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Archive for January 2nd, 2012

Joining the cutting edge…three years after it was the cutting edge

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:45 am by HL

Joining the cutting edge…three years after it was the cutting edge
The thing that is telling is that everything that comes out of Santorum’s mouth, including the “and” and “the” is full-on nutter. But what matters to the supplier of FoxNews is that it is repeated the same way and constantly.

Look who has joined the Twitterati:

Yes, and he has a lovely phone manner.

The thing that is telling is that everything that comes out of Santorum’s mouth, including the “and” and “the” is full-on nutter.  But what matters to the supplier of FoxNews is that it is repeated the same way and constantly.

The other day a friend summed up this requirement of the Republican Base as suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Effect, making poor decisions and unable to recognize they are doing so.

And maybe Republicans are more prone to that problem…although it does seem an affliction of both Parties.


Chris Hedges Lays It All Out

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:44 am by HL

Chris Hedges Lays It All Out
C-SPAN goes in-depth with Chris Hedges during this three-hour interview, probing the author’s entire body of work. It is a comprehensive and fascinating discussion with one of the most important reporters on what he characterizes as our collapsing corporate empire. Hedges’ column returns next Monday.

C-SPAN goes in-depth with Chris Hedges during this three-hour interview, probing the author’s entire body of work. It is a comprehensive and fascinating discussion with one of the most important reporters on what he characterizes as our collapsing corporate empire. Hedges’ column returns next Monday.

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Stealth PAC Serves Romney in Iowa
Observers credit a spate of attack ads for Newt Gingrich’s recent tumble—and Mitt Romney’s rise—in Iowa polls ahead of the state’s Republican caucus. But where did they come from? Not Romney’s campaign, but rather a PAC staffed by former Romney insiders and empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling to spend as much as it likes to destroy his opponents. Dissociation from the group allows Romney to avoid the usual backlash inflicted by the use of political attack ads: The public doesn’t immediately connect him with attempts to smear the competition. —ARK The New York Times: [N]either Mr. Romney nor his staff has had to lift a finger or spend a dollar to make it happen. In a stark illustration of how last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has created powerful new channels for outside money to influence elections, the negative onslaught is the work of a group called Restore Our Future. The most prominent of the “super PACs,” which can accept unlimited donations for purposes of supporting or attacking candidates, it operates independently of the Romney campaign but under the direction of former Romney aides who do not need to be told what the candidate needs. … The result: Mr. Romney has effectively outsourced his negative advertising to a group that has raised millions of dollars from his donors to inundate his opponents with attacks — all without breaking the rules that forbid super PACs to explicitly coordinate with candidates. Polls showed Mr. Gingrich’s support in Iowa tumbling immediately after the Restore Our Future ads began running in early December. An NBC News/Marist poll released Friday showed a 19 percentage point increase over the last month, to 35 percent, in the number of likely Republican caucusgoers who said they judged Mr. Gingrich to be unacceptable as the party’s nominee. Read more

Observers credit a spate of attack ads for Newt Gingrich’s recent tumble—and Mitt Romney’s rise—in Iowa polls ahead of the state’s Republican caucus. But where did they come from? Not Romney’s campaign, but rather a PAC staffed by former Romney insiders and empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling to spend as much as it likes to destroy his opponents.

Dissociation from the group allows Romney to avoid the usual backlash inflicted by the use of political attack ads: The public doesn’t immediately connect him with attempts to smear the competition. —ARK

The New York Times:

[N]either Mr. Romney nor his staff has had to lift a finger or spend a dollar to make it happen. In a stark illustration of how last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has created powerful new channels for outside money to influence elections, the negative onslaught is the work of a group called Restore Our Future.

The most prominent of the “super PACs,” which can accept unlimited donations for purposes of supporting or attacking candidates, it operates independently of the Romney campaign but under the direction of former Romney aides who do not need to be told what the candidate needs.

