Monday, July 08, 2013

Horse-beating, MSM edition

You all heard it earlier here, but I got in a few licks at the 150-word limit in the San Jose Mercury News:

Obama's climate policy is good for region

Charles Krauthammer's diatribe (Opinion, July 5) against President Obama for confronting climate change is a disingenuous insult to our region, where we face tremendous problems from warming.

Krauthammer misleads on the Pew survey, where 28 percent of respondents made climate change a top priority -- not bad for a problem whose worst effects are yet to come. His cherry-picked information leads to wrong or misleading conclusions.

China and India have both committed to never have the same per-capita emission levels as the United States -- Obama should be applauded for trying to accelerate their commitments on climate.

As a director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, I'm keenly aware of the millions that we are spending and will spend to adjust to new flooding, new water demand, and reduced water supplies in the Sierra snowpack. What Obama is doing is good for us locally, but I believe that what Krauthammer wrote is anything but good.

Brian A. Schmidt
Director, District 7 Santa Clara Valley Water District

UPDATE:  found this interesting - after the 2004 election, Bush pushed Social Security "reform" like nobody's business, despite the public disinterest and his failure to make it a priority. Krauthammer had no problem with that presidential decision, talking about it incessantly as example of leadership.


Anonymous said...

Mislead on Poll results?

Shall I quote from the Pew Poll article, from their site?

"However, dealing with global warming remains at the bottom of the public’s agenda for 2013; just 28% see this as a top priority, little changed from recent years."

What a distortion you are attempting here.

A greater percentage of poll respondents rated the following as top priority than did Global Warming.

Economy, jobs, budget deficit, terrorism, SS, education, Medicare, health costs, help poor, reduce crime, reform taxes, and more.

Just look at the poll. Krauthammer represented what the poll said accurately, Brian not so much.

You do like to call attention to yourself though "Look what I did I wrote to the local newspaper".

Good chuckle for me this evening, thank you.


Magnus Westerstrand said...

Just saying

Anonymous said...

Oh I would like to add the all official signature at the end of the post using the middle initial and stating your title. Nice elitist touch of "you have to listen to me I am important."

Wow. Could not find any other letters that wrote to that paper contained such conceit signing it the way you did.

Brian Schmidt just was not enough. Why? Because you really are conflicted with the half truths of your words and you wanted to prop them up and give them more weight. Voila signed with conceit.


Anonymous said...

This is just part of Brian's daily DCP ( Democratic credential polishing) for some future run for Congress.

That much is clear and has been since he started posting on RR with his endless (and largely science-void) stream of Obamapologetics.

This allows Eli to get his own political opinions aired while maintaining an air of being above the political fray.

Works out quite well all around :)

PS: this is why RR will never hold a candle to Open Mind or Real Climate when it comes to actual science. Too much political grandstanding at RR.

EliRabett said...

Middle initial trolling. A new internet tradition

Brian said...

There are way too many Brian Schmidts around. It's really annoying.

Anonymous said...

And the understatement of the year for 2013 is:

"There are way too many Brian Schmidts around. It's really annoying."


EliRabett said...

Rabett Holed

Anonymous said...

Holed. Hmm let me try an edit.

"This is just part of Brian's daily DCP ( Democratic credential polishing) for some future run for Congress."

Unfortunately for Brian he listed himself as an editor of this blog, links to his other blogs from here, including his campaign blog. His duplicity in moderation of comments is easily apparent and I have countless examples. What he chooses to respond to and not respond to are interesting to say the least.

But you are right Brian is just another dime a dozen politician striving for titles and power where he can practice his arrogance.


Hank Roberts said...

> links to
where? That would be handy for off-topic questions. Like I want to ask how much of what kind of surface is managed by the water district and how ecosystem services are calculated. Followon is, what's the value of the "rain garden" installations along city streets, and could homeowners have their own for downspout water, and even perhaps for gray water? If so, how many cubic meters or square meters of surface covered with friendly bacteria are needed to handle cleaning up household and rainwater?

I've been trying to figure how big my total requirement is, if I were in orbit -- far more of 'me' would be bacteria than primate, I think, all of it essential to keep alive.

EliRabett said...

Eli edits the comments. Now Eli is a humble and considerate Rabett, but there are limits.

Anonymous said...

"Eli edits the comments"?


I was under the impression that Blogger did not have the option to "edit" comments.

Just allow or deny (or delete after the fact if moderation is not "on" when the comment was posted)

Whether Eli "edits [sic] the comments" is actually not the issue, at any rate.

