Rep. Markey on the Energy Bill

30 November 2007

CNN Praises Huckabee For Dodging Questions


Back in June, CNN hosted a Republican debate. When asked if the earth was literally created in a six-day period 6,000 years ago (a scientifically untenable position), creationist candidate Mike Huckabee dodged the question, simply making a joke about not being there. The correct answer was no. Nonetheless, all of the commentators at CNN thought this was a brilliant answer. According to the easily impressed Anderson Cooper, "the question of creationism came up tonight. Mike Huckabee talked about it very eloquently." Never mind the substance of the question, and the fact that the answer was unresponsive. The guy's a smooth talker, and that's apparently all the cable news pundits care about.

At this week's CNN/Youtube Republican debate, Huckabee did it again. When asked "What would Jesus do?" with regard to the death penalty, Mike Huckabee said "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do." Once again, the easily impressed Anderson Cooper has looked back on the night and expressed his admiration for what he thought was "certainly, probably one of the best answers you could possibly come up to, to that question."

Personally, I think that Jesus probably wouldn't rely on the death penalty. According to the Sermon on the Mount: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." When a woman was about to be stoned (the death penalty) for adultery, Jesus came to her aid and said "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." I'm not aware of any Jesus quotes endorsing retribution (the Old Testament God, on the other hand, suggested that we use the death penalty to kill homosexuals and disobedient children). Plus, he might be a bit sensitive about how he was subject to the death penalty, himself.

UPDATE: It looks like somebody asked Huckabee this question (WWJD) before. Here is his response from 1997:

“Interestingly enough,” Huckabee allowed, “if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, ‘This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency’.”
Hm. At least it's more of a direct answer. But to take the fact that he didn't specifically condemn it (while he was busy being tortured), and to infer from that that he endorses it (or at least tacitly approves of it) seems a little absurd to me. Especially given his specific repudiation of "an eye for an eye" in the Sermon on the Mount speech.

Poll: More Americans Believe in Devil Than Darwin

From the new Harris poll:

TABLE 1

WHAT PEOPLE DO AND DO NOT BELIEVE IN

"Please indicate for each one if you believe in it, or not"

Base: All Adults


Believe In

Don’t Believe In

Not Sure

2005

Change

BelieveIn

2005-2007

God

%

82

8

10

82

-

Miracles

%

79

10

12

73

+6

Heaven

%

75

12

14

70

+5

Angels

%

74

12

14

68

+6

Jesus is God or the Son of God

%

72

15

13

70

+2

The resurrection of Jesus Christ

%

70

16

15

66

+4

Survival of the soul after death

%

69

12

19

70

-1

Hell

%

62

22

16

59

+3

The Devil

%

62

23

15

61

+1

The Virgin birth (Jesus born of Mary)

%

60

22

18

58

+2

Darwin’s theory of evolution

%

42

31

26

N/A

N/A

Ghosts

%

41

35

24

40

+1

Creationism

%

39

27

34

N/A

N/A

UFOs

%

35

36

29

34

+1

Witches

%

31

51

19

28

+3

Astrology

%

29

46

25

25

+4

Reincarnation – that you were once another person

%

21

50

29

21

-

Poll: What is Behind Anti-Hillary Sentiment?



I'm a little surprised that "A man should be President" is ranked so highly (8%).

(via Gallup)

Rudy Giuliani's Use of Statistics

It looks like at least one major newspaper has caught on to Giuliani's use of statistics. From the New York Times:

In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.

Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was “the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994.” In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York “had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years.” When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that “under me, spending went down by 7 percent.”

All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record.

For instance, another major American city claims to have reduced crime every year since 1994: Chicago. New York averaged 1,514 murders a year during the three decades before Mr. Giuliani took office; it did not record more than 1,800 homicides until 1980. And Mr. Giuliani’s own memoir states that spending grew an average of 3.7 percent for most of his tenure; an aide said Mr. Giuliani had meant to say that he had proposed a 7 percent reduction in per capita spending during his time as mayor.

In addition to all this, Giuliani has misled his audiences about taxes, welfare, earmarks, and healthcare. It's about time people start reporting this for what it is, rather than simply saying that his figures are "disputed."

This Week's Links

News:


Opinion:

Blogs:
Resources:
Transcripts:

PBS: Spying on the Home Front

29 November 2007



Spying on the Home Front
EFF Wins Fast-Track Release of Telecom Lobbying Records
Glenn Greenwald: Court Orders Administration to Disclose Telecom Lobbying Ties - What About Senators?

