Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lessons from the Smiling Buddha

Smiling Buddha was the code name for India's 1974 test explosion of its first nuclear "device." India was the sixth nation to develop nuclear weapons, the first five being the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In response to the Smiling Buddha test, an editorial in the June 1974 edition of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) observed:

[India's] acquisition of nuclear weapons... is an ominous portent. Israel has probably acquired such weapons, Egypt may do it, and Pakistan probably will try... America, Britain, Russia, China and, not least of all, France have shown the weaker countries the way: national pride requires muscle, which means nuclear muscle... The arms race has its own mad logic and India has done little more than follow it.

Going backward, we can see the same mad logic at work when China became the fifth nuclear nation. Shortly after the Chinese test, Dr. Bernard T. Feld (who worked on the Manhattan project) wrote in the December 1964 BAS,
The fundamental problem is that the nuclear supoerpowers continue to rely on nuclear weapons as a major ingredient of their military forces... With each addition to the nuclear club, it will become more difficult to hold the line. Thus, today, it may still be possible to convince India, for example, that Chinese nuclear weapons need not be matched by an Indian nuclear force. But will it be possible to convince Israel not to match Egypt, or vice versa...?

Going further back, to the year before France would become the fourth nuclear power, David Inglis warned of the dangers of the forthcoming test in his January 1959 BAS article titled, "The Fourth-Country Problem: Let's Stop at Three." Wrote Dr. Inglis,
If France does carry through and become number four, as widely anticipated, there will probably be no stopping Communist China, perhaps as the fifth country.

We should take away three lessons from the Smiling Buddha and all the tests that have come before and since. First, nuclear weapons are so obviously vital to the national security of a state that feels threatened that even a Gandhi will build them. Second, deterrence apparently can be made to work in a multilateral context across the developed and developing worlds: apocalyptic pronouncements are unwarranted. Third, we can learn to cooperate with our nuclear neighbors. Bush's 2006 nuclear agreement with India shows how far we have come in the past thirty-three years.

It is time our leaders acknowledge the simple truth that the mad logic driving Iran's nuclear program is the same logic that has driven nuclear proliferation for sixty years. Iran will follow the path blazed by Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea (and probably also Israel) and no threats or hand-wringing over the "Nth Country" will stop them. By declaring a nuclear Iran to be "unacceptable" and hinting at military action we merely compound the mad logic with urgency. We should instead begin preparing a new world order that includes a place at the table for a nuclear Iran.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

FEMA Does It Again

After being pounded by the media for their dismal performance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA has found a novel way to ensure a press conference goes smoothly: fake it.

On Tuesday, FEMA called a press conference regarding the California wildfires with only 15 minutes warning--too little notice for any real reporters to show up. Instead, agency employees posed as reporters to ask softball questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson Jr., FEMA's deputy administrator. FEMA provided video feed of the "event" to cable news networks--which aired portions of it live--and provided an 800 number for reporters to hear the answers (but not to ask questions).

"We made an error in judgment," Johnson said in a written statement. (Note the lack of first person singular.) Naturally, the apology (such as it was) was issued only after the Washington Post blew the whistle on them today.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, facing irate reporters, was more blunt in her reaction. "We didn't know about it beforehand... [They] will not do it again."

Of course, the Bush administration is well known for staging events where only their supporters are permitted to attend--but at least they always seem to find enough loyal Bushies to fill the seats. How low must FEMA's reputation be that they cannot even count on Fox reporters to be their yes-men and sycophants?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now in Charge of More Than Just the Kwik-E-Mart

This week, Louisiana voted for Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (Republican) to be their new governor. He is the first American of (East) Indian descent to be elected to such a high office. There are about 2.5 million Asian Indians in the US, less than 1%, and prejudice against these smaller minorities can sometimes go unremarked. Despite some of Jindal's highly conservative views (e.g. he wants to ban all abortions without exception) on balance I see his election as evidence of continuing progress toward civil rights for all.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Ultimate Pander and the Collapse of Western Civilization

