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December 30, 2009

Missing A Moment in History

Stephen Hayes at the Standard blog...

The Iranian regime -- fragile now as never before -- continues to support terrorism, to kill US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, to enrich uranium and to arrest and murder its own citizens. And the goal of US policy continues to be non-punitive engagement? Shameful.

As Krauthammer said the other day, the democratic revolution in Iran is a moment in history, and Obama is missing it.

Revolutions happen quickly. There is a moment here in which if the thugs in the street who are shooting in the crowds stop shooting, it’s over and the regime will fall. The courage of the demonstrators and their boldness isn’t only a demonstration of courage, it is an indication of the shift in the balance of power. The regime is weakening.

This is a hinge of history. Everything in the region will change if the regime is changed. Obama ought to be strong out there in saying: It is an illegitimate government. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people in the street. He talks about diplomacy. He should be urging our Western allies who have relations [with Iran] to cut them off, isolate the regime, to ostracize it. He ought to be going in the U.N. — at every forum — and denouncing it. This is a moment in history, and he’s missing it.

Here's Amir Fakhravar, writing in the NY Daily News:

The only question now is how long it will take. Three elements can affect this time line. The first is Iranians inside Iran, who are already doing their part. The second is a coalition including different Iranian opposition groups to synchronize future protests and help shape the foundations of a new democratic and secular government upon the downfall of the Islamic Republic. The third is Western governments, who must impose hard sanctions on the regime to dramatically reduce the inflow of money, thus freeing the region and the world of a tyrannical and dangerous government.

December 27, 2009

Dave Barry's 2009 in Review

Dave Barry's year in review: 2009. Read it all, or the Somali pirates will have won. (I believe the person I stole that line from was Ed Driscoll)


Learning From Abdul Mutallab - Victor Davis Hanson. Read it all, but here's a slice...

I think the year-long mantra of "Bush destroyed the Constitution" is now almost over, and we will begin again worrying about our collective safety rather than scoring partisan points by citing supposed excesses in our anti-terrorism efforts. With the delay in closing Guantanamo (from the promised shuttering on Jan. 20, 2010 to . . . sometime in 2011?), Obama's quiet copy-catting of Bush security protocols (such as wiretaps, intercepts, tribunals, and renditions), and the popular outcry against the upcoming show trial of KSM in New York, a public consensus is growing that radical Muslims like Hasan and Mutallab will continue to attempt to kill Americans. Citizens increasingly understand that the last eight years of relative safety following 9/11 were due only to heightened security at home and proactive use of force abroad, that we should cease trying to appease radical Islam by dreaming up new euphemisms ("overseas contingency operations," "man made disasters," etc.), and that it is time to stop the apologetics and kowtowing, and grudgingly accept that thousands of radical Islamic fundamentalists worldwide want to kill Americans — and dozens of governments, at least on the sly, hope that they do. Such venom has nothing to do with past American behavior or George Bush's strut, nor can it be ameliorated on the cheap by Barack Obama's Nobel Prize, middle name, or reset-button diplomacy.

Mayhem in Iran

At the Browns game today, so it wasn't until tonight that I started reading about the tumult in Iran all day Sunday. Haven't read much of Andrew Sullivan for the last couple years, but he's been covering events there all day, and has tons of links and video. Just keep scrolling.

At The Daily Beast, Rouzbeh and Trita Parsi suggest the regime may have reached its breaking point...

With the government growing increasingly desperate—and violent—the new clashes on the streets in Iran may very well prove to be the breaking point of the regime. If so, it shows that the Iranian theocracy ultimately fell on its own sword. It didn't come to an end due to the efforts of exiled opposition groups or the regime-change schemes of Washington's neoconservatives. Rather, the Iranian people are the main characters in this drama, using the very same symbols that brought the Islamic rfepublic into being to close this chapter in a century-old struggle for democracy.

Protests flared up again because of Ashura, the climax of a month of mourning in the Shiite religious calendar. It is a day of sadness for the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain, who was martyred in 680. And this year the commemoration coincided with the seventh day after the death of dissident Grand Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, adding to the significance of the day. Ashura is also a reminder that the eternal value of justice must be defended regardless of the odds of success. This has provided the relentless Green movement with yet another opportunity to outmaneuver the Iranian government by co-opting its symbols and challenge its legitimacy through the language of religion.

This battle cry for justice in all its simplicity is where most political conflagrations start. It is the deafness of the powers that be that often make them the kernel of something larger and more earth shattering. It is testimony to the arrogance of power that a simple and rather modest call for accountability and justice is beaten down only to return, demanding more, and less willing to compromise and accommodate.

December 26, 2009

X-Mas Miscellany

Christopher Caldwell reviews a new biography of Arthur Koestler in the NYT.

A couple of reviews of Avatar, at Brussels Journal , and at Hot Air, make me less likely to put myself through it. I'm thinking I could do without another sanctimonious lecture from Hollywood about the greedy, earth-ravaging, war-mongering white man pillaging the lands and lives of the peaceful indigenous people living in harmony with nature, etc. etc....no matter how ground-breaking the technical movie-making might happen to be. Almost forgot the "calling out" of James Cameron...by Kurt Schlicter at Big Hollywood.

