Posts tagged ‘Mike Gravel’

Gas Pricing Thought for the Day

Today I was working on a bid for a retail concession in a county park in California.  In these bids we usually promise a set percentage of sales as rent in exchange for the concession and use of certain fixed assets.  One of our standard clauses is to exempt gasoline sales (if there are any) from this rent calculation, because gas sales are so horribly low margin.  Considering the licensing, environmental, and safety issues, gasoline is always a money loser for us that we offer either a) because it is expected, as in the case at large marinas or b) because it gets people in the door to buy other stuff.  And I sell gas in rural areas where I have less price competition than in cities.

It is for this reason that I am always flabbergasted at how much time and attention the government and media tend to pay to retail gasoline pricing.  The portion of my business that is clearly the worst, most unprofitable piece, so much so I have to make special contract provisions for it, gets all the attention for price gouging.   It's like the FEC dedicating most of its labor to investigating Mike Gravel's campaign donations.  I mean, why bother, there's nothing there.

Don't Ever Lend Money to Politicians

I don't have a problem with someone who has had a bankruptcy in the past.  Bankruptcy is not some Scarlet B that should ruin one for life.  Ideally, its bad enough that folks should want to avoid it but forgiving enough that people can move on and get a fresh start.  Via TJIC

"¦ moderator Tim Russert asked former senator Mike Gravel about Gravel's
somewhat troubled financial history. A condominium business started by
Gravel went bankrupt, and Gravel himself once declared personal
bankruptcy. "How can someone who did not take care of his business,
could not manage his personal finances, say that he is capable of
managing the country?" Russert asked.

Here would be my answer:  "Bankruptcy does not necessarily mean that one has managed finances poorly or that one is somehow guilty of malfeasance.  It can mean those things, but it can also mean that one took a risk on a business vision, did the best job possible, but the vision turned out to somehow be wrong.  Some of the greatest names in American business backed Internet ventures that went bankrupt.  Some were just poorly managed, but many just made poor bets as to what would and would not work over the internet.  When people look at Enron, they assume that there must have been malfeasance for the company to go bankrupt.  And while folks were indeed breaking some laws there, those actions had nothing to do with Enron's bankruptcy.  Enron died because they made some huge bets on things like broadband that didn't pan out."

Here, in contrast, is Gravel's response:

"Well, first off, if you want to make a judgment of who can be the
greediest people in the world when they get to public office, you can
just look at the people up here," Gravel said in a nod to his fellow
candidates.

"Now, you say the condo business," he continued. "I
will tell you, Donald Trump has been bankrupt 100 times. So I went
bankrupt once in business.

Doesn't this guy sound like some overweight guy wearing a wife-beater and sitting in his trailer with a cheap beer watching a baseball game on his old black and white TV, railing against all the rich guys that never gave him a chance?  But the best is yet to come:

who did I bankrupt? I stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 worth of bills, and they deserved it "“ "

People in the audience began to laugh.

"They
deserved it," Gravel repeated, "and I used the money to finance the
empowerment of the American people with a national initiative."

That sound you hear is the dying gasps of individual responsibility.  And what the hell is that last part about "empowerment of the American people?"  Sounds like Gravel is channeling Lee Hunsacker.

Don't Ever Lend Money to Politicians

I don't have a problem with someone who has had a bankruptcy in the past.  Bankruptcy is not some Scarlet B that should ruin one for life.  Ideally, its bad enough that folks should want to avoid it but forgiving enough that people can move on and get a fresh start.  Via TJIC

"¦ moderator Tim Russert asked former senator Mike Gravel about Gravel's
somewhat troubled financial history. A condominium business started by
Gravel went bankrupt, and Gravel himself once declared personal
bankruptcy. "How can someone who did not take care of his business,
could not manage his personal finances, say that he is capable of
managing the country?" Russert asked.

Here would be my answer:  "Bankruptcy does not necessarily mean that one has managed finances poorly or that one is somehow guilty of malfeasance.  It can mean those things, but it can also mean that one took a risk on a business vision, did the best job possible, but the vision turned out to somehow be wrong.  Some of the greatest names in American business backed Internet ventures that went bankrupt.  Some were just poorly managed, but many just made poor bets as to what would and would not work over the internet.  When people look at Enron, they assume that there must have been malfeasance for the company to go bankrupt.  And while folks were indeed breaking some laws there, those actions had nothing to do with Enron's bankruptcy.  Enron died because they made some huge bets on things like broadband that didn't pan out."

Here, in contrast, is Gravel's response:

"Well, first off, if you want to make a judgment of who can be the
greediest people in the world when they get to public office, you can
just look at the people up here," Gravel said in a nod to his fellow
candidates.

"Now, you say the condo business," he continued. "I
will tell you, Donald Trump has been bankrupt 100 times. So I went
bankrupt once in business.

Doesn't this guy sound like some overweight guy wearing a wife-beater and sitting in his trailer with a cheap beer watching a baseball game on his old black and white TV, railing against all the rich guys that never gave him a chance?  But the best is yet to come:

who did I bankrupt? I stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 worth of bills, and they deserved it "“ "

People in the audience began to laugh.

"They
deserved it," Gravel repeated, "and I used the money to finance the
empowerment of the American people with a national initiative."

That sound you hear is the dying gasps of individual responsibility.  And what the hell is that last part about "empowerment of the American people?"  Sounds like Gravel is channeling Lee Hunsacker.

Letter to Newsweek

Editors-

Oh, the delicious irony.

