April 2009, Part 2
Jim Miller on Politics
About 1.2 Degrees Centigrade: According to this post, that's how much doubling CO2 would warm the earth — in the absence of feedback.
It turns out the the first order effects of CO2 on world temperatures are relatively uncontroversial. The IPCC estimated that, before feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 would increase global temperatures by about 1.2C (2.2F).If your climate became 1.2 degrees centigrade (or, if you prefer, a little more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer, would that be disastrous? Probably not, for most of us.
Why do some global warming alarmists predict much larger increases in temperature? Because their models include positive feedback. (And some skeptics believe that the models do not include the negative feedback that ought to be there.)
How can we tell which side is right? The only way outsiders* can tell is by comparing the models' predictions to actual temperatures. If the earth warms as predicted by the models, then the alarmists are right; if it doesn't, then they are wrong. And I won't venture to say how wrong those predictions have to be before we reject those models. Or for how many years.
So the argument is, at its heart, over the sign of the feedback in the climate system.
(*In principle, insiders could reject the models because they used incorrect physics, because there were errors in programming, or something similar.
You can find a review on feedback here.
As usual when I discuss global warming, I urge you to read my disclaimer if you have not already done so.)
- 4:48 PM, 16 April 2009 [link]
Guilty Pleasures: One of mine is Ann Coulter columns. I find it impossible not to enjoy most of her wisecracks, even when I know they are unfair, and more than a little uncivil. For instance:
I had no idea how important this week's nationwide anti-tax tea parties were until hearing liberals denounce them with such ferocity. The New York Times' Paul Krugman wrote a column attacking the tea parties, apologizing for making fun of "crazy people." It's OK, Paul, you're allowed to do that for the same reason Jews can make fun of Jews.I won't defend those arguments, but I won't deny that I found that laughing-out-loud funny. And she almost always picks on targets that deserve more than a little ridicule — a group that very definitely includes Paul Krugman.
- 12:27 PM, 16 April 2009 [link]
Obama's Campaign Trip To Europe: Victor David Hanson was not impressed.
Given Obama's performance on his recent trip, three developments were quite astounding.So why did Obama make the trip? Not to advance American interests and values. That's obvious. The trip did nothing for the United States (perhaps less than nothing), but it did two things for Obama: He got to put on campaign events with exotic backgrounds, and he got to hear the applause of crowds.
Like Hanson, I expect that our enemies will exploit Obama's desire for applause. Our enemies are generally evil, but rarely stupid.
- 10:41 AM, 16 April 2009 [link]
True? Who knows? But this story of crime and punishment in Russia is too good not to pass on. (Though you may not want younger sprogs to read it.)
- 5:57 AM, 16 April 2009 [link]
Thousands Of American Lawyers Will Feel Jealous when they read this story.
With a new high seas run-in with pirates happening almost daily off the eastern coast of Somalia, much of the world's attention is turning to how best to capture and bring these marauders to justice.It's just a guess, but I don't think these lawyers will help reduce piracy, even in the long run.
- 5:45 AM, 16 April 2009 [link]
The Wall Street Journal Has Questions About Goldman Sachs: The firm has benefitted enormously from the bailout.
On the other hand, Goldman isn't exactly swearing off all Beltway help. The firm has benefited enormously from the federal bailout, and many of our sources believe Goldman would have failed without it. Goldman denies this, claiming in particular that the firm had "no material economic exposure to AIG" at the time of the insurer's collapse.You don't have to understand the details of the AIG-Goldman contracts — I certainly don't — to wonder about the propriety of that result.
William Cohan, writing in the New York Times, also has questions.
The question many Wall Streeters are asking is just how Goldman once again snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Many point to Goldman's expert manipulation of the levers of power in Washington. Since Robert Rubin, its former chairman, joined the Clinton administration in 1993, first as the director of the National Economic Council and then as Treasury secretary, the firm has come to be known, as a headline in this newspaper last October put it, as "Government Sachs."If there is a scandal, it's bipartisan, though Goldman Sachs has more connections to the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party.
- 4:11 PM, 15 April 2009 [link]
Flowers Bloom in Baghdad.
Iraq was set to hold its first-ever international flower festival on Wednesday with the hope of showing the world that peace is blossoming after the winter of a long war.Good news.
