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11/22/2010
POLITICIZED SCIENCE VS. ANTI-SCIENCE REPUBLICANS

My latest is up at Pajamas Media, and it’s about global warming and the battle between neanderthal Republicans and the Marxian dolts who want to politicize the science of global warming to achieve massive wealth redistribution.

What’s a rationalist to do?

The fact is, Republicans are terrified of their base, which seems to have abandoned reason and embraced a fanatical anti-scientific viewpoint on climate change. Rather than attempt to carefully weigh and balance arguments, there is a rush to posit conspiracy theories about the motives of climate change advocates. Unfortunately, this attitude has been fed by statements like the one from Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, that climate treaties are beards for wealth redistribution.

This is hardly a secret, nor is it anything new or conspiratorial. The Kyoto accord made wealth transfers to developing countries the centerpiece of the treaty. And the IPCC’s motives in this regard dovetail nicely with those of the developing world and their NGO advocates who stand to receive a nice sized slice of any developmental funds that result from this massive redistribution of wealth.

But just because the motives of many climate change advocates are questionable, even evil, does that mean the entire global warming proposition is a fraud? There are still those hundreds of scientists and their dogged, 30 years of research and experimentation into the question of whether man-made industrial activity is having an effect on climate. They and their findings are not going away no matter how many “conspiracies” are uncovered or how many UN flacks reveal the true nature of their efforts.

You can’t fault the scientists if their research and conclusions have been hijacked by politicians greedy for loot and power, and far left activists who wish industrialized society and its capitalistic excesses would simply disappear. The problem won’t go away because many conservatives seek to hide in their cocoons and echo chambers, assuring themselves that global warming is a myth and nothing need be done about it.

This is a symptom of movement conservatism’s larger problem of rejecting authority and expertise as the product of elitist thinking. Science is especially vulnerable to their skepticism because it is so easily misunderstood. If it is beyond the ken of “ordinary” people to understand, then it is suspect. Any appeals to “authority” are dismissed automatically as an attempt to use “credentialism” to put one over on the people, or claim competency where none exists.

Right on cue, my loving fans - who never bother to read what I write - skewer me in the comments for rejecting their version of reality - i.e., no evidence, no warming, no nothin’. Is it any wonder that the scientific community has abandoned the Republican party? Nuance and subtlety escapes the notice of these ideologically obsessed freaks. If it ain’t black, or it ain’t white, it ain’t real.

In matters where lay people are not capable of properly weighing scientific argument, an appeal to authority is not “elitist,” it is necessary. In the case of the global warming, skepticism is warranted, not denial. How much are humans responsible for rising temps? Does it matter? A larger human imprint on climate buttresses the Marxist’s position; a smaller one, the skeptics. The evidence is mixed and at times, contradictory. All the more reason to slow down, as Bjorn Lomberg so wisely suggests.

Breaking the momentum of the alarmists will be a real chore. They have most large corporations on board their gravy train now and, coupled with the greedy eye that developing countries are casting toward the trillions of dollars to be transferred from industrial democracies to the kleptocrats in Africa and elsewhere, it will be very difficult to address the problem of global warming in any rational or realistic manner.

It certainly won’t be addressed as long as the anti-science conservatives and anti-capitalist, one worlders continue to use and abuse science to achieve their own political ends.

By: Rick Moran at 7:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

6/18/2010
ABC NAILS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO THE WALL

Watch this ABC News report and weep:

ABC calls this segment, “Who’s in Charge?” They may as well have named it “Bureaucrats behaving badly.” To summarize, the Coast Guard ordered 16 barges vacuuming up more than 1.5 million gallons of crude every day (each barge can suck up around 94,000 gallons a day) to shore because of monumental bureaucratic shortsightedness and incompetence.

But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.

The governor said he didn’t have the authority to overrule the Coast Guard’s decision, though he said he tried to reach the White House to raise his concerns.

“They promised us they were going to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said. But “every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer.”

No doubt administration apologists will point out that this is indeed, a part of the Coast Guard’s job under normal circumstances. And they would be right - except these are far from normal circumstances and there is absolutely no reason those barges shouldn’t have been able to continue their vital work while the Coast Guard sorted things out. There was no imminent danger of the barges capsizing. There was little hazard of fire. Instead, the Coast Guard ordered the barges to shore and more than 24 vital hours were lost with another day’s damage to the delicate salt marshes and other ecosystems that make up the Louisiana coastal environment.

The telling comment by Jindal - “every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer…” - is multiplied by reports that the EPA, the Coast Guard, and other federal agencies have veto power over anything state governments want to do to protect their coastlines from the spill.

There is a flow chart in the ABC segment of who’s supposed to be in charge of the spill cleanup. Anyone who has seen the organizational chart for health care reform would recognize how such idiotic, nonsensical, unnecessary layer upon layer of bureaucracy can impede efficiency and lead to chaos - something the New York Times remarked upon a few days ago and now ABC confirms.

Tell me this isn’t a government operation:

[Gov] Riley, R-Ala., asked the Coast Guard to find ocean boom tall enough to handle strong waves and protect his shoreline.

The Coast Guard went all the way to Bahrain to find it, but when it came time to deploy it?

“It was picked up and moved to Louisiana,” Riley said today.

The governor said the problem is there’s still no single person giving a “yes” or “no.” While the Gulf Coast governors have developed plans with the Coast Guard’s command center in the Gulf, things begin to shift when other agencies start weighing in, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s like this huge committee down there,” Riley said, “and every decision that we try to implement, any one person on that committee has absolute veto power.”

Who’s in charge? Obama says he is, so I suppose we can judge him by how this operation is progressing. Any fair minded, non partisan observer would look at everything that has transpired to date and have to conclude that not only has there been chaos, but given the enormity of what is happening, a narrow minded, incompetent, turf protecting, kingdom building, typical bureaucratic mess is spreading across the Gulf as fast as the oil is gushing out of the hole in the ocean floor. What is needed is outside the box thinking. What we’re getting is jealousy, small minded pettifogging, and the kind of lethargy in decision making that is making this disaster worse than it should be.

President Obama is fond of saying that government should do what people cannot do for themselves. In this case, that axiom can fairly be called into question.

By: Rick Moran at 7:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

6/16/2010
A CURIOUSLY DEPRESSING SPEECH FROM THE PRESIDENT

This article originally appears on The Moderate Voice.

