Monday, April 30, 2007

Campaign Coverage

The Democrats running for president seem to be getting a lot more coverage than the Republicans. I'm not just talking about coverage generated by their first debate. That is understandable. It's that they are getting more coverage in general.

I'm depending on a summary of wire-service reports on MyWay and on MSNBC and things might be different on other news sources but I don't think so. This fits previous patterns.

In the last few days there have been featured stories about Barack and Clinton, both criticizing Bush. Biden got a story on Iraq. There was also a story about McCain trying to convince a Republican convention that he really is conservative. In addition, Keith Olbermann posted one of his scathing "how dare you sir?" editorials about a speech that Giuliani gave. I didn't see the speech itself covered. If it was, it scrolled off of MSNBC's headlines a long time before Olbermann's editorial did.

Keep in mind that there are more Republicans than Democrats running. They are out there making speeches. They just aren't getting any coverage.

Why? The normal reason given is that Republicans are so orderly that there is little to cover compared to the raucous Democratic primaries. This isn't the real reason but it is what reporters tell us when asked.

There are a several factors that really affect coverage.

The first is that reporters prefer covering Democrats. They are Democrats themselves and they are interested in who they will be voting for, November 2008. This is not only true for the reporters covering the Democrats but also for the editors who decide which stories will get links, and, for that matter, which stories are even posted.

Then there is the assumption that the Democrats will win so the Republicans are just going through the motions. The assumption is that the 2006 election represented a permanent shift in voting patterns (or at least one that will last through 2008). Ohio is considered especially important. All the Democrat needs to do is win the states Kerry won plus Ohio to win the White House. Since Democrats won the Governor's office and a Senate seat, the assumption is that Ohio will go to the Democrat.

The final reason is that editors like the message that the Democrats are giving. They are criticizing Bush. Few reporters or editors like Bush. It is against editorial ethics to directly criticize the President day after day except in the editorial pages but they can get around this by quoting someone else as criticizing Bush. In fact, unless the candidates spend their entire speeches attacking Bush, the reporters and editors are going out of their way to pull anti-Bush quotes.

So does this matter? Yes. This is the first open election in my lifetime (unless you count Hillary as being a continuation of Bill's presidency). By over-covering one side, it gives the Democrats an aura of inevitability.

The big question is if a Democratic victory is really inevitable? Not according to the polls. Several polls have Republican front-runner Giuliani beating both Hillary and Barack. In fact, as things stand right now, he has a good shot at willing both Ohio and picking up Pennsylvania.

This means that fair coverage is important. The election is not a forgone conclusion. Not that this will make any difference to the MSM.

The good thing here is that the press might over-cover the Democrats. The Republican candidate may well seem fresh by the time the nomination is settled.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Surrendering for Votes

A few days ago I expressed the opinion that the electorate will turn against the Democrats if they are seen as surrendering in Iraq. The next day I saw a poll that showed around 57% of the population does support a quick pullout from Iraq. I also saw a quote indicating that Senate Majority Leader Reid's private pollster had come up with similar numbers.

That explains why Reid has done such a turn-around. Not long ago he was assuring people that he was not pushing for an immediate pull-out (there's no other way to describe a pull-out that starts in five months).

I still think that the Democrats will regret this and that they will regret it even more if they prevail. There were similar conditions in the early 1970s. A Democratic Congress acted against an unpopular president and cut funding for an unpopular war. There were loud voices insisting that our presence was only making things worse and that a pull-out would bring peace.

Things didn't work out so well in Viet Nam. The short-lived peace turned into slaughter. Many anti-war activists apologized for their part in ending the war.

But that's just stuff that happened to foreigners. Liberals have a long history of ignoring atrocities committed by communists. More important (to the Democrats), the American electorate lost faith in their ability to lead in a crisis. From the 1980s through the 2004 election they kept asking why the voters didn't trust them in a war. The simple answer is that they don't believe in war. They think that everything can be solved through "continuing dialogs", addressing "root problems" and, as a last resort, using law enforcement. Many liberals insisted at the time that the reaction to 9/11 should have been a law enforcement issue. More of them insist that now. It is the accepted opinion of the left that 9/11 was hardly worth noticing and that Bush seized on an excuse to implement his authoritarian (some call it fascist) agenda.

