Friday, December 18, 2009

A more robust explanation of climate change

Take a cloud chamber (basically a sealed box with water-saturated air,) and send electrically charged particles through it. What happens? Moisture forms. Clouds.

Why does this matter?

It matters because, as this six-part video documentary explains in full, this high school physics experiment is the point of departure for an exhaustively researched and experiment-verified theory for global climate change conducted by a Danish scientist named Henrik Svensmark.

Svensmark, in the early 1990's, found a relationship between cosmic rays and the amount of cloud cover on Earth. The term "cosmic rays" sounds like something out of a Roger Ramjet cartoon, but they really are just atomic particles that result from star activity (such as exploding stars) in the cosmos.

So, cosmic rays are bombarding the Earth at all times, to one extent or another. Because our solar system is in the Milky Way galaxy, most of the cosmic rays that hit Earth originate from Milky Way star activity. In fact, our solar system circles the Milky Way in a 250 million year orbit.

Because the Milky Way is a "spiral galaxy" with "arms" that protrude from a rough center, this 250 million year orbit takes our solar system through vast relatively empty spaces in the galaxy followed by vast periods when we pass through one of the "arms."

This is important because when the solar system is in one of the "arms," cosmic ray activity is much higher than when it passes through one of the empty areas.

Svensmark, as I said, found a relationship between cosmic ray activity and low cloud formation. But he didn't know the link. He also found a relationship between the intensity of our sun's magnetic field (which fluctuates based on surface activity) and cosmic rays hitting the Earth.

The video tells what he found, through almost two decades of research. Fascinating, and very damning for the AGW crowd who spent years trying to block his research from being published in the peer-reviewed journals and from being funded from the usual scientific research sources.

The sun's magnetic activity acts as somewhat of a shield from galactic cosmic rays. The more magnetic activity, the fewer cosmic rays hit the Earth. That means the more solar activity, the less cloud cover.

Cloud cover is a huge determinant of climate because low clouds reflect solar energy away from the Earth surface. So Svensmark's finding turns out to be a complete and logical alternative to the CO2 global warming theory.

Solar magnetic activity ===> Determines level of cosmic rays ===> determines low cloud cover ===> determines global temperature.

The 52 minute video explains how Svensmark verified the theory, and shows the startlingly close relationship between cosmic ray levels and global temperature, which is valid both on a geologic time scale and on a human time scale.

It also shows Svensmark's frustration with the scientific community that tried to block his theory and his experiments from being published.

Fascinating stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How the left views the Country

They don't even realize it when they are lampooning themselves!

Take a look at this artwork. Gee, think this reveals anything about what the left believe is the "beating heart" of the country?

It all comes from Washington, of course. That's where the blood returns to be replenished with life-giving oxygen.

And the caption reads: "Liberty is to the collective body what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man, without liberty no happiness can be enjoyed by society."

Anyone else think it is just a bit ironic that the folks pushing to socialize health care use a quote from Thomas Jefferson about liberty? Obviously these people don't have much of a grasp on the concept.

Bruce Hanna is not running for Governor

It really pains me to announce that Bruce Hanna will not be running for Governor.

I spoke to Bruce this morning about his decision. He does not plan a general announcement, but did ask me to let people know. His decision was not made lightly, and it hinged far more on personal family and business issues than it did on political considerations.

I am very disappointed, because Bruce would have easily been the best candidate in the race on either side.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Can we stop hearing about the 'consensus" already?

For fifteen years they have tried to shut down debate on the AGW hypothesis by claiming there is a consensus among scientists that it has been proven.

The term itself reveals that we aren't dealing with science, here. "Consensus" is a political term, not a science term. And all along, the AGW alarmist movement has been political to its core.

But even their claim to a phony consensus is falling apart at its seams. Read this CBSNews blog report about the schism happening right now at the American Physical Society. Back in 2007, the APS released its position statement on global warming, and it predictably followed the alarmist coda, calling for immediate reductions in CO2 emissions to avert disaster.

An APS member and Princeton physicist William Happer, along with other APS members have pressured the APS to review the position statement, especially now in light of the revelations of ClimateGate.

Sure, said the APS. We will review the position statement. But not for content, only for "clarity and tone," and we will appoint a special subcommittee to do the review.

Their chosen head of the subcommittee: Princeton physicist Robert Socolow, who is a long time AGW partisan, and who heads a research institute whose sole source of funding is global warming research dollars to the tune of $20 million. Having Socolow chairing the review committee appears as if it violates the APS' own ethics policy that tries to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

Happer and other APS members are very concerned over this obvious conflict of interest. They have redoubled their effort to get a thorough substantive review of the APS position, and now say they have 77 supporter in their efforts - members of the National Academies, fellows of major scientific societies, and one Nobel Laureate.

Meanwhile, 141 scientists have signed a statement at that says actual evidence of human-caused global warming is lacking and "unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation."

It is significant, in my opinion, that this was reported in a very forthright and complete manner on a CBSNews blog. For years there have been scientists signing petitions and statements objecting to the AGW choo choo train, but the mainstream media has dismissed them.

Maybe now the pressure is too great. Are they finally reporting the truth?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More ClimateGate revelations

This is getting very interesting.

The programming code for the climate models at CRU have been released, and now the geeks are tearing into the models, and seeing how the models manipulate the data to force a result the modelers want.

It's unreal. They literally just add a data series to the actual temperature record to force the line on the resulting graph to go up in the 20th century. Take a look here and here.

This isn't just emails that "read badly." It is outright fraud.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Oregonian in denial

Gotta love the Oregonian's lead editorial on Sunday, the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Summit. After three weeks of failing to cover anything about ClimateGate, they open their piece with their "world-as-we-wish-it-was" stubbornness:

"The thousands of e-mail messages and files hacked from computers of some top climate scientists do not seriously undercut the science of global warming..."

Oh, not at all. Certainly you would think that such a bold assertion might be followed by something resembling supporting argumentation, but nope. Not at the Oregonian. Their assertion is proof enough. They say it, it is so. "Nuff said.

They proceed to dismiss the skeptics: "...the loudest sound since the hacking story broke is the cry of "Climategate!" by the small band of climate change skeptics..."

SMALL BAND? Oh, OK. Another "world-as-we-wish-it-was" statement.

The editorial staff has been hyping this issue for a decade. I guess I don't blame them too much for freaking out like this when the house of cards falls around their dearly held religion.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Another media cover up

Wouldn't you think that if the Vice President of the United States was at the center of a libel lawsuit in which a global warming skeptic scientist, whose work was a huge embarrassment to the VP, was being defamed by another scientists closely associated with the VP, and the result of the lawsuit was a complete and unequivocal apology and admission that every libelous utterance was untrue - wouldn't you think that this would be news?

Well, it wasn't. I sure never heard about it, and I have been paying very close attention to this issue for a long time.

Read this recount of the entire story. It is a case study in what the global warming crowd, led by its high priest AlGore, does to any dissenting scientists.

In this case, the scientist fought back and won an unconditional surrender that revealed the complete corruption of Gore and at least one prominent Harvard climate researcher.

Covered in the media? I sure never heard about it, and I pay close attention.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Steven Hayward on ClimateGate

Steve Hayward is one of the smartest guys I know. He is a fellow at American Enterprise Institute. He has written two 700 page books on Reagan (the second of which I am about half done with.) He has long published the "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators" which gives real data on exactly what is really going on with the environment.

He wrote the cover story for the Weekly Standard this week, on ClimateGate. Great stuff. He read ALL the emails, and did a great job of characterizing the narrative they reveal. Must read.

A decade of global warming propaganda

I have studied the global warming crowd for almost fifteen years. More than ten years ago I wrote a cover story for BrainstormNW Magazine that went through my own journey of discovery about the global warming issue, during which I realized that it was nothing more than a large scale scam.

I went back and read the article the other day, and I was struck by how little has changed in the debate over the decade. They are still making the same arguments, and still have the same gaping holes in their theory, that they did ten years ago.

It is satisfying to see the basic integrity of the global warming crowd finally destroyed with the CRU e-mail scandal. It is long, long overdue.

I've pasted the complete article below. It is long, but I don't have another site to put it on and link it to.

Global Warming: The Trojan Horse of environmental scares

By Rob Kremer
April, 1998

I’m just a citizen like anybody else. I have no particular expertise in the field of science, no knowledge of the sub-science of climatology. I have always been as concerned about the environment as the next guy; I recycle.