The issue is whether Brian has the capacity to delete comments if he so chooses.

And is Eli saying that Brian does not have the "permission" to moderate (accept/reject) comments?

In other words, is Eli claiming Brian has been classified on Rabett Run only as an "author" and not as an "admin"?, ie, that Brian does not have the capability to delete comments on Rabett Run?

EliRabett said...

Grow up.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me a lot of the word games that Lucia plays on her site.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a "non-answer" ("Grow up") to a question (Can Brian delete comments?) tells you more than the direct answer (yes or no)

Word games are fun but only if the people you are playing with are good at them.

Eli is much less abstruse than he fashions himself.

In fact, more often than not, he's downright transparent.

EliRabett said...

Frankly, except for types like Lucia, this is of as much interest as the order of succession to the duchy of Schleswig Holstein.

willard said...

Dear 1,

Sometimes, ad hominems (e.g. "Eli's no good at playing word games") and appeals to pride ("than he fashions himself") do not mix very well.

Eli's answer to your question is "this is none of your business."

Perhaps was this not transparent enough for you?

I believe that the topic of this blog post was Brian's response to Charles Krauthammer's rant. Here was another response to that rant:

There are others we can look if you care for the topic of this post.

Also note that 28% is a big enough number to raise concerns on a politician who would like to get elected. In any case, here's what Krauthammer said of the poll:

> It lies at the very bottom of a list of Americans’ concerns.

Let it be noted that this was a list of priorities. I do hope you understand the difference between a concern and priority, dear 1. Just in case you do not, there are more concerns than priorities.

That means that your claim that "Krauthammer represented what the poll said accurately" might not be quite correct.

Please acknowledge this.

Thank you so much for your concerns,

Due diligence,


Anonymous said...


That was another "Anon" and not me.


Anonymous said...

Ah but your second half of your post was for me.

Well if you are so easily mistaken must I address your confusion?

Question. Of all the listed "priorities" which one was on the bottom? Which one was last? Which one did the fewest percentage of Americans list as the top priority?

Now Brian has got you dancing to the Beatles and Chubby Checker.


willard said...

Dear 1,

Thank you for your concerns about my confusion, and rest assured that what I said to our Anonymous fellow applies to what you just said.

Speaking of concerns, please acknowledge that priorities are not concerns, and that Krauthammer conflated the two.

One does not simply portray a priority for a third of a statistical population as the least of their concerns.

Also note that the list may not order priorities in the way Krauthammer portrays.

In fact, please take a minute to ponder on this:

> I’m not against a global pact to reduce CO2. Indeed, I favor it. But in the absence of one — and there is no chance of getting one in the foreseeable future — there is no point in America committing economic suicide to no effect on climate change, the reversing of which, after all, is the alleged point of the exercise.

Krauthammer basically says that he's in favor of committing economic suicide.

Please think about it.

Anonymous said...


Your skills of comprehension fall below that of your assessment of the same.

I know what Krauthammer meant because he pointed to the survey for me to confirm what he said.

Now you go find the major error in Brian's piece from July 5th that has to do with how the survey was conducted.

I know you can do it. Here is a hint look at the table at the bottom of page 1.


Brian said...

Hi Willard - when I saw Krauthammer's piece, I read it as saying that Pew asked people to rank the concerns from most to least importance, and climate change was placed last on the list by more people than any other concern. I then found the Pew report and learned otherwise.

Krauthammer could easily have written it differently. He was purposefully deceptive.

Anonymous said...

"I know what Krauthammer meant because he pointed to the survey for me to confirm what he said."

LOL! The rubes don't read the original, they just let interpreters of interpretations read it for them.

What the survey shows is that in bad economic times the TOP priority is the economy, stupid!

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Anonymous said...

When I read Krauthammer's piece I then went and read the Pew Survey and honestly evaluated what was said about the survey against the actual survey.

I did this rather than write a personal attack piece dripping with derision and hatred.

Your hate will consume you Brian.


Yes and 19 other "Top Priorities" to address before dealing with Global Warming. Like the 2.5 times as many Americans have defending against terrorism over global warming. Same with improving education, one for Willard, where he went to school 28% is a third, eh, a 15% mistake amongst friends.

Bottom line is "Here is a list, which of these should be a Top Priority this year for the President and Congress."

Dealing with global warming was on the bottom of the 21 item list and is trending lower since Obama took office.

Please continue your twisting it is quite amusing.


willard said...

Dear 1,

One does not simply backup an ad hominem with a circular argument.

