July 14th, 2005


Taking Notes on the Enemy

The two or three of you who take my opinions here seriously (out of the 5 or 6 who even bother to read what I write) can probably draw a picture of my opinion of Robert Novak without me saying a single word. I'll defer to Jon Stewart on the subject of Novak; Stewart makes a point of calling him a 'douchebag' every time he's mentioned on The Daily Show, and he has writers making sure that when he bags on Novak, it's entertaining.

But I've found that reading Novak's Chicago Sun-Times columns to be a great aid to understanding the current President's administration, and the conservative 'mind-set,' if it's even fair to call it that. His latest column is a fantastic (in both senses of the word) example of the magical thinking that informs the Bush Administration. You can read it all here: http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak14.html

But, like all those big time bloggers, I'll give you a few choice 'graphs' or is it 'ledes?'

"Overshadowed by the London terrorist attack and largely ignored by inattentive news media, the declaration on global warming at the G-8 summit of industrialized nations sounded far more like George W. Bush than Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac."

Darn those terrorists for momentarily outshining our Sun King!

"The British, French and Germans pushed hard for U.S. submission to binding carbon emission targets. To the amazement of the scientific community, Europe capitulated and backed away from immediate restraints on a growing U.S. economy. Bush won agreement from the G-8 that the world should await further scientific conclusion rather than rush unwise decisions that could deflate economic growth and lose jobs."

Good ol Bush, protecting jobs against the mean old cabal of EVERY SCIENTIST WITH ANY STANDING IN THE FIELD OF CLIMATE CHANGE around the world. Of course, the conservatives have their own team of tame, well-bribed scientists. Those scientists can't refute the prevailing wisdom, but they can muddy the waters just enough to prevent any substantive response to climate change from taking place.

"Most surprising was what did get in the Gleneagles communique. It conceded that ''uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science,'' rejecting the environmentalist dogma of ''settled science'' about global warming. The G-8 summit's public conclusion in favor of stopping and slowing the growth of greenhouse gases ''as the science justifies'' lifts Bush's language verbatim from 2002. "

Conservatives are unwilling to concede any point of scientific fact that might impact their bottom line. They claim "uncertainties" about any science they don't agree with. In fact, all good Science is provisional, and the "uncertainties" of science -- especially in the case of studying global change -- are a reflection of the fact that good scientists know they don't know EVERYTHING. A good scientist builds a model of a phenomenon, and tests it against the observed phenomenon. The fact that his model doesn't explain everything, or might in fact be WRONG is a given -- what's important is whether the model can be USED successfully to do more science or engineering.

Of course Conservatism has always had trouble with Science, going back to Galileo. Given the choice between their rock-ribbed beliefs and any physical evidence that contradicts them, they'll always choose their beliefs. In this case there's also the fact that the automotive and energy industries might get their profits dented by any rational attempt to address global warming. The conservatives won't give up their 'uncertainties' about global warming until New York, Miami, and Washington DC are under 10 feet of water, or the breaking up of the polar ice cap brings on a new ice age. Sure there's uncertainty about climate change -- scientists are uncertain about exactly how things are going to go down the shitter.

I've not written anything about the Valerie Plame affair in my blog, because anything I'd say would be redundant, and those of you that care, know where to read about it. But this column of Novak's, along with the Plame-outing column, make it perfectly clear what Novak is all about: Parroting whatever spin Karl Rove whispers in his ear right before Novak sucks his dick.