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It’s pretty pathetic when a tin-pot lapsed Commie KBG thug like Vladimir Putin is smarter about the Middle East than America’s foreign policy “experts.”

But he was — and probably still is.us-journalist-critical-of-putin-kicked-out-of-russia

A year ago Putin warned the Obama administration about the folly of intervening in Syria on the side of the rebels.

We (i.e., Obama) chickened out/smartened up and did not  send troops to Syria to dethrone the tin-pot thug Assad. We had already turned the Middle East into a bigger political hellhole than it already was by going into Iraq in 2003.

The Washington Post has a piece out now  entitled “Was Putin right about Syria?” Based on these quotes from a Putin op-ed in the  New York Times op-ed last September, he was:

A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Obviously, real bad shit was happening in Syria and it would have kept happening with or without inserting U.S. men and planes.

But as Putin’s ghostwriter  said, “Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multi-religious country.”

Putin correctly/sensibly/realistically said that Assad, though a major league monster, was a stabilizing force who was preferable to the religious fanatics who’d replace him. He also pointed out that the rebel cause in Syria was attracting Islamist zealots/morons from the West.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria?

It really is depressing how stupid American foreign policy-makers have been since President Woody Wilson came up with the idea that America should use its guns, money and soldiers to force Western-style democracy on all nations.

Our great leaders never learn about the folly and inevitable failures and (always predictable) unintended consequences of sending armed missionaries to take over bad countries and make them good.

Guess who was right all along about the folly of going to war in Iraq?

That is, not counting Pat Buchanan, 156 members of Congress (seven brave Republicans) and thousands of others who opposed or voted against the Bush administration’s war plans for a multitude of good moral, principled, pragmatic, partisan or personal reasons.

The damn French were right. So was a nobody from the American Heartland.

On Feb. 14, 2003, as President Bush and his neocon dream team geared up to take down Saddam, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin  made a vain attempt to cool Bush’s pre-emptive jets.

De Villepin sounded pretty sensible about Iraq, not to mention prescient.

The “premature recourse to the military option,” he began, might appear to be the “swiftest” way to strip evil Saddam of the weapons of mass destruction.

But “let us not forget that having won the war, one has to build peace. Let us not delude ourselves; this will be long and difficult because it will be necessary to preserve Iraq’s unity and restore stability in a lasting way in a country and region harshly affected by the intrusion of force.”

Nine months later, as Iraq began its spiral into bloody chaos, De Villepin offered this unheard advice to America on CNN: “Don’t believe that you are going to solve Iraq because you are going to send more troops or more money.”

America had plenty of its own anti-war Cassandras who predicted the many bad things that invariably go wrong when you send armies to occupy, democratize and police a foreign land. They were all ignored, ridiculed or slurred for being cowards, just like the surrendering French.

One of the sharpest-eyed predictors who warned America’s Interventionist Industrial Complex to stay out of the Middle East came in 2002 from some unknown state senator from Middle America, where American non-interventionism used to be a religious tenet.

“I don’t oppose all wars,” the nobody said in a speech no one heard as the Bushies rattled their sabers and eyed Iraq.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

The nobody droned on.

Even a successful war against Iraq, “will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” Among other accurate things, the nobody added it also would “strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida.”

That wise counsel, of course, came in English from Illinois state senator Barack Obama. But even he didn’t listen to himself.

 

 

In 2003 I visited recently departed ex-Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff at her apartment in Squirrel Hill and wrote this column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Sophie is still something special

Aug. 3, 2003

She’s 85 now, so she’s lost a step or two.

She no longer drives at night. And it’s been a while since she’s been invited to the White House, a place she first visited during FDR’s final term and last saw during Bill Clinton’s time.

But as I found out Wednesday when I visited her at her Squirrel Hill apartment, Sophie Masloff is still up to speed on city politics and still a very recognizable institution about town.

In case you’ve forgotten, Sophie Masloff — the funny old lady in those TV spots for Gateway Clipper Fleet and Appliance Warehouse — was once mayor of Pittsburgh.

