J-G Opinion Journalism Goes Awry Again

A feature column known as "Furthermore ..." appears on the Opinion page of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. In the November 29 paper, the following item was printed:

Climate change paper rife with plagiarized copy

Apparently some people who disagree global warming is happening also disagree with doing their own work.

An investigation by USA Today found a 2006 congressional report frequently referenced by climate change deniers was rife with plagiarism. Analysis of the report, which questioned the validity of global warming, found it liberally lifted material for textbooks, Wikipedia and the work of one the scientists critiqued by the report.

Edward Wegman, a statistician at George Mason University, led the report challenging scientific findings that the last century was the warmest in 1,000 years.

“It kind of undermines the credibility of your work criticizing others’ integrity when you don’t conform to the basic rules of scholarship,” said Virginia Tech plagiarism expert Skip Garner.

Review of the report found 35 pages of the 91-page report “are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning.”

The faulty report has become a popular tool to dispute global warming and discredit climate scientists.
Source: Watts Up With That
Posting at the WUWT blog, Thomas Fuller makes some important observations that escaped the bias of the J-G whiz kids.

First of all, the report was on the subject of the Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph that pointed temperatures skyward after a history of no supposed temperature increases. This graph was famously debunked back in 2005 by scientists Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitricks.

Second of all, climatologist Michael Mann, now on faculty at the University of Virginia, who was deeply involved the East Anglia University Climategate scandal, admitted on emails that the "hockey stick" was designed to "Hide the Decline" of temperatures in the new millennium.

Finally , Edward Wegman, a George Mason University statistician, at the behest of Congressman Joe Barton, headed a team that assembled a white paper on the subject of Mann's hockey stick graph.  That report is here.

Although Wegman has denied the charges leveled by retired computer scientist John Mashey that he committed plagiarism, the J-G kind of missed that part as well.
"I will say that there is a lot of speculation and conspiracy theory in John Mashey's analysis which is simply not true," Wegman said.

"We are not the bad guys. … . We have never intended that our Congressional testimony was intended to take intellectual credit" for other scholars' work.

Wegman said he and his report co-authors felt "some pressure" from a House committee to complete the report "faster than we might like." But he denied that there was any attempt to tilt the influential climate report politically.

He said the committee "wanted our opinion as to the correctness of the mathematics" used in two climate studies.

"They wanted the truth as we saw it," Wegman said.
Plagiarism is a serious charge and GMU acted appropriately in beginning an investigation of the congressional report. Interestingly, when Michael Mann's name came up in the Climategate emails, UVA refused to open a full scale probe into charges of inappropriate behavior. Now the Virginia Attorney General's office has begun such an inquiry.  You know, it is amazing to behold how, in academia, liberals always get a pass when liberals are in charge of the chicken coop.

The American Left

In 2008, Daniel J, Flynn had his remarkable book, A Conservative History of the American Left, published. In essence, Flynn observed that the factions of the American Left have failed to define leftism, so he, the conservative, would venture where no leftists have gone. The extraction below comes from the Conclusion  chapter in the book.

What is that has been? The same thing that shall be. What is it that hath been done? The same thing that shall be done. Nothing under the sun is new neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new. For it hath already gone before the ages that were before us. There is no remembrance of former things; nor indeed of those things which hereafter are to come, shall there be any remembrance with them that shall be in the latter end. ~ECCLESIASTES 1:9-11
In dreams, long-dead relatives speak; anthropomorphic animals dispense wisdom, money rains from the sky, and comely actresses demand sex. In socialism, men work without incentive, loyalty to the human family trumps loyalty to the nuclear family, a few social engineers manage the production and consumption of millions, men evolve into angels, and heaven arrives on earth. In life, one who confuses dreams from reality is regarded as crazy. In politics, one who confuses dreams for reality is called an idealist. It is terribly destructive to romanticize political romantics who cannot discern fantasy from fact. Politics, the art of the possible, becomes the captive of the impossible when visionaries and utopians encroach upon the concrete.
This is . . . more about dream than about reality. Even when reformers institute the radical’s wish list, the radical remains unsatisfied. For the dream was never simply, say, state controls over the economy, marginalization of traditional religion, or the erosion of marriage; but rather the complete equality, brotherhood of man, unity of interest, whistle-while-you-work, and human perfection that was supposed to come from the attainment of these aims. It is an article of faith on the Left that B follows from A.

