Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday Grab Bag

These are some things I've bookmarked in the past month. The subjects are global warming, rooting for the other side, and "Crunchy Cons."

Arnold Kling has had more to say about global warming:

Much, much more of the human activity that would cause global warming has occurred in the last 20 years than took place between 1900 and 1940. Also, much, much more of the greenhouse gas layer on earth consists of either water vapor or pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide.

Thus, the link between human activity and global warming depends not on simple, obvious relationships in the data. It depends entirely on climate models of how these tiny (relative to the overall volume of greenhouse gases) human activities produce "feedback loops" on the rest. They are models of how much less than one percent of a phenomenon affects the entire phenomenon. They are much more faith-based than empirical.

It is possible that the models underestimate human-caused global warming. However, I believe that this is far less likely than that they over-estimate the human causal factor.

I believe that average temperatures have been rising. I have no reason to believe that they will stop rising. However, the most sensible position an empiricist can take is that human activity is not going to make much difference to global warming, one way or the other.

(An archive of related posts by Kling is here.)

Mike Rappaport wrote about the immorality of rooting for the other side:

[T]he more important point from [Michael Barone's] article is how strong a case he makes for the moral impropriety of the Democrats' behavior. Here is Barone's description [redacted by LC]:

A substantial part of the Democratic Party, some of its politicians and many of its loudest supporters do not want America to succeed in Iraq. . . .

Successes are discounted, setbacks are trumpeted, the level of American casualties is treated as if it were comparable to those in Vietnam or World War II. Allegations of American misdeeds are repeated over and over; the work of reconstruction and aid of American military personnel and civilians is ignored.

In all this they have been aided and abetted by large elements of the press. . . .

. . . One or two instances of American misconduct are found equal in the balance to a consistent and premeditated campaign of barbarism.

. . . I am not saying that all critics of the war or the Bush Administration fall into this camp. There are many legitimate criticisms of the war. But such legitimate criticisms do not include rooting for the other side -- including rooting that one does internally but does not admit to most other people.

There was plenty of this during the Cold War, which was reprehensible enough, but at least those people had convinced themselves that communism was not really bad. Few on the left believe that Islamo Facism is desirable.

There was plenty of rooting for the other side during the Vietnam War, as well. And look where it got us. An (initially) unnecessary war was (unnecessarily) lost, and thus America continued its downward spiral into defeatism, from which it has yet to recover fully.

Related to that, read this, by Austin Bay, about the publication by The New York Times and other papers of classified information about the war on terror. Bay concludes:

[S]ome headlines hurt – they damage our government’s Job One: national security. Perhaps the Times’ editors don’t believe we are engaged in a global counter-terror war against Islamo-fascism. We are. At one time there was hole in south Manhattan they could not ignore. . . . For America’s economic and media elites the war has been easy. . . . The US military has served with great distinction, despite major media attempts to “My Lai” Abu Ghraib and now Haditha. Moral compromise in war is inevitable; compromising legitimate intellgence operations is not. History may well conclude this is a war that didn’t need America’s media elites, and perhaps that suspicion curdles the gut of a couple of New York Times bigshots.

Jeffrey Tucker reviewed Rod Dreher's book Crunchy Cons. Here are excerpts of Tucker's review:

Dreher seems untroubled by serious issues of economics and politics. He has not put much thought into the political or the economic implications of what he writes. He is not the slightest bit curious about what his vision for his life and yours means for society at large. Though he imagines himself as a rebel against mass consumption, he seems completely unaware that he is purchasing his lifestyle choice just like everyone else, and that the market he loathes is precisely what makes his choice possible.

For those who haven't read about this new approach to conservative living, here is a quick primer. Dreher follows in a long line of writers dating back to the Industrial Revolution — and a certain strain of post WW2 conservative writers — who loath consumer culture, believe that mass production for the masses is sheer corruption, that free trade is deracinating us all from praiseworthy national attachments, that machines destroy souls, and that capitalism is the enemy of faith because it fuels change and progress. Dreher reports with disgust that America has become one big shopping mall populated by people driven by spiritually barren materialist motives who buy buy buy goods and services of shoddy quality to feed their frenzied desire to live decadently while eschewing friends, community, family, and faith.

And make no mistake: it is the free market that is his target. He even says that "the place of the free market in society" is precisely where he departs with regular conservatives (who he wrongly assumes love the market).

We should go another way, says he. We should cook at home, turn off the television, have kids, educate them at home, buy organic veggies, eat free-range chickens, bike not drive, buy from small shops and never Wal-Mart, live in cottages rather than gated communities, buy old homes and fix them up, and you know the rest of the story. . . .

It never occurs to the author that his crunchy way of living is a consumable good — nay, a luxury good — made possible by the enormous prosperity that permit intellectuals like him to purport to live a high-minded and old-fashioned lifestyle without the problems that once came with pre-capitalist living. . . .

[W]hat we have here is a grab bag of weakly argued policies to support his particular lifestyle, which he is not content to live on his own but rather wants to see legislated as a national program. Never mind whether any of this stuff is consistent or what the consequences would be.

For more about "Crunchy Conservatism," try these links, which I've been hoarding:

The "Crunchy Con" manifesto

A (defunct) blog by and about "Crunchy Cons"

Three posts at Right Reason (here, here, and here)

A review of Crunchy Cons at RedState

A three-part series at The Remedy (here, here, and here) about how "Crunchies seem to misunderstand the relation and distinction between politics and culture; they seem to misunderstand the true principles and ends of the American regime in which they live."