Obama admits to bias against Israel

During his speech last week at a Washington, D.C. synagogue, President Obama admitted that his treatment of Israel is based on bias against the Jewish State. He didn’t put it that way, of course. Instead, he said he has “high expectations” for Israel — higher than for other foreign nations. As discussed below, that’s an admission of a bias that operates to the detriment of Israel.

Obama’s bias explains a lot. It explains why he has consistently demanded greater concessions from Israel than from the Palestinians. And it explains why he demands that Israel sit on the sidelines while Obama makes a nuclear deal with Iran that all of Iran’s enemies in the region, not just Israel, consider disastrous.

In addition to its power to explain, Obama’s synagogue statement captures three of his essential traits. The first is arrogance. Here, once again, is Obama sitting on Mount Olympus deciding the expectations to which the nations of the world will be held. One set of expectations for this nation, another for that — all based on Obama’s personal views and prejudices.

The second Obama trait on display is perversity. Normally, if anything, we cut our friends a little slack, whether in personal or international relations. But not Obama. He cuts slack to America’s traditional enemies, whether Iran or the Palestinians (who demonstrated gleefully after the 9/11 attacks). Our long time ally, meanwhile, is held to a higher standard (and publicly scolded if it fails to live up to Obama’s expectations).

Third, as noted, Obama’s statement amounts to discriminatory bias against the Jewish State. Imagine an employer who admits that it holds African-American applicants and employees to higher expectations than other employees. That employer would be guilty of racial discrimination.

It would be no defense for the head of the company to say that he holds himself and his management team to the same elevated standards. The relevant comparison is between the treatment of Whites and Blacks in the general workforce and applicant pool. Similarly, the relevant focus in foreign affairs is America’s comparative treatment of foreign nations.

How could Obama get away with telling a Jewish audience that his foreign policy is biased against the Jewish State? Because by talking about his “high expectations” for Israel, he dressed it up as flattery. As Scott said, this “goes over well before a liberal Jewish crowd.”

If there’s a specimen more obtuse than the liberal American Jew, I have yet to encounter it.

New Explanation for The Warming Pause

We’ve reported before on various explanations for the current “pause” in global warming that we’re told is not happening, now going on for nearly 18 years. According a study published last week in Nature Geoscience, the culprit may be the Indian Ocean:

The Indian Ocean may be the dark horse in the quest to explain the puzzling pause in global warming, researchers report on 18 May in Nature Geoscience. The study finds that the Indian Ocean may hold more than 70% of all heat absorbed by the upper ocean in the past decade.

Scientists have long suspected that oceans have played a crucial role in the so-called warming hiatus by storing heat trapped in the atmosphere by rising levels of greenhouse gases. But pinpointing exactly which ocean acts as a global air conditioner has proved challenging.

Prior research suggested that a significant amount of heat moves from the atmosphere into the Pacific Ocean, where La Niña-like conditions have dominated since the turn of the century. . . But when Sang-Ki Lee, an oceanographer at the University of Miami in Florida, and his colleagues went looking for this heat beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, they couldn’t find it. Temperature data compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) World Ocean Atlas (WOA) suggest that the upper 700 metres of the Pacific have actually cooled in recent years, Lee says.

What’s a climatista to do when the data won’t cooperate? Tweak your computer model until it spits out a more congenial finding:

So Lee’s team used a computer model to explore the fate of the ocean’s ‘missing heat’. The results suggest that easterly trade winds have strengthened during the hiatus, causing warm water to pile up in the western Pacific. The water seeps between the islands of Indonesia and into the Indian Ocean, bringing heat with it.

While this study does offer some data to corroborate its computer model, it doesn’t jibe with other data sets and competing computer models:

Kevin Trenberth, also a climate scientist at NCAR, says the results disagree with studies that use alternatives to the WOA data. There are large observational gaps in the WOA dataset, and Trenberth says that NOAA has accounted for these without considering the long-term warming of the ocean, leading to cooler values where measurements are missing.

For instance, Trenberth and his colleagues found pronounced Pacific warming during the hiatus and only modest warming in the Indian Ocean using heat content estimates derived in part from satellite measurements. Other studies have also implicated warming in the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean.

For now, it seems that the hunt for the missing heat may continue. But scientists say it is important to get to the bottom of the story to fully explain the current hiatus and prepare for others that might occur in the future. “We need to understand the energy imbalance of the Earth,” Lee says. [Emphasis added.]

But remember: it’s all settled science, so shut up and pay up your carbon tax.

How Is “Liberation Theology” Still a Thing?

