Friday, July 02, 2010

It Won't Make Any Difference to the Zombie Liars

Slashdot Science Story | Climategate's Final Days
"Climategate may be on its way out. An investigatory committee at Pennsylvania State University has formally cleared climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann of any scientific misconduct. Mann was central in the so-called Climategate scandal, where illegally leaked emails were purported to indicate examples of scientists trying to cover up any lack of global warming in their data. This finding by the committee (PDF) is another in a series of independent investigations that have all concluded that no misconduct has occurred."

Not that this will stop the climate change deniers from bringing up "Climategate" as "proof" that global climate change is a "fraud." Just like the alleged ACORN "pimp videos" are still being trotted out as "evidence" that the organization is up to some ill-defined, but nefarious plotting at the behest of George Soros, or Nancy Pelosi, or someone, even though not one but two investigations found that the videos had been "heavily edited" and that the organization, while having some flaws in its management, had done nothing wrong.

We live in the age of the Zombie Lie, where misinformation never dies.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GOP Senators Go After Kagan By Attacking...Thurgood Marshall?

Dana Milbank:

As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.

Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy," said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, "is not what I would consider to be mainstream." Kyl -- the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event -- was ready for a scrap. Marshall "might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge," he said

It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued Brown vs. Board of Education. Did Republicans think it would help their cause to criticize the first African American on the Supreme Court, a revered figure who has been celebrated with an airport, a postage stamp and a Broadway show? The guy is a saint -- literally. Marshall this spring was added to the Episcopal Church's list of "Holy Women and Holy Men," which the Episcopal Diocese of New York says "is akin to being granted sainthood.

With Kagan's confirmation hearings expected to last most of the week, Republicans may still have time to make cases against Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Gandhi.

Every day, in every way, the GOP continues to present themselves to the world as the party of cranky old white men who think the civil rights struggle and desegregation were bad things and who wish all those noisy brown people would just learn their place (and who indignantly shout about "playing the race card" when anyone points out this very obvious fact).


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The PR Geniuses at BP

Latest Newspaper Column:

You know, British Petroleum probably thought it had made a pretty good choice when it picked Tony Hayward to be its CEO.

He's young, he's good-looking, he's got great hair, and he's got that charming British accent. The power of this last trait is not to be underestimated, as I discovered in college when a classmate from Great Britain was explaining why he hadn't done his assignment for that day. "You can tell me anything you want," the female teaching assistant cooed, "as long as you do it in that accent."

I was not, it should be noted, well pleased by this. But it did teach me an important truth of life: You can get away with almost anything if you make it sound like you're doing it on "Masterpiece Theatre."

The operative word there being "almost." In the aftermath of the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf, Hayward, accent notwithstanding, has apparently discovered a true genius for ticking people off.

First he tried to downplay the potential effects of the spill, saying the effect of millions of gallons of oil spewing into the ocean would be "very very, modest" and that the spill itself would be "tiny."

Then Hayward exhibited the kind of sensitivity one would normally associate with decapitated French royalty when he told an interviewer, on-camera, "There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." Gulf residents were quick to point out that since there are a few million people along the coast who could say the same thing, to say nothing of 11 workers killed by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, their sympathy for Hayward's inconvenience was, shall we say, somewhat muted.

Things went from bad to worse when BP Chairman Carl-Henrik Svanberg tried to step in to reassure people and managed only to step into an even deeper hole. "We care about the small people," Svanberg said after a four-hour meeting at the White House with President Obama. "I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are really companies that don't care, but that is not the case in BP, we care about the small people."

Now, I'll be fair here and note that Svanberg is a Swede and English is clearly not his first language. So he probably didn't really mean to imply that the people of the Gulf coast were hobbits. Still, when you're trying to manage a disaster of biblical proportions, it might be a good idea to have someone in front of the cameras who knows the language.

Fortunately BP, alone and embattled, managed to find a defender, a white knight who rode to the rescue of their besieged reputation. Who was this brave paladin, this defender of poor and downtrodden BP? It should surprise no one to learn that it was a Texas Republican.

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Rep. Joe Barton said during congressional hearings on the spill. "I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown." Barton actually apologized for the White House being so mean to poor BP.

That rumbling you heard immediately afterwards was the sound of a thousand Democratic political strategists dancing for joy. Horrified fellow Republicans immediately disavowed Barton, even threatening to strip him of his seniority on the Energy and Commerce Committee. It's OK, you see, to be a harlot for the oil industry, but it's a PR problem to be such a shameless one.

Barton immediately began his own familiar song and dance.

First, it was the old "I didn't really say that" defense: "If anything I have said this morning has been misconstrued to an opposite effect," Barton said, "I want to apologize for that misconstruction." Then the "well, I did say it but I'm sorry" sidestep: "I apologize for using the term 'shakedown' with regard to yesterday's actions at the White House ... and I retract my apology to BP." Now all that's left is to apologize to the English language for atrocities like "misconstrued to an opposite effect" and "tragedy of the first proportion."

So in the end, Barton's apologized, Hayward's been pulled off of "day-to-day" management of the spill by BP, and Svanberg is probably still asking everyone (in Swedish) "What? What did I say?" And the oil continues to flow.

Sigh. Even I can't find anything to be amused about in that.