I was doing my radio show during the president’s speech last night so I had to play catch-up this morning and read it online.

I’m not sure that’s such a bad idea anyway with these set-piece speeches. Speaking from the Oval Office is dramatic, but much less so than if given in front of a joint session of Congress, or some other milieu like Point du Hoc, or Oklahoma City where Reagan and Clinton delivered blockbuster addresses. When speaking to the American people in such an intimate way, as Obama did from the Executive Mansion, the words matter more than the delivery. And scanning the president’s remarks, I found them wanting in many places; specifically, his failure to impart the extreme gravity of the situation we are facing, as well as what John Hinderaker refers to a as a “petulant” blame game he is playing with BP.

It still appears to me that the president is trying desperately to get out from under the political damage that is threatening his effectiveness. He’s not going to do it by attempting to convince us that we have other, more pressing problems than the oil spill:

Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.

The catastrophic potential of this spill to destroy the economies of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and perhaps even Florida would seem to me to be the “top priority” domestically of this or any other administration. Why it is apparently not as far as the Obama White House is concerned speaks volumes about the president’s leadership in this crisis. I am not referring to plugging the hole itself, which is largely a technical problem beyond the ken of non-technical government employees and leaders. But the steps that should have been taken weeks ago to mitigate the worst effects of this spill that are just now being implemented smacks of, what the New York Times referred to as “chaotic” management:

From the beginning, the effort has been bedeviled by a lack of preparation, organization, urgency and clear lines of authority among federal, state and local officials, as well as BP. As a result, officials and experts say, the damage to the coastline and wildlife has been worse than it might have been if the response had been faster and orchestrated more effectively.

“The present system is not working,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said Thursday at a hearing in Washington devoted to assessing the spill and the response. Oil had just entered Florida waters, Senator Nelson said, adding that no one was notified at either the state or local level, a failure of communication that echoed Mr. Bonano’s story and countless others along the Gulf Coast.

“The information is not flowing,” Senator Nelson said. “The decisions are not timely. The resources are not produced. And as a result, you have a big mess, with no command and control.”

What did the president have to say about this analysis last night?

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming and other collection methods. Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We’ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we’re working with Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.

As the cleanup continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need. Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn’t working, we want to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.

But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done. That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.

Nobody expects the response to be perfect. But when the governor of Louisiana requested the construction of these barrier islands weeks ago, and when a million feet of boom lie unused in a warehouse in Maine (even after the boom was brought up to spec by changing the connectors), and when assistance was offered by the Dutch and the British within hours of the spill, only being accepted recently, one can note that the mistakes and confusion fall far short of an enterprise that is perfect, and begins to resemble incompetence.

Beyond the response to the disaster, the demonization of BP raises questions of blame shifting: Give the people a target and maybe they’ll be distracted from the mistakes and ineptitude. It’s easy to make BP a villain in all of this, but one wonders why the over-heated rhetoric about placing a “boot on the neck” of the oil giant while finding someone’s “ass to kick.” That, and the theatrics of sending Eric Holder down to the gulf to “investigate” whether criminal charges should be brought against BP (the idea he couldn’t have done this from DC is silly). Threats to deny shareholders a dividend (how are they responsible?) as well as the administration’s constant tearing down of the British company (that has damaged relations with Great Britain) are not helping anything, and only serve to highlight the White House’s desperation as the disaster drags down the president’s approval numbers.

Does the president think those numbers will improve if he compares the disaster to 9/11, as he did in an interview last weekend?

The first thing that needs to be said is this: The only thing the oil spill and 9/11 have in common is nothing.

Yes, 9/11 was very important and so is the spill. But many terrible things happen, are important — and are unalike. The Haiti earthquake of 2009 and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 were both important, but they had nothing whatever to do with each other. Nor did the tsunami of 2004 and the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

[...]

What the deployment of the 9/11 analogy suggests is that Obama would like to treat BP as though it were al Qaeda, at least rhetorically — a villain for him to confront on behalf of the wounded American people.

That may seem politically shrewd to Obama and his team, but it will have parlous consequences. The analogy muddies and obfuscates.

By comparing an unwanted disaster to a conscious act of war, Obama is adding an improper moral dimension to the effort to clean up the Gulf — a moral reckoning that will make it harder rather than easier to focus on the task of actually plugging the damn hole.

By likening the murder of 3,000 people and the efforts to take out the US government to a series of mistakes that added up to a catastrophe, Obama has defined evil down in a fashion that does immense violence to good sense, good taste and good leadership.

The fact that the president then went out and played golf for 4 hours pretty much gave the lie to his comparison to 9/11. This has been the pattern of the administration’s response since day one; solemnly declare how bad the crisis is and then have their actions fall short of the rhetoric.

What about the president using the disaster to push his ruinously expensive energy plan:

The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time, but over the last year and a half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry. As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient. Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that someday will lead to entire new industries.

According to leaked reports from the Spanish government, who have implemented a similar plan that Obama wants to try here, there will be two jobs lost for every job gained in the “green” sector of the economy. It may be worse here, given the size of our coal and gas industries. In the meantime, there is no renewable or “green” technology that will offer a breakthrough in industrial production of energy for decades. It isn’t even a question of cost, as much as it is practicality. Solar, wind, and other green power generating industries cannot possibly compete with oil and coal for efficiency in generating power. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow and no amount of government subsidies will change that fact of our existence.

Weaning ourselves from foreign sources of oil is fine. But we are the only nation on planet earth that deliberately refuses to drill for oil in places where it is not only easy to get, but where it is plentiful enough that it could have a sizable impact on our domestic reserves. Such stupidity leads to consequences, and until “green” technologies are developed that can compete with oil, coal, and gas in the free market, Obama can wish all he wants but it won’t generate one single erg of “green” energy.

Even those friendly to the president were disappointed in his speech last night. Anytime analysts write glowingly of how much “in charge” Obama seemed, you know they’re reaching. What else should a president be but in charge?

The president attempted to change the narrative of the story last night. He failed. The narrative now has a life of its own and will be determined in the future by the mounting environmental and economic damage done by the spill.

In this respect, it can only get worse for the president and his administration.

By: Rick Moran at 9:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

6/11/2010
WHY CAN’T THE WHITE HOUSE THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX ON THE OIL SPILL?

