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January 08, 2004
Blogging Around

Sometimes I wonder if there's anyone in Washington with the sense to read things like Baghdad Burning, but I doubt it.

I wonder what the hell is going on in Iraq and if anyone is in control of the troops. I mean, I do understand that it's necessary to demonize the "enemy" in order to get sane human beings to go out and kill people who are not trying to do them harm, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

(And I wonder why Iraqis always find it necessary to celebrate joy, or to commemorate grief, by firing guns, but that's the difference between a society based on violence and one that isn't I guess. It's a cultural gulf I probably won't be able to cross. For the record, I also wonder about Key West's irrational attachment to chickens and, as far as that goes, I don't always understand people, either, so maybe it's me.)

Molly Ivins finally has a new column out. And another, in fact, where she helps explode the myth that there's a Concrete Fairy out there somewhere building free roads for Texans to drive too fast on.

We fingerprint them, they fingerprint us, it's all an exercise in spite and futility. Which dipshit in the Bush Administration thought a register existed somewhere with neat documentation for the fingerprints, photos, and names of terrorists? And that fingerprinting tourists was a good way to frighten someone with a bomb under his jacket and a determination to die in the next few days in his heart?

Embarrassingly stupid, that's us.

Anyhow, I object to the whole fingerprinting thing, although I haven't discussed it before. I object to the idea of a government, any government, compiling a list of names, photos, and fingerprints of law-abiding citizens. I objected when they started collecting fingerprints for driver's license renewals and my objection to the policy remains strong even though my need for a license outweighed my inclination to make a public scene.

On the other hand (via Cliopatria) there's no doubt to sensible people that refusing to let people queue up for the bathroom is going to make trouble.

There are probably people who think it's wrong to mock religion, but how can I resist with this kind of material available?

Paying for access to the famous and powerful isn't new. Heck, I was listening to NPR that other day and they were discussing DeLay's long-time advocacy on behalf of foster children.

One of the things revealed in the report was that the charity he's founded (to create a "permanent foster family" subdivision/town sort of place in Texas) well, DeLay needs a lot of money to make this project happen so the charity is holding a fundraiser at the same time as the Republican national convention and...wait for it....there's a brochure detailing how much time you get with the President or Republican leaders for how much of a donation to this supposedly private charity.

Yeah, that's right. DeLay is selling access to the government for donations to his personal pet project.

Complaints have been filed and apparently the "non-political" status of this charity is being investigated.

When asked about it, Mr. DeLay said some people would jump on anything to make him look bad.

Back to blogs, I find Hal pointing out that the government is trying to keep a low profile on the story of the WMD disposal specialists who have quietly been removed from Iraq because we couldn't afford to keep them sitting there, eating their heads off, and playing poker for much longer and with the complete absence of any WMD in the country there really wasn't anything for them to actually do.

Unusually enough, Andrew Olmsted got on my nerves with his post on Kyoto. I agree that the protocol is flawed, but it's a long way from being "utterly worthless" in spite of the USofA's resistance to a mandate for lowering pollution, cleaning up the air, and trying to insure that the planet's water keeps being drinkable.

Nor do I find it valid to cite that recent "extinction" study to try and invalidate Kyoto.

The scientists who ran the study insisted it was very preliminary and not conclusive. Their very preliminary estimate indicated that from (IIRC) 10-40 percent of current species might be in danger of extinction. They insisted that the numbers were soft and the study wasn't meant to be the final word and they asked that the press release not cite alarmist and unsupportable numbers but they were overruled.

Anyhow, Andrew, it wasn't pseudoscience, and there was nothing wrong with the study, although to be honest I can see how you might not have known that. Don't blame the scientists. Blame the PR department.

(Nor do I feel that that UsofA's economy stands in danger of being damaged by implementation of Kyoto to the extent it's been pummeled by the Bush Administration, but that's a different rant. I'll just say that our economy would make the adjustment, just as the European economies are making the adjustment.)

William Sjostrom is upset because he doesn't understand the issues, but I didn't even understand the questions. Is there really such a thing as Unitarianism or is that a misspelling of Utilitarianism and are there really a lot of different kinds of Judaism? (No, don't bother to tell me. I don't really care.)

Heh. I agree with Daniel Drezner that it's not impressive to have a story on-line run to a whole WOW! five pages! But I know why the papers are doing it. It's ad space. The more pages you look at, the more ads they can run against one story and the more money they make, as his comments section points out.

I'm giving serious thought to removing everyone who refers to Dean as "The Mouth" or indulges in any similar name-calling from my blogroll. I am just so over that behavior. I mean, I understand it. There was a time I could barely type Bush's name without giving myself an aneurysm, but I'm just so over that kind of childishness that I find myself sighing and clicking out of any post where I see pointless name-calling.

Whoops! I take it back. The Nooner is back and drooling on herself in public again!

Over at the OpJour, she's letting us know that her idea of the kind of serious issue the Republican party needs to rally round and fight for is a flag-burning amendment.

