Politics and (Junk) Science

Mention Global Warming and a rather heated debate usually erupts about whether or not humans are causing it. Of course, various studies would be cited to support or not support this opinion (and yes, I’m calling it an opinion, not a scientific fact). But before you start flaming me to a toasty golden brown, kindly consider the rest of this post.

Many of us have been raised with the notion that scientists, by & large, are benevolent people, working for the betterment of mankind. Mention the word “scientist” and what is the mental image that you get? More often than not, you will conjure up a person in a spotless white lab coat mixing chemicals in a test tube or peering through a microscope. The exception to this rule is usually the wide-eyed “mad scientist” that is portrayed in the late-night horror shows, but even then, these misguided scientists generally have a goal in mind – the betterment of mankind according to their warped vision.

More recent movies and portrayals still show scientists in this light, but with an increased sense of reality. I can recall a couple of movie scenes of where the scientists are concerned with the continuation of their work because of the lack of available funding.

We should all realize that scientific studies take money, sometimes lots of it. This funding comes from both private and public sources, the last being your tax dollars being routed through research grants. Continued funding from either source is dependant on results or the promises of the desired results. Note the last statement – “desired results.” After all, who wants to fund any research if it doesn’t produce what you want?

Here’s where the politics begins to enter into the scientific field. What researcher wants to have his pet project run out of money & get canceled? None, I would wager. And the desperation runs higher if the researcher has spent years working on the project. So the research scientist now resorts to politics to keep the funding flowing. And this will sometimes put the scientist in a rather compromised position – how to present the data to insure continued funding? There’s an old saying that states –

Figures don’t lie, but Liars figure.

And that’s exactly what happens. The data is manipulated in such a way that supports the sponsor’s opinions and views. This is when science becomes junk science, and the scientist is nothing more than a parasitic shill.

We have been conditioned that scientists and researchers are ethical people, concerned only with the Joe Friday version (just the facts, ma’am) of what the research can prove. Unfortunately, where large sums of money are concerned along with a life’s worth of work that just will not be the case. This is where I have a problem with the arguments for humans causing Global Warming.

I stated in an earlier post:

…computer models vary widely as to the cause and effect of global warming, and thus, any conclusions that can be made from such models (and scientists’ opinions) must be considered suspect. I recall that these same scientific communities raised the alarm back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that the Earth was cooling, and they were warning of a new Ice Age coming hell-bent around the corner, and they had essentially the same data (minus a couple of decades) as they do now…

If Global Warming were truly caused by human activity, then every scientific community around the world would be in total agreement with the data and raising the alarm. The fact is, they’re not, and they are having pretty ugly arguments over it too.

Global Warming is an unproven theory based on computer modeling. Computer modeling is only as good as the data used in the model and the sophistication of the program to manipulate that data in as realistic manner through algorithms (mathematical formulas). And there isn’t a person or persons alive that can write such a sophisticated program to allow for each and every variation of the Earth’s climate. If that were the case, then why can’t your weatherman tell you what the weather is going to be in exactly one month from now?

Just for grins & giggles, what variations could affect this model? Well, let’s see….

  • Solar flare activity
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Large meteor impacts with the atmosphere and/or ground (can you say “extinction”? I knew you could…)
  • Any other “acts of God” you could imagine

Now the program could take into account the above, but the varying degrees of random activity of each of the above in combinations with each other will introduce wide variations in the results. We could predict anything from no effect to the end of the world as we know it. Having programmed a fair amount in my career and performed simulations with multiple variables in specific applications, I know the above to be true.

So here’s where I have a problem with blindly accepting the results of these models that humans are the cause of or are contributing to Global Warming. On one hand, these computer models cannot possibly take into account every single variable and predict with any certainty the climate of the earth over the next couple of weeks much less in ten years time. On the other hand, we have research scientists who have made a career in predicting the climate trends and have already reversed themselves once in my lifetime. This all adds up to one big steaming pile of manure.

I’m not alone in this assessment. One of the websites that I have listed to the right is the Global Warming Hysteria Blog. Then there’s the sixth-grade class that debated this subject after performing some research and came to the same conclusion (hat tip to jimmyb). And finally, there are the numerous news reports of scientists and climatologists disputing the findings of the Global Warming researchers (and getting death threats besides). Don’t believe me? Then do your own research and educate yourself.