I am open to alternative explanations, but this story from Jake Tapper about Admiral Allen and the White House not knowing about the manufacturer in Maine who could manufacture 3 million feet of absorbent boom a month is a consequence of an almost total lack of private sector experience in Obama’s cabinet.

TAPPER: I talked to a guy who runs a company in Maine that offers boom, and he has – he says – the ability to make 90,000 feet of boom a day. High quality. BP came there 2 weeks ago, looked at it, they are doing another audit today. He is very frustrated, he says he has a lot of high quality boom to go and it is taking a long time for BP to get its act together. Don’t you need this boom right now?

ALLEN: Oh we need all the boom wherever we can get it. If you give me the information off camera I’ll be glad to follow up.

TAPPER: Florida emergency officials were upset a couple nights ago because oil was hitting Florida and parts of the ocean there were shut off and nobody had told emergency officials in Florida — what happened?

ALLEN: Well, I think we need to understand that we’ve got oil potentially spreading from South Central Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida. And what used to be very large quantities of oil that came to the surface have now been disaggregated sometimes in very small quantities. And not all of them are going to be surveilled, and there will be oil coming ashore. Our attempt is to skim as much of that offshore as possible, but I’m not going to tell anybody in this country there’s not going to be some oil come ashore from time to time.

Morrissey asks the right question; aren’t these guys supposed to know stuff like this? It was all over the internet a week ago but beyond that, if they’re short of boom - and they say that’s one of the problems - isn’t someone responsible for compiling a list of businesses that make the stuff? Shouldn’t they be calling every single one of them asking them for every foot of boom they can get?

Either this is the greatest environmental disaster in history or its not. If it is, it appears to me that the White House is missing the boat. I don’t believe it’s because they are necessarily “incompetent” whatever that means. With only 3 cabinet heads who have any private sector experience - the fewest in modern history - I believe it likely that the idea that the private sector could help them if only they could bring themselvesto think out side the box just never crossed their minds.

And I wouldn’t be the first to point out that Allen seems a bit deferential to BP. The point being, while I’m sure there is major disagreement among experts about the extent of the problem and what to do about it, do others get the same impression that I do - that what is really lacking in this operation is a decisiveness, a firm hand? I’m not talking about technical means to close the hole but the ways and means of mitigating the effect of the spill. This thing with the booms is exhibit A of what I’m talking about. If you were responsible for protecting the coast and was short of boom, wouldn’t the first thing you would do is hit the internet and google up companies that make the stuff?

Sure, I’m probably oversimplifying, and we can never know all that is going on behind the scenes. But this story is worrying on several different levels, including the lack of communication with state officials in Florida. I’ve been watching government for a long time and I can tell you that it just seems to me that too many things are falling through the cracks, or not getting done, or the team is behind the curve. This bespeaks a lack of decisiveness. When it happens in war, as it did during the Bush years, young men die. When it happens in a disaster of this proportion, the Gulf coast may never be the same in my lifetime.

By: Rick Moran at 12:46 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

5/24/2010
WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING WITH THE BP OIL GUSHER?

This article originally appears on The Moderate Voice

This may be a seminal moment in the history of the internet.

As government authorities and British Petroleum continue to describe the BP oil spill in limited terms. one blogger has had his eyes glued to the “Spillcam” which is giving real time images of the oil gushing from the uncapped hole in the ground and has caught what appears to be a massive increase in the amount of oil coming out of the sea floor.

It started yesterday morning:

I’ve been watching the live Spillcam, and discussing it with folks, here all day long. About 5pm last night, we all started taking note of gas bubbling out of the seabed floor. It started earlier than that, actually– see pic a few posts down. About 1am this morning, the eruptions began to increase in spew volume. At about 8am, CDT, as I watched, things started changing rapidly. Where the water around the two major gush points used to be very clear, it is now super turbid, and detritus is flying everywhere in a chaotic manner. seabed venting is obvious to see when ROV cameras pan around.

Yet-to-be-confirmed rumors are that the casing wall has finally worn through, about 300 feet below seabed, at an annulus (coupling), and the gas and oil are now finding a new way out to the seabed.

Not good news, as it will make the Top-Kill/Junk Shot nearly ineffectual… At the least, it means that more pressure and mud/cement is going to be required.

Sure enough, by early evening, things had gone from very bad, to very much worse:

UPDATE 5:45pm CDT: A brand new MAJOR eruption is happening. tune into the SpillCam at BP.com . It’s black, all you can see is a cable. It started with yet another GUSH plume/tornado.

Oh, dear– now, we can see that that is a LOT of oil– and a BLIZZARD of Hydrates..

Those hydrates are freezing when they hit the below freezing water (salt water freezes at about 28 degrees but water bubbling up from the gusher has less salt and freezes at a higher temp. Methane drops are also freezing.). It has severely hampered efforts to place any kind of dome or cap on the hole and now, that may be only a partial solution.

UPDATE 6:03pm CDT: The current eruption is way, way worse than the several that occured earlier. I think this might be a “Main Event” situation.

UPDATE 6:45pm CDT: An hour after the start of this most recent eruption, and it is still just a wall of oil, methane crystals, and gack.

WAY, WAAAY worse than the first event.

Apparently, the seabed is collapsing into a crater and oil and gas has begun leaking directly from the sea floor. At least that is one interpretation of the images captured by the blogger “Monkeyfister.” If so, this has complicated the job of shutting down this spill astronomically.

Not a word of this from authorities or BP has reached the mainstream media. The New Orleans Times-Picayune appears to be in the dark:

It remains unclear exactly how much oil has been pouring into the gulf since the spill began several days after the Deepwater Horizon rig, which BP leased from Transocean, exploded on April 20. According to official estimates, oil has been flowing from a leaking pipe a mile below the surface at a rate of about 5,000 barrels a day. However, some experts have suggested the oil could be gushing at up to five times that rate.

Landry said a panel of government and academic experts has been convened and should be able to provide a more firm estimate in the coming weeks.

On the one hand, we have evidence that the spill has gotten much worse over the last 24 hours. On the other hand, we have the government saying that a panel will convene and take a few weeks to arrive at a conclusion about how much oil is spewing from the leak into the Gulf of Mexico.