Has anyone told her that we're at war and the world doesn't love us any more and the Supreme Court is smacking her hero and his Administration around for being unconstitutionally inclined and that unemployment is rising in part due to jobs being sent permanently out of the county and that about 10,000 seniors and their families have discovered in the last 30 days that Bush's much-lauded Medicare "prescription drug benefit" is being paid for in part by cutting the time an 80 year-old is given for recovering from a paralyzing stroke to 20 days and that the Bush Administration's attempts to slash veterans' benefits is making them rather unpopular with the armed forces, and that the rest of the Republican party is becoming disenchanted with the skyrocketing government expenditure?

I'm just saying. I'm pretty sure that if she was as smart as she thinks she is, she could find a slightly more important issue that might get the Republicans all fired up and ready to fight in '04.

No, I didn't bookmark the access to her columns because I won't be reading her words regularly. I don't find that her hiatus has improved her writing style, which is still mean-spirited and petty-minded and just not very good.

Howard Dean's rise is about two things. The first is the war. Most of the other serious Democratic candidates were reasonable about it, if you will.

You might ask what the "if you will" clause does in that sentence. I assure you, it does nothing. Gibberish.

(I've never understood how she gets published. Is she another Coulter? You know, micro-miniskirts and lots of cleavage to give the old guys a cheap thrill?)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:58 PM


Ummm, perhaps I'm just uninformed, but I don't know what Kyoto has to do with clean air or clean water. And since the U.S. has done pretty well in those areas (although, living not far from Denver, I have no doubt that we have more work to do in air quality in particular), I have more faith in our ability to resolve the issues independently than through a treaty that delays the effects of warming by six years. I'd love for you, or anyone, to explain to me why we should self-inflict economic damage on ourselves (damage, btw, that will be visited almost entirely on the poor) when the treaty doesn't really help anything.

And that's all predicated on the belief greenhouse gases are actually a factor in global warming, a premise that has yet to be validated scientifically. The rise in temperatures over the past century doesn't correlate with the rise in greenhouse gases, for example, which certainly suggests that the warming isn't being caused by industrialization. So you're advocating harming ourselves (and make no mistake, cutting emissions by the levels required by the treaty would result in massive disruptions to the economy, your blithe assumptions notwithstanding) when there's insufficient evidence that we're even attacking the right symptom.

Let's look at the question of economic harm. You claim that it won't do any damage to our economy, or that we'll adjust. I'd love to hear you explain how we can so completely retool our economy to avoid emissions of greenhouse gases without causing a massive disruption of the economy. Granted, I'm no economist, but it seems only logical to me that if companies are required to pour massive amounts of money into utilizing new technologies in order to reduce emissions, that money has to come from somewhere. And that means higher prices for everyone, or reduced wages, or both. And if prices go up and wages go down or stay the same, people buy fewer things, which further damages the economy. Please feel free to explain to me how I'm wrong here, but I don't think you will be able to do so. Kyoto requires us to cut back our emissions to 1990 levels. Since there aren't any magic ways to simply wave a wand and cut emissions, that means we have to either shut plants down or retool them to use new technologies that, to my knowledge, haven't been invented yet. I suppose we could build large numbers of nuclear plants, but the costs of building those are exorbitant, thanks to the Greens and their nuisance suits, so that's not really economically feasible. So once again, we're looking at companies either going out of business or having to invest their money in greenhouse-emission free technologies. I'm sure you understand that either of those is more than just a minor bump in our economy.

Oh, and by the way, Kyoto doesn't do anything about nations like China and India, which will account for a growing fraction of the greenhouse emissions over the next century. But they certainly weren't going to sign the treaty if they would be required to cut emissions, because they know damn well that would harm their economies. So the west will 'take one for the team' and let the third world continue to emit these so-called pollutants? That may make sense to you, but I'm afraid I can't see the logic to it.

So to sum up: Kyoto won't solve the problem of global warming, it will just forestall symptoms by six years. Global warming may not even be caused by greenhouse emissions, in which case Kyoto will have no effect on it. Kyoto will cause significant economic disruptions for the west. Look at it as a simple question of costs: does the beneficial impact of Kyoto outweigh its costs? Right now, that answer is a huge no.

And as an aside, if you're going to take me to task for something, a short email letting me know would be appreciated, else how can I defend myself?

And as yet another aside (look at me go), if you can provide a link to the scientists qualifying their results, I'll be happy to update my post. The article I read had nothing but positive things to say about the study, including someone who insisted that the study was a best case, and another who said it was ironclad. Science, as you know, is never ironclad. A true scientific hypothesis is falsifiable, and a true scientific experiment can is reproduceable. This study is neither, and I feel justified in therefore calling it advocacy rather than science. Or do you think it's a coincidence this has been released just as it appears Kyoto is going to fail because Russia isn't going to sign it?

Posted by: Andrew at January 8, 2004 04:35 PM

On another note, perhaps you should actually read the Noonan column before dismissing it. She dismisses the flag-burning amendment as trivial, she doesn't propose championing it.

Posted by: Andrew at January 8, 2004 05:46 PM

Andrew - I'll get to your longer comment when I have a sec today, but in response to your second one, I'm willing to admit that Noonan's writing gives me hives. It's so...so precious sometimes.

I really find her unreadable. Let's hope I'll have the honesty to just ignore her in the future. :)

Posted by: Anne at January 9, 2004 09:18 AM