August 6, 2008

Follow-up on Obama’s ‘Tired’ Claim: Cliff’s Notes Version for Old Media (See ‘Speculative’ Update Below)

This Old Media fact-checker overview follows up on yesterday’s more detailed post, and makes mince meat of the “tired” claims of fuel and oil savings Barack Obama is still bitterly clinging to. Go back to that post for original links.

Here goes:

  • “….. all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling” Obama refers to is NOT just the 200,000 additional barrels obtainable from the “Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions.” Republican proposals also include Alaska, shale oil, and tar sands.
  • Just including Alaska coastal at very conservative extraction assumptions leads to a potential of almost 1 million barrels of oil a day instead of only 200,000.
  • Fully ramped-up production from shale oil and tar sands at very conservative extraction assumptions would lead to a potential of another 27 million (you read that right) barrels a day.
  • The potential savings from proper tire inflation and tune-ups, which would improve fleetwide gas mileage by at most 2%, would be about 120,000 barrels a day, as only 30% of the nation’s 20 million barrels per day oil usage goes towards gasoline for vehicles. (2% times 30% times 20 million equals 120,000.) The remaining usage is 40% for other transportation (trucks using diesel, aviation, and trains) and 30% for non-transportation uses.
  • This 120,000 barrels in potential savings (which I believe is STILL higher than realistically achievable), is only 60% of the additional oil obtainable from “Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions,” about 12% of what is obtainable from all US coasts, and less than 1% of what is obtainable from all sources, including shale and tar sands.
  • The idea that proper tire inflation and tune-ups could reduce daily oil consumption by 800,000 barrels, or 4% of ALL oil usage, as Obama defenders are claiming, is absurd on its face.

_____________________________________

UPDATE: The PolitiFact post defending Obama’s “tired” claims has this claim –

The best estimate available, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is that at least a quarter of drivers are cruising around on under-inflated tires. In April, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the Auto Club, the California Highway Patrol and Yokohama Tire Company used those statistics, along with Department of Transportation and Automobile Association of America data, to extrapolate that 2.8-billion gallons of gas are lost every year due to under-inflation of tires.

That’s an estimate, to be sure, and not one from a published, peer-reviewed study. But remember, Obama said we “could” save all the oil available from offshore drilling in the protected areas — not we “would” — so if the claim is merely plausible he’s on solid ground.

But go back to the original link, and notice how the verb changed:

“Current statistics indicate that 82 million vehicles have under-inflated tires, which means more rubber is hitting the road and, accordingly, miles-per-gallon is lessened. In fact, tire experts speculate that 2.8 billion gallons of gas is wasted by U.S. drivers each year simply because they’re driving on under-inflated tires.”

SPECULATE?

SPECULATE?

That’s a far cry from “extrapolate.”

According to Wiki, there were just under 251 million registered vehicles in the US in 2006. 82 divided by 260 (to allow for a little growth and a number of unregistered vehicles) is 31.5%, NOT “at least a quarter.” Sorry, speculators; that 2.8 billion gallons just dropped to 2.22 billion (2.8 times 25 divided by 31.5).

Now divide 2.22 billion by 19.5 gallons of gas obtained from each barrel of oil, and then by 365.25 days in a year, and you get 309,000 barrels a day supposedly saved through better tire inflation.

That is still (numbers are in the previous post):

  • less than one-third of the at least 986,000 daily barrels obtainable from all coastal drilling.
  • barely more than 1% of the 28 million-plus daily barrels obtainable from all sources — the coasts, shale, and tar sands.

Sorry, PolitiFact is Politi-Cracked.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, RIP; He Set the Table for Reagan, John Paul II, and Walesa

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:12 pm

Note: This was originally posted at Pajamas Media on Monday. Also see this previous BizzyBlog post announcing the column for related commentary and updates.

___________________________________________________

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the literary works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died Sunday at age 89.

At the same time, without diminishing their importance, as well as his courageous personal example, it is too easy to exaggerate Solzhenitsyn’s role in defeating the historically unprecedented tyranny that was the Soviet Union.

After all, the legendary author won his Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.”

Solzhenitsyn’s seminal work, the three-volume Gulag Archipelago, was published near the end of 1973. Solzhenitsyn’s obituary in the New York Times describes it this way:

“Gulag” was a monumental account of the Soviet labor camp system, a chain of prisons that by Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s calculation some 60 million people had entered during the 20th century. The book led to his expulsion from his native land. George F. Kennan, the American diplomat, described it as “the greatest and most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever to be leveled in modern times.”

