On the Blog

Obama Golfs While Americans Job-Seek

Somewhat Reasonable - March 13, 2014, 11:00 AM

A close relative of mine has been spending months job-seeking and the news from the White House in the first week of March was that the President was playing golf in Key Largo while Joe Biden was in the Virgin Islands soaking up the sun. It’s not that they don’t deserve some down time, but down time for the unemployed is full time. The U.S. has 866,000 fewer people employed today than when the recession began in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Since Obama became President in 2009, there has been a 3.5 million increase in jobs, but 12 million new working age people. This is supposed to be a “recovery” according to the White House but the job numbers are not keeping pace with the job-seekers.

It’s not widely reported, but the labor force participation rate of 63% remains stuck at or near its lowest point since the late 1970s. There are two million fewer Americans in the labor force today than a year ago. The number of long-term unemployed, six months or more, rose by 203,000.

While Obama keeps bloviating about income inequality, too many Americans have no income at all.

At the same time, thanks to Obama, the U.S. debt, according to the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Public Debt, has increased $6.666 trillion since he took office on January 20, 2009. As of January 31, 2014, the total debt stood at $17,293,019,654,983.61. While he has been President, the U.S. has accumulated as much new debt as it did in the first 227 years.

This is a President who has been pushing to raise the minimum wage, but according to the Congressional Budget Office, raising it to $10.10 an hour would cost the U.S. economy a half-million new jobs by 2016.

In an article by Michael D. Tanner that was published by the New York Post in August of last year, he noted that “The federal government funds 126 separate programs targeted towards low-income people, 72 of which provide either cash or in-kind benefits to individuals.” In addition, state and local governments have welfare programs as well. Who funds these programs? Those with jobs. Welfare benefits are not taxed.

“There is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy,” wrote Tanner. “Indeed, surveys of them consistently show their desire for a job. But they are not stupid. If you pay them more not to work than they can earn by working, many choose not to work.”

Former Presidents have encountered recessions when they entered office and those such as Kennedy and Reagan put an end to them. When taxes are lowered it puts more money into the economy and that stimulates it. There is no such talk from Obama and, indeed, his 2014 budget adds billions more that he wants to add to government revenue and spending.

A March 10th Rasmussen survey found that the President’s proposed new $3.9 trillion federal budget that includes $55 billion in new spending for fiscal 2015, is regarded by one-out-of-two voters (50%) who think the Obama administration has already raised spending too much.

Spending is controlled by the House of Representatives, but legislation to address the present economy has been consistently blocked in the Democrat controlled Senate. It’s the same one that enacted the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, which is playing havoc with the nation’s health system and impacting its economy by forcing businesses to either cut the number of people employed or reducing full-time workers to part-time status.

Other actions of the Obama administration are contributing to the unemployment roles as its “war on coal” has shut down more than 150 coal-fired plants that generate electricity and its loans to “green” industries have cost billions as many have declared bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, is telling everyone that “climate change” is the greatest threat to the planet and urging U.S. ambassadors to make it a priority. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is engaged in an orgy of regulation based on zero proof that carbon dioxide warms the Earth.

Obama and his administration is so detached from reality that it is afflicting millions of Americans who want to work while at the same time its policies are reducing the number of new jobs being created.

If this is a deliberate policy—as I believe it is—the only conclusion is that the President is intentionally inflicting a huge debt and impediments to our economy that are reducing the greatest nation on Earth to a third world nation status. He opposed the view of American exceptionalism and is doing everything he can to kill it.

[Originally posted at Warning Signs]
Categories: On the Blog

U.S. Wireless Competition Criticism “Believe It or Not”

Somewhat Reasonable - March 13, 2014, 10:46 AM

With due credit to “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!®,” so much odd and bizarre is happening in Washington in the “name” of “U.S. wireless competition criticism” that the topic calls for its own collection of: “Believe it or Not!®” oddities.

Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son, who bought Sprint for $21b in 2013 with public plans “to become the #1 company in the world,” tells U.S. regulators just eight months after he bought Sprint, that Softbank-Sprint cannot compete with either of America’s #1 and #2 wireless providers, Verizon and AT&T, unless Softbank can buy America’s #4 wireless provider — T-Mobile!

T-Mobile and Sprint, which each voluntarily chose not to bid in the last auction for spectrum available under 1GHz, now complain to the DOJ and FCC that it is unfair that they do not have more spectrum under 1 GHz to compete!

When wireless users use 50% more data than they did last year because they spend more time accessing the Internet for more things anywhere they go, are streaming more video than ever, and getting more value from their wireless services than ever before, pressure groups complain that users overall wireless bills are going up!

Sprint is urging regulators to allow Sprint to buy T-Mobile because T-Mobile can’t compete with Verizon or AT&T when T-Mobile’s maverick “uncarrier strategy” has been successful in enabling T-Mobile to add 4.4 million customers in 2013 and in building a 4G LTE network covering 200m Americans faster than Sprint!

The U.S. wireless industry, with more national facilities-based providers than any nation in the world (4), with four times more wireless investment per subscriber than anywhere else in the world, and with more cutting-edge 4G LTE wireless broadband service available than anywhere else in the world, still has critics trying to claim that the U.S. wireless market is not competitive!

Sprint’s Chairman argues Sprint and T-Mobile are not big enough individually to compete in the U.S. market when Sprint’s customer base is equivalent to the populations of California and New York combined, and T-Mobile’s customer base is the equivalent to the populations of Texas and Florida combined!

The FCC, in its last annual wireless competition report to Congress did not declare that effective wireless competition exists, when the FCC’s own analysis shows the U.S. market is the most competitive it has ever been and more competitive than most any other nation!

The FCC is considering tightening the spectrum screen limits for Verizon and AT&T for the upcoming 600 MHz incentive auction at Sprint’s urging when Sprint commands 57% more spectrum than AT&T and 95% more spectrum than Verizon and when the FCC’s current spectrum screen does not even include 59% of Sprint’s industry-leading spectrum hoard!

The DOJ Antitrust Division claims  both Verizon and AT&T are “the dominant firms” in wireless, when DOJ guidelines define “dominant” as only one player with 50+% share and when two thirds of U.S. wireless consumers do not use Verizon, and when two thirds of U.S. wireless consumers do not use AT&T!

Despite the Government centrally managing Federal lands since 1849, personnel since 1883, buildings since 1949, telecom services since 1960 and budget resources since 1970, the Federal Government has no central management or accountability system for radio spectrum in 2014!

Radio spectrum, a trillion dollar federal asset essential to the mobile revolution of smart phones and tablets still has no inventory, budget, valuation, utilization audits, or accountability, and no group in Congress calling for modern sound fiscal management of this critical natural resource!

Despite the U.S military being considered the most technologically advanced military in the world, the DOD did not have a framework to begin the process of rationalizing and optimizing their radio spectrum resources for the 21st century for the first time — until five months ago!

Strange but true.

“Believe it or Not!®”


[Originally posted at Precursor Blog]
Categories: On the Blog

Anytime is a Good Time to Remove Ridiculous Regulations

Somewhat Reasonable - March 13, 2014, 9:00 AM

Wednesday brings us a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA).

You hear STELA, you think Marlon Brando.  But this mandatory renewal – the old law expires December 31 – is crucial to keeping satellite television subscribers connected to the shows they like.

And is a skirmish in a broader Crony Socialism war.  STELA in part addresses what is called Retransmission Consent.

“Retransmission consent is a provision of the 1992 United States Cable Television Protection and Competition Act. 

“(It) requires cable operators and other…distributors (like satellite) to obtain permission from broadcasters before carrying their programming.

“In exchange, a broadcaster may propose that the operator pay cash to carry the station or ask for any other form of consideration.”

As written, Retransmission Consent is hopelessly tilted in favor of the Broadcasters.

This go round, STELA’s renewal includes a provision to remove but one of these many advantages – the mandate that Providers cannot during Sweeps Weeks pull shows as a last-ditch part of Retransmission negotiations.

Don’t know when Sweeps Weeks are?  Neither do I.  Meanwhile, look what the Broadcasters can do:

“The feud between Cablevision and the News Corporation has already resulted in an extraordinarily long blackout of programming. Now it threatens to shut Cablevision customers out of the World Series.”

Get that?  Providers can’t block Sweeps Weeks – whenever they are – but Broadcasters can block things like the World Series and the Super Bowl.  They can – and they do.

At whom do customers get angry when they can’t watch what they want?  Hint: it ain’t the Broadcasters.  The Broadcasters know this – and they use it in negotiations to fleece the Providers.

And when the Broadcasters fleece the Providers – they fleece us.  The more the Providers pay for shows – the more we pay for shows.

So a little more balance would be helpful for everyone – except the Broadcasters, who want to keep every Crony Socialist break they have:

“House Republicans are working on a rewrite of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act that would not be as “clean” as broadcasters would like.”

You mean “clean” – like this?

Senate Democrats Warn Republicans Against Debt-Ceiling Wish List

House Approves ‘Clean’ Debt Ceiling Extension

Senate Passes ‘Clean’ Debt Ceiling Bill

Policy to emulate, to be sure.  But how “clean” is this?

“After fierce lobbying by broadcasters, lawmakers abandoned the most controversial provision, which would have allowed cable providers to drop broadcast channels from their “basic tier” of programming.

“Allowing cable providers to move broadcast channels into pricier tiers would give them more leverage in programming fights.”

Only in Washington, D.C. is it “controversial” to not have the government mandate which channels go where.  Only in DC are all these one-sided government mandates considered capitalism – as the Broadcasters claim.

The Broadcasters are actually the beneficiaries of decades of government good grace – well beyond the uber-tilted Retransmission laws.

They received free from government charge their spectrum – the airwaves they use to broadcast.  Surely something the cellular phone companies have eyed as they’ve paid the government tens of billions of dollars for their spectrum.

And now we have the looming spectrum incentive auction.  Where Broadcasters get to sell their spectrum – that they, again, received for free – to the cell phone companies (via the government middle man).

I’m sure a company like Verizon -  a cell phone company who with Fios is also a television Provider – is thrilled to pay Broadcasters for the spectrum the latter received for free, while also having the government tilt the Retransmission rules against them, in the Broadcasters’ favor.

The Broadcasters have a pretty sweet omni-directional Crony Socialist deal going.  Little wonder they are fighting so hard against even the tiniest of changes to it.

[Originally posted at Redstate.com]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Yaron Brook on the Principles of Liberty – Part 1

Somewhat Reasonable - March 12, 2014, 1:30 PM

This weekly podcast features the first half of a conversation between Jim Lakely, Heartland’s communications director, and Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute. In this half of the interview, Jim and Dr. Brook discuss the need to inspire young people to take up the cause of freedom and the issue of income inequality.

Dr. Brook explains the desperate need of conservative leaders and the political Right to “present and ideal” that will encourage developing thinkers to question the statist message they are fed daily in schools. he explains that the Right has not been doing that enough, that ”it has nothing to offer” children and young adults at present. Yet, as young people have not yet ossified in their political and moral beliefs, they are the people who champions of liberty must strive to persuade. Dr. Brook persuasively outlines the problems of government spending, particularly on Medicare, which robs young people of their livelihood and condemns them to an ever growing burden of debt.

