Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stolen Election?

As far as I can tell, there still isn't much mainstream media investigation of the truth of RFK Jr.'s article alleging massive election fraud in the Ohio portion of the 2004 Presidential election. (See my previous post.) Even if you think RFK, Jr. is a self-promoter who plays a little loose with the facts (and people have long done so), his article is well-documented and well-argued. It's the sort of thing real news outlets should either confirm or refute.

Farhad Manjoo, however, has written a long, detailed piece for in which he rebuts a lot of Kennedy's points, but even he acknolwedges that a lot about that election was troubling.

Alas, World Cup

In order to advance to the elimination rounds, the US needed to beat Ghana today in its third and final group match. Realistically, it also needed the Italians to beat the Czechs.

Well, the Italians beat the Czechs (2-0). But the US lost.

Ghana beat us 2-1. That means Italy and Ghana advance from the group, and the US and the Czech Republic go home. The US finishes a disappointing 0-2-1 in this World Cup.

(Kudos, on the other hand, to Ghana, who deservedly go through to the second round during their first World Cup appearance.)

Fundamentally, we brought this loss on ourselves. My take is that today's loss came from a combination of insufficiently aggressive coaching–especially an overly defensive line-up and substitutions–and from a couple key defensive mistakes that gave Ghana easy goals. Although, to be fair, only one of those misakes led directly to to a goal. The other one led directly to a really unjustified referee's decision to award a penalty kick, which is essentially a free goal. Disappointing.

This World Cup team, many thought, was the best we've sent to the World Cup. On paper, it's a better squad than the one what went to South Korea-Japan in 2002. That team made it to the quarterfinals (the best the US has done in the modern World Cup era). Anybody who knew soccer knew that we'd been put in a very tough group, advancing from which was far from a guarantee. Still, given the talent on the squad, US fans expected at least a better showing.

The US's lackluster showing may well get US manager Bruce Arena canned. And a lot of soccer fans in the US worry that it will damage soccer's image in the US. That's possible, I suppose, but I think the sport is making solid inroads and will continue to do so. We already have a huge percentage of boys (and girls) playing soccer until about 10 or 12 years of age. With a professional league (Major League Soccer) for our best male athletes to look forward to, I suspect we'll continue to have more boys join the girls in playing soccer through their teens.

A lot of Americans enjoy insisting that soccer is a ridiculous fringe sport that no red-blooded (English-speaking) American would watch. But that's less and less true. For example, I discovered recently, for example, that the highest Nielsen rating ever for a game of the Stanley Cup finals was a 5.2. The US-Italy game last Saturday got a 5.2 on ESPN's English-language broadcast alone. I haven't seen the Univisión ratings for that game, but I'll bet conservatively that they 2.5-3.0, which makes for a pretty respectable audience.

Of course, the World Cup is a much bigger deal than, say, the MLS championship (which continues to get lousy ratings). But still, I suspect soccer is on its way to being a sport like hockey: passionately watched by some fans and occasionally watched by a lot of fans. It won't catch up with NASCAR (not a sport!) for a long time, if ever, and the same is probably true regarding football, basketball, and baseball. Although, baseball has problems of its own. In addition to all the doping controversy, pro baseball players in the US are getting older and older because fewer and fewer young people (at least percentagewise) are playing the game through their teens. And in Japan, long a baseball-crazy country, soccer is starting to make real inroads into the domestic market. So, maybe soccer has a chance to pick off at least one major US in the next 10 or 20 years.

Anyway, it's been a great World Cup so far. Just not for the US.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

More World Cup

The US tied Italy today 1-1 in our second match of this World Cup.

It was an exciting but frustrating game--the referee threw out three players. One of the red cards (given to Italian player De Rossi) was deserved; the two given to American players were suspect.* I prefer games where the players are more important than the refs, but this was still a nail-biter.

The US played really well today, especially for being two men down for most of the match. Our players controlled much of the action until the card-fest started, and they played disciplined, tough soccer as the exhaustion crept in seventy, eighty minutes into the game. I suspect the team would have won if the ref had let it keep its players on the field.

