Posts Tagged ‘Mark Noonan’

Blogs For Victory’s Mark Edward Noonan never misses an opportunity to prove he isn’t a scientist, repeating the latest climate change denialism talking points. And this week he was true to form, dutifully repeating a canard that’s been making the rounds of conservative blogs and websites lately:

A bit of a Global Warming Climate Change update – turns out that Antarctic ice mass isn’t actually declining. There are 6.36 million cubic miles of ice in Antarctica; the average thickness of the sheet is 6,500 feet (that is well more than a mile, folks) – we’re going to have to warm up more than a degree or two by 2100 to make a real dent in that.

It’s almost as if Noonan trolls the Internet for his talking points…

Anyway, Noonan’s secondhand source is Watts Up With That, not exactly a paragon of science. And Mark Edward Noonan, being a twenty-first century conservative, uncritically accepts anything that denigrates science. After all, science is, in his mind, a grand leftist liberal conspiracy to steal money from those who earned it.

Not surprisingly, Watt’s claim relies on a faulty and incomplete interpretation of partial data that is favorable to climate deniers, which they know the Noonans of the world will eat up. (This is also the way he wrote 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President In History, by the way.)

Here’s what’s actually going on, courtesy Phil Pliat at Slate:

A new study just published in the Journal of Glaciology is causing some buzz in climate circles, because it appears to claim that Antarctica—long thought to be losing ice at extremely alarming rates—is actually gaining ice.

However, note the word appears. The reality is more complicated, and in the end the important aspect of this is that the study only talks about part of Antarctica, and only used data up to 2008. Both of these points are critical.

Here’s what’s what.

The authors looked at satellite altimeter data, using that to track how much snow accumulated over a given time period. Looking at different satellites, they found that enough snow fell over some parts of the southern continent (most importantly the vast area of East Antarctica) to more than balance the ice lost via melting.

In other words, East Antarctica (and parts of West) was gaining mass. That’s interesting!

But the authors note that the accumulation rate is steady while losses are increasing. As they mention in their conclusion, this gain in mass over the regions studied can’t keep up with losses, and they’re likely to balance in about 20 years. After that, losses win.

There’s more. They looked at data going from 1992–2008. Starting right around that time, mass loss due to melting ice in Antarctica (mostly in the west) has accelerated. It’s actually been speeding up for some time, but in recent years it’s really kicked in. Every year, about 6 billion more tons of ice are lost than the year before. In the past two decades, the loss rate has doubled.

This is enough to easily outpace the mass gained by snowfall over East Antarctica. Using data taken by the Grace satellites (which measure how mass underneath them changes over time), we know that overall, Antarctica is currently losing more than 130 billion tons of ice per year, and again, that number is increasing every year. Since 2002 it’s lost about 2 trillion tons of ice.

Mind you, this isn’t including Greenland, which is losing ice at an even more staggering 280 billion tons per year, and has lost well over three trillion tons over that same time period.

So no matter how you slice it, Antarctica is losing ice, and losing it fast.

Plait goes on to say (my emphasis added):

Of course, the usual suspects in the global warming–denying noise machine are jumping all over this study, claiming triumph … but, as usual, they obfuscate, they cherry-pick, and they ignore evidence that contradicts their claims that everything is rolling along just fine.

Here’s the difference between real science and what they do: When I first read about this Antarctic study, my reaction was one of hope. Although I knew that sea levels were rising, and that this must be coming from somewhere, if Antarctica was actually gaining ice, that could provide a good buffer against catastrophic melting.

But upon further examination it became clear that this was not the case. I was happy to entertain the notion that I might be wrong in my conclusions, and I still am. But all the evidence points to the conclusion that Antarctica is still losing hundreds of billions of tons of ice per year, will lose more every year, and it’s joined (and even outpaced) by Greenland.

The world really is warming up. We really are losing ice. The sea levels really are rising. Oceans really are getting more acidic as they absorb some of the 40 billion extra tons of carbon dioxide we humans pump into the atmosphere every year.

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150_reasonsMatt Margolis and Mark Noonan will be familiar to many readers of this blog. Matt is the founder of the conservative website Blogs For Victory (formerly Blogs For Bush), while Mark has been its primary editorial voice for many years. They wrote their first book, Caucus of Corruption: The Truth about the New Democratic Majority in 2007, chronicling “the corruption endemic to the Democratic Party.” Their most recent book is a 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President In History, published in 2013.