The conversation then turns to the subject of equality. Dr. Brook argues that there is, “no such thing as equality of anything”, nor should there be. Equality can only really be achieved by hobbling the strong and the talented. Jim and Dr. Brook then discuss the issues surrounding the moral authority of the Left’s claims about income inequality, and Dr. Brook argues that because the political Right fails to challenge the statist moral language, the Left wins the moral case by default in the public sphere.

The conversation is a stimulating one, ranging across many of the issues facing the youth of America today. Nothing can be more important than ensuring the development of a new generation of fighters for liberty.

Listen to the podcast in the player above.

Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast free at this link.

Categories: On the Blog

May: FCC, Broadband and Fallacy of Government ‘Competition’

Somewhat Reasonable - March 12, 2014, 12:13 PM

The Federal  Communications Commission has been much in the news recently — and  deservedly so — owing to its ill-conceived “Critical Information Needs” study.  Thankfully, after a public outcry, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently canceled this  study.

Before it was jettisoned, this project would have had the FCC assessing ways in which broadcasters and newspapers make decisions about what  issues of public importance to cover and to what extent.

By design, the study necessarily would have allowed the agency to intrude  into matters of journalistic endeavor at the core of the media’s exercise of  editorial judgment. This, of course, is offensive to the First Amendment.

Let’s hope the now-canceled study, which calls to mind the Fairness Doctrine  abandoned a quarter-century ago, is not revived.

Still, the fact that the study was conceived at all indicates that the  agency’s current leadership, in important respects, is still under the influence  of an outdated pro-regulatory mindset that is no longer appropriate in today’s  age of media abundance and competitive alternatives.

Take this current example: In mid-January, a federal appeals court in  Washington tossed out, as beyond the agency’s statutory authority, the FCC’s  “Net neutrality” mandates regulating the practices of broadband Internet-service  providers such as Verizon or the  cable operators.

In the wake of this setback, on Feb. 19, Mr.  Wheeler issued a statement outlining his proposals for what the agency  should do next.

A couple of the proposals may be reasonable, such as enforcing a transparency  rule that requires broadband providers to disclose practices that affect  subscribers’ service. Others are quite problematic, including an ill-conceived  idea nurtured by an activist regulatory mindset.

Under the heading “Enhance Competition,” Mr.  Wheeler says he wants the FCC to focus on “legal restrictions for the ability of cities and towns to offer  broadband services to consumers in their communities.” What he means by this is he wants the commission to consider pre-empting bans that have been adopted by about 20 states that  prohibit cities within those states from constructing and operating  communications networks.

This is a bad idea. To suggest that getting governments into the  communications business is somehow enhancing “competition” reminds me of one of  my favorite quotes from Abraham  Lincoln. In April 1864, in his “Address at a Sanitary Fair,” Lincoln said: “We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word, we do not all  mean the same thing.”

If Mr. Wheeler thinks the way to enhance  “competition” is to encourage government-run communications networks, then his  use of the word is quite different from mine. While there are significant legal problems with Mr.  Wheeler’s proposal, it is more important to explain why encouraging  proliferation of Solyndra-like  government-run communications networks is not a proper way to “enhance  competition.” Indeed, this approach thwarts competition.

Government systems pose inherent conflicts of interest with private-sector  companies attempting to compete by investing tens of millions of dollars in  building out new broadband networks.

Government networks generally are subsidized directly by the taxpayers or are  backed by government bonds carrying below-market interest  rates. They are  granted special privileges, such as favored rights-of-way treatment, which are  unavailable to their private-sector competitors.

Of course, they are excused from running the bureaucratic gantlet of  permitting and licensing processes through which private firms must pass. There have been many examples across the country of high-profile local  government communications networks going belly up or losing money, with  taxpayers and government bondholders often left holding the bag.

These troubled systems can be found in places that range from Burlington,  Vt., to Provo, Utah, with many in between. Of course, these financial flops  inevitably affect the government’s ability to deliver  other services, from providing police and fire protection to repairing potholes,  which actually are within its traditional bailiwick and presumed competence.

It’s no wonder, then, that so many states have adopted bans to prohibit their localities — which, after all, are solely creatures of the state — from competing with private-sector companies providing  broadband services in the same locales.

The wonder is that the FCC chairman would suggest  that the way to enhance “competition” in the  broadband marketplace is for the agency affirmatively to act to encourage  governments to compete with private-sector companies.

The proper way to encourage competition is to remove existing, costly  regulations that no longer are necessary in today’s competitive communications  environment and to refrain from adopting or threatening to adopt new ones.

Mr. Wheeler’s decision to keep “on the  table” the threat of imposing the panoply of traditional public utility-style  regulation on private-sector broadband providers is improper.

To paraphrase Lincoln, while Mr.  Wheeler and I may both declare we are for enhancing “competition,” in using  the same word, we do not mean the same thing.


[Originally published at The Washington Times]
Categories: On the Blog

Tech Champions! Constitution Warriors?

Somewhat Reasonable - March 12, 2014, 10:46 AM

Tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee will hold the hearing “Exploring Alternative Solutions on the Internet Sales Tax Issue.” Taking some time to explore the Constitutional challenges of current proposals which mandate the collection of taxes by businesses across state lines and an examining the potential for the radical expansion of government would be a good place to focus.

Reportedly, Congressman Chaffetz is taking a harder look at the current Marketplace Fairness Act and working on language for new online sales tax legislation.  Politico has reported that his “new measure would give more authority to states to decide how they implement sales tax collection from out-of-state online retailers…”

What would drive the Congressman to be this deeply involved in this issue?  No doubt it is a laudable desire to make sure that government is not in growth mode by ignoring rights reserved to the states.  “I believe it’s a states’ rights issue. I want to give them flexibility,” he said. “We haven’t hammered out actually what it would be, but there is a concern about small sellers and will they have to go through 34 different audits. There’s got to be a way to craft it so it is more reasonable and workable.”  Unfortunately for the Congressman, there is no reasonable and workable scheme along these lines, particularly for a true conservative or constitutionalist, because neither the U.S. Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights, gave the states the right to trample their neighbors.

The heart of the problem is seeing the federal government act, the states being involved and reflexively concluding a state’s rights issue is in play when in fact it is not.  In this case, the law that prevents states from taxing and auditing citizens of other states was an intentional limitation placed on the power of the states, a check on expansionist government.

There is little argument that the federal government has often been doing things that should never have been crammed into the Commerce Clause.  But by no means is the Commerce Clause completely invalid.  In fact, the very action of looting across state lines, taxing without representation, led to the need for something better than the Articles of Confederation.  As a result, the U.S. Constitution was written to include the Commerce Clause exactly as a means to stop the overly aggressive states from interfering with interstate commerce, but did imbue states with the power to protect their citizens from other governments.

Since then, states have never had the power to tax out-of-state residents. The states have been specifically denied that power for good reason.  What would happen if states had the power to tax out of jurisdiction residents as is being proposed?

The proposed legislation does more than just increase collected taxes on consumers, and even more than placing a significant compliance burden on online business, by its very nature it greatly expands government.  It would mean the end of physical presence (the physical presence test is the test to determine the treatment of a person for taxation purposes and may rely on having a place of business in the jurisdiction) as a limitation on the ability to levy tax on a person, organization or corporation.  In other words, such action leads to the end of any limitation on government power.

The issue of physical presence is perhaps the most important issue of the Internet age–does the power of government now spread beyond the physical borders of a government entity, such as a tax authority, or is the power of government now as limitless as the Internet so that any government anywhere can bring any person under its reach at any time?  The question is fundamental.  Under this scheme there is simply no remuneration against an overzealous taxing authority, or an overzealous authority pursuing any issue.  Those who believe that government is a creation of the people, and hence should be limited must say yes to the requirement of a physical presence.

All other questions and “fixes” are irrelevant so long as this bedrock of the Constitution and fundamental tenant of conservatism is at risk.  Thresholds for audits, software costs and ease of compliance, third party liability for reliance on software, burdens on small sellers and Main Street businesses, and a statute of limitations on state audits of remote sellers are all irrelevant if  constitutional protections are forfeit.  Once government is allowed to grow past the limitations of physical presence it will never again be limited.

Arguments over appropriate tax rates, and whether taxes are applied in the first place, are legitimate and worthwhile.  A debate about whether constitutional limitations on the breadth of government, about whether an individual should be subject to governmental authority by those with whom they have no representation must always result in a firm “never!”

Are we going to have limited government in the 21st Century?  What does the concept of limited government mean in an age where government is easy via the Internet and technology?

To their credit, Mr. Chaffetz and certainly Mr. Goodlatte have proven time and again that they are champions of the technology industry.  Now they face a daunting challenge working within the Constitution and not creating a painfully effective vehicle for the radical growth of government power.

[Originally posted at Madery Bridge]
Categories: On the Blog

U.S. National Academy of Sciences Promoting Global Warming Scare

Somewhat Reasonable - March 12, 2014, 9:32 AM

On February 12, the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a news release inviting the public to a joint meeting with the UK Royal Society that follows:

Join NAS and The Royal Society for the Launch of a Joint Publication on Climate Change Science. On Thursday, February 27th, the US National Academy of Sciences and The UK’s Royal Society cordially invite the public to the release of Climate Change: Evidence & Causes, a new publication produced jointly by the two institutions. Host Miles O’Brien from the PBS Newshour will guide a discussion about the publication with authors Dr. Eric Wolff of the University of Cambridge (UK lead), Dr. Inez Fung of the University of California, Berkeley (US lead), Sir Brian Hoskins* of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, and Dr. Benjamin Santer* of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences, and Professor Sir Paul Nurse,* President of the Royal Society, will kick off the event.

The publication, which is written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, is intended as a brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on some of the questions that continue to be asked. The publication makes clear what is well-established and where understanding is still developing. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national academies, as well as on the newest climate-change assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The event will be held on February 27 from 10:00-11:30 EST at the National Academy of Sciences building at 2100 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC or via webcast. For more information, and to register to attend, go to our website.

The publication and webcast will be available at http://americasclimatechoices.org and at http://royalsociety.org.

 *by videoconference

 As Captain Renault said in the classic 1942 movie Casablanca “Round up the usual suspects”, the usual crew of advocates for promoting abandoning fossil fuel use due to global warming fears are cited as authors of the report “Climate Change:  Evidence & Causes”.

Following this announcement is reference to a video by NAS on “The Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change“.

The video features Prof. Jim White, of the University of Colorado (Boulder), as the speaker.  Prof. White states as fact a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (UNIPCC )chart of a 3 foot rise in sea level predicted by 2100.  This is followed by statements of possible greater than 3 foot sea level rise by the end of the century.  A 3 foot rise in sea level in 30 years is given as an example of abrupt climate change.  Prof. White points out a sea level rise of 6 inches may have caused subway flooding in New York City by the October 2012 Hurricane Sandy.

Perhaps Prof. White was influenced by the May 15, 1932 New York Times article that predicted a huge rise in sea level during the 1910-1940 increase in global temperatures:

“The earth is steadily growing warmer. As all the ice at the two poles melts a stupendous volume of water will be released. Professor David conservatively estimates that the sea level will rise fifty feet. Professor Meinardus doubles that estimate. Dr. Humphreys, with the studies of Byrd and Wegener before him, believes that the rise will be 151 feet. Such floods are nothing new, as we see by the marine fossils found on the tops of the Rockies, Andes and other mountain ranges.”

