There is an oft-repeated phrase that has been bothering me for a while now. During an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, former Vice President Al Gore said that “the debate in the scientific community is over” regarding global warming. Really? I have long had a problem with the idea of consensus being the way scientific truths are judged. All it takes — all it should take, anyway — for a commonly-held belief to be overturned is for one voice to propose a new theory that explains the facts better. Scientists don’t vote on whether E=mc2 is true; they judge whether the theory best explains the data. And that theory, once it has proven useful in explaining the facts, will continue to be tested by other scientists; if it fails to explain real-life results, scientists will look for a new and better theory.

History is full of examples of the commonly-held consensus being wrong. Here’s a few as listed on Wikipedia, quoting The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn:

I particularly like the last one, because I remember when scientists finally started to accept the idea that stomach ulcers were produced by a bacterium rather than spicy foods.

Anyone who brings up the “scientific consensus” argument is making a logical fallacy known as “appeal to authority;” basically, the argument goes, “Global warming is real because Al Gore tells me it is real.” It’s the same false argument as the old parental favorite, “Because I’m the Mom, and I say so.” But while these examples point out the pitfalls of consensus, they didn’t point to a particular article I remembered reading a while ago about the problem of scientific consensus; that article caused me to distrust anyone who claims consensus as a valid reason to support global warming theory.

And then I found it again, and it was written by an author I hadn’t suspected: Michael Crichton. I have several of his books, and they can be a fun read, but Crichton’s nearly-constant pessimistic theme of “mankind can’t be trusted to handle science or technology” can really grate on my nerves. However, Crichton does have an interesting view of “consensus science.” He delivered a lecture, humorously titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming,” at the California Institute of Technology in January of 2003. Here are two relevant sections from that lecture, regarding scientific consensus:

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

… I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

Read the whole lecture. For one thing, if you do, you’ll understand the link between aliens and global warming. I have a minor beef with the lecture, since Crichton makes this link at the beginning of his lecture, but he fails to reiterate the link at the end. My high school English teacher drilled into my head that a thesis paper needs to have the thesis stated at the beginning and reiterated for reinforcement at the end. But Crichton is being paid for his writing, and I am not, so what do I know?

Interestingly enough, this same lecture by Crichton was also the source for my dislike of the Drake equation about which I recently wrote. I had first heard the Drake equation in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos TV series and book, back in the early ’80s, but it took me until the 2000s to realize that anything multiplied by guesswork becomes a guess, and that is why I dislike the “consensus” argument on global warming. It’s science multiplied by politics multiplied by guesses, and no matter how many times Al Gore may say that scientists have achieved consensus on the subject, that still ain’t how science works.

We recently moved to a new place, and therefore needed to find someone to take over the lease on our old place. The property management people suggested we place a classified advertisement in the local newspaper, so TPK tried to do just that.

First, she attempted to place the advertisement online, but she was frustrated when the website failed to process the payment and served up errors instead.

Second, she called the newspaper directly and gave them the ad over the phone. In the process, the size of the ad was increased from six lines to eight lines because they wouldn’t use the abbreviations that TPK had given them. The increased length made the ad much more expensive than she was willing to pay.

Third, she typed up a letter with the text of the ad exactly as she wanted it printed, then sent it to the newspaper along with payment for a six-line advertisement. They called her back and said they wouldn’t publish the ad since it used what they considered “non-standard” abbreviations–although they didn’t specify which abbreviations were “non-standard” in the ad. She told the newspaper to rip up the check.

Finally, she went back to the newspaper website and created a very short ad with no abbreviations and a link to a Craigslist entry where interested parties could read more about the house. The process actually worked, but she got an email from the newspaper shortly thereafter, informing her that they were unwilling to publish the ad because “We do not publish other publications [sic] web addresses.”

As TPK says, “It was at this point that I gained enlightenment, and told them to go to hell.” I find it interesting that at no time did the newspaper ever explain what the verboten abbreviations were, nor did they seem in any way interested in helping TPK put together a six-line advertisement that was agreeable to both parties.