Solzhenitsyn’s invaluable and irreplaceable contribution to mankind was to unmask the fundamentally heinous and evil nature of Marxist-Leninist Communism for all who wished to comprehend it. His exposure of the truth about the Soviet Union’s history, its living conditions, and its fundamental tenets of oppression and repression, set the table for those who would have the courage to confront and defeat it.

Many, sadly, had no such desire to comprehend, or to confront.

In the US, a man who felt that “detente” was the way to deal with ruthless thugs was elected president just three years after “Gulag’s” release.

Seven years later, the next president, Ronald Reagan, elicited a tidal wave of outrage when he very accurately called the Soviet regime “the focus of evil in the modern world.”

To make his case throughout his presidency, Reagan invoked Solzhenitsyn and other Soviet dissidents early, often, and to powerful effect. Ultimately, and without firing a shot, Reagan, Pope Paul II, and Lech Walesa, with considerable assistance from the American union movement and Margaret Thatcher, all stepped up and so weakened the evil empire that, by the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was forced to release its grip as its satellites demanded it.

A stumbled-upon story from the May 31, 1988 New York Times shows just how relentless Reagan was.

1988 was the last year of his administration, but there was no coasting. Reagan went to Moscow for a summit with media darling Mikhail Gorbachev. While there:

Reagan …. publicly clashed over human rights issues ….. quoting Alexander Solzhenitsyn, appealed for increased civil and religious liberties in the Soviet Union.

….. From the gilded halls of the Kremlin to the white-walled compound of the Danilov Monastery, Mr. Reagan used his first visit to the Soviet Union and his fourth meeting with Mr. Gorbachev to campaign for greater freedom.

….. Mr. Reagan’s comments here are the most sustained criticism of internal Soviet policies by a foreign visitor since Mr. Gorbachev assumed power in March 1985, and raised potentially sensitive political problems for the Soviet leader as he faces an important Communist Party meeting next month.

….. Mr. Gorbachev’s remarks about ”sermonizing” were apparently made in response to a meeting earlier in the day between Mr. Reagan and a group of dissidents at Spaso House, the residence of the American Ambassador.

….. At the meeting, described by the White House as a gathering of ”selected Soviet citizens,” Mr. Reagan said Moscow has made progress on human rights in recent years but still falls short of acceptable international standards for freedom of religion, speech and travel.

Many of those in attendance were Soviet Jews who have been denied permission to emigrate to the West.

”I’ve come to Moscow with this human rights agenda because, as I suggested, it is our belief that this is a moment of hope,” Mr. Reagan told the gathering at Spaso House, where he and his wife, Nancy, are staying during their five-day visit.

….. Addressing a group of (the Danilov Monastery’s) monks and church leaders who were dressed in the traditional black robes and cylindrical caps of the church, Mr. Reagan used the words of Mr. Solzhenitsyn as he called for a renewal of religious faith in the Soviet Union.

Reagan never let up on the pressure, even near the end of his term. Gorbachev, contrary to the fawning media portrayals, was dragged kicking and screaming every step of the way.

If we would have continued to listen to those who wished to “accommodate” this evil empire, the world would be a much different and much more dangerous place.

Evil empires don’t just “fail,” as some historical revisionists would have it. For proof of that, one only needs to look at North Korea and Cuba. The people in those two countries are arguably in a worse economic situation than the Soviet Union as a whole ever was. Their intrinsic evil is clearly visible to all who will open their eyes. Yet those dictatorships have not, and will not, collapse on their own.

Sadly, no one has had the courage mustered by Reagan et al against the Soviet Union to deal similarly with these two rogue nations.

Perhaps a president who spent five years in a North Vietnamese gulag will.

Solzhenitsyn had something to say about that war, too:

….. the most cruel mistake occurred with the failure to understand the Vietnam war. Some people sincerely wanted all wars to stop just as soon as possible; others believed that there should be room for national, or communist, self-determination in Vietnam, or in Cambodia, as we see today with particular clarity. But members of the U.S. anti-war movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear?

Their responsibility, and their preference not to hear, continue to this day.

It is telling that Ronald Reagan’s name is nowhere to be found in Solzhenitsyn’s New York Times obit.