So why is such a fuss being raised over a theory? The short answer is politics and power. Environmentalists are a powerful lobby in Washington, and will seize upon anything possible to promote their agenda.

Don’t get me wrong – we need to be environmentally responsible. It is our planet, and we shouldn’t trash it up. But some of the agendas this group promotes would cost extreme amounts of money for very little (if any) return. Global Warming is one of those.

However, between a couple of Hollywood movies dealing with global weather catastrophes and a powerful politician supporting these views, the old adage of “saying something long enough and often enough to become fact” is becoming true. This is nothing more than propaganda at its very best. And just like all the other successful propaganda and marketing schemes used in the past, this one is sucking in people (and entire countries). After all, scare tactics work very, very well.

The upshot is that you and I will be pressured, forced, or otherwise mandated to bow to the Goracle’s version of environmentally friendly. And some of these choices are not, in the long run, environmentally friendly nor energy-efficient. But more on that in a later post…

Sorry, folks, but I think our scientists and researchers need to stay out of the politics and stay in the lab. They should also stick to reporting facts as facts, and not spin it around to suit whatever is the buzzword for the day.

Washington Politics

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the politicians in Washington are really p*****g me off. And I’m talking about both Democrats and Republicans.

With today’s House passage of the military spending bill with the caveat of removing the troops from Iraq, the Democrat’s strategy is very, very clear. Their goal is to remove any power base and/or credibility that the President has. By implementing their “slow bleed” strategy, they are undermining the President’s authority to direct military operations to get our troops out of Iraq and leave a functioning government in place. They are also attacking his Attorney General for the firings of eight US Attorneys, calling it a political move (even though President Clinton fired 93 when he took office, which was sheer politics). The Democrats are taking every opportunity, big and small, to snipe, criticize, and undermine the President and the Republican Party.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the Democrats weren’t so hypocritical. Screamer of the House Pelosi stated that under her leadership that ethical behavior will be of the highest priority. Really, Nancy? Then why do you claim to support Unions but vehemently oppose workers unionizing in your vineyards? Or how about censuring William Jefferson (D – Louisiana) for having $90,000 of FBI marked money in his freezer? Or Harry Reid’s shady land deal in Nevada? Or including 20 million dollars of non-related pork in the aforementioned bill? Come on, give me a break!!

The Republicans aren’t much better. President Bush has not responded very forcefully to accusations and attacks from the Democrats. This is perceived as weakness by the Democrats and our enemies abroad. And the Republican members of Congress have not rallied to the President’s side like the Democrats did with Clinton’s impeachment. Rather, they have been like a bunch of pathetic sheep trying to run away from the Democratic wolf. That does not speak well of their commitment to their party or to their principles.

Principles – now there’s a question! Do politicians have any? From an earlier post

In case any of you didn’t know, a typical politician’s primary job is not to serve the people who elected him. His primary job is to get himself (or herself) elected or re-elected. Second job is to reward all those contributors that gave $$ to help him get elected. Third is to get as many perks & benefits as he can while he is in office. Last on the list is the common person like you & I.

Lost in the political power plays is the security of this country. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are too busy maneuvering to effectively address the critical issues of this country – terrorism, illegal immigration, health care, & economic trade balance. They have forgotten that they serve the people of this country, and their personal welfare is supposed to take a back seat.

These power plays portray an apparent chaos within our government, and that emboldens the enemies of this country. After all, if the government can’t keep its s*** together, then they are weak and can be safely attacked without too much fear of reprisal.

Then there is the consistency factor, of which the lack of adds to the chaos. Our government does not pick an issue, comes to a consensus, and sticks with it. While this may be good in some respects to re-evaluate strategies to see if they are working, to give up at the first sign of difficulty is a recipe for disaster. Here are a couple of examples that I can think of off the top of my head:

Terrorism – After 9/11, our President, with the blessings of Congress, vowed to go after terrorists where ever they may hide. In other words, this country was declaring war on all terrorists and the countries where they were given shelter. Fast forward several years, various members of Congress are reneging on that promise, instead stating that we should negotiate with terrorists, and give these animals the same rights as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention.

