March 4, 2007

Nancy Pelosi Rebuked Over Military Transportation Request; Media Ignores

From an e-mail sent by the House’s Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) that was later posted at his congressional web site:

WASHINGTON, D.C.-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand to have regular use of a luxurious C-32 for flights to her San Francisco home and other official trips was publicly rebuked by the U.S. House today via the Cantor amendment to the Advanced Fuels Infrastructure Research and Development Act (H.R. 547) by a vote of 385-23.

As originally reported in the New York Post, the aircraft has a game room, stateroom, showers, a communications center and seats 42 to 50 people and it costs taxpayers $22,000 an hour to operate, according to the Air Force.

“The request by Speaker Pelosi to have a private jumbo-jet is an extravagance that taxpayers should not have to pay for,” said Cantor.

Here is the roll call vote involved. The vote occurred at 5:07 PM on Thursday, February 8.

Before the 30-day window of Google News expires, let’s see how much coverage the rebuke received (searching on “Pelosi rebuke” and “Pelosi rebuked,” both without quotes; the first search was narrowed to February 7-11 to avoid hundreds of listings relating to the Iraq Troop Surge Resolution “rebuke,” as spun by the press, of President Bush) as of 9:30 PM on Sunday, March 4:

……..

……..

…….

That’s right. There isn’t any.

What are the odds that a rebuke to a similar demand by Newt Gingrich in 1995 (which, of course, was never made) would have been ignored?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Deborah Fowles, RIP

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 8:07 pm

I just found out from my weekly e-mail from About.com that veteran personal-finance columnist Deborah Fowles succumbed to breast cancer in late February:

In Memoriam: Deborah Fowles

With sadness, we must share the news that About.com’s Financial Planning Guide, Deborah Fowles, passed away Friday, February 23, 2007, after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer. Throughout her eight years as our Financial Planning Guide, Debby cherished the opportunities she had to connect with readers, to share down to earth advice, and to help those in need of financial guidance.

Her online work led to realization of a lifelong dream to become a published author, and her two books–”The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s and 30s Book” and “1000 Best Smart Money Secrets for Students”–have helped many young people establish solid financial skills.

My take: She always wrote in a very accessible, down-to-earth manner that the average reader could understand. It was always very clear that she cared about what she was doing and wasn’t ever mailing it in. She will be missed.

Bigger picture: It seems appropriate to note in light of other less civil events occurring this past weekend that you never know the full story of the person you’re criticizing, which is why if you’re going to criticize them, you go after the substance of what they have said or done (including its truth or lack thereof, or the differences between what they have said and what they have done), and the possible impact of what they have said or done, and not after them personally. I certainly haven’t been perfect at making the distinction, but heaven knows I’ve tried, and am not about to stop trying now.

Though I did criticize Ms. Fowles a couple of times for what I thought were less-than-complete prescriptions in her columns, I resisted what I have to admit was a temptation to cross a certain line that I don’t need to identify now. What a relief it is that I did not cross that line. It might be worthwhile to ask yourself before you hurl the next barb: “Would I be saying or writing the same thing if I knew this person had a terminal illness and only a few months to live?” The list of those who would hopefully say “no,” and should consider recasting what they are saying, writing, and doing, is very, very long and knows no ideological boundary.

The Washington Ratings Game, Part 1: National Journal Has Some Local Surprises

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:01 pm

Many of the think tanks and research outfits have weighed in, or are on the verge of doing so, with their evaluations of the 2006 voting performance of House and Senate members. This is the first in a series of posts that will look at them.

On Friday the National Journal published theirs. Their methodology was to look at 95 key roll call votes in the House and 82 in the Senate (after some filtering, which they explain), and to classify them as relating to either economic policy, social policy, or foreign policy. They gave each vote a “weight” of 3, 2, or 1, to indicate its relative importance in the policy area it was part of. Then, to finish it off:

Members were then ranked from the most liberal to the most conservative in each issue area. These rankings were used to assign liberal and conservative percentile ratings to all members of Congress.

The liberal percentile score means that the member voted more liberal than that percentage of his or her colleagues in that issue area in 2006. The conservative figure means that the member voted more conservative than that percentage of his or her colleagues.

The Journal’s results will upset some apple carts around here.

The way to read this ratings is to say “this person voted more conservatively than X% of his or her colleagues in the areas noted.”

