Patterico's Pontifications


Hillary’s View on Dissent . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:33 pm

. . . appears to be that she doesn’t like it.

It’s hard to tell for sure, though, whether Hillary’s people are deleting this fellow’s comments just because they make Hillary look bad — or because the commenter has genuinely done something that deserves a banning. Because sometimes people really deserve to be banned. I don’t ban people here for having an opposing viewpoint, but I do have to ban people at times for inappropriate language or personal attacks. Did the fellow described in the piece deserve his banning(s)? I don’t know, because we don’t get to see any of his comments.

Nor, I suspect, are the other candidates’ sites likely much different; my guess is that anything but a rah-rah attitude will get you the old heave-ho at just about any candidate’s site.

And that’s a problem. Bush has received criticism — much of it valid — for insulating himself from opposing viewpoints. Those who seek to replace him, I think, should show they’re willing to take on the opposition. A campaign blog that is open to dissent would be a good start.

Simple Thoughts about Mike Huckabee

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This week has seen former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee leading GOP polls; avoiding media scrutiny despite questionable payments he received while Governor; and wowing evangelicals at John Hagee’s Cornerstone mega-church in San Antonio.

I know Huckabee’s basic political positions but I don’t think he has much chance of winning the GOP nomination so I’m not overly concerned with educating myself about him. I could be wrong and he could win it all. But he gives me that queasy Little Rock feeling – and after the Bush presidencies, most people would think twice about a Texas candidate, too. I wonder if Huckabee would already be a footnote in the campaign if not for the media’s apparent fascination with seeing him as the GOP nominee.

Democrats are known for avoiding candidates who seem overly religious but I don’t think they have a monopoly on that feeling. I’m Christian and conservative but I’m not attracted to candidates who overtly mix government and religion. Still, I guess it’s a fine line and it will be interesting to see where the GOP base draws the line this year.


Renewed Skepticism about Global Warming

Filed under: Nature — DRJ @ 7:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok) has released a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Minority Report that lists 400 reputable scientists who deny there is a consensus on global warming:

“In the wake of the Dec. 3-14 conference, where delegates worked to draft a successor to the failed Kyoto Protocol on global warming, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has released a report that lists scientists who challenge both Al Gore’s assertion that the debate is over and the Bali conclusion that the planet is in imminent danger.

Many of the 400 scientists have taken part in the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose climate change reports tout consensus but which critics charge are heavily edited to support pre-defined conclusions.”

Here are a few examples of the global warming skeptics:

“Among the IPCC’s warming “deniers” is atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes, former research director at the Netherlands’ Royal National Meteorological Institute.

“I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting — a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the IPCC number — entirely without merit,” he said. “I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: Just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached.”

Physicist John W. Brosnahan, who develops remote-sensing tools for clients like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says: “Of course I believe in global warming, and in global cooling — all part of the natural climate changes that the Earth has experienced for billions of years, caused primarily by cyclical variations in solar output.”

Brosnahan says he has “not seen any sort of definitive, scientific link to man-made carbon dioxide as the root cause of global warming, only incomplete computer models that suggest that this might be the case.” Those models, he says, leave out too many variables.

Indeed, a study in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology looked at 22 computer models used by the IPCC. Most of the models couldn’t even predict the past.”

There was also a claim that scientists who question global warming were censored at the Bali proceeding:

“Heartland Institute senior fellow James Taylor has noted that more than 600 scientists at the Bali gathering could have debunked Gore’s warming theories, but the U.N. “censored” them.”

Here is the summary page of the Minority Report that has links to the introduction and the full report, along with this overview of the featured scientists:

“The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; oceanography; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. Some of those profiled have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contribution to their field of expertise and many shared a portion of the UN IPCC Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Gore.

Additionally, these scientists hail from prestigious institutions worldwide, including: Harvard University; NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the UN IPCC; the Danish National Space Center; U.S. Department of Energy; Princeton University; the Environmental Protection Agency; University of Pennsylvania; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the International Arctic Research Centre; the Pasteur Institute in Paris; the Belgian Weather Institute; Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute; the University of Helsinki; the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., France, and Russia; the University of Pretoria; University of Notre Dame; Stockholm University; University of Melbourne; Columbia University; the World Federation of Scientists; and the University of London.”

It’s so inconvenient when scientists refuse to toe the global warming line.


The Shrinking Gender Gap in South Korea

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 2:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

South Korea has traditionally been a male-dominated society in which the woman’s role in society is limited and there are strong family preferences for male children. However, times may be changing:

“When Park He-ran was a young mother, other women would approach her to ask what her secret was. She had given birth to three boys in a row at a time when South Korean women considered it their paramount duty to bear a son. Ms. Park, a 61-year-old newspaper executive, gets a different reaction today. “When I tell people I have three sons and no daughter, they say they are sorry for my misfortune,” she said. “Within a generation, I have turned from the luckiest woman possible to a pitiful mother.”

In South Korea, once one of Asia’s most rigidly patriarchal societies, a centuries-old preference for baby boys is fast receding. And that has led to what seems to be a decrease in the number of abortions performed after ultrasounds that reveal the sex of a fetus.

According to a study released by the World Bank in October, South Korea is the first of several Asian countries with large sex imbalances at birth to reverse the trend, moving toward greater parity between the sexes. Last year, the ratio was 107.4 boys born for every 100 girls, still above what is considered normal, but down from a peak of 116.5 boys born for every 100 girls in 1990.

