“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain

Speaking of knowing for sure, Al Gore is pushing a documentary in which he stars, called An Inconvenient Truth. It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, and will have a limited release in the United States in May. You can watch the trailer at YouTube to see the fear-mongering this movie employs. (On a side note, Gore introduces himself as, “I am Al Gore. I used to be the next President of the United States of America.” While this comment elicits hoots of amusement from the audience, it isn’t true. At no point was Al Gore ever slated to become President because at no point in the process did he ever have the necessary number of electoral votes. But that’s a minor nit.)

You can visit the official website for the documentary at ClimateCrisis.net. I took the Mark Twain quote from the first of several quotes to display on the Climate Crisis main page. I find it very interesting that they use it. The site itself is very slick, composed with Flash, but I personally prefer a more low-key site. Whenever I see a site that’s overly “flashy,” I have to wonder if they are using slick packaging to compensate for the fact that the data can’t sell itself. Here’s a chunk from the site:

“What is Global Warming?

Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and temperatures are rising.

Overlooking the grammatical errors such as comma splices and run-on sentences, this is a wonderful bit of misdirecting prose. “Carbon dioxide and other gases” starts it off, getting the readers focused on carbon dioxide while lumping all the rest into the “other” category. But since CO2 comprises less than 3% of the greenhouse gases, that “other” group is rather large. Carbon dioxide, however, has been the poster-child substance of global warming.

Further, in that first sentence it states that the greenhouse gases help keep us warm by “trapping solar heat.” But Steven J. Milloy, the brains behind JunkScience.com, contests this language.

Greenhouse gases … do not “trap heat,” but could be fairly described as delaying the energy transfer from Earth to space. “Trapping heat” implies that the energy is stuck in the system forever — this is a false notion. Greenhouse gases do not emit energy in the same bandwidth that they absorb energy, and thus emissions from carbon dioxide are not absorbed by carbon dioxide. While energy may be delayed on its inevitable journey back to space, it will eventually be emitted regardless of the number of intervening stages.

As part of its drum-beat of environmental woe, the Climate Crisis site states that man’s actions have “dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.” Hold onto your hats, folks! They are right that CO2 levels have increased in the last two centuries. All the decades of factories, coal plants, and automobile emissions have raised the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere from about 0.028% to about 0.038%. That’s two hundredths of one percent increase, and that is what is known among environmental fear-mongers as a dramatic increase. To put that into perspective, it’s like calling up your electric company and complaining about your monthly bill having been “dramatically increased” because it went from $100.00 to $100.02.

And right after shocking you about an increase in atmospheric CO2, they hit you with “and temperatures are rising.” I normally call these rising temperatures “Spring,” and I don’ t freak out about it. Humor aside, is there any proof that the two hundredths of one percent increase in CO2 is the sole cause of the temperature increase? The increase in solar activity and global warming on Mars (and Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto) suggest to me that the primary cause of our temperature increase is not man-made. But that sort of idea doesn’t get government grants or create documentaries.

Visit the Climate Crisis site and watch the movie trailer. Then visit Milloy’s page at Junk Science and read his explanation of the real inconvenient truth about global warming. It’s not made with Flash, and there isn’t any music playing in the background, but there are over 6,000 words of solid information, debunking the global warming propaganda with real, checkable, scientific facts. I quoted one part above, but here are two bits that I think are particularly worth quoting:

Change is what the climate is always doing and is the result of our planet’s orbital eccentricities, axial wobble, solar brightness variation, cosmic ray flux, etc.. There are also plausible terrestrial drivers of climate change too, including super volcanic events and tectonic movement, but these are not in the realm of anthropogenic (manmade) effects and so we won’t looking at them here.

The global mean temperature over which there has been so much obsession is only one part of climate — for example, how wet or dry the climate happens to be is probably of far greater significance than a simple mean temperature — in fact, it’s not even clear that a global mean temperature is a particularly useful metric. However, it is the cause of great angst at present so it will remain the focus of this document for that reason alone.

But we’re responsible for all the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect?

