Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cooking the books on climate

Orange County Register
27 November 2009

My favorite moment in the Climategate/Climaquiddick scandal currently roiling the "climate change" racket was Stuart Varney's interview on Fox News with the actor Ed Begley Jr., star of the 1980s medical drama "St Elsewhere" but latterly better known, as is the fashion with members of the thespian community, as an "activist." He's currently in a competition with Bill Nye ("the Science Guy") to see who can have the lowest "carbon footprint." Pistols at dawn would seem the quickest way of resolving that one, but presumably you couldn't get a reality series out of it. Anyway, Ed was relaxed about the mountain of documents recently leaked from Britain's Climate Research Unit, in which the world's leading climate-change warm-mongers e-mail each other back and forth on how to "hide the decline" and other interesting matters.

Nothing to worry about, folks. "We'll go down the path and see what happens in peer-reviewed studies," said Ed airily. "Those are the key words here, Stuart. 'Peer-reviewed studies.'"

Hang on. Could you say that again more slowly so I can write it down? Not to worry. Ed said it every 12 seconds, as if it were the magic charm that could make all the bad publicity go away. He wore an open-necked shirt, and, although I don't have a 76-inch HDTV, I wouldn't have been surprised to find a talismanic peer-reviewed amulet nestling in his chest hair for additional protection. "If these scientists have done something wrong, it will be found out and their peers will determine it," insisted Ed. "Don't get your information from me, folks, or any newscaster. Get it from people with Ph.D. after their names. 'Peer-reviewed studies' is the key words. And if it comes out in peer-reviewed studies."

Got it: Pier-reviewed studies. You stand on the pier, and you notice the tide seems to be coming in a little higher than it used to and you wonder if it's something to do with incandescent light bulbs killing the polar bears? Is that how it works?

No, no, peer-reviewed studies. "Peer-reviewed studies. Go to Science magazine, folks. Go to Nature," babbled Ed. "Read peer-reviewed studies. That's all you need to do. Don't get it from you or me."

Look for the peer-reviewed label! And then just believe whatever it is they tell you!

The trouble with outsourcing your marbles to the peer-reviewed set is that, if you take away one single thing from the leaked documents, it's that the global warm-mongers have wholly corrupted the "peer-review" process. When it comes to promoting the impending ecopalypse, the Climate Research Unit is the nerve-center of the operation. The "science" of the CRU dominates the "science" behind the United Nations IPCC, which dominates the "science" behind the Congressional cap-and-trade boondoggle, the upcoming Copenhagen shakindownen of the developed world, and the now-routine phenomenon of leaders of advanced, prosperous societies talking like gibbering madmen escaped from the padded cell, whether it's President Barack Obama promising to end the rise of the oceans or the Prince of Wales saying we only have 96 months left to save the planet.

But don't worry, it's all "peer-reviewed."

Here's what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by "peer review". When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann "consensus," Jones demanded that the journal "rid itself of this troublesome editor," and Mann advised that "we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers."

So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the "consensus" reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley ("one of the world's foremost experts on climate change") suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to "get him ousted." When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

Which, in essence, is what they did. The more frantically they talked up "peer review" as the only legitimate basis for criticism, the more assiduously they turned the process into what James Lewis calls the Chicago machine politics of international science. The headline in the Wall Street Journal Europe is unimproveable: "How To Forge A Consensus." Pressuring publishers, firing editors, blacklisting scientists: That's "peer review," climate-style. The more their echo chamber shriveled, the more Mann and Jones insisted that they and only they represent the "peer-reviewed" "consensus." And gullible types like Ed Begley Jr. and Andrew Revkin of the New York Times fell for it hook, line and tree-ring.

The e-mails of "Andy" (as his CRU chums fondly know him) are especially pitiful. Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose "Climate Audit" Web site exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann's global-warming "hockey stick" graph, "Andy" writes to Dr. Mann to say not to worry, he's going to "cover" the story from a more oblique angle:

"I'm going to blog on this as it relates to the value of the peer review process and not on the merits of the mcintyre et al attacks.

"peer review, for all its imperfections, is where the herky-jerky process of knowledge building happens, would you agree?"

And, amazingly, Dr. Mann does!

"Re, your point at the end – you've taken the words out of my mouth."

And that's what Andrew Revkin did, week in, week out: He took the words out of Michael Mann's mouth and served them up to impressionable readers of the New York Times and opportunist politicians around the world champing at the bit to inaugurate a vast global regulatory body to confiscate trillions of dollars of your hard-earned wealth in the cause of "saving the planet" from an imaginary crisis concocted by a few dozen thuggish ideologues. If you fall for this after the revelations of the past week, you're as big a dupe as Begley or Revkin.

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" wondered Juvenal: Who watches the watchmen? But the beauty of the climate-change tree-ring circus is that you never need to ask "Who peer-reviews the peer-reviewers?" Mann peer-reviewed Jones, and Jones peer-reviewed Mann, and anyone who questioned their theories got exiled to the unwarmed wastes of Siberia. The "consensus" warm-mongers could have declared it only counts as "peer-reviewed" if it's published in Peer-Reviewed Studies published by Mann & Jones Publishing Inc. (Peermate of the Month: Al Gore, reclining naked, draped in dead polar bear fur, on a melting ice floe), and Ed Begley Jr. and "Andy" Revkin would still have wandered out, glassy-eyed, into the streets droning "Peer-reviewed studies. Cannot question. Peer-reviewed studies. The science is settled ... ."

Looking forward to Copenhagen, Herman Van Rumpoy, the new president of the European Union and an eager proponent of the ecopalypse, says 2009 is "the first year of global governance." Global government, huh? I wonder where you go to vote them out of office. Hey, but don't worry, it'll all be "peer-reviewed."


Friday, November 27, 2009

Sheppard gives thanks for place in history

'Voice of Yankee Stadium' looks back on more than 50 years

By Bryan Hoch /

11/26/09 11:00 AM EST

Bob Sheppard served more than 50 seasons as the "Voice of Yankee Stadium," his clear, concise and correct style proudly providing the soundtracks of summer for Yankees players from Joe DiMaggio to Derek Jeter.

The voice of Yankee Stadium, Bob Sheppard, accepts his Monument Park plaque in 2000.

One month after celebrating his 99th birthday by watching the Yankees inch closer to their 27th World Series championship -- the first Fall Classic he missed in the Bronx since 1951 -- Sheppard has decided it is time to officially cede control of his microphone to a successor.

"I have no plans of coming back," Sheppard said on Wednesday in a telephone interview. "Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don't think, at my age, I'm going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well."

Sheppard's legendary service to the organization began by introducing the lineups on April 17, 1951, and spanned approximately 4,500 games, including 121 consecutive postseason contests, a streak that ended in 2007 due to illness.

Born on Oct. 20, 1910, the grind of the job is mostly what keeps Sheppard from returning, particularly his lengthy commute from Long Island. That prompted him to leave his duties announcing New York Giants football games at the Meadowlands early in 2006.

Sheppard said that he doubts "very, very much" that he will be able to perform the public address duties for even one Yankees game in 2010.

"It's not just the two hours or three hours of baseball," Sheppard said. "It's the trip, the preparation, the trip home, and a long, long day. I think at my age, it's time to accept the fact that I had a great run. A great run. And I only made a few mistakes along the way."

Unable to attend Yankee Stadium's final game on Sept. 21, 2008, Sheppard recorded the lineups from his home on Long Island and provided a valedictory send-off to the facility. This year, Sheppard said he watched the Yankees' march to the title on television, and enjoyed his new perspective.

"I was very much intimate with the action," Sheppard said. "I just felt, in one way, it's even better to be here than to be up in my booth. This way, I'm comfortable, I have no outside assignments, and I can concentrate on the game.

"My heart beats when they win, and it stops beating when they lose. That's part of the game and I did it for over 50 years, so it is nothing new to me."

Sheppard said that he has not set foot inside the new Yankee Stadium, but he regularly speaks with Paul Olden, whom he considers a worthy successor to his public address duties.

"He seems to me to be a very quiet, dignified and professional fellow taking over my job after my 50 or more years up there," Sheppard said. "When I can hear him in the background when I'm listening to the TV, he sounds clear. He sounds dignified. I think he sounds professional. That's what the Yankees were looking for."