Where is the sense of urgency about this thing? Obviously, the Obama administration is downplaying the entire crisis in order to avoid any “gotchya” games by their political opponents. And with a compliant media going along with this, they will succeed in minimizing political damage from the spill - for a while.

Peter Daou writing in Huffpo:

Where is the outrage? Where are the millions marching in the streets, where is the round-the-clock roadblock coverage tracking every moment of the crisis, every effort to plug the leak, every desperate attempt to mitigate the damage?

Where is the White House? Where are Republicans? Where are Democrats? Where is the left? Where is the right? Where is the “fierce urgency of now?”

[...]

In the movies, pretend heroes like Bruce Willis and Will Smith save the planet while the whole world watches with breath and belief suspended. In real life, a global catastrophe is treated like a mere annoyance, mismanaged by a rapacious oil company, while drill-baby-drillers double down on their folly and the White House puts out defensive fact sheets about how they were on it from “day one.”

Is this really the best we can do?

America is capable of greatness — but our reaction to this unprecedented event is anything but great.

Our reaction - or lack thereof - is a direct result of partisans in both parties calling for “outrage” over something or other at regular intervals, so that the American people are now suffering from Outrage Fatigue Syndrome.

First, Mr. Daou apparently can’t grasp the fact that there is no crisis - at least as far as the Obama administration and the media is concerned. The lackadaisical response by government, and BP’s thrashing about to find a solution doesn’t fit the narrative of cool competence that the media has portrayed the administration. Cool and incompetent just doesn’t work. Ergo, despite the danger that the oil may be gushing 25,000 barrels into the Gulf of Mexico every day, thus threatening the multi-billion dollar fishing industry along the coast, the administration refuses to make a big deal out of the crisis.

Should they? Dauo thinks so:

Lawmakers can say that the law mandates BP take responsibility for clean-up and costs; federal officials can list all the things they’re doing to fix the problem; President Obama can launch as many fact-finding commissions as he sees fit. But we shouldn’t be impressed that they are doing what we elected them to do - it’s their job to deal with emergencies promptly and effectively. Far more is called for in this uniquely cataclysmic circumstance: a level of outrage, alarm, intensity and focus worthy of the size and scope of the spill.

We need, and must demand, boldness and resoluteness worthy of a planetary emergency - true leadership, rallying the nation and the world to action. Offense, not defense. We’re not getting anything close to that from Democratic leaders. And from Republicans, far less.

The classic Jo Dee Messina’s “My Give a Damn’s Busted” comes into play here. The American people have been whipsawed back and forth these past couple of years being asked to get angry at one party or the other to the point that it becomes quite easy to simply throw up your hands and retreat from the fray, preferring to concentrate on the upcoming last episode of Lost or 24, while sneaking a peak at the tabloids to see who Tiger Woods is banging these days.

The crisis may very well be every bit as bad as Daou is describing. But as long as politicians, corporate PR people, and a media fearful of attacking the president holds sway over the situation - minimizing, pointing fingers away from themselves, and just not finding the story “sexy enough” - the oil will continue to gush, the disaster will worsen, until all the skill at manipulating the media and the facts won’t hide what could turn out to be an economic and human catastrophe that would make Katrina look like a summer shower.

By: Rick Moran at 8:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

5/23/2010
WHAT WAS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT AVATAR?

If you haven’t guessed previously, I am not a fiend for pop culture. It’s not that it was any better 40 years ago either. For all the nostalgia that boomers have for the “good old days” when rock music was edgy with social commentary, and TV featured dramas and comedies that pricked the conscience of the nation, we tend to forget that about 99% of what was considered “pop culture” back then was just as awful, just as puerile, just as mindlessly boring as anything put out today.

Once I grew out of AM radio and series TV, I have never gone back. I can proudly say I have never seen a complete episode of Seinfeld, 30 Rock, or any other hit show of the past 15 years except 24 and the occasional Law and Order SVU rerun.

While this has made me an ignoramus when it comes to a lot of pop culture references, it has also allowed me to gain a perspective not vouchsafed many commenters on American culture. When I see a movie, for instance, I come to the experience free of many biases that others may harbor.

This includes my viewing fare last night. I decided to pay $6 and watch Avatar. The avalanche of criticism directed against this movie on the right had piqued my curiosity when it first came out. Unfortunately, in my case, there isn’t a decent movie theater within an hour’s travel time that features a Dolby sound system and a wide enough screen to make the trip worthwhile. As with almost all blockbusters since I moved out here two years ago, I waited until it came out on video or was shown on cable.

I watched in awe as the dazzling combination of computer generated reality and Hollywood glitz lit up my TV screen as no other film save perhaps the Lord of the Rings trilogy had done. This film was a truly majestic accomplishment by Cameron and whatever you think of his politics, you must credit him with some boffo originality in how the film was produced.

But after the film, I was forced to ask myself; why the wave of virulent criticism - especially on the right? While the movie was spectacular as a visual experience, the plot was as shopworn as anything Hollywood has ever done.

Has everybody forgotten Dances with Wolves already? Or, going further back, A Man Called Horse? There were also echoes of Little Big Man, Cheyenne Autumn, and a dozen other Hollywood productions that portrayed Indian culture and their way of life as superior to that of the western white man and how evil men deliberately tried to wipe it out.

Avatar, as far as the plot was concerned, was a pretty run of the mill oater. Gung ho military type (Costner, Harris, Widmark) find themselves living with the natives, learning their ways, coming to appreciate their race, and eventually loving some aboriginal woman. And when push came to shove, abandoning their racial loyalty to fight with the Indians.

Avatar anti-military? Anytime an American can’t root against a corporate army hellbent on destroying obviously peaceful people, something is wrong. As a modern day metaphor for Blackwater and other private armies fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t see it, although there have been plenty of questions raised about their actions.

There are a lot of old westerns that portray the railroads the same way Cameron wrote the Avatar bad guys. Why no outrage there? In many films, the railroads have their own private security guys or have hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to do their dirty work. There was nothing new in Cameron using the greed of a corporation to contrast the pure motives and superior culture of the natives. It’s as hackneyed a device as anything Hollywood produces.

I guess the biggest objection to the film was the “Green” message it tried to convey. You don’t have to be an environmental wacko to know that the rain forests are disappearing before our eyes (largely through slash and burn clearing tactics of those same natives who are supposed to be attached to the land). Nor is it doltish to understand the interconnectedness of the biosphere and how the death of one species can radically impact the entire food chain. I didn’t find those messages intrusive in the film at all, except that Cameron used the Na’vi’s environmental sensibilities to prove how superior they were to us evil white people.

