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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bonfires in 3 ... 2 ...

by folkbum

I imagine that Clear Channel DJs will be organizing boycotts and burnings of Ted Nugent's music now, right?

Does anyone still listen to Ted Nugent? At least the Dixie Chicks can still put out a hit record.

MJS Editorial Board happy to jump on take-her-out-of-context bandwagon

by folkbum

Here's the lede from this morning's top Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial:
Discussing the nation's air security system Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that "The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days." Who is she trying to kid?

Flight attendants and passengers, not the security system, stopped an alleged terrorist's apparent attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day. It was their watchfulness and refusal to become victims that won out, not the security measures at the airport.
The problem here is not that I think there was no failure. By any measure, last week's terrorism-turned-crotchburning was a significant warning shot, at least letting us know that the government STILL hasn't figured out that they should flag people who buy one-way transatlantic tickets with cash and check no baggage. I mean, duh.

The problem is that Janet Napolitano never claimed that the "security system" worked. She wasn't trying to kid anyone. Jake Tapper, the ABC talking head who interviewed Napolitano Sunday morning, headlined his blog post about their conversation, "Napolitano: System Like 'Clockwork ' After Attack, Not So Sure About Before." The transcript also shows Napolitano clearly talking about the system of reactions:
Once this incident occurred, everything went according to clockwork, not only sharing throughout the air industry, but also sharing with state and local law enforcement. Products were going out on Christmas Day, they went out yesterday, and also to the [airline] industry to make sure that the traveling public remains safe. I would leave you with that message. The traveling public is safe. We have instituted some additional screening and security measures, in light of this incident, but, again, everyone reacted as they should. The system, once the incident occurred, the system worked.
I can understand the desire to point fingers here--it's easier to blame an individual than a system--but Napolitano is not at fault, and wasn't trying to pull one over on anyone.

At the very least, point fingers at the people who designed the post-9/11 databases that are so unwieldy that a phone call from a father is lost in the weeds because literally thousands of other data points are given equal weight in a given week. Or point fingers at Republican senators who refuse to allow a vote on a leader for the Transportation Security Administration, not because the nominee is a terrorist sympathizer or anything, but because they fear TSA employees may want to unionize. Or blame Republicans--that would be pretty much all of them, including MJS darling Paul Ryan--who voted against funding the TSA altogether a few weeks back.

Napolitano? She's a convenient scapegoat if you want to take her words out of context. But to do so not only is sickeningly dishonest for the editors of the state's largest daily paper, but also deflects criticism away from where the real problems lie.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is this the fault of FOX News or something?

by folkbum

It may be because I get my news from a variety of non-TV and non-talk radio sources, but I find the untruths and misplaced righteous anger in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's letters sections lately to be just stunning. Take tomorrow's, for example. Here's part of the top one:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has taken us for fools. I take a great deal of offense. Regarding the failed terrorist attempt on Christmas Day, she said, "The system worked." [. . .] President Barack Obama has taken the approach of ignoring Muslim extremism, pretending it does not exist, while apologizing profusely for what the United States used to be before he came on the scene.
Where is this coming from? I mean, it would be one thing if there were truth to it, but there's not. Not at all. Consider, for example, that Napolitano did not say that "the system worked" before the attack; it's pretty clear, if you read the transcript or watch the video, that she's talking about the system of reactions and dealing with the incident's aftermath, making sure that travel was not disrupted on such a busy day and that subsequent travel was safe. This letter writer, like many in the news and righty blogs of late, is baldly taking her out of context.

And about Obama? Obama has not been silent about "Muslim extremism" at all. He talked about beating such extremists through the use of force in his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, for Pete's sake. And as it turns out, we've been coordinating with the Yemeni government for the last month to attack extremists there--Yemen is where the plot was hatched. The difference is that Obama isn't on TV crowing about it. Yeesh.

Here's another letter from the paper tomorrow:
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) held a news conference and announced that 60 Democrats were leaders. The current health care debacle is a prime example of leadership gone wrong.