Worldwide AIDs Progress: No Credit to Bush, No Matter What

Filed under: Health Care,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:42 am

E-mailer Gary Hall sent me a link to a July 30 LA Times article about how worldwide AIDS deaths are down 10%.

In discussing the improvement, it’s hysterical in one sense, but very sad in another, to watch how Times Staff Writer Thomas H. Maugh II studiously avoided using the word “abstinence” (the A-word), which does not appear even once in his entire piece.

Just to be sure no reader could possibly leave the article thinking that the current administration has contributed to an overall improvement, Maugh pointed to the increased prevalance of AIDS in the US African-American community, and gave antagonistic spokespersons free rein to criticize an alleged lack of urgency without a countervailing response.

First, here’s a sample of Maugh’s A-word avoidance (noted in bold):

Condom use and prevention efforts increased in many countries and adolescent sexual intercourse declined in some of the most heavily affected regions, the report says.

“In a surprisingly short period of time, there has been a tripling of prevention efforts in some countries,” said Dr. Paul De Lay, director of evaluation for UNAIDS.

….. Condom use among people with multiple sexual partners is increasing, and young people are waiting longer to have sexual intercourse, the report says. In seven of the countries most affected by the pandemic — all in Africa — the percentage of young people having sex before the age of 15 has dropped from 35% to 14%.

I wrote back in April that Bush Administration anti-AIDS efforts in Africa were achieving remarkable progress, that few were acknowledging it, and that even fewer were inclined to give the administration even a tiny amount of credit, let alone admit that relatively inexpensive abstinence education has been a major factor in improvements on that continent.

My take then on journalists’ refusal to properly credit Bush certainly holds true with Maugh’s reporting:

Now I get it: George Bush isn’t getting much praise because he has violated a central tenet of Old Media concerning sexually transmitted diseases: Condoms uber alles. Journalists’ seemingly innate hostility towards anything that might be labeled a faith-based initiative doesn’t help either.

Maugh didn’t even bother to give out the name of the President’s initiative, PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), even though it is almost certainly the single largest source of worldwide anti-AIDS funding.

The LA Times writer then falsely, and in my opinion cruelly, turned the worldwide improvement into a domestic indictment, even quoting a tax scofflaw who presumably still owes Uncle Sam millions:

But those gains abroad come at the expense of African Americans, according to another report issued Tuesday by the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.

….. Only four countries outside sub-Saharan Africa have a higher prevalence of HIV infection than the estimated 2% among blacks in the U.S., he added. Blacks account for 1 of 8 Americans but 1 of 2 HIV infections in the country.

“U.S. policymakers seem to be much more interested in the epidemic in Botswana than the epidemic in Louisiana,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, chief executive of the National Action Network. “This is an unnecessary and deadly choice. Both need urgent attention.”

C’mon, Mr. Maugh (and those quoted). Does anyone with a brain seriously believe that there’s a shortage of education about AIDS in this country (unlike the others) — in homes, in schools, in churches, on TV, or in the rest of the media? With all of that, whose fault is it if people won’t do what’s necessary to avoid contracting HIV and AIDS?

Maugh’s work is of a piece with what appears to be a disgraceful Old Media determination that George W. Bush not receive any credit of any kind for any accomplishment during his administration. If it happens, don’t report it. If someone else reports it, minimize its importance. If that’s not enough, don’t give any credit, and be sure to point to supposed “failures” elsewhere, even if you have to pull them out of your posterior.

