The Week That Was
December 1, 2007
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Physicist Freeman Dyson (Princeton), in his autobiography:
"...all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. ... I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. ... They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."
Brian Leyland (New Zealand) on the potential dangers of carbon trading:
"So, to my knowledge, carbon emission trading is the only commodity trading where it is impossible to establish with reasonable accuracy how much is being bought and sold, where the commodity that is traded is invisible and can perform no useful purpose for the purchaser, and where both parties benefit if the quantities traded have been exaggerated. It is, therefore, an open invitation to fraud and that is exactly what is happening all over the world."
“Since global carbon emissions are climbing and there's no sign anybody is actually doing anything to stop them, the UN delegates in Bali will work themselves into a frenzy of busyness. Given the gaps in national and regional perspectives, from China to India to Europe and North America, real agreement is unlikely, although they will come up with something that they will try to pass off as a big step forward. The truth is they have nowhere to go and no solutions to implement.”
--Terence Corcoran, National Post (Toronto), 20 November =============================================
Chris de Freitas in the New Zealand Herald Nov 27, 2007
Latin American governments will call for greater commitments from industrialized countries to curb climate change and to provide financial support for developing countries to deal with its effects. That is the position Latin America will take to the 13th Conference of Parties (COP13) to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change, to take place Dec. 3-14 in Bali, Indonesia. The industrialized nations promised to contribute to a special fund for adaptation measures, but "nothing has been given so far," complained Jos Domingos Miguez, secretary of Brazil's Interministerial Commission on Climate Change and one of his country's representatives heading to COP13.
--Mario Osava, Spiro News, 27 November 2007
The Government of Brazil has rejected any suggestion that developing countries should reduce their carbon emissions. Today various government officials simply rejected a suggestion by the UN that poorer nations reduce carbon emissions even with a 40-year deadline, saying the problem is with the richer countries. Brazil seems keen on making its voice heard as a spokesperson for the developing world during the international conference on climate change in Bali, which begins on Monday. It wants cash from the US and other rich nations to pay for environmentally friendly policy changes.
--ABC News, 29 November 2007
2. Commonwealth conference climate change exaggerations just a prelude to next week’s UN extravaganza: Climate fear-mongering to get worse
ByTom Harris: Dr. Richard S. Courtney Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Commonwealth conference just completed in Uganda provides a preview of the rhetoric we can expect from delegates at next week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference on the island of Bali, Indonesia.
Britain’s Prince Charles, now a devoted climate campaigner, told the Commonwealth conference, Climate change has become the greatest challenge facing mankind. It has become a question literally of survival for Commonwealth members like Tuvalu and Kiribati.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon of New Zealand assured attendees: One way or another, climate change is happening. McKinnon seems to think climate change is a new phenomenon and that climate was constant in the past, an assertion that would fail a grade-school student.
The language of the final communiqué of the Commonwealth event, the Lake Victoria Climatic Change Action Plan, was classic, We are conscious that climate change is a direct threat to the very survival of some Commonwealth countries, notably small island states. We recognize that the cost of inaction on mitigation and adaptation is far greater than the cost of early action.
The communiqué of the Commonwealth Youth Forum 6 echoed this sentiment, We recognise that rapidly changing climatic conditions are a direct result of the lifestyles, actions and decisions of the human race. The youth believe that Climate change is having distorting effects on the health of young people, accelerating the spread of water borne diseases and other illnesses. Although such fears are ill-founded, the Youth Forum did include a small concession to their science teachers, an admission not dared by most adults. The climate is constantly changing, they started sensibly -- before returning to political correctness later in the same sentence.
Today’s Commonwealth leaders are generally beyond hope when it comes to developing sensible climate policy, except, that is, in a few areas, one being the need for improved adaptation to climate change. On this topic the final communiqué of the event called for increased financial flows for adaptation, and their improved effectiveness. Yet, even this uncommonly sensible conclusion didn’t meet with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s approval. I am not for adaptation, to adapt like the beaver adapts to winter in Australia. exclaimed Museveni. I think climate changes can be reversed.
