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Ed Driscoll

The Assault On Reason

“Over the past decade, Americans have clustered into three broad groups on global warming. The largest, currently describing 39% of U.S. adults, are what can be termed ‘Concerned Believers’ — those who attribute global warming to human actions and are worried about it. This is followed by the ‘Mixed Middle,’ at 36%. And one in four Americans — the ‘Cool Skeptics’ — are not worried about global warming much or at all,” Gallup reports.

Isn’t everyone skeptical of global warming? Barry and Kerry can’t take it too seriously when they’re jetting everywhere on Boeing 747s, and Al Gore declared the movement over when he sold out to Big Oil-fueled Qatar. The EPA can’t take it too seriously, since they’re similarly jetting their staffers all around the country. NBC can’t take it too seriously, since they pay to run NASCAR races. CBS can’t take it too seriously, since they run shows devoted to the joys of high-carbon ’60s muscle cars. ABC can’t take it too seriously: parent company Disney makes its money in non-essential amusement parks and the merchandising of oil-based polystyrene toys. (Not the least of which are oil-based polystyrene toys devoted to the joys of oil-based high carbon vehicles.) Sister channel ESPN regularly devotes coverage to NASCAR and other high-carbon leisure time activities. Hollywood can’t take it too seriously because they haven’t ended their industry to help save the planet. (Not to mention the grossly hypocritical lifestyle of the wealthiest celebrities who feign an eco-obsession to assuage their guilt.) Time-Warner-CNN-HBO can’t worried much about global warming at all, if they send Kate Upton up in a jet aircraft — the “Vomit Comet,” as NASA calls it — just to take a few photos of her in zero-gravity.

To paraphrase the Insta-professor, more people might take the rantings of radical environmentalists more seriously, if the people who preach radical environmentalism first lived the lifestyle they espouse for the rest of us. Otherwise, it’s pretty obvious that their goal is to further what James Delingpole of Ricochet and Breitbart UK, whom I recently interviewed, dubs “The Drawbridge Effect.” Leftwing wealthy elitists have theirs; they want to dramatically reduce the odds that anyone else will succeed on a similar level. Or as Daniel Shuchman of the Wall Street Journal notes in his review of Thomas Piketty’s Marxist update, “An 80% tax rate on incomes above $500,000 is not meant to bring in money for education or benefits, but ‘to put an end to such incomes.’”

Elites’ Sacrificial Victims

April 22nd, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Victor Davis Hanson writes, “When your goal is to save the planet, you can’t worry about who may get hurt:”

Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like “Period!” were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them. A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.

In a word, liberal ideology so often proves more important than people. Noble theories about saving humanity offer exemption from worry about the immediate consequences for individual humans. In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.

The notion that elites, well-meaning or otherwise, “worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority,” certainly isn’t a new one. In November of 2009 at the New Criterion, Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) explored “The costs of abstraction — On the intellectual irresponsibility of Soviet sympathizers:”

In a desultory kind of way, I have collected, over the years, many books about the Soviet Union published in Britain, France, and America during the 1920s and 1930s. They are not by any means overwhelmingly pro-Soviet, with titles such as Soviet Russia Fights Crime, The Protection of Women and Children in the Soviet Union, and Soviet Russia Fights Neurosis (in which, published at the height of the famine, are found the immortal words, “The greatest and most far-reaching values of the Soviet dictatorship are psychological and spiritual”); on the contrary, many of these books give the most compelling evidence of all the horrors of the Soviet Union, all of them now attested and accepted as being true.

My little collection has led me to the conclusion that the Soviet Union was valued by contemporary intellectuals not for the omelette, but for the broken eggs. They thought that if nothing great could be built without sacrifice, then so great a sacrifice must be building something great. The Soviets had the courage of their abstractions, which are often so much more important to intellectuals than living, breathing human beings.

Leftwing ideology and a love of abstractionism caused intellectual elites to look the other way at the eggs being broken in the Soviet Union. (Other than Orwell, who famously asked, “But where is the Omelette?”) No wonder they can avert their eyes so easily to the slow-motion rolling disaster of Obamacare.

Or heck, the original sin of today’s eco-holiday:

Related: If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss Victor Davis Hanson’s PJM column yesterday on “Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way,” with an assist from VDH’s rough-hewn grandfather, and his horse named — of course — Paint.

Apocalypse Mau-Mau

April 21st, 2014 - 11:13 pm

“The global-warming apocalypses that didn’t happen,” are rounded up by Richard W. Rahn of the Cato Institute, who notes that “The defining moment for climate change has come and gone, again.” But we’ll keep seeing newer and ever-more frightening (not so) final countdowns:

Because crisis sells. It allows politicians to tax, spend and assert more control. Undoubtedly, more people would have read this column, if the headline had been, “World to end.” So ignore the “experts” and enjoy the summer, which most of us will find is too short.