- 3:48 PM, 15 April 2009 [link]
Suppose Obama Did Something Truly Evil: How would "mainstream" journalists cover it? The Onion has a guess.
More than a week after President Barack Obama's cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.It's funny, mostly, because, just for a minute, you think that our "mainstream" journalists might act just like that.
- 3:32 PM, 15 April 2009 [link]
More Posts Coming Soon: Been a little under the weather the past couple of days, nothing serious, but I felt more like resting than writing. But I am feeling better and should have some posts later today, and I expect to be back full time by tomorrow.
- 1:39 PM, 15 April 2009 [link]
Andrew Rosenthal Asked For Questions For Readers: So I sent this email to the editorial page editor of the New York Times:
Dear Mr. Rosenthal:I don't expect a reply.
(Here's the first batch of questions and answers. Reading them did not make me feel better about Rosenthal.)
- 9:15 AM, 14 April 2009
As predicted, Rosenthal did not respond to my question, not even to example 3 where I asserted that he, and the editorial writers at the Times, keep getting the facts wrong on a Bush "promise".
- 10:48 AM, 21 April 2009 [link]
Deepak Chopra Smears The Bush Administration: And gets the facts wrong in this op-ed.
Even before his inauguration, President Obama signaled a change of attitude toward Islam. He renounced the term "war on terror" and has never even flirted with another right-wing favorite, "clash of civilizations." Since taking office he has addressed the Islamic world with respect — a key concept in that culture — and recently declared in Israel that the United States is not at war with Islam and never will be.In fact, President Bush worked hard to calm opinion against the Muslim world, as anyone who bothered to follow what Bush and his administration actually did can tell you.
Chopra is, I gather, supposed to be a spiritual teacher of some sort. If he wants to be a good one, he should learn the facts and then apologize for this smear.
- 8:19 AM, 14 April 2009 [link]
Phil Spector Convicted: Though it took two tries. Like Ed Morrissey, I am mildly surprised that an LA jury convicted a celebrity. Mildly surprised, but pleased.
And I can't help wondering why he was wearing those two pins, an American flag pin and an campaign pin that says "Barack Obama Rocks". Perhaps he thought they might influence the jury. (Drudge is showing the picture with the pins, but the LA Times hides it inside a long sequence. That shows again that Drudge understands tabloid journalism better than most journalists.)
(I still enjoy some of the songs he wrote and produced. But I was convinced long ago, by Tom Wolfe, that Spector was at least a little touched, though I can't say that Wolfe's essay on Spector, "The First Tycoon of Teen" (which you can read in this collection) depicted a violent man. Strange, very strange, but not violent. But the news reports say that his mental problems had worsened over the years.)
- 7:56 AM, 14 April 2009 [link]
Clark Hoyt Earned His Pay Last Week: The New York Times public editor gives me fewer opportunities to praise him than I would like, but he scored with this column.
Late last month, The Times published an Op-Ed column about the Bernard Madoff scandal. With all the attention devoted to what made Madoff tick, wrote Daphne Merkin, the other participants in his giant Ponzi scheme were being overlooked: the ones who got taken.Hoyt says that the Times should have disclosed a "lot more" about the connection. He's right.
We can hope that Hoyt will encourage similar openness on political connections, but experience has shown us that we should not expect that at our newspaper of record.
- 2:48 PM, 13 April 2009 [link]
Full Disclosure: (Not that I have much to disclose.)
I was a little surprised — though perhaps I shouldn't have been — to read this:
Some of the leading liberal bloggers are privately furious with the major progressive groups — and in some cases, the Democratic Party committees — for failing to spend money advertising on their sites, even as these groups constantly ask the bloggers for free assistance in driving their message.These bloggers can have whatever policies they prefer, though I do hope that they will be open about their policies.
When I set up my own site, I decided to avoid such problems by not having any advertising. (There is advertising on a site I contribute to, Sound Politics.) I have not even become an Amazon associate, though I may do that, since I so often recommend books here. I decided not to have advertising, not because I think ads would contaminate the site, but to keep my life simple. The potential revenue just didn't seem worth the possible problems. Others will assess the balance differently, and that's fine with me.
For similar reasons, I have kept a little distance from Republican organizations. (I did recently ask one official for a link to a newspaper article. He gave it to me, and then I never got around to using it.) I would encourage other people to get involved, if they feel inclined, but don't plan to do so myself. In the future I plan to cover some of the local Republican organizations, because I think they are often negelected by news organizations, and I think I will be able to do that better if I do so as an outsider.