Mark Steyn's latest on climate: "Why climate change is hot, hot, hot". And PowerLine links to a scientist's summary of what we do know about climate and the effects of CO2 on temperature.

No apologies from the disgraced "Gang of 88" faculty members at Duke University. Stuart Taylor, co-author of a book on the Duke rape hoax, reports on recent developments.

Bret Stephens reviews Jean-François Revel's Last Exit to Utopia, and the subtitle says a lot: "The hard-left former groupies of totalitarianism keep searching for new murderous ideologies to defend."

December 21, 2009

Holmgren Is In

Gary Benz says Credibility. Finally.

The Browns have hired Mike Holmgren as Club President...and whatever else he wants to be called. The big question now is the fate of coach Eric Mangini.

Jim Brown is lobbying for another year for Mangenius. On the other hand, ESPN's John Clayton is pretty well connected. He says:

"Eric Mangini doesn't have a chance of being in the building one day after the season if Holmgren takes the job Monday."

Gary suggests Lerner's low-profile hiring of Cleveland legal icon Fred Nance could be almost as important in stabilizing the franchise as the landing of Holmgren. Follow developments at TCF.

December 20, 2009

Browns Smash Records in KC

Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison didn't break records today. They obliterated them.

Cribbs came into the game tied with five other guys for the NFL record for career kickoff return touchdowns with six. By halftime today he had eight. Cribbs is moving quickly from Pro Bowl stature toward Hall of Fame stature.

Then Harrison blew away Jim Brown's 48-year old record of 237 yards in a game (done twice) with a spectacular 286-yard performance, including the game-winning touchdown with 44 seconds left.

After Adrian Peterson (296) and Jamaal Lewis (295) , Harrison put up the third best rushing performance in NFL history.

Once in a great while these Browns make a payment on the massive debt to their fans. We're permitted to bask for a moment, even at 3-11. Besides, we're streaking.

Is Holmgren signed yet?

December 18, 2009

1000 Words

Residents brushing snow off the overheating globe in Copenhagen....(via Power Line)


This seems an appropriate spot for Victor Davis Hanson's Five Commandments for climate alarmists:

Given the disturbing news about the growing green business empire of Gore, Inc., the private jetting by grandees into Copenhagen to harangue us about our incorrect lifestyles, and the expansive estates of prominent green advocates, it seems that the movement is in need of a formal code of conduct to restore the reputation of climate-change advocacy. Here are five simple commandments that all prominent global-warming activists need to embrace after the blowback from Climategate and various disclosures about the big money involved in green advocacy:

(1) No green public advocate shall have personal business interests predicated on climate-change remedies.

(2) No green public advocate shall fly in a private jet.

(3) No green public advocate shall ride in a limousine.

(4) No green public advocate shall live in a mansion.

(5) Every green advocate shall limit transcontinental jet trips to one per year.

The New Order

Lord Monckton is assaulted and knocked out by a Copenhagen cop. Read his words, via Greg Pollowitz at Planet Gore

December 16, 2009

"Facts Are Stubborn Things"

Michael Tanner at Cato. Five Health Reform Whoppers

December 15, 2009

Naked Threats

This is how desperate the Democrats are to socialize health care.

From Michael Goldfarb:

Source: Dems Threaten Nelson In Pursuit of 60

While the Democrats appease Senator Lieberman, they still have to worry about other recalcitrant Democrats including Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. Though Lieberman has been out front in the fight against the public option and the Medicare buy-in, Nelson was critical of both. Now that those provisions appear to have been stripped from the bill, Lieberman may get on board, but Nelson's demand that taxpayer money not be used to fund abortion has still not been met. According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn't fall into line.

Offutt Air Force Base employs some 10,000 military and federal employees in Southeastern Nebraska. As our source put it, this is a "naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson's vote." They are "threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?" asked the Senate staffer.

Indeed, Offutt is the headquarters for US Strategic Command, the successor to Strategic Air Command, and not by accident. STRATCOM was located in the middle of the country for strategic reasons. Its closure would be a massive blow to the economy of the state of Nebraska, but it would also be another example of this administration playing politics with our national security.

I've heard of arm-twisting and mutual back-scratching in big-time politics, but this is absolutely disgusting.

December 13, 2009

Distinguished Guests

Greg Pollowitz on the all-star lineup of speakers at the warmfest, which includes Chavez and Ahmadinejad.

Mugabe and Naife are particularly offensive. If the U.N. is serious about saving lives in Africa, these two should not be allowed to return to their respective home countries.

From the looks of things in Iran, maybe Ahmadinejad will find they locked the door behind him when he left.

Reid's Hail Mary

Jen Rubin - Did Harry Reid Kill Obamacare?

December 12, 2009

A Liberal on Liberalism

Via a link from a Michael Barone column, William Galston writes on the future of liberalism. One of the best things I've read in weeks. Do it all.

Taking Sides in Iran

From Afshin Ellian, a report of a warning from the military in Iran. They're with the people...not the government.