The only valid interpretation of the PEW research is that 28-30% of respondents agree that "Dealing with global warming" is one of the top priorities. This is what Brian reminded the readers of the San Jose Mercury News, besides correcting him on China and India. This contrasts with what Krauthammer said in his mocking rant.

Were we to abide by Krauthammer's logic, every speech by a USA president should always be about strenghtening the economy. If we apply his gnomic scheme about reducing CO2, we should only welcome making it a priority unless it's already done, or when people will vote out "Strengthening the economy" as the most popular priority, as if that priority carried any resolute meaning.


The simple fact is that PEW can't test much the ordering among the priorities. To do that, one would need a scoring system like the one that is used for the NHL Awards. That is, not only one would have to choose if an item makes the top priorities list, but also order each item in the list.

Also note that the priorities are not dichotomous. To see that, please cf. the section entitled Partisan Differences over Priorities in your resource:

Protecting the environment and Dealing with global warming should be intertwined, but see the difference. Dealing with GW should have something to do with Dealing with nation's energy problem and Dealing with global trade. It even has something to do with Dealing with problems of the poor, and it has something to do with the omnipresent Strengthening the economy, whatever the hell that could mean.


As you can see, the survey mainly tests the popularity of topics more than anything else. And if you don't see that, you should at least appreciate the last sentence of that report:

> In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Thank you very much for your concerns,


Anonymous said...

Willard also plays words games, (claiming "priorities are not concerns")

But not very well.


1. prime concern, first concern, primary issue, most pressing matter

From (Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition)
Main Entry: priority
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: first concern

If "the priority" is the first concern, that means it is most certainly "a concern"

Implicit in the definition of " priority" above is the word "top'.

it would logically follow "priorities" would be an ordering of "concerns".

willard said...

A priority is a concern, but a concern is not always a priority.


Anonymous said...


Apparently you don't know much about chess either.

What you said is "priorities are not concerns".

Yes, those were your very words.

which I pointed out was simply wrong.

So, let's recap: first you said "priorities are not concerns" (which I showed was false) and then you agreed "a priority is a concern"

If you are trying to look like a complete idiot, you are succeeding beyond your wildest dreams.

Anonymous said...


"Come on, baby, let's do the twist."


willard said...

Dear anonymous,

It's true that I said:

> Priorities are not concerns.

I also said:

> I do hope you understand the difference between a concern and priority, dear 1. Just in case you do not, there are more concerns than priorities.

The last quote was said before the first one.

I thought that what I meant was quite clear, but let's clarify:

> Priorities are not mere concerns.

Yes, priorities are concerns. But they're more than concerns: they are important concerns. An "important" concern would make more sense than a first concern: it might be tough to have a top list of firstconcerns, if being "first" means "being before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance, etc".

You might have preferred this other definition.

Thank you for playing Parsomatics (tm - Eli),


willard said...

Oh, and since it might seem important to be well understood, my point was that this claim:

> first you said "priorities are not concerns"

was false.

Anonymous said...

next time perhaps you should say what you mean.

It's really not that hard

But apparently you would rather play stupid word games.

Run along and play with yourself.

Or go back to augmenting your copyright infringement collection.

willard said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your concerns.

My main claim is:

> "Krauthammer represented what the poll said accurately" might not be quite correct.

This claim seems clear enough to me.

K's minimisation was misleading at best.

You will note that the poll contains more topics than the ones contained in the list called TOP PRIORITIES.

Sure, the list of TOP PRIORITIES is "a list of concerns", but it's not just A
list of concerns.

Come on, now. I don't mind going round and round and up and down again over this.


Your parsomatics, BTW, relied on two old logic tricks. First, you interpreted the verb "to be" as an equivalence relationship. We know since Aristotle at least that this word carries more subtlety than that in ordinary language. The second was to use substitution of intra-propositional elements. Unless you use an extensional language with full-blown quantification, you will encounter translation problems.

These two tricks are important for paarsomatics. They oftentimes suffice to create absurd interpretations out of any mundane talk. Any engineer that uses a dictionary definitions to argue has the potential to illustrate that.

Brian said...

Thought it was relevant enough to add an update to the OP: Krauthammer had no problem with Bush making Social Security "reform" a top issue despite the lack of public interest.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course, Willard

I was trying to "trick" all 2 (or is it 3?) people who are reading this post (including myself)


Not incidentally, the purpose of writing is to communicate thoughts and if your writing is any indication, you must have very garbled thoughts indeed.

I would suggest that you take a class or two (or 3) at the local community college, but I somehow doubt you will.

You seem to be very impressed with your own abilities with words.