Sheppard's absence from the ballpark the past two years has not been entirely his decision.

"I haven't been well," Sheppard said. "I had problems breathing for a while, and then I had a loss of weight. Now I'm trying to build myself back up again to get back to the stamina that I had when I played football at St. John's [University] many, many, many years ago, and life-guarding in the summer. I was at one time, about two years ago, down to 103 pounds.

"The doctor said that when I get to be about 145 pounds, he will give me clearance again. I have now reached about 137 and I'm not too far from what he wanted me to be. I have to keep building, and I'll be back at my best weight."

Sheppard was tickled to learn that the Yankees formally dedicated the press dining area as "Sheppard's Place." After asking if the food is good -- it is -- Sheppard said that he hopes to take a tour next spring through the cafeteria to enjoy lunch, and see where his booth would have been.

"I saw it going up when it was being built," Sheppard said. "I would once in a while look over to the left from upstairs, and see this building going up, and say, 'Oh, it's beautiful!' And I have yet to be there. Isn't that amazing? I missed the whole season."

Sheppard considers his most lasting compliment to also be the one that fans hear for each of Derek Jeter's at-bats at the new Stadium. When Sheppard missed the 2007 playoffs with a bronchial infection, Jeter asked to have a recording of Sheppard's introduction played for each of his at-bats.

Though Sheppard has not returned, the recording has remained, in Sheppard's unmistakable style: "Now batting for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter, number two."

"I think it might be one of the finest compliments I have ever received, that he wants my voice introducing him," Sheppard said. "He feels comfortable listening to the same introduction that he earned when he joined the Yankees when he was young."

Asked if he has any words of advice or wisdom for fans who hope to lead long and full lives of their own, Sheppard -- a devout Roman Catholic -- said that one possible secret for his longevity has been his spirituality, as he still tries to attend Mass every day.

"I pray. I thank God for giving me ninety-nine years," Sheppard said. "Ninety-nine years. Wow. Can you envision that? If you dream of living long, I would recommend it to you."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Is The Church Militant Back?

By Patrick J. Buchanan
November 25, 2009

With the House debate on health care at its hottest, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued a stunning ultimatum: Impose an absolute ban on tax funds for abortions, or we call for defeat of the Pelosi bill.

Message received. The Stupak Amendment, named for Bart Stupak of Michigan, was promptly passed, to the delight of pro-life Catholics and the astonished outrage of pro-abortion Democrats.

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin speaks to a reporter in Riverside, R.I. , Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. Tobin said Sunday that he asked U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy in a 2007 letter to stop receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, because of the congressman's public stance on moral issues. (AP)

No member was more upset than Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, son of Edward Kennedy, who proceeded to bash the Church for imperiling the greatest advance for human rights in a generation.

Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin responded, accusing Kennedy of an unprovoked attack and demanding an apology. Kennedy retorted that Tobin had told him not to receive communion at Mass and ordered his diocesan priests not to give him communion.

False! The bishop fired back.

He had sent Kennedy a private letter in February 2007 saying that he ought not receive communion, as he was scandalizing the Church. But he had not told diocesan priests to deny him communion.

As Rhode Island is our most Catholic state, Kennedy went silent and got this parting shot from Tobin: "Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church."

The clash was naturally national news. But Tobin's public chastisement of a Catholic who carries the most famous name in U.S. and Catholic politics is made more significant because it seems to reflect a new militancy in the hierarchy that has been absent for decades

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., just informed the city council that, rather than recognize homosexual marriages and provide gays the rights and benefits of married couples, he will shut down all Catholic social institutions and let the city take them over. Civil disobedience may be in order here.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York sent an op-ed to The New York Times charging the paper with anti-Catholic bigotry and using a moral double standard when judging the Church.

During the "horrible" scandal of priest abuse of children, wrote the archbishop, the Times demanded the "release of names of abusers, rollback of the statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records and total transparency."

But when the Times "exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuses in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish Community ... 40 cases of such abuses in this tiny community last year alone," wrote the archbishop, the district attorney swept the scandal under the rug, and the Times held up the carpet.

Dolan singled out a "scurrilous ... diatribe" by Maureen Dowd "that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish or African-American" faith.

Dowd, wrote Dolan, "digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription ... into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics and his recent welcome to Anglicans." [Foul Ball: Anti-Catholicism Is the Nation's Other Pastime, By Archbishop Timothy Dolan,, October 30, 2009]

Dowd, said Dolan, reads like something out of The Menace, the anti-Catholic Know Nothing newspaper of the 1850s.

The Times' refusal to publish the op-ed underscores the archbishop's point.

Nor are these the only signals of a new Church Militant.

The Vatican has reaffirmed that Catholics in interfaith dialogues have a moral right if not a duty to convert Jews, and reaffirmed the doctrine that Christ's covenant with his church canceled out and supersedes the Old Testament covenant with the Jews.

When Abe Foxman, screech owl of the Anti-Defamation League, railed that this marks a Catholic return to such "odious concepts as 'supersessionism,'" he was politely ignored.

The new spirit was first manifest last spring, when scores of bishops denounced Notre Dame for inviting Barack Obama, a NARAL icon, to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree.

Among the motives behind the new militancy is surely the wilding attack on Pope Benedict for reconciling with the Society of St. Pius X, one of whose bishops had questioned the Holocaust. The pope was unaware of this, and the bishop apologized. To no avail. Rising in viciousness, the attacks went on for weeks. Having turned the other cheek, the church got it smacked.

In his May address to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke said, "In a culture which embraces an agenda of death, Catholics and Catholic institutions are necessarily counter-cultural."

Exactly. Catholicism is necessarily an adversary faith and culture in an America where a triumphant secularism has captured the heights, from Hollywood to the media, the arts and the academy, and relishes nothing more than insults to and blasphemous mockery of the Church of Rome.

Our new battling bishops may be surprised to find they have a large cheering section among a heretofore silent and sullen faithful who have been desperate to find a few clerical champions.


- Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from His latest book is Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, reviewed here by Paul Craig Roberts.

Film Reviews: The Blind Side

From the Projects to the Ravens

The Blind Side overcomes its flaws.

By Thomas S. Hibbs
November 25, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

The Blind Side is the true story of the high-school years of Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), who was born in a Memphis housing project with no father and a drug-addicted mother. Because of his athletic potential and despite his woeful academic performance, Mike gains admission to a Christian high school. His big break comes when the Tuohy family, at first unofficially and eventually legally, adopts him.

The Blind Side is a standard uplifting Hollywood sports story, in which obstacles are overcome and the underdog ends up victorious. The film has its share of emotionally overwrought scenes and a few incredible moments. But The Blind Side, with a script adapted and directed by John Lee Hancock, who worked similar magic with The Rookie, manages to overcome these defects, largely because of its humor and genuine warmth, and because of a terrific performance by Sandra Bullock as the gorgeous, effervescent, and tough-minded Leigh Anne Tuohy.

Just before Thanksgiving, the Tuohy family — which also includes dad Sean (Tim McGraw in a solid performance), high-school-age daughter Collins (Lily Collins), and her younger brother, S.J. (Jae Head as a Macaulay Culkin clone who provides comic relief even if he overacts) — passes Mike, who’s wearing a T-shirt and walking alone on the road from school. Leigh Anne demands that Sean turn the car around and find out where Mike is going. Sensing that he has nowhere to go, she invites him to their home.

Mike is gentle and taciturn, but Leigh Anne slowly coaxes information out of him about his past — one that includes drug addiction, serial sexual encounters, and rampant violence. Brief trips to Mike’s former neighborhood provide a sense of the squalor and moral corruption that threatened to engulf his life and destroy any hope of future success. It must be said that these scenes, especially those in which Leigh Anne, dressed in posh, alluring clothes, confronts and intimidates gun-toting drug dealers, strain credibility.

Leigh Anne’s toughness comes through in more believable and more humorous ways in the rest of the film. During a football practice, in which Oher’s timid blocking on the offensive line exasperates his coach, Leigh Anne marches onto the field and, as she passes the baffled coach, informs him that he can thank her later. She then pulls Mike aside and explains to him that his teammates are family; in the same way that he would protect his new off-field family, he needs to devote himself to clearing the way for his on-field family. As she leaves the field, she tells the coach that he needs to know his players better. It turns out that Oher, well below average in standard measures of cognition, scores very high in protective instincts.

