Al Gore, Hustler

Gore Hustler

Al, as he is portrayed by the climate change skeptic community. He has no one to blame but himself.

I have mixed feelings about Al Gore. On one hand, I have great compassion for the man, as one of two Presidential candidates in our history to win more popular votes than his adversary, still lose the Presidency, and fail to take the office in a subsequent attempt. I know that would make me angry, bitter and perhaps a little crazy, and in that respect, Al has handled his misfortune well.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t trust Al Gore to deliver a birthday card to John Edwards. Back when I was running a struggling national health care promotion and education non-profit, Senator Gore was the organization’s patron saint, giving us endorsements, opening doors to corporate contributors, and generally bolstering our efforts. I was warned, though, by one of his staffers, not to get too dependent on Gore’s passion. “The Senator likes to find the hot issue and lead it,” she told me. “But he’s been on health care for a while now, and if history is any measure, he’ll move on to something else soon. Don’t rely on his support.” Sure enough, Gore became the herald of “the information super-highway,” later known as the internet, shortly thereafter, and dropped my organization and the health promotion issue flat, without a warning or a good-bye. He just stopped answering our calls.

Gore finally found his perfect hot issue, literally in this case, as the front man for global warming. He has made millions from the issue and the notoriety it brought him, which is fine; he also greatly contributed to public awareness of the issue, which is a good thing: any public awareness of any real public policy issue is an improvement. On the minus side, Gore failed to follow through on his responsibilities and obligations as a spokesperson for climate change policies. He never educated himself on the science of climate change sufficiently to avoid making embarrassing gaffes, and he has continued to over-hype the topic, making apocalyptic pronouncements, treating projections and models as more conclusive than they are, making irresponsible and factually misleading statements,  and generally imitating the technique of the Bush Administration regarding Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.”

He was at it again this week, conclusively affirming that he has crossed the line from advocate to hustler. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Rush Limbaugh

“Speaking of global warming…which has now been proven to be a hoax”…”

—-Rush Limbaugh, riffing today on his radio show regarding the evils of liberals from Obama to Bloomberg.

No, actually, Newsweek is now a hoax.

Actually, Newsweek was the hoax.

This an outright ethics foul, even if Rush believes it. If he doesn’t believe it, it’s a lie. If he does believe it, it is still a reckless, incompetent and irresponsible thing to say to millions of listeners who trust him to tell them the truth.

Global warming, or climate change, is not a hoax. Its exact extent may not be known, or as conclusively known as some scientists and commentators claim. It may be difficult to measure, and the historical data it is being measured against may be flawed. Its researchers may have biases, and have strayed too far over the line into advocacy. They may also have been too willing to stifle dissenting voices in the scientific community. How serious global warming will be, when its effects will be fully felt and how long it will last are all matters of projection and speculation, subject to error. Projections have been, and will continue to be, unreliable, and arguably, too unreliable to justify costly public policy measures. Remedies are speculative, and cost-benefit ratios are in doubt.

It is also true that many of the most vocal and visible supporters of the most dire projections by climate change researchers, as well as the most vociferous attacker of climate change skeptics, literally don’t know what they are talking about. Their fervor is driven by ideology and faith rather than actual expertise and scholarship, and anything they say on the subject should be given no weight whatsoever. This groups includes journalists, columnists, bloggers, celebrities, academics not in the sciences, public officials and leaders, including, depressingly, Barack Obama, whose State of the Union speech comments on climate change were outrageous and irresponsible: Continue reading

Chris Christie and the Curse of Consequentialism

It will be scant consolation to Chris Christie, who probably lost forever any chance of becoming President, but his bi-partisan actions in the wake of Superstorm Sandy provide a perfect example of how a completely ethical and responsible decision can have consequences that cause it to be judged unethical and irresponsible.

Even before Obama won Ohio’s electoral votes, guaranteeing his re-election, analysts were pointing to Christie’s much-photographed stroll with (and hugging of) the President, and the well-timed opportunity it provided to allow Obama to appear both Presidential and willing to co-operate with Republicans, as the tipping point in a close race, breaking Mitt Romney’s momentum and undercutting the argument that only he could “reach across the aisle.” I doubt that Chris and Barack’s New Jersey Adventure was in fact the primary reason Romney lost, but I have no doubt at all that conservatives will blame Christie, among others, for the loss. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

WHAT? A Republican being cooperative and respectful toward the President? What’s the matter with him?”

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy,  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being labelled a turn-coat by some fellow Republicans and conservative commentators for supposedly “sucking up” to President Obama.

“The president has been all over this and he deserves great credit,” the Governor said.  “He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done—as far as I’m concerned—a great job for New Jersey.” Christie not only praised the President’s responsiveness to the plight of his state, along with New York the hardest hit of Sandy’s victims, but also toured disaster sites with Obama, giving the President photo-ops that could bolster his re-election campaign in the crucial final days. Rush Limbaugh bitterly slammed Christie, somewhat cryptically calling him Obama’s “Greek column,” and other talk radio hosts and political pundits followed suit. Here’s the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis: Continue reading