Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Four Questions

The media continues to trivialize our politics by treating the presidential campaign as though it were a board game in which gaffes, scandals, missteps and debate zingers all get tallied up to delight the talking heads and newspaper columnists. Meanwhile, the voting public wishes they'd grow up and start doing their job. They can begin by pressing the candidates to answer some urgent questions and holding their feet to the fire until they do. Here are four questions with which each candidate should be confronted at the earliest opportunity, and they should be badgered with these questions every time they make a public appearance until they answer them:

1) The National Intelligence Estimate notwithstanding, the consensus seems to be that Iran is still engaged in the production of a nuclear device. The Iranians have threatened to use such a weapon against Israel once they have it. What will you do if Iran (or North Korea, for that matter) persists in pursuing a nuclear weapon? Please do not answer that you will sit down and talk with their leaders. The question presupposes that all such diplomatic efforts have failed. How far are you prepared to go to stop Iran or North Korea from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

2) The sub-prime mortgage crisis and the falling dollar have placed us on the verge of a global economic recession. What, precisely, will you do about the crisis we are facing? Please don't answer with platitudes about "hope" and "change" and "yes, we can". What measures will you take, that the Bush administration has not taken, to fix the problem?

3) Illegal immigrants are flooding into this country and placing enormous burdens upon our schools, hospitals, justice system, and welfare system. What, if anything, do you propose to do to stop the flow of illegal immigration? Please be specific. Telling us that we must secure our border is vague and unhelpful. Please state exactly what you propose to do, if anything, to secure the border.

4) Please name a Supreme Court justice, current or former, who would be most similar to a nominee that you would select for the court or federal bench should the opportunity arise during your presidency.

If the media neglect to ask these questions and to demand answers they will have failed to meet their responsibility to the public. If the questions are asked, but the candidates refuse to give clear answers then the candidates will have failed the voters, who will be given little upon which to base a responsible vote.


Al Gore, Call Your Office

There's a scientific tsunami welling up on the horizon and it bodes ill for those who've been for the last several years forecasting impending doom due to global warming. The data seem to show that for the last decade, even though greenhouse gas emissions have increased, global temperatures have not. In fact, they appear to be declining according to this piece in The Australian:

Catastrophic predictions of global warming usually conjure a notion of a tipping point, a point of no return.

Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth still warming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"

Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."

Duffy: "It's not only that it's not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there's any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it's put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."

Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn't support their case. "People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?"

Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."

There's much more to this story at the link, including an interesting discussion of the impact this news is going to have when it finally sinks in. You read it here first.


A Dutch Hero

Stephen Brown writes an encomium to one of the bravest men in the Western world and certainly in Europe. The man is Dutch Minister of parliament Geert Wilders who has been living for two years under the threat of death from Islamists who want to kill him because he refuses to submit to the dhimmi status that most of his colleagues have accepted.

Wilders has produced a 15 minute film about Islam which no European venue will show for fear of Muslim retaliation. Wilders is determined, nonetheless, that people see it and will probably put it on the internet. Read about this man's courageous efforts in Brown's essay.

UPDATE: Apparently even some United States based internet hosting companies are getting cold feet. The Jawa Report posts a conversation with Network Solutions about why they refused to host Wilders film.



Here's a stunning revelation: Senator Clinton's memory of events on her trip to Bosnia in the 90s is completely at variance with what actually happened.

Why didn't she just say, "I have no recollection of that"? After all, she's had considerable experience with that semantic construction.

In any case, incoming sniper fire is not the sort of thing one would be likely have a hazy memory of, I shouldn't think. Half the Democratic party is excited about the prospect of four, or even eight, more years of such prevarications from the Clintons, and probably 90% of the party would vote for her in November if she were nominated. It makes one wonder.