In his first game, Mike is taunted on the field by a brash and bigoted defensive lineman, and, from the stands, by that lineman’s redneck father. When Mike finally responds, he blocks the poor defender all the way off the field and into the stands. Leigh Anne turns to the boy’s father and says, “Hey, Deliverance, that’s my son!”

Mike’s awakening happens more easily and more rapidly on the field than in the classroom. Skeptical about his having being admitted at all, the teachers predict failure and are not deeply sympathetic. One makes the not unreasonable argument that the school has set him up for failure. With the help of a tutor, Miss Sue (Kathy Bates), Oher eventually comes to master the elements of essay writing.

Miss Sue initiates one of the funniest exchanges in the film. About to be hired by Leigh Anne, Miss Sue states that before they go any farther, there is one thing she needs to tell her. Leigh Anne hesitantly asks, “What is it?” Bates responds, “I’m a Democrat.” Tuohy is momentarily stunned. As Miss Sue leaves, Sean wonders aloud, “How is it that we took in a young black man before we ever met a Democrat?” The Tuohies’ sense of humor about their politics is clearly lost on the New York Times’s A. O. Scott, who scorns what he takes to be the film’s celebration of “selective charity.” It is refreshing to see Hollywood produce a film that portrays a Republican and Christian family in a favorable light. It is also refreshing that politics surfaces only in passing and is subordinate to a compelling story. If the film has a lesson, it is only indirectly political. It is about the intact, loving family as the ordinary condition of human flourishing.

— Thomas S. Hibbs, an NRO contributor, is the author of Shows about Nothing.

'The Blind Side'

Sandra Bullock and newcomer Quinton Aaron have a warm and winning chemistry in director John Lee Hancock's fact-based story of a football-loving white family's adoption of a homeless black teen.

By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic
November 20, 2009

Watching "The Blind Side" is like watching your favorite football team; you'll cheer when things go well, curse when they don't, and be reminded that in football, as in life, it's how you play the game that counts -- though winning doesn't hurt, either.

I'm talking to the jocks here. The rest of you can just bring Kleenex and give in to this quintessentially old-style story that is high on hope, low on cynicism and long on heart. If Frank Capra was still around, director John Lee Hancock might have had to fight him for the job.

Based on the remarkable true story of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher -- once a homeless black Memphis teenager literally plucked off the road on an icy winter night by a well-heeled white family -- the movie stars Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy. She's a spitfire of a mom, and it's the kind of smart, sassy role Hollywood should have given the actress ages ago.

Michael's story begins in a Memphis project aptly named Hurt Village with a drug-addicted mother, an absentee father and a childhood in and out of foster homes, all of which we get compressed into a few quick flashbacks scattered through the film.

It's what became of Michael (newcomer Quinton Aaron) that the film is concerned with, and that is framed by something else entirely: the Tuohy family and Washington Redskins' quarterback Joe Theismann's career-ending injury in 1985 after a blindside tackle by New York Giants' linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

The film opens, as does the Michael Lewis book on which it is based, with a breakdown of the four seconds from the snap of the ball to the snap of Theismann's leg that would change the game, with Bullock narrating the still difficult to see footage from that night. (Theismann has said even he can't watch it.)

Michael, it turns out, will have the weight, size and speed to block the Lawrence Taylors of the world, an increasingly valuable commodity in the football world. And that's where the Tuohys come in -- as a football-obsessed family, they nurture his raw talent; as fundamental Christians, they keep an eye on his soul.Leigh Anne is a force of nature in a Chanel suit, armed with a cellphone and a .22. In the role, Bullock blows in like a tornado, issuing orders in a rapid-fire Southern drawl that defies speed and ruffles more than a few feathers. It's not her fault, she just knows she's right and won't stop until everyone else is on the same page.

And believe me, Bullock makes "join rather than fight" the option you want to take. She nails the character with every click, click, click of her heels and every toss of those perfectly coiffed blond locks. When she stares down a drug dealer while she assures him her Saturday Night Special works just fine on all the other days of the week, you feel like ducking too.

The rest of the clan is made up of husband Sean, played with an easygoing charm by country singer Tim McGraw, teenage daughter Collins (Lily Collins) and young son SJ, with Jae Head pulling off such a perfect mix of Leigh Anne's cockiness and Sean's charisma that you miss him when he's not around.

Michael ends up enrolled in the private Christian school where the Tuohy kids go. His size and agility had caught the coach's eye and he's accepted despite having a grade-point average that barely registers. That fateful freezing night when Leigh Anne takes him home comes soon after, and almost overnight he is being absorbed into the family, which has not only an open heart and an open mind, but a serious obsession with football, Ole Miss in particular.

What happens next is a testament to the unique people that both Leigh Anne and Michael are. As she begins to piece together the depressing back story of his life, he begins to trust that she will be there for him. These are emotional colors not easy to get to, but they happen here in moving ways because of the chemistry between Bullock and Aaron. She infuses the role with empathy, not pity; he brings an aching vulnerability and an innocence that are remarkable for someone with no formal training.

You know going in that this is a success story, but it still is deeply satisfying to see Michael's life unfold. He becomes a decent student in large part thanks to the help of his tutor Miss Sue ( Kathy Bates), another Ole Miss alum. He's a bull on the field and eventually the object of a college ball recruitment drive so extensive that the NCAA investigates. No one can quite believe the Tuohys would take him in with no ulterior motive, particularly after he chooses to go to Ole Miss.

After the fiasco of "The Alamo," Hancock is solidly back in his wheelhouse with another compelling sports story that echoes the human touch he brought to the 2002 sleeper hit "The Rookie." In "The Blind Side," he's pared much of the football analysis of the book away to keep the focus on the family. But one of the great treats of the film is the parade of real-life coaches, including such legends as Lou Holtz and Nick Saban, that come to recruit Michael. And there should be enough on-field action to get even the tough guys in the audience through the more emotional moments.

Wisely, Hancock has given the film as much humor as heart, whether it's Michael bench-pressing SJ or Leigh Anne calling in plays to a very irritated high school coach. By the time Sean points out the irony that they ended up having a black son before they had even met a Democrat (Miss Sue), you've long since accepted that there is nothing predictable about this story.

But in the end, this is Bullock's movie. She is Leigh Anne to such a degree you forget you're watching one of the best-known actresses around. And while her sass is both endearing and highly entertaining, it is the way she masks Leigh Anne's "never let them see you cry" vulnerability, especially when it comes to Michael -- the quick retreats when she's moved, shoulder thrown back, eyes staring straight ahead as she hands out the latest set of marching orders -- that leave you cheering for her too.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pilgrims & Progress

New York Post
November 26, 2009

"There came a smell off the shore like the smell of a garden."

-- John Winthrop, off the New England coast, 1630

If John Winthrop was in clined to find godly favor in the wilds of New England, other newcomers didn't see the signs the same way. William Bradford landed a decade before Winthrop. "What could they see," he wrote of the Pilgrims confronting the new land, "but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men?"

Half of them died that first terrible winter in Plymouth, and if it weren't for constant human reinforcements, New England might have stalled out. In the end, though, Winthrop proved right: The colonists had arrived on a continent of awe-inspiring abundance. With ingenuity and commercial pluck, they tapped its vast riches in what would become history's greatest adventure in wealth-creation.

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

It all started with the natural windfall. There was the sheer amount of land, much of it arable, which allowed for an ever-westward march. There was the game, the deer and the buffalo, and the smaller animals hunted and trapped for fur. There were the fishing grounds, alive with the cod that the settlers soon were exporting to Europe and the West Indies in prodigious quantities. And there were the trees that -- with an assist from the handy ax -- yielded homes, warmth, fences and ships.

But it was the nature and mores of the people that mattered most. They weren't given to sitting still.

"The Pilgrims," Ted Morgan writes in his book "Wilderness at Dawn," "are our first example of that restless mobility that was supposed to have originated on the frontier." By the time they came to the New World -- from England via Holland -- it was because they had no place else to go.