Anyone who has read Rousseau recognizes “the noble savage” in Cameron’s portrayal of the Na’vi, and the re-occurring theme that the simple beliefs and quality of life lived by natives is something to be admired and envied by those of us trapped in western civilization. The true nature of living in the open forest - at the mercy of the elements, snakes, terrible bugs, horrible diseases, short life spans, astronomical infant mortality rates, and dirt, dirt, dirt - never seems to make it into these paeans to the authentic primitive.

The spiritual life of the Na’vi I found to be pretty silly - as I find all religions. How much sillier is it to believe in the Na’vi planetary female deity than it is to believe a carpenter’s son rose from the dead? To my eyes, not much at all.

I didn’t buy the last 20 minutes of the film. How did the killing of Stephen Lang’s character lead to the surrender of the rest of the army? They overmatched the Na’vis in firepower, and even if the animals joined the fight you can’t tell me if they had explosives that could bring down Hometree that they couldn’t kill the dinosaurs who had inexplicably joined the fight.

Not credible in the least.

I would have liked to have seen the idea that Sigourney Weaver theorized - a planet wide network where all the plants and trees were interconnected with each other and that this energy could be tapped by the Na’vi and presumably, the animals as well.

A planetary consciousness? That would be true science fiction. If that had been the case, the trees and plants would have attacked as well, which would have been more compelling than the wolf-like things and sorapods going after the bad guys.

Some of Cameron’s statements after the film was out were very stupid and indicative of someone totally ignorant of science. But if we haven’t learned by now to love movies by stupid left wing loons, then what’s the point of going to a film at all? Taxi Driver is one of the most compelling dramas ever made even though Martin Scorcese is liberal nutcase. And though I despise his politics, some of Sean Penn’s performances have been awesome (film acting doesn’t get much better than his performance in Mystic River).

There are indeed far left wing politicized films that need to be strenuously, and relentlessly criticized (the Plame-Wilson Fair Game, for example). And on one level, Avatar may cross the line between entertainment and politics - but no more so than any of the films I mentioned above.

Viewed as entertainment, I found Avatar to be thrilling, visually stunning, and worth watching again. In this case, I can stand a little preaching if the film delivers a solid 2 hours of adult entertainment.

By: Rick Moran at 9:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

3/4/2010
TO A BLOGGER DYING YOUNG

I first became aware of blogger Al Weisel (AKA “Jon Swift”) when I started my “Carnival of the Clueless” linkfest back in 2005. Al submitted a post each week almost from the beginning.

I have to admit to being had by the Jon Swift character. I never read his submissions closely, scanning them for the essence of what he was writing about, and thus was totally unaware for a couple of months that he was skewering conservatives. It wasn’t until I read on some other blog that he was a satirist that I actually began to read what he wrote with that in mind.

I don’t necessarily feel bad or stupid about it. I apparently wasn’t the only conservative unable to divine the author’s intent. In truth, what Al and others on the left sometimes see as right wing nonsense is occasionally anything but. However, his unerring eye for absurdities on the right, and a pitch perfect ear that regurgitated conservative talking points to make them sound ridiculous, placed him in a class all his own as a satirist.

Al Weisel died on February 27. 2010. The tragedy of his death at age 46 was compounded by the circumstances; he suffered “2 aortic aneurysms, a leaky aortic valve and an aortic artery dissection from his heart to his pelvis,” according to his mother who posted the news on his long defunct blog. And he was stricken on the way to his father’s funeral in West Virginia.

Good satire needs to be subtle enough to sound plausible while giving broad hints that lets the reader in on the fun. It is a tightrope few are creative enough, disciplined enough, and talented enough to walk. Al managed it with apparent ease. At all times, he maintained a sincerity so believable, you occasionally did double takes on what he wrote to make sure he was poking fun at you.

I was an occasional target of his saucy barbs, to which I responded with my usual good humor. The fact that Al was amenable to correcting some of the stuff I complained about always impressed me.

Eventually, we struck up a sort of odd email relationship. Whenever I was a subject of one of his satirical lances, he would email me - usually including a pithy comment. I would banter back in kind (although with less joie de vivre and not half as much talent). I was pleased that he invited me to participate in his “Best Blogs of 2007″ roundup. Not too many conservatives could say that.

Eventually, he mostly stopped linking because we were usually on the same wavelength when it came to criticizing conservative lunacy; me screaming about it and he parodying it. I can’t say I missed being the target of his razor sharp wit and poison pen. But he was a joy to read if only to marvel at the elegance and clarity of his writing.

As with many such email relationships over the years, we fell out of touch. The news of his passing has opened the floodgates to memories from my early days of blogging and has helped me recall how every day seemed a challenge to be joyfully faced.

Can’t say that anymore. Age and burnout eventually take their toll on a blogger’s constitution. Al doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. And I have no doubt that he’s already skewered St. Peter in The Heavenly Times for something he said when Al talked his way past him and through the pearly gates.

UPDATE

Ed Morrissey has an old Blog Talk Radio show of his that featured me on the first half hour and Jon Swift the last half hour.

By: Rick Moran at 9:34 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

2/2/2010
WHERE IS CLIMATE SCIENCE TODAY?

Since I abhor easy answers, pat responses, and conventional wisdom, I will take a stab at examining this question from the flawed, but earnest perspective of a layman who respects the work of legitimate scientists and who still believes the possibility that global warming could be a big problem for mankind. (Note: What can be done about it is an entirely different question.)

I will not seek to summarize the shocking revelations of the past few months that have resulted in legitimate questions being raised about some of the cornerstones of the IPCC 2007 report that forms the basis of government actions to mitigate climate change. For that, I will point you to Climate Audit or Climate Depot. There you will find links to the major stories that describe the fraud, the blunders, the failure to properly vet and follow IPCC’s own procedures that have debunked, or otherwise called into question major and minor aspects of climate change science.

But let’s put this in perspective. Some of these revelations are more serious than others. Those trumpeting the Himalayan glacier story that showed as bogus the idea of those ice sheets disappearing by 2035 thus “proving” that global warming is a crock, fail to note that the glaciers are still retreating at an accelerated rate, although the Indian government report is unsure if climate change is the major cause.