In the Senate, here are the OH-KY-IN members rated on the conservative scale (Econ, Social, Foreign, Conservative Composite):

DeWine (R-OH) — 47, 47, 50, 49
Voinovich (R-OH) — 51, 54, 67, 59
Bunning (R-KY) — 88, 82, 92, 91.8
McConnell (R-KY) — 93, 69, 85, 84.3
Bayh (D-IN) — 13, 28, 35, 26.7
Lugar (R-IN) — 55, 51, 54, 54.3

Here are some other Senate “notables” (Conservative Composite only):

DeMint (R-SC) — 92.5
Dole (R-NC) — 80.7
Coburn (R-OK) — 78.8
Santorum (R-PA) — 70.3
McCain (R-AZ) — 56.7
Clinton (D-NY) — 29.8
Biden (D-DE) — 22.5
Kerry (D-MA) — 14
Obama (D-IL) — 14

Over in the House, here are the local area Members (Econ, Social, Foreign, Conservative Composite):

Boehner (R, OH08) — 98, 63, 73, 80
Chabot (R, OH01) — 65, 65, 67, 66.5
Schmidt (R, OH02) — 81, 79, 94, 86.8
Turner (R, OH03) — 71, 66, 73, 72
Davis (R, KY04) — 68, 70, 86, 76.7
Pence (R, IN06) — 77, 70, 94, 81.7
Sodrel (R, IN09) — 94, 85, 86, 90.7

Here are some other House “notables” (Conservative Composite only):

Hunter (R, CA52) — 84
Oxley (R, OH04) — 81
Tancredo (R, CO06) — 73.3
Shadegg (R, AZ03) — 70.2
Flake (R, AZ06) — 51.2
Murtha (D, PA12) — 40
Mollohan (D, WV01) — 39.8
Strickland (D, OH06) — 30.2
Brown (D, OH13) — 28.5
Hoyer (D, MD05) — 21.5
Kucinich (D, OH10) — 13
Pelosi (D, CA08) — 7.7

There are a few more surprises in the rankings than I want to (or have time to) specifically address, but I did want to get the info out for Tri-State area folks. I’ll also leave it to someone else to second-guess at a detail the National Journal’s vote selections and weightings, which on the surface look pretty reasonable to me.

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UPDATE: Cleveland Openers covered the National Journal’s rankings (HT Project Logic). Based on other info coming out later this week, I’m not ready to hang the label “most conservative member of the Ohio delegation” on Jean Schmidt just yet, as Project Logic has. But it should be noted that her foreign-policy conservative cred, which is not measured in many of the other ratings, is basically untouchable.

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Part 2: National Taxpayers Union Notes Little National Improvement
Part 3: Americans for Tax Reform — Local Congressional Delegation Gets Straight A’s
Part 4: Club for Growth
Part 5: American Conservative Union
- Consolidated Rankings for All Five Sources

Globaloney and Globalarmism: Consensus, Conschmensus

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:37 pm

In light of the growing intimidation of skeptics by financially conflicted globaloney globalarmists (HT Anchoress), it seems quite timely — indeed, important — to post this quaint little reminder:

….. over 17,000 scientists declare that global warming is a lie with no scientific basis whatsoever.

The global warming hypothesis has failed every relevant experimental test. It lives on only in the dreams of anti-technologists and population reduction advocates. The United States is very close to adopting an international agreement that would ration the use of energy and of technologies that depend upon coal, oil, and natural gas and some other organic compounds.

This (Kyoto) treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful.

If your mind isn’t closed and you’ve got the time, there’s a great 52-minute lecture here that busts the globaloney wide open. The lecturer isn’t Mr. Excitement, but that’s not the point.

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SPECIAL UPDATE, March 8: Especially in response to Comment 2 below and other disinfo, this description (HT Eye Hacker) of the signers and the nature of the project is worthy of note –

Signers of this petition also include 5,017 scientists whose fields of specialization in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and other life sciences ….. make them especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide upon the Earth’s plant and animal life.

Nearly all of the initial 17,100 scientist signers have technical training suitable for the evaluation of the relevant research data, and many are trained in related fields. In addition to these 17,100, approximately 2,400 individuals have signed the petition who are trained in fields other than science or whose field of specialization was not specified on their returned petition.

Of the 19,700 signatures that the project has received in total so far, 17,800 have been independently verified and the other 1,900 have not yet been independently verified. Of those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95% have now been independently verified.

The costs of this petition project have been paid entirely by private donations. No industrial funding or money from sources within the coal, oil, natural gas or related industries has been utilized. The petition’s organizers, who include some faculty members and staff of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, do not otherwise receive funds from such sources. The Institute itself has no such funding. Also, no funds of tax-exempt organizations have been used for this project.

