Tag Archives: left-wing

Nine years after Katrina, climate activists have earned their reward. We might pay dearly for it

Summary: We rely on warnings about threats from our watchmen, experts or amateurs, who see danger before we can. Our ability to respond depends on the clarity of their warnings. Sometimes we don’t listen; sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes we suffer because they minimize the danger or exaggerate the time until it arrives. Climate activists have practiced another form of alarm: exaggerating the certainty of the danger and minimizing the time until it hits. That works well, unless they’re wrong about both the timing and scale. Now all we can do is hope that the threat is small and distant, since we’re doing little to prepare.

Extreme Weather

Troubles lies ahead

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“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson, perhaps apocryphal

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Art Horn (meteorologist) set the background for this sad story in his 9 October 2010 post:

Four hurricanes made landfall on the United States during the 2004 season. All of them hit Florida. … Then there was 2005. The hurricane season of 2005 was one for the record books. The long term average number of named tropical storms in the Atlantic basin is 11. In 2005 there were an amazing 27. The long term average number of hurricanes is 6. In 2005 there were a record 15. Actually the hurricane seasons of 1933 and 1887 were probably very similar in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes. There were no satellites to see all the storms back … This was also the year of hurricane Katrina. …

Making the most of this moment was Al Gore, as in this speech at Sierra Club’s National Environmental Convention and Expo in San Francisco on 9 September 2005. Excerpt:

Winston Churchill, when the storm was gathering on continental Europe, provided warnings of what was at stake. And he said this about the government then in power in England — which wasn’t sure that the threat was real — he said, “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.” He continued, “The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.

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Krugman shows us why the Left loses, despite its advantages

Summary: This is the fourth in a series about why the Left loses. America’s drift to the Right since 1980 has not only become impossible to ignore, but has accelerated despite the many fundamentals favoring the Left. Such as demographics and the increasing acceptance of behaviors an anathema on the Right (e.g., gay marriage, abortion). Increased concentration of wealth and income by the 1% explains much of the Right’s success. As this series will show, weakness of the Left explains much of the rest.

Closed Mind

Contents

  1. A symptom of the problem
  2. Diagnosis
  3. Significance
  4. Other posts in this series
  5. More evidence

(1)  A symptom of the problem

Triumph of the Wrong“, Paul Krugman, op-ed in the New York Times, 6 November 2014 — Excerpt:

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday. … So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

First, there’s economic policy. … In short, the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances.

Then there’s health reform, where Republicans were very clear about what was supposed to happen: minimal enrollments, more people losing insurance than gaining it, soaring costs. Reality, so far, has begged to differ, delivering above-predicted sign-ups, a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, premiums well below expectations, and a sharp slowdown in overall health spending.

And we shouldn’t forget the most important wrongness of all, on climate change. As late as 2008, some Republicans were willing to admit that the problem is real, and even advocate serious policies to limit emissions — Senator John McCain proposed a cap-and-trade system similar to Democratic proposals. But these days the party is dominated by climate denialists, and to some extent by conspiracy theorists who insist that the whole issue is a hoax concocted by a cabal of left-wing scientists. Now these people will be in a position to block action for years to come, quite possibly pushing us past the point of no return.

One of these three things is not like the others. For the first two Krugman clearly identifies the GOP view and provides rebuttals, all supported by links (I agree 100%). The third asserts that the GOP is dominated by climate extremists — and implies that the Democrats represent the consensus of climate scientists. He provides no evidence for either claim; there are reasons to doubt both. Certainly the public does, with climate change near the bottom of major threats (See Gallup polls, other polls, other evidence).

Is the Republican Party “dominated by denialists?” In Leftist usage, “denialist” has no fixed meaning beyond “people who disagree with me about climate change”. Much like “terrorist” to the Right, it’s a political tool rather than a category. It includes prominent climate scientists skeptical of some aspects of the IPCC’s views (e.g., Judith Curry and Roger Pielke Sr) — or critical of the Left’s exaggerations of the IPCC’s views, and have supported their view with studies in the peer-reviewed literature (e.g., Roger Pielke Jr).

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Proof pointing to the people guilty of weakening America

Summary: We, Americans, delight in creative explanations blaming others for our problems. “It’s not my fault” is our mantra. Here are two examples suggesting that we can find the guilty parties can be found in the mirror. We can do better.

Einstein about problems

He didn’t say it, but should have

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In these pages I’ve attempted to convey some of the astonishing aspects of 21st century America. None are more astonishing than our disinterest in learning from our experiences (both Left and Right), and the parallel behavior of Left and Right (about which they’re oblivious). I’ve written scores of posts documenting these phenomena.

