Monday, March 30, 2009

Global warming (updated)

I haven't posted too much recently on global warming, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), or as it is now known, climate change. But a few stories have popped up that deserve mention.

It was Earth Hour Saturday night. In case you missed it, you were supposed to turn off all your electricity for one hour from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. This was a worldwide event, although I'm not sure how that was going to work. This was another one of those stunts that's supposed to somehow make us feel better about climate change without really making any impact on the actual problem. So--let's look around and see how things actually went.

The good folks at WattsUpWithThat link to some graphs of power consumption in California that show that the whole thing was a bust, at least in our most environmentally conscious state. As you can clearly see, there is no step down in power consumption, no decrease in the power load during the magical hour--none. The Saturday night graph is compared to the graph for Sunday night, and they are almost exactly the same.

But surely Al Gore participated in this altruistic exercise, right?
President of the Tennessee Center For Policy Research Drew Johnson took a Saturday drive by Al Gore’s during the time most environmentalists went dark:

I pulled up to Al’s house, located in the posh Belle Meade section of Nashville, at 8:48pm – right in the middle of Earth Hour. I found that the main spotlights that usually illuminate his 9,000 square foot mansion were dark, but several of the lights inside the house were on.
In fact, most of the windows were lit by the familiar blue-ish hue indicating that floor lamps and ceiling fixtures were off, but TV screens and computer monitors were hard at work. (In other words, his house looked the way most houses look about 1:45am when their inhabitants are distractedly watching “Cheaters” or “Chelsea Lately” reruns.)
The kicker, though, were the dozen or so floodlights grandly highlighting several trees and illuminating the driveway entrance of Gore’s mansion.

Gore responded this morning to these observations, claiming that his lights were definitely off, and proudly trumpeting the fact that his home is "powered by geothermal power." However, as one commenter noted, "Adding a geothermal system is roughly like spraying silicone on a rusty bicycle chain – both actions reduce the amount of energy needed to achieve your task, but it would be as wrong to call the bicycle “silicone powered” as it is to say his house is 'geothermal powered.'" As another commenter put it, "I thought the point of the event was to show support for energy-saving efforts, and thus “save the planet” efforts, by not using power for that hour? If that WAS the point, then Mr. Gore missed it."

But hey, who cares, right? Magical thinking is fun!

And finally, our neighbors in Fargo are suffering through some of the worst flooding in years. Guess what? Yep--it's all because of the pesky global warming! Obama even says so:
If you look at the flooding that's going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, 'If you see an increase of two degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?'" Obama told reporters at the White House Monday. "That indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously.

Except for the FACT that there is no evidence that global warming/AGW/climate change has anything to do with the Fargo flooding. In fact, there is good evidence that record cold in the area has helped stave off an even worse disaster:
The river crested in Fargo at 40.82 feet (12.44 meters) shortly after midnight yesterday, never reaching the 42-foot forecast the weather service expected, which would have put it at the top of some city dikes. The crest broke the record of 40.1 feet set in April 1897.
The river was at 40.27 feet as of 4:15 a.m. local time this morning and was forecast to recede to 38.1 feet as of 1 a.m. on April 5, according to the National Weather Service.

Freezing Temperatures
Temperatures as cold as 7 degrees Fahrenheit froze water running into the river and are responsible for turning back the flood, said David Kellenbenz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota, about 80 miles north of Fargo.

Hmmmmm . . .

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The New Religion

This picture was snapped in the children's section of a Borders bookstore in Dallas.

. . . and the children shall lead them . . .

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tea parties and Obama's grass roots appeal

I've noticed some snickering from some folks about the "tea parties" that have been a feature of the political landscape over the last few weeks. The MSM seems to have cast a blind eye on the whole phenomenon, with the rallies barely receiveing any coverage at all. The LA Times was recently taken to task for failing to report on a rally which drew some 15,000 people; they actually claimed it wasn't "newsworthy." Right.

Here’s a partial list of the cities that have seen Tea Party Protests rallies: Cincinnati, Nebraska, Tampa, Lexington, Ridgefield, Conn., Raleigh, Orlando, D.C., Staten Island, Pasadena, Boston, Rochester, N.Y., Jacksonville, Minnesota, Cleveland, Columbus, Mo., Little Rock, Ark., Philadelphia, Kansas City, Harrisburg, Green Bay, Salt Lake City, Fullertown, Boise, Monterey, Maui, Yonkers, Utah, Tucson, Phoenix, Hoboken and Chicago. I do believe there was even one down in Lafayette, LA. According to some sources, there are another 150 events planned in the coming weeks, many to coincide with April 15th.

