Monday, March 28, 2005

Reckless Disregard

I've been reading Lt. Col. Robert Patterson's book Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopordize Our Security. It contains loads of astonishing personal accounts and facts and figures that carefully outline the left's continuing struggle against our military and intelligence systems. Col. Patterson was an Air Force pilot whose experience as President Clinton's "nuclear football" carrier allowed him to write another excellent book: Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Endangered America's Long-Term National Security.
Read both books -- and prepare to be shocked.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Getting Ready to Go Nuclear

A few days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the William Myers nomination to the floor of the Senate, where it may be some time before he is given the traditional and constitutional privilege of an up or down vote on his nomination. Myers is the first of 10 nominees who are being blocked by Democrats for political reasons.

The Senate Democrats, now under Minority Leader Harry Reid, are refusing to close debate on these nominations, therefore requiring a supermajority of 60 votes to confirm a judge, as opposed to the 51 votes required by the Constitution. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a minority party has used the filibuster rule to block judicial nominees – despite the fact that these nominees have majority support and would be confirmed if the vote were allowed to be taken.

The Democrats claim that they are blocking these nominations for a number of reasons.
In public they attack the nominees’ qualifications. For example, critics claim that Federal circuit court judge Terrence Boyle is anti-civil rights and that in 20 years on the bench his rulings have been reversed over 150 times. In reality, as Senator Graham has pointed out, Boyle has only been reversed 92 times – a reversal 7.5 percent well below the national average of 9.7 percent.

In private (as leaked memos reveal) Democrats view Bush’s nominees as “Neanderthals” and “Nazis” and have a special bent against minority candidates – Justice Janice Brown, a black, female Conservative is being blocked, as was Miguel Estrada. (Estrada was described by Senate Judiciary Committee member Dick Durbin as “especially dangerous because he is Latino”). After all, it certainly would be dangerous for Democrats if minority members in a position of power happened to be Conservative. Estrada has now withdrawn his own nomination after too many years of waiting to be confirmed.

Democrats claim that they are justified in their filibustering. For one thing, they say that Republicans did the same thing to Justice Abe Fortas in 1968. This is not true, as Senator Cornyn explains, because “The Congressional Record makes clear that a confirmation vote would have likely failed by a vote of 46-49. Moreover, Fortas's opponents explained repeatedly that they were not filibustering — they just wanted adequate time to debate and expose serious problems with his nomination.” Democrats further claim that since they only blocked 10 out of 214 nominees during the last session, it’s certainly not such a big deal. What they fail to understand is that they don’t have a right to block anyone who has majority support – not 10 judges, not even one, because these nominees have the right to be voted on.

Many Democratic Senators currently filibustering candidates are trapped by their own words – having just a few years back flatly denounced the very things they are now doing. In 1998, Senatory Leahy said that “If we want to vote against somebody, vote against them. I respect that. State your reasons. I respect that. But don’t hold up a qualified judicial nominee. . . . If Senators are opposed to any judge, bring them up and vote against them.” Also in 1998, the well known Senator Ted Kennedy said “Nominees deserve a vote. If our . . . colleagues don’t like them, vote against them. But don’t just sit on them – that is obstruction of justice. Free and full debate over judicial nominations is healthy. The Constitution is clear that only individuals acceptable to both the President and the Senate should be confirmed. The President and the Senate do not always agree. But we should resolve these disagreements by voting on these nominees – yes or no.” Senator Feinstein, 1999: “A nominee is entitled to a vote. Vote them up; vote them down. What this does to a [nominee’s] life is, it leaves them in limbo . . . It is our job to confirm these judges. If we don’t like them, we can vote against them. That is the honest thing to do. If there are things in their background, in their abilities that don’t pass muster, vote no.”

Senate Republicans are now strongly considering what is often called the “nuclear option” – informally changing Senate rules to force a vote on the nominees. This would grant Bush and his judicial selections the Constitutional justice that so many of these Democrats seemed so impassioned about a few years back. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has promised that if Republicans use the nuclear option, the Dems will retaliate by filibustering everything and closing down the Senate to practically all legislation. This of course, would not be a tremendous disaster (except for the Democrats) because the Senate does the least damage when it is not passing any laws. As a political move, the Left’s continued obstructionism can only be termed “dumb.” Just ask former Senator and Minority Leader Tom Daschle. He had Senator Reid’s job just last year, but judicial filibustering made him the first minority leader in 52 years to lose his seat.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Culture Quiz Results

We asked 144 students to write their answers to the following questions:

1. Who was the first American in space?
2. Who perpetrated the Bataan Death March?
3. Who were the Khmer Rouge?
4. Name the first book of the Bible.
5. Who wrote, “With malice towards none; with charity to all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right…”
6. To whom did Churchill refer when he said “Never in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed, by so many, to so few.”?

