Friday, June 29, 2007

Mooning Darfur

This is one of those things you have to read to believe. From an opinion piece in the Washington Post by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon:
"Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.

Two decades ago, the rains in southern Sudan began to fail. According to U.N. statistics, average precipitation has declined some 40 percent since the early 1980s. Scientists at first considered this to be an unfortunate quirk of nature. But subsequent investigation found that it coincided with a rise in temperatures of the Indian Ocean, disrupting seasonal monsoons. This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming.

It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought.

Yes folks, GLOBAL WARMING CAUSED DARFUR!!! (I can't make this stuff up.)

Fred Thompson had the following response to Moon in Fred's radio editorial yesterday:
"Why, then, would the new UN Secretary General blame climate change? I think it’s pretty obvious.

Blaming the Islamic government and groups that have manipulated events in Sudan will get him nothing but enemies. Blaming global warming, however, is basically the same thing as blaming America. America is by no means the only major source of greenhouse gases, but we've taken the most political heat. The reason is that congress rightfully balked at ratifying the Kyoto international climate treaties during the Clinton presidency.

There is simply no downside to blaming America, because Americans don't punish their ideological foes. From the UN, we don't even require sanity sometimes. And there might even be an upside to blaming us, since there are Americans who suffer from such ingrained feelings of guilt, they’ll support increased aid to both the UN and Sudan.

There is a lesson to be learned here, though. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is arguably the most powerful man in the international community today. We know he's unwilling to blame those who actually gave the orders to commit genocide in Darfur. And apparently he's happy to shift the blame for ongoing deaths to those living peaceful, productive lives in the West.

Now hopefully we can work toward international cooperation with regard to environmental policies that make sense. It’s not very encouraging though when the head of the world’s leading international body uses climate change as an all purpose excuse in order to avoid hard realities.

The great irony which Fred misses is that Moon's editorial doesn't mention solving Global Warming as a means to solve Darfur. The closest Moon comes to it is:
"Ultimately, however, any real solution to Darfur's troubles involves sustained economic development. Precisely what shape that might take is unclear. But we must begin thinking about it. New technologies can help, such as genetically modified grains that thrive in arid soils or new irrigation and water storage techniques."

In other words, Moon thinks Global Warming is here to stay, and Darfur needs to learn to deal with it. I wonder if Moon would say the same thing to the rest of the world?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Federalist Fred eats a Tort

It appears Fred Thompson is starting to show what his agenda will be as president, and that agenda is decidedly federalist.

In his radio commentary yesterday, Fred was applauding the state of Texas for their solution to rising medical malpractice insurance rates (bold parts added by me):
"Out-of-control medical malpractice lawsuits have been a problem in many parts of the country for a long time. Malpractice insurance costs can be driven so high, that doctors and insurance companies flee to more reasonable business climates. With too few doctors, it’s the patients who suffer the most.

In the past, those who want to solve this problem have tended to ignore our Federalist tradition. They've driven right past their state houses to their airports and flown to Washington to ask for national legal remedies. Fortunately, now we're seeing that states can take effective action themselves.

Only a few years ago, Texas was losing doctors fast. Rising malpractice insurance rates were fueling what analysts called a crisis. In some parts of the state, emergency wards were closing and residents were facing long trips for even basic medical care. The doctors who were most likely to leave the state were those hit hardest by malpractice insurance premiums -- the "high risk" specialists such as neurosurgeons, cardiologists and obstetricians.

Then, in 2003, Texas passed Prop 12, capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits to $750,000. $250,000 of that applied to physicians. There were no limits put on damages for medical expenses or economic expenses such as past and future lost income.

At the time, there were only four insurance companies left in Texas willing to cover doctors, and they were scheduling rate increases. Now 30 insurers are doing business in the Lone Star State and others are moving into the market. Rates have fallen on an average of more than 20 percent. Malpractice lawsuits have fallen 50 percent,

So many doctors have now requested Texas medical licenses that thousands are backlogged and an emergency appropriations was passed to help the Texas Medical Board speed up their processing. Now, other states are considering similar legislation to stop the loss of their own doctors to Texas. I consider this a small but important victory for the principles of Federalism.

Mind you, Fred is not opposed to federal solutions where needed. Back on May 24th in his radio commentary, Fred had this to say about medical records:
If a used car salesman can check your credit in minutes, doctors ought to be able to pull up your vital records. If you can trade stocks online, doctors ought to be able to chart blood pressure or cholesterol levels over the years instead of making decisions based on a couple of recent readings. If the police can find outstanding parking ticket in seconds, emergency medical workers should be able to get information to save your life, or your child's, as easily. If you can access your bank account online, you ought to be able to check your own medical records, and fix them if they're wrong.

President Bush has been asking for such a system, with proper privacy protections, since he took office. Last year, both the senate and the house passed bipartisan bills designed to help bring our medical records into the modern era, but the differences between the two versions were never reconciled and nothing came of them.

It's pretty clear that this is one of those wheels that isn't going to get any grease until it starts squeaking.