So, if we pull out in October, 2007 or January, 2009 and things get worse in Iraq, who is the public going to blame?

Several events are likely. Iraq will erupt into a full-fledged civil war; Iran and possibly Syria and Turkey will get involved and annex portions of Iraq; and things will get worse in Afghanistan - a lot worse. The Taliban will know for certain that they can win against America if they just keep the casualty count high enough.

All future wars will be tougher, also. Right now we are trying to prove that Viet Nam was the exception and that Americans are tough enough to win an occupancy. Failure in Iraq will prove that a small force that fights dirty enough can always outlast Americans.

And the public will blame the Democrats. They may win the presidency and increase their majority in Congress in 2008 but it will catch up with them soon enough and it will stick for decades.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dropping the F-Word

No - not THAT F-word. I mean Fascist. Naomi Wolf thinks that America had a fascist takeover but somehow she's the only one to notice.

Her proof? She starts out with this list:
Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody. hey were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
I have yet to see armed soldiers in my neighborhood, the press is still firmly in private (and anti-Bush hands), etc. Regardless, she goes on to give a ten-point list of things that have happened in America. I'm not going to copy the whole column, just points:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America.
Her logic here is strained. She admits that there is a threat but she ignores that the US is the designated enemy of Islamic terrorists. Spain thought that they were too small to be a target then assumed that they were immune because they changed governments. America does not have that luxury. We have been a target since the 1980s, across four presidents. As with many liberals, Wolf pretends that all we have to do is dump Bush and Israel and the terrorists will love us. Any language to the contrary is fascist.

2. Create a gulag
Name a war in the last 200 years that didn't have some place to keep POWs. With a very few exceptions, the people in the prisons she lists are foreign combatants caught under arms. No, we are not granting them the full rights of Americans in court. This is an impossibility with POWs. They have been held for years without a hearing because liberals held the hearings up in court.

What we do not have is a system of prisons for holding political dissidents. If we did then there wouldn't be anyone left to spew venom on Kos.

3. Develop a thug caste
Most of this point is just silly. Near the end it gets outright offensive.
Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000.
There were a lot of questions about how the Gore people conducted the recount. Bush supporters staged a demonstration against this and Wolf inflates this into brownshirts. Contrast this with the people on the left who think it is ok to trash a city for daring to host a meeting of the WTO.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system
We are at war in several different ways. Surveillance to look for terrorists is not the same as snooping on political foes.

5. Harass citizens' groups
The IRS was actively used to harass the Clintons' political enemies. Wolf gives a few isolated examples that happened under Bush. If this is fascism then it got better when Bush took office.

She also complains about protest groups being infiltrated. Considering how many protests are organized by communist-affiliated groups and the level of rhetoric, I hope that the government is keeping an eye on these people. This is nothing new nor is it unique to America. All governments keep potentially violent groups under surveillance.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
The TSA's watch list needs reform but it's a long way from the arbitrary arrests she describes in actual fascist countries.

7. Target key individuals
She doesn't have much to offer here. Academia actively represses conservatives. An independent conservative movement to bring balance is misrepresented. A few other examples are given but not accurately.

8. Control the press
Obviously she has not read the New York Times or watched Olberman on MSNBC or watched any network news.

9. Dissent equals treason
She goes out on a limb here. The President has the authority to declare citizens enemy combatants. From there they still get a trial. She is sure that this will change. Her proof? Well.. she's really sure.

10. Suspend the rule of law
One of the reasons that it took too long for aid to reach Louisiana after Katrina was the difficulty in declaring martial law. The response to that is given as evidence of a fascist takeover.

All of this is a example of the well-documented Bush Derangement Syndrome. The left is sure that Bush is evil. After the 2004 election they insisted that the Republicans had taken over the elections and that they would never allow the Democrats to win again. That was forgotten after the 2006 election.

Wolf could have made the same case against Clinton. The left was sure that Reagan was going to take over the government to say nothing of Nixon's planned coup.

There will be a new president elected in 2008. Bush will leave office quietly in 2009 and a new set of conspiracy theories will start.