The signatures and the text of the petition stand alone and speak for themselves. These scientists have signed this specific document. They are not associated with any particular organization. Their signatures represent a strong statement about this important issue by many of the best scientific minds in the United States.

I must officially “call BS” on Comment 2 and the source referred to (though of course not the commenter, who appears to be unfortunately duped, although I must add that I found no evidence of any podiatrists).

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UPDATE: More on how unhinged the “debate” (which of course globalarmists want to say is “settled” and therefore should be shut down) has become from the underlying data.

UPDATE 2: Anchoress (a)weighs in, and also via Kim at Wizbang, points to a British Channel 4 documentary on March 8 that promises to blast “The Great Global Warming Swindle.”

UPDATE 3: An unncessary (see comment 2 below) but “what the heck, I’ll do it anyway” challenge has in effect been issued to show climatologists and climate researchers who don’t buy into globaloney. Okey-dokey; in only 10 minutes or so the following names were found:

  • David Deming, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma and an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).
  • Timothy Ball, PhD in Climatology — “Global Warming, as we think we know it, doesn’t exist.”

Thomas Sowell identified a half dozen a few weeks ago without working up much of a sweat:

  • Dr. S. Fred Singer, who set up the American weather satellite system, and who published some years ago a book titled “Hot Talk, Cold Science.”
  • A professor of meteorology at MIT, Richard S. Lindzen
  • A professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, Patrick J. Michaels
  • A professor of climatology at the University of Delaware, David R. Legates
  • Skeptical experts in other countries around the world include Duncan Wingham, a professor of climate physics at the University College, London, and Nigel Weiss of Cambridge University.

Obviously all lightweights (/sarcasm).

UPDATE 3A, March 5: I know it’s not football season any more, but let’s just pile it on anyway (courtesy POS 51) from the NRSP (National Resources Stewardship Project) –

  • Dr. Ian Clark, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Tim Patterson, Professor of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa
  • Dr. Vincent Gray, Expert Reviewer for the IPCC and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of ‘Climate Change 2001′, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Dr. Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist and climate researcher, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Dr. Fred Michel, Director, Institute of Environmental Science and Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, Carleton University
  • Dr. R.M. Carter, Australia, Research Professor at James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide (South Australia)

UPDATE 4: A bonus — A Perspective on what 90% Certainty Means in Science

UPDATE 5: Second Bonus (HT The Other Club) — “Fire and Ice — Journalists have warned of climate change for 100 years, but can’t decide weather we face an ice age or warming.” That goes for scientists, too.

UPDATE 6, March 5: Here’s an interesting parallel, considering the comments in this post — Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics (HT NixGuy) skewers the “Jesus Tomb” claim and does it on this basis –

Scientific method demands a careful, systematic weighing of all the evidence, for and against. The documentarians have not done this. They have systematically ignored the unfavorable evidence: (1) they ignored those who should not be in the tomb, (2) they did not properly consider those who should be in the tomb; (3) they ignored the strong likelihood that Jesus could not be buried in the tomb. Their method is essentially, “Evidence that favors the theory is included. The rest is excluded.”

This is how a freak accident becomes a sure thing.

Let’s analogize, shall we?

Scientific method demands a careful, systematic weighing of all the evidence, for and against. Globalarmists have not done this. They have systematically ignored the unfavorable evidence (examples abound, including the Medieval Warm Period, the bogusness of the hockey stick, etc., etc. — Ed.). Their method is essentially, “Evidence that favors the theory is included. The rest is excluded.”

Now, back to Jay Cost for a paragraph that fits both scams to a T:

What they offer here is not science, but pseudo-science — polemic dressed in scientific language. Numbers and “tests” are trotted out, but only for the sake of appearance. The hypothesis is never actually in danger because the falsifying evidence is excised before the evaluation begins. In other words, the rules of the game are: heads they win, tails you lose. The game was rigged from the start.

This is how a possibly interesting theory becomes a sure thing.

UPDATE 7, March 5: The Canada Free Press site is being weighed down by a Drudge link that says “Prominent French Scientist Reverses Belief in Global Warming – Now a Skeptic…” UPDATE 7A: Okay now that the link is accessible

(Dr. Claude Allegre’s) break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in l’ Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro’s retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. “The cause of this climate change is unknown,” he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the “science is settled.”