Early on, the Pilgrims grasped a basic point about economic motivation. In 1623, they rejected their initial system of collectivism; each family got its own plot of land. Bradford called it "a very good success, for it makes all hands very industrious." They had learned "the vanity of that conceit of Plato's . . . that the taking away of property and bringing community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing."

The economic historian John Steele Gordon points out that Puritan merchants often wrote at the top of their ledgers, "In the name of God and profit." The settlers who poured into New England included tradesmen of all sorts, bringing their hustle and shrewdness. They quickly resorted to technology to make up for the relative absence of labor.

The first sawmill opened in 1634; a dozen were operating by 1650. John Winthrop's son took an interest in industry and established an ironworks in the 1640s. By 1700, Boston trailed only London as a ship-building city in the British Empire. "By the end of the Colonial era," Gordon writes, "the colonies were producing one-seventh of the world's supply of pig iron."

As our Founding Fathers knew in their bones, this represented the merest beginning, situated as we were in what George Washington called "a most enviable condition."

Paul Johnson writes in his magisterial "A History of the American People" that 300 years after Winthrop's arrival, "the United States was producing, with only 6 percent of the world's population and land area, 70 percent of its oil, nearly 50 percent of its copper, 38 percent of its lead, 42 percent each of its zinc and coal, and 46 percent of its iron -- in addition to 54 percent of its cotton and 62 percent of its corn."

This triumph came with painful fits and starts, of course. Even immediately after the American Revolution, a brief recession hit and people worried about the young country already losing its purpose. The incredulous comment of one observer has remained an apt rebuke to pessimists about the US future across the centuries: "If we are undone, we are the most splendidly ruined of any nation in the universe."


Navy SEALs Charged Over Alleged Abuse of Terrorist Mastermind

by Stephen Brown
26 November 2009

It makes one wonder how the West is ever going to win the war against radical Islam.

Fox News reported yesterday that three navy SEALs have been charged for allegedly abusing a terrorist leader they had captured in Iraq last September.

The SEALs’ long-sought target, Ahmed Hashim Abed, is believed to have been the mastermind behind one of the most infamous incidents of the Iraq war: the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater security personnel in Fallujah in 2004. The four men were attacked when transporting supplies and had their bodies burned and dragged through the streets. Two of the corpses were then hung from a Euphrates River bridge.

Abed, the alleged planner of this barbarism, claims the navy’s elite commandos had punched him after his capture and that “he had the bloody lip to prove it.”

According to the Fox story the SEALs, to their credit, all refused non-judicial punishment and have requested a trial by court-martial. The Fox reporter, Rowan Scarborough, did not overlook the bitter irony of the case, pointing out that instead of being lauded for bringing a valuable terrorist suspect to justice for an unspeakable crime, the American servicemen are now facing charges themselves. The three men have also retained lawyers.

But the American servicemen’s situation is more than just ironic but rather constitutes a gross injustice. Most right-thinking people would feel that, in the middle of a war, three such brave and highly-skilled warfare specialists, whose expensive training the American taxpayer has funded, should not be facing a demoralizing criminal trial over such a relatively minor matter that may not even have happened.

As far as legality is concerned, terrorists like Abed are lucky to be left among the living after their capture. As conservative columnist Thomas Sowell rightly points out, Islamic terrorists have never followed the Geneva Convention regarding the rules of warfare, as can be easily discerned in the case of the Blackwater security guards alone. More importantly, however, the terrorists themselves are not covered by the Convention’s provisions.

“Neither the Constitution of the United states nor the Geneva Convention gives rights to terrorists who operate outside the law,” writes Sowell.

Legally, under the Convention’s terms, the American military in wartime has the right to shoot any captured enemy not in uniform. Sowell states, “There was a time when everyone understood this” and cites World War Two’s Battle of the Bulge as an example. German troops caught in American uniforms during that battle were shot almost immediately and without trial. Their executions were even filmed and shown years later on American television with no fuss ever made regarding legality.

But in the charges against the three Navy SEALs, one can detect the liberal media’s invisible hand. After the media-induced hysteria about the Abu Ghraib scandal, where American service personnel were rightly punished for subjecting detainees to abuse, some of it no worse than frat party pranks, the American military is supersensitive about the treatment of detainees. It knows the liberal media would love another prisoner mistreatment scandal that can sell papers or earn networks higher ratings as well as simultaneously be used as a stick to beat an American institution it has never liked.

And it is not as if liberals in the media have ever actually cared about Iraqi prisoners. Just the opposite. For 24 years they hypocritically ignored the real suffering of the thousands of people who were tortured and murdered under Saddam Hussein in Abu Ghraib. But that did not stop them from blowing up the scandal involving the American military into something that appeared to merit a second Nuremburg Trials.

This need for scandal that can be turned into a headline, however, has been of greater service to the Islamists in Afghanistan. There, the controversy about civilian deaths caused by American and NATO troops led to a change in their Rules of Engagement (ROE) this year. It is now much more difficult for western forces to drop smart bombs or missiles on targets where civilians may be present. One report states lawyers now have to be consulted and a casualty analysis made before every smart bomb or missile attack.

One military analyst claims the ROE change occurred due to the Taliban’s ability to manipulate the media and western journalists’ “enthusiasm for jumping on real, or imagined, civilian deaths”, since dead civilians are considered news. In other words, the Taliban successfully turned civilian deaths into a “powerful propaganda weapon” that the western media ran with.

The controversy about civilian deaths caused Defense Secretary Robert Gates to assess civilian killings as “one of our strategic vulnerabilities.” Gates probably would not have uttered such a statement if the media had correctly and constantly reported that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have been low when compared to Iraq and other wars. But that is uninteresting news.

Just as uninteresting to the media is the fact the Taliban have killed far more civilians than western forces, four times as many according to one report. But that does not make for headlines. You will also probably not often see a quote like the following from an Afghan father whose son lost his leg to a Taliban roadside bomb.

“I do not mind if I am killed, provided that the Americans get rid of the Taliban. Those tyrants have taken my son’s leg. They laid mines on the road. Don’t they see these roads are also used by civilians?”

Due to the ROE change, one military publication states the Taliban are making greater use of human shields. Taliban fighters spend time in villages or compounds where civilians are present and also bring civilians, whether willing or unwilling, with them as human shields when they go on operations. This has led to their avoiding attacks, in which they earlier would have been killed.

And with the fight becoming more difficult and dangerous for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, this can only spell bad news.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Art, science meet in Pujols

By Bryan Burwell
Wednesday, Nov. 25 2009

If baseball actually was the absolute science that some haughty new-age hardball intelligentsia believe it is, then surely someone would have already created another Albert Pujols by now. For even baseball's new brigade of pseudo-intellectual sabermetricians seem to understand that there are no highfalutin' formulas that would deny the painfully obvious truth that the Cardinals slugger has become a near-perfect standard of baseball excellence.

The sabermetric clan just love them some Albert. If they could shove all of their ultimate exotic measures like VORP, WHIP, RAR, DIPS, SNW, OPS and WAR into a statistical blender, out would pop Virtual Pujols, a spectacular hitting machine even Keith Law could unconditionally love.

And I say thank goodness for Pujols, because he is the perfect baseball creation who, at least for the moment, has allowed the game's stubborn old-school traditionalists, new-school deep thinkers and baseball's statistical moderates, too, to meet on some common ground.

I woke up Tuesday morning with a slight case of uncomfortable dread bubbling in my stomach, wondering who and how someone armed with a Baseball Writers Association of America National League MVP ballot in one hand and a sabermetric crib sheet in another was going to use the rigid language of science to explain why Pujols didn't deserve to win his third NL MVP.

Much to my surprise and relief, no one went rogue on the MVP voting, with Pujols receiving all 32 first-place votes, becoming only the sixth NL player to win the award by unanimous vote ... and sanity was once again restored to Baseball America.

I think.

I hope.

I pray.

After the turbulence of last week's Cy Young balloting, where we saw a seismic shift in the way baseball writers measured what constitutes greatness in their game, an angry debate ensued.

In this corner, Old School intuition.

In this corner, New School sabermetrics.

And oh, what a nasty war of words came spilling out of both corners of baseball's hottest debate.