The most important factor in changing attitudes toward girls was the radical shift in the country’s economy that opened the doors to women in the work force as never before and dismantled long-held traditions, which so devalued daughters that mothers would often apologize for giving birth to a girl.

The government also played a small role starting in the 1970s. After growing alarmed by the rise in sex-preference abortions, leaders mounted campaigns to change people’s attitudes, including one that featured the popular slogan “One daughter raised well is worth 10 sons!”

Males were traditionally prized because they could work the fields and help provide for aging parents. Rising economic productivity has changed this dynamic by increasing women’s roles in the workforce and making it easier for older workers to provide for their own retirement:

“In the old days, when there was no adequate social safety net, Korean parents regarded having a son as kind of making an investment for old age security,” Professor Chung said. It was common for married Korean men to feel ashamed if they had no sons. Some went so far as to divorce wives who did not bear boys.

Then in the 1970s and ’80s, the country threw itself into an industrial revolution that would remake society in ways few South Koreans could have imagined. Sons drifted away to higher-paying jobs in the cities, leaving their parents behind. And older Koreans found their own incomes rising, allowing them to save money for retirement rather than relying on their sons for support.

Married daughters, no longer shackled to their husbands’ families, returned to provide emotional or financial support for their own elderly parents. “Daughters are much better at emotional contact with their parents, visiting them more often, while Korean sons tend to be distant,” said Kim Seung-kwon, a demographer at the government’s Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

Ms. Park, the newspaper executive, said such changes forced people to rethink their old biases. “In restaurants and parks, when you see a large family out for a dinner or picnic, 9 out of 10, it’s the wife who brings the family together with her parents, not the husband with his parents,” she said. “To be practical, for an old Korean parent, having a daughter sometimes is much better than having a son.”

The economic changes also unleashed a revolution of a different sort. With the economy heating up, men could no longer afford to keep women out of the workforce, and women began slowly to gain confidence, and grudging respect.”

Today, South Korean women are more accepted in the workforce and more likely to go to college: “Six of 10 South Korean women entered college last year; fewer than one out of 10 did so in 1981.” China and India are studying South Korea’s success:

” Demographers say the rapid change in South Koreans’ feelings about female babies gives them hope that sex imbalances will begin to shrink in other rapidly developing Asian countries — notably China and India — where the same combination of a preference for boys and new technology has led to the widespread practice of aborting female fetuses.

“China and India are closely studying South Korea as a trendsetter in Asia,” said Chung Woo-jin, a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. “They are curious whether the same social and economic changes can occur in their countries as fast as they did in South Korea’s relatively small and densely populated society.”

The end result seems to be a more secular, gender-neutral society that is abandoning traditional male-dominated Confucian principles. According to this article, the changes were due in large part to economic prosperity that accompanied South Korean democracy. It’s difficult to handle profound changes like this in just a few generations. That may explain some of the love-hate relationship that many countries of the world have with the US.


Catholicism Is the Leading UK Christian Religion

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 12:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his conversion to Catholicism this week and new research shows he’s not the only one. Catholicism has become the leading Christian denomination practiced in Britain:

“Former prime minister Tony Blair’s conversion to Catholicism means he is now a member of the most popular Christian denomination in Britain, according to religious research published on Sunday.

Despite England’s official break with the pope in Rome during Henry VIII’s reign more than 400 years ago, making Anglicanism and the Church of England dominant, Catholicism is now the most practiced faith in the land.

The UK Times notes the influx of foreign migration from Catholic countries is responsible for the shift:

“Roman Catholicism is set to become the dominant religion in Britain for the first time since the Reformation because of massive migration from Catholic countries across the world. Catholic parishes will swell by hundreds of thousands over the next few years after managing years of decline, according to a new report, as both legal and illegal migrants enter the country.

It says that the influx of migrants could be the Catholic community’s “greatest threat” or its “greatest opportunity”. While in some places the Catholic Church has responded positively, in others it has been “overwhelmed” by the scale of the challenge. The growth of Catholicism in Britain comes as the established Church of England and the Anglican provinces in Scotland, Wales and Ireland face continuing, if slow, decline.”

In fact, both Catholic and Anglican attendance is decreasing in the UK:

“A survey by the group Christian Research published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed that around 862,000 worshippers attended Catholic Mass each week in 2006, exceeding the 852,000 who went to Church of England services. Attendance at Anglican services has almost halved over the past 40 years as the country has grown steadily more secular, the research showed, with only Pentecostalism showing any rise in popularity among Christian denominations.

While attendance figures for both Catholic and Anglican services are declining, Catholic numbers are slipping by a lesser degree as new migrants arrive from east Europe and parts of Africa, boosting Catholic congregations.”

Overall, this doesn’t paint a positive outlook for Christians or Catholics in Britain but the prognosis seems especially bleak for Anglicans, many of whom are members in name only and don’t go to church. One theory is that church attendance has suffered as the Anglican population in Britain has become more secular in its focus.

American Anglicans (known as the Episcopal Church of the USA or ECUSA) also emphasize secular, political positions. Like its British cousin, the ECUSA has experienced years of declining attendance or membership. In the 1960’s, ECUSA had over 3.6 million members but that number has steadily declined to less than 2.2 million and continues to fall.

Of course, it doesn’t help Anglicans or Episcopalians that they are led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who has a penchant for saying ridiculous things, or the fall out from the ECUSA’s consecration of the gay Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Nor is it a good sign that the ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says aloud that Episcopalians are “better-educated” than people of other religions and choose to
“reproduce at lower rates” because the church “encourage[s] people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

British Anglicans and American Episcopalians remind me of the Shakers.


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