Gays In The Military



UPDATE: It looks like CNN failed to disclose something here:

The retired general who asked about gays and lesbians serving in the military at the CNN/YouTube Republican debate on Wednesday is a co-chair of Hillary Clinton's National Military Veterans group.
UPDATE II: Oh.

700 Club: I-35 Can Stop Homosexuality

Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton - Part IV

28 November 2007


From 1994:

I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for.
The polls of late have consistently showed Hillary Clinton leading all of the Republican candidates in head-to-head match-ups. Here are all the poll results from Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, Newsweek, FOX, CNN, etc. Nonetheless, Zogby recently conducted an online poll with dubious methodology that gave the opposite result of all the legitimate polls (including this Gallup poll conducted the same day).

It's an online poll. It's unreliable. It's a clear outlier. Got it?

Now, let's see how Chris Matthews covers this issue:
MATTHEWS (11/27/07): Time for the Hardball “Big Number,” that tells a big story. Tonight, our “Big Number” is the number five. That’s the number of Republican presidential candidates that Hillary Clinton trails in the November match-ups, according to a new Zogby poll—Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain, and, believe it or not, Mike Huckabee. That’s five, count them, five Republicans all now beating, yes, Hillary Clinton in the match-up for next November. It’s tonight’s “Big Number.”
This guy really wants to see Hillary Clinton lose.

Part I: "Chinese" Clapping
Part II: "I hate her"
Part III: "Women with needs"

UPDATE:

FOX News Alert: "Clinton Loses to All Top GOP Candidates in Direct Match-Up"


I wonder if these people realize how ridiculous they are.

Rudy Giuliani's New Television Ad

27 November 2007

Giuliani has a new ad. It's more of the same. From FactCheck.org:


Recycled Exaggerations

The ad repeats some other exaggerations we've criticized before.
An Old Tune on Taxes: The ad says of Giuliani: "He cut taxes 9 billion." But to arrive at the $9 billion figure Giuliani takes credit for the passage of 23 tax cuts. We found, however, that eight of those were state tax cuts approved in Albany and a ninth was a tax reduction Giuliani vociferously opposed before agreeing to side with the city council on the matter. Taking away those tax cuts, Giuliani can justifiably claim credit for lowering taxes by $5.4 billion, or $8 billion if he's allowed credit for the big cut he lobbied against.

Welfare Hype?
Giuliani says in the ad that he reduced the number of people on welfare in the city by "60 percent." Not quite. As we said previously, the number of people receiving welfare benefits in New York declined from 1.112 million to 462,000 during Giuliani's term, according to the city's Independent Budget Office. That's a decline of 58.5 percent, not 60 percent. Furthermore, welfare rolls across the nation dropped by 62.2 percent during the same time period.

I wonder if people will start calling him out on this, or if they'll continue to let him get away with his exaggerations.

Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton - Part III


From 1994:

I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for.

Today:
Matthews: Let's go back to women with needs. Women with needs are Hillary's great strength. Women who don't have a college degree, women who don't have a lot of things going for them. May not have a husband, may have kids, have all kinds of needs with day care, education, minimum wage. Will Oprah help with them to move to Barack Obama?

Julie Mason Houston Chronicle: Well, they're looking more for issues than they are for a celebrity endorsement. I don't think it's a celebrity endorsement from Oprah or from Bill Clinton, not that he's a celebrity, but you know what I'm saying. I don't think they move votes. I think they bring attention, I think they bring TV cameras, but those particular women are more concerned with health care and other issues than they are with what Oprah says ...

Matthews : (angry, nasty) OK let's get straight. Don't ever say Bill Clinton doesn't bring votes. If it weren't for Bill there wouldn't be a Hill. The idea that he doesn't give her star quality is INSANE

Julie Mason: (startled) I'm not saying he ...

Matthews: He IS her star quality.

Julie Mason: I'm not saying, he doesn't bring votes but if you were undecided...

Matthews:(abrupt) Ok. ... Thank you Matt.

Julie Mason:... I don't think Hillary..er Bill Clinton ...

Matthews: I know I caught you off guard there.

Julie mason: ...would bring you in.

Matthews: I was too tough on you there, but I know I'm right. Anyway, Matt ... just like Hillary I know I'm going to win.