In the early part of this decade I started hearing about the Greenhouse Effect. It brought back faint memories for me; I remember learning about it in grade school: diagrams of the sunlight penetrating the atmosphere, a large arrow bouncing off the earth, back up to the atmosphere, then back down again to the surface of the earth . Trapping heat.

So when the greenhouse effect came back onto my radar screen in the early 1990’s, I had some visceral understanding. Sure. I knew about this. It was hardly a shock. We had been pumping fossil fuel exhaust into the air for 200 years. Finally the science of measuring gasses in the atmosphere caught up with the reality of what we had been doing to it since the industrial revolution. It was intuitively obvious. Our neglect finally came home to roost.

I remember the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Or, at least, I remember the reports. All the nations got together to talk about what they were going to do about this global problem. Everyone was there, and it mostly pointed at us: The United States. We consume most of the world’s fossil fuels. We’ve added more greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere than anyone, and put all the other nations at risk. Every nation signed an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions; at least, every nation but the U.S.

Taking steps to limit our emissions seemed pretty responsible. I’m an economist by training, and I recognize an externality when I see one. A cost of production borne by people not involved in the transaction. Here we had an externality on a global scale. Not just a company polluting a river, forcing the cost of making their widgets onto those unfortunate souls downstream, but a global community unable to stop the unbridled consumption of fossil fuels by an economy showing little restraint, almost obscene in its affluence, little concerned about the effects of its bingeing.

So the issue of global warming appealed to my then-limited awareness and understanding of environmental issues, and it also assuaged a certain cultural guilt I carry around, a feeling that the U.S. is too affluent, too prosperous for its own good, and in some sense our good fortune has been gained at the expense of the rest of the world.

And so as information about the global warming issue started to penetrate the background noise of popular culture, I started to pay some attention. I asked a few questions:

Was the globe actually warming up? Is the human population causing it? Is the U.S. to blame? Can we stop it?

I’m an inquisitive sort. I started to look into the various claims so I could talk with some degree of knowledge about the issue. I didn’t want to rely exclusively upon the inherently superficial information given by popular media. To be honest, I get a bit nervous when some of the more extreme groups insist upon draconian changes in our lifestyle to solve one or another crisis. I remember the "global cooling" crisis of the 1970’s, and the "population explosion" predictions of mass starvation by Paul Erlich. I remember the alar scare, "acid rain", and the billions we spent removing asbestos. All based far more on politics than science. Was global warming another of these?

As H.L. Mencken once said: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." Was global warming just another hobgoblin?

I had no particular standing or background in scientific matters, and so I approached the subject with some degree of trepidation, expecting to be confronted with an avalanche of highly technical data pertaining to subjects about which I know nothing. But, I went ahead and started reading.
I found that the data is not all that hard to evaluate. It’s not that complicated. It wasn’t really hard to understand the claims being made and the veracity of the data and analyses behind them.

What I Found

The point of departure for the global warming issue is an empirical fact upon which all parties in the debate agree: the presence of CO2 in the upper atmosphere has increased by about 25% over the last 250 years.

Also of relative non-controversy is the empirical data that show the globe has warmed about one degree Fahrenheit over the last 100 years. The data are thought to be biased a bit upward, and adjustments have lowered the estimates somewhat.

So far so good. We have an increase in atmospheric CO2 and a measurable (albeit slight) warming over the last century. Are they related?

Climatologists try to answer this question with their Global Climate Models (GCM’s) which attempt to model the earth’s weather and thereby be able to isolate the effects of changes in one variable. If they had a robust and accurate model of the climate, we could easily evaluate the effect of an increase in atmospheric CO2.

Many models have been developed and refined over the last 15 years. The earlier versions spit out a result that said if atmospheric CO2 continues to increase, by the year 2100 the earth will heat up by 8 degrees Celsius.

This caused a lot of alarm, though when the models were refined and improved they lowered the estimates of warming caused by increases in CO2. The current state of the models predict about 1 ½ - 4 degrees celsius warming by the year 2100.

So the models predict that the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and average global temperature is causal. Increases in CO2 cause the temperature of the globe to increase. If we want to stop the warming trend, stop the increase in CO2. It’s simple. But is it correct?

Testing the Hypothesis

The Global Climate Models give us a good hypothesis: increases in CO2 cause increases in temperature. Have they tested this hypothesis?

Yes, they have. In a number of ways. For the last twenty years, scientists have collected temperature data from satellites and weather balloons. Their data agree totally. The result: over the last 20 years, the globe has suffered a very slight cooling.

Also, from the 100 year temperature record it is revealed that almost all of the 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature occurred in the first 50 years of the century, while by far the most man-caused CO2 emissions took place in the last half of the century. This tends to refute the global warming hypothesis.

Wait a minute! Here I was trying to inform myself about this impending global catastrophe, and my earliest efforts revealed compelling evidence that the global warming hypothesis had been scientifically tested and found wanting.

Was I missing something? These data are readily available. It doesn’t take a scientist to understand them. So why was global warming still an issue? Did there exist data I had not yet found? Why did I keep hearing about an international consensus among scientists, some of them Nobel Prize winners?

I dug a little further, and started to pay more attention to what the commonly quoted "experts" were saying. I started to smell a rat.

Just what are greenhouse gasses, anyway? A greenhouse gas is a gas whose thermal properties are such that it retains heat when sunlight shines upon it. There are several such gasses found in our atmosphere, but by far, the most common of these is water vapor, good old H2O. In fact, the amount of H2O in our atmosphere dwarfs all the other greenhouse gasses. Of all the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, around 95% is H2O, and only 2% is CO2.

Of course no one claims that mankind is causing an increase in H2O in the atmosphere; most of it comes from evaporation of the oceans. But if CO2 accounts for only 2% of greenhouse gasses, why are we worried about marginal increases?

Further, of the CO2 in the atmosphere, human activity accounts for only a small percentage. Most CO2 enters the atmosphere from natural processes. Man causes only about 5%, from activities such as fossil fuel burning and breathing.

Wait another minute! CO2 accounts for only 2% of all greenhouse gasses, and of that, only 5% is caused by human activity. This means that our fossil fuel consumption and all the other activities that the global warming crowd is trying to limit causes a grand total of 1/10th of 1% of greenhouse gasses.

Climate History

Is it true that the earth is warmer now then it has ever been before? Not hardly. Scientists know a lot about the historical climate record from analyzing fossils and deep ice layers. They know the earth’s climate is cyclical, going from ice-age to warming to ice age.

The earth’s temperature now, far from being abnormally high, is below the global average of the last 3,000 years. In fact, during the past 3,000 years, there have been five extended periods when the Earth was distinctly warmer than today.

But how about the CO2 level? Is our current level dangerously high, as some insist, or is that cyclical as well?

No, there have been many periods in the earth’s history during which atmospheric CO2 was far higher than today’s levels. "Carbon dioxide concentrations may have been up to sixteen times higher about 60 million years ago." writes Thomas Gale Moore, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Then why should we be concerned about the current level? If we know that the globe was both warmer and had higher CO2 levels before mankind was around, why would we assume the current level of CO2 has anything to do with human activity?

The Kyoto Treaty

And what about this treaty that was agreed to last December in Kyoto? The big issue there was not whether the data indicated global warming was a reality, or whether human activity was causing it. That these were true was assumed.

The data don’t matter" says Chris Folland of the UK Meteorological Office, at a meeting in North Carolina. "We’re not basing our recommendations [for immediate reductions in CO2 emissions] upon the data. We’re basing them upon the climate models."

There you have it. The data don't matter!

In Kyoto, since they blindly accepted the global warming dogma, the main issue was whether every country would be bound by the proposed CO2 emission reductions, or if they would let the "developing countries" off the hook. Last year the Senate sent a strong message to the Clinton administration in a 95-0 vote on a resolution that said they would not ratify any treaty that bound the US to CO2 emission limits unless all the countries were bound to the same reductions.

Nevertheless, Al Gore, in a well publicized cameo appearance in Kyoto, authorized the US negotiators to agree to a treaty that failed to meet this standard. The U.S. agreed in Kyoto to reduce CO2 emissions to 7% percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12, but countries like China, Korea, Brazil, and Indonesia had no such mandate.