Okay, so maybe that's a bit harsh. But Giuliani today announced that he is rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series this year. Are you f$*!king kidding me!? Just because NH is full of Sox fans? I think the Yankees are Evil in a preternatural sense, but to be a Yankees fan (as Giuliani is) then support the Red Sox is the worst sort of pander and flip-flop of all. FYI, I am a Dodgers fan rooting for the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, but that's okay. They're in my division, but are not our archenemies. In the 2002 series, I dutifully cheered for Anaheim over SF Giants (our legitimate archenemies) with no problem. As the LA Times proclaimed, "Dodgers Fans Root for Angels? Unbelievable. But Dodgers fans Cheering for Giants? UNTHINKABLE."

It's also just politically stupid for a Republican. The Rockies have a thing about being "Christians." I'm okay with them for other reasons.


Southern California Fires

OK, most of the Citizens and many of our friends have lived or live now in Southern California.

I have a cousin who is waiting on edge with her family with a car packed up and ready to go as soon as the evacuation order comes and a friend who has already evacuated. Two other friends have told me that their parents have evacuated and have houses in the most threatened region of San Diego County. A third friend is sheltering her evacuated boyfriend and most of his valuable belongings.

This morning I saw reports on this State of California Website that seems to indicate that Malibu is getting many times the resources committed to a much smaller fire than are committed to the Witch Fire in San Diego County. Now the resource allocation is favoring the Witch Fire somewhat. But the damage is not even close between the two fires. Malibu has lost about 6 or so houses while the Witch Fire has claimed over 500 houses so far. Neither fire is close to being contained. See link here.

So what news do you have? What comments do you have about federal, state and local responses? What do you think of the media coverage? What about Mexico? Are the fires really stopping at the Mexican border as CNN suggests or are they just not reporting fires south of the border? If the fires aren't crossing into Mexico, why not?


A convenient slip of the tongue

Mitt Romney made the most egregious Obama/Osama "error" yet in the Presidential campaign. At a news conference today, Romney actually mis-corrected himself into saying Barack Obama when he should have said Osama bin Laden. Explaining why the Democrats were wrong to separate the "War on Terror" from the war in Iraq, Romney said:

I think that is a position which is not consistent with the fact. Actually, just look at what Osama--uh--Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner.

Of course, the quotes Romney mis-attributed to Barack Obama were actually from Osama bin Laden's most recently released audio tape. Romney's spokesman says it was just a simple mistake. Maybe so. (Although one wonders: if Obama "accidentally" were to refer to Romney as a member of the "Moron" Church, would Romney be as forgiving?)

But I like how Representative Barney Frank replied when former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey "accidentally" referred to the openly gay congressman as "Barney Fag." Mr. Frank refused to accept that it was an accident, observing,
"My mother says that in 59 years since being married to my father, no one had ever called her Elsie Fag."


Sunday, October 21, 2007

You always forget Poland

During the 2004 elections, Kerry omitted Poland from the list of US coalition partners in Iraq, and Bush jumped on him for it. Why Poland? Well, aside from trying to pull on the hearstrings of Polish-American voters, the Kaczynski brothers who have led Poland for the past few years have been pro-American, and the "New Europe" that Rummy gabbled on about. Today, the Polish people tossed them out of office in favor of a pro-EU-oriented government who has promised to withdraw from Iraq altogether. Perhaps a German pope factors in as well. Or maybe pragmatic centrists like Sarkozy, Brown and Merkel seem more like partners in a new Europe in a way that testy Chirac, mercurial pro-US Blair, and the ineffectual lefty Schroeder did not. I'm curious what RBR thinks of the changes taking place in Europe at the moment. Continuing Polish economic progress must be a key to aligning more with "Old" Europe. Seven years ago, the Polish-German frontier was a place of economic contest, like the US-Mexican border. Today, that contest and wage/income disparities are not as sharp. The border of Europe is shifting east, to the Belarusian frontier.

I also wonder if the Poles are more sanguine about Russia. Putin is going to step down (sort of) and Russia has made no serious move to contest the extension of NATO or the EU to Eastern Europe. Russia is hardly a perfect neighbor, but if I were Poland I would trade a "special relationship" with the US for a better relationship with Russia and Germany any day of the week. The alliance with similarly-distant Britain worked out poorly in the 1930s, I seem to recall.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh boy. Here come the wand jokes...