Is that as important a piece of evidence as the data sets on temperatures that were apparently falsified or misapplied? Those temps were calculated into how many climate change models, how many scientific papers? That study by Jones is in the 2007 IPCC report.

Compared to one study of one small part of the world that has been laughably shown to be a politically motivated use of science, I daresay that screwing with temperature data is huge. But is it a climate change killer?

Not hardly. The science of climate change has been conducted for decades by hundreds of reputable scientists taking accurate measurements of tree rings, ice cores, ocean temperatures, and other observable and measurable phenomena that have not been debunked, or shown to be in error. There may indeed be misinterpretations of the data; that is a hazard of science and always will be. Skeptics have come up with alternate interpretations for most of the evidence of climate change which, of course, is what science is all about. In a perfect world, the politics that have captured the climate change argument would be absent and it would be scientist vs. scientist - man a mano , with both sides wielding their best arguments, fighting it out in the major scientific journals.

Obviously, we live in a world that has given a Nobel Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC - a mistake that should be rectified soonest. So we can now no more remove politics from the science of climate change as we could remove your beating heart from your chest and expect you to be upright for very long.

Aside from the regular political machinations from those seeking to benefit financially from decisions made by governments, as well as governments and institutions like the UN that are seeking to aggrandize power unto themselves, there is the very human desire for many scientists to protect their professional reputations from being destroyed. Hence, the actions of Jones and Mann that, as the investigations unfold, are becoming less and less defensible.

Given that some of these revelations are more important than others as far as calling into question the entire AGW theory, how is it possible to judge the real damage to the theory’s credibility and thus, the efficacy of the remedies being pushed by the climate change advocates?

There is a second aspect of climate change that hasn’t been touched - yet - by the climategate revelations; the notion that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are rising. Again, skeptics have posited different interpretations of the data, predicting different outcomes as a result of this measured increase. But the increase is confirmed (although models have been wildly inaccurate in predicting how much CO2 makes it to the troposphere where the greenhouse effect is most damaging).

So where is climate change science today? The edifice is leaning as a result of several bricks being pulled away from the structure, and there is a definite possibility it can collapse unless it is shored up. That “shoring up” must be done by scientists themselves. If someone or some scientists aren’t already doing so, a thorough review of the literature with special emphasis placed on examining papers that used the Jones temperature model - with attention paid to the impact on that 2007 IPCC report - should be undertaken immediately. That would seem to be a minimum requirement to begin the process of regaining credibility.

Beyond that, a re-evaluation of at least some of the skeptical literature in light of the revelations would seem to be in order. And finally, a greater effort must be made by all to resist the political pressures placed on scientists to accede to outcome based science. In other words, tell Al Gore to take his carbon footprint and stuff it.

Rand Simberg made the point of using the “precautionary principle” when figuring out what to do about climate change. Seeing emissions reduction as a kind of “insurance” against catastrophe is all well and good. But Simberg quotes Bjorn Lomberg who cautions against the cure being worse than the disease. And Tom Friedman’s 1% chance of catastrophe being reason enough for such draconian measures drew this response from Simberg:

But I buy insurance that has a price commensurate with the expected value (i.e., the cost of the disaster times the probability that it will occur). For instance, I’ll pay a few hundred bucks for a million-dollar policy against the small chance that I’ll kick off tomorrow. Presumably, Friedman assumes that the proposed palliatives of cap’n’tax or carbon taxes meet that criterion, but he doesn’t do the calculations for us, because he can’t. Warm mongers like him propose to spend trillions of dollars now to prevent an unknown amount of cost later, in defiance of the basic economic principle of discounting the value of future expenditures.

There is a variation on this fallacy, in fact. It goes: There is a crisis; something must be done! What we propose to do is something. Therefore, it must be done!

Put another way; should a man buy insurance for uterine cancer? Or a woman buy a policy for prostrate cancer? Broadly drawn examples but I hope the point is rammed home. There is the notion of buying insurance intelligently or not. As I’ve written before, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to take measures that would reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. But it makes no sense given what we know about climate change at this point to literally bankrupt our economy, placing monumental restrictions on industrial activity while entire swaths of our energy sector are taken over by government. The threat has never justified such action and this is true even more now.

Develop alternatives to fossil fuels? Absolutely - and quickly. This is a national security issue as much as it is an environmental one. Try to make everyone aware of their “carbon footprint” so that we can each do our part to lessen emissions? Sure, just don’t stuff it down my throat with draconian regulations and liberty-destroying legislation.

Climategate and its ancillary revelations have not killed the AGW theory or permanently damaged climate science. But if climate change proponents refuse to do the things necessary to regain credibility, and allow for a full fledged, real debate on every aspect of the science, they will be guilty of pandering to politicians and global bureaucrats who could care less about legitimate science while seeking to use their flawed conclusions to gain power and wealth at our expense.

By: Rick Moran at 11:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

12/21/2009
REFORM IS A TRIUMPH OF PROCESS OVER PRUDENCE

I suppose it is too much to expect that either party could deal effectively with the health care crisis. In fact, I would argue that our system was not set up to make such massive changes in American life so quickly, that the very nature of the legislative process prevents prudent lawmakers from overreaching and trying to do too much, too soon.

Part of that is the dance that occurs between the majority and minority. True, the atmosphere in Washington has been testy the last couple of decades. But beyond that, there are systemic checks on the majority - most of them built in to the very fabric of the House and Senate rules while others can be found in the Constitution. The Founders saw the People’s House as a place where men were governed by raw passion, and that the supposed elitists in the senate (chosen by state legislators), would put a brake on any imprudent measures passed in the lower chamber.

No, the filibuster is not in the Constitution. But I have no doubt the majority of the Founders would have approved of how it has been used in the past as well as how it is being employed now. When the GOP wanted to ram through some judges who were seen as being either poor jurists, or too extreme, the Democrats balked. The New York Times favored the tactic back in November of 2004:

The Republicans see the filibuster as an annoying obstacle. But it is actually one of the checks and balances that the founders, who worried greatly about concentration of power, built into our system of government. It is also, right now, the main means by which the 48 percent of Americans who voted for John Kerry can influence federal policy. People who call themselves conservatives should find a way of achieving their goals without declaring war on one of the oldest traditions in American democracy.