Democrats Gone Wild

As I have pointed out before, the Democrats ran their 2006 congressional campaign on "a new direction in Iraq" and fiscal responsibility. Between the election and taking office, Speaker-elect Pelosi promised that she would keep a lid on direct attacks on the President. The goal was to show that the Democrats are ready to govern the country.

Less than five months after they assumed control of Congress and things are a mess. Committees are investigating the Attorney General and now one is investigating the claim that Saddam was trying to get yellowcake. uranium and is planning to subpoena Secretary of State Rice.

Articles of impeachment  of both the President and the Vice-President are being prepared.

On Iraq, the House originally tried to appear fair by giving Bush a year and a half to stabilize Iraq before withdrawing the troops. The Senate called for a less-than-reasonable 12 months. The compromise calls for a pull-out starting in five months and ending in 11.

In order to pass the Iraq deadline, the Democrats abandoned all pretense of fiscal restraint.

Speaker Pelosi herself went to Syria to offer a "Democratic-alternative foreign policy".

This will end badly for the Democrats. They are paying too much attention to Bush's approval rating and not enough to their own. While Bush's ratings are low, there is nothing to indicate that the country is thrilled with the job that the Democrats are doing, either.

Congress is considering a bill co-sponsored by Barack Obama that would allow people to sue for comparable worth.

Here's where they are going wrong:

They may yet get the head of the Attorney General, but their investigation into the yellowcake claim is futile. The British already investigated this and found that there was credible reason to assume that Saddam tried to purchase some. Even Ambassador Wilson admitted this when under oath.

The Democrats  may have enough votes for impeachment but they are a long way from enough for a conviction. They have no cause except spite and too many years of listening to their own propaganda. The attempt to impeach Clinton helped him and made the Republicans look petty. It is unlikely that this will come out any better.

Republicans are starting to quote troops in the field as saying that Congress's antics hurt them. The Democrats in Congress are unwilling to get progress report from the generals in charge. They are leaving themselves wide open to the charge that they cannot be trusted with the nation's security. I suspect that many Democrats are supporting the five month pull-out because they know it will will be vetoed and they need to satisfy MoveOn. There is no way to interpret the five-month pull-out as anything but a non-binding surrender by Congress.

Foreign policy is set by the President and the State Department. The House has no say at all in the process.

Finally, comparable worth never gained traction when feminists first pushed it. The idea of having a trial judge set your pay strikes at the heart of free-enterprise. Even most feminists gave up on it as study after study proved that women make less because they value other employment factors over pay.

I will be very surprised if any of this goes anywhere. Most likely it will turn into a train crash that the Republicans can use in 2008.

I wonder if Karl Rove is behind it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sheryl's "Joke"

Last week Sheryl Crow suggested that one piece of toilet paper should be enough.
Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.
Her little suggestion got world-wide coverage. Now she says that it was just a joke.

Was it? Granted it was inane but so was everything else she posted during her tour. Maybe the whole thing was a joke?

Then there was the run-in with Karl Rove.

Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow?

Obviously he read Sheryl's blog and was concerned about what else that hand had touched.

There is a certain irony in Sheryl and Laurie's encounter with Rove. Early in the tour Laurie was upset that someone dared to question her view of reality yet she does not allow anyone else the same privilege. After all, she produced An Inconvenient Truth in which Al Gore declared that the discussion is closed. As is Laurie's mind.

Or maybe they were having another joke.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Who to Blame?

The normal human response to a tragedy such as last week's shootings at Virginia Tech is to find someone to blame. A lot of criticism was directed at the school administrators for not going into lock-down immediately. Given that it first appeared to be a simple domestic dispute with the wrong assumed suspect, there was little reason for a lock-down. It is also questionable how much good an earlier email would have done.

Video games were quickly blamed for inciting Cho to violence. This is unlikely as he did not seem to even own a game console.

Easy access to guns has been given as a reason. There are several problems with that. Last week was the anniversary of two other major tragedies - Columbine when two students tried to explode a bomb in a lunchroom and Oklahoma City where a crazed person did explode a bomb. Clearly someone who is bent on murder does not need firearms.