The New York Times reports on the front page today Pope Francis’s revival of “liberation theology”—a radical creed from the 1970s and 1980s that at the time I summarized as “Marxism with salsa.” Quoth the Times:

[Pope Francis] is directly engaging with a theological movement that once sharply divided Catholics and was distrusted by his predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. . . Liberation theory includes a critique of the structural causes of poverty and a call for the church and the poor to organize for social change. Mr. Lee said it was a broad school of thought: Movements differed in different countries, with some more political in nature and others less so. 

As usual, we’re way ahead of the Times, whose account is rather lacking in any case. I took note of this story more than two weeks ago in one of my Forbes columns: “How Is ‘Liberation Theology’ Still a Thing?”  If you don’t have time for the whole thing, here’s a key excerpt:

Liberation theology grew out of the misbegotten “Christian-Marxist dialogue” of the 1960s and 1970s, which must seem as quaint and laughable as promoting Esperanto. It was not a coincidence that liberation theology was especially popular in Latin America during the high water mark of Marxist guerilla insurgencies and the final death spasms of socialist utopias such as Nicaragua. . . Nicaragua’s Father Ernesto Cardinal said that “Christians are not only able to be Marxists but, on the contrary, to be authentically Christian, they ought to be Marxist.”

The literature of liberation theology consisted of the usual Marxist cant sprinkled with holy water, with unoriginal references to class struggle, oppression, imperialism, dependence, and especially how Latin America poverty was all the fault of capitalism emanating from the United States and western Europe. “Liberation,” understood in the usual Marxist way (the use of the precious term “praxis” was always a dead giveaway), was now equated with Christian salvation. “It is quite remarkable,” Catholic theologian Michael Novak wrote at the time, “that the list of cities requiring liberation did not include Cracow or Leningrad, Havana or Peking, Hanoi or Prague.”

And the conclusion:

Liberation theology likes to describe itself with the slogan that it represents the “preferential option for the poor,” whatever that means. Here’s one concrete application: give poor people the option to own property and start businesses with the security that the state won’t get in their way or steal it from them. Pope Francis is listening to the wrong Peruvian thinker. He should have invited Hernando de Soto instead of Gustavo Gutierrez.

Science and Scientism, Revisited

Steve wrote an important essay here a couple of weeks ago, titled Science Versus Scientism. Ken Haapala, President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, leads off this week’s The Week That Was with an appreciation of Steve’s post:

Science and Scientism: One of the chosen ones for the political witch hunt, Steven Hayward wrote a short essay differentiating between the practice of science, which can be described as objectively examining empirical evidence to test a hypothesis, and scientism, which can have many of the trappings of science, but put to other ends. Hayward begins by discussing a 1952 book by Austrian economist Friedrich August von Hayek. According to Hayward, Hayek “concludes that science of all kinds has a tendency to become what he calls ‘scientism,’ in which the claims of scientific superiority amount to yet another destructive and dogmatic authoritarian ideology.”

Hayward discusses how certain politicians and some scientists use scientism to further their own ends. This use of scientism is becoming particularly obvious in the run-up for the great conference of parties (COP) sponsored by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015. We can expect more “scientism” from Western governments and once distinguished scientific organizations that are now part of the Climate Establishment.

Indeed. Leftists like to describe those who disagree with them as “anti-science.” Science is a method, not a body of dogma, and I don’t know of anyone alive today who is anti-science; not in America, anyway. Anti-scientism? That’s another matter.

John Nash, RIP

Sad news this morning of the car accident death, at age 86, of Nobel Prize winning economist and mathematician John Nash, made more publicly famous (if not entirely accurately) in A Beautiful Mind.

A psychiatrist friend posted the following note on Facebook about the news:

Let me try, surely in vain, to set the record straight as there are so many subtle but horrifying myths that the Left has created about Nash to suit their purposes. (1) His name has entered science largely through his theory of balance in conflict—the Nash Equilibrium. The first movie to get this wrong had him as a reclusive professor whose computer, Joshua, arrived at the conclusion, “Don’t Play” to avert nuclear armageddon. In fact a stable Nash Equilibrium that averts a nuclear holocaust is attained via Mutually Assured Destruction—peace through strength. This idea was previously lampooned by the Hollywood Left’s caricature of Nash’s mentor, John von Neumann, the mad man with the autonomous glove in “…How I Learned to Love the Bomb”. (2) The bar scene in “A Beautiful Mind” likewise gets it 180 degrees wrong—going for the non-beautiful girl is NOT a Nash equilibrium. The setup cannot produce a Nash equilibrium at all. (3) Nash almost certainly did NOT have “paranoid schizophrenia” as he remained productive until the end. He almost certainly had bipolar disorder, a condition that may yield transient psychotic episodes. I know many brilliant scientists with this condition. He may have been diagnosed with schizophrenia upon his initial admission to Maclean Hospital, but that would have been before Harrison and Pope, at Maclean, in 1984, later reviewed all the previous records and discovered that 50% of such “schizophrenia” diagnoses were in error and were actually manic-depression (bipolar). (3) During his manic/psychotic episodes, Nash would become paranoid (this happens in mania) and would then begin spouting crazed LEFTWING fantasies. When he was normal, he was politically conservative. The movie “A Beautiful Mind” deliberately reversed this because of its obvious implications. (4) To this day, Paul Krugman admires and looks up to Nash—because Nash was in fact von Neumann’s heir. Krugman does not allow this to be much known.