Of course, reversing climate changes makes about as much sense as beavers having to adapt to survive Australia’s mild winters (if, that is, beavers were actually found in Australia, which they aren’t they are indigenous to North America and Europe only). Humanity has no chance of stopping climate change and, like the Australian beaver, reversing climate changes falls completely into the realm of science fiction.
But politicians never let facts get in the way of a good sound bite so we can expect much more of these sorts of assertions in Bali. For citizens actually interested in climate science reality, here are some before-the-fact corrections to the upcoming UN conference.
The case for anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW) is getting weaker and weaker, not stronger and stronger and stronger as Dr. John Stone of the IPCC’s Working Group II told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this month. To date, no convincing evidence for AGW has been discovered. And recent global climate behaviour is not consistent with AGW model predictions. Mean global temperature has not again reached the high it did in 1998 (an El Nino year) and it has been stable for the last 6 years despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of by 4% since 1998. Global temperature has not increased since 1998 because, while the northern hemisphere has warmed, the southern hemisphere has cooled. Global warming was supposed to actually be global, not hemispheric.
Nobody knows why the global temperature has stabilised recently nor if and when this stabilisation will cease, but the stabilisation does not support assertions that the science of AGW is settled, despite what UN spokespeople in Bali will want us to believe.
A claim that human-caused global warming exists is merely an assertion: it is not evidence and it is not fact. And the assertion does not become evidence or fact by being voiced, written in words, or written in computer code. Even a finding of global warming is not evidence of AGW because warming of the Earth does not prove that human activity caused it. At issue is whether human activity is or is not affecting the changes to the Earth’s temperature that have always happened naturally.
Governments need to prepare for possible climate changes whether those changes have an anthropogenic or natural cause. Simply, the cause of the changes has little implication for appropriate policies needed to cope with the climate changes that can be anticipated. And the climate variations that can be anticipated include the full spectrum of changes that have occurred in the past, not only the changes predicted by promoters of AGW. Scares of hypothetical tipping points, run-away sea level rise, massively increased storms, floods, pestilence and drought are simply that, unjustified and unjustifiable scares. Of course, that won’t stop the UN from issuing even more sensationalist claims of impending disaster in Bali next week. But then, there’s nothing to stop sensible people from completely ignoring them either.
Tom Harris is an Ottawa-based mechanical engineer and Executive Director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (http://www.nrsp.com). Dr. Richard Courtney is a UK-based climate and atmospheric science consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, and an allied scientist to NRSP.
3. GREEN GOVERNMENTS: DON'T BELIEVE A WORD THEY PROMISE
The Guardian, 24 November 2007
David Adam, environment correspondent
A group of rich countries including Britain has broken a promise to pay more than a billion dollars to help the developing world cope with the effects of climate change. The group agreed in 2001 to pay $1.2bn to help poor and vulnerable countries predict and plan for the effects of global warming, as well as fund flood defences, conservation and thousands of other projects. But new figures show less than 90m of the promised money has been delivered. Britain has so far paid just 10m.
The disclosure comes after Gordon Brown said this week that industrialised countries must do more to help the developing world adapt to a changed climate, and two weeks before countries meet in Bali to begin negotiations on a new global deal to regulate emissions, which is expected to stress the need for all countries to adapt.
Andrew Pendleton, climate change policy analyst at Christian Aid, said: "This represents a broken promise on a massive scale and on quite a cynical scale as well. Promising funds for adaptation is exactly the kind of incentive the rich countries will offer at Bali to bring the developing world on board a new climate deal. This is the signal we are seeing on all fronts, that the developed countries are unwilling to fulfill their moral and legal commitments."
Under the terms of the climate adaptation agreement, made at a UN meeting in Bonn in 2001, the EU, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and New Zealand said they would jointly pay developing countries $410m each year from 2005 to 2008. They called on other countries to donate as well. The money was supposed to compensate developing countries for the severe effects over the coming decades of global warming, which is largely caused by carbon emissions from the developed world.