One part of the debate has been glossed over when talking about Cho's background. Over a year ago he was declared a danger to himself and others which should have disqualified him from firearms purchases. The part that no one seems to be talking about is that he could not be held because of how difficult it is to institutionalize someone involuntarily. If Cho had been locked up and getting treatment then he could not have killed anyone. This should be part of the national dialog but is not.

Everyone who knew him talks about how quiet he was. After hearing the videos he sent to NBC I can see why. He was ashamed of his thick Korean accent. Some accounts say that kids used to make fun of this. Clearly this was a major factor.

This raises a new set of questions. Cho came to America at the age of eight. Why didn't he speak better English? I know someone whose parents only spoke Chinese. He entered Kindergarten without knowing a word of English but when I met him as an adult he had no accent. Possibly Cho was enrolled in a Korean-language class for years and only learned English later.

Drudge put a copy of one of Cho's plays on-line. It is very disturbing. A well-meaning but not too smart Dick McBurger is trying to make peace with his step-son. The step-son accuses McBurger of awful things until Dick finally kills the step-son.

As far as I know, Cho was not adopted so where did the issues with an adopted father come from? My guess is that Dick McBurger was symbolic of Cho's adopted country. Seen in this light, Cho was predicting his own death by his adopted "father".

When all is said and done, the responsibility rests with Cho. Lots of people had a tough childhood without resorting to murder. It is not satisfying for the rest of us. We want someone to punish but the person really at fault is dead by his own hand.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Can Climate Change be Predicted?

Most of the case for global warming comes from computer models. The question is, if computer models have trouble predicting the weather a week from now then can they predict the climate fifty years from now?

RealClimate has an answer to this here. This is an influential climate blog. Al Gore recommends it and it has a relationship with Michael Mann, the creator of the Hockey Stick paleo-temperature reconstruction.

To summarize what RealClimate says, weather prediction is hard but climate is easy. Summer and winter are predictable. You can predict that it is cooler at high altitudes. Some local areas have distinct climates such as Northern Europe. Also, the greenhouse effect is demonstrable and carbon dioxide is known to absorb heat.

So - case closed? Not in the least. Yes, the seasons are predictable but this is nothing but statistical averaging. It is not a model that uses all known factors and computes the climate. It is not testable - you cannot roll it forward and backward and compare it to actual measurements (because that's all it is). And you cannot predict change with a statistical average.

It is also possible to predict the same climate using an invalid model. In the Middle Ages philosophers spent a lot of effort computing how the world worked but they started with the assumption that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

For that matter, a 10-year-old could make the same predictions based on nothing but his own experience.

What RealClimate was trying to say and many of the comments say is that local weather is subject to too many random fluctuations to be reliably predictable but these tend to cancel each other out when figured over a large enough area (a hemisphere for example). This allows a simplification in climate models so that it can be reduced to basic forcings. Since CO2 is a forcing, all we have to do is add in the heat gain from additional CO2 and we have the future climate.

Is this true? No. If it was then temperatures for the 20th century would show a smooth climb. Instead there is a climb through the 1930s, a dip that lasted into the 1970s, and a climb again.

The truth is that there are significant unknowns. Not all forcings are known nor is their effect. There are a numerous substances being released into the atmosphere constantly, both from nature and human-derived. These have different effects, some canceling out others.

There are also natural rhythms that are not well-understood. Both the Atlantic and Pacific have multi-decadal oscillations that warm and cool the oceans. El Nino and la Nina cycles are not at all understood but have a major effect. The effects of solar variations may be underestimated.

Then there are what Donald Rumsfeld called "unknown unknowns". If you push a car down a hill and measure it's speed over the first hundred feet you will see it accelerating. From this you would conclude that it would continue to accelerate. In fact, the faster the car goes the more friction is generated. Eventually the friction balances the acceleration and it reaches a stable speed... until you run out of hill.

Unless the driver pops the clutch and the engine starts, speeding the car up even more.

Water vapor and the effect of clouds are the unknown unknowns here. Global warming theory holds that as temperature increases, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere will increase until it reaches a tipping point. This would be equivalent to popping the clutch. Or it might cause more clouds, trapping even more heat which would also correspond to popping the clutch.

On the other hand, more clouds might reflect heat, stabilizing the temperature, corresponding to friction.

Or there might be other warming factors that have not yet been discovered but are subject to cycles. That would be running out of hill.

