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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Global Warming Skeptics Forge Ahead

Category: Environment
Posted: 11/29/08 17:13, Edited: 11/30/08 13:07

by Dave Mindeman

Politico had a story about the global warming skeptics on November 25th. The story was generally favorable to the skeptics, discussing the quest of Oklahoma's two Senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn to convince Congress that global warming measures had doubts in the scientific community and that the economic impact was too much to handle right now.

It also followed along with another Weather Channel co-founder Joe D'Aleo and his similar attempts:

Armed with statistics from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?s National Climate Data Center, D?Aleo reported in the 2009 Old Farmer?s Almanac that the U.S. annual mean temperature has fluctuated for decades and has only risen 0.21 degrees since 1930 ? which he says is caused by fluctuating solar activity levels and ocean temperatures, not carbon emissions.

It is hard to fathom putting NOAA and the Farmer's Almanac in the same paragraph, but I guess it makes sense in this article.

There were a few references to the "other" side of the issue, like:

The National Academy of Sciences and most major scientific bodies agree that global warming is caused by man-made carbon emissions.

In fact, that was the only counter reference.

That caused a push back to the Politico editorial staff and they issued a kind of semi-apology:

Politico's Jeanne Cummings tried to put in some perspective....

The article in question was never intended to offer a sweeping examination of the scientific support for or against climate change.
It set out only to provide an update on the last hold-outs against global warming given the dramatic shifts ? both electorally and in public opinion ? against their position. Politico found them still feisty and readying for a fight despite their diminishing odds.
That?s the part we got right.

Except the article promoted the position a little too forcefully giving marginal references to the general scientific belief about human based global warming.

Politico's clarification continued:

Here?s where we slipped: The headline overstated what was in the story. That?s a chronic problem in the industry that might have been mitigated if the article had plainly stated its narrow intent, which it didn?t. It also should have included the challenges to the cited scientific data. Politico could have moved up the quotes from global warming advocates to provide a more balanced tone to the piece ? although it?s not like a reader had to plow through dozens of inches to get to them.

Except, the above quote from the National Academy of Sciences was the only reference made to counter the skeptics.

Then, they brought in, as their defense, their past references to the scientific based articles to global warming:

In addition, Politico?s archives are brimming with articles written about the seriousness of global warming and the legislative and political efforts by countless organizations to combat it.

But past articles aren't referenced and most articles that appear in a news source are assumed to stand on their own merits. This article clearly favored skeptics, pure and simple.

As a kind of payment or retribution, Politico gave Greenpeace space for a featured rebuttal and a strongly worded "Letter to the Editor" which was featured with their "apology".

The skeptics have a growing and powerful lobby. They whack at the news media for "favoring the alarmist side". But the debate should be a scientific one and not the public relations ad campaign that is being fostered by the skeptics.

In the Presidential campaign the debate was not about whether global warming exists but about how best to deal with it.

It is time to deal with this problem responsibly. Stick to the textbooks and leave the theories with the Farmer's Almanac.


Absentee Ballot Decision May Move Final Decision to US Senate

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 11/26/08 23:44, Edited: 11/26/08 23:45

by Dave Mindeman

There is the general feeling in the media that Al Franken was dealt a "serious blow" by the canvassing board's ruling on the absentee ballots.

Maybe. But looking at the long term, maybe not.

The Coleman campaign has been utilizing the liberal ballot challenge methodology to maintain their narrow lead in the visible sense. By that, I mean that the actual difference between Coleman and Franken lies buried in the ultimate determination of the challenged ballots. The Franken campaign has been telling us that the actual difference is less than 100 votes.

OK, let's say that is correct. After the canvassing board goes through those challenges and comes back with a number, they will attempt to certify the election.

If Franken is still behind by a small number, which looks likely at the moment, he will then have to issue a court challenge that either blocks the certification or contests the election if certified.

But he will need a legal basis to make that challenge. And he has the perfect one in those absentee ballots. With over 12,000 ballots rejected, there most certainly are a number of them that were wrongly rejected. How many, we don't know, but certainly enough to warrant an examination. The justices on the canvassing board admitted that those wrongly rejected ballots do have merit as legally cast votes.

The legal wrangling over this issue could push the court case into January and the U.S. Senate will be in session.

The longer the case drags out, the more likely that the United States Senate will want to exercise their authority to make the final determination. The Coleman campaign is somewhat fearful of this ultimate decider scenario -- but as long as the Franken campaign can make a case for uncounted votes, the Senate as final arbitor becomes the end of final choice.

The Senate has the final say.... and if the Democrat wins in the Georgia runoff next Tuesday (still a long shot right now), let's just say the Senate majority Democrats may get itchy about exercising that option.

Becker County & Absentee Ballots: Same Status?

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 11/25/08 16:38, Edited: 11/25/08 16:41

by Dave Mindeman

The canvassing board will be deciding on the Franken campaign request to consider absentee ballots that may have been improperly rejected.

Fritz Knaak, attorney for Coleman's campaign, stated his legal reasoning in this way:

Coleman recount attorney Fritz Knaak said the Coleman campaign is basing its objection on the fact that the current recount is an administrative process rather than a judicial one. An administrative recount, he said, echoing an opinion issued by the attorney general last week, is designed under Minnesota law to reexamine ballots already counted, not to scrutinize decisions made about the eligibility of voters or validity of ballots. Those questions, Knaak said, would properly be considered by a court in an election contest brought by voters or campaigns.

(Emphasis mine)

OK....let's use that legal reasoning on the 61 Becker county ballots that were recently found in comparison to rejected absentee ballots.

1) Were ballots cast legally? Becker County: Yes. Rejected absentee ballots: Yes (the ones that were rejected erroneously)

2) Were ballots counted on election day? Becker County: No Rejected absentee ballots: No

3) Why were they not counted? Becker County: Error by the election officials. Rejected absentee ballots: Error by the election officials.

Should they be treated the same? According to Knaak, the eligibility or validity of ballots is not the purview of an administrative recount. Therefore the Becker county ballots and the rejected absentee ballots have the same status.

Yet, the Becker County ballots have already been counted. Why shouldn't the wrongly rejected absentee ballots also be counted?

Just saying.



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