EU SWERVES AWAY FROM ANOTHER CLIMATE PROMISE
IPS News, 23 November 2007
By David Cronin
BRUSSELS, Nov 23 (IPS) - European Union governments look set to reject calls for taxing cars based on their contribution to climate change.
At a Dec. 4 meeting, finance ministers from the EU's 27 member states are scheduled to discuss a proposal for reshaping taxes imposed on cars so that they take account of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main climate-changing gas, they emit.
But Portugal, the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, has conceded that a breakthrough on this plan is unlikely. This is despite a pledge made by the EU governments earlier this year that they would lead international efforts to fight climate change.
In an internal paper, seen by IPS, the Lisbon government says there is "opposition from a considerable number" of EU countries to "an obligation to introduce a CO2 element into national car taxes."
DECISION TIME FOR THE WEST: PAY CLIMATE BILL OR STAY COMPETITIVE
The Independent, 23 November 2007
Isn't politics wonderful? Within days of Gordon Brown's address to the conservation group WWF, in which he pledged eye-wateringly tough reductions in British emissions of CO2, the Government has announced its support for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. "This time he really gets it," Greenpeace's executive director had enthused after the Prime Minister's "Let's save the polar bear" speech. Yesterday, following the Transport Secretary's endorsement of BAA's expansion plans, Greenpeace was back to its default position, spitting ecological tacks.
You might think this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (or possibly the left hand not knowing what the left hand is doing), especially given the Government's growing reputation for administrative chaos. In fact it is entirely deliberate. The Government both wants to claim "leadership in the fight against climate change" while at the same time it - quite understandably- does not want to do anything which might reduce this country's international competitiveness. It knows that these two objectives are incompatible - very well, then: it will contradict itself.
Gordon Brown's commitment to the most stringent reductions in CO2 emissions yet announced by a British Prime Minister follows exactly the path set by his predecessor. Mr Blair would, with a great moral fanfare, pledge this nation to achieve some carbon emission target. Then, when it became completely clear that we were not on track to meet it, he would announce - with equal confidence and certainty - not an easier target but an even tougher one than that which we were failing to achieve.
The civil servants who live in the real world of facts and actually have to devise the practical policies to meet these political flourishes have become increasingly panicky. A month ago there was a leak of an especially desperate memo in which officials warned that the previous Prime Minister's commitment to produce 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 was facing "severe practical difficulties".
As we know, that is senior civil servant speak for "this will be absolutely impossible." One of the memos rather plaintively pointed out that if we admitted this publicly and tried to advocate a general lowering of such targets internationally, there would be "a potentially significant cost in terms of reduced climate change leadership".
Here we see the absurd grandiosity of our global ambitions, partly a legacy of Tony Blair's messianic approach, but which is to some extent a characteristic of the British political class as a whole. More than half a century since the collapse of the British Empire, our leaders still seem to think that what we do or say is as important in the eyes of the rest of the world as it was when we really did rule the waves. It is a grotesque vanity, economically as well as politically.
It has been written often enough that any likely reduction in CO2 emissions from our own generation of electricity is not just sub-microscopic in terms of any measurable effect on the climate: the People's Republic of China is now opening two new coal-fired power stations every week. Real "climate change leadership" would be developing "clean coal" technology and selling it to the Chinese - but for some reason that does not fascinate politicians in the way that targets do. It is insufficiently heroic.
We can see the same national self-obsession in the debate over the environmental consequences of opening a third runway at Heathrow: last year China announced plans to expand 73 of its airports and build 42 new ones. Yes, the British government could demonstrate "increased climate change leadership" by blocking BAA's plans to build another runway at Heathrow. Does anyone seriously imagine that the consequence of further congestion and delays will be something other than a transfer of traffic from that airport to others in the immediate vicinity, such as Charles de Gaulle, which already has much more capacity?
For those on the provisional wing of the British environmental movement, arguments about a loss of business to other countries are irrelevant. They would insist that this complaint makes no more sense than saying that it's necessary to sell arms to unpleasant dictatorships because if we don't, other countries will, to the benefit of their own economies.