Part I: "Chinese" Clapping
Part II: "I hate her"

Rush Holt on Joe Klein

Congressman (and physicist) Rush Holt (D-NJ) weighs in on Joe Klein's factually challenged Time article:

I was pleased to see Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein acknowledge that he "may have made a mistake" in his column attacking the House Majority ("The Tone Deaf Democrats") and misrepresenting the RESTORE Act. Unfortunately, Mr. Klein still professes confusion toward the bill's contents and continues to question whether the House should have passed it in the first place.

As one of the bill's authors, I want to set the record straight about what's in the RESTORE Act, why it's needed to safeguard Americans from unwarranted surveillance, and ultimately, why it will lead to better intelligence gathering.

In his original column, Mr. Klein incorrectly wrote, "Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that - Limbaugh is salivating - would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only." It contains no such provision.

(Also, as someone closely involved in trying to produce a good bill, I cannot figure out what bipartisan House Intelligence Committee effort Speaker Pelosi "quashed" that Mr. Klein could possibly be talking about. Several Republicans proposed something close to last August's Protect America Act, but that never got anywhere.)
I'd certainly like to see more of this. When a careless journalist (who says he has "neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right") misrepresents a Congressional bill and then calls its proponents "well beyond stupid" based on his ignorant misrepresentation, you've got to call him out on it. Loudly.

Mitt Romney on Minority Religious Affiliations

26 November 2007


From the Christian Science Monitor:

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
Gee, Mitt. I'm afraid that since Mormons only account for ~1-2% of the United States population, we won't be able to elect you as President, either. But don't worry, you could still maybe be comptroller or something. Because we're not biased against Mormons or anything like that.

Glenn Greenwald on Joe Klein... Yet Again

Joe Klein has written a fifth piece about the pending FISA legislation. Glenn Greenwald brings us up to speed here:

In the last five days alone, Klein has now written five separate times about his FISA debacle, and is further away than ever from having any idea what he's even talking about -- first was the column itself; second was the Swampland post the same day in which he emphatically defended the accuracy of what he wrote in response to my post; third was the post yesterday in which Klein said he "may have made a mistake in [his] column this week about the FISA legislation" -- the understatement of the year; fourth was an Update he added to that post this morning claiming that he did speak to a Democrat but "may have misinterpreted a Democratic source's point" and "if [he] did, a correction will appear in the print magazine next week"; and now, his fifth effort, worse than the others, in which he still professes confusion after "spen[ding] the past few days nosing around in the ongoing dispute about what the House FISA Reform bill," and he then unleashes this: "I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right."

I now know who Klein's editor for this piece was and I will have much more to say about all of this tomorrow. In comments to Klein's post today, the lawyer (and blogger) Anonymous Liberal quickly debunked the new, insultingly false claims from Klein about the alleged "dispute" over the meaning of the House bill. And the normally mild-mannered Ryan Singel of Wired today wrote his second post excoriating Klein's completely ignorant claims about FISA.

Thus, for now, I just want to ask that everyone ponder the extreme lack of professionalism and corruption required for someone like Klein to write the article that he did accusing Democrats of wanting to give Terrorists the same rights as Americans (therefore showing they can't be trusted on national security), and then -- once he is exposed for having spewed outright falsehoods -- announcing that he really isn't interested in bothering to find out if anything he wrote was accurate.

As my post earlier today here demonstrates, that is hardly unusual behavior for Time. But that doesn't make it any less flabbergasting, or repugnant. Doesn't it go without saying: if Klein doesn't have the time or background to understand what he's writing about, then he ought not to write about it? Doesn't anyone at Time agree with that?

I'm curious as to what Time magazine will actually do about this. My guess is that they'll do absolutely nothing.

I'm not a fan of the legislation myself, but people really need to either report on it accurately or refrain from mouthing off. Especially if they're ultimately arguing that something they don't understand enough to comment on is "well beyond stupid."

UPDATE: Joe Klein has now amended his fifth post, in an attempt to downplay his ignorance. Once again, Greenwald replies appropriately:
Klein has now returned to amend tonight's post by adding this phrase after his sentence about how he has neither "neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right": "(ADD: about this minor detail of a bill that will never find its way out of the Congress)". This "minor detail" that he now wants to dismiss as irrelevant was the entire basis for his smear of House Democrats... he has now claimed, in sequence, that his false assertions were: (a) true, (b) disputable, (c) too complex and time-consuming to figure out, and (d) just a minor, irrelevant detail. Is this conduct not completely humiliating to Time?
Also, I really like this comment about Klein's choice of title ("FISA: More Than You Wanted To Know"):

Allow me to point out the condescending idiocy of the title of this post: this is not "more" than I want to know about FISA.