J. K. Rowling said yesterday that a crucial character in her Harry Potter novels, wizard and longtime Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, was gay. This explained, she said, the stormy relationship between Dumbledore and another wizard (Grindelwald), and Dumbledore's complete lack of female companionship.

Her announcement was met with "gasps and applause" from the audience in New York City, to which she replied jokingly, "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy." She noted that many fans had suspected this, to the point were they had written quite a number of explicit scenes written Dumbledore. Rowling laughed and said, "Oh, my god, the fan fiction...!" (No doubt a lot more such fan fiction revolves around Harry and Ron, but let's move on...)

While it is true that she never wrote anything explicit about Dumbledore's sexuality in the series, the series did not deal with much in the way of anyone's sexuality, straight or otherwise. And while it is also certainly true that Rowing waited until all seven novels were complete (and she became the first billionaire author) before making her announcement, it was still completely voluntary and the announcement may still negatively affect her.

Leaving aside philosophical questions of the extent to which traits not explicit in the text can be ascribed to a character, even by the author, this is a remarkable statement on Rowling's part. Putting at least a little money where her mouth is, she has said in no uncertain terms that she strongly supports gay rights. And I suppose all those muggles who always thought the Harry Potter series was kind of "gay" can feel vindicated too ;-)


Friday, October 19, 2007

Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU)

A recent report from the AAAS raises concern that government agencies are applying the SBU label to more and more information, and in an "inconsistent and arbitrary manner" from agency to agency. In particular the academy reports that the label is being increasingly applied to fundamental research in science.

As its mildly Orwellian name suggests, SBU is a classification outside the formal system of classification. Unlike documents marked "SECRET", documents marked "SBU" (or "FOUO") are still accessible via FOIA requests, but they remain restricted indefinitely--they have no declassification date--and there are no standard or sensible guidelines for when to apply the SBU label.

A GAO report from 2006 found 56 different definitions of SBU, each from a different department or office, each vague. For example, the Department of Homeland Security dictates the SBU label should be used for any information, "the unauthorized disclosure of which could adversely impact a person's privacy or welfare, the conduct of Federal programs, or other programs or operations essential to the national interest." In other words, for pretty much anything you please.

As a result, a lethal combination of national security paranoia and CYA has caused officials stamp "SBU" on almost everything. When it comes to releasing information, as one former Pentagon official put it, "The only safe thing for a junior person in the bureaucracy to do... is to say no and err on the side of caution."

It was not meant to be like this. In 1989, the Reagan administration issued National Security Decision Directive NSDD-189 which stated in relevant part,

It is the policy of this administration that, to the maximum extent possible, the products of fundamental research remain unrestricted. It is also the policy of this Administration that, where the national security requires control, the mechanism for control of information generated during federally-funded fundamental research in science, technology and engineering at colleges, universities and laboratories is classification. [my italics]
We have a fairly well-regulated scheme of document classification in this country. It has many defects, but at least it balances freedom and secrecy in a process with well-established precedent. Apparently innocuous levels of classification are more dangerous than the big ones and are especially virulent in the agar of a conservative bureaucracy. With the explosive growth of SBU, a well-intended kludge to safeguard American interests has become yet another front in the Bush administration's war on science. As the AAAS report warns,
The political leadership of the United States must understand, and in turn must help all Americans understand, that as a nation the United States has no exclusive ownership of ideas or knowledge and that scientific discoveries and technological advances made in the United States often rely on knowledge created outside our borders.
Let's hope the next administration has the courage return to the basic principles of NSDD-189 and eliminate the SBU category altogether. To quote a 2002 statement from the Presidents of the National Academies of Science:
A successful balance between these two needs--security and openness--demands clarity in the distinctions between classified and uclassified research. We believe it to be essential that these distinctions not include poorly defined categories of "sensitive but unclassified" information... The inevitable effect is to stifle scientific creativity and weaken national security.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Free Tibet, not Armenia

