

Why is that?

Why would Al Gore and his Acolytes, and the United Nations and its Sycophants, want to gain control over the economic decisions made by individuals and nations?

Again, the answer is simple. They want power, they want to be in charge. It used to be easier to get power. All you had to do was demagogue a people to the extent you gained power over the military, then strengthen the military and liquidate all opposition. Now you have to find a cause that fixes blame on the activities of man, and then be the agent to fix the problem.

For an example of the method, just watch “The Music Man.”

“We got trouble
Right here on Planet Earth
It begins with ‘T’
And that rhymes with ‘G’
And that stands for global warming”

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters, thanks to Al Gore and the United Nations, salvation is at hand!

Just not yours.

Taking One For The Flipper – Hillary’s Adviser Resigns for Obama Drugs Remark

Bill Shaheen, Clinton's New Hampshire co-chair and the husband of former governor Jeanne Shaheen, told the Washington Post that Obama’s past drug use would be brought up by Republicans and would lead to more questions about how much he abused, whether he sold any, etc.

Shaheen also used the occasion to take a dig at President Bush for alleged youthful drug experimentation, and to accuse the Republicans of dirty tricks that Republicans haven’t even had a chance to pull – yet.

Shaheen then resigned his position on Hillary’s campaign staff, and said in a statement announcing his resignation that his remarks to The Washington Post on Wednesday were "in no way authorized" by the senator from New York or her campaign.

But somebody had to do something to stop the drop, and a desperate Hillary camp cried, “Someone has to bring up the toke, the coke.”

I wonder, do Democrats draw straws to see who will fall on their sword for Hillary?

After Shaheen’s resignation, Mark Penn, Hillary’s chief strategist, appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball."

"The issue related to cocaine use is not something the campaign is in any way raising," Penn said as he raised the issue.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Democrat's Alternative Minimum Tax Fiasco

The editorial staff of the San Francisco Chronicle has never been accused of rational analysis of an issue, and their position on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) perpetuates their irrationality.

They begin their analysis by stating that the AMT was an all-time winner of the Good Idea Gone Bad award. That leaves me to wonder, why was it a good idea in the first place?

Because Democrats created it, and now don't know what to do to prevent current and future catastrophes?

What was the purpose of the AMT?

The answer, to prevent people from dodging taxes by adhering to tax law and taking legal and permitted deductions (including long-term capital gains, accelerated depreciation, certain medical expenses, percentage depletion, certain tax-exempt income, certain credits, personal exemptions, and the standard deduction).

The tax laws, of course, were crafted by Congress to encourage and reward taxpayers to do certain things, but Congress didn’t intend that people actually do those things scrupulously and not pay any income tax at all. That offended Congress’ sense of fair play, thinking that in such circumstances that taxpayers should do their civic duty and overpay their taxes.

Since no taxpayers with significant incomes could be found that were so stupid that they paid taxes they didn’t have to, a Democrat Congress and President decided to fix the problem and created the AMT in 1969.

As with the rest of LBJ’s programs, the AMT rapidly became what it wasn’t intended to be, a sloppily devised program that fed on gains from inflation, and increasingly preyed upon taxpayers in high income, high tax urban areas, predominantly Democrats.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the AMT was so successful at taxing inflationary gains that their plans for spending increases are highly dependent upon the increased tax revenues the AMT unchanged would generate.

At this point the Democrats, and their mouthpieces like the San Francisco Chronicle, protest that the tax revenues lost by eliminating or scaling back the AMT must be replaced by increasing some other tax.

What is the logic in that?

If this misbegotten legislation had never been passed there would not be a huge pot sitting at the end of the IRS rainbow causing spendaholic congress-people to desperately search for replacement revenue.

Even Democrats admit that the taxes generated by the AMT are by mistake, that there never was intent to penalize middle-class taxpayers for the sin of scrupulous compliance with tax law by the wealthy. In fact, the original intent was to nail only 155 taxpayers, but it immediately went totally out of control.

And these are the folks you want running health care?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The McCarthy Era - Credit Where Credit Is Due

Al Gore gets credit for inventing the Internet, but it is incredible what Senator Joseph McCarthy (Republican, Wisconsin, who served from 1947 until his death in 1957) is credited with inventing. For example, Liberals credit him with creating the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which is pretty neat work for a Senator, I must admit.

Even more exceptional, the HUAC was actually created in 1938, nine years before McCarthy entered national politics, and twelve years before McCarthy began his own investigations in the Senate in 1950.The “McCarthy Era” is also famous for the Hollywood "Blacklist", even though it was the work of the - wait for it (dramatic drum roll) - the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)!

And even though the Blacklist is attributed to the “McCarthy Era,” it actually began in 1947, a year before McCarthy entered office.

