Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Political Digest July 6, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.
Deficits under Republican and Democrat Congresses
People think the president controls spending. Under our Constitution, it’s Congress that controls spending and taxes. This chart is interesting. Pass it on.

Another interesting chart on deficits
Worth sharing.

Chart of Federal Debt held by the public

'Climategate' was 'a game-changer' in science reporting, say climatologists
Excerpt: Critics say the emails reveal evasion of freedom of information law, secret deals done during the writing of reports for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a cover-up of uncertainties in key research findings and the misuse of scientific peer review to silence critics. But whatever Sir Muir Russell, the chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, concludes on these charges, senior climate scientists say their world has been dramatically changed by the affair. "The release of the emails was a turning point, a game-changer," said Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia. "The community has been brought up short by the row over their science. Already there is a new tone. Researchers are more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties, for instance." And there will be other changes, said Hulme. The emails made him reflect how "astonishing" it was that it had been left to individual researchers to police access to the archive of global temperature data collected over the past 160 years. "The primary data should have been properly curated as an archive open to all." He believes that will now happen. Bob Watson, a former chair of the IPCC and now chief environment scientist for the British government, agreed. "It is clear that the scientific community will have to respond by being more open and transparent in allowing access to raw data in order that their scientific findings can be checked." In addition, Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said: "Researchers have to accept that it won't just be their science that is judged but also their motives, professionalism, integrity and all those other qualities that are considered important in public life." (From the left-leaning Manchester Guardian. Especially note the last two sentences of the last graph. Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit (blog) was originally invited to a "summit" planned by the Guardian later this month, but they "dis-invited" him because they "didn't have enough money to cover his expenses" (in their defense, they did post an operating loss of about 90 million pounds last year, so this could be legit) That was about 9:30AM this morning. By 2:00PM, he'd had enough voluntary contributions from blog readers to cover his airfare from US West coast to London and several offers of lodging. Guardian says he will be welcome at the summit. [Do you think you can get enough donations to take us to OctoberFest? Or, maybe Joe's Tavern in Des Plaines?] –Ron P. Alas, donation-wide, my blog has been, as Jimmy Carter once said about the failed rescue mission, “an incomplete success.”)

New Chinese study in GRL disputes the hockey stick conclusions
Excerpt: While Mann claims his hockey stick science to be “vindicated”, we have this from World Climate Report, a new peer reviewed study that illustrates that the current warm period we live in is neither unique nor unprecedented. They also manage to point out the key issue, the uncertainty of proxies such as used by Mann et al. – Anthony [Watts] --------We constantly hear that the warmest years on record have all occurred in the most recent decades, and of course, we are led to believe this must be a result of the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases. In most places, we have approximately 100 years of reliable temperature records, and we wonder if the warmth of the most recent decades is unusual, part of some cyclical behavior of the climate system, or a warm-up on the heels of a cold period at the beginning of the record. A recent article in Geophysical Research Letters has an intriguing title suggesting a 2,000 year temperature record now exists for China – we definitely wanted to see these results of this one. The article was authored by six scientists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, the State University of New York at Albany, and Germany’s Justus-Liebig University in Giessen; the research was funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the United States Department of Energy. In their abstract, Ge et al. tell us “The analysis also indicates that the warming during the 10–14th centuries in some regions might be comparable in magnitude to the warming of the last few decades of the 20th century.” From the outset, we knew we would welcome the results from any long-term reconstruction of regional temperatures. (Additional indication of the Little Ice Age (about 1000ACE to 1300ACE) RGP)

Spotting the Solar Regime Shifts Driving Earth’s Climate
Excerpt: Some people cite scientists saying there is a “CO2 control knob” for Earth. No doubt there is, but due to the logarithmic effect of CO2, I think of it like a fine tuning knob, not the main station tuner. That said, a new data picture is emerging of an even bigger knob and lever; a nice bright yellow one. A few months back, I found a website from NOAA that provides an algorithm and downloadable program for spotting regime shifts in time series data. It was designed by Sergei Rodionov of the NOAA Bering Climate and Ecosystem Center for the purpose of detecting shifts in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. "Regime shifts are defined as rapid reorganizations of ecosystems from one relatively stable state to another. In the marine environment, regimes may last for several decades and shifts often appear to be associated with changes in the climate system. In the North Pacific, climate regimes are typically described using the concept of Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Regime shifts were also found in many other variables as demonstrated in the Data section of this website (select a variable and then click Recent trends)." But data is data, and the program doesn’t care if it is ecosystem data, temperature data, population data, or solar data. It just looks for and identifies abrupt changes that stabilize at a new level. For example, a useful application of the program is to look for shifts in weather data, such as that caused by the PDO. Another useful application is to use it to identify station moves that result in a temperature shift. It might also be applied to proxy data, such as ice core Oxygen 18 isotope data. But the program was developed around the PDO. What drives the PDO? Many say the sun, though there are other factors too. It follows to reason then that we might be able to look for solar regime shifts in PDO driven temperature data. Alan of AppInSys found the same application and has done just that, and the results are quite interesting. The correlation is well aligned, and it demonstrates the solar to PDO connection quite well.