And with “Earth Day” coming up, it’s worth revisiting I Hate the Media’sEarth Day predictions of 1970. The reason you shouldn’t believe Earth Day predictions of 2009″ — and the Earth Day predictions of this year as well. And then burn some rubber down the Information Super Highway over to Iowahawk’s Website, to enter your charp chort in competition in the Bard of Des Moines’ 2014 Earth Week Cruise-In.

Earlier: Interview: James Delingpole on The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism.

Theodore Dalrymple quips that “’Do you care about the health of the planet?’ is a question not quite in the class of ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?,’ but it is approaching it:”

Some questions are asked in a spirit of inquiry, to obtain answers, but others are asked to intimidate or badger or coerce agreement with a point of view and establish the irreproachable virtue of the persons who ask them. I received such a question by email the other day from the Lancet, one of the most important medical journals in the world. Addressing me by my first name (already sufficient to irritate me), it asked me, “Do you care about the health of our planet?”

Frankly, the answer is that I don’t. Planets, unlike dogs, are not the kind of thing I can feel affection or concern for. My bank account occupies my mind more than the health of the planet. I am not even sure that planets can be healthy or unhealthy, any more than they can be witty or self-effacing. To call a planet healthy is to make what philosophers used to call a category mistake. This is not to say that I wish the earth any harm; on the contrary. Indeed, in a multiple-choice examination, I might even tick the box for wishing the world well rather than ill, at least if I had any reason for wanting to pass.

Of course, the people asking the question care about their bank balance far more than “saving the planet” themselves. NBC runs periodic “Green Weeks” urging individual viewers to turn all their their lights off, but they can’t quite seem to turn away the revenues from NASCAR and the NFL. As with CBS’s original leftwing naif Walter Cronkite going all-in on “Earth Day” in 1970, Scott Pelley, his latest replacement as the network’s nightly newsreader, smears global warming skeptics as Holocaust deniers and approvingly chats up the Obama-funded Tesla, yet CBS’s cable sports channel happily runs programming devoted to gas-guzzling muscle cars. (Really bitchin’ gas-guzzling muscle cars, too. Perfect for Iowahawk’s next Earth Week Cruise-In, to celebrate, as he likes to say in his own inimitable style, “Mother Earth — the Ultimate MILF®!”)

If either of these networks actually believed the “we only have five years to save the planet” rhetoric that radical environmentalists have been continually insisting since 1970, they would pull their financial backing from all of these shows, and begin scheduling programming, a la the 15-minutes into the future doomed Australia depicted in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (and Stanley Kramer’s 1959 film adaptation) that prepared the nation for the holocaust to come.

To paraphrase Glenn Reynolds just slightly, I might be more willing to consider thinking of global warming as a crisis, when and if the people who tell me it’s a crisis begin to act like it’s one themselves, first. Don’t tell me to change or cut back on my lifestyle, until I first see very visible and dramatic proof that you’ve reduced yours.

And yes, I’m looking at you right now, United Nations and EPA.

(Via 5′F.)

Don’t Ever Change, CBS

April 7th, 2014 - 7:34 pm

“CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ admits to faking Tesla car noise,” USA Today reports:

What is it about Tesla and its ability to make major media outlets look like fools?

The latest example came a week ago today when CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a report on Tesla and its amazing electric car. It was basically the kind of coverage that any automaker would kill to have (and must have left flummoxed General Motors executives wondering why they never got it for the plug-in Chevrolet Volt).

Just one problem: As the Associated Press reported, a CBS editor made what is being called an “audio error” in dubbing the sound of a loud traditional car engine over footage of the much quieter Tesla electric car. The Model is whisper quiet, no matter how hard you push it.

Auto website Jalopnik broke the story of the fake sound and CBS was in retreat all week.

Unlike NBC’s malicious edit of the audio of the transcript of George Zimmerman’s 911 call, this sounds like awfully small beer, other than it’s a reminder that even in a news report (or news-ish, given the editorializing that 60 Minutes is notorious for), that plenty of sound effects are added in post production. CBS’s backroom audio boffin likely watched raw footage of cars zooming past and simply reached for the nearest collection of sexy race car sound effects, forgetting that coal-powered (heh) electric-powered cars sound very different than their internal-combustion equivalents. Or often, they don’t make much of a sound at all; Glenn Reynolds recently suggested adding “a Jetsons-style bleebing sound” to offset their silent acoustic signature.

And actually, audio sweetening of TV news and documentaries dates back to the Jetsons-era of Jurassic television. If you watch the DVD collection of Thames’ World at War series from the early 1970s, you’ll hear the same squeaky sound effect pasted under numerous tanks from all of the armies as they rumble past the (silent) newsreel cameras, and many of the same gun and rifle sound effects used over and over again as well. (I believe that many, if not all of them came from the British film industry’s legendary Cinesound sound effects collection, which were also used extensively in mid’60s and early 1970s UK-based productions, including Gerry Anderson’s shows such as Capt. Scarlet and UFO, as well as the original James Bond films. I used a few of these sound effects as well in some of my later Silicon Graffiti segments as a subtle homage.)

