Patterico's Pontifications


‘I’m An American First’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:47 pm

[guest post by Dana]


In a revealing opening paragraph, the NYT looks at Republican hopeful, T. W. Shannon, who is running for the seat held by retiring Senator Tom Coburn.

T. W. Shannon will be Oklahoma’s first black senator if he wins the Republican nomination and is elected this November, but the quiet campaign stirring here about Mr. Shannon’s racial loyalties is not aimed at the African-American branch of his family tree. Mr. Shannon, whose first name is Tahrohon, is a member of the Chickasaw Nation…

Further into the article we learn that Mr. Shannon’s father is Chickasaw and his mother is black. His full name is Tahrohon Wayne Shannon and he is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Reading through the article, one learns that Mr. Shannon has been snared by identity politics and historical issues about citizenship unique to the state,

While identity politics — about race, religion or gender — has been a defining element of both parties for generations, Mr. Shannon adds a rare dimension. And he says he is uneasy about being the latest emblem of Republican diversity.

[A]n independent group, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, has already spent over $435,000 on his behalf since March. The group has received contributions from Indians, according to Republicans familiar with the donors who were not authorized to speak for the group.

“Btw, the Indians aren’t Oklahomans,” Robert Dan Robbins, a rancher and prominent supporter of Mr. Shannon’s chief primary opponent, Representative James Lankford, wrote on his own Facebook page. “They are a member of their own nation and are suing the state of Oklahoma over water rights and other things as well.”

A Tea Party group, in an open letter about Mr. Shannon, warned, “He has too many masters to serve,” and listed “Indian tribes” and Representative Tom Cole, a fellow Chickasaw and establishment-oriented Oklahoma Republican, among his suspect influences.

Then there are the differing reactions to him from prominent conservatives supporting him, ranging from the cringe worthy to the sound,

“His name alone!” Sarah Palin exclaimed at a large, nearly all-white rally of supporters for Mr. Shannon in Tulsa last month. “The Democrats accuse us of not embracing diversity? Oh, my goodness, he is — he’s it. He is the whole package”.

But other conservatives are plainly uncomfortable with such tactics. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who was also at the rally, said in an interview, “Rather than engage in identity politics and smear campaigns, which is the specialty, sadly, of the modern Democratic Party, we ought to be discussing how to turn this country around.”

To his credit, Shannon is finding his own way through the maze. J.C. Watts, former member of the House of Representatives, told Shannon regarding his racial background,

If you make it your issue, if you make it the focus of your campaign, then it will be.

Shannon explains that his racial background is just one part of his experience — not the defining moment.

I’m an American first, and that’s the most important thing.

No matter how much one tries to avoid it, it would appear that if a candidate’s skin color is any shade off white, identity politics is a given. One hopes that Shannon continues to remain uneasy about it. And one hopes, too, that if he is indeed the best person for the job, he will become the third American enrolled tribal member to join the United States Senate.

The entire article is worth reading, not only for the look at T.W. Shannon and identity politics, but as well as observing how the New York Times wrote about the issue.


A New Protected Class?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

There is a move afoot to seek federal protection for yet another group. It’s difficult to keep up with the expanding list and at some point in time, one wonders what won’t be added.

New research shows that most Americans support policies that address weight discrimination. In fact, approximately 3 out of 4 individuals support efforts to add body weight as a protected class under Civil Rights laws, and the majority of those surveyed (at least 60%) are supportive of other policy efforts to address weight discrimination across the nation.

The study, led by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and published in the research journal Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society (TOS), is the first to document a positive change in public attitudes toward legal measures to address weight discrimination.

“More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are affected by overweight or obesity, meaning they are also vulnerable to the stigma and discrimination that these proposed policies and laws would help prevent,” said study author Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center deputy director and co-author of the study. “Rates of weight discrimination are comparable with rates of racial discrimination, especially for women, and are seen across multiple domains, from healthcare and employment to media and personal relationships. We’re hopeful that identifying these trends in support of action to end weight discrimination can provide backing for current and future policy efforts.”

According to the paper, from 2011 — 2013 researchers observed a 7% increase in support for disability protections for those affected by obesity or overweight (61% in 2011 to 69% in 2013) and a 6% increase for adding body weight as a protected class in Civil Rights statutes (70% in 2011 to 76% in 2013).

As for reasons behind the observed increase in support for action, Dr. Puhl points to the American Medical Association designation of obesity as a disease in 2013 — and the resulting national media attention — as a possible force in moving the needle, but adds: “We still have a long way to go. Reducing weight discrimination requires shifting societal attitudes and challenging stigma in multiple settings.”

It’s interesting to note Dr. Puhl discusses reducing weight discrimination, but not reducing weight. If, as some believe, the stigma of obesity/overweight is so damaging and debilitating that we need federal protection laws, perhaps someone should inform Charles Barkley of this. Because a public figure fat shaming is clearly unacceptable!