How Can Climate Change Advocates Equate My Skepticism to Holocaust Denial?
Excerpt: Scientists say the sun is getter hotter and brighter. That’s something that’s been going on throughout its life and will continue until it enters its red giant phase in about 5 billion years. In about 1 billion years, it’s estimated the Earth will be too hot for liquid water. If you want my advice — and I’m telling you right now that you do — we should have a plan in place to get the human race off of the planet within 500 million years. And I’d recommend we get a better central power source for our new ecosystem than a star; natural fusion is just sketchy and unreliable. There are a lot of people, though, saying we have to worry about the greenhouse effect making things too hot on Earth in like the next hundred years or something. That seems like complete and utter nonsense on the surface; I mean, the sun is already destined to try and kill us, so why are we worried about carbon? Still, a lot of people are like, really sure about it and say the ice caps are going to melt and then … bad things. If you really want to know about it, ask Al Gore, and he’ll be happy to show you some slides on the subject. It would be nice of you to act interested, because he’s going through a lot and could really use a friend right now. Anyway, so a lot of scientists — and especially politicians, actors, and musicians — are really, really super certain we have to do something about this “global climate warming change,” as they call it, but seem unable to convince the average man it’s not a bunch of mumbo jumbo — especially to the extent that everyone is going to agree to economy-massacring policies. That seems perfectly rational to me; if I’m wrong, and we’re destined for doom but the only way to live is to be a bunch of hippies, I’d rather be dead. Also, new, cleaner technologies seem unlikely to emerge in markets stifled by socialism and controlled by the meddling morons who usually populate government. So I’m happy to punt this possible crisis down the road and worry about the more concrete and better understood problem that the sun is eventually going to kill us all. Which apparently makes me like someone who denies the murders of millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

Afghanistan Can Be Won
Excerpt: A bottom-up approach like that exercised by Marines in southern Helmand could build a sustainable foundation for success. One year ago today, approximately 2,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade loaded into dozens of U.S. Army helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division or manned guns in a ground convoy vehicle to begin “Operation Khanjari,” moving into the heart of insurgent-controlled territory in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Intended to surprise, overwhelm, and disrupt insurgents in the Nawa and Garmsir districts who had previously operated with near impunity and little resistance from a small contingent of British and Afghan soldiers, the operation marked the beginning of a successful counterinsurgency operation. With all the difficulties in Afghanistan, and especially in light of the grim fact that June has been the deadliest month since the beginning of the war, it is understandable that some paint a picture of a bleak and hopeless future for Afghanistan and our efforts there. But places like Nawa and Garmsir are an example of our prospects for success and demonstrate that our objectives in Afghanistan can be achieved. In Nawa, on the morning of July 3, as temperatures quickly rose to nearly 115 degrees, the Marines who hours before had landed under the cover of darkness discovered a scene that in many ways could have been the setting for a creepy Scooby Doo adventure. Any Marine taking part in a foot patrol was almost guaranteed a small arms engagement with our adversaries, some lasting several hours. The nearby local nationals who weren’t shooting at them regarded the Marines with cautious reserve and even mistrust. (But to do this would mean a real change in approach, and a lot more boots on the ground, soon. How likely is that with the current Administration? –Del)

U.K.: Most jihadists are "British-born, under the age of 30, educated and likely to be employed"
Excerpt: Another blow for the "poverty-causes-jihadist-terrorism" theory. Quite to the contrary, this study demonstrates that, even with all the advantages of one of the most prosperous and highly developed nations on the planet, Muslims born in the U.K. still find a reason to wage jihad. So, there must be something else than poverty and lack of opportunity. (Could it be some fairly common interpretations of Islam? Nah, that’s a “religion of peace”!)

Islamist leader Burhan Hanif tells Aussie Muslims to 'shun democracy'
Boy, some days that “tiny minority of extremists” who has “hijacked” Islam seems to be pretty large. Excerpt: LEADERS of the global Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir have called on Australian Muslims to spurn secular democracy and Western notions of moderate Islam and join the struggle for a transnational Islamic state. British Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Burhan Hanif told participants at a conference in western Sydney yesterday that democracy is "haram" (forbidden) for Muslims, whose political engagement should be based purely on Islamic law. "We must adhere to Islam and Islam alone," Mr Hanif told about 500 participants attending the convention in Lidcombe. "We should not be conned or succumb to the disingenuous and flawed narrative that the only way to engage politically is through the secular democratic process. It is prohibited and haram." He said democracy was incompatible with Islam because the Koran insisted Allah was the sole lawmaker, and Muslim political involvement could not be based on "secular and erroneous concepts such as democracy and freedom".

