Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Presidents Q&A with House Republicans

If you missed the Presidents Q&A with the House Republicans which was broadcast live on C-span here it is. It is worth watching.

While the President has not moved to the center, I think he has come to a realization that he will have to work with Republicans if he is going to achieve anything, now that he does not have a super majority.

To hear a great question from our own Marsha Blackburn on the topic of health care, go to 29:31 in the video. She asks the question I wanted asked. The President’s response is disappointing but at least the question got asked.

While there is still a big gulf between our side and the other side, I do think (and you may call me naïve) it is possible to find common ground and achieve meaningful health care reform. Many of us share with the President a desire to lower health care cost and cover more people. What we have now is not sustainable. We must have reform. If the Democrats will abandon their 2700 page health care bill that radically remakes health care delivery, I think we can find areas of agreement that can improve health care delivery, cover more people, and lower cost. The problem is real. Reform is necessary.

It is worth watching this video to see the President’s remarks on the tone of partisanship and to see what he has to say about the danger of populism. “Danger of populism” is not a term the President uses, but that is what he is talking about. The same forces that were unleashed to defeat health care reform could also be used to make it impossible to advance any entitlement reform. This same anger could be used to defeat worthwhile and needed international trade agreements. I am in full support of the tea party movement and the grassroots effort that stopped the Obama revolution. I went to the tea party protest and consider myself part of the movement. But, in an environment that fosters anger and resentment necessary compromises and governance can be much more difficult.

If the President will step back from his radical agenda, I think pragmatist need to step forward and work with the President in areas where we can find agreement. Compromise is not a dirty word. Just as Republicans worked with President Bill Clinton to achieve welfare reform and just as Reagan worked with a Democratic congress and Tip O'neal to reform Social Security, Republicans can work with this President to solve the problems that face our nation if the President will not try to have it all his way.

There are times in this video where I think the President still comes across as lecturing and arrogant. I also think he appears as phony when he criticizes republicans for using polling and focus groups to frame the debate. He does say however, “But that is how we operate.” So, I am going to assume his remarks were also a self criticism.

It may all be for show but I think the President is trying to create a tone of civility and cooperation and respect. I don’t think the Republicans and the President are going to see eye to eye on many issues but I do think, or at least I hope, that the President has realized he must deal with the other side of the aisle. I am sure we would not have seen this outreach if the Democrats had not lost their super majority. There is nothing like a slight power shift to generate a spirit of compromise. If the President had never had his super majority to begin with, he may have governed from the center all along and worked with Republicans from the very start and not tried to ram legislation through without input from the other side.

To his credit, the President went into the lion’s den, met with the Republicans and took their hard questions. That is a start. We should hit the restart button, try again and see if he was sincere.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

What next on Global Warming?

I really don’t know what to believe about global warming any more. I am not a scientist. I only had the minimum required science courses in college. How is the average citizen to know the truth on complex matters like global warming?

Some years ago based on what I could learn, I became convinced that global warming was real. I thought the preponderance of the evidence supported the theory. (See, My Conversion on Global Warming) While the official scientific community seemed on board, the critics of the theory would drag out some unimpressive skeptic who was maybe a meteorologist or a TV weatherman or a “scientist” in an unrelated field. The big guns were on the side of those who supported global warming. I was not going to get my science from college dropout Rush Limbaugh. I concluded global warming theory must be real.

I was dismayed that many on the right continued to deny global warming. I thought those on the right should accept the science and then join the debate over the solutions. Even if one accepts that global warming is a reality, there is still much to debate. In fact, I thought the right would have the better solution for combating global warming than the left.

The right generally believes in progress and could advance a search for technological solutions while many on the left saw no solution except “green” energy and a reduction in our standard of living. The right understands the concept of the market and concepts like pricing externalities while the left sees only authoritarian command solutions to problems. I wanted the right to stop denying there was a problem and instead advance arguments for conservative solutions.

Now, I am not so sure. I am back in the skeptics column. Recent events have pushed me back. Climategate was a bombshell. The revelations of destroyed data, doctored data, fraud and silencing of critics shook my faith in the science.

Last week’s glaciergate revelations that major simple math errors were in the IPCC report makes me further doubt the science. If the work of the IPCC and the scientist who developed the reports is so sloppy that they miss very simple subtraction and division math, then why should I accept their complex computer math models than I can’t understand?

The revelations that some of these glaciergate errors were intentional in order to create a sense of urgency is further cause to doubt the whole science of global warming.

In addition, responsible credentialed “real” scientists are starting to poke holes in some of the theory or at least say the situation is not as dire as it was previously thought to be. Just today, I read a report that says that the amplification of the global warming due to carbon cycle feedback is “significantly less” than previously thought. This is not the work of global warming deniers with an agenda but is a new scientific finding. Read it, if in doubt.

Despite climategate, glaciergate, and new scientific finding that cast doubt on the rate at which global warming is occurring and on the strength of the consensus, I am still not ready to become a full-fledged global warming skeptic. I am not ready to join those who say the whole global warming science is the hoax of the century. I think research should continue. I don’t think we should do anything rash like even consider new treaties or a cap and trade bill until we have more certainty of the science.

