Posts by: "Joe Steigerwald"

Wooly MammothThis weekend I appeared on the Don’t Worry About the Government Podcast hosted by the great Chris Novembrino. We chatted about the Ukraine, why I hate polar bears, rock music with messages, and Rand Paul. Now I can’t promise that I don’t ramble on for extended periods of time, and I also can’t promise I made a lot of sense with my insights. That being said, I highly recommend checking it out. There are 226 OTHER episodes that I didn’t appear on, so there’s plenty of other podcasts to listen to if you don’t find my appearance particularly appetizing.

But seriously check it out, your ears will thank you.

snowproblemIn case you didn’t get the memo, today is International Polar Bear Day. It’s a day filled with poorly-researched articles where “science” writers bemoan how evil humans will wipe out polar bears, and cry over spilt carbon.

Yahoo is running a “5 Weird Facts About Polar Bears” on its front page. A dubious list of four “weird” facts with a fifth that trumpets “Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050.

Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, and studies predict that global warming could melt enough sea ice to lead to the disappearance of two-thirds of polar bears by 2050. The decline in sea ice has forced the bears to swim longer distances, consuming energy they cannot afford to use.

The United States listed polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008, and Canada and Russia have listed them as a species of special concern. Unless climate change slows, eventually there may not be any bears around to celebrate Polar Bear Day.

It’s an especially poor attempt by author Tanya Lewis at making a valid point about polar bears. She doesn’t even link to an article that supports her theory of polar bear disappearance other than they have to swim longer distances. The least she could do is try to make an effort — if she’s so concerned about the polar bears — to write a compelling article based on facts. The whole thing is just a way to drum up uninformed outrage.

Not that Tanya should be singled out.

Time has its own hysteria inducing “Save the Polar Bear, Especially Today.” Basically a rehashed, non-listacle version of the Yahoo article, (now with more hysteria!)

Many scientists and conservationists fear that there may be far fewer polar bears in even that single-decade time frame, thanks chiefly to the effects of climate change. Polar bears use sea ice as a platform to reach their prey, chiefly seals, and summer sea ice is melting fast. Despite a rebound from a record low in 2012, the extent of Arctic sea ice is generally trending downwards, often dramatically. As the ice vanishes, polar bears are forced to swim longer and longer distances to reach those hunting platforms, which is taking a toll on the species.

Once again, there’s no link, no data to back up his claim that swimming long distances is killing the species. It’s the standard global warming doomsdayers trope. The Time article also goes on to make various other wildly unsubstantiated claims like:

Still, most experts agree that there are about 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears alive, scattered around the Arctic—a perilously small number though some subpopulations have rebounded, in part because of restrictions on hunting.

So perilously small that some populations may have reached their carrying capacity.

In fact, research shows that polar bear populations have been increasing, to between 20,000-25,000 bears. Far more than the 12,000 estimated in the late ’60s before an international ban on hunting in the 1970s. What’s more, scientists still don’t even have sufficient data about eight of the 19 known polar bear habitats. But of course the lack of data won’t prevent a lot of people from spouting off about the imminent destruction of the polar bear.Polar Bear Map

(And don’t let the facts dissuade you from using these “sexy” beasts as the mascots for your climate change hysteria.)

Fortunately the truth is out there. Zach Unger, who originally set off to write “an elegy” for the certain destruction of the species, ended up writing “Never Look A Polar Bear in the Eye,” a chronicle of the massive success and rebirth polar bears have enjoyed in the past decades.

And then there’s this article about polar bears from Canadian Geographic that highlights two experts who view predictions of extinction as “joke”:

Consider Mitch Taylor’s story. He spent more than two decades as a polar bear researcher and manager for the Nunavut government and has published around 50 peer-reviewed papers. That should garner widespread respect. But Taylor has been highly vocal about his belief that polar bears are mostly doing fine, that cub mortality varies from year to year and that the much ballyhooed predictions of extinction by 2050 are “a joke.” He also alleges that a lot of the “exaggerated decline” is just a way to keep certain scientists well funded and to transfer control of the polar bear issue from territorial to federal hands.