Hurricane Sandy took place on a day of a full moon.  The height of the storm surge was reported to have been increased by six inches due to the moon’s additional gravitational pull.  Are events happening on days of a full moon considered by NAS as abrupt climate change impacts?  Experimental data shows a sea level rise of seven inches the past century with a reduced rate the past decade.  Is this another example of NAS abrupt climate change impact?

All UNIPCC statements about climate change are based on computer models that predict increased global temperatures as time progresses.  None of these computer models have shown the pause in global warming that has taken place the past 15 years(1998-to present) with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increasing 8 percent.  In addition, computer models can not explain global warming from 1910-1940 when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were not increasing and the slight decline in global temperatures from 1945 to 1975 followed by increasing global temperatures from 1975-1998 at the same rate as the 1910-1940 increases when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased about 16 percent.  Another problem with computer models is they predict a hot spot in the upper atmosphere from latitudes 30 degrees South to 30 degrees North that have shown to be non-existent by decades of radiosonde and satellite temperature measurements.  Slavish loyalty to the veracity of computer models shows a lack of common sense.

A thorough coverage of global temperatures, failures of climate models, and errors in IPCC Reports is contained in the recent document Climate Change Reconsidered II:  Physical Sciences  published by the Nongovernmental International Panel On Climate Change October 17, 2013.  This more than 1000-page report with over 4000 references is available on-line.  Another excellent source of information is the Internet report by Popular Technology  that lists 1350 + peer-reviewed papers challenging catastrophic global warming by categories such as Arctic, sea level rise, temperatures, etc.

The fallacy of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences joining the movement to stop fossil fuel use from global warming fears is outlined by Prof. Garth Paltridge in his essay “Climate Change’s Inherent Uncertainties“  in the February 1, 2014 Quadrant magazine.  Prof.  Paltridge wrote the following:

“The trap was fully sprung when many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the Royal Society in the UK, the National Academy of Sciences in the USA and the Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. The reports were touted as national assessments that were supposedly independent of the IPCC and of each other, but of necessity were compiled with the assistance of, and in some cases at the behest of, many of the scientists involved in the IPCC international machinations. In effect, the academies, which are the most prestigious of the institutions of science, formally nailed their colours to the mast of the politically correct. Since that time three or four years ago, there has been no comfortable way for the scientific community to raise the spectre of serious uncertainty about the forecasts of climatic disaster. It can no longer use the environmental movement as a scapegoat if it should turn out that the threat of global warming has no real substance. It can no longer escape prime responsibility if it should turn out in the end that doing something in the name of mitigation of global warming is the costliest scientific mistake ever visited on humanity. The current redirection of global funds in the name of climate change is of the order of a billion dollars a day. And in the future, to quote US Senator Everett Dirksen, “a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon we’ll be talking about real money”.

The NAS shows the lack of judgment written by Prof. Paltridge.  It should have been an organization that promotes careful examination of all factors involving climate change and not taking sides on areas of controversy.  Global temperature history and lack of climate model validation demonstrates lack of objectivity.

Possibly in the future this video by NAS on climate change impacts will be laughed at in the way we treat Charley Chaplin movies today.  Professor White may need to grow a small, black mustache.
Categories: On the Blog

Battling Fraud the Voter I.D. Way

Somewhat Reasonable - March 11, 2014, 3:34 PM

Hypocrisy is a vile trait, and particularly frustrating when we see it in those whom we need to trust the most, such as elected officials. Their campaign promises as candidates, are too often forgotten once elected. That same hypocrisy is witnessed and has become rampant among those who rail the loudest against requiring Voter ID when casting our ballots.  Those who oppose requiring proof of identify claim that the requirement is discriminatory, even though the requirement applies to all.

Consider the hypocrisy of those who organized a march and rally sponsored by the NAACP on February 12.   The participants were given a list of “do’s and don’ts. The list specified:  “Do wear a hat and very comfortable shoes and “DO bring photo identification (driver’s license, passport or other valid photo ID) with you and keep it on your person at all times.”  Apparently the irony of demonstrating against a voter I.D. law, while requesting an I.D. to demonstrate, was totally lost on the organizers and demonstrators.  All participants apparently have an ID which makes one wonder why they would oppose a law intended to assure them their legal vote is not cancelled by an illegal one.

Attorney General Eric Holder is a staunch opponent of laws requiring voters to show photo ID, yet he cannot sufficiently explain why that is more difficult than showing a photo ID when cashing a check, traveling by plane or even train, renting a video, etc. Holder has called Voter ID unnecessary having blocked its implementation in Texas and South Carolina claiming discrimination against minorities, without offering proof of those claims and despite an understanding by the average voter that an I.D. prevents people from impersonating another.

A favorite claim by the Left is that voter I.D. is unnecessary, because there is not a problem with fraudulent voting.  However, there is growing evidence that the tired claim is wrong.  The Voter Integrity Project, a local citizens’ group concerned with election integrity released a report showing there were 475 cases of election fraud that were believed to merit a referral to prosecutors.

Consider that federal law requires all states to clean up their voter rolls.  Yet, in 2009, the Obama Justice Department dismissed, with no explanation, a lawsuit filed by the Bush administration asking Missouri for such a clean-up.  Why has the Obama Administration not enforced this requirement?

A Pew Research Center study in 2012 found that at least 1.8 million dead people were still registered to vote, laying fertile ground for voter fraud.  In spite of evidence that indicates the need for Voter ID, specific groups continue to compare that need to “Jim Crow” provisions that blocked people from voting in the last century.

In April of 2012 intimidation resulted when Democrats threatened a boycott against Coca-Cola for financially supporting the then-pro-voter-ID organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that had helped state legislators draft some of the voter-ID laws. [Ed: ALEC no longer supports voter ID laws.]

Voter ID Laws are simple and easy laws to follow in those states which require a voter to show government issued photo identifications at the polling places.  All states are required to meet the minimum requirement set by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 which requires photo ID for those who register by mail and did not provide identification.

As of 10/17/2013, a total of thirty-four states have passed voter ID laws; however, not all the laws are in force either because the implementation date is in the future or because of court challenges.  The 34 voter ID state laws do vary as to specific requirements, such as whether or not the ID must include a photo. Some states  — Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas (not yet in effect in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) — a voter cannot cast a valid ballot without first presenting a photo ID.

Here in Illinois the requirement to present a government-issued photo identification card to an election judge upon voting only applies to early voters. During the 98th General Assembly 20 Republican state senators supported SB2496 which required a person seeking to vote on the day of the election to present a government-issued photos identification to the election judge.  Filed by Senator Kyle McCarter 10/12/2011, the bill stalled and was declared “Sine Die” legislation (without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing) on 1/8/2013

In the Illinois House a similar bill HB3903 was filled by the Clerk by Rep. Dwight Kay during the 97th General Assembly on 12/7/2011, where it likewise became Sine Die legislation on 1/8/2013

Wisconsin’s latest approach that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, passed the Wisconsin state Assembly on November 14, 2013.  Wisconsin’s prior 2011 law finally received a Court hearing last November under Act 23.  Hearings had been denied twice before by the opposition who labeled the 2011 law a voter suppression law and a troubling blend of race and politics.  It matters not that Wisconsin does provide a free I.D. to all who ask.   A federal judge is expected to decide the issue (Act 23) early this year.

Had the Illinois House and Senate action, by some miracle, resulted in passing a photo ID law similar to Wisconsin’s back in 2011, it most likely would have faced a court challenge.  Hopefully, the majority of Illinois citizens will begin to wonder why such a simple thing as showing I.D. to vote is being met with an unreasonably aggressive resistance from the left.

Carol Davis, Founder and Coordinator, West Suburban Patriots, recently wrote the following in an email communication:

“We (several tea party groups) launched a coordinated Election Integrity effort here in Illinois about 2-3 years ago, working with *”True the Vote” out of Texas, we managed to rally volunteers throughout the state, but we lacked a strong leader who had the required time to commit and keep the momentum going.  I was working with Claire VanHorne of DuPage Tea Party.  Jane Carrell in the Rockford area was also involved in the effort.”

*True the Vote seems to be the only national organization committed to this effort that is really having an impact.  They have been at the lead in getting Voter ID laws in several states.  They partner with Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, J. Christian Adams of The Election Law Center, and Hans A. von Spakovsky (Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow) of the Heritage Foundation. Catherine Engelbrecht is the founder and Chairwoman of True the Vote.  She recently testified before congress that shortly after filing IRS forms for a 501(c)(3) and 501 (c)(4) tax exempt organization, she became the target of serious IRS abuses for next three years.

Does the lack of success in Illinois several years ago by Carol Davis and other Tea Party leaders mean that the efforts to establish Voter ID here in Illinois be abandoned?  Although Carol and her friends realized how wonderful it would be to have voter ID enacted, they likewise realized that given Illinois’ current legislators Voter ID might be a pipe dream, but one that shouldn’t be dismissed.

Recommended by Carol Davis:

“We [Illinoisans] must be realistic and diligently keep working to de-throne Michael Madigan and send him packing with all his less than honorable flunkies.  Meanwhile, cleaning dead people and non-citizens from our voter rolls, and having well-trained honest election judges and poll watchers in every polling place for every election, seem to be the best areas to concentrate our energies and resources.” 

Needed is a strong leader and the dedication of thousands of concerned citizens and Tea Party members throughout Illinois.   We need a patriot who is so disgusted with the extent of voter fraud that he or she will form a committee and work with the Registrar of Voters, and take the necessary time to clean up voting lists and develop a group of poll watchers.  Presently dead people vote, as do illegal aliens. There are easy ways to discover who needs to be taken off the list of eligible voters, and True the Vote can provide that information.   Chicago has been caught with boxes of ballots “found” after close elections, and thus votes were not counted the first time around.  That is far less likely to happen if we have dedicated  poll watchers at every voting station.

Dennis Byrne, a Chicago writer who blogs in The Barbershop on Chicagonow.com, describes the Plain truth about voter fraud in Chicago in an opinion op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on June 12, 2012.  Byrne’s final paragraph:

“When it comes down to it, a degrading assumption u9nderlies liberal opposition to voter IDs and the updating of registration rolls.  It i the assumption that minorities, the poor and even students are incapable of meeting minimal voting requirements.” 

California, not unlike Illinois, is dominated by liberals. California residents also suspect voter fraud has changed voting results.  The Democrat majority if their state congress is not apt to initiate a voter I.D. law. Therefore, the citizens of California are now in the process of circulating petitions for signatures to qualify a proposition for their 2014 ballot.  It would behoove Illinois to follow suit. All that is needed is for one amazing person to get it started.

Most of us understand voter fraud is occurring in our state.  However, until we a prove it, which in itself requires diligence, patience, and often funding, we must do all we can to prevent fraud from changing election results.  While a voter I.D. system makes the most sense, until we are able to enact that law, patriots throughout the state can help make a positive difference by volunteering to work and watch for any irregularities at the polls. Call your local Registrar of Voters office for information on how to get involved.

Categories: On the Blog

It’s the Sun, Stupid

Somewhat Reasonable - March 11, 2014, 3:19 PM

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”—Groucho Marx.

Who are you going to believe, those claiming global warming or the temperature records you can see with your own eyes?

Marx’s line (actually spoken by Chico dressed up as Groucho) was intended to be humorous because it is so preposterous.  The second line—no less preposterous—is, in essence, put forth by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other human-caused global warming alarmists as serious, because it is intended to make people believe it is not preposterous but scientific.  It would be humorous if the consequences were not so costly.  The misdirection of public policy engendered by fears of overheating the planet is not only financially wasteful but detrimental to the environment and to human rights and freedom.