The last section of this brief but powerful statement will surely immortalize these brave officers: “The army is a haven for the nation and will never want to suppress the people at the request of politicians. We shall remain true to our promise not to intervene in politics. But we cannot remain silent when our fellow citizens are oppressed by tyranny.”

They go on: “Therefore, we warn the Guards who have betrayed the martyrs (from the war between Iran and Iraq) and who decided to attack the lives, the property and the honor of the citizens. We seriously warn them that if they do not leave their chosen path, they will be confronted with our tough response. The military is a haven for the nation. And we will defend the peace-loving Iranian nation against any aggression.”

Ellian adds later...

It is ironic that once again the officers of the regular air force join the people against the regime. Thirty years ago the officers of the regular air force also joined the people. After a few weeks the regime of the Shah was overthrown.

The brave stand by elements of the Iranian military may be reflected in a somewhat tougher position toward Iran taken by the Obama administration, including the strongest statement yet in support of the freedom fighters among the Iranian people. Better late than never...

...if Iran continues to fail to bring its nuclear program into full compliance with the requirements of the United Nations Security Council and the IAEA, there will be consequences and we will be consulting closely with our partners to ensure those consequences are credible. We will continue to assess Iran's responses, and together with our partners will take appropriate measures in keeping with our common approach to the Iranian nuclear program.

The United States also remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. We continue to call on the Iranian government to end the use of violence and persecution against those who seek to peacefully exercise universal rights, and to abide by its international obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

From Red to Green

Krauthammer on old wine in a new bottle...

On the day Copenhagen opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of carbon emissions by declaring them an "endangerment" to human health.

Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means over a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.

This naked assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfillment of the prediction of Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism, i.e., the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.

Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet.

Putting Warmists on Notice

A Memo To The Global Warming Cult

Dear global warming fanatics,

Please. Stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves. Take a deep breath, and try to understand what has happened to you during the past month. You need to accept that your dreams of global domination are over. Increasingly shrill attempts to terrify the masses into ignoring Climagate are only making you look foolish. The con job you’ve been running for the last thirty years is busted forever.


You aren’t going to frighten the world into reducing the human population. You’re not going to succeed in terrorizing free people into embracing totalitarianism, to fend off a phantasmal catastrophe that no democratic nation has the discipline to combat. We’re not going to politely ignore swarms of private jets and limos ferrying you to carbon-belching “climate summits,” where you draw up plans for the Western proletariat to live as primitive hunter-gatherers. We’re not going to let a pampered elitist, who once flew around the world to attend cricket practice, tell us that we need to make do without air travel and ice water.

We’ll never be foolish enough to allow a band of fanatics to use “peer review” to rule all dissenting opinion out-of-bounds, then declare themselves the proud owners of a mighty consensus. You global-warming fanatics underestimate how much you needed those tactics to gain power. You’ll never have that kind of unchallenged authority again, because we will never stop demanding the raw data, and we’ll drown you in laughter when you mutter something about deleting it by accident. We will never forget that you began with a conclusion and sought to harvest data that supported it – the exact opposite of the scientific method.

Your arrogant condescension to your critics is horribly misplaced. You have completely lost the ability to call anyone “stupid.” Your capacity for reason is the matter in question. Your status as “scientists” is on probation. It will take years of faithful adherence to the scientific method, and rigorous efforts to test and disprove your hypotheses, before you can regain the trust of thoughtful men and women. Until you have accomplished this, the attitude we expect from you is humility and contrition. You have much to answer for. The time for you to issue pompous lectures is over. The time for you to give sworn testimony may soon begin. We’re a year away from the American voter’s first opportunity to respond to the politicians who terrorized them by waving a loaded cap-and-trade bill in their faces.

Do read it all.

December 8, 2009

Climate Confab

As the Copenhagen cllimate conference descends into "disarray", several worthwhile new articles on the Climategate disclosures demand attention.

First is Steven Hayward's outstanding piece at The Weekly Standard, "Scientists Behaving Badly". This is an excellent overview of both the story of the CRU documents leak, and of the global warming science behind the alarmism. Don't miss it.

Also in the must-read category is Kevin Williamson's "What to Think About Global Warming", at NRO.

Then there's George Will, who reminds us that "Copenhagen...is prologue for the 2010 climate change summit in Mexico City, which will be planet Earth's last chance, until the next one."

See also "The Fiction of Climate Science", by Gary Sutton at Forbes.com.

Here's some historical perspective on warming from J. Storrs Hall (via IP)

Power Line reports on the findings of H.H. Lamb, a climate science pioneer and the founder of the CRU, who has now been largely disowned by the warming industry for having relied on empirical physical evidence for his conclusions instead of the prevailing computer simulations. (Props to the guys at Power Line, by the way, for their coverage of the climate science scandal from Day One.)

As to the "disarray" at Copenhagen, the Guardian says, "developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations."

Frankly, "array" among attendees at Copenhagen would be much more troubling to me...but aside from that, I suppose that if there must be an agreement on climate policy coming from this confab, one that "sidelines the U.N. role" is probably preferable to one that puts the U.N. in charge. Maybe it's just me.

Related: Wizblog: Cooking the Warming

No Balance Allowed

Jen Rubin notes certain liberals weighing in on the "Free Mara" campaign being waged by NPR. You'd think even more of them would welcome the opportunity to promote leftist positions to the largest cable news audience in the country.