So, climate projection is possible if you know all of the forcings but impossible if you don't.

Do we know all of the forcings? No. That's where being able to roll the models forward and backward is important. If the models are accurate then they will match historic climate. They don't. The programmers have never solved this. They have forced their models to match the real world but that means that there is no guarantee that they will continue to match when predicting the future.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Missing From the News

Yesterday while we were waiting for word about who the Virginia Tech shooter was, my wife mentioned that he was Asian. "What?" I asked. I had just read an updated wire service account and it said nothing nothing about his ethnicity.

It turns out that this was suppressed. The Asian American Journalists Association issued this advisory:
As coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting continues to unfold, AAJA urges all media to avoid using racial identifiers unless there is a compelling or germane reason. There is no evidence at this early point that the race or ethnicity of the suspected gunman has anything to do with the incident, and to include such mention serves only to unfairly portray an entire people.
They are wrong about the race and ethnicity not having anything to do with the story. I'm sure that many people's first thought was that this was the work of a terrorists. The fact that the authorities withheld any information for so long gave the impression that something was being covered up. It's happened before. At least three Moslems have either attempted or succeeded in mass murder in the last few years. In these cases, the authorities have downplayed the attacker's religion until it was determined that he was "not a terrorist" (defined as not being affiliated with terrorist groups).

Those people who didn't assume that the shooter was a terrorist probably assumed that he was a white guy. By suppressing the actual ethnicity of the shooter, the AAJA temporarily reinforced the stereotype that he was white. Thanks AAJA.

Of course the truth came out this morning. The shooter was Korean.

A different bit of news that has been dropped is so subtle that you probably didn't even notice it. Which party does New Jersey Governor
Jon S. Corzine belong to? This is normally given any time a politician is in the news with one exception - it is dropped when a Democrat does something that might reflect poorly on the party. Just try to find a reference to Corzine's party in a news account. Now, do you think that this would be dropped if it had been a Republican governor?

So, yes, it was relevant.

Columbine Revisited

We don't know enough about the awful slaughter at Virginia Tech to make any intelligent conclusions. At this point we don't even know the name of the murderer. Regardless of this, the left is already calling for a new round of gun control.

Since we don't know much about Virginia Tech, I'm going to review the last major school shooting which happened eight years ago at Columbine.

Most people haven't bothered to read the sheriff's final report report on the tragedy. I have and what transpired is not what was planned.

The two killers wanted to go out with a big splash, taking as many people as possible with them. Their original plan was to hijack an airplane and crash it into a tall building (and this was years before 9/11/2001). They gave up on this as impractical and decided to blow up their school instead.

They built a bomb out of a propane tank and hid it in the cafeteria. They carefully timed lunch periods in order to figure out when the room would have the most people in it - over 1,000. The library was on the next floor and the bomb was likely to cave in the ceiling, killing or injuring people there, also.

They set their bomb and waited. They planned on killing as many survivors as they could with their guns and pipe bombs. They even set off a bomb on the other side of town in order to lure the police away.

Fortunately, their bomb failed to go off. After giving it some extra time, they decided to trigger it manually. This is when they entered the school and killed people they encountered. They barricaded themselves in the cafeteria and tried to set off the bomb. Failing that, they finally killed themselves. While the final result was terrible, what they had planned was 100 times worse.

The lesson here is that these guys wanted to kill themselves and as many others as possible. Guns were not their primary weapon.

The only similarity I can see with Virginia Tech is a marbid determination to kill people before dying. While this killer depended on guns, without them he might have resorted to bombs or other lethal weapons.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Who Cares More?

After some setbacks on their attempts to end the war, Democrats are aking a new que from John Murtha - caring for the troops. Specifically, they care about troops who are about to be deployed. They care about them so much they want to stop deployment.

The way this works is to announce that the troops in question are not properly trained or equipped. Murtha posted on Huffington a few days ago and his comments are being echoed by other caring, responsible Democrats (AKA partisan hacks). Ohio's new governor Strickland and new senator Brown quickly joined in the chorus (joined by Ohio's nanny-in-chief, Voinovich who might be worried about keeping his job).