The scare that humans a​re creating catastrophic warming of the planet is based on computer models purportedly representing the real world.  That’s how it was possible to sell the idea to the public.  The models, however, were never able to be verified by historical observational data, and their key element—that carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming—has been shown to be baseless by thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers in professional journals. The latest Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report references almost 5,000 of these. They were ignored by the IPCC and most of the news media and politicians who fanned the hysteria over global warming.

“The sun is the ultimate source of all the energy on Earth; its rays heat the planet and drive the churning motions of its atmosphere,” explains retired meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo.  Everyone knows the sun’s heating of the earth and atmosphere is uneven.  We have all witnessed changes in the sun’s heat we receive throughout the day, that it is warmest in midday when the sun is directly overhead; and as the sun moves across the sky, new volumes of air are exposed to its heating while others are left behind.  This uneven heating is the basis for wind currents.  A similar process takes place in the oceans, creating ocean currents.  According to NASA, “uneven heating from the sun drives the air and ocean currents that produce the Earth’s climate”

The Hadley circulation is an atmospheric movement of air between the equator and the poles.

This flow of air occurs because the sun heats air at the Earth’s surface near the equator. The warm air rises, creating a band of low pressure at the equator.  Once the rising air reaches the top of the troposphere at approximately 10-15 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, the air flows toward the north and south poles. The Hadley cell eventually returns air to the surface of the Earth in the subtropics.

The large planets Jupiter and Saturn exert a gravitational pull on the earth that makes the earth’s orbit around the sun elliptical. These planets align to pull the earth away from the sun to the maximum distance of its orbit every 100,000 years. The earth’s 3 degree change in its inclination to its rotational axis has a 41,000 year cycle. And the precession of its rotation, which exposes one pole or the other to more sunlight, has a 22,000 year cycle. There is also a climate cycle of 135 million years that corresponds to earth passing through the arms of the Milky Way. The Milky Way galaxy, which is 100,000 light years across and 10,000 light years thick, has six arms spiraling out from its center like a pinwheel.

While orbital changes produce long-term climate cycles by varying the distance of the earth from the sun, shorter cycles are determined by changes in the surface of the sun itself. The sun’s radiation is not uniform but varied by disturbances on the surface of the sun, called “sunspots.” Magnetic fields rip through the sun’s surface, producing holes in the sun’s corona, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and changes in the solar wind, the stream of charged particles emanating from the sun. The solar wind, by modulating the galactic cosmic rays which reach the earth, determines both the formation of clouds and the carbon dioxide level in the earth’s atmosphere—which has nothing to do with emissions from factories or automobiles!  That’s why adding 461 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere did nothing to increase the global temperature.  As Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, put it, “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as a doubling of carbon dioxide.”

Sunspots have been observed for millennia, first in China and with a telescope for the first time by Galileo in 1610.  We now have a 400-year record of sunspot cycle observations, from which we can see a cycle length of 11 years.  Combining this fact with the discovery of a strong correlation between solar activity and  radioactive carbon 14 in tree rings, it has been possible to backdate sunspot cycles for a thousand years, back to the Oort Minimum in 1010.

After about 210 years, sunspot cycles “crash” or almost entirely die out, and the earth can cool dramatically.  These unusually cold periods last several decades.  Of greatest concern to us is the Maunder Minimum, which ran from 1645 to 1715.  Figure 1  shows the paucity of sunspots during this time.  Some years had no sunspots at all.  The astronomer Sporer reported only 50 sunspots during a 30-year period, compared to 40,000, to 50,000 typical for that length of time.


Since the Maunder Minimum, a less extreme but still significantly below-average period of cooler temperatures occurred during the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830), also shown on the graph.

Changes in the number of sunspots cause only slight changes in the sun’s radiation, but these changes are amplified many fold by the radiation’s interaction with 1) ozone in the upper stratosphere, and 2) clouds in the lower troposphere.  The sun’s energy output that reaches earth varies only slightly (about 0.1 percent) throughout most 11-year solar cycles.  However, in ultra-long cycles (since the Maunder Minimum) the irradiance changes are estimated to be as high as 0.4%.


In 2008 the minimum for Solar Cycle 23, shown in Figure 2, had  266 days with no sunspots.  This is considered a very deep solar minimum.  You can check out pictures of sunspots—or their absence—day after day for recent years for yourself.


We are currently over five years into Solar Cycle 24. We should be at the maximum for this cycle, but in Figure 3 the smoothed sunspot number maximum for this cycle is only about 67, reached in the summer of 2013. That’s about half of the maximum in Cycle 23, which peaked in early 2000, and less than half the maxima of Cycles 19, 21 and 22 shown in Figure 2. This is a very ominous picture: it portends an extremely weak Cycle 25—meaning much more cold weather is ahead, not global warming.

At least as far back as 2007—before Cycle 23 had bottomed—a Russian solar physicist, predicted what we are seeing now.  Professor Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, noting that solar irradiance had already begun to fall, said a slow decline in temperatures would begin as early as 2012-2015 and lead to a deep freeze in 2050-2060 that will last about fifty years.  He said the warming we’ve been witnessing was caused by increased solar irradiance, not CO2 emissions:

“It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth’s oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (boldface added.) So the common view that man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations.”

Further, debunking the very notion of a greenhouse effect, the celebrated scientist said:

“Ascribing ‘greenhouse’ effect properties to the Earth’s atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated. Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away.”

In a paper published in 2009, Abdussamatov wrote that there have been 18 Maunder-type minima of deep temperature drops in the last 7500 years, “which without fail follow after natural warming.” And, correspondingly,

“While in the periods of high sunspot maxima, there have been periods of global warming. Such changes in the climate of the Earth could be caused only by lasting and significant changes in the Sun, because there was absolutely no industrial effect on nature in those times.

“We would expect the onset of the phase of deep minimum in the present 200-year cycle of cyclic activity of the Sun to occur at the beginning of solar cycle 27; i.e., tentatively in the year 2042 plus or minus 11 years, and potentially lasting 45-65 years.”

Regarding analyses of ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica, Abdussamatov wrote:

“It has been seen that substantial increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global climate warming have occurred cyclically, even when there was as yet no industrial action on nature. It has also been established that periodic, very substantial increases in the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere for a period of 420 thousand years never preceded warming, but, on the contrary, always followed an increase in the temperature with a delay of 200-800 years, i.e., they were its consequence.”

In an update in October 2013, Abdussamatov warned, “We are now on an unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop.”

Abdussamatov’s  conclusions about global cooling came from his studies of the sun, but another scientist came to a similar conclusion by studying ocean currents.  Don Easterbrook, a geology professor and climate scientist, correctly predicted back in 2000 that the earth was entering a cooling phase.  He made his prediction by tracing a “consistently recurring pattern” of alternating warm and cool ocean cycles known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).  He found this cycle recurring every 25 to 30 years all the way back to 1480.  Projecting this forward, he concluded “the PDO said we’re due for a change” and that happened.  No warming now for 17 years.

Asked by CNSNews about the IPCC, Easterbrook said they,

“ignored all the data I gave them…every time I say something about the projection of climate into the future based on real data, they come out with some modeled data that says this is just a temporary pause…I am absolutely dumfounded by the totally absurd and stupid things said every day by people who are purportedly scientists that make no sense whatsoever….These people are simply ignoring real-time data that has been substantiated and can be replicated and are simply making stuff up.”

He said they are driven by money and power and added, “What they’re  doing in the U.S. is using CO2 to impose all kinds of restrictions to push a socialist government.”

Is it true that the global-warming issue has become a front for a political ideology? Has it become a tool for increasing government control over our lives, not just in the U.S. but all over the globe?  In 2010 a leading member of the United Nation’s IPCC said, “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.” Now it’s not about saving the environment but about redistributing wealth, said Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group III and a lead author of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007). “We redistribute the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

Investors Business Daily reported: “Developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community” said Edenhofer,” and so they must have their wealth expropriated and redistributed to the victims of their alleged crimes.  U.N. warm-mongers are seeking to impose a global climate reparations tax on everything from airline flights and international shipping to fuel and financial transactions….Given this administration’s willingness to compromise American sovereignty, we could soon see Americans taxed to fund a global scam—the ultimate form of taxation without representation.

Edenhofer told a German news outlet (NZZ AM Sonntag ): “Basically, it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.”

The Cancun agreement set up a “Green Climate Fund” to administer assistance to poor nations suffering from floods and drought due to global warming. The European Union, Japan and the United States have led pledges of $100 billion per year for poor nations up to 2020, plus $30 billion in immediate assistance.

The Cancun agreement says it “recognizes that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science” and calls for “urgent action” to cap temperature rises.  At the Cancun conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned, “Nature will not wait….Science warns that the window of opportunity to prevent uncontrolled climate change will soon close.” That is funnier than Groucho Marx.  (Well no, not really—but just as preposterous.)

The IPCC regularly submits its reports to its Expert Reviewers Panel. As you might expect, most of its appointments to this panel have been supporters of global warming. A few nonbelievers have been included to give the appearance of balance, but their comments and questions have been routinely ignored as the IPCC focuses on what it claims to be the “consensus” view.

Only one person has been been on every IPCC Expert Reviewers Panel, dating back to 1990. That man is Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand. He submitted a very large number of comments to IPCC drafts, including 1,898 for the Final Draft of the 2007 report. Here are some of his comments from a letter he wrote on March 9, 2008:

“Over the period I have made an intensive study of the data and procedures used by IPCC contributors throughout their whole study range….Right from the beginning I have had difficulty with this procedure. Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely…

“I have been forced to the conclusion that for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound. Resistance to all efforts to try and discuss or rectify these problems has convinced me that normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organization from the very beginning. I therefore consider that the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. The only “reform” I could envisage, would be its abolition…

“The models are so full of inaccurately known parameters and equations that it is comparatively easy to  “fudge” an approximate fit to the few climate sequences that might respond…

“By drawing attention to these obvious facts I have now found myself persona non grata with most of my local professional associations, Surely, I am questioning the integrity of these award-winning scientific leaders of the local science establishment. When you get down to it, that is what is involved…

“Yes, we have to face it. The whole process is a swindle. The IPCC from the beginning was given the license to use whatever methods would be necessary to provide “evidence” that carbon dioxide increases are harming the climate, even if this involves manipulation of dubious data and using peoples’ opinions instead of science to “prove” their case.

“The disappearance of the IPCC in disgrace is not only desirable but inevitable…Sooner or later all of us will come to realize that this organization, and the thinking behind it, is phony.  Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens.”

Vaclav Klaus, former president of the Czech Republic and a university professor before he became president, is the author of a book on global warming and has spoken often on the subject. He says , “What frustrates me is the feeling that everything has already been said and published, that all rational argument has been used, yet it does not help.”

It does not help because global warming alarmism is not based on rational argument. It is not based on science. It is not based on reality. It is based on political ideology. If rational argument doesn’t fit, then phony arguments must be invented: the spread of malaria, the loss of biological diversity, oceans flooding, polar bears disappearing, Himalayan glaciers vanishing, etc. If global warming does not fit the observable temperature measurements, then a new “reality” must be invented to fit the ideology: actual temperature records must be altered or dismissed—hundreds of temperature-reporting stations in colder areas worldwide were eliminated from the global network so the average temperature is higher than when those stations were included link. Presto! Global warming. Ditto for carbon dioxide measurements: 90,000 CO2 measurements in 175 research papers were dismissed because they showed higher CO2 levels than desired, and various other studies were selectively edited to eliminate “uncooperative” measurements while claiming the cherry-picked remaining ones showed global warming link. The global warming advocates are not disturbed by all this because, in their view, ideology trumps reality!