[…]

Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.”

So next time you see a picture of some poor polar bear “trapped on an ice floe” or Leonardo DiCaprio Photoshopped into the arctic, ask yourself this: “Who benefits from all the polar bear hysteria?”

(It’s not the polar bears.)Vanity Fair and Knut

This chart represents bad news for American’s who are worried about global warming:

That blue line with its scary upward rise represents China, the earth’s leading producer of CO2 emissions, and it’s projected to keep on growing. The bad news is if carbon emissions  are solely responsible for anthropogenic global warming, then there’s nothing you the American consumer can do about it. The good news is you can buy that super low gas mileage muscle car you’ve always wanted, because guess what — your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint are wholly and completely irrelevant. Now just because China and India will continue to make all of America and the EU’s carbon reduction irrelevant doesn’t mean you should stop recycling, or not cranking up the AC in the summer, or riding your bike to work. Pollution is still a real problem in some parts of the United States. Just remember, when you’re out there biking in 3 degree weather to save a few emissions, feeling good about yourself and your carbon reducing ways, you’re literally doing nothing to reduce global warming. As John Stossel so succinctly puts it:

What we do now is pointless. I feel righteous riding my bike to work. That’s just shallow. Even if all Americans replaced cars with bicycles, switched to fluorescent light bulbs, got solar water heaters, etc., it would have no discernible effect on the climate. China builds a new coal-fueled power plant almost every week; each one obliterates any carbon reduction from all our windmills and solar panels.

I know what you’re thinking, “a full blown invasion of China is the only way to stop catastrophic global warming.” But I’m going to have to stop you right there. That strain of thinking can only lead to the most famous of all classic blunders: Never get involved in a land war in Asia. To say nothing of the horrific death toll and the moral and philosophical problems. The developing world, especially China and India, is going to produce a lot of emissions as they grow into a fully developed and modern economic country. The good news is that once they reach that point, carbon emissions will likely flatten out. Much like what has happened with OECD countries like the United States and the members of the European Union.

Contrary to the mass hysterics of the Al Gores and Barbara Boxers of the world, who can’t wait to blame every deadly storm on global warming, there’s plenty of new evidence that shows that warm temperatures result in fewer severe weather events. (Read the abstract here.) And of course there’s Al Gore’s “scientific” “predictions” in his magnum opus Inconvenient Truth, that have been spectacularly wrong so far. Let’s take a deep breath and remember that mass predictions of Armageddon don’t usually come true; human ingenuity is rarely factored into doomsday scenarios.

Even though 97 percent of climate scientists believe that global warming is anthropogenic, not all scientists subscribe to that theory. Fortunately, even if global warming is caused by humans, there are still scientists that believe that the whole thing is overblown and that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Cchange is a joke. Then there’s the 15 year pause in global warming that no one can figure out. The problem is, If global warming is as catastrophic as the doomsdayers want to believe, then we’re all screwed anyway. Worldwide emissions have already blown past the 350 parts per million threshold, IPCC head James Hansen’s so-called tipping point. The developing world isn’t going to shut down their economies just because we ask. And any self-imposed pollution limits from the US or the EU will have little to no effect on worldwide emissions.

So what do we Americans do? First off ignore people like Eugene Robinson, who right after admitting that China and India aren’t going to actively reduce their carbon emissions in a way that hurts their economies, stumps for the “United States, Europe and Japan [to] do what they can, at the margins, without surrendering the comforts that industrialization provides.” Then purge from your mind United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, who thinks that communism is our only hope (which sort of ignores the whole China is a communist country yet the largest producer of CO2). Instead, maybe take a page from John Stossel and not worry about things completely beyond our control:

Someday, we’ll probably invent technology that could reduce man’s greenhouse gas creation, but we’re nowhere close to it now. Rather than punish poor people with higher taxes on carbon and award ludicrous subsidies to Al Gore’s “green” investments, we should wait for the science to advance. If serious warming happens, we can adjust, as we’ve adjusted to big changes throughout history. It will be easier to adjust if America is not broke after wasting our resources on trendy gimmicks like windmills. […] So let’s chill out about global warming. We don’t need more micromanagement from government. We need less. Then free people — and rapidly increasing prosperity — will create a better world.