The likely instrument to achieve the reduction would be a carbon tax imposed upon all forms of fossil fuel consumption. This would be hugely expensive. A recent DRI/McGraw Hill study estimated that the government would have to increase gas taxes by more than 60 cents a gallon and double the price of heating oil just to hold carbon emissions at 1990 levels. They project that over the next 14 years more than 500,000 Americans annually would lose their jobs if proposed climate change commitments were implemented. A 1990 study by the Congressional Budget Office concluded such a limit would "risk several years of economic stagnation and high unemployment."

Why would we do this? Decreasing CO2 emissions as called for in the treaty would have the effect of reducing global greenhouse gasses by less than 1/100th of 1%. Even if we completely stopped all fossil fuel consumption (park your cars, everyone) the resulting decrease in CO2 in the atmosphere would not even be detectable with our current instrumentation.

Official Deceit

So what science is behind the Kyoto Treaty?

The recommendations are based upon reports issued by the IPCC, (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the United Nations science advisory group that arranged the Kyoto "Earth Summit" last December and its predecessor in 1992 in Rio.

The IPCC issued reports In 1990, and then again in 1996 outlining the current state of the global climate models and discussing evidence supporting them. The reports were written by a handful of government scientists, and they are advised by a large number of other scientists who contribute to and review various parts of the report.

The contributors are not necessarily involved in climate research, nor do most agree on the conclusions of the report. They send back their comments, which the IPCC often ignores entirely. Indeed, many of these scientists are outspoken critics of the conclusions made by IPCC. But the IPCC claims nevertheless that their report reflects a consensus.

After getting the input from the reviewers and finalizing the 1996 report, the IPCC wrote the "Policymaker’s Summary", which it released along with the full report. They knew that few in the press would wade through the 2000 page report if the Summary was on the top.

The Summary drastically overstated the case made in the report for the global warming hypothesis. It said "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate."

This statement infuriated many scientists on the review panel. Very little in the report itself supported even such a cautious statement.

Worse, after finalizing the report the IPCC went back and altered the language in a key chapter (8) that deals with the empirical support for the global warming hypothesis. Now, usually report summaries reflect the conclusions of the report. But in this case, they appeared to change the contents of the report so that it would agree with the summary. Here are two statements they deleted:

"None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to . . . increases in greenhouse gases."


"No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes."

So we have the curious phenomenon of a supposedly scientific body, whose reports form the basis of dramatic and far reaching social and economic policies that are enforced by an international treaty, intentionally doctoring their own report so that it coincides with the conclusions they wished the data showed. All the while claiming the report reflects consensus.

The Manufactured Consensus

What about this consensus? I kept hearing that the scientists all agreed, global warming was real, and that human activity was the cause. But the evidence I had found either refuted or failed to support the global warming hypothesis.

I’m not a scientist, certainly not a climatologist, so how could I presume to make a judgement about the global warming hypothesis better than the consensus among scientists who make it their life study? How did this consensus come about? Did the climate scientists really agree? I dug a bit deeper still.

The consensus usually referred to is the agreement among the scientists who were involved with IPCC Reports. Involvement implies consensus, they say.

Not so, says Dr. Fred Singer:

"The [Policymaker’s]Summary is a political document put together by a handful of scientists who inevitably reflect the official positions of their governments. The claim that these [contributing] scientists are all in agreement is sheer nonsense. ..when they do speak out, when their opinions have been recorded, they express grave doubt about the main conclusion of the IPCC."

Singer, by the way, is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at University of Virginia, and runs the Science and Environmental Policy Project which he started after a long and award winning career in climate-related fields. His bonafides as a climate scientist are beyond dispute.
And he is not alone in dissent. Fifty-five of the world's most respected atmospheric scientists, in a "statement of principle" issued before the Rio UN Conference on global warming in 1992, said: "there is no consensus about the cause of the slight warming observed during the past century", and that "we are disturbed that activists, anxious to stop energy and economic growth, are pushing ahead with drastic policies without taking notice of recent changes in the underlying science".

Global warming advocates, however, have gone to great lengths to create the illusion of a consensus. The Union of Concerned Scientists circulated a petition in 1989 urging recognition of global warming as a great danger to mankind. It was eventually signed by about 700 scientists, many of them from the National Academy of Sciences, and some of them Nobel Laureates Only about 5 of the signees, however, had anything to do with climatology.

It’s pretty odd for scientists to take public stands upon issues not in their area of expertise. "Biologists and physicians are rarely asked to endorse some theory in high energy physics", writes Richard Lindzen in Regulation Magazine.

Also, the American Economic Association circulated a petition to its members that stated "preventative steps are justified" to deal with global climate change. Eventually 2,300 of the 20,000 members signed it. The organization didn’t mention what standing they had to make such a claim, nor how they would react if the National Academy of Sciences recommended policy changes justified by, say, "supply-side economics".

"Science doesn't operate by vote" says Dr. Singer. "Even if there were a consensus, if the consensus contradicts the facts, it's wrong."

In any case, if a consensus does exist, that consensus is that the global warming hypothesis is wrong:

Almost every state employs a state climatologist; they were recently surveyed, and 65% of them believed that human activity is not causing global warming.

  • A group of nearly 100 climate scientists signed the "Leipzig Declaration" in 1995 which objected to the conclusions drawn in the IPCC Policymakers Summary.

  • Dr. Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project surveyed the scientists involved with the 1996 IPCC Report and found that about half did not support the conclusion in the Policymakers' Summary.

  • Nearly 17,000 scientists, more than 2000 of them directly involved in climate-related fields, have signed a strongly worded petition objecting to the Kyoto Treaty. The Petition reads:
    "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other green house gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth".

Yet President Clinton claimed in his last state of the union address that "the vast majority of scientists have concluded unequivocally that if we don't reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, at some point in the next century we'll disrupt our climate and put our children and grandchildren at risk.."

And Vice President Al Gore writes in his book Earth In The Balance that "There really is no argument about these basic mechanisms. The argument – to the extent there is one anymore among reputable scientists – is instead… by those who are trying to justify a decision to do nothing."

These statements are factual misrepresentations. Lies.

Why do they insist that there is a consensus? Says Dr. Singer: "Since the theory has not been validated and cannot be validated, those who have a political agenda are trying to get around the scientific facts by claiming a consensus which in fact doesn't exist."

So it’s politics, not science, that drives the global warming agenda. The politics of radical environmentalism.

Trojan Horse

What do these people and groups have to gain? The global warming movement is the Trojan Horse of environmental scares. There’s something inside for everybody, and plenty of elbow room. The issue provides cover for a whole range of special interests, so a lot of groups use it to their advantage. Victory is too close to let little things like science and consensus get it in the way.

But first they must convince us to accept a regime of worldwide energy rationing, administered by the UN through a tax on CO2. Which is exactly what the Kyoto treaty proposes to put in place: a climate protocol controlling the use of energy.

The Kyoto treaty forwards an incredible number of prior agendas, which explains why so many groups are willing to ignore the science to see it ratified.

The undeveloped world sees the Kyoto treaty as almost too good to be true: by taxing energy consumption in the developed countries, productive capacity will shift to countries not bound by the treaty. Thus, the treaty enforces a transfer of wealth on a global scale, of unprecedented proportions.

The treaty is a politician’s dream: a tax so pervasive and far reaching that it can’t be evaded and will provide untold revenues for years to come.

Bureaucrats, both government and U.N. get what they crave: power. The power to decide who gets energy and how much. Better still: there’s no accountability. Unelected, not constrained by issues of sovereignty, they will be the globe's arbiters of productive capacity and living standards.

Environmental groups of all stripes and issues, from saving the rainforest, the salmon, the air, the water, the spotted owl, and the whales, see the treaty can advance their cause.

The most radical of these is the "Global Sustainability" crowd, of which Al Gore is the high priest. These people believe that the fragile earth cannot withstand the pace of human and economic development brought on by our "dysfunctional society", and so it must be slowed, to a "sustainable" level. And who decides what that level is? Why the ruling elite, of course. Preferably headed by Al Gore, President of the United States. (However Bill Clinton, Secretary General of the U.N., will still be his boss.)

Our Vice President believes that every one of our cultural institutions, from schools and churches to industry and commerce, should make eliminating man’s effect on the earth its single overriding goal. This means, he says "embarking on an all-out effort to use every policy and program, every law and institution, every treaty and alliance, every tactic and strategy, every plan and course of action to preserve and nurture our ecological system."

