Friday, December 14, 2007

An Alliance of Loons

Just when one thinks that news of the world could not become more surreal, inane, and scary, the world ups the ante.

On December 3, the National Intelligence Council, in a transparent political bid to discredit President Bush’s Iran policy (not that he would need any help in discrediting it, since to him Iran is no longer a part of the “Axis of Evil,” but a potential “partner in peace” that just needs a good tongue-lashing and a spell of standing in the corner until it mends its ways), released its National Intelligence Estimate: Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. Briefly, it alleged that Iran stopped pursuing the development of nuclear bomb material in 2003. It makes the allegation with a mixture of low, moderate, and high confidences.

Confidence is a one-hundred percent state of mind based on rock-solid evidence. Anything less than that is uncertainty. Which means that all sixteen of these billion-dollar funded intelligence agencies either do not know what Iran is really doing in the way of developing a nuclear weapon, or prefer to “defuse” concern about Iran and treat the whole issue as though Peru was about to out-produce the U.S in the production of Saturn cars and perhaps upset the trade balance between the two nations. Thus the laughable measures of low, moderate and high confidences, clothed in the gibberish of bureaucratese.

Under “Key Judgments” in the document is this knee-slapper: “We assess with moderate confidence that Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.” That kind of language dominates the entire document.

Imagine a cop spotting a human figure “doing something” over the skylight of a 7-11 store at 3:00 a.m. but having only “moderate confidence” that the figure intends to break into the store. The NIC apparently places little or no confidence in all the satellite photos of constant activity around Iran’s underground nuclear labs, Israeli and European intelligence, confirmed knowledge of Russia’s and North Korea’s complicity in building nuclear facilities in Iran, and so on.

The report could have been vetted and signed off by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself, and was actually and principally written by three State Department bureaucrats who, according to an article in American Thinker by Ed Lasky (“The suspect provenance of the NIE report,” December 5), and quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial of the same date, wrote that they “favor endless rounds of negotiations and ‘diplomacy’ and oppose confrontation.” These three officials, Lasky said, according to the WSJ, “have ‘reputations as hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials.’” And none of these bureaucrats has any expertise on Iran.

Well, they are State Department functionaries who traditionally believe that reality is malleable and so feel justified in putting their venomous hatred of Bush ahead of national security. They are loons. Or, as Daniel Pipes, who called the NIE a “shoddy, politicized, outrageous parody of a piece of propaganda,” concluded on his site on December 13:

“Thus have short-sighted, small-minded, blatantly partisan intelligence bureaucrats, trying to hide unpleasant realities, helped engineer their own nightmare.”

The Daily Mail (London) on December 12, carried this tidbit of lunacy. Pope Benedict XVI, head of a religion that propagates belief, without evidence, in the existence of a Supreme Ghost, recently chastised environmentalists on the occasion of “World Peace Day” for valuing plants and animals and Mother Earth higher than human lives and for accusing man of ruining the Earth by playing footloose with the evidence of the “crime.” His statement may be evidence of a clinging vestige of respect in the Vatican for reason and reality; or, it may be the complaint of a man who sees a new religion springing up that would compete with his own. Go figure.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wishes to add salt to the things it wants to police consumption of by Americans. “FDA officials say they view excess salt in the diet as a serious public health issue, but the agency is keeping its options open,” reports a November 29 Los Angeles Times article, “FDA contemplating crackdown on salt.” Its “options” are just various modes of force against the food industry.

As usual, the bureaucrats look to Europe for precedents. “Regulators in other industrialized countries already have begun grappling with the problem,” says the Times article. “In Finland, government and industry have collaborated to bring about a 40% decrease in sodium consumption since the late 1970’s, according to the AMA. In the United Kingdom, government regulators set voluntary sodium reduction targets for about 70 kinds of processed foods.” “Voluntary collaboration”? Or else?

Underneath all the FDA press release chatter about “public health” is the whispered message to Americans: “We own you. Collaborate, or else. You can make this easy on yourself, or hard….”

Speaking of Europe, The Scotsman on December 12 ran this startling story about the resurgence of Nazism in Germany, “Children caught kissing face jail.”

“Germany is poised to bring in a draconian law tomorrow that will effectively outlaw kissing and cuddling between children under 17 in public places….Broadly speaking, the law is aimed at the 14-17 age group, but some subclauses have far-reaching consequences. Parents who put a picture of their naked youngster in a bath or a paddling pool on the internet, for example, will leave themselves open to charges of disseminating child pornography.