But B has never followed A. Setbacks cause enthusiasts to repackage but never to reassess; to question tactics but never strategy; to alter the means but not the ends. The failure in practice does not kill the idea because ideas exist in minds, where images are cheerful laborers; sharing world peace, human brotherhood, and the like trump firsthand witness that radical ideas cannot produce any such thing, and in fact produce the opposite. Concrete failures are not catastrophic for people who live in their imaginations. The ideas never failed, the idealist stubbornly maintains, because the ideas have never been tried. This befuddles the realist. Why, the realist wonders, does the idealist react so unrealistically? The realist, in other words, wishes to make a realist out of an idealist, which itself is a form of idealism. The idealist operates on the imaginary plane; the realist operates on the actual plane; and never the twain shall meet. [. . . ]

Leftists dream. But what, concretely, do leftists presently believe? For true believers who have spent their years of their lives fighting for the Left, explaining what they believe is not an easy matter. This is because the left is based less on a set of concrete policy prescriptions than it is on an abstraction – that beautiful, powerful, enduring dream; that millennial vision the world after the Left’s program has been instituted.

At an International ANSWER-sponsored anti-war event in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2005, I looked for answers among self-identified leftists. Jeff Edwards, a Chicago gay rights activist, defines the Left as a "commitment to human freedom and equality and social justice" "The Left represents the real interests of the people both home and abroad"  offered self-described ‘extreme leftist’ Brewer Dohithik, "and tries to express that in terms of making social change that will benefit those real interests." Gail Ruddi, who traveled to Washington, D.C. from Chapel Hill and to the Democrats from the Republicans, declares: "I think we stand for more economic justice, more social justice." Freedom? Social Justice? Real interests? Equality? Change? What does any of this mean? And if the Left merely supports platitudes, why are so many people against the Left?

One activist tried attempted to define the Left thusly: "You know, like, I guess it’s, I would hope that it would be you know, you know . . . I wish I was [sic] more coherent.” The movement’s “Jimmy Higginses” offered vagueness and incoherence. Its articulate stars got more specific. Their answers, diverse and occasionally contradictory, offer scant edification.

For Michael Newdow, the litigant seeking the removal of “under God” from the pledge of allegiance, the core idea is “equality.” For Steve Max it is “anti-capitalist;” for Dick Flacks “participatory democracy;” and for Tom Hayden “an experimental approach to social change coupled with an effort to define and challenge the system as a whole.” Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink, explains that “progressives” (the term she opts for) believe “that we should be working toward a greater equality globally; health care and education should be basic rights; and we should build our societies, our economies, and around those basic rights; and I would add that a progressive is one who really cherishes the planet that we live on and wants to see it preserved.” “I think a leftist believes that elites don’t have the right to run other people’s lives” recovering Weatherman Mark Rudd explains, “that people can make the important decisions in their lives for themselves.”

It is probably SDS founding father Al Haber’s motivating notion – “What is the other society that is possible?”–that offers most in terms of a unifying idea. Leftists seek change even though individual leftists disagree on what changes they want. The other society that is possible, of course, has unbounded riches and ample time for sleep and leisure. It has no unemployment, crime, racism, sexism, or pollution. It produces Shakespeares, Michelangelos, and Jesse Owenses with regularity. It is preferable to America in every way but one; it does not exist. If you constantly made fantasyland your regular comparison to the society that you lived in, you too, might devise a million schemes to reform and reflexively what exists wanting. And you might scheme and critique impervious to this fact: If man can improve things, he can make it worse, too.

