Of Assassinations in Dubai and Ideological Narratives

In the ancient times before the blogosphere, when even Internet forums were still a novelty, and blogs nonexistent, one occasionally ran across mainstream media types who would hilariously claim, with a perfectly straight face, that their news reporting was “objective.”  Nowadays such specimens have become a great rarity, seldom encountered outside of circus side shows.  Even the lowliest of trolls are now well aware of the existence of what is referred to as the “narrative.”  The narrative requires that reality be “adjusted” to conform to a particular ideological point of view.  These adjustments are seldom applied in the form of blatant lies.  In these days of instant Internet fact checking, it has simply become too risky.  Rather, one only reports stories that conform to the narrative, perhaps after trimming them of certain “irrelevant details” and adding some “interpretation” by “experts” to make sure readers don’t miss the point.  In other words, the story is massaged until, as the Germans put it, “Es passt in den Kram” (It fits in with the rest of the crap).

Sometimes events of such a shocking nature occur that even the most carefully crafted narratives must be adjusted to account for them.  One such event was, of course, the demise of Communism.  As one might expect, it left the narrative of the “progressive left” in a shambles.  A new, somewhat ramshackle version had to be cobbled together, from such ideological flotsam and jetsam as bobbed to the surface after the Soviet Titanic slid beneath the waves, combined with some interesting new twists.  One of the more amusing of these is the left’s increasingly steamy love affair with the more extreme Islamists.  It seems odd on the face of it that ideologues who once posed as champions of women’s liberation and gay rights, and vehemently denounced the agenda of the Christian right, are now found in such a warm embrace with misogynistic, homophobe religious fanatics.  However, Homo sapiens has never really been a rational animal.  We are simply better than the other animals at using reason to satisfy our emotional needs.  When it comes to emotional needs, there are those among us whose tastes run to “saving” the rest of us and making us all “happy” by stuffing the messianic world view du jour down our collective throats.  These are the familiar types who love to strike heroic poses on the “moral high ground.”  Marxism scratched their emotional itch admirably for many years, but has lately fallen out of fashion.  When it did, it left something of a psychological vacuum in its wake.  Mercifully, no brand new surefire prescription for saving humanity was waiting in the wings to take its place.  Instead, radical Islamism has rushed in to fill the vacuum.  When it comes to messianic world views, it is, for the time being at least, the only game in town.  Incongruous successor to Marxism that it is, it still scratches that itch.  The “progressive left” jumped on board.  It should really come as no surprise.  After all, back in the day, they managed to convince themselves that they were “saving the world” by collaborating in the mass murders of Pol Pot and Ho chi Minh, not to mention Stalin. 

Artifacts of this Islamist – leftist love affair are not hard to find.  When it comes to the European news media, for example, it takes the form of anti-Semitism Lite, often euphemistically referred to as “anti-Zionism.”  It manifests itself in the form of obsessive, one-sided bashing of Israel for the slightest real or imagined infractions of the left’s version of “morality,” combined with a the turning of a blind eye to the far more egregious misdeeds of her enemies.  For example, deliberate attempts by the Islamists to murder Israeli civilians with barrages of rockets are reported with as much emotional detachment as the next day’s weather, but grossly exaggerated accounts of atrocities in Gaza and “blood libel” fables about the harvesting of organs from Palestinian victims become the stuff of persistent propaganda campaigns without the slightest shred of proof. 

The process is nicely illustrated by the manner in which the news about the recent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai has been reported in Europe.  There, as in the US, the “progressive left” tends to be over-represented in the legacy media.  It is overwhelmingly the case in Germany, where no equivalent of our talk radio or influential bloggers exists to restore a semblance of balance.  Consider, for example, the coverage in Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine.  A story about the assassination that appeared last week began with the ominous headline, “How Israel Covered Mossad’s Trail.”  The opening blurb reads, “The Israeli secret service will neither ‘confirm nor deny’ its involvement in the murder of Hamas weapons dealer Mabhouh.  However, the Dubai assassin who went by the cover name Michael Bodenheimer left a trail behind him:  In Cologne and in Israeli Herzliya.”  The rest of the article is a collection of circumstantial evidence combined with suggestions that the crime had all the earmarks of a Mossad hit. 

