Occasionally I feel that it’s necessary to leave behind my focus on military matters, policy and national security, and turn inward towards politics. The vista is usually an obscene spectacle, and it’s no different with the increasingly heated national political debates. When serious national discussions are needed in light of the dire economic and national security situations we face, some politicians and pundits revert to insults like a pig returns to its slop and filthiness. Witness.
This morning Bruce Bartlett, the former pioneer of supply-side economics turned latter-day Keynesian, said on CNN’s American Morning, “Rick Perry’s an idiot, and I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. To the extent that he has people thinking that the Fed doing its normal job is somehow or other a treasonous act is grossly irresponsible.”
Jon Huntsman on Perry’s view of climate change and science:
From the moment Rick Perry declared he would run for president, Jon Huntsman has doled out nothing but love for his fellow candidate, calling him “a good friend and a good man.”
But that changed today when Huntsman took to Twitter, subtly calling out Perry’s views on global warming. Huntsman tweeted: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
The tweet comes on the heels of a comment made by Huntsman’s chief strategist, John Weaver, to the Washington Post about views Perry made clear in his book, Fed Up!.
“We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party,” Weaver said. “The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way that the significant problems this country faces can be solved. It appears that the only science that Mitt Romney believes in is the science of polling, and that science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.”
Ron Paul on Perry:
Presidential candidate Ron Paul, who has long called for abolishing the Federal Reserve, said he now looks “like a moderate” compared with GOP rival and fellow Texan, Gov. Rick Perry, who said it would be “almost treacherous, or treasonous,” if the central bank increased the money supply before the 2012 election.
Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas speaks with area business leaders, Thursday, at the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Referring to Mr. Perry, the Texas congressman told supporters at a campaign event in Concord, N.H., Wednesday that “He realizes that talking about the Fed is good, too. But I tell you what: He makes me look like a moderate.”
Mr. Paul added, “I have never once said [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke has committed treason.”
Analysis & Commentary
Ron Paul’s comments are much less insulting that the prior two, of course, and more opportunistic, but we’ll get to that momentarily. Huntsman is of course referring to Perry’s statements on evolution, in which he said something like “it’s a theory … that has some gaps in it.” Huntsman paints himself as the loyal follower of modern science and Perry as ignorant. Leaving aside the fact that the voting public isn’t likely to penalize Perry for his views, his statement is dripping with sarcasm, and is an out-of-place sentiment given that he has no formal scientific training. It’s further rendered hypocritical given his own admonition to leave his own religious views out of his politics: “These presidential nomination contests aren’t about religion; they’re about leadership.”
But let me briefly address the presupposition that underlies his insult, i.e., that scientific folk reject creationism and accept both evolution and anthropogenic global warming (AGW). I might object to the characterization, and challenge the critics to see who can solve a second order differential equation faster, or a radiation transport problem the fastest (or best and most elegantly). Or, I might respond to the snooty critic by quizzing him to see how much he knows about Professor Alvin Plantinga’s unique formulation of the ontological argument. You see, I don’t believe in [macroscopic] evolution, and I don’t consider myself ignorant compared to Huntsman. At least I’ve had some formal scientific (and also some theological) training. Or perhaps it would be better to reference friends who are far smarter than am I, such as Professor Nolan Hertel.
Nolan has informed me in the past that many of his own colleagues are creationists, and that the robust debate is usually between young earth and old earth adherents. Nolan and I, holding radiometric dating in rather high regard for obvious reasons, adhere to the old earth view. But the point is not to begin a debate over the merits of views of the origin of man, or to assess the age of the earth (and therefore I will delete comments that press the discussion in that direction). The point is also not to line up authoritative adherents for my views (which is the genetic falacy). Anyone with any view can do that. The point is that thoughtful people have pondered this issue for a very long time and come to different conclusions. It’s just a myth that all scientific people reject creationism and accept AGW. In fact, I will observe that it’s usually the laymen – those who are untrained in science and engineering – who hold it in such high esteem, ascribing to science abilities far beyond it’s boundaries (e.g., the ability to explain versus the ability simply to describe and formulate models). At any rate and whatever the case, I’m not advocating that the Republican party (or any other party) become the party of creationism. I wouldn’t be able to effect that change, and I wouldn’t do it if I could. The point is that there is no place in national politics for insults based on one’s religious views, even as they impact his or her views on science (and I think Huntsman made that very point, but it’s apparently asking too much for him to be consistent).