And in spite of some unsettling stubbornness on the part of Law, ESPN's new-age statistical prince who fought his battle armed with mind-numbing formulas and obtuse alibis, steadfastly resisting the urge to rely on anything beyond his spread-sheet meanderings to quantify something so wonderfully intuitive as the athletic gift of excelling at baseball, I think some progress was made.

As my new-school buddy Matthew Leach of says, even if you don't agree with Law's inflexible logic, we shouldn't shut him out of the conversation. In fact, it might do baseball a world of good to let more of these voices — as insane as they might be — scream on the mountaintop.

This is an important debate that has been on a slow rise from a steady simmer to an all-out boil for some time now, even with moderates like Cards general manager John Mozeliak trying to bridge the gap. "I believe in analytics," Mozeliak said Tuesday. "There's a lot of value in them. But I also realize that baseball-card stats (batting average, home runs, RBIs, wins and losses, ERA) tell you a lot, too, and to ignore that wouldn't be very smart, either."

I am with Mozeliak on this. It can't be all old-school intuition and traditional numbers any more than it should be all new-school sabermetrics. I am not an anti-numbers traditionalist. I am not some athletic Neanderthal who wants to swing a cudgel upside the head of anyone who dares to bring an intellectual analysis to the game. I just happen to believe that you can overthink yourself when all you do is rely on numbers in evaluating athletic greatness.

Numbers are not an absolute tool like the sabermetric worshipers would have you believe. You do not calculate the baseball genius of any great player solely with a spreadsheet any more than you would judge the musical genius of Chuck Berry or Miles Davis by an elaborate math formula.

Sports is more art than science. It is about improvisation and instinct as much as it is about technique and calculations. I can teach 100 men to mimic Pujols' batting stance and swing, and a hundred more to copy Tim Lincecum's pitching motion, but how many will produce the same results?

I can come armed with any number of potent analytical data to prove that Pujols is better than Prince Fielder, and that's just fine. I love the stats as a useful tool, not an absolute, can't-miss measuring stick. At some intuitive level, can't I simply go to a few games, sit in the stands and rely on my eyes and instincts to do the same job with considerably fewer high-minded calculations?

There is of course some science in sports, and it has created some dramatic improvements in terms of training, equipment, coaching and performance. And it's no different when it comes to the demanding world of talent evaluation, too. Give me a radar gun, a video camera and a thick booklet of revealing stats to grade any number of players.

But every time I hear these stat freaks clinging too tightly to their rigid formulas and reciting an exhausting litany of sabermetrics to describe athletic greatness, I am reminded of a conversation I had several years ago with NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.

I once asked Sanders, who is generally regarded as the greatest pure runner in the history of the game, what he saw when he was zig-zagging his way through all that heavy traffic and finding daylight during a game, and I was expecting a dramatic recitation that might have been best-suited for a kinesiology class.

Instead, Sanders let out a soft chuckle and gave me the simplest description of athletic greatness I've ever heard:

"I see the same thing you would," he said. "The only difference is, I can get there."

In other words, sports just isn't that darned complicated.

Unanimous vote is fitting tribute for Pujols

By Jeff Gordon

Albert Pujols is the greatest position player of his generation. His early-career production is unmatched in baseball’s modern era.

He should have four or five National League Most Valuable Player awards at this point in his remarkable career. He became a hitting machine early in his rookie season and he sustained that high level throughout his career.

So it was only fitting that Albert won this third MVP award -– and his second in a row -– in a unanimous vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He became just the fourth National League player to win the award three times and the 10th ballplayer to win back-to-back MVPs.

“I am really humbled,” Pujols said at his MVP news conference. “There are so many great players in the NL who deserve this award, too. It is a very special day today.”

Pujols doesn’t need these MVP awards to validate his career, but the honors are appropriate. This hardware underscores how he has dominated his peers.

He finds significance in every honor that comes his way.

“Every award you win is special,” he said. “That tells you the dedication that you put into the offseason. I take every award . . . and I keep it in a special place. It means a lot to me.”

Albert admitted it will take a few days for the historical significance of the third MVP to sink in. And he finds the comparisons to Cardinal great Stan Musial to be a bit overwhelming.

“He is ‘The Man,' ” Pujols said. “I keep saying that. I hope by the time I am done in the game I can put up half the numbers Stan Musial put up in his career.”

That is going to happen. Nothing can stop his hitting, as we’ve see for nine consecutive years.

It is impossible to compare baseball eras, but it is possible to compare achievements WITHIN eras -– and in that framework, Albert ranks as one of the best ever.

This time around he got all 32 first-place votes. That was a suitable sign of respect, even in a year when Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez had an outstanding statistical season.

When you look at some of the weird voting, the unanimous vote is all the more impressive. Derrek Lee got a second-place vote, for goodness sakes. Andre Ethier got two of them. Pablo Sandoval got a third-place vote.

So when these guys agree on something, that is notable.

Pujols isn’t just the league’s best position player. He is THE presence in the NL, one that towers over opposing pitching staffs.

Some of the stat nerds argued that Ramirez and Chase Utley had comparable impacts this season, but neither player terrifies rivals as Albert does.

Manager after manager after manager pitches around Albert as much as possible. Most teams refuse to deal with him with the game on the line.

Albert plays hurt, battling on through injuries that require surgical repairs. He is one of the game’s great leaders. He is baseball’s most aggressive first baseman and he makes game-winning plays in the field.

When injuries decimated the Cardinals attack early last season, he carried the offense and kept the team in contention.

Some fans complain that Albert doesn’t run out routine grounders at full speed, but he earns a pass on that by playing through his myriad injuries.

Yahoo! Sports columnist Tim Brown put it well:

“Sometimes, amid the noise and the statistical warfare, the best player is the most valuable player, no more complicated than that. Sometimes the guy who looks like the best player . . . is. The eyes agree with the bottom line. The pitchers say he is the best hitter. The players say he is the best teammate. The manager says he’s never had one quite like him.

“He hits and his team wins, and wins even more than most predicted it would. He’s the most productive hitter in the National League and the pivotal player for the Central Division champion, and therefore Albert Pujols is the Most Valuable Player.”

Hear, hear.

Extraordinary Joe: American League MVP

With his bat and his glove, Mauer wowed Twins fans this year. That effort made him the American League's Most Valuable Player.

By LA VELLE E. NEAL III, Star Tribune
November 24, 2009

Jake Mauer received a text message from his son Joe around 12:50 Monday afternoon.

"Press conference at the Dome at 3 pm,'' it read. "And I'm wearing a suit.''

Dad replied: "I'll be there ... and I will NOT wear a hat.''

Jake Mauer threw his head back as he laughed and added, "He never told me that he actually won the award.''

Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer hits a double in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during their MLB American League Cental Division playoff baseball game in Minneapolis, Minnesota in this October 6, 2009 file photo. Mauer received 27 of 28 first-place votes to win the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award on November 23, 2009. (Reuters)

Even as the news conference started, his son was still coming to grips with being named the American League's Most Valuable Player. Mauer's parents, brothers, grandparents -- and a couple of nieces -- took up a sizable section of the seating as he explained what it meant to be considered one of the game's elite players.

"My dream was always to be in the big leagues and to play in the big leagues,'' Mauer said. "Now to get an MVP ... I can't really describe it.''

Mauer knows that winning an MVP award can be a life-changing development. On the field, his credibility can't be any higher. Off the field, he will be in line for lucrative endorsement deals -- and possibly a precedent-setting contract that befits the only catcher in major league history to win three batting titles.

Even Twins General Manager Bill Smith referred to Mauer as a "once-in-a-lifetime player'' during the news conference.

Mauer is the fifth Twin to win the award, joining Zoilo Versailles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969), Rod Carew (1977) and Justin Morneau (2006). Of the quartet of great St. Paul-born players -- Mauer, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Jack Morris -- Mauer is the only MVP winner.

Mauer, only 26 years old, is forging his status as the best pure hitter in the game. He led the league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587) -- the first American League player to do that since George Brett in 1980.

What fueled his MVP run was the uptick in power that fans have been hungry for. His first swing of the season on May 1 -- he missed all of April with an inflamed right sacroiliac joint -- was a home run to left off Kansas City's Sidney Ponson. Mauer went on to hit 28 homers (he hit 29 combined over the previous three seasons) and drove in a career high 96 runs.