… The result: Mr. Romney has effectively outsourced his negative advertising to a group that has raised millions of dollars from his donors to inundate his opponents with attacks — all without breaking the rules that forbid super PACs to explicitly coordinate with candidates. Polls showed Mr. Gingrich’s support in Iowa tumbling immediately after the Restore Our Future ads began running in early December. An NBC News/Marist poll released Friday showed a 19 percentage point increase over the last month, to 35 percent, in the number of likely Republican caucusgoers who said they judged Mr. Gingrich to be unacceptable as the party’s nominee.

Read more

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Robert Kuttner: Social Security: Secure With Obama?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:43 am by HL

Robert Kuttner: Social Security: Secure With Obama?
The Republicans handed President Obama a nice tactical victory when they caved-in and agreed to extend the payroll tax cut on Obama’s terms. But the extension deal is only for two months, which means the battle will be fought all over again in February. You could say this is double-stupidity on the Republicans’ part, since the public will be treated yet again to a debate in which the Democrats want to tax millionaires in order to spare working people a tax hike, while Republicans defend the very rich and demand further cuts in valued programs as the price of avoiding a tax increase on ordinary Americans. But maybe it’s Democrats who have set themselves a trap. What if the president’s nice partisan victory is actually hollow, or even Pyrrhic?

John Bruhns: Why Voters Need a Third Party Option
Americans can no longer afford to be forced to choose between the lesser of two evil candidates who pit the private sector against the public sector, set the rich against the poor, and maintain a climate of political and social unrest.

Romney More Confident, But Still Searching For Common Touch
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — If it wasn’t Mitt Romney, you might call it swagger. This is something different. The hair is still perfect. His shirts…

Lincoln Mitchell: How Obama Can Win in 2012
With Romney as the Republican nominee, Obama will have a serious opponent. There are, however, several things which could break Obama’s way, and over which the campaign has some control.

Joseph A. Palermo: Five Right-Wing Political Obstacles That Must Be Sidelined
The first midterm election in the post-Citizens United universe was a Republican rout. Going into 2012 I fear that the smug predictions of an inevitable Obama reelection are premature.


To Frack Or Not To Frack: New York Enters The Next Round Of The Drilling Debate

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:42 am by HL

To Frack Or Not To Frack: New York Enters The Next Round Of The Drilling Debate
One side points to videos of people setting their tap water on fire. The other looks to an economic boom in Pennsylvania. But New Yorkers in general are mostly split on whether to lift a moratorium on hydrofracking in the…

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NRA’s Fundraising Growing Quickly As They Gear Up To Defeat Obama
As the National Rifle Association sets its sights on keeping President Barack Obama from a second term in the White House, a new report finds that the group’s fundraising grew twice as fast as its income from membership dues from 2004 to 2010. Bloomberg News reported that the group received $71.1 million in donations last year, up 54 percent from the $46.3 million figure they raised in 2004.


Memo from The Soros Society of Socialist Islamo-Atheists

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:39 am by HL

Memo from The Soros Society of Socialist Islamo-Atheists


Kids, Minivans, and Drug-Dealing: How the Recession Pulls Ordinary Families Into the Weed Game

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:38 am by HL

Kids, Minivans, and Drug-Dealing: How the Recession Pulls Ordinary Families Into the Weed Game
Struggling to keep their house and feed their kids, a California family goes from typical to criminal.

Montana High Court Says ‘Citizens United’ Does Not Apply In Big Sky State
State Supreme Court Issues Remarkable Ruling Against Corporate Speech

Can Gift Exchange Fix the Problems of Capitalism and Rebuild our Lost Community?
The reclamation of the gift-based commonwealth not only hastens the collapse of a growth-dependent money system, it also mitigates its severity.