The “news” here is hardly that Mossad wasn’t involved in the hit.  It’s the disconnect between the way Spiegel reported on this story, which happened to fit its anti-Israel narrative, and the way it reports on similar stories that don’t.  Take for example, the involvement of Al Qaeda in 911.  This was a story that most decidedly did not fit Spiegel’s pro-Islamist narrative at the time.  It also came at an inconvenient time, as Spiegel was in the forefront of a quasi-racist German jihad against the United States that reached levels of obsessive viciousness at about the time of 911 that would scarcely be credible to Americans who can’t read German.   Nevertheless, all the same circumstantial evidence was there, complete with a trail leading back to Germany.  In this case, however, instead of accepting the obvious, Spiegel’s editors dug in their heels, and tried to create an alternate version of reality.  They began what I referred to at the time as the “Spielchen mit den Beweisen,” or “cute little game with the proofs,” coming up with ever more contrived reasons to dismiss the increasing mountain of evidence pointing to Al Qaeda’s guilt.  Even when bin Laden appeared on tape, practically jumping up and down and screaming, “We did it!  We did it!” the editors refused to throw in the towel.  They were nothing if not stubborn.  Reality was what they said it was, and the rest of the world be damned!  They pointed out that (aha, oho), the translators of the videotape had been in the employ of the evil Americans.  They produced their own “translators” from the enormous pool of experts they have constantly at their beck and call, ready to “prove” the most absurd concoctions.  These came up with a “corrected” translation on demand which (surprise, surprise) exonerated bin Laden.  Only after a chorus of native Arab speakers in countries that could hardly be portrayed as “friends” of the United States pointed out that Spiegel’s “translators” were sucking canal water, did the editors finally give over, muttering dark comments about the “exegesis of videotapes.” 

In a word, then, as far as ideologues are concerned, be they on the left or the right of the political spectrum, the “real world” is what fits the narrative.  When it comes to dishing out blame, let him beware whom the ideological shoe fits.

UPDATE:  It’s odd that Spiegel didn’t pick up on this.  Looks like prime material for another “Spielchen mit den Beweisen” to me.

Post Bush German Anti-American Hate: Another Data Point

Not all Germans are obsessed with hate – only enough of them to make a lucrative clientele for the peddlers of hate, such as the editors of Spiegel magazine. If you thought the haters didn’t learn anything from the Holocaust, you would be wrong. It goes without saying that it wasn’t the seemingly obvious lesson that hatred of entire peoples is a bad thing that can lead to mass murder and self-destruction. Rather, they learned that open expressions of hatred directed at the Jews were inappropriate, and should take the form of “anti-Zionism.” One could, on the other hand, hate Americans, not only openly, but with impunity.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” So it is with the German haters. They have never been behind hand in coming up with flimsy rationalizations for their hatred. For a while, they fobbed off their obsessive interest in anything negative about America as “objective criticism.” When that became too ludicrous, even for them, they seized on the hapless George W. Bush. Every mindless, bitter, frothing-at-the-mouth expression of anti-American hate, no matter that it was directed at the American people as a whole, and not at any specific sin of the Administration, was glibly passed off as “opposition to Bush.” I suspect many of the haters believed their own lies. German haters have never been adept at looking at themselves in the mirror. Now Bush is long gone, but their hatred remains.

The latest artifact thereof is a charming piece that appeared on Spiegel’s website today entitled, “United Nightmares of America.” It is essentially a “68er’s” wet dream. The 68ers are the German equivalent of the “New Left” of the late 60’s in the US. As those of us who were around at the time will recall, they were noble idealists who served the cause of social justice by collaborating with Pol Pot and Ho chi Minh. One of these 68ers, a Dane by the name of Jacob Holdt, happened to become side-tracked in the USA while on his way to South America to bring a brave new world to Chile after the fashion of Castro’s Cuba. While here, he wallowed in every cesspool he could find, snapping pictures all the while. This, of course, became the substance of the “nightmare” referred to by Spiegel. According to Spiegel, “These are pictures that bear witness to poverty, violence, and despair: a prostitute giving herself a fix, a grim, aged white woman guarding the entrance to her hovel with a revolver, a young black, cleaning his valuable gun in the midst of poverty.” You get the idea.