Now compare the process TPK went through to place the advertisement on the local Craigslist website: she typed up the ad quickly since she’s a fast typist, listing as many features of the house as she could think of, then added a few pictures. In less than an hour, it was published and available for everyone to see. (We know people saw the listing because as we finished cleaning the house, we saw several drive-bys of the place; at the time, Craigslist was the only place where we had advertised.) The advertisement was free, and she could edit or delete it at any time. They didn’t squawk at her abbreviations, but she didn’t need to make any since she had as much space as she needed to describe the place. All this led TPK to say to the local newspaper, in her best Queen’s English: “J00 R T3H SUX0RZ!! LOLZ!!11! 33T MY L33T SK1LLZ B33zn@tCh!”

She is silly.

During the time I was watching and laughing from the sidelines, it struck me just how unfriendly the print media has become. We were actively trying to give them money to print a simple advertisement, and they were actively thwarting us at every turn. Why would I continue to help a business that is no longer useful or necessary, particularly when they insist on being user-unfriendly? Unless the print media figure this out and change their ways, I see them withering like a pulled weed in the sun.

In other news, we now have a brand new phone number. Since it wasn’t on the Do Not Call list from day one, we’ve been getting numerous telemarketing calls, especially from security services. I was tempted to say, “Tell me, does your security service help protect us from really annoying telemarketer calls like this one?”

Caller ID is a wonderful thing to help screen out telemarketers, but some of the buggers have been leaving voice mail messages. So TPK decided to fix that. Using her best professional voice, she created a voice mail message that says, “For telemarketing, soliciting, and political calls, please press * now.” Then she pauses a few seconds to prompt them to do so before continuing with the message. When goofy telemarketers follow her instructions and press the star key, the voice mail system says “Goodbye” and hangs up.

Since this voice mail message was added, we’ve received no voice mail messages from telemarketers. With any luck it won’t take too long for our number to percolate through the Do Not Call list, and they’ll leave us alone entirely.

We have visitors at our new house. There are two depressions in the lawn that will have 2-4″ deep puddles in them when it rains. I made a joke that all we needed was some ducks to notice the little ponds and turn our front lawn into a wetland. The next day we had some visitors. A drake and a hen mallard duck were out in the ponds trying their best to paddle in the shallow water.

That first night we tried to feed them, but they were so leery of us, we couldn’t even toss the bread pieces out to them. It’s been about a week now, and they are comfortable enough to come about 4-5′ away if there is food on the ground. And since they know we are suckers willing to feed them, they come a-waddlin’ every time they see us. The picture on the right shows the hen at the door today with a look of, “So break out the bread already!” Notice the possessed eye. I think I better feed her something before she comes inside and starts fending for herself. Maybe she is the Duckinator, come back from the future to kill us all. Quick, TPK, run for your very life!

OK, maybe not. But we did find out today that these ducks are hippies since they happily gobbled up some granola. Next time we’re breaking out the tofu. We also noticed that the drake rewarded our gratis granola by pooping on the walkway. Filthy hippy duck.

Let me first start off with the fact that the U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, and they may be fired for any reason, or for no reason whatsoever. That having been said, the ginned-up controversy over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys continues. The latest news in this Congressionally-contrived controversy comes as a refusal to answer questions:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s senior counselor yesterday refused to testify in the Senate about her involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Monica M. Goodling, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence, said in a sworn affidavit to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she will “decline to answer any and all questions” about the firings because she faces “a perilous environment in which to testify.”

Considering what happened to Scooter Libby, I don’t blame Ms. Goodling for not wanting to testify before Congress. But not everyone shares this belief, as quoted in the Washington Post article:

“The American people are left to wonder what conduct is at the base of Ms. Goodling’s concern that she may incriminate herself in connection with criminal charges if she appears before the committee under oath,” said Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Gee, Senator Leahy, during the eight years of the Clinton administration, there were 122 people who pleaded their Fifth Amendment rights, fled the country to avoid testifying, or simply refused to be interviewed since they were foreigners. So using your yardstick, Senator, I am left to wonder what conduct was at the base of their concern that they might incriminate themselves in connection with the criminal charges surrounding the Clinton administration.