In a final touch of irony, the HUAC was created and operated by (more dramatic drum rolls) - the Democrats, who were the majority party in the House during the entire three-decade period of the HUAC’s existence.

To recap, a Senate Republican, McCarthy, is given credit for a House committee created and operated by Democrats long before, during, and long after his term in office.Now, of course, history illiterate Americans, which seems a good working definition of Democrats, blame the blacklisting and search for Communist infiltrators on McCarthy and Republicans, even though Republicans were the minority party throughout.

However, fair being fair, Democrats are now credited with passing Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, even though almost all of the opposition was from the Democrat’s Solid South, and Republicans were the Civil Rights Act’s strongest supporters.

The same Liberal historical illiterates now credit President Nixon with starting the Vietnam War instead of ending it. The history-challenged Liberals, aka Democrats, give a free pass to JFK and LBJ for starting and escalating the war because, of course, they didn't really mean it, and everyone knows that mean Republicans always want wars, and Democrats never do.

Liberalism and historical inaccuracy are natural bedfellows. The New York Times set the standard years ago with their Pulitzer Prize winning reportage from the Soviet Union by their long-time reporter there, Walter Duranty. To stay on the good side of Stalin, Mr. Duranty studiously avoided noticing an estimated three to ten million Ukrainians who perished from famine (Holdomor) caused by collectivism.

As with many things, it wasn’t until after the Soviet Union collapsed that we started finding many truths that our main stream media had covered up or mistakenly reported over the years. In particular, we found out how widespread Communist infiltration had been, in particular in entertainment and labor unions.

Yes indeed, although ridiculed for decades by our main stream media, there really were a lot of “Reds under our beds,” and the Red Scare was for real.

Just as we didn’t admit the Holocaust atrocities until we saw the evidence as we liberated its victims, so we wouldn’t recognize the atrocities that killed tens of millions of Chinese and Soviet citizens at the hands of their Communist governments until long after the events. Instead of gathering information and condemning leftist atrocities, our main stream media was content to ridicule and demean critics of Communist totalitarians.

Even though left-wing governments have caused the slaughter of an average of a million humans (almost all their own citizens) a year for the past century, the leftist main stream media persists in characterizing right-wingers as the greatest threat to world peace. This practice has gone to ridiculous lengths to blame the right for atrocities.

For example, the National Socialists of Germany, aka Nazis, are called right-wingers, even though the title of their party declares they are socialists. The dictatorial rulers of China and the Soviet Union were always referred to by the media as right wingers or conservatives.

How “disbelievable!”

The top Communists, by definition the most left of the left, are classified as the right. These are the people in the world who are most opposed to conservative, aka right wing, principles of individual rights, property rights, capitalism, and privatization of government functions such as social security and medical care.

But there we have it. Our main stream media picks and chooses the labels that fit their Liberal viewpoint, not that fit the facts. It is no accident that “Newspeak” was the official language of the English Socialist Party, as envisioned by George Orwell and described in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The Left and its media allies have enshrined such titles as the People’s Democratic Republic of (insert name of Communist country here), and describe their leaders (until their failures can no longer be glossed over) as “progressives.”

Funny, that’s what Liberal leaders call themselves today to avoid being labeled “Liberals.”

I guess that’s the same as calling a period the McCarthy Era, even if very little of it had anything to do with its namesake.

George Orwell would applaud.

Islam, Religion of Peace, Tolerance and Human Rights

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A Muslim father in Toronto murdered his 16-year old daughter because she wouldn’t wear the hijab as he demanded. I’m sure that Liberals will all jump to his defense: “You have to respect his culture and beliefs. In our culture we ground the kid for a week; in Islamic culture they just ground the kid permanently.”

You know "honor killings" are part of Muslim culture, don't you? I wonder what Dr. Spock, the ultimate non-judgmental Liberal icon, would have said about Muslim child-rearing practices.

Feminists, human-rights activists, and Liberals of all stripes have been resoundingly silent about Muslim honor killings. "It's their culture, you know. We mustn't be judgmental."

Sometimes the person who impugns the honor of her husband, father, or family, is not lucky enough to die.

Zahida Perveen's head is shrouded in a white cotton veil, which she self-consciously tightens every few moments. But when she reaches down to her baby daughter, the veil falls away to reveal the face of one of Pakistan's most horrific social ills, broadly known as "honour" crimes. Perveen's eyes are empty sockets of unseeing flesh, her earlobes have been sliced off, and her nose is a gaping, reddened stump of bone.