One would think that the citizens of a country guilty of one of the vilest episodes of mass murder, destruction, and racism the world has ever witnessed would have been chastened by the event. One would think that, instead of attempting to relieve themselves of that historic guilt by obsessing about the sins of others, they would look for the reasons for that debacle within themselves, and seek to root it out once and for all. However, far from seeking to root out the hatred that once manifested itself as the Third Reich, they continue to cultivate it today. In Germany today, hatred is not a reason for shame. Rather, it is given free reign, redirected at Americans and tarted up in such threadbare garb as a “fight for social justice.”

One would think that, if the legions of haters in Germany were honestly concerned about social justice, they would look at problems closer to home, problems that they could actually do something to solve. Instead of obsessing about racism in the US, one would think that they would seek to fight their own far more blatant and open racism. Comparable in its contempt for minorities with anything ever encountered in the old South, it bars them from access to decent housing, and keeps them in their own mini-ghettos, euphemistically referred to as “quarters for asylum seekers.” Instead of obsessing about poverty in the US, one would think that they would work to alleviate poverty in their own cities, where one can find beggars on any street corner. Instead of obsessing about social inequality in the US, one would think they would seek to eliminate it in Germany, a country stratified into classes according to wealth and social status beyond the imagination of anything ever seen by Americans.

Spiegel has posted a whole series of the photographs of the noble Jacob Holdt, their facilitator of hate du jour. In response, I will post only one.


Crunch Time for the National Ignition Facility

ICFThe news from California is encouraging.  In an article recently published in Science and summarized on the website of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), scientists working at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) report efficient coupling of energy from all 192 beams of the giant facility into a hohlraum target similar to the one that will be used later this year in the first attempts to achieve fusion ignition and “breakeven,” usually defined as more energy production from fusion than was carried in the laser beams used to hit the target.  The design energy of the NIF is 1.8 megajoules, and, according to the latest reports from Livermore, the threshold of one megajoule has already been achieved. 

In inertial confinement fusion, or ICF, the target, a thin, spherical shell containing a mixture of deuterium and tritium, two heavy isotopes of hydrogen, is first compressed and imploded to very high densities.  A series of converging shocks then create a “hot spot” in the center of the compressed material, setting off fusion reactions which release enough energy to set off a “burn wave.”  This wave propagates out through the remaining fuel material, heating it to fusion energies as well.  The process is known as inertial confinement fusion because it takes place so fast (on the order of a nanosecond) that the material’s own inertia holds it in place long enough for the fusion reactions to occur.  There are two basic approaches; direct drive, in which the laser beams hit the fusion target directly, and indirect drive, the process that will be used in the upcoming Livermore ignition experiments, in which the beams are shot into a hollow can or “hohlraum,” producing x-rays when they hit the inner walls.  These x-rays then implode and ignite the target.  

A potential problem that must be overcome in ICF is known as laser plasma interactions (LPI).  These are parasitic interactions which can soak up laser energy and quench the fusion process.  According to the Livermore paper, special grids at the hohlraum entrance holes were used in the latest experiments, allowing the use of LPI to “tweak” the incoming beams, steering them to just the right spots.  This recent (and elegant) innovation allows the exploitation of a process that has always been considered a major headache in the past to actually improve the chances of achieving igntion.

The BBC and Spiegel both have articles about the latest experiments today, conflating the energy and military applications of the NIF as usual.  According to the Spiegel article, for example, it will be necessary for the lasers in a fusion reactor to hit the target ten times a second, whereas hours are necessary between shots at the NIF.  The reason, of course, is that the NIF was never designed as an energy project, but is being funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to conduct nuclear weapons experiments.  If ignition is achieved, the prospects for fusion energy will certainly be improved, but the prospects aren’t nearly as bright as the press releases from LLNL would imply.  It will still be necessary to overcome a great number of scientific and engineering hurdles before the process can ever become useful and economical as a source of energy.

I am not optimistic about the success of the upcoming experiments.  I suspect it will be too difficult to achieve the fine beam energy balance and symmetry that will be necessary to ignite the central “hot spot.”  It will take more than one converging shock to do the job.  Several will be necessary, moving inward through the target material at just the right speed to converge at a small spot at the center.  If they really pull it off, I will be surprised, but will be more than happy to eat crow.  A lot of very talented scientists have dedicated their careers to the quest for fusion, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them. 