Small wonder NPR says they are unhappy with Mara Liasson appearing on Fox. First, just for saying so they earn a pat on the head from the White House, the flagship of the War on Fox. And it makes the project of portraying Fox as blinkered right-wing ideologues much more difficult when they insist on airing the views of lefties like Liasson and Juan Williams as balance for the views of their in-house conservatives.

If the political left had more confidence in their ideas, and were as open-minded and tolerant as they claim to be, they might look around at Fox's competitors and ask where the conservative counterparts of Williams and Liasson can be found on the other networks.

Unburdened By Modesty

William McGurn in the WSJ yesterday...

Some mistakes are so big that only smart people are tempted to make them. One is the faith in Big Government.

We'll see that in full force today, when Barack Obama gives another major address on the economy. On the generalities, there won't be much real disagreement. But at a time when many claim to see no difference between the two political parties, President Obama and his Democratic allies are making one distinction paramount: their operating assumption that bigger government is better government.


What about conservatives? Don't we have confidence in our judgment and abilities? Of course we do. The difference is that we trust free citizens to make decisions about themselves—and are skeptical about government. As someone who worked inside a White House, I say you really believe government should be small when you see your friends running it.

Now, I know there are people who believe that George W. Bush was a Big Government Republican. And you can make arguments about spending and so forth. Even so, however, there's simply no comparison with the Obama administration.

That's because conservatives believe that even our smartest friend is no match for the collective wisdom of the marketplace. If we were to wake up and find that someone we knew well had been given control over some important part of the economy, the conservative would not likely think, "Everything will be fine now that Harry's in charge." Far more likely we'd be saying to ourselves, "If it weren't for his wife, Harry would be wearing red and purple socks every day—and we're giving him that kind of power?"

Mr. Obama and his team appear to be unburdened by such modesty.

George Will's column has a related theme...

An adolescent asked Mozart how to compose symphonies. Mozart said that because the lad was so young, perhaps he should begin composing ballads. "But," the young man objected, "you wrote symphonies when you were only 10 years old." Mozart replied: "But I didn't have to ask how."


America's nerves are frayed and tempers are short. The country is uneasy, even queasy, because Obama and Congress seem to be dashing through an ambitious agenda in a slapdash manner. Their haste reflects a hubris that prevents them from acknowledging that they do not know how to do all that they are attempting.

December 7, 2009

EPA Takes Over

The Washington Post reports, and Iain Murray comments...

The EPA is about to announce that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, something that has in many ways been inevitable since the boneheaded SCOTUS ruling in Mass. vs EPA (which essentially found that the Clean Air Act was always intended to be Kyoto-on-steroids.) With thanks to my colleague Will Yeatman, here's a brief summary of what this means, and why you should be appalled.

Under the Clean Air Act, an “endangerment” finding means that the EPA will have to grant a waiver to those states (such as California) that want to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles. The EPA has already agreed to do so. When “pollutants” that “endanger” human health and welfare are regulated, the EPA must expand its regulatory program to include “stationary” sources. The EPA has already announced that it will do so.

This is where Obama wants to get off the “endangerment” train, with the ability to regulate stationary and mobile sources (i.e., industry and cars) with almost complete discretion. These “endangerment” powers give the president tremendous leverage in a number of complex negotiations.

For example, the Obama administration already has told Congress that it will regulate greenhouse gases unless lawmakers deliver a cap-and-trade bill to his desk. The “endangerment” prerogatives also are the president’s bargaining chip in Copenhagen, where he plans on scoring his first diplomatic victory since his election night.

The problem is that the president can't get off the train where he wants. He simply can’t stop what he has started. Under the statutory language of the Clean Air Act, the regulation of mobile sources tripwires regulations for all stationary sources that emit more than 250 tons of a designated pollutant. For greenhouse gases, that’s pretty much everything larger than a Gore-sized mansion. These stationary sources would have to get a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit for any significant modification, as would any new source. They would also have to get operating permits. The upshot is that millions of buildings would be subject to regulations. Small businesses will similarly be affected, as millions of businesses emit that amount of greenhouse gases. Fast-food franchises, apartment blocks, hospitals — you name it — will find themselves subject to EPA bureaucracy.

Oh yeah....and stop exhaling. Ingrates. Can't you see the government is here to help?

WSJ - Business Fumes Over Carbon Dioxide Rule

"A Different Iran"

The anti-regime protesters in Iran aren't going away anytime soon.

“The opposition movement is not in any way a passing phase, it is a permanent part of the political dynamic inside Iran,” Geneive Abdo, an analyst at the Century Foundation in New York, said today by telephone. “People are in this for the long term.”

Iranian officials said 36 people were killed in the clashes that followed the election, while the opposition put the toll at 72 and said some of the deaths were the result of beatings during detention.

The opposition, known as the Green Movement, grew out of protests over the declaration of an election victory for Ahmadinejad. Mousavi and the other main challenger, former parliament Speaker Mehdi Karrubi, say the vote was fraudulent, an allegation rejected by the president.