Margolis and Noonan have just announced the pending publication of an update to 150 Reasons, titled The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. In light of that, now would be a good time to dust off my review of 150 Reasons, which was intended for the old allpolyticsnow website before cluster, my conservative colleague, had a temper tantrum and unilaterally pulled the plug on it. Fortunately, I saved a draft of my review before he melted down.

Like its title suggests, 150 Reasons is a compendium of President Obama’s failings as viewed by Margolis and Noonan, backed by 511 footnotes to sources, the listing of which consumes 55 of the 274 pages. In the introduction, the authors state, “The goal of this book is make sure the truth about Obama’s record is not forgotten, so that history can make an honest, informed assessment of the Obama presidency… After Obama was reelected, we decided it was time to compile everything about Obama’s record that the media and academia chose to ignore (or cover up) so that the people could have all the facts in one place.”

Unfortunately, 150 Reasons is little more than a compendium, and as such, provides only a superficial survey of conservative criticisms of President Obama, real or imagined. The brevity of the book — most reasons are described in less than a page, some in just a single paragraph — means that there is virtually no analysis. Raw facts, such as the federal deficit for a given fiscal year, are presented with little or no context. The authors might argue that writing at length about each of their 150 reasons would have resulted in an impossibly unwieldy book, and that is true. But they would have been better served by emphasizing the quality of their arguments rather than the quantity of their reasons.

More problematic is the authors’ inherent biases, which lead them to uncritical and simplistic interpretations of events that unfailingly portray President Obama in the worst light, no matter how tenuous the connection, and at the exclusion of any other possibility. Allegations by conservative sources are treated as indisputable facts. Other points of view go unacknowledged. There is no consideration of the challenging circumstances confronting President Obama when he took office, such as the collapsing economy or the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The first reason in the book is titled Stimulus Failure. Of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Margolis and Noonan write, “All we got for our huge investment was a mountain of new debt, a long list of failed ‘green energy’ companies, an infrastructure that remains insufficient, and a ‘recovery’ adding fewer jobs than needed to keep up with population growth. To say Obama’s stimulus failed to deliver is a huge understatement.”

When President Obama took office in 2009, the economy was in free fall; something needed to be done. Yet, the authors fail to suggest any options that the president should have been taken. They fail to draw parallels to how other presidents handled similar circumstances, and they fail to acknowledge that the majority of economists at the time agreed–and still agree–that a stimulus was not only needed, but should have been larger than it actually was.

The authors also fail to consider the argument that President Obama’s response to the crisis may have done some good. A serious work on the subject could reasonably be expected to deal with the book The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era by Michael Grunwald, which is widely considered to be the most thorough book written thus far about the stimulus. Instead, Margolis and Noonan are content merely to recite the debt figures as sufficient analysis to make their point. On top of that, the authors actually praise President Bush’s 2008 stimulus (in reason 126) as a “bipartisan success” even though the economy collapsed just months later.

When the authors do attempt some analysis, their biases always lead them to interpretations most favorable to their thesis, with no acknowledgement of other possibilities or facts that might get in their way. An example is reason 20: Redefining Poverty, in which Margolis and Noonan charge that President Obama “changed the definition of poverty to ensure that no matter how rich we, as a people, become there will always be people in poverty needing a host of government services to tend to their needs.” Per the single footnote, their reasoning is entirely based on an hyperbolic opinion piece from the conservative website The Daily Caller.

It’s true that the federal government developed a Supplemental Poverty Measure, but it wasn’t intended to replace the official poverty measure, nor has it. According to the Census Bureau, “The new supplemental measure would be published initially in the fall of 2011 at the same time and detail as the 2010 income and poverty statistics that contain the official poverty measure, and annually thereafter” (emphasis added). Furthermore, as the Census Bureau documents, this is a process that has been going on since 1990, when Congress appropriated funds for “an independent scientific study of the concepts, measurement methods, and information needs for a poverty measure.” Those findings, reported by the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, proposed a relative poverty threshold which lead to the first supplemental poverty measures in 1999 and 2001. This wasn’t something that President Obama invented after inauguration day. One wishes that Margolis and Noonan would have conducted their research beyond a single opinion piece in The Daily Caller, but they don’t because doing so might have lead them to material that contradicts their pre-determined premise.

