Category Archives: News Items

Top 10 Corrupt Politicians of 2009

Tax cheat Charlie Rangel

The government watchdog group Judicial Watch has released their Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians for 2009.  The results are not terribly surprising to people who pay attention.  They provide clear and detailed reasons for each, but I will only provide their list in condensed form.  Check out their full list here.  Note that the list is in alphabetical order, or Charlie Rangel would certainly not be #10!

  1. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT).  The Senator from CountryWide.
  2. Senator John Ensign (R-NV).  Philandering and bribery for associated coverups.
  3. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).  Incredibly corrupt, and a key player in the economic crash.
  4. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner.  Tax cheat.
  5. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Dropped charges against already-convicted Black Panthers, refuses to investigate ACORN.
  6. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)/ Senator Roland Burris (D-IL).  The purchase of Obama’s vacant Senate seat.
  7. President Barack Obama. “Government-run healthcare and car companies, White House coercion, uninvestigated ACORN corruption, debasing his office to help Chicago cronies, attacks on conservative media and the private sector, unprecedented and dangerous new rights for terrorists, perks for campaign donors – this is Obama’s “ethics” record — and we haven’t even gotten through the first year of his presidency.”
  8. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  Lying about what she knew about waterboarding, among other things.
  9. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).  “Murtha reported receiving contributions from three former PMA clients for whom he requested earmarks in the pending appropriations bills.”
  10. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).  Tax cheat and abuse of power.

As you can see, nine out of ten are Democrats.  Can you say Culture of Corruption?  One wonders how much coverage this corruption would get if the politicians were Republicans.

False Dichotomy Tyranny

logical fallacy is a flaw in the structure of an argument so serious that it ultimately renders the conclusion itself invalid.  The SGU team (podcast link here) provides a great list of 20 logical fallacies on their web site.  Many of them are likely recognizable, like the familiar ad hominem and the ever-present non sequitur.  If you give their list a thorough read, thinking about real world examples of each as you go, you will soon be surprised to find yourself identifying logical fallacies everywhere, simultaneously impressing and irritating your loved ones.  [Be forewarned that skeptical thinkers should ultimately be prepared to explain the difference between a skeptic and a cynic to those who improperly label them as the latter.]

Once it becomes automatic to more skeptically analyze the arguments that people make, it becomes quite apparent that there is no shortage of people who stubbornly hold beliefs based on fallacious logic.  Though a seemingly harmless result like believing in ghosts or psychics is often the outcome of such flawed reasoning, it ceases to be entertaining when one absorbs the reality that nation-changing decisions are being made on the basis of what amounts to illogical half-thinking.  American politics and punditry are rife with examples of logical fallacies that are routinely utilized to skew our perspectives.  More often than not the results are unwise, ill-informed decisions with long lasting unintended consequences.

The slick and relentless utilization of one such logical fallacy, the false dichotomy, is a key part of an attempted wholesale destructive change to the historical American philosophical view of the proper relationship between the State and the Individual.  The SGU list referenced above defines a false dichotomy as “arbitrarily reducing a set of many possibilities to only two”, in other words claiming that there are only two choices in situations where multiple alternatives exist.  An argument can be made that statists long ago perfected an art form implementing this particular logical fallacy, and this flawed logic is regularly on display during our ongoing great debate about the socialization of health care in America.

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The Scientists Who Cried Wolf

I have always had a deep respect for science and the work of devoted scientists.  My late father was a PhD biochemist who taught biochemistry and microbiology at a couple of universities in the south.  When I was a kid he had a large and fully stocked lab that allowed me to experiment and learn the wonders of scientific discoveries with resources and freedom that very few children enjoy.  Though my chosen career path ended up being software engineering, I have never lost my healthy fascination with science of any kind.  At the moment I am reading Jerry Coyne’s excellent Why Evolution Is True, though I have never had any doubt about Darwin’s theory.  In fact I have never been exposed to any scientific theory that seemed so immediately clear and obviously true as evolution.  In a myriad of disciplines, there is enough science out there for a few lifetimes of exploration.