Even if these ignition experiments fail, it won’t mean the end for fusion by a long shot.  We know we can achieve the high fuel densities needed for inertial fusion, and there are other ways of creating the “hot spot” needed to achieve ignition, such as “fast ignitor.”  Other approaches to fusion keep showing up in the scientific literature, and I can’t help but think that, eventually, one of them will succeed.

German Christians Escape Teutonic Oppression!!

Well, all right, maybe that title is a little bit over the top, but it so happens that a German family of evangelical Christians has actually been granted asylum in the U.S. after fleeing the country because of some unpleasantness with the police over their desire to home school their children.  The story has been pianissimo in the US, but its been front and center at the Spiegel website all day.  The Amerika haters who call the tune in the German mainstream media are surely gnashing their teeth, but still haven’t come up with a way to spin the story that will allow them to strike their customary pious poses from the moral high ground.  The story in Spiegel, for example, limits itself to quoting a diplomat to the effect that “Germany disposes of a wide range of of educational opportunities.  Parents can choose between public, private, and religious schools, including alternative facilities such as Waldorf or Montessori schools.”  The editors throw in a sneer about the Washington Post’s suggested pronunciation of Romeike, the family’s name.  Sure enough, it’s given (incorrectly) as (roh-MY-kee). What’s with that, Wapo?  Have all those layers of fact checkers and editors let you down again, or are you just giving us the pronunciation in Pomeranian dialect?

Germany’s evangelicals are having none of it.  Related stories on the Spiegel site have such titles as, “Fundamentalist Christians Celebrate Victory over ‘Embarrassing Germany,'” “Three Months in Prison for Home Schooling,” “Baptist Parents Lose the Right to make Decisions for their Children,” “Fine for School Boycotters,” and so on.  I can’t say as I blame them.  When I attended a German University back in the mid-70’s, the political activism of the students was much in evidence, in the form of posters, signs, and placards posted all over campus.  They were broadly and about evenly divided among pro-Soviet Communists and Maoists, normally in a state of bitter hostility to each other.  I happened to be taking Chinese, and our textbook was from Red China, back in the day before her leaders had discovered that what Marx really meant by “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” was laissez faire capitalism.  There were inspiring homilies about “Lenin’s Old Overcoat,” and the joys of life on a collective farm.  If our experience in the US is any guide, many of these young “idealists” are now firmly ensconced in positions of influence in the educational establishment.  It is unlikely that they are excessively delicate in their respect for the religious freedom of fundamentalist Christians.

Germany Ends the End of Nuclear Power

Philippsburg_qThe editors of Spiegel magazine still think anyone who supports nuclear power is a minion of Satan bent on the destruction of humanity, but according to this article, at least some Germans are beginning to see the light. Under the byline “End of the Atom Shutdown,” and the lugubriously disapproving headline, “The Federal Government wants to leave Ancient Reactors Online,” we read:

The atom lobby got its way: Spiegel has learned that the federal government wants to leave all 17 of Germany’s reactors online, including the ancient reactors at Neckarwestheim and Biblis – that will continue in operation by virtue of a trick.

Hamburg – For the time being, it’s the end of the atomic shutdown: According to Spiegel’s information the federal government has decided to leave all 17 of Germany’s nuclear reactors on the net for the time being following a meeting with energy concerns in the chancellory. Even the ancient Neckarwestheim 1 and Biblis A, which would soon have been required to shut down according to the red-green consensus on atomic power, are to remain in operation until the black-yellow government has agreed on a new energy policy. This might take until October…

…Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the SPD, expressed outrage, and accused the government of “dirty deals.”

Well, you can see which way the spin blows, but apparently a good number of Germans, with the obvious exception of Spiegel and the wildly misnomered “Greens” are beginning to realize that taking nuclear plants offline means keeping coal plants online. It is difficult to imagine why this makes sense in a world in which our number one environmental problem is supposed to be global warming, but human beings can convince themselves of anything if they happen to be wearing the proper ideological blinders.

The German government is to be congratulated for putting common sense over ideological purity. Meanwhile, here’s a clue for the editors of Spiegel. In addition to being world champion air polluters and prodigious producers of greenhouse gases, coal plants are also a greater radioactive hazard than nuclear plants.