As a skeptic of catastrophic man-made global warming, I was disturbed to see that Newsweek in its August 13, 2007 issue (The Truth About Denial)
had equated me with a Holocaust denier.  There are so many interesting
scientific issues involved in climate change that it was flabbergasting
to me that Newsweek would waste time on an extended ad hominem
attack against one side in a scientific debate.  I was particularly
amazed that Newsweek would accuse the side of the debate that is
outspent 1000:1 with being tainted by money.  This is roughly
equivalent to arguing that Mike Gravel's spending is corrupting the
2008 presidential election.

However, fate does indeed have a sense of humor.  Skeptics' efforts of the sort Newsweek derided just this week
forced NASA-Goddard (GISS) to revise downward recent US temperature
numbers due to a programming mistake that went unidentified for
years, in part because NASA's taxpayer-paid researchers refuse to
release their temperature adjustment and aggregation methodology to the
public for scrutiny.  The problem was found by a chain of events that
began with amateur volunteers and led ultimately to Steven McIntyre (he
of the Michael Mann hockey stick debunking) calling foul.

The particular irony is that the person who is in charge of this
database, and is responsible for the decision not to allow scientific
scrutiny of his methodologies, is none other than James Hansen, who
Newsweek held up as the shining example of scientific objectivity in
its article.  Newsweek should have been demanding that taxpayer-funded
institutions like NASA should be opening their research to full review,
but instead Newsweek chose to argue that Mr. Hansen should be shielded
from scrutiny.

Warren Meyer

I Was Teenage Warming-Denying Werewolf

Update:  My post on breaking news about downward revisions to US temperature numbers is here.

Well, I finally read Newsweek's long ad hominem attack on climate skeptics in the recent issue.  It is basically yet another take on the global-warming-skeptics-are-all-funded-by-Exxon meme.  The authors breathlessly "follow the money to show how certain scientists have taken as much as $10,000 (gasp) from fossil-fuel related companies to publish skeptical work.  Further, despite years of hand-wringing about using emotionally charged words like "terrorist" in their news articles, Newsweek happily latches onto "denier" as a label for skeptics, a word chosen to parallel the term "Holocaust denier" -- nope, no emotional content there.

I'm not even going to get into it again, except to make the same observation I have made in the past:  Arguing that the global warming debate is "tainted" by money from skeptics is like saying the 2008 presidential election is tainted by Mike Gravel's spending.  Money from skeptics is so trivial, by orders of magnitude, compared to spending by catastrophic warming believers that it is absolutely amazing folks like Newsweek could feel so threatened by it.  In my Layman's Guide To Man-Made Global Warming Skepticism, I estimated skeptics were being outspent 1000:1.  I have no way to check his figures, but Senator Inhofe's office estimated skeptics were being outspent $50 billion to 19 million, which is about the same order of magnitude as my estimate.

Given this skew in spending, and the fact that most of the major media accepts catastrophic man-made  global warming as a given, this was incredible:

Look for the next round of debate to center on what Americans are
willing to pay and do to stave off the worst of global warming. So far
the answer seems to be, not much. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds less than half in favor of requiring high-mileage cars or energy-efficient appliances and buildings....

Although the figure is less than in earlier polls, A new NEWSWEEK Poll finds that the influence of the denial machine remains strong.39
percent of those asked say there is "a lot of disagreement among
climate scientists" on the basic question of whether the planet is
warming; 42 percent say there is a lot of disagreement that human
activities are a major cause of global warming. Only 46 percent say the
greenhouse effect is being felt today.

It has to be the "denial machine" at fault, right?  I can't possibly be because Americans think for themselves, or that they tend to reject micro-managing government regulations.  The author sounds so much like an exasperated parent "I kept telling my kids what's good for them and they just don't listen."

Yes, I could easily turn the tables here, and talk about the financial incentives in academia for producing headlines-grabbing results, or discuss the political motivations behind Marxist groups who have latched onto man-made global warming for their own ends.  But this does not really solve the interesting science questions, and ignores the fact that many catastrophic climate change believers are well meaning and thoughtful, just as many skeptics are.  The article did not even take the opportunity to thoughtfully discuss the range of skeptic's positions.  Some reject warming entirely, while others, like myself, recognize the impact man can have on climate, but see man's impact being well below catastrophic levels (explained here in 60 seconds).  Anyway, I don't have the energy to fisk it piece by piece, but Noel Sheppard does.

For those of you who are interested, I have a follow-up post on the science itself, which is so much more interesting that this garbage.  I use as a starting point the Newsweek author's throwaway statement that she felt required no proof, "The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century."  (Hint:  the answer turns out to be closer to +5% than +100%)

Greenpeace Blasts Exercise of Free Speech

Today, Greenpeace attacked ExxonMobil for exercising its free speech rights.  In particular, it criticized Exxon-Mobil for spending $2 million funding about 40 groups it calls "global warming skeptics."  For perspective (missing from this article), pro-anthropomorphic global warming research receives over $2 billion in the US alone (and that is just government money, it does not include private money), making Exxon's funding less than 0.1% of that provided to groups with opposing viewpoints. 

How settled can the science be if the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) believers feel horribly threatened by a group they outspend more than 1000:1?  This is like Hillary Clinton complaining that Mike Gravel is being allowed to spend too much money.  The AGW folks have consistently lost debates where they went head to head against credible skeptics.  If you don't want to argue the issues, you resort to ad hominem attacks.

By the way, shame on Exxon-Mobil for getting all defensive about their spending.  They should have said "sure we are skeptics, and we think there are a lot of good reasons to be skeptics.  In fact, we'd love to have a televised debate with Greenpeace on AGW."

Update: In a related announcement, scientists declared the science of Phlogiston settled.