She ruled during what now seems like Pittsburgh’s good-old days, 1988 to 1994, when the city wasn’t openly bankrupt and begging for state funding.

“Mayor Sophie,” as everyone naturally called her, was a major civic hoot, an editorial cartoonist’s dream, a TV sitcom mayor come to life. But today, with her native city $60 million in the red, her relatively responsible, competent and uneventful reign looks better every day.

It’s been eight grim years since Sophie the Accidental Mayor turned the keys of City Hall over to Mayor Murphy and his wrecking crew of amateur economic developers.

The former county courts clerk and stalwart party worker bee would be the last to toot her own horn or criticize the Democrats now in charge of her sickly city — for the record, anyway. And she reminds that as mayor she had plenty of help from administrative sharpies like Joe Mistick (now a regular Sunday Trib columnist) and Jim Turner.

But Sophie is not shy about praising what her administration did and didn’t do well. In her first week in office, she said, she had street signs put up throughout the city. She ordered four new street sweepers and put them on a regular cleaning schedule. She cut the city wage tax by half a percentage point.

Asked what her major accomplishments were, she listed the Crawford-Roberts housing plan on the Lower Hill. Also, she said, her administration privatized four city-owned assets that were costing the city money — the zoo, the aviary, Phipps Conservatory and the Schenley Park golf course.

It’s easy to criticize what’s going on now, Sophie said, declining to do so. But, she noted, “I left office with a balanced budget and a triple-A bond rating. I don’t know what happened. It all fell apart.”

Sophie is worried about Pittsburgh’s chronic ailments — its continuing population decline, shriveling tax base and need for more new jobs. She knows the city has too many fire houses and is being robbed by the firefighters’ union, whose greed and political power she admits she could not tame.

Still, she’s optimistic about the city’s future. She’s not against using gambling proceeds to bail it out. And, ever the good big-city Democrat, she thinks higher taxes could save the day. If the state lets the city raise its $10 occupational tax to $52, she said, “We’ll be able to pull it off.”

Several times on Wednesday, as she showed me photos of herself with everyone from the Pope and Pavarotti to Bill Clinton, a man she “loved dearly,” Sophie fretted that it seemed egotistical to be talking about her life, which she insists is nothing special.

She’s wrong, of course. She’s had a truly amazing career in Democrat politics. It was launched at 17 when she saw Eleanor Roosevelt dedicate the Bedford Dwellings housing project and ended with her becoming mayor at age 70.

The scariest thing is, if Sophie Friedman Masloff ran again, she’d probably get elected. Half the people she meets on the street still think she’s their mayor. In some ways, she will always be.

####

Sophie sent me this nice note — the nicest one I ever received from a Democrat mayor.

 