I am beyond sick and tired of it. This is one of many areas where historians will have their work cut out for them setting the record straight. Contemporaneous Old Media reports certainly haven’t.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (080608, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 8:42 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • I hung on to this Hot Air link from a couple of weeks ago. In it, Captain Ed Morrissey speculated that maltreatment of reporters by the increasing arrogant campaign of “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) might lead to a falling out and some less adulatory reporting.
    Has anyone seen any signs of that yet in Old Media? Didn’t think so.
  • Al Gore, call your office — “The new findings will add to fears of a serious risk of this (a new Ice Age) happening again in the UK and western Europe – and soon.”
  • Great points are made by James Pethokoukis at his US News “Capital Commerce” blog — “How General Petraeus Saved the U.S. Economy.” No wonder the Dems dislike Petreaus so much.
  • Separately, Pethokoukis hurled out this gem on Monday (bold is mine) — “The ’90s expansion was really two expansions. After the 1993 Clinton tax increases, the economy grew 3.2 percent—a so-so performance coming out of the 1990-91 recession. (By the way, the four quarters of 1992 saw GDP growth of 4.0 percent, 3.9 percent, 4.0 percent, 4.5 percent, so the Clinton economic team really started out on third but somehow think they hit a triple.) But after the 1997 cap gains cut, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 4.2 percent. When people refer to the ’90s economic boom, it’s really the 1997-2000 era that they’re taking about.”
  • Unbelievable — “Coburn renews battle with Ethics over baby deliveries.” That’s FREE baby deliveries. I dare someone to articulate a coherent reason why this is an ethical problem. I believe that the “problem” is that it is a powerful, positive example.
  • Hey Rahm Emanuel, Russ Harding of the Makinac Center and I have an answer to this (“Emanuel Asks McCain to ‘Clarify’ Stance on Great Lakes Oil Drilling”) — Drill in the Great Lakes, ASAP. Michigan’s and Ohio’s economies would both benefit. Did you notice that each state could use something, from somewhere? Memo to recent coastal drilling convert and still Great Lakes drilling opponent George Voinovich: Read Harding’s analysis and come on board. The water’s fine, and it will stay fine.
  • Noted “non-person” and Second Amendment scholar Brain Shavings has e-mailed this link to get this free bumper sticker (with a self-addressed, stamped envelope) –

    NoBamaBumperSticker0808

    Good idea. Get an extra one to make up for me. In some parts where I travel, such a sticker would make me a likely candidate for a keying treatment I can ill afford.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (080608, Morning)

Bob at One Bob’s Opinion picked up on a Wall Street Journal story (may require subscription) about Wal-Mart’s fears that an Obama presidency would lead to the enactment of the fraudulently named Employee Free Choice Act.

The proposed law has nothing to do with “free choice.” Instead, it’s a union-led ploy to subvert the will of workers through coercion, to get around the process of free and fair elections, and to repudiate one of the most important and hard-won legacies of FDR.

Previous related BizzyBlog posts are here, here, here, here, and here.

______________________________________________________

Following up on my July BizzyBlog/Pajamas Media column on the chronic overestimation of the number of homeless in the USWarren Todd Huston at NewsBusters (mirrored here; HT E-mailer Dan Scott) answered a question I’ve been wondering about, namely, “Why hasn’t the press been writing the usual ‘homelessness growing’ stories that multiply like rabbits during Republican administrations?”

Answer: Homelessness is way down. Oh, and the number of chronically homeless, or the total number of homeless regardless of how defined, isn’t anywhere near the 1.5 million – 3 million claimed by “advocates”:

The number of chronically homeless people living in the nation’s streets and shelters has dropped by about 30 percent — from 175,914 to 123,833 — from 2005 to 2007, Bush administration officials said on Tuesday.

….. officials ….. attribute much of the decline to a policy shift promoted by Congress and the administration that has focused federal and local resources on finding stable housing for homeless people suffering from drug addiction, mental illness or physical disabilities, long deemed the hardest to help in the homeless population.

….. Nationally, chronically homeless people account for about 18 percent of the homeless population.

Do the math: 123,833 is 18% of ….. 688,000, NOT 1.5 million to 3 million.

Even that stat stretches the definition of “homeless” to the breaking point, as seen in this paragraph:

Some advocates for the homeless criticized the administration’s focus on the chronically homeless, saying that homeless families and those who live on the margins — in motels or doubled up with friends and family — are falling behind.

Oh for cryin’ out loud. A divorcee with a child or two who has just moved back in with mom and dad is “homeless” under this definition. So are immigrant families, many of whom stay together in motels or doubled up (or more) in apartments or single-family homes for an extended time period voluntarily (i.e., they’re not looking for alternative living arrangements, even though they could afford them).

As I said in the column, the number of truly “homeless” — before the “advocates” play their word games — is no more than a few hundred thousand. Advocates need to focus on getting those who truly need it all the necessary help, and stop inflating the problem.

Huston also properly notes that media credit given to the Bush Administration has been relatively sparse, though the initiatives clearly were put into place under initiatives passed by a previous GOP Congress and aggressively carried out by the Bush bureaucracy.

