What’s Your Idea Of Good Law?

If you were to make a list, writing down the first things that occur to you if you answer that question, do you suppose you would include “Transparency, oversight, ways to control the authorities so they don’t abuse their powers,” and so on?

Would you be interested in accountability? Shouldn’t the authors of laws be identified, so the voters know who had the ideas that are to become law?

Well, here is what we have, thanks to the frantic rush to pass a bill so big literally no one read it:

The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.

In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” (Emphasis added.)

This stinks. It’s politicians setting up a Star Chamber for their opponents and guarantee of immunity from exposure and prosecution for themselves. “Bang, you’re dead, and I’ve got King’s X!” What a heaven-sent opportunity for the rascals….

If you read more about RAT, you will probably want to know who is responsible for it. Once again, you lose.

Snuck in by whom? It’s not entirely clear. “I intend to get down to the bottom of where this comes from,” Iowa Republican Senator) Grassley vowed. “And quite frankly, it better not come from this administration, because this administration has reminded us that it is not about business as usual, that it is for total transparency.”

Maybe not this time. When I inquired with the office of a Democratic senator, one who is a big fan of inspectors general, I was told the RAT Board was “something the Obama administration wanted included in this bill.” When I asked the White House, staffers told me they’d look into it. So for now, at least, there’s been no claim of paternity.

No wonder. RAT is an obvious attempt to politicize the oversight process that is supposed to militate against improprieties and corruption.

What are we to call this, now that we are in the Age of The One? Call it hope, call it change, call it socialism. Whatever you call it, it looks a lot like traditional Chicago politics.

The result: honeymoon? What honeymoon? Obama may be the first new occupant of the White House to be deprived of the tradition.

Usually the nation gives the winner time to unpack, appoint some people, and get his band playing together in the same key. Not this time, however, as the major media are starting to tell us. The causes of the nagging and scolding seem to be Obama’s clumsy miscues. Here are some examples of discontent and impatience: this is the first one, then there’s a second, and finally we have yet a third. Oh, my.

Incompetence, Bad Consequences, Weasel Words

Pretend just for a minute. Pretend that a nuclear explosion has destroyed a small city in Colorado — a city that was near a military base where atomic bombs were stored. Now consider the press release the Pentagon would issue, and imagine how you would feel if it read like this:

The chain reaction was caused by trigger creep. Trigger creep is a deterioration of materials that causes the trigger of the device to degrade and become unstable. Trigger creep, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality-control measures prior to certifying the devices for continued storage.Although we believe that triggers in storage since early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check.

Got that? The sections in bold will become important in a minute. Now consider an actual news story that includes this passage:

A glitch in satellite sensors caused scientists to underestimate the extent of Arctic sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), a California- size area….

That means that the government has been telling us that polar ice has melted, when in fact it has not.

Here is what the USNSIDC has to say about its recent blunder:

Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality-control measures prior to archiving the data, the center said. Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check.

Compare the sections in bold.

Yes, a nuclear explosion is a very big deal — seismic, beyond contemplation. Climate change is not chopped liver, though. And if it’s anthropogenic global warming (AGW) we are talking about, it’s a deal that, according to those who believe in AGW, is one heck of a lot bigger than a single nuclear explosion that kills only a million or so people.

If you think the data regarding the polar ice are not extremely important, you grasp neither the truth of the matter nor its implications.

Begin with the simple stuff. Notice that the correction of the bad data was made possible not because the scientists noticed something very obvious was all wrong, but because some folks outside the agency looked, could not believe their eyes, and asked what was going on. It does not get more embarrassing. Ice the size of California, present but somehow believed melted? Explain all you want, you can’t excuse that.

Next, the implications. Polar ice measurements are being used to promote the greatest hoax in the history of science, AGW. We have already seen deceit and fraud employed by the AGW cult in its struggle with science. Al Gore claimed that carbon dioxide levels drive global temperature up and down (they don’t), the hockey-stick graph hoax was fabricated and then debunked, and fake data were produced to show recent temperatures trending up. All of this has been documented in detail in past numbers of the PenPo.

Now we have this tacit admission of incompetence by an outfit called the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Fake data and bad science are in the service of charlatans who are using the AGW myth to advance an irrational agenda. The rascals are promoting political and legal changes that would have a tremendous impact on the world’s economy. In the USA, President Obama is said to be considering declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant that must be severely regulated; that is a scientifically ignorant proposal so easily refuted that one must wonder whether Obama believes it, or is employing it as a pretext to consolidate the power of the state over a free economy.

Hysteria-mongers are trying to terrorize the public with lies and predictions of impending disaster. Their activities are not just scientifically dishonest; they are attacks on democracy. Once political and economic power have been taken from the local, state and national governments, it will be virtually impossible to reverse the burglary.