Gracious no! Humans can only claim responsibility, if that’s the word, for about 3.4% of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually, the rest of it is all natural (you can see the IPCC representation of the natural carbon cycle and human perturbation here or a simple schematic from Woods Hole here). Half our estimated emissions fail to accumulate in the atmosphere,” “disappearing” into sinks as yet undetermined.

After you read Milloy’s Junk Science page, I think you will agree that those people who beat the drum of man-made global warming are the people who already know for sure that man is causing it. And they won’t let a little inconvenient truth get in their way.

Today is Election Day in the United States. Initially I thought this was a day specifically prescribed by the Constitution, but a quick reread shows that the first Tuesday of November (assuming it isn’t also the first day of the month) is not specified as election day. That was later decreed by Congress. This would explain why several states have come up with the idea of “early voting” this year as a response to the many cries of “disenfranchisement” raised in the 2000 election.

What is disenfranchisement? Rather than the generic definition of depriving someone of a franchise (“Go away, you! This is my McDonald’s now!”), disenfranchisement in this political arena means to deprive someone of the right to vote. There are laws on the books right now that strip convicted felons of the right to vote, as well as the rights of freedom and free assembly, among others. Because of their actions, felons have lost their right to vote. Our laws also disenfranchise another large group of people — non-Americans. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you may not vote in our elections. But give it some time, and you will find that more people will petition that non-citizens be given the right to vote here.

There are people who claim that accidentally voting for the wrong candidate disenfranchised them. Remember the folks in Floriduh? “I’m such a blithering idiot, I can’t follow a simple punch ballot.” Assuming that these people actually were thickheaded enough to pick the wrong guy, they did vote, so they were not disenfranchised. They were just morons. Then there is the often-used lie that a million blacks were disenfranchised in Florida because their votes were not recounted, or because there were over-votes (more than one vote for President on a ballot) or under-votes (no votes for President on a ballot). In each case, the people were allowed to vote; thus their rights were not denied. About the only voters who ran the risk of being disenfranchised were the military voters whom Democrat lawyers petitioned the state to ignore — this from the same people who chanted “every vote should count” later in November. Oh, the irony.

In reality, when Democrats and Republicans say that every vote should count, they mean two different things. Democrats mean that every vote should count by all the people, dead or alive, citizens or not, for as many times as they voted. This is why the dead of Chicago vote again and again, and why Chad Staton got crack cocaine from a NAACP worker in Ohio for filling out 124 false voter registration forms. “Vote early and vote often” is not just a silly phrase for Democrats. Republicans mean that every vote should be counted once, and only once, for every legal voter because that is what the law says. But this idea is too strict and narrow-minded for the Marxist Left. They want their power back, and what’s a little voter fraud between friends as long as they get what they want?

I’ll tell you what I want — I want every American citizen who cares to vote, to vote once and only once. I would not force people to vote. I would not fine people who choose not to vote. But I would strictly prosecute anyone who votes illegally in any way. The first thing I would do is require everyone to register to vote again, making all current registrations null and void. To register to vote, each citizen would have to prove his or her identity with a valid photo ID and proof of U.S. citizenship. When I got my new driver’s license last month, I had to prove I was who I said I was with a valid out-of-state license and birth certificate papers, and having proven who I was, I took advantage of the “motor voter” laws to register right then to vote. But I could have walked down to the county voter registration office and registered to vote with nothing but some proof that I lived in the county. No photo ID or proof of U.S. citizenship was necessary in that office; it would have been easy to fool them. Clearly, proving your identity for a driver’s license is more important in this state than ensuring a clean voter registration roll.

Second, I would ensure that you must be present to vote. This means I would not allow absentee ballots, since unless you are present there is no way of proving you are who you say you are. If you cannot be in your home district to vote, then you cannot vote. The only exception I would allow would be for active military deployed overseas. When a voter arrives to vote, three things would be necessary: a valid photo ID like a current state driver’s license or U.S. passport, proof of citizenship, and proof of registration.

Third, I would ensure that the ballots are not easily tampered with. After proving identity and citizenship, the voter would then sign his or her name to the voter roll and fingerprint both the signature and the ballot. This ballot would be numbered and trackable. Punch-card ballots are too easily tampered with and would not be allowed. Neither would I allow the paperless electronic voting machines being advocated around the U.S. It is too easy for votes to disappear when there is nothing physical to count again if needed. I would only allow optically scanned ballots that the voter completes by filling in the appropriate circle with a pen. These ballots can be read quickly by counting machines, and recounted easily. This system combines the best parts of computer ballot tabulation and the physical paper trail necessary to ensure the honesty of elections.