Republicans take Kennedy’s Seat: The German Reaction

Reactions in the German news media to Sam Brown’s victory in Massachusetts today are in line with the “Obama as failed, weak President” meme that has been dominant there for some time. Spiegel’s reaction:

Bitter setback for Barack Obama: One year after his inauguration the Democrats have lost the Senate seat that once belonged to Edward Kennedy, and with it their strategic majority in the Senate. Now the prospects have dimmed for the Presidents Great Project: health reform.

The take at Focus, another major news magazine:

Barack Obama: The Fallen Messiah

The Republicans shouldn’t be credited with the loss of the stronghold of the Democrats in Massachusetts: it was the US President. Obama has fallen out of favor with his fellow citizens because only humdrum politics as usual followed their initial euphoria.

To make sure readers get the message, the article is set off by an image of Obama with a Hitler moustache over the slogan, “I’ve changed.”

Stern has more of the same:

A slap in the face for Obama: It’s a shrill wake-up call. The setback in the Senate election in Massachusetts shows how much the US President has lost his magic aura and distanced himself from his voters. Now the fate of his Presidency is at stake.

It’s “all about Obama” for the right of center Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as well:

Setback for Obama on the first anniversary of his inauguration: One year after his inauguration, Barack Obama has lost his strategic majority in the Senate.

And so on, and so on. When it comes to coverage of the US, there’s not much difference between “left” and “right” in the German media.  A few brave little bloggers buck the trend, but, other than that, there are no powerful alternative voices on the Internet or any equivalent to our talk radio or Foxnews to counter the prevailing narrative.  The attitudes of “well-informed” Germans about the US are usually an uncritical reflection of that narrative.

Haiti: “Between a Helping and a Colonial Power”

According to Gene at Harry’s Place:

The latest meme from the “anti-imperialist” Left is that the US government is more interested in repressing the Haitian people in the wake of last week’s catastrophic earthquake than it is in assisting them. Unsurprisingly Hugo Chavez was one of those leading the rhetorical charge against the nefarious Yanquis.

Gene is apparently so outraged that he doesn’t stick at comparing Hugo to Rush, who stands somewhat to the right of Beelzebub in Harry’s political spectrum. Don’t look now, Gene, but the “anti-imperialist” Left in Europe is looking more mainstream all the time. I’ve already linked to Spiegel’s drearily predictable “analysis” that confirms all Hugo’s worst fears about the “nefarious Yanquis.” Things are no different at the other major “serious” German news magazine, Focus, where we learn that the US is “Between a Helping and a Colonial Power in Haiti.” According to Focus,

The US sprang to devastated Haiti’s side with breathtakingly massive aid. No other country provided more help. Help that isn’t completely selfless.

Regional politics is another area in which Obama wants to distance himself from Bush. He wants to improve ties to the countries of central and South America. However, very little of a concrete nature followed his first charm offensive, according to Jonas Wolff of the Hessian Peace and Conflict Research Foundation. Now the US President has signaled via his aid to Haiti that the US interests are not limited to Iraq and Afghanistan. Its help will be extended to its own continent as well.

How’s that for German subtlety? As we learn from the BBC, the French have also been in a huff about the situation in Haiti lately. According to the Beeb, France’s “International Cooperation Minister,” Alain Joyandet, was aggrieved that the US was stealing his thunder:

Mr Joyandet – who was in Haiti – said he had issued a formal protest to the US authorities via the French embassy, and that his actions were backed by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. He was quoted as saying: “This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti.”

The Beeb’s take:

Underlying the episode is a tangible sense of hurt pride that France is being relegated to a secondary role in a country long regarded as part of its own sphere of influence.

Non Pasaran links to a French cartoon that sets the appropriate tone of hurt infantile pride. Not to worry, though, as it appears Obama and Sarkozy have patched things up and are, once again, best of buddies.