Palestine’s Economic Hallucination

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:37 am by HL

Palestine’s Economic Hallucination
It’s the end of the year and time to turn the page after a bit of reflecting. What better way to reflect than to contrast image and reality, and even more so when the topic is Palestine’s economy? For starters,…

Obama in Kansas
I’m ready to wager that when the campaign of 2012 is all over, President Obama’s speech yesterday in Osawatomie, Kansas will be seen as the turning point that led to his victory in November 2012. Readers of this blog know…

An Offer To The President
Mr. President, we heard what you said last week in Kansas – about the dangers to our economy and democracy of the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top. We agree. And many of us are prepared to…


Confabulation at Climate Cynics? Confab

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:36 am by HL

Confabulation at Climate Cynics? Confab
by Mark Boslough, cross-posted from Real Climate The Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change was held during Halloween week. It was most notable for the breadth of opinion — and the span of credibility — of its speakers. I have long complained about the lack of willingness of most contrarians to […]

Lord Monckton

by Mark Boslough, cross-posted from Real Climate

The Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change was held during Halloween week. It was most notable for the breadth of opinion — and the span of credibility — of its speakers. I have long complained about the lack of willingness of most contrarians to attend and present their arguments at mainstream scientific conferences. After three years of convening climate-related sessions at AGU, I have yet to receive an abstract that argues against anthropogenic global warming. Such presentations can usually only be seen at conferences held by the Heartland Institute. There isn’t much chance of a mainstream scientist attending a meeting organized by a political think tank known for its anti-science activism, so opportunities for interaction between the groups are rare.

The conference was the third in a series (the first was held in Halifax ten years ago) that actively solicits participation from conventional scientists as well as those on the fringes. Organized by the Center for Nonlinear Studies of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with co-sponsorship from the International Arctic Research Center, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the meeting has sufficient credibility to attract speakers like Richard Peltier and Gerald North, while also providing the podium to Christopher Monckton and Don Easterbrook. Travel grants from LANL were provided to assist some of the speakers.

It quickly became apparent that the meeting would be run with a firm, no-nonsense approach to confrontation. In my original abstract, I used the term “contrarian,” which I have always considered to be a polite, non-judgmental descriptive term. Petr Chylek, LANL Laboratory Fellow and chair of the conference program committee responded by telling me, “I would like to ask you for some revision. The designations like ‘contrarians, skeptics, deniers, etc.’ may be offensive to some scientists present. Perhaps you can re-write your abstract and your presentation without using such words.” Fair enough, given the potential for contentiousness. Later, a generalized request went to all speakers: “Please, do not use any demeaning labels like deniers, contrarians, warmers, alarmists, … Please, stick to science. Stay away from personal attacks on other scientists present or not.”

I was disappointed, however, that the poster abstract I submitted with Lloyd Keigwin (WHOI), “Misrepresentations of Sargasso Sea Temperatures by Global Warming Doubters,” was rejected. This abstract was essentially the same material we presented at last year’s GSA meeting in Denver, and revealed the fact that a graph in Lloyd’s 1996 Science paper had been redrawn for the paper “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” by Arthur Robinson and coauthors. Some of the original data on Lloyd’s graph had been removed and replaced by fabricated data, apparently in an attempt to argue that temperatures are lower now than the 3000-year average. The doctored version of the graph has been used repeatedly in opinion pieces and was reprinted by Fred Singer in the NIPCC report. It is arguably one of the most widely reproduced graphs in contrarian literature, and in one form was sent out to tens of thousands of scientists to solicit signatures for the so-called “Oregon petition”.

Petr Chylek, explaining his reason for rejection, said, “This Conference is not a suitable forum for type of presentations described in submitted abstract. We would accept a paper that spoke to the science, the measurements, the interpretation, but not simply an attempted refutation of someone else’s assertions (especially when made in unpublished reports and blog site).” Of course, I’m not sure that a correction by the author of a graph that has been improperly reproduced in the primary contrarian literature is not the same thing as an “attempted refutation”.

The first day of the conference was buzzing with news of Richard Muller’s announcement of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) results. Just a week earlier, he had published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, titled, “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism (There were good reasons for doubt, until now)”. Then, only one day before the conference, David Rose of the Daily Mail broke a supposed “scandal”: “Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague”. Muller’s coauthor, Judith Curry, was quoted saying, “There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped. To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.” This story was picked up by Fox News and the narrative that spread throughout the blogosphere was that “Curry has turned on Muller.”