“But it is the attempt to regulate – in essence – the raging hormones of teenagers that strike many as bizarre and unworkable. Under the law, to go before the Bundestag tomorrow, a teenage boy up to the age of 17 who is caught ‘fondling or stroking the chest’ of someone younger will be liable to prosecution – regardless of consent.”

Since when did any legislation that was “bizarre and unworkable” ever give pause for thought in those who wish to police and regulate an individual’s thinking and actions? The only pause such statists ever have is dramatized in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, in the question asked by Wesley Mouch before he and his fellow dictators pick a date for the “Moratorium on Brains”: “But can we get away with it?”

In an infrequent and out-of-character instance, Europe for once looked to the U.S. for the precedent. “Critics say Germany has gone more than two steps beyond European Union and United Nations’ guidelines in introducing the law, claiming it is copied from the United States. A 15-year-old girl in Pittsburgh faces a long jail term on a charge of distributing child pornography after sending nude pictures of herself over the internet to a friend.”

Regardless of what one thinks of the appropriateness of the girl’s actions, one must ask: How could the authorities have known about the pictures unless the internet police were monitoring the girl’s or someone else’s computer, or unless some “moral uplift’ mentality ratted on her? Internet surveillance by the authorities has either progressed beyond what any government official will admit, or Americans are morphing into “good Germans.”

Speaking of children who commit “crimes” and of those who need to be “protected” against them, the Los Angeles Times also ran a story on December 4, “States Sue R.J. Reynolds Over Camel Ads.”

“Camel ads coupled with illustrations promoting rock music in Rolling Stone magazine violate the tobacco industry’s nine-year-old promise not to use cartoons to sell cigarettes, prosecutors in various states said Tuesday.

“Attorneys general in at least eight states planned to file lawsuits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. starting Tuesday about the advertising for Camel cigarettes in the November edition of Rolling Stone, officials said….’Their latest nine-page advertising spread in Rolling Stone, filled with cartoons, flies in the face of their pledge to halt all tobacco marketing to children,’ Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a news release….”

“’They agreed not to do these kinds of things ever since Joe Camel,’ Brown said.” [California Attorney General Jerry Brown]. “’We have to call them to task.’”

Running ads that allegedly pitch smoking to children, by the terms of those who claim to own our bodies and lives, is a “crime” that must be punished, just as pitching unregulated Sugar Pops or Captain Crunch to children is a “crime.” In this instance, the cartoons in question were not pitching cigarettes, but popular music. The cartoons were not designed or supplied by R.J. Reynolds, but by the magazine’s designers and cartoonists.

“David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds…insisted that the Camel ads contained no cartoons and that the ad campaign is aimed at adults. While the company was surprised and concerned by Rolling Stone’s illustrations, R.J. Reynolds bore no responsibility for it, he said.

“’Had we been aware of the graphics prepared by Rolling Stone, we would not have advertised adjacent to the gatefold,’ he said.”

And that is an instance of not only groveling before his looting masters, and letting the statists get away with charging the company with guilt by mere association, but of surrendering again the company’s (and the magazine’s) freedom of speech.

“Other states are reviewing the matter and could join the effort [to sue R.J. Reynolds], said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Corbett. If every state involved in the 1998 settlement [by which the tobacco industry performs a multi-billion dollar penance for existing] files suit, the fines [of $100 per magazine distributed within their borders, as well as $100 per hit on the related R.J. Reynolds Website] could exceed $100 million, he said.”

Does the government wish to regulate the internet? How could one doubt it? “The lawsuits also seek removal of the ad campaign images from all Web sites and promotions, including the packaging of a related music CD that was mailed out in some states, and money from R.J. Reynolds for anti-smoking ads.”

R.J. Reynolds subsequently proved its lack of courage by blocking access to its website.

Again, speaking of children, ABC News of Australia posted this story on its site on December 10, “Put carbon tax on babies: academic.” Read: Loon.

“While carbon trading will no doubt play a key role in curbing emissions, environmental scientists say the politically sensitive issue of population growth also needs to be given more consideration in the climate change debate.

“Now a radical proposal to reduce population growth has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia – a carbon tax on babies….Barry Walters, an associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia, is making that case.