Of Haitian Aid and US Conspiracies: Spiegel’s Hate Pedlar Pitzke Carries On

Germany is a country where anti-American hate goes hand in hand with “progressive” ideology. The editors of Spiegel magazine were among the first to discover just how lucrative it could be to exploit the phenomenon. They were in the forefront of a campaign of quasi-racist hatemongering that reached its climax in the final years of the Clinton and the first years of the Bush Administration. Some of its nastiest manifestations have been well-documented at Davids Medienkritik, where you will find an occasional comment by yours truly. In those days, Spiegel’s virulent anti-Americanism became so obsessive that occasionally it was hard to find any news about Germany on their website. Their hate pedlar in chief was Marc Pitzke, who could always be relied on to throw out red meat to Germany’s legions of Amerika haters thinly tarted up as “analysis.” Eventually, people on the other side of the Atlantic began to notice what was going on, and Spiegel’s claims of “objective criticism” no longer passed the “ho ho” test. Spiegel put Pitzke back in his jar and throttled back the hate campaign. Manifestations of anti-Americanism have been more “tasteful” since then, but they’ve hardly disappeared. The haters haven’t gone anywhere, and they are still more than willing to pay good coin to anyone willing to feed their prejudices. Spiegel still uses Pitzke to give them an occasional “fix.” It helps the bottom line.

The content of his latest “analysis” is no less predictable than any of his other offerings over the last decade and more. It appears the rapid mobilization of US aid to Haiti had nothing to do with any praiseworthy motive, but was all part of a dark conspiracy to promote US imperial ambitions in the region. Surprise, surprise! Some money quotes from Pitzke’s “analysis:”

Here “help” doesn’t just mean help – but rather invariably a complex fabric of geopolitical interests and self serving.

This time, too, the US military took the lead.

(at UN Headquarters in New York) Bill Clinton appealed before the General Assembly for international help and aid, and then made the rounds of the TV news shows. “Only five dollars can make a difference,” he said… As President he made sure via an American intervention that Haiti’s deposed chief of state, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was returned to office, in the hope that he would be a vassal.

You get the idea.  Remember the old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished!”  I often wonder what Pitzke gets for this kind of “analysis.”  Spiegel probably pays him too much.  Let any reasonably competent journalism undergraduate read four or five of his articles to get the general idea, supply them with the topic of the day, and they could surely reproduce this sort of “analysis” virtually word for word.  It’s about as predictable as the sun rising in the morning.

You “old German hands” out there will no doubt remember how the apologists and rationalizers assured us that German anti-Americanism was “all about Bush.”  Well, Bush is long gone, and German anti-Americanism is alive and well.  They didn’t give Obama much of a honeymoon, did they?  How very disappointed the apologists must be to discover that, after all, he’s just like Bush.

Pitzke ends his latest offering with some pious pontifications about televangelist Pat Robertson’s take on Haiti.  It turns out Pat has stepped in it again, characteristically attributing the disaster to divine vengeance.  Apparently he wasn’t too finicky about historical accuracy in the process, claiming that the Haitians made a “pact with the devil” when they were “under the knout” of Napoleon III, instead of Napoleon I.  Pitzke’s “zinger” sentence at the end of his “analysis:”

But the Americans have never been too exact about history when it comes to Haiti.

There you have it, dear readers.   You thought you were individuals.  In fact, you’re all just so many Pat Robertsons.

The Copenhagen Climate Summit: Narratives to Suit Any Taste

Look! It’s a rainbow of spin! Today’s Copenhagen headlines are a snapshot of political narratives worldwide. Want to find out who’s still carrying water for Barack Obama and who’s not? Let’s have a look.

First the bad news: Germany’s honeymoon with the President is kaputt. The Teutonic brethren at Spiegel magazine discovered long ago that there’s big dough in Amerika bashing. Sure, the US President is ein netter Kerl, but these are hard times for journalists, and one can’t afford to be too finicky. You only need to learn three German words to get the gist of their coverage of all things American: Fiasko, Debakel, and Desaster. Need I translate? Here’s Spiegel’s take on the latest out of Copenhagen:

Full Speed Ahead into the Greenhouse

Failed Summit

What a fiasco: The Copenhagen climate summit has failed thanks to the politics of unyielding self interest of the USA, China, and many other states. We are likely to soon find out just how catastrophic climate change will really be – in a global greenhouse experiment.

Our British friends, whom Spiegel was fond of referring to as “vassals” and “poodles” of the US back in the days of Tony Blair, are taking a rather more charitable view of the affair. Apparently they’re still not quite ready to throw the President under the bus. According to the BBC,

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a US-backed climate deal in Copenhagen as an “essential beginning”.