Reading about climate change in the mainstream media — let alone on blogs — can be like looking at reality in a funhouse mirror. When Muller got up to discuss the BEST results on Tuesday morning, the first thing he did was point out that the title of the WSJ piece did not come from him. His original title was “Cooling the Global Warming Debate.” But since his name was under the title he didn’t write, it was automatically attributed to him, as a direct quote. In fact he said, he had been misquoted more times since this was published than he had in the rest of his life. The Daily Mail/Fox News story seemed just as distorted. If Curry and Muller had a major scientific disagreement, wouldn’t a scientific conference be the appropriate place for the debate? If they were at loggerheads over the fundamental question of whether “global warming hasn’t stopped” wouldn’t one of them have mentioned it? They each gave two presentations, and this never came up in public or in any conversation I was aware of.

The conference was remarkably well run. For the most part, participants were well behaved and adhered to Petr Chylek’s strict rules—avoiding inflammatory terms, and steering away from personal attacks and interruptions. The one exception was Judith Curry, who apparently did not get the memo. She gave a banquet presentation entitled, “The Uncertainty Monster at the Climate Science-Policy Interface”. My impression was that her presentation was intended to be more of a vehicle to criticize her adversaries than to talk about uncertainty.

Her most personal attack was against Michael Mann, who she used to illustrate “uncertainty hiding” by showing a caricature of him standing next to the “uncertainty monster” holding a hockey stick and hidden by a sheet, with the cartoon-Mann saying “what uncertainty?” Next to the cartoon was and image of the cover of the book “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science” illustrated with the multiproxy time series that Mann and his coauthors made famous. Ironically, Mann’s carefully plotted uncertainty bands were not visible on the presentation graphic, just as they were not reproduced in Fred Singer’s NIPCC report. “What uncertainty?” indeed!

Curry described her transition from a scientist who felt that it was the responsible thing to do to support the IPCC conclusions to someone who is “about 50% a denier”. She attributed this change to “climategate” and the reaction she received due to her initial comments about it. She was the only speaker who ignored the policy against the word “denier.” She used the banned “d-word” repeatedly for effect when setting up a straw-man argument against what she called “IPCC/UNFCCC ideology” — a term she coined to label notions such as “anthropogenic climate change is real” and “deniers are attacking climate science and scientists”. She assured the audience that she didn’t think there were any “IPCC ideologues” at the conference but she had heard rumors that some were invited and had declined. She called out Kevin Trenberth as a supposed example of such an ideologue (again rejecting the policy against personal attack).

Among her straw-man arguments was her dismissal of standard risk-reduction methodology for low-probability high-consequence events as a mere “precautionary principle” (the same principle that nuclear weapons engineers are taught when they told to always ask “what can go horribly wrong?”). One colleague later remarked that her approach to uncertainty quantification reminded him of an English major who had just finished reading Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

I met most of the conference participants during the course of the week, and had cordial conversations with all those with whom I disagreed. One thing I have long suspected was strongly reinforced: there is no common scientific understanding amongst contrarians. Many of them are just as critical of one another’s ideas as they are of conventional science. William Gray stood up after many of the presentations on solar influence to declare that solar variability is not important. It’s even less important than CO2, he said. It’s ocean variability that is the cause of most climate change. Petr Chylek stood up after Fred Singer’s presentation (in which Singer presented old uncorrected UAH MSU data that suggested cooling) and said emphatically, “Denying the warming makes no sense!”.

I spent a lot of time talking to Christopher Monckton, who may have been the only non-scientist to give a presentation. He has no understanding of science or the scientific method, and when I asked him about scientific prediction, he called it a “fool’s errand”. He has a strong authoritarian approach to those with whom he disagrees, and his conspiracy theories run deep and dark. He names specific names and calls IPCC contributors “malevolent”. I asked him to share the very worst hacked email he could remember. The only specific example he gave was the one in which someone referred to him as a “charlatan”.

Several of us had beers at the Marble Brewery overlooking the Santa Fe plaza on Thursday evening, where Monckton recounted his efforts to get the police involved in an investigation of one IPCC lead author who (he says) committed criminal fraud associated with a graph in the IPCC report. (His own adventures in graphical misrepresentation are of course completely unproblematic).

