TCM just had The Manchurian Candidate on the other night. No, not the Bush bashing, anti-capitalist version. The real one that was made in 1962 and featured really good actors like Laurence Harvey, the lovely Janet Leigh, Frank Sinatra, Angela Landsbury and a particularly good performance by character actor John McGiver as Senator Jordan.
No sense in holding back anything. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you. It is truly one of the finest cold war movies made and one of the best political thrillers of all time. The plot revolves around Korean War vet Raymond Shaw who won a Medal of Honor for saving his company during the war. It turns out, however, that all is not as it appears to be. Shaw and his company were actually captured by the Commies and, through a combination of drugs and psycho-therapy, turned Raymond (played in brilliant understated fashion by Harvey) into the “perfect assassin” - defined as a “mechanism” programmed to kill and not remember anything before or afterwards.
Twists abound as Raymond’s mother (Landsbury was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal) and step father (James Gregory) - portraying virulent, McCarthy-like anti-Communists - turn out to be Soviet agents who want to use Raymond to kill the party nominee at the convention and sweep the step father into power. Raymond’’s love-hate relationship with his mother includes incest (only hinted at in the film). The “trigger” that hypnotizes Raymond and gets him into his assassin mode is the phrase, “Why not pass the time by playing a little Solitaire?” When a red queen comes up, he gets his orders and goes out to kill.
The scene where we first learn of Raymond’s mother’s true nature as a Communist agent is perhaps one of the greatest screen surprises in history. As she turns to her son and utters the trigger phrase, the entire plot is revealed. Up until that time, the audience was led to believe that she was a strong anti-Communist crusader. There was no inkling whatsoever that she was anything except what she appeared to be. Absolutely unforgettable.
It may have been Ike himself who said that the Communists couldn’t have done any better at destroying the country than creating Joe McCarthy and letting him loose upon America.
The reason for this rather lengthy digression is that if you haven’t heard, today is “Blog Action Day” on global warming. It is a day when lots and lots of bloggers who don’t know any better - and even admit that fact - are posting about the dangers of “Climate Change” or whatever the global warming religionists are calling their quest to radically alter the world’s economy these days.
These kinds of mass activities trigger those who have been brainwashed - either in school or through popular media - into believing that not only is climate change a huge problem that we must solve NOW, but that even questioning some of the conclusions drawn by some scientists is akin to heresy.
I doubt whether there will be a lot of bloggers who actually question the scientific basis for climate change. In truth, I am not necessarily doing that myself. What I question are the motivations of those who are relentlessly pushing the global warming agenda, and their solutions which may or may not bring down CO2 levels, but will almost certainly enrich many advocates and see power - real power to control our lives - devolve into the hands of international bureaucrats.
So, like poor Raymond Shaw, these bloggers are unconsciously doing the bidding of people who do not have their interests at heart. And if we allow them success in their efforts, it would be catastrophic to the idea of the free market and free people.
Readers of this site know that I have taken an agnostic approach to global warming, granting that it may, in fact be happening but that the idea that the science has been so overwhelmingly proven that no counter argument is possible is a crock of baseless nonsense.
I think that reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses is probably not a bad idea at all but the draconian levels to which the UN and the Obama administration wish to reduce them and the speed that reduction will be mandated would destroy western economies. If things are as bad as the global warming supporters are saying, it is probably too late to do anything anyway - unless we simply called a halt to all economic activity that contributes to excess carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.
Since the strongest advocates of this policy would benefit financially (or aggrandize enormous power unto themselves), I can’t help but be concerned that the driving force behind Climate Change treaties and laws is not related to saving the planet but rather the economic and personal benefits that would accrue to the advocates, as well as protecting the reputations of scientists who have invested enormous personal capital into global warming living up to expectations.
Climate models have largely been debunked by meteorologists who point out that there are just too many variables to feed into the computer -even supercomputers - to come up with anything approaching accuracy.
Models predicting CO2 levels in the atmosphere are a little different. Those have also proved to be wildly inaccurate, but that is probably a result of our not modeling correctly due to our own ignorance. The more failures in prediction in this case, the more we learn. As Edison said about the lightbulb, he didn’t have a thousand failures, he discovered a thousand ways how not to make a lighbulb. I am much more hopeful that they can get CO2 models much better at predicting future levels than I am of scientists modeling the weather 100 years from now.
That said, the global warming literature that I’ve read (and been able to understand) is very dependent on predicting how that excess carbon dioxide will act once its in the upper atmosphere. Far from being settled, this is an open question with still much debate in the scientific community.
Do we look at the example of the planet Venus? What we’ve discovered there is quite chilling. It seems that a sort of feedback loop can get started and once CO2 levels reach a certain point, the atmospheric processes that block sunlight and trap heat reinforces itself and it become irreversible. No one knows when that point will be reached on planet Earth. Some believe we are very close now. Others think we have a few centuries as long as we begin now to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The facts are clear; there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than there was a hundred years ago - quite a bit more. A likely villain is us. But the proof that it is anthropomorphic is not iron clad - not by a long shot. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start reducing our CO2 output. But it does mean that attacking capitalist economies in order to get them to reduce CO2 emissions to 1992 levels is absurd.
What I want is science and sanity in public policy - not quasi-religious pronouncements about the “end” of debate or the belief that every hot day signals the end of mankind.
And I would remind my skeptical friends that 11 years of cooling temperatures, or a thickening of Arctic ice does not “debunk” the entire theory. That’s as nonsensical as anything uttered by Al Gore, who would point to a warm spell during the 1990’s as proof that global warming is “real.”
Climate change is upon us. It has been changing for the last 20,000 years and will continue to change forever. That is the nature of our earth and denying it is silly. Over the last 20,000 years - the end of the last ice age - temps have warmed relatively quickly over a century or even a few decades. And then we have had periods for a thousand years or more where the earth cools. Such an interstitial may have killed off Neanderthals in Europe and led to the rise of modern humans.
The point is simple; we don’t know enough to be proposing what the UN is going to talk seriously about in Copenhagen in December. That is, an extraordinary intervention in the private economies of nation states in the name of “climate change:”
A United Nations document on “climate change” that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.
Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations “information note” on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an “effective framework” for dealing with global warming.
Would a treaty that contained provisions that challenged American sovereignty like that get through the Senate? Who knows. I wouldn’t put anything past President Obama or that crew in the Senate when it came to defending American interests in the international arena relating to either climate change or nuclear weapons. One would hope that reason would rule the day and we won’t have to worry about it.