I do regularly get emails from Republican and conservative organizations. I glance at them for possible material, but I have so much to write about already that I generally don't have time to do more than glance at them. And I get tips from you — which I much appreciate — but I hope you will understand that I can use only a few of them. I see so much material during most days that I often feel as if I were trying to fill a water bottle from a firehose, when it comes to choosing which subjects to write about.
(More thoughts on Hamsher and company here and here.)
- 2:00 PM, 13 April 2009 [link]
How Much Credit Does Obama Deserve For The Rescue Of Captain Phillips? Before the rescue, leftwingers and "mainstream" reporters were preparing alibis for Obama, telling us that the standoff showed the "limits" of American power. They were even hoping that the issue would somehow go away, calling it a distraction.
Since Phillips was freed, they have been celebrating the rescue, calling it a great success for Obama. Here's a typical example from the Washington Post.
For President Obama, last week's confrontation with Somali pirates posed similar political risks to a young commander in chief who had yet to prove himself to his generals or his public.(And if you want a laughable example, read this piece by Chris Cillizza, also of the Washington Post.)
A few on the right have gone to the opposite extreme, giving Obama no credit at all.
My take? Obama deserves a little credit, but only a little because all he did was authorize the US Navy to protect the captain's life. That was hardly a difficult decision.
And we can not expect that all our enemies will be as obliging as these pirates. I had not known, until today, that the pirates actually agreed to allow the lifeboat to be tied to the Bainbridge, giving us even more control over the standoff. Nor can we expect future enemies to expose all of themselves to snipers at the same time.
(A historical parallel may make the point even clearer. Early in the Civil War, General George McClellan won a series of small victories in what is now West Virginia. Would it be appropriate to give Lincoln much credit for those victories? No, because Lincoln had not chosen McClellan and had not set his strategy, and because McClellan's forces greatly outnumbered the Confederates. Lincoln had little to do with the victories. And any competent general should have won, with those odds.
Similarly, Obama had little to do with this confrontation, which was not as difficult as some were making it out to be, thanks in part to the stupidity of the pirates.
And one last ironic point: General Robert E. Lee came in to try to retrieve matters for the Confederates after McClellan's first victories — and failed miserably.)
- 11:04 AM, 13 April 2009 [link]
Obama Has Revived The Pro-Life Movement: Politico has some numbers.
Obama's first 84 days in office have been like an extended recruiting drive for the anti-abortion movement, reinvigorating a constituency he sought to neutralize during the campaign. Activists report a noticeable spike in activity as Obama moves to defend and expand a woman's right to choose an abortion — causing anti-abortion voters to mobilize in ways never needed during the Bush administration. So far this year:And Politico has much more evidence.
(In the past, careful studies of votes on abortion showed that a pro-life position was a small plus for a candidate, nationally. Most voters do not make the issue an important part of their voting decision; of those that do, pro-life voters have generally outnumbered pro-abortion voters. I haven't seen recent studies of this question.)
In some ways what is surprising is that this is happening after the election, since Obama is the most radically pro-abortion candidate ever nominated by a major party. But our "mainstream" reporters were not interested in telling us much about that part of his record.
(For the record: I am in the middle on abortion issues, favoring more restrictions than we now have, but not an outright ban.
This revival is similar to the way Obama revived gun rights groups.)
- 10:20 AM, 13 April 2009 [link]
The US Navy Handled The Rescue Just Right: As far as I can tell from preliminary reports.
United States Navy personnel rescued the captain of an American cargo ship on Sunday by killing three Somali pirates who had been holding him hostage for four days, government officials said.The pirates were trapped, and outgunned — to say the least. So there was no reason not to spend time, even days, trying to talk them into surrendering. Unless they threatened Captain Phillip's life, as they apparently did.
(On Friday, The New York Times ran an article arguing that that standoff showed the "limits" of US power. Yesterday, an African news site made a similar claim, saying the standoff showed the "ineffectiveness" of military force. I doubt that either reporter will revise his article, but both should.
If you are like me, you may have a false idea of what the the lifeboat looks like, even though the Times gives us a hint with "capsule-like". Here's a diagram of a similar lifeboat; as you can see, it is, indeed, a capsule, and far more closed than the old lifeboats you may have seen in old movies. Diagram thanks to Charlie (Colorado).)