How serious are these concerns? he equipment part is nothing but a smokescreen. It is true that many units are not properly equipped. The reason for this is that they leave a lot of equipment behind in Iraq when their tour of duty ends. Poorly-equipped units will find equipment waiting for them in Iraq.

Training is a bigger issue but it is not a simple one. First of all, we are talking about units that have already had 1-3 tours in Iraq so they are not green troops. The training is for specialized missions and for tactics that have changed since their prior tours.

I accept that it would be better if all troops going into combat received all planned training before they went. At the same time, I recognize that staffing needs may not leave enough time for this. Is it better to make the front line troops wait while replacements and reenforcements receive better training? It's a tough trade-off to me but it seems like cutting training time will help more people.

To the Murtha crowd, there is no trade-off. Keeping troops out of Iraq is a goal, not a problem. If they could demand a five-year training period they would. The point is to keep the Surge from working by starving the commanders of troops. At the same time, they want to sound caring. It's not that they want to hurt the front-line troops. It's just that they want to protect the troops who are about to be deployed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Touring for Hypocracy

It's difficult to imagine an anti-war tour that includes killing people or an AIDS concert that includes having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive. So what are we o think of the Sop Global Warming Tour? Here are a bunch of people who are convinced that CO2 induced global warming is real and their solution is to generate more CO2 in an effort to raise consciousness.

The tour is not the only culprit. Al Gore's huge, carbon-burning house has been well documented. There is just no way to swuare hat house with his message. Personally, I think that he should live like the Unibomber in a small plywood shack without power. Since that isn't likely, he could sill live fairly well by following the examples of Ed Begley jr. and Dennis Weaver. Both of these TV stars built low-impact houses as examples of how others should live.

Then there is the example of Prince Charles flying across the Atlantic to accept an environmental award or the worse example of John Travolta flying one of his private jets of England to lecture about the evils of CO2. That one trip created more CO2 than an ordinary family does in a year.

The message in all of this is that he rest of us should change our ways. Once we do, possibly the elite will consider changing their own lifestyles. In the meantime, even if global warming is the greatest threat to ever face humanity (to quote Gore), we cannot expect the rich and powerful to actually do anything personally.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On-air rants

Ok, Imus said something racist and offensive and people are demanding his termination. He is going to be suspended and might yet lose his job.

I have no problem with that. It would be fine with me if they fired all of the shock jocks.

But there is no serious talk of firing Rosie who accused the British of engineering an international incident in order to justify an invasion (which didn't happen) and accused the US government of killing 3,000 people in order to justify something.

Someone's priorities are mixed up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This endless Winter

February made the list of the ten coldest winers on record. We are only ten days into April but i has already been declared the second coldest on record. We've had snow flurries five days in a row. Around 70 cities set cold records on Easter.

Back during a heat wave in December and early January we kept hearing that the warm temperatures were because of global warming and we had better get used to it - it was going to be like that from now on. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Thomas Friedman quoted his wife as saying that she needed a global warming wardrobe - winter colors in summer weight.

I wonder how she's doing with that now? Friedman never said. In fact, none of the columnists who said that the December warm spell was a sign of things to come have had anything to say about the temperatures since then. Seriously, after hearing that refrain multiple times in January I keep waiting for someone to say that the current cold snap is indicative of the future and we had better get used to it.

According to the logic they used just four months ago, the weather in February through April must be a predictor of a new ice age. Maybe Friedman's wife needs a wardrobe with summer colors in winter weight.

All of this is silly. Temperatures vary. 20 years ago we have major snowfall in both April 1 and April 4. Just a week ago it hit 80. None of this means anything. It's long-term changes that matter, not day-to-day variations.

But there is a new religion in town - Global Warming. We have to sacrifice our civilization to it, the god (or is that a goddess?) demands it. Any time the temperature is slightly above normal or anything bad happens i is because the Global Warming God is angered. If things are normal or temperatures are 30 degrees below normal - well, it happens.

In the meantime, Europe is two years into a cap and trade scheme. It is working exactly as they should have expected although according to this article the results caught people by surprise. Basically, electricity costs rose 25% and construction is being moved to 3rd world countries were Kyoto is not in effect. Also, some companies have figured out how to game the system and others are lobbying for regulations that will benefit them rather than the world at large.