The fact that Fred is not opposed to federal solutions, where they are called for, is important to consider within the framework of tort law.

Back in April, Ramesh Ponnuru over at National Review took Fred to task for his views on tort reform:
"Thompson didn’t oppose all types of tort reform, as some outlets have reported. When President Clinton vetoed the Securities Litigation Reform Act, Thompson voted to override the veto. (John McCain voted with Clinton.) After Sept. 11, he voted to protect businessmen from liability for terrorist attacks. And he voted for class-action reform, too.

On some issues, however, he voted against tort reform. In most of these cases, he objected to the reform on federalist grounds. For example, he voted against a federal reform of medical malpractice law, arguing that states should enact any needed reforms. There is a strong argument for Thompson’s position. If a state makes it too easy to sue doctors, most of the costs of that policy will fall on the state’s own residents. Doctors, especially in specialties that tend to draw litigation, may leave the state for more welcoming jurisdictions. So there is a built-in incentive for states to get the policy right.

But sometimes the incentives don’t line up so conveniently. The worst jurisdictions effectively set product-liability law for the entire country, because they apply their standards to companies everywhere. The litigation explosion is a symptom of a breakdown of federalism, which wasn’t meant to let the judges of Madison County, Illinois, regulate interstate commerce.

While Fred did respond to Ponnuru, his response did not get to the heart of Ponnuru's argument, specifically about product-liability law in the last paragraph above. Fred's response:
"That's why I suggested to Mr. Ponnuru that if conservatives use Federalism as a tool with which to reward our friends and strike our enemies, instead of treating it as a valued principle, we are doing a disservice to our country -- as well as to the cause of conservatism."

Fred also responded to Ponnuru on the National Review website, and again did NOT respond to the product-liability issue.

(Ponnuru responded to Fred's response, although Ponnuru did not bring up the issue again either, unfortunately.)

When lawyers farms localities, looking for the most favorable place to file a product-liability lawsuit, are they not, in effect, performing interstate commerce?

Fred needs to be careful about how he applies the federalist principle. If he is willing to accept federal oversight of medical records, but NOT federal product-liability tort reform, then he runs the risk of appearing sympathetic to tort lawyers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Forget Global Warming

The other day, I jokingly made a comment over on my blog buddy Myrhaf's site:

I feel pretty safe making that prediction.

Sometimes, I can be downright omniscient, even in jest.

Today, I read an article over at by Timothy Patterson (who is "professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University"). Apparently, Global Warming is NOT what we have to worry about:
"Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments."

Mind you, I am NOT hopping aboard the Global Cooling bandwagon yet, because, as Dr. Patterson says:
"Meantime, we need to continue research into [climate change]...and immediately halt wasted expenditures on the King Canute-like task of "stopping climate change."

On a related note, Myrhaf's post, on which I commented, was about a website which is pointing out flaws in temperature measuring stations. One post by Anthony Watts at specifically compares two temperature measuring stations and their results. One station, which has seen a lot of human construction around it, including a parking lot, a cell tower, and even a barbecue grill, shows steady warming over the last century. The scary thing Watts points out about the station:
"The data from this station is part of the USHCN (US Historical Climatological Network) and is used in the computer modeling used to predict climate change."

The other station, which is out in the middle of nowhere and has been for the last century, shows an initial drop followed by relatively consistent temperatures.

In other words, the argument for man-made Global Warming does have some validity. Through human construction and activity, we are affecting the temperature measurements.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Funny

A precious little girl walks into a pet shop and asks, in the sweetest little lisp, between two missing teeth,

"Excuthe me, mithter, do you keep widdle wabbits?"

As the shopkeeper's heart melts, he gets down on his knees so that he's on her level and asks,

"Do you want a widdle white wabbit, or a thoft and fuwwy bwack wabbit, or maybe one like that cute widdle bwown wabbit over there?"

She, in turn, blushes, rocks on her heels, puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and says, in a tiny quiet voice,

"I don't think my python weally gives a thit."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Parsing Fred

Over at, Chris Cillizza has parsed the recent presidential poll numbers, and come to the following conclusion about Fred Thompson:
"All of the numbers seem to bear out the conventional wisdom surrounding Thompson's candidacy -- that he is the most electable conservative in the race."

Strong words indeed. But not everyone is so enthusiastic about Fred.

In an editorial on Newsweek, George Will had this to say about Fred:
"So far, Thompson is 99 percent charm."

While Will takes the view that the Thompson campaign is all charm, no substance, I am not so sure.

If you take the time to read Fred's blogs over at, you will see Fred has a solid foundation of political beliefs (whether you as an individual agree with them is another matter).

For me, the question about Fred is: What are his solutions to the problems? He defines problems well, in a way which I agree 100%. But what will he do as president to solve the problems?

I have my toe on the Thompson bandwagon. As soon as he presents some solutions, I may jump on the rest of the way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't mess with the herd...

This is one of those things you have to see to believe. Lions and crocs and buffalo, oh my!

Special thanks to Myrhaf and NoodleFood for this one.