Archive for March 14th, 2007|Daily archive page

Heads Up: Global Climate Change Denial Bashing

What a wonderful post!

This individual manages to do a wonderful job at doing three things.

First he does a reasonable, measured smackdown on a global warming denier ‘Jack’. In calm measured tones (and with graphs), he points out that while measurements from the Vostok ice cores do show a variation in temperature over time, they are only part of the picture.

Yes, the chart does show that CO2 and earth’s temperature have risen and fallen over the past 400,000 years. No one is claiming that these variations were caused by humans, in fact how the Earth manages to stay within this narrow range of temperatures and CO2 concentrations is the subject of a great deal of debate and research. The point here, is that even with natural variation, these values have stayed within the range shown above for 400,000 years.
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This is where global warming comes in. Early in the 20th century the atmospheric CO2 passed 300 parts per million and just kept on rising. In 400,000 years the natural variation never topped 300 ppm, yet in the last few decades CO2 has gone 25% above that. And amazingly enough, this rise coincides neatly with humans dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at ever increasing rates. This is human caused global warming, and this is what increasingly cannot be explained away as “natural variation.”

Second, he manages to do a wonderful job of showing the inane stupidity in the following comment,

What do you think? Is it possible that those people who think the Iraq war was a good proposition could actually be right on the global warming issue? Or are they a related subset of each other?

And, perhaps as a piece d’resistance, he has both cats and a really cool mustache.


Dr Jail and Mr Bail

South Carolina might just be going into the organ business. At least if the current legislation being considered by the State legislature is passed. According to the Sun-Sentinel

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would let prisoners donate organs or bone marrow in exchange for time off their sentences.

A state Senate panel on Thursday endorsed creating an organ-and-tissue donation program for inmates. But legislators postponed debate on a measure to reduce the sentences of participating prisoners, citing concern that federal law may not allow it.

“I think it’s imperative that we go all out and see what we can do,” said the bill’s chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ralph Anderson []. “I would like to see us get enough donors that people are no longer dying.”

The proposal approved by the Senate Corrections and Penology Subcommittee would set up a volunteer donor program in prisons to teach inmates about the need for donors. But lawmakers want legal advice before acting on a bill that would shave up to 180 days off a prison sentence for inmates who donate.

And perhaps most interesting. The text of the bill itself doesn’t seem to mention any sentence reduction at all. That isn’t part of the law although it might be included in sentencing guidlines or whatever.

Sean Aqui argues out that this is a rather slippery slope and points out that the organs of people executed* in China are regularly harvested (his word) for use. He continues

I’d be very, very wary of taking this step. I don’t have a problem in principle with compensating donors. The problems are all practical. It only works if the entire transaction is fully transparent, and everyone is fully informed and truly a volunteer. The possibilities of abuse are high. And it exploits a vulnerable population. It’s one thing to donate a kidney or bone marrow, even though both operations have their risks. What about muscle tissue or nerves or things like that? Suddenly we’re in a grey area where we’re mildly crippling prisoners. Do we really want people to start thinking about what body part they’re willing to trade for freedom?

Um Sean. Wary? Slippery slope? Compensating Donors?

About compensation, there was an article recently about tsunami victims selling organs because they didn’t get enough help after the ocean destroyed their world. Will that be SC’s next move? Organ donation for state aid after hurricanes. (Let’s offer new homes to those in New Orleans if they just donate an organ.) Compensation? Donor? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

No. This is insane. Like something out of bad science fiction movie.

While legislators increasingly push for longer sentences and stiffer penalties, this kind of legislation will only hurt those members of the population least able to sustain it. Not only are there immediate risks involved in donating an organ, there are long term risks.

Should one of these prisoners later develop problems in the remaining kidney, it is unlikely they will be able to afford the necessary healthcare. With a prison record and the American heathcare system in the wonderful shape it is, how many of these people who go out on bail will be insured? They better not work at Wal-Mart. Of course the job opportunities for people on bail are just immense. Right?

And they better not stay in a Red State. Wouldn’t want these people to start sucking cash out of Medicare. They should have known better and stayed healthy in the first place. Americans do not pay taxes to cover the medical bills of lawbreakers. The American government is not there – um – to take care of it’s citizens right?

And remember[pdf], America has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world.

That’s right. Apparently, the ‘Christian Nation,’ while policing world peace, has the highest rate of prisoners in the world. Congratulations.

That makes this not just a social issue but an economic issue. The prisons are too full (look at California) and cost too much. Therefore you need to empty the prisons. This legislation would offer prisoners bail using only body parts as bait.

Think about it. Is this about helping people or a bizarrely evil way to ease penitentiary bills while pretending to help others? How many of the SC legislators have organ donation cards? How many of the SC legislators have appeared in organ donation public service announcements?

I think this the latest installment in a government becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Cutting funding for crime prevention programs which leads to an increase in crime. We lengthen prison sentences which in turn requires larger prisons and increased prison funding. To lower the costs of incarceration because there are too many prisoners we offer bail for those willing to be cut up. And we still try to lower Medicare costs because all these prisoners are going to go right into insured employment. * sigh *

This is like a bad science fiction novel, Dr Jail and Mr Bail.