- 6:15 PM, 12 April 2009 [link]
Happy Easter! To all who celebrate it today.
- 2:40 PM, 12 April 2009 [link]
Nasty: But very funny. Mike's comment on Obama's bow to King Abdullah:
At least it was a bow not a curtseyOuch.
- 2:48 PM, 11 April 2009 [link]
The Haves And The Have Nots: In more and more communities, they are the government workers, and everyone else.
The pay gap between government workers and lower-compensated private employees is growing as public employees enjoy sizable benefit growth even in a distressed economy, federal figures show.Not in all communities, of course. There are many wealthy communities where the public employees are almost all poorer than everyone who lives in those communities. But there are even more low income communities where most of the good jobs are government jobs.
- 1:13 PM, 10 April 2009 [link]
Annoying Distraction? Here's the lead paragraph in a Reuters analysis.
Ragtag teams of modern-day Blackbeards are posing an annoying distraction for Barack Obama, forcing him to add Somalia to an already long list of foreign policy challenges.Most American presidents have thought that protecting American citizens was at the heart of their job, not an "annoying distraction". But I can see why a leftwing journalist might disagree.
(So far, the Obama administration has handled the confrontation correctly, saying nothing and leaving the negotiations to the professionals. Even Joe Biden has, so far, said nothing.)
- 7:15 AM, 10 April 2009
Mark Steyn lists some more "distractions".
So many distractions, aren't there? Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an "annoying distraction" from Barack Obama's call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a "distraction" — from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle's wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration's plans for federally subsidized daycare, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand's dinner plans.Steyn believes, as do I, that these "distractions" are not distractions but at the heart of a president's job. And he fears that democratic leaders will, more and more, shrink from dealing with these "distractions". I am not as pessimistic as Steyn is, but I can understand why he has those fears.
- 7:41 AM, 13 April 2009 [link]
Lightning At Redoubt: You can see a picture of lightning at the Alaska volcano here, and read a brief article about it here.
The picture would be a good background for a Halloween party.
- 4:47 PM, 9 April 2009 [link]
Worth Reading: Critically. Gary Kamiya looks at Ward Churchill's academic record, and finds it wanting. Two samples to show why it is worth reading:
Churchill's academic background is unorthodox. He holds a B.A. in technological communications and an M.A. in communications theory from Sangamon State University. According to Wikipedia, he began working as an affirmative action officer at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1978. In 1990, despite the fact that he did not hold a doctorate, C.U. hired him as an associate professor, and granted him tenure in the communications department in 1991. He moved to the new ethnic studies department in 1996, was made a full professor in 1997, and became chairman of the department in 2002. He received these promotions despite having no formal graduate training in the fields he works in. (Churchill was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1992 by Alfred University after giving a speech there.)And a sample to show you why you should read it critically:
As the scholars point out in their conclusion, one of the most unfortunate outcomes of Churchill's academic misconduct is that it brought disrepute not only upon himself, but upon the field of ethnic studies in general and Native American studies in particular.Whether that result is unfortunate depends on whether that disrepute is deserved, and Kamiya comes close to admitting that it is, in part, just a few paragraphs down. In fact all too many of the academics in these fields are, to put it charitably, not the best and the most honest of scholars. Ward Churchill is an extreme case, but it would be wrong to conclude that he is completely atypical.
(Of course, Kamiya has to take some cracks at the Bush administration — this was published in Salon, where such cracks are almost a requirement. Of course, Kamiya provides no evidence for his harsh charges against Bush — this was published in Salon, where evidence for charges against Bush has long been optional.)
- 4:08 PM, 9 April 2009 [link]
Pro-Abortion Extremists Only: As I noted earlier today, Obama prefers to associate with millionaires. But being a millionaire isn't an absolute requirement to work for Obama; some in his Cabinet have quite modest fortunes. But Obama does, apparently, have one absolute requirement.