Ghana beat the Czech Republic today, which makes the US's group really complicated. The Italians have 4 points, the Czechs and Ghaneans have 3, and we have 1. There's no guarantee that if we win our next (and final) group game we'll make it to the elimination round, but there's a real chance.

NEXT GAME: Thu., June 22, 10 a.m. EST (ESPN).

* My evaluation of the red cards isn't just me being jingoistic. The BBC said this: "De Rossi disgraced himself with a sickening, needless elbow on Brian McBride and was given his marching orders. It was the undoubted low point of a World Cup that has tried so hard to entertain."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Little Bounces

Conservatives would like you to believe that Bush's recently rising poll numbers are signifigant. But, they aren't. Bush's approval ratings hit historic lows in May, dropping to around 30% and they've bounced back since, but they're still in the 30s. Going from the cellar to the ceiling of the cellar isn't a big deal.

Conservatives would also like you to believe that the stock market is now backing Bush, based on a few recent positive days for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But, that's after some major corrections that started in May and some massive losses of shareholder value that have not yet been recouped. The global equity markets, exclusive of the U.S. and especially with regards to the emerging markets, have also recently shown losses. Also, that's after corrections in commodities markets (that aren't supposed to correlate with the stock market) and losses in both domestic and global bond markets, not to mention the still-diminishing power of the U.S. dollar.

The Dow was, recently, at 11400. Since it reached that point, traders have taken profits and losses for the index have shown that. Also, the markets seem to be moving without much regard to Bush-related news items like the killing of Zarqawi -- we have a new Federal Reserve chairman and traders on the stock and bond markets are unsure of how to interpret his statements and of how to predict what he'll do about interest rates. On the latter point, even if Greenspan were still in charge, traders would be confused because we're currently at a point where a rational Federal Reserve chairman could either hike rates a few more times or leave them steady. Pretty much nobody is sure about whether the Fed should hold steady and allow a relatively accomodative money supply policy to keep pushing GDP growth or whether it should raise rates a bit more in order to settle things down and ward off inflation. Seriously, lots of people have opinions about it, but nobody knows. That uncertainty is reflecting itself in international stock, bond and commodities markets as volatility.

As the mid-term elections approach, conservatives will loudly interpret any rise in the Dow as Wall Street's yearning for a continuing Republican majority in congress. But, it's all B.S. And, if Democrats claim any fall in the Dow is evidence of Wall Street clamoring for change, that's B.S. as well.

My take, for what it's worth, is that the markets (especially the US domestic stock market, which is the most liquid of them all) are volatile right now for reasons that have little to do with politics -- traders and money managers just don't know what the new Fed Chief will do, they don't know what the boom in commodities prices (and decline in the dollar) will cause and they don't know whether or not the U.S. should be pursuing growth or price stability (because globalization has changed a lot of the old rules of economics).

One rule of economics that globalization has changed, by the way, is the the rule that says that the economy can fall into a war of escalation between the price of U.S. labor and the price of goods sold. In the 1970s we saw years of that war. Wages went up. Prices went up soon after. Wages rose again, then prices rose again. In a globalized labor market, where companies can more easily outsource in pursuit of cheaper labor, we're seeing prices rise in a real but not dramatic fashion and stagnant wages. We've never dealt with that situation before. Economists are left wondering if wages will eventually jump or if prices will fall or if this is a sustainable situation. Nobody on Wall Street really knows. Are the old rules still applicable? Are suggestions about new rules as doomed as the last decade's blather about the "new economy" turned out to be? Nobody's sure.

When folks are confused, you get volatility. The Dow runs up to 11,400 but then it drops below 11,000 as people take profits. Then, it runs up again. And traders will cash in their winnings again and it will drop.

This kind of thing says near to zilch about politics, though. The market needs to get used to a new Fed chairman and it needs to make sense out of the impact of globalization (not just as it pertains to labor but as it pertains to the new international competition for resources that has diminished the influence that the U.S. once enjoyed as the largest buyer of raw materials and energy). To put it more quickly: the big players in the market are trying to make sense of these very interesting times.

