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I have a new piece up at Powerline this morning, on the death of one of my mentors, producer David Brown, an outstanding man. For those interested, it's here.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2010
IRAN UPDATE – AT 8:49 P.M. ET: CNN is reporting that, in anticipation of tomorrow's pro-democracy demonstrations in Tehran, the regime is taking unprecedented measures to cut Iran off from the outside world:
(CNN) -- Iranian authorities have imposed a virtual information blockade after opposition leaders issued a call for supporters to take to the streets during an important government anniversary on Thursday, people inside the country are saying.
Residents of the Iranian capital said Wednesday that text messages on many messaging services have been blocked and Internet speeds have slowed to a crawl.
The Internet "comes on only a few minutes each day, but you never know when," one Iranian wrote in an e-mail to CNN, which he said took seven hours to send. "This has been going on for more than four days now. I contacted my Internet provider and they said it is out of their control."
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Islamic republic has announced "a permanent suspension of Google's e-mail services," and that a national e-mail service would soon be available.
More ominously, human rights groups and opposition Web sites have reported widespread arrests targeting journalists.
According to the Paris-based journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders, at least eight journalists were arrested Sunday and Monday, bringing the total number of reporters now in prison to at least 65.
"They have arrested everybody," said Nooshabeh Amiri, a journalist who fled Iran five years ago and now writes for the Persian Web site Rooz online from exile in Paris. Amiri said some of her former colleagues are trying to flee Iran.
Suppression is even occurring in the United States. Planet Iran, the best American website for pro-democracy news from Iran, is being hacked repeatedly. Its technical people are fighting to keep it on the air.
COMMENT: President Obama says he's still open to a deal with the Iranian leaders. After all, who are we to criticize their cultural choices?
February 10, 2010 Permalink
IRAN – THE CRITICAL HOUR – AT 7:17 P.M. ET: It's already February 11th in Tehran, although dawn is hours away.
February 11th is the day when the West has been promised some kind of punch by Iran's supreme office manager, or whatever he is. It's also the day when mass democracy demonstrations may come off. We say may because the regime has been arresting democracy leaders for months, and executing some of them. (You'll notice the uproar from "human rights" advocates.) We hope the demonstrations do get mounted, and help to weaken the mullahs still further.
In the meantime, the United States has taken some baby steps to show "toughness" toward Iran, as Fox reports:
The Obama administration is imposing new sanctions on several affiliates of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, targeting one person and four companies for penalties over their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.
The White House on Wednesday slapped new sanctions on several affiliates of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp. in response to Iran's defiant move to bolster its uranium enrichment program to levels capable of producing an atomic bomb.
The new sanctions target one person and four companies for penalties over their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.
The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it would freeze the assets in U.S. jurisdictions of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Rostam Qasemi and four subsidiaries of a construction firm that he commands and was hit with U.S. sanctions in 2007. The sanctions expand existing U.S. unilateral penalties against elements of the Guard Corps, which Western intelligence believes is spearheading Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
President Obama said he's "bent over backwards" to engage Iran in "constructive" dialogue and the U.S. will push the United Nations to sanction the country. Iran told nuclear inspectors on Wednesday that it will begin higher-grade uranium enrichment within days, Reuters reported.
COMMON: That's one small step for a man, and a nothing leap for mankind.
These are small, symbolic actions. No one in Iran will go broke over them. As for the UN, there are now reports that China may agree to "some" form of sanctions. But unless sanctions are overwhelming, and threaten the regime, they'll have no real effect. There are already sanctions on Iran. Their nuclear program has not changed. And China, an ally of Iran, will never agree to significant sanctions.
Next move? Administration officials are already talking about things "taking time." In other words, kick the can further.
Obama certainly knows that only serious action – a naval blockade, massive sanctions that cripple Iran's economy, even a direct military strike – are the only things that can produce the effect we want. But Obama is Obama, a profoundly left-wing ideologue who has no stomach for anything that actually works.
February 10, 2010 Permalink
SOCIAL NEWS – AT 5:33 P.M. ET: Just to make sure that your social calendars are up to date, we present the following items.
From the New York Post:
Disgraced former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has reportedly proposed to his baby mama -- and plans to buy a posh, $3.5 million beachfront home where they can live together.
