The failure of Al Gore and "why the global green movement has tanked"

Part I from Walter Russell Mead
objects of great value (Nobel prizes, Oscars) turn dull and leaden at [Al Gore's] touch. . . .

[his recent essay in Rolling Stone] illuminates his shortcomings more than his strengths and makes crystal clear that if global climate policy is going to change, then Al Gore must get out of the way. . . .

[Gore] speaks, he writes, he speaks again, and the [climate change] movement lies on the ground, crippled and inert.

A fawning establishment press spares the former vice president the vitriol and schadenfreude it pours over the preachers and priests whose personal conduct compromised the core tenets of their mission; Gore is not mocked as others have been. This gentle treatment hurts both Gore and the greens; he does not know just how disabling, how crippling the gap between conduct and message truly is. The greens do not know that his presence as the visible head of the movement helps ensure its political failure. . . .

I am not one of those who thinks him a hypocrite; I think rather that he shares an illusion common amongst the narcissistic glitterati of our time: that politically fashionable virtue cancels private vice. . . .

If Al Gore really wants to understand why the global green movement has tanked, he should start by taking a long hard look in the mirror.


Dr. Helen on the Thomas Ball case: "The war against men and boys continues"

Helen Smith, writing at Pajamas Media:
when a woman burns her husband to death in his sleep, it’s seen as a major wake-up call regarding violence against women, and is immortalized in . . . The Burning Bed.

But somehow, when a man like Thomas Ball burns himself up, it is not seen as a wake-up call for how men are treated unjustly by the court system. Instead, some “compassionate souls” see his death as yet another wake-up call regarding the needs of women. . . .

Ball’s death — and the reaction to it — should serve as a wake-up call to how men and boys are being treated in a society that devalues their very existence. Males commit suicide at much higher rates than women and no one cares; they are treated unfairly by courts and no one bats an eye. . . . So they . . . start setting themselves on fire to get some attention to their cause and, once again, the media and society react with: “So what?”
Well done, Dr. Helen.


The "Weiner Test"

William Jacobson invents and applies it.

"David Carr" and "low-sloping foreheads": forever linked?

[UPDATE: If you ever lived in Missouri or Kansas, please join the Sloping Foreheads Facebook group and get started mocking David Carr.]

Before this weekend, I had never hear of David Carr. Then I saw the video of him on Bill Maher's show, uttering the most condescending arrogant slur on Middle-America that I've ever heard.

Is this David Carr's 15 minutes? Will he have a one-line obtuary that ends with "low sloping foreheads?"

Bloggers, let's make it so.

Every time you write his name, add these words: "the guy who said 'low-sloping foreheads.' "

Maybe soon we can write it this way: "the former NY Times reporter who said 'low-sloping foreheads.' " David Carr should be fired. Pinch Sulzberger, are you listening?


California may soon reap the benefits of redistricting reform

Ben Pershing, the In Session columnist at the Post, wrote an excellent article today. The effects of gerrymandering have been severe and pernicious in many places, but especially in California
In addition to having the nation’s largest economy and population, California boasts some of the most exquisitely gerrymandered maps in the land. At both the federal and the state levels, the same lawmakers have been reelected cycle after cycle in districts drawn with the goal of protecting incumbents, regardless of party.

In 2010, voters got fed up and passed a ballot initiative — Proposition 20 — to take control of congressional redistricting away from the state legislature and hand it to an unelected commission. That body has now presented its first draft of a congressional map that sent shock waves through the state, drawing several members out of their current districts and into potential fights with other lawmakers.

“That’s what the people wanted,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.). “They wanted a redistricting that ignored the protection of incumbents.”

The people of Maryland are no different. They want the same thing. We have two of the worst gerrymandered congressional districts in the country. If the politicians who control redistricting here don't listen and fix those districts this year, they risk getting punished at the ballot box.
Particularly at the state legislative level, many residents blame gerrymandering for much of the dysfunction in Sacramento. Republicans hail from primarily conservative districts, Democrats represent mostly liberal districts, and no one has much incentive to compromise.
I wish more reporters and more citizens would connect the dots this way.

Gerrymandering is one of the key root causes of the hubris and dysfunction that we see in Congress today. Do you think Anthony Weiner would have sex-tweeted so brazenly if he had been in a balanced district with strong Republican opposition breathing down his neck?

Me neither.

Thank you Ben! Please keep following this story.


My dad failed a Rorschach test, but he turned out pretty well

I was thinking about my father when I woke up today. He wasn't a talker or a storyteller, so to understand him you had to watch what he did and listen carefully when he happened to say something.

When he talked, his tone didn't vary much. It was the words that mattered. He knew what they meant and used them precisely. (He spoke to a doctor once about getting some back pain while lying "prone." The doc, realizing that many people use the word incorrectly, said "So you were on your back?" Dad, mildly irritated, responded, "If I had meant that I would have said supine.")

After meeting someone he liked, Dad would often report back that the person was "cheerful."