The bill was conceived behind closed doors, not to be seen by anyone until the time to vote. The vote was taken in darkness, at 1 a.m. The bill contains many hidden agendas, and the cost is unclear.
Again, I have no idea where this stuff originates before it finds its way into the minds, fingers, and keyboards of the ignorati. The Senate's bill was not "conceived" behind closed doors. The bulk of it is, in fact, the bill from the Senate Finance Committee, which did its work in the most widely watched CSPAN episodes of the year. The controversial parts of the compromise were aired in public, as Senators--notably, Joe Lieberman--bellyached about the bill's contents all over the TV even before the draft was final. Reid's version of the bill was available online for a number of days before the vote, and the vote--one vote, that is; the vote that approved the bill happened in daylight Christmas Eve morning--was at 1 AM because of the arcane rules of filibustering, filibustering done by the Republican opponents of reform. The costs are not unclear, as all versions of the bill have been scored by the CBO and countless independent agencies as well; neither, by the way, is the funding mechanism unclear, something that Republicans had no concern for when they passed bills like Medicare Part D ("It was standard practice not to pay for things," one Republican Senator said about that time).

In essence, you've got the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel printing letters from people who don't just hold opinions I disagree with. No, they're printing letters from people who base those opinions on outright falsehoods, whose conclusions are supported by fictional evidence. Where these falsehoods are coming from, how these lies and fictions are making their way into the wider gestalt, I have no idea. But it would be nice if the editors of the state's largest daily newspaper would at least refuse to print such untruths in their letters sections, or if they must, run notes that offer the truth to offset the fiction.

21 predictions for 2010

by folkbum

I'm not always good at these, though the last time I did it, I got a lot of them right. So here, in numerical order, I present 21 predictions for 2010. Come back in a year to see how I did.

1. Scott Walker will win the Republican nomination for governor and ...
2. ... he will be one of the very few Republican candidates nationwide next year for whom Sarah Palin is invited to and actively campaigns, which means ...
3. Tom Barrett will be Wisconsin's next governor ...
4. ... but he will face a legislature in which at least one of the houses is back to Republican control.
5. Democrats will not lose control of either the US House or the US Senate.
6. Barack Obama will sign a health care overhaul bill, and may even have that done by the State of the Union and ...
7. ... both Republicans and Democrats will campaign on the health care bill, Republicans claiming it will be a disaster and Democrats claiming it's historic while complaining that Republicans will be on the wrong side of history on this one.
8. My own personal non-campaign for governor will continue to gain steam over the course of the year, and I will not win any party's nomination, which is just how I want it.
9. Russ Feingold will be re-elected to the US Senate--if you'll allow me to go out on that limb.
10. Michael Moore's Capitalism will not win an Oscar ...
11. ... but Up in the Air will win several. (I saw it last weekend. It's good. Go see it.)
12. Unemployment will be slightly lower by the end of next year, but still over eight percent.
13. The Chevy Volt will be the new Prius. Which I suppose will make the Prius the new Geo Metro.
14. Zombies will not attack anyone. In real life, that is. I can't promise about any more Victorian novels.
15. They still won't get rid of the penny.
16. We will actually meet the mother on "How I Met Your Mother." Finally.
17. Furlough days for everyone!
18. Seth Zlotocha will start blogging again. (Okay, that's more of a wish than a prediction. But we need his voice for the 2010 campaign.)
19. At least one more local rightie blogger will pick up some of the Wingnut Welfare by joining the ranks of the McIver Institute (they seem to be adding one every six months or so). We liberals will continue to do this for free.
20. At least one Republican will announce both that he is running for president in 2012 and that he is dropping out of the race.
21. No more than 14 of these will turn out to be right.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What's next?

by folkbum

Seems like the terrorists' ultimate plan is to make sure every airline passenger in the future flies naked, stuffed into individual dog crates, and forced to watch their stupid movie.