Immigration – Securing our borders is paramount to retaining our sovereignty as a nation. Both parties have dragged their feet on this issue for various political reasons. Yes, there’s funding for “the wall,” but that funding could disappear as quick as a fart in the wind. However, Border Patrol authorities are still overwhelmed and under-funded, so there is little additional enforcement. Finally, instead of talking a hard line to Mexico and other Central American countries in his recent tour of Central American countries, President Bush referred to the illegal immigration problem as a “migration” problem, softening the stance and seriousness of this problem. WHAT!?! Migration is the legal immigration from one country to another, not crossing without permission.

Yes folks, I’m upset with our elected officials in Washington with the power politics and maneuvering. And you should be to.

Michigan’s Economy

Many of you are aware that Michigan’s economy is sinking and sinking fast. Just a couple of weeks ago, Comerica, a bank that was headquartered in Michigan for over 100 years announced that it was moving to Texas. Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, pulled up their Ann Arbor research facility earlier this year. Rumors around Detroit is that Chrysler is the next candidate to go up for an online bidding. All the while, the Governor seems to be oblivious to the condition of her state and is running all over the world looking for new business. What’s going on?

Jay had a pretty good take on this subject in his post Tax Hikes Are Not “Investment”. In it, he said:

I live in Michigan, a state in great economic trouble. Our state government is in a budget shortfall and instead of trimming the fat, our governor wants to raise taxes. But, she maintains, these taxes are really “investments.”

How will raising taxes help our ailing state? It won’t.

First, taxation is never investment. Period. Ever. “But aren’t taxes to build libraries and schools investments?” No. “What about roads… we need to pay to maintain our roads.” No. Taxes are taken from people by force, not consent.

Most of us pay taxes because we don’t want to face consequences of disobedience. I obey and pay rather than throw my life away.

Investments, however, are something I make voluntarily. I choose to invest. I can choose to avoid investments. I control, at least to some degree, my investments and how they work for me.

Taxes are not investments.

Michigan, economically, looks like Rocky Balboa in one of those “Rocky” fight scenes where he gets beat up savagely by Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago. It isn’t a pretty picture. Raising taxes will only make the pounding worse.

Already businesses are experiencing trouble collecting from their customers. Raising taxes, and adding new taxes to our service industries, puts many financially-struggling companies in a terrible position. Now they will owe the state while still fighting to collect from customers. This is a terrible time to exacerbate cashflow problems.

When states add taxes, they must build their infrastructure to oversee the collection of these taxes. Now, in addition to a government that won’t cut, we see more layers will be required to collect these taxes.

Michigan businesses will need to pass the burden on to the consumer. Consumers are already hurting with taxation.

Tax hikes are not the answer.

Why would any company want to relocate to or stay in Michigan? The main industry, automotive, isn’t healthy either – many GM & Ford workers are accepting buyouts and relocating to other states that have better economies and job opportunities.

I believe that the tax structure is out of line for both businesses and the residents of this state. The small business tax was revoked to promote small business expansion, but the Governor is proposing and pushing for a 2% tax on services, which would inhibit small businesses. Property taxes are pretty high too – there are a number of people that cannot afford the taxes, especially considering that jobs are fading into the sunset for many people.

In addition, state spending of services provided is out of line. The Governor and the legislature are at odds on which state funded services to cut or reduce. Where this is going to end up is anyone’s guess.

The magnitude of Michigan’s financial difficulties was not disclosed until after the election, then everything hit the fan. To not have this information prior to the election did not help the voters make an informed decision about tax-related issues, nor about holding various politicians accountable for their poor decisions. This is one of the reasons that I am unsympathetic to the Governor’s plan to use either raising or creating new taxes to get the State out of this financial mess (see Michigan’s 2% Service Tax). And the recent polls support this position.

The fact is that State finances are politically controlled. That does not mean that the revenues generated by taxes will be spent wisely, but will be spent on whatever high profile topic that will generate as much positive publicity that will benefit the politicians in power. The bottom line is that the politicians will generally not take the hard line and do what is necessary to cut extraneous spending and help the taxpayer (you & me along with businesses) make a good go of it.