Edwards popped the question last month at the same time he told his ex-mistress Rielle Hunter that he had issued a statement confirming that he indeed fathered her 2-year-old daughter Frances Quinn, The National Enquirer reported today.
Hunter said "yes" when Edwards asked her to be his bride, the newspaper reported.
An Edwards spokesman denied the report.
We'll go with the National Enquirer on this. They've been right on everything Edwards. You might wish to start thinking about gifts. Small, token things, like a yacht.
Also from the New York Post:
AN Arab ambassador has annulled his marriage after discovering his veiled wife-to-be had a beard and was cross-eyed.
The diplomat had only met the woman a few times, during which she had hidden her face behind a niqab.
Local media reported that after the marriage contract was signed, the man tried to give his new wife a smooch only to find she had facial hair.
The ambassador told an Islamic Sharia court in the United Arab Emirates that he was tricked into the marriage, as the woman's mother had shown his own mum pictures of her sister instead of her, the report said.
You mean, he didn't even get a little looky-loo before the marriage? Why, bless these old-fashioned girls.
Now watch, this guy will soon be running his country's intelligence service, and Janet Napolitano will be depending on his information. Dig your shelter now.
And from London's Daily Mail:
The internationally celebrated historian and TV presenter Niall Ferguson has broken up with his wife of 16 years after a string of adulterous affairs.
The 45-year-old Harvard professor has left former newspaper editor Susan Douglas, with whom he has three children, for his mistress, the Somalian-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Ms Hirsi Ali, 40, is a lawyer and former Dutch MP who wrote the script for a controversial film that criticised Islam and resulted in the assassination of its director. She is currently living under police protection in America.
Oh my, oh my. This presents Harvard with a major crisis. Hirsi Ali is a great feminist, but the feminist movement doesn't accept her because, although she is "of color," she doesn't follow the script. She's taken on radical Islam and never caught Bush Derangement Syndrome.
They must be meeting at Harvard to decide what to do with her when Niall brings her home. If there's a left-wing etiquette columnist, she will undoubtedly be consulted.
There is the latest social news. Now you can go to any party and talk.
February 10, 2010 Permalink
NEW YORK JUSTICE – AT 5:16 P.M. ET: This, from the New York Daily News, shows why it's so risky to have the mastermind of 9-11 tried in New York, with a New York jury:
A Manhattan grand jury voted Tuesday not to charge a Muslim jail chaplain with trying to sneak razors into a city jail, his defense lawyer said.
An ex-con who served time for a 1976 murder, Zulqarnain Abdu-Shahid told a grand jury that he'd forgotten the potential weapons were in his duffel bag, his lawyer said.
Abdu-Shahid, 58, was busted when a metal detector revealed he had straight razors and scissors in his bag as he reported to work at the Manhattan Detention Complex last week.
COMMENT: Yes sirree. Every man carries straight razors and scissors in his bag. We all know that.
Well, at least the D.A. tried to indict him. You know the old saying, "A prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich if he wants to." Apparently, not in New York.
I'd love to know the makeup of the grand jury. You'd have thought that any common-sense grand jury would have indicted the ex-con, and allowed the case to go to trial. Apparently, we must not offend.
The jails are filled with radicalized Muslims, and we know that radicalization takes place through the work of outside visitors.
Compare this please to the number of cases you've read about where kids are suspended from school, or worse, because they have aspirin in their bag or forgot that they had a screwdriver with them.
Would you trust a major terror trial to jurors like this?
February 10, 2010 Permalink
LITERARY NEWS – AT 10:54 A.M. ET: From Fox:
A "tea bag" reference in a recent Captain America comic book that has angered the Tea Party movement will be removed by Marvel Comics in future editions, the story's writer told FoxNews.com.
In issue No. 602 of Captain America, "Two Americas, Part One," the title hero and The Falcon, a black superhero from New York City, stumble upon a protest rally in Boise, Idaho. They see scores of protesters carrying signs that say "Stop the Socialists!" and "Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!"
Captain America says the protest appears to be an "anti-tax thing," and The Falcon jokes that he likely would not be welcomed into the crowd of "angry white folks."
Ed Brubaker, who wrote the story, told FoxNews.com he did not write the "Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!" sign shown in the edition, insisting that the words were added by someone in "lettering or production" just before being shipped to the printer. It will be changed in subsequent editions, he said.