The main lesson I took away from the conference was this: there is no consistent contrarian science, and there is no defining contrarian ideology or motivation. Some are sincere. Others are angry at their lack of funding. Some appear to be envious of the IPCC scientists’ success, and others have found a niche that gets them attention they would not otherwise get. Only a few appear to be motivated by politics. No single label applies to them, and I found myself referring to them as “contrarians/skeptics/deniers/enablers/provocateurs/publicity-seekers”.

The one common thread I found among them was the fervent belief that “Climategate” was a conspiracy and that the IPCC is rigged. This faith-based belief seems to be unshakable, and is the antithesis of true skepticism. Those I met were uniformly cynical about the honesty and motivations of mainstream scientists. If I were forced to use a single label, I would be inclined to call them “science cynics”.

This piece was originally published at Real Climate.

These comments reflect the personal opinion of the author and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of his employer or his funding agencies.


Santorum gets a grilling on ‘Meet the Press’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:35 am by HL

Santorum gets a grilling on ‘Meet the Press’

Rick Santorum on Sunday defended his 2008 support for Mitt Romney for president and his record on abortion and earmarks in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The former Pennsylvania senator, who for the first time in the 2012 presidential race is in the spotlight, got the grilling that comes along with it from “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory.

Read full article >>

What Rick Santorum and John Edwards have in common

For six years — from 1998 to 2004 — Rick Santorum and John Edwards served in the Senate together. And it would seem that that time spent in the world’s greatest deliberative body is about all the two men ever had in common.

But Santorum’s current surge in Iowa evokes nothing so much as Edwards’ rapid rise in the Hawkeye State in the final days before the 2004 caucuses.

Read full article >>

In Iowa, Republicans make final push before voting begins

DES MOINES — Seeking to press their advantages and differentiate themselves, the Republican candidates for president flooded the Iowa airwaves Sunday and stepped up their ground games in the final push before decision day.

Some went to church, others were on buses and at least one — Rep. Ron Paul — was somewhere else entirely, ringing in the new year back in his home state of Texas.

Read full article >>


Why Do Feminists Reject Margaret Thatcher?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 2nd, 2012 5:31 am by HL

Why Do Feminists Reject Margaret Thatcher?
Kyle Smith, New York Post
When it comes to the feminist version of history (sorry — herstory!), it’s hurrah for Gloria Steinem. She started a magazine nobody ever read. And cheers for Billie Jean King, the tennis player who proved a young professional athlete could beat a 55-year-old slob.Give it up for Indira Gandhi and Hillary Clinton, who proved that you could sweep into power on the coattails of your dad or husband, and by all means let us celebrate Oprah Winfrey, who proved that you could spin mystical mumbo-jumbo, airy empowerment talk and perpetual wounded victimhood into a billion-dollar…

Washington Is in a Cocoon of Denial
Mark Steyn, Investor’s Business Daily
Ring out the new, ring in the old. No, hang on, that should be the other way around, shouldn't it?Not as far as 2011 was concerned. The year began with a tea-powered Republican caucus taking control of the House of Representatives and pledging to rein in spendaholic government. It ended with President Obama making a pro forma request for a mere $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. This will raise government debt to $16.4 trillion "” a new world record! If only until he demands the next debt-ceiling increase in three months' time.

President’s Support Falters in Iowa
Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Bobby Burns has had a dramatic change of heart.Burns, 23, was one of those young people swept up in Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Three years and one college degree later, he cannot imagine a scenario in which he would consider voting for the president's re-election.”I guess you could say I have seen the light,” he said.On Tuesday he will caucus in a precinct right down the road from where he grew up. His vote will go for Mitt Romney.Davenport is 60 miles east of here along Interstate 80, past two closed service-station interchanges and…

Obama Faces Re-Election as a Mortal
E.J. Dionne, Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Four years ago this week, a young and inspirational senator who promised to turn history's page swept the Iowa caucuses and began his irresistible rise to the White House.Barack Obama was unlike any candidate the country had seen before. More than a mere politician, he became a cultural icon, “the biggest celebrity in the world,” as a John McCain ad accurately if mischievously described him. He was the object of near adoration among the young, launching what often felt like a religious revival. Artists poured out musical compositions devoted to his victory in a…