Some of you out there know about a game called SimCity (there are several versions). This is a game that challenges the player to run a city. In it, the player assumes the role of mayor, controlling the tax rate and expenditures for services like roads, water, trash collection, police & fire protection, and so on. I guarantee you that raising taxes will cause businesses to leave right along with people and factories, no matter how big or strong the city. And, as people leave, debts rise, and the city implodes, the mayor (you) would be voted out of office

What I would like to see is that each and every politician play this game with the conditions and policies that they would like to implement. That way, maybe, just maybe, they would understand what their irresponsible fiscal policies would do to Michigan’s economy, and that the taxpayer should vote them out if they don’t do the right thing (providing the voters quit blindly voting the same people in…)

The Inconvenient Truth About Al Gore

Unless you have been living under a rock, Al Gore is now the High Grandmaster for the Prevention of Global Warming. Although his movie An Inconvenient Truth won an Academy Award for a documentary (?), I call into question his real motives for jumping on this bandwagon. But first of all, let me clarify my position on the subjects of the environment and global warming.

We all should do our part for not trashing up or poisoning our world. I make sure that the cars are in good repair so they don’t belch blue smoke all over the place & get decent mileage. I don’t pour used motor oil on the ground, but make sure that it is properly disposed of. My trash is bagged accordingly, and that all recyclables are put in the recycle bin. I use the minimum of fertilizer on my lawn, and the same could be said of pest control methods that are used around the house (two cats help here). In general, my household generates as little waste as possible, and compared to several families around me, we generate the least (we would throw away less if it wasn’t for that damn junk mail…).

I do believe that the Earth is indeed warming up, and that it is part of a natural cycle. If this were not a natural cycle, then we would still be in an Ice Age with sheets of 50’ thick ice covering where I now live. I also believe that humans, for the most part, have a minimal impact on generating the so-called greenhouse gases. For instance, volcano eruptions will spew out thousands of tons of ashes and gases into the atmosphere at a level many times that of what the human population would be able to emit in the same amount of time (links here, here, and here). If you believe that humans can control or have an effect on what Nature does do, then humans would have been able to control & predict the weather and all sorts of natural disasters such as volcano eruptions and earthquakes.

At this point in time, computer models vary widely as to the cause and effect of global warming, and thus, any conclusions that can be made from such models (and scientists’ opinions) must be considered suspect (i.e., junk science). I recall that these same scientific communities raised the alarm back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that the Earth was cooling, and they were warning of a new Ice Age that was coming hell-bent around the corner, and they had essentially the same data (minus a couple of decades) as they do now. This reversal calls into doubt the motives of these scientists as well, but that’s not the point of this post.

The real subject of this post is Al Gore. Can he be trusted? What are his motives? What is he really doing in the name of Global Warming? I think I may have him figured out, and of course, I have a little bit of help from my friends and the Internet. So let’s dig into this self-proclaimed savior of the Earth.

The first time I became aware of Al Gore was when he was selected and later elected to be the Vice-President opposite of Bill Clinton (just like the majority of you). With Hillary running most of the show with her health care and other initiatives, Al’s role in the Clinton Administration was minimal to say the least. But later actions and words, especially during his run for the Presidency and now during his campaign against Global Warming, showed the character of the man. Some prime examples that come to mind are:

During a photo shoot to promote environmental responsibility for water conservation, Al was photographed paddling around in a canoe, presumably to show that if everyone conserved water, everyone could enjoy the benefits of conservation. What was not widely reported was that there was a drought in the area, and that over 30,000 gallons of water was released into the stream to raise the water level 6 inches. The stream was too low, too many rocks were showing, and the canoe was bottoming out. Not very photogenic…

During his campaign for President, Al made the claim that he invented the Internet. No, not quite, Al. Al voted on funding to expand what was then a crude communications network that was used between universities, research facilities, and the military. That expansion became the Internet that we all now use without a second thought. Fund, yes, invent, no.

During the class-action suits against the tobacco companies, Al came out and stated that tobacco was an evil curse. He carried on for several weeks until it was found out that part of the Gore fortune was made from the raising and selling tobacco leaf. He quieted down after that.

Recently, Al’s involvement in buying “carbon-offset credits” to offset the pollution from his private jet from a company that he owns in total or in part (haven’t established that yet) has been reported & commented on by various news outlets. Additionally, the energy inefficiency of the various homes that he owns throughout the country was also reported. This does not look good for a person that repeatedly states that he is for the environment and not for himself.