COMMENT: What our children are reading. The left is even targeting the comics.
February 10, 2010 Permalink
BARONE SURVEYS THE WRECKAGE – AT 9:45 A.M. ET: Michael Barone examines the Obama nosedive and tries to find the reasons:
How could such smart people do so many stupid things? That question, or variations on it, is being asked in Washington and around the country about the Obama administration.
The same people who directed the campaign that defeated Hillary Clinton and routed John McCain, a campaign that raised far more money and attracted far more volunteers than any before it, have within a year come up with a legislative program that is crashing in ruins and that, to judge from recent polls, has left the Democratic party weaker than I have seen it in almost 50 years of closely following politics.
And the answers:
Some in Washington say that the problem is that Barack Obama has chosen to rely on his campaign staff rather than the wise old heads in Washington. But Obama and his team have had the benefit of advice from those wise old heads and from the smartest political strategist the Democratic party has produced in the past half-century, Bill Clinton.
A truly wise Washington analyst, National Journal's Jonathan Rauch, says the problem is one-party government. Presidents lead better, he argues, when they are constrained by the need to get bipartisan support.
There's something to that. Obama's three predecessors all had bipartisan initiatives: the 1990 tax package for George Bush 41, North American Free Trade Agreement approval for Clinton, the 2001 education bill and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit for George Bush 43. Obama has had no bipartisan initiatives of his own.
And in that he reveals who he is – a hyperpartisan. After all, Obama had the most left-wing record in the United States Senate. That was conspicuously ignored by the MSM during the campaign, but now his real beliefs are coming back to haunt him.
But Barone believes the problem is deeper:
Obama was faced with a fundamental choice. He could either chart a bipartisan course in response to the economic emergency, or he could try to expand government to Western European magnitude as Democratic congressional leaders, elected for years in monopartisan districts, had long wished to do.
The former community organizer and Chicago pol chose the latter course.
To the surprise of many who watched previous presidents present specific administration policies to Congress, he allowed Democratic leaders to design the stimulus package they rushed into law in six weeks.
One-third of the money went to state and local governments -- an obvious payoff to the public employee unions that contributed so much money to Democrats -- and much of it went to permanently increase the baseline spending of discretionary programs, a longtime goal of Democratic congressional leaders.
Team Obama failed to realize they were no longer running in Chicago or in the Democratic primaries or facing an electorate fed up with Republicans. And, more important, they failed to realize that vastly expanding government goes deeply against the American grain -- and against the basic appeal of their successful campaign.
As usual, Michael Barone displays considerable common sense. But the tone deafness in this administration continues to be remarkable.
Or maybe it isn't tone deafness.
Maybe they know exactly what they're doing, and will push through as much neo-socialism as they can before the hammer falls this November, hoping their programs will be irreversible.
February 10, 2010 Permalink
FOR YOUR SCHEDULING CONVENIENCE – AT 8:30 A.M. ET: Reader James Croak refers us to the following announcement from Washington:
The following Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearings have been postponed due to inclement weather this week:
- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, "Global Warming Impacts, Including Public Health, in the United States."
COMMENT: Pay no attention to the iceberg, Captain Smith. The Titanic is unsinkable.
What is outrageous is the anti-intellectualism on the global-warming issue. Despite the piling of evidence that the books were cooked and that measurements may have been wrong, the global warmers push on, not feeling any need to pause and study.
The science is settled. That's what we're told. And we were once told that the world is flat, that the Sun revolves around the Earth, and that heart victims have to avoid all exercise.
Scientists who warn us that the global warming data is unreliable are dismissed as the equivalent of Holocaust deniers. Apparently, the new definition of a true scientist is someone who agrees with Al Gore.
You can be sure that, if you really looked closely, you'd find a lot of money involved in this issue. But the fashionable ones don't want to look too closely.
February 10, 2010 Permalink
GOP GAINS DRAMATICALLY IN WAPO POLL – AT 8:13 A.M. ET: Even a poll that generally tilts a bit toward the Dems picks up the national trend. There'll be no happy sleigh riding at the White House today:
Republicans have significantly narrowed the gap with Democrats on who is trusted to deal with the country's problems and have sharply reduced several of President Obama's main political advantages, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll...