Also, homegrown: We can't let art students learn about Andy Warhol anymore, because they might put one of his paintings on a ball, which is also a terrorist win, or something.

Friday, December 25, 2009

FriTunes: Have a Happy Holiday of Choice

by folkbum

But if today is your holiday of choice, here's one for you:


Antje is playing at the Wisconsin Singer Songwriter Series in a couple of months, if you're interested.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Charts of the Day

by folkbum

1. How the health care bill helps:



2. What consensus looks like (via):



3. Keep in mind tonight:

US Senate passes tri-partisan health care bill

by folkbum

Again, it's not the bill I would have written, but it makes general moves in the right general directions. And it's truly multi-partisan (despite what the pooh-poohers are saying), having gotten Aye votes from Democrats, a Socialist, and a guy from the Connecticut for Lieberman party.

Comments

by folkbum

Haloscan is being folded into a new thing, Echo, so the comments features here are changing. There's some good stuff--like threaded comment discussions now being possible. But things will be weird and might be changing as I get the hang of it.

Carry on.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Perhaps Inevitable

by folkbum

Fred Dooley--yes, that one--throws in his lot with the whites-only, Holocaust-denial crowd on climate change.

Update: Fred finally removed the post--and I removed the link, as it is now dead. Good for Fred.

One thing he (like many of his compatriots on the right) needs to learn is that the debate from the right has been hijacked by its most extreme elements, and anyone who wants to be taken seriously needs to start double- and triple-checking what they embrace and link to, since as we have seen with this climate stuff most recently that anyone with a keyboard and an agenda can peddle a pack of lies and get it spread the proverbial halfway around the world before the truth realizes it's not satire.

That the subhumanly vile (Holocaust denier Nick Griffin, in this instance), the unashamedly ignorant (Ste. Sarah de Wasilla, speaking about anything), and the freakishly paranoid (gold huckster Glenn Beck) are now indistinguishable from the vast majority of commentariat on the right is says something downright depressing about the state of the conservative movement in this country.

McIlheran Watch: The wronger he digs, the deeper he gets

by folkbum

I am not a scientist. Patrick McIlheran isn't, either. But I read and check my sources carefully. For example, today in a blog posting, McIlheran cites energy-industry spokesman climate scientist Patrick Michaels to try to claim that peer-review is a bit more like Heathers than like Real Genius. Michaels has an op-ed in the Murdoch Finance Daily Wall Street Journal. I'm quoting the op-ed; the part McIlheran also quotes is in bold:
Messrs. Mann and Wigley also didn't like a paper I published in Climate Research in 2002. It said human activity was warming surface temperatures, and that this was consistent with the mathematical form (but not the size) of projections from computer models. Why? The magnitude of the warming in CRU's own data was not as great as in the models, so therefore the models merely were a bit enthusiastic about the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Mr. [Michael] Mann called upon his colleagues to try and put Climate Research out of business. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," he wrote in one of the emails. "We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board."

After Messrs. Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned.
Michaels establishes a clear timeline: He published in Climate Reearch -> Mann raised a stink about his paper -> Mann organized a boycott of CR -> the editors quit because Mann intimidated them. It fits the "climategate" narrative neatly and thoroughly reinforces McIlheran's deny-a-riffic worldview. It is, however, wrong.

In January 2003, Climate Research published a literature review by Drs. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (working at the Harvard‑Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, not a climate-research outfit). Almost immediately, the people who wrote the literature reviewed by the Soon and Baliunas--and a host of others--started noticing things that weren't right, and writing to the journal. Other editors of the journal also complained (the duo submitted to the most overtly anti-global warming editor). In March 2003, Mann wrote the email in question; no boycott ensued, and, in fact, Mann also said, "the last thing we want to do is bring attention to this paper, which will be ignored by the
community on the whole." Sure, Mann's email also mentioned Michaels, but in passing--the conversation is clearly sparked by and about Soon and Baliunas. In May 2003, Cox newspapers--now McClatchy, one of the few purely journalistic endeavors left in publishing--dug deep to find that the paper had funding from the American Petroleum Institute and oil companies like Exxon, which raised more questions with the editors. This was followed in July by a statement from Mann and a dozen other scientists in another journal. Finally, at the end of July, a bunch of the editors resigned from CR because the publisher refused to let them respond without the consent of the one hinky editor, who of course refused.

