« October 2009 | Main | December 2009 »

November 21, 2009

Steyn on the Vacuum

Great column by Mark Steyn. That is all. - The Vacuum Of American Leadership

November 20, 2009

Cooking The Warming - Updated

A hacker dumps a trove of files from the UK's Climatic Reseach Unit (CRU), and the mask slips off the warmists.
(Update: subsequent reports indicate the leaker was more likely an inside whistle-blower, not an outside "hacker")

The story was broken by famed climate blogger Anthony Watts.

The Telegraph reports it as Climategate: The final nail in the coffin of anthrpogenic global warming.

Hardly...but it is helpful to have hard proof of the manipulation of evidence and the suppression of inconvenient findings to help counter the ridiculous insistence that "the science is settled."

Of course Ed's on it.

More from Richard Fernandez

UPDATE 11/23: Charlie Martin on what it all means

Rand Simberg: When Scientists Become Politicians

UPDATE 11/30:

So much good stuff is being written on Climategate every day that I'll only post a few of the better ones I've run across. The failure of the major media to even cover the story (with a couple of notable exceptions like the WaPo) is becoming almost as big a scandal and a story as the disclosures and the emails themselves. Note how most of the serious major media reporting has been in the UK, where there are already investigations underway, and calls for important heads to roll. Even when it hits home...like the White House, the US media are playing "see no evil".

An early (11/21) look at some of the emails at Power Line.

In The Telegraph, Christopher Booker has a pretty good summary of the implications, and of the key players...

Melanie Phillips is characteristically trenchant.

The (London) Times has been particularly good from the outset...see here and here, on the latest dog-ate-my-homework excuse for failing to produce their supporting data.

Iain Murray with three things you must know

Michael Barone is always must-read.

And the Wall Street Journal has been on top of it, including L. Gordon Crovitz yesterday and Bret Stephens today, summing up in one sentence the meat of the matter:

Climategate....concerns some of the world's leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week's disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, or CRU.

More from the WSJ here, and daily with Taranto, like here, here, and here

See Ron Rosenbaum on the sick equation of AGW skeptics with Holocaust deniers.

Richard Fernandez is always interesting, and embeds some video of Michael Crichton's famous speech on environmentalism as religion. That's just video snippets...if you want the whole thing, here it is...and if you've never read it, don't miss it. (and if you like that one, you might like this one too)

PJM also now has a Climategate Document Database up for your reference.

Then there's about 200+ articles on global warming from my own archive.

UPDATE 12/1: (via Power Line) Professor Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College, on how Obama could rise above partisanship and reposition himself and the U.S. on the climate change issue, during his trip to Copenhagen...(wishful thinking, I'm afraid...)

In the last few days, we have learned that what has long been suspected is all too true: that the work done by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which formed the basis for the four reports issued by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a sham -- that the data were doctored, that the computer simulation was a fraud, and that systematic efforts were made by the most prominent climate scientists to corrupt the peer-review process and suppress legitimate criticism: all for the purpose of imposing a straitjacket on the world economy.

As radical climate alarmist George Monbiot has acknowledged on his blog, "Pretending that this isn't a real crisis isn't going to make it go away . . . I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific . . . No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that" climate research be "unimpeachable, not the last."

This is precisely what President Obama could say in Copenhagen -- that some of the most prominent climate scientists have betrayed their calling, that the global-warming hypothesis remains, in fact, unproven, and that the reports issued by the IPCC provide no basis for the making of public policy.

That last phrase, I believe, is really the most important issue here. The so-called "international community" is poised, starting with Copenhagen, to set up a massive taxation regime that will have the effect of crippling economic development (and so, reducing carbon emissions) in the first world while transferring billions of dollars to the third world (ostensibly to help them cope with climate change), largely on the basis of reports from the IPCC. That these reports have been found to be materially flawed is reason enough to hold off on any U.S. commitments to inflict economic harm on itself.

Reading Christopher Horner's terrific book would suffice to disabuse most people of any notion that the IPCC is a scientific body anyway, as opposed to a purely political one. Add to that the standing refusals of the two largest carbon emitters of the 21st century, China and India, to go along with the proposed limits to their economic growth, and the unilateral economic suicide of the United States makes even less sense.

I remain open to anyone who can persuade me that the transfer of billions of dollars from the U.S. and other first world private sectors (via taxation, fines, penalties, carbon offsets, etc) to third world governments (after being skimmed by unaccountable U.N. bureaucracies) will have the slightest effect on the future temperature of the planet.