In recent years, the backroom technicians at all of the networks have been caught making mistakes on Chryons and the like, a combination of likely poor training these days in college, better scrutiny from the Blogosphere, and the sheer amount of programming television is required to crank out to meet the ravenous demands of the 500 channel cable and satellite set-top box. But CBS, the home of Rathergate, which caused Dan Rather his job, and helped supply the original name of our humble little outpost on the Internet, has to be extra careful out there.
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HOT & Bothered

April 6th, 2014 - 3:14 pm

“High-Occupancy Toll lanes: another nightmare from the suburbs-hating traffic planners,” another intensely detailed article from Jonathan Last in response, at the Weekly Standard:

HOT lanes are often derisively referred to as “Lexus lanes”—that is, special roads where Richie Rich can speed along in his roadster, a monocle in one eye and hundred-dollar bills flying out the window. The defenders of HOT lanes don’t like this term. After a Washington Post columnist questioned the Beltway’s HOT lane project in 2012 using the L-word, Toll Roads News, the industry’s bible, ran an editorial calling the columnist a “lame-brained lefty.” It defended HOT lanes thus:

Of course the toll express lanes will be used more by those with more money. Only a simple-minded leftist sees that as an argument against them. For a start the wealthy are often very productive people, and if they are prepared to pay their way to avoid congestion then both they and society benefit.

Even by the standards of libertarian money-worship, this is strong stuff. Yet populist concerns about HOT lanes aren’t specious. For one thing, citizens should always be wary when the government conveys public land to a private entity. They should be doubly so when the private party gets the land free. And triply so when the private party has no competition for the gift.

HOT lane advocates are quick to point out that surveys suggest a wide spread of income among users. Indeed, it seems that most drivers use HOT lanes only occasionally and that “regular” customers are a minority. Even so, the income of HOT lane users does tend to be higher than average, which makes it hard not to see the lanes as a transfer of wealth up the economic ladder. The government gives away public land. It funds the public portion of the construction costs. It provides loans and bonds to the private construction company. And then, once the HOT lanes are operational, it pays for the state troopers who patrol them and the crews who keep the snow off of them. That’s an awful lot of public resources being lavished on a good designed for folks at the higher end of the earnings scale in the name of some nebulous public benefit. It’s a bit like the massive government handouts to electric car manufacturers, such as Tesla, which have had the effect of subsidizing luxury cars for the rich and famous. Only it’s more obnoxious, because when Ben Affleck drives around in his Tesla, he has to sit in the same traffic as you do in your Ford. That is, unless he hops on a HOT lane. In which case your tax dollars will have made his drive both nicer and faster.

Yet what makes HOT lanes truly unfair is that they discriminate on price, not value. Think about the economic choice offered to a driver as he approaches a HOT lane on-ramp at the Springfield mixing bowl. At the moment he arrives, both the HOT and main lanes look clear. The HOT sign flashes a price at him. Perhaps it’s $3.85. The key to understanding the nature of HOT lanes is that at that moment the driver has no idea what the price represents.

That’s a lengthy excerpt, but at 4000 words, it’s a lengthy article. As a follow-up in the form of a quick rant that’s unsafe at any speed, here’s my 13-year old article, originally written for a magazine devoted to Nissan Z-Cars, exploring why I loathe commuter lanes. It was written in the summer of 2001, a couple of months before there were far more important things to start worrying about.

“When it comes to the doomsday cult called ‘global warming,’ it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the hucksters are in charge,” Jim Treacher writes at the Daily Caller, linking to Marc Morano of Climate Depot.com:

A new peer-reviewed paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, titled “Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements”, is openly providing a “rationale” for global warming proponents to engage in mendacious claims in order to further their cause.

The paper appears to support or provide a formula for why lying or “information manipulation” is able to further the cause of man-made global warming and “enhance global welfare.” The authors use a mathematical formula to study information tactics.

The authors, Assistant Professors of Economics Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao, note how the media and environmental groups “exaggerate” global warming and then the offer their paper to “provide a rationale for this tendency” to exaggerate for the good of the cause.

As Morano adds in an update, the two economists have issued a “who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?” sort of backtrack in response, but the damage has been done — and either way, as the abstract to their paper notes:

It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency by using a modified International Environmental Agreement (IEA) model with asymmetric information. We find that the information manipulation has an instrumental value, as it ex post induces more countries to participate in an IEA, which will eventually enhance global welfare. From the ex ante perspective, however, the impact that manipulating information has on the level of participation in an IEA and on welfare is ambiguous.

Yes, the left is nothing but Potemkin Villages all the way down — but unlike the builders of the original namesake, the 21st century left are more than willing to cheerfully admit that they lie — even as they lie. In 2007, Editor & Publisher magazine, the house organ of the establishment “liberal” MSM made the industry’s biases plain, in an article headlined, “Climate Change: Get Over Objectivity, Newspapers,” and in recent years, the left’s postmodern sophistry has only snowballed.

To use a term that was once thought to be a thing of the past.