Bush is capping his 2-week-long campaign against a congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide by awarding the Medal of Honor to the Dalai Lama. The Chinese are demonstrating that Turkish pique has nothing on Mandarin fury. What gives? Why does this administration get all high and mighty and "hard nosed realist" when dealing with Turkey, but then get all moist when it comes to Tibet? Why is the Armenian genocide somehow irrelevant but we put some stock in future Tibetan independence? Do we need Turkey more than China? Really? If you're going to be a foreign policy realist, be one. Don't be one on Tuesday but not on Thursday. It undermines everything. Consistency matters.

It all comes back to Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. It's a Bush obsession. Bush will crap on anything that he thinks might get in the way of his Iraq policy. Syllogism: Turks are necessary for "success" in Iraq (defined as avoiding total catastrophe for a little longer). Turks don't want us to recognize that the Armenian genocide was a genocide, and might do something unpleasant vis-a-vis Iraq. Therefore: we choose the Turks over the Armenians.

Mind you, I am in favor of both recognizing the Armenian genocide and giving a medal to the Dalai Lama. I have no problem teaching foreign countries to be more thick-skinned when it comes to American activities designed primarily for domestic consumption. But to do one but not the other is just an added slap in the face to the Armenian-American community.

I guess after Gore got the Nobel peace prize, I get the feeling Bush just wants to be on a stage with somebody that can raise his stature. And Armenians don't cut it like the Dalai Lama.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Senator On-Line

Our Australian friends recently brought to my attention a new Australian political party, Senator On-Line, which either represents one step closer to true democracy or to the decline of Western civilization, depending on your point of view. SOL embodies a simple concept: their Senators will vote blindly based on the results of an online poll.

Any registered Australian voter may participate in the poll. The party will take the usual precautions for online security (such as it is) with registration and passwords, and names and addresses will be checked against voting rolls. There is a also an important caveat: Senators will only be required to follow the poll results if 100,000 votes are cast and there is a 70% majority. Otherwise, the party's executive committee will choose whether to follow the poll results or to abstain (they may not oppose the poll results, however). Most bills before parliament will not receive national attention and will likely result in abstentions.

The idea behind the party is not really to upend traditional politics so much as to educate Australian voters and give them an incentive to become more involved in politics. The perhaps all-too-aptly named "SOL" party will probably go nowhere, as such things usually do, but for now it has received approval from the Australian Electoral Commission and will field candidates for the upper house (Senate) in the general election on November 24, 2007. Given the unusual opportunities for minority candidates to be seated in the Senate under Australia's electoral system (multi-member districts with preference voting), they might actually have a shot at earning a seat.

It is an interesting idea. Maybe they could do a collaborative crossover with Australian Idol. Wait--I think I hear Plato rolling over in his grave...


Primary Madness Continues

The Des Moines Register writes today that the Republicans will move their caucus in Iowa to January 3, and many believe the Democrats will follow suit (though they have not said so explicitly). The article also quotes New Hampshire's Secretary of State as saying that the New Hampshire Primary will be held no later than January 8, though he has yet to set the revised date.

If these statements hold, then we are now just 80 days away from the first votes to be cast in the 2008 Presidential Election season. Will there be more leapfrogging to come? According to the same article, South Carolina Republicans said in August that they plan to move their primary up ten days to January 19 (but they have yet to do so formally and must decide by next week). Stay tuned...


Monday, October 15, 2007

A Whole New Phase in Iraq

Get ready. We could be entering a whole new phase in Iraq. It looks like the Turks are ready to enter Iraq. It will be interesting to see what happens. I have mixed feelings about it. It could destabilize the area; it could cause an overall escalation of the raging conflicts in Iraq; for better or worse it could pull Turkey into the conflict; it it could also pass relatively unnoticed. But since when was I an optimist in these matters?