Anonymous said...

Reducing crime is a top priority of 55 percent. Reducing crime must not be be something the other 45% think important, according to anonymous parsomatic! Maybe that 45% are the criminals. Or the takers.

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Anonymous said...


Ah, no. What the Pew Poll says is twice as many respondents rated preventing crime a top priority than did global warming, which was rated a top priority by the fewest respondents out of 21 priorities.


"Thought it was relevant enough to add an update to the OP: Krauthammer had no problem with Bush making Social Security "reform" a top issue despite the lack of public interest."

This is incorrect and more misleading than what Brian accuses Krauthammer of doing. Using the same Pew Poll you can go back to 2005 and see 70% of the respondents rated Social Security as a top priority. In fact his proposal to change SS initially had over 50% support. However this quickly waned as the Democrats waged their unfair "killing grandma" hyperbole as they are know to do. See here.

Brian says many things that are incorrect and they are simply accepted here as the team/tribe mentality is very strong.


Are you having as much fun as I am?


Very curious as to how you will react to your last very misleading comment.


Brian said...

Just thought I should add that Krauthammer's current position that government should be based on polling is a fundamentally stupid piece of nonsense. His earlier support for Bush pushing unpopular and unwanted SS reform was more principled (or would be except for its obvious partisanship).

willard said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your concerns about me.

I think "there are more concerns than priorities" was clear enough. You tried to twist my words by using two common tricks. This parsomatic exercise, while bringing you lulz, distracts us from the fact that Krauthammer's claim that:

> [CC] lies at the very bottom of a list of Americans’ concerns.

Is misleading at best, at least for the reasons we already outlined:

First, "a list of Americans’ concerns" minimises the list of the top priorities.

Second, the list does not provide the ordering K assumes.

Third, the list does not contain dichotomous priorities, i.e. most are interrelated.

Fourth, Krautrammer's argument reduces the role of the Commander-in-Chief to the trivial pursuit of strengthening the economy and trivial speechs about that.

We can add other reasons:

Fifth, the list does not contain homogeneous priorities. To see that, compare "Strengthening the economy" and "Strengthening gun laws". How do we realize these two priorities? Nothing is said about that. But it does seem that strengthtening the economy implies actions that are more elusive than strengthening gun laws. The former is more general than the latter. The latter is more "actionable" than the former.

Sixth, the priorities that are most actionable do seem to imply specific actions. Reducing the influence of lobbyists, for instance, might refer to specific debates and specific laws of the time the survey was held. These debates might add some connotations to the priorities. This might explain why "dealing w/ moral breakdown" attracts so much Conservatives, while it's quite unclear how a government can really do that [1].

Seventh, some of these priorities do seem less facultative than others. Everyone should welcome that the government "Strengthening the economy" and "improving infrastructure". And yet not every respondents agree that we should see them as priorities. In other words, what Rib Smokin' Bunny said.

I hope you do see that these are arguments, and not word games.

[1] For a survey on more specific policies, cf.


K might have chosen to refer to this graphic instead:


Enjoy your lulz,

willard said...


Please take a look at this:

> The new poll indicates that the Social Security debate is packing a powerful political punch. It finds that just 29% of Americans approve of the way that Bush is handling the issue. This is the president’s lowest approval rating for any policy area, and is considerably lower than his overall job approval rating of 46%. Moreover, by a 65%-25% margin, most say the president has not explained his Social Security proposal clearly enough.

Vintage 2005.

Now, did it prevent W from pushing his plan forward? Enquiring minds want to know.

Let's hope our visitors are appreciating their lulz.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Eli

Your blog has now become a ping pong game for political bullshit (polls).

How very sciency.

How far Rabett Run has fallen in such a brief time span.

Anonymous said...

"Your blog has now become a ping pong game for political bullshit (polls)."

We can thank Brian for bringing MSNBC to RR.


Anonymous said...


I used to think this blog was very good, back when Eli was focused on science (which seems an eternity ago) -- eg, pointing out the serious problems with Tony Watt's surface station project, pointing out foolish claims made by crackpots that the greenhouse effect violates 2nd law of thermodynamics, etc.

That was actual science.

The kind of poll-debating Brian is doing above is not just meaningless drivel, but it is almost entirely self-serving, in my opinion.

As I noted above, he is clearly polishing his resume for a future run for office. He could not be any more blatantly obvious if he tried.

That Eli has not only allowed but seemingly even encouraged such crap on what used to be a science blog is actually somewhat depressing.

It greatly detracts from the seriousness of the climate change issue.