But this whole anthropogenic climate change thing never sat right with me.  In fact I have never subscribed to the theory that the earth is getting warmer because of man-made (anthropogenic) causes.  Though some exceptionally bright friends of mine were willing to accept the conclusions of some of these scientists, I have remained a skeptic.  The recent ClimateGate scandal, with which you may be unfamiliar if you get your news from the Big Three networks, has only strengthened my skepticism.  In a recent post titled Not So Skeptical Skeptics, I blogged about the failure of skeptics to be properly skeptical on this subject .

But one other aspect of what I think to be bogus, grant-and-politics based “science” has troubled me for a while, though I have not seen many others look at it from this perspective.

We are all likely familiar with the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  In that fable, usually attributed to Aesop, a shepherd boy entertained himself by falsely shouting “Wolf!”, causing nearby villagers to come to his aid.  Then one day a wolf did come along and the villagers understandably ignored the boy’s cries.  The wolf then ate the flock, and in some versions of the story it even ate the boy.  I see bothersome similarities between this basic story and the “cries” of the climate change alarmists.

It concerns me that a legitimate warning by scientists in the future may well be ignored because of conclusions drawn from the dogmatic politization of science that we have seen in the anthropogenic climate change debate as well as the evidence coming out in the recent ClimateGate scandal.

Daniel Henninger has very similar thoughts in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, titled ClimateGate: Science is Dying.

Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because “science” said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Not every day does the work of scientists lead to galactic events simply called Kyoto or Copenhagen. At least not since the Manhattan Project.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously “unprovable” theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.

This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and “messy” as, say, gender studies. The New England Journal of Medicine has turned into a weird weekly amalgam of straight medical-research and propaganda for the Obama redesign of U.S. medicine.

Henninger takes it one step further in equating the shout-down fascism of scientists like Mann, Hanson, and Jones with the religious persecution that hindered science in the distant past:

The East Anglians’ mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming’s claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State’s Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom. Even a doubter as eminent as Princeton’s Freeman Dyson was dismissed as an aging crank.

Indeed.  Read Henninger’s article here.

Not So Skeptical Skeptics

One of the best podcasts that you will find is The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.  I link to their podcast feed over on the right side of my blog page under GREAT PODCASTS and I highly recommend it.  I have learned a lot from their discussions of science-related current events and they are even funny while they do it.  Steve Novella, the main guy, is simply sharp as a tack.  Having said all of that, they really disappointed me with their response to the ongoing scandal that has been dubbed “ClimateGate”.

Additionally, I was absolutely stunned to discover that none of the Big Three networks have covered the scandal and the leaked information and ramifications at all on television.  Seriously – this is a blatant news blackout.  I simply cannot believe that they would be so obvious.  Someone on Twitter humorously suggested that we should accuse Tiger Woods of involvement to get some coverage, but I digress…

I will admit up front that I have always been a skeptic when it comes to anthropogenic climate change (what used to be called Global Warming before cold spells undercut that mantra).  My pre-ClimateGate reasons for this skepticism include things like the pre-industrial Medieval Warm Period, the outright silliness of trying to consider the Little Ice Age to be a baseline for normal temperatures, the discredited Hockey Stick graph, James Hanson’s deceitful attempt to use September temperatures to make October look inordinately hot, it goes on and on.  Additionally, part of my reluctance to get on board is the stink of a social/political agenda on the part of the high priests of the church of man-made climate change.  Additionally, though believers love to dismiss any non-believers who receive research money from energy concerns they do not use that same standard for these scientists who get massive grants for coming up with the “approved” results, nor do they talk much about Al Gore cashing in on it.  They simply [naively] assume altruism in those people.