In understanding Al Gore, you must first understand that he is a politician through and through. He will state almost anything to garner attention, support, and accolades from the public. He is a career politician, and a shameless self-promoter, ready to favorably position himself on whatever issue that is in the public eye.

Another thing that you must understand about Al is that he is a hypocrite. It is that “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality that is revealed in the examples above. It is this elitism that is most disturbing about this man.

Finally, I believe that Al is a Liberal with a Socialist agenda. Consider this from the post Globalization:

Way back when Al Gore and Ross Perot were having a discussion (debate) on NAFTA, Al was trying to make the case for NAFTA by using the example of Valmont Electric moving their operations from Danville, Illinois to Mexico. He stated that Mexico’s standard of living would eventually rise to meet that of the United States, and businesses like Valmont would stop moving to Mexico.

Only a Socialist would want everyone to be equal in wealth, even if it is across an international border and to the detriment of your own country. Equal, of course, unless you are one of the elites calling the shots…

So what is his motive for becoming the High-Priest of Global Warming? In essence – power. He is still smarting from losing the election to Bush, and wants to stay in the public spotlight. The Democratic Party hung out the “do not apply” sign to Al after he lost the election, and this is a way of trying to get the sign taken down & back in the race for the President. But if he doesn’t get another shot at the Presidency, he can certainly get richer by speeches on Global Warming and buying carbon-offset credits from himself (of which I would almost bet that he uses as a tax-write-off). If he can swat a few noses along the way and exert power over those people who didn’t support him, then so much the better.

No, Al isn’t the wild-eyed environmentalist wacko preaching from the altar of Global Warming that some people portray him as. He is a smart & conniving man that has an agenda. And that agenda, which is to gain as much power and wealth as he can, will ruin this country and countless lives unless he is exposed for what he is – a shameless, greedy political hack. Only then will his quest for power be negated.

And no, I don’t trust him. Not one teeny bit…

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

For those of you who watched Heartbreak Ridge, you would recognize the title of this post.  For those of you who don’t, this is the mantra of the Marine Corps Recon Unit as stated by the character Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway (played by Clint Eastwood).  And in some respects, it is the unofficial mantra used by all of our military forces.

If any of you remember the earlier days of the current Iraq conflict, it was reported by our media that the Marine and Army forces were welding sheet metal on the Humvees because they were unarmored and offered no protection from small arms fire and shrapnel from roadside mines.  And that’s a perfect example of our soldiers improvising with local materials to adapt to a situation, and overcome potential casualties.  Now, thank God, there is better protection for our troops as armor and vests became available.

But if Screamer of the House Pelosi and Moron Murtha have their way, those days could return.  Their “Slow-Bleed” political strategy of slowly withdrawing funding & support of our troops by limiting the President’s options in conducting the war would have just that effect.  Who would actually suffer would be our troops, who would do the bleeding, and not necessarily in a slow, controlled fashion.

Those of you that have read my various comments on other blogs as well as on this one know that I’m not particularly thrilled that our troops are in Iraq, but we are there.  Our troops need the support & backing of everyone to accomplish the mission.  But this back-stabbing method of forcing withdrawal through a cowardly political sham thinly veiled as a public service is a disgrace.

If the Democrats are really serious about forcing the President to withdraw the troops, then put a Bill forward cutting the funding for the War through the process and vote on it.  They don’t want to do this because they do not want to take responsibility of the aftermath of the withdrawal – complete civil breakdown in Iraq.  Yes, they’ll take the credit for bringing the troops home, but not the mass casualties that a civil war in Iraq would bring.  But that’s not their way to directly approach their goal.

It’s all a political game, a strategy designed to to embarrass the President, and to keep & solidify their power.  It’s not about the troops, it’s a political opportunity to advance their agenda.  But the price is going to be the blood of our troops and potentially the long-range security of our country.  After all, what enemy is going to respect a country that cannot finish what it started, and commits political & ideological suicide? 

And quite frankly, it is these political-power maneuverings that disgust me.  It is no wonder that I have low opinions of our elected politicians and concerns for the long-term well being of our country.