Mittwoch, November 29, 2006

A Simple Sentence...

Normally I enjoy reading Martin Wolf in the FT. This is his most recent column, unfortunately behind the usual subscription barrier.

But there is one sentence that underscores how wrong he is here.

"Gerhard Schröder could not have won an election in 2002 on an anti-American platform if the German people's confidence in the US had not been undermined."

Sorry, this is absurd.

Gerhard Schröder won the election based on his anti-American platform, a platform that was able to take advantage of literally decades of anti-American propaganda that Schröder most cycnically used, playing a receptive population. Not because of something that Bush did - here the usual demonization of Bush sets in, yawn - but the result of taking an existing resentment and deliberately, cynically destroying what had been a decades-long partnership in security affairs by offering it as a sacrifice to the gods of democracy, by appealing to the resentment of the German voter, especially in the East, to the US as an economic, political and military power.

I live in Germany and have done so pretty much solidly since 1980. That's 26 years, and back then already German anti-Americanism was rampant on universities, driven largely by East German financed "student" groups, who were being paid to mount black propaganda according to their SED and KGB masters. It was also wide-spread in the SPD, Schröder's party, and of course amongst the Greens.

Schröder's blatant and deliberate populism served one purpose only: to get him elected. For that reason he was more than willing to declare Germany to be a radically pacifistic state, one that would fail to shoulder its responsibilities in the world arena, sacrificing principle for short-term political gain.

The damage that Schröder has caused to the US-German relationship will take more than a decade to repair. It wasn't Bush's doing. The blame here lies squarly on Schröder.

Mittwoch, November 15, 2006

Reality intrudes...

Been quiet here. As I've said before, reality intrudes...

First the election in the US: for me it was a disappointment, but the US voting population made its decision and that's all that matters. Interesting to note that many, many races were very close indeed, and that the Democrats have in many cases not the mandate that they hoped for, but rather have taken the Congress with very thin majorities. Hey, they're still majorities, that's all that counts at the end of the day. But if the morons of MoveOn and the other left-wing loonies think that this election means the nation is moving massively to the left, they're hoping for a fantasy world that doesn't exist. The nation rejected Republican representation and have sent Democrats to represent them in the US system of government: the President has two years to work with them and we all have two years to judge them by their deeds. The Democrats now have the chance to walk the walk after the years of talking, and I venture to guess that history will judge them harshly if they start doing what their supporters desperately want them to do.

Makes the upcoming next two years even more interesting than they would have been otherwise. The Democrats will also be held to account now: given the appalling shape of their leadership, this will hurt them significantly more than they think in 2008. The Democrat dream team is probably Clinton/Obama: the Republican dream team might be Guiliani/McCain.

Second, the Stern report came out.

I haven't had the time to read it, so I won't comment on the content as such.

But I will comment on a) timing and b) political motivation.

The timing was well done, with the US election coming up and the current political infighting in the UK.

Which brings the political motivation, which Stern doesn't hide. His goal is to justify action. His motives may be pure - I'm willing to give him that benefit of a doubt - but I'm with Lombard here: given the limited resources, what do we do to have the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people? Stern et al argue that we **must** spend vast amounts NOW NOW NOW and that failing to do so will condemn humanity and destroy the world.

Sorry. Been there, done that, use the T-Shirt to polish the car nowadays.

In the words of Joshka Fischer: "Sorry, but I am not convinced."


Because of the same reasons that Fischer wasn't convinced. The step is too large to take without more evidence.

I forecast for a living and having been doing it for more than 20 years now. That's right, 20 years. I know what a forecast can bring and what it can't: what the activist and the kool-aide drinkers claim cannot be supported on the basis of forecasts. The margins of error are too large in and of themselves: add to that the large-scale specification problems that all published models have to deal with (cloud coverage, solar variance, etc), and it all adds up to something that is so vague and non-quantifiable that then to publish forecasts with a variance range that includes decimal points is nothing more than a huge display of hubris amongst the modelers.

If anyone - anyone - tells you a forecast that shows three-digit accuracy after the decimal, ignore it. A good forecaster will tell you that GDP, for instance, will grow between 2-3%; a bad forecaster will tell you it will grow 3.21%.

Sure, the numbers all forecasters store in their forecast database are detailed out to 15 digits after the decimal, but that is meaningless: the numbers are stored in that accuracy because the software demands it, not because the forecasts are that accurate.

That is why Kyoto is a farce: the proposed reduction in modelled temperatures is a small fraction of a degree of temperature. Sorry, that answer lies within the statistical error if the forecasters are being honest (which they are not: research into global warming is now a major source of money, and only a fool thinks that climate scientists are honest, independent, objective observers with no exterior motives: peer-reviewing becomes a joke when you stack the deck of peers...).

Stern's take is a tad more honest: from what I've seen of the summaries, it does show huge ranges of variance. This is in and of itself problematic: his deliberate use of only the most negative scenarios is, however, the key to understanding the significance of this report.

Which is to increase the number of kool-aid drinkers and defend the true believers from the apostasy of blasphemers.

More on anti-americanism in the wake of the elections coming up next...