The American Left’s history-ignored, whitewashed, or obscured - offers examples of perfectors of society making imperfect society even less perfect. That past, along with its present, offers clues to the Left’s future. . . . When the past does not serve as a reference point, it is usually the mythology-as-history of left-wing martyrs or the projection as history that imposes present needs over past realities. The Left’s present relegates its past to the past.

Always starting anew, never operating from experience, the Left condemns itself to replicating its mistakes, its tragedies, its failures. Its past is not a roadmap to consult in confusing times, but a relic to be hidden away. Who wants to explain away the na├»ve enthusiasm for Graham bread, phrenology, the water-cure, eugenics, Stalin, the orgone energy accumulator, or LSD? Does it not feel better to instead foretell of the human brotherhood, heaven on earth, and the perfection of mankind that will certainly follow if only everyone embraces the latest leftist panacea? Always look forward when looking back embarrasses. “Nobody learns, “reflects former SDS president Carl Oglesby. “Nobody learns anything from anybody. All the mistakes that are made have to be made all over again, in a new key, in a new tempo. What can I say? Certain things do change. The events themselves just keep cycling and recycling and cycling all over again.” The ideas are passed with the baton, but the lessons are not.

The amnesiac Left perpetrated an ideology that, by dint of natural selection, should have faded long ago. Paradoxically, forgetfulness has retarded the Left’s evolution. It has denied failure’s gift of wisdom and success’s added blessing of a template. [. . . ]

“What the Hell do we need Marx, Engels, and Lenin for? We have Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, Andy Jackson, Tom Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and F.D.R, “ a disillusioned Communist counseled, ousted Communist chief Earl Browder. “A new Left must be formed in America. But this time it must be an American Left, by Americans, for Americans.” Alas an American left that embraces religion, patriotism, the family, and free enterprise can never truly be an American Left.

"New" GM Stock Offering: Let the Buyer Beware!

On the heels of a conveniently large ($2 billion) quarterly profit, Government Motors is offering 365 million new stock shares expected to sell to the public for over $30 per share on Thursday, November 18.  Under the control of the new majority owners, the US Government and the United Autoworkers Union, GM emerged from bankruptcy last year and began its new accounting under a quasi reorganization concept known as "fresh start accounting."

Although the "concept has little theoretical validity," the Financial Accounting Standards Board theoretically permits the quasi reorganizations under an old research bulletin from 1953.

Cited in the 1991 FASB discussion memorandum (DM), New Basis Accounting, ARB no. 43 reinforced an earlier rule permitting an accounting procedure known as a corporate readjustment--or more commonly, a quasi reorganization.

The FASB DM, which examines situations that may require companies to adopt a new basis for assets and liabilities, says AP-B no. 43 allows the company to "accomplish, in its books of account, substantially what might be accomplished in a reorganization by legal proceedings--that is, elimination of a deficit in retained earnings and establishment of a new basis of accounting for its assets and liabilities." The new basis results from adjusting assets and liabilities to their current fair value.
The very big problem that resulted from "fresh start accounting," according to Jonathan Weil, is that General Motors is no longer Government Motors but has indeed become Goodwill Motors. In order to eliminate negative equity from its books, an offset was made to the intangible Goodwill asset account in the amount of  ... get ready for this ... $30.2 Billion.  To put this into perspective, the revalued tangible assets of listed property, plants and equipment totaled only $18.1 billion.  Without the Goodwill, the equity of GM would have been a negative ($6.2 billion).

The fish smell that surrounds this accounting is offensive but as Tom Selling over at The Accounting Onion  points out:
. . . [T]he one point that I am going focus on is that GM's shareholders' equity at December 31, 2009 would have been a negative $6.2 billion if it were not able to book a whole bunch of goodwill. Even though everyone knows that goodwill is merely, as GM itself puts it, "a residual," it can be a pretty important residual. To say that few companies would be able to pull off a successful IPO [initial public offering of stock] with a negative number for shareholders' equity on its balance sheet would be an understatement. To say the same after applying fresh-start accounting would be a statement of fact.