I don't know, but I am willing to bet that the military made incursions into Northern Iraq a quid pro quo for allowing Gul to take the presidency. That wouldn't have been too hard for Erdogan to do since I believe he basically supports the idea of invasion into Northern Iraq. Since the Congress, in all it's infinite wisdom,suddenly decided to get principled (or political) over the Armenian issue, something which I bet 95% of them care or know precious little about, there is even less incentive for Erdogan to hold his military back.

I toyed with the idea that maybe Erdogan warned the State Department that his military was going to move, and so the action on the Armenian issue by Congress was calculated to poke Turkey in the eye. But I doubt it. We still need Turkish air bases- among other things.

I will be watching closely what happens over the next couple of weeks.


Friday, October 12, 2007

In Light of the Last Posts . . .

NPR reported this morning that in a poll of 800 likely voters (margin of error 3.5%), 69% of Republicans, 65% of Democrats and 77% of Independents are unhappy with the performance of Congress.

I have mentioned on this blog before that I think we are due for a huge shift on our national direction. I am not sure what that will be, but I think we are going to be witnessing big changes- not all of them good. I wonder sometimes if our government as we now know it will continue to stand or if we are due for some sort of new republic. It seems to me that things are broken beyond repair. I still think the Constitution was one of the greatest documents ever written. But it has been so abused, so misused and so ignored that I wonder if it ain't time to clean house. Did they do polling during the Depression? Has there ever been a time with discontentment has been this high? Maybe during Watergate? But then was that with 2 branches of government, or did the people see their Congress as a bulwark against the executive?

Only 38% approve Bush's performance. Sixty-eight percent say the country is on the wrong track, while only 23 percent say it's heading in the right direction. Now we are all familiar with the problems of polls and I think the margin of error here is a bit high. However, this tells me that overall, Americans are very unhappy with government overall- probably the most unhappy that they have ever been.

Add to that another statistic reported on Marketplace News- the income of the wealthiest 1% grew by 21% since 2005. Hello! Can you say the rich are getting richer while the middle class is shrinking? Maybe that has a lot to with people's discon

This combined with the war and the lies of this Administration will make this a pivotal election. And if the Democrats don't start going on the rampage, they will only be selected as the lesser of two evils rather than as the problem solvers that we need. So far, 49% of the polling sample said they would vote Democrat with only 35% saying Republican. That isn't as high as I'd like to see it. Let the impeachment investigations begin!


Ann Coulter and the Fundamentalist Christians who Hate Jews

Ann Coulter showed her true colors the other day. Thanks to RBR for sending me the link offblog. Her contempt for Judaism is withering. What a wonderful world it would be if there were no Jews, "it would be like the Republican convention in New York City." She seriously said this.

In one sense, Coulter is just a fundamentalist Christian, like MILLIONS of others in this country. Like them (most Southern baptists, etc.) she believes that Christianity is the one true faith, and that all others are damned to fiery hell for all eternity, even babies, by a loving God (think about that...). Judaism is a sort of prequel to Christianity that is imperfect, and ultimately we have to "perfect" them into Christians. Such a thing could be just ignorant theology, were it not coupled with her "like the Republican convention in NEw York City" remark. That's not a mere call for conversion of Jews - it's a call for a sort of phyiscal extermination. She means the world ought to be white, blond, WASPy etc. I've been to Republican events - heck, I've been to Federalist Society events (I was briefly a member, even, but more later if you really care to know). There's a few tokens of different races, but it's Whitebread. Ann Coulter also went on to say that if they were all Christians, they would all be "defending their country" and so forth. No shit. So Jewish people don't love America.

The good news is that people like Coulter always say more than they mean. Yes, Ann, there were practically no Jewish people in the Republican party convention in New York in 2004. Want to guess why? Fascist bigots like you.

I'm waiting for the Republican candidates for President to deplore Coulter the way they scorned for the Petraeus-Betray-Us ad. Silence. Most of them actually agree with Coulter...on all of it.


Al Gore Becomes Latest US President to Win Nobel Peace Prize

Yes, you read that right. Hell yeah, you read ALL of that right.

Is this a very political move by the Nobel committee. You bet. Bush must be furious, as must most of the Republican base. But then when is a peace prize not political? Was it apolitical to award it to Kissinger? To Rabin? To Carter?