The conclusion drawn about these posts by many readers: they accurately describe foolish behavior of the other side (the bad guys), but say I show bias and politicization by pointing out similar behavior by the good guys (which is so obviously different). How sad to see such willful blindness. It’s one of the reasons I wonder about our capacity for self-government. The blind need guides. Perhaps that’s how the 1% see their relationship with us.

Here is an example for each.

Bush = Hitler

The Day of Action protest, 18 March 2006

(1) Bush is Hitler. So is Obama

Many at the Left said that President Bush Jr was like Hitler. Zomblog and Ringo’s Pictures have collected examples. Lied us into wars, illegal government surveillance, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay without charges or trials. The Right laughed.

Now the Left applauds Obama, with his illegal surveillance programs, most aggressive-ever use of the Espionage Act of 1917. continued use of Guantanamo Bay, expanded assassination programs (including US citizens). Most of the same things they condemned Bush Jr for doing, plus more that Bush Jr did not dare do.

And now the Right condemns Obama as — Hitler. David Neiwert at Orcinus has a few examples. Google Images points to hundreds more.

This suggests that both Left and Right love authoritarians, so long as they are on the correct side of the political aisle. Both are oblivious to the similarity of their behaviors to the behavior of those they despise. No wonder our politics have become so dysfunctional.

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Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America

Summary: Another in a long series of studies illustrating America’s inability to process information, and our collapse into tribes incapable (or unwilling) to communicate with one another. Today we look at reactions to posts on the FM website. These attacks from both Left and Right test its accuracy and fairness. You judge the result.

Here’s a hors d’oeuvre. Yes, they’re both talking about me:

“The North Pole is a frickin’ LAKE, you ass. You are either being paid well for these posts, or you are off your meds. I swear, these Baghdad Bobs are going to be crowing about the earth cooling right up until their proteins start congealing from the heat.”  {by Lidia; link}

“Perhaps a step back on your global warming doom nonsense is in order as well.” {by climate change skeptic Jeff Condon, aka Jeff Id, of The Air Vent; link}

Truth Will Make You Free

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Contents

  1. Journalism
  2. Examples of attacks by the alarmists
  3. Examples of attacks by the skeptics
  4. Conclusions
  5. For More Information

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(1)  Journalism

Most of what we do at the FM website is journalism, citing data and experts in ways that attempt to illuminate trends in America and the world. In a society become madly tribal, how you tell if the reporting is accurate and fair?  Here are some answers to these questions for the FM website.

Accuracy

Hindsight — applying the test of time to old posts — provides the acid test of accuracy. For the FM website posts you can see the pages on the top menu bar recording past successes and mistakes (Smackdowns) going back to 2003. I believe you’ll find it an impressive record.

Fairness

Subjective evaluation of balance and fairness is more difficult. Fortunately others do this for us. For examples see Politics of the FM site: radical leftist reformer or right-wing iconoclast? I’m the former to the latter, and the latter to the former.

For a more recent example see the post 184 posts about climate change. Straight journalism: excerpts from reports of the IPCC, the major climate agencies, and the peer-reviewed literature (plus analysis of the politics, which is mostly ignored). I thought these would be useful and uncontroversial. As I should have known, these have received attacks from both sides — with few substantive rebuttals.

It’s an indicator of fairness and balance, perhaps the best available in mad 21st C America.

We can draw wider inferences from this data, and the similar results on thousands of other websites. In America truth is tribal. Wearing blinders is mandatory. Heterodox thought is condemned. Evidence follows (mostly from other websites; the comments to the posts themselves sizzle with outrage).

(2) Examples of attacks by the alarmists

(a)  Comment by Robert Marston Fanney (fantasy writer; bio here), at his blog RobertScribbler: “Scribbling for economic, social, and environmental justice”, 27 January 2014. In reply to a comment citing my post about the pause and a post contrasting hysterical statements about climate doom with an exchange of views between two climate scientists.

“This is classic poor representation of the science from a blog that appears to have been wrapped up in right-wing misinformation, at least in this case.”

He follow with a series of simple factual errors. Details here.

(b)  From a comment thread at Naked Capitalism, in a post where Yves Smith cites two of my posts.

“The fact that he’s a climate denialist also doesn’t do much for his case.” {By Joe; link}

Joe’s reasons were frivolous (my posts steadfastly defend the IPCC consensus), but steadfastly held. Next, a fun rebuttal:

“The North Pole is a frickin’ LAKE, you ass. You are either being paid well for these posts, or you are off your meds. I swear, these Baghdad Bobs are going to be crowing about the earth cooling right up until their proteins start congealing from the heat.”  {by Lidia; link}

The story about a lake at the North Pole was denied as bogus by the science group it was attributed to. The bit about global cooling is tribalism. I’m called a denier, therefore I must believe in global cooling. QED!  In fact I’ve written 4 posts debunking the subject. No admission of error from Lidia, of course.

