Patterico's Pontifications


Don Jones/Michael Sam Tweet Controversy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:43 pm

OMG. Horrible.

Because Climate Change and U.S. Oil Greed

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:22 pm

[guest post by Dana]

You know the world has gone mad when a terrorist organization responsible for murdering school boys and kidnapping school girls comes close to getting a pass because Climate Change:

Instability in Nigeria, however, has been growing steadily over the last decade – and one reason is climate change. In 2009, a UK Department for International Development (Dfid) study warned that climate change could contribute to increasing resource shortages in the country due to land scarcity from desertification, water shortages, and mounting crop failures.

A more recent study by the Congressionally-funded US Institute for Peace confirmed a “basic causal mechanism” that “links climate change with violence in Nigeria.” The report concludes:

“…poor responses to climatic shifts create shortages of resources such as land and water. Shortages are followed by negative secondary impacts, such as more sickness, hunger, and joblessness. Poor responses to these, in turn, open the door to conflict.”

Unfortunately, a business-as-usual scenario sees Nigeria’s climate undergoing “growing shifts in temperature, rainfall, storms, and sea levels throughout the twenty-first century. Poor adaptive responses to these shifts could help fuel violent conflict in some areas of the country.”

No explanation was given for what motivated other past crimes against humanity before “climate change” became the go-to. Furthermore, it’s not only climate change that’s at the root of Boko Haram, but U.S. greed for oil. Of course.

According to Prof Jeremy Keenan, a leading Algeria expert at the School of Oriental and African Studies who advises the US State Department, European Union, and Foreign Office on regional security issues, AQIM’s expansion across north Africa has focused on oil-rich regions – particularly Algeria, Niger Delta, Nigeria, and Chad; the latter three precisely where Boko Haram has reportedly received terrorist training.

Over a decade ago, Keenan reports, these countries signed a “co-operation agreement on counter-terrorism that effectively joined the two oil-rich sides of the Sahara together in a complex of security arrangements whose architecture is American.” The agreement evolved into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, which was eventually absorbed into the US Army’s African Command (AFRICOM).

Keenan argues that the west’s oil and gas greed has caused our governments to turn a blind eye to the role of oil states like Algeria in fostering regional terrorism – instead exploiting the resulting chaos to legitimise efforts to consolidate access to remaining African energy reserves.

If this analysis is correct, then the hundreds of innocent girls kidnapped in Nigeria are not just victims of Islamist fanaticism; they are also victims of failed foreign, economic and security policies tied to our infernal addiction to black gold.

It goes without saying that third world countries rife with corruption and nearly non-existent economies facing drought and famine drives people to do whatever they need to survive. The author writes that 200,000 farmers and herdsman had lost their livelihoods and, facing starvation, crossed the border to Nigeria where some of those were lured in by Boko Haram. (The author, however, does not speak to those hundreds of thousands facing the very same drought and famine conditions not participating in such atrocities…)

So, at what point do we simply let those who are guilty be guilty? What compels some to find something to explain heinous crimes, to add a sympathetic layer, to make the brutality human? Because if some are now blaming Boko Haram’s behavior on an external, non-direct, still debatable circumstance like climate change (only recently being discussed in the public square), what other abhorrent behaviors will we see blamed on it?

And why not entertain the far-fetched: If this line of thinking were to grow and evolve, it wouldn’t be surprising to see climate change eventually used as a defense in a crime. After all, climate change apparently impacts the entire world, to one degree or another. Who is to say what crimes could or could not be, at least in part, charged to it?


The Coming Higher Education Bubble

Filed under: Education,General — JVW @ 6:49 am

[NOTE FROM PATTERICO: Please welcome long-time reader JVW as a guest blogger here at Patterico. JVW’s comments are always well-written and well thought out, and this post continues the tradition.]

[Guest post by JVW]

Note: As a long-time reader and commenter, I am very pleased to make a modest contribution to this fine blog. When we were discussing my contribution, Patterico specifically mentioned my longstanding interest in higher education issues, so I would like to start out by addressing some issues that I have seen percolating over the past twenty years. This post will be a general overview of the problems facing higher education, and I hope to follow up with specific posts geared towards graduate education, undergraduate education, and college budgeting and financial aid coupled with the increasingly federalized loan industry. Since I know many of you have extensive experience with higher education as students, parents, alumni/ae, employees, and taxpayers, I would welcome your comments.


Photo: Students of Kansas State Normal School (now known as Emporia State University), one hundred years ago.