As Always, Life Imitates Mark Steyn

April 3rd, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Mark Steyn, yesterday afternoon:

When I launched my legal offense fund for my big-picture free-speech pushback against an extremist Big Climate coterie that has bullied too many people for too long, a lot of people wrote to me and said, “I don’t want your crappy books and lousy CDs, Steyn. Why don’t you crowdsource this campaign? It’d be a lot easier.” And the reason I didn’t go to one of the big crowdsourcing sites is precisely because of what befell Mr and Mrs McAleer. Kathy Shaidle has been saying this about “the landlords of social media” for years — and years: “We don’t need another conservative website …with a faux-ballsy name like TakeThat!”; we need versions of YouTube and Blogger and now, apparently, Kickstarter. The Internet is built by people who are smart and savvy and “think outside the box” in technological terms – and on everything else are as conformist as the dreary obsolescent hacks at the dullest Gannett monodaily. And at some point or another, on abortion or “climate change” or Islamic imperialism, they’ll yank the rug out from under you to “enforce a culture of respect and consideration”. That’s why I’d rather go my own way. It’s hard work, and it’s certainly tough on my rather small staff. But it’s less frustrating than being told by CrowdSourcer.com that they’d like you to tone down your remarks on Michael Mann’s false claim to have been exonerated because the League of Climate Conformists is threatening to damn them as deniers.

~THE CONFORMISM OF COOL: As an example of the groupthink of the cutting edge of new media, consider an exception that proves the rule:

Mozilla CEO Resists Calls to Resign Amid Furor Over Anti-Gay Marriage Donation

The “anti-gay marriage donation” was $1,000 that Brendan Eich gave to California’s Proposition 8, which in November 2008 was approved by the same electorate that voted for President Obama and which banned same-sex marriage in the state – until the Supreme Court ruled that the voice of the people on this matter was “unconstitutional”. A five-year-old one-grand donation to a losing cause is apparently enough to render Mr Eich unfit for office at an American technology company. Because what matters in this brave new world is that everybody think alike – or at least pretend to. Invited to eat gay crow, Mozilla’s CEO is for the moment holding his own:

24 hours later, we now know how that played out: “Liberal Fascists Win Again: Firefox CEO Steps Down,” as spotted by Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler.

Ace of Spades links to the sort of Stalinesque hate speech that caused all the trouble for Eich:

Moe Lane lists “Why I just dumped Firefox as a browser, and so should you. #uninstallfirefox.” And I can’t say I blame him at all; my first thought in response to Mozilla tossing Eich for doubleplusungood thoughtcrime was also to dump Firefox, but I’ve been using that browser for nearly a decade now, and several of its (now ironically named) open-source plugins make blogging and its ancillary functions easier — or in a few cases, doable at all.

But where to go? Internet Explorer? Bill Gates can sound like a cross between Margaret Sanger and Paul Ehrlich. Google Chrome? Google is, if anything, more politically correct in the Frankfurt School sense of the phrase than either company. As Mark noted, “The Internet is built by people who are smart and savvy and ‘think outside the box’ in technological terms — and on everything else are as conformist as the dreary obsolescent hacks at the dullest Gannett monodaily.”

Or toughest Soviet zampolit. But hey, these days, it’s the left that has the Juche; and they’re not afraid to use it.

Update: “Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance,” Ryan T. Anderson writes at the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog:

Sure, the employees of Mozilla—which makes Firefox, the popular Internet browser— have the right to protest a CEO they dislike, for whatever reason. But are they treating their fellow citizens with whom they disagree civilly? Must every political disagreement be a capital case regarding the right to stand in civil society?

When Obama “evolved” on the issue just over a year ago, he insisted that the debate about marriage was legitimate. He said there are people of goodwill on both sides.

Supporters of marriage as we’ve always understood it (a male-female union) “are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective,” Obama explained. “They’re coming at it because they care about families.”

And “a bunch of ‘em are friends of mine,” the president added. “… you know, people who I deeply respect.”

Yet disrespect and intolerance seem increasingly to be the norm. For the forces that have worked for 20 years to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, a principal strategy has been cultural intimidation—bullying others by threatening the stigma of being “haters” and “bigots.”

Exit quote from an otherwise rather PC guy:

The mob demands fresh scalps.

More: Binks at the Free Canuckistan blog assembles a list of alternative browsers, though I have one quick question: which one handles Java the best?

(Via 5F’F)

Judaism, Christianity, Environmentalism

April 1st, 2014 - 3:09 pm

As Dennis Prager writes in his new column, “In chronological order, these are the three main religions of the West.” Which often dangerous results, which may only accelerate:

With the demise of the biblical religions that have provided the American people with their core values since the country’s inception, we are reverting to the pagan worldview. Trees and animals are venerated, while man is simply one more animal in the ecosystem. And he is largely a hindrance, not an asset.

On February 20, a pit bull attacked a four-year-old boy, Kevin Vicente, leaving the boy with a broken eye socket and a broken jaw. Kevin will have to undergo months, perhaps years, of reconstructive surgeries. A Facebook page was set up to raise funds. But it wasn’t set up for Kevin. It was set up for the dog. The “Save Mickey” page garnered more than 70,000 “likes” and raised more than enough money to provide legal help to prevent the dog from being euthanized. There were even candlelight vigils and a YouTube plea for the dog.

The nonprofit legal group defending Mickey is the Lexus Project. According to CBS News, “the same group fought earlier this year for the life of a dog that fatally mauled a toddler in Nevada.”

This is the trend: Nature over man.

Read the whole thing.

Though radical environmentalism is still a young religion — a successor to the fascism of the first half of the 20th century and the romanticism of the 19th century, it bears another trait with other religions in their early days: a desire to shout death and imprisonment to the non-believers, Jonah Goldberg adds today in USA Today.

And a desire to burn heretical literature, as these professors at the San Jose State University Meteorology Department illustrated last year:

Hearts of Darkness

March 29th, 2014 - 5:30 pm

Funny, I don’t recall seeing anything about Earth Hour until today, when I was reading this thread on Pat Sajak at Twitchy.

As Pat quipped today, “Big shout-out to my agent. I’m booked for Monday’s Piers Morgan show on CNN.” Like Morgan’s talk show, I had sort of assumed that at least in America, Earth Hour was cancelled by the hairshirt left because they’re seething over Obamacare’s failure. Why remind voters, as you cancel their health plans, and ban their light bulbs, that you’d like to cancel their electricity as well, in an effort to further reprimitivize the world back to the stone age — or North Korea, to repeat myself. It doesn’t sound like favorable publicity in a rough election year for the left. But “Lighting Out for the Territory,” Mark Steyn looks back at the better days for the left, when hearts of darkness seemed to be everywhere:

My favorite Earth Hour of recent years was spent in London in March 2011. At the appointed hour, I sauntered down Piccadilly, but that brilliant thoroughfare was dark and all but deserted, because so-called “anarchists” (an odd term for pro-government welfare-funded thugs) had cheerfully spent the afternoon firing fireworks into knots of startled shoppers (including young children) who hadn’t expected the coppers to lose control quite so easily, and smashing windows not just of the Ritz but off humdrum sandwich chains, before proceeding to Trafalgar Square, where they set fires, lobbed bottles and desecrated my old pal Boris Johnson’s 2012 Olympic Clock.

Was this London’s all-time greatest “Earth Hour” or what? Massive disruption of commercial activity (doubtless heartening to the famously anti-consumerist eco-Prince of Wales) and normally glittering storefronts darkened except for the reflected glow of burning garbage. If Earth Hour is indeed a celebration of “ignorance, poverty and backwardness“, then all three made great strides in London that day.

Light ‘em up!

No word yet how many monitors and TV sets Al Gore will have on tonight, as he celebrates another month of mammoth royalty checks from oil-rich Qater, after thumbing his nose at his fellow eco-pagans. But like Al, “We usually celebrate an Hour of Power to counter this pathetic caper,” Tim Blair writes, “but at this point, with Earth Hour shunned even by its friends, such a celebration seems almost cruel. Earth Hour is now the Johnny No Mates of global climate activism, and we should pity it.”

Related: “Death to Nonbelievers!” The Photoshop in this post by Power Line’s Steve Hayward is a riot, but as always, satire is always outpaced by reality. “Osama bin Laden embraces his inner Al Gore,” a headline at the Washington Post noted in the fall of 2010, a few months before OBL got to meet Gaia personally.

Update: Epic Facepalm Alert, courtesy of the Brampton Ontario fire department Twitter feed:

earth_hour_facepalm_3-29-14-1

 

diet_koch_can_2-24-11-2

That’s the question that John Hinderaker of Power Line is asking in the latest update to, as he writes, his ongoing dismantling of the Post’s attempt “to advance Democratic Party talking points by falsely linking Koch Industries to the Keystone Pipeline:”

The facts, very briefly, are these: Koch Industries has no interest in the Keystone Pipeline; it has not lobbied in favor of the pipeline; if the pipeline is built, Koch will make no use of it to ship oil from Alberta or anywhere else; and construction of Keystone would actually damage Koch’s economic interests by raising the price of midwestern oil that flows to Koch’s Pine Bend refinery. The reporters who wrote the Post article that tried to portray Koch as the driving force behind the Keystone pipeline, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, did not dispute any of these facts.After my first post appeared, Eilperin and Mufson tried halfheartedly to respond to it. They posed the question, why did they write the article, given all of the facts that Power Line pointed out? Their answer was: “[I]ssues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year.” So their intention in writing the article was explicitly political.

But it may have been even more political, and more nakedly partisan, than we suspected. Today Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman wrote a letter to David Robertson, President and COO of Koch Industries. The Democrats’ letter was premised almost entirely on the Washington Post’s discredited article; it repeatedly footnoted that article and the IFG report on which the Post story was based. The two Democrats concluded by requesting that Koch answer questions and produce a long series of documents relating in various ways to the Keystone pipeline.

The Democrats’ letter raises an obvious question: did the Washington Post publish its article attempting to link Koch to Keystone at the request of Whitehouse and/or Waxman, or at the request of other Democrats who were coordinating with Whitehouse and Waxman? Given the blatantly political purpose to which the Post’s article has now been put, it is reasonable to inquire into its genesis: was it a Democratic Party plant from the start?

Read the whole thing, as Glenn Reynolds would say. And as one of Glenn’s readers adds, “I don’t understand why Whitehouse and Waxman are even writing the letter to Koch Industries in the first place. Even if the Post article had been true, it didn’t allege any law-breaking or wrong-doing, did it? Isn’t this just blatant harassment on their part? And with the crushing debunking of the article by Powerline already public knowledge, what is the purpose?”

Possibly, the letter was ready to go even as the Post hit piece was being published, and crossed in the streams with Power Line’s unexpected (in the real, not Bloomberg.com sense of the word) debunking.

Over to you, Mr. Bezos.

And how they “May Cost their Party the Senate,” as explored in the Daily Beast* by Lloyd Grove:

So where does this leave would-be populist Al Gore—who branded Keystone as an “atrocity,” —along with would-be Democratic financial savior and Keystone opponent Tom Steyer, and the Democratic Party itself? How about a world away from job-craving America, and light years from the mid-twentieth century Democratic Party.

Indeed, this gap gives added credence to Professor Fred Siegel’s critique that “today’s liberal gentry see the untamed middle classes as the true enemy,” as he writes in his new book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class. [For our interview with Siegel, click here -- Ed.] It’s not that the Democrats don’t know that they have a problem with the non-government employee middle class, but it’s just that they really are not bothered by it.   As the New York Times framed the issue, “many in the party pay so little attention to white working-class men that it suggests they have effectively given up on converting them.”

This hardly looks or sounds like the lunch-bucket liberalism of FDR and Harry Truman, or the JFK’s robust New Frontier, which sought to ameliorate poverty while embracing technology and space shots. No, the current iteration of liberalism sounds more like reactionary 19th century Toryism, which, in the words of Siegel, attacked further industrial and commercial expansion as “impossibly vulgar.”  Indeed, the Tories of that day, many of them big landowners, found an intellectual champion in one Thomas Malthus.

Think aesthetics as politics, and academic credentials as peerage. Think of a latter-day Americanized version of Downton Abbeywhere everyone knows his or her place, and our betters look best. Oh, also thrown in a dollop of NIMBY, or Not in My Backyard, and take the late President Kennedy’s nephew Robert Jr. as exemplifying gentry liberalism’s inner impulse.

Read on Bobby Jr’s particular brand of elitist NIMBYism. Found via Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary, and his take on the left’s freakout over former lefty darling Nate Silver’s forecast regarding the GOP regaining the Senate:

But, as the Washington Post reports, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is trying to argue that the man who called all 50 states right in the 2012 election is wrong. The DSCC claims that there aren’t enough polls to justify Silver’s assertion that the Republicans have a 60 percent chance of picking up at least six Senate seats. The Democrats also point out instances of Silver being either wrong in the past or at least underestimating the actual margins of races. But while the attempt to take down Silver will reassure some nervous Democrats who may have been under the impression the liberal-leaning pundit/statistician was only capable of predicting results they like, the response bears all the signs of the same denial that characterized GOP jousting with the writer two years ago.

Related: David Hogberg of the Federalist on ““The ‘No Obamacare Horror Stories’ Fairy Tale:”

One is tempted to say that the Anointed have a collective case of serious denial, but it’s more than that. As Sowell has shown, people who think they know best how to run other people’s lives always push major changes in public policy such as Obamacare. When the results are little short of a disaster, they ignore the evidence, dismiss the concerns of those who are struggling, and — here’s the kicker — advocate for even greater changes in public policy.

As California Democrat Jerry Brown was quoted as saying last fall in a classic Kinsleyesque gaffe that perfectly sums up the worldview of his fellow Downton Abbey leftists, “Government can best solve the problems that it, at first, creates.”

* Ironically enough, considering that Daily Beast editor Tina Brown is the very model of a modern Downton Abbey Democrat.

Barack to the Future

March 24th, 2014 - 1:36 pm

“White House pushes ‘wooden skyscrapers’ as a solution to global warming,” Michael Bastasch writes at the Daily Caller:

The White House launched a new campaign to sell its global warming agenda to rural America: “sustainable” buildings, including skyscrapers, made out of wood to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

The Agriculture Department (USDA) announced it was launching a new $1 million program to promote wood as a “green” building material to boost rural economies, as well as a $1 million competition “to demonstrate the architectural and commercial viability of using sustainable wood products in high-rise construction,” according to Department.

“Wood may be one of the world’s oldest building materials, but it is now also one of the most advanced,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Building stronger markets for innovative new wood products supports sustainable forestry, helps buffer reduce [sic] greenhouse gas emissions, and puts rural America at the forefront of an emerging industry.”

The project is combines parts of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the administration’s push to win over rural America using green jobs. The USDA hopes to spur the use of wood technologies in industrial building projects like “tall buildings and skyscrapers, as well as other projects,” claiming that such buildings would produce be more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.

“By some industry estimates, a 3-5 story building made from emerging wood technologies has the same emissions control as taking up to 550 cars of the road for one year,” according to USDA. “Wood-based designs have also been demonstrated to improve energy efficiency, thereby reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling.”

Emphasis mine. I’m not sure how Vilsack or whoever wrote his press release gets from three to five story buildings to “skyscrapers.” But in any case, it’s not as if his boss made his political bones in a city whose rich 20th century architectural tradition was spurred on by a calamity caused by a devastating late 19th century conflagration made all the more intense due to a concentrated massing of wooden structures, right?

The fire’s spread was aided by the city’s use of wood as the predominant building material, a drought prior to the fire, and strong winds from the southwest that carried flying embers toward the heart of the city. More than ⅔ of the structures in Chicago at the time of the fire were made entirely of wood. Most houses and buildings were topped with highly flammable tar or shingle roofs. All the city’s sidewalks and many roads were also made of wood. Compounding this problem, Chicago had only received an inch of rain from July 4 to October 9 causing severe drought conditions.

Don’t worry — I’m sure it will be different the next time.

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

“Two UK hospitals incinerated the remains of dead babies for heat,” Allahpundit writes, linking to this article in the London Telegraph:

Another 10 hospitals incinerated remains as part of standard garbage disposal protocol. Treat the unborn as “medical waste” and don’t be surprised when some facilities take that idea to its logical conclusion.

The Telegraph’s headline implies that incineration was reserved for aborted babies, as some sort of final ghoulish indignity for the unwanted, but the story says the policy was broader than that. Miscarried fetuses ended up being burned too.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’…

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.

Read on for Allahpundit’s particularly brutal exit questions.

And if the above story sounds like something out of what might euphemistically called post-Weimar Germany, well, that’s probably not a coincidence, particularly given what preceded post-Weimar Germany.

“Say, didn’t the Brits once fight a war against a society that burned people in ovens because they weren’t considered human beings?”, Jim Treacher asks.

Yes, Britain fought admirably against National Socialism — and by the end of the war, their government was hellbent on nationalizing and socializing enormous swatches of their own economy.  To borrow one of Allahpundit’s favorite lines, what could go wrong?

America’s Broken Legal System

March 20th, 2014 - 12:11 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Upon evidence that a crime has been committed — Professor Plum, found dead in the conservatory with a lead pipe on the floor next to him, say — the police commence an investigation. When they have probable cause to believe that someone is guilty, the case is taken to a prosecutor, who (in the federal system, and many states) puts it before a grand jury. If the grand jury agrees that there’s probable cause, it indicts. The case goes to trial, where a jury of 12 ordinary citizens hears the evidence. If they judge the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they convict. If they think the accused not guilty — or even simply believe that a conviction would be unjust — they acquit.

Here’s how things all-too-often work today: Law enforcement decides that a person is suspicious (or, possibly, just a political enemy). Upon investigation into every aspect of his/her life, they find possible violations of the law, often involving obscure, technical statutes that no one really knows. They then file a “kitchen-sink” indictment involving dozens, or even hundreds of charges, which the grand jury rubber stamps. The accused then must choose between a plea bargain, or the risk of a trial in which a jury might convict on one or two felony counts simply on a “where there’s smoke there must be fire” theory even if the evidence seems less than compelling.

“Our criminal justice system has become a crime,” Glenn Reynolds, USA Today.

Ken White at Popehat concedes that “the system is broken“. After a year and a half ensnared by poisonous fecal tendrils in the unpumped toxic septic tank of DC “justice”, I don’t think “broken” quite covers it. To any non-American, this system is utterly repulsive. In England, trial by jury replaced trial by ordeal. Somehow America has managed to turn trial by jury into a mere postscript to trial by ordeal. I think it ought to be possible to litigate a 270-word blog post in under 270 weeks. So let’s get on with it.

“Oh, Won’t You Stay-ay-ay Just a Little Bit Longer?”, Mark Steyn at SteynOnline.com.

Of Friendly Lawsuits and Potemkin Protests

March 18th, 2014 - 10:43 am

delingpole_eco_fascism_cover_3-18-14-2

In his enjoyably readable recent Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism, James Delingpole of Ricochet and London Telegraph explores the left’s tactic of “Friendly Lawsuits.” These are built around the concept of Bad Cop, Worse Cop; with the EPA pretending to be the marginally less loathsome guys, who pretend to be “forced” into action via lawsuits from Greenpeace or another radical environmentalist group. As Delingpole writes, both groups are “often staffed by exactly the same kind of people, with exactly the same violently anti-capitalist aims. The only difference is that the state employees have to be a bit more discreet about it”:

Here’s how one of their favorite scams works: the “friendly lawsuit.” Suppose, for example, some bright spark at the EPA has dreamed up yet another brilliant enviro-fascistic scheme to destroy industry. A new regulation, maybe, to force coal-fired plants to install haze-reducing, pollution-control equipment at a cost of $ 1.5 billion. Well, of course, there might be a few complaints from the evil coal industry.