Notice, none of the hubbub was instigated by anything from Patrick Michaels. The resignations and furor had nothing to do with any kind of bullying from Michael Mann, at least according to the contemporary accounts and the first-person accounts of the editors involved.

(Michals keeps writing, and McIlheran keeps quoting, to blame Mann and others for the resignation of a skeptical editor at Geophysical Research Letters, a resignation that had nothing to do with pressure from anyone: "I stepped down as GRL editor at the end of my three-year term," the guy wrote. "My departure had nothing to do with attempts by Wigley or anyone else to have me sacked.")

Now, I'm willing to cut McIlheran a little bit of slack, here, because one would like to think that Michaels knows his own biography well enough to, you know, write honestly about it. But here's Michaels, exaggerating his own role as Defender Of The True Discourse despite, of course, his own tainted past and his willingness now to play fast an loose with documented fact.

But that doesn't mean that McIlheran doesn't owe us another retraction and correction. Given that it took him two weeks, and an uncorrected-in-print-or-online op-ed in a Sunday paper, before he admitted he was wrong about one fundamental aspect of "climategate" (it was a "subtlety" that "slipped past" him), I expect this big fat error will go unmentioned, too.

Quote of the Day

by folkbum
The article [naming Dick Cheney "person of the year"] ran in print, which made it difficult for [John] Bolton to dot the i's with little hearts.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thinly Veiled Sarcasm on Taxes (Hint -- the Right Won't Enjoy it)

By Keith R. Schmitz


The commies over at Fast Company have cranked out this chart showing how we take it easy on corporate income:

Of course we know what a hell hole Luxembourg is. But in fairness, the US is carrying the defense costs for many of those nations.

As they say at GEICO, "think of money you could be saving."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

60 votes?

by folkbum

Sometimes it's nice to wake up to good news: Democrats seem to have 60 votes to break a filibuster, and certainly more than 50 to pass something. The House will go along, Obama will sign it, and the Dems will have a bill that seems to do this:
* Reduces Deficits -- estimated to save over $130 billion first ten and roughly $650 billion second ten
* Expands Coverage -- over 94 percent of Americans under 65 years of age, including over 31 million uninsured
* Reduces Costs -- most Americans will see their health care costs reduced relative to projected levels

Makes health care more affordable for Americans by expanding small business tax credits
* $12 billion increase
* Begins in 2010
* Expands wage thresholds for tax credits

Demands greater accountability from insurance companies/ creates more choice and competition
* Medical Loss Ratio 85/80 percent -- Insurance companies will be forced to spend more money on care and less money padding their bottom line.
* Starting immediately children cannot be denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions
* Insurance companies who jack up their rates will be barred from competing in the exchange.
* Give patients the right to appeal to an independent board if an insurance company denies a coverage claim
* Health insurers will offer national plans to Americans under the supervision of the Office of Personnel Management, the same entity that oversees health plans for Members of Congress.
* Provides significant resources for Community Health Centers
Again, not the bill I would have written, but as I argued earlier this week, there's a bit of a moral imperative here and a very, very small window to get this done. I am moderately hopeful, although Lierberman could still screw it up, I suppose. (For more on why this is a good idea, even as a relatively weak bill, see Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein.

Friday, December 18, 2009

FriTunes

by folkbum

A post-view of last night's entertainment.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

From the Bob Donovan Files

by folkbum

In an op-ed complaining that the process of allowing a mayoral takeover of MPS is moving too slowly, Donovan writes,
Let’s face it, poor leadership in Milwaukee has left us behind so many other cities (Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Des Moines, and Denver, to name just a few) when it comes to economic growth, jobs, transit/transportation, and education.
Note, please, that none of the cities listed have mayors running their city schools.