Anything that may be deemed a positive for President Obama is instead cast as a negative. In the book’s only acknowledgement that Obama ended the Iraq War (in reason 82: Higher Casualty Rate in Afghanistan), the authors simply complain, “on several occasions, he actually sent more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, and even to Turkey and Libya. While our troops were eventually pulled out of Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has not improved, and arguably has gotten worse.” Even the killing of Osama bin Ladin (reason 79) is turned into a negative. Ending America’s use of torture is not acknowledged at all. (The word “torture” only appears once in the main text, while describing a 14-year-old Christian girl who was tortured in Pakistan — a fate that the authors blame on Obama, of course, in reason 65: Ignoring Christian Oppression.)

Margolis and Noonan are schizophrenic when it comes to government spending. On the one hand, they blame President Obama entirely for increasing government spending and deficits (reason 19: Largest Deficits in History, reason 21: More Debt Than All Past Presidents… Combined). But they also blame him for cutting government expenditures (reasons 31: Skyrocketing College Costs, 41: Cutting Funding to Fight AIDS, 70: Cutting Military Benefits, and 72: Cutting Weapons Programs). And of course, they fail to acknowledge any conditions President Obama inherited that may have contributed to those deficits. (In their minds, doing so would be reason 121: Blaming Bush and Congress.)

The authors seem challenged to come up with 150 reasons. Some show up more than once, such as Obama’s Enemies List, which is the title of both reasons 106 and 108. A lack of transparency is the topic three times (reasons 30: Transparency Failure, 52: Lack of Health Care Transparency, and 116: The Not-So-Transparent Administration). In addition to the previously mentioned reasons 1, 19 and 21, Margolis and Noonan take yet another swing at spending in reason 149: The Four Trillion Dollar Man.

President Obama is blamed for events for which he had minimal control over, such as reason 3: Lower Wages For American Workers. The authors blame him for the Boston Marathon bombing (reason 150), writing, “what we do know at this time suggests that the Obama Administration could have prevented the tragedy that occurred on April 15, 2013.” Obama is assigned the entire blame for Partisanship in Congress (reason 126), even though it is a well-established fact that Republican Congressional leaders conspired to opposed every Obama initiative before he was even inaugurated.

Then we get into the truly silly reasons, like 37: Narcissist in Chief, in which President Obama supposedly honors the memory of American heroes with photos of himself. Or reason 43: Superstorm Sandy Photo Op, in which the authors claim that Obama’s response to the disaster amounted to little more than a “cool photo of himself with Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.” No doubt President Obama’s failure to properly salute every time he disembarks from Air Force One will make it into the new book. The authors often lapse into hyperbole, as in reason 135: The End Of Free Speech. (It must be a wonder to them that their book was allowed to be published at all.)

In reason 121: Blaming Bush And Congress, the authors complain, “Obama rarely took responsibility for his failures, but often took sole credit for accomplishments he should not have, like healing one of the victims of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado who had been shot in the head.” That is their over-the-top interpretation of something President Obama said during the second 2012 presidential debate:

QUESTION: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

OBAMA: We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves.

But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody. Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago, actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.

And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later, this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new.

But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.

Regarding the 511 footnotes, I did not attempt a thorough review of them all, taking at face value their veracity. But I was disappointed when the very first footnote I did attempt to verify didn’t pertain to the criticism raised by the authors. I refer to reason 24: Taxpayer Dollars For Hired Trolls, which consists of a single paragraph containing this allegation:

In 2009, it was revealed that Obama’s Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, was hiring bloggers to participate in a secret propaganda campaign by anonymously posting comments on newspaper websites with stories critical of Obama, Holder, and the Justice Department.

The lone footnote backing up this assertion is:

Ronn Torossian, “Millions Paid to Liberal Public Relations Firms,” Frontpage Magazine, 10/30/2012, (http://frontpagemag.com/2012/ronn-torossian/millions-paid-to-liberal-public-relations-firms/)

The article cited doesn’t refer to Eric Holder at all, nor does it talk about a secret propaganda campaign perpetrated by the Justice Department. Rather, it complains about “Liberal PR firms” making money “without oversight.” I’m not saying that Margolis and Noonan’s footnotes are fraudulent and I trust this is an innocent error. But even granting that, reason 24 is an example of how the authors uncritically accept “reporting” on conservatives websites as fact.

A little Internet searching reveals that in 2009 there was indeed chatter among conservatives about a so-called DOJ “Blog Squad.” These reports all lead back to a website called the Muffled Oar. It still exists, but the page that detailed the charges no longer does. So what we’re left with is an unsubstantiated rumor that was repeated by the conservative blogosphere (and denied by the Justice Department, though you wouldn’t know it by reading 150 Reasons). This, evidently, is enough for Margolis and Noonan to include it in their book as one of those facts the media doesn’t want the public to know about, complete with the authoritative stamp of an erroneous footnote. In short, one conservative blog makes unsubstantiated claims that are repeated by other conservatives until it becomes accepted fact. That’s not the stuff of a credible book.