...Asked how they would vote in the November House elections, Americans split evenly -- 46 percent siding with the Democrats, 46 percent with the Republicans. As recently as four months ago, Democrats held a 51 to 39 percent advantage on this question.
Please note that the poll was taken among a random sampling of adults. More precise polls, taken among likely voters, have tended recently to give the GOP an even larger advantage.
Obama's overall approval rating is holding steady, with 51 percent of respondents giving him positive marks and 46 percent rating him negatively.
See what I mean? Other recent polls show Obama's approvals below the 50% "ship sinking" line.
A proper, cautionary note:
But there is about as much time between now and November as has elapsed since Obama held his June advantages. The president and his allies have started a new political offensive, seeking to rebound from the Democrats' loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by the late Edward M. Kennedy and salvage their effort to enact comprehensive health-care reform.
The political story of the year, the march of the independents:
The question asking Americans how they plan to vote in House races, known as the generic congressional vote, is an imperfect predictor of elections, but the GOP gains here amplify the extent of the Democrats' slide since they won the House in 2006. Four years ago, Democrats led Republicans on this question by a wide margin.
Among independents who are registered to vote, it's now a 51 to 35 percent GOP lead on this question, a mirror image of the Democrats' advantage among this group of voters on the eve of the 2006 midterms.
COMMENT: The dangers to our side: Overconfidence, and a misreading of the polls. The GOP isn't winning any popularity contests as a party. And the political operatives in the White House haven't lost their right hands. Further, the mainstream media will rejoin the Obama parade once the 2010 campaign really starts going.
We run as if we're 20 points behind. It's the only way in volatile politics.
February 10, 2010 Permalink
SHAKE IT – AT 7:59 A.M. ET: From Fox:
A rare moderate earthquake struck northern Illinois Wednesday morning, waking up residents in the Chicago area.
The 4.3 magnitude quake, centered 48 miles west of Chicago near the city of Sycamore, hit at 4 a.m. local time at a depth of about 3 miles, the USGS reported.
Geophysicist Amy Vaughn told the Chicago Sun Times the earthquake was "very widely felt" and the USGS phone lines were flooded with calls from residents asking about the shaking.
"It's mostly people who said 'we woke up and we thought we were going crazy,'" Vaughn said. "Mostly it’s rattling people awake."
COMMENT: The White House says there are reports of former President Bush visiting earthquake workers this morning and telling one of them, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
February 10, 2010 Permalink
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2010
BLUNT ADVICE FOR OBAMA – AT 10:07 P.M. ET: The president, sinking in war, sinking in peace, sinking in the hearts of his countrymen, is in serious trouble, and getting conflicting advice from every quarter.
Some of the soundest advice we've seen comes from the man who became the nation's first elected African-American governor, Doug Wilder of Virginia. He offers common sense to Obama in this piece in The Politico:
He must overhaul his own team, replacing the admittedly brilliant advisers who helped elect him with others more capable of helping him govern. Getting elected and getting things done for the people are two different jobs.
I am an admirer of Tim Kaine, whom I backed in his current position as one of my successors as Virginia governor and even recommended for the vice presidency. But a spate of recent losses in races that Democrats should have won underscores what has been obvious to me for a long time: The chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is the wrong job for him.
The changes must go much deeper. Obama’s West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their Chicago connections or because they signed on with Obama early during his presidential campaign.
One problem is that they do not have sufficient experience at governing at the executive branch level. The deeper problem is that they are not listening to the people.
That is an excellent summary of how Obama must institute, within his administration, change we can believe in.
Wilder points out that Democrats have been losing everywhere in the last year.
It's not rocket science where the American public wants the president to concentrate his energies...
...Voters were practically screaming one word with four simple letters: Jobs.
People will rightly hold Obama accountable. Obama must in turn hold the people on his own team accountable.
Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.
The president should keep uppermost in his mind the Biblical admonition as to what happens to those trees that do not bear "good fruit": The ax is already at the tree.
COMMENT: That says it rather bluntly. But it is sound advice. The administration needs a housecleaning. The president has thrown many others under the bus. There's still room. If not, a second bus can be ordered from General Motors, which Obama owns anyway.