In other words, You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N. If this message of doom upsets you, please share it and instruct your friends to direct all angry comments to Joe Steigerwald. You can find him on Twitter @steigerwaldino or on Facebook at the Stag Blog. However, if you’re one of those “global warming deniers,” please use it to troll your friends and relatives by posting it on their Facebook walls.

Vizzini Says: Don't Commit the Classic Blunder: No Land Wars in Asia

Rolling Stone Loves Obama!It’s a new year, but one thing hasn’t changed: Rolling Stone still blows. In fact, they’ve always blown. From the day those commie bastards trashed Zeppelin’s first album in a spectacularly ill-conceived and shortsighted take down of a band that was so far beyond Rolling Stone‘s hippie-“man” scope of musical comprehension that only their trying-to-hard, hipper-than-thou-basis-of-all-Pitchfork-reviews-ever-written, review of Led Zeppelin II could make it seem reasonable.

Forty-five years later and little has changed. Their head political writer, Matt Taibbi is an asshole and former comrade of two of the worst “journalists” (if not people) on earth, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine. These three delightful human beings were part of the Russia’s number one expat newsletter, Exiled. Yet even while living in the shadow of a psycho like Putin, minutes from the gloried relics of the worst authoritarian regime in human history, somehow they came back even more convinced of the glories of big governments.

Taibbi has the annoying tendency of correctly identifying the problems plaguing America — corruption, corporate cronyism, the drug war — then blaming it all on lack of government oversight, instead of too much government power.

But at least Taibbi is a well-known author with years of journalistic grunt-work under his belt. He’s written for well-known publications like Men’s Journal, The Nation, New York Press and Playboy. He has enough journalistic bona fides that he has his own link on the Rolling Stone.com banner. His ideas may be rooted in far left territory, he’s done some pavement pounding at least.

Then there’s Jesse A. Myerson, a 2008 graduate of Bard College, (same as Taibbi) where he majored in Theatre and Human Rights. He’s a self described #fullcommunist and the author of “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For”.

(And according to his LinkedIn page has quite the talent for theater, community outreach, performing arts, improvisation and stage.)

Jesse-Myerson-Linkedin

The article is the usual lefty garbage, written in the trying-desperately-to-be-hip, dumbed down, “hey buddy, doesn’t BLANK suck, you know what doesn’t suck? #fullcommunism” popularized by millenials trying to appeal to other millenials.

It’s a new year, but one thing hasn’t changed: The economy still blows. Five years after Wall Street crashed, America’s banker-gamblers have only gotten richer, while huge swaths of the country are still drowning in personal debt, tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed – and the new jobs being created are largely low-wage, sub-contracted, part-time grunt work.

Millennials have been especially hard-hit by the downturn, which is probably why so many people in this generation (like myself) regard capitalism with a level of suspicion that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. But that egalitarian impulse isn’t often accompanied by concrete proposals about how to get out of this catastrophe. Here are a few things we might want to start fighting for, pronto, if we want to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.

It’s the usual. Blame Wall Street, ask for more government, and more free money. It’s a terribly written article, written by an idiot (and theater major). So why are we so worked up about it? Currently sitting at 39 thousand Facebook likes, 2,567 tweets, 287 Google+’s and 7354 comments, this story has consumed the internet so far as to have write-ups and put-downs in prestigious media havens like CNBC,The LA Times, Slate, Washington Post, Business Insider, and Forbes to name a few.

Unfortunately every time the story is mentioned, it only further inflates the numbers and prestige of an article more suited to a .blogspot than a website that gets 60,000,000 monthly page views.

Like Salon and Slate before them, Rolling Stone trots out some nobody with the sole intention of stirring up a bee’s nest of conservative and libertarian mockery, and it works like a charm.

Tremble in fear capitalist dogs! Jesse A. Myerson’s is going to blow you away with his observational communism. Behold his takes on:

  • Unemployment! – “Unemployment blows.”…
  • Jobs! – “Because as much as unemployment blows, so do jobs.” …
  • Landlords! – “Ever noticed how much landlords blow?” …
  • Hoarders! – “Hoarders blow.” …
  • Wall Street! – “You know what else really blows? Wall Street.