And if you don’t agree, or if you object to the abridged freedoms this would entail, there will be "terrible moral consequences". In the ultimate non-sequitir he compares the western ethic of production and consumption (that is, capitalism) to the totalitarian Nazi Germany war machine.

Whew! I thought we had a pretty simple question, here. Is human activity causing the globe to warm or is it not? It seemed to me that the data clearly failed to make a case for taking any action on the global warming hypothesis. But that makes me, according to Al Gore, immoral.

Al Gore sees the United States -- a country that freed an entire people to think and act without shackles, a country that by unleashing the power and creativity of the human mind’s productive capacity attained a level of prosperity that is without precedent in human history -- as the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany.

And then he negotiates and has the President sign a treaty that if enacted will do more to limit freedom than any single act in our nation’s history, because he claims, contrary to the science, it is necessary to "save the earth".

Brings to mind H.L. Mencken again, which pretty much explains the entire global warming issue: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule."


They Said It - A few very special quotes revealing the true motive of global warming acolytes:

  • "We reject the idea of private property." -Peter Berle, Former President of the National Audubon Society

  • "It's easier to get funding if you can show some evidence for impending climate disasters. In the late 1970's it was the coming ice age. Who knows what it will be ten years from now. Sure, science benefits from scary scenarios." -Dr Roy Spencer, NASA, 1990 TV Interview

  • "We may get to the point where the ONLY WAY of saving the world will be for the industrial civilization to collapse". -Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the Rio Summit in 1992

  • "A global climate treaty must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the greenhouse effect." - Richard Benedict, State Department. employee working on assignment from the Conservation Foundation.

  • "We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing - in terms of economic policy and environmental policy." - Undersecretary of Global Affairs Timothy Wirth (and former Senator from Colorado)

  • "The trouble with this idea is that planting trees [to consume CO2] will not lead to the societal changes we want to achieve." - Unidentified Kyoto delegate, Dec. 5, 1997

  • "The answer to global warming is in the abolition of private property and production for human need. A socialist world would place an enormous priority on alternative energy sources. This is what ecologically-minded socialists have been exploring for quite some time now." - Louis Proyect, Columbia University, Former head of Tecnica, an organization that sent technical aid to the Sandinistas in the 1980’s. Nov. 27, 1997

  • "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. " -Stephen Schneider, an environmental activist, in Discover , Oct. '89

  • "What should be done ? The ideal approach would be scrap the whole fossil fuel economy, lock, stock, and parking garage." - Joseph Petulla, emeritus professor of Environmental Management, University of San Francisco (San Francisco Examiner, October 27 1997)

  • "... the deliberate quest of poverty . . . reduced resource consumption . . .and set levels of mortality control." - Maurice Strong, on what is required to achieve global sustainability

Doomsayers Vs Doomslayers

The doomsayers are the most vocal environmental advocates, both governmental and independent. The popular media loves to quote their cataclysmic predictions, even when they prove entirely wrong.

For example, Paul Erlich warned 20 years ago of the impending doom from the globe’s population explosion and the coming scarcity of natural resources that would cause mass starvation. None of it came true. Quite the contrary, natural resources are more abundant now than ever, and the world produces more food per capita than ever before. Yet the media still quotes dire predictions from Erlich, with total credulity of his credentials as a prognosticator.

Another example is Stephen Schneider, a former Stanford scientist. In the 1970’s, Schneidier wrote a book and went on tour warning about the coming ice age. Now, Schneider leads the charge against global warming, and his predictions are still widely quoted.

The following are a few Doomsayer predictions about the dire effects of global warming, alongside the more clearheaded and science-based views of the climatologists, who are rarely quoted in the popular media.


Global Warming will cause the polar ice caps to melt, causing sea levels to rise up to 8 feet, drowning entire coastal cities.


If the globe warms, the atmosphere will hold more moisture, causing more precipitation. Because much of that precipitation will fall on the frozen poles, sea levels will fall slightly


Global warming will cause a greater frequency of severe weather, more hurricanes and tornadoes.


Warmer temperatures are related to less extreme weather patterns, not more.


Global Warming will bring widespread drought in now productive farmland areas.


Higher CO2 levels and warmer average temperatures would be a boon to wildlife and plant life. Forests would thrive, and the globe could sustain much more life than it can now.


Epidemics will overrun the earth, and pest-borne diseases such as malaria spin out of control.
Epidemics like malaria are common only in impoverished areas.


The best way to control disease is to raise the standard of living in poor countries.


The only way to save the planet is to decrease production and consumption, especially of fossil fuels. Only by tempering mankind’s urge to use nature for its own purposes can we ensure the environment will be sustained in a livable condition.


Environmental preservation is a "luxury good". Poor countries, especially in socialist or communist regimes that allow little private property, have horrid environmental conditions. Only wealthier countries have the available resources to direct to minimizing human impact on the environment. The best way to ensure a clean environment, far from curbing the natural human desire to improve living standards by creating wealth, is to encourage it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More on Climate Gate

It's almost funny the lengths the LameStream media is going to ignore the CRU emails.

The Oregonian lead editorial today talks of the upcoming Copenhagen climate confab, and how China and Obama are now ready to agree to CO2 limits. The piece goes on about how promising it is that the two largest "polluters" are finally talking about real limits.

But nowhere is there any mention whatsoever about any little controversy that might be brewing somewhere over some little emails. Not a word.

Question: If a major international scandal occurs that calls into question the basic integrity of the lead scientists on the biggest environmental and political issue of the century, and the Oregonian doesn't report it - did the scandal really happen?

Apparently the Oregonian doesn't think so. Don't report it, and it doesn't exist.

Except this scandal is growing legs. Long ones. And honest journalists, even those who for years have criticized AGW skeptics are now looking at this honestly.

Read this piece from Clive Crook in The Atlantic. Will we ever read anything this honest in the pages of the Oregonian? Doubtful.

Clive Crook is no right winger. He is very smart, and very talented. I have followed his writing for years in the Financial Times. He used to write for The Economist. He's a liberal. As he says - at the very least, these emails show that the leading scientists pushing the AGW hypothesis cannot be trusted.

So where does that leave them? Credibility destroyed. Their original data was deleted.

This is going to be fun!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Climate gate finally getting noticed

Sure, the mainstream media here in the the U.S. are still refusing to report the story, but the international media sees it for what it is: The biggest scientific scandal ever.

On the eve of the Copenhagan conference, I'll bet this thing cools their private jets just a little bit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

They are coming after your lifestyle

Here they come: the planners want to change how you live. Everything from what you eat to how warm or cool you keep your home to how you get to work. And they aren't even trying to hide it.

It's all right here in Multnomah County's "Climate Action Plan." The Portland Tribune today does a good job of summarizing its elements (but predictably, there isn't a whisper in the article that some of this stuff might be a tad controversial, or any discussion whatsover from any contrary viewpoint. Isn't it great living in a one party state?)

Pretty scary stuff:

"Actions suggested in the plan aren’t “just a wish list,” says Susan Anderson, director of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Rather, they will be used to forge new policies, ordinances, incentives and public spending designed to meet the stringent emissions targets."

Go read the plan. It is just breathtaking, the power that the plan contemplates handing over to government. Not to mention the economic devastation if we actually met the goals these folks have in mind.

This is just lunacy!

The document itself is an orgasm of central planning passions that if implemented would without question put the finishing touches on the devastation of the Multnomah County economy. You really have to read the whole thing to appreciate the sweeping breadth of what the planners want to control, and the utter disregard for whether all their arbitrary targets, goals and objectives have any basis in reality.

They want to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by the year 2050, with an interim goal of 40% by 2030. To get started toward these goals, the document develops 18 objectives and "accompanying actions" which are to be pursued in the next three years. These "actions," they are quick to point out, are not an exhaustive list. They are just the "highest priority" stuff, "all of which must be pursued by the end of 2012."

And off they go. Remember - they plan to use coercion to make this stuff happen: taxes, bulding code changes, ordinances, regulations.

I'll just list a few of the things they want to require, so you get a sense of their detachment from any question of viability.

1) They want to reduce the energy consumption of all existing buildings by 25%. First, why? What if energy prices fell because we found a cheap, non-carbon form of energy? Second, what do the planners know about the feasibility of achieving this level of energy reduction? Answer: nothing at all. They just chose a number without regard to what might have to be done to meet this arbitrary goal. It would be easy enough, actually. Just turn the thermostat off. No heat, no cooling. And no occupants!