Patrick Moore, a co-founder and director of Greenpeace, resigned because of its “trend toward abandoning scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas.” After the failure of communism, he says, there was little public support for collectivist ideology. In his view a “reason environmental extremism emerged was because world communism failed, the [Berlin] wall came down, and a lot of peaceniks and political activists moved into the environmental movement bringing their neo-Marxism with them and learned to use green language in a very clever way to cloak agendas that actually have more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalism than they do anything with ecology or science.”

“I think if we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically,” said Judi Bari, principal organizer of Earth First!

NASA Scientist James Hansen—notorious for his many inexplicable “corrections” to temperature measurements—virtually invented global-warming alarmism with his widely publicized testimony before the U.S. Senate in 1988 that he was 99% sure greenhouse warming was already underway.  He revealed a passionate hatred of capitalism and industrial development in an impassioned e-mail in 2007 denouncing the attention paid to errors in NASA temperature data:

“The deceit behind the attempts to discredit evidence of climate change…has a clear purpose: to confuse the public about the status of knowledge of global climate change, thus delaying effective action to mitigate climate change. The danger is that delay will cause tipping points to be passed, such that large climate impacts become inevitable…[T]he ones who will live in infamy if we pass the tipping points, are the captains of industry, CEOs in fossil fuel companies such as EXXON/Mobil, automobile manufacturers, utilities, all of the leaders who have placed short-term profit above the fate of the planet and the well-being of our children.”

On June 23, 2008, exactly twenty years to the day from his momentous Senate testimony, Hansen appeared before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. There he conjured up images of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals by claiming the CEOs of fossil fuel energy companies “should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”

Klaus states:

“We succeeded in getting rid of communism, but along with many others, we erroneously assumed that attempts to suppress freedom, and to centrally organize, mastermind, and control society and the economy, were matters of the past, an almost-forgotten relic. Unfortunately, those centralizing urges are still with us…

“Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people and nature friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior and our values….They don’t care about resources or poverty or pollution. They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them. I used to live in a similar world called communism. And I know it led to the worst environmental damage the world has ever experienced…

“The followers of the environmentalist ideology, however, keep presenting us with various catastrophic scenarios with the intention of persuading us to implement their ideas. That is not only unfair but also extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous, in my view, is the quasi-scientific guise that their oft-refuted forecasts have taken on….Their recommendations would take us back to an era of statism and restricted freedom….The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical—the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of the proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality…. We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society….It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.”

Since 1993, the U.S. federal government has spent $165 billion on climate change, $22.6 billion of it in fiscal year 2013.  This is not merely a total waste but propagates waves of additional wasting throughout the economy. These are far more expensive than that $165 billion.  Energy is the lifeblood of the economy.  When government, because of fears of carbon dioxide emissions, (1) prohibits new coal-fired power plants from being built, (2) issues new EPA regulations on CO2  for existing coal-fired power plants that puts them out of business, (3) impedes the development of shale gas, or (4) refuses to license oil pipelines—like Keystone—the price of electricity goes up.  Compulsory inefficiency is a waste.  It is a cost that should and could be avoided, and it is passed all down the line in products for industry as well as consumers.  Furthermore, it is added to by every processor, wholesaler, retailer, or distributor since their energy costs are higher, too.

In addition, when government subsidizes solar and wind projects—the most expensive and least reliable forms of energy—to substitute for fossil fuels, it is a further waste.  Subsidies do not make alternative energies economic, they merely transfer their high cost to others.  Taxpayers now and in future generations are  stuck with the continually rising federal debt for these and thousands of other government expenditures.

The federal debt, now at $17 trillion, is equal to the U.S. GDP (gross domestic product.) That debt does not include future costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which amount to $55 trillion, for a total of $72 trillion.  The GDP of the entire world, including the U.S., is estimated at $72 trillion.  Thus the U.S. is already obligated to pay an amount equal to what entire world produces.

There is no way the U.S. can repay what it has already borrowed.  Still, the government continues to spend more and borrow more.  The U.S. is in a unique position.  The Bretton Woods agreement in 1944 made the dollar the world’s reserve currency.  As a result, the U.S. is the only country in the world that can pay its debts by simply printing more of its own money.  That is what the Federal Reserve has been doing, more aggressively than ever in recent years.   In his first term of office, Obama added as much to the national debt as all the presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush combined. In the fifteen months following collapse of the housing/mortgage bubble in 2008, the Fed created more money than in all the years combined since 1913 when it was founded.

The monetary front is quiet for the moment, but the problems have not been solved.  The recent U.S. government partial shutdown and furor over increasing the debt ceiling accomplished nothing. The can was merely kicked a little further down the road, but the can is getting too heavy to kick much further, and there is not much road left.  As I explain in my recent book The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, and in postings on this blog, the world is turning away from the dollar.  It is increasingly obvious to everyone that the U.S. is never going to be able to repay what it has borrowed and the current situation cannot continue indefinitely.  Some sort of default will occur, and the dollar is going to lose its unique role as the world’s reserve currency.  Then the U.S. will no longer be able to continue its wild spending and ballooning of the national debt.  The balloon is going to burst.

Recently Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection.  The city has 88,000 street lights, but according to National Public Radio, fewer than half of them work. It reports, “In some parts of town, city block after city block is filled with streetlights that never come on.” The city doesn’t have the money for maintenance.  The city’s lighting department has 85 workers, down from its peak of 500.  Most of the poles are stripped of copper or the underground wiring is fried.  In 2008 Detroit had 317 parks, now just 107—and 50 of those are set to close. Only one-third of the city’s ambulances are in operation.  The short-handed police department takes 58 minutes to respond to citizen’s calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes.

The financial position of the federal government is worse than Detroit’s.  The day is coming when the federal government, like Detroit, will have to cut back on its spending even for far more important functions than combating global warming.  Why wait?  That funding should be eliminated now! [Originally posted at American Liberty]
Categories: On the Blog

Bans on GM Crops a Threat to Economy and Food Supplies

Somewhat Reasonable - March 11, 2014, 1:58 PM

Late last year, the government of the “Big Island” of Hawaii decided to ban growing of genetically modified (GM) crops. The decision represented the latest in a long assault on GM crops by uninformed pseudo-liberals, one that has continued unabated in recent years, in spite of the total implosion of the “scientific” justification of their case.

Adding hypocritical insult to injury, the island’s papaya industry, which makes extensive use of GM strains, has been exempted from the law. It is one further demonstration of the moral bankruptcy of policies designed to stifle businesses except for favored interests of the state. The exemption serves only to transform a foolish and misguided law into a crony-capitalist farce.

Mayor Billy Kenoi told reporters after the vote:

“Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world.”

The mayor echoed a sentiment shared by many people in the United States and around the world, a belief that GMOs in some way adulterate the natural crops and poison humans when consumed. Yet there is no substantive evidence at all that these sorts of crops do any of the nasty things of which they are accused. There is no evidence, apart from one discredited, and now retracted, paper that GM foods cause any undue health issues. Yet more than just harmless, GM foods have been absolutely critical to preventing famine in the developing world. Genetically modified dwarf wheat, for example, saved India from perpetual food crisis.

This rejection of hard science seems to stem from an unconsidered adherence to a kind of naturalistic fallacy (a naturalistic fallacy arises when one mistakes what is for what ought to be). GM opponents claim that the world is natural and good just the way it is, and that alteration would in some way be a harmful adulteration. It is the very same reasoning that drives opposition to programs like fracking, which appear to be aggressive assaults on unspoiled Nature. In the narrative created by the fallacy, humans become the aggressive polluter.

But that is not how the world actually is. We often see states of affairs, both within societies and in the environment around us that could be altered for the betterment of all. In the case of GM crops, beyond merely feeding the teeming billions of human beings who would have starved with only “natural” crops to rely on, scientists have helped make crops healthier and more nutrient-rich.

The fact is this: humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for millennia. Just because it was done more incrementally, and out in the field instead of in a laboratory, does not make it any less of a modification. The scientific method as applied to crop-rearing offers the same boons it has to all natural sciences, namely made it more rigorous and more conducive to human progress.

In order to maintain our own standards of living, and to help the people of the developing world survive at all, we need GM foods. With no demonstrated downsides and a cornucopia of benefits, it is astonishing that so many liberals want to see them destroyed. Let’s not surrender to the liberal scare tactics.

Categories: On the Blog

Why is the Left So Opposed to Darwinian Evolution in the Market?

Somewhat Reasonable - March 11, 2014, 1:22 PM

Leftists, on the main, are profound believers and espousers of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution – when it comes to  how the Earth and its flora and fauna have developed.

They also accuse we on the right of wholly dismissing it. (Well, I’m a buyer  — so too is just about every conservative I know. But leftists never allow facts  to get in the way of a good beating.)

Darwin’s theory of evolution is about wild, dynamic change — spontaneous,  ceaseless disruption of the status quo. Every organism is constantly evolving to  meet the demands of its environment. Which in turn changes the environment.  Meanwhile, every other organism must constantly adjust to all of this.

And round and round it goes. Adapt, or die.

Evolution’s fundamental contributing tenet is natural selection.

Natural selection is the gradual process by which biological traits become  either more or less common in a population as a function of the effect of  inherited traits on the differential reproductive success of organisms  interacting with their environment….

The term “natural selection” was popularized by Charles Darwin who  intended it to be compared with artificial selection, which is now called  selective breeding.

All of this sounds an awful lot like a free market economy. Species are  companies — the market, the environment. Only the capitalism evolution timeline is infinitely compressed. It doesn’t  take thousands of years for changes to occur — they happen instantaneously,  constantly, incessantly. And the price for natural selection changes for the worse are paid just as  fast — a good idea today can kill you tomorrow. “Want to buy a Tower Records, Eduardo?”

Nowhere is this spontaneous disorder on greater display than the  Internet-technology sector. It’s still a very nascent industry — so new ideas  are constantly being developed and introduced. In the distributed Web,  competition comes at you via myriad web strands — at multiple, acute angles.

It’s not just direct competition — where Facebook usurps MySpace. It’s new  competitors wreaking havoc from heretofore unseen sniper spots. Text messaging used to make cellular phone companies a ton of coin; free text  apps have now strip-mined that revenue stream. And Vonage now lets you place  calls via your Vonage account — on other companies’ broadband networks.  That’ll cut down on your minutes used.

Sounds like evolution on speed and steroids. The left should love it — except  they don’t. When it comes to the economy, they eschew the Darwinian  decentralized disorder that has created our diverse, beautiful planet — and  instead demand ossified, centralized planning.

The left loves Network Neutrality.  A top-down government Internet uber-regulation that in multiple directions  prohibits Natural Selection — and ultimately, a private sector Internet.

“At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely  eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But  the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable  companies and to divest them from control.

Central planning doesn’t get more central or planned than that. And how is  this anti-Darwinism applied?

