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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, June 20, 2008

Charlie Sykes, WPRI spread outright lies about Al Gore, tomatoes ...

by folkbum

You expect to see sloppy smear work from the amateurs, the local puffbags who throw literally everything on the wall because, since they have no real reputations to protect, they don't care about the mess as long as something eventually sticks.

Charlie Sykes and WPRI are usually better than that. Not much better, mind you, because their selective manipulation of fact blurs the line between it and fiction: Sykes and WPRI are kind of like Demi Moore and the ghost of Patrick Swayze: Yes, they way they slobber all over each other is disgusting, but at least they started with some real clay. When the Bradleys are signing the paychecks, you gotta try to have a better reputation.

But it's hard. The falsehoods, in part because the slime-slingers have catapulted the outright fictions into the arena of civilized debate, hang there like salmonella'd tomatoes ripe for the picking, eating, and, well, depositing all over the floor.

Exhibit A, from C. Sykes under the imprimatur of WPRI: "Some environmentalists are blaming the recent tomato salmonella scare on global climate change." When you see the word "some" in a context like this, it should set off more alarms than Iron Man trying to get through TSA. Charlie's some? One:
The reaction to the rotten tomato story suggests that climate change alarmism is quickly changing from great-moral challenge-of-our-time to punch line. When a blog for “Discover” magazine reported the link between the bad tomatoes and global warming, the site was inundated with hundreds of derisive comments along the line of: “Are [you] F***ing kidding me!?! This is pure tripe. If you tree huggers had any sense of reality you would have learned NOT to blame every issue on global warming.”
Lucky for me, I have access to teh google. I was at first going to write that I didn't know what humanity ever did without teh google, but then I realized, yes, I do know. The answer is that humanity could apparently lie with impunity. Because Charlie Sykes must think that no one has teh google to look up this nutjob wacko global-warming-spouting freak: "Thomas M. Kostigen is The New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time, and a veteran journalist." Oh noes! A hippie freak! Run away!
I was interviewing a board member of Food and Water Watch for a feature I am writing, and he positioned the scare as an eco outbreak because with less space to farm, more droughts, and higher costs, GMOs are the logical choice for farmers who want quick crops from less land.

For the record the source of the tomato infection hasn’t been determined. [. . . T]he source of the E. coli in spinach turned out to be feces on the hoofs of wild boars that traipsed through spinach plants.

The source of tomato infections may turn out to be something as naturally errant as that. But with less room and climate change affecting crops, another outbreak is sure to come. GMO strands can only serve to exacerbate the spread.
That does not read to me like "blaming the recent tomato salmonella scare on global climate change." In fact, it sounds an awful lot like the opposite--that this guy is being as clear as possible that no one knows what caused the salmonella outbreak, and he certainly doesn't say warm weather caused mutant tomatoes intent on killing humans. To the extent that global warming is even mentioned in the post, it's the inarguable phrase "climate change affecting crops." Inarguable because evidence of a changing climate's effects (and our hippie friend Kostigen didn't even blame humans for the changes) have been observed in everything from the mighty wine grape to the humble potato. (Further, more searching of teh google turned up absolutely nothing else that associated salmonella-laden tomatoes with global warming--but I did find a different "Discover" blogger blaming Purell.)

But facts are pesky things, and Charlie Sykes doesn't care about them, especially when those facts are about Al Gore. He continues:
A Tennessee think tank reported that Al Gore’s home energy use surged more than 10%and that the apostle of conservation “burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month.”
The lie is not that the Tennessee "think" tank said that. He's quoting them accurately. Here's the lie: Last year the "think" tank in question (the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has a street address in Nashville, which makes one thing in their name true) also released a report on Al Gore. Let's compare.
2007: In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
2008: In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10% [. . .]. In the past year, Gore’s home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.
Now, I'm not a mathematician, but even I can tell that 213,200 is not 10% more than 221,000. In fact, I would say that it is less. (For further response from the Gores themselves, including information on how Gore cut his natural gas use by 90%, see here.) You see a lot of fools who cannot be bothered to check their sources, but generally not at WPRI. This is just plain embarrassing.

But we're not done!
Four dollar a gallon gasoline changed all that. When John McCain and President Bush came out in favor of lifting the moratoriums on drilling for the nation’s untapped billions of barrels of oil this week, congressional Democrats pulled out their usual talking points… only to find that they were channeling Jimmy Carter.

“We can’t drill our way of this problem,” they explained, as if we could instead tax, litigation, regulate, or demagogue our way out of spiraling energy costs.
Wait? Who said that we couldn't drill our way out of the problem? That's right--it was John H. Freakin' McCain:
[W]hen McCain was asked about offshore drilling during a campaign stop in Wisconsin, the presumptive Republican nominee noted that such resources would take years to develop, and that the U.S. should instead focus on alternative energy sources.
I don't know how they do it. How they live with themselves, how they can cash the checks. How they can get the image of Swayze and Moore out of their heads (sorry about that).

Sorry, Charlie. Hate to see you reduced to the level of your average smear merchant.

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