- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

Burning Rex

More reaction to the sharply critical letter that Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia sent recently to Rex W. Tillerson, otherwise welcoming him to his new post as chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp.

The remainder of the three-page letter, shall we say, blasted a so-called “climate-change denial strategy carried out by and for Exxon Mobil” against global warming — the senators accusing the oil giant of being “the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate-change denial front groups in 2004 alone.”

The bipartisan pair went so far as to request that Mr. Tillerson “publicly acknowledge both the reality of the climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it,” even absent scientific proof of such a cause.

Now, one prominent Washington group is stepping forward to acknowledge receiving “modest funding from the energy sector, including from Exxon Mobil,” although the National Center for Public Policy Research says such funding has never exceeded 1 percent of annual expenditures.

And while it “recognizes both that global temperatures have risen over the past 150 years and that anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect,” the center calls attention to competing scientific data of the causes of global warming, and therefore believes that any anthropogenic signature is “likely to be modest.”

And who can say they aren’t right?

Nicolas Copernicus, as the center points out, was condemned for suggesting that the sun, rather than the earth, was the center of our universe. Giordano Bruno, meanwhile, was persecuted and ultimately burned at the stake for arguing that space extended beyond our solar system. And William Harvey was ridiculed by leading medical authorities of his day for suggesting that the heart was the center of the body’s circulatory system.

“Copernicus, Bruno and Harvey were persecuted out of fear,” it notes. “Each ultimately was proven to be correct.”

As for Sens. Snowe and Rockefeller, the center charges they “are engaging in persecution of their own, attempting to silence dissenting voices … and, as such, should be condemned by Americans of all political persuasions — both left and right.”

Eat your spinach

Still hesitate at the spinach counter, worried Popeye’s leafy green bodybuilder will inflict harm instead of produce muscles?

Dr. Henry I. Miller, a physician and fellow at the Hoover Institution, says while the recent outbreak (only 200 cases) of E. coli traced to fresh, bagged spinach garnered a lot of attention, it’s only a drop in the bucket of 76 million cases and 5,000 deaths annually from food poisoning in the United States.

As far as the spinach contamination went, it seems some wild hogs rolled out of the mud and into the spinach patch. In fact, the good doctor prescribes in TCS (Technology, Commerce, Society) Daily that Americans’ food is not only the least expensive, but the safest in the history of humankind.

“However, there is a limit to how safe we can make agriculture, given that it is an outdoor activity and subject to all manner of unpredictable challenges,” states Dr. Miller. “If the goal is to make a field 100 percent safe from contamination, the only solution that guarantees this is to pave it over and build a parking lot on it.”

Worth quoting

“Most of these markers stand over graves of Americans who came home to enjoy the peace they earned. Too many stand over the graves of those who gave their lives to protect that peace.”

President Bush, in remarks this Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Buy a book

What do conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, North Dakota’s Democratic Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, Republican former defense chief William S. Cohen, and Washington journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn have in common?

Not a whole lot, quite frankly.

But they’ve each been selected as featured authors for Wednesday evening’s (5:30 to 8:30 p.m.) National Press Club 29th annual Book Fair and Authors’ Night, arguably Washington’s most prestigious literary event.

Among this year’s other authors on hand to sign their latest yarns will be John Dickerson, Ron Fournier, Doug Sosnik, David Maraniss, Helen Thomas and Frederic J. Frommer, whose book is perhaps the least controversial of this year’s lineup: “The Washington Nationals 1859 to Today: The Story of Baseball in the Nation’s Capital.”

Then again … .

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.

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