“Consumer groups are outraged about a potential plan for ESPN to subsidize  smartphone data  usage, saying it  would violate the principle of net neutrality,” a story at The Hill read recently.

Get that? Leftist “consumer groups” want the  government to block an evolutionary next step — a private company making  things cheaper for consumers. How is that in consumers’ interest?

If it works, all the better, for everyone. Natural selection will have others  emulating them, and the downward price pressure  will continue to expand. If it doesn’t, natural selection will make it go  away.

But it’ll probably work. ESPN’s proposal is really just Darwin-esque  copycatting of successes elsewhere. Ever heard of an 800 phone number — where a  private company pays for your call to them? Or free shipping —  where a private company pays to deliver you the goods you purchased from  them?

Central planning doesn’t get more central or planned than that. And how is  this anti-Darwinism applied?

“Consumer groups are outraged about a potential plan for ESPN to subsidize  smartphone data  usage, saying it  would violate the principle of net neutrality,” a story at The Hill read recently.

Get that? Leftist “consumer groups” want the  government to block an evolutionary next step — a private company making  things cheaper for consumers. How is that in consumers’ interest? If it works, all the better, for everyone. Natural selection will have others  emulating them, and the downward price pressure  will continue to expand. If it doesn’t, natural selection will make it go  away.

But it’ll probably work. ESPN’s proposal is really just Darwin-esque  copycatting of successes elsewhere. Ever heard of an 800 phone number — where a  private company pays for your call to them? Or free shipping —  where a private company pays to deliver you the goods you purchased from  them?


[Originally published at dailycaller.com]


Categories: On the Blog

The Continuing Relevance of F.A. Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’

Somewhat Reasonable - March 11, 2014, 9:34 AM

Austrian economist, F.A. Hayek (1899-1992) was already famous as the leading free-market opponent of the emerging Keynesian Revolution in the 1930s. He also was one of the most prominent critics of socialist central planning, having helped demonstrate why government management of an entire economy was inherently unworkable, and could never “deliver the goods” as efficiently and effectively as competitive capitalism.

Published During Global War and Socialist Dangers

Now, in “The Road to Serfdom,” Hayek showed that government planning was not only an economic disaster, but also more tellingly a political system of control and management that threatened to bring about the end of human freedom.

When the book was published Great Britain and the United States were engulfed in a global war with Nazi Germany as the primary enemy and Soviet Russia as the primary ally. In 1944 the British had a wartime coalition government of both Conservative and Labor Party members, with Winston Churchill as its head. During these war years plans were being designed within the government for a postwar socialist Britain, including nationalized health care, nationalized industries, and detailed economic planning of industry and agriculture.

For the eight years before America’s entry into the war Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal had transformed the United States through levels of government spending, taxing, regulation, and redistribution the likes of which had never before been experienced in the nation’s history. Many of the early New Deal programs had even imposed a network of fascist-style economic controls on private industry and agriculture; fortunately, the Supreme Court had declared most of these controls unconstitutional in 1935.

At the same time, the Soviet Union was frequently portrayed as a model – however rough around the edges – of an ideal socialist society, freeing “the masses” from poverty and exploitation. The Nazi regime, on the other hand, was usually depicted as a brutal dictatorship designed to maintain the power and control of aristocratic and capitalist elites that surrounded Hitler.

Nazism an Outcome of Bismarck’s Welfare State

Hayek’s challenge was to argue that German Nazism was not an aberrant “right-wing” perversion growing out of the “contradictions” of capitalism. Instead, the Nazi movement had developed out of the “enlightened” and “progressive” socialist and collectivist ideas of the pre-World War I era, which many intellectuals in England and the United States had praised and propagandized for in their own countries.

It was in Bismarck’s Germany, after all, that there had been born the modern welfare state – national health insurance, government pension plans, regulations of industry and the workplace – and a philosophy that the national good took precedence over the interests of the “mere” individual. In this political environment Germans came to take it for granted that the paternalistic state was meant to care for them from “cradle to grave,” a phrase that was coined in Imperial Germany.

Two generations of Germans accepted that they needed to be disciplined by and obedient to the enlightened political “leadership” that guided the affairs of state for their presumed benefit. Beliefs in the right to private property and freedom of exchange were undermined as the regulatory and redistributive state increasingly managed the economic activities of the society for the greater “national interest” of the German fatherland.

By 1933, when Hitler came to power, the German people not only accepted the idea of the “führer principle,” Hayek argued, but many now wanted it and believed they needed it. Notions about individual freedom and responsibility had been destroyed by the philosophy of collectivism and the ideologies of nationalism and socialism.

But Hayek’s main point was that this tragic history was not unique or special to the German people. The institutional changes that accompanied the implementation of socialist and interventionist welfare-state policies potentially carried within them the seeds of political tyranny and economic servitude in any country that might follow a similar path.

Government Planning Means Control over People

The more government takes over responsibility for and control over the economic activities of a society, the more it diminishes the autonomy and independence of the individual. Government planning, by necessity, makes the political authority the ultimate monopoly, with the power to determine what is produced and how the resulting output shall be distributed among all the members of the society.

What freedom is left to people, Hayek asked, when the government has the ability to decide what books will be printed or movies will be shown or plays will be performed? What escape does the individual have from the power of the state when the government controls everyone’s education, employment, and consumption?

He also warned that the more that government plans production and consumption, the more the diverse values and preferences of the citizenry must be homogenized and made to conform to an overarching “social” scale of values that mirrors that hierarchy of ends captured in the central plan.

Fulfilling the Plan Requires Obedience

One of Hayek’s central points was the fact that a comprehensive system of socialist central planning would require the construction and imposition of a detailed system of relative values to which and within which all in the society would have to conform, if “the plan” was to succeed.

This was the origin of Hayek’s warning that government central planning ran the danger of becoming tyranny and a new form of “serfdom,” since any meaningful dissent in word or deed could not be permitted without threatening the fulfillment of the goals of the plan. All would have to be assigned to their work, and be tied to it to assure “the plan” met its targets.

Even dissent, Hayek warned, becomes a threat to the achievement of the plan and its related redistributive policies. How can the plan be achieved if critics attempt to undermine people’s dedication to its triumph? Politically incorrect thoughts and actions must be repressed and supplanted with propaganda and “progressive” education for all.

Thus unrestricted freedom of speech and the press, or opposition politicking, or even observed lack of enthusiasm for the purposes of the state becomes viewed as unpatriotic and potentially subversive.

No Rule of Law, and the Worst Get on Top

In addition, the classical liberal conception of an impartial rule of law, under which individuals possess equal rights to life, liberty, and the peaceful acquisition and use of private property, would have to be replaced by unequal treatment of individuals by the political authorities to assure an ideologically preferred redistributive outcome. But, asked Hayek, by what benchmark, other than prejudice, caprice, or the influence of interest groups, would or could the planners make their decisions?

Finally, in one of the most insightful chapters in the book, Hayek explained why, in the politicized society, there is a tendency for “the worst to get on top.” Fulfillment of the government’s plans and policies requires the leaders to have the power to use any means necessary to get the job done. Thus those with the least conscience or fewest moral scruples are likely to rise highest in the hierarchy of control. The bureaucracies of the planned and regulated society attract those who are most likely to enjoy the use and abuse of power over others.

Hayek died on March 23, 1992, at the age of 92. In the 22 years since his passing, “The Road to Serfdom” has come to be seen as one of the greatest political contributions of the twentieth century. Indeed, it played a very crucial role in stemming the tide toward totalitarian collectivism in the decades that followed World War II.

The Relevance Today of Hayek’s Warnings

The fundamental insights and truths of his analysis about the dangers from an ever encroaching paternalistic and interventionist government are no less valid now than when he wrote “The Road to Serfdom” in the midst of the Second World War.

Think of the mounting corruption from special interest groups feeding at the trough of government spending; or the misuse and abuse of intrusive power into people’s lives in the name of “national security”; or the imposition of a paternalistic scale of values concerning presumed “fair wages” and “progressive” redistribution of income and wealth; or the misguided and dangerous presumption that those in political power know better how people should live than those people themselves; or the arrogant discarding of the Rule of Law and constitutional procedures and restraints.

All of these fearful trends in modern-day America show why reading and learning the lessons offered in Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” is as important now as it was in 1944, when the book first appeared in print.

[First published at Epic Times.]

Categories: On the Blog

Useless Myths: Daylight Savings Time and Groundhog Day

Somewhat Reasonable - March 11, 2014, 12:43 AM

One of these figures is ridiculous. The other is a rodent who predicts the weather.

By long-standing tradition, Groundhog Day comes every February 2. On that date, tradition holds, Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is wrested from his burrow and, if he sees his shadow, the people will have six more weeks of winter. (Punxsutawney must be a sunny place, for the official beginning of spring – March 21 or thereabouts – is always the same six or seven weeks from February 2.)

For some of us, however, Groundhog Day came last weekend, which is when most of the U. S. set its clocks ahead one hour in annual observance of “Daylight Savings Time.” And, just as in the Bill Murray movie of the same name, we are forced to relive what we just went through.

Begun in 1916 as an effort to conserve resources, Daylight Savings Time supposedly realigns the workers’ clock more closely with the longer daylight hours of the sun, which rises and sets higher in the northern hemisphere sky the closer to the summer solstice we get. This, in theory, should make workers happier and more efficient by giving them longer work daylight work hours – but does it really?

For many of us, tired from a long and dreary winter – and this past one has seemed longer and drearier than most – Daylight Savings Time throws us back on our heels. After three or four months of cold, depressing dark, we had finally reached the point at which – miracle of miracles! – our wakeup time was finally again coinciding with the sunrise. On all but the cloudiest and snowiest days we would get just a hint of brightness, and on cold and clear ones a nice, bright, sunny sky was a welcome invitation to the new day.

Now we are back in the darkness for another four to six weeks, just as Punxatawney Phil predicted.

Happy Goundhog Day indeed!

Categories: On the Blog

Wealthy Environmentalists Push Democrat Harry Reid to Lean-In to Green Energy

Somewhat Reasonable - March 10, 2014, 12:12 PM

Democrats have decided to lean-in, not back-away, from so-called clean energy. Despite the embarrassing history of government-funded green-energy failures, “wealthy environmentalists are pushing Democrats to take bolder positions on climate change”—and global warming, as an issue, provides the impetus for more green-energy spending.

The Boston Globe reported on a recent “summit between Washington’s liberal elite and San Francisco’s climate intelligentsia” that included “Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, six other senators, and … Al Gore.” The Globe points to new efforts by Democrats to “make global warming a central issue during the midterms.”

Reid has, according to the Globe, “pledged to allot time to anyone who wants to discuss climate change at party lunches or on the Senate floor.” He needs to keep the ruse alive because he is connected to more than $3 billion in Energy Department green-energy deals that helped him get reelected in 2010—behavior that has earned him the moniker: “one of America’s most corrupt politicians.”

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), has planned an all-night talkathon on the subject that will take place on Monday, March 10—about which Boxer said: “So many Senators coming together for an all-night session shows our commitment to wake up Congress to the dangers of climate change.” According to a press release from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 28 Senators will be participating—slightly more than one quarter of the Senate.

Apparently they don’t want to miss out on the $100 million in campaign cash the “wealthy environmentalists” have committed to cooperative candidates—while also “threatening to withhold money from candidates in swing states who support the Keystone oil pipeline.”

