Monday, April 18, 2011

Potshots from the Post

A couple of the currently most popular columns on the Washington Post deserve comment.

First there is Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor, conflating climate change and tax-cutting. On global warming, Hiatt says:

The climate change denialism is a newer part of the catechism. Just a few years ago, leading Republicans — John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty among them — not only accepted global warming as real but supported some kind of market-based mechanism to raise the cost of burning fossil fuels.

Climate science is complex, and much remains to be learned. But if you asked 1,000 scientists, 998 of them would say that climate change is real and that human activity — the burning of oil, gas and coal — is a significant contributor.

Here's the thing - peer review is the solver standard in science. The gold standard is falsifiability. You use your best model and make a prediction. If it comes true you proved your model. If it does not happen then you check your original hypothesis and try again. Climate science has been short of this sort of prediction but the UN made a big one in 2005. They said that within five years (that would be last year) the world would have 50 million climate refugees - people displaced from their homes because of warming-induced destruction. They even included a map of areas in danger. So how did this turn out? This article checked it. Guess what? The areas that were supposed to be ruined by global warming show population increases. So, how did climate scientists react? They tried to hide the original projection.

If Republicans are becoming more skeptical about global warming, maybe it is because the predictions are not happening. This is not denialism, it is reality.

Beyond that, Hiatt does a fairly good job of skewering both parties over deficiencies in their budget proposals.

On to the other column. This one is an example of a long line of liberal self-congratulation. Written by community-organizer Sally Kohn, it postulates that liberals are losing the budget battle because they are nice sweet people who value diversity and are being opposed by conservative fear-mongers who don't fight fair. Among other things, she claims that liberals don't hate anyone except people who need hating.

This is not to say that the brand of liberal tolerance that grew from the struggles for civil rights, women's rights and gay rights is to blame for this lack of progressive political bite. For all the mockery of hyper-tolerant political correctness, identity politics is anything but tolerant. It demands that society be more accepting and inclusive of those who are marginalized because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. But it does not go so far as to tolerate intolerance. Those who fight racism and sexism in society do so out of deep moral convictions. They would never say, "Oh, we can co-exist with Fred Phelps and the KKK and find a way to compromise." Creating a society that fully embraces gay people and people of color means creating a society that is intolerant of homophobia and racism.

Go look at a YouTube video of the Wisconsin union protestors and reconcile that with Kohn's rosy description of liberals. Better yet, look at the videos of liberals ringing cowbells and banging drums during this weekend's Tea Party rally. The Tea Party rally was no whiter than the union protests and in no way represented racism or homophobia but the left still wanted to drown them out.

In Kohn's world there is no looming crisis with the national debt. The only problem is that Obama is no longer committed to unrestrained spending.

Now, Obama has proposed reducing the federal debt by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, making "the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about." But the reason he's even having this conversation is because the tea party handed him the scissors. Had liberals more fiercely fought for the role of government as the spender of last resort in a recession — and for the role of government in general for the past three decades — Congress would instead be debating how to invest public money in the new American economy.
Obama is not making deals with the Republicans out of misplaced tolerance for their positions. He is doing it because his party got thoroughly trounced in the last election and the Republicans now control the House. Also, no matter how much the left may wish otherwise, serious economists say that the deficit continues then within the next twenty years servicing the national debt and paying for entitlements will take up the entire budget. Not a penny will be left for the programs that Kohn loves.

But rather than face that unpleasant reality, she convinces herself that there is no problem, just partisan Republicans who want to steel from the poor and possibly eat their puppies.

No comments: