Friday, February 29, 2008

Tom Pelton is a Reporter, Isn't He?

Tom Pelton, the Baltimore Sun’s environmental activist/reporter, ignited a huge straw man on the Sun’s Bay and Environment blog. Pelton’s straw man is the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s referral of reporters to the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine’s petition of 19,000 scientists claiming

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide,methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

Pelton ably slays this man of straw:

But what the press release doesn't say is that this petition was circulated a decade ago... Nor does the press release reveal that this petition came from a fringe group called the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, which has been criticized by mainstream scientists.

What is the Oregon Group? Source Watch, an online information service provided by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy, describes the Oregon Group as "a small research institute that studies biochemistry, diagnostic medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine and the molecular biology of aging.

It is headed by... an eccentric scientist who has a long history of controversial entanglements with figures on the fringe of accepted research. OISM also markets a home-schooling kit for 'parents concerned about socialism in the public schools' and publishes books on how to survive nuclear war."

None of the eight faculty members listed on the Oregon Institute's website are climate scientists. Six are chemists, one is an electrical engineer and another is a professor of medicine.

Nice job Tom, you have revealed MBRG’s use of a discredited organization, a thousand huzzahs for you.

However, all this proves is that Rocky Worcester needs to a better job on his homework. MBRG could have cited other scientists like Richard Lindzen, Don Easterbrook, or Roy Spencer who are skeptical of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Counting heads is not a line argument skeptics of AGW should get into because it does not really prove anything. As I will show later, this is a problem for the alarmists and their “2,500 scientists” as well.

Pelton offers up his own good old-fashioned cow dung.

Let us start with the “non-partisan” Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Technically, Pelton is correct when he labels CMD as nonpartisan. However, it is a distinction without a difference. The Center for Media and Democracy is an unabashed left wing media advocacy group. CMD receives funding from left wing foundations such as Rockefeller and Tides foundations. When avowed leftists like Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, and Erich Schlosser offer testimonials on its behalf, you know the organization is decidedly partisan.

Tom Pelton is a reporter, isn’t he?

Pelton predictably goes on to cite the IPCC and the “real consensus” among scientists

The real consensus of scientists is not reflected by the Oregon Institute. It is reflected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific organization with more than 2,500 scientists from 130 countries that recently won the Nobel Prize.
A year ago, the Intergovernmental Panel concluded it was more than 90 percent sure - having "very high confidence" - that global warming is being caused by human industry.
In November, the IPCC issued another report that went even farther, saying: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.... There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming."

I guess Tom did not know that the IPCC won the Nobel PEACE prize, which is NOT a SCIENTIFIC category. Also, the IPCC report he links to is not the actual IPCC report, rather it is the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of its Synthesis Report (SR), which is a political document written by bureaucrats. The SPM downplays uncertainties from the main scientific report, omits contrary evidence, and in many ways disagrees with the underlying scientific report.

An analysis of the IPCC Working Group I peer-review process (the actual scientific report) by the Science and Public Policy Institute revealed:

The critical chapter, that which attributed recent warming to human activity, was reviewed by 54 individual and 8 government representatives but almost 1/3rd of reviewers made just one comment.
- 31 of the 54 had a vested interest in the report, as editors or having papers cited
- 26 authored or co-authored papers cited in the final draft
- 10 reviewers explicitly mentioned their own papers in their review

Among the 23 independent reviewers just 4 explicitly endorsed the chapter with its hypothesis of a significant human influence on climate, and one other endorsed only a specific section.

The reviewers' comments show that is actually little support for the IPPC's contention that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have caused warming.

The IPCC reports appear to be largely based on a consensus of scientific papers, but those papers are the product of research for which the funding is strongly influenced by previous IPCC reports. This makes the claim of a human influence self perpetuating and a corruption of the normal scientific process.

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton cites Naomi Oreskes systematic review, in which, “more than 900 peer-reviewed articles on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 found that not a single one challenged the fact that human industry is playing a role in global warming.”

Perhaps Pelton is unaware that Oreskes study has been thoroughly debunked and discredited. He might have known that if he bothered to read the comments on his own blog post.

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton then turns to another lame, but yet again predictable alarmist ploy.
In his book, The Weather Makers, author Tim Flannery described a well funded propaganda effort by industry lobbying groups to try to convince journalists and the public that scientists are still debating whether global warming is real. That debate is over, but many in the public doesn't know it yet because of doubt manufactured by industries with billions at stake in avoiding regulation,

Flannery writes. "The industries who oppose action on climate change are little different from the asbestos and tobacco companies, who by constantly challenging and clouding the outcomes of research into the link between their products and cancer seek to buy themselves a few more decades of fat profits," Flannery writes.

This is laughable for two reasons. First, alarmists receive BILLIONS of dollars in funding versus the millions that skeptics receive from “industry” lobbying groups.

Second, it is hypocritical of Pelton to argue that skeptics are funded by industry lobbyists when General Electric, which possess the largest lobbying army in Washington spent 118.4 million from 1998-2005 (24.2 million in 2005 alone), pushing hard for various climate change legislation so it can benefit from government subsidies and mandates. GE, by the way, snatched up all of Enron’s alternative energy interests at it went belly-up in 2001. Enron was the chief lobbyist on the Clinton administration to sign the Kyoto treaty because according to an internal Enron email it “would be good for Enron stock.”

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton says

So for anyone to claim these days that global warming is not a reality --as some AM radio talk show hosts and business groups do -- is clearly outside the scientific and political mainstream.

Curious that he does not name the aforementioned radio talk show hosts or business groups that deny that global warming is reality. Given the overall disingenuousness of Pelton’s post, this is not surprising.

No serious skeptic denies that the earth has warmed or that climate changes. What we are skeptical of is the smoke and mirrors “consensus” on the theory of AGW, and the economy crushing and freedom denying ramifications of alarmist policy prescriptions.

However, this position is not what Pelton challenges rather he attacks straw men and arguments no one made. Alarmists like Pelton, know they are losing traction on both the scientific and political fronts. This is why they to burning straw men, recycling discredited studies, and using the “well-funded” industry-stooge slur against skeptics. Many in the general-public are not buying the theory of AGW, and understand the drastic effects alarmist policy prescriptions will have on the economy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckely Jr., RIP

The American conservative movement lost one of its founding fathers today.

I just heard the news that William F. Buckley Jr. passed away at his home in Connecticut.

I owe a great deal to Buckely and his magazine.

When I first discovered National Review I was in the midst of political maturation process from a liberal by default to a proud conservative. I strongly beleive that conservatism is, at its heart, a temperament. Its a temperament I've always had, but never fully understood until National Review exposed me to the serious intellectual and philosophical roots that gird the conservative temperament. The writers and thinkers whose eloquent words graced the pages of National Review provided an education far better than anything I learned as an undergraduate or graduate student.

American conservatism begins with Buckley and National Review, his life's work and legacy offer an example how to advance and articulate conservative ideas with intellectual rigor, civility, and panache.

Some of Buckley's greatest quotes:

"A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling "Stop!"”

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

“I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

“Liberals, it has been said, are generous with other peoples' money, except when it comes to questions of national survival when they prefer to be generous with other people's freedom and security.”

“I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth"

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Defense of Conservative Talk Radio

As I jet off to sunny California where emerald green links, and plenty of mulligans await me, I leave you with my oped in today's Baltimore Sun.

The dénouement:

Not surprisingly, the same crowd that bemoans the loss of public radio favors restoring the "fairness doctrine." They complain that the market has failed to bring diverse (read: progressive) voices to the airwaves. They forget that markets are inherently about consumer choices, and as George Will quipped, liberals define market failure as "consumers' not buying what liberals are selling."

To which I can only add: Ditto.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If I Burn Enough Strawmen Somone Will Take Me Seriously

Baltimore City Paper columnist Brian Morton has taken the burning the straw man method of argument to new heights.

After WYPR sacked Marc Steiner from his public radio show recently, I noticed something interesting on the Baltimore Sun's comment board following the paper's story about the whole sorry tale.

As Barbara Mikulski put it after soundly beating E.J. Pipkin in 2004, "We are a blue state, we are neon blue, we are cobalt blue, we are blue in the face." And Baltimore is the blue hub in the middle of it all.

But if you read the comments board, you would think that it's not legitimate to be a liberal in Maryland, especially on the radio. Amid the regrets posted there, every now and then there's a comment by someone essentially saying, "good riddance to another liberal."

Morton takes the Baltimore Sun message boards to be the bellwether of conservative thought and criticism. Flame on!

Sure, there are critical comments about Steiner and liberals, but it takes serious mental acrobatics to turn even harsh criticism of liberals into conservatives “think that it's not legitimate to be a liberal in Maryland.” According to Morton’s logic, disagreement with liberals or progressives (which is what he is) is equal to believing they are not legitimate.

This is choice, coming from Morton who resides deep in the “Bush lied people died” fever swamp, and espouses all the other dopey anti-conservative mantras of leftwing moonbattery.

Morton then launches into a screed filled with every lefty trope in the book about a lack of liberals in the media.

Morton writes:

It was only in 2006 when the powers-that-be at MSNBC started seeing the rise in popularity of host Keith Olbermann--not someone you could classically call a liberal, but someone who insisted on using his platform to hold the Bush administration to account for all of the excuses and shifting rationales behind the Iraq War, the fired U.S. attorney scandal, the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, among others. But in 2003, when the Dixie Chicks were made persona non grata in the world of country music (and the larger world of pop radio) and questioning the administration was considered tantamount to treason, Olbermann said that his superiors at the network were angry with him when he featured two liberals on their air back-to-back.

It's now 2008, and we have both a Democratic House and Senate--but unlike five years ago when Olbermann pissed off the network brass by having Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken on one after the other, you don't see that kind of programming happening on the air.

I guess Morton does not watch Countdown where Keith Olbermann routinely names three conservatives a night in his “worst person in the world” segment. Talk about casting your opponent as illegitimate. MSNBC, CNN, and the three major networks are nothing but centers of liberal bias, so why is he complaining?

Morton absolves himself from the task of making a real argument by citing the extreme cases of Ann Coulter and Michael Savage as the embodiment of his opponents then walks away if he has actually done something significant.

Morton beclowns himself even further:

It wasn't long before any argument made could be dismissed simply by saying, "she's a liberal." Ann Coulter has made a fortune selling books with increasingly escalating claims--"godless," "slander," "treason"--that launched a tidal wave of other authors writing tomes that speak of progressives as if anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman should be driven into the sea. The latest, almost a comic reduction ad absurdum of the decade's worth of right-wing rhetoric, is Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, which attempts to tie almost anyone who has ever worn Birkenstocks, eaten a salad, or pulled a lever for the local Democratic candidate for dogcatcher to the political traditions of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It would be nice to think that there is a place on the radio for a liberal like Marc Steiner and a seat at the table for the party whose authors don't write books linking political parties to mass murdering war criminals.

Forget for a moment that Goldberg FIRED Ann Coulter from National Review Online back in 2001, it is clear that Morton has not read Liberal Fascism. Goldberg several times, in every chapter, says that he is not making the facile comparison Morton accuses him of. If Morton had bothered to read the book, he would know that. However, Morton would rather judge the book by its cover rather than engage the serious intellectual arguments contained within it. That says a great deal more about Morton than it does Goldberg or those who agree with his arguments.

Morton believes that if he burns enough straw men someone might fall for his tripe. He was right.

Dah - Dum, Dah- Dum Dah-DumDahDam

Free State Foundation Senior Fellow Cecilia Januszkiewicz adds further proof to what some of us have been saying for a while now.

The whole point of last year's General Assembly special session was to address Maryland's budget problems by fixing the "structural deficit" - so that's something we no longer have to worry about, right?

Wrong. Despite annual tax increases of more than $1 billion adopted in November, and a possible $500 million expected annually from slot machines, a transfer of $125 million from the state's rainy day fund is needed to balance the fiscal 2009 budget now being considered by the Assembly.

Fact is, contrary to what you may have heard, the structural deficit is here to stay - unless legislators can go against their instincts by reducing spending, or at least identifying funding sources for any new spending they propose.

According to the state's Spending Affordability Committee, ongoing spending commitments are expected to exceed ongoing revenues by $319 million in fiscal year 2010 and $254 million the following year. Structural balance is not expected to return until 2012, with a small surplus, thanks to revenue from slot machines (which, let us remember,have not been approved by voters)...

Almost every piece of legislation costs money. During the 2007 regular session, 2,480bills were introduced for consideration and 658 became law. Those bills added $45 million in general fund costs for fiscal 2009 and $35 million for fiscal 2010. Even during the special session, when Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Assembly were "fixing" the structural deficit, legislation requiring more than $500 million of new spending each year was adopted. These included laws funding health care expansion, higher education and Chesapeake Bay restoration...

Until governors and legislators are required to identify how they will pay for each law they propose, the structural deficit will always be with us.

Observers of the state's finances and our spendthrift Democrat legislators must feel like Chief Brody in Jaws 2 trying to convince the Amity town fathers that another great white is stalking its shores. In our case its their insatiable appetite for state spending and their propensity to increase taxes to whet that appetite.

Echoing Chief Brody, all I can say is someone "better do something about this one because I don't intend to go through that hell again."

H/T to JG for the Jaws 2 reference. Although he uses it to expose the danger of Mike Huckabee, it is oh so apt for the marauding spending, and the indifference of Democrat legislators to properly address the problem.

Monday, February 18, 2008

As Expected...

Governor O'Malley has sided with evironmental special interests and corporate rent seekers to increase energy costs for Marylander's.

O'Malley, who has said he wants to be a leader on dealing with sea-level rise,planned a Tuesday announcement to back a bill that would set the nation's toughest limits on carbon emissions, a 90 percent drop from 2006 levels by 2050. The bill would require a 25 percent drop in carbon emissions by 2020

Add this to the other additional costs of "EmPower Maryland," last year's 72% increase will be chump change.

The EU, the paragon of what the American left aspires to transform this nation into cannot even meet its reductions goals. US rates of emmissions have decreased without cap and trade, whereas Europe’s emissions, under Kyoto, have increased. Furthermore, even if every nation on earth implemented Kyoto emission reductions, there would be NO DETECTABLE EFFECT ON GLOBAL TEMPERATURES.

Ladies and gentleman you are witnessing an example of the corporate state in action. Big government, big business, and special interests coming together to set the rules of the game. They get together and determine winners and losers.

They win, we lose.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Global Warming Killed the Loch Ness Monster

Lack of sonar contacts leads monster hunter give up search.

Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming.

Goodbye by Nessie we hardly knew ye!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Big Dookaroo

No its not Wynn-Edwards in the 4th or the troika battling it out in the 1st.

No the big matchup is tomorrow night down in Durham, NC where the Terps, who are arguably playing some of the best basketball in the nation right now, look to take revenge on the hated Blue Devils.

Maryland lost the first game at Comcast after surrendering a nine-point half time lead. That loss, however is the only one during the tear they've been on since beating then No. 1 North Carolina last month.

Hopefully this is what Maryland fans can look forward to tomorrow night.

Maryland Energy Issues

Tom Wilson over at Lost on the Shore has an excellent on-ongoing series on the Maryland Energy Mess. He offers a lucid and thoughtful analysis of Maryland's energy situation.

We disagree on some issues like conservation and demand side management, but overall its well worth a read for anyone wishing to understand the current environment and how we got there.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"..the basic threshold for participating in the climate change debate.."

The basic threshold for participating in the climate change debate for Isaac Smith is of course agreeing with his point of view. Anyone that dares to disagree with him is automatically not credible. This is the general mentality of the alarmist camp, with folks like Al Gore and 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley going so far as to compare skeptics to holocaust deniers.

Chirs Horner made a similar observation in regards to Captain Climate and the alarmist disposition:

I attended the CPAC dinner on Friday night at which George Will gave the keynote address. Among several trenchant remarks was the observation that cap-and-trade enthusiast, leading Senate adherent of catastrophic warming theory, and presidential aspirant Sen. John McCain finds corruption wherever he finds opposition to John McCain (before then insisting that rules are rules, McCain won fair and square, so all now should fall into line behind him as “happy warriors”).

I immediately scribbled a note to myself of the similarity between the mindset which Will — among others — attributes to McCain and that of global-warming alarmists, who find venality in all quarters opposing them. E.g, here’s reporting from Al Gore’s acceptance speech for a “Baptist of the Year” award: “[Al] Gore said some Baptist spokesmen deny the reality of global warming because they are locked in a coalition with rich and powerful people who take advantage of the poor for economic profit.”

Similarly, when a list of scientists publishing work that runs contrary to the alarmist thesis, Gore’s spokesman immediately came out and offered the specifics free and otherwise risible dismissal that either “25 or 30” of them had certainly received money from ExxonMobil (leaving about 450 still to smear by implication).

This sentiment is of a piece with the ritualistic incantation that no credible individual can possibly disagree — not “with global warming” — but with the notion of an impending environmental man-made catastrophe, because, it turns out, mere disagreement immediately calls one’s credibility into question (see also here). There is certainly a consistency of thought there.

When you get past their apocalyptic rhetoric and get into the ramifications of their policy prescriptions, the alarmist imperative to besmirch skeptics becomes readily apparent.

How Long Until This Brilliant Idea Comes to Maryland?

Given that Maryland looks to California for policy solutions, I wonder how long it will take this idea to make its way east from the left coast.

California is moving towards a mandate for zero net energy for residential new construction by 2020. Zero net energy means the home cannot consume more net energy than it generates.


Yup. California homes are going to have to generate as much energy as they consume by 2020. The next question is, how?

Unless the “Mr. Fusion” power plants from the film Back to the Future become reality, home power generation is likely to come from solar. The obvious question is, how practical is this? If you throw enough money at the problem, limit houses to a single story to give collectors more room, build a house in a nice sunny locale, and ignore practical aspects of modern American life, like 1,200 to 1,600 Watt blow dryers, it’s possible to build a zero net energy home. Several demonstration projects have proven it.

But the question is not, is it possible? The question is, how practical is it?

An Oklahoma home builder did manage to construct a home claimed to be zero net energy for a “small” premium. It only cost 60% more, which is considered quite a bargain compared to some of the other demonstration projects.

The 60% premium means the return on the extra investment is around 2%. Live in the home 50 years and you can not only feel smug about your zero net energy home, you can finally break even.

Of course the median home price in Oklahoma City is $130,000 according to the National Association of Realtors™. In Los Angeles it’s $588,000. And the state wants to make it more expensive?

In the DC Metropolitan ara, the median home price is $438,000.

Of course we don't have to wait for this to come to Maryland, our legislators are doing just fine when it comes to proposals that will cost home owners more money.

Global Warming and Energy: My Column in the DC Examiner

My oped in Today's Washington Examiner

Mark Newgent: O’Malley’s global warming attack means higher energy bills

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Democrats in the General Assembly are trying to have it both ways. They are promoting dangerous energy and climate change legislation in the name of saving the environment, and relieving ratepayers from rising energy prices.

Do not be fooled by the Orwellian rhetoric, their legislative prescriptions will harm your family’s finances and damage Maryland’s economy even more than last year’s historic tax increases; without any detectable affect on climate change.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC), written by the alarmist advocacy group, Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), inspired O’Malley and his legislative allies.

Examiner readers may remember that after much obfuscation from Air and Radiation Administration Director Tad Aburn, the Maryland Department of the Environment finally agreed to release public documents relating to CCS and the MCCC, but only at the cost of $1,381.

The Global Warming Solutions Act aspires to reduce carbon emissions 90 percent by 2050 through a government mandated cap and trade scheme. Carbon-emitting companies would be required to limit their emissions below a state mandated cap.

Emitters who cannot meet the cap may purchase carbon credits from companies below it. The state would auction off the credits, with companies passing the costs on to consumers. Europe’s Kyoto-inspired cap-and-trade program is a dismal failure, causing energy rationing and soaring electricity rates, without meeting its intended emission reduction goals.

The deceptively titled “EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act” aims for a 15 percent reduction in total electricity consumption by 2015 as a means to mitigate climate change and lower electricity rates. EmPower Maryland requires energy companies to create programs that encourage conservation. Consumers would bear the costs of the programs.

Specifically, the bill requires electric companies to institute rate decoupling and demand-side management fees. Decoupling allows utilities to charge customers for the costs of purchasing and distributing energy. Utilities still get a return on their investment regardless of the amount of electricity consumed.

In other words, no matter how much you conserve, you will still be subject to rate increases. According to federal Energy Information Administration data, other states that implemented decoupling saw their electricity rates increase dramatically, in some cases more than 50 percent.

Demand-side management fees are customer fees that utilities can slap on their customers who use too much electricity during peak demand periods. If you feel too hot in July or too cold in January, it will cost you to adjust the thermostat.

Other proposed legislation includes increasing state mandates on utilities to purchase expensive renewable energy (wind and solar), which will increase consumer costs. Not surprisingly, an official for a large solar company sits on the MCCC. Proposals not yet introduced as legislation include increasing the gas tax, vehicle emissions taxes and pay-as-you drive insurance fees.

Climate change alarmists claim that the short-term costs of their policy prescriptions pale in comparison with the apocalyptic costs of no immediate action to mitigate global warming. The flaw in this argument is, even if all their policy wishes came true, the effect on global temperature would be barely detectable.

Thus, when sea levels rise, submerging Manhattan and Katrina-like hurricanes deluge our coastal areas, we will not have the ability to adapt because our economy is too constrained in vain attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

Progressive politicians would have you believe they can stop global warming without increasing energy costs and harming the economy. They would rather deceive us thereby saving them the hard choice between satisfying environmental special interests and offering real solutions to the state’s energy issues. They cannot have it both ways.

Mark Newgent of Baltimore blogs at RedMaryland.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Liberal Fascist Ice Cream Parlor

A guy reading Liberal Fascism gets tossed out of an ice cream parlor run by 9/11 Truthers.

Apparently the nuts were not just in the toppings tray.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hillary and Obama: The Seinfeld Campaign

A great piece about the main difference between the Democrat and Republican parties. The whole piece is must reading, but here is the take away:

The Republican party is a mess, absolutely. Conservatives are sorting out what they believe, what heresies they can tolerate and on which principles they will not bend. At times this argument is loud, ugly and unfortunate. But you know what? At least it’s an argument about something. On the Democratic side, if you strip away the crass appeals to identity politics, the emotional pandering and the helium-infused rhetoric, you’re pretty much left with a campaign about nothing.

Global Warming and Liberal Fascism

Hat tip to the doughy pantload

Many global warming alarmists exhibit traits, of what Jonah Goldberg has so deftly elucidated as “liberal fascism.”

Paul, Isaac this means you.

They brook no dissent from the dogma of their secular religion. Alarmists like Paul and Isaac incessantly invoke the findings of “the experts” in their call for massive, authoritarian governmental intrusions into the economy and our private lives. Forget for a moment that the apocalyptic prognostications of many of “the experts” may well be sheer balderdash, the use of appeals to the wisdom of “the experts” as a means to set policy, is quite dangerous.

First, a quick explanation.

The title of Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, is not a bomb-throwing pejorative. In fact, the term comes from the Fabian socialist H.G. Wells, perhaps the most prominent progressive of his time. Goldberg writes:

Nor did Wells coin the term phrase as an indictment, but as a badge of
honor. Progressives must become “liberal fascists” and
“enlightened Nazis,”
he told the Young Liberals at Oxford in a speech at in July 1932...
Throughout his work he championed the idea that special men—variously identified as scientists, priests, warriors, or “samurai”—must impose progress on the masses in order to create a “New Republic” or a “world theocracy”. Only through militant Progressivism—by whatever name—could mankind achieve the fulfillment of the kingdom of God. Wells simply put, was enthralled by the totalitarian temptation. “I have never been able to escape altogether this from its relentless logic,” he declared.

Wells called for a phoenix like rebirth of liberalism, which he labeled “liberal fascism”

Obviously, there is more to the story, but the point is clear that progressives were clearly in thrall of the fascist movements in Italy and Germany (and the communist movement in Russia) at the time, and modern liberalism i.e., progressivism shares common DNA with the various fascist movements of the early 20th century. The common progressive trope that fascism lurks just beneath the surface of American conservatism is nothing but slander. Don’t believe me? Then read the damn book and make an argument against it.

Okay, the key take away from this is that Wells and the progressives of his era constantly invoked the notion that “the experts” should run society and set policy. Modern progressives are no different. They believe that by tweaking this economic input/output here or reducing that carbon emission there, they can immanentize the eschaton.

We see the same thing with modern progressives regarding global warming.

Roger Pielke observed the liberal fascism of global warming alarmists and asked a crucial question alarmists never want to engage.

Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that we must take a certain course of action because the experts tell us we must? The issue might be the threat of another country or an environmental risk, but increasingly we see appeals to authority used as the basis for arguing for this or that action.

In a new book, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith take the appeal to experts somewhat further and argue that in order to deal with climate change we need to replace liberal democracy with an authoritarianism of scientific expertise.

They write in a recent op-ed:

Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. . . There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. . . We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions.

On their book page they write:
[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.

So whenever you hear (or invoke) an argument from expertise (i.e., "the experts tell us that we must ...") ask if we should listen to the experts in just this one case, or if we should turn over all decisions to experts. If just this one case, why this one and not others? If a general prescription, should we do away with democracy in favor of an authoritarianism of expertise?

Don’t believe Pielke? How about this beautiful example from one of “the experts:”

"What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act," said Dr. Suzuki, a former board member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"It's an intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years."

The statement elicited rounds of applause.

The local voices of alarmism become furious and launch into spittle-flecked rants anytime someone dares to disagree or voice a conservative critique of their position or policy prescriptions. Implicit in their rhetoric is the fascist notion that if you are not part of their solution you are part of the problem.

Forget inquiries into the alarmist advocacy group to which our governor farmed out the state’s climate policy; forget about transparent and open government; forget about the draconian ramifications alarmist policy prescriptions will impose upon the economy; “the experts” say the time to act is now.

Nothing, including liberty, and the quaint, obsolete notions of the American founding should get in the way.

Vladimir Putin and That Old Time Feeling

The Moscow Times is running a series on Vladimir Putin's successful effort to restore and enhance the power of the Russian state security/counter intelligence service the FSB. The FSB is the heir to the old Soviet secret police apparatus more famously known as the KGB. Foreign intelligence operations reside with the SVR, the old KGB First Chief Directorate (FCD). Note that the FSB retains the old KGB sword and the shield logo sans the Soviet red star.

Since coming to power in 1999, Vladimir Putin has systematically placed KGB officials into high positions within the government and private business.

It was a typical December night in Moscow. The cold was biting, the snow thick and dry. In the Federal Security Service's headquarters on Lubyanskaya Ploshchad, hundreds of intelligence officers met as they did every year to celebrate the founding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police. Champagne glasses tinkled as the officers spoke in jubilant tones. Classical music played softly in the background.

The hall grew quiet as Vladimir Putin -- the former FSB director who had been appointed prime minister a few months earlier -- stood to speak.

"Dear comrades," Putin said. "I would like to announce to you that the group of FSB agents that you sent to work undercover in the government has accomplished the first part of its mission." Everyone in the room knew what the second part entailed, said an FSB officer who attended the event and related what took place.

"We knew that the second part was to become president and to appoint former KGB colleagues to top government posts," the officer said. In the speech, Putin assured the people in the room that he would not forget them once he reached the pinnacle of power, the officer said.

"There are no former agents," Putin declared, giving a new twist to a common joke among KGB officers.

The listening FSB officers raised a toast to Cheka founder Felix Dzerzhinsky and Yury Andropov, the longest-serving KGB chief.

That night, they had one more reason to celebrate, the FSB officer said: After years of humiliation, the intelligence services were on the brink of being restored to their former prestige.

It was Dec. 20, 1999, just 11 days before Boris Yeltsin abruptly resigned and named Putin as acting president. Three months later, Putin won a snap presidential election. Now, as Putin prepares to leave the Kremlin eight years later, he has kept the promise made that night in FSB headquarters.

An astounding 78 percent of the country's leadership has links to the KGB or FSB, according to estimates by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a leading sociologist who tracks Kremlin politics and the security services.

Twenty-six percent of the officials acknowledge their involvement, while the rest give themselves away "by the holes in their resumes," Kryshtanovskaya said.

In addition to filling government and company posts with intelligence officers, Putin has restored to the FSB much of the power and glory enjoyed by the KGB.

At the same time, a kind of spy mania has swept the country, with the FSB seeming to see enemies in every corner and accusing dozens of scientists of espionage.

The rest of the article is well worth a read. The bolded paragraphs are my own emphasis. Toasts to Dzerzhinsky and Andropov are just downright chilling. Just like the American saying, “there is no such thing as an ex-Marine,” it is equally true that no one ever truly leaves the KGB. The issue of paranoia is important to note too, as it was a constant theme in the Soviet intelligence services both during and after the Stalin era. The FCD was always on the look out for a western plot against the Soviet Union. Quite often, the FCD refused to accept any intelligence that did not confirm their paranoia. Many KGB operations, both active measures and counter intelligence, were quite successful, the paranoid strain in the upper echelons of the KGB led to serious miscalculations about western intentions, especially in regards to the United States.

How George W. Bush looked into Putin’s soul and saw a man he could trust is beyond me. Putin’s reconstitution and extension of the old KGB apparatus is a bad sign for democracy in Russia. Furthermore, Putin’s restoration and rehabilitation of Stalin doesn’t speak well of the man or the state of Russian democracy either.

The paranoid strain in FSB, which most likely exists in the SVR, is troubling as well. Russia has returned to great power status through its oil wealth, and Putin has developed friendly ties to Iran, Chavez's Venezuela and China. Russia is now a US rival. That its two major intelligence services are exhibiting their predecessor’s Cold War paranoia does not bode well for future US-Russian relations.

There is an old Soviet era joke that says, “The future is known, it’s the past that is always changing.” It appears that Putin has changed the dynamic so now the past is reconstituting the present and shaping the future.

Putin may well be responsible for the murders of Alexander Litvinenko and journalist Anna Politkovskaya, both of whom were vocal critics of Putin and his regime. Closer to home there is the case of the murder attempt on Putin critic Paul Joyal at his home in Adelphi in PG County.

Ironically, Putin’s idol Stalin once said, “Death solves all problems - no man, no problem.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Not Russ?

John Riggins made an excellent point regarding the Redskins coaching search yesterday. Why not bring in Russ Grimm for an interview?
Grimm has many things going for him. First he is a former Redskin, and not just any former player, Grimm is an original Hog and in line for the Hall of Fame. Congrats to Darrell Green and Art Monk by the way.
Second, Grimm was an assistant on the Steelers '05 Super Bowl team, and even more impressive Grimm helped the Arizona Cardinals, let me say that again, the Arizona Cardinals reach .500 this past season.
Grimm has been a finalist for head coaching positions with the Bears and Steelers, so he is qualified for the Redskins job.
Interviewing, if not hiring Grimm would be a great move. Not only is he qualified for the job, Grimm is a players coach who could easily win over a locker room upset that Greg Williams did not get the job, and he would be a perfect fit to carry on the Gibbs legacy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So.... Progressive!

That Isaac Smith runs away from debate is known fact. However, he reveals the true depth and breadth of his intellect.

But yeah, seeing conservatives jeer at the climate change rally in the snow made me want to shoot someone in the face.

As I've argued before, challenging a progressive on an article of their faith sends them into fits of apoplexy, and they are reduced to childish rants. As I noted last year during the SCHIP deabte, Lionel Trilling's mischaracterization of the American right actually fits contemporary progressives: "They do not express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”

See Sgt. Hulka's lesson on how to effectively argue with progressives.

If it is McCain, I Will Vote for Him, However…

Yes, I will vote for John McCain if he wins the GOP nomination. I will vote for McCain even if he picks Mike Huckabee as his running mate. If we must have another compassionate conservative in the executive branch, the best thing to do is stuff him in the drawer of the vice president’s office to minimize any harm he can do.

However, though the frontrunner he may be, McCain has not sealed the nomination yet, and still I stand by Mitt Romney. Admittedly, Romney is on the ropes and the outlook is not good, but I will support him until the end of the nomination process. I was attracted to conservatism by its ideas and principles and its arguments for them. In my mind, Romney is the candidate who best embodies those principles. He is not the perfect candidate, but he captures full spectrum conservatism more than McCain and certainly more so than Huckabee.

McCain and Huckabee supporters may beg to differ, but I remain un-persuaded that either of them embody or fully support the true limited government, free market principles of conservatism. True Romney has changed positions on several issues, but National Review’s endorsement of Romney cautioned us not too overstate how much he has changed and it is important that he now stands on the right side of those issues.

Kathryn Jean Lopez’s defense of conservative support for Romney takes us back to first principles and is instructive as to why McCain is not the best choice for conservatives.

I often give talks to high-school groups about conservatism. I tell them conservatism is a temperament. It’s a philosophy. It’s a movement. But at its heart, it’s a temperament…

Senator McCain has served our nation valiantly, both on the battlefield and off. But he’s also sponsored and led on legislation that calls into question his conservative temperament. Some conservatives suffering from Bush fatigue may think that it is wise to settle early — that they’d rather not be disappointed again — they’d rather know early on, say, that amnesty will be par for the course, and at least now they’re

But I would rather stand on principle than settle today. That’s why Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin and Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and all the rest are standing where they are today. And I don’t think that constitutes “derangement.” I think that’s good citizenship. I think that’s how you keep ideas central, and keep ideas politically viable — whether you win or lose a given race.

Like Lopez, I am going to stand and fight on those conservative principles in this primary, win or lose.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Get Emails

I received this email today.
The City Wide Coalition urges its supporters to support the demonstrations taking place this week to protest the firing of WYPR talk show host Marc Steiner. For information, there are two articles in the Baltimore Sun over the last two days as well as a couple in the Baltimore Examiner.

The demonstrations will be taking place from noon to 1 p.m. in front of WYPR at 2216 N. Charles every day this week. The "fat cats" who guaranteed the $5 million loan for the station have decided to fire Marc without any warning or giving him a chance to appeal to his listeners.

In our view, they don't like him because of how progressive he is.

It is important to the community that he be reinstated. It goes without saying, that we urge members of WYPR to withhold funding to the station until Marc is reinstated.

Also, WYPR, as "your public radio" should be democratized. It should be turned into a genuine cooperative where those who give their membership donations get the vote as to the set-up of the Board of Directors. This would ensure that the Board is answerable to the listeners of the station and programming changes are made with the permission of them. Baltimore should lead the way in this for the other public radio and public television stations throughout the country.

In struggle,

Name withheld

I don't have an opinion on Marc Steiner one way or the other, I don't listen to WYPR. I'm a WBAL guy. However, I doubt that Steiner was let go because he was too "progressive," or that deueling political philosophies played a role. Why would the "fat cats" drop $5 million to save WYPR if they did not like its progressive tilt? If their intent was to change the format they would have done it six years ago when they intervened to guarantee the purchase loan.

Even though Steiner is indeed a progressive, I have heard that he was always fair and honest moderator, and I tend to believe that. The two times I did tune in Steiner seemed to confirm that.

Hint: when someone uses the Marxist sign off "in struggle," its a sign that their thinking is severely constrained.

However, the thing that bothers me in press and opinion accounts of the story are the comparisons of Steiner's show with commercial talk radio (i.e. conservative talk radio).

From Michael Olesker:

When Steiner led the effort to buy the old WJHU station from Johns Hopkins University, his intention was to turn it into a community conversation on the airwaves, where smart, informed people shared the news and the cultural trends of the day. And that’s exactly what he made it...

It wasn’t a chorus line of ditto-heads echoing each other’s cheap shots; it was a true marketplace exchange of ideas.

Dan Rodricks:

I have never understood why people who work in public radio seem determined to appeal only to the informed 2 percent of Listener Land

The Baltimore Sun:

Unlike typical talk-radio shows with shrill voices and blatant political slants, Steiner engaged in controlled discussions that appealed to both sides of the aisle.

Give me a break. This intellectual snobbery reaks to high heaven. Its the typical progressive trope that the people who listen to conservative talk radio are knuckle dragging trogolodytes who lack the abililty to think for themselves. Or, they fall into the tinfoil hat conspiratorial category like this anonymous intellectual giant on Rodricks blog:

The right-wing has long been critical of NPR for not slanting things their way and has led the effort to disembowel Public Radio. Marc is as even-handed and fair as they come, so he had to go in favor of some more inflamatory right winger who may be subsidized by some billionaire afraid that the truth about his exploitation of the poor and middle-class will be honestly reported. I suspect that a little digging would uncover a letter writing campaign against Marc spawned by a right-wing organization. They get both Marc and possibley kill WYPR too.

According to Olesker, Rodricks, and the Baltimore Sun only the "smart informed," "2 percent" of the population listen to Steiner and NPR. The implication being that conservative talk radio is nothing more than an echo chamber for the rest of us cro-magnons.

This reveals a two things; they don't know anything about conservative talk radio beyond what Media Matters tells them, and they don't understand why conservative talk radio is successful versus its liberal counterparts like Air America or NPR.

Contrary to Olesker, conservative talk radio is not an agreement factory full of Rush Limbaugh "ditto heads'. In fact there is a wide range of opinion within conservative talk radio. Not all "ditto heads" agree 100% with Limbaugh. There is disagreement between conservative talk show hosts. Ron Smith and Bruce Elliot at WBAL couldn't be farther apart on the Iraq War. Salem radio personalities Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved are at odds over the GOP nominaiton. Hewitt supports Mitt Romney, Medved supports John McCain. Conservative talk radio is not a complete shill for the GOP either. Almost to a man, national conservative talk show hosts castigated the Bush administration on amnesty and spending

Furthermore, conservative talk radio does not shy away from debating opposing points of view. Dennis Prager debated Howard Zinn, Hugh Hewitt debated Sunsara Taylor from World Can't Wait. Locally Peter Bielenson, Curt Anderson, Allan Lichtman, and Ben Cardin are regular guests on Ron Smith's program.

The main reason that conservative talk radio is more successful is that its various messages resonate with a larger audience. Its one thing to try and replicate Salem or EIB, but as we saw with Air America, Al Franken ranting about racist conservatives or Randi Rhodes waxing poetic about an assasination of George W. Bush does not make successful talk radio.

I'm not saying Steiner's show was like that, clearly it wasn't. However, Steiner's ratings did drop 21% along with 17% for WYPR's overall ratings. Obviously something wasn't working and people stopped listening. Where as conservative talk radio is expanding.

Not surprisingly the same crowd that bemoans the loss of "public radio" also favors restoring the fairness doctrine. They complain that the market has failed to bring about diverse (read progressive) voices and opinions over the airwaves. They forget that markets are essentially about consumer choices, and as George Will quipped liberals define market failure as "consumers' not buying what liberals are selling."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lisa Gladden's Folly

At the Greater Baltimore Committee's Legislative Forum, Senator Lisa Gladden labeled those of us who argued against the recent tax increases, as "undemocratic," saying that "“we have a responsibility, if not to ourselves, then to the larger community. We have to pay taxes.”

The Examiner editorial revealed Gladden's statement for the ad hominem attack that it was, and that her goal was to silence critics without engaging their arguments. Gun Powder Chronicle made an even more astute observation labeling Gladden a liberal fascist. Gladden use of the term "undemocratic" is indicative of the progressive left's distortion of language and the meaning words. The left robs words of their true meaning so all that remains is what they want them to mean. A case in point is the term fascism. In Politics and the English Language, George Orwell wrote, "the word fascism has no meaning except in so far as it signifies something not desirable," hence the inane leftist trope that if you scratch a conservative hard enough underneath the surface you will find a budding fascist.

It is not surprising that Gladden made such a ridiculous statement; she has a history of making them. Last year, after she voted against Jessica's Law and for a bill barring restraints on dogs kept outside. Gladden’s asinine response was that her votes don’t mean that she takes the safety of dogs more seriously than the safety of children. She said he based her votes on both bills, “on their merits.” For Gladden, keeping dogs free of restraint had more merit than keeping child sex offenders off the street.

With such vapid logic, no wonder she is reduced to distorting language and smearing those she thinks should stay silent.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Get Well Soon Michael Wilbon

Growing up in the DC suburbs I was raised on the Washington Post. To be sure, I now read its news stories with more skepticism than I did in my younger days. However, the Post's sports page was must reading for me. During the late 80s and the 90s that meant you read Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, or as Kornheiser called him Mike "That Toddlin Town" Wilbon, in reference to Wilbon's affinity for his hometown of Chicago.

Before PTI and celebrity sports writers, Wilbon proved himself one of the best sports journalists in the country. He covered the Terps in the Len Bias era and the Redskins. I devoured all of his pieces, hungrily awaiting the next day's paper. Although I did not agree with all of his columns, he always made an argument you had to take seriously.

Wilbon recently suffered a heart attack, I wish him a speedy recovery.