While they're at it, they might also inform me how it is that the calamitous warming that informs their alarmism has suddenly stopped since about 1998, while its purported cause, man-made CO2 emissions, continued to rise in the last decade. If the skeptics are willing to grant that human activity may be at least one factor in the 1 degree Celsius rise in global mean temperature over the past 150 years (and I am), don't the alarmists have to admit that, since the temperature has leveled off for over a decade, there might be other, perhaps even stronger forces at work on earth temperature?

And since far more people die annually from cold-related causes than heat-related ones, can the alarmists seriously suggest that a slight increase in global temperature is an unmitigated negative?

Most AGW skeptics that I know are, like me, more skeptical of the proposed "solutions" than they are of the fact that the planet is warming slightly. It is a conceit of the statists (and/or a deception by them) that they can or should attempt to control climate. That they propose to do it by creating a permanent, unelected and unaccountable global power base for themselves by taxing the remaining productive, wealth-generating segments of Western society is the height of audacity and hubris.

Here's the latest from Claudia Rosett, on how the U.N. stands ready to solve the world's climate problems...

Failing to achieve forward motion for peace or nonproliferation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been grandstanding for more than two years about the UN’s war on the weather — and has made it his chief mission to persuade developed nations to “seal the deal” on a “climate” pact that would constrict production, transfer vast amounts to wealth to some of the worst governments on the planet, and put the unaccountable, opaque and too often self-serving bureaucracy of the UN at the switch.


Climate bureaucracy has become a major aspect of employment throughout the UN system, with almost every UN agency and program enlisting fresh bevies of staff to work the climate angles. On its climate “Gateway” web page, the UN lists more than three dozen UN-system “partners on climate change,” from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the UN Development Program (star of the Cash-for-Kim scandal two years ago in North Korea) to the International Telecommunications Union. On the basis of calculations performed deep within the entrails of UN bureacracies that thrive these days by attributing the world’s troubles to climate and then allocating blame, penalties, bonanzas and UN commissions on the basis of the IPCC “scientific consensus,” this same UN climate Gateway web page informs us that “Seven of ten disasters are climate related.” To fix this, the UN tells us, we need only trust to the UN’s guidance. That would be the same UN that not so long ago dealt with its own propensity for corruption by disbanding its anti-corruption task force; the same UN that once claimed Oil-for-Food was the most heavily audited program it had ever run; the same UN that can’t tally its own global budget.

UPDATE 12/2: See also: Wizblog: Coming Unraveled

UPDATE 12/3: Kenneth Green, writing at The American (AEI), says it's time to clean house in the field of climate research, and that investigations shouldn't be limited to the UK. It's a pretty good short summation of the Climategate issue, so read it all...but here are his final paragraphs...

Science is vitally important for the operation of a highly technological society, and that science must be open and transparent, and must adhere to the scientific method and the institution of science, which has no place in it for hiding data, hiding data-processing, shaping data to conform to pre-existing beliefs, undermining the peer-review process, cherry-picking reports in order to slant political IPCC reports, or slandering critics by comparing them with flat-Earthers, moon-landing conspiracy theorists, or holocaust deniers.

The climate scientists at the CRU have given not only climate science, but all of science, a massive black eye, and should the public lose faith in science, a great deal of the responsibility will accrue to them. The scientists involved in the Climategate scandal should be permanently removed from any position in which they can influence climate policy. They should be excluded from peer-review panels, banned from participating in the IPCC process in any capacity, and kept far away from editorial positions at journals. Their data and methods must be made absolutely transparent and available for outside inspection.

Similar attention must be turned to climate centers such as NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, home of the deeply partisan, highly political James Hansen; the National Climate Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, now headed up by the equally partisan and political Jane Lubchenco; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, home to scientist Tom Wigley, also featured prominently in the Climategate emails. It’s time for climate science to clean house. Researchers at all of these institutions are also frequently in contact with the CRU, and collaborate with CRU researchers. Whatever investigations come of Climategate, they should not stop in the UK.

November 18, 2009

Social Costs of Gambling

With casino gambling soon to arrive in Ohio, it's sobering to read a piece like Gambling With Lives by Maura J. Casey, at First Things, for a view of the issue that goes beyond tax revenues, construction jobs and all the other purported societal "goods" that will accrue from having casinos in our midst.

Lots of insights here about how the gambling....sorry...gaming industry has evolved from table games, traditionally attracting men, to focus on slot machines, and increasingly, women players.