Wisconsin Takes a Tumble in Tax Rankings

By Keith R. Schmitz

From today's BizTimes newsletter:

Wisconsin continues to fall from the ranks of the highest-taxed states, according to the latest report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Over the past 15 years, Wisconsin’s tax ranking among the 50 states fell from third in 1993 to 14th in 2007, according to a new report, "Long-Term Tax and Spending Ranks," that the Alliance released today.

The nonpartisan research organization also said that, with state and local government revenues growing less here than elsewhere, the Badger State’s 50-state spending rank dropped from 13th to 26th.

Reasons given by the Alliance for the drop in both the tax and spending ranks included state income tax cuts in 1999-2001 and limits on school, municipal and county revenues in recent years. The study was based on Census Bureau figures from 1993 to 2007, the most recent year for which data are available.

Wisconsin’s rank dropped in nearly all major revenue categories during the 1993-2007 period. Wisconsin’s individual income tax was among the seven highest from 1993 through 2000. However, income tax changes, including an indexing of tax brackets and the standard deduction and a lowering of tax rates, helped push Wisconsin out of the top 10 after 2004. In 2007, state income taxes were 14th-highest nationally and claimed 3.2 percent of personal income, vs. 3.5 percent in 1993.

Although no major changes were made to the state corporate income tax over the years studied, Wisconsin’s national rank fell from 15th to 25th.

According to WISTAX researchers, the state’s property tax was consistently among the top 10 from 1993 through 1996, claiming between 4.7 percent and 4.9 percent of income. However, a $1 billion buydown of school property taxes in 1996-97 dropped the state’s ranking to 11th (4.2 percent of income). Since then, the state has limited school levy increases through revenue limits, and more recently slowed the growth of municipal and county property taxes with levy limits. As a result, the state property tax ranking has fluctuated between ninth and 11th nationally.
That's a nice level. Any lower and we become Mississippi.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is no bill better than a bad bill? Or is it the other way around?

by folkbum

I ask because those seem to be the choices related to health care in Congress, and Left Blogistan is split on the subject.

Here's my problem: I am not a big fan of the individual mandate in the bill, particularly one that is divorced from any purchase option other than from the Usual Suspects in the (mostly) for-profit insurance industry. If you're going to require that people buy insurance, then you should at least make sure that they have the widest possible array of options. The public option, or the FEHB-style plan that was being floated just last week, provides a bit of amelioration against the problems that could be created by the individual mandate.

On the other hand, I think I side with the always-practical Nate Silver, that This Is The Only Chance We Have. Seriously; it took a year to get to this point, the point of a really crappy bill and a thoroughly fragmented base and Congress. Starting over will not get a bill passed next year in the moments before mid-terms. And make no mistake: In the next Congress, Democrats will not have majorities of the size it does today, even factoring in Lieberman and Nelson. If we don't pass a bill now, it will be maybe another 15 years of spiraling costs and exploding numbers of uninsured, and that's just not conscionable to me.

So I think I come down on the side of a bad bill being a better than no bill at all. Pass this, work on making better as soon and as often as possible, and at least get the ball of reform moving a little bit.

Shallow Thought

by 3rd Way

If those that militantly strive to keep Christ in Christmas are as devoted to their cause as they claim to be they should leave the use of the bastardized word “Christmas” to us heathens and return to "Christ's Mass", the original Christian name for the celebration.

Let's try an open thread

by folkbum

Yes, it's slow here. But I'm buried, spent last weekend at home dealing with family stuff, am under deadline for the Compass, etc. Suggested topic: ACORN is planning to use Global Warming as an excuse to take away your guns and register the polar bears to vote.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nailing It on Climate Change Denial

By Keith R. Schmitz

Hey climate deniers, we've got your answer to climate change ignorance right here:
So, climate change deniers, let me get this straight: The same scientific community that has made this country prosperous and strong with innovations like the microcircuitry and telecommunications that power your blogs, the aeronautical advancements that whisk you to tea party rallies and the medical technologies that prolong your life (assuming your insurer covers the procedure) is now scheming to perpetrate an enormous hoax to ruin the American economy?