[Hat Tip: Justin Gardner/Moderate Voice]

*I would also point out that the bodies of those executed in China have also been shown in the ‘educational exhibition’ Body Worlds. From the International Herald Tribune

There are skinless cadavers sliced in two, tarred human lungs in glass cases, dehydrated brains you can touch. One corpse is posed as a soccer player, balancing on one foot and exposing the complex connection of bones, tendons and muscles
(After the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that some of the “Body Worlds” corpses were Chinese execution victims, the show’s creator, Gunther von Hagens, said he had sought to avoid accepting such cadavers. “My orders have always been clear: no one who was sentenced to death,” he was quoted as saying last year. He added, however: “But I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire for it and say we weren’t perhaps given one or the other execution victim.”)

This has also been reported in the Daily Telegraph.

Did you buy a ticket. Did you go? Did you know? It’s a slippery slope alright.

Pace Yourself

According to Steve Chapman from the Chicago Tribute editorial board, Gen. Peter Pace’s reaction on homosexuality reported on Sunday was a ‘gut reaction.’ And he hadn’t thought through his comments.

In the original article Pace is quoted with the following,

“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” Pace said in a wide-ranging discussion with Tribune editors and reporters in Chicago. “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.

“As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior,” Pace said.

Now TV, blogs and newspapers are full of commentaries, snark, attacks, and Coulter-attacks.

First, I’d like to say, although I think his beliefs are deluded, I do think he is being utterly honest. He truly believes that it is immoral to be homosexual. It is in his bible and it is in his blood.

I would however point out the sad fact that the American military has notably never included infidelity as a reason for not serving. That policy would have gotten not only Ms. Nowak fired, but the other two officers as well. Indeed, even with an official ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy on infidelity in the American military, the pending shortage* in officers wouldn’t be – um – pending, it would be here.

Perhaps the military doesn’t “prosecute” that kind of immoral behaviour because it would decimate the current officer corps. General Pace is correct. The bible does think infidelity is bad. As a matter of fact homosexuality didn’t make even make the 10 commandments, bonking your neighbor’s wife did.

So General Pace, how about it – ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ on infidelity? Get caught with your pants down, skirt up or diapers on and you’re out. Immoral behavior right, sir?

But then again what kind of immoral behavior does the American military prosecute?

I was immediately reminded of the recent must read piece in Salon [Hat Tip: BlondSense] about the war women soldiers are fighting in Iraq. Not against the insurgents, against the ‘moral’ heterosexual men Peter Pace so supports.

As thousands of burned-out soldiers prepare to return to Iraq to fill President Bush’s unwelcome call for at least 20,000 more troops, I can’t help wondering what the women among those troops will have to face. And I don’t mean only the hardships of war, the killing of civilians, the bombs and mortars, the heat and sleeplessness and fear.
Spc. Mickiela Montoya, 21, who was in Iraq with the National Guard in 2005, took to carrying a knife with her at all times. “The knife wasn’t for the Iraqis,” she told me. “It was for the guys on my own side.”
Comprehensive statistics on the sexual assault of female soldiers in Iraq have not been collected, but early numbers revealed a problem so bad that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered a task force in 2004 to investigate. As a result, the Defense Department put up a Web site in 2005 designed to clarify that sexual assault is illegal and to help women report it. It also initiated required classes on sexual assault and harassment. The military’s definition of sexual assault includes “rape; nonconsensual sodomy; unwanted inappropriate sexual contact or fondling; or attempts to commit these acts.”
While commanders of some units are apparently less vigilant about policing rape, others engage in it themselves, a phenomenon known in the military as “command rape.” Because the military is hierarchical, and because soldiers are trained to obey and never question their superiors, men of rank can assault their juniors with impunity. In most cases, women soldiers are the juniors, 18 to 20 years old, and are new to the military and war, thus vulnerable to bullying and exploitation.

There is a “Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy here as well. Keep the dirty secrets quiet. Especially when “[a] 2003 survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military.”

Don’t ask. Don’t tell.

So. Perhaps Gen. Peter will start thinking about immorality in his soldiers. Not the homosexual ones. The other ones. We’ll even leave the ‘covet your neighbors wife’ people in the military. But perhaps we might crack down on the officers raping soldiers under their command.

On the other hand, I wonder how Condi’s lesbian translator corps is doing?

But changing these ideas takes time.

After all, it’s all about morality. You just have to pace yourself. Even if you are a general.

* What? You didn’t know that there is an expected shortage of mid-level officers? From the Indianapolis Star,

The Army, forced by five years of war to expand its ranks, faces a critical shortage in midlevel officers, interviews and military records show.

Those officers — majors and lieutenant colonels — manage troops at war. The Army expects to have an annual shortage of 3,000 such officers through 2013 as it increases its ranks by 40,000 soldiers.

Beyond the shortage of midlevel officers looms an impending shortage of entry-level officers — lieutenants — from the U.S. Military Academy and university Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, records show. Last year, 846 cadets graduated from West Point; the goal was 900. There were 25,100 enrolled in ROTC out of a goal of 31,000, according to a Government Accountability Office report.