By your own admission, you have reached no conclusion about what the bill even says, and you don't have the "time" to figure out what it means. All you have told us about FISA is that you are utterly clueless about FISA, which I'm afraid everybody already knew.

As a politically aware, semi-literate American, I certainly want to know a whole lot more about FISA that this pathetic tripe.

Actually, the comments to this post are all pretty good. I highly recommend skimming through them.

Rudy Giuliani Lies About Earmarks



According to Rudy Giuliani, "Well, the Democrats have been in power now for eight months. Not only have they not done away with earmarks, they’ve increased them."

Not true. Actually, this is demonstrably false. Take a look:


I'm really dismayed that this guy can repeatedly use phony statistics on health care , blatantly misrepresent Hillary Clinton's positions, and mislead an audience on earmarks, and the media still refuses to tag this guy as a liar. Or at the very least, a guy who has no idea what he's talking about. The media was absolutely apoplectic over way less than this in the 2000 election cycle.

Climate and Energy Debate



Full Transcript

Rupert Murdoch on Pat Robertson

25 November 2007


Back in 1988, when Pat Robertson was running for President, Rupert Murdoch had this to say about the crazy man:

"He's right on all the issues"
Seriously.

Let's take a look back at some of Robertson's stances on the issues.
  • If anybody understood what Hindus really believe, there would be no doubt that they have no business administering government policies in a country that favors freedom and equality."
  • "[Homosexuals] want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers."
    -The 700 Club 1/18/1995
  • "I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."
  • "Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."
    -Interview with Molly Ivins
  • "I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear. The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."
    -Recounting how God talked to him about an upcoming disaster
  • "Presbyterians are the spirit of the Antichrist."
    -The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, p. 239
  • "When lawlessness is abroad in the land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals – the two things seem to go together."
He also said that he totally concurred when Falwell blamed the 9/11 attacks on homosexuals, etc.

Ben Stein's Expelled - Part VI



Ben Stein has a new trailer for his new pro-creationism movie. It doesn't take long for Stein to set up the issue as a stark choice between "Everything on earth was created by a loving god" versus "Some think we're nothing but mud animated by lightning." The way he sets up the question, and makes a gross, oversimplified caricature of evolutionary theory immediately made me think of this South Park clip:


But wait. It gets stupider. Stein immediately resorts to Nazi comparisons. As a video of Hitler takes over the screen, Stein narrates: "This isn't Nazi Germany," and proceeds to decry the "persecution" of creationists. Later in the trailer, Stein says that "Darwinism" is "dangerous," while simultaneously showing clips of Nazi death camps. Basically, Ben Stein is nothing but a rhetorical bomb-thrower.

Just to remind everyone, when Larry Craig (R-ID) was arrested for soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom (where there had been previously reported incidents of lewd behavior), Stein was the first to compare the arresting officer to a Nazi. According to Ben Stein: "Gestapo, Gestapo, Gestapo!" (yes, that is a direct quote).

Stein quickly gets into the Sternberg affair. As I've written before, Sternberg circumvented the normal editorial process to publish a substandard pro-ID paper in a scientific journal. He immediately lied about his access being revoked, and the harshest penalty he received was having his fellow scientists complain about his lack of integrity behind his back. This is a far cry from Nazi-style persecution. But according to Ben "persecution complex" Stein, Sternberg "found himself the object of a massive campaign that smeared his reputation and came close to destroying his career." According to Sternberg, he was being punished merely for seeking "freedom."

Stein goes on to say that publishing this paper would not have been a problem in the era of Galileo. That's really a funny claim to make, since arguing anything other than the contents of the paper would probably get you a place in front of the Spanish Inquisition. Hell, they threatened Galileo with torture and death just for advocating heliocentrism in a roundabout way. But this claim is doubly dubious, since we didn't have the genetics, paleontology, biology and geology that has been confirming evolutionary theory over and over again for the past 200 years.

According to Stein, Sternberg was just being "punished" for going "against the "status quo." It's painfully obvious that Stein is going to milk this "rebel intellectual" image for all it's worth. According to Stein, the media, the courts, and the educational system are all out to get him. I think that this quote sums up the movie best: "It's going to appeal strongly to the religious, the paranoid, the conspiracy theorists, and the ignorant."