Finally, I would punish harshly anyone who falsely registers or tampers with ballots. Since these people have tampered with the voting process, one just punishment would be permanent disenfranchisement. It is only fitting, after all.

Sadly, I am realistic enough to know that these steps will never be taken in my lifetime. But I can dream.

So get out there and vote today. If you are registered, and if you do it honestly. If not, let me sincerely invite you to go directly to hell, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

Addendum (11/2/2004): Drudge is reporting some exit poll results before the polls officially close with a caution that these results are very unreliable. If the results are unreliable, and have been historically unreliable, WHY THE #@$% ARE YOU REPORTING THEM! Grrr! If I could, I would ban all reporting of exit poll results until after the polls actually close. You can scream about a violation of your freedom of speech, but I believe that right is trumped by the responsibility of not allowing the election to be affected in mid-polling.

Addendum (11/3/2004): Here I am, awake at 5 am, and looking over election results for the past hour. I am so very glad that President Bush pulled such large numbers to make it harder to repeat the prolonged vote haggling we got in 2000 in Florida. This year it looks like Ohio is the contested state, but with President Bush significantly in the lead, Ohio’s 20 electoral votes should be given to President Bush and seal the election. The only possible snag are the provisional ballots, and while there are currently more than the vote difference between President Bush and Senator Kerry, they won’t matter. Captain Ed points out that Ohio will only swing to Senator Kerry if 100% of the provisional ballots are accepted and if 100% of the accepted ballots go to Senator Kerry. And neither will happen. I hear the fat lady singing, Senator, don’t you?

Addendum (11/3/2004): Apparently Senator Kerry heard her and conceded. This shows some class on his part more than Al Gore. What else can I say but “Four more years!”

Addendum (11/9/2004): There are people who are so sorry that President Bush won. And others who are not sorry. I submitted the following image to the sad-sack crowd, but I doubt it will ever be posted.

Yarr harr harr harr!

Since we are drawing close to election time, albeit local elections, I thought it might be a good time to review the election of George W. Bush. Few elections have seen as much controversy, or as much erroneous blather, as the presidential election of 2000.

“If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida and be our next president of the United States,” pouted William Daley, former Clinton Secretary of Commerce and Gore’s 2000 election chairman. The problem is that the president is not elected by popular vote. Each state is a winner-take-all for the candidates, and the electoral college then elects the president with a total of 270 or more votes. Daley should know that, but he wanted his man to win.

Voters keenly anticipated the 2000 presidential election, as the polls projected election results with ever-narrowing margins as the day approached. But this time things would be different because of just how close the vote turned out to be. All the nation ended up focusing on Florida, with its 25 electoral votes. Just as the Florida precincts closed, Peter Jennings of ABC News declared that Gore had taken Florida–with 0% of the precincts reporting. It is not unusual for a major news figure to call a state right away for a candidate, since on election day the news outlets run numerous exit polls. But here is the stinger: when Jennings called Florida for Gore, he did so before all of Florida had finished voting. The Florida panhandle is in a different time zone, and voters there still had an hour before the polls closed. When Jennings called the state for Gore, he directly influenced unknown numbers of Republicans in the panhandle to stay home. After all, if the state had already gone to Gore, why vote? Shamefacedly, the media had to retract news of a Gore victory in Florida.

There was very little evidence to call a state prematurely, yet Florida, with its razor-thin voting margin, was called instantly for Gore. Why? Could it be because Jennings and other major media pundits are Democrats? When Bush won Tennessee, Gore’s home state, the media delayed calling it for Bush for several hours, even though the margin there was much wider than in Florida. Here, then, is the media trend–call victories for Gore early, while delaying any victories for Bush. Journalistic ethics demand that members of the media cannot show public partisanship, even though 75% or more of them voted for Gore.

