SocraticGadfly: 1/15/06 - 1/22/06

January 20, 2006

Liberal academia? Not in Oregon

But there is plenty of BushCo censorship

Oregon State University forestry professors tried to censor an article in Science by graduate student Daniel Donato that shows that post-fire logging delays forest recovery.

First, there’s the issue of censorship being practiced by an academic institution in general and a public, taxpayer-supported school in particular.

Second, as OSU’s College of Forestry gets about 10 percent of its operating expenses through a logging tax, there’s a conflict of interest in the professors trying to censor the article.

Third, there’s the idiocy of the Oregon Legislature if it stipulates a percentage of logging taxes go direct to the forestry program rather than the university’s general fund.

Fourth, there’s the lying by both the forestry staff, including dean Hal Salwasser, that they are just concerned the article somehow dodged a full peer review, rather than admitting they don’t know how to counter Donato.

“There was no failure of peer review in this case,” said (Science Editor Donald) Kennedy. “I’m sorry they don't like the outcome, but I think they have a misplaced case here.”
Please, sir, you might be aiding and abetting the trees with such treasonous talk.

Update, Feb. 8: The Bureau of Land Management announced today it would restore funding for the third year of Donato's study, after Rep. Jay Inslee started making noise to Interior’s inspector general.

January 18, 2006

Reason No. 794 Democrats are still in the minority

Two weeks ago, in the wake of Jack Abramoff’s plea agreement, House and Senate Democrats announced they would have a package of lobbying reforms to present to the public soon.

But, when it comes to actually having that package ready to go, the GOP is first to the pole.

If you can’t be better organized than that on a crucial campaign issue, how can you expect to reverse the tide?

Note: This is not a comment on the content of the Repubican package; it’s not perfect, certainly, but it’s not horrible either.

Forget Peak Oil, focus on Peak Copper

Perhaps that’s a bit strong, but not too much, according to Scientific American.

Shorter story? There may not be enough copper in the world for all the world to enjoy the electric infrastructure and concomitant standard of living of First World countries.

And, while iron for steel is still in good supply, the zinc to galvanize it is not. Neither is the platinum for car catalytic converters to reduce the air pollution levels in non-First World countries that eventually manage to get near First World car ownership levels.

Time for more moronity from Cambridge Energy Research Associates

Surprisingly, it’s not Peak Oil Denial, $30/bbl oil pie in the sky or anything similar

No, this time it’s about the possibility of sanctions against Iran, and how gradually stepped up sanctions, including on refined gasoline, could hurt the country.

Here’s the word from CERA’s James Placke.
“Iran’s vulnerability is its gasoline imports,” said Placke, senior associate with Cambridge Energy Research Associates and a former U.S. diplomat.

The U.S. Energy Information says Iran imports about 170,000 barrels per day of gasoline, about one-third its needs.

First, this is Iran, not Iraq. Although there is a fair amount of more liberal discontent, the mullahs will likely have no trouble rallying the country in the face of Western sanctions. As part of that, if gasoline rationing is needed, they’ll do it.

Second, the China, Russia (and India, not mentioned in the article) that want to do oil business in Iran will either build Iran one or more gasoline refineries or else transship refined gasoline down the Caspian Sea if necessary.

If this former diplomat is the type of person providing unofficial back-channel advice to BushCo, we’re in big trouble.

January 16, 2006

Jack Abramoff: GOP bagman or his own?

I think Jack was trying to play both ends against the middle in all of his scandals.

By giving his direct money only to GOPers, he could portray himself as a loyal K Streeter.

By directing his tribal (and other) clients’ money (and some of his other favors) to big hitters from both parties, albeit more to Republicans because they hold the majority, he was able to engage in, not so much pre-K Street lobbying, but pre-K muscling in on things.

Just as Tom DeLay shows no more loyalty to “true conservative principles” than what he needs to do to get reelected, so I think the record will similary show for Jack Abramoff that he showed no more loyalty to “true K Street principles” than was necessary to expand the reach of his power politics.

Again, because the GOP has the majority and has thrown around the weight of that majority, there's going to be a lot more Republican than Democratic wind-sucking when this settles.

But, if this were the 1990s, and Abramoff thought he could find a Democratic Congressional hitman to out-Rosty Dan Rostenkowski, he’d been showing primarily Democratic Congressmen the way to turn the post office scandal into major payola.

I agree that the GOP is primarily at fault here, and has brought a lot of this on themselves.

But, ultimately, Jack Abramoff was playing Jack Abramoff’s game, not the GOP's game.