This is really the epitome of propaganda.

Part I: Ben Stein misrepresents Guillermo Gonzalez's denial of tenure
Part II: Ben Stein misleads his interviewees
Part III: Ben Stein misrepresents the Sternberg affair
Part IV: Ben Stein compares evolutionary theory to Naziism
Part V: Ben Stein appears on the O'Reilly Factor to compare creationism to relativity theory

UPDATE: It looks like Ben Stein sees a psychiatrist to deal with his fear of losing:

Although he wins more than three-fourths of the $5,000 trivia contests on the Emmy Award-winning game show [Win Ben Stein's Money], Stein is tortured by his losses. That mix of shock, disbelief and self-hatred isn't rehearsed; he says he sees a $250-an-hour psychiatrist to deal with his fear of losing. Stein's wallet is stuffed with affirming notes from the psychiatrist that say things like "This game does not measure your real intelligence, which no one would ever question" and "You are a star, and they can't take that away from you."
I guess this might go towards explaining why Stein frequently rolls out the Nazi comparisons, and thinks that everyone who says he's wrong is trying to persecute him and stifle his free speech.

Glenn Greenwald on Joe Klein... Again

Joe Klein issued a semi-apology ("I may have made a mistake in my column... Democrats say that I was wrong") for his sloppy ("Clearly, I didn’t do sufficient vetting of the facts") Time article on a pending FISA bill.

Glenn Greenwald responds. Again.

Now, let's wait and see if Klein issues a correction in the print issue of Time (rather than just this online blog "correction").

UPDATE: This Joe Klein quote really sums up his awful approach to "journalism":

People like me who favor this [NSA wiretapping] program don’t yet know enough about it yet. Those opposed to it know even less — and certainly less than I do.

The Heritage Foundation Touts John Coleman and Talk Radio

24 November 2007

The conservative Heritage Foundation recently wrote a column for the conservative FOX News praising conservative talk-radio programs such as Rush Limbaugh's. Among the lauded accomplishments of talk radio was their coverage of issues such as this:

"Television meteorologist John Coleman, who founded the Weather Channel, published a scathing article dismissing global warming as 'the greatest scam in history.' "
"Scathing"? Try "feeble." Read the article yourself, and you'll see that it's completely devoid of any arguments whatsoever. It's simply the feeble invective of an old man.
it is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM.

Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data back in the late 1990's to create an allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental wacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the "research" to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.
Notice how he misspelled "illusion," and failed to cite any support or substance for his accusation of fraud.

The rest of the article is just more of the same, with grammatical errors all over the place ("Now their ridicules manipulated science has been accepted"). But this was my favorite part:
I read dozens of the scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct
Dozens, I tell you! This article is really the epitome of cranky old man argumentation. Again, I suggest that everyone personally read it.

Also, as a point of clarification, being the founder of the Weather Channel does not make one an expert in climatology. Coleman earned his degree in 1957, then went to work at television stations doing the weather, working for programs such as Good Morning America. Ultimately, he turned to business, founded the Weather Channel, and subsequently retired. It's hardly a groundbreaking story when someone like this comes out of the woodwork and states his opinion (without any substantive arguments other than "I read dozens of articles - trust me!") on an issue like climate change. Especially when he does so in such a weak way. To carry this story, and to market it as a "scathing" criticism, is not highbrow journalism. It's shitty journalism.

UPDATE: Here is a summary of the invective:
greatest scam in history... appalled and highly offended by it... It is a SCAM... dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data... an allusion of rapid global warming... same environmental wacko... the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims... Environmental extremist... create this wild "scientific" scenario... to their radical agenda... very gullible... a nonevent, a manufactured crisis and a total scam... They respect government and disrespect business, particularly big business... manipulate the data to come up with the results they wanted... drive their environmental agendas... endorse it without question... environmental elitists berated them... . It is all a scam, the result of bad science... this global warming frenzy is based on bad science and is not valid... I am incensed... the outrageous scam

Janet Folger's Paranoid Fantasy

Janet Folger has written a new column for WorldNetDaily. It takes the form of a hypothetical letter (in the year 2010) she is writing to "The Resistance" after having been imprisoned by President Hillary Clinton simply for being a Christian. Seriously.

To the Resistance:

I'm writing this letter from prison, where I've been since the beginning of 2010. Since Hillary was elected in '08, Christian persecution in America has gotten even worse than we predicted.

