And to our Right…

A gentleman from Lahaina is evidently unhappy with the results of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, listing six promises he feels the President hasn’t kept. Frankly, these are the same ‘ol, and my actual gripe is that the tone of the letter lacked evidence of a mature mind. As a self improvement exercise, I suggest that the writer:

1. Grow up. I’ll assume you’ve lived through a few Administrations by now, and know enough to realize that the Second Coming won’t arrive via the Electoral College.

2. Not cherry-pick the inevitable broken or compromised promises, but keep track of them all, and weigh the result.

hello-kitty ar-15

Hello Kitty AR-15,
originally uploaded by D-Brown!.

A gentleman from Lahaina wrote in to castigate columnist Tom Stevens regarding his September 9th “Shave Ice” piece as a “liberal tirade full of inaccurate statements.”

The correspondent’s primary concern was over Mr. Stevens dismay at the open display of firearms at various public events held by the President in Arizona and New Hampshire, while broad-brushing the other issues Mr. Stevens raised regarding “Tea Party” tactics.

Other than that Mr. Stevens mistook an AR-15 for an AK-47, his points seemed to hit the nail on the head. The Tea Party-goers and the like have used lies and outrageous hyperbole to characterize the current Congress and Administration’s health care and tax proposals. The message I’m getting from the national GOP and its “useful idiots” is that truth is secondary when you’re trying to win. It’s useful to know that honesty is liable to be optional if doing business with – for instance – the guy running the Maui Tea Party website.

Yes, Arizona and New Hampshire are open carry states, and while a resident of Tucson, I periodically exercised my rights. However, I recognize that the -only- point of exercising that right at a political event is to intimidate the participants. Over what, universal health care? Really? If the writer and his peers were honest, they’d push their attacks to their logical conclusion, and call for the elimination of Medicare, Medicaid, and – to make a clean sweep of it – Social Security.

But, he won’t, because he knows these are all popular and useful programs, and that his party would get absolutely hammered if it tried.

Last week, we had two correspondents chime in on the subject of climate change, each featuring favored skeptics in academia. A gentleman from Hana references a Dr. Nicholas Drapela, currently an instructor at OSU, and a report from Dr. Alan Carlin from the EPA, while a gentleman from  Wailuku highlights a Dr. Richard Siegmund Lindzen of MIT.

Dr. Drapela’s skepticism rests on two pillars: that he thinks Dr. James Hansen of NASA is over the top regarding his position on climate change, and that research shows CO2 levels rising behind (and presumably in response to) rising temperatures over the last 400,000 years. While there’s no accounting for his feelings regarding Dr. Hansen, his CO2 level analysis is a failure. Previous warming phases preceded the Industrial Revolution, and there was no claim that CO2 caused them. Today, CO2 levels have climbed to levels beyond the recorded natural cycle, and it leads the trend of rising temperatures.

Dr. Lindzen’s climate change skepticism also has a couple of weaknesses. First, his criticisms seem to rest largely on his mistrust of computer climate models, while neglecting the actual data collected in the field. Dr. Lindzen also been on retainer to ExxonMobil. The corporation hired the same firms that organized the tobacco industry’s long battle to unlink tobacco consumption from disease, and redeployed them with millions of dollars to create the appearance of significant debate over the science of climate change.

Dr. Alan Carlin is an economist at the EPA. He gained notice from a climate denial report he prepared on his own time, and submitted to the EPA panel tasked with drafting a new policy on CO2. They reviewed the report, found it to be unsound and told Carlin to get back to doing his real job.

A commenter found my statement that the modern day increase in CO2 levels leads the global temperature increase to be “quite amazing”. I find it quite obvious.

Global Temperature & CO2 Levels (1959 = 100)

Global Temperature & CO2 Levels (1959 = 100)

Chart data sources:

There was nothing accidental about the anti-healthcare reform letters that started bombarding the paper this August. While the Democratic Party was busy working on legislation, the GOP was working on how best to lie about it. One guess as to which one was faster getting the word out to the troops (among them a former neighbor), who chimed in with inaccurate views of what’s been proposed. I pray that theirs were legitimate personal concerns, not just talking points from the various right wing mail lists.

I joined in with a letter to the editor of my own, and consider knocking out a few more. But, I set aside the ego for a moment, and wondered what I was hoping to accoplish. Hawaii’s Congressional Caucus is solidly behind healthcare reform with a public insurance option, and a few Republican activists aren’t going to change their minds. The point is to do my part to ensure there isn’t just one point of view being represented, and fortunately the overall tone of other letters late in the month is leaning pro-health reform.

A related thought: despite the videos distributed by the Maui Tea Party guy in Haiku, if Mazie Hirono organized a “town hall” meeting on Maui, I don’t think our local hell raisers in training would have the guts to pull off the shout-down-the-speaker bit. When there’s only one degree of separation from just about anyone you haven’t met, polite discourse is key (to avoid getting your okole verbally handed to you afterward).

There are a few correspondents whose opinions I object to, yet whose letters are so trite that I usually resist the temptation to do anything more than snort at the page. However, Ray Pezzoli, formerly of Kihei, but evidently now spending most of his time in Avila Beach, CA, was working his way right up to my threshold after series of recent letters that made it clear that with Ray, President Obama is damned whatever he does. Doesn’t Pismo Beach have a local rag he can write to? Why does he still bother the rest of us with his opinions?

I drafted a response, but stayed my hand from clicking the “send” button, least I use up my unstated quota of letters on something so manini. Fortunately, Alain Mei sent in a response that hit the nail on the head, while being much more civil than my unsent draft.