If the president suffers one more major setback, especially in national security, he may become a figurehead, just muddling through until the 2012 election, assuming he wants to run at all.
February 9, 2010
WE GET TOUGH, WELL, WITHIN WEEKS – AT 7:55 P.M. ET: President Obama brought out the national-security team he trusts most, himself, to announce that we're really firming up on Iran. From The Times of London:
President Obama accused Iran yesterday of trying to build a bomb after Tehran’s nuclear scientists began enriching uranium closer to weapons grade in defiance of the United Nations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that its inspectors had been called to the Natanz plant to witness the beginning of work to upgrade Iran’s 3.5 per cent enriched uranium to 20 per cent.
“Despite the posturing that the nuclear power is only for civilian use ... they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponisation, and that is not acceptable to the international community,” Mr Obama declared. He threatened to hit Tehran with fresh UN-backed sanctions, possibly within weeks.
He threatened what? Sanctions have to be a joint effort.
The United States said that it was aiming for a new sanctions resolution at the UN Security Council before France relinquishes the rotating chair at the end of the month.
Russia, a longtime ally that has traditionally opposed tougher measures on Iran, voiced its strongest condemnations yet, raising hopes that Moscow will back sanctions. Russia’s vote could win over China, the last to hold out amongst the council’s five permanent members.
COMMENT: A little realism, please. Russia did voice strong condemnation, but did not pledge itself to specific new sanctions. And the idea that Russia could bring in China is quite a stretch. They're not mother and child.
And how does the president define sanctions? It's possible he could bring Russia and China aboard, but only if he accepts weak, ineffectual sanctions, the Neville Chamberlain gift-wrapped brand, available at all better discount stores. The ultimate objective is to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. Waving a piece of paper with weak sanctions won't do it.
A show of force in the waters off Iran might flash the necessary resolve.
February 9, 2010
A WEIRD WORLD VIEW – AT 7:17 P.M. ET: The president was on TV again today – he's trying to clock more air time than Jay Leno – and explained that Americans rejected his health-care plan because they didn't like the "process."
This is an argument so typical of a certain class of self-proclaimed "intellectuals." They are obsessed with "process." They are also, if you'll notice carefully, obsessed with style and money. Substance? Well, maybe there's some interest.
The president believes the public rejected the process because he doesn't believe they can understand the substance. I mean, who are those unclean peasants out there? What do they know of health care? Have they taken the Medical School Admissions Test? Since it's obvious they can't understand the substance of health reform, we deduce, as Sherlock Holmes might have, that it's the process that upsets them.
This is a major, perhaps the major problem of this administration. It is run by people who honestly believe that they're better than the rest of us. If we object to something, it couldn't possibly be because we honestly dissent. We're not good enough to dissent. The problem must lie somewhere else.
There was a bit of this in the Kennedy administration. And another Obama weakness – weakness itself, was typical of the Carter administration. Imagine, the worst of Kennedy and Carter, combined in one down-home Chicago package.
Why are we so blessed?
February 9, 2010
EVERYBODY'S DOIN' IT, DOIN' IT, DOIN' IT – AT 6:29 P.M. ET: The big rage this week is writing speech notes on your left hand. Sarah Palin did it for her speech to the Tea Partiers. Then, when she got some kidding, she flipped her left hand at a later appearance, revealing a "Hi, mom." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs showed a written-on left hand at his news conference today, needling Palin.
Now we have this:
No, it isn't Sarah, or even an American. It's the hand of a pro-government demonstrator in Tehran, expressing a view of France. We're not always the target.
February 9, 2010
ANOTHER DEM IN TROUBLE – AT 9:55 A.M. ET: This is New York, and we do scandals big time. None of this little stuff like stealing the public treasury. Our previous governor, Eliot Spitzer, had to resign when he got caught, literally, with his pants down, with a lady of the evening.
Now his replacement, David Paterson, whose approval rating is lower than the margin of error, is the subject of the biggest political rumor mill I've seen in New York politics in years:
ALBANY -- An embattled Gov. Paterson yesterday strongly denied rampant rumors of extramarital affairs and drug use as he blasted the media for printing "callous and sleazy" allegations.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Paterson lashed out at the press for "stretching the bounds of journalism" in an effort to confirm reports and gossip about his personal escapades.