Sometimes, the stock market is a good measure of political desires. Right now, I'd say that it isn't. There's a lot of chaos on Wall Street and a lot of well-reasoned but conflicting opinion at work. At the moment, I doubt the Street is saying much about preference for Republicans or Democrats. What it is saying is that some things have changed so radically that it's not sure whether to abide by well-tried rules or to adapt them. This is the kind of market where it takes the mind of George Soros to make a fortune and where the pundit class should tread carefully when trying to divine the political signifigance.

Dismissing Daily Show Viewers

Media Matters once again calls out Bill O'Reilly for trying to dismiss Daily Show watchers as a bunch of slacking stoners. As Media Matters has pointed out in the past, studies have shown that Daily Show fans are both better educated and more affluent than viewers of both mainstream news and of "The O'Reilly Factor."

But, that's an old argument. What strikes me most about the Media Matters post is O'Reilly's treatment of Stewart... he criticizes him and says he goes to far but, before doing so, he qualifies his opinion by saying that Stewart is, indeed, smart, funny and talented and that he likes the guy. I'm glad to hear O'Reilly be so honest (he should like Stewart personally, as both have appeared on each other's shows) but I also think the disclaimers are very revealing -- it means that O"Reilly knows he's going after a big dog that might bite back and, in the context of chat show arguing, reveals that O'Reilly knows he's not the alpha male when Stewart is around.

UPDATE ON LAST POST: The form letter I got from Senator Schumer's office rather promises some sort of substantive response to my letter asking him to support whichever candidate wins the primary in Connecticut. So, he promised to reply. Now, we'll see if he does so before the August vote and if offers any substantive response.

A Letter to Chuck Schumer

Readers away from the East Coast might not have taken notice of this but Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has a real primary challenge on his hands as his opponent Ned Lamont is closing in the polls. Lieberman's been in the Senate for 18 years and, of course, was Gore's running mate in 2000 and was the Alan Keyes on the Democrat side during the 2004 primary. He's vulnerable, most say, because he has been unapologetic in his support of the Iraq war, even going so far as to imply that we shouldn't be criticizing Bush during the hostilities. It goes beyond that, though. Lieberman has also helped Bush appoint conservative justices to the courts by giving cloture votes (and then, after a party-line vote seems sure, voting against the nominee) and he did the same to help the bankruptcy bill pass (he voted it to the Senate floor and then voted against it when it didn't matter). Lieberman's willingness to push for the Bush agenda has made him vulnerable.

It's likely that he'll still win the primary election, by the way. But, if he doesn't, it's implied that he'll run as an indepedent candidate and will likely win the general election by a plurality in a three-way race.

Lamont has promised, if he loses, to endorse Lieberman as the Democrat candidate. Lieberman refuses to make the same promise.

Now, my senator, Democrat Chuck Schumer, is among the leaders of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which exists to help get Democrats elected to the Senate. But Schumer is also an old pal of Lieberman's and he's said that if Lieberman loses the primary but runs as an independent who promises to caucus with the Democrats that the committee will give him its support.

I just wrote a letter to Schumer, asking him to reconsider. See, in a state like Vermont, where an independent liberal like Bernie Sanders will run without opposition from a member of the party, having the DSCC support some one who is a friend of the party but not a member makes sense. But in Connecticut, we've got a real, tight primary race at hand. Schumer, the DSCC and all Democrats with a national voice should really support the candidate that Connecticut's Democrats choose to run.

I wrote to Schumer that the merits of Lieberman and Lamont are actually immaterial to this discussion. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and a Democrat could make a case for either one. This is really about politics. What did we learn from the ascent of the Republicans? It seems to many that the Republicans went from being the congressional also-rans to the dominant force in national politics over night, but that's not at all how it happened. What happened was, over the course of decades, Republicans running national organizations (both in and out of government) lent their support to the choices made by Republicans at the local levels. That's why they've got a party that's a mix of both well-heeled economists and religious zealots that somehow manage to get along. To build an organization like that, you just have to accept that if your parties local voters boot your longtime pal in the primary that you best serve the party by trying to support and to make the best of the choice that those voters made.