The Globe quotes Wade Randlett, a renewable energy entrepreneur who co-hosted the San Francisco fundraiser, as saying: “What was really energizing is everyone understood clean energy would be at the forefront of the Senate agenda. It wasn’t back-away; it was clearly lean-in.”

So, who are these “wealthy environmentalists,” who are driving the agenda and making powerful U.S. Senators jump like an organ grinder’s monkey to do their bidding? The answer is found in Christine Lakatos’ newest report for the Green Corruption Files: The dark, driving force behind the president’s massive green-energy scheme.

Since 2012, Lakatos and I have partnered to expose Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal. She does the research and writes the thorough exposé on the chosen topic and, based on her work, I write the overview report and link to the Green Corruption File for those who want the full story. Our collaborative efforts have been cited by prominent commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin, and referenced in many news stories.

Lakatos focuses on left-wing think tank, Center for American Progress (CAP) founded by John Podesta—who is now serving as White House counselor specializing in climate change issues. The Huffington Post (HP) says this about CAP and Podesta: “John Podesta probably is and has been the most important opinion leader for progressives in America in the last decade, certainly during the term of the Obama Administration, through his leadership of the Center for American Progress (CAP).” HP points out: CAP has “been a vocal voice for this president’s policies in the media and on the Hill. But their area of highest visibility is advocacy for a clean energy economy where John Podesta has personally led the effort.”

Podesta is the organ grinder from within the White House and progressive political platforms. Tom Steyer is now doing the same from outside Washington—leading “San Francisco’s climate intelligensia.”

Lakatos chronicles many key players with readily recognizable names who have connections to the Obama White House, CAP, and green energy projects. They include Lawrence Summers, Carol Browner, Steve Spinner, and Van Jones—as well as many others who have been heavily involved but have maintained a lower profile and corporate donors that are tied to tens of billions of green energy funds. However, in light of his recent political-influence reveal, Tom Steyer—CAP Board Member and donor, Obama bundler, and host of the recent “summit” (held on his 1800-acre ranch, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge)—is worthy of special attention.

Lakatos states: “Like most prominent Obama fundraisers, Steyer has enjoyed relatively easy access to the White House, and as of the summer of 2012, it was reported that he had met with senior White House officials in the West Wing on at least four occasions. Steyer was even handpicked to make a cameo appearance at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.”

Steyer founded and was the Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management—until late 2012 when the firm’s partners bought out his “profit share.” His net worth is estimated to be $1.55 billion—some of which is reported to have been made through millions of dollars worth of shares his firm invested in big oil companies such as BP and pipeline company Kinder Morgan. Fox News reports: “He continues to have significant investments with Farallon, according to a spokesman, Steyer has directed the fund to ‘green’ his portfolio and divest him of all positions in oil and coal—including Kinder Morgan.”

Regarding his recent interest in California’s blooming green-technology industry, the New York Times (NYT) quoted Steyer as saying: “really what we’re fighting is self-interested dirty-energy companies.”

Having made billions through “dirty-energy companies,” Farallon Capital Management has been greening its portfolio. The NYT cites Steyer, when he was still with Farallon, as “the main financial backer of Greener Capital [now EFW Capital], a venture firm that invests in renewable energy start ups.” A 2012 Washington Free Beacon report points out some of Farallon’s other green-energy investments:

Farallon owns nearly $14 million worth of shares of Westport Innovations, the self-described “global leader in natural gas engines.” The Westport Carbon Project (WCP), according to its website, “was established to monetize the carbon emission reductions associated with the Westport HD engine, the Cummins Westport ISL G and other natural gas engines developed with our OEM partners. The WCP enables customers to earn annual carbon rebate cheques for the natural gas vehicles in their fleet as of January 1, 2010.”

Farallon also owns more than $8 million worth of shares of Fuel Systems Solutions, which according to its website “designs, manufactures and supplies proven, cost-effective alternative fuel components and systems for transportation and industrial applications. Its gaseous fuel technology for propane (LPG) and natural gas (CNG) generates savings, reduces emissions, and promotes energy independence.”

While a 2011 Forbes profile on Steyer quotes him as saying: “I am a true believer that we have to change the way we generate and consume energy in the United States,” it would also be easy to view his combined investment and politicking efforts as “self-interested,” as he does stand to profit from the polices he’s promoting.

Senator David Vitter (R-LA), in the Fox News story accuses Steyer of having financial interest in the death of a pipeline he opposes on environmental grounds. Vitter says: “I think it’s hypocrisy, quite frankly. Who knows when he’s going to divest of these investments … maybe in a few months when his helping kill Keystone will boost them up to top value. … Who knows?”

According to Steyer spokesman Chris LeHane, “This divestment has been taking place consistent with the applicable legal requirements.”

Steyer calling traditional energy companies “self-interested” is like the presumed morally superior pot calling the proven economically superior kettle black. Perhaps he really is a “true believer.” If so, he should remove himself from any form of financial gain he can reap from his political activism and donations. But maybe, like I do, those self-interested oil companies truly believe that developing our own resources to provide all Americans with energy that is efficient, effective and economical is in America’s best interest.

The 2014 elections give Americans the opportunity to decide whether they side with the 28 Democrat Senators at Monday night’s sleepover who are dancing at the behest of the organ grinders—or if we want to learn from the mistakes of their failed green-energy projects only profiting the wealthy while robbing taxpayers, raising electricity rates and hurting the poor.

Do we lean-in or back-away?

[Originally posted at finance.townhall.com]
Categories: On the Blog

What’s The Deal With Global Warming? A CPAC Panel

Somewhat Reasonable - March 09, 2014, 12:36 AM

Heartland Institute President Joe Bast moderating the climate panel at CPAC 2014.

Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast on Thursday moderated an excellent panel discussion about the current state of climate science at CPAC 2014. He was a great choice as moderator considering Heartland is known around the world (according to The Economist magazine) as “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.”

The observable data continues to defy the climate models of the alarmist scientific community, while the “realist” scientists — who follow the data and adhere to the scientific method — are increasingly vindicated as the years pass.

That fact — and many others — are discussed by the distinguished CPAC panel:

Watch the discussion below … and watch this space for news about Heartland’s next international conference on climate change, coming July 7-9 in Las Vegas!


Categories: On the Blog

EPA Attacks Prospect of World’s Largest Copper Mine

Somewhat Reasonable - March 07, 2014, 1:14 PM

I could write every day about some new obscene Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to thwart energy the nation needs, forcing the shutdown more coal-fired plants and the mines that supply them. Goodbye thousands of jobs, goodbye electrical energy.  The White House has delayed the construction of the Keystone Xl pipeline to transmit oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Do you wonder, still, why there are millions of Americans out of work or who have stopped looking because every effort to build the nation’s economy is attacked by some element of the Obama Administration.

We can now add another attack on natural resources because the EPA has announced its intention to restrict, if not prohibit, the development of Pebble Mine in Alaska. The mine could be one of the world’s largest sources of copper.

Beyond the economic benefits the mine would create, it would not only produce copper, but strategic metals like molybdenum and rhenium. Daniel McGroarty, the president of the American Resources Policy Network, noted in a July Wall Street Journal opinion that these two metals “are essential to countless American manufacturing, high-tech, and national security applications.”

Copper is one of the most important minerals used today because it is a good conductor of heat and electricity—second only to silver in electrical conductivity. It was discovered thousands of years ago in prehistoric times. Methods for refining copper from its ores were developed around 5,000 CE and, though too soft for many tools, when mixed with other metals, the resulting alloys were harder. The entire Bronze Age owes its name to the mixture of copper and tin. Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc.

McGroarty pointed out that “The irony here is that renewable-energy industries that environmentalists champion, like solar and wind, rely heavily on copper. More than three tons of it are needed for a single industrial wind turbine.” Solar panels depend on copper as well. And electric cables, usually made of copper, transmit the energy these two favored “renewable energy” sources. Together, though, they represent less than 3% of the electricity generated.

Expecting environmental groups to make any sense or even to tell the truth is a waste of time. The Pebble Mine is opposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, and Trout Unlimited. The EPA claims to have researched the environmental impact of the Alaskan mine and concluded that it poses a serious risk to the salmon fisheries and native tribes in the Bristol Bay area.

EPA research is so wretchedly flawed that the Agency is still insisting that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for “global warming” even though the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996. None of the children born since then have ever spent a day experiencing a warming cycle.

The EPA has been engaged in its own interpretation of the Clean Air and Clear Water Acts. The Supreme Court, which erroneously ruled that CO2 was a “pollutant” in April 2007—it is vital to all life on Earth, providing for the growth of all vegetation—has just heard oral arguments for a case that could further ruin the nation’s economy. Environmental groups and the Obama administration argued that the EPA has the authority to require that power plants and other industrial facilities must get permits to emit carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases even though they have no effect at all on the Earth’s climate.

I often wonder why most Americans are so clueless about global warming. AKA climate change, and the rape of the nation’s economy by the EPA.

So we can anticipate that, when the partnership of those seeking to open the Pebble Mine does apply for a permit, we already know that the EPA will reject it. Gina McCarthy, the current EPA administrator, has made that clear. You can be sure that the EPA’s “research” has predetermined that outcome.

That’s not science. That’s just more environmental lies.

Those lies are a large component of why the nation is enduring an economic stalemate that is beginning to look like the next Great Depression. Those lies will try to stop the Pebble Mine and shut down more coal-fired plants. Those lies are the reason why so many potential new industrial and business enterprises are not being created.


Categories: On the Blog

FCC’s Open Internet Order Do-over – Key Going Forward Takeaways

Somewhat Reasonable - March 06, 2014, 10:55 AM

As the dust has settled from the D.C. Circuit’s January 14th decision to vacate and remand the FCC Open Internet Order for another try, and from FCC Chairman Wheeler’s February 19th statement accepting the court’s invitation to propose open Internet rules that could pass court muster, what does it all this mean going forward?

First, we need to glean the key separate baseline takeaways from what the court ruled and also what Chairman Wheeler initially decided. Then we need to put them together to glean what the big going-forward takeaways are.

Court Decision Takeaways

A big takeaway is that this court majority went out of its way to help the FCC and affirm its “general authority to regulate in this arena.”

While most of the coverage and analysis rightfully focused on the Court’s important denial of the FCC’s attempt to de facto regulate broadband providers as common carriers, many underappreciated the majority’s strong affirmation of the FCC’s broad authority under Section 706. It found the FCC’s assertion of 706-authority reasonable and supported by substantial evidence. It also concluded the FCC is due considerable deference by the Court on section 706.

After this big give to the FCC it also took away. The court drew a bright line that under the law an information service provider cannot be treated as if it were a common carrier p. 53, 60. Simply the FCC cannot legally compel an ISP to do something generally for everyone. However even here, the majority remained friendly to the FCC’s enforcement authority by providing a veritable roadmap p. 61 for how the FCC could navigate the court’s limits to achieve much of its no blocking and no discrimination goals in a redo mirroring the Court’s Cellco decision, which upheld the FCC’s data roaming rules.

Senior Circuit Judge Silberman’s dissent spotlighted how friendly the majority was to the FCC in ways that could make the FCC’s newly-affirmed 706 regulatory authority vulnerable to further appeal in the future under administrative law. Judge Silberman’s dissent effectively suggests the FCC should create a better evidence record and also should incorporate more market power analysis and its anti-competitive exercise in the future.