The rumors have fueled rampant speculation that the governor is about to resign.
"For the last couple of weeks, I have been the subject of what, even by Albany standards, has been a spate of outrageous rumors about me," Paterson said.
The problem is, when he came into office he admitted to extramarital recreation, so his denials now seem weak.
"There is an accountability that should exist in the media. How do I get my reputation back?" the governor continued.
"Because I don't believe I have done anything to deserve this kind of bashing."
The Democratic Party wants Paterson, who is up for election to a full term this year, to step aside in favor of a more powerful candidate. Paterson doesn't want to bail out.
Were the rumors started by political opponents?
There is substantial buzz that The New York Times has a devastating story on Paterson in the works, but The Times has not confirmed it.
The governorship of New York has always been a prize, and occupants are often viewed as possible presidents. The state's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, wants the job. There are even rumors that Hillary Clinton has her eye on the governor's mansion.
Stay tuned. This may get juicy.
February 9, 2010 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 9:11 A.M. ET: From superb Middle East analyst Amir Taheri, in The Times of London, on the rising tensions in Iran, coinciding this week with the anniversary of the revolution that brought the mullahs to power:
For years, two clocks have been simultaneously ticking in Iran: one counts the regime’s days, the other marks progress towards a Khomeinist bomb. Thanks to the pro-democracy movement, the first clock may now be running faster.
What happens on the streets of Tehran this week may stop that clock, at least for now, or make it tick faster. That would help the 5+1 decide whether to increase pressure on Tehran or accept its coming nuclear arsenal as a fait accompli.
The regime has already executed two pro-democracy activists and sentenced nine others to death. These actions, designed to terrorise the people, appear to have had no effect as all opposition groups are vowing to continue the struggle for an Iranian republic.
For the first time in 30 years, a substantial segment of Iranian society, perhaps even a majority, is prepared for a democratic experience. Today the mood in Iran is very much like the one that made possible the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, and the creation of the first democratic parliament in the Muslim world. Rather than chasing the illusion of stopping the nuclear clock in Iran, the outside world should take greater notice of the clock of regime change.
COMMENT: Thursday, February 11th, is the day. Huge demonstrations are expected. The mullahs have promised some kind of "shock" to the world. We are waiting for Thursday.
February 9, 2010 Permalink
WHAT? CAN IT BE? MARK THIS DATE IN HISTORY – AT 8:35 A.M. ET: The New York Times has discovered that there's a global-warming scandal. A bit late, but at least they've come to the altar in a not-bad story with enough PC to assure modern-dance majors in their readership that The Times hasn't abandoned them:
Just over two years ago, Rajendra K. Pachauri seemed destined for a scientist’s version of sainthood: A vegetarian economist-engineer who leads the United Nations’ climate change panel, he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the panel, sharing the honor with former Vice President Al Gore.
Well, we'll give the lead a pass, although I don't think that's the scientist's version of sainthood. That's the political scientist's version.
But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest from climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, called for Dr. Pachauri’s resignation last week.
I love it. "Right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists." The Times finally noticed that there are some real scientists asking questions. But we'll give the paper another pass.
With a global climate treaty under negotiation and legislation pending in the United States, the climate panel has found itself in the political cross hairs, its judgments provoking passions normally reserved for issues like abortion and guns.
Okay, I know you're laughing. Look, this is the way The Times has to write it. But at least they wrote it. Be thankful for small blessings. Considering the paper's readership problems, increasingly small blessings.
The general consensus among mainstream scientists is that the errors are in any case minor and do not undermine the report’s conclusions.
Still, the escalating controversy has led even many of them to conclude that the Nobel-winning panel needs improved scientific standards as well as a policy about what kinds of other work its officers may pursue.
This is garbage. There is no such thing as a scientific "consensus." Science doesn't work by consensus. It's not a show of hands. It works by proof and observation. Many of the "mainstream" scientists have their careers invested in global warming, and won't let go. At least there's some understanding that standards must be elevated.
Dr. Pachauri acknowledged his role as an adviser and consultant to businesses, but he said that it was his responsibility as the panel’s chairman to disseminate its findings to industry.