President Obama's appointees, so diverse in many ways, have certain underlying similarities. In the standard categories of race, age, and sex, they are as diverse as any administration's before them--though they adhere to a standard of good looks quite unlike the most recent Democratic administration. Intellectually, Team Obama is just as inclusive: not just Harvard and Yale but Columbia and Cornell, Chicago South Siders and North Siders; stimulus enthusiasts (Christina Romer and Larry Summers) and stimulus skeptics (Romer and Summers in the 1990s). Strict orthodoxy reigns only on one issue--an issue which need not be on the president's overcrowded agenda at all: abortion. In the Obama administration there can be no dissent from the view that abortion must be unrestricted, paid for, and with no shilly-shallying about parental notification, partial birth abortion, or other such measures that would actually reduce the frequency of abortion.In this, Obama is in stark contrast to George W. Bush, who tolerated a wide variety of views on abortion in his administration, even in his Cabinet.
Obama's extremism on abortion sometimes leads to absurd results.
The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama's candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion, and the White House might be running out of time to find an acceptable envoy before Mr. Obama travels to Rome in July, when he hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI.(By way of the Other McCain, who makes a funny quip about this failure.)
As Sam Schulman says, there is a genuine diversity of opinion on the subject. And he is also right to say that many of us have changed our minds on the subject. (Me, for instance. Thinking about the arguments made by abortion advocates moved me from a pro-choice position to a confused position in the middle; I would like to restrict abortions more than we do at present, but not outlaw them entirely.) But this diversity is unacceptable in the new administration.
(Schulman makes a long, and interesting, argument about why the Obama administration, and so many other pro-abortion extremists, are intolerant of other views. I am not sure I agree with his argument, but it is one that I will have to think about, carefully.)
- 1:32 PM, 9 April 2009 [link]
Oops! That's no way to keep secrets.
Britain's most senior anti-terrorist policeman Bob Quick is under pressure to resign after making a blunder which forced an operation against a suspected al-Qaeda cell to be brought forward.As soon as Quick realized it had been photographed, he rushed the arrests, so not much may have been lost — other than, almost certainly, Commissioner Quick's job.
(Absent-minded people like me, who have tried to follow security procedures, not always successfully, will have some sympathy for Quick.)
- 12:46 PM, 9 April 2009 [link]
Doga? Really, I'm not making this up.
In Chicago, Kristyn Caliendo does forward-bends with a Jack Russell terrier draped around her neck. In Manhattan, Grace Yang strikes a warrior pose while balancing a Shih Tzu on her thigh. And in Seattle, Chantale Stiller-Anderson practices an asana that requires side-stretching across a 52-pound vizsla.Maybe popular with humans, but not with most dogs, I would guess. As cursorial hunting animals, dogs would rather move than pose. Most dogs will try pretty hard to please their owners, but this might be asking too much of the average dog.
(Never heard of the Vizsla breed? Neither had I.)
- 12:34 PM, 9 April 2009 [link]
What Kind Of People Does Barack Obama Like To Have Close To Him? Millionaires.
When President Barack Obama moved into the White House earlier this year, he took several of his fellow Chicago millionaires with him.The Tribune reporter, John McCormick, tries to explain away Obama's preference for millionaires in that last paragraph, but his explanation doesn't go very far. Bush was not from Austin, but from Texas and Texas has plenty of millionaires. Nor was Clinton from Little Rock, but from Arkansas, and there are more millionaires in Arkansas than you might think. And there are many, many capable people in Chicago, or more broadly, Illinois, who are not millionaires. But Obama did not choose any of those people for his closest aides.
McCormick does not mention something else of considerable importance: Emanuel, Axelrod, and Jarrett all became millionaires through their political connections.
- 10:51 AM, 9 April 2009 [link]
A Little More On That Obama Bow To The Saudi King: I had been planning to write a brief post, saying that I thought the importance of the bow was in what it might show us about Obama's thinking. And then I found that "Bookworm" had already written the post.
There is so much about Obama that is mysterious that, like the Kremlin watchers of old, we resort to looking for clues in the smallest symbols. And in some ways, the most interesting part of this incident is that the Obama administration is denying that Obama bowed to the king. Since anyone with access to the net, and functioning eyes, can see that Obama did bow, the denial is, shall we say, bold, and inspired many, including Glenn Reynolds, to recycle an improved version of a Marx Brothers quote: "Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?"
But that doesn't clear up many mysteries, since one thing we do know about Obama is that he is, from time to time, a bold liar, far bolder than the average politician.
(Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has been arguing that Bush bowed to the Saudi king, too. But the video that he used to support that argument showed Bush ducking his head to receive a medal, not bowing. Johnson is usually more sensible.)
- 6:47 AM, 9 April 2009 [link]