2) They want all new buildings to achieve "zero net greenhouse emissions." They will use the building code to mandate this. No discussion at all of how this might raise the cost of homes and commercial buildings.

The document gets worse still when it deals with transportation. They want to reduce vehicle miles per person by 30%! They themselves admit that between 1990 and 2008, VMT per capita went up by about 6% (this while they spent the bulk of transportation dollars on light rail.) Just imagine what they are going to have to do to achieve this goal!

Oh - we don't have to imagine! They lay it all out for us.

Objective 5 says they want 80% of all Multco residents to live in an area where they can easily walk or bicycle to meet all their basic non-working needs. Read: ultra-high density. One action plan is to force all neighborhoods into their "20 minute neighborhood" model. They flesh out this model, and claim all sorts of Portlanders are "interested." Yeah, I have been to some of those "Charettes."

In order to reduce vehicle miles traveled, they want only 30% of us to drive alone to work. Their target is that 25% will use mass transit, and another 25% will bike to work!


I could go on, but you get the point. The kind of place these planners envision would be one of the least economically productive places in the country. You think there are few jobs now? Implement this plan. You think housing is expensive now? Implement this plan.

What is infuriating to me is that these ivory tower planners and the political structure that enables them have are cranking this crap out as if we are in a robust economy. People everywhere are struggling, and our city and county officials are actually paying people to devise schemes for how to make housing, energy, transportation and food MORE EXPENSIVE!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

PAC-10 is the most entertaining football in the nation

The country was treated to two incredibly entertaining PAC-10 football games today, which put all the other games on TV all day long to shame.

Stanford lost a heartbreaker to Cal when their terrific freshman QB threw an interception on the five yard line with a little over a minute to go. Had they scored a TD, they would have led by a point.

Meanwhile, Oregon and Arizona were playing a classic. What a game! Oregon tied it with 6 seconds left in the game, then won it in the second overtime.

Tbe only game even close to this entertainment value was watching an overrated LSU botch a comeback attempt against Ole Miss. Needing a field goal to win, they made a miracle 4th and 26 conversion with one second left on the clock, but didn't have their field goal team ready to take the field! The QB lined up under center and spiked the ball, which was ridiculous because it was the last play of the game.

Who knows what either he or LSU's coach was thinking. But what can you expect from a guy whose very name, Les Miles, exudes bad grammar.

The PAC-10 has been entertaining all year long. Who knows whether our top teams would beat Texas, Alabama, Texas Tech or Florida (I think we would give them a run for their money) but just from a fan's perspective, there is no more entertaining league in the country.

And speaking of the top PAC-10 teams .... that would be Oregon and Oregon State.

The Civil War will be for the the league title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Unreal.

December 3rd is going to be an interesting night.

The O: Trying to pretend the fringe is mainstream

I shouldn't EVER read the "How We Live" section of the Oregonian. I almost never do.

I usually read the front page section, laugh at the Business section, read the Metro section and the editorial page, and then on to Sports. The "How We Live" section is so reliably inane that they have trained me to not even glance at the front page, but rather to just turn to the comics where the Bridge Column is printed, and then head off for my morning constitutional to be reminded why I will never be a world class contract bridge player.

But tonight I made the mistake. Late night snack, paper already read, sat down with my re-heated soup at the table where the paper still lay. I'd already read the rest of it, so it was all I had left. I was immediately sorry.

The article took up almost the entire front page of the section, and continued on to a back page. Which would be fine if the story was at all interesting in the journalism sense.

What was it? An glowing article about a new kind of transformational lifestyle, "CoHousing."

Oh brother. How many stories do we have to read in the Oregonian about some alternative lifestyle that they claim is so much better for our health, our environment, our community, our culture? Here we go again.

So it seems about two decades ago some latter day hippies bought five houses in NE Portland and created a little urban commune. Now about 25 people live there, and they share all the usual stuff in tried and true commune style.

Only now, the fact that they can claim to have a much lower "carbon footprint" gives them all sorts of cache that the Oregonian just can't resist pretending deserves a huge Friday edition multiple color picture story about how morally superior this way of life is to the selfish, high carbon lifestyle we all want to live.

There are a few laugh out loud parts of the story. Like the part where it is revealed the founder lives in the main house with her significant other, their 15 year old daughter and "another couple."

Any takers? Mom and Dads out there - any of you clamoring to share a space with your daughters and another couple? Of course the story doesn't mention any sensitivities around such a situation. Rather, the very next sentence explains that the house gets "40% of its energy needs from solar panels and water heaters."

Great! My daughter is at risk of being molested by a non family household member, but at least we are sustainable!

The story tells of all the usual commune-style arrangements, which might have been interesting back in 1968 when communes were actually kind of interesting. But it is really irritating that the Oregonian tries to pass this stuff off as either innovative, or as some kind of wave of the future, or anything other than what is: just a small fringe of people living in a way that almost nobody wants to live.

But that is what the Oregonian seems to desperately want to pretend is mainstream. Even though their own reporting proves otherwise:

It says that 5,000 people live in such arrangements in 100 communities in 21 different states. But they have their own national association, which wants to boost that number, "focusing on baby boomers and "cultural creatives," a demographic estimated to top 50 million."

Good luck.

One resident, a 25 year old PSU music student says living with all these different people makes the "human relationships more durable." Really? More durable than a nuclear family living in a single household? I somehow doubt it.

But that really is the point of the whole story. They really are trying to push new social arrangements and claim they are mainstream.

Hey, if people want to live like this, I could care less. Go for it. But why does the Oregonian pretend it merits this kind of fawning coverage as if this is some kind of superior arrangement for how we should live?

The fact is, we don't want to live like this. Normal people want to get married, raise a family, and have a household with their family and nobody else living in it. That is what people overwhelmingly want.

The Oregonian just alienates itself more and more from the vast majority of people by pretending that this kind of lifestyle is anything more than the fringe that it has always been.

And mysteriously, their circulation continues to plummet.

End of the Oprah era

So Oprah announced that 2011 will be her last year doing her show.

I've never much watched her show because it always ran during the day. So I am not really a fan in the sense of being a loyal follower who watches her show.

But I have long admired her for her talent, her accomplishments, her range of expertise, her business acumen, and the fact that she became the rarest of all things: the transcendent entertainer.

She is incredibly talented, and her ability to connect with an audience is probably without parallel in our time. Her reach was impressive. Her book list spawned probably hundreds of thousands of book clubs around the world devoted to reading her selections. She could make a best seller with her simple recommendation.

She is and always was a class act. Very human, but didn't really cross the line into schmaltz. She opened her own life from time to time up to her audience, like with her struggles with weight. But I never felt that she relied on the sensational or the worst of our pop culture reflexes to keep her audience.

Rather, I think she elevated her audience. She often dealt with serious topics, and she had a way of asking tough questions in a way that did not intimidate. As I say, I didn't watch her show, so my impressions come from the things I would see reported about her show from the other media outlets. But she was not afraid of controversial topics, and handled them very well.

She is still quite young, so she will obviously be around a long time, and will continue to contribute to our culture in many ways. So I don't want this to sound like some kind of professional obituary.

Far from it. I can't wait to see what Oprah does now that she isn't saddled by the responsibility of a daily talk show. I am quite certain her politics are much different than my own, but that doesn't matter here.

Oprah is one of the most talented people of our generation. Whatever she chooses to do, she will have a huge impact. It will be exciting to watch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Newsweek - a once proud magazine

Imagine a liberal woman, a national figure, once a candidate for Vice President of the United States, being pictured by Newsweek Magazine as they pictured Sarah Palin on their cover this week. It simply would never happen.

They want to diminish Sarah Palin, so they use a photograph taken from Runners World Magazine and put it on their cover.

They really only diminish themselves. Newsweek used to be a very good rag. Decent columnists, good business coverage, intelligent writing. Now it is just another failing liberal media outlet.

It deserves to fail.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Phil Keisling report on PERS

Former Secretary of State Phil Keisling has drafted a report on the current problems with PERS. Bojack got a copy of it, and I read the thing tonight.

It is quite simply the seminal work explaining the so very complicated structure of PERS and its dizzying problems. The report is more than 50 pages including the footnotes and appendices, but it is very readable.

Making something this complex readable is no easy task.

Keisling is the last Democrat I voted for. I have gotten to know him quite well over the years, as we have had many a conversation over breakfasts and lunches. He has always had my respect.