In 2003 I visited ex-Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff at her apartment in Squirrel Hill and wrote this column for the Trib.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Sophie is still something special<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Aug. 3, 2003</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>She's 85 now, so she's lost a step or two.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>She no longer drives at night. And it's been a while since she's been invited to the White House, a place she first visited during FDR's final term and last saw during Bill Clinton's time.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>But as I found out Wednesday when I visited her at her Squirrel Hill apartment, Sophie Masloff is still up to speed on city politics and still a very recognizable institution about town.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>In case you've forgotten, Sophie Masloff -- the funny old lady in those TV spots for Gateway Clipper Fleet and Appliance Warehouse -- was once mayor of Pittsburgh.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>She ruled during what now seems like Pittsburgh's good-old days, 1988 to 1994, when the city wasn't openly bankrupt and begging for state funding.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"Mayor Sophie," as everyone naturally called her, was a major civic hoot, an editorial cartoonist's dream, a TV sitcom mayor come to life. But today, with her native city $60 million in the red, her relatively responsible, competent and uneventful reign looks better every day.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>It's been eight grim years since Sophie the Accidental Mayor turned the keys of City Hall over to Mayor Murphy and his wrecking crew of amateur economic developers.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The former county courts clerk and stalwart party worker bee would be the last to toot her own horn or criticize the Democrats now in charge of her sickly city -- for the record, anyway. And she reminds that as mayor she had plenty of help from administrative sharpies like Joe Mistick (now a regular Sunday Trib columnist) and Jim Turner.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>But Sophie is not shy about praising what her administration did and didn't do well. In her first week in office, she said, she had street signs put up throughout the city. She ordered four new street sweepers and put them on a regular cleaning schedule. She cut the city wage tax by half a percentage point.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Asked what her major accomplishments were, she listed the Crawford-Roberts housing plan on the Lower Hill. Also, she said, her administration privatized four city-owned assets that were costing the city money -- the zoo, the aviary, Phipps Conservatory and the Schenley Park golf course.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>It's easy to criticize what's going on now, Sophie said, declining to do so. But, she noted, "I left office with a balanced budget and a triple-A bond rating. I don't know what happened. It all fell apart."</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Sophie is worried about Pittsburgh's chronic ailments -- its continuing population decline, shriveling tax base and need for more new jobs. She knows the city has too many fire houses and is being robbed by the firefighters' union, whose greed and political power she admits she could not tame.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Still, she's optimistic about the city's future. She's not against using gambling proceeds to bail it out. And, ever the good big-city Democrat, she thinks higher taxes could save the day. If the state lets the city raise its $10 occupational tax to $52, she said, "We'll be able to pull it off."</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Several times on Wednesday, as she showed me photos of herself with everyone from the Pope and Pavarotti to Bill Clinton, a man she "loved dearly," Sophie fretted that it seemed egotistical to be talking about her life, which she insists is nothing special.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>She's wrong, of course. She's had a truly amazing career in Democrat politics. It was launched at 17 when she saw Eleanor Roosevelt dedicate the Bedford Dwellings housing project and ended with her becoming mayor at age 70.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The scariest thing is, if Sophie Friedman Masloff ran again, she'd probably get elected. Half the people she meets on the street still think she's their mayor. In some ways, she will always be.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>####</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Sophie sent me this nice note -- the nicest one I ever received from a Democrat mayor.

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Richard Scaife — the billionaire owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review who died July 4 — was a complicated and interesting man, politically, personally and philanthropically.

If he had been a Democrat and liberal-funder of nutty leftwing causes like Teresa Heinz, instead of a Republican funder of libertarian conservative think tanks, media and politicians, President Obama would have ordered America’s flags to fly at half mast.

If you want two versions of Richard Scaife’s amazing life — and a textbook lesson in the rank subjectivity of newspapers — compare and contrast the obits written by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Trib:

The PG obit:  Obituary: Richard M. Scaife / Ideologue, philanthropist, newspaper publisher

The Trib obit:  Richard Scaife, conservative champion, newsman & philanthropist, dies 

Decide for yourself who Richard Scaife really was. Good luck.

I worked at both papers — the PG in the 1990s and the Trib in the 2000s. When I decided to defect from the PG to the Trib, the first person I met for an interview was Richard Scaife. I worked my way down the chain of command and, after two years of interviews and dogged persistence on my part, I left the PG one Monday morning, crossed the Allegheny River and began work at the Trib 20 minutes later.

The Trib‘s obit is biased in Scaife’s favor, clearly. It leaves out all of the real-and-imagined dirt, nastiness and controversy, political and personal, all of which is debatable and too complicated for this blog item. It’ll be in someone else’s book someday, not mine. Or in a movie.

But the Trib‘s obit, while spun with loving positivity, gives Scaife his full due as a generous and important man. It also contains lots of mini-eulogies from political big shots like Romney and Jeb Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

For the next week Scaife will be beat up in the mainstream media for his conservative-libertarian politics.

Many creepy liberal pundits and partisans will dance on his grave because he so generously funded the post-Goldwater conservative movement and spent a couple million bucks in the 1990s attempting to bring down the Clintons, who, hilariously, became chummy with him once they were out of power.

Politics, politics, politics. The debate over whether Scaife was the Devil or an angel will, as usual, depend on what your politics are  and it will never die.