I salute Ken Poppe, sixth-grade teacher at Trail Ridge Middle School in Longmont, Colorado, for teaching both sides of the current global warming debate to his students, and then letting them break into three groups: one arguing for and one arguing against human-caused global warming, and a jury to listen to both camps.

Poppe doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming, but his student aide, David Richards of Colorado State University, believes that human activities cause global climate change. Both presented their sides of the global warming debate to the students in the run-up to the debate. At the end, the 11 student jurors voted 7 to 4 that global warming is not caused by humans.

I like that both sides of the argument were presented to the children, but I dislike that they had a jury to vote on the question of human-caused global warming. Science isn’t decided by debate or by voting. Science is decided by proof, or the lack thereof.

Three paragraphs from the end of the story, a particular passage really jumped out at me:

Only one parent questioned Poppe’s decision to hold a global warming debate. That mother expected him to present Al Gore’s global warming movie An Inconvenient Truth as indisputable facts, Poppe said. After he explained his neutrality in the classroom, the mom allowed her child to participate in the debate, he said.

If you read carefully, you realize that the parent objected because she thought An Inconvenient Truth would be peddled as gospel truth, and was happy to hear that it wouldn’t be treated that way. But the journalist who wrote this story made the meaning a little obscure. Upon my first reading, I thought the parent was upset because the mother wanted Poppe to present the film as the gospel truth, but realizing that the classroom discussion would be balanced, she was happy to allow her child to participate.

I have made no bones about the low esteem I hold for An Inconvenient Truth, and it appears that I am not alone in this belief. Whether you like Al Gore or not, there are flaws in his proposal of human-caused global warming. BBC4 recently showed a documentary called “The Great Global Warming Swindle” that gives the history of the global climate change theory. The above link searches Google Video for the film. Or you can view this YouTube video as long as it remains on the site.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to tell Iran to stop enriching uranium, or it will be forced to tell them to stop again:

The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Saturday to impose additional sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, a move intended to show Tehran that defiance will leave it increasingly isolated.

Iran immediately rejected the sanctions and said it had no intention of suspending its enrichment program, prompting the United States to warn of even tougher penalties.

And to prove that they are on the complete up-and-up about their uranium enrichment plans, Iran announced that they would limit their cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog organization, and they would press on with their enrichment activities without cease.

Oh yeah, the U.N. Security Council has really put the fear of the U.N. into Iran. I think it’s time for the U.N. to bring out the big guns.

 The Big Guns Misfire

Do you have patience? Can you do without for a while to ensure you get something much nicer later? After our previous move, we realized that we needed a kitchen table. We could have purchased a folding table and chairs for cheap, but my wife and I decided to save up our money each month and hold out for a nice table. After almost a year of saving, I wrote out a large check for a very nice hardwood table and six chairs. We could have had a table much sooner if we had been willing to settle for something cheaper in cost and quality, but we were patient.

When trying to teach the concept of delayed gratification to young kids, I offer them a choice: eat two cookies now, or get a big box of cookies in a few months. For some, the cookies in my hand are much easier to understand than the promise of many more at some distant time. But others, especially older children, are beginning to understand the benefits of patience. Adults demonstrate an understanding of delayed gratification with savings accounts, retirement funds and 401k accounts; you see it every time you hear someone say, “I gotta go to work. We need the money.”

How much are you willing to wait for something? I guess the answer depends on what you’re waiting for and how much you want it. I’m willing to wait a few minutes for my food at some fast-food place, but I wouldn’t wait half an hour. Yet I have no problem with waiting half an hour for my dinner at a nice restaurant. Usually, the bigger the payoff, the more I’m willing to wait. That seems to be common sense. But I have to wonder what sense House Democrats have when they narrowly pass a spending bill that would pull our troops out of Iraq by next year. By broadcasting their unwillingness to wait, they have let the militants in Iraq (and Iran) know that all they have to do is exercise a little more patience, and the U.S. troops will leave — in essence, handing over the reins of a newly-free country to terrorists and thugs.

For now, I give a hearty “thank you” to Speaker Pelosi and the other 217 craven members of the House for letting these murderous thugs know that all they need is a little patience.

