Short takes on science, business, health, agriculture and possibly the kitchen sinkRobert Wise email
Poisoning the Well
The Global Temperature Hiatus Scandal
Sadly, the dissension between scientists about a NOAA study of sea surface temperature trends will go down in many citizen's minds as another data point showing that NOAA, NASA and climate science in general is "politicized." The study was part of an effort to re-evaluate the finding of a "hiatus" - a pause - in the trend of global temperature, noted in the 2013 report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The charge of politically motivated science comes up regularly, and was heard frequently during the Trump campaign. It's a pervasive "poisoning of the well"* for anyone trying to discuss global warming. Some of my friends distrust the data, the theory and the scientists themselves on the basis of this alleged politicization.
All the professional organizations of meteorologists and other climate scientists agree that human activity is the main cause of global warming. By NOAA's count, this amounts to 97% of all such scientists. But apparently they're all deluded or else in on the scam.
One vocal critic of the IPCC writes that "The politicians wanted scientific support for their agendas and the scientists were more than willing to oblige because the politicians held the purse strings for climate research." What these politicians' "agendas" were, and who would benefit by them, he doesn't mention.
Another critic, in his self published book on the subject, promises to expose "the malicious misuse of climate science as it was distorted by dishonest brokers to advance the political aspirations of the progressive left."
The "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change" (NIPCC) states that "The United Nations [is] a famously corrupt body in which most votes are controlled by kleptocracies and outright dictatorships..any settlement of the Global Warming issue by the UN would entail massive transfers of wealth from the citizens of wealthy countries to the politicians and bureaucrats of the poorer countries."
NIPCC works closely with the Heartland Institute, a "think tank" which cut its teeth trying to discredit the link between smoking and cancer, and now has turned it attention to climate science.
So all the research and reporting on global warming is a huge boondoggle to keep politicians and scientists employed - as if they could find no other work - or else to funnel cash to politicians and bureaucrats in poor countries. I don't think anyone could disprove these charges, but they seem highly unlikely.
I was in graduate school, studying climatology, at the same time as many of the scientists now investigating global warming. I remember the studies of paleoclimate that were starting to show us the baseline against which the recent warming trend is measured, and the new mathematical techniques being developed to study time series of measurements. The grad students and professors I studied with were honest scientists, working hard to discover what actually happened in climate history and what was currently going on in the atmosphere.
Back then, meteorologists were just beginning to understand the El Nino effect, and there was some interest in "atmospheric teleconnections in the equatorial Pacific." Now we have a grab-bag of oscillations and cycles known to affect temperature and rainfall in particular regions. And not just known but measured and somewhat predictable.
I admire the work of all these people, and when 97% of them support a given conclusion, it seems highly likely to me.
*Poisoning the well: "..a fallacy where irrelevant adverse information about a target is preemptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say." - Wikipedia
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Pam Wright, Weather Underground Wunderblog, February 9, 2017, "The Data Is Right: Climate Change Is Still Real"
Daily Mail, February 4, 2017, "Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data"
Bob Tisdale, "The Politicization of Climate Science Is NOT a Recent Phenomenon",
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The First 100 Tweets
Relief, disappointment and a slim hope
Ah, the sweet normality of gridlock! Immigration, Customs and Homeland Security resume normal operations, sixty thousand visa holders get their visas back, and President Trump's immigration initiative starts to grind its way through the Federal courts.
Trump apparently means to walk his campaign talk, and walk it within the bounds of the Constitution. Fears and rumors about Homeland Security defying court orders were unfounded. Anyone who doubts the administration's intent to work within the law should read its memo to the Labor Department about the Fiduciary Duty Rule: more clauses and qualifiers than a bungee jumping waiver.
I had hoped for a few good outcomes from the new crew, along with the other stuff, but I've had one big disappointment. I hoped Trump would go along with the Republican Party platform and reinstate the Glass Steagall act in place of the present Dodd Frank law. The repeal of Glass Steagall during the Clinton administration paved the way for the many of the financial excesses that led to the banking crisis of 2008.
Instead, Trump is moving to weaken Dodd Frank - consistent with his statements during the campaign. He ordered a review of the law, which he says discourages banks from lending for new business ventures. His NEC Director Gary Cohn says it forces banks to build capital "to meet regulatory requirements and pay for additional regulations," reducing the funds available to loan out.
Reserve requirements could be lowered without taking away other protections, such as the Consumer Protection Act. But- "pay for additional regulations"? If you're draining capital to meet day-to-day expenses, you need to raise your fees, right? I don't know much about banks, though; I keep my money in a credit union.
I'm also disappointed in my own party, who seem determined to become the Party of Nooo. If they put all their energy into delay, "resistance" and protest, they'll have a hard time joining in discussions and negotiations as environmental laws are brought up for repeal and new legislation is put through tough Congressional reviews.
It won't help at all with the We the People Amendment, HJR 48, introduced in Congress last week by Rep. Rick Nolan (Dem, MN). We the People addresses the granddaddy of all political issues: campaign finance.
It establishes that corporations are not people, and mandates a redefinition of corporate personhood in more realistic terms. It establishes that money is not speech, contradicting a key point in the 2010 Citizens United court decision.
Citizens United was the ultimate absurdity in a long series of court decisions defending the "civil rights" of corporate persons. It essentially legalized bribery. Justice Stevens wrote in a dissenting opinion,
"...corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."
Corporate personhood is a bipartisan issue if there ever was one. Passing the amendment will take a 2/3 majority in both houses - or a constitutional convention. But so far, only one of Nolan's twenty cosponsors is a Republican. There's bound to be more support out there, in the electorate and in Congress, but it will be hard for Democrats to rally it with their heels dug in the "resistance forever" posture.
We the People isn't new; it's been introduced every year, in concert with a growing movement led by the Move to Amend organization. The legal language of HJR 48 addresses all the points of Move to Amend's petition, which has been endorsed in resolutions by hundreds of communities and five U.S. states. Its text is even shorter than Trump's inauguration speech:
"We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights."
It is possible that Trump himself might endorse the We the People Amendment. He spoke honestly about campaign finance during the debates:
"When you give," he said, "they [politicians] do whatever the hell you want them to do."
“I was a businessman, I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.” He added, “And that’s a broken system.”
Trump's inauguration speech was about handing power back to the people. Literally "about" - that was its only topic. And it seems that, for a time, the people have won out against the establishment and its multimillion dollar lobbying arm.
"What truly matters," he said, "is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people."
HJR 48 is our best chance of keeping the people in power. It's a slim chance, because every successful politician depends on campaign donations. The more successful, the more dependent, and the less likely to give up the big donations. But Trump is not in any donor's pocket, He's led his party to an overwhelming victory, and he could bring many legislators and citizens along on this issue.
Back this one, Mr. President, and you solve a host of serious problems in one move. And you'll keep the people in power.
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Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2. Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of that person’s money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure. Federal, State, and local governments shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Presidential Memorandum on Fiduciary Duty Rule
Trump's Corporate donations, September 2016,
Contact your representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Contact your Senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Contact the White House: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact#page
Sign the Move to Amend Petition: https://movetoamend.org/motion
Image: Adapted from image of page 1 of the U.S. Constitution, from National Archives, at
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