He was speaking after delegates passed a motion recognizing the agreement, which the US reached with key nations including China.

The more erudite among the BBC’s readers who get past the headlines will find some less than rosy details mentioned in passing in the body of the article, such as,

However, a number of developing nations were angered by the draft proposals.
BBC environment correspondent Richard Black said the language in this text showed 2C was not a formal target, just that the group “recognises the scientific view that” the temperature increase should be held below this figure.

but such minutiae don’t spoil the overall positive effect.

Here in the US one can also find a version of reality to suit any taste. Of course, they’re pulling no punches at Foxnews:

Has Copenhagen collapsed?

That seems to be the growing sentiment inside the city’s Bella Conference Center, where officials, environmentalists and even delegates to the international climate conference began streaming out Friday evening. What began with excitement and anticipation two weeks ago ended Friday night with disappointment and anger for thousands.

Collapse? What collapse! As I write this, it appears they haven’t noticed a thing at CNN. Their world headlines link has no mention of Copenhagen at all. However, more persistent readers who trouble themselves to click down a page or two will find reassuring “news:”

Obama announces climate change deal with China, other nations

President Obama announced what he called a “meaningful and unprecedented” climate change deal with China and other key nations that was expected to be sealed before the president headed home from the Copenhagen summit late Friday.

There, that’s all you need to know, now just move on. Well, all right, if you have a suspicious nature and don’t believe CNN, just check the rest of the mainstream media. True, the guys at MSNBC are a shade less sanguine, but, after all, the Pres did what he could:

U.S., others broker modest climate deal

Plan includes way to verify reduction in global warming emissions

That last blurb is a bit rich, even for MSNBC, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope the editors of Spiegel don’t see it. For that matter, it’s downright sober compared to the take at ABC:

Obama Hails ‘Significant Breakthrough’ at Climate Talks

Obama and Three World Leaders Have Agreed to a Political “Accord,” Official Says

President unites China, India and Brazil on climate agreement in Copenhagen.

There! See? Whatever were those silly fellows at Spiegel thinking with their hand wringing about a “fiasco?” Still don’t believe me? Apparently you’ll need an even stronger dose. Let’s move on to NPR’s website, where the President, arrayed in shining armor, still rides through cyberspace on his snow white charger:

The president tells the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen that America is setting an example of bold action and other nations must follow or see the world suffer catastrophic effects.

Good old NPR, fighting a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, German nitpickers.

Solar Power and German Ideologues

Der Spiegel has provided us with another edifying example of the difference between sound public policy and ideological grandstanding. It turns out that the outgoing Social Democratic (SPD) “Minister of the Environment,” Sigmar Gabriel, has saddled the German people with a gift that will keep on giving in the form of a debt of at least 27 billion Euros. It comes in the form of a clause in Germany’s “Renewable Energy Law” that grants a subsidy of 43 Cents per kilowatt-hour to producers of solar power – five times higher than the cost of conventional power. But wait, it gets better; the subsidy will remain in effect for at least the next 20 years. And, by the way, that’s just for the facilities that were built between 2000 and 2008. Meanwhile, new facilities are being built hand over fist. About 2000 additional megawatts are expected to come on line in 2009, providing German consumers with another heaping helping of debt to the tune of 9 or 10 billion Euros. This remarkable example of ideological dilettantism has, at least, resulted in the creation of many new jobs – in China. Following a predictable pattern, German solar cell producers have been ramping down production at home and transferring it to Asia. Meanwhile, as Der Spiegel points out, the subsidies have had such “environmentally friendly” effects as

…keeping the world price of solar panels artificially high. The result: international producers are flooding the German market with solar modules – and very little is left for other countries, in spite of the fact that a solar facility in Africa could produce substantially more electricity than in rainy Germany.

All this comes at a time when the actual cost of solar modules has been in free fall. Spiegel cites an article in the German trade magazine “Photon,” according to which, “Solar power can now be produced much more cheaply than the high subsidies would lead one to believe.”

Judging by the quantitative results, we must assume that wind has been less afflicted by ideological meddling than solar in Germany. Wind facilities currently provide six percent of her power, as opposed to solar’s contribution of less than one percent.