Such a broad-based, coordinated deception would be unprecedented in science’s history — but is quite common outside of science. A perfect example is the propaganda machine that has convinced you that, in this one case, science is plotting against us while the oil, coal and other polluting industries have the nation’s long-term interests at heart.

Over the years, various industries have launched coordinated propaganda efforts to deny now accepted facts like the cancer-causing effects of tobacco or that seat belts save lives. In fact, scientific findings linking any commercial product to an injurious effect, or imposing costs on business, have almost always met a wall of rejection by the industry affected.

If, this time, industry truly is fighting for our best interests by denying the role of pollution in climate change, and if science truly is defrauding the public on such a grand scale, then each would be a shocking development in the histories of industry and science.

Paul Kotta
Livermore, Calif., Dec. 9, 2009
Couldn't say it any better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

FriTunes

by folkbum



The talent overcomes the horrible mistake of playing on an Ovation, I think.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

by folkbum
Americans like [Andy] Schlafly think Jesus was the first coming of Milton Friedman.

Condoms & Kids

by folkbum

The news is out:
After an hour and a half of spirited public testimony late Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, a Milwaukee Board of School Directors committee voted in favor of a proposal that would allow for the limited distribution of male condoms in many of the city's public high schools.

The communicable disease prevention program--which passed the Committee on Innovation/School Reform in a 5-0 vote and now will go to the full board--was recommended by the admininstration to address the high rate of sexually transmitted infections among teenagers.
This is, of course, the age group that I deal with every day. I cannot speak to the prevalence of STDs among my students--I'll have to trust the research on that one that suggests they're widespread--but I can say this. Among the students I teach right now, I think I have more parents and parents-to-be than I have ever had before. Bot boys and girls talk freely about the children they have, and I have at least four pregnant girls right now. It certainly seems to me that somewhere these students are picking up on the notion that sex is okay and when they are doing it, they are doing it unprotected.

Which is not to say that MPS is encouraging the sex. Despite protestations and implications of the local righty commentariat (examples 1, 2), MPS does teach and reinforce the notion that abstinence at their age is the best and only reasonable course of action. In class yesterday, in fact, when students brought the matter up because they had heard the news, that was the first thing I added to the discussion--that none of them should be having sex anyway. Of course, they don't listen to me when I tell them that their essays must be written in multiple paragraphs, so I don't have a lot of faith that my insistence on their abstinence will have much of an effect, either.

But what I like in particular about this particular plan is that the condoms are not, in fact, freely distributed. There are plenty of places around town where the condoms are indeed just grab-and-go. However, should this plan go through, before any MPS student pick up a condom at school, they will have to talk to the school nurse about their intended behavior, its risks, and alternatives including not doing it. Ultimately, that may discourage some students from getting the condoms, sure; but I hope that the program will tie the acquisition of condoms to critical questions about why students want to engage in this behavior and whether it's the right thing to do. At least moreso than just having it lectured at them in health class every year.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

McIlheran Watch: Behind and not quitting

by folkbum

Perhaps to avoid the buyout, Patrick McIlheran accepted a rewrite to his contract that requires him to dig deeper when he's wrong about something, as he keeps doing on the SwiftHack--"climategate," as the kids are calling it. (See 1, 2.)