Decades ago it was widely assumed that gambling addiction took fifteen or twenty years to develop in men (and gamblers were once nearly all male). But those were the days when the primary pursuits of gamblers were such games as craps, roulette, poker, blackjack, or even betting on horses. In this context, the long time necessary for addiction to develop made sense. How often could a gambler bet on a horse? Or a sports team? At most, the event frequencies of the average gambler would occur perhaps fifty or a hundred times a day.

That may sound like a lot, until you consider the slot machine, the modern marvel that has done more to spread gambling than any other invention in history—which has been compared, understandably, to crack cocaine. An experienced gambler can bet 600 to 900 times an hour on a modern slot machine. That’s a lot of event frequencies, and the main reason that people are becoming addicted in far less time. This is especially true of women, who, unlike those in previous eras, are now as likely to gamble as men.

For reasons that are not clear, women take less time than men to develop addiction. Female casino customers are more likely to avoid competitive games than are men and are often drawn to casinos by a desire for escape, which slot machines facilitate. Experts say many women gamblers, who prefer slot machines, can become problem gamblers in just three to five years.

The slot machine, which is at the root of so much addiction, is responsible for 70 percent of the gambling revenue in Las Vegas—and the percentage is higher elsewhere. Slot machines are vacuum cleaners designed to swallow money, yet they remain among the least reported, least understood technological innovations influencing modern life.

As one gambling analyst told the newspaper Gaming Today, “The longer you sit in front of one, the more you lose. Next to prostitution, it’s the world’s greatest business. There is no other business in the world where people budget money to lose to you.”

And modern day casino operators provide plenty of help to the player to influence him or her to stay longer, gamble more, and come back more often, using sophisticated data mining, psychological props and targeted marketing to retain the most profitable cohort of gamblers.

Slot machines have long been programmed to show “near misses” and give gamblers the impression that they came this close to winning, the better to encourage them to keep playing. The machines give back enough money in the process to make gamblers feel like winners even when they are losing. But Harrah’s developed the technique of intervening when reality began to dawn on gamblers—when they lost so much the experience was becoming negative. The company tracked, in real time, customers’ losing streaks and would send “luck ambassadors” to perk them up, give them a token gift—free lunch or some free credits on the machine— to reduce their perception of losing and keep them gambling longer.

In the process, Harrah’s discovered that 90 percent of its profits came from 10 percent of its most avid customers, according to Binkley. This is unsurprising. Many reports suggest that addicts produce a disproportionate share of casino profits. A 1998 Nova Scotia study found that 6 percent of regular gamblers produced 96 percent of gambling revenue, and a whopping 54 percent of the revenue came from just 1 percent of problem gamblers—leading researchers to conclude that, at any one time, half the patrons in front of slot machines in Nova Scotia were problem gamblers. A 1999 study estimated that more than 42 percent of all spending at Indian-reservation casinos came from problem gamblers. A study in Australia concluded that problem gamblers were only 4.7 percent of the population yet generated 42 percent of machine revenues.

Those who defend gambling say that it should be a matter of free will, just like any other adult habit. But when a customer is pitted against researchers armed with psychological techniques, marketing studies, and computer analyses of a patron’s own behavior for the express purpose of extracting ever larger amounts of money, how much choice is really involved?

As they say, read it all.

November 17, 2009

I Love Michael Ramirez

Michael Ramirez Cartoon


Wes Pruden:

...this president seems never to have studied much American history. Not bowing to foreign potentates was what 1776 was all about. His predecessors learned with no difficulty that the essence of America is that all men stand equal and are entitled to look even a king, maybe particularly a king, straight in the eye.

How other world leaders greet the Emperor of Japan

November 11, 2009

League of Their Own

Must-read for baseball fans....Joe Posnanski's latest....

Best Team Money Could Buy

November 5, 2009

Who is the Ft. Hood Killer?

Patterico is a good jumping off point to see how different news organizations are covering the story of the Ft. Hood killer.

Allahpundit at Hot Air has a must-read roundup. It's incredible how much information on this guy has been accumulated in seven or eight hours.