When taken to the woodshed by viewers, Barkley dug in. The only option? Obviously, intensive sensitivity training and federal protection for the offended.

And while we’re at it, I am a left-handed conservative with a Morton’s toe – where’s my protection??


John Oliver Cites Phony Scientific Consensus in Favor of Global Warming, or Human Caused Global Warming, or Something

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:55 am

Our friend carlitos provided this John Oliver clip:

If you can’t watch the video, it shows John Oliver claiming . . . well, something. Like many people, he jumps all over the place, equating “climate change” with the idea that “humans are causing climate change” (not the same thing) and glossing over the extent to which scientists believe humans are to blame.

What I want to focus on is his citation of a survey of scientific papers “that took a position on climate change.” Of those, Oliver claims, “97% percent endorsed the position that humans are causing global warming.” Oliver then dramatizes that by imagining a debate between 97 people who believe in, I don’t know, climate change, or climate change caused by humans, or something, and 3 who reject the premise entirely. Ha ha.

Here’s the problem: the survey is bunk. Here is the abstract. Here is more. And here is criticism:

[M]any sceptics have pointed out that the 97% figure encompasses the arguments of most climate sceptics. In evidence to the US Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee last week, Roy Spencer, a climate scientist who is routinely vilified for his apparent climate scepticism, claimed that his arguments fell within the 97% definition. Here in the UK, climate sceptic blogger and author of the Hockey Stick Illusion, Andrew Montford tweeted in the wake of the survey, ‘isn’t everyone in the 97%? I am’. This prompted Met Office climate scientist, Richard Betts to poll the readers of the Bishop Hill blog, ‘Do you all consider yourselves in the 97%?’. It seems that almost all do.

Just as Donald and Painter’s evidence to the STC reflected either naivety or a strategy, Nuccitelli’s survey results are either the result of a comprehensive failure to understand the climate debate, or an attempt to divide it in such a way as to frame the result for political ends. The survey manifestly fails to capture arguments in the climate debate sufficient to define a consensus, much less to make a distinction between arguments within and without the consensus position. Nuccitelli’s survey seems to canvas scientific opinion, but it begins from entirely subjective categories: a cartoonish polarisation of positions within the climate debate.

Forbes reported:

Either through idiocy, ignorance, or both, global warming alarmists and the liberal media have been reporting that the Cook study shows a 97 percent consensus that humans are causing a global warming crisis. However, that was clearly not the question surveyed.

Investigative journalists at Popular Technology looked into precisely which papers were classified within Cook’s asserted 97 percent. The investigative journalists found Cook and his colleagues strikingly classified papers by such prominent, vigorous skeptics as Willie Soon, Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Alan Carlin as supporting the 97-percent consensus.

Cook and his colleagues, for example, classified a peer-reviewed paper by scientist Craig Idso as explicitly supporting the ‘consensus’ position on global warming “without minimizing” the asserted severity of global warming. When Popular Technology asked Idso whether this was an accurate characterization of his paper, Idso responded, “That is not an accurate representation of my paper. The papers examined how the rise in atmospheric CO2 could be inducing a phase advance in the spring portion of the atmosphere’s seasonal CO2 cycle. Other literature had previously claimed a measured advance was due to rising temperatures, but we showed that it was quite likely the rise in atmospheric CO2 itself was responsible for the lion’s share of the change. It would be incorrect to claim that our paper was an endorsement of CO2-induced global warming.

When Popular Technology asked physicist Nicola Scafetta whether Cook and his colleagues accurately classified one of his peer-reviewed papers as supporting the ‘consensus’ position, Scafetta similarly criticized the Skeptical Science classification.

Cook et al. (2013) is based on a straw man argument because it does not correctly define the IPCC AGW theory, which is NOT that human emissions have contributed 50%+ of the global warming since 1900 but that almost 90-100% of the observed global warming was induced by human emission,” Scafetta responded. “What my papers say is that the IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] view is erroneous because about 40-70% of the global warming observed from 1900 to 2000 was induced by the sun.”

More at the link.

The real result of the survey is that most papers do not take a position or are uncertain (which is the position of most skeptics), as opposed to actively denying either global warming or any human contribution to it (as few skeptics do). Meaning that when you cite only papers that “take a position” you are throwing out most people, who might take a position, but whose position might be that of skepticism. Here is what the study actually says according to its abstract:

We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.

Here is the chart from the detailed study:

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 7.50.14 AM

OK. Let’s say I take a survey: where do you believe Elvis lives, Memphis or Seattle? If you say: “I take no position, because Elvis is dead” your opinion is thrown out. Of the people who select one, 97% pick Memphis.

Voila! There is an overwhelming consensus that Elvis is alive and he lives in Memphis.

These distortions are entering the marketplace of ideas and being spread by clowns like Oliver. We need to fight the distortions.

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