Theses criticisms aside, ultimately the authors miss an opportunity for a truly interesting book by failing to compare the Obama administration to other presidencies — something you might expect from a book that claims he is the worst of all time. Rather, the authors simply assert that he is the worst, believing that their list makes it self-evident. Given that many historians believe that Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, was among the worst presidents ever, the authors might have directly compared their presidencies. Instead, we get veiled comparisons that amount to quibbling, such as defending Bush’s many trips to his ranch in Crawford, Texas while criticizing Obama’s vacations in reason 22: Taxpayer-Funded Vacations. (For the record, according to the acknowledged authority on such matters, CBS’ Mark Knoller, as of August 2013 President Obama has taken 14 vacations totaling all or part of 92 days. At the same time in his presidency, George Bush had made 57 trips to his ranch or his parents’ compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, amounting to more than a year’s worth of days.)

In summary, the authors fall victim to cliches that have dominated conservative media since Obama was elected, and readers who follow politics closely will easily recognize that. The result, then, is a book that may satisfy those who seek uncritical reinforcement of their strongly-held anti-Obama positions, but others looking for informed opinion and analysis will find little of value. (And this is reflected in the Amazon reviews, which consist only of one stars or five stars.)

Having said all that, the Amazon preview is more than enough for anyone to decide whether to buy 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is The Worst President In History.

Earlier this week, the Japan Meteorological Agency released its average global temperature data for 2014, which shows that globally last year was the hottest year, by far, in JMA’s 120 years of record-keeping. Nine of the ten hottest years recorded have occurred in the twenty-first century. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected release similar data soon.

Furthermore, there has been no “pause” in warming. Here is the chart from JMA of the average global temperature by year since 1891:

an_wld

Does that look like a pause to you? Didn’t think so. The trend line is obvious.

The fact is, “[T]here is broad agreement among climate scientists not only that climate change is real (a survey and a review of the scientific literature published say about 97 percent agree), but that we must respond to the dangers of a warming planet. If one is looking for real differences among mainstream scientists, they can be found on two fronts: the precise implications of those higher temperatures, and which technologies and policies offer the best solution to reducing, on a global scale, the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Michael Mann has written a paper for the scientific community, and others, about how special interests try to intimidate and discredit scientists. He calls it “the Serengeti strategy”:

Much as lions on the Serengeti seek out vulnerable zebras at the edge of a herd, special interests faced with adverse scientific evidence often target individual scientists rather than take on an entire scientific field at once. Part of the reasoning behind this approach is that it is easier to bring down individuals than an entire group of scientists, and it still serves the larger aim: to dismiss, obscure, and misrepresent well-established science and its implications. In addition, such highly visible tactics create an atmosphere of intimidation that discourages other scientists from conveying their research’s implications to the public. This “Serengeti strategy” is often employed wherever there is a strong and widespread consensus among the world’s scientists about the underlying cold, hard facts of a field, whether the subject be evolution, ozone depletion, the environmental impacts of DDT, the health effects of smoking, or human-caused climate change. The goal is to attack those researchers whose findings are inconvenient, rather than debate the findings themselves.

He goes on to say, “Many of the attacks have been aimed at undermining one of the scientific community’s great strengths—the trust that the public has in scientists as communicators and messengers. A poll conducted by Yale University and George Mason University indicated that climate scientists are the most trusted source of information about global warming for voting-age Americans (Yale Project, 2012). This is in line with a number of polls regarding science that have been conducted over the years, which consistently show that the public ranks scientists near the top for trustworthiness (Pew Research Center, 2009)—while they put members of Congress, TV reporters, and used-car salesmen near the bottom. (At the very bottom are lobbyists, who have only a 6 percent approval rating for honesty and ethics (Gallup, 2014)). In their effort to discredit the genuine science behind climate change, fossil fuel interests and their front groups have sought to undermine that trust in science and scientists.”

The full paper is worth a read.

Meanwhile, a perfect example of an individual with an agenda–in this case, an ideological one–is Blogs For Victory’s Mark Noonan, who continues with his on-going series of “global warming hoax” updates. In his latest post, Noonan latches onto an article alerting readers to the fact that “two rounds of Arctic cold will move through much of the U.S. this week.” To Noonan, this isn’t a temporary weather phenomenon; it’s further proof that global warming is a hoax. Clearly, like his favorite conservative politicians, Noonan isn’t a scientist.