If, like George Monbiot, you regard flying as morally equivalent to "child abuse", then, yes, the executives of BAA should be thrown in jail (after a fair show trial, of course) and never be let out. As for any recession deriving from a closing down of Heathrow - pah! A recession would be a good thing, since it would lead to further reductions in CO2 emissions.
I accept that there will be many sensible people living in the area around the Heathrow Terminals who will not welcome the increase in planes taking off and landing. On the other hand, there has been an aerodrome at Heathrow since the 1930s and the first Terminal was opened by the Queen in 1955: that is to say, there are unlikely to be many home-owners living in the Heathrow area who bought under the impression that he or she would enjoy peace and quiet. Doubtless the property prices there reflect that fact.
Anyway, why worry about airports when we are going to ban the plastic bag? That, you will recall, was the "eye-catching initiative" within Mr Brown's WWF speech. It was artfully designed to capture the headlines in the popular press, and duly did so. The Prime Minister declared that we should "eliminate single-use plastic bags altogether in favour of more sustainable alternatives." Perhaps, since Mr Brown argued that fighting climate change was the political challenge for the younger generation, students should already have been marching on Whitehall with placards declaring "Ban the Bag."
The only problem with that is that plastic bags, though undeniably irritating when left lying around, are essentially the by-product, rather than the cause, of fossil fuel generation. Approximately 98 per cent of every barrel of oil, once refined, is consumed as petrol or diesel. If the remaining two per cent of naphtha was not used for packaging, it would almost certainly be flared off - which is pure waste.
Paper bags have the reputation of being environmentally sounder, but I don't see how this can be justified. They require significantly more space in landfill, being much less compressible - and don't they come from trees, which we are meant to be preserving as capturers of CO2? Besides, if the plastic bag is to be banned, what are we going to use to line our rubbish bins? We need to know the answer to such important questions, Prime Minister, before we allow you to put us forward as the saviours of the planet.
firstname.lastname@example.org [Courtesy CCNet]
4. THE BIG SECRET: U.S. CLIMATE BILLS RESULT IN NO MEANINGFUL IMPACT ON GLOBAL TEMPERATURE
World Climate Report, 20 November 2007
Three bills have been introduced to Congress which have as a goal to slow the rate of global temperature rise, and in doing so, avert some type of putative global climate catastrophe. They propose to do so by reducing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.
At the request of Senators Bingaman and Specter, the EPA has analyzed the effectiveness these bills as measured by the net impact each will have ameliorating the rise of global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations (and thus global climate change) by the end of this century. What they found was certainly not encouraging, at least for anyone who thinks that the U.S. alone can have any impact on global climate via new regulation of emissions.
The three bills whose impact the EPA assessed were:
1. Lieberman-McCain, "Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act," (S.280),
2. Kerry-Snowe, "Global Warming Reduction Act," (S.485),
3. Bingaman-Specter, "Low Carbon Economy Act," (S.1766).
All three require massive cut-backs in U.S greenhouse gas emissions -- an impossible task with existing technology (assuming that is, that the current resistance to nuclear power is not swiftly overcome or that we wish to remain a first world country):
* Bingaman-Specter (S. 1766) calls for reducing covered emissions to 60% below 2006 levels in 2050,
* Lieberman-McCain (S. 280) calls for reducing covered emissions to 60% below 1990 levels in 2050,
* Kerry-Snowe (S. 485) calls for reducing covered emissions to at least 65% below 1990 levels in 2050.
EPA found that while the three bills differed somewhat in the timing, degree, and scope of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they seek to implement, they all produce about the same impact on end-of-the-century atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations --a direct measure of their success. And, that the impact is exceedingly small, ranging from a reduction atmospheric CO2 levels of 23 to 25 ppm from where they would otherwise be under the reference emissions scenario employed by the EPA (see Figure 1, solid curves).