“Dr. Walters says every family choosing to have more than a defined number [defined by whom?] of children should be charged a carbon tax. He goes on to argue that those purchasing condoms or undergoing sterilization procedures should be awarded carbon credits….The proposal is backed by Garry Egger, an adjunct professor of health sciences at Southern Cross University in New South Wales.”

No one could have predicted that the Kyoto Protocol would sire such a bastard son: state control of populations.

“…[W]e’re ignoring the fact that the downside [to having children]…is the pollution and the carbon footprint that’s created by increasing the population,” said Egger.

“Dr. Egger says two people per couple would be a reasonable ‘tax-free’ number, because it represents replacement value.’” To whom? Some future Director of the Department of Births and Deaths?

Another loon, Dr. Jack Pezzey, senior fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, also endorses the proposal.

“Dr. Pezzey says there seems to be a bit of a taboo on talking about population control. ‘If you raise issues of controlling population growth, the accusation is very rapidly made of being an eco-fascist or a racist.’”

Dr. Pezzey, of course, doesn’t want to be accused of being that. He wants to “get away with it” without being correctly identified. Nevertheless, the accusations would be justified. Scratch a wannabe regulator, and you’ll find a fascist. Or even a racist. But definitely someone who claims to own you, and advocates either your “voluntary collaboration” to achieve the statist goal of reducing CO2 emissions by not having children, or a penalty for committing a ‘crime” against the earth by having them.

Australians do not have a monopoly on Mother Earth’s religious loons, however. Americans and Brits have more than an ample share of them. In a December 10th Los Angeles Times article, “Greenness is next to godliness,” writer Gregory Rodriguez reports that,

“Climate change has even entered the realm of sexual politics. Last month, a female Swedish scientist found that ‘women cause considerably fewer carbon dioxide emissions than men, and thus considerably less climate change.’ A green think tank in London has urged British couples to think of the environmental consequences of having more than two children. It released a paper showing that if couples had two children instead of three, ‘they could cut their family’s carbon dioxide output the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.’

“Similarly, last month a London tabloid featured a 35-year-old environmentalist who asked to be sterilized so she could contribute to the effort ‘to protect the planet. Having children is selfish,’ she insisted. ‘It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet.’”

Rodriguez made this interesting observation:

“Environmentalist rhetoric…constantly reminds us of our own culpability. For that reason, environmentalism is more akin to a religious awakening than to a political ideology. Like evangelicals, environmentalists speak, in their way, of fire and brimstone. Like the preacher, the environmentalist activist demands that we give ourselves to something beyond ourselves and that we do penance for our wasteful, carbon-profligate ways. Like the Catholic Church of old, they even sell indulgences – carbon offsets.” Or what the Kyoto Protocol calls “emission credits.”

Is there any doubt that the environmentalists wish to inculcate guilt in everyone for the “sin” of existing, that they hope that individuals will have themselves sterilized, or will commit suicide, and that the rest of the human race will follow suit in the name of “protecting the planet”? And that if someone doesn’t feel guilty for existing and “do the right thing,” the protectors of Mother Earth will come after him with the same fervent, murderous lunacy as was seen in the mobs in Sudan brandishing swords and calling for the death of Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher arrested for allowing her students to name a stuffed animal “Mohammed”?

Speaking of anthropogenic global-warming, CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases, and what to do about them, CBS’s Katie Couric on December 11 posed this brain-taxer to ten Republican and Democratic presidential candidates: “Do you think the risks of climate change are at all overblown?”

I would have answered, “Yes, it is not only overblown, but if you’re speaking of man-caused global warming, then it is more than overblown: It is lying propaganda which you, Matt Lauer, Charles Gibson and other so-called journalists haven’t bothered to investigate or examine any further than your teleprompters. It’s a literal article of faith to you, and allows you to be sanctimonious and pose as oracles of wisdom without the risk of rebuttal.”