Now he has my sincere thanks for providing a resource we can all use and refer to when we need a more complete understanding of PERS.

Thank you, Phil Keisling!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is a must read

If you want to understand why our financial system collapsed, and why the fixes they have put in place are going to fail, you have to read the column pasted below, which ran in the WSJ Weekend Edition.

The Man Who Predicted the Depression
Ludwig von Mises explained how government-induced credit expansions led to imbalances in the economy.

Ludwig von Mises was snubbed by economists world-wide as he warned of a credit crisis in the 1920s. We ignore the great Austrian at our peril today.

Mises's ideas on business cycles were spelled out in his 1912 tome "Theorie des Geldes und der Umlaufsmittel" ("The Theory of Money and Credit"). Not surprisingly few people noticed, as it was published only in German and wasn't exactly a beach read at that.

Taking his cue from David Hume and David Ricardo, Mises explained how the banking system was endowed with the singular ability to expand credit and with it the money supply, and how this was magnified by government intervention. Left alone, interest rates would adjust such that only the amount of credit would be used as is voluntarily supplied and demanded. But when credit is force-fed beyond that (call it a credit gavage), grotesque things start to happen.

Government-imposed expansion of bank credit distorts our "time preferences," or our desire for saving versus consumption. Government-imposed interest rates artificially below rates demanded by savers leads to increased borrowing and capital investment beyond what savers will provide. This causes temporarily higher employment, wages and consumption.

Ordinarily, any random spikes in credit would be quickly absorbed by the system—the pricing errors corrected, the half-baked investments liquidated, like a supple tree yielding to the wind and then returning.

But when the government holds rates artificially low in order to feed ever higher capital investment in otherwise unsound, unsustainable businesses, it creates the conditions for a crash. Everyone looks smart for a while, but eventually the whole monstrosity collapses under its own weight through a credit contraction or, worse, a banking collapse.

The system is dramatically susceptible to errors, both on the policy side and on the entrepreneurial side. Government expansion of credit takes a system otherwise capable of adjustment and resilience and transforms it into one with tremendous cyclical volatility.
"Theorie des Geldes" did not become the playbook for policy makers.

The 1920s were marked by the brave new era of the Federal Reserve system promoting inflationary credit expansion and with it permanent prosperity. The nerve of this Doubting-Thomas, perma-bear, crazy Kraut! Sadly, poor Ludwig was very nearly alone in warning of the collapse to come from this credit expansion. In mid-1929, he stubbornly turned down a lucrative job offer from the Viennese bank Kreditanstalt, much to the annoyance of his fiancée, proclaiming "A great crash is coming, and I don't want my name in any way connected with it."

We all know what happened next. Pretty much right out of Mises's script, overleveraged banks (including Kreditanstalt) collapsed, businesses collapsed, employment collapsed. The brittle tree snapped. Following Mises's logic, was this a failure of capitalism, or a failure of hubris?

Mises's solution follows logically from his warnings. You can't fix what's broken by breaking it yet again. Stop the credit gavage. Stop inflating. Don't encourage consumption, but rather encourage saving and the repayment of debt. Let all the lame businesses fail—no bailouts. (You see where I'm going with this.) The distortions must be removed or else the precipice from which the system will inevitably fall will simply grow higher and higher.

Mises started getting some much-deserved respect once "Theorie des Geldes" was finally published in English in 1934. It is unfortunate that it required such a disaster for people to take heed of what was the one predictive, scholarly explanation of what was happening.

But then, just Mises's bad luck, along came John Maynard Keynes's tome "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" in 1936. Keynes was dapper, fresh and sophisticated. He even wrote in English! And the guy had chutzpah, fearlessly fighting the battle against unemployment by running the currency printing press and draining the government's coffers.

He was the anti-Mises. So what if Keynes had lost his shirt in the stock-market crash. His book was peppered with fancy math (even Greek letters) and that meant rigor, modernity. To add insult to injury, Mises wasn't even refuted by Keynes and his ilk. He was ignored.

Fast forward 70-some years, during which we saw Keynesianism's repeated disappointments, the end of the gold standard, persistent inflation with intermittent inflationary recessions and banking crises, culminating in Alan Greenspan's "Great Moderation" and a subsequent catastrophic collapse in housing and banking. Where do we find ourselves? At a point of profound insight gained through economic logic, trial and error, and objective empiricism? Or right back where we started?

With interest rates at zero, monetary engines humming as never before, and a self-proclaimed Keynesian government, we are back again embracing the brave new era of government-sponsored prosperity and debt. And, more than ever, the system is piling uncertainties on top of uncertainties, turning an otherwise resilient economy into a brittle one.

How curious it is that the guy who wrote the script depicting our never ending story of government-induced credit expansion, inflation and collapse has remained so persistently forgotten. Must we sit through yet another performance of this tragic tale?

Mr. Spitznagel is the founder and chief investment officer of the hedge fund Universa Investments LP, based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Political correctness can be deadly

The real story is taking shape now. I think it is clear enough to be stated:

The Army had a jihadist Muslim in its ranks. A traitor whose allegiance was to Islam first. Further, he let it be widely known, through his words and actions, that he thught the war on terror was a war on his religion, and that he thought infidels should be murdered.

But these in-plain-sight warning signs were ignored. His fellow students in his master's program didn't file complaints because they were afraid of appearing discriminatory. TWO investigations into his conduct and his correspondence were dropped.

He kills thirteen fellow soldiers and wounds 31.

Why is the mainstream media so reluctant to admit that this guy was a jihadist? As Rich Lowry chronicles in his column today, the New York Times, Time Magazine, and the Washington Post keep pushing the "when soldiers snap" narrative, with articles about "Post-Traumatic-Stress-Syndrome."

This is a tragic consequence of political correctness. We pretend in the airports that 85 year old white grandmothers pose the same risk to security as 25 year old middle-eastern males. The U.S. Army ignores obvious and well-reported signs that this madman was a traitor, and did nothing.

And the U.S mainstream media can't even admit that Hasan was motivated by Muslim extremism! For God's sake, he yelled Allah Akbar while killing 13 American soldiers!

Do you think the New York Times will print as many front page stories about this tragedy as they did about the Tailhook scandal? Or Abu-Graib?

I'll bet anybody any amount of money that it won't even be close.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What kind of America are we?

It has become more and more apparent to me lately that there are really two general world views that determine how a person views the kind of country America is and should be.

The two views are incompatible. There is no "compromise" between them that doesn't move the country toward one or another from where it currently is. The country isn't split right down the middle on these two views, but it is pretty close. Maybe 45%/55%, perhaps just a bit wider.

Because there isn't any compromise possible between these two camps (and what I mean here is that any compromise necessarily moves in one direction or the other, so one side advances, the other loses) the two sides can't even really talk with each other. They have fundamentally different assumptions about the very meaning of America.

One side honestly wants to move America into the European welfare state model: high taxes, with some necessities provided by government for everyone and all necessities provided by government for some people. The private sector and voluntary arrangements between people are restricted in order to forward the social policies that the government has decided are important (workweek, vacation time, hours, working conditions, benefits, etc.)

This view believes the individual is subordinate to the group, and therefore the government's rightful role is often to limit and direct individual behavior in order to create a fairer, more just society.

Let's call this view the "collectivist" vision.

The other side believes the European welfare state model is not what America is and should be about. They believe that government should generally stay out of voluntary arrangements between individuals, and that is should definitely not have the power to attempt to create some vision of social justice through abrogation of these individual rights. At core, they belive that the individual is not subordinate to the group, that limits and directives on individuals is warranted only to prevent one individual from harming others.

Let's call this view the "individualist" vision.

What we see going on now is that President Obama is attempting to move this country rapidly in the direction of the collectivists. He wants government to take over automobile companies and banks and take a proscriptive role in health care and energy use.

So the question for this time is: Is America a collectivist country? Will the people support a President who wants to move us there?

I don't think so. I think the collectivist view is indeed shared a large minority of Americans, but it isn't the majority. And further - America is fundamentally NOT a collectivist society. It is not what our founding fathers created. Quite the opposite!

So a President can't just change the fundamental principles of our country through a legislative agenda.

People have said to me lately: "So what is so bad about the European model?"

Leaving aside the arguments about the structural unemployment rate it creates, and the lower standard of living, the problem with the European model is that it is inherently un-American in that it restricts the freedoms upon which our nation was founded.