Self-proclaimed animal rights activists want to kill a polar bear. Yes, you read me right. Activists who demand for animal rights are calling for the death of Knut, a polar bear recently born in the Berlin zoo but abandoned by his mother. The zoo staff have started to bottle-feed Knut, and this practice has raised the ire of the animal rights activists:

Animal rights activists argue that he should be given a lethal injection rather than brought up suffering the humiliation of being treated as a domestic pet.

“The zoo must kill the bear,” said spokesman Frank Albrecht. “Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws.”

The zoo staff counters that polar bears are rare enough already, so why should they have to listen to vegans suffering from malnutrition anyway? OK, so that’s not exactly what they said, but the gist is there. And I think the California Condor would argue against Albrecht’s argument, too. But the idea of preserving species doesn’t really work for animal rights activists:

But Albrecht and other activists fret that it is inappropriate for a predator, known for its fierceness and ability to fend for itself in the wild, to be snuggled, bottle-fed and made into a commodity by zookeepers.

It’s more important to these animal rights activists that the animals be kept in a pristine natural state than kept alive. Death is preferable to snuggling.

“They cannot domesticate a wild animal,” added Ruediger Schmiedel, head of the Foundation for Bears.

I think Schmiedel means that people shouldn’t domesticate a wild animal. People are certainly capable of domesticating certain wild animals, as every domesticated animal will attest. But animal rights activists have a long laundry list of verboten practices when it comes to animals: domestication of animals, using animals as food, or using their fur, leather, milk, eggs or honey. Strangely enough, not on that list is the practice of euthanizing pets:

It is an unlikely locale for an unlikely criminal case. Today, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a radical animal-rights group that opposes meat-eating, are on trial for the strangest of charges: killing animals….

Now, two of its employees stand accused of tossing garbage bags full of euthanized cats and dogs into a Dumpster behind a Piggly Wiggly in Hertford County, 130 miles northeast of Raleigh.

Adria J. Hinkle and Andrew B. Cook, both of whom work in PETA’s Norfolk office, are charged with 21 counts each of animal cruelty, a felony that can carry prison time, along with littering and obtaining property by false pretenses.

Huh? What are animal rights activists like PETA doing euthanizing unwanted cats and dogs? How on earth can they justify this?

A PETA spokeswoman, Kathy Guillermo, said PETA never wanted to get into the business of euthanizing animals. But she said the group couldn’t ignore the horrible conditions in animal shelters around Norfolk and in northeastern North Carolina. The group now euthanizes thousands of animals a year.

“Euthanasia is a better alternative to sitting in a stinking pound,” Guillermo said. [emphasis mine - ed]

Really? How about using this logic to snuff out people with life sentences in prison? “Euthanasia is a better alternative to sitting in a stinking prison.” Has a certain ring to it. Or how about, “Euthanasia of a calf (and then eating the veal) is better than the alternative of standing in a stinking stall”?

Animal rights advocates are not standing up for animals; they seem quite comfortable killing animals. But it’s all for their own good. So that makes it all OK.

Yeah, right.

Remember the School House Rock cartoons? I love them, so I happily picked up the whole collection (and some I hadn’t seen) on DVD. For those of you who don’t have the DVD or just have bad memories, you can hear the songs and read the lyrics at the main School House Rock site. I point you to that site because I have a math question for you. There were 11 math songs created in all, and in each song there are lots of numbers mentioned. Take all the numbers from all the songs and multiply them all together. What is the final result? Take your time. I’ll wait for you.

Too hard? OK, I’ll do one song for you. Here are all the numbers from the song about the number two titled, “Elementary, My Dear“:

40, 40, 1, 2, 2, 4, 2, 3, 6, 2, 4, 8, 2, 5, 10, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 6, 12, 2, 7, 14, 2, 8, 16, 2, 9, 18, 2, 10, 20, 11, 22, 12, 24, 13, 26, 14, 28, 15, 30, 30, 16, 32, 17, 34, 18, 36, 19, 38, 20, 40, 2, 2, 2, 4, 2, 3, 6, 2, 4, 8, 2, 5, 10, 2, 174, 2, 174, 2, 100, 2, 70, 2, 4, 2, 174, 200, 140, 8, 348, 32, 64, 33, 66, 34, 68, 35, 70, 2, 98, 2, 98, 2, 100, 2, 2, 200, 4, 196, 40, 40