High-profile career

Combine Mauer's high-level hitting with defensive excellence behind the plate and you have a rare player whose season can be compared to ones by past catching greats such as Mike Piazza and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

"His name is out there nationally for everyone to see, what he means to this team and how good of a player he is,'' said Morneau, who attended the news conference with his wife, Krista. "The baseball people know, the writers know. The people who cover it every day know. The diehard fans know. [The impact of the MVP award] is for the fan who doesn't watch 100 games a year and watches only that Sunday night game.''

Mauer received 27 of 28 first-place votes to finish with 387 points, well ahead of second-place finisher Mark Teixeira (225) and third-place finisher Derek Jeter (193), who both play for the Yankees. Balloting was conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The only writer not to give Mauer a first-place vote was Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News; Konishi is based in Seattle. Konishi gave Detroit's Miguel Cabrera a first-place vote.

Mauer will receive a $100,000 bonus for winning the award, and it likely won't be the only spoils he will enjoy because of being the MVP. He recently signed with marketing powerhouse IMG, which represents football's Payton and Eli Manning, auto racing's Danica Patrick and hockey's Alexander Ovechkin. A sponsorship deal with Gatorade is in the works.

For advice on how to handle life as MVP, Mauer will lean heavily on Morneau, who once shared a St. Paul condo with Mauer.

Focused on next year

"It definitely changed for him,'' Mauer said of Morneau. "I think that's good for me to realize that, 'Hey, I've got to work out. I have to get ready for a season.'

"I have to remember this is my job and what I do for a living, my career. You have to take pride in what you are doing, and I definitely do that.''

Winner Take All on Health Care

If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.

By Jonah Goldberg
November 25, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

I hereby forfeit my claim to a right-wing conspiracy decoder ring by offering two cheers for the Democrats. I congratulate them on their victory Saturday night in the Senate, and while I can’t quite wish them continued success on the course they are following, I’m beginning to make peace with the possibility that they’ll win.

For years, conservatives and liberals have flirted with the idea of disposing of the fool’s errand of bipartisanship. Seeking compromise with partisans across the aisle is a recipe for getting nothing important done.

For liberals, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been a leader of this school. In 2007, Krugman wrote in Slate magazine that progressives should abandon any pretense at working with Republicans. The “middle ground,” he wrote, “doesn’t exist — and if Democrats try to find it, they’ll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America’s direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.”

“If one thing is clear from the stimulus debate,” he wrote earlier this year, “it’s that the two parties have utterly different economic doctrines.”

Krugman went on to describe the different views in his typically tendentious manner.

He’s right on the basic point. While there are plenty of hackish, opportunistic deal makers in both parties, the core visions — one progressive, the other conservative — that animate the rank and file are increasingly, and fundamentally, irreconcilable.

Hence, the quest for the middle ground usually rewards the worst kinds of politicians — those devoid of any core convictions and only concerned with feathering their own nests — and yields the worst kinds of policies.

Blending the two visions is like trying to marry two different recipes. You don’t get the best of both so much as a huge mess — say, peanut butter and caviar — or a fraudulent meal, like a “vegetarian” cheesesteak. Better to stay pure, have your way, and convince the American people that your way is the best way.

In short, if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.

Now, the appeal of such an argument depends a great deal on your proximity to power. When your side is out of power, half a loaf is more appetizing than nothing. When in power, the thought of hogging the whole loaf for yourself instead of sharing is seductive.

I may be talking about team dynamics, but I don’t mean that there’s no difference between the teams. Far from it. The Democrats sincerely believe that nationalized health care, in one form or another, is the best thing for America, and that if they can get it passed, voters will fall in love with it.
Politically, there is a real danger they’re right. Americans are loath to relinquish entitlements once they’ve secured them. That’s the Republicans’ gamble.

Then again, Democrats run the very serious risk that before the imagined joys of health-care reform can be realized, voters will revolt over its tax hikes, massive Medicare cuts, increased bureaucracy, and/or its budget-exploding costs. That’s the Democrats’ gamble.

Some moderate Democrats are making a side bet that they can vote for it out of solidarity and then run back to the center come the 2010 elections.

Well, I say let it ride. And just to make it more interesting, Republicans should promise to repeal “Obamacare” if they get a congressional majority in 2010. As National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru argues, that way moderate Democrats won’t be able to run away from their votes come 2010. They’ll be on notice that this will be the campaign issue of the election. And moderate Republicans will be on notice to resist the temptation to tinker with Obamacare rather than defenestrate it once it’s passed.

Sure, I’d rather see this health-care proposal die stillborn (and that’s still quite possible). But if it passes, the upside is that Americans will finally be given a stark philosophical choice on a fundamental issue. That’s much rarer than you might think (recall that the Iraq War and the bailouts were bipartisan affairs).

Obamacare is a vast, deeply polarizing demonstration project for progressive ideas. It is terrible policy, but because I think it’s terrible policy, it may well result in a beneficial backlash. “Example is the school of mankind,” proclaimed Edmund Burke, “and they will learn at no other.”

Democrats insist they’re pushing for health-care reform against a political headwind because “history” compels them to. Republicans are standing athwart “history” yelling, “Stop!”

Politically, one side will be proved right, and the side proved wrong will pay a staggering price. Everyone’s all in.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Climategate and the “T”-word

By Roger L. Simon
November 24, 2009

We all know the “t”-word. Our President has used it many times, as did former UN Secretary General Annan. It’s – all together now – transparency. Now the “t”-word is promised us in almost every campaign by politicians (and mega-bureaucrats like Kofi) and never delivered, so we’re used to looking at it with a jaundiced eye from them. But scientists, scientists, they are the big brains, the honest ones, the ones who, unlike cheap pols, work for eternity, like Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein.

Anyway, they were, until Climategate came along. Here from the Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog is a breathtakingly short and simple illustration of the values of Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, from whence all these emails and documents concerning global warming have been lifted.

Phil Jones, Dec 3, 2008:

About 2 months ago I deleted loads of emails, so have very little – if anything at all.

Phil Jones, Nov 24, 2009 Guardian

We’ve not deleted any emails or data here at CRU.

Oops. Forget the “T”-word. How about the “P”-word (prevarication)? Or the “BFL” word (big fat liar)?

Now look – I want to be clear. I don’t necessarily disagree that anthropogenic global warming is a danger. I’m beginning to doubt it, but I certainly don’t know. What’s clear, however, is these scientists at CRU don’t know (or aren’t so sure) either. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been so guarded, so deceptive, with their data (what remains of it) for so long. They would have been transparent and shared the data with the skeptics if they were so sure they were right. It’s the scientific thing to do, as we all learned in grammar school, if you’re serious about the truth.

But thus far our President and his crew, not to mention our friends at European Union and the UN, are going along as if this download never happened. It’s full steam ahead to Copenhagen:

The United States, under pressure from other nations as one of the world’s largest greenhouse-gas polluters, will present a target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions at next month’s climate conference in Copenhagen, Obama administration officials said Monday.

The development came as the European Union urged the United States and China to deliver greenhouse gas emissions targets at the long-anticipated summit, saying their delays were hindering global efforts to curb climate change.

What’s confusing here is that we all agree – or most of us- that pollution is bad. What we don’t agree on, now more than ever, is the role of AWG, which is increasingly mysterious the more you read these documents. As Charlie Martin shows us, it’s not just the emails, it’s the data itself that is corrupt. We don’t know what we know. But the world is poised to spend untold billions or trillions on that basis.

I happen to favor energy independence, was once a Sierra Club member (okay, I got sick of them) and currently drive a Prius – and still I think this stinks.

(btw, check out the Guardian interview with Jones: “Some of the emails probably had poorly chosen words and were sent in the heat of the moment, when I was frustrated. I do regret sending some of them. We’ve not deleted any emails or data here at CRU. I would never manipulate the data one bit – I would categorically deny that.” Hint to Jones: Never use the word “categorically.” It’s a dead giveaway.)