Negative shareholders' equity is an accounting anomaly. If a balance sheet purports to portray financial position of the shareholders, then  just like a negative share price,  negative shareholders' equity makes no sense. The only possible explanation is that assets and liabilities themselves are out of whack. Who wants to invest in a company, especially after fresh-start accounting is applied, whose assets and liabilities are so obviously out of whack?
So who says that there is reason applied to buying stock?  Early orders are driving the GM offering higher and higher every day.  I am a terrible stock picker but in this case, I think I know a terrible stock when I see it.  So I wonder, if assets are misstated, what about profits?  Can you say "E-N-R-O-N" ?

Trash-Talking TEA Parties

Kip's Law:  "Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

The monument to Soviet central planning was . . . a heap of surplus left boots without any right ones to match them. ~ The Economist

The mid-term elections are over. The liberal Democrats have been vanquished from elected government posts, but the TEA Parties' task of righting the tradition of American freedoms is ever ongoing. A small skirmish erupted in the town of Fountain Hills, AZ, located just south of Phoenix.

In Fountain Hills, it seems, residents were permitted to contract with any private trash hauler that they chose. Restrictions generally provided for the level of service the private haulers must provide but left the decision of picking a hauler and right-pricing service in the hands of the town residents. This was red, white and blue American capitalism at work!

Now enter Town Manager Rick Davis with an apparent predisposition toward big government solutions and possibly influenced by big corporation malarky ultimately designed to stymy competition:
I have to be honest . . . I had not yet served in a city that hosted multiple haulers by resident subscription. This was a new concept to me, In my last community, the city contracted with a hauler to provide trash services. Every five years we went out to bid and awarded the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.
The first encounter was won by liberal-leaning environmentalists on the Town Council but two TEA Party organizations, Fountain Hills Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty Arizona, have already began the process to voicing displeasure to these usurpers of individual rights and freedoms.  But a contract is a contract, so unless the actions of the Town Council can be legally challenged,  the award to Allied Waste Services will have to be honored.  Allied Waste Services is a subsidiary of Republic Services, Inc,  Crooks & Liars tells us that:
Republic Services has a long-standing reputation for spreading around campaign contribution love, particularly with local and state-level campaigns . . .
So the insidiousness of  ever-growing government intrusion is becoming exposed to the light of day.  Contractors and government employee unions have become the means by which elected politicians retain their elite political status, as in: "You scrub my back and I'll scrub yours."

In the new deal with Fountain Hills, Allied Waste reduces its fee from $18 per month to $11 per month in exchange for only picking up trash once per week instead of twice (Such a deal!).  The twice-per-week service was a required level imposed by Fountain Hills government upon all private haulers in the past, but this has now been swept away by fiat.  So the haulers will travel less miles, and get paid  more per mile for making less pickup stops.  How much of a kickback do you suppose is in play here? Sounds like an investigative job for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ... who just happens to live in Fountain Hills.

So the TEA Parties have lost because of the vote of only four out of seven officials that they helped to elect.  What do you expect will happen when the next municipal election is held?

Obama Sees His Reflection

 Is Seeing Believing?

According to Greek mythology, when Narcissus saw his reflection in a pond, he fell in love with his own image; he enjoyed looking at himself so much that he stopped eating and eventually died. Thus, the myth suggests that seeing oneself from the perspective of others increases self-admiration and self-love.

Politico  published a not-very-flattering article today on the unhappiness among key Democrats and even White House staffers on Obama's failure to react appropriately to the drubbing that Democrats took in the mid-term elections.
Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized.

His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse. Obama has suggested it’s a PR problem, but several Democratic officials said CEOs friendly with the president walk away feeling he’s indifferent at best to their concerns. Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

It should be a no-brainer for a humbled Obama to move quickly after Tuesday’s thumping to try to repair these damaged relations, and indeed, in India on Sunday, he acknowledged the need for “midcourse corrections.”