Done the math? Now that’s a very big number! So go do the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have an answer yet, or does the thought of doing math give you hives? Well, I’ll make it simple for you. If you take all the Multiplication Rock songs and multiply together all the numbers mentioned in the lyrics, the final total is zero. Did everyone get that? Aren’t you glad there is a mathematical principle that says multiplying any number by zero will always make the result zero? OK, show of hands, how many people counted the numbers up in any of the other songs? Come on, confession is good for the soul.

For extra-credit math geekery, I’d like to bring up a related formula called the Drake Equation. This equation calculates the number of non-Earth-based civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy with whom we may be able to communicate at some point in the future. Here’s the explanation of the equation from Wikipedia:

The Drake equation states that:

N = R^{*} ~ \times ~ f_{p} ~ \times ~ n_{e} ~ \times ~ f_{l} ~ \times ~ f_{i} ~ \times ~ f_{c} ~ \times ~ L

where:

N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which we might expect to be able to communicate at any given time

and

R* is the rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp is the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne is average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life
fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc is the fraction of the above that are willing and able to communicate
L is the expected lifetime of such a civilization for the period that it can communicate across interstellar space.

Whew. That’s a rather complicated formula, and depending on what values you place for the variables, the end number can vary quite a bit. But here’s my complaint regarding this formula: we can only guess at the values of fl, fi, fc, and L because we just don’t know what they are. Essentially, the Drake Equation is scientific-looking fluff that obscures the fact that we’re multiplying by a guess — and just as multiplying by zero makes the answer zero, multiplying by a guess makes the whole answer a guess, whatever the end number may be. It may be an educated guess or just a WAG, but it still remains a guess.

But the Drake Equation is not the only instance of guessing (as opposed to testable theory) in the scientific community. I often read or hear someone talk about the dire effects of man-made global warming, but rarely does anyone explain how these forecasts are made. Climate change forecasts are based on computer models which scientists create in an attempt to simulate future environments. Here is the first paragraph from an article by NASA about global warming model making:

The severity of these environmental changes will be largely dependent on how much the Earth’s surface warms over the next century. As the wide range of estimates for average global surface temperature suggests, researchers haven’t exactly reached a consensus. The reason for the wide range simply comes down to the difficulty inherent in predicting the outcomes of current trends in both human society and the Earth’s climate system.

If you read carefully, you may notice there’s a lot of wiggle-room in that paragraph, and very little hard science. What are climate scientists doing with these models? They are making guesses. Guesses about how much greenhouse gas concentrations will be around in the next 100 years, guesses about what these gases do to the atmosphere, guesses about how the Earth’s ecosystems will react to these changes — there are lots of guesses going on here, folks.

The severity of these environmental changes will be largely dependent on how much the Earth’s surface warms over the next century. As the wide range of estimates for average global surface temperature might suggest, researchers haven’t exactly reached a consensus. The reason for the wide range simply comes down to the difficulty inherent in predicting the outcome of current trends, both in human society and the Earth’s climate system.

Why should I trust these models when they are based on a multitude of guesses? I can suggest one way of proving the efficacy of climate modeling: feed the computer models known data about greenhouse gases in the year 1907 and allow them to calculate climate changes over the next hundred years. If the models can accurately describe the climate changes that actually occurred over the last century, using only the initial environmental data from 1907, I would be much more likely to trust their ability to forecast accurately the climate changes of the next 100 years, using only the initial environmental data from 2007. Or, to put it another way, I will trust that scientists can predict the weather accurately for a date 100 years in the future if they can first demonstrate the ability to predict the weather accurately for a date 100 days in the future. (Hint: most self-respecting meteorologists won’t attempt to forecast weather and temperature changes anywhere past ten days.)