Nonetheless, Christopher Monckton, a leading climate skeptic, called the panel corrupt, adding: “The chair is an Indian railroad engineer with very substantial direct and indirect financial vested interests in the matters covered in the climate panel’s report. What on earth is he doing there?”
In one case, the report included a sentence that said the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. The sentence was based on a decade-old interview with a glaciologist in a popular magazine; the scientist now says he was misquoted. The panel recently expressed “regret” for the error.
The panel was also criticized for citing a study about financial losses after extreme weather events that found an increase in such losses of 2 percent a year from 1970 to 2005. That study had not been peer reviewed at the time, although it was later on.
COMMENT: This article is a foot in the door. We are behind the British press in exposing the corruption in the global-warming "community." There's more to come. This is, so to speak, the tip of the iceberg, which may be melting or not.
February 9, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA HITS NEW LOW IN POLL – AT 8:08 A.M. ET: From National Journal's Hotline:
Independent voters see Pres. Obama in a negative light by a nearly 2-1 margin, according to a new Marist College survey, while almost half of voters say he has failed to meet their expectations.
The poll, conducted Feb. 1-3, showed just 44% of registered voters approving of Obama's job as president. 47% disapprove. But among indie voters, Obama's approval rating sits at a terrible 29%, while his disapproval rating is at 57%.
Obama's 44% job approval rating is the lowest he has scored in any non-internet poll since moving into the WH, according to a review of data compiled by Pollster.com.
And while GOPers strive to avoid attacking Obama personally, for fear of offending voters who see him in a favorable light personally, even that aura of invincibility is wearing off. Independent voters view Obama negatively, too, by a 39% favorable to 52% unfavorable margin. All registered voters still see Obama favorably by a 50%-44% margin, but that's down 5 points in just 2 months.
Voters are disappointed in what they got with Obama's first year. The poll shows 47% believe Obama has failed to meet their expectations -- including a quarter of Dems, 65% of GOPers and 53% of indie voters -- while just 42% say he has met their expectations. 38% say Obama's policies are moving the country in the wrong direction, while 37% say they're making the country better.
COMMENT: Appalling, utterly appalling, I write with undisguised delight. And the poll was taken among registered voters. Polls among likely voters generally show an even worse result for the godlike president.
There seems no real evidence that the administration has learned serious lessons from its political fall. And now it must confront the growing crisis with Iran. As we've asked before, will Obama be Kennedy or Carter, the Kennedy who learned from his first year, or the Carter who thought he was perfection itself?
Midterm election in nine months.
February 9, 2010 Permalink
MAYBE SOME SIGN OF SPINE ON TERRORISM? – AT 7:44 A.M. ET: Byron York, in the Washington Examiner, reports that some Republicans believe they're making progress in turning the Obamans into adults in the fight against terrorism:
On Capitol Hill, there's a war being fought over the War on Terror, and so far, Republicans are winning. Or at least they're winning the Battle of Miranda.
GOP lawmakers believe they are having some success in the effort to stiffen the spine of the Obama administration as it makes policy for dealing with captured terrorist suspects in the future. Even as the administration defends its decision to grant accused Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, the president himself is hinting that things might be done differently in the future.
"Should the practice of reading suspected terrorist their Miranda rights be reviewed?" CBS's Katie Couric asked President Obama during Sunday's Super Bowl interview.
"Absolutely," Obama answered. "Everything should be reviewed."
"It's important for us to recognize," Obama explained, "that when we're dealing with al Qaeda operatives, that they may have national security intelligence that we need, and it's important to make sure that the processes and procedures we approach with respect to these folks are not identical to the ones we would use if we were apprehending the local drug dealer."
Translation: Maybe we'll do it differently next time.
COMMENT: We'll have to see. There certainly will be a next time.
Douglas MacArthur, lamenting America's military status toward the end of his life, lamented, "All the wrong men got promoted." In Obama's world, all the wrong people got appointed, including Eric Holder and the Ivy League orchestra and chorus he brought to the Justice Department.
If Obama is serious, and I have my doubts, he'll have to sit down with Holder and show the attorney general a chart of the government. The president is at the top. It's time Obama acted the part.
By the way, Katie Couric did a surprisingly good job in that interview. Maybe she's starting to see that doing a fashion spread for a slick Manhattan magazine isn't the way to go.
February 9, 2010 Permalink