At the moment, voters in the Democratic party are having a big debate about who should represent us and how. The media shorthand says it's a debate about Iraq, but that oversimplifies things. Another shorthand says it's about moving to the left vs. moving to the center, but it's not that either. In it's broadest sense, I think it's really a debate about whether or not center-left political views will be heard and considered by the government. For six years, they really haven't been. Some sitting senators, congresspeople and governors, who have had the chance to be heard but who either haven't been noticed or haven't represented what their voters want are going to be removed over the next few election cycles. The national party needs to accept that. Being in the Senate for 18 years does not automatically entitle a senator to be there for 24.

There are a lot of thoughtful Democrats out there, in government and outside of it, in Connecticut and in the rest of the country, who believe that for good reasons, Connecticut's primary voters would make an error by dumping Lieberman right now. There are also people, in all of those classes, who think it's a good move and a risk worth taking. In a couple of months, we'll know what Connecticut's Democrats want to do. We should support their decision, whatever it is. I hope that the national party will, too.

If Schumer answers my letter, I'll post it here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Amnesty for the Insurgency?

There's a big flap today over suggestions that the new Iraqi government will offer amnesty to insurgents, so long as they haven't killed Iraqis. I don't know how they'll sort that out and it seems as if the Iraqi PM is now backing away from the idea, but it does make a certain amount of sense -- promising them a swift and brutal death would only give them an incentive to go down fighting (or to try to win).

Now, Atrios tells us that a bunch of Republicans in congress are all for this amnesty. He's got their words on his site. I think I pretty much agree with Atrios that some form of amnesty is the kind of, as he says, "political solution" (as opposed to a military solution) that's needed.

But, in backing this and by drawing analogies to Civil War confederates (as Senator Ted Stevens does) aren't the Repubicans, for the first time, giving Iraq's insurgents a label that's more akin to legitimate revolutionaries than terrorists?

In a way, Stevens makes the right analogy -- confederate soldiers were fighting for one of history's lowest causes and I think no better of the causes backed by radical Islam. But that, of course, isn't the comparison he's trying to make. We don't view the Confederates as terrorists, after all. We look at them as a group of people who were on the wrong moral and practical sides of a legitimate war.

So, I guess what those Republicans are really saying, whether they know it or not, is that they now consider Iraq's insurgents not terrorists but revolutionaries. I guess that makes Zarqawi into General Lee.

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

With the exception of the post on An Inconvenient Truth, this is potentially the most important story I've mentioned on the blog since I started contributing. I say "potentially" only because I don't know if it's true. If it's true, it's that important.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has just published a long, detailed article in Rolling Stone entitled "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" Kennedy takes the title and much of his information from a forthcoming eponymous book for Seven Stories Press by Steven Freeman and Joel Bleifuss. All three men claim that Kerry won the Ohion in 2004 until it was taken from him by electoral fraud. Because Ohio was the deciding state, if they're right, then Kerry won the 2004 election.

Obviously, Kennedy has partisan allegiances and people have questioned his credibility before. Obviously the mainstream media haven't taken the story seriously.

Still, it sounds like Freeman and Bleifuss make a strong case.

Parts of the case are complicated and rely on statistical analysis. I won't try to reproduce those here. But the main points are pretty simple and based on two problem areas:
1) The exit polls
2) The Ohio secretary of state
1) THE EXIT POLLS had such a large population sample that they had only a 1-2% margin of error (compared to the usual 2-4% for even big national polls by the likes of ABC or The New York Times). But the exit polls were wrong in Ohio. Really wrong. 6-7% wrong, with Kerry winning.

These were sophisticated polls paid for by all the major news organizations (including FOX News), who paid for them because they wanted accurate information--especially after all the confusion in 2000. They shouldn't have been that wrong.

It turns out they were probably dead right. In the immediate aftermath, the only explanation the pollsters could come up with for the discrepancy between how the voters said they'd voted and how the state of Ohio said they'd voted was that Republicans had avoided exit polls more than Democrats had. But Was the 2004 Election Stolen says that 53% of Republicans responded to the pollsters while only 51% of Democrats did.

So it wasn't a biased sample throwing off the results. It an accurate sample testifying to rigged voting. But how could someone have rigged the vote?