This woman is nuts.

Bill Moyers: The Secret Government (1987)

This Week's Links

23 November 2007

News:


Opinion:

Blogs:

Resources:

Demand Debate

Former lobbyist Steven Milloy runs a website called demanddebate.com, which is designed to facilitate debates that "eliminate bias in environmental education" and counter environmental "alarmism," etc.

Anyway, an atmospheric scientist from Texas contacted Milloy to demand a debate. Milloy first offered to just send the guy a horrible video (which I've covered previously), then offered to find a debater, then just trailed off and was never heard from again.

Steven Milloy on the IPCC

21 November 2007


Former Exxon Mobil and Philip Morris lobbyist Steven Milloy has written a new column for FOX News about the IPCC's recently released synthesis report on climate change. Of course, he uses his usual diversionary tactics and misinformation to discuss the issue. For example, he says:

That key issue, of course, is whether or not manmade CO2 emissions drive global temperature. In its shockingly brief and superficial treatment of this crucial issue, the U.N. states, in relevant part, that, “Most of the observed increase in globally-averaged temperatures, since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over every continent (except Antarctica)."
"Shockingly brief and superficial"? Maybe it just seems that way because you're only reading the Summary For Policymakers. Notice the key word there: "Summary." In reality (someplace Milloy would rather his readers not look), there is an 11-chapter report on this very issue, titled "The Physical Science Basis." At this point, I'd like to remind everyone that Steven Milloy spent the better part of his career as a lobbyist, and in all likelihood knows exactly what he's doing here.

In the following paragraph, Milloy persists with this characterization, and adds on the usual misleading contrarian talking points:
This glib statement overlooks that fact that from 1940 to 1975 globally-averaged temperature declined (giving rise to a much-hyped scare about a looming ice age) while manmade CO2 emissions increased. Global temperature has fallen since 1998 despite ever-increasing CO2 emissions. So for 27 of the last 50 years, globally-averaged temperatures have declined while CO2 emissions have increased.
First of all, this "glib statement" does not overlook the mid-century cooling period. It's not as if Steven Milloy is the only person to notice a mid-century drop in temperature. The report itself addresses that very issue (as has been done over and over). Here is a graph (adapted from Meehl et al (2004) and Moberg (2003) ) that illustrates radiative forcing attribution:


Second, the "looming ice age" talking point has been repeatedly debunked (see here and here for just two examples). It is Milloy who is hyping the "ice age scare" here. There were some (few and far between) who thought such a result possible (due to the then-recent studies of sulfate aerosols, which have a significant cooling effect - insofar as they reflect incoming solar radiation), but the weight of the scientific community (such as the very important National Academy of Sciences) said that such a conclusion would be premature. Contrast that with the overwhelming weight of the scientific community, peer reviewed journals and scientific organizations who now say that greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for our recent warming trend.

Temperatures have fallen since 1998? Please. This is cherry-picking at its worst. 1998 was particularly warm due to an El Nino event that year. If you pick 1997 or 1999 as your starting year, you'll see a steady temperature increase. In fact, graphs speak louder than words. Look at this and then determine for yourself whether or not temperatures are dropping:


Milloy continues:
If there’s a cause-and-effect relationship between CO2 and temperature in the last 50 years at all, it seems to be slightly in the opposite direction from what the U.N. claims.
Take another look at the graph I just posted. It only "seems" to be an inverse relationship if you accept Milloy's (again, a former lobbyist) slick characterization. On the other hand, if you use your eyes and your brain to look at the relationship directly, you will see that Milloy is simply wrong.

It goes on:
And if we are experiencing manmade global warming, someone should tell Antarctica to get with the program.
"Global" warming means that the globe's average temperature will increase. It doesn't mean that summer will never give way to winter again. It doesn't mean that nighttime will be warmer than daytime, and it doesn't mean that you will never experience local cooling. It means that the average annual global temperature will go up. In sum, this line of argument is just petty sniping with no substance.