Don’t be fooled by the clowns who live on Frozen Pond, Indiana. They can’t be bothered to look any further than their own backyard because ideology. Instead, they are convinced that cold Midwest winters prove there is no global warming. They don’t.

The real “hoax” in the “global warming hoax” is the one being perpetrated by individuals and organizations who attempt to discredit science and scientists for their own personal gain or agendas. It’s really pretty simple.

An Empty Vessel

Posted: April 9, 2014 by Marner in Free Speech, Politics
Tags: , ,

Recently Mark Noonan at Blogs for Victory wrote a post titled, When Fighting the Left, Never Give an Inch. While the version he posted on his web site was disturbing enough, the early version that went to his RSS feed was even more so. Mark displayed his true character in this post. He is not the virtuous man acting on heart-felt principle, as he has portrayed himself to be. He is nothing more than an extreme partisan hack utterly lacking in principle.

Mark starts off saying that seeing Cindy and Meghan McCain in the NoH8 ad campaign let him know that the “liberal fascists” used it to show that anyone who supports gay rights believes him to be a hate-filled bigot. In Mark’s mind, the McCains are liberal fascists, and the purpose of the NoH8 campaign was the exact opposite of what it advertised. To him, it was to foment hate against those who oppose equal rights for gays. In the original version of his post, Mark wrote:

I bring this up because in the Mozilla case, we can now all see what I perceived years ago – that hatred and a desire to suppress dissent is the motivating drive behind the left’s campaign for same-sex marriage. And that is always what motivates all leftwing activities: hatred and a desire to suppress.

Mark believes that attempts to gain equal treatment for people are driven by hate, while denigrating and relegating that group to a second-class citizen status are actions ordained by God.

The next part that Mark replaced in his post was this:

It would be one thing, for instance, if you got a Republican governor and Republican State legislature to enact same-sex marriage, quite another if you blithely allowed a leftist pressure group to find a leftist judge to impose it on a State.  In that case, if you want to be a Republican and still want to be in favor of same sex marriage, then your actual task would be to immediately propose a State Constitutional amendment specifically voiding such a judicial decision.  This would, of course, immediately get you labelled by the left as a homophobic bigot, no matter how often you protested that you are in favor of same-sex marriage.  This is because, once again, the left isn’t in it to get gay people married, but to get people they hate suppressed – and this very much includes you, Mr and Mrs Conservative same-sex marriage proponent.  They might not direct hate at you at the moment, but that is only because you are helping the haters advance the cause to the point where everyone they hate can be suppressed.  Just because they are attacking Evangelicals and Catholics as homophobic bigots and lauding you for your advanced thinking doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you in the Gulag. Your space is already reserved – and they’ll get you there all the easier once all those troublesome social conservatives are forced into silence because they are, in the public mind, hated as much as the segregationists of yore are hated today.

If a person is in favor of same-sex marriage, they generally believe it to be unconstitutional to deny gays that right. For Mark, it is virtuous for a Republican to act in direct contradiction to this belief by proposing a state Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage even if you believe that amendment would be unconstitutional. He also believes it is one thing for a Republican governor and legislature to pass a law approving gay marriage, but makes no mention of the validity of that law if passed by a Democratic governor and legislature. Mark believes laws are only valid when passed and enacted by Republicans.

Mark finishes his original posting with this gem:

Never give an inch. If a leftist wants to do something, immediately refuse to do it. Even if you think its a good idea. Find something else to do, instead. Put the onus on the left – demand of them that in return for your assistance in advancing a leftist ideal that they help you advance a conservative or libertarian ideal. Lots of luck with that, of course – but it at least allows you to still proclaim your support for this or that non-conservative cause while also not helping the left to destroy part of conservatism in preparation for destroying you. Fight the left. Fight them all the time. Fight them on every issue. Concede nothing. Because if you don’t, then you are partnering up with people who will destroy you.

This shows Mark’s true character. He does not believe in acting on principled beliefs, because he has none. He believes a man’s highest calling is to simply oppose anything a liberal does or says. This man is a hypocrite who laments a company removing their CEO, while calling for a purge of all liberal government employees. This is a man with no character, no principle, and a bit of delusion. He uses this canard that liberals are evil and driven by hate to foment hate among his own side. These are the declarations of a man who believes in nothing more than his own political party. In other words, an empty vessel.