2) For starters, that someone could have been the OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell was not only in charge of registering voters and counting votes, he was also the co-chair of Bush's re-election campaign in Ohio. And, according to Kennedy, Bleifuss and Freeman have piled up irrefutable evidence that Blackwell acted on behalf of Bush rather than Ohio voters. Among other things, Bleifuss and Freeman apparently have documented 80,000 ballots fraudulently altered so as to change a Kerry vote to a Bush vote, hundreds of thousands of uncounted votes, and hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters removed from election rolls even though they were completely eligible voters. Kennedy offers a lot of really strong facts to back up those claims.

If even half of this is true, Blackwell helped rig a Presidential election. Which in turn would mean that Bush would turn out to be the only two-term President to have never been elected by the American people.

At a minimum, these are serious charges seriously made. The logic is persuasive, the evidence copious. At a minimum, the charges should be investigated--really investigated. By transparency groups, by journalists, by the FEC, and by special prosecutors. If we don't investigate this, we'll be deciding that democracy was an expensive error.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Michael Alan Weiner is a Monkey Assmunch Wiener

[See Mike's post directly below for context.]

Hey, Michael Alan Weiner ("Michael Savage" is cute--I bet it's nice to have a wrestling name), I don't have as much money or as influence as you. But at least I'm not a vicious, hysterical, hate-inciting halfwit.

People like you give Americans a bad name. Hypocritical, amoral people who call for killing a 100 million Muslims and then start accusing George Soros of causing the Holocaust, you disgrace the flag you wrap around yourselves at every opportunity.

You know who caused the Holocaust, you opportunist, you former flatterer and acolyte of Beat poets, you half-baked herbalist? The Nazis did. The crazy Nazi commanders did, and their vicious, hysterical, hate-inciting propagandists helped convince the German army and people to play along. Are they your role models? You sure act like it. Every time you open your mouth and puke up the nonsense that you puke up to make a quick buck, you do more to shame and diminish this country than any of the people you hate and mock from the safety of your stupidity-insulated production studio.

I'll debate you tomorrow, Weiner, on any platform. It's people like you, Weiner, people who can't fact-check or think straight, who hold this country back. That's why you need to shut your mouth and understand (if you can understand anything other than cheap theatrics) the damage you're doing to the world and the American people, you shameful sideshow monkey.

I probably should dignify this with a response...

Saw George Soros speak last night at a party celebrating his latest book, "The Age of Fallibility." I won't say much about the book, as I'm currently writing a review, but it's a very sophisticated look at current world affairs and U.S. policy, based largely on Soros' experiences as a student of Karl Popper. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, according to Media Matters for America, right wing nutjob Michael Savage has already reviewed the book and Soros' life in general. Here's what Media Matters reports that Savage said about Soros on the radio yesterday:

"For all your doubts about the unbridled pursuit of self interest, few people have benefited more from capitalism than you. He says: I'm happy to acknowledge that. I have a platform because I made a lot of money. If I were just an intellectual, an obscure university professor, I would be saying these things and I wouldn't be heard.

Hey George, let me tell you something, I don't have as much money as you. I have 50,000 times the influence that you do, you punk, lying, coward, Satanist, backstabbing freak. You're the people -- people like you give Jews a bad name, Soros. It's people like you who brought about the Holocaust, Soros. I stand by those words. I stand by those words. I would debate you tomorrow, Soros, on any platform, anywhere. I'll debate you anywhere. It's people like you who brought about the Holocaust, Soros. That's why I need you to shut your mouth and understand the damage you're doing to this world and to the Jewish people, George Soros."

Well, then. The scary part of it is that Savage probably isn't even embarassed about saying this. Either that, or he's trying to woo Ann Coulter.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

World Cup!

I don't think I've ever quite managed to convince Mike that soccer is a real sport (but then, I suspect that Mike thinks the UFC is the only real sports league in the US). But I'll try to boost enough for the both of us.

The men's World Cup starts today (Friday, 9 June 2006). The 200+ teams trying to qualify for the Cup over the past three years have now become only 32 teams. Those 32 teams will play 64 matches at 12 German venues for the next month. About 3,200,000 people will watch in person. Billions will watch on TV.