Of course, none of this is "newsworthy." Especially if it doesn't advance the political narrative.

What a contrast, then, with Obama's attempt at grass roots organization. A few days ago, the President called for nationwide house parties this past weekend to build support for his economic stimulus plan. Apparently, not a lot of folks seem interested:
A McClatchy survey of sign-up rosters for a score of cities across the country revealed only 34 committed attendees in Tacoma, Wash., as of midafternoon Friday; in Fort Worth, Texas, only 54, and in Sacramento, Calif., just 78.

"Before the election, we would have had 500 to 800," said Kim Mack, 46, a Sacramento city-facility manager who's hosted house parties for political figures and causes since the mid-'90s.

Kinda shabby for a veteran community organizer, don't you think?

I haven't been able to find any real numbers for what happened at the house parties, but I did see that the ACORN sponsored AIG protests were a fizzle. At this Connecticut rally, only one bus full of protesters showed up, followed by some 20 vans of reporters.

And this is just priceless:
The protesters stopped at one point in an organic grocery store and were suprised to learn that many AIG execs were shoppers there, and that according to the store's proprietor, they were actually very nice people. The flummoxed protesters spent several minutes outside trying to figure out how such "evil" people could be nice to an organic grocer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A long 4 years?

I wasn't going to post something new on politics today. I was even going to let the whole "Special Olympics" thing go--it was a stupid gaffe, but I don't think anyone believes that Obama is mean to cripples.

It is a question of balance, though. I use the word hypocrisy a lot, and I've come to realize that maybe that isn't what I'm getting angry about. There is hypocrisy everywhere, everyday, in everyone; it's part of our humanity, part of what makes us human.

Balance is a lot closer to what I'm trying to capture. Imagine if Bush had made the same comment that Obama did on Leno; how do you think the press would have reacted, and more importantly, for HOW LONG? Remember, this is the Hope and Change guy we are talking about; he was so much smarter and better than the others, so well-spoken. He was going to bring a fresh new face to our relations with our international friends and enemies.

The Anchoress says it best:
Can you IMAGINE what the press and the Dems would have done with the Irish PM Teleprompter gaffe (the press has helpfully embargoed the video, so Obama doesn’t have to see it playing 24/7, as Bush would have - had Bush so gaffed). Can you IMAGINE what the press and the Dems would have done if Bush had given the Prime Minister of Great Britain a lousy pack of 50 “Classic” DVD’s that didn’t work in the UK?

Yeah, I know--she's just an overweight, self-centered nag. Read the article--see what she has to say, and maybe try not to worry about her appearance.
I just heard about the region code gaffe with the British Prime Minister's DVD "gift:"
While not exactly a film buff, Gordon Brown was touched when Barack Obama gave him a set of 25 classic American movies – including Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins - on his recent visit to Washington.

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words "wrong region" came up on his screen...

Is this really the guy everybody voted for?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Evil bonuses

According to ABC News, the good folks at AIG kept handing out the political donations, even after they received more than $85 billion in federal funds to keep from falling apart.

Of the top twelve recipients of AIG's political donations, only 4 were Republicans, including John McCain, who received almost $60,000. The top two recipients? Sen. Chris Dodd and Presidential candidate Barack Obama, who together received over $200,000, nearly 63% of what AIG gave to the top 5 people on the list.

No word yet on whether those listed are planning on returning the money.

In a related note, it appears that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also beneficiaries of recent Federal bailout money, are planning retention bonuses for their own executives; in the case of Fannie Mae, this will be to the tune of some $611,000 each for 4 top managers.

The bonuses were authorized last year by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which seized control of Fannie and Freddie in September. The bonuses are more than double last year's, which ranged from $200,000 to $260,000.

It will be nice to see Barney Frank calling up these guys for a visit to his committee; maybe Jon Stewart can invite them to his show.

Think it'll happen?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jon Stewart's insider info

Much being made of Jon Stewart's skewering of Jim Cramer recently on his show. Cramer's kind of lame, so I guess Stewart figured he would be an easy target to shoot at. I mean, it's not like there isn't any other political fodder out there for the comedians, right? Bumbling foreign policy, our economy is "fundamentally sound," picking every tax cheat they can find for top posts, charging war vets for their care, silly fights with right-wing talkshow hosts in the middle of the deepest economic crisis in 70-odd years, etc.

Well, Stewart apparently had a little help:

Jon Stewart, the scourge of Wall Street and bane of CNBC, may have had a secret weapon in his corner to help him prep for his grudge match with "Mad Money" host, Jim Cramer - his older brother.