Behind Science Fraud

We reported here the other day about the latest fraudulent article in Science magazine, but don’t miss the op-ed about the broader problem of science fraud in today’s New York Times by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky (who is one of the founders of RetractionWatch).

Here’s the most relevant excerpt:

Science fetishizes the published paper as the ultimate marker of individual productivity. And it doubles down on that bias with a concept called “impact factor” — how likely the studies in a given journal are to be referenced by subsequent articles. The more “downstream” citations, the theory goes, the more impactful the original article.

Except for this: Journals with higher impact factors retract papers more often than those with lower impact factors. It’s not clear why. It could be that these prominent periodicals have more, and more careful, readers, who notice mistakes. But there’s another explanation: Scientists view high-profile journals as the pinnacle of success — and they’ll cut corners, or worse, for a shot at glory.

And while those top journals like to say that their peer reviewers are the most authoritative experts around, they seem to keep missing critical flaws that readers pick up days or even hours after publication — perhaps because journals rush peer reviewers so that authors will want to publish their supposedly groundbreaking work with them. . .

Economists like to say there are no bad people, just bad incentives. The incentives to publish today are corrupting the scientific literature and the media that covers it. Until those incentives change, we’ll all get fooled again.

Not dark yet, part 2

WUMB’s Saturday morning radio show Highway 61 Revisited devoted its four hours yesterday to a celebration of Mr. Bob’s birthday today. Host Albert O played songs written by Dylan nonstop. Given the limits imposed by applicable law, he filled out the show with cover versions. It was an illuminating exercise. The variety of artists to have covered Dylan is wide. The Band, Solomon Burke, the Byrds, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Glen Campbell, Cher, the Clancy Brothers, Eric Clapton, Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin, Elvis Costello, the Country Gentlemen, King Curtis — well, you can see what I mean even before we hit names beginning with the letter D.

Perhaps the most important of the artists to have covered Dylan in this alphabetical range is Joan Baez, who drew attention to him and insisted on his importance when she was all the rage and he was trying to make a name for himself. After Dylan had made it, Baez took a timeout to record a double album of his songs. Baez recorded Bob Dylan’s “Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word” for Any Day Now, her 1968 double album of Dylan covers. It’s the highlight of the album. Baez owns that song. Dylan himself has never released a recording of it and I’m not aware of anyone other than Baez who has taken a stab at it.

In the D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don’t Look Back, Baez can be heard singing the song to Dylan in a hotel room during his tour of England in the spring of 1965. Dylan says he’s never finished the song; Baez says he’s finished it “about eight different ways,” and promises to record it if he finishes it. On the evidence of Baez’s memoir And a Voice To Sing With, Dylan wrote the song at Baez’s house in Carmel Valley in the summer of 1964. Baez writes that “Dylan was turning out songs like ticker tape, and I was stealing them as fast as he wrote them.”

In the song the singer resists the statement that “love is just a four-letter word.” He initially overhears the woman — “the friend of a friend of mine” — say it to “the father of her kid.” He thinks the statement is absurd. Over time, however, he seems to have come to believe it himself.

In the closing verse that Dylan leaves off the published lyrics, he meets up again with the woman many years later “with tables turned.” He says he can say nothing to her but that “love is just a four-letter word.” He doesn’t quite go so far as to say he believes it himself, although he’s had experiences that make him understand what she meant. The song seems to belie the statement, the singer saying in his own way that he loves the woman.

In the video above, the great Earl Scruggs — he who defined the use of the banjo in bluegrass music — visits Baez at home and asks her to play the song for his 1972 special Earl Scruggs: His Family & Friends. Scruggs takes a solo, as does Earl’s son Randy. It is a memorable performance of a hidden gem in the Dylan catalogue. (I have updated this post to add the first two paragraphs but adapted the rest from a 2007 post.)