Bu what people of every partisan stripe should give Scaife great credit for was making Pittsburgh a competitive two-newspaper town.

Starting in 1993 as the Pittsburgh edition of Scaife’s Greensburg Tribune-Review, his heavily subsidized paper, the Pittsburgh Trib, improved the journalism of the area in countless ways.

Growing slowly, adding talent and steadily improving the quality of its journalism, the Trib applied a strict conservative-libertarian ideology to local, state and national news and politics.

The Trib became a valuable counterweight to the Post-Gazette, which was a union-loving, public-sector loving, liberal Democrat establishment paper that was too cozy for too long with the political and corporate power-brokers of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

The journalism of both papers — news and opinion — was biased to reflect their publishers’ views. But the Trib editorial page (very very much Scaife’s political voice and generally a source of embarrassment/shame for the liberals running the paper’s news side) was not a mindless Republican cheerleader or a right-wing echo chamber.

During the 2000s, when I worked there, The Trib‘s editorials and op-eds were highly critical of any Republican who was insufficiently conservative.

It never got the national credit it deserved, but the Trib, entirely because of Richard Scaife’s positions, editorialized against going to war in Iraq in 2003, wisely/bravely came out in favor of marijuana decriminalization five years ago, and was steadfastly pro-choice.

In 30-plus years of newspaper journalism at the L.A. Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Trib, I worked for and with a lot of good, smart people and a few miserable assholes.

Mr. Scaife, as I called him when he dropped by the office, was always as nice to me as my favorite uncle. He gave me raises, put me on the paper’s masthead as an associate editor and sent me notes of praise for my op-ed columns and feature stories.

Best of all, unlike my previous editors/publishers, he didn’t hold my radical libertarian politics against me. He appreciated them.

Over at The Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch reports that the liars & hoaxers at NOAA have been caught fudging — and then fixing — their “official”  temperature records by Anthony Watts, the super-blogging meteorologist at WattsUpWithThat.com —  NOAA Reinstates July 1936 As The Hottest Month On Record

If any weatherman deserved a Pulitzer, it’s Watts. His science-heavy site, when you can understand it, is the premier clubhouse of the anti-global warming forces.

Here’s a 2009 Q&A that I, Libertarian Elder Bill Steigerwald, did with Watts, who has done more to fact-check, challenge and debunk the myths and BS of global warming than any one carbon-spewing human could ever do.

 

Anthony Watts, man of science

Anyone who regularly tunes into WattsUpWithThat.com, the popular climate-science blog operated by Anthony Watts, will never make fun of TV weathermen again. Watts ­ who was a TV meteorologist for 25 years ­ provides a steady diet of smart, always interesting and sometimes deeply complex scientific information and opinion about global climate change. Watts is also the founder of surfacestations.org, a project that for nearly two years has been quality-checking each of the 1,200-plus weather stations of the U. S. Historical Climate Network (USHCN) to see if they are set up and maintained properly. So far, Watts and his volunteers have checked about 820 of the weather stations, which have been in place for about 100 years and are the source for the country’s official average annual temperature. Watts has found that temperature data from nearly 70 percent of the stations is of questionable accuracy because the stations do not adhere to the USHCN’s own quality-control guidelines. I talked to Watts April 16 by phone from his office in Chico, Calif.

 

Q: Why do you do your blog WattsUpWithThat?

A: Well, it’s just an extension of what my life has been up until the last few years. I was a broadcaster on television ­ a meteorologist ­ for 25 years. I look at the blog as really no different. I did a daily broadcast each day in television. A blog is really just a daily broadcast in a different form.

Q: Who is your target audience?

A: I never really thought about a target audience. I took the same philosophy from broadcasting. I made it to reach as broad an audience as possible and the demographics that I get from it tell me I am doing that job successfully. I’ve got everything from people with high school educations to people that are Ph.Ds who are reading and commentating and sometimes even submitting articles.

Q: Sometimes it gets pretty deep ­ lots of scientific charts and data.

A: It does. But that is to be expected because of the broad audience we have. My job is to try to make everything understandable, even for people who are not in tune with some of the more technical details of climate.