I am not alone in shifting back toward the camp of the doubters. A recent poll conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that only 50 percent of Americans now say they are "somewhat" or "very worried" about global warming, a 13-point decrease in only two years. The percentage of Americans who think global warming is happening has declined 14 points, to 57 percent. The percentage of Americans who think global warming is caused mostly by human activities dropped 10 points, to 47 percent.

Where should we go from here? The believers in the theory should stop circling the wagons and protecting fraudulent and sloppy science for one thing. If you want to persuade me the problem is real, fire those who commit scientific fraud and destroy data and fire those who can’t do simple math. Work on gaining he public trust again. Stop silencing dissenting voices. Stop being activist and be scientist and the let the science take you where it will.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Obama focus-grouped paint-by-poll-numbers State of the Union address

I don't often agree with Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, but I agree with her analysis of the Presidents State of the Union address.

The president, we were told, spent a good deal of time in the days leading up to his State of the Union address, going over it with a fine-toothed comb, making changes and additions in longhand.

But judging from the speech, he also spent a lot of time going over the results of focus groups and polls. Indeed, the speech, despite its charm, humor, and occasionally impassioned rhetoric, had the feel of being focus-grouped within an inch of its life. There was a decidedly paint-by-poll-numbers air about it. (link)

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

President Obama's State of the Union address

In the State of Union address President Obama said he opposes earmarks, the influence of lobbyist, deficit spending, partisanship, and he advocates transparency in government.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Global Warming scientist admits faulty glacier data included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal who said a Himalayan glacier was melting at the alarming rate of 134 meters a year when he should have said it was melting at the rate of 23 meters a year and who said the glacier would disappear by 2035 when the real estimate was the year 2350 and who said that a study was "peer reviewed" when in fact it was a report from the World Wildlife Fund has admitted that he included false information in the IPCC report purely to put political pressure on world leaders. (link)

Given the revelations of Climategate and now Glaciergate, would anyone blame me if I lost my faith in the science of global warming?

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Monday, January 25, 2010

What a week

This past week has been a great week. The U.S. Supreme Court restored First Amendment rights, Air America went out of business, Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate election derailing the Obama revolution, and in Nashville, we Republicans had a great "Bacon and Eggs" summit.

Oh, and I almost forgot the Edwards humiliation.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dear Global Warming Scientist, I am not as smart as a global warming scientist but I think I am as smart as a fifth grader.

According to a recent news report, “Five glaring errors were discovered in one paragraph of the world's most authoritative report on global warming forcing the Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists who wrote it to apologize and promise to be more careful.”

The glaring errors were in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is the UN affiliated body that is considered the ultimate authority on climate change. It is their report that persuades the nations of the world global warming is real, that is man made and will have terrible consequences if it is not addressed.

Here is one of those glaring errors in the IPCC report. The report says that between 1845 and 1965, the Himalayan Pindari Glacier shrank by 2,840 meters. It says that's a rate of 135.2 meters a year. Now here is the part where I think I am as smart as a fifth grader. I know that that is not correct.

I would assume global warming scientists have very smart computers and they could get this math question right. However you don’t have to have really sophisticated scientific program on your computer to do this math. I have a build-in calculator on my desk top. At work, at any one time, I have three or four cheap calculators lying around. Without a calculator however, I can still work this problem. I really do want to do my little part to help the advancement of science, so here is my letter to the scientist at IPCC.

Dear Global warming scientist,

I really want us to get this global warming science stuff right. It could have terrible consequences if we get it wrong. You see, I am not a global warming scientist so I have been depending on you. I have been trusting the experts. I was led to believe the smartest people in the world were working on this global warming science. Also, you had Al Gore helping you. I was trusting you.

I am disappointed in your sloppy work. Also that climategate thing with the fraud and silencing of dissenting voices and the destruction of data and manipulation of data concerned me. Nevertheless, I still have a hard time believing that the whole scientific world is in on a super big conspiracy. Anyway, I am going to try to help you with your most recent problem of the glaring mistakes in the IPCC report. To do that, I am going to try to put this math problem in the form of a written fifth grade math question and I am going to walk you through it.

Math question. If between the year 1965 and 1846 a glacier shrinks 2,840 meters, how many meters a year did it shrink?

Step one: Subtract 1845 from 1966. This is the really, really tricky part. Both 1965 and 1846 are between the start of the year 1846 and the end of the year 1965. This is why you have to read the question very, very carefully and you have to think about the question. I could draw a time line if it would help you. The answer is 121.

Step two: Divide 2,840 by 121. I know borrowing numbers is hard. And, wow, decimals are really, really difficult. The answer is 23.47. If you round it to one decimal point it is 23.5. (I will explain rounding another time.)

See, the real answer is 23.5 meters a year; not 135.2. I don’t know how you got that answer. If you had only missed it a little I could understand. I sometime get confused on step one myself. So if you had got that wrong by one year your answer might have been off a little. I could understand. I don’t known how in the world you got 135.2, however. Where did that number come from?

Ok, that is all of the time I have tonight. I will address the other glaring errors at a later time. In the meantime please, please double check your math. Maybe Al Gore has a calculator? You are about to cause me to lose my global warming religion.

Rod Williams

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