Al Gore was preparing to make his concession speech, after having called Bush and congratulating him on his victory. But as the vote tallies kept coming in from Florida and the victory margin grew slimmer and slimmer, Gore stopped his motorcade and called Bush back. He was not yet ready to admit defeat. All eyes, both nationally and internationally, turned to Florida. Whoever won there would win the presidency. Florida law requires a mandatory vote recount if the difference between the top two candidates is less than 1/2 of one percent.

This was the beginning of the recounting of the votes. After the legally required vote recount, Bush was still the victor, albeit with a slimmer margin. At this point, did Gore decide to do the honorable thing and concede that Bush had won? Are you kidding? Instead, Democrat lawyers began to descend on Florida and muddy up the waters.

Since the Democrats could not accept losing the Presidency, they demanded recount after recount. Rest assured that if a recount had ever gone Gore’s way, they would have stopped counting and proclaimed that the will of the people had finally been revealed. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Gore’s running mate, said during this time that they wanted “a full and fair count of every legally cast ballot.” This meant the Democrats requested that all of Florida’s votes be counted a third time, right? Wrong! They only wanted a recount in three of Florida’s 67 counties. I have a hard time understanding how this is a “full and fair count of every legally cast ballot,” but these are the same people who had problems defining the words “is” and “alone.”

The Democrats only wanted a recount of those three counties because they were counties with strong Democrat populations. It only makes sense that recounting in those specific counties would pull in more Democrat votes since they were statistically more likely to find ballots cast for Democrats. Was this an honest search for the truth? No! This was vote-grubbing on the Democrats’ part.

Now imagine for a moment that you are watching the final play of the Super Bowl on TV, and one team has the ball on the 10-yard line ready for a field goal. If the kicker misses the upright goal by one yard, is it still a field goal? Is it a field goal if the ball passes one inch below the goal? In both cases, the answer is no. How would the other team react if the referee decided to change the rules in mind-game, counting the ball passing one yard line outside the goalposts as a field goal? The team and the fans would be enraged, particularly if this change would swing the victory in the game. It may sound silly, but this is exactly what happened during the recount. The standard method of tabulating votes during a manual recount is to count a punched chad if it hangs by one or two corners of the ballot. But during the recount, the three counties decided to count chads connected by three corners, or even if they were merely dimpled. This was changing the rules in mid-game to favor the losing team. Near the end of the recount, ballot counters even started trying to read voters’ minds. “The only [votes] we reconstructed were the ones we could tell the intent of the voter,” said Sterling Watson, a member of the canvassing board of heavily-Democrat Gadsden County. Is it any wonder that the recount garnered 170 new votes for Gore, and only 17 for Bush?

In the end, the Supreme Court stopped the endless recounting, and Gore had to admit defeat. A year later, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago announced that if the entire state had been recounted, Bush still would have won. This research included the ballots with no votes for president, known as “undervotes,” and those with votes for more than one candidate, known as “overvotes.” Bush truly was elected.

This does not stop the left from crying “Disenfranchisement!” any time the subject comes up. But was anyone truly disenfranchised in Florida? Actually, yes. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research looked carefully at the voting results, and determined that African-American Republicans who voted in Florida were 54 to 66 times more likely than the average African-Americans to have their ballots declared invalid. How could this be? And why were there so many overvotes in Florida? I cannot be sure what happened, but I do know it is trivially simple to change or deface votes on a punch-card ballot. In a matter of seconds, a dishonest person could grab an inch-thick stack of ballots and ram a thin wire down the ballot hole for a particular candidate. Any votes for that candidate would still be his, but a vote for anyone else would be transformed into an overvote and discarded. And because these ballots would have been punched by an improvised tool, many of the chads would still stick to the ballots. Depending on how thick the stack of ballots was, this theoretical fraudster might create numerous ballots with only a dimple in the chad. Ever heard of a pregnant chad? Well, now you know of a very easy way to make one.

Was Bush elected? Absolutely. He won each and every recount performed in Florida, even the ones skewed against him. But will this change the minds of those who hate him with a rare passion? No; he will always be the stupid, bumbling cowboy in their eyes. Long after the 2000 election passes into history, they will continue to mouth the meaningless phrase, “Selected, not elected.”