Sixteen months ago, her husband, in a fit of rage over her alleged affair with a brother-in-law, bound her hands and feet and slashed her with a razor and knife. She was three months pregnant at the time. "He came home from the mosque and accused me of having a bad character," the tiny, 32-year-old woman murmured as she awaited a court hearing ... "I told him it was not true, but he didn't believe me. He caught me and tied me up, and then he started cutting my face. He never said a word except, "This is your last night." (Constable, "The Price of 'Honour'," The Gazette (Montreal), May 22, 2000.)

Perveen's husband stated in court that "What I did was wrong, but I am satisfied. I did it for my honour and prestige."

Go here for more information about how Muslims handle female disobedience, alleged infidelity, or just about any other instance of a Muslim male being dissatisfied by something a female did or didn't do.

In the curious logic of Islam, if a Muslim woman is raped, she is killed by her family. Then her brothers rape the wife of the rapist, who then is killed by her father and her rapist husband. The result? Two innocent victims dead, and many guilty parties congratulating themselves for preserving their honor and prestige.

True, we do look at many things differently. Here when the National Endowment for the Arts subsidizes an “artist” to create “Piss Christ,” simply a photo of a plastic crucifix in a jar of the artiste's urine, we declare anyone who doesn’t come all over themselves in orgasmic appreciation of such artistic vision as a cultural Neanderthal. (For an example of such self-gratifying excess, go to's review of The Holy Virgin Mary in elephant dung and pornography in their Arts & Entertainment section.)

In an Islamic culture any artist who sketches anything, and labels it “Muhammad,” or a teacher who allows a Teddy Bear to be named “Muhammad,” is immediately reserved a prominent position in front of a firing squad.

Artistic expression and freedom be damned.

Take a simple test. Google “Piss Christ” and you will find thousands of images and news stories, not one of them about anyone killed because of it.

Now Google “Danish cartoons.” You will find articles about jihad and fatwas against the cartoonists, and against any publication that even runs one of the cartoons, or just champions the right of a free press to publish them.

What you will find little of is the cartoons actually being published in a western newspaper or magazine (but you can see them here. Please be my guest). In contrast, after Piss Christ was “created,” then displayed in 1989, its image was ubiquitous.

Personally, “Piss Christ” and “Elephant Dung Virgin Mary With Pornography” inspired me to draw “Gay Muhammad.”

I’m still waiting for a check from the NEA to match the $15,000 (with increases for inflation) grant they gave Andrés Serrano for his masterpiece.

Or a laudatory review in the Arts & Entertainment section of

Democrats Get Religion (On Taxes)

No, Democrats haven’t become religious, but they suddenly want to cut taxes, at least the Alternative Minimum Tax.

“Why is that?” a sensible person might ask.

Even a Democrat might ask.

Because many Democrats live in high tax states, particularly high property tax states. The income shielded by deducting those high state taxes has now passed the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) threshold and is being taxed, at a rate high enough to produce a scream from “tax and spend” Democrats. Those are the same Democrats who vow that Americans are not being taxed enough, but really mean that other Americans are not being taxed enough.

In cutting the Alternative Minimum Tax, Democrats are hoist on their own petard. They vowed that any tax cut has to be “paid for,” either by increasing another tax, or cutting spending (PAYGO).

Since cutting spending is not in Democrats’ DNA, and raising taxes is, you know where this is headed.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the New Democrat Coalition, demands an AMT bill that conforms with budget rules. “I want AMT paid for. I think the entire Democratic Caucus wants the AMT paid for. I am very resolved to that."

Tauscher said Senate Republicans need to recognize that a new party controls Congress, and compromise.

“I would remind them we took the majority and decided we were not going to run the government as they did, as profligate spenders.”

Democrats want to return to running the government their own way, as profligate taxers first, then as profligate spenders.

I usually don’t go out of my way to solve Democrats’ problems, but just this once I will, since tax cuts are near and dear to my heart.

In this case, the solution leaped off the front pages of newspapers all over the country today: “Senate rejects overhaul of farm subsidies.” Actually, the farm bill overhaul was more a repackaging. Instead of giving almost all crop subsidies to huge commodity farms primarily in the Mid-West, farmers of previously unsubsidized crops would be invited to join the others already feeding at the government-supported trough.

“Reform” as defined by Democrats.

And only a Liberal rag like the San Francisco Chronicle would characterize a crushing 37-58 loss on a farm bill “overhaul” as progress.

However, it’s perfect. The Democrats want to cut or eliminate a rapacious tax, the Alternative Minimum, and farm subsidies in the Land of Perpetual Agricultural Surpluses should be totally eliminated.


Abolish the AMT!


Abolish farm subsidies!

This is such a beautiful win-win for the American taxpayer, there is no way in Hell the Democrats will do it. They’re looking for a tax to raise to replace tax revenue lost by eliminating the AMT, not spending they can cut.