As to Huntsman’s acceptance of AGW because the scientists said so, one has to wonder two things. First, where has he been the last year or so while the climate change scandal has occurred? It’s remarkable that he so willingly accepts AGW based on such shoddy scientific work (see endnote). Second, doesn’t Huntsman see the contradiction in his views? He charges Perry with scientific ignorance in his demurral on evolution, and yet accepts AGW because the scientists said so (not because of his own research or understanding).
Concerning Bruce Bartlett (who? … oh yea, that guy no one knows who shot off his mouth over national television), I don’t think he’ll get the agreement he seeks from everyone in America that Rick Perry is an idiot. In fact, I’m willing to wager that more people place Bartlett in that category given his sweeping bromide concerning what all of the good American people really believe.
Turning to Ron Paul’s response to Perry’s criticism of Bernanke, Perry didn’t say that he was a traitor. He said “almost treasonous.” In fact, I had a dear friend who suffered a massive heart attack and died after degrading health, induced from pressure of not having work to support his family. I take the health of our economy very seriously, and to me it bears on more than just differences in “monetary policy” by individuals who can and should remain “civil in their discourse” (Senator Santorum has harped on that for several days now). And what about Ron Paul? What does he believe?
Though the Federal Reserve policy harms the average American, it benefits those in a position to take advantage of the cycles in monetary policy. The main beneficiaries are those who receive access to artificially inflated money and/or credit before the inflationary effects of the policy impact the entire economy. Federal Reserve policies also benefit big spending politicians who use the inflated currency created by the Fed to hide the true costs of the welfare-warfare state. It is time for Congress to put the interests of the American people ahead of special interests and their own appetite for big government.
Abolishing the Federal Reserve will allow Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over monetary policy. The United States Constitution grants to Congress the authority to coin money and regulate the value of the currency. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to delegate control over monetary policy to a central bank. Furthermore, the Constitution certainly does not empower the federal government to erode the American standard of living via an inflationary monetary policy.
And Paul recently referred to the Fed’s ruinous monetary policy. So according to Ron Paul, the existence and practice of the Federal Reserve has been an unconstitutional ruination of the wealth of the American people. So how does this differ so much from”almost treasonous?”
The fact of the matter is that Perry is being attacked because he is seen as a threat. When politicians who have previously had kind words for Perry (Huntsman) turn on him, they prove how small they are. It’s the same for Ron Paul, who has no chance of being President but who believes that he does. Thus far, I haven’t detected attacks from the Perry camp against the GOP. He continues to focus on Obama and the ruinous monetary policies that are “almost treasonous.” And no one I know seems to care much about his views on the origin of mankind.
Who looks like the winner in all of this?
Endnote: For the uninitiated, here is the best short synopsis I can deliver on the AGW scandal (and I do mean short). AGW proponents point to temperatures recorded over past years and decades to show that there is global warming. The data wouldn’t otherwise be statistically significant (there’s just not enough of it) were it not for the correlation of tree ring data with temperature. That is, in order to fill out the data base with temperatures, they have had to assume that there is a correlation of tree rings with temperatures. This correlation was generally good up until a few years ago, where tree ring data significantly diverged from recorded temperatures. They haven’t just ignored this divergence, they have hidden it. Why? Not because it shows some massive decrease in global temperature (although tree ring data does show a decrease), but because it challenges their own assumptions using tree ring data as a replacement for temperature measurements where we have no such historical measurements. I have performed thousands of calculations myself in my line of work, and reviewed the same performed by colleagues. No one in the engineering community would be allowed to posit such a problematic model. It would be prima facie rejected. The modelling assumptions, just like the American economy, sit in ruin and ashes.