And what’s the deal with Republicans? Amiright?!

Congratulations Myerson, you’re the cliched parody of Jerry Seinfeld of communist thought.

Which is why no one in America should care about this article. It’s poorly written and on a subject this man is clearly not qualified to write about, in a magazine that hasn’t produced a relevant thought since the ’60s. It’s okay to ignore these obvious troll attempts, in fact it should be encouraged. Every time the conservative/libertarian outrage machine gets fired up it’s only going to lead to more of the same, namely, lots and lots of page views which begets more advertising revenue which begets more bad writing which begets making celebrity’s out of idiots like Jesse A. Myerson.

(And before you call me out on my own inability to not write about this article, please note that I wouldn’t have written about it if people more powerful than I hadn’t first. Also, we need all the linkbait we can get. Also, I have no convictions.)

billofhannityControversy is raging in America. The First Amendment, long the bulwark of our country’s freedom, is under attack from the left and the right. Our freedom to say whatever we want, anytime we want, to whomever we want, is being threatened by the fascist forces in our government, hellbent on silencing the last true American patriots.

Wait, are you telling me this doesn’t have anything to do with the government?

You’re telling me it’s about a redneck duck?

Oh, not a redneck duck, a redneck on a show loosely based around ducks.

And who else?

From The Hunt for Red October?

That’s it?

Ah yes, the guy who wants Sarah Palin defecated on.

No America, the government isn’t trying to take away our rights to say moronic things. That freedom is very obviously still intact. In reality this matter has nothing to do with the government, and thus is completely unrelated to the First Amendment.

For  you see gentle readers, the government has absolutely no control over whether or not employees get fired by their employers. If you want to go on YouTube and make racist, sexist, or profane comments about your company, your boss, blacks, whites, Jews, Jamaicans, short people, women, men, cats, dogs, the blind, or the deaf you have every right, as granted by the First Amendment, to do so without fear of government repercussion.

But your ass is gonna get fired if you do. That’s because your First Amendment rights absolutely do not protect you from your place of work. You can rail all you like against the repressive policies arbitrarily placed on you by your employer, but guess what, if you want to go around airing your views, you better make damn sure you’re not going to offend the people in charge (and I’m not talking about Obama).

Therefore when Willie Robertson compares homosexuality to bestiality or Alec Baldwin uses offensive language or Martin Bashir hopes people shit on Sarah Palin they’re going to get fired. It may not be the “right” thing to do, but it sure as hell isn’t a First Amendment issue. So next time a mentally deficient, fake-constitutionalist like Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, or Bobby Jindal decides to bring up the First Amendment, you can politely point them to this: First Amendment to the Constitution. They obviously need a refresher.

imagine-a-world-without-DCAn ass sits where an Abe once sat.

The year is 20whatever and a nuclear sunset falls over the once glorious Capital built on the backs of the taxpayers of the land once known as North America. A young boy, sick from lack of universal health care and a withered man without unemployment compensation stumble towards the great phallic symbol of the United States. Now broken and crumbling, it signifies the end of the American empire, metaphorically. The boy and his father won’t survive the winter, even though the ice caps have all melted and global warming has increased average winter temperatures to a balmy 70 degrees.

“What is this place?” the boy inquired.

“My son, we are in what is called a ‘parable,'” the father replied solemnly. “It’s an instructive story that illustrates lessons and principles to the reader through analogies and metaphors. It’s a way for people who believe they are intelligent and witty to dumb down complex ideas to a straightforward manner so that morons can easily understand the point the writer is trying to make.”

“I don’t understand any of the things you just said, dad,” the boy said, staring down at what was at one time a road, but now was just a metaphor for a budget impasse that was never solved. “I grew up in a time without the Department of Education, remember?”

“Son, for the last time, that’s not an excuse. You can still learn things without government.”

“I’m a victim of bad character development, Dad, lay off.”