In case you're ignorant but interested, here's a brief primer on the World Cup and the US's chances.

How the Tournament Works

The tournament set-up, roughly, is as follows. The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams for the first phase. Within the groups, each of the four teams plays the others. For each game, a team gets 3 points for a win, 1 for a tie, and 0 for a loss. (Tiebeaks include records vs. one another, goals scored, and goals alowed.)

After all the preliminary groups have played each other, the top two teams from each group advance. Then it's single elimination for the remaining 16 teams.

A Brief Introduction to the US Team's History and Prospects

Since scraping its way into the 1990 World Cup, the US has gradually turned itself into a respectable international team. We're currently ranked fifth in the world (fourth a month ago), but that's higher than we deserve, really. Still, we're a solid team. In S. Korea/Japan (2002), we made it to the quarterfinals, our best showing in decades.

Because our domestic league (MLS) has improved, because a lot of our players work in the good European leagues, and because our team is fairly experienced at the highest level, we probably have a better team this year than we did in 2002. But we also have a much harder draw. For reasons known only to the rat bastards at the FIFA seeding committee, the US didn't end up as one of the number one seeds this year (though Mexico, whom we qualified ahead of, did).

Since we're not seeded, we're lumped in one of the two toughest preliminary groups: Group E. We have to play the Czech Republic (recent European champs and FIFA #2), Italy, and Ghana. (Ghana is very good, but a lot of people don't take them seriously because they're African. Or, at least, not European. The only non-European sides the Europeans take seriously are Brazil and Argentina.) Our group is so tough that English bookmakers William Hill put us and (demostrably inferior) Australia at the same 81:1 odds not to win the tournament. Last I checked, they had us at 4:1 not to win the group.

Sadly, if we were to qualify for the single-elimination phase as group runners-up, we'd almost certainly have to play Brazil. And they're very scary.

Who to Watch

In addition to the US, the following teams should be fun to watch: Brazil, Ivory Coast, Holland, Argentina, England, Mexico, Spain, Ghana, Italy. Trinidad & Tobago (population one million) has qualified for the World Cup for the first time ever. They might not score a goal, but they'll be going all out.

The following team should be good but no fun to watch: Germany. [UPDATE: This is a cheap historical joke. They're actually pretty entertaining; as they proved against us in a recent tune-up match, they can definitely score goals. They're doing so to Costa Rica right now.]

Where to Learn More

FIFA official World Cup site

BBC World Cup web page

Washington Post World Cup web page

US World Cup blog

Most of these sites have schedules. Unlike the 2002 World Cup, this one's only a third of a day ahead rather than a half, so you don't have to watch them in the middle of the night. Or in Spanish--all the games will be on ESPN or the English-speaking broadcast networks. (Though I might still watch in Spanish. Univision knows and cares more.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Another Reason to Dislike Ann Coulter

So Ann Coulter's new book is out. Turns out God loves little black cocktail dresses, blondes, and Windsor Pilates.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Global Warming and the Liars

So I went and saw An Inconvenient Truth last night. Good documentary. Lucid and persuasive. I hope it gets wider release. If it isn't out in your city yet, you can go to for some of the same info.

It's heartening to see that the mainstream media are at least temporarily taking note of some of the important facts about global warming that the documentary points out. Those facts bear repeating, especially since they're often shrouded in a smog of nonsense produced by polluters whose profits depend on people not hearing the facts. So here are the two facts that impressed me most along with a quick summary of the "smog" (bad logic and misrepresentations) used to neutralize them.

SMOG #1: The oil lobby and the White House (sometimes I feel tempted to write "the oil lobby and its White House") are constantly fighting raising the minimum fleet-wide miles-per-gallon of vehicles sold in America because they claim that that America can't afford to cut down on the carbon-dioxide emissions from car exhaust by making more efficient cars because it would destroy the competetiveness of our car-makers.