Apart from US politics, I also think this is a terrific move because it elevates the issue of climate change. Al Gore is getting the peace prize in part because his movie was instrumental in changing the position of most Americans on this issue, including Bush, who (though he won't credit the movie) went from being a denier in 2000 to someone who admits that climate change is a challenge in 2006.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

H. Res. 106

So Congress is about to vote today on a resolution calling the Armenian genocide a genocide. It's an interesting state of affairs that, 90+ years after the fact, this is still a Big Deal for both sides, the Armenians and the Turks. I am almost glad this is happening. It's going to be unpleasant in US-Turkey relations, but it's probably the only thing that will make this irritant go away. The Turks are wrong about this, and keeping quiet so as not to offend them is only buying a short respite from unpleasant ness at a long term cost to our moral credibility.

Next up: condemning Japanese war crimes... all of them.

Then, at some point, we can think about the Native Americans?


Monday, October 08, 2007

Erik the Black

So, I was digging around on Blackwater when it the NYTimes scooped it for me. Okay, so it's not really news, but it's news to most of us. Blackwater's founder Erik Prince (talk about a name designed to give a child a Napoleonic complex) was founded by the son of a very rich, ultra-right-wing, ultra-connected family in Michigan. It had about $200,000 in revenue in 2002. Now it is over a billion in annual revenue. Erik says he's a libertarian, even while he gets fat and happy off government contracts being passed to him this way. It should be obvious that the Blackwater deal is a huge payout to a big campaign supporter. When someone is making out like a bandit, it is often because he is.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Shock the Conscience

Word is now coming out that the Bush administration lied about torture. The fact that Bush lies is not news to me - that's his m.o. (as it was his father's) but this is beyond anything we have seen yet. While and after proclaiming that the US does not commit torture, the Gonzalez "justice" Department authored secret opinions explicitly authorizing torture.

No, they don't call it "torture." Amazingly, according to NPR, these memos say it is only torture if it "shocks the conscience" and then went on to say that that which might shock the conscience if performed on an ordinary prisoner would not shock the conscience if performed on a suspected Al Qaeda prisoner. And what are we talking about? Keeping someone naked at 50 degrees, starving them (oh, "reduced food rations") and sleep deprivation, all at the same time. This is Soviet Gulag material. To quote Jefferson, he is acting with "cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation. " My conscience is shocked. Anyone who has a conscience would be shocked! There is no excuse for torture. None. These are crimes against humanity.

Why do Republicans support these crimes? Why do they scream "traitor" to anyone who dares object? As RBR has said, the party base has decided to subordinate all human values to serving The Leader and The Cause and The Faith. I am so furious I can barely write coherently (as y'all can tell). Plainly, these conservatives have no conscience left, no morals, no values to speak of. Their pretense at "christian faith" is a sick joke. If Jesus had known what these people would do in his name, he would have just turned back to carpentry. It is no longer extreme now to say that anyone who votes for another Republican administration is an accessory to crimes against humanity.

Bush and Cheney both must be impeached. This is imperative, if only to achieve some measure of redemption. To quote Jefferson again, "A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. "


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Senator Richardson?

Today, very senior Pete Domenici of New Mexico announced he will retire in 2008. That leaves A tasty NM Senate seat up in a trending-Democratic state. Will Bill Richardson back out of the presidential race to run for Senate? He is likely to win that race. Another potential pickup for the Dems.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's Happening

The data from this year's ice melt is in: the Arctic Ocean is melting faster than the experts had believed possible. There was a gaping wound in the icepack this summer--25% less ice than the previous record low in 2005. In the face of this huge acceleration, some now predict a blue Arctic Ocean within seven years.

Meanwhile, the Antarctic experienced a record maximum extent of ice this year. Climatologists are scratching their heads over all this, trying to put it together. None of the models in the recent IPCC report imagined or accounted for anywhere near this rapid a shift in the icepack. But one thing is clear: the system has been disturbed greatly.

At last week's conference on climate change, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called global climate change a "generational" problem. The time scale may be shorter than that.