In order to bypass potential legal resistance, the EPA puts on its innocent face and deploys the time-honored playground excuse: “bad boys made me do it.” It does this by quietly asking its friends at the Environmental Defense Fund to file a lawsuit against the EPA, demanding that the EPA introduce the very same legislation that the EPA wanted anyway.

When the coal industry complains that jobs are being killed, prices inflated, and margins reduced by new regulations which nobody save a few hard-left activists wanted or needed, the EPA replies that it had no choice: it acted in order to settle a lawsuit by environmental groups.

In any other criminal business—such as arranging deliberate motor crashes in order to make false claims for whiplash injuries—this would qualify as fraud and a conviction would result in jail sentences. Apparently, though, where the environment industry is concerned, such moral and legal niceties need not apply.

Which sounds very much like the concept of the Potemkin Protest that PJM’s own mysterious Zombie described last year, as we’ll explore right after the page break, followed by a recent, real-world example of a “friendly lawsuit” in action.

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Climate Kabuki

March 10th, 2014 - 8:30 am

“Senate Democrats plan all-night global-warming talkathon in support of … er …”, Ed Morrissey writes:

Talk about hot gas. Rick Perry may have affectionately mistaken our site name once, but Senate Democrats could be in position to trademark it for themselves after tonight. The caucus will hold an all-night talkathon to demand action on climate change, which has USA Today very confused. After all … don’t Democrats control that chamber?

A majority of Senate Democrats on Monday will launch an overnight “talkathon” until approximately 9:00 a.m. Tuesday to draw attention to climate change.

The overnight effort, organized by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is part of the recently launched Senate Climate Action Task Force headed by Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. …

The Democratic effort is cause for some confusion because these senators are calling for action in a chamber they control but without any specific legislation to offer up for a vote, or any timetable for action this year.

In other words, this is nothing but a stunt — and transparently so. Senate Democrats control all of the Senate committees, and what comes to the Senate floor. Boxer herself is the chair of the committee on environmental affairs, and could push through legislation any time she wants to the floor. They don’t have global-warming legislation bottled up by Republican obstruction, because they don’t have global-warming legislation at all. Why? It would kill any hopes of rescuing red-state seats for Democrats in the upcoming midterms, that’s why.

And presumably after their “talkathon,” giant stretch limos will take many of the senators to private jets where they can fly back to pretend to be interested in their constituents.

Just as the Occupy Wall Street protesters looked very odd “protesting” against their fellow leftists such as Barack Obama, Mike Bloomberg and Jean Quan, the disastrous mayor of Oakland, Harry Reid and Boxer should be thrilled if they happen to be in the minority after the November midterms, since their whole mindset is geared towards protests and backbench bomb-throwing.

At the risk of using rhetorical language that might prove upsetting to the delicate flowers at MSNBC, let’s try to make their electoral death wish come true this fall.

Two NASAs In One!

March 9th, 2014 - 10:08 am

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

On January 17, 2009 – NASA’s James Hansen told us that Obama had only four years to save the planet. The clock is ticking, as Obama only has seven days remaining to rescue the Earth.

Steve Goddard, January 10, 2013

Last September, NBC Bay Area examined seven years of fuel records from 2007 through 2013. According to those records, NASA sold to H2-11 discounted jet fuel that was then used to fly a private 757, a 767 and 5 other luxury aircraft all over the world. H2-11’s principle owners are the same as Google’s: Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

NBC Bay Area, this past Friday.

To paraphrase the Gipper, evidently NASA’s left hand doesn’t know what it’s far left hand is doing. Of course, given Google’s far left “Progressive” stance, their AlGore-ish love of private jets (and big oil) is also a sign of mammoth hypocrisy.

It’s the Vinyl Cowtown!

March 6th, 2014 - 10:03 am

The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulafft at Bergen, Norway

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.

Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.

Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt, the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.

Click here for the punchline, and then add it to the following not-so-final countdowns, rounded up here.

And then send a copy to Chipotle

Quote of the Day

March 3rd, 2014 - 5:54 pm

Remember the speech he gave at the U.N. when he started his administration? He said no nation can or should dominate another. I mean, there’s not a 12-year-old in the world who believes that. And he said the alignment of nations rooted in the cleavages of the long ago Cold War make no sense in this interconnected world.

As our Secretary of State said today, or yesterday, after all this, this is a 19th century action in a 21st century world. As if what he means his actions where governments pursue expansion, territory domination, no longer exist in this century, as if that hasn’t been a constant in all of human history since Hannibal.

They imagine the world as a new interconnected world where climate change is the biggest threat and they are shocked that the Russians actually are interested in territory.

—”Krauthammer: Obama Admin Calls Climate Change Greatest Threat, Shocked Russians Are Interested In Territory,” as spotted by Real Clear Politics. (Video at link.)