In fact, as illustrated by their attempt to repackage and expand farm subsidies, cutting spending is the last thing on their minds.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Democrats Weasel Out on Waterboarding

The San Francisco Chronicle, as usual, is leading the race to not report news that doesn’t fit the Chronicle’s Liberal point of view. When the Washington Post reported that Democrat leaders were briefed on waterboarding in 2002, and raised no objections then (see my blog post here), I immediately started the countdown clock to see how long the Chronicle would avoid reporting this news.

Today, when most newspapers, Google, Yahoo, and the Drudge Report are headlining the Washington Post article, the Chronicle was able to bury the information in an article about the CIA agent who destroyed tapes of two interrogations involving waterboarding.

Senator Joseph Biden, a presidential hopeless, and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, continues to make a big issue of the destruction of the interrogation tapes, without addressing the key issue: “When did the Democrat leaders know the CIA was going to and did use waterboarding, and when did they all forget they knew?”

Also, since Democrats were briefed on waterboarding in 2002 and 2003, and it hasn’t been used since 2003, why are they now making such a big issue of it late in 2007?

Is it because the Surge is working, the economy’s good, people are starting to figure out that man-caused global warming is a swindle, and Democrats desperately have to find a new topic?

Just as Democrats once knew that Iraq had WMDs and was a nuclear weapons threat, and then quickly “unknew” it after Saddam was overthrown, so now Democrat leaders can’t remember what they were briefed on only five years ago.

Their selective memories fit the pattern of leading Democrats such as Bill Clinton, who couldn’t remember having sex with “that woman,” and recently couldn’t remember that he supported the invasion of Iraq before he “never” supported the invasion of Iraq. Bill probably still doesn’t remember that he launched an air attack on Iraq on December 16, 1998 on a mission “to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.”

Or Hillary, who couldn’t remember how her Rose Law Firm billing records were lost in her White House book room for two years after they were subpoenaed, and still isn’t sure whether she supported the invasion of Iraq or didn’t (she did).

So what did Democrat leaders know about waterboarding, and when did they know it?

We already have the answers to these questions, but it will be interesting to see how they, with the able assistance of main stream media like the Chronicle, weasel out of this one.

When dealing with Democrats, the weasel will out.

Our 2007 Christmas Letter

Our Christmas letter could be your Christmas letter, or just about anyone’s. The past year had a mix of joy and sorrow, as most do. In the spring, Alice’s younger brother Robby died of colon cancer. My oldest grandchild Leaha made me a great-grandfather when Rochelle was born in July. Until we can get together and compare notes, I’m just going to skim our highlights. 

In February, Alice finally had the operation on her stomach and esophagus she wanted for years, and it worked out far better than she had even dreamed. Her reflux problem is totally gone, and the addition of fibrous foods she had had to avoid worked wonders, losing over thirty pounds in eight months. Without dieting, just eating normally – small portions, and frequent snacks.

  In June we took a train trip to Boston for Alice’s niece Sarah’s Harvard graduation, and then on to Rockville, Maryland to visit dear friends. We are now Amtrack experts and advise: 1) Be prepared to be eight hours or more late. 2) Relax and enjoy anyway. 3) Bring lots of books. 4) Book the best accommodations you can afford.

I continued to pursue medical tourism, this time to Budapest, Hungary, for four dental implants. I go back in May to have the caps put on. On the way to Budapest we stopped in Brussels for a few days, and my luggage went on to Budapest by itself to wait for me to catch up. We stayed in a fun hotel in Budapest, the Gellert, and enjoyed its thermal baths almost daily. Each evening at dinner a Hungarian quintet serenaded Alice and the other pretty diners. 

We got back just in time to take a three-week China tour with Alice’s father George and his fiancée Susan. China met or exceeded all expectations – the Forbidden City, Great Wall, terra-cotta soldiers, a five-night cruise up the Yangtze through the Three Gorges dam project – but our greatest discovery was the friendliness and energy of the people we met all along our journey. As Alice chided our tour director, a Chinese Communist Party member, “you’re more capitalist than we are.” From Alice and I, that is very high praise indeed. Shanghai by night, by day, by anytime, is very impressive. Hong Kong ditto. My only regret was that I never visited old Hong Kong, so when we got back we watched “The World of Suzie Wong” and got some of its flavor.

Back in Gualala now, summer-like days in the middle of November, walking on the beach and playing “Almost Fetch” with Buddy, immensely grateful for what we have, tinged with sadness for what we’ve lost, living the life we would choose if we got to do it all over again, hoping all is well with you and yours.

“It’s a grand life, it is, and far better than we expected.” We’ll take it.


Alice, Michael, and Buddy with his little sister Duchess