Hey, if Europe wants it, have at it. I would argue that Europe accepts the welfare state model because its culture came of age in a fuedal system, where there was no middle class and where the people were literally in serfdom. They got whatever the Lord allowed.

The European welfare state is just the new Lord, and the European people have in their cultural core an acceptance of the notion that they are subservient to the Lord.

That is not how our country came of age. Our forefathers rejected this model. They fled the feudalism that limited their freedom, and at great personal risk forged a new nation here. They even fought a war to sever the ties to the fuedal government of Europe.

They founded a new country based on the primacy of the individual. A radical notion that rights are vested in the individual, and that it is the government's role to secure these rights. No nation on Earth had ever been founded on such a notion.

And look what happened! It unleashed the creative powers of the human spirit in a way that literally changed the world. For the next two hundred plus years, America was the engine that brought unimaginable prosperity to any and every corner of the world that wanted to follow its lead.

So why is it that we have some large minority of the people in America now who want to copy the European collectivist "serfdom" model?

I don't understand it. It is as if, 230+ years after our nation's founding, that many people now literally do not accept the fundamental premise of our nation's founding.

And one of them is in the White House.

I started this post by saying there are two visions for America - which I identified as the "collectivist" vision and the "individualist" vision. I acknowledge that many people are in the collectivist camp, and are trying like hell to move our country into this model.

I know this would anger folks who are of this view, but what they are doing is fundamentally un-American. The society they are trying to create is not what our country was created to be. If they want to change the founding principles of America in order to establish a European model, then they should have to acknowledge that they don't share the basic American founding principles and try to convince us that these principles are wrong and should be changed.

Make no mistake: the path Obama wants us on leads to serfdom. I predict the nation will reject it, because the enough American people have not forgotten - much less rejected - the core principles that made America the greatest nation ever to grace the planet Earth.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fort Hood shooting reaction

As the details start to roll in about the Fort Hood shooting, it seems more and more obvious that the shooter was indeed motivated by Muslim extremism. Reports of him yelling "Allah Akbar" as he fired the shots should be a pretty good hint as to his motive.

Which makes even more ridiculous the reaction from Congressman Jim McDermott I just heard on the radio. He said the shooting was a "symptom of a stressed military," and showed the need for "mental health counseling." He was quoted as saying we need to end the "stigma" associated with seeking mental health services.

So McDermott thinks that Hasan, who was a mental health medical professional, might not have passed out new bellybuttons to his military colleagues if a sense of shame had not kept him from seeking out mental health counseling?

This guy is such a dope.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Interpreting NY-23

Here come the post-mortems on the results of NY-23 last night.

Democrats will say it shows the dysfunction of the Republican party, because they ate their own and delivered a victory to the Democrat. They will say it lays bare the rift in the Republican party between the Tea Party element and the party establishment, and ensures that there will be contested primaries all over the country that will further damage the party and weaken it for 2010.

I don't see it that way. I think this has a few relevant facets.

The party screwed up big time by putting Scozzafava up as the candidate. There was no nominating election - it was done by a handful of party establishment types. From the start it was clear that she was a horrible fit for the district. Had they simply put up even a minimally acceptable candidate, they would have rolled to victory and avoided this whole mess.

Hoffman wasn't really an ideal candidate himself. He was pretty much a stiff. Zero charisma. Kind of the fringe type of guy who would step into this kind of a breach - a situation that isn't usually going to attract the most polished and mainstream person, and he wasn't.

So the fact that he lost isn't all that surprising.

Scozzafava proved herself, in the end, to be everything her opponents said she was when she gracelessly endorsed the Democrat. In her heart, she was a Democrat. Why the party ran her is mysterious.

But this loss isn't altogether a bad thing. First, Owens is almost certainly a one termer. This is a Republican district.

So on the negative side of the ledger, we have a one term Democrat in a Republican district. On the positive side, we have a very strong message sent to the establishment Republicans: NO MORE RINOS IN DISTRICTS WHERE A CONSERVATIVE CAN WIN!

And guess what? President Obama is doing a very good job at bringing Conservatism back into vogue again, which means that there will be LOTS of districts where a real conservative can win.
NY-23 was indeed a family fight, and there was some collateral damage. But the result will be a party that fields candidates who are far more in step with the reality of the political facts on the ground.

It was a wake up call to an out-of-step Republican party establishment, and it is a good thing it happened.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2009 election night

As I write this, it is so far a Republican sweep in the races that have been called so far. The one race not yet determined is the famed NY-23rd district, where the Conservative party candidate is behind by about 4,000 votes with 65% of the count done.

So what does it mean?

I don't know how this can be spun any other way than to say that independent and swing voters moved hard away from the Democrats, and that it means trouble for the Obama agenda and Democrat candidates in 2010.

Over at BlueOregon tonight, there isn't so much as a whisper about the election results. After crowing for a year about the demise of the Republican party, there doesn't seem to be much self-reflection when the first post-Obama election provides them with a small but stern rebuke.

I guess this shouldn't be a surprise. There was nothing on BlueOregon about the apalling "green-gate" scandal in which Kulongoski basically lied about the cost of his tax credit scheme. Kari Chisolm wrote a post today called "Quick Hits: catching up on the weekend," in which he gave a rundown of the major political news stories of the weekend.

The green-gate story wasn't even mentioned!

That is how one-party states become two party states.

Will the 2009 election be a harbringer for 2010 in Oregon and nationally? I think that is a distinct possibility. Obama ran as a moderate, and has governed as a radical. That is not where the people of this country reside.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Governor: "I am NOT corrupt. Just incompetent"

I am insulted, and you should be too.

I mean, you would think they would respect us enough to try to come up with some excuse that at least sounds marginally plausible. But they don't. They know that any old excuse will do, because in our one party state nobody will hold them accountable for wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

I am talking about the Business Energy Tax Credit, and the revelation in yesterday's Oregonian that the Governor's office pressured the Department of Energy to lowball the estimates on how much the tax credit would be used. They were only off by a factor of 40 or so.

When two Department of Energy staffers (one former, one current) say that they were instructed to put down as low an estimate as possible, what is the Governor's response? From the Oregonian:

"Kulongoski staff members deny that the governor or anyone on his staff directed the Energy Department to lowball the costs and said the huge disparity between early cost projections and actual expenses was simply a bad guess. They say no one understood how popular the tax credit would become."

This is just laugh out loud funny. Mind you, they were estimating the impact of raising the tax credit to $20 million per project. And their estimate: $1.2 million in '07-'09 and $4.1 million for '09-'11.

Someone will have to explain that to me. Bad guess indeed.

So they would have us believe that they are really stupid enough to make an estimate like this, and not see how ridiculous it is on its face. As if they asked themselves: "Gee, if we raise the tax credit from $3.5 million to $20 million, how much will get used? Probably about $1.2 million. Yeah, let's go with that."

And when they are caught red-handed, with two different inside sources who say the Governor's office pressured them to minimize the number, they just claim incompetence!

Question: Will Oregonians continue to put up with this BS?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here they go again

Sam Adams is just back from DC where he was trying to get $20 million out of the feds to help pay for the latest "linchpin" project that they are just CERTAIN will pay for itself many times over by attracting untold levels of economic activity.

Untold, of course, because nobody can actually explain in concrete terms exactly how the thing will create any jobs or value.

The story is in Willamette Week. The want to build a monument to "sustainability" - an office building that produces all its own electricity. Of course that requires the thing to be hotter in summer and cooler in winter than most of us would want in a building for $31 per square foot. (Which puts it a level above class A office space.)

Heck all sorts of people will line up to have their office in a place where they sweat all summer and freeze all winter, especially if it costs more. Guess who will occupy the space? Sustainability-trough-feeding non-profits and government agencies.

But I mostly LOVE the serious economic analysis they did to show how if we build this outrageously expensive building with taxpayer funds, that it will spur all sorts of economic benefits. Here is what the Chancellor of the Oregon University System, a financial partner in the deal to the tune of $80 million in bonds, says:

"This is going to brand Oregon as a leader in the sustainability movement,” Kenton says. “We think of this building as a portal. People are going to want to come here and connect with it, and it will drive a whole bunch of economic value to the state.”

So there we have it. A "portal" that will "drive a whole bunch of economic value" to Oregon.

And on the strength of that extensive econometric analysis, we commit tens of millions of taxpayer funds.