No, the blunders in the estimation of polar ice are not trivial, or even of moderate importance.

Finally, consider these questions: how willing would you be to accept without rancor the hypothetical statement (above) of the Pentagon regarding that imaginary nuclear disaster? Would you be justified in calling for a major overhaul and reform of the Pentagon before that department was permitted to carry on as the custodian of nuclear weapons? Of course! Anything less would be irresponsible.

Well, so what? The bungling ice-and-snow-measuring outfit says that the facts don’t matter — missing a hunk of ice the size of California is of no consequence, so we should forget about it. “The recent error doesn’t change findings that Arctic ice is retreating, the NSIDC said.”

Oh. Well, that is confidence-inspiring. We have the incompetent agency’s word that the retreat of polar ice is a fact. Great; we feel so much better now.

And, thanks to a campaign of lies, hoaxes and junk science, we all know that if the ice is retreating, mankind is certainly responsible.

Theologians used to brood over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Today we might well wonder how many inanities can dance in the head of a person.

The President Can Assert Himself If He Wants To, But A Matter Of Political Principle Is Involved. That Means You Can’t Know Which Way To Bet

Who is running the country, Pelosi or Obama? The “stimulus” package says Pelosi, but maybe, just maybe, the “fairness doctrine” will be the president’s decision.

Why? Because Obama authorized Ben LaBolt to say that the fairness doctrine is not on the White House’s list of approved bills. Will The One tell Nan-Nan to shelve her authoritarian plans? It could happen.

This newsletter continues to worry, however. First, note this paragraph in the story linked here:

…a report in the American Spectator this week said aides to Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, Calif., met last week with staff for the Federal Communications Commission to discuss ways to enact Fairness Doctrine policies. The report said Waxman was also interested in applying those standards to the Internet, which drew ridicule from supporters and opponents of the doctrine.

Both the FCC and Waxman’s office denied the report.

Have you started automatically believing all denials issued by federal offices and Congressmen?

Second, recall that while campaigning, The One took so many contradictory positions on firearms control and the second amendment that it was impossible to say what his policy would be. Some of his statements were much too lawyerly to be convincing. At times, Obama sounded a bit like Slick Willy, and that’s not good (see PenPo 29, item headlined, “It’s a matter of credibility….” for plenty of evidence).

Here are some recent developments in the effort to clip the wings of Obama’s radio critics.

Speaking of Ol’ Slick, he has come down solidly for the fairness doctrine. That puts the Arkansas Swordsman in company with every Democrat this newsletter has seen quoted on the issue (yes, some reports must have been overlooked here). Yeah, Slick knows all about Fairness.

The Beginning Of A Sea Change — Or The Last Bleat Of The Lambs?

Is this true?

…people have smelled leadership failure already and voted with their money; they’re selling off everything related to the financial systems he’s trying to preserve in the hard-to-dispute belief that he’s going to bankrupt them in spite of anything else he might say or believe.

That’s incredibly bad news, whether there really is leadership failure or not. Source.

Meanwhile, talk is getting a bit rough on some weblogs, and it’s this newsletter’s guess that the rising ire reflects rather than incites the thoughts of the electorate.

There is evidence that otherwise apolitical people are upset. Here’s information on the tea party movement; here’s the Facebook page for the group. Some groups are targeting members of Congress. Photos here.

What will happen next? The PenPo fearlessly predicts that Judas Goats will appear, and lo, they will address the multitudes. They will be eloquent, angry, and frustrated. They will pour forth wisdom, and they will correct the errors in thinking that have rippled across the surface of the incompletely-organized community. They will say things like this…

We are in a mess, here, and some people don’t understand that. They think that this is not the time for strong measures and corrective action; what do they want us to do, sit on our hands? We were not elected to do nothing!! And thanks to the good offices of the leadership of Congress, and in spite of the stubborn Do-Nothing Republicans, we have done something that will eventually provide the help needed to get us out of this quag-, er, difficulty.

You can’t do nothing when it is time to spend money. Think of the people who will be thrown out of work; think of the babies that will suffer because their loving parents can’t provide adequately for them. Oh, the humanity!!

Now look away from that pathetic scene of deprivation and desperation, and raise your eyes up, up, to the part of town where you can’t live. Think of the people who have so much money they literally don’t know what to do with it all — those fatcats, sitting in their mansions, smoking illegal cigars and making jokes about the people of color and the people who speak foreign languages, laughing at them because they did not go to the right prep schools and join Skull and Bones.

They have the money! Don’t forget that! And they got us into this mess! They are all Republicans, and do you think they would so much as lift a finger to save the life of a starving baby?

Well, let me tell you, we can’t tell those fatcats what to do. We can’t change them — but we sure do have plans for them, and I’ll tell you about that in due time.