The EPA finds that the climate bills will lower the projected atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from 719 ppm in 2100 down to either 696 ppm for bills S.1776 and S.280 or 694ppm for S.485. The U.S. contribution to the global CO2 concentration reduction remains the same with or without international actions (that are not in any way tied into the bills themselves).
The EPA stopped short of telling us what we all really want to know --which is how much the U.S. emissions reductions will help slow down global warming. So, we'll step up and run the numbers ourselves.
We'll use as our basis the landmark study by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Dr. T.M.L. Wigley that was published in 1998 to assess the impacts of the CO2 emissions reductions mandated by the Kyoto Protocol on global average temperature. For those of you unfamiliar with Wigley's results, he found that if the entire world (including the United States) fully met their emissions reduction obligations laid out in the Kyoto Protocol (which, by the looks of things, few if any countries will actually achieve) that the amount of future global warming that would be "saved" would amount to about 0.07ºC by the year 2050 and 0.15ºC by 2100. (We define "saved" in this context as the difference in projected temperature increase from the reference scenario to the policy scenario).
How much of a CO2 reduction produced the whopping 0.15ºC temperature savings by 2100? About 40ppm. That's right, Wigley calculated that a complete adherence to the Kyoto Protocol by every country involved including the United States would result in ~40 ppm less CO2 than otherwise was projected to be there in 2100 and that this decrease would result in a global average temperature rise that was 15 one-hundredths of a degree Celsius less than projected to otherwise occur --a reduction which was scientifically meaningless and bordering on the limits of detectability.
And the three Senate climate bills would do even less!
Recall that EPA calculates that the climate bills will reduce future atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 23 to 25 ppm. That is about 60% of the reduction calculated by Wigley for his global Kyoto scenario. Since the temperature savings scales roughly with the CO2 concentration savings (especially at these small quantities), the climate bills "save" about 60% of 0.15ºC or just less than one tenth, that's 0.1, degrees Celsius.
One tenth of one degree Celsius for an enormous economic hit --the EPA calculated that S.280 (Lieberman-McCain) would lower the U.S. GDP annually by 1.1% to 3.2% ($457 billion to $1,332 billion) by the year 2050. EPA's analysis of the economic effects of the other bills has not been completed yet .
That's a lot of lost capital to produce virtually no climate impact. No polar bears are saved, no droughts averted, no hurricanes tamed. Nada. Except, a lot less cash in the pocketbook.
When it comes down to it, these facts will make this a hard sell to the American populace at large.
Wigley, T.M.L., 1998. The Kyoto Protocol: Co2, CH4, and climate implications. Geophysical Research Letters, 25, 2285-2288.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2007. EPA Analysis of Bingaman-Specter Request on Global CO2 Concentrations Part I, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/downloads/s1766analysispart1.pdf
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2007. EPA Analysis of The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/downloads/s280fullbrief.pdf
Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill 'Running into Resistance'
The Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill continues to meet growing opposition. In a November 19 article, Bloomberg News called efforts to promote the bill a "vain pursuit," and weighed in with a breakdown of the growing "resistance" the bill faces ”from an unlikely collection of environmental activists, big oil and coal companies, labor unions and Congress's sole socialist. Some opponents say the measure doesn't go far enough; others say complying with it would cost too much and put U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage. The fight threatens to scuttle the first legislation mandating emissions cuts to be approved by a congressional subcommittee
5. Courts need to pay attention to climate science
by S. Fred Singer 11/18/2007
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled against the Department of Transportation’s modest efforts to raise the corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards of light trucks and SUVs. Now DOT must consider also the ‘risks of global warming.’ Evidently, Justice Betty Fletcher and her colleagues thought that this would lead to tighter standards and less emission of the greenhouse gas CO2. Whatever their legal acumen, they have no expertise in climate issues – and worse, are willing to accept the advice of lobbying organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Three points must be made here:
· Greenhouse warming is a global issue. Simple arithmetic shows that raising miles-per-gallon, even to the level of passenger cars, would have no measurable effect on global CO2 levels. Needless to say, any climate effects would be undetectable.