Every one of the candidates answered in a manner that too scarily recalled the anti-intellectual banality and ignorance of Berzelius Windrip, the 1938 presidential candidate in Sinclair Lewis’s novel, It Can’t Happen Here, who became a dictator. (Possibly Lewis meant the name to be a semi-alliteration for “berserk and zealous windbag.") There was not a single suggestion in their answers that any of the candidates had read opposing arguments against anthropogenic global warming, or that they were even inclined to ask themselves why anyone would think the issue “overblown.” Occasionally, one or two of them endorsed nuclear power expansion as an alternative to coal and oil, but that spark of intelligence was lost in the damp mold of meaningless rhetoric, and if any one of them wins the White House, no rekindled flame for nuclear power will result. Not a single one of them questioned the efficacy of “green technology” or the “fact” of man-caused global warming. I cannot decide which candidate most resembles Berzelius Windrip, but here are some answers to Couric’s question as transcribed on the CBS website:

• John Edwards: “It seems to me that every time we get more scientific information it indicates the problem is more severe, more serious than we thought. So, no, I don’t think it’s over-hyped….[I’d] have a national cap on carbon emissions. I’d make polluters pay, people who below the cap are still putting out carbon dioxide….” Comment: His “scientific information” obviously is coming from one side.
• Fred Thompson: “There are a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know the extent of this cyclical thing…I don’t know the answer to that. I can’t give you a list of specific items….” Comment: He knows nothing, and will know only what his aides tell him it’s useful to know to curry favor with the public, which he believes is tearing its hair out over global warming. A CBS/New York Times poll said it was.
• Hillary Clinton: “I don’t think it’s over-hyped….We can drastically lower our use of electricity, thereby drastically lower our use of coal-powered electricity…There has to be change from the lowest level of the family and business level all the way up to the national and international level.” Comment: Her naked lust for power and the chance to force those drastic changes on everyone could never be “over-hyped.”
• John McCain: “I have been to Greenland. I have been to the South Pole. I’ve been to the Arctic, and I know it’s real. I believe that we’ve got to go back to nuclear power. We’ve got to do alternative energy….” Comment: Well, what would be the use of “alternative energy” if we went back to nuclear power? McCain blames “special interests” for the U.S. not going nuclear and green fast enough. “It’s the utility companies and the petroleum companies and other special interests.” He has it backwards: It’s Congress and the federal government, beholden to environmental policies, that have blocked nuclear power and oil reserve development.
• Barack Obama: “…I’ve put forward a very substantial proposal to get 80 percent reductions of greenhouse gases by 2050….[W]e’re going to have to charge for pollution and create a market for pollution abatement and create green technologies….” Comment: Yeah, and Berzelius Windrip promised $5,000 to every American if he was elected. The electorate drooled. The money never happened. The electorate got what it voted for.
• Mitt Romney: “I think the risks of climate change are real. And that you’re seeing real climate change. And I think human activity is contributing to it….I don’t wanna have America unilaterally think it’s somehow gonna stop global warming….” Comment: He’s for nuclear power, and clean-burning coal, and other things he’d wanna see the government oversee and regulate.
• Bill Richardson: “No, if anything they’re [sic] underblown.” Comment: He would go after 50 miles per gallon, have 30 percent of electricity produced by “renewable” energy such as solar, wind, and biomass, and would penalize any entity that didn’t help reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2040. Nuclear power eluded him.
• Rudy Giuliani: “There is global warming. Human beings are contributing to it. I think the best answer is energy independence. We’ve got more coal reserves in the U.S. than they have oil reserves in Saudi Arabia.” Comment: Also more offshore and Alaskan oil reserves that are off-limits because of environmentalist policies. But the manatees and caribou and tundra must remain undisturbed. There were a few sparks of rationality in Giuliani’s answer; he pointed out that 80 percent of France’s power comes from nuclear energy.
• Joe Biden: “I think Al Gore has done something really quite phenomenal. He has brought us into the consciousness the reality of what is going to happen.” Comment: None on such bilious language.
• Mike Huckabee: “I don’t know. I mean, the honest answer for me, scientifically, is ‘I don’t know.’ But here’s one thing I do know, that we ought to not let this become this big political football and point of argument. We all ought to agree that we live on this planet as guests.” Comment: Of God? Or of Mother Earth? Well, he doesn’t know, and doesn’t want to talk about it. He and Fred Thompson would make perfect running mates. The holy-roller preacher and the actor.

Those are the presidential candidates, every one of them a loon as clueless about global warming as Paris Hilton about checkbook registers and nearly as vacuously inarticulate. And all second-handers to whom reason and an original thought haven’t paid a visit in decades. Some of the ideas floating in their disintegrated minds are lead balloons, others are pure carbon dioxide, but all are there by consensus.