Critics of the government have condemned the crackdown on protesters, which has included the arrest and trial of hundreds of former officials, journalists, political analysts and activists.

“This is a different Iran, which has developed after the June 12 election,” said Abdo, editor of insidedeiran.org, a Web site that publishes research and comments from the country. “Major figures inside the system are defecting, and there is a shrinking number of conservatives around the leadership.

‘‘Millions from different walks of life want change, some within the system and some want to dismantle it.’’ Abdo said. ‘‘The regime will have to answer to the people who are dissatisfied and who cannot be placed in any one category.’’

Wouldn't it be great if we had a President willing to give unqualified support to the millions of Iranians currently demonstrating in the streets their longing for freedom? Imagine how they would be inspired and encouraged by that. That this kind of championing of freedom is part of the POTUS job description used to be a given. Now we "engage" with the oppressors....to no apparent advantage for anyone but the oppressors.

NYT story

More from Michael Ledeen, including links to blogs covering the protests.

BBC - Regime responds to protests with clubs, tear gas and bullets.

UPDATE 12/8: update from Michael Ledeen on the assault by Basij thugs on the wife of opposition leader Mousavi, and the confrontation later with Mousavi himself.

The Faithful Gather

Here's a snippet from Bruce Bawer's initial report from the Copenhagen climate confab...they're unfazed by the Climategate disclosures that reveal the dishonesty of their leading alarmists...

Of course, everything here in Copenhagen seems to be proceeding as planned. The show must go on. All over town, the message being trumpeted is the same one reiterated in Sunday’s Times: that the science of this stuff is all settled, period, and that all that remains is to act. Indeed it’s being trumpeted so loudly and ubiquitously that Copenhagen, on second thought, doesn’t feel so much like the Vatican as it does, say, Havana or Pyongyang. Stroll around awhile and you’ll keep encountering giant banners or posters or displays designed to ensure that the great unwashed don’t lose sight of the orthodoxy to which they’re expected to pay mindless obeisance. On the side of one church, for example, a banner three stories high proclaims that it’s “TIME FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE.” There are also endless outsized placards — inspired, I suspect, by Barack Obama’s campaign rhetoric – bearing the unfortunate coinage “HOPENHAGEN.” Barfsville. I don’t remember where, if anyplace, I’ve ever seen so many huge, fancy banners. Not to mention the big, splashy, World’s Fair-style displays — among them a giant globe in City Hall Park — which certainly must be using up plenty of electricity. Wasting resources is OK, it seems, when you’re engaged in a noble struggle against wasting resources.

Is it a stretch, by the way, to drag Pyongyang into this? I don’t think so. You know that famous picture of Earth at night, which shows the civilized countries ablaze with light while North Korea is pitch dark? That darkness, after all, is what these characters are proposing for all of us, and for our posterity: international agreements that would create a brave new world in which we’d sit in our feebly lit little bathrooms using one miserable square of Soviet Union-style toilet paper per visit while thinking about all the places we might be traveling to if we still had the right to fly airplanes. Meanwhile these climate kings, these would-be Masters of the Universe (and I can only hope Tom Wolfe is planning to write a novel about them at this very moment), exempt from their own draconian edicts, would continue to jet around the world on private Gulfstreams, attending one pointless conference like this one after another.

RTWT of course.

George Will is also must-read.

December 4, 2009

CJR and Jonah on Climategate Media

The Columbia Journalism Review weighs in on media coverage of the Climategate scandal, partly in response to Jonah Goldberg's USA Today column. Both are worth a look, and they do agree that journalists have to do more and better work on the climate issue.

CJR essentially concedes Goldberg's point that the online debate is robust, but that major media and TV coverage has been almost non-existent....and then makes excuses for why that's so...(it's such a large cache of documents....regional media outlets don't have science reporters anymore...this complex, technical issue doesn't lend itself to 2-minute TV soundbites...). To their credit, they challenge journalists of all stripes to ask the tough questions about the politicization of climate research. Lots of good linkage in both pieces. Excerpting Goldberg here on groupthink and the big bucks and careers riding on a status quo of comfortable conformity...

First, the climate change industry is shot through with groupthink (or what climate scientist Judith Curry calls "climate tribalism"). Activists would have us believe that the overwhelming majority of "real" scientists agree with them while the few dissenters are all either crazed or greedy "deniers" akin to flat-earthers and creationists. These e-mails show that what's really at work is a very large clique of scientists is attempting to excommunicate perceived heretics for reasons that have more to do with psychology and sociology than physics or climatology.

Second, the climate industry really is an industry. Climate scientists make their money and careers from government, academia, the United Nations and foundations. The grantors want the grantees to confirm the global warming "consensus." The tenure and peer-review processes likewise hinge on conformity. That doesn't necessarily mean climate change is untrue, but it does mean sloppiness and bias are unavoidable.


...the closer you look at the scandal the more you realize it's all one big outrage. The same journalistic tribalism that allowed Dan Rather to destroy his career over "Memogate" keeps reinforcing itself. Rather picked sources who said what he wanted to hear, then he reported what they said as if it were indisputable. The same thing is happening on climate change. Ideological bias is a major factor in the news media's work as a transmission belt for the climate industry. But part of the problem is also that the journalists do a bad job when the majority of "respected" experts agree on anything complicated. For instance, it was pretty impossible for reporters to independently investigate whether Saddam Hussein had WMDs, and since the most established authorities agreed he had to have them, the news media reported the consensus, which turned out to be wrong.