________________________________________________

This excerpt is just one small example of why, in a fair and balanced media world, Michelle Malkin would long since have won a Pulitzer for commentary:

What America’s daughters need to know about Nancy Pelosi

While Madame Speaker advises America’s daughters to “never draw a line in the sand,” she refuses to return to Washington and allow up-or-down votes on Republican energy proposals.

While Madame Speaker advises America’s daughters “to defend your position with facts,” she has demonstrated blinking ignorance about the price of gas in her own district and the laws of supply and demand.

While Madame Speaker advises America’s daughters to “treat one another in a civil way,” she has resorted to business-as-usual demagoguery against her ideological opponents. Over the weekend, Pelosi jeered at the conservative revolt on the House floor last week to object to the Democrats’ five-week recess as “a war dance of the handmaidens of the oil companies.”

….. Nancy Pelosi’s real lesson for America’s daughters: Women in power are just as capable of mastering Washington double talk, blame avoidance, and partisan hackery as men.

Imagine that.

__________________________________________

Mickey Kaus makes a lot of great points (HT Allah at Hot Air, who excerpts an additional one) about the media near-silence on the John Edwards possible/probable love child situation. Among them:

It’s silly to say “he’s just a private citizen”–he’s much less of a “private citizen” than, say, William Bennett was in 2003 when Jonathan Alter and Joshua Green torpedoed (Bill) Bennett’s (potential government) career by revealing his gambling habits.

If a politician whose chief appeal is his self-advertised loyalty to his brave, ill wife cheats on his brave ill wife, what’s he good for again? And if Edwards’ crucial talent as a public official is his ability to move people with tearjerky anecdotes, and those anecdotes (like the tale of his spousal loyalty, or the girl with no coat, or the anecdote that reportedly made John Kerry queasy about him)–turn out to be BS or half BS, that’s more than random hypocrisy, It goes to the core of what he does and what he claims to offer. …..

I think Old Media wants to preserve Edwards’s potential political viability for possible near-term Cabinet positions or another presidential run, and hopes that all of this will somehow fade into oblivion. They’re holding out for the idea that an extended JFK-like coverup can work. I doubt it.

Positivity: Even out of uniform, he’s still a lifesaver

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Colonie, NY:

First published: Saturday, July 26, 2008

Maybe it’s because John McGlone saves lives for a living, but what he did Tuesday doesn’t strike him as particularly impressive.

While most people were downing their morning coffee or crawling down the Northway or daydreaming about spending a day at the track, the 49-year-old off-duty Albany firefighter was settling into a class at Bruno Tostes’ Brazilian jujitsu academy.

Guest instructor Peter Andres, who had been demonstrating moves solo in front of the class, crumpled to the floor of the martial arts school at Latham Circle Mall. Hardly breathing, if at all. No discernible pulse. In trouble.

Tostes said it’s not unusual for people to go down hard in jujitsu, even briefly lose consciousness.

Typically, “in a matter of five to 10 seconds, the guy comes back,” Tostes said. “But with Pete it was different.”

When Andres, 59, of Nassau, didn’t quickly revive, McGlone, a 15-year veteran of the Albany Fire Department who is assigned to Ladder 4 on Delaware Avenue, did what the city trained him to do.

With the help of another student, he began CPR.

The 911 call came into Colonie Public Safety headquarters at 8:19 a.m. Paramedics were on the way but McGlone had to buy time.

His modesty renders him reluctant to discuss the incident at all: McGlone understatedly said that maybe the most unusual thing about the whole sequence was that he didn’t have his standard equipment. He said it couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of minutes and seems like a blur now.

But Andres was breathing when he left with Colonie EMS workers. He had a pulse, and a shot at life.

“They did such a good job with CPR that, as they were doing CPR, the patient was breathing on his own,” said Colonie EMS Chief Jon Politis.

Since 2006, his department has aggressively sought to increase the ranks of Colonie residents who know the life-saving technique by using a quicker, more accessible training program known as CPR Anytime.

With cardiac arrest, time is life. Ninety-five percent of people stricken outside the hospital never make it there, according to the American Heart Association, and CPR done correctly by a bystander can double a victim’s chance of survival.

McGlone praised the quick response by Colonie EMS. “It’s a good example of how CPR works if you’re right on the spot,” McGlone said. “I think it’s definitely good for people to learn it.”

But Tostes said it was more than just being in the right spot at the right time. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.