OK then.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Central planning is dead. Long live central planning

An article in the Portland Tribune this week is a great example of the ability of our local politicians and planners to refuse to acknowledge the failures of their policies.

The article, to summarize, says: "Shucks, it turns out that remodeling an entire region into our vision of new urbania, with bike paths and lite rail and high density makes those dastardly folks who actually employ people want to leave. Who knew? Guess we need our planners to turn their talents to planning the economy."

The hubris of these folks is startling. Faced with the utter failure of their "livability" dreams and schemes, now they pretend to be able to plan what industries will have job growth. "Clusters" they call them. And they want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to put their helpful stamp on these burgeoning new employment sectors.

Never mind that the last next big thing, Biotech, which was the justification for their last several hundred million dollar boondoggle, so far has been an utter failure.

Nothing like failure to make them create new plans! It certainly couldn't be that planning itself is a failure. That would mean they wouldn't have jobs!

And THOSE jobs are the ones that these folks REALLY care about!

Friday, October 02, 2009

On cue, the Oregonian praises Nike

What a surprise that the day after Nike announces it wants everyone in the U.S. to pay higher energy prices, the Oregonian praises them and the other large corporations that are on board with carbon tax legislation.

The lead editorial also praises the "forward looking" companies that support Cap & Trade, such as General Electric, Duke Energy, Exelon, and PG&E.

Forward looking? Is the Oregonian really that gullible, or are they just fundamentally dishonest? Do they NOT know that each and every one of these companies is simply "rent-seeking?" These corporations have a huge financial stake in the the government making fossil fuel energy less competitive. The mandates and controls that would result from carbon taxes will put billions in their coffers.

For the Oregonian to pretend that somehow these companies are just being good corporate citizens is just plainly dishonest.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I'm boycotting Nike

Nike announced yesterday that the company is withdrawing from the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because if its opposition to the Waxman-Merkey Cap & Trade legislation. So Nike supports raising domestic energy prices.

Pretty hypocritical for a company that makes ALL of its consumer products in places like China, Vietnam, and India - places that never agreed to any CO2 controls - to support making energy more expensive in the U.S.

No more Nike stuff in my house.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Race to the Status Quo

There's one area of policy that I think President Obama is handling quite well, at least in the sense of using a federal executive branch apparatus to actually bring about positive change: education.

Back when he chose Arne Duncan as his education secretary, I wrote a column in BrainstormNW Magazine praising the selection and detailing Duncan's reform efforts as superintendent of Chicago Public Schools.

I watched the man closely over the years, and talked to him several times at various school reform conferences. His commitment to real, structural school reform is real, even though the implementation of his programs in Chicago were somewhat blunted through opposition and political compromise.

Duncan has maintained his committment to reform during his first year at the helm of the U.S. Dep't of Education. His #1 policy initiative is called the "Race to the Top." The program involves a $4 billion fund that he is allowing states to compete for, but they must first prove they are committed to a number of reform ideas such as merit pay and charter schools.

Probably only about ten states will be selected as Race to the Top (RttT) funds recipients. The stakes are high, because the awards will be in the range of $3-400 million per state. Oregon, of course, wants in.

An article in today's Oregonian by Betsy Hammond tells of the efforts Oregon is making to gin up a winning RttT proposal. The article has links to the five different committees that have been appointed to hammer out the policy statements and other confetti they think will convince Arne Duncan that Oregon is a serious reform state.

It's not going to work. Who can argue with a straight face that Oregon's political establishment is serious about school reform? Arne Duncan isn't going to buy it.

A look at the committees reveals a slew of folks who share one common bond: a steadfast commitment to the status quo. Look at their document titled "Core Values and Beliefs," reveals all the same drivel that the State Department of Education has yammered on and on about for years. Nothing innovative about it at all.

Of course it is authored by the President of the OEA and one of the longest serving school bureaucrats in Oregon history. Why would anyone expect anything different?

So the question really becomes one of this being almost a defining moment - not for Oregon, but for Arne Duncan and Barack Obama. If they are fooled by this pabulum, they aren't the reformers they pretend to be.

I'm betting they are. Oregon won't come close to qualifying for RttT funds.

More, 6:40 pm

I did a careful reading of the "Core Values"document linked above. It is really quite revealing.

It has always been a core philosophy of mine that if you want to solve a problem, don't look to the people who were running the show when the problem arose to provide the solution. After all - if they knew how to solve the problem that arose on their watch, it wouldn't have become a problem in the first place!

The problem in our school system is a shameful achievement gap, a shockingly high dropout rate, and an unacceptably low overall general rate of reading and math proficiency. That these are the problems is pretty much uncontroversial.

It's the solutions that separate the reformers from the pretenders. True reform doesn't mean doing the something slightly different using the same basic structures. It means changing the structure of the system.

Read the "Core Beliefs" document, and it is clear: there is nothing whatsoever in the way of structural change contemplated in this document. It is all about trying to improve what teachers do, the content they deliver, the data they analyze, the training they receive, etc.

My question: aren't these people who are on these committees and writing these documents, telling us how they will use the RttT funds to get better outcomes the same folks who are CURRENTLY running the show? Aren't they the same folks who designed the current curricula, teacher training programs, assessments, data analysis systems, etc?

So what was stopping them from improving the schools before now?

The truth is, they are proposing the very same stuff they proposed at every other juncture when there was money to be chased or political pressure on them to improve their product. All the same college-of-education jargon. All the same basic solutions. It has been intellectually bankrupt for decades.

Their solutions didn't work before, because they doesn't solve the root of the problem: The structure of the system.

Reform has to mean structural change. Everything else is just a song and dance that ends up simply further empowering the very same folks under whose watch the problems arose. We need to DISEMPOWER these folks, not give them hundreds of millions of dollars to err again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Serena and Kanye

What a weekend for civility!

At first blush, the actions of Kanye West and Serena Williams appear to be pretty similar: two immature performers acting horribly on an international stage.

But if you drill down a bit, look at the context of what each of them did and consider how they handled the public scorn that resulted from their actions, and there starts to be a glaring difference.

Kanye West swerved completely off the pavement to insert himself into perhaps the biggest moment of Taylor Swift's singing career. It was the kind of thing that is so completely off base that almost no one could muster any sympathy at all for what he could have been thinking and what motivated him to do what he did.

Contrast that to Serena Williams. A very tight match, in the semi-finals of a major tournament. She is serving to tie the critical second set. The line judge calls a foot fault!

Now, I am not a tennis expert. Looking at the replay, it wasn't a foot fault. Her foot was very close to the line, just as it always is. It is hard to imagine what the judge was thinking.

The analogy would be: seventh game of the World Series, Red Sox ahead by a run, and Dodgers have two out and a man on third. Umpire calls a highly technical balk, sending the run home.

Or last few seconds of the seventh game of the NBA finals, Bulls down by 2, Michael Jordan drives the key for a shot - Whistle! Palming the ball! Game over!

It is just a call you don't make. Unless it is egregious. Whether you think Serena's toe touched the line or not, it wasn't a flagrant foot foul. The stupid line judge should have swallowed the whistle, and not inserted herself in the moment when it was completely unnecessary.

So I can absolutely sympathize with Serena's anger. Was her language and reaction wrong? Sure. But TOTALLY understandable.

Now, consider the aftermath. Serena Williams, after the officials basically made her forfeit the match, went to her opponent and shook her hand and congratulated her. Then in the press conference afterward, she repeatedly apologized, congratulated her opponent for a great match, and apologized again. She was dignified and forthright. She made no excuses, and didn't even discuss the stupid call (at least in the part I saw.) She didn't whine about it.

Contrast that to Kanye West. He was on the very first Jay Leno NBC broadcast last night. He sat down all contrite, said he was dealing with lots of hurt in his life and now he would have to deal with the fact he hurt another artist in her big moment. Leno asked him what his Mom would say to him (I guess she is dead) and he tried to choke himself up, but it looked phony. He said something incomprehensible about how he would have to improve as a person.

Everythiing he said was 100% focused on Kanye West. How what he did affected HIM. How HE would have to deal with the fallout. He never so much as apologized to Taylor Swift. Not once.

What a complete jerk. As if we needed any more confirmation.

So, my take is:

- Kanye is a self-obsessed idiot jerk.
- Serena is a classy lady who reacted badly in the heat of a very unfair moment.
- That stupid little bureaucrat line judge should never see another tennis match.