Likewise, most journalists aren't qualified or capable of working through the climate data. So they opt for the consensus. But there are important differences, too. While there's often reason for governments to hide classified intelligence, there's no reason for climate data to be classified. If the science is a slam dunk, why are CRU researchers keen on hiding their research? After the WMD fiasco, journalists agonized over their mistakes. Why no soul-searching over the CRU fiasco? Climate change hasn't been "debunked" by these documents. But the integrity of the "consensus" has been.

December 2, 2009

Coming Unraveled

In The Telegraph, James Delingpole rounds up some of the immediate fallout from the Climategate scandal:

Climategate: It's all unravelling now

Fair to say we all owe thanks to the as yet unnamed insider who leaked the CRU documents. Lord Monckton reveals that it took the leaker at least two tries to get the world's attention:

The unnamed hero of ‘Climategate’, after months of work gathering emails, computer code, and data, quietly sent a 61-megabyte compressed file from one of the university’s servers to an obscure public message-board on the internet, with a short covering note to the effect that the climate was too important to keep the material secret, and that the data from the University would be available for a short time only. He had caught the world’s politico-scientific establishment green-handed. Yet his first attempts to reveal the highly-profitable fraud and systematic corruption at the very heart of the UN’s climate panel and among the scientists most prominent in influencing it’s prejudiced and absurdly doom-laden reports had failed. He had made the mistake of sending the data-file to the mainstream news media, which had also profited for decades by fostering the “global warming” scare, and by generally denying anyone who disagreed with the official viewpoint any platform.

That was reportedly the BBC.


Lord Monckton's Summary of Climategate and its issues - (via Watts Up With That)

Wizblog: Cooking the Warming

December 1, 2009

Obama's "Surge...But..." Speech

I read the text of the speech before watching the video, so I got it first without the trademark oratory, (which some commentators in both political camps thought was lackluster or missing entirely). I sensed some ambivalence and discomfort in what was for me the first real look at the president in his role as Commander-in-Chief.

The criticism from the right is centered on the speech itself...the tone, the defensiveness, the obligatory jabs at Bush, the focus on costs and exit strategy, and the lack of emphasis on "victory"...and not on the policy decision, which is (almost) what the military had asked for, and what the task at hand seems to require. The major heat the president is getting is, for a change, from his left. As limited as his options were, it still took political courage to defy his hard-left base and commit 30,000 U.S. troops to the Afghan campaign. Props are due him for the policy decision, even if he failed rhetorically to inspire much confidence in it.

Full text of speech

In the paragraphs immediately preceding and following this excerpt, Obama resorted to the customary self-regard, scapegoating and apologetics, but it was nevertheless good to see this slight nod to American exceptionalism, if only because such sentiments are so rare with this president...

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions – from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank – that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades – a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for – and what we continue to fight for – is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.

A roundup of reaction, mostly from center-right and center-left pundits, after the jump...

Video reaction from Charles Krauthammer and Stephen Hayes at Gateway Pundit.

Some of the usual petty gracelessness was noticed by Fred Barnes and Jen Rubin

More from Rubin here:

...so we are embarked on a surge with a reluctant and obviously conflicted commander in chief. The essential policy, with a bit of unnecessary chiseling on the number of troops, is not far off the mark. But part of war strategy is stagecraft and convincing the enemies that they are on the losing side of history. Would the sheiks in Anbar have risked plenty for a “surge… but…” strategy in Iraq? Would al Qaeda’s recruits have dried up there had George W. Bush announced a commencement date for withdrawal in January 2007? We don’t know, and Bush declined to make his own job more difficult by fuzzing up his message. Obama couldn’t resist the urge to do just that.

We may prevail despite the president’s inner turmoil and half-hearted rhetoric. We may win despite the doubts he sowed about our willingness to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to prevail.

Tunku Varadarajan:

What has struck me most about Obama's Afghan enterprise—and his speech did not cause me to alter my view—is how obvious it is that he doesn't really want to do it. He wants to do health care. Obama has tried every delaying trick in the book—waiting for three months after Gen. McChrystal's request for more troops, having meeting after meeting after meeting, sending Gen. Jones to tell McChrystal not to ask for more troops, having his economic team say it will cost too much, framing the venture in terms of "exit strategies" rather than victory, etc. His ambivalence was on naked display tonight. Can you imagine Churchill delivering a speech like this, one so full of a sense of the limitation of national possibilities? No wonder Hillary—when the camera panned to her—looked like she needed a drink. No wonder the cadets all looked so depressed. Would you want Eeyore for commander in chief?

