Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Jason writes to urge readers who may have visited the links to the remembrances of Howard Zinn to be sure to check the Update at David Horowitz's site. Horowitz (and Jason) was afraid that readers might construe his contempt for Zinn's ideas as contempt for Zinn the man, and he clarifies his position at the Update.

Indeed, Howard Zinn was by all accounts a fine man.


Laughing at Olby

Jon Stewart wearies of the relentless name-calling by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and does a masterful parody of Olby in this skit. This'll be especially funny for anyone who has ever watched Olbermann for more than five minutes:

An eager readiness to personally insult another individual is a good indicator of what sort of character a man has. In Olbermann's case his disagreements over politics often degenerate quickly into the vilest sort of attacks on his opponents' very humanity. Dehumanization has been Olbermann's hole card for a couple of years now, but his ratings may reflect that his viewers, all but the hardest core, perhaps, are getting tired of it. Certainly when entertainers like Jon Stewart, who are on Olbermann's side on just about every substantive policy matter, begin to ridicule his persona, it's time to rethink the persona.

After this edition of the Daily Show it'll be awfully hard for Olbermann to insult anyone without reminding his viewers how creepy and silly Stewart made him look, and when viewers start thinking of a public man as a joke he very quickly loses his ability to influence their opinions.


Time to Go

You've no doubt heard that President Obama has decided that trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York City was a political albatross he didn't need hanging around his neck going into the 2010 elections and has overruled his Justice department's plans for a Manhattan media spectacle. The White House insists that KSM will still be tried in civilian rather than military court although the venue has yet to be determined. Bill Burck and Dana Perino at National Review Online give eight reasons why, on the contrary, the trial will indeed be held before a military tribunal and will be held in, of all places, Guantanamo Bay.

Meanwhile, it seems likely that Attorney General Eric Holder will soon "resign" from his office. Overruling his decision to hold the trial in civilian court in NYC will surely be received by him as a slap in the face and an expression of no confidence. Indeed, the man has been a constant source of distraction and embarrassment to the Obama administration since he took over the post. Burck and Perino remind us of some of his most infelicitous decisions:

It is a remarkable turn of events [being overruled on the KSM trial] for Attorney General Eric Holder, who, the White House has said for months, made the decision alone and was running the show. The White House tired, far more quickly than many expected, of the AG's bungled plan and realized that public opinion had turned decisively against the trial. Maybe the White House grew frustrated with the AG's mistakes on national-security matters, from releasing the CIA interrogation memoranda last spring over the vociferous protests of former CIA directors who served under Presidents Bush and Clinton, to commencing a criminal investigation of CIA interrogators who had previously been informed by career prosecutors that they would not be subject to prosecution, to deciding to Mirandize the Underwear Bomber without consulting the intelligence services and charge him as a criminal defendant with all the rights of an American citizen.

To these I would add his decision to not prosecute, against the advice of top Justice officials, the New Black Party thugs who were intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place in the 2008 election. I might also add his impolitic accusation that we are a nation of cowards about race, a claim that won him few admirers among the general public.

Eric Holder is a liability to the administration and patience with his missteps and pratfalls will, I think, soon run out. The last thing the Democrats need going into November is yet another Holderism sucking up media oxygen and forcing Democrat candidates to defend the indefensible. It certainly has been difficult for the White House to project an air of competence with Eric Holder running the Justice Department.


Ooh, Boy

As if the proponents of AGW (anthropogenic global warming) hadn't suffered enough damage to their credibility of late, now comes word of even more bad news. You might have heard that predictions of glacial retreat in the Himalayan mountains were based on rather tenuous evidence, and had to be retracted. Now we read a new revelation in the Telegraph U.K.

Here's the lede:

The United Nations' expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world's mountain tops on a student's dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming.

The IPCC's remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

Perhaps it's time for the world's climatologists to restore some respectability to their science and explain exactly what the empirical, rather than the anecdotal, data is for man-caused global warming, and exactly how that data has been attained, and precisely how they have arrived at their conclusions.

It would also be inexcusably irresponsible of us to pass any legislation, like cap and trade, that would jeopardize our economic well-being until we know exactly what's going on in the earth's atmosphere. That the glaciers are retreating seems pretty clear - I've seen it myself in Alaska. What's not at all clear is what's causing that retreat.

I know Al Gore has said that the science is settled and the debate is over, but a student's Master's thesis and a mountaineering article are not the sort of thing most people think of when they think of settled science.