Milloy trudges forward:
The U.N. also says that, "Atmospheric concentrations of CO2… exceed by far the natural range over the 650,000 years." Readers, apparently, are supposed to let their imaginations run away with them as to the implications of this statement. What the U.N. left out is that the relationship between CO2 and temperature over the last 650,000 years is precisely opposite of what it has led the public to believe with statements like the preceding one. Increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 actually lag global temperature increases anywhere from 800-2,000 years according to the Antarctic ice core record that covers the 650,000-year span of time.
Let their imaginations run wild? First of all, that is a 100% accurate description. Here is a graph of the past 400,000 years of atmospheric CO2 concentration (adapted from the IPCC):


Second, the lag is true but irrelevant. Although temperatures led CO2 increases in the past (see the Milankovich cycles), there was an important feedback relationship between the two. Rather than letting their imaginations run wild, people can actually read the report itself, which describes the relationship. In sum, each one causes the other. That's why it's so significant that the two match each other so closely:


Another favored tactic of Milloy is to cherry-pick his studies:
A new temperature reconstruction for the past 2,000 years created by Craig Loehle of the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement indicates that, 1,000 years ago, globally averaged temperature was about 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the current temperature. Since that climatic "heat wave" obviously wasn’t caused by coal-fired power plants and SUVs, the current temperature is quite within natural variability, further deflating the UN’s rash conclusion about the warming of the past 50 years.
Rather than picking one of the many reputable peer-reviewed temperature reconstructions available (there are plenty), Milloy relies on a study from Energy & Environment. Energy & Environment is a poorly regarded social science journal. It is not carried in the ISI listing of peer-reviewed journals, and it has been roundly criticized for publishing substandard papers in the past. Additionally, it's run by global warming contrarians for the sole purpose of giving other contrarians something resembling a scientific platform. Basically, it's the equivalent to an unaccredited or online college.

This is what you see when you look at real peer-reviewed scientific journals:


Way to pick and choose, Milloy. All of the reputable studies say the exact opposite of what you argue in your FOX News column.

The madness doesn't end there:
There's also the matter of the quality of the temperature records relied on by the U.N.
Even though Milloy sets this up as a criticism of the U.N.'s favored temperatures, he goes on to criticize the way NASA reads temperatures. This kinda ignores the fact that the most of the peer-reviewed journals rely on the NOAA's temperature record, not NASA's.

Oh yeah, and there is lots of hyperbole and invective, too:
drink the U.N. Kool-Aid... knuckle under to global government-directed energy rationing and economic planning... the U.N.’s frantic efforts to distract us with a multitude of dire predictions of climatic Armageddon... shockingly brief and superficial treatment... glib statement... let their imaginations run away with them... that climatic "heat wave" obviously wasn’t caused by coal-fired power plants and SUVs... deflating the UN’s rash conclusion... raised serious questions about the validity of official temperature records... the U.N. claims to have divined a global warming trend... NASA alarmist James Hansen... So we can’t possibly have all that much confidence in what the U.N. claims to be happening global temperature-wise. Don’t be distracted by the alarmist arm-waving and sideshows... There's no evidence that man-made CO2 emissions have created any environmental problem and certainly no scientific justification for handing the keys of the American economy over to the U.N.

UPDATE: Just for good measure, I'd like to point out that Steven Milloy has, in the past, misrepresented a NASA data correction, misquoted a U.K. judge, and lied about an opinion poll (as predicted prior to its publication).

Conservapedia: A Place For People Obsessed With Homosexuality


(via CrookedTimber)

Glenn Greenwald on Joe Klein


Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up at Salon about a particularly horrible Joe Klein editorial in Time.

This is the same Joe Klein who misdescribed the last FISA bill.

(While we're at it, I highly recommend Greenwald's article on AP photographer Balal Hussein)

UPDATE: Ryan Singel at Wired has another article up about this awful Joe Klein editorial. It's very refreshing to see people actually calling Klein out on this.

Tom Delay on Paul Krugman

20 November 2007


Paul Krugman is a Princeton economist and frequent New York Times contributor. Tom Delay (R-TX) is a former exterminator who was expelled from college for drinking and vandalism (he later resigned from Congress amidst charges of ethics violations). This is what Tom Delay recently had to say about Paul Krugman:

“I’d like to bitch-slap him.”

Seriously. I recommend that everyone start reading Krugman's column and blog.

Chris Matthews on Al Gore - Part II


Chris Matthews on Al Gore in 2001 and before:

He doesn’t look like one of us. He doesn’t seem very American, even.
He's taking up something rather unconventional, the three-button male suit jacket. I always—my joke is, “I'm Albert, I'll—I'll be your waiter tonight.” I mean, I don't know anybody who buttons all three buttons, even if they have them. What could that possibly be saying to women voters, three buttons? ... Is there some hidden Freudian deal here or what? I don't know, I mean, Navy guys used to have buttons on their pants. I don't know what it means.

