Friday, October 19, 2007


It's been a roller coaster of a calender week, yessiree. Former vice-president Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize -- fast on the heels of that other notable American institution, Jimmy Carter. And Ellen Degeneres cried a lot on her TV show.

As Tony Blankley observes, "It is hard to say which of Al Gore's awards seems more improbable: his Academy Award, although he does not possess a single skill required for filmmaking, or his Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, although he has no technical skills in that area and he has misled the world profoundly as to the danger." He was, however, if memory serves, actually vice president for a time, twice, I think. Oh yes, and he ran for president a while back too -- lost that one. But isn't it funny how of the last five elections he was involved in, he won four? Wasn't there some scandal about that presidential race? Something about the Electoral College vs. the Popular Vote? Yes, I think there was. Seems like he always gets the most votes. The guy must be really charismatic.

Cuz he's not very accurate.

Gore says sea level will rise 20 feet this century. His IPCC "co-award winners said about 1 foot -- the same increase in sea level experienced during the past 150 years." Gore says there is grave and imminent danger from the fast melting of Greenland's glaciers. "His co-award winners (the scientists) concluded that if sustained, the melt would add -- at most -- just 3 inches to sea level." He ignores such inconvenient factoids as that the over-all temperature of Greenland in 1941 was higher than that of today. Gore is accurate in saying that by 2050 climate warming may kill up to 400,000 people. But he "carefully failed to point out that 1.8 million lives will be saved from the cold that global warming will replace. So global warming will save a net of 1.4 million lives, rather than cost 400,000 lives." Gore says the population of polar bears is shrinking, whereas in fact "their population is rising. The award Gore truly deserves (and the one for which I hereby nominate him is): Best Scary Campfire Storyteller. (He should beat out the hook on the car window story handily.)"

He won the Peace Prize, right? -- it wasn't for Literature?

Then there's Ellen, who got a puppy from a shelter and later gave it to her hairdresser -- the dog was incompatible with her cats -- then the shelter took it back. Honestly, seeing the clip, it's touching. She is sincere and contrite and passionate. How could she be wrong? Well, for one thing, the breed of dog in question doesn't do well with kids. Apparently it is a Brussels Griffon. Huh? A toy-sized dog. Very fragile. High-strung.


"You can seriously injure or kill a Brussels Griffon by stepping on him or by sitting on him when he's curled under a blanket or pillow, where he frequently likes to sleep. And Brussels Griffons can seriously injure or kill THEMSELVES by leaping from your arms or off the back of your sofa. A larger dog can grab a Brussels Griffon and break his neck with one quick shake. ... Brussels Griffon puppies are NOT suited to children, no matter how well-meaning the child. ... Even Brussels Griffon adults may feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making -- and stress and shyness (even defensive biting) may be the result."

Ellen's hairdresser has prepubescent girls and a dog. So the shelter has a solid case, in terms of the dog's welfare. As for the kids' welfare, that is the concern of the parents. The story turns from unfortunate to ugly, however, here: Ellen's publicist called up the shelter and warned them to return the puppy or they would get a lot of negative media attention, which, I paraphrase, 'would be bad for business.' Ellen released the name of the agency, which has received death threats and an overwhelming amount of hate mail at their website -- now down.

This is what I would call an attempt at coercion, extortion, and a vile abuse of a position of power. Ugly ugly ugly. All of a sudden Ellen's tears take on a different meaning -- one of frustrated petulance, and her passion has too much of willfulness in it. For shame.

Do you see the connection? The troublesome Gore, who has the -- would it be temerity or audacity? -- to entitle his filmstrip "An Inconvenient Truth," while distorting and misrepresenting the truth in a truly unethical manner. It's a pattern. In Gore's other world-shaking scandal, he undermined his rival in a way that no other politician has done in living memory, save of course for Jimmy Carter. Y'see, Florida had rules that determined the validity of a cast ballot. There was no honorable excuse for inventing the concept of a dimpled or hanging chad. Gawd. Likewise, the American presidency is not determined by the popular vote. It's determined by the Electoral College. That's the rule, that everyone knew about ahead of time.

If you don't like a rule, you're not allowed to just ignore it or just change it because you don't like the outcome. At best, you negotiate a new rule. Usually you just have to accept the result. If you're running for the presidency, you campaign to win states, not individual votes. That's the system that everyone knows about. If the rules were different, the Bush campaign would have run a different strategery. If you're counting ballots, you count according to the predetermined rules of validity. If you're purporting to present scientific facts, you have to be able to demonstrate and defend your conclusions, without recourse to bald assertion.

Same thing with Ellen. She signed a contact. Done deal. The dog was not hers to give away. A sort of joint custody thing. Did two little girls get their hearts broken? Well, that's what little girls do for a living. The two weeks that they played with the puppy do not constitute "bonding". The world is over-full of puppies. Get them another one, and explain to them the nature of contract law, which is a very pillar of our society. Valuable civics lesson for them, and one they are unlikely to get in school. Contraceptive pills, yes; civics lessons, no.

Adults deal with disappointment, and help usher children through it by demonstrating self-control and a sense of perspective. The puppy is fine, it's just in another home. Adults deal with positions of power by acting with integrity, by striving to be worthy of the trust they have been granted. Adults must understand that rules matter. Gawd. Isn't that what playgrounds are all about? Teaching kids to play by the rules?


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