Right now is the time, however, to roll up our sleeves, get organized, and do something. And you know what else?

This is not the time to protest and complain. This is not the time to spread rumors. Patriots don’t have loose lips. This is not the time to object that we are spending more than the New Deal did, and that did not work. Those who stand in our way oppose prosperity and the good of the nation, so they must move aside! The true patriot will realize that WE WON, and we are the voice of the people! We speak for the great majority, and we have the mandate! Let those who protest know that from this time forward, we will go anywhere, do anything, to end the misery of the masses!!

To the fatcats and the naysayers and the spreaders of dissent and racist contempt for this administration, I say: stand down and be silent, you snakes in the grass!! Get thee behind us!! You are the enemies of your own nation, and I promise you this: with the help of good citizens who know when to talk and when to organize, you shall not prevail!!

Because…and you better not forget this, or you will certainly live to regret your error, you negative do-nothings, you critics and naysayers…because WE WON !! You know what that means?? We are from Chicago, Baby, and you better…you just better…well, you better, that’s all!

Links For Your Edification And Entertainment

The PenPo explains it all to you: today you gain insight into why President Obama took the US census bureau away from Commerce. It’s those wonderful words that a crooked politician loves to read, “…the enumeration (can)…be altered by statistical sampling.” Now that’show you organize a community!

Let’s think about press bias. Start thinking by reading this. … Finished? OK, good. What do you think now?

You are a journalist. Your job at the paper is, well, not exactly locked in place. Management might start staff reductions. Better bail outbefore the plane catches fire. And whom do you want to work for? Why, for someone who appreciates your efforts, maybe even owes you, in a way…. Yep, it’s one way to make your politics pay. One hand washes the other, right? — No, no, it’s not any more unethical than the way you crafted your coverage of the campaign.

The White House will have to be a little more careful. There’s a new way to detect and document changes on a web page, and it will make greater candor essential.

Wheels within wheels…and the truth hides in plain sight. Stunning stuff from one of the PenPo’s favorite reporters.

From The Archive

This excerpt is from The Terrapin Gazette, Number Nineteen, February 9, 2005. It is followed by a recent post script.

Bill Moyers

It seems to me that I wrote something about Moyers quite a while ago, but I have not been able to locate it. In any case, he’s in the news, and if I were Moyers, I’d not be happy about that — not even a little bit.

You may recall my nasty remarks about Uncle Walter Cronkite, and of course I have done my best to dismember the disreputable Dan Rather. Moyers, however, may have been even more dangerous to the truth down through the years than Cronkite or Rather. Certainly his smooth, gentle voice and prudent manner have gulled millions into thinking he is fair and unbiased. His public speaking skills, in other words, have made him one of the most effective propagandists in the media.

Here’s the latest on Moyers and his adventures.

Yes, you are correct, that is indeed a damning post. (What?? You did not read it?? I’m shocked! Go back and read it, at once, do you hear?)

Moyers is used to getting away with his nonsense, but now the webloggers have a grip on his ankle, and it won’t be easy to shake them loose. Michelle Malkin is particularly determined to expose Moyers’s history to the world; she provides us with two essential sources. Read this one first…and then follow that up with this.

That’s a One – Two punch that has all the more impact because the second blow comes as a followup after Moyers responded to the first blow. Pitted against quotes from his remarks in the past and some very intelligent analysis and commentary, Moyers is simply outclassed.

If you ever liked Moyers’s style — I know I did — you need to follow the links above.

Post script, February 24, 2009:

Moyers Today

Two recent posts on the internet chronicle a bit more in the colorful career of one of the most successful video political personalities ever. Moyers has managed to give more ideological massages to “progressives” than anyone in television, unless you count the entire staff of the BBC. Here’s what the Southern gentleman has been down to lately — first post, from which we get this enticing quote —

Moyers and J. Edgar Hoover worked together to illegally bug Martin Luther King jr. as well as leak unflattering information about political enemies to the press.

–and then the second post provides this gem:

The more we learn about Bill Moyers, the more we see how much his political affiliation defined his life. He would do anything to destroy a rival politician, even root around to see if that man had gay staffers, seeking to use those staffers’ sexuality against their Republican employer.

Yes, it’s true that this archived bit of the TG and its post script do require you to do some clicking and reading off the internet. But isn’t it worth it, to get a good look at a facet of a TV personality who has tried to keep that side of his ego hidden? Very few reporters like being reported on, and ideological bullies like Moyers hate it. Why that would be is a question always worth asking. If we knew more about those we tacitly trust to bring us the facts and explain them to us…well, perhaps the facts would come to us in such good hands that newspapers and TV news would not be wondering how they are going to prosper in the next few years.

You never know. Stranger things have happened.