And they were right. Of course, now that the shoe is on the other foot, the filibuster is evil incarnate if you listen to many on the left. But the principle is sound; legislation that either doesn’t have the support of the people, or is flawed thinking, or whose consequences cannot be easily seen, deserves the “check” that the senate can place on it.

Does this mean that there shouldn’t be health care reform at all? Some on the right would argue this but I think I’ve made my own position clear over the last few months; when millions who want insurance, or need insurance, who are either too poor to afford it or can’t get it because of a chronic condition, something is wrong with the system. The other big reason for reform is the cost of health care - and thus, the cost to government who spends about 40 cents of every health care dollar - are out of control and desperately need to be reined in.

We can’t simply say to those who can’t get insurance, “Too bad if you get sick or hurt. Try bankruptcy, OK?” I don’t see health insurance as a “right” but neither is it fair for families to be burdened for the rest of their lives with a health care bill from a car accident or a serious childhood illness. It is the same reasoning we use for assistance to the poor. If through no fault of their own, someone finds themselves unable to pay for food or shelter, the government must step in. Again, do we say “Too bad you can’t eat. Try a church pantry, OK?”

I am of the school that sees government as an agent to fill in gaps where doing so is prudent and makes sense. Clearly, there is a role for government to play in addressing the health care problem. A purely free market solution does not prevent itself, although certainly applying market forces to the cost curve would seem to make a good deal more sense than the arbitrary manner in which the House and Senate bills address this aspect of the problem.

But government alone cannot address these problems - a position utterly rejected by the far left in the Democratic party who are driving this reform bill over a cliff. If the bill simply addressed the problem of insuring the uninsured and trying to “bend the cost curve” in health care spending, I have no doubt that many Republicans would have enthusiastically thrown themselves into the process. But the overreach written into the bill guaranteed from the beginning that the GOP would be on the sidelines.

You don’t need comity between warring parties to get something done on health care. What is needed is the application of common sense and a little prudence. Indeed, prudence has been sacrificed on the altar of process - the abandonment of the principle of “good government” in order to achieve a purely political triumph for the majority.

As a civic virtue, prudence is underrated.

Russell Kirk:

Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.

I don’t see how anyone can apply the principle of “prudence” to this legislation. And please note that Professor Kirk is inferring the existence of a body like the United States Senate to place a check on the passions of the imprudent.

In truth, the senate has traditionally been a “conservative” body in that its rules and traditions allow for a more thoughtful and measured approach to legislation. After all, it used to be that these cloture votes would occur after hundreds of hours of talking, as an even smaller minority than the 40 GOP senators (the rules used to call for 66 votes in favor of cloture) could tie up the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” for weeks by reading cookbooks, the Congressional Record, and other time consuming tomes.

Cloture itself is a relatively recent invention. It was created prior to our entry into World War I when just a couple of senators could hold up the business of the senate simply by not yielding the floor (See Jimmy Stewart’s one man filibuster in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

The practical effect of all this talking was that bills were considerably watered down in the senate before going to conference. In order to achieve passage in the senate, the minorities concerns were addressed. And it prevented the kind of wholesale changes in American society that we are seeing with health care reform.

President Obama is not a prudent man. He is a reckless, arrogant ideologue who is so concerned with his legacy and his place in the history books, that he is willing to foist this very bad bill on the American people and damn the consequences. It is so big, so broadly drawn, encompasses so much, that it would be impossible for any group of bureaucrats to write rules and regulations that wouldn’t horribly infringe upon the liberties of the people.

There is no blueprint, no roadmap that would reveal what the long term consequences of passing this bill might be. Guessing at its cost is akin to looking into a crystal ball. And Harry Reid ain’t no gypsy. In fact, the Democrats have tried to hide the costs of the bill:

For starters, as CBO notes, the bill presumes that Medicare fees for physician services will get cut by more than 20 percent in 2011, and then stay at the reduced level indefinitely. There is strong bipartisan opposition to such cuts. Fixing that problem alone will cost more than $200 billion over a decade, pushing the Reid plan from the black and into a deep red.

Then there are the numerous budget gimmicks and implausible spending reductions. The plan’s taxes and spending cuts kick in right away, while the entitlement expansion doesn’t start in earnest until 2014, and even then the real spending doesn’t begin until 2015. According to CBO, from 2010 to 2014, the bill would cut the federal budget deficit by $124 billion. From that point on, it’s essentially deficit neutral — but that’s only because of unrealistic assumptions about tax and Medicare savings provisions. By 2019, the entitlement expansions to cover more people with insurance will cost nearly $200 billion per year, and grow every year thereafter at a rate of 8 percent. CBO says that, on paper, the tax increases and Medicare cuts will more than keep up, but, in reality, they won’t. The so-called tax on high cost insurance plans applies to policies with premiums exceeding certain thresholds (for instance, $23,000 for family coverage). But those thresholds would be indexed at rates that are less than health-care inflation — forever. And so, over time, more and more plans, and their enrollees, would bump up against it until virtually the entire U.S. population is enrolled in insurance that is considered “high cost.”

Chicanery in budgeting is not limited to the Democratic party. But it’s a question of scale, isn’t it? We’re not talking about fudging some numbers on a new jet fighter that might show a couple of tens of billions of dollars less over 5 years. We are discussing trillions of dollars in federal spending that are being covered up because if the true cost of this bill were known, it would be even more unpopular than it is now.

Prudence is a lost virtue in Washington. Neither party adheres to its meaning or even its spirit. Profligate, wastrel, wasteful, uncaring of the future - there is more broken in Washington than what passes for political discourse between the parties.

By: Rick Moran at 11:05 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (38)

12/20/2009
UNITED STATES OUT OF THE UN — NOW

I used to laugh at some of my fellow conservatives who believed that the United States should withdraw its membership in the United Nations. The notion belonged in the Robert Taft era when visions of Bilderbergs and Trilateral Commission conspiracies haunted the dreams of the paranoid right. (They still do but not half as bad as it used to be.)

Sure, it’s full of anti-American brutes and thugs, but you can’t go anywhere in the world without tripping over people who hate us. You have to be daffy to like the US in a lot of places on this planet — something that was true even after our Lightwalking Messiah became president.