In the distance a loud kerfuffle could be heard. The dad grabbed his son and dove behind a dilapidated park bench.

“What is that?” the son whispered as a group of Mad Max-inspired bikers rode by.

“Those, my son, are dystopian cliches, and they are everywhere in poorly-written parables like this one.”

The father reached into his pocket and carefully unfolded a yellowed and torn piece of paper. At the top, the words Welcome to Ted Cruz’s Thunderdome, by Maureen Dowd, were written in faded black ink.

“This is the bullshit world in which we live.”

The father scanned the writings that he had read countless times.

An ape sits where Abe sat.

“That’s a reference to Planet of the Apes,” the father said as he counted out the number of obvious dystopian references that Dowd had packed into her parable. “It doesn’t make any sense in this context, but no piece of bad dystopian writing would be complete without at least a reference.”

Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager to chomp on humanity some more.

“Zombies, always a necessary detail in a dystopian cliche. They represent the breakdown of society and a government unable to protect its people from themselves.” [or sometimes just consumerism, OMG MALLS)

Unlike Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games,” where the capital thrived as the nation withered, here, the capital withered first, as the federal city shriveled without federal funds. But, in other ways, it mirrors the fantasy dystopias depicted by Hollywood and Cormac McCarthy in his novel “The Road,” “bloodcults” consuming one another in “an ashen scabland,” a “cold illucid world.”

“Here’s where Dowd gets lazy, she starts to just name-check popular movies that were adapted from popular books in her time.”

In 2084, there’s little sign of life in the godless and barren lost world. The insurance exchanges are open and the kinks are almost ironed out. But there is no one to sign up. Koch brother drones patrol the skies.A Mad Max motorcycle gang wielding hacksaws roars through the C.I.A., now a field of dead cornstalks, and the fetid hole that was once Michelle Obama’s organic vegetable garden. Will Smith and Brad Pitt are here, hunting aliens and monsters.

“Those are the bikers that just roared through.”

The Navy-Air Force game goes on, somehow, and there are annual CrossFit games on the Mall, led by flesh-eating Dark Seeker Paul Ryan, now 114 years old.

“Dark Seekers, now that’s a reference to the movie I Am Legend.”

“Please stop papa!” the boy cried out in pain. “The writing… it’s just too terrible. None of it makes any sense, except for the glitches in the online health insurance exchanges. Why would the Koch brothers have their own fleet of drones? How are Brad Pitt and Will Smith still alive and how are they the ones fighting aliens and monsters? She knows they’re just actors right? I can’t take any more bad movie references.”

“I’m sorry son, I know it’s hard to read. I should have just showed you this.” The father said as he pulled out his iPhone and navigated to Wikipedia. He typed list of dsytopian films in the search box.

The boy looked down at his feet, bloody for lack of shoes. (They had been worn to dust in the great CrossFit games.) “Can’t we escape?”

“No, I’m afraid we’re stuck here in this poorly written, cliche-wracked parable forever.”

“What will happen to us?”

“Well, if I know anything about bad writing…” The father trailed off and stared stoically into the distance. His gaze took in the alien ships blasting lasers at destroyed buildings, Godzilla fighting Mothra, the vampires, the sentient machines hunting human prey, the zombies, The Tea Partiers, the giant two-headed 0ctopus with the word “Kochtapus” on its brow that towered above the DC skyline.

“What?” The son asked.

“I’m afraid we have to die to satisfy the liberal orthodoxy that has permeated this shoddily-constructed, nonsensical world.”

“Well,” the son said sighing, “It’s probably better than living in a badly-written world filled with contradictions and over-the-top conservative boogeymen.”

“That’s a good boy,” the father said proudly. “You’re already smarter than 87 percent of The New York Times op-ed columnists, and you have a brighter future!”

The boy began to smile. “Papa stop, you’re making me happy. Are all the bad liberal dinosaur newspapers gone?”

Looking through the burning sky toward the (INSERT POST-APOCALYPTIC ADJECTIVE HERE) Lincoln Memorial where Maureen Dowd sits in Abe’s chair, the man replies happily, “Yes son. They’re all gone now.”