Dr. Allegre’s skepticism is noteworthy in several respects. For one, he is an exalted member of France’s political establishment, a friend of former Socialist president Lionel Jospin, and, from 1997 to 2000, his minister of education, research and technology, charged with improving the quality of government research through closer co-operation with France’s educational institutions. For another, Dr. Allegre has the highest environmental credentials. The author of early environmental books, he fought successful battles to protect the ozone layer from CFCs and public health from lead pollution. His break with scientific dogma over global warming came at a personal cost: Colleagues in both the governmental and environmental spheres were aghast that he could publicly question the science behind climate change.

But Dr. Allegre had allegiances to more than his socialist and environmental colleagues. He is, above all, a scientist of the first order, the architect of isotope geodynamics, which showed that the atmosphere was primarily formed early in the history of the Earth, and the geochemical modeller of the early solar system. Because of his path-breaking cosmochemical research, NASA asked Dr. Allegre to participate in the Apollo lunar program, where he helped determine the age of the Moon. Matching his scientific accomplishments in the cosmos are his accomplishments at home: Dr. Allegre is perhaps best known for his research on the structural and geochemical evolution of the Earth’s crust and the creation of its mountains, explaining both the title of his article in l’ Express and his revulsion at the nihilistic nature of the climate research debate.

UPDATE 8, March 5: Last Thursday, Don Luskin (Smart Money, Blog) assigned partial blame for the early-week stock market decline to (with a bit of humor) …. Al Gore.

UPDATE 9, March 5: The National Post has a 13-part (at this point) series on “The Deniers,” of which the Allegre piece cited in Update 7A above is the latest.

UPDATE 10, March 6: A number of links that I have received from this Climate Audit post from last year remind me that much of the “science” supposedly backing up global warming has gone through an inadequate “peer review” process that, as noted in late 2005, is grievously deficient in fact-checking and disclosure, and therefore way, way short of being reliable.

UPDATE 11, March 6: There is a timely book, by Christopher C. Horner at the Competitive Enterprise Institute — “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism.” The publisher says that “This latest installment in the Politically Incorrect Guide series provides a provocative, entertaining, and well-documented expose of some of the most shamelessly politicized pseudo-science we are likely to see in our relatively cool lifetimes.”

UPDATE 12, March 7: Don Surber (HT Instapundit) detects globaloney affecting routine reports about weather extremes. If it’s very cold, even record-breaking cold, it doesn’t get attention outside the immediate area. If it’s warm, it’s tied to …. you know.

UPDATE 13, March 11: The Empire (Attempts to) Strike Back — by going stone-cold crazy with the predictions from “a draft of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press.” I believe the word “draft” will become important. We’ll see.

UPDATE 14, March 11: This was inevitable, given the hysteria — “Scientists threatened for ‘climate denial’.” Wait a minute: Why is this happening if there is “consensus”? Oh, and the only reason that outfits like the IPCC have “consensus” is that they expel those who don’t agree with the “consensus.”

UPDATE 15, March 12: And the “consensus”-busting goes on — this is from Philip Stott, an Emeritus Professor from the University of London, UK, who for the last 18 years was the editor of the Journal of Biogeography. In an opinion piece at ABC News, he makes huge points about concentrating on what’s important — and it’s not globaloney (bolds are mine):

Herein lies the moral danger behind global warming hysteria. Each day, 20,000 people in the world die of waterborne diseases. Half a billion people go hungry. A child is orphaned by AIDS every seven seconds. This does not have to happen. We allow it while fretting about “saving the planet.” What is wrong with us that we downplay this human misery before our eyes and focus on events that will probably not happen even a hundred years hence? We know that the greatest cause of environmental degradation is poverty; on this, we can and must act.

The global warming “crisis” is misguided. In hubristically seeking to “control” climate, we foolishly abandon age-old adaptations to inexorable change. There is no way we can predictably manage this most complex of coupled, nonlinear chaotic systems. The inconvenient truth is that “doing something” (emitting gases) at the margins and “not doing something” (not emitting gases) are equally unpredictable.

Climate change is a norm, not an exception. It is both an opportunity and a challenge. The real crises for 4 billion people in the world remain poverty, dirty water and the lack of a modern energy supply. By contrast, global warming represents an ecochondria of the pampered rich.

Sunday Is a Good Day to Bring in Australian Cardinal Pell on Globaloney

Filed under: Environment,Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 10:01 am

The Australian Archbishop of Sydney points to a fundamental lack of reason anchored by faith as one of the forces behind globaloney — and he’s right (HT Pro Ecclesia):

Scaremongers

….. A local newspaper editorial’s complaint about the doomsdayers’ religious enthusiasm is unfair to mainstream Christianity. Christians don’t go against reason although we sometimes go beyond it in faith to embrace probabilities. What we were seeing from the doomsdayers was an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition.