Climategate: Alarmism Is Underpinned by Fraud (PJM Exclusive)

A decorated scientist and author of the most influential book debunking global warming joins Viscount Monckton in calling the CRU behavior criminal. (Also read Roger L. Simon: Climategate and the "T" Word)

November 25, 2009 - by Ian Plimer

In the geological past, there have been six major ice ages. During five of these six ice ages, the atmospheric carbon dioxide content was higher than at present. It is clear that the colorless, odorless, non-poisonous gas called carbon dioxide did not drive past climates. Carbon dioxide is plant food, not a pollutant.

Humans have adapted to live on ice sheets, deserts, mountains, tropics, and sea level. History shows that humans and other organisms have thrived in warm times and suffered in cold times.

In the 600-year long Roman Warming, it was 4ºC warmer than now. Sea level did not rise and ice sheets did not disappear. The Dark Ages followed, and starvation, disease, and depopulation occurred. The Medieval Warming followed the Dark Ages, and for 400 years it was 5ºC warmer. Sea level did not rise and the ice sheets remained. The Medieval Warming was followed by the Little Ice Age, which finished in 1850. It is absolutely no surprise that temperature increased after a cold period.

Unless I have missed something, I am not aware of heavy industry, coal-fired power stations, or SUVs in the 1,000 years of Roman and Medieval Warmings. These natural warmings are a dreadful nuisance for climate alarmists because they suggest that the warming since 1850 may be natural and may not be related to carbon dioxide emissions.

There was warming from 1860 to 1880, 1910 to 1940, and 1976 to 1998, with intervening periods of cooling. The only time when temperature rise paralleled carbon dioxide emissions was 1976-1998. The other warmings and coolings in the last 150 years were unrelated to carbon dioxide emissions.

Something is seriously wrong. To argue that humans change climate requires abandoning all we know about history, archaeology, geology, astronomy, and solar physics. This is exactly what has been done.

The answer to this enigma was revealed last week. It is fraud.

Files from the UK Climatic Research Unit were hacked. They show that data was massaged, numbers were fudged, diagrams were biased, there was destruction of data after freedom of information requests, and there was refusal to submit taxpayer-funded data for independent examination.

Data was manipulated to show that the Medieval Warming didn’t occur, and that we are not in a period of cooling. Furthermore, the warming of the 20th century was artificially inflated.

This behavior is that of criminals and all the data from the UK Hadley Centre and the US GISS must now be rejected. These crooks perpetrated these crimes at the expense of the British and U.S. taxpayers.

The same crooks control the IPCC and the fraudulent data in IPCC reports.
The same crooks meet in Copenhagen next week and want 0.7% of the Western world’s GDP to pass through an unelected UN government, and then on to sticky fingers in the developing world.

You should be angry. Very angry.

- Ian Plimer is author of Heaven+Earth: Global Warming -- The Missing Science (Taylor Trade, 2009) which exposed the fraud of global warming.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Mark Steyn on Britain and Europe
Tuesday, 24 November 2009

from the Novemer 23 issue of National Review

“Would it not be easier,” wrote Bertolt Brecht after the East German uprising in 1953, “for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”

The thought has occurred to several governments over the years, and I don’t mean the dictatorships. Andrew Neather, a former speechwriter for Tony Blair, wrote a piece for the London Evening Standard the other day and, considering he’s one of those quintessentially slippery New Labour spinmeisters, it was disarmingly insouciant in its straightforwardness. When Labour came to power in 1997, the number of work permits issued each year quadrupled and immigration exploded. Mr Neather revealed that there was “a driving political purpose” behind this: “Mass immigration was the way that the UK Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.” From Labour’s point of view, it would have the additional benefit of helping put the Conservatives out of sync with the times: As Mr Neather writes, “The policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.” If the justification for US immigration is that we need foreigners to do “the jobs that Americans won’t do”, in the United Kingdom they need them to do the jobs that no-one in their right mind would hire a working-class Brit for: The imported workers would be engaged in fields that “certainly wouldn’t be taken by unemployed BNP voters from Barking or Burnley,” sneers Mr Neather. “Fascist au pair, anyone?”

The BNP is the British National Party, and yes, it is, broadly, fascist. But it barely existed until New Labour’s plan to “make the UK truly multicultural” got under way, and it certainly never had such a purchase on England’s white working class that the one major European power that never succumbed to ‘tween-wars fascism this year elected two BNP members to the European Parliament.

That’s the problem with dissolving the people and electing another: You’d have to be a genius to pull off such a transformation without any unintended consequences. If Blair’s game was to import cool new Labour voters and make the dead white males of the Tory Party look even more squaresville, he also wound up imposing huge and potentially fatal stresses on Britain’s fraying societal structure.

Anjem Choudary

Take the recent observations of Anjem Choudary, Principal Lecturer of the London School of Shariah: “There is a spark that has ignited and its flame has become unstoppable,” he declared. “We find ourselves in the year 2009, waiting for Rome to fall, waiting for the White House to fall and indeed waiting for Buckingham Palace to fall.” Mr Choudary is a subject of the Crown but does not think of himself as such. His organization has demanded the Queen convert to Islam, wear a burka, and “stop playing God”. His website, Islam4UK, has many detailed illustrations of British landmarks after the introduction of Sharia: Buckingham Palace would be renamed “Buckingham Masjid” (or mosque) and have a dome fitted on top with speakers to call the faithful to prayer. It would be used as an Islamic court to issue punishments under Sharia, and also as a detention center for “prisoners of war”.

As it happens, Anjem Choudary is not an immigrant: He is British born and bred. But he is a testament to the “true multiculturalism” that New Labour prized so highly. For all but a few guilt-ridden middle-class liberals, “multiculturalism” is a nullity and those within its vapid bounds will seek their identity elsewhere. In a Britain with high Muslim immigration, high Muslim birth rates and high Muslim conversion rates, that means the host community winds up assimilating with the newcomers. In Surrey, the town of Sutton has just introduced female-only swimming sessions in the municipal pool for Muslim women. They’ll put blinds on the windows so no infidel men can see in, and the male lifeguards will be reassigned to other shifts. Might fall afoul of church-state separation in the US, but hey, what’s the big deal?

But why stop there? Azad Ali, the new advisor to the Crown Prosecution Service (the equivalent, more or less, of the US Attorneys), is a supporter of Abdullah Azzam, a key influence on Osama bin Laden, and a man who quotes approvingly such observations as “If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq I would kill him because that is my obligation.” Mr Ali’s appointment is part of the curious British strategy of “defusing” Islamic radicals by putting them all on the government payroll.

Even if one takes the view that arresting fellows for treason is awfully vulgar and a touch heavy-handed, it’s hard to see quite what benefit such chaps are to the United Kingdom. You can’t even say they contribute to “diversity” since such views are becoming distressingly ubiquitous. At a certain level, the idea of the muezzin issuing his call from Buckingham Palace is risible. But, after the Fall of Constantinople, it happened to what was then the largest Christian cathedral in the world. Is it really so fanciful to imagine the same thing happening in a country undergoing artificially induced, unprecedented demographic transformation?

The transparent ambition of an Anjem Choudary is less deluded than the blithe arrogance of an Andrew Neather. Combine them and toss in the likes of the British National Party, and you have the certainty of profound social convulsions in the years ahead. There'll always be an England? Ninety years ago, Bernard Shaw set his play Heartbreak House on the eve of the Great War among a British ruling class too smug and self-absorbed to see what was coming. “Do you think,” he wrote, “the laws of God will be suspended in favour of England because you were born in it?”

Radney Foster explores faith, doubt on ‘Revival’

Published by Peter Cooper on September 15, 2009 in Features.

Radney Foster’s new album started when he was a college freshman, taking a required comparative religions class.

“They made you read this guy Paul Tillich, and the deserts west of Del Rio are not anywhere near as dry as Paul Tillich,” said Foster, 50. “But I had to read it, so I read it. And there was a section in there where he wrote about how doubt is an integral part of faith, and if you don’t have doubt, you can’t have faith. That was directly opposed to what I’d heard growing up in a small town, and so it really hit me when I read that. I thought, ‘Oh, then I guess I’m OK.’ ”

Foster’s latest work, Revival, is an exploration of the nature of faith, doubt, forgiveness and redemption, and it comes in the wake of some major changes for the artist. One song, “I Know You Can Hear Me,” is about the death of his father, while the title track is filled with a sense of hope and healing that Foster says is due to the return of his 17-year-old son Julien, who moved with his mother to France when she remarried.