(c)  Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder) published “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change” at 538, provoking a two-minute hate by the Left. I had the temerity to cite the peer-reviewed literature supporting his view (and the lack of offsetting articles in rebuttal). See the responses; feel the hate flow.

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The NRA feeds our fears, the fast track to political power in America

Summary: Both Left and Right motivate us by fear. They’re professionals at propaganda and manipulation. They choose fear as a theme for good reason: because it works. We’ve looked at many examples from the Left (see the links in the last section). Today we look at an unusually vivid example from the Right. Our weakness makes us easy to lead. But we can do better. Let’s not let fear so easily guide us. The path to reform starts with each of us, as individuals.

“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”
— Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)

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Another day in America, another mass shooting. Today’s is in Cobb, GA. Six casualties, plus the dead gunman. This does not happen in other developed nations. The NRA’s CEO explains why it happens so often in America.

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Fear by Van Gogh

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Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA

Speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)
6 April 2014

Much of this speech is inspiration and strikes home truths; I wish others would echo his call to action in defense of America. Much is factually incorrect (e.g., crime rates have been falling for 2 decades). Much is quite mad. It’s 100% professional-quality fear-mongering, by a powerful organization with a steel grip on an important piece of US public policy

See the video.  Excerpt from the transcript:

Freedom has never needed our defense more than now. Almost everywhere you look, something has gone wrong. You feel it in your heart, you know it in your gut. Something has gone wrong. The core values we believe in, the things we care about most, are changing. Eroding. Our right to speak. Our right to gather. Our right to privacy. The freedom to work, and practice our religion, and raise and protect our families the way we see fit.

… They are core freedoms. The core values that have always defined us as a nation and we feel them — we feel them — slipping away. All across America, everywhere I go, people come up to me and say, “Wayne, I’ve never been worried about this country — until now.” Not with anger, but with sadness in their eyes.

… We fear for the safety of our families — it’s why neighborhood streets that were once filled with bicycles and skateboards, laughter in the air, now sit empty and silent. In virtually every way, for the things we care about most, we feel profound loss.

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Why the Left loses: we see their vision of a new America

Summary: Left and right are engaged in a never-ending struggle not just for control of America’s politics, but for its soul. Since 1980 the Right has been winning, slowly rolling back the essential aspects of the New Deal. Today we have another chapter explaining why the Left loses. Their weakness is self-inflicted. Let’s hope they find it within themselves to change; we need at least one sane wing of the political spectrum.

Yellow Submarine

The Left takes us to their vision of a new world

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Rape Happens Here“, Simon van Zuylen-Wood, Philadelphia Magazine, 24 April 2014 — Opening

For 150 years, leafy, progressive Swarthmore College tried to resolve student conflicts in the best Quaker tradition — peacefully and constructively. Then came 91 complaints of sexual misconduct. In a single year.

Read it in full; you’ll find astonishing stories on every page. It’s a story of crazy by both students and administrators (and I wonder about the writer as well). Dumb (often inexplicable) behavior by all, including apparent amnesia about the existence of police, intense “claims of victimization” by all sides, elevation of personal feelings over facts, use of campus disciplinary machinery to punish heterodox ideology, and confused thinking (e.g., what is rape, beyond feeling “scared, powerless, and traumatized”?).

It’s another story of modern America’s inability to handle a problem adequately managed by the other developed nations. We’re exceptional!

More about this article:

  1. Read the comments, many from students at Swarthmore.
  2. Note that one-third of 91 complaints of misconduct (from harassment to rape) in 2013 concerned incidents from previous years. So the number of complaints of 2013 incidents were roughly equivalent to 7% of Swarthmore’s women students (Swarthmore has 1,600 students, 51% women).
  3. See the statement in the next section by Swarthmore’s police chief about rape reports and convictions (the author didn’t quote either the campus or local police).

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We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today

Summary:  One of the great themes of the FM website is our clouded vision, the American people’s inability to clearly see the world and our susceptibility to propaganda. It’s central to almost all of our large problems. It’s one of the most important issues of our time, for I doubt that reform remains impossible for a people so confused and gullible. Today we have an incisive essay about this by Charles Simic, a poet and keen observer of our society.

Girl looks into a mirror

If only we had a mirror in which to see ourselves, and the nature of our folly

Matthew 7:5: “… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Contents

  1. The Age of Ignorance
  2. My comment on Simic’s essay
  3. About the author
  4. For More Information

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Age of Ignorance

by Charles Simic, Blog of the New York Review of Books
20 March 2012
Posted with their generous permission.

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

It took years of indifference and stupidity to make us as ignorant as we are today. Anyone who has taught college over the last forty years, as I have, can tell you how much less students coming out of high school know every year. At first it was shocking, but it no longer surprises any college instructor that the nice and eager young people enrolled in your classes have no ability to grasp most of the material being taught.

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