Q: Have you become more politicized since you began blogging? Or are you primarily still a man of science?

A: Well, my main interest always has been the science. I am still of the belief that you should let the data tell you what the real story is. As far as the blog goes, the only thing I can say that I’ve become a little more critical of in terms of politics is that we have some people now who should be sticking to science, such as Jim Hansen (head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, going out and advocating things such as civil disobedience (at coal-fired power plants). That concerns me.

Q: What is your basic position on the question of global warming? Are you a believer? A skeptic? Somewhere in between?

A: I would call myself what some people describe as a “lukewarmer” in that the CO2 effect that people have done thousands of studies on is in fact real. However, it is not a crisis. The reason it is not a crisis is because most people do not understand the logarithmic nature of the CO2 response in our atmosphere.

Q: And that means?

A: It’s like salting soup. If you have a bowl of soup in front of you and you put a little salt in it to salt it to taste, you say, “Well, maybe it needs just a tad more.” So you add some more salt and you think, “Maybe not quite enough.” Then you add some more, and all the sudden it’s too salty. Now if you were to add additional salt to the soup, you could not determine that it was any more salty than it already was. And if you continue to add salt, you can’t tell the difference.

CO2 is much like that in the way that our atmosphere responds to long-wave outgoing radiation, or trapping of heat. At some point when you get to a certain level, like a doubling of CO2, and then you add a second doubling of CO2, the response halves. It’s logarithmic. Then it halves again and then halves again after that. So much of the effect that we would expect to see from CO2 — because of this logarithmic response — has already happened. In essence, our soup is already fairly well salted and additional salting is not to make a whole lot of difference.

Q: What is the most harmful “fact” ­ quote unquote ­ about global warming that everyone believes but which is probably not true or at least uncertain?

A: There is a belief out there that we will get into a runaway condition where at some point a tipping point would occur and that at that point there is no turning back and then the world would destroy itself. That is being pushed in the media a lot and it is flat wrong.

As we go back into history, into past millennia, we can see that our atmosphere has in fact had much more CO2 ­ up to 6,000 parts per million, compared to the 380 parts per million that we have now ­ and it has responded and it has settled. Earth didn’t destroy itself. It didn’t burn up and boil off the oceans. So the comparison that we see with runaway global warming and the turning of Earth into Venus, things of that nature, are probably the most dangerous and wrong ideas that are being pushed.

Q: Are your troubled or annoyed by the way global warming is being discussed or covered by the mainstream media?

A: I am. And mainly because it’s getting a free pass for almost every problem that’s brought up. There’s a Web site in the UK called Number Watch (numberwatch.com) that maintains a list of literally thousands of things in the media that are blamed on global warming. It’s almost like “The Devil made me do it.” The idea here is that, yeah, we have an issue and the issue is that there is some warming of the atmosphere. That warming however is not catastrophic. It has occurred in the past and the Earth has survived. So the blaming of global warming as a catchall for every problem that we see in our environment is a disservice to science and to the people.

Q: My grandchildren ask me if the polar ice in the Northern Hemisphere is going to disappear?

A: I would say that the polar ice has disappeared in the past. Certainly there seems to be evidence of past climate situations where we may have had virtually no or none during the summertime. In the immediate future, however, I don’t think we are going to see that. In fact, we’re going through a rebound right now. If you look at the current Arctic ice extent from the Japanese agency which tracks the Arctic ice, you’ll find that it is very near normal at this point and it is rebounding well from the last couple years. Antarctic ice is above normal. And the global total amount of sea ice is above normal. So it’s not disappearing any time soon.

Q: What’s the story with the Sun? It’s been described as being asleep or in a state of “slumber” because it has had virtually no sun spots for a long time. What’s going on?

A: Well, the Sun is driven by dynamic magnetic cycles. There are 11-year and 22-year cycles that have been identified and there are longer cycles that have been theorized. In every kind of a cycling endeavor there are always lulls and there are giant peaks. We’ve seen both in the past. We’ve seen lulls in the Maunder Minimum (1645 to 1715) and the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830), when virtually no sun spots appeared. Coincidentally, during those periods the weather and climate on Earth got colder.