In the aftermath of the great housing bubble pop at the end of the last decade, many economists began to point out the numerous parallels between the housing market and the higher education market: the unshakable faith that investment in the commodity would lead to long-term profitability, the incredible willingness to go deeply into debt in order to be an “investor” in the commodity, and the shortsighted anti-market interventions by the government in order to continue to prop up a scheme with obviously shaky underpinnings.

Fear of a college bubble goes as far back as the early 1970s, when Time Magazine ran an article titled Education: Graduates and Jobs: a Grave New World [linked article available for subscribers only], which reported that the huge number of Baby Boomers who had attended college and, particularly, graduate school had led to an oversupply of students with graduate degrees in proportion to the available jobs. I will have more about this in a later post. By 1987, Education Secretary William Bennett was beginning to explore the relationship between ever-increasing federal support for financial aid and loans, and the corresponding tuition increases that colleges were imposing. Fast-forward to early 2013, and even left-wing journalists who have every reason to be allies of the higher education establishment are openly noting that colleges are too big and too expensive, and produce too many underwhelming students with too much debt.

So it would seem that the existence of the bubble is fairly well established, despite the insistence of some bubble-denialists. It is thus left merely to forecast what kind of havoc might ensue from the bubble’s pop. Already we are seeing colleges reduce their enrollments or even shut their doors all together. After reaching a peak in 2011, college enrollments have dropped in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. A 2012 report [PDF download] from Bain & Co. summarized the problem succinctly: “Institutions have more liabilities, higher debt service and increasing expense without the revenue or the cash reserves to back them up.” Less than a year later, a New York Times columnist estimated than fewer than one in eight U.S. colleges and universities seemed to have the financial wherewithal to withstand the coming turmoil.

We’ll come back to this in a bit, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a series of questions to mull over in the comments: Is college still a worthwhile “investment” and if so, under what circumstances? Are we sending too many kids to college, and if so, what alternatives should they be presented with? Finally, what happens when the bubble pops? Do we see the growing influence of self-paced online education embodied by MOOCS [Massive Open Online Courses — P], with perhaps traditional college classes only continuing for upper-level courses? If so, how does that affect the traditional blended role of the professor as both instructor and researcher?


POSTSCRIPT FROM PATTERICO: If you want to read more about the higher education bubble, grab yourself a copy of Glenn Reynolds’s broadside The Higher Education Bubble. It’s a long essay in an inexpensive booklet form that can be read in under an hour, and the ideas are well worth that short time investment.

Politico Dishonestly Removes All Nuance from Rubio Statement on Climate Change

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:47 am

Politico claims:

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 7.27.24 AM

Brit Hume calls them on it:

Who’s right? Let’s roll the tape.

ABC US News | ABC Entertainment News

KARL: Miami, Tampa, are two of the cities that are most threatened by climate change. So putting aside your disagreement with what to do about it, do you agree with the science on this? I mean, how big a threat is climate change?

RUBIO: I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions that we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity. I do not agree with that.

KARL: You don’t buy that.

RUBIO: I don’t know of any era in history where climate has been stable. Climate is always evolving and natural disasters have always existed.

KARL: Let me get this straight. You do not think that human activity, the production of CO2 has caused warming to our planet?

RUBIO: I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not — And I do not believe that the laws we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.

Who’s right? Brit Hume is right.

Woman on Sunday Talk Show: “Opportunistic” Attack in Benghazi “Grew Out of That Video”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:45 am

Also, Ambassador Stevens wasn’t “murdered.” (Note: never pick Eleanor Clift for a felony murder jury.)

I give Clift the generic label in the headline for the ironic parallelism. Did you catch that? I thought you would. Anyway, her spinning could put a top to shame:

ELEANOR CLIFT: I would like to point out Ambassador Stevens was not murdered. He died of smoke inhalation in the safe room in that CIA installation.

SUSAN FERRECHIO: I don’t think that’s a fact, Eleanor.

CLIFT: I think that is a fact.

FERRECHIO: I’ve heard a drastically different story from people who are also in the know about that. So, I don’t think it is –

PAT BUCHANAN: It was a terrorist attack, Eleanor. He was murdered in a terrorist attack.

She also calls the terrorist attack on the consulate an “opportunistic” attack “that grew out of that video.” (I wonder who wrote her talking points.)

Even if he died of smoke inhalation from a fire caused by a terrorist attack, he was murdered. Air quotes and all. Eleanor.

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