Having said that, ClimateGate is a huge scandal, and while I can understand people like Michael Mann (the huckster who created the discredited hockey stick graph) and Phil Jones circling the wagons to protect themselves and their [well-funded] alarmist industry, I cannot understand why the SGU rogues and their friend-of-the-SGU Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) seem to be willing to throw aside their alleged skepticism in order to stick to their story.  In doing so they embarrass themselves and have seriously undercut their well earned credibility, particularly with those of us in the sub-group that Steve once dubbed their “libertarian listeners”.

I listened to the SGU podcast #227 to see how they would respond to the damning information that has come to light from the leaked (or hacked) data pulled from the UK’s Climate Research Unit.  Did they mention the scientists conspiring to use tricks to hide the decline in recent global temperatures (“Mike’s trick”)?  Nope.  Did they mention the scientists discussing illegal schemes to hide their data from Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests?  Nope.  Did they talk about the fact that these scientists claim that all of the raw, unadjusted data has been lost, with only the “corrected” (i.e. “tricked”) data left available?  No, they did not.  They simply circled the wagons and took the typical [shout-down fascism] tactic of calling us anthropogenic climate change skeptics “deniers”, a well-known reference equating us to holocaust deniers.

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, who is president of the JREF and seems to be a very decent guy, even took the ridiculous position of dismissing it with this pathetic statement:

Bottom line? Yawn. Get back to me when you have equally overwhelming evidence that global warming is not happening, or if it is it’s not anthropogenic. Then we can talk.

One could argue that his statement is an example of the logical fallacy called the argument from ignorance, “in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false”.

When the data is called into question you cannot dismiss skeptics based upon your unwavering faith in that same questionable data.  Perhaps in such a situation one should check one’s premises.

These so-called scientists have been using tricks to arrive at their pre-determined conclusion, have talked of avoiding FOIA requests, and have “lost” the raw data, but the skeptics at SGU continue to declare that it is settled science… based upon the very people and data that have now been shown fairly convincingly to be lies, half-truths, manipulations, and obfuscations.  I am trying to find a good analogy here to describe what they are doing in defending the ClimateGate offenders.  Maybe the way football fans will let a player get away with egregious crimes because they feel like they are on the same team?  Perhaps a better analogy is the way that people who naively supported vacuous candidate Obama still refuse to admit that they were hoodwinked by his platitudes.  Those analogies are not exactly right but I am getting close.  I will have to put more thought into that.  Maybe they have simply gotten so used to defending against “deniers” that they are just doing the thoughtless knee-jerk reaction.

Perhaps most importantly, the computer models on which a lot of this theory is based did not predict our current cooling trend.  Why is that?  Because as analysis of the source code is now revealing, they coded the software with a conclusion in mind, fudging things to make them work.  Poor Harry, whoever that is, but I will get to that in a minute.

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Obama’s asinine rules of engagement

Hat tip to Dan Riehl.

Writing over at Riehl World View, Dan has some thoughts on the president’s feel-good but asinine rules of engagement for Afghanistan:

*No night or surprise searches.

*Villagers have to be warned prior to searches.

*ANA or ANP must accompany U.S. units on searches.

*U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first.

*U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present.

*Only women can search women.

*Troops can fire at an insurgent if they catch him placing an IED but not if insurgents are walking away from an area where explosives have been laid.

Not only is it obvious that Mr Obama’s understanding of military doctrine and strategy is not even up to playing a good game of Risk, it is also pretty clear that like most liberals the president does not have a loved one serving in the military.  It’s all abstract to him, little toy soldiers on a map.

Do these fine Americans in his photo-op backdrop look a little skeptical to you?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin had another great picture of a cadet sending a message to the commander in chief:

Several readers note the active service campaign ribbons and medals on the man’s chest and identify one of them as the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, showing he has been an Infantry Soldier under Combat. D. O’Brien writes: “The Cadet pictured in your piece on President Obama’s speech at West Point (December 1, 2009) is not a ‘traditional’ cadet. He is a former enlisted man – and an Infantryman who wears the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. This award is given only to Infantrymen who have participated in direct-fire engagements against the enemy.”

Watch This Heated ClimateGate Debate

Hat tip to Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters.