Corruption? There was a time that I believed simple bureaucratic inefficiency at the United Nations was the price we paid to participate in a forum where at least we had the veto in the Security Council. And even with all its drawbacks, there was a time I believed that the United Nations mattered as a place where the superpowers could talk about problems in a neutral forum that contributed to stability and peace.

Yes, I was young and stupid once. Perhaps the UN was never any of those things, that it was a mirage, a convenient fantasy that was designed to cover up the world body’s fatal flaws.

Whatever the UN was, it is no longer. I wrote this a few years ago when I wondered whether it was time to withdraw from the organization:

The United Nations is not a serious place. It is a place where people pretend. It is a place where people pretend to address the serious issues of the day when they have no desire to do so nor seriously engage any process that would begin to solve them. It is a place where people pretend that what they do or say matters one whit to the gimlet eyed thugs whose murderous designs on the rest of humanity are downplayed and even rationalized. And it is a place where people pretend that all of this is so despite knowing full well that it is not.

Adults do not pretend. Adults deal with the world as it is not as they would like it to be. In this, the UN then has become a playground, a fantasyland for childish notions of “peace” and “stability.” It has become the number one enabler of genocidal maniacs, brutish aggressors, and fanatics with an eye on Armageddon. And since the consequences of facing down the evil is too painful, they pretend the evil doesn’t exist.

Add to this a breathtaking cynicism that has now made the UN not only fatally flawed, but dangerous to human liberty as well. Is it my imagination or has the United Nations gotten infinitely worse over the last two decades? Maybe it’s that I’m paying attention more but it seems to me that there have been some massive examples of personal and institutional corruption publicized in the last few years relating to the UN which prove that this is an organization that does not deserve US taxpayer monies, nor is it any longer in the interest of the United States to belong.

Oil for Food - possibly the biggest bribery case in the history of human civilization with up to $20 billion in bribes and kickbacks, also ensnaring former SG Kofi Annan and his son; the UN “peacekeeper” scandals involving selling underage girls for sex - these are just the more egregious examples of the shocking corruption that passes as business as usual for the world body.

The day to day waste is incredible. Nobody knows how much the UN Secretariat spends because it doesn’t have a budget in the real sense of the word. It is estimated at around $5 billion a year - just for the secretariat. That doesn’t include all the funding for WHO, peacekeepers, and other UN functions.

And now, the clincher.

The Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the UN office that is ramrodding the entire planet-wide effort to cut emissions, do the science, and transfer massive amounts of cash from rich countries to poor countries, has a conflict of interest so profoundly corrupting as to be beyond belief.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri is involved in dozens of companies who benefit directly from his panel’s decisions on climate change:

Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all.

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international ‘climate industry’.

A guy who has the fate of the western world’s economies pretty much in his hands has a direct, personal, financial interest to portray climate change as gruesome, terrifying, and inevitable a reality as possible?

Should it surprise us that this is, indeed, how the IPCC views climate change when the man responsible for leading the world toward a responsible future is involved with “more than a score” (20) of companies who are set to become fabulously wealthy because of his say so?

A guy who doesn’t know his ass from a climate model is overseeing the biggest cooperative international effort in history. The only thing comparable that comes to mind was the nearly successful effort by the WHO to eradicate smallpox. But the world was much smaller back in the 1970’s and no one had to gin up fear about the effects of that disease.

Are we to believe our government is unaware of these connections? Of course not. You can bet they are also fully aware of the consequences now that these connections are out in the open.

Here’s just a couple of those pies in which Dr Pachauri has dipped his fingers:

The original power base from which Dr Pachauri has built up his worldwide network of influence over the past decade is the Delhi-based Tata Energy Research Institute, of which he became director in 1981 and director-general in 2001. Now renamed The Energy Research Institute, TERI was set up in 1974 by India’s largest privately-owned business empire, the Tata Group, with interests ranging from steel, cars and energy to chemicals, telecommunications and insurance (and now best-known in the UK as the owner of Jaguar, Land Rover, Tetley Tea and Corus, Britain’s largest steel company).

Although TERI has extended its sponsorship since the name change, the two concerns are still closely linked.

In India, Tata exercises enormous political power, shown not least in the way it has managed to displace hundreds of thousands of poor tribal villagers in the eastern states of Orissa and Jarkhand to make way for large-scale iron mining and steelmaking projects.

[...]

TERI-NA is funded by a galaxy of official and corporate sponsors, including four branches of the UN bureaucracy; four US government agencies; oil giants such as Amoco; two of the leading US defence contractors; Monsanto, the world’s largest GM producer; the WWF (the environmentalist campaigning group which derives much of its own funding from the EU) and two world leaders in the international ‘carbon market’, between them managing more than $1 trillion (£620 billion) worth of assets.

All of this is doubtless useful to the interests of Tata back in India, which is heavily involved not just in bio-energy, renewables and insurance but also in ‘carbon trading’, the worldwide market in buying and selling the right to emit CO2. Much of this is administered at a profit by the UN under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) set up under the Kyoto Protocol, which the Copenhagen treaty was designed to replace with an even more lucrative successor.

Under the CDM, firms and consumers in the developed world pay for the right to exceed their ‘carbon limits’ by buying certificates from those firms in countries such as India and China which rack up ‘carbon credits’ for every renewable energy source they develop – or by showing that they have in some way reduced their own ‘carbon emissions’.

How can anyone take anything the IPCC says about climate change seriously? What kind of cynical, corrupt, power hungry organization would place this man in charge in the first place?

Look, I am not a warming denier. But Holy Mother of God people - we’re about to spend trillions of our own money and many trillions more from other industrialized countries based on this crook’s say so. And don’t bother to tell me that the IPCC isn’t affected by what Pachauri wants. It is he who shaped the IPCC statements in 2003 and 2007 that sounded such a shrill alarm about global warming. Would the warnings have been so dire without him as chairman? Don’t you think we should find that out before committing economic sepaku?

If Climategate didn’t convince reasonable people to take a second look at the science upon which global warming is based, perhaps these revelations will force even some believers to be a little more skeptical.

And this should also be the last straw as far as our participation in the United Nations. Sure, keep giving money to WHO, to the refugee commission, maybe even to the peacekeeping operations.

But our contributions to keep the United Nations secretariat functioning should be stopped and we should clear out our offices and let the kleptocrats have it. When having sex, I like to know who’s screwing me - something you can’t say about the UN.

By: Rick Moran at 12:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)