December 16, 2009

Liberal Politics in Action

The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.
Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's. Despite its spending more money per capita, period, than almost any city in the nation, San Francisco has poorly managed, budget-busting capital projects, overlapping social programs no one is certain are working, and a transportation system where the only thing running ahead of schedule is the size of its deficit.

...Amazingly, this gets worse. After securing the bond funding to save Laguna Honda as a hospital for the elderly, the Department of Public Health began transferring younger, often dangerous and mentally ill patients there and mixing them among the old people. This went about as well as you'd think: A 2006 state and federal licensing survey noted numerous instances of elder abuse, staff abuse, and patients toting drugs, alcohol, and even loaded weapons. One patient was assaulted four times in four months; to address this problem, staff erected signs reading "No Hitting." (That didn't work.) To cap it off, elder activists now worry that a 2009 Department of Public Health–commissioned report will pave the way for even more relatively young, mentally ill patients heading to Laguna Honda. The massively overbudget, behind-schedule hospital may not even end up primarily serving the elderly population that voters were promised it would.

Read the whole thing. San Francisco municipal government makes the DC municipal government look competent.

December 11, 2009

Circling the Wagons

Physics Group Splinters Over Global Warming Review
The scientist who will head the American Physical Society's review of its 2007 statement calling for immediate reductions of carbon dioxide is Princeton's Robert Socolow, a prominent supporter of the link between CO2 and global warming who has warned of possible "catastrophic consequences" of climate change.

..."It is Socolow whose entire research funding stream, well over a million dollars a year, depends on continued alarm over global warming," says William Happer, a fellow Princeton University professor and head of the Happer physics lab who has raised the question of a conflict of interest. The reason: the ostensibly neutral person charged with evaluating a statement endorsing man-made global warming is a leading proponent of precisely that theory whose funding is tied to that theory.

Wait, it gets better!
Hal Lewis, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has been an APS member for 65 years, says that he asked both the current and incoming APS presidents to require that Socolow recuse himself from a review of this subject, and both refused.

That means the review will be "chaired by a guy who is hip deep in conflicts of interest, running a million-dollar program that is utterly dependent on global warming funding," Lewis says. In addition, he points out that the group charged with taking a second look at the 2007 statement, the Panel on Public Affairs, is the same body that drafted it in the first place. That, "too has a smell of people investigating themselves," Lewis says.

And the warmers wonder how people could ever doubt! When a company's books are called into question by the shareholders, the audit isn't handed over to the people keeping those books. Instead, the shareholders (and the SEC) demand an independent audit. For years, what most skeptics (and many climate scientists!) have called for is just such an audit, in the face of substantial evidence that the AGW "books" are at least slightly cooked.

Yet what we have seen over and over again, and what is on full display in the HCRU dump, is the "circle the wagons" mentality that shuts out all independent scrutiny of the details in the "books."

Instead, the response is to try to shoot those darn Injuns.