And I got the following results:
Around half (54%) could name the first book of the Bible. A little more than a quarter (28%) knew that the Japanese were the perpetrators the Bataan Death March.
4% knew that the first American in space was Alan Shepard. Popular answers were Neil Armstrong, the trumpet player Louis Armstrong and the Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong. Slightly over one in twenty (6%) recognized Abraham Lincoln’s quote from the Second Inaugural address; some attributed the quote to Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. Fewer than one in twenty (3%) s knew that the Khmer Rouge were the communist murderers responsible for the annihilation of 1/3 of Cambodia’s whole population, a massive feat of genocide. Fewer than one in twenty (3%) knew that Churchill was thanking the Royal Air Force for its heroic victory in the Battle of Britain; more than twice as many (8%) thought that Churchill was talking about the Nazis—an extraordinary answer suggesting either an inability to read English or to think straight.
40% of students could not answer a single question.

I will be writing a more complete article shortly to further explain the results of my poll.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Culture Quiz Distributed

My poll (explained about half-way down the stories on this page) was handed out in English classes today to a sample of 144 students. I will tabulate the results, which will appear on this blog in a day or two, followed by a full-length article explaining the significance of the figures (I'll work on that this week).

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A Farewell to Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol, it would seem, is finally dead – the US, Russia, China, India, and Italy have all either withdrawn from the treaty process entirely, or refused to be bound by emissions restrictions. So, is this a good thing, or are we just speeding towards environmental destruction? I’ll try to explain.

First, and most importantly, humans do not cause global temperature change – it has merely been posited that we do. In reality, the earth has small natural warming and cooling cycles enclosed in larger ones. In the 20th century, the earth warmed from 1900 to 1940, then cooled from 1940 to 1975 (during the early 70s, many of today’s global warming alarmists were convinced that we were on the verge of another ice age). From 1975 to 1979 the world warmed again. Since 1979, the world has cooled just slightly. The larger cycles include ice ages (the world has continued to warm since the last ice age).

The international groups with a stake in the global warming theory have worked hard to cover up contrary evidence. In the UN’s 1996 report on global warming, the following two lines were deleted from the final draft:

1. "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases."
2. "No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to…man-made causes."

The Danish statistics professor, Bjorn Lomborg was an environmentalist who believed that humans were destroying the world. Then he decided to do a little research and in 1998 published The Skeptical Environmentalist. Among his discoveries: the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was ready to report that “the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernable human influence on global climate.” In the April 2000 draft the uncertainty was removed: “There has been a discernable human influence on global climate.” In the October 2000 draft this was changed to “it is likely that increasing concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases have contributed substantially to the observed warming over the past 50 years.” The official summary (the thing that the press and policy-makers read) finally said “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” The New Scientist asked UN spokesman Tim Higham if there was any new science to support the report’s new stronger wording. He responded, “There was no new science, but the scientists wanted to present a clear and strong message to policy makers.”

The IPCC’s finding that we have even a “discernable” effect on global climate is flawed in many ways. As the atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer explains, there are three main methods that we use to measure global temperature: Surface measurements, weather balloons, and satellites. The satellite and weather balloon measurements are in close agreement and show a slight cooling over the past 20 years. The surface measurements show a temperature increase. The problem with the surface measurements, though, is 1) that they only measure a tiny part of the earth and leave the oceans essentially unmeasured, and 2) that the sensors are normally placed near cities, which are warmer than the surrounding countryside because of the greater industry there. Nevertheless, satellites are not even mentioned in the IPCC report summary, and the computer models tend to be based on surface measurements. Dr. Lomborg writes in The Skeptical Environmentalist that the IPCC computer models no longer even claim to be predicting the future. There are now 40 computer “scenarios,” all different, and not a single one is capable of explaining past global temperature changes. The big problem there is that our models do not include the effects of clouds and similar forcings. We do not yet know how all these things effect the climate, and, even if we did, our computers are not powerful enough to include these factors in their models.

What we are left with are a bunch of inaccurate computer models, on the basis of which the IPCC predicts that the temperature increase in the next hundred years will be from 1.4° to 5.8° Celsius. (If the IPCC had not used its most pessimistic computer models for this assessment, the range would most likely be from 1.2° to 4.8° Celsius.) The mainstream media proved little help to the public here – CNN, CBS, The Times, and Time all reduced the IPCC numbers from a range to a single figure: 5.8° C.

The environmentalist ‘scientists’ at the IPCC and other research groups have pushed to get the right kind of results. Richard Lindzen, and American atmospheric physicist stated, “throughout the drafting sessions, [the UN’s IPCC] 'coordinators' would go around insisting that criticism of models be toned down, and that 'motherhood' statements be inserted to the effect that models might still be correct despite the cited faults. Refusals were occasionally met with ad hominem attacks. I personally witnessed coauthors forced to assert their 'green' credentials in defense of their statements…” Bjorn Lomborg himself was accused of scientific dishonesty regarding his book, and initially ruled against by The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty before he was vindicated completely on appeal.