· A group of 23 economic experts, under the leadership of Yale resource economist Robert Mendelsohn, has demonstrated that higher CO2 levels and a modest warming would produce positive benefits (especially for agriculture and forestry) and raise US GDP (and average income). But even these experts did not consider the benefits from increased ocean evaporation, leading to more rain and more fresh water. They also assigned disbenefits to sea level rise, apparently unaware that levels have been rising continuously, by about 400 feet since the Last Glacial Maximum 18,000 years ago, and will continue to rise naturally; and there is nothing we can do about it. So if we care about making humans better off, we might need more CO2, not less. If so, then China (soon to be joined by India) is doing us a big favor by building coal-fired powerplants at the rate of one a week.
· Finally, the most basic question: Is current warming naturally caused or manmade, a consequence of human activities that emit GH gases? The UN-IPCC panel of experts claims that GH gases are the cause of recent warming; but they have no hard evidence. They point to glacier melting and other consequences of warming; but these cannot tell what the cause is. Other ‘evidence,’ such as a claimed correlation between temperature and CO2, is also circumstantial. It finally boils down to saying “Trust us; we’re the experts.” That’s not good enough.
In its report, to be released in Dec 2007, a non-governmental international Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) -- not sponsored by either UN, national governments, or industry, and established to examine on an independent basis the existing evidence on climate science – concludes that the observed warming is mostly natural. Based on peer-reviewed publications in major scientific journals, NIPCC’s conclusions disagree strongly with those of the IPCC, its 4th Assessment report of May 2007, and also its Synthesis Report of November 2007. Specifically, NIPCC displays evidence which falsifies the major IPCC conclusion that current warming is ‘very likely’ (90-99% certain) human-caused. Instead:
*Climate models vastly overestimate the warming effects of greenhouse (GH) gases by ignoring negative feedbacks from clouds and water vapor that greatly diminish the warming effects. We estimate that GH warming might amount to no more than 0.5 degC by 2100, well within the ‘noise level’ of natural climate variability.
*The observed climate warming (and cooling) appears to be controlled by natural factors, principally the variability of solar emissions and solar magnetic fields. Such climate changes are essentially unstoppable and cannot be influenced by controlling the emission of GH gases like carbon dioxide.
*Therefore, all efforts at mitigation, such as emission controls by ‘cap-and-trade’ (energy rationing), by carbon taxes, or by carbon sequestration, are not only useless but also costly and damaging to economic welfare. The same applies to massive efforts to replace fossil fuels with ethanol, bio-diesel, wind and solar power.
*Finally, international agreements on GH gas mitigation, such as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol or any successor treaty arrived at during the Dec 2007 Bali negotiations, are pointless, wasteful, and ineffective – since they cannot influence the natural factors controlling the climate.
In view of these conflicting results, the Department of Justice should appeal the Circuit Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. Doing so would also provide an opportunity to revisit its decision of April 2007 in Massachusetts vs EPA -- that EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant, but may not be required to do so. This time around, the Bush Administration people should be better prepared to argue their case. The science is on their side; they need to learn how to present it.
6. Gore pushes global warming scam, then joins firm selling "clean technology"
By Gretchen Randall, November 27, 2007
Issue: Former vice-president Al Gore knows a good deal when he sees one or creates one. By pushing his global warming scam and its catastrophic results, he has convinced governments to require new forms of clean, alternative energy. Now that such plans are more likely to become law with Democrats controlling Congress, we learn that Gore has become a partner in a venture capital firm that is investing in firms with technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions in hopes of making huge profits.
According to Fortune, Gore and his partner, John Doerr, believe that global warming will require "a makeover of the $6 trillion global energy business" and now that Gore's created the need, he wants to cash in on pushing this wave of products he thinks will save the planet.
Comment 1: Gore has much in common with the early missionaries to Hawaii. They went to "do good" and wound up doing very well.
Comment 2: Thought you might like to know, Big Al won our Thanksgiving Turkey of the Year poll beating out such stalwarts as Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Babs Boxer.