The period that we are currently in now is what appears to be the beginning of an extended solar cycle that may now be as long as 12 1/2 years, compared to the normal 11. The current state of the Sun appears to be a similar kind of situation being set up to what it was right before the Dalton Minimum. So the possibility exists that we may find ourselves in a period of cooler weather in the next 20 to 30 years.

The missing link, however, between solar activity and Earth’s climate is “What is the amplification factor?” The total solar irradiance, or TSI, has shown to be very small and when you look at the amount of watts per meter that is delivered to the Earth’s surface, the amount of change in total solar irradiance doesn’t appear to be enough to cause such differences in the climate of the Earth.

However, what people are looking for now is an amplification factor ­ sort of a climatic transistor, if you will. A transistor takes very small signals and amplifies them so they are audible ­ which is why radios work. The theory has been bandied about that the same kind of process occurs in Earth’s climate. A very small change in signal related to solar activity ­ and we don’t know which signal yet; it could be total solar irradiance, it could be ultraviolent; it could be magnetic; it could be cosmic rays; there are number of things that are being looked at — gets amplified in Earth’s natural processes and changes. That’s what needs to be identified before a complete causal relationship is established between changes on the Sun’s solar cycle and changes in Earth’s climate.

Q: When we know the immense size of the Sun and power of the Sun and relative tininess of Earth, doesn’t the Sun just scream out as being the chief culprit of climate change on Earth?

A: On the surface — on a simple analysis — one would think that. But again, the missing link is, what is the true causal relationship between changes in the Sun’s solar cycle and Earth climate. Where’s the amplification factor? Because just the change in the amount of sunlight that occurs doesn’t appear to be enough to account for the observed changes in the past. So we are looking for that link.

However, I would say that the Sun really is the Big Kahuna of all the climate on earth. We would not have any climate. We would not have any weather. We would not have any ocean currents. We would not have life. We would have nothing if it were not for the Sun. So the Sun is this central point from which everything on Earth springs. We should not ignore that fact.

Q: Is a period of global cooling coming? And if so, what would you point to as evidence of that?

A: Well, there is a post on my blog today (April 16) about the computer models (of future global average temperatures) starting to diverge from the climate reality. This is something that is really kind of unexpected. The models continue to go up in (global temperature) but the climate reality and the current (global temperature) measurement starts to go down. They are diverging and have been diverging since 2006. There are a number of things that have aligned that make me think that perhaps we are in for a cooling period. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, for example, has shifted from its warm regime to its cold regime last year. NASA JPL certified this. The last time it switched — in 1978 — it switched from a cool regime to a warm regime. We’ve been riding that warm period all the way since then.

Q: Is there a quick way to explain what the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is?

A: It has a larger influence than either La Nina or El Nino. It is a broad swath of water that extends from the Equator up into Alaska that changes the character of the surface temperatures of the Pacific over that broad swath of water. It was discovered by looking into changes in fishery stock by the University of Washington. The fishing stocks were changing and they had no explanation for it. They starting looking for it and they discovered it was linked to the food supply. And the food supply ­ krill and phytoplankton and all that sort of stuff ­ was linked to the changes in the temperature of the water. So they discovered this pattern. So it’s a broad, wholesale change in the structure of the surface temperature of the Pacific.

Q: That has obvious influences over the whole climate for years afterwards.

A: Particularly the United States, because the weather flows from west to east. And particularly California. California had a fairly cool climate prior to 1978. And during the warmer period from 1978 to last year, agriculture boomed in California. Grapes began to be grown in places they haven’t been grown before. The wine industry expanded. Agricultural expanded. And it expanded under a warmer climatic regime. Now that warmer climatic regime is in danger of shrinking again. So we may find growing seasons and growing places reduced back to areas that they were historically at in 1978.

Q: What is the most important, irrefutable truth about the climate of Earth that you wish every schoolchild and every elected official in Washington understood?