The big top-line takeaway from this court’s decision is that freedom-defined net neutrality is legal, while common carrier-defined net neutrality for broadband information services is illegal.

FCC Chairman Wheeler Statement Takeaways

The FCC acknowledged that the Court removed any real uncertainty over whether “the FCC has the legal authority to issue enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness” – it clearly does under Section 706 for the foreseeable future.

The most important takeaway here is that when offered the opportunity by the Court to reclassify broadband as a Title II common carrier service, Chairman Wheeler rejected that option, essentially affirming Chairman Genachowski’s fundamental judgment that reclassification as a policy matter is not necessary, warranted, or best for preserving the Open Internet.

“Unfairly,” was the most important word that Chairman Wheeler used in his statement, because “unfairly” effectively qualifies much of what his new rules intend to accomplish.

See: “…innovators cannot be judged on their own merits if they are unfairly prevented from harnessing the full power of the Internet…” para 3 and “…we can ensure that edge providers are not unfairly blocked, explicitly or implicitly, from reaching consumers…” para 7. [Bold added]

Words matter. The big takeaway here is that this particular key qualifying word — unfairly” – matters a whole lot because it signals a more FTC-like unfair-competition standard for the Open Internet rather than the traditional FCC common carrier qualifying words of “unjust and unreasonable” of Title II.

Importantly, an “unfair” standard is generally employed after the fact upon a complaint, whereas the common carrier standard of no “unjust and unreasonable discrimination,” is generally prophylactic economic regulation. Most importantly, an “unfair” standard presumes normal commercial price discrimination based on economics of speed, usage, quality of service guarantees, etc. are ok.

The tricky part of crafting new rules for the FCC will be threading the needle the Cellco-way that the court suggested p. 61, and resisting the institution’s natural tendency to overreach like it did in both the original Comcast net neutrality enforcement decision and the original Open Internet Order.

Overall Combined Takeaways

There are two big combined economic takeaways from the Court and Chairman Wheeler’s guidance.

First, economics and normal “individualized bargaining and discrimination in terms,” p. 50 are “commercially reasonable,” p. 50 fair, and pro-competitive behaviors; they are neither per se illegal behaviors nor discrimination in violation of openness.

This is extremely important because common-carrier defined net neutrality proponents have long tried to define different speed tier prices, usage based pricing, usage caps, and two-sided markets as anti-Internet freedom and anti-Internet openness — and per se illegal discrimination. We now know they are legal and not generally considered an FCC violation of Internet openness.

What the FCC must figure out is when normal legal economic behavior in a competitive market, somehow crosses some provable, principled, predictable, anti-competitive line to become a violation of Internet freedom or openness. That would appear to be like an after-the-fact, antitrust-ish or FTC Section 5-like, enforcement standard against deceptive or unfair business practices.

Second, two-sided markets, like in the Internet backbone peering market where Google, Microsoft, Netflix etc. pay for the cost of their asymmetric traffic, are now presumptively legal and not a violation of Internet openness under the Court and FCC Chairman Wheeler’s mutually-reinforcing guidance.

Specifically, the FCC cannot compel information service providers to generally offer free or zero pricing to edge providers. See: p.60 “In requiring that all edge providers receive this minimum level of access for free, these rules would appear on their face to impose per se common carrier regulation.

Thus the big takeaway here is that the practice of charging edge providers for their asymmetric Internet backbone traffic is not presumptively a net neutrality violation of Internet openness, but is a commercially reasonable practice. This clarity will further economically rationalize Internet prices with Internet costs and benefits over time.

In sum, there is a broad consensus and deep commitment in the broadband industry to abide by freedom-defined net neutrality adjudicated by the FCC that ensures a free and open Internet where users have the freedom to access the legal content and applications of their choice.

Now we also know that there is an unappealed court ruling that affirms the legality of freedom-defined net neutrality and the illegality of imposing common carrier-defined net neutrality on information services providers.


Categories: On the Blog

Los Angeles City Council Votes to Treat Much-Safer E-Cigarettes Just Like Dangerous Tobacco Cigarettes

Somewhat Reasonable - March 06, 2014, 10:29 AM

In a closer vote than expected, the Los Angeles City Council today voted not to carve-out an exception for bars in that city’s new ban on public vaping (the use of e-cigarettes, which emit smokeless vapor).

National Center for Public Policy Research Risk Analysis Director Jeff Stier testified at the hearing, encouraging the council members not to vote to ban all public vaping in Los Angeles, including in bars, where children are banned.

“The ‘precautionary principle’ should be applied to regulations… regulations should be narrowly-tailored to achieve a public health goal, and they shouldn’t do more harm than good… The science is very well developed on the dangers of smoking [tobacco cigarettes],” said Stier, who says e-cigarettes have helped many nicotine-addicted adults quit smoking tobacco cigarettes.

“Let me tell you one very serious consequence of a regulation like this without having an exemption for bars,” said Stier, who went on to explain to the city council that smokers currently must leave bars to smoke outside. And if vapers, that is, e-cigarette users who are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, are forced by regulations to go outside with the tobacco smokers to appease their nicotine habit, they will be more tempted to resume smoking tobacco.

As a public health policy, said Stier, “That’s nonsense! If you put them outside, they’re going to go back to smoking.”

The Los Angeles City Council ultimately voted 8-6 to treat vaping just like smoking, and not to allow an exception for bars, but the vote was closer than anticipated.

“This ban will be directly responsible for some former smokers going back to smoking – all in the name of ‘public health,’” said Stier.

“E-cigarettes do not re-normalize smoking,” Stier concluded. “They normalize not smoking.”

A video of Stier’s testimony in Los Angeles today is available on YouTube athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIGnT6LOX4o .

Stier has testified before states and localities in recent months about the relative safety of e-cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes. He says, “The vast majority of those who purchase e-cigarettes are adult smokers trying to quit. So discouraging the use of e-cigarettes actually incentivizes smokers to continue smoking.”

Stier is hopeful that as more elected officials realize the public health benefits of allowing the use of e-cigarettes, the more they will oppose policies, including e-cigarette bans and high excise taxes on e-cigarettes, that discourage people from using them to quit smoking tobacco.

New York City-based Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division. Stier is a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. Stier’s National Center op-eds have been published in top outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Newsday, Forbes, the Washington Examiner and National Review Online. He also frequently discusses risk issues on Twitter at@JeffaStier.

Stier has testified about e-cigarette regulation before the New York, Los Angeles and San Diego City Councils, submitted testimony to theOklahoma and Rhode Island legislatures has met with federal officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the Food and Drug Administration on the issue.

He’s written about the topic for the New York Post, the Huffington Post the Des Moines Register, and elsewhere.

Stier previously worked in both the office of the mayor and in the corporation counsel’s office during the Giuliani administration in New York City. His responsibilities included planning environmental agency programs, legal analysis of proposed legislation, and health policy. Mr. Stier also is chairman of the board of the Jewish International Connection, NY. While earning his law degree at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, he served two terms as editor-in-chief of the Cardozo Law Forum.

[Originally posted at JeffStier.org]
Categories: On the Blog

New Rules Could Undermine Successful Medicare Part D Program

Somewhat Reasonable - March 05, 2014, 4:36 PM

A new effort by the Obama Administration to change the Medicare Part D prescription drug program by imposing new rules on how the plans are set up and managed risk undermining what has been one the government’s few health care success stories. The proposed rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would hinder the ability of Medicare beneficiaries to choose the kind of private plan that works best for them and limit access to the drugs they need. The proposed rules would limit the number of Part D plans that can be offered in a particular region, weaken the current guarantee that certain classes of medications must be fully available to patients with serious illnesses and places limits of health plans to negotiation with pharmacies to reduce drug costs.

The key to Medicare Part D is competition. Under the Part D model, private insurance plans compete against each other for the business of senior Medicare recipients, offering different benefits, costs and levels of coverage. The program empowers seniors to choose which plan works best for them and the government subsidizes the premiums. This competition leads to lower prices for seniors. Negotiation between the plan providers and pharmacies also reduces prescription costs.

The rules have drawn sharp criticism from consumer and free-market groups. In late February, a coalition of 283 organizations representing patients, seniors, employers disabled Americans sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner calling for the withdrawal of the new regulations that would undermine the many successes of Part D while having “unintended consequences for seniors and beneficiaries with disabilities.”

The Healthcare Leadership Council outlined several major problems with the proposed rules that were presented in the coalition letter:

The regulations would limit the number of Part D plans that could be offered to beneficiaries.  “Millions of seniors and beneficiaries with disabilities would lose their current plan of choice or face changes in coverage,” they wrote.

Despite the clear intent of Congress that Medicare Part D should rely solely upon market-based pricing and private sector competition, the rules would “dramatically expand the federal government’s role in Medicare Part D despite the fact that there is no compelling reason for doing so.  Reshaping Part D in this way will neither improve quality and affordability, nor incentivize plan innovation,” the letter said.

New cost burdens imposed as a result of the proposed regulations “will drive higher premiums for millions of beneficiaries and lead to higher costs for Medicare without tangible gains in service or quality for beneficiaries.”

CMS’ proposal would have a dramatic effect on the number of plans available for seniors. A study by Avalere Health found that the rule change limiting the number of prescription drug plans (PDPs) per region could end up forcing 39 percent of all enhanced plans to be eliminated in 2016. The Avalere study also estimated that the regional limit, which holds standalone PDP sponsors to one basic and one enhanced plan per region would require “214 of the current 552 enhanced PDPs to be terminated or consolidated with an existing plan.”

The new rules would also dramatically increase the cost of the program. The National Taxpayers Union points to a study from the Milliman actuarial firm that concluded that the cost of Medicare Part D would increase by an additional $1.6 billion per year if the rules are adopted.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Health, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the President of the American Action Forum argued that reforming Medicare Part D and limiting competition violates the intent of the Medicare Modernization Act and will increase cost and decrease drug access for seniors.

From Holtz-Eakin’s testimony:

  1. The Medicare Part D program is a proven success story of bipartisan Medicare reform, making affordable prescription drug coverage available to seniors and the disabled;
  2. The proposed new rule titled “Medicare Program; Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs” clearly violates the intent of Congress when it passed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) and rests on a questionable legal foundation by interfering with the established negotiation processes;
  3. Policy analyses show the proposed rule is likely to raise costs for seniors, programs, and the federal taxpayers, unnecessarily harming the superb record that the competition-based design of Part D has built; and
  4. The rule imposes requirements that will decrease seniors’ access to vital prescription drugs.

Medicare Part D is not broken. Part D has proven that a modern, free-market model can replace a system of price controls and provide medications to the neediest of Americans, all at a lower cost than the old system. Instead of foisting unnecessary changes on an already successful program, legislators should be using the successful free market mechanisms at the heart of Part D as a model for other bidding processes within Medicare.

For more information on Medicare Part D and the misguided effort to reform the program, please visit the Heartland Institute’s website on the issue: http://savemedicarepartd.com/.

Categories: On the Blog

Video: Scott Cleland on Why We Need a New Communications Law

Somewhat Reasonable - March 05, 2014, 12:18 PM

Scott Cleland, successful entrepreneur and former Deputy Coordinator for Communications and Information Policy for the George H.W. Bush administration, has released a new video detailing the pressing need in America for a new communications law. The woefully out of date laws currently on the books are in desperate need of a 21st century re-write. Watch the short video to see what needs to be done to keep American telecoms free and competitive.


Categories: On the Blog
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