But many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.
Politico's broadside blast follows closely on the heels of an article by Wayne Madsen in Opinion Maker  which indicates that there may be political intrigue afoot.
According to sources close to the White House, who put themselves in great danger by even talking to members of the media, the plans to have Obama leave for a visit to India, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan are an attempt to get Obama out of the country while top Democrats can sort through the political disaster created for the party by Obama's increasingly detached-from-reality presidency. ( . . . )

Vice President Biden, under intense pressure from some Democratic Party officials and Cabinet members to invoke Article 25, Section 4 of the Constitution and have Obama temporarily or permanently removed as president because of his mental incapacity to fulfill his constitutional oath as president, is reluctant to take such drastic action. Biden feels that the country would "become unglued" after such action and he doesn't want to be the one who would be responsible for "picking up the pieces," according to a source who works within Biden's office. (. . . )

Meanwhile, a team of ex-CIA officers are traveling the globe assembling a dossier of documents on Obama's past, including his education, passport, travel, and residency records. The team has scoured Kenya, Indonesia, Pakistan, and other countries collecting documents that are not already mantained in the CIA's own files on Obama's past. There is a possibility, according to WMR's sources, that any "smoking gun" documents may be released while Obama is in Asia in order to elicit a public and, perhaps, irrational enough response from the president to prompt the public to begin raising questions about Obama's suitability for office. Such an incident would make it easier for Biden to begin the succession process that was previously considered when President Richard Nixon was drinking heavily and taking prescription medication during the final days of his administration, twice during the Ronald Reagan administration — after the attempted assassination and in 1987 when he demonstrated early stages of Alzheimer's Disease, and during the Bill Clinton administration, when Clinton's self-destructive sexual antics had Vice President Al Gore considering taking similar steps.
Rush Limbaugh covered the Politico  piece today on his show. According to the Free Republic forum, "Rush Limbaugh Hinting Obama is INSANE!" Rush's comments were as follows:
I'm taking all this into account in this analysis I'm engaging in here.  "Many Democrats privately say they are skeptical Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of..." Do you understand what this could mean?  He's taken a giant thumping, huge, not just in Washington, in the states, throughout the country.  "Democrats privately say they're skeptical that Obama's self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic change," it hasn't dawned on Obama how big the drubbing is?  If it hasn't dawned on Obama, why?  Why could possibly explain that?  "Skeptical Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job."

They question his self-awareness to the point they ask: Is he capable of doing the job? Folks, this is not lightly thrown out there by the Politico. The Politico is clearly State-Controlled Media, clearly sympathetic. You throw a paragraph like that out there? You got somebody detached, not even aware what happened, not capable of doing the job. Folks, put that in context with this giant, huge drubbing on Tuesday -- which I think they were shocked at. I don't think the Democrats had any idea it was gonna be this bad. They live in denial. But now, now... (interruption) No, they didn't think it was gonna be this bad, Snerdley. They knew they were gonna lose some seats. They didn't think it was gonna extend down to dogcatcher, which it has.

. . . Now, that doesn't mean elitist. That doesn't mean arrogant. That doesn't mean conceited. That means, is he all there, period? That means -- well, you know what it means. That means, is everything normal? My interpretation here.
So the Lefties at Politico,  the Righties at Opinion Maker,  Rush Limbaugh himself, and all the King's horses and all the King's men amongst the Democrat elites do not yet understand that Obamaramalamadingdong's mental disease has always existed and is unchanged from his childhood. He is a roaring, out-of-control Narcissist who has recently been craftily manipulated by the George Soros and the woman in his life.

Obama believes that he is doing a good job and is unable to perceive that there is opposition to his Marxist beliefs and policies. As authors Robins and John observed in their research on the EFFECTS OF VISUAL PERSPECTIVE AND NARCISSISM ON SELF PERCEPTION:
It is said that "seeing is believing," but as Santayana pointed out, people often see what they believe, rather than believe what they see. The present research suggests that narcissistic individuals are unable to truly see themselves as others see them because they are blinded by their need for self-worth.