FACT #1: Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, and others all already have much more stringent fleet mpg requirements than we do. So it's not like our car manufacturers would be at a disadvantage against, say, Japanese cars. Making more efficient cars might actually make them more competetive in countries that pay $6-7 per gallon for gas. For example, Ford might be able to sell, say, Expeditions in England if a) the Expedition fit on any of the streets and b) the damn things wouldn't cost drivers $9 a day for a 20-mile round-trip commute.

The biggest bogeyman in this resistance to improved fuel efficiency is China, whose government is probably even more indifferent to environmental issues than the US's. The obfuscators want us to think that if the US raises standards, American automakers never be able to compete with Chinese automakers or in the Chinese market. Which brings me to the single fact out of all the mpg facts that blew my mind:
America's requirements: 25 mpg.
China's: 35 mpg.
Let me repeat. Fact #1: China has stricter mpg standards than the US. China.

SMOG #2: The scientific community is divided between those who believe that global warming is happening and that human activity significantly contributes to it and those who are skeptical of one or both of those beliefs.

FACT #2: The scientific community is divided between those who believe that global warming is happening and that human activity significantly contributes to it and those who get paid by polluters to believe otherwise.

Yes, there are scientists who publish papers disputing the existence of global warming or its connection to human activity. But they get paid directly or indirectly by polluters to do so. Independent scientists find such work unsubstantiated, shoddy, and embarrassing.

Gore points out that Science magazine recently examined a 928-article sample of all the articles (about 9,300, I think) published in peer-reviewed journals from 1993-2003. In those articles not one (!) scientist disputed either the existence of global warming or human activity's contribution to it. Not one.

That's the major distinction between peer-reviewed journals and journals sponsored by Exxon-Mobil. Peer-reviewed journals are reviewed by scientists not on the industry payroll, i.e. scientists whose allegiance is to science. Before the editors of those journals sign off on articles, they have profesionals read them. And people who know what they're doing all say that global warming is real and that we're causing it.

MORE FOG #2. Science also surved a sample of more than 500 articles published in mainsteam newspapers and magazines 1993-2003 and found that 50% of those articles indicated that there is a controversy in the scientific community over global warming.

So the scientists don't think there's a controversy. But many Americans think that scientists think there is. Why? Because there are mind-bogglingly many well-paid groups and people lying to us about global warming.

The lies and the liars range from the systematic to the opportunistic. On the systematic side, for example, we have the fine folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a proxy organization funded in large part by Exxon-Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute) have just launched a pair of sixty-second ads that insist (I kid you not), "Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life." (Thinkprogress has a good post on this.)

On the opportunistic side, we have all these pointy little talking heads banging mightily at the leaky and dented pots and pans that they call ideas, all so that somebody will point the camera at them. For example, Jonathan Hoenig recently insisted on Fox News global warming is the mutant brainchild of Luddite fantasists. Drawing on his extensive scientific background as managing member of Capitalist Pig Hedge fund, Hoenig declared:
There's no scientific proof that global warming even exists. To be honest, it's a bogus consensus dreamed up by the greens because they hate industry. They hate advancement and technology. And whether it's drilling in ANWR or any type of medical research on animals, greens will lead us back to the stone ages.

(Caveman Gore, by the way, has put together a slick multimedia campaign and movie that not only highlight the dangers of global warming but also testify to the multimedia power of Mac laptops. Anti-corporate, anti-technology Gore also sits on the board of Apple Computers.)

In addition to the charming false equating of people who don't want the oceans to rise twenty feet to people who don't want Merck to test on chimps, Hoenig also offered up the hilarious false choice: either terrorism is a problem or global warming is. We can't possibly pay attention to both. (Presumably there's no scientific proof that third-graders can walk and chew gum at the same time.) And if we are going to pay attention to more than one threat, Hoenig says, terrorism is by far threat one. Threat two according to Hoenig? "It's the environmentalists themselves," he says. Presumably, if environmentalists weren't afraid of technology, they'd be building bombs and learning to fly airplanes. Thank our unwarming heavens that Hoenig had the guts to go on Cashin' In and expose the peril.

With such lying and stupidity everywhere, it's an uphill battle for people like Gore who spend at least some of their time learning facts and thinking about them. But I'm glad they're doing it. It even seems to be working, at least a little.