The environmental story of the day concerns a project started by a climate skeptic named Richard Muller, a physicist who was so convinced that actual climate scientists were distorting or misreading the data that he started his own project, called the Berkeley Earth Science Temperature project, to double-check them. Climate deniers were excited -- at last, some actual scientists would prove that global warming is a hoax! The Charles G. Koch foundation even gave money to the project. One prominent climate denier blogger, Anthony Watts, wrote, "I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong." You may be able to guess where this is going.
After Osama bin Laden was killed, I wrote a somewhat contrarian piece arguing that the government should release a photo of his body. I then went on NPR's On the Media to talk about it, alongside the New Yorker's Philip Gourevitch, who was rather contemptuous of my position (audio here, transcript here), but I stuck to it.
The other day, I sorted throughHerman Cain's recent muddled comments on abortion and concluded that he was just unaware that this is an issue that involves laws, both current and potential, that affect what people can and can't do. Every time he got asked about abortion, he would answer as if he were advising a young woman not to get one. So he explained that he believes life begins at conception, and no one should get an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. But he was far less clear on what he thinks the law ought to be.
The two leading stories on the nightly news for the past week have been the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Republican primary race, a contrast so vivid that the reports could be coming from two different planets.
First, we see thousands of citizens so frustrated and angry with economic inequality in the U.S. that they have organized to protest in hundreds of cities around the country. Then we see a group of contenders for president agree that the only economic problem we have is that wealth and influence are not sufficiently concentrated at the top.
In 2008, Barack Obama's campaign ran circles around John McCain's with its deft use of social media, empowering supporters to become active participants. Four years before, Howard Dean shocked everyone into understanding that the Internet could be more than a novelty and could actually generate money and votes. Looking back even further, Bill Clinton and the Democratic National Committee bought a wave of television advertising starting in 1995, beginning the campaign before he even had an opponent.