Andrew Ferguson:

Obama is the first Democratic president in forty years to call for a significant deployment of American troops in the national security interest of his country. This is very big news. His predecessor, President Clinton, could give a stirring address dispatching bombers over Bosnia and be confident of the support of his fellow Democrats, because the show of power was purely humanitarian and had nothing to do with keeping us safe from our enemies. With great courage, Obama is trying something that hasn’t been tried within the living memory of most of the members of his party. He may even recall the era when liberal Democratic presidents -- Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson -- could lead a fight because it was in the interest of the country to fight. This is a historical moment, and one we should be grateful for.

John McCain:

“What I do not support, and what concerns me greatly, is the President’s decision to set an arbitrary date to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan. A date for withdrawal sends exactly the wrong message to both our friends and our enemies – in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the entire region – all of whom currently doubt whether America is committed to winning this war. A withdrawal date only emboldens Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, while dispiriting our Afghan partners and making it less likely that they will risk their lives to take our side in this fight.

“Success is the real exit strategy. When we have achieved our goals in Afghanistan, our troops should begin to return home with honor, but that withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary deadlines. In the days ahead, I will seek to address this and other questions I have about the President’s policy, including my continuing concern about the civilian aspect of our strategy.

Der Spiegel:

It was as though Obama had taken one of his old campaign speeches and merged it with a text from the library of ex-President George W. Bush. Extremists kill in the name of Islam, he said, before adding that it is one of the "world's great religions." He promised that responsibility for the country's security would soon be transferred to the government of President Hamid Karzai -- a government which he said was "corrupt." The Taliban is dangerous and growing stronger. But "America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars," he added.

It was a dizzying combination of surge and withdrawal, of marching to and fro. The fast pace was reminiscent of plays about the French revolution: Troops enter from the right to loud cannon fire and then they exit to the left. And at the end, the dead are left on stage.

But in this case, the public was more disturbed than entertained. Indeed, one could see the phenomenon in a number of places in recent weeks: Obama's magic no longer works. The allure of his words has grown weaker.

It is not he himself who has changed, but rather the benchmark used to evaluate him. For a president, the unit of measurement is real life. A leader is seen by citizens through the prism of their lives -- their job, their household budget, where they live and suffer. And, in the case of the war on terror, where they sometimes die.

Matt Yglesias:

How...is the check not blank if the President of the United States has defined the mission as serving a vital American interest? If you made the case that the mission is a good idea differently—if you just said we’re obligated to the Afghan people and government to give it a try—then your check has real limits. We’re obligated, but they’re obligated too, and if they don’t meet their obligations we can meet ours so we’ll have to walk away. But that’s not what he said. What he said was “I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan . . . [w]e must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.” Insofar as that’s true, then it’s true completely independently of how we feel about the Afghan government, so Afghan government actions have a limited influence on our policy, so whatever checks we write to them are pretty much blank.

Peter Beinart:

...it left me cold. Militarily, we are plunging deeper into Afghanistan, but emotionally, we are getting out. There was virtually nothing in the speech about our moral obligation to the Afghan people, a people to whom America promised much and has delivered scandalously little.


When it comes to the 9/11 wars, Obama clearly doesn’t think Americans have much more gas in the tank. He may be right, but if that’s true, then it's naïve to believe this last gasp of exertion will accomplish much. If, on the other hand, Obama is serious about bringing our war in Afghanistan to a “successful conclusion,” and not just a conclusion, he gave the wrong speech. Because Tuesday night’s speech was the opposite of rousing. Its subtext was: Just hang on; this will all be over soon.

John Podhoretz

Whatever the flaws in the speech itself — and they were considerable — Obama’s announcement and the details of the plan together represent a landmark moment. After spending a few months desperately looking for another choice, a third choice, a cute choice, Obama did in fact surrender to the logic of the presidency. Having called the conflict in Afghanistan a “war of necessity,” he has committed the nation to it, and himself to it. Even his words about troop withdrawal in 2011 suggest the seriousness of that commitment, since he only mentioned beginning the withdrawals and conditioned even that on the facts on the ground at the time.

Max Boot:

...there is plenty of reason to doubt Obama’s resolve in Afghanistan. On the plus side, he committed to sending more troops than some White House aides wanted, and he committed to sending them at once, refusing to draw out the process by announcing “off ramps” in the deployment plan or “benchmarks” that the Afghan government must meet before we send more forces.

But then he undercut some of the urgency he conveyed by pledging “to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.” If this is such a vital national interest — and it is — why is our commitment so limited? How can he be so confident that the extra 30,000 troops — who will be lucky to arrive in their entirety by next summer — can accomplish their ambitious mission in just a year?

The Washington Post rounds up statements from members of Congress of both parties. Notable, if not unusual, is Senator Boxer's incoherence.

UPDATE 12/2: Matt Welch rounds up comments from selected liberals.

...and there's very little I can disagree with in today's Tom Friedman column...and that's sort of unusual.

More Jen Rubin, for the "Say What?" file...

...if Obama’s war vision was confused, the account of his own presidency was positively unrecognizable. It seemed that he was speaking of some other presidency, or one he hoped to have had, when he, for example, declared: “We have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim World — one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.” What is he talking about? The Middle East “peace process” is in a shambles, and he has left a trail of disappointed and aggrieved Muslims — from the Palestinian Authority, which thought it was getting the impossible, to the democracy advocates, who thought they had a friend in the White House. What’s new, exactly?

