Monday, May 25, 2009



... We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced...

Abraham Lincoln, from the Gettysburg Address...


From Cox and Forkum.


Of the prisoners that have already been released from Guantanamo Bay, that's the percentage that are known to have returned to terrorism:
The U.S. has revealed, via a leaked report, that 14 percent of the 534 terrorism suspects released from Guantanamo have returned to terrorist activities. This was not a big surprise, except for the extent of the recidivism.
Comforting, isn't it? Fourteen percent of 534 is 75 – that's at least 75 committed terrorists back on the streets. I wonder who they're eager to exact some revenge from?

It's one of the many challenges posed by the war on terror. Instead of fighting a nation (or an alliance of nations), we're fighting an amorphous group that doesn't wear a uniform. The usual rules for dealing with prisoners of war don't really work – there's no country to repatriate these men to (and many of them have no country that will accept them), and no good way to tell when the war is over. It's repugnant to our sense of fair play just to imprison them indefinitely, yet releasing them is unacceptably risky. Those prisoners that have been released are those thought to be the least dangerous – making the release of any more even less conceivable.

Many Congressmen (even many Democrats) think it ill-advised to remand these men to the U.S. prisons and court system. Why? For this very simple reason: the U.S. courts will not allow indefinite incarceration without charges and conviction. If the prosecutors cannot bring a case, then the courts will order these men released – not because the judges are evil, but because the laws they are sworn to uphold require them to.

So what can be done, if repatriation, release, and transfer to U.S. courts are not acceptable? I've only heard two other courses of action put forth: (1) indefinite incarceration outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts (such as Guantanano Bay), or (2) summary execution. I'm a proponent of (1). There are many proponents of (2), though none to my knowledge in national political office.

Obama had a bad problem until his recent very clever maneuver. During his campaign, he repeatedly promised to close Guantanamo Bay and end indefinite detainment. Now that he's in office, that's something he clearly cannot afford to do, politically. But he also can't be seen to be reneging on his campaign promise. So what does he do? He arranges for the Democratic leadership in Congress to stonewall his request for money to shut down Guantanamo. This is win-win for the Democrats – for the Democratic Congressmen would definitely have problems with their electorate should they vote to bring the detainees back to the U.S., and now Obama gets to stand up and proclaim his desire to shut down Guantanamo Bay while regretting that he can't get his request approved by a Congress controlled by his own party.

Slick, that Barack fellow...

North Korea's at it Again...

North Korea has exploded a second nuclear warhead, this time much larger than the previous one (and roughly equivalent to Trinity, the first test done by the U.S. in World War II). This test simply reconfirms (for the umpteenth time) the intransigence of the North Korean regime and the utter futility of the past decade's worth of negotiations, deals, and other elements of diplomacy. From the Wall Street Journal's article:

President Barack Obama, in a statement, called the action a "matter of grave concern to all nations" and said North Korea was undermining stability in northeast Asia. "It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery," he said.

The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon New York time to discuss the North's actions.

But it's unclear whether the U.S. and others will be able to muster a response strong enough to move Pyongyang from its stated goal of becoming recognized as a nuclear-weapons state.

Surely I'm not the only one to whom these diplomatic maneuvers seem like some kind of a comedy routine. At the very least, I'm certain the North Korean regime shares my view – they've been spectacularly successful at manipulating the world's diplomats and the U.N., reaping all sorts of goodies for themselves along the way. They must be rolling in the aisles in Pyongyang, clutching their bellies in pain from their howls of laughter at the unbelievably stupid democratic nations of the world.

Somehow I don't think Obama's statement has them even slightly worried, much less considering adjusting their strategic course:

North Korea's nuclear ballistic missile programs pose a great threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action. North Korea's actions endanger the people of Northeast Asia, they are a blatant violation of international law, and they contradict North Korea's own prior commitments.

Now, the United States and the international community must take action in response. The record is clear: North Korea has previously committed to abandoning its nuclear program. Instead of following through on that commitment it has chosen to ignore that commitment. These actions have also flown in the face of United Nations resolutions. As a result North Korea is not only deepening its own isolation, it's also inviting stronger international pressure -- that's evident overnight, as Russia and China, as well a our traditional allies of South Korea and Japan, have all come to the same conclusion: North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons.

We will work with our friends and our allies to stand up to this behavior and we will redouble our efforts toward a more robust international nonproliferation regime that all countries have responsibilities to meet.
In this effort the United States will never waiver from our determination to protect our people and the peace and security of the world.
Not exactly shiver-inducing rhetoric, that.

I'd suggest something slightly more direct, such as:
Either you shut down your nuclear weapons facilities and open them for international verification inspections, or we will start bombing what little viable infrastructure you have. Our bombing objective will be to cause as much pain to the ruling regime as possible. Oh, and that smoking crater where your television studios used to be? That was just to demonstrate our capability.
I can dream, can't I?

They Don't Even Seem to Notice...

Many times when I'm reading recent climatology research, I'll run across a statement that immediately strikes me as contraindicating anthropomorphic (i.e., human-caused) global warming – but somehow the climatologists just ignore it. In an article I read this morning, it happened again:

For example, during the 'Holocene thermal maximum,' the warmest period of the past 10,000 years, the Arctic average temperature was two to three degrees warmer than it is today, while the global average was only a degree or so warmer.

"But based on lake sediments from Baffin Island, our data show that this area of the Arctic experienced temperatures five degrees warmer than today," said Briner.

Let's see now. One thing they neglect to mention above is that the Holocene maximum was a 4,000 year long period, starting 9,000 years ago. So what they're saying is that for almost half of the past 10,000 years, the Arctic temperatures were about 5°C (9°F) warmer than they are today. I don't think those higher temperatures back then were caused by SUVs and private jets!

There's a consistent pattern amongst these research reports that just doesn't add up:
  1. Climatologists doing actual research (as opposed to bulding computer models) consistently find historical data indicating that (a) the Earth's climate has broad long-term natural swings, not caused by human activity, (b) the Earth's climate has smaller short-term swings that correlate well with the sun spot count, and (c) patterns of climate change that don't jibe with the patterns found in the models.
  2. Climatologists “back-testing” computer climate models consistently find that the models don't match reality. In back-testing, the researchers take data from some past period (say, 2,000 years ago), feed it into the model, and check to see if the model successfully predicts what happened afterward. If the model did succeed in such predictions, you'd have some reason to believe that by feeding in today's data you could predict what will happen down the road. It's the gold standard used for testing all models that have the ambition to predict the future. Nobody has built a climate model yet that survives back-testing.
  3. Climatologists building computer climate models consistently throw out (or arbitrarily “adjust”) data that doesn't produce the results they believe are correct. The two glaring examples I know of are (a) tossing out satellite based atmospheric temperature measurements, and (b) adjusting historical temperature records before feeding them into their models.
How on earth can these scientists make statements like the one I highlighted above, and yet go on propounding the notion of impending climate doom caused by anthropomorphic global warming?

I just don't get it...