But none of that will save them when the glaciers come back.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rosie's Rant

A couple of weeks ago Rosie O'Donnell had a bi tof a meltdown. She started by accusing the British and possibly the Americans of somehow causing the Iranians to hold 15 soldiers hostage. Next she said that the confessed 911-planner known as KSM was railroaded. When asked is she though that the government was in on 911, she replied with a disingenuous, "No, but his was the first time in history that fire melted steel."

A lot of people have jumped on that line but Rosie was right in sort of a half-assed way. Steel has a very high melting point. You cannot melt it in a normal fire. It takes a blast furnace. On the other hand, as any blacksmith can demonstrate, you can heat steel in a fire until it is red hot at which point it loses much of its strength. This isn't a secret, it's science.

Rosie posted some further "proof" on her web site but somehow missed this bit of basic science.

There have been calls for her to be fired. She is employed by The View which is produced by ABC News. When she starts spreading around false information, it reflects badly on the entire news staff. Rosie is allowed her own opinions bu she has to provide solid documentation for them when she presents them on The View. She has accused the US and British governments of staging an international incident and of killing thousands of people yet her proof requires a fundamental mis-statement of the physical properties of steel.

I have seen Rosie's defenders point out that Ann Coulter wasn't fired after accusing the 911 widows of profiting from their husbands' deaths. There are significant differences between the two.

1) Coulter said something hurtful. She did not accuse anyone of conspiracies.

2) Coulter's remarks were obviously opinion. Rosie presented hers as provable fact.

3) Coulter's remarks were in a book. Rosie's were given on the air. As the author of the book, Coulter gets full responsibility. Since Rosie was on something vaguely billed as a news show, it is implied that her statements of fact have been checked by the news department.

So, should she be fired? It wouldn't be out of line. Dan Rather was forced off the air after defending forged documents. While Rosie and The View are much lighter-weight than Rather, the accusations are serious enough that, at the least, ABC should issue a statement that they do not support this iew.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Imperial Congress

For years the Democrats have complained that Bush operates an imperial presidency - exceeding his constitutional authority and working without proper oversight from Congress. Now that the Democrats control Congress, they are acting rather imperial themselves.

First there was the bill that specified what troops can and cannot do. This seems to be in direct contradiction with the President's constitutional role as commander in chief.

Then Pelosi wen to Syria in order to show them that the Democrats have an alternate foreign policy.

Under the constitution, there is only one foreign policy. It is directed by the State Department which is under the control of he Secretary of State who in turn reports to the President. Congress's role in this process is to confirm the Secretary of State and treaties. Even this is done by the Senate, not the House so Pelosi has no constitutional standing to be discussing alternate policies with foreign leaders.

Even during the Viet Nam War, we never saw the Speaker of the House go to the USSR in order to open a dialog for peace.

What of the visit by House Republicans shortly before Pelosi's visit? Why didn't anyone take note? Probably because they did not go with the stated goal of circumventing  their country's foreign policy.

I'm not going to say that the Democrats hate Bush more than Nixon but the Democrats in power gave Nixon more respect.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The 20 Billion Dollar Question

Democrats are insisting that the country is behind their attempts to end the war. If this is true then why did they need to tack $20 billion in unrelated spending into the bill? President Bush is asking this, also.

The Democrats have themselves boxed in. Their base is expecting a withdrawal from the war but the way they are doing it is likely to come across as not supporting the troops.

Even if everything works out the way they want as it did 30+ years ago when they de-funded Viet Nam, it will still bite them. They made out pretty well in the late 1970s, taking the White House and gaining a big majority in Congress but much of this was a reaction to Watergate rather than the war.

By the early 1980s, resentment over the way the war ended was boiling up. The movie Rambo brought it to a head. The new common wisdom was not that we were defeated in Viet Nam but that our leaders in Washington hadn't let us win the war.

Since Democrats ended the war and had associated themselves with the peace movement, people stopped trusting them with national security. This still cost them as recently as 2004. If they force a pull-out from Iraq and things go as bad as expected without us stabilizing the country, it might be another 30 years before anyone trusts Democrats with national defense (Clinton won on domestic issues during the period of peace between the end of the Cold War and recognition of the Long War).