Mr. Sheppard links to a 10 minute long heated debate between a British climate change skeptic (he would call himself a sceptic) and a Russian UN IPCC contributor.  Watch the video, but I have also included some key quotes from the skeptic that Sheppard listed.

Sheppard’s bullet points:

  • The case [for anthropogenic global warming] is blown to smithereens [by this scandal], and this whole theory should be destroyed and discarded and Copenhagen conference should be closed.
  • The world is cooling and has been cooling for seven years, and the leading scientists, so-called “scientists,” have been trying to hide that evidence.
  • The data, real data, over the last one thousand, ten thousand or million years, shows there is no relationship between carbon dioxide and world temperatures or climate extremes. Now we can see that actually the people in charge of data have been fiddling it, and they have been hiding the real decline in world temperatures in an attempt to keep their so called moral high ground.
  • The Copenhagen jamboree is a scandal and it must be stopped.
  • There is a gigantic bandwagon run by governments who want to control world energy supplies and hold back development in the third world. This thing they are doing now is just the same as they are doing in the banking crisis, it is creating a whole bubble of false values.
  • Their claims are false, I repeat, they are false, and this theory they’ve got is like the Titanic and it will crash. I would suggest that honest green campaigners who want to preserve biodiversity should get off this [man-made global warming] bandwagon before it sinks.
  • Carbon dioxide levels are driven by temps, not the other way around. There have been big peaks in CO2 in past…carbon dioxide is actually a good thing for the world…More CO2 makes plants and animals more efficient.

Think you’ll see that kind of debate on non-Fox television any time soon?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

I highly recommend following @NoelSheppard on Twitter.  Additionally, if you are a conservative and you are not on Twitter yet, you are missing out on the best vehicle for information dissemination that exists today.  Please sign up and follow Mr. Sheppard, and you can follow me as well at @RobWaterson and @WarOnSocialism.

Three Key Points About ClimateGate

[Hat tip to the always spot-on Hot Air]

Writing over at Pajamas Media, Iain Murray points out the three most important things to know about what is now being called ClimateGate:

First, the scientists discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results. The most prominently featured scientists are paleoclimatologists, who reconstruct historical temperatures and who were responsible for a series of reconstructions that seemed to show a sharp rise in temperatures well above historical variation in recent decades.

So when people mock you about being a denier, remember that their entire Climate Change belief system was largely constructed by these same dishonest, “proper result”-driven scientists.

Secondly, scientists on several occasions discussed methods of subverting the scientific peer review process to ensure that skeptical papers had no access to publication. In 2003, Tom Wigley of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, complained that paleoclimatologist Hans von Storch was responsible for “the publication of crap science ‘in order to stimulate debate’” and that they “must get rid of von Storch” (1051190249) as an editor of the journal Climate Research (he indeed subsequently resigned).

So they are big about calling for peer review, but they attack peers who review things in ways that they do not like.  Real science requires letting people attempt to poke holes in your theory, but these High Priests of the Church of Climate Change fight back when people do just that.

Finally, the scientists worked to circumvent the Freedom of Information process of the United Kingdom.

They discuss hiding data and deleting emails in order to evade FOIA requests.  Unbelievable.

Showing that the True Believers are circling the wagons, Newsbusters is reporting that the only TV news outlet reporting on this historic scandal is Fox News:

The Obama administration has another reason to hate Fox: it appears to be the only national television news outlet in America interested in the growing ClimateGate scandal.Despite last Friday morning’s bombshell that hacked e-mail messages from a British university suggested a conspiracy by some of the world’s leading global warming alarmists — many with direct ties to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — to manipulate temperature data, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC through Monday evening have completely ignored the subject.

LexisNexis searches indicate that NPR appears to also be part of this news boycott.

Having never believed in this junk science hoax, one of my main concerns has always been the long term effects of this political “science”.  When something legitimate comes along that does warrant a warning from [more legitimate] scientists, people will remember this bogus, political Global Warming hoax and will ignore the scientists.