Dying Lockerbie bomber 'could survive for 10 years or more'
Excerpt: Professor Karol Sikora, who assessed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi for the Libyan authorities almost a year ago, told The Sunday Times it was "embarrassing" the bomber had outlived his three-month prognosis. Megrahi, 58, is the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a US Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, which left 270 dead. The Scottish government provoked outrage from the United States when it released him from prison in August 2009 on compassionate grounds because he dying of metastatic prostate cancer. In Scotland, prisoners are eligible for release on compassionate grounds if they have fewer than three months to live. A report in the Sunday Times said Libyan authorities, keen to secure Megrahi’s release, asked several experts to put a three-month estimate on the bomber’s life but Professor Sikora was the only one to agree. Professor Sikora, the dean of medicine at Buckingham University and medical director of CancerPartnersUK in London, was paid for his medical assessment of Megrahi at Greenock prison on July last year. He told the newspaper: “There was always a chance he could live for 10 years, 20 years ... But it's very unusual.”It was clear that three months was what they were aiming for. Three months was the critical point. "On the balance of probabilities, I felt I could sort of justify [that]." He denied he came any under pressure, but admitted: "It is embarrassing that he's gone on for so long."

Jihadi's chopped hands of Malayalam Professor - 'Crusaders' get the taste of 'Jihad'
Wonder what the question was? Have to be careful. These adherents of the Religion of Peace can be a tad touchy. Excerpt: Christians in Kerala now started getting the true taste of Jihad. Five Jihadi fanatics today chopped of the hands of Malayalam Professor. A Malayalam professor T J Joseph of the Newman College, who is under suspension for preparing a defamatory question for an exam paper, was attacked by a gang of five men at Muvatupuzha when he was coming back from church. His crime - A question prepared by the professor for a Exam was offensive to Jihadis.

University of Virginia course on conservatism aims to confront left-wing bias
Expect harassment of the professor and the students who sign up. The American University is tolerant of every diversity except diversity of thought. Excerpt: An accredited course on conservatism at the University of Virginia debuting this fall could set a trend on campuses across the country, organizers say. The 11-week course, referred to as Conservatism 101, aims to inform students of all political persuasions about the figures and thinkers who have built modern conservatism and to dispel stereotypes. Unlike many courses, it will be taught by several lecturers over the course of the fall semester to give students a host of different perspectives. Topics include whether or not the Founding Fathers were liberal or conservative, libertarian philosophy, and Ronald Reagan, among others. It has proven so popular that a second section of the class might be needed. “It’s a perspective people need to hear that really gets left out,” said Wes Siler, a former leader of the university’s Burke Society, the campus conservative group responsible for enacting the course.

Teachers’ Union Shuns Obama Aides at Convention
Excerpt: For two years as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama addressed educators gathered for the summer conventions of the two national teachers’ unions, and last year both groups rolled out the welcome mat for Education Secretary Arne Duncan. But in a sign of the Obama administration’s strained relations with two of its most powerful political allies, no federal official was scheduled to speak at either convention this month, partly because union officials feared that administration speakers would face heckling. The largest union’s meeting opened here on Saturday to a drumbeat of heated rhetoric, with several speakers calling for Mr. Duncan’s resignation, hooting delegates voting for a resolution criticizing federal programs for “undermining public education,” and the union’s president summing up 18 months of Obama education policies by saying, “This is not the change I hoped for.” “Today our members face the most anti-educator, anti-union, anti-student environment I have ever experienced,” Dennis Van Roekel, president of the union, the National Education Association, told thousands of members gathered at the convention center here.

Jaywalking on American History
Funny but sickening. These people vote.

Democrats hope Obama 2008 model will help stem midterm losses
Excerpt: To become the nation's first black president, Barack Obama not only won heavy percentages of the black and Hispanic vote but also managed to trim the Democratic Party's traditional deficit among white voters. Four years after Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) lost the white vote by 17 percentage points, Obama lost it by 12, according to exit polls. While the 2008 gains were generally attributed to Obama's strength with young voters -- he won by 10 points among whites 18 to 29 years old -- he managed to improve on Kerry's showing with white voters across every age demographic. Fast-forward to today. With the November midterm elections less than four months away, Obama's standing among white voters has sunk -- leading some party strategists to fret that the president's erosion -- and the party's -- could adversely affect Democrats' chances of holding on to their House and Senate majorities. "Since in the past House elections white voters tended to represent the independent vote, [the midterms] will surely be devastating for Democrats running in an election that will be a referendum on the Obama agenda," predicted one senior Democratic operative who closely tracks House races. In Washington Post-ABC polling, Obama's approval rating among white voters has dropped from better than 60 percent to just above 40 percent. In a June poll, 46 percent of white voters under age 40 approved of how Obama was doing, compared with just 39 percent of whites 65 and older.

The Ayn Rand table at the Madison, WI, Farmers Market
“The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.” ~Ayn Rand

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