But the next line was the jaw dropper: “We must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples.” Well we “must,” but he’s done nothing of the sort, repeatedly downgrading, diminishing, and discarding human rights and democracy promotion. He hasn’t spoken out to or on behalf of the Chinese democracy advocates. When he had the chance, he did nothing to “tend the light of freedom and justice” in Iran. When he could have showed the Dalai Lama that he valued “respect for the dignity of all peoples,” he decided it was more important to show the Chinese Communists his inner toadiness. Really, embellishment in a speech is to be expected, but this was one big lie.

Since we haven't included anyone yet who could really be considered "hard left", I give you Tom Hayden, who writes...

It's time to strip the Obama sticker off my car

Here's Krauthammer

Words matter because will matters. Success in war depends on three things: a brave and highly skilled soldiery, such as the U.S. military 2009, the finest counterinsurgency force in history; brilliant, battle-tested commanders such as Gens. David Petraeus and McChrystal, fresh from the success of the surge in Iraq; and the will to prevail as personified by the commander-in-chief. There’s the rub. And that is why at such crucial moments, presidents don’t issue a policy paper. They give a speech. It gives tone and texture. It allows their policy to be imbued with purpose and feeling. This one was festooned with hedges, caveats, and one giant exit ramp.


Despite my personal misgivings about the possibility of lasting success against Taliban insurgencies in both Afghanistan and the borderlands of Pakistan, I have deep confidence that Petraeus and McChrystal would not recommend a strategy that will be costly in lives, without their having a firm belief in the possibility of success.

I would therefore defer to their judgment and support their recommended policy. But the fate of this war depends not just on them. It depends on the president. We cannot prevail without a commander-in-chief committed to success. And this commander-in-chief defended his exit date (versus the straw-man alternative of “open-ended” nation-building) thusly: “because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.”

Remarkable. Go and fight, he tells his cadets — some of whom may not return alive — but I may have to cut your mission short because my real priorities are domestic.

Has there ever been a call to arms more dispiriting, a trumpet more uncertain?

Cracked Stumps Science

Thought this was kind of interesting...

6 Things Your Body Does Every Day That Science Can't Explain

...like why do you yawn?

(via @tunkuv)

Some Perspective on Swine Flu

Michael Fumento, a journalist specializing in health and science issues, has encouraging news on swine flu. It continues to be sensationalized in the media, but has proven both milder and much less common than normal seasonal flu...and it has peaked... (Fumento bio)

“Swine flu has killed 540 kids, sickened 22 million Americans,” screamed USA Today’s page 1 headline, sub-headed “CDC: Cases, Deaths are Unprecedented.” “Swine flu cases in the U.S. are rising at the fastest pace for influenza in four decades,” breathlessly declares a Bloomberg News article lede. Another article’s title referred to a “national swine flu spike.”

Scary stuff! Phony stuff! And a desperate effort to distract from an alarmist media’s greatest nightmare: That the epidemic has peaked.

The latest squealing is based on the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 22 million Americans have been infected with H1N1 swine flu from when the outbreak’s early April beginning until October 17, or five and a half months. (Though “sickened” hardly applies since about a third of cases are wholly asymptomatic.) Of those, the agency says 4000 have died and 540 were under age 18.

Put in perspective with garden variety seasonal flu these figures aren’t at all alarming and the CDC’s report indeed provides seasonal flu data. But perspective – like honesty – is the alarmists’ enemy. So instead reporters simply cut, rearranged, and pasted press conference statements from unofficial swine flu “czarina” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.


What’s truly unprecedented about swine flu is its incredible mildness. The CDC estimates seasonal flu annually kills 36,000 Americans, again spread over four months. That compares to 4,000 swine flu deaths over five and a half months. The seasonal flu death rate therefore ranges 0.06 percent to 0.24 percent, while the CDC estimate puts it at only 0.0182 percent for swine flu. So seasonal flu is three to 12 times deadlier per case.

Likewise for the world scene. When the World Health Organization (WHO) made its official pandemic declaration in June, we were 11 weeks into the outbreak and swine flu had only killed 144 people worldwide – the same number who die of seasonal flu worldwide every few hours. After seven months, swine flu has killed about as many people as the seasonal flu does every seven days.


...just as swine flu arrived early, so too must it peak earlier. Indeed, it already has as data readily available on the CDC FluView website and elsewhere – and just as readily ignored – show.

The first accompanying graphic from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows both new deaths and hospitalizations down sharply for the second week in a row, with hospitalizations at the lowest level since early October.

Even more telling, though, is that the bottom has fallen out of new infections as shown by the second graph. Test samples doctors have submitted to CDC-monitored surveillance laboratories show that four weeks ago almost 25,000 were sent and of those over 38 percent were positive. It’s steadily fallen each week so that the latest figures now show fewer than 29 percent positive out of merely 11,000 samples (the fewest samples since September), almost a 70 percent plunge from the height of the epidemic!

(And yes, don’t you think you should have read about this in the New York Times or Washington Post first?)

Uh...yeah. RTWT

(Since this is two weeks old, maybe the Times and WaPo have caught up?? Not sure)