He was a cheerful person himself -- I don't recall ever seeing him get really angry -- but since he wasn't expressive, many didn't understand how cheerful he was.

His yardstick in life was doing "useful" things.

By that measure he was wildly successful. In fact, he never really stopped. He was a perpetual motion useful-thing-doer. I didn't really consider this until one of my sister's boyfriends pointed it out. He wouldn't sit still for TV except one show, "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

In spite of all his output, many people didn't really "get" that he was doing so many useful things. He never bragged. My uncle used to say that when Dad described his role in a successful project, you had to multiply by four, or maybe ten.

In fact, many people who didn't know him well thought him incapable of doing useful things.

He participated in a psychological study for many decades. Every few years he would fill out a questionnaire and at longer intervals get interviewed by psychiatrists. When Dad was in his early twenties, they described him this way:
  • Rorschach responses are "rather inferior."
  • Has a "fundamental lack of ability to establish rapport with his fellow man."
  • Apparently does not have any creativity and would "work better under direction."
  • It's a good thing that he's going into research "in view of how little he could offer to teaching."
Funny thing, he went into teaching and did it for 40 or 50 years. By most accounts he was pretty good at it. His publication list is long and impressive, as is the roster of PhD chemists that he advised.

When dad was in his sixties or seventies, the folks running the study suddenly discovered this about him: "few men in the study met the criteria for successful aging with as close to a perfect score."

So, that was my dad.

In his honor on Father's Day today I have two goals. Be cheerful and do something useful.


' Spreading the wealth' Obama-style: a progress report

During the campaign, candidate Obama said "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Ken Lawton points out that things aren't going according to plan: the flow is (unexpectedly!) going in the opposite direction from what Obama intended:
'Misery Index' Up 62 % Since Obama Took Office while Pelosi’s wealth grows by 62 %.
Eerily symmetrical. The people lose and Pelosi wins.

This is not spreading wealth from rich to poor; it's funneling wealth from the the poor to a tiny subset of the rich: the political elite. Someone tell Joe the Plumber! [Warning: strong language from Penn & Teller, NSFW.]


Three-time losers: public employee unions just lost in the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Glenn Reynolds sums things up:
So to be clear: They lost in the legislature. They lost in a judicial special election, where union organization should have been decisive. And they lost in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And in the meantime, they made themselves look like thugs — and, worse, not very scary ones, really, just kind of nasty and pathetic ones — even going so far as to disrupt an award ceremony for Special Olympics kids. So: Losers. If they can’t win in Wisconsin, where can they win?

Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski vote to continue ethanol subsidies that hurt the environment, raise food prices and warp energy policy

Here are their votes yesterday on Tom Coburn's amendment #436 to Senate bill S782, The Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011.

Cardin and Mikulski talk the talk about cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay -- without accomplishing much -- but don't seem to care about the enormous nitrogen/nutrient damage that subsidized corn crops in the Midwest do to the Gulf of Mexico.

Not to mention the economic damage -- read harm to the poor -- caused by ethanol subsidies, including rising food prices.
A World Bank policy research working paper concluded that food prices have risen by 35 to 40 percent between 2002–2008, of which 70 to 75 percent is atributable to to biofuels [like corn-based ethanol].


Are we addicted to oil?

The Munchkin Wrangler thinks that's the wrong question:
You know what I can’t stand to hear about anymore? That we Americans are addicted to oil. It’s a smarmy term that tries to couch an economic and environmental argument in pathological terms.
. . .
It does nobody any good to try and debate economic and logistical necessities while using terminology to imply people who disagree with your view are mentally ill.

I think he's right.

Via Glenn.


After a week or so of so many people dumping on Sarah Palin for her version of Paul Revere's ride...

I ran across this book in the store the other day: History's Greatest Lies, by William Weir. Here's a bit from page 126:

[Revere] warned [the British who had captured him] that the country was rising, and if they continued on they would be dead men. As they rode on, the officers heard the rattle of drums, the clanging of church bells, the booms of signal guns, and the glow of beacon fires. These alarming noises and sights came from their front and their rear. More guns, more bells, and more drums. The British grew nervous. Finally, they released Revere…

Palin recounted her version in a goofy, stilted manner. But the gist of what she said is almost exactly what's in this paragraph.

I didn't vote for Palin, partly because she couldn't handle softball questions from Katie Couric. She has her strengths and weaknesses and may be ignorant in some areas, but she's not stupid. If you take it from a multiple intelligences perspective, I'd say she normal in some areas and way above average in others.

There's something seriously wrong with the people who ridicule her so viciously and seem to hate her.

FWIW, Weir's book gets 4 stars on Amazon and mixed reviews.

Ingrich-gay's campaign implodes

Well, good. First Ump-tray and Uckabee-hay. Now NG is toast. Most of the unserious candidates are pretty much done now.

Newt has good ideas from time to time, but I don't think he'd make a good president.