“Junius,” the pseudonymous 18th century British critic of Parliament and government corruption, wrote in the Public Advertiser in November of 1770, that, “The injustice done to an individual is sometimes of service to the public.” The individuals he was referring to were the corrupt, the venal, and the politically ambitious whose dubious characters he labored to expose.

The public would do itself a service next November by not giving any of these loons a clear mandate to own us.

9 comments:

Bill K. said...

The Islamist threat and the environmentalist threat are quite similar in nature. At the base of both is a profound hatred of Western civilization.

The Islamists want to kill us with whatever WMDs they can get their hands on while the environmentalists want us to commit suicide by the most efficient means possible: mass starvation.

Of the two, the Islamist threat is much easier to deal with. Islam is widely disliked, the consequences of living under its rule is too well known and feared and as a military force it is pathetic.

The environmentalist threat is far more severe. It is easily the worst threat to my freedom in my lifetime. Its lies and obfuscations are legendary. The American body politic appears with, very few exceptions, to be totally given over to the global warming scam. Most American citizens are confused. They do not seem overly concerned with all the doomsaying but do not seem to realize the awful implications of pending legislation to reduce CO2 levels.

Some of the proposals being floated in the MSM have all the hallmarks of the totalitarian state. How politicians are going to impliment these draconian restrictions to reduce CO2 levels, even slightly, without provoking an out and out rebellion remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

My only question to bill k's post above is: who is there to rebel?

Alex said...

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( samsonblinded.org/blog/we-need-a-respite-from-peace.htm )?

Bill Bucko said...

Brilliant analysis. Thanks.

As Ann Coulter (who's far better at criticizing liberal follies than she is at recognizing her own) pointed out: it took a thousand years for the Catholic religion to become so corrupt that it started selling indulgences for sin; but the environmentalist religion has sunk that low already.

Burgess Laughlin said...

Which of the following is the greater threat to rights in "Western" culture?
- Environmentalists.
- Islamofascists.
- Evangelical Christian fundamentalists.
- New Left nihilists.

What interests me here more than the answer (which is important) is the method to be used: How should one go about making this (ordinal) measurement, that X is a greater threat than A, B, or C?

Dan G. said...

Burgess,

Would you consider silent individualists as a threat; since they haven't the gaul to confront members from the groups listed and send them scattering back to the holes from which they crawled?

Burgess Laughlin said...

Question: "...Would you consider silent individualists as a threat; since they haven't the gaul to confront members from the groups listed and ..."

The question is unclear in some ways. I assume a man is silent in society when he does not speak out against wrongs or for rights (in both senses of that word).

I assume an individualist is a man who holds that he and other men should be judged based on the nature of their individual character.

Stipulating those meanings of the terms/ideas used, I see no threat whatsoever against my rights coming from silent individualists. In a legal conext, the only way to threaten my rights is to initiate force against me or commit fraud. In a broader, cultural context, someone is a threat if they advocate such aggression or fraud, but haven't yet taken steps to implement it physically.

No one has an unchosen obligation to speak against evils. If a man refuses to take a public stand in the proper circumstances, he might lack the virtue of courage. However, unless he has made a contractual commitment to protect me, his lack of virtue isn't my problem.

P. S. -- There are a variety of ways to speak out. Donating to ARI--in effect, hiring them to speak--is one way of speaking out that is appropriate for a man who has little time to research issues and to practice presenting his views to an objective audience.

Dan G. said...

"No one has an unchosen obligation to speak against evils."

If speaking against those evils is in his self interest he does, not for you/me directly, but for himself and in the context of civilization we would benefit. The point of my inquiry is to point out that the likely best target to cure what ails our civilization is to get rational men and women to call out bad ideas when they see them, since you won't change the irrationalists minds (they haven't one to change).

This probably isn't the best place for such a discussion. After I've thought it through I'll contact you through your blogger contact info.

Burgess Laughlin said...

My special-purpose weblog, Making Progress --http://www.aristotleadventure.blogspot.com -- is not a suitable place for the discussion of this topic. Nor is private discussion. It is an important topic. You might try approaching one of the more general-purpose weblogs to see if one might raise the question that interests you.

If Rule of Reason isn't interested, try Gus Van Horn or a weblog that he recommends for the purpose.