Today he's at it again, talking up F. Jim (before he F's you!) Sensenbrenner and the Congressman's plan to swoop into Copenhagen and Save Humanity From The Scientists. F. Jim feels empowered to jet off (I wonder who's paying for it?) because someone's been feeding F. Jim the same lies about those stolen emails that McIlheran has been eating:
The e-mails, Sensenbrenner wrote, "demonstrate that a cabal of supposed 'cream-of-the-crop' climate scientists were indeed successful in getting editors of journals that had published contrarian views fired and that they conspired to boycott journals that did not bend to their wishes--therefore ensuring that such views would not be adequately represented in IPCC Assessment Reports."
McIlheran is quoting from a--wait for it--Fox News report about F. Jim's upped dander. Sadly, McIlheran, who claims to be a journalist and claims to have actual experience journalisming and indeed works at the largest purveyor of journalism in the state, fails again at Step One: Checking the Facts.

Start, for example, with the fact that none of the email writers successfully canned a single journal editor. There is the case of Hans von Storch, who resigned in protest from the journal Climate Research when ExxonMobile managed to plant a paper denying global warming, and von Storch was not allowed to write an editorial noting the errors in that paper. (An assistant editor went with him, too.) Sensenbrenner clearly is wrong, and McIlheran just lets it fly.

Move on, for another example, to the fact that the email writers did not keep anything out of the IPCC report. That's two in one sentence that McIlheran doesn't bother to check. Or maybe, as he tried to claim the other day, this is all just a "subtlety" that "slipped past" him.

The rest isn't any better; that McIlheran is offering the same lies under other people's names doesn't absolve him of the responsibility to get the basics right--especially when the facts are easy to find.

Disappointing

by folkbum

Where I am, at least, Stormageddon Oh-Nine failed to deliver. There's about a half inch of rained-upon snow out there on the walk. Will be a pain to clear. AND no snow day.

However, good luck to those under the blizzard out west and north of here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Factless McIlheran update

by folkbum

That is, McIlheran's the factless one, as we saw this morning.

To bring you up to speed: Yesterday, weeks after the facts of the matter became widely available, McIlheran runs an op-ed that gets a bunch of stuff wrong related to what the kids these days are calling "climategate," including the falsehood that the original data that the Climatic Research Unit used was all gone. The topper, of course, was that McIlheran claimed that head of the CRU, Phil Jones, explained--or perhaps predicted--in 1999 how to explain the "decline" in temperatures observed between 1999 and 2009.

In a blog posting today, McIlheran retracts some of that. Well, he doesn't retract it. He doesn't even bother to note that he was, you know, wrong about it. He says his lie was a--cough--"subtlety" that "slipped past" him. Seriously! Here it is:
Marc Sheppard at American Thinker points out a subtlety (one that had slipped past me) about the “hide the decline” imperative that researchers, trying to salvage the idea of catastrophic man-made global warming were under:
It wasn’t the decline in global temperatures over the past 10 or so years that needed hiding, Sheppard points out. “The decline Jones so urgently sought to hide was not one of measured temperatures at all, but rather figures infinitely more important to climate alarmists--those determined by proxy reconstructions.”
The Sheppard piece linked to proceeds to post graph after graph, produced by the scientists in question that show the proxy data next to the recorded temperatures for all to see! I think we should all want to play hide and seek with these guys, they're so bad at hiding.

And McIlheran repeats the other claim, too, that there's no way to check the data. At least, I think that's what this sentence is supposed to say: "And, now, the Climategate scandal--in which scientists at the forefront of the supposed “consensus” precluding further debate turn out to have manipulated data, suppressed contrary findings and in general behaved like activists rather than scientists--suggests that their predictions now are uncheckable, unfalsifiable--in short, not science but faith." Help me out if you can suss some sense into that. "Hide the decline" in grammaticality, if you will. (I loves me some dashes, but my general rule is no more than a pair in any given sentence.)

Or maybe the grammar checker is just a "subtlety" that "slipped past."

Infamy

by folkbum

Take some time today to remember.

McIlheran Watch: Fact-checker needed, PLEASE!

by folkbum

Yesterday was Sunday, which means calumnist* Patrick McIlheran's op-ed tripe ran in the paper. As usual, it's cringe-worthy in its denial of reality and bending of facts.