“When Julien left, I became a real good fly fisherman,” Foster said. “He’d come back for spring break or for Christmas, and then after we put him back on the plane I’d go fish by myself. That was my day to go yell at God. There was a lot of anger, but I realized that I had to find a way to get rid of that, because it’ll destroy you. There’s a song on this album called ‘Forgiveness’ that I really wrote for Julien’s mama, because we both had to figure out how to forgive each other. With hate and anger you can’t be an effective parent.”

It’s a good time for Foster

Julien is now living with his father in Nashville, playing guitar and attending college, and Foster cannot tick off these and other facts without grinning. It’s a good time to be Radney Foster. He’s as busy and productive with writing, recording and touring as he was in the 1980s, when he first came to popular notice as half of hit country duo Foster & Lloyd, and he is regularly cited as a prime influence by artists such as Keith Urban and Darius Rucker. He’s also cited as a forerunner of the Americana movement, and he’ll perform this week as part of the Americana Music Association’s conference.

“I was a part of that thing that happened in the 1980s and early 1990s, with people like Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, the O’Kanes and others, when there was some really neat stuff coming out,” he said, laughing at Earle’s description of that Music City time as country music’s “Great Credibility Scare.” “I guess maybe all that was the birth of what they now call ‘Americana,’ and we just didn’t know it at the time.”

Foster & Lloyd disbanded after three studio albums, and Foster signed a solo deal with Arista Records that found him notching country hits such as “Nobody Wins” and “Just Call Me Lonesome.” He also recorded an album called See What You Want To See, which didn’t burn up the country charts but which found him writing with directness about a difficult time in his life. The album is a favorite of Urban’s, and the country star recorded a hit version of See What You Want To See’s “Raining On Sunday.”

See What You Want To See was born out of huge transitions,” Foster said. “My son left and went to France, and I was a newlywed. My first year of marriage, we went through a custody trial. It was a roller-coaster ride. The best records I’ve made have been about big transitions. Great art comes from tribulations, and great love comes from that, too. That doesn’t mean the other records aren’t good ones, but they aren’t as visceral as See What You Want To See, or Revival."

Revival was released on Sept. 1 via Foster’s own Devil’s River Records, and Foster is well aware that starting a record company at a time of commercial upheaval in the music industry brings on a Tillich-approved combination of faith and doubt. But he and his band, the Confessions, have a healthy touring schedule lined up for the fall, early reviews of the album have been quite positive and a documentary about the making of the album is earning attention as well.

All in all, things seem fine, especially on long days at home, when he can spend the late afternoon cooking dinner for the family and listening to some favorite new music: Julien’s songwriting demos.


The Americana Music Festival & Conference runs Wed., Sept. 16 through Sat., Sept. 19; see for participating venues.

Wed., Sept. 16: Radney Foster shares a free, in-store performance at Grimey’s New & Preloved Music (1604 Eighth Ave. S.), kicking off at 6 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 17: Foster will introduce the screening of the documentary film, Behind the Confessions: Radney Foster’s Revival, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (222 Fifth Ave. S.).

The screening runs noon to 2 p.m., and admission is $19.99, $17.99 for ages 60 and older, military and students with valid ID, $11.99 ages 6–17, free ages 5-younger and museum members, free to Americana Music Association Festival and Conference registrants with badges (information on badges/registration is available via

Fri., Sept. 18: Foster plays the Mercy Lounge (1 Cannery Row) as part of the 2009 Americana Music Festival & Conference alongside Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers, Will Hoge, JD Souther and Scott Miller & the Commonwealth. The showcase is set to start at 8 p.m., Foster is scheduled for 10 p.m. Admission comes with Americana Music Festival wristband ($45, available via

Today's Tune: Radney Foster: A Little Revival

(Click on title to play video)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Advent Is Coming

High Spirits

By Jonathan Aitken from the November 2009 issue
The American Spectator

Later this month we start Advent, a spiritual season rich in visual and musical images. Its contemporary manifestations include pop-up calendars, corporate carol services, school Nativity plays, and endless renditions of "Joy to the World" or "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Along with tinsel, pictures of Santa with his reindeer, and early shopping for presents, these superficialities bring to mind Garrison Keillor's line: "A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."

But there is an alternative to the boisterous countdown of the weeks leading up to Christmas, and it's called Advent. The older and deeper symbols of this season include readings from Isaiah and performances of Handel's Messiah and of the earliest Advent composition known as the Great O's or originally Antiphonae Majores. These were poetic chants written in the seventh century for the early church's pre-Christmas liturgy. Each begins with a vocative "O" connecting ancient Hebrew invocations for the first coming of the expected Savior of Israel with petitions for his return in the second coming.

Today's Christian worshippers are familiar with the Great O's as incorporated into the hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Each of the seven antiphones covers the longings expressed for both advents, as for example in:

And open wide our heavenly home
O Come, Thou key of David, come

These words are one of many indications that this is a season of haunting themes, mysteries, prophecies, and poetry. In these next few weeks we are called to prepare for the arrival, the adventus of God, who enters history in the person of Jesus Christ. It is both an individual and a collective preparation, for he comes in our own experience of him and is yet to come in the fulfilment of all things.

Collectively Advent is full of powerful symbolism. As a young cathedral choirboy I recall being overwhelmed by Wesley's hymn "Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending" and even more by singing the treble part of the Messiah's opening chorus, "And the Glory, the Glory of the Lord Shall Be Revealed."

Revelation is an essential ingredient of Advent at whose heart is a deep yearning of the soul, waiting for the response of the God who comes. That sense of longing is shared by many, of all faiths and of none. For there is in humanity a general sense of fracture coupled with a yearning for a time when hurts will be healed, wrongs will be righted, when peace will replace violence and war. Most of the time we paper over the cracks of such feelings and get along with our lives quite cheerfully. But from time to time that sense of fracture becomes very real as we discover inexplicably bleak winters of the spirit. We feel powerless, unable to change the situation or change our own heart. God can seem far away and inaccessible. At such moments we long for God to reveal himself. If only he would come to us. In the words of Woody Allen: "If only God would give me some clear sign. Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank."

In the absence of the miraculous creation of a large numbered account in a Swiss bank (plus the second miracle of it being a bank that has not been pressured by the IRS into disclosing the identities of its customers), what should those of us hoping for a sign do in Advent -- the season of waiting?

One of the lessons of Advent is that God does respond to those who wait on him in hope. However, it can be a response that comes neither on our terms nor suited to our timetables. The Gospel reading for Advent Sunday reminds us of this forcefully:

Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake -- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake. (Mark 13:33-37)

A possible alternative to keeping awake is to be woken up in Advent. In my own life this has happened more than once. Those choirboy experiences of beautiful Advent music were one such instance. Although this column began with some gentle mockery of corporate carol services and school Nativity plays, I have occasionally felt holiness calling from beneath the outer carapace of corniness. Advent can be the season of divine rustlings and whisperings even amidst the secular trappings of a commercialized Christmas. And as the old saying goes: "If you don't listen to God's whispers, one day you will have to listen to God's shouts."

I am a member of a church in London, St. Matthew's Westminster, whose vicar, Philip Chester, has a special vocation and scholarship for the spirituality of Advent. In the last few years he regularly wakes me up with stimulating sermons and readings that are the equivalent of Advent whispers. Last year he recommended two fine Advent books: Stephen Cottrell's Do Nothing: Christmas Is Coming and Maria Boulding's The Coming of God. Both authors encourage their readers to do less and ponder more during Advent. This pattern of patient reflection follows the example of the Virgin Mary, who after the Annunciation "pondered these things in her heart."

Another part of the original Advent pattern is the play on light and darkness. These contrasting forces are emphasized by the Anglican collect for Advent, read daily in the weeks before Christmas. It opens with the majestic words:

Almighty God give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which Thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility.

Humility is the key to our Advent preparations for the one who is coming. By penitently clearing away the debris of our lives and by prayerfully waiting in hope we can fulfill Isaiah's call "to make straight in the desert a highway for our God."

Jonathan Aitken, The American Spectator's "High Spirits" columnist, is most recently author of John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace (Crossway Books). His biographies include Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed (Doubleday) and Nixon: A Life, now available in a new paperback edition (Regnery).