A: That the climate has always changed. It has never been static. In the past it has seen extremes hotter and colder than what we experience today. So change is normal.

Q: Since you are a meteorologist, I’ll put you on the spot. Ten years from now what will we be talking about, global warming or global cooling?

A: I believe it will be global cooling, based on the fact that there are several things aligning ­ like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the solar patterns and so forth — to make it appear that we might be in for a period of global cooling. However, I am also prepared to say that I may be completely wrong.

1024px-1537_Braunschweiger_Monogrammist_Bordellszene_anagoriaWhen I was 12 or 13 years old, my mother mentioned that maybe weed wasn’t so bad, and police weren’t so good. Being homeschooled by libertarians has that benefit — the lessons are subtle and everyday, and occasionally they are explicit and in the moment, quite shocking.

Since that day, I’ve written and thought a great deal about the insanity of the war on drugs and the dangerous state of American policing. But, I haven’t written as much as I should about another harmful prohibition on a natural human action — one that also leads to outrageous laws, immoral punishments, and Puritanical shaming  — sex work. When Maggie McNeill prodded me into writing a piece for her Friday the 13 support for sex workers tradition, I was again reminded that I have not done my job in covering the issue. So, though I have a little post here, my real message for today is, I will do better on this. Because it is the same issue that makes me rant 1000 times a day, to my parents, boyfriend, friends, and literally anyone else who will listen. And the same innocent people are being punished.

Drug use is easy (at least for libertarians) to defend. Depriving people of medical marijuana or prescription drugs or punishing people for their choice of relaxant — it’s seems so simple and wrong to me after almost 15 years of thinking about it. I’ve been around people smoking weed, and nothing dire happened. I can see the smallness behind the prohibition of this supposedly great social ill and that yeah, Reefer Madness is a campy movie, not a policy guidebook.

Drugs are more familiar to me (in a manner of speaking), and they can be enjoyed without any kind of ruin to health or morals. But so too can selling (or buying!) sex. Drug use is a failing and a crime, so says the right; and to the left it is a health outrage to be paternalistically — but still forcibly — remedied with drug courts and mandatory rehab.

Sex work is the same. A fallen woman or a dirty whore in the right’s eyes might be to the left a a trafficked victim, perhaps one suffering from false consciousness if she declares she choose this particular carer.

I don’t often feel comfortable wielding such a lefty, workers of the world, etc.! word as “solidarity”, but when I think of the people who “don’t count” by the standards of society and law, I feel an urge to help them. Not because I know the first thing about how they lives should go, but simply because I know that the laws that oppress them, the cops that harass them, and the rest of us who tolerate or excuse it are all in the wrong.

Chatting with Maggie McNeill and once visiting a strip club are about the extent of my personal knowledge of the world of sex workers. I don’t see the appeal of stripping, whoring, escorting, or any of that for myself. I don’t disapprove of any of it, to be sure, but even if I did, I could — and should — write this same post, knowing that my personal feelings about selling sex shouldn’t mean a damn thing to anyone.

They certainly shouldn’t mean anything when deciding national, state, or local policies. The bedroom is the bedroom, whether money changes hands or not. And pro-woman, pro-sexual freedom liberals and small government conservatives should put their money where their mouth is and realize that laws against prostitution violate all manner of their professed principles. But libertarians, too, must take more notice of this, regardless of personal feelings about the work itself.

That’s the thing — the war on drugs, the war on the homeless, the war on immigrants, the panic over gun owners, religious weirdos, right-wing and left wing activists, all of this has lead to an out of control police force, and prisons spilling over with 2 million people. All of this is excused with, well, it’s not me getting my door kicked in at 4 am over weed, it’s not me schizophrenic and afraid of the police, it’s not me who wants to homeschool my kids in Idaho while owning a few guns, it’s not me being sprayed at protests, it’s not me photographed and held for hours at my work for a compliance check performed by armed police officers, so what does it matter?