I am deeply skeptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence. I would be surprised if industrial pollution, and carbon emissions, had no ill effect at all. But enough is enough.

A few fixed points might provide some light. We know that enormous climate changes have occurred in world history, e.g. the Ice Ages and Noah’s flood, where human causation could only be negligible. Neither should it be too surprising to learn that the media during the last 100 years has alternated between promoting fears of a coming Ice Age and fear of global warming!

Terrible droughts are not infrequent in Australian history, sometimes lasting seven or eight years, as with the Federation Drought and in the 1930s. One drought lasted fourteen years.

We all know that a cool January does not mean much in the long run, but neither does evidence from a few years only. Scaremongers have used temperature fluctuations in limited periods and places to misrepresent longer patterns.

The evidence on warming is mixed, often exaggerated, but often reassuring. Global warming has been increasing constantly since 1975 at the rate of less than one fifth of a degree centigrade per decade. The concentration of carbon dioxide increased surface temperatures more in winter than in summer and especially in mid and high latitudes over land, while there was a global cooling of the stratosphere.

Rock on, Cardinal George Pell.

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UPDATE: Mark Steyn has a more, uh, irreverent look at globaloney, with the best explanation of Al Gore’s hypocritical self-dealing I’ve seen — plus good humor along for the ride. He also quoted an enviro leader who, like so many, is taken with a eco-religious fervor:

A couple of days before the Oscars, the Reverend Al gave a sell-out performance at the University of Toronto. “From my perspective, it is a form of religion,” said Bruce Crofts of the East Toronto Climate Action Group, who compared the former vice president to Jesus Christ, both men being (as the Globe And Mail put it) “great leaders who stepped forward when called upon by circumstance.”

Positivity: Miracle baby comes back from the dead

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:55 am

If this isn’t a miracle (the baby not only surviving but apparently in fine shape), I don’t know what is (HT Drudge):

Last updated at 16:02pm on 28th February 2007

After trying for 30 minutes to bring two-week-old Woody Lander back to life, doctors decided there was nothing more they could do and called in his parents to say their tearful farewells.

A nurse passed Woody to his heartbroken father and gently pulled a tube from his mouth so they could kiss him goodbye.

It was then that the miracle happened. The lifeless baby suddenly coughed and moved. Nurses immediately grabbed Woody back, re-attached the tubes and lifesaving equipment and he came back to life in front of his astonished parents.

No one has been able to explain why Woody, who had suffered a massive heart attack, was able to return from the brink. And despite being starved of oxygen for so long, he appears to have suffered no permanent brain damage.

Now 14 months old, Woody is a happy-go-lucky youngster who should be able to lead a normal life. His parents Jon, 34, and Karen Lander, 32, still can’t believe what they went through.

They had been shopping in a supermarket near their home in Leeds in December 2005 when they noticed Woody looked ashen and felt cold.

They rang the NHS Direct emergency line from their car and an ambulance was sent to take them to Leeds General Infirmary. Soon after arrival, he suffered a heart attack and stopped breathing.

Mr Lander and his wife, an administration worker, were taken to a room to see Woody on a bed and a doctor giving him heart massage. They were taken to another room to wait for news.

Mr Lander, a civil servant, recalled: “It was awful, those 30 minutes seemed to last forever. After what seemed like an eternity the doctor came out and said, ‘I think we have done all we can’. They had reached the cut-off point for resuscitation.

“We were taken back to see him and Woody was handed to us to say goodbye. We were just in bits. We didn’t know what to say or do. They started taking his tubes out and that’s when he started twitching.
“They took him straight back off us. They managed to get his heart going again and he came back to life in front of us. It was amazing. We still don’t know how he managed to come round – we just know he’s a little miracle. He’s growing up into a happy and healthy little boy.”

Two weeks before the drama Woody, the couple’s first child, had been born naturally at the hospital, weighing 7lb 11oz.

After the heart attack, doctors discovered he had a blocked aorta which was restricting blood flow to his heart. He underwent a major operation to repair it and was allowed home three weeks later.

Mr Lander added: “The doctors said they had never heard of anyone coming round after 30 minutes of apparent lifelessness, let alone a baby.

“But the people at the hospital were unbelievable. They made the miracle happen. There must have been 100 people gathered round him.”