Here’s the final paragraph from the NASA article:

Climate modelers must consider dozens of such factors, boil them down into equation form, and pack them into their models. Not all models are built alike. There is quite a lot of disagreement among Earth scientists as to how much of a role factors such as aerosols and clouds will play in heating the Earth and how they should be incorporated into the models. For instance, NASA climate modelers at GISS have evidence that black carbon aerosol particles (soot) contributes significantly to warming of the lower atmosphere, since they absorb incoming radiation. The IPCC, on the other hand, estimates that black soot plays only a very small role in warming. Each research group or agency builds its models accordingly, and the choices made influence the forecasts derived from the models. Even when modelers do agree on the mechanisms involved, many of these factors have a great deal of uncertainty associated with them.

It’s all guesswork. And just as any number multiplied by zero becomes zero, any number multiplied by guesswork becomes a guess.

Would you, anonymous stranger, complain if I were to paint the inside of my house a bright green with pink spots? Of course not, because you’d have no business dictating to me how I can or can’t paint my own place. It’s not your place, nor is it your responsibility to dictate what I do. On the other hand, my landlord could certainly complain, keep my security deposit, or demand that I repaint the walls their original color. He has the right to do this because it is his house. Since he has ownership and its associated responsibility, he can dictate exactly what I can and cannot do to the house. But you have no say because it is not your house and not your responsibility.

Is this clear enough? Apparently, not to Congress.

The current brouhaha in Congress comes over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by the Justice Department. Congress has its collective panties in a bunch because it could be *drum roll* politically motivated. *gasp* The horror!

Lawmakers requested the documents as part of an investigation into whether the firings were politically motivated. While it is unclear whether the documents will answer Congress’s questions, they show that the White House and other administration officials were more closely involved in the dismissals, and at a much earlier date, than they have previously acknowledged.

Seven U.S. attorneys were fired on Dec. 7, and another was fired months earlier, with little explanation from the Justice Department….

When Congress asked the Justice Department to fork over documents to justify the firings, the Justice Department should have responded with, “Mind your own business, Congress.” The Justice Department is overseen by the Executive Branch, and its hirings and firings are an internal matter. The title of the above report is “Attorney firings had genesis in White House.” And my response is–yeah; so? The U.S. attorneys work under the auspices of the Chief Executive, not the Legislature, so firings are handled by the Executive Branch. Frankly, the President could have fired any of these people on a whim, if he chose.

Would the White House be justified in asking Speaker Pelosi to explain the firing of someone on her staff? Absolutely not! The Executive Branch has nothing to do with Speaker Pelosi’s staffing issues, and Speaker Pelosi and the rest of Congress should butt out of the private staffing issues of the Executive Branch.

Paul Kane of the Washington Post has expressed his barely contained glee at the subpoenas by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) regarding the firing of the U.S. attorneys. Sanchez asked, “Are these people being removed for doing their job and for doing it too well?” The question is left hanging. Obviously there is something evil going on–or so Kane would have you believe. But his own blog entry has the key quote:

“Today’s hearing was political grandstanding. Every U.S. attorney serves at the pleasure of the president and they know this beforehand. Most of the U.S. attorneys in question served 4 years or longer. Republicans are not going to provide votes for political subpoenas,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the top Republican on the full Judiciary Committee, in a statement.

They serve “at the pleasure of the President,” says Rep. Smith. This sounds very much like “at will” employment. Every job I have had in my professional career to date has been at-will employment. This meant I could be fired for any reason or no reason, and with no prior warning. It also meant I could leave my job for any reason or no reason, and with no prior warning.

So some U.S. attorneys were fired. Big whoop-de-friggin’-doo. Even if these people were fired at the personal request of Pres. Bush, it would still be a non-story. The attorneys worked for him, and he had every right to fire them if he chose to do so, regardless of what meddlesome Democrats in Congress and liberals in the media might say. They have no more say in this event than you have in choosing a paint color for my house.

UPDATE (3/13/2007 2:37:14 PM): Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledges mistakes, successfully pouring oil on the Democrat fire.

“Obviously I am concerned about the fact that information — incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to the Congress,” Gonzales said. “I believe very strongly in our obligation to ensure that when we provide information to the Congress, it is accurate and it is complete. And I very dismayed that that may not have occurred here.”

If the Justice Department had told the Congress to butt out of internal affairs, this wouldn’t be the ginned-up scandal it is today.