Chris Matthews on Al Gore today (via Digby):
Michael, Michael, there's a big difference between what happened to Al Gore and John Kerry. John Kerry got hit unfairly by the Swift Boats attacking his service to his country. They conflated his opposition to the war when he came back which we can all argue about, and his service to his country which is not really arguable. They trashed him.

But in terms of Al Gore, he's the one who said he created the internet, he's the one who put out the word that he's the subject or the role model for Love Story, that he pointed the country's attention to Love Canal. He stuck himself into that story.

And when Marty Peretz's daughter wrote that story in Vanity Fair a couple of months ago, I'm sorry, she didn't make the case. Gore got himself in those problem areas by vanity and showing off an trying to make himself cool. But John Kerry got unfair treatment. I think it's a big difference guys.

Crowley: that may be so, but it's not how many Democrats feel.

CM: Well, why would expect a partisan to think anything more than partisan? That's what partisans think? Of course they think they were rooked. Everyone who loses an election thinks they were rooked and they blame it on the umpire.

Crowley: That's the audience they're speaking to.

CM: Yeah, well how about getting into the land of truth and understanding?

Wow. Let's take a look at those three examples Matthews just used right there.
  1. "he's the one who said he created the Internet": Wow, this meme will never die as long as we have "journalists" like Chris Matthews. Al Gore did not claim that he personally created the Internet. He was talking about his initiatives in the Senate that helped enable the growth of the Internet: "when few people outside academia or the computer/defense industries had heard of the Internet, and he sponsored the 1988 National High-Performance Computer Act (which established a national computing plan and helped link universities and libraries via a shared network) and cosponsored the Information Infrastructure and Technology Act of 1992 (which opened the Internet to commercial traffic)." Although his phrasing was awkward at the time, anyone with a brain could tell what he was actually saying.
  2. "he's the one who put out the word that he's the subject or the role model for Love Story": This meme was dead-wrong 10 years ago, and it's dead-wrong today. Here's what happened. On a 1997 plane ride, Al Gore was in the press section, "swapping opinions about movies and telling stories about old chums" to the reporters. Gore's "old chums" included Eric Segal (the author of Love Story) and actor Tommy Lee Jones. Gore told one of these reporters that Segal had told some Tennessee reporters that the characters in Love Story were based on him and his wife. It turns out that the Tennesse paper itself did say that, but it was later retracted as a misquote. What Segal actually told the reporter (but which got garbled by the reporter) was that one of the characters in Love Story was based upon both Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones. All Al Gore did was accurately remember what was reported in the Nashville Tennessean. "Journalists" like Chris Matthews, however, have endless mangled this and beaten it into some twisted narrative of Al-Gore-the-liar.
  3. "that he pointed the country's attention to Love Canal": Once again, Chris Matthews is wrong. This entire story stemmed from a misquote of Al Gore, which was later corrected. What Al Gore said was that he had spoken to a girl from Toone, Tennessee in the 1970s about a problem with toxic waste in Toone. Afterwards, he called for a congressional hearing and investigations, looking "for other sites like that." He then became aware of the situation in Love Canal. Gore then said that Toone "was the one that started it all." The Washington Post misquoted him as saying "I was the one who started it all," when the transcript shows he said "that was the one that started it all" (clearly referring to Toone, which prompted the congressional investigation and hearings). The Washington Post later corrected this misquote, but not before the meme of Al-Gore-the-liar had spread like wildfire.

So there you have it. Chris Matthews is a shitty journalist. But what really got me was how he got all puffed up at the end, as if people who report on the facts are "partisans," while he rules "the land of truth and understanding."

This is the kind of horseshit journalism we can all look forward to in 2008 unless people start calling Matthews out.

BONUS: More "truth and understanding" from Chris Matthews


UPDATE: Michael Crowley, who weakly agreed with Chris Matthews in the above exchange, was apparently just as bad as Matthews (eh, maybe not that bad) in the 2000 election.

UPDATE II: Media Matters just put out a story about this awful Chris Matthews segment, and provides some examples of how Chris Matthews pushed these awful memes back in 1999 and 2000 (and beyond, up to this very day).

Brian Williams: "Marriage Is Under Attack"



What? By whom? What do you mean, Brian, and why on earth did you slip that in there?

(Also, I recommend that everyone read this)