So now we finally arrive at the Kyoto protocol itself, which demands drastic reductions in carbon dioxide output. First, do we even know that CO2 is a culprit? Bjorn Lomborg demonstrated that solar activity is more closely correlated to temperature than is carbon dioxide output.

The people behind the treaty have failed to demonstrate whether any link between CO2 levels and global climate show CO2 as the cause or the effect. Dr. Singer related a story about one of the most prominent alarmists: former VP Al Gore. Gore used to be fond of displaying a chart showing the temperatures in the Antarctic ice core and the global CO2 levels together. He would tell the audience that whenever the CO2 levels went up, the temperature went up as a result. A 1999 paper in Science later showed him to be wrong, when they reported that they had gotten adequate resolution to be able to see whether the temperature increases or CO2 increases came first. They determined that the rise in CO2 levels was preceded by the temperature increase by a mere 600 years. When temperatures rise, the ocean and the earth itself releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Let us suppose, for a moment, that the IPCC predictions are actually correct, and then (to continue assuming according to their models) that reducing CO2 would in fact reduce global temperature. What effect will the Kyoto protocol have on global warming? If we go back the original, full-power treaty (that is, we include the United States and the other countries that have now dropped out) and if the entire world were to observe that treaty completely, the UN Science Advisory Council admits that, by the year 2050, the expected temperature increase would be reduced by just 0.05° C. If we were to enforce the treaty until the year 2100, different models indicate that the temperature increase would be reduced by 0.13° to 0.15° Celsius. To put it another way, the Kyoto treaty will, by the year 2100, reduce the sea level rise the IPCC expects by a grand total of one inch. It will delay the temperature rise they expect, again by the year 2100 for six years, so that the temperature with Kyoto in 2100 will be the same as the temperature without Kyoto in the year 2094. Dr. Lomborg points out that because of this fact we will be forced to pay for global warming twice -- not only will we have to pay the costs of Kyoto, we will also be paying the full price of the eventual climate change.

The main reason why Kyoto is so ineffective, even if we agree to use the IPCC computer modeling, is because the treaty was designed to restrict the CO2 output only of developed countries. Third world countries, including the two largest countries in the world, population wise (China and India) would be allowed to continue producing as much carbon dioxide as they wanted. What the protocol really amounts to, then, is a tremendous cost to developed countries with no real environmental benefits -- the country taking the biggest hit would be (surprise) the US. The OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) estimates that the cost of Kyoto to developed countries would be 2% of GDP per year by 2050, and 4% of GDP per year by 2100. Tom DeWeese reports that Kyoto could cost the US seven million jobs in 14 years. Also from Tom DeWeese’s piece on global warming: “The Department of Energy has estimated that electricity prices could rise 86 percent -- and gasoline prices 53 percent.”

Back in 1989, two scientists announced that they had achieved cold fusion. This turned out later to be false, but for some months we lived with the illusion that we would soon have access to essentially unlimited, clean power. Instead of being thrilled at the prospect of getting rid of dirty energy sources, environmentalists were horrified. Dr. Lomborg documents several examples from an article in the April 1989 Los Angeles Times: Environmentalist Jeremy Rifkin said that is was “the worst thing that could happen to our planet.” The Times wrote: “Inexhaustible power, [Rifkin] argues, only gives man infinite ability to exhaust the planet’s resources.” One environmentalist, UC Berkley anthropologist Laura Nader, finally got to the real point, telling The Times that “many people just assume that cheaper, more abundant, energy will mean that mankind is better off, but there is no evidence for that.” She doesn’t care about the environment -- she is concerned about your lifestyle.

The cold fusion incident back in 1989 is similar to the obviously ineffective Kyoto protocol. It demonstrates that what these environmentalists really want is to redefine the way we live. The IPCC’s 2001 report essentially admits this: “Raising awareness among media professionals of the need for greenhouse gas mitigation and the role of the media in shaping lifestyles and aspirations could be an effective way to encourage a wider cultural shift.” The environmentalists want to move away from consumer-driven economies and institute a system of world socialism, where rich countries subsidize the poor ones until we are all more-or-less equal. Inefficient countries will be protected by the efficient ones -- the United States will share the wealth she earns completely with the rest of the world. You’d better be glad that this policy has failed utterly -- if it hadn’t, you might well have found yourself trading in your car for a bicycle, so you could help pedal the world into the next century.

-Republican Dan Gelernter

"Buenos Aires: Kyoto's Waterloo." Tech Central Station 17 Dec. 2004.

Sanera, Michael, and Jane S. Shaw. Facts Not Fear. Washington, DC: Regnery Inc., 1996.
"There is No Man-Made Global Warming." 16 Dec. 2004.

The Skeptical Environmentalist. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2001.