NPR story

Iran Shipping Arms To Syria....Again

At Contentions, Noah Pollak reporting on The New Karine A

Israeli Navy commandos seized a cargo ship last night en route from Iran to Syria. It contained 10 times the arms that the Karine A attempted to deliver from Iran to the Palestinians in 2002, enough weapons, according to the head of the Israeli Navy, to keep Hezbollah supplied in a hot war for a month. Along with 3,000 rockets, the ship contained:

107-millimeter rockets, 60-millimeter mortars, 7.62-rifle Kalashnikov-ammunition, F-1 grenades and 122-millimeter Katyusha rockets. On the side of some of the cases inside the containers the words “parts of bulldozers” was written.


What will Obama say about all this? Being that evidence of Iranian-Syrian hostile intent complicates the administration’s desire for “engagement,” whatever that means anymore, the answer is: probably nothing.

What will the human-rights hustlers say? Where is Judge Goldstone? Where is the flurry of outraged press releases from Human Rights Watch? These weapons are intended for one purpose only — to terrorize Israeli civilians and drag the region into war. Shouldn’t this be an easy call for peace-loving human-rights activists? HRW has condemned Israel for violating international law over the way it funds public schools. I would bet a large sum that HRW will say nothing about the 500 tons of arms Iran just tried to send to Hezbollah. Priorities, you see.

And where is the UN Security Council? The arms ship violates numerous UNSC resolutions banning Iran from exporting weapons and forbidding the arming of Hezbollah. Don’t expect any leadership from the Obama administration on this score, either; to make a big deal out of Iranian bad faith would be tantamount to admitting that the engagement policy is the stuff of fantasy.

There's more, so go read it all, and watch the video that makes a mockery of Syria's denials.

So...the Iranian theocracy is brutally suppressing the democratic reform movement at home, gunning their own people down in the streets....manufacturing and supplying the IED's killing U.S. and other soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq....funding and arming proxy armies Hezbollah and Hamas, who remain in a perpetual state of war on Israel, all the while mocking and berating the United States and the Obama administration.

The UN is beyond impotent. And our strategy is to talk....and to pretend that it's a new approach to the problem....and to pretend they haven't been killing Americans for the past 30 years.

The President's statement yesterday is more of the extended hand approach, recognizing the "Iranian people" for a change, as distinct from the ruling elite, but it still characterizes the 30-year war the regime has conducted against the United States and the West since the hostage crisis as our mutual "path of sustained suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation", one he hopes to remedy by establishing "a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

Realism ain't what it used to be.

UPDATE 11/5: More on how the Iranian arms were routed....through an Egyptian port.

November 4, 2009

Bump in the Road to Serfdom

Somebody tweeted last night of the NJ Governor's race, "I'll believe it's over when Michael Barone says it's over."

Here's what the always insightful Barone says this morning. From right to left, here's more from the WSJ, Dick Morris, Peter Beinart, and Ruth Marcus.

November 2, 2009

Moderation and Frank Rich

James Taranto

So how is it that the AP's Valeria Bauman credits Scozzafava with "a more inclusive approach" than those of the candidates who actually seemed to be persuading people to vote for them? That's actually partly explained in the paragraph quoted above. "Her support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage" apparently were central to what made her "inclusive" in the Bauman's view. In practice, that support alienated people who disagreed on those subjects, but it seems Bauman doesn't consider those people worth including. The AP itself may be aspiring for a more selective appeal.

And Bauman isn't the only reporter to editorialize against Scozzafava's conservative detractors. The phrase: "too moderate" turns up four times in stories about Scozzafava on the New York Times Web site, three times in Times stories and once in an AP dispatch. All describe the reason that conservatives supposedly bucked Scozzafava--but all are the reporters' words. We'd be surprised if any actual conservative put the complaint in these terms.

To be sure, the question here is not whether conservatives would agree with the characterization of their views but whether it is accurate and fair. Let the following datum inform your evaluation of this question: A Factiva search shows that in the 2006 Connecticut Senate campaign, neither the Times nor the AP ever described Joe Lieberman's Democratic opponents as deserting him because he was "too moderate."

With reporters busy editorializing against conservative Republicans, liberal editorialists are forced to step things up to hold onto their own selective appeal. The Times's Frank Rich, a onetime drama critic who seems to have lost the sense that it's possible to be overly dramatic, describes the contretemps as "a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war" and "a G.O.P. killing field." He claims that "the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy [President] Obama." He says that conservatives "would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross," want to send Scozzafava "to the guillotine," and are committing "a double-barreled suicide." Also, they "are re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode."

Oh, and they are exhibiting "seething rage . . . and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes." Frank also twice uses antigay slurs to describe tea-party protesters.

Sorry Frank, but you're way too moderate for us.