Sex workers are judged, screwed over, and oppressed. The state and the busy-bodies have decided they — like so many other eccentrics or “immoral” actors — don’t get the same rights and protections good, upstanding citizens do. Their choices are wrong. Not just wrong, but against the law. And the law is the law, as the meaningless, malevolent tautology goes. Once that is declared true, all else so painfully familiar — jailing, “saving,” shaming, and ignoring people when they do need help — follows.

Elizabeth-KolbertElizabeth’s Kolbert’s latest epistle in the April 14 New Yorker is a textbook example of climate change BS posing as journalism.

Her sermon won’t influence anyone, because the only people who will actually read it have already been converted to the AGW faith.

The scary thing is, the typical New Yorker reader — not to mention most journalists — won’t see a thing wrong with Kolbert’s warning that we all have to act fast because the “looming crisis that is global warming”  is no longer looming but is already here.

Kolbert, in case you haven’t heard, is the official High Priest of Climatology at The New Yorker.

Her latest “Talk of the Town”  item, “Rough Forecasts,” is essentially another of her riffs on behalf of maintaining tax subsidies for renewable energy, ending current fossil fuel subsidies, taxing carbon, toughening up building codes, praying for the recovery of coral reefs and heeding the latest divine revelations, recommendations and warnings of the IPCC.

Kolbert recites the usual silly truths about AGW  that New Yorker editors and readers swallow as a matter of faith — because of humans and their fetish for fossil fuels the reefs are dying, the Arctic ice is disappearing, famines and droughts are coming and Gaia has already gone into her death spiral.

She also points out, with displeasure, that the U.S. government underwrites the use of fossil fuels to the tune of $4 billion a year.

As a libertarian, I’m against all kinds of corporate welfare. I agree with Kolbert that the fossil fuel subsidies should be repealed — along with all those renewable energy subsidies.

But that $4 billion number is either wrong or insignificant. Kolbert’s soul mates at PriceofOil.org put the subsidy number between $14 to $52 billion per year, depending on how it’s figured.

What Ms. Kolbert is referring to, I think, are the $4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies President Obama has proposed cutting from his budget every year he’s been in office  but has never done.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. A lousy $4 billion is chump change in a trillion-dollar U.S. energy sector where hundreds of big and small public and private companies no one has ever heard of pulled in at least $271 billion in profits in 2012.

For a science wiz who yearns to be officially crowned the Rachel Carson of climate change, Kolbert has a history of trouble with hard numbers, big and small.

In 2005 I caught her and her fact-checkers telling her gullible New Yorker readers than one of Greenland’s mightiest glaciers was moving at several miles per hour, not several miles per year.

Her glacial speed trap, as I happily pointed out in a column, was off by a factor of 8,760.  The magazine was forced into running a rare correction confessing its error (arguably my greatest feat in 35 years of newspaper journalism).

Kolbert also goofed up some numbers in 2007 in her profile of Amory Lovins, the famous environmental genius and “natural capitalist” who, unlike Kolbert, prefers practical, pragmatic, market-driven solutions to energy conservation instead of government micro-fiat.

Here’s what I wrote in my Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column:

“After confusingly toting up how many hundreds of billions Americans spend on gas, oil and energy each year, she concluded that ‘In 2007, total energy expenditures in the U.S. will come to more than a quadrillion dollars, or roughly a tenth of the country’s gross domestic product.’

“Quadrillion — Kolbert actually meant ‘a trillion dollars.’ And the annual U.S. GDP is about $13 trillion, not $10 quadrillion, as she implied. This time Kolbert was wrong by only a factor of 1,000.”

Kolbert’s chronic numbers problem isn’t the point. It’s not even really her fault. Copy editors are supposed to save her by catching such embarrassments as speeding ice sheets before they appear in print.

You can’t really blame Kolbert for her apocalyptic climatology or her god-awful politics, both of which make her New Yorker-safe. She is what she is — an G-W alarmist Bible thumper on a mission to save the world.

The people who deserve the blame for Kolbert are the people who run The New Yorker. They’re the ones who feature her relentless proselytizing and moralizing and pass it off as the thoughts of a reasonable journalist.