McIlheran, like much of the wingnut contingent, is still going on about the thieved emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. To remind you all, the CRU is just one collection of scientists doing climate research, and even if everything they ever did turns out to have been cooked up in a late-night, pot-induced "wouldn't it be funny if ..." kind of scenario, there are still literally tens of thousands of other scientists doing independent research with their own observations and data in other parts of the world whose work still points in one, incontrovertible direction: Human activity affects the earth's climate.

But the emails are shiny and the new-scandal smell hasn't yet worn off, so McIlheran isn't ready to put them down. No matter that he seems to have absolutely no sense of what the science discussed in the emails means, he's willing to misread them and take phrases out of context to justify his pro-corporate, anti-Algore world view.

For example, he has repeatedly blogged in the last couple weeks about the jacked emails, and repeatedly gotten stuff wrong. He's written at least twice, for example, that "[t]he British center admitted it threw out its original data on which it pinned its predictions of disaster." Which is true--at some point in the 1980s the CRU moved from one office to another and opted not to haul its paper copies in the process. But McIlheran claims that means "other researchers, thus, cannot check the claims" of the CRU. Which is false, as the CRU does not do its own data collection, and all the paper it tossed 25 years ago was merely copies of data that exist other places and that, if you want, you can get for yourself.

McIlheran's falsity was corrected by commenters at his blog, but it doesn't seem to have helped, since he drops it into Sunday's column anyway: "Lest you think we can sort this out by re-running the numbers, it transpires that the center discarded its original data. Their predictions now are uncheckable, unfalsifiable--in short, not science but faith." Apparently it's McIlheran who's holding on to faith over fact--the faith that his preconceived prejudice against science outweighs the truth that the data are not missing at all.

And in Sunday's column he also includes this doozy:
The e-mails, leaked or hacked by unknown parties but acknowledged to be real, do not in themselves disprove man-made global warming. They do reveal these researchers, the experts who wrote the doom narrative, discussing among themselves how to manipulate data to make observations fit their predictions. One telling message from the unit's head is about how to "hide the decline" in observed temperatures, as global warming seems to have halted about a decade ago, something their models are unable to explain.
Leave aside for just a moment the fact that McIlheran doesn't know what "hide the decline" was actually referring to--or rather, he chooses to misrepresent what it means, because the accurate interpretation is not just all over the internet but also in the comments to his blog posts where he initially offered the bad reading of it.

Instead, consider that McIlheran chooses to apply "hide the decline" to the notion that, in his words, "global warming seems to have halted about a decade ago." I've included McIlheran's own links so that you can see for yourself just how baldly misleading McIlheran is being here. Really, there's no other way to describe it--McIlheran is blatantly lying to push his agenda (shocker!). How can you tell? The second of his two links notes that "the world grew warmer by 0.07 degrees Celsius from 1999 to 2008 [. . .]. And, say the British experts, when their figure is adjusted for two naturally occurring climate phenomena, El Niño and La Niña, the resulting temperature trend is reduced to 0.0 degrees Celsius--in other words, a standstill." So temperatures overall have flatlined since 1999 (in some places, temps are higher, of course, and in some places, they're lower, but we're talking global average.)

Now check McIlheran's first link, the one to the email from Phil Jones at the CRU. Note the date: "Tue, 16 Nov 1999." That's right, ladies and gentleman, Patrick McIlheran, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's "Right Wing Guy," just accused Phil Jones of describing a method for "how to 'hide the decline' in observed temperatures" since 1999--in 1999. How does McIlheran explain this? Is Phil Jones a witch, maybe, and McIlheran would like to throw him in the lake to be sure? Or maybe Phil Jones got a fortune cookie in 1999 predicting flatlined temps. Magic eight ball? ESP? Time machine? What? I really want to know!

I realize that the Journal Sentinel is getting down to a bit of bare-bones staffing, but is there not one single person there responsible for checking facts? Surely someone clicked on the links McIlheran included in his own submitted op-ed and saw the absurdity of this. How does something that obvious get through?

* coined by iT

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009