As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, Stewart's brother, Larry Leibowitz, is head of US Markets & Global Technology at NYSE Euronext. (Stewart's given surname is also "Leibowitz," but he famously told "60 Minutes" that he changed it to "Stewart" because Leibowitz "sounded too Hollywood"). Larry has also held high positions at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.

A Page Six spy who recently shared an elevator ride at the NYSE with Leibowitz and Big Board CEO Duncan Niederauer says, "They both got off on the sixth floor, after Leibowitz had practically been doing everything but shine his shoes for the short ride up. What a routine they have. One brother pretends to kick Wall Street's butt by crucifying Cramer on his show, while the other brother is down on Wall Street kissing it."

'Cause, you know, cable television is the real malevolent power behind the financial crisis. Mustache-twisting CEOs use financial news programs to manufacture consent!

I mean, that would be like me having a left-wing brother who reads Firedoglake and Talking Points everyday and probably has Carville and Begala on speed dial and . . .

. . . oh wait--I do!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wanting the President to fail

Much has been made of Rush Limbaugh's "I want him to fail" statement that he made in regard to President Obama. The statements, which most agree have been taken out of context, have been the fodder for the "Rush is the Republican God" movement coming out of the White House, ably orchestrated by Rahm Emanuel, Paul Begala and the incredibly good-looking James Carville. Funny--I don't remember Rove or Cheney or the Bush White House ginning up talking points memos about Michael Moore. This is Milhousian, don't you think? But I digress.

It seems that Carville suffers from the same brand of "patriotism" that he accuses Rush of being infected with:

[on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001]Just minutes before learning of the terrorist attacks on America, Democratic strategist James Carville was hoping for President Bush to fail, telling a group of Washington reporters: “I certainly hope he doesn’t succeed.”

Carville was joined by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who seemed encouraged by a survey he had just completed that revealed public misgivings about the newly minted president.

“We rush into these focus groups with these doubts that people have about him, and I’m wanting them to turn against him,” Greenberg admitted.

The pollster added with a chuckle of disbelief: “They don’t want him to fail. I mean, they think it matters if the president of the United States fails.”

These remarks were quickly forgotten by the press due in large part to the terrorists attacks which subsequently dominated the news coverage. To be fair:
Minutes later, as news of the terrorist attacks reached the hotel conference room where the Democrats were having breakfast with the reporters, Carville announced: "Disregard everything we just said! This changes everything!"

You don't always see Jimmy backpedal like that, so I guess I'll give him some credit.

Surprising that these long ago quotes haven't received the play in the media that they deserve.

Friday, March 6, 2009

YO! It's the First Lady!

I had to look closely at this picture to figure it out.

No--I get the part about Michelle Obama spending some time volunteering at a soup kitchen.

But it's like she's mugging for the camera, posing for a photo . . .

. . . and she is! The "homeless" dude that she is plating up a lunch for is taking her picture--WITH HIS CELL PHONE!

If it weren't for soup kitchens, many Americans would go to bed tonight without their cell phones.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Things I am learning (or re-learning)

It's been an interesting 2 weeks since Catherine arrived. It has been 20 years since I have been involved in the life of a newborn. So, I am learning, or re-learning, some lessons about the care and feeding of a newborn human being. Such as . . .

1. Babies poop a lot. A whole lot. Much of Catherine's metabolic output goes to her converting breast milk into something mushy and yellow that my wife happily insists "smells like yogurt!" Ummmm, Dannon it is not.

2. I do not produce breast milk, no matter what Catherine seems to think.

3. Babies sleep a lot. I think that they withdraw sleep from their parents and use it to supplement their own. Anya and I are winding up like stumbling zombies by about 4 in the afternoon. And it is so cool to watch and listen to her sleep. The strangest noises are emitted--grunts, coos, sighs. Lately she's begun dreaming, I guess, based on the rapid eye movements she exhibits during her naps. Just what the heck does a newborn dream about anyway? I imagine her brain is exploring new connections, axons and dendrites reaching out everywhere, synapses firing and communicating.

4. Her siblings are quite protective of her. If I make any gentle jokes about Catherine, Emma immediately rises up to defend her. Even big sister Sarah calls daily--no longer to talk to me, of course, but to get a baby update.

Well, I'm sure there are plenty more lessons to come. I have come to realize that I am living in a house full of estrogen, which should make the upcoming years--interesting? Fun-filled? Prematurely graying?

And yet, I am more happier and relaxed than I have been in years. Thank you, to ALL of my wonderful family!